Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Thanks For the Update!

I do not care what the weather is in Cupertino!

I really don't.

A beautiful day in Cupertino. (It's snowing here.)

It's amazing how much we "depend" on our smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. (Yes, some of us still actually have and use desktop computers.) Most of us are on these devices dozens if not hundreds of times a day.

And, of course, the various companies that provide the devices, the wireless services, the programs, and the "apps" have become pretty big businesses, worth hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Maybe even more.)

If you have one of these devices, you have no doubt been bombarded with requests to "update" the programs or operating systems your device uses. Occasionally you'll go to do something you've always done with your device, such as watch guinea pig videos, and your device will say something like, "unable to comply because you need to upgrade to a newer operating system."

It can be very vexing. (Yes, I said "vexing." I could have said "annoying," but it's a little bit beyond annoying. It's vexing.)

And then, periodically, your device will stop what it is doing in order to bring you a message with an offer to "update" or "upgrade" your operating system or some other important sounding program that your device no doubt needs to function. Often it will say these "updates" or "upgrades" are "very important" or possibly even "vital."

And, time and time again, you ignore those pleas to "update" or "upgrade." You'll justify your decision by saying things like, "I'll update it the next time I see that message," or "As soon as I finish this purchase of Season 7 of Quincy, I'll go back and do the update." But we don't.

Well, the other day I thought, "Oh, what the heck, I'll actually do the update. Maybe my phone will run a little quicker and smoother with an updated operating system."

No. No it didn't.

First of all, it took forever to download the "update." Okay, that's an exaggeration. It didn't actually take "forever," just several hours. Not one hour. Not two hours. Several hours. I'm not exactly sure how many hours because I fell asleep while the "update" was trying to download.

And then, at the end of the "update," it asked me a bunch of questions that I found pretty much incomprehensible. Questions like: "Will you enable multi-fractual configurations?" Or, "Shall we navigate your flux capacitor through the carbine annex?" Or, "Will you allow The Cloud to control all of your programs and future purchases, up to and including groceries and personal toiletries?"

Finally the "update" was complete and I had my phone back. Except, I didn't. It is completely different than it was before. I lost all of the texts I had previously sent and received. I lost the ability to send texts.  If I attempt to send a text it will almost send; the "Sending" bar will go 90% to the right edge of the screen, and then stop and blink, but never actually send.

I can't get the local weather, but I am well informed on what the weather is in the mystical land of Cupertino.

The bottom line? As messed up as my "smart" phone is now, I might as well go back to using my flip phone.

So, the next time your device asks you to "update," don't be in any big hurry. Go ahead and finish that purchase of Quincy: The Final Season. And then watch all eight seasons before you even think about "updating."

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hide Your Stash, Man

This might come as a shock to you, but my kids like candy, cookies, donuts, and pretty much all sweets in general.

Well, guess what? The Wife and I also like candy, cookies, donuts, and pretty much all sweets, too. But, as adults we have a big advantage over the kids when it comes to the sweets, because we actually have the money needed to buy the stuff.

The problem is, as adults it's hard to eat sweets in front of your kids without sharing the sweets with them. Also, it's hard to tell them too much candy isn't good for them while you are filling your face with the stuff.

And that is why The Wife and I have a stash.

It's also why you might hear me frequently utter something like this: "Are the kids in bed? Okay, I'm going to get out the donuts and the ice cream."

Yes, I understand that sharing is good. And I do share with the kids. Just not as often as they would like. If I'm eating something and they are still awake, there is a good chance I will share with them. That's why so much of my sweet eating is done late at night.

(Hmmm…I also happen to have gained a lot of weight recently. I wonder if these two things are correlated?) (But, even so, one of the things I learned in college was that "correlation does not necessarily mean causation." So, until an actual link is proven, I'm going to keep on eating snacks while the kids are in bed.)

Where to hide the stash? Well, there generally isn't food in our bedroom, and the kids aren't allowed in our bedroom when we're not in there with them, so our bedroom is one of our favorite stashing places.  There is plenty of shelf, drawer, closet, and nightstand space for contraband that the kids are unaware of.

Also, one of the benefits of being an adult is that I am much taller than the kids. The kids are unable to see and/or reach the upper shelves of the pantry. That top shelf is mostly full of stash.

