Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wakita....Searching for Twisters 20 years later

Sometimes movies leave a lasting impression on you.  For me, the mid-1990s produced some of the greatest films that I still watch with the same enthusiasm as a new release. Jurassic Park, Apollo 13, and one especially close to me….Twister. Why? If you knew elementary school Jeff, one of my big interests was weather. I’d sit in front of the weather channel for hours at a time watching national weather reports. I dressed up as a weather man for career day in 3rd grade. In college, I would give a weekly weather report to my fraternity brothers pretending I was in front of a green screen. So, you can say I earned my weather nerd card. I still remember in  May of 1996, Dad, Danny Volek, Andrew and I saw Twister at the Irving AMC. It was amazing, and helped to pique my interest even more in weather.  Some of my Baylor friends loved it too, and we would watch it annually, quoting the same lines over and over again. Its crazy to think that 20 years have gone by since that time, but its true. In honor of that, my Irving buddy Andy Muskrat, who amazingly likes Twister and can quote it even better than me, came up to Tulsa on Sunday evening for a pilgrimage to the epicenter of Twister-lore- the tiny town of Wakita, OK. 
Andy in Wakita, which is surrounded by wheat fields.

Any Twister fan knows the city of Wakita. Set high in central Oklahoma about 20 miles south of Kansas, the town was a key part of the movie as the place where an F5 tornado as Dusty would say looks to “hit Wakita head on”. The cool part is that it wasn’t just a made up Hollywood town- we could go and visit the actual place they filmed it. Even cooler is the fact a Twister Movie Museum still operates there 20 years after the movie was completed.
Andy and I hit the road around 8:30 on Monday after he had made reservations at the Twister Museum with a nice lady named Linda Wade for a private tour (its normally closed on Mondays). We took 412 west to 35N, then exited and turned left at Blackwell. It was about 30 miles to go west on Highway 11 so, being the Twister geeks we are, we started playing the Twister soundtrack, composed by Mark Mancina, which totally fit the bucolic driving view around Northern Oklahoma. We saw lots of farm equipment and combines on the side of the road, kind of wishing we would have to dodge some in the air if a tornado were to pop up among the surrounding wheat fields. 
We arrived to Wakita at 11 am and drove through the town. At a population of a little over 400, it seemed smaller. The main street was just 5 or 6 blocks long, flanked with streets of houses on the right, and large wheat silos on the left.  It wasn’t hard to find the museum, which turned out to be where the directors and executive producers (Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Speilberg) had made their offices during the shoot.
Entrance to the Twister The Movie Museum. Wakita, OK
The door was wide open, so we ventured inside, greeted by the actual Dorothy I, a large metal cylinder invention from the movie. Linda showed up a couple of minutes after and she was such a wonderful host. She has given the personalized tour hundreds of times, yet as she proudly walked us through the entire museum, you could hear the pride in her voice of how the town rallied around the actors and movie crew throughout the month of filming.
Andy chats with Linda about Bill Paxton's popularity with the Wakita locals.
We were her only guests that day, which felt special. The museum was filled with movie props, newspaper clippings, and other memorabilia, including a Twister pinball machine given by Bill Paxton to the town. We got a chance to play it for a while until Linda invited us to sit down at an old prop table from the movie (maybe from Aunt Meg’s house), and she pulled out a DVD that had home videos from 1995 of the actors walking around between takes, as well as some of the actual filming, noting that there was no way in today’s mobile world they would let the public get that close to a hot set.
Jeff playing Twister pinball, donated by Bill Paxton.

After the museum tour was complete and we got all the pictures we desired, we walked a few blocks to a couple of other important filming locations. Anyone who has seen Twister remembers the sweeping scene of the Wakita water tour as the crew leaves town to chase another tornado. Its still there, and got some pics near it. According to Linda, they wanted to paint over the town’s name for the movie, but it would cost $10,000 to repaint it, so they just left the name on there. The rest is history.
Another key place on the tour was Aunt Meg’s house…..or at least where it used to be, for we all know the tornado that hit Wakita left Aunt Meg’s “car in a tree around the corner”.  The lot where her house stood is still there on Elm Street
Street where crew parked to eat at Aunt Meg's.
The yard and former house location.
You can almost picture the crew parking on the street as they run inside to get some steak and eggs. Sadly, the house and former workshop and cool wind chimes are long gone. Linda said the director has them now at his house.

