Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Good Times

This past Monday night Anthony and I had an opportunity to do something really fun. We got to go to a Portland Trailblazers, basketball game. (insert shouts and hollers here)

Now I am not personally a big fan of the game. Heck, I'm not even a little fan of the game really, but considering it was time spent with my boy and the tickets were free, I was a fan for a night.

About two weeks ago I received a call from my sales rep where I get my flooring supplies thanking me for placing a rather large order. In addition to his thanks, he also said there was an envelope at the store with my name on it. In it were two tickets to the game against the Blazers and the Chicago Bulls, a parking pass and two passes to the Lexus Club. Way cool!!!

So Monday rolls around and Anthony was anxiously waiting for me to finish work. I knocked off a bit early and made it home by five. A quick shower and we were off to the Rose Garden. (the arena where the Blazers play) We made it up there just ahead of six o'clock, a full hour before tip off. I pulled into the parking garage, whipped out my handy dandy parking pass and we were in.

A couple of minutes later they opened the doors and we walked in to go find our seats. We laughed because when we walked in, we were at gate A7 and our tickets said to enter at A26. Figuring there must be fifty or so gates we started off towards the higher numbers. As we walked and walked and walked some more, we finally made it to A26. Just past it was A1. We really laughed when we realized we had almost completely circled the arena before making it to our gate. Had we have gone the other direction, we would have only had to walk a short distance to get there.

We couldn't believe what great seats we had. First level about twelve rows up from the floor right behind the Blazers bench. Not quite center court, but pretty darned close! (This pic is from our seats. No zooming in) We sat down for a bit and watched as the two teams did some warm-ups on the court.

We then decided to go see what the Lexus Club was all about, so we donned our wrist bands and headed up the steps to go find it. A very nice usher directed us to the escalator across the walkway from us. Once up there we were treated to a complimentary, all you can eat buffet. They had everything from prime rib to hot dogs available. We grabbed a plate full of goodies and a couple of sodas, then went on a quest for a table to sit at. That was a challenge, but we eventually found one. After filling our bellies we headed back to take in the game.

The game itself was a great one to watch. Lots of action and the occasional slam dunk to really get the crowd going. The Bulls took an early lead, but by half time it had evaporated and the Blazers were in command. They would not lose the lead again and would eventually go on to win by a score of 122 to 98.

To me the Blazers could have won by fifty points or lost by the same and it wouldn't have mattered one bit, because the smile on Anthony's face was absolutely priceless! Oh ya, I guess I had one on too.

Good times...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How Pumpkin Pies Are Made

I've never been much of a fan of pumpkin pie before.

Now I think I know why!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Man Vs. Machine

Before I get on with the actual post, let me take a moment to express my heart felt thank you to all who came by to say hi and offer up well wishes for Randy. When I talk with him next I'll be sure to pass them on.

As I was doing some long overdue catching up on various blogs the other day, I came across one in particular that hit my funny bone just right. It was penned by Kelly who writes at Cross Your T's. The post, titled, "How to Fold a Fitted Sheet ... Me vs. Martha!" can be found by clicking here. As you can probably ascertain from the title, it's a great comparison of how a "trained professional" versus the rest of the world folds a fitted sheet. If you've ever wrestled with trying to fold one of those scrunchy cornered monsters you'll enjoy Kelly's take on how to tame one.

Inspired by her post, I thought I'd do something similar with a man's perspective of setting up and programming a DVD/VCR player.


I had Lisa find the User's Guide that came with our DVD/VCR combo we purchased several years ago. (It should be noted here that as a man, I had absolutely no idea where the manual was, let alone if one ever existed in the first place.) Sure enough she came out of her office/craft room within a minute carrying said booklet. Dang that woman is good!

Step 1

According to the manual the first thing you are to do is to connect the DVD/VCR to the TV. "Using an RCA-type audio/video cable (red, white, yellow) connect the line out jacks on the back panel of your DVD/VCR to your TV's line in jacks. Use the three cables as follows: red for right, white for left, and yellow for video."

