Monday, December 18, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

To be absent or not to be absent

Here's the unofficial timeline from my experiences in order to fill (or not fill) one absence among the many that were called in this morning:

8:15am - Message from Teacher left on our Voicemail: "I need a substitute for today. I am sick. Thanks."
8:32am - Absence filled with Substitute (school starts at 9:10am)
8:50am - I leave work to pick up Deidra and take her to school
8:55am - Message from Teacher left on our Voicemail (I checked voicemail when I got home to pick up Deidra): "I don't know if you have found a substitute for me yet, but I am feeling better and can come to school, so I do not need a substitute anymore."
9:20am - I enter my office and pick up the ringing phone. It is Teacher: "Did you find me a substitute?"
Me: "Yes. We have Substitute probably already at the school. I just got your message. Are you at the school now? Do you still need the substitute or not?"
Teacher: "Well, if you already have a substitute coming in, then I will go ahead and stay home. Thanks!"
9:30am - I pick up another call. It is Substitute: "I just went the job you called me about this morning and they sent me home saying they didn't need me."
Me: "The school sent you home?"
Substitute: "Yes"
Me: "OK, let me call them and find out what is going on, because I just talked to the teacher and she said that she was going to be absent. So now I am confused."
9:35am - I call the school and inquire about the situation:
Secretary: "We sent Substitute home because Teacher called us and told us she was coming in."
Me: "I just talked to her about fifteen minutes ago and she told us she was staying home."
Secretary: "Let me transfer you to her Supervising Teacher and you can work it out." (note: Teacher is an aide in a classroom, so I was transferred to the teacher she works under)
Me: (I explain the situation to Supervising Teacher)
Supervising Teacher: "When did you talk to Teacher?"
Me: "About 15-20 minutes ago."
Supervising Teacher: "Okay, she called here about a half hour ago and said she was coming in, but she must have changed her mind. Go ahead and send Substitute back, if she is still available."
9:45am - I contact Substitute and she agrees to return to the school.
10:00am - I receive another call. It is Secretary: "Now both Teacher and Substitute have shown up and I am confused."
Me: "You're not the only one."

After all was said and done, we came to the conclusion that Teacher had talked to Supervising Teacher after she had talked to Me, so she had made the final decision to come in to work instead of being absent that day. But of course she doesn't let me know. Talk about frustrating! I talked to Substitute and explained the situation and offered her a half-day pay for showing up (twice). Luckily, she was understanding about the situation. Sometimes this job makes me want to scream profanities . . . and, unfortunately, there are days like today when I give in to the urge.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Did I mention that this was my fantasy football opponent:

Yeah, that's right. I lost to a not-quite-one-year-old. But he does look pretty tough, doesn't he?

Ok, maybe he doesn't always look tough. In fact, sometimes he looks just plain goofy . . . But he sure does know his lineman stance. If he wasn't so darn little, he'd make a good football center. Hike, hike!

Yeah, he is a vicious opponent! If you don't watch out, he'll rip you to shreds with his own sharp teeth!

So, Bentley - congratulations on the win. I feel sorry for your next fantasy football victim.

The curse continues!

Week one of the fantasy playoffs is wrapping up, and it looks like my curse of never winning a first-round playoff game is going to continue. I had my best game of the season, scoring 97 points (one of the 10 best point totals for all 12 teams spanning the entire season), which would have beaten any other team in the tournament this week, . . . except the team that I happened to be playing (they scored 102 points). So the curse continues. I kind of feel like the Boston Red Sox right now. I just hope it doesn't take me 100 years to break this curse.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

10 years later . . . a hell of a deal!

A little over ten years ago in July 1996, I was at my job loading and unloading grain trucks in Acequia, Idaho, when I got a call from my dad at home in Declo.

"Chris, I am just calling you to let you know that your mission call came in the mail this afternoon and will be waiting for you to open when you get home."

This was at about 2 in the afternoon and I had to work until 8pm that night. What torture to be working that long wondering where I was going to be asked to serve as a missionary, when I would leave, and what else was contained in that envelope. I called the girl I was dating at the time and told her to call all of our friends and have them meet at my house for the big opening of the mission call (I do not recommend that course of action, by the way). When I got of work, I began the long half-hour drive home. With my mind racing, I raced home eagerly . . . apparently a little too eagerly. About three miles from my house I was pulled over and given a ticket for speeding.

At that time in my life, getting a ticket wasn't a novelty. I had been pulled over for speeding before. In addition, I had been issued tickets for a number of other violations: inattentive driving, left of center, driving on a closed road, etc. And that doesn't even take in to account all the times I got off with just a warning. In fact, a month or so later, I received a letter in mail basically saying that if I got one more traffic violation, my license would be revoked. And since you are required to send a copy of your driving record to the church before reporting for your mission, I was pretty sure that I was going to be walking and riding a bike for most of my mission. But that was not the case. I spent a total of 2 months on foot, 2 months on a bike, and 20 months in a car. Of those 20 months, I was the driver for 18 months.

But since that fateful day in July, 1996, I have had a clean driving record. I may have been pulled over a time or two, but I have not received another ticket during that long time period . . . until yesterday. On my way home from work (having left work a little earlier than usual), I turned east from 200 East onto 400 North and proceeded normally. A little while later, I look in my rear-view mirror to see the flashing lights of a police motorcycle behind me. A looked at my speed, which wasn't excessive, and pulled over a little confused. The conversation proceeded as follows:

Officer: Good afternoon. Do you have any idea why I pulled you over?

Me: No, not really.

Officer: Do you know what the speed limit is?

Me: 40?

Officer: Well . . . do you know how fast you were going?

Me: Um . . . 40?

Officer: I clocked you at 38. The problem is that you just came out of a school zone during the posted school zone time. The speed limit in the school zone is 20.

Having left work a little early, I neglected to remember that I would be driving home during the approximate time that school would be letting out at the nearby elementary school. I apologized and explained my situation. He nodded understandably and asked for my license, insurance, and registration. After handing him the requested items, he returned to his motorcycle and I was left to ponder the fact that my fate was completely in his hands. Did he believe me when I told him my story? And if so, does he even care? He's just going to issue a warning, isn't he?

The longer he stayed at his motorcycle, the less hope I had of getting off with a warning. In my former days, I had learned that the time an officer spends back at their vehicle is directly proportionate to the likelihood of getting a ticket. Then I started thinking the worst. Is it more of a fine for speeding in a school zone? I was going 18 miles over the school zone limit. That probably has quite the hefty cost attached to it.

Then I see him approaching the car. He hands back my license and registration and then proceeded: Mr. Hartwell, I am giving you a hell of a deal today. First of all, I am giving you a ticket for speeding. But I am just issuing the citation for 9 miles over the speed limit, and I am just issuing it as a normal speeding ticket. Speeding in a school zone, especially 18 miles over the speed limit, can really do some damage to your insurance. So I am going easy on you because I really believe that it was unintentional. In addition, I have checked the box for wearing your seatbelt, which will give you a $10 discount on your ticket.

I have no idea how much the ticket is. I have to contact the court in "no less than 5 and no more than 14 days" to find out. I would rather just pay it and forget about it.

I guess I should be happy that I got off easy, but I was a little disappointed. I used to go back and forth with Deidra about our driving skills. She heard about my previous driving record, so she would give me a hard time about being a bad driver, saying that she has never received a ticket. In response, I would counter by saying that, even though I received a number of tickets when I was younger, I had not received a ticket since long before she even started driving. Well, so much for that argument! I guess she wins.

Yeah, it's really a hell of a deal.

Stories of note from the Christmas party

Deidra went through the basics of our recent ward Christmas party, but as she has delegated it to me to tell a funny story or two from that night, I don't want to let her down:

1. We sat eating dinner with a couple of other couples from our ward. The conversation eventually came to Christmas and getting presents for your spouse. One particular husband got really excited and smiled from ear to ear as he told about how he had the greatest present that he had purchased for his wife and that she was going to be so surprised and excited when she opened it at Christmas. His wife smiled and nodded in support and seemed genuinely to be anticipating this wonderful present. But when the husband left the table to refill his drink, she turned to us and whispered in a rushed, serious tone: "I found my present the other day. He had left it in the trunk of the car and I accidentally came upon it. So I took it out of the trunk and hid it in a spot where he might think that he had hid it. So I don't even know if he knows where it is right now. I think I saw him searching for it recently. But don't tell him I found it - it would break his heart if he knew I found it." It was so funny! Deidra and I (and the third couple at our table) were chuckling hysterically and had to get our chortles under control before her husband returned to the table.

