Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dear Friends and Family,

As 2008 draws to a close we extend our love and appreciation to each of you for the contributions you have made in our lives. Also, in keeping with tradition, we will provide you with a one paragraph summary of each member of our family, followed by a trite and hackneyed holiday message. If you read all the way to the end in hopes of anything different, you will be disappointed. In fact, you might choose to save some time and re-read any of the letters or cards already adorning your mantelpieces and simply substitute our names for the names of whomever the card was originally from.

I’ll make it easy for you. Our names are David, Kaerlig, RXXXX, DXXX, and EXXX.

Since I know some of you won’t do this, in spite of it providing the same net result, here come the paragraphs:

EXXXX turned four this year. She is a very sweet little girl. Over the summer we took the kids to Disneyland, and in spite of being too short to go on most of the rides, she was a good sport about it. We didn’t tell her there was a whole section of the park for kids her age, opting instead to drag her from attraction to attraction, repeatedly getting measured by pimply teens who repeatedly told her to come back next year when she was bigger. I’m sure she can’t wait.

DXXXX is now six years old. He is a good boy and does well in school. His first grade teacher thinks the world of him and I can’t blame her. He’s adorable. His chief ambition for now is to work at The Scooter Lounge when he’s bigger. He also wants me to mention that he is handsome and very good at soccer. In addition, he’s a very good climber and literally climbs the walls in our hallway and doorways.

RXXXXX is turning eight this month. He is 55 inches tall and weighs 90 pounds. To put that in context, I didn’t weigh that much until fourth grade and I was pretty big-boned. Rainer is huge. He does well in school and reads on a fifth grade level. His teacher says he’s a model student. This may be because she is afraid of him, but I choose to believe her anyway. He also won the Reflections art contest again this year. Those judges just never tire of dinosaur paintings apparently.

Kaerlig is currently giving me the silent treatment. She read the next paragraph over my shoulder and I think she took it personally. It wasn’t meant to be read that way. She was recently named Employee of the Quarter at the hospital where she works. She enjoys running and going to the gym. She also does a great job keeping the household running. Were it left to me, our home would be reduced to a smoldering crater in short order. Kaerlig is the glue that keeps our family together.

As for me, I am now 33 years old. This year I have lost a little more hair, gained a little more weight, and vastly shrunk my bank account. For fun I enjoy regular verbal abuse, avoiding bill collectors, and not getting kicked in the groin. In my spare time I sleep in the fetal position on my corner of our king-sized bed, sometimes trembling as I stare down the barrel of at least thirty more years of the same.

Merry Christmas everyone! May your days be merry and bright at this most wonderful time of the year when our thoughts turn to peace on earth and goodwill toward men. As you go dashing through the snow on all your holiday errands, may you pause to reflect on the little town of Bethlehem where, away in a manger unto us a child was born, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Today I walked home from work. It's just over five miles. I didn't do it for physical fitness purposes. It was more for the mentally therapeutic benefits. I've been feeling pretty much like the family dog lately. I can't seem to do anything right. I don't mean to sound like Charlie Brown here, but I guess I probably do. Good Grief.

Walking was pretty nice. At first it was bitter cold, but by the time I got home, I was actually sweating underneath my down parka.

Speaking of "parkas," I think that's the first time I've used that word. But I remember the first time I heard it. I was six years old. We had just moved into my Grandparents' home and my grandma needed me to run across the street for something. I don't remember what. But I guess I didn't have a coat and it was Winter. Grandma wasn't about to let me step foot outside without a coat and she told me just to wear her "parka." It was orange. I didn't want to wear it because it was a womans coat, and her casually throwing the unfamiliar word "parka" around didn't help either. I don't remember what happened after that, but if I had it to do over again I'd wear the parka happily.

While I walked I listened to some music. I hit play and Radioheads In Rainbows album came on. It's a good album. You should get it.

Since I don't have much else to say, I'll just copy and paste some Radiohead lyrics and call it a night.

Bodysnatchers

I do not
Understand
What it is
I've done wrong
Full of holes
Check for pulse
Blink your eyes
One for yes
Two for no

I have no idea what I am talking about
I'm trapped in this body and can't get out
Ooooohhhh

Make a sound
Move back home
Pale imitation
With the edges
Sawn off

I have no idea what you are talking about

I'm trapped in this body and can't get out
Ooooohhhh

Has the light gone out for you?
Because the light's gone for me
It is the 21st century
It is the 21st century
You can fight it like a dog
And they brought me to my knees
They got scared and they put me in
They got scared and they put me in
All the lies run around my face
All the lies run around my face
And for anybody else to see
And for anybody else to see

I'm alive...

oh no no no no no no no no no no no no ma ma. (X3)

I've seen it coming. (x4)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

It was bound to happen, but I've been avoiding it. Here I am, writing a post with my iPhone. Is this the pinnacle of technological convergence or the last nail in my apple fanboy coffin? I don't know. I'm pretty sure that nail was driven several months ago when I purchased an apple TV. If that's the case, then this is just me being self-indulgent and snotty.
No matter how I slice it, I'm pretty much a douchebag. Especially considering that I'm doing this while at my dads 74th birthday party. He's running on fumes. I should be cherishing every moment with him. Instead I'm staring into my artificial urim and thummim and sending my thoughts into cyberspace. All of this points me to one simple fact. I am going to die alone, probably too fat to get out of bed, a sandwich rotting in my flesh-folds.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dear Blogosphere,

I'm afraid I've run out of stories to tell. I've summed up my entire life in a handful of posts and there's nothing left. No juicy bits anyway. Just the mundane details of life. For example, today I woke up and sat down to pee. I've been doing it that way lately, so I can sit and close my eyes and sort-of sleep in in a demented way. I do this until somebody shouts at me to get moving. Then I drag my heels down the hall and start getting ready for work.