How a man begins this simple process:

Look for the colored cable thingies that came in the box. Look again when you don't find them the first time through. Ask your wife if she's seen the cables that you're sure were in a small plastic sleeve when you opened the box. When she informs you that there was no such bag, state "I knew we shouldn't have bought this cheap model." and tell her you'll just go up to the store and get a set of cables. Climb into your truck, start it up and realize you are out of gas. Mutter something to yourself like, "Dang it, I should have filled up on my way home last night when the gas light came on." Go to the gas station to fill up then proceed to the local electronics store.

Once at the store, ignore the sales person at the front who asks if he can help you find what you're looking for. Walk past the new 60 inch high definition super deluxe TV's and think about how nice they would look in your living room. Grab a credit application and put it in your back pocket "Just in case". Stop by the video game console and play a game of "Death Shooter Squadron" with a snot nosed little kid who proceeds to kick your butt while rolling his eyes in disgust at how easy it was to defeat the "old man". Mutter under your breath that the kid's parents probably let him spend way too much time playing games and not nearly enough time doing school work, thusly justifying the walloping you just received. Take a gander at a few CD's and then remember you originally came in for a set of connection cables. Find the wall of wires and finally pinpoint the space where there are normally red,white and yellow cable combos. Notice they are currently out of stock on these. Offer up a colorful metaphor just loud enough for the sweet little old lady in the isle next to you to hear. Apologize for your outburst, then realize you distinctly remember having a box of left over wires and cables on the shelf in the garage. Convince yourself that there will be something in there you can use and head back home feeling good that you saved the ridicules price the store wanted for the cables anyway.

Once back home, locate and open the box of wires and cables. Comment on how smart you were for saving all these gems. Upon further searching, discover there are no yellow or white cables, but there are in fact, three black RCA-type cables of various lengths. Grab a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie, then label two of the cables with a "W" and a "Y" respectively. Go into the house, get "the look" from your wife at your handiwork then connect the DVD/VCR to the TV.

Step 2

The manual instructs you to, "Plug in the DVD/VCR to a standard 120/60Hz wall outlet. Avoid pressing any buttons on the remote control or the unit during Auto Setup. While your DVD/VCR is running Auto Setup, "AUTO" will blink on the front display. When the Auto Setup is complete , the current time will be displayed on the front panel."

How a man continues this difficult process:

Pull the cabinet that the TV sits on away from the wall. Locate the DVD you couldn't find three years ago and were subsequently charged for by the rental store for a lost item. Comment on what a dumb movie it was in the first place and how it really frosted your shorts that you had to pay full price for it when it couldn't be found. Hear "OH MY GOD!" come from your wife as she looks at all the dust that's collected since the cabinet was last moved, then wait for her as she insists on vacuuming behind the cabinet before you do anything else.

Once a thorough cleaning and disinfecting has occurred resume the task at hand. Locate the power strip that currently has all available slots in use. Unplug the light for the goldfish tank containing a single goldfish that was won at the county fair four years earlier. Recall spending twenty dollars for your five year old to throw ping pong balls into a jar to win the thirty-nine cent fish. Secretly hope it will somehow kill off that darned fish that otherwise just wont seem to die.

Plug in the DVD/VCR into the now vacant spot. Look at the display and notice that it shows "AUTO" blinking. Immediately grab the remote control and press every combination of buttons imaginable. Become increasingly frustrated that nothing seems to work. Make a comment like, "I can not believe they can't design one of these things that works right." Finally, settle for a series of dashes displayed across the front panel, being resigned to the fact that you will never see the current time displayed on any DVD/VCR ... ever!

Step 3 & 4

According to the manual, you are to turn on the DVD/VCR combo, then do the same with the TV.

How a man continues this ridicules process:

Turn on the TV. Notice that the baseball game is on. Become engrossed with the game and continue to watch it for the next forty-five minutes completely abandoning the DVD/VCR for the time being. When your team loses again for the fifth straight time, comment on what a bunch of overpaid bums they are and resume with the DVD/VCR setup. Turn on the DVD/VCR.