2. During the Newlywed Game that Deidra was discussing on her blog, the most hilarious moment came when we first asked the wives what their husbands most annoying habit was. One wife responded: "He's going to kill me for saying this, but I would have to say that it is when he clips his toenails and leaves them on the floor." Which is kind of nasty in and of itself. But when we had the husbands return to the room and it came time for them to answer the question, her husband replied: "She would probably say my most annoying habit is leaving things lying around." My response: "Well, kind of . . ." to which there was a little laughter from the audience. His wife was muttering to him: "You're going to kill me when you hear what I said." I was about to tell him specifically what she said when he loudly proclaimed: "Oh, I know what she said! She said it's annoying when I leave my snot rags around everywhere." This elicited a roaring laugh from the audience, as well as from Deidra and me. It took us a while to regain composure. So beware of offering too much information to your friends and peers. Now we know two of his worst habits. Let's hope there's not many more. :-)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Poor Playoff Performance Anxiety

As the fantasy football playoffs are approaching for the WEPCO league, I find myself experiencing a little deja vu. After everything shakes out next week (the last week of our league's regular season), chances are that I will find myself at #2 or #3 (of 12) in the league, which you would think would be a good thing. My problem is finishing off the year in the playoff tournament. Just take a look at how I have done in previous seasons:
  • 2003: Finished regular season #3 (of 13) - Finished tournament #7 (of 8)
  • 2004: Finished regular season #3 (of 18) - Finished tournament #8 (of 8)
  • 2005: Finished regular season #2 (of 8) - Finished tournament #6 (of 8)

So I am a little concerned about the upcoming playoffs. I think I have a good team and should do well, but you never know. I'll keep you posted.

Crappy Feet

Let me just go on the record saying that Happy Feet is one of the worst movies I have seen recently. The animation was amazing and the music and dancing were pretty entertaining, but the movie itself seemed way long and the plot (particularly how it all ended) was absolutely ridiculous and ruined the whole movie.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Diatribe from the pulpit

At church on Sunday, we had a guest speaker (High Councilman) speak to us in sacrament meeting. And I could not believe what was said. Previously in the meeting, the Bishop had told a story about flying this week and the scare when a fire started on a bus near his aircraft. Well, later on in the meeting, when the guest speaker got up to speak, he started off by saying:

"I am grateful for the Bishop's story about the difficulties of flying. I also had difficulties in flying this week. But while the Bishop's problems were with a fire, mine was in dealing with the TSA airport security."

The congregation chuckled a bit at this statement, as most of us have encountered the increased security measures recently. And if this was where the story ended, there would really not even be a story. But whether the speaker felt encouraged because of the congregation's response, or whether he just had some frustration to get off his chest, he decided to continue on this subject. He went off talking about how we still live in a free country and how airports are the only place that you are "checked, checked, checked, and re-checked." He explained situations where he has been traveling and had to go through these security procedures that have caused him to miss his flights. Another good quote:

"I don't see why somebody who is making $5.15 an hour should have the power to control our lives."

And it gets better. He told story of being in a security line where a 90 year-old man ahead of him in line was screened, and his baggage was opened up and searched. He exclaimed sarcastically: "Yeah, that guy sure looked like a terrorist to me!" This was followed a short time later by an African-American priest that was also searched. Again, came the sarcasm: "I'm sure this priest was a terrorist, too!" Then it came time for our story-teller himself, and he also was taken aside for additional screening. He concluded the story by saying:

"Behind me in line were a few passengers that were more ethnically appropriate passengers to be screened, and they passed through the security checkpoint without incident. There is something wrong with that picture."

Are you kidding me? Did he really just say that some passengers are "ethnically appropriate" to be screened? And during an address from the pulpit at church? He literally went off for ten minutes with his views about the airline security procedures. There were plenty of other inappropriate statements, but fortunately I have forgotten them for the most part. And the entire congregation was wondering why he was talking about it and if he was going to have any spiritually-based message at all. Finally, he moved on to the topic he had prepared for the last 5-10 minutes of his talk. But by then it was too late, at least for me. I could not focus on it, and I felt like the Spirit had already been lost. But it sure makes for a good blog entry. I don't know if this retelling even captures the horror, awe, and discomfort of the inappropriateness - maybe you had to be there.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Candid camera

I don't know how they got this video of me and Deidra at Sonic . . .

Friday, November 17, 2006


If this is what Italians have to eat at their wedding, I am glad I am not Italian. I would stay a bachelor for my entire life. We saw this soup on sale and thought we'd buy a couple of cans and give it a try. It was N-A-S-T-Y! The broth is salty, the little balls of pasta are slimy, and the "meatballs" look (and probably taste) like dry dog food that's gotten soggy from being left out in the rain. I feel it my duty to warn the public to stay away from this soup. We're lucky we survived.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lyrics of the Week

If you haven't noticed, I have posted a "Lyric of the Week" at the bottom of my blog, which I will try to keep updated as much as possible. I will use this post as an archive of past lyrics. So here we go:

April 27, 2007:
"Shot through the heart and you're to blame
You give love a bad name."
(Bon Jovi - You Give Love A Bad Name)

April 12, 2007:
"If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
We'd see the day when nobody died
(Nickelback - If Everyone Cared)

March 23, 2007:
"When the mountain is high
Just look up to the sky
Ask God to teach you
Then persevere with a smile."
(Lenny Kravitz - Dig In)

Mar. 7, 2007:
"My baby - she got thirty-two flavors
The first thirty-one are gonna burn your tongue, but the last one makes you crave her."
(Brown Couch - Track Shack)

Feb. 21, 2007:
"I hope those cigarettes are gonna make you cough
I hope you heard this this song and it pissed you off."
(Spin Doctors - Little Miss Can't Be Wrong)

Feb 5, 2007:
"Here we are, now entertain us."
(Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit)

January 17, 2007:
"I love you . . . because you make me sick."
(P.M. Dawn - The Beautiful)

Dec. 21, 2006:
"There has to be a change, I'm sure
Today was just a day fading into another
And that can't be what a life is for"
(Counting Crows - Amy Hit the Atmosphere)

Dec. 10, 2006:
"Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there with open arms and open eyes."
(Incubus - Drive)

Nov. 28, 2006:
"You can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything feels like the movies
You bleed just to know you're alive."
(Goo Goo Dolls - Iris)

Nov. 16, 2006:
"Every new beginning starts with some other beginning's end."
(Semisonic - Closing Time)

Nov. 9, 2006:
"I have all my wisdom teeth
Two up top and two beneath
Yet I recognize
My mouth says things that aren't so wise."
(Crash Test Dummies - The Bereft Man's Song)

Nov. 1, 2006:
"Someday I will work with animals; all the tests I'm going to do
All my stuff's completely natural, and when we're done we'll boil 'em down for glue
That we can use to re-adhere your lips to mine if you were here."
(Barenaked Ladies - Some Fantastic)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Textbook Travails

I am currently taking a couple of online classes at USU as pre-requisites for a Human Resources graduate program. For one of the classes, Deidra and I decided not to but the $150 textbook, but to check it out at the library instead. I can only check it out for three hours at a time, which usually works well for me. I check it out, read the chapter, do the assignment, and then hand the book back in. If I need additional time, I check it out for an additional three hours or come back and check it out another day.

For the first part of the semester, this worked out well. Most of the time i wanted to check out the book, they had it available, though every once in a while it would be checked out by somebody else. But ever since getting back from Boston, I have not been able to secure the book. I tried twice a day for almost two weeks straight. But each time I went in, I was told that the book was unavailable. Finally, about a week ago, one of the library employees told me that they actually have no idea where the book is - whether it is lost or if somebody checked it out and never returned it.

So I finally had to break down and order the book online. I have three assignments that are late, and a test to take next Thursday, so I didn't have many other options. Luckily, I was able to find the book online for only $80. It should be waiting for me when I get off work today, and I will have my nose in it almost constantly for the next week, in order to complete my late assignments and prepare for my test. I don't look forward to spending so much time on my back-logged assignments, but I will sure be glad to get caught up. Who knew that one textbook could cause so much of a hassle?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Irish Twins

(For the record, I will post more about Boston at some point, but until that happens, check out Deidra's blog for the scoop on what went down)

I love this time of year, specifically between October 8 and October 28th. Why, you might ask? Because my older brother, Ryan, and I are what some people refer to as "Irish twins," meaning that we are less than a year apart. Growing up, this time of year would be the time when I would taunt Ryan about how we were the same age and he wasn't older than I was. From my birthday on October 8th until his birthday on October 28th, we were equals ... except for the fact that he was (and still is) bigger than I was and could (and still can) physically beat me into submission if my taunting got too out-of-control.

