Well Christmas is officially over in the Casey house. We've taken down the decorations and mastered our day after Christmas sales. We haven't yet opened all of Christian's toys... but we're still working on the "one toy at a time" theory with him, so some toys may remain unopened for a while.

It was a great Christmas. Bekah is devious this time of year, and has spent the last few weeks in purposeful misleading - all to pull off a perfect surprise. Bekah's dad got Bekah's mom what is probably the best Christmas present ever. And, I managed to surprise the most difficult person to buy presents for - my wife.

WORD OF ADVICE: If you ever buy silverware for a significant other, think twice before deciding to wrap each spoon fork and knife individually. It is well worth the look of joy followed by bewilderment - not to mention the 20 minutes of watching the recipient unwrapping the utensils. However, silverware is not easy to wrap. 37 pieces took me an hour of cutting paper and wrapping and taping.

Now that the holiday has passed, we are looking forward to the new year. Bekah and I are working hard to become more organized. Our goals for this next year is to settle into a routine, and get back into shape - focusing on our health a bit more. We'll see how it goes.

Well, one more day before I return to work tomorrow, and I've got a new Dean Koontz book to start reading.


Personality quirks

There is one type of personality trait that bothers me beyond comprehension, annoys the crap out of me, and frustrates every fiber in my body. (did I mention annoy)

You probably know people like this. They stick out like a house fly in a bowl of whip creme. Perhaps they annoy you as they do me. Perhaps you are one of these people - and I am very sorry if this is you.

I can handle megalomaniacs. I can handle uber-nerds. I can handle those whose elevator does not reach the top floor. I can handle religious fanatics and die hard atheists. Skaters, pot-heads, jocks, fashion focused, promiscuous, socially awkward, ambitious, etc. Bring it. I love the diversity of the personalities that I work with.

But there is still that one personality that tests my patience and sanity. The I-know-more-about-everything-than-anybody-else personality. This personality is even more aggravating when coupled with the intense need to prove their superior knowledge of everything. It is especially annoying when said know-it-all does not know it all and is obviously making stuff up.

Call it a character flaw, but when I meet people like this, I have a compulsive urge to humiliate people like this. Does that make me a bad person?


Traditions missed

One of the hardest parts of being married (that I've found) is the melding of traditions from two different families.

My family opened presents on Christmas morning, but Bekah's family did their presents on Christmas Eve. My parents hung our stockings from the wall, and Aaron and I could open them as soon as we woke up Christmas morning (although, we had to wait till mom and dad were awake before we could touch the presents - I think their allowing us to get into the stockings was their strategy to sleep in and not be rudely awakened by excited children). Bekah's family laid their stockings out (covered by a blanket) and everyone dug into their stockings at the same time.

Somehow, we've managed to compromise which Casey family traditions we kept and which traditions were continued from the Forster side of the family. That means there are some traditions that we had to let go. Of the traditions that we did not carry over from our single days - there are two traditions that I miss.

1. Going out for ice cream dressed in shorts and a t-shirt on the first day of snow. This wan't really a Christmas tradition, but a winter tradition. My brother started it, and like many things in our younger days - Aaron was the perfect big brother - he included me. I continued this tradition after I moved to Boise - even to the point that I would wear shorts to work and brought ice cream bars in for my coworkers. I tried to revive this tradition when Bekah and I moved back to Coeur d'Alene; her little sister always wanted to go. But between my work schedule and other commitments we never were able to go.

2. Going to the movies on Christmas Day. I saw a lot of great movies on Christmas. I did the family thing in the morning and stayed at home through Christmas dinner, then I'd take off with friends. This was easier to do when I lived in Boise since I had no family there to share my Christmas. The last movie I saw on Christmas day was Shanghai Knights the Christmas before I got married. Bekah has not completely nixed this tradition... we still go to a movie every Christmas, just not on Christmas day.

We are still trying to forge our own Christmas identity. I think each year we have a more clear family tradition of our own. I'm curious what it will be like to watch our kids go through this same transition in another 20 years or so.


10 Things I Learned Last Night @ the ER

10. The medical staff does have a sense of humor. They asked me the routine questions: are you allergic to any medication, does your family of history of heart problems, do you smoke, do you drink, etc. When they got to the question do you do cocaine? I answered - not to my knowledge. I didn't intend for my answer to be funny - but the nurses thought it was hilarious.

9. Travis (not sure if he was a doctor or RN or ???) looked like Adam Levine of Maroon 5. Nice guy. Travis said he would make my EKG machine stop beeping as long as I promised to "not die."

8. I still don't like needles.

7. Having an IV in your hand is not pleasant. I told Bekah - if I get some terminal illness that requires me to be poked and prodded and plugged into a bunch of tubes and IVs, just let me die.

6. However, I do like the smell of the oxygen tubes they stick up your nose.

5. EKGs and chest hair are a bad combination.

4. When you overhear two doctors talking in the hallway, one doctor uses the term "psychotic" and the other says "neurotic," you know the diagnosis does not look good for the patient they're discussing.

3. I'm not sure what kind of drugs they gave me, but that was some good stuff. It made me really happy. It also made me really funny... if only to myself.

2. Doctors consider any blood pressure to be good. High, low, doesn't matter. If you have blood pressure, it's a good thing. Consider the alternative.

1. There is nothing wrong with me. They gave me a clean bill of health. Unfortunately, it takes longer for them to discharge you than it does to admit you.


Interesting e-mail of the day

From: Fellow Trainer
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2007 9:32 AM
To: Training Staff
Subject: Classroom 4

Say team
The cleaning gal just ask that we keep the door to Classroom 4 closed at all times today. Seems there is a big black cat in the ceiling and they are trying to get it.

* * * *

For the record, I have no idea how a big black cat got stuck in the ceiling. Neither does out maintenance man. (not to mention how the cat even got in the building)


The Real Reason for the Season

(originally posted 12/21/06 on my other blog What's Inside)

It seems the Christmas advertising season starts two days earlier than it did the year before. That is two extra days a year of hearing songs about Frosty, Rudolph, mistletoe, and holly. Two extra days of red, green, & white decorations, and Salvation Army bells ringing across the nation. Two extra days for all of the seasonal Santas to wear their red suits. Two more days for hearing about peace, joy, and the good news of Jesus’ birth, along with the complaints “it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet." And two more days of panic for dietitians and procrastinators.

Christmas is my wife’s favorite holiday. She loves the deep sense of family traditions, and the budding philanthropist within her finds no deeper satisfaction than giving gifts to her closest friends, family, and the occasional stranger in need. She longs all year for the apple pie, laughter, winter snow, the smell of evergreen, and - most importantly - the curious excitement that comes with the celebration of Christmas.

Yet, somehow, in all of the commercial endeavors, the difficulty finding parking spaces at the mall, and the inescapable business of the holidays... we miss the real reason for the season. We get caught up in the worry of buying presents in time, and picking the perfect wrapping paper. We occupy ourselves with lists: food lists, wish lists, mailing lists. We bury ourselves in traditions: the nativity scene, Christmas Eve church services, carols, gift exchanges. What is this for? What is Christmas about?

