Monday, December 24, 2007

Logan, the Sky Angel Cowboy

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There are those things in life which really make you think and bring your perspective back to where it should be.

I was recently given a link by a friend of mine, Summer, to a clip on YouTube. The clip is of a phone conversation between Logan, a 13 year-old boy who lives on a Nebraska ranch, and a radio DJ for 89.3 FM KSBJ. This is a Christian radio station which broadcasts from Houston, TX.

Logan made a phone call to the radio station very upset because he had to put down a calf that he loved. The message he shared made me think of what is truly important this time of year, and that no matter what challenges we are called to face in our lives, Somebody knows and understands what it is that we are going through.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Pin It I thought I'd share the Christmas card I made for this year...

Soundtrack to life

Pin It There are times when I am going day to day through my routines and moments…suddenly a song comes to mind. Often I will think to myself just how grand it would be to have that particular song be part of the soundtrack to my life. Maybe I’m one of the only people who do this, but I will frequently rethink over portions of my life to a song I’ve heard which seems fitting for that particular “scene” or moment suspended in time.

One of the most recent titles I’ve added to my “living album” is Matt Scannell (the lead singer from Vertical Horizon) remaking John Lennon’s 1965 hit song, “In my life.”



There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I'll love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I'll love you more

What song would you add to a daily life playlist? Would you like to add yours to the list of other fellow bloggers? If so, go here.

I didn't know any better

Pin It I was at the grocery store recently and saw a box of cereal I hadn’t had since I was a kid.

I picked up the box and tossed it into the cart, excited to try the cereal that I loved when I was little. I came home and poured some into a bowl and then immediately began to chow down. It took only about a second before I realized that this cereal didn’t taste like cereal at all, it tasted like old dog treats with berry flavoring (yes, I’ve eaten dog biscuits before).

As I dumped the cereal in the sink, thinking of the colossal waste of milk, I came to the conclusion that the reason things don’t taste as good as we remember is because we have developed taste. When you were a kid it was such a treat to have something, anything that had sugar in it. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that I have become much more selective in my food choices. Instead of the two gallon tub of SnowStar brand vanilla ice cream, I spring for the good stuff. And I now pass by the Little Debbie display altogether.

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that Boo Berry Cereal always tasted as bad as it does now, I just didn’t know any better back then.

Kryptonite

Pin It Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like nothing can stop you? You feel so full of power and strength that you feel you’re impervious to everything…then, along comes that dratted Kryptonite?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

When you’re sick

Pin It I used to take great pride in the fact that I had only had one sick day in my teaching career—and that is when I had a kidney infection about four years ago. Yesterday at school I started feeling ill and by the time evening rolled around I felt horrible. This is when I thought to myself, “You don’t need to be a superman…if you don’t feel good, stay at home.”

Hence, I decided to stay home and just be sick.

I do have to admit that I have thought of my class quite a bit today and wondering just how they are doing with the sub. Hopefully, they aren’t eating her alive…after all, you know sixth graders.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Perspective

Pin It I Recently completed yet another show at ComedySportz. I'm sure that many of you know I have worked with this improv comedy troupe here in Provo for about 5 years and have done a lot of shows during that time. However, a few months after starting I decided that being up on stage was not really where I wanted to be. There was too much pressure with improv…sometimes it’s hard to come up with something when somebody looks at you and says, in essence, “Okay, be funny…now!”

I was determined to change up what I was doing and decided instead to start being “Mr. Voice.” Now, to tell you a bit about the job…Mr. Voice is the guy who is in charge of lights, sound effects, music, announcing, score keeping, and a variety of other things. I thought that this would be a good change for me. Of course, it is a lot less “glamorous” than being on stage. Usually after the show, everybody goes up to the players outside as they are leaving and tells them what a great job they did, and just how funny they were. Rarely does anyone come up to the booth and say, “Mr. Voice, you did great!” But, on another note, I get to watch the whole show…well, part of it as there are moments when I am panicking, trying to get a certain song or sound effect keyed up because I never know what the players are going to do next. It’s a trade-off.

Like I was saying though, I’ve been Mr. Voice for a long time and my job has become comfortable and I feel confident in doing it.

