Tuesday, September 29

Utah's Top Bloggers

Yeah, I know there's a snowball's chance in St. George that the poll at Seo by Swaby's Utah's Top Bloggers will even acknowledge that my blog exists.

But I can dream, can't I?

Ask your friends to come by my blog and then vote for me. If you wish. No pressure.

Or I'll write about you like a local newspaper.

Monday, September 28

Every Day Is A Gift

Saturday, my cousin Kirk and I were having a brilliantly stimulating conversation on the patio at his Mom's house (my Aunt Mary Lou). The topic didn't much matter; this was just two old friends getting together for meaningful conversation. And there was some general bs in there, too, I must admit.

He related an occasion where he'd been at the mall. Just ahead of him was an elderly couple who were having difficulty completing their transaction at a checkout; all they wanted to do at this store was to buy some stamps.

Because of the delay, there was plenty of time to take in what was going on ahead of him.

The woman was in a wheelchair, and was obviously an invalid. The man, apparently her husband, was essentially using her wheelchair as a walker. How these two souls got around was a mystery - God forbid one of them had to drive, let alone how the Missus got out of her wheelchair.

When it came time to pay for their transaction, the time spent for the man to extricate his wallet from his trousers and then the money could have been measured in glacial terms.

All this time, Kirk is beside himself. The day wasn't going along particularly well, and this was adding to the frustration of the day. But this isn't a story about Kirk, rather, it's about the events that were about to unfold.

After paying for his purchase, and having been given the stamps, the woman reached out with her frail hand and snatched the stamps out of his. Returning his wallet to his pocket was equally as painful as getting it out. And after having done so, and turning back round to the teller, at once did not know where the stamps had disappeared to.

The teller had been witness to all of this as well, and reassured the man "Your wife has that under control."

After they turned to walk away - rather, wheel and shuffle - Kirk then made his transaction and had caught up to them before they had left the store.

Directly ahead of the couple was a greeting card rack where, on a card smack dab in the front, was a picture of a scantily-clad girl. The Missus, seeing the intent gaze of her husband, muttered a comment of disgust. Kirk was privy to this outburst - he was now abreast of the couple. The man turned to Kirk, and...

Kirk said he wishes he would have had a camera at that moment. To have captured the greatest smile that has ever been smiled. For the man had an ear-to-ear grin that said volumes about life. About how Kirk felt he had just been kicked in the face, having just been told that all your problems are minuscule.

Because the man had turned to Kirk and smiled that smile, and said:

"Young man, every day is a gift."


Friday, September 25

Absolutely Hilarious Bathroom Mirror Prank


From Break.com

Wednesday, September 23


The time difference is really getting to me.

"Wait, Bob, there's only a one-hour difference between Utah and California. If you're bs-ing about just one hour..."

No, not that time difference.

Poking away on the laptop last evening, I had "Dancing With The Stars" on in the background for noise. Tom Bergeron was droning away, and I figured I'd go to bed after the show was over. Then it suddenly dawned on me: prime-time in California ends at 11:00pm on the West Coast.

As I mentioned previously, I don't do eleven.

Hell, I don't even do ten all that well.

Since DWTS is on three times this week, and all are marathon events, I wasn't going to see sleep for a while. After having a constitutional at that moment of enlightenment, thankfully noticed it was only 9pm.

I was in bed at 9:30.

No, it's not jet lag since I drove, but still.

Get me outta here!

Tuesday, September 22


I'm homesick.

On this trip, Marilee and I have been apart longer than any time in the last five years. I miss her laugh, her smirk, her... everything. And while I could just stop there, I have to add more.

I long for open space. Seeing Huntington Beach along Pacific Coast Highway on Sunday helped a little, but was short-lived, as afterwards I went south a bit more to Newport Beach.

Twenty-some-odd years ago when I lived in Newport, we were virtually across the street from the beach. Late at night you could even hear the waves crashing on the sand. The place where I lived was still there, on the corner of 32nd Street and Balboa Blvd. But the crush of people even then, was stifling. I reminded myself why we'd moved from there - the crowds were just too great. Now all of Orange County is that way.

I've seen more of humanity in the last week than I have in the last year in Utah. While the population of Utah is about two million, that's spread out over 84,899 square miles; the population of Orange County, CA is three million within just 948 square miles.

Driving down Valley View street on the way to the school I'm attending, I have several times hit the Bott's Dots dividing the lanes. Not that I'm drifting all that much - I am driving the Silverado while I'm down here - but there are three lanes on that street that in Utah would have just two lanes.

The freeways are just as bad, but the saving grace is that the drivers are much more forgiving. After all, they're not Utah drivers. You know who you are.

