Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Untitled 4-30-2008

I saw this morning's leaf
and exultant bird
both were chased with the morning sun
both sang "wake! wake!"
in the chill dawn
I nodded to them in passing.
I plucked a blossom
pink in my possession
in its crisp scent
the color was bright
against the deep of the canal
where I dropped it
fluttering to rest.
It lazed under the bridge
and I waited to meet it
on the far side, searching
for the petals on the water
sweetness on the wave.
A wing I saw then
dark purple with peachen breast
swallow swift against the bank
he'd come with the water
and brought his chittering cousins.

-Jay

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Whirl of Emotions

I am sitting at home with Hyrum and Maddy playing in the front room and Miles in his bouncy chair (with one leg held up in the air and his usual three fingers in his mouth) sitting beside me. After the wash of emotions I experienced yesterday today feels quiet, serene. Melissa is truly at work now, and the babies and I have the afternoon to ourselves. We'll probably head to the Harley Shop to exchange a shirt for a larger size (an unfortunate truth I've accepted about being 30--hah!), then perhaps mosey on over to Cabela's to pick up a fishing pole and a license.

Yesterday Melissa had me completely fooled about a surprise birthday party. She was supposed to work from 6 to 12 at one of her store weekly crops (an event where folks get together for a scrapbook party), and even rushed off leaving a cake freshly done which was supposed to be for the trip to Grandma Jensen's on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, Melissa and I went to eat sushi at one of our favorite places Sushi Ya. I'd been planning on doing this for months for my birthday lunch, and the food did not disappoint.I even texted Dan to tell him I wished he was there to join me. Dan is a sushi buff too, and the last time Melissa and I went out to sushi was with Dan. We ate so much I nearly hurled, and it was all because any leftover uneaten pieces would have to be paid extra for. What a great memory. The image of Dan dry heaving on his umpteenth piece of yellowtail is burned into my memory. 

If you ever go to the restaurant on 1400 South State in Orem, don't be fooled by the older slightly run down facade. The building may need a fresh coat of paint and few weeds pulled, but the fare is top notch. Their food has a great reputation, and they always had people sitting to eat their fantastic rolls when we've gone in.

I will be honest, I felt mopey all afternoon after the sushi trip. I took a nap as I had a bit of a headache (I had donated plasma in the morning...I know...I know, on my birthday--but hey, $35!), and when I woke, I asked Melissa if she minded that I went to look at guns at VanWagenens By the mall. She knew I was in a bit of a bummed mood and let me go while she was making my cake.

The drive down to VanWagenens was intereiitng, I listened to Arrow 103.5 on the way down (It's been my favorite station for about 7 years now), and was really touched by Kansas' song Dust In The Wind. I've heard it probably twenty times before, but for some reason the fragility of it came across to me today. Most likely because I realize that my youth is fully over now (isn't it odd to think of 20's as still in "youth").  Life passes by so quickly!

I looked at 22 caliber pistols (I'm considering a Walther P22 or a Ruger Mark III), as I want something fun to shoot for plinking cans. After hanging out in the pawn shop for about :30, I picked up and headed home, Van Halen blasting on the radio of the Suburban.

After getting back, I helped Melissa get ready for work, cleaned up a bit, and called my brother Dave and my father in law Lynn to see if they'd want to hang out with me. Dave said he'd come over and work on my bike with me, Lynn said he needed help with moving a piano at the church for a meeting.

Lynn came over, we hung out and talked guns for a bit, and then we headed over to the church. Little did I know when he opened the door into a darkened gym I would be jumping nearly out of my skin! One of my nephews, Curtis, reminded me of gollum from Lord Of The Rings with his no-holds-barred, leap-from-the-shadows approach. I nearly soiled myself in surprise at the ensuing clamor when the lights flipped on.