Facsinating, isn't it? Now that my vast audience is totally engaged in the excitement that surrounds me, I will regale you with tales of toothbrushing and bloody gums. I may even tell you about skipping breakfast because it was puffed wheat cereal and let's be honest, that's about as exciting as a bowlful of packing peanuts.

Now I'm procrastinating actual work by blogging.

I gotta get a hobby like base jumping or sword swallowing. I'm dying of boredom just thinking about my life.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Two Sundays ago at the "Dinner at Mom's House" I did something pretty difficult. It was a long time coming and hard to do, but I could no longer sit idly by. I had to tell them. I came out to my parents.

I said, "I know you won't agree with this, but I have to be true to myself. I'm voting for Obama."

My wife, of course, wasn't surprised. She has known for quite a while. My stepdad left the room. My mom had lots of questions.

You should know that eight years ago I voted for Nader, just for spite, and four years ago I voted for Bush. I felt it was my duty to do so. I was asked to speak in church during that election cycle and I gave a thinly-veiled, pro-Bush speech. I swallowed Karl Rove's baited hook without hesitation.

So, like my mom, you may be wondering what has happened during these last four years to make me jump ship. You may ask, as my mom did, if I have changed my mind about abortion or about the importance of the traditional family in our society.

Here's how I explained it to her:

When I voted for Bush four years ago, it wasn't because I liked him, or felt he was a good person or a great leader. It was more in spite of my feelings to the contrary. I felt it was my duty to support Bush because I believed that on his watch abortion would be curtailed and family values would be supported. These are issues of morality. And while I know that not everyone agrees with my convictions, I felt that Bush did, and that these particular moral issues were of the utmost importance. (I don't know if you've noticed, but Bush didn't do a whole lot to support these issues anyway.)

I recall John Kerry during one of the debates saying, "you can't legislate morality." And I said to myself, "Well then what are you supposed to legislate, you smarmy creep? Of course you have to legislate morality. All law is based on morality. The law is a moral code. We outlaw murder, theft and rape because they are immoral acts."

But this year I realized something. I don't think the phrase, "you can't legislate morality" means to remove moral questions from the purview of the law. I think that what it means is that laws aren't going to make people abide by a moral code. Rather, laws reflect the moral code of a society. If our society degenerated to the degree that other fallen cultures have, new legislation would do little to curtail an increase in murder, theft, and rape.

For this reason, I believe that education and public discourse on the issues will always trump legislation. Teaching moral principles will do more to stem the decline of our society than pushing legislation.

In the same way I voted for Bush on moral issues, I also felt it was imperative to vote for Obama. While he may not agree with me on the issues that made me inclined to support Bush, I have decided that there are other moral issues which have been ignored under the current administration. I question the morality of preemptive war, of corporate welfare. I don't feel good about the unbridled greed and rampant consumerism we embrace in the face of hunger, poverty and squalor throughout the world. I'm certain that America as a nation will experience a greater peace and a reduced risk of terror attacks if we beat our swords into plowshares and help other nations grow. Enforcing peace with the threat or use of violence is unacceptable in our own homes and it should be unacceptable to us as a nation. I'm not so naive as to think that once the new administration is sworn in wars will end. But I hope that we can pursue a course that will secure peace through increased diplomacy and decreased force. An enemy never becomes a friend by being beaten into submission.

According to the local paper, Provo is the reddest city in America. A smaller percentage of voters here supported Obama than any other city. Being in such a small minority is somewhat unsettling. I have been very careful what I say, and to whom I say it. A good friend and neighbor of mine very strongly disagrees with me politically, and I have no desire to adversely affect that friendship. Under these circumstances it would be easy to just not vote, or vote for Santa Claus for that matter, because it really wouldn't make any difference here. That's why I'm writing this. My vote may not matter much to the Utah electorate, but hopefully the people who read this will consider these ideas and recognize that I'm not part of some lunatic fringe.

I was getting a haircut the day before the election, and another man was telling the barber how Obama is a muslim terrorist who hates America and wants to make us socialists. I have received emails from people with good intentions which have said the same things. All this fear-mongering is so childish and counter-productive. This man who will be our president is a good man who, like Senator McCain, loves this country and her people. He has excited the electorate in a way that no candidate has in recent years. And he has done so on a platform of optimism, courage and dignity. If you dislike Senator Obama, I hope it will be because you disagree with him on the issues, rather than because you believe the false claims that continue to circulate about him.

That pretty much sums it up. I don't want to start a political debate here. I just wanted to explain my feelings about this election. I'm excited for our country and the direction we're headed. I feel more patriotic lately than I have in quite a while. I know a lot of my friends and family see things differently, and I respect that, but I think it says a lot about the greatness of America that a man like Barack Obama has been elected our president.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

At the request of my friend Marty, I'm going to write a new post. Though I don't know whether it'll be worth reading. I don't have any great stories to tell tonight.

Okay, here goes:

One of my very first jobs, besides a newspaper route, was at Burger King. I worked there for about seven hours. I was assigned to put patties on the grill. I'd take them out of a freezer, stick them on a conveyor, and watch them get "flame broiled" in a greasy machine, then catch them on a bun at the other side and store them in a steamer. That was my station on the burger assembly line. (This process may also have involved picking up the occasional dropped patty from the floor, and broiling it anyway, but I'm not saying.)

At the end of my shift, at closing time, my boss told me to clean the grill. This part involved scraping tar-like sludge off the stainless steel hood of the machine. I was directed to the janitors closet where there was a hose and a floor drain, and given a box of powdered laundry detergent and a scouring pad. While working at this task with the hopelessly inadequate tools provided, I developed my very first migraine headache.

