Saturday, December 25, 2004

El South-o De La Border-o...

This year I got a new view and aspect of Mexico. It's pronounced "May-hay-co" by those who think they speak Spanish. My father has a new way translating anything from English to Spanish and back. All you have to do it add "El" to the beginning and put an "o" at the end. For example, if you need to use the "John" but the door is closed ask, "Is es Juan el ocupado?" Works every time.

For Christmas I got to test this theory first hand by real live Mexicans. No, I didn't go to Taco Bell. (I knew I forgot one thing while home this year.) No, this time we made a trek to the real Mexico. That's right, south of the border for Xmas.

The idea for this came from my parent's ward. Some ward in Tucson (about an hour or so from Phoenix) has been giving stuff to a poor Mexican village for years. The daughter of the guy who started it married a guy in my home ward, so our ward chipped in. My parents are old and don't really have much to do when their shows are on reruns, so they volunteered to take a minivan full of goods. I was home with no job, so I came along for the ride.

As I promised in a previous blog, we did give them back the left over cans of lima beans in our cupboards that were likely grown, picked and canned by them in the first place. To my surprise, it was much more, though. We had a whole relief effort. Our entourage met together in Mesa and the convoy was doubled in Tucson. Then our caravan made it across the border. It only takes about half a second to know that you have crossed the border.

Mexico Sign

Yo Quero Taco Bell. Other than that I have never understood a sign in Spanish. I wonder how much money the government spent on this high quality sign.

Had it not been for the signs and dirty atmosphere we wouldn't have known we had crossed. The border is so loosely enforced it is mind numbing. I was not too surprised to see how the border into Mexico is loosely guarded. What harm does it for them to let American money make into their country? The thing that concerns me is what about people walking "In the out" so to speak? I bet it would be all too easy.

We drove around in Nogales for some time. It got more and more dirty and poor looking as we got further away from the border and the main streets. In no time we were driving down dirt roads in neighborhoods that Nelson Mandella decry as an armpit of society and Oscar DelaHoya would be afraid to walk down at night. My mom half jokingly said, "I don't know why I volunteered. I thought it would be a nice thing, but then I remembered how much I hated this place and the attitude of these people." By the attitude she meant the stereotypical illegal Mexican immigrants that we perceive as a nuisance in my home town. The whole time my mom kept making sure the doors were locked. She was worried every minute or two that we'd be mugged and left for dead in a heart beat.

Mexico Village

Nogales Mexico

We finally made it to our chosen destination. It only took about 30 seconds for the word to spread before we were mauled by people with arms out and dirt covered smiles. I don't know how news travels so quickly in a place where no one has a phone. Most of the homes only had electricity if it was an illegal hacked wire running in.

Mexico - Brady giving out

In the midst is Brady, they guy who brought this tradition to my home ward

When it became clear that we had too many people pushing and shoving for our stack of beans, rice and blankets we decided to move to new locations throughout the area. We had to yell "Vaminos!" to tell them to move and to manage to get our doors shut and move on. We drove a short distance down the road and got stuck in a line of our own group sitting on train tracks. Thank goodness the trains are as efficient as everything else in Mexico or we would have been killed.

Mexico Tracks

This is not the edge but the center of this village

When we crossed we realized that we were not crossing on to the wrong side of the tracks, the whole place is the wrong side. This is not one of those "grass is always greener on the other side" things. This is the case, however, if you are looking toward the American border. It does help remind me as to why they all want to come over.

At first I was skeptical about coming to this Mexico for this. In Arizona and, well, all of the bordering states, Mexicans in general have a bad image. We often regard them a vermin or pest. They are viewed as lazy, dirty and uneducated. Perhaps there are quite a few that are and help to perpetuate this stereotype. Whether compulsory or not, these people were mostly dirty and likely uneducated. I still don't like the fact that we have many here illegally. I don't like that they take our government's money but won't contribute. I don't like that they often won't learn English and expect us to put all signs and instructions in their language. But this trip did re-enforce the knowledge in my mind that they are people too. Maybe a few took more than they needed. Maybe a few would not need our charity if they had more drive and determination. Perhaps it is self inflicted for many. But I could see the look of thankfulness in the eyes of many. Those who did not have a choice about their circumstances were the children. I can't speak for all, but I can say after looking at this last snapshot, it makes me glad to be part of something that if for no other reason, made this Christmas a good one for at least one little girl.

Mexico Kid Gifts

Sitting on her new bounty of Christmas gifts

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Boys In Blue...

While home with this Christmas Break (I will not follow PC protocol and say it's a "Winter" or "Holiday" break) I plan to spend most of the time with family. One night it was all about my bro-in-law and me. He is a police officer for a local Police Department. It was the third time or so that I got to do a "ride along" with him. This is where you get to sit in the front seat for a change! Believe me, after you see what kind of societal detriments they throw in the back, you'd never want to so much as breathe the air from back there.

A sad fact about my ride along’s is that they usually all fall on nights where nothing exciting happens. Part of that is because I have gone on week nights as my schedule permits. This time I wanted to see action. I wanted to see blood, guts and COPS style action as it is portrayed on TV. At the least I wanted to see some guy get thrown to the ground and tazed. In my mind I pictured it looking like an episode of Itchy and Scratchy from The Simpsons. I was imagining that if you look real close you can see their skeleton flashing off and on while the electricity goes through them. Again, my expectations were all led by television.

