Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My surgery didn't happen on the Monday I said it would because the surgeon that was scheduled to assist broke his hand snowboarding.  So the procedure was postponed until Wednesday the 9th of December.  I was in the hospital until the following Sunday, then came home.

I'm now feeling near fully recovered.

Thanks everyone for your prayers and support.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's finally done.  I now officially have only one kidney.The procedure was done laparoscopically, which is supposed to mean a speedier recovery and less pain.

So far I feel okay.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

So I'm finally getting my kidney removed on Monday.  I'm actually pretty excited.  I'm looking forward to the rest, and having meals brought to me while I watch TV.

The Dr. is going to try to do a hand-assisted laparoscopic procedure.  This means a small incision below my belly button, and two ports for the laparoscopic instruments.  In the event that my kidney won't fit through the hole, they'll have to do an "open" surgery in which they will make a pretty big incision on my side and back.  Hopefully they can do it laparoscopically and the recovery will go more smoothly.

My arm is getting better.  I'm supposed to still wear the splint and sling, but I actually seldom do.  Today I replaced the front brakes on our van.  When I raised the hood to look at the brake fluid level, I did it with my left arm and realized that I had made progress.  Over the last month I have had to raise the hood a couple of times and it has been really hard to do.  I couldn't do it with my left arm, so I had to raise it with the right, then support it with my head while I put up the prop-rod with my right also.  It was nice to be able to use my left arm, even for something so mundane.

I think that by the time I'm recovered from the surgery, my arm will be pretty much all better.  Still some soreness in the shoulder, but that will get better with time.

This experience has been a roller coaster so far.  When I found out about my kidney I got pretty depressed for a few days.  I even told my 8 year old son that I thought this might be the end for me.  (stupid, stupid, stupid!)  But I feel so much better these days.  I feel very optimistic and hopeful.  I feel like this really has been the worst year ever.  But the year is nearly over.  I feel overwhelmed at the outpouring of love and support from friends, family, and strangers.

2010 will be the best year ever, mark my words.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Here's the latest in the giant kidney saga:
A renal scan showed some function in the giant kidney, but not enough to outweigh the negatives.  However, during the scan I experienced pain in my good kidney, so the doctor ordered another test.  It was called a Bilateral Retrograde Cystoscopy.  I was completely unconscious during the procedure, but it was cold in the O.R. and I may or may not have shouted, "I was in the pool!" at a group of giggling nurses.
This test revealed a small tumor in my bladder and a healthy good kidney.  The tumor turned out to be benign (insert sigh of relief here) but in the interim the Dr. noticed a cyst on my good kidney in the previous CT scan. So this morning I had an ultrasound on it to make sure it wasn't something scary, because apparently a simple cyst on the kidney isn't anything to worry about.  The test was good, so now I'm going to be scheduled for surgery to have the gigantic kidney removed.  Hopefully I'll be all recovered around the same time my arm gets better and I'll be able to get back to my normal routine-- minus the mexican coke.  Gotta take extra good care of my one remaining kidney.

I want to thank everyone for your prayers and support.  There have been miracles in this ordeal, not the least of which is feeling the love of friends, family, and God.  Thank you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On this day ten years ago we started down a road I had longed to walk my entire life, and I had wanted to walk it with you as long as I had known you.  But in spite of that lifelong desire to walk this road, I was ill equipped to do so.

Now, ten years in, I am filled with regrets and rejoicing all at once.  I regret so many bad choices, miserable failures, and angry words.  And I look at myself and at my failures and I wonder what there is in all that mess worth redeeming, worth salvaging when it's so obvious that I have failed.  Yet I rejoice in our abiding love for each other and for our children.  I rejoice in our family, the collective greatness that anchors us in spite of individual weakness.

This year I have come to appreciate the power of the family.  It's something hard to describe.  Though there are numerous examples in nature that illustrate how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, yet in the living of it, in the flood of the experience, the magnificence defies description.  I love our family.  I am proud of our family.  There is safety in our family.

And so we continue down this road:  now much better equipped and much more aware.  We are a little worn but not jaded.  We are refined by our trials.

