Friday, February 29, 2008

You Talkin' To Me?

A few comments (one a bit threatening) and a text message have prompted me to post something. I haven’t really felt like it, so I haven’t; I can’t really apologize for not posting, but I can apologize for not letting people know I wasn’t going to post for a while. I think that will be my new modus operandi: if I don’t feel like blogging and know I don’t, I’ll just post something like “Out of Blog: Will return XX/XX/XXXX” At least that way I’m not wasting people’s time.

Obviously plenty has happened in the past month - a reason I haven't been posting - but I don’t know how much merits blogging about. I’ve come up with four topics and as to not make this a super long post, here they are. Just click on the links and they’ll take you to each. Don’t want anyone to get carpal tunnel from over scrolling.

The House: The transformation of the past month.

The Holiday: A tribute to Valentines Day

The Hobby: Need your input

The Hack Off: Political mayhem and my views thereof

The Hobby

I've touched on this a few times in the past, but I am now ready to unleash the hounds.
If you didn't know before, now you will. I love to write and, despite the lack of actual posts on this blog, I have nevertheless continued to write as I work on my novel. That's right, folks, I have been writing a novel for the past few years. I've written and re-written hundreds of times, scrapping whole chapters and starting over. Over this time I've let a handful of people take a read; of those who have taken me up on the offer, I've received a little feedback and I really appreciate it. But I want more.
So, I've posted the entire thing online at Each chapter has it's own post (34 posts, including a Prologue and Epilogue) and they are in sequential order; I have not, however, made this available for public reading. Thus being the case, it will only be available to those I invite. If you're interested in delving into it, let me know (by a comment or an email or phone call or text message) and I'll send you an email so you can get in.
Please feel free to let me know what you think by making comments - what you love, what you hate; what parts are boring or exciting; places that are vague or unclear. Don't worry about offending me. I won't be with anything you say as long as you stop short of straight up telling me I suck as a writer.

The Holiday

Valentines Day. I've seen my share. Over a quarter-century of them. And I've never been the biggest fan of them, probably because I felt I always got the shaft and usually did. No, that's not completely true. Growing up, we were strongly encouraged by our parents to not pair off and date one person exclusively until after high school and after missions. I followed that plea for the most part (early on because there was no one who'd date me and later on because there was no one I wanted to date). But one thing has been constant for every Valentines Day for the past 23 years: Mom's V-Day sugar cookies.

These aren't little (I should have put something next to the pic for size) and Paula, Lydia and I got one this year, just like every year. The Constant in my Valentines Day universe

I've reflected on my Valentine Day experiences over the past 10 years and this is what I remember:
1998 - My dad punked me by sending a big balloon and a teddy bear to the high school during lunch from a Secret Admirer. I was pumped and then found out it was a practical joke from my old man.
1999 - In Pittsburg, PA working construction. Sent flowers to Tara back home.
2000-2001 - The annual cookie from mom and nothing else - to busy serving the Lord.
2002 - Dating Jeana, too poor to do anything but flowers. I think we went to some dance on campus.
2003 - Recently disengaged and thus, disenchanted; relied on the cookie.
2004 - Melissa broke up with me after - more like while - giving me nice Tommy Hilfiger tie. It was weird.
2005 - Spent the day in San Francisco with Abby; best chocolate ever at The Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory.
2006 - Engaged to Paula; laid down some flow for some Jimmy Choo shoes. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever again will I spend that much money on shoes.
2007 - Tried to go out and eat, but the first trimester skunked our plans. Curse you first trimester! Managed to score points with the iPod gift.
2008 - Tried to go to PF Chang's but ended up at Frontera because of the 2 1/2 hour wait; enjoyed an evening together vegging after a long week for Paula with the shop opening.

Anyway, that's the rundown - some good, some bad; some cheap, some expensive. In reality, the least eventful of my Valentines Day experiences have been the last three. But they've also been the best because of who I've been able to spend the time with - my wife. She's not perfect, but she is perfect for me and the man I am now is far ahead from the man I was before. It's funny how being with someone who loves you - for you and in spite of you - makes a slow night at Frontera the highlight of your week.
I wanted to post a picture of Paula, but after looking at our pictures, there aren't any of her and she just got this new haircut and looks really good. So, until I get that picture, I'll post pics of the greatest gift Paula has ever or could ever give me - little Lydia.

How am I ever going to say no to this? Dang it. I'm toast.

Paula always sure to have Lydia in the appropriate holiday attire.

Shower time. She's loves her showers. Ignore the pale man with the strange chest-hair pattern. He is of no importance.

Just enjoying a smoothie. Uncle Nerf and cousin Beckett, look familiar?

The House

The house is looking great. It really is. That’s been my focus for the past five months, and probably will be for the next five; I suppose a home owner’s work is never done, and that is fine. One of the things that has surprised me is how much we've been able to do at relatively little expense. I mean, we've spent some money but if you take into account the condition of the house before we bought it and the current state of our home, we've been able to make some great strides while not taking out any loans or opening credit cards or using any 'no interest til' gimmicks. In February, we’ve only spent $250 at The Home Depot, so that’s cool.

