Thursday, March 31, 2005

A List of Favorites

As many of you know, I am a novice at this whole blog thing but I am pretty committed to making most of my entries "Notes" or "Reports". Tonight, however, I am introducing a new category of entry entitled "Lists".

Today's list: My Favorites

Favorite Car I Will Never Own: Jaguar XKE

Favorite Way to Annoy My Wife: Blog

Favorite OTC Drug: Sudafed (Today my allergies are raging)

Favorite Language to Listen to: Guarani (It just sounds so exotic and gutteral)

Favorite Spice: Cumin

Favorite Candy: Mike and Ike's (The Peeps entry got me to thinking)

Favorite Nut Now Ruined Because I Have to Share It with My Kids: Pistachios

Favorite Foreign Musical Group: The Gypsy Kings

Favorite Word from the '8o's: Rad

A Note on the Last Month

We have officially reached the last month of the pregnancy and things here have really gotten hectic.

Stepdaughter to orthodontist--$2000
1997 Honda Civic to automobile technician--$1000
Me to supermarket at 10:00 p.m. for angel food cake--$3.99
Taxes to IRS--???
Good night sleep--priceless.

I have to say that my wife is a trooper. The contractions started a few days ago during the middle of the night and like the good husband I am, I slept right through them. She was tempted to smack me in the head so that I could suffer with her, but, no, she just let me sleep.

She rocks.

On a final note, my stepdaughter garnered Swimmer of the Month honors at the local swim club for the month of February (they were a bit behind awarding in). Job well done.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A Note on My Niece

A few months ago, my sister related the following story. I thought it appropriate to repeat it here.

Katie (we'll call her Katie to protect the innocent or questionably innocent) and her brother, Cody (ditto), love to challenge their father on the family's newly acquired X-Box. Being the precocious and competitive children they are at six and seven, they often acquit themselves well. One morning Katie entered the basement to find her brother demolishing Dad and responded by exclaiming, "Dad, Cody's kicking your -bleep- (insert appropriately naughty word here)"

Cody hardly budged but Dad did a flip and nearly fell out of his chair. "Katie, dear, we don't talk like that," he suggested with considerable restrain.

"Like what?"

"Well, do you know what that means?"

"No, but the kids at school say it all the time."

Dad thought it over for a time and, after consulting with Mom, he broke the news to Katie that she had sworn. Katie was devastated. She was nearly inconsolable. My sister, of course, saw the opportunity to teach a valuable lesson and so she grabbed both Cody and Katie and, in a soft, soothing voice she began. "Now, Katie," she started, "haven't you heard some of the bad words the kids say at school."

"I don't know, Mom. The kids say lots of words. I don't know which ones are swear words and which ones aren't."

Cody nodded his head and chipped in. "Yeah, Mom, we don't know. Maybe you and Dad should just sit down and tell us all the swear words you know so that we know what they are and we don't say 'em."

Makes all the sense in the world. Ah, the joys of parenting. I wanted so badly to be there when the list began.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A Note on Hangers and Walk-in Closets

As I look around, I notice that we have far too many hangers. There ought to be a hanger recycling center. We take unhangered clothes to the cleaner each and every week and in return we get clothes on hangers and then the cycle repeats itself. I don't recall us going to the cleaners with hangers. I would assume they would take them back but I am not sure of the hanger etiquette at dry cleaners. Speaking of cleaners, mine, Malibu Cleaners, has cleaning facilities in Miami, Florida, San Jose, Costa Rica and here in St. George, Utah. That is quite the trifecta. I lost a shirt one time and I have no idea where it might be now.
In addition to the hangers in the walk-in closet, I notice that my wife owns lots of shoes, but my wife insists she can only wear two-the black ones and the brown ones-in her current pregnant condition. The remaining 30 pair are just resting now.
On a totally unrelated theme, the walk-in has a funky odor. I think it might be my shoes.

Monday, March 28, 2005

A Note on the Final Four

I will begin with all of my woes. The Utes just choked at the foul line. Arizona just choked in the backcourt. West Virginia didn't so much choke as they just lost focus at some point. That'll happen to a #7 seed. So my favorite teams struggled a bit, but it looks like the Final Four should be a tremendous event, especially following the outstanding regional finals.

On to the Final Four picks.

North Carolina vs. Michigan State--I like the talent of Carolina and the big body of Sean May. In the end I just don't think Roy Williams instills confidence at this level. I think his kids look over to him in these situations and they see a guy who hopes they win. On the other hand, Tom Izzo is a winner. His team isn't necessarily the more talented of the teams but they are as athletic as Carolina and I think their senior leadership will carry them through to the National Championship game. Final Verdict: MSU by 6.

Illinois vs. Louisville--This is a toughie for me because I like Louisville so much and I think Francisco Garcia is a special player. I also like the fact that Taquan Dean and Garcia are both willing to take big shots. Garcia struggled getting shots against WV but I expect that he will be a little more comfortable shooting over the smaller guards of Illinois. That being said, I am an Illinois convert. They are quick and relentless. Yes, Arizona should have beaten them, but they just kept plugging along. I hate to say it but Illinois is the better team in this spot and will get easier baskets in transition which will help them late in the game, i.e. they'll be fresher. Final Verdict: Illinois by 9.

A Note on the Things I Love

In an attempt to contribute to a wonderful little writing project that I just found called the Alchera Project, I am writing this entry about all the things I love. Most of the items are self explanatory, but should the item need an explanation, one will be provided. On occasion I tried to get extra credit with some alliteration.

I love....