And the most important thing I want you to know as we continue, hand in hand, is that had I known it would be this hard, I would still have begun that walk with you.  Had I known the challenges we would face together, I would still have chosen you.  In the mess of myself that I often survey, there is one shining thing to salvage and it is the me that I can be when you are by my side.  It glimmers like a pearl in the mire.

I love you Kaerlig.  Thank you for being my family.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

I have a gigantic kidney.  All the doctors are like, "That's one impressive kidney." and "Holy cow!" and "I've never seen a kidney that large."

And I'm holding up my right hand high (because my left arm is broken) and I'm like, "High Five!" because what else do you say to a doctor who tells you your kidney is gigantic?

Here is my impressive kidney (it's the big blob on the left smashing my liver into a thin paté).  It's about as big as a football (a NFL football). 

I wasn't feeling too hot and the doctor sent me to the hospital to get a "virtual weiner" (as my 8 year old calls it).

It is a tube placed into the kidney to drain it (a Nephrostomy tube).  I told the nurse that a nephrostomy sounds like a refreshing beverage.  It could be because I was extremely thirsty at the time after not eating or drinking for about 3 days.

Imagine 1.5 liters of urine hanging out in your kidney with no place to go.  Imagine the relief you would feel if this was in your bladder and you finally peed.  That's how I felt after getting this out.

My wife made me smile for this picture...but for the first time in several days I could actually kind of do it.

P.S.  This post was written with a lot of help from my wife Kaerlig who has been gracious enough to do a lot of things for me these past days, including giving me an enema which we have agreed to never speak of again.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Thursday morning I fell off a ladder and broke my arm.  typing with one hand sucks.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

In case I came off like an arrogant turd in my last post, I'll clear things up by interpreting my own dream.

1.  I like The Arcade Fire.  A lot.  I wish I could hang out with them.
2.  I'm actually very insecure and shy around high-profile people.  I was even more insecure as a teenager.
3.  In my dream I was a teenager, hanging out with cool people, and they liked me.

So in case you thought I just dream about how awesome I think I am, please understand it's actually the opposite.  In this case, I dreamed about not being as insecure and pathetic as I used to be.  I think it's kind of funny how I won them over by talking about being insecure.

By the way, did I mention I'm insecure?

Will you be my friend?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Last night I had a dream that The Arcade Fire came to my house (only it wasn't my house, but my mom's pre-remodel house) and hung out with me.  I was still a teenager, but I was way cooler than I was in real life.  Win thought I was cool and Regine became infatuated with me.  Win wasn't jealous though because of how cool I was.  The other members of the band were there too and they also thought I was cool, but I don't remember their names.

I remember sitting next to Regine on the couch and telling her how when I wanted to speak to someone, I became so self-conscious that I analyzed my words to the point of being unable to speak, and that this introspective tendency of mine was a self-perpetuating cycle.  She ate it up.

I don't know the interpretation of this dream, but I'm pretty sure that if you don't like The Arcade Fire, I don't want to be your friend anymore. 

Sunday, September 06, 2009

It seems like it's been about a hundred years since I last posted. (How many posts start out with a variation of that sentence?)

I think I'll get a late start on my edumacation.

This is why I have a blog:

I like to write. I think I express myself better in writing than I do in person. At least I flatter myself to think so. But depending on the situation I can do pretty well in person too.

But it wasn't always that way. I used to have a really hard time talking to people in person. Was I making too much eye contact or too little? Was I saying "like" too much? Was there a booger on my face? And what the heck am I supposed to be doing with my hands? Pockets? Gestures? Straight down at my sides? Do I look awkward? Is my zipper down?

I think my mission helped me get more comfortable in my own skin. But nevertheless, writing is still more comfortable for me.  You don't have the luxury of the delete key in person.

So the short answer is that I like to talk, so I blog.  But there's more to it than that.

At first my blog was a place for me to vent my frustrations.  I didn't think anyone would ever read it, and I didn't care.  Then one day Jet Set Carina commented and I had an audience.

I started telling funny stories from my high school days.  This was partly because I went to high school with Carina and partly because high school was so traumatic.

