Thursday, December 25, 2008


I love Christmas. I'm also glad it's over with.

This year was great but we were a bit out of sorts. With no little ones in the house to wake us up early and the fact we were having the family over for breakfast at 9am meant that we didn't even open presents until after 12 o'clock. By the time we wrapped that up (reverse pun intended), my mom and Miss Amy came by and we anxiously awaited Jake's call from Ecuador.

As usual, Christmas Eve meant Rod's most excellent potato soup, our white elephant present switch, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas game, and reading of the Christmas story out of Luke. The highlight though, as it is each Christmas Eve, of course was the old wooden game of Skittles. This is where we spin a top and attempt to shoot it up through openings in the 2 foot by 3 foot board game and knock over small bowling pins for points. We play 3 rounds (spins). Of the 8 participants, I rocked the game and won handily. Tiffany and Cindy came in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Today, I manned the stove and cooked up a pile of pork - sausages and the always delicious bacon. Carolyn and Cindy operated the waffle irons (they still have those? We use Eggo's). We had about 20 people over which was about 2/3 of what we've had in the past. Rod's clan was spread out all over the country and it was just Jordan this year. We loved having our house full of people and enjoyed the spirit in our home.

The brood began arriving about 9am and we had the traditional waffles and pork smorgasborg, the kids opened presents, we laughed and watched some home dvd's of Janae and Carolyn's hookie lau dance in Hawaii '91, ice skating and sleigh rides in Utah of '92 and '94, and Jake's 2 year effort to toss every toy he had over the fence at the Borla house. Some seriously funny stuff.

I received a beautiful engraving of "A Fathers Prayer" from Alec, Tiffany and Jake. Janae got me some cool men's stuff; clothes, golf balls, cologne, shoes, and what not. The highlight of Christmas though, my best present, was Jake's phone call. We have done this drill in the past with Alec while he was in Peru for 2 years but Jake had been out a year and we'd talked to him last on Mothers' Day. He was able to talk to both of his grandma's, his brother and sister-in-law, his sweet Amy, me and his mom. He is doing great in Ecuador and said to me, "Dad, it's amazing how fast the past year went by." He also said today, "This place is awesome. I love the people." He's enjoying his time as a missionary, but I also believe he's enjoying himself. On the phone today I gave up a significant sports update, and we laughed and did impressions like we always do. Same old Jake. So far he the mission hasn't made him weird but I'm convinced only weird kids come back weird. Sort of like the old computer axiom, garbage in garbage out. Jake was cool before his mission and he'll be cool when he returns. Quod erat demonstrandum.

We surprised my mom with VIP seats to Donny and Marie. She'll sit in the front row and get to have a meet and greet with them after the show...pose for a photo and get to wear her Neil Diamond dress. To psyche her up, we also got her a karaoke machine so she can practice before the show and sing along with Marie. Janae will be her escort since I'm just not that into D & M.

The day is winding down. We're tired and will arise tomorrow where we'll be greeted with no shopping to do, no presents to wrap, or people to host. I do have to pop in the office for a spell but that's life for "The Hardest Working Man in the Insurance Business."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's NOT All About Me After All

9 days since my last post? The silly season always wears me down - work is busier than ever which is good, the holidays require trips to the mall and hanging wreaths, setting up trees, and decorating the house. We had snowfall a few weeks ago which is a rarity in Las Vegas and yet the world continues to spin on its axis and the sun rises each day for us all.

We are enjoying having Alec and Tiffany with us this holiday season. They are busy with work and school in Salt Lake so it's nice for them to be able to sleep in and relax for 10 days. Alec takes his med school exam in a few months so he's been preparing for that day for...well, his entire life. Doc Briggs was kind enough to invite him to tag along for a 1/2 dozen surgeries the other day so Alec could see up close what a day in the life of a surgeon is all about. He'll be with Briggs again next week for a day, and then will spend a week in Peru in January assisting US surgeons as they operate on needy children in Lima. Alec will serve as the translator and be able to see spinal surgery up close. It's a great adventure for him and we look forward to hearing of his exploits in South America. Viva Peru!

