Monday, December 31, 2007

Bathroom Reading

I was in the bathroom this evening contemplating. I know, what was I doing thinking about anything besides business at hand, especially since there were 40 other people who might need use of the facility? As Melissa says, go or get off the pot. Constipation, it seems, can be mental as well as gastrointestinal.


The contemplating was a direct result of reading in the afore mentioned powder room. And reading the label of a Tresseme bottle to be exact. I will admit it, I am a chronic toilet reader. I have calouses on my bum in the shape of a seat, and have been known to finish entire sections of books while seated on the throne. In fact the issue is so ingrained in my habits the lavatory as lovingly referred to as "The Library". And Melissa knows the very place I refer to when I call it such.

My normal fare for bathroom perusal would be a book (think George Castanza from Seinfeld), a Griotts Garage catalogue, the Holiday Harley-Davidson guide, or Readers Digest. In situ, I will read anything at hand, and that most often falls to reading bottles.

Ammonium xylenesulfonate, cocamidopropyl betaine, for best results lather and rinse, finished product not tested in animals. Reading fare is generally sparse in bathrooms that are not my own, and I have to get creative. I look in the tub. I look under the sink. I open the cabinets and see what is there. There is all sorts of stuff.

People of the 19th century believed that actions aided the digestion. A fellow in days gone by might have been overheard saying "I stroll at night while smoking a pipe to aid the digestion." Or "I do lunges after liverwurst and a single-malt whiskey to aid the digestion". Those fellows might have been on to something. "I read shampoo bottles and toilet bowl cleaner labels to aid the digestion."

The reasons why? Compulsion to read. Pavlovian conditioning. A father who did the same while I was young and malleable. Tonight the reason eludes me. Yet for some reason I needed to share.

-Jay

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I like my ipod a lot. The fact that I can carry my entire music collection with me in my pocket is mind boggling. I used to carry my CD player with me when I'd ride my MTB, swapping out discs as I went. Now it's just a button push and a spin of the click wheel and I am on my next album.

My only beef was the headphones. They made my ear canal hurt after about 30 minutes. Not anymore! I bought a pair of Skull Candy Ink'd Smokin' Buds isolating earbuds and am just amazed at the repsonsiveness. I can run the volume at 10% and the bass is responsive and crisp. The amazing thing is that these were only $14.99 (I scored a pair during Christmas sale for Melissa for $9.99!). They sound like they should be ten times that. Simply amazing. The last time I got value like this...I can't even remember. To top it all off, their warranty is bar none. If you break them--pull a cord off, ruin one of the speakers, step on them, they will be replaced. Simply amazing!

The only bad thing I have found with them is that you will not be able to hear anything else going on around you. :)

Here is their website--they make many other models. Go and peruse and remember who told you!

http://www.skullcandy.com/shop/smokinbuds-p-10.html?zenid=9de19ffd482f81f3d441ac7d5538879a

FYE Superstore has them for $14.99. I suggest you go by and pick up a pair if you are an ipodiophile like myself. They are worth it.

-Jay

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Panacea?

Melissa messaged me today a little frustrated. She couldn't figure out where her photos were which she'd uploaded from her Minolta 5D yesterday. I was at a loss to advise her, as I am new to the iMac, so I tried to help by steering her to the Apple support discussion forum. We poked around a bit, and after still not quite knowing how to retrieve the iPhoto file (it was grayed out, FYI), we gave up.

Thankfully she called in another resource and utilized a friend on her scrap booking forum to find the solution.

What I realized, sitting here, was that I have been thinking of the iMac as a cure-all. The Windows-controlled market is a bit of a one-sided bog. The Windows machines constantly need patches, get attacked by hackers/worms/trojans and as result are usually monitored by resource stealing virus software. I have been using PC's exclusively for almost a decade, and felt ready for a new option.

The mac is happening. Don't believe me? Just watch the commercials. They pit a young hip guy representing the new computer company against a balding forty-something of rotund stature. And the bald guy is a bit slow and out of touch. The hipster in jeans outhinks his pin-stripe suit of an adversary. And he doesn't even break a sweat while doing it.

Who would you rather be? Exactly.

The problem here for Melissa and myself is the learning curve. And it may mitigate some of the advantages for a little while. I anticipate more conversations like today's to occur over the next four weeks. A sort of toe-stubbing while fumbling-in-the-dark experience.

Again, take today for example. I had no idea how to fix Melissa's issue. I also realized that we'll have to fork a little cash out for Mac versions of Office, Quicken, and Photoshop. Not to mention a RAM upgrade. Oy! And to add insult to injury, I still have dry skin! This is not quite the theriacal cure I had hoped for.

Still, I am happy to have the new computer. And this one does seem to have a touch of the fantastic about it. The display is a dazzling 20". The case is sleek, as is the keyboard. And the speed of the thing, even with it's 1 GB of RAM, is astounding. From the moment it's powered on until I hit the desktop feels like a millisecond. Much faster than my Windows boot.

I am however irritated by the mouse. It doesn't track even close to the way my Windows mouse does! I end up feeling like I am picking it up and trying to nudge the cursor along. I have to be quite deliberate at times to get the mouse to move. Not like a Windows box at all in that regard.

The second biggest beef is with the OS layout--it's still a bit foreign to a MS trained monkey like me. Besides the mouse, the only real complaint I have is the strangeness of trying to find files.

Hopefully that will wear off in a few weeks.

All in all, I am satisfied. I do wish I could work out how to get the mouse to be more responsive, and I wish I could get rid of this itchy dry winter skin. :)

The iMac may not own all the attributes to qualify it as a panacea, but I will admit I still get a smile on my face just by looking at it.

-Jay

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

It's been nice to talk with family and friends this year. I've gotten phone calls from Jeff Wolf, Nate Harris, Burke Larsen, and my dad Bart. It's nice to catch up with people, see what they're doing, realize (unfortunately) that I haven't made many attempts at trying to spend time with them, and resolve to do so in the new year. Time slips by so quickly with work and young children, and I find myself skipping on visiting friends, and even skipping going out for that weekly date with Melissa.

It's all about priorities.

Take tomorrow for example. I am going skiing with Dave Blair, Chip Blair, Lynn Stephens, Dave Henry & Jeff Wolf at Sundance Ski Resort

http://www.sundanceresort.com/explore/wnt_ski_report.html

At least it's with family right?

And I must say that I am even appending it--planning on leaving a bit early as tomorrow also means visiting Great Grandma Jensen, the kids opening a few presents, and a Christmas Eve/sleepover activity at Lynn and Karol/Grandma & Grandpa Stepehens' house. History has shown Melissa and I that squeezing too much into 24 hours makes us feel like being put through a wringer. So we're spreading it out over two days.

Christmas day will involve Christmas Morning at Grandma & Grandpa Stephens house (again Lynn & Karol) to open presents. It's a pretty big shindig, as Meliss & I (and our 3 kids), Dave & Kara (and their 4 kids), Lynn, Karol, Jake and Tyler all will be there. The Christmas tree looks pretty amazing with about a hundred presents around it. Christmas afternoon we're planning on eating and sitting around in a state of giftwrap-induced torpor. Late afternoon we'll head over to Dave & Toma's house for the Blair party, a traditional gift exchange played to the tune of Steal The Gift You Want. You may know it as Chinese Gift Exchange or White Elephant. I Googled it, and found a Wikipedia article that even mentions a few others. It reads like a Mel Brooks laundry list, a bunch of a.k.a's that cover just about all the demographics:

"...Yankee Swap, Red Sox Swap, Thieving Secret Santa, Dirty Santa, Scrooge's Christmas, Scottish Swap, or Thieving Elves..."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_elephant_gift_exchange

Our variation limits the gits to being stolen to two turns. This has virtually eliminated any potential bloodletting and makes for an interesting show. The only rule is that it needs to cost approx $15. And with my brothers this makes for some interesting gifts. Thankfully, the feminine side balances things out, and as a result the gifts range the gamut.

It is a fun time had by all.

Christmas night, we plan on sleeping. Ma in her kerchief and I in my cap will both settle down for a long winters nap.

-Jay

Thursday, December 20, 2007

OK, I Had to Post This One...

I had to. Think of it as yin to the yang. A serious post followed by a funny post. :)

http://www.vml.com/handbellhero/

Rock on! Er...handbell on!

Jay

Amen Roland! Read On...

This post was on the "Sound Off" section of CNN, by the contributing author Roland Martin. All I can say is wow, and amen. This statement is a great stab at the idiocy of political correctness. And it's given by a passionate Christian black male, a writer/journalist for CNN.

What have we done to Christmas???

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/20/roland.martin/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

My favorite part of the article:

"I know that may sound strident, but it's true. We spend an inordinate amount of time focused on shopping and buying gifts, but really, what does any of this have to do with the birth of Jesus? We have families all over the nation killing themselves to buy a tree they can't afford, running up their credit to buy toys and other gifts, all in an effort to make someone else happy."

And

"Parents, don't be so consumed with the notion that your children will have a terrible Christmas because the tree isn't overflowing with gifts. The true love that you show them is more important than anything else."

I hereby call the forum for discussion open.