We were also in the same grade in school, which made for a good portion of sibling rivalry. I remember him coming after me with rage in his eyes and violence in every footstep in elementary school one day when I had started a rumor saying a particular girl liked him, which he soon found to be without merit. I learned quickly not to provoke him like that very often. My parents also learned this lesson early on and made sure we were never in the same class all throughout school. The one exception to this was a P.E. class that we both had to take as sophomores in high school. But there was only one or two brawls between us in that class.

It's funny how different we were from each other then, but how competitive we both were. Ryan was the athlete, playing football and basketball in high school and going on to play college football. So I had to be athletic, too. I also played football in high school (though I use the term play loosely). Mainly I sat on the bench or walked the sidelines, though I did get my share of game time on special teams. There was one game where our kick returner got injured, so I was thrown in frantically to return a kick. I caught the football and began running for my life as the opposing team came charging at me. A teammate's mom later told my mom that she had never seen somebody's legs move so quickly and go such a little distance. I was definitely not the best football player. But I also played tennis in high school, and did a little bit better in that sport.

On the other hand, I was the smart one. What this meant was that any time that Ryan and I both took the same test, had the same assignment, etc. where he got a better grade than me, I heard about it for days, if not weeks. Maybe that's part of what motivated me to get even better grades. Sometimes competition is not such a bad thing.

Ryan and I had different groups of friends in high school and really did not get along all that well, for the most part. I am glad that things change as we grow older. I relish in the accomplishments that Ryan has attained since high school: walking on to the ISU football team and playing at MSU-Northern as well. He has a beautiful wife and gorgeous little girl who is so much fun to play with whenever we get together, which unfortunately is only once or twice a year. I am proud of what he has accomplished. And I know the feeling is mutual. When I released my CD All I Fear, I was in Washington, DC. Ryan was eager to get his own copy and then called me and asked me if I would send him more copies so that he could sell them to his friends in Montana. (Which reminds me, I never did see any money come out of that deal) Anyway, he even posted the lyrics to my song Never Look Back in his football locker for inspiration. It's great to know that even though we're still very different, we've been able to respect each other and our differences. I mean, Irish twin have to look out for each other, you know?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Boston on my birthday

"Well, I've never plucked a rooster and I'm not too good at ping-pong
And I've never thrown my mashed potatoes up against the wall
And I've never kissed a chipmunk and I've never gotten head lice,
And I've never been to Boston in the fall!"
- "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" from Veggie Tales
I've never done most of those things, but I can at least check off going to Boston in the fall now! We made it out of stormy, dreary Utah and into sunny, splendid Boston yesterday evening and are excited for the fun times ahead of us. Today is my 29th birthday, which makes me feel old, since my mom has claimed to be 29 for quite some time now. So now I am somehow as old as my mom, and that's just weird.
We are heading to church here soon, and then possibly heading up north to York, ME, or Ben and Jerry's country in Vermont. The fall foliage is just as amazing as everyone raves about. Flying in to the Providence, R.I. airport, it was pretty awesome seeing all of the different colors all over. It should be a pretty drive this afternoon.
Anyway, we're off to church, so I guess I have to either close this post or take the Noyes' laptop to church, and I really don't think they would appreciate the latter.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Happy Birthday, Stephen!

I remember growing up as the second of four boys. My youngest brother, Stephen, was almost exactly four years younger than me. Of course, being the youngest, he was the one that got teased and picked on the most, but he always had an upbeat, cheery disposition about him and a determination to stand his ground in the face of his older brothers. That determination was probably the biggest advantage of being the youngest. By the time he was old enough to play city league sports like baseball and basketball, he was leaps and bounds above other kids his age because he had learned to play well enough to be competitive with his older siblings.

One story to illustrate this point is told by my mom. When Stephen was 9 years old, he tried out to be on the city's 9-10 year-old All-Star team. Most of the kids, including Stephen, did pretty well fielding and throwing balls in the infield. But nearly all of the kids had trouble catching fly balls in the outfield. Enter Stephen. He loved catching fly balls and would practice catching them all the time. He would often be playing catch with my dad, asking my dad to throw it as high as he could. When it came time for him to catch fly balls in the outfield, he did it with such ease that the coaches were amazed. In fact, at one point, he turned to my mom at the side of field and asked "Should I catch one behind my back?" (a trick also taught to him by my dad) My mom quickly dissuaded him of this idea, not wanting him to rub it in to the other All-Star hopefuls.

My personal favorite sports memory of Stephen was on the basketball court. Again, he was a pretty good basketball player for his age, since he had played against his older brothers (2,4,&5 years older, respectively) for years. I remember him coming down with a rebound on the opposite team's side of the court. He dribbled full-court, through most of the opposing team, and made an easy basket on the other end of the court. As he was jogging back to play defense, he looked at me in the crowd with an air of innocent arrogance and proceeded to give the "2 Legit 2 Quit" hand gestures (yes, this was the early '90s). It made me laugh that he was so cocky at such a young age.

Unfortunately, we will never know what could have happened with those athletic talents, or any other traits or characteristics that made up the heart and soul of Stephen - at least not in this life. He passed away at the tender age of 10, after a car accident landed him in a week-long coma. It's been 15 years since he passed away, and Stephen would have turned 25 years old today. I still think about him all the time and look forward to the day when we will meet again. But until that day comes, I just wanted to say "Happy Birthday, little brother."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Word verification?

Ever notice that when you go to add a comment to somebody's blog, it has a section called "word verification" where you have to type in the letters you see on the screen? Do you find it weird that they call it a "word verification" when it's never really a word? Why don't they call it a "character verification" or "letter verification"? That's my random thought of the day.

No more canning, please!

We're finally done (hopefully) with our first year of canning. It included salsa, tomatoes, chili sauce, apricot jam, apple sauce, and apple pie filling. The final steps came with canning the apple sauce last night, which Deidra did almost single-handedly since I was under time constraints to finish an accounting assigment. I did help with sealing the jars and cleaning up after it was all done, but I am grateful that Deidra took the initiative to get it all done tonight. I don't mind canning, but I think I have had my fill of it for this year. Hopefully, as we use the contents of our canning throughout the year, it will help me get psyched up to do more canning next year. Because right now, I don't want to see another water bath or or Ball jar for a long time to come.

Friday, September 29, 2006

It's General Conference time again!

I look forward to this time of year every six months for a number of reasons:
  • Hearing inspired words of counsel, affirmation, and testimony from living prophets of God.
  • Listening to the music of Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Sleeping in and getting to watch church at home in your PJs
  • The male bonding of attending the Saturday evening priesthood session
  • The fact that you can go out for ice cream after the priesthood session and it's not breaking the sabbath
  • Watching everyone in the group fall asleep one by one during each two hour session, but trying to keep yourself awake and focused (which definitely doesn't always happen)
  • Going home and spending time with family
  • Listening to President Monson trying to pronounce the names of the worldwide General and Area Authorities.
  • Not having to accompany the ward choir for a week (or three, if you happen to be going to Boston the following two weekends)
  • The spiritual boost it gives me for the weeks and months ahead, especially when reading the talks again in the Ensign.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

All I want for Christmas

That's not too much to ask for, is it?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

USU Football (if you can call it that)

I did my undergraduate work at the George Washington University, a school with a great basketball team, but there was no football team at all. I always thought I kind of missed out on the whole idea of braving the chilly Fall weather, packing into the stadium dressed in school colors, and and rooting for your college team as they play some hard-hitting, smashmouth football. So I was looking forward to watching some good, old-fashioned college football when I moved to Logan a year ago.

Last year, I attended three games and Utah State won two of them (probably the only two games they won all year). So I wasn't too disappointed. This year, however, I have lost all desire to even attend a football game now that the team is 0-4, being outscored something like 144-7 total so far this year. And the only touchdown came from the defense. The offense has yet to score any points in four games!!

Maybe it was better that my alma mater didn't have a football team . . .

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Video killed the radio star - My Top 10 Music Videos

Last night, Deidra and I started watching some music videos on YouTube and it totally brought back some great memories from my growing up years. After searching through numerous music videos and trying to rack my brain to remember my favorite music videos from over the years. I thought I would share the list I have come up with so far:

10. Genesis - Land of Confusion

The video is disturbing, but I can't pry my eyes away from the muppet-like caricatures.

9. Ok Go - Here it goes again

Can you really go wrong with synchronized treadmill dancing?