I drove home that night greasy and wet, nauseated and dizzy. And I thought to myself that any job in the world would be better than the bitter hell I had just endured.

Luckily the next morning I got a call from another place where I had applied, offering me a job. I immediately called the BK and told them not to bother scheduling me for any more shifts. . . ever. And I began my career as a warehouse worker at Best Products Co. A job I loved for the next couple of years.

Best was a department store where you could buy a variety of items. Some smaller items were stocked on the shelves, but larger items were only displayed up front. If you saw something you wanted to buy, you'd take a ticket to the cashier. Then while you were paying for the item, warehouse guys like me would send it up to you.

It was pretty mindless work. Whenever an order came through a loud buzzer would go off, followed by the sound of the dot-matrix printer crunching out a ticket. I would tear the ticket off the printer, and using the information printed thereon I'd find the item, pull the item off the shelf and send it up the conveyor belt. (I've just noticed strange parallels to my work at Burger King.) If the item was too large, I'd take it up front with a dolly or a cart. Often I was also called upon to help the customer load the item in their car as well. Besides those duties, I brought in the shopping carts as needed.

It was the perfect job for me at the time. I was going through some tough stuff in my life and at every idle moment my mind would become consumed by such despondent feelings that I became paralysed by depression. At work I was able to cope because I was constantly on my feet, running up and down aisles, lifting heavy objects. I was too engaged in repetitive tasks to think of anything else.

Best is gone now. The entire chain went under in '96. Sometimes I miss that place.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I like a pretty wide variety of music. This is probably thanks to my parents and older siblings. My dad sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for 22 years. He listened to lots of Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. My mom on the other hand loved the Kingston Trio and Peter Paul and Mary. My brother Carlos is a devout worshipper of Dan Fogleberg, and I remember my sisters listening to everything from Chicago to OMD. Also significant to my musical DNA is the fact that as long as I have known him, my stepdad has spent at least two hours a day making mix tapes of his vast collection of vintage country vinyl. Though I found it really annoying as a U2 loving young man, I have even come to appreciate his musical taste.

So when I write a post titled "The Best Song in the World" you better believe I mean it.

This song, today, in my humble opinion is Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac




















Gypsy


So Im back, to the velvet underground
Back to the floor, that I love
To a room with some lace and paper flowers
Back to the gypsy that I was
To the gypsy... that I was

And it all comes down to you
Well, you know that it does
Well, lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
Ah, and it lights up the night
And you see your gypsy
You see your gypsy

To the gypsy that remains faces freedom with a little fear
I have no fear, I have only love
And if I was a child
And the child was enough
Enough for me to love
Enough to love

She is dancing away from me now
She was just a wish
She was just a wish
And a memory is all that is left for you now
You see your gypsy
You see your gypsy

Lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
And it all comes down to you

And it all comes down to you

Lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
And it all comes down to you

I still see your bright eyes, bright eyes
And it all comes down to you
I still see your bright eyes, bright eyes
And it all comes down to you

I still see your bright eyes, bright eyes
(she was just a wish)
(she was just a wish)
And it all comes down to you

Lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
And it all comes down to you



Today was one of the few days this year I drove rather than rode to work. As I drove home in the Galaxie after dark, windows down, Gypsy came on. And when Stevies' vocal dropped to nearly inaudible levels at the end of the word "velvet" and the beginning of the word "underground" I was transported to a place I may never have been, but remember just the same. I remember hearing this song as a little boy, as though it were part of the soundtrack of my childhood. I remember a teenage Carlos telling my dad he'd be back in "half an hour" and how suddenly a light went on and I understood what that meant. I remember how brightly Carlos shone before my adoring eyes, how cool he was, and how kind. I don't know if any of this is even real because Carlos was something like 18 years old when I was born, but the memories drive with me as my car rolls across the texture of the road, and the texture of Lindsey Buckinghams finger picking and John McVies Bass.

And I can't help but think that this has got to be the best song in the world as for four minutes and twenty five seconds I am back to the child I was, and Carlos is my unblemished hero. Back years before I learned about the drugs, before I saw the door to his daughters bedroom smashed from its hinges, before I knew anything about him but the feelings this song evokes in me.

I remember Carlos as the one who drove his Trans-Am from Provo to Salt Lake in something like 17 minutes flat, and whose girlfriend cross-stitched me a picture of a little boy fishing.

My big brother

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I just yawned and my daughter said, "Daddy, your breath smells."

"Does it smell yucky?"

"No, it smells like another persons breath. It smells like a person who does Spanish."

Thanks for clearing that up. I guess I'll have to stop brushing my teeth with refried beans. Actually, I have been eating at Maria Bonita lately, so maybe she's onto something.
This is the best craigslist ad ever! (Click to see full-size)

The first time I saw a picture of Sarah Palin, I said to myself, "That lady looks just like Peggy Hill! I should blog about that."

But then I didn't.

A few days later I decided to google "Sarah Palin Peggy Hill" and I found that about one million other bloggers had beaten me to the punch.

Nevertheless, for your edification I present two pictures I stole from the internet:




























Then I found a blogger who took it to the next level and pointed out this resemblance:

































Pretty good stuff.
Though I've been blogging for a while now, and I can be found linked on other fine blogs, I still haven't put any other blogs in my sidebar. I lurk on several other blogs but seldom comment. Am I a selfish blogger? A blog snob?

I hope not.

I'm not sure where I fit in in the blogosphere. First off, I have testicles. That in and of itself (themselves?) is enough to make me feel marginalized in this society.

Sometimes I feel like I just walked in on a baby shower. Awkward.