-Jay

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Best Pizza In The State

Monday night for family night, we went to Salt Lake to grab a bite to eat and see the lights at Temple Square. Originally, we'd planned on eating at a fast-food joint, but Kara, Melissa's sister, suggested we go to The Pie. If you've never been, you really need to go. It's a pizzeria in the basement of a pharmacy right next to the U of U campus (approximately 13th east and 2nd south, near Kingsbury Hall). I know the idea of eating pizza below an apothecary sounds a bit unappetizing, but it has had the honor of owning "Best Of State" on several occasions. No lie.

The atmosphere is fun, if a bit cramped-- you place an order up front near the door and when your order is ready, they call out your name over the loudspeaker. The place is a bit odd, and in truth the facility is wanting for more space and less of the dive feel to it. The brick walls have 20 years of names scrawled on them. The low lighting and the throbbing music lend it that college food-joint feel (which indeed it is). And unfortunately the bathrooms add to that tangible ambiance. The real reason for coming however is the food. The pizza is bar-none. They use fresh ingredients, gourmet cheeses, excellent meats, and fresh veggies. The result is amazing. 

I have eaten the following pizza there:

Chicken Ranch
Chicken Alfredo
Canadian Bacon & Pineapple

The last time prior to Monday night was during the Olympics in 2002. I definitely plan on not letting ti take that long again, especially now I know they have a location in South Jordan (amongst others). 

Their website?


Go. You know you want to...

-Jay

Saturday, December 15, 2007

We Got One!

So...we got one!

I went down over my hour-long lunch break and braved the 2 million Utahns who were all stuck in the University Mall parking lot. I made it to the Simply Mac store, and a bare 15 minutes later, they'd run Melissa & My app, gotten the paperwork together (did I mention 12 months interest free?), and I was walking out the door with a 20" 2.4 Mhz iMac. And I was only 9 minutes late back from lunch.

Wow this thing is a beauty.

I am debating opening the box here at work, I'd really like to have Melissa present, and perhaps snap a few pictures to mark the occasion.

Looks like I'll wait then. So it's off to the break room to get extra napkins for me, as I plan on salivating constantly for the next 2 hrs 10 minutes until I'm home and can open this big ol box. :)

-Jay

New Computer Dreams...

So. I am ready to migrate from Winderz to OSX. Melissa and I have been wanting an iMac for about a year. We love our iPods, love the idea of not having to deal with spy/malware, and it's time for a new comp. Granted, we could get by for another year or so with the Dell Inspiron 9200, but it's three years old and a bit slow, even with the 2 gig memory upgrade shot-in-the-arm I gave it.

S L O W. And don't even get me started about Vista.

We're trying to decide which model iMac to buy. I am thiking the 20" 2.4 Mhz, just because the processor is a bit nicer, the hard drive is bigger, and the video card is 256 MB instead of 128 MB. The down side I read is the video card on the 20" 2.4 is the Pro instead of the XT (but, as I just discovered, none of them, except for the 20" 2.0 come with that XT). I believe the difference may be a non-issue for what we're going to do with it.

http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/wa/RSLID?nnmm=browse&mco=7B723646&node=home/shop_mac/family/imac

I just called up our local Apple store, and they are running the 12 months interest free promo starting today (we were expecting it to begin Monday). I am going to go down over lunch and see if I can walk out with the 2.4 or 2.0 20" machine.

I will post pictures later!

-Jay

Friday, December 14, 2007

What to Tell Your Boss Next Time You Call in Sick...

My Children The Terrors

Hyrum to Maddy "Hey, I'm bored. Want to go take some eggs and smear them all over the floor?" Maddy to Hyrum "Yes, but if mom catches us, both of us will deny it ok?" Hyrum to Maddy "OK, even if you get spanked on the bum, keep yelling 'It wasn't me! It wasn't me!'" Maddy to Hyrum "Wow, you are brilliant! They will never know what hit them. Go get the eggs! I will color on the TV with this blue Crayola crayon while you climb the gate and open the child-proof fridge latch. GO!"

It's totally true. In the past few days, the Christmas lights have been adulterated and broken, pop-tarts have been partially eaten and scattered all over the front room, eighteen eggs pilfered and broken on the carpet, and the TV colored on four times. My children are creative and devious, and the moment they're left alone for more than fifteen minutes, all bets are off as to what they'll do.

Hyrum to Maddy "Wanna make a flame thrower and light dad's motorcycle on fire after covering it with paper-mache form mom's good scrapbook paper?!?" Maddy to Hyrum "Yes, but if mom catches us, both of us will deny it ok?" Hyrum to Maddy "Ok, hurry and poop your pants too ok? Then walk all bowlegged and we'll pretend we couldn't have lit the bike on fire since we can't even walk straight. They'll never know. I'll get the propane, you get the glue and paper."

The only conclusion my anger-fired brain can come up with is that the kids know we are now outnumbered three to two since Miles has been born. They have a sixth sense about when mom is preoccupied in feeding the lil tyke, and they know it is time for mischief. They suit up in Kevlar, pop on the infrared goggles, and jumar up and over the gate, skitter across the kitchen floor, pop the latch of the fridge and dig in. Last week Melissa made a couple dozen sugar cookies and the kids all colored and decorated them. Normal you say for a Christmastime activity? Absolutely. Until Maddy fed eight of them to Stryker, our Boston terrier. The dog is only 18 lbs, but will gladly eat until he pukes. I know, I've cleaned it up before.

Maddy to Hyrum "Wanna stage a sit-in when Dad gets home and pops an aneurysm after he sees the mess we made?" Hyrum to Maddy "YES! I will pretend to be incapacitated and watch Spongebob, you say you're poopy and walk like a cowboy. If we totally ignore the mess on the floor and TV, and just respond with 'No!' to every question Dad asks us, it will be just like Gandhi. The system will grind to a screeching halt, and we won't get taxed on our textiles or salt any more." Maddy to Hyrum "Brilliant! I am pooping now!"

I am sitting here shaking my head. Sound too fantastic to be true? Don't doubt the story. Because my Melissa just messaged me and told me they are at it again. The two of them just ripped up the four page letter I wrote to my Grandma Blair (aka Ma'am), and most likely blamed it on their six week old brother Miles. Oy! To add insult to injury I haven't written her in probably 5 years.

I am already thinking military school, maybe pineapple picking for the both of them. At the very least, an lifetime of indentured service to me to learn the fine art of back and foot rubs. Yeah, that sounds pretty good.

-Jay

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Seriously Out Of Shape

I was able to go snowboarding with two of my brothers (Dave and Dan) and a few of their buddies yesterday. We all piled into my burgundy Suburban and I drove us to the Salt Lake Valley/Big Cottonwood Canyon and finally to Brighton Ski Resort.

http://www.skibrighton.com

We were participating in a Quad Wednesday, a promo the resort runs a few days in December to gather food and clothing items for the homeless. Yesterdays promo was to bring a hat, gloves or a blanket, and get an all-day lift pass for $14. I love riding at Brighton, and look forward to the trip each winter--even at $55 a ticket. So the chance to get in a ride some of Utah's best hills at a reduced price was too great to pass up. I brought two Utah Jazz beanies purchased from Walmart, and happily paid my $14 to ride the lifts. And ride them we did. I believe we got in 16 runs, despite the hour-long break for lunch.

Dave and Dan are speed demons. I like to cruise and take my time, more of a moderate speed kind of guy. The snow was perfect, fast and smooth, even where it had ben chopped up by the masses or populated by moguls. Our cold weather these past weeks has been keeping it from melting and forming any ice chunks, instead, it is perfectly granular and consistent, infact it felt absolulely ideal. The powder under the trees was deep and unconsolidated seeing as it's still early in the year. I got to enjoy some of that (mostly getting stuck and hiking out of it) but the most enjoyable of all was the corduroy. The grooming was perfect, and surprisingly, we got to cut into it well into the morning before the crowds showed up. What a gift.

The only downer of the day was my legs. I am out of shape, and the last 7-8 runs of the day really wreaked havoc on the ol' lower half. In fact, after the snowboard trip, I was sore to the point that lifting my legs felt stiff. I hobbled around for the remainder fo the evening, and today the effect still lingers in my calves. Alas for the sedentary nature of a desk job!

Here's a parting shot, a nice bit of corduroy to illustrate for you what I got to ride. The picture is nabbed off the web, as I went sans camera yesterday. This stuff is so fun to ride on, especially when it isn't icy! :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Reading Update (Wow, Two Blog Posts In One Day...A Record)

Here's a reading updae for you fellow nerds. In case you didn't read the EW article I read today, it's now pretty cool to be a nerd...So put on your glasses with the taped nose piece, some fuzzy toe socks, grab a tatty blanket and pour a cup of tea for a good read. It's too damn cold to do much else.

What I've been reading:

Confessor by Terry Goodkind
Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (Thanks Andrea Frandsen for the recommnedation!!)

The Foer book is the strangest and most achingly beautiful book I have read in quite a while. It is seriously worth the read guys.

-Jay

Tasty New Pipes

Here is a picture of my new pipes...they should be delivered shortly (currently sold out, I have emailed Vance & Hines and asked for an ETA).

Dan and I pulled off the stock set the other day after I rode home in the frezing rain (I know, riding in Dec, no complaints...).

