Friday, January 30, 2009

My (Misplaced) Fear of Flying

WARNING! WARNING! If you are here to read about death row inmates eating their eyes and grown men having sex with horses you have come to the wrong place. I’ve reformed, I’ve seen the light, I’m a new man.

Let’s talk phobias!

I thought about being a pilot when I was younger, it’s a profession full of chance takers, guts and in some cases glory. The problem is that I have a fear of flying, or so I thought. When I watched the news stories last week regarding the “miracle” of US Airways Flight 1589 in New York I had a paradigm shift with regards to my phobia. And now that I’ve made this transition I’m ready to come clean. I don’t have a fear of flying… I have a fear of crashing. I also have a fear of dying but I’ve always thought that the fear of crashing was the prerequisite to the fear of dying.

Everyone still with me?

Let’s face it, there is something exhilarating about flying through the air, regardless, I might add, of whether you’re in plane or it’s just you in free flight. What stops us some of us from pursuing a life of flight is not the flight; it’s the potential of the crash. And I’m an expert witness for the defense in this case.

In my lifetime I have flown on commercial jets and puddle jumpers nearly 100 times. I have taken off 4 times in small planes, landed in only one of them. I have allowed someone to tie big rubber bands around my legs and ankles and then purposely jumped from 170 feet in the air with only a swimming pool to break my fall or, at some might believe, contain my remains. I have jumped from trees, high diving boards, the occasional window, deck, and roof. In all of these experiences the thrill is in the flight, the fear is in the options for the landing.

Let me share some experiences. Three times I’ve been skydiving. The question always comes up, “why would you want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” Trust me, the planes you jump out of are so crap that you want to get out. Each time I jumped from 2,400 feet in the air hooked to a static line. That means that I while I’m falling out of the plane and have completely forgot everything that they taught me in skydiving school, that there is a line to automatically pull the ripcord for my parachute. They are also nice enough to provide a spare chute in case things go wrong. The third option is death or a landing so hard that you become your family’s favorite vegetable. This school was so thorough that they informed you how long you could expect to float down if your parachute deployed properly, 3 minutes, and how long the flight would be if your chute failed to deploy. About 17 seconds. And with skydiving the question isn’t about whether you’re going to get on the ground again, it’s how far into the ground. I don’t know how far you have to fall before people on the ground can hear you screaming for your mommy if your chute fails to open.

Bungee Jumping is nothing like skydiving. Bungee jumping is “totally radical dude”! There are many places that you can bungee jump; off the side of a bridge, some take an elevator to the top of a crane, others hang their digits on the edge of a cliff. Then some guy who doesn’t have an engineering degree wraps your legs and ankles with bungees, a bigger version of the ones that you use to anchor the tarp over your tent; basically a big rubber band. The problem with bungee jumping is that you can visualize how far you’re going to drop because you’ve got visual verification, with skydiving you can’t comprehend the height. Let’s see, 2,400 feet is about half a mile, so it’s two times around the track but from the air. With bungee jumping you know where you are going to land or in some cases, splatter. The thrill is the flight, the fear is the landing. Here’s the other surprise; jumping from a height of 170 feet with a big rubber band attached to your legs means that you are at some point going to stretch the rubber band to its extremes. Now if you’ve every stretched a rubber band you know that they like to bounce back to their original shape. What goes down must come back up. You can see your house from up there, and again, and again, and again.

So far I’m pretty confident with skydiving and bungee jumping. I’m really okay with airplanes; each time I takeoff and land safely my confidence increases. I don’t have the same confidence in the future of solo flight where you are the flight vehicle. All of those documentaries showing humans with jet packs, or wings and rudders attached to their bodies trying to fly and then crashing have not convinced me that personal flight is the future. Besides, if God had intended that we fly solo he would have given us a rudder on the backside instead of a butt crack.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Can I Get An AMEN!

Brothers and Sisters, the subject of our sermon today is food. We’ll be taking our lesson from “The Book of Daniel, Chapter 68, The Lost Chapters.”