I don't want to be an unwelcome guest at anybody's party. I just want to tell the funny and sometimes sad, often disturbing stories of my life.

However. . .

I want to mention that I truly wish Christian and Stephanie and their children and extended family the very best. I don't know them, but I know that a lot of gracious bloggers out there who sometimes visit my corner of cyberspace do know and love them. I hope that I have friends like you, and I hope I never have to find that out through tragedy.

So that's all I have to say.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Part IV (read the first three parts below.)
They've Resorted to Telemarketing


A couple of days ago I got an interesting phone call. The conversation went like this:

"Hi, I was just driving by and saw your store. What kind of scooters do you sell?"

"We sell a couple of major brands. Prices range from about $2700 to $4500."

"Well it's gonna get cold soon. How many scooters do you sell per month in the Winter?"

"I don't see how that could possibly be relevant to this conversation."

"Well let me tell you what I do. For the past 15 years I've been working with companies to bring products in from China. I have brought in all sorts of consumer goods. Some are sold in Wal Mart. But I've been importing scooters lately. I don't know if you're familiar with Motobravo?"

"You mean the scooters being sold by the guy who's going to prison for mortgage fraud? Yeah, I've heard of 'em."

My reply threw him off his game momentarily, but he soon continued, "I helped those guys as well as other businesses like yours to source those products. I speak fluent Mandarin, and I know my way around. I can help you get some of those scooters too."

"Frankly Sir, if I wanted to sell Chinese scooters, I could have been importing them myself for the past six years."

"Actually, that isn't true. You see, I speak the language and I know how to find the best deals. I have years of experience. Importing them yourself is like marrying the first girl you date. . ."

I interrupted him at this point. "Actually I could import them myself. I get emails every day from the factories in China. They all speak enough English anyway, and besides that, throw a rock in the air in Utah County and you'll hit a 'direct Chinese importer' on the head. Like I said, If I wanted to import the garbage you import, I could do it without your help."

I think he hung up at that point, which is a shame because he missed a long tirade about how he better have really good insurance and how he better have his scooters EPA certified, and about the severe penalties associated with importing non-EPA compliant products. I think he would have found it fascinating.
Part III (if you haven't read the first parts read them first below.)
The Flamethrower

The next story began a couple of months ago. A girl who looked like a female Napoleon Dynamite came in with a friend looking for a helmet. (They had been in before looking at scooters, but didn't buy.) When I asked what kind of scooter she had, she told me she had just purchased a Motobravo. (A little background: Motobravo is not a brand. It is nothing more than a sticker being applied to a generic Chinese P.O.S. scooter being imported by some of the fine individuals that helped make Utah the Mortgage Fraud Capitol of the West.)

Sometimes I'm more charitable towards Chinese scooter owners. This was not one of those times. I asked her why she didn't buy a scooter from us. She said she couldn't afford it. So I asked how much she paid for the scooter. She said $1200. I said, "Can you afford to have a twelve-hundred dollar decoration in your driveway?" She looked puzzled so I continued, "Did you know that they buy those things for around five hundred bucks? Did you do any research before you bought it?"

"Well, my friend who knows about scooters said it was a pretty good one."

"Is your friend going to fix it when it breaks? Because the guy who sold it to you on the side of the road, without a dealers license, or insurance, or a store, or spare parts, is going to be too busy laughing all the way to the bank to help you out."

Well, she didn't like being insulted to her face, but she didn't know quite what to say, so I decided to be sporting about it. "Look," I said, "I'll make a deal with you. I'll bet you twenty bucks that your scooter will break down within thirty days. If it doesn't I'll pay you twenty dollars. But if it does, I'll just add it to your repair bill."

Fast forward 30 days. I still hadn't heard from her. So I called her up and said that I owed her $20. She said that it was ok, her mom taught her not to gamble, so she wasn't going to hold me to it. I said that she should just hop on her scooter and come collect the money fair and square, but she was gracious enough to decline. Out of curiosity I asked how many miles were on her scooter and she said about a hundred. I laughed and said that next time I made a bet like that I would have to have a mileage stipulation. A hundred miles in a month is pretty low.

Fast forward a few weeks more. I was standing in front of the store watching someone on a test ride, when this cute blonde runs across State street and says, "Hi, remember me?" I didn't. "You made a bet with my friend that her scooter would break."

"Yeah" I said, "I guess she won. She said the scooter never broke down."

"Well actually, It just broke down across the street. Can you come take a look at it?"

While we waited to cross the street I made conversation.

"At least she won the bet. Though when I called her she had only ridden about a hundred miles."

"Uhmm, well, the speedometer broke a while ago" she sheepishly admitted, but then she added, "but this is the first time it has actually stopped running."

I chuckled to myself as we crossed the street. When I saw the scooter the first thing that caught my eye was the gasoline leaking all over the ignition coil. I removed the rubber boot thats supposed to protect the wires from moisture and a few ounces of gas poured out. I said, "You're lucky this didn't start a fire. Two Chinese scooters have started on fire in my shop this year." (True story. I had to buy new extinguishers because of them.)