I suited up in my jeans and had to borrow a moderately respectable looking shirt from Rmy brother-in-law. We then drove to the police department for briefing. This is an interesting thing to watch. Again mislead by television misconceptions, it was more like kids gossiping before class starts. The latest was about the previous nights shooting. This night was particularly juicy as one of the best videos known to cops nation-wide was making it’s way around the force via e-mail. In this video a person had been arrested for killing a cop. He was brought into a holding cell and given a bottle of water. The officer then left the guy alone for a minute. The perpetrator then took a good swig of water, screwed the cap back on calmly and then pulled a pistol out of the front of his pants. I don't know how a 9mm gun sticking out of some dude's pants is over looked by cops but that does not make me want to get a Summer home in that neighborhood. Instead of going Terminator-like on the cops, he takes in a breath of air, puts the gun to his temple and gives the trigger a squeeze. Then a little burst of blood and what I can only imagine would be what was left of his logic center of his brain make a dash out of the new cavity in his head. The cop comes in casually, looks at the scene and walks back out of the room. This is all as seen from the security camera that was mounted in the top corner of this cell. The video was appended with a warning to screen your perps better. Apparently sage advice.

The officers in the briefing room were all crowding around a monitor cheering more than drunken Irish at a winning soccer game. Then they all e-mailed the video to all their other friends. Even the female officers on the force were getting into it. Well, ok, to be honest, I'm imbellishing the reaction of the officers watching the video. But you could tell they had an almost child-like facination with it.

It was at this point that it finally sunk in. This fine blue line of ours is nothing more than a fraternity. It's a boys club. It was reminiscent of my childhood where my friend John and I would take our toy guns, put on the blue shirt that looked most like a police color and ran around the neighborhood righting imaginary wrongs. Today's police force is not that different.

Instead of toy guns they get real ones. Instead of t-shirts they get uniforms. Instead of walkie-talkies that only work when you can see the person (and hear them anyway), they have the real things (with cool shoulder accessories). Instead of bikes with playing cards in the spokes they have cars with a light bar on the top. And the cool part is they all get to play the good guy.

For the rest of the night I got to see how Officer Brother-in-Law (he was still just my bro-in-law to me, but I thought it would be nice to show some respect in public) would drive around the city at any speed desired and obey any street laws he felt like. Some of the time he did this on purpose. Others I think were caused because he was too busy using the police car computers to send instant messages to each other about where to eat or what's going on this weekend. I am confident that he felt safe from prosecution. After all; who polices the police?

When there was a call that was "cool" there were a number of cars on the scene. I used to think the barrage of cars at these things was for some purpose. The truth is that it was fun for the cops to come to each other’s calls. Then they get to hang out and swap war stories that have already been grossly embellished in 15 minutes.

This time I was expecting to see more action as it was a Saturday night. It seemed to be slow at the get-go. My sister's old boyfriend came to say hi. Officer Brother-in-Law did some paper work. We ate diner. Then we got some calls and things picked up. Officer Brother-in-Law got to show off his new toy, a palm pilot with a digital camera. He exchanged pics and contacts with another cop who had the same toy. One fun episode was about two hours before his shift ended, about 1am or so.

A resident in an apartment complex noticed some drunken men loitering and drinking alcohol behind her place. She called it in. The first officer did not notice anything. Officer Brother-in-Law thought we might as well get out and look around as we had nothing else at that moment to do. While walking around we ran into a dirty guy with a 40oz of booze on him. Officer Brother-in-Law asked him to step closer. His reply was, "Why?"

"I just want to talk to you."


"I just want to know what's going on."

And with that he bolted like a horse let go at Kentucky. Officer Brother-in-Law was off after him, I took another route to save running and catch them where they were headed. My bro-in-law does not fit the typical stereotype of fat doughnut loving cops, but he was loosing this guy who looked as malnourished as those pot-bellied kids from those annoying commercials that only want $.37 a day. As the perp was rounding a corner he slid on the gravel and ate it. Officer Brother-in-law jumped on top of the guy. I was just out of eye shot, but heard the commands as they were very loud.

"Put your hands behind your back, now! (pause) Put your hands behind your back or I will use the tazer! (pause) Put your hands behind your back right now or you will get tazed!"

Just then I came around the corner and saw the guy face down in the rocks, hands being cuffed and a tazer going back into its holster. I assume that he dug the gun so hard in the guys back that you couldn't hear the usual sparks and clicks that usually accompany the jolt of electricity. I didn’t see the taze. For all I know I missed a show of flashing light and hair sticking up on end. Oh well, there is always next time. My bro-in-law seemed all too eager to give me a chance to experience it first hand, albeit in jest. I declined.

With the news of an actual chase 4 cars came quickly. Scruffy McGee's pockets were checked and found to be full of bars of soap, Axe body spray and razors. It seemed that he had been out shoplifting, which would explain why he was as jittery as a jackrabbit on coffee at the sight of us. He never said a word after that second "Why?". We took him to the station. That was when I realized how gross the back of a cop car can be.

At the station this joker really knew how to exercise his right to remain silent; this included such information as his name. We finger printed him. After that he did say his name to another cop. He seemed to hold a grudge against Officer Brother-in-Law for tazing him. If this other officer asked direct questions he could get something out of him. Low and behold, our man had a warrant for his arrest in another state. He must have had a few reasons to run from the cops. He refused to be cooperative so he was booked. If this idiot had just told us he was sorry for loitering and left the premises he probably would have spent the night in whatever brand refrigerator box he called home instead of that holding cell he made camp in. Then again, maybe he preferred that. I would.