The Christmas story is (for some of us) a familiar and treasured story. But to really grasp what God intends for us during holiday season, we have to dig deeper. We must look beyond the shepherds, the manger, the gifts of the magi, and the inn with no room. We discover the reason for Christmas before Joseph and Mary even travel to Bethlehem.

Of all the people involved, I think Mary’s reaction best describes what Christmas is about. In the first chapter of Luke, we read about Mary’s encounter with an angel. She has been told that she was with child and would give birth to a son. In verse 38, Mary says “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” Mary was not asked a simple favor, but given a daunting task and a lifetime of unanswered questions. Yet her bold response echoes the greatest gift we could ever give to our God.

I am your servant, do as You will. Such an act of faith can not be possible with out an assurance. In verse 37, the angel eased Mary’s confusion and fears “Nothing is impossible with God.”

The holiday season is not always the easiest time of year. For many, it lacks joy. The stress of the holidays overshadows the joy of Christmas. But God does not intend for us to suffer through the most wonderful time of the year. When you are facing the first holiday after losing someone close to you, or your first Christmas away from home; when you are stranded at an airport because of a blizzard; when you are panicking about whether or not you will blow your diet, or mail out Christmas cards in time; remember, with God all things are possible. It is up to us to reply, “I am Yours, may you do as you have promised.”

And what has God promised us. “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)


Good morning, Starbucks

Has anybody noticed any trends in Starbucks’ morning patronage? It seems (at least to me) that the majority of morning customers in the drive through are women, while men are the majority inside the coffee shop.


Could it because of the predominantly female Starbucks staff? Hmmm.


I’ve been Memed

I’ve been tagged with the instructions to blog 10 weird, random things, facts, habits or goals about myself (thanks Sarah). At the end, I’m supposed to tag 10 other bloggers to do the same thing, but I don’t have 10 other bloggers to tag. So, I’ll leave it open to whoever wants to continue the meme. So here it goes…

1. I love singing and playing guitar; I do not claim to be good at either.
2. If I found a magic lamp with a wish-granting genie inside, one of my three wishes would be the ability to imitate anybody's voice.
3. Three is my favorite number.
4. I desperately need a haircut, but I will not get a haircut until I decide whether I want to grow it out or go with a faux hawk. Getting a mullet is not an option.
5. I have never had any desire to go to Hawaii. However, I would love to visit Antarctica.
6. I enjoy a good game of Yahtzee.
7. I used to think that the world’s worst math teachers were employed at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Then I went to college.
8. I eat way too much fast food.
9. I sometimes wonder if I’m ever going to finish the novel I’m writing.
10. If I had things my way, all of my old friends from Boise would move up here. That way I could still hang out with them, but I wouldn’t have to go to Boise to see them. (And, just for good measure, Sarah would move back here from Texas.)

If you complete this meme and blog about 10 weird, random things, facts, habits or goals about yourself, please leave me a comment so that I can laugh at… I mean go read you 10 things.


Snowfall & Sunshine

This is what I love about winter: crisp blue skies above a new layer of snow (just enough snow to transform the ordinary scenery into something magical, but not enough to be a nuisance). There’s a crispness in the air – cold, but not frigid. It’s refreshing. The sunshine brings a brightness often forgotten during winter; like finding hope amidst ruin.

It reminds me of my childhood… well, kind of. Growing up in Seattle, fresh and clean snow under pure azure skies would have been an oddity, if not a rarity. The weather in Seattle slushed more often than it snowed, and the somber clouds always lingered. So today’s weather doesn’t remind me of Puget Sound winters of yesteryear, but of the winters of my youthful dreams (I have always wanted snow for Christmas). It was that picture perfect postcard kind of snow that I longed for.

Like finding hope amidst ruin.

I’ve always felt at peace when it snowed; the world seems quieter. There is a tranquility that can be found in an unadulterated blanket of snow – a stillness that we all long for. In the hectic day-to-day chaos that dominates our culture, such serenity is desperately needed.

It is because of that quite desperation, I find this time of year so exciting – reinvigorating. Like finding hope amidst ruin.


musical genius

The Ruin of the Beast by Steven Delopoulos
I miss Burlap to Cashmere


Riding the short bus

We trainers have a short bus is an award we pass around at work. Well, actually... it's not a bus. It's a foam stress reliever in the shape of a van. It has "for special friends only" written on the side.

How is this an award? Well, the short bus is given to someone who does (or says) something exceedingly stupid. If the employee of the month gets a prime parking spot, the dunce gets a trophy... er... short bus. Once in possession of the short bus, the only way to get rid of it is for someone else to earn it.

Now let me explain a few things:
1. It is all good natured/out of love and respect
2. It started as a practical joke on a trainee who frequently asked ridiculously stupid questions
3. I have never been awarded the short bus (and I hope to keep it like that)
4. The short bus is only passed between the trainers; most of our employees posses no knowledge of our humorous escapades in the basement
5. The current owner of the short bus has had it longer than any of the previous owners

Today, the current owner was able to relinquish possession of the short bus.

We had soup and dinner rolls for lunch; all of us we impressed with the food. In a conversation about lunch, one of our trainers wanted to compliment part of the meal.

"What are the bread thingies called?" she asked.

"Rolls?!?" the other three of us spoke in near unison. Then laughed.

Congratulations, we have found a new owner for the short bus. (only she doesn't want it, and she can't wait to get rid of it)


Driver's Med

Are all of the doctors at Kootenai Medical Center pushy, reckless, and aggressive drivers? I drive by Big Blue on my commute to work; each of the last three times I've turned onto Ironwood from 95, I have followed (or been followed by) a vehicle turning into KMC's staff only parking. This morning, the car in front of me dangerously cut off a large freight truck. On previous mornings, I've seen erratic lane changes (without blinkers), failure to yield, excessive speeding, inattentive driving, and running a red light - often close to causing an accident. Without fail, each traffic offender turns into the KMC staff parking lot.

You would think that the medical staff at the primary hospital in North Idaho would be so used to seeing the carnage caused by such aggressive driving habits. One might also think that having seen the consequences - they might be a little tamer in their own driving.

Since the only time I have (recently) seen drivers enter the KMC staff parking area, I must assume that these reckless drivers are a fair representation of KMC's staff.

I probably Should not single out KMC. I have noticed similar driving habits in bulk from other major employers. Employees at the Hewlett Packard between Lake Stevens and Marysville (Seattle area) were frequent offenders - one HP employee drove into oncoming traffic on Highway 9 to pass me (in the left-hand turn lane), merged into my lane (forcing me to the shoulder), then ran the red light turning into HP. When I moved to Boise, I observed the same habits from employees at the Hewlett Packard Training Centre in Meridian.

Is there something about certain employers that causes employees to abandon all common sense when driving on wet, slushy, and icy roads?


Holiday treats

Other than snow, what could make the holiday season any better? The treats.

Now, I know that this is a rough time of year for dieters and health food fanatics - but what would Christmas be with out the goodies?

My all time favorite Christmas treat is something my mom called reindeer fodder. Mmmm. Yummy stuff. Reindeer fodder consists of a mixture of Capt'n Crunch, peanuts, and marshmallows blended into melted white chocolate (or almond bark). The whole glob of goo is spread out onto cookie sheets, hardened in the fridge and then broken into little pieces. Of course, I don't like peanuts so my mom always made two batches: one with nuts and one minus nuts for me.

