Monday, March 31, 2008

Paul,

Today, I feel for ya. I can actually feel for your statement a few days ago about winter still being around. Blech...

One look out the window today, especially if it were a look taken earlier this morning would have shriveled the most stalwart spring soul. The wind was blustery, the piles of snow on the car consolidated and crunchy, and the roads icy. As I was chipping the snow from my windshield this morning, and vainly trying to warm my pinchingly numb fingers, I realized how silly the situation was. "It's supposed to be spring!" I yelled in frustration. My spittle flew and my face went beet red.

OK, well maybe not. But I sure wanted to.

I finally got the car scraped and warmed up, then tried to turn onto the street I take to work, but was stymied by a solid stream of creeping cars. Each occupant was driving 8 miles an hour, an unspoken prescription, with a precisely spaced braking distance between them. My turn on 12th north, usually navigated in a blink, took almost two minutes. My fellow commuting brethren, bogged down by the ice, crept along in a steady stream. Thankfully I was able to merge in a gap, and wend my way to the office.

Old man winter fought back today. The gloves were thrown off in this 11th round of fighting, and we had a seeming relapse in the progression of the equinoxes.

And tonight we're slated for a low of 21 degrees. This appears to be a longer match than I anticipated. I shouldn't have put all my money on the kid in the green shorts. The old guy in white has a left hook that's just plain nasty. He can send ya reeling when you're busy sniffing the daffodils.

Although, this makes me glad I've procrastinated planting the garden. It also makes me hungrier for days of blue and green, birds and warm air and BBQ.

Someone once told me that if you can't talk about anything else, at least you can talk about the weather. Today's post is evidence of that.

And on a final note, how about that sunshine today! If you're like me (part plant), you need to go outdoors and soak a little of it up. The last few days have been overcast, and if you can, get out to see a little partly cloudy blue sky. That is, if you can bear windburned cheeks--just don't blame me if you misinterpret my behest and get put in jail for streaking :)

-Jay

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You Say Unicycle, I say...

Pain. In the groin area.

Day two of the quest for unicycle mastery has yielded some sore inner thighs this am. Chafed if you will. The banana seat with the handle on the front is not the most comfortable thing for repeated fails to the pavement--but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Yesterday at Anna & Darren's house Dave, Dan & I played with our nephew Blair's unicycle. Long enough to get sunburned outside while doing it. It is a kids size, 18" wheel, doesn't extend real far, a cottered crank, and pretty heavy. But we caught the bug. Enough that when Dave found one on the local CraigsList, he called me up this afternoon and got me to come with him to Provo to check one out. With my 3 kids mind you, that's no small feat. He ended up buying one (a glittery black model) from a BYU student who'd tried for a month to master the thing and failed. Poor college kid, stick to the studies. Better to have tried and failed than to not have unicycled at all.

His loss was our gain. When we got back to Dave's house, he set to work trimming the exorbitantly long seat post to a size more fitting for the inseam of moderate height we Blairs possess. A little more air in the tire, and we were off--falling with greater ease than we'd ever thought possible yesterday. The new unicycle, a Torker, is aluminum, has a cotter-less crank, and a BMX style sealed-bearings wheel. Talk about smooth. It has a certain grace about it as it tosses one to the pavement repeatedly.

We must have fussed with it for about two hours in the street, Dave's neighbors came out to hang out with us and even give it a shot in the gathering dusk. Toma, amazing sport that she is, happily held my youngest son while we big kids played. My two other babies were camped indoors, festooning paper with faces and colors. They missed it entirely when my two brothers and I watched, drop jawed, Dave's neighbor Keith step right on the unicycle after not riding one in thirty years. He calmly and smoothly pedaled up and down the street. No flailing of the arms, no jerky movement, no sudden loss of locomotion with an abrupt voilent toss tot he ground. Truly amazing.

My kids also missed the whooping and hollering when we figured out that the best way was to sit loosely on the seat and balance with the feet instead. I kept thinking of Chubby Checker and the lyrics of The Twist echoed as I swiveled my hips to keep pedaling. It worked.

Unicycling, it seems is a love/hate sort of thing. We had several of Dave's neighbors stop by and mention how much they liked them, but never rode them. They mentioned they'd lilke to try and did try a few times, brave souls. There were others who saw the unicycle, even enjoyed the spectacle of several adult males flailing like marionettes in the street. But they ran away screaming, elbows akimboo and aloft above their heads, at the mere mention of them trying it.

