These Things Don’t Celebrate Themselves

Anticlimax

Well, it happened today. We signed on the line, several times, and closed the sale of our last Assisted Living location. And, yet, no exclamation points. For the size of this deal, and the impact it will have on my life, I had thought that there would be. I can see why companies plan parties, or at least dinners, to celebrate big milestones: these things just don’t celebrate themselves.

I should have expected this anticlimactic letdown after signing a bunch of documents. It was the same way just 7 months ago when we closed on the sale of our other businesses.  But this one just snuck up on me.

A Tale of Two Transactions

When we started our first transaction, they promised that they could close in 90 days. That seemed great. Until the first extension, then the second, then the third, then the I-forget-how-many-this-is. I learned to just treat each coming deadline as an opportunity for the deal to take an extra month or two. Eighteen months later we finally closed, in a surprise failure to extend another time.

When we signed the papers on that day, there was a palpable feeling of relief. Not excitement, but relief. It was done. We had survived. Even picking up the checks a week later – yes, we’re old fashioned like that – seemed more a formality than a cause for celebration. I couldn’t even spend it since my bank put another hold on the check to make sure it cleared.

With that experience as background, I approached this sale ready for a marathon.

I had a brief burst of energy gathering all of the due diligence information before leaving for a week at the end of April, even before we had signed the actual sale agreement. After that I settled in and started doing my warm-up stretches. I answered a few emails and got the last few items the buyers requested. But I had done all of that before – a long time before. I then settled in to await the first extension request.

On Tuesday, I came in to work after the holiday weekend, and heard that we were not signing documents on the 31st. “That’s okay,” I thought, “there was one extension provision until 28 June.” Then I got the shocker: we were actually signing a day early, on 30 May. (That statement may have warranted an exclamation mark.)

So, two days later, in we went to sign away the rights to our last remaining assisted living business in exchange for a few numbers jumping between one bank and another. In a final lunge of anticlimax, the title company had all of the documents ready except for the settlement statement. So, we efficiently signed everything in quadruplicate and waited. And waited. After half an hour, our attorney suggested that we head out and they would send the last pages to us to sign and return via email.

So, here I sit with my lunch of pistachios and soy nuts, instead of a celebration meal somewhere, because there is still one document left to sign. And I’m waiting for it.

What Is Real?

As I drove my dad back to our office, he commented that the whole experience seemed surreal.  When does it become real that I won’t be driving down to Orem any more Mondays for our meetings? When will reality set in that I have almost nothing to do at the office? What will this new reality feel like? If the last closing was any indication, it will feel a lot like the last month, and the month before that. There are final bills to process, files to get to storage; there’s that last payroll on Monday. My task list will still be filled for another month, at least. Maybe not full-time filled, but still part-time full.

And, lest I forget, there’s next year, when for another four months we’ll have employees calling to find out where their lost W-2 forms are, right up to tax day.

So, at around 11:30 this morning, my life changed in a huge way, to be just about the same as it was.

I guess the first thing that I should add to my task list is to celebrate that.

Specific Trumps General

Non-compete Agreement Revisited

So, a while ago I wrote a post about career opportunities. Okay, I know that it’s been a while since I wrote about anything. But, I did write about those career options a while ago. In that listing of potential jobs, I had a lot of general ideas: get another degree, get a job at [fill-in-the-blank] store, be a corporate trainer. I also included two very specific ideas for a new career: starting Black Ops Consulting and becoming a business coach with EMyth.

So, why bring up the subtle nuances of this list? Why not? Because it’s my blog and I can? No, neither of those. It is this: I got the specifics. It’s that simple. The two ideas that I had specifically named the opportunity and the company came to me. The rest foundered.

EMyth Business Coach

Have I really not shared anything about my coach training? I’ll claim that I’ve been very busy for the past month. About one month ago I took my family to Portland, Oregon. While there we spent a weekend on the coast with Nicole’s sister, Elise. Then I spent four days in intensive training while my family enjoyed the city. Following that, I’ve just completed the first two weeks of a 20 week training course, that seems about as intensive as any college class that I’ve ever taken. Including my Marketing Management case studies course. (If you lived it, you know.)

So, I am not clearly on the path to become an EMyth business coach. That first specific idea is coming to fruition. I am buried up to my eyeballs in training, but it is for a great purpose and I am completely excited by the prospect. I AM GOING TO BE AN EMYTH BUSINESS COACH! Yep, it sounds right even when I yell it. However, that cam with a small twist. EMyth is no longer hiring employees to do their business coaching. They are contracting with independent business owners to provide coaching on their platform. That leads us to the next specific opportunity that I identified…

Black Ops Consulting

I am, indeed, starting up my own business coaching company. Black Ops Consulting is not going to hang on my doorway, however. I changed the name, but it is based on the specific idea that I had.

Beyond Imagination Business Coaching

Right here, you are reading first that I am the proud owner of Beyond Imagination Business Coaching, LLC. The name is registered, and I’m enrolled with the IRS and everything.  Because of the change in EMyth’s policy on coaching, I got the opportunity – quite unexpectedly – to pursue two of the most specific dreams on my new career list. I am nearly ready to hang out my shingle and look for clients, as soon as I have clearance from EMyth to start coaching their process. I’m sure that you’ll see even more about this new company if I have a minute anywhere to update what I’m doing professionally.

