Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Spirit of God Like a Fire Burned the Kitchen... So I Extinguished It!

Today gave whole new meaning to the phrase “The spirit of God like a fire is burning.”

After working out Monday and Wednesday mornings, I go over to the Institute building to give my spirit a little work-out. I have two institute classes on the Book of Mormon, one is the first half, and the other is the second half. The Second one is taught by Bro. Charrington, who does an excellent job at inviting the spirit as he teaches. As he got up to give the announcements, I noticed that the collar on his suit coat was flipped up. It was distractingly mesmerizing to see this collar deformity. As my awkward staring (which was probably interpreted as rapt attention) continued, I slowly became aware of a new anomaly in the environ. The faint waft of campfire tickled my nose, and I began looking around for the source.

Nobody was smoking… check… nobody had randomly brought out a birthday cake… nobody was trying to roast marshmallows with a blow torch… check… this smell has to be coming from somewhere though! My next thought was that there was a possibility that something in my backpack might be burning. Most normal people would not have this fear, but there are definitely some things in the backpack of a Fred that could light on fire accidently, so I picked up my backpack and sniffed it. As I did so, the attractive girl next to me gave me an odd look (Note to self: next time backpack is suspected to be on fire, sniff with more subterfuge so as not to scare women). Nope, the smell was not coming from my backpack, but it was definitely increasing in its potency as we sung the opening song. Just as I was about to go stand up and investigate, the fire alarm went off, and a pre-recorded announcement began warning us that “an emergency situation exists in the building” and we were to “cease all operations and evacuate the building immediately.” There was the typical pause where the situation sinks in before anyone moves, then everyone began to excitedly stand up and shuffle towards the door. Bro. Charrington directed everyone to head towards the exit, while he poked his head around the corner to see the source of the smoke. My curiosity caught me, and I followed. Smoke could be seen coming from the door to the large serving kitchen. Cautiously, Bro. Charrington opened the kitchen door, and the whole kitchen was filled with thick smoke, that had a bright orange glow to it. I quickly turned away, and headed for a fire extinguisher. As the last of my classmates filed out, I turned to Bro. Charrington, pointed at the case, and said “Should we use this?” He said yes, and I handed it to him. The thought then occurred to me that this might be the only time I could ever legitimately use an extinguisher for myself, so I went to the back stairway to the kitchen in search of one.

As I passed the other door to the kitchen, I decided to peek in to see what I was up against. I stood back, and tested the doorknob. Finding it was cool, I opened the door. Through the smoke, I could see a mini recreation of the pillar of fire that protected the Israelites rising up from the stove. On the floor, patches of burning plastic from the light fixtures shimmered in pools of orange fury. I quickly closed the door, and ran down the stairs to the extinguisher alcove at the bottom. To my everlasting disappointment, I didn’t get to break the glass! Instead I just turned the knob, pulled out the extinguisher, and hurried back up the stairs. As I approached the door again, I could hear Bro. Charrington’s discharge on the opposite side of the room. I opened the door and a wall of smoke hit me, much stronger than before. I crouched down to get under it, and aimed toward the orange glow. I squeezed the trigger until the glow was gone, and the smoke was billowing thickly. The works of Joseph Smith came to my mind, oddly enough, as “a thick darkness gathered around me, and seemed to hold me.” I closed the door, and began feeling my way through the “mists of darkness” and went to the sound of Bro. Charrington’s voice, which was now coming from the end of the hall. We scurried out of the building, and set our extinguishers down on the pavement, and joined the throng of onlookers that had gathered.

As I recounted the story throughout the day, the frequent response was something to the effect of “It doesn’t count if you start the fire in the first place, Fred!” Why is that people’s first thought when they hear Fire and Fred in the same sentence? As it turned out, the fire had been started when someone bumped a dial on the stove, turning on a burner, which then ignited a box of apples that someone had set there.

