Sunday, May 29, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere


The other night, my buddy Jon called me up asking to be a sound board for him while he hashed out some ideas. Always looking forward to hanging out with him, I readily agreed. We spent a good couple of hours driving around south Utah County just talking, laughing and having a grand ol’ time.
About 1:00 in the morning, we were just getting back into Provo, and as he was dropping me off at my apartment, Jon received a call from his mother-in-law saying that their basement was flooding. He said he would be right over to help out.
As I jumped out of the car, I told him that if they needed additional help, to give me a call. I don’t think either of us thought he would actually do it.

About 40 minutes later, after he had assured me that he probably wouldn’t be calling me, my phone started to ring. It was Jon asking if I could come help out. As I hadn’t climbed into bed yet, I told him I would be right over. I threw on some old shoes (figuring they were going to get wet), and headed on over.
Now Jon’s in-laws live in a fairly nice neighborhood. I knew where their house was because Jon had pointed it out to me on a few occasions. When I arrived, I couldn’t find anyone answering the door, so I just walked on in and found my way downstairs.
This house was AMAZING! Besides being relatively brand-new and very well maintained, it also happens to have a TWO-STORY basement. How else are you going to fit your indoor racquetball court?

So I found everyone down in the racquetball court, where I walked in on the following scene:
Father In-Law was running one of two shop vacs, sucking up water from a very large pool that wasn’t getting any smaller. Meanwhile, Mother In-Law and Sister In-Law were bucketing out a second shop vac that was already filled with water. Rushing back and forth with filled 5-gallon buckets of water, Jon and his Brother In-Law were hauling these up the two flights of stairs and out the back door to a storm drain.
I jumped right in and started hauling buckets outside. We got into a pretty good rhythm of filling one shop vac while the other was being drained by hand. We were completing a full cycle of filling, switching and draining in about a minute and a half. We did this straight for over 3 hours, from 2 AM to 5 AM. We calculated that we carried out over 1,000 gallons of water…and we were just barely keeping up with the in-flow of water.

All during this time, there were also two full-time pumps running that had been installed when the house was built, plus a Disaster Recovery Team was setting up another pump to help drain the basement.
Needless to say…until they got set up…it felt like an exercise in futility. My hands, still sore from roofing a few days earlier, were cramping up and sore.
But I was happy to be there helping out. Eventually, the Disaster Team was set up and operating, and they had a second team that was almost ready to go as well. By this time, all of us who were manually working were completely and utterly spent physically. So at the word of the Father In-Law, we called it quits.
Jon’s Mother In-Law said to me, besides expressing her extreme gratitude, that she was impressed that I was there helping out instead of being in bed like most normal people. She said that I must really be a good friend to Jon to be willing to help out.
I told her that I was very happy to help out, knowing that if the roles were reversed, Jon wouldn’t hesitate to help me out as well.
Besides…friends help you move. REAL Friends help you move bodies…of water.

Getting ‘Round


Several months ago, I was up in Spokane visiting my sister and her family. About this same time, they were getting their house ready to put on the market and sell. While I was up there, they found out that they were going to have to replace the roof in order to meet all the requirements for selling their home.
Having been one of the Roofing Trade for quite some time in my younger years, I volunteered the services of myself and our father to help them tear off the old roof and replace it with a new and less leaky roof.

Fast forward to two weeks ago when my Dad, Mom and I drove up to Spokane to fulfill that offer of service from yester-month. We drove up in my truck, laden with the tools of the trade and a few duffle bags.
Now I will be the first to admit that when I first conceptualized the idea of replacing their roof, I really didn’t think that it would be much of a challenge. It is a fairly simple roof, with only two valleys and pretty much straight runs covering the rest of it. We arrived on Monday night. Our plan was to tear off the roof in one day, and then lay down the tar paper and the first few rows of shingles the second day, and finally finishing off the entire project on the third day. We would be able to head home on Friday.
That’s not how it panned out…at all.
However, we were able to complete it all. It took two days to tear off the roof, and an additional three more to put the new roof on. During the installation process, as per City Code, we had to have an inspection done after the first layer of Ice Shield had been set down. When the inspector arrived, in less than a minute, he commented that this was probably going to be the only roof he passed that day. He went on to point out that all the other roofs were being done by professional contractors. So that made us feel good.

Finally, Saturday morning came. We didn’t have much left…but by this point my Dad and I were both just physically exhausted. What I thought we would finish by Noon, still took us until almost 9 PM that night.

But we did it…the roof was completely replaced with great help given by family, local ward members and especially the missionaries. My sister Gretchen especially deserves a personal shout-out as she was a huge help to us, and still maintained her household. My Mom was a great blessing in helping to watch the kids and in cleaning up. We were all truly blessed with safety and strength to get through it all. And the best part of it was that the final inspection went through with no problems at all. I was very happy to hear that.
The biggest lesson that I learned though, was that my 63 year old Dad can still out work me. The man is a machine.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Life In Shamrock


I imagine that living in a small town on the famous Route 66 does have it's advantages. In fact, I set out to discover some of them this week when we had a very brief amount of down time.