Beyond Imagination Business Coaching-06-01

Beyond Imagination Business Coaching logo


Specifics Happen

So, why is it that the specifics came about while the generalities all sat unrealized? Choose your philosophy or religion and there is an explanation. Whether it involves putting something out into the universe and it coming back; or the power of positive thinking bringing it about; or even just sheer, dumb luck. I didn’t think that I was going to get religious here, but it seems that is the logical conclusion for this post. My belief is that I was inspired to name two very specific career paths among many, as those were the paths that I was meant to pursue. Their existence in my reality is both a predictor and confirmation of that path. I think that a lot of “coincidental” specifics are brought into our lives in this way, and that we are often guided by a divine hand toward an outcome that is best for us. At least I feel that happens in my life.

Demotivational Posters

I have a young friend — and for me that means that he’s in his early 20s — who likes demotivational posters. When I say he likes demotivational posters, I mean that he likes them all — the entire genre in all of its forms. He has shared with me scores of these posters. While I don’t find all of them to be a ROTFL funny as he does, I do find a number to be quite funny. With that and my current state of employment, I decided to create my own demotivational poster.

Unemployment

Demotivational poster about unemployment? Who needs that kind of help?

How do I best explain my current employment state? I am (obviously from the picture above) not unemployed. However, after our business sold our three biggest properties, I am not as fully employed as I was a few months ago. I am in an interesting state of transition.

Let me clarify: I am in no way complaining about the state that I’m in. It is a very good state compared to many others who are not doing unemployment wrong. I know that I am incredibly blessed to be able to transition careers while still earning an income. I know that most people don’t have that luxury. There, now you know that I’m not upset, but just observing my current reality.

I created the image above a few months ago, and I’ve been wondering how my life would come around to it since then. I have received very good counsel on how to handle unemployment. I attended a Career Workshop a few months ago. I still have a bunch of things to do to improve my résumé and get my job search profile up to date on several key sites.

I do have a great opportunity that I’m pursuing with E-Myth as a business coach. I am pursuing that new career. However, I do want to get my past experience up-to-date so that I don’t have to recreate it all if I ever make a change in the future.

So, how am I doing unemployment wrong? I’m still showing up at work every day, and still getting a paycheck.

This means that I have some tickets to Deer Valley that are sitting unused as the season ends. This means that I keep thinking that I can get to the lake for a couple of necessary projects, but can’t. This means that I’m still a work-a-day schlep at the office.

I’d better not complain too loudly.

What Were My Parents Thinking?

Teenagers on the Autobahn

When I was a senior in high school my good friend ,Jeff Young, and I wanted to go to Europe for a graduation trip and drive the autobahn. That was about the entire point of the trip was just to get on the autobahn and drive a rental car as fast as it could possibly go. So we got our parents together presented the idea to a resounding no. Ne took that absolute denial and transitioned it over to a somewhat – though scarcely – more reasonable request of  driving the entire United States. This became the plan

We would spend two weeks driving 5,000 miles around America. I mean, it wouldn’t be that bad as long as we didn’t drive to Florida, right?

We Can Actually Go

Now, there were some mitigating factors that made it a little more reasonable to send two 17-year-old boys on such an insane odyssey. i’ll address these one at a time

The first factor was that this was not Germany, and we would not be driving a rental car – that we probably wouldn’t have been able to rent anyway – down the speed unlimited Autobahn. This was America, the home of the double nickel speed limit.

Then there was the agenda. we would spend the first night of our journey with my cousins, the Andersons, in Albequerque. our second stop would be with my friend’s neighbor’s relative near Dallas, then we’d stop with my Reed cousins in Houston. The next stop was with Junior Miss Alabama, who Jeff had met at some BYU thing. From there we were unsupervised until we arrived at my family friends, the Eihmann family in Sioux Falls, then finished up with more family friends in the Wulff family in Wyoming.

On the Road

Something that I learned this trip, that has held true on every road trip that i’ve taken since is this: the first day of a road trip is the longest. It may not have the most miles, or the most time in the car, but it is the longest. Your body hasn’t adjusted to the rigors of sitting for four hours, standing up long enough to fuel the car and eat a meal, then repeating. That takes some discipline. This is the trip where I first learned to develop that discipline. Even so, we took lot of unnecessary breaks on the first day.We did, however, survive Route 666 through Colorado and New Mexico. Unfortunately, I will never again be able to drive that road, as it was renamed a few years a back. I have driven the same asphalt, but it is just not the same as driving the highway of the beast. first day. After passing countless large trucks, we ended the day with my cousins in Albuquerque. They took us on a tour of their city, with the native American craft area, and Tramway Bouldvard. Cool first day.

An Alternate Ending

So, what brought this story to my mind right now? I spent a little time recently with a friend who had a very similar plan for her Senior trip with her best friend. While I was driving Route 666 into New Mexico, they were traveling I-80 across a the salt flats of Utah. Their trip ended abruptly in a violent crash on that first day. I’ve thought many times how blessed I was to have made my trip safely while two friends did not, and had their whole lives change abruptly that day. Seeing her again brought that NAC to me. It also brought back his whole trip. Let me now return to my tale.

On the Road, Again

Jeff took the driving on the second day, and I took shogun. We crossed west Texas very quickly, apparently too quickly. Somewhere just outside of Wichita Falls, Texas, we got pulled over. Jeff quickly pulled down the radar detector, and acted all repentant. We heard the trooper say into his radio, “We caught that out of state offender.” I guess that the eyes of Texas had been upon us all day long. We covered the ground from there to Dallas a little more slowly.

Acura Integra

Not the actual car, but just like the one that I wanted to put longhorns on.

Somewhere in Texas, I had the brilliant thought to get a set of longhorns and mount them to the front of my car, a 1988 Acura Integra. While I had hoped this would give my car the vibe of  Boss Hogg’s Cadillac from Dukes of Hazzard, I think it would not have translated so well to a Japanese “rice burner”. Fortunately (in the long-term), we never found a spot where we could buy the horns for the car. It was really a bummer at the time, however.

