Sunday, November 30, 2008
"I don't think I have a problem with Christmas starting early. I am just fine eating turkey in one room with the Christmas tree in the other."
To me the two holidays blend together because one is about gratitude and the other is about the birth of the Savior.
My point is, it's not a big deal to me. I'll even secretly listen to Christmas music in July. Last year, we bought Sarah McLachlan's Christmas album, and it was March before I could bring myself to stop listening to it. There are a couple of songs I REALLY like (Don't mind the videos. I guess the guy who posted these just had a bunch of random pictures of Sarah McLachlan).
This one is a variation on "What Child is This" and I think I like it even more than the original:
This one took me a minute to get used to, but it grew on me and now I can't stop listening to it (again, it's a variation, and you'll have to hang on for a minute for the beat to kick in):
Any other holiday favorites?
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I've included this one because of the massive FAIL all back massages have been on me. It probably doesn't work too well when the only massage-able meat is the square inch between my shoulder blades and my neck or the five inches below my rib cage.
I used to get spasms in my back all the time in high school. My mom had a percussive massager (like the picture below) with two rubber heads that would pound away at the muscle until it relented. It always worked okay on my lower back, but as soon as she ventured up on my rib cage, that thing started bucking like a wild bull. All those bones so close to the surface made it impossible for it to do its job.
Friday, November 28, 2008
One day during the summer, we were playing downstairs and heard my mom yell for us to come upstairs. She said there was a fire on the hill across the street and then opened the door.
I still remember the blast of heat that hit me when that front door opened. Immediately, my mom went to work with the other moms on the street, dragging their garden hoses over to the hill and spraying the fire. Pretty soon, fire trucks arrived and blocked off our little street.
The fire didn't get across the street, and the firefighters were able to put it out, but it was scary to watch everything turn black so close to our house. When it was over, our local news station interviewed my friend's mom. Of course, my friend and I would not be out done. We stood in the window in her house (which was the background for the interview) and jumped up and down constantly waving our arms. In the newscast, you could see a couple silhouettes making fools of themselves in the background while this mom talked about how she felt like she nearly lost her house.
Classy. I have about as much tact now as I did then.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
A few years ago, my brother was reading the scriptures with his family. They were in the chapter about Lehi's dream of the Tree of Life in the Book of Mormon.
His oldest son (who was around 6 years old at the time) read the following verse:
1 Nephi 8:33
And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.
When he finished, he turned to his dad and, while holding up his middle finger, asked, "Hey Dad, is this the finger of scorn?"
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
My first piano teacher scared me to death, and it all started with my first lesson. When I got to my teacher's house, I wanted to make a good first impression.
As we sat down in front of the piano, she said, "Play something you already know."
Immediately, my mind began racing, trying to think of what song would impress her most. Should I wow her with "Mary Had a Little Lamb?" Would she rather hear "Hot Crossed Buns" or should I just pick that song where you make a fist and play only on the black keys?
Finally, I settled on "Chopsticks" because it required both hands. So, I stuck out my index fingers on each hand and placed them on the starting notes. Before I could start playing, a hand flew into my vision and slapped my fingers. At the same time, I heard my piano teacher say, "No! You should always play with ALL your fingers on the keys!"
Ironically, I really liked her as my piano teacher. She motivated me like none other to practice and try to get better. Maybe it was because I was always worried the next step would be to get out the whip.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Every year, we have a Christmas program. It usually involves dinner and a few musical numbers. As you can guess, music options are a little sparce. Someone found out my wife and I can sing (although my wife is MUCH better than I am) and that we can't say no.
Last year, either one or both of us were involved in every single song. This year is the same story (except for one song that will be performed by all the kids). Our main concern is that people are going to think we volunteered for this. I think I would rather watch every episode of Barney the dinosaur or deal with the flu every day in the month of December than sing this much in public.
Thankfully, I married a girl who oozes musical talent. As a result, she can cover me up pretty well and no one will listen to me too closely. I also have to keep reminding myself that everyone listening is just grateful it's not them up on stage.
