Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Turning 50

I turned 50 years old the other day and at the same time I felt, all at once, relieved (that I made it), sad (that 1/2 my life has been lived - yes I plan on making it to 100), and happy since I feel damn good about my health and my station in life.

While no one can lay claim to having a perfect life, I must confess that mine has turned out better than I could have ever hoped.

Kids? Check
Good kids? Check
Healthy kids? Check
Happily married? Check
Happily married for 25 years? Check
In reasonably good shape? Check
Career? Check
Problems, worries? Check (no life is without them my friends)

And so the usual contemplative moments came when turning 50 and prompted an honest appraisal of where I'm at..... wanting to do better in all areas of my life is a given. There is much to improve on. With age come mistakes, the wisdom of knowing some of life's secrets through trial and error.....and more error. The wisdom that comes with age is knowing how little we really know about life.

I have much to be thankful for. Many have lived longer and many have lived shorter lives but this is my life.

And remember......It's all about me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Work, Work, Work

I have been so busy with starting up a new company with my business partner that I looked up at the calendar today and realized that we have been at this business for four months now. Seems like yesterday when we resigned and immediately jumped off the cliff into the abyss - sort of like when Butch and Sundance leaped into the river while being chased by the Columbian army. Granted our escape wasn't as dramatic or life threatening, but a leap it was nonetheless.

As with any big life change you quickly find out who has your back and who could care less.

The last 4 months have flown by and have been a nonstop adventure full of challenges, laughs, disappointment, success and more laughs. To say that I'm content with where I am would be an understatement. I miss many of the people I used to work with - some for 20+ years - however this emotion is tempered by the absence of communication I've had with them over the past 120 days. Such is life. Friends often hastily part ways not knowing they will never see each other again. Life's playbook is complicated.

On the flip side, we've met a lot of wonderful new friends at our business park and have developed relationships built on trust, friendship, pranks, and downright hard work. Changing environments has been refreshing, uplifting, motivating, fun yet also challenging and tiring - all at the same time.

I've missed my beloved golf all these months and I could count the number of times I've played on one hand....and usually in a tournament meeting prospective clients and passing out business cards. I've also had more breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings in the past 4 months than I did in the past 10 years. This is good and bad. Good for business, bad for the waistline.

Enter Markus.

My fitness trainer.

He has me doing stuff that I always thought I could easily pull off. During our first session we laughed like hell at how breathless I was after he put me through some circuit training. I'm not 20 anymore. Hell, I'm not even 40 anymore and to say that desk time, sofa time and too many meals at Cut, Flemings, et al have combined to make realize that many hours of gym work is necessary. I'm on week #3 - started slow and have good days and bad days. Having someone to push you to work harder is significantly more difficult than going to the gym alone where you can move at your own pace, watch some TV, grab a drink, and move from one piece of equipment to another at your leisure. With Markus it's all commando-style training and it HURTS. I've been sore for weeks now but in different spots. We're doing all sorts of crazy routines that look easy but kick my ass. I joked that the first day of training I was sweating cream cheese and diet coke. Things have improved although I do dread the whole "Getting to the Gym Process." Like most activities, once you're there, it's easy. It's all the stuff your mind whispers to you like, "You're too busy, too tired....go home and take the night off." Tempting I know.

Thanksgiving is next week - hard to believe that the holidays are already upon us. Christmas stuff is next and that brings an entirely different stress into spousal relationships. Let's be honest, guys want less everything; less lights, fewer ornaments, fewer presents and less stuff to do. It's ingrained in our DNA. Women on the otherhand want more lights, more trees, more decorations, more presents and more events. Their to-do lists are overwhelming. Guys shoulders tend to slouch more this time of year, our gait begins to shuffle, shirts are untucked more often and the smart ones know just to keep their mouths shut and go along with the festivities. Like many things in life, you just have to suck it up and get to work.

We're very excited to see our granddaughter next week.

Alec and Tiffany are coming down for Thanksgiving and mom and daughter will be here through the new year while Alec will head back to school after Thanksgiving to finish up his first semester of medical school before coming home for the rest of the holidays.

Jake continues to enjoy his duties as a student manager for the undefeated Runnin' Rebel basketball team. He too is working hard like the rest of us and I look forward to the day he comes to work with me in the not so distant future.

Work. It never ends. And that's not a bad thing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Why is it that airports provide some of the best people watching experiences of all time? PEOPLE act STRANGE at airports - no question about that. I even act weird once I hit the terminal....constantly checking and rechecking for my wallet, keys, glasses, sunglasses, boarding pass etc..... At the airport, I become a checking machine.

Then there is your stuff; your travel stuff....a carry on bag and/or a briefcase. Yesterday's jaunt to the Bay Area was a one day affair so I just had my leather briefcase but I must have checked a dozen times that I had that sucker right next to me. Don't want to lose that thing to the imaginary thieves and bandits stalking our nation's airports.

Airports are great cauldron's of humanity; people there are all sizes, from all races and religions and have their own built-in quirks.

Like me.

Of course I'm tolerant of myself, so I enjoy watching other people navigate their way through the airport. From the curbside circus of mismatched luggaged to check-in to the security screening area, our airports are a mess. First of all, they are all under construction of some sort so even driving to my own airport is a white knuckle experience. And attempting to leave Las Vegas on a Sunday morning is like trying to cross the US-Mexico border on the weekend: Pure Chaos.

Our trip was a quickie of the business variety and it was a short hop from Las Vegas to Oakland. Of course it took longer to drive to our meeting than it took to fly 500 miles tells you something of the traffic and road maze that exists in the bay area. The bottom line is that the trip was a success.

And that people watching in Airports never gets old.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend Warriors

Janae and I had the pleasure of watching two of our nephew's little boys over the weekend. Trey and Bing are ages 11 and 7 respectively - they play organized football, organized basketball and unorganized other stuff.

Saturday Morning....early.... the sun was just cresting over the horizon and it was time for football. The location of the field required some advance planning and we input the location into the car navigation system so we were good to go. The boys wanted Jack-in-the Box french toast sticks for breakfast so that was stop #1. Within 60 seconds of getting the food out of the bag we had a maple syrup circus on our hands - literally. Stop #2 was at Walgreens to pick up wipes to soak up the Bing's syrup mess which was now expanding faster than the universe. Syrup is one of those things you can have for breakfast and hours later realize you have some on your sleeve or the inside of your elbow. Strange phenonmenon. Overwhelmed by syrup, we had tried our best to clean up Bing and the car in the parking lot. It was hysterical. I told him, "just think how good you'll smell when you get tackled." Meanwhile everything was sticking to him - wipes, napkins....and by the end of the game, dirt and grass managed to cling to him as well. When we got home we tossed him into the pool for 6 or 7 hours.

