Lovin’ It Up Nasty

The other Saturday, I was pretty busy taking the boys around to their basketball games, so we opted suicide in hitting the drive through at Mickey D’s for lunch.  You know how we’re all real suckers for health food!  It was in that drive through that we had a most interesting experience.  

Some McGenius had a great idea some years ago when they created the double drive through lanes at Ronald’s House of Gastric Sadness.  They created a way to boost profit by allowing more people to put their orders in during rush periods and get to their nasty food almost as quickly without getting frustrated from waiting in a long line and leaving before they order.  It sounds like a good idea until you factor in the problem that those two lanes have to squeeze back down to one in order to pay and then get your lukewarm bags of 11-year-old, ultra-GMO, freeze dried, smashed-in  meh.  

After ordering my boys all of their “food” which would have little nutrition of the original options placed between the buns, I started to ease forward to get in the line to pay.  Still at odds that I’m actually paying for this stuff.  In my new country, I’m surprised Obama doesn’t just make everyone pay for $40 of McDonald’s every day, and have $7 of it delivered right to their door like the morning paper.  Might as well, that’s what it tastes like right?  Anyway, a fat disgruntled Turd Muffin in a little car cuts me off and gets in line in front of me.  I was pretty irritated.  I had obviously started moving first.  Oh well, maybe he didn’t see me, as the poor way in which this double lane was built, there was a serious blind spot for him being in the outside lane.  It’s all the easier for me to hate him because he looks like such a low-life reflection of myself, but I choose not to honk, shake my fist, or anything of the like.  Because my food will be just as nasty when I get it, and waiting an extra minute won’t make it taste any better, Heaven forbid.  

That moment I decided to accept my defeat and prepare to be the next one in line was when things got interesting though.  Suddenly in my side view mirror, I see the door fly open of the car behind me, and with lightning speed, a man coming up to my window, kicking up wet snow as he throws his arms about, shaking his head in disbelief.  He had beady brown eyes and long thinning salt and pepper hair with slight balding.   He was wearing penny loafers, khaki pants, and a red knitted sweater pulled over a striped white dress shirt. I rolled my window down cause he certainly had something to say to me.  I didn’t feel threatened though.  This man in his middle ages and smaller size had no fear to offer anyone.  He spoke to me with a tone similar to that of the older brother of a friend to a kid who’s being threatened by a bully on the schoolyard and said, “Did that guy cut you off, or did you just let him in?!”  

Before I had a chance to answer, he tears off toward the offending motorist with the same intensity and begins yelling at him and shaking his fist.  I’m starting to think my new friend might be intoxicated with some illegal substance other than weed judging by the flighty way he moves about, but all I can do is watch and laugh.  I knew he couldn’t inflict anything serious on big uncle Turd Muffin, so I didn’t get out to break it up.  Me and all three boys instantly had front-row seats to our own private showing of Jerry Springer, so we settled in for the feature.  He explosively told the guy he really messed up by cutting me off and not waiting his turn, and threw in hefty triple servings of profanity (which my kids could have done without).  With the boisterous way he spouted off having little to back it up with, as well as his accent, I could tell he wasn’t from this area.  Those of us from my neck of the woods take threats from strangers more seriously and save them for more dire circumstances when we’re ready to send someone to the hospital.  He waved me off as turned back to his own car at 2/3 original strength, muttering under his breath.  The boys and I were tearyeyed, red in the face, and much-so short of breath with fatigued stomach muscles as we rolled forward to take our punishment from the drive thru window that morning!  



Turn lights out. Lock the doors. Repeat

The other night I had a disturbing dream.  I was a proselyting, name tag wearing missionary for my church again (after not having done that in real life in almost 13 years, something common only to young single people, and older people who’s children had already left home in my faith).  I was transferred to what I knew would be the last area I would serve in before going home.  Like many other areas I had served in in my dream, I arrived in the area after a well known favorite missionary of everyone had left.  He was a cool kid I knew from high school, who in real life hadn’t served in my mission at all.

The neighborhood I was living in didn’t look familiar to anywhere I’ve actually been.  Months of missionary service went by, except for this mission was being served amongst people my wife and I had known in Colorado where we actually just moved to Utah from last summer.  There were people from church as well as students and professors from college.  Someone caught wind of the fact that my time for going home was getting closer.  So other missionaries I lived by suddenly packed up my stuff for me and piled it up in an empty house at the end of the street, which street was intersected by a more busy main road.  I was no longer allowed to be part of the work and even forgotten and shunned by all the people I had known and loved until a speed train whizzed by and sucked me out of that place, presumably to take me back home.  The feeling was a horribly thick sense of loneliness like I’d never felt.

The way my dream worked out is far from what it was actually like to serve a mission for my church, but it taught me something.  I don’t do well when things come to an end, especially good things and things I put a lot of energy into.  You’ve all heard of short-timer syndrome which refers to the time between when someone turns in their two week notice and when they actually leave work for the last time.  This usually means the one leaving gets lazy in their work duties and itchy to leave.  But you never hear the flip side of that.

Some years ago, I worked in a nice little all-natural meat shop.  It was a fun enough job with nice co-workers, but it paid next to minimum wage and had no benefits.  I had had to take the job because my previous job which was supposed to take me off into the sunset with all kinds of hours and money ended up stiffing me by only giving me one day per week and expecting me to be on call all of the other days.  Anyhow, I heard the county jail was hiring correctional officers, so I submitted an application.  On the form, there was the question asking if they could speak with my current employer.  I said no.  I had no idea how soon they would be conducting the background check, and I didn’t want them giving my work my notice for me.

Too bad!  I came into work one afternoon to have my manager ask me, “So you want to be a corrections officer do ya?”  They were somewhat understanding.  They knew I had a family to take care of.  But from that moment on, until I was able to start at the academy A WHOLE MONTH LATER, they pretty much treated me like a poopy pants stranger.  No fun at all.  Suddenly no one really wanted to talk to me anymore.  It was a pretty sad time in contrast to when everyone was my friend.