We expect to hear from Jake any minute now. Missionaires typically call the day before their scheduled call to set up the time. What this means is we get to talk to him twice. The last time we spoke to our dear Jake-Jake was on Mothers Day. We miss him so much but know that his service in Ecuador is changing lives and helping him grow into a more compassionate human being. We're at the halfway mark of his mission and I can say, as all missionary parents do I suppose, that it's gone by pretty fast. The first few months were brutal for me but we're now in a good groove. We're just happy that Jake is happy and that he's kicking ass in Ecuador. I believe that may have been a first use of that phrase to describe a missionary. My bad.

Janae's mom moved in with us last week. Her health had deteriorated to the point where it just wasn't safe to leave her home alone. She suffers from Pulmonary Fibrosis which is a hardening of the lungs. She can't really walk much anymore since it tires her out to the point where she can't breathe properly.

We are glad to have her with us. Sure it's a change for us and a bigger change for Janae who lives the life of a gypsy and travels all over the place on a whim. That life is on hold for a spell. Our extended family has been great too - stopping by to visit, or sitting with gram for a longer spell so Janae can run errands. Being a caregiver is tough. As a volunteer at the hospice I was often asked to provide a break for the primary caregiver - let them out of the house to shop, meet with friends for lunch, or just get away from the constant melancholy that often exists with terminally ill people.

We don't know what the future holds with grammy other than she is likely here with us for the rest of her life. We embrace this experience as a family - it brings us closer together and illuminates what is truly important in this life and what the savior lived his life teaching: To Love One Another.

You see, it's not all about me after all.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Atlas Shrugged

I found out today that one of my favorite books of all time, yeah, it's my favorite, is being made into a movie. The book was written in 1957 so it's not like anyone was in a hurry and make a film about it. I think the reason why no one attempted to make a movie in 50 years is that the book is exceedingly long and filled with complicated philosphical arguments that I loved so much as a college student and continue to enjoy to this day. How someone will be able to put the essence of the book on the big screen in 2 to 3 hours will be interesting.

Atlas Shrugged follows the struggles of Dagny Taggart, a railroad heiress trying to maintain her integrity, and keep her family's railroad alive in the midst of a rapidly decaying world. She faces increasingly corrupt government agencies, the callous incompetence of her own brother, and the systematic loss of her best and most competent workers. Isn't this pretty much what is going on in the world today?

Dagny (great name by the way) suspects a sinister force working against her. There is a growing sense of helplessness throughout the country, often summed up in a catch phrase that everyone seems to know, but no one knows the origin of - 'Who is John Galt?" One by one, the best and brightest minds in the country are disappearing overnight, without a trace, and abandoning their businesses to be cannibalized by corrupt political interests.

So that's a summary of the plot. What Ayn Rand was famous for, besides her books, was her philosphical position of objectivism - a blend of rational self-interest, and productive achievement that help create individual happiness. We are selfish creatures and this selfishness is necessary for the advancement of society. There is no shame in this.

Sadly, I fear no one I know can identify with this sort of philosophy or ambition.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I Want No Drama

Some people live in a world full of drama. If there isn't drama in their lives, they create some. How come?

Over the years I've known people who live in a world of constant, work, and life's ups and downs all combine to create an unimaginable, unmanageable, unbelievable life of drama. Me? I want no drama. Zero. I hate surprises too. I like predictable. I get up to go to work in the morning knowing pretty much exactly what the day will bring.

I hear stories from friends, family members, co-workers that make me want to run as fast as I can out of the room and scream "ENOUGH ALREADY!" And now, with the economy in the toilet, it's only worse.

Turn on the news, grab a magazine or a's nothing but bad news. Again, it's enough for me to just holler, "STOP."

I do feel bad for people who are struggling - no question about that. It just the constant "woe is me" lament that some people wear on the sleeve, in their countenance, or who methodically bombard us all with verbal details of their stuggles are a drag. Frankly, it's become so bad that I just turn it off. I quit listening. I want to be surrounded by happy people - FUNNY people is more like it.

All this crap about stores closing, retails sales being off, layoffs, bank failures, absence of credit markets, tightening of credit markets, blah, blah,'s too much don't you think? I got my own crap to deal with just like everyone else and I don't boohoo to anybody. I'm the lone ranger and I like it like that.

