Friday, September 28, 2018

According To a New Study...

Farting is good!

Now there is scientific proof! The other day my wife saw a post on Facebook. It said:

"According to a new British study, passing gas may help you live longer and, in a surprise twist, smelling gas might prevent dementia.

Researchers found that when you pass wind, you're helping yourself out by lowering your risk of cancer, heart attacks, and strokes.

And, the main ingredient in it is hydrogen sulfate. Researchers believe inhaling it actually causes your brain to grow stronger and protects your brain from dementia."

See, there you have it: scientific proof! My farts are helping me live longer, and they're saving you from dementia.

You're welcome!

Of course, there are some who might be skeptical. After all, this is from a post on Facebook, and every once in a while Facebook posts contain information that isn't 100% accurate. (Although I am still holding out hope that Bill Gates will be sending me $100,000 for clicking "Like" and "Share" that one time.)

Is it possible that someone who was tired of getting complaints about all of his farts decided to make up his own "study" showing that farts are a healthy and wonderful thing? I know if I were making up a study, I'd probably cite British scientists because a) no one is going to bother to check which British scientists performed the study; and 2) everyone knows British scientists are awesome. (Just look at all the cool stuff they invent for James Bond.)

I can imagine some random dude saying to himself, "I'll make up a British study that will say that farts make me healthier and that my farts will keep you from going crazy!"

It kind of makes me want to make up my own "study." Here's one:

A scientific study out of Sweden finds that people who eat at least two strips of bacon a day are less likely to develop depression or other mental disorders, and are more likely to have a positive outlook on life.

Eating my way to better mental health!

Here's another one:

Researchers in Denmark have found that the more often men watch sports on television, the less likely they are to commit violent crimes.

And here's one for the ladies:

A Japanese study shows that the more different pairs of shoes a woman owns, the better her chances are of avoiding breast cancer.

Of course, it's quite possible that the fart study wasn't made up. It might be totally legit. And that is why I am going to keep farting. I'm not doing it for myself, I'm doing it to decrease dementia around the world.

I'm trying to keep people from going crazy, one fart at a time!

Edited from a post originally published on 5/31/2016.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

There Was a Time Before Cell Phones

The other day I did something unbelievably amazing. I wandered into the bathroom and sat down on the toilet before I realized: I DIDN'T HAVE MY PHONE WITH ME! Yes, that's right, I actually went to the bathroom WITHOUT MY PHONE!

I know, it's incredible, isn't it? Those may have been the longest two minutes of my life. But, somehow, I was able to get through it. I was able to sit there WITHOUT my phone, unable to check my messages, catch up on the latest scores, or play any games. So, what did I do? I just sat there. I sat there and thought about a few things. What did I think about? I thought about how I would never step into the bathroom without my phone again!

I'm joking, of course. (Mostly.) We've become so dependent on our cell phones that we sometimes forget the things we used to be able to do without them.

Could you go to the bathroom without your phone?

There was a time, not so long ago, when if you wanted to find out the score of a game, you'd have to turn on your television to ESPN and wait through some highlights on SportsCenter until they'd get to your game. Or, you'd have to watch the local ten o'clock news and hope that the sportscaster would read the score of the game in which you were interested. Or, you might even have to WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT DAY and find the score in the newspaper!

There was a time, not so long ago, when if you wanted to find a recipe for tater tot casserole you'd have to go browse through all of your cookbooks and file folders until you found a recipe that would work. Or, you'd have to call your Aunt Beverly to get the recipe, and that would mean listening to her ramble on for fifteen minutes about the latest family gossip.

There was a time, not so long ago, when if you wanted to know who the 11th President of the United States was, you'd have to go to the bookshelf and pull out the encyclopedia. (P for president.) Or, you'd have to call your know-it-all Uncle Bert. Or, you'd just have to guess. (Umm...Grover  Fillmore? Cleveland Harrison? George Harrison?)

And, there was a time, not so long ago, when if you went to the bathroom you had to just sit there and look at the designs in the linoleum floor. (How did we ever manage to survive?)

For more funny-ish stuff from the ServeDaily newspaper, check out:

Friday, September 21, 2018

Another One Rides the Bus

We're lucky. The bus stop is directly across the street from our house.

