What the Family Learned this Week

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.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Death of Popular Culture, The Benefits of Being On-Hold, And Fun With Genealogy OR What We Learned This Week:

By: Dalan Granat

1.  Sorry Millennials, Everything Cool Already Happened.

Two weeks ago I took my daughter to the mall to ride the train (I know that sounds weird, but South Town Mall has a little kids train that zips around--and my kid loves it).  While waiting for the returning train I stood next to a 17 year old kid.  He wore a Joy Division T-Shirt.  

I told him I liked his shirt and that he should check out the John Peel Sessions.  He stared at me blankly.  I then asked him what his favorite Joy Division album was, and he again looked at me blankly.  After a moment he said "Love Will Tear Us Apart" which while it is a Joy Division song it is not one of their albums. I then realized this kid didn't know much about the band whose shirt he was wearing. I guess he just though it looked cool.

I suggest a rule that no one be able to wear a band's shirt unless they can name at least 2 albums and 3 songs from said band. I think that's fair. But try explaining that to 17 year old hipsters. 

When did I become the old guy?  And how can I feel old when everything that is considered cool by today's youth culture is actually from my generation and earlier?

The 'Songs of the Summer' this year have been Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines".  Both of which have a "retro" sound like they could have been made in 1978.  The kids I saw at the mall wore sunglasses with neon-colored frames and t-shirts with Nirvana, Guns N' Roses, and The Cure on them. Yet they seem very confident in their own personal uniqueness.

I know every generation looks backwards to a point, but I wonder how long popular culture can survive if it is simply borrowing from the past and it's not creating anything new? I'm not sure. But I am sure that Lady Gaga and One Direction will not be on t-shirts in 30 years time.

2.  Customer Service Isn't Dead. It Just Takes A Long Time. 

Last week I had the unfortunate experience of having my laptop battery explode.  It actually made my computer pop up off the table as if possessed by a demon poltergeist.  Scary to say the least. Turns out purchasing a new battery for a laptop is expensive.

While researching on Apple.com the price/availability of a new battery for a 4 year old laptop, I found a recall notice related to my issue.  Batteries of this era were slightly defective and would expand and "pop" due to the heat from the processor.  This recall notice stated that Apple would replace the defective battery for free.  However, it had been posted 3 years ago. I hoped Apple would still honor that offer.

What followed was an almost 3 hour period of emails, webchats, and phone calls with various members of Apple's customer service department.  All of which told me they couldn't honor a recall that was so old.  I however remained undeterred because there was no expiration date mentioned on their recall notice, and I fully expected them to send me a new battery for free.

Was told that they couldn't do that multiple times all the while being being passed up from customer service reps to assistant managers to department managers. After being put on hold for 25 minutes straight (to see if I would just get discouraged, hang up, and go away) I finally made it to the head of customer relations who solved my problem in under five minutes.  Two days later I had a new laptop battery arrive in the mail. Success for the persistent.

3.  Family History Is Closer Than We Realize.

Giving the dearth of summer TV programming (I'm looking at you talent shows and obstacle courses) it is fun to discover something you actually enjoy.  This summer we've been watching "Who Do You Think You Are" a genealogy/family history show where they trace the family trees of various celebrities and Kelly Clarkson. 

It's an overly produced and less interesting version of the show that Henry Louis Gates has been doing on PBS for years; nevertheless it is still more entertaining than watching game show contestants try and solve fake murders or watching twentysomethings saying racist things while locked up in a house.

In any case, I love shows that bring history alive, and that often happens when these celebrities are researching their own families.  Our ancestors didn't know they were living in history.  They were just living. But you go far enough back in anyone's family line and they were someplace interesting in history.  Which of course bring me to Ikea.

Went to Ikea the other day and came face to face with our family's Swedish roots.  Did you know we have our own line of pillows now?

Our family history is alive and kicking in the form of throw-pillows.  That may not be as exciting as discovering Chris O'Donnell's ancestor was at the famous defense of Fort McHenry-- But it's something. And it really brings who you are into focus.