I am pretty stoked to have the new set, hopefully my bike sounds like a Harley now, not just a plugged up Cali emission bike. :)









Friday, December 07, 2007

A Game Called Grow

So...one of my colleagues named Ben introduced a game to us here at work that won some awards a few years back. And it is frustrating as hell.

If you click on this let me apologize to you first. It is addictive. The gist of the game is to "grow" the items in order to max all 12 out. Strap yourselves in astronauts, and good luck. And no cheating!

http://www.eyezmaze.com/grow/v3/index.html

I have gotten 8 maxed out, Melissa the same. Augghhhh!

-Jay

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gene Wolfe's "The Book Of The New Sun"

I've gust finished a cycle of books called The Book Of The New Sun by Gene Wolfe. They were started in 1981, and I have never heard of them whatsoever until I stumbled onto one as a staff-pick at the Orem Public Libtrary http://lib.orem.org/ To admit the series has astonished me would be an understatement. Instead, as the author doubtless hoped, an entire world opened itself to me. It is both ancient and new, terrible and kind, symmetrical and incongruent.

The premise is one of a firsthand telling--a young man is benig brought up in a guild. He is part of a declining civilization, and the sun is dying. It is Earths future, some million years ahead of our time. Our people have reached out beyond the stars, yet decayed and lost that ability for all but a very few. Instead, our civilization has deteriorated to something hybrid--a mix of the old and the new.

I won't bore you further with more explanations and allusions, but I will say this. Wolfe has woven a tapestry of words that holds its own along side the Bayeaux.

Well done Gene! Thank you for the gift of your words...

-Jay

Friday, November 23, 2007

Up To Date

I ran into Nate Harris at Walmart on Wednesday--Dan and I were getting some stuff for Thanksgiving, and I paused while a tall guy was leaning over to pick some groceries out of his cart while balancing a toddler on his hip. It was Nate.

We talked for ten minutes while we stood in front of the automatic doors, directly in front of the empty carts, directly in front of the carts the customers wanted. I realize now that we must've been in the way, but no one commented on it. And we talked.

It was nice to catch up, I haven't seen Nate since Paul's Birthday party some three years ago up South Fork. It was the same old Nate, and yet not. I think time does that to us--keeps us the same boys we were, yet adds to us. Makes us more responsible, develops us, makes us older.

Dan and I said our goodbyes, Nate and Landon headed for home, and Dan and I to brave the crowds in the store for pie ingrdients and potato chips.

Thanksgiving was nice, we had it at Anna and Darren's house in Mapleton. Their house is enormous, and I was able to retire with a book to the basement and a blanket and enjoy several quiet moments of tyrptophan induced reading. My two mobile babes ran and played with their cousins, the littlest slept upstairs where Melissa worked knitting a rug. The sounds of Hyrum and Madolin playing with the other cousins are fresh enough now, a night later, that I still can hear them.

Today has been thankfully quiet. I've tidied up my case backlog here at work, and enjoyed reading some two hundred fifty pages. I will admit that I turned to my ipod to drown out the conversation of my co-workers (which I find exasperating as trhey debate round and round in cirlces), the music tending tot he softer tones--The Tanhall Weavers, Enya, symphonic.

And now I begin the last fifteen minutes of my shift. Two more days of work, hopefully quiet and passing as this one was.

The title alluded to e catching up on news, as Nate requested in part of our conversation, so I'll stab at it once more. Melissa and Miles are doing well, albeit Melissa and I are sleeping less having to adjust to Miles' two-hour appetite. We are excited to have our family grow, and are still adjusting to the idea of being outnumbered. Hyrumis drawing/cutting/taping everything he can get his hands on. Madolin is fast becoming the princess of the manor, and absolutely loves to copy everything her older brother does. Both kids enjoy holding Hyrum, and often ask to do so. He is going to ahev to fight for a cratyon in our house, but he will be loved by his siblings.

Work is going well, I have been here four months. I have also re-started selling plasma at PCCI, behind Sizzler in Orem. It's nice to have some cash on hand and see a movie while doing it :)

Time to go home and then to a movie. Looks like we're going to watch Enchanted. The animated/live action movie about fairy tale folk exiled to the real world.

Funny, but it feels like today should be Monday, what with yesterday being a day where the family all got together. It was really nice to see them all in the same house, it's been months since. We all may not agree with the same politics, religion, or what have you--but we all love one another. And all of us being together for dinner is the best thing I could have asked for.

-Jay

Friday, November 09, 2007

A Jot and Tittle of Titles

Books I've read in the past few weeks:

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
Beowulf
Eragon
by Christopher Paolini
Eldest by Christopher Paolini

I am excited for the next of the Eragon books (called the Inheritance Cycle, cycle for the fac that it consists of four volumes). I will have to wait until fall of 08 for that. Thankfully Goodkinds book Confessor is arriving at the Orem Public Library (comlpiments of my own request) on or about the 20th. It is released on the 13th of this month.

Perhaps the family will go by the O.P.L. tonight and see if we can find some new titles. I've heard about the Elfstones of Shanara series, as well as Dragonlance.

Any other book series people are really liking?

-Jay

Thursday, November 01, 2007

He is here...Miles Daniel Blair.

Melissa and I are loving this time with our new baby boy. He is a cute little blonde thing, blue eyes like mom and dad and bro and sis. He's got my lungs, mom's fingers, Hyrum's nose, Maddy's haircolor, and all our hearts.

We're still adjusting to the new routine. Top that off by Maddy being sick with the croup Hyrum had last week, and the receipe adds up to some sleepless nights. But the changes bring new opportunities to us as a family.

Right now I'm pretty tired. Thankfully work is kinda slow. I don't have any picts posted, but check out Melissa's blog and see the cute lil guy!

Later,
Jay

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tomorrow Melissa goes in to be induced. The 5th member of our little family is going to be joining us in the world! We've decided on Miles Daniel Blair for his name, and both of us are decidedly ready to see how little Miles looks. I for one hope he looks like his mommy. :)

Will he have the mischievous grin like Hyrum? Will he have the cute little nose and full lips of Mommy? One thing is for sure, he will inherit the exuberance and over abundance of energy of daddy. Both of our kids now inherited it, Miles is slated to be no exception. That is unless Heavenly Father wants us to have another...He could give us a mellow child. Oh who am I fooling. I will take them and love them any way they want to come.

Seriously though, the anticipation is killing me. Melissa and I both express it in different ways. Melissa worries a lot, and I clean a lot. Between the two of us, there is not a speck of dirt in the house, or a scenario that hasn't been puzzled out.

It isn't like we haven't done this before--this is baby number three, and should feel like old hat. But for some reason it doesn't. Perhaps it's the fact that for once, the parents are outnumbered by the children. Perhaps it's the idea that we'll not be able to feed, clothe, and shelter them all sufficiently. Perhaps it's the fact that every pregnancy is different, every opportunity to bring a new soul into the world a new unique moment.

And so we worry. And we clean. Antacid and cleaning rags are at a premium in the Blair household these days.

Miles Daniel Blair. It has a certain ring to it. He'll be named for his Great Grandpa Miles Stephens (and also his Grandpa Lynn Miles Stephens), and his middle name is going to be after my bigger-than-me younger brother Daniel Bruce Blair. He was going to be Miles Teancum Blair, middle name after one of my heroes from The Book of Mormon, who was a champion of liberty, but this naming of him after my younger bro just feels right. My brother is one of those people who when you meet him, you immediately like him. He is honest and open, has a gift for talking with people, and has one of the most giving hearts I have ever known (Dan never reads my blog, so I am no laying this on thick at all). He is one of my favorite people to be with (when I am not deciding to follow my true taciturn nature), and is truly on of my best friends (I really only have a mere handful--Melissa, he and Lynn).

Naming children is an extra special thing to me, and I know Melissa feels the same way. We are quite lucky, I suppose, in the way that we're mutually able to come to a name as easily as we do--Hyrum and Maddy and Miles' names all came in ways that are pretty special (not going to really talk about it here on this medium). Each time I hug them I know they are amazing little souls. I have such great hopes for each of them!

I'm here at work, whiling away the hours till tomorrow when we get to go to the hospital. Things have really come together for us in regards to insurance, I found out on Friday that I did have an option to elect coverage, including pregnancy, within the current time frame. It post dates a bit, so money will be tight for a month or two, but the major lump of the expense will be covered by the insurance. Truly amazing to me, and in the nick of time.

So, I'm excited and ready for little Miles Daniel to arrive. All the newborn stuff that was packed away has been re-opened and is ready for use. His bassinet is ready in our room, the car with a 3rd row of seating is in our driveway, and a little white tuxedo for his blessing has been laid out on the shelf by mommy's side of the bed. It's time to step out into the unknown and have a little faith in Heavenly Father. Time to let the family grow...

