Friday, May 30, 2014

The Birthday Trilogy Part 1

It turns out people love me.  I know, who would have thought?

You know how I know that people love me?  Well, there are lots of ways, but one of them is that I sat down to write about my birthday and realized that I received way too much love to write about it in one sitting.

This year, my birthday love came on 3 separate days.  Thus, it was a birthday trilogy.

I know what you're thinking, all the best stuff comes in trilogies.  There's Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Hunger Games, and my birthday.  It fits right in, doesn't it?

Part 1 of the birthday trilogy took place on Sunday.  I went to my parents' house to have a celebratory dinner.

Mom made all sorts of goodness.  There were zucchini noodles with chicken and alfredo sauce.  There was grilled asparagus.  Mom's famous rolls.

But, most importantly, there was eclair cake.

First, I need to tell you of my love for eclairs.  When Robyn and I got married, I pretty much let her plan everything she wanted.  But there was one point on which I was immovable: Eclairs.  We had to have eclairs at the reception, because they are the most delicious thing ever made.

So, knowing this great truth about eclairs, can you imaging the greatest thing ever?  Say it with me:  Eclair Cake!

Here it is, in all its glory.  My photography probably doesn't do it justice, but it was fantastic.

After dinner, my family gave me gifts.  I primarily received books.  (Which I love.) I now have a problem.  My to read shelf is overflowing and I've begun stacking on top.  (That's a glorious problem to have.)

My new acquisitions are stacked on top.  Except that I now realize that the most excellent title, "Freedom is Blogging in your Underwear" is not pictured because it fit snugly on the shelf lower down.  I just have lots of reading to do.
I did receive on item that was not a book.  My mom gave me a Chromecast.
What is a Chromecast, you ask?  Just a device that brings happiness and joy to all that enter its presence.  Also, it streams video from your computer to your TV.

Of course, one of the presents had a bow on it, so we naturally had to try it on.  Who do you think pulls it off better, me or Robyn?

That's only day 1 of my birthday trilogy!  Stay tuned for the rest of the story.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Time I Wore a Diaper to the Grocery Store

Okay, I'm going to admit up front that the title of this post is totally sensationalism.  I didn't actually wear a diaper to the grocery store.  It just felt like it.

So here's the thing.  I've recently become more of a biker.  I've been biking to work.  I've been biking on the weekends.  It's really fun, and I really enjoy it.  But, there's one little drawback to all that biking.  I've written before about how I have no bum.  Well, it turns out that bumless people have a problem of having zero padding in the seat area.  This means that prolonged biking can become quite painful in the hind end region.

Well, as a biker, I've greatly utilized the local bike shop.  The salesman always laughs at my jokes, which means his sense of humor is impeccable, so I assume he is wise in other areas as well.  When I asked him what to do about my tender hind end, he suggested padded shorts.

What a brilliant idea!

So I purchased some ridiculously expensive shorts.  From the outside they look pretty normal.

But on the inside is where the magic happens.
That brightly colored yellow pad runs all through the inside and gives a nice gentle cushion to all the parts that get pushed up against the bike seat and become much too uncomfortable.

While riding a bike, it's like sitting on a cloud, or a light feathery pillow.

But the moment you get off a bike, it feels like you're wearing a diaper.  It's basically the most awkward clothing you could possibly wear for anything other than riding a bike.  I'm not really sure if other people can tell that there's extra padding in there.  But, it really doesn't matter because regardless of what others see, I feel deep down in my soul that I'm wearing a diaper.

So, basically, I try to avoid wearing these shorts at all costs, unless I am on a bike at that exact moment.

Which brings me to the story about why I had to wear them to a grocery store.

I mentioned earlier that I've been riding my bike to work.  When I do this, I put it in the back of my truck and drive to the American Fork train station.  This allows me to get past a couple miles of heavily trafficked roads where there are many bloodthirsty drivers who yearn to kill innocent bikers.  From that point on, the rest of my commute to work is through farmlands and next to Utah Lake.  It's a beautiful ride.

Well, apparently, due to my frequent bike commutes I've been driving my truck more than I realized.  The gas gauge on my truck doesn't actually work, so I have to be somewhat aware of how much it's been driven.  (Which I apparently wasn't in the story you're about to read.)

