The Nature of Love

July 3, 2006

So, all of Saturday and most of Sunday I spent sick, in bed, feeling miserable. At times I ran a decent temperature as well, which while I don’t enjoy being sick the fever-induced dreams are always fun. Kind of like a 3-D, full sensory movie that I get to direct.

… but I digress.

What I was going to put forward here is a thought that kind of bubbled up over the weekend and is still peeking in and out of the dark crevasses in my head. It has to do with love.

I’m not referring to the ‘love at first sight’ passionate type but more of the father for child, neighbor for neighbor, friend for friend type of love. I noticed that, from my experience, when you have love for your fellow human being you are willing to sacrifice and do things for that person that you probably wouldn’t do for a complete stranger.

Is the reverse true then? Does everyone create a feeling of love by doing things for people they don’t know very well? It is a common enough theme in the movies; bad kid has to do community service and comes to care for those he’s working to help. Is that true? Does it have to be voluntary or does it work with involuntary service?

I don’t know the answers here. I do know that I am closer to those I serve, but I serve voluntarily and it may just be that is my nature. I loved my son since the moment I saw him and it didn’t take time and service to get that way so obviously there are exceptions.

Anyway, that is something to think about. Time for bed.

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One of my favorite rants is about the fact that one of my favorite restaurants, Le Parisien, closed its doors five years or so ago. I miss it.

Three of my friends’ daughters recently took a trip to Europe on a school sponsored expedition, which included Paris, France. One of the girls commented that people were eating snails with a shudder.

Now, I love escargot. It is wonderfully yummy and the only place in Salt Lake City that I know of that ever served it was the aforementioned Le Parisien. Her dad asked if I knew of any other place around that served it (none that I know of) and then dropped the bombshell that he’d read Max Mercier’s obituary in the paper.

I still haven’t come to grips with this yet. I literally have known Max all of my life. My dad is the same age as Max and my dad worked downtown from the mid 1960s until he closed the door to his recording studio a couple of years ago. When I was eight or nine months old, my dad likes to tell of taking me with them to dinner at Le Parisien and letting me gum the dressing off of the lettuce leaves. We lived in the south end of the valley but we’d take the drive on occasion to have dinner downtown – the waiters knew our names, treated my parents as friends and made us feel like it was our place too.

My favorite dish at Le Parisien was the Boeuf Bourguignon. Delicious and wonderful, the few dates that I had in high school ended up there if I really liked the person. It wasn’t expensive but it was oooooh so good.

Dad knew the menu and the daily specials – he’d plan his lunch around them. I’m not sure which day it was, but they served an Eggs Benedict which was quite good and he’d have it each week. When Utah passed some restrictive liquor laws Max added on a private club so Dad could have a beer or a glass of wine with dinner and not have to smuggle it in.

The tables were wood, dark stained, covered with red and white checkered table cloths. Each table also had a bottle filled with colored sugar crystals that as kids we delighted in pouring a few out and licking a finger to pick them up and let them dissolve.

Oh, and the bread! Wonderful hot bread, served with foil wrapped servings of real butter. The bread had a thick, crunchy crust and we always made sure to save a piece to sop up the extras from dinner ’cause they were yummy.

I’ve missed Le Parisien and Max Mercier – when Le Parisien closed I didn’t have much opportunity to run into him. My dad knew him more socially but for me he was like a special, favorite uncle that made wonderful food.

Good bye, Max.

Growing up, whenever we’d visit Park City, Utah, we made a point to stop and have pizza at the Red Banjo Pizza Parlor. We had to eat there at least once; preferably more. They served a wonderful soda mixture of Orange, Root Beer, Sprite and I think Coca Cola – the menu called that wonderful concoction a ‘Suicide’. We found that the Red Banjo Pizza Parlor in Park City served it, along with wonderful pizza (with a lemon wedge on top), a vintage jukebox and a dark and dreary, almost dismal, atmosphere.

It wasn’t unclean, but it had very high ceilings as vintage building do and the retrofitted electric lights didn’t have the umph to illuminate every nook and cranny. There was a long bar on one side of the room with a cash register dating back long before electricity gave the world something else to worry about. Along the wall behind the bar were various bottles, some labeled, some in use, with a mirror running the length of the wall. At the end of the bar was a doorway into the kitchen and if you walked around the wall back into the dining room you could look through the large picture window and try to figure out which pizza was going to be yours.

Over the years, the Red Banjo opened up the downstairs as an arcade to draw in the kids (and their parents) which seemed to work for a while. I remember that there was usually two people working – a waitress and a cook and we’d never see the cook. The waitress was always bustling about though.

This was before Park City became the popular winter and summer destination for the Hollywood flora and fauna. It was becoming famous as a ski resort though and we thought that the 26$US price for an all day lift ticket was outrageous! My parents owned part of an apartment at the top of Main Street and the different owners traded off who was staying there. At least once each winter and usually more we’d spend a week there, skiing and getting into trouble roaming the halls. When I stopped skiing lift tickets at Park City were up to 50$US or so and I’m sure the price went up from there.

Alas, time changes everything. We visited the Red Banjo Pizza Parlor recently on a vacation to Park City and it was still there! The pizza was fine, but the salad dressing isn’t the same (but close) and they no longer serve Suicides. The two kids running the restaurant were ready to go out to play so they closed the place down early, turning away customers. The jukebox now plays CD albums or single tracks and lists many of the more recent titles. It just wasn’t quite the same though – the lights were too bright, the waitress too bored.

On the plus side, while David and I were finding something on the Jukebox we played a Queen song, a Jack Johnson song from the Curious George soundtrack and a Grateful Dead track! David saw the cover with the skeleton and had to play at least one song.