While in the lockup other cops came and went spreading new gossip and stories. One I thought that was amusing was from some motorcycle cops. Three of them went into a convince mart to get some coffee. The first one gets his coffee, pays, says "thank you" to the turban wrapped employee and waits at the door for the others. The next guy has the exact same thing. The turban asks if that was all. That was. Then the last cop comes. He is the larger of the three. He places down his stuff which is the same as the last two. The turban looks at the stuff, up at the cop, then back at his coffee. He pulls his head up and looks at him and asks, "Did you want any doughnuts with that?" The cop interpreted it as, "You look like a fat pig. I bet you are wondering where our treats are for you." He took it personally, but laughed it off.

After putting away evidence and finishing paperwork, we returned the police department’s car and sluggishly headed home in my brother-on-law's car as the sun came up. On the back of his rear window he has stickers for a fraternity of cops that he belongs to. I though it was an honorary kind of thing at first. After spending a few nights with our boys in blue I came to realize that this really is a gaggle of frat boys having fun. As much as I have made fun of them and somewhat demeaned our thin blue line I do have to admit that regardless of personalities and methods, they do get the job done. It's nice to know that we have men and women who will risk personal safety for us. They are an unusual breed of people, but we do forget sometimes that they are just people too.

They are people that kids look up to. The kids that never fully grow up become them.

Monday, December 20, 2004


I have made it very clear on my stance regarding the retarded policy of the +/- system of our grades. That aside, I will rant about a recent grade I received. My semester goes like this:
  • STDEV 358R (R.A. Class)

    - This is a no brainer. You show up, you get paid in scholarships to be there, and you get an "A". I got that "A".
  • IS 350 (Database / Oracle SQL)

    - I had to do work. I had to do my homework, and do well on the tests. I put very little actual study time into it. I took very good and precise notes. I received my expected and deserved "A".
  • Math 221 (Principals Of Statistics)

    - I was reluctant to even take this class. I don't like Math all that much and as far as I can figure, it does not like me much either. I tried pretty hard in this class. The majority of time I spent studying and doing homework this semester was in this class. For all of my labor I was on the verge of getting a "C" or "B-". A "B-" is like slapping someone in the face for being just not quite above average enough. Toward the end I worked harder and got an even higher grade on the final than any other test in that class to date. The teacher, which I have to admit I genuinely liked (I recommend Hyde if you have to take it), gave me an "A-" by the skin of my teeth. This time, the "-" was mercy. I still think that I'd rather get a real "A" but I dare not push it.
  • REL 235 (Achieving Eternal Marriage)

    - Next we have a real kicker which I absolutely want to vomit over. I joked that the only way to score an "A" in the class was to actually achieve Eternal Marriage. I didn't realize that I was right. This stupid teacher, Jeffereies, only had two things we were graded on. The first was the midterm. The midterm was 3 pages we had to scribble down in one class period on three subjects he chose from the book. He wanted us to be as thurough as possible. I read the chapters and used quotes and contained every morsel of information he asked us to. I got a low "B". I felt his completely useless, arbitrary and subjective scale of grading us was ridiculous. I was not wrong. Our final was similar. This time he wanted us to pick a subject from the second half of the book and "run with it". I chose the chapter of finances. It had to include footnotes (which I did) and cite at least three other sources other than our manual and the scriptures. I did that as well. It had to be typed and exactly four pages long. Three and a half he reminded us was not four. It also could not run over the page. If it did, he would stop reading at the fourth. My paper was exactly at four and perfectly to specifications. The (dare I call my seminary teacher this) shmuck didn't think my paper was good enough. I got a "B+" in that class. This was likely the worst institute teacher has to be the worst I have had to date. He spent most of each hour kavetching about his senile dad, his deadbeat ex-son-in-law or some other person in his life with flaws, and I think he missed a few too many as he could not see clearly beyond his beam. I rarely felt an increase in the spirit if at all. Thanks for a whole semester wasted and a lowered GAP. If you like institute, stay away from Jefferies.
  • CS 202 (Computer Programming III)

    - This was the class that concerned me the most. I was in a real fret over this for some time. I was leery of my chances of even passing it. I did go to the "lab" occasionally. Not enough. Many people take the class over. I was about to be one of them. I went to virtually every class. I listened. The problem is that the programs we wrote were completely different from what we were doing in class. It was the same subject, but purely theoretical in nature. We didn't even have a computer to take notes on or practice what we were learning on. This made it difficult for me. Toward the end our teacher heard our complaints and we did get some computer time. It was a shy too late for that semester, though. I have to admit here that I was in possession of each of the programs that he wanted from us. Each was ill gotten and not ethical. I also had a few of them done by my sweat and tears. The day of the deadline I sat at my computer and debated over taking the stolen code and altering it so as to make it appear as mine. I tinkered with one and then decided it was best to take it over, and earn my grade. I was prepared to take my "F" and a re-do. I checked my grade today and low and behold, to my astonishment, I had a pretty "C" waiting for me. What's more, it was a "C+"! Again, a "B" is always better, but a "C+" is better than just a "C". It is a far cry from failing, so I was pleasantly suprised. It appears that the programs that I did finish and effort I put into getting high test scores were enough to compensate for my lack in a few other programs. It was mercy. I feel better about an honest "C+" than a stolen "A".

There you have my Fall 2004. Winter 2005 promises to offer me more things to complain about and whine about. Until then, I'll spare you another rant about the horrible idea of a +/- system of grading.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Smotherd By Love...

Well, here I am. Home again, Home again, Jiggidy Jig.

The whole time I've been back I have not really been very bored at all. In a way that means that I am failing. I promised myself that my main goal this whole break was to make sure I got good an bored so that when I got back to school in Hawaii I would be so eager to do stuff again I would explode without any homework to do. I don't think it's gonna work.

