Life Experiences & Observations

Sit Down, Buckle Up, Hang On, and Enjoy My Blog Ride

Category: Life Experiences

The Eye Opening Process of Learning About the AZ Legislature

0000000000000 az capitolThe last few weeks the Arizona Legislature has been working on trying to pass the state’s budget. Two weeks ago I heard about a protest march at the capital to try and put a stop to deep cuts in education funding. At that time, I didn’t find out about the march until the day my friend posted pictures of it happening. As a result, I was unable to participate. Budget talks continued and a second march, which was communicated more effectively and created with more advance notice, occurred. This time, I took the initiative to participate. This was my first protest march since college and it was a great experience. To see everybody getting together to fight for a common cause was tremendous. To cause our legislators to actually come out of their holes to watch the light of the people shine bright was amazing. As always, there is concern that marches such as this may fall on deaf ears. I relished in chanting “SOS, Save Our Schools!” and my favorite, created by both ASU and UofA students,… “There ain’t no power like the power of the students, and the power of the student don’t stop, say what!!” Okay, so the grammar isn’t perfect but the point is.

Fast forward to last night. The legislators took the sneaky move of having discussions to finalize the budget late on a Friday evening. They went to the hearing rooms hoping that the shields of darkness would protect them like armor. Amazingly, the power of the people couldn’t be completely eclipsed. Many of the protest leaders took to social media and encouraged individuals to go to the Capitol Building to show their presence and prove that the public won’t go gently into the goodnight and WILL ALWAYS be listening. I myself, decided to stay home and watch the stream of the budget bill debates online. Knowing it would most likely go all night and my wife and daughter having plans in the morning, I choose the next best thing to being there in person. I watched it stream until 1am. I woke up at 8am eager to read the results on social media. To my amazement, the House was still working to pass the last bill necessary to approve the budget. The end result was a slightly better yet very disappointing budget. They went from a K-12 education cut to a slight K-12 slight, with very little limitation on how that extra money is spent. Higher education funding was gouged and prisons received increased funding. In the end, very few other financial adjustments were made from the original budget presented by our governor.

I learned more about the Arizona Legislative budget process in the last 2 weeks than I have in my prior 22 years of living in Arizona. While I am extremely disappointing in the continued lack of funding to K-12 education, I am extremely grateful for what I learned about the process. There is a reason that Arizona is 48 out of 51 in education funding. We care more about lower taxes than we do about our kids education. Yes this new budget will be balanced and I understand the value of that. But at what point is a little extra taxes worth a better education for our kids? And with that, I will leave you with this Victor Hugo quote which was on a protest sign at the capitol on Thursday. “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”

What I learned from 2 Days without a Cell Phone

00000 swimming iphoneWho knew that cell phones don’t like to swim? Well I found this out the hard way last Saturday. I actually knew that cell phones and water don’t mix but accidents do happen. On the drive over to our friends’ pool I made the stupid decision to put my cell phone in my swim trunks. I guess I just thought I would clear out my pockets before jumping in the pool. Uh… I guess not. So here are some of the things I learned from my two days without a cell phone.

1. Rice baths actually do help absorb water from within your cell phone.
2. Cell phones are amazingly resilient but not entirely indestructible.
3. iPhone’s have a tremendous number of neat accessibility options. Also known as, “How did they think of that?” options.
4. More data creates a more stress. Minds become much clearer with less information and less data clutter.
5. It’s hard to do things with something that doesn’t exactly work right but almost never impossible.

My cell phone is somewhat working with the wonders of Assistive Touch. It has served as a work around for my home button being broken. Of course now the SIM Card is messed up but that is a whole separate issue. At least it took 2 additional days before the water further whipped my phone into submission. Hopefully there is a creative Apple work around for the SIM Card not working or maybe I will just chose to eliminate my data stress.

