Wednesday, December 24, 2003

on the john 2.9: Rabies...?

approx read time: 7 minutes

A few Sundays ago, my wife and I, returning home for church were all set to take a nap. Realizing that our dog, Vodka was outside, we decided we had better bring him inside before our nap. He has a tendency if left for long periods of time unsupervised to miraculously escape. I exited my Salt Lake City home through the back door wearing only my bathrobe. Vodka, excited as ever bounced around while I moved the gate away. With my back turned he bolted off towards the road. I turned to see that he had bolted to greet another dog. My neighbor has two dogs; they are Dogue de Bordeaux’s. If you've seen Turner and hooch, that's what kind of dog that is. I was familiar with these dogs. One of them, Max, was a very friendly dog. He and Vodka got along well. The other, Rocky is not dog friendly, in fact he's fairly aggressive towards dogs... especially big playful puppies that don't know when to quit (my dog). I looked around, and only saw one of the dogs. I can't tell them apart, so I was worried it was Rocky and a fight might ensue. I called Vodka to me, and he came but so did the other dog. They began playing so I knew it was Max. I figured I would get Vodka inside and take Max back home. I grabbed Vodka by the collar, and proceeded to guide him inside. Again, my back was to the road, and I was positioning myself so that I would block Max from entering my house. Just then I hear a deep menacing growl. I try to turn but before I do, this enormous body collides with me. I see the 140 lb dog, which is obviously Rocky, on top of Vodka and my connected arm. Suddenly searing pain registers in my brain, I think "Did I just get bit? I just got bit!" I pulled my hand away and for a moment, stunned, I ignored the growling yelping dogs. I looked at the two neat puncture wounds in my hand. One hole exactly between my middle two knuckles, the other in the fleshy part of the hand between my thumb and forefinger. There was no blood at first; my hand was white with shock. I came to my senses and saw the dogs continuing to fight. I ordered them to "SIT!" all three dogs sat, until Vodka moved again then Rocky pummeled him a second time. I yelled "Sit" again. Just then Ivan, my neighbor and the owner of the two dogs came around the corner (keep in mind the entire previous paragraph spans 25 seconds or so) I got Vodka in the house, and he got his dogs taken care of. It was really just bad timing I was taking my dog from the back to the house without a leash, and Ivan was taking his from the house to the car without a leash. Vodka of course hadn't received ought but a few scratches. I went inside, and the adrenaline of what had transpired began to dissipate. I started to feel the pain of the event and grew faint. I said to my nurturing wife "I'm going to faint." She moved me to the bed and She and Ivan did what they could to care for the wounds. In any event, I got my nap, it just wasn't as comfortable as would have hoped. Later that evening I stopped by the doctor’s office. It was okay, my hand was bruised pretty bad and extremely swollen. They said that I had a scratched tendon, and that infection was my biggest worry. It has healed nicely though, and is almost gone. I learned two lessons that day. The first is, if two dogs are in the mix make sure your hands are as far away from them as possible. The second is, a little more complicated. You see, well... hmm, Well when a man, (male) is injured there are two general responses he can give. The response really has no bearing on how tough the man really is, it's catered to the individual they're around. When injured he can act the way he would with his Mother, knowing the more pain he's in the more sympathy he'll get, the easier it is to get out of school, stuff like that. Or he could act the way he would in front of a girl he is trying to impress. The less pain expressed in an obviously painful situation the sexier he appears. Are you all with me? I, still a novice in the whole marriage field, wasn't sure which classification a wife falls under. Sure I would love to receive sympathy, soup, and stuff. Do I really need to impress her anymore; after all, she already married me... Right? Wrong. Hopefully a man's wife thinks he's macho, manly, tough, etc. You see if I were dating a girl I probably would have said "I need to lie down." instead of "I am going to faint." I also would have tried very hard to ignore the pain and do my best to not mention it to the female, by talking about how cool the torn skin and oozing blood looked. Rather than saying "This really really hurts." over and over again. Not only was my wife frustrated with me for whining so much, any image she had that her husband was even remotely macho was shattered. Thinking that, because she is my wife, and very best friend that I can express in great detail my pain and discomfort without loosing some level of masculinity was a glaring mistake. She was surprised at what a baby I was... it's a little embarrassing really. The worst part is that "macho-ness" is like trust. It's a long tedious process to build and cultivate, at the same time in an instant one mess up can destroy it completely. Alas, the next few years will be spent trying to get back to the macho man I used to be. Thus, not only increasing my cool but increasing my sexy too. Hopefully before she gets tired of her girly man husband and runs off with that character from "Over the Top."

Other than my seeming inability to cope with pain, Lara and I are doing fine. We moved into a new house. Originally to accommodate the extra large family that we had. Lara's sister Jessica and her boyfriend Jake were living with us for a time, but because of insurance Jessica had to move home. She had her baby a month ago, and named her Nevaeh Elizabeth Keaveny. They are doing okay in Oregon, and Jessica is moving in with her other sister Shannon. Lara absolutely loves the new place that we live in. I like it a lot, just wish it had more of a yard and an underground bowling alley. I still work for Fairbanks capital, and though monotonous and slightly unfulfilling, I like it okay. It pays the bills, that's for sure. Lara jumps in and out of work in an on going pursuit to stay interested in something. I think at the moment she works for Dial America only, but a second job is around the corner.

Our pet situation has changed a bit. We still have Vodka, our dog. He is awesome, aside from wanting to physically hug every stranger he meets, those of you who've met him know what I'm talking about, he is really well behaved. (I said hug, not hump) If I can only take him on a six hour walk/run ever day he's really mellow too. We had our awesome cat Batman. Jake and Jessica had a cat the same age named Gomez. Gomez and Batman were best friends. They took Gomez with them to Oregon. We found a little white Kitten in our garage that was abandoned. We called him Mr. Pink. Mr. Pink hated the dog, but was really cute, but we kept him around to try and fill Gomez's void. It didn't work. About two weeks after Gomez Left Batman ran away. This crushing blow of rejection cemented a resolve not to have cats. Cats are dumb. We found a good home for Mr. Pink. Now it’s just Vodka, and that's plenty.

Finally, some new and exciting news. Many of you remember my good friend Cameron Daley, and our numerous exploits regarding fame and fortune. Like those movies we made and that ad we had running at Century 16 for a year. Well we have stumbled on to a new medium. We created a comic strip. That's right a cartoon, one you would read in your local newspaper. It is loosely based on our movie of the same name "Out of the Blue" I think it's pretty funny as Cartoon strips go. So do a lot of other people. We started running our comic weekly in the Weber State University Newspaper "The Signpost" about 4 months ago. Since then our comic has been run in numerous colleges spanning 8 states. The figures aren't very accurate but we have an estimated 100,000 readers. This is only the beginning too. In Utah alone you'll find our comic at Salt Lake Community College, Westminster College, UVSC, Weber State, and Utah State University. We are constantly acquiring new schools and are making a big push to have more lined up for next semester. Our plan is to get in as many College newspapers as we can for a year or so. Then with the many comics we've drawn and the many references we have we'll start hitting up city Newspapers and Syndicates. Looking over what I just read it sounds really exciting and sensational. Though I do have a knack for making even the drabbest of things seem so, it really is exciting this time.

If you don't hear from me again before the end of the year. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Except for the Jehovah's Witnesses, you two just have a great December 03. I hope to hear from or see all of you soon.


PS: I am in between email addresses right now, this is my work address, and is not for general personal use. I will update you on my new email soon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

on the john 2.8: All growed up...

approx. read time: 9 mins

Every once in a while I need to remind readers of what this correspondence is for. I don't want anyone to think of it as some clever, or otherwise, scam to get your money via spamming. No no, this is simply the avenue I utilize to keep my friends and family up to date on the life and times of John Maxim, while chronicling, in a journal of sorts the better events and ideas of my life. It is titled “on the john” because I still find potty humor exciting (this due to my slow maturing rate). The numerals next to the title indicate the year and the number of the coinciding letter within that year, i.e. 2.8 is second year, eighth letter this year. I explain this mostly for those of you who are new to “on the johns”; some may not even know who I am. You might be receiving this because I used to be John Henderson, and if you haven't heard, my identity was stolen and I was forced to change my name. Or you could be receiving this because I am that guy that married your niece, daughter, or sister Lara Sio Rice Collins Nielson (different last names used at different periods of her life, she is now Lara Maxim) and she has asked me to add you to my humble list of recipients. So, now that you’re aware, these letters come out once a month or less, and if you no longer wish to receive them all you need do is ask.

