Thursday, July 26, 2012

Off Again!

I have felt a bit odd recently. I've had the opportunity to take paid vacation. That is something I haven't had before this position. With that being said, I've applied for another one.

The university I graduated from is looking for a technical writer to work for the Office of Information Technology. There are many things about the position that interest me, including project work, creating instructional videos, offering staff training, and blogging. WHOO HOO!

I always have mixed feelings about leaving a position. On the one hand, I tend to grow attached to the people I spend time with at work. After all, I spend about 8 hours a day with these people. I come to know their lives, struggles, and idiosyncrasies. I can even tell you what some of them are thinking when an idea is presented, or how they might react.

In the same vein, I also love myself a new beginning. A new beginning means a new adventure. New adventure means learning and stretching. Learning and stretching means getting to know myself better. It is a bittersweet experience to leave others behind, but know that I get to have a whole new adventure.

This new position closes tomorrow. I've submitted my resume, cover letter, and professional references. I've received an email stating that my resume was received successfully. It is out of my hands.

And to celebrate, I am heading out for another adventure with Wifey's family. Munchkin is excited, and keeps telling us that we are going to see the big, big, big zoo like we did on our last adventure. If you try to explain that we are going on a different adventure, she still brings up the big, big, big zoo. Maybe I'll break it to her when she turns three that not every adventure involves the Portland Zoo.

This will be a nice distraction from the doldrums of my current position. There are parts of it that I enjoy, but there are also parts of it that I loathe. I feel constricted. I am implicitly trusted by some, and seen as an insolent meddler by others. Depending on who I am working with, I either have all the freedom I want, or absolutely none. The common denominator is me, so I'm just as confused as you are.

It will be nice to get away from it all, to try to avoid thinking of everything that makes me glad for sluggish rush hour traffic during my commute home to decompress. The trip will be fast and furious (down to Bear Lake tomorrow, then to Logan during the morning on Saturday, and back home Saturday night), but it will be a welcome relief.

Hopefully more relief will be on the way with a new job.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Personal Family Reunion

You may think that family reunions are these big, elaborately orchestrated events. This is especially true as families grow into their own families and start to spread. While this may be true, I have decided to try a new version of the family reunion this year that I like to call the personal family reunion.

In my family, there are five kids. We all now live in different states throughout the West (Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho). Because we are so spread out, getting everyone and their families together generally occurs every two years or so, and these events are always great fun.

This year we couldn't all get together, but since my Nephew got married this past weekend, I was able to go visit his mother. While I was there, my other sister flew in and I got to see her. We returned to Idaho, and one of my brothers happened to be up visiting his in-laws. He left today, and my other brother came up to visit my parents to drop their oldest daughter off for college on the other side of the state.

As you can see, I've not been able to get everyone together, but I was able to see all my brothers and sisters within a week (assuming that I can see my brother tomorrow or Friday). This makes the family reunion personal, as none of my other siblings can claim this feat this year. I wish that the stars had aligned a bit better, but I am just happy that I get to see everyone. It can sometimes seem that the distance makes barriers thicker. In today's world of technology, I don't think that it is true, but there is something refreshingly invigorating for a relationship to be able to share a comfortable couch.

 In the mean time, I will just have to get plotting to see my last brother so I can make this personal family reunion come to fruition. Wish me luck (although I don't think I'll need that much).

Monday, July 16, 2012


While we were on our recent trip to Portland, we stopped in some random town to get some fuel, both for the car and for ourselves. Knowing that our check-in time for the hotel was not until 4:00 pm, we decided to kill some time in the local Dairy Queen.

When I say the local Dairy Queen, don't be fooled. This was a deluxe Dairy Queen, complete with newish furniture, free Wi-Fi, and an indoor play place.

Both Munchkin and Munchkenna were excited to go explore the play area after smarting down a grilled cheese sandwich. There was another occupant already climbing up and down the play padded path—a cute toe-headed boy with a shaggy haircut. His mom sat texting/checking Facebook at a nearby table, not paying him much attention.

I felt sorry for the little tyke. Mom didn't seem interested in the kid, and he clearly wanted some interaction. He started playing with our little girls and tried to keep up with Munchkin, who ended up being about 6 months older than him. He started to follow me around, indicating with mostly points, grunts, and smiles (and a few words) that he wanted to show me something or follow Munchkin.

After following us down the slide meant only for children (as in I had a really hard time getting out of the tube at the bottom because the height was equal to the length of my torso. If I could have lopped off my head, it would have been cake to get out of this slide), he said something that made my heart sink a bit: daddy.

