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.

Jonathon was a really fun kid. We met when I became the new Scout Master and in the beginning we really butted heads. It turns out that the "core four" had run out the last three Scout Masters. It was a power struggle for the first few months but as time passed we really got along well. We grew our unit from four boys to thirteen and of those boys only TWO had both parents. Over time my calling became much more than just Tuesday night activities. Some of these guys would come over for hours and Lisa made sure that each one felt like they were a part of our family. They often came unannounced and during all hours of the day and night. One of the things I learned is that I could really find out what was going on in their lives over a big gulp from the 7-11. I became a father figure to almost all of them and I really LOVED my time there, and each one of those boys too. I called them "my kids."

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.

So it was with extreme sadness that I learned one of them had passed. I just felt BAD and I've had a hard time getting past it for the last few months. Part of that changed tonight.
Tonight I got a call from Daniel, one of my kids from West Jordan. In that Ward I was the Varsity Scout Leader to some AWESOME kids. But of all of those kids Daniel was the most volatile. He always had a hair trigger temper (he got ejected from three basketball games one season and had to see our Stake President to get permission to play again. One time he chucked the basketball at the Ref who called him for a foul...) I kept telling him "Dan, you can't do that! All of these kids look up to you and when you lose it like that, you rock THEIR world too. No one will EVER follow you into battle unless they know you can take any punch and still remain calm in the face of extreme adversity."

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

Goodbye Tim

I was stunned to learn that Tim Russert died this afternoon from an apparent heart attack. Though I never knew Tim or met him in person I really came to enjoy watching him on TV. Two months ago I started to Tivo "Meet The Press" as it seemed to catch me up on the political events of the week.

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

Reality Can Be A Heartless Bitch

If you've been following my story at all you know that I have been trying to get back in shape for the last three months. The spa that we go to is really wonderful and there is a good mix of branches, twig and stumps who also go. The twigs seem to gravitate to Abbey's yoga class, the stumps usually play basketball with their kids or soak in the sauna and the branches kinda fill in everywhere else. Whenever I see a large dude I kinda think to myself "Hang in there maaan, I know how you feel." It's kind of a secret high five I give to my big boned brutha's.

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 I've been doing the Yoga and Tai Chi and bouncing like the Kool Aid Man on the Elliptical cycle and over the last three months was really starting to feel really good about myself. So I decided to take the test again yesterday and here's the news. Upper body strength even more awesome, up 28 lbs. Thanks to Abbey's yoga class I improved my flexibility an addition 1.7 inches (I have a super huge disadvantage as I have to stretch over my pork belly...) My o2 saturation still sucks and I have lost 5 lbs I think. My tester could see that I was frustrated as I had hoped to be further along than that. She asked me HOW I was exercising so I mapped it out.

It turns out that the cardio I was doing was mostly all for not. I should have been doing major weight lifting and trying to build muscle again. Since I mostly work out alone we decided to do 6 days of classes and focus on weight training. I agreed and attended my first "no limits circuit training" class tonight. What a croc, they should have named it "bringing you to the brink of death in the first 15 minutes" class. I am completely honest when I tell you that going into that class I felt I was in "decent" physical condition. I play some racquetball, a little basketball now and then, I can do the Elliptical Machine like no one's business etc etc. I was completely DONE by the time "warm ups" had finished. I was sweating like Bill Clinton at a Monica Lewinsky press conference "I did NOT have...."

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

99 Fascinating Facts About Me!

I got this idea from Lisa who got it from another blogger. I didn't think that it would take me long to write this but it did! I had a hard time narrowing down all of the fascinating things about me. So much to choose from! Enjoy and thank you for reading and commenting!

