Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Do You Know Larry Bauer?

You probably don't...but in a way, you probably do. I ran across this photo while cleaning some boxes at my parents's home. I had a few old college newpapers, and in one was this newpaper photo which I scanned of Larry Bauer. To call us aquaintances would probably be a stretch. He was an upper classman in my fraternity and we had hardly had any conversations, me being a freshman. I was playing tennis up at one of the courts at my alma mater, Weber State College (now, Weber State University) and I don't remember the exact circumstances. Larry was a member of the college varsity tennis team. I guess he had seen me playing and came over and asked if he could show me a few things. I said sure, and Larry showed me a four step approach to the serve. He rotated my grip, turning the racket about a quarter to a three-eights turn different than the "shake hands" grip I used for my forehand. I did what he said, and the ball popped off my racket, into the opposite service court. It was amazing, because the grip felt so unnatural, the four steps so rigid, and yet it produced results.

"Results" is a vastly underrated description. It revolutionized my serve. I had decent ground strokes, and now I had an offensive weapon. I don't think Larry spent more than 20 minutes at most with me, but I benefited from that 20 minutes EVERY time I returned to the tennis courts. Even today, when things go a little awry in my serve, I return to the basics I learned that day, kind of a recalibration. The grip on the racket still feels unnatural in my hand, but the results have a familiar spirit.

Larry didn't have to spend any time with me that day. I didn't beckon him. He just spent a little time with me that was literally life changing for me. I was a pretty successful intermediate tennis player, and I owe a bit of every successful match to what learned that day. Since I found this photo, I tried to locate Larry via the phone book and Google, with no luck. It would be nice to tell him what an impact he had on my enjoyment of tennis.

So, do you know Larry Bauer? You do if someone has given you some of their time to make your life a little better, a little simpler, or a little happier. It may not last as long as a lifetime of recreational tennis, but it is good nonetheless. Additionally, you just might be someone else's Larry Bauer. You never know.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sand in the City

Wendy and I made trek to visit daughter Molly at Portland in the middle of July. They have a charity event called "Sand in the City" where tons of sand is trucked into a city square, and then corporate teams spend all day Friday making a themed sand sculpture. The fund raising is by corporate donations plus they ask for a donation at the gate. I didn't see a printed program, but the theme seemed to be children's fun, of some kind. Here, let me take you for a tour!

Here's a view of the city plaza where the sculptures were taking place. The photo quality is not as good for some pictures because of evening angle of the sunlight. (Above) The Portland electric company did this Sasquatch sculpure. They had in front of him a battery that said "How Big is Your Carbon Footprint?" Big Footprint? Sasquatch. Get it! I thought you would. Cooler stuff follows that is more in tune with kid's fun.

(Left) I don't know what this mouse is from. There were about three of them in different poses. (Right) I think this is a creature from the children's book "Where the Wild Things Are?
(Above) The angle of lighting for this one was terrible. It was a TV theme with Bart Simpson on the top of a skateboard ramp. The dotted square thing in the lower left corner is Spongebob Squarepants.

Just a happy elf lying in a little bath ring, or an inverted mushroom, or something. Anyway, he's happy.

These next few picture were fun. A tribute to giving a dog a bath. If you've every had to do it, you can appreciate the quote and the pictures.

This was cute - Two dogs scrubbing a big dog.

One of the showpiece sculptures, I thought, was this tribute to the movie "Up". I haven't seen it yet, but it looked fun anyway. And the sculpture is close to 8 feet tall. The balloons were a nice touch.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sand & Snow

We took a long weekend and went to Portland, Oregon to visit Molly and Brad, our daughter and son-in-law. They have an annual thing in their courtyard square called "Sand in the City." The city trucks in tons of beach sand and corporate teams spend all day Friday building a sand sculpture(s) which are then on display for the weekend.

(Right) A Hungry, Hungry Hippo

I've always been intrigued by this kind of thing, the roots of which were probably spurred by my experience with a snow sculpture contest in college. It ended up being a non-snowy weekend, but we had a friend with a truck, so we trucked in a few pickup loads of snow for our sculpture.