Set the way-back clock to two weeks ago. I had arrived at ComedySportz and started the show and was doing (if I don’t say so myself) a great job. The show was progressing along smoothly and the audience was into it. Now, there is this certain game where any player on either team can call the other team out of a particular scene they’re acting out by simply calling an “objection.” They state this objection to the referee, who then either will or will not sustain it. If sustained, the other team takes over the scene and it runs on until another objection is sustained. Make sense?

Well, there was this scene which required a transformer sound so, using the microphone I made the robotic shifting sounds of the imaginary car changing into a transformer. Unfortunately, the sound effect sounded a bit too much like stomach indigestion toward the end and Mike, one of the players, called an objection to the sound effect. “This transformer does not have indigestion!” Well, the ref. sustained it and Mike and I were required to switch places.

Now, I want you to remember that it has been about 4 years since I’ve been on stage at ComedySportz. As I jumped from my little crows nest of sorts in the back, I passed Mike at a run up the aisle. Suddenly, I found myself standing on the stage taking the part of Mike’s character. It was at this point that I realized that I hadn’t paid any attention to the last few lines that had been said. Now, I’d love to say that I came up with a snappy line and the whole audience roared with tumultuous laughter. However, this was not the case. I stood there and drew up a complete blank. As I looked at the booth where I usually sat on the other side of the club, I was suddenly taken in with the realization that it sure looked different from up here a lot scarier.

This brings me to my point. As I was standing there I was given a real-world example of looking at things from another vantage point, or perspective. I love the scene in “Dead Poet’s Society” where Robin Williams has each of his students stand on his desk to see how the room looks different from this new angle. Though it is the same room, it looks a lot different because of the way he has them look at the room.

How many times have I had difficulty with somebody because I refused to look at something from their point of view? To see a situation from their eyes and standpoint? It makes me wonder just how much easier this life would be if we would each do that.

To finish my story…it was only a few moments before another objection was called and I was returned to my fortress of security in the back of the club. But when I left that night I took with me a greater desire to always try to put myself in the other person’s shoes. When I encounter individuals in my life that may not see things eye to eye with me, I hope that I can, at least for a few moments, try to see it from a new and different vantage point, one to which they are accustomed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Difference...

Pin It Have you ever had the day when you feel like you made a difference in the life of somebody else? A moment when you know, know mind you that something you said finally got through to them? It’s a feeling that makes all of the drudgery and work that went behind it worth it.

Now, if only they will continue on in the direction they are going.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Not home yet

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As I sit here this evening I find myself thoughtful…reflecting on my life and all of those things which have made it what it is today. There are times I have made mistakes, traveled down roads which I wish I’d never taken. There are also moments I have made, what I consider, grand contributions to the lives of others. As I consider these individual parts of my life which contribute to the sum, I find myself realizing that there is something more, something beyond the scope of this life and the trials and successes it affords us.

It is when I remember that the events and situations in this life are temporary that I have hope. It is this which helps me to carry on day to day. I do have a song I particularly like right now by Steven Curtis Chapman. It is my reminder that we are all still but travelers along this road known as life and we are truly “not home yet.”


My dear, waving friend

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For the last few years I have driven on the same road to work; a familiar route which takes no thought on my part to drive after years of travel along it. This pathway has become so familiar that it is like an old friend, a dear friend, one who is always there and does not change.

It was about two or so years ago that I was traveling my familiar route, and I noticed a Hispanic woman walking along the same street, toward me. This was not unusual, as I regularly saw dozens of people and cars in the course of my morning travel. However, this woman stood out to me for some reason. Well, several reasons really. For starters, I usually pass this woman at about the same place each morning—usually just crossing the train tracks when I turn onto the intersecting street. It didn’t take long for both of us to notice that we passed each other quite often on this same stretch of road.

When we each first noticed the other we didn’t do much more than maybe take a second glance, that is, until one day one of us waved to the other. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure which of us started it, but somebody did, and from that point we would smile and wave to each other each day after that as we passed near the railroad tracks.

It’s amazing to me that the simple act of a wave caused something to change between us, no longer was she just the Hispanic woman walking down the street, but she became—in essence—my friend; A friend who greets me every day that I see her with a smile and an enthusiastic wave. It wasn’t very long before she stopped waving one arm, and started to wave them both when she saw me and I always wave back in return. This is now a bright spot in my day, and I can’t help but continue on to work with a smile. There is just something about this woman which is infectious.

