A Whole 'Nuther Grammar Post

Monday, June 30, 2008

“I know not how I may seem to others, but to myself I am but a small child wandering upon the vast shores of knowledge, every now and then finding a small bright pebble to content myself with” - Plato

"Is Chicken of the Sea chicken, or is it tuna?" - Jessica Simpson

Few of us can match the eloquence of Plato. Even fewer of us are as inarticulate as Jessica Simpson. The majority of us fall somewhere in between the two extremes. Most of us grasp the English language well enough that we can get our points across while adhering to the basic rules of grammar. Little slips on occasion are understandable, such as accidentally saying "Book of Mormons" instead of "Books of Mormon", or when you are playing Scrabble and the game is almost over and you are stuck with the letters P,T and K. You are completely justified at this point in making up words with their associated bogus definitions. For example, if you can build off of an "A" on the Scrabble board, you can make up a word like "Kapt" and then try to convince your opponents that it is a legitimate word by using it in a sentence like, "The gangsta rapper got 'kapt' when the bullets started flying at the night club."

While I am by no means a grammar snob, there are a few common grammatical mistakes that I hear on a regular basis that make me chuckle. My Top-5 favorite mistakes are listed below. Please post a few comments with some of your pet-peevish type grammatical slip-ups. Once we have a more robust list, those of us who are "in the know" can exchange subtle inside joke glances with each other when we hear people say the words or phrases on the list.

1. The Escape Goat. The majority of us have used the word "scapegoat" when describing a person who is taking the blame for something. There have been two recent examples in the sports world where athletes have, "refused to be the escape goat", when their teams have been losing. Ha, ha, ha! The escape goat! Not only are they getting the word wrong, but it conjures up such a funny mental image. I can perfectly visualize a professional athlete trying to hightail it out of town on the fastest goat he can find. After all, once he rides the goat to safety, he can no longer be blamed for the mistake. Hi-ho, Billy, away!

2. 'Nuther. This is one that I say all the time, despite my best efforts to stop. Using the word "'nuther" is like watching shows like "COPS" and "Jail" on the WB. You know it is bad for you and it makes you appear to be a hillbilly, but you just cannot stop! The word is often used in sentences like, "...but that's a whole 'nuther issue". It often gets used when the words "another", "separate", "different", etc. could each be appropriately used. Am I the only one who has ever heard the word 'nuther before? If you have not heard it yet, just listen up. It is out there. And if you do not hear it, I refuse to be the escape goat!

3. The 360. Working in Human Resources I occasionally hear supervisors refer to a dramatic change in their employees' behavior or performance as a "complete 360." They obviously mean a "180", but I never correct them. I have always thought it would be funny to give one of my employees an evaluation and tell him that I had been somewhat worried about his deteriorating performance and then give him a random angle, like a 118, to illustrate that he nearly hit the 180 mark. A compliment could follow by telling him that he improved his performance by doing a negative 101, but he is still a 17 from where he was the previous year. My employee would be so thoroughly confused at that point that he would have no other choice but to improve. Who else can support the random angle movement? Anybody? Hello? Is this thing on......?

4. I Could Care Less. I hear this one almost daily. For example, if my employee was upset with me because of his -17 degree performance swing, he might get mad and say, "But I could care less what he thinks!" If people do not care about another person's opinion, shouldn't they say, "I could NOT care less." Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending an Area training with a member of the Quorum of the Seventy. He even used the phrase, "I could care less" (Don't worry, he was not mad at us or being rude. It sounded just fine in the context in which he used it.) If it has infiltrated even the Brethren, we have a serious problem on our hands.

5. The Juggler Vein: One of my coworkers uses the phrase, "And he went for my juggler vein", when describing her interactions with a somewhat volatile person she has to deal with. Her jugular vein sounds like it is a lot more fun than mine is. Mine only brings deoxygenated blood from my head back to my heart via the superior vena cava. Hers, apparently, performs circus tricks. (In my best Napoleon Dynamite voice) Luck-eeeee!

Okay, enough poking some innocent fun at common grammatical mistakes. On a similar note, I learned a new word this week - midwifery. Seriously. It is a word. Look it up if you would like. I am pretty sure that people in the 1800's were burned at the stake if found guilty of practicing midwifery. Doesn't that sound like a silly, made-up word that involves potions and enchanted spells? Maybe it is just me, but I think the word is hilarious.

Please post some of your favorite grammatical follies, it should be good for an easy laugh. Who knows, you may even point out a mistake that I commonly make. If you do, I promise to get better and make a complete 360. Or if I disagree with you, I won't change, because I could care less about what you think! But that's a whole 'nuther issue. If you do not post your comments, people may think this post was lame. If that happens, I will not be the escape goat!

Away, Billy, away!


