The Upside of Being Without Your iPhone

IPhone_5CThere was an upside of having my car and iPhone stolen last week just before a business trip.

My car, laptop and suitcase were quickly recovered, but my iPhone, which was in the front seat, was gone – most likely to be resold or chucked into the river. That was last Sunday night and it was not until later on Tuesday that I was full restored to the standard of the world. That means a I bravely continued with my planned travel, worked and lived without my iPhone for nearly 48 hours! That means, I made it to East Tennessee and back without a map (Lewis and Clark would be so proud), without texting, without placing a call, without picking up my iPhone every five miles to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.

Miraculously, I lived and realized a few things:

1. My anxiousness gave way to thankfulness - I would have normally felt out of touch while the fires of work spun out of control. I would have normally been dying to know what was transpiring and been anxious about not being able to know. Then I realized I had received a gift. I realized just how dependent I have become on this little box, roughly the size of a cigarette pack (cigarettes, it turns out, arent good for you either). When I saw my car drive off without me in it, many things occurred to me:

  • STOP!!!!!
  • What if they (there was 2 of them) hurt or kill someone?
  • They’ll trash my car…right?
  • They’ll crash my car…right?
  • What if my kids had been in the car?

This gave me some perspective. While I was pissed, I was thankful that – all things being equal – the damage done was minimal. In fact, the phone being taken from the car may have been a blessing. 

2. I noticed what was around me – East Tennessee is mountainous and very nice to look at all times of year, but it looks really awesome in the Fall. I noticed it, like I would have noticed it making the same drive 15 years ago without a cell phone to distract me. Also, the sunset was spectacular. I should have taken a picture…..but no phone means no camera. I guess it will have to stand in my mind as a glimpse of the world between me and God. I’ll take that. I’ll take more of that.

3. I cleared my head - No phone meant minimal distractions. It was just me, the road and the radio. I gave thought to what my priorities should be, how I should best spend the rest of my time, and other things that I needed to pay attention to in my life.

In the end, I was able to communicate with my wife via email and chat functions though the laptop from the hotel or whenever I pulled over. By late Tuesday morning, I was back online, but I am strangely nostalgic for the recent days of no phone.

Man, I miss those days.

My Dad and Baseball

My introduction to major league baseball.

My dad wasn’t a sportsman.

  • We lived on a farm, but he didn’t hunt, fish, or camp.
  • I don’t recall every seeing him on a boat, much less a canoe.
  • He didn’t shoot hoops in the back yard, throw a football or kick a soccer ball.
  • He didn’t care about race cars, horse races or track meets.
  • He didn’t swim, run or hike.
  • He spent plenty of time in bars, but he didn’t throw darts, play pool or cards.

Interestingly, we did share interest in one sport: baseball.

In 1981, our family took a trip to St. Louis. I remember going to the Zoo, botanical garden, science museum, a brewery tour and the Arch.  We happened to be in town on opening day for baseball and on April 11, we found ourselves in the upper deck at a busy Busch Stadium to watch the Cardinals take on the Phillies. The Cardinals lost the game, but I became a life long fan.

Here’s the thing – my dad didn’t even really like baseball. He never played and never encouraged me to play. Despite that, I had a glove and I would entertain myself on the farm by standing on the gravel driveway and kicking the rocks up to make a slight mound. From there, I’d throw tennis balls against a brick wall on the front of our house and field the ball as it bounced back. I’d do it for hours – didn’t have a lot of neighbor kids to throw with on the farm.

I wasn’t in love with baseball, but I kind of liked the idea of baseball.

Over the next few seasons, my dad took me to several games in St. Louis.  Sometimes we’d drive up and back in one day and other times we’d spend the night. We got to see baseball greats like Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Willie McGee, Jack Clark, and Ozzie Smith.  With the exception of Rose, he probably didn’t know the names of any current players, but he knew I knew them and he saw it as way to spend time with me and talk.

Ours was a 4 door and a darker green, but you get the point - big and boxy. It bludgeoned the air, rather than slicing through it like a knife.

Ours was a 4 door and a darker green, but you get the point – big and boxy. It bludgeoned the air, rather than slicing through it like a knife on the highway.