Now in our 8th month of marriage, life has taken an interesting turn for me and Lara [see fig. 1]. About a month ago, Lara invited her youngest sister, who is expecting a baby girl, to move in with us. Lara's sister, Jessica [see fig. 2], thought it would be a nice change of pace for her and her boyfriend, Jake [see fig. 2], who has also moved in with us. Their move here is mostly to get away from negative influences and start a new life together that they can be proud to raise their daughter in. Their Daughter who they are going to name Nevaeh: nuh-vay-uh (heaveN) is due to be born on Nov. 13th-ish. So far they have lived here for two weeks... our tiny 2 bedroom apartment is bursting with the arrival of our new guests. The adjustment to living with two more people is easy for me; I used to live with 9 guys, and grew up in a family of 8. Lara doesn't have any complaints either, because now she has family close and someone she can shop for 2 1/2 hours with that doesn't get grumpy. So far it's been great. We are actively working on getting them jobs and driver’s licenses. Any assistance you can provide in any of those areas would be great. (Jake has four years of construction experience if that gives you any ideas) Though I'm only 25 it makes me feel old to be living with these two 18 year old kids, luckily I have 'google' to answer any of the poignant questions life might throw out* and have coped with being an authority figure in the home.

Lara [see fig. 3] got a new super cool job, which she loves. She got hired as a server/caterer at Jeremy Ranch Golf & spa Resort. Again unlike most serving jobs in Utah she makes a significant hourly wage which towers above the usual $2.13. Also the tips are enormous in comparison. With frequent guests like Billy Bob Thornton and Robert Redford, and their excellent tipping etiquette she will probably become the bread winner in the family... which I have no problems with. Another perk is that she gets free golf for her and her family (that’s me) so I expect to be a force of awesome power in the next Nelson Family Reunion Golf Tournament.

I've had a lot of questions about what I do for a living so I'll lay that out. I work [see figure 4] for the infamous mortgage company Fairbanks Capital Corp. You can learn about our exploits on various “hate Fairbanks” websites, and news programs like “Get Gephardt”, “Dateline”, and “7 Exposed”**. I work in the Loss Mitigation department, and basically negotiate with borrowers who are 120 days past due or more on their home loan. I sit at a phone all day and try to either keep people in their homes or help them with a resolution other than foreclosure. I used to really like the job, but lately some administrative changes have made the job a little less enjoyable. Non-the-less, coupled with my Real Estate experience I have become quite an expert in matters relating to Foreclosure, Short Sales, Bankruptcy's, and other such matters. If you happen to find yourself in any of the aforementioned unfortunate situations feel free to ask me for advice. The only charges for my services are that for one day you think I am the coolest person you've ever known***. Also, I still am a licensed real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, however my contract with them will be up in November and I will be moving to another company.

Pets pets pets. First, I should note that now, not only do we have a dog (Vodka), we have a cat (Batman), and Jake and Jessica have a cat too (Gomez). This doesn't make our tiny apartment much easier to live in, and sometimes I wonder who actually rules the house, us or them? Vodka and Batman [see figure 5] have known each other for over a month, and get along great. However Gomez hates dogs, and he doesn't understand that when Vodka lunges towards him and begins licking his entire little feline figure one lick at a time, that he is just playing. So Gomez thrashes Vodka's faces with a myriad of bites and scratches and shakes with fear for three days following. We hope that in time Gomez will calm down but right now great care has to be taken to keep them separated, and it can become fairly taxing at times.

Batman is 3 months old [see fig. 6]. He is a brownish grayish orangish strippedish kitten. He is overly affectionate and really sweet. Batman tolerates Vodka but enjoys tormenting him, by approaching him slowly until Vodka makes a move he runs into a hole Vodka can't enter. Vodka's influence on Batman has been more significant than I realized however, as I walked into the bathroom the other day and caught Batman drinking out of the toilet. I don't have a picture yet, but I will soon, you should see how he actually climbs into the bowl and straddles the pool then ever so gracefully sips the water inside.

Gomez is only a week younger than Batman [see fig. 7], and they are best friends. He is Black and white, with a black mustache looking mark on his face that makes him look, well like Gomez. About a month ago Gomez had a run in with the fan belt of Jakes Dads pick up, and as a result is missing his right ear. He's okay, but with his equilibrium askew, he always has his head cocked so the ear he does have is hoisted in the air. He loves to sleep, and he takes great care in finding a comfortable place to lay. Usually it’s in the highest place in the room. If he can help it it's right in Vodka's view and out of reach, which drives the dog nuts of course.

Vodka is our dog [see fig. 8(this picture is at 3 months old)]. He is 7 months old yesterday, weighs in at 87 lbs and has an incredibly hilarious personality. He is a purebred dog, the breed is called Dogo Argentino****. He is all white with faint specking on his fur. Specking is different then spotting because when a dog has specking the spot is largely on their skin and not their fur. Because the fur is white the spot faintly shows through, and on some of the bigger skin spots there are small specks of dark fur, hence specking. Since getting the dog I have realized that male bonding is not restricted within one's own species. I call him 'the boy' often to Lara, and little does she know I feel more fatherly than I probably should. As I watch my little boy (yes the dog) grow up I feel an element of pride as he learns and progresses. For example, one thing someone who has never owned a dog or puppy may not know is that dogs have to learn things just like us. I was always under the impression they were just born knowing how to be dogs. Male dogs even have to learn how to lift their legs when they pee. For the first few months they squat like a girl dog. Just the other day whilst out and about with Vodka, he was standing by a bush, and I wasn't watching closely, but he stumbled and fell awkwardly into the bush. Later that day as I walked him I realized he was attempting to lift his leg, but couldn't quite get his balance right. Each time he would square up to an object, start to lift his leg. What looked to me like 'nervously', he would move his leg up, down, up, down, and then extend. His other three legs began to wobble, and then all at once he would fall into the object he was “marking”. I felt bad for him each time he would fail, trying so hard, I felt embarrassed. I wanted to help him out, you know hold his leg up or something... but obviously, either he never would have learned or I would have to hold his leg up for the rest of my life. Even for me, that’s just silly. I was rewarded as any proud father when I saw his first successful leg lift from start to finish. He finished and trotted off with all the triumph of an Olympic Gold winner. I realized however that his triumph, his sense of achievement was dwarfed by my beaming pride in that moment. It was very exciting. Very very exciting. In that same week Vodka learned how to swim. He has also learned how to bark at strangers in the night who come with-in 5 meters of our ghetto located apartment. Also how to catch a tennis ball in the air. It was a very cool week. For some, the comparison between my dog and fatherhood my seem a little off the mark. I think its great preparation in the future event that I have children.

Well, that about sums things up for now. Just a couple side notes, soccer is still fun and good, we start the fall season on Sept. 6th. The summer has been very exciting with numerous vacations and adventures in our convertible [see fig. 12]. Finally, I have the Movie that my good friend Cameron Daley and I co-wrote, directed, and produced which won “Best Picture” at the University of Utah Independent film festival in 2000 out on DVD. There are only 6 copies left, they are $9.99, that includes shipping. If you’re interested, please notify me.

I love you and look forward to further fraternizations. Keep in touch. Until next time, goodbye.


*This includes questions like: What is the difference between a Catholic and a Mormon? or, Rumor has it there is a disease contracted from contact to cat poop that pregnant women are susceptible to and can give the Baby brain damage... What should we do?

**While writing my letter I think of points that are an “asterisks worthy addition”, however I don't write the point down until after the letter is completed. For the life of me I can't remember what I wanted to insert here.

***This would be in the case that someone asked you “Who is the coolest person that you have ever known?” For the designated day you would simply say John Maxim. Other qualifying questions on said day are “Who is your hero?” “If you could be like anybody who would it be?” and “If there is one person you would have accompany you on a deserted desert Island who would it be?” - Also, there are T-shirts of various sizes and colors now available which say “John Maxim is the coolest person I've ever known” for only $9.95. Contact me for availability.