-Jay

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I aint perfect but I gotta keep tryin
I really mean it, ya know I'm not lyin
These days 'round me seem so blessed so real
fancy ribbons twisting how I should feel

Wonder where we'd be if everyone's self saw
those hidden bits 'bout us really aint flaws
nuthin nuthin but the best of us do,
ready-able to discuss somethin true

So baby baby don't you do no more sighin'
it's part of livin', that's what love is for, flyin'
rollin' and rockin' on a sunny ol' path
'times the failures add to justify the math

Just strech your hand out and take hold o' mine
hey baby baby, all around us be fine
the mortgage's creepin and the dr. is due
ain't nuthin' wrong with this shade o' blue

Let's toast a new one, 'cuz it's you and it's me
we got the babies and we really are free
life ain't 'bout the stuff that we could have get
it's 'bout gettin' happy to spite the lurkin' regret

So keep on kickin' while the bull is behind you
you got a red flag, but a cape and some tricks too
we togther gonna make it, and soon we be flyin'
I really mean it, ya know I'm not lyin

-Jay

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Last night the house shook. We'd had a storm front roll in. It had started with the cold autumn rain, but developed into fat wet snowflakes as the temerature dropped. And before I knew it, my intermittent peeks through the banks of windows at work spoke of the potential yield of a winter wonderland sneaking past fall's visage.

That was still during daylight.

I do recall the sounds of the storm buffeting the house through the night. Still with me are the small sounds--gusts popping on the eaves, sporadic shreiks of wind in the swampcooler, the thump of our metal pumpkin door hanging. But not much prepared me for the paradigm that followed when the door opened to the morning after.

Melissa and I sat together and ate warm cereal for breakfast--she had oatmeal, I grits, our feet stacked up on one another. She summed my feelings perfectly in one succinct sentence. "I'm not ready for winter yet" she'd said. I chuckled and nodded and we ate in the odd morning light streaming through the window, a trillion prisims in our back yard.

I drove in to work, gawking at the transfiguration. The snow had caught most trees unawares, the unwitting still had their leaves, pregnant with fall expectations. They now stooped heavilly and were painfully bent under their load. The tame places so deliberately carved by people were now wild--trimmed trees were overgrown, shrubs now hairy, once gardens now grottoes for sprites. Sidewalks, the classic footprint of man, peeked through the new jungle of growth above them, their fragments of pavement little oases in the creeeping sweep of branches. I pulled into the parking lot of work and gawked. The three closest aisles of parking stalls to the building were at an impasse. Three aisles worth of trees were too stooped with snow to allow my Suburban to park. A few inventive compact drivers had found haven between brances, stalls be damned, but I reversed, and parked several stalls away (it is my usual style anyway). I made my way, still rubbernecking the entire time, an arrow to the glass double-doors and the badge reader that would let me in.

I felt a little juvenile, and smiled at the thought, as I detoured to stoop under the perfect stillness of the loaded-down trees. Their wild tresses swept the ground, and the canopy of leaves felt a cathedral--buttressed, frosted, holy. I stared a moment, under the transfigured fronds. A momentary transmogrifcation, as if the proximity came and took me within it's sanctuary, screen, shelter.

Gifts, I decided then and there, come at us in unexpected ways. They can be quiet, like a still morning of warm cereal and stacked feet. They can be holy, like a moment under a canopy of God's flags and branches. They may even be borne to us on a shreiking wind. But they always seem to require a little detour on our part. A little effort by us to check our speed and stop to really see what God is trying to tell us. Because then He'll speak to us in the most unusual ways.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I have been hiding my talent under a bushel.

"What?" you might say aloud, your brow furrowing in confusion. The strangeness of the idea of me hiding anything, especially if you think it while visualizing me telling some crazy-stupid story and laughing out loud at it all by myself just won't allow it. "Jay has nothing to worry you might think he has an odd sense of humor, but he is a hard worker, moderately sucessful, and the last person who could be considered a bushel-hiding-talent-monger" (I love long hypeny words, me using them would make my 6th grade teacher Mrs Furner proud). And so you'd find yourself speaking aloud again, even though you are all by your lonesome. "What do you mean?"

Well , let me first tell you that wrinkling your forehead like that is only going to encourage age lines to start forming on that lovely head of yours, so just stop it. Right now. That's better. Have a seat on my leather psychiatrists chair, take off your shoes, muss up your hair and relax. The doctor is in.

When I was a small boy, wedged sometime after climbing that ladder up to the roof and finding myself tethered to a tree in the front yard, and the seventh grade, I realized that something was amiss. I realized that some folks just didn't appreciate the various talents God gave us. Mine were anything that involved skinning my knees, scraping a few more contusions on odd places on myself while lcimbing in and around and through things, and scavenging the fridge and pantry for food after my two teenage brothers had been there (let me tell you sometime about getting inventive and making ketchup cheese and wheatbread pizzas in the oven).

Yup, some talents just never get appreciated. True, this tale isn't sad, for if you know me, you find that God has blessed me in ways that I never expected. I was an Eagle Scout (love you Mom!), I got pretty good grades in school, I didn't kill myself those half dozen times I dove off/blew up/wrecked, I married an amazing woman (who I feel must be under some complex bewitchment, I am truly astounded she chose me and I got to choose her), I have two-point-nine amazing kids, a well-paying job, and I get to do things. Most guys can't claim to do and be half the stuff I can.

Yet I still feel like I am a person who doesn't share his talents. Nope, not very oten, sometimes not at all. Particularly the ones that I hold the closest in my heart, the closest in my dreams. Mostly, it's because of the same lil ol Jay and the same ol lil feelings. Back then that I didn't have the cool acid washed/pegged Levis and a Gap shirt. I ddin't have the cool pump-up Reeboks, or Nikes. I had the hand me downs, the on-sales, the conscious efforts of a dad and mom who were worried about trying to provide a home and food for seven kids on a steelworkers wages. Add to that that dad wasn't too savvy with the pocketbook, you get the picture. Truth be told, I am not the best at keeping ahold of my money, but experience has been a patient teacher if there ever was one, and I have been learning these past 15 years.

Rewind to seventh grade and Nephi, UT. Back then, Nephi was a very backwater place--think Smallville with no Superman, Arcadia without Zeus. And we moved in and stirred the pot a bit if you will with going to school there for a semester, then being bungee'd out to homeschool. It was like being cast to the fringes. I became a member of the mildly-despised, non-school attending few. It was not fun. I knew all the kids who lived around me--what kid doesn't grow up in a childhood neighborhood of their own where they can walk the streets blindfolded, and point out their schoolmates houses purely by smell (try and do that as an adult for a laugh sometime). Torry lived in the house with the blue siding, down the street with the creek running past it, next door to one of the two city mail carriers. My best friend lived next door. His house also had blue siding. I should have known from the siding he'd be trouble (just kidding Louis, if you ever read this). My best friend was a really giving kid. He and I were nearly inseperable over the next couple of years till public school began for me again (highschool), and I'd proven myself to mom that I was ready to go back and get some good grades. Still, I don't think his mom thought I'd ammount to much, especially after I'd thrown a rock from my hand made leather sling straight at a bird, yet missed the bird and whacked her new beautiful blue siding (hey it was 1993, give the color choice a break, it matched the custom van they had--pastel blue siding, pastel pink van).

So, all the rambling aside, what is the point? Trauma. Silly trauma. Thankfully there were moments in my growing up that I've come to find defined me. That eagle scout award I got two weeks after I'd turned thirteen. The day I got my leterman jacket before anyone else in my enighborhood. Singing a solo at the regional finals when I forgot all the words, then got all fired up and when we performed again ten minutes later, our small-group won. The way that new friends seemed to come out of the woodwork when I decided to forget being worried. Moving back to Orem and working at Storehouse Markets. Dating, working hard, paying for my own bills, trying to get ahead by my own hard work.

So all this business of even caring about being ashamed and hiding my damned candle under a fruit basket is wrong. I am not the kind of person who does that. It only leads to short-sighted self pity. It leads to missed opportunities. And so, leaving you at the end of this long-winded rant, I conclude with a statement.

Life's too short to keep lighting the wick of that candle and hiding it under a fruit basket. Next time I feel mlike it, I am going to break out my brother's halogen construction lamps and light up the night. If the light is too bright, then ya'll can go sit in the basement. Because I'm here to stay.

-Jay

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I just finished reading the tenth book in The Sword of Truth series. I could say so many things about these books, instead I will merely touch on a few of the themes. There's the juxstaposition of the horrors in them with the ideas of reason and goodness, the concept of doing good for goods-sake alone, and the idea that we choose who we are and define and defend that idea daily. Phantom, the latest (until Nov 13th, when Confessor is released) installment in the series is starting to tie up some of the loose strings. I wonder how Mr Goodkind will finish it. I'll suppose I'll find out in November. He has created some fine characters.

I heard some sad news. Some of you may know that I have been reading a book series called The Wheel of Time. I was intruduced to the series by a colleague back in late 1997, and have read it numeous times. I have intruduced others to it, and followed the progress of the series through the years (I remember seeing it be read by a friend Stephanie Nelson back in 1992 in 6th grade). The sad news I heard is that Mr Robert Jordan, the author, passed away after fighting with cardiac amlyodiosis. His work, has affected fantasy writing on many levels. Much of what people believe to be terms used interchangeably in the genre were his brainchild. I still mourn the passing of a great literary mind. He died Sept 16th.