There have been a few days I’ve needed to go to work a bit earlier than usual, or am running a little bit late. It is on these days that I do not see my dear, waving friend. In fact, there was a period for nearly a month where I did not see her at all, and I wondered where she was and how she was doing. It may sound strange to hear this, but I felt as though a part of my life were amiss. These mornings when I did not see her made me feel like I did when I’d left my lunch sitting on the kitchen counter or had forgotten my school keys…something was missing.

I recently began to see my friend again…in fact, about two weeks ago was the first time I had seen her in a long time. Like before, no words were exchanged, just a smile and a friendly wave.

It may seem strange that I have a friend, one whom I have never spoken to, I’ve never visited at her home, and I know nothing about her other than what she looks like, but none of those things are important to me. Maybe one day I’ll stop and talk to her, and maybe I won’t. But no matter what happens I know that whenever my dear friend and I pass each other in the morning, we’ll both greet each other with a friendly smile…and a wave.

20 Questions

Pin It This was something I chose to do rather than the you've-been-tagged-and-now-you-need-to-share-deep-and-dark-
secrets-about-yourself-for-the-whole-world-to-see thing. This is actually something that my sisters have done and it basically requires you to find an answer to the question on a photo search...Google Images, Dogpile, whatever you want. You pick an image off of the first screen of image hits and replace your answer with the photo. As you will see, some of these make absolutely no sense with the real answer.

My age on my next birthday:


A place I'd like to visit:

My favorite place:


My favorite object/thing:


My favorite food:


My favorite animal:


A color I particularly like:


The town were I was born:


The town where I currently live:


My favorite pet's name:


The name of a past girlfriend:


My nickname (or screen name):


My first name:


My middle name:


My last name:


A bad habit I have:


My first job (that I can remember):


My grandmother's name:


The degree I have right now:


My secret ambition/dream:

Well, that's it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The best Halloween costume

Pin It No, it isn't this one...


Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays of all time. I can remember being a kid on Halloween and looking forward with anticipation to the night festivities…AKA: trick-or-treating. When I was little, my mom had me dress up as Andy, from Raggedy Ann and Andy because she’d made the costume. But, as a kid, I didn’t mind…after all, what is there that a kid won’t do for a great, big bag of candy?


When I turned 9 years old, I began to pick my own costumes and one of my favorites was dressing up as Zorro. There was something amazing about dressing up as a guy who defies a tyrannical government and who could single-handedly take on an entire army of villains and come out on top. Plus the fact that I’d get to wear a mask and carry a sword were always perks to being Zorro as well…not to mention that since my last name started with a Z, I could always leave that mark of his on my papers at school, claiming it as my own.

Costumes come and go, and as they do I would find myself choosing them much more carefully than I had when I was younger. Who would I want to be this year? Lately, a personal favorite costume of mine is Professor Severus Snape. Since I am elementary school teacher, dressing up as Snape makes school much more fun, considering the fact that I black out the windows, have thunder and rain sound effects playing, and very little lighting in the room…it’s amazing just how you can make a bright and cheery classroom feel so much like a dungeon. All of this plus the fact that I can be a ruthless character whom the kids absolutely love to have as a sub.

This year I decided to not only dress up as Snape, but in a few other costumes as well. It started off last year with the thought that it would be fun to be two different characters. So, I was Snape to start off the morning, and then after morning recess was a military commander whom I’d named, Sir Yessir. It was fun for the morning hours and as my class went to lunch I heard a few of them comment to each other with things like, “I can’t wait to see who’s going to be here after lunch!” Well, I hadn’t thought about being anybody else so the class had to content themselves with only two teachers that year.

Well, wanting to have a little more fun, I spent quite a few more hours preparing for Halloween this year. Not only did I have to get the classroom ready, but I had to get the costumes ready as well. It was at 12:30 on the eve before Halloween that I found myself driving home from the school and it was at about 1:30 that morning that I finally got to sleep.

When my alarm clock sounded a few hours later I thought that it was much too early…after all, it had just seemed that I had put my head to my pillow when it was time for me to go to school again. I rolled out of bed and quickly got ready…gathering up a large bunch of costume props which I needed for the day and headed out to school.

The beginning of the day was great. Playing Snape is always a lot of fun…especially considering the entrance I make when I have this ominous song for my entry and I turn off the lights so that only the dim lighting in the classroom I’d set up before is now noticeable. It’s strange too…for some reason, the kids absolutely love it when I would take points from their “houses” and mostly from any student dressed up as a character from the Harry Potter books (this year it was Lilly Evans).