That was the most fun I have had in a long time! It was also the most intense object lesson ever, with the pillar of fire, thick gathering blackness, and wandering through the mists of darkness… What more could you ask for from an Institute class.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flying a Kite out the Back of a Moving Truck.

What do most twenty-four-year-olds say when they get asked what they want for their birthday? Honestly, sitting here, I can’t really even venture a guess, because I am so unlike most other twenty-four-year-olds! I asked for a kite. It probably seems like that’s the sort of thing that someone who was turning four and not twenty-four would dream of, but that’s only because most twenty-four-year-olds haven’t seen the kite that I wanted.

Yeah, that’s the kite I got, only mine is blue, not rainbow colored and it’s awesome.

Obviously, having an amazing stunt kite is a great dating tool. It’s a one-time expense that makes for many free, exciting, and unique dates. Naturally, I decided to immediately employ my new tool. The first day I had the chance to use it was the Saturday after my birthday. I decided to first try it out on my friend Candie. She’s always up for some fun, and if things don’t go well, she’s just a friend, so I won’t loose points with her. It wasn’t really windy enough, but we still had a ton of fun. We flew it up on the quad field on campus, and we would start at one end and run across to get enough wind. We flew it for about forty-five minutes then she had to leave. I decided that I wanted to keep flying it, so I sent a text to my friend Haley and invited her to come fly with me. She was excited to, and we tried flying it in a different field. The wind was better, but still not great. We had some fun, but with a kite as amazingly fun as this one, we were nowhere near the full fun potential.

I had an idea about how to increase the fun and the wind: fly the kite out of the back of my truck! But I was hesitant to suggest it seriously because I couldn’t think of a good road to do it on. That’s where Haley saved the day. When I jokingly suggested we try flying it sitting on the tailgate of my 4Runner while one of us drives it, she suggested we do it out on the farm roads outside of time! BRILLIANT! Haley’s overall coolness assessment score pretty much doubled in that moment. We packed up and headed west, just like the pioneers… amazingly awesome kite pioneers!

The road from 200 N that heads to Benson was perfect. We set it up, but I realized that we were heading the wrong direction for the wind that was already blowing, so I grabbed the kite, and we just drove to the other end of the road. When I went to set it up again, I learned a valuable lesson, IT IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA TO TAKE THE TIME TO WIND UP THE STRINGS PROPPERLY. After getting the strings untangled, I got the kite airborne, and Haley started to drive slowly. I ran and jumped onto the tailgate, and we were flying!

So, I started thinking about where I was, flying a kite out of the back of a moving truck, and I realized that this was the happiest moment I have had in quite a while. I had an amazingly talented and attractive girl driving, I had an amazingly fun kite flying, and I had amazingly funny looks from the people who passed us as we drove at 1/4th the posted speed limit. It was just amazing any way you look at it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In the Tremonton Emergency Room

Please know, that no matter how often I may find myself in crazy and bizarre situations, most of my life is mundane and boring. I spend most of my time going to class, reading, and waiting for my laundry to dry. There’s also a fair bit of walking in between those activities, and except for the times when I walk wearing a three-cornered hat and playing colonial marching tunes on my flute, the walking is the most boring. If people only understood just how boring my life is, they wouldn’t pressure me to write more on this blog.

Speaking of boring, a few days ago I was thinking about where I was… in a chemistry class with two hundred and fifty of my closest friends… The teacher was droning on about molecular bonding orbitals forming in a benzene molecule. I was thinking about bonding and chemistry… hehehehehehehehehheheheheheheh… but not benzene. Instead I was thinking about the bonding and chemistry I had with Kate, my sister’s roommate. We’ve been on quite a few dates, and two of them were cut short by the authorities telling us that we were in an illegal location. The first time it was my idea and we won’t talk about it. The second time was the roof of the pool house in Kate’s apartment complex, and it was her idea. I won’t mention any of the things we’ve done that we didn’t get caught doing, for plausible deniability reasons. Our chemistry was like the chemistry that happens when you apply extreme heat to trinitrotoluene… hummm, does that mean that someday there will be a Fred Peace Prize? Perhaps, but I digress…