Now that I've got that off my chest, I think I'll grab some lunch with my mom and cut out early to do some Christmas shopping. That'll put a smile on my face.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Spinning Christmas Tree

This year we have a spinning Christmas tree.....a first for the Runyon home.

Two of the Three indoor trees are standard trees decked out with lights and ornaments and stand as sentry's in the basement and living room respectively, but the jewel of the tree collection is the spinning tree that stands and spins proudly in the family room.

Getting the spinning tree up, balanced and decorated was no small feat people. The tree is standard issue - a 10 footer that we've used for a couple of years already. The trick is the fancy motor. The motor is a small unit that requires a skilled craftsman such as myself to fit a piece of wood to the spinner dohickey so that the tree stand can rest securely on the platform as it spins around and around. Sounds's not.

This job required me to locate the EXACT center of a circle. I knew right away that some serious math was going to be needed in order to do this project. I secretly wished for Alec to be home so he could write up whatever sort of algorithm that I would need to help me. Alas, I just did it the old fashioned way....I eyeballed it, and then started measuring from each side until I felt good about it. I made marks, drilled the holes, and, of course, didn't have the right sized nuts and trip #75 during the Holiday Season to Home Depot was necessary. Whenever I go to the HD, I always buy more than what I walked in to get so I came out with an armload of crap PLUS my nuts and bolts. I got home, attached the circular board to the motor, set the tree on top, helped Janae decorate it. In fact, my work was so good and precise that I'm actually a bit surprised that Janae hasn't picked up some sort of gigantic motor that will spin our cars while they sit parked in the driveway. You know, so we don't ever have to back up. You know what a pain that can be.

And so, the trees are up, most of the inside stuff (my part of the drill anyway) is up, the outside lights were up BEFORE Thanksgiving and we're ready for the holidays man!!! Granted, I didn't put the outside stuff up nor have I ever put up lights on this house but the point is they are up and looking good. A few years ago we opted to go with an exterior illumination service that uses their own lights, cords, switches and what not. Russ and his crew will also hang wreaths, put up glow in the dark Santa's, nativity scenes, you name it. Of course he charges a decent fee for all this, but you know what? I don't have to worry about it. Sure my circuit breakers kept going off but that was due to all the rain we had a few weeks ago. I don't think Russ is a real electrician either because, quite frankly, he's baffled by how all this stuff works just like me. How do I know? Because like 20 plugs all end up going into one outlet that's how. And this trial and error continues as GFI switches get thrown, and circuit breakers go off at the strangest times. We just go with the flow. Hey, nobody's perfect. Not only does Russ put up all the lights and outdoor decorations, he comes by after the New Year and takes all the crap down AND stores it until next year! What's that worth?

Oh, and the Eagles won today too.

Peace on Earth.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Rebel Pals

I just got home from a most excellent 2 day trip to Fresno with the Rebel basketball team. As you can see from the photos, the fellas were good sports and held up Jake's "Merry Christmas" sign, and played along further by wearing the funny Santa hat. I got photos of everybody - coaches, players, fellow boosters, but only posted a few here on the blog. Jake gets the entire photo shoot for part of his Christmas package that is being mailed in 2 days. He's a huge Rebel fan and he'll enjoy the pics - he and I have been on a few Rebel trips in the past so I know this will put a smile on his face.

Lon was great as usual. I said, "You can pass on the hat if you want and just hold up the sign."

He said, "I want the hat."

Our crew was glad the Rebels eeked out a victory over a pesky Fresno State team since the plane ride home after losses is always too quiet. After 2 straight losses at home last weekend we needed a spark. The rebs looked pretty loose at the shootaround earlier in the day so we hoped for a good outcome. TreVon's brother Dwight is a senior guard for FSU so the brothers had a good on-court rivalry by scoring 17 and 21 points respectively. I visited with their grandpa after the game and he was torn....didn't know what team to cheer for. I liked the FSU facility - small and nice. Very cozy. Sidney Green made his on-camera analyst debut on tonights game. We were having an early dinner and he was telling me how nervous he was making the jump from radio to TV. Afterward I asked him how he did, he said, "Great." Sid is a big man - he is also one of the nicest people you will ever find. Ditto for Lon Kruger.

Rebels are 6-2 and off to play Reno on Saturday. I think they will come back with a 'W'since Reno is weak and the team is starting to develop some all important chemistry.

