Monday, December 31, 2007

Bathroom Reading

I was in the bathroom this evening contemplating. I know, what was I doing thinking about anything besides business at hand, especially since there were 40 other people who might need use of the facility? As Melissa says, go or get off the pot. Constipation, it seems, can be mental as well as gastrointestinal.

The contemplating was a direct result of reading in the afore mentioned powder room. And reading the label of a Tresseme bottle to be exact. I will admit it, I am a chronic toilet reader. I have calouses on my bum in the shape of a seat, and have been known to finish entire sections of books while seated on the throne. In fact the issue is so ingrained in my habits the lavatory as lovingly referred to as "The Library". And Melissa knows the very place I refer to when I call it such.

My normal fare for bathroom perusal would be a book (think George Castanza from Seinfeld), a Griotts Garage catalogue, the Holiday Harley-Davidson guide, or Readers Digest. In situ, I will read anything at hand, and that most often falls to reading bottles.

Ammonium xylenesulfonate, cocamidopropyl betaine, for best results lather and rinse, finished product not tested in animals. Reading fare is generally sparse in bathrooms that are not my own, and I have to get creative. I look in the tub. I look under the sink. I open the cabinets and see what is there. There is all sorts of stuff.

People of the 19th century believed that actions aided the digestion. A fellow in days gone by might have been overheard saying "I stroll at night while smoking a pipe to aid the digestion." Or "I do lunges after liverwurst and a single-malt whiskey to aid the digestion". Those fellows might have been on to something. "I read shampoo bottles and toilet bowl cleaner labels to aid the digestion."

The reasons why? Compulsion to read. Pavlovian conditioning. A father who did the same while I was young and malleable. Tonight the reason eludes me. Yet for some reason I needed to share.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

I like my ipod a lot. The fact that I can carry my entire music collection with me in my pocket is mind boggling. I used to carry my CD player with me when I'd ride my MTB, swapping out discs as I went. Now it's just a button push and a spin of the click wheel and I am on my next album.

My only beef was the headphones. They made my ear canal hurt after about 30 minutes. Not anymore! I bought a pair of Skull Candy Ink'd Smokin' Buds isolating earbuds and am just amazed at the repsonsiveness. I can run the volume at 10% and the bass is responsive and crisp. The amazing thing is that these were only $14.99 (I scored a pair during Christmas sale for Melissa for $9.99!). They sound like they should be ten times that. Simply amazing. The last time I got value like this...I can't even remember. To top it all off, their warranty is bar none. If you break them--pull a cord off, ruin one of the speakers, step on them, they will be replaced. Simply amazing!

The only bad thing I have found with them is that you will not be able to hear anything else going on around you. :)

Here is their website--they make many other models. Go and peruse and remember who told you!

FYE Superstore has them for $14.99. I suggest you go by and pick up a pair if you are an ipodiophile like myself. They are worth it.


Thursday, December 27, 2007


Melissa messaged me today a little frustrated. She couldn't figure out where her photos were which she'd uploaded from her Minolta 5D yesterday. I was at a loss to advise her, as I am new to the iMac, so I tried to help by steering her to the Apple support discussion forum. We poked around a bit, and after still not quite knowing how to retrieve the iPhoto file (it was grayed out, FYI), we gave up.

Thankfully she called in another resource and utilized a friend on her scrap booking forum to find the solution.

What I realized, sitting here, was that I have been thinking of the iMac as a cure-all. The Windows-controlled market is a bit of a one-sided bog. The Windows machines constantly need patches, get attacked by hackers/worms/trojans and as result are usually monitored by resource stealing virus software. I have been using PC's exclusively for almost a decade, and felt ready for a new option.

The mac is happening. Don't believe me? Just watch the commercials. They pit a young hip guy representing the new computer company against a balding forty-something of rotund stature. And the bald guy is a bit slow and out of touch. The hipster in jeans outhinks his pin-stripe suit of an adversary. And he doesn't even break a sweat while doing it.

Who would you rather be? Exactly.

The problem here for Melissa and myself is the learning curve. And it may mitigate some of the advantages for a little while. I anticipate more conversations like today's to occur over the next four weeks. A sort of toe-stubbing while fumbling-in-the-dark experience.

Again, take today for example. I had no idea how to fix Melissa's issue. I also realized that we'll have to fork a little cash out for Mac versions of Office, Quicken, and Photoshop. Not to mention a RAM upgrade. Oy! And to add insult to injury, I still have dry skin! This is not quite the theriacal cure I had hoped for.

