Spring Soccer in Utah

 

Five years and one job ago I worked with someone whose wife coached soccer. While he was supportive of his wife, every spring he would comment that he hated the spring soccer season because it was always cold and/or rainy and/or windy. At the time, I didn't think much about what he said. Our boys were two young to play organized sports and I was leaning more toward putting them in other sports.

Years have passed. The older boys have gravitated toward basketball and football. Our oldest daughter prefers gymnastics and tumbling. The five year old watches with insane jealously every time they go to practice or compete at their games. Last fall we put in him soccer because that's the only sport they allow pre-kindergarten students to play. He loved it and enjoyed every moment of it. All winter he talked about wanting to play it again. February rolled around and so it was time for spring soccer signups. While I was in the process of registering him, the thought flashed through my mind what my co-worker said about the weather. I looked at the calendar and realized games didn't start until April and figured the weather wouldn't be much of an issue.

April rolled around and the season started. All the practices have been ice cold. All the games have been rainy or windy. My five year old has had a blast but it's been less than enjoyable for me and the other parents to watch the games and practices in such conditions. Last Saturday was his only bye week. That day it was 80 degrees and sunny. The forecast for his game tomorrow is 58 degrees with a 60% chance of rain.

The gods look down and laugh.

Playground from the Past

Yesterday Marathon Girl and I decided to take the kids to park to eat dinner. We drove around for a bit and stumbled upon a park that was like something I remember from childhood. There was a merry-go-round, teeter-totter and big tires. In addition there was fine gravel on the ground. I haven't seen any of this in playgrounds in at least 20 years and was kind of surprised that this park still had them. Best of all, my kids enjoyed playing on these "new" toys. Kind of glad we found the park and the kids had a chance to play on them. Probably just a matter of time before someone gets hurt and the city is forced to get rid of them.  Photos below.

Tremors

Wednesday night Marathon Girl and I are in bed reading when the house starts shaking and something that sounds like a large truck barreling down the street fills the house. Even though it's late that it was a large construction truck barreling down the main road (a common occurrence with all the new homes going up nearby) we go back to our books. About 30 seconds later the same thing happens. This time we look at each other and wonder what is going on. I get online to see if anyone else has felt the shaking. Twitter starts to light up from people in our area who felt it. People in neighborhood groups on Facebook are saying the same thing. Everyone concludes an earthquake has just taken place.

There's only one problem: the US Geological Survey never recorded an earthquake during that time. And, days later, no one seems to know what caused the two tremors despite the fact that everyone felt them.

Baring any scientific explanation, I can only think of one other thing that might be the source of the tremors.

If anyone has alternate theories, let me know. :-)

Wearing Shorts in the Winter: A Utah Thing?

I took the above photograph at a college football game I attended with my kids on Saturday. Please note that the person wearing a hoodie near the bottom is also wearing shorts.

While some people may be surprised at seeing someone wearing shorts in such conditions, it’s not an uncommon site in Utah. In fact I counted three people at the game who were dressed in a similar fashion.

Wearing shorts in the winter was something that became popular back when I was high school. (I never did it simply because my mom would have killed me for dressing like that in the winter.) Based on the way I see teenagers dressed when out in public, apparently is still is. If it was just the kid in the photograph, I would have chalked it up to being young and fashionable. But the other two people I saw had to be in their late twenties or early thirties. And when I posted the picture on Twitter, another Utahan mentioned that she saw someone wearing flip-flops during the storm.

While I can kind of see being able to justify wearing shorts in the winter when one is going to spend their the day in school or some other warm place indoors, wearing them to a football game when there’s a foot of snow on the ground, temperatures are near freezing, and it snowed during half the game is very perplexing.

On the way home from the game I started wondering whether or not wearing shorts in freezing weather is a Utah thing or part of a larger trend I don’t know about. When I lived in Wyoming for two years immediately after high school, I don’t recall seeing anyone wearing shorts in the winter whether at college or anywhere else in public. So, readers, I want to hear from you. Do they do this North Dakota or Canada when there’s a blizzard outside? What about New Hampshire? Is Utah the only place where this is cool? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Home Sweet Home

We’ve finally moved into our home or at least feel like we’ve moved into it. Ninety percent of the boxes are unpacked, there are pictures on the wall, and I think it’s been three or four days since I had to ask Marathon Girl where something was. It’s nice to feel like we’re actually moved in.

