Monday, November 17, 2008

I Got On The Scale And What Did I See?

I've been working on my weight loss for quite a few months now. The other day I got on the bathroom scale and was pleasantly surprised to see my weight. It wasn't something that I was expecting, yet I became very excited about it. The scale said that I was not longer over weight. Yes, that's exactly what it said. In a loud booming voice the scale bellowed "Congratulations! You Are No Longer An Unhealthy Mass Of Flab."

Okay, that maybe a bit of an exaggeration. There is no talking scale in my bathroom. Although if there was a talking scale, I doubt it would be so articulate. I did get on the scale though and was surprised that I've met and surpassed my target weight. I was so excited that I immediately took this picture and texted a couple of friends about my happy accomplishment.

I know the picture is somewhat grainy, but just in case you're wondering, the scale says 177.5. As in 177.5 pounds. That's 7.5 pounds below my target weight of 185 pounds. This is close the my weight when I came home from my mission! That was 10 years ago!

I know that I'm a big dork for being so excited about this and then posting it on my blog. But hey, if you can't share it with the whole world wide web, then who can you share it with? I'm feeling really good about myself and in addition to a crazy, yet wonderful, weekend, this was just icing on the cake. Except I don't really eat cake anymore. I mean I do eat some sweets, but...well you know what I mean.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just For The Record

Last night, as I was looking through some books on my shelf, I came across my missionary journal. I didn't have much to do, so I opened it up and began reading. I haven't opened my journal up since my mission. In fact I have never even read any of the entries. I had written down my feelings and experiences (so I thought) and haven't really thought about them since.

It turns out that I wasn't very articulate or expressive as a 19 year old kid. Big surprise there. I used the words 'awesome' and 'cool' a lot. When describing teaching experiences I often wrote something to the effect of, 'the spirit was so strong'. What does that mean? As I was reading my journal entries I found that I was a little irritated with myself because I hadn't been more descriptive. I thought I was doing a good thing by keeping a journal. Keeping a journal is good, but I think it's better when you actually put your thoughts and feelings down instead of vague words and phrases. I do feel confident that I have some good thoughts and ideas written down, I just haven't discovered them yet. I wish I had written down more of the things I had learned and not only the day to day experiences. I look back now and I want to know what things were taught in my district meetings which caused me to write down the phrase 'the spirit was so strong'.

This experience helped me to understand the importance of keeping a journal, or diary, or blog, or some form of life record. As a child, it seemed to me, I would often see my mom writing in her journal. Her journal wasn't anything fancy, just a spiral bound notebook she would write in. For family home evening, she would attempt to teach us the importance of keeping our own journals. I remember a few times, the activity after the lesson was to make our own journal with notebook and construction paper, and then to write in it. I'm sad to say that those journals usually had just one or two entries before the were forgotten.

Even more sad to me is that I haven't done very well at keeping a journal since I came home from my mission. The past 10 years of my life are recorded only in my mind. It isn't very good that my mind is the only place where those memories are kept. Memories need to be written down. I'm not saying that I'm old, but I already forget things that have happened last week, let alone the past 10 years. I've decided to make a better effort at keeping a journal. Not only for me look back, reflect and learn, but hopefully someday my posterity will be able to learn as well through my thoughts and experiences.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Long Time, No Writing

I know, I know. I haven't written or updated my blog recently. It's not from a lack of ideas or thoughts to write down and share with world. It's complete and total laziness on my part. I kept thinking to myself, 'Self, put up a new post tomorrow'. Which of course never happened. So I figured I'd just make a big long post about the things that I have been up to in the past 3 weeks.

Run for the Wolves 5k
This is as good of a place to start off as any. I decided to run this 5k race because I wasn't very happy with the time that I got for the Homecoming 5k. Although my time for the Homecoming 5k was an improvement on my previous race time, it still wasn't under 30 minutes. I was sure that I could run 5k at a faster pace. So I signed up for Run for the Wolves 5k.

A couple of my friends said that they would sign up for the race too, and we could run it together. As the race got closer though, I found I was the only one that had actually signed up for the race. I talked to my friends and all of them had some reason or excuse not to run the race with me. I on the other hand was committed. I'd like to say I was committed because I'm a dedicated running person, but mostly it's because I had already paid the sign up fee and there were no refunds. So I went to the race by myself.

This race was much smaller than the other two races I ran in. There were only about 300 people compared to the 600 in my first race and the nearly 1,700 people in the homecoming race. I arrived at the starting location and this race had a completely different feel to it. There were people and dogs dressed up in costumes. I saw a small dog dressed like a hot dog and a guy wearing faerie wings. This race seemed more relaxed and laid back than the others.

As the race got started I was feeling pretty good. I began the race at the front to the pack and I was feeling pretty good about being ahead of everyone. That feeling didn't last very long though, as people passed me on regular basis. Still I kept my pace and kept moving along. I would like to say that this was the easiest race of the three that I have ran. I would be lying if I said that. In fact running in this race was down right hard. I kept thinking to myself that I was going to have to stop running and walk. I began picking points ahead of me and thought to myself when I reached that point I would walk. I would reach that particular point and realize that I could go a little further. So I would pick another point ahead of me and tell myself the same thing. I kept doing that until I finally got to the point where I was going to walk. I had made up my mind and I needed a rest. That is when I looked up and saw the finish line. I couldn't start walking so close to the end, so I kept running. I finished with a time of 27:36. What a pleasant surprise. I finally ran a race in fewer in 30 minutes. In fact, that is 3 minutes faster than my previous race time. Now the trick is to keep on running, so when I run a race again next year I can do even better.

Meetings with Elder Bednar
David A Bednar is an Apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, of which I am a member. Apostles routinely travel the world visiting the members of the church in different areas. Because I live in a place that is so close to Utah, where the church is based, it's rare for an Apostle to come to visit. In fact I think it has been something like 22 years since the last Apostle came to visit this area. It was announced a few weeks ago that Elder Bednar would be coming to this area to have meetings with the members of the church in Northern Colorado. Part of those meetings was a special meeting with the young single adult members of the church.

The experience was unlike any other church meeting that I have ever been to. To start off, we arrived at the church building a few hours early in order to have good seats. My friends and I knew there were going to be a lot of people there, so we made sure to arrive early in order to get seats right up front. When Elder Bednar came in, we all stood to show respect for a servant of the Lord. He began the meeting and explained to us that our meeting would be a bit different than other meetings. He said our meeting was going to be a question/answer meeting. Can you believe it? We got to ask our questions to an Apostle of Jesus Christ. What an experience.

He made sure that we understood what kind of questions we should ask. He said that although all questions are good, some questions are better than others. He then gave two example of questions. He said that although questions like "Where is the Sword of Laban?" are interesting, they really have nothing to do with our eternal salvation. He said a better question would be something like, "What have you learned about prayer since you have been praying with prophets for the past 4 years?". Then he let us ask our questions. Some really good questions were asked, and a lot of questions hadn't even crossed my mind until they were asked. Elder Bednar took his time and made sure to answer the questions fully and to the best of his ability. I learned so much and I am grateful for the experience that I had to be there.

When I watch TV, my entertainment usually comes from one of two channels. I watch a lot of ESPN and a lot of the Food Network. There are some pretty entertaining shows on the Food Network like Good Eats, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Iron Chef America, and Ace of Cakes. Not only are these shows entertaining, but they get me excited to try making the food myself.