Monday, November 24, 2008
If you're calling a home (particularly if it's for the 47th time), and the person answering says their name is Nathan, don't assume they are lying to you. Don't assume their parents were cruel for giving a girl a boy's name. If someone says their name is Nathan, they're probably a guy, even though everything in you says the voice on the other end of the line sounds just like a woman who's had one too many cigarettes.
Here's another tip. If you're ever presented with this strange situation, DON'T fall back on your telemarketer training and try to be polite. Calling this person "Ma'am" won't improve your chances of a sale. You'll also join the ranks of other telemarketers who alienate themselves, and you'll only make this person feel even more self conscious about the fact that he is still waiting for his voice to change.
***The situations in the preceding story may or may not be based on real events. The names also may or may not have been changed to protect the innocent.***
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Usually when an actor has to be sad on the screen, they look more like they've sucked on a sour lemon. I'm not talking about mad crying. Usually a bunch of frustrated arm gestures helps make it a little more convincing. I'm talking about the sad crying, where someone is supposed to hold real still and let a tear run down their cheek and get a little lip quiver.
Since I watch entirely too many movies, I've seen a few actors who, to me, are good cryers. They do a great job at making me want to reach through the TV and ask them, "Do you want a tissue?"
Here's my list so far (in no particular order):
Jim Caviezel - High Crimes
Jensen Ackles - Supernatural (TV) (new addition that honestly surprised me)
Does anyone want to add one?
Saturday, November 22, 2008
When I was little, I thought my mom was He-man. She could open anything. I always hoped I could be like her when I grew up.
Fast forward a few years ...
It's a lesson in comedy to watch me try to open a jar. Have you ever seen Mr. Burns on the Simpsons?
Mr. Burns was one of my nicknames in high school. It bounced back and forth between Mr. Burns (due to my uncanny stick-like resemblance) and Ned Flanders (because I was such a goodie-two-shoes).
I love the two scenes when Mr. Burns tries to throw a bowling ball and when he tries to give Smithers "the thrashing of a lifetime." If I could have found a link, I would have posted it so you could see. That is exactly what it looks like when I try to open a jar.
Friday, November 21, 2008
One of the worst parts is the snow. Snow is cool for about 2 minutes if you're inside and it's falling down outside. Once you have to go out in it, shovel it or watch it turn gray then black on the side of the road, it loses all it's charm for me.
I thought that exposure to it would at least get me used to it and help me give in. It hasn't. I'll just have to buckle down for the long haul and keep looking at pictures like this:
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I was there for a couple winters, and that place is COLD. They attribute the sharply decreased temperature to the way the buildings funnel the winds through downtown. When it’s cold, it feels like the wind is going to rip the top layer of skin off your face. There are flags placed all around the intersection, and I kid you not, the flags are usually whipping at full force in completely different directions. Winds come howling though there from every direction and converge at that intersection. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it.
Did you also know that Winnipeg is the Slurpee capital of the world?
They even have bumper stickers declaring it, so it must be true, right? That was the other thing that baffled me. It was typical to see people bundled up like that kid in "A Christmas Story" (LOVE this movie), waiting for the bus, sucking on a Slurpee.
My apologies for those who hate talking about Christmas before Thanksgiving, but bringing up "A Christmas Story" did me in. I just had to post the trailer.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I'm a freak of nature. I wish I could say this because I have some kind of special mind powers or super strength or even the ability to commit (although, my wife says I already have this one down, so maybe I should add it to my list).
But, should I tell you what it is? I mean ... some day, I might need my secret identity, and here I've already blown it. I guess since no one reads this thing anyway it's no big deal, right?
So get ready to be BLOWN A-WAY ...
... (drum roll) ...
The middle finger on my right hand is about an eighth of an inch longer than the middle finger on my left hand. Even cooler, my toes match (right middle is longer than left middle).
The problem is, I don't know if I can hack it. The pressure of having a gift like this is just too great sometimes. I don't want to squander my abilities for myself. I'm thinking of the greater good. So far, nothing else has manifested, but I'm holding out for the ability to fly or bulletproof skin. I'll keep you posted.
