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Showing posts from 2018

The Case of the Found Child

On Saturday morning I got up early to run and beat the heat. I had a plan to run, do a little other exercise, shower, and go get a grocery pickup order we had placed, all while taking care of the kids so Katie could sleep in. And I did get out and run. But after I got back and was working on the list, our doorbell rang. It wasn't 8:00 yet, so that was a surprise. I thought it was probably a neighbor kid looking for my kids, who weren't awake yet.

At the door was an older man who looked like an aging biker, holding a boy who was maybe 3. He asked if I knew who the kid was. He found the kid wandering down the street with no parents in sight. The boy didn't seem to know how to get home. He had walked up and down the street knocking doors but hadn't found where he belonged. I didn't recognize the boy but pulled up my LDS Tools app that shows all the LDS families in the neighborhood. I went through the list, and he didn't seem to fit with any of the families.

I went…

Some er Thoughts

A few thoughts about summer.

I really enjoy summer, but I don't sleep very well. It always seems too warm at night, and it's light by 5 a.m. Plus the kids always go to bed later. I do like having the mornings to myself, though. I also have to get up extra early to run on Saturdays.

I found this old post asking about whether it's better to have a nice summer but cold winter, or a mild winter and brutal summer. It's funny that ten years later I would have exchanged the hotter summers and milder winters of Utah for the awful winters and gorgeous summers of Idaho. I think it's better, since during the colder months you're mostly inside anyway. So whether it's 20 degrees or 10 degrees, you don't notice much difference. We didn't hit 90 degrees until July 5. It's been nice.

The Fourth of July continues to vex me, with people celebrating their freedom by inhibiting the freedom of their neighbors to sleep well. It has always bothered me that choices mad…

I'm So Kneedy

I don't think I've posted about this before, but even if I have who cares? I've had some knee issues for the last three years that have limited my running to some extent. When I've tried to increase my mileage to train for a marathon, or just run faster, I've always had to back off. I would get swelling, and sometimes soreness.

Last year I went to physical therapy, and they thought it might be related to a lack of range of motion in my ankle. So I worked on it for a couple months, and things got better. But early this year the swelling started to come back. Eventually I decided to go to a doctor, who recommended an MRI.

The MRI showed that the cartilage on my kneecap has some damage, though the extent isn't totally clear. The doctor said it doesn't appear to be damage cause by running, but from some other injury. The motion of running can cause inflammation, which explains why it recurs, especially when I change things up or try to increase my load.

He sugg…

Reconnecting

In high school I had three best friends who meant everything to me. I was one of those teenagers who never wanted to be with my family, but spent every moment possible with this adopted family of mine. And because they were good people, it worked out well. I think we had a mostly positive influence on each other, and we made it through those awkward years largely by supporting each other.

Predictably, things changed after high school. Two of them went to school in southern Utah, I went to BYU in Provo, and one stayed in Salt Lake. Three of us served missions, and then came the rest of the details of life, with two of my friends settling outside the state (and then eventually me too). After I met Katie she struggled with me wanting to spend time with other friends anyway, and as kids came along I never really had time for a social life.
This summer is our 20th anniversary of high school graduation, and there is a Facebook page dedicated to the event. People were posting photos of thems…

A Movie-ing Experience

Last weekend we took all the kids to see Incredibles 2. And I have a few thoughts.

This was the first time the whole family has seen a movie together. As far as we can recall, Katie was pregnant with James the last time we all went to the movies. Clara and James struggled a little bit at the end, but we made it through.

The Incredibles came out the year Katie and I got married, and as this one picks up right at the end of the first film, Katie and I are now at about the same point in our lives as the Parrs. It's funny to think about.

They put a few swears in the movie. I struggle with this because the first one had none, and I had expectations that this would be the same. Had those words not been in the movie I don't think it would have diminished the film in any way. We're officially at the point where we have to start screening Disney/Pixar films the same as any other movie, which I knew would happen sometime anyway.

I took Sam and Allison and went early to get our seats…

Standalone

I've posted too much serious stuff lately, and that must stop now. I just came across a movie trailer for Bumblebee, which is about the Transformers character. But it's not actually a Transformers movie. I guess after Star Wars and X-Men, Hollywood is now doing standalone films of every character from every franchise. Let's think of some characters who could be getting their own film soon. Here are a few I'm interested in. A lot of these are from 80s/90s movies, because those seem the most fun to me.

The Xenomorph from Alien. It starts with the Alien chasing the crew of the ship. Then  there's a record scratch and freeze frame, and a voiceover. “You’re probably wondering how I ended up here." Just kidding about this one.