Easter candy that actually survived the "stash phase."
Holidays are a big reason for keeping a stash. We like to make sure the kids have some candy on all of the big candy holidays: Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter. Unfortunately, the candy for each of these holidays goes on sale long before the actual holiday. So, once it has been purchased it must survive the "stash phase" before it can actually be given to the kids. Sadly, during the "stash phase" much of the holiday candy is devoured by the parental units, and more candy must be purchased right before the actual holiday.

Also, you have to be careful not to stash anything very perishable, just in case you forget that you stashed it and then come across it months or years later. (No one wants to find a pumpkin pie hiding in your sock drawer in April.)

Every once in a while I'll run into something that The Wife has stashed, or she'll accidentally come across something that I've stashed. When this happens, we share with each other. I'd like to think we have the kind of marriage where we don't hide things from each other, not even (or especially) a stash of donuts.

It may seem unfair to the kids for us to be hiding this stuff from them, but it's for their own good. Really. (Yup, that's what I keep telling myself as I sneak a few more Jelly Bellies: "It's all for the kids!")

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My Dad's Birthday

Yesterday was my Dad's birthday. He would have been 79 years old, but he passed away almost ten years ago.

It's strange to say, but my life since he died is so much better than my life was when he was alive. I wish he had a chance to experience this difference.

You see, about a month after my Dad died, I went on my first date with the woman with whom I would fall in love. We dated. We got engaged. We got married. We had a beautiful daughter. We had a handsome son. We had another cute little daughter. It's been fantastic! But, he missed it all. And I missed him being here to experience it with me.

Dad, with his ever-present red hardhat, in front of "The Pumpkin," his distinct orange pickup.

I've missed him holding my little babies in his big, strong hands. I've missed him picking my kids up and putting them on his shoulders. I've missed him watching a basketball game with my son and talking to him about some of the finer points of the game.

Over the weekend I spent some time with my kids watching the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. The kids have fun picking their own brackets. (The Girl picked Hawaii and Stony Brook to face off in the finals, because she likes the beach and mountain streams. The Boy picked Green Bay and Pittsburgh to win several games because he has an uncle who is a Packers fan and an uncle who is a Steelers fan.)

I enjoyed watching the games with the kids, but I thought about my Dad frequently. Mostly because of the foul shots. My Dad was an excellent high school athlete, and was the starting center on a state championship basketball team. He would often tell the story of how his coach wouldn't let them go in to shower from practice until they made ten straight free throws. He said after you made seven or eight in a row, the pressure on those last two or three shots would be intense, because if you missed you'd have to start all over again. He said if you could learn how to make those pressure shots in practice, it would help you make them during games.

Over the weekend there were several games that were won and/or lost because of a team's ability to make free throws. This included a player for Yale who made all eleven of his free throw attempts, including several in the final minute to help clinch a win for his team. When he kept making those foul shots, I thought of my Dad.

Dad, showing off his free-throw form at a birthday party for my nephew.

I do what I can to keep my Dad in the lives of my kids. I tell them stories about their Grandpa Ron. I show them pictures. But, it's not the same as if he were actually here in their lives. I'm glad, at least, that their other grandparents are a big part of their lives. They get to spend a lot of time with Grammy and PopPop (my wife's parents) They are an awesome influence on the lives of my kids. And the kids are really looking forward to a visit from my Mom soon. They love her a lot.

Ten years ago, my brother, his family and I had a surprise birthday party for my Dad. My brother talked him into coming to the local truck stop restaurant (Flags West in Downey, Idaho; the best scones around!) He had no idea the whole family was going to be there. I'll always remember the big smile on his face as he saw my niece, who just couldn't hide from him for one second more. It was a great day!

It turned out that was the last time I saw my Dad out and about. The cancer was getting to him, and whenever I saw him after that he was either in bed or in his favorite recliner, too weak to get around.

I wish my wife and kids could have met him here in this life.

I guess the best way my Dad can influence my kids now is through me. I've got to do what I can to teach them the lessons he taught me. And who knows, maybe in the next life I'll be able to walk up to my Dad and tell him I was able to make ten free throws in a row.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Junk In the Trunk

So, the other day we did something a bit strange. We traded in our car for a new (used) mini-van.

