August 18, 2000
By seven o’clock in the morning I was already in a pretty bad mood. I had gotten probably an hour of sleep last night and that hour was broken up into several periods of a few minutes each. During the night last night, our smoke alarms decided they had behaved long enough. Starting at 1:00 AM, they began to go off approximately every 20 minutes. At first I wondered if there were a fire somewhere and quickly made the rounds to each room looking for signs of fire or smoke. The kids of course were groggy but getting dressed in case of fire. After a check of the house, I gave an all clear and everyone went back to bed. A half hour later, we repeated the process, this time with a different alarm going off. The alarms would take turns going off and on causing me to check the house each time. I attempted to change the batteries thinking that may be setting them off but that only bought me a few minutes of quiet before the process began again. After large amounts of aspirin and cotton stuffed in my ears, I was able to get a few minutes of sleep. As morning arrived, the smoke alarms continued to serenade me. After a very loud breakfast, I got dressed and went to the attic to see if I could find out what was causing this problem. It seems that the storm we received last night had caused some water to short out our central smoke alarm network creating havoc with the current causing the false alarms. I spent the day drying out wire and finding the short and replacing connections to make sure this didn’t happen again. By the time evening arrived, I was exhausted. It’s a good thing there is a game tonight so I can get some rest and relaxation. It’s to bad all I can hear is my ears ringing from the deafening sounds of smoke alarms.
August 17, 2000
Living in the southwestern desert, I am well accustomed to the scorching heat and dry air. In fact, when you move into the state of Arizona, you are given a list of catch phrases that you use whenever someone mentions the hot summers that we have. At the top of this list is the famous line, “but it’s a dry heat.” My oven is a dry heat too but I don’t go around sticking my head in it. Anyway, the one part of this climate that I am still not used to is the rain. Before we moved here, I of course did some research on the environment and found that the Phoenix area only receives approximately 10 inches of rain per year. No where in the documentation did it say that we would receive these 10 inches in 10 storms. When it finally does decide to storm in Arizona, it really lets loose. The locals call it the monsoon season. Each evening during the late summer months, the sky will be sunny and blue during the day but in the evening it will cloud up and Mother Nature will put on quite a light show with the lightning and thunder that accompanies the downpours. The strangest part about the phenomenon is that only parts of the valley will actually experience the storm. The remainder would never even know there was bad weather if they didn’t watch the news. Well tonight was our turn. All evening and going into the night, we were kept awake by flickering lights, bright flashes of lightning and loud claps of thunder. In between all of this, rain poured down around our house. It was obviously a good night to be inside wrapped up in a blanket with the air conditioning turned on to watch a little television.
August 16, 2000
After a whirlwind vacation, it was once again time to head for home. It is always hard to leave family especially after a brief visit. Trina and the kids are usually very emotional when we leave and today was no exception. As everyone said good-bye to each other, there were a lot of tears shed. We climbed into the car and began to drive to the freeway. It was at this point that I began crying too. Trina looked shocked as I rarely am emotional like this. She quickly asked why I was so sad and inquired whether it was leaving family that was making me so emotional. “No,” I exclaimed, “I just realized that there are only 18 more home games remaining this season for the Diamondbacks and then the dreadful off-season begins. I am really not ready for baseball to be over!” This emotional outburst went on for several miles as I replayed all the games I had been to this year and calculated that 162 innings of baseball were all that were left unless we went extra innings. I would have thought that Trina and the kids would have been more understanding but they seemed to think I was mocking them. How could they possibly say that? The remainder of the first half of the trip was spent in silence as we each contemplated what it would mean when baseball season was over. Ok, maybe that wasn’t what they were all thinking of but it was weighing heavily in my mind. There is nothing to make a automobile trip seem to drag on more than depressing thoughts. It wasn’t until I began thinking of the possibility of making the play-offs that the trip turned out. By the time I got to the Phoenix city limits I was contemplating going to a World Series game. With thoughts like that, I could drive another 10 hours.
