Saturday, September 22, 2012

Breakfast Cereals

So I opened a box of Lucky Charms (they were on sale, I guess, so Tammy couldn't pass them up) today, and Cordelia got super excited about the rainbow on the back. So we looked at the pictures of the various fake-marshmallow charms. They've added 2 more since the last time I paid attention: The Hourglass, and The Rainbow. At this point I told Cordelia about how when I was about her age we only had Pink Hearts, Orange Stars, Green Clovers, and Blue Moons, and how I remembered when they first introduced Purple Horseshoes! and not long after that, Red Balloons.

Anyway, that got me thinking back to a conundrum I had as a kid - something my cousin Todd and I probably talked about while spending the summer on the farm in Idaho. I want to just dive into the conundrum, but I really want to set it up right... If you're young, you may not know all the commercials that I grew up with (and since I don't watch TV with commercials anymore, I have no idea if the format is the same today). But if you're in your 30s or older, you'll remember these.

  • Lucky Charms - The kids were always in relentless pursuit of Lucky so they could steal his Lucky Charms cereal. He was good-natured about it when they caught him, but did that make it not stealing?
  • Cocoa Puffs - Sonny, the Cuckoo Bird, went Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs... they made him explode with energy, insanity, and frankly this idea terrified him. He hated it. He did all in his power to avoid eating Cocoa Puffs. But the sadistic kids would chase him down and force-feed this cereal to him - all for a laugh. Charming.
  • Trix - The Trix Rabbit wanted to eat Trix. He didn't try to prevent kids from eating Trix, but he wanted some, too. The kids refused absolutely to share: "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids."  Excuse me, but Trix are for kids? The cereal has the Trix Rabbit's name on it. How did the cereal get his name, if not because they are his? I have some recent theories on this one:
    • He's allergic. Something in them will make him sick, or possibly kill him - so the kids are just looking out for his best interests (view the behaviors of the kids from the above examples, and you'll likely join me in doubting it - in fact, if he were allergic, they'd probably force him to eat the cereal as a sick experiment).
    • Trix is made out of other Trix Rabbits, so for him to eat the cereal would make him a cannibal. Of course, if this were the case, I'd half-expect the kids to take a bite out of him, just to see if "fresh Trix" is better than processed.
    • Finally, we get to the one that I suppose is most-likely: Trix Cereal is actually made up of Trix Rabbit pellets. Yes, that's right, rabbit poop. They are pellet-shaped, and it would be really upsetting for him to eat them. Of course, this doesn't answer the question: Why do the kids want to eat them???
Tony the Tiger and the Honey Nut Cheerios Honey Bee were both a lot better at getting kids to share the cereal without being total douches about it. Tony, as you may have noticed, was a tiger. He would have mauled up-start children and had himself a greeeaaaat! breakfast of his own. And the Honey Bee - well, he is a bee. They sting you if you tick them off. Seriously. 

And this brought me to another thought: What's with all the cartoons pitching cereal? Is it because these are kids cereals? Their tastes haven't matured enough to realize how unappetizing most of these cereals are, yet... or maybe they have, but kids will eat anything if a cartoon character tells them to?  Adults have choices, many better choices than sugary-sweet, low-to-no-nutritional value breakfast cereals. 
  • Raisin Bran 
    • If you don't like raisins, the following are essentially Raisin-free alternatives
    • Wheaties 
    • Special K
    • Total 
  • Fruit & Fiber
  • Grapenuts
  • Cracklin' Oat Bran
  • Oh!s
  • Shredded Wheat (mini's are all I see these days)
None of these cereals need cartoon characters to pitch them. They're good, they're healthful, and frankly the health-conscious real-human actors pitching them seem to have good BMs, so that's encouraging.

For my closing remarks, I want to make special mention of Toucan Sam, who always shared his findings with the kids - and he never seemed coerced. Snap, Crackle, and Pop, also. I don't recall them trying to withhold their Rice Crispies, and were never prevented from eating or forced to eat them. Sugar Bear was genial (again, he was a bear, so the kids were probably a little terrified of him). Don't want to forget the Cookie Crisp Cookie Crook, or... you know... the Flintstones... and of course: Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry.

