Strange Things

Last night it was super windy. In the middle of the night I heard the gusts, and it sounded like our garbage cans blew over. This morning they had blown into the neighbors' yard, and some of their contents had blown away. This inadvertently solved a problem, because the can had been full and we had more bags that needed to be taken out...

[caption id="attachment_1610" align="aligncenter" width="574" caption="And these aren't small cans, either."][/caption]

Then when I was out on the parkway this morning, two trees had blown over onto the path that I had to climb around. I had noticed earlier that one of them had been chewed halfway through by beavers and hoped the parks people would cut it down, but I guess the wind saved them the trouble. When I came back that direction an hour or so later, though, they had already cut and removed them. Service!

Then, to top off the strange things, this suddenly plopped onto the pathway in front of me:



[caption id="attachment_1605" align="aligncenter" width="597" caption="Not often seen on land"][/caption]


There were a few seagulls wheeling high above me, so I guess one of them sort of lost its lunch. Anyway, an odd few hours.


A Day in the Life

First, today I finally took the plunge:


Yes, that's a maple bacon doughnut, courtesy of Beyond Glaze. And it was delicious.

Also today, I finally went to my parents' house to clear out the last of my possessions that I had left there. I could have just brought the 10 or so boxes back home, but I really did want to reduce the amount of useless junk I brought back to store at our house, so I went through a bunch of it. And it was really weird. There were lots of arts & crafts, but the really weird things were all the notes.

I threw away a hundred or more old notes and letters from friends in junior high and high school. In a way, it felt like I was amputating a limb, throwing away an old part of my life. I did find a few gems to keep, like some fun poems I did (I threw away all the really terrible angsty ones every teenager seems to write), and some cartoons. I might scan the cartoons sometime and give them their own post.

Anyway, it was strange but probably ultimately healthy.

Discipline: an Opportunity for Christlike Parenting

This is an article I wrote for Your LDS Blog. The whole post  can be seen here.

But It Ups My Adrenaline

Creepy: Being out alone in the woods at night.

Creepier: Being out along in the woods at night, and seeing sets of glowing eyes.

So I hesitate to do another running post so soon, since I know how exciting you all find it, but this is more about the environment than the running itself. For the most part I use the Jordan River Parkway that runs behind our house, but in the winter it’s dark on the weekdays when I go. So most of the time I go around the neighborhood, but last night I decided to brave the creepy darkness of the parkway.

Most of the area where I run has no houses bordering the trail, so it’s trees and wetlands. And, while there aren’t exactly bears and cougars roaming around the area, I still hear plenty of rustling in the bushes. And then there are the eyes, shining out of the darkness where my headlamp lights the way, and it ratchets up the creepiness another notch. Usually they are just cats, but last night I saw several deer walking around a campground. While deer are far from scary, they were still large shapes moving around in the darkness with glowing eyes.

I think I’ll stick to the neighborhood. At least I can enjoy the Christmas lights.

You Know You're a Parent When...

… getting 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep feels like you just spent a week relaxing on the beach.

… you’re content finishing a plate of food that someone else started.

… cleaning up bodily fluids is no worse than wiping up spilled milk.

… silence is your favorite sound.

… going to the store by yourself is a luxury.

… every TV show or movie you enjoy is suddenly full of unacceptable sex, violence, and bad language.

… the shoulders of all your shirts/jackets become permanently dirty.

… your fridge contains an inordinate number of hot dogs.

What else?

Waking Up

I posted not long ago about dreams and the point of diminishing returns. In fact, I mentioned the specific “dream” I am now looking at. I finally decided (again) that I want to run a marathon, specifically the Provo City Marathon next May. I chose it because you can register up to the day of the race, so if I get injured while training I won’t have to waste the registration money.

Anyway, I have been running longer runs in preparation, and last Saturday I did 15 miles for the first time. I’ve always loved running, even though it’s exercise, but now I find myself in the difficult position of not entirely looking forward to these really long runs.