****Most people haven't heard of Vodka's breed, and I was ridiculed recently for relaying the tale of how he was named in a previous email, but not regaling you with the tale of how the breed came to be about. So, here goes. In the early 1900's in Argentina the economy, for some reasons I haven't yet determined called for children to travel between towns to transport stuffs. Wild puma's would use this opportunity to come out of the jungle and have a quick kiddy snack. A Doctor who happened to be a dog enthusiast and hunter, wanted to create a dog that could be tame and gentle enough to accompany the children on their treks, but also not only deter the large feline assailant but in the event of a confrontation be big, strong, and courageous enough to defend the little children to the death. This Doctor began in 1904 and finally after 20 years of methodical breeding using 10 previous breeds***** produced the Dogo Argentino (which I believe translated into English means 'Argentine Bulldog'). After the years they became astounding “Large Game” pack hunters specializing in Puma, Cougar and 400+ pound Wild Boar. Argentina became so proud of the beast that for fear of the breed being perverted by the savage Americans (much like the Pit Bull) did not allow the Dog out of Argentina until 1985. Now it is practically unknown, the only reason I learned about it was because of one of those “Which Dog Breed is best for you” tests on the internet.

***** Including Old Cordoba Fighting Dog (a now extinct breed from Argentina), Old English Mastiff, Bull Terrier, English Bull Dog, Pointer, Great Dane, Spanish Mastiff, Irish Wolfhound, Great Pyrenees, Dogue De Bordeaux, and the Boxer.

Thursday, July 3, 2003

on the john 2.7: What do you know about pressure...

approx read time 14 mins*

This might be a little confusing, because I am combining two email groups for this correspondence. Whether it is because I am full of myself, or the fact that I enjoy chronicling the minuet details of my life. I, as most of you know, write a lot of emails. As a result you, my friends and family, are subject to a barrage of written updates. Today the events I wanted to relay, are poignant to two of my major email lists. "on the john" (which chronicles the life and times of John Maxim (aka John Henderson)) and "Soccer fans" (which consists of the journalistic stylings of Johnny Metropolis, and weekly team updates for SHOUTY AUDI (the men's soccer team with which I belong)) So I have combined the two. Just be aware that "on the john" emails tend to be a little more personal, and intimate than the usual "soccerfan" emails. "on the john's" are typically longer as well, and sometimes best read in parts. As always you can be removed from either list simply by requesting it. Or if you would like to receive both (many already do) it can be arranged by you simply requesting it. You can also request that others receive the emails, please let them know however before requesting it to be so. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, on to the matter at hand.

Many of you know about my newest hobby, Soccer. Growing up I enjoyed sports and considered myself quite the little athlete. Enjoying baseball, football, and basketball, I thought soccer was for pansies. I dubbed it the sport that the kids who weren't big, strong, or fast enough to play football, baseball, and basketball, played. I held fast to this view until serving my Mormon mission in England. Those in Mother England lived, breathed, and ate soccer. I had opportunity to play in several games, and realized what an athlete’s game it was. It became apparent that my days as a shortstop made me somewhat adept to being a goalie, and my love for soccer bloomed.

Upon returning home, my desire to get as much female companionship as possible overshadowed the soccer bug I caught, and it almost went away. Then, one summer the two mixed, when I became infatuated with this girl soccer player I would go watch her indoor games. At the time I was living in the bachelor pad (see "on the john 1.2") and we were sitting around discussing how we felt out of shape, and wondered what could be done. Amidst ideas like opening a local Chip n Dale, soccer popped up. We all decided we would start an indoor soccer team. SHOUTY AUDI** was born. Our first season we didn't win one game, in fact the best game we played we lost 10 to 2... our worst game was 22 to 1. We were horrible. Mostly because none of us had any soccer experience. Those that did, played when they were 7. We resolved to stick with it (all of us except for Abe and Brenny) and had many more indoor soccer adventures. By our third season we became somewhat respectable, and even won a few games.

This spring SHOUTY AUDI moved from the indoor arena to the world of outdoor soccer. The season was a grand experience. With additional players, and a whole new game really. SHOUTY AUDI struggled to play as a team in the beginning. However we pulled out of it, and became one of the best teams in our division. We ended up winning a tournament called the Neumann Cup, and finishing the season with a 7 and 3 record. We won our last 5 games of the season, and scored 19 points on our opponents, while they only scored 2 points on us. We made it to the Championship.

Our opponent in the Championship game was called LEAVE IT BLANK. They had finished the season 9 to 1, and beat us twice, early in the season. We however defeated them in the Neumann Cup Championship. We were hopeful, and guessed we would have a victory. Another factor, the Utah Soccer Association only wanted to move one team from our division up to the next division. They wanted to move LEAVE IT BLANK up due to their record. The League advised us that in order to advance, we needed to win the championship game.

Now that the history and build up is out of the way, let me regale you with the story of the biggest soccer game of my life***. Ever since I started playing soccer in 2002, I always, always get nervous prior to the game. This is a, "butterfly's in the stomach makes me poo" nervousness that has been an unavoidable side effect of soccer competition. This game was no different, and realizing the magnitude of it, I really felt it. If you didn't realize, I am the goal keeper. Mostly because, in the beginning I was the best of the worst. Plus I don't think that I have the foot prowess to play out in the field or the commitment to gain it.

I got to the field on Saturday (6/21/03) and not a soul was there. Probably had something to do with me being an hour early. This nervous feeling was extreme, and I wondered if it would affect my play negatively. As the team arrived, it was evident all the guys felt somewhat the same, but with an underlying sense of confidence. The game started, and neither team seemed to have a clear advantage over the other. About half way through the first half, we had scored. This always puts a little more pressure on me because now we just had to hold the other team, I had to make sure nothing made it past the goal. Shortly thereafter, I step up to the challenge. A hard shot is taken from 10 yards out. It was one of those instances that are represented nicely in feature films. Things start to move in slow motion, I jump sideways, and the ball ricochets off my palms. Fast motion returns... I saved the day, for now. At half time we are ahead 1 to 0. The second half moves on, and things are a little more intense. LEAVE IT BLANK makes more of an assertive effort to pull something off. Then on one such attack, they do. One of their players kicks the ball three feet in front of the goal. I'm poised to catch it. Then from out of no where one of my players hits it with his head. The trajectory only changes slightly, but it's enough, and close enough that I can't react fast enough, and it goes right past me. A player from the other team who’s running across the goal hits the ball with his shoulder, and it goes in the goal. The score is tied, and even though people keep saying it's not my fault, it's hard to believe them. I think in reality, had I been three inches to the left I would have had it. In retaliation, and with a vengeance, one of our players (Dan) has the ball, and takes it past three of LEAVE IT BLANKS players and scores. I welcome the relief, since even though that "have to hold em" pressure is back on, it's far friendlier then the "if you tie you have to go to a shoot out" pressure. The second half moved on, many more shots were taken by both teams, but no scores. Then after a barrage of attacks LEAVE IT BLANK kicks the ball at the goal. I see it, and I'm ready for it. It's not a difficult shot to block. Except for the 18 guys cramped into that penalty box... the ball hits the legs of one of my players who is in motion. This time the ricochet isn't slight, and it zooms well out of my reach, and into the goal. They tied, and minutes later the second half ended. The score 2 - 2. I was getting really scared. I thought that we would have to do a shoot out. I've never done a shoot out. The ref's inform us however that in the Championship game we have to play two 15 minute halves, then if the score is tied we do the shoot out. So the next two halves continue, and things are in a stalemate. Both teams trying and failing to score for one reason or another. One of those reasons or another... LEAVE IT BLANK has the ball only a few yards from our goal. It's passed to a player right in front of me. I rush to him in an attempt to block any angle he has of the goal. I make my body as big as possible, and he kicks as hard as he can... Only two yards from the kick the ball fly's directly at me and strikes me right in "the family jewels." I try to cry out, but nothing comes out. Minuscule bolts of lightning cross my line of vision following the veins in my eye balls as I crash to the ground not realizing what's happening with the ball. (I'm told a member of my team gained possession and booted the ball away from our goal) I fall to my knees curled up in the fetal position. Searing pain crawls inside of me from the affected area up to the left side of my lower torso. Suddenly I realize where I am, and notice the ball is coming back this way. I stand clutching myself, and try really hard to focus on the ball rather than the pain. It works, and a few minutes later just a lingering discomfort remains. The over time ends, and nobody scored. That meant we had to go to a shoot out. I became more nervous than I can remember ever being before. I sought counsel from ex-goalkeeper and all around good guy Jeremy Pierce. He said that I should commit to whichever direction I feel most comfortable with, and that I should just go as hard as I can in that direction, and hope I hit the ball. He said that a strategy his brother used, who played keeper for Westminster College, was to go the exact same direction each time... So that's what I decided to do. For those of you not aware, in the shoot out the ball sits 15 yards from the goal, the goalie has to cover a box that is 24 feet long, and 8 feet high. Five players from each team take one shot intermittently against the opposing keeper. Who ever comes out with the most points scored, wins. In reality, it is highly improbable that the goalie stop any shot. In fact most shoot outs are won be cause a shooter will miss the goal altogether. I thought about the eminent confrontation. I realized that all I had to do theoretically was stop the ball once and we would win. As the team gathered to discuss offensively who would be taking the shots for our team. I walked towards them to be a part of the stratagem... then someone said "John, you need some time alone?" I looked up at him and he was nodding and he said again "you need some time alone." I realized the second time it wasn't a question. He motioned with his head over to an empty spot on the field. I nodded and walked in that direction. I figured this was some "soccer tradition" which would enable the goalie to get into a zone of some kind, to focus on the matter at hand. I became increasingly nervous, wondering why my first ever experience with this had to be in the Championship game. With a thousand thoughts racing through my head my nervousness increased. When in mid thought I was wrenched out of my "zone" to notice a small trickle of urine running down my leg! I looked around nervously to see if any of the players or myriad of fans were watching me. I didn't see anyone looking, and wiped my self of with my goalie gloves. Had I really gotten so nervous I had wet myself? or was it the kick in the pants I received earlier? I wasn't really sure, perhaps a combination of the two. This loss of control over my bodily functions perplexed me, and dominated my thoughts until I heard the referee's whistle signifying the start of the shoot out.