These weren’t especially great years for our family (divorce, bankruptcy, scarce resources) but my dad would gas up the big green Buick and off we’d go to Missouri. It was an escape. We’d pack light, and always have a couple of extra gallons of coolant in the trunk  in case the car overheated. The tires were out of balance and I remember we bounced more than we rolled down the highway. Once out of range of his favorite station, he’s let me choose the music. We would talk and he’d share with me stories from his upbringing and lessons he learned along the way, but mostly he’d just listen to me talk about whatever was on my mind. We needed this time together.

In St. Louis, he liked to stay at a hotel that had, at least to me, a very English feel (never been to England, so I am guessing). I remember it had a old looking bar and old school bar tender. I’d sit there with my dad and he’d get a Beefeater and tonic and I got a Cherry Coke. We ate burgers and I talked the poor bar tender’s ears off about whatever it was I was interested in at the time. He’d give me a little extra cherry syrup in my Coke because I “knew” so much and shared so freely.

The specific memories of the actual games we attended have faded, but I loved this time with my dad and sense of adventure it satisfied. I don’t know why he took a sudden interest in baseball…maybe he saw the opportunity he had before him to spend some time with his son…a summer adventure to the ballpark to take in the national pastime…what boy wouldn’t want that?


Filling In The Blanks



Recently, there was a baby shower in honor our our 8 week old son (he’s already a hit with the ladies). There were many gifts imparted unto the boy, but maybe the best thing he received was a collection of fill-in-the-blank cards called “Wishes for Baby.” They looked like this:

  • I hope you learn to______.
  • I hope you become______.
  • I hope you grow______.

When I read these, I had a couple of thoughts: what a blessing to have people share this with my son and isn’t this really how life should be?

The wishes we wish for people when they’re a baby – or on their birthday, graduation day, wedding day, when they’re terminally ill, going through something incredibly difficult – mean well, but can seem foreign or naive when cast against your current reality. It can feel like these wishes are to be kept in a box and only pulled out for milestones or emergencies.

Maybe another way of saying it is wouldn’t it be refreshing if these were the things we sought daily? I think if we did strive to grow in wisdom, love life and adventure, laugh a lot, and seek God, then all of the other stuff that robs us of our time – negative people, anxiety, fear – would take care of themselves.  

Admittedly, my fill in the blanks a lot of the time look like this:

  • I hope I don’t _____again.
  • I fear_____.
  • I am ______ at work/home.

These cards were a great reminder to me of what is important. After all, how can you argue with:

  • I hope you learn to love.
  • I hope you become the man God wants you to be.
  • I hope you grow old and laugh often.

Reading these cards reminded me (again) that we are more than _______.  The future is unknown, but why can’t it be brighter and better than our current set of circumstances?

Why should we settle for _____, when we can be so much more?

Ten Final Random Adoption Thoughts

There’s a line in The Grateful Dead song “Truckin'” that talks of being strung out on reds, vitamin C and cocaine.

None of that describes me, but I might be a little….just slightly….strung out on food that comes from a box or bag, waffles and caffeine. My hair has reached Chia status. My mind is wandering and my BO is not acceptable. My clothes need to be cleaned with fire and my wallet has been desecrated. I’m tired and awake at the same time. I go to bed later than usual and wake up a lot. Sunrise comes way too early. But that’s life when you’re the parent of a newborn all over again.

Mercifully, we’re back home in Tennessee and here are ten random adoption thoughts that were hatched from the base of the Wasatch Mountains:

Brothers taking a nap.

Brothers don’t shake hands; brothers gotta take naps.

Ten – Number of days we spent in Utah

Nine – In the middle of all of this, my daughter turned 9!

Eight – Songs, for whatever reason, I listened to this past week that struck a chord with me….

  • Hold On, I’m Coming – Sam and Dave
  • Lost in the Supermarket – The Clash
  • Better Things – The Kinks
  • Someday, Someway – Marshall Crenshaw
  • Home – Phillip Phillips
  • Homeward Bound – Simon and Garfunkel
  • Next Year – Foo Fighters
  • Heroes – David Bowie

Seven – “Average” number of cups of coffee I drank each day

Six – Stages of the 2014 Tour De France I watched with Ainsley and Garrett. Incidentally, I also watched the Wimbledon finals and the World Cup semi finals.

Five point seven – This was the birth weight ; 5lbs and 7oz

Four – Number of University of Utah shirts acquired for the family

Three – How many times we changed our flight plans

Two – Our hotel, Home 2 Suites, was great. The staff took great care of us and our needs.

One - July 1, Ladd’s birthday!

A long, strange trip to be certain – but a worthy one.