6 to 40: The Good Sport

Julianne is a good sport.  She really doesn’t like me to take her pictures.  But, I am a picture taker (and sometimes photographer).  I have never really claimed to be  people photographer.  My favorite thing to do is either take straight candid shots of people or have them do silly poses.  Admittedly, the only real photos of people tend to be selfies…since I am the “Shamelessly Self-Proclaimed Selfie King.”

Despite all of this, I have convinced Julianne to allow me to get her to pose for pictures…some which were silly, but others where I was really trying to get a “serious” pose.  She is such a good sport.  This is why my 40 years with her has been so joyful!

Julianne is certainly my Local Honey. She is sweet and wonderful. And doesn’t mean that I have other honeys elsewhere. Everywhere I go she remains my “Local Honey”

Julianne is also my “Sweet Tea”… how sweet can she get? (I had to try hard to convince her on this one)

This is often what she does when I try to take a picture of her

Julianne is a real chipper gal….almost out of control with the tortilla chips

She obviously didn’t want me to take this Naughty shot of her

Julianne wanted to make sure that people knew she was the grandmother of the Noe’s kids.  She is good at picking her nose too!

Sometimes we just clown around

Did I say that Julianne was my “Local Honey?”  Pure Raw Local Honey!  Yep, that’s her!

She is my Number 1 best friend. Still had to fight to convince her to get in the picture.

I need s’more of Julianne’s pics (by the way, she does not eat these any longer)

Then there are the “Forced Poses”

I am always trying to get her to pose for pictures. I think this is a nice one.

She probably still hates this picture that I took by the Ohio River at Rabbit Hash, KY

I had to BEG her to get into the sunflowers for a nice shot. She is brighter than the flowers

I think she liked posing for this one with all of the beautiful colors in Red River Gorge.. She is Red River Gorgeous!!

I like shots of Julianne with flowers

And she likes posing with her flowers too

This is the “Why are you taking this picture?” face 

This is another one I asked her to pose for. I had to beg. Nice view above Cincinnati

Like this?

Not another one David!

Do I really have to David?

Yes, I can peek through the window…and I’m still Naughty

“If I stay like this maybe he won’t take a picture.” — WRONG!

Hold on!!

I fall for her every fall….and all the other seasons too

As wonderful as an ocean view

Another poser!

Another one I had to beg for. Cute isn’t she?

Julianne is beautiful.  She is fun. She is playful. She’s my local honey. She is a good sport.

 

15 to 40: Then and Now – Part 1

Forty years is a long time.  The world has changed considerably in the past forty years.  Having a 40th anniversary not only causes much reflection on the relationship and partnership with my sweetheart.  In fact, it has made me look back on many other things.  How were things back then compared to now?

David and Julianne 1979 in Monument Valley

In this post I am not going to focus so much on my marriage to Julianne.  Rather, I want to focus on what the world was for us back in 1979 and look at things today in comparison.  Part 2 will look at how things have changed for the two of us over the past forty years.

1979

Here are a few highlights from 1979.  Do you remember?

Jimmy Carter was the US President

Need a dollar? This coin could get you a little more than a gallon gas back in 1979

Gas was 86 cents per gallon, but there were shortages and lines

A few other prices from 1979

Rental prices were about $280 per month

On July 15, 1979 Donna Summer’s Bad Girls was the number one song and Album

Number one movie on July 15, 1979 was Dracula starring Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier

On July 15, 1979 Sophie’s Choice was the #1 Best Seller

The best selling car of 1979 was the Oldsmobile Cutlass

The McDonald’s Happy Meal was born in 1979 and was only a dollar

Three’s Company was the most popular SitCom in 1979

Diet Coke did not yet exist, but MelloYello was introduced in 1979

Nickelodeon was launched in 1979. No Rugrats back then folks.

ESPN was also launched in 1979. There were lots of repeat programs on back then.

Trivial Pursuit question…when was it introduced? Yep…1979

Apocalypse Now was the top movie of 1979

The Dukes started flying their red car in 1979 on TVs across America

I got my first Sony Walkman in 1985, but the first edition arrived in 1979

And lots of people were listening to My Sharona by The Knack. It was Billboard’s #1 song of 1979

And here are a few more of the songs that people were listening to on their radios and Walkmans in 1979

Looks a bit different from a laptop. The Atari 400 was introduced in 1979. It had 48K max capacity. The photo above is nearly 100K!!

The Dead Zone by Stephen King was released in 1979

Some of the top albums of 1979. Have you heard of these?

Tostitos were brand new in 1979!

Pittsburgh reigned in 1979 – The Super Bowl Champs were the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The World Series Champs were the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Penguins WERE NOT in the Stanley Cup finals for the NHL however.

AND FINALLY….

One of the most famous matchups in NCAA basketball championship history took place in 1979 when Michigan State, led by Magic Johnson, met Indiana State, led by Larry Bird. Michigan State won the game 75-64 and Magic Johnson was the MVP.

 

20 to 40: Adventures of Merried Life

(Author Note:  Life continues to be busy.  I was once again not be able to add days 26 thru 21, but hope to continue now from Day 20 to Day 1…the last remaining days before our 40th Anniversary on July 15).

Yes, I wrote that correctly — The Merried Life.  As our 40th Anniversary approaches, I want this post, representing 20 days before the said date, to show some of the Merry things of married life.  Over the past 14,591 days of our marriage (including today), we have had many unique and fun experiences, making life Merry.

The worst thing about these merry events in life is that, in most cases, I don’t have photos.  Most of the photos in this post are captured from the internet.  I don’t like to use other photos.  I prefer my own, but these do get the point across.

Back when we celebrated the first year of our marriage I got one of our photos and glued it to a red plaque and then wrote on top with paint, “Merried Life.”  It was meant to represent the joy I had with her in our first year together.  The plaque is still around, probably buried in one of our many boxes of memories.