So what is it worth to accomplish my goal? What if it costs me my enjoyment of running? If you get so deeply involved into something that it loses its fun, you are basically going from a hobby to a career. Ha!

I think I will stick with my plan for a few more weeks, at least. Maybe last week was just a fluke, and I’ll be all good to go from here on. But if it starts to become a chore, maybe I’ll have to abandon the dream in favor of a lifetime of enjoyment.

The Progression of Our Relationship with Christmas Ornaments

When you’re in elementary school, you make some in class. They’re charming and hand-made, but not exactly “professional” looking. Your parents hang them on the tree anyway, which makes you proud.

As you get a little older, your parents stop putting your ornaments on the tree. They go with fancy, color-coordinated ones.

You grow up and move out, and you start decorating your own trees. Being poor, you reclaim the ornaments you made from your parents’ basement to use.

You have kids, and they start making ornaments in school. You hang them on the tree, replacing the ones you made.

Your kids get older, and you can now afford nicer decorations. You box up the ornaments they made and put them in the basement.

Repeat.

The Queen's Dress Matches Her Shoes

I've posted before about how much I suck at chess. So I decided to download it onto my phone. Losing to the CPU is at least less publicly embarrassing than losing to a real person. So far I do feel like I’ve learned a couple things, and once I even forced a stalemate. That was a sweet feeling. One of these days, maybe I’ll win a game. Maybe.

No-way-in-el

I'd just like to start off by saying this: What is wrong with you people?

And by "people," I mean, "everyone but you." Relax, I'm sure you're the exception to what I'm about to complain about.

The problem can be summed up by this question commonly asked in December: "Are you all ready for Christmas?" Now, on the surface I know this is just supposed to be small talk, like "How are you?" But unlike that question, which usually prompts a quick "Fine" and then the conversation can progress, the Christmas question inevitably prompts an exasperated groan and a list of things to be done.

Why do we put ourselves through this? You don't have to have a holiday party. You don't have to spend $10,000 on decorations. You don't have to attend 50 functions thrown by other people. All the stress is avoidable.

Here's what my holiday preparations consist of:

1. Put up lights on the house (time required: 2 hours)

2. Put up a few decorations in the house, including the tree (time required: 1.5 hours)

3. Go to Toys R Us and buy whatever seems good for the kids. Maybe order a couple things online (time required: 2 hours)

Boom. Done. Maybe I'll order something online that Katie wants, or let her go shop for herself. The point is, it takes me less than a cumulative day to "get ready for Christmas." And I can enjoy the season, and contemplate its "true meaning" or whatever (don't get me started on that one) without feeling like I get an ulcer every year.

Why do people torture themselves in the name of enjoyment?

In Need of Resolution

I thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at the resolutions I made at the beginning of the year, to see how I did. Only… I could have sworn I wrote a blog post about it, but now I can’t find it. So, if writing that post was a resolution, I have failed. So let’s take a look at some other hypothetical resolutions that I could have made, and see how I did.


  • Write a book: Nope. Fail on that one. I did make incremental progress on one, but that was months ago.



  • Become financially independent: “Acquire massive debt and decades of responsibility” would be a more accurate description of purchasing a home. But I get a pass on this one if we look at it in the light of gaining the freedom that comes with home “ownership.”



  • Learn a new skill: Well, I did learn how to put in a sprinkler system, so maybe that counts.



  • Read: This is kind of a dumb one, since that’s half of what a writer does. But in my spare time I certainly read a bunch of books too.



  • Get in shape: This is a bit ambiguous, but I should end up running between 700 and 800 miles this year. I do remember that my original goal was 500, so that’s an A+. I’m not exactly Mr. Universe, but at least I am doing something for my health.



  • Spend more time with the family: This one is hard to call. Katie and I always try to minimize activities that keep us from being home. Aside from the time I’m out running, I’m pretty much always home if I’m not at work or in a church meeting I’m supposed to attend.



