Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas in July

This story is based on an idea lifted from one Mediocre Gatsby.

2007 has been a good year but I'm sorry that it wouldn't be very interesting for you to read about. Except for this one thing that happened. You see, I woke up one morning with the sun shining on my face, which is unusual because I usually am unable to sleep as soon as it starts getting light out, at least a half hour before sunrise. Also my room was especially hot, even though I had left the fan on all night long. I was sweaty and uncomfortable and my body was fatigued as though I had been hit by a small bus or had moved sofas all day the day before. I tried to lift my head to look at the alarm clock but my neck muscles were too sore so I had to grab myself by the hair to even move my head. When I finally could see my clock, it was flashing 2:00 as though the power had gone out 2 hours ago.

I realized that not only could I not remember what had happened yesterday, but I also couldn't even think of what my last memory was. Wondering whether I had amnesia, I wondered if I could remember my name. T.R. Yes. I knew my name. Good. I began getting up to get out of bed to figure out what was going on. Maybe I could check my day planner. But that's when I realized that I was already fully dressed in my favorite T-shirt (the blue one with the car on it), my gray corduroys, my cowboy belt, and a pair of shoes that I had never seen before. They looked like Dutch wooden shoes except they were made of stiff leather. They were kind of cool, so I figured that I was ok them being on my feet and would worry about where they came from later.

Getting up was painful. I almost collapsed under my own weight because I was so sore. I stumbled over to my desk to check my day planner to see if it could give me any clues as to what was going on. I flipped through the pages and found them all blank. This shocked me at first until I remembered that I never write anything in a day planner, and that the only reason I owned this one is because my dad had given one to me at christmastime last year hoping that it would help me be more organized. It hadn't.

So no luck on the planner. I reached into my pockets hoping for a receipt or something, but my pockets were gone! Actually, they weren't gone, they were just on the wrong side of my pants. My pants were on backwards, it turns out. I took off my cool leather shoes and fixed my pants, then put the shoes back on, because man, were they cool. If nothing else, I would come out of this with a really cool pair of shoes.

I searched the house for some indication of the date or some reminder of things that had happened recently, but to no avail. There was no mail on table, none of my roommates were home, and I couldn't find my phone to call anyone. (This is nothing new. I can never find my phone.) As I searched, it occurred to me that I might possibly have been abducted by aliens, because:

-They erased my memory.

-My body was sore from going through the matter-transporter beam.

-The electromagnetic radiation from the flying saucer had reset my alarm clock.

-After the standard regulation probing and prodding, they had put my pants back on incorrectly, because they didn't know any better.

Also, at one point I noticed a christmas tree in our front room, which was strange considering it was like 80 degrees outside. I decided not to worry about that either.

That still didn't explain the shoes, but like I said, I wasn't about to question them because they were awesome. Suddenly, I had an idea! I ran to the fridge and opened it, looking for a milk carton that would give me some indication of the what month it was. But there was no milk in the fridge nor were there any milk cartons in the garbage can.

My checkbook doesn't make carbon copies. When was the last time I wrote a check, anyway?

The internet was down too, so that was out.

Alright, I thought. Calm down. Stop freaking out.You're freaking out. Stop freaking out. I decided the best way to get a hold of myself was to go to the grocery store and do my shopping like a normal person, during which I would casually ask for the date.

I stepped calmly out of my car at Smith's and grabbed a stray cart from the parking lot. It was warm out and it felt good to step into the air conditioned store. I walked past a bagger and nodded politely. Over to the dairy section. I put some milk in my cart but intentionally avoided looking at the date on it. I needed to act calm. Normal. Natural.

Cheerios. Oranges. Green Beans. Red Baron single serving pizzas. Tostitos. Other things. In the express checkout line, I tossed a pack of gum onto the conveyor belt after my other items. $31.51 was my total. Also, I saved $3.19 by using my fresh values card. I casually pulled out my checkbook and filled out everything but the date. “What's the date?” I asked. Susan (according to her name tag) just looked at me like I was a moron. There was silence for a few seconds. “It's Christmas Eve.” she said. More silence. I laughed a little. She didn't. “Really, what's the date?” I asked again. “Are you being funny?” she asked. “Don't you know that it's Christmas Eve?” “But it's hot outside! It feels like the middle of July!” I replied. She looked at me strangely, and so did everyone in line behind me.