Whack-A-Backpain

00000 whac a moleMy back pain these days is like a painful game of Whac-A-Mole. You know that classic physical hammer game where a plastic mole jumps up as you try and bonk it on the head before it goes down and the next one pops back up. Well that is the way my back pain has been the last few months. The middle of my back hurts and then I whack that pain away, and then my upper back hurts and I whack that pain away, and then my lower back hurts and I try and whack that mole away.

Today the lower pain mole has reared his ugly head and I have yet to whack him into submission. Thanks to The Google, I have learned some quick exercises to specifically to help rectify lower back pain. That and some merry go round ice and hot pack therapy will hopefully whip me back into shape in no time. Or just in time for the next mole to arise.

The Grand Finale – Prizes Involved

00000 fireworks
I made it!! The last post of my April Blog-A-Thon! Through blood, sweat, and tears, I persevered. And there truly were tears considering I have spent 5 of the last 6 days visiting my Dad in the hospital. I am happy to report that he went home today. To all my supporters who are currently following me I can’t thank you enough. Whether you joined months ago or joined yesterday, I appreciate you listening to my stream of consciousness rambling. And as a result, I want to give back.

So here is the deal. I want to reward both my current followers and my soon to be new followers. To do so, I am going to give away 3 copies of one of my 4 favorite motivational books that I have read over the past year. Three books in total not three of each. I don’t love you that much… at least not yet. The three books are as follows:

1. The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
2. The Power of Less by Leo Babauta
3. Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields
4. Choose Yourself by James Altucher

I will randomly choose 1 of my current 46 followers. If you are already following my blog you already qualify to be in the random drawing. If you are not following my blog, then following it today through the last day in May will allow you to qualify. I will randomly choose 2 winners from today through May. I will do my best to contact you through the details based on your current follower profile. If I am unable to contact you I will ask you to contact me on one of my future blogs. I will pull the current follower winner later this week. I will pull the other two winners the first week in June.

Once I contact you I will need you to only provide two details.

1. Your Address
2. Which book you want

I promise not to use or publish your address for any other purpose except to mail your book. Thanks again everyone and good luck with the prize contest. While I may not continue blogging everyday, you will definitely see at least two blogs a week from me.

It has been a blast and will continue to be. Don’t get off the ride just yet. Sit Down, Buckle Up, Hang On, and Enjoy My Blog Ride!!

Missed it By That Much

0000 sad faceSo here I am at the computer after falling asleep on the couch while watching the baseball game.  It’s 27 minutes passed midnight and I have technically failed my April blog-a-thon.  And I was doing so well and was getting so close to the end.  Some would say it’s close enough but for me I feel that would be cheating.  Will I finish out the month anyway??  Absolutely!  A combination of my Dad having surgery today (which went fine), and me having one too many Gin & Tonic’s this evening caused my body to be just too tired to make it.  To my faithful readers, all 38 followers I believe at this point, I apologize for letting you down.  I still feel I have gained a lot from this experience and maybe even became a better writer along the way.  Sad but sleepy, that’s all I have for this evening or this morning I should say.

Burnt Beets

000 beetsI bought beets over the weekend in hopes of using them in my Nutribullet to makes Smoothies.  They ended up overpowering whatever additional ingredients I decided to put in.  Because of this, I ended up not utilizing them in smoothies going forward.  I did, however, still have a large number of unused beets.  In previous conversations with some friends of mine, I had been told that roasting is the best way to cook and eat beets.  So off I went to the internet to pull up a beet roasting recipe.  

Most of the recipes were similar so I just dove right in and started preparing my beets for roasting.  Preheat the oven to 425, dribble olive oil on the beets, add salt and pepper for seasoning, and walla.  After 40 minutes of cooking they should be done.  The fork test is the key.  If the fork softly goes into the cooked beats then they are done.  Well after just short of 40 minutes I checked them and they fork still had difficulty penetrating the cooked beets.  So I decided they need longer to roast.  Back into the oven the beets go and I do a quick check on Facebook to see what the social world and my friends that are in it are up to.  20 minutes later my daughter says to me, “Dad, you should check on the beets.”  Damn, that’s right I have beets in the oven.  Or I should say I had beets in the oven.  Nice beautiful purple beets has turned into shriveled up lumps of coal.  Regardless, I decided to try them since I has already put in all this effort.  So what did they taste like you ask?  Burnt beets and pretty much inedible.   And the moral of the story is, don’t check Facebook when you have something cooking in the oven.