The other goalie goes first. He misses the shot, and we score. I go next. I had decided to jump to the right each time. However I hesitated, and saw the ball going to the left. I lunged... but because I didn't move the moment the ball was kicked I wasn't even close. We score again on our turn. This time I decide to just go right. I set up, he kicks I jump as hard as I can. A slow motion episode ensues, and I think I've got it. Then I feel my finger tips touch the ball, but with out any substance I can't stop it, and they score again. This time our player kicks the ball over the goal... I realize that unless I stop one it's over. With my decision to jump, I pick right again. He kicks, I jump, the ball is going the opposite direction I am, and when I try to correct mid air, I just fall down on my side. They score again. Then we score. Then in the exact same fashion as before, they score. Then we score. Now it's down to this, if they score we lose, if not we take more kicks, have another chance. I position myself on the line, I stare at the player in an attempt to intimidate him, maybe see where his eyes are going. Nothing… he won’t even look at me. The whistle blows, he runs on the ball. I prepare to jump right... he kicks, I jump. For the third time in a row, the ball goes the opposite way I do. I writhe in mid-air to attempt to get to it, but to no avail. I sit up on the ground. I hear cheering, but it all sounds distant and muffled. I had failed. I felt horrible. I wondered if I would ever play soccer again . I didn't want to see anyone, or speak to anyone, or hear people say, "don't worry about it man, those shots are impossible to block", or "you did your best." I just sat there... and looked pathetic. The other goalie walked up to me and informed me of how he had never lost a shoot out. I wanted to yell at him and tell him he didn't block anything, the only reason he won is because we missed the goal once. I fantasized about bashing his head in with the runner-up trophy I held. Luckily the thought of how ridiculous a "runner-up" trophy is , consumed my hatred... who do you know that has a trophy case full of runner-ups. "Look every one, I lost!"

Lucky for me the drama of the moment ended... the next morning. I decided I would play more soccer, and already we won the first game of summer season last Saturday. So that's it for this month. If you would like to attend some of our soccer games, or be updated on how our season is going, just let me know. Thanks for reading. I know that my last two "on the johns" haven't had a lot of how Lara and I are doing info, but I'll do one of those next time. Just be aware we are well and happy.


*This is a new feature added to "on the johns" to inform readers what they're getting themselves into.
**SHOUTY AUDI-where does the name come from? Well a long time ago 3 of the team founders went on a road trip from Salt lake to lake Powell. All three actively played the driving game "Slug Bug". For reasons unknown, the three in an attempt to be cooler, and have more fun then was previously possible invented other car/rhyme/action games. Including "Razor Blazer", "Slob Saab", "Beemer Weiner", "Bus Cuss" and "Shouty Audi" each game had a coinciding action. In the game "Shouty Audi" if whilst driving you saw a Audi made automobile, you would say: Shouty Audi, the color, and then scream as load as you possibly could at the top of you lungs... intern scaring everyone in the car, even those prepared for it. Whether or not you think its fun is up to you. The three founders thought it very fun however, and as a result for no reason in particular it was chosen as the soccer team’s name.
***Yes, the biggest soccer game of my life. Not saying much obviously, but still a true statement.

Saturday, June 7, 2003

on the john 2.6: Flailing...

As I look around the crowd of faces before me, I notice some bearing expressions of excitement, some boredom, and some that "pretend to be excited but really really nervous" face. I wonder which expression I am giving off, I realize I'm not even pretending to be excited, I'm scared. I glance over at my wife, I haven't seen her with that expression since the last time she had to give blood, she hates needles. She looks up at me and forces a plastic smile, then looks away again not wanting to leave the happy place she found to keep her mind off the immanent danger that lay ahead. All of the sudden the wind gets fierce, people start yelling. There is a voice yelling into my ear. "GO, GO, GO!!!" The room clears out really fast, and then the voice screams "SLIDE FORWARD, SLIDE FORWARD." I find myself in the fetal position with my hands across my chest my eyes closed, and this tiny feeling of excitement trying to bubble up through the fear that was consuming me. I can feel that there is nothing supporting the front half of my feet, all of my weight is resting on my heels. A powerful wind is slapping me in the face. The voice yells again "ARE YOUR EYES OPEN?" My reply is lost in t he wind, but I open my eyes. The scene before me is actually quite serene considering the circumstances. Then the voice yells again "HEAD BACK, OUT, IN, OUT, ARCH!!!" I follow his instructions, and for a brief second I black out. My adrenaline takes over for a moment and erases that second of my memory. When it comes back, I'm screaming. Moving at a really fast 120 miles an hour. The goggles I'm wearing are smashing up against my face. I stop screaming realizing 'what's the point?' I stop being scared. The excitement takes over I yell "WOO HOOO!" I can't hear it though, moving into the wind. That minute, which seemed like an eternity, was so thrilling, that I now know what the word 'thrill' really means. Then as fast as it began it ended. I was suddenly lurched back, my body flailing around. Then this floating sensation. I look around at where I am, it was perhaps the most incredible view I have ever had the pleasure of partaking. No buildings or trees blocking the scene. The only limit I had was 'as far as the eye could see.' Then the voice yells (I had forgotten about the voice) "LOOK THERE'S YOUR WIFE." An arm appears from behind me, and points. I of course follow the direction of the pointing gesture. I see a body far off. Upon closer inspection I see that it is my wife... her body flailing around like a rag doll much like I had earlier. "SHE MADE IT!" I yelled cheering. Then I realized I need to take this all in, I needed to absorb as much as I could because things like this don't happen every day. As our destination drew closer and closer, I tried to just take it all in, then, all to soon, the voice says "Lift your legs... now flair!" I pull down putting my hands behind my buttocks, and we slowly slide to a very comfortable halt. All I can say is "Can I go again? Huh? Huh?”

This, if you haven't noticed is the experience that I had whilst skydiving a week ago. We went for Lara’s Birthday. I would highly recommend it. I'll be going again shortly... you can come, you should come.


"What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?"

Saturday, May 24, 2003

on the john 2.5: You might miss it...

It has been a little longer then my self proclaimed goal of once a month since my last letter. In all honesty, life has slowed down to a comfortable pace. Now I have a chance as stated by Ferris Bueller to "stop and look around once in a while..."

Don't get me wrong, I'm still really busy, and the scheming and dreaming hasn't ceased. However the bombardment of major life events has hit a lull, and I'm grateful for it. Especially since it allows me to reflect a little bit more on not such profound and significant events like marriage, child birth, and family. Rather I can comment on some of life's less interesting quandaries.

For example it has come to my attention that snacking is no longer as easy as it used to be. A snack consists essentially of a food item and a beverage. It used be that you could get a can of soda for 50 cents, and then your food item; chip/candy bar for 50 cents. One crisp neatly folded dollar bill was all you needed for snacking bliss. It was so convenient.