Something strange was happening. I felt myself freaking out again, and I had to take control of the situation. “Oh, sorry” I said. “I'm from Canada.” A knowing smile spread across Susan's face. Everyone in earshot laughed and nodded. I smiled and shrugged. It had worked. I was safe. For now. I went home and ate some cheerios. I had ended up writing “Christmas Eve, 2007” on the date line of the check. My register receipt said the same thing for the date. This was getting creepy.

I spent most of the day cleaning my house, because I didn't know what else to do. Soon it grew dark and found myself unable to stop. I did laundry, vaccuumed, straightened chairs, wiped windows, and cleaned dead bugs out of light fixtures long after dark.

Around what must have been 1:00 am I heard Something coming from the attic. It wasn't the usual sound of nesting birds either. This was stomping. Lots of stomping. It moved down the area above the hallway to the front room, toward the edge of the house. Then something in our chimney, sliding. Frozen in fear, I saw black boots appear in the fireplace, attached to red legs that shimmied themselves onto the floor. Soon a fat biped in a red suit and hat was standing there in my living room, complete with ray gun and green face.

It was Alien Santa Claus! He laughed a hearty “Ho, ho ho!” Suddenly I understood everything. It all made sense. Everything except the shoes. But who cares, because they were awesome.




Saturday, December 15, 2007


Busking is informal street performance in exchange for money, etc. Like the guy who does the card tricks at Fisherman's Wharf or the Naked Cowboy in New York (He actually does wear briefs).

Anyway, last night I got a $5 bill. Cool. I think once last year I got a $10 bill. Those were exciting. But I've also gotten:

-Canada Coins
-Hong Kong Coins
-Sacajawea dollars
-Susan B. Anthony dollars
-George Washington dollars
-"God Bless You"
-"Happy Holidays"
-"Can you play the Sailor's Hornpipe?"
-"You're not homeless!"
-Solicited to go to an ACN convention.
-A card that said "make $50-150k per year! Call now!"

All of which may have been even more exciting. I don't do this for the money, but it's nice.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I quit my job this week. I have worked a total of about ten months in wilderness therapy and adventure therapy, and I need a break at the very least.

Here is what happened Monday, Novermber 26th (names are changed):

7:00 am: I wake up and it is still fairly dark. The air is biting with cold. I lie awake for one hour.

8:00 am: We call out for everyone to wake up. Two students do and the other three pretend not to hear us.

9:00 am: Everyone is finally awake without us having to "zip and flip" anyone out of their sleeping bag. Andrew asks me for the third time what ingredients to use in his rice pudding. Rice, milk, cinnamon, sugar, and raisins, I tell him. I cook and eat two sachets of Quaker apple cinnamon oatmeal, then eat some dried fruit. I stuff my sleeping bag.

10:00 am: Shane comes up to me to tell me quietly that David has taken my black cigarette lighter and is hiding it in his peanut butter jar. I wait a few minutes after Shane leaves and announce to the group that I am missing a lighter, and that unless someone can find it in their things then there will be a "gear search". David subtly opens his pack, searches through it, and furtively puts something in his pocket, then packs his things up again. A short time later he hands me my lighter, saying that he must have pocketed it by mistake. I thank him.

11:00 am: As we drive away from our camp site, a bottle of iodine tablets rolls off the roof of the suburban onto the ground outside. A few other odds and ends follow. Someone has just thrown their extra sundries onto the rack without packing them or tying them down. Shawn stops the car and refuses to drive any farther until they are picked up.

12:00 am: We are bouldering in a field south of Loa, Utah called the Cradle of Life. One student points out to me a spot between two rocks where the carcass of a large mammal is half sitting half standing in place, with its right hind foot trapped between the boulder and the ground. It is a dog, probably a stray from Loa. The skin, with fur, is stretched drum-tight over its very much intact skeleton, but the flesh has long since rotted away. I realize what a great photo it would make.
Shawn, our lead guide attempts a boulder for the third time. Then I hear pounding. And cracking. And adolescent voices cheering.
Harold, one of our most unsociable students, has picked up a part of a 2x4 left by redneck campers and is smashing the dog carcass to pieces. The speed and vigor of his swinging and the look of rage on his face are disturbing. "Harold, cut that out", I call to him. He takes another ten or so swings amid cheers from some of the other students. "What was that all about?" I ask him. "Nothing." he mumbles. My photo is ruined.

1:00 pm: While the students boulder I confide to Shawn that I plan to quit that day.