Step 5

The manual instructs you to, "Set the button on the back of the DVD/VCR combo to either 3 or 4. Remember to set the TV to this same number when operating the DVD/VCR. You have now successfully completed the setup of your new DVD/VCR combo. Congratulations!"

How a man completes the impossible process:

Slide the DVD/VCR into place completely ignoring the fact that there is a button on the back to select a viewing channel. Tune the TV to channel 2 and notice there is nothing but snow on the screen accompanied by an obnoxiously loud hissing sound coming from the speakers. Throw your hands in the air and exclaim, "What the *%#@! I did everything just the way it was supposed to be done!" Watch your wife leave the room shaking her head as you continue your tantrum. Mentally run through all the steps you've taken over the past four hours while attempting to program this blinkity blank thing. Pull the cabinet away from the wall again. Check your master electrician style wiring. Determine that Edison couldn't have done it any better. Play with all the buttons on the remote one more time. Unplug and re-plug in both the DVD/VCR and TV, "Just in case". Just before you fling the DVD/VCR across the room, discover the button on the back for selecting channel 3 or 4. Wonder out loud who the idiot was who "changed" the selection from channel two to 3 or 4. Click the button to three, then tune the TV to the same channel. Smile as you see the screen boldly display the DVD/VCR manufactures' icon. Holler out, "Honey, I got it!"

Give a fake, "Ha Ha Ha!" as your wife comes back into the room wearing your son's catchers mask asking, "Is it safe now?" Grab the DVD she hands you to put in. Without looking at the movie, hit the eject button and place the DVD into the open slot. Sit back in your chair, hit the start button and wait for the movie to begin.

Wonder why you ever started this whole process when you realize your wife has selected the lastest chick-flick starring Matthew McConaughey.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Two Very Different Phone Calls


What to talk about.

It's been ages since I've put anything together here, and I wonder who might make it by now. Thank you to those that have/will.

So the other day I called two friends down in California. We are going down there (Calif) this Christmas to spend time with Lisa's mom and brother and I wanted to find out who else might be around to visit during our stay. These two calls could not have been more different. The first was to Liz. She was on top of the world. In a new home, work going well, life seemed to be burning on all cylinders for her. She went on to tell me how she believed God had put her in her current home as a testimony to his grace and goodness. When she unfolded the story of how she came to get the house, I could easily see how Gods hand played a part of it. There were so many elements of the story to simply be chance I thought.

After talking for about a half an hour, catching up with each other, I said goodbye and called another good friend Randy. His wife Mo answered and when I asked how the old man (Randy) was doing, she said, "Well, he's got the big "C"." As I gulped, I timidly asked, "Do you mean cancer?" As much as I was hoping she was going to say no, she unfortunately said that was in fact what it was.


She took the phone out to him and we started catching up with each other. I found out he had just had his first chemotherapy treatment that day. My heart sank. This is a guy only a few years older than me. He should not have to be facing this at his age I thought. Then again, no one should have to face going through cancer. What an ugly disease.

We managed to laugh and enjoy some lighter moments, although we both knew there was this behemoth lurking in the corner. I wanted to find the right words to share with my long time friend, but as I verbalized to him, in that situation, there just don't seem to be any to find. We both understood and told each other we loved one another.

Even as I type these words, my eyes are heavy with tears welling up behind them.

In the past few days I've been going through what I would assume is the natural questioning. Why can some of us be so up while others are in such a bad way? Why does a God who claims to be so full of grace allow such things as cancer to exist?

Why? Why? Why?

Many more questions have come to mind while some answers have managed to surface.

My faith is still in tact, but I've been consumed with many questions that seem to lay dormant until something like this happens.

I know we all come from different beliefs so I will ask for prayers, positive thoughts, well wishes or whatever might be offered for my friend. They are all appreciated.

Be well all.