The people there:

Melissa, Hyrum, Madolin, and Miles
Darren & Anna, Blair, Tanner, Josh and Madison
Dave & Toma, Colton, Brody, and Reanna
Lynn & Karol
David & Kara, Xander, Maxton, Griffin and Aubriana
Chip & Michelle, Curtis, Lauren, Carter and Caden
Bob, Becky and Savannah
Jody & Beth, Taylor and Mason
Oden & Shirley
Rod & Mom
Connie, LuAnn & Ranette called me from Hawaii during the party to wish me a happy 30th!

The night stretched from 7:15 on to nearly 10:30. I talked, laughed, played a little basketball, tied balloon ribbon on all my nieces and nephews under 5 feet, and had a great night. Thanks to Melissa's stealthy organizational skills, everyone made it my best birthday ever. 

I just wanted to thank everyone for such a great night; for their kind words and gifts, their presence both actual and virtual, and the outpouring of love I felt.

Here's to the next 100 birthdays!

-Jay

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Snow? On Freaking April 24th?

Its April 24th 2008 @ 4:00 p.m. and the weather is stormy and snowy. Who would've thought we'd be having snow a month into this 2008 spring season? Wow. I mean, I know we're in a desert and all, and all the moisture we can get is a good thing. But honestly! Rain should be falling, not snow! April showers bring May flowers n' all. I think the nursery rhyme is confused today.

To add insult to injury, I am off on PTO today. Days off are supposed to be sunny--where birds sing in the trees, butterflies follow you around when you step out the door, and manna falls from the heavens. It's a day off after all.

OK, OK. In all reality today has been a nice day off. I got to hang out with Melissa and the kids this am. I talked with Dan-o on the phone. I rode my motorcycle down to Provo and got to lift/work out with Dave at BYU.

Variation on a primary song:

I just looked out the window and what did I see? Popcorn popping on every tree. Spring has brought me such a nice surprise, popcorn falling just assaults my eyes. I can take an armful and make a treat, a snow cone ball that would taste so sweet. It was really so, and it seems to me, snow is falling when it should be spring.

So really, I did just look out the window and the sun is pushing through the clouds. In the south they say when it rains and is sunny at the same time the devil is beating his wife. When it snows and it's sunny, well...why don't you post something about that as a reply. Keep it clean, this is after all a family-oriented blog. :)

Anyway. I just wanted to post something today, tomorrow is my 30th birthday (holy crap when did I get that old). I am glad to be spending it at home with Mel, Hyro, Mad, & Milo. I look forward to saying hello as well to all (five or six of) you readers of my blog as well.

-Jay

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Power of Music Association

My shift is from 5 am to 1:30 pm. So by the time I come in, I am hiting the back end of the Grave guys shifts.

Today, one of my colleagues named Greg was playing some music. Nothing too unusual to note, considering Greg loves music and often has it playing (and also millions of people all over the U.S. own iPods). The interesting thing from this morning was my reaction to two of the songs he chose to play.

I heard "Wipeout" by The Fat Boys (1987), and "Mmmbop" by Hanson (1997). These two songs are some I haven't heard for years. They're also songs I have some serious memories of. "Wipeout" was one I remember from grade school--I remember watching the music video on MTV, and I remember a friend talking about how cool it was. This same friend Gabe had a vivid imagination, and he swore he'd seen a "special edition" of the music video had naked girls sunbathing on it. We watched the video a dozen times and never saw his "special edition". "Mmmbop" just completely reminds me of my younger brother Dan. He was a skinny young kid (just like the Hanson brothers)that year after I graduated from High School, and I look back on those weird popular music years (think ChumbaWumba if you doubt me) with some nostalgia.

I even texted Dan this morning to send him a message about how the Hanson song reminded me of him. Hopefully he won't be offended, instead I hope he'll laugh and remember some old times. It'd be even better if he makes an association with the song and shares it with me.

To me, this is what music is all about...the memories. And with almost any song I can remember people, places and times.

Is that crazy?