2:00 pm: We are low on gas. We stop at a phillips 66 in Castle Dale, Utah. Harold says from the back of the suburban: "T.R. Um, you should buy us a two liter to share." I reply: "Soda is bad for you." I wonder silently whether I will drink a Coke or a Squirt once we get back to base camp. Shawn returns from inside the store with a hot cocoa and we drive off. Harold says, "Shawn, if you need help finishing that, just pass it on back."

3:00 pm: We arrive back at base camp and begin unloading the car. I watch David steal some of Shawn's granola bars when he thinks I am not looking. He begins eating it. I tell him what I saw and he denies it. I tell Shawn. They argue for about 5 minutes without progress.

4:00 pm: It is cold. I stand outside the bathroom while the students shower. I dance around to try to stay warm. I can hear every word the students are saying inside. Some make fun of me. Others defend me.

5:00 pm: We go to the lodge to make sandwiches for our snowboarding trip the next day. Harold steals extra bread and cheese. I take the uneaten ones out of his hand and say, "C'mon, Harold. This is why we never let you guys in here." Shawn gets angry. He argues with Harold over the definition of "stealing". No progress is made.

6:00 pm: I meet with Mike and tell him that I will be quitting in two weeks. He is very understanding and writes it down as a six month sabbatical, encouraging me to come back. On my way out, I tell Dallin what happened. He is envious.

7:00 pm: I lay out my sleeping bag next to the students and begin drifting to sleep. I ask Joe to stop swearing. He responds by swearing. The other students laugh. I ask him over and over. He begins shouting the F word. I say "Why do you act like that?" He proudly admits that it's for attention, even if it's bad attention. He calls some of the worst things I have ever been called. I respond with silence and get back into my sleeping bag. He calls me a wanker. I ask if he knows what that means. "A penis", he replies. I tell him that's incorrect, and that he ought to learn the word's definition before using it again. He swears. He shouts swears across camp at the girls group. The other students laugh. He sings the entire 99 bottles of beer song. I drift in and out of sleep. I ask him again why he acts like that. He resists. He eventually begins answering my questions seriously. He apologizes for what he says to me. I thank him. It has been one hour since I asked him to stop swearing.

8:00 pm: I fall to sleep.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happy Birthday, Swirly Patterns!

Thanks for reading, everyone! It's been four years since my innermost thoughts became communal property and what a strange and wonderful journey it's been.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Botulism: Kenny Rogers' Elixir of Life

I like to buy food at the dollar* store. On my last visit I found a jar of marmalade. I guess you often get what you pay for (or less) because I found the safety button on the lid was up. Not a good sign.

But I am a young, healthy, individual with a digestive tract of steel, so what's the worst that could happen? I thought maybe I would eat it anyway, but after some research, changed my mind.

Botulism! (from latin "botulus" = sausage?). Not only can it kill you, but it also causes paralysis. That's why you can have it injected into your cheeks to make you look younger and/or plastic.

So don't eat bulged cans, bottles where the safety button is up, or those crazy bottles of garlic and pepper-infused olive oil. And check your bottles at Honk's before checkout.

*In fact, just avoid Honk's all together. Every time I go in there, I remember that it is no longer a dollar store. They changed it to a $1.05 store. Nerds.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

For All the Saints

Happy All Saints Day!

I think of all people, Loki will probably appreciate this the most.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Halloween Musings

Why don't more people dress as everyday things?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Barnes Ignoble

So get off your ath, let's do some math.
Math, math, math, math math.

-Jack Black

I bought an absolute blimpload of books the other day with my Barnes and Noble gift card (thanks Dad). This is the one I am reading right now.

The lady who rung me up asked if I knew about some sort of card that I pay her for and then it saves me money the next time I buy books. Well those things are usually a scam.

However this time it turned out that I would save 15 dollars on the books I was already buying which was most of the price of the card. That would only leave me ten dollars more to pay for the card.

Yes well there is a sucker born every minute, so everyone else who was born within the same 60 seconds as me, congratulations. You are not the sucker. I am. I bought the damn card. It seems like a good deal. Only ten dollars for something that usually costs only $25. The thing I ignored was that I will have to spend $100 over the next year to save that $10 back again.

There is only one solution to this. YOU, loyal reader, must use my card. The next time you are buying books at Barnes and Noble, tell them you are my brother, my mom, my wife, my cousin, or whatever you like. Take out your phone and pull my phone number. They can use it to look up my card. You will save at least 10% on your purchase, and together we will defeat the giant pulp-vomiting dragon.