Freaky Coincidence Time

0000 poker coincidenceAs I have blogged about before, I have been reading the dictionary two pages a day for just over two years. I have definitely not been doing it consistently since I would have been done long ago if I had. Well I happen to be on page 443 this evening and what word do I come upon at the conclusion of Passover? Matzo. If you are good at math then please comment as I am interested to know the chance of this occurring mathematically. The mathematical details are as follows:

1. Passover occurs once a year for 8 days.
2. The dictionary I am reading happens to be 852 pages long
3. There is 1 page with the word Matzo.

This is your chance to wow me with your math skills. Calculate away and leave your answer even if you only have an inkling of what it is. And don’t ask me for the answer or to validate your answer since I have no idea. I leave it to my readers to do the truly difficult tasks. Have Fun!

NHL Postseason is Some of the Best

0000 nhl playoffsI have been consuming truck loads of playoff hockey the last two nights. While I love watching most sports, especially postseason, I probably enjoy watching the NHL Postseason as much as any. The level they escalate the game to and the amount of continuous action is unparalleled. The hitting is always fun too.

The other thing I enjoy is the refs’ ability to understand the impact of any penalties called and to try their best to just let them play. The refs do avoid the measly calls that are often made in the regular season. In just two nights I have seen three overtime games. One even going into triple overtime. With one goal handing in the balance to decide who wins the game after three periods of gut wrenching, exhaustion causing, no holds barred play.

Even if you don’t usually watch hockey I encourage you to try watching at least one NHL Playoff game. I have heard all the reasons why people don’t like watching hockey. From not being able to follow the puck, to not enough goals scored, to fighting being the only fun part to watch. Look closer and dig deeper. When it comes to playoff hockey, NHL Postseason is some of the best.

A Movie, the Laughter, and the Right Decision

Marriage is tough and takes a ton of work, especially to stay married for many years. Every once in awhile, you have one of those nights that after it is done, you know you made the right choice in marrying your significant other. For me, last night, was one of those nights. What seemed like a rare night out with my wife, we decided to do one of the usual things which was to go see a movie. It was the movie “Enough Said” and was at a unique movie theater that plays indie flicks and is fighting for its life due to the moss creeping development around it. At that movie, I felt like we were having the type of fun that makes people think, “what drugs are they on?” The movie was excellent and mostly humorous, although it contained multiple points of unexpected sadness. To add another layer of sorrow, one of the leading characters was James Gandolfini who has since passed away.

I remember at one point in the movie when the sadness flowed liked a busted drain pipe, my wife whispering over to me… “you owe me a happy movie.” It was in a loving tone and made me smile while trying to hold back a tear from the movie content itself. There were other glorious treasured moments. During the movie, somebody’s watch alarm went off not once but twice. When it did, it sounded as if it was coming from right below our seats. It was as if a cloaked seat monster was upon us. My wife looked in her purse, I looked at my phone, and I even looked at my watch. Needless to say it was not from us. Near the end of the movie, when the ending was clear as day, I whispered to her… “here comes the happy ending.” In a movie like this it worked for me even though I tend to prefer the unusual ending. My wife, however, liked the ending as happy endings are her security blanket.

After the movie was over we discussed and laughed about the beeping watch that couldn’t be discovered. When I mentioned that I had even looked at my 60s windup watch that I got from my grandfather’s estate, we busted up laughing so hard we were crying. As I was wiping the tears of joy from my cheeks I could see patrons passing through the aisle looking at us. The first few were wondering what was going on while the rest seemed envious. They had just seen a movie and we had just seen the joy of life and marriage.

It’s nights like this that I understand clearly why I married my wife. We ultimately drove home from the theater and while I didn’t get lucky that night I definitely felt lucky.