This brings me to my dilemma. I've racked my brain looking for good crime fighting applications of this gift, and the only thing I've come up with is that I can use my "extension" to really get noticed if I want to flip off a guy robbing a bank or stealing a candy bar from the store. (Clarification to the mother who raised me to be a good boy: Mom, you taught me to never flip people off, and I'm happy to say I never have. This is just in theory ...)
So, until my other powers arrive, I'm pretty much stumped. However, if anyone needs an extra long middle finger, you know where to find me.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Since I can't convince our house to stop falling apart, I've had to try my best to fix things I normally wouldn't feel comfortable touching. On top of that, there are two things that freak me out in home improvement projects. Electricity and water. Electricity because it's invisible and can kill you. Water because it's amazing how much property damage it can do.
Is there a name for home-repair-phobia? If so, I think I have it.
Still, I've had to face my fears, and I've even run up a nice little list of successful projects:
- Leaky pipe under the sink
- Faulty electrical outlet
- Measuring and installing blinds
- Wiring for high-speed Internet
- Furniture assembly
- Demolition (not nearly as fun as it sounds) - carpet and linoleum removal
Thanks to these semi-successful projects, I no longer get cold sweats when I walk into Home Depot or have nightmares about drill bits and screwdrivers.
Monday, November 17, 2008
When my wife and I got out of our appointments, she made the following comment:
"Man, I like going to the dentist. He looked at my teeth and said, 'Wow, you have perfect teeth.' It's nice to get a little ego boost."
It was then I got to tell her about my six new friends taking up residence in my mouth. Needless to say, I REALLY hope my daughter gets my wife's teeth.
I've always been proud of myself that I haven't ever had a procedure at the dentist's office that required Novocaine. During college, I was bad and didn't go to the dentist like I should have. After I graduated, I went and found out I had a couple cavities (surprise, surprise). When he started to fill them, I was surprised when he suddenly came at me with a needle. I let him do what he had to, all the while coming to grips with the fact that my streak was over. Then he started drilling. I didn't feel a thing. It was amazing, and it was only then when I realized something about my childhood dentist. I don't think he believed in Novocaine because I had a vivid flashback to the dentist's chair growing up. I remember feeling the burning pain of the drill in my mouth as I tried not to move. I remember being afraid that if I jumped or jolted, that drill would slip and go through my lip or something. Instead, I held as still as possible, and gripped the armrests with all my might.
Now, I know what I was missing.
Oddly enough, I don't mind going to the dentist. Maybe I'm just resigned to the continual relationship I have with the drill.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
When I was little, my favorite book was "The Giving Tree." I loved reading how the tree was willing to give everything she had to the boy, even if it would take him away from her. Each time, the boy never said thank you and never really acknowledged the gift, but in spite of that, the tree was always happy. It reminded me that if I was going to be nice to people, I shouldn't expect anything in return. I should just be nice because I want to.
I even had my very own giving tree in my backyard. It was a huge pine tree that had tilted so far over that you could walk up the trunk. About 6 feet off the ground, a huge section grew out of the side to balance it out. Looking at it from far away, it looked like a giant Y. I used to climb up that tree all the time and sit alone in the branches. I loved having a special place all to myself.
At one point, my parents had to have the tree cut down because it was bending closer and closer to our shed. I still remember watching the chainsaws cut off big chunks of the trunk. It was unusually sad for me to watch that childhood refuge disappear.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I thought I'd follow it up with a few tips on how to think like me:
- Humor: Assume everyone automatically thinks you're funny. This will improve your confidence and help with your denial when crickets accompany the punchlines of most of your jokes.
- Naivety: While being naive makes you the butt of many jokes, it helps in managing people's expectations of you. They'll always be disproportionately impressed with some minor thing you've accomplished.
- Frown Lines vs. Smile Lines: We will all get wrinkles. It's inevitable. When I was younger, I thought I would rather have crinkles around my eyes rather than a perma-scowl, so I decided I would try to smile a lot. Don't laugh. This thought, along with many, many others passed through my head at some point during childhood.
- Rain: Everything is better when it rains. My first day back from vacation, it rained all day. Over all, it was a good day, and I attribute that to the rain. I know. I'm weird. Either that or I'm permanently starved for moisture from growing up in a desert.