Monday, September 9, 2013

TV Traveling by Ramona, Home Alone by Brinn

By: Ramona Granat

It’s true, I’m not much of a TV connoisseur when it comes to this family.  Most of the time growing up our family’s TV was never hooked up to an antenna so it was of little importance to me.  However, in the last 12 years of marriage there have been many debates (that I lost) on the importance of the TV, or even the added expense of cable (Brinn has brought me over to the dark side with my love of a DVR system).  So now that I can watch my favorite TV shows at my own convenience and Lauren’s post on the lack of culture our Caucasian ethnicity gives us, it made me think of a show that I watched a few episodes of over this summer, ‘The Amazing Race: Canada”.  I have watched the original version of ‘The Amazing Race” off and on and have always enjoyed the cultural education that it provides between odd and creative challenges.  But I loved the few episodes of the Canadian version that I got to watch.  My favorite thing about the show is that it all takes place in Canada.  It was so fascinating to me to see the many different locations that they traveled to (the majority I have not been to and the few that I have).  Canada is rich with diversity.  Cultural diversity, geographic diversity, economic diversity, it just has so much to offer that we could learn about and be entertained by.  I loved the historical facts, the different focus on cities and regions that they featured. It was interesting and also fascinating.  Even though I enjoy the original version of the show, I know that most of the places it focuses on I will never go to (or even want to go to), whereas this national spin off sounds more appealing to me.  I now have some areas that I would like to add to my travel wish-list.  I think it would be interesting if they were to do an American version of the show, showing all the diversity and beauty that can be found right here in the United States.  There are thousands of places that could be featured right here in our own country, and it wouldn’t hurt for us to have a little bit of education on our own nation.  Not to mention the boost this would provide the American travel and tourism industries.  I think it would be really interesting.  

Our family took in the seven parts series of North America that aired on the discovery channel.  Fabulous!  If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend finding it on Netflix or Hulu or whatever you use for your own mode of TV viewing!!

Things I learned while home alone for a month
By: Brinn Granat

  1. I don’t know how to cook for 1 person and really I don’t know how to cook much at all.  My meals consisted of spaghetti, mushroom stroganoff, fish with rice, eggs and pancakes.  I think I failed to include all the 4 main food groups in my meals or even in each day, but whatever.  Also when I cooked I would cook too much and I would have leftovers.  So I was eating the same meal again and again for two or three days.  Thank goodness being alone I somehow put off a pathetic vibe that seemed to invoke the sympathy card because many people invited me to share meals with them.
  2. I’ve never been able to maintain and keep my home so clean.  It was amazing to come home and see my home shockingly the way I left it.  I never misplaced anything or spent any amount of time searching for my phone, my keys or my wallet.
  3. Dishes wow! I could go several days and still not have a full sink.  It was wild.  What a difference 4 kids and a wife make.
  4. Laundry.  Rather than a daily occurrence I could wash one load a week. I could just throw all my darks and whites in together and call it good.  Putting clothes away was also a breeze since none of my clothes need to be air dried or separated.
  5. House projects were so much easier to tackle and accomplish without constant interruption.  I think for the most part the honey-do list was completed.
  6. I love movies but even after watching the Lord of the Rings extended version (9 hours) I was ready for a different activity and I craved some human interaction.  Is it sad if I invited neighbor kids to join me for a movie night?  I had to become super uncle and take the LaClare girls to the drive-in (something I didn’t get a chance to do with my own family this year).
  7. Leaving the home on a whim and being able to randomly take off for a quick trip to SLC was great.  I caught the musical ‘Ragtime’ with Dalan and Whitney.  We learned that it was okay for the performers to step on the stage, but it was forbidden for us to step on the stage even if it were for the purpose of entering or exiting our row.  We got a nice tongue lashing from one of the ushers.  It was awkward, but also a little funny from our perspective.  I also learned that if your sister knows the words to the musical you're attending she won’t hold back singing along with the chorus.
  8. Spending time with Mom and Dad we caught a dinner theater at Mac’s Inn in Island Park.  The theme was music from the 40’s, but after seeing an hour of men dressed in drag mom was ready to call it a night.  The second act unfortunately was more of the same with roadshow like singing, but hey at least the tri-tip steak was good right?
  9. Uninterrupted sleep.  This is a luxury that should not be taken for granted.  You don’t realize how much you miss and appreciate this until your family leaves.  
  10. Is your family back yet?  I must have heard this more than a dozen times.  Must be lonely they’d ask.  I’d say yeah, I’m ready for them to be back.  The first week or two it was kind of nice being able to do my own thing, but after that I just missed my wife and kids as cheesy as that sounds.  Now that they have returned we are settled back into the insanity that we call life.