***MY COMMENTS ABOUT YOUR COMMENTS***

The Fear Fam - Your comment was that the "Book of Mormons" vs. "Books of Mormon" debate was officially settled in the New Era and that the correct verbiage is "copies of the Book of Mormon". I searched LDS.org and found the article you were referring to (click here to view), and you were 100% correct. Props to you for remembering an obscure passage from the New Era from six months ago. This debate is such a common one in the LDS world that I wonder why church decided to clarify this in the New Era. Isn't this important enough to warrant a 3-page Ensign article or at least a memo from Salt Lake to be read in sacrament meeting? I am also a little relieved to hear that Heather O. and I both wrong about this. I have learned from painful experience to never, ever, ever tangle with the Mormon Mommy Wars posse, so thank you for preventing another public NMH beat down.

Ted - You mentioned the misuse of apostrophes, such as Jone's vs. Jones'. Debbie & Norm share your point of view. There was a barber shop in Provo that made the NMW and me laugh out loud when we would drive by it because of its blatant misuse of the apostrophe. The sign hanging outside the shop said, "Chri's the Barber". We figured that the person either meant Chris' Barber Shop or Chris the Barber. Fortunately it did not say, "Chri's the English Tutor".

Bioman75 - You said, "I didn't learn English until I learned Spanish." You can put me in the same boat, amigo. My poor MTC teachers would try to teach me Spanish grammar by telling me where to put adverbs and adjectives in a sentence. Not wanting to look like a hopeless ignoramus, I would nod my head like I completely understood what they were saying while silently asking myself, "What in the heck is an adjective?" I would then leave class and instead of studying all about adjectives, I would get with my MTC district and we would look up how to say phrases like "palabra arriba" (word up) and other lame mid-1990's expressions.

Michelle - The word "patriarticle" always causes my grammar alarm to go off as well. This should also be addressed in the New Era, don't you think? A few of the other comments that made me chuckle were "necked" (anonymous) , "broughten/boughten" and "woof" instead of "wolf" (Megan), "pray"-ing on victims (Debbie & Norm), and "supposebly" (bioman75). Holy cow, I can see so many words with red squiggly lines underneath them right now that I think my monitor is going to explode any moment now.

Beth - You posted a comment defending the practice of midwifery. The NMW has been to the nurse-midwives for births of our last two children and her experiences have been positive as well. My poking fun at the word "midwifery" was not a slam on midwives, I was simply pointing out that it is a funny word. It reminds me too much of something to do with witchcraft mixed with the word "tomfoolery".


A Multi-Level Letdown

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Last night I was bathing my 3-week-old daughter and she was screaming like a banshee. The shrieking was similar to something that Mary Murphy would do while judging a routine that she loved on "So You Think You Can Dance?" If you don't know who she is, just watch this video and you will get the picture. It gets really good at the :45 second mark, so hang in there. (And yes, I watch SYTYCD? with my wife even though most of the guys on the show make me feel a little bit awkward and everything I know about dance was learned from "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo". Guys, you are completely justified in calling me a sissy right now, but what else is there to watch until the NFL season kicks off? I am a sucker for reality television and spending time with the Normal Mormon Wife, and this lets me do both. Am I the lone man watching SYTYCD?, or do other guys watch this estrogen-rich show as well?)

Anyway, the phone rang while I was bathing the miniature human noise maker and it was for me. My wife handed me the phone and said, "I don't know who it is, but they asked for you and they have an 801 area code." The mystery voice on the other end of the phone played the whole, "Do you recognize my voice?" routine with me. After a few failed guesses on my part, I concluded that it was either going to be a very good call (e.g. reconnecting with a long lost friend) or a really, really bad call (e.g. a shady figure from my past attempting to extort money from me because of something dumb I did when I was eleven).

In a way, I guess it was both.

You see, it actually was one of my long lost friends who called me out of the blue to reconnect. I had not spoken with this person in about ten years and was thrilled to get a call from him. In order to protect the innocent, I'll refer to my friend as "Eddie". Eddie and I spent about 15 minutes just rehashing old times, talking about work, family, church and how our lives have changed over the years. We both probably said, "Man, it's great to talk to you!" about a dozen times.

After we caught each other up about our lives there was a slight lull in the conversation. Eddie broke the silence with the dreaded line that we have all heard before - "So anyway, the reason I called is because I have a fantastic business opportunity that I would like to share with you..."

I have had this exact same experience happen three or four times over the past two years and the "business opportunity" angle has caught me by surprise every time. I feel like a total chump (I accidentally typed "chimp" instead of "chump", but I guess either word would suffice) because I am always thinking they are going to say, "So anyway, the reason I called is because I still consider you a good friend and I want us to keep in touch. I would also like to give you four thousand dollars and a lifetime supply of free Slurpee coupons for being such a great guy." I'm still waiting for that call to come through.