His mom flashed a nervous smile at us, half-hoping we didn't notice. He repeated himself, and cheesed at me as only a two-year-old can cheese. He continued to follow us around, and we included him in our play.

Mom felt a bit awkward, as she didn't have a wedding ring on, and she seemed quite young. I got the impression that a young man had fooled her into thinking that he loved her and ran away when he found out she was pregnant. After about two more minutes, Mom grabbed the kid's shoes, fastened the Velcro, and headed out to the park where she would probably begin using her data plan on her phone instead of the free Wi-Fi.

I felt sorry that this little man was going to miss out on having a dad around. He seemed well adjusted, but knowing how much Munchkin and Munchkenna pine for me at times, I can only imagine how frustrating it might be to have that missing from your life, but not understanding enough to verbalize that frustration. He probably doesn't even know what he is missing out on.

I hope this little guy finds a daddy, and that his mom can find someone who cares enough about her to stick around, even when the going gets tough. Without some of the hard stuff, you don't get to know the great stuff.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It's So Wonderful!

We are on a trip with my parents to go to my oldest nephew's wedding. Yes, I'm old enough to have a nephew getting married. We ended up staying at a fine establishment in Pendleton called the Rodeway Inn.

We rolled into town with two small girls who were eager to escape their car seats, and when we asked about a continental breakfast, we we're all eager to accept this spot as our home away from home for the evening.

We got our room keys quickly, since Munchkin was doing the potty dance after drinking approximately 16 ounces of water in the past two hours. We ran to the room, only to find our key didn't work. I ran back, got a new key, and got in the door after a few attempts. Munchkin made it.

After her bladder wasn't yelling at her anymore, she pronounced her verdict on the room: "It's wonderful!" the cheery yellow walls seemed recently painted, and the room seemed clean enough. The beds were quite firm, but I could cope. Munchkin proceeded to climb up on the beds and jump emphatically. Munchkenna squealed with delight and crawled like the ball in a pinball game—bouncing off everything while babbling and giggling. The experience was probably quite similar to what would happen should she go insane.

We closed the door to start getting jammies on, and Wifey noticed an earwig crawling on the door. If it was taking refuge in room 121, it had picked the wrong place. Or it underestimated the power behind Wifey's shoe.

By the time we got Munchkin's Cinderella nightgown on, Munchkenna was practically begging for a bed to call her own. Munchkin, on the other hand, had a strange gleam in her eye which was probably caused mainly by exhaustion. Knowing this dynamic would not work well for either of the girls, Munchkin went for a walk with Grandma, Grandpa, and myself.

Before walking out the door, I checked the locks, only to find that they had the latest technology in deadbolts. Is one was so advanced that it didn't even need any materials on the inside of the door to stop the deadbolt in the door jamb. Content with knowing I could get back in the room without too much trouble, we took off for our walk.

We started our walk by running down the outdoor carpet that lined the walkway to Grandma's and Grandpa's room. We needed to get as much energy drained from this little girl as possible, and Pendleton seemed quite sleepy at 8:30, so I let Munchkin run. She greeted my parents with a hug as if she hadn't just been in the car with them for the past four hours, and we started on our merry way.

Munchkin held my hand as we walked out and about for a few blocks. My parents groaned a bit when stepping off the curb, voicing the disgruntlement of their beleaguered joints. Munchkin was oblivious to their cries, and continued to want to run with a fervor and zeal akin to Hussain Bolt. My parents laughed as Munchkin and I ran to various points on the sidewalk, only to turn back and race back past them as they slowly coerced their joints to comply. I overheard my mother say something to the effect of, "Isn't it a good thing we have kids when we are young?"

We walked by a Circle K, where I declined Dad's offer to get Munchkin an ice cream cone. She didn't need any help energizing her small body this late in the evening.

Next, we spotted a clock tower that didn't seem to be working. My parents sat on a bench as Minchkin and I did variations on a lap around the pillars and searched for letters in the bricks. The mechanism of the clock didn't appear to be working, as the bell didn't chime (nor any of the parts move) as the hour reached 9:00.

By this time, Munchkin was mainly wanting to walk with only an occasional (read every two minutes instead of every two seconds) request of "Let's run, Daddy!" We cut across to a nearby neighborhood with some old looking homes. We were met by a house built in 1899 that was converted into a law firm. After meandering a few more blocks and realizing that darkness would soon overtake us, we started to head back past the empty general store and returned to our inn.

