Thursday, May 30, 2013

My Victory over Lameness

There's something you should know about me. I really really hate it when I have to jump through hoops.  I really really hate it when arbitrary limits are placed upon me in order to control a behavior that I don't participate in.

Let me give you a few examples.

When I was in high school, there was a teacher who would not let us type our papers.  All papers had to be hand written.  Dumbest rule ever? Yes.  Do you want to know his reason?  He was afraid that if we were allowed to use a computer, we might just find a paper on the internet and turn it in as if it were our own.

It should be noted that I would never even think of plagiarizing for several reasons:
1. I'm an honest person.  I would feel icky if I were to steal someone else's work.
2. I'm pretty sure I can write a better paper than anyone who would willingly post their paper for free.

That's where my stubborn nature comes in.  Why should I have to take twice as long to write a paper just because 1% of the student population will use a computer to cheat?  (Especially when this actually doesn't deter anyone from cheating.) I felt I had to stand against stupidity.  Naturally, I found a paper online and copied it down by hand and turned it in.  I felt the principle of standing up to stupidity was more important than writing a good paper.  (Looking back on it, I might make a different decision now.  I didn't feel like it was cheating, since I knew I could write a better paper, but I was definitely in a gray area.)

I'll admit, I'm still kind of bitter about it, almost 15 years later.

Along the same lines, I hate when I go to the airport and I have to go through the whole song and dance of unpacking my laptop, taking off my shoes, taking off my belt and all that garbage.  It makes me cranky.  I don't feel any safer knowing that they strip search grandmas and pat down toddlers.

To be honest, I'm pretty sure I could get a weapon through all the security theater if I wanted to.  (But don't worry, I'm much too afraid to try.)

That brings me to my latest victory over arbitrary lame rules.  Take a look at the picture below.

Aren't you so excited to know what Robyn and I bought at Panda Express?  This is actually a very ancient receipt.  But the important thing about this receipt is the line running through it.  That's the line that the Costco guardian puts on the receipt as you are leaving Costco.

If you've never been to Costco, you always have to stand in a big line as you are leaving and show some lady (In theory it could also be a man, but it's always been a woman in my experience) your receipt to prove you're not stealing all the things in your cart.  I've often wondered how she possibly checks everything.  I've theorized that she's not actually checking anything at all, it's theater.  But just like airport security, it deters enough people just by looking scary.  So I decided to put her to the test.  I had my real receipt in my pocket, but I gave her an old Panda Express receipt.  She marked it and let me go on my way.

I officially beat the system.  It feels good to know that I could steal from Costco if I wanted to.  I'd prefer to be governed by my conscience and honesty rather than the Costco guardian lady anyway.

Jeff: 1
Lame arbitrary rules: 0

Monday, May 27, 2013

I'm Feeling 32

Sometime early this morning, I turned 32 years old.  I don't know the exact time, but if you'd like specifics you can call my mother.  The word on the street is that she was present at the time, and surprisingly enough, played a fairly central role in the proceedings.

I've been 32 for less than 24 hours, so I admit that my sample size is a little small.  But, from what I can tell, 32 is pretty awesome.  Based on my limited experience today, here is what you can expect when you are 32.

1. When you're 32, you don't have to go to work
2. When you're 32, you get breakfast in bed.

3. When you're 32, things like this will magically appear in your wallet.

4. When you're 32, you get to see a rattlesnake.
I know it's not a great picture.  Perhaps when you're 32, you won't be a good photographer.
5. When you're 32, you still have to watch your wife shop.
I told her I was documenting this, so you all know that I love her enough to go shopping on my birthday
6. At least when you're 32, your wife buys you a DVD in exchange for going shopping with her.

7. When you're 32, your wife will scream when she sees a lizard.  (I think it's a vocabulary issue.  She describes the lizard as "wiggly" which she appears to believe is a synonym of "scary".)

8. When you're 32, you get to see a pretty waterfall
This is Grove Creek Falls

9.  When you're 32, the river above the falls is even prettier than the falls.
Sorry the beauty is ruined by having me in the middle
10.  When you're 32 you get to have a picnic with your super cute wife.