I politely told Eddie that I appreciated the call, but that I am not currently interested in leveraging the power of "compounding wealth creation". We then awkwardly ended the conversation and promised to keep in touch. He asked if he could email me with some additional information about the business, and I agreed to let him. I hope we do keep in touch, but I feel pretty used right now. If he never contacts me again because I took a pass on becoming a distributor of the product he was offering, I will feel like the whole "Hey, remember what great friends we are?" conversation was somewhat disingenuous. My previous experiences lead me to believe that I will never hear from him again. Nor will he offer me friendship Slurpees in the year 2012.

It is important for me to note that I have absolutely nothing against multi-level marketing. In fact, I am grateful for it. I worked at NuSkin's corporate offices for four years and my salary was paid because hard-working distributors went out and sold our products. I also learned during that time that I do not have what it takes to be a distributor. The NMW and I have several friends who have done quite well by selling everything from skin care products to food storage to deregluated electricity. If you are among that group, good for you! I wish you nothing but success. Those of you who organize candle, Pampered Chef or scrapbooking parties are not lumped in with the MLM's because your friends know in advance that you are going to give them appetizers with the hopes that they will buy a $47 candle. There is nothing disingenuous about that.

There is also something inherent in our Mormonness that attracts us as a people to multi-level marketing. After all, many of us have spent two years going door-to-door sharing something that we firmly believe in with complete strangers. I think our pioneer heritage leads many of us to be fiercely independent, hard working and self-reliant. We believe that we will eventually reap what we sow and to never expect a handout. These qualities make for good multi-level marketers. It is probably not coincidental that NuSkin and Tahitian Noni have ginormous corporate offices in Utah.

After thinking about this for a day now, I am proposing that when multi-level marketers call a long-lost friend to "reconnect", they have to follow a few rules, including:

1) Under no circumstances can you mention the "business opportunity" until you have called your friend at least three times in the past year. Bringing it up on the first call makes us feel like chimps.

2) When telling your friend about the business opportunity, get to the point. Just say, "I want you to sell Tahitian Noni in my distributor group. I will get paid on your sales. You will get paid when you recruit people to join your group." Avoid doing what Eddie did to me, which was asking me to sit through a 36-minute online video that did not even mention the company or product until the 24th minute. Since I only had about 12 seconds to watch it, I skipped past the 24 minutes of "wouldn't you like to drive your Ferrari down to your private yacht? Well, you can!" so that I could finally find out what product I would be selling.

3) If we are obviously not interested, please do not ask us for the contact information of any of our mutual acquaintances. Giving out their contact info makes us feel like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" when he tells his mom that his friend Flick taught him how to swear. Ralphie knew he was throwing his buddy under the bus, but he was backed into a corner and had no other choice. Please, guys, don't back us into the corner.

I am sure there are other rules that should be out there, so please post some comments with the rules you would like to see put into place. This is also a good opportunity for those of you who have been on the receiving end of these awkward phone calls to vent a little bit, if you feel so inclined. Also, if there are any MLMer's out there, please share your side of the story with us. Is it hard for you to make the, "Hey, remember me?" calls? Do you worry about how it may impact your future relationship with the person you call? What kind of gas mileage do you get in your Ferarri?

While you are typing your comments, ask yourselves if your hands feel dry. Because if they do, I have the best hand lotion in the world for you. Seriously, a group of independent scientists proved that it can reverse the signs of aging by 9,472%! It's a revolutionary product from NuSkin called Revitalotion. Now, if you have 36 minutes, I can tell you all about it...

Robo Wars

Saturday, June 21, 2008

We had a pretty laid back Saturday at the Normal Mormon Household today. No Enrichment meetings to go to. No baptisms to attend. Nobody to pick up from the airport. Just a good old-fashioned kick back and be lazy Saturday morning. Aaahhh.

The only item on the agenda was a 3:15 baseball game for our six-year-old son. Since we had some time to kill in the morning, my son asked me if we could make a movie featuring his Lego characters. We have made a few of these types of movies together in the past. They normally involve my son's Lego guys defeating his Bionicles in some sort of intergalactic showdown featuring a lot of lasers and explosions. I'll bet you dollars to donuts that Michael Bay was the same as a six year old.

My son came up with the general idea for the theme of the movie and wrote most of the script (you'll probably pick up on the references to current events that I ad-libbed). Since the script called for three main characters, we decided to invite my four-year-old daughter to participate in the project. After an hour's worth of work, we came up with a final product that we are proud of. In fact, Roger Ebert said our movie was eight times better than "Get Smart", "The Love Guru", "Hulk" and "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" combined. Sure, that's kind of like somebody telling you that you are way better looking than Napoleon Dynamite and/or Pedro, but we'll take the compliment anyway.

Pop some popcorn. Get a soda. Gather the family. Ladies and gentlemen, the Normal Mormon Husband Studio proudly presents, "Robo Wars".


video

Feel free to comment with your favorite parts, lines, etc. or to just give the hardest-working six year old in the business some props.