The first day I was home I realized it was only 7am when I arrived and I had only an hour or 2 of "airplane sleep" which we all know is no good. I couldn't sleep for some reason. So, instead I reformatted my parents computer and reinstalled windows xp pro, got all the updates and customized the profiles for all three of us. The next day I took my dad's old raggady ann stereo out. I gave up on ever getting enough room to put up my movie room again. Even my current bedroom is so crammed with my parents crud I had to clear a hole to sleep in and have not had room to unpack. I don't want to spend any time in there at all if it isn't for my precious water bed. Therefore, I replaced his rusted tin excuse for a stereo and put mine in. I rewired it all. My dad had some sort of configuration back there that reminded me of that scene in Superman III where the ugly sister of Lex Luther got swallowed up by the wires of that super computer and became some robotic freak. It's better now.

I have not been spending too much time at home. I have divided my time out amoung all those around me. This has been disputed by some though. While at my sister Wendy's for dinner one night my sister Ladawn claimed that they were hogging me and weren't sharing. The very next day my mom called Wendy and accused her of the very same thing. Should I spend more time with my pet cat Buska, I think we'd have a lynch squad. Still it's nice to know that my services are requested by all around me. Let me give you an idea of how I am trying to divide myself evenly this season.

  • My sister Ladawn had me for temple lights and to go see Santa with her kids.
  • Then I spent the night with Wendy and her kids, then went on a ride along with my Chandler Police officer Brother-in-law Rob. I will have to dedicate a seperate blog to that later.
  • I aslo spent one night hanging out with my friend and ex-companion Lamb.
  • One day with by long time best friend John Kerley had been done so far.
  • This Tuesday I'm going to lunch and a movie with my parents and some friends of thiers.
  • Wednessday I will have dinner and fun with my other brother-in-law's brother. It's a long story of how we are friends, but you get the idea.
  • This Thursday I'm off to Mexico for a day to give poor kids our left over lima beans which were probably picked and canned by them anyway.
  • Saturday, Christmas I'm off to St. George for a few days to see some family and friends.

I don't know what else I have planned, but as you can see, I definatly have enough planned to keep me all too busy for this Christmas season. I might actaully have to go back to school just to get some alone time. Although to be honest, I think I get enough alone time and this time with my family and friends is really just what I needed. The cost of comming home has been $200 a week just for air fare, but has been money well spent. I guess it's not that selfish to buy yourself something nice for Christmas...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Jared Bodine's "A Series Of Mixed-Fortune Events"...

"This is the true story of an eventful evening of a young man living on a small island in the most secluded land on earth. My name is Jared Bodine, and I have the duty to tell you his happening in these series of mixed-fortune events."

Chapter 1

This was Jared's last Friday in Honolulu for the year. He and his friend JD were the best of friends. They were once roommates. On occasion they would talk the night away discussing life changing events such as what the climax to The Matrix Reloaded was or trivial quests such as whom would be the right girl to marry. They also shared a position as Resident Advisors (RA) to their domicile known as Hale (Ha-lay) 4. The next night was to be check-out time for residents leaving. This meant the next day was to be filled with work for young Jared, and JD would have his share of work to do as well. Since this was a beautiful Friday night indeed, they decided to make the most of it. Each guy had a girl at his side. For JD it was Leslie. She was an unassuming Chinese girl who’d come from Macao. Jared had with him Anna, her true name Ngoc, but it is unpronounceable to the English tongue. She was seemingly a quite and solemn girl; hardly made a fuss. However, she had fire within her that would manifest itself when provoked. It seemed a harmless and carefree trip to the famous Waikiki of Oahu. The plan was to cruise the strip and see the nice Christmas decorations that lavishly adorn King Street at this time of year.

On the precipice of the voyage a prayer is offered by JD for safety. Not ten minutes later the check engine light decides to offer its red luminescent glow to the dash. Eventually, our protagonists make a pit stop at Kahalu’u’s 7-11. After five minutes of watching JD hunt around for the lever to open the hood, Jared steps out from the back seat and the arms of Anna. He walks around, looks at the driver side. After a few seconds of inspection, he unceremoniously opens the hood and steps back.

The inside of the car was a myriad wires, hoses, and hot metal parts – none of which looked to be in place. JD looked at Jared and they shrugged at each other. There was some poking and some prodding, there even was some popping. A conclusion was made that nothing wrong could be found. The crew decided to push on into the night.

It only took a few wrong turns to get the car right back on track.

"Jared, what is my exit?" asked JD. Jared had served a mission for his faith earlier in that same neighborhood, so he was the closest thing to an expert of the area as could be found in that car.

"You need to take Punhanou."

"I don’t see it yet."

"Ya, I know, JD, we are not there yet."

"Do you mean ‘Punchbowl’?"

"No, I mean ‘Punahou’."

"Are you sure, Jared?"

Sixty seconds later the argument ended as the sign for Punahou appeared in the horizon.

"Which way do I turn?" JD enquired of Jared.

Jared’s answer was right. JD was in the left lane. He was able to make it into the left side of the right hand turning lanes just as the red light caught them in their tracks. This is where the fun begins.

Chapter 2

JD, recently engaged with his damsel Leslie, took the opportunity to kiss his fiancé. Jared pretended not to notice. Anna seemed to think it was cute. While the emotions were moving, the car had stopped its motion of any kind. There was a sputter, then nothing. The car, it would have seemed, had died.

This is the day of power steering and power breaks. All of these good inventions, but also become more of a burden when they fail to work properly. It was decided that burley arms and legs would be needed to navigate the dead stick and stop the rolling boulder. Jared was the new pilot. JD took on the role of head wingman. To make the burden not rest on the females in the group, some friendly men on the street had appeared to offer assistance. A few good pushes and the car was in motion on a downward slope. Jared, now steering a multi-ton paper weight on wheels, had to decide where to rest the vehicle, and hoped to avoid that from being on the bumper of another. As he lost his momentum he looked to the heavens only to see a light in not too distant skyline. It was a beacon. It was an omen. It was a guiding relic. It was, in fact, the lighted bell tower to the Honolulu LDS Tabernacle.