8. Gorillaz - Clint Eastwood

The idea of a band composed completely of cartoon characters? Brilliant!

7. Jamiroqua - Virtual Insanity

Such amazing effects. I think I saw on pop-up video how they did all this stuff. It's pretty crazy.

6. Foo Fighters - Everlong

If you ever wonder what I dream like, just watch this video. I swear it comes straight from my subconscious. And when the drummer sits up from the bed and it turns into his drumset ... possibly my favorite moment in all of music video history.

5. Fatboy Slim - Weapon of Choice

Whoever convinced Christopher Walken to star in this video is a genius! I love his deadpan, serious expression throughout the entire video.

4. Peter Gabriel - Big Time

Claymation at it's best.

3. Michael Jackson - Thriller

About a million Michael Jackson videos could be on this list. He was the king of the "short film" music video. But this one is just classic.

2. Coldplay - The Scientist

Probably the most heart-wrenching video I have ever seen. And the whole thing running backwards just makes it all the more intriguing.

1. A-ha - Take On Me

The first video I ever saw that I just wanted to watch over and over again. Too bad I had to watch hours of MTV in order to see it again ... what a wasted youth. If only YouTube existed back then.

What were/are some of your favorite music videos?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Chris's Favorite Lyrics #1

I am a musician and I also like listening to music. I particularly like clever and/or thoughtful lyrics, so I have a number of lyrics that make me smile, think, etc., that I thought it would be fun to share. And I am sure I will have similar posts in the future as old lyrics are remembered and new lyrics catch my attention. As for now, here is list #1:

"I'll never achieve greatness while I worship all this emptiness." - Adam Richman

"The only way I know to get to my goal is to sacrifice my psyche for the sake of my soul." - Seth Horan

"And I could forget the words here one more time and hope that no one notices." - The Refreshments

That's it for now. More to follow . . .

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Numero Uno!

That's right. After week #1 of fantasy football, it looks like ChrisHartwellDotCom is on top of the league standings with the highest point total. I played Chod, and he suggested that we make a friendly wager on the game. The loser had to change his avatar (i.e. online persona/team mascot) into a girl. I must say, Chod looks good with pink hair, makeup, and in a cheerleading skirt ... Actually, seeing Chod in that kind of get-up would probably scar me for life. But at least his avatar looks good.

Next week, it's a full-on war as Deidra and I (both 1-0) are on opposing sides of the turf. Anything you want to wager, my dear?

Short Days

It's kind of sad when I am looking forward to Tuesdays and Thursdays, which I refer to as my "short days." The name is something of a misnomer, however. You see, on M,W,F I work from 6am until at least 4pm without a lunch - a total of at least 10 hours per day. So on T & Th, when I work from 6am until 2pm without a lunch, I think that I am getting a break when, actually, I am still working an 8-hour day. And on top of that, after my "short day" at work, I will be running to the USU library and do the reading/assignments for my classes until Deidra gets off work at 5pm. And then I get to go home. So I actually get home later on my short days then I do on my long days. But somehow the thought of a "short day" makes it easier to bear, so I just let myself believe that's what it is.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 ... A Look Back

This day always brings back a lot of memories and emotions. I still remember it like it was yesterday and it will always be a defining moment in my life. I found this email that I sent the day after 9/11 and I think it captures my anxiety and uncertainty during that time:

I am doing as well as can be expected considering the
events that have occurred. It was very chaotic here
in DC, which I am sure was nothing compared to NY. I
went up to the roof of my building yesterday and could
see the Pentagon burning only a couple of mile away.
School was cancelled and the city basically shutdown.
The skies were eerily quiet minus the fighter jets and
helicopters every so often. Armed military officers
still are posted on every few block throughout the

I was moved to write yesterday. The mood here was
very somber and gloomy. I sat in front of the TV for
fourteen hours with a pen and paper in hand and these
were the only words I could find to write:

The tears of a nation collectively fall
Through the smoke, through the dust, and debris
That has clouded a once thought invincible land
And has forced us to fall to our knees

But the hearts of the people aren't broken
The voice of this nation is strong
United American spirit will carry us on

My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with all the
victims and families and everyone throughout the world
who was affected by this tragedy. I am grateful for
the blessing of life and I know my life will never be
the same.

Friday, September 08, 2006

All apologies

So, I haven't been the best blogger recently. I apologize to all of those who depend on my wit and charm (or stories of stupidity) for entertainment. By way of explanation, I offer the following excuses:

1. School is back in session - That means being to work at 6am every day and keeping busy until I leave in the afternoon. Even as I type this, I am about a week behind in the work I am supposed to be accomplishing. Hopefully, eventually, I will get caught up.

2. School is back in session - This time, I mean my own classes. Taking two online courses this semester takes up a lot of the time on the days I get to leave work early and, true to the form of my previous college career, I am already behind in my schoolwork there.

3. I have been sick - As evident from Deidra's latest post, I have not been feeling to well as of late. In addition to the monster migraine, I am also battling a head cold, which makes me want to just take life easy when I get home from work. Thus, I haven't been actively blogging in the evening.

So my apologies that you have not gotten to hear all about the fun I had at the Wilkin's Family Reunion, or about the rockin' awesome mullet-man I have befriend as I have learned a little bit more about geocaching, or about traveling to SLC in the late night hours to be with Deidra's grandfather as he he was life lighted to the UofU hospital with severe burns. So it's not that life hasn't been interesting, I just haven't had the time to share it with you all.

Today is a surprisingly mellow Friday at work, so I am going to try to get a lot of actual work done. And if I have time (or get bored), I might actually pick one of those subjects and expound. So stay tuned!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Stay in school!

And I am not talking to the students, either. I am in charge of arranging substitutes for two school districts and today was a mad house! Granted, it is the Friday before a three-day weekend, but it's also the first full week of school. I would think that teachers would want to get their class acclimated for a couple of weeks before having to bring in a substitute, but apparently I am mistaken. In the school districts we service, we had a total of just over 100 absence for this week last year. This year, the number has reached well over 300! I shouldn't be complaining, because that equals more money for our company, which will probably equal more money in my pocket via bonuses, but it still boggles my mind. Maybe they need to get celebrities and sports icons to run a "stay in school" campaign for teachers like they did for students back when I was growing up.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Temples and rock walls

Today, in priesthood meeting, we had a lesson from President Kidd, former president of the Logan Temple. He talked to us about the importance of temples and it was a very enlightening meeting. One of the things he mentioned was that the temple helps us to remember an eternal perspective and appreciate our spouse (especially when we attend the temple as couples).The following experience from this past weekend illustrates that point:

As part of this past weekend, Deidra and I went to an early session at the Timpanogos temple on Saturday. It was a great session, the temple was beautiful, and it just set a good tone for the rest of the day, which was a good thing. Later on that afternoon, I was backing out of my aunt's driveway (where we had stayed the night). Their home is on a hill and we were parked in such a way that we had to turn pretty sharply to back into the street. Well, I didn't quite turn sharply enough and, while I thought we were still completely on their driveway, I soon found out that I had turned a little too widely and, as a result, I backed over a small rock wall that they had at the end of their lawn. Luckily, it didn't do much damage to Nelly (our car) and we were able to kind of put the wall back together. But I still felt pretty stupid about it and I knew that Deidra would probably be really annoyed with me. But she just laughed at me and kind of shook it off. A little bit later, I asked her why she wasn't upset or annoyed at me and she said, "I think it's because we went to the temple today and it makes me realize that I love you and that some things aren't worth getting upset about." So I very much appreciated her for that attitude in helping me dismiss something that could have very easily been a source of contention. I told her that we should go to the temple every day, but perhaps that's not so much of a reasonable goal. Anyway, I am grateful for the temple for what it teaches and the spirit that it can bring into our lives if we are open to it. And I am grateful for my wife and for everything she teaches me and the spirit she brings into our home.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

And in other news ...

Here's an article from Meridian Magazine about the LDS Music Fest that I am playing in this weekend:

If anyone is in the Provo/American Fork area, come on out to the show. It is free and should be a lot of fun.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you all . . . I'm famous!

An interview that I did a year or two ago for a newspaper in Washington, DC, finally got printed last Friday. You can find the link here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

One year down, eternity minus one to go ...