Feel free to vote for the following categories in the polls on the right-hand column.

-Best Sound Effect
-Best One Liner
-Most Dramatic Moment

Just don't tell the producers of "The Terminator", "The Matrix", or "The Simpsons" when the robots go berzerk at Itchy & Scratchy land. The last thing we need is another lawsuit. Thanks a lot, Amy Grant!

***MY COMMENTS ABOUT YOUR COMMENTS***
Last Update: 6/25/2008

First of all, I am shocked - SHOCKED! - that award for "best one liner" will most likely go to the McGiver/Family Search.org line over "I love mechanical engineering!". I didn't see that one coming at all.


Asenath: Let me reassure you by telling you that we did not see Zohan in the theaters. In fact, my wife and I rarely ever go see new releases anymore. If a movie looks worth seeing we normally wait a few weeks and then see it at the $2.50 cinema. Even when Zohan, Love Guru, etc. hit the discount (read: cheap date) theater, we are not going to see them anyway. We gave up on the whole Mike Myers/Adam Sandler/Jim Carrey/Will Farrell PG-13 comedies a long, long time ago. That whole genre of comedy has become too crude for our tastes over the last several years. The death of the "dumb comedy" took place for us about five or six years ago when we went to see a PG-13 Adam Sandler movie that we had heard was hilarious. Well, we ended up walking out of the theater about twenty minutes into the movie and have never been back to see similar sophomoric films. Now we always check www.screenit.com to get a feel for how much profanity, innuendo, etc. is in a movie before we go see it. Are we alone in this, or are there others of you out there who are desperately wishing that Myers/Sandler/Carrey/Farrell, etc. would put out more movies like "Elf" and less like...well...most of their stuff?

Angela: Of course I remember who you are! We grew up in the same ward, your mom was my Den Mother, my mom taught you piano lessons and your dad was my Bishop. How could I forget? I checked out your blog today and couldn't help but chuckle to see pictures of you as an adult with three kids. I think you were about twelve the last time I saw you. If you want to see how I turned out, click here to see a recent photo of me. I think the years have been a little more gentle on you than they have been on me. Good hearing from you.

The Peton's: Cool! Another long lost homie from the Wesside. Gotta represent the W-V-C. The 8-0-1. The Hizzzz-un to the hizzz-ter. (Okay, that's the extent of my gangsta talk. Now I'm just sounding like a pathetic 33-year-old white HR Manager who is more worried about pestering his congressman about his property taxes than "keeping it real.") Feel free to email me at nmhusband@hotmail.com to give me the lowdown about you and your husband. You know, shout me a holla. Old school.

Susan M.: Thanks for the compliment by saying that the movie is the "Most awesomest awesomeness ever." With grammar like that, we may ask you to be one of our writers in our next film. Having a writer and a script may help me avoid making common mistakes like calling the gun a "Windex bomb" in one scene and then a "Clorox bomb" in the next. Oh well, hopefully that little gaffe did not distract from the overall message that robots, no matter how much we try to avoid it, will one day kill us all. In fact, my blender is attacking me right now...gotta go.....arrrrgggh.....ughh......helllllllpppp.....meeeeee.......

Anger Management

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It is 11:33 p.m. EST on Tuesday, June 17th, 2008 and I am so mad right now that I feel LIKE TYPING THE REST OF THIS POST IN ALL CAPS AND USING A LOT OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!

I very rarely get upset about anything these days but right now I am livid. Why, you may ask, would an otherwise level-headed, mature adult feel like throwing a temper tantrum like a 4-year-old who was just told that he cannot brush his teeth with ice cream before going to bed? Before I answer, let me back up almost eight years ago to the day.

It was the night of June 16th, 2000. To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt, it was a date which will live in infamy in the Normal Mormon Household for the rest of our marriage. You see, both my wife and I are a passionate Lakers fans. Although I grew up in Salt Lake City, I plastered my childhood bedroom with posters of Magic Johnson, Kareem, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper and Kurt Rambis in his short shorts. (I still have nightmares about the Rambis poster. The word "pasty" does not even come close to describing the guy's thighs. Eeewwww.) As a kid I cried when the Lakers lost. Seriously. I cried.

As an adult, I'm not much better.

Okay, back to the day of infamy. The Lakers were playing the Indiana Pacers in the 2000 NBA Finals and were huge favorites to destroy the Pacers in that series. LA was already leading the series 3-1 and Game 5 was being played in Indiana. The NMW and I invited two of our friends who were also big Lakers fans over to our apartment to watch the Lakers close out the series and then celebrate the championship together. We never popped the celebratory Martinelli's (you gotta love those rip roarin' Provo celebrations) that night because the Lakers got destroyed 120-87. In the midst of the blowout, I completely lost it. At one point during the game I got so upset with the Lakers that I picked up a copy of Sports Illustrated, tore it in half, yelled at the TV, and then threw the SI across the room. The other three people in the apartment looked at me with the same horrified expression that Ben from Lost had on his face when his daughter was shot. It was one of the single most embarrassing moments of my life and I still regret it today.