Plenty of other times in my life have taken on a similar sad and lonely feeling.  I knew I would graduate in the Spring of 2001, but I never really saw the end of high school coming.  Me and all my would-be friends scattered from the town like cockroaches almost the very next day.  Yet when I started high school, it seemed like it would never end.  Afterall, it never did on “Saved by the Bell”, or was that just a side affect of watching too many reruns?

My playing club volleyball my junior year of high school came to an end one windy bright sunny day under a pavillion at a local park.  Our Hawaiian coach had lined up a little luau to be catered for us.  The food was great, but volleyball was over.  What was designed to be our “victory celebration” (we came in at about 5th place and had a great time doing it) felt more like a funeral.

I’ve never enjoyed being the one who has to “turn off the lights and lock’er up” in any situation.  I get the feeling many others feel the same way seeing as how they all find reasons to leave before clean-up time as well.

How does one deal with this?  It seems one phase of life is constantly ending as another one picks up with nothing to get me through the in-between.  One minute you and grandpa are having a great time out golfing.  The next it seems, he remembers neither who you are or his own daughter.  I know I should just be happy to have had the chance to go to a decent high school in Suburbia.  I know that something like playing on the volleyball team is a reward in and of itself.  But…for someone who suffers from clinical depression it does little to soothe the pain.   


Creepy Weirdo Lessons. Free to a good home.

Happy Wednesday, and here’s hoping you’ve had a great January!  Just kidding.  How can anyone have a happy January?  Why do we even bother wishing someone well in January?  Even if you have a birthday that month and you win a free pair of shoes, the whole month still has to taste like mucky freezer burned leftovers eaten in the shadow of December and all the hype that goes into creating a riotously overindulgent Christmas.  We should all just avoid each other for the first month or two of the year in reaches of the world where it is winter at that time.  What do you think?  Run that one by the president.  Anyway, I’m not going anywhere with my blog, but I’m sure having a fun time getting there.  People have actually read some of it, some reigning from countries I don’t even have friends in.  That’s reason enough to keep writing, something.  Or maybe they’re just trying to send me spam.  

Recently it hit me, as it always seems to.  Things I learn never seem to show up calmly at the doorstep and ring the bell.  They always jump right in front of me like a scary clown and pie me in the face after letting out a mischievous gut giggle.  I’m 33 now, and sort of let down that I’m just now learning this, but I’m glad I was able to pick up on it myself rather than have to be told by someone else.  

I’ve always had a superb memory.  I never forget the faces, the names, the song, the smell, the tastes of a given situation I was a part of.  Often people are amazed.  When it shows itself, my family is suddenly found standing around smiling at each other and looking at me like I’m part of the circus freak show.  “Just look everyone!  It’s Jeff, our little history book!”  Just as often, it is the cause of disagreements and sad feelings of being all alone in a sea of people who seem to have the memory power of petstore goldfish.    

Another quality of me considered a good thing at times is that I’ve always been sentimental.  Most of the time, it’s been to my downfall.  I’m guilty 98% of the time of being the one out of any two people in this world who cares more about my relation to them than they do to me.  Rather than suppress it, I’m working on letting go of it as a whole.  That one thing alone has caused a trainload of stress and pain that I could’ve done a great and many things without.  One of the strangest things though, is when these two join in a not-so choice reunion of destiny.  

In my early twenties, I would be working at an office supply store (now out of business through no known fault of my own) and recognize a teacher from elementary school.  Even worse at another time, someone who I hadn’t seen since I was little.  It doesn’t really get good until the moment I go up to the person and say hi to them.  “Hi So and so!”  Now someone who they don’t know or recognize in any way is calling them by name.  “I’m Jeff Taylor.  You babysat my brother and I when we were young!”  Watching someone squirm who is that far removed from your life, although highly amusing, is pretty cruel.  You might as well be saying, “Hey it’s me!  I was a snot-nosed kid who couldn’t even reach the bathroom sink to wash his hands on his own when you knew me, but I’ve long-since graduated puberty and become an adult, and my tone of voice says we’re still “just as good of friends as we always were”, with a hint of “I can’t believe you didn’t recognize me.”  My favorite scene of such an occurrence is this one from the movie “Groundhog Day” staring Bill Murray: Phil’s Choice moment with Ned Ryerson 

I know it’s sick and wrong, but somewhere along the way it just sprouted out of “Oh hey you, I don’t care that you don’t care about me.  Now go and have a nice day you silly self-absorbed ass!”

The good news is, I have ceased this behavior for a few months now.  I think there has to be an equation which includes certain number of years limit and/or maximum measuring how long it’s been since we were in any way involved with one another and how good of friends we were anyway one must calculate before addressing someone publicly.  Facebook?  What’s Facebook and how should that be considered?  I worked with a friend for several months in that office supply store, and remained Facebook friends with him for years after, commenting on each other’s posts and liking pictures, etc.  Then I actually ran into him in person and tried to start talking to him, but he didn’t even know who I was.  Are you serious?!  Unfriended!  

I’ve realized I can no-longer go shopping with my family at a certain bulk-selling club store which I love, because everyone I knew in high school and their mother shops there.  It’s just too big of a temptation!  I just want to walk up to people, put my arm around them and say, “Hey Bobby Joe, remember me from high school?!  You were one surly cowboy, and we weren’t even friends, but I remember that funny joke you told someone in English 10, and now that we saw each other, I just thought I’d come over and create a nice awkward greasy moment for the both of us to share as we reminisce on the good times we never had.  By the way, have you tried their Polish dogs here?  Fantastic!  They’re the hotdog you taste aaalllll daaayyy llooooonngg.”

