Saturday, November 29, 2008

Passing the Smell Test

My mother was a clever parenter. As a young kid my mom would lure me outside to play, then quickly go back in the house and lock the doors. I really couldn't ask for more though. I grew up on a full acre of land with fruit trees, swing sets, trampolines, and a tennis court. Every once in a while though I'd get thirsty and knock on the door, "Mom, I'm thirsty!" "The hose is right over there" as she pointed and smiled. Sandwiches and lemonade would be delivered via the doggy door at lunchtime and the doors would open again just in time for dinner. Now that I'm an adult with kids of my own I see her wisdom and brilliance. She gave me the opportunity to explore and have fun while giving her time to get things done in the house without the constant fighting, bickering, and destruction that typically came with me around my sisters.

As I grew older her ingenuity and tenacity evolved. I am convinced that it is completely impossible to pull a fast one on my mother. She claims her "holy ghost tells her stuff." I say no. It's a constant, unrelenting, fierce process of checking homework, reading notes, rifling through drawers, calling parents to check up on me, tailing me to school, and hiring the NSA to keep a satellite bead on me at all times. I always thought the unmarked black van parked outside all my extracuriculars was odd. Personal privacy was a foreign concept. As long as I lived under that roof, my stuff was her stuff and my life was hers.

I distanced myself as a teenager and mom had to reinvent her sleuthiness. Her personal space invasions became more discreet and never confrontational. And she invented "The Smell Test." The nose cannot be fooled. My silver tongue could lead her down many paths of ridiculousness, but a quick whiff would confirm or deny anything I said...

"So where did you go tonight Ty?"
"Oh, this dude named Travis had a party."
"Was it a good party?"
"Of course mom, we played bridge and pin the tail on the donkey and danced to the soundtrack to 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.' Then we sat around and discussed what college courses could best help us accomplish our goals in life and best prepare us for our missions." *gnarly sarcasm*
"Uh huh. Any drugs?"
"No way mom."
"Booze?"
"Oh please."
"Cigarettes?"
"Gross mom, no way."
"Good boy, come give your mother a hug."

Unbeknownst to me, until a later time, this was no ordinary hug. As we embraced she was smelling my clothes for cigarette odor, my neck for lipstick or girl-scent, and breath for liquor. She'd also look intensely at my eyes for unusual redness or high-gloss. How freaking brilliant is that? Sometimes I passed, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes she'd call me on it and sometimes she'd let it go. I appreciate my mother's love and her zeal for my well-being. She let me grow up on my own terms and in my own time. And mom, I promise I'm really close to the whole "growing up" thing.

Last night I got to put The Smell Test into practice for the very first time as a parent.

My youngest boy, Eric, is trouble. He's creative, inventive, destructive, and FUN. And lately he's had some dread fascination with his own urine. He'll whiz on just about anything. Walls, rugs, floors, carpet, etc. Sherri has found urine-soaked paper towels just hanging out on the floor. There is no apparent rhyme or reason to the wayward whizzing. Eric just doesn't want to conform to "The Man's" standards and pee in the toilet when there are so many other creative and fun places to place the stream.

So Thanksgiving night I'm in my office on the piano, laying down the bass and guitar tracks to Bread's "Aubrey" when Talmage starts to holler, "Daaaaad! I neeeed you!" I run out of the office in the direction of the screaming and find my two boys in the bathroom. Eric was standing over the toilet with his manhood in his left hand and the orange cup that had held my refreshing beverage in his right. "Eric, what are you doing buddy?" "Nuttin' dad." "Uh huh, why are you holding that cup?" "I'm not, dad." Eric has a problem with telling the truth, no matter how obvious the lie. "Right...Eric, did you go peepee in dad's cup?" "Nope." The toilet was finishing its flush at this point so there was no evidenciary support that his urine ever made it INTO the bowl. "Eric, give me the cup." All that was left was the remnants of some seemingly carbonated liquid in the bottom. I'd been drinking Mt. Dew, aka "The Nectar of the Gods", which didn't really help my cause in determining just what liquid might be in the cup since Dew and urine look identical. "Eric, tell me the truth right now, did you whiz in dad's cup?" "Nuh uh."

I had three options here. A) Forget about it and just wash the cup out, holding to the idea that igorance is bliss, B) drink what was left and hope for the best, or C) give it a whiff. Clearly B was a bad idea and I quickly tossed it out. I was left with A and C. The blue pill and the red. Would I take the blue pill and go about life as usual, never knowing and never caring about what REALITY was, continuing in a dreamstate of relative happiness unaware of TRUTH? Or would I pop the red pill and see just how far down the rabbit hole goes? I'm a truth guy. I went red. I inserted my schnozz and gave it a nice, big whiff.