-Jay

Friday, April 18, 2008

I went for a walk just a moment ago in the Friday afternoon sunshine. It is a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l day outside. Balmy air, no wind, clean skies.

I walked along a green sward of trees along the back side of the complex here at work. A landscaped section of trees and grass and hill hocks which I can only assume serve as a buffer against the neighborhood directly adjacent to the property.

I find them a buffer for my spirit against the necessity of working in a building and sitting in a cubicle.

I strode fairly quickly, trying to keep within my allotted 15 minutes break, but making sure I observed the life around me. Two quail walked across the parking lot, their strut-like walk cautious even from afar. We have many cats living on the site here, I see them often lounging in the bushes at several points where a ill strange (I think at least, who the heck does this?) cat lady feeds them in the wee hours. But that is another story.

Other birds sang in the trees in the green swath. I walked past a spring-burned section of weeds along the canal bank, wound my way along the trees by an entry road which bisects the campus, and only breached my self-steered grassy path to cross the road and string my walk out a little longer under some crab apple and blue spruce. I strolled in front of the cafeteria and caught a whiff of fragrance from the hyacinth and crocus there. Its amazing the things we can see if we'll open our observation up to them.

I noticed something too about how I observe others during this time. The runner behind me along the gravel path by the canal was first noted at a distance by the crunch of his shoes. The man who exited from building N unnoticed and also walked behind me by the canal wore a green and blue rugby shirt. After walking through the perfumed flowers by the cafeteria, I noticed a woman walking towards the building with a cigarette burning. Se held it stiffly upright and away from her, at arms length, between her right index and middle fingers. Last of all a man wearing green tinted sunglasses crossed the street two steps in front of me. He had a security chain looped from his belt to his wallet and trembling sine waves rolled along it as he walked.

I moved on through the last copse of landscaped green and looped back around toward the rearward of the building. I noticed a bee on the sidewalk, almost underfoot and too worn out to fly. I stopped to him, put my finger down in front of his head, and invited him on. I did it before I even considered the possibility of him stinging me; it turns out he didn't even consider it. He walked right up my fingertip and waited, his stinger remained sheathed. He and I regarded one another for a moment before I set him gently on a short aluminum signpost. His compound eye and shined dully in the sunlight streaming around me through the new leaves. That aisle way of trees between buildings is weird--the light bounces off the mirror polish of the windows in a strange way, reflects up and through and around. It comes from multiple directions and lights up the tree leaves, making them transparent. This is where he was when I found him, this was where he was when I set him down. It was a moment of dappled lucidity.

I left the bee and walked back into the building, wondering at the veracity of nature and the two edged sword of technology: will one be sacrificed at the expense of the other? Will my grandchildren be able to enjoy days like I enjoyed today?

I hope so. If it is to be, its all in the details that we care to notice. These lasting moments of inflection, of nature, of self study will last longer than any technological perpetua of the moment. Bees and trees and the earth have been around longer than any of us. And it's good to remember that.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Good Morning

I haven't posted up in a few days and wanted to make sure my handful of readers had something new when they typed in my blog address.

So good morning friends and readers, thank you for for stopping by.

I am huddled under both a blanket and jacket in my cubicle this morning, the 6 am outdoor air still frigid and cracking with frost. Its supposed to be spring, but old man winter is fighting back a bit after getting jipped out of those two weeks we had of early spring which snuck unnoticed under the umbrella of winter.

"In the spring, I have counted 136 kinds of weather inside twenty-four hours" -Mark Twain

With Utah, if you are bored with the weather, wait a few hours as it will change. Sunday and Monday were in the high 70's/ low 80's. Yesterday had high winds, blown dust, and snow. Today? Who knows.

“Too often man handles life as he does the bad weather, He whiles away the time as he waits for it to stop.” -Alfred Polgar

Fantastic quote. Makes me wonder how often I use the "waiting on things" mentality--I just have to get through, put my time in on, or make it stretch out till payday? The attitude that accompanies these delays is not one of mutual tolerance. They are arduous and usually frustrating.