More updates to follow througout the year.

Rene Rougeau/Senior

Joe Darger/Senior

Mo Rutledge/Senior

Coach Kruger

"Thanks John, Thanks Gondo"

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Get the Funk Out!

My emotional sports rollercoaster is giving me a tummyache.

Last night it was the Rebels turn to torture me. They were obviously still tired and bloated from Thanksgiving and lost their 2nd game in a row....AT HOME. Yikes. Back to back home losses haven't happened in 5+ years. California came in on Friday and handed UNLV an embarassing 18 point loss, and then Cincy played tough down the stretch and beat the Runnin' Rebels 65-63 last night. We mailed it in.

No question, the team is in a MAJOR post-Thanksgiving funk right now. With the exception of Joe Darger, the shooters can barely hit the rim (Kendall Wallace actually MISSED the rim, but did manage to hit the side of the backboard - doink), our tall guys forgot how to box out the other teams tall guys, free throw shooting is iffy, and we just look plain lost out there on the floor. I was VERY happy to see Lon fired up at the players. He was worked up to the point where his face was all red, spit was flying out of his mouth and one of the other coaches had to hold him back from going after a referee. That's the sort of coaching these guys need.

Our seats at the T & M are different this year - instead of being the lone rangers, we jumped over a section and up 3 rows. This puts us in the same area as Wade, Ben, and Davey. In fact, our seats are next to Davey's and that means we start our comedy routine hours before tipoff with funny text messages. The silliness continues throughout the game and even afterward during Lon's postgame radio show that is permeated by his overuse of the word "uh." "We, uh, need to play better offensively down the stretch and, uh, need more, uh, senior (pronounced: Scenior) leadership." Blah, blah, blah... "Thanks Gondo," typically ends the show.

We are also sponsoring 3 point shots this year. Each time the Rebels make a 3 pointer, the scoreboard lights up "Leavitt Insurance Agency" and "LGBS Benefits" is on the new video boards that are between the upper and lower bowls. It's fun to help the program and it helps keep our name in the community.

The rebels are in a funk and they need to get out of it. We're off to Fresno on Tuesday to play FSU. I'm taking a client of ours and his daughter on the trip. We fly up on the team charter with some other boosters and always have a great time. Our clients love it too - kids get autographs and pictures with Coach Kruger and the team and the Rebels enjoy some road support from a small band of loyal and loud UNLV fans.

5-2 to start the year is okay. Expectations are high after 2 solid years and trips to the NCAA tournament. Wink will bust out of his 5-25 slump; TreVon will learn to give up the ball sometimes; Beas will get some good minutes and be a defensive force, and Joe will continue to lob three-pointers. Rebels will be fine.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

The emotional high that I was on after the Utes victory crashed to earth the very next day when the Eagles were trampled by Baltimore and their rookie quarterback. Some guy named Joe. Tough year for the Eagles. Coach Reid benched QB Donovan McNabb at halftime and the guy pouted like a 5 year old at Toys 'r Us. D-Mac deserved to be benched - he has been playing terrible. The media turned the benching into a national debate and now it's big news. Coach Reid was just trying to light a fire under Donovan's big rear end but it backfired. I'm afraid we're not gonna make the playoffs so I'm not sure why McNabb is even playing....I'm pretty sure McNabb will be traded in the offseason then we'll see what happens when Philly fans are introduced to bad football team. It ain't gonna be pretty.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and that means 3 NFL games this year instead of the usual 2. The games are all pretty crappy, but it's still beats watching some stupid parade. I hope my family will respect my love for the game and not plan too many activites that require my participation for Thanksgiving day. After all, just in the past couple of weeks I've gone to a family reunion, gone to church (twice), and helped out my mother-in-law too many times to count. I am building up alot of brownie points with the wife.

Thanksgiving Day 2008 also means it's Jake's birthday. Our Jake turns 20 tomorrow. I have been missing Jake since he left on his mission last January. Tomorrow will only amplify those feelings. Still, he's doing wonderful things and having a great mission experience in Ecuador.

