Reflections on 2015 Bob Seger show at Gila River Arena, Glendale AZ


Feb. 20, 2015 – Had a great time with my wife at the Bob Seger concert last night. Only sat down once, during one of the ballads from his new album. The crowd knew almost every word to every song. No pyrotechnics, no lasers, no lip-syncing. Just perfectly timed and well-rehearsed Old Time Rock n Roll, with a few personal stories.

Seger said in 1980 his mom called him from Hawaii and was so excited because she heard one of his songs being played there, which happened to be her favorite. There were no lyrics, just an orchestra. They played it beautifully. “Where were you, Mom?” Seger asked. In the elevator. The song was ‘We’ve got tonight.”

Thanks for the music and memories, Bob!

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Awesome hike: Hidden Valley in South Mountain Park, Phoenix


Wow! That was, and still is, my reaction to this short detour trail off of National Trail in the South Mountain Park in Phoenix, AZ. Hidden Valley is an awesome tribute to the forces and beauty wpid-wp-1423458166079.jpegof nature.

Hidden Valley trail is aptly name because it’s a trail you can hike only after a 2-plus mile hike in on either National or Mormon trail. As such, the .9-mile segment of the hike labeled Hidden Valley is not overrun with other people. If you don’t see the sign, you can walk right by it and not even know what you missed.

In January 2015, I hiked the entire length of National Trail (approx. 14 miles) and saw nowhere near the natural beauty that awaits hikers on the Hidden Valley segment. Oddly, some of the most magnificent features are within a few hundred feet of National Trail itself.

Here are some of the more notable features from Hidden Valley in South Mountain Park:

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Here is the hike summary via Mapmyhike .

If you go, be sure you have good stable shoes and socks – no flip flops – and a couple quarts of water.

 

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How to shock a fast food server


People who work in fast food pretty much see and hear it all. There is very little you or I say that they haven’t heard before.

Recently, I had an exchange with an African American worker at a nearby McDonald’s that left us both nearly speechless. I had just stopped in to use the free wifi and catch up on emails, so when it was my turn to order, I approached with my customary, “May I please have a small black coffee.”

“There’s that word again,” she replied.

I stood there in stunned silence thinking my use of the word “black” offended her. A checkmate of the eyes ensued for several seconds as I grasped for my next words.

Thankfully, she broke the silence with, “Please. I hardly ever hear that word and it’s so pleasing to the ear when I hear it.”

I explained that my niece who works in fast food recently told me that her biggest pet peave is when people come up to the counter and say “I want….”

Having worked in a number of service roles in the past myself, I try to be pleasant with service workers as a rule. However, my niece’s perspective helped me realize that I need to bring my A game in manners whenever I interact with fast food workers. Plus, I’ve been trying to model better manners for my teen daughters; even though they weren’t with me on this occasion.

I challenge you to give it a try. Next time you’re ordering food from a fast food worker, see if you can shock them by using your best manners. Extra credit: address the person by the name on his or her name tag when you thank them.

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Reflections on 2015 Super Bowl in Arizona


The Super Bowl came to Arizona in January 2015 and so did the world’s spotlight. The game went down as one of the most memorable in history.

Who will ever forget the Seahawks’ decision to pass on second down with the ball on the one yard line and the league’s reputed most powerful runner, Marshawn Lynch, at their disposal? How could anyone forget the interception by Patriots’ rookie Malcolm Butler? Even he looked shocked when the cameras captured his reaction on the sidelines.

There were plenty of memorable plays made on the field and during the halftime show featuring Katy Perry. As a resident of Phoenix, some of my memories of the 2015 Super Bowl experience have more to do with the impact the game had on our city.

I was priced out of the game but I did participate in a couple of the fanfest activities. I made a small slideshow and short video from my fanfest experiences.

