Saturday, December 20, 2008
He loved to talk about politics and gave everyone who turned 18 a voter registration card on the day of their birthday. It was his "gift" to us and I for one, have voted in every Presidential election since he handed me my voter registration card (although as a staunch Democrat I often wonder how disappointed he would be if he knew I was a registered Independent?!?!). He made fast friends with a lot of students when he would ask "Don't you think it's amazing that at 18 years of age you can cast a vote for someone to become the next President Of The United States, be old enough to go to war and die for your country but still not be old enough to drink a can of beer?" Huge cheers would erupt each and every time. He loved it.
He also taught something that I can still remember to this day. His lesson went something like this;
"I want you kids to know, that if I ever find out that one of you has held up a 7-11, I will find the prosecuting attorney and offer my services as a character witness about what a crummy student you were and how the judge should throw the book at you. But, if you embezzle a couple million dollars from IBM, I will find that same attorney and tell him what an upstanding student you were and how charges should be dropped or reduced as a result of your great contribution to this school and community. You see kids, when you factor economics into the equation, if yer gunna steal, STEAL BIG!"
So it is with a chuckle and grin that I have been reading about Bernie Madoff, the former NASDAQ Chairman who was arrested for embezzling $50 BILLION Dollars. I know that I am with Dale Hibbs in offering a standing ovation for a job well done. It takes an evil mind to keep up a 10 year rouse and if it weren't for his kids he'd still be doing it today. So Bernie, thanks for the laugh and to Mr. Hibbs, thanks for the education. After twenty years your lessons still ring true!
Friday, December 12, 2008
I was a high school senior the year Yellowstone National Park caught fire in 1988. I remember returning a few years later to see for myself the absolute destruction that this fire wrecked on that beautiful park. I truly believed that in my lifetime, Yellowstone would never be the same. As it turns out, I was both right and wrong.
It's been 20 years since those fire raged in 1988 and even today the scars are painfully visible. Amazingly, it has rebounded better than I ever thought possible. It has been well documented that even though the tremendous heat from those fires consumed anything and everything in its path, it also forced the pine cones to loosen their grip on seeds tucked neatly inside and in essence re-fertilized the soil again. Wildfires are Mother Natures way of cleaning house.
Depressions, recessions and down turn economies are also wildfires in a sense because they cause a lot of destruction. Businesses are forced to evaluate, cut back and streamline processes. Profitability values are assigned to products, services and painfully, employees. Despite this, I strongly believe that these painful choices are a good thing in the long run, even a GREAT thing. Follow my logic here.
History confirms that more millionaires were created from the smoldering ashes of the Great Depression than almost any other time in American history. Like a Yellowstone wildfire, the ground was prepared for new growth. When you take an average American worker, pull the rug out from underneath them and then hold their feet to the fire, something magical happens. Inevitably many will choose to take fate into their own hands and become entrepreneurs.
I predict that some of the greatest inventions, products and services that we will see in the next five years will be born out of this current economic down turn. We are seeing many of them at Funding Universe right now and many of them will tell you that it took this boot to the shorts to find the courage necessary to TRY.
If you happen to be an unfortunate casualty of the current economic crisis, I am truly sorry AND excited for your circumstance. I challenge you to seriously take a moment to ponder your situation and do some soul searching to see if there is an entrepreneurial spirit in you. Is this your time? If it is, feel free to contact Funding Universe to see what we can do to make your dreams a reality! Friends, this is a GREAT time to be alive!
Friday, December 5, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Football wasn't any different. I grew up with Gifford Nielsen, Marc Wilson, Clay Brown, Via Sikahema, Steve Young, Jim McMahon and Ty Detmer. BYU sports was my life, and as a young kid in Orem, Utah I wanted to one day play for them. We moved to Iowa in 1983 and in 1984 BYU became NCAA Football National Champions. I was elated! I took some ribbing in school as I was the only "Mormon Boy" but I was genuinely happy that they had pulled it off. If you had been a fan as long as I was, you knew full well the ups and downs of each season. The sweet victories, the bitter defeats, when you lived and died with each play you feel entitled to claim part of that trophy as your own.
All of that changed when I moved back to Utah in 1993. I was anxious to resume my loyalties and listened intently to Paul James call the BYU-Utah game. After years of getting routed, the Utes won a close and exciting 34-31 game and BYU finished the season 6-6. The KSL call in show was a shock for me as fan after fan questioned Lavelle Edwards for his play calling. As a life long fan I was disgusted with how "spoiled" these fans had become and the inexcusable way they were getting after a BYU coach who had brought the program from the dead to a National contender. I still remember the fan who said "I've been a BYU season ticket holder for 15 years and I'm not buying next year. I will not be a part of a program that doesn't win." Obviously this guy wasn't around for those times when we would have been grateful for a 6-6 season.
So after years and years of listening to BYU fans whine and complain and Monday morning quarterback an extraordinary coach I decided that I had had enough. Aside from the fact that I have lived in Salt Lake City for 14 years now and always support the local teams (Real Salt Lake, The Bees, the Buzz, and finally the Jazz) I decided to cheer for the Utes. Unlike BYU fans, they genuinely seemed to enjoy every win, probably because of years and years of being a cellar dweller. Most of all, Ute fans don't WHINE the way BYU fans do!
So that is the reason that my loyalties have changed. Is BYU an excellent school? Of course it is. Except for my brother and I, EVERYONE in my family AND their spouse is a BYU graduate! I will always believe that BYU offers a great education. On the flip side, can you get a great education at Utah? Of course, the medical school alone is one of the most prestigious in the Country. Is BYU the ONLY place to get an education? Absolutely not! There are plenty of great universities out there, each offering it's own specialty.
But at the end of the day I love cheering for the Utes. It's impressive to me that kids who grew up all along the Wasatch Front can come together as a team and take on powerhouse football programs from the Big Ten, Pac Ten, Big East and ACC and beat them as good as anyone. Congrats to the 2008 Utah Utes and with some luck I hope to watch you play in your second BCS game!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
No, I'm not a masochist and no, I don't own any oil stocks either. I'm just a regular American who is sick and tired of being held hostage by foreign countries from the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela. Nothing would make me happier than to see all of them sit on tankers full of oil that are virtually worthless. I strongly believe that we are getting there.