It was a pleasant evening, but I don’t think we will be going back as an ongoing tradition. I will always be comparing it to my memories and as it wanes I’d prefer to remember it in the glory in my head. I’m not imagining its decline though; the missus and I would go for pizza when we were first married and she thought it wasn’t “quite right” either.

*nudge* *nudge*

June 26, 2006

Well, Bill reminded me that I haven’t posted in over a month. Sorry about that.

We went on a camping trip to Payson Lakes which was cold and then got snowed on. The missus didn’t much care for that and didn’t care for the boy getting all muddy and wet so we packed up a day early and went home. I found out later from some friends that stayed that it was rather… cold… that night.

Anyway, on top of that, we went on vacation, the boy and the missus went to Oregon for a weekend, a family reunion and relatives vacationing here from Texas… I haven’t posted much.

I’ve thought about you all though – I’ve got to figure out a way to post with the Pocket PC offline and upload them later that is easy and bulletproof. I have great ideas and comments while I’m out and about but when I get back to the PC I have too much to do to post. I’ve mastered Sudoku as much as the Pocket PC version can give me so I need something else to waste time with.

Someday.

Oh, I also modded my XBox and put XBox Media Center on it. SWEET! Seriously, this turns the XBox from a games platform into an entertainment platform to play music, video, photos, games – whatever you want to do.

So, watch the slideshow above since I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up there and I’ll make an attempt to post on a more regular basis. Perhaps I’ll bore you with the drudgery that is my existence – especially as I enjoy reading so much about all of your lives (except for Bill who is still holding the high ground and won’t blog).

Chow!

The new (digital) campfire

February 8, 2006

So, I bought my reason-for-living a new mobile phone. Her previous phone had, well, issues, and we had replaced the phone on Verizon’s dime three or four times. It wasn’t the best experience for either side, I’m sure.

Having gone the route with Verizon where they will replace the faulty phone with the design that leads to failure with THE EXACT SAME PHONE, I was looking for a different way to buy a phone with some confidence that the vendor would provide some value. Being a very long time patron of our local Costco (I’ve been going there since 1982 and had a card of my own since 1984) I stopped by the in-store kiosk to ask some questions.

Sweet. Costco offers to refund the cost of the phone, even if I don’t like it anymore, for the life of the phone. Far better than the 15 days offered by Verizon. Even better, Costco only sells phones with a low return rate… so, I splurged. I got her the LG VX 8100 phone, which satisfies the geek in me and it feels good and you can set an alarm which satisfies most of her concerns.

Fast forward a week or so and I’ve just got a MiniSD card, since the phone has a MiniSD card slot. A bit of experimentation with some free software called SUPER (Simplified Universal Player Encoder and Renderer at http://www.erightsoft.com/SUPER.html) and I had a couple of episodes of The Muppet Show and an album of MP3s on her phone.

So where does the digital campfire come in?

I’m trying to get the boy ready for bed, but he is … reluctant. So, I pull out the missus’ phone and show him the Danny Kaye episode of The Muppet Show and he is hooked. I curl around so I can watch over his shoulder and we veg out to Miss Piggy and Kermie. After a few minutes, I realize that the missus is behind me also watching. So, we all are watching a TV show that we could have watched on the TV across the room but instead are watching on a little, tiny screen at a horrible resolution.

And we loved it.

Web Sudoku is a logic game (follow the link for the rules) that I started playing while waiting for my mum to get out of surgery yesterday. I have now played a total of six an unknown number of games…

sudoku best 2005-08-25
(updated at 2:30 A.M. 3:15 A.M. since I switched to Medium Hard Evil level and have a new personal best)

Now that I’ve got the hang of the rules, it is getting easier. Kind of like Minesweeper where you set up rules and do what you can, then re-evaluate the ones that you couldn’t do before. My best times on Minesweeper were around 150 seconds on the expert level…

On a side note, do you know how cool it is that St. Mark’s Hospital has free wireless internet throughout the hospital? Not only could I distract myself while waiting (after reading the National Geographic) but today mom can read and write email and surf to take up time while recuperating.

Now, to be perfect, they need more power outlets…

Update: I just set a new personal best on the Evil level. 6 minutes 33 seconds. Sweet!

Update 10/16/2005: I just beat my previous best time! 4 minutes 29 seconds. I think it is time to do something else for a bit.

Wendell’s ordination

September 26, 2004

Doran, Wendell, Brenda, Warren

Kelly and Brant’s wedding

September 7, 2004

David discovers ‘The Court Jester’ starring Danny Kaye while on the road to Portland.

Learning The Lessons of Nixon » Free set of steak knives

Oh, I’m going to remember this one! I’m still giggling – mind you, I’ll have to remember not to use it on a person that I still want to talk to me in the future, with the possible exception of my brother (who wouldn’t make the offer anyway). He’d just laugh and zing me back later…

My son rode the school bus yesterday for the first time. By himself.

Now, I know that many millions of kids ride the bus every day. It shouldn’t be a big deal.

But, it is. He is only three and I could tell that he was a little nervous – but he said goodbye and climbed up. The driver made sure he was in his seat and I waved as they drove away, all choked up.

He was fine, had the time of his life. Me, I’m going to try to make this one more milestone on the path of his life. Still…

[Update Thursday, January 22, 2004]
Now he’s an old pro at riding the bus. Gets on, gets off all by himself and today he even did the seatbelt by himself.

Last Thursday, however, when he got home he was covered in blood. Seems he was looking out the window on the way home with his face pressed up against the glass when the driver hit a pothole. His nose bonked the glass and gave him a bleeder. No real damage, just scared him a bit.