On Saturday, I had planned to take Robyn on a scenic ride out next to the lake.  I'd picked a trail on the east side that we hadn't done yet.  It was going to be really fun.  We put our bikes in the back of the truck and started heading out there.

I've never been driving when a vehicle has run out of gas before.  It turns out it's a really surreal experience.  The car doesn't just instantly die.  What happened to the truck was that it seemed like the gas pedal just quit working.  I pulled over and tried to rev it but it wouldn't do anything.  Then after about 30 seconds of idling, it finally died.  I wasn't completely sure it was out of gas, but that was my best theory.  I really hoped that was the problem and not something else.

So there we were, on a random highway in Saratoga Springs.  The only way to test the out of gas theory was to go get some gas.  We googled the nearest gas station and it was about 3 miles away.  Luckily, we had our bikes.  Our scenic ride by the lake was replaced with an un-scenic ride up a busy highway to a gas station.

And that's when I had to take my diaper laden self into a grocery store.  The gas station was outside Smith's.  But they didn't sell the little gas cans at the pump.  I had to waddle my padded self inside the store.  No one gave me any strange looks or anything.  But I felt like they should.  I mean, couldn't they tell how thick the padding on my bum was?

It seemed like it took hours to find a gas can.  I made the purchase and the checkout lady said, "I hope everything works out okay."  I smiled and she gestured at the gas can, "That thing speaks to me.  I can tell you're not having a great day."  At least it wasn't my padded bum speaking to her.

But that's when the real adventure began.  I got to make the return ride with a gallon of gas in my hand.  Although, I feel I did it pretty well.
That's what thumbs are for.
We made it safely back to the truck.  I put my gallon of gas into the tank.  Crisis averted.  The truck was just out of gas.  I think I would have cried if it turned out to be a different problem.  I promptly drove to a gas station to fill it up the rest of the way.  The tank took 18 gallons after the 1 gallon I had put in.  I've never put 18 gallons in it before.  I didn't think it held that much.  Who knew?

Even though we'd only ridden 6 miles, we determined our adventure was over for the day.  I came back home and read a book.  I like books.  Books don't run out of gas.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Today in History: Acheiving Nerdvana

Do you ever read those "Today in History" columns that appear in Newspapers?  I think it's fun to look back and see what happened today a year ago, or 5, 10, 100, 1000 years ago.  I have an app on my phone that peruses my digital history and tells me what I was doing today in history, up to ten years ago.  (I probably have more digital history than most people, but even I don't go back more than ten years.)

Today was a very important day in history.  I don't have any digital record of it, but something extremely important happened fifteen years ago today.

I saw Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace for the first time fifteen years ago.  Also, I saw Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace for the second time fifteen years ago.  Yes, I saw it twice opening day.  When you stand in line for 5 days, you want to make it worth your while.

Yes, I was in line for 5 days to see a movie.   I suppose that's not entirely accurate.  There were 7 or 8 of us, and at least one of us was in line 24 hours a day for 5 days.  I was there about 80% of those 5 days.

Most people think that doesn't sound fun.  I'm pretty sure that, up to that point, it was the funnest thing I had done in my life.

You see, I had several of my best friends hanging out with me 24 hours a day.  We had a tent, a TV, a Nintendo, and a VCR. (For the young children reading this, VCR stands for Video Cassette Recorder.  You would carry around these boxes that had tape inside.  The tape had super low quality video on it.  Also, it had a really cool thing called "tracking".  No one actually knows what tracking means other than when the video looked bad you turned a knob until it looked good.  Yes, we were all excited when DVD players were invented.) (DVD players are like Blu-Ray players but less awesome.)

Here are a few ways I can think of to describe camping out for Star Wars.

It was like camping, but with more video games.
It was like Occupy Wall Street, only with no rapes, murders, or hippies and lots more nerds.  (Okay, maybe the no hippies thing isn't entirely accurate.  The girl in front of us in line may have had Leia hair, but she was pretty much a flower child.)
It was like Comic Con, but without the celebrities.

Are you catching the vision?  Doesn't a little part of you want to camp out next year for Episode 7?

A part of me is a little bit sad that camping out for movie tickets is no longer a thing.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that the internet has come along and made it possible to buy tickets from home in my underwear.  (The more things I can do without actually having to put on clothing, the better.)  But there is a sadness as I realize that I'll never do something like that again.