After 4 hours of football came 2+ hours of basketball. Thankfully Janae spared me that experience - I've never liked indoor sporting events and the noise level at youth basketball games is often louder than jet engines. Grandpa needed a break.

We relied on play station games, TV, pizza delivery and drive through service for most of the weekend except Sunday's BBQ which was awesome.

Since the kids go to a new school Monday morning was an adventure. I wasn't sure where the school was and the kids sort of knew where it was......somehow I managed to get them dropped off on time, with backpacks and lunch money.

My work is done.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Beach House A Go Go

On Friday I was supposed to have a 10am meeting and then hop on the I-15 for a trip to Mexico with my new adopted family the Zobrists. Alas, 10am turned into more like 130pm and we didn't arrive in Rosarito until 830pm but since arriving we have done nothing but laugh, eat, laugh some more, play golf, watch football and gaze out upon the ocean. I love Mexico.

The border crossing into Tijuana was pure chaos.

Lights blaring, cars everywhere merging into some 3 lanes. One can drive into Mexico rather easily - no passport check, just a wave and a nod, but coming back across? I'm sure that will be mess and require a xanax. We'll see.

Sure I've been down here before, but this time, spending more than just a 1/2 day, I feel like it's my new home away from home. Had the best taco ever - Yaqui's....the newer one. Apparently there was bad blood between the original owners and there are 2 Yaqui's right across the street from one another. Dining tip: Go to the joint where the people are congregated and not the empty place. We did. GREAT authentic dining experience. I could even hear the dogs barking and cats meowing in the kitchen...

Golf at Bajamar was interesting. The course was in fine shape and the greens surprised me by being in such good condition but the eery thing was this: we didn't see another golfer on the course the entire round. Even though Richie, Mark and I played so-so, we had a great time. The highlight of the round was the bobcat we saw not 50 feet from our carts.

He was hunting the quail that were munching on grass seed on the teebox. Not seeing the fowl, I screeched to a halt, the quail went scrambling and then the bobcat's head and shoulders rose up from the bush.....he was likely pissed that we spooked the quail into scampering away. He looked at us (meanwhile I calculated I could probably outrun Mark) and then we watched him jog off. That was a first. If Garth were there, I'm sure he would have whipped out his knife and gone for the kill adding yet another pelt for his wall.

The trip home was far more adventurous and entertaining. The living theater part was the 2 hour wait to cross the border. Peddlers were selling everything imaginable from authentic Mexican art (?) to authentic Mexican pinatas to food and drink. The trick is to not make eye contact with them or else you're toast. I kept my sunglasses on and stared straight ahead while listening to the Eagles-'Skins game on satellite radio. I'm not good at waiting in line so the 2 hours spent in traffic was akin to a death sentence and quite uncomfortable for me. In fact, my right ankle is sore from braking yesterday. After getting through that bottleneck, we stopped north of the border, near Temecula, and bought a bunch of fresh avocados, peppers and tomatoes to make some homemade guacomole for MNF. This time of year, life revolves around football, that's just the way it is.

The real fun was when we stopped in the middle of nowhere to switch drivers.....unknowlingly my phone fell out of the car, we drove forward 100' when I hollered, "My phone!" Sure enough, not only did I drop it, but we also managed to run over it. Crushed. All this while I was dodging Wal-Mart semi-trucks that were pulling up in the exit lane. Nuts. I shouted the obligatory, "*$()@#*#&$&@!" and after about 30 seconds of that, I was laughing. I just blamed Janae.

The tough part of replacing the phone is the hassle that ATT/Apple will give me. I usually have to make 2 or 3 trips in order for them to straighten out who exactly is supposed to sell me my phone, and then comes the setup hassle. Admittedly, I'm not a tech guy so reprogramming/uploading all my stuff will be stressful and laborious. Uggh....just the thought of having to deal with the ATT people.....Maybe I'll just have Janae do it....

Mexico was great. I even managed, fortunately, to handle the wait to cross the border without freaking out the border guard and requiring a full blown strip search.

Now that we'll be spending quite a bit of time down there....

....expect more stories.

Good ones.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Flying in 2010

Traveling by airplane in 2010 continues to be an adventure.

The corporate jet (Southwest Airlines) continues to be the best way to fly around the western United States since their schedules are so convenient. SWA has come a long way since the days of just lining up to be first on the plane. Boarding the aircraft has got easier and while it still resembles a flying bus terminal, the convenience cannot be overlooked.

Some observations.....

I was walking behind an older gentleman yesterday on the way back from Reno when he stopped and let out a huge marlboro-cured cough...

We all held our breath and turned away as we walked through the invisable mucus-nicotine cloud. Then came the shake down. Security. I usually mess this part up but the past few trips I've managed to strip down and get through without a forgotten belt buckle or gum wrapper setting off the metal detector. As I was collecting my stuff, an elderly woman was being put through the ringer off to the side. I thought, "Is this really the best use of our security resources?" This poor old gal was being turned around, patted down and her carry-on was being searched. I say again, "When was the last time a plane was hijacked by anyone other than Muslim extremists?" Yeah, profile THOSE guys. I have no problem with that.

The boarding area is also pretty cool. You have a literal smorgasborg of people coming and going. Cowboys, hippies, bikers, biker chicks, businessmen, tourists, youth groups, female softball players and jokesters like Jake and I who can't keep our mouths shut and run commentary on the living theater going on all around us.

Some rules and observations about flying in 2010:

1. Respect the aisle and window seat people. They either paid for or were sharp enough to get an 'A' or 'B' boarding pass. Middle seat people need to keep their knees and elbows to themselves - no hoarding space over the imaginary line of demarkation. This can make for an unpleasant flight for window and aisle people.

2. Try not to cough your lungs up on the plane. Since we are all breathing the same air, I've found it impossible to hold my breath for the duration of any flight therefore please be kind to your fellow travelers inside the long aluminum tube. Same with sneezing - cover your mouth.
3. Not everyone has to stand up once the plane reaches the gate. We don't all leave at once. This leads to #4.
4. The people in row 11 get to exit the plane before the people in row 12. Hold your horses and allow an orderly exit.
5. Rolling of eyes is permitted when people try stuff their oversized carry-on into an overhead bin.
6. Dont' stop in the middle of the jetway to adjust your bag, purse or satchel....you will be overrun by the guy in aisle 12.
7. Why is it that my bags are always the last to appear on the carousel?
8. I like the way Southwest pilots make the turn and then hit the gas on takeoff. Other airline pilots seem to want to make the turn, come to a full stop, put their foot on the brakes and then gas it up.
9. The flight attendants on SWA are too cheerful.
10. Hour long flights always seem so much faster than driving but door to door, it's only about 1/2 has fast.

Had a great weekend in Reno and got to meet my granddaughter for the first time.

Can't buy that thrill.

Friday, September 17, 2010


I've been AWOL from my beloved golf for the past 2 months having played only 1 time in the past 60 days and that was a quick 9 hole jaunt.