On that happy note, if you haven’t seen or spoke with someone in 15-20 years in today’s age of instant communication, it’s clear there are multiple reasons why, and you’d best not wave them down,…that is unless you’re going to buy them a Polish dog and a soda for $1.50. 

Utah State Song Officially Declared by Local Daddy Blogger

Driving around and playing stay-at-home dad in my beat up old SUV, I usually enjoy listening to the radio, whether alone or with my wife and boys.  I have nine preset stations programmed in on the box with those ranging from funky rock and roll to classical music.  To make an honest confession, I am one of those nervous Nelly radio listeners.  I change the station whenever commercials come on.  Radio advertisers take note, you have yet to produce commercials of any kind that grab my attention and/or make me want to buy anything enough to ever go through with it.  That is why I am still happily driving along in a beat up car that was out of style years ago.

Anyhow, back to the radio.  After enough listening to the radio while driving, I have noticed serious patterns to the favorite songs of radio stations in any given state I’ve lived in.  In the Denver area, it was a close tie between “What I Like About You” by the Romantics, and “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.  Being that I don’t listen to any top 40 stations, new songs are not considered.  In my opinion, they have yet to had the chance to withstand the test of time.  Sorry Taylor Swift.  And so without further hesitation on this the 26th of January, 2016, it is with great pride that I announce the Utah State Radio Favorite to be……Everything She Wants – by Wham!  Click on the link to see the official music video in all of it’s 80’s glory!  Although it’s not the radio edit, I felt sharing the real deal important to getting the real flavor of the times in which the song was released.

I wonder what it is that has brought this one to the top for those of us in Utah.  Does this song touch the hearts of a high ratio of men who are drawn to demanding and inconsiderate women?  Is it the catchy tune (me and my boys’ only claim to enjoying this song)?  Does the majority find happiness in listening to any song, no matter the subject matter, so long as the tune is good?  Or is there some broken button down at the radio station, or some totally biased algorithm written by some long gone employee of the station controlling the playlist?  In what little I know of modern radio, it seems the DJ’s have less and less involvement with the specific lineup of songs as time goes on.  The longer I listen to any given station, the more I’m inclined to believe the idea that each station has a certain play list of only the most cliche titles to match their station’s genre, and every day the shuffle button is hit on that play list.  Either way, I guess me and the rest of the Taylor clan will keep rockin’ out every time it comes on.  Now I just need a couple of medium-sized Utah flags that automatically come out of the top of my car and fly anytime the song comes on.  Where is Xzibit and the ‘Pimp My Ride’ show when I need them?

Constant Fear and the Dirty Little Secret


Me at the bayonet course.  Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri – Spring 2009

Warning:  This post is rather high in sodium.

The above photo is the only known one taken of me during basic training other than the class photo.  The only cameras we were allowed to have, were those on our cell phones.  You read correctly!  We were given the use of our cell phones in basic training, if only for 20 minutes each Sunday.  The camera on the flip phone I then had wasn’t very good anyway, and I much rathered take the opportunity to talk to my family back home.  So I didn’t spend any time taking pictures as other soldiers.

Looking at this photo, I know that although I was all dressed up to get good and dirty, I didn’t look very macho.  I guess I was already very tired, stressed out, bored, and who knows what else that morning.  Besides, I’ve never done much of that looking macho stuff anyway.  Being a married father of two little boys at the time, I had gotten soft.  I had worked pretty hard months prior at losing the weight needed to enlist, but hadn’t really built any muscle.  I think that was one of the reasons my drill sergeants (DS’s) enjoyed picking on me.  I gave the best effort I knew how in basic training, but I never was one of the physically hard core soldiers.  No one is in basic training, and certainly few headed for desk jobs as I was.

As one would suspect from watching military themed movies, fear was the main source of motivation used throughout basic training.  It may sound horrible, but I really doubt a government could crank out soldiers who were ready to face death without at least getting them used to functioning while dealing with such a feeling.  It was used in many different ways.  Sometimes it was fear of punishment we might get if we failed to perform properly.  Others, it was used in the form of actual punishment to help back up those threats and help us imagine how bad the punishment might be at later times, whether the offenses were real or made up.  

The military has claimed for many years to be tough on hazing, but that thought seems to go against the grain of the true nature of basic training.  There was a fear of humiliation, also a fear of the unknown.  The DS’s often gave us situations by surprise that were highly unfavorable to say the least, to which we had no other choice but to respond in the best way we thought we were expected to.  The only positive reinforcement I recall from my ten weeks there, was the thought that if I made it through this experience, I would have a solid career.  At times, things were so bad that I don’t think some of us cared about that idea anymore.

One evening with about a week and a half remaining, we arrived back to the barracks after a day of hot and sweaty who knows what kind of training.  While in formation, our platoon sergeant began to yell at us as he always did.  This time we had really messed up, or so he would have us believe.  Twas the night before we would leave for our final and week long Field Training Exercise (FTX).  DS So and So in his ranting, told the entire company that his platoon (the one I was in) had failed badly at guarding their posts during fire guard previously, and that we would be given the charge of it for the whole building for that night, when we usually only covered our floor.  That meant that instead of staying up for one random hour of the night, each of us would be doing it for two or three, leaving us much shorter on sleep than we were used to.

That night, I showered and packed for the next day as fast as I could, but still had 1/3 of my packing list to go at lights out.  In basic training after lights out, no one is allowed to do anything besides “utilize the latrine” unless you are pulling fire guard duty.  “That’s okay” I said, “I can do the rest in the morning before we form up to march to FTX.”  After a little sleep, my first shift was on an upper floor.  No problems here.  My second shift was a little different though. 

