Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mechanically Inclined to Learn

I've never really thought of myself as mechanical. If the car starts making an odd sound or doesn't seem to be functioning exactly right I do what most people would do. Pop the hood. Get out and inspect. Think, "I have no idea even what to look for." And then get back in the car. Why do we do that?

Well, a few weeks ago my friend convinced me I was capable of actually fixing my own brakes. Brakes?!? Really, you want to mess with the system that takes you from screaming down the road to a stand still? Crazy thinking I know.

After a couple of consultative visits with my friend and his help demystifying the whole process I turned to the Internet. I started watching every video on brake jobs I could find. I finally got up the courage and bought the parts. Next thing I knew I had the car jacked up (and safely on stands) and had removed the wheels. Now what?

I realized the rotors were worn and that was where the real problem had come from in the first place. So, I got to dig a little deeper, remove the calipers and pull the rotors. I know, it's amazing that I have such in depth technical speak, isn't it?

So, after another trip to the parts store and a set of new rotors I was back on track. Within an hour or so I had everything put back together and to my surprise it's been running pretty well. I can't believe I actually changed the brakes.

Now, when the car makes an odd noise I won't just get out and look under the hood for some unknown noise producing phenomenon. Now I'll be able to pull off the wheels, inspect the pads and rotors and say, "Well, it's not the brakes."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I Guess Ink Gets in One's Blood

There's something about being able to make an interesting introduction for yourself when meeting new people. Perhaps it's part of me that is screaming to be noticed. Remember me, please!

Seriously though, I'm not sure why I do this so often but when people ask me about my childhood or what my dad did for a living in a small Southern Utah town I invariably end up saying something like, "I spent most of my childhood in a dark room." It usually makes people stop and question. They typically are unsure if they want to proceed or turn and simply walk away. I then usually bring up the fact that my father ran the local newspaper and I got to learn about the photographic processes in helping him. Thanks dad for letting me "help" you, it was a great childhood!

I realize that the whole dark room stuff is a rather lame attempt at a joke. But it's that itch to be different, noticed and somehow interesting I suppose. I should probably figure out at way to be okay with my plainess.

Growing up in that darkroom. Producing negatives for the newspaper on a stat camera half the size of a dining room was something my dad taught me at a very young age. The magic of the old photographic processes is something that has been lost in this current world where just a few minutes after snapping a picture with your camera phone you can print photos on your ink jet printer. Where's the magic in that?

Learning the mysteries of the photographic process really were amazing fun for a small boy. I loved being able spend time with my dad as he taught me how the different chemicals would bring images out of photographic films and papers. And watching that image slowly appear as the sheet of acetate or paper glided back and forth sandwiched between layers of watery, smelling chemical bath was amazing!

There is a saying in the print industry is that ink gets into one's blood. Once you have it there you are drawn to the process. It's true, at least to some degree I believe.

A few months ago I started working at Provo Craft. In that job I get to go through the darkroom process with the Web with online marketing (in a sense). But one of the funnest aspects of my job is that I get to market some great creative tools. And one of those happens to be a screen printer--Yudu.

There is something about watching the image appear from negative to positive when you do something like create a t-shirt. I'm hooked. So, a couple of nights ago I did a bunch of shirts for the my kids and their cousins. Lois' family was having a reunion and our annual "Hike to the Y" tradition seemed like the perfect excuse for a custom t-shirt.

To see how excited these kids were to get this simple t-shirt reaffirmed in my mind the idea that we all want to say something unique about ourselves. The T's are simple enough but the fact that they identify us as a group that belongs together and ties us all to something we love is what makes the shirts an exciting proposition. And I was surprised to see how many of the moms and dads wanted one too. I ended up doing another batch a few days later with requests for more yet to be made.

So, thanks dad for getting me hooked. The kids and adults are enjoying the benefits of you having put up with so much complaining as you taught me the fun to be had printing!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Fun at Bear Lake!

We recently spent some time at Bear Lake. If you've not been there yet you should go check it out. Located right on the boarder of Utah and Idaho the brilliant blue waters of this lake are amazing!

The young women from our church had a summer camp at the lake. Since Lois was helping at the camp and I get to work with the young women we all attended for one night. It was so much fun.

We had time at the beach which you can see Eloise enjoyed. We also had a great time hiking through Minetonka cave (that one is all Idaho's).

I think the thing that most amazed me was the amount of time that went into putting together the camp. The adult leaders and the older girls that helped run the camp had clearly caught the vision of what the camp should be--a time to come together and friends to grow together.

As for Larson, my son, he really enjoyed all the attention he was getting from all those older grils. Hey, what guy wouldn't want a bunch of pretty ladies telling him how great he is? Thanks for all the fun. Can't wait until next year!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ginger Fruit!

Christmas cookies in summer? It's so good but oh so bad.

Note: I realize this is another food posting. I really like food. I always enjoy cookies. And these were fun, colorful and delicious.