The girl who owned the scooter was also at the scene with a can of gas in hand. She insisted the scooter wasn't leaking and that she had just spilled a little gas when she topped it off. I watched it for a while and the steady flow of gas didn't really diminish. She insisted it didn't leak gas, but that was clearly the problem. When the gas had finally leaked down below the defect in the tank, it stopped. I dried off the ignition coil wiring and the scooter started right up. I reiterated how lucky they were that the scooter had stopped rather than gone up in flames. I showed them how when I shook the scooter a bit, gas would leak again because it was splashing up into the area where the leak was. The owner finally admitted that maybe it had leaked gas once before. She then said that one of the brakes didn't work but her friend (probably the same idiot who told her it was a good scooter) had told her that it was just because it was leaking brake fluid. There was so much wrong with that statement I didn't know where to begin. "Well, that brake is your rear brake and it's not hydraulic, so it can't be due to a brake fluid leak. I looked at the cable adjuster and found that it had never been tightened up. After tightening it I looked at the "brake fluid leak" by the front wheel. Thankfully, it wasn't brake fluid leaking. It was just one of the front shock absorbers leaking oil. That problem is a sure fire way to fail a safety inspection, but it's not as bad as a brake fluid leak. Also while looking at the front wheel I saw that the speedometer pinion had basically fallen apart, which explains the defunct speedometer/odometer. It had stopped with 110 miles on the clock.

So now I'm fixing her scooter. It took a lot of effort, but I didn't say "I told you so." No, it was too painfully obvious to everyone how right I was. The scooter is less than two months old and has a leaky gas tank, a broken speedometer, a leaky shock absorber, and a brake cable that the "dealer" never bothered to adjust properly. I hope they realize how lucky they are just to be alive.
Part II (see part I below)
Dave Gets Ornery

This past Saturday morning we got several calls by some people in South Jordan who wanted to buy a blue Buddy125. Everyone working spoke to these people at least once. When I spoke with them, they told me that they were "willing to consider" buying from us, because the dealer in Salt Lake was out of stock on the scooter they wanted for a few more days, but "only if we would match the other stores price and throw in a free helmet too." I informed the customer that I knew for a fact that our price was already nearly $200 less than the other store, and that if they didn't buy it for full price that day, someone else would surely buy it the following day. (That's how it is with the Buddy125, we sell them as fast as we can get them in.)

He didn't like that answer and hung up on me. But his wife called back within the hour and Taylor was the lucky one that answered the phone. Taylor is 15 years old, a great guy, and he treats everyone with courtesy, enthusiasm, and respect. I don't know what he told them, but they must have felt encouraged because they told him they'd be in within the hour. (Taylor was pretty excited. He didn't know that Lee and I had both spoken with the same people and that they were just trying to find the softest person to exploit with their two-bit jedi mind tricks.)

When they showed up, we had a line of customers to help. Of course I didn't know who they were, but I greeted them and told them someone would be with them as soon as possible. The lady angrily replied, "Well we're just waiting for someone to tell us about scooters!" To which I said, "I'll be happy to help you as soon as I can."

A minute later I approached her and said that I was ready to help them. She said she wanted to talk to Taylor. I said that he was out at the moment but that we don't work on commission and I could help her. She said, "Show me the blue Buddy."

"Oh," I said, "you're the people from South Jordan. I've spoken with you on the phone." (At this point my customer service skills went straight to hell. We had already wasted enough time on the phone with these tire-kickers, and if she thought she was going to score points with me by having a nasty attitude, she thought wrong.)

She snarled, "You spoke to my husband." (Thanks for clearing that up, ma'am, I'm a little rusty on the finer points of gender differentiation.) And then she walked over to one of the Buddy150's, which had a huge "SOLD" sign on it, and said, "What about this one?"

I replied "It's sold."

"When will you get more of them?"

"Probably a few weeks. They sell faster than we can get them. Most of the Buddies are sold before they get here. This latest shipment just came in yesterday and as you can see, several are already sold"

"Well how can they be sold before they get here?"

"Because people pay for them in advance. That's how they make sure they get one."

I was hoping that at some point in this conversation these people would realize the implications of "supply and demand" but they didn't. And since I wasn't about to go into another brass tacks negotiation with her husband, I turned and walked away.

We then proceeded to ignore them until they left. Call me the Scoot Nazi if you want, but when you act like a jackass, "No Scoot For You!"

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The following stories are all kind-of related, but taken at once it's a long read, so I'm breaking them down into four installments.

Part I
Enter The Dragon


Two men came into the store to see if I would buy their used scooter. One guy was grizzled and leathery. He had the skin tone of a chain-smoker, tanned and loose. His ragged shirt with torn-off sleeves was unbuttoned halfway down his wrinkly chest. His arms were covered with old, faded tattoos. They were the variety of tattoo you would see on members of the Manson family: Cryptic symbols and words, haphazardly spattered over the forearms-- like he had done it himself with a needle and a bic pen.

This guy was interesting, but the second guy even more so. He had curly white hair in a sort-of mullet, like a mall Santa in the off-season, or like a slightly more flamboyant Kenny Rogers. He was portly, but not jolly. He wore a flannel shirt and jeans, and in his arm he cradled a little chihuahua, Paris HIlton style.

They approached me and asked if I would buy a "Kwinchki" scooter. I think they meant Quingqi, a Chinese Sh$%box of unparalleled crappiness. I matter-of-factly said no, and the first guy asked me why. I explained that they were really crummy scooters and I could buy them new for less than $300. They left, the first guy muttering something about "less than $300" under his breath.

They were such an odd combination, that taken together I can only assume that at some point the pair were crowned King and Queen of a Prison Prom.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I've been trying to persuade myself to write more frequently. So I'm writing in hopes that something halfway entertaining will come out, but I'm not very optimistic about it. I've been re-imagining my blog a little bit these past several months. A lot of the anonymity of blogging has vanished. I've gotten in trouble more than once with people who have read things here that offended them. I don't want to censor my comments all the time for fear some cyber-stranger will take offense and demand an apology. I like publishing my opinions and telling my stories. It's really discouraging that I have to be accountable for them in real life. I guess I better get used to it.