- Teasing Yourself: It is much less embarrassing to tell a joke about yourself than having someone else spill the beans on something stupid you've done. I always try to get out there first so I can be the one to tell the story.
I suppose I could go on, but I'll spare you.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
So, this story is only good if you can see the hand gestures that go with it. Since that isn't possible, you're just goin to have to make due.
My sister has two boys. She often talks about how her body isn't quite the way it used to be, and is a little sad about the changes that have occurred. For the record, she looks great and shouldn't feel this way.
One day, she was in her room, and her son came in. He made the following gesture and then asked the question below.
Cup both hands like you would if you were begging for change or holding a little bit of water. Hold both hands in front of your chest, palms up and fingers pointing together (like you're cupping something that is definitely NOT water). See where this is going? Now with a quick jerk, move your hands down and up simultaneously. Now, when you see this symbol ($) in the question he asked, that stands for the above gesture (wow, this is even harder to explain than I thought).
Here is what he asked his mom:
"Mom, why do you have ($) baggy ($) sacks?"
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
My freshman year of college, my friend and I took an astronomy class. We thought it would be cool and didn't think it would be too tough. We didn't count on a professor from the stone age. We also didn't count on the fact that every other student in the class was either an astronomy major or took astronomy classes in the past.
This particular teacher mumbled everything he said, and rather than using the chalkboard or a PowerPoint presentation, he insisted on using the same overhead slides he used back in the 70s. These suckers were all chipped and yellow and the handwriting on them was almost illegible. Combine that with the fact that he kept switching them at lightning speeds, and you can see why we did so poorly. To clarify, I'm not blaming my teacher for my failure. I understand that I could have applied myself and done better, but I didn't, and all of these factors compounded the situation.
So, long story short, at the end of the semester, my friend and I had the most solid of solid Ds. She and I calculated our grades and realized that if we aced the final, we would still have a D. If we bombed the final, we would still have a D. So, we decided not to stress over it and didn't study at all for the test.
To celebrate the impending doom of finals week, a bunch of us went out to eat and one of those cool restaurants where you gorge yourself on the slabs of meat they bring to your table. The next day, both my friend and I succumbed to food poisoning. I, being the wimp that I was, recovered much slower than my friend, but we still missed the astronomy final. I was busy staying home, trying desperately to keep the saltine crackers and sprite from reappearing for an encore (if you catch my drift).
And wouldn't you know it. I somehow overlooked the fine print that said if you don't show up for the final, you drop a letter grade. I had never failed a class before. I had never gotten a D before. I nearly fainted when I opened up my report card from that semester.
The only good thing that came out of this experience was the giant trash bag my friend brought me. She told everyone I was sick and had everyone in the dining hall sign this thing, explaining it was going to be my new vomit bag. That night, I got a giant bag with a bunch of signatures, some of whom I knew, and many of which I didn't.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
One year when I was still in college, I got to go down and participate. It was the best camping I've ever done, including all the camping I did as a Scout.
I was exhausted from studying and tests and didn't feel much like getting in the ocean, so I just brought a book to read. I sat under an umbrella and got to be lazy without any guilt. Is there anything better?
The problem came on the last day when I didn't notice the sun shifting overhead and ended up with my legs in the sun for most of the afternoon. By the time I noticed, it was too late. The next day, they swelled up and got all red. I thought I was going to have to amputate. By the end of the week, they had turned purple. I'm not kidding you. They were dark purple. I'm amazed they didn't blister or something. It's probably a medical miracle. I just wish I had a picture of them to post as well. It was really creepy to have pasty white arms and plum colored legs.
True to my genetic heritage, once the purple was gone, they immediately returned to their translucent white. After all that, I didn't even get the benefit of a nice tan.
Monday, November 10, 2008
You know those newlywed games that ask couples questions about each other? One question my wife and I heard once was, "In one word, how would you describe your first kiss?" My wife and I immediately turned to each other and simultaneously said, "Awkward!"