In the words of Winnie the Pooh, there suddenly arose a “rumbly in my tumbly”.  My guts started talking to themselves.  I knew I had to get to the toilet fast, or surely there would be a disaster.  There were soldiers all over the place starting to rustle and make their final preparations for our FTX.  I asked all that were within sight if any of them could cover fire guard for me while I used the crapper.  Nobody would.  They were too busy getting ready.  I didn’t dare just go use the restroom.  What if I got caught by Drill Sergeant leaving my post?  I could only imagine what they would do to me for messing something up right before ‘go time’.  Guess I would just have to hold it until my shift was over.  This couldn’t be good!  I didn’t have time to take a crap!  I still need to do some packing, besides shaving and changing into my combat uniform before we leave!  

But my colon had other plans…I crapped myself.  Not just a few skid marks on the runway kind of crapping one’s self either.  But my insides were soon free of yesterday’s lunch, and obviously dinner.  In a short horrific moment, the total of all my fears had come true!  Luckily for me, the PT uniform we were required to wear during fire guard included some compression shorts which true to their reputation, held what needed to stay in, in until I was able to deal with it properly.  What was I going to do, run up to the CQ office and tell Drill Sergeant I had just shat myself?!  The showers weren’t turned on in the morning.  Think fast Private Taylor!  

The morning wakeup hasn’t sounded yet, but oh well.  Screw everyone who withheld their help when I needed them most!  I ran down the hall as fast as humanly possible.  I knew I couldn’t throw my PT uniform in the bathroom waste baskets.  They had already been emptied that night.  If I put them in there now, we’d get back from FTX in a week to find a stinky bathroom and a heavy, muddy PT uniform with my last name carefully written on it in black Sharpie.  Drill Sergeants love that stuff!  For some miraculous reason, I had a few garbage bags of my own in my locker.  I knew just what I’d do!  My battle buddy was out of our room for a minute, so I made quick use of the socks I had on and some baby wipes (baby wipes were our method of bathing while out on training exercises, as well as for soldiers who deploy to far out desert posts).  I then as tightly as possible triple bagged the offending garments and tied them up, and hid them under some other things in my locker and proceeded to get dressed the way lightning gets dressed every morning.  

As I scrambled to stuff the last handfuls of stuff into my rucksack, two of my DS’s showed up in my room and started marching around and yelling at me in an agitated way, speaking of how I better not make everybody late.  At this point, I don’t care.  I’m sweating like crazy, and functioning faster than reality.  Everything smelled like poop to me in that time.  Can they smell poop like they smell fear?  Because I don’t know which one smelt worse at that moment.  If they found my little hidden treasure, I was toast.  I closed my locker, strapped up, and ran out to formation as fast as an over-loaded weakling could.  It was my lucky day.  There were a few soldiers from other platoons that had everyone waiting longer than I had, so the worst screaming was saved for them.  I was on my way to a week of hell, but it didn’t matter because my secret was safe!  Before basic training was over, most of us had realized that basic training wasn’t as bad as we thought it was.  A worse period called AIT (Advanced Individual Training) that made basic training look fun was just a bus ride away. 

Monthly Book Review



“In attempting this psychological presentation and a psychopathological explanation of the typical characteristics of a concentration camp inmate, I may give the impression that the human being is completely and unavoidably influenced by his surroundings. (In this case the surroundings being the unique structure of camp life, which forced the prisoner to conform his conduct to a certain set pattern.) But what about human liberty? Is there no spiritual freedom in regard to behavior and reaction to any given surroundings? Is that theory true which would have us believe that man is no more than a product of many conditional and environmental factors–be they of a biological, psychological or sociological nature? Is man but an accidental product of these? Most important, do the prisoners’ reactions to the singular world of the concentration camp prove that man cannot escape the influences of his surroundings? Does man have no choice of action in the face of such circumstances?

We can answer these questions from experience as well as on principle. The experiences of camp life show that man does have a choice of action. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.

Seen from this point of view, the mental reactions of the inmates of a concentration camp must seem more to us than the mere expression of certain physical and sociological conditions. Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him–mentally and spiritually.”

-Viktor E. Frankl
“Man’s Search For Meaning”

Being that books have been such a big inspiration in my life, I’ve decided not only to read one each month, but also to write a book review just as often.  

Title: Man’s Search for Meaning  

Author: Viktor Frankl

Type: psychological, spiritual

Theme: enduring and overcoming adversity

Length: 165 pages


From the time I was in Jr. High to present, I must have had this book recommended to me at least six times, the most any book has ever been suggested I read directly from the mouth of other people, other than the scriptures of my faith.  And for some reason, I just never got around to it. I would put up a tally mark on the chalkboard in my mind in a section marked, “Books to Read”. I guess I just needed that many suggestions before I finally got off of my butt to read it.

It’s not actually a very thick book at all.  I’d rather call it a booklet.  That said, it is easy to acquire, it being a book commonly required for reading in a small handful of college courses. I got my copy brand new for $9.99 at my local Barnes and Noble.

Viktor Frankl, through many near misses miraculously survived years in various Nazi concentration camps in the 1940’s.  Being an expert psychologist even before internment, his findings on human will, the bitter limits of suffering, and free agency are well calculated, deeply thought out, and expertly pieced together in this small volume.  He highlights some of the disgusting, soul shattering circumstances and moral dilemmas of life in the Nazi concentration camps, and expounds on just how he held on to hope and life throughout them all when most wanted to give up.  Most chilling to me was his description of how bodies of the dead were dealt with not long after just having died due to the necessity of the sick and otherwise feeble survivors.  To those of you who have yet to read it, I recommend doing so.  It was pretty good for the most part, however…

My only two complaints:

  1. I did think his not wanting to share more of his actual story was a lazy writer’s cop out.
  2. Once I hit part II of the book (about pg. 99), I was lost in all the advanced psychological jargon.

Part one was pretty freaking awesome though!

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


Raw Beginnings


Night before Crazy Hair Day at Dale & Eli’s school

Growing up, I had the opportunity to play in a variety of organized sports whether in city league, high school, and even church.  Some of my favorite games were those of the disorganized variety in the military. I never knew the meaning of pain until I tried playing forward in a soccer game with a group of U.S. Army fighting machines.

