Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2010 the year in sports in AZ

Oh what a difference the beginning of the year versus the end of the year makes in sports. In Arizona it's been a crazy ride.

In January we had the following:

  • Arizona Cardinals in the NFL Playoffs
  • Phoenix Suns making a run to the playoffs
  • Phoenix Coyotes on their way to 107 points and a playoff birth
  • Arizona Diamondbacks anticipation for a good season

Now in December we see the following:

  • Arizona Cardinals 3 - 9 (as of today)
  • Phoenix Suns mediocrity
  • Phoenix Coyotes making another run after a lackluster start
  • Arizona Diamondbacks making moves at the GM meetings and anticipation of a new Spring Training Facility and the All-Star Game

Taken one at a time:

The Cardinals first sign that things would not be the same was the retirement of Kurt Warner. This left the team in a quarterback quandary. Could Matt Leinart be the QB of the future? Who would the team sign? There were a few other players that let the team via free agency which hurt, but it seemed that the replacements could fill in fine. The team signed Derek Anderson to compete with Leinart for the starting job. The preseason came and the Cardinals offense was offensive. Leinart was cut and Anderson named the starter. Un-drafted rookie Max Hall and 5th round draft pick John Skelton were named the number 2 and 3 quarterbacks. It hasn't worked out for the Cardinals and the 3 - 9 record proves that.

The Suns had their own off season changes. Most notably the departure of Amare Stoudamire. This gave everyone the opinion that they would not be able to compete in the Western Conference. So far they haven't done bad, however I believe that they will fade as they rely too heavily on Steve Nash to be on his game every night. Can they make the playoffs? Maybe, but I wouldn't be surprised if they ended up around 10th or 11th in the conference.

The Coyotes had some changes, but nothing major. The biggest issue surrounding the team was who would step up and buy them. The NHL currently owns the team and if a buyer was found that would move the team then the fan base would deteriorate dramatically. That situation however seems to be getting closer to resolved. Nevertheless the team did not start out well. Then a hot streak in November and the Coyotes are starting to show the form that won over the fans. Hopefully they will continue to be strong and given head coach Dave Tippetts style they should once again make the playoffs. Here's hoping because there is nothing quite like the atmosphere of playoff hockey (and I want to go to a few playoff games again).

Finally the Diamondbacks have had many changes this past year. The team performed poorly during the season and the manager and GM were both let go mid-way through the season. Enter in Kevin Towers (former Padres GM) and Kirk Gibson as manager and things may get turned around. The trade of Mark Reynolds earlier this week and the rumored trade talks surrounding Justin Upton should have put everyone on notice that Towers will be taking this team in a direction that will (hopefully) build a winner. The D-Backs will be moving to a new Spring Training facility in Scottsdale this year and host the all-star game. The team needs to perform to show that these "perks" are warranted. I believe the players will respond, but whether that translates to success on the field is anyone's guess.

If the question "Which professional Arizona sports team would be the best in 2010?" was asked in January, I believe the answer would have been the Suns or the Cardinals. It's amazing to me that if it was asked now the answer HAS to be the Coyotes. Imagine hockey in the desert is better than football, basketball or baseball.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I am depressed. Yes I admit it. I don't know if I need medication for this bout of depression, however it could be a close call. You see yesterday morning FIFA announced the countries that will host the World Cup Soccer Tournament in 2018 and 2022. The USA bid for the 2022 games and my hopes were high that we would be awarded the cup. My 7 year old soccer son will be 18 in 2022 and it would be a great graduation gift to take him to some games.

Alas it was not to be. The 2022 games were awarded to Qatar. Now I'm willing to bet that most of you can't pick out the country of Qatar on a map even if it was written in 72 point bold font. The country is smaller than Connecticut, has one major city and only one "world class" soccer stadium. Oh yeah, did I mention that in June and July (when the cup is traditionally played) it reaches temperatures of 130 degrees Fahrenheit on a regular basis?The Qatar bid boasted of being able to build air conditioned stadiums that would suit the needs of fans and players perfectly. Of course anything's possible when you simulate it on a computer. Qatar has never qualified for a World Cup and now they have by virtue of being the host. My bet is they will be the second host nation not to advance to the second round (South Africa was the first in 2010).

FIFA has stated that one of its goals was to broaden soccer's appeal globally. Qatar they say gives them a chance to get into the Islamic world as well as the Middle East. Of course placing the tournament in an oil-rich country probably doesn't hurt. Not that I'm saying Qatar didn't buy the votes it needed to win, however they did play a very political game to get them.

I tweeted, facebooked, and plurked that the decisions for 2018 and 2022 were travesties. I still believe that to be the case. FIFA has become a political machine and is getting up there with the Olympics as far as how to host an event. Let there be no doubt this is NOT about the game, it's about politics. It's a shame that President Blatter can't take his own advice about sport that he stated in yesterday's awarding ceremony.

As for me? Well the depression will subside in a few months (maybe after the major soccer leagues in Europe come off their Winter break). But it will hit again in 2014, 2018 and 2022 as I think about what might have been. I mean could you imagine the look on an 18 year old when he finds out that he will be traveling the country to see the world's top soccer stars play in the World Cup?

The next three cups will be in Brazil, Russia and Qatar. Not exactly the kind of road trips that I would plan with my son. Although I did live in Chile for 2 years and know what to expect, it would still be hard as I don't speak any of the languages in those three countries. I will have to see what transpires, but the dream of attending a World Cup may have to wait until a tournament further out than 2022.

Of course it could be worse. I mean I could be English. The birth place of soccer was voted out in the first round of balloting for the 2018 cup. They haven't hosted a tournament since 1966. It seemed like the right time to bring football to its mother land. Alas again it was not to be.

The decisions by the voters at FIFA are hard to explain when you look at what has to be done in order to pull off a tournament the likes of the World Cup. Two countries that have the infrastructure, stadiums and fans (yes there are soccer fans in the US) were bypassed. This was done in order to give soccer a more "global" reach. Note to FIFA, you get global reach by attracting the fans to the games and to the TV. Host it poorly and watch the world move away. For soccer's sake I hope that Russia and Qatar can live up to their promises. I know England and the US can.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Short Story

“Where's all the meat?” I asked the butcher behind his counter.
“It's all back here, there's a new regulation that families can only get so much meat per day.” replied the butcher
“Is there some kind of shortage?” I responded.
“No, no shortage, only a new regulation by executive order. It came down late last night. We had to scramble since 2AM to get everything behind the counter.”
I sat there and thought this can't be happening. “So what do I have to do now to buy meat?”
“Well what's your name?”
“James Carnahan”
“Ok, let me look you up. Says here you are 45, your wife is 38 and you have children that are 12, 10, 8, 5, and 3 years old”
“Ok, based on the data we have you can buy 3 pounds of hamburger today”
“But I want chicken and I'm doing my shopping for the month so I need more than 3 pounds.”
“Sorry sir, but you can only get hamburger today and only 3 pounds based on your family data.”

I bought my 3 pounds of hamburger and headed home. I knew I was going to here it from my wife that I didn't get everything on the list. As I was driving home I wondered how we got to this point? I decided it started a few years ago when there was a push to reduce childhood obesity. The White House had decided to appoint a special committee to look into the issue and start formulating a plan to make (I prefer force) children to eat better.

The committee performed several studies and made several recommendations, however Congress took no action to legislate what children could eat. At that point I figured the issue was dead and that there would be recommendations but no legislation. Alas I was wrong. It seems that the President under pressure from his political base created an executive order that instantly became law in the country. The executive order was signed in the middle of the night and was to be enforced by 6AM local time the next day.