And finally, Cap'n Crunch. This guy had no problem lying to kids - right to their faces. He gave them his cereal as a brain-booster. And he also said that the cereal stayed crunchy in milk. This was only true if you ate them quickly - a feat I could never do, as (1) I couldn't stand them and (2) they were so hard with sharp edges, they chewed the roof of my mouth to shreds if I didn't let them soak in my bowl for 5 minutes or so.

Thanks for strolling down memory lane with me, and thinking about the messages commercials are trying to make our children think about, you know, when they get older and have time to reflect on them - or just can't sleep.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reflections on Aging

Why do we have children? Is there any yardstick more terrifying, in terms of getting older? I have friends whose children are now driving, some whose children are starting middle school. My own oldest is starting Kindergarten today.

You know what I realized? I feel younger than my friends with older children appear to be.

That's right. People who are younger than me, people I went to high school with who were 1 to 3 years behind me, have children as much as 12 years older than my oldest child and I see myself as younger than these old friends.

And my thoughts?

Yikes! Having children gives one too much perspective! A point of reference too solid to ignore! And what's worse: There's no going back, no undoing this marker.

Obviously, not having children wouldn't prevent the aging process, and living in a bubble of ignorance wouldn't change the fact that as time passes, our bodies begin breaking down and betraying us. And yet there is something to be said about such a blissful blindness.

Another thought I had: Television shows that we consider ourselves contemporary to work against us in a similar way.

 I was either on my mission or about to leave on my mission when the first episode of Friends aired in 1994. Children who were born that day will be leaving on their missions next year.

Kids born when The X-Files first aired are leaving on their missions this year.

I heard some "adults" at work talking about Pokémon last year... not derisively as I might, but with childhood fondness, the way I could (still) talk about Voltron, the Muppet Show, or any number of programs I could call up from my childhood.

World Politics give perspective, too... I'm curious about the Red Dawn remake... what fear does today's generation have of waking up to a world where the Soviets have invaded? In fact, I have to wonder if today's generation really even knows what a "Soviet" is? If they paid attention in History class, they'll be able to tell you about the USSR, I suppose... And yet, even for me, somebody whose childhood was flavored by fears of the Soviet Union, movies about Soviet aggression, that acronym, U.S.S.R. appears foreign to my eyes - and it's only been about 20 years since the Soviet government collapsed - how can I expect today's generation to appreciate movies like Firefox (Clint Eastwood, 1982), WarGames (Broderick, 1983), Night Crossing (Bridges, Hurt, 1982).

Plenty of other things give perspective as well.  Neil Armstrong passed away on Saturday. He walked on the moon 6 years before I was born. No man has walked on the moon in my lifetime at all... but at least Neil was still alive.

But all of these things are non-essentials to me. I can ignore them, I can forget about them, I can pretend that Friends/X-Files/Seinfeld/etc. are still airing thanks to Netflix, DVD, etc. I can pretend that Neil is still alive (since I won't really talk to him any less often than I did before). I can pretend John Stockton and Karl Malone still play for the Jazz (since I didn't watch all that much basketball to begin with). I can still think of Russia as the Soviet Union (since the Soviets didn't want to be called Russians when I was a child, I feel weird referring to Russians as Russians as an adult, anyway).

My friends' children are likewise non-entities as far as my self-delusion is concerned. Most of these friends are facebook friends, which is to say I have little-to-no contact with them outside of my occasional forays into their fb updates, so their children are strangers to me - they could be anybody's kids.

But my children... My children are the lasso around my neck. I cannot ignore them, pretend they aren't there, get away from the truth they force upon me. I cannot escape the fact of them and of their aging and growing. I cannot close my eyes and tell myself it's all just a dream and I'll wake up in a few minutes - time to get up to catch the school bus.

No, my children force perspective on me, make me acknowledge myself in a way I'm not always comfortable with. Make me see myself as I truly am. They are a fun-house reflection of me. Not really me, but close enough to make me take stock of who I am, what I am, and what I could be and must be.

Am I sorry I have children? Absolutely not. Would I have it any other way? Blasphemy! But do I long for the ignorance, the veil of self-deception that allows me to think I'm as young as I feel? Certainly!