I have so many great memories from playing sports of one kind or another.  Little compares to the accomplished way you feel after a night of football practice on the offensive line, the adrenaline you get after scoring multiple three pointers near the end of your basketball game, or the pure awesomeness of swimming any day of the week.

Being that they are competitive in nature, there are also many disappointments that come along with playing sports.  My first year in basketball, we didn’t win a single game.  In my first season of little league baseball, I had to step up to the plate after the pitcher had beaned the previous three guys in a row to… guess what…get beaned myself!!  Who saw that coming?!  Shouldn’t it be against the rules to keep the pitcher on the mound after he beaned the second guy?  In junior high football, I got my ankle injured so badly by my own teammate that I was unable to play or even practice beyond the first game.  Being on crutches for some time, I was embarrassed to even wear my jersey to school on game days as the proud team tradition dictated.  But I did it anyway.  One of the important things you learn from playing sports is dealing with defeat and other small failures.

For years I’ve looked forward to the day when I could have children of my own and watch them play sports.  I know that parents can’t teach their kids everything they need to know in life merely by giving them verbal tutorials.  Much of a growing person’s knowledge comes from sweaty, nervous, hands on experience, and what better way to provide that than giving them the chance to play in some low-stakes athletic competition?  Many athletic professionals and psychologists testify to the many benefits kids are given if they have the chance to play on athletic teams.  The following link lists the top ten ways playing in sports can help your child develop.  Top 10 Health Benefits of Youth Sports My wife and I knew that this winter was going to be the year we would start the boys playing something.

We are now in the second week of Jr. Jazz (the city league of Utah) basketball with our 7 and 9-year old sons.  I’ve tried my best to prepare them for what’s to come, hoping they’ll be more successful than I was, but I’ve got to say, it’s looking pretty ugly to watch the both of them and their teams try to figure out how to play together.  One boy got the ball slammed down right in his head at his first game.  The other took a pass to the gut that was thrown from only five feet away with the force required to knock down someone his size from the other side of the court.

Watching this first round of basketball play out, I was regretful for having not prepared them more.  My dad and I did run a few drills with them previously.  For the last several weeks I’ve been giving them all the advice I had from my few years of basketball playing.  We’re really starting from scratch here.  These kids are still figuring out how to keep their shoes tied.  But after some reflection, they are starting with this sport at a younger age, and will therefore have more time to perfect their abilities.

I’ve realized I can help them little by little as time goes on, but they’re really not going to be that good at first, why?  Because they are new to basketball, and just like in the professional world, everyone has to be new sometime.  They will have to learn much the hard way, through pushing against other teams.

Why am I writing a blog post about this?  Because suddenly it hit me I’m entirely new to something as well, and working at it equally as awkwardly.  I did take an English class in college once and actually passed. Although my writing is course, one of my greatest challenges in blogging is learning to use the equipment. I’m reminded of my first days on the summer league swim team many years ago.  I had no clue I was going to have to wear a speedo, and didn’t think of swim goggles.  It made swimming all those laps quite awkward that day.  Then when I showed up to the next practice, I had the needed gear, but wearing a speedo for the first time, I truly felt as if I was wearing nothing at all, and it took some getting used to.  Over time, I learned to thoroughly enjoy swimming regardless of the fact that I wasn’t good enough to be a real competitor.  Hopefully I don’t have too much further to go before I can enjoy blogging the same way.

This is being published on a Friday, a day which no one wants to admit they were on the internet.  However, I’d like to put myself out there today and say I’m open to suggestions.  If you have anything you’d like to see me post about, let me know.  I’m open to new ideas.  I haven’t nailed down a structure or theme for this blog, although I’ve thought it would be funny if one day it could be a reflection of the silly children’s variety shows (Stanley Spedowsky’s Club House from “UHF”, Pee Wee’s Playhouse, The Bozo Show) of the 70’s and 80’s.  Maybe it doesn’t need a theme.  Maybe I should just be happy with it being whatever I need to write twice a week, and not worry if anyone’s actually reading it…This could be entirely experimental, a test facility to be the birthplace of another, more desirable piece of reading.

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Part 3 – The McGirthy Redemption


I don’t think there’s anything in this world I find more insulting than being lied to.  If you make a mistake, or have a bad past, just come clean and tell me.  At least then we have a starting point, something to work with, and can begin pressing forward from there.  But if we can’t be honest with each other, the both of us are going to be chasing our tails until I find the truth myself and I give you what’s coming to you.  Everyone has their own unique bull crap limit and I think I was about to find mine.

In preparing for the garage sale a day or so later with Turd Muffin still in the hospital for observation, I realized my wife’s sewing machine was missing from our living room.  Five years ago when I got it for her, it costed $75 brand new.  I didn’t have an idea of how much I was going to ask for it at our yard sale, but I did want to sell it.  I called up Collin to ask him where it was.  After a while of dodging my question, he finally hinted that since we were going to sell it at the garage sale, he had hid it under his bathroom sink “with the intention of buying it from us”.  Maybe he was telling the truth.  Why didn’t he just ask first though?  Maybe he wasn’t.  Maybe they were going to hock it off to split a dinner at Chili’s and not say a thing.  Who knows?  Either way, I wasn’t keeping him around long enough to see where this strange friendship that never became was headed.

I packed up both of their things the best I could into an old duffel bag of mine, boxed up the sewing machine for them as a booby prize and stacked it all out on our walkway.  Then I texted Collin and told him their things were packed for them out on the walkway, and he or Molly had better come get them before someone else does.  He tried to act innocent and surprised we weren’t better friends.  Soon, Molly came and got their things and left.  I got a few harassing calls and texts after that from Collin which I avoided, and that was the last I heard from Collin McGirthy.