Not much else to say at the moment. Work is going well, I am learning (with a little help from Above) a whole lot at work. I am enjoying sucess at it. My family is prospering. My family is growing. Life is good. Now is a time for me to re-focus and strengthen, to re-evaluate and look to fortifying. And for that I am thankful.

-Jay

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

For James Lowry at work, here is an excuse for me to post up all the books I've completed since my last reading post:

Island of Ghosts by Gillian Bradshaw (would make a damn fine movie)
The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley Holland
Master and Commander by Patrick OBrian
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind
At the Crossing Places by Kevin Crossley Holland
King of the Middle March by Kevin Crossley Holland
The Pillars of Creation by Terry Goodkind
Naked Empire by Terry Goodkind
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
Debt of Bones by Terry Goodkind
Chainfire by Terry Goodkind

Hmmm...this list does seem a bit small. Certanly smaller when I sum them up in a mere nod here. Overall, the books have been very good. Each has held some nice suprises, Holland's books are decidedly for juveniles yet quite meaty, Mull's could be categorized the same. Bradshaw is a gem. Read her works and you'll not be dissapointed.

Anyways, post up the books you have been reading!

Jay

Friday, September 28, 2007

My New Bike



So...I got a new motorcycle. Yup, I am a bit crazy. Yup, the one I had before was just fine. But now I have a smile on my face like I'm a four-year-old with a shiny brand new penny in his pocket and narry a cloud in the sky.

Melissa is amazing and supportive about my passions and interests, defending them as she would defend her own, and I in turn do the same for her. It has always seemed this way to me for us, that we bend together in the winds of change, adapt, grow, learn. On top of that, my wife is one damn hot woman, and she is my best friend. And believe me that isn't the new motorcycle speaking.

I've had the flat black and chrome motorbike for nearly three weeks now, trading in my 2005 883C Sportster for an even exchange against what I owed, and I'm past the real giddy stage. I've never owned a brand spanking new vehicle before, never felt the break-in period of a new untouched, unspoilt engine. I've never breathed in the heady smell of an engine setting it's own rings while I was astride it. It is odd--a burning of something not quite exhaust, not quite oil, but something quite a bit more. Tangible. Intangible. It is found in heartbeat, viscera, dilation, wind, earth, fire, steel, chrome, rubber. It awakens some great sense of freedom and flying, something imbued into my bones at an age where I learned to pedal a trike and then a bike, yet still speaks through this iron weight of ballance and speed.

So I do wax all philosophical about it. I do believe it is somewhat of a malaise, this passion for everything HD brand. My garage is being overrun by bars and shields. My closet overtaken by all these black and gray shirts. My bicycles slowly being sold off to be replaced by another bit or piece of something new, an accessory, a passion.

It really is like riding my mountainbike, or carving the perfect arc across the tarmac on my roadbike. The motorcycle slices through the turns, zooms around corners, rumbles, spits, and strolls, leaving me feeling akin and breathless, wondering at the vista life presents in the everyday. Revelations like this just don't happen much in a car (well, maybe if it were in a 2008 Black convertible SS Camaro, cruising down highway 1 on the oregon coast...). It must be the fact that it rolls on 2 wheels.

Wanna see it? Sure. I can get a picture posted for ya. I took a few back at home, but from work I will have to post up a link to one from the dub dub dub. A generic. Sure my bike is stamped with a serial number that is about 20 characters long, and was built by hands on an assembly line, but it's mine. And the fact that it's earned by my own sweat and labor, makes it mine again.

So it sits about 60 lbs heavier, about 12 inches longer, it's displacement about 800 cc's larger, and it's a heckuva lot more comfortable. The passenger seat is ready to rock for Melissa, no longer will her toosh be subjugated to a hardpan seat. It has a six speed tranny, is all blacked out, and is everything I liked about the Sportster (specifically handling and agility) and then some.
So that's about it. I once again must say my wife is most definately a babe. An uber-babe. Yes, maybe I am a bit biased, but I thought so quite clearly before she let me get an upgraded motorscoot. Now I know what a babe she is! And what a lucky stiff I am.
-Jay

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cha-Cha-Changes

If you, like me, picture David Bowie singing this song, then good on ya!

I am at work at the moment, enjoying a lul in the hubub of being a new engineer processing cases. NetApp is a fine company to work for, and I plan on learning about 1.6 billion new things in this position. At least...

I have so far trouble shot three different types of filers, and looked at things in perspectives with eyes freshly peeled to a new frequency of Mhz previously untunable to me. I feel as if I have been rewired in my thinking of system operability, and given a firmware upgrade if you will.

This past weekend Melissa, the kiddles and I were able to spend a few days in Hyde Park helping Beck & Bob to move in and hanging out with Jim and Angie. It was a nice bit of R&R, and was a prime example of someone doing some half-split troubleshooting. Background: I flipped the A/C on my Suburban to full blast a month ago during an especially hot day and the thing just fizzled. I had no idea why, only knowing I'd checked that the charge on the refrigerant and it was full earlier in the month. I figured it was going to cost me about $200 to get it fixed. Boy was I wrong. Jim and I looked it over on Sunday, the weather being pretty rainy and us wanting to do something fun out in his 3000 sq foot shop (and a very droolworthy shop it is). He started to troubleshoot the issue, having me start with fuses and moving systematically along the line. We found out there had been a connector short out, and after the old one had been removed, a new one pinched on and wrapped in electrical tape, the fan turned right on. Moral of the story? A bit of brain power and a few minutes saved me $200 bucks. That is good troubleshooting.

So here I sit, at a desk, helping folks with filers that serve terrabytes of data at great expense. And I want to emulate Uncle Jim. His coolheaded approach to troubleshooting, his haf-split method of finding the problem, and his easy fix. That, my friends is a technician for you. Jim is a technician.

I don't have much more to say, not in this post anyway...I will post again soonish, updates tot he family are coming along, I have gotten a new Motorcycle, I have been reading like some sort of crazy person, and Melissa and I are considering a move to a new city. But for now, think about how you approach fixing something. Is it done in a logical manner? Can you try things that eliminate other possibilities? Together we can benefit one another in our troubleshooting skills.

Jay

Saturday, September 15, 2007

If Narcissus Were an Altruist...

It starts when we insinuate
and then we callously cachinnate
to spark life into all these bold words

Then we mockingly genuflect
around our own self-respect
really bowing and scraping to pride

We languidly masticate
as we verbally masturbate
and pompous, wrap mantles of airs

Oh really how we self efface
all sense snugly self replaced
Ho vision! Ho thought! Bid adieu...

Stay pride and steady tongue!
silence mouth's gaping bung
and wash 'way all hastily spoken words

Let Passion's coursier stay
teamed to Reason's implacable way
a bracered tandem of wills

And tongue and mind together
will stay the tiller through weather
lo wisdom and life's far shore!

JRB
9-15-07

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Autumnal Antistrophe

I heard the crickets tonight
their lingering voices the
passing thought of summer.

It was cool out and the sun
had set hours before and
the equinox drawing ever closer.

Less than two weeks to go
till autumn and summer pass
with a grin and a nod, cousinlike.

And so I mused for a while
on the strophe of the vernal season
and the antistrophe of fall.

Both voices echo, magnified
their resultant strains reverberating
magnavox, the ampitheater of my ear.

Sing on honest! Sing on uncolored!
unfurl your passing paean unchecked
but for a season by winters chill!

Only later wake, ope budlike eyes
and sing, the newness of spring!
But tonight together our words whisper.

Tonight I heard the crickets sing
their voices lingering there
summer passing thought.

JRB
9/6/07

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's 00:14 & I Am Training.

Sitting here at work. The training module was shorter than anticipated and the other modules we don't have access to quite yet. Result? Webcrawling. I call it webcrawling because that is what I do--uninspired (for the most part) and weary dub-dub-dub trolling for things that interest. Ebay, HD, Apple, an author's site, news of the nights windstorm, anything to distract the fact that I'd rather be home in bed asleep. Or reading one of the novels I have from the Orem Public Library.

So I contrast the mundane moments I am currently lodged in with a day of involvement and movement.

Monday was Labor Day. Melissa and our little family met up with Grandma and Grandpa Stephens, and Dave and Kara and their kids, and we went to Thanksgiving Point to see a 3-D Dinosaur show and walk the Discovery Childrens gardens. The wading pool was pretty cool, check out Mestebla's Blog (the hyperlink is located to the left) for some fun pictures. We ate at Iceberg, a place I had previously only partaken a shake or two from (I had a pastrami burger and some fries both to die for, though the ambience was lacking--think peeling wallpaper, sticky floors, and a very dirty bathroom with loudly proclaiming signs that the lack of paper towels and TP was due to "customer misuse" and they weren't going to restock them--yup, punsih the normal folks who need to wipe their bums, just because you are cheap). Later the guys and gals split up to go to Cabelas and Ikea, and their respective interests. The fishtank was the coolest thing by far, some of those fish were monsters.

It was 4:30 when the Blair family got home, footsore and a tad sunburned, and all of us took a nap. I did some yard and housework, nothing really fantastic or frisky, and felt plain ol' satisfied with the days outcome.

It was a few hours later and Melissa pronouced a dictum on the days events--she mentioned how nice it was that we had gone out and done instead of allowing the day to slip by and mention at it's end with a sigh that we could've done something else. The key word in the thought being a verb, the resulting state of our day became a noun. Satisfaction.