Munchkin was no longer acting like she had downed three Red Bulls in seven minutes, my parents weren't groaning nearly as much anymore, and we got to see some interesting architecture from two centuries ago. I would call that a successful walk.

By this time, my bladder was calling to me. As I entered the bathroom, I realized another classy amenity of this place—the shower curtain was neatly held back by a six foot, doubled-over strand of two ply toilet paper. I decided to remedy that situation in the morning when I took my shower, so I went to bed.

Munchkin fought sleep in her delirium, but we ended up winning and she slept. I was almost asleep when I heard a crinkling. Wifey decided that she needed a snack, so she broke in to the Wheat Thins. Never before has a plastic bag seemed so loud to me. Until the cheese stick opening incident about a half an hour after that.

I woke up and got ready to hop into the shower, only to have Wifey squeal and point to my pillow. An earwig must have bedded down with me for the evening, because it was cuddled up right where my neck was. I can't be certain that it was coming to visit his cousin who had moved into this spacious neighborhood, but I suspect that he didn't come to pierce my ear in the night. Nor did I request an ear piercing.

Needless to say, we were greatful to have a place to stay for the night, but we were more greatful to have a quick continental breakfast and leave after everything was packed up.By the way, I have good news. We didn't find any new earwigs in our stuff tonight when we unpacked. I consider myself lucky, and Wifey is much happier with our current accommodations.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I Should Probably Be Sleeping...

I've not quite figured out why yet, but I find that I'm a sleep rebel. When I know I should be climbing into my bed, I instead find something else to do. Recently, that something has been reading, but it has also been YouTube videos, or blogs, or Adobe tutorials.

Wifey has finished watching her five minutes of Gilmore Girls (she doesn't last any longer than that even though the DVD plays on), Munchkin and Munchkenna have both been slumbering peacefully for hours, and the house is still. Darkness has overtaken this corner of the world, but occasionally the moon rebels and parades itself through a window onto a new portion of the wall or floor. Occasional sirens or motorcycle engines (or, more recently, the fireworks) remind me that civilization is still around. Rarely, various dogs enrage their owners by breaking the silence coming from the nearby open window. The world is still out there while I sit in the cocoon of my house.

The escapist in me finds solace in the young adult fiction novels that often formulaicly guide me through an adventure. I find myself drawn to those I'll never meet, even those who will never exist, unless it is within the confines of my skull. I dream of them sometimes, and find ways to help them, or just talk with them. Sometimes they help me out, but not in my dreams. Their written stories are generally enough for me.

I think the thing I dread most about going to sleep is knowing that the new day is coming. I know there will be another adversarial day at work coming in the morning. I know there will be more teething. I know there will be busy commutes. But I also know that there will be amazing sunrises, and that moment when I come home from work to see Munchkenna's eyes open wide while her wrists and ankles pivot while grunting for me to pick her up. I can never get there fast enough for her.

I think things seem to be moving quickly at the moment, and I'm struggling to keep up. Munchkin asks me grown-up questions like, "How was your day, Daddy?" She carries on conversations on just about anything. Munchkenna is walking and has reverted to only saying a couple variations of the same word (dada or dad with a very emphatic terminal d). It seems life is moving like a bullet train and my eyes cannot focus enough on the passing scenery to make sense of all of it.

So I continue to hold on to the night, hoping that, through the futile act of staying awake, time will slow down a bit. Maybe I can make sense enough to help out some of the people I glimpse as a blur as they pass me.

I'm making an effort at work to go out of my way to say hi to people (Don't freak out, Wifey). I have come to realize that when I work with some people, they come in, tell me what they want in as few words as possible, and quickly leave, acting as if they don't have time for anything else. I think part of this is because they don't understand that I am trying to help them. They see me as an enemy. I don't feel any enmity toward them, but I don't agree with the way I am treated.

So, to catch them off guard, and hopefully catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, I am making it a point to greet them when they come to see me. So far, it seems to annoy them more than anything, but I think it would be good if more than just me took the time to look at the scenery instead of just let it blur by until another week, then another month, then another year has completed and we all sit there and think where did my year go? Didn't we just have the 4th of July?