Inconvenience is the mother of all invention. Think about all of the historical achievements the world has produced over the years. Fire, the wheel, cars, computers, airplanes. Almost all of them born in an effort to solve some kind of inconvenience, some kind of pain. Using that same model, it stands to reason that being held hostage to these outrageous gas prices will encourage someone, ANYONE to invent a way to get us off of our addiction to foreign oil. It has.
This summer, Funding Universe has been approached by a number of companies, both big and small who are working on this exact problem. Some are working on bio fuels, others on solar power or wind power. We recently worked with a company that developed a product that harnessed wind power from the ocean and converted it into transportable energy. It has been exciting to see the thought, calculations and designs that have been created by each of these companies and my only regret is that we don't have more. Yes sir, a throbbing pain can move a lot of things, including a nation.
Joel Nielsen is a Venture Consultant at Funding Universe and can be emailed at email@example.com
Live Pitch was born from another Funding Universe event called "Speed" Pitching. "Speed" Pitching is similar to speed dating. In speed pitching, ten screened businesses meet in a room filled with 30-50 investors. The goal for business owners is to pique the interest of Angel and Venture Capitalist for future funding. For the Entrepreneur they get the undivided attention of 30-50 investors and the investors benefit because they can be introduced to 10 vetted businesses through Funding Universe in less than two hours.
Businesses are allowed four uninterupted minutes to present their venture. They then have three minutes to answer questions and bing bam boom they are done. Four minutes is not a lot of time to explain an entire business, so the pitches have to be precise, thorough and engaging. Many businesses who have participated in our "Speed" Pitch event have asked Funding Universe if they could watch a Speed Pitch before participating in one. Alas, "Live" Pitch was born.
Last week the five qualifying businesses screened to present were
After presenting, the audience was allowed to invest $200 in "FU Funny Money" into any of the five companies. The audience in conjunction with the six panalists produced the top two companies. The two "Live" Pitch winners were Ian Ellis of Gruvie and Cary Snowden of ListPipe. (In a bit of unbiased reporting, I would like to point out that I only had one client in the competition and he won)
Our next Speed Pitch event will be on October 24th at the Larry H Miller Campus in Sandy, Utah. We invite you to come out and see how Funding Universe facilitates the interface of Small Businesses with Angels and VC's.
Joel Nielsen is a Venture Consultant at Funding Universe and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, September 22, 2008
To set the stage, Joseph Smith is discussing the different kinds of spirits that exist now and before the beginning of time.
"Now, in this world, mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above another; yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves. So in the other world there are a variety of spirits. Some seek to excel. And this was the case with Lucifer when he fell. He sought for things which were unlawful. Hence he was sent down, and it is said he drew many away with him;"
What caught my attention the most was the part about building up others as well as ourselves. This idea kept bouncing around in my head and I found it hard to continue. Michael Jordan was an incredibly gifted athlete and during his early years he dominated the NBA. And much like the beginning passage above, he was ambitious and striving to excel. Nevertheless he never won an NBA title even though he was clearly in a league of his own. It wasn't until Jordan started to make those around him better, that he won his first title. It was only by building up others that he became successful.
So here's the deal. From the moment we leave the womb, we are completely self centered. As we mature, we learn to be a good child, a great brother or sister. We age a little more and become parents which means we give even less thought to self, and more thought outwards, to family for instance. Then we add another layer where we become willing to work on the behalf of others, such as a neighbor, or a community. And in extreme instances, we become willing to sacrifice all that we have, including our very lives for our faith and our country. As we age, the layers get larger and larger and further and further away from the womb. What I am learning here is that the further we get from "self" the greater our joy and the larger our reward.
Enter Satan and his determination to keep us self centered. With very few exceptions, almost every sin that we can commit is a return to "self." Drug and alcohol abuse are self centered activities as they satisfy only oneself. Stealing is taking from another to satisfy self. Adultery is completely self centered, murder is the removal of these outer most layers. If you consider civil laws as well as modern and ancient commandments, almost all crimes against God and society are those in which someone is harmed as a result of anothers quest to return unforgivingly back to self. So in a very simple way, sin is just about anything that returns us to back to our base selves.
It stands to reason then, that the greatest joy we can receive in this lifetime, or in the life to come is by traveling as far away from self as possible. I've decided that this isn't always easy for me. Even after discovering this I still want the money, and the cars, and the vacations. I have a long way to go in moving towards those outer bands of true greatness. And as I write this, I am just now realizing how many people in my life are awesome examples of moving away from self. On behalf of our family, I want you to know that we have been on the receiving end of many friends and family who have stepped away from self to bless and enrich our lives. I am grateful to you all and hope from your example I can be equal to the task of blessing your lives too.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
"Would you be willing to change your pick set name to include a less sexual connotation? A parent of one of the group members is just concerned with the choice and need of such a name. Please let me know what you think or if you have any questions...
Thanks, Troy Shepherd 801-7XX-6068
Now I don't know Troy, and he surely doesn't know me because we wouldn't be having this conversation if he did. Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I will unintentionally offend everyone I meet at least once, and probably a lot more. Do I have a problem with changing the name? Of course not. I certainly don't want to intentionally upset anyone. I prefer to un-intentionally offend people. It makes me look more genuine.
But what annoys me about this request is the lack of accountability. My question is WHO exactly is concerned and why are YOU (Troy) doing THEIR dirty work? Are we in Junior High again? Help me understand why it's impossible to simply discuss this like adults. I'm stunned that I didn't get his request on a folded,piece of lined paper that is passed to me at the lunch table so that the offended author could look on from a distance. This is soooo French! So in my usual way of being a pain in the Heineken, I decided to up the ante and sent the following uncomfortable email back to Troy; "Which parent is offended?"