Dan, Dave & I were determined to master it, and I can see how a few more weeks of trying we'll be there. I just hope the soreness factor wears off, as bruised inner thighs from trying to stop the the rough forward pitching motion aren't the most comfortable.

But hey, at least we're getting marginally closer to to figuring out the unicycle. And such innate skills are the things I can really fall back on when the resume just doesn't seperate me out from the crowd. "Hey, I can ride a unicycle! You think your workload balance is heavy? Watch this!" And if I can just add juggling to the act, man... we're talking definate President of something...

-Jay

Monday, March 24, 2008

W.O.W. and My Easter Weekend

I work with a bunch a World Of Warcraft geeks. They talk about the game as if it's reality. This is very annoying at 06:00, especially when it goes on for over :45 minutes. Talk about too much too early! Normal human beings on the Monday after a holiday weekend want to sleep at their cubicle when waiting for a call to come through. Not listen to a rant about how great their fantasy gameworld is. :)

Mammas don't let your babies grow up to be WOW'ers
Don't let 'em play consoles and live fake ol' lives
Make 'em be social and date their poor wives
Mammas don't let your babies grow up to be WOW'ers...

Grumpy Jay is tired this am.

This Easter weekend was nice. I did come in to work on Sunday, due to schedule change, but Saturday was great to spend all day with Melissa, and Sunday was great to hang out with my brothers and sisters at Darren & Anna's house in Mapleton. Dave, Dan & I tried to learn how to ride a unicycle. Dave & Dan became very good at it, pedaling about 15 strokes on their best attempts. Becky, Chip & Michelle, Beth, Dave& Toma, and Dan were all there. Mom was home sick (sure missed her), and all our kids were running about the place having a great time. The Easter egg hunt was really great to watch, the adults and some of the bigger kids hid eggs in the front yard, and the little kids hunted them.

The weather couldn't have been better. I heard a meadowlark singing through the afternoon. I got a sunburn. It felt like spring.

-Jay

Thursday, March 20, 2008

So tired...not adjusting to this schedule very well...

I feel like a mild narcoleptic who can't get warm enough.

What does it take, three weeks to get adjusted to any change? 21 days-ish?

Oh and happy Vernal Equinox

-Jay

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Last Day Of Winter

Officially, there's only one more day of winter. If you look at your calendar, today is the last day that snowflakes trump raindrops in the great card game of the equinoxes. However, old man winter appears to be going out with a snore, and if you were like me and went outdoors at all yesterday you'll agree.

I washed the car at 6:30 last night, when the shadows had grown longer, and the air was just warm enough to not warrant a jacket of any sort. Perfect car washing weather.

These past 4 weeks have really passed quite well--very warm, considering the previous eight weeks were hellaciously cold, with near record snowfall and a snow pack that approached 150% of normal capacity during that period. Compare that to the way these past four weeks have been and you'd figure spring had already come. Perhaps it had. Or perhaps old man winter is getting soft in his age on us young kids. I had a pair of new shoes, and didn't have to walk up hill both ways to school even one time through 4 foot snowdrifts this year. What the heck am I going to tell my kids when they have to do it?

I've been watching for signs of life these past few weeks. Good ol' Punxatatawny Phil (the Pennsylvanian groundhog who makes a yearly prediction of how quickly winter will end) saw his shadow on Feb 2nd, But I've been seeing Robins for about as long, and the green tops of the brave daffodils and hyacinths for about half that. Granted, the plants are in the protective warmth of the lee side of buildings, but whats up with the robins? I don't remember them coming so early last year.

I watched them fight the starlings for the leftover concord grapes on the vine in the back yard, and feast unchallenged on the mushy crab apples still clinging to the trees here at work. I've even seen several California quail out and about (though I understand they don't migrate, where do they go in the winter?), and on one occasion even got to sit and watch some of them call. In the most recent instance, and much to the delight of my 5 and 3 year old children, we watched a pair of them search the grass in the front yard for food. My two oldest kids thought the tiny birds with the feather hat and a loud voice were hilarious (and so they were). I can't wait to show them the little fuzzy brood the parents will soon be running along with in the next few weeks. They'll be sure to go nuts over that.

And so this morning, on the cusp of spring, spend a moment with me and remember this all -too-soon past winter. It's rich months started with the Christmas spirit in full riot, and is ending with the sultry whisper of new beginnings. And so the days are marching on...

-Jay

Monday, March 17, 2008

4 am Does Exist!