 Touring a town is tiring. It was time for lunch. What better place to assuage our hunger than at a place on Main Street called the Twister Café?  Actually, we only had 2 options- the Twister Café or the grocery store, which had a special on fried chicken. We chose the former. After a 2 block walk, we arrived at the cash only Twister Café for some really delicious bacon and cheese burgers.

Bacon burger with waffle fries- Twister Cafe special

There were a total of 7 people inside a small, wooden building with a husband and wife running the place. We ate quietly but soundly, as the burgers did not disappoint- the buns were buttered and grilled to give it that great crisp taste. Also, it was great listening to small town folk talk about dogs, gossip and all else that comes with living in small town Oklahoma.The community board in the restaurant spoke volumes. Town events (the Twister 20th Anniversary block party is May 14th), items for sale, and one sign that read "The only similarity between Obama and God is that neither have a birth certificate." Yes, we were still in the reddest state in the US.

Andy and me with Dorothy I
We had done enough F-5 damage for one day in our visit, we packed up our museum shirts, postcards and gifts and headed back to the big city. Wakita seems a world away from Tulsa, even though its only a little over 2 hours. I’m thankful for the opportunity to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Twister in the spot it was filmed, and for chance to get away for a bit from the bustle of everyday life. On May 14th, I'll be watching Twister again at my house to celebrate this cool movie as an Oklahoma institution.  Make it a great day! 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Potent Quote-ables

I have about 3 quotes in which, if you've known me long enough, have probably heard me utter. I try to abide by these words. Im sure Ill add more life quotes as I age more, but these are the basics.

1) Life's not fair, then you die.- Inez Morua, Cuban 6th grade math teacher.

Ms. Morua had a big mouth, large personality and a short temper. As a junior high math teacher for a bunch of little complaining in-fidels (pun intended), she didnt take a lot of your BS. After a few sighs, questioning and arguing from any 6th grader,  she would declare "lifes not fair, then you die" in a wonderfully Cuban-American accent then cock her head and stare at a 45 degree angle. Point taken Ms. Morua. She had a right to be like that. She lost a son to a drunk driver the Halloween before my 6th grade year. She had the right to be bitter. Life isn't fair many times and in many circumstances. As a believer, I trust God to work it all out. Thats the basis, or one of the tenets,of the book of Ecclesiastes. In the end, God is sovereign and just. When I want to complain or moan when I don't get a deal closed, feel slighted by people,  or when Im just a baby even as a 35 year old, its important to remember that life isn't fair. Im thankful for grace because without that, fairness would destroy me.

2) Ive never seen a U-haul behind a hearse.- Barry Camp, Highland Baptist Church

Love this quote. Remember the Pharaohs who were buried with all their treasure? It just sat there collecting dust as their mummified corpses slowly rotted.  What we do with the finances God entrusts with us in the life is critical. With only about 100 years to live, you cant take it with you. This is guaranteed. How you are generous with others and what you invest in is a lasting impact. I want to be a giver every day, month, year. I want God to show me needs to meet with others in my life. Strangers, close friends, family- I challenge myself to meet needs and be generous. It seems God gives us a bigger shovel when we give. The biggest secret of giving I've found is the person giving is blessed equally or more than the receiver. I made a goal of giving away at least 20 percent of what I earn to meaningful things. Why do we hold tightly to money? Why do we put our value in the value of our 401K? I pray I listen to the Spirit and anytime there is a need, I obey. Im not going to list the things ive done, but its been awesome to see how i can bless people in a small way.