Starting with verse 6: “Let the doors of the buffet be opened unto you that you may feast upon the salads, the meats and the fish, and end with a nice piece of chocolate cake, with ice cream. And in consuming them you shall be filled to uncomfortability and your pants shall be tight and your proximity to the bathroom shall be close. But you will be contented.”

Can I get an Amen! Amen! Say it again. Amen!

Fact; Women are into quality and men are into quantity, which is why women love restaurants and men love buffets.

The same rules apply with regards to sex, women want quality, men, well we just want it. Quantity.

But this is really about food so I’ll try to stay focused.

The secret to a long life, according to those who live long, is that food is not their priority. Sounds to me like someone has their priorities mixed up. I want to eat my way to at least 100 years old. Women tend to not focus on food and that may be the explanation as to why women live longer than men, but what’s the fun of living long if you can’t enjoy it and nothing says enjoy like buffet!

Last week I had occasion to be in a town on the Olympic Peninsula for business and decided to pop into a buffet for a “light” lunch, meaning that at lunch they don’t carve roast beef and ham. A group of four young men in white shirts, ties, and name tags were prayerfully pondering whether the buffet was a prudent use of their money. Now I’m not Bill Gates when it comes to money but I have needed some blessings for my family so I convinced them that the “spirit of the buffet” had prompted me to pay for their meal. Why else would they have pulled into the parking lot at the same time if it wasn’t meant to be?

“And they came two by two to the table; and they did eat of foods, both fried and baked, whipped and steamed, and they saw that it was good. They partook of fowl of the ground, fishes of the sea, and they popped those little shrimp all breaded and deep fried and dipped in cocktail sauce into their mouths. So great was their joy that they returned again and again to feast upon the bounties provided by the toothless guy who spoke no English.”

“And they washed it down with endless glasses of pop and milk and they all proclaimed that it was good.”

In modern terms, those boys could eat. I was so proud of them I nearly cried.

I did feel bad though. Just after we sat down together another four missionaries arrived, surveyed the situation, and then announced that they weren’t going to spend that kind of money on a meal. Bless those young men that were already eating for they did not announce that they were eating on my dime. Besides, 8 missionaries in one place is a zone conference in my book and I didn’t see a Mission President. They wandered off in search of a dollar menu somewhere. Hey, sometimes the spirit moves you. It moved me to not pay for four more.

I know that I don’t make the rules, but whoever, no matter what the circumstances were, invented the buffet should get a free pass into heaven. If I believed in sainthood I’d saint him. If I could name a town or a road after him I would. I’d declare a Buffet Holiday. There would be no fasting on this day. Forget sacrifice and service, the rallying cry should be “Buffets! It’s what’s for Dinner… and lunch!”

And his place in heaven should be on the right hand… of the guy who invented bacon.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Strange & Peculiar People

Warning! Warning! This blog subject is not suitable for children and most adults. It deals with a real world experience in a farm town near Seattle, so if you are easily offended, have been offended before by my blog, or your spouse tells you that you are so uptight and straighlaced that you can make a diamond out of a piece of coal if you sat on it and clenched your butt cheeks, then this is not the week to read my blog.

Welcome home the rest of you.

On December 31, 2008, The Seattle Times ranked the Top 20 Web Stories of 2008 online as counted by those automated counter thingy’s. The No. 5 story read online was a story originally reported on July 15, 2005. And it’s number 5 in 2008, the Times reports it took several hundred thousand hits. According to the paper “You can’t keep a good story down,”.

Drum roll please. The No. 5 most-read story of the year is about the death of a 45 year old man in Enumclaw, Washington who was killed, in July of 2005, while attempting to have sex…. with a horse. Okay, that is killer sex. Sorry. Apparently the State of Washington is one of 17 states that do not ban sex with animals. Police tried to find a crime here, and they did, trespassing, on his 54 year old companion, because it wasn’t his barn. And in 2007 someone tried to make it into a movie.