A couple of friends and I decided that we would get together on Tuesday nights and have home cooked meals as a nice break from the single persons diet of ramen noodles, mac-n-cheese, pizza, and other various fast food meals. I have to say it's been a good experience. We usually meet at the store ahead of time to purchase the food items for our next meal and then we head to my house to prepare everything. I have been very pleased with the way our meals have turned out. We started off with simple things like chicken enchiladas, waffles, and pot roast and worked our way up to chicken cordon bleu and chicken fried steak. I know these meals aren't super hard to make, but they have been tasty. Next week, I'm hoping to do stuffed pork chops.

I really don't know why I enjoy cooking so much, other than it feels like I'm creating something and I hope other people will enjoy the food. I never thought that I would enjoy cooking so much considering that when I was younger and I had the responsibility to be in charge of dinner, I would usually just order pizza. Cooking for myself tastes so much better.

Trip to Utah
A few months ago, my friend Elisa made the decision to move to Utah. After putting it off for a while, she made the effort to start the process to move. She applied for and got a job working for the University of Utah and found a place to live. She set her date to make the move and started preparing the arrangements to move out there. While she was making her preparations, the person that was her first choice to drive the moving truck out to Salt Lake fell through. So I got the honor to drive the truck. Probably because of my box truck driving experience from my days as a Sears delivery guy and a Fed Ex driver.

Turns out that driving a moving truck across a couple of states isn't nearly as much fun as being a delivery driver. As a delivery driver you stop every couple of minutes to make your deliveries. Driving in the moving truck, we were stuck in the cab of the truck for a good seven to eight hours. Not fun at all. To make matters worse, those delivery trucks don't even go the speed limit on the freeway. I blame the car that we were towing behind us. It felt like we were going so slow and like all of the other cars on the freeway were passing us. I'm glad that Elisa was in the truck with me though. Good company can make a long trip a lot more bearable.

When we got to her new apartment I was not impressed. It looked pretty run down on the outside. The building was built in like the 1920's and it was all gray brick. The steps were crooked and there wasn't much of a yard. But we went inside and it was a nice place. The interior of the building had been remodeled with new drywall, flooring, and cabinets. I'm glad that she ended up in a nice place.

After unloading Elisa's things my brother came to pick me up so I could stay with he and his wife in Orem. It was nice to see them. We spent the first night playing video games and just hanging out. It was a pretty good time.

On Sunday I met up with my friend Michelle in Salt Lake and I went to the singles ward with her. I'm realized that I don't really like going to church in Utah. There are too many people and I feel like I'm lost in the shuffle every time I go. I definitely prefer attending church here in Fort Collins.

After church I went back to my brother's house for dinner. My sister and her family came as well. We enjoyed a meal of beans, potatoes, red chili, and home made tortillas. It's a meal that we often had growing up and I rarely, if ever, eat anymore. The food was so good and we had an enjoyable time spending time with each other. I miss having family around to hang out with. Hopefully someday, we'll all live closer to each other.

Eating Sugar Again
On the way out to Utah, we stopped at a Little America travel station in Wyoming. For those of you that don't know, Little America has 50 cent ice cream cones. It's a tradition of Elisa's family to stop there on road trips to use the restroom and get ice cream before hitting the road again. So we stopped and Elisa talked me into getting some ice cream. I hadn't eaten any refined sugar in 8 months as part of my diet and weight loss plan, so I was a little anxious about eating sugar again. I was worried that it might make me sick or even worse that I might not like sugar anymore. Turns out I still like sugar. I put the ice cream cone in my mouth and it was super sweet. Almost too sweet. Yet it was so good. Now I know Little America ice cream isn't gourmet ice cream. I mean come on, they sell it for 50 cents a cone. But it is worth the 50 cents.

Since then I have fallen off the wagon a little bit. I had some candy while I was staying with my brother and I may have had a few cookies here and there. But I'm determined to keep my sugar intake limited. I've lost nearly 40 pounds and I'm in no hurry to put it back on. I'm not saying that eating sweets will make me fat, but I want to make sure that I monitor the things I eat and the amount I indulge in.

Getting In Contact With Old Ricks College Friends
A couple of months ago I received a random email from Facebook. The subject said "Is this Mo?" and the message said "From Ricks College?" It was from a girl name Melodee I went to school with my freshman year of college. Talk about out of the blue. I haven't talked to or spoken to her in over 10 years. My friend Jacob and I had gotten pretty close to Melodee and her roommates while we were at Ricks. We even made road trips to see our friends in Utah the summer after my freshman year. But as happens so often, Jacob and I left on missions and the girls moved on with their lives and we lost contact with each other.

Thanks to the Internet invention of Facebook though, she was able to find my profile and send me a message. It was cool to write back and fill each other in on what's been going on in our lives. At first I was a little shy to share what I've been up to, since I don't feel like I've accomplished much since my mission. So I didn't write back immediately. Melodee stayed persistent and sent me another email about what she has been up too and I made sure to write back. She also put me back in contact again with some of her roommates and filled me in on what they are doing. It's been pretty cool to hear from these people that I haven't talked to in such a long time. In fact they have a special place in my heart because they helped me to see the importance of gaining a testimony about the gospel and serving a mission. I am so glad we have gotten back in touch with each other and I hope we can continue our friendships.

Other Random Things That Have Happened Or That I've Thought About
I love sports. I love playing watching them, whether it's on TV or in person, it doesn't matter. I even watch Sportscenter to see the highlights of the games I just watched. I dedicate a decent amount of time to reading about sports on the Internet too. But I just can't seem to like basketball. I would go so far as to say that I hate basketball. I recognize the athletic ability that is required to play, but it is a sport that I have no interest in. Recently though, I have thought about starting to play basketball. A group of guys from my ward get together Monday nights after FHE to play a few games. I have been giving some serious consideration to going and playing with them. Not because I want to feel included or because I have a new found love for basketball, but because I need something to do for exercise. I haven't gone running since I ran the Run for the Wolves race and I'm starting to feel a bit lazy. I know that I could get a good sweat going if I were to start playing on Monday nights. I guess my dilemma in making my decision is do I hate basketball more than I want to exercise? I guess I'll just have to play a game to find out.

On a completely different subject, I miss my friend Elisa. She is one of my closest and best friends. Now that she has moved to Utah I feel a little bit lonely. I have a lot of friends and I enjoy hanging out with them, but I still miss her. We had stake conference at church last week and I felt a little lost because I would always talk to her after the meeting. I don't like it.

Here is something random. I'm not ready for Christmas. Christmas is my favorite time of year, but I'm a things-need-to-be-done-in-order kind of guy. I hate that there are Christmas decorations and music playing before Thanksgiving. I even saw some Christmas stuff up before Halloween. Pretty soon there will be Christmas stuff on sale right after the Fourth of July. It's not that I don't like the Christmas, I love it. It's just that I would like to enjoy Thanksgiving first before I focus on Christmas. That's just my feeling on the subject.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Top 5: My Personal Buzz List Edition

Normally, the Top 5 is a list of pop culture things that I want to rank. For this installment, I decided to list the things that have piqued my interest over the past week or so. That's not to say that there aren't any pop culture items on the list, but they're not all pop culture related. So here are the Top 5 things that are on my buzz radar.

5. Spiderman: Web of Shadows
I'm not much of a video game player. I used to be, but I just kind of lost interest in them. Maybe that means I'm growing up. When I saw the trailer for this game though, I was ready to be a kid again. I love Super-Heroes and comic books and the trailer for this game got my inner fanboy going. It has both Venom and Wolverine! How much cooler can you get! Check out the video and you can judge for yourself.