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Here are some my lasting impressions of the Super Bowl XLIX experience in Arizona :

  • Glendale mayor Jerry Weiers whined on national tv because his city will likely lose money by hosting the Super Bowl because of the cost of security and police officer overtime.
  • Both teams stayed in hotels less than ten miles from our home. This made for a few exciting moments with team sitings, but also caused some traffic snarls.
  • Pre-game festivities began about a week before the Super Bowl at four key locations, with the primary spot being downtown Phoenix.
  • Reportedly, over a million visitors, many of them celebrities, made their way to Phoenix during Super Bowl week. Thats’ a mind-boggling number considering the stadium holds less than 80,000.
  • According to media sources, tickets in the nosebleed section were selling for $9,000 the week of the game. Our church pastor mocked the price by saying we could offer our kids tickets to the Super Bowl or a car.
  • All the local hotels made bank, with even the cut-rate places charging around $400 a night. From the looks of things, many of the restaurants made out pretty well too.
  • Game day weather was pretty spectacular, with warm temps and clear skies. However, the four days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday were very Seattle-esque.

Note: I am not an NFL fan. The Super Bowl game is the only game I will watch in entirety during the season.

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The work ethic of teens these days


Those of us of the Gen X generation and older often pass judgment on the teens of today with statements like these:

  • They have it so easy.
  • They don’t know what hard work is.
  • Where’s the work ethic?

I’ve been guilty of the same sort of prejudices.

Recently, my teenage daughter turned that all around for me. Less than one week after her 17th birthday, she reported to work for her first job: at 5 a.m. – on a school day! She’s lifeguarding at the neighborhood Y. The pool is outdoors. It’s January. We live in Phoenix. But still, it’s chilly in the morning, and on this morning it happens to be raining.

“Lifeguarding is not work,” some would say. “All they do is stand around and twirl a whistle.”

Having seen the effort she has put into it, I can now contest the previous statement. Lifeguarding is skilled labor at a minimum. Prior to even being granted an interview, she was required to give up two full weekends and two weeknights for the prerequisite training. She now knows every aspect of keeping others safe at the pool: first aid, CPR, dealing with panic, hypothermia and more. She paid a handsome sum out of her own pocket for the training with no hint of being reimbursed. She passed a series of in-class quizzes, plus two water tests, and a grilling of an interview with both her manager and the manager’s manager.

Today was her first day on the job. I was awakened at 4:15 a.m. by the sound of her getting ready. Although she’s pretty self sufficient, I got up to see if she needed any last minute help so she could scoot out the door on time. She was good. She had prepared everything she needed the night before: Clothes for work, clothes for school, her lunch, and gear for swim practice after school.

To say I am proud of her would be an understatement. But, the purpose of this post is not to brag about my daughter, although I could do so all day long. My hope is that you will join me in looking a little deeper into the plight of today’s youth. In many ways, they face far more challenges and obstacles than many of us did when we were growing up. Let’s show them our respect with words of encouragement and gratitude. Thank you!

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Hike: Phoenix South Mountain National Trail End to End


by Paul Fiarkoski

For my first hike of 2015 I chose to hike the entire length of National Trail on South Mountain in Phoenix, AZ – 14 miles in total. I put together a video with the Go-Pro camera Santa brought the family for Christmas.

Check out the trip summary on Map My Hike and the video below:

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Ironman Arizona 2014 slideshow


by Paul Fiarkoski

I was so enamored with the Ironman competition after my first experience as a spectator in 2013, that I had to go back for more this year. For the unitiated, an Ironman Triathlon is consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.

This year’s edition was noticeably cooler than 2013 and it appeared to affect the athletes, especially in the swim to bike transition. Many of them looked like frozen penguins after shucking off their wet suits. I was happy to hear that many of the finishers were from my old stomping grounds in the Denver-Boulder area of Colorado.

2014 Ironman Competition – Tempe, AZ

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In case you’re wondering, like my wife is, whether I have my sights set on doing the Ironman of my own some day, the answer for now is an emphatic “No”. The run portion would be the death of me. 🙂 My personal fitness goal is to hike 12 miles to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and up the other side, then back to wear I started, sometime before my 50th birthday – October of 2017.

Until then, I hope you enjoy the slideshow above and posts from my various hikes.

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