So now I'll go stew on this some more while fighting off the urge to sleep (if my sunburn will let me). Maybe my attempts are working, but I'm just not seeing the train slow down yet because my eyes can't detect the change, as it is too minor to notice at this point. If it does work, I'll let you know.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

An Ill Father's Day Omen

We didn't have anything planned this evening, and we knew that the city of Meridian, Idaho was planning on having the annual Dairy Days festival they do every year. There was a parade yesterday, various events showing off dairy animals (although, gratefully, I don't believe they have a dairy cat competition yet), and a small carnival with a couple of fun houses and carnival rides. Nothing too bit, but for Munchkin, we knew it would be a great time.

We drove over to Storey Park, right next to the speedway, where the carnival was all set up. The strange thing was, there were no lights on, and a very minimal throng loitering about. By very minimal, I mean that I am pretty sure I saw one adult and two children who were not working there walk through the carnival. Wondering if there was some strange set of rules regarding what hours the carnival could be open this year, we consulted the Internet.

And we found that the carnival was cancelled because they failed an electricity check.

Munchkin was slightly devastated that she would not be able to ride the merry-go-round that we had told her about. She loves the one at the zoo, but it is small, as merry-go-rounds go.

So, on to plan b—go and check out the animals in the Speedway. As we were walking there, we noticed another severe lack of a throng, so we consulted the trusty Internet again. This time, we found that the animals had all left by 3:00 in the afternoon today.

Once again, Munchkin's hopes were dashed to pieces. She really wanted to see the animals.

On the brink of tears, she conceded to go play on the slides at the park. And that was fun, as it was a park we don't frequent. The evening was slightly saved. And we were still planning on grabbing a sno cone later in the evening.

But before we claimed the snow cones, we decided to make a few stops, as the night was still young, and the outdoors were warm enough to make my children's Swedish heritage shine through their ruddy cheeks. Wifey can run for five minutes and have fiery red cheeks. Munchkin and Munchkenna follow suit.

Stop number one was at a used clothing store for kids. Munchkenna is growing out of anything and everything we have for her (as in she is wearing Munchkin's clothes from five months ago), so some new leggings were in order. Munchkin loves the fact that there is generally a Disney flick playing near a bunch of toys there, so she was eager to go.

She had a full-blown meltdown when she was not able to close a door that another child was opening. I escorted her from the store and stopped the tears and screaming. The night went back down a notch.

Our last stop before sno cones was a book store chain. We just went to browse, and as Wifey was showing me a book in the kid's section, Munchkin and Munchkenna meandered over to a rack of stuffed toys ten feet away. A creepy guy was looking directly at Munchkin and Munchkenna, and popped his head around the corner. He might have just been a concerned person seeing if the children's parents were around, but I got the heebie-jeebies, so I stuck in the kids books for the whole night. This man left shortly after I saw him, so I would like to think my instincts were right.

Night goes down another notch.

We put everything away that Munchkenna pulled from the shelves (her new favorite game, by the way), and left to claim our sno cones. We ordered three kiddie sizes, as this place puts them in a ten ounce cup, then heaps a snowball at least five inches around on top. I don't know how anyone would want to order more than a kiddie from this place, but they do.

The sno cones were quite tasty, and we figured that we would have a relatively good end to our evening, despite all the set backs and potential stained clothing from the messy Munchkin, and then our luck struck anew. Munchkenna was sitting peacefully in a chair that decided to tip over. She face planted into the grass, which was made exponentially worse by how tired she was. Large tears streamed down her face.

The one saving grace of tonight was the fact that Munchkin needed to go potty while we were eating sno cones. Missy had already brought her to the bathroom once before while we were at one of our stops, so it was my turn. We had to run across the parking lot to the nearby gas station to get to the nearest bathroom, so Munchkin was holding my hand as we ran. She started giggling up a storm, and looked up at me with a look of pure delight. Her eyes sparkled, her cheeks were no longer flush, but the grin on her face was possibly bigger than a smirk you would see on a billboard.

I never knew you could have so much fun on your way to use the restroom. Maybe that is why many girls choose to go in herds. But needless to say, no matter if our luck stays the same tomorrow, I know it will be a great Father's Day, because Munchkin is going to need to go to the bathroom.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grandma and Grandpa Day

Saturday was Grandma and Grandpa Day. If it wasn't a national holiday, it should have been. Munchkin and Munchkenna spent all day with their grandparents, and had a ball.