One obvious remedy is to use fake names for people, but that only goes far enough to prevent people from finding my blog by random googling. If they read this, they'll know I'm talking about them anyway, so I can't be as bold as I'd like to be. Meanwhile I'm getting two paragraphs into this post and still no entertaining anecdotes have sprung out of my brain.

If you're still reading this, you are a real trooper. I can't believe anybody would read this far into an obviously empty post. Give yourself a pat on the back. Nice work.

Anybody watching the olympics? I've only seen a little bit. I think the athletes are all a bit crazy. I admire them, but at the same time I think they're a little out-of-round if you know what I mean.

I was on the swim team my first year of high school. Our school didn't actually have a pool, so every day our team rode the bus to our rival school and we trained there. It was good to be part of the team. I enjoyed it a lot. I wasn't bad either. I probably would have been pretty good if I had stuck with it, but I became too depressed to keep it up.

Well, this is so boring I'm depressing myself. I think I'll go eat some cookies now, or stick my head in the oven, or something.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Anglerfish live deep in the ocean, in the darkest abyss. They are known for having scary fangs and skeletal faces, blind eyes, and dangly lures hanging from appendages in front of their mouths. But what you may not know is that some anglerfish have strange breeding methods.

From Wikipedia:
At birth, male ceratioids are already equipped with extremely well developed olfactory organs that detect scents in the water. When it is mature, the male's digestive system degenerates, making him incapable of feeding independently, which necessitates his quickly finding a female anglerfish to prevent his death. The sensitive olfactory organs help the male to detect the pheromones that signal the proximity of a female anglerfish. When he finds a female, he bites into her skin, and releases an enzyme that digests the skin of his mouth and her body, fusing the pair down to the blood-vessel level. The male then atrophies into nothing more than a pair of gonads, which releases sperm in response to hormones in the female's bloodstream indicating egg release. This extreme sexual dimorphism ensures that, when the female is ready to spawn, she has a mate immediately available.

Did you catch that? Basically the male anglerfish bites onto a female and then atrophies into nothing more than a pair of gonads! And this is so that when the female is ready to breed she's got sperm immediately available. It's like having portable testicles, "pocket nuts" if you prefer.

This reminds me of two things: The first is that song by King Missile called "Detatchable Penis." Ten points to anyone who remembers that song. The second is what it feels like to be a man when your mate is trying to get pregnant. . .

. . . reduced to little more than a pair of gonads.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My wife coined a word that needs to become part of the English lexicon.

Apocochondria: Noun. An irrational fear of the apocalypse. Symptoms of apocochondria include stockpiling dry goods, ammunition, and firearms. Apocochondriacs are mostly harmless, and prepared in ways that are useful, but they live so focused on a fearsome future that they cannot control, that they often lose control of themselves in the process.
A couple of Saturdays ago I was standing in front of the store with the front door open talking to a customer. Suddenly a brown streak passed between us and into the store. I didn't get a good look, but the customer said it was a squirrel. I thought it was strange for a squirrel to run into our store in the middle of the day on the busiest street in the county. We have lots of more natural habitat here in Utah than inside a scooter shop.

The following day I got an alarm call. Having forgotten the squirrel, I rushed to the store to check things out. I didn't find anything amiss, but while looking around I heard the sound of an angry woodland creature cursing from the back room. I put two and two together and decided to lock back up and go home.

On Monday I went in early to meet with CFO-Lee. As we were going over the budget, we heard the woodland creature cursing. When we went into the back room to check it out, we saw it scurrying around behind the shelves. We decided it would be our store mascot, and as a matter of business we appointed it to the board of directors and named it vice president of international sales.

Tuesday morning I was also early. After going over some paperwork I decided it was about time to open up the store for business. But first I had some business to take care of in the restroom. As I approached the door I heard faint splashing sounds. Here is what I saw when I opened the door:



The poor little bastard was nearly drowned. After taking pictures I fished it out and wrapped it in a towel to dry off and get warm. It was surprisingly docile and sweet. . . until it got warm. Then it went all Kung-Fu on me and literally tried to kill me when I stroked it's back with a piece of straw. I had to let it go. Needless to say we are going to be looking for a new V.P. of International Sales.

In other news: I was working on a scooter a couple of days ago that seemed to have a clogged exhaust pipe. This sometimes happens due to excessive carbon buildup. But in this case, there appeared to be dry grass and brush stuck in the outlet of the pipe. After being unable to remove it with a pick, I connected my compressed air hose to the inlet and let it blow. At first nothing happened, and no air came out, but suddenly there was a loud POP and a stinky cloud of brush, seed hulls, and grey mouse-bits exploded from the pipe. There's a fairly good chance I have the Hanta virus now.

This was a scooter that was just in for a "tune-up." In case you were wondering, a tune-up involves replacing the spark plug, cleaning or replacing the air filter, and changing necessary fluids. It does not include removing cooked vermin from your exhaust system.

The sure fire way to know if a scooter needs serious repairs, is if the customer asks for a "tune-up." This generally indicates that the scooter is on the verge of breaking in half or bursting into flames.

In fact, every day I am faced with the difficult task of interpreting the following sentence: "Can you guys do a tune-up on my scooter?" Sounds pretty straightforward right? Wrong. It depends if by "scooter" you mean a motorized skateboard, a scooter, or an electric mobility chair, and if by "tune up" you mean perform routine maintenance, or unload an entire fire extinguisher on your flame-throwing carburetor. (By the way, this really happens sometimes. I have seen two Chinese scooters this year burst into flames when we've attempted to start them. Next time I'll get a picture.)