Our first date was to my second live rock band performance. Parker Abeg’s band was playing in Ogden, so we drove down to go see it. We got ice cream afterwards, and it was fun. On the way back, it was REALLY foggy and rainy. You could barely see the other cars, and you couldn’t see the road signs. After we had been driving for a while, it started to clear up, and I was wondering when we were going to get to Brigham City. The next Exit sign I saw said “Ranch Exit – No Services.”  That seemed a little odd, as I didn’t recall there being any ranch exits before Brigham City. I shrugged it off and kept driving. Kate and I were having a delightful time swapping juvenile delinquency stories, when I noticed another ranch exit sign. By the time I passed the third consecutive ranch exit announcement, I began to suspect we was in the wrong place. A sign announcing that Snowville was 6 miles away confirmed my suspicion, and we turned around. I got very confused in the darkness, and I decided to stop and ask for directions. I left the freeway at the first exit that didn’t say “No Services” and began searching for a gas station. There were none in sight, but there was a big bright sign for a hospital.

As we knocked on the door to the nurse’s station, I started thinking about where I was… in the Tremonton Emergency Room. May I say, the staff there are very helpful. I give it two thumbs up! That lady’s directions on how to get to Logan were perfect. We made it back safe and sound… except for the ringing in our ears from the concert… which was a sound, I guess. 

The moral of this story is that girl + rock concert = excitement.

Except for that bit of excitement, things in my l have been boring: full of homework, sleeping, and zombie slaying... the same-old same-old. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Relieving Myself on the Steel Jaws of Financial Death

February 12, 2011
A Saturday

Dancing is a passion of mine. For most people this comes as a bit of a surprise, but I’ve taken 4 semesters of social dance classes of one kind or another, and if I may toot my own horn a bit, I must say I am pretty dang good.  This semester I’m taking Ballroom II, a class with a delightfully disproportionate number of guys to girls. Learning all their names is a challenge, but two months into the semester, I’m up to about 80%.

Nichole, a cute biology/theater teaching major, is one of my favorite girls to dance with, and it only took me two weeks to remember her name. Generally, I don’t like to ask girls in my dance classes out until then end of the semester, as I have to keep seeing them regularly, and if it goes bad, I'll still have to dance "danger close" when she comes around in the rotation for practicing the tango - awkward! Nothing is worse than a cold mutual dislike in a hot Latin dance. I decided to make an exception for Nichole. I really should have stuck to my conduct rule, but she was just so dang cute! I first asked her out to a Chinese festival, but she couldn’t go, so I decided that would just ask her out for ice cream the next day. She told me “that sounds benign enough.” That’s exactly what she said. What does that even mean? I know what the word benign means, but what did SHE mean by using it to describe a date with me?

The ice cream date went well. She seemed like a delightful girl that was worth getting to know.  Towards the end, she mentioned that she wanted to go to The Music Man, which was being performed at a local theater. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a second date, so I asked her if I could take her to the 1:30 showing on Saturday. She said yes.

Saturday was a double-date-day. I took a girl named Joslyn out at 11:00, and since Nichol conveniently lived in the same building, I was able to make it so I only had five minutes in between the dates.

We drove to the theater and I started the parking spot search. On 100 South, there was a strip of worn out asphalt on the other side of the curb. It didn’t look like a parking lot, and there were no signs saying no parking, plus it was next to a canal, so I figured it was on the canal easement, and was fair game for parking. Obtuse expectations of Freddy.

The show was nice. Nichole was nice enough. The boot wheel lock I found on my car after the show got out was not. Another lady had parked behind me, and she too had been booted. She was one of those confrontational people. I called the number to get my car debooted. I decided that it would be worth it to find out all I could about the exact legal particulars of the case. That took a while. In the meantime, the lady who had parked behind me called the cops. That made everything more exciting. The booter-man called his booter-boss to join the party. After a rousing discussion about easements, signage, and city codes, I determined that any legal recourse would be tedious. Darling Nichol needed to go home, so she called someone to pick her up and left me. I decided it would be a good idea to call and check the funds in my account to see if I could afford to get the boot off. They were shorter, or I was taller, I’m not sure which, but either way, I had a problem. I had to call and make a funds transfer. In the meantime, the heartless shell of a man that administers the booting had to go deboot someone else.