The reason of course is that starting a new business requires 100% of my time however yesterday I was thrown into the mix again; a golf tournament with a lot of potential clients and some new friends I've met over the past few months. We had a great time and shot a 61 - finished in the top 1/3 of the pack. There were the usual scores of 55, 57, etc... that were immediately called into question by everyone who shot above that number. A 55 would require a birdie on every hole but one. Suspect? Yeah I think so. No matter, I had a great time, met some wonderful people, picked up some leads and got some much needed relaxation away from the office.

Our little Reese had her first checkup and she's slightly jaundiced but instead of using the lights, she just needs to get some sun. Some natural vitamin D ought to help her out. She's lost a few ounces since birth which is normal and the kids are dealing with the whims of a 4 day old baby. Oh how I don't miss those days!

As the HOA Prez I have my first homeowner issue. Apparently homeowner #1 washed paint and drywall mud in his front yard....it ran down the gutter and pooled in front of homeowner #2's house....this means that everytime they drive into or out of their home, they get white paint/plaster on their tires which treks onto our newly redone streets, into their garage and, holy smokes, into their house.....So now I have to go and bust the balls of homeowner #1 in a nice way and tell him to get his mess cleaned up. We'll see how this goes over.

The best neighbor dispute was at my previous residence. We lived at the end of a cul-de-sac next to a postal worker for about 8 years. As an alltime dog lover, our pack of dogs, 2 chocolate labs (Woofy and Digger), and our Rotty (Roxy) would love to howl at the sounds of fire truck and police sirens. They would also occasionally bark - like dogs will do. This would drive my neighbor crazy to the point where he would put nasty letters in my mailbox. On weekends, after drinking, he would rip branches from our trees that had crept over on his side....our poor trees. He would then toss the branches back over the fence in a drunken heave/fart. Hilarious. Janae would bake him cookies and apologize. Me? I wanted to duke it out with the guy. In fact, on many occasion I felt the strong urge to call people out, even family members, but Janae would always be the voice of reason. Me? Not so much.

Work is going better than expected although the stress of putting business on the books each month will probably never fully go away - it never did before so why expect anything different?

Golf? Now that I got a little taste of playing again, I'll be out tomorrow for sure. And Saturday/Sunday/Monday football? A new grandbaby?

Life is good.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When We Were Young

I have been remiss in attending to my blog. Starting up a new business and the drumbeat of a new granddaughter will do that to you.

I'm happy to report that our first granddaughter, Reese Elizabeth Runyon, was born on September 13th at 12:20am. Hello World!

Of course once a baby is born, everyone, especially the women in the family, gets all jazzed up and out come the old scrapbooks and photo albums to see who the baby resembles.

Guys are different. We tend to think that most babies look the same when asked "Who does the baby look like?" Then go on about our way.....usually back to the game on TV.

My granddaughter has, to this point, 30 pairs of shoes. This is interesting to me since she obviously can't walk. Style points for babies cannot be discounted. I understand a women's need to have their baby, their little daughter, dolled up and dressed to the nines all the time. I guess most guys can appreciate this fact but left to our own resources, babies whould look more like Bam Bam from The Flintstones.....a diaper being the only required piece of attire from birth to age 3 or whenever potty training is complete.

Admittedly, I look forward to seeing my little grandbaby all decked out in matching shoes, dress, a bow and whatever else girls wear at that age. Girls are utterly new to us having raised only boys. The learning curve is short though - we love our little Reese so much and I can't wait to hold her.

I came across photos last night of when I was a young man, holding Alec right after he was born. I know that he too will look back in a quarter century at the photo of he and Reese meeting for the first time.....what a great experience.

Alec and Reese - 2010

Alec and Keith - 1986

Alec and Keith - 1987/First Steps

Further proof that youth is wasted on the young is that Alec attended to his wife and daughter, grabbed a few hours of sleep, and then took a med school exam at 8am the very same day. Ah, the beauty of being young, in love, and with your entire adult life in front of you. I think we can all recall those wonderful, spirited, and carefree days of our romantic youth....enjoy them Alec and Tiffany, they go by fast.

Too fast.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Dead Zone

We're nearing the end of "The Dead Zone." This is the annual period of time where little or no meaningful sports takes place.

The Dead Zone pretty much ends when the traditional school year begins. Children going back to school. Parents are gleefully happy to see the kids out of the house and out from in front of the television set they have stared at for 3 months eating cheetos and drinking soda pop yet at the same time freaked out that junior is now in middle school or high school. Been there done that. Our sons are 23 and 21 and in medical school and college, respectively. We don't take pictures of them on the first day with new clothes on, hair slicked back, and toting new backpacks although I do miss the ceremony of those days....they went by so fast. Too fast. Like a once cute puppy growing into a monster pet chewing it's way through the house. It just happens.

A harbinger of the end of The Dead Zone is preseason football - it has been going on for 3 or 4 weeks now and the ONLY good thing about preseason football is that it means the real season is about to start.

Baseball's brutal 162 game schedule finally ends in a month and then we can all get stoked for the playoffs. Basketball is just around the corner; college hoops and the pros. The US Open tennis slam takes place now....It's like the planet is back on it's axis again. Oh, I forgot to mention hockey - it starts in a month or so.

Let's get down to the discussion of the proposed 18 game NFL schedule in 2011 or 2012 which is an increase of the current 16 game season. Players are complaining that it's already too long of a season. My response to that is simple: don't play then. There are thousands of athletes who would gladly put on the pads to play in the NFL. Going from 4 preseason games to 2 is fine for us fans and an 18 game regualar season would be awesome. Sure records will be broken by adding 2 more games but that same argument existed when the league went from 14 to 16 games some 30 years ago. That there may be a lockout next year is, frankly, freaking me out and it should freak out the players and owners too. If the players union and owners can't agree on a labor deal, then the future of the NFL and next year in particular is in jeopardy.

This Thursday college football kicks off. Jake and I love college football. We'll watch college football all day on Saturday and then watch the highlights at night until we fall asleep on the couch. College football don't have any preseason games and about the only way to make it to the national title game is to run the table - win all of your games. Until there is a college football playoff (PLEASE....in my lifetime), it's about the only way a team can be assured a crack at the title. Even then, like undefeated Utah and Boise State and Auburn of a few years ago found out, you need alittle luck on your side too.

The absence of a college playoff is astounding considering the revenue it would generate and that a true champion could be crowned and then the debate over who is better would finally be decided. This argument has been going on for years and will continue to go on.....sadly.

We've endured another Dead Zone. Let the games begin.

Friday, August 20, 2010

"Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)",

As a huge fan of music from the 1960's and 1970's I heard The Byrds "Turn! Turn! Turn!" this morning on the way to work and wanted to blog about the meaning of song to me. For those who don't know the song, the lyrics are noted below.