Me? I have a lot to be thankful for. While the newspaper and television continue to bombard us with bad news, I have a lot of positive things going on in my life right now. I have a great job, loyal clients, a decent golf swing, good and funny friends, a wonderful wife, sons who are good men and the opportunity to travel all over the world to visit cool places. I'm glad that 2008 saw my health return to normal after my sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment. Such things are speedbumps on the road of life. We all travel them, and I guess it's a combination of luck and skill that we navigate these roads safely and without drama - some do it better than others. Some crash and burn. I get by.

The fun part of Thanksgiving is that we knock the holiday out on day #1 - this leaves 3 days of holiday left to do more fun stuff. We are discussing a possible guys golf outing on Friday and/or Saturday. We'll need to see how motivated we are and what the weather is doing. No matter - we'll golf, play football or watch football. I believe a movie or two will also be in order.

Thanksgiving is good.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Utes Roll - It's What We Do

We've been up in Salt Lake City for the past few days and joined 47,000 of our closest friends at Rice-Eccles Stadium on a cold late afternoon yesterday to watch Utah completely dismantle that school down south. The score was 48-24 but it could have been worse. Our d-backs dropped at least 3 passes and ended up the night with only 5 interceptions instead of 8. As expected, Utah played physical football on both sides of the ball and thoroughly beat up their opponent.

The game began with both teams meeting at midfield to do some trash talking and posturing, then came a flyover by Hill AFB fighter jets - always a cool start to any football game. Seeing the jets in formation always makes me proud to be an American, especially since I just wrote Uncle Sam a big check the day before. A huge American flag was then unfurled by members of both schools spirit squads. The Ute gals did a better job than their counterparts making the flag all nice and straight. Even our band and cheer squads are superior.

The atmosphere at Rice-Eccles was electric. The stadium was a sea of red with tiny pockets of blue. We had some of the other teams fans sitting a few rows behind us. They made attempts at a few verbal jabs early on but nothing any good. They got real quiet in the 4th quarter and ended up leaving early as we ushered them out with waves and taunts of "See you next year." I actually wanted to fight some of them but Janae didn't want me to spoil the night for the kids.

Signs abounded. The best one was this "So Collie, who's more righteous now?" There were also dozens of flags with giant "U's" that fans held up on long telescoping poles some also sported pirate flags (skull and crossbones) beneath the "U" to signify our overly rebellious nature. The place was goin' off from the opening kickoff and didn't relent until well after the game. Most of the crowd stood for the entire game - we were probably 50/50.

A combination of cotton candy (the only vendor we saw), the cold, a sore back and a mysterious bug had me down in bed right after the game. Physically I was shot: ears were ringing from my Ute brothers in the row behind us who yelled the entire game. These guys were good too - in fact, they reminded me of me in my younger days - and I was really good. It's a combination of sarcasm, realism, humor and anger delivered LOUDLY. My voice was hoarse from yelling - and my throat is still throbbing a day later. I left it all in the stadium. I also froze my ass off. Granted, I'm never the best planner and live life flying by the seat of my pants. We were dressed in sweatshirts when we should have had polar expedition gear. I made a dash into a nearby Ute concession stand and bought gloves, a blanket and 4 ski hats. It wasn't enough. But I gutted it out.

The public address announcer made a feeble plea for fans to not run onto the field after the game. For liability purposes, they probably have to make that announcement. The fans stormed the field with 20 seconds left. The MUSS, who were active all night, were flying over the wall like ants - VERY fun to watch. The TCU game a few weeks ago had a reported 7 incidents of fans breaking bones rushing the field - who knows how many fans went to the ER after last nights game? And they don't serve beer there so you know the fans are fired up just on a spiritual high.

Former coach Urban Meyer was asked last week what he remembered most about the rivalry. His reply: "The hatred." Driving to the game we were all pretty stoked since there was red everywhere. A few of the other teams fans were always nearby, and frankly, they looked like scared little kittens. Alec told me they were afraid to use the restroom for fear of their lives. Good. We hate their self-righteous, arrogant, holier-then-thou attitude (Keith, tell me how you really feel). I'm just glad the Utes hammered them into oblivion and likely, the cold and windy Las Vegas Bowl while the Utes go on to BCS glory for the 2nd time in 5 years....and a game in a warmer climate- probably New Orleans or Phoenix....maybe Miami.

Walking out, amid the chaos, and in the cold I was happy. I was proud of my old school for taking care of business.