As I was standing there waiting for a knight in shining armor to come by and use his lance to impale the booter guy's truck tires, the next best thing to a K.I.S.A., a very nice fat man from some foreign country like Armenia or something, walked up. He was the owner of Logan’s Hero’s sandwich shop. He commiserated with me about my booting woes. He told me a great story of when he was attending Utah State, and he was so poor that he had to steal some fishing lures from Fred Meyers and use them to catch fish up at first dam so that he could eat. He then walked into his shop, emerged with three bags of pitas and some frozen chicken thighs, and told me that they were to help my day go better. He drove off, and I was left standing there, realizing that I had to pee.

As I looked around for some place to… relieve myself… those magical little yellow boots on my tire caught my eye… what a relief it was. Nobody could see me, so... hehehehehe...

And then I started thinking about where I was…relieving myself of the steel jaws of financial death. I urinated all over both of the boots. ALL over them.
When the guy came back, his card reader was out of batteries. He only discovered this after he spent 6 minutes trying to use it to scan my card. We then had to wait 15 more minutes for the owner of the booting company to make another guest appearance in this magical production of the play I’m calling "My Dating Game: The Dark Chapters" (an autobiographical musical).  As the soulless wonder released my trusty steed, I just sat there and smiled. The steel jaws of financial death had dried by that point, but some things don't evaporate. It was not nice, it was not kind, it was not sanitary, but for $75.00 it was totally justifiable.

I think I should wire some M18 Claymore mines to my hubcaps, with a sign that says “Any attempt to boot will result in mine detonation.”  That ought to keep those lousy booters away!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Alone, 100 Feet in the Air, Rising a Giant Pirate Flag Over Campus

September 8th, 2010
A Wednesday
It's all Jens's fault. He got the pirate flag bug in my head, I couldn't shake it, and it was almost the death of me.

During the boredom of last semester’s under-scheduled progression, I hatched a brilliant plot to make a pirate flag out of a big black queen-sized sheet, and hang it up on the east tower of Old Main. I didn't want to just hang it off the front, that would have been easy, I wanted it on a 15 ft tall flagpole on the top spire.
The first step was to determine how best to get up on the roof. After a few minutes of snooping on the fourth floor, I realized that it was easy to get on the roof by going out any of the windows on that floor. I then located all the surveillance cameras and plotted the route that would take me past the least number of them. Next I crept up there at night to see if it was easy, and to see what would be required to get up to the spire. I determined that I would need a ladder, and some rope to tie myself off once I got up. I figured I would need some help, so I recruited a friend to hold the ladder, and pass me anything I might need. While gazing over the edge, I realized I could drape a rope off the edge, and pull up the ladder and the flagpole from the outside.

Once all my reconnaissance was completed, I made the flag, built a lightweight ladder, and started getting some people to be sentries down on the ground. I had everything ready a week before the projected date. I had decided to put it up on the Tuesday night before finals week, that way it could provide a good laugh to to those overstressed studyaholics who were probably going to be on the verge of collapse and could use a break. Unfortunately, it rained that night and I had to wait.

When fall semester started, I decided that the second week of school would be perfect. Although the stress isn't as high as it is during finals week, it's still pretty bad. I know that I definitely needed a pick-me-up!
All my sentries were still willing to do their job, and my rooftop partner was ecstatic that we were finally going to do it. While at Deseret Industries Thrift store, I discovered two Utah State University Facilities Maintenance t-shirts, the perfect disguise to enter the building with all the necessary equipment, which I would carry in a large box that would obscure my face from the two cameras I would have to pass. I finalized the plans, prepared a briefing presentation for all those involved, and waited nervously.