So, the other day, I wrote quite the amazing blog about the happenings of last weekend. As I was getting almost done wrapping up the Sunday happenings – believe me, it was quite long – Deidra came in the room and, while trying to push the computer plug further into the wall (I guess she was afraid it was going fall out), she actually lost the connection and the computer shut down. That’s right, folks, the entire blog GONE as I stared into the dark black monitor in disbelief. I somehow managed not to say any curse words … at least not out loud … well, at least not the whole word. I was more like “What the he…where the … it’s gone … shhhhhaaaaaaaaaafffffffeeeeeggggrrraaaaahhhhddddaaaaaarrrr.” Deidra apologized profusely, but I almost had to hang up my blogging shoes right there. Luckily, I bounce back easily and I am ready to give it another go. So here goes …

Friday night was our one-year anniversary and it turned out pretty well. You can go to Deidra’s blog to learn more about it, if you would like. We spent the rest of the weekend spending time with friends and family.

Saturday morning we woke up early and got out the door a little after 7am to travel to Burley so that I could take part in a little paintball action at 9. It was a lot of fun and, for once, I came away without any welts – probably because Karisa wasn’t there shooting me at point blank range (don’t worry, I was shooting back). But I do feel sorry for the guy that walked right past me while I was lying low in the brush. I pegged him a couple of good time right in the arse from fairly close range before he even knew what was going on. Sorry Kenny! Anyway, it is the same place we will be paintballing for the family reunion over Labor Day, so now I have a clear vision of it and can start strategizing my battle plans.

While we were paintballing, Deidra and her mom went shopping and, upon passing a yard sale, decided to buy a gun case for $4. When we got a call that we need to pick up the gun case on our way home (since we had the bigger vehicle), I was more than a little confused. A gun case?!? We don’t even own any guns! Turns out that it was a rather tall and slender wooden case that Deidra envision putting shelves in and turning into a hutch/display case.

So we picked up the case and then headed into Burley, where both Warren (the father-in-law) and I got haircuts from Deidra’s aunt. Then it was home to the Parish house, where we ate lunch. Warren and I had a little corn on the cob eat-off, and while end supposedly ended in a tie, I hold to the fact that I had a few bites from an additional ear of corn and thus I should be crowned champion.

After lunch, we hitched up the boat and went down to the river, Deidra’s favorite place to go during the summer. She water skied a couple of time and did really well. I tried to get some good pictures/video of her during her last run, but they were on Tameka’s camera, so who knows if we’ll ever see what actually came of it. I got in the water for my usual wakeboard fiasco, but at least I actually got up a couple of times for long enough to look around and think, “Hey, I made it up! I’m pretty much a professional.” This thought was usually followed by a loud splash as I forcefully found the river with my face.

Then Deidra and I traveled to the Hartwell home and spent some time chatting with my parents. Upon finding that they had already eaten, I promptly bummed some money from my old man (since I never carry cash these days) and we went back to Burley to find some dinner at the Cassia County Fair and Rodeo. (More information on dinner can also be found at Deidra’s blog … mmm, pizza and an Italian sub.) The rest of the night was spent cruising the fair and running into every person Deidra has ever known … or so it seemed. By the end of the night I was admittedly a little ornery, tired, and ready to go home and go to bed.

The following day (Sunday), Deidra’s “good friend” (a.k.a. old boyfriend) got home from his mission, so we went to listen to him speak at church. Then we went to a different church to hear a couple of her other friends speak and perform a musical number. After that, we went to a luncheon at the home of her “good friend,” where we chatted it up with all of her high school friends. Not awkward at all, right? J Actually, it wasn’t that bad – I like her friends and they at least pretend to like me, so it all works out.

Then it was back to the Hartwell abode where we met up with my parents, younger brother, Aunt Judy and Uncle Denny, and my dad’s cousin, Mary Lynn. We drove out to Elba, where some of my ancestors settled for a while. We saw their old home (erected in 1901) and spent some time talking to the cute older couple who own it and are restoring it. They knew a lot about the history of the home and of the area. My great great grandfather (Thomas Taylor) was the first bishop in Elba and his son was the first bishop of the neighboring town, Almo. If I ever get a chance, I’ll have to add some pictures in their own little post when I have more time.

We made a brief stop after that to visit another of Deidra’s friends that lives in Elba, and then it was back home to Logan to get ready for another week of work. So there you have it, the second draft of what we did last weekend. If it sucks, you can blame Deidra, since it’s her fault that the first draft was lost.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Miracle of Scout Camp

I taught the lesson in priesthood last Sunday. The topic was "Living by Faith." As I was preparing for the lesson, I was impressed to read through one of my old journals, where I found a story of faith that I had since forgotten. I shared it in that meeting, and I also wanted to share it here, just to illustrate how faith can have an impact in our lives, and the lives of those around us.

As a little background, this experience took place when I lived in Washington, DC, and was over the young men (ages 12-18) in our congregation. This is taken directly out of my journal:

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I am here at Scout Camp in the woods of Maryland - Broad Creek Camp, about an hour north of Baltimore. When we (the Capitol Hill Branch) were integrated into the Suitland MD Stake, we found out that Scout Camp was coming up on only a few short weeks. So we did quite a bit of planning and were planning on having three Young Men come out here to camp. Well, as time for Scout Camp neared, all three boys developed excuses and/or conflicts that they used to say they couldn't go to Scout Camp. President Degn [our Branch President] and I talked to the their respective parents and re-committed them all to come again. The day before Scout Camp (Sun. June 27), two of the young men called to say they could not attend camp. At this point, I was ready to throw my hands up and wash them clean of the mess, having done all in my power to encourage them to come. But, in talking to my roommate, I felt a strong impression that Scout Camp would be a valuable learning experience and a good memory for them. I came to realize that Satan didn't want them to go. I called President Degn, and he tried to get in touch with the boys and their parents. When that ended in lukewarm reception, I decided that I would stop by each boy's place anyway to see if they were ready - at 4am on Monday morning! I prayed a lot about it Sunday night, called my parents and asked for their prayers, and received a blessing from my roommates. The Lord certainly worked a miracle, as all three boys were up and ready to go to camp Monday morning at 4am.

(P.S. If I ever find the picture of our scout camp "troop," I will be sure to scan it in and add it to this post)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fantasy Football - last call!

Today is the last day to sign up for fantasy football with the awe-inspiring, and mediocrely-competitive WEPCO Yahoo! Fantasy Football league. So far it looks like Nikkala, Chod, Deidra, Whit, Jeff/Jolyn, myself, and two of my friends (Aaron and Jeremy). It should be lots of fun. Instructions on joining the league are found at my previous fantasy football post (scroll down to the bottom). That is all.

Sometimes biking to work sucks!

I've been meaning to make this post since the fated bike ride incident occurred yesterday morning. I was running a little late for work and, even though my wife offered to drive me to work and drop me off, I thought I still had enough time to make it to work. Besides, if I was a few minutes late, I should still be okay.

I began the journey like I normally do, though maybe pedaling a little bit faster than usual. As I got to the hill that I usually climb during my morning bike ride I saw an orange construction barrier that said "This road closed to pedestrian traffic." I knew the city had been working on the road at the top of the hill, but I chose not to heed the sign (I mean, technically, I am not pedestrian traffic, right?) and began my ascent up the paved path.

Because I was still running late, I stood up off of the seat and pedaled hard the entire way up the path. As I neared the triumphal apex of the miniature mountain I was scaling, I saw only one piece of heavy machinery rising on the horizon, and it was working well down the road from where I was. Good, I thought, they're working on a different part of the road. I should have no problem crossing through. Boy, was I wrong. As the road itself came into view on the horizon, I noticed a row of dirt probably five or six feet high that ran along the entire length of the road and left me nowhere to go and no way to cross. It reminded me of the huge mound of earth that Moroni and his people built around their city so that they could not be attacked ( see Alma 49).

Being extremely disheartened and exhausted from my hard work of getting up the hill, I turned around and went back down the same hill I had climbed with such determination. At the bottom of the hill, I dismounted my bike and walked it up the dugway (an even steeper and narrower hill, with the additional obstacle of automobile traffic) since there was no way I was going to make it up that hill riding my bike.

By the time I made it to the top of the hill, I was panting and sweating, and already late to work. I mounted my bike once again and rode the rest of the way to work as quickly as I could. I arrived about ten minutes late, with my first appointment already there waiting for me. Thankfully, I had called ahead and let the office know I was going to be late, so they had informed my appointment and he was in no particular hurry.