Talk about a bit of juxtaposition, when slated against tonight's "training". Yes, I am a bit tired. Yes, the mug-shots on my colleagues computer from thesmokinggun.com are funnier because of it. Yes, Monday was a great day. And it's days like that which I live for.

That and the resulting closeness of being with family all day and feeling like I want to be around Melissa, Hyrum and Maddy even more.

That's what it's all about.

-Jay

Monday, August 20, 2007

The First Day of Forever

I start with NetApp today, in a few (61) minutes to be exact. What am I feeling? Slight aprehension, yes, due mostly to the unknown (not due to feelings of incapacity). I am hopeful, cognizant, open-hearted and minded to this new oportunity, a tad excited to stay sanitarily sparkling clean in my labors (versus becoming sweaty and smelly), and oddly a bit out of place. For six months I have been a night walker, sleeping in the daytime, living at night and the wee hours of morning, finding myself operating under the false light existence of halogen lamps in a warehouse environ of the 24 hour workday. Four of the past five days have allowed me some acclimation, so the shock of rising with the rising sun is minimized somewhat, but I still feel like a part of me is cringing, beliving they are to wither away in the daylight.

Instead, here I am. It's 08:05 now, the stomach is rumbling a bit for it's morning fare (although the nachos I ate last night when Dan and I went for the impromptu motorcycle ride out to visit my sis Beth, her hubby Jody and their two boys Taylor and Mason surely left me with enough sustenance as it was post 9 pm nosh). The dog is pout on the landing, most likely squinting in the morning sun, I hear his feet padding on the planking, impatient to come back in and eat his breakfast. Yesterday I got after him a bit more harsly than usual and he walked around me quite unlike himself more than usual. A man can only take having his strawberries dug up so much, and the poor dog has been at them near a dozen times this summer. The thing which set me upon him with a bum swat and a large lecture (involving him being told to sit and stay for near ten minutes), was a hole dug in the grass and a ruinous chewing on Madolin's bottle. His poor ears had positively wilted after the tongue-lashing I gave him, and he crept about me wondering if I wished he had never been born.

So I need to call him in in a moment, give him an extra scratching behind the ears, and his morning breakfast. Boston Terriers are notorious for being sensitive to the moods of their owners. Emotional dogs if you will.

08:13 now, and b'fast is calling. Here's to a new day and a new job!

-Jay

Friday, August 10, 2007

So I am Job hunting.

Mostly because I am burt out on working graveyard shifts, but also because I believe the ensuing circus of rules and drama from an environment based on Union labor agreements is asinie. It creates and fosters hostility by pitting the Union leaders against the management and by creating odd rules like being able to file a greivance (for example, Joe called in sick to work and his 600 parcels still needed to be sorted. Betty has a different job description, but she did Joes work because the boss asked her to. When Joe comes back to work he can file a complaint, or greivance, because Betty was doing his work. Joe gets paid penalty money for the greivance as well. Talk about a tangled web). I also see 59-60 year old men who are retiring from the USPS from 30 years of clerk work. They walk about like cripples. No thank you. So, I hunt.

I went back to my old place of employ, and had two interviews. I also had a phone interview and may head back there, albeit not as a manager, but as a technician who troubleshoots (see http://www.netapp.com/ ).

For an undegree'd lout like me, who is struggling in the throes of lower-median income, the USPS provides what Medicaid considers an "excess of income." Melissa and I tried to get Medicaid to cover the birth of our 3rd child, but they replied that with the OT I was working, it was not an option. It is a bit of a quandry then, as we still rent, yet trying to burst through the glass ceiling and get into a house keeps slipping away. "Have less babies" you might say. "Go back to school" you might knowingly chivvy. We are making progress. Gone is the Jay who would put something on credit, long gone after paying off each balance and burning each of those cards gleefully. In truth my better half and I are very close to becoming first time home owners. It just hurts when knowing the good old government teet is available for folks who make 5K less a year for covering the costs of L&D. Also, I believe more babies and schooling are in my cards. So boo!

Yes, I have been stressing out about it a little lately. And the job, and the hot apartment, and the tomatoes being picked (all of them) by my obstinate and very cute two year-old, and that I am being asked to be an assistant ward clerk, and that my landlord keeps baiting us along with promises to fix things, but never does.

Whew. That's a lot of pent up emotions. I feel better.

Thankfully, there are moments of beauty in all this ruckus. Like last night for example. My younger brother Dan and I rode our motorcycles over the Alpine loop at 1:30 this am. The milky way was so bright when we stopped at the summit trailhead that I could almost touch it. The date Melissa and I went on on Wednesday night, a movie at PTC to see Bourne Ultimatum, then just tooling around afterwards for about 30 minutes. That same night, being able to write and edit a bit in my book. Then Thursday again, catching my Father in Law who is out of town in Seattle on a business trip, & talking before he went to sleep. Finally, sleeping in this am and yesterday (and every day since I work so late--Thank you Melissa!).

These are some of the things which I am thankful for.

Most of all, I thank my Heavenly Father for my health--so I can go and do and work and hope and think and breathe, and be. So this life I live can be utilized to try to move forward. So my family can have bread on the table, and garnish it with a digital camera, some oreos, icecream, beds, W/D, a new Mirowave, new silverware, new plates, a new (to us) car with a 3rd row of seating, a dog, tomatoes to pick, chairs to sit on, a roof overhead, and hope for the future.

I don't know where exactly I'll end up fitting in jobwise as of 16:39 today, but I have faith that Heavenly Father will lead me to where I can not only be happy and satisfied, but that it will be a job where I can provide and prosper my family. So I am content. Faith proceeds the miracle, and we are paying our tithing. It is in God's hands.

-Jay

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Work Sucks and Then You Blog

I woke up after another "night" of ten hours sleep to Melissa looking at some blogs belonging to her friends. There were lots of them. I came to the conclusion that some folk must live to blog, and probably are the same ones who wear shirts that declare 'Live To Blog' or some such.

I just blog. Sporadic, not very insightful or crammed with receipes, maybe some of my weirdly perceived altruisms, or a declarartion or two, perhaps a yawp or three. Basically, the blog format for me is an allowance for thre metaphorical B.M. I can write and let the words blossom and come to fruition, then pass on to another idea or thought or comment on an erudite idea.

For that, the blog is fantastic.

Ad on top of it all, folk who know me can view it and comment--calling me out for posting shyte, or supporting a thought with a thought of their own.

So, this lil blogger, who doesn't live to blog, simply blogs. Amen!

Back to the title of my posting. Ugg. Work is hard. I sleep alot. I am thankful for being able to provide for my family, and shouldn't murmur, Lemuel-like, but I do. I try to minimize the murmuring, realizing that we are working to getting ahead, but I feel like I am in a bit of a catch-22. I am a casual employee, and to become a regular, I need to take a test and score at least in the 90th percentile. If I pass, I could get hired on and make $5 more an hour for the exact same work I currently do . I woud really like to move out from my airconditionless and unrepaired-except-for-what-I-fix apartment, but am a tad intimidated at the fact that housing is so damnned expensive. Even if I get a modest POS home, for example the one I rode my motorcycle 30 miles to look at last night, which was inhabited by folk I could only identify as crackers, and needed new everything, I'd be paying 1,100 a month. That was for a home built in 1902, right next to commercial businesses, and needing at the least, new roof, new walls, new insulation, new windows at the cost of $149,900. Ouchie.

So I have been a bit sad to realize that home ownership is going to come at a very big sacrifice to Melissa and myself. We've been preparing, paying off and closing out 4 of our outstanding bills/cards.

I need to remember that old addage, 'Rome wasn't built in a day', and remember too that Rome was built by slave labor. Just kidding. Patience is the key. So I shall finish with the words from a Hymn which you just might recognize:

"Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side; with patience bear thy cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; in ev'ry change he faithful will remain. Be still my soul: thy best thy heavn'ly Friend. Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end."

Love you all, thanks for reading my blog.

Jay

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spartacus

I just finished reading Spartacus, by Howard Fast just a few moments ago...wow, what a compelling look into humanity, particularly into Roman civilzation and slavery.

I must first say I never have seen the Kirk Douglas/Lawrence Olivier movie, produced in the 60's. I picked up the book only because I saw it on the shelf labeled staff picks at the Orem Library and thought it would be intresting. It was.

The beginning is a bit slow--the author does need to set the tone and he does so compellingly. I was a bit embarrased in the protrayals of homosexuality, but realized the author is attempting to show a facet of the Roman decadene. He dives into the society, unapologetically, and thankfully his narrative is not in the least bit as dry as a history lesson. In fact the method of delivery, one of retrospect and memory counterposed with live action (and delivered vis-a-vis by several charaters) is refreshing.

We see both sides of the coin of slavery, and I realized from the introduction, that Fast wrote it partially as allegory for our modern day "Romanesque country", America. He was considered to be one who fraternized with Communists, and was even imprisioned by the FBI in the 50's. If anything for me, this lent a more natural feel to the book.

My words are mere comments, the language and spell of the book stand on their own. The internal dialogue of David the Jew, the internal dialogue of Spartacus, and the transformation of Gracchus all were quite fantastic.