One thing you never really know when you buy a home is what the neighborhood is like. You can get a rough idea buy driving through it and talking to a neighbor or two but you never really know how friendly everyone is going to be or what the neighborhood culture is like until you actually move in and meet everyone. Over the years I’ve moved into places where everyone was friendly and welcoming and others where the only contact you ever had with the neighbors is when they pulled out of their driveway every morning.

Fortunately, we’ve moved into the friendliest neighborhood I’ve ever lived in. A bunch of people came over and helped us move in the first day. While that was going on, neighborhood kids swarmed our house looking to see if we had kids to play with. Within two days we’ve met everyone on the street. All the older kids have new friends who they play with all the time. (The baby seems to be indifferent to all this. Go figure.) Even Marathon Girl, who tends to be shy and quiet in new surroundings, feels like she has neighbor she can talk to or call on if she needs something. Everyone in the family seems happy with the new home, the new neighborhood, and has quickly adjusted to our new surroundings.

Then on Saturday Marathon Girl and I were outside working on our yard. A lady drove up and introduced herself as the person who just bought the house for sale on the far end of the street. We talked for a few minutes about the neighborhood and our families. When we were done she drove up the street and introduced herself to another neighbor who was out watching her kids play in the front yard.

I think she’ll fit right in.

 

This House Thing Might Finally Happen

We signed the papers to buy our home this morning. Assuming all goes well, we should have the keys on Monday and move into our place sometime next week.

Finally, we can have a place of our own again. I haven't seen Marathon Girl this happy in weeks.

Crossing our fingers that all goes according to plan.

Living with the In-Laws: Week 11

We had hopes that we’d be ready to move into our new home this coming weekend. ‘Tis not to be. The construction is running, as of now, about a week behind schedule. But things should have picked up again yesterday and are scheduled to be completed next Tuesday. Assuming that the inspection and everything else goes as planned our tentative closing date is now August 17. That means at least one extra week with the in-laws.

It also means that our kids will be starting school in their new four days after we move in. We were hoping to give them a week or so to adjust to the new house and meet some kids in the new neighborhood (which there are plenty of). ‘Tis not to be. Instead we’re moving in and they’re going to go through everything at once. But they’re troopers and will handle it just fine.

Oh, and for those who ever put all their stuff in storage until their house closes, don’t store important documents you might need for, say, a mortgage in the very back. It’s not fun to have to dig through an entire storage until just to find things.

Living with the In-Laws: Week 10

You know the novelty has worn off of living with grandma and grandpa when the kids start asking when we can move into our own house again.

Heading over to the house on my lunch break to make sure the construction is on progress.

Eleven days and counting. . . I hope.

Living with the In-Laws: Week #9

This last week was a week of positive moves forward. First, the in-laws went on a well deserved vacation thus giving us the run of the house for the better part of a week. I think this did everyone a bit of good as we all got to relax albeit in different ways. Hopefully this brief respite will making the remaining time there more bearable for everyone.

The second piece of good news is that we finally have a close date of August 10. Yes, that’s right in 18 days we could officially have a home and a place to live again. Of course, this is assuming that the construction that they’re doing on the home before we move in gets done on time. We’re hoping to hear and update on that today. Cross your fingers that the contractors hit their deadline so we can hit ours.

Even though I hate moving I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to move as I am right now. It will be nice to have our own place again and get the kids settled in to our new place before school starts. I don’t care if our first night there is in sleeping bags and we’re eating out of a cooler for the first day. It will just be nice to have a place to call home.

Eighteen days and counting. . . .

Living with the In-Laws: Week 8

I kind of reached a breaking point this weekend. I won't go into detail other than to say it's just a combination of little things that are really grating on me. I'm glad things are moving forward with the house. If all goes well, we should be in our new home by mid-August. I"ll be happier, the kids will be happier, and all will be right with the universe.

Until then doing a lot of running, writing, and excursions with the kids to get by. I'm hunkering down and counting down the days until we close and move in to our new place.

Living with the In-Laws: Week 7

We need our own place. Bad. Things are fine with the in-laws. We all still love each other but the little things that come with not having our own place are really grating on me and MG. The baby needs her own room to sleep in so MG and I can get some sleep. The older kids need to stop all sharing one communal room so they can get some sleep. I need to be able to make protein shakes in the morning. Stuff like that.

The good news is that there’s a possible light at the end of the tunnel. We were able to find a house this weekend. While going on another long house hunting expedition with the realtor, he took wrong turn and we found ourselves at the end of a cul-de-sac with a house for sale at the end. It was a nice looking house but one that didn’t come up on our search results.