August 15, 2000
It can never be said that I don’t learn from my mistakes. Today we began our road trip back to Phoenix from Idaho Falls. The trip through Salt Lake City was still fresh on my mind and I had every intention of finding an alternative route so that I wouldn’t be stuck in Utah traffic for two hours like on the way up. I was hoping that I could eliminate going through Salt Lake completely but Trina and the children wanted to stop and see some of the sights as long as we were going through. Besides, Ashley informed me that Salt Lake City now had a Hard Rock Cafe and she reminded me that I didn’t have a pin from there yet. Hmmm, she did have a point. And after all, how bad could the freeway be in Utah anyway? We would be going through there in the middle of the day so they wouldn’t possibly close it, would they? Three hours into our trip home, we arrived at the Salt Lake City limits and we were greeted by long lines of traffic and disappearing and reappearing lanes. When we approached what should have been our exit, we were instead greeted by large barricades informing us of impending road closures. A few miles later, what was a four lane freeway was now a one lane road with large concrete barriers on each side. Every quarter mile was a sign which displayed our current speed or lack of it. After a mile of this, I suddenly realized that they had turned the freeway into a bobsled run. We were careening out of control with only one lane visible and blind corners at every turn. The one difference was instead of a sled, I was piloting a white Suburban and we had no helmets on. The kids were screaming to slow down except for Dakota who sat in the back seat with is hands in the air yelling to make the last turn. We were finally able to find an exit and slowed to a stop as we arrived at the Hard Rock Cafe. The kids each piled out of the car, their knuckles still white from where they were holding on to the back of the seats. Let’s see the Jamaicans do that!
August 14, 2000
When I was a small boy growing up in Idaho, my Grandpa Summers used to always take me fishing. That in itself would have been admirable and put my Grandpa in the hall of fame for grandparents. But he didn’t stop there. He would take all of my cousins with him. In all, there were 12 of us at the time. The one stipulation he had was that we had to be potty trained before we were allowed to go. Grandpa would load all of us up along with camping gear and tents and off we would go. We would stop at a small general story along the way to pick up worms and food for the trip. We kids were allowed to pick out whatever food we wanted to eat for the trip. Grandpa would get to the counter with a basket full of candy and marshmallows. Somehow, he would always hide a package of hot dogs somewhere that we couldn’t see so that we had something without sugar for one meal. We would then travel to our fishing spot and make camp. Once all of the tents were put up, grandpa would take a single pole and make his way to our fishing hole. He would bait the hook and cast the line into the water. All of the children would line up single file behind him along the bank. While grandpa attempted to hook a fish, it was our responsibility to call them into our hook. There stood 12 small children each with their hands to their mouths calling at the top of their lungs, “Here Fishy Fishy Fishy!” When a fish was hooked, the first child in line would go to grandpa and be allowed to reel in the fish. They would then move to the back of the line and everyone moved up one position. These were wonderful times that I shall always remember. On our trip to Idaho this summer, I went to see my grandfather who is now in his eighties. I invited him to go fishing once more though this time with my children. His heart rose into his throat and his eyes glistened. All the way up to where we would be fishing, he would tell me stories from his childhood and from mine, reminding me of details I had long forgotten. In the hour’s drive, I was able to relive a lot of experiences that time had hidden from me. When we finally arrived, I began to bait hooks and cast the line into the water. As I stood there with grandpa and my kids, I explained the procedure for fishing just as it was explained to me some thirty years ago. Before long, my children were lined up behind their great grandfather, each with their hands to their mouths. Familiar sounds were once again heard at the banks of the water, “Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy!”
August 13, 2000
I always remember being in elementary school and discussing the invention of the automobile. When the horseless carriage came to be, there was a tremendous amount of resistance to this new mode of transportation. The stories went that those who had grown up with the horse scoffed at this loud and noisy invention claiming they would never succumb to having to travel in one of these new fangled contraptions. At the time, I thought this was hilarious. How could anyone not want a car? They have become such a part of our lives that no one could imagine what life would be like without them. “Surely that couldn’t happen now.” I had thought to myself. People have obviously evolved to the point to where they can see the benefits of technology rather than fear it. I was wrong.