Suffice to say that in Las Vegas, the change of traditional seasons doesn't often allow the perspective that other areas of the country have - we don't go from steamy summers to crisp falls to winter wonderlands to spring thaws. For better or for worse, we live under a scorching sun 360 days a year and the heat that goes along with it. Our 10 days of winter ususally occur in January, following by a week of spring and 2 months of windstorms, then the heat sets in from April to November. Nice.

I am using the heat as a metaphor for absence of change that living in the desert brings. The subtle changes are just that - subtle, slow and often imperceptible to those of us who live here. That's why the song Turn, Turn, Turn had me humming it long after my radio had moved on to Peter Frampton.....

There have been some seismic life changes happen in our family over the past few months and just like the song says, there is a time for every purpose.

As I embark on a new business venture, I've left the weirdness of my past employer behind me. In the wake of that train wreck some relationships became collateral damage and were jetisoned but others were gained in the process. Alec and Tiffany have left Janae's (and mine) "Camelot" (Salt Lake City) and moved to Reno for medical school leaving friends and making new ones where his days are filled soaking up biochemistry, histology, and anatomy lectures that he loves so much. Tiffany is ready to bring their first child into the world within a month while our Jake-Jake is preparing for school at UNLV and to be one of the student team managers for the Runnin' Rebels basketball team that he loves so much. Janae continues to keep us all on track in her own wacky and wondeful way.

The song paints a picture of what life is really all about. Change. If you're not living, you're not changing (I just made that up, haha).

So read the words to the song and realize that stuff happens, shit happens, and then it starts all over again. Life is like that and that's what makes it so wonderful, sad, happy, funny, joyous, and fun.

Words-adapted from The Bible, book of Ecclesiastes
Music-Pete Seeger

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late

Monday, August 16, 2010

Med School

We attended Alec's white coat ceremony the other day at the Nevada School of Medicine. The cloaking of each student with the white coat symbolizes their entry into the medical profession. The next day Alec was vaccinating kids at a free clinic. Nothing like being tossed right into the frying pan - here's your white coat and stethoscope, go draw some blood and give out some shots.

One of his fellow students fainted while attempting to draw blood so that will be a fun memory......for the rest of his life.

The class is small - only 62 people which is great for the students. I met at least 1/2 that many Deans, Assistant Deans, and professors. I believe this is a good place for Alec. We loved the Reno area too. They live in Sparks which is 15 minutes and a world away from The Biggest Little City in the World. Rolling hills, the Sierra Nevada's to the west, a brilliant blue sky......just like watching Bonanza when I was a kid. The school has two new medical school buildings opening soon; one this month and one next year so the facilities are top-notch. He'll get to experience rural medicine in some small areas of the state and also spend a great deal of time in Las Vegas at University Medical Center which will be a circus - imagine the ER on any night in Las Vegas.....go ahead, think of all the crazy stuff that happens in this town....I can't wait to hear the stories.

The life experiences of the class of 2014 are so diverse; 28 languages are spoken, 19 lived abroad for a period of time, many served medical missions outside of the United States...a neat group of young people. All seemed excited. What a fun adventure lies ahead for each of them.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Runyon & Woodbury

Last week the Nevada DOI made us an official insurance agency.... so we got that going for us.....which is nice. Plus, we also got our name on the door, and on the building directory. No going back now.

Starting a company is an unbelievably tedious process but filled with comical moments, meetings with dozens of people (more comical moments), racing around town in 113 degree heat, and ordering everything from paper clips to office furniture to pizza....Finally, it's about time we got down to the real business of being in business and that is selling insurance. We are thisclose to that time.

I spent a few days in Oceanside but my head was in the surf thinking of all the stuff I needed to do. I spent some good time with the kids, daughter-in-law and wifey-poo before heading back to the circus.

Everyone is starting new stuff...

Jake got his official acceptance to UNLV so he's excited about that new adventure. He will be working as a student team manager for the Runnin' Rebels basketball program so he is more than fired up about that experience.

Alec began medical school TODAY so that is the continuation of his lifelong dream of becoming a surgeon. Their first day? Orientation and a trip to Lake Tahoe to bond. I'm jealous.

Janae as always is holding the fort down. I found it incredibly difficult while she was gone juggling all the things she does for our family from taking care of the 4 cats and 2 dogs to managing the people that come in and out of our lives each day. Man I was beat coming home from work only to have to do more work....and then find something to eat although my mom hooked me up with lots of good stuff.

We're all on a new journey of sorts and that has me mentally re-engaged. I'm excited for what is happening in the Runyon family....change is good.

Grandbaby #1 is due in 5 weeks....+/-

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

All In

The family is Oceanside as I sit marooned in Las Vegas. I'll be joining them in a day or two however there is a story to tell. There is ALWAYS a story to tell.

I quit my job on a Friday and started my own firm exactly 8 days ago. My business partner and I have used the analogy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid eluding capture many times since then to describe our predicament. The bandits were being chased by the law and ended up on a cliff with two choices: jump into the water or fight the army that was hot on their heels.

Butch Cassidy: Alright. I'll jump first.
Sundance Kid: No.
Butch Cassidy: Then you jump first.
Sundance Kid: No, I said.
Butch Cassidy: What's the matter with you?
Sundance Kid: I can't swim.
Butch Cassidy: Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you.
Sundance Kid: Oh, shit...

We jumped


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

"The Paradoxical Commandments" were written by Kent M. Keith in 1968 as part of a booklet for student leaders. _________________________________________

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Done Deal

Las Vegas to Salt Lake City and back in 27 hours and not a hiccup....unusual for me.

As previously reported, I was towing a trailer full of baby furniture and loot from the shower and returning with some furniture and odds and ends from our place in SLC.

Not only did I pull off this transportation feat, there weren't even any close calls or stories to tell. None. In fact, I was so tired on the drive up, I placed our lives and the life of my unborn grandchild in the hands of my daughter-in-law who showed her moxie by driving 80MPH while towing a trailer rated for 55MPH. She easily drove 1/3 of the way. Gutsiest move I ever saw. We love her.

The ride back was even less stressful - Jake and I loaded up on donuts, juice and diet pepsi for a true 'Breakfast of Champions' and sped back down the I-15 in record time for towing a trailer. This makes 2 speed titles in the past 2 months. For the record though, I'm done driving. I hate road trips. I'd rather go to the dentist - really.

So as the dog days of summer linger upon us, thoughts turn to Oceanside and sun-drenched days at the beach. I'm down for 2 weeks this year and am going to enjoy every minute of my time there. We return to North Coast Village after a year's absence. Last summer we rented a house just south of the pier - it was nice to be sure, but the absence of people on the beach made for lousy people watching. At NCV, we choose our spot for the week and camp out; the people watching is extraordinary and constant...sort of like living theater. It's better than the people watching in airports by far.