Now I’ve been to Enumclaw, it’s a quiet little town, they have a sales pavillion to sell livestock, the County fairgrounds is there, it’s where you have to pass through to get to the north side of Mount Rainier. I never thought of it as a place for weirdo sex. And the thought of it just makes me shiver. Ask my wife, I’m still a bundle of nerves everytime she seduces me. And it has happened before, about 15 years ago police caught a drunk getting jiggy with a cow in a field in Enumclaw. They say he was pretty much in the moment, they actually had to interrupt him. The man not the cow. There must be something in the water, or the hay. I always bring my own food and drink when I go to Enumclaw.

So, we shared this story around the family out here in the Northwest, we really get bored in the winter. Everyone had an opinion, no one felt sorry for the guy even though he died. The paper reported everyone’s opinion regarding the “incident” and then I realised, no one reported the horses point of view. Until now.

“Thank you for taking the time to speak with me,” I started, “What should I call you?

“Well the other horses are calling me “Easy”, but you can call me “Nelly”, as in whoa Nelly.” replied the the horse, hereafter called “Nelly”.

“How are you dealing with the attention regarding this incident?” I asked.

“Well, I like to think that I’m as neeeeeighberly as the next horse”, Nelly responded, “but this is just ridiculous. I’ve lived a pretty quiet life up until now and then all of a sudden I’m being treated like a celebrity. Mr. Ed never had to deal with this kind of peoplecrap, but then he was a zebra. I’m not the whorse that people think I am.”

I wanted more. “Were you ever in danger of being charged with a crime?” was the next question.

Nelly paused, let out a whinney, shook her mane, and then responded, “They were thinking about charging me with “negligent hoofacide” but after the facts came out I was cleared.” Her eyes were sad, she was having a hard time with the memories.

“What can you tell me about that night, what is your side of the story?” I quizzed.

She closed her eyes for a second and then for the first time opened up. “I had just turned in for the night, munching on a nice piece of hay that I’d been watching grow out on the back forty the year before, I ate a little bit too much and was getting sleepy. All of a sudden I felt someone grab my tail, I turn around and there’s this pervert human trying to violate me!”

She was opening up, “I turned on him” she continued, “and yelled “You ain’t my cowboy!” and gave him a quick little kick. It all happened so fast, he flew backwards, did a double somersault, and then it was over, I’d wanted to give him a 10 but he didn’t nail the landing so he ended up with a 9.5. His buddy grabbed him and hauled him off, it started and ended so suddenly.”

There it was, she finally brought it out in the open. She relaxed, shivered, butted me with her head affectionately, and walked away.

Suddenly she turned, “I heard that the story is No. 5 online, we were No. 3 last year. I just hate election years.”

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tastes Like Chicken!

This just in: “Texas Death Row Inmate Pulls Out Eye, Eats It”.

Now I’m talented but I can’t make up crap that good. The story on the AP wire today tells of a death row inmate, in Texas, that pulled out his only good eye and then told authorities that he ate it. No comment from the condemned man on if it tasted like chicken. I’m betting no on the chickeny taste.

I’m having trouble having any sympathy on this one, the creep killed his estranged wife, young son, and 13 month old daughter. The infant’s death got him the death penalty. Creepy yes, but I’ll spare the details because I know that mothers read this blog.

I don’t see what he thought this would do for his case but, well, hmmmm, this is uncomfortable, it looks like he doesn’t see either. His attorney explained that “He is insane and mentally ill. It is exactly the same reason he pulled out the last one.” People, hold the presses, we’ve got a serial eye eater here. He’s definitely lacking vision, oh sorry, the foresight, excuse me, the ability to look to the future, I apologize. What an idiot, and as for the insane and mentally ill, I think they should have assumed that the first time.

Now ol’ One Eye, who is thinking of changing his name to “Wtotl” as in “Who Turned Out The Lights”, is from Texoma, Texas. I haven’t looked yet but I’m assuming that this town is close to the Texas/Oklahoma border, just as Texarkana, Texas is close to the Arkansas border. What’s with that anyway? I haven’t checked my map for accuracy yet but I’m hoping that I don’t find a town on the Texas/Louisiana border named Texiana. Over to the west it’s possible that there is a town named Texico bordering New Mexico. If Texas bordered any more states I could have some fun with those states. Texona, Texah, Texada, Texegon, Texornia, Texaska, Texucky, Texshire, well you get the message. To my knowledge none of the border states have names like this, no Oklahas, Louisas, New Mexas. All right, enough about the silly place he lived. I’ve never been to Texoma so I apologize to the good people there if I’ve blogged you in the wrong light.