It will be interesting to see if Troy has the kahunas to "out" the offended. I'm betting he doesn't. The weak and spineless never pony up to confrontation and always feel comfortable pasting the blame on someone else. However, in an effort to be sensitive (and more importantly to let Troy off the hook,) I decided to change my name anyway. I am now listed as The Really Super Silly Clouds. It will be fun to see who catches the sarcasm. I've decided that it's my duty to protest living in a police state and allowing my 1st amendment rights to be assaulted by shadow puppets. I'm sure the lesson to be learned is that I should be more sensitive to other peoples feelings. But having to be sensitive to others peoples feeling makes me sensitive myself, and that, my friends, just OFFENDS me.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Unfortunately, my blog has become a casualty of this new direction in life. So if you don't mind, I've put together a few bullets to let you know what I have been up to. Now that things are starting to get settled, I think I can get back to my weekly schedule of keeping you updated and more importantly, entertained.
- I'm working with a company called Funding Universe which is phenomenal! I keep waiting for the shoe to drop because I never thought I would find such an awesome opportunity so close to home. In a nutshell we prepare businesses to interface with an enormous database of lenders and investors. I spend an incredible amount of time analyzing business plans, financials and marketing plans, and educating CEO's on the best way to approach our lenders and investors. I also produce a growing number of webinars that we are using to help our clients from across the country. Today my clients spanned from Tampa, Florida to Seattle, Washington.
- One of my first clients was Dennis Scott a former NBA Star who flew out from Atlanta to meet with me and attend one of our "speed pitching" events. He was so excited that he expressed interest in having us go to Atlanta to meet with his people and possibly put on an event there. I knew I'd make it to the NBA, just not like this!
- To provide superior service to my new clients, I broke down and joined the Blackberry Revolution. Funding Universe is paying for most of the costs so I figured it would be a good investment. So far I have enjoyed the experience and like the ability to respond to email and text messages on the fly. It will also come in handy when I need to check on my Fantasy Football Teams during sacrament meeting.
I had a blast "live drafting" my fantasy football team with my family this year. I hate cold weather, but FF makes it bearable
We went to Los Alamos for my Uncle Steve's wedding. I don't know why we keep driving these insane distances in a mini van but we do. On the way back we drove through Pagosa Springs, CO and I have decided I want to live there some day. Lisa told me that I might be living there by myself.
After gimping around like an 89 year old man for the past three months, I decided to go in and just get the friggin Cortizone shots. My Dr. (who is VERY nice) jabbed a thick four inch needle into my heel to hit my plantar fascia. He did this to BOTH heels and it hurt like a %&$&! Two days later I felt like new again. But the right side is flaring again so I may need to go back. Seriously, that experience sucked the wong.
My co-workers at funding universe sucked me in to getting a twitter account? Have you ever heard of this? They kept telling me "it's like a mini Facebook, aren't you on Facebook?" I admitted that I am but honestly, I don't "get" Facebook or MySpace. If you do, maybe I'll have my Facebook thing throw a pumpkin or an ice cream cone at you *shrugs shoulders* If you get the Twitter or the Facebook thing please tell me what I am obviously missing.
I took 2nd place in our poker game last month. I won some big pots, got bluffed out of some smaller ones but in the end couldn't make up the huge lead that Vern (Sharla's dad) had on all of us. $65 for 2nd place, not too bad!
Took the boys (all of em') fishing at Smith and Moorehouse last Saturday. Noah dipped his line for about 15 minutes and spent the rest of the day exploring the lake, stream and mountains. Eli drove me to the brink of insanity because he would NOT leave his worm and bobber alone. He would cast it out and reel it in. Cast and reel, cast and reel. Justifiably he didn't catch anything. Jack amazingly, fished the entire time with his miniature Scooby Doo fishing pole and caught two really nice pan fish on his own! He was very upset that I wouldn't let him keep his fish. He really felt that they would have a great time living at home in our bathtub and sink. Logan got dirt, diet Pepsi, fish slim and Ranch Doritos all over his cloths and hair. Of the four, I think that he had the most fun.
Last but not least, at Reagan's encouragement I am going to write an "I Believe" blog. This idea follows in the footsteps of the NY Times best selling book "The Last Lecture." Basically, if I were to depart this old life, what would I want people to know that I believe? It's got my creative juices flowing and I'm trying to think of the best way to format it. As I've been thinking about it my list has been growing longer and longer. I wince that the blog will be long and boring for a lot of people. But since my blog is my journal to a greater degree I've decided to include it anyway.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. I look forward to reading over all of your blogs and commenting on them again! I should be in high gear by the end of next week! Hugs and kisses to all of you. I love each of you tremendously!
Sunday, August 31, 2008
So I'm going to conduct a little experiment for the entire month of September to see if Obama is right. For one entire month I am going to blame George W. Bush for everything. "Uhhh Mr. Nielsen, can you tell me why you were going 55 in a 35 MPH school zone?" Why yes officer, I was speeding because of the failed policies of George W. Bush. "Hello Mr. Nielsen, this is the library calling to see if you have returned those books that are overdue?" Well, I would have returned them but I couldn't, because of the failed policies of George W. Bush. It sounds ridiculous when you think about it, and I hope that Americans are too smart to fall for it, from EITHER party.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Now that I am a Dad, I like to encourage my kids to watch with me. They are intrigued, but not nearly as much as they are watching the X-games. Somehow flying hundred of feet in the air on a motorcycle with no hands is much more cool to watch than the Olympic balance beam. So with Lisa working this weekend I have been watching a good deal of the Olympics on my own. Like a lot of sports fans, this is my first exposure to current gymnastics, swimming, beach volleyball and badminton competition in four years.
So you can imagine my surprise when the Chinese women's gymnastics team took to the floor. I thought it was cute that the Chinese had their own set of dwarf children cheerleaders. I kept waiting for the REAL athletes to come out until I realized that the 5 year old kids WERE the Olympic team. According to official Olympic rules all of these girls will be 16 years old this year. Well, NONE of these girls looks 16 years old and the fact that the team was breast feeding during the rotations made me suspicious. There is no WAY that these girls are 16 years old! Would you trust any of them to drive a car? Still, whether they are 6 or 16 they all perform like little bottle rockets and I am amazed at what these athletes can do. I hope we wipe the floor with them anyway.