11.  When you're 32, your wife will scream when she sees a rock.
        In her defense, she was a little jumpy after such scary things as a rattlesnake (potentially scary) and a lizard (not scary, but "wiggly"), and she insists there was something more than a rock, but I saw nothing.

12.  When you're 32, you receive great amounts of love on facebook.

13. When you're 32, this happens.

14.  When you're 32, your wife does her best to make you feel special every second.

As you can see, being 32 is pretty awesome.  I highly recommend it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Men and Women are Different

So it turns out that men and women are different.  I know this is a big revelation.  It's a thought that has never occurred to you before.

Well, I have some supporting evidence to show you that there is, in fact, a difference.

The other day I noticed something hanging on our fridge.  Here it is.

That is my wife's visiting teaching assignment.(Obviously, with names and numbers hidden.) (In my church, the men and women are both given assignments of people within the congregation to share a gospel message every month as well as check on them and make sure all of their temporal needs are met.)

Do you see all the cuteness and the inspiring message?  I bet that the cuteness and little message really inspire the sisters to love and serve each other.

Do you want to know what the Elder's Quorum gave me to let me know my home teaching assignment?

I got a phone call.  About 6 months after they had changed my assignment.

Men and women are different.  Advantage: women.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I Wore Pants

It's true.  I wore pants.  We're not even talking dress pants for church.  They were just regular old jeans.

It's been several years since I've had to resort to such measures.  I own one pair of jeans, just in case.  You never know when an unexpected situation will bring about the need to cover your legs.  For example, what if it gets really cold?  I know what you're thinking, "Jeff, you live in Utah, it's not like you live in North Dakota, where it makes sense to own long pants."  I agree.  You're absolutely right.  But, this past winter it got below zero degrees.  There were actually a few days where I had to wear shoes.  Another 20 degrees colder and I may have considered wearing long pants.

But don't worry, this particular emergency was not weather related.

It was something much more dangerous than the ever changing weather.  You may want to make sure you're sitting down before I tell you of the terrible thing that caused me to wear long pants.  Are you ready?  It was yard work.

I know the very thought makes you shudder with terror.  I'm sorry to bring up such a frightening issue.

So here's the story.  I mow the lawn every week like a good kid.  But the grass around the edges is a lot harder to get with the mower.  After a while, it starts to get really long.  After it gets really long my wife starts to feel embarrassed.  After my wife starts to feel embarrassed she starts to make little comments about how maybe someone should do some weed wacking and edging.

Eventually I get the hint that when my wife says, "someone" she means me.

Another important factoid is that our weed eater is a bit ghetto.  It's one of those kind where you don't have to bump it to get it to give you more string.  That means you can't control when it gets more string.  That means it always has either too much or too little.  That means when it has too much, bits of it break off and fly in all directions.

My wife was off at her quilting party that she goes to for like 100 hours a week.  I wanted to surprise her by having it done before she got back.  My weed eater wanted to punish me for having such a desire.

A piece of plastic came whizzing off at light speed and struck my left leg.  I exclaimed something intelligent like, "Great Koogly Moogly!" and watched it bleed for a minute before resuming.  About 6 seconds later it sent another projectile at my right leg.  At this point, I realized that something had to be done.  My poor little legs needed defending.  I needed to bring in the big guns.  I needed to go beyond the boundaries of sanity.  I needed to wear pants.

I put on pants and finished trimming the yard.  But then I thought of you.  I knew you would want to see what it's like.  You would want to partake of the momentous occasion when I wore pants.  Robyn was still gone, so I had to try to record the moment by myself.  (The alternative was to keep the pants on until she got home.  That could have been an hour or two.   I could have died by then.)

It turns out it's not as easy as it seems.

First, I just took a picture of my legs.  It's basic, but it doesn't really show you what I look like.

Then I figured I should use a mirror.  But you can't really see my legs.  At least you get to check out the bathroom.

Then I figured an overhead shot.  You see my legs, but no one needs a closeup of my baldness.

I tried another overhead shot, but forgot to get the legs in.

My feet made it in.  But my belly wins the battle for prominence.

My legs are in, but showing my legs and nose still doesn't show what I look like in pants.