Continue reading ‘Digital Potty Training’ »
August 12, 2000
After a short night of little sleep, we were up and getting ready for the day. I had forgotten how small Idaho Falls was. While growing up there, it always seemed like the big city. After all, it was the third largest city in Idaho with a population of 40,000 people. We even had three high schools and four bowling alleys. It didn’t get much bigger than that. Somehow though, the state of Idaho seems to have missed the technological revolution. Instead of keeping up with the necessary infrastructure to take advantage of the Internet, they seemed to be left behind. Until recently, no one even knew the Internet existed. I had worked feverishly to try and find a network connection that would allow me to connect in. The need for the Internet was never more important. When I picked up the morning newspaper, I immediately turned to the sports page to collect information on what had happened the previous night in Major League Baseball. You can imagine my horror to find that the sports page consisted of two pages and one of them was filled with fishing forecasts! How could these barbarians possibly live not knowing how the Diamondbacks had done? After several phone calls and configuration changes, I finally got my laptop connected to the web. My usually reliable 56K modem was able to connect at 21.6 maximum. I may has well be using a modemsaurus and trying to raise Barney Rubble on the other end. There is nothing quite as frustrating as watching the screen paint when you are trying to pull up the box score on ESPN.com. This was going to be a very long week for me. My digital cellular phone has not been operational since Utah, my pager has no service, my parents idea of a cable modem is what connects the computer to the telephone jack, and this city’s idea of big league baseball is watching Rookie level Pioneer League teams. I am beginning to think perhaps I have gone back in time to the 1950s.
August 11, 2000
As long as we were going to make a road trip, we decided that we may as well make good use of our time. Ashley, my oldest daughter, will be a senior this year. She has plans to go to college after graduation and at this juncture does not know where she wants to attend. She and I decide that a few campus visits are in order to help her make up her mind. She thinks that she would like to go to Brigham Young University in Provo Utah but she is not sure. Since we came through Provo at 11:00 PM, we did not have a chance to look over the campus. We will attempt a visit on the way home next week. Her second choice was Ricks College, a private junior college in Rexburg Idaho where Trina played college basketball on scholarship. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective, Ricks College was recently reclassified. It would no longer be a junior college effective this fall semester. Instead, it would become BYU Idaho, a four year institution. This intrigued Ashley until we learned that BYU Idaho would have no sports other than intermurals. Ashley has been ranked in the state of Arizona in the triple jump since she was a Freshman and had hoped to receive a track scholarship. This puts BYU Idaho at a disadvantage. Nonetheless, we made a trip to the campus to look around. It has changed since Trina and I went there in 1981. The campus was much larger than I had remembered although it was still quite small. Trina had gone there for two years while I was there for one. We each graduated with an Associates degree and the campus brought back a lot of memories. Ashley is more excited about college now. I am still not sure I am ready to send her off yet.
August 10, 2000
With the Diamondbacks out of town for a six game road trip and a couple of days off, Trina and the girls decided they needed a vacation before going back to school. This coupled with the fact that Trina’s father has been in poor health lately made the decision to go quite easy. So to paraphrase the Beverly Hillbillies theme song, we loaded up the truck and went to Idaho, falls that is. It is a sixteen hour drive from Phoenix to Idaho Falls. Most of the time you are driving deserted roads that have not been cared for in several years. It is by far the best to travel these areas at night since there is not much to see. Instead though, we started out at eight in the morning (even though I wanted to get going no later than 5:30). For the remainder of the day we played a game. I drove as fast as I could for as long as I could before one of the children yelled “I’ve got to go potty!” At that point we would scramble around looking for a rest area. This game went pretty well until we reached Salt Lake City.
Continue reading ‘Half the Fun is Getting There’ »