Utes roll. God must love the Utes more.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why We Love Obama

From ESPN: College Football Playoff? Obama said he will use his influence to create such a system.

"If you've got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there's no clear decisive winner. We should be creating a playoff system," he told reporter Steve Kroft.

According to Obama's proposed system, eight teams would play over three rounds to settle the national champion.

"It would add three extra weeks to the season," he said at the conclusion of a wide-ranging interview. "You could trim back on the regular season. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I'm going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do."

Amen. Praise to the Man.

If he can get the playoff system implemmented, he's already got my vote for 2012. I'll pay more taxes, recycle, learn to speak Chinese, and ride a bicycle.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Eagles vs. Bengals Blog

So far this game is killing me.

It's 3 all and the eagles had a grand total of 3 yards in the first quarter. I can fall out of my bed and gain 3 yards. I know this is the NFL, but that's why you have 330 pound lineman to help out, gaining a few yards doesn't seem all that difficult.


I mean we're talking the Bengals here. Their quarterback played at HARVARD. He's considered a failure by his family since he's not in medical school or law school. Ivy league guys don't play pro football, they become titans of industry, doctors, lawyers, and many used to steal money on Wall Street. Plus the kids last name is Fitzpatrick - he's Irish. Don't these guys all become cops or fireman? See why this is so damn frustrating for me?

Bungles just fumble....Eagles picked it up. It was a keystone cops sort of play. In fact, the entire game has been like a cartoon episode. Players racing around, wind blowing the ball end over end. Bengals guy just got laid out by Quentin Mikell. They taped his helmet and body to a flat board, and lifted him on the cart and wheeled him off the field to an ambulance. Hopefully its just a precaution. They guy was jacked up.

McNabb just tossed an interception - his 2nd turnover and the Bungles scored when Fitzpatrick zipped a td pass to Housmenazadeh. We're down 10-3 now to the 2nd worst team in the NFL.

Eagles drive the ball down the field and McNabb throws another interception with 11 seconds left in the half. This 3rd turnover in the half. But he did chase the guy down who picked off his pass and bumped him out of bounds.

The score is 13-3 now. Offensively, we're as bad as last year's UNLV team.

Hank Baskett made the first smashmouth play of the game. Big stiff-arm and tough run. Why we don't get this guy the ball more than once a game is a mystery to me.

13-10. Offense woke up.

McNabb just threw his 3rd pick but he did make the tackle again.

Bungles now in eagle territory....driving. Another big play between #84 and #11.

13 all now. 1 minute left. This game is going to OT.

OT has been horrendous. One punt after another.

Bungles lining up for the game winning field goal...We either lose or tie.

Dude misses the field goal. 7 seconds left. TIED.

That the National Football League can allow a game to be tied is criminal. A tie? In case your wondering, it's the first one since 2002.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Preview: The Holy War

Next Saturday it's on. Oh yeah, it is gonna be G O I N O F F ! !

As an added bonus, we've been invited to tailgate with some friends who like to drink shots out of a bowling ball. I'm not sure it they fill up one of the finger holes, just the thumb hole, or all three, but we'll embrace the festival-like atmosphere. Perhaps we'll even fill up the bowling ball holes with some diet pepsi? I'm more into the food part of tailgating personally.

Some observations:

Utah is a physical football team. This years squad is different from the 2004 BCS 1.0 version. This 2.0 BCS model, is tough as nails and no nonsense. They play punishing football. None of those Alex Smith behind the back passes and gimmicky stuff like that for this team. The QB, Brian Johnson is just coolly efficient. It will be 11-0 Utah versus 10-1 BYU.....really, it doesn't get much better than that. Bitter rivals. BCS glory at stake. A win by Utah will affirm their greatness. I am already preparing to be annoyed by all the BYU fans. I haven't figured out yet what I'm going to do, if anything, should I end up face-to-face with one.

Is there any coach in the United States are boring and monotone as Bronco Mendenhall from BYU? No. 2nd most boring: Kyle Whittingham.

The people in the Sonic Drive Thru ads remind me of BYU people....ultra dorky plus they drive mini-vans which are illegal in my family. We have a family member who belongs in these advertisements...figure it out.

BYU's Austin Collie sounds like a dog breed.