Still, I am happy to have the new computer. And this one does seem to have a touch of the fantastic about it. The display is a dazzling 20". The case is sleek, as is the keyboard. And the speed of the thing, even with it's 1 GB of RAM, is astounding. From the moment it's powered on until I hit the desktop feels like a millisecond. Much faster than my Windows boot.

I am however irritated by the mouse. It doesn't track even close to the way my Windows mouse does! I end up feeling like I am picking it up and trying to nudge the cursor along. I have to be quite deliberate at times to get the mouse to move. Not like a Windows box at all in that regard.

The second biggest beef is with the OS layout--it's still a bit foreign to a MS trained monkey like me. Besides the mouse, the only real complaint I have is the strangeness of trying to find files.

Hopefully that will wear off in a few weeks.

All in all, I am satisfied. I do wish I could work out how to get the mouse to be more responsive, and I wish I could get rid of this itchy dry winter skin. :)

The iMac may not own all the attributes to qualify it as a panacea, but I will admit I still get a smile on my face just by looking at it.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

It's been nice to talk with family and friends this year. I've gotten phone calls from Jeff Wolf, Nate Harris, Burke Larsen, and my dad Bart. It's nice to catch up with people, see what they're doing, realize (unfortunately) that I haven't made many attempts at trying to spend time with them, and resolve to do so in the new year. Time slips by so quickly with work and young children, and I find myself skipping on visiting friends, and even skipping going out for that weekly date with Melissa.

It's all about priorities.

Take tomorrow for example. I am going skiing with Dave Blair, Chip Blair, Lynn Stephens, Dave Henry & Jeff Wolf at Sundance Ski Resort

At least it's with family right?

And I must say that I am even appending it--planning on leaving a bit early as tomorrow also means visiting Great Grandma Jensen, the kids opening a few presents, and a Christmas Eve/sleepover activity at Lynn and Karol/Grandma & Grandpa Stepehens' house. History has shown Melissa and I that squeezing too much into 24 hours makes us feel like being put through a wringer. So we're spreading it out over two days.

Christmas day will involve Christmas Morning at Grandma & Grandpa Stephens house (again Lynn & Karol) to open presents. It's a pretty big shindig, as Meliss & I (and our 3 kids), Dave & Kara (and their 4 kids), Lynn, Karol, Jake and Tyler all will be there. The Christmas tree looks pretty amazing with about a hundred presents around it. Christmas afternoon we're planning on eating and sitting around in a state of giftwrap-induced torpor. Late afternoon we'll head over to Dave & Toma's house for the Blair party, a traditional gift exchange played to the tune of Steal The Gift You Want. You may know it as Chinese Gift Exchange or White Elephant. I Googled it, and found a Wikipedia article that even mentions a few others. It reads like a Mel Brooks laundry list, a bunch of a.k.a's that cover just about all the demographics:

"...Yankee Swap, Red Sox Swap, Thieving Secret Santa, Dirty Santa, Scrooge's Christmas, Scottish Swap, or Thieving Elves..."

Our variation limits the gits to being stolen to two turns. This has virtually eliminated any potential bloodletting and makes for an interesting show. The only rule is that it needs to cost approx $15. And with my brothers this makes for some interesting gifts. Thankfully, the feminine side balances things out, and as a result the gifts range the gamut.

It is a fun time had by all.

Christmas night, we plan on sleeping. Ma in her kerchief and I in my cap will both settle down for a long winters nap.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

OK, I Had to Post This One...

I had to. Think of it as yin to the yang. A serious post followed by a funny post. :)

Rock on! Er...handbell on!


Amen Roland! Read On...

This post was on the "Sound Off" section of CNN, by the contributing author Roland Martin. All I can say is wow, and amen. This statement is a great stab at the idiocy of political correctness. And it's given by a passionate Christian black male, a writer/journalist for CNN.

What have we done to Christmas???

My favorite part of the article:

"I know that may sound strident, but it's true. We spend an inordinate amount of time focused on shopping and buying gifts, but really, what does any of this have to do with the birth of Jesus? We have families all over the nation killing themselves to buy a tree they can't afford, running up their credit to buy toys and other gifts, all in an effort to make someone else happy."


"Parents, don't be so consumed with the notion that your children will have a terrible Christmas because the tree isn't overflowing with gifts. The true love that you show them is more important than anything else."

I hereby call the forum for discussion open.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Best Pizza In The State

Monday night for family night, we went to Salt Lake to grab a bite to eat and see the lights at Temple Square. Originally, we'd planned on eating at a fast-food joint, but Kara, Melissa's sister, suggested we go to The Pie. If you've never been, you really need to go. It's a pizzeria in the basement of a pharmacy right next to the U of U campus (approximately 13th east and 2nd south, near Kingsbury Hall). I know the idea of eating pizza below an apothecary sounds a bit unappetizing, but it has had the honor of owning "Best Of State" on several occasions. No lie.