Ancient American Archaeology and The Amazing Race
Birdwatching and Bay Area Basketball (The Golden State Warriors)
Canasta and Classic Rock
Dr. Pepper and Dogs
Ethnographies and Ek Balam--the latter is a Mayan site in Central Yucatan
Food and Family History
Geocaching and Golf
Horse Racing and Hemingway
I Love You's and Idaho (My home state)
Jaguars (the cars not the animals) and Jello Cake
Kids and Kismet--my wife made me put kismet because of the way we met
Los Angeles Dodgers and La-Z-Boy loungers
Mascots and March Madness--both are basketball related terms
Nickels and Novel Writing
Oxkintok and Odes--the former is another Maya site and the latter goes with Grecian Urns
Photography and Paraguay
Quixote and quinellas--I speak Spanish and I don't handicap well enough for exactas
Rock Art and Rules
Snorkelling and Snickers (the candy bar not the reactions to my entries)
Tahiti and Turquoise
USA and Underdogs--appropriate given the 25th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice
Vacations and Vanilla
Wilkie Collins and Wife--first thing my wife asked me was if she was included
X's and O's and Xerigraphic landscaping--hey, its X
Yesteryear and Youth
Zoos and Zeroes--particularly at the end of my paychecks

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A Note on Peeps

My wife batted her eyes and got that puppy dog look. It was pathetic. Of course, she can do whatever she wants, but Peeps. She wanted Peeps. Yep, those sugary, marshmellowy, cotton candy-like confections shaped like ghosts or Christmas trees or, in today's case, classic pink Easter Bunnies.
As I have said on many occasions, I am a large man that likes to eat, but the line has to be drawn somewhere and, for me, its right before eating Peeps. So in honor of the baseball steroid hearings and the new drug policy in baseball, I am officially designating Peeps as a banned substance here in WilkeWorld. My kids may get hyped up on them and my wife may even purchase them with the intent to distribute them to minors, but as for me, I am banning them altogether.
In addition to the ban on Peeps, I wish to publish a list of other banned substances here in WilkeWorld and why they have been placed on said list.

Peeps--Essentially they are sugar-flavored sugar bars. I am convinced that you can get high on Peeps.

Candy Corn--Sugared wax...mmm...delicious.

Circus Peanuts--I would honestly love to hear from someone that likes these diabolical little vomit inducers.

Coconut--I know that placing coconut on the banned substance list is tricky as so many good people seem to like coconut, but any substance that has the consistency of toenail clippings will automatically get added to the list. Just thinking about it is giving me chills.

Happy Easter, everybody.

Friday, March 25, 2005

A Report on Escalante Ruins

I am slowly but surely working my way through the reports on all the sites we visited on our little journey through the Southwest. Today I want to report on both the Dominguez and Escalante Ruins that are associated with the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colorado.

The Dominguez Ruins are small and unimpressive, but curious in that the ruins are circular and look a little bit like a snail in terms of their floorplan. It was said in the literature given out at the museum that a large cache of artifacts were found in the excavation of the Dominguez ruin.

The Escalante ruin, on the other hand, was impressive in terms of architecture. It sits atop a prominent hill that looks out to both the East and the West. It takes about 15 or 20 minutes to climb to the top on the paved path (30 minutes with a 2-year-old), but the view and the ruins are well worth the climb. The most impressive structure is the reconstructed kiva that is about 12 feet deep and dominates the central portion of the site. The rest of the rooms are situated around the kiva and are in various stages of excavation/reconstruction. I would imagine that a group of 20 to 30 people could have inhabited the structure at its apogee. Along with the Dominguez ruin about 1/4 mile down the hill, the total population of the village was probably around 50.

They aren't the most impressive ruins in the area, but they are accessible and interesting and worth a short visit.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A Note on Fear

Monsters under the bed terrify my little one. Thunder almost brings her to tears. The threat of drowning in the pool, however, does not even phase her.

I take the little one to the pool today and before I know it she is taking off her sandals and running toward the deep end. She is two and cannot swim. "I gonna go swimming, Daddy," she shouted as she left me in her wake. I, of course, rushed off in full lifeguard mode and barely saved her from disaster. After a few consoling words like "Honey, you don't know how to swim so please don't leave Daddy," she allowed me to corral her and take her back to safer waters.

It wasn't long before she eyed the big water slide with some interest. I thought she might be scared so I urged her to hold on tight. We launched ourselves from atop the slide and she held tightly to my legs sensing that it might be scary. When we swirled around and were deposited at the bottom I waited for the scared cry. Instead, she just slithered out of my grasp, almost drowned, and then stumbled up the stairs exclaiming joyously, "I go again. I go again."

I guess I should be grateful and happy that my child is so independent and fearless, but, just yesterday, she wailed in agony because my wife wouldn't let her travel two blocks across a main thoroughfare to see her 13-year-old friend. Oh, its going to be a long battle with that one.

A Note on Dress Codes

I wish to carefully word the following entry so that I only offend those I mean to offend with my comments.

I am no Brad Pitt. Nor am I Harrison Ford. I am perhaps more like Dom DeLuise, so I am not commenting on personal fitness or natural looks in any way, but I want to boldly state, to all who will listen, the Dress Code rules of WilkeWorld.

Rule #1--If you are female and weigh over 200 lbs. you should not wear thong underwear that can be seen when you bend over. I realize that you may like it, but others should not be made to endure the sight.

Rule #2--If you are trying to be hip-hop and your pants actually fall to the ground leaving you in your bunhuggers, you should buy a good reliable belt. I know its the style, but if it just falls to the ground, style is out the window anyway.

Rule #3--Plumber-Bum is never a fashion statement no matter how attractive you are. I hate to mention this, but this is mostly addressed to the females.

Rule #4--Pregnancy is glorious and wonderful, but belly shirts and hiphuggers are never a good look for the condition.

Rule #5--If you wear what is called a wife-beater, it is likely that you will be treated as such.

Rule #6--If you are a 300 lb. man with a beer belly, please try to find a shirt that reaches over the belly.

Rule #7--Dress socks should never be the first option when wearing sandals.