I started my new schedule today. It consists of waking at 4 am and coming in to work by 5 in the hopes of getting off by 1:30. Not a big deal normally, if you are a morning person, but if you know me you know I tend to the traits of a night owl (and mornings are a bit of an anathema to yours truly).
Last night was a normal night, I made it to bed by dark-thirty. I'd set my alarm on my cell phone for 4 am in hopes of waking early enough to enjoy a scalding hot shower and a few minutes for some toast before running off to work with said toast firmly gripped between my teeth.
Instead, last night I tossed and turned waking every 30 minutes or so convinced I'd slept through my first day of 5 am starts. Versus sleeping the alloted 5 hours last night, I found myself compelled to wake and determine if I could still sleep. Oh the delicious paradox of the situation!
So this morning when the alarm truly went off, you can imagine my surprise when I came to realize that 4 am did indeed exist.
I showered, dressed, and found the two cans of Melissa's Dr Pepper I'd set out previously against the fatigue I knew was coming. As I walked out the front door after telling her goodbye for the day, I could feel silent eyes upon me. It was Orion and the waning moon hanging low in the sky. I imagine they were wondering why I was setting out so early on this brisk St. Patrick's day.
I scraped off the window to my car, my lonely vigil hurried by the fact that I still felt the eyes upon me, and drove in to work.
The day has yet to break upon me, instead I still feel like I'm in a dream. I can imagine all too soon the reality of my work will catch up to me, as well as the fact that I slept only a mere dozen winks in the 5 hours of sleep last night. But for now, I float in the dream. And in my dream I sure got a sweet parking spot!

-Jay

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Rude Awakening This Morning...

Have you ever had a word that was a personal favorite, one that you used often enough to keep it fresh on the tongue, yet sparingly enough that it only got pulled out for usage when you wanted to make an especial point? Well, I suppose I am revealing the inner nerd in me when I say this, but I have. And today I got corrected in the definition of said word. And in the online slang of today, I got 'owned'.
It was one of those types of bantering three way conversations which often crop up at work when things are slow and boring, and I happened to drop the word 'pentultimate' about something, referring to the idea that it was the greatest of the greatest. Apparently my colleagues who wear the tape and glasses getup of a network admin nerd are merely posing. They are in actuality walking dictionaries. A couple of Homo Encyclopedicus Americanus if you will. You may disagree, thinking I am overreacting, but you weren't here to see the way they replied to my utterance. Imagine a stoat going after a litter of freshly born field mice and you'll get the general idea.
The syllable was barely past my lips when they launched for my spine, teeth bared.
But I digress.
The posting is really about perception of particular key personal words. And my poor pentultimate fell prey to the honest light of day. As it turns out, there is no word such as pentultimate. There is however a word penultimate, minus the t, meaning the next to last.
Ouch!I've been using a word with a definition which is a juxtaposition to my intended meaning.
It used to bear the traces of greatness, infused by the flavors of a myriad of associations. It made me think of moxie, panache, verve. Casius Clay before the rope-a-dope, or JFK before Marilyn.
Now I just think of getting the next to last word in. And that's like getting next to first place, or having the second best opinion.
My world has come crashing down this morning in a small way.
So after the initial resentment of being corrected (I hate that!), I am fine with it. It's been a while since I've said something truly embarrassing, and today's experience shall surely mark low on the gauge of my foot in mouth moments. At least it wasn't a repeat of the time where I interposed a word of sexual nature in eighth grade English class. I was called that name for weeks afterwards whenever schoolmates saw me in the hallways.
So all in all, it's OK. I'm mostly bummed that I lose a word. Or I could just go all Lewis Caroll on it, and start to make my own up. And that sounds like a great idea.

-Jay

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Daedalus

My children are twin to birds they
wake with the sun each day and
call with voices loud for food

Their souls arch larger than their
tiny bodies can dream to hold and
run along with feet as fleet as wings

They gather bits of paper, then
build colored nests of their making and
feather our rooms with their gatherings

But the embyonic bird of all they
rests in doubly volant parents, true
indigenous builders of their nest

Nature flows to nature, then
egg and apple, form to form
a hatchling call to parent breast

-Jay
3-13-08

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The Ides

These hours are the hours of the absence of color
where eye strains the socket for a hint of something else
brown and white and brown abound

O'er time and hope stretches thin my soul!
Winking in the corner of my eye, a flash of color
orange and silver, discarded cellophane wrapper.

I'm still these days, listening to silent monologue
searching branches for the bird which is lost
(mourning dove, gray coo of summer).

Stroll on, roll on, growing splendor
upturn your hands and drink in the light.
Green and green and green, ope your eyes!

Jay Blair
3-9-08