3) If you are in the company of people who agree with you all the time, its time to find a new company.- Condelizza Rice

What a graceful woman- smart too. She would be a wonderful US President. Her words ring true. I want to be surrounded with people who challenge me. I love a good healthy debate. This is both in friendships and in work. Groupthink always dilutes what can be accomplished in the corporate world. People tend to just agree with others and blunt their own creative ideas and talents. I try to think outside the box in situations and not be difficult, but think of different ideas and ways to accomplish things to make quota or accomplish a project.  Sometimes this makes a boss frustrated with me, but I think its a positive thing overall. In interpersonal relationships, I always appreciated friends who would challenge my thoughts on politics, sports, life, mentality, etc.

Well, thats it. Make it a great night!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super...bowl Sunday

I should be working on my PTMP for work and I have been but this masala tea has my mind wandering all over the place at Shades. Maybe being at Shades inspired me to blog again, as I wrote most of my posts here when I first moved to T-Town. I'm having a large group of friends over this evening for the Super Bowl and made chili and drinks for it way too late last night after running my legs off yesterday. Actually, I lifted weights with Kyle at 8, then did a spin class with Kelly at 10 and then ran in late afternoon. We were at a party last night (which had world's coolest deck overlooking a creek) and stood most of the time. I was going to take a bath late last night but got distracted because Twister was on AMC so ended up watching that and making chili for today. Went to church this morning and now I'm here working on the work project. Kelly and I got a super bowl pic at church (apparently a tradition now).   

Also, today is my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday Kathleen!!!!!!!I still remember her coming home from the hospital. Hope she is feeling loved up in Boston. Wish I could be there to hang out with here and get a canoli at one of those great Italian places there.

Tomorrow I'm going to Ada in the morning (otherwise known as the ends of the Earth), then back for a dinner with OneGas at Mi Cocina.

Make it a great week,

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter 2015 and weekend update on eating habits

Hello. This weekend, I was vastly improved over historical weekend eating habits. It seems that Friday night-Sunday are usually the belt busters of days, but I was able to be tame and really watch/limit what I consumed. Friday, I was able to have 1 banana and black coffee for breakfast, a handful of strawberries for a snack, a somewhat healthy salad at Zoes, and a burrito bowl for dinner with minimal ingredients. Saturday, I had black coffee and a banana for breakfast, McAlisters for lunch and 2 pieces of pizza for dinner (deep dish). I'm really happy with myself in not allowing any additional junk food like half and half with coffee, or big snacking in between meals. Saturday night, I was craving something when I got home from a movie and instead ate a cup of greek yogurt and honey. Delicious! For Easter lunch that we had today, I ate some ham, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, strawberries, some and black coffee and a bit of OJ. I'm also proud to say I ran every day this weekend even when I didn't want to. I did 45 minutes of running/bike on Friday, ran 4 miles on Saturday and ran 3.5 this evening. I have a half marathon this coming weekend, so I plan to do some minimal stuff friday (not running) but still get my cardio in.

Overall, I'm satisfied with the minimal damage I did this weekend. I plan to hit it hard every day this week. I'm 5 for 5 on the April challenge and am not stopping now. I think I'm under 210 which would be a first in quite a while for me. I plan to be under 200 by the end of the month.

Easter this year was much different, but very nice. Kelly and I weren't sure what we were doing. Scott and Vicky were visiting KC this weekend, and as the week drew to an end we still weren't sure of what we were doing, so we made a decision at the farmers market to just invite our friends over to enjoy a lunch together.
I started today in the Word, reading about God's love for us in 1 John. Just the start I needed for the day. Went to a wonderful church service- music, a message out of Luke and salvations. Afterwards, 
six of us got together to celebrate today and enjoy a meal together (me, Kelly, Lindsey, Siva, Jay and Bethany and kids). We had such a wonderful, relaxing time. It rained in the morning which provided a cool day. I got home from church and finished preparing the side dishes while Kelly finished the ham at her apartment. I set up a table in the main living room with a white table cloth and candle. Since I don't have a dining room, I joked that we use the living room only a couple of times a year to eat in, so it was kind of like eating in anyone's dining room. Everyone arrived at 2 for the lunch.  The food that people made was so good. I was a fan of the ham (the cloves really made it divine!) as well as the deviled eggs. Lindsey made some delectable desserts. The creme fresh that she had with the strawberries was a little taste of heaven. Seriously, Lindsey those were the best strawberries. They got me so distracted I gave you a present that wasn't yours LOL! We took pictures in the backyard with various people. The red bud trees in bloom provided a vibrant purple background and was perfect  for an Easter picture. We even had an egg hunt for little Eden.