“That’s a cute house,” Marathon Girl said.

“You should call their realtor and see if we can see it right now,” I said half joking.

Our guy pulled out his phone and made a call. Five minutes later we were walking through the home.

The next day we made an offer on it.

Today we should know whether or not it’s accepted.

We’ll see what happens.

Living with the In-Laws: Week 6

In a perfect world, Marathon Girl and I would be moved into our new home, having a holiday barbeque on our deck, and life would be returning to normal. But because we live in an imperfect and unpredictable one, we’re still with the in-laws. Thankfully our relationship is still good though just the little inconveniences of living in someone else’s home is wearing on me. But I really don’t have that much to complain about. We all get along great and there are many worse places we could be living.

So since the short sale has been delayed for a bit, we’re in the process of looking at new places. We spent Saturday afternoon checking out about a dozen homes but didn’t find anything that we could see ourselves spending the next 20 years or so living in. (Assuming, of course, we don’t move to Texas.) We’ve spent the last couple of nights modifying the price, size of home, location, and a couple other search parameters and found some new, more promising homes. We’ll see if they pan out later this week.

Despite all the setbacks about finding a new place, we don’t feel like selling our house was a mistake. We both felt the time was right to move and make this transition. We’re flusters that the buying a new home hasn’t worked out as planned but we’re taking it one day at a time and praying that things will eventually work out.

Hopefully, we’ll have some good news soon.

Living with the in-laws Week 4-5 and a Home Update

Thanks to all those who guessed where various vacation photos were taken. if you still want to guess and win one of my books, you have until Wednesday night to do so. I’ll announce the three winners Thursday morning. You can guess here, here, here, here, here, and here.

***

Since we’ve been on vacation most of the last two weeks, our interaction with the in-laws has been minimal. As a result, we all still love each other and are getting along just fine. And it is nice to sleep in my own bed again even if it’s technically not my own bed.

So while things continue to go well with the in-laws, our short sale is not. The day before we came home the realtor called us and told us that it’s going to be at least more six months before the short sale is going to go through. Apparently more government “assistance” programs have popped up and the couple is going to apply for them. Never mind the fact they haven’t made a mortgage payment in approximately two years and won’t qualify for any of the programs. Instead it’s a delay tactic to stay in home without having to pay anything until the end of the year.

This puts us in a bind. Even though the in-laws have told us we can stay with them as long as we need to, that simply isn’t an option. We need to get our kids in a more permanent place before the school starts at the end of August. So that means we have to rent buy a new place. (The problem with the latter is that there isn’t much out there worth looking at.) Right now we’re leaning toward renting but don't want to get stuck in a long term agreement in case something changes with the short sale which really limits our options. We’ve got eight weeks to figure out a solution.

The clock is ticking.

Time to figure out a solution.

Where I Grew Up

For those who have read Room for Two, there's an article in The Signpost (student newspaper of Weber State University) about the small farm I grew up on. Thought it might add some nice context to parts of the book.

Ogden’s 2nd Street is often associated with the Business Depot of Ogden.  All the concrete and cars hardly reflect 2nd Street’s pioneer history, but amidst the clamor of commerce, a corner of pioneer heritage is still intact.

The Bingham/Stone Farm is the oldest working farm in Weber County. Anna Stone Keogh and her cousin, Dave Stone Montgomery, still maintain the historic property.

A working farm is a farm where crops are still planted and harvested. In past years, the Bingham/Stone farm has harvested hay, alfalfa, oats, wheat and pumpkin.

***

When [Anna] Keogh raised her children on the Bingham/Stone farm, she passed the family folklore on to them. She said she watched her daughter walk around the farm trying to imagine the community that used to be there, just like she used to.

Remnants of the pioneers can still be found occasionally. The pioneers used to throw broken china (dishware) into the irrigation ditches to keep silt down.

“All along 2nd Street in both ditches on both sides of the road, if you want to sift around, you can still find china chips from the pioneers,” Keogh said.

Keogh and [David] Montgomery reported other artifacts, including arrowheads, flint and bullet molds. A copper British penny from 1780 and a gold watch have both been found in the garden.

“You never know what’s gonna pop up,” Montgomery said.

Read the full article at The Signpost.