The atmosphere is fun, if a bit cramped-- you place an order up front near the door and when your order is ready, they call out your name over the loudspeaker. The place is a bit odd, and in truth the facility is wanting for more space and less of the dive feel to it. The brick walls have 20 years of names scrawled on them. The low lighting and the throbbing music lend it that college food-joint feel (which indeed it is). And unfortunately the bathrooms add to that tangible ambiance. The real reason for coming however is the food. The pizza is bar-none. They use fresh ingredients, gourmet cheeses, excellent meats, and fresh veggies. The result is amazing. 

I have eaten the following pizza there:

Chicken Ranch
Chicken Alfredo
Canadian Bacon & Pineapple

The last time prior to Monday night was during the Olympics in 2002. I definitely plan on not letting ti take that long again, especially now I know they have a location in South Jordan (amongst others). 

Their website?

Go. You know you want to...


Saturday, December 15, 2007

We Got One!

So...we got one!

I went down over my hour-long lunch break and braved the 2 million Utahns who were all stuck in the University Mall parking lot. I made it to the Simply Mac store, and a bare 15 minutes later, they'd run Melissa & My app, gotten the paperwork together (did I mention 12 months interest free?), and I was walking out the door with a 20" 2.4 Mhz iMac. And I was only 9 minutes late back from lunch.

Wow this thing is a beauty.

I am debating opening the box here at work, I'd really like to have Melissa present, and perhaps snap a few pictures to mark the occasion.

Looks like I'll wait then. So it's off to the break room to get extra napkins for me, as I plan on salivating constantly for the next 2 hrs 10 minutes until I'm home and can open this big ol box. :)


New Computer Dreams...

So. I am ready to migrate from Winderz to OSX. Melissa and I have been wanting an iMac for about a year. We love our iPods, love the idea of not having to deal with spy/malware, and it's time for a new comp. Granted, we could get by for another year or so with the Dell Inspiron 9200, but it's three years old and a bit slow, even with the 2 gig memory upgrade shot-in-the-arm I gave it.

S L O W. And don't even get me started about Vista.

We're trying to decide which model iMac to buy. I am thiking the 20" 2.4 Mhz, just because the processor is a bit nicer, the hard drive is bigger, and the video card is 256 MB instead of 128 MB. The down side I read is the video card on the 20" 2.4 is the Pro instead of the XT (but, as I just discovered, none of them, except for the 20" 2.0 come with that XT). I believe the difference may be a non-issue for what we're going to do with it.

I just called up our local Apple store, and they are running the 12 months interest free promo starting today (we were expecting it to begin Monday). I am going to go down over lunch and see if I can walk out with the 2.4 or 2.0 20" machine.

I will post pictures later!


Friday, December 14, 2007

What to Tell Your Boss Next Time You Call in Sick...

My Children The Terrors

Hyrum to Maddy "Hey, I'm bored. Want to go take some eggs and smear them all over the floor?" Maddy to Hyrum "Yes, but if mom catches us, both of us will deny it ok?" Hyrum to Maddy "OK, even if you get spanked on the bum, keep yelling 'It wasn't me! It wasn't me!'" Maddy to Hyrum "Wow, you are brilliant! They will never know what hit them. Go get the eggs! I will color on the TV with this blue Crayola crayon while you climb the gate and open the child-proof fridge latch. GO!"

It's totally true. In the past few days, the Christmas lights have been adulterated and broken, pop-tarts have been partially eaten and scattered all over the front room, eighteen eggs pilfered and broken on the carpet, and the TV colored on four times. My children are creative and devious, and the moment they're left alone for more than fifteen minutes, all bets are off as to what they'll do.

Hyrum to Maddy "Wanna make a flame thrower and light dad's motorcycle on fire after covering it with paper-mache form mom's good scrapbook paper?!?" Maddy to Hyrum "Yes, but if mom catches us, both of us will deny it ok?" Hyrum to Maddy "Ok, hurry and poop your pants too ok? Then walk all bowlegged and we'll pretend we couldn't have lit the bike on fire since we can't even walk straight. They'll never know. I'll get the propane, you get the glue and paper."

The only conclusion my anger-fired brain can come up with is that the kids know we are now outnumbered three to two since Miles has been born. They have a sixth sense about when mom is preoccupied in feeding the lil tyke, and they know it is time for mischief. They suit up in Kevlar, pop on the infrared goggles, and jumar up and over the gate, skitter across the kitchen floor, pop the latch of the fridge and dig in. Last week Melissa made a couple dozen sugar cookies and the kids all colored and decorated them. Normal you say for a Christmastime activity? Absolutely. Until Maddy fed eight of them to Stryker, our Boston terrier. The dog is only 18 lbs, but will gladly eat until he pukes. I know, I've cleaned it up before.