Edna Mode from The Incredibles. You know she has an amazing backstory. I want to see her working at the height of superhero popularity, dispensing sass to all those proud people.

Louis Tully from Ghostbusters. He seems like a boring accountant, b…

Metoo Matters

It's a strange time to be alive. On the one hand, we're seeing a lot of true villains exposed for the way they treat others, particularly women and minorities. On the other hand, there is a weirdly pervasive sensitivity that could make us hesitant to interact with a lot of people for fear of making a mistake.

But that's a good thing.

In the wake of the #metoo movement I have been closely examining my behavior toward women to ensure that nothing I do or say makes them uncomfortable. It can be eye-opening to realize that anything I have done might have seemed inappropriate to someone, regardless of my intentions. But it's a necessary process.

Similarly, there has been a tremendous amount of news about African Americans having the police called on them for activities that are absolutely normal. Shopping, waiting for a friend, and even sleeping are somehow a threat to white people? Not to mention all the shootings of unarmed black men. Now, because I live in a very white s…

Get to Da Choppa!

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You guys! I checked off a major bucket list item last Friday.
I got to ride in a helicopter. It was amazing!

At work we had a group of distributors visiting the home office as a reward for performance. They all got a chance to ride in a helicopter, and some of the employees got a chance too. It was just a quick trip around Idaho Falls, but it was so much fun. Even when the pilot dropped us down suddenly to mess with us and I felt my stomach try to escape. Yay!

Bonus points to anyone who gets the reference in the title.



Basements and Babies

I was talking to a friend this morning about a project she's working on. She purchased a new townhouse to rent for side income, and she is in the process of finishing her basement along with working her full-time job. The more we talked, the more I realized that raising kids is a lot like finishing your own basement on the side. And while she doesn't have children, we are both experiencing a lot of the same things. And both seem to stem from some level of insanity, getting into this mess.

Most people probably don't know everything about construction when they begin finishing the basement (I mean, what really IS a wall, anyway?). You look up a lot of informational videos and muddle along the best you can. If all else fails, duct tape. Similarly, no matter what your experience with kids is before becoming a parent, having your own is different. Parents virtually always feel out of their depth, just taking it one day at a time. You can always give them medicine if they won…

I Can't Believe I'm Talking Politics

I don't normally get political on here, for three reasons.

1. It's boring.
2. I lack the patience to truly think through all the nuances of a well-reasoned debate.
3. I'm not sure anyone was ever convinced to change their views based on something presented by another person. (Prove me wrong!)

But here we go. I'll try to keep it brief. My political background: I grew up in a white, Republican household in Utah. Not surprisingly, I inherited values considered conservative: traditional families, limiting governmental power, all that. My first job out of college was working with a company that lists strongly to the Tea Party side of things. When Obama was elected I genuinely thought it was a disaster.

Then I left the company and started having more conversations with people. And I'm confused about these two ideas.

1. Conservatives in this country tend to identify themselves as  Christian.
2. They don't espouse the ideals that I think Jesus himself would approve of.

The Agony and the Ecstasy

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I finally decided to update the blog. So I picked a random template and it seems nice enough. Maybe I'll customize it one of these days. Or maybe I'll keep switching it out until I find an especially awesome theme.

There hasn't been a lot on my mind in particular, so let's see where this goes.

I'm struck by the intense contrasts of parenting. For example, a few nights a week I come home from work, and Katie drops Sam off at taekwondo and heads to the gym. I stay home with the other three kids and try to make dinner. It can be pretty stressful to prepare a meal with constant demands for something or other, fights, and whatever else is happening. I feel good that I'm giving Katie a little time to herself, but it's exhausting.

Then there are the other times. I usually read a chapter in a book to Allison before tucking her in, and it's just the two of us for a few minutes. Or I hold Clara and sing to her to rock her to sleep. She's almost four, but I re…

The Storm

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On Saturday evening it began to rain while we were out and about celebrating Allison's birthday. We had an early dinner and came home to relax with my parents. The kids were watching a movie and Katie went to the church to practice the organ in preparation for playing the next day. Then my dad's phone piped up with some kind of extreme weather warning, and I looked at my phone's weather app. There was a tornado warning for the eastern part of our county (which is where we are), but it looked like it was cancelled by that point. But the rain turned to hail, and I mean HAIL.


The way the wind was whipping the hail into the house was insane. We went out on the front porch (which is well sheltered from the direction of the storm) and watched the constant lightning up in the clouds. For maybe 20 minutes it was as intense as any storm I have ever experienced in my life.