Kind of Like Houston

It’s been a very warm and dry winter in Utah--the warmest and driest that I can remember in the 30 plus years I’ve lived here. This Christmas was the only the second brown one I’ve experienced in this state. Usually we’ll have one to feet of snow on the ground by now—snow that has been on the ground for at least six weeks. But all we’ve received is two brief snow storms that have dumped less than an inch each time. For the most part the dry, warm weather has been nice and has extended the amount of time we’ve been able to do things outside.  I’ve been able to play football and basketball with the boys outside most of the winter. I’ve also run more than normal this time of year; the warmer weather is a good incentive to add an extra mile or two to my runs.

It’s weather like this that has been one of the big reasons that Marathon Girl and I have thought about relocating to places like Houston or Phoenix if the opportunity should ever arise. It’s been nice not to be cooped up in our home for months on end. And even though the kids have complained (but only a little) about the lack of snow for sledding, I think they’ve enjoyed riding their bikes and playing with their friends in 40 or 50 degree weather.

The only downside to this warmth is that that Utah isn’t pretty in the winter when there’s no snow on the ground. The northern part of the state is an ugly brown gray mess. When we were in Houston in January years ago at least there was some green. And Phoenix always looks like a desert, albeit a pretty one, no matter what time of year it is.

Still, I’m grateful for the warmth. For now it’s as close Houston or some other warm climate as we’re going to get.

Too Many Willows

Marathon Girl and I are thinking about moving. No, we’re not heading to Texas, North Carolina, Colorado, or Arizona. Though the desire to move out of state is still there, we both enjoy my current job, benefits, coworkers, and other work-related perks too much to go elsewhere. We are, however, looking at buying a different home—one that’s a little bigger and more centrally located than our current home. We’re in the early stages of this process which means we’re just scoping out what homes are on the market and what the neighborhoods are like and discussing whether or not this is a step we want to take now or sometime next year. One of the things we’ve noticed while we drive from neighborhood to neighborhood is how the naming conventions of subdivisions and their streets are very similar. In Utah developers have lots of leeway when it comes to naming streets in the neighborhoods they build. For example a new subdivision named Mountain View Estates might have streets named after local mountains. The flexibility to name streets sometimes comes in handy when residents are opposed to a bunch of houses going up in their back yard. For example, a developer in my parents neck of the woods got the local residents involved in naming the subdivision and streets in that development in order to get more of them to support the development.

Despite this flexibility most subdivisions and streets tend to have similar themes. The consequence of this is that if you drive through enough of them looking at homes (as Marathon Girl and I have been doing lately) none of them tend to stand out. It’s made me think that if I ever had the money and desire to become a developer, I’d come up with street and subdivision different enough that maybe it would make it a bit more memorable—in a good way of course. Something like Proofrock Lane, Dickinson Drive, Hughes Avenue, or Yeats Boulevard. Okay, maybe there are better options but you get the point.

Last week the similar-named subdivision monotony was broken when we checked out a home in a subdivision named Willow Place. It quickly became apparent that the developer had a thing for willows. Streets were named Willow Way, Willow Drive, Willow Patch, Willow Sprout, Willow Pod, Willow Reed and so on. (We might have even passed by a Willow Park, I think.) What was at first something kind of quirky and different quickly became annoying as navigating our way through the neighborhood became difficult because the streets were so similarly named. Though we were finally able to find the house in question, by the time we found it we decided that it wasn’t worth living in a neighborhood that was so confusing to drive around.

The incident made me appreciate most other themed street names. As bland as they may be, most builders seem to have the sense to at least diversify the naming conventions to make them easy to navigate. Still, there has to be a happy middle ground--one

Angelou Avenue, anyone?

I Already Wrote THAT Book

The scene: A waiting area at a car dealership. I've brought my laptop so I can write while I wait. An older gentleman with a thick book in his hand takes the seat next to me and glances at my computer screen. Old Man: What you writing, your memoirs?

Me: I already wrote my memoir. I'm working on a novel.

Old Man: ~laughs~ "That's a good one!"

The old man slaps me on the knee, stands up, and walks away.

Update: The guy turned out to be really cool. After he come back to the waiting area we ended up talking. Turns out he's an avid readers and got a kick out of meeting a writer. On his way out the door he told everyone else in the waiting room to buy both my books.

The Great Bob Lonsberry Conspiracy

The Great Bob Lonsberry Conspiracy

Last week local talk radio jock, Bob Lonsberry, was fired from his morning gig. According to the radio station, the reason for the firing was ratings. Bob’s show had fallen from the Top 10 to 29 out of 32 stations. Unable to keep his mouth shut, Lonsberry posted a 1,300 word rant on his website detailing the firing and planted the seeds for a conspiracy theory that Mike Lee, a GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate was really behind his dismissal.