Today you need a few cents more. It’s not the extra 15-30 cents that’s so annoying, it's the fact that in order to do the same, you need the extra coins to accompany your bill, these are easily lost and sometimes can ruin a snacking adventure. I'm not saying we should sic President Bush on the matter, it's just a little annoyance that will not go away until they put card readers in vending machines, or that whole bar-code in the forehead thing comes along.

In reality, the foremost thought lingering in my mind is this new "feeling/emotion" that suddenly plagues my life. I've always heard about it, people always told me that it was a problem, but I've never really encountered it. I'm talking about stress! What is the horrid beast that brings out this part of me I hope to quickly extinguish. It's called responsibility.

Amazing how life changes when you care about somebody other than yourself isn't it. I remember very confidently in the past saying that I didn't get stressed. It was true. Really the two biggest worries in life were achieving an even guy to girl ratio at one of the numerous parties I threw, and making sure I arrived at the theater early enough on opening night to get my favorite seat. I really was only concerned with myself. Who I was dating, how I felt, what I did. I slipped into a comfortable, lazy, careless life style.

Now however, caring about only me is no longer an option. I have somebody else to worry about. Suddenly instead of thinking "How am I ever going to complete this mission with this wimpy gun"* I think "Where are we going to be in five years, what bills have I not paid, how can we possibly afford that, and does anyone know how to install a garbage disposal?" In retrospect I sometimes wish I had worried about things like this before... maybe I'd have some of these questions figured out.

Although, even though I'm new at worrying about things like this I suspect it does no good. All the sudden all those talks my Mom gave me seem to make sense though. I realize that there is more to life than remembering the "30 guys" code for Contra**. I'm no where near a nervous breakdown or anything, and I would still consider myself a little less worrisome than some. However, responsibility is still a concern looming over me. Luckily, I'm all ready working on a 5 year plan on eliminating this whole stress hogwash. I won’t reveal my secret formula, but it includes:
Cameron Daley, College, the CBS hit reality TV show Survivor, Nintendo
Game Cube, and large amounts of Flaming Hot Cheeto's. I'll let you know how it turns out.

For the update on how our marriage is going... (which still is the #1 query I hear) it's good. It's great really. We've made all the necessary compromises, for example: In church she opens the Hymn book and finds the page, then I hold the book for the duration of the song. She vacuums and I mow the lawn. She makes sure we get in bed early, and I make sure we wake up early. She plans the trips and I drive on the trips. She brings common sense, reality, spirituality, compassion, and good health practices into the relationship. I bring humor, spontaneity, optimism, and leave the seat down. We will reach the end of our first six months in a couple weeks. The firsts two weeks were fantastic, the next 16 weeks were turbulent, and now it's terrific.

Our puppy dog, Vodka is now 4 1/2 months old. When we got him 12 weeks ago he weighed 11 pounds. Yesterday we took him to the vet to get his final set of puppy shots, and he weighed 46.9 lbs. He is a really good dog, house trained and graduating from puppy kindergarten on Wednesday. He can sit, lie down, and stand up on command. We will advance him through further training in an attempt to teach him to turn on and off the lights, fetch my flip flops, and to never get diarrhea again.

Finally, I wanted to address something very dear to my heart. My wife.
No, not how much I love her, or how beautiful, charming, and sweet she is. What I wanted to refer to was her name. Now please don't take this personal, I had the same problem for the first month we dated. What needs to be addressed is the pronunciation of her name. Her name is spelled L-A-R-A. Not L-O-R-A, or L-A-U-R-A. (in the following sentences words contained within [] are "sounds like")The most common mistake (which I was guilty of for the first little while) is to call her [LORE-UH] as this is the most common variation of pronunciation for names of this type. Those who read the name will commonly say her name is [LAIR-UH] this is a horrid mistake and any offenders should seek penance within their various belief system. Her name is [LAR-UH] like unto [CAR-UH], [TAR-UH], or [JAR-UH].

The etymology of her name is as follows, it comes from a Greek legend. There was this Naiad named Lara. A Naiad is a Nymph that rules over a body of water. Anyway, she turned in Zeus for cheating on his wife. As a Result, Zeus had his son Hermes, (who also was his messenger, kind of like his right hand man) take Lara to Hades (the Underworld). On their trip, they got busy, and Lara conceived twin sons called "The Lares". The Lares became the protectors of the crossroads and defenders of the peace. After the Greeks demise, the Romans adopted the word Lar as a spirit which protected a household (this due to the aforementioned legend). When Julius Caesar died he was believed to be the "Lar of Rome". Which gives the name Lara its current meaning, "famous one." As a result, the Great Granddaughter of Julius Caesar was named Lara, which in-turn brought the name out of obscurity and into civilization. Then with Rome covering vast parts of Europe it became a common place all over the continent.

Famous Lara's in our generation include the ever popular Lara Croft of
"Tomb Raider", Superman's mother was named Lara (the one on the planet
Krypton who actually gave birth to him), and from Boris Pasternak's novel "Doctor Zhivago" Lara was the female protagonist. The latter is actually the Lara which inspired my wife's parents to name her Lara. So anyway, that’s her name, that’s how you pronounce it, it's a real name, and very common. So try to get it right. My wife of course is far too sweet and kind, to ever say anything or correct mistakes, but she likes her name the way it's supposed to be and since I have neither of those quality's (sweet/kind) I figured I'd set the record strait.

Well, thanks for listening... until next time, I hope to see you at a family function, social outing, or maybe you could stop by one of my soccer games***.


P.S. I once again have lost my phone, including all phone #'s. Please send me yours again! Also I got a new phone with a digital camera in it so I can take your photo, and then when you call me your face pops up, pretty cool huh.

*This is a reference to Rock Star Games "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" a popular video game available on Play Station 2.
**Contra is an old video game available on the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). There is a code that needs to be punched in via the control pad during the opening presentation which allows a player to have 30 guys or lives instead of the usually allotted three.
The code is UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, SELECT, START. Everybody who was anybody (females excluded) that grew up in the late 80's knew this code, and it would probably scare you how many of those people you know still have it memorized.
***For those who aren't aware, I my brother and many of our mutual friends play on an outdoor men’s soccer team. If you are interested in attending a game, Please contact John Maxim at 801-541-0849.

"You know the world's gone mad when the best rapper is a white guy,
the best golfer is a black guy, the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese,
the Swiss hold the American Cup, France is accusing the USA of
arrogance and the Germans don't want to go to war!"

Monday, March 24, 2003

on the john 2.4: Avoiding awkward and uncomfortable confrontations...

Generally, I don't write 'on the johns' this often, however the news below necessitates a message. I must warn you, what you are about read is not for the faint of heart.

First a quick example/analogy. As many of you know, over the past year I have come to love soccer*. I of course am not the average spry quick footed soccer player you'd expect, I play goal keeper. I represent 7% of the worlds soccer players. I find that as the Goalie, there is a lot of pressure. Whenever the ball comes my way, I'm usually the last line of defense. I do my best, and confidently, I think I do pretty darn good. Alas I can't stop every shot (yet), and it really sucks when I don't.

I am very aware of every shot that becomes a goal that I needed to stop. What I hate, more than letting the shot go in even, is the fan that says "It's okay John, better luck next time." or "oooh, that one was close you'll get the next one." Don't get me wrong, I know they mean well, and aren't gloating or mocking me. It's just uncomfortable for them to bring it up, I know I missed... every one else knows I missed. No reason to broadcast it. It's a sad situation, is it poignant to acknowledge it? I would just rather my failure dwindle in to a forgotten maybe even unnoticed realm. Just gotta move on, there's a game to finish. Even worse, is after the fact, the games over, and people come up and try and console me for missed shots. I don't want to talk about it, it's awkward and weird. Forget about the missed shots, tell me I did awesome, congratulate me on that diving save I made in the 63rd minute where I fully laid out and stopped the ball with one hand and how you were so touched by it that your going to go home and write the event in your journal. Now this example might seem a little extreme, it is. It's the only thing I could think of to help you relate to the upcoming information and request.

On Wednesday the 19th of this month Lara and I went to the doctors office for our first visit. This is after I figured out the difference between an OBGYN and a general practitioner. We got to the Doctors office, a little nervous, kind of excited. We get in to see someone after a slew of paperwork is filled out. She weighs Lara, does some checks here and there, this is fine, that is fine, oh, your so and so many weeks along, everything is wonderful, bla bla bla.