Oh, and if you are buying online, my membership number is 516 6046 728. Then report your results back here when you are done.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Living and That's All

Is there a difference between Boredom and Contentment?
What about Contentment and Enlightenment?
Enlightenment and Nirvana?
Nirvana and Extinction?

The best answer submitted before the next blog post will receive (1) loaf of banana bread baked by me while in a state somewhere between boredom and contentment.

It might be time for me to move to Arizona.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Summer Reading Roundup '07

The Little Prince

Antoine de Saint Exupery

This was a re-read. It was just as awesome the second time. Also, guess what. The author was born on June 29, just like me.


The Way of the Peaceful Warrior

Dan Millman

A fairly uplifting and inspiring book. The story wasn't particularly interesting, but it had some cool ideas that were probably newer in the 70s when it was written. One thing that bothered me was the way Socrates kept giving Dan visions by pressing on his eyelids. When I do that all I see are swirly gray things. Also, did he really forget Joy, or was that just more embellishment?


The Monkey Wrench Gang

Edward Abbey

This one is fun, especially if you are a Utahn, a Mormon, an environmetalist, an anarchist, or a vandal. I am or have been in the past each of those things to varying degrees, so you can imagine how much I liked it. Some of Abbey's puns are unbearable, but since he seems to be having so much fun making them, I didn't mind so much. There are some radical politics in here (similar to Tyler Durden's) so if you have a hard time suspending judgment AND you listen to Sean Hannity, I would steer clear of this one.


River Teeth

David James Duncan

Short Stories. Good ones. Some of them drag a bit, but so does summer.


Everything's Eventual

Stephen King

More short stories. Dark Ones. Stephen King writes with reckless abandon, with some entertaining (though sometimes silly) results.


imaginary forces

This blog has lost focus. It's getting all comercial, man. It used to be about the blogging, man.

But it's back on track now. Or maybe on track for the first time ever. You'll see.

The ERV? Don't worry about that. It's not important.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Called to ERV, ch. 2

Another week of the ERV, and this time I had big plans.

Thursday by the time I finally got everyone driven to where they needed to be, relayed all of the info to the office and got my camp site set up, it was dark. I ate a few spoonfuls of peanut butter and my banana for dinner.

Friday I spent the entire day repairing my wooden backpack, carving a new spoon (out of cow horn this time instead of juniper) and throwing my tomahawk. I also spent a good portion of the day as a naturist. I've decided it is a wholesome practice. That night I got a call on the radio from the Gnowees (one of our girls' groups) at midnight. They had hiked all evening and late into the night to their GPS waypoints but said there were no jugs of water left for them there. So I drove several jugs of water out to them. I found the water they had looked for in about two minutes, which means my journey was completely unnecessary. Nerds.

Saturday was almost entirely dedicated to tomahawk throwing, but I distracted myself by listening to the radio at the same time. Here's your basic Saturday lineup on KUER:

10 am: Car Talk
11 am: Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, the NPR news quiz show
12 pm: American Routes
1 pm: American Routes (more of it!)
2 pm: (boring) NPR news
3 pm: This American Life (listen to this; it's the best thing on the radio right now)
4 pm: (boring) something else
5 pm: A Prairie Home Companion
7 pm: The Thistle and Shamrock

That's right around the time I have talk on our CB and a satellite phone for an hour or so. Then time for bed

Sunday began another peaceful, solitary day of radio, reading, and time-consuming hobbies (this was the day I worked on my tamarisk bow). Until about 1 pm when disaster struck! Tune in next time to find out what in the world I'm talking about.

Monday, August 13, 2007

August: the month that nobody really likes

Not only are there no holidays, but August has this really unsettling mood. It's oppressively hot, which prevents us from getting anything done. But there is an urgency in August which makes us feel guilty for not doing anything. Summer is supposed to be the season of labor and productivity. You know, ants and grasshoppers and so on. If you're a student, you can feel each last fleeting minute of your vacation slip away while you sit inside the cool air-conditioned house wondering if you're making the most of it.

(You aren't, but we'll talk about that later.)

Nothing is more peaceful than wasting time once you've completely committed yourself to it, and nothing is more satisfying than completely spending yourself on a task that absorbs you into a trance of labor and focus. August won't let you do either because it's your last chance to relax and your last chance to prepare.

August is the Sunday night, the late thirties of the Gregorian Calendar.

