Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Ice Cream Man Incident

It was HOT in Salt Lake City this past weekend. Which makes it perfectly understandable for the ice cream man to be driving around. I have thought to myself that being an ice cream man would easily be the worst job in the world. I could only take the obnoxious music for a short period of time before I would jab screwdrivers in my ears to make the sound stop.

But something peculiar happened this weekend with the ice cream man. This story is completely true. It's way to strange to make up. As the ice cream man drove by, the song playing from it's loud speaker was "Oh Come All Ye Faithful"! But it's July. Not December.

There was no mistaking it. I've heard "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" countless times around the holidays. I recorded the song on my Christmas piano CD. I paid special attention when I recognized the music. Without a doubt, the song the ice cream man was playing was "Oh Come All Ye Faithful".

Now this is disturbing that an ice cream man would be playing a Christmas carol. But I don't think it's nearly as disturbing as the realization that someone actually went to the effort of converting "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" into a wordless format that could be played by an ice cream man.

Who, in their right mind, thought to themselves one day "I have a brilliant idea! When it is steaming hot in the middle of summer, I know the perfect song that will compel kids to run out of their houses with money in hand to buy some ice cream! Oh Come All Ye Faithful!" I pity the man who came up with the idea. And also the man who listens to it blaring from a speaker for nine straight hours while he tries to sell ice cream.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Agony Of Defeat

Yesterday I did my civic duty of taking two overflowing containers of garbage to the recycling bin and recruited the kids to come along for the job.

I could see that my son Jackson was excited to be in charge of the glass jars. As any male will do, he jumped at the opportunity to break things.

Jackson didn't know I was watching as this little incident took place. He grabbed a spaghetti jar and I could just see the wheels cranking in his head. He was planning to launch the jar into the recycling bin, grateful for the opportunity to shatter something without getting in trouble.

The hole on the recycling bin is about the size of a coffee can. So Jackson pulls his arm back with jar in hand like a baseball pitcher preparing to make his throw to home plate. Suddenly.....the wind up.......and the pitch!

Unfortunately his throw wasn't a strike.

The jar banged against the side of the bin, bounced off, and hit Jackson right in the head!

I had to turn away so he wouldn't see me laughing. I wasn't sure if his tears were from the agony of defeat or from the large goose egg sprouting on his head.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Naughty Dog

Our dog is ancient. If there were a Senior Citizen Center for dogs, Rupert would be there. When he is with other dogs, I'm sure he says in a crotchety-old-man-voice "You kids these days....back in my day, when we ran away, we had to come back home through the snow. Uphill. Both ways."

My wife credits his long life with the fact that our family has provided him with so much love. I credit his long life with a too-stubborn-to-die attitude. And a hefty supply of table food the kids have snuck him over the years.

Rupert really is the perfect dog. He doesn't bark. He doesn't bite. He doesn't go to the bathroom in the house. And he doesn't jump on people (likely due to his morbid obesity). He's perfect. Except for one thing: Rupert likes to rumage through garbage.

This minor character flaw drives me CRAZY. At least a time or two each day, we walk into a bathroom to be greeted by a tipped over garbage can with trash all over. This is pretty gross. We have the (dis)pleasure of cleaning up Kleenex. And floss. And kid's gum. And fuzz after I clean out my electric razor. And Q-Tips. And apple cores. And bananna peels. And any other variety of things commonly found in a bathroom garbage can.

We thought we could solve the problem by buying the fancy garbage cans where you have to step on a little pedal to open the lid. But alas, cranky old Rupert still manages to tip over the garbage cans to see what he can find.

When my wife finds a garbage mess, her usual response is to yell "Ruuuuuuuuupert!" My usual response is to groan and mutter to myself that we could cut off his feet and make them into key chains.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bryce Canyon Half Marathon Review

HALF MARATHON RECORD: 1 Hour & 51 Minutes

We drove to Bryce Canyon with our friends Darin & Shelly Thomas. I have an incredible amount of respect for Shelly who somehow manages to put up with someone as obnoxious colorful as Darin on a daily basis.

On Friday we drove the race course from the start at Ruby's Inn to Cannonville. The scenery along the road is amazing. With views like this, it's no wonder that the race sells out.