A bowl full of reindeer fodder and a glass of eggnog - and I'm a happy man.

There are various recipes on the net. Ingredients vary: some call for additional cereal flavors like Crispix or Cheerios, and extra ingredients like raisins or pretzels. It's good stuff; if you've never had any before I highly recommend trying it out this year.


...and the winter storm coverage begins!

Like good and faithful stewards of public interests, local news crews were out on the scene last night covering vehicle accidents across the inland empire as the winter's first snow began to cover the area. Ahhh, it's my favorite time of year.

The first collision reported involved a police officer who was rear ended while sitting at a stop sign. Wow, sucks to be the guy who hit the cop. Kudos to the officer, who was able to write the easiest traffic violation ticket in his career.

Speaking of the weather... KXLY's forecast called for snow today, none tomorrow, and light snow Thursday with partial clouds the rest of the week. KREM predicted no snow today, snow tomorrow and heavy snow Thursday with a possibility of snow through the week end. Who will be correct? Find out next week! I sure hope KREM wins.

(This is starting to sound like a cheesy reality show - " The Next Great Accurate American Meteorologist." NOTE TO ALL NETWORKS: if you happen to create a reality show for competing weather forecasters in lieu of the continuing writer's strike - I thought of it first; I want part of the profits.)



The oddities of Sesame Street

As a father of a toddler, I am slowly getting reacquainted with the citizens of Sesame Street. It is a great show when you look at the basics. The show has talented writers who strongly grasp themes important for kids to learn and present it all in a way that does not annoy the parents who monitor what their kids watch. (Although, judging from their knack for parody and subtle humor, I would assume that much of Sesame Street's writing staff has way too much free time.)

Yet the more Christian watches Sesame Street, the more I begin to notice some unintended quirks. Here are some examples.

1. Am I the only one who notices the similarities between Elmo and Comedy Central's character Special Ed?

Maybe it's because they both say "YAAAAAAYY!" a lot. Or maybe it is the similar IQ level.
2. Big Bird is a pot-head. Really. He is too fascinated by simple things to be drug free.
3. Mr. Noodle is a child molester. C'mon - just look at the mustache - it screams CHIMO! The outfit (obnoxious bow tie, 70's era vest, pleated pants pulled too far above the waist line), the awful hair piece, every thing about him is downright creepy. He winks a lot, makes funny faces, and loiters outside of a young boy's bedroom window - pervert. SERIOUSLY! Every time I see Mr. Noodle I think that man is a convicted sex offender. And to top it off, he leads with his hip. (In theater character studies, we were taught how to portray personality in the way we walked: if your character is intelligent - lead with the forehead, if your character is prideful - lead with your chest. Characters who lead with their hip or any part of their pelvic region when they walk are lustful and motivated by sex. Not really the mental image I want to see when Elmo's World is over.
4. Bert is evil. I won't go into details, but I truly pity Ernie.
5. There is significant cultural diversity on Sesame Street. I think it is important for kids to see diversity celebrated in such a healthy and productive manor. However, I am noticing a trend in their quest for diversity. The minority kids on the show seem to be normal healthy children. The vast majority of the Latino, African American, and Asian kids seem to be typical kids (ignoring the outdated wardrobes). But the white kids? It seems like the majority of the white kids on the show have some sort of mental or physical handicap. OK, I know us white folk can't dance, and we may look goofy, but there are some of us that appear normal. Eh, maybe I'm just being too sensitive.
6. Honestly, Sesame Street is a wonderfully educational experience. Yet there is one bad habit that Sesame Street seems to propagate: bad table manners. Thank you Cookie Monster, due to your influence my son eats like a wood chipper. Aside from the poor table manners, Christian is remembering more of his shapes and colors, and quickly gaining mastery of the alphabet and - thanks to The Count - numbers & counting.
Speaking of The Count, how cool is it that there is a Vampire on Sesame Street? Not to mention one who commands such a devilishly good laugh - ah ah ah.


The new puppy

The new puppy is home after a week at the vet. The battle over Parvo is not quite over, but she is getting stronger. Now she needs a name, and you can help us with that. Just tell us which of these three names you like best.

1. Terata (Ter-aht-ah: means Marvel or Wonder - often translated into Miracle)

2. Antagoni (An-tag-ohn-ee: shortened from the word antagonizomenoi- which means struggling against)

3. Elpida (El-peed-ah: means Hope)

Vote: 1. Terata, 2. Antagoni, or 3. Elpida


Now I really don't want to

While walking through the grocery store this morning, I saw a disturbing display. The rice cakes were on a shelf next to the feminine hygiene products.

Because I needed more reasons to not want to eat rice cakes.


Rappers are the worlds worst spellers

Let me preface this post with a little disclaimer. I can not spell. So griping about other people's spelling mistakes might sound a bit hypocritical. Yet there are errors that are humorous enough that they must be pointed out.

I give my classes surveys on the first day of class to discover what kind of experience they have and what they want out of a job. One question asks about their hobbies. I love this question because it helps me figure out how to relate to the employees in my class.

One agent is a huge fan of rap music. He DJs, break dances, and raps. However, he can't spell. Spelling errors are forgivable; yet (on the first day survey) when he answered rapping as one of his hobbies, he spelled "rapping" with one "p."

Oh how that one letter makes a big difference.


Noah Clause

It is not yet Halloween, but the Christmas decorations have arrived. When decorative skeletons are hung beside mistletoe, this visual assault on the senses is not only disorienting, but could also create some holiday confusion.

I often wonder how these merry mash-ups (Thanks-Chauna-Christma-Kwanza-Hallo-weenika) might appear through the eyes of a three year old. Thankfully, I just happen to have a three year old to tell me.

While walking through Sears, we came upon a blow-up Santa. It was one of those obnoxious jumbo-sized yard decorations - tacky yard trash that over eager Tim Allen types find elegant. Taking the opportunity to test Christian's holiday recognition skills, Bekah asks our toddler who the inflated figure represented. (Logic being, if the kid can tell the difference between a fur seal and a harp seal, surely he would recognize Jolly Ol' Saint Nick!)

"Christian," Bekah points at the air-filled Chris Kringle and asks, "who's that?"

Christian has the answer, so he smiles and says "Noah!"

* * * *

Ah, yes. I'm sure when Clement Clarke Moore envisioned Noah, he saw a chubby (plump), bearded fat man with rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes - dressed in fur with a tobacco pipe stump held tight in his clenched teeth.

* * * *

In other flood news, our youth pastor put a new spin on this classic Bible story: God basically spit an the earth and everyone died - except for one family and a bunch of animals.

Yes, I do enjoy being a youth leader.


When music grows old

At what point do retro songs become classic rock?

At what point do classic rock songs become oldies?



Please allow me to boost my ego, for a moment. I have good news: if you Google search "nic casey" this blog is the first search result.

Speaking of ego, the ancient Greek word ego is translated into modern English as the personal pronoun "I."

And now, back to my boring life.


The jump off

The playground at Valley Park in Spokane was not designed for toddlers, but for kids a bit older - kindergartners at least. Yet, Christian insisted on playing, despite the over sized equipment.