Success!  All I had to do was stand on the bathroom sink.
There you have it.  Now you all have proof, that I have, in fact, worn long pants.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

People Love Me

It's true. There are lots of people that love me. Do you know how I can tell?

If you don't know what the above picture is, I feel sad for you.  You are missing out on one of life's greatest joys.  You see, Amazon has a feature called a Wish List.  It allows you to tag items for future purchase.  You can purchase items off your wish list or you can make it public for others to see.  (Mine is here)

I am an avid user of the wish list, it makes it easy to remember that book I wanted to read, or something else I saw.  It also eliminates the "you're difficult to shop for" complaint.  I feel that every person on the planet should have an updated Amazon Wish List.

Another fun thing is that you can also view items that have been purchased from your wish list.  But there's a handy dandy feature that hides newly purchased items right before your birthday or Christmas (basically, during the purchase freeze period.)  You can click to reveal the items, but why would you ever want to ruin your own surprise?

I happened to logon today and saw the beauty above.  My birthday is in 2 weeks and already so many people  have loved me.  Birthdays are great.  I'm feeling the love.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Meeting Mr. Stockett

Every year, Robyn's second graders put on a play of "The Ugly Duckling."  It's a cute little musical that chronicles the tale of the ugly duckling, starting with the mean bullies who think he's ugly and ending with his victorious return as a swan.

It is a full scale play with speaking parts, singing solos, special effects (They turn off the lights and shine a flashlight on a lighting bolt during a storm, awesome stuff) and, of course, plenty of singing by the second grade choir, so that all can participate.

This blog post isn't really about their play, but I just had to mention it because I'm so impressed by it every year.  When I was in Elementary school they threw all 30,000 kids on a stage and had us all sing in unison and called that good.

What this blog post is about, is the saga of "meeting Mr. Stockett."  You see, I like to go meet Robyn's class once a year.  It's fun for me to to put some faces to some of the names she talks about all the time.  Apparently, it's also fun for them to meet the mythical Mr. Stockett, of whom all the legends speak.

I generally take the afternoon off of work and go to Robyn's school on the day of their Ugly Duckling play.  I get to meet the class for a bit and then go watch their play.  I'm also usually the camera man, so that the kids can watch themselves at the end of the year.

A few days ago, Robyn let her kids know that I would be coming to see their play.  They were so excited!  Not only would they get to meet me, but they would get to perform for me.  Can you think of anything more amazing?

Like any good teacher, Robyn made sure to capitalize on something they were excited about, and use it as a motivator.  The kids had to be really good.  They had to earn all the letters in my name.  Each time they did something letter worthy, another letter was put on the board.  If they could spell, "Mr. Stockett", before the afternoon of the play, then they would get to meet me in the flesh.

They did it.  Aren't you so proud of them?
When I arrived in the classroom, I walked in while the kids were doing their math assignment.  As soon as they saw me they began whispering to each other, "It's Mr. Stockett...  That has to be Mr. Stockett...  Look at Mr. Stockett."  They all looked at me in awe.  The moment they had waited their entire lives for was here. It was really Mr. Stockett standing before them.

Robyn gathered them all on the carpet and I got to sit in front of them all while they asked me questions.  There were some hard hitting journalists in that group.  They asked very relevant questions such as, "If you were going to become a Jedi who would you want to train you?" (Clearly Yoda)

After asking the personal questions, we played a game called "Stump Mr. Stockett."  The rules were simple, they could ask me any question about something they learned in School.  (That way they don't ask something random like, "What's my middle name?")  But the other rule is that they actually have to know the answer.

They asked difficult stuff like, "What's 5 + 6?" for a while, but then they upped the ante to stuff like, "What's 500 + 600?".

When they realized they couldn't stump me on math, I had to tell them the life cycle of various plants and animals.  Finally someone won the game.  They asked me the 3 types of rocks.  I knew igneous and sedimentary, and I knew the third one was a hard rock that was formed by pressure over time, but I couldn't remember that metamorphic was the name.  How embarrassing.