Maddy to Hyrum "Wanna stage a sit-in when Dad gets home and pops an aneurysm after he sees the mess we made?" Hyrum to Maddy "YES! I will pretend to be incapacitated and watch Spongebob, you say you're poopy and walk like a cowboy. If we totally ignore the mess on the floor and TV, and just respond with 'No!' to every question Dad asks us, it will be just like Gandhi. The system will grind to a screeching halt, and we won't get taxed on our textiles or salt any more." Maddy to Hyrum "Brilliant! I am pooping now!"

I am sitting here shaking my head. Sound too fantastic to be true? Don't doubt the story. Because my Melissa just messaged me and told me they are at it again. The two of them just ripped up the four page letter I wrote to my Grandma Blair (aka Ma'am), and most likely blamed it on their six week old brother Miles. Oy! To add insult to injury I haven't written her in probably 5 years.

I am already thinking military school, maybe pineapple picking for the both of them. At the very least, an lifetime of indentured service to me to learn the fine art of back and foot rubs. Yeah, that sounds pretty good.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Seriously Out Of Shape

I was able to go snowboarding with two of my brothers (Dave and Dan) and a few of their buddies yesterday. We all piled into my burgundy Suburban and I drove us to the Salt Lake Valley/Big Cottonwood Canyon and finally to Brighton Ski Resort.

We were participating in a Quad Wednesday, a promo the resort runs a few days in December to gather food and clothing items for the homeless. Yesterdays promo was to bring a hat, gloves or a blanket, and get an all-day lift pass for $14. I love riding at Brighton, and look forward to the trip each winter--even at $55 a ticket. So the chance to get in a ride some of Utah's best hills at a reduced price was too great to pass up. I brought two Utah Jazz beanies purchased from Walmart, and happily paid my $14 to ride the lifts. And ride them we did. I believe we got in 16 runs, despite the hour-long break for lunch.

Dave and Dan are speed demons. I like to cruise and take my time, more of a moderate speed kind of guy. The snow was perfect, fast and smooth, even where it had ben chopped up by the masses or populated by moguls. Our cold weather these past weeks has been keeping it from melting and forming any ice chunks, instead, it is perfectly granular and consistent, infact it felt absolulely ideal. The powder under the trees was deep and unconsolidated seeing as it's still early in the year. I got to enjoy some of that (mostly getting stuck and hiking out of it) but the most enjoyable of all was the corduroy. The grooming was perfect, and surprisingly, we got to cut into it well into the morning before the crowds showed up. What a gift.

The only downer of the day was my legs. I am out of shape, and the last 7-8 runs of the day really wreaked havoc on the ol' lower half. In fact, after the snowboard trip, I was sore to the point that lifting my legs felt stiff. I hobbled around for the remainder fo the evening, and today the effect still lingers in my calves. Alas for the sedentary nature of a desk job!

Here's a parting shot, a nice bit of corduroy to illustrate for you what I got to ride. The picture is nabbed off the web, as I went sans camera yesterday. This stuff is so fun to ride on, especially when it isn't icy! :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Reading Update (Wow, Two Blog Posts In One Day...A Record)

Here's a reading updae for you fellow nerds. In case you didn't read the EW article I read today, it's now pretty cool to be a nerd...So put on your glasses with the taped nose piece, some fuzzy toe socks, grab a tatty blanket and pour a cup of tea for a good read. It's too damn cold to do much else.

What I've been reading:

Confessor by Terry Goodkind
Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (Thanks Andrea Frandsen for the recommnedation!!)

The Foer book is the strangest and most achingly beautiful book I have read in quite a while. It is seriously worth the read guys.


Tasty New Pipes

Here is a picture of my new pipes...they should be delivered shortly (currently sold out, I have emailed Vance & Hines and asked for an ETA).

Dan and I pulled off the stock set the other day after I rode home in the frezing rain (I know, riding in Dec, no complaints...).

I am pretty stoked to have the new set, hopefully my bike sounds like a Harley now, not just a plugged up Cali emission bike. :)

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Game Called Grow of my colleagues named Ben introduced a game to us here at work that won some awards a few years back. And it is frustrating as hell.

If you click on this let me apologize to you first. It is addictive. The gist of the game is to "grow" the items in order to max all 12 out. Strap yourselves in astronauts, and good luck. And no cheating!

I have gotten 8 maxed out, Melissa the same. Augghhhh!