After first recess my class was surprised when the next character arrived. A military commander who made them run obstacle courses on the playground, made them listen to patriotic music, and profess his love of America. I have to admit, last year I was much more brutal as this character (whom the kids still loved). This year, Sir Yessir had mellowed quite a bit from what he’d been in the past.


After lunch I was a character whom I decided to simply name, “Captain.” This was merely from the fact that I was supposed to be Jack Sparrow, however, my sister was unable to finish the costume so I was just a pirate captain instead. This was a fun character who gave the entire class pirate names like, Worm Gut and Ugly Pete.

A bit later I came in as “Earl.” Earl is an employee of Wal-Mart who is the host of multiple personalities whom would all surface at various times of his visit to our classroom. My favorite personality he housed was Blanche—a 50 year-old lounge singer whose voice had deteriorated into a gravely quality.

At the end of the day I had chosen to be a Jedi…a pretty cool costume which is a lot of fun to wear. In all, it was a fun Halloween.

A lot of work? Yes.
Fun? Yes.
Would I do it again? Not sure.

The reason I would not want to repeat my Halloween costume fest is mostly from the fact that it was an amazing amount of work which took far too much time in the end.


On a different note, however, I did get a little pleasant surprise before the day was through…do you remember what I said before about imitation being the most sincere form of flattery? Well, imagine my surprise when I found the 8 year-old boy across the hall dressed up in HIS Halloween costume.

Now, I can only wonder…did his mom make him dress up that way? After all, he’s only 8.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Okay, I'm a geek

Pin It I was on Youtube the other day and I found something which I thought was amazingly cool and I just had to post it...okay, I'm a geek. I have to admit it...



What kid isn't there in the world that at one time wanted to have a lightsaber? I just think of just how much more amazing "Pirates" would have been with lightsabers as well...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's about time

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Well, I finally broke down and finally bought an iPod. I kept putting it off after my little "adventure" in losing my old Mp3 player...I guess I was hoping that I could find an inexpensive Mp3 player, however, nothing seemed to be quite as good of a deal as just breaking down and buying this little baby. Also, I have to admit, there's nothing quite like the feeling you get when you know you're carrying 26,000 songs in your arsenal wherever you go.


I did christen my new iPod with one of my favorite Nickel Creek songs, after all, you can never have too much Nickel Creek.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Living Years

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When I turned five years old I got a really cool little puppy for my birthday. He was a half St. Bernard/half Golden Retriever mix (If you’ve ever seen the movie, ‘Beethoven’ you have a basic idea of just how big he really was). We decided to name him Grizzly Bear but we just called him Grizzly or Griz for short. He was a fantastic dog that I played with as a young boy and loved very much.

As the years trudged on and I became older, I began to play less and less with Grizzly. Though I didn’t seem to notice, as I got older, Grizzly did too. But no matter what, he was always there for me, even during a period of time where I pretty much ignored him because I had other things going on in my life. Unfortunately, as he got older he became and sick, and eventually couldn’t walk anymore, his fur was falling out, and he was in pain. We called the Vet who gave us the devastating news that Grizzly had simply grown too old and would need to be put to sleep.

I will never forget the day that the vet came out and gave Grizzly a shot that made him fall asleep. I remember knowing that once he fell asleep that he wouldn’t ever wake up again. As I watched from my bedroom window I thought of all the times I didn’t play with him. I was angry at myself for letting all that time go on and ignoring him until it was too late. We wrapped him in my favorite blanket, one that I’d had since I was four or five and buried him. I felt horrible inside, like I wanted to run and scream and hit something until the pain would go away. I had lost my best friend.

Isn’t it strange that so often we get caught up in life and don’t seem to truly notice our pets, friends, and sometimes even our family? One of the most terrible things that can happen is when we do not truly appreciate someone or something until they are gone. A group called “Mike and the Mechanics” came out with a song nearly twenty years ago entitled “The Living Years”; this song tells the story of a man who never really took the opportunity to tell his dad that he loved him. His dad dies and the man feels a hollow emptiness inside, wishing that he’d told his father how he’d always felt. In the end he basically expresses just how important it is for us to tell the people we love that we love them, while they are still here and so are we.