The night before the race we met up with the entire neighborhood who was also up at Bryce Canyon for the race. We had a big spaghetti dinner with French bread, fruit, Dutch oven potatoes, peanut butter bars, salad, and Rice Krispy treats. I ate so much that I made myself sick. This is classic Darin as we were preparing dinner:

At the Ruby's Inn campground there was a raised water drain that I jumped off a few times to get a mid-air photo. This was my favorite:

Our friend Liz came up with the idea to make a pyramid for the group shot. Fortunately no spines were snapped during the production of this photograph.

I love the whole process of racing. I have absolutely no expectation of winning anything, but I love the excitement of pinning my race number on my shirt and feeling the anxiousness of wondering what is going to happen during the race.

The ONLY thing I DON'T like about racing is the lack of sleep on the night before the race. We went to bed at 10:15pm and I woke up at 1:50am. I'm usually too excited and anxious to sleep. Racing on 3.5 hours of sleep adds to the challenge. Why does this photo at the starting line make me look like I'm half asleep? Because I am.

The Bryce Canyon Half Marathon is a runner's dream. It's fast and beautiful. I wasn't able to find a Bryce Canyon Half Marathon elevation chart before the race. So....here's my own elevation chart from the race:

The mega downhill starting at mile 2 is so fun, but also dangerous because it's easy to push hard going down the hill and then the gas tank is empty later in the race. I felt like I did a good job of pushing down the hill but not overdoing it. My times for each mile were:

Mile 1: 8:35
Mile 2: 8:30
Mile 3: 7:11 (which included a quick bathroom break)
Mile 4: 8:17
Mile 5: 8:33
Mile 6: 8:09
Mile 7: 8:18
Mile 8: 8:47
Mile 9: 8:31
Mile 10: 8:43
Mile 11: 8:57
Mile 12: 9:19
Mile 13: 9:11

Starting at mile 4 I started doing a walk break every half mile. Sometimes I walked for 30 seconds and sometimes a minute. Before the race I was really nervous about the pain I've been feeling in my foot. I usually use the male approach to medical issues: If You Ignore It, It Will Probably Go Away. I am so happy it didn't bother me too much during the race. My calves did start to cramp up in the last mile. They become really tight and get shooting pains like a German Shepherd just took a bite of flesh. Fortunately I was close to the finish line.

I was reminded about the importance of the mental aspect of racing. While I'm running, it's easy to get overwhelmed with all the physical stuff that is going on:
  • Sweet mother of all things holy, my knees are going to buckle.
  • It's so hot that my body might run out of water and start sweating blood.
  • Hmm, I don't remember stepping on an ice pick. Why does it feel like one went through my shoe?
  • This blister growing on my foot is going to be big enough to need a birth certificate.
  • Oh boy, it's going to be embarrassing if I throw up Gatorade all over the road.
The fascinating thing is that these thoughts and many others are constant and come all at the same time. So mentally, it is critical to learn how to tune out these thoughts and focus on something different. Sometimes I can do that well, but I still have a lot of room for improvement.

In both of the marathons I have run, I reached a low point where I realized that I wasn't going to meet my time goal. So during this race, it was such a good feeling to be at mile 8 and realize that I could run 10 minute miles for the rest of the race and still beat my record.

I was ecstatic to cross the finish line in 1 Hour & 51 Minutes to set my half marathon PR (personal record), beating my previous PR by 5 minutes:

I ended up finishing #289 out of 1141 who ran the half marathon. My crazy fast friend Tom finished 16th in the whole race, and our friend Ty finished 22nd. Incredible! This is a picture of Ty - I wondered if it was her gold shoes that made her so fast.

The best part about this race was spending time with so many good friends. Here is a picture with Liz, Renee, Mel, and Cherie.

Mel did awesome finishing in 2 hours 24 minutes - without any injuries. This was way faster than her time last year.

The Bryce Canyon Half Marathon was a great experience and I loved the feeling of accomplishment after working hard to progress toward a goal. Next on the list: Park City Marathon in about a month. Bring it!