I was walking by the TV set tonight and saw what I thought was a mistake on tv. Two people diving at the same time. I guess it's called synchronized diving and yes, it's an Olympic event. It's one of the most absurd things I have seen in a long time and I am stunned that NBC would cover it over the boxing matches that were running at the same time. If they were going to give a synchronized medal for anything, they should give it to the 15,000 Chinese performers who entertained the World during the opening ceremonies. Now that was synchronization! AWESOME.
So I don't understand the whole synchronized ANYTHING event. To me it cheapens the medals that other people train for in real athletic contests like ping pong. If they are going to give medals for synchronized diving and swimming they should give medals for roshambo (rock, paper, scissors) and thumb wrestling. I'm actually pretty good at roshambo. On the count of TWO I like to flash "paper" to my opponent and then hit them with a rock on THREE. It totally throws off their timing. It takes a trained athlete like myself to perfect the sport of roshambo and the concentration level is just too far to reach for most people. I'm definitely Olympic material, look for me in a white leisure suite at the 2012 Olympics in England. I'll be the one eating cupcakes during the assembly of Nations.
So enjoy the Olympics this year friends and family. And if your two year old happens to wander out of the house, look for them in China. They are probably training for their gymnastics team.
Monday, August 4, 2008
I will admit that when it comes to fashion I am completely clueless. I couldn't tell you what is in, or more importantly why I should shell out mega bucks to wear it. So please feel free to take this post with a grain of salt. I still have parachute pants and high tops in my closet from 1985.
Part of my fashion fear is that I feel I am being duped by the designers themselves. Have you ever seen the end of a runway show when they bring out the designer for a standing ovation? Inevitably the designer isn't wearing a stitch of clothing from his own line, rather a dark pair of jeans with a black T-shirt. The message to me is "hey pal, I just design this crap, it doesn't mean I have to wear it." I tend to dismiss fashion as a rouse and stick with the jeans and t-shirts myself.That's why Capri's are a fashion mystery to me, so if anyone can clue me in, I'd appreciate it. Capri's are neither shorts, nor pants. They are more "sh-ants, or p-orts." To me they look like an older sister who got caught raiding a younger sisters closet just to prove she can still stuff those hips into a size 2. Humm, maybe it's an ego thing. OR Capri's solve the problem of showing off to much leg as well as not enough. Either way I don't like them. Capri's remind me of Urkel.
But because "flooding" is a popular look with females, I must be missing something here. I've thought about this for a long time and the only thing that I could come up with is that a woman's comfort zone must be controlled in the back of her calves about half way up. Not the knee and certainly not the ankle, just mid-calf controls the comfort temperature. Or it could be that Capri's are the perfect attire for the undecided and timid. "Well, I don't want to look too casual, and I don't want to be real formal *wringing hands*, so my Capri's should cover me either way. That is probably the safest bet..." Well IMHO the only "safe" thing about them is that they look ridiculous. Come on, take a look at your day and either go ALL the way casual, or ALL the way conservative. Don't be timid, just go for it!
Ladies, I for one, would have a lot more respect if you just picked one and went with it. Believe me, I'd rather have you in a pair of shorts at a cocktail party than in those sh-ants. Capri's are ugly and I would like to vote that they be outlawed, or banned, or burned....maybe banned (but I do like the burned....). Humm, now I can't decided if they should be banned or burned. Since I can't make up my mind, maybe I'll put on a pair of Capri's my self (Man-Pris?) and think about it until I come up with an answer. I'll let you know in a future post on what I have decided, until then I'm going to cut all of my pants at the calf, grab a bowl of popcorn and watch a few episodes of Urkel to get my bearings again.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Our kids are on year-round-school and WE LOVE IT! For the last few weeks the bigs have been fighting more than usual "eeeEEEEliiiIIIII!" and I have been tripping around them more than usual. So today is their first day back to school. WHAT DELIGHT! It was mostly quiet all day, Lisa and I went to lunch together and there was hardly an angry word muttered all day.
So the entire experience reminded me of a Staples Commercial from a few years ago. It's a classic and one of my all time favorites. Enjoy back to school everyone!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The side door was open and in the car were FIVE children ages 9-9months. It was easily 90+ degrees. The woman (Jennifer) told me that her car had died and she had spent the last hour trying to call Triple A and her husband to tow her out of harms way. I inquired, how many people have stopped to help you out? "You are the only one, and I have been here for over an hour." I was instantly PISSED! A woman with five kids, stranded on I-15 for over an hour and NO ONE STOPPED! I felt horribly bad for her and decided that whatever I had planned for the day could wait, and that SHE was my most important task. I spent the next four hours getting the car towed to Checker Auto, getting Jennifer and her kids to Ikea so they would have a cool place to hang out while I replaced her alternator in the parking lot.
One of the things that I love most about this Country is our ability to come together. I think of some of our recent tragedies (9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Iowa Floods etc) and am delighted to see average Americans who hear the call and just GO. No one asks, no one demands or enlists, we just go because we are Americans and they need our help. I think that's why it is foreign for most Americans to see other countries who brutalize their citizens and oppress different classes be they ethnic, religious or economic. Sure, our country has its issues. We are like a huge family that squabbles and bickers about a lot of things, but when it comes to crunch time we seem to have a genuine spirit of pulling together. It's one of the things I love about my people.
So I am going to redouble my efforts to be more kind and more aware of other people. I know what it's like to be that car stranded off the side of the road and I have been tremendously blessed by those who have picked up my flag and come to my rescue. The experience always restores my faith in humanity and in the American Spirit. And I'll tell you a little secret, it comes back. It always comes back when you do good things for other people.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Some of the most heated arguments that I have with my wife are over the purchase of toys. My criteria for buying toys is two fold; how much does it cost and what kind of emergency care will be required when I step on it in the middle of the night? As you can imagine, I have an uncontrollable HATE for Lego's, Matchbox Cars and any kind of Star Wars action figure with a light sabre attached to it. You should "feel the force" when any one of these babies pierces the arch of your foot at 2am. For me, a string of profanity follows one of these experiences and I often receive puzzled glares from next door neighbors during the next sacrament meeting.