We first went over to my parent's house. I spent most of the morning helping my dad around the yard—mowing lawn, tearing out a dead grape vine, planting two posts to accommodate the existing grapevines, pruned two trees, and a few other things. While I was out with Dad, Munchkenna was taking a nap, and Munchkin was making sugar cookies with Mom. She especially loved frosting and sprinkling the cookies. I think she used about half a bottle of sprinkles on a couple dozen cookies using the one sprinkle for you, two sprinkles for me methodology. There was a healthy pile of sprinkles left on the cabinet that didn't stick to a cookie or find its way into Munchkin's mouth, but she had a ball. I think Mom had just as much fun as Munchkin.

Munchkin had to get her dose of playing in with Dad, so he and I spent turns turning the tricycle around so she could go back and forth in the living room on it. I wouldn't be surprised to find ruts in the carpet the next time we go there. I've never seen the Cherry Bomb go so fast.
We had cheese soup with them for lunch after all the work and play was done. Munchkin loves soup, and love cheese, so she especially loves this dish. After prying her away with a bribe of a banana (she always has to have one when she leaves their house), we headed home for naps.

After naps were over, we headed over to Wifey's parent's house. The routine started all over again. Play, followed by more playing, followed by a healthy dose of playtime. She went on a walk, she played with the train set, and rode the rocking horse. We had dinner with them, then I went to sing in a choir Wifey's dad was directing for a church meeting that night.

Perhaps the most entertaining portion of the night was the fact that I forgot my suit pants that evening for the meeting. I had my olive green jacket, but no pants. Being a bit taller than my father-in-law, I asked if he might have some pants I could borrow. He found me a pair that were a bit more brown than my suit, and I tried them on.

He wears a size 38. The pants he gave me were a size 44.

I wear a size 30.

I was grateful I remembered a belt, but even more grateful that I had a suit coat to cover up the folds of fabric in the back. And yet even more gratefuller that I got to sit for a majority of the time until we had to stand and sing. I strategically placed myself directly behind the organ so as to hide my lower half as much as possible.

And it worked. The only person who noticed was my sister-in-law, and I had to prompt her to notice them.

All in all, it was a great day, and we got to repeat parts of it again on Sunday when we spent most of the day with Wifey's family. And then we spent most of Monday evening with my parents.

In short, Munchkin and Munchkenna got whatever they wanted over the weekend. There is not much a parent can do when you're at Grandma and Grandpa's house...

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Mixed Bag

Today happened to be a mixed bag for me at work. I've been trying to get an issue resolved for the past seven months ( to no avail, but it isn't from a lack of trying). My boss sees things one way, but another boss doesn't see things the same way. We have been at an impasse for about the past five months as I grit my teeth and bare it.

Earlier this week, my boss' boss met with the other boss to try to reach some agreements—not only for my work, but also for four of my colleagues who do various other tasks. Today we got the report.

Things were going great. There were some good in-roads made on one colleague's front. Then great changes came for another co-worker. I became hopeful. Then the time came for my verdict.

I heard the report fall from his lips, "With eComm, we weren't able to reach an agreement." I was a bit floored. Or quite more than a bit. I couldn't believe that they couldn't come to any sort of agreement. So we agreed to give up. We will be letting all writing standards go out the window. I will not be doing anything more than copying and pasting items for them—typos and all.

 I left the meeting quite disheartened. I find it hard to fathom that when a business has help that they would flagrantly deny that help. And it was even worse that after all my offers to help, all my examples provided to management, all my hours that I had invested to make the documents better were completely ignored.

My boss asked me to stay behind and talk to him for a moment. He let me know that since we would be spending less time on this group, we would find more challenging items for me to be doing. And that he was planning to get my position moved to another classification. That meant a raise. While I'm excited to get a raise, and I'm excited for more challenging and new work, I feel a bit bad for all those workers who have to fight their way through the documentation and not get the clarity they deserve. I feel bad that I have to give up on that.

But, for the time being, I'll just have to be glad that I got a mixed bag today. I'm happy to get some good news after a week that seemed to be two and a half weeks all crammed into one.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Public Service Announcement on SHAS

My brother was up with his family for Easter. While they were up, they introduced us to an interesting acronym that we have since adopted in our family: SHAS.

You might not have heard of this acronym before. It has nothing to do with the orthodox Jewish political party, nor the Scottish Housing Advisory Service. Instead, it has the power to turn Munchkin from this:

to this in less than two minutes:

Or to turn Munchkenna from this:

to this in the same amount of time:

Does this look familiar to you? If so, SHAS might have struck you or one of your loved ones.

SHAS stands for Sudden Hunger Anger Syndrome. It can wreak havoc on families, turning the most amicable children and adults into wrathful monsters who lash out at everything near them.