"You have an Austin Collie?"

"Yeah, he's fast, but he barks too much."

Woof woof

Has Hell Frozen Over?

There are times in one's life where phrases are uttered that make absolutley no sense at all; "UNLV and BOWL ELIGIBLE" is one of those phrases.

Don't get me wrong, we love the Rebels. Jake especially LOVES the Rebels. In a perfect world, upon his return from Ecuador, he will attend UNLV and work in the athletic department.

Rebel basketball is something the city has always embraced. 4 finals 4's and one national title put the program on the map, albeit notoriously, under Jerry Tarkanian's watch. A decade plus of mediocrity later and now, after a few years Lon "Carl from Caddyshack" Kruger has the Rebels winning again AND going to the NCAA tournament where anything can happen. March Madness? Is there a better sporting event anywhere in the world? I don't think so. Rebel basketball? Solid.

The football program has never had the talent, the dollars, the support of the community nor the coaching to really be able to put anything together. Sure there were few years where the Rebels managed to eek out a few wins here and there. When Randall Cunningham played here in the early 1980's he led the team to a few bowl appearances but back then they played in the Sunset Division or something equivalent to that level of competition.

The past 25 years have seen coaches come and go. Oddly, the very best part of Rebel football was when the Wisconsin Badgers would come to town - their fans would outnumber Rebel faithful, their tailgating was world class and they even drove semi-trucks and trailers from Madison to LV that had built-in monster grills for cooking brats and specially equipment trailers with enough kegs of beer to put out a 4-alarm fire. Their marching band is also famous for it's 5th quarter where, after the game, they would put on a great show and trips to LV, even in the heat of late August were no exception. Back then, I'm pretty sure the band would have beat the Rebel football team.

So, when head coach Mike Sanford was hired a few years ago, he came from Utah after a successful coaching stint as O-coordinator and on the heels of an undefeated for the Utes and a birth in the Fiesta Bowl, the fans here expected him to duplicate Utah's success. Didn't happen. Now, after a few years of hard work, Sanford has the Rebels on the cusp of being bowl eligible. A win over lowly San Diego State next week will give the team a 6-6 record leading some to wonder if hell as indeed frozen over - I'm one of those people. A narrow loss to Air Force and a winnable game against BYU and the Reb's would be 8-4. Of course that's wishful thinking, but one can't help but be proud of the team that coach Sanford has put together. While a BCS bowl is out of the question this year, and maybe forever, at least the team seems to have found it's groove and it should be able to compete for bowl births in the years to come....and that's a good thing for the school and the community - even if it does get a little chilly.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yearbook Photos

This is what happens when your kids leave the house and you have nothing to do....

Check it out. Have a laugh on me.

I did shoot a 79 today. Greens were like an ice rink - FAST.

I had some other miscellaneous good news....

Health is good. Kids are good. Wife is good. Life is GOOD.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Now What?

There isn't another football game on until Thursday....I'll be in withdrawal by tomorrow night.

I love football. My boys love football. My boys girls love football. My wife loves football. My mom loves football. My late father loved football.

The one day every week that Jake has to get to caught up on his personal stuff while serving in Ecuador he wants to know one thing from me: Did the Eagles win? Of course my emails to him would make the staff from Stats Inc. proud since I usually do a complete film breakdown and analysis and forward it to him in an encrypted email.

The Eagles loss to the hated NY Giants on SNF was tough. Alec and I text-messaged until my fingers ached. Andy Reid seems to get worse each year when it comes to managing the game. Who calls running plays during a two-minute drill? Who makes dumb coaches challenges that always cost timeouts? Why it's Coach Reid. I was reading some Philly blogs today and the fans there are ready to run this guy out of town. Philly fans are notorious for their intensity and are infamous for booing Santa Claus who showed up at an Eagle game when the home team was losing. Not only did they boo, they tossed snowballs at Old Saint Nick until he ran back into the tunnel. Tough town. Tough Crowd.

We watched the Utes beat a good TCU game last Thursday and improve to 10-0. Grammy, Trent and his wife Elizabeth and their new baby William Keith (The Great) Leavitt were over at the house and saw the game with us. I actually lucked out - if they had used Keith as the first name, I'm pretty sure I would be obligated to pay for college. That is, until I saw a picture of the kid on their blog yesterday wearing a BYU hat.