I went home and did what any other red blooded American would do. I got online and looked up the Executive Order. Sure enough it took about an hour and a half to find the text of the order (the government isn't known for its transparency after all). The text was as follows:

Distribution of Butcher Related Products to Families

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Purpose. Due to the inability of the American people to properly regulate their diet it has become necessary to enforce the distribution of butcher related products. This will ensure that we have a healthier population and therefore allow for America to continue in its greatness.

Section 2.Policy. (a) To achieve a healthier America, all places of business will now be required to limit the distribution of butcher products to American families. This will be accomplished by:

  • (i) Each family will be allowed to buy a certain amount of meat each day
  • (ii) Each family will be allowed to by the following:
    • Monday: Hamburger
    • Tuesday: Pork
    • Wednesday: Chicken
    • Thursday: Non-Chicken Poultry
    • Friday: Lunch/Deli Meat
    • Saturday: Bacon, Sausage, Hot Dogs, Bratwurst and other Sausage like meats
    • Sunday: No meat sold
  • (iii) The following schedule will be used to determine the number of pounds of meat that a family can buy each day:
    • Family of 2: half pound
    • Family of 3: 1 pound
    • Family of 4: 1.5 pounds
    • Family of 5: 2 pounds
    • Family of 6: 2.5 pounds
    • Family of 7 or more: 3 pounds

Section 3. Butcher Product Distribution Oversight Committee. The Butcher Product Distribution Oversight Committee is responsible for determining the formulas for product distribution. It will have oversight of businesses to ensure that the regulations described in this executive order. It has the authority to enforce the regulations through federal law enforcement if necessary. The committee will setup sub-committees as appropriate.


November 15th, 2010

Stunned, it's the only word that fits. With one stroke of his pen the President was able to limit my choices in the food I buy, how much I buy and when I can buy it. I wondered if this could be legal? I did my research and found that yes it is. Could it be challenged? Again the answer was yes? How to challenge it was the next question. For that I had no answers.

So what to do? Do I just accept the fact that this is the way it is? What could I do? Then I got distracted by “The Big Bang Theory” and Sheldon's relationship with Amy Farrah Fowler. Of course to put what I just read into physics I would be an object attached to another object on an inclined plane wrapped helically around an axis (translation: screwed).

Monday, November 1, 2010

The End is Near

The End is Near. I just know it. No, I'm not talking about tomorrow's elections and the possibility that there will be a GOP Tsunami. I'm talking of course about College Football.

The new BCS rankings have come out. And for the first time in its history there are three non-BCS teams in the top 5. The three teams are TCU, Boise State and Utah. I'm sure there are those at the BCS right now hiring computer hackers to infiltrate the computer systems. Others are probably bribing college coaches to vote the three infidels lower. Still others are probably scheming a way to ensure that this never happens again.

You see there hasn't been a non-BCS national championship team since 1984 when the BYU cougars went undefeated and took the top spot in both the AP and Coaches polls. Now there still may not be a non-BCS BCS national champion. However it looks as if nothing will stop TCU and Boise State (or Utah and Boise State more on that in a minute). Wouldn't it be something if we had Horned Frogs (or Utes) battling Blue Broncos for all the marbles? It would be a perfect end to the BCS.

There are three right now, however it can't stay that way. TCU plays Utah and the loser of that game is guaranteed to drop out of the top 10 and probably not even get a BCS birth. But hey, what's a little sacrifice to ensure the BCS doesn't get a BCS team in the national championship game?

Hopefully two of the three teams stay undefeated. It would be something if they were the only undefeated teams in the country and didn't get a chance to play for the national championship. That would cause weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth for sure. In fact I'm pretty sure if that happened the mood would turn to blood and earthquakes would abound. Of course that's all hypothetical speculation until it happens.

So the End is Near just so long as two of the three remain in the top five and possibly the top 2.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Case For God

So I was on a flight to Phoenix on Wednesday when I looked across the aisle and saw that the man across from me was reading “The Case for God”. The first thought that went through my mind was “There's a book I don't have to read”. Why you may ask? Well let me explain. . .

It happened about 24 years ago. I was a freshman in college and trying to figure out if the things that I had learned growing up in church were right and true. I was following a pattern that was promised to get me an answer. Basically the pattern is this:

  1. Study out the things you have been taught
  2. Have faith that God will let you know that these things are true
  3. Ask God to let you know if they are true
  4. God will answer your prayers if you have real intent and are sincere

A simple formula right? So that's what I did. I read and studied. I pondered the things that I learned to see if they felt right. Finally I came to a point where I needed to know if the things I had read and studied were true. I had a sincere to desire to know if God would validate this.

I was alone in my dorm room and took to praying. It was not a short prayer. I detailed out the things that I read and studied. I told God that they “felt” right in my conscience. I then asked if He would let me know that they were right.

It's hard to describe the exact feelings that came over me. The best way to describe it is that every part of my body felt joy and happiness. It was a complete feeling. A feeling of pure elation. When that happened I knew I got my answer. I knew God was there and listening. I knew what was right and true and that now that it had been validated by Him, I had a choice of whether to follow it or turn away from it. I chose to follow.

For me the case for God was made. I know that everyone's experience will be different. Some people may come to know that God is there and then choose not to follow up on it. Some will. For me? The choice was made simpler because it wasn't something I was told to do, but rather something I was given a choice to do. I don't need any more evidence than the personal witness I received 24 years ago.

Friday, September 17, 2010


There is a commercial out currently showing two High School Basketball teams playing in a championship game. There is a play where the ball goes off a player, but the ref misses it and gives the ball to that player's team. The coach calls time-out (it's near the end of the game and the team is losing) and starts to setup a play. The player whose hand the ball went off pipes up and tells the coach that the ball went off of him. The players start to give him a hard time. The coach to his credit tells his team to foul when the ball is put into play. As the team heads out the coach calls out to the player who is being honest and gives him the approval nod. The player then goes over to the referee and admits to the ball being out. The tag line is "Integrity. Pass it on."

Two days ago an incident happened in the Yankees - Rays game where integrity should have been shown. Derek Jeter with no one on turned to try and bunt for a hit. The pitch came inside. Jeter let go of the bat with his left hand (closest to the ball) and the ball hit the end of the bat. Jeter turns away and shakes his hand as if it's been hit and the umpire awards him first base. Now I won't go into the fact that the first base umpire should have seen the ball hit the bat and help the home plate umpire nor the fact that the sound of the ball hitting the bat was distinct from it hitting a gloved hand. What I want to focus on is the post game remarks of Jeter. When asked he stated that the ball hit the bat. Then he was asked about shaking his hand and admitted that it was vibration and "acting". Here is where Jeter damaged the integrity of baseball. Basically he cheated to win.

MLB has always talked about "the integrity of the game". Keeping that in mind, MLB should fine Derek Jeter for damaging that integrity. Also, in my opinion, they should suspend him for 2 games. MLB should send the message that its players need to have integrity. Jeter was also quoted as saying he wasn't going to tell the umpire about it because he didn't want to "change the call". To me it's one of the things that drives me nuts about professional athletes. The lack of integrity, the lack of admitting that something happened just so the call can go their way.

A better example is the PGA tour. The players call fouls on themselves. They also make sure that they do everything possible to have a game that is true to its core. It may cost them a championship, but we see it often. Imagine if this was true in the "major" sports.

I could go on about areas other than sports where we don't see integrity. However, I believe I will save those for another day.

MLB should punish Jeter for his behavior and serve notice that this type of behavior endangers the integrity of the game and won't be stood for.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

Today marks the 9th anniversary of 9/11. Today should be a day of remembrance for the terrible attack on New York City, The Pentagon and the heroics that happened on Flight 93. Today is the day we should put aside our political, ideological and theological differences. We should stand as one.