Partly because of this fact, our kids have never been late for the bus. (Yet.) I can look out the window and see when the other kids are lining up at the bus stop and know that it's time to get my kids out the door.

The bus stops here!

It's fun to watch all of the kids from the neighborhood gathered together and playing as they wait for the bus. They'll chase each other and play catch and stomp all over my neighbor's lawn.

When I was a kid I had to walk all the way across town to get to the bus stop. Of course, Arimo was such a small town that "all the way across town" was basically about four or five blocks.

Every morning I would start out for my long trek to the bus stop. On the way I'd have to walk past the house with the mean dog. It was usually on a leash, but not always. It was a big relief when I saw that Blue wasn't roaming free. (Yes, I knew the dog's name. In Arimo you knew the name of every person, all of the dogs, most of the horses, some of the cats, and even a few of the cows.)

Once I made it past Blue it was free and clear to the bus stop. A lot happened at that bus stop. There were games of tag and hide and go seek. Every once in a while we would even get in a game of red rover. There were snowball fights. And, quite often, there were real fights. The real fights were usually about what place in the line you were to get on the bus.

Looking back, I don't know why it was always such a big deal. There was always plenty of room on the bus, and you never had to sit with someone you didn't want to sit with. As adults we get all concerned with taxes and mortgages and politics, but as kids there was nothing more important than what order you were in when you got on the bus.

The earlier you got on the bus, the better the chances were that you could sit where you wanted. The cool kids sat at the back of the bus. The not-quite-as-cool kids sat at the front of the bus. And all of the rest of us sat in the middle.

I look out across the street these days and it doesn't look like what order they get on the bus is quite as big of a deal to the kids today as it was back then. Oh, they'll run to get to the bus stop first, and they'll put their backpacks in their place at the line so they can go off and play, but I have yet to see any fistfights or pushing and shoving when it comes time to actually get on the bus.

So yes, I'm glad the bus stop is right across the street. And I'm glad all of the kids at the bus stop seem to get along with each other. I'm glad my kids have made friends with their bus stop mates. But mostly I'm glad that I don't have to take the kids to school myself. I prefer being in my pajamas at 8:30 in the morning.

Edited from a post originally published on 10/13/2015.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Climb Every* Mountain! (*not every mountain; just one)

Oxford Peak stands like a beacon on the south end of Marsh Valley, Idaho. As I grew up in the small town of Arimo, Oxford always stood there, looking down on me. And I would think, "Someday, I'd like to climb that mountain." But I never did.

Oxford Peak!
If you drive south of Pocatello on Interstate 15, you'll see Oxford Peak. The southbound freeway seems to be heading straight for it--the mountain at the south end of the valley that kind of looks like a volcano.

No, it's not a volcano.

My desire to climb to the top of Oxford Peak increased with each passing year. Unfortunately, my physical ability to actually climb the mountain peaked long before I attempted to reach the peak of the mountain. Before I knew it, I was over 50 years old, and the chances I had of reaching the summit of Oxford were quickly diminishing.

The view of Oxford from the high school football field.
(Reminding me that I'm not as young as I once was.)

But then I became friends on Facebook with a guy I kinda knew in high school. He was a couple of years younger than me, and I knew who he was, but I wasn't sure if I had ever actually spoken a word to him. For our purposes here, we'll call him "Andy." (Because that's what his name is.) Over a period of several years, we became better and better friends over Facebook. He mentioned from time to time that he had been to the summit of Oxford on his 40th birthday, and he would like to climb it again. I responded that I had always wanted to climb every that mountain, and he said something along the lines of, "we'll have to do that together someday."

For most people,"We'll have to do that someday," is a polite way of saying, "That would be nice to do, but it's probably never going to happen." Luckily for me, Andy is not most people. He set a date for the climb, and sent out an open invitation to everyone in the local Facebook page, too.

As the day for the hike approached, I thought I had gotten myself ready by taking a few hikes on the mountain behind my house. What I didn't realize was that a little two-hour hike didn't even begin to prepare me for what was to come. (Looking back, being at least 40 pounds overweight wasn't optimal. Perhaps it would have been easier to make the hike if I weren't carrying Ben & Jerry along with me.)