That in and of itself isn't so strange. After all, we're a growing family with three kids and a fourth one on the way. Lots of growing families make the move from car to mini-van.

No, what made this strange is that we already have a mini-van. So, now we have two mini-vans! Because, apparently, owning one mini-van wasn't enough to show that I'm not a cool guy. Two mini-vans completely drive that point home. Literally.

It was a little sad trading in the car, but not too much so, because we owned it for less than two years. The last time I traded in a car, for our first mini-van, it was a much sadder occasion. I really loved that car, but had to let it go because I totaled it when attempting to merge with the freeway and a deer at the same time. That time was sad. This time I wasn't as attached to the car, so it didn't bother me as much.

You would think that after owning a car for less than two years it wouldn't be that hard to clean it out. Two years isn't a lot of time to accumulate junk in a car. Well, you would be wrong. When it came time to get all my things out of the car so we could trade it in, the list of stuff I had to remove was pretty impressive:

*Jumper cables.
*At least three roadside emergency kits. (Two of which have never been opened.)
*Two first aid kits. (Neither of which have ever been used.)(Thankfully.)
*Fifteen gloves. (Six pair, plus three random unmatched gloves.)
*Six water bottles. (Three unopened; three partially full.)
*One winter coat.
*Two orange safety vests. (From my old job.)
*One ice scraper.
*One plastic rain poncho. (Still in the package.)
*One teddy bear backpack with a long tail/leash. (Yes, it's a leash for keeping kids close while out in public places like the zoo or the mall.)(Don't judge me.)
*One cloth astronaut helmet from a 2014 Halloween costume.
*The program for a concert by The Orchestra (former members of the Electric Light Orchestra) at Park City in July of 2014.
*Two winter stocking caps.
*The book The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which I haven't yet got around to reading. (I hear they're going to make it into a movie.)
*Sixteen pieces of assorted junk mail. (Including store ads and credit card offers.)
*Two fast food drive-thru bags. (Garbage moved from the passenger seat to the trunk on the rare occasion I had another adult passenger in the front seat.)

Just some of the junk from the trunk.

And that's just the junk in the trunk. From the front and back seats I had to remove:

*Two car seats. (One a baby seat, the other a booster.)
*Three more water bottles. (Two unopened; one partially full.)
*Twenty-seven fast food napkins. (Stuffed along the edge of the driver's seat in case they forgot to put napkins in the bag the next time.)
*One package of breath mints.
*One box of Kleenex brand facial tissues.
*$5.73 in loose change. (Mostly in the form of pennies and nickels.)
*One small notebook. (For recording gas mileage.)
*One tire air pressure gauge.
*Three pens.
*Eight music cds. (Six in the stereo; two in the glove box.)
*Five cd cases for those eight cds.
*Three McDonald's Monopoly game pieces. (Park Place, Illinois Avenue, and Illinois Avenue.)

Yes, I removed all of those things. We said goodbye to the car, traded it in and drove the new (used) van home. And when we got home, that's when I realized there was one more thing that was in the car that I should have taken out, something more important than everything else I took out of the car, with the possible exception of the car seats. The thing I left in the car was:

*The garage door opener. (Oops.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Leprechauns Are Real! (Maybe)

Are leprechauns real?

I used to think they weren't. But now I'm not so sure.

The other day The Girl (my seven year-old daughter) and The Wife got into a heated debate about the authenticity of leprechauns, and The Girl made some pretty good points.

It started with The Girl talking about making a leprechaun trap so she could catch a leprechaun. The conversation then went something like this:

The Wife: "You know leprechauns don't really exist, right?"
The Girl: "No, they do exist. They're real. I know it."
The Wife: "What makes you think leprechauns are real?"
The Girl: "Well, we had a leprechaun come last year and mess up our classroom." [Note: She's talking about her first grade classroom.]
The Wife: "Okay, but...."
The Girl: "And in preschool Shaun-Shaun the Leprechaun came and we tried to catch him."
The Wife: "Did you ever see these leprechauns?"
The Girl: "No."
The Wife: "Because they aren't real."
The Girl: "No, they're just super fast and sneaky."
The Wife: "You didn't see them because they don't exist."
The Girl: "They do exist. They just don't like to be seen. They hide really good."
The Wife: "They're make believe, like fairies and goblins and dragons. They are imaginary characters."
The Girl: "I think they're real."
The Wife: "They aren't."
The Girl: "Maybe they'll exist in the future."
The Wife: "No, they won't."
The Girl: "They might."
The Wife: "No, they won't ever exist."
The Girl: "Well, the United States didn't always exist, and now it does. So maybe if leprechauns don't exist now, they will sometime. In the future."