So my wife and I argue about toys and how me not buying the newest "Action Hero's Figurines" will somehow warp our boys and turn them into social deviants. "I bet Jeffry Dahmer never had toys and look how HE turned out" is a common argument (When Lisa read this she was pissed because she claims she has never made this comment. But it's how I remember it and since it's MY Blog, it's MY reality. She has promised to comment below...) We have THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of toys in bins scattered throughout our home that are rarely if ever used. It's my insurance policy should any of my kids turn into homosexual mass murdering cannibals. "You honor, it's impossible that my son did this, according to my wife we have every 'Little People' play set ever created."
My point is that we could have saved millions of dollars if we had simply purchased a flushing urinal. My kids LOVE the bathroom, it's their favorite place to play. They sit on the counter and run the water in the sink for hours on end, taking bottles and bottles of prescription medication and dumping them down the drain "Daaaad, they aren't pills, they are SUBMARINES!" My son Jack has the amazing ability to let all of the compressed air out of shaving cream bottles and cans of mousse without disturbing the contents inside. Logan is less skilled and enjoys emptying the air AND the contents into drawers for us to find later. Noah used to spends weeks just opening and closing the shower door and to this day I have images of Elijah laying in a big pile of dirty laundry and rolling around in them making dirty laundry snow angles 'weeeeeeeee' even the dog was confused.
Older couples assure us "these moments will pass and when they get older you will miss times like these." I have learned that this is a total load o' crap. I have yet to find ANY of them take me up on my offer to house one of my boys for a week to "bring back those memories."
However, you can take it from a wily veteran that toys are over rated, Disneyland is a sham and more than anything kids would be much more happy playing with your toothbrush in the toilet than riding the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
So it is with great pleasure that I celebrate the 4th of July and give thanks to a God in Heaven that I'm not French. What a worthless lot, the French. Anyway, I do digress... I just wanted to send out a sincere thank you to all of the men and women out there who get up every day and try their best to DO their best. You are the fabric of this Country and I couldn't be more happy than to count myself as one of you (yes, even you John Kerry. Without you there would be no hope for anyone over the age of 400 to ever dream of snowboarding, paragliding, roller blading or immediately surrendering our Country to enemy forces.) Happy 4th of July everyone. May God continue to bless all of us, yes, INCLUDING the French, the Democratic Party and even YOU John Kerry... (ohh and don't forget about Dick Cheney too!)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
A few months ago I was hosting a workshop for SCORE when a guy from our old Ward in Sugarhouse walked in. It was like seeing an old friend again. During the breaks we got caught up on our families and I felt I had been transported back to another time. Then he unleased a bombshell. "Did you hear about Jonathon? He committed suicide a few months ago. He was married ya know, but he didn't have any kids." The news was a complete blow to my gut and I was sick the rest of the week.
When I went to graduate school in Ohio I lost touch with a few of them. One night I got a phone call from Joe, the leader of the core four. "Hey COACH! Me and Brandon and Jon are coming to New York to drive a car back to Utah. Can we come see you?" I was delighted! We had them for two days. I showed them around campus, took them to class with me and got them into the luxury boxes at the football stadium. It was awesome to know that I had enough of an impact on them that they would spend part of their roadtrip with their old Scout Master.
For the next three years I coached these guys our team taking first place in Stake and in my last year in that Ward we took third in Region. Almost all of those guys had looked me up for invitations to their mission farewells and homecomings. But Dan had kind of dropped off the face of the earth and no one knew where he was or what had happened to him. So it was quite a surprise to have him call. When I asked him what he was up to he says "Well Coach, I'm growing up!" He was sooo excited! It turns out that he is getting married in September and wanted to call to invite me to his wedding! "I'm getting married in the Temple Coach and I want you to be there." I have been floating all night long!
I have a theory that when we pass to the other side we will stand with our Maker and review our lives together. A big part of the movie that we will watch together is how each of us has interacted with others, and how that influence (good or bad) rippled through their lives, and through THOSE lives. That thought oftens guides a lot of my decisions and when this life is over for me I'd love to know how my help, love, suggestions have benefited others. I hope that I will have been more of a positive impact on other peoples lives than negative ones. I'd like to believe that I have sent out good ripples.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Unlike many political commentators who are painfully biased in their reporting, Tim always struck me as a straight shooter who simply excelled at asking our public servants the tough questions we all had on our minds. I've always had a tough time with personalities who take extreme political views whether they be right wing or left wing stances, but Tim always kept me guessing as to which party he was he was really cheering for. He just seemed incredibly happy to be doing something he genuinly enjoyed.
My favorite memory of Tim was watching him on election nights with his little white "wipie board" explaning to his viewers how the nights election was going. He had an easy way about him and his love of all things political was contagious.
On a personal note, Tim wrote a book called "Big Russ and Me" a story about his father. On a business trip I listened to the entire book and was struck by the reverance in which he held his father. His father was a garbage man and held down three jobs in Buffalo, New York to put food on the table, and Tim talked at length about what that mean to him both as a boy and a grown man. It made me appreciate my own father, the sacrafices that all fathers make for their families and helped me to be a better father myself.
At 58 years old, it is tragic that we lost Tim Russert so soon. Goodbye Tim, thanks for being an honest and ethical reporter in what many view as the scuzzy world of American politics.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
But after three months and hours and hours sweating it out I "thought" that I had reached the top of the mountain and was cruising on my way down. As it turns out, that fairytale started to unravel yesterday and came crashing through my roof tonight.
When I started three months ago I took a computerized body analysis test to see how bad I really was. My upper body strength was awesome, it was off the charts actually. Everything else sucked. "See this red bar? That's where you are at. To get waaaaaaaaaay over here to the 'fat bastard' zone we would have to saw you in half and you'd still be huge. Huge we can work with, but you my friend, you should hitch a ride on the space shuttle and become another moon to Saturn..." The news was actually sobering but not surprising. At the very least I knew where I had to start.