  1. I married my best friend
  2. Lisa is the smartest woman I know. She can hold a conversation with anyone!
  3. If I got stranded on a deserted island, I would die a happy man if Lisa were with me.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. My sixth grade teacher predicted that I would make a fortune selling my ideas to other people.
  13. 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.
  14. After high school I looked Holly up and found out that she was pregnant and engaged. So much for that date!
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Phoenix in business marketing.
  18. I was one of two students to receive a full ride scholarship to Ohio University
  19. I hold two Master’s degree. I have an MBA and Master’s degree in Sports Administration and Facility Management.
  20. I was my MBA’s class president. I was also the only dependable designated driver.
  21. My time at Ohio University were two of the hardest and most rewarding years of my life.
  22. In the summer of 2001 I helped Athens, Ohio field a summer minor league baseball team. They still play.
  23. 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
  24. 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.
  25. From the time I was young I felt I was going to accomplish something really significant. I am just now learning what that is.
  26. I am the oldest in my family. I have a brother and four sisters. Each one of them inspires me.
  27. My family is scattered all over the US but I am in constant contact with all of them
  28. 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
  29. My brother is an ex-Marine. I will always regret not serving my country in the military.
  30. I joined Army ROTC through the Univ of Utah and loved it. I have shot M-16s and flown in Blackhawk Helicopters.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. For my high school graduation, my parents got me flying lessons.
  34. I have flown solo in a Cessna and have not found a rush that comes remotely close to flying alone.

  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. I have never had a speeding ticket, but I’ve been pulled over half a dozen times.
  38. I love to freak police officers out when I had them my drivers license and conceal carry permit for our fire arms.
  39. 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.
  40. On the judges advice I plead “guilty” to fishing without my license and he fined me $15.
  41. My companion and I were arrested in Austria for breaking into our own apartment. We were later released.
  42. 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.
  43. I willingly parked illegally in San Diego in a rental car hoping that the ticket would never get back to me. It did
  44. 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.
  45. I dream of having a summer home in the Alps and traveling around Europe every summer with my boys.
  46. 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.
  47. The water company turned our water off two days after we came home from the hospital with our first son.
  48. It’s expensive to be poor.
  49. My wife can stretch money further than any person I know
  50. I got married and started my first business when I was 25
  51. I am currently working on four businesses and two products. I am hoping to have my products ready to launch this Fall
  52. 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.
  53. I have never seen my dad baffled
  54. Some of the greatest memories I have of my dad are fly fishing with him and my brother.
  55. Nothing makes me smile faster than the sound of both my parents laughing.
  56. 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.
  57. My mom is one of the wisest people I have ever known.
  58. My parents gave me a love of old “classic” cars

  59. 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.
  60. It makes me gag that every car on the road looks like the other. I’m sick of cars that are silver.
  61. My first car was a 1985 Honda CRX. It got 40+mpg
  62. 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.
  63. I am a WWII buff and one day want to go to Utah and Omaha Beach in Normandy, France
  64. Militarily speaking, the only thing the French have perfected is the art of surrender.
  65. I think the P-51 Mustang is the most beautiful plane in the world. I would like to fly one someday.
  66. 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.
  67. I used to have terrible dreams of being chased and beaten. I stopped having those dreams the day I took home my first handgun.
  68. My wife is a better shot than I am.

  69. I HATE talking on the phone. I love email and text messages though.
  70. I have a fear of being homeless.
  71. I believe I could commit the perfect crime and never get caught
  72. I wonder if I will ever be skinny again.
  73. I believe that death is fairly painless. Like someone turning off the light
  74. 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
  75. I get frustrated with people who live the letter of the law and forget the spirit of why we do things.
  76. I am grateful for everything that I have been blessed with. I know more blessings are on their way.
  77. 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.
  78. Some of the most spiritual events in my life have come while working in the (LDS) 12 Step Program.
  79. “People aren’t inherently bad. Most are really good people who sometimes make bad choices.” -Marvin Carter. I love you Marvin!
  80. The 12 Step Program helped me to learn compassion and love, particularly for people who struggle with addictions.
  81. Arlington National Cemetery is one of my favorite landmarks.
  82. 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.
  83. I have been blessed with some really great friends. They have helped me become a better me.
  84. I know that I am going to help thousands and thousands of people.
  85. I am taking steps to become a professional speaker.
  86. I am a registered Independent voter. I vote the person, not the party
  87. No party, race, creed or sex has the corner market on all the good ideas.
  88. You will rarely make bad choices if your goal is to serve others.

  89. If I could go back in time and do any job, I would be a Roadie for Van Halen.
  90. 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).
  91. 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!
  92. I enjoy most music. I can listen to everything from Motzart to Metallica.
  93. I took up the guitar when I was 10 because I wanted to sing like John Denver
  94. I love going to the Opera, my favorite is Parsifal. I also enjoy the symphony.
  95. 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.
  96. My four sons make me laugh every day and I love spending time with them.
  97. I worry that one day I will regret not spending more time with my boys.
  98. 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.
  99. 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...
  100. I like to have the last word.