It was Valentine's Day. We had gone to the speed skating rink that was built during the Olympics in Salt Lake City. My girlfriend (now my wife) didn't really know how to skate, so I'm sure this wasn't the best outing for her. Still, I enjoyed it because she had to cling to me the whole time to keep from falling. At the end of the evening, I walked her to her door, and knew I needed to take the plunge. Thanks to my years of kissing virginity, I felt like a member of the high school chess club with D&D dice in my pocket trying to hit on the head cheerleader.
I don't know what I looked like, but I'm sure the shot of my face would have won me a boat load of money on America's Funniest Home Videos. Not knowing how to make my move, I asked if I could kiss her. That's right. I asked her. Does it get any more lame than that? After a mumbled "Ok," I went for it.
And, the deed was done. I don't know if she knew about my policy, but I knew she was the one for me. Thankfully, she forgave me for that hideous lip lock. And I suppose it is a minor consolation prize that I can say I've never kissed another girl (other than my mother).
Sunday, November 9, 2008
So, not that you're interested, but we went to California. My daughter doesn't ever stop moving (even when she's asleep) so you can imagine how fun the car ride was there and back.
Still, we got some great family time together, and my coworkers were nice enough to cover for me, so I only got three phone calls with minor questions.
Hopefully, I'll get back in to the swing of things tomorrow and I'll have more random stories to post.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
When I saw this, I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to know how to do this. It reminded me of Dwight on The Office talking about his cholesterol.
Dwight: Through concentration, I can raise and lower my cholesterol at will.
Pam: Why would you wanna raise your cholesterol?
Dwight: So I can lower it.
That's how pointless I thought this was. However, I've apparently been missing out on a whole world of body language. I guess our pupils are supposed to say a bunch about how we feel about the person we're talking to.
Me? I've never noticed what someone's pupils have done during a conversation. Am I going to worry about it? Nope.
I think people would be completely creeped out by the fact that I'm staring intensely at their eyes to gauge the size of their pupils. That's just me ...
Friday, November 7, 2008
One of my siblings' favorite stories to tell about my childhood is when we went to pick my brother up from college one summer. Being the youngest of 9 kids, my oldest brother was out of the house by the time I was born, and we scheduled a family trip to go get him from school. Having had no real quality one-on-one time with me in the past, he mistakenly took the seat next to me for the trip home. I can only assume he thought I would spend most of my time coloring or taking a nap.
What he didn't realize is that I had somehow developed the rare ability to intake air without having to stop the flow of words that spewed non-stop out of my mouth. For the next twelve hours, I chattered away at him. I don't remember what I said, and I don't remember anything out of the ordinary, but when we finally arrived and he stumbled out of the car, dazed and confused, my family realized what had happened.
They apologized for neglecting to tell him a sanity preservation measure they had learned. Evidently, I didn't care whether or not anyone engaged in the conversation with me. I seemed oblivious whether or not the person I was talking to inserted the right number of "ohs" and "ums" and "oks" in the right places. Consequently, my family discovered they could completely ignore me and even play music on their walkman without me noticing.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Usually, I'm baffled because it all depends on my mood, the person I'm talking to, and the phases of the moon, but I think I can safely say I have a favorite movie ... at least for the moment.
I think I like this one even better because no one I talk to has ever heard of it. It's called "Noises Off" and it's hilarious!
It was released in 1992, and has a great cast: Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, John Ritter, Marilu Henner, Nicollette Sheridan, etc.
John Ritter has a mouth in this thing, so it may not be for the most sensitive of ears. The trailer looks like it's all slapstick, and while it is a large part of the show, there is a lot more to it.
Watch the movie. Now.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I've kept this thing through the years because I learned an important lesson back when I got it in kindergarten.
Here's the story:
Before the Christmas break, my kindergarten teacher went on vacation. When she came back, she brought a bunch of pine cones she collected during her camping trip. She announced that she would like to give them to us one by one, and asked that we get in line.
Predictably, anytime there is free stuff, no matter how senseless, any group of kids quickly becomes a volatile mob. In a brief moment of clarity, I thought, "Nathan, you don't need to be first. How about you let the others get in line before you?"