I stashed my bike in the back room and went into the restroom. My head was dripping with sweat and my mouth was filled with that bitter, thick saliva that you get when you go a little too hard working out, playing basketball, running, or biking. It was nasty! After cleaning myself off, cooling myself down, making my self presentable, and drinking a glass of water, I was able to resume the rest of my day. But, oh, how I wish I would have taken my wife up on the offer of giving me a ride. It would definitely have made my morning commute much less of a hassle.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mouse update

Since the last "mouse" post, we purchased a couple of traps and got one set up where we saw the mouse before. Since it had never tripped and we hadn't seen the mouse (or any signs of the mouse) for a few days, we thought maybe it had moved on to brighter pastures . . . until Sunday. As we were sitting down for breakfast, I was taking toast out of the toaster when I saw the mouse dart out from under the refrigerator and quickly scurry around the wall into the front room. And from there it got out of sight quickly.

I went online to learn more about trapping mice and then reset the two traps with new bait - one with peanut butter and one with the cotton end of a Q-tip dipped in vanilla. Apparantly mice are just as attracted to possible nesting material as they are to food - that was news to me. Both are now set perpendicular to the wall.

And there we have it. I would like to get a few more traps bought and set up if we don't catch him soon. More information as it happens . . .

Real vs. Real

On Saturday, Deidra and I drove to Salt Lake City, where we were volunteering to work at the biggest Real soccer game of the year, Real Salt Lake vs. Real Madrid. On our way down, Deidra submitted to my desire to stop at the Guitar Center in Roy. I have this dream of building my own recording studio, so I love to go there and check out speakers, amps, mixers, software, keyboards, percussion instruments, microphones, and so on. Even though I know I can't afford anything there, it gives me ideas of what I could do in that always off in the distance "someday" - you know, the one where somehow you have all the money you need to do anything you want.

After that, we proceeded to Salt Lake, arriving a couple of hours before we were scheduled to start working. So Deidra suggested visiting the new Salt Lake City Public Library, which was awarded the honor of the Library Journal's Best Library for 2006, a title that I think is well-deserved. The architecture is really cool - kind of a sleek/modern feel to it. They have shops lining the outside of the library, amazing art, sculptures, waterfalls, and quotes almost everywhere you turn, and the actual library itself it huge. Deidra and I like to go to the Logan Public Library and check out DVDs. It's free and convenient, but the drawback is that there are a limited number of titles to choose from. The Salt Lake library, on the other hand, has shelves full of tons of DVDs. I don't know why anyone would go to a video store in Salt Lake. I think you could find almost any movie you were looking for right there at the public library ... except maybe the newest releases, and that's what RedBox is for.

Finally, we made our way to the Olympic stadium (aka University of Utah stadium - aka Salt Lake Real stadium) and found a place to park about two blocks away. We walked to the stadium and arrived about 30 minutes before we were even scheduled to be there. But they put us to work right away. The first thing that we did was blow up these inflatable play areas for the kids. One was a bouncy house and the other was a huge soccer goal where the kids could kick balls and tray to get it into one of the holes at the end of the goal. Then we were stationed with two others at gate D (the main entry into the stadium) to hand out free "souvenir" tickets to the crowd as they came in the door. We had a whole box full of them, and I thought they would take forever to give out. But we actually completed the box within about 30-45 minutes, whereupon we returned to the workers' base station, thinking that we were done. Unfortunately, since it was still about an hour until game time, our supervisor made us go back to the gate with a small number of additional souvenir tickets to hand out. When those were done, she showed up at the gate with even more tickets that she had taken from the volunteers manning the other gates, since they were not as busy as our gate was. We made quick work of those and returned to the base station, thankfully seeing other volunteers that were also done.

They had dinner waiting for us - burritos and chips from Bajio, and cake from Sams Club. The burritos were huge and surpisingly good, considering that they had been sitting out for a while and were only slightly warm. We took our dinner down to tables behind glass panels that looked out onto the field. We were directly behind the south goal of the stadium, right between both lockers rooms. So we saw the players up close and personal, both on the field and as they entered and exited their locker rooms. This included arguably the most famous soccer player in the world, David Beckham, who plays for Real Madrid.

We got to watch most of the game, only having to spend one 20-minute shift overseeing the inflatable play areas at the beginning of the second half. David Beckham did not get into the game until the second half and it was so awesome to watch a million camera flashes in the crowd go off every time he kicked the ball, especially corner kicks. I guess he's quite the celebrity. We also found out after the game that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were in attendance, as they are good friends of Beckham's. Of course, that fact that they were there at all was kept under wraps until after they had left the stadium.

After the game, we took down all of the inflatable play areas and went onto the field to take down all of the advertisements that surround the field. Finally, we left the stadium at about midnight and drove back to Logan. Deidra didn't last too long before falling asleep and I just listened to the final disk of The Silver Chair (one of the Chronicles of Narnia) on CD on the drive home. We arrived home and got to bed at about 2am. Luckily, we don't have church until 1pm, so we got a good night's rest despite our late retirement.

All in all, it was a really fun experience and I am glad Deidra was there to share it with me. She made it even more fun and enjoyable. You can check out her blog for more information about the game, as well as pictures (including Beckham with his shirt off), when she gets her post completed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Rockin' the Cache County Fair

Last night, I participated in the Farm Bureau Talent Competition at the Cache County Fair and Rodeo. We arrived at the gate a little before 6pm and the security guard called for a Mule to help us pack our stuff. So we unloaded my keyboard, the stand, the stool, and the briefcase containing cords and CDs from the car and proceeded to wait around for about 10 minutes before Deidra decided that she would go park the car while I was waiting. Well, 10 minutes later, she comes back and I am still waiting for the stupid little Mule. So we decided just to pack it all to the stage instead of waiting longer. So I grab the long, awkward, heavy, expensive keyboard in one hand and the stool in the other. Deidra grabs the metal keyboard stand, which is also extremely awkward to carry for any extended amount of time, and the briefcase. We walk down a ways until we find the stage and we set all of the stuff on the ground and take a deep breath.

After searching for a while, I finally find the person I need to check in with and then I search out the stage manager to know what I need to do with all of my gear. Upon seeing my keyboard and other items, he says "Well, if you want, you can just use the Clavinova digital piano that is already up on stage." Piece of crap! You mean Deidra and I just lugged our heavy gear halfway across the fairgrounds when we didn't even need to bring it in the first place? I'm glad nobody made me aware of that when I registered for the competition over the phone. Deidra and I decided that we would stash the gear backstage anyway, since we didn't feel like lugging it all back to the entrance again right then.

After we go that taken care of, we sat down on the grass to enjoy the program. I was told that I was in the "Senior" division, and they were starting it off with the "Beginners." Well, actually, they had a couple of little high school punk bands that were performing as we first arrived. There's nothing like hearing little punks with cracking voices trying to muddle through Alice in Chains' "Man in a Box," which just happens to be one helluva long song anyway.

Anyway, they started with the Beginner division and it was a bunch of probably 3-6 year olds hula dancing, singing, and clogging. At this point, I started thinking: Maybe this is just for kids and I'm going to be the one old man competing against high schoolers. People will think to themselves 'Who is this lame-o old guy?' After the Beginners, they moved on to the Intermediate group, which looked to be about 7-12 year olds. At about this time, Deidra's cousin, Whitney, showed up to offer support as well. (Which, by the way, means that it's possible that you'll get three different blog versions of this experience.) After that group, they began the Advanced group, which were high school-aged competitors. As this group of performers started, they asked for the Senior division to meet backstage to get us all ready for our turn. I was still a little nervous about being the lame-o old man, so I kind of sheepishly went backstage to check out my competition. When I got there, I saw what I thought could be a young adult woman with a pretty formal black gown on, and soon realized she was a performer in my division. She still looked fairly young, but as soon as I saw a wedding ring on her finger I realized that if she was married, she was most likely a full-blown, out-of-high-school adult. My fears subsided and I prepared for my five minutes of stage time. There were only a total of four people in the Senior division (two ladies singing, one lady singing/playing piano, and myself) and I was the second to perform. I performed my song "Keep Me Down," and I thought it went pretty well, though the competition was stiff! All three ladies had beautiful voices and I was impressed with everyone’s performances.

When the judges had tallied their votes, the awards were handed out. They began with the younger children and I soon realized that there was a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place award. Oh Great! I thought. I am going to be the one loser* that doesn't even get an award in my division. But instead, I was awarded 2nd place (which I was happy about) and I got a nice ol' red ribbon and $30. Not a bad payday for singing one song ... even if we did have to pack all of my gear unnecessarily. Combine that with the $75 that I made last week at my Raspberry Days Festival performance at Bear Lake, and I think my music career is really starting to rake in the dough! (Looks like I may not need any chickens after all, Warren.) Maybe I should quit my day job. I think we could make a living on $100/month, couldn't we, Deid?