Things went along pretty well like that for a while.  But then my blog hit stage 3 of blog development.  People I told stories about started reading my blog and sometimes getting angry.  (If you're keeping score, stage 1 was "no audience", stage 2 was "fun audience" and stage 3 was "angry audience")

Maybe those of you who have moved past stage three can help me out, because I still want to tell a lot of stories, sometimes at the expense of friends, neighbors and strangers, because there are funny and stupid things everybody does, and because self-deprecation, though my target is wide, is often more difficult to pull off.

But I don't want another episode like the altercation I had with my wife's grandfather over the things I said about the colossal douchenozzle Rick Koerber, so I keep my mouth shut.

I'll have to tell you about that incident sometime.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Get ready for your testimony to get ROCKED!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The above pictures are from an article in Zions Bank Community magazine. Pretty cool. You can read the article here. Just ignore the remarks by Giovanni Del Douchbaggio. He doesn't know what he's talking about.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Today my wife told me that for every Mexican Coke I drink I have to swim a mile. I am behind now by two miles.

Also today was the second day in a row spent without a phone in my pocket. I dropped my well-loved iPhone two days ago (for about the millionth time) and this time, unlike all the other times, it didn't recover. I took it apart in the vain hope of fixing it and gave up when I saw how tiny everything is in there. I'm pretty good at fixing almost anything, but the iPhone might as well be a Liahona because it is of very curious workmanship. I think I'll be phoneless for a while. It's sort-of liberating. My wife says I can get a simple phone for phone calls, but no replacement Urim and Thummim for the time being. That's like telling an alcoholic to replace the sauce with Sprite, and expecting them to jump for joy. My digital life is over.

On the plus side, maybe I won't be pestering my facebook friends to chat while I'm on the toilet.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Grace, by U2

She takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name

It's a name for a girl
It's also a thought that changed the world
And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness in everything

Grace, she's got the walk
Not on a ramp or on chalk
She's got the time to talk
She travels outside of karma
She travels outside of karma
When she goes to work
You can hear her strings
Grace finds beauty in everything

Grace, she carries a world on her hips
No champagne flute for her lips
No twirls or skips between her fingertips
She carries a pearl in perfect condition

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

From "Why can't I be good?"
by Lou Reed

I want to be like the wind
When it uproots a tree
Carries it across an ocean
To plant in a valley
I want to be like the sun
That makes it flourish and grow
I don't want to be
What I am anymore

In many ways I feel as though I have just awakened from a fitful sleep, in other ways I feel that I have slipped over the edge of a precipice and have only just begun to climb back up. Honesty, displaced for so long, has the dizzying effect of making one feel simultaneously empowered and liberated on one hand, and overwhelmed by reality on the other.

There are moments of my life remembered as though I had awakened to find manna on the ground around me, and there are moments which struck as a thousand raindrops or snowflakes, a sudden thunderstorm, or a swim in cold water. There are also, unfortunately, moments remembered as though I had stepped in filth, stumbled in a pig-mire, or fallen into an abyss.

Why can't I be good? Why is it so hard to consistently make good choices?

It's gotten a lot easier since I got honest. Thank God for honesty.

In miry clay obscurity
I squandered my inheritance
A potsherds insincerity
Kiln-broken, crushed to penitence

Begging food I supped with swine
Deep hunger was my souls lament
Unworthy to be called thy son
To be thy slave was my intent

When from afar thou sawest me
And sped my the compassion cup
The fatted calf gave mercy meat
The bitter dregs were swallowed up

Oh Father. . .

May I bend my will and cleave to thine
May I render thee my soul in fine
My heart, my life thou gavest me
All gratitude be unto thee!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spiritual experiences have been few and far between for me over the past several years. And any effort to cultivate them on my part resulted in being faced with the dilemma, the elephant in the room, that has ridden on my back all this time. The creature from which I couldn't be freed without being honest was too heavy to carry yet I persisted in silence for fear of the fallout I knew would punch radioactive holes in everything I hold dear. I tried to find a fallout shelter, knowing full well that there are no loopholes in the law of repentance.