So, what did we choose? Around that time of my life, the big movies were Fiddler on the Roof, The Godfather, The Sting, The Graduate, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, etc. Movies you've all heard of. None of us felt really skilled at creating a statue of Paul Newman or Marlon Brando. So we chose a "B" movie, modeled after the poster for the movie "Frogs." (Tag line" "If you are sqeamish, stay home! Cold green skin against soft warm flesh!") Among my fraternity buddies, maybe one of us had actually seen the movie, and if they did, it undoubtedly was the second feature of a drive-in, and alcohol was probably involved. Anyway, let's face it, a giant frog is already pretty much in the shape of a mound of snow. But we did get the mouth sculpted pretty well, and I was in charge of getting a rubber glove mounted so the hand would stick out of the mouth at the proper angle, not wanting to compromise the artistic intentions of the director. I don't remember how the competition turned out. We were proud of our five foot high reptile and his cold green skin. (We spray painted him green) I was disappointed that our frog was thawing pretty bad by the next day, and the frog had obviously spit out the hand. I never got a picture of it. It was back in the day when there were no digital anythings. In spite of our promotion and homage, Frogs did not receive any Academy Award Nominations, in spite of having Ray Milland as it's headliner.
For you younger readers wondering who Ray Milland was, he was the winner of the Best Actor Academy Award in 1946 for "The Lost Weekend." His role was described as "The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic is followed through a four day drinking bout." After watching himself in "Frogs" I think Mr. Milland went on a five day drinking bout...after making sure his check cleared.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

SAT Analogies

On the Conan O'Brien show in the past, one of his bits was to do SAT-type analogies. I often found them funny, and took some pictures on our Ozark trip that I thought would be funny in that setting:

#1 Regarding fund-raising events, with proceeds to go towards a medical research cause, the Greater Puget Sound area is to this:

As the Ozarks are to this:

Comparison #2 - The Sistine Chapel at the Vatican in Italy

is to this artwork on it's walls:

As the Stateline Liquor store in the Ozarks is:
to this artwork on it's walls.

Just a little help for any of you boning up for the S.A.T. exams. Good Luck, Y'all

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This Is Why They Call it Fastpitch

Ever since I was young, I was intrigued by fast pitch softball. My dad played some baseball in college and played on the church softball team. I didn't get a chance to play little league baseball, but when I turned 14 I would be eligible to play on the men's softball team. Armed with that knowledge, I worked on becoming a softball pitcher. I had a brick wall that I drew a strike zone on, and spent a lot of time pitching a rubber softball against that wall working on gaining control. I got to where I could consistently put the ball over the plate, but couldn't get up enough speed to keep the hitters from consistenly putting the ball in play.

With that I salute the University of Washington Huskies, winners of the NCAA Womens' Softball Championship for 2009. Their pitcher is Danielle Lawrie, a junior who was on the Canadian Olympic Team. They had a media day this week for TV writers and broadcasters, inviting them to get into the batter's box with Danielle. There was a great article by Seattle Times writer Jerry Brewer describing the event. Also, an entertaining video of ESPN's baseball writer Jim Caple. The video gives you a feel as to how fast and dominating Daniell is! The link is below.
Brewer reported "Only three people made contact in the hour or so that Lawrie threw with her bionic arm. Just one, ESPN.com scribe Jim Caple, hit a fair ball, and his dribbler to the right side would've been an easy play for a second baseman." He also describe what it's like to be in the batter's box vs. Danielle. I really enjoyed it, and can't imagine how anyone can get a hit!

The link to Jim Caples video is:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Baseball Musing

In a recent email to my father, a big Cardinals fan who grew up following the "Gas House Gang" of the 1930's, I mentioned that Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners was on a 27 game hitting streak, which broke the earlier team hitting streak...also set by Ichiro. I guess I jinxed Ichiro by writing about his hit streak. He was halfway to Joe Dimaggio, who set a 54-game hitting streak back in 1941, if memory serves me correctly. Dimaggio's record is considered one of the most unbreakable records in baseball. After last night, looking for his 28th straight game with a hit, he's now tied with half the league with a new hitting streak of zero. The game went into an extra inning, so he got an extra at-bat which he used to strike out to end the game. Oh well. The bad part of the game was that Minnesota won on a Little-League type error in the top of the 10th. With two outs and a runner on second, the left fielder had what should have been an inning-ending flyball clang off his mitt. Apparently, he's not making enough money to be able to catch, yet.
Speaking of Mariners, I was going through some old pictures and came across this one.
Amidst people with things to sell outside the ballpark, there are often people begging for money. You can give someone money thinking you're helping them get something to eat when in reality, they just take the money to buy alcohol or drugs - things they can't get for free at a food bank or homeless shelter. This guy I found amusing because he was total truth in advertising. It's kind of hard to tell from looking at the picture, but the guy is holding a fishing rod. Attac
hed to his line was a white styrofoam cup which is blocking my right forearm in the picture. That was his "hook,"hoping to catch some money. Like all true fisherman, he had a lure as well, which is the sign just over my should that says "FISHING FOR BEER." So here's a guy dedicated to telling the truth. He's not pretending to be hungry or homeless - he is promising to spend your money on beer. So it made for a fun picture...and the guy didn't get any money from me. It was his personal Beer Stimulus Plan, but at least, unlike the Federal Stimulus Plan, a person would really have a pretty good idea where the money was actually going to go! Unless of course the guy was actually going to use it to purchase a work of fine literature. Nah, I don't think so!
PS, as I'm writing this post, the Mariner game is on the television, and Ichiro already has two hits. If only...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Branson, Missouri Visit