4. Denver Broncos Football
Okay, I know they aren't playing very well right now. I know, they've lost 3 out of the last 4 games. I know, that they have a slew of players that are out because of injury. I know, their defense can't stop the run or pass. I know, they've turned the ball over 12 times in their three losses. But I'm no fair weather fan. I love this team. I think that they can pull out of this rut they're in. With the bye week coming up, it time to heal up and recommit to being a good team. When healthy, the Broncos offense is hard to stop and is able to score almost willingly. They lead the AFC West by a game over the Chargers. There is still time to turn their recent poor performances around. I look forward to being there to watch them.

3. Nick-N-Willy's Pizza
Last week my roommate came home with a pizza from Nick-N-Willy's. He was kind enough to let me have a slice. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't the absolute best pizza I've ever had, but it was good. Good enough for me to plan to order it for Monday Night Football. The nice thing is that the restaurant is close to my house so I can just stop by on my way home from work. That makes it even better.

2. Fort Collins Run For The Wolves
Yes, I'm running in yet another 5k. Mostly because I was not satisfied with my time for the CSU Homecoming race. I know I can run 5 kilometers in less than 30 minutes. Signing up for the race gives me an chance to prove it to myself. I've also heard that it's a really fun race. There is a costume contest for people and dogs, and trick or treat stations for the kids. Those types of activities definitely make running a race more fun. I wonder how many people will be there. I don't think there will be 1600, like there were at the CSU Homecoming race, but I'm sure there will be a good turn out. My friend Rachel said she was going to run it too, so I think I'll just try to keep pace with her. Hopefully the weather will be nice. I'm not a fan of running in the rain. The forecast for Saturday is supposed to be sunny with a high of 65 degrees. I hope the weather man know what he's talking about.

1. Elder David Bednar
Elder David Bednar, and apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is coming to the Fort Collins area this weekend. He is coming to speak to the young single adults as well as a conference for the Fort Collins stake. As young single adults, we have the opportunity to listen to an apostle and hear his counsel for us. I'm really excited to be able to attend. I had the opportunity to meet Elder Bednar while he was president of BYU-Idaho. My family home evening group was invited to have family home evening with both he and his wife. It was one of the coolest meetings I've been too. I'm sure the meeting coming up this weekend will be even better.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I Never Liked The Game Of Tag

Apparently I've been tagged. I was told that means I get to post the 8th picture in my 10th folder. The problem is, I don't have that many pictures on my computer. I sure don't have 10 folders, and if I did, I don't think that they would have at least 8 pictures in them. So I opened the last folder of pictures on my computer and chose the 8th picture. I know it's kind of cheating, but it's all I can do.

This is my brother and sister in-laws wedding reception back home. It's a group picture of my immediate family along with all our aunts, uncles, and cousins on my dad's side.

If you're reading this, I tag you. Post the 8th picture that is found in your 10th folder (or your last folder if you don't have 10 folders).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Super Busy Saturdays

This past Saturday was crazy busy for me. Normally I like to have a nice quiet Saturdays involving sleeping in and relaxing the rest of the day. This last Saturday was nothing like that. To start off, it was the day of the CSU Homecoming 5k race. The race started at 8 am and I told my friend Tabi that we should meet up at 7:30 am so she could get registered. I wonder why they start races so early in the morning? Getting back to my day, I woke up at 6:30 so I could eat a healthy breakfast before the run. Unfortunately it was a cold rainy morning and that wasn't much fun to run in. When we got to the race location, there were roughly 1700 people there. That's a lot more than the 600 at the last race I ran. I couldn't believe how many people were there. I did see quite a few people from the institute, so that was cool. There were so many people, that there wasn't a single time during the race that I was by myself. I was always passing someone or someone was passing me. A little over crowded if you ask me. I finished the race with a better time than the other 5k I ran, but I still didn't break 30 minutes. That disappointed me a little bit. So I've decide that I'm gong to run another 5k in a couple of weeks. It should have fewer people, so I think my time will improve.

After the race, I was supposed to meet up with some people to play a game of football. Unfortunately only two other people showed up because of the crappy weather. So we couldn't get a game going, but that was okay since I was still pretty tired from the race. It was cold enough to make my hands sting when I tried to catch the ball though. Maybe I should invest in receivers gloves. We ended up calling it quits after about half an hour. Hopefully more people will show up next time we play.

Then I went home to get cleaned up so I could go to the CSU Homecoming football game. I thought I bundled myself up pretty good and made sure that I was wearing lots of layers. Turns out that really wasn't enough. It was still raining and windy. By the end of the 1st quarter I was freezing. To make matters worse there were lots of rowdy fans and CSU ended up loosing the game 13 - 7. Lame.

I then hurried home to get ready for the institute choir concert. Elisa volunteered me to be the curtain puller and possible narrator. So I got all dressed up and went to the stake center to do my part. But because of some miscommunication I ended up sitting there not doing anything. The concert was good though and I think the choir did a really good job. Hopefully they'll have even more people join and they'll just keep getting better.

After the choir some of my friends and I played some games and went to the movies to celebrate my friend Brian's birthday. We went and saw "The Express: The Ernie Davis Story". It was a good movie. I really enjoyed it and I even geeked out a little bit when they included Floyd Little in the story. I liked the movie, but it was not one that I came out of all hyped up from. If you know about Ernie Davis, then you know why.

That in effect, was my busy Saturday. Running a race, playing football, going to a football game, watching a choir concert, and then seeing a football movie. Sounds like football related events dominated the day. Hopefully future Saturdays won't be so busy, but I'm sure that won't be the case.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hair Of The Dog - Literally!

This is the funniest and possibly one of the more disgusting things that I've heard of people doing. While checking out random blogs today I came across a post that had me laughing. The post stated this:

"In photographer Erwan Fichou's series Dogwool, pet owners are photographed wearing sweaters made from the fur/hair of their animal companions, with the actual dog posing along side them for verification."

Does that gross anyone else out? Because it sure made me a bit squeamish. I remember my dogs growing up and their fur is not something that I would want adorning my body. Maybe these people have better dog grooming habits than we had for our dogs. I don't think that I'll ever love anything enough to make me want to wear it's hair. Here are a couple of pictures from the photographer.

You can see the rest of the photographs here. The site is in French, but click on the link to the left that says Dogwool.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Best Date Ever!

Occasionally I'll be flipping through the channels on TV and I'll come up on some pretty interesting shows. Recently I came up on VH1's Best Week Ever. It's a show that recaps all of the pop culture happenings of the week along with commentary from various comedians and celebrities. Not that any of that matters. The reason why I bring up the TV show Best Week Ever, is because the title made me think about some of my best fill-in-the-blank ever experiences. That got me thinking about the best date that I had ever been on and gave me a another subject to post about.

The best date that I've ever been on was when I was attending Ricks College (it wasn't BYU-Idaho yet) and my friends and I decided that we would do a big group date for an upcoming dance. I know, there aren't normally dances at college, but it's a Mormon school and we can be a little weird. My friends and I decided that we would find dates and have an evening of excitement and fun. Before I get started, it's important to note that I had a friend who was a Rexburg local and his parents owned several business locations and were also the owners of the local Sears dealership.

We started off by getting permission from his parents to use one of the empty commercial buildings they owned for our date. It was an old tile store and there were no furnishings at all, except for the counter. Prior to picking our dates up, my friends and I did all of the set up work. We bought about 150 candles and set them up around the room. We also set up our dining area with blankets, pillows, Asian style dinnerware, and chopsticks. Now that I think back on it, it kind of had a middle eastern harem look to it.