Scrabble LOVE

From the beginnings of our marriage, Julianne and I have spent many hours together playing Scrabble.  This seems to have been our go to game over the years.  In fact, in the earlier years, the statistician geek in me kept a “Scrabble Records” book in which I kept track of all of the scores, the 7 letter words, the high scores, the low scores, the Win/Loss records, etc.  In fact, I still have the book in one of my memory boxes!  I will have to be honest…Julianne probably leads in the W-L column from all of the years.  In recent years I have not kept track, but I will bet it is something like Julianne 1220, David 850.  Nowadays, we continue the games but they are online on our mobile devices, so the togetherness, laughs, “you cheated” claims and that kind of fun don’t happen as often.

Murmuration of starlings

One of our laughable memories comes from our first year of marriage, before kids made their arrival.  I had come home from one evening from work in Provo.  We lived on the second floor of an apartment complex.  As I went to the door, I saw something that gave me the chills…it was actually scary.  In the distance I saw a bunch of glowing lights in the sky flying in weird formation and thought we were being visited by hundreds of UFOs!  No Joke!  I called for Julianne and basically scared her as well.  Turns out that the real culprit was a murmuration of starlings that had static electricity on them.  Living in Kentucky we get to see murmurations of starlings quite a bit.  It is an amazing thing to watch.  But, I will never forget my UFO birds of Provo from 1979.

The Anniversary Dinner at Red Lobster — unforgettable

Another fun memory of ours goes back to Mesa, Arizona when she and I went out to celebrate our fifth anniversary in 1984.  I was a new graduate student at Arizona State University and Julianne was home taking care of children.  I wanted to do something really nice to celebrate our fifth anniversary.  So, I took her to dinner at Red Lobster… a super, big deal treat for us.  We had a splendid and memorable dinner…especially when we got the bill.  It was over $40.  We cringed.  That was a lot of money for us. So, we paid…with some regrets…   As we got into the car, Julianne exclaimed, “David, that was too much.  Let’s take it back and get a refund.”  We didn’t.  But, we also did not ever forget this memorable anniversary dinner.

Another thing we have done together over the years was attending symphony concerts.  We have not done this as often as we have wanted to (especially Julianne!), but we have still made it to one or two a year.  Since Julianne is a talented violinist, this was something important.  In Flagstaff, we would see the Flagstaff Symphony.  We have seen a number of concerts in Kentucky as well. This is always a time of merriment for us.

Snow Splat in Face

Of course, our children began showing up in 1980 and so our “Merry Times” together soon included the children.  Even with these, we have some fun times and memories of things we all did together.  Perhaps one of the funniest memories took place one winter morning in Japan in 1990 or 1991.  We were all playing in the snow and I was on the sidelines videoing the adventures.  The kids all began throwing snowballs as was Julianne. Suddenly, and without warning, I was splattered in the face with a snowball.  Right in the eye!  I was videoing and got hit good.  Seconds later Julianne was laughing so hard, that I couldn’t help but laugh with her.  It wasn’t funny for about two seconds.  But the timing was impeccable and totally accidental.  I wish I could find that video that captured the second I was splatted.  Even today we laugh about this story.

Landen Water Gun

Snowballs are not our only fun.  The Kravetz family has had some serious water fights.  Not talking water balloons here.  Talking BUCKETS of water!   These have been a staple since the days when our kids were younger in Arizona and have carried on with our grandchildren.

With a deck in our backyard in Kentucky, water fights have gone to new levels and there have been times they have found their way into the house.  The more the merrier!!

Family Fun with masks in Japan

We once had an interesting Merry Christmas in Japan, thanks to Julianne.  All of the kids got some interesting rubber masks and were able to open them and put them on.  I am not sure if the kids remember this merriment, but I certainly do.  Julianne’s mask of a guy with a cigar in his mouth (not pictured because she wanted the witch for the photo) was priceless!

I am sure there are more memories out there that I have forgotten.  Maybe a second post will find its way in the next few days.

The goofiness and fun-loving nature of both Julianne and I has flowed down to the kids as well.  I am always one for grabbing a fun family photo. So, to close out this post, following are some of our more “unique” family shots from years past. And yes, some of them were taken despite complaints by one or more of the participants.  But, for the fun of merried family life…..  And much of this fun can be directly attributed to the fun creativity of Julianne.

Hanging around at a park in Lexington in the 1998

Thanksgiving at Chelsea’s in 2017

Non-adulting in 2018

The Ends of the Road (Springfield, Illinois at Lincoln Home) — Marissa didn’t like the idea… But, it WAS Julianne’s idea

Tug of war at Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Another park pic from 1998

All gathered together someplace in Texas in December 1999

Masked adventures on KravGirls Night Out in December 2015. # Generations in this pic

All on one lap…in Vernal, Utah

And, we get the grandkids in on it now too. The whole family in prime form – July 2017!

 

46 to 40: La Cucaracha

Julianne grew up in Mesa, Arizona.  Turns out that her house was notorious for being a haven for “sewer roaches.” This particular breed of cockroach is actually an Oriental cockroach and is the most water-dependent of the roaches.  In Arizona they like to hang out in the more moist areas of the desert, breeding in the sewers.  Thus the name “sewer roach.”

I first experienced cockroaches when visiting Mesa for the first time when Julianne saw one and asked me to kill it.  Easy enough.  But there are lots of them and I got tired of killing them.  At an early stage in our marriage she made me promise to kill all of the bugs.  I vowed to do so and have pretty well kept that promise.

Cockroaches anyone?

Well, one day, while I was a student at ASU and we were living in Julianne’s parent’s house (they were in South Africa on an LDS Mission), Julianne was in the back taking a shower.  Suddenly, I heard her screaming and she was soon running out of the shower wet and naked screaming, “A sewer roach just crawled up my leg!! Get it off!.”  It was a horrifying moment for her.  We got the roach taken care of and moved on.  But, this story has become family lore and our children, having taken the prankster role as they learned from their mother, decided to pull a huge prank a few years ago.