If I may sum up a master work in a few terse words I will say the book is compelling. It compells one to consider the vastness of the Roman empire which was built by generations of slaves. It paintes clearly the hundreds of years of conquest, of enforcing Roman law and order, and of the supression required to build up an empire. Rome destroyed millions of people to make itself.

This is truly an amazing work, and not in the least amoral (as I had initially thought--I do believe the author cast some moments quite luridly to peoperly set tone for the type of people we were reading about). Per the author, FDR apparently reused to allow it to be published, as the author was labeled a Communist, and he had some ulterior motive. I will admit the message of the story is a bit idealogical, a sort of "run away and join a commune and sing koombaiyah and share everything" feel to it, but the other message is quite clear. Man is meant to be free. And for that picture, the book is exceptional.

-Jay

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Summer Reading Part Deux

More summer books!

First I'll list the completed ones since the last book posting:

Artemis Fowl and The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer
The Wolf Hunt by Gillian Bradshaw (a real gem of a book, based on a 12th century poem by Marie de France)
The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen
The Sand Reckoner by Gillian Bradshaw (fiction, based on the life of that illuminated Greek mathematician Archimedes)
The King of Elflands Daughter by Lord Dunsany (fantasy fiction written very early in the genre's infancy--the work has been compared to "drinking a fine wine")

Next I'll list the ones I'm still reading, but not in situ (hah!):

Synagogue by HA Meek (scrapped reading it 8/4)

Finally the yet to start titles:

Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret by Obert Skye
Teracotta Summer by Gillian Bradshaw (correction, not Gillian, but Anne, and I scrapped reading it 8/4)
Spartacus by Howard Fast
Harry Potter and the half Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

What are you reading these hot muggy days?

-Jay

My Soul's Declaration of Security

If it is to be, it is up to me. I will not shirk responsibility. I will not leave my family. I will stand at my post, and accept my calling--husband, father, son, friend. I will live my life and be exceptional. I feel that God has marked me to do something that will bless my life and the lives of all my family. If I will heed the spirit, and do what I feel to be Gods will for me, then he will make something of the clay of me, the essence and mean and material of what makes me, me. I will not go quietly into that dark night! I will stand and allow my Heavenly Father to shape me into something exceptional. I choose to do my best, that when the scythe comes whistling through the grass with a sound of dread, I may stand tall and know that I am more than I am here, this flesh and organ and hope. I have in me the clay taken by the gods from the amphorae—one handful of good and one of ill, yet tempered by the spark of the spirit, the One True God’s spirit in me.

I am not afraid of love. I am not afraid of loving others, allowing then to come so very close to my heart and hurt it and hurt me. Christ was the one who showed me that I don’t have to be afraid, that this body of dust and motes will be resurrected. That all sin stems from pride—foolishness over lust, greed, selfishness, fear, untruth. If I know that I can fight it with love, what can stand in my way?

If I am truly open as Heavenly Father sees me, if I allow all men to see God through my eyes, how shall I act? Can I reflect His image?

I was born to greatness. Heavenly Father expects a certain success from me, both temporally and spiritually. If I lie to myself, and think "drifing through life" is the answer God has for me, I will miss out on these things. I will not know the joys He has for me now, and in the eternities to come. I am laying the foundation of a mighty work in my own life. In my former life, I laid these stones in spirit, now it is time to physically wrestle them into place, to chip at them with sore and bloodied hands, to shape them, form them from their rounded worn faces into the ashlar which will strenghten and shore up genera of my people—reaching infinitely far forward, and streching equidistant back. My Father in Heaven desires for me to become a steward who knows who He is, who myself is, and to excel using this knowledge and the talents He gave me.

I know in my heart that Heavenly Father, knowing what his children would do and face, gave each of us a soul like a satchel. As we came to earth, he handed us our bodies (and this with our spirirt makes up the soul), and a carefully selected knot of problems. We took these, along with the gifts he gave also (those that we may have learned in that premortal realm, and those we would be allowed to learn here). “These” he said to each of us, blessing us as we were to go “are the things in your life that will make you great. Go to, and forget Me, my son Jay, knowing that you are a child of God the allmighty. Go and grow to be like Me, now you are like Me almost, yet unexperienced and untried. Go to, I will lead you back to me. I have prepared a way for all men to return to my presence. Using these gifts and these problems equally will teach you how you can return to me. I know the beginning from the end, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the way the truth and the light. Your Elder Brother, whom you have loved and known these aeons shall speak for me, as My intermediary. He is also your advocate with me. Yet, I will not leave you comfortless, for I will send you the Holy Ghost, a lamp unto your feet. Go to now, go to your birth and to your forgetfulness. This life will be one where darkness will blind you, passions will dull you, appetites will feel unslaked, and hope replaced by despair—yet, if you will, you can find a glimpse of your Heavenly Home, if you seek me out. Seek me and you shall find me, as the compass turns to the true north, so shall ye find me. If you look towards me in everything, not just when you have need, I will lead you.

Go to, with these problems to juxtapose your talents and enlarge your capacity. These things which the world calls odious will you call blessings when we meet again.” In my minds eye I can see him hugging me and weeping, knowing that some of his children will never understand, that I might not understand, and that even his valliant ones, the warriors, could even lose hope and fail. Yet I know He loves each one of us, and He loves me, and he wants me to choose and to grow. And so I grow.

I choose to this day be exceptional. I choose to make my life into something that He would be proud of—when the mists of darkness enshroud my minds eye, when the crippling niggles of self doubt assuage me, when the winds and waves toss and threaten to sink me, I can feel inside of me a voice commanding me to “Be still!”

I am a child of God. He knows me. He knows what I can be, he knows my wealth and my potential, greater than all the treasures of the earth. I was bought for, paid for my the blood and life of the Son of God! Lo, each of us was bought by the life of the Son of God. Even if we don’t believe it, even if our hope is dead, and our passions are biting us oh so fiercely. You and I are known. We were sent here not to fail, but to be great. Our Father, our spiritual genetic sire, created us. We have greatness all throughout ourselves! It is so much a part of us--as much a part of the self as one's own leg or arm. It is a limb we may never recognize, never develop and exercise. But it is there.

We were not created when two rocks struck together, we didn’t ooze out of the primordial slime. We were spiritually begotten, and we wear a veil that witholds our sight from the presence of Heaven, which is in reality all around us.

Our Father wants us to succeed in becoming even like He is. His hope and love and desire is for this. Oh my Father, thou that dwellest in the high and glorious place, let me feel thy love and thy hope for me, one of your sons, this day and every day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Confession of a Reading Mind

I have been devouring some books these past four weeks, and wanted to post a quasi-log here.I will not be posting my thoughts of each work beyond a paragraph or so. Sorry, my analysis is not going to be logged verbatim here. I will however, as I said mention a brief synopsis of each book

So far read in the past month:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by JK Rowling (All her HP books are very good!)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
Hary Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
The Spaces in Between by Rory Stewart (Excellent, read below posting)
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (Best EH book, period)
Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer (Good ideas here, similar flavor to Foundation by Asimov, or to Ender by Card)
Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obrett Skye (Excellent first two chapters, felt somewhat fragmentary. His descriptions of the characters were well worth the read)
Kokopelli's Flue by Will Hobbs (Very nice story, told in a first person, felt like recapitulation or an oral epic)

If you look at my titles, you just might be wondering what the heck I am trying to do here.
I am working for a ballance between the informative and the adolescent, in effort to condition my own mind for the opportunity of creating my own work of fiction (of which I am currently working, there...the cat's officially out of the bag). I have grandiose dreams, an amazing spouse, a true passion for literary works, and a burning desire to just see these darned dreams come to fruition. Between that, and the feeling that the hand of destiny and opportunity is on me, I feel like I am going to succeed. I have convinced three folks, who posess excellent critical thinking skills, into being my pressing proofers--they will have their red pencils sharpened and one or both of their eyes beady in preperation. Thank you Melissa, Lynn and Kara for being my guinea pigs.

For the other two-point-five of you who read my blog, I can promise a copy when it has been kneaded out into somehting worthy. Till then, I am off this damnable internet (save for an occasional trip to find a synonym) to hammer out some more of the tin of my book.

-Jay

PS

Please post up what you've been reading this summer!!

-Jay

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Summer Readings

Two weeeks ago on Sunday I was at my Father-in-law's house for a luncheon to celebrate the birth and blessing of my Bro and Sis-in-law's fourth child, a daughter. The get together was quite nice, the food tasty, the conversation lively, and the impromptu reading I found myself doing from the National Geograhic Adventure magazine (you can read the article here http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/photography/afghanistan/rory-stewart.html ).

This led me to pursue the book at the library on my next day off, but I had forgotten the title. The librarian was extremely helpful, despite the fact that Melissa and I were holding two very squirmy and voiciferous children in the toomblike adult section. I described the book and she did a search for it (I am assuming it was a Google search, as she pulled up a hit for Amazon.com). She gave me the ISBN number and directed me "to the second shelf back on the left". I found it and began reading it on breaks at work, using it as a treat to look forward to every two hours of shift.