When it was over we assessed the damage. The first thing I noticed was that it had pummeled the paint off of ou…

Gr8

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Saturday was Allison's 8th birthday. In the LDS Church, 8 years old is the age at which children are baptized, so it has particular significance.


My parents and Katie's parents came up for it. We're pretty low-key about things like this, trying not to let Church culture overwhelm the actual significance of the event. For example, we didn't get her a plain white dress because I don't understand the point of buying a dress she will likely only wear once. (We'll see about a wedding dress.)

Everything went fine for the most part, but I had forgotten some dry clothes and Katie went back home to get them, which made everyone wait an extra five minutes or so. Afterward, Allison wanted us to go to Chuck-A-Rama for dinner. (Side note: It might be cheaper for me to send Sam there for dinner every night than to actually buy food for him, given how much he eats now.)

Allison has an interesting duality. She can be the sweetest child, putting up with a lot of annoyance from …

Potty Language

When it comes to parenting style, Katie and I are of the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants variety. For better or worse, we don't read parenting books or solicit advice from others. We typically just muddle on through. And as far as I know, so far our children have escaped being permanently scarred from this kind of upbringing. (Though admittedly most of these issues would probably show up later in their lives anyway.)

Enter: toilet training.

I don't know how we managed to get the first two kids toilet trained. I can't speak to how other parents do it, but our kids flat-out refuse to try. The only way we got Sam to use the toilet was to make him sit there until he couldn't hold it in anymore. Then he saw it wasn't scary or painful, and quickly progressed. It was the same with Allison, and between the two of them they only ever wet their beds a handful of times. We trained them late, but they got it down quickly.

Clara turns four in May, and by last fall I was pretty an…

Dream Log: 03/28/18

Last night I dreamed I was the Secretary of Education for the United States. I don't remember being aware of who was the president, although I did wonder what happened to Betsy DeVos and figured I could hardly do a worse job. I needed to mail something and figured I could use this special ring I had to avoid having to put a stamp on it. But I don't know how it was supposed to work.

Later I dreamed that I was supposed to teach a college class on abnormal psychology. And, much like the dreams in which I am a student, I was woefully unprepared. I thought it was in this big amphitheater, but there was already a professor in there, who directed me to the far side of the room, where a small hallway included a room that would fit about 6 desks. I was actually relieved that there weren't more students. For some reason my boss and a coworker were there to support me, and then there were a few students. We got started and I thought I'd kill some time by learning their names and …

Water Water Everywhere

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This morning was rough. The kids had spring break last week, so we were all back on an earlier schedule. And when I went downstairs to wake up the kids for school, I could hear a noise. I thought it was a toy that had been left on, but as I turned the lights on I noticed several things, First, my feet were wet. Why were my feet wet? Also, the noise was water dripping on something on the floor. I looked up and noticed huge paint bubbles on the ceiling, with water dripping down in several places.

Naturally, I panicked. I've heard too many horror stories about flooded basements and mold and huge cleanup jobs. I shut off the water and got the kids up and off to school while waiting for plumbers to open for the day. I called someone, who came and told me I needed to get in touch with my homeowner's insurance and a disaster restoration company.

I called the insurance company, and they were not particularly helpful, But I initiated the claim and called the restoration company the plu…

Dysplasia and Disinformation

Okay, I think I feel a little more comfortable now discussing the vague "health issues" stuff from a previous post. Last fall I had a colonoscopy and my doctor kind of led me to believe I was teetering on the edge of having cancer.

A few months later I had another appointment in preparation for a follow-up scoping, and he explained things a little more. Apparently I had something called dysplasia, which is the beginning of cells mutating into cancer. There's high-grade dysplasia, and low-grade dysplasia. For months I was convinced I had the high-grade kind, thinking it was just a matter of time. But he finally explained that it was "indefinite" dysplasia, so I guess it wasn't totally confirmed that the mutations were going on.

His philosophy is to treat everything that has the potential to be cancer as seriously as possible, which makes sense. But in retrospect I felt a little misled. He had me try some more intense treatments intended to reduce the inflamm…

Recent Travels

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I am not a traveler. I have never flown anywhere just for leisure. I generally prefer to stay home, and with children there are logistic and financial implications to traveling as well. And until my current job I never had to travel for work either. But in the last two years I have taken a few trips, and it's been interesting to gain some perspective on what it may be like for those who do it more often.

Last week I was in Fort Worth for a convention. Our employees all had rooms at a hotel by the convention center. I ended up on a flight that came in at midnight with a few coworkers. We were picked up at the airport, but the hotel had overbooked and had to find us rooms elsewhere. The other hotel had a problem finding our reservation, so we ended up getting to our rooms about 1 a.m. So instead of this:

We ended up in this.