Finally, we all went to the auditorium for the performance.  I sat next to a mom who told me about her son who wouldn't stop talking about how excited he was to meet Mr. Stockett the night before.  I told her I hoped he wasn't disappointed now that he'd actually met me.

After the program I told them they did awesome and gave them all high fives.

The moral of the story is that all of you who see me all the time need to learn something from these second graders and be a little more excited about spending time with me.  It wouldn't hurt you to occasionally whisper to each other in pure awe when I walk into a room.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Handy Wife and the Garden

My wife is very handy.

Anyone that knows me knows that handy is not a word that describes me at all.  So it's good that at least one of us can be described that way.

Robyn's latest project is a very important one, because it will turn into food in the future.

Remember when the coverings on our grow boxes blew away?  Well, the grow boxes were phase one.  The final phase is a fancy schmancy greenhouse type structure.

Lest you think I didn't participate, I was a big helper.  I drove all the way to Lowe's and helped pick out seeds.  Don't they look delicious?

I also documented the whole process.  Somebody's gotta do it.
Robyn had to hand cut the PVC to build her structures.

She had to screw them in to the sides of the grow boxes

She looks like she's going pole vaulting, but she's just being a good little builder.

Aren't they fabulous little covered wagons?

The little ropes divide up where the different plants go.

Her Dad came in and helped with the planting round.

In our old house, we planted in May and then it snowed the next day.  This greenhouse strategy protects against that problem.  If there is snow or even just frost, it won't hurt our little babies.  Then later in the summer, we just take the plastic off.
She cut holes in the plastic to help the wind pass through.

Look at our cute little plants.
Are you totally impressed with my wife?  I know I am.  If you want to be more impressed, come on over in a couple months and eat some delicious vegetables with us.

Monday, May 6, 2013

I'm a VIP

Most people have to be getting on a plane to get through Airport Security.

I'm not most people.

Most people have to stand in line to get through security.

I'm not most people.

You're probably wondering why I'm so special.  It all comes down to a little song that I used to sing in Elementary School.  The first two lines say it all, "I'm a VIP in my family.  I'm a VIP, you see!"

That should be enough for you, but since you're so needy I'll give you more.

But to explain it I need to back up a bit.

Robyn's parents and her grandma (who is German, and will henceforth be called Oma) were both in town this week.  We've spent lots of quality time together over the last few days, and really enjoyed each other's company.

This afternoon it was time for Oma to fly home.  Robyn and I volunteered to drive her to the airport.

Oma is 93 years old.  She can't walk very far without help.  She has a wheelchair, but it gets a little tricky getting her through security when she's flying by herself.  Someone needs to push her wheelchair, so we usually get an airline employee to escort her through and make sure she gets on the plane okay.

My role was simple.  I drove the car to the airport.  Robyn got out with Oma and helped her get as far as security, and watched her go through.  While all that was happening, I sat in the "Park and Wait" area reading a book.

While Robyn was pushing the wheelchair, she asked Oma to hold her wallet.  (Because her hands were full pushing the wheelchair, and why would she ever have a wallet small enough to fit in her pocket?)

Oma got through security and to her gate safely when she realized that she had an extra wallet.  Luckily, cell phones exist, or else Robyn would have had to wait for her to mail it.

She was able to get a hold of us, but the problem remained, how to get the wallet to us.  Robyn spoke to an airline employee and he said he could print her a temporary pass to get through security.

He asked her, "Do you have id?"

"Well, it's already at the gate."  That presents a problem for getting through security.

"Is there anyone else with you?"  That question is what ruined my peaceful book reading at the Park and Wait.

Robyn called me and told me I was going to go get her wallet from Oma.  I pulled up to the pick up area, and Robyn sat in the car while I ran in.

I found the same employee and told him my wife sent me.

"Is she the one with the grandma?"

"Yes" I said.

He printed me out a nifty spifty little pass that let me get through security.

I asked him if I was going to need to stand in line to get through security.  I was really worried that I wouldn't get there in time and I didn't want Oma to miss her plane.

That's when he told me the secret strategy to avoid a security line.  Apparently, one building over from the regular terminal is the international building.  It has its own security checkpoint.  I ran over to the other building, only to discover that the security checkpoint was closed.   I stood there and whimpered like a cute little puppy dog until a security guru emerged.