This post is taking a direction which I had not anticipated. Oh, sure I've thought of these things before, but why today? Why now?

Melissa and I want our own house and have been stymied in that area (long story, I'll tell it sometime). We're working with the kids in the potty training war (mostly good days now, few accidents!). We both work to both pay the bills (which surmount so easily yet pay down so very slowly). How do we celebrate the weather around us when all we see is the storm?

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” -John Ruskin

Attitude then is the key. And hope. And faith. Belief that what I do matters to four people still sleeping at home right now. And those four are my world.

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renenwed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien

-Jay

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

http://icanhascheezburger.com

So I stumbled onto a very funny website here at work:

http://icanhascheezburger.com

Hillarious pictures of cats, animals, etc.

Try not to overthink the spelling, they call it LOLSpeak

My favorite picture today:

March Wireless Bill

Last night while checking email, I saw my wireless bill. Pretty ordinary you might think--and normally I would agree with you. But this month has a been a bit hectic, with chasing medical insurance claims, trying to house hunt, and traveling for work.

My cell phone bill was twice it's normal amount. Painful.

I read through the log of calls and tried to reason out the charges, and unfortunately they all jive. My better half's and my family share plan consists of 700 minutes, with free in-network calling. Where the disconnect happened this month was on all the calls out-of-network. Proofing the reams of virtual paper showed calls to family, calls to real estate agents, and calls to medical insurance specialists. All of them non Verizon. All of them costing me my precious minutes.

Normal usage for Melissa and I over the past twelve months has been well inside the 700 anytime minute mark. Verizon doesn't roll over minutes, and this month we exceeded it by approximately 250 minutes. And that's billed at .45 cents a minute. Ouch.

So the question is do I bump our family plan up? It's really only an extra $20 a month for 700 additional anytime minutes. If I break out the overage charges by the additional cost computation, that's six months of potential service wasted on overages. Seems like a no-brainer when looking at it that way.

But is this month an anomaly? Traditionally, Melissa and I are within the 700 minutes our plan allots. Seems to me that this just might be the troll which hooks many a folk into biting on a more expensive plan. Unless of course we suffer through another month of the potential cancer-causing phonegluedtohead syndrome. Another set of overages will snap my theory of our trend usage right in half.

I am by no means independently wealthy. And an additional $120 heaved on the pile of monthly expenses is a tad frustrating. It fosters one of those "I just worked overtime for Verizon" sorts of thoughts. I suppose I will bite the bullet and go for the 1400 minute plan. I can make the adjustment with no extension to my contract, etc. Verizon is pretty decent about that.

I need to text more now--what a great price! 500 out of network text messages, plus free in-network texting all for the low monthly price of $10. With the sheer number of texts I send to Melissa and Dan, the primary recipients of my cellular shorthand, the .50 cents a message monthly fee is far far cheaper. if I break it down per text, it's about one fourth the .50 cent per message cost. That's a bit better.

Then again, I may skip the plan upgrade entirely. I may just go all Scrooge on the phone company. I could even go completely nuts and borrow other people's cell phones when I need to call out; impose a self-regulated wireless drought where I call out on my cell only on odd days and weekends. Never during the heat of the day, always from the lee side of a rock or shade of a copse of trees.

So if I don't answer your call, don't feel slighted. I may text you back, I might just write your message down and try to send a reply via carrier pigeon or bottle. At the very least I can try them face-to-face--have a half dozen conversations with you (all in descending chronological order) when I see you again. Just try to keep up eh? Remember I will be taking notes. So nobody plan on dying, having any children, seeing the virgin Mary, or having any experiences needing immediate feedback. I'll get back to you in 24 to 48 business hours.