That night I made a vow to do a better job controlling my emotions when the Lakers lost. I had to make the same promise on the days that BYU's basketball or football teams would stink it up. Especially when the Coogs would lose to the U. of U. Shortly thereafter I read a life-changing General Conference talk called "Agency and Anger" by Elder Lynn G. Robbins which truly helped me to better understand anger and to hold myself accountable for it. If you or somebody you know has a tendency to "lose their temper", please read that article. It is outstanding.

Fast forward eight years.

Tonight, at this very moment, the Lakers are losing by 36 points to the Boston Celtics in what will be the last game of the 2008 NBA Finals. Kobe & Co. are getting destroyed and have been completely outplayed and out coached in every aspect of this series. While I am no longer ripping up magazines, I still have a very hard time controlling my emotions when the Lakers play this badly. LA blew a 24-point lead in Game 4 and went on to lose. They then choked a 19-point lead in Game 5 and had to rally late to eek out an ugly win against an injury-plagued Celtics team. Tonight, the Lakers didn't even show up.

The sad thing is that I have hardly been able to enjoy any of this great Lakers playoff run. I get so disgusted if the Lakers are ever down by seven points or if they allow the other team to go on a 13-4 run that I have to turn off the TV and go in the other room. I can't even watch. If the Lakers ever win in a dramatic comeback I will have to read about it the next day on ESPN.com because I cannot stomach to watch them lose. I wish that I could just tune out the emotion and simply watch my favorite team play in the NBA Finals and take some enjoyment out of the fact that they are Western Conference champions and had a great season. But instead of joy, there is only frustration. Instead of satisfaction for winning the West, there is only disappointment that LA did not win the title. I get so upset so quickly that I think I know what Dr. David Banner must feel inside when Hulk starts to emerge, his clothes start shredding, and his body turns green.

Of all the teams in the NBA that the Lakers could lose to, the Celtics should be the easiest one for me to handle. Heck, I should even be happy for Boston. Kevin Garnett has always been one of my favorite players in the league. I absolute love Ray Allen's textbook jumpshot. Paul Pierce is a warrior. Danny Ainge, a BYU guy, is the General Manager and assembled the current Celtics roster. There are no spouse abuse issues, drug problems, or 3:00 a.m. handgun incidents to make me dislike this Celtics team. Even with these additional facts, it is still hard for me to suppress those raw, primal emotions from surfacing knowing the Lakers will lose tonight.

Am I alone in this? Not just about the Lakers or BYU, but about sports teams in general. I would really like to hear from you sports fans out there (and those of you who are married to passionate sports fans as well) to see how you react when your team loses. Please complete the poll on the right-hand column and leave some comments to explain how you generally react. I firmly believe that watching your team lose can bring out the ugly side in otherwise normal, mild-mannered men more than anything else in life. Am I right? Let me know.

I just checked ESPN.com and the Lakers ended up losing tonight by 39.

DOES ANYBODY HAVE A SPORTS ILLUSTRATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


***MY COMMENTS TO YOUR COMMENTS***

-The Normal Mormon Wife - Thank you for recognizing the ways in which I have mastered my temper over the years, sweet heart. While I have never had serious anger issues, it's good to see that you have noticed some progress. I still don't understand why I cannot control my emotions when the Lakers or BYU lose, either. I try so hard to keep it in perspective, but I still have a lot of work to do in that area. And hey, I love you too. Sorry for making you watch the blowouts by yourself.

-Bioman75 - I think every LDS NBA fan can relate with your, "Well I guess I get more sleep and I can stop breaking the sabbath" comment. Classic!


-Natalie - Umm....It looks like I should have added a sixth category to the poll that said, "Homicidal: People rooting for the other team may end up on the next episode of CSI." I can only imagine how difficult it must be when your dad is the head coach at a major program like UNC and you have a personal relationship with the players. After seeing the feisty side of you emerge, I'm just incredibly relieved that you coached our YW basketball team to the Stake title. I wonder what would have happened to the players/fans of the opposing ward that would have beat us...

-Danny Ainge - You decided to post "Ha ha ha...Lakers suck!" all over my blog. Well guess what? I know who you are. I know where you live. I know the code to your home security system. And I am going to tell Natalie that you have been badmouthing UNC women's soccer. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. Have you ever seen "When a Stranger Calls"? Child's play, my friend. Child's play.

-Andymann - You said that one of your best friends is one of the biggest Lakers fans in Phoenix and that, "he has now gone into hiding and cannot be found today." Don't worry too much about him, he didn't do anything drastic. Your friend has been on conference calls with me and the 102 members of my "Loyal Lakers League" devising ways to steal the identity of the commenter known as Danny Ainge so that we can ruin his credit and register him as a communist with his elections board. Good times.