Since the dog days also mean zero meaningful sports, I've been able to dial in on some reading material I've wanted to get to and have been enjoying my iPad (aka Maxipad) although I do find it somewhat unwieldy in comparison to the Kindle for reading books. The Kindle is smaller and fits on one's hands better than the iPad but that's where the Kindle's capacity ends. Jake was watching the World Cup final on the maxipad during our drive to Utah. TV in the palm of your hand????? The apocolypse is near. What next? Flying cars?

Here at the house, it's an early morning and the Chief of Security (Ray Ray) is all wound up. A new dog in the neigborhood means a new sound for him to get all worked up about so the neighbors are being treated to a bark-a-thon at 7am. I'm sure they love it.

Alec and Tiffany move to Reno in a few days and Janae will fly up next week to help them unpack and get settled in. Seems like yesterday when the boys were in grade school and we were dropping them off at Derfelt Elementary School....Time marches on, things change. Accept it.

I like the quote, "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

So go out and live your life on your terms - it's the only life you have.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It Ain't Easy Being Me

The Story of Two Cities and Keith Towing a Trailer.

Since Alec and Tiffany are moving for medical school next week her baby shower was held yesterday in Las Vegas. My job was to rent a trailer to haul all the shower booty up to Utah. Easy right? Nope.

Baby furniture that had been ordered was also delivered here and needed to be in Salt Lake by next week so it could be moved to Reno the week after.

This is generally a simple task except that the second I become involved in anything even moderately complicated, the wheels sort of fall off.

The SUV has a tow package but since I don't tow anything these days and absolutely, positively hated, hated, hated towing the boat back in the day I really thought my "trucking" days were behind me once and for all. Nope.

Of course waiting until the last possible day to hook up the tow sleeve and wiring could be construed as procrastination on my part but not really. I mean I should have just been able to pop off the plastic cover, insert the ball and hitch and meet the fat guy at U-Haul. Nope.

Taking the plastic cover off was easy - took me two minutes. "Uh oh," I said. There wasn't an electrical hookup in sight. Okay....I found the manual which nowadays is about as thick as a phone book and went straight to the index, found "towing" and flipped to page 294 where I was told all sorts of things except for where the wiring coupling is. Meanwhile, it's 9am and already 90 degrees. I've been underneath the vehicle getting filthy and now I'm sweating profusely. Time to go to the dealership.

I pulled into the long service line and decided that since I'm me and don't wait in line, immediately pulled out in the exit lane, moved to the front of the line and said to the guy who was looking at me like, "Who the hell are you?" - "This will just take a minute." It wasn't like I needed an oil change or something. He barks at me to pull over so I threw the car in reverse and nearly caused an accident - horns blaring, tempers flaring....I managed to keep my cool. I told the guy my plight and within 5 minutes a mechanic had be all set up. Whew. Lexus rocks. On to U-Haul.

The fat guy wearing a belt and suspenders with short pants was my first clue something was amiss. Yes they rented U-Haul stuff but there were more like a storage facility. The rental stuff was a side-job for them. We located the trailer and I backed up precisely to the right spot, hopped out of the car, looked at the trailer hitch and uttered, "uh oh." The car has a round electrical coupling while the trailer has a rectangular one. "Hey Mike, you guys sell converters?" (me thinking this would be something that comes up frequently). "Nope." You have to get those at an auto parts store.

AutoZone, Las Vegas, NV.....the line of guys was 3 deep at each register and none of them looked like they were moving. All had assorted parts in one hand and were describing their folly to bored, poker faced clerks. This was going to take awhile. Of course I scrambled around the store trying to locate the part myself, but since this was probably the first time in 2 decades that I had been to an auto parts joint, mission failure was a given. After 15 minutes an older guy stares at me, looks at the inscription on my t-shirt "Varsity Physics" and repeats the slogan. I said, "Yup." As if this guy knew jack about the Haldron Collider. He hooked me up and there I was, underneath the car in the parking lot of AutoZone fiddling with an electrical coupler. I felt like a real car guy.....all the while laughing at my plight.

Back at the U-Haul, Mike was ready for me. In addition to the belt and suspenders, he now was wearing a back brace.

Hmmmmmmnnnnn....I thought to myself.

Apparently it takes two guys to lift the hitch up and manuever it onto the ball. Heavy sucker. I looked around for the other U-Haul guy.... and it was me.

We heaved on the count of three and managed to hoist the hitch onto the ball.....as I felt the discs in my lower vertebrae; L-4 and L-5, pop out. Ouch.

As with any towing job, the attempted coupling didn't take. Mike thought the ball was too big and I'm thinking, "Isn't there just one size ball man? Why is this so damn complicated?"

I said to Mike, "Just jump on the thing and it'll go in." We used to do this all the time with the boat and it somehow worked.

Mike did as he was told and voila, success. We had a coupling. Now I just had to drive around not forgetting I was towing a trailer. I went to the baby store to pick up the furniture, even making some U-turns and was back at the house to accept hugs and kisses from the women in my life. Apparently this sort of thing for a guy - going to multiple shops, making multiple trips, and in sum, going that extra mile - is a rare feat and is rewarded appropriately. Guys usually quit once we find out we have to do more than the absolute minimum. Frankly, I had no choice.

Right now the trailer is parked in the front, ready to go on a journey to Salt Lake City and back over the next two days. Baby stuff moving north, furniture and stuff coming south.

This story isn't over yet. I have 900 miles of danger ahead of me.

Expect an update on Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thought for the Day

Two Wolves - A Cherokee Parable

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life.

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego. The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too.

"The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old chief simply replied, "The one you feed."

Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July 2010

4th of July is always a great holiday.

We always throw a pool party and at any given time there are at least 20 kids under 7 years old racing around the pool, eating and doing all those things we were told we couldn't do when we were that age.

Remember the 30 minute rule? Moms told us that we had to wait a half hour after eating before jumping in the pool. I remember quite vividly that I used to time my re-entry to the 29th minute and 59th second.....stupid. I let my kids EAT in the pool. Never hurt them or the pool.

Last week Jake and his friend Adam took the turbo on a high speed illegal fireworks run to the Moapa Indian reservation. Here in Nevada there aren't any forests or trees that can burn but our fire department won't allow decent fireworks - just those little sorry-ass fountains, sparklers, and assorted other "safe" fireworks. We court danger thus Jake's mission was to head north about 50 miles to Indian Country where they sell the good stuff.

Since we took all the Indians good land I guess it's okay that we let them make some coin selling otherwise illegal fireworks, discounted liquor and cheap smokes. If you think the land in Las Vegas is bad, you should see the land we traded the Indians. I'm almost ashamed. I mean, they can't even grow corn or tobacco out there.

Firecrackers? Ha. We got bags of M-80's and found if we tied a bunch of them together we could replicate a low-grade dynamite explosion.