What I never understood as a child, and I understand better every day, is that older people don't know they're older people! They may have a brain-bound knowledge of their age, and their bodies may be breaking down, and they may talk about being old all the time... but in their heads, they still see themselves as they used to be. They still remember how it felt to be young and alive and full of vigor. And not only do they remember it, they feel it... they think they still have it, even if they know that it's gone or going.

I just realized that I used the word "they" in the above paragraph, not the word "we." And yet, I am an older person - by childhood standards. And yet it doesn't feel right to go back and change the "they"s to "we"s above. I am older, I know. But I'm not old. I'm not one of them... And I never will be. The amazing thing about this is that I know there are people older than me who will read this, some of them as much as 20-30 years older than me, who will undoubtedly not think of themselves as part of the "they" when they read it, either.  They will see themselves as I see myself: aging but not old. Breaking down, but still young. Bodies that don't do what they used to, but inside, still full of life, desires, joys, fears, longings, hopes, needs, wants, and so much more - the things young people are known for live on in the older generations, but they are curbed by reality and buried under responsibility and care.

I've rambled incoherently for a while now (it is a blog on aging after all), and though the student in me wants to go back and re-structure, re-write, and edit the piece - the writer in me wants to leave the stream of thought as it is. I woke up this morning unable to get back to sleep, all the vagaries of my dreams still prancing about in my semi-conscious mind, and I felt an urgency to get in front of my PC and type the thoughts and ideas and randomness of my frail processes... and because this is not a work of academia, or a piece of scholarship, not an article intended for publication in any respected journals or magazines, and is merely my blog - shared with whomever finds it, but more directly with those who know me and perhaps love me, I feel more honest leaving it as it is. Streaming and unedited (well... I do some editing as I go along - but it's minor stuff like spelling, word-usage, you know: the basics).

I started this out focused on how old I feel when I reflect on all the changes around me, but have ended up regarding my age as merely the tangible part of wisdom and responsibility. Inside, I am no older than I was 20 years ago, so I suspect in 20 years, I'll be no older than I am today - and by extension, no older than I was 20 years ago, still. My body may be more beaten, my actions may be more deliberate, my choices more experienced, but barring actual cerebral damage and decay, I anticipate feeling like I have always felt, on an emotional, intellectual level.

If only children could understand this.  If only older people knew how to teach it... Fortunately, anybody who lives long enough to become "older" will learn it. I expect I've just touched on the surface of what it's really like for those who have lived 37 years more than I have.  I'll see about looking back on this when I'm 74, and maybe make an update at that time. Unless I am just too old to bother.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Dash of Irony

I liked this so much I had to take a picture.  It will likely make it onto my facebook and Google+ profiles... and I think I may just submit it to

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Soooo Many Giggles

Video update.

Here you get to see and hear the newest little Casperling in one of the best moods I've seen.

Behind her, you'll see big sis tracing Disney Princesses.

My girls.

I love 'em.

Anybody who only reads the blog from their email, and doesn't actually get my videos embedded in their email notification, can go directly to in order to view the blog in its natural habitat.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Oooo Look! It's Flashing!

It's been a while since I took Driver's Ed (something like 20 years). It's been less time since I took traffic school (probably somewhere around 8 years).  It's only been about 2 years since I took a 2-month course in commercial driving. And in all of those educative experiences we learned about signs and rules and what specific colors on the street lights meant.  We learned how to treat a four-way stop, and as such learned that the meaning of "Right-of-Way" actually meant that in a tie, the person to the right had the right to go first.

We learned, back then, how to treat a street light that was out or obviously malfunctioning. We learned that a red arrow meant "Don't turn." If it was pointing left, it meant don't turn left. If pointing right, it meant "Don't turn right - even if the guy behind you is honking (you'll get the ticket if you run it, not him, so let him honk)."

We learned that green means go, red means stop, and yellow means (ha ha) go faster or - more responsibly - use caution.

What I never learned, and surprisingly not I nor anybody I've asked, has been summoned to a Driver's Ed refresher course to teach us how to deal with the following changes - despite how useful such refreshers would be in the evolving urban nightmare that UDOT (I include city planners and whoever else it is that blows our tax dollars on experiments) has begun forcing on the Salt Lake Valley.