I can handle the cultural diversity, but the population count is just a bit too much. There are just too many people. And I can't wait until I get back home to Utah.

Because the longer I stay here, diverse it's going to get.

The Greatest Human Being?

The greatest human being - who ever lived - has died. And you've probably never heard of him.

Article at The Globe and Mail".

Monday, September 21

What's Wrong With This Plan?


Sunday, September 20

Haute Cuisine

Thus far on my California travels, I've been to Sizzler, Chili's, Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant, the breakfast bar in the hotel-supplied [company name deleted] meeting room, and the [company name deleted] break room for lunch last week.

And McDonald's for breakfast just now.

Yesterday afternoon, Marilee called and asked where I was. "On the way to McDonald's."


"OK, OK, I'll go somewhere else."

So I went to Mrs. Knott's. Not really haute cuisine, but definitely not your standard Utah fare. KFC just doesn't cut it in that department.

Even my instructor chastised me when he asked, after the first day, where we had all gone for dinner the previous evening.

"Sizzler" said I.

"You can go to Sizzler in Utah!"

Maybe, but we really don't go out. Much. Sure, at least one day per weekend we do McDonald's breakfast - funny, no mention is ever made of artery-clogging - but cuisine isn't a topic that comes up.

Besides, I've already begun to get a bit homesick, if only because I'm tiring of going out to dinner. I wouldn't mind some home cooking. Marilee: "We had spaghetti last night." Mmmm. Spaghetti.

You can have your cuisine, haute or otherwise.

Because what I need is comfort food.

Saturday, September 19

Maybe It's The Altitude

...or lack thereof.

So this last week I've been getting up at my usual time - for Utah. Yup. Well, at least if it were Utah. My circadean clock is right on time, as I've been getting up at five AM. Unfortunately, that's FOUR AM in California. Also unfortunately, I've been going to bed at 10pm. Which, if you're getting the gist of this, is ELEVEN in Utah.

I don't do ELEVEN.

And if all the math is taken into account, that makes for SIX hours of sleep. No wonder I've been having droopy eyelid syndrome. Six hours isn't enough for this 52-year-old man. Nobody likes it when Bob is sleep-deprived.

So on this first day of quiet - i.e., not a classmate to be seen - I decided to go sight-seeing shopping.

Went to Fry's today - WHY AREN'T THERE FRY'S STORES IN UTAH?! Picked up a USB hub for all the USB crap I brought with me. And considering I just got an external 500G USB drive - more on that later - that hub is getting a bit of extra use.

And called my sister whom I've not seen - or talked to - in a dozen or so years. Likely more on that later, too.

So I get back to the hotel around 4pm. There's nothing much on TV, and decide to take a nap.


♫ A three-hour-nap. A three-hour-nap. ♫

So if it's not the altitude, maybe it's the attitude.

Thursday, September 17

Quantifying Customer Service

I like to think that I provide exceptional customer service. I've been doing that for thirty some-odd-years. Some things were learned by doing; if one approach didn't produce a good outcome, I'd use some other process the next time. And perfected - at least in my little world - my craft of treating each customer they way they expected to be treated.

But did I ever really think about the way I did it? Hardly. It just all turned out that way. But I never really thought about it; it was just something I was good at.

So this week in school, we've been doing coursework titled "Through the Customer's Eyes". It a seminar of sorts produced by the Rockhurst University Continuing Education Center. The focus is exactly what I've been doing for three decades. So one might think this should be a breeze. On the contrary, it's been difficult for me, if only because I've never had to be tested on the course matter.

When I complete the testing, I'll be certified to do what I've always had a knack for.

Making customers happy.

Los Angeles & San Francisco

That would be the Dodgers vs. the Giants.

Every year, my family would spend part of our summer vacation in Pismo Beach, CA. Oh, the clam chowder. And the slot car track around the corner from the SeaWall motel.

OK, so there wasn't really much else to do in Pismo Beach, other than swimming in the oh so cold Pacific Ocean. The salt water smell was overpowering. Memories only suggest it was always cold and humid. Imagine.

But those were my memories, of my activities. But one thing I'll never forget is watching my Dad watching the Dodgers play the Giants.

In Dodger Stadium.

Again, this was before all sports all the time on ESPN. And blackouts. So summer vacation in Pismo Beach was always scheduled around when the Giants were in Los Angeles. And due to the location of the motel, the TV signal was from the bay area.

Every year we did that, even after my Mom died. It got to be that I'd even know when we were going.

That last time we both went together in about 1972, I'd just gotten my own fishing pole, and even caught a fish all by myself. Somewhere there's a picture of me with my prize catch, a three-inch-long red snapper I should have thrown back, but didn't know any better.