"People can't understand why a man runs. They don't see any sport in it. Argue it lacks the sight and thrill of body contact. Yet, the conflict is there, more raw and challenging than any man versus man competition. For in running it is man against himself, the cruelest of opponents. The other runners are not the real enemies. His adversary lies within him, in his ability, with brain and heart to master himself and his emotions."
~ Glenn Cunningham, Olympic Games medalist

Friday, July 16, 2010

Face Painting Fiesta

I am bad at many things (such as sleeping, controlling my sweet tooth, and avoiding the many gray hairs that are starting to pop out on my head). But arguably the thing I am worst at is drawing. Or painting. Or anything that involves sketching with a pencil or crayon or writing object. It's a fact that an aardvark with a pencil duct taped to it's paw could draw better than me.

I was ready to tackle a challenge and fight to improve my poor drawing skills. The perfect opportunity arrived a few days ago at the kid's birthday party when I volunteered to be the expert face painter.

I asked the kids what they wanted me to paint. And I made a conscious effort to not deny any request. Which led to some interesting creations. Behold......

A BIRD! (Which became a pink bald eagle)



Picasso....I'm not. I don't plan to quit my day job anytime soon to become a famous artist. I will not be waiting by my phone for the Smithsonian Museum to request my latest art piece. But you better believe I'm going to jump at the next opportunity I have to paint a pink bald eagle.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kids Are Good At ......

Let me tell you what kids are good at:
  • Kids are good at: ruining plans to sleep in on Saturday morning.
  • Kids are good at: preventing any private time. Even when you're in the bathroom.
  • Kids are good at: destroying a freshly mopped floor. Clean floors seem to attract accidental spills of grape punch.
  • Kids are good at: teaching patience. Potty training? Are you kidding me? Potty training a child would be sufficient torture for a prisoner of war. Every day that a parent can get through without a complete psychotic breakdown is a victory.
  • Kids are good at: draining bank accounts. I can only imagine the fancy restaurants I could eat at if I didn't have three hungry baby birds at home to feed.
But all these minor inconveniences pale in comparison to the happiness my kids bring into my life. I love them beyond description. This is an exciting week at our house. Kylee has a birthday on July 8th, Danica has a birthday on July 10th, and Jackson has a birthday on July 12th. Three birthdays in the span of six days.

So happy birthday kids! (And I forgive you for waking me up early, spilling punch just a little too frequently, and helping me understand the phrase "Eating you out of house and home.")

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cool Video From Ironman St. George

I found this video shown to the finishers of the Ironman St. George as well as the volunteers.

I am at the end of the video helping someone who just crossed the finish line.

Volunteering at the finish line was such a special experience for me. I admire the people who are able to complete an Ironman so much. This video does a good job of capturing the excitement of the day.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Love Kenny G

At my job, I spend a decent portion of time on the telephone each day, including a decent portion of time on hold. I talk with lots of prescription drug manufactures to coordinate assistance programs. With some companies, you better just pack yourself a lunch - because you are going to be on hold for a while.

There is one company that I completely DREAD calling. Partly because I know I'm going to be on hold for a while. But mostly because the music they play while on hold is simply horrific. The song is around two minutes and repeats OVER and OVER. Do you want to know what is utterly depressing? I have it memorized. I could whistle it to you.

Allow me to provide a description of this song: Imagine the cheesy 1980's keyboard sound playing a catchy jingle similar to what you would hear in an elevator. Then 30 seconds later, a strong Kenny G-ish saxophone pipes in and begins to whine. Then the Kenny G-ish sax gains momentum. It's like Mr. Saxophone is finally getting a solo opportunity at a concert, and he is going to play that sax with every ounce of energy he has. Then the song concludes with some tingling chimes. And then it starts over AGAIN. And AGAIN. And AGAIN. This song makes fingernails on a chalkboard sound like a glorious symphony.

Recently my job became worse. I'm not joking about this - another drug company just started using the SAME song for their hold music! I'm serious as a heart attack (or an ice pick to the ear). The same song. Inconceivable.

I believe the on-hold music is an intentional gauntlet. Anyone who can suffer through the torture of listening to the song for 23 minutes earns the privilege of talking to an actual human being. I would be willing to bet that few people survive the gauntlet.