As Tuesday morning dawned, my rooftop partner called me to tell me he had the flu. I was so desperate for an escape from the insanity of starting, that I decided to do it alone. As the night approached, the excitement grew... I had been preparing for a long time, and it was finally happening!

After the briefing, I drove up to Old Main Hill, and moved the ladder and flag to the place where I had earlier dangled a rope off the ledge. I tied them off, and headed for the roof.

The disguise worked perfectly, and I was able to make it up to the 4th floor undetected. That's when the first hitch in the plan cropped up. I had planned to go out the window of an office on the 4th floor that was usually unlocked. When my gloved (to keep from leaving fingerprints) hand tried the door, it was locked. I almost wet myself I was so nervous! I started for my backup, the girls bathroom window, but something was wrong; the doors to the girls and boys bathrooms were propped open and the lights were on! Could the Janitor be in there? I hesitated, backtracked, and reassessed. After nobody came out, I decided to close both doors, and turn out the lights. In the dark of the Handicap accessible stall of the girls bathroom, I dawned my camouflage jacket and face mask. I then unscrewed the screen (something I wouldn't have had to do in the original office plan). I climbed out the window and replaced the screen, just in case. I pulled up the flagpole and ladder, moved them into position, and began to assemble the pole (it was in two sections, to make it easier to carry). Once it was fully assembled, I began to climb the ladder.

This is where it got scary. I had planned on having someone hold the ladder, but I was solo. I nervously climbed it one small step at a time.  Once I got up, I realized the ladder was a little short, so I had to stand on some protrusions on the metal spire cap. I tied myself off, and just stood there for a minute to regain composure. It was at this point that I started thinking about where I was... alone, 100 feet above the ground precariously balancing on slightly flimsy metal outcroppings while trying to move a giant pirate flag to the vertical in the dark, with a strong wind blowing... "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea" I said aloud. "A LITTLE LATE FOR THAT" I then replied, and I went to work!

The Zip ties I brought weren't long enough, so I had to combine them together. This took much longer than I had planned, but it worked. It took a while to get the pole up and secured. Once it was, I began to twist the rod and deploy the flag. It was so beautiful to see that giant scull smiling down at me, seemingly saying "I knew you could get me here."

I finished up, untied myself, and began my withdrawal. I made sure I took everything off with me. I tossed the ladder over the edge, climbed back in the window, and stuffed all my gear back in the box for my exit. As I descended the stairs, a real facilities maintenance man was doing his cleaning rounds, but he didn't get a look at my face. As I exited the building I wondered if he would end up being the poor chap who would have to take it down.

The next morning when I went to my 7:30 am class, there my flag was, waiving briskly in the stiff breeze! As I walked to my 9:30 am class, I watched a crew of men heavily harnessed climbing up to the top to take it down. I stood there, talking with a friend as a police officer wound up the flag on the pole. It didn't last long, but it was totally worth it!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Canoing at Midnight with a Cute Lunch Lady I Had Met at a Rock Concert Earlier That Evening

September 6th, 2010
A Monday

Saturday was an Airsoft day. I took the M-14 I got from a pawn shop for $25.00, and it performed perfectly. After coming home and crashing, I decided to go for a walk to scout a little for a prank I'm pulling later this week. While wondering, I discovered that there would be a rock concert later, so I decided to go change into a shirt I had made that said "UTAH STATE ZOMBIE INFECTION SURVIVOR" because that seemed like something that would be cool to wear to my first rock concert. When I came back, I was very glad I had chosen that shirt, as it attracted the attention of a cute girl named Ashley. She looked Korean, or maybe Japanese, but at least a generation removed from her immigrant ancestors. I was hoping that I could get her number, but as the night wore on it looked less and less likely.

Now, I realize that there are, in fact, other kids my age who haven't gone to rock concerts. For most of these kids either the phrase "instance" has a deeply WOWing personal meaning or they were home-schooled. When I discovered that I wouldn't have to pay the usually outrageous prices I've heard being paid for attendance at such events, I decided to get some proper pop-culturing.

