Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Violation of Jack, in Four Acts

Act One: The Acquisition of Jack

In contemplating a move to the greater Phoenix area, I decided that I needed a vehicular with working air conditioning. Ron helped me find a cheap truck that fit the bill. We pulled it down behind the U-Haul, and It's served me well so far. There is a bevy of problems with the truck, but it gets me from place to place and that's good enough for me. The suspension is a little wonky so it leans a bit. I named it Jack, after the guy in "While You Were Sleeping"

Act Two: Riding on the Metro

Since I've moved to Arizona, I park and ride to work. You see, the Metro Light Rail goes right through both ASU and downtown Phoenix. (♫ Riding on the Metro-o-o ♫) Some days I work at ASU, and some days I work at TGen in downtown Phoenix, and sometimes I go back and forth between the two. The Metro is pretty convenient for this. Plus, my work bought me a year train pass, so I get to ride the Metro for free.

Act Three: The Violation of Jack

Today I drove Jack to the Park and Ride lot like I always do. I rode the Metro to TGen in Phoenix. I went to my meeting. I had lunch. I rode the Metro back to ASU. I finished my normal workday out. I rode the Metro back to the Park and Ride Lot. (♫ Riding on the Metro-o-o ♫) I went to where I had parked Jack, The first thing I noticed was bits of glass sparkling in the lamplight.
 The second thing I noticed was the lack of glass in the driver's side door of my truck.
 The third thing I noticed was a bunch of wires sticking out where my stereo used to be. A bunch of other things hit me faster than I could number them. My glove box was open, but the only thing that seemed to be missing was a small box of tampons. Maybe the thief was a female and had a need for such supplies. I resent the taking of the stereo, but I'd never begrudge relevant supplies to a fellow female in need. I had assumed that the thief was male, but I couldn't figure out why a dude would steal that and not the pair of pliers that were right there. Later, I found the box on the floor and alleviated that particular bit of confusion. I was back to resentment. I could tell they looked behind my seat, but I don't think they took anything else. I'll check a little more carefully when its light outside.

I dedicate the following song (starts at around 1:34) to my stereo...

Act Four: Comfort Food

The thieves took many things. They took my stereo. They took my sense of security. They took some of my time, as I called the police and such to report the crime. I'll get back to you on the other things they took.

One thing they didn't take? Maurice the dash pig. (crazy ol' Maurice, always good for a laugh). Also, they didn't take the ten dollars I had in the ash tray! I used this ten dollars to buy myself some comfort food, namely, a Sonic hamburger with green chile on it (hooray living in the Southwest again!), french fries, diet coke with the lovely little pebbly Sonic ice, and a chocolate malt. And then I went home and ate it all as I watched several episodes of "Jeeves and Wooster." There may or may not be a long list of chores that need doing, but I decided to neglect them all in favor of venting to you in this blog post. I think it worked, as I feel much better. A bit emotionally drained, but better.I'll just go to bed early tonight. Things always look better after a good nights sleep...

I'll most likely ride the bus to the Metro tomorrow (♫ Riding on the Metro-o-o ♫), so I can call around and find out the best place to take Jack to have his window replaced. It's not the end of the world. Its just a pain. At least it does't snow in Phoenix. In fact, it's supposed to get back up into the 70s this weekend.

Pros of living in Phoenix include the great winter weather. Cons of living in Phoenix include the rampant thievery. Also, people that with a lack of personal hygiene that ride the Metro. (♫ Riding on the Metro-o-o ♫) Seriously people, would a bath every few days kill you? Blech.

Ah well... C'est la vie... Such is life...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Several of the Merrells went and spent Thanksgiving with Brian and Caroline in Santa Monica. They recently moved to an apartment that is 11 blocks from the beach. A few of us took a jaunt down to check out the ocean on Thursday morning. Mom was determined to go into the ocean. It was much colder than she had anticipated...