Hiding cockroaches

A plastic cockroach that Julianne stuck on a thermostat at Amaree’s house during a Christmas visit a few years ago.  This was apparently the real culprit that started the cockroachery.

UPDATE: After speaking with Amaree, apparently, Julianne was the one that started this by putting plastic cockroaches in Aaron’s bed when Aaron (her fiance at the time) was visiting us in Kentucky.  So, Amaree and Aaron took the same and stuck a cockroach in the asparagus and Julianne apparently screamed when she saw it.  The following is Amaree’s revenge:

Julianne never knows where she will find a cockroach hidden

The real culprits, as we learned later, were Amaree and her family.  They had come for a visit from Montana, where they lived at the time, and they brought back an “infestation” with them. Apparently, one of the days, when Julianne was out of the house, they pulled out a bag with dozens of realistic-looking plastic cockroaches, that actually resemble Arizona’s sewer roaches.  They commenced to secreting them away in diverse places around the house for Julianne to discover both while they were still visiting and then, for months to come.  The “gift that kept on giving” if you will….  Supposedly, there are over 50 of them still hidden around the house…

 

She runs across the little critters in all sorts of places

In her shoes

In her socks

In her bath salts (notice, this one was in the “Take It Easy” bath salts – how rejuvenating!)

In the bottoms of drinking bottles

She finds handfuls

And handfuls…

And even has collected a plateful (Yum!)

So, in 2017, Julianne decided to fight back, bug to bug, by sending cockroach pillows to each of the kids and grandkids.  This is what we got back via Facebook:

Amaree now has a pet

Aaron, a sleeping partner

The Noe kids have a Noe Cockroach now

Jorge loves to eat with his…

And so does Rockwell

A whole different meaning to cuddlebug!!

One Christmas we got the perfect book to read to the grandkids:

Yes, a book about a cockroach

And the cockroach fun didn’t stop there.  Amaree, in all of her creative cockroachery, found the perfect gift for Julianne’s birthday in 2018.  Yes, a cockroach pillow.  (I wanted to upload the video from my phone, but it is apparently too big.)

Julianne loves her Cockroach Pillow. Sits proudly on the couch (until guests come by)  Blurry because I had to pull it from the video I couldn’t upload

And it like the elusive cockroaches that don’t go away, for Christmas, she got a board game…with, you guessed it, cockroaches.

I guess she will always have bugs in the kitchen…

There are even times that the cockroachery goes to new levels.  Julianne got a late mother’s day gift from her daughter Amaree just last week.  Just what she needed!  Roach Clips!!

Julianne and her new collection of Roach Clips — May 2019

Well, in closing, I would like to add a little cockroachery of my own.  Way before the days I met Julianne, this little ditty by Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan (famous for The Tennessee Birdwalk) was being played on a few radio stations and, most certainly by one of my heroes of the late 1960s, Dr. Demento.  Little did I know back then that I would be dealing with cockroachery in my future married years. Enjoy The Cockroach Stomp

Kill Kill Kill 
Everybody do the Cockroach Stomp. 
California, Tennessee, and Louisville,
Come on, do the Cockroach Stomp. 
1 and 2 and 3 and 4, 
Stomp your partner on the floor. 
Squish squish. squish, squish, squish. 
Find a bug, 
Make a wish.

47 to 40: Julianneisms – Part 2

In my previous post, I talked about Julianneisms, funny things that Julianne has said over the years, new phrases she has coined and more.  In this second part, I will continue, but will focus more on how she changes songs, how she has integrated some into her life and more.

Julianne has always been musical, but, in the form of Julianneisms, she has taken music to a new level of some kind. For this particular post, I did a survey among our children and they have come up with some good ones.

One of Amaree’s photos near her high school graduation

The first comes from when our daughters Amaree and Marissa in high school in Jessamine County.  They were in the choir and there was one concert where they were singing a Zulu spiritual titled Siyahamba.  The original lyrics go as follows:

Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos
Siyahamb ekukhanyenu kwenkos

Well, that evening Julianne began singing the following and it has almost always become a Christmas tradition for her to “request” that the kids sing it as follows:

“See a ham, banana cookie crackers
See a ham banana cookie crackers

And thus, we are off on a roll…or at least on crackers.

A Christmas Smile – when she tries to get the kids to sing Silent Night

Speaking of Christmas traditions, Julianne has carried on a traditional “non-tradition” for the family each Christmas.  For nearly two decades, at every Christmas she will say

Let’s all gather in a circle and light candles and sing Silent Night

And, like a good tradition, the kids have always kind of done the “Let’s don’t and say we did” kind of thing.  So, it has become a traditional non-tradition to not gather in a circle with candles and sing Silent Night at Christmas time.  But, we can always expect the request from Julianne to do so.

 

Taking care of children in Japan. She is with Seth and Marissa here.

Switching gears, Julianne really dislikes any kind of potty humor.  But, ironically, in my survey with the kids, our son Seth had this to say…and it is so true…

You know…I’m now realizing that for a woman so against potty humor, Mom sure talked about poop and butts a lot.

One song she has sung to the kids since the earliest days of our first child Amaree, is a song that has been around a while.  However, it fits in well with her Julianneisms…

I see your hiney, all white and shiny
If you don’t hide it, I’m gonna bite it.

And then she went on with another lyric that included the words “I’m gonna chew it.” But alas, as far as I know, Julianne has never bitten or chewed any of the kids’ hineys, despite the 30 some odd years of threats to do so.

Young sassy Chelsea Dawn — “you WILL NOT spank my little bottom Mom!”