After all of the set up work, we were off to pick up our dates and attend to our pre-dinner activity. After picking up our dates, we headed to the mall in Idaho Falls for some fun dress up time. We broke into groups of 2 couples and went into the different stores trying on different clothes and taking pictures of ourselves with disposable cameras. It was a good time and we got some pretty fun pictures. When we finished at the mall we headed back to our dinner location to surprise them with our dinner set up.

As the girls came in to the store, all of the lights were off and the candles were burning. We presented each girl with a rose and we sat down as we waited for the food to arrive. Because of the way we set up the dinnerware and the chop stick, the girls were expecting to get Chinese food. They were a bit surprised when the pizza guy showed up instead. They had a good laugh though, and enjoyed the pizza too.

After the dance we decided to watch a movie. We picked a movie to watch and realized that no one had an apartment big enough for everyone to fit. My friend talked to his parents and they said we could watch the movie at the Sears store. We got a bunch of bean bags and soft chairs and headed over Sears to watch the movie. It was quite the experience to watch a movie on 2 dozen screens. I think we all ended up falling asleep though.

I've had lots of good dates with lots of different girls but this is the one that I remember as being the most fun. What was the most fun you had on date? What did you do?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Top 5: Childhood Cartoon Edition

Growing up I spent a lot of time watching cartoons. I'm sure my parents appreciated the three of us kids waking up at 6:00 am on Saturday mornings, watching TV for 5 hours, and eating all the cereal we could. Looking at my life now, my Saturday mornings were much more fun when I was a kid. Thinking about those cartoons I decided to list my Top 5 childhood cartoons. Keep in mind that I was a typical little boy and I liked the typical little boy cartoons. So cartoons like Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, and Jem won't make my list. That being said, on to the list.

5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
When you're a little boy like I was, all that you have to do is mention the word ninja in the title and I thought it was cool. Having four ninjas with names like Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo only made it cooler. And how could you not end up with the theme song stuck in your head, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Heroes in a half-shell, Turtle Power!"

4. Dungeons & Dragons
This is a cartoon that not only I enjoyed, but one my mom enjoyed too. The premise was about a group of kids that gets on an amusement part ride and find themselves magically transported to the fantasy world of Dungeons & Dragons. Wanting only to get home, the group takes detours to help out others in need. The animation was good and some of the monsters that the group faced were just plain cool.

3. Thundercats
This cartoon had it all. A main character trying to become the hero and protector he is meant to be. His team of allies who teach him the importance of becoming a good leader and have cool powers and abilities of there own. Finally it had a villain that would fail in his evil plans, but would not stop trying. When I was 8 years old there weren't any other cartoons nearly as cool. Unfortunately I saw it later as an adult and it wasn't nearly as entertaining as when I was a kid.

2. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
What typical little boy doesn't like a cartoon about military heroes, secret organizations, and lasers? This show had all of those things plus ninjas. How can you top that? Plus, each episode had it's own public service announcement that would always end with the phrase, "Now I know. And knowing is half the battle." I loved this show. I would wake up early on weekdays in the summertime just to watch this show. And I had a lot of G.I. Joe action figures to hold me over when the show wasn't on. So good.

1. Tom & Jerry
Okay, I admit this show would not have even made my list when I was a kid. There were so many other shows out there. But I always enjoyed this cartoon when it came on. They were only about 7 or 8 minutes long and they were fun. Now that I'm older, I enjoy watching these short cartoons more than ever. I haven't seen one on TV for a long time, but you can watch a bunch of different episodes on YouTube. The episodes produced by Fred Quimby are some of my absolute favorites.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Top 5: Worst Country Cover Songs Edition

While surfing a while back I came across this story. After I read it, I had to find some of the songs on YouTube. That got me thinking about all of the lame country artists that decided to cover various songs. I remember listening to the country versions of songs like "I Swear" and "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" and thinking to myself how bad they sounded. After doing a little research on my own I came up with a list of horrible country cover songs. Now I'm not saying there is anything wrong with country songs or cover songs. In fact I generally enjoy both, but the two should never cross. When they do, we get the unholy abominations below. I've added the original song to compare.

5. Faith Hill - Piece Of My Heart

I realize that the Janis Joplin version of this song was a cover as well, but what was Faith Hill thinking when she covered this song? Probably nothing, because she never actually heard the Janis Joplin version of this song while she was doing her own recording. Her only exposure to the song was the country arrangement made for her on a demo. Sadly, this version of the song has no power or feeling, it's sounds just like any other sappy country song.

4. Jack Ingram - Lips Of An Angel

Why do country musicians decide to release cover versions of still popular right now songs? Are they so desperate for new material that they have to cover the song before anyone has even forgotten about the first version that came out? The video for this cover is absolutely ridiculous. It has Jack Ingram singing the words of the song to his bride. Does he think it's romantic? Did he not pay attention to the words? He's singing to his bride about cheating!

3. Dolly Parton - Shine

I can believe that Dolly won the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for this. I'm not saying Dolly isn't talented, because she is. This type song is just not where her talent lies. It makes me wonder how she won a Grammy for this song when not even Collective Soul, the original artists of this song, could win one.

2. Glen Campbell - Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

Punk music is notorious for covering songs from other genres. It seems to be a very punk thing to do. Who would have ever thought that someone would do a cover of a punk song? Apparently the people who convinced Glen Campbell to do this thought it was a good idea. This just goes to show, that just because an idea is new and fresh doesn't make it a good idea.

1. Dolly Parton - Stairway To Heaven

When I first saw that she covered this song, I thought it was a joke. Come on, Dolly really wouldn't try to country up the ultimate rock anthem of the 1970's. Turns out she did and it wasn't good. Dolly Parton and Led Zepplin don't mix. It's not the worst version of a song that is covered by just about everyone, but it is pretty bad. Hopefully Dolly has learned to stay away from covering rock songs.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Memories Of My Dad

Today is the anniversary of my dad passing away. I can't believe he has been gone for 7 years. It's hard to believe how long it's been, how much I've changed, and how much he still influences my life.

My dad makes up a lot of who I am. It's interesting and a little funny that I find myself doing some of the same things I remember him doing. I remember my dad's laugh, and when I listen to myself laugh, I hear him. I look at my hands and feet, at the way they are shaped and I realize that they look like his. When I talk, I sometimes hear his voice instead of mine.

I enjoy the same things that he enjoyed. Things like watching Denver Broncos football, or playing pool, or watching episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. My first memory of football was Super Bowl XX in January of 1986. I watched the game with him at my grandma's house and we made a bet on the game. I remember we bet $2 on the game and I got to choose what team I wanted to win. I chose the Chicago Bears to beat the New England Patriots. Probably because at that age I knew exactly what a bear was and had no idea what a patriot was. The point is I remember watching the game with him and the time we spent together. It is that point that I can trace my love of football.

I'm grateful for my dad and for the way that he and my mom raised me. Growing up my mom was the rule maker and my dad was the disciplinarian. I think it's interesting how he would punish us when we did something wrong, yet we were never spanked. Punishment usually consisted of losing certain privileges, receiving extra chores, and in one case reading a series of magazine articles, writing about what I learned, and then implementing them in my life. As often as I would get into trouble he was there to put me on the straight and narrow through love and discipline.