Please feel free to comment should you see the need to add other rules. I hope there will be no exceptions.

A Note on the NCAA Tournament V

Okay, I am ready and willing to tackle another great week of college basketball. I was officially out of the running on my brackets last week as Syracuse lost right off the bat, but I am not discouraged as I did pick a couple of the upsets.

On to today's matchups:

Washington vs. Louisville--I have Louisville picked to go to the Final Four so I won't back down now. I like Louisville. I just think that Rick Pitino's system is well suited to the NCAA Tourney and I like that he has a leader in Francisco Garcia who is not afraid to take a pressure shot. The funny thing is that I like Louisville if the game is in the 70's or 80's but if it gets into a total track meet, it favors Washington. Final verdict: Louisville by 7.

Arizona vs. Oklahoma State--I actually like both of these two team but in this situation I like the team that plays better defense. So....Oklahoma State gets the nod here. I mentioned that Salim Stoudamire will be a star in this year's tournament, and I like him to get his 20 points here, but Channing Frye will struggle and Hassan Adams will not be able to run uncontested down the floor. Look for this one to be tight but the final verdict is: Oklahoma State by 3.

Illinois vs. UW-Milwaukee--The slipper falls and breaks here. I like UW-Milwaukee and have talked about their outside prowess before, but I just think that Illinois will just steamroll in this game. They play three guards consistently which will allow them to pressure the 3-pointer and they are a strong rebounding team. UW-Milwaukee will stay close for the first 15 minutes but the final verdict: Illinois by 19.

West Virginia vs. Texas Tech--I didn't pick either of these teams at the beginning of the tournament and actually thought that both would get upset in their opening round games. Oh, how wrong I was. I believe West Virginia rotates the ball around the perimeter as well as almost any other team in the tourney, and I think that will get them open shots in this one, but I hate to say that I think Tech will find a way to sneak by. They will control and limit every possession and make West Virginia work defensively for 3o seconds before they will attack, and I like that strategy against a streaky team. The verdict: TTech by 6 in a low scoring affair.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A Note on Sizzler

Before I begin, let me say that I am in no way endorsing Sizzler Restaurant with my comments in this blog, but if it helps to get a Sizzler to my hometown, then, yes, I am endorsing Sizzler.

That's right. My hometown and the surrounding area has no Sizzler. That would be okay and understandable if I lived in a tiny town, but I live in an area with nearly 130,000 residents. We've got a Chili's, an Outback, an Applebee's, two Denny's, every known fast food shack this side of the Mississippi, but we have no Sizzler. For heaven's sake, we live in a retirement community where fine dining is a Shoney's and we have no Sizzler.

I bring this up, because today my wife and I wanted a $7.00 steak and some shrimp and we just drove around perplexed and hungry. We actually came home and skipped the Panda Express and the Quizno's. We are now chowing on a homemade ham sandwich, but we could have had a tough 4 oz. sirloin and an overdone baked potato and been happy.

If anyone is listening, we need a Sizzler here. The old folks would pack the place between 4:00 and 6:00, and I could satisfy my desire for All-you-can-eat Shrimp at any hour. Please! Please!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A Note on Mike Davis and Indiana

I read this story with mixed emotions. I don't know Mike Davis. I have never met him. I really don't know if he is a good guy or not, so I don't know whether to root that he keeps his job or not, but I find his plight a bit problematic.

Nowhere in the article does it mention the graduation rate of his program. Similarly, it fails to mention whether his relationship with the student athletes in his program is collegiate and respectful (issues that plagued Bobby Knight prior to his release). I understand that the university and its administrators expect great things from this program, and going 15-14 doesn't cut it in Bloomington, but when the only criteria is win-loss percentage, the state of collegiate athletics is abysmal.

Having attended UNLV for a semester or two, I have come to the conclusion that prostituting the integrity of a university for a gaudy record just bites you in the behind eventually. As for Indiana, I hear that Tark is available.

A Note on At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig

Lest anyone be confused at the title of this entry, my wife bought me this book entitled, At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig written by John Gimlette, and for awhile now, I have wanted to comment on it in this forum.

Mr. Gimlette subtitled his book, Travels through Paraguay, and it is essentially a discussion on his experiences in a country that is often described as an island surrounded by land. I have read nearly 1/3 of the book and have a few concerns. As an historian, Gimlette vividly describes the often schizophrenic nature of Paraguayan political history. As a journalist, he expertly interviews informants and experiences a great deal of elite Paraguayan social life. But at every turn of the page, he comes across as an outsider that treats his subjects as second-class citizens.

He experiences Asuncion, but only a very elitist portion of it. Having lived in Barrio Mburucuya, where the parties take place and the wealthy drive their Jaguars and Mercedes', I know his Asuncion exists, but to suggest that anyone else cares at all for those people, he is mistaken. The Asuncion I know cares deeply about their country and their guarani heritage. Yes, the average Paraguayan is politically conscious, and, yes, he probably does concern himself with the snaky undercurrent of Paraguayan government, but he is probably more concerned with feeding his family and watching Cerro battle Olimpia for the futbol championship.

I have found Gimlette's Asuncion to be interesting, but not grounded in normality. Yes, Madame Lynch rocked South America, but to most Paraguayans, Madame Lynch is the name of one of the roads. I know that I ought to read the entire book, maybe he will talk about the Paraguay I know, but right now his Asuncion is nothing but a suburb of Buenos Aires. The Argentines will find that humerous, but the Paraguayans find it disturbing.

Monday, March 21, 2005

A Note on Canasta

Some people are just lucky and others are just skilled enough to make their own luck. I doubt if my wife and I are either, but after last night's canasta game, we may be planning our trip to Vegas.