I guess my point is that it’s easy for us to create memories with others but so often we don’t. The TV set usually wins out over family conversation and long hours at work can consume a lifetime. When we, or a loved one are about to pass on from this life, will we have the right memories to take with us, or will it be reruns of our favorite television programs? I just hope that we can all think of experiences such as these in our lives and remember that the people around us won’t be around forever. In any moment of time they could suddenly be gone...would you have told them everything you’d have wanted to? Would you have spent the time with them, showing them how much you loved them? I think of this too and I realize in writing this that there are several people in my life that I really need to let know that I love them, to tell them that they are important to me, and that I haven’t forgotten them. Sometimes this can be hard when it feels that there is so much demanding our time in regards to school, work, and everyday life around us. It is my hope that we will all take the time to reach out while we are still in our “living years.”

Monday, October 29, 2007

The highest form of flattery

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When I was growing up I had written a story. It was a story of which I was incredibly proud. I had shared this story with my little brother, Yancy. A few weeks later my little brother was very excited because a short story he had written won a writing contest and would be included in a publication at his elementary school. It wasn’t long before the stapled-together booklet came home with my brother’s short story. As I read the first sentence I found myself my temper beginning to rise within me. The reason I was feeling angry was because the story my brother had written was my story. The one I had written and had told him about.

I immediately wanted justice for this “stealing” of my idea. Had I known what the word plagiarism was back then, I probably would have used that when I was stating my case to my mom who, after listening, responded with something like, “Jason, your little brother copied your idea because he looks up to you. You’re his big brother who wrote a story; he wanted to write a similar story…he did it because you’re his hero.”

I didn’t see how stealing my idea had anything to do with being a hero, and once-again tried to get my mom to see my side of the situation. After listening to me rant on yet again, my mom tried to get me to see what she was trying to say. I just didn’t get it. She ended the conversation with the following words, “Jason, imitation is the highest form of flattery, and one day you’ll understand it.”

Many years have flown since that day when my brother and I were both children, and I have to say that over these days I have finally came to understand what it was my mother meant. When we copy what someone else does, we are in essence saying, “I want to be like you,” or “You are somebody that I look up to.” By imitating them, we are sending a message, a message without any words.

I was recently absent for about a week from the classroom where I teach sixth grade. When I returned to school today, I was greeted with a surprise. You see, four days each week I dress up for school—usually with a white shirt and tie. Today was no exception. However, as I went outside this morning to retrieve my class, I noticed that one of my students, whom I’ll christen as “Chase,” was wearing a white shirt and tie as well.

At first I didn’t say anything to him about this, but instead just gave him a little wink and a smile as he walked into the school with the rest of his classmates. After the first few hours of classes I found myself on recess duty, walking the playground with Chase following in my wake. I stopped and began to talk to him, “Chase, you dressed up today. Could I ask you why?”

Chase smiled and said, “Well Mr. Z, you were gone all last week and I knew you were coming back today and, well, I just felt like dressing up.”

As Chase and I walked the playground together talking, I began to remember that time as a boy when my little brother had copied my story. I’ll admit I hadn’t thought about this story for quite some time. As I did I smiled. My mom was right when she’d said that one of the greatest compliments we can give to others is our emulation of them.

I spoke with Chase’s mother this evening. In our conversation she said that Chase had had worn his white shirt and tie for several of the days I was absent from school. She also said that last night he was adamant that his white shirt needed to be laundered; it needed to be clean in order for him to wear again at school. “I think he was trying to impress someone,” she said.

Impress someone he had.

When the end of the school day arrived I thanked Chase. I thanked him for the compliment he had given to me. There are no words more powerful this boy could have spoken to his teacher which could have sent a message greater than the one he did by simply coming to school wearing a white shirt and a tie.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Breakfast with Dad

