Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

My family had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week. This will probably be a short post because just one of my hands is working right now. But I have much to tell.

It’s always a treat to see my siblings, and they were all able to be at Thanksgiving this year except one, my sister Shellie. I guess we’ll cut her some slack since she did just have a new baby a few weeks ago, and she does live in New Jersey.

Thanksgiving morning started out great, except when Jeff and I went to play football in the turkey bowl I accidentally banged up my left hand. Unfortunately one of my fingers wouldn’t work after that. But after football we came home and ate a huge Thanksgiving meal. I gained 10 lbs. I think it was the best Thanksgiving meal I’ve ever eaten. Nate and Lezlee knew a secret recipe for the turkey and it turned out awesome. The stuffing and potatoes and pies were all excellent. And of course, we had the other greatest food ever, pomegranate salad.

Later, my dad and a couple of my brothers, and me, decided to play a few games of horse shoes in the back yard. We ended up playing late into the night and had to light the tiki torches so we could see in the dark. I didn't do very well, though. I lost every game that I played. I’m pretty sure it was just because one of my hands was painful and not because I'm a really uncoordinated horse shoe player.

My little nieces got tired of watching football on TV so they made me and some of the others watch the movie “Twilight” with them instead. Luckily little Abby told me every time a scary part was coming up throughout the movie, which I appreciated. I liked the movie so much that the next day when all the girls decided to go see 'New Moon' in the theater, I wanted to go with them, except Abby said I "wasn’t allowed because only the girls are allowed." I couldn’t really argue with that so I stayed home with the guys instead.

The next night was fun because we went to the T&M and watched UNLV basketball beat Louisville. For some reason I especially enjoy when Rick Pitino (Louisville’s coach) gets beat. That guy is a big jerk. But it was also an important win for UNLV because now the undefeated Rebels are nationally ranked in the Top 25, and climbing. With wins over Arizona and Santa Clara this past week they should move up even further in the polls.

All in all Thanksgiving was definitely a big hit this year and it was great to spend the holiday with the family.

Once I got back to work on Monday I decided to see the doctor on my lunch break because my hand still hurt. They took x-rays and said a little piece of bone had broken off…no big deal, but the tendon in my ring finger was completely ruptured and needed surgery. No wonder why that finger wasn’t working anymore. So I saw the orthopedic Wednesday and he operated Thursday to reattach the tendon. Now I have this big goofy bandage up to my elbow.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Catching Back Up

I’m ashamed to admit my blog has been empty for eleven months. I wish I could think of some good excuses for it. Maybe something will come to me as I write my post. Anyway, I’m back.

This is by far the best time of year because there’s a different, exciting feeling that enters the air. It could just be that the air is colder, who knows…but Percy Bysshe Shelley once wrote that “There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!”

Of course, since Halloween is only a few days away I’ve noticed the television is featuring a lot more shows about ghost hunters. It’s not a big deal really, except sometimes they do find some real ghosts and when you live in a house by yourself—like I do—it can be terrifying to watch. I mean, you all know that I don’t get scared, right? I’m just saying that maybe some other people could get scared.

While I’m relishing the fall season I should probably touch a bit on last summer too…since I made no record of it before.

Over the summer I went to New York City and New Jersey to visit my dear sister, Shellie, and her husband, Nathan. They’ve been living back east for about five years now and enjoy it there a lot. Nathan was recently called to serve as the branch president in church and is finishing his school at Rutgers University, and my sister was pregnant at the time with her first little baby, which she just gave birth to a few days ago… a very cute baby girl. Also along for the trip were my parents and younger brother, Jeff, which made it even more fun.

I think the main points to remember about this trip are that my sister and Nathan are doing really great, and also that I conquered the family bowling tournament (in New Jersey) with a high score of 188. Basically, big time players rise up under any conditions and even though all of the bowling balls in New Jersey have awkward finger-holes in them, I still bowled a “turkey” (three strikes in a row for the layman).

Side Note: Correct me if I’m wrong Nate, but I think the “Little Heads” are up on the “Big Heads” by about three or four scores now.

The top highlight of the trip, without question, was attending the Manhattan Temple as a family. It was a great experience since I don’t get to see my sister and her husband that much. The temple was very beautiful, sitting square in the middle of skyscrapers. I loved seeing it and I’m glad we were able to spend an evening there.