One of the things that I really remember about my dad was his willingness to serve others. He would send me to my grandma's house to mow her lawn or shovel her sidewalk and he would specifically tell me not to take any money that my grandma would offer. He did things like organize a community Easter egg hunt. He would often gather the donations himself, organize the egg coloring (usually done by my aunts, uncles, and cousins), and hide the eggs. After he died, my cousins told us about one time they were stranded in a different town because of car trouble or something. They were out when they weren't supposed to be, so they didn't want to call their mom. Instead they called my dad and asked for his help. He went to help, brought them back home, made sure that they were safe, and never ever said a word about it to anyone.

Looking back I realize what a wonderful man my dad was. Of course he wasn't perfect. He had his weaknesses, struggles, and trials. Yet he was a good example to me and my siblings. I'm grateful that I was raised by him and hope to be the kind of man that he would want me to be.

Friday, September 26, 2008

When We Were Young

I've had the opportunity to instant message my brother quite a bit the last couple of days. In talking with him, we were both reminiscing a little about growing up and some of the things we enjoyed. We weren't a family that was well off financially and we lived in a small home, but we were happy. In fact, I don't really have any bad memories of my childhood and I'm grateful to my parents for that blessing.

Growing up, we lived across the street from a park. In essence, it was our front yard, complete with playground equipment, basketball court, soccer field, and baseball diamond. I remember meeting up with the neighborhood kids so we could play pick up games of football. Or making huge cities in the sand for our Hot Wheels cars. Or playing an imaginary hero's quest games with my friend Ponchy. He would be the narrator and bad guys for us to fight against. Or playing in the sprinklers on hot summer days. Or seeing who could climb highest up the big pine tree. There was always something to do at the park.

My brother used to be a master of making his own toys. He would find sticks and string and make a bow and arrows. He would also save the cardboard tubes from wrapping paper and old shoe boxes to make his own Ghostbuster equipment. He helped me to have ideas to make toys too. We would find a long stick and a short stick and nail them together to make swords. One time we even wrapped the handles with some electrical tape that we found in the garage. My dad wasn't very happy when he found out we used all of his electrical tape. I had to replace the wasted tape with a new roll. My dad even taught us how to make rubber band guns with wooden ground stakes and clothes pins.

Getting haircuts was always an interesting time growing up. I remember my parents discussing giving my sister a hair cut. She had long thick hair that was in a braid. I remember my dad sitting her down, taking the scissors, and cutting off the braid. My mom must have been horrified. The cool thing was she had the braid kept in tact to save. My dad also used to give my brother and me buzz cuts every summer. Oh, how I hated and loathed getting a buzz cut. I think my brother really enjoyed them, but I hated them with a passion. In 4th grade I received a buzz cut earlier in the year than usual. I would normally get my haircut after school was out for the summer, but that year my dad gave me the haircut over spring break. I was so embarrassed to go back to school. I wore the hood of my jacket as long as I could that day until the teacher made me take it off. I'm sure the other kids didn't care much, but back then I thought they were all laughing at me. After I got back from my mission I gave my dad a buzz cut because he didn't want to pay for a haircut. Sweet revenge. It was fun and I probably enjoyed it a little too much.

Aside from the fun and games we had growing up, we had chores to do as well. Bringing fire wood from the wood pile into the garage was a weekly task, so we could keep the house warm in winter time. Mowing the lawn and cleaning the garage were also regular chores I remember having to do. We also had to take turns with indoor chores like doing the dishes (which my brother hated), cleaning the bathroom (which I hated), and cooking dinner (which my sister hated). I remember coming home from school and being given the chore of having the house cleaned up somewhat before my parents came home. We would literally wait until the last minute. One of us would spot my mom's car coming down the street and all three of us kids would spring into action, trying to get all of the house cleaning done in the minute and a half before my mom walked through the door. We were usually less than successful.

Thinking about these things has really made me grateful for the happy childhood that I was able to enjoy. I hope my siblings have equally as happy memories.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Scars Remind Me That The Past Is Real

Sitting at work today, the song "Swing Life Away" by Rise Against came up on my play list. As I was listening to the words and possibly singing along I was struck by the following lyrics.
I'll show you mine
If you show me yours first
Let's compare scars
I'll tell you whose is worse

That got me thinking about some of the scars that I've managed to give myself over the years. Most, if not all, are mainly due to stupidity on my part. I remember three scars in particular that I inflicted on myself. One on my left index finger, one on my chin, and one on my chest.

When I was five or six, my family and my grandparents went to visit my aunt who was living near Denver. She had a two story house with a basement that provided 3 floors for me to play on. I had a fun time, until the last day that we were there. At that age, I had a habit of putting my hands on counters, or tables, or anything too high for me and push myself up so I could get a better view of whatever it was I was looking at. My aunt had one table that had a glass covering with the glass broken up into 3 or 4 big pieces. Now I, of course, saw something on that table that caught my interest, so I went over and pushed myself up so I could see. There must have been something under one of the pieces of glass, because as I pushed myself up, a glass piece stuck up in the air. As I lowered myself down the piece of glass that was sticking up went right into my chest. I don't remember a whole lot about the experience except crying a lot. I don't remember it hurting or anything thing else about the experience, but I'm sure it freaked my mom out.

When I was fifteen, I had a job working as a custodian for the high school during the summer. I was helping with general clean up and getting things ready for the upcoming school year. I wasn't old enough to drive, and had to ride my bike to work everyday. After work I would come out, get on my bike, and ride home. No big deal. Until one day I got off of work and got on my bike to go home. The bike rack was up on a sidewalk area next to the school and I decided to jump my bike off the curb into the parking lot and ride home. That was my mistake. Instead of riding away as I expected, my bike fell apart. Literally. As I landed my bike broke in half at the welds and I ate asphalt. My chin was the first thing to hit the ground. I split it open pretty good and was bleeding all over the place. I somehow managed to get up and make my way back into the school so someone could call my mom. She came and we got to go to the emergency room. I got stitches and a huge bandage on my chin. I was a typical image conscious fifteen year old and having that huge bandage on my face was so embarrassing.

Just before my mission, I was working at an embroidery factory. I ran one of the huge sewing machines that embroidered 12 shirts at a time. Each shirt location had about 10 needles, each needle with a different thread color. When the machine finished with one color, the computer would switch the needles to a different color to continue with the design. It was my job to make sure that the machine ran smoothly, the patterns were straight, and make sure there wasn't any loose thread or broken needles. The proper procedure when there was a loose thread or a broken needle was to hit the all stop button on the machine, fix the problem, and then start the machine again. I guess I was in a hurry or something because I saw a loose thread and decided to pick out when the machine was changing needle color. I thought I could be faster than the machine. Turns out I wasn't. The new needle came down and went into the tip of my left index finger. I was so surprised by it that I jerked my hand away and tore open the tip of my finger. Of course I was bleeding everywhere, so I went to the restroom to clean my hand off. My boss saw what happened and asked me to wait about 15 minutes until the shift ended so he could take me to the hospital. As it turned out he didn't have a car. I had to put his bike in the back of my truck and drive us to the hospital. I ended up quitting that job a month later and went back to working at McDonald's. I don't think that I've touched a sewing machine since.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Awesomely Bad Movies

Last night, Andrea and I watched the movie Call Of The Wild: Foxfire. Andrea rented it because she wanted to watch a nice family movie. I just happened to be invited along to watch. So we settled in and began watching the movie.