As has already been mentioned, Shamrock, TX is located on the famous Route 66.

One of it's buildings:

was the inspiration for a very popular hang out place for the characters in this movie.

If you ever have the opportunity to pass through here, I highly recommend that you stop in and visit Big Vern's Steakhouse. It is located right on Route 66, and there are billboards for it everywhere. This is easily the best tasting steak in the area.

If you are lucky, you might get to see Vern himself.


(He is a VERY nice guy, but you have to listen to him carefully as he has a very quiet voice and tends to mumble his words.)


Not only is Shamrock famous for it's movie building stand-ins...it is also the home of the largest water tower (of this type), in the entire state of Texas.

(It is quite large and can be seen from a long distance.)


But probably one of the best parts of Shamrock is that if you stay in a hotel, for even one night, you get a free round of 18 holes of golf at their local country club. (It's actually a 9-hole course that you get to go round twice).

(Yes...that's me with a pink putter...)


So the next time you decide you need a long road trip...consider Route 66 and the small town of Shamrock, TX.

Tell them Zach sent you! They won't have a clue who you are talking about.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Feel The Love of the Embrace


Today I was embraced by the Long Arm of the Texas Law.

So I found myself once again traveling to the wonderful state of Texas. I am down here for another 3 weeks...and it is already leading up to be one of the best trips yet.
After flying out of Salt Lake and landing in the great city of Oklahoma, in the state of the same name...I and my co-workers headed over to Joe's Crab Shack for some delicious seafood. I got the Rajun' Cajun Steampot. Although this particular dish is quite messy...it was most delectable.

After the meal, young Neil and I jumped in our trusty SUV, (a Nissan Armada to be exact), and drove West into the Texas Panhandle area.
Our destination was a Best Western hotel. This isn't the usual place of our lodging...because the "usual" spot was fully booked.

When we arrived, I checked in first and took my bags up to my room. I then returned to the lobby to meet up with Neil and find out which room he had been checked into.
When I arrived at the lobby, my "partner in crime" was nowhere to be found.
So I pulled out my phone and shot off a quick e-mail to find out where he was. As I was hitting send, in through the front doors came barreling 6 men wearing bulletproof vests, star badges, and most of them had cowboy hats. Guns drawn, and scanning the lobby, one of the larger men pointed (his finger) at me and said, "Watch him!"

Then all of them jumped in the elevator and headed somewhere.
A few minutes later, the same guy came back down and coming straight at me, demanded some identification.
I said, "Of course sir...here you go."
I handed him my passport.
He looked at me and asked if I had something else.
So I pulled out my driver's licenses. (I'm currently in the process of getting my motorcycle endorsement, so I have a paper "temporary" permit and then my plastic copy that has two holes punched in it).
He asked why the holes were punched in it. I told him that it was a temporary, while I was getting my motorcycle endorsement.
He demanded that I hand over my phone.
Now, at this moment, IN MY HEAD, I thought, "You know...you really need a warrant for this." But I also though, IN MY HEAD, it would be very unwise to say something like that to this large, very irritated man who happens to have a gun...and the right to detain me for 24 hours with no reason.
So I said, "Of course...here you go."
The phone was locked, so he demanded that I unlock it and show him whatever e-mail I had just sent.
Not having anything to hide, I showed him. At that point, young Neil had decided to e-mail me and let me know which room he was in. So the officer, turning the phone away from me, asked, "Who's in room ***?"
By the way...he wasn't asking any of this nicely.
Of course this was the first I had heard of this room...but I surmised that it must have been Neil, so I answered as such.
The officer seemed somewhat satiated with that answer.
But then the following conversation took place:
Officer: "Do you have a criminal record??"
Me: "No"
Officer: "Have you ever been arrested?"
Me: "No"
Officer: "Do you have any felonies or warrants?"
Me: "No"
Officer: "Have you ever had any speeding tickets?"
Me: "No"
(I wasn't going to explain that the one that I did get happened over 12 years ago and never went on my record)

The officer then took all my identifications, (that he had been holding), and wrote down everything, Passport Number, License, Phone Number, and then told me, "stay available."

And thus was my welcoming hug to the Great State of Texas.

PS - A few minutes later, the rest of the officers came down with a man in handcuffs. They escorted him out of the building and as of this writing...I haven't heard another word about it.

But I am still available.

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Post

There is absolutely no way that I can properly cover everything that has been going on since my last post, (or even since my last guest's post). However, I am re-investing myself into my blog and hope to once again, much like the proverbial Phoenix, raise my blog to the standards and entertainment that it once was.

And I need a better medium for keeping a journal.

With that said, I will just give you the briefest of synopses on the doings of my life.