The Wife laughed at that. She had no choice. She was not prepared to get into an argument with a seven year-old about the existence of leprechauns, let alone a philosophical debate about what may or may not exist in some far-flung future.

A leprechaun! (Not an actual photo.)
(Not because they don't exist, but because they're super fast and sneaky and it's hard to get a picture of one.)

So, do leprechauns exist? I don't think so. Will they exist at some point in the future? I doubt it. (But, just in case, I think I'll pick Notre Dame to advance a few rounds when I'm filling out my March Madness bracket.)

Have a happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 11, 2016

My Son, the Dentist/Construction Worker

When I was five years old I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Heck, when I was 45 years old I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Oh, over time I had a few dreams. I wanted to be a wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings. Or a power forward for the Utah Jazz. Or maybe a super-hero, like Iron Man. But, I never had any realistic plans or goals for my life.

I think that's why I find The Boy's super-specific outline for his life so amazing and entertaining.

The Boy (my five year-old son) has some very precise ideas for what he wants to be doing when he grows up. He wants to be a dentist. And a construction worker. Those may not seem like the kind of careers that one person could juggle simultaneously, but he has some pretty exact ideas about how he is going to do it.

In Orem, Utah, the RC Willey department store moved from its longtime location to a newer, fancier spot a mile or so away. So, the old RC Willey building is currently empty. The Boy has plans for it.

It'll look a bit different after The Boy is through with it!

He's got it all figured out. As a construction worker, he is going to take the old RC Willey building and remodel it. He is going to make it fifteen stories tall. Inside this new building he will have his dentist office in the front. Meanwhile, in the back of the building there will be a Toys R Us, a 7-Eleven, and a Taco Bell. Also, his home will be in this same building that he, as a construction worker, will build.

His dentist office will have an elevator, because all dentists should have an elevator in their office.

Every one of the businesses in this building will have a drive-thru window. The Taco Bell will have a drive-thru window. The 7-Eleven will have a drive-thru window. The Toys R Us will have a drive-thru window. And, the dentist office will have a drive-thru window.

While the drive-thru windows at the Taco Bell and 7-Eleven made sense to me, I wasn't sure how a drive-thru would work for the Toys R Us or the dentist office. According to The Boy, the drive-thru at the Toys R Us will be like one at a bank, with the little tube things to send toys to the cars that pull up to it. He says all toys will be either $1.00, 2 cents, or 1 cent. Only smaller toys, like Hot Wheels, will be shot through the tubes at the drive-thru. If you want bigger toys, you'll have to go inside.

And, as for the drive-thru for the dentist office, that will be just for people with loose teeth. Apparently, the dentist will just go to the window and yank out your loose teeth while you sit in the comfort of your own car. Now that's service!

So, I really look forward to the time in twenty years or so when The Boy graduates from dental school. Maybe he'll build a house for me. Or maybe he'll let me live in his 15-story Dentist/Toys R Us/7-Eleven/Taco Bell building.

And maybe, just maybe, by then I'll know what I want to do when I grow up.

Note: After I posted this, The Boy informed me that his building will also feature an underground parking garage. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mary Lou Retton and the Man On the Moon

Shortly after we got engaged, The Wife and I went to a car dealership to look for a new car. My old car, "Trusty Rusty," was getting more and more rusty, and less and less trusty.

We were newly engaged and we were holding hands as we walked on the lot towards a car in which I had some interest. That's when the used car salesman approached us and decided to open the conversation with an ill-advised attempt to guess what our relationship was.

As he walked toward us, the first thing he said was, "So...father-daughter?" We stared at him blankly. Undaunted, he continued, "Brother-sister?" Really? We were holding hands. How many sets of siblings walk onto a car lot holding hands? Finally he tried one more time, "Umm...boyfriend-girlfriend?" Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! Unfortunately for him, his correct answer came too late. He had managed to alienate himself to us with the first words out of his mouth. (No, we did not buy a car from him.)