Now I'm not a movie snob. In fact I'm sure there are quite a few lame movies I like, but I still enjoy them. This was not one of those movies. Have you ever watched a movie that was so bad that you still found yourself amused because of how cheesy, campy, unrealistic, or badly acted it was? Normally when I'm watching a movie that I don't enjoy I try to go to sleep. Every so often though, there is a movie that is so bad that I can't go to sleep because I want to see what ridiculousness will come next. Such was the case with this movie.

I read Jack London's Call Of The Wild when I was a kid, but I don't remember a lot about it. I do remember some of the main points. Buck was a dog that was taken away from his comfortable life, became a sled dog in Alaska, and eventually heeds the call to return to the wild. The only thing that this movie had in common with the book was that the dogs name was Buck and it took place in Alaska. About 45 minutes into the movie, I turned to Andrea and asked what the point was supposed to be. There was no plot development. We could not figure out what, if anything, the characters were trying to accomplish.

Talk about bad acting. I remember wondering to myself what kind of people speak that way. The dialogue rivaled that of a George Lucas script. I actually started laughing at one point because a character was supposed to be excited about his wife staying with him and all that came out was the monotone unfeeling line, "I'm so glad that you are staying". I guess there is a reason that I've never heard of any of the actors before or since.

The direction of the movie was equally awful. There were secondary character story lines that had nothing at all to do with overall plot of the movie. These characters interacted maybe once with the main characters through out the whole movie. Yet we were still forced to see what these characters were doing even though it didn't further the plot. I think the director may have just wanted to make sure that there was more footage so it could be more than a 70 minute movie. I also enjoyed the exact same scene shot from different angles and then shown at different times through the movie. It reminded me of the stock footage that would be shown in the early days of film. It seemed the producers wanted to save money and were hoping the audience wouldn't notice. I guess that's what I should expect from a straight to DVD release.

What are some of the awesomely bad movies that you have seen? Tell me so I can steer clear of them as well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Communication Is Key

Why is communication so important? Why is being able to convey your thoughts and feelings to others so important and vital to the relationships with those around you? Psychologist and author Rollo May said, "Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing."

So communication is important because it leads to understanding, intimacy, and mutual value. In the past week or so, it has come to my attention that I'm not very good at communication. How in the world did that happen? When I'm attending school, my major is speech communication. I think I have a lot to learn. I've found that my unwillingness to communicate or my inability to communicate effectively has damaged some of my relationships. I have lost out on the understanding, intimacy, and mutual value that could have been shared with others.

I realize this makes it hard to get to know me as a person. I find having a conversation of substance is sometimes a difficult task. It is so much easier to stick to the "small talk" or to subjects of no real value. Talking and sharing my feelings has never been easy for me. I don't enjoy it. Still, I realize the importance of effective communication with others and how much it can strengthen relationships. My relationships with those around me are things that I cherish and I am making a conscious effort to improve my communication skills.

It's also important to realize that effective and meaningful communication does not only including talking, but listening also. Author Rachel Naomi Remen said:

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just
listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our
attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect
than the most well-intentioned words.
I always thought that I was a good listener. I have to come to realize that wasn't necessarily true. I have a tendency to try to solve or figure out solutions to scenarios and situations that are presented to me. I realize this is not always helpful. Sometimes the other person just needs to vent.

I really want to improve my communication skills. It will not be easy and it will not happen over night. I'm fairly sure that I'll even get frustrated at times, but the rewards of effective communication can only enrich and deepen my existing relationships. My thoughts on this subject may not be 100% coherent. In fact some of the ideas that I feel I have discovered may seem basic and remedial, but these are things that I have begun to learn. I hope that I can work to improve myself and become more effective at communicating with those around me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Own Before & After Photos

Last night there was a surprise birthday party for my roommate and my friend Danny at my house. It wasn't Paul's birthday, but it was Danny's. The point is that the people that planned the party brought pictures of Paul to hang up with the decorations. That's when I saw this picture. Holy crap!! How did I let myself get that big? Why in the world would I let pictures of myself be taken when I looked like that? Then I started checking out Facebook and found thisI don't remember that sweater looking that tight and form fitting when I was wearing it. I know that it sounds vain when I talk about the way I look. But mostly I look at these two pictures of myself and realize how unhealthy I had become. Not good. Not good at all.

I've been on my no sugar diet for about 5 months now. No processed or refined sugar and making sure not to stuff myself full when eating. Exercise has also helped a lot too. Not only do I feel better about my self image, I just feel better. I can run and play sports and not feel like I'm going to die after 2 minutes. I can go hiking. I don't know why I ever stopped being active or started being so lazy, but I am happy that I am on my way to a more active and healthy lifestyle.

Here are a couple of pictures that were taken of me yesterday. So these are my most recent pictures.

So I think that I'm looking better. I'm not down to my target weight yet, but it feels good to have lost about 30 pounds. I never realized how much 30 pounds really is. There are some toddlers that weight about 30 pounds. I've lost the equivalent of small child without having to give birth. I'll keep you posted when I finally get down to my target weight.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Life Is The Only Game In Which The Object Of The Game Is To Learn The Rules

Why do we have rules? Why are they so important to our society? Rules are known by many different names such as laws, commandments, guidelines, regulations, edicts. But they all amount to roughly the same thing. A set of principles set up by a person or people to maintain order. I was talking to Andrea today and we were discussing the importance of rules. Too often we think of rules as restrictive and keeping us from doing the things that we want to do. That is not true though. If we didn't have rules, we would be without direction. When we follow the rules it leads us to have more freedoms. Cecil B. Demille, the director of the movie The Ten Commandments" said:

We are too inclined to think of law as something merely restrictive - something hemming us in. We sometimes think of law as the opposite of liberty. But this is a false conception...God does not contradict Himself. He did not create man and then, as an afterthough impose upon him a set of arbitrary, irritating, restrictive rules. He made man free...then gave him commandments to keep him free. We cannot break the Ten Commandments. We can only break ourselves against them - or else, by keeping them, rise through them to the fullness of freedom under God. God means us to be free. With divine daring, He gave us the power of choice.
Rules help us to make sense of the world. Whether they be national laws, rules of a game, or personal guidelines that we follow it is important that we stick to them. It is through following these rules that we find our greatest freedoms.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm Not Even Close To Ready For Summer To End

I can't believe that it's almost September. School is starting and the summer is pretty much over. I don't like it. There are so many things that I wanted to do this summer that I didn't get to do. Don't get me wrong, it's been a great summer and I've really enjoyed it. It's just that this weekend is Labor Day weekend and I always feel like it's the last breath of summer. I know the weather will still be warm, but those lazy summer evenings are gone until next year.

Most of my friends here in Fort Collins will be in school and they won't have time just to hang out. On a side note, I hate that school is back in solely for the reasons of more traffic and fewer parking spaces. I guess that since I'm not in school, I kind of feel left out because everyone will be concentrating on school work. It would really be nice to be back in school. Someday I'll be an enrolled student again.

I was driving down the road the other day and I noticed that some of the leaves on the trees are already changing colors. Not a lot of leaves. Only one or two leaves on one tree along the whole tree lined street. But I noticed. It's only August and the leaves aren't supposed to change yet. I've also noticed that it's getting cooler and that it gets darker earlier every day. I don't like it. I wish it could be summer year round.

Don't get me wrong, fall is a good season too. I love to see the leaves change color in the mountains. It's beautiful. I love playing football on cool Saturday mornings and watching Denver Broncos football on Sunday afternoons. Though those are wonderful fall activities, they don't fill that summer activeness void. Someone should figure out a way to combine Denver Broncos Football with summer time. You can't go wrong combining two great things like that.