Thanks to the time lost in all this drama, which I admittedly invited into my own life, the deadline for our move was upon us and left us with no time for a garage sale.  So there was plenty of decent stuff nicely laid out in our garage left behind for the new owners, thieves, or whatever thrift store it ended up in.  It was time to pack up that of our things we were actually taking with us on a long interstate summertime voyage that would prove to be very disastrous.

To loosely quote Steve Martin in an old comedy stand up:  “I break with thee, I break with thee, and I throw dog poop on your shoes” Collin.

Once in awhile, I still wonder about his story.  Where had he really been in life?  What brought about his homelessness?  How many other people had he already used since he became homeless?  Had any abused him?  He did claim to have had previous roommates.  How is his story unfolding now?  Are he and Molly still together?  What about her story?  These things are officially none of my business whatsoever now that I’ve thrust these people from my life, and second how could I ever know the truth being that most of what Collin ever told me was a lie anyway?  They are nonetheless, things I will always wonder about.

Anyhow, my take home after this screwy lesson was that I’m always bumping up against deeper meanings of love and true charity.  They must be something I truly struggle with.  I realize that I did offer Collin a place to stay out of charity.  But once things got ugly, I realized I wasn’t prepared to deal with the consequences of my actions.  Kind of like a hairy man I met knocking doors in the South who answered his door butt naked one morning, I was too busy with life to be able to truly help this guy anyway.  I learned that love expects no specific outcome of charity given.  Love gives out of love.  I was a fool for taking in a needy person and expecting him to use the time to get back to work, even if he originally told me that was his intention.

I view the whole scenario as a failure on so many levels:

  1. A failure to show true charity.
  2. A failure to tell someone “where the buck walks through the buckwheat” when I needed to, to quote my dad.
  3. And lastly, A failure to keep my safety and that of my wife in proper perspective.

All that failing considered, I consider it a solid learning experience and gained firsthand knowledge to back up my previous apprehensions about taking a stranger into my home.  In the end, I know that I actually got off lucky compared to others who have done the same thing.  It scared me to talk about it with my dad afterword and think of other ways this whole experience could have imploded.

Ultra-important to note is that homelessness is a real problem.  There are many thousands of people without a place of their own in this country, whatever their reason may be, and they need help in many different ways.  Are there swindlers out there?  Of course there are!  Does that mean we withhold help from the majority of the homeless?  No.  In the Book of Mormon, there is a great passage which puts forth the proper spirit in which we must address the needs of the less fortunate:

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.

21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.

24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.

26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

 -Mosiah 4:16-27

There are right ways to help the needy, and there are wrong ways (like my story).  There are several things you can actually do to help them along in life, and yet there are things you can do with good intentions, which only place you in danger or enable what is wrong with their lives.  To be of assistance in helping others make better choices that I have, I would like to close by sharing a link to a great post covering the subject, and wish you all love and safety in helping the needy.

8 Ways to Give Directly to People in Need Without “Enabling” Them by Kalen Bruce

Part 2 – Strange Love and the Three Ring Circus


A few days into Collin’s magically weird stay with us, he came home from McDonald’s one afternoon and told me he had met someone special.  She was from the east coast, and was as luck would have it, “totally Irish”, just like him!  We’ll call her Molly Malone.  It was love at first sight!  Maybe they could get a place together and she could take this homeless man off of the streets and make something out of him?!  No such luck.  I would soon find out she was homeless too, although not as homeless as he was.  She at least had a small SUV to sleep in.  Collin asked me if he could borrow a more decent shirt then he then had so he could go to Catholic mass with her that night.  I rarely have much in the way of dress clothes beyond one or two changes, and none of mine would have fit him anyway.  Here’s a fatally electric neon green polo shirt from Costco Collin.  Knock yourself out.  It was a few steps up from the stained t-shirts he had with him, and the largest top I had.

It wasn’t until the arrival of Molly that things really started getting weird.  She unlike Collin, at leat seemed to have legitimate recent employment history, having worked for some health insurance company in her home state.  The next morning, I had the chance to meet Molly myself, as she had slept in her car in front of my house That night.  It turns out she was hiding from an abusive boyfriend who lived somewhere in the area.  Collin would sit in her car with her and they would talk.  Occasionally they would go for a drive to get something to eat, or get things out of her storage unit.  After returning from my own errands that day, Collin asked me if she was allowed to come in our house to hang out with him.  I was totally fine with it, as long as it wasn’t in the bedroom.  Now I had two homeless people in my house just watching Netflix and chillin’ with nowhere to go and nothing to do.  Witnessing their puppy love was an exact mirror to the most obnoxious early teen public display of affection I’ve ever seen.

That night, Molly slept out in her car again.  I can only imagine what my neighbors were starting to think.  At least I was on good terms with most of them.  No one called the police or anything.  My wife and I felt sorry for her, and told her she could sleep in a room on the furthest floor of our house from Collin’s room.  It turns out she has epilepsy.  I won’t make fun of epilepsy, or people who have it.  It’s a legitimate, life-altering sickness that people across the globe and those who love them suffer with daily.  I will however, happily verbally destroy the heck out of people who pretend they have it, as well as other serious health ailments for the purpose of getting attention.  Let me take a moment here to do some of that!

I never saw Molly have a seizure, but there were a few instances when I would come into a room and Collin would be taking care of her because she supposedly had had one.  Her case was at least believable.  She did have prescription bottles of medication with her.  She stopped taking her meds though, purportedly because they didn’t help her anymore, and she was needing to get a new prescription.