Somewhere else along the way, but probably on a different day that we decided to buy longhorns, I discovered that you can find country music anywhere in this country. As we crossed vast expanses of nothing, we used the auto-tune feature in the car’s radio. This found the six strongest radio stations and put them on the presets. Every time this scan brought in a selection of country music. For a couple of New Wave lovers like us, this was a major disappointment every time we tried it. We found country music on FM radio, long before XM brought music to every inch of America. Oh, what we would have paid for this technology to be crated and implemented 20 years ahead of its time.

The trip from Dallas to Houston was quite fun. We packed a picnic and stopped at a roadside rest stop. We listened to endless trucker banter on our CB radio. Yup, you read that right, we used citizen band radio. Never heard of it? Ask your parents, or look it up on Wikipedia.

In Houston, my Aunt Susan hooked us up for a date with two of the young women in her ward. We went to NASA’s mission control. Since Apollo 13 hadn’t come out as a movie yet, we didn’t even know that we should tell Houston that we had a problem. I think that we made it to Galveston too, very briefly. It was fun to hang out with a couple of girls for a day. Hmm… I wonder why I never kept in touch with them. I’m sure at least one of them made it to BYU.

If you’ve never driven across Louisiana, you really should once – although I have – but you really should experience it once. You don’t need to do it again after that. But, the bridges on the Interstate as it crosses the swamps and bayous of Louisiana make for some incredible driving. The exits seem to drop directly into the water of the swamp. See it once in your life: it’s worth it. After enjoying that part of the day we then completed the longest leg of the trip to Dothan, AL.

Remember how I said that the entire trip wouldn’t qualify as totally insane as long as we didn’t go into Florida? The trip became totally insane on a Saturday. We went with our hosts from Alabama to a cave in Florida. That’s right: we drove from Salt Lake City, Utah to Florida. The cave was cool, and Jeff thought that our hostess, Junior Miss Alabama, was cute. I let him flirt, it seemed harmless. (It turns out that it was harmless, once Jeff saw her at BYU the next winter, completely shielded from the cold like the Michelin Man, all bets were off.)

Dothan was where we stopped for church. I learned there that it is common practice for multiple churches in the same town to all let out at noon. The church that lets out first, gets its parishioners to the restaurants before the lines. We joined this strange pilgrimage on this particular Sunday. There are a number of churches in Dothan, all clustered together in the town; we drove past the emptying parking lots of each as we sped from church to the restaurant of choice of our host family.

We drove through the fog in the Smoky Mountains, past the Jack Daniels distillery. We wondered what they’d do with a couple of minors who stopped int to tour, but kept driving. We got to Nashville around dinner time ad grabbed the first roadside hotel that we found. It would have been a lot more fun to look for something closer to the city, rather than taking a rough neighborhood in the suburbs. Hey, we were only 17, remember? What did we know about choosing hotels? Or about booking in advance?

When we stopped for gas just outside of Nauvoo, Illinois, we discovered that one of the front tires was down to the steel belt. How that happened without our noticing previously is a mystery. But, we figured that we should probably replace the tire. Just because wee were 17 didn’t mean that we were stupid. So, we got some advice and the next morning visited a tire shop in Ames, Iowa. I don’t remember if we were able to replace just the one tire, or if we had to replace both front tires, but either way, at least they could help us, because we hadn’t worked an extra day into the trip for car maintenance. You have to remember that this was in the days before cell phones. We couldn’t just call home to check in or update our itinerary. We would have to get to a home before we could make contact. Did the tire wear completely from the trip? Probably not. It as most likely wearing out before we left, but because the wear was on the inside edge of the tire, none noticed it. Three thousand miles of use certainly didn’t help solve the alignment issue, however.

We left home with a Chevron card for gas, my parents’ credit card for emergencies and some cash for the rest of the trip. We quickly learned that the Chevron card was useless east of New Mexico. Our “emergencies” card ended up fueling the car almost the entire trip.Having grown up in Utah, we had no idea that Texaco, Shell, Esso, and other gas stations dominated the South and Midwest. Between that and the new tires, we owed my parents a lot of money by the time we got back.

As we drove through Iowa, we stopped in the city where I was born. I thought it would be cool to see the house that I lived in before I had any memories. However, it was only as we pulled into the city that I realized that I had not brought an address with me. I don’t know what I was thinking: if I thought that some instinct would guide me back to the place of my birth, or if it was just the inexperience of youth. We did try to find a pay phone to call my parents for some assistance, but somehow that call never came about. Even if they had been able to tell us an address, I don’t know how we would have found the place. GPS didn’t exist, and we didn’t have a good map of the town. I guess we would have tried a gas station for directions. That’s what people used to do, you know. So, we left my birth town rather disappointed, and continued on to our home for that night: Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with my Sunbeam teachers, the Eichmann family.

The Eichmanns showed us around Sioux Falls. This was cool, because this was my second home. They took me past the hues that I lived in when I was three, and shared the rest of their city with us. We saw the falls after which the city is named, went past the packing plant that employes a lot of the population. It was a fun day.

Wall_Drug_Sign

This is a typical Wall Drug billboard, except that many tell how many miles remain.

