Something Fishy This Way Comes

I want to write this down before I forget it.

Last December we made a payment to a doctor for one of our maternity bills. The check bounced, which is of course our fault. Later we paid off the full amount when we got our tax refund, but a week or two later they ran that check again, so we paid twice. Katie talked to the bank and the billing company, and each blamed the other.

I finally went to the bank and determined that someone physically brought this check in a second time to cash it, which happened 10 days after we had paid the full amount. The management company said they didn't show this payment and eventually shifted the blame to the medical practice itself. They finally looked into it, and one of the partners called me. He showed that they did get this additional payment, but he also claimed that his bank automatically ran the check the second time. That doesn't square with what I understand. I believe someone was trying to embezzle money through the practice. At any rate, they are refunding our money, so I don't really care. But something still seems fishy.

Revenge of the Banana

This all started with a banana. As I've noted before, bananas are something I want to like but struggle with. But I think I've discovered how to like them better.

It's because I have this thing with maintaining my weight. My philosophy is that if I put on a couple pounds I work to eat better and get rid of it before I get overweight. But most people scoff if I make any kind of comment about trying to eat healthy. "Pssh, what do you have to worry about?" Well, I don't think I should make it harder on myself.

Anyway, I've been on one such cycle recently, trying to minimize foods with added sugar and stop with treats for a while. But breakfast is hard, because I love me some cereal. I love to have it in the morning, and then have a bowl before bed. But it's hard for me to figure out what to eat for breakfast without it. I love eggs, but you can have only so many before you get sick of them too.

So I decided to get some plain oatmeal, which I feel is pretty darn healthy. (Oh no! Carbs!) The first morning I had it (no salt or sugar added; literally plain oatmeal) it was horrible. The second day it was still pretty horrible. I've played around with a few things like slicing hard-boiled eggs on it (not bad). But the other day I noticed a banana on the table and, desperate for anything to change up the flavor, sliced some into the bowl. Delicious!

This could be the start of a beautiful (and very one-sided) relationship.

Look at My Watch. You Feel Yourself Getting Sleepy...

I wasn't going to post this, because it's boring. But then I realized that I don't care; it's something that has been on my mind, so I'm writing it.

I might be part magpie or raccoon or something, because I've always liked shiny things. Like watches. I remember getting a little blue watch in second grade and wearing it for years. I loved that thing. Maybe there's a correlation between liking watches and me being obsessed with getting places on time.

Anyway, several years ago I decided I wanted a watch with a digital representation of an analog dial, I don't know why. It just seemed novel. In 2013 I got one of the first commercial smartwatches, a Pebble. It let me do the digital/analog thing, as well as showing notifications from my phone, letting me control music, showing weather, and acting as a display for my running apps on my phone. It's first and foremost a watch, and with a simple e-ink display it gets several days of battery life.



I've been looking to upgrade my watch, and unfortunately I bet on the wrong horse, because Pebble is dead. So I'm looking at other options. One of the most common things I see is that people apparently want a fitness tracker. I'm not sure why we are so obsessed with counting our steps and quantifying sleep, but apparently we are. Personally, I want to get my notifications from my phone. I don't care about fitness trackers that don't work anyway.


I like Android, and the latest watch OS includes Google Assistant, so you can talk to your watch and get answers, which I think would be awesome. And getting a little GPS map on my wrist while driving seems safer than trying to use my phone while driving. You can do lots of other stuff, but with fancy LED touch screens and WiFi, the battery life on these things is miserable. You can maybe get a day's use if you don't do too much.

One alternative to that is to get a dedicated GPS running watch from a company like Garmin. They have advanced running metrics (more than you get just using your phone) and can display some of the notifications from your phone. Beyond that it's limited in its ability as a smartwatch, but it would be maybe a couple weeks of battery life. Basically I am choosing between battery life and the ability to do some things like respond to texts from my watch. What I really want is an Android watch with the Garmin features that can give me two days or more of battery life. Apparently that's not possible right now.

By this point I'm acknowledging that this is the ultimate #firstworldproblems post, and super boring. But as I said above, it's my blog. #noregrets

Sock It to Him

Sam started learning martial arts about three years ago, when we were living in Lehi. He took to it immediately, and was good about practicing. It helped hi build some confidence and self-discipline, as well as physical abilities. A lot of kids start that kind of thing and don't stick with it, but it's been a big part of his life.

When we moved he started at a new place here in Idaho Falls, with a style similar enough that he was able to pick up where he left off, and he earned his first degree black belt last fall. It was an incredible achievement for him, and the culmination of a lot of seriously hard work.



He's had this mentality of always wanting to be ready to defend himself, and he's even been complaining all winter about his heavy coat and boots limiting his mobility. That being said, he's never shown any aggression or bullying tendencies. I have complete trust in him in his interactions toward others.

Yesterday Katie informed me that he had hit a kid at school. I immediately figured he was defending himself, so I wasn't concerned. When I had a chance to talk to him about it, he told me the story.

There's a kid in his class who has been bothering him for some time, both at recess and in class when they had to sit next to each other. This boy is the kind of kid who will constantly pretend to poke you with scissors, getting as close as possible, while acting like it's all a joke. He was swinging his hands at Sam in karate chop motions yesterday at recess, and there were lots of kids around and Sam didn't feel like he could get away. So he socked the kid as hard as he could, right in the gut, and he dropped like a sack of potatoes. Sam apologized and made sure he was okay, and apparently the kid wasn't even really angry. His teacher heard about it, and she didn't care, knowing how this other kid is (she also adores Sam). I was proud of him for sticking up for himself.