But, rhyming away, in a sing-sing fashion, she has also recited the following (which I also posted in the previous post, but am including here in the hiney-loving tradition):

Spank that bottom!  Spank it hard! Spank that little tub of lard! Spank it hard! Spank it fast! Spank that boy right on the ask me no more questions and I’ll tell you more no lies…”

Another “poop”  related song Julianne wants to attribute to me.  But, you know what, I’ll let her have all of the credit and glory. Having been adults in the 70s, we heard a great deal of music from the famed Swedish group ABBA.  One of their songs, Super Trouper, became a regular in our household, especially around diaper changing time.  The lyrics of the Julianneismized version go as follows:

All of the grandkids, even Landen, would laugh at the Super Pooper song now

You’re a Super Pooper, pooping up your panties, pooping all day long…pooping really strong…you’re a super pooper girl (or boy — depending on was doing the Super Pooping).

Of course, she would then call the kids her ” Poopinstinkin’ ”  – another Julianneism dictionary word.

Then came along the age of iPods and music MP3s.  With the iPod, Julianne could collect her set of songs.  By the early 2000s, Julianne had developed a playlist for cleaning and doing chores.  She apparently loves cleaning as the first song was always Fallin’ by Alicia Keys.  Just imagine Julianne singing that first “I keep on fallin’ in and out of love with you.”  Almost 19 years later she STILL sings this song as she begins her chores.

But Alicia Keys was not the only one.  She also popularized a Lady Gaga remake by The Chipmunks and would be caught singing along to Bad Romance….  Yes, I have a video of Julianne singing it, but I also want to live a few years longer.  But believe me, it COULD go viral!!  Just imagine her singing this….

Julianne and Laura have their own kind of sing-songy Sister Speak. Really…

And finally, in a musical sort of way, whenever Julianne and her sister Laura get together, they kind of have their own “Sister talk” style.  It is kind of sing-songy way of talking.  They don’t talk that way to others, only to each other.  It has been going on for as long as I have known them.  Yes, it is peculiar, but, we all create our own mannerisms over the years, and Julianne has her peculiar Julianneisms. That was what makes her special and endearing to all.

48 to 40: Julianneisms – Part 1

All of us have those “little somethings” that we become known for among our friends and families.  You know, the funny things we always do and say that make us unique.  Julianne is no exception to this.  She too has her quirky sayings and unique terms.  I am going to refer to them as Julianneisms.

This is Part 1 of the Julianneisms posts, focusing on her words, comments and quips.  I even went to my children for input, since they may have Julianneisms in their minds that may not have been in mine.

I hope those of you reading this will enjoy a few of these fun Julianneisms.

Sushi with red tobiko on top. Her favorite part of sushi!

I will start off with a story about “tobiko,” the little fish eggs (or roe) that are often added to the top of servings of sushi.  Julianne first experienced tobiko when we were living in Japan in the late 1980s.  This led to a famed Julianneism that kind of goes like this:

I love these little eggs, because sometimes they get caught in my teeth and then I’ll have a snack for later.

I think she has trademarked her Julianneism.

When Julianne makes comments like this, she has a unique laugh that goes along with the comment…it is her “that was a good one” laugh.  She had one of these “good one” laughs a few years back.  I was getting into bed and I like the sheets loose.  She likes them tucked in tightly.  On this particular occasion, I was struggling with getting the sheet pulled out.  I grunted and said something about the sheets being stuck.  Her response (and then “good one” laugh) was:

Toughsheet!

Taco head for National Taco Day at Chuy’s (for free food)… That was her idea. Other thoughts got the old “THAT’S an idea” from her.

When Julianne has ideas that she considers to be good ideas, she pretty much doesn’t budge.  At the same time, if she hears ideas from me or our children that may not meet her expectations she always replies:

THAT’S an idea.”

You really don’t want to hear that from her, as it really means, “That’s not a very good idea.”

You can see Seth gets scared when Julianne threatens to spank his bottom.

Never one to mince her words, if she considers her children naughty, even for the smallest infraction (and, for that matter, non-infractions) she would say:

Should I spank your bottom? You are not too old for me to spank your bottom!.

Now imagine her spanking her 31 year old Seth’s bottom — he is 6’6″ and some 400+ pounds.

And then, when she commences with spanking, she says:

Spank that bottom!  Spank it hard! Spank that little tub of lard! Spank it hard! Spank it fast! Spank that boy right on the ask me no more questions and I’ll tell you more no lies…”

Throughout our 40 years together, Julianne has also coined a number of new words.  Here is the beginnings of the Julianneism Dictionary.

She may be strong on her whole foods plant based regimen, but chips are too yummiferous to pass up

When she finds food that she really loves, she refers to it as “yummiferous.”  A Mix of Yummy and For Us… there are foods or dishes that are yummiferous.  I believe that she refers to her steamed kale and pineapple for breakfast as yummiferous.

A Yuckified face — grandson Rockwell

On the other end of the spectrum is the word “yuckified.”  This term has many contextual uses.  If she is sick, she feels yuckified.  Food can go bad and become yuckified. Furniture can get dirty and be yuckified.

From a happy face (R) to a funkified face (L)

Julianne’s hair has become funkified after the wind blew through it on a recent boat ride.

Along the same lines as “yuckified,” is her term “funkified.”  This refers to something, usually food, that has become thoroughly unappetizing, disgusting, or repugnant.  It can also refer to something out of whack…let’s say maybe a toilet seat that has become unscrewed.  From the derivitive FUNKY, the item has gone from being good to becoming funkified. I think the best one is her complaints that her hair is “funkified” on certain days.

Julianne with her “No-uh” face

Ofttimes, the kids may accuse Julianne of something…whether it was a “fluff” or whether she was “notoriously” cheating at a game, she always has a pat response:

No-uh!”

This is her version “No Sir” or “Uh-uh” (not to be confused with Uh-Huh – which means agreement).

Julianne’s Siri has trouble understanding her many times.

There are many others that I could probably include herein.  But, in closing, even her “Auto Correct” on her iPhone has trouble dealing with her.  Many times when I go to pick her up from work, I get the following from her via text aftr sending her a text saying “I’m here.”  Her response?

