Showing posts from January, 2013


Just a short post tonight. I wanted to write something after being inexcusably idle from posting the last few days. So here I go ...

The inversion over the Salt Lake Valley lifted, only to be replaced by a snowstorm yesterday. But the toxic fog is gone. So what happens? Lori, Ben and I all have tickles in our throats. Lori theorized it's because our throats haven't been used to fresh air in weeks.

Michael played a basketball game tonight with his Boys & Girls Club team. This team drives him a little nuts because many of his teammates don't listen to their coaches and barely pass. That shouldn't be an excuse for him, but he doesn't quite play as hard as he does with his other teams. Tonight, this team played great and, for once, as a team. Michael responded with his best game in this league, playing great defense, pulling down about 7 rebounds, getting fouled in the act of shooting three times (alas, he was 0-for-6 from the free throw line), almost making a real…

The Nostalgia Files: Electronic Detective

(This is the second post in a series detailing all those things I should have never thrown out from my childhood. Click here for the first.)

In the late 1970s, electronic games were the rage. Home-based video games hadn't quite taken their massive hold yet, but games that interacted back with their players gained popularity in an increasingly technological world. Simon, Mattel Football, Merlin, Electronic Battleship and Speak & Spell were among the games that bleeped and flashed into my generation's hearts.

And then there was Electronic Detective.

After seeing this commercial with Don Adams of "Get Smart" fame many times in 1979, I asked for the game for Christmas. Santa obliged.

Essentially, you solved a murder devised by the computer by questioning suspects with cute names (e.g. Candy Cane), who had their own file cards with questions. You typed in a question, Electronic Detective gave an answer. You marked off answers on a worksheet, and if you got daring, tr…

Dog days of January

The inversion and cold weather that I complained about two weeks ago hasn't subsided. Yes, we had a blizzard in the meantime, but the temperature dropped as soon as the snow stopped. Though the air quality in past inversions has been worse, January has seemed even longer than usual.

It's been really long for the dog.

Popcorn's hair is too short to keep her outside in temperatures below 15 for too long. But she's too big to wear a sweater. And she's got too much inherent energy to keep inside day after day.

I have managed to get her out for a few walks when the cold has been not so bitter. Even around the block is better than nothing, but I can tell she's cold (though excited to be outside). Furthermore, I don't want to take long walks amid all the trapped smog. When it's too cold, we take Popcorn outside, she does what she needs to do (and takes an extra few seconds to find a spot she likes -- more difficult when all the scents are frozen in the snow), …

The Nostalgia Files: Dinosaurs

I've written often about my nostalgic streak, especially for games, toys, books, sports and music from my youth. Some of this is stuff I never actually owned as a kid -- music for example -- but much of it is things I once owned and discarded, not thinking I would miss these things or that they were obsolete. And as an adult, I've tried to recapture the tangible and intangible nostalgia that lives on the edge of my memories.

For example, as I type this, I'm editing out commercials of a classic "American Top 40" (which are rerun in syndication) that I recorded off an radio Internet stream. I have collected at least 20 of these since I figured out how to record them off my computer and my smartphone.

The AT40s notwithstanding, I've mostly exhausted the music quest. Sure, I do occasionally hear old songs that I forgot existed, but over the past 20 years, between record store searches (especially in the compilation section in Circuit City years ago), Napster, iTu…

Pooling our resources

Basketball games started this week for Ben and Michael (technically, Michael has been playing games since December, but his third league just began play tonight), just in time for another sport to start up as well: swimming.

The boys only do swim team during the summer, but the JCC offers preseason swim workouts twice a week. Michael did these workouts last winter, and it showed once he got to the regular season. So we signed him up again as well as Ben. Both boys were happy to get back into the water. Six months removed from the end of swim season, Michael's stroke looks great. Ben forgot a little bit of what he learned last year, but I'm sure he will get it back in the coming weeks.

However, adding these two weekly swim workouts has officially made our routine ridiculously busy. Tuesdays won't be too bad -- I take them to the pool, work out while they are swimming, bring them home. But Thursdays, when Michael has a basketball game at the JCC as well, will be nutty. Today…

Court is in session

Michael is in three basketball leagues this year. I'm coaching him in one league that plays its first game this season.

