Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dear Papa Jon

Dear Papa Jon,

Today is Father's Day, and I miss you. This is the fourth year you haven't physically been here to celebrate with us. It's still strange to me. I know where you are, but that isn't here with us. Yes, it's comforting to know you're in a better place without the pain and suffering you endured all too well for 14 years. No, it isn't easy to say, “Happy Father's Day,” to a slab of granite. Stone is so cold. It doesn't fit you. You were always so warm, so kind, so gentle to us. Stone just doesn't seem to be the way to memorialize you. Maybe next year I'll dig a spot for a tomato plant on top of your plot. I'm sure the cemetery people would love that! I think I'll still give it a try.

Ty refers to Mom as Mama Linda. I wish he could get to know Papa Jon, as well. I'm sure he knew you before he came to us. I'm sure he'll remember you when we meet again. I'll do my best to teach him the things you taught me because you taught be a lot, and you taught me well. Even if I acted like I wasn't listening, I was. When you didn't think I was watching, I was. When you didn't think I was learning from you, I was. You were everything everyone thinks you were. You were a friend to everyone. You were a gentleman. You were a hard worker. You were creative. You were loving. You were fun. You were a Boy Scout. You were a disciple of Christ. You were a great dad. I hope I can be all of those things, and I hope Tyler will become them too.

This evening we enjoyed Father's Day the way you probably would have preferred. We sat on the front lawn and talked. Mark and I tossed a frisbee and kicked a soccer ball. Tyler tried to humorously join in both of those activities. He's getting better. He also picked some of Mom's flowers right out of the garden and took them to her and Megan. The clumps of dirt still hung from the roots as he handed them to his grandma and mom. I could almost hear your unmistakeable laugh as he did so. I know you'd get a kick out of watching your grandkids grow up. I'm sure you are still enjoying it from your perch in heaven.

Thanks for being there for me, Dad. I love you. I miss you every day. I'm trying to be the man, the dad and the son you'd want me to be. I still want you to be proud. I want you to have a legacy that is passed from generation to generation. I know you wouldn't have asked for a legacy. You would just want me to be the best I can be. And that's what I'm trying to do. It's what you did, even as your physical abilities changed. You were always trying to be your best. Thanks for never giving up – not on me and not on yourself. Your example showed me how to get through some of the roughest spots of my life, and I'm better for having overcome them. You helped me see the light when I refused to recognize it was there. You helped me walk the path that would show me true hope and help me find true love.

Maybe I'm making you out to have been perfect. Maybe that's what I choose to remember. As I look back, you were perfectly what I needed. Thanks, Dad. Happy Father's Day!



Friday, January 29, 2010

"Good if It Goes" Is Gone

Tonight the Utah Jazz honored Hot Rod Hundley for his 35 years of calling the Jazz games. At least, they told everyone they were honoring Hot Rod Hundley.

With all due respect to Greg Miller, I don't think Larry would have waited half a season after Hot Rod's retirement to honor him. I sure don't believe he would have had him honored on a night the Jazz played Sacramento. I think the Lakers' last championship rings were bigger than the crystal plate the Jazz gave Hot Rod. The video piece with some of Hot Rod's peers and great plays had too few great plays and not enough members of the sports commentating community. The pre-production quality was lacking. The in-game production was sad. And the only players you could round up to come and thank Hot Rod were locals? Did the players not like him? What am I missing here? Greg, did you not remember that tonight was a big night? You showed up in a 1/4 zip sweater - not even a tie. You are not Mark Cuban. And he would have done a better job. Just like Kobe did a better job after beating the Jazz to end last season when none of the Jazz players so much as gave Hot Rod a smile.

Maybe I just expect too much out of my team and the rest of the organization.

Hot Rod, I can't change your official ceremony, so this will have to do.

I loved listening to your games for most of your 35 years. I'm only 29, so I missed out a few years at the beginning! I remember my dad tuning in on the radio to listen to the games before many were broadcast on television. He also took me for rides in the car (I'm sure he told my mom he was running errands of great importance) to listen to the games. I didn't know it was weird to turn the television volume down and the radio's up when my team was playing on national television. We always did that.

When our family moved to Las Vegas, I made a shot playing ball on the playground and called out running back down the court, "With a gentle push and mild arc, the cowhide globe hits home." I think the whole playground came to a stop. Some white bread kid from Utah shows up on the first day of school and trash talks about cowhide? It might have seemed weird to everyone, but basketball wasn't basketball to me without Hot Rod Hundley. For four years I was treated to the sounds of Hot Rod's friend, Chick Hearn, as he called the Laker games I had to endure just to get a basketball fix in a town dominated by a corrupt (but fun to watch) UNLV basketball team.

My family later moved back to Utah, and I once again was blessed to hear the soothing southern tones of Hot Rod's voice calling out assist after assist from Stockton to Malone. Once again I got made fun of on the playground for calling my own plays. Now I would do it before the play was over, and that usually meant I didn't accomplish the feat I had set out to. Amazingly, dribbling the ball down the lane and saying, "fakes left, dribbles right," didn't open the door on my right to head toward the hoop. It took me a while to figure out why my 'faking left' wasn't working.

In junior high school I listened as John Stockton became the all-time assist leader. In high school I listened as the greatest point guard ever broke the all-time steals record. In college I studied broadcasting to have the chance to imitate you more than just on the playground.

Hot Rod, you were more than the voice of the Utah Jazz to me. You're the voice that narrates my life's story. You not being there is still hard to swallow. I'll bet it is for you, too. But basketball is just a game. And while life's roller coaster rolls on, I will forever hear you screaming, "You gotta love it, baby!"

Thanks, Hot Rod.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

With Challenge Comes Opportunity

"These are the times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman." -Abigail Adams

• Thanks to Wes and Rachael for this quote from their blog.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Does the News Lie?

A site I frequent for some of my tech news published an article yesterday about the "news" knowingly lying about science. You can read John Timmer's article here. This came on the heels of a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism that print journalists are more likely than other sources of news to publish a story with new news. At the same time, the study showed that broadcast entities were more likely to produce more news content.

Ironically, how many times does your local or national newscaster say, "This morning the Acme News reported..."? While they produce more content, they get much of it from the newspapers doing the research. But if Timmer is right, the newspapers get stuff intentionally wrong which then leads the broadcasters to get it wrong, too.

Let's just take a moment to remember how important it is to check a variety of news sources when we form our opinions. Your opinion on politics, science, sports, education and the environment may finally have a solid base if you pay attention to more than just one specific newspaper or news broadcast each day. Mix it up. For you in Utah, listen to KUER in the morning when you head to work. On the way home, switch it over to KSL. They're different animals. You probably find one of them more cuddly than the other, but you can't know the whole story when you only get one side. Feel free to watch Fox News for a bit tonight. But grab a few stories from CNN, as well. Both are right, and both are wrong. Both have facts, and both will skew them and skewer them.

Like my mom used to explain when my little sisters and I would fight as kids, the truth is always somewhere in the middle.