  • Continuous Flow Intersections (CFIs) - so named to mislead the people with the money into forking out large enough sums to pay for the destruction of corner homes and businesses, while simultaneously providing months and years of construction work (ie. traffic congestion, narrowed lanes, construction zone speed limits, etc.) and ensuring years of confusion amongst out-of-towners, elderly drivers, and people who just plain missed the "on-ramp" light for their left turn a quarter-mile down the road.  Another benefit provided by CFIs is the renovated "No Right Turn" light (a bright white outline of an arrow with an impressive red circle and line crossing through it) - a red right-turn arrow isn't enough, even UDOT agreed, to ensure people no longer try to turn right at an intersection. So now you can't turn right on a red, and you get to wait for your left turn from further away.  There is probably some benefit somewhere, but methinks it's mostly a benefit to somebody writing off something somewhere, or padding their resume with "I conceived of the plan to rebuild the entire traffic-system in the Salt Lake Valley, and successfully convinced them to do it."
  • Mostly the above.
  • And third, Flashing Yellow Left-Turn Arrows.
That's right. We have flashing yellow left-turn arrows peppered around the valley.  Why, you ask? Let me tell you why!  So that we know to use caution when turning left at an intersection!

As I typed the above, I realized that there is more to it than that - obviously everybody knows that you have to use caution before turning left on a solid green light. In fact that is why I started this rant. I was kind of annoyed that they were changing perfectly good, working solid greens with flashing yellows that didn't change anything about how you turn left. 

But now I get it. Let me share my epiphany.

You see, the planners are so dead-set on converting every intersection in Utah into an arterial joke, that they are concerned people will forget how to safely wait for an opening in on-coming traffic before turning left at the few intersections they can't convert.  We're to become so familiar with the Crazy Flow Intersections, and their magical ability to let through-traffic flow at the same time that left-turners are making their turns, that we will eventually think a solid green light always means "go for it!!"

We really are a stupid breed, I guess. Good thing the smarty-pants in charge are ahead of the curve and compassionate enough to look out for the rest of us tards. Phew! I guess I should just relax,  stare contentedly at the flashing yellow light, and hope for an opening before the drool spills down my shirt.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thomas Healy - See You On the Other Side

Thomas Charles Healy
September 19, 1953-January 24, 2012

Thomas Charles Healy left this earth peacefully after a 2 month battle with cancer, on January 24, 2012. Tom was born on September 19, 1953 in Salt Lake City, UT to Melvin and Mary Jane Healy.

Tom graduated from Kearns High School in 1972. He married Lynda Joyce Duffin on July 13, 1973. They were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on July 13, 1983. Tom retired from Concrete Products Company. He spent his retirement with his grandchildren, and serving in the Jordan River, and Oquirrh Mountain Temples. He served faithfully in the church as a dedicated Home Teacher, High Councilman, Bishopric Member, Stake Sunday School Presidency, and the Emergency Preparedness Committee.

Tom is survived by his wife Lynda Healy; children Chad (Patti) Healy, Michelle (Blake) Draper, Tammy (Steve) Casper; 6 grandchildren Cordelia, Garrett, Madison, Cameron, Ethan, and Sorella; mother Mary Jane Healy, and brothers Melvin (Drena) Healy and Victory Healy. Preceded in death by his father Melvin Healy

Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, January 28th at 11:00 AM at the LDS Meetinghouse at 6364 S 3200 W, West Jordan, UT. A viewing will be held on Friday, January 27th from 6 to 8 PM and one hour prior to services, also at the church.

In lieu of flowers, and in honor of Tom’s love for temple service, please donate to the LDS Temple fund.

Arrangements entrusted to Starks Funeral Parlor. Online condolences may be offered to the family at .

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Year End Pictures

It's been a while since my last post, and in a way I feel super bad about it.

 But in another way I feel okay about it. Because I've been super busy.  This particular post is another of my famous "touching base" posts. Cordelia is doing great, Sorella is getting big, Tammy is enjoying Winter Recess, and I'm... well, I'm happy to be employed.

 And now, what we're really here for: Pictures!

And this one from Halloween:

And I've got a video I want to upload, but it's going to take a little editing which I just don't have time for in this very moment.

Anyway, I hope you all had a merry Christmas and wish you all a safe and fun new year!