What the Family Learned this Week

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Nothing's Gonna Change My World..."

Well the assorted things we have recently learned might.

By: Kent & Marilyn Granat

a – We learned that the New York Times can not only be informative (‘all the news that’s fit to print’), but very shrewd  Recently, in the Sunday Times Magazine, there was a full page add for a ‘special holiday digital subscription’ to the Times that read, “What If You Could Give a Gift That Made Someone Smarter?  Chicer?  Happier? (And you didn’t have to wrap or mail it?).  Now the key word to the ad, that sets it apart, is the word ‘chicer’.  Since a huge majority of people would not know what the word means, it would often lead one to look up the word, and at the same time, subtly communicate that Times readers are obviously ‘smarter,’ and, thus clearly ‘happier’.  The definition of ‘Chicer’ is the icing on the cake.  It means stylish, sophisticated, elegant, fashionable, the most chic. 

b – We learned the six volume Dictionary of American Regional English is getting updated, and there are indeed some uncommon regional words.  For example:  a) usually when people each bring a dish to share it is called a potluck dinner; except in Indiana it is called a ‘pitch-in’, and in northern Illinois it is called a ‘scramble’;  b) children play hopscotch in most places, except in Manhattan it is called ‘potsy’, and in Chicago it is called ‘sky blue’;  and,  c)  in southeast Wisconsin, a drinking fountain is called a ‘bubbler’.

c – We learned, this year, a handful of elite universities (e.g. University of Chicago, Brandeis, etc.), have continued their quirky and unorthodox freshmen college entrance essay questions:  Examples:  1) tell us your favorite joke and try to explain the joke without ruining it;  2) what does Play-Doh have to do with Plato;  3)  write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge (industrial-sized) mustard;  4  if you were reduced to living on a flat plane, what would be your greatest problems?  Opportunities?

d – We learned there are clearly great differences in girls and boys, being evident at a young age.  Boston (grandson, age 4), when asked by Skipper (Kent) what was the best thing about the soccer game that day, answered, without hesitation, “we won”.  On that same day, Skipper asked Tate (granddaughter, age 7), the same soccer question.  And, with an ever so slight pause she answered, “the other team had pink uniforms.”

e – With Tate on a roll, we learned that kids can often be way more amusing than adults.  Recently Lauren told Tate she was smart while working on her homework.  Tate responded:  “And?”  Lauren: “nice?”  Tate: “And?”  Lauren: ‘cute?:”  Unsure of what Tate wanted to hear, Lauren asked, “what do you want me to say?”  Tate:  “mom, I am really funny.”

Monday, December 9, 2013

"The More You Know..."

Fun things I have seen or learned recently.

While in Arizona for Thanksgiving I discovered what really happened to Michael Scott after he left Scranton, PA and Dunder Mifflin. He is managing a Chili's in Mesa. Way to go Michael.

This cold winter has also reminded me of my great joy in winter attire. I have been able to share that love with Bailey. I do know that I definitely prefer being cold to being hot. It's much easier to get warm then it is to get cold. So bring it on Utah Winter.

I also recently came across a reserved parking place for "Pie Hole". I find this informative and questioning all at the same time. How can one's "pie hole" need a parking space. I will leave you to ponder and discuss. Also there was only one spot and yet it is numbered 1. Thought provoking (and weird) right?!

Finally I understand the joy that can come from finishing your holiday shopping before December even begins. I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving and am already thoroughly enjoying December much more than in past years. Also, if you start shopping early I think this allows you to put more thought into gifts. So Merry Christmas and get your shopping and shipping done as soon as you can so you too can enjoy the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Only In Idaho