I guess Sam heard indirectly that the kid said he probably wouldn't mess with him anymore. This is what I call the Ender Principle, for anyone who has read Ender's Game. If you have to fight someone, beat them badly enough and quickly enough that one confrontation is all it takes for them to leave you alone (but don't accidentally kill them). Nice job, Samuel.

Seriously Unpopular Opinion Alert

I've become much more keenly aware lately of the differences of opinion I have with other people. With the presidential election in particular, people whose opinions I value and respect have differed from mine, when I feel the reasons for my feelings are so obvious that anyone who thinks otherwise must be ignorant of the Truth. And I recognize that those feelings are wrong.

Of course, things are complicated. Several months ago, after yet another mass shooting, I wrote the following and very nearly posted it on social media. Then, realizing it would not foster open discussion but simply incite rancor, I decided against it. Here it is.


I'd like to share an opinion for once, bearing in mind that it may differ significantly from yours. And that's okay; we can disagree without animosity. Let me first say that I like guns, I enjoy shooting them, and although I don't own any I believe we have a constitutional right to own them.

I would gladly give up that right if there's even a chance that it would save one child's life.


I don't judge anyone who owns guns; every gun owner I know is sensible and responsible. And as I said, I like guns. But I don't know any way to legislate gun ownership for only the mature. I don't demand proof that gun control would reduce gun violence before action. I don't think we should wait to explore every avenue before we try anything. Rather, we should try everything, right now, to prevent these tragedies from happening. Let's stop the bleeding first, and then see what kind of ownership laws make sense as we conduct well-grounded, impartial research.



This has really become part of a larger issue of safety vs freedom. Much has been spoke about the immigration ban coming from the White House, ostensibly a measure to protect us from terrorism. There were several things shared online that highlight the flaws in this approach. First, an article from the New York Times that calls into question the specifics of countries from which immigrants are banned. Then some statistics tweeted from (of all people) Kim Kardashian.



Aside from the fact that the immigrants pose virtually no danger (immigrants from the countries that are on the banned list have been responsible for zero deaths on American soil, whereas countries under no restriction provided convicted terrorists such as those involved in 9-11), there are far more pressing issues of safety.

You guys, the Republicans just passed a measure through the House rolling back a ban on gun purchases by severely mentally ill people. Seriously, I don't even know how to get my point across here. Americans shoot and kill 5,000 of their own countrymen for every American killed by a terrorist. Why can't we use fact-based information for a discussion?

I may post something else about my feelings on Trump in general, but for now this is all I can say without going into some sort of manic state.




Nostalgia and the Double Standard

The other day while driving, rather than use my phone for music I popped the first CD I ever owned into the stereo. August and Everything After, by The Counting Crows. After 20-something years I still enjoyed listening to it. 


At the same time I recognized that the singer's voice can be really whiny, and some of their songs kind of ramble aimlessly, especially on later albums. But I still enjoy them for the most part.

It reminded me of how things we grew up with are given a different standard than things we are introduced to as adults. Many of us have a ridiculous movie we've enjoyed since childhood, but when showing it to a friend or spouse who hadn't seen it before, they think it's terrible. What is it about things we associate with our youth, that they get a pass on quality? 

There are other things too, from Kool-Aid to Kraft macaroni and cheese. I love all of them unashamedly.

Winter Update

Our adventure of Idaho winter continues. There's a solid layer of ice on all the non-main roads that has hardened to the point that no amount of traffic can weather it away. Things are hunkered down waiting another couple months for some semblance of spring.

One of the funniest things is the road leading out of our neighborhood. The layer of ice there is about 4 inches thick, with tire ruts on both sides of the street that actually reach the pavement. So you have traction there but can't help but feel that the car will get high centered on the ice.

The ruts, however, seem to have been formed by some of the many large trucks that abound in this habitat. My little commuter car isn't quite wide enough to comfortably fit on those ruts. As a consequence, I bounce back and forth in a way that reminds me of a car on rails at an amusement park. If you try to turn farther than the rail allows, you bounce back rather abruptly. It somehow makes me think of people crossing the plains in wagons, following the tracks made by those who went before.

We had a few days when it got down to -15 or -20 Fahrenheit. Our house had condensation freezing on the inside of the windows. I began to rethink the placement of our bed, right under the window, since it's considerably colder right there. Lessons for next winter, I suppose.

Running outdoors is something of an adventure as well. I didn't get out on those coldest days, but I've been out when it's been a little better, maybe a few degrees below zero. A couple years ago I purchased overshoes that have little steel studs on them for running on ice. I didn't have many chances to use them in Utah, but I use them all the time here. It's been good, but one day when it was below zero and the wind was blowing I realized I need to layer more if I don't want to freeze. My whole body felt numb by the time I got home after ten miles.

Still, we're happy here, and oddly the air still doesn't feel as dry as it did in Utah. Katie gets cracked and bleeding hands in the winter, but it hasn't been as bad. The kids have plenty of snow to play in (or did before it started sublimating and hardening). The cabin fever hasn't been too bad, but maybe a few more weeks of this will change things.

End.