As we started the hike, Andy and I worked together, as we were going at about the same pace. His wife and some of her friends got out ahead of us. Occasionally we would see them off in the distance on the trail ahead of us. One of those friends was a 73 year-old man, which made Andy and I feel bad for feeling bad about our advancing ages. (We were each more than 20 years younger than this guy zooming up the trail ahead of us!)

Beautiful fall foliage! (But no sign of anyone if front of us on the trail.)

The hike up the mountain took longer than I thought it would. We started at the Cherry Creek campground, then slowly gained elevation until we got to a plateau which was followed by some rolling hills until we started up the final ascent. Andy had a playlist of Billy Joel music that we listened to as we climbed and talked. (An appreciation for Billy Joel music was one of the things that Andy and I built our Facebook friendship on.) One song in particular seemed especially appropriate. As we got closer and closer to the summit, it was encouraging to hear Billy sing, "My other world is just a half a mile away."

At this point, that peak looked way more than "half a mile away."
(Despite being a New York Yankees fan, Andy is a pretty good guy.)

Unfortunately, the ascent took longer than the playlist Andy had made for it, and the music changed from Billy Joel to some random older songs. I say "unfortunately" because one of the songs that came on at a particularly steep portion of the hike was "American Pie" by Don McLean. Normally I think this is a great song, but as I was struggling up the mountain I didn't really need to hear the line, "bad news on the doorstep; I couldn't take one more step." Worse yet was the repeated lyrical refrain singing, "This'll be the day that I die. This'll be the day that I die."

Almost there! (But still so far to go.)

We hiked for several hours, but had yet to reach the summit. And then we came to a place where the trail got steeper, and it went up an incline of loose gravel that was almost impossible for two aging, slightly overweight guys to scale. I was beginning to think that instead of saying I had reached the summit of Oxford Peak, that I was just going to be able to say I had gotten quite far up on the mountain. But, we got some encouraging words from the younger (and one older) folk who had reached the top ahead of us, and we backtracked a little bit until we found a small trail that took a bit of a friendlier path to the saddle of the mountain. Once we found this trail, we knew we were going to make it.

And we did!

On top of the world!!!

We made it to the top of Oxford Peak! It took us over five hours to get there, but we did get there! There's nothing quite like the feeling of reaching the summit of a mountain. Even though it was a bit hazy, the view was still incredible. From Oxford's apex you can look down on Marsh Valley to the north, Cache Valley to the east, and parts of the Malad Valley to the west.

At the summit was a flagpole with an old, tattered American flag. Also, there was a little lock box which contained some notebooks which were signed by people who had been there previously. It was an honor and a privilege to put my name in that book. (And, to be honest, a bit of a relief after so many hours of climbing.

On top of Oxford Peak, with Marsh Valley in the distance behind me!

When we got to the summit, we found the other members of our hiking party, plus a few other people who (wisely) went up part of the trail on four-wheelers. Unfortunately, by the time Andy and I made it to the top, most everyone else had been there for so long that they were ready to head back down.

And that's when it sunk in to me: we had to walk all the way back down the way we came. While I do okay going up the mountain for an old, overweight guy, I do not at all like going down the mountain. I'm generally a klutzy guy, so I'm always afraid of losing my footing and falling as I'm trying to descend. As a result, while others tend to go much faster downhill, it takes me just about as long to go down the trail as it does to go up it.

On the way up, Andy and I went at about the same pace, but on the way down he kept having to wait for me. When we got about halfway down, we were back in the rolling hills section of the trail. This meant going down steep hills, which I take very slowly, followed by some steep little climbs, which I no longer had the energy for. I was no longer walking; I was trudging.

Just then, I was rescued. A couple of the people who had been at the summit were driving by us on their four-wheelers. I put on my most desperate, tired face and practically begged them for a ride. Even though they had no room on their vehicle, they took mercy, scrunched together, and let me ride with them for about half a mile until they got to a point where the trails diverged. (They dropped me there because they were going a different way.) As I rode with them, I found out that the driver graduated high school the same year that I was born! Yes, here I was feeling sorry for myself for how old I was, and this guy who was 18 years older than me had easily made it to the summit!

Eventually, Andy and I finally made it back to the trailhead. I had never been so happy to see a mini-van!

