Saturday, March 28, 2009

Corporate Challege Update #1

I've been training the last week for the corporate challenge.....all nighter 24 sessions, middle of the night chinese food runs, and I moved the treadmill back into the garage and took all the towels and stuff off of it as I ready for it to be used sometime this year.

The Shooting Challenge was held last Friday. Josh, Marcus, Brad and I participated. We had a blast. I have no idea how all this stuff is scored but apparently we did get some points for the team which put us on the board.

Softball practice was held 8 days ago. My legs were sore for a solid 5 days. How pathetic. The sprint followed by the flop/stumble/roll was my individual highlight. I just need to make sure to bring my sliding pants when we play on Thursday. I did promise Janae no head first slides though. Damn. That's usualy how I roll.

Another round of spine injections went down on Monday so I should be competely numbed up by Thursday and Fridays softball games. This means I will be able to do anything. I just won't feel it. I could even bleed out and wouldn't feel the pain that's how good this stuff is. The going under part is the best. When the doc puts the anesthesia into the IV, he says it will hit my brain in 20 seconds - well he's not kidding. Next thing I know I'm in the recovery room thanking everyone and chatting up a storm. Total buffoon. "Blah, blah, blah...." Baby want more.

Backyard looks like a bomb went off. We are re-staining the pool decking and all the rockwork so the pool is drained and all the furniture is moved around, PLUS the ever-present Las Vegas spring winds have blown stuff all over the place.

I want my yard back. I want the wind to stop.

Most of all - I want to play softball.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Corporate Challenge

Our office joined the Las Vegas Corporate Challenge. There is SO MUCH potential humor here that it will have to be posted over a 3 month period.

The office resembles the television show of the same name. As any office, we're an assorted bunch. Short, tall, skinny, big, smart, not smart, funny, dull, handsome, not so handsome, serious, and everything in between. We are our own melting pot. Each day there is drama, horror and comedy. As if you couldn't guess, I like the comedy. I'm a comedian first, and an insurance man next.

Me? I've signed up for shooting, softball, bowling, tennis, archery, poker, tug-o-war, track & field, flag football, ping pong, canoeing, poker and fencing.

A lot of these events I could do in my sleep and still win - set age group records even. I maintain that I have the mind and body of an 20 year old. This mindset will never change no matter how old I get. Mark - you get to figure that one out.

Softball practice is tomorrow. I need to get cleats, and a glove since the last time I played softball was church father/son in Bunkerville a good 15 years ago. This is when I threw my arm out. It's since been surgically repaired and I've tossed a lot of passes at the beach each summer WITH AUTHORITY so my being at 3rd is golden.

So I'm penciled in at 3rd base, aka The Hot Corner and Wade just laughed when I told him.

He said, "You're gonna get your teeth knocked out."


What Wade doesn't know is that I was trained by late Lenny Snellman who always wanted us to charge the ball and maintain PMA. If you don't know what PMA is then tough. Lenny Snellman's claim to fame was coaching his beloved Tigers to several titles back in the early 1970's. His next greatest feat was assisting Dick Ruttan's around the earth voyage as part of the meteorlogical team.

I'm not gonna lie. I haven't participated in some of the events, but I have watched them on television and they don't look that hard. Fencing? Puh-leeze. Ping pong? I come from a family of ping pong champions. It's true, look it up.

As the weeks roll by, I'm sure there will be posts and photos of our team escapades, and posts about me getting totally freaked out at losing and throwing things and engaging in low-intensity cursing. I dislike not winning. I've gotten better at this over the years, but it's still something that burns inside of me at 100,000 kelvin. As Vince Lombardi once said, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." And in todays wimpy world of where every kid gets a trophy, and every kid gets to play makes me want to vomit. Kids need to compete against other kids in order to get better....better at anything and everything.

Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

I love living in Las Vegas although after 22 years, the thrill has definitely left the building.... along with Elvis. We travel alot, and always wonder, "What would it be like to live here?" These thoughts end the minute our plane touches down at McCarran. Truly, there is no place like home, even after 2 decades.