Every step and ladder rung was chest or shoulder height. At first Christian struggled to climb, but he was determined to succeed. Descending was far more difficult than the ascent. At one point, Christian paced back and forth over a high bridge trying to decide which end would be easier to climb off.

I had to resist the fatherly urge to help him at the first hint of difficulty. This was a task that (for some odd reason) was important for Christian to figure out on his own. So, instead, I followed him with a camera.

He did occasionally ask for help, mostly when he wanted to jump from a high ledge. He would take hold of my hands and jump - half carried half fell - to the ground. Having discovered the joy of this jump/fall/carried sensation, Christian went searching for the highest point to leap from. And he found it in a gap just barely big enough for him to fit through. He shimmied down to a metal bar just below the gap and reached for me with one hand (the other hand held tightly to the platform). This perch of his was quite high - above my head. I had to stand on the tips of my toes to reach him. When he finally grasped his hands around my fingers there was a moment of hesitation. Understandable, if you were three foot tall and about to make a jump over twice your height, you would also hesitate . But he jumped. I guided him down and he landed in the pea gravel with a small splash.

"I'm OK!" He said with a hint of surprise in his voice.

"Yes," I told him, "you are OK."

Then, with quite resignation, Christian lowered his head and said, "Oh."

Just a bit of disappointment and he ran off to play some more.


Yo quiero bad business moves

Earlier this week, Taco Bell announced plans to open Taco Bell locations in Mexico... again. Really.

They tried this once before, in 1992. As you may have guessed, they failed. I wonder why.

Could it be that you can find better tacos in Mexico than you might at a Taco Bell? Selling Americanized Mexican food in Mexico is akin to opening a Panda Express in China. I'm sue that real Chinese food from China is far better than anything on Panda Express's menu. Just the same, I'm sure that Mexican citizens know how to make tacos and burritos better than we do.

Or maybe the first Taco Bell locations failed because Mexicans were insulted by that ridiculous little chihuahua (I hate that little mutt).

I believe, however, Taco Bell failed in Mexico because of the mixed messages sent by their "Make a run for the border" slogan. Or as they say in Mexico "Corre a la Frontera!" Not quite the message you want to send to your customers.

I wonder if Taco Bell will be more successful this second time. I doubt it. Well, you know what they say - third time's a charm.


And now for something completely different*

In reference to Larry Criag, a reporter on this morning's KREM 2 news broadcast made an interesting** statement.

"First he said he would resign. Then he said he might not. Then he said he would resign if the judge refused to throw out his guilty plea - which is exactly what happened last week, but then then senator said he is comfortable staying."

Great, this is all old news. Could KREM 2 Guy tell us something we never knew before?

"So, clearly," KREM 2 Guy continued, "he is a man who changes his mind."**

Really? I'm so glad you cleared that up. Thank you for your thought provoking coverage of the Larry Craig scandal.**

* Yes, that was a Monty Python Reference. And what followed was completely non sequitur. I have a odd sense of humor.
** Sarcasm is a virtue.
*** Does KREM 2 Guy actually get paid to say stuff like that?!? Te me how I can get hooked up with a job like that. I am as capable at overstating the obvious as anyone else.


toddler vocabulary

As Bekah and I are working hard to improve Christian's vocabulary. We are particularly proud of phrases like "I'm thuggin'," "OK, sounds like a plan" and "what did Christian do???" He is one of the few three year olds that I know of that actually uses the word "actually" in proper context. As an example, while in Seattle, my sister-in-law told Christian to "look at the birds" - to which Christian replied "actually, those are seagulls." (We're also working hard on animal recognition)

As his vocabulary grows, there are a few phrases we would like him to stop using. Like referring to Psuchen as "the dang dog" (my fault). Or, when being scolded for wrong doing, telling us "don't say that."

But there are always new (and bigger) words to learn. Tonight, as he stared down the 64 ounce Costco sized container of animal crackers, Christian asked "I want all of them, Mama."

"You can have three," Bekah said, "but you can not have all of them."

"Why?" he asked.

"Because," my turn. "That would be called gluttony."

God forgive me if my son grows up thinking that gluttony is what happens if you eat all of the animal crackers.


obvious advertising

I saw this sign while walking throught the Silver Lake Mall last night:

Spend More
Get More

Really!?! You mean I have to spend more to get more? I thought I would get less stuff if I spent more. Boy was I wrong.


thank you G4TV for making me feel old

As I attempted to fill out my entry to win one of the Xbox 360s that G4TV was giving away last night, G4TV.com gave me one error as I submitted my entry form.

"Your birthday is incomprehensible."


Hello Master Chief, goodbye Nic

Halo 3 comes out at midnight tonight. If I disappear for the next week, you know where I am.



I've posted a few photos to TrekEarth.com, and for a long time, no one would leave comments or feedback on my pictures. That a bit depressing - but understandable considering I'm only an amateur photographer and many of TrekEarth's members consider themselves to be professional.

Then, yesterday morning, I got a wonderful surprise - my first comment. And it was a positive comment. Figures the picture that received the first comment was a picture of an out house - but I'll take what I can get.

Click HERE to see more of my work on TrekEarth. And thanks for reading.


Thank you Larry Craig

Airport travel has become increasingly awkward since the Larry Craig scandal began dominating news headlines. As I sat in a stall in the Denver airport, between Concourse A and baggage check, I began wondering about the guy in the stall next to me.

What would I do if the guy started tapping his foot? Do I have a wide stance? Should I move my feet closer together? What if shuffling my feet closer together was misconstrued as a bit of my own toe tapping? What if the guy next door was an under-cover officer? What if the guy was Senator Craig?


Using the restroom has never been this stressful before.

how not to be a conservationist

Most airlines provide in flight reading material: brand specific magazines chocked full of advertising, travel tips, and destination focused articles. Every time I fly I bring a book or two to read. Yet, as soon as I am seated, I can’t resist digging through the pocket on the back of the seat in front of me to see what treasures I can find.

The magazine provided on my Horizon flight to Denver covered the explosive growth and development in the west Puget Sound area, a locale I spent much time exploring as a youth. The development along the Bremerton waterfront looks exciting, and I can’t wait to see it. The changes in Bremerton will be a must see destination the next time I am in Seattle.

Changes on Bainbridge Island were also covered in Horizon’s in flight magazine. There is a new conservation park on Bainbridge Island; it looks like a great place to observe native flora and fauna. And there’s a restaurant at the park – everybody likes restaurants! What makes this conservationist restaurant so cool is after you are done eating, they place all of your uneaten food on a scale to see (by weight) how much food you wasted…


Are they encouraging gluttony? I thought they were conservationists! By telling customers how much their wasted food weighs, the restaurant sounds like a parent lecturing a child about starving children in Africa because the child did not finish their broccoli at dinner. And wouldn’t they want to send the leftovers with you in a to-go box so that the extra food would not go to waste? Once the food is scraped onto the scale, there is no way I would want to take home the leftovers. It’s as if wasted food is destroying our environment. Don’t they realize that food is biodegradable? What kind of conservationists are they?



What was Tuesday's biggest news story? The sales rivalry between Kanye West and 50 Cent, or the 6th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks? How sad is it that I even need to ask that question?

I would like to thank Denver's channel 2 news broadcast for their coverage of Britney's VMA performance. That was three minutes of my life that I will never be able to gain back.

p.s. go Kanye.