There are definitely certain things that have the feel of summer though. Things like songs, barbecues, baseball, ultimate Frisbee, family reunions, swimming, road trips, hiking, and countless other things. I love summer because of all the activities and good summer memories I have. I guess I'll have to let those memories hold me over until next summer.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Leaving On A Jet Plane...And Ending Up On A Road Trip Instead

This weekend Andrea and I went to Las Vegas to so she could go through the temple. Her dad is a pilot and has some connections for cheap flights. Usually that means standby tickets. We went to the Fort Collins/Loveland Airport to catch our flight to Las Vegas. After getting our tickets and waiting in the terminal for a couple of hours it was time to board the plane. Because we had standby tickets we would be the last ones to get on the plane after the regular paying passengers boarded. As we were standing there waiting for our turn to get on the plane, we were told that the plane has reached it weight capacity. Something to do with the altitude, the heat, and the short runway only allowed for certain weight limit for a non-stop flight to Las Vegas. All of the regular passengers boarded the plane, and they had reached the weight limit. So those of us with standby tickets weren't allowed on the plane.

After going back to the ticket counter and trying to figure out the best way to get to Las Vegas, we came up with absolutely nothing. There was another flight leaving from Colorado Springs, but that still left us with no way to get to the Colorado Springs Airport. Even if we had made it, we still were not guaranteed a seat. We looked into renting a car to drive down to Colorado Springs but it was just too expensive for the short time that we needed it.

Another couple who also wasn't able to get on the plane because they had standby tickets too asked us if we wanted to car pool with them to Las Vegas. They were from Las Vegas and needed to get back so they could get back to work. They told us they were renting a car and were going to make the 12 hour drive. They asked if we wanted to travel with them and split the cost of the car and of gas. Of course we jumped at the chance because Andrea needed to get to Las Vegas so she could go through the temple.

Words almost escape me as to how to describe the trip. Oh, I've got it. Worst. Road Trip. Ever. We ended up renting a Chevy HHR to make the 12 hour road trip. Not a comfortable car at all. We also didn't leave Fort Collins until about 1:30 pm, so we already had a late start. And then there was just the awkwardness of spending 12 hours in close proximity of complete strangers. Thankfully Ivan & Toni (the other couple) were pretty cool and we all seemed to get along.

By the time we got to Las Vegas it was about 2 am and I was miserable. I don't know who designed the seats in the Chevy HHR, but he was a bad person. I wouldn't even call what we did in the car sitting. Sitting is supposed to be somewhat comfortable. And what we did was so uncomfortable. When we finally stopped, I couldn't get out of the car quick enough. I thought I might lose it. I was so irritated. I was so relieved to get to Andrea's house. A strange bed never felt so good.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Top 5: 80's Female Rock Edition

Recently I was able to get my old computer working again. This was a huge deal for me since it's been about a year and half since I've had my own personal computer. Usually I would just use a friends computer or the one at work. But now mine is working again. It's old and slow, but it does what I need it to do.

Since I got my computer back, I've been putting music on it from the CD's that I own. It's been a fun and kind of a long process, but I finally have stuff to put onto my iPod. Anyway, while putting the music back on my computer I re-discovered that I have a bit of 80's music. This got me thinking about a Top 5 list that I could do. So I chose to do a best female rock artists/bands of the 80's as decided by me. Hope you like it. Comment on what would be in your Top 5 list.

5. The Go-Go's
I'm sure a lot of people think that this group should be higher on the list, and they probably deserve it. But they're number 5 simply because I didn't really have a lot of exposure to them growing up. Pretty much all I knew about them, until recently was that they were fronted by Belinda Carlisle. They do have catchy tunes and I realize that they were somewhat pioneers for other female rockers.

4. Nena
Yeah, I know. A one hit wonder. But have you listened to 99 Luftballoons. I've never heard a foreign language song that is so catchy. Catchy enough for me to try and learn the German words. I haven't had success at it except for knowing the phrase 99 Luftballoons. I have a lot of work ahead of me. The point is that not only was this German song successful, it was almost as successful after she sang it in English. That deserves a nod on this list.

3. Pat Benatar
With hits like "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", "Love Is A Battlefield", "We Belong", and "Invincible (Theme From The Legend of Billie Jean)" how can she not make the list? From 1981 to 1984 she won the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and was nominated in 1985, 1986, 1988, and 1989. This woman dominated 80's female rock.

2. Joan Jett
Joan Jet Rocks. Hard. Pure and simple, she rocks hard. When I see her, I think that she would out rock and out perform most of the male rock stars of the 80's. In the excess of the 80's, that's saying something. She was listed on Blender Magazine's 100 greatest guitarists of all time, which is impressive because there was only one other woman on the list.

1. The Bangles
Okay, they might be number one on my list because I used to have a crush on Susana Hoffs. But they have some really good songs too. "Walk Like An Egyptian" is definitely going to be on my Top 5: 80's songs list. They have other good songs too, like "Eternal Flame", "Manic Monday", and "Hazy Shade of Winter". After breaking up for 10 years, they got back together and are still touring, recording, and just rocking out.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

George Lucas Ruined My Childhood

What is George Lucas thinking? Seriously? Does anyone know what's going on in his head? Does he think that the movies that he is making now somehow enhance the wonderful movies he made in the 70's and 80's? Hasn't he done enough damage to my childhood movie memories?

I just read that he is mulling over a 5th Indiana Jones movie. Did he not see the last one? Did he think it was actually good? Not only that, but he has a new animated Star Wars movie coming out in a few weeks. Did anyone see that movie trailer and get super excited? I for one, did not. After seeing the Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith I no longer have any desire to see any new Star Wars material. I'm not sure why I was so surprised at how lame these movies are. I mean Lucas did attach himself to such cinematic gems as Howard the Duck, The Ewok Adventure, Captain EO, and Radioland Murders.

I'm not trying to pick on Lucas or say that he is a lousy film maker. Okay, maybe I am saying that he is a lousy film maker. But he hasn't always been. I mean as lame as the movies that I just mentioned are, he has also given us American Graffiti, the original Star Wars movies, the first three Indiana Jones movies, Willow, and even The Land Before Time (before it had 20 sequels). In fact, I thought that Lucas was such a great film maker that I even convinced myself to pretend to like the Star Wars prequels.

It wasn't until I watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that I came to the conclusion that he no longer has any film making talent. After Crystal Skull, I came out of the theater let down because he ruined a character that I enjoyed since childhood. He doesn't seem to have any more original ideas. For the last 20 years he has been doing things involved with either Indiana Jones or Star Wars. The only exception was in 1994 when he co-wrote Radioland Murders. Everything else has been some form of spin off of work he has already done.

Jim Emerson at MSN Movies said in reference to Lucas, "He's a mogul, not a director." He re-released the original Star Wars movies in the 90's and made a bunch more money. Then he re-re-released them on DVD and made some more money. Then he re-re-re-released them on DVD again, this time without the digital enhancements he made in the 90's. Now he plans to re-re-re-re-release them again in 3-D. When does it stop?

I'm sure he still has some good ideas for new stories and films. And I would love to see some of them once he tires of tinkering with the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. I think that he is worried that any new material that he comes up with will not be well liked or as profitable as those two franchises. He's right, but who cares? At least it would be new and fresh and that's what a film maker needs to be in order to stay successful and relevant.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The World Is Just Awesome

I know the Olympics are on and I shouldn't really be watching anything else on TV, but I love the Discovery Channel. So many good shows to choose from. I really enjoy Deadliest Catch and Dirty Jobs. But there is just so much cool stuff on the channel. Mythbusters is fun and helps me to get my science fix. For some unexplainable reason I enjoy watching Man versus Wild too. Who thought that it would be so fun to see a guy getting dropped off in the middle of no where and then try not to die in the wilderness. And don't even get me started on Shark Week. I haven't even seen the Planet Earth Series, but I think I may buy it on DVD.