Leaving Sioux Falls, there was only one thing that kept going through our mind, even more than getting back home or seeing Mount Rushmore: Wall Drug. Why Wall Drug you may ask? It was the billboards. The incessant bill boards. They have a board about every five miles across the entire state! So, we did see Mount Rushmore, and I think that it was pretty cool, once we finally got pats the U-Haul that couldn’t get up the incline. But then we kept going to Wall Drug. The city of Wall, South Dakota is kind of like Main Street in Disneyland. The entire main drag is one connected store with many store fronts. You can enter the store anywhere you want and wander through every store on that side of the street, checking out anywhere that is convenient. We did get the free water that they advertised to lure in the unsuspecting. I also walked away with a high quality do nothing machine. I mean, first I paid for it at a convenient register, then walked away with it. Thank goodness, too, because I need something to keep me going through Wyoming.

The Wulff family, good friends of my parents, gave us our last stop of the trip. I can’t remember if the statue of Lincolm overlooking I-80 was before or after their house, but it is about the only thing that stood out to me through all of Wyoming. Let me know if I missed something. After an evening with them, it was home again, home again, jigged jig.

Looking Back

I’ve since driven to and from Florida a few more times. One time in a U-Haul of my own, and another I even put-putted across America with my brother. (If it’s still there, try the Congo in Orlando, Florida, and we found a great 27 hole course in Oklahoma.) But, this was my first time to see so much out this country and take a truly epic road trip. I don’t think it will every totally fade from memory.

Will I let my kids take a trip this truly epic? I don’t see that I have much choice, provided it is as well chaperoned as mine was.

Don’t Blog About That

In Ward choir today, the conductor turned to the men — who, amazingly were actually being good and practicing along with the women at this point — and said, “You guys need to be quiet.” She then looked at me and asked, “Have you ever heard that before?”

I’d finish the story, but I was then told, and I was given permission to quote her on this, by Shannon Farner, “Don’t blog about that.” So, I won’t.

Instead, I’ll think about things that I’m probably not supposed to blog about. Because that’s just the kind of thing that I do, and I can’t think of a better way to respond to a request ot sequester my freedom of press.

I think that my approach to blogging, and to social media in general, is to notice what goes on around me, find the unusual or humorous, then just repeat that. Isn’t much of life just like that? However, I’m probably not supposed to blog about things that could embarrass others.

I shouldn’t talk about the child who stood today and said, “I’d like to bury my testimony…” I don’t want to mock. I am incredibly proud of a child being able to get up in front of a congregation of a few hundred people and share things that they believe, even if they don’t understand all of the words that the adults use when they talk about those spiritual things. (For those who aren’t members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the typical phrase is “I’d like to bear my testimony…”)

My wife tells me all the time that I shouldn’t put something on Facebook. Usually she’s right, but almost without exception, the thing that was just censored would have been really funny. At least in my mind. Her advice is so common, that I can’t even remember the opening line to any of the things that never got posted. I do think that my kids would bear the brunt of my overly open nature, however.

Ooh, like the time that Beth… wait, I probably should blog about that either.

So, to Sister Farner, thank you for reminding me of a great blogging topic, even if I couldn’t finish the story. I’m not offended, and I hope that you aren’t either.

Thanks for reading what I shouldn’t have blogged about.

Split Your Pants Laughing

First of all, let me clarify that I have never split my pants because I laughed that hard. I have laughed a lot in my life, and I have split my pants; but the two have never been causally related. While I’m not going to tell you about times in my life when I’ve laughed in this post, I am going to tell you about two times when I’ve split my pants. I hope that by the end you will either laugh or split your own pants, or both.

Dry Cleaning

My first experience is a rather sad one. Everyone take the grin off your faces from that first paragraph and replace it with a sad-for-me frown. Ready? Really? Okay, that’s better. I want to see frowns on everyone for this story because it is sad for me and turns out rather expensive.

A few weeks ago I sent a few suits out for dry cleaning, as that is about the only way to clean a suit that kids have ever so sweetly rested their precious heads on and drooled. (Sorry, sad; not funny.) My black suit was in this batch. That is the suit that we will focus on for a while, so forget about the others.

I got my black suit back from the cleaners, and chose to wear it to church the next Sunday. I got up and ready for church in the aforementioned black suit, and looked pretty good. We got the family ready and off to church. While I was playing with Andrew in the nursery waiting for his teacher to arrive, I bent over and heard a universally recognizable sound: the sound of pants ripping along a seam. Woe is me! I am at the church, waiting for meetings to start, and now have pants with a rip somewhere near my bum. I sucked it up, literally and figuratively, and attended my meetings, grateful to be able to sit for most of the time.

When I got home, I realized that it was the fabric that had ripped near the seam, not the stitching. To me that means that it’s time for new pants. So the pants went into the trash, and the coat became a sports coat, rather than a suit jacket.

Last Sunday I was dressing for church in my blue suit. (Yes, we can now remember that I have other suits, because the narrative now requires that.) I got the pants on, then went around the house getting breakfast ready for my family, etc. When I returned to my closet, I just grabbed the jacket to the suit and headed out the door. When the light of day shone on my suit, I realized that the jacket and pants did not match. Great. The dry cleaners messed up my order and swapped jackets with someone else. I think that I’ll curse those dry cleaners to no end.

When I got home, I put the suit away, and found that the blue suit jacket in the closet did, indeed, match my suit pants. I had just worn my black sports coat with my blue suit pants. I think that the black sports coat now needs to go. AFter apologizing in my mind for all the thoughts that I had about the dry cleaners, I returned to my regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon.

As an upshot from all of this, I think that I’ll give my black sports coat to charity. I just bought a new black suit that I can wear as a unit, and not get confused with other items in my closet. So for only the cost of one new suit, I got out of this pants-splittingly funny story.

Christmas of ’93

Now that you all feel properly sorry for me, and now that I’ve made you read 500 words without laughing, you can all now put your happy faces back on for this next story. It is far enough into the recesses of memory that it is now funny to me as well. (Okay, it was funny at the time too.)