We had green bean casserole for Thanksgiving. I was unaware that green beans had a similar effect on urine to that of asparagus. My smell test to the orange pee cup resulted in a fragrance that quite nearly knocked me on my can. It definitely was not the Nectar of the Gods clinging to the bottom of the cup. That was Eric's man scent...and it was strong. I debated washing the cup and sterilizing it so we could use it again, but I realized that was foolhardy...there's no way I could ever see an orange cup again and smell or taste anything other than salty Eric juice. I decided instead to burn the cup to a bubbling lump of molten plastic after exercising the demons from the artifact with my mighty priesthood.

If I'd been using my brain I would have cultivated a sample of the urine and sold it to sports therapists and boxing trainers globally. I guarantee no smelling salt in the universe is as potent as those few drops of Eric pee.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Heroic Goat, Blades FTW, Dust Mite Madness, and Homeless Sven

Max Hall is a hero. A win for Utah meant roughly $40 million dollars to the conference, $4 million of which would go to BYU. A win for BYU would kill the deal. So Mad Max, in his infinite wisdom, decided to deliberately throw the ball to red shirts instead of white ones. FIVE TIMES. Then fumble for good measure. And botch handoffs. Seriously, Cougars, what happened to your nards? Did the defense decide to load up on Ambien before the game? Max, my man, what is the deal with your helmet? Can you really see with it pulled down to your chin? You look like a weak, timid, pasty Darth Vader out there. You could have put me at quarterback, Collie at receiver, Unga at tailback, and our accounting department in the rest of the positions and we’d have done as well. Tricia in accounts receivable could have put more pressure on Johnson. Disgraceful.

I think wars should be fought with medieval weaponry. No more guns, tanks, Apaches, anti-aircraft missiles, or big red buttons. Let’s go back to the days of sword and shield, catapults, trebuchets, and archers. Too many people can die in the blink of an eye in this technology age. Let’s bring back the cavalry charge, the battlefield skirmishes, and the expendable French mercenaries. While we’re at it, let’s replace all existing guns in the country with bladed weapons and amend the constitution to have the “right to bear blades.” There would be far fewer hunting accidents and I wouldn’t expect to ever see the headline that reads “8-Year-Old Boy Tragically Killed by Errant Claymore at the Semi-Annual ‘Blade and Buckler’ Show.” It’s a lot harder to conceal a broadsword. Drive-bys would be much harder to pull off. There has to be something cold and impersonal about shooting someone. You have the luxury of distance and emotional disconnect. It’d be a different story if you had to get within 36” inches of the guy and best him with your rapier.

Did you know that 80% of the world’s population suffers NO allergy at all whatsoever? Naturally I have no statistical data to support this claim. In fact I found data that suggests that 54.6% of the US population tests positive to one or more allergens. I’d imagine that once you factor in the Chinese with their dietary standards and magical mystical zen-culture, that global number may drive down to the 20% suggested by my allergist. In any event, I’m malfortunate enough to be in the 1/100th percentile that suffers from EVERY allergy imaginable…year round including, but not limited to, grasses, trees, dust, dogs, cats, and sagebrush. Incidentally I am also allergic to green vegetables and work.

A teacher hands out completed term-end exams to her class. Bobby notices that he got a 75% on his test. This is a bit below his typical mark, but he’s ok with it since it was a gnarly test. He glances over at Sven’s sheet and sees the same 75% inked out in red. He’s a bit baffled. On the rare occasion that Sven is actually in class, he’s inhaling cigarette lighter fumes and trying to breathe fire while the teacher lectures. As Bobby looks around the room he notices that everyone in the class has the same 75% score. They begin to compare sheets and notice that their answers and scores are nowhere near equal, but they all had the same grade. “What’s the deal with this Mrs. Tidwell?” “Well, I averaged out your scores from low to high and came up with a mean score of 75%. This is part of our newly adopted ‘redistribution of grades’ initiative.” Mrs. Tidwell was drilled with over a dozen letters from angry parents.


Further, this anecdote was pulled from this blog:

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In a local restaurant my server had on a “Obama 08″ tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference–just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need–the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I’ve decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.

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Personally, as a homeless “Sven”, I’m all about redistribution of wealth. Bring on the benjamins baby!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Despicable People vs. Deplorable Acts

I’ve been debating a question for the past several days, both internally within myself and outwardly with other people. In my quest for clarity I’ve had many opinions shared and I’ve seen many different angles that I otherwise would not have seen. Some support my own opinion, and many are in stark contrast. So, this post will be laid out thus: 1) the question, 2) some faux background, and 3) my own personal opinion.