This evening, I have been at my house and thankful for the Easter God orchestrated. Wonderful time worshiping the Father, time with friends and introspection.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

April Running brings May Abs

Team- Coach Mossman here. Are you ready? Are you ready to deflate that spare tire around your waist? Its time to put the brownies down and put on your garmin watch. More running, less running to the kitchen. Its time to stop making excuses to cheat on eating healthy or not put in extra effort into a leg workout. THIS AINT NO GARDEN PARTY!!! Get to it!

OK just doing an impression of me as a coach (can you imagine me being mean to the team?) In all seriousness, April 1 brings a new commitment from JEM- I will be doing 30 minutes of cardio every day in April. Ive been disciplined with working out through lifting weights. Many days I am up at 5 am to workout with Chet, Zack and Heath at Sky South. Its early and it feels like im in a weird dream because its so early. But in any case, I am headed to Las Vegas on May 11th for a work trip. Kelly is joining me for a couple of days so we will hit up the pool at the Wynn on Sunday, the 10th. It would be fun to have a cut physique (vain much?) but seriously, why work so hard if you cant on rare occasions feel like you want to walk around the pool with some confidence! Im near the peak of my personal best for strength, which has been a long but rewarding journey. Cutting fat is the other key thing I have not mastered. So, to help me stay accountable, I signed up for another half marathon on April 11th in Jenks. I get to visit the aquarium as a treat after the race. I will also have to pay a fine if there is a day I miss. I will not miss a day.

April Commitments.....
1) Cardio 30 minutes or more daily
2) No fried foods
3) No dairy (other than greek yogurt)

Im excited for this challenge because I want to develop my "muscle" of self discipline. Saying no to unhealthy choices and yes to the right ones.  So many times I say something or commit then falter. Im doing this people.

Make it a great night!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

You're tense

I got a mall massage last night. It was amazing. Thirty minutes of pure bliss. The Chinese workers must all be taught the same methods because its all very similar before they come over to America. Not sure why I felt like I needed to sneak into the store, but I gingerly made my way inside to get the table massage. I started having flashbacks to my first massage experience at 10,000 Waves in Santa Fe, NM. It was a Japanese inspired pergola adorned spa.  Lets just cut to the chase and say it was a nudist-skewed awkward, "we're serious take your clothes off and get into a robe now while we're standing here" kind of place. The massage was decent, but I was still deer-in-headlights concerning what or what I wasn't wearing. Not exactly a nice transition for a first-timer getting a massage who is 20.
 Oddly enough, this is not the weirdest place I have gotten a massage. There is an indoor flea market at the Tulsa Fairgrounds and about once a month, I'll make my way over there to see Tony, who sells jewelry at his table and gives massages....sometimes simultaneously. He is really good, and his slots fill up quickly, so I have to get over there early on a Saturday to sign up for a time. The dull murmurings of the older-skewing crowd at the flea market make it a soothing sound as Tony works on several areas of issue. Once he is done, I want to melt off the soothing and refreshing. Occasionally, I will head over to Dr. Peace, a chiropractor who has massage at his practice. They have this great table that is like a half-sized twin bed and they wrap you tightly in sheets like a cocoon. Its so cozy I would almost pay just to sleep on that bed without the massage. Alas, its back to the grind. Maybe some day soon I'll tackle the infamous Chinese Foot Massage place that several of my friends have frequented. Its in south Tulsa, so it may be a while before I can get down there.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Catching up....