I'm also coaching Ben's team this year again. His first game is this week as well.

I'm a little nervous. As a coach, I want the kids to have fun. I want them coming away feeling like they played well and did something good, win or lose.

OK, I'll admit, I want them to win. I really don't want them to get blown out. I've been on both sides of a blowout as a coach. Part of me is afraid the kids will somehow hate the game if they get routed.

So, my stomach will be in knots Wednesday and Thursday when the boys' teams open their seasons. I'm not so worried about Ben's first/second grade team -- the roster is split between second-graders who know what they are doing and first graders who are eager. After coaching 1/2 teams the last two years, I know what to expect from the competition and know we'll hold up well.

However, Michael&…

The blizzard of '13

I wanted snow to blow out the inversion and the subsequent pollution. I didn't want 18 inches of snow.

The snow began to fall in Salt Lake City on Thursday afternoon. Here it is, just past midnight on Friday (technically Saturday morning), and I think it finally stopped.

The snow isn't heavy, so it was easy to shovel, but it still made a mess of the roads today. I haven't seen a plow down our street; even the freeways (conceivably, should be cleared first) were bad this morning when I tried driving to work (I ended up getting off the expressway and taking State Street in). Once we all got home, we hunkered down for the night, playing Monopoly and making pizza. Even Popcorn, who normally loves the snow, didn't want to be outside -- the snow was so deep she couldn't find a place to do her business.

I drove to get a haircut around noon, and as I was leaving, I saw a flock of geese, in V formation, honking as they flew through the snowstorm. I hope they found what they…

Cold pollution

We don't get ridiculously cold weather in Salt Lake City like Lori and I endured while growing up in the Midwest. We do get inversions, though -- pollution trapped in the valley by a high pressure, keeping SLC cooler than it should be and hazing out the sun. I can live with the tradeoff, but this current inversion is souring my mood.

Pollution-wise, we've seen worse since we got here. I know better not to do anything strenuous outside. This inversion has been colder than usual, however, and it's pissing me off. I'm not saying we need temperatures in the 50s, but 30s would be nice. I don't want to walk the dog and her more pointer coat (not as much hair as she would have if she was all lab) far when the temperature is in single digits. Michael has been begging me to take him sledding, but I don't want to deal with the cold and the haze. I know I lived through much worse in Chicago and Wisconsin, but after 12 years here, single-digit lows are too cold. To add ins…


Darkness. Ice. Cold.

I hate January.

January is stark. The night time seems more foreboding; the leafless trees stand alone and remind you how lifeless everything feels. The snow doesn't want to melt. The cold air fills your nose and lungs and attacks your fingers and toes.

I moved to Utah and got away from some of the bad winter only to encounter a different January feature: air pollution, trapped by the mountains and cold air above. The sky just looks gray even on sunny days.

January is foggy windows, ice scrapers and rock salt. It's short days and long nights. It's boots and winter hats. The snow that was so welcome in December is just a pain in January

But January is also a basketball month. It's driving to play hoops, leaving the gym, and returning to your car in an illuminated parking lot, over the snow, onto a cold seat.

January is "99 Luftballoons" and Tom Petty's "Don't Do Me Like That." It's "Good Morning Vietnam" an…

Finally, a victory

Jazz 106, Timberwolves 84.

At last, we took the boys to a Jazz game and the Jazz won. They got to see the streamers launch from the rafters onto the floor. They got to see some nice Jazz dunks and actual defense. The crowd didn't get too into the game because the Jazz led by double digits for the whole second half, but we still had fun.

We got a good deal on the tickets (with free pizza!) and bought them somewhat spur of the moment last week Lori hasn't been with us when I've taken the boys to a basketball game, so this truly was a family event. Our seats were upper deck but not too high up. Michael, and Ben and I roamed EnergySolutions Arena before the game and during halftime, and I bought Ben a Jazz jersey (every Al Jefferson jersey was 50 percent off).

We likely will see one more Jazz game this season, as well as a couple University of Utah games. I hope the boys are enjoying the game itself, but I can live with them just enjoying the experience.