Yet the spirit didn't stop striving with me. All this time He didn't stop. I begged Him not to stop.

I recently had a spiritual experience in the shower. I was listening to Fix You by Coldplay and as I sang along to the words, "Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones, and I will try to fix you", I was overcome as I felt the spirit testify the truth of that message to me.

So now I have freed the elephant. I decided to take the advice of a wise leader and "hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and accept whatever came." So far we are okay.

I know that I can be fixed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Miracle Drug

I want a trip inside your head
Spend the day there…
To hear the things you haven't said
And see what you might see

I want to hear you when you call
Do you feel anything at all?
I want to see your thoughts take shape
And walk right out

Freedom has a scent
Like the top of a new born baby's head

The songs are in your eyes
I see them when you smile
I've seen enough I'm not giving up
On a miracle drug

Of science and the human heart
There is no limit
There is no failure here sweetheart
Just when you quit…

I am you and you are mine
Love makes nonsense of space
And time… will disappear
Love and logic keep us clear
Reason is on our side, love…

The songs are in your eyes
I see them when you smile
I've had enough of romantic love
I'd give it up, yeah, I'd give it up
For a miracle, a miracle drug, a miracle drug

God I need your help tonight

Beneath the noise
Below the din
I hear your voice
It's whispering
In science and in medicine
“I was a stranger
You took me in”

The songs are in your eyes
I see them when you smile
I've had enough of romantic love
I'd give it up, yeah, I'd give it up
For a miracle, miracle drug

Miracle, miracle drug

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)
The Arcade Fire

I am waitin' 'til I don't know when,
cause I'm sure it's gonna happen then.
Time keeps creepin' through the neighborhood,
killing old folks, wakin' up babies just like we knew it would.

All the neighbors are startin' up a fire,
burning all the old folks the witches and the liars.
My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids,
but my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids.

They say a watched pot won't ever boil,
well I closed my eyes and nothin' changed,
just some water getting hotter in the flames.

It's not a lover I want no more,
and it's not heaven I'm pining for,
but there's some spirit I used to know,
that's been drowned out by the radio!

They say a watched pot won't ever boil,
you can't raise a baby on motor oil,
just like a seed down in the soil you gotta give it time.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Crown of Love
Arcade Fire

They say it fades if you let it,
love was made to forget it.
I carved your name across my eyelids,
you pray for rain I pray for blindness.

If you still want me, please forgive me,
the crown of love is fallen from me.
If you still want me, please forgive me,
because the spark is not within me.

I snuffed it out before my mom walked in my bedroom.

The only thing that you keep changin'
is your name, my love keeps growin'
still the same, just like a cancer,
and you won't give me a straight answer!

If you still want me, please forgive me,
the crown of love has fallen from me.
If you still want me please forgive me
because your hands are not upon me.

I shrugged them off before my mom walked in my bedroom.

The pains of love, and they keep growin',
in my heart there's flowers growin'
on the grave of our old love,
since you gave me a straight answer.

If you still want me, please forgive me,
the crown of love is not upon me
If you still want me, please forgive me,
'cause the spark is not within me.
it's not within me, it's not within me.

You gotta be the one,
you gotta be the way,
your name is the only word that I can say

You gotta be the one,
you gotta be the way,
your name is the only word , the only word that I can say!

Only one that I can say!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fix You 
by Coldplay

When you try your best but you don't succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And I

Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face
And I

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I've been thinking about an article I read recently.  It was about a study a psychologist did involving pre-school kids.  In the study he took the kids aside one at a time and offered them a treat, but told them that if they didn't eat it, he'd give them more in a few minutes.  Then he would leave the room, and come back in a few minutes.  

The interesting thing was that years later he followed up on these kids and the ones the were able to wait had better test scores, went to better colleges, had better jobs, and experienced more success in life than those that didn't.

I've realized that almost all behavior involves choosing between instant gratification and delayed gratification.  If I could just learn to wait, I'd be a much better person.

In business I see this type of decision a lot.  For example, many times a choice that would lead to a quick buck, would produce the opposite result in the long term.  Selling cheap products with wider profit margins has its appeal, but in the long term has many shortfalls.  And I wonder whether most of the economic problems we are currently facing aren't due to a market environment in which instant gratification ruled the day.