I remember distinctly where I was when news broke about the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. I was getting ready for work and had the news on in the bedroom. The pictures were unbelievable. It was hard to fathom that something like that could happen in our land. In the 20th and 21st centuries attacks against us have been rare. 9/11 and Pearl Harbor being the two we remember most.

Here it is 9 years later and it seems that the events of 9/11 have not kept us unified as a nation. We seem to be more politically divided than ever. Gone are the days when the members of congress would be seen singing "God Bless America" on the steps of the capitol. Gone are the days where the government would work together on a common goal. Today we should remember that time where it didn't matter if you were Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green, etc. We're Americans and we should all be working together to ensure that America stays the greatest nation in the land.

Those who lost their lives on that tragic day need to be remembered. They paid a price that no one should pay. They didn't even suspect that this tragedy would occur. There are protests planned for today on the site where these people lost their lives. Protests that are more politically motivated than remembering what happened. In some ways today is being hijacked again by those who want to use it for their own gain.

Today should be remembered for what happened and not used to further this cause or that. It should be remembered as a black day in our history when people who don't like our way of life and the freedoms we stand for took something away from us. It should be remembered so that the people who lost their lives won't have lost them in vain. It should be remembered for the heroes of flight 93 who did everything they could to ensure that another plane would NOT crash into a building. It should be remembered as a time when we came together as a nation even "One Nation under God" if you will.

Today is 9/11. What will you do to remember it and honor those whose lives were taken?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kickoff Pro Style

Tonight kicks off the NFL season. My Fantasy Football teams will now begin to accumulate points and try to defeat all comers in a race to claim best guess as to who will perform well this year. Of course things could be worse. . .

I met a fairy today that would grant me one wish.
"I want to live forever," I said.

"Sorry" said the fairy, "I'm not allowed to grant wishes like that!"

"Fine" I said, "I want to die after the Buffalo Bills win the Super Bowl!"

"You crafty bastard," said the fairy.

For those of you who don't know, yes I'm a Bills fan. I've seen it all except for that elusive Super Bowl win.

Of course I now live in Arizona which has seen its share of drama this year in training camp. First before camp even started Kurt Warner announced his retirement and left the starting job to heir apparent (or not) Matt Leinart. Camp started with four quarterbacks, Matt Leinart, Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall. It became apparent early that there would be a competition not only for the starting quarterback position, but also for back-up and third string.

Things got even more interesting when head coach Ken Whisenhunt decided to start Derek Anderson over Matt Leinart. Leinart's stay in AZ was all but done. Last week he was cut. The battle for backup QB was then down to drafted John Skelton and not drafted Max Hall. Max has been impressive throughout training camp and has won the job for now.

The Cardinals are the reigning NFC West champions and until someone takes it from them no one can deny it. It doesn't matter what the pundits say about San Francisco (really Greenburg SF to clinch in Oct?) it is Arizona's title and they will defend it. That said the NFC West is not the strongest division and probably a record of 9-7 or 10-6 will win it. Can you say wild card weekend? Personally I think the Cards will go 9-7 and win the West in a tiebreak.

In other exciting (or not) news, Brett Favre decided retirement should wait one more year and the Vikings decided that would be a good idea. We will see what happens tonight as the NFC championship rematch with the New Orleans Saints is the season opener. Darrelle Revis held out long enough to miss camp and then sign with the Jets. Albert Haynesworth found out that new coach Mike Shanahan wouldn't be a push-over. Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco will be running routes together (and in my opinion running into each other).

Overall it should be a good season. I predicted (optimistically) that my Bills would go 8-8. It means that there will be no playoffs in Orchard Park again this year. Hopefully progress. Not counting on it, I mean after all I am a die-hard Bills fan. Now to go find that fairy and get my wish. . .

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kickoff College Style

Kickoff of the college football season happened last Thursday and continued through last night. It was a crazy start to a crazy off season. I mean look at the following that occurred in the off season:

  1. The Big 10 became the Big 12
  2. The Big 12 became the Big 10
  3. The PAC 10 became the PAC 12
  4. BYU goes independent in Football
  5. Boise State and Nevada bolt the WAC for the Mountain West

Then kickoff of the season with two non-automatic qualifying schools ranked in the preseason top ten. Boise State and TCU both started the year with wins over BCS teams (VA Tech and Oregon State respectively). A FCS team, Jacksonville State, beat a FBS (and automatic qualifying BCS school) Ole Miss.

A crazy way to start. Now if you've followed my blog you know what I think of the BCS. Some of you know that I have also created my own system to rank teams. This year? I think I will sit back and see what happens with Boise State and TCU. If they both go undefeated will the BCS put them in the same BCS bowl game again? Or will they have the guts to put them up against the “Big Boys”?

My guess is that if both go undefeated and there are only three undefeated teams in the country we will see Boise State and TCU play in a non-championship BCS bowl game against each other. This means that a one loss BCS school will get into the national championship game and the debate will begin again about the system.

Yes, it's time to get fired up about the BCS. It makes for great debates and stupid comments. Logic goes out the window a lot of times (even in this blog I must admit). It's always fun to see the fanatics and argue the pros and cons (mostly cons in my opinion) of the system.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I know that the term "madness" is usually reserved for March, but I think that I can make a good case that the beginning of September begins madness in the Blinston household. So here I go:

First, Birthday season is upon us. Over the next five months all seven birthdays occur. For a quick schedule it goes like this:

  • September: Lia
  • October: Grace
  • November: Sam, Ellie and I
  • December: Levi
  • January: Cheryl

Of course that means we are all getting a year older and hopefully wiser. It also means birthday gifts and parties which as everyone knows can lead to madness.

Next up is all the activities that go on. For starters kids go back to school. We have a 4th, 2nd and 1st grader with Grace in Preschool. This means parent-teacher meetings, school events and homework. Yes madness ensues.

Of course school isn't the only thing going on. All the kids are in at least one activity. Here's the list:

  • Levi: Horse Lessons and Flag Football
  • Ellie: Dance and Piano lessons
  • Sam: Club Soccer and Music lessons
  • Grace: Dance Lessons
  • Lia: Tumble Class

Can you say scheduling madness? Of course we can. Every night of the week something is happening except for the weekend when games are played on Saturday.

What else contributes to the madness you ask? Well how about Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years? There's no madness in a family's schedule with four holidays in four months is there?

Ok, moving on from family more madness ensues when you consider the following:

  1. English Premier League Soccer kickoff
  2. College football kickoff (and don't get me started on the BCS and other news, that's for another post)
  3. NFL Kickoff (can you say Fantasy Football?)
  4. NHL Puck Drop
  5. MLB Playoffs and World Series
  6. NBA Tip-off
  7. PGA Fed Ex cup
  8. College Basketball Tip-off

No madness for a person who's a sports fanatic right?

Now throw in the service we give in our church and then activities that we want to do ourselves. Don't forget the full-time job I have with work and the full-time job Cheryl has at home (I'm still trying to figure out how she doesn't get paid more than me). I'm sure you'll agree that madness has occurred.

I'm not trying to take anything away from March, but you've got to admit that the Blinston household probably could give it a run for its money.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I've Been Trained

As part of my current work with the 14 - 16 year old boys I was registered as the Varsity Scout Coach. In order to be an effective scout leader one has to be trained. There are several courses online that can be taken, but the one that cannot is Leader Specific Training.

This training involves a day of "classroom" instruction and an overnight event. The "classroom" instruction started at 7AM on a Saturday morning and ended at 3PM. There was a "gathering" activity to start the day. It was tennis ball dodge ball. Anyone who hasn't played this version should try it. Getting hit with a tennis ball leaves marks and catching them is nigh impossible. Now imagine you have 50 guys between their late 20s and early 50s. Yes it was a riot.

Classroom instruction can get boring, however the staff did a good job of not letting it get too tedious. The instruction was basically about how the program is organized and how to get the boys to run it. You see in scouting the adult leaders should really be advisers and the boys should really run the show.