If you've ever read Dante's Inferno, you might find my results to this quiz interesting.

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Extreme
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)Low
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very Low

Take the Dante's" Inferno Hell Test


Little girl: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Older man (presumably father): A couch potato.

Older woman (presumably mother): That's what they call laziness.


My non sequitur son

I have come to appreciate the fact that toddlers can be some of the most random creatures to walk this planet. However, Christian occasionally says something completely absurd that catches me off guard.

I asked him several times this morning is he was hungry or wanted breakfast. Each time he said "no."

Bekah suggested that he would want breakfast if I took him to McDonald's. So, she asked, "Christian, do you want to go to McDonald's?"

"No," he replied as he looked through an Elmo coloring book, "I can't. The dinosaurs."

I sometimes wonder how a three year old's brain works.


when bad is better than what was

If your situation is improved because something goes wrong, should that be discouraging or relieving?

Since the bad is better, one must assume that what was was horrible. And one might be discouraged that things were so bad in the first place.

However, one must also find encouragement that progress is being made. And while the situation is not yet good, is is better.

If an improvement is bad, could it be considered good? And yet we hope for the best.

If bad improvements are still bad, what kind of comfort can we find? Is it a compromise or an extension of grace when we see good in the bad?


Apples to Apples

Apparently, in a game of word association, my wife thinks charging rhinos are melodramatic.

Thanks for a wonderful month

The month of August has been challenging – both personally and professionally. However, life in the blogosphere has been outstanding. You, my readers, have given Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts its best month ever, this last December was the record holder. This month’s page views completely (695) blew away December’s total (567) earlier this week, as did most of my other stats. I ended the month with 146 unique visitors, 415 visits, and 695 page views. Now I realize the numbers of visits and page views I’ve received greatly pales in comparison to some bigger and better blogs. And I realize that most of my readers are family and close friends. But, considering I only do this part time – I’m ecstatic. All I can say is thanks for reading. I truly appreciate it.

Moving on… er… I mean looking back. Remember my post about flowers? Well I had no idea what any of them were, and I posted the pics in hopes that someone could identify what each flower was called. Most of you were able to sniff out the rose, but the rest remained a mystery. They would still be unknown to me if it wasn’t for Alice Rankin of Alice’s Garden Spot. She identified most of the flowers for me. According to Alice, the picture’s identities are as follows: top picture could be a petite day lily (she’s not sure), 2nd picture is a Stargazer Oriental Lily, 3rd picture is (as everyone knows) a Pink Rose, 4th picture is an Echinacea (Coneflower), and the 5th picture is a Canna. Thank you, Alice. The plant in the final picture remains nameless.

Also, I must thank you all for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers this week. I took a couple of days off from work. My wife went shopping, and her sister came up to visit from Boise. We’re all doing better. Speaking of Bekah’s sister – she is in town this weekend. We’ll be hanging out with her for the next couple of days, so don’t expect any more postings here or on HBO until she leaves.

Again, thank you for making August a superb month.

PS: Tell all your friends about me



Why is it, the politicians who most ardently oppose gay rights end up involved with gay sex scandals?

First was Spokane Mayor Jim West. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, google the phrase "mayor jim west." Nine out of the first ten search results cover (or at least mention) West's scandal. Not just geek bloggers out to out the former mayor but (mostly) credible sources like the Spokesman Review, Seattle PI, Seattle Times, CBS News, MSNBC, and PBS's Frontline. What made the West scandal so enthralling was his noticeably anti-gay agenda.

Now we have Senator Larry Craig. Vocally against gay rights. Rumored to be gay. Involved in gay scandal. Becomes nation wide news story overnight. He has become the object of political cartoon mockery, the voters in Idaho want him to resign, the Republicans deny ever knowing him, the Democrats just point and laugh, the gay community cry "not him, anyone but him," while simple folk like me think not again.

Who's next?


A Chance for the Chancers

Several years ago, I rented a room from Bekah's aunt; her aunt shared her four and a half bedroom house with eight guys. One bedroom for her, which meant the eight of us dudes split the remaining three and a half bedrooms. Do the math, it was crowded. Most of us were musicians, and the house had become a place to hang out for many people.

She also owned a second house that was home to a handful of young women. The residents of both places were there for various reasons, some battled addictions, others were trying to start a new life, but all of us needed a cheap place to stay.

The door to the guys house was a revolving door for a colorful cast of characters, most of whom were not residents. Our motley crew was most evident on Friday nights when we would meet for an often crowded Bible study. Drew led the worship, and over the course of a few months became one of the best friends I've ever had. Tommy sang and played various instruments in a band; I helped promote them, but I was more or less an over-glorified roadie. Terry was an ex-drug dealer, ex-rave DJ, and ex-husband who had left his old life moving half-way across the state to clean up and start over. There was a skater kid who was still in high-school; his mom couldn't handle him so she insisted he lived with us as long as he went to church and stayed in school. One of the guys was a semi-pro skater, another a youth pastor. One time, a homeless guy showed up to have a sandwich.

Then there was Nicole. She didn't live in the girls house and didn't really believe in God. She showed up every Friday night, tired from a full day of skateboarding. She often slept through the Bible study, but would hang out afterwards to chat and relax. For her, our house was a safe environment. We all knew she had issues, but knew little about the specifics. Despite lacking religious beliefs of her own, she listened when we talked about our faith. During the Bible study she usually sat on the couch closest to who ever was speaking or on the floor in the middle of the room. However, one night she sat in the back of the room. Terry noticed something was wrong and he pulled her out of the group; Terry, Nicole, and Bekah's aunt disappeared into one of the bedrooms.

Our study continued as usual. Most nights, the crowd thinned slowly with several people staying to joke around, pass around the guitar for group sing-a-longs, shot hoops in the back yard, or skated out front. The late night after Bible study was a social time were we were known to stay up late into the next morning singing and making music, or engaged in deep philosophical conversations. But that night, only a few people lingered. I think most of us realized that something was out of the ordinary.

At some point, Bekah went into the room were Terry had taken Nicole. Most people went home. Finally Drew and I were the only two left in the living room. Terry came out and explained what was going on. Nicole had a drug problem. Sometime earlier that day, Nicole had hit bottom and decided it was time to quit doing drugs; she decided to go cold turkey. Terry recognized her tremors the instant she came in. She was experiencing hyperreflexia and had severe cramping in her limbs. Bekah and her aunt were massaging Nicole's arms and legs to relieve tension. Terry was trying to keep her body temperature up with warm rags. He was talking her through the DTs, keeping her as calm as possible to avoid panic attacks, and making her eat bananas to give her some source of potassium.

Drew and I wanted to help, but there wasn't much we could do. Being musicians we did the only thing we knew how: we picked up our guitars and began to play. Earlier that night, I taught Drew the chord progression for Dave Matthews' "Crash." Drew started with that song to make sure he could competently play it and I sang along. At the end of the song, he plucked the opening riff to Poor Old Lu "Chance for the Chancers." This song was a house favorite and one that we all knew by heart. What caused Drew to play that song, I don't know. But it was the right song choice. With both of us strumming our guitars, we sang the first few words at the top of our lungs: "EVERYTHING'S GONNA BE OK!"