Then she excitedly says, "Do you want to hear the heartbeat???" We of course were excited and said yes. She gets out this little contraption and puts it up to Lara's tummy. I can here this sound, and its kind of the way it sounds when you underwater. I couldn't make anything out though, and every slightly irregular sound I heard, I thought was a heartbeat. I started to get a little concerned as this Nurse continued to search and not say anything. After at least five minutes (what seemed like forever) she said "I can't seem to find a heartbeat." then she disclaimed "That doesn't mean there isn't one, you may not be as far along as we think. (which is very feasible because Lara's periods are irregular) So I'm going to set up an ultra sound appointment for you at the hospital today. Lara asks "Do you think I might not even be pregnant?" she replied "No, I'm certain you are pregnant."

So Lara and I proceed to the hospital. Both saying we weren't too worried, that everything was going to be okay. Our minds were clouded by war and such, since today was the end of President Bush's ultimatum. We were admitted rather quickly, and got hooked up to the ultra sound machine**. Again I, unsuspecting that anything was truly amiss, was very excited. The nurse (or whatever she's called) comes in and using the ultra sound wand, starts to look around fervently for something, this screen portrayed black and white fuzziness. An extreme element of concern welled up inside of me as an entire three minutes went by and she said nothing. I couldn't really make sense of what I was seeing, and I noticed my wife starting to tear up.

Being overly optimistic I still had a belief that in moments the nurse would say "There, see that flickering, that’s a heart, your baby is perfectly healthy." Then I see a black shape... It looks just like those pictures of a uterus I saw in 8th grade 'sex ed'. Inside of this black hour-glass looking thing I see a little gray ball. I don't know too much about these ultra-soun thingys, but I figure the resemblance to my sex-ed text book pictures is uncanny and that I'm looking at our baby. The nurse proceeds to zoom in and measure this gray ball and do all sorts of stuff with this computer. The whole while not saying a word. After about fifteen minutes, the nurse says, let me grab the radiologist.

At this point Lara and I look at each other, the concern on our faces is all the communication we can muster and we wait. Every shred of hope I had was gone and I wanted to leave. I really wasn't looking forward to someone else coming in and looking for something and not saying anything and driving me nuts. Unfortunately that’s what happened. The radiologist comes in, and does just that. I was just waiting for him to say what I already knew. Then the nurse, now watching over the radiologists shoulder, walks over to a box of kleenex and hands a couple to Lara. She keeps one for herself though, and I notice shes teared up also.

Then the radiologist nervously says "I can't find a heartbeat." He is putting the machine away, and with one final shred of hope Lara asks "Could we not be as far along as we thought?" (I can tell this guy has no idea how to word what he has to say) He stutters through "Um, no. There is usually a flickering motion and with a body this size there should be one and there isn't. There isn't a heartbeat." Even though we both knew the truth for the last 15 minutes, it was still a huge shock. We didn't know how to take the news. It was after hours, and our doctor had gone home long before the ultra sound. They told us to wait and they would get an on call doctor to explain what to do. We sat in that little room and just held each other crying. The nurse came back and said we don't have a Doctor for you to talk to, you'll be fine, just go home and call your doctor in the morning. We left. We cried. We spent the evening with each other trying to cheer up dispel the blame we kept trying to put on ourselves for every little thing we thought we could or couldn't have done to change the outcome.

The next morning the Doctor told us that it was a basic run of the mill thing. She told us that any woman who has any number of children will experience a miscarriage like ours in there life time. In the past three days talking to others I have come to find this really is the case. She comforted us and told us nothing could be done, that the life process had started, but that Lara's body knew it wouldn't finish and ended it at the best possible time.

Lara will be able to have children again, and looks forward to it. In our prayers we constantly told the Lord that we leave our baby in his hands, and we strongly believe that this was meant to be and onward we'll move. It's sad it really is, but we're happy. We don't know a whole lot about when the spirit of a person actually enters the body, but we figure if it was there, he/she will be in our eternal family hereafter, and if not, we'll get him/her next time. As Lara pointed out to me, The Lord in his infinite wisdom has a plan, and we often times miss the point simply because we can't look at the big picture, we just see the part we're in at the moment.

Having said all that. If you’re confused about the soccer analogy. We know you care, and we know you're sorry. We have a game to finish though and just want to move on. The longer I am married the more naive I discover I am. I now understand why people wait until the 2nd trimester to announce they have a baby coming. I never did quite get that. I was just so excited... Originally we decided that this is the kind of information not appropriate for an 'on the john' however, thanks to my big mouth, the constant experiences that go like this--

INNOCENT INDIVIDUAL: How’s your wife did you find out when the baby was due yet?
JOHN: "Oh um, actually we had our first ultrasound, and the baby didn't have a heartbeat..."
INNOCENT: ... Oh, I'm so sorry. Are you okay, how’s Lara.
JOHN: It's okay, no were fine.

--have prompted us to inform people on a more formal note. Hoping to avoid these awkward uncomfortable confrontations for both parties.

Thanks for reading. We love you and appreciate your concern. Really though, as many of you know from experience, and many of you know others who have experienced this. It happens a lot, there are plenty of others who need your concern much more that we do. We look forward to next time and will of course inform you accordingly, just maybe a little later.


*For those who don't know. The Authors soccer team, "Shouty Audi" has moved from indoor to outdoor soccer. The season starts this Saturday. For those of you fans who desire to know when games are as to attend and not point out any of the goals the Keeper lets pass, simply reply to this email with the word 'FAN' in the subject line, and you'll be added to the Shouty Audi fan email list you'll only receive game information and possible team outings. Your email address will not be sold to other companies or individuals.

**This author’s limited knowledge of technology makes him unsure if this is actually a machine. Since a machine is a device consisting of moving parts that modifies technical energy and transmits it in a more useful form. Rumor has it these days that a computer has few if any moving parts especially bits that contribute to its actual useful purpose. Then again he could be way off.

PS: Still on the look out for a fridge, I have a couple in the works, and if you didn't hear... I need a used refrigerator and I'm willing to pay for it. I'll also provide labor for removing it, and I'll even move in your replacement for you.

Friday, March 14, 2003

on the john 2.3: I fought the law, and our special little guy...

I fought the Law, and our special little guy...

It's no secret that I have what might be considered a less than perfect driving record. With 19 lifetime speeding tickets, four reckless driving citations, three suspensions, and a revocation under my belt (none of which were alcohol related) I might be one of the foremost authorities on the subject. When your record is this terrible, it's strange how things constantly happen to your driving privileges without you really being aware. The tale which is about to unfold is a representation of that fact.

Back in November, I had kind of forgotten to get my car registered. So my friendly neighborhood Highway Patrol Officer graciously pulled me over on sight. He went through the usual routine, license, registration, bla bla bla. Asked for my excuse, which I didn't have. Then he went back to his car for about 3 minutes and came back and said, “Are you aware your license has been suspended.” “No?” I replied honestly. The officer gave me the citation, gave me a warning for not having my car registered, and sent me strait home to think about what I'd done. I come to find out the reason my license was suspended was because of this little thing called an SR-22. It's a little piece of paper that lets law enforcement know that the bearer of this document was caught driving without insurance some time in the past 5 years. The problem was, even though I had a copy in my car, that my insurance company hadn't sent a copy to the DMV. So the DMV suspended my license. Anyway the penalty for driving on a suspended license is $500.00. I didn't want to pay it, nor did I think I should since my insurance company assured me they had sent in the SR-22.

So I decided to fight the law! The other day I went to court for an arraignment. What an arraignment is; it's when all these supposed badie's go before a judge and just say either 'guilty' or 'not guilty'. If you say 'guilty' the judge sentences you right there, if you say 'not guilty', you come back at a later date. So, I show up and there are probably thirty people sitting in this room that looks like a Perry Mason TV stage. All kinds of people. I thought it would just be hardened criminals like me but all sorts turned out. Anyway they play this video twice, once in English, then in Spanish that explains your rights. Then the judge comes out and starts the long process. It starts with anyone who doesn't speak English. They have an interpreter come up... that part is very boring (if like me you don't speak spanish).