The overnight event was better than the classroom instruction. We arrived at the camp site and set up our tents (yes we slept in the great outdoors). There was a camp fire program where the squads (which were formed in the classroom instruction) were to announce their name, give a yell and then perform a skit. My squad was the "Barely Theres". Our yell:

Barely Theres are everywhere,
But wherever we are
we're barely there

Our skit involved four suckers, I mean volunteers. These were led away from the camp and told that the audience would be guessing what they acted out. The men acted out a World War II fighter pilot, a man in an earthquake, a contestant in a hot dog eating contest, and someone with ants in his pants. We led the volunteers away to give them their assignment. In the meantime the last of our squad was informing the audience that we all know how uncomfortable it is to do one's business in the woods. That the volunteers would be demonstrating how they cope with this when they come up. With that each volunteer came up and sat in a chair and acted out their part. It was hilarious to see them act. Of course at the end of the skit we informed the volunteers what was actually going on.

After the camp fire program we headed to bed as the morning was going to start at 5:30. At 5:30 the director of the program came around with a rendition of "Have I done any good in the world today?" off key and definitely woke the world. At 6:00 AM we had a flag ceremony and a small morning devotional where we learned a little bit more about the Star Bangled Banner. Breakfast was muffins, bagels, croissants, fruit and yogurt.

After breakfast we started our stations. The first one for my squad was Backpacking. We learned about what equipment was needed and how to pack them appropriately. We recently had gone backpacking with the boys so this was old hat.

Next was Geo Caching. For those of you unfamiliar with it, basically it's using GPS to locate specific coordinates where items have been placed. Yes it's a treasure hunt and something that can be done with the whole family. I brought our family's hand held GPS unit and learned a trick or two.

Third up was a review of the Mountain Man Rendezvous. This is a gathering where scouts get into period costumes and make artifacts from that period that can be traded with others. We saw things that were made such as knives, powder horns, pouches, coats, etc.

Lunch was then served. Each squad had a Dutch Oven recipe to make. Our squad made Hawaiian chicken and rice. A good recipe for sure. Lunch also included stews, cheesy potatoes, and desserts. All made in the Dutch Oven. All of it was tasty so each group did a good job (and believe me there was some worries about some of the squads).

Our last station was rappelling. I had never done rappelling before and it was only a 30 foot cliff so it wasn't that bad. Now, I have an initial fear of heights. Meaning I have to get over the first fear of the height and then I'm fine. So after I was clicked in and given the basics I started out. The others in the group gave me suggestions. About 1/2 way down the instructor had me bounce off the rocks and get moving a little bit. I have to admit it was a lot of fun and I look forward to being able to do larger rappels in the future.

The last part of training was a recap of what happened. It was a time to reflect on the training and how it will benefit the boys we are to advise. Our certificates were handed out and we were all proclaimed "trained".

All in all it was well worth the time. Now the tricky part is to get the training implemented with my boys. Probably not an easy task, but something that will happen. I mean after all, I've been trained.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What is Truth?

Today word came out that Fox News' parent corporation made large donations to the Republican Governor's association. The story also noted that pretty much all news media (CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, etc) have made political donations (mostly to Democrats by the way). It begs the question, do any of them report the truth or is it all slanted?

In church there is a hymn we sing called Oh Say, What is Truth? The last verse goes:

Then say, what is truth? 'Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o'er.
Tho the heavens depart and the earth's fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged evermore.

Unfortunately in this era of ratings and advertising the truth seems to be something of little importance to the "news" media. There is always a slant that misconstrues the truth and leans either to the right or left politically. It is a huge issue for those who are young and impressionable as they are easily swayed and can mistake the slant for the truth. For others it leaves a feeling of distrust and dislike leading to misconceptions and over exaggerations about the source.

So in this world of slanted news how does one know the truth? How can the truth be deciphered from the pieces that are given to us by those who are supposed to report the actualities of what is going on?

My answer? Read/view as much as you can and let your instinct (gut, spirit, whatever you want to call it) guide you. If it feels right, then it probably is. If it feels wrong, it almost definitely is. Don't be afraid to challenge premises and assumptions. Take off any colored glasses you may have on (which is very difficult to do sometimes) and look at things as objectively as possible.

So what can be done to make the news media report things without bias? The last thing I want is for them to be regulated and forced to do things. They should be doing things because it is the right thing to do. However, doing the right thing seldom makes money and let's face it, it's hard to do the right thing without cash.

So where does that leave us? Well it means that we have to be smart enough to see the slant to the story and look for the things that will lead us to more truth. That is not an easy thing to do. Also it takes time. Of course the truth is probably worth it in order to ensure that we don't get duped by those on either side of the political aisle.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I've Been Amused

Today we took our three oldest to an amusement park (Lagoon in Utah to be specific). It was a great time and the kids had a lot of fun. Of course when one goes to an amusement park, there are always things that amuse you more than the rides and other attractions. Today for instance before lunch I made the following three observations:

1. Some people need to be reminded that Frightmares (what it's called at Lagoon) is in October and not July

2. Teenage girls should not wear greet t-shirts that say "Rub For Luck" on the front of them.

3. People who are old enough to be Grandparents who have younger children SHOULD wear shirts that say "Yes, I am the Mother!" on them

Ok, in some sense I tend to mock people who wear tube socks for cover-ups or shirts that look like they've been modified by ripping to get that off the shoulder look. And believe me, there were plenty of examples of fashion faux-pas today that some of my social network pals could do "What was he/she thinking?" for months.

On the other side there were plenty of other people at the park who I admired. I saw at least three groups of people taking those who are mentally disabled on rides. Allowing these people the opportunity to get out and have fun in a great atmosphere.

I saw my own children helping other children get out of belts and harnesses at rides without even being asked. I witnessed courtesy in all its many forms. Politeness also made its presence known.

I saw families enjoying the atmosphere, food and attractions. All kinds of families were present, everything from new families just starting out to ones like ours where Grandparents to Grandchildren wore similar shirts to show family unity.

All in all I was greatly amused and hope to continue this 2 year tradition we have going.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

World Cup Quarterfinals

So I went 5 - 3 in my round of 16 picks. Not too bad. Obviously picking England and Portugal were risky. The US? Maybe I led with my heart a little more than I should have. BTW, the first Dutch goal was scored by Robben so I should get some credit.

Anyways, the quarterfinals start tomorrow. Again I am making picks so let's go:

Netherlands - Brazil: It's a shame they're meeting in the quarters. This is going to either be a super classic or a super stinker. I think both teams will go on the attack. The Dutch are probably the only team that can compete with Brazil in the midfield. Look for an intense game. I think this is going to produce the eventual champion. I'm going with an upset. Netherlands 3 - Brazil 2. Robben again the man to provide the Dutch spark.

Uruguay - Ghana: Probably the most unexpected match up in the quarters. Ghana showed a lot of heart against the US. Uruguay seem to be hitting their stride. I don't think Ghana can handle the combination of Forlan and Suarez. Another spirited game. Expect a lot of physical play and fouls to be committed. I'll take Uruguay to win 3 - 1. Forlan gets one on a free kick and Suarez scores the final goal on the counter attack.

Argentina - Germany: Call this one "Clash of the Titans". Another game to put in the "shame it's in the quarters" category. Argentina is still sore from the loss four years ago. Germany is looking strong. I expect to see Argentina on the attack with Germany on the counter. It's going to be low scoring, but I think this is the game that Messi scores and shines in. Argentina 2 - Germany 1

Paraguay - Spain: This is the "David vs Goliath" game in the quarters. Paraguay couldn't score against Japan, but hit every penalty. Spain played well and David Villa's goal was well taken. However, the Spanish did a lot of flopping and in a quarterfinal that won't fly. I don't see any way Paraguay can handle Spain's attack. Paraguay's keeper Villar will have to play on his head to keep this close. Don't expect that to happen. Spain 3 - Paraguay 0.