The reason that I bring this up is because of the Discovery Channel Commercial that is so fun. You know the one where they change the words to from an old camp song. Boom-dee-yada, Boom-dee-yada. I love that commercial. It just makes me so excited to see the world and all of the cool things that it has. I mean on what other channels are you going to find such cool things about the world to see and learn about? Some of the shows and the shots that they get are absolutely amazing. And the Boom-dee-yada tune is so catchy I even made it my ringtone. Yeah, I know I'm a dork, but it's catchy.

Wow, that sounded like a total pitch for everyone to watch the Discovery Channel. I promise they didn't pay me anything to say that. I just enjoy the stuff that they show is all. Oh, and in case you want to here the Boom-dee-yada song, I made sure to post it for you.

In case you still want more Boom-dee-yada fun, here is a 3 minute long live version.

Monday, August 11, 2008

An Olympic Spirit

For those of you who may live under a rock, the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing started this past weekend. I've never been one to really enjoy the opening ceremonies, but this time I found myself excited to watch them. It was an amazing show. From the fireworks, to the 2008 drummers, to the people on the giant globe thingy, and the many shots National Stadium (aka "The Birds Nest"). It was a spectacular show. Unfortunately there weren't any actual sporting events on the day of the opening ceremonies.

Unless you're awake at 1:00 am. After the opening ceremonies it was just normal TV time for me until I saw a commercial saying that the first events would be starting after the current show I was watching. It made me kind of happy that the Olympics were happening 14 hours away so that I could watch them live. Even if it was at 1:00 am.

The commercial that came on to advertise the games made it seem like they were going to show a basketball game or something exciting right away. I was a little disappointed when the first event that they were showing was Womens Sabre Fencing. I thought to myself, "Really? Fencing? Who does fencing?" Aparently America does fencing. I watched several matches, and to be honest I found them almost comical at first. Probably because I didn't really understand what was going on. Not that I understand it now, but I have a much better idea. I found myself, after a while, actually enjoy the matches. Not something that I would have ever expected. It turns out that I ended up watching the three women that would sweep the medals for Womens Sabre Fencing.

It's funny how the Olympics changes the way one feels about certain sports. It takes a sport that is completely boring at any other time and turns it into an exciting competion. Now I'm not saying that the sports are not exciting, because I'm sure that they are plenty exciting. I'm just saying that I find myself not having much interest in those sports until the Olympic Games. I would never watch Sabre Fencing, Synchornized Diving, Badminton, Rowing, or Air Rifle Shooting or a ton of others without the Olympics. But I find myself excited to watch these competition and it helps me to have a new respect for the athletes.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

My friend Nathan gave me a couple of extra tickets to the Colorado Rockies versus San Diego Padres baseball game this week. Andrea and I drove down to Coors Field in Denver tonight to see the game. I know, the Olympics were on TV and Michael Phelps broke the 400 meter independent medley. I missed it. I know, the Denver Broncos first pre-season game was on. I missed it. I know, UFC 87 was on pay per view featuring Georges St. Pierre versus Jon Fitch. I missed it.

But I'm glad I missed those things. Yeah, even the Broncos game. I had a really good time with Andrea at the game. Even though we lost 8 - 3. It was just nice to be able to spend time together and enjoy one another's company. I think the part that I enjoyed the most was actually walking to the ballpark from the car. We parked in kind of a rough neighborhood so we wouldn't have to pay for parking. We ended up having to walk passed a homeless shelter while a bunch of people were milling around outside. It was funny because Andrea's demeanor totally changed. I think that she realized that she was the only white person around. I guess I just find some other peoples discomfort entertaining.

As for the game, it was too bad that we lost. But I do love going to baseball games. There is just something about the atmosphere there. The music over the loud speakers, fan contests for prizes, and singing during the 7th inning stretch. There is almost something nostalgic about going to a baseball game. I noticed quite a few fathers and sons there enjoying the game and I realized that is one of the ways the love of baseball gets passed on from generation to generation. Much in the same way my dad passed along a love of football to me. Although I didn't grow up watching baseball with my dad, I do hope to pass on a love of the game (as well as a love of other sports) to my children.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Top 5 Fun: 80's Movie Edition

I've been wanting to do some more top 5 lists for a little while, but I was drawing a blank on what types of things that I could rate. Then I saw that Ferris Bueller's Day Off was on TV and it hit me. I could do a top 5 list of 80's movies. Actually I want to do more top 5 lists as well but that might take some time. So for now I'll just stick with my 80's movies edition.

5. Conan The Barbarian - I remember seeing this movie when I was really young. I don't remember anything really about the movie except that I thought the sword fighting was pretty cool. It wasn't until I got a little older that I really understood and appreciated the movie itself. A story of a child that suffers hardships and who grows up to overcome those hardships. Eventually he has his revenge on those who caused his suffering. Classic.

4. The Never Ending Story - I absolutely loved this movie the first time I saw it. My family used to rent a VCR and videos from the local video store. I remember watching the movie like three times in the 24 hours that we had the equipment. I wanted to be a great warrior like Atreyu. I wanted to have his horse Artax and ride the luck dragon, Falkor. The Gmork, that wolf like monster that serves the Nothing, totally scared me. Such wonderful characters, how could this movie be bad? The only thing I didn't like, and still to this day can't understand, was the name that Bastian gave to the Empress. I know he give her his mothers name and that he shouts it out into the rain, but I have no idea what he says.

3. Better Off Dead - Okay, I'm not really a big John Cusack fan, but this movie is awesome. It's funny and has tons of great one liners. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl start to date. Girls dumps boy for someone more popular. Boy is depressed until he realizes he is better off with out said girl. Boy even finds a cooler and better girl to be with. Plus there are so many funny things that happen from the friend that snorts snow and jell-o trying to get high to the dancing hamburger claymation scene. And the quotes: "I'm sorry your mom blew up Ricky", "It's got raisins in it, you like raisins Lane", and "I've been going to this high school for seven and a half years. I'm no dummy. I know high school girls". So funny.

2. Weird Science - The first of the two John Hughes movies on my list. About two high school geeks trying to fit in and their creation of cyber girl come to life. What's not to love? Maybe I identified with this movie because I was somewhat geeky in high school. I dont' know. But it's another fun story about the main characters actually learning to be themselves. Actually, I'm starting to wonder if there are any 80's movies that don't take place in high school.

1. The Breakfast Club - The best John Hughes movie as far as I'm concerned. I'm not really sure what it is about this movie that I like so much. It seems like everything about the movie seems so memorable. From the characters to the music to the scenes themselves. So much so that even JC Penny has remade some of the scenes for a commercial for a back to school sale. I like how the kids start off being completely different from each other. Each from a different social group all stuck in the same situation and forced to learn how to deal with each other. I think that character development that is seen through out the movie is what I really enjoy.

Honorable Mentions: Top Gun, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Footloose, Goonies, Teen Wolf, The Secret of My Success, The Karate Kid, Labyrinth, Back To The Future, Brewster's Millions, Adventures In Babysitting, Short Circuit, Big, Over The Top