Getting back to the motel, there was my Dad.

Watching the Dodger game.

Wednesday, September 16

More Dodger Memories

That Vin Scully always was who we listened to in those wondrous days of yore was one thing, but we hardly ever listened to Jerry Doggett1. Why? Vin Scully just had that special talent for knowing when to provide play by play, and when to just let the picture describe the action.

Even on the radio.

When the Dodgers were on TV - remember, this was in the days before 24-hour sports channels - we'd listen to Vinnie for the first three innings on the TV. Then the sound was turned down for innings 4 through 6, and the last three on TV again.

Of course, there were times when we'd be away from home - the game just seemed to take on an extra intensity when the voice of the Dodgers was on the radio.

1I was just a kid back then, and was always wanting to be like my Dad - so if I've offended anyone about my references to Jerry Doggett, I apologize.

Dulcet Dodger Dialog

Tuesday evening television. Watching KCAL Channel 9. The Dodgers were playing the Pirates.

Suddenly, without warning, memories of childhood popped into my head. Of traveling to Elysian Park to see the Dodgers. Mornings of getting ready to go, searching for my mitt. Can't go to a Dodger game without it. "Just once, I want to catch a line drive into the first base bleachers." Afternoons of driving the seemingly short distance to Chavez Ravine. Distance and time have no meaning when you're a kid. You're going to a Dodger game!

One such afternoon, my Dad, THE Dodger fan of the family, remarks as we park the car that it sounds like the announcer on the PA system is the one on the radio. This is the 60's, and everyone has a transistor radio. And everyone is listening to KFI. So loud is the roar from all those tinny speakers that it even drowns out the real PA announcer.

We also had brought our portable radio, and it, too, was tuned to the game. Sure, we were there to see the Dodgers, but also to listen to the game. Because the only way to experience a Dodger game was in this fashion.

So as those memories were flooding into my consciousness, something seemed strangely familiar. There, emanating from the big-screen TV, some thirty years since I'd last heard it, there it was.

Vin Scully, now in his eighties, is still announcing Dodger games.

I don't know what happened in the game - all I did for the remainder of the time was to just listen.

Listen to the dulcet tones of Vin Scully

Tuesday, September 15

Tap Tap Tap - Is This Thing On?

So he goes to California, leaving the masses to fend for themselves. And doesn't post anything new for three days.

And in my absence, who is going to lambast the local newspaper? Guess you'll have to read it yourself - just think "What would Bob interpret this as" while doing so. It's easy.

I made it safely to California early last evening, pulling in to the hotel's parking lot at 7pm. Long drive. Hadn't done that in a good number of years. But considering I drove 900-plus miles last week - plus a drive for Marilee and I Sunday afternoon to Mirror Lake - I was ready for it.

If not a bit tired.

Today begins a new chapter, learning about products I'd really rather not know about, but I like my job.

Let me rephrase that.

I like being employed.

Saturday, September 12

Don't Drag Bigotry Into The Discussion

From an article in today's Deseret News:

"Deseret News editor Joe Cannon's decision to speak during a conservative program focused on "the importance of marriage" has drawn criticism from some and questions from others, but Cannon insists the engagement does not cross any ethical boundaries."

Also from the article:

"Glen Feighery, an assistant professor who teaches media ethics at the University of Utah, said Cannon's involvement in the event could plant seeds of doubt about the newspaper impartiality.

"It comes down to expectations," Feighery said. "It might send confusing messages if he appears at an institute that has a political point of view. Maybe people would wonder if he's there to talk about journalism or is he there to ... rally support for those views."

The article prompted several online comments; one such stands out, from a user calling himself "uncannygunman":

"I'm just like Joe Cannon, I'll speak to anyone, anytime. But if I speak the the Ku Klux Klan, my speech is largely going to be a condemnation of everything the Klan stands for. Similarly, if I were to speak to a convention of anti-gay activists, I would be reminding them of the error of their ways."

I commented on that comment; since the comments section of the Deseret News is moderated, I'm guessing my comment will be summarily deleted. But still, these are my words:

"So, uncannygunman, with a user name like that, I guess one can surmise what you'd say at a gun control rally. Or basically anything that affects everyone. At issue is what Joe Cannon says about his - and by association, the Deseret News - homophobia. Don't drag bigotry into the discussion, though I'm sure that topic has been covered ad nauseum in the Deseret News. And by association, by Joe Cannon."

Open the floodgates.

California Bound

In my book, any time spent away from work is a vacation. Treating weekends as mini vacations, for example, make those two days out of every seven that much more appreciated.