OK.  I have to go puddle and then I’ll be right out.

I have never understood what she is doing….   Odd…..

 

58 to 40: She is fun-loving

Julianne is fun-loving.  In fact, I might even say she can be goofy at times, but NOT in the Post Title (of course).  Our daughter Amaree even has nick-named her “Nuttiness.”  And sometimes it fits.

Julianne is not obnoxious.  She is also not very outspoken or gregarious (like her husband).  But, she has a goofy side.   I think that our children picked up their “goofy” sides from her.   I am just not as goofy…or am I?

Typical fun with Julianne photobombing

Dracula Teeth

One of my first memories of her goofiness was when she was having a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and then put the brown wrapper over her teeth. Or the “Orange Peel Smile.”  One time our daughter caught her using spaghetti to make Dracula teeth…

She has done funny teeth things with pistachio shells too.  You never know what she may come up with.

I got the biggest kick out of her a couple of years ago when she had to create a poster for a graphic arts class at the University of Kentucky.  This poster is a prime example of her “creative goofiness.”  I had to include it here.  She did ALL of the art work…including the characterization of herself from actual photos….

Julianne is notorious for her photo-bombs and funny faces in photos.  Here are a couple of them from the past.

Photobomb 2 (upper right) — yes, the kids get it from her!

Selfie with Seth

Photobomb 3

A couple of Christmas seasons ago, we went around Lexington to take Christmasy pictures together.  She insisted on hiding her face in each one..just for fun.

Where is Julianne?

Where is Julianne?

Where is Julianne?

Always a master of disguise, she is happy to hide herself in plain site.

Aha!!!

Hidden in plain site….

It is absolutely fun being with these sweet, fun-loving, sometimes downright goofy gal!!  Love her to death (and life)!!  Life with her is Happyville!

One Man’s Theory: A Stark will be on the Iron Throne, but not the one you think

WARNING:  MAJOR SPOILERS TO FOLLOW.  READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

Daenerys Targaryen lost a second dragon last week in Game of Thrones and is overwhelmed by the death of her loved advisor Missandei. Jon Snow and his forces face a major challenge getting past Euron Greyjoy’s ballisti, the giant dragon-killing and boat-crushing crossbows.  They are at odds and the end of the Starks may be coming. The Iron Throne is seriously up for grabs.  Can a Stark still pull it off?

The Stark family

If you have seen Game of Thrones Season 8, you know that Arya Stark pulled off a total last second surprise against the Night King, killing all of his Undead Hordes in one stab with a sword.  As well, if you have seen Endgame, you know that Tony Stark, aka Ironman, pulled off a similar last second victory by pulling the Infinity Stones out of Thanos’ guantlet and thus dusting Thanos and his evil hordes.  The last second Starks…

The Starks are last second heroes

Flash to the future several centuries, where Stark ancestor Tony Stark is working with the Avengers to bring back all of those who were dusted by Thanos in Infinity War.  We learn from Endgame that Tony has figured out how to go back in time to bring back those that were dusted by Thanos. What was not shown in Endgame (to avoid any Game of Thrones spoilers — IRONic that these are both showing at the same time) was that Tony Stark knew his lineage came from the Starks and upon discovering he could go back in time, he used this power, along with the newly acquired Infinity Gauntlet, to actually go back to the time of the battle at King’s Landing and even dropped by the celebration at Winterfell to leave a hint!!

Yes, remember the coffee cup fiasco on Game of Thrones from last week?  Well, if you watched Endgame carefully, you would notice that just before all of the Avengers got onto the time machines to go back, Tony was holding what looks to be the same coffee cup (next time you see Endgame check it out!)  Everyone was so drunk in celebration, that they didn’t notice Tony’s two second appearance to drop the cup in front of Dany!

Dany with the Coffee Cup, left in a flash by Tony Stark on his way to King’s Landing

 Well, as we shall see, the battle for Westeros at King’s Landing will heat up, and, all of a sudden, above the skies there will be a massive circular flash of light unlike anything anyone in Westeros had ever seen.  Both sides were stricken with fear, for out of nowhere, like his ancient ancestor Arya Stark, Tony Stark, as Iron Man, appears and in one flashing swoop destroys Euron’s ballisti, shreds Ser Robert Strong and takes control of the battle at the last moment, capturing and dethroning Cersei.  Then, the man of Iron takes the Iron Throne.

Iron Man on the Iron Throne (artwork by James Zapata)

A Stark is now on the Iron Throne.

Tony Stark is the Stark that will be on the Iron Throne

And though he will face eventual death in the future, while sitting on the Iron Throne after the victory at King’s Landing….Tony Stark says, “I am the Lord of Westeros, the destroyer of Thanos, the King of the Seven Kingdoms…indeed, I am Iron Man, and the Iron Throne is mine.”

Turning 60 – A look back at the celebration

milestoneBack in October I celebrated my 60th birthday (Oct 4, 2016). The celebration actually started before then as all of my children had appeared and a giant party was set up on the Sunday before my birthday (Oct. 2, 2016). It seems like since that Thursday before my birthday party there had been some sort of celebrating and this had been the birthday that continued to give.
bdcake2Last year as I hit my 59th birthday, I decided to try (and did not succeed very well) to express daily gratitude for my blessings. I tried to pick out a theme every day and I did not do very well in this effort as life got very busy. One can never really plan for the future as the day-to-day events of our lives seem to dictate things and sometimes those things are unpredictable.