I know that the question on everyone's mind is, "Who was that masked blogger that swooped in and left the wonderful Valentine's Post?"


Well, her name is Ashlee...and we have been dating since December. We met in an Institute class and have been spending quite a bit of time with each other since then. She is a brilliant young woman, served a mission in Thailand and has a Master's Degree from BYU in Art History. She is currently working as a curator for a local art museum.

I have also recently changed out vehicles in my life. The Passat has been replaced by a Ford F-150. I won't lie...I am enjoying the 4x4 option.


As far as work is concerned, I have been making regular treks to and from Shamrock, TX since September. It's funny how last year and the year prior to that, whenever people asked me where I had been or where I was going, they were always impressed as I would say things like, "Scotland", "England" or "Trinidad". But lately, I can see just the slightest disappointment cross their face as I now answer, "Texas".


And it's not even an off-shore rig...it's a land rig with rattle snakes and everything.

I have also joined the Twitter Nation. I will be the first to admit that I am still quite the tyro at it...but I am learning. Feel free to follow me if you wish @liffdog23


So there you have it...I have brought you relatively up to speed on my life. Moving forward, I am looking forward to golf and driving the motorcycle...not to mention a quick trip at some point to Spokane, WA to help replace a roof.


Until then my extremely faithful readers...I bid you adieu.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dear Zach:

Happy Valentine’s Day. I apologize for infiltrating your blog, but a girl’s got to do SOMETHING for her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, even if he is approximately 2,756 miles away. I just wanted you to know that I think you are kind of a big deal, even if you did say so yourself ☺ Thank you for making me smile. I am very lucky to have you in my life. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would venture…a poem. Brace yourself….

Ahem.

There once was a young art curator
Who had actually become quite a dater
But after several months of tedious dating,
Resolved for a time to give up on mating.
She cried, “Must all single men be ridiculous?”
‘Twas enough to make a saint want to cuss --
Or cry, which she did, and resolved for a break
And hold out for a man who wasn’t a flake.

Resolved to move forward, the disillusioned young lass
Felt to return to an Institute class.
She arrived the first week, embarrassingly late,
But perhaps her timing was a matter of fate!
She encountered a young man, equally tardy,
And brimming with self-assurance was fool-hardy
Enough to hit on her right after the prayer
Despite being older and having no hair ☺
Though wary of men with non-committal intention,
The girl was disarmed by his amiable wit and lack of convention
As he artfully asked for her number and scheduled dinner
For the very next night?!! This guy was a winner!
They continued to talk a bit longer that night
And the bemused girl returned home beaming, out-right.

The next evening the two went to Taco-N-Tent,
(Yep. First date.)
Which appealed to the tastes of both lady and gent ;)
As they continued to talk over Mexican food
It was clear that this guy was an interesting dude.
As the evening closed, before parting ways,
The young man confessed, “I leave in two days.”
He departed for Texas, leaving the girl to her thoughts,
Intrigued by the man, first a bit then a lot.

As he worked on the rig, many miles away
The two chatted practically every day.
And slowly the girl began to see
Many different sides to this Zachary.
He returned from Texas and both of them found
That each really liked when the other came ‘round.
They enjoyed Christmas lights, a Jazz game and movies together,
And The Forgotten Carols, where they were forced to sing “Together Forever.”
(Zach loved it.)
Soon he kissed her in the kitchen, ‘midst a mouthful of pie,
While he was on Lortab after lasering his eye.
(eyes.)

Ah…

The weeks have passed, sometimes fast, sometimes slow,
Especially when Zach is away from Provo.
But the adventures continue and memories are mounting,
As the story continues – now three months and counting…!
There’s still much left unwritten, but this poem must end.
So… Happy Valentine’s Day to an awesome boyfriend.
For such a guy there isn’t much I wouldn’t do,
Thank you again, and always, for just being… You ;)

Love,

Ashlee

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy Holidays


Guess how I spent my holiday season




Oh and Happy 2011!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Him? Oh that's Lyle


So my buddy and I are getting ready to head home to Utah after three wonderful weeks in Texas. We pulled into Oklahoma City around midnight and checked into our hotel. Both of us being hungry, we decided to cross the parking lot to the local IHOP.

While we were there, my buddy Eric noticed a guy in a cowboy hat across the room that looked really familiar. I looked over, and both of us at the same time realized who it was. We tried to get a good picture...but this was the best we could do.

So as we were leaving, we grabbed the waiter who had been serving Mr. Cowboy Hat and asked if that was Lyle Lovett over there. The waiter had no idea who we were talking about. I wanted to slap the kid across the face. He then said, "I'll go ask if you want me to."

And he did.

And it was!

I felt bad for interrupting his meal, so I went over and apologized for sending the waiter. Lyle (as I call him now), was very cordial, asked my name and was a very, very kind man. I figured we had already bothered him enough, so I didn't ask for a picture or anything...but was truly impressed at how nice he was.

And that was the night I met Lyle Lovett.