So, while the next 2 ½ weeks will be spent away from my normal grind in Utah, I will be "on the clock" - only I'll be in California.

Work is sending me to school.

But to call it a vacation?

Hey, it's California!

Friday, September 11

The View From Above

True story:

I'd gone to California a few years ago for my Uncle Gene's memorial service. Flew down to San Diego; my cousin knew I was coming, but we hadn't told anyone else, including my Aunt Mary Lou. So it was a major surprise when Cousin Erin drove my Aunt to the airport and there I was coming down the hall.


I had a layover in Phoenix on the way back to Utah; after getting into the air, the flight was virtually "as the crow flies" - due north. Never even felt the plane bank, and didn't even have to circle Salt Lake International. Smoothest flight I'd ever been on.

As I always fly with a window seat, there's always a chance I'd get crowded out by a seat mate, and I did on that flight.

By two friars. Really.

So as we flew along, the younger of the two Franciscan types asked what the rock formations were, down below. We'd been flying for a while by then, and as I looked down, I said "Oh, that's Bryce Canyon."

At least it looked like Bryce Canyon.

A while later, there again were formations of the red variety, and again the question was asked what it was. As I looked down, I said "Oh. I guess the ones we saw before were in Sedona, Arizona. That's Bryce Canyon."

He didn't ask again about the geography so far below.

So what prompted all that? Heather Armstrong has, in a post today, a photo from aboard an airplane and the immortal words "...At least, I think this is Lake Mead."

Turns out I'm not the only one geographically-challenged. At least from above.

Thursday, September 10

Oh Nine Oh Nine Oh Nine

Whether you believe it or not, the world should have ended yesterday. Since you're reading this, the world did not end.


The doom-mongers were all over this - this article from beyond the pond is one such - that on the 9th day of the 9th month in the 9th year, the world would end.

I suppose that if you're into numerology, you could also flip 999 on its head and get 666, but that's probably a stretch.

Besides, if the 9th-9th-9th rule were true, the world should also have ended on September 9, 1909.

Guess not.

Wednesday, September 9

Tuesday, September 8

Best. Cat. Video. Ever.

Big box and Maru:

Monday, September 7

Why Is Everyone Pissed About This Message?

Would anyone have had a problem with:

"You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it."

...if John Kennedy had said it?

...if Lyndon Johnson had said it?

...if Richard Nixon had said it?

...if Gerald Ford had said it?

...if Jimmy Carter had said it?

All were presidents during my school years. I don't recall ever hearing a "stay in school" speech. Then again, there's thirty-some-odd years between then and now. And the world is a lot different than it was back then. There are likely more school dropouts now than there ever were during those decades.

That Barack Obama KNOWS the word HAS TO get out to today's children is paramount.

That some people think he shouldn't be saying ANYTHING is just plain ridiculous.

Call it what you will, but there's no justification for ANYONE to be upset about this.

From Armor Games

Another addictive game that you'll play this and tell all your friends, as I did just now:

This Is The Only Level


A Day Without Cats?


But true - even the likes of NPR and the Wall Street Journal are on the bandwagon!

At least it's only for one day...

Sunday, September 6

Stalk Exchange

So far, my stalk portfolio includes the Deseret News, the LDS Church, and HSN.

At least, those are the ones I know about.

After a few snarky comments about the way a certain local newspaper chooses to portray current events, my visitor tracker did indeed show that someone from that newspaper visited my blog. Several times. And the next day, a visitor from the LDS Church cemented my fate: an in-person visitor at my door the following Saturday. The ultimate result will probably be eternal damnation.

That I also commented on a ghastly ring a certain cable shopping channel was selling, sure enough, a visitor or two showed up from their site as well.

Rest assured there's plenty of love to go around.

Corporate folks are always interested in seeing what the public is saying about them. As an example, studies show that companies who use comment cards "...produce distorted information that reflects extreme responses rather than the experiences of most guests. One study found that comment cards produce results that misrepresent guest satisfaction up to 60 percent!" That report regards hotel clientele, but can be applied to just about any market where a company deals with the public.

So, too, are comments sections on websites - not everyone is going to leave a comment on a company's website, positive or negative. And while you can always call a company to voice your complaints, there's always the chance that whoever you talk to can actually do something about your problem.

Consider this exchange from dooce's Heather Armstrong during a much-ballyhooed exchange last week (from slate.com):

"Finally, during one of her many long conversations with customer service, she floated the nuclear option: "And here's where I say, do you know what Twitter is?" she wrote. "Because I have over a million followers on Twitter. If I say something about my terrible experience on Twitter do you think someone will help me?" The customer-service agent assured her that it wouldn't help; Armstrong tweeted anyway—"DO NOT EVER BUY A MAYTAG"—and by the next day, a Maytag executive was overnighting the parts she needed to get her washer fixed."