Laughter erupted in the bedroom next door. On the worst night of her life, Nicole needed to hear that everything was going to be OK. We continued to sing. "He's going to wipe those tears away - And before this night is through - This is all going to make sense to you."

From what Terry told me the next day, that was Nicole's turning point. As soon as she heard us playing "Chance for the Chancers," Nicole relaxed. Her body temperature began to regulate on her own and her breathing steadied. Conversation began with Nicole speaking clearer. Over the next few days, Nicole cleaned up, and (last I heard) she stayed clean through the years since then.

That's what we all needed to hear. That things were going to be OK. That things will make sense. That all things work together for the good (Rom 8:28).

On rough days, this song frequently comes to mind. Through stress and turmoil, my brain returns to to this Poor Old Lu song, and it sings, "Everything is gonna be OK."


The crispiest chips in the west

When I was in high school, I believed the four main food groups were: pizza, potato chips, Taco Bell, and anything that came out of a vending machine. Now, I am a bit older, wiser... and a bit rounder in the mid-section; so I know better.

I still have my vices. I have a much clearer understanding that potato chips belong to the fatty, salty, oily food group. Yet, hand me a bag of Ruffles, and I'll reason that potatoes are (hypothetically) a vegetable and I must get my four helpings of vegetables. That is likely the gluttonous side of me speaking, and is part of the reason for the previously mentioned roundness.

That is why I have a strong appreciation for Tim's Cascade Style chips. Tim's chips are the crunchiest potato chips ever created, except maybe the home made batch I once attempted to make on my own and inadvertently over cooked. Beyond the crispiness, Tim's packs an unearthly amount of flavor into each bite. They are just so irresistibly delicious, I can not think of a better crafted brand of chips. The creative masterminds the make Tim's continually produce imaginative (yet excellent) flavors. Parmesan & Garlic (pictured), Steak & Onion, Alder Smoke Barbecue, and my new favorite: Johnny's Seasoned.

I am not trying to say that other brands are disgusting (unless of course, you find potato chips abhorrent). I still like potato chips, although I do try to avoid them, for some well rounded reasons. Some brands live up to their slogan. Lays are serious when they say "Bet you can't eat just one." I ask them, "Do mean one bag? Because I could eat two." Perhaps you are beginning to understand why I keep mentioning my roundness.

As much as I would like to eat an entire bag of Tim's, I can't; it is not physically possible. There is SO MUCH flavor sandblasted onto each chip, I find myself satisfied after only a handful or two. And for me that is good. If I must have an unhealthy vice, at least it is something that I will not over indulge. So if you ever find yourself invited to a bring your own snack event at my place, bring a bag of Tim's.


That's how accidents happen

Our trip to Koocanusa required multiple vehicles in a caravan. With trucks towing trailers or boats, a moving truck, two busses, and a passenger van – walkie-talkies were essential to keep communication between vehicles. They were especially helpful when we became separated by an SMC (slow moving Canadian).

It also proved to be amusing and almost regrettable during border crossings. Our two-way radios used the same frequency as the Canadian Border Patrol, a fact that we were not aware of until we reached the border. The trip north was not much of a hassle. We got to listen the their funny little accents while awaiting our turn to answer “no” to all of the questions about produce, firearms, and alcohol. There was no need at that time for all of us to communicate, so the crossing went fairly smooth.

The return trip however was not quite as easy. Entertaining, yes – but not easy.

To begin, the line to the border was longer than usual. We were all worried that we would be stuck waiting to cross for at least a couple of hours. That was troubling news for Zach, who had to pee. We told him to jump out of the van and go pee in the bushes. He declined. One of the kids from the bus behind us ran into the woods, peed, and then ran back to the bus. We suggested again that Zack should go relieve himself in the woods, and again Zack declined. He said with his luck, we’d start moving the second his pants were unzipped. Looking at the traffic ahead I knew that even if we did start moving, we wouldn’t go far. But there’s no arguing with a teenager who is having a potty emergency. What made his circumstances especially dire is the only bathroom we could stop at was on the American side of the border.

Time passed and a CBP officer stopped by our van to tell us that we could bypass the line (much of which were semis and motor homes) as soon as oncoming traffic cleared. Once around the jam of commercial and recreational vehicles, we ended up third in line. By this time, Zack was on the verge of wetting himself and was rocking back and forth so violently that the whole van was rocking. He said it was the only way he could focus on something other than his bladder.

Going back to our radio frequency, a little Canadian accented squawk described the reason that the border crossing line was so backed up – the trucks’ license plates were difficult to read. Many of the plates were so dirty or caked with mud that they could not be read at all. One CBP officer complained about her difficulty reading the license plates.

“Oh, this one is so dirty, we’ll need to clean it to get the plate number.” A few seconds of radio silence, and then she continued. “What’s with this yahoo, gettin out of his truck. He’s opening up the back door to his trailer. That’s how accidents happen!”

Up until this time, we had kept off of the radios. All listen, no talk. Yet after that comment, one of the other drivers in our party could not resist his need to be funny.

“That’s how accidents happen!” said the CBP officer.

“I was an accident,” said our driver.

“And who is that?” (sound of crickets chirping)

The CBP officer didn’t sound too happy. We were so worried that a student was going to say something stupid while crossing the border, little did we know that it would be one of the adults that almost got us in trouble.

Zack continued to rock in his passenger seat. Between Zack’s bubble about to burst and the awkward dead air on the radios, the next few minutes waiting to cross the border were quite nerve wracking.


To all aspiring rock stars...

Watch Linkin Park live. I don't care if you like them or if you don't, but if you are in any way involved with performing live music, you need to watch and study how Linkin Park performs live. Charisma, crowd interaction, band dynamics, energy: lessons that every live musician needs to learn.


The elevator will make you JUMP - JUMP

Sorry about the Kris Kross reference. They were HUGE back in the day.

But there is something about elevators that makes you want to jump. Rumor has it, that if you jump just before an elevator descends, you get a weightless feeling. My big brother and I used to jump in elevators all the time, and nothing ever went wrong - except for an occasional tingling sensation in our nether regions(especially one those fast elevators like the one in the Space Needle).

Did you know that if five people jump simultaneously in the elevator connecting the Coeur d'Alene Resort to its parking garage, the elevator will temporarily accelerate causing built in safety mechanisms to jam the lift into place to prevent possible multi-story free fall?

Yeah. I didn't know that either. How was I to know? I've been jumping in elevators all my life and (like I said before) nothing bad ever happened. Tommy, Nate, Steve, Drew, and I jumped in the elevator in Boise's Hoff Building without consequence.

Yet, this last spring, getting stuck in an elevator was just the first step in a night when nothing could go right. Our friend Chase was moving to California the next day, so Bekah and I wanted to treat him out for dessert at the resort. No farewell party is worth anything without friends so, Rachie and AJ came with. We parked on the fourth level of the garage despite seeing plenty of parking available on the first and second levels. Once in the elevator, Chase and jumped a couple of times before someone (I don't remember who) suggested all of us jump at the same time.

Like I mentioned earlier, the resort's elevator did not like that proposal - it ground to a halt partway between the second and third levels. We did the only sane thing available, we used the emergency phone.

A woman with an Indian (possibly Pakistani) accent answered "Hai lowe?"