So there you have it. With the picks we will have Netherlands - Uruguay and Argentina - Spain in the semifinals. Of course I'll have a finals pick after tomorrow's games.

Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup Round of 16 matches

The first round of the World Cup has finished. Some surprises have occurred (are you listening Les Bleus and Azurri?). Anyways, tomorrow the 2nd round starts. I thought I would give my predictions for each of the games:

Uruguay - South Korea: Uruguay showed class in their group. South Korea was tenacious. Outcome? Uruguay 3 - South Korea 1. Forlan too much for the Koreans

USA - Ghana: Americans with a dramatic victory to get in. Ghana held on to advance. A physical affair. Outcome? USA 2 - Ghana 1. Dempsey and Altidore score on balls played by Donovan.

Netherlands - Slovakia: Dutch haven't peaked yet. Slovakia kicked out the defending champs. Outcome? Big Orange Machine 3 - Slovakia 1. Robben the play maker and scorer of the first goal.

Brazil - Chile: Brazil is the class of the tournament. Chile are gritty. Finesse against physical. Outcome? Brazil 1 - Chile 1. Brazil advances on penalties. Kaka man of the match.

Argentina - Mexico: Argentina are the 2nd best team in the tourney. Mexico played it's group well and helped to send France out. A spirited affair. Outcome? Argentina 3 - Mexico 2. Messi gets the game winner.

Germany - England: Germany started well, but fizzled somewhat. England fizzled but brought it when they had to. Probably the most interesting (or 2nd most) match. Outcome? England 2 - Germany 0. Rooney finally shows up.

Paraguay - Japan: Paraguay helped to send Italy out. Japan figured out the Jabulani. A toss-up? Bet on the South Americans. Outcome? Paraguay 2 - Japan 1. Paraguay presses and it pays off.

Spain - Portugal: Spain won when they had to, but haven't looked sharp. Portugal had a seven goal outburst. Most entertaining (maybe most interesting) match in this round. Outcome? Portugal 3 - Spain 2. Portugal scores in extra time. Ronaldo kills the Spaniards.

As a result? Uruguay - USA, Netherlands - Brazil, Argentina - England, Paraguay - Portugal in the quarter finals. Tune in for predictions once the quarters are set. Until then I'll be blowing my Vuvuzela.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup First Games

The first set of games for World Cup 2010 have been played. I have a few observations to share.

The first is the overall play of the first round was cautious. It had to be, teams can't afford to go all out and then lose on one counter attack. Some call this boring. However, in every other sport the first game (in American football it's usually the first quarter) is usually a feel out game. It takes time for the teams to understand what the other team is trying to do before taking chances. This was the prevailing mood in the first games. Germany seemed to be the only team to get out of the feeling out phase quickly enough to win by 4.

The most boring game of the first round had to be Portugal vs the Ivory Coast. Neither team seemed inspired nor willing to do what was necessary to score. Those two teams had better pick it up in their next game or they will be the ones left out of the group of death given the way North Korea played Brazil.

Surprises? North Korea holds Brazil to a scoreless half and gets a goal late to make the game respectable at 2 – 1. Japan beating Cameroon. New Zealand grabbing a late equalizer against Slovakia. And of course the biggest upset so far, Switzerland taking down Spain 1 – 0 (BTW, Casillas should have been booked for his reckless challenge just before Switzerland's goal).

Howlers? At least three of them by the goalies of England, Paraguay, and Algeria. In the first two it lead to the tying goal. In the last case it was the game winner.

The ball? I don't think the ball is the issue. Players not being in technically good position to hit the strike is more at fault. Look at the replays to verify this. Also, the players have been playing with the ball for a long time now, excuses are just that.

Officiating? I can't remember a set of first games where there wasn't at least one controversy. None so far. Let's hope that remains. Even today's sending off of the South African goalie can't be construed as a controversy.

Boring? Yes a couple of matches have not been entertaining. However, there have been enough games where the entertainment value has been high. There has been excitement in several matches and some have come down to the final minutes.

As the second set of games begins teams will want to win. This will produce better football and should also provide more entertaining games. Hopefully the teams I like will continue to play well (are you listening US and Chile?). After this set of games the picture will become clearer. There may even be some teams that will have clinched a spot in the next round.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Camp Beat the Heat 2010

And we're off. Camp Beat the Heat 2010 has officially kicked off in the Blinston household. What's Camp Beat the Heat you say? It's the summer time program that my wife prepares and executes while the kids are out of school. Here's the basic format:

Every week has a theme. Week 1's theme is Spy Week. This means that activities are related to things a spy would do. There will be mysteries to solve, clues to be found, and covert activities (such as providing a service to someone anonymously). Every day there is a schedule. The mornings are usually the same and go like this:

1. Bugle Call - A CD with music for Camp Beat the Heat is played to get the kids up and going.
2. Get Dressed, Clean Room, Do Morning Chore and present for Cabin Inspection. If Cabin Inspection is passed there is a prize from the Treasure box
3. Breakfast and Zone cleaning
4. Let the activities begin

This is the fourth year that Camp Beat the Heat has happened. The kids get excited about all the activities that happen. It is a time to spend together (I participate when I can). The kids also get to work on their summer school activities to make sure they are ready for the next year. However this is done in the course of the camp and is made more fun as they do them as part of the activities of the week.

Frankly I think my wife is a genius for putting this together every year. And in case you were wondering here are the songs on the Camp Beat the Heat 2010 play list (yes Phineas and Ferb is a favorite show):

1. Today Is Going to Be a Great Day - Bowling For Soup (Theme to Phineas and Ferb)
2. Uprising - Muse
3. Summer Time - High School Musical II
4. Party in the U.S.A. - Miley Cyrus
5. Gitchee, Gitchee, Goo - Phineas and Ferb
6. Do the Moo Shoo - Veggie Tales
7. Disco Miniature Golfing Queen - Phineas and Ferb
8. Our Song - Taylor Swift
9. All I Want to Do - Sugarland
10. Ready for the Bettys - The Bettys
11. You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) - The Chipmunks
12. Truck Drivin' Girl - Danny Jacob
13. Peanut Butter and Jelly - InsideOut
14. It Happens - Sugarland
15. Fabulous - Phineas and Bobby Fabulous
16. Love Story - Taylor Swift
17. Phinedroids and Ferbots - Phinedroids and Ferbots
18. You Snuck Your Way Right Into My Heart - Love Handle
19. It's Not My Time - 3 Doors Down
20. Renegade - Styx
21. Wanted Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi
22. Pride (In the Name of Love) - U2

Friday, May 28, 2010

Patriotism and School

Last night my oldest son and his classmates put on a school presentation. The presentation was about our government and its symbols. The presentation started off with the Pledge of Allegiance. I always get emotional when saying the Pledge. It means something to me to be an American.

The next part of the program talked about our National Anthem. The children did a wonderful job of presenting how Francis Scott Key was inspired to pen the words.

The children then went into the three branches of government. For the Legislative they put on the School House Rock "I'm Just a Bill". It was funny but also showed how a law starts with an idea and goes through the process of getting signed into law.

The executive branch was up next. For this one several students did brief presentations on past Presidents. My oldest did one of these presentations. His was on William McKinley. He did a tremendous job even having blood stains on his shirt to show where McKinley was shot by an assassin.

Next up was the Judicial branch. The kids did a short trial replicating the case of "B.B. Wolf vs Curly Tail Pig". It was a good performance even though I thought the jury got it wrong. Curly Tail is innocent I tell ya!