Oh, while in New York we also attended the Hill Cumorah Pageant and I happened to run into Lisa Magnusson, a local and famous actress from Henderson, NV and also the relief society president of my ward. I didn’t realize she was going to be the star of the entire show, but she was! Her job was to wear the Viking helmet and carry the banner, not an easy assignment by anyone’s standards but she pulled it off with no trouble.

Other than that, I took a couple of trips for work, which included stays at Incline Village, NV (right on the shores of Lake Tahoe—which was absolutely beautiful, and my first time ever being up there), and another to Steamboat Springs, CO (which was my first time to Colorado since serving there as a missionary). Both places were gorgeous. The photo above is a shot looking down at Steamboat Springs from atop the mountain.

But now that the summer is ended and the luster is back in the sky, it’s time to build some jack-o-lanterns.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happenings, Hazards, and Happiness

I haven’t written on my blog for a long time...and it’s sad because I have a ton of items to report. So here are a few nuggets to bring everyone up to speed:

First, I want to report that I burned my hand using the iron almost 3 weeks ago. Lucky for me I had some frozen juice cans in my freezer that I could carry around for the next four hours, but my hand still took a full week to really heal. However, the tip of my middle finger is still hurting…I must have burned the bones.

And I agree with Mark Twain, who once said, “Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.”

Second, I moved into my new home and have been living in it for almost 3 weeks now. As most of you know, it’s always a risk moving into a new shelter, but this one is proving to be a very comfortable place to live (and watch games, right Chris? :-)). It was a lot of work putting the place together, however. But between my dad and I taking numerous days off from our regular jobs to work on it, and being fueled by our endless resource supply of free hamburger coupons from In N Out Burger, we were able to fix the place up quite nicely (Thanks for all of your help dad…and please ask mom to see if she can find some of those same coupons for Pizza Hut…or El Polo Loco).

My neighbor Ed and his wife Emmy are great people. Nobody has toilet-papered my house yet…so I take that as a universal welcome to the neighborhood—I really think I will enjoy living here (Don’t worry, Dave, I still miss watching Animal Planet with you at your house while you cuddle with your two pet squirrels. :-)).

Third, basketball season is upon us, the pride of UNLV’s athletic department. The Rebels are currently sitting 5-0 with dates with Cal and Florida St./Cincy this weekend. Assuming the Rebels will continue to take care of business on the hardwood this weekend they should easily crack the Top 25, where they have deserved to be from this season’s first tipoff.

Fourth, Thanksgiving Day is also upon us, my without-a-doubt most favorite holiday of the entire year. Honestly, who does not completely love Thanksgiving? Maybe my poor mom...

My mom is an incredible Thanksgiving meal-maker. I’m not really sure how she does it. It’s my belief and opinion that the Indians and pilgrims do not know what they’re missing here…but I plan on having a pretty good day tomorrow…thanks mostly to my dear mother. And while I’m on the topic of my mom, let me also just say that my mother is perfect.

So, to end this post I just want to mention that I love to feast, buffet style. But I also want to mention that we all have much to be thankful for…each one of us. Especially during difficult times like we see today. May we always remember the Source of all our blessings, and be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Retreat from Center Street

Recently I purchased a house in South Valley Ranch and will soon be moving in. But I’ll tell more about that in a future posting. Right now I want to comment on another particular geographical location: Center Street—where I have been living the past two years.

I’m not really sure how to begin….

Center Street has a 7-11 on both ends so whether you’re coming or going you can always stop for a slurpee. But that’s just scratching the surface…There are a ton of good things about Center Street and reasons why I will miss it. Center Street is arguably the very heart of old Henderson, the very “centerpiece” of a neighborhood that gleams with life and personality.

No other street in America has more electric wheelchairs driving up and down it than Center Street, a phenomenon that has been enjoyable to watch. I never knew before exactly how many crafty senior citizens there were and how many different styles of makeshift electric wheelchair-like concoctions there were…but I do now. I’ve seen it all at Center Street. The leader of the wheelchair club is pretty old and always wears patriotic outfits.

Our neighbor Sherri across the street is especially nice and occasionally brings over presents. The other two neighbors were both evicted before we ever really got to bond with them much.

Some other memories of 851 Center Street include the time a ghost knocked over the laundry detergent in the middle of the night and we had to clean it all up, wearing just our underwear in the cold…and while cleaning, some “wolf-dog” showed up mysteriously…but it didn’t attack us.