Maybe next year, I'll just have to rent out a theater for Star Wars.  Perhaps that will help me feel like I've returned to nerdvana.

But for now, let's all have a moment of silence as we reflect on the moment that I first met Jar Jar Binks.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Weekend of Parenthood

This past weekend, Robyn's sister, Megan and her husband, Graham went to Cancun, Mexico.  They didn't invite us.  They never do.  (How rude is that?)  But, I suppose that they've been to Cancun twice without us, and we've been to Hawaii twice without them, so it's fair.

While they were away, we had the opportunity to watch our 2-year-old nephew, Will.  We stayed at their house for the weekend, so that he could be in his own environment, with his own toys and his own bed and everything familiar.

Robyn picked him up Friday afternoon, and I joined the two of them that evening after work.  This was who greeted me when I got there.

He spent the evening doing important things like driving his cars on my face.  When that important work was completed, we moved on to stacking the rings.  However, the rings were pretty offensive.  Every time he stacked them they ended up out of order.  Each time he would briefly lament the sad state of affairs, and then laugh as he dumped them out and restacked them.

Naturally, after he went to bed, we continued playing with his toys.  I explained to Robyn the logic puzzle called, "The towers of Hanoi."  Here she is pondering deeply.
Don't worry.  She totally solved it.

The next morning, we had planned to attend the Birth Mother Walk in Spanish Fork.  It's an event put on by Families Supporting Adoption.  The intent is to honor birth mothers and the sacrifice that they go through that makes adoptive families possible.  Most people go and walk in honor of a specific birth mom.  We pinned a sign to Will's back saying he was walking in honor of his "future cousin's birth mom."  However, he let us know after about 30 seconds that he was not interested in having a sign pinned to him. so that ended pretty quick.

After the walk, everyone comes together in a big group and they all release balloons into the sky.  Before releasing the balloons, Will and I did a photo op together.
Apparently, we're not that great at actually looking at the camera.
When it came time to release the balloons, Will excitedly watched the other balloons drift into the sky. But when we told him he could release his balloon, he gave us a look that said, "Why would I do that?  You know this is a balloon, right?  A BALLOON!  You don't just waste balloons."
Here he is holding tight to his balloon while the others drift into the sky.
After the balloon release they had a few other activities for the kids.  One of them was a race.  They let kids 3 and under race first.  I asked Will if he wanted to race and he said no.  But, when he saw all the kids lining up, he wanted to be where the action was.  He went and stood next to all the other kids.  They all took off running and he watched them run away.  About the time they all started crossing the finish line, he decided it looked fun.  He took off running, laughing gleefully the whole way.  It was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

After the birth mother event, we noticed there was a park nearby.  (And by we noticed, I mean Will noticed, and let us know the importance of visiting the aforementioned park.)

We walked over and had the place to ourselves.
Will slid down every slide.

I joined in on the sliding.

Also, this preciousness occurred.
The saddest part came on Sunday.  Sunday evening I left to go spend time with my Mom for Mother's Day.  Afterward, I was going back to my own house, so that I could leave in the morning to head into work.  I told Will I was leaving, and gave him a hug goodbye.  He looked at me and his bottom lip started to quiver, and tears started to form in his eye.  It was the cutest and saddest thing I've ever seen.  I promised him we would hang out again soon.  Robyn promised him she would do her best to be as fun as me.  (But let's be honest, that's hardly possible.)

All in all, it was a great weekend.  I could get used to being a parent.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Destroying Social Order is Not Polite

I've gathered you all here today to talk about a very important issue.

You're all so friendly.  You're so nice.  You all do such nice things for each other.  Which is why we need to have an intervention.

There's something that some of you are doing that needs to be addressed.  You're doing it because you think it's a nice, polite thing to do.  Unfortunately, you're tearing at the very fabric of our society.

To help you understand what I'm talking about, let me paint a picture for you.  This scenario happens to me 3 or 4 times a month.  So here's the scenario:

You're driving along, singing to your favorite song on the radio.  You approach a four way stop where you can see that another car has arrived, on your right, several seconds before you.  You stop at the stop sign and glance down at something else while you wait for the other car to proceed.  You look up a few seconds later only to notice that the car hasn't moved, even though there are now 2 cars behind them.  But the driver is waving you on to go first.

"How very polite of them."  You think to yourself as you proceed through the intersection.