Another failed attempt to start the car told the despondent group that the car must be pushed to a destination safer than the side of busy street at midnight. The glistening object like a lighthouse guided the weary travelers toward the “Tab” as it was dubbed by the locals. The car was safely stowed in the parking lot as so much overhead baggage. They spied a solitary car in the parking lot besides their own. The assembly began to hunt this individual out for assistance or perhaps a friendly jump start. In true horror-stories-gone-awry fashion, they broke up into groups. Every door knob was twisted or lifted to quest for the lone car man. In no time the two lost traveling pairs met back up without a scratch upon either. At this point the plight of the entourage became apparent. They must stay the night.

The Bus system that was hailed so vehemently by the proud city was shut down for the evening and would not run again until the next morning. There was not a friend that could be called as well. For most of these friends had no cars and would be of no help. In effort to salvage what they could of the evening, they all jumped on their respective cell phones and made a flurry of calls. The first on the list to be called was David.

David was another RA. He did have a car. And it was likely that he might also have the wherewithal to excavate the route to make a departure possible for our now hopeless lost ones. Alas, he answered. But, alas, he was not anywhere near the area and had no intention to be. Jared had to ask David to work hours for him the next day. Jared was sure that he now had no hope of returning at all before the sun came up. David would have to work the RA office for Jared, as there was no other way. David responded in the affirmative.

The next step was to call “trustworthy” Richie. This was the fourth and final RA for Hale 4. He was in the office that evening. As it was just now hitting the stroke of midnight, there was a chance that he had not left for the evening yet. The phone never rang. Jared was greeted with a busy signal. He called again. Then again. And again. This continued for over 15 minutes when that was obviously a closed avenue. A phone call was made to "trustworthy" Richie’s room phone. A message was left and then attention was turned to options.

The young group thought it better to not get a hotel together. This is for obvious reasons besides that of monetary setbacks. It was also not the best idea for the four to sit in the car all night only a stone’s throw away from the road. It was back to the Tab and that one door that was left open.

Chapter 3

They had arrived at the door that led to a dark and ominous feeling room. One by one they would walk into what felt like an abyss of blackness so thick you could feel it on the lungs. Just as this sensation hit them, another one soon replaced it. It turns out it wasn’t a sensation at all, but rather the addition of light. A quick look around told them that they had arrived in what appeared to be a sumptuously decorated basketball court. It was clear that it was an LDS chapel. Only the Mormon people will put so much effort into making a common basketball court into a beautiful dinning hall. This was quite the swaraie. There must have been over two dozen long tables each with a nice table piece and lined with chairs. Each of the intruders speculated on their own as to what the occasion must have been. Eventually the words "Happy Birthday" were spied. Jared was no stranger to such a large set up for a birthday. "It’s a one-year-old birthday luau."

"How do you know?" Inquired Anna.

"I have lived here off and on since 1998. I have been to dozens of luaus like this. Each and every one that was this large and a birthday was for one-year-olds."

"Why is that?"

"Back in the day, the death rate of children was pretty high. If the baby could live through it’s first birthday, that was the sign that he would live a full life. So, they threw a big party to celebrate it, almost like now it was officially born and would live. The tradition kind of stuck."

After the lesson was taught, it was time to get some rest. Along the sides of the walls were narrow padded benches. They were just long enough to hold two full size adults (or one Ha’ole and one Asian) lying down end to end. JD and Leslie occupied one while Jared and Anna shared the one next to it. Occasionally, Jared pretended not to hear the distant but familiar sound of lips smacking up against each other. It was dark enough to sleep, but uncomfortable enough to keep Jared awake. Soon he could hear the lips replaced with lungs as JD serenaded all with his symphony of snoring. Jared finally dozed off at 1:30am.

That sleep was short lived because at 1:45am his phone rang. Trying to act quick enough to keep the others from waking up, but slow enough to disturb the log sawing of JD, Jared answered the phone. The other end held “trustworthy” Richie. He called just to ask whether Jared and his friends had made it to some shelter for the night. Jared made him rest assure that they would be fine. He neglected to mention that the habitat was a broken into Tabernacle. Richie seemed glad to hear the news. "That’s good, bra. Well, I’m getting ready to do bed checks soon. Have a good night."

Jared was surprised that Richie had elected to do bed checks on this evening of all others. Surprised but not concerned, Jared rolled over, accidentally pulling a good lock of hair out of Anna’s head, and tried to resume sleep. It proved to be a daunting task.

After finally accomplishing a half-hour of shut-eye, JD comes to Jared with the idea of trying the car, and getting in it and rolling away for home if it works. Jared and Anna had no intention of leaving the roof overhead. JD reminded Jared and Anna that there was more going on. The very next day the Prophet of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was to be on their campus, and JD and Leslie both were to sing for him at about 8am. This meant they could not sit around and wait for the bus in the morning. They had to go as soon as possible. In addition, sleeping in an actual bed did sound nice, so the entourage left in form with slopping shoulders and stumbling feet toward the derelict car.

All attempts to start the car again had failed. At this point, the battery was so low, it was touch and go for a while to see if the power window would even make up back up. The car cheered for it like the underdog accidentally bet on at a racetrack.