My brother claims that it is carried through the genes of Swedes. While this has not been proven through the recent research on the human genome, we have found it to be true with our children. Since my wife's family is Swedish, and my sister-in-law's family is Swedish, I guess our kids all inherited the SHAS gene.

Munchkin has been very grumpy when she wakes up each morning recently. I blame SHAS.

She has also been full of harumphs and sarcastic sighs right before dinner. I blame SHAS.

Munchkenna just yells when the food isn't coming fast enough. SHAS again.

Please don't let SHAS effect you or someone you love. It can easily ruin your life, and many see miraculous improvements after ingesting a banana, cheese stick, granola bar, or even a five course meal.

For the sake of your Swedish friends who might be adversely affected by this debilitating condition, please keep a little food handy. I know we do.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blast from the Past

Yesterday at work, I was in the middle of a conversation with a coworker of mine. I occasionally help her out with some of her duties, including loading some case-specific information into another system. While you might think that this sounds more boring than watching leather dry, you get to see some of the craziness that is people's lives.

I was relating what little I had gleaned of a case that was worthy of a Hollywood movie plot (sorry, no specifics), when a manager I rarely interact with loudly—and somewhat rudely, might I add—yelled "Hey John, come here for a minute." I politely informed her that I would be there in a moment, and she seemed a bit amused.

I finished with the rest of the details of the story, then proceeded to this manager's office. I occasionally helped her with computer issues, so I began to mentally change into my IT hat. What I saw surprised me.

One of my old bosses from BSU sat in the chair, grinning up at me. I didn't think I would ever run into her in my current capacity, but there she sat, grinning like a teenage boy at an all-you-can-eat buffet. She knew me from back when I was still fighting my way through majors five, six, and seven, so one of her first questions was, "What do you do here?"

I told her that I was a technical writer. Her smile faded a bit as her brain raced to figure out what that was. After a few pleasantries, I was shooed out of the room, as there was official business to be conducted.

It turns out that my former boss works for a non-profit organization that works with this manager on a frequent basis. Frequent, as in they are in that office 20 feet from my desk on nearly a weekly basis holding meetings. How I have worked there for over a year and never run in to her is a mystery. I try to keep a low profile, but whenever I walk from place to place, my head is much higher than the cubicle walls, so I am a prominent fixture if you are looking around the floor. People know me. I don't bring a water bottle to work so that I can get up frequently to get a drink. I should have run into her before this, but fate would have it that we didn't meet until now.

After the official business was conducted, she came over to catch up. I showed her all my pictures of the kids, told her where we were living, what I was up to, then she proceeded to tell me how she was thinking of me just two days prior. I thought Why in the world would I cross her mind? but she gave me the answer before I had the opportunity to ask.

She was having an event for her non-profit group, and wanted to do something to make the event special. When I worked for her, I reserved rooms in the Student Union Building. They caught wind that I played the piano, so they asked if I would be interested to play for any events. Since she wanted something extra special, she thought of me.

I have to say that I'm a bit flattered. She asked if I would be interested. I told her that I would, expecting it to be in a month or so. Turns out it is a couple of days after my birthday in October, so we'll see if she remembers. I gave her my number, but part of me thinks that she won't. I guess only time will tell.

It was pretty fun to run into her and have a blast from the past. I'm sure she'll stop in more now that she knows where to find me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I took my customary lunch walk today at around 11:00. I realized that cars were slowing down and stopping on a road that is generally not very busy, so I meandered over that way to discover what I could see. I was happy to find six young deer lazily wandering through the neighborhood and snacking on some of the tender green chutes of the bushes.

I got to thinking how fun it is to live in Boise. Where else can you find deer aimlessly wandering through the bustle of a city at 11:00 in the morning? I got to thinking back on being raised in the greater Boise area, and got thinking about the pictures I took the other day. Especially ones of this trailer.

I was amazed at all the blues I found in this picture. I couldn't believe how vibrant some of them were after at least 30 years of weathering.
And I loved the grain of the wood in this picture mixed with the flaking of the paint.

Then I got to thinking about Boise again, and came to the conclusion that this trailer and Boise are quite similar. To many, the city of Boise seems old fashioned and bland. Some think it needs new wheels, or a fresh coat of paint, and others just want to abandon it completely.