The same applies to personal matters.  In fact I would argue that any choice which results in instant gratification is the wrong choice.  All such choices erode and dull our senses, diminishing the real value of consequences, hard work, diligence, and temperance.  For everything worth striving for, there is a shortcut to a counterfeit.  

So I ask myself why it is so hard to make the hard choices.  As Rilke said, "that something is difficult should be all the more reason for us to do it."  Why do I struggle to put off the natural tendency to take the easy route to false pleasure, when I know that the hard route leads to true joy?

I wonder whether I would have eaten the treat or waited for more.  I don't know.  In grade school I always saved my school lunch dessert for last, and I always ate everything I was served. Do you know how good Jello tastes after gagging down soggy spinach?  I do.  Yet I continue to choose instant gratification in so many instances.

I want to have control.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

So I stumbled across Zeebo on Facebook.  Should I:
A) Send her a friend request and see if we can't get the families together for a BBQ
B) Send her a note and  ask her why she felt it necessary to spread nasty rumors about me.
C) Forget I ever found her because she's a psycho hose beast and I don't have a gun, much less a plethora of guns necessitating a gun rack.

The answer is definitely not A, I never want to see her again.  The obvious choice is C.  But part of me really wants to take her to task for the things she said about me.  Then again, it has been over fifteen years since the rumors made their way back to me.  Why reawaken them, right?  But they were really nasty rumors, the kind that ruin reputations for good.  It's very tempting to do something.  

Advice anyone?

Monday, May 04, 2009

This post is not for people with weak stomachs. As some of you may recall, I sometimes do surgery on myself. This twisted little hobby of mine is probably the result of all the recreational self-mutilation I inflicted on myself as a teen for no good reason at all, coupled with my "hands-on" attitude toward all things broken. (I realize that last long sentence could have been written "I do this because I am crazy," but I'm feeling longwinded tonight.)

So a month or so ago I decided to get rid of another lipoma in my right forearm. This time I took pictures.

My forearm, shaved and prepped for surgery.

The Scalpel (My friend Jake gave me a real one, no more razor blades!)

Making an incision

Opening up

A slight squeeze and the little bugger starts to come out

There it is.

Like a little ball of gristle


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Bono and I go way back.  My first exposure to U2 was in about 1984, when my brother Isaac brought home The Unforgettable Fire album.  I told him I didn't like it, but cut me some slack, I was only 9 years old.  Back then, Isaac had a friend whose older brother was in high school and taught him all about Polo brand products, pegged jeans, hair gel and music.  Isaac came home with tapes of Depeche Mode, Scritti Politti, Ebn Ozn, Captain Sensible, INXS, etc.  Maybe I really didn't like U2 then, or maybe I was just being obstinate, I don't know.  But Isaac has never let me live it down.  And in light of my later obsession with the Irish quartet, and his subsequent move toward Bobby Brown, MC Hammer, and Vanilla Ice (can you believe the latter two came here in concert last month?) I can understand his frustration.

By 1986 I was a fan.  When I joined Columbia House for 12 LP's for a penny, The Joshua Tree was one of my choices.  I also remember getting a Bill Cosby record, a Billy Crystal record, 'Til Tuesday, and Thompson Twins.  The rest I have forgotten.  Of course, The Joshua Tree was undisputably one of the best albums ever, and without doubt the "three-chords and the truth" of Adam, Larry, Bono, and the Edge worked to shape the synaptic connections of my developing brain.

It was common knowledge that a seventh-grade classmate of mine had a brother who was a U2 superfan.  I gave him some blank tapes and in a few days had some great U2 mixes which I played over and over while reading the Chronicles of Narnia.  I didn't know the names of any of the songs, but I loved them.

The pattern continued when I was the first in my family to acquire a CD player.  Isaac gave me an MC Hammer and a Bobby Brown CD first, but the first CD I got of my own volition was Rattle and Hum.