My parents were the lambs at the slaughter and, despite their general good natured humor, they left at the end of the night on tenuous terms. We won three straight. I am not bragging, but we must be very good. Kudos to my wife for continually making canastas. I was proud to call her my partner. My parents will probably comment to this post with an alternate version of the night's proceedings, but I would characterize it as a complete domination. My amazing humility prevents me from gloating further.

Love ya, Mom and Dad.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A Note on Dressing Myself

"Honey, honestly, there is no way I am going to let you go to church like that."

So I look in my sock box for a pair of black socks that do not possess little holes right where the big toe rests against the inside of the shoe. I find a pair of socks that may work, but then I realize they do not match. My wife won't let me wear the tan socks with the black shoes, black slacks and white long-sleeved dress shirt, and I can't find a pair of black socks that aren't in tatters. I feel the temperature rising in the room. I make a final plea to allow me the comfort of the tan socks. It is summarily rebuffed.

Aha!! A pair of black socks with thin brown stripes peeks out from the sock box. I hadn't seen it earlier. One small hole may appear later but the pair seems to be wearable. I look anxiously at my wife. Will this pair suffice? She seems relieved that I won't be wearing the tan socks. All is well once again. Catastrophe averted.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

A Report on Aztec Ruins National Monument

About halfway between the well-known cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde and the beautiful and impressive ruins of Chaco Canyon in central New Mexico, the underappreciated but fascinating Ancestral Puebloan structures strangely known as Aztec Ruins look out over the Animas River. My family and I visited them this week as we sped through the Southwest, and I found them to be outstanding.

The ruins have been designated a World Heritage Site, and I concur that the designation is aptly applied in this case. The main ruin, the West Ruin, underwent major excavation and stabilization beginning in 1916 and another reconstruction period in the 1930’s. The lead archaeologist on the reconstruction and excavation of Aztec Ruins, Earl H. Morris, was both praised for his work at Aztec Ruins and criticized for his aggressive reconstruction. Opponents claim he may have misrepresented some architectural features of the Great Kiva during his reconstruction, but I have to insist that, although it may be a product of a little creative license employed by Morris, it sure has the look and feel of a religious sanctuary.

The West Ruin is said to have included nearly 400 rooms rising to three stories. It was built in a U-shape and surrounds a courtyard that includes two large kivas—one of them the Great Kiva mentioned above. My family had the privilege of scampering through a few of the rooms in the main structure and then descending into the Great Kiva.
Even my girls enjoyed the exploration despite the cold temperatures that accompanied our visit.

The West Ruin and its Great Kiva are outstanding examples of Ancestral Puebloan architecture and building, but I discovered that the West Ruin is just the only part of the complex open to the public. The site itself is much larger and the ruined mounds can be seen by looking to the east from the plaza area of the West Ruin. In fact, the Great Kiva of the East Ruin is thought to be even larger than the Great Kiva of the West Ruin.

As a final thought on this ruin, I want to say that I am usually against aggressive reconstruction efforts. I have felt for years that the INAH program in Mexico is geared to providing a tourist experience rather than maintaining archaeological integrity. That being said, I liked Aztec Ruins. I felt that the reconstruction was aggressive but not outlandish. I would recommend a visit to the site and its wonderful little museum.

You can see Aztec Ruins National Monument at

A Note on the NCAA Tournament IV

The third day has excitedly ended and although I am officially out of the bracket because of the Syracuse loss to Vermont, my predictions have been pretty right on. A recap:

1. UW-Milwaukee moves on to the Sweet 16 as predicted here at WilkeWorld.

2. Salim Stoudamire gets red hot against UAB and tallies 28 points. I predicted 30.

3. Utah and Oklahoma was brutally physical, but not as physical as the Cincinnati-Kentucky game.

4. My downer for the day was the performance of Pacific. It wasn't so much that they played so horribly, it was that Washington was so dominant. Wow!

As for tomorrow, chances are my wife will steal the remote and forbid me to watch any more hoops, but, in case I steal it back, I look for Bucknell and Vermont to come back to earth a little bit. They will be competetive, but will eventually fall to stronger, deeper teams. I also think the Louisville-Georgia Tech game will be outstanding.

A Note on Toddler OCD

"Daddy, turn it around. Daddy, your hat, turn it around. It's on funny, turn it around."

My little girl got more and more vociferous as I ignored her pleas. The fact that my hat was put on backwards threw her into a tizzie. She thought it funny at first. Ha ha, Daddy's hat is on backwards, but when I didn't immediately turn it around she just lost it.

The little obsession shows up in other ways as well. If my shoelace is not properly and appropriately tied or the necktie I'm wearing is askew, my little one is just on my case. Of course, I blame the malady on my wife's genetic makeup as surely I had nothing to do with it. In fact, I wonder if it is really genetic at all, perhaps my little girl is just mimicking behavior she has observed in her mother and sister. You can bet I will keep an eye on this development.

Friday, March 18, 2005

A Note on Writers Block

I don't have it today. In fact, I have quite the opposite problem. I have a plethora of good ideas but I don't have the energy or the time to commit them all to this forum. For example:

I found myself in the bookstore today trying to find a book on starting a photography business (something we have considered recently), when I came upon two books that challenged my religious beliefs. I felt a rush of adrenaline as I briefly perused them, and I felt a strong desire to defend my beliefs and write a scathing critique of them. After weighing my options, I have concluded that everyone has beliefs that they hold dear, and so do I.

Today was the penultimate day of work at my current job. I had intended to write a synopsis of my bout with short-timer's syndrome, but, in the end, I am more interested in having the ultimate day pass by.

I watched a portion of the hearings on baseball's steroid problem on Thursday and I really want to chime in with my take on Jose Canseco, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa, but I think I said all I wanted in my Note on Honesty written earlier. We will never know the full truth, because we don't want to.

Lastly, I really wanted to write a report on Aztec Ruins National Monument, but, at the last second, it sounded pretty boring so I am writing this.