The most emotional part of the production came next. The meaning of the flag. The children explained why our colors are red, white and blue, why we have 13 stripes and why there are 50 stars. I learned why we have the colors we do.

The emotional part was having one of the teachers explain what the flag means to him. He's a member of the National Guard and is being deployed to Afghanistan in July. He was dressed in uniform and explained the flag while two of the children properly folded a flag. The flag was later presented to the teacher so that he could carry it with him during his deployment.

Finally everyone was invited to sing Lee Greenwood's "Proud to Be an American". The chorus goes:

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.
 This was the perfect time for this presentation. This is Memorial Day weekend where we should all take the time to remember those who have served our country. I'm glad the kids were able to learn about the importance of our government's structure, it's Anthem, Pledge and Flag. Hopefully they can join in the singing as I do "'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA!"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

USA World Cup Roster

I freely admit I am a soccer fanatic. Just ask my wife. I mean the reason I'm on crutches and in a knee brace right now is because I was playing the game and injured myself. So today was an exciting one for me.

The USA released the names of the 23 men who will compete in the World Cup in South Africa starting June 11th. There were a couple of surprises of who's on and who's off. The roster is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton, England), Tim Howard (Everton, England).
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes, France), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany), Jay DeMerit (Watford, England), Clarence Goodson (IK Start, Norway), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan, Italy), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England).
Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany), Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus, Denmark), Stuart Holden (Bolton, England), Jose Torres (Pachuca, Mexico).
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Hull, England), Edson Buddle (Los Angeles), Robbie Findley (Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Puebla, Mexico).

Left off the list were Chad Marshall, Heath Pearce, Alejandro Bedoya, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers, Brian Ching and Eddie Johnson.

The surprises for me were that Sacha Kljestan and Eddie Johnson not making the team. It just goes to show that there are options for the US in soccer now and that you have to EARN your spot on the team.

That said, I'm excited to see this team play. They have a warm-up match against Turkey in a few days. It would be good to see the starting line-up that Bob Bradley intends to send against England in this match. I would like to see how they play as a unit and how Bradley will use his substitutions. For my part I think the following will be the starting line-up against England June 12th:

Keeper: Tim Howard

Defenders: Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Spector, and Clarence Goodson

Midfielders: Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark and Clint Dempsey. (Stuart Holden if five are played)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore and Edson Buddle (Buddle on the bench if five midfielders are played)

This is the line-up I think we will see against Turkey and in the first game against England.

In order for the US to do well in the World Cup the following players have to step up for the US to do well:

  • Oguchi Onyewu - He can anchor the defense and calm the nerves, if he doesn't the US will be sloppy and the goals will pour in
  • Jozy Altidore - He has to use his strength on the ball and either put it in the back of the net himself or lay it off effectively so Buddle or Donovan can
  • Ricardo Clark - He has to keep the defensive midfield steady and find Donovan in order for Donovan to shine
  • Clint Dempsey - We need to have the Dempsey who plays without fear and can be a force from the midfield
The match against Turkey will tell us something of how this team will play. Of course how they react on the Big Stage against a team the likes of England will be big as well. If they play timid they will get destroyed in the tournament. If they play confident then they should make the knock out stage easily.

I put their chances at 50/50 to make the quarter finals (winning their knock out game). If they win their group the chances go up to 60/40. Needless to say I'm stoked and can't wait for the games to begin.

Monday, May 24, 2010


In Luke chapter 10 a Lawyer asks Jesus what he can do to have eternal life. Jesus asks him how he interprets the law and the Lawyer says:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy aheart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 
This past weekend I saw this teaching in action. The street I live on is a great example of what being loving neighbors means. We do not all share the same faith, yet we all share this teaching.

On Friday it was found that I have a Tibia Plateau Fracture. I was fitted with a brace and crutches. On returning home one of our neighbors was walking his dog and asked how I was. Without even hesitating he offered his assistance wherever he could help. Little did I know that the help would be needed so soon.

On Saturday my wife left to go to a canning workshop leaving me with the kids. No big deal, she would be gone for a couple of hours what could happen right? Well if you know my kids anything could happen and did. My oldest son was chasing my 2nd oldest daughter when she fell head first into the bench of our dining table. You guessed it, she gashed her head open. Now I'm hobbled but when the adrenaline flows you can do amazing things. I got to her fairly quickly and over to the sink in order to staunch the bleeding. I tried calling Cheryl with no success. My oldest ran outside and got one of the neighbors to come over.

There was a hole in my daughter's head. Needless to say it was freaky. 911 was called and paramedics came over to take a look. They agreed that she would just need stitches. I told them I would take her to the Urgent Care to get this done. This is where the neighbors come in.

The neighbor who came over offered to drive us to the Urgent Care. Another neighbor took the two boys over to his house so they could play. A third took my oldest daughter who has skating lessons with their daughter. The wife of the neighbor driving us took our youngest daughter with her. No complaints, no hesitation, just good people doing good things. I had no reservations about leaving my children with them. We trust each other implicitly.

We get to the Urgent Care and the neighbor who drove us stayed until Cheryl could come and take us home.

We are very grateful to have the neighbors we do and to have the good relationships with them. It's not only in an emergency that this happens on our street. Every day there are examples of being a good neighbor and living the teachings found in Luke above.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I was fortunate to see Games 5 and 7 of the Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings first round series. There's nothing like the excitement of a playoff game to get your heart racing and your emotions running. However, there are a few things that I've noticed the past few years about the playoffs in all the major sports that bugs me.

1. Going from 5 game first rounds to 7. The powers will be will tell you that the better team will always win the seven game series. That's BULL! the real reason they moved to the 7 game series is money. In hockey you can see that the best team doesn't always win the best of 7 series. The top three seeds all lost their series in the Eastern conference this year. Five game series would still have put the #2 and 3 seeds out, but it would have been very different had games 4 and 5 been must wins.

2. Rule interpretations. In Basketball and Hockey the rules get interpreted more loosely in the playoffs. It's not an excuse for losing, but it is a fact that everyone knows. One instance was in game 7 between Phoenix and Detroit. There was an obvious interference call just before Detroit scored their third goal (on the power play that was a bogus call by the way). The third goal was a back breaker and even though I don't think Phoenix would have won the game, it should have been called and the goal shouldn't have been scored. Who knows what would have happened then?

3. Congratulations after the series. The only sport that gets this right is the NHL. The teams after each series line up at center ice and shake hands. Every kid growing up playing a sport does this. Line up and shake the other team's hand after a hard fought game. How different would it be if the NBA, MLB and NFL instituted such a standard. Granted in the NFL this would be difficult because of the number of players, but something could be done. It is a great showing of respect to both the winners and the losers.

4. Length of time between games and series. The number of days between games is ridiculous. It drags out the playoffs unnecessarily. Also, it gets the players out of rhythm. Players are used to playing a certain number of games in a certain number of days. Again this is done for money. It allows for more games to be on TV and try to get ratings. However, by the end of the playoffs the fans are tired of waiting for a champion and ultimately are glad that it's over.

5. Start times. The time of games get changed in the playoffs. This is especially true for teams on the West Coast. Teams are used to playing home games at a certain time and are geared for that. To play the games earlier to meet a "market need" for earlier time zones is just plain stupid. I will admit that this might have affected the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 7 of their series. Playing even an hour earlier can screw up a player's clock. I'd like to see an East Coast playoff game start at 10:00PM in order to allow for the West Coast team's fans to see the game in prime time. Do you think it would affect the East Coast team?

So there you have it, my gripes. After all of that however, I have to say there is nothing like playoff Hockey. The games are always intense. I would say Football comes second, with Baseball and Basketball in third and fourth. Of course I might be biased.