As a result, I was literally the last student in line. When it was finally my turn, and everyone else was busy comparing the ones they got, trying to see whose was the biggest/best, my teacher reached into her bag and got a panicked look on her face. She realized she had accidentally miscounted and didn't have any left. She looked devastated, so I told her it was no big deal. It was a little sad for me because I really was looking forward to getting mine. After all, I was one of those kids who can so quickly turn into a mob. I went back to my seat, and didn't notice when my teacher slipped out of the room while her aides took over the lesson.
A few minutes later, she returned, and announced her mistake to the class. She then said the other kindergarten teacher in the school was handing out pine cones as well and happened to have one extra. She then presented me with my pine cone, but the other teacher had taken the time to flock hers so it looked like it had snow on it. All of the other kids noticed the difference and seemed a little disappointed that they had pushed ahead of me in line.
Oddly, this was a profound teaching moment for me. I learned that being nice is not a sign of weakness and that good things happen to those who are kind. As I've grown and watch people get ahead of the game through deceit and ruthless behavior, I've kept this little pine cone as a reminder that they will get their reward and I will get mine.
In the end, they may have a bigger car and a nicer house, but I'll be able to live with myself and will have a clear conscience. Sometimes the rewards won't look like they match, but not everything can be measured tangibly.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
We had "The Penalty Box."
If I was being a dork, my parents would put me in the penalty box until I could calm down and behave myself. Needless to say, I spent some real quality time in the penalty box.
I suppose the location could have changed, depending on where the offense occurred, but mine usually ended up at the top of the stairs leading down under the garage. There was a door at the top that my parents could shut so they wouldn't hear me protest how unfair it was that I had to sit there.
Here is the part where I wasn't the brightest crayon in the box (aside from getting put there in the first place). Under the garage, we had a room. This room contained toys, videos, the piano and the TV (although we didn't get any channels ... it was just for movies).
Did I ever think to take a little trip downstairs to play for a while? Nope. I just sat there kicking the door with my feet, yelling until I decided I wanted my freedom again.
Monday, November 3, 2008
But I don't like it. In fact, I don't like watching sports in general on TV. Being at a game is a different story, but watching on my couch has never held much appeal. As a result, I don't follow any teams and sound like an idiot when my friends talk about the finer points of a particular sport.
This wasn't a recent development either. When I was little, my dad would take me to baseball games because he had season tickets. I went for the food. It was almost a religious ritual. I started with a hot dog and a drink. That usually lasted 1 or 2 innings. Then I moved onto a bag of peanuts. Depending on how much I dragged this out, I could really make these last for a while. Then, I finished it all off with a frozen malt.
These seats were in the dugout, so in between stuffing my face, I annoyed the security at the entrance by pretending I had urgent business outside the dugout area. When they first let you in, they stamped your hand with a UV stamp. Then, you had to hold it up under a black light if you ever left the area. I probably made 20 trips out each game. By the end of the evening, the guard would just wave me through, but I insisted on showing him my stamp. It was SO cool to see it appear under the light.
The other indicator that I never liked sports was when I watched TV at home. My dad would come in and ask if he could just get the score. I would grudgingly hand him the remote, and half an hour later, he'd still be sitting there. It's mesmerizing for him, but I just couldn't get into it.
So, there you go. I have to give all of you a man card. My only consolation is that my wife loves my ambivalence of sports.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Do you ever get excited thinking about the extra hour of sleep you'll get and how much energy you'll have the next day?
Do you ever actually go to bed early enough to benefit from that extra hour?
I never do.
But I have plans for making it up. I'm not a huge New Year's Eve kind of person. I always end up falling asleep, and I've never been a fan of that song everyone sings at midnight. As a result, I plan on pulling one over on my kids when they're old enough to want to stay up but not old enough to do it without making my life miserable the next day.
My sister does this and it's brilliant. On New Year's Eve, she goes around and sets all the clocks forward a couple hours. Then we count down until midnight and all go to bed at 10:30 p.m. It's fantastic, and they never caught on.
Maybe I'm a horrible dad, but I like sleep.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
How to Feign Interest when an Annoying Person Talks to You
My reason for posting this one in particular? I wanted you all to know that I'm onto you. The next time I start talking to you, I'll be watching for these signals. I also figure it might be nice to finally have a method for how to deal with me when I start sharing my lame stories.