The book is a real suprise. It's narrative flows quite well, softening the blow to the reader from the culture shock. I was not familiar with Afgan culture at all prior to this and found the mix of historical and day-to-day engaging. He writes with a connection to these peoples--speaking their language, walking their dusty and snowy paths, eating their simple food, drawing their portraits, and being their guest. His honest humane notions and his keen observations are shocking at times, but never distressing. This book will be a reference for the years to come, an almanac of the region of Afganistann in the post 9-11 Al-Quaeda years.

I appreciated his approach with tying in the ancient history of Babur's march to Kabul across the middle route in winter to his own. I appreciated his references and footnotes, and in giving us the marrow with the meat, he is allowed to complete the thought instead of leaving us hanging, disinterested and unengaged in the ancient history.

Finally, I wanted to mention is courage--the book is rather self-effacing, but his courage is keenly shown in this quest he comeplets. I am rather a timid fellow, generally reserved and taciturn, but Rory showed me his mettle, and all it required, if I may generalize, was his frankness. He was honest, he was determined to complete his task, and he told people about it all along his travels.

Finally, the entire journey was juxtaposed with the closing paragraphs in the epilogue. This was a journey that never could have happened in Brittan or America, no, this was a transmigration if you will, through the very soul of the Afgan people. He carries it off beautifully, and I believe I've found a real gem. Read it, you will not regret it.

-Jay

EDIT 7/9/07

In my haste to post my own musings about Rory Stewarts book I neglected to mention the title. It is The Spaces Inbetween. Now go to you library and enjoy it!

-Jay

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Plea

I do not want to reach the end of life
And say that I had not liv’d
(So quick am I to look back at it all and count it for naught--
Will you help me live it here?)
I heard the song of a robin today
So early in the false dark dawn
It’s liquid voice coaxing the newborn sun
And ceased its ablutions before the light fully came
It’s namesake, an application to understand.
To what have I an owning of purpose
My Love and children, aye and aye,
But more—to birds, and sky and trees and all
Of things, which quickened by numen,
Both articulately and noiselessly rejoicing.
Perhaps I’ll regret a thing or two
Times missed or omitted due to hybristic boyishness or sin
But God, He knows about these things, And laughingly
He’ll sit with me and tell me how He was once like I
Life is one eternal round,
‘n eternal quintessence of things which be and were and can
Spirit and constitution, wreathed together, all touching
All connected, all of our souls together.

-JRB

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Musings About the Big Two-Niner...

So I turn one year from thirty in just a few hours...My last time alloted to me by God on this earth as a twenty-something (go look up Jamie Cullum and the self-same song title if you want to hear soem great musicianship). Where to begin? I didn't believe I'd be where I am today, on the road to sucess smack dab in the American Dream, 2.5 children, a dog, several bikes, a car, a motorcycle, a washer and dryer, and gadgets enough to shake a large-ish stick at.

Waxing pilosopical? Maybe. I just watched "In Pursuit of Happyness" starring Will Smith (no ailens pop out or get punched, blown up, etc), and the movie struck me and fell into the pantheon of other select films titled: "I never thought I'd watch it, but I did and I liked it". The trailers were sappy, the plot felt, well, dull. The idea of it just seemed pitiful. But the film delivered with some real power to me--Will Smith showed a depth and realism that was touching. The director, an Itallian named Gabrielle Muccino (find out about him here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0610831/ ) was selected for his emotionally touching work by Smith personally. Long story short, they met, they worked together, Muccino directing Smith and the outcome producing something exemplary. Just watch the features on your DVD to catch a great bit of vita and Sognio Americano!

Yes I am living the American Dream. I dip myself into it each and every day, wrapping it about myself and wafting sweet smelling scents it's bounty. I live a life that has been juxstaposed by the sheer apathy and entitlement of those around who only feel the need to get more, more, more. I am in a land blessed by many accounts, a land that tries to adhere to democracy and truth, which tries to put down opression, yet is not perfect. A land where families have 3 and 4 car garages, more clothing and food than we need, all the education anyone motivaed to get it can, a nation which tries to live by peace.

It's 3:40 am, and I am not making myself clear anymore. Yet I wanted to write something, so I could give a tiny thanks to my ancestors who left hearth and farm and everything known to travel here in search of The American Dream. Your jigs and reels stir my soul, and I feel as if I almost could touch you now if I were only able to strech out my arm just so--your names feel so quick to want to come to my tongue, yet the words do not form. To your bones I sing a song, to your spirits I offer my grattitude, and to who you are I offer what I am and can be.

-Jay

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Going Postal

So this am marks 60.25 hrs in 6 days of work. Holy overtime batman! The USPS tracks their week a bit differently or tomorrow I'd hit the 70 hr mark in 1 week...that is a lot of work!

I was at work tonight in a bit of a snit, tired and more tired, letting "fatigue rule my life" as my older brother Dave Blair would put it. I was cussing up a storm at the DBCS #2 and the unfairness of the way my break had worked out--it shook down something like this: there were three folks who called in sick or absent today, and we were quite short handed. I was scrambling after lunch to clean the 150 or so bins assigned to this particular run in order to go on break (as the machine would continue to run and no one would be sweeping it, just one individual to load--all 32 k per hr, 8 k for you math whizzes). I went to break to enjoy my momentary leap into the cold war and The Hunt For Red October, not really thinking about what I'd be coming back to.

It was mayhem.

Do you know those folks who seem to think they are doing a fine job at whatever they are doing, yet they are really not? I think of them as stuck in the "bubble of self delusion"--a nasty place to be and the only way out of it is to pop it themselves. Well, the fellow loading was "in the bubble." The machine, my machine, was smattering mayhem all over my well-tended work area. Yes I am jealous of my work area, and yes, I do periodically urinate on the corners of the machine to mark boundaries and keep the other clerks at bay. :)

Now, I do not know where the fine line between tourettes and rapid controlled cursing is at, but I imagine I was flirting with it. I spoke a few choice words and then a few more, working my way through the Jayrubler-Coughs model (it's similar to the Kuebler-Ross model, Google it sometime), and eventually accepting the inevitable. This was a pile of &*%#, and I was in that self-same pile of &*%#, and I'd have to dig my way out of it (and so I did).

I came home this am and read the blog of Lynn, my Father-In-Law and it was right up the alley for today's exploits, yet on the other end of the spectrum. It's a good read, and you can find it here (The posting I reference is Responsibility):

http://www.lmstephens.blogspot.com/

My mother would say "When the student is ready, the master will appear", and so it would seem I took a message from his posting. Thank you Lynn!

And to all you day-walkers, I wish you all a good night. 0650, and I am heading to bed

Peace, Jay

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Recent Revelations & Discoveries

In case you are not abreast with current events in Jarubla's life (besides the great news about the next Blair), I have changed careers and now am employed by the federal government. I am a postal employee!

I have been hired and sworn in (just like US Presidents past), and daily toil with the pith of Americanism. I work on a machine which can run up to 39,000 pieces of mail per hour, and I feel pretty tired at the end of a 10 hr shift. I sleep lots, I work lots, and int he meantime I get to spend a few glorious hours with my better half and kids.

I am a casual employee, and what that means, besides the fact that I can wear bluejeans (hah!) is that my hours may vary (though the workflow is such that 50-ish hours are to be expected) and I can only work there under my job description for a certain length of time. The post office is represented by a union, and they have some odd rules. I have to admit, I am seeing a whole other side to the union issue. As a side note, there a rules for getting around the length at work thing too, my understanding is that I could be re-hired, just under a different job description after 1 week.

So it is my quest right now to, 1, work my butt off and learn everything I can to create a marketable force of myself at work, and 2, take the test and become permanent or full time or whatever the term is.

But the opportunity is very great. There are tests to take still, and the pay, vis-a-vis (to what I am currently doing), would be ennough enticement for any red-blooded bill payer to try and become a permanent employee. On top of this tasty banana split are things like government pension, excellent medical/dental, PTO and sick leave.

Now on to the discoveries...I have been reading quite a bit as of late, and listening to a some new (and not so new) tunes at work (I bought an ipod shuffle, 2nd one, as 1st was sold to one of my siblings). Some of the things I have really enjoyed are:

Books

-The Chronicles of Prydian by Lloyd Alexander (a series of 6 smallish books, childrens classic)
-Mary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn Meyer (story told from the perspective of Mary, daughter of Henry VIII)
-Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (A first read, fantasic, Bradbury's absolute best--puts the others of his works to shame!)

Music

-S&M by Metallica
-Straight on 'Till Morning by Blues Traveler
-The Cold Hard Facts by The Del MCcoury Band
-Train if Thought by Dream Theater
-Farmhouse by Phish
-Classic Cash by Johnny Cash
-Master of Puppets by Metallica
-Empire by Queensryche
-Me and My Gang by Rascal Flatts
-Any and all albums by the artists known as Steely Dan
-Diver Down by Van Halen

The suprising theme behind the general facade of all these books album/CD/MP3 (whatever the hell they are called now adays), is one of rich marrow--of human experience, of love, of growing up, of anger, fear, sorry, joy, pain, hope, valor despite the mundane, and the importance of life.

I've run longer than I should and waxed not nearly poetic enough...forgive me (and go read SWTWC!)

-Jay