Beneath everything, there are some interesting grains to see, as well as some amazing colors. Boise is small enough to be feel like home, but big enough to entertain me. Sure, I don't get all the big concerts coming through town, but I do get a few here and there that actually interest me. Sure, I don't have all the Broadway shows I would like, but I saw Wicked here last year, and am planning on seeing Les Miserables within the next year. There are robust opportunities, but not so robust that I get lost in the shuffle.

Boise has growing pains, much like any other medium-sized college town, but all in all, I enjoy exploring the backyard of my work building. I'm about three blocks from the heart of downtown Boise, and about four blocks the other way from the foothills. When I need bustle, I wander downtown among the masses. When I need the quiet, I head towards the dog park and the hills to wander in solitude.

I think my walks are what keeps me sane at work. If I didn't have time to leave and chew on stuff, being exposed to other stimuli besides a beige cubicle wall and identical gray desks, I think I might have been admitted to a mental hospital a long time ago. Things like the herd of deer refresh me and help me remember that Boise isn't all that bad of a place to be right now, even if some things don't shine like they did right when they came out of the box. There is still enjoyment to be found in the weathered grain of the wood.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday

Today was an Easter I wouldn't mind repeating. It was filled with lots of family and music, so what more could you ask for?

I got asked on Saturday to play the organ for our church service today. I enjoy doing that, and wouldn't mind doing it more so I could get better on the organ. I still don't know much about stops, but if I had to play more often, I would be forced to learn. Anyway, the only let down about the service was that we didn't sing my favorite Easter hymn, O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown. After the meeting, I had an elderly woman come up to me from the congregation and paid me a very nice compliment. She said that every time I get near an instrument, it thrills her. Although I flubbed a few notes, I guess I did something right on that old organ.

I also loaned my copy of The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis to someone who is struggling with the passing of his father. I read this novella a few years ago, and found it most instructional on what the afterlife might be like. If you are so inclined, I highly recommend it. I'll be eager to talk with him about if he found it helpful in his current situation.

We got the girls down for naps, even though Munchkenna didn't stay there very long. I watered all our non-flowering tulips and daffodils in hopes that they will flower this spring. Our hyacinths flowered great, but only one daffodil flowered, I'm guessing because we didn't plant them until early last year, and I think they are still trying to root into the earth before flourishing. Maybe next year.

After a ham dinner with the in-laws, the kids hunted Easter eggs. They had so much fun that we sent them back inside and hid them again. The sun was shining, and it was about 70 degrees. Perfect weather to bask slightly out of the sun on the deck.

We went to an Easter concert tonight where one of Munchkin's aunt was singing a solo. Munchkin sat entranced on my lap as her aunt did a great rendition of Tell Me The Story. After it was done, Munchkin had to be escorted out of the chapel to use the restroom. Along the way, she kept singing part of the lyrics back to me. I had her go sing it for her aunt after the concert, and I think they were both equally pleased. And I also forgot to mention that I got to play prelude music for the concert. More creating for me! Hooray!

All in all, an above average day. I might even go so far as to say a great day. Now, tell me how your Easter was.

Friday, April 6, 2012


About a year ago, I got a new job. It was not my ideal job, but I figured that it would be a good place to be, as it had good insurance, and I had just spent almost three months unemployed.

As time went on, I got more comfortable in my position, and started getting more comfortable in my work. I had felt out the organization, and started making more aggressive changes to the documentation to make it better.

Things were going fine until one of the two organizations  I work for started not liking the edits I was making. I was just changing things based on the style guide my organization provided me, but the changes were too drastic in the minds of this organization, so I was strictly forbidden from changing anything. I became a monkey for them that published whatever they gave me--typos and poor design and all.

I really got frustrated in September when, on a Friday afternoon, I was handed a document at 4:57 pm and told that I needed to get it out that day. It was my mother's birthday, and we had planned to do something with them that evening. Since I wanted to make a good impression, I stayed and finished everything. A bit disgruntled, I left from work an hour late.

Things steadily declined with this organization, and lo and behold, a month ago it was my mother-in-law's birthday, and we had dinner planned at our place for them. I got something at the end of the day for a release again, but this time, I chose not to stay. I was fed up. It all got smoothed over in the morning, and I was pretty frustrated (and still am).

The thing that really gets me about this whole situation is the fact that the other organization I work with things I walk on water. They love my edits, my questions, my vision for the documentation, and like the way I use my education to help their staff understand the message. I offer them the same support I offered the first organization before they shut me down, and it is well received.