Despite my failure to succeed in my daily gratitude postings, I was definitely grateful for every day of life that I’d had and continue to be so to this day. But the last three weeks of my life I have been full of joy, sorrow and challenges. As I was originally writing this in late October (school teaching and other things made life way too busy to write), my father Joe Kravetz, who I grew up with, but is not my natural father, was on his deathbed at a hospice in Texas. My

Joe Kravetz as he was in the 1950s. Also in this photo is his gravemarker. He was buried in the Dallas-Ft. Worth National Cemetery.

sister Sherry stridently took care of him. He was not able to eat or drink and all was being done to keep him comfortable.  As I originally wrote this on October 25, he was still clinging to life after 12 days in hospice care without food or water. Somehow he kept hanging on.  However, on the next day, October 26, 2016, Joe Kravetz finally succumbed and passed away. (I will have a different post just about him at a later time).

Another one of my friends had a very serious motorcycle accident and it could’ve killed him. He has had to go through a number of surgeries and facial reconstruction. But he seems to be recovering by all indications (thank you Facebook). I saw a video of him today and he is able to walk again, but with assistance.  The accident appears to have been devastating. Fortunately, as I write this in December, he is back home and is already beginning to walk again.
These things break my heart and had been the downside of what had otherwise been an amazing three weeks.
So, the birthday shindig really started on September 29. Julianne decided to take a half-day off to help prepare for my Sunday birthday party with Marissa and Chelsea, my two daughters that live here in Lexington. Chelsea was supposed to pick Julianne up at the University and the car showed up to pick her up. As she walked out to the car, Marissa was there as well, with a video camera running live as the driver of Chelsea’s car was not Chelsea, but was our daughter Amaree who had surprisingly flown in from Washington State to surprise us!! Marissa caught it all on video and it was precious.

Flamingle!!

They then proceeded to come over to meet me because I was supposed to go to lunch with them, but I was tied up on some projects for my Japanese class that I was teaching at the University of Kentucky. So I went down to give Julianne the debit card so she could go to lunch with Chelsea and Marissa. I was expecting them to come in Marissa’s van and so as Marissa pulled up she got out of the van and had her iPhone in hand as if she was trying to video me and I didn’t think much of it because she does that a lot.

Got to hang with grandson Benson from Washington.

Turned out that Chelsea’s car was in front of the van.  I saw Julianne sitting in the passenger seat, so I walked over to give her the card and waved at who I thought was Chelsea and then started to walk away. Then I heard “hi daddy.” This was not Chelsea’s voice and it was a voice that I knew well. I peaked back in and did a double take!! There in the driver’s seat was my oldest daughter Amaree! My grandson Benson was also in the car. I was happily stunned!

At that point, I felt bad that I was not going to be able to join them for lunch but I really had work that had to be done. So off they went.  Needless to say, I was excited that my daughter Amaree would take the time to come out to Kentucky to celebrate my 60th birthday. She had flown in the night before and stayed at Chelsea’s house.
So that night, she came over and stayed with us. It was so wonderful to be able to spend time with her and to sit with my grandson Benson and read some books to him. Marissa also came over and they started making preparations for my birthday party which had been named ironically “Flamingle.”

The Chipotle Gang when we picked up our catered meals

This was not going to be a surprise party as we kind of expected to have some sort of celebration. For the previous three months Julianne and I had been going to Chipotle Mexican Grill for meals about 11 times a month so that we could land ourselves free catering for 20 in their summer 2016 Chiptopia promotion. Both of us succeeded at this and so we knew that we would be catered for 40 people with food from Chipotle Mexican Grill.

I also knew that the date of the party was going to be October 2 but I had no idea what else was going to go on.

Setting up flamingos

They had been secretly planning a number of things and with the theme being around flamingos there were flamingo things going on. Marissa had printed out dozens and dozens of photographs of me that she had painstakingly gleaned from Facebook. I don’t know why she couldn’t have just come and taken them off of my hard drive, but that’s OK. All of these pictures were pasted all over a couple of walls in the house and they covered all the way back from my early years of life to my 60th year. It was a fun gesture and also fun to look back on my life in these snapshots.

Flamingos everywhere

Julianne had picked up some plywood and had made some 5 foot tall flamingos which were painted pink and then had the word “Flamingle” painted on them along with an arrow pointing in the direction of the house. These would be directional signs to the house.

On that Friday evening as I read books to the kids, they were busily engaged in working in all of these projects. I was getting excited for the fun that would ensue and had heartfelt gratitude for the love and effort they had in this celebration of my life.

Reading books to the Grandkidz

Hanging with daughter Amaree who came from Washington to surprise me

As there were things that still needed to be done on Saturday morning, and as everyone was all busily engaged, I decided I would go out and run the errands for them to pick up things such as marshmallows and other stuff that they had planned for the party. Our granddaughter Autumn was to be picked up as well, so I headed over to get her. While I was out, Amaree called and kept asking when my ETA was to return home and I said I’m still tied up on picking up things. She said that I should just pick up Autumn and come home and that she would go run the errands with me. So I did that and I got home and dropped Autumn off in the driveway. I told her to send Amaree out.

While waiting in the driveway for Amaree, she called me and said “come in the house Daddy. We have some breakfast and then we’ll go.” So I went in and they had made a nice breakfast of eggs in the nest using pastry rather than bread. It was a nice breakfast.

Seth snuck into our hot tub and surprised us.

While eating, Amaree said “Look! I just got a funny Facebook message from Seth!” She then proceeded to show Julianne and me a photo of our son Seth sitting in our hot tub. Naturally, we thought this was an old picture of Seth being used as a surprise, but on a closer look we realized that Seth was ACTUALLY sitting in our hot tub at that particular point in time and Julianne went running out to the deck and look down and kind of yelled a little scream of delight and her funny laugh. I too was pleasantly surprised. Seth apparently rented a vehicle and parked down the street and then walked quietly around in and snuck into the hot tub. He told us that he had been transported via hot tub to get to our house. Ha ha!!

One of two Photo Walls set up b the kids. What fun these were!

So, at this point, two of my children had come from out of town. Seth had come up from Houston. He spent some time with us in the morning and then said he had to go to Georgetown to spend some time with his in-laws, but that he would return to our house later on. Because he had hotel points, he was staying in a hotel rather than at our house.