In about ten hours of hiking we had made it up to the top of the mountain, then back down again. Along the way I learned a few lessons. I learned that it can take a long time to climb a tall mountain. I learned that the more you weigh, the more weight you have to carry with you up the trail. I learned that "American Pie" is not a good hiking song. I learned that it is faster to travel by four-wheeler than by trudging. And, I learned that there are things you could never do on your own that you can accomplish with the help of a friend.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Apparently, You Are a Parent!

It's apparent you're a parent when you attempt to put your work gloves on and find a fruit snack in one of the fingers.

It's apparent you're a parent when you need a band-aid and are forced to choose between "Strawberry Shortcake" or "The Muppets."

It's apparent you're a parent when you have half a dozen used Kleenex in your pocket, and you, personally, haven't used any of them.

It's apparent you're a parent when you start speaking in rhymes because you've been reading Dr. Seuss all day.

It's apparent you're a parent when you can name every character on Super Why (Super Why, Wonder Red, Princess Pea, and Alpha Pig) but cannot name one member of the President's Cabinet.

It's apparent you're a parent if you've even heard of the show Super Why.

It's apparent you're a parent when your chicken nuggets are shaped like dinosaurs.

It's apparent you're a parent when you know which McDonald's have PlayPlaces and which ones don't, and you plan your meals accordingly.

It's apparent you're a parent when you go out to eat at one of your favorite places and, along with your food, you get a cup full of tokens.

It's apparent you're a parent when you are a heterosexual man and you take a large green bag with ducks on it (filled with baby wipes and diapers) with you wherever you go.

It's apparent you're a parent when you know where every children's museum is within the tri-state area.

It's apparent you're a parent if you notice whether or not the public restroom has a diaper changing station or not. (And you're a little indignant if it doesn't.)

It's apparent you're a parent if you see kids behaving badly and mutter to yourself, "Well, at least that's not my kid. (This time.)"

It's apparent you're a parent if, when fueling up the car, you make faces through the windows in hopes of getting a smile or two in return. (And it makes forking out $50 for a tank of gas seem almost worth it.)

It's apparent you're a parent if you know what time the school bus comes every morning, not because your kids are old enough to get on it, but because seeing the bus pull up across the street is one of the highlights of their day.

It's apparent you're a parent when you no longer get to sit next to your wife at church. Instead you're each on one end of the row, hoping to contain the kids in between you.

It's apparent you're a parent when you wish, for more than one reason, that Barbie would wear clothes that weren't so tight fitting. 1) So you can change Barbie's clothes without it seeming like you are trying to peel a grape. And, b) so your daughter doesn't think she should wear clothes that tight.

It's apparent you're a parent when the lock on the bathroom door is the most used, trusted, and important lock in the entire house.

It's apparent you're a parent when you've finally found an audience that will laugh every time you try to use a banana as a phone.

It's apparent you're a parent when there's a smile on your face whenever you think about them.

Edited from a post originally published on 1/31/2013.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Remembering September 11, 2001

On September 10, 2001, they went about their lives like any other day. Maybe they turned on the television and watched The Weakest Link, or stayed up late catching the Denver Broncos beat the New York Giants 31-20 on Monday Night Football.

Maybe they got all of the laundry folded and put away. Maybe they didn't. Maybe they thought, "The laundry will still be here tomorrow."

Maybe they kissed their kids goodnight. Maybe they finally got around to making that call to see how their Mom was doing--the call they'd been meaning to make for the last couple of weeks.

Maybe if they knew what was going to happen the next day, they would do everything different. Maybe they wouldn't change a thing.

Many of the people who died on September 11, 2001 did so simply because of the circumstances of the day. They went to work, or got on an airplane as if it was just another ordinary day. It wasn't.

But, many of the people who died on September 11, 2001 did so of their own free will. They didn't choose to die, and they didn't want to die, but they were willing to risk their lives in order to help others. They put their own lives on the line so that they could save the lives of others. (For some, it's what they do every day.)

I can't imagine the courage it would take to run into those burning buildings.

There are a lot of lessons we can learn from that horrible day in 2001:
     *Make the most of every moment, because you never know what day will be your last.
     *Be grateful for the courage and bravery of those who willingly face possible danger every day in order to serve and protect their communities and nation.
     *Remember the unity we felt as a nation after those disastrous events. For a brief moment, political affiliation meant nothing; we were the United States of America.