Organization Two loves my work because they understand technical communication. When I tell them that we should chunk the information into smaller pieces to help staff understand, they understand the value. They like making things concise, and realize that there are things like scope creep in a document. While some information might be nice to have, if it isn't vital, it probably can be edited out.

Organization One doesn't have any formal writing training. They don't understand the changes I make, and don't offer me an opportunity to explain them because they refuse to adhere to any deadlines, so I get things later than the 11th hour. Getting information an hour before it needs to be published (along with four other documents) doesn't really allow me the opportunity to do my job and see how usable the document it. Plus the training department has already had the documents for a week, and completed their training for the next day two days ago, so they cannot make any changes.

I kept talking to my supervisor about the issues I was seeing. He is a middle manager who doesn't really have the power to change anything. After doing that for three months, I tried talking directly to his manager. That didn't do anything either, even though he has the power to change it. He is relatively new in his position, so he doesn't want to rattle everyone's cages yet.

Since that got me nowhere, I just started to stuff everything. I became resigned to the fact that I couldn't make any changes for Organization One, and it just continued to eat away at me.

About a month ago, I couldn't hold it in anymore, and had a frank discussion with my boss. I suggested that we find a different place for me to work, since I clearly wasn't doing any good for Organization One. I offered to hand over my software licenses to them and train them so that they could publish their own information. I let him know how frustrated I was, and what was frustrating me. I told him that I realized that I had stopped dreaming. Two hours later, we walked out of the room, and I went back to publishing like a monkey.

The thing that really tipped me off that I needed to have this conversation was the fact that I hadn't dreamed in a long time. I have always been the type to wake up every day and tell my dreams to Wifey (much to her chagrin). Realizing that I hadn't dreamed in four months was kind of scary to me.

I like Brandi Carlile, and in one of her songs, she has the lyric "I have seen your nine to fives wash away your dreams." That has always resounded in me, and I realized that I had allowed my job to literally wash away every dream I had. I had become numb and unimaginative. The stress of work spilled into every other part of my life. I would lie awake at nights trying to figure out how I was going to fix everything, then wake up in the middle of the night with my mind still spinning thinking about what to do the next day, then climb out of bed exhausted, dreading to go to work to face the actual problems I had been wrestling with all night. In short, it was no good.

After I realized that I had allowed myself to be crippled by the situation, I started really thinking about the situation. I realized that I'm not going to be able to change my current situation. The upper management likes to keep their hands in everything (which is part of the reason why Organization One cannot deliver content in a timely fashion so I can do my job), and since they don't see me as adding value because they don't understand what I do, I am powerless to change anything. I realized that I wasn't mad at the people I worked with from Organization One, but consumed by the friction the process caused.

I'm convinced that most interpersonal conflict in a business comes not from personal differences, but because of inefficiencies in the process. People don't get the time or resources they need to complete their job in a way that gives them satisfaction.

The night after I had my 2 hour meeting that should have lasted 15 minutes, I started dreaming again. I started waking up inside and wanting to create again. My dreams have continued mostly every night, and I am finding exciting things to do and experience in my every day life again. It is wonderful.

Yesterday, I took some time to walk around my parent's property and take some pictures. I took a handful of people, but took a lot of scenes from my childhood as well. I was creating. So at the end of this post are a few of them. There will probably be more smattered through upcoming posts, so if you see a random photo, just know that I am trying to awaken my creativity again and do something to keep my sanity.

Nothing has changed with Organization One. In fact, it has only gotten worse. I get more stuff later, and I continue to just copy and paste it into our manuals after voicing some very basic reservations I have with the documentation design. It is terrible documentation, but it is what they want, so I deliver it for them. But I have reclaimed my ability to create and dream again.

Lichen on the manger

Lichen on the bricks

The lane from the haystack up to the house

The hay derrick and a dilapidated cattle trailer

An old wheel on another dilapidated cattle trailer.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring's Gonna Be Good!

Spring has arrived, and so have I. It has been quite a while since I have written here, but with the world waking up, so am I.

With waking up, sometimes you can look a bit disheveled (or downright ugly like the picture of two baby pigeons I took today), and things might be that way for the next little bit. I'll push through them though.
I had a realization a couple of weeks ago that changed the way I look at a lot of things--life, work, long-term goals. While I'm not going to fill you in right now, I promise to let you know where I've been, and why I'm glad to be taking pictures like this outside my parent's front door:
Grape hyacinths
For now, all you get is a tease, but more to come (pics and words). And much more frequently than I have posted recently.