Also the time we rescued a Chihuahua suffering from severe heat exhaustion that had passed out on the sidewalk by our house. And the night Dave flooded out the TV room because he watered the flowers outside too long, and subsequently having to go to Albertson’s at midnight to rent a “Rug Dr.” even though eventually we ripped out the carpet anyway.

Now that I think about it, pretty much most of my memories of Center Street are about dogs and cleaning stuff up…

But also I remember the numerous social occasions and delicious BBQs we had, the “Wooly Mammoth Party” and movie parties. I’ll miss climbing on the rooftop to spy on the Hilton and Stratosphere with the telescope, and writing letters to the mailwoman to “Please stop bringing Juanita Geddings’ mail to us…She doesn’t live here”—Juanita Geddings probably moved out of that house sometime before because she couldn’t handle the volume of mail she was receiving there everyday…
The crime rate on Center Street is all relative…Might be considered sky rocket high for some nice affluent suburban community, but for an older street ridden with low-income and government housing, and commercial stores that excepted cash only, it wasn’t too bad. Personally, I always felt safe because the police were never more than a few hundred yards away. Except one time the guy living next to Sherri got stabbed by a whacko walking down the street. The police took care of it, though.

Only on Center Street could we have found all of the used milk cartons we needed for our big Christmas display. Cars drove slowly by the house at Christmas time because they were inspired by our milk carton Christmas lights. Perhaps there was a little guilt when we found out that Dave’s elementary school co-worker was moving out of the neighborhood because she witnessed two men going through her trash piles, pulling out all of her milk cartons a couple of weeks before….Was probably two different guys, though…

Basically, there never is really a dull moment on Center Street. And in all reality the home I have been living in is very nice. Dave’s house is by far the crown of the entire street (good job, Dave for building such a good house). Everyone who ever came over to visit us always complimented how nice Dave’s home was, and I’m glad I have been able to live there these past two years.

Of course I look forward to my new home, but Center Street will always be a special place…very special.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

First, I look forward to seeing temperatures drop very soon. I’m not sure how the early settlers in the Las Vegas Valley survived its heat because I have almost died 2 or 3 times just walking out to my car to get a sandwich at Subway.

I decided to enroll into a class at UNLV this semester, a graduate course in public administration, which, up to this point, has been very good. But my textbooks were not cheap. The 2 (paperback) textbooks I purchased charged my bank account the same amount Little Caesars would charge me had I ordered 42 pizzas. Not hard to figure out the better deal.

The return of football is finally here. I love football season, especially college football. It’s always fun to watch games with family or friends on Saturdays. Last Saturday was especially good because the Rebels won their home opener at Sam Boyd Stadium…kind of rare. And even though the victory was over Utah St. University, who was recently tabbed “The worst football program in the country” by one publication, a win is still a win…and if you are a UNLV fan, any win is memorable.

For the Labor Day holiday my roommate Dave and I took a short road trip to Mesquite, NV to escape the city and do a whole lot of relaxing. We checked into the hotel Sunday evening with plans to spend all of the next day lounging at the pool and drinking piƱata coladas. Sunday night I was very tired and just wanted to sleep. The hotel beds were a little stiff but I did fall asleep, and all of that night I dreamed about the pool, doing back flips and dives and splashing around. The best way I can describe my dream was that I was a lot faster and better swimmer than Michael Phelps…and I was a lot tougher looking too…with more gold medals.

When we woke up the next morning the room cleaning lady was knocking outside our door. We were glad because we would probably need some extra towels. But after a few moments of confusion we realized she wasn’t bringing us towels, she just wanted us to leave and was kicking us out of the room. We called the front desk and were informed our 2-day complimentary pass expired at the end of August, and since Labor Day morning was September 1st the 2-day pass was now a 1-day pass…something that would have been helpful to know (the day before).

Our free hotel stay was over just like that…So we checked out of the room, loaded our stuff back into the car, and went to the Paradise Buffet to console ourselves. Now, I am a fan of almost any buffet, but I’m not real sure the title of “Paradise” Buffet is a fair representation in this case…More accurately it could have been called the “Poor Man’s” Buffet or even “It’s Decent” Buffet…maybe “Eat at Your Own Risk” Buffet. Actually, it wasn’t that bad…but just not that good either.

After the buffet we had to figure out a plan B, so we drove over to the movie theater to watch Iron Man, but the theater was closed until 4pm. We didn’t know where to go after that so we drove back to Vegas.