-Jon-Michael - No need to apologize for being on your soapbox. It sounds like you are one of the lucky ones who was able to go from an "insane" to a "reasonable" sports fan. I envy you for being able to do that. No matter how hard I try, I just cannot turn the emotions off. For example, my wife and I do not have cable TV so I had only watched one or two Lakers game before the playoffs started. When the playoffs began, I tried to convince myself to just watch the Lakers play and have fun. Afterall, I had invested absolutely nothing into the team this year. But as soon as I started watching the games and saw the Lakers' weak rebounding, Kobe's forced shots, Phil's refusal to call timeouts or pressure the ball, and listened to Boston crowd go nuts after a big 3, etc., I just got too upset. Being a passionate, emotional Lakers fan is like being in the mafia: As soon as I think I'm out...they suck me right back in!

Props to My Pops

Sunday, June 15, 2008

With today being Father's Day, I wanted to give a quick shout out to my dad. I live a happy, comfortable life due in large part to the upbringing my parents gave me. While my father is a returned missionary and has always been active in the church, the lessons he has taught me over the years have been through his example more than him sitting down with with me and saying, "Son, what you are going through in your life right now reminds me of the time when Hezekiah faced the Assyrian invasion. Let's turn to Second Kings chapter 18...." Here are a few of the lasting lessons from my dad that have stuck with me through the years.

Please also post your comments with valuable life lessons you were taught by your fathers as well. Since most of the readers of this blog are parents with kids still in the house, perhaps we can learn a little from one another to pass along to our kids.

"More Arch!"
I was fortunate to start on the varsity basketball team all three years in high school and was one of the leading scores in the state of Utah my senior year. During the games when my shot was not falling, my dad would wait until the crowd would quiet down and then yell, "More arch!", just loud enough for me to hear. My younger brother also started varsity with me and some games we would hear, "More arch!" five or six times in a game between the two of us. It got to the point where I though my dad should just adopt Darrell Griffith of the Utah Jazz so that at least one of his sons always had enough arch on his shot.

By saying this I don't want to give the impression that my dad is an overbearing David Archuleta-type parent who would lock me in a root cellar if I didn't score 20 points per game. He was involved and active, but never crossed that line. The phrase "More arch!" will always remind me that my dad cared enough to come to my games. He cared enough to be get involved. He cared enough to help me when I needed it. A lot of kids did not have that from their dads. I was fortunate that I did.

Drunks at the State Fair are Fun!
Nothing brings out the upper echelon of humanity like a state fair. My dad is a retired Salt Lake City police officer (he currently works as an investigator for the state of Utah) and was able to work overtime at the Utah state fair if he wanted to. While the extra overtime was nice to have in his paycheck, it was hard for him to put up with the shenanigans of drunk state fair goers who were irresistibly attracted to uniformed police officers. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to work a full day shift and then go to the state fair in 90+ degree weather with a herd of drunks coming up and yelling, "Arrest him, officer, he's on America's Most Wanted!" then walking away laughing at the cop's expense. I am pretty sure that my dad would rather have been golfing on those summer nights.

During my sophomore year at BYU I came home on a weekend to visit my parents. (Okay, it was really to eat their food and use their washing machine, but still, a visit's a visit.) I was still awake at about 1:00 a.m. when I heard my dad come home from working the state fair that night. He looked completely exhausted. The overtime he was working was being used to help me pay tuition for my next semester of school. What a great example of hard work, sacrifice, and placing your children above yourself he was in that moment. I will never forget it.

Indoor Bike Racing is Lame:
Raise your hand if you are a guy who grew up in the '80's and watched the BMX movie "Rad" about 35,000 times....Okay, now that my hand is down I can continue typing. My brother and I were really in to bikes when we were about 11 or 12 years old and wanted to get into competitive racing. While I am sure that my dad instantly recognized that this would be a short-lived fad, he indulged us one weekend and took us to watch bike races. It was so boring! As we were leaving the arena he asked, "So are you sure this is something you really want to do?" We both quickly said, "Nope" and then moved on to the next fad. Karate, I think. My dad could have easily dismissed our BMX fad, but he was a good sport and played along.

"Little Guys Carry Knives...and Guns."
We were once on a family vacation and stopped for dinner. I was either a junior or a senior in high school and was a 6'5" basketball player in good shape. My dad was a 6'2" police officer. While we were waiting in line to get seated, a hot-headed guy who was probably 5"8', 170 came into the restaurant and was obviously looking for trouble. He made some smart remark to my dad to see if he would take the bait, but my dad just remained calm and nothing happened. As a 17-year old I had more testosterone than blood coursing through my veins and I said, "Dad, we could have taken that guy so easy if he would have messed with us." My dad just looked at me and said, "Little guys carry knives...and guns. It doesn't matter how big you are once you get stabbed or shot."