I often lament the fact that I can't get fruit in season. Watermelon in the winter simply isn't even worth the effort of putting in the cart. Gingerbread cookies are one of those things I don't mind having out of season though. But it's would be ridiculous to actually make gingerbread men and women when it's summertime. Hence, gingerfruit.

I thought these strawberry, pineapple and pear shapes were fun. Everybody loved them too. The gingerbread topped with lemon icing is fun. And if you want to imagine it's Christmas time, just close your eyes and imagine the crunch of the sesame seeds are actually bits of candy buttons.

Perhaps the back story with these cookies is the real insight into my psyche and soul. The reality is these sweet little treats have a bit of a dark side to them.

It started a couple of years ago during the Christmas holiday season. You know, the time of year when neighbors bring over high-calories goodies to ensure you don't drop too many pounds as you sit around the house and do nothing at the end of the year except eat and eat and then go somewhere else and eat. What is it with all the food? Well, I had a taste of a gingerbread cookie that would begin to haunt me. It wasn't so much the cookie that haunted me but the fact that the friend wouldn't share her recipe with me. That's just not cool! But when I can't get my hands on a recipe it simply motivates me to figure it out on my own. So, the kitchen became my laboratory.

For months I tried different recipes. I would pour over the ingredients considering how I thought the final morsels would taste. Nothing was working. Then one day I came across a recipe that was considered an old fashioned style New England cookie. As I read the ingredients I thought it just might work. After about three or four rounds of slight modifications I had about the closest variation I thought possible. Success!

So, what is this all really about. Well, the cookies are good. I'd say they are great but then I'm a freak for cookies so I figure most people would simply say they are good. Perhaps more telling though is the fact that I was so consumed with the need to figure out a recipe I could use. I had to know. I had to be able to make the cookies for myself!

Now that I've figured it out the question I guess the only real question that remains is whether or not I'll be taking my friend a few cookies come Christmas time. If I do, let's hope I can figure out a way to at least mask my freakish need to say, "Look I did it!"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Is that a mouse in the house? I'm seriously a pushover.

A few years ago I received a report from my wife about a statement my oldest daughter (7 or 8 years old at the time) made to a friend while being chauffeured to some activity.

"I'll just ask my dad to do it," my daughter had offered her friend, "I can get him to do anything."

I was determined to be must less accommodating at that point. I've realized however that she must be right. I wish my inability to say no was limited to my relationship with just one of my children. Alas, the fact that I've got a mouse in my house is proof that I am weak, weak, weak! And my weakness may just end up costing me my health.

Seriously, don't these kids realize how many germs rodents can carry? Wasn't it a mouse that brought down the Roman Empire with disease? I'm pretty sure it was a rodent that brought disease and depravity to the new world, wasn't it?

I have to admit that watching the determination of my kids to get the mouse home (they had to write a one-page essay on why they should be allowed and how they would care for the little thing) and their ingenuity when they realized a standard hamster wheel wasn't going to give Lulu the exercise a healthy mouse needs.

Now, let's just hope the little beast doesn't get out unattended. I can't imagine the sadness we'll have when Lulu no longer make the Shasta bottle buzz across the floor.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Projects Keep Work Interesting

While the title of this post certainly isn't interesting it strikes me that there are a couple of reasons we work.

First, money. While we hate to admit that we need to have some money the fact remains that we really can't easily trade the eggs from our chickens for a new pillow, toothpaste or a family vacation. Our world requires that those in it use money from time to time.

Another reason I work is for the satisfaction I get. I recently launched a new Web project and you can see the banner (at least right now) for it here on my blog. We had an aggressive timeline and of course many side projects cropped up along the way that could have derailed this but I'm pleased to say that we launched on time. It's that sense of satisfaction from accomplishing the task before you that I believe is the most powerful, underlying reason that we work. At least it's motivates me.

So, regardless of whether you're working at or away from home, try and find some new challenge and then accomplish!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Peace and Quiet in Kanab?

We love to travel to Kanab! It's always fun to see cousins and Grandma and Grandpa are amazing. They host us so well making us feel welcomed and loved. We were able to visit Southern Utah last weekend and have a mini-vacation )I'm into those since I never feel like I want to be away from work for long--lame--I know).

During our last trip we had a blast! My oldest brother invited us to enjoy playing at a ranch in Stout Canyon north of Glendale. The cabin/ranch is outfitted with a great, rustic lodge, exhilarating zip line, ponds, swings and more. We had a really fun time around the campfire (nothing quite like getting smoked while burning hot dogs and marshmallows :) ). So many funny stories were told and jokes traded.

The thing that stuck with most from our recent trip was just the fun that the kids were having together. They never stopped playing. Every night we were there they practically fell into bed (way too late) and then did it all again the next day.

Kanab is one of my favorite nice quiet spots. It may not always be quiet with the kids running around and having a great time, but being able to slow down the pace of life and reflect makes it feel like a quiet spot.