Yes, dear reader, corporate America is listening to what we're all saying. That I have just 47 followers on Twitter, and only a few hearty souls who read my blog (though my readership did rise by 500% after my snarky Deseret News comments, if only for a short time) and Heather Armstrong has a 1,000,000-plus followers, THEY are all listening, too.

May your stalks rise, too, fellow bloggers, twits, and tweeps. EVERYONE'S listening.

Article By Enness Sherlock

According to a Deseret News study of Internal Revenue tax data, Utahns "...give far more of their income to charity than any other Americans."

The article, in this morning's Deseret News, states "...Utahns reported providing $2.9 billion to charity in 2006, or 5 percent of their adjusted gross income."

Only five percent? Where's the OTHER five percent? Who's holding back?

Also, according to the article, "...while the LDS Church declined comment for this story, scholarly studies have long surmised that Utah's unusually high charitable giving is because of its high number of Mormons who live here."

Really? Who woulda thunk?

Note: Enness Sherlock is a pseudonym for No Sh!t Sherlock.

Saturday, September 5

You Read It Here First

"Blogs are for twits who start thinking at 141 characters." - bobsbs

Wednesday, September 2


Snaggletooth just came over to the house.

Over to mow the lawn, he just announced he was going to correct the error he made long ago by not wearing his retainer, and go through the whole ordeal of aligning his teeth again.

Times have changed, though, since even I had braces - painful was all I remember.

Now, though, Snaggletooth will have "Invisalign" invisible braces.

After all is said and done, Snaggletooth will again be just Chris.

Appearances Are Everything

Matilee had a sleep study done last night at the request of her pulmonologist. She's had sleep problems in the past, and while she sleeps OK with a 4 ½ year old C-PAP machine, the doctor thinks that with newer advances that more can be done.

The study is done at a relatively quiet building that doubles as an assisted-living facility in a residential area of Salt Lake City. So it comes as no surprise that one might see someone on the grounds that doesn't necessarily have sleeping problems.

Or, as we saw when pulling into a parking space last night, awake problems.

There, in the middle of the parking lot, a woman was in a wheelchair. Her head was down, and not moving. We both looked at each other and wondered if this was what it appeared to be. But what, exactly?

A moment or two passed, and still nothing. Were we next going to barge into the facility and alert an orderly? Or rush to her aid? Or call 9-1-1 ourselves? Or...

And then she casually reached out and turned a page in the book she was reading.

Raucous laughter emanated from our car as we collected Marilee's belongings and walked - perhaps a bit wiser - into the building.

Not everything is as it appears.

Tuesday, September 1

Fifty-Fifty Chances

Yes or No?

Right or Left?

This or That?

In just about every situation where you have a choice to make, it'll be the correct one.

Or not.

(Don't confuse the facts if there are more than two variables. My head will asplode.)


Emergency! Computer down! Everyone drop what they're doing! The PC will not communicate! It's acting like the cables are backw...

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Reported as a power failure that did not restore, this particular PC would not boot. Customer even tried rebooting it himself. Still no go.

A friggin' sixty-two mile trip.

SOMEONE, while installing a new bit o' hardware in the same rack as the one I was to work on, did not lable the cables as to what goes where. Since there's a fifty-fifty chance of getting it right, you can guess the outcome.

It was the OTHER fifty percent.

THIS Should Be An Olympic Sport

While Marilee has been healing after her surgery, she's been far less mobile than normal. Yesterday, she was feeling up to a walk around the block; I, too, after my recent ear ache and subsequent cold, felt up to it as well. That at first we couldn't find her shoes - they were still in the "Patient Belongings" bag from the hospital - was indicative that she hadn't been ambulatory if at all, other than a few laps around the back yard.

Getting her up to do that seemingly trivial task is NOTHING.

She has a doctor's appointment today at eight-ish and Chris is coming by to pick her up and drop her off, later to pick her up once again for the ride home.

Since she hasn't been to work suggests she hasn't been "on the clock" - time has no meaning when you don't have to "punch" one. And while I was spry enough to rise once the alarm clock went off, she was reluctant to do so. Several times over.

Finally, I said I was going to get a pan and bang it over her head. A groggy "mm-hmm" was all I heard and was sprinting for the kitchen.

Metal pan and spoon in hand, upon entering the bedroom, she instinctively stuck her finger in her ear and awaited the...


A smile was all I got.

She did eventually get up; she's in the kitchen now making a bowl of cereal.

Me? I'm exhausted and would rather go back to bed.
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