Pin It October 27, 2007
The morning would bring with it an excitement like Christmas and yet sadness too, like the last day of school in the spring. This bittersweet feeling came all because of something my dad had whispered to Yancy and me late that night, “Tomorrow we go to the Hoot Owl.” This small statement, coupled with the fact that my flight took off later that afternoon, had me feeling a mix of emotion.
So, what's The Hoot Owl? Well, The Hoot Owl is one of those little restaurants which you can only seem to find in small towns. It’s the place which has been run by the same family for years and the menu doesn’t ever seem to change…it’s like stepping back in time to a place that never seems to age, no matter how much I do.
On Saturday morning I was the first awake, and I carefully awoke my brother and dad. I felt like I did when I was a kid…trying so hard to be so quiet on Christmas morning, and yet wanting to be loud so we could get things rolling. It didn’t take long before the two of them were wide awake and we slipped off into the early morning mist and shadows which still covered the sleepy neighborhood on Red Clover Drive.
As we drove to The Hoot Owl the sun slowly broke into life, rising ever so leisurely with its first rays of morning reaching over the mountains to linger on the treetops, orange and yellow. We parked in the dirt lot next door and made our way to the brightly-lit restaurant which greeted us not only with warmth from the chilly October air, but a bundle of smells which all spelled breakfast.
Years ago my dad used to joke with us, telling us that each of the flies which always buzzed about this cafĂ© all had names, and were personally trained by the family, being kept in little cages at night and released every morning to greet the customers. Though the thought of flies in a restaurant may sound nauseating, this is just one of the small things about this little restaurant which gives it a feeling of home. I’m sure that a part of this sentiment is due to the fact that it is a place that I’ve only been to with my dad before, and no matter how old we get we hold on to traditions—even those which have only been in existence for a few years.
My dad, my brother, and I sat there and talked over our steaming plates of breakfast. We didn’t necessarily discuss anything which was life-changing, or anything which was incredibly profound…we just talked. Many moments I just listened to what was being said. Amidst spills of water and maple syrup, laughter and deep thought, and friendly greetings from other people my dad and brother knew, we had the opportunity spend a last little while together before I left for Utah…this is something which doesn’t seem to happen near enough with my dad.
As we walked outside once-again into the chilly October morning, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. As I climbed into the rental car, fired up the engine, and began the two-hour drive to the Spokane Airport, I thought of how fortunate I was to have a family who cares about me, and one I care about back. Already in my mind I was anticipating breakfast at some future time again with my dad and brother at The Hoot Owl.

It could always be worse

Pin It Did you ever have one of those times when you were feeling bad for yourself and then saw someone who was worse off than you? That’s exactly what happened to me tonight…I was walking along the train tracks and had crossed over the river on the trestle to take a few photos. When I was on my way back I noticed a tent down near the river amongst the bushes and trees…hidden away from the people driving on the road just to the other side of the railroad tracks.


As I looked down at this man who was calling this place home, I suddenly felt very fortunate and blessed in my life. Yes, I may have things in my time here on Earth which aren’t the greatest, but there is always someone else who has it harder than I do. I do need to count my blessings…

Small town service with a smile

Pin It A small town has so much less than a big city…the movie theater only recently got the movies which left the big cities weeks ago, the gas is usually $ .10 more expensive per gallon, and the public library—the place where you finally managed to find wireless Internet service—closes at 5:00 PM, making it incredibly difficult to get online for any lengthy period of time. However, a small town such as Sandpoint has what I like to think of as small town service.
An example of this service started out on Wednesday morning. You see, I went to Yoke’s grocery store in order to get a maple bar for breakfast. As I looked at the donuts, I saw some reddish-colored fritters and I wondered to myself if they were raspberry or cherry. I just had to ask…after all, I love raspberry fritters. Melissa, the employee working in the bakery, informed me that they only made cherry and apple fitters. Oh well, I could always get a raspberry one when I came back home, right? Melissa gave me a smile and asked if I had wanted raspberry. I told her that I was fine but she insistent and said, “I’ll tell you what, we’ll make some raspberry fritters tomorrow, okay? Isn’t that right, Dave?” She called over to the man who was working with her.
Dave, the baker, said that they would have one raspberry fritter especially for me the next day.
I hadn’t planned on going back the next morning, but I was curious if they really were going to make raspberry fritters. I got up early and before my drive to the town of Chewelah, and I stopped in at Yoke’s. When I walked up to the bakery, Melissa saw me and broke into a smile as wide as Christmas. “I’ve got your raspberry fritter right here!” she called, handing me the donut she’d carefully been saving to the side. “We made a bunch this morning and they went like wildfire…I had to set yours aside so nobody else would get it.”
I couldn’t believe just how much effort these two people went to just to make sure that an out-of-town customer could have something he wanted. I was so impressed that I had to mention it to their manager, who was not greatly surprised at the extra mile his employees had gone. To him, it was something which was expected, but it was nice to hear the appreciation from customers.
As I walked out of Yoke’s that morning, I left with much more than a raspberry fritter, I left with the appreciation and knowledge of just what going the extra mile can do for someone else. Did their making a donut just for me change the world? Probably not. However, did it make a day of live a little bit more enjoyable? Absolutely.
Never underestimate what a seemingly tiny act of small town service can do for somebody else.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Nothingness