You can now return to your irregularly scheduled playoff games.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Day to Remember

On this Easter day I've been reflecting on two people. The first is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The second is my grandfather. Easter is a time to remember and so I remember the following about each of these remarkable men.

First, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is the week where we celebrate the last week of his life. It started with the Passover where he ate with his Apostles. At this dinner two major events happened. The first was the institution of the Sacrament. This ordinance is representative of his sacrifice for us. The bread representing His body which his sacrificed on the Cross. The Wine representative of His blood which he sacrificed in the Garden of Gethsemane. The second major event was the identification that one of the Twelve Apostles was about to betray Him to the Jews.

After the dinner Jesus led the Apostles to the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas Iscariot at this point had left. He left eight of the Apostles near the entrance of the garden and took Peter, James and John further in. At a point in the trail He asked the other three Apostles to wait and pray for one hour with Him. He went a ways further and prayed to the Father. This is the point in time where he began His Atonement for our sins. He prayed that if it be possible not to perform the task then to have it be so. However, He knew that if it was the Father's will then He would do what was necessary. The sacrifice in the garden was so intense that blood came from every poor as He paid the price to redeem us from our sins. The Atonement allows all men to repent and to come unto Christ and receive His mercy.

After the sacrifice in the garden, Judas Iscariot appeared with the leaders of the Jews. Jesus boldly asks who they are looking for and Judas betrays the Son of Man with a kiss. Jesus goes with these men (even though this violates Jewish law). He is brought before the leaders of the Jews and is falsely accused and convicted. He is then brought to Pilot who sends Him to Herod. Herod does not even merit an answer from the Lord and is sent back to Pilate. Pilate cannot find anything that Jesus has done wrong, but because of the pressure of the Jews decides to allow the Jews to choose a man to set free. The Jews choose Barrabas and Jesus is sentenced to be flogged and crucified.

The Romans carried out the sentence mercilessly, taunting Jesus, placing a crown of thorns on His head and then making Him carry the cross beam to the hill called Golgotha. Here Jesus was lifted up on the Cross and the Crucifixion began. The Romans gave Him vinegar when thirsty. At length there came a time when even the Father could bear no more and hid Himself from the Savior. Not long after Jesus cried out "Father it is finished, into Thy hands I commend my spirit". His sacrifice complete, Jesus gave up His life.

He was buried in sepulcher provided by Joseph of Arimathea and the ritual was hurried because of the hour of the day. A huge stone was rolled in front of the tomb. Three days pass and on the first Easter, Jesus of Nazareth was resurrected. This was the victory over Death that had been promised. Because of His resurrection all mankind will be resurrected.

The second remarkable man is my grandfather. He passed away last September. Today would have been his 92 birthday. I have thought a lot about him this week. I miss him. There is no other way to describe it. Tears come to my eyes when I think about him. He was a man who taught me many lessons, showed me how to love a family and gave me love. I miss golfing and fishing with him. I miss talking sports, playing games and getting birthday cards. I miss him being here to hear about my family and the way his great-grandchildren are growing.

I remember him as the branch manager of our local bank. I remember him driving the boat on Lake Chautauqua and on Port Charlotte. I remember him doing yard work. I remember his laugh. I remember his smile.

Thanks to the first man, even Jesus Christ, all that I remember about my grandfather I will experience again. Because of the Atonement of our Lord our loved ones are not lost at death. Because of the resurrection we will all get to hold one another and be able to do things together. Because of the sacrifice in the Garden we can repent and live together as family again.

On this Easter I remember two remarkable men. Men who are linked to me and also allow me to be happy. I will see each of them, the one I've known in this life and the one who died so I might live.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Death of a Hamster

Sunday night was a tragic time for our house. I was studying Physics (another story for another time) when I heard Levi start to cry. He called "Daaaaaaad" and I said what. He cried "Daaaaaad!". So I went into his room and asked "What's up?" He was distraught and through his tears cried "Ben's Dead!".

I was shocked. I moved over to the bed and checked on the hamster named Ben. Sure enough Ben wasn't moving. I opened the door to the cage and again no movement. I touched Ben (yes I washed my hand afterwards) and no movement. Ben was officially dead.

Levi was in major grief. You read about weeping and wailing in the scriptures. This was his behavior about losing his "best friend". So I talked with him and we made arrangements for Ben's funeral service for the next day. Part of the preparation was to create a headstone for Ben.

I always have some wood around so I found some thin panelling and cut out a head stone for Ben. Levi and I then sat down and decided what to write. We decided on the following:

"R.I.P. Here lies my friend Ben. Nov 2008 - Mar 14th 2010"

Levi then wrote in the corner of the headstone "I love you Ben by Levi". It took a long time for Levi to go to sleep. He was traumatized to say the least. We held the service the next day. Levi misses Ben and I'm sure it will take a while for him to get over his grief.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Of Goals and Savings

Yesterday was a momentous occasion for my oldest daughter. You see we've been paying our kids for the work they do around the house. Each child has the following responsibilities (note this is a partial list):

  1. Clean Room
  2. Morning Chore
  3. Clean Zone (typically a room or area)
  4. Homework
  5. Saturday Only - Deep Clean Zone (vacuum, dust, etc)

For every thing they do points are awarded. At the end of the week we tally up the points and divide by 100 to determine how much money they've earned. We encourage saving but also allow our children to spend their money on things they want/need (within reason of course). The boys tend to spend their money quickly while Ellie has been saving for something special. Yesterday she was able to get what she wanted and achieved her goal.

What did she want? An iPod Touch. She earned the money to get an 8GB iPod Touch. I can't tell you how excited she was to get this. You could tell that she was so excited to see her savings plan pay off. Of course there was the setup time once the iPod Touch got home, but she was very happy to be able to use it.

We have put her music on it as well as some games and the scriptures. I'm sure there will be tons more we put on the iPod for her as well as teach her to use some of the built in tools that are available. Of course we have also put in some restrictions. For instance I have not set up the WiFi on her iPod so she doesn't have access to the internet.

I should also mention that Sam didn't spend his money right away (just thought about this so I'm amending the entry). Sam did save enough money to buy a Nintendo DS. His brother and sister got one for Christmas and Sam at that time didn't want one. However he decided a couple of weeks after Christmas that he wanted one and so he started saving too.

Hopefully this can be a trend for my children. The ability to set goals and achieve them. Also the ability to save money and not spend it as soon as they earn it. Valuable lessons that will serve them well as they get older.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Magical Season

Last Saturday was the final game for my son's U6 Winter soccer season. Each season I have two goals. One I let everybody in on and one I try to achieve without stating it. The one I let everybody in on is that the kids have as much fun as possible. In fact I tell the kids that the first rule of soccer is to have fun. If you're not having fun then it is a struggle to play. It's great to see them have fun and enjoy this game that I love.

The second goal is trying to get every kid at least one goal. I have now coached five seasons. The first four I did not reach my goal. I have come close where only one or two of my players did not score. That changed this last season. Going into the final game I had one player who had not scored.

Now over the course of the two years I've been coaching, I know which teams are good and which teams we are going to kill. Based on that I can put out a lineup of really good and good players that will make the game fun for all.

The final game I knew was going to be a rout. I also knew that there would be a good chance for this last player to score and my secret goal to be achieved. We played through 3 quarters and this player had a couple of chances. I was getting worried. In the last quarter I had him out there playing with two really good players and another player who had only one goal this season. The quarter was about 1/2 over and he still hadn't scored. Then came the breakthrough. My son Sam was on the field and got the ball in a pile of players. The boy who hadn't scored yet was further up-field and I directed Sam to pass the ball. Sam did so and the boy received it in a good position. He dribbled once and shot. Honestly I thought it was going wide and he would have had another chance go by the wayside. To my great surprise and pleasure the ball however went into the corner of the net. I was beaming for this boy. It was really about him and not my goal. But it was a relief that every player on my team had the experience of scoring a goal.