A Note on the NCAA Tournament III

I had an inkling last night that Syracuse might be in trouble, so I mentioned it here, and, sure enough, they go out and get schooled by a gritty Vermont team. As for my other observations, I was dead on with Bucknell. I didn't really see Kansas struggling there, but the rules were against them. Remember, the NIT has a habit of showing a strong conference, and this year it was the Patriot and, oh, yeah, we had to remember that we were talking about Kansas.

As for the other first round games on Friday, I figured there would be a few minor upsets and N.C. State was dead on, as was Mississippi State.

And what about my New Mexico pick? They showed up about 30 minutes too late. I lay the blame at Richie McKay's doorstep with that pathetic performance. They were deer in the headlights that first half and they were unprepared. Ditto for Saint Mary's.

Things to watch for tomorrow. I like alot of higher seeds to play well, but I really like Pacific to pull a big upset. They pass the ball so well and can defend. The Huskies cannot turn the ball over if they hope to win this game comfortably. I also believe that the Utah-Oklahoma game might just be one of the most physical games of the tournament. Oklahoma will win cause Utah is offensively challenged, but Bogut's elbows will be flailing. I am still counting on UW-Milwaukee but I just sense that they will struggle from three-point country and that will doom them.

I liked the performance of Francisco Garcia, today. His team struggled but he got them through. The matchup with G-Tech will be exciting.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Note on the NCAA Tournament II

Well, it is the end of the first full day of competition and some teams tangoed nicely while others did the Macarena for a half and bowed out. As for me, I did okay, but that doesn't bode well for me on Friday. My scorecard:

1. I did, in fact, call the UW-Milwaukee game, but I need them to spring another upset over B.C. to get full credit. They are shooters, however, and B.C. is very young.

2. The fact that UW-Milwaukee was a #12 seed beating a #5 seed was also a solid omen for me, but New Mexico was my called shot so I hope they come through.

3. The Utah State-Arizona game was interesting as I predicted with Arizona only scoring 66 points, but the defense they exhibited impressed me. They didn't get the big game from Salim Stoudamire in this one, but I think he will explode in this next game. I say he goes for 30.

4. A lot of top seeds struggled for a half before getting by in the second half...see Gonzaga, Wake Forest, and Illinois.

5. Pittsburgh showed up about a half too late for there to be any real fireworks in their game against Pacific. Look for the game against Washington to be really close. Pacific could pull the upset.

Things to look for tomorrow...

The top 3 seeds all get through, but upsets should rule the day in those in-between games. There is just too much parity in the middle.

A low seed will get a monster performance out of a superstar and almost pull off an upset. Vermont vs Syracuse will be close. I know I picked Syracuse to go all the way, but I have a funny feeling that this will be tight.

Oh, this is fun......!

A Note on the Shoes

I'm traveling down the highway just west of Kayenta, Arizona in the heart of the Navaho Reservation when I notice a pair of shoes suspended from the power lines above the highway. I say just west of Kayenta, but it was more like 8 to 10 miles outside of Kayenta in the middle of nowhere. How did they get there?

I pondered this question for awhile on my trip. Someone had to place them there. It must have been a tedious task trying to throw them up there and actually have them stay there. How long must it have taken? The question of the shoes plagued me further.

I arrived home yesterday and today I posed the question of the shoes to my cohorts at work. Apparently, the shoes on the power line is a common teenage prank played by everyone. Where was I growing up? I totally missed out on the shoes on the power line gig. I thought I was cool. I mean I was down with the cow tipping and the snipe hunting and once or twice I pulled off the Atomic Sit-up prank, but I was clueless about the shoes on the power line. Maybe my youth wasn't as fulfilling as it could or should have been. I would have loved to have stolen a pair of shoes from one of my buddies and have spent countless hours trying to suspend them above the highway. Oh, well, I still have fond memories of throwing cattails at semis.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Note on Heritage

The big family trip wrapped up today at about 5:00 p.m. with much relief and four very tired bodies happy to see their own beds. We left last Saturday and travelled to Page, Arizona and then, on Sunday, we drove to Durango, Colorado with brief stops at Navajo National Monument, Four Corners Tribal Park, and the Dominguez and Escalante Ruins outside of Cortez. Monday we woke the kids up early and dragged them to Aztec, New Mexico, and then North to Silverton before we exhaustedly returned to our digs in Durango. Tuesday, we left Durango and spent a good portion of the day in Mesa Verde National Park before we drove to Blanding, Utah. After a much needed pitstop in Blanding, we woke up this morning and high-tailed it home.


Now that the travelogue is complete, I want to focus a bit on the importance of a family heritage. Yesterday evening I visited the grave of my grandfather and showed it to my little girl and my stepdaughter. Naturally, it meant very little to them as they didn't know my granddad, but just the act of introducing them to my heritage was significant and satisfying.

Along those same lines, this morning, I had the opportunity to show my girls the ruins of my great great grandfather's house in an historic district in Bluff, Utah. The ruins were slightly more impressive than the grave marker so I recieved a more enthusiastic response than yesterday. I proudly loaded the girls into the minivan and smiled. I'm blessed with a last name imbued with honor that was passed down.

As I drove home across the Navajo Nation thinking about my heritage, I wondered about the heritage of the men and women who spend their lives on the reservation. Is it a proud and honored heritage? Do their children know it? I suspect that some parents share it and others don't. I suspect some children listen and others don't. I wonder if my children will know the importance of their heritage.

This topic of heritage seemed to dominate my thoughts during my trip. Do I carry the badge of my heritage? Would my ancestors be proud of how I honor the name they gave me? How do I honor them? Just questions I asked as I cut through the canyons and rode over the mesas.