Of course, being suspicious is my stock-in-trade, and the timing of my termination and the stand I’ve been taking on the looming senatorial primary and the fact I’ve been opposing a candidate [Mike Lee] who made $600,000 from one of our largest advertisers last year, does make me wonder. Strings get pulled in the real world, and politics is hardball, and our program’s effort helped tip the nominating convention, so it’s not impossible that I lost my job in Salt Lake so that somebody else [Mike Lee] could get a job in Washington.

As a talk, sports, and news radio connoisseur and having had a short-lived run in radio business, the one thing I do know about the medium is that it’s like any other business: it’s all about making the station money. You can put on an entertaining show every day but if no one’s listening, then your show gets pulled. It’s as simple as that. As long as you’re the station’s making a profit, they’ll keep you on the air forever no matter how many politicians you piss off.

Years ago I listened to Lonsberry’s program on my way to work but stopped after he spent a good portion of my drive to work talking about inane subjects with his son, Lee, and the traffic reporter, Paige Bradford. It was like listening in on a phone conversation between friends catching up on each other’s lives. It wasn’t even close to entertaining radio. It was boring. Apparently a lot of other people felt the same way.

Sadly, Lonsberry’s conspiracy has found legs. The (Provo) Daily Herald reports that Tim Bridgewater supporters are jumping on the conspiracy theory bandwagon that ratings had nothing to do with Lonsberry’s dismissal. Lonsberry is now sending out robo calls on behalf of the Bridgewater campaing furthing the conspiracy talk. I received one on Friday. Like all conspiracy theories, however, not a shred of proof is offered to back this up. Instead a few events are strung together on the hopes, fears, and emotions of their audience.

If Lonsberry really wants to get back into radio, he needs to shut up and take a lesson from Armando Galarraga about how to handle setbacks with class. You lick your wounds, move on, and live to fight another day. Instead of weaving intricate conspiracy theories to assuage his bruised ego, Lonseberry would be better off to figuring out his next career move. Ten years is a long time to be in the radio business—especially on one station. If his show was as popular as he claimed, other radio stations might come calling. However, the more he rants about his conspiracy theory, the less attractive he becomes as a radio personality and a human being.

Getting a Utah Driver's License is Like Getting an Anal Exam

A Sample Utah Driver's License

Big thumbs down on Utah’s more restrictive driver’s license requirements.

After going through the requisite, but metaphorical, anal exam to renew my license today, I wondering if the legislators who passed the law are more concerned with people's citizenship then keeping unsafe drivers off the road.

In the past renewing a Utah driver's license, providing you had no points or citations on your record, was easy. You filled out a form, wrote a check, and mailed it in or do the entire process online. Two weeks later you’d get a renewal sticker. Only once every 10 years did you actually have to show up in person to renew. And aside from the requisite long line to stand it, getting a new one was pretty straight forward.

Now, it seems, the Utah Department of Public Safety is more concerned with applicants' citizenship status than whether or not they can actually drive. Whether you’re renewing your driver's license or getting a new one, you have to provide proof of citizenship along with a host of other proof of residence documents. (For a full list of what’s required, click here.)

So when I showed up this morning, I came with a birth certificate, social security card, a bank and utility statement (dated within the last 60 days). All of my documents were examined twice. After the second examination, my birth certificate and social security cared were scanned into their computer. (I assume they’re now part of some Big Brother database.) Amazingly they didn’t ask for a DNA or blood sample.

Don’t misunderstand. I have no problem ensuring driver license applicants are Utah residents before issuing them a Utah driver's license. However, I’d rather see more concern for keeping unsafe drivers off the roads than non-U.S citizens from driving. I’d rather share the road with 10 non-U.S. residents who know how to drive then one citizen of this great country who can’t. (And based on my daily commute to work, there are plenty Utah residents/US Citizens who can’t.)

Instead of worrying about citizenship, a smarter way to go would be to have every non-citizen or non-Utah resident applying for a driver's license take a driving test. If you don't pass you don't get a driver's license. Apply for a State ID card instead. All the new rules will accomplish is discouraging non-U.S. citizens from applying for a driver's license.

Sadly, having safe drivers behind the wheel seems to be the last thing on the minds of the wise, all-knowing elected officials in Salt Lake and the bureaucrats at Utah Department of Public Safety.