Then it's kind of fun to watch. People are in for all sorts of stuff. Almost everybody plead 'not guilty', then the judge just said “okay here's your next court date, be on your way.” What I found fascinating is the judge would talk those few who wanted to plead 'guilty' into pleading 'not guilty'. One guy got up there and it went like this:
SUSPECT: Your honor this is stupid, this is about two potatoes.
JUDGE: What's your plea?
SUSPECT: I don't know, I defiantly don' wanna come back for no other court date.
JUDGE: You understand for this crime the maximum penalty could be a $2500 dollar fine and up to 90 days in jail?
SUSPECT: Yeah, yeah, but aw I- this is about two potatoes, I paid for them and then they put me in-
JUDGE: Sir I don't want to hear your story, unless you plead guilty, and then the penalty could be up to $2500 and 90 days in jail. Now what's your plea?
SUSPECT: Well, I don't know your honor. I just got this job I don't think I can get time off.
JUDGE: I sure wouldn't plead guilty if I hadn't done anything. Prosecutor what's the case against MR. So and so?
PROSECUTOR: Apparently he opened a bag of potatoes, and put two more inside the bag then sealed it up and left the premises of the store.
JUDGE: Well sir, unless you think you can convince me otherwise right now, then plead 'not guilty', and take your case to a jury of your peers.

Eventually this goof plead not guilty. Constantly the Judge would say, "you understand the maximum penalty is..." and "Do you understand the maximum penalty?"

Eventually my turn came up after about two hours of sheer entertainment. I get up to the podium, the judge goes over my personal information, goes over my charges, and says “What do you plead?” I say, “Well actually your honor I understand quite well what my maximum penalty might be, but what is the minimum penalty I could incur?” He said, “Well, Zero, I have complete discretion.” I said, “oh then I want to take my chances with you, I plead 'guilty'.” Laughter could be heard from the audience behind me. He asked the Prosecutor what the case was, she explained, and then he asked me what I had to say. I told the aforementioned tale and explained why I thought I should, if not be let free, at least have the $500 fine lowered. (This all happened in about 2 1/2 minutes) Then before the judges reply the prosecutor says “Your honor the state has a deal to offer.” The judge says, “continue.” Prosecutor says, “We'll drop the fine to $150 and put him on six month good behavior probation.” The Judge looks at me and says. “Well?” I say, “Can I get a $50 dollar fine and have a one year probation?” The judge looks at the prosecutor, she says, “The state will accept that.” I say, “I'll take it.” Bustling conversation and quiet laughter fill the room behind me.

The judge smiles and says “Great. I love to see justice work so quickly like that.” As I walk out of the room down the isle with all those others looking at me. I smile and people are looking at me smiling, shaking their heads, I even got a thumbs up. Not many feelings rival how I felt in that moment it's one of those moments like when you bless the sacrament and can feel the breeze of 300 people saying amen in your direction, or like being the goalie who just won the tied game between two rival teams by not letting any shots in on the shoot out, or like sitting in a balcony listening to a crowd laugh at a movie you created. It was pretty great.

Just for those of you wondering, the special little guy in the title is not referring to the gender of our baby. You can't tell that till like 4 months you fools. What I was talking about is our new baby boy dog! His name is Vodka, and he is adorable. To Answer your first two questions I will use these next two paragraphs.

What kind of dog is Vodka you ask? He is a Dogo Argentino. It is the only pure bred dog from South America. His history is actually quite fascinating. Back oh a couple hundred years ago. In Argentina the people had a big problem with cougars and puma's coming out of the woods and eating people, kids mostly. Luckily they had a couple dog breeders who took on the task of creating a dog who could not only be courageous enough to defend their villages, be fast enough and smart enough to hunt the large cats and also wild boars (boars grow up to 400 lbs, are very ferocious, and at the time were their biggest source of food) but also be a good family dog, one that's great with kids, loyal, and in the home docile. 25 years and 10 dogs later and they had the Dogo Argentino. They are fairly rare in the United States, but adorable, and perfect for Lara and me.

Why on Earth did you name your dog Vodka? Well, back on my mission in the city of Leeds England whilst serving as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was working with a man Named Brian Birmum who we helped stop drinking in order to be baptized and join the church. He was a serious alcoholic, and it was a very difficult undergoing. However, upon succeeding Brian thought my assistance was significant enough to merit a trophy of sorts. He gave me a shirt. It was an Everclear (Not the Band, the Brand of Vodka) T-shirt, which was a favorite alcohol of his.

I have always had the shirt as well as a sentimental attachment to it. Now, I am married, and alas after having the shirt for 6 years... I was convinced to retire the shirt forever. It was hashed, the collar was separating from itself, it had holes, stains and other such discrepancies. The decision to get rid of the shirt was made when we purchased the Dog. When searching for a name, we decided to attach the sentimental hold I had on the shirt to the dog, and thus Vodka is his name. Vodka is great, he is only 8 weeks old, and for about 5 hours a day a little ball of energy. He has already displayed a very specific personality which is really cool. He loves Lara more than he loves me, (I think that’s the case with most everybody) and we're amazed at how smart he already is. Well, that’s about that. Lara is doing well, the sickness seems to have subsided for a time. We should have a due date for the baby very soon. Thanks for reading.


Thursday, January 30, 2003

on the john 2.1 1/2: Is it candy?

The odd occasion that I send a half "on the john" is upon me once again. Listen to the following true story:

Tuesday 1/28/03 4:57pm
–words contained within {} are replacements for actual words used.
I'm sitting at my desk amidst a sea of cubicles, I answer my phone.
JOHN: Loan Servicing this is John.
VOICE: Is this Mr. Maxim?
JOHN: This is Mr. Maxim, how can I help you?
VOICE: (Yelling) I have been trying to get a hold of you for two days! What the {eff} do you think this {effing} is? I have a {effing} family to care for, I have to deal with a stupid son of a {bishop} like you {effing} sitting smug as {poo} in Salt Lake City...
JOHN: (calmly) Mr. Sand--
VOICE: Do not presume to {effing} interrupt me, {Gosh dangit}! (still yelling) If you {effing} think I'm leaving my home you can go to hell. {Eff} that {poo}, I {effing} ain't leaving, all of the Lords fury couldn't get me outta of this {effing} house. Go ahead send the sheriff, go ahead I don't give a rats {bottom}. Now Mr. Maxim I have tried to {effing} be nice, I have tried to {effing} be civil. {Eff} all that {poo}. I need a resolution. {Poo}! I want a {effing} fix?
JOHN: (calmly) Mr. Sanders, If you use one more profane statement, I will end this call. Mr. Sanders were you aware that your house was supposed to go to Foreclosure sale yesterday? Did a sheriff come and evict you?
VOICE: No, I ain't seen no Sheriff, but he best bring--
JOHN: Mr. Sanders the reason you haven't seen the Sheriff is because I stopped your Foreclosure sale two days ago. You get to stay in your home, the arrangements have been made like we discussed.
VOICE: Oh, really? Oh... Oh, I uh--
JOHN: Have a nice day Mr. Sanders.*
I hang up the phone and leave work for the day, more than ready to go home. A little tired and a little frustrated I get excited to see my wife and hopefully, watch the Simpson’s at six.

Tuesday 1/28/03 5:22pm
I walk through the door and there sits my ever stunning unbelievably super hot-n-sexy wife, Lara. She is reading a magazine and smiles at me. I start talking like I always do when I get home, just about all the junk that goes through my head during a day. It sounds something like Bla bla bla, bla bla bla, bla bla bla blaa! Lara entertains me as per usual, then she says "honey I have a surprise." I of course get really excited, because I loves surprises. "What?" I ask. She excitedly says "close your eyes." With eyes closed my mind starts to wonder 'hmmm what could the surprise be? Maybe she's gonna get naked while my eyes are closed**, or maybe she brought me home a yummy sandwich or salad from Nordstrom's, or maybe a can of Mountain Dew, clothes - she probably bought me some clothes...’ The more my mind races the more excited I get. I can hear her scampering around, then she says, "okay hold out your hands." I raise my arms as to receive a hug. She giggles, grabs my hands and puts them together in front of my body in cupping shape. Something is placed in my hands, and I think 'Oh yeah, she bought me a pack of Spree's' Lara says "okay open your eyes." I open my eyes and my gaze falls on something that I honestly have never seen before.