They had lots of toys, and some of them were adult-sized. The boys took a turn climbing (well... trying to climb) ropes.
It was pretty funny. Allen made it up a little higher once he took his shoes off, but didn't quite make it all the way to the top.
Johnny had a great time. He's a fun kid. Quite the man-child. He's big enough that you forget that he's not even a year and a half yet.
Mom and Allen rushed between waves to write "Happy Thanksgiving 2010" in the sand.
 It was a beautiful day!
Here's a bit of a better angle on the beach writing.
I flew in a day early to start the cooking. I really enjoyed making so much food... I've had limited opportunities for cooking in Arizona. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Not all that surprising seeing how much I love food. We had turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, corn, rolls, and green bean casserole. The green beans were kind of an afterthought. Mostly because we realized that we hadn't planned for anything green on the plate.

Here's the 'before' picture of my plate. The turkey is hiding under the ham, and the roll hadn't yet made it on the plate. But you get the idea.

And here's the 'after' picture. It was delicious. So was the Thanksgiving-induced coma.
It was a good time. I've missed hanging out with my family these last few months. Seeing family was just what I needed. I got to play with my nephew Johnny.
And I got to meet my newest nephew, baby Tyler.
I took this picture myself with my cell phone camera, and I guess I didn't aim very well. Little Tyler is a super cute little guy. Grandma loved playing with him as well. He was pretty alert for such a new baby. We all had fun passing him around.

We went and checked out the Santa Monica Pier the next day. There were lots of people there that day, including a bunch of people fishing off of the end of the pier. Yuck!
It was beautiful weather, and good times with the family. I took a few pictures of Caroline and Verenda, but they must have been with my mom's camera because I can't seem to find them. Caroline is looking very well, especially for someone who had a baby last week. Verenda looks like she's ready to have her baby any day now! I can't wait to meet baby Valerie, and hopefully, Verenda and Ron's new baby.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembering Cory

Wow. This is a hard post to start. It hurts to refer to a friend in the past tense.

Cory Jenkins was such a great guy. I first met Cory working with him in the Chemistry Central Stockroom at BYU. That was a fun job, and Cory was one of my favorite people to work with. He was a goofy guy, and always happy. Well, he was pretty miserable when his allergies acted up, but would still make the most of things.

He also worked for Lecture Prep., setting up all of the classroom demonstrations that the Chemistry professors use to spice up their lectures. Here's my favorite Cory memory: I was working at the stockroom, and Cory comes streaking in with a panicked look on his face. He grabs the green Merck index off of the shelf and searches the pages for a few minutes. He finds what he's looking for, lets out a sigh of relief, and only then tells me what is up. While working in the lecture prep room one day he had noticed a big bottle of Methylene Blue. For those of you not familiar with this gem of a chemical, it turns your pee blue if you eat it. I guess seeing this big bottle of pee-color-changing potential was too much for him to resist. He opened the bottle, got a scoop of it out, and then ate it. That is when the panic set in. In his own words, Methylene Blue is "OH, so bitter!" It was only then that he wondered about how safe it was to eat. Thus the panicked rushing into the stockroom to check the entry in the Merck Index.

The funniest part of this whole story is that this whole episode didn't scare him off at all. Rather, it made his scientific brain kick in, thinking of ways to mask the taste, alternative methods of ingestion (like putting it in gelatin capsules), and finding the minimum effective dose for effective pee coloring. He was going to use himself as a test subjects, as well as a few volunteer classmates. I'm not sure what came of all of the plans. I think he gave up after a few rounds. It's still pretty funny. There are still blue fingerprints on the Methylene Blue page of the Merck Index in the Chemistry Central Stockroom. Good times!

Cory graduated and I never saw him again. He moved away and got married. He went to PA school, and decided that he could get some good experience in the Army. His daughter was born a month before he was deployed.

Capt. Cory J. Jenkins, 30, of Arizona, died Aug. 25, 2009 in southern Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.
Since Cory was from Mesa, I thought I'd go pay my respects. It is Memorial day, after all. I went to a florists shop a few blocks from my house to pick up some flowers to take. Funny how its appropriate to take a guy flowers after he's dead, but kind of weird otherwise. Anyways, she was running a little low on red, white, and blue flowers, but she had a few left. I told her what I wanted to spend, and she put together a really nice bouquet. I have a feeling she gave me a bargain. Sometimes people are great. I'm definitely going to her next time I need some flowers.

It breaks my heart that a guy that was only over there to help people was lost to us. And that he was only 30 years old. He was such a great guy. My heart breaks for his family.

Here's a nice tribute I found on YouTube.

I count myself lucky to have known such a great guy... We'll miss you Cory!