We proceeded to get all of the other things ready for the party and it was another late evening on Saturday. Around 9 PM I was asking if Seth was coming back as I thought he was and I was just excited to talk to my son.
He had been out shopping and purchased a giant beef brisket to put on the grill for the birthday dinner on Monday evening.
So, Seth finally did show up around 9 o’clock PM and we sat and talked and just had a nice little time. I had really thought maybe Solomon would walk in with him, but I was disappointed that my other son from Colorado Springs did not happen to be there with us.

Hanging with the boys…Seth and Solomon, both of whom showed up to surprise me (and Julianne!)

But, lo and behold, about 15 minutes later, we hear our front door open and peek over and Solomon walks in the door. Everybody gasped and was excited. Of course, my daughters all knew but Julianne and I did not.

For the first time in four years all of my children were together with with us and this was such a joy.
So, Solomon and Seth returned to the hotel later that evening after we sat and talked and had a few snacks and then we prepared ourselves for the big event on Sunday.
Since this was LDS General Conference Sunday for our church, there was no church at the building and the girls all listened to General Conference while they prepped for the ensuing party.
We had a lot of errands to run and ultimately I had to go to Chipotle and pick up all of our catered food. They were expecting us obviously because we had been telling them what we were going to do. It was fun. We got all of the goods and I took a big group picture with all the Chipotle gang that were there. I then headed back home with all the food as they set up everything else in the house.

Next door neighbor Mike LeMaster taking a selfie at the party

The time finally came in the late afternoon when the party was to begin. People began to trickle in little by little including our neighbors Mike and Lauren and Steve and Chris. Steve had worked really hard to help in our yard cleaning up the yard and is an amazing neighbor.

The first person to actually arrive was my old boss from iHigh, Tim Campbell. That was an amazing surprise to me. It was nice to see him and have a nice chat with him. I do some work for him and his new business lately,  but I haven’t actually visited with him for a long time.

Julianne in her self designed flamingo shirt

There were many friends from church that showed up and Stacey Edwards, who I worked with at BrainBox the last couple of years also came by. She was always like a little sister to me and I really always enjoyed working with her.

Birthday Cake with sixty little plastic flamingos. CLASSIC!!

At the party, we had all that food.  And Amaree had made four cakes and Chelsea had also made a chocolate Flan cake. So we had five cakes and lots of other goodies at the party. Of course the main cake of interest was the German chocolate cake with the amazing homemade German chocolate coconut frosting that Amaree made.

They finally got around to having me come over and sit by the German Chocolate Cake.  It had been decorated with 60 little flamingo toothpicks and then a six and a zero candle that was lit up. Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” and I blew out the candles.
I was next presented with some gifts. This was where the real shock took place. Julianne had quizzed me and had known for quite a while that my Nikon camera had broken and also kept questioning me as to whether or not I wanted a bicycle. I thought maybe they would come up with one of those things for my birthday, but really had no idea….

Picking up the bike on October 14

What really happened was the shocker. Marissa had gone to the point of group funding and had raised enough to get me a camera. I was able to get a new Nikon D5200 with a gift card that they had provided me for money raised for many of my family and friends. The other big stone to me was that my friend Russ Graves, from high school in Murray, UT had gotten together with some of the others that I went to church with in Murray in the 1970s. They all collected money and had purchased me a brand-new bicycle! It had been ordered and arrived on October 14..

Brand new Birthday Camera – a Nikon D5200.

A few neighbors and others had brought a few other little gifts and the kids had given me a big old box that had a bicycle bell and a couple of other bike things in it. It was really an amazing and fun birthday for me and just the event and love itself and made this the best birthday for me in all of my 60 years.

All in the Family…family photo on my 60th Birthday (L-R: Marissa, Solomon, Chelsea, David, Julianne, Seth and Amaree)

My fun family!

But alas, after Sunday was over it was back to work at University of Kentucky for me on Monday. Julianne was able to take some time off so she could spend time with Amaree. But, we did take time in the morning and went to the Lexington Arboretum to take some family pictures of the five children and of the five children with us, etc. That was a joyous time to be able to be with her children and get some wonderful photos with them after four years of not being together.

My sweet wife smiles with me on my 60th birthdaycelebration

So, part two of all of the birthday celebration was my taking the gift card and searching to find a replacement for my Nikon D 40. I had been brokenhearted because I had not had a camera for almost a month other than my iPhone, which takes great pictures, but still having my Nikon with my telephoto lens was always a wonderful thing. And, I enjoy going to the lake and taking pictures.

Ready to get some photos with my new D5200

I ultimately found the D5200 on Amazon.com and ordered it and received notification that it would arrive probably on that Friday. But it actually arrived two days later and I was so excited to have a new camera to be able to take it out on Friday morning and go to the lake and take some pictures. Those that know me also know that I am very fond of bird photos, especially blue herons. Following are a couple of photos taken with my new Nikon in October.

Photo of me with my new camera courtesy of fellow photographer Earlane Cox

A rare shot of the elusive Bald Eagle of Jacobson Lake. Taken with a zoom in bright light, I had to manipulate it a bit. It was my first sighting of this beauty.

A blue heron landing. Once again, I used some software to highlight the beauty of this bird

In mid-October there were egrets visiting the lake. I got this shot of one of them. Very happy

Finally, an interesting shot of a blue heron chasing an egret

Taking Solomon to the Cincinnati Airport

During the time family was in town, we had family dinners on Monday and Tuesday evening until Amaree left on Wednesday and Seth left on Tuesday evening. Solomon hung around until Friday so I took him to the airport on Friday morning.

Despite the children all gone by this time, the gifts keep on giving. Later in October I went with Julianne and Marissa to SW Virginia where we were to meet Julianne’s sister Laura and her daughter Emma. They were going to ride the Virginia Creeper Bike Trail.

Heading up the trail. Notice I had my Nikon around my neck as well.