I sang in the Salt Lake Institute of Religion show choir, Encore, during my college years. I sang in a lot of performing groups during my formative years, but all the other groups will have to wait their turns for their moment of glory. During the Christmas season of 1993, the choir was struggling to reach our stride. We were going through the motions of performances, but never really conveying any joy or excitement to our audiences. We were boring, to put it bluntly.

One evening we had a performance at a church building. This particular night I had chosen to bring my (at the time) girlfriend along to watch the show. I guess it must have been a Friday or Saturday to warrant a date night. Well, this show started out much the same as the other lack-luster performances of that season. Then, a few numbers into the show I performed my personal achilles heel of dance moves: the basket catch. (Oh, I have a history with the basket catch, but I’ll only share this event today.) I was bored on stage and thought that I’d just dip a bit lower to catch my partner than usual. What I hadn’t realized was that I had grabbed my too small black pants this night. (What is it with me and black pants?) As I crouched down to catch my partner, I heard the granddaddy of all pant rips. I knew that it was bad, but I had not idea just how bad it was since I was still dancing and smiling for the audience.

I very soon got an idea of the extensive nature of this pant split. For the rest of this performance, there was a wedge of excitement that broke out behind my behind. The choir members smiled more. They got a laughing twinkle in their eyes. Somehow, this excitement followed me around the stage. I realized that it must have been the zebra stripe running down my derriere. It was bad.

I got thinking that I had a few spins in the choreography. My only hope was to make these the fastest spins that I could do, so the entire audience didn’t see my undies. Somehow, I pulled it off. I did the spins without anyone in the audience noticing the gap in my trousers. (And it strikes me to tell you to please not ask why I had too-small pants in my closet in the first place. I don’t remember.) Not even my girlfriend noticed. Yup, I was that good. My pants were split out from waist band to zipper and nobody off the stage had any idea.

As the performance concluded, our director came back stage to congratulate us on finally having the energy on stage to convince the audience that we were having a good time. Everyone jus broke out laughing when he said this. It turns out that he had not idea either why we got so energetic during that show.

For a while I counted this as one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. Now, I count it as one of the great stories.

Moral

So, what is the lesson for today? Is there any moral to these stories? When I started writing I didn’t think that there was; I just thought that I’d share a couple of pants splitting funny stories, but as I’ve shared these experiences I’ve realized that there is a moral to be had from all of this.

Beware of black pants. You may think that they’re your friends, but really they’re just waiting to bite you in the butt.

The Case of Missing Business Cards

Foreword

When I was in 8th grade (or E Form as we labelled it in my school), I was so laconic that my English (and Latin) teacher commented once that if I ever wrote a mystery novel, it would be about five pages long. Here is that mystery.

Chapter 1: Wednesday

Last Wednesday afternoon as I furiously scrambled around to get ready for the Scout  parent meeting I was holding that night, I had the great idea to give all of the parents in attendance one of the personal business cards that I had been advised to make.

Let me back up a few weeks to the LDS Employment Career Workshop that I attended. At that workshop, we were urged to get business cards that were simply personal: no current business, no side job. Just us. So I ordered a box. I got one box of cards that were just me: my name, phone number, how to find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, my website. Me. I then waited two weeks for them to arrive in the mail. (Thank you, VistaPrint for great prices and slow shipping.)

When the cards arrived, I excitedly put a handful into my iPad folio, then closed the box. These personal cards accompanied another two boxes of cards that I had made for my new podcast. The podcast cards had been properly stored in my basement office. The personal cards were in for a more exciting journey.

Back now to last Wednesday. I grabbed the five cards that I had in my folio pocket, then set out to get a few more. This began three days of searching and frustration. It was a good thing that I already had the meeting planned out when I started looking because I turned the house upside down during the next 40 minutes. I searched my bedroom, closet; I hunted through the family room and kitchen, including the two drawers that are assigned to me to keep my quick grab stuff. I looked through the dining room and “home teacher” room. Then it was out to the garage. I even went through the truck. No cards. So, I went back through my quick grab locations, and again around the sofa where I (sloppily, I know) often drop my bags when I get home. Nothing, and now it was time for the meeting.

I got through the meeting and returned home. At that point I again scoured everyplace that I had looked previously, hoping that I had missed something. The one thing that I did know was that the kids had not found the box, because then there would have been 245 business cards strewn around the house, and hopefully a box at one end of the trail of detrius.

Chapter 2: Thursday

Thursday morning dawned bright and cold. I got up early and made another sweep of the house in search of the missing cards. That morning I spotted two boxes in the basement, only to realize that they each contained the cards for the podcast. At least I knew that I could spot the right style of box. I went to work, hoping that I had — somehow — not brought the whole box home, but only the few cards stuffed into my folio. When I arrived after an uneventful commute, I searched my office. It didn’t take long as there are only four drawers and two storage cubbies where I could put things. The business cards still eluded me after my exhaustive search of my workplace. Wherever could they be?

At the end of ht workday, I returned home, asking my wife, holding my hands in a roughly box-like shape, “Have you seen a box about this big?” Her response was quick and painful in the negative. I was still on the hunt. Through the course of the night I again retraced my steps through all of the areas where I would have, or even could have, hidden a box of business cards for safe keeping. I even dug deeper into storage spaces and shelves that I have never used since we moved into the house. I retired for the night a beaten man, still without any personally identifying cards.