My despair is real Trent.

Preparations for The Holy War on 11/22 have ramped up. We fly up to SLC on 11/20 for pre-game rituals including painting the "Y" red, and other harmless shenanigans.

On Friday we're taking the crew out for dinner and a night of good banter and laughter. Saturday we'll sleep in and then it's on: BYU-Utah. I'm not gonna lie, this will be a bitter contest. I get worked up for games to the point where I had to take a xanax just to settle down after the Eagles loss last night. I know, I know...I can't help it. I hope we sit next to some BYU fans so we can engage in some verbal sparring or else just to mix it up in the parking lot. Note to Alec: If the weather is good, we're tailgating.

Countdown to The War: 12 Days

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Family Reunion 2008 Bunkerville, NV

We gathered in Bunkerville today for the Vincen Leavitt Family Reunion. Of the 5children Vincen and Erma had, 3 were here today with various members of their family. Bert (Janae's dad) passed away in 1982, and Tommy passed away earlier this year. Prior reunions had at least 175 people however today attendance was down - probably in the 85 to 95 range as kids are away at school, away serving missions, and Uncle Tommy's entire tribe was away at a wedding.

Our numbers were down but our enthusiasm was up. Janae organized games for the kids and the young at heart. We had sack races, three-legged races, and sprints (I didn't enter - bad hammy). We also had a great tug-o-war battle with the over 30 age group beating our younger family members. The old guys actually just leaned and used our considerable weight advantage although Kip almost singlehandedly won it for the kids.

We tossed the football around and I zipped passes on deep posts and fade routes with my usual skill. Haha! Janae handed out a lot of prizes that the little kids just LOVED. We then took a ride through B-ville on a large trailer that seated about 75 of us while Uncle Vin gave a narrative of the cool places long since graded over by progress. The history of the town is neat and it is important that our kids know where their forebears lived and HOW they lived. We stopped at the cemetary and visited the gravesite of Grandma and Grandpa Cowboy, Bert, and Janae's sister Jilleen who passed away in 1992. Aunt Anne did a nice job and prepared a short handout for all family members that talked about their ancestors.

We then all grabbed some lunch and had a short family update that featured an odd story by Uncle Vin about Bert's lost eagle scout pin with palms (?). Grammy talked about her family and how a long, long time ago, Bert brought her to B'Ville to meet the family - that was some 63 years ago. Dixie spoke briefly about his gratitude for family and our responsibility to maintain these relationships. Everyone then just sort of hung out and visited in small groups, and families got together for photos. We had a fun experience with Josh and Kiersten trying to get them and their 5 kids up in a tree for a family picture. There were a lot of tears!

As with any get together, it's not a real party until something gets broke. My dear sweet niece Hannah managed to break 2 bones in her wrist while body surfing the extra-large soccer ball. She was a trooper and waited about 4 hours for Carolyn to take her to the Quick Care in Mesquite. wait too. We're better off driving to Mesquite if we get hurt versus going to a Quick Care in town that typically has a long wait, a completely uninterested and lazy staff, and lots of sick people hacking up who-knows-what in the waiting room. I like the small town vibe.

I enjoyed the gathering as you can see by my smile. We had a beautiful day and I can't believe I'm actually going to say this but, the reunion was too short! I would have liked a few more hours and a lot more people. We missed not having Jake, Alec and Tiffany with us. Our family was just me and Janae. How pathetic! We will meet again in two years and hopefully our tribe will all be together.

On the way home we stopped in Logandale at the Pomegranate Festival. Yeah, it's true, look it up. We bought a bag of pomegranates for $15 bucks and the thing must have weighed 50 pounds. It was important that we get the RIGHT pomegranates....apparently, like anything, there is an art to picking the right kind of fruit. Some guy named Earl cracked open a pomegranate with his big sausage fingers and scrapped some of the insides into Janae's hand as I looked on horrified....I didn't see any hand-sanitizer nearby so I was freaking out on the inside about germs. Maybe they don't exist in small towns? We wandered around the festival for a few minutes while a band played off key but without restraint. a Pomegranate festival. I smirked to boy in the sticks.

I couldn't wait to get home to my cell phone and directv.