It was a terrible day. Let us not forget what happened. Let us not forget those who lost their lives. And let us always remember to work together as communities and nations, so that the sacrifices they made be not in vain.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Kids Love the Box of Misfit Toys!

Everyone knows that an empty box is the favorite toy for kids to play with. (I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere recently.) But did you know what their next favorite toy is? Any toy that you have just thrown away, or are about to give away to charity.

Adults and kids look at toys differently. An adult will look at a toy and think, "They haven't played with that in forever. I think it's time to send it along to Deseret Industries." (Or Salvation Army. Or Goodwill. Or whatever the local charity is in your area that accepts used donated toys.)

Meanwhile, a kid will look at that same toy and think, "Wow! I haven't played with that toy in forever! I think I'll make it my new favorite toy and play with it non-stop for the next week or two!"

What is especially helpful to the children is when you pile a bunch of these seldom-used toys together in a box. You might as well paint a huge arrow on the wall pointing to the box with the message: THE BEST TOYS! Because they will really want to play with those toys.

And, it doesn't matter if the toy is broken. A broken toy in the charity pile is much more enticing than a non-broken toy in the regular toy box. Besides, sometimes a toy is more fun when it is broken than when it is not.

Broken arm Iron Man? Best toy ever!!!

Santa from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had it all wrong. Instead of exiling all of the undesirables to the Island of Misfit Toys, he could have just put them in a box labelled "Going to charity" and the toys would have found good homes with plenty of children willing to play with them. (But then, the Santa from Rudolph isn't exactly the brightest or nicest guy around. In fact, he's a bit of a jerk.)

Sometimes I wonder why we even bother to buy new toys for the kids. But, I guess if we never bought toys we wouldn't have any toys to put in the charity box. And if there were no toys in the charity box, what would the kids have to play with?

(Oh, I guess they could always just play with the empty box.)

Edited from a post originally published on 9/20.2016.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Who Pooped In the Nursery?

"Which one of you is poopy?" It was a simple question, but even as I asked it I knew it wouldn't be answered.

I spent two hours on Sunday in the church's nursery, helping to tend 14 children between the ages of 1½ and 3½. It was a holiday weekend, and the regular nursery leaders were all gone, so when I went to drop off my youngest boy, there was no adult supervision in the room. I couldn't just leave my boy there in that situation, so I stayed to help. So did three other parents. (It's always great when people step up to help.)

We weren't too far into the first hour when one of the other dads who was helping said, "Phew, somebody pooped." Well, this happens all of the time. The solution is usually simple: take the smelly kid out and track down a parent to change their diaper. (My boy likes to save up his poops for nursery time so that the nursery leaders have to track me down frequently.) There's only one problem with that approach--first you have to identify which child has pooped.

Stink, stank, stunk!

14 kids is a lot of kids. The four adults in the room began sniffing randomly. "I think it's coming from that side of the room." "No, I think it's over there." "It's probably one of these boys." We couldn't come to a consensus on who had pooped. I asked the kids. I didn't really expect an answer. Most of these kids aren't potty trained, so they might not even know if they've pooped or if they haven't. (Some of them don't even know their name yet!)

I checked my boy in the usual way, pulling his pants out and looking down into his diaper. It wasn't him. (For once.) The other parents checked their own kids, too. But, we all felt a little uncomfortable checking kids that weren't our own. It doesn't feel quite right grabbing someone else's child and looking down their pants for poop. So, we kept sniffing, trying to narrow down the culprit, but to no avail.

After a while, the Primary President (the church leader over the nursery and all of the little kids) came in to check on how things were going. We drafted her into our sniffing hunt patrol, but she couldn't pinpoint the stink, either. It was like we were playing a game of "Where's Waldo?" but with our noses instead of our eyes.

We thought we had it narrowed down to one of three boys on a couple of different occasions, but we were wrong. Eventually, one of the adults caught an extra strong whiff and determined that it must be coming from one of the two girls in the corner. Sure enough, when one of them stood we could not only smell the poop, but it was also visually apparent. We had been so quick to blame one of the boys that we kept overlooking the girls. (I thought girls always smelled like lilacs and daffodils!)

It took us almost an hour and a half to track down the poop. That was far too long. (I never was very good at "Where's Waldo?" anyway.)