And I’m sorry for the families of the people he killed but I’m just thrilled he ate his eye because I was drawing a blank on a blog subject this week and this was like manna from heaven. Crash, would you please consider that the next time you poke me that I don’t want to be poked in the eye?

Wtotl has actually created a problem for the State of Texas. His inmate care costs just jumped. By eating his eye he now qualifies for American with Disability Act protection. He will need a white cane, but please don’t provide him standard issue, those 8x8 jail cells have limited square footage. Something the size of chopsticks will work. And a seeing eye dog, paid for by the good people of Texas, but get him a small one, like the Taco Bell dog, it’ll be a tight fit in that cell with the new fire hydrant for the dog. Then he’ll have someone to talk to him. You can take the lights out of his room, I mean cell, a radio would be more appropriate than the TV he’s watching, and let’s face it, he needs to be taught Braille, that will cost the State.

I don’t ever plan on going to prison let alone commit a crime. My advice to convict types is that if you want to convince someone that you’re insane and mentally unstable then you should start with ridiculous requests such as; crunchy instead of creamy peanut butter, butter instead of margarine, real potato’s and not powdered, the letter Q stricken from the alphabet, or run around the exercise yard each day screaming “I’m a hamster”. All of these suggestions hurt a lot less and don’t deprive you of some of the few freedoms that you do enjoy.

And while I’m still straddling the line on the death penalty, Texas, because they don’t mess around when it comes to the death penalty, will eventually put Wtotl to death. In the death chamber, the warden or maybe the priest will ask him if he has any last words.

Please don’t let him say; “It tasted like chicken.”

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Don't Stand So Close To Me

“Everywhere is walking distance”, spoke the great philosopher/comic Steven Wright, “if you have the time”. That said, I finally got off my butt on Saturday and took a walk on the Interurban Trail here in my side of the woods. I have a simple walking plan; I don’t do hills (yet), I don’t park at spaces set aside on the trail by the County (too many car break-ins), and I walk two miles away from my truck, which means I have to walk two miles back to my truck. A nice four mile walk, it’s just me and my IPod, rocking out on my favorite tunes.

The problem with walking is that I can think and rock at the same time. I’m very talented. While I walk thoughts come into my head that really shouldn’t come out and end up documented, for instance in this blog. Take Saturday, I had just finished watching the Monk New Years Day Marathon on my DVR the night before. One of the episodes that I watched was called “Mr. Monk & the Naked Man”. The naked man reference was to the nudist beach that was part of the plot. It was a good episode even though it made me a little uncomfortable. So, I’m walking along the trail at a very brisk pace, started thinking about the Monk episode and then it occurred to me.

If you take Viagra and you should call your doctor if you experience an erection lasting longer than four hours, then, if you’re a nudist should you call your doctor if you don’t have an erection lasting longer than four hours?

Whoa!!! Now you know what it’s like to live in my brain. Only these thoughts are the ones that got out.

I could never be a nudist. My birth was the only time that I was comfortable being nude in front of anybody that I wasn’t intimate with and even then I only did it kicking and screaming, the birth or the wedding night. Okay, it was the only time that I’ve been comfortable naked in front of someone else. The closest that I’ve ever come to being a nudist was the period from September of 1970 to June of 1971 and the following three school years up to my junior year in high school. Yes, those exciting days of gym class, 7th grade to my sophomore year in high school. Group showers were the norm, 60 naked guys running around with towels, taking those towels and snapping at each others little butts just as we were moving toward puberty. Snap a towel at my butt now and you get a nice little scream in a deep bass, snap it in 7th grade and my alto voice broke glass.