You know you are in a small town when someone says “oh that’s clear across town” when referring to something that is only 15 minutes away.  Nearly everything in town is within 10 or 15 minutes away in Idaho Falls. 
Recently my company just had a grand opening of the newly built branch in Pocatello.   We had a great turnout,   the corporate executives from Salt Lake said that it was the biggest turnout for a grand opening they have had for any of their 76 branches.  They cooked over 900 hamburgers.  The joke was if you say free food in a small town like Pocatello everyone comes out of the wood work to check things out and get a free meal.
The other big buzz at the grand opening was the news that Carl’s Junior would soon be built next to us.  So much excitement for a fast food chain, which I shouldn’t mock because I remember when we got our first CafĂ© Rio in Idaho Falls and how pumped everyone was.  Not to mention The Panda Express and ultimately Chick Filet.  We’ve come a long way with our fast food options in the last 8 years.  I think since we have such freakishly long winter’s people figure least they have places to go eat out.  It’s too bad that no one has thought about building a giant indoor water park or recreation center that would allow family fun all year round.  
Speaking of work, I travel to Pocatello and Logan Utah.  During these drives I pass through several small towns and I sometimes come across the most random things.  For example, the other day I was on my trip to Logan and passed through the small town of Preston Idaho (You know Preston as being the small town where Napoleon Dynamite was filmed).  I was at a stop light when right in front of me in broad daylight a horse crosses the street at the cross walk.  Nobody seemed surprised by this, it’s probably just a typical day in their town, but too me I found myself laughing and busting out my iphone to take a picture. 
On another trip I stopped for gas and was surprised because I had to park in the rear of the gas station so I could enter the convenient store.  I felt all eyes on me as I entered the building.  There must have been 15-20 men inside visiting and having hot chocolate or coffee together.  I jokingly said to one of them, “wow I barely found parking to get in here”, to which the man replied “well our regular coffee shop just went out of business and this is the next closest thing that we have in town.”  I doubt a Starbucks is in the near future, but it was interesting to see these “townies” keeping their morning tradition alive.  

Another random moment occurred when I was on my way home from Pocatello to Idaho Falls.  I was sitting at a stop light when I saw and antique looking truck.  It had an odd shape to it and after looking at it I was not sure but it seemed as if its bed had been converted into some type of make shift sauna.?  Again only in Idaho I guess can these things appear normal.
Last, after talking with Ramona about these weird sightings she told me that she too had seen something unusual.  The other day she was stopped at a stop sign waiting for a young kid on a bike to cross, which he did, slowly, and without pedaling.  It’s seemed really odd to not pedal, and as she passed him (and he had still not pedaled) she noticed the small engine rigged to the back of his bike.  Have we come so far that kids cannot even pedal power their own bikes?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"I'm running and I'm running and I'm still running"

By Lauren LaClare

So last week I ran the Chicago Marathon.  I trained for 18 weeks...running hundreds of miles over 4 1/2 months...with the hopes of being able to run 26.2 miles on race day.  This is my 4th time running a marathon but my first one being the big 4-0! 

The beginning of my training went fine...I ran...and ran...then about week 15 of the training my body was like, "hey old lady you are too old and not really the right body type to be running as much as you are." I was having hip pain, calf pain, foot pain, pretty much my left side of my body was really mad at me. A doctor told me I had tendonitis...pretty much muscle tears were causing the pain.  He said with rest and time it would heal...but with only 4 days before the race he said a whole lot of medical strategic taping would have to be good enough.

So with lots of prayers, my tape in hand...(well actually on my foot) a whole lotta ibuprofen, and caffeinated power gels in my pocket I crossed the starting line.  In running this marathon you get to see the best in people.  Everyone is so excited and happy and supportive of this crazy (yes I know it's crazy) race. People are lined up the entire way cheering, singing, high fiving, or passing out Vaseline (ya don't want to know) or candy for a little sugar boost.   There are lots of funny signs...my fave, "Run Random Stranger Run." Or..."This is the worst parade EVER." Pretty much I had a smile on my face the whole time.