"So...father-daughter?" His words stung a little. Yes, there is a pretty big age gap between my wife and I, and it was a potential roadblock early in our relationship. But, by the time we were engaged I had pretty much forgotten all about it. Until a stupid used car salesman reminded me that I was old enough that I could be her father. (Well, I'm old enough to be her father if I had been sexually active at age 14. Which I wasn't.) (At 14 I was much more interested in Star Trek and The Fantastic Four than I was in girls.)

On our first date I discovered that the age difference between The Wife and I was fifteen years, three months, and four days. I thought that was a very large age difference. It was. I thought it was probably too big of an age difference. It wasn't. By the time we finished our second date I had met her family, and the general consensus was: yes, there's a big age difference, but they just seem to fit together.

Why wasn't the age difference a big deal? Well, by the time we started dating, The Wife was most definitely an adult. She was a college graduate who had already completed two years in her chosen profession as a school teacher. And she was at least as mature as I was, despite my fifteen year advantage.

15 years, 3 months, and 4 days. It really is a pretty big difference. For example, when I graduated high school in 1984, The Wife hadn't yet turned three years old. But, we've been married for over nine years now, and we rarely think of it anymore.

Oh, there have been a few times when we've been a little bit startled. Like the time I was talking about Mary Lou Retton and she had no idea who that was. I was shocked. I thought everyone knew who Mary Lou Retton was.

Meanwhile, The Wife was freaked out when she found out I was alive when man first walked on the moon. That was something that happened in the history books, not during the lifetime of the man she married!
A long, long, long time ago….

There are occasionally other things, like the fact that I voted for Ronald Reagan when I was in college, while she can barely remember him being president. (She was seven when he left office.)

And, she's more than a bit concerned that in a few months I'll be turning 50. In her mind, it's fine if I'm in my forties while she's in her thirties, but it'll become a bit much when I'm in my fifties and she's still in her thirties. (She tells me I'm not going to be 50, but instead will be turning forty-ten.)

Yes, she grew up watching Full House and I grew up watching The Brady Bunch. But when you get right down to it is there really much difference between Danny Tanner and Mike Brady?

So, I try not to be too judgmental anymore when I see couples with big age differences. Each situation is different, and who am I to see into someone else's heart? All I know is if you want to sell someone a car, don't open your mouth if you have no idea what you are talking about.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Friday Fiction: Canada Is Waiting For You

Hello, Americans!

My name is Clifford Icehammer, and I'd like to tell you about a wonderful opportunity that I am offering for you and all of your friends.

Do you like Canada? Of course you do! You love Canada because Canadians are just like Americans, except more polite. You love Canada because we've given you ice hockey, lumberjacks, and the Royal Mounted Police.

You love Canada because we've given you Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, Lorne Michaels, Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Castle and Beckett (Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic), Cobie Smulders, Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne, and many, many more. You've even forgiven us for giving you Justin Bieber and Nickleback.  (Just remember that we gave you John Candy. Everyone loved John Candy.)

Oh, Canada!

Not only is Canada full of nice people, it is a nice place. Canada is quiet, laid-back, pleasant, and it's not always freezing cold. (Yes, we do actually have summer!) And, perhaps most importantly, in Canada we are not under the influence of the President of the United States.

Yes, I've been watching your presidential primaries, and I've been watching the rise of Donald Trump. I've been watching Trump with a great deal of interest. And, as a result, my construction crews have been working non-stop to help create a better Canada for Americans!

I'm creating communities across Canada expressly for Americans who want to flee their country, called "Flee America!" These new Canadian/American communities will offer all the amenities of America, without the potential problems of an insanely unqualified president!

Every Flee America! residence will come complete with Netflix and Hulu! Each community features its own Walmart (currently under construction), McDonald's, and Olive Garden. And yes, Amazon will deliver next-day right to your door! (And, of course, you'll also get our free Canadian medical plan.)