So as I'm doing jump rope, AND stair steps AND medicine ball crap I look in the mirror and see this blob of a person in slow motion. My man tits are practically hitting me in the face, my gut is bouncing so hard I'm wondering if it is going to break off and just fall through the floor and even though I "feel" like I am doing high kicks like the Rocketts, my feet are hardly leaving the floor! I was panting like a dog in labor, my tongue flopping on the floor and my face is so red I had a headache. My instructor was awesome "You did great man! Keep coming back!" I wanted to punch him in the face, not only for the torture he put me through but for the fact that he was realities messenger and I did not like what I was reading. I am at an all time low tonight.
So I'm re-thinking WHY exactly am I doing this? Yeah yeah yeah, there's the living longer, and healthier and all of that junk. But I could live with all of that the way I was and be perfectly happy. I finally decided that the only reason I am doing this is so that I can look fabulous in a banana hammock some day. I've always wanted to get one, like this dude on the left but I've never felt comfortable in my own skin to actually strut around in one of these. It's my goal, MY DREAM to wear one of these on the beaches of France as my way of sticking it to the French. The idea of a Frenchman angry with me brings joy to my soul. So I have decided to push on, endure the pain and try try try to become a better me. I love you banana hammock. Just fifteen more years of this who-ha and you're MINE! GREAT SUCCESS!
Saturday, June 7, 2008
- I married my best friend
- Lisa is the smartest woman I know. She can hold a conversation with anyone!
- If I got stranded on a deserted island, I would die a happy man if Lisa were with me.
- My in-laws are some of the greatest people I know. They have always treated me like a son and I often get homesick for them. I really love them.
- My brother-in-law is one of the smartest people I have ever met. I could easily spend hours and hours talking with him non stop.
- I spent my first 13 years growing up in Orem, Utah but I claim Iowa City, Iowa as my hometown. I would never admit that I’m from Orem.
- While “visiting” Orem, our neighborhood had our own football, baseball, soccer and basketball team. We would spend the entire summer playing against other neighborhoods. I had a WONDERFUL childhood.
- My favorite number is 22. This was Danny Ainge’s number when he played basketball at BYU and I wanted to be just like him.
- Some of my fondest memories of my Dad were all of the BYU games that we went to. We used to listen to the KSL wrap up shows on the drive home.
- I was devastated when my sixth grade class voted Tom Baugh instead of me onto the baseball team to play against all of the teachers in the only and final game of the year. Tom didn’t even practice with us and our team lost.
- I’m a poor loser. I hate losing! Vince Lombardi once said “Show me a good loser and I will show you a loser.” That quote always makes me laugh.
- My sixth grade teacher predicted that I would make a fortune selling my ideas to other people.
- I had a secretary in the sixth grade. Her name was Holly Flaggar and she took notes for me. The tv show “Dallas” was really popular at the time.
- After high school I looked Holly up and found out that she was pregnant and engaged. So much for that date!
- I was a barely average student through high school. But I somehow managed to get an Iowa Math and Science Scholarship to the University of Iowa.
- I was placed on administrative probation for one year at the Univ of Iowa for forging my academic advisors signature on a class I needed to drop.
- I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Phoenix in business marketing.
- I was one of two students to receive a full ride scholarship to Ohio University
- I hold two Master’s degree. I have an MBA and Master’s degree in Sports Administration and Facility Management.
- I was my MBA’s class president. I was also the only dependable designated driver.
- My time at Ohio University were two of the hardest and most rewarding years of my life.
- In the summer of 2001 I helped Athens, Ohio field a summer minor league baseball team. They still play.
- My dream job was to work for the Denver Broncos until I found out they paid $1,800 per month and worked their staff over 80 hours a week
- I found my other dream job for a marketing firm in North Carolina until I found out that my key account would be Miller Brewing. I turned it down.
- From the time I was young I felt I was going to accomplish something really significant. I am just now learning what that is.
- I am the oldest in my family. I have a brother and four sisters. Each one of them inspires me.
- My family is scattered all over the US but I am in constant contact with all of them
- I have terrible guilt for all the mean things I did to my brother when I was a kid. I got a kick out of giving him Chinese Grass Torture by putting grass up his nose
- My brother is an ex-Marine. I will always regret not serving my country in the military.
- I joined Army ROTC through the Univ of Utah and loved it. I have shot M-16s and flown in Blackhawk Helicopters.
- In a training exercise I held POW’s captive with a claymore mine. I found out later that it violated every title of the Geneva Convention.
- Through high school I wanted to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. But I didn’t have the grades or the 20/20 vision to become a pilot.
- For my high school graduation, my parents got me flying lessons.
- I have flown solo in a Cessna and have not found a rush that comes remotely close to flying alone.
- Someone called the FAA on me for flying at “dangerously low levels” (see 34) I was buzzing my girlfriends house at the time. I never got caught.
- I have outrun the police just once. I knew there was a good chance they couldn’t turn around and catch me at the speed I was going. They were in a blind spot too.
- I have never had a speeding ticket, but I’ve been pulled over half a dozen times.
- I love to freak police officers out when I had them my drivers license and conceal carry permit for our fire arms.
- I have had a warrant out for my arrest. I left my fishing license at home and got cited by the DNR. I forgot to fax in my copy and a year later they sent a Constable to my home to take me to jail. I wanted to go! Lisa screamed at me so he made me sign a promise to appear. I still have a copy of the warrant.
- On the judges advice I plead “guilty” to fishing without my license and he fined me $15.
- My companion and I were arrested in Austria for breaking into our own apartment. We were later released.
- That was the second time I was in an Austrian police car. The first time came when we were mugged by six gang members. They took $35 from me and $150 from my companion. They held a knife to my throat.
- I willingly parked illegally in San Diego in a rental car hoping that the ticket would never get back to me. It did
- My goal was to speak German so well that people thought I was a native. By the end of my mission Austrians thought I was from Vienna because of my dialect.
- I dream of having a summer home in the Alps and traveling around Europe every summer with my boys.
- I have lived a fairytale life so far. The only thing missing in my life is lots and lots of money. I believe that is coming.