I am sure that after a long career in law enforcement that my dad spoke from experience. Through the career that he chose, my father faced danger in order to provide safety and protection for the citizens of Salt Lake City. He is a brave, hard-working man with a strong sense of right and wrong. I am proud of the career that he chose and for all of the hours of hard work that he put in to provide for his family. (Plus I could pull the, "Oh yeah, well my dad could arrest your dad!" card when arguing with friends about who had the best dad. That was always the check mate move that left our friends in obvious defeat.)

Sometimes You Just Need to Take a Drive:

My dad and I had spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours practicing basketball together. We shared a common dream of me playing college hoops somewhere, most likely at a junior college. During my senior year of high school I was offered a full-ride basketball scholarship to a small school in Colorado where my best friend was also playing. My dad was sitting in the coach's office with me when I was offered the scholarship. My father was so excited that his head almost exploded. Literally. It nearly exploded. Our dream was sitting there on the table. All I had to do was pick up the pen and sign it.

While the logical thing to do was accepting the scholarship, I had also received a part-tuition academic scholarship to Ricks College. There was a possibility that I could walk on to Rick's basketball team and also be a high jumper on the track team, but the odds were not great. Because it was a major decision, I prayed hard to receive some direction. The answer was clear - I needed to go to Ricks. I couldn't explain it, but I knew it was right.

It took me a little while to summon the courage to tell my dad that I was turning down the basketball scholarship. I was not afraid that he would be upset or get angry. That was not his style. I was afraid of letting him down. He was sitting on the couch when I told him about my decision. Without saying a word, he slowly got up, walked to the kitchen, grabbed his keys from on top of the fridge, got in his car and drove away. For a moment I thought, "Uh, oh, he's never coming back..." But that was not his style, either. He probably took the drive to process this surprising decision that I had just made. Later that night he simply told me that he trusted me and would support any decision that I made about my future. My father never once tried to pressure or convince me to take the basketball scholarship. He would have been more than justified in asking me to reconsider my decision, but he never did. My dad trusted me. This was one of the most defining moments of my life and I will always be grateful for the way my dad handled it.

(On a side note: I did not make Rick's basketball or track teams. However, I roomed with five guys who were all getting ready to go on their missions. I took missionary prep class, Book of Mormon, served as a gospel doctrine teacher and was constantly surrounded by good latter-day saints. My best friend who played basketball in Colorado quit halfway through the season because the basketball program and general atmosphere were so poor. I have never regretted walking away from that basketball scholarship.)

Well, dad, here's to you. Happy Father's Day. You're a great father. Thank you for the life you have provided for me.

And I'll make sure your grandson gets plenty of arch on his shot, too.

***MY COMMENTS ABOUT YOUR COMMENTS***

Ang - This is where it is so hard to be on the opposite side of the country from the rest of the family. Sure, the whole family getting together is kind of nice, but you guys spent the night playing Wii Fit?! Despite my borderline obsessive Madden addiction on the PS2, I have never played a Wii. When we come visit in July I have a feeling that you will be prying the Wii-mote out of my hand while simultaneously kicking me out of your house at 3:15 a.m.

Capt Naykid - Sounds like your father is a good man. I have to second what you said about your dad when it comes to him teaching you to respect women. We hear often in the church that "the best thing that a father can do for his children is to love their mother." My dad, true to his form, also taught this lesson to me through his example of treating my mom with kindness and respect.

Elmopaloozagate: Redacted

Saturday, June 14, 2008

One of my favorite episodes of The Office is the one that prominently features Toby,the HR guy, listening to people gripe about their co-workers. After the meeting Toby makes a record of the complaint to put in his employee relations file. Most of the employees come in a day or two later and "redact" the complaint, essentially nullifying the original gripe.

Well, somebody tell Toby I want to redact everything I said about Elmopalooza. The comments were a little too passionate and personal than I had originally anticipated they would be. This was obviously my fault for writing about a somewhat political topic, which always begs for trouble. I don't want this on my blog. My bad.

Plus, I'm terrified of Amy Grant's lawyers. Long story.

***MY COMMENTS TO YOUR COMMENTS***

The Wiz - Rookie? Who you callin' rookie? You may be interested to know that I started a website way back in 2001 called 'The Loyal Lakers League". Starting a blog today is so easy that you could train farm animals to do it. Back then I had to teach myself HTML and code everything I did on my site. I even had 102 subscribed members before I stopped maintaining it. I'm old school, you young whipper snapper! Check it out at http://www.angelfire.com/la2/dynasty/index.html if you want to be reminded how hard it was to keep up a site pre-Blogger.com. (The stat counter is broken on that site. I had many, many more than 257 visitors back in the day.) Also, your opinion really does matter to me since you are of "Mormon Mommy Wars" fame and know what you are doing in the blogosphere. There is a link from your site to mine under your "Links That Make Us Smile" sidebar. Until you guys have a "Links That Let Us Call Other People 'Idiots'" section, I think I'll keep on posting columns that make people smile. Deal?