On our two-day Ozark trip, we decided on short notice to go to Branson, Missouri and perhaps see a show. We'd never been before, and I still don't understand why this out of the way place caught on as an entertainment center. It might be that though it's remote, it's 150-200 from St. Louis, Kansas City, Little Rock, and Tulsa, among other larger cities.
We cut due east out of Tulsa to NW Arkansas, then cut up to SW Missouri and Branson. It was a very scenic drive off the freeway.

Shows start at 8:00 and we rolled in at about 6:50. We pulled into a "Welcome Center" that advertises discount tickets. We were rushed choosing something, and ended up going to the Hammer-Barber Theater. The show is Hamner - A Magician, and Jim Barber, a ventriloquist. They throw in a few dancer, add a little singing, and advertise it as a variety show.

Jim Barber is unique in that he has created a dummy that makes it appear that the dummy is holding him, and Jim is the ventriloquist dummy. I thought it was pretty clever. I saw him on Letterman a few years ago. He did a local commercial that is one minute long at this link:

If you'd like to see his Letterman appearance, heres' the link for that:

He was pretty funny.

We tried to find a local LDS church, but we didn't have Internet access and had a lousy out-of-scale tourist map of Branson, so we couldn't find the church. Since it was Sunday morning, and we wanted some kind of Sunday worship experience, we went to one of the 8-10 Sunday Morning Gospel programs offered for free at various Branson entertainment theaters. We ended up going to the Dick Clark Rock-N-Roll Theater which offered the "Grand Old Gospel Hour" as shown
on the billboard to the right. The woman holding her hands up was interpreting the music via American Sign Language.

They had three musicians, a drummer, bass player, and sax man, and five singers, one of which played the guitar, on played the keyboard, and the woman doing the signing. On each side of the stage was a video screen, on which they were showing the words, so I didn't really understand what the deal was with the ASL. Then, when one of the people would just speak, she didn't do anything. And she had a part in the program where they gave their pitch for donations, and she didn't sign that either. So I concluded that she wasn't actually an interpreter, but just like to memorize and perform the sign to the words of Gospel music. The pastor shown in the billboard is in real life a little heavier and his face is rounder, and he wore glasses. Reminded me of the Matt Foley character created by Chris Farley. He kind of looked like Chris Farley. He gave a good Christ-inspired message, and cited putting on the whole armor of god as explained in Ephesians Chapter 6. And not once did he have to admonish anyone to "close their yapper."

Branson is spread out, but has a two-lane main street which seems to be in a perpetual traffic jam. I tried to capture it in a picture. But envision the photo as being a video instead. Yup, that's how fast the traffic seemed to move. This was at 11:30. It was the same at 9:30 am, and at 7:00 when we drove through town. It's probably that way constantly, and twice as slow in the summer. Nothing says summer fun like 100 degrees, 98% humidity, and stationary traffic.
More posts about the Ozarks to follow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fun on the Road

We were in Northeast Oklahoma for Sonja's open house for her husband Jordan's side of the family. The day after the reception, we took a two day road trip through Northeast Oklahoma, Northwest Arkansas, and Southwest Missouri. We'd never been to this part of the country, and enjoy being off the freeway. I took a bunch of pictures of stuff that just looked fun or interesting.

Our first trip off the turnpike showed this sign leading to a Mennonite church. We decided to take a look. A later sign said that it was 1.5 miles. Two miles later we decided that we'd missed it, but on the way back we came across a few Mennonites complete with horse and buggy.

It's hard to tell from this picture taken in the car, but it was a one-horse buggy with a father and a couple of kids in it. (I heard that they don't like their photo taken, that's why I didn't try to take the picture out of the driver's window.) Being Mennonites, they probably hadn't seen the movie Field of Dreams. So I didn't have the opportunity to have this exchange: "Is this Eden?" "No, it's Oklahoma!"

I felt like I've been on this road before, but now I have proof that it exists!

Another interesting thing was learning about some of the wildlife...or in our case, "wild-death." On our two-lane road adventure we saw a lot of racoon and opossum roadkill, which was to be expected. What we didn't expect was to see armadillos! Lots of them. Here's a typical view of an Arkansas/Missouri backroad:

Wendy made the observation that armadillos looked reptilian with their scaly exterior, yet they are mammals, which by definition have hair/fur. As you can see, armadillos are hairy on their underbelly.