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I have tried to compose a blog several times now, and nothing seems to come. The only line I’ve had thus far is, “Life can change on a dime.” I think that Kathleen Kelly, Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail, summed up how I am feeling perfectly when she said,

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, not small, but circumscribed. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book [or saw in a movie], when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So goodnight, dear void.

That is it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Desert Journal

Pin It My mom gave me this great desert journal. It is so great to have a place in which I can record the things I experience while out here in the area I love the most.

Giving Up

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(October 12, 2007)

It is really amazing what life teaches us through what we see around us. As I woke up this morning I was greeted by a beautiful day. I was up immediately and was taking some photographs when I found two trees, side-by-side.

One of these trees was alive and the other was dead. Both had gnarled bark and each was stooped, as if standing straight had been far too much. However, it looked as if one of them had just given up.

It amazes me that both of these trees took different pathways and is still with us, while the other is not.

Is this not a metaphor of life? That there are many around us still in the land of the living, but inside are “dead” because they’ve given up?

As I sit there and gaze at these two trees, I am faced with a daunting question...which of these two am I?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The $100 photo (or music for the fish)

Pin It I took a drive up Provo Canyon today and found myself at Cascade Springs. What a truly glorious afternoon it was to be out enjoying the beauty of the world at this wonderful time of year. In fact, while up at the springs, I took quite a famous photo that is worth $100. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering just how I was able to calculate the value of this fantastic photograph...right?


Well, make yourself comfortable because I will spin you a tale which will undoubtedly cause you to laugh, cry, and draw in your breath as you clutch the person next to you. Yes, it really is that good.
To answer your question, I need to let you know about a little thing know as economics. You see economics, or the study of goods and services, teaches us about something called “opportunity cost.” Opportunity Cost quite simply states that we cannot have everything we want because our wants are limitless, and the things we very often desire are scarce. When we “purchase” something, either with our money or our time, it comes at the cost of something else which we could have gotten/done instead. Say, for instance, I wanted to go to the movies to see “Hairspray” yet, I also wanted to make sure the kitchen and bathroom at my house were clean before I left for ComedySportz that night. Well, because my time is scarce, and I can’t “make” any more of it, I need to spend it on that which will do the greatest good, right? (By the way, the movie was awesome).
“So”, I can almost hear you ask, “Just what was the opportunity cost of this photo, Jason?”
Suffice it to say, the “cost” involved with my famous photo came at the price of something else…Now, before you start second-guessing and decide that I spent too much of my day there (which I had planned to do anyhow) I will just tell you. You see, I went to Cascade Springs fully intending to spend some of my time there, it was not a cost to me, however, what I did not expect to spend was this:


Now, there are undoubtedly some of you whose little brains are already working this one out. For those a little less adept I will explain. You see, I was on this arching bridge and looking up at the glorious view you saw previously in the top photo. I thought a much better depiction of the scene could only happen if I were to hold my camera right above the water and snap the photo from this vantage point.
The plan was beautiful—however not flawless—for as I leaned out over the water something slipped from my shirt pocket and fell with a splash into the crystalline water, flowing like liquid silver beneath me. It took only a split second to figure out what it was. I quickly placed my other valuables on the shore by the bank and returned to the bridge, leaning out over the side and feeling around under the rapidly-flowing water. The stream was ice-cold and as my fingertips floundered around mossy stones and watercress, I came up empty-handed.
An elderly couple was quite sympathetic of my plight as they had witnessed the entire tragic event from the shore. As I looked down into the quickly-flowing water and stabbed my hand in for another go, the elderly gentlemen (whom I will christen as “Rufus”) felt free to tell me something entirely obvious, “I saw something black slip out of your pocket...but I don’t see it anymore.”

Thanks, Grandpa Rufus…I couldn’t figure that one out all on my own.