-Jay

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ran/walked on the treadmill just a moment ago. 
I've got a relay section in the Ogden Marathon coming up in 1 month and I am in no shape to speak of. 'Sides that I've been feeling tired lately and have been having headaches. 
Exercise helps me to feel better. 
I stepped off the treadmill five minutes ago and wanted to log an entry about being out of shape. Just to illustrate my point, consider that I used to go for 20 mile pedal bike rides for fun. 
Today I did:
22 minutes
1.22 miles
At least it a start...
-Jay

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

4-3-2008 00:23 a.m.

Ugg...it's night number two for me in the Raleigh-Durham area.

To give that to you in different terms, I've eaten out for six meals straight. I've been lost on the roads here today on three seperate occasions. I have used five different toilets, showered twice in a stall not my own, and dressed from a duffel bag twice. Travel, when not with loved ones, is oddly painful--like the way I imagine an invalid feels when reaching for an itchy missing limb.

The trip has not been purely awkward. I've found some strange beauty in a business park surrounded by a forest. I've watched a mother Canadian goose, who built a nest out of pine needles in a work parking lot defend her choice of location. I've seen green leaves peeking out of hundred year old live oaks, pink wisteria braving the stark boles of the denuded trees, and heard the night chorus of spring frogs against a backdrop of stars and points of far off city lights. I've met some fine folks and I am getting valuable training to foster more knowledge of all things NetApp. The beauty and the business are hand in hand here.

It's past midnight in this tri-city of trees and no mountains, and I need to sleep. I am missing Melissa and the kiddles something fierce right now, and they're too many miles away. I just want to put the kids to bed with songs, slip into my sweat bottoms, and go to sleep with Melissa's feet tucked right on top of mine.

North Carolina is lonely tonight.

We fly out after training wraps up on Friday. We'll be sprinting for the door after 3:30 pm Eastern Daylight, driving to the airport with our bags in the back seat, and dropping off the rental car (all in one breath) while making for the check-in counter. A quick Delta flight to Cincinnati, where I'll eat something healthy (I swear it), and then home home home to the mountains and the dry air--the stunted trees and my babies, and my babe.

Oh Lord, hear my prayer and get me home. I know that can't happen this instant, but maybe I can go home in my mind for just a few hours tonight--to the front room where Hyrum and Maddy have been all morning watching PBS, and the pillows are everywhere. They'll have scattered bits of crayola'd notebook paper, along side their empty sippy cups holding leftover traces of chocolate-strawberry milk from breakfast. Miles will be laying on his play place and smiling like he wants to grab and hug everything, and Melissa will be there with her smile and her eyes and her smell will surround me.

That's what I want. That's where I belong. And Lord, that's where I wish I were tonight.

-Jay

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

4-1-08

The flight this am was interesting. As we boarded onto the Delta 738 flight, I sat near a woman who I later found hailed from Buffalo. We spoke very little over the first few hours, mere niceties, Spartan courteous comments about the in-flight movie (an excellent film, August Rush) or the turbulence.

Silence is golden.

The seat next to me was occupied by a cliché—a very heavyset woman in a flower print muumuu. Her right arm was at the perfect rib-jabbing height, and I consequently held my own awkwardly over the next 3 hours, as well as a slight grudge with her over her ease at relaxing amidst my discomfort. Thankfully, Mrs. Buffalo was understanding in her taciturn nature, and adjusted enough in her seat to view the ceiling mounted LCD display where our movie was playing. I took some of her space, my elbow claiming the armrest.

We landed, and I had my only conversation with muumuu lady for the entire flight—the touch down was rough, and upon her comment, I laughed with her and made mention of how nice it was to get a free roller coaster ride. As soon as we stopped, she stood and I lifted her previously claimed armrest and took the previously occupied chair over, amoeba-like.

I made small talk with Mrs. Buffalo as we waited for the cabin to empty (we were situated on row 31 of 36 on the 738), our exchange of four sentences revealing she was from Buffalo and was headed home. Finally the aisle cleared and I bid her safe travel.