A Note on the NCAA Tournament

The last several years my family has hosted a March Madness competition with the winner getting bragging rights for the rest of the year. This usually wouldn't be a big deal in most households, but my father is a former basketball coach, so in our family it is a gigantic big deal. That being said, I have never won the competition and I am almost certain that I have finished dead last more that once. It is a humiliating situation. However, last year, my family did not hold an official competition so I entered my work's March Madness pool and I won.

So..., now that I am a qualified legitimate college basketball soothsayer, I feel justified in giving the following advice.

In working one's way through the brackets, one should remember the following five rules:

1. One #12 seed will upset a #5 seed. This is always much talked about by the announcers on the first weekend of the tourney, so it is almost cliche to mention it here, but for some reason it is almost always true. Look for a New Mexico upset against Villanova. Danny Granger is a one-man wrecking crew, but he has some help with David Chiotti and Alfred Neale. New Mexico lost only 3 games with Granger in the lineup. Sure, their schedule is weak, but they can play.

2. The winner of the Dance will have a standout player that can carry the load in a game when the other players are only so-so. Carmelo Anthony in 2003 and Emeka Okafor in 2004 are the most recent players to carry their teams to the title. Players like Hakim Warrick, John Lucas, Francisco Garcia, and Salim Stoudamire seem to fit the build this year.

3. A low seed from a mid-major conference will make the Sweet 16. It happens every year. This year I like Wisconsin-Milwaukee from the Horizon Conference. It might be a stretch to call the Horizon a mid-major but this team can shoot themselves to a couple of victories.

4. The NIT exposes some conferences both good and bad. This year, Holy Cross went out and won their first round NIT game and did it in dominant fashion. I don't expect Kansas to have a whole lot of trouble with Bucknell, but the Crusader win in the NIT should raise some eyebrows for fans in the Corn Belt. Beware the ambush. Speaking of Kansas....

5. It is hard to determine this last rule, but either Kansas or a Roy Williams-coached team will underperform in the tournament. My brother is a diehard Kansas fan and he picks them to win every year and every year they totally disappoint him. I don't know who gets off the shnide this year, but be careful putting Kansas or North Carolina in the final box.

As for me, I will call my shot now. I have Syracuse edging out Oklahoma State in the final 78-74 with Gerry McNamara scoring 24 points on 6 of 8 three point shooting. Here are some other tidbits and things to watch.

Best Stylistic Matchup--Arizona vs. Utah State--one of the best offenses against one of the best defenses.
Funnest First Round Game--Pacific vs. Pittsburgh--the passing in this one should be exciting.
Most Interesting Matchup--Utah vs. UTEP--old WAC foes meet up with big man Bogut facing little man Rivera.
Biggest Blowout--Duke vs. Delaware State--it will get out of control early and Duke can score in big bunches.
Conference to Watch--West Coast Conference--not only did Gonzaga and Saint Mary's field strong teams, but so did nearly everyone in that conference. They will be battle-tested.

Good luck and good television viewing.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

A Quick Note on My Vacation

That's right. I'm going on vacation. We are dragging the whole family to Durango, Colorado for a few days looking for photo ops and trying to find archaeology sites. We will return on Wednesday, March 16th just in time to fill out the NCAA brackets, and hopefully I will have a bounteous collection of articles for the blog. See ya all in a few...

Friday, March 11, 2005

A Note on Anniversaries

My mother and father celebrated their 37th big anniversary this week, and, like the good son I am, I totally forgot it and didn't even call. So, in this blog entry, I would like to officially apologize and tell them how proud I am of them and how much I love my parents. They are two of the best people I know and the fact that they have hung in there together for so long is a real compliment to them.

My family had the opportunity last year to spend nearly 7 months with my folks as we were waiting for houses to sell and the like, and in that time, we grew to really appreciate their hospitality and charm. My daughters adore Grandpa and Grandma and even my wife says nice things about her in-laws.

Mom, Dad, I love you. By the way, the canasta game starts at 6:00 p.m. next Sunday. Bring your A game.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Note on Profanity

On a little more serious note, I wanted to jot down some of my feelings on profanity. I don't know why this struck me as being pertinent today but it did, so I am going to give it a whirl.

As a young boy, I guess I was probably nine or ten-years-old, I had what I can only call an obsessive-compulsive desire to swear. I didn't want to use profane language (I was quite prudish to be honest), but for some reason I would just swear. Yeah, the biggies. I wouldn't really use them in a sentence or anything. I would just say them over and over again and each time I would say them I would feel guilty, but I couldn't stop. It became a real concern for me and I would pray to have the strength to quit swearing, but nothing worked. One day I read a quote made by Spencer W. Kimball that changed my perspective on swearing and cured me forever. He said, "Profanity is the weak effort of a feeble mind to express itself forcibly". I did not have a feeble mind and so I would not swear. It was that easy.

I have thought about that quote on numerous occasions and found it to be rather enlightening. It takes absolutely no thought to swear and swearing is not particularly creative in any way. I mean, think about it, there are probably only five or six cuss words that are used with any frequency and yet many people insist on using them over and over. What if we could only use six words when describing the colors we see, or the textures we feel? I mean, if we are going to berate someone with language, we ought to be more creative.

I was listening to an actor discuss with Jay Leno the role he played in a cable television series. He played a rough guy and apparently he swore a lot as his character. Jay, of course, laughed and thought the role was unique and creatively portrayed. Say what, Jay? They couldn't even show a clip of his show because they couldn't find a scene that would get by the network sensors. I am sorry, but a guy spouting profanity for an hour doesn't seem all that interesting. This leads me to my last observation.

I remember the Robin Williams-Robert DeNiro flick, Awakenings, recieved a PG-13 rating. After watching the first hour of the film, I wondered why. There was nothing objectionable and the film was uplifting and inspiring and, then, I heard the big bomb. Yep, the king of all cuss words just leaped off the screen. Then, nothing. No, no more cussing. You mean to tell me they wrote the big bomb into the movie just to get a "more serious" rating. Yeah. Probably. I just think its sad.