Next up is mixing it with ammonium nitrate - I'll report back on that next year. It's okay, I'm the HOA president and if we blow up the street, so be it. Yes, I am also 49 years young.

Once the sun went down, some of the women were freaking out about the fireworks - they just don't get it. Guys like to blow shit up. Future doctor Alec was ordered by me to not get close to the explosions but that didn't take. He and Jake engaged in a spirited Roman Candle assault on one another. Funny. Until someone gets burned. We had dogs in neigboring zip codes running for cover with our awesome aerial fireworks display. Awesome. Next year I am ordering direct from China.

With all the kids in and around the pool, jumping off the superstructure, careening around on the rope swing with marshmellow sticks dipped in chocolate in their mouths, and all sorts of fire and ash swirling about during firework hour only one kid got hurt. He wasn't really invited so I don't count that. If we get sued, then I'll counter sue for trespassing and other egregious behavior - I'm not gonna lie, the kid was sort of bratty. Jake agreed.

Alec and Tiffany spent the weekend with us after their week at the beach. Tiffany's baby bump is out to.............here (see below - she's in the middle with two other prego family members :-)

The boys and I played golf today and enjoyed a spirited father-son-cousin-uncle 5-some at Canyon Gate CC. We flew around the course in 3 1/2 hours and got back home for more pool time and to stuff our faces with more food.

Jake and Alec

Also happy to report that Jake didn't whack any fowl - he's usually good for knocking out a pigeon, duck or goose on any given golf outing...unintentionally of course. He was just bad. Now, he outdrives me and shoots a pretty decent game. Way to go Jake!

Of course it's not all about the parties. We celebrate our independence from England and all the nasty taxes they imposed on us.

Sort of like now.....seems like another revolution is in order.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's Over

Just like that, the World Cup is over....for me anyway.

I was chided by friends and family into supporting "The Beautiful Game" and I did. I learned the rules, watched the games, and even knew some of the players names....but like a cruel girlfriend, all of a sudden, it was over - Team USA lost to Ghana and dreams of a WC were shattered.

Admittedly, I find soccer a tough sport to watch however the momentum of the US team compelled me to always excitedly ask Jake, "When is the next game?" and adjust my schedule accordingly. Now that the USA is out, albeit with a respectable showing, thoughts turn toward the dog days of summer (named as such not for the stifling heat but rather the phrase describes the constellations canis major and canis minor that dominant the nighttime sky). Such days are filled are with baseball highlights, vacation to do lists, and putting up with the heat any way I can.

So far this summer has been uneventful - quiet. We plan to spend two weeks in Oceanside as always in late July/early August. We escape the heat to hit the beach and make some fun memories although since we've been going to Southern California each summer for 15+ years now, the trips all sort of blend together. Actually, that's not accurate; there is the young kids version, the teenage years, and thers grown up years.

The Young Kids Years were comical. I would lug so much gear out to the beach each morning that I would be cranky and sore all day long. Such trips included memorable events like day sojourns to Sea World and San Diego Zoo. Alec and Jeff's unforgettable "duck taping" back in Del Mar in '94 and countless other memorable days building sand castles, tossing the frisbee, boogie boarding and snoozing on the beach.

The Teenage Years were also quite funny - to me anyway. The boys slept alot, did the quiet teenager gig pretty well, and were moderately talkative. There were many friends who joined the trip during these years and our grocery bill was so high I demanded social security numbers from the boy's friends so I could claim them as dependants for tax purposes.

The Grownup Years were bittersweet. We havent' all been at the beach together in 5 years since the boys served back to back church missions in faraway lands. Alec was in Peru for 2006 and 2007 while Jake served in Ecuador during 2008-2009. We'll rendevous as a family again in 2010 but will miss Grammny for the 2nd straight year. In 2007 we added Tiffany to the family and in 2010 we'll welcome a granddaughter in the fall. Future years will only bring more people and more memories.

After the beach Alec begins medical school on August 9th - my father's birthday. We are attending his White Coat Ceremony on the 13th where he is bestowed the traditional garb of a doctor. I think he wraps a stethoscope around his neck for the rest of his life during the first week as well.

These are exciting times.

Countdown - 28 days.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Great Month of Sports

Lately we have been blessed with a plethora of excellent sporting events; The recently ended NBA Finals and NHL Finals were some of the finest series competitions in years....but let's not forget about golf, tennis AND the World Cup. Aside from the NFL season, this is arguably the best few weeks in sports.

I know, I know. In my last blog post I just trashed soccer however last week my sons and nephews explained the genius of futbol (soccer) and how the world cup works. After this indoctrination, I have a better understanding of the game but still reserve the right to disparage it due to the lack of scoring and screwball referees.

In the game against Slovenia, Team USA came out flatter than a day old open bottle of 7-Up. They managed to tie the match at the 80 minute mark and then kick in one more goal to go up 3-2 but wait......while 2 of our guys were mugged on the penalty kick, the ref from Mali waived off the goal without offering up an explanation. That's the sort of crap one would never see in an NFL game. Baseball yes (See: No-hitter/perfect game fiasco last month). Corrupt/incompetent refs are rampant in the sport so it has a ways to go before it climbs up out of the gutter.

There was no doubt that hockey and basketball finals were the best in years. Can you think of 2 more blue collar cities than Philadelphia vs. Chicago in hockey? Or two more storied franchises playing for the Larry O'Brien Trophy in the NBA? What a treat. I'm sure that the Flyer-Blackhawk series set a record for sausage and beer consumption. Pipefitters local #185 vs. Pipefitters local #203 while LA-Boston is, well, LA-Boston.

The end of these series set the table for the 2nd best golf tournament in the world to be played on the world's 3rd best golf course (behind Pine Valley and Augusta, respectively). The US Open is the finest test of golf on the planet. Deep rough requires accurate tee shots and precision iron play. The fastest greens this side of the Old Mississippi, the Old Girl, make pros often look like 30 handicappers. The course designers also have a few tricks up their sleeves for the weekends that make it great way to spend 4 days perched in front of the tube while sneaking in a round or two of golf on our own. Thank goodness for Tivo.

And when the golf ends later today, The Championships (Wimbledon) commence tomorrow. It just doesn't end. Two weeks of outstanding tennis will essentially begin with Father's Day festivities and then wind up with the countdown to Oceanside and the first time the family is all together since 2005. O-side this year will be a big deal.

And so the summer of 2010 will pass by in the blink of an eye even though it hasn't even officially begun yet.....where does the time go?

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup Kickoff

Today the world cup kicks off.....literally.

I just don't get the world's fascination with "The Beautiful Game."

South Africa is hosting the event and festivities are rampant.... it's a combination of Mardi Gras meets Carnival meets Running with the Bulls with 40% of the fan base being gang members or as they say in the UK, hooligans. You KNOW there is going to be some nefarious, comical, and utterly stupid behavior by fans from all over the globe.