Just in case, we took my bike as well.  I had only ridden it about a mile or two previously, and we weren’t sure if I would be able to.  But ultimately, while waiting for them down the hill from the start, I decided to give it a try and rode UPHILL for nearly 3 miles to meet them on the trail and then come back down the hill with them. It was fun to see the surprised look on Julianne’s face when she saw me sitting at a table waiting for them!

The biking gang somewhere on the Virginia Creeper Trail. My first REAL bike ride.

Not only did I use the bike, but also my new Nikon as I took photos along the way. It was a lovely time of year.

It has been more than two months since my birthday and I still have man fond memories. My life is filled with joy and there are the many precious moments I have had in this 60 years.  And it just keeps going.  Watch my blogs for more photos and more bike stories…and more grandkidz selfies and family stories.  Life is Awesome but its getting better.

Powerball Frenzy: Dopamine Dreaming

Powerball3Today is the big day!  Yes, the record breaking $1.5 billion Powerball drawing will take place later tonight and somebody’s life will dramatically change.

Just a day after President Obama’s final State of the Union address, the real talk on the web and in social media will likely be this humongous lottery jackpot.  And for me, I am actually excited to get away from Obama bashing, Trump tirades, racial hatred, political memes and yes, the millions of cat and dog photos on Facebook.

powerball-logoMind you, I am not typically a Powerball ticket purchaser.  Not even occasionally such.  But, there are times when I give in and spend a specific budgeted amount to get a couple of them.  Why? For the entertainment value – the opportunity to let my dopamine kick in and do a little dreaming.  Don’t we do that when we spend $14/person to go see a Star Wars movie in 3D?  The joy of the “What if” is pleasurable and gets my mind, if only for a brief few days, off of all of the other banter from Social Media and the news.

KYLotteryTo be sure, I am fully aware that my true chances of taking home the $1.5 billion ($900 million cash upfront minus taxes — maybe about $500 million) is next to not even being slimmly nil.  The odds of getting all six numbers correct, which never change, are slightly more than 292.2 million to 1 (in other words, there are 292.2 million possible combinations of the five white balls and red Powerball. That’s where the one in 292.2 million odds comes from, and they stay the same regardless of how big the jackpot grows or how many people buy tickets).  Let’s face it, our finite minds cannot really fathom numbers in the millions.  So, here are some other things that I may actually have a better chance at than winning the Powerball jackpot….

Here are 10 things more likely to happen to people than winning the lottery.

Getting struck by lightning in any given year: 1 in 1,190,000, according to the National Weather Service.

Dying after being bitten or struck by a dog: 1 in 103,798, according to the National Safety Council.

Hitting a hole in one for an amateur golfer: 1 in 12,500, according to Golf Digest.

Being attacked by a shark: 1 in 11.5 million, according to the International Shark Attack File.

Being fatally struck by an asteroid or comet falling to Earth: 1 in 75,000, according to a Tulane University study.

Being dealt a royal flush in poker: 1 in 649,740, according to Central Washington University.

A woman giving birth to twins: 33.3 in 1,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and 

Dying of a bee, wasp or hornet sting: 1 in 75,852, according to the National Safety Council.

Dying in a plane crash: 1 in 8 million, according to OSHA.

Living to 100 years old in the United States: 1.73 in 10,000, according to the 2010 Census Special Report.

IMG_7132In fact, there is another item that many participate in that has worse odds. Your odds of finishing with a perfect NCAA men’s tournament bracket.Basically, according to some, you have a 1 in 1,610,543,269 chance of calling every game right. A professor at DePaul University has done a different calculation…he says the odds are:

1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808

There are 63 total games in a tournament bracket. For each of those games, two teams play, and one team wins. So, filling out a bracket consists of picking 63 winners. So, you have two options for the first game, two options for the second game, two options for the third game, and so on, for all 63 games. To get the total number of possible ways to fill out a bracket, you multiply together all 63 of these twos, giving us 263, or 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible brackets. If all of these brackets are equally likely — if each game in the entire tournament is a 50-50 tossup, and picking the winner is basically a coin flip — we then get the odds of a correct bracket at one in 9.2 quintillion. HA!

WHAT IS THE DOPAMINE THING?

powerball-lottery-winners-1A recent article in the San Jose Mercury News focused on how the lottery can kick dopamine into gear. According to the article:

“It’s the brain chemical associated with reward, pleasure and addiction. And it’s digging into pockets at a maddening pace this week when the California lottery expects to sell $60 million in Powerball tickets — 10 times what it sells on a typical week.

Thanks a lot, dopamine. Whether the jackpot is $9 million or $900million, the odds of winning are stuck at a buzzkilling one in 292 million.”

With $1.5 billion up for grabs, it doesn’t take a neuroscientist to explain how people may be ignoring probability this week because of the way the brain processes risk and reward.

“In the brain stem of a gambler, dopamine neurons are firing very high, pushing them to put out the money, to go and buy the ticket,” said a professor of neurology at UC San Francisco.

IMG_6654I too feel that dopamine rush as I dream of the “What If” options. I consider the entire process…signing the ticket, getting a safe deposit box, getting lawyers and a financial team.  I think about how to allocate the money.  What charities will I be able to pass some on to?  Which family members?

Then comes the fun part…how would I spend the money?  Would we buy a big compound in the mountains and add solar and wind energy?  Would we take a year long cruise? How would we tell our children and what would we do for them?

IMG_6541And to me, the pleasure lasts longer than a Star Wars movie and costs less.  It is fun to have the occasional dopamine dreams. Reality tells me that I don’t have a chance whatsoever.  But, I have a better chance if I buy a ticket. If I don’t buy a ticket, I most certainly won’t win.  But only this time.  I am participating in history!

Money, Money, Money…ain’t it funny, in a rich man’s world.  I am running down a dream and, as Aerosmith sings… Dream On!

But only this time….