It's amazing to me what peoples perceptions are about Las Vegas. Until recently, I think people just assumed Las Vegan's lived on the strip and worked on the strip and we raised our kids up to be dealers and show performers. With the housing boom (and bust), people now know that Las Vegas actually has neighborhoods, churches, schools, parks, and all the things that make up a community. It's nice here people.

Friends and work colleagues in eastern cities ask me all the time, "Does the heat bother you?"

"Nope - I consider it my snow shoveling weather."

Puzzled looks....

I go on, "It's just that I would rather have 115 degree heat for a few months instead of having to shovel snow for half the year."

The light goes on in their head, "Ahhhhh."

At that point I can actually see the gears moving in their brains as they begin to think of the snow, the ice, the gray skies that linger for months on end, and the bitter cold.

I say to them, "Do you know why so many people live in old, crappy places in the east and midwest?"

"Uh, no."

"It's because back in the 1700 and 1800's, cities pretty much had to have access to water since that was the only way to move people and supplies. Access to rivers, lakes and oceans determined where our first great cities were located." People were stuck living along waterways.

Think about it, who could even get to Las Vegas 200 years ago? Native American Indians didn't even want to live here since it was so damn hot and the dirt was so bad and hard that even to this day, it can be hard to plant a flower without hitting rocks. Since there weren't any casinos, airline flights OR air-conditioning until the 1950's, there was no way in hell that anyone would or even could live here - except for a few brave souls. Air-conditioning = Genius.

We're a city/state that's pretty laid back. Driving to California on I-15 there is a California Highway Patrol stop in the middle of nowwhere - it's a good 75 miles from the Nevada border, and its sole purpose is to inquire if you are bringing any fruit in the car to California. Each day, thousands of travelers are slowed down, and vast sums of money are spent to staff a station to ask a dumb ass question that is pointless, "Have any fruit in the car?" Even if I did, would I tell the guy? How many Las Vegas families have ziplock bags of cut up apples, pears, and grapes to feed junior on the long ride to San Diego or Disneyland? I mean, is one bag of grapes going to set off a chain reaction that will require FEMA's assistance?

Now the irony. Going the opposite direction - heading into Nevada - there is no stop. No signs telling travelers what they can or cannot bring into our fine state. You know why? It's because since the 1950's and clear up to the early 1990's, the federal government set off 928 nuclear bombs in Nevada. Do you think we care if you bring in a piece of fruit with some exotic spore on it? Hell no. We set off nukes above and below ground for decades. Our state is already polluted - more than New Jersey if that's possible. And people here (they're all newcomers) get all freaked out about storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. Newsflash: That ground is already producing watermelons the size of VW Bugs.

I say, let's store the stuff and tax it up the wazoo so it will help pay for schools, police, roads, and all that other crap our taxes fund. People griped about the cost of building Yucca Mountain, but $9 billion dollars nowadays is nothing but bonus checks for AIG executives (that's for another blog post).

The singular drawback to living in Las Vegas...the wind.

Every spring the wind shows up. This atmospheric occurrence doesn't last for a day. Hell no. It can last for months. I've been sitting in my backyard writing this, and already a thin film of pollen and dust blanket my computer. Ah....spring in Las Vegas.

But you konw what? My grass is green, my flowers are in bloom, and we sleep with our windowns open.

I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Indian Wells

We're here in Indian Wells, of my favorite places on earth.

It's here that we sit under the bluest sky you have ever seen and watch some incredible tennis. The temperature is usually in the mid 80's, there is zero wind and no humidity. I'm telling you, it's perfect.

We've been coming here each March for the past decade - ever since the new tennis center was built. It's the 2nd largest arena for tennis in the world right behind Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadow, the site of the US Open.

Indian Wells has a cool combination of young and old people alike. Since the tournament runs 10 days, and includes men and women, it is considered the 5th largest/biggest tennis gig on the planet - behind the 4 grand slams.