When Achtung Baby came out I was eagerly anticipating it's release.  It wasn't what I expected but it became the soundtrack of my high school years.  The heartache expressed in songs like One, So Cruel and Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses was echoed in my own experiences with dating, kissing, and getting dumped.  I must have listened to most of those songs two or three times a day for three or four years.  In the morning I would program my CD player to play tracks 1,2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10, drag a speaker into the bathroom (I had spliced together a really long cable) and sing along in the shower.  (I took really long showers then, apparently.)  I would listen to Achtung Baby again while driving to work, and often while at work as well.  My senior year I took a design class in which I cast the U2 rings from the album cover art.  They didn't look nearly as good as the originals, pictured above, but they were pretty cool.

Years passed and still I was a U2 superfan.  Zooropa, Pop, All That You Can't Leave Behind, and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb were released.  I spent stupid amounts of money to see the band play in Salt Lake on the last three tours.  The Popmart concert was almost a religious experience for me.  The subsequent two concerts I saw were slightly less breathtaking.  Yet still I bristled when I read this.  I was ready to defend their work and I truly liked a lot of the songs, right out of the box so to speak.

Now U2 have released another album.  It's called No Line on the Horizon.  The first single is called Get On Your Boots.  If you haven't heard it yet, let me forewarn you, the song sucks even more than its name.  And though it's hard for me to admit it, the rest of the album is pretty lame too.  It's like listening to a U2 cover band.  It sounds like U2, but it lacks fire.  I think that in their comfortable, grown-up lives, they've lost touch with the the hunger that made them great.

I've listened to it several times hoping to get into it, or for it to get into me.  I hoped to find a gem of lyric, or a really great bridge that made an otherwise mediocre track great.  I haven't found any such thing yet.  One song has pretty good sound, but the lyrics include such crapulence as, "force quit and move to trash, restart, reboot yourself."  Seriously Bono?  Computing metaphors?  (He must be running windows by the way.)  But that isn't rock and roll.  Rock and roll metaphors shouldn't be based on middle-aged cubicle life.  What the H?  You're not Wilson Phillips for crying out loud, you're U effing 2!  Grow a pair!

Ok, I'm back from that tirade.  I should probably delete it, but I think it has merit.

All of this has forced me to face facts about myself.  If U2 is no longer relevant, if their music no longer beats to the pulse of the youth of the world, what does that say about me?

I swore I'd always be cool, that I would rage and rage against the dying of the light.  I swore to be in tune and on board.  And I didn't think it would be hard for me, but now it's becoming clear that I am obsolete and irrelevant too.  And no matter how hard I try, I'll never be cool again, not even if I reboot myself, metaphorically speaking.  

I do take some comfort in the fact that though I fooled myself into thinking otherwise, in reality I never was cool anyway.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Recently, courtesy of The Sneeze, I discovered an artist that I really like.  His name is Eric Joyner.  I'm neither an artist nor an art aficionado, but when I started browsing Erics work I was really struck by one painting in particular.  It's called "Mr. Atomic."  (I hope Eric won't mind if I include a couple of pictures here.)

A print of this painting now hangs in my home.  When visitors notice it we joke that it's a portrait of me.  Those who know me well may see the resemblance.  If I indulge in the comparison I would say that I am like our mechanical donut philosopher friend in the sense that I am equal parts popular culture, popular science, thinker, and tinkerer.  Plus I've always liked robots.  

Another painting I can relate to is called "Summertime." 

I like this one because it reminds me of a painting my grandma had in her home. It was a picture of a farmers field, with trees in the distance. I used to stare at it because there were some shapes in the foreground, could have been planks, and I wondered what they were supposed to be. Unlike my grandmas painting, I "get" this one.  Looking at "Summertime" I envision myself enjoying a Summer day like that little red robot. I recall how during my adolescence I struggled so hard to find something or someone in the world to relate to. I was in love with nature and spent a lot of time exploring on my mountain bike. I could commune with nature, but couldn't relate well with people.

Maybe it's the ass-burgers talking, but I feel like I relate to these robots.