There are currently three Flee America! communities ready for you:

Hope, British Columbia. Hope is located within two hours of the wonderful metropolis of Vancouver, which is known as "Hollywood of the North." (They filmed X-Files and Smallville there, you know!) Come hobnob with Hollywood elite in Hope!

Prescott, Ontario. Less than an hour from the Canadian capital of Ottawa, Prescott is just an hour away from New York City by plane! Experience big city America right here in small-town Canada!

and, Winkler, Manitoba. For those who really want to get away from it all, you can experience Canada in all of its Canadianness! (It's just like North Dakota, only a little more northish!)

Packages for Flee America! are available now, including the Four-Year Plan, the Just-In-Case Eight-Year Plan, and the Ah-The-Heck-With-It Lifetime Plan.

And, there's a special, limited-time offer! If you lock in to Flee America! now, before the election, you will receive a steep discount.

So, if you feel you need to flee America, do it in comfort with Flee America!

See you when you flee,
Clifford Icehammer

But wait! What if it's not Trump you want to flee from? What if you want to get away from Hillary Clinton? Don't worry, Flee America! is ready for you, too!

To be honest, when I first thought to create Flee America! I did so with Hillary in mind. Back then, Trump wasn't even really a blip on my radar. So, if you want to Flee America! to get away from Hillary, we have plenty of room for you, too!

So remember, if you want to Flee America! come on up. Canada is waiting for you!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Festival of Tears

My kids go to the local elementary school, and they love it!

It's a great school. They look forward to going every day. (They're even sad on weekends when they can't go to school.) They learn all kinds of things at school, such as reading, writing, math, science, friendships, and, apparently, that life is full of bitter disappointment. Let me explain.

This week is Dr. Seuss week at the elementary school. It's a fun week when they celebrate reading with all kinds of fun activities. (Today is "Green Eggs and Ham Day," Tomorrow is "Who Hair Day," and so forth.) And the whole thing started off with a Dr. Seuss-themed "Family Literacy Night" on Monday evening. There were games, activities, prizes, and tears. (Lots and lots of tears.)

I took my two oldest kids, The Girl (2nd grade), and The Boy (kindergarten), to the reading festival. We went from room to room and had a lot of fun. They played Dr. Seuss bingo. (The Girl got a bingo and won a Good Dinosaur poster!) They made some crafts, with some help from me. (And with me getting some help from one of the teachers, because I'm not very crafty.) They got prizes at the One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish fish pond. They played "pin the hat on the cat." They had a great time!

Yes, it was all fun and games (literally) until the tears started.

The big finale of the festival was the prize giveaway. They had a couple of tables full of some pretty good kid prizes (stuffed animals, Frozen art sets, sidewalk chalk, etc.) Every kid was given a raffle ticket. Then the teacher in charge would read off a number, and if the kid had that number they would win a prize. They had a lot of prizes, probably between 50 and 100. Unfortunately, there are a lot more than 100 kids that attend the school.

The Girl with her ticket. (Before the despair.)
It started out well. The teacher would read a number and the kids would excitedly look at their ticket to see if it matched. They were giddy in anticipation. But, after the first twenty or so numbers were read, the giddiness started to wane. The teacher spent about 15 minutes reading off numbers. About 10 minutes into it, the Girl's best friend was one of the first to start crying. (Second grade bff's are pretty fun to watch. Even though they had just seen each other at school earlier in the day, when they saw each other at the festival they had to hug several times as if they had been apart for years.)

Before long, both of my kids had joined in and it was officially a festival of tears. When the teacher announced the final number, the small gymnasium was full of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
No mention of the tears.
As we walked to the car I worried that I might need a canoe to navigate my way through the river of tears that was flowing through the school hallways. Kids of all genders, ages, and sizes were leaving the festival in tears. (I was a bit relieved that it wasn't just my kids.)

I tried to console them. The, "Hey, life is full of disappointment. You're going to have to get used to it. Every year when the Vikings lose in the playoffs I have to deal with disappointment," speech I gave them fell on deaf ears. (No one pities a poor Minnesota Vikings fan.)

I reminded them of the fun they had had earlier in the evening, and they eventually calmed down.

So, I'm grateful for the school. It's a place of learning, a place of fun, and a place of despair. (Who knows, maybe after a couple more festivals the kids will be ready to watch a Vikings playoff game with me.)