It was a good Labor Day trip, and I really do love this time of year.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Campout Night to Remember

Since this is my first post, I want to flashback about 5 years ago to a hot summer afternoon in Logandale, NV—Logandale is where I grew up. Like other small towns in southern Nevada, many Logandale residents believe they have seen UFOs flying across the desert sky. Alien spacecrafts, secret military flying machines…you name it, people have seen them hovering and have the stories to make anyone a believer—particularly at the barbershop, though…where all of the best stories are told. Of course my buddies Dave, Joe, Ito, and I felt obligated to go out and investigate. We wanted to learn the truth about these UFOs, Area 51, aliens, everything… And we decided this could only be achieved by driving out to remote and restricted parts of the state.

We planned our UFO hunt in great detail. Our first destination would be in Alamo, NV to meet and interview an older gentleman named “Dog House.” Dog House was a former top secret government employee who had plenty of inside information he agreed to provide us. Mr. Dog House was also a musician, craftsman, gardener, rock collector, entrepreneur, and highly prolific “published” poet, though all of his poems were weird and way overpriced.

Next we would travel to Rachel, NV, a very small town off of Nevada State Route 375, also known as “Extraterrestrial Highway.” Rachel, NV is home to a UFO research group, as well as the world renowned restaurant, The Little A’Le’Inn. We planned to eat cheeseburgers for dinner—referred to as “Alien Burgers with Secretions” on the menu—and then hold a meeting to become fully briefed according to the research findings of Chuck Clark, a local legend and Area 51 gadfly who has written a variety of pamphlets aimed at exposing the secret military base.

After our stop in Rachel, NV we would drive 20 miles back south to the infamous “Black Mailbox”—which is now white—and turn down a desolate dirt path known as “Groom Lake Road,” which in turn would eventually lead us into the mountains and perimeter of Area 51…our final destination of the evening where we would setup camp.

On the eve of our trip we stocked up on necessary supplies: still-photo cameras, video cameras, tape recorders, walkie-talkies, food, tinfoil, etc. We spent the night in Dave’s basement prepping ourselves and studying the true account of an alien abduction in Snowflake, AZ—watching our favorite movie, “Fire in the Sky.” We were reminded of the serious risk involved in chasing flying saucers. Since Joe was the biggest, slowest, and by far the most out-of-shape of us all, we made an agreement that if aliens did attempt to abduct us…we would all simply outrun Joe. It was a good plan and practical escape tactic which we all voted on, 3-1.

We departed the next morning. Since none of us owned a camouflage jeep we took Mrs. Hardy’s purple Cutlass Ciera instead. Joe occupied the entire backseat himself while the rest of us squished together in the front. But we did have a good working radio and a Beach Boys cassette tape, so…

Our first visit with Dog House went well, and would’ve been even more entertaining had we not been a little scared for our lives. In any event we left with some good information and agreed to stop back at his house on our return home—if we returned home. We then drove up to Rachel, NV to have dinner. Our waiter at the restaurant was a friendly fellow named “Devon Lovings,” probably a little more friendly than normal. Devon served us good food and performed many magic tricks throughout, but by the end of dinner I thought our $2 tip was more than generous. We laid maps and pamphlets out on the table and analyzed them thoroughly before departing to head back toward the “Black Mailbox” and on to Area 51.

As the four of us drove slowly up the secluded dirt road toward the mountains, none of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into. The deeper we travelled the more we noticed strange looking tripods positioned around the barren desert landscape—we had heard before about the existence of road sensors setup throughout the area. After what seemed like hours we finally arrived to a gateway in the road with signs posted all around, “NO TRESPASSING BEYOND THIS POINT,” and “Photography is Prohibited,” and “Violators will be Shot.” Such a gateway seemed odd and unnecessary since we were alone in the middle of nowhere…or so we thought. Strangely we noticed about 500 yards in the distance was an unmarked utility vehicle with two military-looking personnel inside, parked in a spot facing directly toward us. A closer look through the binoculars (and video camera) revealed they each were equipped with what appeared to be M-16 fully-automatic machine rifles. We never expected to see this, and with our headlights shining right on the marked gateway we all sat quietly and could hear the low sound of our car engine drift away through the open mountains. We were only 7 or 8 feet away from getting mowed down with machinegun fire. And evidently this was enough distance to hold a campout because that is exactly what we did.

We turned off the engine and with great joy and some disbelief we began unloading everything from the trunk: blankets, sleeping bags, lawn chairs…We knew we had arrived to the right destination.

(Next post I’ll add some photos and conclude the story)