Anway, since we're all in this together, here's what I think will help anyone through the drudgery of August:

1. Buy some pencils, a big pink eraser shaped like a parallelogram, and a cigar box with all of the US presidents on it. This will remind you of going back to school, even if you don't go to school. And it will make you feel prepared, free to laze about.

2. Start a book. Make it fiction, so that you won't learn anything by mistake, but make it a classic so that you feel like you're not wasting time.

3. Eat salad. When else are you going to eat salad?

4. Call your friends. They're bored too. If they say they're busy, that's a lie. What they mean is they should be busy, but you know better. Tell them to go buy some pencils and then call you back so you can go to the movies.

Alright, once you've done all those things, you should feel better. If not, then I have an important principle to teach you. Yesterday my mom was driving me to Big O Tires to drop off my car. I noticed this quote inside her Franklin-Covey planner:

"Lovest thou life? Then waste not time, for that is the stuff life is made of."

-Benjamin Franklin

As much as I like Ben Franklin, this is terrible advice. First of all, if you love life, then you're way ahead of most people in the world. If wasting time helps you love life, then keep doing it. If you love life, then you don't need any advice.

If, on the other hand, you hate life, then you ought to waste as much time as possible, so as to get it over with as quickly as you can.

Either way, you should waste time.

By the way, I still want to see "Stardust", "Mr. Brooks", "Ocean's Thirteen", and a few other movies.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Called to ERV, ch. 1

A not very good excuse for my extended absence is that I am working at Outback again (not the steakhouse).

Needless to say, it hasn't been the same river twice. In fact, there are no rivers at all in the west desert, just a a couple spring fed streams a countless dry washes that fill up a dozen times per year.

I guess what I am trying to say is that a bunch of crazy shit has happened. (I thought for a few seconds about a milder but adequate way to say that but clearly I didn't come up with one.) Ask me about it sometime. But besides that, this company has gotten more corporate than ever, and my job has gone from being a teacher, inviter, leader by example, guru and guide to being a bottom rung risk manager (with no new office and no pay raise). Plus it seems like we're just accepting anyone these days as far as clients. I should probably stop there.

Anyway, imagine my mixture of delight and wariness when I was told I would be "ERV"-ing this week. What is an ERV? I found out that it is the clever acronym for Outback's "Emergency Response Vehicle". What this means is that I would be driving around in the desert for a full week all by myself with only occasional contact with other homo sapiens in person or over the radio.


Remember how I promised I was back after my hiatus. Yeah, I'm sorry about that. Here's a post though.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

El Més mas Cruel

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

-T.S. Eliot

Hey friends. Thanks for checking on this blog again even though its been so long. This has been the longest blogging hiatus in this blog's three-year history. I don't know what to tell you. I just stopped for a while. Some good things have happened recently, and so have some other things, and my absence may or may not have had to do with any of those things.

Its good to be back.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Spring 2007: Careers in Psychology


Spring 2007: Intro to Computer Music

This is another one taught by Mike Cottle (he's the one with a PhD in music who listens to Faith Hill).

Spring 2007: Cognition in the Wild

Just as the sci-fi class is a thinly veiled excuse to read science fiction for very little academic benefit, this class is an excuse to go camping.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Spring 2007: Psychology Through Science Fiction

It's amazing that this is an actual class.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Looking back and forward (like that Chagall painting)

It's that time. You knew this post was coming, so let's get it over with.


January - Geezer (my dog) runs away.
February - First LoveRunner concert.
March - Parents begin divorce paperwork.
April - A long overdue breakup occurs.
May - I get sick for the first and last time of 2006.
June - I begin work at Outback Therapeutic Expeditions.
July - I move into the white house.
August - LoveRunner goes on tour to Phoenix, Calexico, and Hollywood.
September - I complete my second marathon and want to vomit, die.
October - I permanently alter the course of my life by buying a crockpot.
November - I buy an accordion and become addicted.
December - I see the Spiral Jetty.


January - Dad moves to Bakersfield, California
February - I finish my senior thesis.
March - My niece is born.
April - I discover true love but am too foolish and egotistical to recognize it.
May - I graduate with a Bachelor's degree in psychology.
June - I return to work at Outback.
July - LoveRunner is signed to a reputable record label.
August - Mom changes her last name back to English.
September - I take the GRE and shop for Masters and PhD programs.
October - I depart on an indefinite journey of self-discovery through Central and South America.
November - A near-death experience on my journey causes paradigm shift; I return home to elope to Las Vegas (temple) with April Girl.
December - Geezer returns from two-year journey of self-discovery; is better for the experience.