Its been exactly one year since I last posted in this blog. I can't decide why its difficult to blog more, but after much procrastination, I'm back in 2015. I haven't seen any flying cars, nor hoverboards to my dismay, but I'm still hoping the Cubbies and Florida play in the World Series (people who haven't seen Back to the Future are not getting this...).
I'd say 2014 was a success in reflecting over the past year.
Things I'm thankful for:
1) Trips to glorious places ( a New year's cruise in the Carribean, Washington DC for Cherry Blossom Festivals, Las Vegas 5 times (yes that's not a typo), Colorado for the 4th with the wonderful Miss Kelly, Kevin, and Suzy, the UK with Baylor friends, Switzerland with Kyle, and even a bowl game in Phoenix with Wes and several friends.

2) Spending time with Kelly- we have had so many fun times and eaten at so many wonderful places around Tulsa (its kind of our thing we like to do). Some of my favorite things we have done include art night at the Philbrook Museum, pulled pork taco night, scrabble, Red Rock, Los Cabos,  trips to Vegas in February, and Breckenridge hiking, fireworks and the roadtrip to Denver. Cafe Ole, Keo, Shades, Brookside, are just some of our favorite places!  We just know how to have a good time!

3) Meeting new friends and sustaining and growing closer to established friends. New ones like Evan and Jessica Myers who I met early last year through the Wilsons. They are cherished people. I took a memorable trip to Vegas to celebrate Mocky's 30th birthday. What a blast to get to experience Cirque du Soleil, breakfast outside the fountains of Bellagio, hiking etc. The Vegas 7 as I call them are all friends I feel very comfortable around and can be in my own skin. Chet and I continue to work out and laugh (make fools of ourselves) at the gym as we try every gym in Tulsa. Sharing time with the Stevenson's and their kids has given me great joy as well. I love knowing I'm"Uncle Mossman" to sweet Eden. We have started to take a traditional picture at Ole every year on my birthday. Jay and I get to hang out many a coffee shop to catch up and talk about politics, football, or whatever else is germane to the situation.

4)Time with my family over Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was one of my favorites this year. We spent time at Grand Lake with my dad's family, and had so much fun playing table games, croquet, and sitting by the outdoor fireplace. Christmas Eve was lovely with a shrimp dinner after a great church service. We watched a ton of Christmas movies. Overall, just a very cozy and relaxing break.

5) Work.... I acheived my quota for the 3rd year in a row at IBM! I started the year off painfully slow, but I didn't give up. I had an amazing 4Q due to our investment in accounts earlier in the year. I'm very proud to overachieve, and hope that IBM gives us some travel points to take a fun 100% club trip. I am so thankful I get to visit so many cool places through work. Last year, I got to go to Vegas, Austin (played TopGolf which was awesome!), Alabama, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago for a week at the Palmer House, and Washington DC in August with a night trip to the monuments).

6) Fitness- got to work out quite a bit in 2014 and also ran in a couple of half marathons. I set a personal record for a half marathon at the Irving Marathon with a time of 1:46:54. That beat my previous record by over 5 minutes. I also was consistent in lifting weights and making some small gains.
7) Investing in the Kingdom- was able to help support 3 ministries in addition to my church home in Tulsa in 2014. I also made a commitment to help with some fundraising for a building in which The Gathering is trying to buy at some point. I felt God leading me to do that in August. Malachi 3:16 is right on target by the way. When you are obidient to God in how he leads us to use his money he gives us, great and mighty things happen.
8) In general, in 2014 I was able to reflect and be thankful for all that I have and to be thankful for a house, a car that has been a consistent, no issue friend for 100,000 miles now, an ability to have some margin to take trips, invest in others, etc.

These things and many more I am thankful for in 2014. So many times we sit and sulk thinking about things not going our way. I have to remind myself of the wonderful things God has blessed me with and it really puts things in perspective.
Make it a great day!