Janae has been down here for nearly a week now, and Alec and his wife Tiffany and I drove down yesterday to partake of the action for a few days ourselves. Alec is on spring break and Tiffany had some vacation time to burn so it worked out well for the 2nd year in a row. We always like bringing the boys and usually one or both of them is able to come on down if even for a day or two. They've missed the past few years being on missions, but just like we welcomed Alec back last year, we look forward to having Jake and his significant other spend time with us here in future tournaments.

I ordered some cheeseburgers, fries and diet cokes for the gang last night between matches, and the gal behind the counter said, "That will be $55 dollars."

Without skipping a beat, I said, "Hey, you guys are cheaper than Disneyland."

She laughed out loud.

Me too. $55 bucks for some burgers and fries. Who's the sponsor of this thing - AIG? Merrill Lynch? LOL

We've spent 2 days at the tennis center so tomorrow we're going to sleep in, hang out by the pool for a few hours, take a good long nap, and then hit the night session which is always fun. Imagine a hoard of rowdy, very tan 70 year old retiree's sitting under the lights snoozing while the best tennis players in the world work their butts off a few feet away?

We are having a great time. We miss Jake a ton and remember the days when he and Alec would chase players down for autographs. Those days have passed, but the weather, the tennis and yes even the food is always outstanding. It's where we want to spend those windy March days that always haunt us in Las Vegas this time of year. Jake will be here next year and the gang will be complete - maybe we'll even bring golf clubs which is something we've never done before.

And maybe stay a few extra days.

Life is good.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Car Lot

I had the pleasure of buying two new cars this week. As always, there was a good deal of humor and drama involved in the transactions. Nowadays, when you pull up to the front of the dealership you are immediately encircled by salesmen. No chance whatsoever to browse around - their eyeballs just bore into you. They are worse than shoe salesmen at Nordstorm's.

The first transaction was the the Mercedes Benz dealer. I was trading in my 2006 and was looking for a spiffy 2 door since the kids were long gone, and frankly, I don't know if anyone ever even sat in the back seat of the S500. I had pretty much decided on the CL, when salesman Jeff took me downstairs to look at some different colors....when the elevator door opened, "Wham!" I saw the car I needed. A sleek 2 door pearl white 550SL with all sorts of chrome and more electronic shit than the space shuttle. I had them add chrome wheels to really pimp it out. Playa. Of course after you pick the car, they run you through the finance gauntlet where they try and and sell you everything from paint guard to wheel protection. Every salesmen is a sucker and I ended up buying all the stuff I'll forget I have and end up paying for repairs out of my own pocket.

Next stop was the Lexus dealer so Janae could pick out her SUV. She's hated the Range Rover since we got it. There's no doubt that the RR is a great looking ride, it just a nightmare to own one. Jake was driving out to see a girl he was dating who lived in Henderson and while he was on the I-215, the right rear tire on the RR PASSES him going 65 MPH. This is never a good thing. He pulls over and calls me,

"'re not gonna believe this, but......."

So I drive out there like any father would do and just stare at the mess as if I know what to do. Pulling up, I find Jake and AJ trying to change the flat tire. This is comical. Now if there is one thing that kids today aren't good at is stuff like changing tires, using ladders, and putting in car stereos - like we all did back in the day. Kids nowadays know how to burn CD's, DVD's, and do all that computer/ipod crap. The heavy lifting? Not so much.

In 15 minutes, Jake and AJ managed to bend the jack to the point where it was no longer useful, but they were able to track down the tire that had spun off the wheel so we had that for evidence because car dealers hate you once the ink is dry in the sale and wouldn't believe this story at all. 3 sets of tires later, and, thankfully, no other serious mishaps, and the car behaved okay for the past few years. I rarely drove it thank goodness.