An epiphany then hit JD. He had Keys! No, not the kind of keys you are thinking of. He had the Keys. The Keys were a family living in Laie that were good friends of JD. They were like family to him. When it comes to being stranded any friend of JD’s was a friend of Jared’s and so Jared was more than behind JD’s idea of calling in reinforcements. The two girls, Anna and Leslie, remained tired and quiet. After only one ring, there was a sudden answer.

JD spoke up stunned. "I’m surprised you are awake."

"Mumble, mumble, mumble."

"Ya, well, that’s an amazing coincidence. We are stranded too."

"Mumble, mumble, mumble."

"Oh, we are Honolulu. We are in the tabernacle parking lot. Do you think you could come get us?"

"Mumble, mumble, mumble."

"Great, thanks."


In an amazing coincidence, the Keys’ son of similar age to JD was also stranded. This mean the Keys were not only already prepared, but they would be the perfect people for this emergency being so experienced. A reconnaissance party was now deployed. The girls were as good as dead. Jared was not willing to walk around more than necessary and JD wanted to make sure the Keys would be greeted upon arrival. That meant another attempted power nap. This time JD decided to discover other ways of keeping Jared up other than snoring.

The windows were now safely up, but this caused a hot and sweaty environment. If a door was opened, the light was too distracting to sleep in. JD opened the door just slightly to get some fresh air, but not enough to trigger the light switch. This was a great idea in concept, but this delicate balance proved too hard to maintain in a stupor of sleep deprivation. For Jared, Leslie, and Anna, it felt like being a def man in a disco - plenty of flashing lights, silent as a grave.

Harkening back to his resourcefulness as a Boy Scout, JD improvises. At the sacrifice of bumping Jared’s back, he removed his shoes and then the shoelaces. The removed laces were strung together and randomly wound around the head rest of the seat in front of JD, moving Jared around like a piñata in the wind. It only took JD as long to arrange the contraption as it took the Keys to circumvent the island and arrive. Still being up from gloating over his handy work, JD left the car to greet the Key’s.

Chapter 4

Jared woke up wondering why he dreamt about being in the rodeo. He noticed it had only been maybe an hour, possible less since he last checked his watch. He must have woken up when he heard a car door slam shut. He looked toward the sound. It was not a good sound. It was not the Keys at all. It was security. Walking around the driver side to the abandoned yet strangely occupied car was an older Fijian man. Jared looked over at the two sleeping ladies looking like angels at rest. He might have been tired and confused, but knew he could protect these women from any problem security was going to give them.

Living on a college campus, Jared was defensive at the sight of any security. It was a bad after taste from having to deal with Brigham Young University Hawaii campus security over the past few years. This man was here to help. Just as Jared realized this, he turned his head to the other window to see the truck of the Keys and JD walking around the corner of that vehicle.

When the Keys arrived, JD left with them to the nearby gas station a half mile down the road for a set of jumper cables. While asking the underpaid employee for any direction, it so happened this security man was behind them in line. It was a Godsend. When he heard they were stranded at the Tab (being of the same faith), he knew he must help. That is what brought them together that night.

Being the expert at opening the hood to JD’s defunct car, Jared pulled the lever once again. The security guard who was named Aleka, JD and the only member of the Keys that came, Sister Keys all sat around the entanglement of modern engineering that was under the hood. It was reminiscent of the opening scene of 2001: A Space Oddisy. The monkeys were scratching their heads. Eventually, they picked up the modern bone (jumper cables) and began hitting the object before them. It was only a matter of many long minutes before the juice was flowing from one battery to the other.

Aleka gave Jared (still sitting behind the wheel) the signal to give it a go. It was less than successful. The primates outside the car were determined to invent the wheel, so to speak, and did not take that as a sign of defeat. The other engine was revved. Jared was given the international symbol for “turn the key” again. And again, less than successful. This would usually imply that it was time for a new tactic. So, the poster boys of the evolution chart in action touched the cables, wiggled some wires, and gave Jared the familiar sign language again. This produced the same result. After 15 more minutes of sitting in a circle and picking ticks from each other’s backs one last effort was made. Jared now tired of sitting behind a wheel of disappointment left the car to socialize and make contact with these poor creatures who had given up.

At length, the conclusion was made that the car must be towed, and to avoid excessive charge, not until morning. It was time to saddle up in the Keys’ car and get rolling. At this moment Jared had a recollection of the contents of JD’s trunk.

Not too long ago, Jared was asked by a friend leaving the island to sell a bass guitar. Jared agreed did not have the means as of yet. He had inadvertently left the guitar and supplied amplifier in the trunk. Before the car was left to its own devices, Jared transferred the equipment to the new vessel of freedom. Aleka found that interesting. He inquired about it to JD. This was just what Aleka was looking for. Aleka strolled over to Jared and examined the Bass. It just so happened that Aleka was the very person Jared needed to find to buy that guitar. Perhaps the night was not a total bust after all. Aleka exchanged numbers with Jared and some hand shakes were exchanged as the assembly saddled up in the Keys family vehicle. Jared slipped in and out of consciousness with Anna at his side as they finally were on the move toward home at a half past 5am.

Chapter 5

Not wanting to go through the entire long one way circle that is the circumference of campus the Key’s dropped the group off by the new Littler Circle which is in front of and not to be confused with the Little Circle. The weary four of our travelers walked slowly toward the beckoning beds that lie in wait. The girls were walked home while Jared carried the soon to be sold bass guitar. JD carried Leslie. Anna had to carry herself.