(WARNING: this gets a little embarrassing and slightly graphic) I look at Lara, her face is glowing. I look back at the item in my hands dumbfounded. "Uh, thanks sweetness..." She looks at me in disbelief. I am holding a long slender curvy item, its plastic, white with a pink/bluish*** end that looks like a lid. The white end had finger grips like some of the fancier toothbrushes. My first thought was that it was some kind of pen. "What is it darling?" I ask. She falls on to the couch her arms collapse between her legs and she has the most disappointed look on her face I have ever seen. She drops onto her side and then buries her head in the pillow and groans. I think to myself, 'I'm supposed to know what this is, I'd better find out.' So I start to inspect it.

I'd never heard of the brand name which was in big black letters on the tip of the white end. There are these two buttons or windows with little lines in them. I try and push them, but nothing happens. Then I pull the lid off to see if there is a pen underneath. No, its, its, a thin yellow - looks like a stick of gum - thing sticking out of the white end. I thought, 'maybe this is candy like a new fancy Star Trekish kind of sugar dip stick... maybe lemon flavor, ooh I like lemon.' My wife is alerted when she hears the snapping sound the lid makes when it pops off, and as I raise the yellow strip to my nose to sniff it, she grabs it out of my hands says, "You ruined the surprise." and stomps into the other room.

I yell after her. "Is it candy?"

After a few seconds of silence, I hear Lara burst into laughter from the bedroom. She says "Honey haven't you ever heard of e.p.t! (these were the letters on the white end) Don't you watch commercials? This is a pregnancy test!" She continues to laugh in a profuse manner. I stand stunned. "A pregnancy test!" I yelled... "What’s it say? what’s it mean?" I run into the bedroom and Lara explains how the little contraption (that I was nearly ready to stick into my mouth and enjoy its lemony goodness... I am so naive) works. She explains that this Tab is what a woman pees on, then there are two red lines if the second line shows through the window, which means that the pee is pregnant, or rather, the pee-er. I grabbed my wife in a hugging fashion and swung her around the room crying out, "We're pregnant we're pregnant."

Family, friends, and acquaintance... I am going to be a Dad! My amazing wife is going to be a Mother. I'm so excited I can hardly do anything lately without a huge grin on my face. Congratulations are in order. And to all my bachelor buddy's who may be as ignorant as I... never try lemon candy your not certain of. I love you, and look forward to seeing you soon.


* The words contained in {} used in this example have been changed from the actual words used, to many other words, some that don't really exist, this has been done for the sake of the children, and Mormons.

** I'm married, it's okay.

*** I, being severely color blind, recognize this could be any number of colors other than those stated in the correspondence.

Monday, January 20, 2003

on the john 2.1: Salad in the dark...

I thank you for putting up with the constant bombardment of monthly emails. They have been described by readers as: "...kind of fun." -Uncle Royd, "...absolutely hilarious." -Sarah Monroe, "...cute, like the letters Mom's send out at Christmas time." -Angela Sumsion, " way I'm reading a form letter that long." -Shakey Bingham. I appreciate all comments, questions and criticisms*. Since this is the closest thing to a journal I have I'll keep sending it out. If you would like to be removed from my email list, or if you know of anyone else who might benefit from this service, make me aware accordingly.

By the way in order to avoid confusion as to why this "on the john" jumped from 1.6 to 2.1. This number designates the year that I've been sending these and the number in that year. Hence this is the 1st letter of the second year. Even though this is the 6th year I've been doing this, I didn't start calling them "on the john" until early last year.

I've been married for a month and change. It's really cool. A learning experience. I've decided that marriage is kind of like eating a salad in the dark. Have you ever tried this? It's interesting; I suggest one of those ultra delicious salads from Nordstrom’s or perhaps Cafe Rio, something really good with lots of ingredients. I had the “pear blue cheese salad” from Nordstrom’s that my wife lovingly brought home for me from work. We were driving out to Ogden and I was eating it in the car. It was nighttime, and due to the irritation the dome light presents, my wife requested I eat it in the dark. I had never realized it before, and maybe I'm alone on this, but when I eat something very complex (like a salad) I'm very conscious of what exactly is going into my mouth at any giving time during consumption. I couldn't see though, so I wasn't quite aware of what was on my fork. I'm not quite sure of what exactly the salad's ingredients are, I have a rough idea, and so I begin to eat. (This is the point were you start to apply this analogy to marriage so I don't have to spend another paragraph explaining it, if you don't like it, think I'm stupid, or are a Tampa bay Buccaneers fan** then see the last sentence of paragraph one) Back to the salad… Things are going fine, munching lettuce, cabbage and a carrot shavings, and then all the sudden on my next bite, KA-BAM I bite into a cherry tomato, an explosion of juices send a little dribble over my lip and down the side of my chin. I wasn't quite prepared for that fruit/vegitable, it caught me off guard, got a little messy. No worries though, I wipe my chin and move on. A few fork fulls later I end up with eight chunks of blue cheese in one bite. Not to mention the overwhelming moldy cheese flavor burst, it turns into a slow moving paste that I must trudge through to swallow. The very next bite was two pear pieces, some lettuce and just the right amount of dressing... Mmm, so choice. The meal continues and for the most part it is a magnificent treat. Every once in a while I get a pecan, I like pecans, but when I'm expecting a pear its kind of unpleasant. (like that time Adam always talks about where he thought he was taking a sip of someone's lemonade and it ended up being coke... ugh) The salad as a whole is beyond delicious, it just has a few surprises here and there. So, there’s a sage analogy from a man who's been married for a little over a month.

As for specifics of our marriage:
I own 47 T-shirts, 26 full pairs of underwear. The reason for this clothing glutton is my super sloth attitude. Living on my own for five years I learned to loathe laundry. So I acquired as many articles of clothing as possible, as to do the least amount of laundry. I could go 3 months and only have to wash 3 loads of underwear. Luckily for me the Neanderthalism is no more... My wife loves to do laundry. (I love to mow the lawn... aren't we domestic?)

Since we have decided not to take birthing precautions, the subject of naming our children comes up from time to time. In one such instant she expressed her desire to name one of our daughters Olivia... I don't like the name because of Fat Fat Olivia Brown from 3rd grade***. So we made a deal that if I let her name our daughter Olivia she'll let me name our son Yoda. Of course we are still in talks, and may not decide on either of these.

Our social life hasn't ended; I thought that’s what happened to married people, that’s not it though. My social life has expanded. See, before when I was a swinging bachelor, all I really cared about was girls. Sure my guy friends were important, but only because we unitedly sought out girls. Every night I spent in my pursuit of girls. Now I have the girl. Hanging out with my single friends is still fun, but I can't help but feel sort of outcast. Not because they don't love me anymore, I simply don't fit into the "single life" agenda any longer. They don't know it, and don't mean it, but they treat us married folk a little differently. If you can't flirt with them or can't flirt for them you don't fit into their agenda. (So far the few excluded from this are Adam, Alan, and Kevin) I think this is why most marrieds flee the single scene like crazy. However Lara and I still love to hang out.

The problem is all the sudden we have to spread ourselves within our new spheres of existence. Now our married friends want to hang out with us more, were part of a new ward and our ward wants to get to know us, and suddenly our families want to get in a little social time. That’s four groups of people, if I only spend one day a week with each I find I have 3 days left with my new wife, and that’s if there is nothing else going on. For example, went and saw a movie with single friends Friday, went and played games with married friends Saturday, spent time with family Sunday, and having family home evening with bishop tonight. The cool thing about it is you find out who your friends really are.

Well, it took me more than five alligators to scroll to the top of this email so I think I'll forbear for a time. Marriage is rad, it really is. I never realized seriously how great it would be, and every day I think to myself there is no way I can love this person anymore. Then she'll go and make me popcorn while I'm watching "The Justice League" on Saturday, just because. And I fall even further. Thanks for reading, hopefully you'll write or call or in passing give me a peek into your life and times. Later


*An exception to this rule, don't criticize my grammar or spelling
please. I'm not very good at spelling, or grammar. Just ask my mom
about the time I humiliated myself by cheating on all my spelling
tests in fifth grade and because of that i went to the state spelling
B and got out on my first word. (I still spell edjucation with a "J" to
this day) besides, it's not nice to point out dangling participles when "on the john".

**After watching my favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles, bend over backwards and be humiliatingly defeated By the Bucs yesterday, I hate the Buccaneers and their fans. This hatred will go away after I cry myself to sleep tonight... again, and then we can still be friends. (This includes you Mr. Lehman)

***Olivia Brown wasn't even fat, but she ate her own boogers and her mom came to school once in a bikini... uuuuugh, one of my worst childhood memories.