* No offense to the young lady who didn't win a ribbon in our division or any other performers who were shut out in their respective divisions.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Melon update - one week later

Look at this mammoth! Ok, so it's only the size of a small cantaloupe, but it's certainly grown in the last week. Wouldn't you agree? I counted about five melons that are growing now, but this is by far the largest. I pulled off a number of the flowers that could have started new melons, because I want to make sure that the plant puts its energies into the melons that are already there. Deidra thinks I'm a little bit obsessive about this little guy, because I take a new picture of it on my phone every time we go to the garden (every two days). Maybe when it's all grown up, I will have to put together a little slide show for you all. Until then, you'll still probably get weekly updates from me, because ... well, because I am boring and this is the most interesting thing I have to talk about right now. Pretty sad, huh?

P.S. Maybe the melon needs a name. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Not a creature was stirring ... well, maybe a mouse

As I was getting lunches ready for work today, I saw a flurry of movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head just in time to see a little mouse scurry behind our washer and dryer. It kind of startled me for a bit, and when I told Deidra, she definitely got a little freaked out. Why are people afraid of mice? They're just these tiny little furry rodents about 1% the size of humans. Is it because they supposedly carry all these diseases? Or because they move so dang fast? I'm not quite sure what it is, but one thing is for sure - we're gonna get that mouse. I will keep you posted on the mouse hunt and maybe post pictures, though - then again - pictures might not be the best idea.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Let the looooooong days begin!

It's 5pm, and I am here at my desk for another hour and a half or two hours, even having arrived at work at 8am. But I guess I should get used to it, because this is merely the tip of the iceberg. When the schools start up again (in just over two weeks), I will be arriving at work at 6am every day and staying until 4pm for three out of the five days of the work week. Luckily, I will get off at 2pm on Tuesday and Thursday, but I might be taking a class at USU starting at 3pm on those days. Hopefully I will survive. I have been given strict orders to let my boss know if I start getting burnt out, and I have also been told that any time I work over 40 hours each week I can use as comp. time in the summer. So that part of it should be nice. I figure I could pretty much take a whole month off next summer, if not more.

And, for those farmers out there ... I know you work a lot more hours than that during the planting and harvesting seasons, so I feel for you. At least I am in an air conditioned office, right? I'll count my blessings.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Fantasy Football is starting soon!

Since a number of people who read this blog are involved in my fantasy football league this year (and anyone who does not have a team and wants to join, feel free to do so!), and most of the teams have not listed an email address, I figure this is the best venue to post some information. I created the following post on our league homepage, but I will paste it here as well:

We have eight teams now, and if no one else posts or emails me letting me know that they are not ready, I will list our league ready to draft by August 15th. Technically we have until Sept. 9th, but I would prefer to get an early start. As with last year, we will be doing the draft offline and the order will be chosen by the computer at random, unless anyone else has any input on it. We could do the draft in the order that people signed up, or we could do the draft in the order that teams placed last year, with the newly added teams at the bottom of the draft order. Just let me know if any of you have any thoughts on the subject. Otherwise, here is how is stands: The league will be locked on August 15th for an offline draft in random order. Good luck everyone!

PS If anyone else would like to join, the league ID# is 57453 and the password is roxor. It is a Yahoo! Fantasy Football league. You've only got until August 15th, so don't delay.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

My little baby melon

I was delighted upon returning from Montana to see a few little melons in our garden. I have been told from the beginning that trying to grow melons would probably not yield any results, but things look good so far. The biggest melon was about golf ball size when we returned and is now about the size of a large apricot or plum. Here's a picture from my camera phone. I'll keep you posted as it continues to grow.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

If you want her, you can Havre!

What a long and tiring weekend. I'm almost too drained to type this post, but I feel like I owe it to my friends, fans, and family. So here goes! Get ready for the longest post ever about the longest trip ever.

I left work a little after noon on Friday and biked home, knowing that the long drive to Havre, MT, lay ahead of me that weekend. My older brother, after two year of cohabitating and an 18-month old daughter (the cutest little girl known to man, of course) was finally tying the proverbial knot with his long-time fiance. Not only was it a twelve hour drive each way, but Deidra and I were traveling up to Havre with my 26-year old younger brother in tow. Thankfully, we stocked up on Books on CD at the Logan Library - it turned out to be a great investment. We finished Book 5 and half of Book 6 of The Chronicles of Narnia on our journey, which certainly helped the time go by.

We left Logan a little before 1:00pm. My brother fell asleep in the back nearly instantly, only to awake about 20 minutes later and ask if we were halfway there yet. Not only were we not halfway there yet, but we weren't halfway to being halfway to being halfway there yet! I guess he thought he napped for a little longer than he actually did. Three hours later, we stopped in Dubois, ID, for gas and then back on the road. There wasn't much to see in Dubois anyway.

At about 7pm, we took the Logan (MT) exit, hoping to find the home of Deidra's high school friend's mom, where we were staying the night. We knew we were on the right track when there was a list posted of residents directly after we exited. P. Frelier - 4.6 was one of the listings. After those 4.6 miles, we came upon Eileen's home, and what a magnificent site it was. Out in the country, nestled between buttes and ridges and overlooking the Missouri river was a very spacious, comfortable, and inviting home, where the weary travelers were taken in, fed, and sent to bed for a good night's sleep (once the heat subsided a little bit).

The next morning, we went with Eileen to Three Forks, MT, where we partook of the Lion's Club breakfast and took a 20-minute tour of the entire town. It was very quaint and had quite a relaxing atmosphere. Afterward, we got back in the car for the second leg of our journey. We twisted through mountain passes to Helena and Great Falls, and then turned on to the most boring stretch of highway ever invented ... of course this would be the road that led to Havre. I don't know why I expected much else.

Upon arriving at Havre, we were told to travel all the way through town to the hotel where my parents had booked us a room. After 20 blocks and passing 14 casinos, we were in the parking lot of the Best Western, feeling a little bit out of place already. We got in our room and laid down for a while before getting right back up to change into our reception clothes and trudge across the street for the reception. (Note: My brother and his wife actually got married a couple of weeks ago in the Bahamas and were having their reception in Havre.) We arrived at 5pm and took all sorts of pictures, and then sat at our table, awaiting the dinner that was to be served at 6pm. Well, 6pm came and went with many tables still being empty and I overheard the groom say to the bride, "Yeah, I may have told some people 6:30." People continue trickling in and by 6:30, the tables are beginning to fill and most people at most tables (my family's table excluded) were purchasing drinks at the bar. 7:00 comes and we have still yet to be served. I guess it doesn't matter much when you're getting liquored up, but without that luxury, I was getting pretty hungry. Finally, my brother announces that dinner will be served ... after the toasts. Luckily they were fairly short and painless and we moseyed up to the smorgasbord for fried shrimp, fried ravioli, salad, pigs-in-a-blanket, pizza, vegetables, peas and potatoes, brisket and all sorts of other randomness. But it certainly filled the belly. We were stuck there until after the first dance, where the groom dances with his mom (We hand to lend moral support to my mom) and then we got the heck out of there and went back to our hotel.

I didn't feel well that night and I tossed and turned in bed until I got up and tried sleeping on the quintessential uncomfortable corner stuffed hotel chair. After that unsuccessful attempt, I promptly went into the bathroom and proceed to relive the eating of fried shrimp, fried ravioli, salad, pigs-in-a-blanket, pizza, vegetables, peas and potatoes, brisket and all sorts of other randomness in reverse motion. Not pleasant. From there, I sat against the hotel wall, wrapped in a blanket with my piercing side throbbing consistently. The next thing I know, Deidra wakes me up at 7ish as I am sleeping on the hotel floor.

I was feeling better, and we went down to get breakfast from the hotel, where we also stole a couple of bagels for our lunch. My younger brother had returned home that morning with my parents, so it was just Deidra and I for the drive home. We attended the LDS sacrament meeting there in Havre and then got on the road a little before 11am. We didn't know how far we wanted to travel that day, but I think we both knew that we wanted this trip to be over with ASAP. So we actually made it all the way to Idaho Falls, where we stayed the night at the Hillman Bed and Breakfast. The pancakes really are amazing. It was great to spend time with Brent, Karisa, and Hudson. Chod, Nikkala, and Bentley even came and visited, too.

We finally arrived home Monday evening and picked our garden's produce. (Thanks, Whit, for pillaging as much as you could while we were gone. You do good work.) And, to my surprise, I found that I have a baby watermelon about the size of a golf ball beginning to grow. Woohoo!