- The water company turned our water off two days after we came home from the hospital with our first son.
- It’s expensive to be poor.
- My wife can stretch money further than any person I know
- I got married and started my first business when I was 25
- I am currently working on four businesses and two products. I am hoping to have my products ready to launch this Fall
- People tell me that I’m just like my dad. I fought that for years. As I get older I become more and more like my dad and see that as a compliment.
- I have never seen my dad baffled
- Some of the greatest memories I have of my dad are fly fishing with him and my brother.
- Nothing makes me smile faster than the sound of both my parents laughing.
- My mom gave me a love for writing. Some of my fondest memories of my mom were sitting down at the computer together to write term papers.
- My mom is one of the wisest people I have ever known.
- My parents gave me a love of old “classic” cars
- I one day hope to own a 54’ Mercury “lead sled” a 57’ Chevy Bel Air, a 70’ Chevy SS, (maybe) a 1964 Pontiac GTO and my 72’ Chevy Truck of course.
- It makes me gag that every car on the road looks like the other. I’m sick of cars that are silver.
- My first car was a 1985 Honda CRX. It got 40+mpg
- I once got 55mpg drafting a semi truck to Denver. I stayed two feet off of his bumper for 250 miles. It was a fun but white knuckle drive as I had no cruise control.
- I am a WWII buff and one day want to go to Utah and Omaha Beach in Normandy, France
- Militarily speaking, the only thing the French have perfected is the art of surrender.
- I think the P-51 Mustang is the most beautiful plane in the world. I would like to fly one someday.
- The Merlin Engine in a P-51 Mustang makes one of the coolest sounds I have ever heard. I also love the sound of a big block V8 engine with killer pipes.
- I used to have terrible dreams of being chased and beaten. I stopped having those dreams the day I took home my first handgun.
- My wife is a better shot than I am.
- I HATE talking on the phone. I love email and text messages though.
- I have a fear of being homeless.
- I believe I could commit the perfect crime and never get caught
- I wonder if I will ever be skinny again.
- I believe that death is fairly painless. Like someone turning off the light
- I don’t think we will ever comprehend in this lifetime the love that our Father in Heaven has for us. I think he cheers for our success
- I get frustrated with people who live the letter of the law and forget the spirit of why we do things.
- I am grateful for everything that I have been blessed with. I know more blessings are on their way.
- If I only had three days to live and I could go anywhere I would spend a day fly fishing the Green River, a day in Iowa City and a day in Austria.
- Some of the most spiritual events in my life have come while working in the (LDS) 12 Step Program.
- “People aren’t inherently bad. Most are really good people who sometimes make bad choices.” -Marvin Carter. I love you Marvin!
- The 12 Step Program helped me to learn compassion and love, particularly for people who struggle with addictions.
- Arlington National Cemetery is one of my favorite landmarks.
- I relish the time I get to spend at SCORE. Consulting new business owners is one of the highlights of my month. I counsel 12 new businesses every month.
- I have been blessed with some really great friends. They have helped me become a better me.
- I know that I am going to help thousands and thousands of people.
- I am taking steps to become a professional speaker.
- I am a registered Independent voter. I vote the person, not the party
- No party, race, creed or sex has the corner market on all the good ideas.
- You will rarely make bad choices if your goal is to serve others.
- If I could go back in time and do any job, I would be a Roadie for Van Halen.
- My favorite front man is Sammy Hagar. I had a picture of him in my locker throughout high school (that was BEFORE he joined Van Halen).
- I secretly want to grow my hair out, re-learn the guitar and sing in a wildly successful rock and roll band. I want to wear spandex and chaps on stage and look hot!
- I enjoy most music. I can listen to everything from Motzart to Metallica.
- I took up the guitar when I was 10 because I wanted to sing like John Denver
- I love going to the Opera, my favorite is Parsifal. I also enjoy the symphony.
- It makes my heart go pitter patter when I hear my kids sing lyrics from AC/DC, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. It convinces me that we are raising them right.
- My four sons make me laugh every day and I love spending time with them.
- I worry that one day I will regret not spending more time with my boys.
- My favorite job in High School was driving the brand new Case I tractor for the Iowa DOT and mowing the grass along the country roads.
- I’m not much of a perfectionist. Unlike my wife I can stop at 99 “things about me” and feel content. I don’t need to go to 100...
- I like to have the last word.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
I should give you a bit of background into our dispute by telling you that even though I claim Iowa City as my hometown, I spent my first 13 years in Utah. My wife on the other hand had (up to that point) lived in Iowa all her life. If you are at all familiar with the Midwest, you probably know that agriculture is the driving economy in most states, so it shouldn't surprise you that a lot of Midwesterners are ferocious and talented gardeners. To use a farming phrase, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. That's where my wife's story starts and mine ends.
For Lisa, Spring and Summer romantically meant gathering together at Grandma and Grandpas house to till up the fertile Iowa soil and plant all manner of fruits, vegetables, tubers and other fancy and exotic foods. It was a dreamy, weekly reunion and the whole famn damily would hold hands as they'd hoe row after row and acre after acre of bliss wearing old time straw hats and singing those golden oldies of yesteryear. Ohhh yes, songs about about livin' off the land, puttin' yer back into it and reapin' what ya sow. Such a delight! Why the highlight of the day was shuckin' sweet corn on the cob before hunkerin on the porch for delicious home squeezed lemonade complete with sugar cane freshly processed from the days harvest. OR you could opt for the silky smooth ice tea that had been brewing from the kisses of the suns rays all day long *batting eyes*. For additional fun you could stay inside and make MORE memories by snapping beans with grandma over the kitchen sink. It's what they did on weekends... EVERY weekend. When she talks about it, you almost want to run out and buy a sturdy John Deer tractor so that you too can have corn that is "knee high by the 4th of July."