Prior to her showing up, I knew that Collin had a few health problems.  But now, he had epilepsy too, as well as frequent strokes!  To me it seemed from this moment on, that whenever he wasn’t getting enough attention, whether from my wife and I or Molly, he would magically have a seizure or a stroke, and he refused to go to the emergency room.  Never mind the fact that he was supposedly unable to help me with packing stuff or preparing for our garage sale; I was suddenly so occupied with worrying about the strange goings on with these two, I could hardly get anything done myself.  Unfortunately for Collin, I am acquainted with people who really have seizures and others who have had strokes, and know well what seizures look like both during and after.  I’ve never witnessed a stroke, but I know what state people are in after, and oddly enough, it has never involved being right as rain the next day.  Oh well, at least it made for some good entertainment knowing he was having to fake all of this.

One day, he “had a stroke”, but miraculously, all that was affected was his speech.  He went around doing everything else as usual, but had to speak as one who was severely mentally handicapped….for less than a day.  When he arose the next morning, he was 100% fine and speaking normally again.  In another instance, he faked a seizure while laying on my front room couch.  I was eating my lunch at the time, and I continued to eat it as he put on his show for me, his 360+ pound self neatly staying on my narrow cushioned couch as he wiggled and kept his arms nicely by his sides.  This act went on for about thirty seconds.  I went into the kitchen just long enough to put my plate in the sink, and when I came back Collin sits up and says to me, “Whoa did you see that?  I just had a seizure!”  Ask anyone close to an epileptic person if that’s how it goes down when having a seizure, and they’ll laugh you right off of your broomstick pony.

Molly had a laptop, and one day they told me that they were looking for places to live in back on the east coast, and that Collin had an uncle who was willing to put down a deposit and the first month’s rent on one of them for him so they could get married and move in together.  They would both get similar jobs to what they had previously had, and they would ride off into the sunset together.  They showed me a picture of a nice looking place they planned on getting.  Good for them!

Another day, I came home to find Collin and Molly talking in her car rather excitedly about something.  I asked them what the problem was, and it became clear that Molly was ultra-platinum level drunk.  She had a tall bottle of hard liquor in her hand, reeked of rotten something, and summoned the dark lord Satan when she turned and spoke to me.  Never mind!  I’ll just go inside and pray for my family and neighborhood!  Hopefully I’d been righteous enough the past year to warrant some serious overwatch from my guardian angels.  I thought I had been pretty clear about the ‘no alcohol or drugs on my property’ rule.  I didn’t think it would be a problem, as both of them had said it wouldn’t be.  But being that Molly was already so dependant on alcohol unbeknownst to me, who was she to care about my rules?  With her problematic car, she could sleep in front of anyone’s house in the entire state of Colorado!

The next day, the negative energy was really coming to a head when I saw them sitting in Molly’s car.  She was crying, and Collin was highly agitated with teary eyes himself.  Molly had just found out her father had passed away back east.  Her family was wanting to fly her and even Collin home for the funeral, but supposedly Collin’s PTSD from the Army was so severe, he couldn’t take a seat on a plane, paid for or not.  PTSD?  What PTSD?  Other than his fake seizures and strokes, Collin had been as calm and chill as a spring morning all covered in dew, from dawn to dusk his entire stay with us, but now he’s a severe PTSD sufferer too?

Collin came prancing into the house like a dramatic child who just had his feelings hurt by the neighbor kid, and working up the best fake cry he could to tell me about how messed up he was about it all.  Uh oh Collin!  Now Molly has bigger drama in her life than you!  Think quick!  Do something!  Ope, time for another seizure!  That’ll take the focus off of her even though her dad just died!  After talking to me for two minutes, he walked back out to Molly’s car to talk with her for a minute.  Then he turns back to come into the house and has another fake, and equally as fast “seizure” in the middle of my front yard.  Except after this time, he’s talking like Forrest Gump X10 again.  Wait Collin!  I thought you only talked like that when you had a stroke?

Still trying to gather up all the sympathy and attention he can for himself with Molly being in shambles at just having been informed of her father’s passing (How dare she?!), Collin walks up to me and in his slower than slow voice tells me he thinks it’s time he finally goes to the emergency room.  She obviously wants nothing to do with him for now, so it’s up to me to get him there.  The hospital is five minutes away from my house without traffic; so even though I know he’s full of crap and part just to get him out of my hair for at least six hours, I took him.  Amazingly, this guy had his wits about him enough to remember to grab his smart phone and charging chord on the way out the door, and only a minute after having a seizure!  Could you believe it?!?!  Neither did I.

I had to drop him off in order to go park a whole 30 yards away.  When I came in, Collin was not in the waiting room, but rushed to the back because of his supposedly life-threatening predicament.  I spoke with a man at the main desk who was seated next to a cop, and told them who I had just brought in, and asked if I could go back with him to make sure he was going to be okay.  The man in a suit told me there was no one admitted by that exact name.  He probably wasn’t supposed to tell me this, but a man that had just come in had registered under the same first name, but a different last name.  He gave me a sticker to put on my shirt, and told me what room number Collin would be in.  I realized that if Collin was comfortable lying about his name to either me, or the hospital, which he obviously had to at least one of us, that he would be comfortable lying to anyone about anything.

When I got to his room, he was somewhere else having tests done.  20 minutes later, he was back.  I just didn’t have anything to say to him.  Keeping in character, he told me I didn’t need to stay, so I gladly left and wondered what I was going to do with this compulsive liar and his sad girlfriend.

To be continued…




The Strange Tale of Collin McGirthy



If you have an open mind, and live long enough, you may have the chance to look back on your personal history and recognize patterns in the landscape of your journey.  These commonalities within our background show us our strengths, and weaknesses.  They come to us quite naturally from a God who put us where we are in life because of what we are made of individually and what we have yet to gain.  These patterns may not be found by each in the same season of life, as we all have different gifts, and are on different paths.  Hopefully, when we do recognize the areas of mental and moral infirmity, we can direct extra effort towards making them stronger.

An experience I had this last summer brought one of my weaknesses into focus, and aside from having already told some of friends about it, and it being a screwy experience to relive, I feel for some reason I need put it down in writing.