The Question: Is it possible for a good person to do a despicable thing, or does the despicable act make that person despicable? No crime of passion. I’m talking about a carefully crafted, executed, and covered up despicable act.

There is a reason why murder is characterized as the “unpardonable sin.” There is no penance for murder. An important part of penance is restitution and it’s pretty hard to restore life to a dead carcass. When homicides go to trial, motive is intently studied. Was the killer caught up in a moment of passion? Was it self-defense? Were there any circumstances surrounding the event that would take self-control from the killer, like temporary insanity? Or did the perp carefully and meticulously plan the murder, execute it perfectly, then cover it up for several years before apprehension? If the latter, the offender is totally hosed. There is no coming back from that. No amount of weeping, wailing, or teeth gnashing is going to help the guy. Not even God almighty himself, the supreme master of love and compassion, is going to help the guy. I’m sure He still loves him as a son, but that son’s goose is cooked.

My example is nowhere near as grand as a murder. But the facts (as I perceive them) line up similarly. Someone(s) in my life has done a reprehensible thing. It was cold, it was callous, it was clearly planned and well executed, then covered up for four years. The act has caused many people pain, and is nearly impossible to completely repent of. The offender(s) are people I genuinely liked and considered to be good. So, back to the question; does the deplorable act, given its calculated nature, mean the people become deplorable, or are they still good people that have simply made a monumental mistake?

My take? They’re despicable to the core. A good tree cannot bear evil fruit, period, end of story, goodbye. Mistakes are unintended. Poor judgment doesn’t involve malice. Evil deeds create evil people.

Memo to despicable people everywhere. I believe in “Kristian Karma.” I believe there is a supreme being that blesses those that live good, righteous lives and I believe that those that do evil have blessings withheld. Mr. Despicable, I would not trade places with you for anything. Not for half a fortune. You may say that your conscience is clear and you sleep at night, but I know better than that. You feel the darkness in your heart. You see the walls closing in. You hear the echo of a deep, kind, sad voice filled with disappointment. I know your sleep is fitful and your dreams are haunted. You will look over your shoulder for the rest of your days, certain that you hear soft, heavy footsteps. You have failed epically. And I pity you.

Hopefully our creator is as compassionate as we think. You’ll need it. In a time and place other than this, you’ll be able to look some heartbroken people in their eye and explain. I know two big, brown eyes that will be very interested in that explanation. And you owe it to them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dead Duck Delivery, Godzilla Snow Havoc, Unstoppable vs. Immovable, and Iocaine Tea.

I think it would be awesome if a tasty animal would occasionally die of natural causes in my back yard. I don’t have the machismo required to actually go out in the wild and whack the animals myself, but it sure would be neat if they would naturally travel to my back yard to die. I’d also wish they would show up already gutted and plucked/skinned, but I have tough-guy friends that I could probably talk into doing that for me in trade for a case of cookies, and I don’t want to get carried away anyhow. And if I really wanted to shoot for the stars I’d hope to have the dead animal gutted, plucked, filleted, seal-packed, and magically placed in my freezer. But hey, if you shoot for the stars and miss you might just hit the moon. I’d settle for the fresh dead animal.

What in the ever-loving holy hell is wrong with Utah drivers this time of year? People, we live in a state where it snows EVERY FREAKING YEAR. In a matter of months you tardlets have managed to completely forget how to operate an automobile in rain or snow. The first snowfall is as if Godzilla has set upon our city and mass hysteria breaks out. “What is this? *gasp* Oh no. NOOOOOO! Wetness is falling from the sky?! Lord in heaven, let it not be so. AAAAARRRRGGHHHH! God is weeping over our impending deaths! Drive dammit! Drive for your liiiivvveeesss!” And cars start maniacally swerving and spinning out of control. Then magically, one week after the first heavy rain or snowfall, people adapt and start driving normally again. Folks, this phenomenon we call “precipitation” happens every…single…year in our state. The rules and safe-driving practices that applied in January also apply in November. May through October shouldn’t be a sufficient period of time to make you forget what snow is.