Anyway, I am glad to be back in Logan. There's nothing like spending 24 hours in a car to make you appreciate getting out of it once your home. I'm glad Deidra is my wife because she made the journey enjoyable (when she wasn't asleep). Even though she doesn't particularly like long road trips, she is an enjoyable companion to have on one. And if we ever go to Havre again ... it will be by plane.

P.S. If this post almost put you to sleep, then you know what we went through this trip.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Reservoir Dogs

This weekend, the whole Parish clan (minus the notable exception of Tameka) congregated upon the American Falls Reservoir, where Brent and Karisa took us out on their boat. Despite the 100+ degree weather and the overwhelming amount of algae trying to overtake the water, we had a very enjoyable time wake boarding, tubing, skiing (even grandma!), and swimming. We began around 3pm and went practically until the sun went down. I wanted to share a couple personal highlights from the day, and then cruise on over to Deidra's blog to catch even more pictures and highlights.

If at first you don't succeed . . . I finally got up on the wakeboard, after three other unsuccessful boating trips. I guess miracles really do happen. Granted, it was only for about 7 seconds, but at least it's progress!

Here are a few pictures from the tube. Finally, something I don't have to stand up on do ride. :) As you can see from the pictures, Brent tried and tried to oust me from from the tube, but I was invincible sitting in that inflatable little donut. I think I might have a future in the ultra-lucrative Professional Tubing League. At least, a much better future than wakeboarding - that much is certain. Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 24, 2006

So you think you can dance?

My nephew, Hudson, sure thought he could this weekend. We had a good time dancing until Aunt Deidra joined in. I don't think he's quite ready for her dance moves. :-)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Corner Market

Nikkala's last post of "bad chocolate" brought to mind the market on the corner of 3rd & F Streets NW in Washington, DC - a block away from my old apartment. How great to have a market less than a block away, right? That's what I thought when I moved in. I would go there to get paper plates, charcoal briquettes, or other last-minute items whenever I would have company over. My mistake came when I tried to actually purchase edible items there. One day, I felt like a little chocolate, so I purchased a CRUNCH bar from the corner market. Upon opening the candy bar when I got home, I noted that the chocolate was a mucher lighter hue than I remember from my previous experience with CRUNCH bars. I took a bite and was immediately sorry that I had done so. It was n..a..s..t..y! I looked on the wrapper for an expiration date, but apparently they don't print expiration dates on chocolate bars ... at least not that one. But what I did find was information about an instant winner contest that you could participate in by looking under the wrapper. Well, I didn't win anything, but as I looked closer at the rules for the game, I reallized that the contest expired over three years before I bought the candy bar . . . THREE YEARS!!! That means that the candy bar that I bought from the corner market was at least that old, if not older. I vowed then and there not to shop at the corner market anymore. And for a while, I held to my guns.

A while later, I woke up on a Saturday morning to the grumbling of my stomach. Upon checking the cabinets, I realized that I didn't have any cold cereal left. Thoughts of my previous experience at the corner market flashed through my mind and I thought: Do I dare take the chance of buying food there again? After debating it in my head, I decided that it would be a safe purchase. I mean, as long as I check the expiration date, I should be ok, right? I soon learned how wrong I was. I walked down to the market and bought a box of Honey Bunches of Oats with an expiration date well into the future. Feeling excited for my new purchase, I quickly returned home and got a bowl, spoon, and a jog of milk on the table. I opened the box of cereal and tipped it to pour into the bowl. But only a few flakes fell into the bowl. I shook the bowl, thinking that maybe they were just stuck. All of a sudden a clump of flakes fell into the bowl, wrapped together in some kind of webbing, though I wasn't about to find out if the web creator was still in the box. I quickly poured all the flakes back into the bowl a promptly threw the box of cereal in our outside garbage. I was so upset that I wrote an email to the cereal company (I believe it was General Mills, but I don't remember) explaining the disgusting situation. They very promptly returned my email and asked me to fill out a form describing the incident, the expiration date and UPC code of the bow (which I had luckily kept), and the store where it was purchased. They sent me four coupons for a free box of cereal, which I thought was fair enough. But you can bet that I stayed away from the corner market from then on.


Deidra and I were playing a game this morning where you're given a category, then each person takes turns naming things in that category. Except you have to start your item with the last letter of the previous item. So, the category was "things in the ocean" this morning. After playing for a while, it started getting tough to come up with new things. It was my turn after Deidra said "trench," and I we had already used all of the Hs that I could think of right off hand. So as I was racking my brian, all of a sudden a lightbulb went off. "Humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua‘a!" I exclaimed. Her response: "You totally made that up. I don't believe you. What is that?" Well, drawing upon the expertise what I learned at a family reunion many years ago (my mom's cousin lives in Hawaii), I knew that the humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua‘a is the state fish of Hawaii. She still didn't believe me, so ever since I have been at work, I have been emailing Deidra links about the fish - from FoxNews, to Wikapedia, and even the Sherman's Lagoon Comic Strip. So the moral of the story, is this: Point - Chris! Deidra, now it's your turn, and you've got the letter "A" baby!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sacred Naptime

Ok, I know it's kind of ridiculous, but I like my morning naptime. Our alarm goes of at 6am, which is when I get up and go downstairs to read my morning scriptures. After completing that, I usually cozy into the loveseat and take a nap until 6:45 or 7 (depending on when I need to be at work). Then I wake up, eat breakfast, go back upstairs, wake up Deidra and then get ready for my day. Now, that's not too unreasonable, is it?

Last night, Deidra pleaded with me to make sure that I help her wake up at 6am too, instead of allowing her to sleep until 7ish. I was originally defensive, stating that if she wanted to get up when the alarm went off, I was more than happy to let her do so, but I wasn't going to extend any monumental effort on my part to force her to do so. But the main reason I was really defensive was because I knew if she woke up when I did, my nap time would be gone, as she would expect me to use my morning time more "productively." but after her incessant pleading last night, I finally caved and told her I would try to wake her up in the morning. In return, she told me she would do her scripture reading, etc., upstairs in the morning, so as not to disturb my precious naptime.

So I woke up like usual this morning and made a half-hearted effort to wake Deidra up, hoping that she would roll back over and go to sleep. But after I came downstairs, I heard her stirring above me and knew that she had indeed made it out of bed. After reading President Hinckley's final comments from conference, I laid down on the loveseat and closed my eyes. Ten minutes later, Deidra comes downstairs and tells me it's time to wake up. Here's the gist of the conversation:

Deidra: "Chris, it's time to wake up now."
me: "What? It's only 7:30, I still have a good 15-20 minutes to nap."
Deidra: "No, you've slept enough. We need to get our spare bedroom cleaned up."
me: "But you told me if I woke you up, that I could still have my nap."
Deidra: "I said that if you woke me up, I would do my scripture study, etc., upstairs. And I did. But now I'm done and we have things that need to be done this morning."

Hence the end of my nap. And I am sure Deidra will attest to the fact that I was not exactly "happy." In fact, I believe she referred to me as Mr. Grumpypants. But that's what happens when you interrupt the sacred naptime in the morning. All I know is that, if Deidra wants to ruin my mornings by waking up early, she's going to have to do it without my assistance in the future. Then we'll see if her desire to interrupt my naptime in the morning is strong enough to wake her from her own precious extra sleep.

*Note: I dare say this post will not last too long without a rebuttal post and/or comment from Deidra, so keep posted for that! :)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Plot #16

This picture is a close-up of the stake and sign designating our garden plot in the community garden. I don't think I have expounded enough on how much I like having a garden. We have eaten a ton of produce already, including salad, snap peas, pod peas, radishes, yellow onions, red onions, bell peppers, and zucchini. But there's still lots more to come! Our pole beans are just starting to get ripe for the picking, more lettuce, zucchini, onions, and bell peppers are waiting to be harvested, and other produce like tomatos, jalepeno peppers, banana peppers, cucumbers, carrots, and hopefully yellow watermelon are on their way. It's exciting, for some reason, to watch these tiny seeds grow and blossom into these amazing plants that yield fruits or vegetables in abundance. Of course, some have fared better than others. We planted and replanted leeks, to no avail. Our carrots are just starting to take form after replanting them, and our pod peas did not quite flourish as we had hoped. Both both our pole beans and snap peas have grown immensely and are yielding way more than we thought possible. So far, the only mishap was when Deidra accidentally pulled up my second crop of radishes. With her dislike for the spicy red bulbs, I sometimes question whether or not there was malicious intent. But I'll give her the benefit of the doubt... for now. Posted by Picasa