The first band, who's name included the phrase "Shut Up," was musically unimpressive to me, but obviously the horde of "my esteemed peers" around me was really feeling the spirit of the music. As the muscular, long-haired electric guitarist sprung up on stage and let fly with the first cords, a general cheer eeked out from the crowd, but quickly subsided. The band, who was just playing the intro for the main feature, recognized their roll of getting people all riled up. Although their tunes weren't my type, I was impressed by their ability to get the crowd to start cheering, if not for their music, than at least through their encouragement and enthusiasm. They were continuously flinging statements to the effect that we were the greatest crowd they'd ever had. As I looked at the swirling tangle of arms and bouncing faces screaming around me, I thought to myself "I believe it."

As the next song began to erode my eardrums, a drunk that looked to be in the early stages of being infected by the zombie-creating Solanum virus shoved his way past me, and began to violently shove the people around me. I don't how such a sensible and responsible thought could occur to anyone at such an event, but my first thought when I saw this drunk start to shove and hit the people around him, was to get a police officer. This thought was quickly quashed when I realized that this might be the start of what I had heard termed a "Mosh Pit," and since more people started shoving and pushing, and nobody else around me (except the cute girl from before) looked shocked, I was content to look on in fascinated horror. Amid all the shoving and pushing, one kid did a flying sidekick that looked like it was straight out of a Chuck Norris video. I decided that the one short little guy standing between me and the mosh wasn't enough, and I did some shoving of my own to move back a bit.

As the crowd-mentality willed me along a seemingly random course, I found myself blocking the view of an attractive girl about 10" shorter than me. I began to tease her about blocking her view. Flirting is difficult when you have to shout (it takes some of the more fine subtleties out), but judging from her giggles and grin I wasn't at too much of a handicap. As the throbbing beat continued to jar my frame, I felt relieved that I might at least get a date out of all this insanity.

The lead singer of the band made two very interesting comments in between songs. One was when he swore. He caught himself and apologized, as the crowd cheered, some because he swore, and some because he apologized. He said that it was a miracle that he had made it half way through the concert without swearing... Only in UTAH! The second was the comment that he had been all over the nation, and that by a very long shot, the girls in Utah were more attractive than anywhere else. I couldn't help but reflect on the reasons for this, and wonder if he would ever really understand why that was.

After the first band quit, I found a slight reprieve during which I could "get to know this chick." Her name was McKenzie. I found out she was a lunch lady at the High School, and a hairdresser. I asked if she would like to go get a Slurpee with me after. She smiled and with a cute little jump she said "Sure!"

As "The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus" mounted the stage, I realized that the slightly unkempt look of the previous band was just to desensitize me. Once or twice during their performance, I thought for a moment that some crazy girl had jumped up on stage, only to realize again that it was a guy under that flowing mop of hair. By this point, I was suffering from dehydration, and much to my relief, my new friend McKenzie announced that her friend had some pizza and pop, and we just had to shove our way through the crowd to the back to get some. As I began clearing us a path, I began to understand a little bit of the appeal of shoving people to the rhythm of a throbbing bass. Refueled by her friend, we plowed back into the morass.

As the concert drew to a close, the drummer tore off his shirt, and began to parade around the stage. I shouted to my new companion "Hey, do you want to see a slightly overweight drummer without a shirt?" (She was too short to have a good view). She said yes, and I offered to boost her up on my shoulders. My last moments at my first rock concert were spent watching a topless, tattooed drummer toss his sticks to the crowd, while an attractive hairdressing lunch lady perched on my shoulders to get a better view.

After fleeing the crowd with our hands clasped, we got Slurpees, and then randomly decided to take my canoe to a nearby lake. As the Midnight hour approached, I started thinking about where I was... Canoeing with a cute lunch lady I met at a rock concert. A good way to finish out a week, I think.