Acte Gratuit & Motherboard - I can understand why you want me to re-post the Elmopalooza columns. My reason for deleting the posts is not because I am some spineless wimp who is "running my blog based on what others think." I removed them because I did not like HOW people were saying what they were thinking. Quite simply, it was getting too contentious for my liking. Again, this was my fault for bringing up a politically-oriented topic that was bound to touch a few nerves. I deal with enough conflict on a daily basis between my job, my church calling and the Lakers looking HORRIBLE in the finals. My blog is a way for me to escape some of that conflict and share the positive, humorous events of my life. There are plenty of blogs out there for people who want to resort to name calling as they argue about politics. I just don't want mine to be one of them. I felt uneasy about the post even before I pushed the "Publish Post" button, and then the comments quickly confirmed for me that it was a bad move on my part to even bring it up in the first place.

The Death of the Labor Coach

Friday, June 06, 2008

Somebody write the obituary. The labor coach is dead.

As of today there have been 17 comments on my original "labor coach" post. The comments have been very revealing and underscore my contention that labeling us as "coaches" is a complete misnomer. The majority of your comments show that both husbands and wives are shying away from the whole "coach" title as witnessed by the 14 alternatives that have been suggested thus far:
  1. Assistant NBA Coach
  2. Bat Boy
  3. Ball Boy
  4. Water Boy
  5. Sweat Mopper
  6. NFLNBAMLB Coach
  7. Yes Man
  8. Boxing Trainer
  9. Boxing Corner Man
  10. Secret Service
  11. Anxious Fan
  12. Jack Nicholson
  13. Something to Touch
  14. Coach's Best Friend
Nearly all of the alternative suggestions describe the role of the husband as one of being hands-off and behind the scenes while blindly carrying out orders that are uttered by a drug-induced woman. Let's just bury the whole "coach" thing. My three favorite titles that better suit the ideal husband's role during labor and delivery as submitted through the comments are:

3) Something to Touch (Submitted by Jami): I think the NMW and I had some sort of physical contact during every contraction, so my wife probably agrees when Jami said, "I must be able to touch him at all times" during labor. The NMW seemed to prefer something as simple as a hand to hold while her contractions came and went. A hand to squeeze seemed to help her more than any of the "Good jobs", "'Atta boys", or "Breathe! Breathe! Breathe's!" that I could have offered during labor. I wonder if a heated, stiff corn bag would have the same effect if we ever have baby #4.........

2) Boxing Corner Man (Submitted by Jeremy): How many of you immediately thought of Rocky's Trainer, Mick, when Jeremy mentioned that he feels more like a boxing corner man? In his own words, "I give suggestions from ringside, 'Slip the jab. Circle! Get you hands up.' In between rounds I towel her off, offer more suggestions and keep her loose." Perhaps the most famous scene from Rocky is when he goes to the corner with a huge swelling around his eye and says, "Cut me, Mick". Mick dutifully whips a razor blade out of his bag and cuts Rocky's eye open. I'm not saying that a husband should perform the C-section or anything, but it appears that our wives want us to be just as subservient as Mick was in that moment.

1) Sweat-Mopper-Upper (Submitted by Lindsey): As a kid I used to envy the teen-agers who would frantically mop the sweat off the the floor at Jazz games after Mark Eaton or other large, sweaty men would fall down in the lane. Big Mark and his 7'4" body use to leave so much perspiration on the floor that a man once caught a 9-lb. bass in one of Eaton's sweat puddles. The role of the sweat-mopper-upper is a good model for husbands during labor for three reasons: 1) He keeps his job simple. 2) He plays an important role in ensuring peoples' safety. 3) He stays behind-the-scenes and only emerges when absolutely needed. This seems to be exactly what women want - a husband who keeps it low key, is pretty hands-off, and gets the job done just the way she wants it done.

The Sweat-Mopper-Upper role illustrates the disconnect between men and women in the poll results. Did anybody else notice the obvious "Men are from Mars and Women are From Venus" subplot involving the MLB manager method of coaching? If not, here it is:

-Guys: What type of labor coach are you? Number one answer was MLB manager with 50% of the vote.

-Ladies: Which type of coach do you wish your husband was? Last place was MLB manager with a whopping 0% of the vote. (That's right, MLB manager received 0 of 24 votes).

In other words, the style that most husbands tend to use is the same style that most women find least desirable. I guess shows like Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, and 'Till Death have been right all along - men and women are very, very different. Who knew?

So guys, if we learned anything from this post is is this - Mark Eaton is really, really sweaty. I guess the second lesson is that we need to give our wives a little bit of space during labor while we immediately fulfill all requests for ice chips, Sprite, pillows, blankets and medications.

Just don't call yourself a coach while you do it.