I've always had trouble with soccer. Here are ten of my concerns and as one to not simply criticize and throw my hands up in the air, I do offer a solution to the issue.

Here goes.

1. There isn't enough action. They guys run around like the keystone kops chasing the ball, and if we're lucky, it's a 2-1 game.....after 90 minutes of playing.

As a relunctant coach (nobody else volunteered) of many a youth soccer seasons, our games would end up 7-5 or 10-8.

In one memorable game we were down something like 8-0 in the first half, I ran out to see if the goalie was okay since he was just being pummeled and he lit up and said with a huge smile that was missing some teeth, "Coach, today is my birthday." I hugged him. We got smoked that day, but I'll never forget that kids comment.

Solution: Use a larger goal.

2. The Beautiful Game's timeclock is subject to interpetation by the referee. When the clocks strikes zero (0:00) the game should be over. In all timed sports this is how it works. In fact, in the NBA referees huddle together over last second shots to ensure they left the shooters hand before the buzzer went off. Precision.

This sort of clock tomfoolery allows The Beautiful Game a few minutes or so of drama since no one, at least me, has any idea how much longer the ref will allow play to go on. I'm told, "Well, you have sort of an idea." Me? I need a clock that ticks down to zero.

Soution: If there is a penalty or an injury, do what other sports do, STOP THE CLOCK. What a concept.

3. The card stuff. What's a yellow card for? A red card? Are these like fouls in basketball? Are players fined, suspended?

Solution: Use a box like hockey.

4. Do all UK teams play with beer on the sidelines because they look like they do.

Solution: None needed.

5. Single elimination? Double elimination? What's the damn format? In the NFL you lose, you go home. Soccer? World cup soccer....I have no idea.

Solution: Single Elimination

6. Does the USA have a snowballs chance in hell to win this thing? Because if they lose to England on Saturday (see even I know the schedule), viewship will go down like 90% since Americans own the most television sets. It's true, look it up.

Solution: No idea.

7. How come soccer players can play for multiple teams in multiple leagues all the time? Take David Beckham for example. He plays for the LA Galaxy and is paid a princely sum to do so, however on occasion he is "loaned" to another team in Europe. He also plays for the English National Team. To me, this is the equivalent of Peyton Manning playing in the NFL, opting to leave for a week or so to play in the arena league. Quirky or is that just me?

Solution: Play on one team and your national team like the hockey guys.

8. The fans are fanatical. I recall a goalie giving up goal once and he was later killed by mob of followers. Clearly the IQ level of most soccer fans falls far below that of hockey and MMA fans. I said most.

Solution: No idea.

9. The slave labor thing. 70,000 construction workers who were supposed to be working on the new stadiums walked off their jobs on 8 July 2009. The majority of the workers receive R2500 per month (about £192, €224 or $313), but the unions allege that workers are grossly underpaid.

Solution: Move the games to a country where wages meet or exceed cost of living. (I sound like a liberal....hehehe).

10. And finally, in the words of the immortal Duane Thomas, "If it such a big deal, how come they (only) play it every 4 years?"

Solution: If it is such a big deal, play it every year.

I rest my case.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Summer Place

Now that the heat in Las Vegas has finally been turned on and we've hit 110 already the pool electrical system decided to go on the fritz. The unit controls the pumps, the heater, the fountains, the lights and where the water circulates to keep everything sparkling clean without manual manipulation....it's a cool and useful and utterly necessary to keep Chez Runyon in tip top condition.

Our backyard is sort of a Shangra La - big pool with rope swing and superstructure, little pool and 28 person jacuzzi. The eating area is complete with outdoor fridge, BBQ, plenty of seating and what not. It is THE party yard.

A pool malfunction therefore is troublesome.....disasterous even.

You need a pool out here or else it's possible to drop dead from heat stroke or simply catch on fire if you stay outside too long. Yeah, it's that hot....like seven inches from the midday sun.....

Some history....The guy that did the orignal electrical work 7 years ago is the brother of a good friend. I'm still not sure if the brother knew with 100% certainty what he was doing since during the install he was always talking on his cell phone and would disappear for hours during the day. I also think he was colorblind which didn't help with the wiring.

My suspicion was confirmed since each time I've had someone come out to fix something and as they take off the outer panel the first thing they all do is place their hands on their hips, then scratch their heads and mutter, "WTF," while yanking at wires and swearing under their breath.

Me? I just peer out the window and see dollar signs....$$$$$$

And then race back to my office to pretend I don't know what's going on. This is usually followed by a knock on the door a few minutes later that Janae answers, then a loud, "KEITH!!!! The pool guy needs to see you," follows.

"Uh oh.....(profanities)"

This time we had a pool light out and the pool filter pump wouldn't turn off - it just ran 24/7. The only way to kill it was to flip the circuit breaker to off which I was concerned would turn off the power to the entire house since the wiring was sort of....what is the politically correct way to say this....., "jerry-rigged."

Luckily, the filter pump was an easy fix for an experienced electrician - something about a new relay switch (no idea what that is).

All I know is that it took him 15 minutes tops and now my pool runs on schedule and doesn't burn energy all day long (when I would flip the breaker and forget to turn it back on for a few days I felt all green inside but on the other hand, the pool would literally turn green - either way, it's a pain in the ass). I'm not a "green" guy anyway. I like my styrofoam. No dishes to do.

The pool light is a different animal. We have special lights that can amazingly turn the pool water into various colors (it's a woman thing). These "SAM" lights run about $800 bucks a piece installed - I have 4 of them. When two of the lights went out last year, we called the orignal electrician who managed to replace the lights over a period of about 2 months - some 1 month and 29 days longer than usual. Once replaced, they never worked properly and flamed out right off the bat - the gaskets weren't sealed properly. The guy was on his cell phone most of the time doing this job too and I'm pretty sure that he left a cell phone INSIDE the light fixture. In fact, I think he also swam WHILE talking on the phone. Trouble in river city.....

So I called in the Cavalry, a professional electrician, and he was able to fix the problem in a day. Two were fixed, two were still holding on.

The current light problem was due to the gasket leaking. As a guy, I'm used to just letting things go until the wife decides it's time to fix whatever is wrong. The problem I faced was this: pool+water and electrical = problem....not a good combo so I had to get on it. The light was removed, opened and we stared at it to look for signs of rust and whatnot. Pool guy elected to leave the light out in million degree heat to thoroughly dry out (my idea too) and then we'd see if just replacing the bulbs would do the trick versus replacing the entire unit.

Next day, I meet the guy at the house. Apparently cooking the lamp on the deck for 24 hours dried out the fixture and new bulbs did the trick - they were only $75 each (!?!?).

Just when I thought we had the pool problems licked, the lights flipped on at dusk....

....and now the spa light doesn't work.

This. Is. My. Life.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Who Knew?

For the past few weeks I have been getting up around 4am, reading, and the heading off to the gym to work out with my brother Eric.