That person is not polite.

First of all, they didn't save you any time.  The five seconds it took you to realize you were being waved on is greater than the three seconds it would have taken for them to take their turn properly.

Second, did the person sitting behind them think it was polite to volunteer that they wait longer to go?

The worst offense I've ever seen was when we were in Hawaii a few years ago.  We were sitting at a light waiting to turn left.  We were waiting for a few oncoming cars to pass so that we could go.  We waited a full minute before realizing that a car had stopped, even though he had a green light, and was waving us through.  There were no cars behind him, it would have been so much faster to just go and let us turn afterward.

I know people in Hawaii are polite, but that doesn't mean they have to destroy the fabric of our society.

I submit that it's actually more polite to obey the rules of the road.  If we all know what we can expect from each other, than we can all get where we want to be in a more efficient manner.

The rules are simple, you learned them in Drivers Ed.  The first person arriving at a four way stop goes first.  If you both arrived at the same time, the person to the right goes first.  Left turn always yields to oncoming traffic.

Another example is how you treat pedestrians.  Here are some dos and don'ts.

Do: remember that pedestrians have the right of way.
Do: stop for pedestrians if there is a cross walk.
Don't:  stop for pedestrians and wave them to jay walk.  Encouraging a pedestrian to break the law is a good way to get them killed.

Little known fact:  just because you stopped doesn't mean the other lanes of traffic know that you have now invited a pedestrian to walk into the street.  These individuals may unknowingly run over and kill the pedestrian.

Even lesser known fact: getting pedestrians killed is not polite.

I'm glad we all had this talk.  Next time you think you're being polite by disrupting traffic to wave someone through, perhaps you should just obey the traffic laws that we all understand so that traffic can run smoothly and logically.

Thanks for your time.

Friday, May 2, 2014

I Stood in the Sky

I totally stood in the sky.

More accurately, I totally stood in a cloud.  Either way, it was totally cool.

This story really begins a little less than a year ago.  We were staying in Lake Town near Bear Lake, and I went for a little walk in the morning.  I discovered Laketown Reservoir and also found this cute little mountain.

At the time, I thought to myself, "Self, wouldn't it be fun to climb up there and stand in a cloud?"

I also responded to myself, "Self, yes it would."

I climbed about halfway up the mountain before realizing the following:

I'm fat.

I'm old.

It's time for breakfast.

Those 3 facts prevented me from standing in a cloud last year.

This past weekend we were in Laketown again.  I was a year older, but I was significantly less fat, and I ate breakfast before beginning my journey, so there weren't too many barriers to me standing in a cloud.

This time, I convinced Robyn to go on the hike with me as well.  (Remember when I mentioned she loves me a lot to let me drag her on so many adventures?)

It started off pretty simple.  We had to actually get to the mountain which involved walking along a muddy dirt road.

Cuteness in the foreground, our destination in the background.

Eventually we actually reached the mountain and started climbing.  However, it turns out that mountains are very mean.  They play this mean trick where you luck up to the highest point you can see, you climb to that point only to discover there is way more mountain behind it.  I suppose it's sort of like life.  Just when you think you're done, you realize you've barely begun.  But let's not get too philosophical.

At the bottom of the mountain it was raining.  As we climbed higher into the cloud, it started snowing.  I thought it was really cool.  Robyn's views on this particular adventure were slightly different.  She said such things as, "I hate this mountain."

When we were about 80% of the way to the top, I realized she wasn't having fun anymore.  I told her I would just run to the top super fast.  She sat down and waited for me while I ascended as quickly as I could.

One of the coolest things I saw on the way up was this tree.  It totally had an eerie feel to it, all alone in the cloud.
 I finally made it to the top.  I wish I had a picture of the cool view to show you.  But the complete lack of view was the cool thing that I came there to see.  I really have no way to knowing if I made it to the actual top.  All I know is that it started sloping downward again and I couldn't see anything that was higher.  But visibility was only 20 feet or so, so there could have been another thousand foot climb and I would have never been aware of it.
This is what the top looked like.  It wasn't that glamorous.
I yelled to Robyn that I was standing in the sky.  She wasn't particularly impressed.  Her response was, "Come back. I'm cold."

I came back like a good kid.  But not before reveling in my own awesomeness at standing in a cloud in the sky.
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