Ever since "The Dark Knight" I’ve been giving an awful lot of thought to the concept of The Unstoppable Force and the Immovable Object. By definition, an unstoppable force is just that…unstoppable. Nothing, no matter what, in any circumstance can keep that force from continuing on its path. Likewise, an immovable object is equally impossible to manipulate. No matter what force collides with that object, the object will remain unmoved. So what would happen if the unstoppable force were to meet the immovable object? Would it be an epic battle worthy of Neo and Agent Smith in the final Matrix movie where the shockwave and subsequent fallout of the event would destroy everything in its path? Would the entire Universe collapse onto itself? Would an alternate reality spawn from the epicenter, creating a bizarre yet familiar existence with purple skies, orange seas, and razor-edged cliffs on all sides? Or what if the event were entirely anticlimactic and absolutely nothing happened? This is the kind of spacey concept that can keep me thinking (and drooling) for hours… a force that can’t be stopped meeting an object that can’t be moved. One would have to win, effectively negating the entire existence of the other. Or would it?

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the familiar analogy of the half-full or half-empty glass. We optimists tend to look at the glass as half full. Every cloud has a silver lining. You pessimists see the glass as half empty. Every silver lining has a touch of grey. But how do we know the glass even exists? And what if the glass were full of iocaine powder juice and a large enough swallow would kill you right where you sat? All of a sudden the optimist becomes the pessimist and the pessimist the optimist. Less is more and more is less. But regardless of outlook, pessimist or optimist, never get involved in a land war in Asia and never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Random Thoughts on Election Day

I voted today and it was the most anticlimactic experience of my life. For more than two years we as a nation have been upended over this election. I’ve learned there is nothing more divisive than a presidential election. I’ve seen candidates’ religions, ethnicities, families, character, age, judgment, and fashion called into question. Seriously folks…who the holy freaking hell cares about Sara Palin’s wardrobe? I realize John McCain can’t lift his arms past his chest. Yes, I know Obama’s middle name is Hussein. Mitt Romney is a Mormon? Where are his horns then? He must file them down. We’re told to get out and vote because the future of humanity relies on our voice. It is our god-given right and DUTY to vote and American civilization depends on our hitting the polls. The universe will collapse on itself if it doesn’t happen! Yet such a crucial event consists of giving my last name to the guy in the flannel shirt and handlebar moustache, taking my voter card from the lady with the glass eye and floral-print mumu, and touching a computer screen for 90 seconds. The culmination of two years of irrational arguing and mudslinging was a grand total of 4 minutes of my time.

Dell Schanze ran for governor on the Libertarian ticket. Somewhere in the galaxy a star has imploded, a baby seal was clubbed, or an angel had its wings ripped off. This man is hardly fit to BELONG to a society, much less govern one. It's ironic that the only person in the state that craves media attention and photo op moments more than Superdell is our current governor, Huntsman. Bring back Norm Bangerter dammit.

I’ve decided once and for all that I WILL NOT read Twilight. I know I know, ladies, I told you that I would. I bought into your whole, “you can’t bash a book you’ve never read” bit. I figured I would read the book with a highlighter in one holster and a .357 in the other one (in case I actually started to like it) and would call it “research.” This author was being compared to Jane Austen and even Dickens in one discussion I had. But the more I think of it, the more I know that I most certainly do not have to experience something firsthand in order to understand it. I’ve never swallowed shards of broken glass, but I’m pretty sure it would be bad for me. I’ve never lit my head on fire, but I’m relatively confident it would suck. Likewise, I don’t have to read Twilight to know that it is a book for women. It totally misrepresents the true nature of vampires and werewolves and insults their ferocity and hatred for humans. And that freaking Edward is making it impossible for millions of men worldwide to meet the new expectations of their lovers. No, no, no, no. I’m sticking to my guns and moral compass on this one.

All rules are off when driving alone in a car. Propriety and decency mean nothing. A 90-year-old Asian woman just cut you off? Let the bird fly. The more lush and flowery the vocabulary the better. Frustrated? Put in some Tool and bang that head or fire up Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” and let loose the F bombs. If you’re with someone else, normal societal rules apply and you need to be courteous to your fellow auto drivers with the gentle tones of Karen Carpenter soothing your soul. But when alone, give in to your inner badass.

Taco Bell boycott begins today. I have resolved to not touch my lips to Bell food for one year, starting right now. A very large group of us went there for dinner on Halloween night and the Mexican teenagers running the joint must have wanted to trick us instead of treating. Orders were messed up and the food was terrible. “No duh” you might be saying, but I’m not comparing TB to other (better) GhettoMex restaurants. I’m simply holding them to their own standards. I usually know what to expect when I walk through those doors, but on this particular night they really went out of their way to make our experience suck. Tables were sticky, floors were dirty, chips were uber-stale, meat tasted like cat, etc. Barf.

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