This is a very odd mid-life development.

For the past 30+ years, I was always a night owl usually staying up until well past midnight. In my college days I didn't dare take morning classes since I'd sleep through them. I didn't much care for afternoon classes either since I'd be skiing or playing golf....and evening classes didn't fit my social schedule so I was scrambling around trying to make it to class or copy notes from some cute girl. Hey, I graduated okay - barely. Last I checked, my degree didn't list the total number of absences so I got that going for me.....which is nice.

Anyway, back to this 4am thing.....I wake up with more energy now than since I was in high school and all that testosterone was just starting to coarse through my body.

But 4am?


Some obeservations about that hour of the day:

1. The sky is beautiful, the air crisp and the smell of spring is abundant - even in Nevada. Granted, the now pungent flowers will all flame out once the 100 degree heat hits in a few days (and stays for 4 months - but it's a dry heat - haha) but right now, at this moment, it's pretty neat. We even have a hummingbird nest going up in the secret garden area of the yard.....2nd year in a row now.

2. No one is on the road. I even beat the newspaper guy. I really don't read the newspaper since every bit of news and information is available online, however the paper people are sneaky - they just keep renewing my subscription automatically and I never find their phone number to cancel the delivery - I'm killing trees and everyone knows what an enviromentalist I am. Each morning when I see the weeks pile of newspapers stacked up I say, "Damn, I gotta cancel that subscription."

3. Working out is fun. Really it is. Once you get over the soreness of the first few workouts, the routine gets easier. The day after I hit the gym it felt like I was run over by a truck. I have this penchant for always going full speed and acting like I'm 20 years old. I'm told I need to "take it slow," and "work yourself up slowly." Slow is not in my vocab. It just isn't. Therefore I suffer from my overzealousness. In everything.

4. What started the 4am wake up? Dunno. Maybe it's a sign of middle age. My father would arise well before dawn each day and hit the ground running. Me? For most of my life I stumbled out of bed, stumbled to the john, stumbled to the shower and so on. I had a horrible time waking up and staying alert. Now, not so much.

5. Getting up early is not without problems however: What does one do between 6am and 7am? It's not like I can go to work at 6:30am and beat everyone in by 2 hours. I can't go back to bed since that will screw up by circadian sleep rhythms. I figured I can blog since blogging is my outlet for all that right and wrong in Keith World. My blog is my journal and one day wifey-poo will take all the posts from all the years and have them bound into a book so that my posterity can read of my escapades. I'm sure it will make for good bathroom reading material.

6. I am back to being Yard Rambo. Sure Super Pedro takes care of the yard but even he misses some things, plus I enjoy planting flowers, weeding, and tending to my garden patch of tomatoes and strawberries. This is my 2nd go around at a garden - last year we did okay but I'm thankful for Von's Supermarket being close by since I would starve if left to my own devices to feed myself and my crew. I was born in the right era.

7. Even the dogs aren't ready to get up and get after it. Zeus and Ray-Ray usually like to get rousted from their kennel at 8-830am but with my new schedule, I get them up earlier - 7-730 now. They look at me like, "Hey man, what's the deal dude?" They do their business and go back to bed - a dogs life. Not bad.

The new schedule is agreeing with me. Somehow, going to bed earlier hasn't been a problem and waking up is a breeze. Utterly amazing to me - a 180.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Greatest Generation

Today, on a bright blue cloudless Nevada day, we journeyed to The Boulder City Veteran's Cemetary about an hours drive from our house and gave a loud shout out to the deceased Veterans of the United States of America. Janae, Jake, my mom, my brother Eric and I made the trek and had an incredible experience.

As usual, for Memorial Day, a flag decorates the grave of every serviceman and woman. It is quite a site to see so many flags on display - makes the hair on your neck stand up to see the flags rippling in the wind while listening to Battle Hymn of the Republic and God Bless American rumbling over the loudspeakers. Chills. Are YOU feelin' it?

My father's burial marker like all in this particular cemetary is made out of brass. Years ago, my mother figured out that spraying the marker with WD-40 brought back the luster of the plaque and made it look brand new.

Nerdy I know.

Each time we go to the gravesite, you can bet that we have a can of the stuff in the car, along with flowers, and other decorations mom wants to use to dress up the gravesite. Mom is nothing if not efficient. Dad probably just wants us to pour suds on his grave.

Going on Memorial Day is a treat. The parking lot is always full and cars must park on the adjacent streets. It's almost like a festival and the atmosphere is extremely patriotic - people wearing red, white and blue....bikers in battalion leathers, youth groups in matching t-shirts, serious and stern young ROTC cadets, widows and widowers of every race and faith but Americans to the core.

After spending time at dad's gravesite, saying a family prayer, and my reading the poem, "Freedom Isn't Free," I wandered over toward the memorial area that honors each branch of service and witnessed a moving sight: An aged veteran soluting the granite monument that was erected as a tribute to the branch of service he served in so many, many years ago.

Seeing this old man nattily dressed in a brown suit and red, white and blue tie, proudly wearing a cap that beared his many medals and service pins was a deeply moving experience for me. I went up to him and shook his hand to express my gratitude for him and all of those men and woman of "The Greatest Generation." If not for these men and women we'd be speaking German or Japanese right now.

He was appreciative of my words and kind beyond belief. I was mesmorized by the story he began to tell..... It seems that this old veteran, hearing aids no doubt turned up to their maximum volume, hands shaking, his body weight supported by a cane was THE benefactor of the Boulder City Veteran's Cemetary.

The guy I was speaking to was Ken Brown. The same Ken Brown who bought and gifted the 83 acres of land to be used solely as a cemetary for veterans and their spouses back in the late 1980's. He'd made his money in real estate and when he learned that this piece of land was for sale, he went down the next day and bought it with the sole purpose of providing a Veteran's cemetary for Southern Nevada.

To spend even a minute with this hero would be an honor however he easily granted us some 15 minutes of his life telling stories of how the land purchase came about, the donation process, where his wife was buried in the cemetary (he knew the location by heart), his military service and how great a country America is. He became emotional speaking about the devastation of the recent oil leak in the gulf and how it affected the people living in the coastal region. I admired his compassion, was envious of his bravery, and was grateful for his courage.

By now I was completely in awe of this man - his stories, his bravery, his gift to the people of Southern Nevada, his service to his country and most of all, his honor.

This guy's DNA was made up of loyalty, courage, honor and guts. The marines credo is "Semper Fidelis," which means "Always Faithful." Maybe it's just me, but it seems like such conviction is lacking in the world today.

Where can we find such passion and commitment for our nation today? The republicans and democrats fight like children. Big business is as crooked as my drive on the first tee yesterday, and our government just keeps getting bigger, more complicated and more expensive. What's the solution?

I say we get some WWII vets in a room and let them figure it out.