Chapter 3: Friday

The phrase, “Have you seen a box about this big?” became my entry and exit line for every scene that I played at my house. I asked my wife at breakfast, whenever I called on the phone. It was my all consuming mission: to find the business cards. Around noon on Friday, I resigned myself to the possibility that the cards may have been thrown out with some trash and that I may have to order new ones. I found the order and considered the price. However, I thought that I would wait for one more sweep of the house that night before placing the order, and closed the browser window, unsatisfied.

After running a few errands on my way home, I stepped through the door with my now hauntingly familiar query for my wife, “Have you seen a box about this big?” Her reply this time was different, and cryptic; she replied, “Did you see my text?” I was taken aback, and repeated my query, to the same reply. At this point, I pulled my phone from my breast pocket and searched for a text from Nicole.

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Her response echoed the words spoken by Nephi she he went the third time to claim the Plates of Brass from Laban, “And I was aled by the Spirit, not bknowing beforehand the things which I should do.” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 4:6) And the image that accompanied the words was one of the cards! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

With this great burden lifted, I asked Nicole where she had found the cards. She replied that she had been told by the Holy Spirit to got to the garage. Her thought was that I had gone through the garage already (multiple times). However, she was prompted to look in a box of first aid supplies that I had prepared for Scouts a week prior. There she saw a blue box that looked like a box of bandages, but on closer inspection was the box of missing business cards.

I gave her a big hug and kiss, and thanked her for solving this mystery for me. Her reply was that now she hoped that I could pay attention to her and the kids rather than obsession of the silly cards.

My first act with this new knowledge was to post this wonderful victory on Facebook.

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And so it ended. The box of business cards now rests in its proper place in my basement office, aside the podcast cards.

Epilogue

So now, when my wife asks if I’ve seen anything, I simply reply, “No, but you’re talking to the guy who lost a box of business cards.”

Coolest People in the World

I’ve long known that skiers are some of the coolest people in the world. It’s just a fact. Let me clarify.

I spent yesterday afternoon and evening conducting interviews for the Weekend Water Skier Podcast, a little thing that I do on the side. I had the chance to interview seven people for the show, and talk with a lot of others off-mic.

I don’t know many other sports where I could wander a convention floor and talk with professional athletes at the top of their sport, or have them give me 10 – 15 minutes of their time at a show for an interview. The last time I went to a Utah Jazz meet and greet, it was limited to one photo with each player, then get into the next line and wait. Those players may be cool, but no one will ever have a chance to know that.

Forgive me a little hero worship here while I blather on about some of the people who I got to interview.

Marcus Brown

I’ll start with the interview that went the absolute worst, which was also the interview I hoped would go the best. My last interview of the show yesterday was with Marcus Brown. Not only is he a professional water skier, but he also designs skis for HO Skis and he produced the first water skiing podcast ever (that I’m aware of) and inspired me to take up mine. When I heard that he would be at the show, I did everything that I could to stay around long enough to get an interview with him. I had to. As the time finally came when he would be on the show floor, I even did a warm up interview to be sure that I was ready to talk. The interview with Marcus was amazing. Unfortunately, my recorder’s memory card was not: it filled up four minutes in. ARRGH!

Marcus was not at all like I expected. For some reason, in my mind, I picture all professional athletes as — what is it aloof, snobby, frightening — well, unapproachable. I should know better by now. We just talked  like old friends. He was amazingly approachable, and grounded. Wow! As the interview ended and I saw that my recorder has failed, catastrophically, Marcus even told me that if I needed to come back, he’d be willing to do the whole thing over. Total gentleman. (And I’m going to take him up on his offer.)

Another reason I should have expected this greatness of spirit from Marcus is that I have met his compatriot in ski design at HO, Bob LaPoint. I don’t know that I’ve ever met a truer gentleman that Bob, someone who can make anyone feel completely comfortable in seconds, and let you feel like you’re the most important person in the world while you have his attention. The first time that I met Bob, we talked about skis for 20 minutes; I had no idea that he was a multiple world record holder until I was about to leave and asked his last name. Only then did I realize that I was talking to not only a guy who worked for HO Skis, but a legend in water skiing.

Sorry to have mis-judged you Marcus. I am very glad to know you now.

Chris Sullivan

Before the Boat Show, I announced that I would be interviewing people there. Chris Sullivan, the Brand Manager for Radar Skis, contacted me to let me know he was available to talk. I’ve got to admit that the first time I met Chris I got him confused with another Chris who works with Radar Skis, Chris Rossi. I don’t think that this is the only time it has happened to him, however, as I heard someone else kind of confused at his identity during this show.

Again, to talk with Chris was amazing. I was talking with the guy responsible for putting out the entire product line for his company, with his undivided attention. At the end he also gave me advice on my next ski.

Everyone Else

I’m probably being unfair to everyone else who I interviewed by not including them here, but the message is basically the same: skiers are great people. In all my years of going to boat shows and the several water skiing clinics that I’ve done I’ve never met a bad one in the bunch. Now, I know that (statistically speaking) there have to be a few jerks, and I’ve heard some horror stories about some water ski camps, but I have been impressed at every person I’ve met because of water skiing. Coolest people in the world. Want to meet some? Go to the Utah Boat Show.

I Like that Guy

I like a lot of people. For evidence, please note that I have over 400 friends on Facebook. Yes, I know them all; I didn’t add any just to improve my mobster score os something. But today I’m talking about me. I’m talking about when I look at a picture of me and say, “I like that guy.”

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Taking a breather in Little Cottonwood Canyon, June 2012

Canyon self portrait

This past summer I took a self portrait about half way up Little Cottonwood Canyon. I’m wearing a bike helmet and funny cycling shirt. And I like that guy. I like that guy because he took on a challenge he had never thought he could do, and did it. Before this summer, I had never ridden my bike up Little Cottonwood Canyon, which is strange considering that I grew up in Utah, and have been cycling here for years. I have ridden other canyons, but never this one. I had always seen riding canyons as the domain of serious cyclists, and had never put myself into that camp. But that guy did it.