I have cussed on occasion since those days of compulsion and obsession, yet afterwords I have been disappointed that I didn't use a better adjective or a more creative noun. Just a thought.

A Note on Fatherhood

As I have mentioned ad nauseum in this forum, I am a father of two soon to be three. Well, this past night was one of those nights that you long for the old days of singlehood. Not that I would ever want to go back, mind you, but singlehood did have certain perks. A good night's sleep was one of them.

I sleep on a Simmons Beautyrest Pillowtop with excellent motion separation, but last night my wife was so incredibly uncomfortable she was shaking the bed at 15 minute intervals as she tried to get comfortable. At about 2:30 in the morning, as I was in a state of semi-sleep, my wife screamed in agony as Charley's horse made a brief but painful stop in our bed. She nearly kicked me onto the floor as she screamed and struggled to get her calf into a position that I could massage it. Again, I was not the person in pain, so I should just shut up and be thankful, but it didn't help my night any.

After massaging my wife's calf into relative relaxation, I again attempted sleep with mixed results. At about 5:00, my littlest daughter started screaming in her sleep that she was cold. We then heard a thud and a cry for help. Yep, she fell out of bed and bonked her head. I rescued the little angel and carried her to our bed and tried to get her to calm down. She eventually did, but she then saw a need to cuddle up with me. She is a little heater first and foremost, but she is also a little bedhog. Before I knew it, I was attempting sleep on about five inches of mattress.

That experience ended about 10 minutes ago and now I am writing this blog entry.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A Note on Cell Phones

According to my wife and several others, I was apparently overzealous in my "Note on Old People" and may have come across harshly critical of their driving skills. So, to even things out, I will take firm aim at the younger crowd and their cell phones. Now, I realize that the older crowd is just as capable of cell phone idiocy as the younger crowd, but for the purposes of this note, I will address my own.

It should be noted that I do not own a cell phone. My wife does and she is one of those I am addressing, but, as for me, I am no hypocrit. I may be in the future, but, for now, I am not.

The way I see it, cell phone idiocy displays itself in three distinct ways. First, the cell phone talker totally loses volume control. My buddy, Bruce, summed it up when he claimed his wife somehow believed that since the caller was several hundred miles away she needed to yell into the phone to be heard from that distance. This idiocy takes place in restaurants, libraries, retail stores and, strangely enough, DMV lines. It is particularly helpful to catch the phrase, "Can you hear me now?" while waiting to check out your book at the library. Just lovely.

The second way cell phone idiocy is displayed is in the car. I am a big fan of the chin/shoulder cradle that occurs with the cell phone when the driver needs that extra sip of Starbucks. This past week I was nearly sideswiped by a young upwardly mobile slickster as he casually forgot that there were two turning lanes. I am sure my repeated polite honks would have been heard had he not had the miniscule cell phone attached to his head during his leisurely drive. The IQ of a driver plummets when the cell phone is put into use.

Lastly, idiocy in general is amplified by cell phones. I look at young high school kids and I think they could either be brilliant leaders of tomorrow or.... total idiots. I really don't know, but then the cell phone will go off and I get a glimpse of the future. "Wassup, dude?", "Where you at?", "I'm just chillin with Jimmy down here at the mall", "#$%^$@#". Well, you get the idea and so does everyone down at the mall.

Look, I am not against the idea of cell phones. I guess they have their place. Its just not in the car next to me or in the booth on the other side of the pillar at Chili's.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A Note on the Purgatory Cup

A couple of years ago my father got the outrageous idea to start up an event here in Utah's Dixie to feature the best racehorses in the West. After a few bumps and bruises, the event has reached its fifth birthday. It is appropriately named The Purgatory Cup and can be reached with this link

As a mettling son, I wanted to be involved so my dad handed me the microphone and I sort of MC the entire event. The website explains the whole concept. We want to see everyone out at the track Come join us in September and October.

A Report on Three-Mile Petroglyph Site

The Three-Mile Petroglyph Site sits on a ridge just below a knoll that overlooks the Santa Clara River in Southwest Utah. I have visited the petroglyphs and the series of small ruined pithouse foundations found atop the knoll several times, and I have found it to be a place of reflection and peace. Perhaps I am smitten by the Indian Paintbrush that dots the surroundings or the horned frogs that scuttle through the June grass. I suspect that my fascination with this site stems from the brilliant examples of rock art found scrawled on the boulders and cliff sides.

I haven’t found a lot of written information on the site, but I suspect that it dates to the Anasazi culture that flourished here between 1000 A.D. and 1320 A.D. One of my favorite examples is a spaceman figure with an oversized head and antennae that extend from it. I also find the panel of the three separate bighorn sheep, each a different size, to be particularly interesting. The rock art extends for maybe 400-500 yards with a heavy concentration being found high on the cliff side. It doesn’t appear as though this band of people made their camp in the valley next to the river, but rather on the knoll I mentioned above.

A Note on Frustration

My day...

I woke up an hour early and couldn't get back to sleep.
I waited in my car at three construction sites for construction vehicles to cross the road.
I took my kid to the General Store to get penny candy only to find out the store ran out of penny candy.
The hotdogs I was going to eat for lunch had just begun to putrify.
My car's check engine light came on while I was driving to the store.
The mailing tubes we bought to mail photographs were too small so when I tried rolling the photo it crimped.
I have unlimited use of the remote control today and not a single ballgame is on.
My wife's incessant ice chewing is bugging me.
My stepdaughter keeps wanting me to get off the computer so she can use it.
My work just called.

I am not complaining, but if I don't get some semblance of a day off, I am going to lose it.