Anyway, it was time for Janae to get her new ride. These days, it's pretty slim pickins for SUV's.....had the GMC's, done the Land Cruiser, are not old enough (or black) to drive a Cadillac, weren't interested in the Range Rover, didn't want anything built in America since those companies will be gone in less than 24 months so our choices had pretty much narrowed themselves down to the big Lexus. We kept this fact in our pocket while dealing with our sales guy who was nice enough, but wore an annoying ring on his right hand that seemed alittle faggy even though he was married with children. Some guys can pull off the multiple ring thing, and some can't. The ones that can't, well, you know, they just come across sort of strange. But I don't mean that in a bad way.

Now I thought I had struck a deal to trade in the Range Rover for the Lexus and was sitting in the finance dude's office signing papers like a drunken sailor when in fact the topic of the RR came up. This is where things got alittle sleazy....our sales guy swore we didn't talk about trading in the RR while I was pretty sure we did. Janae was already intoxicated with the smell of the new ride - the leather, the carpet, the rubber, the plastic and whatever the hell it is they put in there that pretty much makes every single one of us a total sucker for a new car - that I couldn't back out now. So instead of having 2 cars like a normal husband and wife, I now have 4 plus the one up in Utah that Alec drives. We essentially have a car lot in the driveway. Anyone need a RR or a porsche? With the economy in the toilet the market for my P-car dried up so I may just have to sit on that forever. It's quite possible that that will be Jake's car when he returns home from Ecuador. Not too shabby of a deal for him! Haha. It's got 4 wheel drive so he can feel safe driving in the mountains. I'm sure he'll make it work. Two words: Chick magnet.

Janae is on her annual sojourn to Indian Wells with Holly and Kelli for the tennis tournament. I'm not sure how much tennis they actually watch, but I do know they have a fun time and always have a lot of stories to tell afterward. Alec and Tiffany fly into to LV tonight, and the three of us will drive down there on Sunday to spend a few some tennis, relax by the pool. It's in the mid 80's in Palm Desert so it's even nicer than here in Las Vegas. No wind too which will be nice.


KAR is tired.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Jake's Adventures in Ecuador

Judging from the pictures Jake sent to us today from Ecuador, it looks like he's in the middle of the rainy season right now. As missionaries for our church, they pretty much walk everywhere. And when it rains and turns the streets to mud, or worse, into small streams, well that's when the boy in all of us, including Jake, comes out. They usually have boots/waders that come up to their knees to wear, but that's when they plan ahead and have an idea of what the weather is doing. I'm just not so sure the village of El Triunfo is that plugged into the weather service or if the country even cares about such things. I have found the Latins of South America to be patient and low-key.

Jake's has a comedic personality like everyone in our family, and funny stuff just always seems to follow us around - North America/South America/Europe - no matter. Jake's latest adventure was last week. He summarizes it below.

"Then on wednesday, I had an unforgettable experience. Mom, it's a good thing that you weren't here, because you would of thrown down with an 87 year old lady. We were teaching her son, and she basically hates us. She always bugs us in the lesson by coming and talking about why the catholic church is the only true church. Well Wednesday we were lucky because she was sound asleep in the hammock under the tree. So we started to teach the son, and right as we were ending the lesson she woke up and comes running over to where we are and goes off. She yells at her son, "why did you let these DEMONS enter our house? They come to teach the doctrine of the devil." The son chuckled at this remark, so did my companion and I. Then I told her, "We are leaving now, we just want to end with a prayer." I asked her son to say it, and I bowed my head, and before he starts the prayer. WHACK!!! That old lady catches me with a cheap one, and hits me right in the head. Now my companion can attest, this wasn't a "You are bugging me" assault that she hit me with. This was a closed fist punch to the back of the head. I looked up, and the son started to yell at the mom, and I just smiled and laughed with my companion. I said, "Lets try to pray again", and she said, "Then pray." I kept my head up, and she asked, "Why dont you bow your head." I said, "The last time I did that, someone whacked me in the head." She got mad, stormed away and we prayed."

Good Stuff.

We also got his release date. 12/14/09. 9 1/2 months to go. We're going down to pick him up like we did with Alec in Peru.

Time flies.