"Hi, we're stuck in the elevator." Unbeknownst to us, the lady who answered the phone worked in a call center in a foreign land and had no idea where our elevator was located.

"Hoh kae." She said. "Is that in the Kuh... Cure... Coower duh... Cure dee..."

"Core duh Lane." We finished for her.

"Yes, I zee. I will sent some un to halp you."

Shortly there after, Rachie began to mention her need to use the restroom. Chase, AJ, and I (being all guys, and being completely inconsiderate) began imitating the sound of running water. Incidentally, that does not help someone who has too pee. Forty-five minutes later, the repair guy showed up. By then, we all had to pee.

Now, before I go further, I must explain that Chase, Rachie, and AJ are all under 18. Bekah and I were under strict instruction to get the kids home by 10pm - after all, it was a school night. We arrived at the resort shortly before 9pm, and we were sure that an hour was enough time to eat a Gooey and return all three kids to their homes. So, at a quarter to ten, we still had yet to eat a gooey and were finally hearing from a repair person. Two of the three kids phoned home to let their parents know they were going to be late.

The repair guy shouted from above us. He told us it would only be a couple of minutes - all he had to do was reset the elevator and we'd be on our way. Up until this time we had lights inside the elevator. After the elevator got reset, we lost the lights. No movement. Ten minutes later, the repair guy returned and tried to reset the elevator again. It still didn't work. He said he'd need to call the elevator company to have one of their mechanics out to assist us. The elevator company was located in Spokane, it was going to be a while.

Chase called his father, a former police officer and some one that I would not want to ever piss off, who said he'd call the resort to see what could be done to get us out faster.

When Chase's dad called back, he relayed the conversation back to me and it went something like this:

"Thank you for calling the Coeur d'Alene Resort. How may I help you?"
"Yes, I'm calling about a problem with your elevators."
"What seems to be the problem."
"Well, the problem is that my son has been trapped in one of your elevators for over an hour in your hotel and I want to know what is being done to get him and his friends out."
"Well, I'm not sure."
"You're not sure?!? Do you know were the repair person is?"
"Could I please speak with your manager."
"Sir, I am the night manager."
"You're the manager?"
"So, you're telling me that there are five people stuck on one of your elevators. And you, the night manager, have no idea what is going on."
"Answer some questions for me."
"Do they have water? Are they hungry? Do they have to use the bathroom? Are any of them hurt? Do they have lights?"
"Look, you will find your repair personnel. And you will get my son out of that elevator. And I will be down there tomorrow morning to talk to your boss." (click)

Within minutes of that phone call, the lights were restored. The elevator was still stationary, but we had lights.

Finally, at 10:58pm, the elevator lurched, then continued it's decent to the ground floor. Our first destination: the restrooms. We reached Dockside at 11:05pm. Dockside stops serving food at 11:00pm. And the kids were supposed to be home an hour earlier. So, defeated and hungry, we returned to the parking garage.

The repair man was waiting by the elevators. He asked if we jumped in the elevators. We all said no.

"Funny." He said. "Usually the only thing that would make an elevator accelerate into an automatic shut off is people jumping in the elevator."

The next few seconds waiting on the elevator were some of the most awkward few seconds I've ever experienced.

Now, like I said earlier, the elevator was only the beginning of things that went wrong that night. We forgot to get gas before going to the resort, and our gauge was on empty. Bekah was in a hurry to get the kids home, so no time for gas. By the time we reached the intersection of Ramsey and Prairie, our poor car was running on fumes. We stuttered our way into the Holiday gas station and put a few gallons into the vehicle and continued on our way.

Now, I should mention that it was raining and we were driving with one headlight. On a particularly dark patch of road past Albertsons, we heard a loud thump and Bekah slammed on the breaks. We were all wondering what that sound could be when a large black dog limped into the beam of our one good headlight. I opened the door to see if it was injured and the poor thing bolted into the woods, it must be OK. We dropped the first kid off at his house, where we got out to inspect the car. Dang dog cracked our front bumper.

We dropped off the second kid without incident. Then we stopped by Bekah's parents to pick up our son before driving the third kid (who fell asleep in our backseat) home. As we turned back onto Ramsey a pair of headlights rushed up behind us and swerved. Bekah slowed down, paranoid that the driver was drunk. Then some colored lights began flashing on top of that car. Not a drunk, it was a police officer.

"License, registration, and proof of insurance please."
(handed it all over)
"Do you realize that you have a headlight out?"
"Yes, officer."
"What are you all doing out so late?" (still shortly before midnight - not that late)
Boy did Bekah have a story to tell. "Well, first we got stuck in an elevator at the resort for two hours and we didn't get to eat any gooeys which was the only reason we went to the resort then our car almost ran out of gas and we hit a dog. All I'm trying to do is get our students home even though they were supposed to be home almost two hours ago so that I can go home and go to bed." If she had cried she could have gotten an Oscar.

The officer took a look in the back seat and saw the sleeping toddler and teenager. He ran our plates to make sure we weren't "some psycho killer" and then let us go with a fix it ticket.

And to top it all off, when we finally got home, we discovered that the dog pooped in the house.


so gullible

In our new hire orientation, we quiz our classes with a series of questions covering stuff like our attendance policy, dress code, and various other common workplace expectations. Many other the questions are so blatantly obvious I request the agents resist the urge to blurt out answers until I'm done asking all of the questions.

One question describes a hypothetical scenario: Jill took someone else's food out of the fridge in the break room because she forgot to bring hers. What is this an example of?

I told you these questions were easy. Yet, I insist on confusing these new agents. It is the first day of class, they've been in class with me for a few hours, so I have to do something to make sure they're paying attention when I review the answers to this verbal quiz.

I repeat the question: What is it called when Jill takes someone else's lunch?

Twenty-five new agents reply in near unison: Stealing.

I shake my head and reveal the "answer." Vandalism.


I wait a bit to let them think they just got hired to work in an alternate universe. Once I'm sure they are completely bewildered, I say: Just kidding! Then I move on to the next question about whether or not a mini-skirt is appropriate business attire.

Strangely, this works every time.


I don't understand.

How is it that a fully clothed 8 month old baby will inevitably end up with Cheerios inside his diaper?


Flowers from Jennings

While visiting the folks, we took family pictures at Jennings Park in Marysville. The park is home to a duck pond, trails, ball fields, playgrounds, a couple historic buildings, and a botanical garden. I'm no botanist, so I have no idea what these flowers are, but these are all from the garden at Jennings Park.

This last picture was taken at the Ballard Locks, not Jennings park. Beastly looking plant.

If anyone is into plants and know what each of these flowers are, please tell me. I'd like to know.


Any one else see something wrong with this picture?

This little shop is located in Mukelteo as drivers exit the ferry. Are we encouraging drunk driving?


Real Life Conversation

(in elevator)

Girl in Corner: Ewww. (holds papers over face) It stinks in here.

Girl in Other Corner: Yeah, it stinks like cigarette smoke.

Girl in Middle: (pulls out a pack of Marlboros)

Girl in Other Corner: Dirty smokers.

Girl in Middle: Like you're any better.

Girl in Other Corner: I know. Speaking of which, could I bum a smoke off of you?

Girl in Corner: Oooh. Me too.