We were at a National Battleground and I asked the Ranger if he was a naturalist. He said he wasn't but would entertain my question anyway. I asked if armadillos have always been in these parts since I always pictured them to be in hot, dry, lands in Texas. He said that he was raised in Southern Missouri & was was taught by his dad that they didn't really live in Missouri, but periodically dead armadillos would be trucked in from Texas and scattered around the state on the roadsides.

I flipped our little roadkill over, and it's easy to see how a car could hit one in the darker part of the day - They're slow, low, and blend in with the color of the asphalt.

(Note - no armadillos were harmed in the creation of this blog post. - The harm had already taken place.)

I'll post more of our midwest adventure in future blogs.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

From Finish to Start

Here is the Robert & Wendy Tegeder family with their newest addition: a son-in-law by the name of Jordan Hintze of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. (From l to r, Troy, Molly, Jordan, Sonja, Andy, Wendy, Robert)

Jordan and Sonja had been aquainted with each other for about two years and started dating about a year ago. The courtship began, and here's what kick-started it to where we are today:

On December 28th, 2008, Sonja had flown to the Tulsa Oklahoma Airpost after spending Christmas with us and was going to meet the Hintze family. The Hintze family met Sonja at the airport inside the terminal. Nearby were these five people also greeting someone at the airport. After the initial hugging and greeting it was time to head to the baggage claim area to get Sonja’s bags and then go to the Hintze’s home.

As they started walking, the guy in the red cap approached her with his camera and asked if she would take their picture. They were holding signs that said : “We missed you!” and “Welcome to Oklahoma, Sam!” and “Later Gator – Go OU – Boomer Sooner.” It was obviously they were there to greet a friend at the airport and had made signs for the occasion as part of their greeting. They told Sonja to count to three, obviously to make sure they would all be smiling at the same time.

The guy in the red cap handed Sonja the camera and they held up their signs for the picture. As Sonja looked through the viewfinder to take the picture, she started the count to three. As she did…

They flipped the signs over to display the following:

Looking through the viewfinder, Sonja saw them flip the signs and I think her brain was trying to process what she was seeing as this apparent good-Samaritan act of taking a picture for someone had converted to a marriage proposal! As she was processing the information, she lowered the camera, and there was Jordan on one knee holding an engagement ring. She giddily said “Yes!” The rest is history.

Here’s a picture of the newly engaged Sonja with her suitcase and flashing her brand new ring!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dogs Are Like a Box of Chocolate

Wendy and I were both raised with pets, and conversely, have had pets as part of our family after we got married. Our latest is our dog Ringo. We've had him since November 2007. As I tell people, he's like the original Ringo - a big nose and shaggy hair.

The fictional character, Forrest Gump would say: "Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get. With dogs, you never know what you're gonna get until you open the door...especially living in the wet Northwest. This might also be one of the disadvantages of owning a white dog. (Or maybe our old black and brown dog was a lot more filthy than we gave her credit for.)

"I found a way amuse myself while you were gone"

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fun With Signs

Senator Ted Kennedy, when delivering the eulogy for his brother Bobby Kennedy cited him in this famous quote which I may or may not be quoting accurately, "Some people look at things and ask "Why?" My brother looked at things and asked "Why not?"
To paraphrase this thought in my perspective, "Some people look at things, and say "Huh?" I look at things and say, "That's funny."
My intent is not to make light of the disabled, but some people with Tourrett's Syndrome are afflicted with uncontrollable voice utterances, twitches, or both.
This salon in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho struck me as funny since someone obviously put some effort and investment into naming this salon. I think using the "La" wording was expected to create a vision of something upscale. Somehow though, the thought of sitting in a chair with my back to a person with Tourrette's syndrome who is weilding a scissors or a razor blade would seem to be a negative vision instead of a positive one, in spite of the nicely chosen font and the upscale French sounding adjective "La" It seems like the outcome might be "La Uneven Haircut" or "La Unfortunate Accident." Not necessarily the expected outcome of the marketing department. With this vision in my mind, I had to take a picture.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Seattle Not-So-Supersonic Musing

One of the website I look at frequently is ESPN.com. I read their website and get their magazine, but having never had cable TV I've never had ESPN in my home. Maybe that will change with the advent of digital TV since the reception in my area is unstable for all but two channels. On ESPN's website, I enjoy reading Bill Simmons, aka "The Sports Guy." Periodically he does what he calls a "Mailbag" column. I've been a Sonics fan...when there actually was a team called the Seattle Supersonics, and I came across this question and answer that I had never heard before. By the way, Bill Simmons writes extensively about he NBA and is a huge Boston Celtics fan, so I'm not questioning this anecdote:

Q: Wouldn't you say the Red Sox not getting A-Rod in 2003 was BY FAR the best non-trade of all time?-- Adam, Toronto

SG: There's a bigger one: After Seattle picked Robert Swift in the 2004 draft, the Celtics offered the Sonics the 13th pick (basically, the rights to Al Jefferson) and their 2005 No. 1 pick for Swift's rights … and Seattle said no. Three years later, the Celts turned Jefferson, the 2005 pick and other stuff into Kevin Garnett and a 17th title. So that's right up there. I mean, have you SEEN Robert Swift? My buddy House called me last week just to ask me that question, and he asked it exactly like that: I answered, there was a pause, and he said, "I mean, have you SEEN Robert Swift?" Who knows -- maybe the Sox win with A-Roid, er, A-Rod. But there's no way the Celtics get Kevin Garnett for a package headlined by Robert Swift. None.

You may have heard of Kevin Garnett, one of the best 7' centers in the NBA. You may not have heard of Robert Swift, who was drafted out of high school, and has been a victim of the three "I's": Injury, Incompetence, and Ink. The photo shows is a before and after, of what an injured millionaire can do with his spare time. Makes you wonder what other millionaires have tattooed on their arms. What ever it is, probably not as Louvre-quality as Robert's body.

In the third year of a $5Million-plus contract, Robert has played 284 minutes of NBA basketball in the first half of the season, which works out to $882,240 for a half season, and $186,388 per hour of NBA playing time. I wouldn not be surprised if at the end of this season Robert gets laid off. Hopefully he'll have enough money in the bank to do his patriotic duty and stimulate the economy...at the tattoo parlor! What a great country!

Global Warming?

An Inconvenient Window Scraping

March is the traditional month for weather swings i.e. "March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb." This weekend we had lion-like weather: a snow storm, but it was lamb-like in that it gently fell and covered everything in the color of wool.

Are we experiencing "Global Warming?" Maybe yes, maybe no. Scientists are passionate on either side. As for ths non-scientist's opinion, I think we are just experiencing the swings of nature. The first thermometer of any kind was invented by Galilleo in 1593, and the first mercury thermometer was invented in 1714. So there's been a whole lot more warmings and coolings experienced that we have not recorded in the history of life on this planet, so we don't have a very lengthy data base. Besides whatever efforts we make in reducing global warming in the US are offset by the China and Brazil and third world countries where regulations are minimal compared to the U.S.

Anyway, I thought this photo was fun, being so late in the year.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Is It, or Isn't It

OK, I'm an accountant. There is a stereotype that goes with accountants, and I've been told I don't fit the mold. Maybe that's why I'm not the CFO of a company or something. At any rate, I work on a floor with about 40 other degreed accountant, and many of them do fit the stereotype. I was far from the class clown in high school, but on the bell curve of accountants in my department, I'm the class clown.

Last month the maintenance people at work installed a square thing in the ceiling. It looked kind of like a square smoke detector, about 9" x 9". We weren't sure what it was, but it's probably a wireless internet router, but as of right now, we don't have a wireless internet network. It was the only one of it's kind on our side of the building. Probably installed for some future use.

With the economy tightening up, we've had two staff members laid off which sprinkled a little tension among some of the staff, and the CEO sent an email saying that he was bringing in a consulting firm to evaluate our efficiencies in our building. Most interpreted that to mean that they might be bringing the axe with them to lop off more staff. There has been a gallows humor approach by some, and we were joking that the square thing install was actually a microphone or even contained a small camera.

That thought was discussed yesterday, since the consultants were in our department talking to some of our managers the day before. When Ron Bloom and Brent Armstrong left for lunch (both a couple of guys who understand my sense of humor) I went to work and created a little black camera out of paper and taped it to the square thing in the ceiling. I labeled it the "Bloom Cam" and aimed it towards Ron's cubicle and others around it.

I was curious how long it would take anyone to notice. Well that was yesterday and today people were still talking about it. At first glance, a number of people actually thought it was a real camera actually monitoring people at work. There has been a little bit of edge with some people, knowing that the consultants were in the building. Others, after looking at it, immediately accused me of putting it on the ceiling. I just said, "What makes you think it was me? My name's not on the camera. Talk to Ron."

I was pleased that it got a lot of laughs, and amused at the reaction. I got the blame because, well, some days I feel like I am the ONLY source of humor on our floor. Well, whaddyagonna do? Now I have to think of my next trick.