My family also gardened but not ANYTHING like that. There is a REASON why you don't see farms in Utah. Take for starters, that it's a desert here. That's why no one bothered the Mormons when they first settled up the street... no one in their right mind would try to start a community out here, much less FARM. Hell, even the Indians were smart enough to keep moving. Utahn's do however EXCEL at growing rocks, boulder's and other assorted geological formations. For my parents, (who are incredibly smart) this should have been a cluuuuuuue. But every year we would sit at the dinner table and discuss the need to follow the religious advice of our leaders and plant a garden. After all *key dreamy wife music* a garden builds character, togetherness, love for God's creations and of course, self-reliance. Can you say PARTY?!?!? So each year my mom would agree to a garden but on ONE CONDITION. It needed to be small, manageable, about the size of a kitchen table. A few cucumbers perhaps, some cherry tomatoes and a stalk or two of corn... to the neighbors it would look like we were at least trying. Ahhhh delightful indeed! We all agreed that this kind of garden could be LOVELY
I will never forget the SECOND year we gardened. My dad took me on that fateful trip to Sears with two of our neighbors in tow. They got this BRILLIANT idea to all chip in 1/3rd the cost of getting a rototiller. A rototiller would make it TONS easier to unlock Nature's Nutrients by making the soil ohhh soo much more fertile for our coming miracles. I watched as each man studied every floor model, kicking tires, pulling levers and handles before huddling together like hero's of the gridiron and deciding unanimously on the Goliath 5000 Series Rototiller. It of course, was the biggest model they had and took up half the store. Sears gambled their entire years profit on selling just one unit. I watched with amazement as a 50 foot crane loaded the behemoth crate into the back of our neighbors small pickup truck, immediately lifting the front end completely off of the ground. As we drove down the street people would frantically pull up alongside us screaming that he tailgate was dragging on the pavement and sparks were shooting out from the muffler. One of us would always nicely wave back and say "THANK YOU, THANK YOU, WE'RE FINE!" Since no one in the crammed pickup truck could see anything out the front windshield but telephone wires, my dad had to poke his head out the passengers side window to look down onto the street below and shout instructions to the driver on when to go, when to turn and "BREAK damn it BREAK! You almost hit that kid on the Big Wheel!" I really did see each man grin on the drive home, thoughts of a Fall Harvest dancing in their minds.
The problem you see, is that a rototiller that size can chew up a a plot of ground the size of a dinner table in about six seconds. "Hardly worth the trouble of even getting one" my dad would announce. "Shucks, if yer going to spend that kind of money on a tiller, you should get your money out of it and till up something bigger, say something along the lines of a FOOTBALL FIELD." So off goes my dad, donning leather work gloves, old sneakers and jeans to conquer the world of gardening. Secretly, I think my mother was abhorred at what was about to happen, but somehow she managed to put on her nervous-supportive face.
With all the rocks we had, it was always an event to stand on the patio sipping a cup of grape kool-aid and watch the tiller grab hold of a small rock (about the size of a Volkswagen) and practically launch my old man out of his Nike's and through the handlebars. As the tongs would dig in to the bolder, the five million horsepower engine would groan under the weight, wince, and then violently lurch forward, my dad looking like a human flag as he held on for dear life. Much MUCH later in life, I gained an appreciation for my dads athletic ability to not get flipped over the fence and into the neighbors front yard and grotesquely EATEN by the Goliath 5000. In an ironic twist to this celestial story, a lot of the swear words I now use as an adult where learned as a child watching my dad till up the rocky top soils of Orem, Utah. Of course, dad mostly tilled, us kids had the blessings of hauling "God's little miracles" to the rock pile. In the end, the rock pile was the only thing we consistently grew year after year and in MASSIVE quantities I might add.
I have to admit that by the end of the day we did have a serious looking garden. Neat little rows of STUFF planted, dad pulling out little rocks the size of footballs from the tiller tynes while mom watered the seeds. I can still hear the sweet sound of rocks gently tumbling down the now larger and settling rock pile in the corner of the back yard. Even as an adult, avalanches remind me of gardening...weird!
In our third year of gardening, I learned to breathe the first day of gardening all in because I knew this was as beautiful as it was going to get. The problem with gardening is that *gasp* weeds also enjoy the same kind of soil! In most cases, the weeds loved it MORE than the crap we were trying to grow because the weeds always flourished like sin! So a word of wisdom to all you perspective gardeners out there, unless you are dedicated to dressing and tending to God's wonders you have a great chance of growing weeds... a LOT of em. My family was great at planting but mistakenly thought that the weeds would respect the hard work we had put in and whither away.
So here's the crux of my story. Since weeding is a tremendous pain in the ass, this glorious experience was handed out to whomever was in dutch at the moment. See, unlike my wife's family, in MY family you weeded the garden whenever you got into trouble. This idea of holding hands and singing songs ended the moment one of the other two neighbors came to pick up Goliath to till their own rock fields of heaven. Since I was the one who was getting into A LOT of trouble back then, I spent countless days and nights weeding the $*&#! garden! I hated it, it sucked doing it alone and I began to secretly cheer for every manner of insect to devour everything we had planted, including the weeds. "Eat the lot" I would curse. In these hours and hours and days and nights of deep reflections and soul searching I vowed that I would NEVER have a field of Satan on any property that I owned!
So there you have the polar extremes of our gardening experiences. Every year my wife begs and pleads with me to help her start a garden using new Jedi mind tricks each year. This year the justification is "it would be such a great experience for the boys!" It's hard for me to crush her puppy dog eyes and audible yesteryear tunes playing in her head. To her credit she has worn me down to the point where I am open to HER having HER garden in the corner of the yard. But I won't plant it, I won't weed it and I sure as hell won't till it.
So kudos to all of you green thumbs out there who love to stick your hands in the dirt and make salsa out of your banana squash. I applaud your need to get closer to Mother Nature. As for me, I think gardening stinks and I am more than willing to be inconvenienced by the two block drive down the street to find the sweetest tomato's of my choice at Wal Mart for .10 cents a bucket. It surely beats spending thousands of dollars on MULCH and Miracle Grow to plant a bunch of stuff that I am going to never eat and eventually stick in a brown paper bag to "give" to the neighbors. God bless you Wal Mart, you are full of God's abundance and are evidence that the Almightly loves us. I only hope that in Heaven the Wal Mart is as close to me as it is to me now!