I was slow and steady and finished feeling great.  My motto was I am not here for a good time...but here for a GOOD time." And like in life sometimes all you can ask after doing something hard is that you finish and still have a smile on your face. :)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Deep Thoughts About Ethan Turning 13

Small children disturb your sleep, big children your life.  
              ~Yiddish Proverb

It kills you to see them grow up.  But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't.  
             ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

I have never really liked teenagers. I didn’t like them when I WAS one. And I was permanently scarred when I student taught high school to earn my secondary teaching certificate my last year of college (did I mention a fight broke out on our last day in the classroom?) It’s one of the reasons I went to graduate school, since I loved teaching history, I just hated the teenagers. Even today, when I see a group of teenagers walking down the street, or approaching me in a store, I tense up, like I have post-traumatic stress. I’ve poisoned my kids’ minds too, so much so that any time they see a group of young people they automatically say “Look at those punks!”  I served in the Young Women’s once at church, but it only lasted six weeks.  

So imagine my horror as the day approached that my first born, my baby, would be turning 13. Even just saying it out loud made me throw up a little bit in my mouth.  But we are trying to have a little fun with it. I like to tease him by singing the theme song to a puberty video that he watched at school -“Just Around the Corner.” It’s fun to see the amount of food he can put away, and he’s been fighting ordering off the kids menu for more than a year already. It’s nice to have a home-grown babysitter who only occasionally forgets to not abuse his brother and sister.  We already have a no slamming doors policy. He’s not exactly Mr. Talkative about his day, and I’m afraid the divulging of details will only get worse.  

As I complained to those around me about Ethan reaching this milestone, one of my friends shared this analogy about kids getting older. She said that teenage children are like astronauts who are orbiting the earth. For while they will go radio silent as they are making the journey, but they will make their way back around. Oh I hope so!  And I hope that I will learn to love teenagers, at least the ones that live in my house!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Learning From Humor, History, Television and Song Lyrics

By: Kent and Marilyn Granat

1.  We learned, once again, there are glimpses of truth in most humor.  Dan Naturman, a comedian on Letterman, recently joked, “I was talking with a Canadian girl who mentioned a person named Steven Harper who seemed to her to be a pretty important guy.  I said to her, ‘who is that’?  She said to me, ‘you got to be kidding me, you don’t know who the prime minister of Canada is’?  And I said, ‘I’ll do you one better, I didn’t know Canada had a prime minister’.

2.  On August 28th the country commemorated the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s March on Washington.  Marilyn and Kent taped six hours of C-Span (hard to believe), to capture a fast forward version of what happened on this seminal anniversary at the Lincoln Memorial.  Due to the length of the ceremony, the number of speakers seemed, and was, endless.  The highlights for us were:  John Lewis (current Congressman from Georgia) who had a fireball speech at the March on Washington 50 years ago;  three living Presidents (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama), reminding us how each got elected in the first place;  two daughters of departed Presidents (Caroline Kennedy and Lynda Bird Johnson Robb);  and some cool celebrities (Jamie Foxx, Oprah).

However, with all of these prominent folks, the speaker who touched our hearts the most, was NBA Hall of Fame player, Bill Russell (Boston Celtics).  He explained in his short speech that he was at the March on Washington 50 years ago.  In fact, the night before the event he met Dr. King, and was asked to be with Dr. King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, but he declined saying, “he had not done anything to warrant such an honor”.  In closing his remarks, he advised the large mixed audience to follow the adage he grew up with in the projects, “keep on, keeping on.”

3.  We smiled when attending the October 4th Utah State - BYU football game, and reading, in large block letters, along the northwest cement base of the Romney Stadium (not that Romney) and Merlin Olson field, ‘BE CAREFUL OUT THERE’.  

Everyone in the Granat home, and most everyone in America over the age of 40, knows that this phrase comes from the iconic Hill Street Blues TV show, when, Sergeant Esterhaus would say in the squad room, at the start of every episode, in at least forty different ways, “let’s be careful out there.”  You can revisit the memory, or learn something new, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2QApwtE8zQ 

4.  We observed, once again, you can learn from song lyrics.  Ray Wylie Hubbard, a Texas legendary country blues singer-song writer, has a marvelous tune called Mother Blues, that captures his life story in one song.  It ends with him saying, “and the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations well I have really good days.”  It is worth watching at www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7x-80GA1jk

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose...