Oh, goodie. The little one is up from her nap.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

A Note on Sunday Dinner

March 8th, 2005 marks my brother John's 29th birthday, so to celebrate the occasion my wife and I and our kids and my brother, his wife and kids all met at my parents' house today to eat some meat and potatoes and sing "Happy Birthday".

This week we got stuck with the green bean casserole and John's wife, Jessica, got the glory of the dessert--a well-made fluffy lemon cake. The glory is generally spread around pretty evenly at these types of events as we are often in charge of the funeral potatoes, but today we got saddled with the green bean casserole. John claims that it is his favorite vegetable dish, and he did eat quite a bit of it so I hesitate to call it a ploy, but gimme a break. Its green beans and cream of mushroom soup. How much credit can we get for that?

I guess I shouldn't complain too much. Jess is usually asked to bring a salad of some sort, so it was a nice break that she got the glory dish. My mother, on the other hand, is usually the big winner in these get togethers. She once got a scholarship to Long Beach State for her prowess in Home Economics, so it is no wonder that she usually gathers the highest marks from the judges. Today's performance was again top notch. She stuck the landing on the roast and mixed the mashed potatoes to just the right consistency. Again a flawless performance.

We'll probably meet again in three weeks for the Easter Sunday soiree. I am hoping to score the cheesy broccoli-cauliflower, and I'll be quite upset if my mother tags us for the cooked carrots. No one gets credit for that one.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

A Note on Entrepeneurship

My wife and I have recently begun a business adventure of sorts. We are selling fine art prints online at under the name of K Jones. Now I don't pretend for a second that we are awesome photographers and our photos will alter world history as we now know it, but they do have some artistic value. Henceforth, we are selling them.

The problem with this whole enterprise is that we are both so conservative and tight with our money and our ideas. We only started this endeavor because the buy-in amount was a measly $9.95 and the amount of real exposure we might receive was minimal. If we had had to fork out any substantial dough, or if our photos would have been seen by thousands, my Amex card would have had one less swipe. Why am I so cheap? The old adage is that it takes a buck to make a buck, well, if that is true, I haven't done enough deer hunting.

My buddy, Jeff, on the other hand, is constantly maxing out his credit cards and spending money he might make some day. Well, his ship came in not too long ago and I am still playing rubber duckies in the tub. Would someone please talk some sense into me?

Friday, March 04, 2005

A Note on the Third Trimester

"Its so uncomfortable. Help me. No, really! Help me!"

I look over bemusedly at my ice chewing wife. She just spent nearly 45 seconds struggling with what can only be described as an aborted attempt to Fosbury Flop into our super-pillowtop bed. It is a nightly ritual here in the Third Trimester. She rummages through my gym shorts and my T-shirts hoping to find pregnancy-friendly pajamas, and then she does the pre-jump routine of properly placing the body pillow in or near the landing area. This is quickly followed by dirty looks and cursing under her breath.

I am used to it by now. I make feeble attempts to console her.

"Your doing great, honey."

"May I replace the ice in your glass?"

"No, you do look great in my ratty t-shirt."

I'm a pretty good husband. Wait, she's getting up again. Oh, its all right. Just another trip to the restroom.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A Note on Old People

I guess I should tread lightly with this subject as I will likely be an old codger at some time and my children and grandchildren will be able to use this blog against me, but I probably won't. Old people are really scary. Not just scary in the sense that they are super concerned with when Jeopardy comes on and what time they have to take the pills they have sequestered in the little pillbox with the days emblazoned on the front, but scary in the "that old guy is going to kill someone, soon" sense.

My father-in-law, whom I consider to be teetering on the brink of codgerdom, recently forgot that he had a loaded pistol on the shelf in the garage, and, as he was getting his favorite cap down from the same shelf, tipped the pistol off the shelf and shot himself. Don't worry, he's okay, but the point is that he shot himself!

To further illustrate my point, an 80-year-old gentleman entered my work today and I got talking with him. He mentioned that he liked cars and proceeded to explain that he had just paid $106,000 on a brand new Porsche Cayenne. $106,000!!!! He's 80!!! As he struggled to lift himself off the sofa and shuffled outside to board his sweet ride, he confided that the last vehicle he had owned had reached a top speed of 120 mph while going up the canyon near his house. Oh, lovely, we now have a geriatric Richard Petty cruising our precious streets.

I don't have a problem with old folks living la vida loca if they are so inclined, but when my peaceful, quiet town is run over by octogenarian gangs wielding guns and fast cars, I take umbrage. Go back to Yuma and Palm Springs and back away from the Shoneys.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A Note on Daddies and Daughters

My stepdaughter invited me this evening to attend a church-sponsored event called a Daddy-Daughter Date. I, of course, graciously accepted the invitation and looked forward to a wonderful evening with my stepdaughter. I hadn't anticipated, however, that my Daddy-Daughter Date would be attended by nearly 25 twelve and thirteen year-old girls and their hapless fathers.

We, fathers, arrived with our lovely children but were unceremoniously dumped at the door to the churchhouse as our girls swarmed into various groups buzzing about the comings and goings at school and the newest fashions and who the cute guy was and whom he liked. I was curious about these discussions, and so, as the other fathers banded into their own groups to discuss the weather, hunting stories, and other equally unimportant subjects, I tried like a well-trained anthropologist to eavesdrop on the girls' discussions.

Yes, school and fashion and even boys figured prominently in their discussions, but mostly they just talked about which girls were nice and which were mean. It was as if they were busy establishing a social pecking order. They laughed and guffawed at seemingly insignificant remarks made by others just to be seen laughing and guffawing at such remarks. It was fascinating. I am sure that boys engage in the same kinds of interactions, but I suspect more burping, passing gas, and general goofiness is involved.

As the evening finally came to an end, my stepdaughter gave me a big hug, thanked me for attending and then promptly walked home with her two girlfriends. I, on the other hand, drove the minivan home by myself as I listened to the 80's station. Ahhh, good times.