Free advice

Free advice. If you ever sprain your ankle and happen to be in Seattle, do not spend an afternoon walking around Pikes Place market, Westlake Center, and the Seattle Center. Your ankle will hurt for the next 48 hours.

Fire season is upon us

A couple of days ago, Dave at HBO posted a snippet about a CdA councilman proposing a ban on smoking at Tubbs Hill, a popular downtown park. The whole purpose of the proposed ban is to reduce fire risks.

Now that I can understand. I don't necessarily agree with banning smoking in public parks, but I understand the fire danger that surrounds the Couer d'Alene area. It has been a long, hot, dry summer. Are our parks and neighborhoods around the area at risk of fire? Yes. And I have first hand experience to testify to local fire dangers.
There was quite a bit of excitement around my neighborhood when I came home from work Tuesday afternoon. I didn't quite believe my wife when she told me that there was a forest fire in our back yard, but she spoke truth. There was a fire in our back yard. Well, not our back yard, but the woods behind our house. The small forest on the east side of Ramsey between Canfield and Wilbur was on fire.

We couldn't quite see the flames from our back yard (too many other trees in the way) but we could see where the fire was because of the smoke.
The woods back there were "ripe for this kind of thing" as one of my neighbors described. Several fire personnel responded to our street as well as the Ramsey side of the forest. I could hear chainsaws cutting away trees and brush to gain access to the fire.

Christian was thrilled to see so many of CdA's firemen in the neighborhood. He kept saying "firetuks go WOOOWOOO!" He wanted to see all of the trucks, so Bekah and I took the kids on a short walk down the block and back to see everything.

I counted the emergency vehicles while walking around. No idea how many fire trucks were parked on Ramsey, but there were several within eye shot of my living room window. I counted: 1 ambulance, 1 paramedic truck, 2 fire engines, 1 ladder truck, 1 fire department extended cab pickup, and 2 fire department SUVs. A bit of overkill for that size of fire? Possibly. Really freakin' cool for a kid a month away from his third birthday? Absolutely.


The Emerald City (Pt2)

In this first of four posts exploring all of the Seattle-ish places I want to take my kids, I'm starting in the southwestern corner of the state of Washington working my way North to the east of Seattle. Some of these places are great family get-aways. If you go and anyone asks - just say you got the idea from nic. Many of these locations are a treasured part of my memories. Some of the best times I had while growing up were spent in one of the following destinations.

Long Beach. Situated on the southern end of the peninsula that protects Willapa Bay, Long Beach is the main destination for a week along the southern Washington coast. Miles of beaches and scenery stretches from Cape Disappointment to Leadbetter Point. From lighthouses to wildlife, there is plenty to keep the kids busy, including a boardwalk on the Pacific Ocean and two museums in town (World Kite Museum and the Cranberry Museum). If time allows, the historic city of Astoria is just a short drive away, along the 101.

Ocean Shores. Further north, but not much further, is the town of Ocean Shores. Not only are there several great parks there, but they also have one of the best go-kart tracks in the nation. Much like Long Beach, Ocean Shores is home to great beaches, but it is also apart of Grays Harbor. While in Ocean Shores, we can visit other Grays Harbor towns: the old logging towns of Hoquiam and Aberdeen. History lesson: Aberdeen is were Kurt Cobain was born and raised. I also helped paint and remodel a church next door to the YMCA in Hoquiam; it would be nice to go back and visit sometime.

Mt. Rainier. This mountain is somewhat of an icon in western Washington. I once heard a joke about using Mt Rainier to forecast the weather: if the mountain is visible - it will be sunny, if the mountain is not visible - it will rain. Other Cascade mountains have more significance and attraction in my life, but Rainier is one of the most majestic and recognizable peaks anywhere in the world. It would be a disservice to my kids if I never take them to Mt Rainier. Let them wander the trails around Paradise, hike to the glaciers near Sunrise, and chase any manor of furry woodland creatures from marmots to mountain goats.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Granted, this zoo is far inferior to the zoo in Seattle, and there is a foul aroma that hovers over the city of Tacoma, but I like zoos (even crappy little zoos like the ones in Boise or Sioux Falls). And as an added bonus, the zoo and aquarium are in the same location; you get the best of both worlds. And they have beluga whales. How cool is that?

Tacoma Narrows. Galloping Gurdy is legendary. It was impossible to grow up in the Seattle area without hearing about Galloping Gurdy. The footage showing the bridge's collapse is equally captivating and horrifying. The rebuilt bridge is beautiful; it is a wondrous display of engineering genius.

Wild Waves. Roller coasters, water slides, thrill rides, concerts. It's like Silverwood, but better.

Mount Si. Rising straight up from the valley floor above North Bend, the top of Mount Si holds some of the most stunning panoramic views I've ever seen. And it is only a short drive east of Seattle. The final rise (lovingly nicknamed the"haystack") is a challenging near vertical scramble, but well worth the effort.

Snoqualmie Falls. When I go hiking, I generally prefer to hike up first, then down. Snoqualmie Falls is one of the few exceptions to that rule. The trail begins near the lodge and goes straight down into a canyon carved away by the river. As you hike along the river, you get showered by mist from the falls - perfect for a hot summer day. There is plenty of boulder hopping both in and out of the river to keep any kid (young or old) entertained for a day. Granted, one can enjoy Snoqualmie Falls without the hike; there is a lodge and a phenomenal viewpoint at the top of the falls. But to truly experience Snoqualmie Falls, you have to get wet. And if you're particularly brave, you can hike right up to the base of the falls.

Feel free to take these ideas for your next family trip. Provided you are travelling in that direction.


The Emerald City (Pt1)

I miss Seattle. Having grown up in and around Seattle, that city is very much a part of who I am. I will never want to live there again, but I will always love the city of Seattle. There are events, places, and activities that are so ingrained into my person that I cannot escape to longing to return again and again.

My dad had two common day trips for our family. These were trips we took when friends or family from out of town came to visit. The first trip was driving up to Whidbey Island to see Deception Pass and picnic at Fort Casey, followed by the Clinton/Mukilteo ferry and drive back home. The second trip was taking the monorail from the Seattle Center to Westlake Center to shop, then walk down to the Pike Place Market - often continuing to the waterfront to eat at the Sourdough Bakery. I want my son to take those trips someday. Not only those two excursions, but so much more.

As my kids get older, I want them to experience the same Seattle that I did: the sights, the sounds, the smells. We got to take Kylee and Christian to the Woodland Park Zoo when we were in Seattle in June. And we will be taking the kids to a Mariners game this weekend. But really, Christian is not quite three and Kylee has not yet reached crawling age, they're not going to remember whether Seattle won or Boston won. At their age, I don't think they even care who wins.

So over the next few posts, I will be listing of my favorite places in and around Seattle. The places that I want my kids to experience and enjoy in wide-eyed childlike wonder.

That being said, I'll be in Seattle for the next few days. Hopefully, it doesn't rain. Our trip to the zoo in June was during a downpour. And I hate umbrellas.


It's official

I have sprained my ankle and torn the ligaments. The bruising is horrible, but it looks worse than it feels. It only hurts when I walk. Too bad walking is a part of my job duties. Hmmm.

Well, that's what I get for walking backwards down steps.