After the girls were tucked in (the guys couldn’t come it to make sure, but they wanted to) the gentlemen slumped toward their hale. As they walked in the door they looked at each other and complimented themselves on a job well done. They then turned toward their doors and saw that each had received an award for their effort! What may that reward be? It was a bright and shiny fine of $25 for curfew violation from "trustworthy" Richie. JD was livid. Jared followed in emotion. After venting amongst themselves for a few minutes, JD left a pleasant note on the back of the fine receipt for Richie and left them on his door. It now being only a few ticks from 7am, the boys laid their heads down for some much needed rest. Little did they know, neither would get it.

Within 10 minutes JD left and met up with Leslie to sing for the prophet. Tired or not, he had a commitment to be there. Anna and Jared slept in their separate rooms. That is, until 8am when there was a rapping at Jared’s door. He didn’t answer. It was only a few seconds later when the knocking repeated only louder. A third bout of knocking and Jared heard the rattling of a key in the knob. It was "trustworthy" Richie come to wake up Jared. "Did you forget that we had check-outs today at 8?"

"No, I didn’t forget, nor am I doing it. I traded with David, take it up with him. And on another note, I need to yell at you later, but not right now. I don’t want to even look at you right now!"

"trustworthy" Richie left. Jared tried to resume sleep. Wouldn’t you know it that only five minutes later "trustworthy" Richie came back into Jared’s room letting himself in with the master key. "Mom wants to talk to you. She doesn’t like that you traded with David."

"Fine." "trustworthy" Richie did not leave the room as Jared pulled back on the same clothes he had worn the day before, which felt like the same day. Jared figured that since "trustworthy" Richie would not leave, he might as well take advantage of the situation. "I am really mad at you. You backstabber! How can you be like that? What is wrong with you? You are really on my "crap" list."

"trustworthy" Richie had a great defense; he stood there smiling. Jared walked toward the office with one last statement for “trustworthy” Richie following. "You are NOT to come into my room again, got it? You are not invited in here again – EVER!"

When Jared walked in he heard Hale Mom arguing with David. The dorm mom was called simply "mom" for convenience. Her real name was Therese. It was sort of a joke to call her "Mother Theresa" but no one ever did.

Mom and David were trying to figure out what each other were saying while both talking. Jared, sleep deprived, frustrated, betrayed and not angry spoke up. "Look, it’s not that complicated. My car broke down. I called David to cover for me in the morning. You (to David) thanks for coming in for me. I called "trustworthy" Richie so he could plant a dagger square between my shoulder blades. You (to "trustworthy" Richie), Die. I didn’t call mom because I didn’t have her number and it was well after midnight anyway. You (to Mom) Sorry, but I am really tired and have lost all sleep. I will just stay here now that I’m angry and over tired I can’t sleep anyway!"

Mom was then very understanding. She turned to "trustworthy" Richie. "Richie! What is he doing here? I didn’t tell you to get him! He was sleeping! I told you just to let me know if he was home! Why do you think you can just run off and do what ever you want like you run the place? Huh? And Jared, don’t worry about those fines. You should not have been fined. I had Richie throw them away as soon as I found out. Why don’t you go and take a shower and eat breakfast and then come back when you are refreshed. We’ll cover for you while you do."

This was the saving grace for Jared. He felt like hugging the beautiful lady. Then he did as he left. While in the shower reflecting on the events of the last 12 hours Jared couldn’t help but feel like this was an odd mix of events for such a short time. He was having fun going to Honolulu; he was upset to be stranded. He was happy to break into the Tabernacle; upset to leave and be again stranded behind the wheel of a car hoping for someone to come. He was happy to see rides arrive and sell the guitar he had on hand; he was upset to see a fine on his door when he came home. He was happy that Mom had sided with him in the dispute and now, before there is a chance for any more upsetting moments, he decided that his day had officially changed from one to the next while in the shower ensuring that he would end on a happy note. It’s got to be rare to make sure you can end on top with bad odds and a whole series of mixed-fortune events.

Friday, December 10, 2004

A Moment Of Silence...

I have some bad news. I don’t like to have two sad or downer posts in a row, but I have to do this. Ladies and gentleman, I am afraid that we have to bow our heads and have a moment of silence for our dearly departed. It’s not my inner child. It’s not my dating life. It’s not even a living creature. I’m afraid that my beloved indoor car atrium known as “Buick Gardens” has met its untimely demise.

BYU-Hawaii Security has been on a recent rampage to make our campus look nice for our prophet Gordon B. Hinkley who is going to be here tomorrow. Part of this is towing an abandoned or derelict vehicle from the parking lot. My car was apparently on the list. Right next to my car were two other cars that were missing wheels and other vital parts. Why were they not towed first? My car actually ran fine. All it needed was a carburetor. I never found one.

Why did they have to take mine!? Why?! It isn't fair! It isn't fair! Take me instead! Leave the car alone and take me!

At first I was in denial, I swore it was just moved. I kept looking for it. Then I was angry. I wanted the heads of our campus security. I was later depressed. I needed some lovin' and nothing could console me. I then had ultimate acceptance. I suppose it was just my car's time to go.

I will never forget the times we shared.

Buick Gardens (2004 - September)

The car atrium in it’s early stages

Buick Gardens (2004 - Nov - 19)

The last pic I ever got of my beloved Buick Gardens

Rest In Peace
Buick Gardens

“We sat in you.
We rode in you.
We wasted a lot of money on you.
Mostly, we loved you.”

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Unhappy Anniversary...

"I'm kinda like parsley on a piece of fish; I look alright but nobody wants me."
- Danny Thomas from "John's Business Trip" episode of "The Bickersons" radio program in the 1950's.

I first need to apologize for my dearth of posts as of late. I have found myself in no mood for putting my recent episodes on the World Wide Web. After a week of not even checking my own blog, I decided I needed to say something. Yesterday on my trip to Costco with Chris Rusch something hit me that I guess I should at least make note of. I missed another anniversary. I seem to be bad about these things. I do remember some of the more significant ones to me. This one I have never forgot before.