I explained my story to him and showed him my nifty little pass.   He agreed to open up the checkpoint just for me.  I still had to empty my pockets and take off my flip flops and everything just like normal.  Then he said,  "We are going to have to give you a full pat down."  I kind of laughed a little bit, then he said, "You think I'm kidding."  I stood there nervously.  I was really concerned about getting there in time, but I wasn't sure if he was joking.  Luckily he said, "I'm just kidding, go on through."

I ran like the wind.  (If the wind could run, it would run like I ran.)  I got to the gate and there were only about 15 billion people standing there waiting to get on the plane.  I had to swim through a sea of people, but finally I located Oma, got the wallet, thanked her and called Robyn to let her know the mission was a success.

After that I walked leisurely back to the car.  I made sure to stand, not walk, on the moving sidewalk.  I had had enough rushing for the day.

Robyn said I was her hero.  Not only am I a VIP, but I'm a hero.  And that's a pretty good thing to be.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Getting Healthy By the Numbers

Recently, I've posted a lot about my weight loss.  I've been working really hard to get myself healthier.  Trying to be healthy is a funny thing.  How do you measure health?  It's like trying to measure happiness.  If my body feels good right now, is that not health?  If I feel content and at peace right now is that not happiness?

I won't try to delve any deeper than that on the subject of happiness, because that's way too philosophical for me right now, and it's not really the subject I want to discuss.

What I really want to discuss is measuring health.  It's really such an intangible thing.  I've focused a lot on my weight, simply because that is very easy to measure.  But I fully recognize that is not necessarily the best measure of health.  There are plenty of very skinny people that would not describe themselves as healthy.

There are many numbers that can measure health.  There is no 1 metric that really measures it by itself, but there are plenty that go in conjunction together, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.

I am a numbers person.  I love numbers.  I love crunching and extrapolating data.  Naturally, I record data any time I can.  The following is a story about me trying to improve my health.  It's also a story with some numbers.  Doesn't that make you glad?

Three months ago, I went to the Doctor for a checkup so that he could approve us for adoption.  While I was there, he asked me some questions about diabetes symptoms.  I had enough symptoms that he wanted to do a blood test to test for diabetes.  The test for diabetes is the A1C.  It tests how saturated your red blood cells are with glucose.  My test came back at a 10.7.  Normal people are usually less than 5.  6.5 is considered diabetic.

Since then, I have completely changed my lifestyle.  I watch what I eat, especially carbs.  I try to walk or run daily and I work out with weights 3 times per week.  My change in lifestyle has caused some changes in my body.  Here are some changes that have occurred over the past 3 months.

My belly has shrunk by 2.5 inches.
My neck has shrunk by 1 inch.
My thighs have shrunk by 2.5 inches.
I have lost 34 pounds.

But there is one number, that right now is the most important to me.
Here is that number.

You're probably thinking, "What the heck is 6.3?"  Well, I went to the Doctor again yesterday.  I had my A1C tested, and it was 6.3.  Remember how I said that 6.5 is considered diabetic?  That means that technically, my blood agrees that I'm no longer diabetic.

Now, I fully recognize that the disease still exists, I've just been able to handle the symptoms.  But this was a huge victory for me.  I asked my doctor where my A1C needs to be to avoid diabetes complications.  He said, "It needs to be under 7.  You're there, just make sure you stay there."

It told my wife that my goal for 3 months from now is 5.6, because 5.7 is considered pre-diabetic.  She was skeptical, but I told her that her job is to say, "I know you can do it!"  Naturally, she did her job.

Here some more numbers that I'm excited about:
Number of migraines in the past 2 months: 0 (used to be 1-2 per week)
Number of times in the past 2 months I've had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom: 0 (it used to be 1-2 per night, so my body could dump out sugar)
Number of times my shorts have fallen off in the front yard: 1 (used to be zero.  I guess not all of the new numbers are good.)

I'm excited for the future.  I'm excited that this disease has motivated me to become more healthy all around. I'm excited for the experiences that greater health will bring me.  I'm also excited to record lots more numbers.

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