I met up with my colleague Jeremy Larsen (who I realized, despite the early-flight-rush stupor fo this am, is married to an old friend from Nephi—what a small world), and we walked to a bookstore so I could buy a couple of paperbacks by Frank Herbert. He’s a recent discovery for me, his 40-year-old writing about the world of Dune fresh and new. After the bookstore, we made our way to a sit down restaurant called Max & Ermas. The chain is somewhat of a Cincinnati staple. I found the ambience agreeable with its tarmac views and pilot memorabilia on the walls. I had an excellent fish sandwich, the daily special (which I never pick and always feel a tad guilty about since the waitresses spend the time rattling it off), my colleague had a blue cheese hamburger. We hastily ate, hastily paid and ran for the terminal, only to arrive (albeit unknown to us at the time) outside the boarding time for flight DL6313 to Raleigh. Delta states we must be on board 6 minutes before the flight leaves. Plan ahead people! The doors were shut and I should’ve known something was fishy, but instead I answered a more basic call and went to the bathroom, as I detest the necessity of using a toilet at 21000 feet. Man wasn’t made to poop mid-flight like a bird.

After voiding said bowels, I sensed something was amiss, mostly due to a change in the destination on the marquee above terminal A22 instead of any innate sense and it’s subtlety. The flight hostess at the desk was not pulling a joke on me when she informed me we’d missed our flight, as I was initially wont to believe. She was in somewhat of a bit of ill humor, but upon viewing my incredulous face, had compassion on us. She steered us to a courtesy booth between gates A3 and A4. Thankfully, the lady behind that booth (who was walking out the door, presumably for home—she sounded ill) was very helpful and helped us to get re-booked for a 4:45 flight to Raleigh. She helped us with narry a comment or condescending eye, and I wished her well in her getting over her cold. She seemed genuinely surprised that I noticed she was suffering from a stuffy nose and responded very brightly when I noticed.

We walked now, a bit abashed now at our previous Hollywood-esque run for the airplane, for the C terminals. Our flight was no longer located in the A terminals, instead we had to cross to the far side of the airport. We caught a shuttle and rode the tarmac at bug eye level to the taxiing planes. Very cool. I like to think it was a heightening of the overall experience, something I would've missed out on had we been on time. The C terminals were all at ground level, and we got to walk out to the smaller ERJ plane, like reinacting a scene from Hawaii Five-O (minus the leis and the grass skirts, and also the baggage handler smelled like mushrooms and had a look on his face like he wanted to hurt me).

The smaller plane accelerated and decelerated faster, it also had prevalence for bouncing across the rougher air pockets. The up side was that I now had a barf bag (the bigger 738 didn’t), and a couple of copies of Sky and SkyMall to read. There's nothing quite like imagining how I’d look under that cool LED lit sunshade while bouncing at 21000 feet above the earth’s surface.

We got to the Raleigh/Durham International Airport without any incident; in point of fact the landing was downright smooth. The pilot was pleased with the flight and he met all the passengers at the door to greet them with a little southern hospitality and wish us well in our trip to the area. We found our bags without any trouble, and even picked up the rental car without any trouble (amazing considering the last business trip I went on had a two hour delay in both those departments, damn LaGuardia). The absolute bonus of it all was when the Avis guy asked if a two door would be OK. I was amiable to say the least, and he gave us a convertible Chrysler Sebring. Score! We drove to the hotel with the top down and 75 degree air whipping past.

Thus far the trip has been a success. The glitch in missing our flight was not a problem at all. The check in with the TGA, the rental car, the hotel, everything has gone off without a hitch. And to top it all off, I get to be in a city/state that is experiencing a full-on late spring feel, complete with spring peeper frogs calling, 70 degree balmy humid air, actual leaves on the trees and a great bunch of people at NetApp.

What more could a guy in training ask for? OK...maybe one of those LED lit hammocks that also trim off excess nose hair from the SkyMall catalogue.

-Jay