Daniel Magalogo

Things I’ve learned while working with the Utah State football team: 

Being a student athlete (or having a schedule similar to one) is extremely time consuming and requires a great amount of discipline.

Police escorts are the fastest way to get around downtown Los Angeles.  They also make you feel like a celebrity.

Most teams have a Chaplain that travels to every game. 

Coaching is a labor of love.

There are a number of unseen people that make a college football team run smoothly.  They call them support staff and they are almost as numerous as the players themselves.

Boosters and Alumni that travel to away games are not very nice people. (It’s a business trip for the players, and the boosters bring golf clubs that take up a lot of space….I have to continually tell myself that I’m “networking,” but I really just want to run their golf clubs over.)

On a more serious note:

Football is considered to be a very physical and violent game at times.  In fact, one of the things that coaches look for when recruiting is a person’s propensity to be violent, because it is something that cannot be taught.  That being said I have learned that, although these men that play football may be hardened and toughened individuals, they rely on not only physical strength, but a strength that comes from a higher power.  It has been very cool to see these players and coaches acknowledge a higher power and seek, through prayer, the protection and power of a Heavenly Father.  They may come from different religious backgrounds, and have different ways of praying, but without fail they bow their heads before a meal and pray for strength and nourishment.  They pray before the game for protection and strength to perform well and to avoid injury.  After the game they pray and give thanks for a hard fought battle, and whether they win or lose, they thank God for everything.  It is not something that is seen often, and happens behind closed doors most of the time, but it’s comforting to know that even in the game of Football, God is present.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

All Things Comic-CON!

Contributed by Trevor Smith: 

Comic Con was a blast. I saw many cool costumes, celebrities, events, and panels. Here are some of the highlights:

1. If you build it, they will come - Apparently, the geek community is alive and well in Salt Lake. It turned out to be the 3rd biggest Comic Con (behind San Diego and New York, obviously). It broke the record for largest inaugural Comic Con with almost 80,000 attendees.

2. Chaos reigns - One of the side-effects of such an unexpectedly large turnout is the massive disorganization. The long lines for popular celebrities, panels, and events were confusing and disheveled. I was given conflicting directions multiple times...it just seemed like they were making it up as they went.

3. Excelsior! - The highlight of this whole experience was meeting the man himself, Stan Lee. If anyone knows anything about me, it is that the core of my geek-hood is the Marvel Universe (Batman and Star Wars round out the trifecta). Stan is the creator and Godfather of all things Marvel. It was a long and chaotic process (see #2 above), but I was able to get a signature on my Marvel Encyclopedia and I couldn’t be happier.

4. The Shat and the Bat - The other major event at the Con was a live panel with Captain Kirk and Bruce Wayne, or William Shatner and Adam West for those living under a rock. Thanks to the chaos (see #2 above), I got to sit 5th row center for free! It was fun to see a couple of old legends chat. It was kind of like watching a couple of old, senile grandpa’s talk each others’ ears off about whatever happened to pop into their heads at that moment. 

5. Looks AND personality? - I have a new man-crush, and he just happens to be an alien from the planet Krypton. I met Dean Cain for the sole purpose of getting him to sign Whitney’s copy of “Lois & Clark”, I had no idea that he would make me fall in love with him! As he was signing it, he asked “who’s Whitney?”. I said, “my wife, she has a huge crush on you”. To which he replied, “ I swear I didn’t do anything!”. Then he joked about how he wouldn’t want to piss off a man of my size (yeah, that’s right...Superman is intimidated by me!). He noticed my Utah hat and proceeded to chat Utah football with me...and he knew his stuff too, it wasn’t just an act. He’s just an overall good guy.

6. Playing dress-up - A grand tradition in the world of geek conventions….Cosplay! I joined in the fun on Saturday by dressing up as Captain Mal from the cult sci-fi series, “Firefly” (if you are unfamiliar, it’s on Netflix. Do yourself a favor and watch it!). I got lots of compliments. I even had one lady ask  if she could take my picture holding her baby! 

I may or may not already be planning for next year.