I soon gave up my attempt, passing it all off with a laugh and wandered up the trail, after all, Rufus and this wife had wanted to use the bridge to get their picture taken by their son and I was in their way. As I walked along the trail alone and in complete silence, I was lost in thought...I was thinking of ways which I could reacquire my Mp3 player. Undoubtedly, rainbow trout were even now enjoying the sounds of Nickel Creek or had started listening to the 7th Harry Potter audio book...they probably wanted to know what was going to happen with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named just as much as I did. It was at this moment that I came up with my ingenious plan to get my player back…
I remembered a sign earlier on in my walk proudly proclaiming that 7,000,000 gallons of water flowed from Cascade Springs every day. Alright, since there are 24 hours in a day with 60 minutes to each, that would put you at 1,440 minutes per day. Multiply this by 60 seconds per minute and you’ve got 86,400 seconds. Now, divide seven million by this number and it gives you roughly 81 gallons of water flowing every second...however, since some of this must sink into the ground, and animals must drink a portion of it as well as some of it being lost back to the air through evaporation, I was probably only looking at about 70 gallons.
Whoa…70 gallons! When I think of gallons I always think of containers of milk…and that, my friend, is a lot of milk. I have a pretty good understanding of a gallon because I did a “gallon challenge” at a ward party awhile ago and I tried to drink a gallon of warm lemonade before any of the 9 other idiots did. It only took me about ¾ of the gallon before I began throwing it all up (along with dinner) but had to continue doing it anyway because all of my friends (as well as complete strangers) were cheering me on and chanting my name, however, that is another story. My point is…70 gallons a second is a LOT of water.
Alright, that means my first plan was not only ridiculous, but theoretically impossible as I had no way to divert 70 gallons of water for even one second…much less any way to soak it up. My second idea was much better and it was only a simple matter of logic to arrive at it. I didn’t have to block the water flow at all, but instead conduct an experiment which would allow for me to not only find my Mp3 player, but to prove that all of that junk I learned years ago in science when studying about aerodynamics could indeed come in handy.
All I had to do was to find a rock similar in weight and size to my Mp3 player, copy the trajectory and entry into the water exactly as it had fallen out of my pocket, watch where the rock landed, and I would know the exact location of my submerged musical gadget! Ah…I walked quicker, and as I did I congratulated myself for my sheer genius and brilliance!
Well, rocks are not all too plentiful in areas of water. Undoubtedly, there had been many children in this area for countless years who’d scoured the ground pretty thoroughly for rocks…since most of these were probably already in the brook, it took a little longer to find one than I’d originally anticipated. After a few minutes of searching I finally found one that would suit my purposes. I returned to the bridge with a smug grin, fully believing that I would retrieve my Mp3 player...and perhaps it wasn’t ruined after all but would work again once I had dried it out. Rufus’ wife—I’ll call her Agnes—had helpfully pointed out that cell phone batteries could be saved once they were submerged in water if you buried them under rice. Not that I had any rice with me, but I could try this out once I gotten home.

I very carefully took my stone and repeated the “fall” just as it had happened before. I watched carefully as the rock quickly sank into the water, not five inches downstream from its point of entry.
I quickly positioned myself on the bridge and reached down into the water yet again. I searched more thoroughly than I had done before. I also noticed several people who’d been walking down toward the bridge suddenly seemed to change their mind as wanting to cross over it…probably thinking I was lying there because I’d just crawled out from underneath it, like the trolls you always read about in fairy tales who lived under the bridge and collected tolls from unwary travelers.
Well, after successfully freezing both of my hands and scaring off a 10 year-old and his dog, I came up once-again empty handed. It was no use, my Mp3 player was officially MIA.
I walked back to my car, somewhat forlornly. I climbed inside and started the engine before I noticed what was on my windshield…


You have got to be kidding…
Well, I searched around for my National Parks Pass so I could flash that to the ranger and get out of there without paying the extra fee but it was no avail…I couldn’t find my pass at all…I must have taken it out of my car. Why? I don’t know…maybe I thought I’d be walking to a national park instead of driving. I dug around in my car for the $3 fee but the smallest bill I had on me was a fiver…there was no way I was going to give up two extra dollars when I figured that Forestry Service owed me a new Mp3 player anyhow!
Unfortunately, people just wouldn’t see it that way and if I said anything they’d probably have ticketed me for “littering” or something like that. I did, however, take quite a bit of pleasure in paying for my “visit” in small change.


Oh, and by the way, I was wrong with what I’d originally said…that picture is actually worth $103.
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