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Ready to run Gary’s Glade at Solitude, February 2013

Snow skiing

I thought about that photo yesterday while I was skiing with my brother. We were at our old haunt, Solitude. I realized — after a few years with virtually no skiing outside of the rope tow at Alta — that not only do I enjoy skiing, but that I like the guy that I am when I do it. There was a quick moment when we were cruising down a groomer (not the most challenging thing, I know), when we had a quick detour through some chop. At that moment I realized that I have a confidence, borne of experience, that whatever the mountain throws at me, I can handle. I skied Paradise and Paradise Lost. I skied Challenger. I attacked a chopped and soft-bumped Last Run. There was never a time when I was afraid that I couldn’t get out of the situation I was in. I like that guy.

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Attacking the course at Last Chance Lakes, August 2012

Water skiing

Kyle took some great photos of me water skiing this past summer. These photos show me skiing better than I thought that I knew how. Please understand that I know a lot of people who ski better than I do. But, these photos show a spark, an attack. At times I placidly let the slalom course come to me, accepting that I am far from the best skier on the lake. (At times even when I’m the only skier on the lake.) But there are those times when I get a vision that I have the ability to run the slalom course end-to-end. I get the feeling that I can pull out wide enough to make each turn. I see myself progressing. When that happens I aggressively push myself and get results like those pictures show. I like that guy:  the guy who doesn’t just accept the status quo, but pushes for something better.

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Family portrait at Lake Powell, September 2012

Family portrait

There’s a picture of our family that I love. We’re all floating in a lake together. It’s not professional by any stretch of the imagination. But, it’s a moment when I’m being a good, involved dad. My kids are happy, my wife is having a good time, and we’re all together. What’s not to love about that? I like that guy. I like the guy who takes good care of his family and has fun with them.

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Sampling Nicole’s great cooking.

Eating

I think that my wife likes another guy: the guy who eats her cooking. I assume this because she takes a lot of pictures of me eating her cooking. Let me clarify: I love my wife’s cooking. She is a great cook. She prepares awesome meals for our family, even though the great food is sometimes lost on our kids. That said, I don’t like the guy who is eating. Maybe it’s a self-image issue, maybe it’s an issue with my scale telling me the painful truth. But, I don’t like the guy who is represented by the constant consumption of food.

Picture or trait

When I first looked at the picture of me cycling the canyon and realized that I liked that guy, I thought that it was just the picture. However, I’ve since come to realize that it’s not the quality of the photograph, but the traits that each of these photographs represent that make me like them (or not).

Your turn

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it is this: Tell me about a photo of yourself that you like, and what it represents about you.

Don’t Teach Your Children… to Ski

Get real lessons

To start out, let me just ruin the punchline for this post: Get your kids real ski lessons; don’t try to do it yourself. You might be a good skier, but you will struggle trying to share that knowledge with your kids. No, I don’t get a cut of ski lessons sold at any resort. I just had this lesson reinforced this past Saturday.

Plan: daddy, daughter date for a first ski trip.

Friday night, after dinner, I brought up the idea of my taking Beth up to Alta for a quick experience skiing down the tow rope hill. I wasn’t thinking about lessons or anything; just about a quick date with my little girl. (I know better than this. I have preached for years that I wanted my kids to have lessons from a real ski instructor rather than from me. Really, I have.) When I mentioned the idea to her, she was totally excited! This was starting great! We were just a few minutes away from AJ Motion, our local ski rental place. We got to the store at 8:05 and saw that the OPEN sign was still lit; so we went in. We were third in line at that point for renting equipment, so we just loitered about the store for a while. While we loitered, we noticed that the store closed at 8:00. The employee was extremely courteous despite our keeping him almost an hour after closing time.

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Andrew trying on gear at AJ Motion

As we got Beth fit for her skis, Andrew chimed in that he wanted to ski to. So I conferred with Nicole to see if she wanted to make it a family day at Alta. She thought that could be okay, so we added Andrew to the rental. It turns out that the smallest boot they carried was only about one size too large for him, and they had the cutest skis to fit him. How could we say no?

As we were checking out, we added goggles, warm socks, and straps to keep the kids’ ski tips together — all times two. All told we got out of there for under $125. I considered that a success.

We headed home to find where we had put Nicole’s and my ski equipment when we moved into our home this year. I was able to locate everything that we owned. This was good, because AJ Motion had already closed for the night. Plus, I’m cheap and didn’t want to rent what I already own. So, in the house came all of the ski gear to get warmed up and sorted. It turns out that we do have enough equipment to take the whole family skiing — now.

Then, around 11 PM we turned in for the night.

Heading up to Alta

We got an early start on Saturday morning, leaving our house just after 10 AM. Of course, this was after getting two kids and two adults fully dressed for the cold, with multiple layers, ski pants, boots, and our best coats. Do you remember the scene from A Christmas Story where Ralphie is getting dressed up to play in the snow? That was our family. It was comical.

Nicole’s first question as we started toward the canyon was if we would get out of the fog. I confirmed that we, indeed, would. Almost as I answered, we broke out of the fog, into the sun. The day had begun successfully. As we continued up the canyon, Andrew said, “I think that I’ll just stay in the boat.” I was stumped. Nicole then clarified to me that he thought we were going water skiing! It then dawned on us both that the only skiing that Andrew had ever known was water skiing. We then explained to him that we weren’t going to the lake, that we were going into the mountains instead. He was okay with that plan, and started getting excited again.