I could mention a lot about this season (like going undefeated or how much the team learned about playing the game) but this one moment where I knew everyone on the team had scored was the best one. Scoring goals boosts the kids' confidence and I know that it also boosts their enjoyment of the game.

Tomorrow is our team party and I plan on divulging what my secret goal has been for each season. I will let all the parents know that I had this goal at the beginning of the season and that this was the first season where everyone scored. It definitely was a magical season and I'm grateful to have been a part of it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I was impressed with the new show Parenthood on NBC Tuesday night. I was a little leary about watching the show from the previews thinking it was going to be some kind of dramedy (you know comedy and drama). However my wife and I sat down (she was reading a book) and watched it. If you saw my last post you know that we have an autistic son. The premier of Parenthood struck us with the following scene:

One of the sons is in school and trying to make paper hearts. The son is wearing a bandana and a pirate shirt. As he is cutting the hearts out with scissors, he keeps making mistakes. When the mistake occurs he crumples up the paper and then sits on it. After a few of these another kid in the classroom calls his name and say "Save some paper for us!". The son ignores him. Eventually this boy comes over and tries to take away some of the paper. Meanwhile the rest of the class is snickering. When the boy takes the paper away from the son he loses it. In a fit of rage he goes after the boy and eventually bites him. The teacher physically removes the son from the classroom.

Later we see the parents in the Principal's office where it is recommended that they see an educational specialist with their son. Of course the parents are defensive. I mean who wouldn't be? But being good parents they agree to have their son evaluated.

Fast forward to a scene with the Father gets a phone call from his wife and is asked to meet her in a plaza. She has taken the son to the specialist and a conversation ensues where she is explaining the findings and the Father is in denial. At the end of the conversation however the Father realizes that the wife is serious and understands that his boy will need help.

Fast forward again to school. The son has forgotten something and the dad drops it off to him. As the two are conversing another boy comes by and says "Hi!". The son doesn't respond. The dad points out to him that it might be rude not to say "Hi!" back. The son doesn't respond and turns to walk away. The Dad says "I Love You" with no response. You see the recognition on the dad's face.

Fast forward again to a performance by the son's cousin. The son begins to have an episode and the dad takes him outside. Outside the boy stands on the end of a bench and jumps into a puddle of water over and over again. Eventually the grandfather comes out and tries to persuade the father and son to come back in for the performance. The father explains that he can't and the grandfather says of course he can, The father then tells his dad (the grandfather) that there is something wrong with his son and that he will need the grandfather's help. The grandfather agrees as recognition dawns on him.

One more fast forward. But first I have to go back. There was an incident early on in the episode where the son is playing baseball and his dad the coach has an issue with a call. The dad gets very upset and is ejected. The son tells his parents he doesn't want to play anymore. OK, back to fast forwarding. The family is about to have lunch when the son comes out and says "Dad, what about the baseball game?". The father asks "I thought you didn't want to play baseball anymore?". The son says he does. There is a brief pause and then the grandfather says "Let's go" and starts directing the family to get the items needed and to get into the car. At the end of the episode you see family rooting on the son and then the dad walking up to the game (he's not allowed to be there because of the earlier incident). He's watching from the outside as his son is batting. The last thing you hear is the bat striking the ball, the crowd screaming and the dad smiling.

This is a brave arc for a television show to take. Having gone through some of the things depicted in this episode it was hard keeping the tears from flowing. We went through a similar process. Some denial and yet knowing there was something not quite right with our son. We got the diagnosis and it was hard to accept. We have had times where Levi won't say "I love you" to us for long periods of time. There are times when he goes into a rage and we have to find different ways to calm him down. There are times when he obsesses and we have to deal with it in an appropriate manner for him.

All in all, I'm hoping that this show survives if not for any other reason than to expose more people to not only autism, but the needs of children who have special needs. As I said in my last post education is the key and hopefully the writers of Parenthood can provide education to others.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Action for Autism

Today is the 3rd annual Action for Autism day on KTAR in Arizona. As a father of an autistic child I'm thankful that this is being done. It is estimated that 1 in 100 children in AZ has some form of Autism (on the Asperger scale). If you've read my blog you know that our oldest has been diagnosed with Autism.

There is no known cause, although there are theories. There is no known cure, however there are some medicines that can help. Early detection is the key to helping these children become productive members of our society. There is progress in being able to detect Autism at earlier ages. However, the big key is EDUCATION. When I say education I'm talking about educating the following people:

  1. Parents - to recognize the signs of Autism
  2. Family and Friends - to understand that autistic people are different and to be careful about what is said or commented on
  3. Teachers - to understand the needs of an autistic child
  4. Others - to know that there may be something special about the child who is having a tantrum
  5. Doctors - to recognize the signs and listen to the parents of these children when they explain that "something just isn't right"

I ask that if you get a chance go to KTAR and listen to the live stream to hear some of the stories of kids with autism and how it has affected them and their families. If you feel the need, please donate. The donations benefit the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SAARC) who are one of the leading autism research centers around.

This is a great event every year, and is greatly appreciated by those of us who have children or who have been affected by Autism.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Day to Teach

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
One - U2

Today is a day to teach. To teach my children about the need to have everyone treated equally. A day to teach history's lessons as they pertain to civil rights. The first thing we did was have the children watch a short movie about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Later we will discuss Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Part of that speech is:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

My family is made up of a cornucopia of races. I have a daughter who is part Hispanic, one who is full Black (African American), and one who is mainly Polynesian, part Asian, part Black, and part Hispanic. Both boys are full Caucasian so we seem to have hit most races. My children are growing up knowing that the color of skin makes no difference about a person. They are learning to love all people because they love each other.

We are taking this day to help them understand the struggles of different peoples to be treated fairly and equally. Our hope is that this teaching instills in them a love of all men, regardless of the color of their skin.

As for myself, I cannot hear or read the words of Dr. King's speech without emotion welling up inside of me. I cannot imagine the kind of courage it took for him to do the things he did. It is because of that courage that our country was changed. That courage I can use to inspire me to instill in my children a love for everyone. Also to teach them that everyone must be treated equally.

In the words of Brad Paisley's song:

I had a friend in school,
Running-back on a football team,
They burned a cross in his front yard
For asking out the home-coming queen.

I thought about him today,
Everybody who's seen what he's seen,
From a woman on a bus
To a man with a dream.

Wake up Martin Luther.
Welcome to the future.
Glory glory hallelujah.
Welcome to the future.
Welcome to the Future

My dream is that my children will be part of the fulfilling of Dr. King's dream. As the Declaration of Independence says "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal". May all men be created and treated equal is what this day is all about.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Breaking the Habit

So today is day one of the "No More Cola" plan. You see I made the New Year's resolution to quit caffeinated soda. There are several reasons behind the decision. Of course it's not easy to do. I didn't go "Cold Turkey" on Jan 1. Instead of my regular 4 or 6 cans I drank only 2 and kept myself to that number through yesterday. Last night Cheryl and I were talking before bed and both of us decided it was time to get off the wagon.

My biggest problem is craving the flavor of Cola. It seems to be the thing that gets me coming back. So today I made a pitcher of Crystal Light and have not had one Cola. I also took one Excedrin Migraine pill. It's a preventative measure against the headache that would have come if I had just not drank a Cola all day.

So far so good. No headache, cravings replaced by Crystal Light. I'm sure this can be done and it will probably help me as I also start up my exercise routine in earnest again. It will also get me back to the fluids I grew up on: water and milk. That has to be healthy right?

It's going to take a couple more weeks to be completely free (hopefully less but I'm being realistic here). So Crystal Light, water and milk will become some of my new best friends. It's going to happen and I'm going to be better off because of it.