It's a hotel built in 1907, with old-timey style. It was kind of a fun place. But I was only there for a few hours.

The next morning the other hotel got us …

I Read You Loud and Clear

I'm amazed at how popular audio books are. Part of me is sad because I think people are physically reading less, and part of me is happy because we might be exposed to more great books this way. While thinking about this I came up with an important question.

If you have listened to an audio book, have you "read" it?

Most people I think would say yes. I would argue that it's not the same thing. For me, I get a sense of accomplishment when I read a book with my own eyes. I might go back and forth between pages or reread lines to get something I missed the first time. It feels to me like a fundamentally different activity, like watching a theater production of a play vs. reading the script (I'd use movies as an example, but obviously they are typically very different).

Full disclosure: I have never listened to an audio book, with two exceptions. I did once listen to The Book of Mormon on audio over the course of a few weeks during my commute. I enjoyed it and got so…

On Tolerance and Disagreement

Can you disagree with someone and still be respectful of their point of view? According to virtually all public discourse right now, the answer is no. But I (respectfully) disagree.

For example, I am a Mormon, and I adhere to Mormon theology. There are beliefs and practices that are considered acceptable in the world at large that I do not agree with morally. For example, I do not think homosexual behavior is morally correct. HOWEVER, I respect the rights of those in the LGBTQ community to live their lives in a manner that makes them happy. I am sympathetic to the plight of minorities in general and the struggle they go through to gain societal acceptance. And I want to do all I can within my own sphere of influence to show compassion and acceptance to everyone, regardless of whether I agree with everything they do.

There's a problem with today's social justice warriors who seek equality and tolerance but are unwilling to tolerate that others hold differing opinions, and there…

Sympathy for the Way Ill

I have a few friends who have consistent health issues. These are things that impact their lives every day, and that often create a cycle of even worse health. For example, they develop a chronic illness and are physically unable to exercise. Over time this leads to things like gaining weight, which causes more systemic issues, and there is simply no opening for them to begin doing things that can make them healthier.

I have still never experienced anything like that. But I felt that last year I gained a little empathy for people about whom I might previously have judged for not making changes in their life. For a while I had a bunch of colds and persistent sinus infections, and bronchitis for perhaps a few months. Most of the time I continue to run when I have a cold, and I've been fine. But for weeks I kept having horrible coughing fits after exercising. I began to suspect a form of asthma, and my doctor did refer me to a pulmonologist. Eventually I got better, and decided not t…

Musical Paranoia

There's a big music store in town that I drive by on my way to work. They have a piano showroom, and I think they rent instruments as well. This place always seems suspiciously busy to me. Whenever I pass by the store, whatever time of day, there are always more cars there than I would expect form a music store. I seriously wonder if it's some kind of front for a criminal enterprise. If we were still in prohibition days it would be the perfect speakeasy. But given modern society it's more likely a meth lab or something. Guess I'll start using the inside lane to pass by, just in case.

Split

Fair warning: If you're not LDS, this post may not make any sense to you at all. Find a member of the church to interpret for you.

A couple weeks ago in sacrament meeting our stake high council representative read a letter telling us that our stake was realigning boundaries and creating two new wards. A meeting the next Sunday evening would give us the details.

That made me sad, because our ward was essentially the combination of two different neighborhoods, and the odds were they would be split up. Most of the friends we had made were in the other area. Later the rumor was that one of the new wards would be named after our neighborhood, so I figured we were in for a big change.

The rumor mill was right, and we are now in a brand new ward. It's now our neighborhood and a second subdivision again, this time in the other direction. We were moved to a different building (fortunately, much closer to our house), and our meeting time was changed to 8:00 a.m.

That's right, 8:00 c…

2017 Whatever

I guess I usually do a year-end post of some kind, but it's been a little hard to figure out what kind of year 2017 was. And yet for some reason I don't feel like I should post anything else until 2017 is put to rest. So what you get is stream of consciousness!

Recency bias means things toward the end of the year are on my mind. I had a bit of an unusual health situation happen, and as a result I learned that I can give myself shots, at least when it's a pen-style syringe. Depending on what happens over the next few months I may post more about this, but for now this will do. But it has altered my perspective on things a bit.

I traveled to Dallas and Las Vegas for work conventions. I dislike being away from the family for five days at a time, but the change in schedule can be fun. I work with good people, and they make things run smoothly.

As far as running, the year was okay. I got in 800 miles (the goal was 1,000). I got a lot better at running up hills, and did climb ov…