I do have one other picture to show you. I was up until 2:30 AM one recent night trying to catch up on some repairs. One scooter had no spark and I had the thing all taken apart testing the various circuits and connections when I finally found the problem. The kill switch was wired backwards. When switched to "ON" it was off, and "OFF" was on. I was very irritated. Imagine if your car left the factory that way. How long would it take Toyota to do a recall? But this kind of crap happens all the time with the cheap Chinese scooters. How am I supposed to explain the bill to the customer? "The factory wired your switch wrong. Since the place you bought the scooter from is out of business and there was never any warranty on it, you have to pay half of what the scooter cost in the first place because I had to test the entire ignition system to chase down the problem. Thanks for your business."

I chose a more passive-aggressive route.


Scootard:  noun

Definition: Me

Friday, July 18, 2008

Recently I learned a new word: Lactivist

From some online dictionary:
Lactivism (portmanteau of "lactation" and "activism") is a term used to describe the advocacy of breastfeeding.[1] Advocates, referred to as "lactivists", seek to promote the health benefits of breastfeeding over formula-feeding and to ensure that nursing mothers are not discriminated against.[1][2]
One form that lactivism can take is the staging of a "nurse-in" (a play on "sit-in"), which involves women gathering in public to breastfeed their children, usually to protest incidents in which a nursing mother was asked to cover up or leave a location because she was breastfeeding.[3][4][5]
Often during nurse-ins, breastfeeding mothers will sometimes wear clothing with the International Breastfeeding Symbol on it, to show their solidarity.[6]


I had never realized breastfeeding was such serious business. Learning about it got me thinking about all the meaningful breastmilk related experiences that have shaped my life, and I'm not just talking about the time my cat Spot tried to suck on my nipple either. (That was awkward.)

For example, when I was on my mission in Texas there was this single mom named Carmen Baltazar that used to invite the missionaries to dinner a lot. The thing was, she used to nurse her littlest bastard (named after me no less), right in front of us all the time. She'd be standing there in her doorway with her boob hanging out, kid lazily lapping up the flow, talking about who knows what, and I'd be trying to do anything but look her in the eye (or nipple). The worst part was that she lived right across the street from a gay bar called The Hidden Door. This was not the type of gay bar frequented by young, well-groomed Erasure fans. It was a seedy dive bar that catered to dirty-old-trucker Village People types.

I was faced with exposed motherly boobs on one side, and parking lot gay hookups on the other.

But I got off easy compared to a District Leader I had. He was once teaching a discussion and the lady of the house began nursing her baby. He riveted his eyes on the reading materials in the discussion, until he heard the womans children giggling. He looked up and saw that the baby had let loose the nipple, and the mother was playfully squirting the babys face with her milk. Then she began squirting her other kids. Then the unthinkable happened. The mother noticed the look of absolute horror on his face, and so she took aim and sent a stream of milk across the room and hit him in the arm.

Thinking about these experiences led me to conduct a scientific poll on public breastfeeding. I asked all the women in my household between the ages of 32 and 34 what they thought about it.

Here are the comments:
"I don't particularly like seeing some other womans breast. It's not my favorite thing."

"It's natural, but so is peeing."

Don't get me wrong, I love boobs. I think boobs are the best thing ever. And I'm all for breastfeeding too. I don't even mind if you whip it out right in front of me. I'll avert my eyes and play it cool. Just don't stand there and talk to me as if there isn't a huge lactating elephant in the room, so to speak. Also, please don't squirt me.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I know the last post was weird. It's only funny if you happen to be familiar with the late great Wesley Willis, and have known the joy of owning a Ford Windstar.

Here's something with a wider appeal:

New Scooter Lounge Commercial

hope you like it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

I hate salespeople. Not all salespeople. That would be hypocritical of me since I sell scooters for a living. But I hate the salespeople that interrupt business to try to pitch things to me. I don't care if you're selling cleaning products or advertising, you should not come into my store and make demands on my time. I don't come into your living room and try to sell you a scooter do I?

One time a young woman came into the store and tried to sell me some crappy dream catchers to help keep Christian kids off the streets. She seemed a little retarded so I spoke slowly when I told her I wasn't interested. Not five minutes later I was behind the store and I heard her on the other side of the fence talking on the phone. She wasn't retarded at all.

Another time I actually bought some "Green Apple Advanage" cleaner. (Yes, they spell it that way.) I only bought it because the salesperson was a black man who did a little comedy routine about how it was biodegradable and you could drink it and it tastes like apples but gives you the squirts. He said things like, "yessuh" and "nosuh" and his whole song and dance was pretty good. Afterwards I felt bad for falling for it though because he was just acting the part of a subservient southern black man, and it may have worked because on some level I might be racist. That caused me some introspection for a while. So I decided to kick him out just as angrily as I would a white guy next time he comes by.

I've fallen for some pretty stupid stuff over the years, but I think I'm finally getting wise. Salespeople all use the same aphorisms, bad math, and hollow promises to convince you that you should buy what they're selling. If you think it's bad at home, try owning a business. We get telemarketers and door-to-door people all day long. Lately the telemarketers aren't even real people, they're recordings! It's so bad lately that I want to scream. It is interfering with our ability to do business.

Yesterday our fridge broke and I had to go buy a part to fix it. I was the only customer in the store and I had to wait for help because a very pushy saleslady was trying to get the business owner to renew his yellow pages ad. I heard him explain to her over and over that he didn't want to do it. She kept on telling him the same things about how people don't throw their book away, how businesses get a really good return on their investment, and how she'd even give him a discount. Finally he said, "Look, I don't want you to sell me this right now. I just want you to take no for an answer."

She got offended and said, "Okay, if that's what you want. We won't put your ad in this book this year. It's your choice if you don't want your business to grow. I don't have to beg people to be in this book. People want to be in this book. Blah, Blah, Guilt trip, Blah. . . "

She finally left and I bought my part and went on my way.