For almost six years, we lived in Aurora, Colorado.  We really weren’t all that far from home compared to other servicemen I knew, but somehow, it turned out to be as great an adventure as I could have wanted in it’s own way.  I was stationed there in the Army for most of that time, and after I got out, my wife and I decided to stick around a while so I could go to school there.

In the end though, my anxiety and depression became so out of control that I had to drop out of school.  It was a big blow to me to have to stop, but also a dire one to our income.  I had been receiving financial assistance from the government to help pay rent while going to school because I was enrolled in the Vocational Rehab program.  That dried up pretty quickly once I was out of school.  We tried adjusting our budget the best we could, but eventually, we had fallen far behind on all of our bills, including the mortgage.  I guess we were totally in denial, thinking somehow, we’d fix our situation, until one day we got a letter of foreclosure in the mail.

Two families close to me have lost their homes to such a thing in recent years, and both stories shed light on how sad it really is when people are abruptly forced to downsize their lives, and have their credit otherwise seriously tarnished, if only for a handful of years.  Not wanting to know their pain first hand, we decided to sell our house real quick and get into less of a financial commitment elsewhere.  The house was sold, we had  over a month to get out, and the boys were out of state staying with my in-laws for the summer to help ease the situation.

One night, my wife and I took our laptop to McDonald’s to use their wifi for house shopping and to get ill eating their almost-warm food.  We were probably there four times longer that night than if we had gone for the purpose of getting diarrhea alone.  Somehow, we ended up talking to this bald-headed, bearded man who was sitting in the table next to ours.  Come to find out, he was also an Army veteran, or so we were told.  To number one, protect the names of the guilty, and number two, not give any credit to a turd muffin who lied to us 24/7 and used us,  I have decided to call him Collin McGirthy, paying tribute to his proud Irish heritage, and large size.

Collin was a good ol’ big-talkin’ country boy from Middle of Nowhere, USA, where he proudly told us we should move because of the advantageous decrease in real estate prices.  We didn’t speak with him long, as he was in the midst of flirting on and off with a would-be girlfriend on his smartphone.  But we did exchange phone numbers, because it had come up that I was looking for a job, and supposedly, he had hookups.  I would come to regret it less than a day later.

The next morning, I got a text message from him saying that his roommates had kicked him out and he was probably going to have to walk all the way back home to Oklahoma.  He just needed a place to stay while he got back on his feet at his horse ranch job that was starting back up in a week or so.  As well taken care of as he had me thinking he was the night before, I should have just ignored his text and gone about my day.  I’ve never been one to even as much pull over on the side of the road to help a broken down motorist, for fear of being mugged; and I would certainly never pick up a hitchhiker.  Everyone knows that stuff is dangerous, duh!  This was different though, this guy was nice, and he had served multiple tours to the middle-east as an Army ranger.  He had to be good stuff!  Stupid me.

I called my wife and told her about his situation.  I wanted to help him in some way, I just wanted to talk it over with her to see what was possible for us.  Then I got this bright idea to invite him to stay with us for our last month in our house.  What could it hurt?  I don’t have to worry about our boys, they’re gone.  We didn’t have much worth stealing.  Our generic brand TV was almost 5 years old and already having problems.  He didn’t seem like a dangerous guy.  What the heck, we’d invite him to come stay with us until we were moved out.

I called him and in exchange for $90 rent, offered him a room to stay in for our final month in our home.  He said he could pay us in a week.  The money wasn’t going to change our lives or anything, I just wanted to see some small evidence that he had an ounce of respect for me and my home.  In the end, he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain.  He did a few chores, which I guess in his mind was supposed to be the $90, but we never saw a cent.  He very pitifully accepted, trying to work up whatever sympathy for himself he could.  Maybe it worked.  I started to sense he was a turd, but didn’t think him to be one I should fear.  This would all be great.  He’d get back to work, and he even promised he’d help us pack our stuff into boxes for the move.  I think he was under the impression that the best way to find work was by watching Netflix all day.  Maybe he was brushing up on his acting skills, I don’t know.

I picked him up one McDonald’s further from where we had met the night before.  I think homeless people each possess a magic ring that opens portals which take them to any Mickey D’s location they can think of.  Anyway, he stunk a lot worse at this McDonald’s than the last one, maybe because they hadn’t gotten into the full swing of cooking all their nasty food yet.  So we stopped at King Soopers on the way home to buy him some basic toiletries.

We gave him the boy’s bedroom complete with clean sheets and towels etc. and things were somewhat normal the first few days.  I told him he could eat anything he wanted.  I just never imagined he’d eat four pounds of cheddar in less than ten days!  At first I was a little irritated, because my wife and I had planned on using a little of it for a dinner, but I did after all tell him he could eat whatever he wanted.  Lesson learned I guess.

My wife and I started noticing he was a big BS’er.  He was full of all kinds of ‘One-Upper’ stories.  Some were about how well he had it back in Oklahoma (which often made us wonder what the heck he was doing eating Big Macs in the hood).  Others were about his brave mother before she died, or how he had punched out his former Marine sperm donor of a father the last of only a few times he’d seen him in his whole life.  He had mentally painted me a picture of quite an impressive farmhouse complete with everything you could ever want including acreage, livestock, a small armory, a fancy room decorated in ninja swords, dragons, and waterfalls entirely dedicated to his pursuit of meditation, and a small herd of purebred dogs.  Somehow all this was maintained on his fabulous salary he earned helping on someone else’s ranch.  Whatever Collin.  We’re so happy for you, and glad you somehow chose to bless us of all people with your presence, given you had such better possibilities.

I didn’t allow him to use our computer because we so often used it for personal matters including purchases.  So every day, he would hobble down to McDonald’s a few blocks away to use their wifi on his phone.  It wouldn’t be long though before Collin found his “soul mate”….

— To be continued–