Here’s another thought, what happens when there is a case of mistaken identity at a nudist colony? It would be very embarrassing if someone walked up to you, say you’re a guy, and said, “Excuse me miss, can you tell me where the bathroom is?” I actually knew someone, fully clothed, a woman, and to me she looked like a woman, kind of, and she went to get her driver license (she had just moved into the state), and the DMV officer listed her as a man on the license. It was only after she walked out with the new license that she realized the mistake they had made. Of course if nudity was allowed maybe the DMV wouldn’t make that mistake. She asked me what to do about it, I was still trying to make up my mind again about whether she was a man or a woman.

You know how people are real comfortable in their home walking around naked but as soon as someone shows up they quickly put some clothes on? Do you think that nudists secretly walk around the house in clothes but when someone shows up they quickly take their clothes off? There are advantages to being a nudist, your clothing budget would be minimal, maybe one pair of everything, swimsuits are always optional, wearing a hat, not necessary. No skid marks in the underwear, although, skid marks on the furniture does become a problem.

No, I wouldn’t be a nudist, I like people to know the real me but I don’t want to be that real to that many people.

I was scanning the guide on my cable box earlier and noticed that there is a Jerry Springer Marathon on TV next week. I wonder what watching that will do to my thought process. I have to go now, it just started snowing again and I think I’ve got some space on my DVR.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


It's time to participate in our annual ritual of "which pew do I sit in at Church".

Sunday, January 4th some of us in buildings with multiple congregations will start attending church during a new block period. Our congregation shifts to the 11am schedule while the ward to the south gets to move to the coveted 9am schedule. Personally the 11am schedule just means I show up at 7:30 rather than 6:30 for my meetings. 11am really screws up the Sunday nap schedule, the only activity suggested by the church as a legitimate Sunday activity that I actually follow through on. The 11am schedule typically means lower attendance also, it's like if they haven't made it by 11 it's not going to happen.

I like Sacrament Meeting on most days, my wife and I have a lock on the back pew near the door. It used to belong to my son's grandfather and grandmother-in-law but I'm a big guy and not easily moved from a new seating position once I decide I want it. I used to sit about 5 rows up, on the far right, where I could support my knee against the wall that juts out. That way I could support my teachers manual I had to read if I hadn't prepared for the class that I taught. But I'm a back row guy. I'm thinking about getting a plaque for our seats. "In Memory Of" and then name some long lost relative. Not mine though, most of my relatives only get caught dead in church. My family is from Missouri which make genealogy easy. I just find the names of the pioneers crossing the plains getting persecuted and trace the ancestry of the persecutor's.

Now the back pew, not the one against the curtain, allows you to make Sacrament, well interesting. Passing small children can low five you while you look forward, you notice everyone that walks in late, you see and hear every child that screams, has to go potty 10 times, and you're usually the first to know which kids are going to die at the hands of their parents as they get drug kicking and screaming out of the chapel during the talks. The other day I thought that I saw the parent and kid high five each other after they escaped the chapel during a high council talk. We've hit a point where we can close our eyes when a kid screams and know what lungs belong to which kid. When you sit in the back you can see parents and kids arguing about not wanting to go to Sacrament. The kids usually win and the parents dejectedly follow them into the meeting.

I almost feel bad that I sit on the back row because it makes the people that are late walk in and walk all the way up to the front. Then I remember that we had the same problem when we had kids and I get over feeling bad.

In the Pentecostal church that I grew up in my family was always late for services. I would always fervently pray that the congregation would be standing up and clapping, singing some holy roller tune that had everyone dancing like they were walking on hot coals. Alas, it was usually "The Old Rugged Cross" and my mom, step dad and my six siblings would all make that long walk to the front of the chapel, all eyes upon us. Did you know that "Israel, Israel, God Is Calling" has the same tune as "What A Friend We Have In Jesus"? Sorry, trivia moment.

Now that I'm LDS and out of the house I'm not late for anything. Stake Conference is in a couple of weeks and the wife and I are thinking about camping out for seats overnight. Depends on whether we get a General Authority or not, I don't sleep outside for just anyone.

We could always play poker to pass the time.