For me, the pride of our home is the 450 square feet of ceramic tile. It was my first experience with tile and the like. Will and I put down the quarter round last Saturday and I caulked and painted it and the baseboards with a white high gloss paint and it looks awesome. There are a couple things I need to tweak, but this has sort of pulled everything together and the first floor of the house is awesome.
With the tile done, Paula was able to do some deep cleaning this week throughout the house and it looks pretty stellar. The windows were the biggest thing as they hadn't been cleaned from the time the folks before us took everything and ditched in the dark of night (like a year ago) and now. They were awful, but there wasn't any point in cleaning them because of the crazy dust and debris being thrown around on a regular basis. But now they look great.

Big thanks to Todd and Will for helping me with the floor; to Greg, Melissa and Amy for their coming and picking up Lydia for the day on several occasions so Paula could work; to Papa K for saving us some coin in putting together the heating and air. This has saved us time, money and sanity. I think March will be fairly minimal - just some painting and touch up in prep for Nerf, Linds and Beckett- before we tackle landscaping chores in April.

The Hack Off

This was going to be 'The Frustration' but then I realized that every else was 'The H----' and figured I'd sync it all up.

I don’t view myself as an emotional person, though the official definition might qualify me as such; passionate is the word I prefer, defined as: the emotions as distinguished from reason b: intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction.

I have a good life: a beautiful daughter, a wonderful wife, a job, a home, my health, winning BYU athletics...yeah, things are nice. This does not, however, change the fact that my passions have been stirred insomuch I have not had feelings of joviality as of late.

The topic that has me so passionate is the current and future state of our country as highlighted and enunciated by the political happenings and attitudes within this country. Any who are not familiar with my feelings about the United States of America can find them contained in the virtual pages of this post.

Even now, I don’t know what to say and where to start. I'm just going to try and not swear profusely as I do it.

Tax Rebate? How about this tax ‘rebate’ that the government is ‘giving’ us? What a joke! Thank you, Mr. Government, for redistributing the money of the rich to the middle class and poor. Rebate…please. This money is going to people who didn’t even pay taxes (earning $3000, people on disability, collecting social security) and not going to those who did (individuals earning over $75,000). This crap is nothing more than wealth redistribution – and being redistributed by a REPUBLICAN President!

Everyone who is getting this thing (I refuse to call it a rebate) should send an email of thanks to people like my brother who put himself through college, got great grades in a difficult area, nearly aced the LSAT and works his tail off 12-13 hours a day. He’s not getting this government redistribution because through he’s worked like crazy and is successful. Meanwhile, people who sit on their backsides collecting welfare checks are getting it. And they never put anything in the pot!

Progressive Hypocrisy? No... I made the 'mistake' of starting to listen to conservative talk radio via the internet during the day at work. Mistake is in quotes because the only reason this is a mistake is because it reminds me how big of idiots people are for drinking the Kool-Aid big government proponents keep pouring. Anyway, I was listening to Glenn Beck and he had some interesting facts about John '$400 Haircut' Edwards, Bill 'That Woman, Ms. Lewinsky' Clinton, and Michael 'Evil America' Moore. You can read the entire thing here, but to sum up, all three of these men came from absolutely nothing and made it big in America because of their own hard work.
  • Edwards was the son of a textile worker and postal worker; he was the first person in his family to attend college and graduated with honors.
  • Clinton never knew his father - a traveling salesman who died three months before his birth. His mom had to go back to school and married a drunk who gambled and beat her. He got scholarships and went to college, became an intern for a US senator who helped him become a Rhodes scholar. He studied at Oxford and later got a law degree from Yale.
  • Moore, the son of a secretary and an automotive assembly line worker, dropped out of college and worked at an automotive plant. Eventually he quit working at the automotive plant and was hired as an editor of a political magazine. he was fired, went to court and settled for $58,000. He used that seed money to create his first movie.
The irony is that none of these guys got any help from the government and managed to be successful, yet they are all big proponents of big government. Basically, the message is 'Sure, I can make myself something out of nothing, but you can't. So turn over your money and choices to us and we'll make sure you get the basics.' Doesn't this seem unsettling to anyone besides me?

The Forgotten Man. I came across this essay, written by William Graham Sumner in 1883, and I think it is spot on. I had to read it a couple times because the language is, well, from 1883. But the content is truer today than it ever was. Ever. I'm going to sum up by quickly paraphrasing the opening paragraph, but I encourage everyone to take a look.
Most schemes of social welfare goes like this: A and B put their heads together to decide what C should do for D. The ridiculousness is that C isn't given a voice. His position, character, and interests - the ultimate effects on society through C's interests - are entirely overlooked. Sumner call's C the Forgotten Man.

Anyway this is what I've been thinking about and how there are few who will take a step back, think about all this and then make their voice heard. If things are going to change, we need make our voices heard. And by more than just casting a vote, because there's no one running for President right now who - in my opinion - has any interest in taking decision making from the government and giving it back to me and you.