It’s been a few years since I’ve skied Alta. Okay, a lot of years. The last time I was up there was before the new Collins lift was running, and while the rope tow next to the Gold Miner’s Daughter was running. Well, that end of the resort has changed a little bit. I expected the new Collins lift, but I didn’t expect to find the old rope tow out of commission. I thought that would be a perfect place to ski since it was easy access from the parking lot, and close to the lodge for a “potty emergency”. However, it was closed. Fortunately, as we’d not seen anyone going up the hill where the rope tow was supposed to be, Nicole had just sent me to check out if it was running. I was able to quickly return to the car and we headed up to the Albion side of the resort.

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Beth and Andrew ready to start their skiing adventure

We got a pretty good parking spot, despite our late arrival. Everyone was excited to put on their boots and get their skis to the snow. This lasted just long enough for Beth to figure out that she couldn’t carry her skis that whole way, and for Andrew to realize that he wanted to be carried. I ended up carrying four sets of skis while Nicole carried Andrew. Beth tagged along slowly in between us.

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Beth is ready to try skiing.

Finally we made it to the snow! This presented one remaining problem. There is a pretty steep hill from the parking area down to the lift area. Normally I’d just strap on my skis, and carve down; but the kids would not have made it. Instead we hiked gingerly down the slick snow in our unwieldy ski boots. Beth slid on her bum for part of the way to avoid an uncontrolled slide later. Somehow Nicole and Andrew made it down alive as well. Somehow.

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Andrew, in the few inches he carried his own skis

After all of that, it was time to put on our skis.

Actually Skiing

We were finally getting skiing toward the rope tow. I should probably interrupt here to share a Facebook status update that I posted as we got back into the car at the end of the day.

first and last day skiing

Since I’ve been skiing since I was eight years old, I’ve forgotten how challenging the first day can be. I thought that we’d just go to the rope tow and my kids would find a natural skill within them to get them through. Boy, was I wrong. I got Andrew up to the rope, planted him firmly against my legs, and started up the hill. He did great. Then we pulled off the rope to come back down. I just held him while we went down the very slight slope with very little turning involved. It worked. However, it was right then that I realized that I had no plan for how to get past this point. None at all. (Don’t you judge me, Earl Hickey.) I had basically come up with that plan.

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Dad and Andrew ready to ski

I figured that if that was my plan I would at least alternate kids. So I got Beth and tried to do the same thing. However, the plan failed before we even got to the rope tow. I realized that we were going to have trouble getting up the incline to the entrance. We struggled up and then the ride up the tow and down the hill was fairly uneventful. In fact it was kind of fun for Beth.

I, however, was beat. I realized that I was going to get really worn out. I had taken two runs down the beginner hill and could barely breathe. I caught my breath and we repeated the cycle with both kids. Everyone was having fun. I think that Nicole even took a solo run to remember how to ski.

There was a small issue or two when I stepped on the kids’ skis while trying to help them get to the tow entrance, pulling the skis off their feet and causing some frustration, but generally rather benign.

Then disaster struck.

Bathroom run

Beth had to go to the bathroom. Yup, the bathroom way back by the ticket window, up the hill. Nicole volunteered to take Beth so they could use the girls’ room. (As opposed to my help that would involve the boys’ room.) I took a few more runs with Andrew, and we ate a cookie. Still having fun.

The return from the bathroom was the beginning of the end. Nicole arrived first, carrying Beth’s skis. The report was that Beth was done. I think, in hindsight, that the unspoken report was that Nicole was as well. I grabbed Beth’s skis, and caught up with her walking. I convinced her to put the skis on and try one more run. I still don’t know if that was a good idea or bad. Either way we got one or two more runs in with each of the kids, and even had a parents’ run down the hill.

Finishing Up

The kids did soon register their exhaustion and desire to leave. We headed back to the two that would take us up the hill toward the ticket window and the cars. Unfortunately, this tow rope was a smooth mixture of snow and fiber that made it almost impossible to grab. My first trip, with Andrew, was successful. The only problem was trying to hike with him from the end of the rope to the ski rack. I don’t know how we made it. It seemed that every step or stroke of the skis ended with my either overlapping his skis or going backward. Arrgh, the frustration.

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Andrew is ready to leave, but still looking cute

I got Andrew to wait by the ski rack so that I could go back to get Beth, who had given up on all effort to save herself. I didn’t realize at this time just how slick the rope was, and my effort to grab hold with Beth ended in a miserable pile of skis and skiers strewn along the path. I was able to gather myself and my daughter and formulate a plan to successfully start up. She rested against my legs, much as we had on the other tow, and I grabbed hold with both hands to attempt to get a grip. This did work and we were able to get up to the plateau near the ski rack. At this time we just took Beth’s skis off so that she could walk with Nicole. “My belly hurts,” was the outcome of the fall we had.

I was now fearing climbing back up the hill to get to the parking lot. However, the one upside of the earlier bathroom run was that Nicole and Beth had learned of an elevator! Huzzah! Salvation! We got the family into the elevator and used a mechanical assist up the hill.

From here it was all over but the crying, as they say. In this case, the crying was literal. We hit meltdown from the kids as dad was going to retrieve the truck. By the time I got back, they were both fighting with Mom to get out of their boots and be gone.

What happened to our wonderful ski day? I have an idea. I know better than this. I have preached against trying to teach my own kids to ski for years. I just wasn’t thinking. Next trip: lessons from a professional. That’s the real lesson from this whole story. Just like I said at the beginning. See, I warned you.

So now, my only remaining issue is how can I get a water skiing teacher for the kids now?

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