Later at work, at an extremely busy moment I noticed two guys in ties holding yellow pages books trying to get my attention. I wasn't about to be double-teamed by a couple of pushy douchebags. I had neither the time nor the patience. So I pulled out a secret weapon I've been holding onto for several years, too scared to use it. It's a powerful question that when used properly will allow you to go nuclear on anyone pushing you to do anything. It's so powerful I've always been afraid to use it for fear of vaporizing the salespeople in such a blinding flash of light that their shadows would be printed on the walls of my store.

I approached them and asked if they were together. They said yes. (A twofer!) So I asked them the question:

"Is there a really nice way for me to say no?"

They were taken off guard. A momentary stupor crossed their faces. Then one of them, with a hearty fake laugh, said, "No you have to be really rude."

"Okay then, GET THE HELL OUT OF MY STORE." I said it calmly but forcefully.

"Are you serious?"

"YES."

And that was it. Eviscerated. Disemboweled. Leveled.

I clapped my hands and bowed before employees and customers. "And that, my friends, is how you get rid of salespeople," I said. I was downright giddy. It was awesome!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The first thing I remember Sunday morning is the sound of my little girl telling me to wake up because the dog had pooped on the floor. My wife was at work. It was up to me to handle it, but I slept in anyway.

I don't know how much longer I snoozed, but I jumped right out of bed when I heard one of the boys say something about there being a lot of poo upstairs.

They were right.

As luck would have it, there was a tremendous pile in the upstairs living room, and a couple of hershey's kiss sized turds on the family room carpet downstairs.

After surveying the damage, I sent a text to my wife:
The dog crapped all over the house

Her reply:
Did you barf?

To which I responded:
No, but there's a staggering payload in the living room

Throughout this ordeal I kept thinking of the Homer Simpson quote I've cited here before: "Animals are crapping in our houses and we're picking it up! Did we lose a war? This isn't America. This isn't even Mexico!"

What has become of my self-respect? I'm about one step away from being the guy who follows his dog around with a plastic bag over his hand, waiting for the bestowal of a juicy gift to collect. Is there anything more pathetic? If I ever do that, you have my permission to kick me square in the crotch.

You may be wondering why the first thing my wife did was ask me if I threw up. The truth is, I have a very sensitive gag reflex. She knows this only too well. With her stuck at work for 12 hours, it was my job to get the kids dressed, fed and off to church. I imagine she was afraid that with crap all over the house and me incapacitated by dry heaves, I might have a little difficulty with the tasks at hand.

Precedent sides with her on this. About a month ago all of us were unexpectedly gone from early morning to late evening. I was stuck at work and she and the kids were someplace else. I had the dubious honor of being the first one home. As I opened the door I steeled myself for the mess I was sure I'd find. After all, nobody had let the dog out all day.

At first glance I was relieved. I thought the kitchen floor would be a linoleum-lined piss pond, but actually there was only a small puddle of the warm, foamy stink-syrup our dog calls urine. I wiped up this pleasant surprise with hardly a twitch. But then I went to check the basement.

Right smack in the middle of the middle stair was a doggy-doo double-wraparound. It began as a typical dry, easy-to-clean turd, but each turn was a turn for the worse and the tail end was drippy and runny. I dry heaved and ran upstairs to get cleaning supplies. In the bathroom mirror I did my best to psych myself up. It's just poo, it's just poo. . .


But as soon as I laid eyes on it again the battle was lost, as was my lunch, all over the stairs.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Blogger Blogger Blogger

What do I have for you today? Not a whole heck of a lot. No adventures. No funny stories. Nothing but redundant snowstorms and freezing my butt off.

I did start doing pushups in the mornings.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A few items:

First, thanks to the power of the internet, I was able to collect some money I otherwise never would have been paid, from an individual who makes a career out of ripping off small businesses. I'm not going to publicize the ordeal any further here. But since my use of the internet was such an effective means of gaining the upper hand in this situation, I would be happy to assist anyone in similar circumstances to utilize the blogosphere the way I did. Feel free to contact me at the store. The phone number is listed on thescooterlounge.com

Score 4750 for me and the internet. 0 for the douchebag con-artist.

Second, I'm going to be changing things around a little bit in the near future. In order to provide more useful content to customers of my store, I'm going to switch to a blog format that will exclusively involve scooter-related "how-to" materials and other related articles.

For those of you who enjoy reading my blog for the non-scooter-related stuff that I always wind up writing, I will continue blogging and I hope you enjoy reading. The address may change though, I haven't decided.

Third, I just learned that President Hinckley passed away this evening. I don't care who you are or what your faith may be, Gordon B. Hinckley was a great man and a true exemplar of living right. I'm sad to learn of his passing.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Yesterday I got a catalog in the mail from one of those companies that sells personalized pens and beer cozies. They had a keychain with a logo bearing the word "POOLIFE" on it. I thought it was a joke so I googled it and found this disturbing tidbit.

Yep, it's a real company. I don't know how this name got past the focus groups and onto their business cards, products and letterhead. Didn't anyone notice? How could they miss it? Did somebody think it was clever? '"Let's think of a name that conveys the relaxed lifestyle of swimming pool ownership. Hmm. . . maybe we could combine the words "pool" and "life."' Is that how POOLIFE was born? Because I don't look at that name and see "pool" and "life." Am I the only one who sees POO LIFE? Doesn't that sort of conjure up the opposite image of the pool lifestyle? Is this stuff supposed to kill germs or preserve them?

Here's one of my favorite products in their "arsenal":


Which slogan do you think is better:
POOLIFE: For the Poo in your Pool
or
POOLIFE: Adding Poo to your life