  • Stop smoking: Ha! I totally win this one, since I’ve never smoked in my life. Although, now that I think about it, I suppose that technically means I failed to “stop”…


How are you doing with your resolutions?

Thing I Would Like to Know # 6,329

Do sales of insulin spike in November and December? There's an awful lot of sugar around that time of year.

Tea Rex

[caption id="attachment_1568" align="aligncenter" width="577" caption="WOULD YOU LIKE SOME MORE EARL GREY?!?!"][/caption]

Just a Gumdrop?

Sometimes when I am tired I say extra strange things. Today I asked a coworker what he was eating, and he said, "Just a gumdrop."

Here is how I replied. "Just a gumdrop? You're talking about one of the great foundational creations of the American confectionary industry, upon whose shoulders stand such giants as Jelly Bellies and gummy worms! So show some respect!"

The funny thing is that I don't even really care about gumdrops one way or the other.

Peaks and Valleys

The other night I dreamed that I was climbing some of the highest mountains in the state. I was especially excited when I got to King's Peak, and I started climbing it with Adam and Jamie from Mythbusters. It was awesome, until a little girl crashed her bike (apparently the first part of the trail was paved, and we were riding) and she changed her mind about making the climb with us. So I had to take her back down the mountain while the other went on. Bummer.

Christmas Me Monster

I put Christmas lights up on the outside of the house the day after Thanksgiving. I was pretty proud of myself for getting it done early.

Then, that weekend I noticed another house in the neighborhood. Somebody had put up a lot of lights all over the house, and about a million lighted lawn decorations. The lights are presumably plugged into one of those control boxes that lets you create patterns of blinking lights. Then, apparently still unsure they would attract enough attention, they set the controls to "induce epileptic seizure." It's unnervingly distracting to drive by and watch the bizarre pattern of lights blinking on and off.

Now, I usually drive with my iPod plugged into an FM transmitter that broadcasts on a frequency unused by local radio stations. It kept getting all fuzzy in this same neighborhood area. One day I just turned it off as I drove down this street, and I started hearing Christmas music on that same frequency. Then I finally noticed that these people had put up a banner in their front yard telling everyone to tune in to 107.1 FM (the same frequency I use for my iPod), and admonishing us to "Enjoy the show!"

I don't even know what to say about this. Christmas decoration are nice. They make me feel like I'm celebrating the season, and cheer up the dark winter nights. But it makes me a little sick when decorations scream, "Look at me! And listen to me! Next year we'll add a reindeer petting zoo!"

*Update: I drove the family by there the other night, and my wife quickly noticed that the lights were blinking in time to the music they had playing. So that solves one mystery of the frenetic pattern. They also had a prerecorded announcement play between songs stating that people could donate to a charity (I think it was for diabetes), so I suppose in the end these people get a pass.... Humbug.

What Do You Say When a Bridge Collapses? Timber? Fore?

When you were in school, did you ever do that project where you build a bridge out of paper and see how many books you can put on it before it breaks? Well, I didn’t. But I understand the concept. And sometimes, when it’s been a hard week or two (or six years), I feel a little bit like that bridge. Once in a while it’s mental, when work or other responsibilities pile up, but for me it’s more often physical.

Usually it’s lack of sleep. I’ve been a parent long enough to be able to shrug off bad nights here and there without trouble, but several nights of five interrupted hours or less starts to add up. And then, due to stubbornness (which is often indistinguishable from stupidity), I keep up with my running schedule, which lately has had me doing 12 to 14 mile runs on Saturdays in addition to a couple shorter weekday runs.

Anyway, lately I feel a bit like I’m watching that paper bridge from a distance with a morbid curiosity, wondering when the whole thing will collapse under the weight of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

Brief

Last night as I was trying to get Allison to sleep, this thought came into my head: We really need more products named "pelican."