The reason I'm writing about all of this is that due to my liking Eric Joyners work so much, I added him as a friend on facebook. Then I emailed him and suggested that he paint a picture of robots on classic scooters. I didn't expect him to take me seriously, but he did. Look at the awesome paintings he came up with:

This one is called "On a Mission."  You can tell that this little guy has something important to do.

This next one is called "Narrow Escape."

How awesome is that?  He actually painted robots on scooters for me!

Another one I really like (which has nothing to do with scooters) is called "Does Not Compute."  The color and lighting of this one is spectacular.  

So bloggers, check out Eric Joyners work here and here.  He even has a book out called "Robots and Donuts."  You can pick it up here.  It's fun for the whole family and makes a great coffee table book.  I hope you like these paintings as much as I do.  And if you'd like to see a print in person, stop by my house or the shop sometime.  Maybe one day you'll even be able to see an original.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Having grown up in the Provo/Orem area, I've seen a lot of nice things bulldozed in the name of progress.  Fields where horses grazed have become subdivisions with stupid names like Canyon Valley, Valley Vista, and Vista Canyon.  (I sometimes wonder if there isn't a pair of dice in some developers office, each with six realty buzzwords on them, and by shaking them the subdivisions are named.)

There used to be an old wooden barn on Canyon Road next to the fire station.  In days gone by it was a fruit and vegetable stand.  Now it's becoming a stucco-covered series of McMansions. What is it with stucco?  Don't people realize that it's the biggest copout of all exterior finishes? Don't get me wrong; if you want your home to look like a sumo wrestler ate a bag of clay and shat all over your house, go ahead and stucco.  

There used to be irrigation canals that cut through wooded areas.  Their water rippled with mystery.  Lazy summer days were spent daydreaming near the water.  There were rope swings suspended by tall trees, and there were plenty of old farm buildings, presumably full of classic cars and relics of brighter days.

Now those things are gone.  We've made progress as a society.  We don't need silly things like rope swings or yards anymore.  We just need really big houses on really tiny lots.  We need artificially antiqued furnishings and three car garages.  We've torn down everything rustic, and erected in it's place our personal temples, decorated with brand-new, rustic-styled artifacts made in China and purchased with credit cards.

But the very most unbelievably, amazingly, catastrophically stupid example of this trend is a place I affectionately call the Midtown Monstrosity.  Granted, I wasn't a fan of the trailer park it displaced, but in a situation where almost any change would have been an improvement, they managed to make things worse.

The first thing they built when the project began was a small white tower.  It looks like somebody cut off the top of the Timpanogos temple.  I call it the Temple of Wanton Consumerism.

Above: the best picture I could steal from the intertubes.  You get the idea.  I keep waiting for them to place a golden statue of a woman holding shopping bags on the top.

On either side of the "temple" is a huge complex of condominiums and retail space.  One of them is pretty much complete.  The other is still a mess.  According to The Daily Herald only four of the condos were sold, and as a result, the developer was unable to pay the contractors and construction was halted.  This is shocking considering that the condos were priced at just  $325,000 to 1.4 million.  That's really a bargain when you consider you would get to live on State Street in Orem, upon the same prestigious acreage where mobile homes once freely roamed.

The most baffling part of the whole thing is that a bunch of people must have thought this was a good idea for the project to get as far as it did.  In spite of the fact that similar projects nearby were struggling to sell their condos and keep the retail spaces leased, this $100 million dollar disaster got the green light.

Currently, there's only one tenant in the entire place.  It's a business called Pizzeria 712, and by all accounts the food is excellent.  One of these days I'm going to go try it.  Right now though, money's tight.  I might have to wait until my new business takes off.  I'm putting one of my other talents to good use on a new venture.  Anybody know where I can buy some clay? 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

For me, Junior high school was a living hell the likes of which only those who have survived trench warfare could possibly comprehend. At least that's how I imagine it, since I've never fought in a trench. But I have seen a picture of a soldier frozen in abject fear with wet pants, and I totally relate to it.

Above:  Pretty much exactly what junior high was like.