Chris is getting ready to go home for good once he graduates this week. I am getting ready to go home for Christmas the same time. The two of us will be going home single not leaving any girlfriends behind nor meeting ones upon arrival. His birthday is today. He is either turning 26 or 27. I recently hit 25. We began talking about these people who get married shortly after their missions and ourselves. I mentioned that I had been off of my mission for…uh…(quick math)4 years!

In fact, it turns out that December 1, 2004 was the 4 year anniversary. I used to think that if I met a girl that wanted to go serve a mission first I could never wait. Now here I am and I could have waited for two sisters to serve. What’s more, I could have now been home long enough to wait for two consecutive terms of Elder service! I now know that any girl that says that she will wait for her missionary but then "can’t" is a liar. Take it from me, you can!

When I was finishing up my mission people asked me how long before I got married – like I had all of the control of that. I’d secretly hoped that I’d be one of those six monthers. I hate being teased or having to wait for stuff that I know should be coming to me. I’ve read my patriarchal blessing. I served my mission. I’d never had as much as a girlfriend at that time. I was due. I told people I’d like to at least be in a good relationship by one year. My goal was to be married within my two year mark. Two years to serve the Lord, two years to find my wife, maybe two more years until I have a child. I sure did have it all figured out. It’s kind of scary to think that according to my math, I’d be a newly made father by now.

Thanks to my "baby making machine" sisters I know what kind of work it takes to be a parent of young children. It seems like much work that I don’t know if I’d be ready for. I suppose that after being married for some time a preparing for it, I would be more prepared than I am now. But either way, I’m so focused on getting as much as a girlfriend again that I can’t even think about children now.

I have come to a realization about my odds. Let’s start with my history. First we have my Grandpa. He passed on shortly after I was born. I heard that he was a real bold guy. In a way, so am I. When it comes to girls I like, I’m as timid as a lamb. Perhaps he was too. I do know my grandma. She has real spunk. She will walk right up to you and tell you how fat you are, how ugly you are, and why she thinks you are lazy before she knows your name. I imagine that she probably picked him up by his collar, shook him and said, "You will marry me, got it?!"

Then we have his son, my father. At the age of 25 my father got married. He was engaged at my age when he turned 25. Want to know how? When he proposed to my mom she thought he was kidding. If she knew he was dead serious she would have likely turned tail and run. Eventually she realized it was no joke. After plans got firmed up and things got serious my mom decided he was good enough and married him anyway.

Next we have the example set forward for me by my brother. He is 10 years older than me. He has had probably about as many girlfriends as I have and is no where near being married any time soon. If you knew him as well as I do, you'd guess that he'll never get himself a wife.

So there you have my heritage. She either makes me marry her, I trick her into it, or I just don't marry at all.

Next we have math. There are about 7 billion people world wide. That sounds promising. But I will have to marry a member of the church. Now we have only 11 million people world wide. Well, that seems to be many still. But only about 6 million of those are female. Divide that further by the sad fact that only half of those are active. How many of those 3 million are even of dating age for me (18-25)? Probably about half a million. How many of those speak English? Since there are more members outside of the U.S. it would be less than half in America. Other countries speak English, so lets say about half of that I could have a decent conversation with. Now we are down to 250,000 from 7 billion.

But we are assuming that these are all single! I bet only half or less are single. So, 125,000 girls left. Would I actually be interested in any of these girls? Judging by the odds on this campus and at home, I have seen myself only attracted to maybe at best one in ten of the girls here (this implies physically and/or emotionally). So, one tenth of that is 12,500. How many of those will like me? I admit that some girls do find me attractive. I’d say maybe one in twenty. Well, that means 2,500 girls left.

Now, I dare say that there are only 2,500 girls in the whole world of 7 billion to find. What are the odds that I will meet these select few? .0000004 to 1. That’s a small number? How many will I even meet in this life anyway? I’d be happy if it was at least one for every 10. So now we have only 250. And just because there are 250 girls that I could like and that would like me, what makes me think we will get our act together and both agree to marry, without having too much baggage or hang-ups? If all goes well, I will meet that girl which is now (250/7,000,000,000) .00000004 in 1 (one more zero than before).

Final numbers: I need to find one of 250 girls I could possibly conceivably marry and my odds of finding her are .00000004 to one. Once I find her I have to hope that she will make me marry her or that I can trick her into thinking that I am kidding when I propose. Talk about Mission: Impossible!

I was sharing these odds with someone once and they said, "Maybe, but all you need is one."

I think all I need is a miracle.

Before I go any further, I want to qualify this post with a general mood. I am not depressed about this. I am admittedly disappointed with myself. I feel that I have dropped the ball somewhere. I think I need to work on tact and perhaps should be put through some sort of "dating boot-camp" but I’m not super depressed. I think that the silver lining to this post is that I did forget this unhappy anniversary.

Over the last three years, I never forgot to check for how long I’ve been home (down to the day) and been single for. This year, unless it happens to come up in conversation, I don’t dwell on it for too long. I don’t know if it’s that I don’t care any more or have given up, but either way, it’s not top of mind any more.

I have other anniversaries that I do remember, or at least try to. I am working on getting my families birthdays logged and remembered. I have a new service (add yours now at which sends me e-mails to remind me of birthdays. I even have my cell phone alarm remind me of my parent’s anniversary.

Ideally, in no time these unhappy anniversaries will be well forgoten for good. With God's help, my luck can improve and my odds increase.

He can make miracles happen.