I went to a school called Farrer Middle School. It was built in medieval times, though throughout the centuries it had been converted, renovated, and patched together to comply with new building codes. It even had such modern amenities as plumbing and electricity. And in a move that could only be described as "twisting the knife" by the handicapped, they converted the stairs in the building into absurdly steep, alpine-grade wheelchair ramps. A healthy biped could barely climb them without an icepick and a pair of crampons. The thought of a wheelchair-bound tweenager trying to actually use those ramps makes me laugh out loud even today. (Yes, I'm a jerkface.) 

The big improvement made during my tenure there was the addition of an ultra-modern cafetorium.  Supposedly it was a cross between cafeteria and an auditorium, but I think they also had a crematorium in there for good measure.

The worst thing about junior high though, was the F-Dudes and F-Chicks. In case you aren't familiar with the term, I give you the following, from Urban Dictionary:
"'F-Dude: a guy who drives a truck, has a mullet, has a 'no fear' sticker, and feels strongly about whether he drives a ford or a chevy. oh...and they sure say "F**K", and "DUDE" alot...thus the name, "F-Dude"
"Did you see Tammy? Like, I can't believe she is dating that F-Dude!""

I don't entirely agree with that definition, but it's a decent place to start. In Junior High, F-Dudes, and their female counterparts, F-Chicks were the kids from the other side of the tracks. Instead of listening to mainstream pop music, they listened to bands with names like Slayer, Cinderella, and Megadeath. They wore the torn black concert t-shirts to prove it. The F-Chicks had ratted hair, the F-Dudes had mullets and rat-tails. You could expect to be challenged to wrestle or fight one of them at any given moment, and you walked the halls in fear of being ambushed by them.  They were from a different socioeconomic demographic, and to me, a north Provo-ite, they may as well have been from a different planet.    

The F-Chicks wore such tight jeans that I once was plagued by a pubescent NRB after seeing a chubby one with a camel toe. (Something I'm not proud to admit.) Nevertheless, I never would have associated with any of them had it not been for the cafetorium. For some reason, the psychotic Principal decided that no students would be allowed inside any part of the building during the lunch hour, with the exception of the Cafetorium. So after lunch students would line up at the doorway from the Cafetorium to the main building, waiting to go back to their lockers, the restrooms, etc. There were these two F-Chicks, the chubby one and her friend Tina, who would always manage to block the hallway when the doors were opened. I don't think it was so much a feat of strength as it was due to the other students unwillingness to touch them for fear that whatever diseases they had might be catching.

One day I must have really needed to pee or something and in frustration I yelled "push those sluts!" from the back of the crowd. Tina and Chubby immediately turned around and came after me. Chubby started repeatedly kicking me in the shins, and as I impotently tried to defend myself it dawned on me that Tina was fondling my junk. No joke. Talk about a mixed message.

There was one F-Dude named Earl Roberts who committed suicide by shotgun.  As the news spread around the school, an announcement was made that any students who were in need of some grief counseling could be excused from class to speak with someone.  I remember that some friends of mine and I decided to go just to get out of class.  We were callous little bastards, what can I say?

I would excuse myself based on my young age at the time, but it turns out I'm still a callous bastard.  A couple of weeks ago a bunch of my wife's friends from Provo High had a get-together at an Indian restaraunt.  I didn't go to Provo High, so I was worried I wouldn't have anything to talk about.  Then the subject of F-dudes came up.  I was excited to reminisce about the poor kids from way-back-when.  I said something like, "Oh man, I remember this one kid named Keith Maynard!  What a tool!  He was the quintessential F-Dude!"  I chuckled heartily over my Malai Kofta until someone said, "Wasn't Keith Maynard the guy who shot himself our senior year?"

All this has gotten me to thinking.  I guess F-Dudes weren't so different after all.  They were just like the rest of us.  Maybe they had hard lives by circumstance and not by choice as I had always assumed.  

So to all F-dudes I say that I am sincerely sorry for judging you.  (But Tina and Chubby, no touching.)

P.S.  My wife feels strongly that I should delete the part about getting a boner because of the camel toe altogether.  I compromised and used the term NRB instead of what I had originally written.  During our discussion about it though, she came up with a real gem.  She said, "I don't like when you talk about vaginas.  You have a problem.  You're like an atheist who talks about God."