Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ch. 43: How a fire taught Alice about geneaology and Big Corbin Zean won a suitable prize for carving the scariest jack-o-lantern he could think of

***This post is written in the style of Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck, a very funny book indeed. If only I were as talented a writer as Steinbeck, then this post would be truly humorous. And I would be famous.***

On October 21st, Alice and Big Corbin Zean smelled smoke as they left church. This was not the smoke from the hundreds of votive candles lit for the Virgin Mother. They were sure of this because there were no candles lit for the Virgin or any other saint in their church. They are not catholic. The smoke they smelled was carried on the wind along with little flakes of ash that would be the closest thing to snow San Diego would see that holiday season. Alice was reminded of home.

"It smells like a neighbor is burning their trash. I miss southwest Virginia. Can we have soup for dinner?"

Alice and Big Corbin Zean did not have soup for dinner that night, and the smoky air would soon bring other things to mind besides country living. The man on the radio told of a devastating wild fire sweeping across southern California, blown by the hot Santa Anna winds, at speeds up to 80 mph. The winter before, these same winds brought warm air from the desert and 80 degree December days to the temperate San Diego coast making the beach a plausible destination while the rest of the country froze. This time, the Santa Anna winds were bringing a little too much warmth.

Alice and Big Corbin Zean both went in to work the next morning, only to return home a few hours later due to air quality concerns. They stayed inside their apartment and breathed each other's exhalation for the rest of the day and all the following Tuesday. Big Corbin Zean had borrowed a projector from a friend for a lesson on Sunday and had cleverly 'forgotten' to return it.

"My friend surely would not want me to be outside in these dangerous times. And I have heard of smoke damaging televisions and computers. The smoke outside might damage the electronics inside the projector. It is for his own good that I keep this projector safe in my own house until the smoke has cleared."

And so Alice, Big Corbin Zean, and their cat, Señor Papel, Bishop of Artesia, watched movies on their bedroom wall while they anxiously awaited an evacuation call the man on the radio said might come at any moment. At one point, their apartment lay just two miles outside of the evacuation zone. And so Alice began preparations.

On deciding what was most important and worthy of saving from the potential fires, Alice learned that staying alive was her number one priority. Food storage, clothes, and emergency 72 hour kits were the first items piled in the middle of the living room floor. She also realized that those documents passed down from her ancestors and her own remembrances that would be important to her and her posterity came in a close second. Photo albums, home movies, journals, birth and marriage certificates were added to the pile. Big Corbin Zean and Señor Papel, Bishop of Artesia mostly sat on the couch and ate corn dogs.

As it turned out, Alice and Big Corbin Zean were not evacuated. But Alice learned an important lesson. She learned that the most precious things in life are your connections to those who have gone before and to those who are yet to come. And also staying alive long enough to give those who are yet to come a chance to do so.

Alice returned to work on Wednesday but Big Corbin Zean stayed home all week because his university campus was closed. And he had a cold.

The next week, Alice and Big Corbin Zean were invited to a pumpkin carving party and Big Corbin Zean carved the scariest thing he could think of. He carved a picture of a house burning down. Even though he cheated and looked at pictures of houses on the interwebs, the party goers voted Big Corbin Zean's pumpkin the best of the evening and awarded him a suitable prize. Big Corbin Zean gave his suitable prize to his sweetheart, Alice, and thought to himself how she would be the first thing he packed if he ever had to flee from the path of a raging wild fire.


Other Halloween pictures including a Mary Poppins, a tennis ball super-glued to Corbin's head, and pumpkin carving action shots.

Halloween 2007

14 Helens agree.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Alice is clairvoyant (and that's one reason I heart her)

This week campus was closed due to the wild fires so I was left with lots of free time. (I think we will post the week's events later so you can read all about our harrowing battle with the flames of death. But for now, you can get your fill from the 24 hour propaganda networks.) This afternoon I busied myself making this short video for Alice. When I went to pick her up from work I told her I had made a surprise for her on the 'puter. Her immediate response was "Is it an 'I heart Alice' movie?" What the heck?! Please stay out of my brain. That is personal property and you cannot enter without some kind of warrant.

She is no respecter of the law, personal space, or personal alpha waves. Although, it does make it easier to call her from across town when I am trapped inside a shark tank with bombs strapped to my ankles and my mobile is dead. Surprises are always difficult but at least she knows how much I love her even when I don't make cheesy videos to tell her.

P.S. I know hearting things was so 2002, but she is just so cute I can't help myself.

3 Helens agree.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Babylon the Great is Balling

Last weekend Alice and I caught a rare glimpse of Babylon. Let me tell you, the food in Babylon is exquisite, although their churros tend to be a little overcooked. You'd think the devil, with all his worldly power, would know how to make a good churro. But apparently, that is one secret the Mexicans aren't willing to share, even with the lord of the underworld. Then again, would it really be hell if they had tasty churros? But I digress...without having even started my subject.

Qualcomm, one of San Diego's largest employers and a Fortune 500 company, held their annual employee party, code named Quallapalooza, right down the street from our apartment at the La Jolla Hyatt. Alice and I, upon hearing the noise and seeing lasers shoot over the high brick walls, donned our evening wear and sauntered (well, I sauntered, Alice glided) past the security guards and into the height of decadence. [Tips on getting into parties without having to lie: 1. Follow a large crowd and try and get into the middle. 2. Don't look at anyone checking tickets/badges etc. in the eye. Just keep your eye on the prize and believe you can make it. 3. Look and act like you belong. I once got Alice into an OKGO student only concert because I was wearing a tie and my hat and they thought I was in one of the bands. I simply said "She's with me" and they let her through.]

Just inside the lobby, we were greeted by the most original and progressive musical artist of our day. I can only describe him as a neo-medieval steampunk glamrock cyber cellist. He even brought his own fan (seen in the lower left corner of the photo) to blow his luxurious blond locks around while he sent his audience on an auditory cybertrip to a land of dragons and robots.

But the surprises didn't stop there. In fact, there was far too much awesomeness to document all of it here. A brief list would include open bars; lasers; gambling; Johnny Cash cover band; at least three other bands on different stages inside and outside of the hotel; celebrity impersonators of Madonna, Bono, and Cher (first identified by Alice as a drag queen); a giant chocolate fountain; more types of food than I can remember; palm readers; caricaturists; prom style photographers; walking trees...the list goes on and on.

But the highlight of the evening were the ten foot diameter clear beach balls floating on the hotel swimming pool with bikini clad girls rolling around inside of them. That's right. Dancing girls inside giant balls floating on the water. If judged on this point alone, this party was the greatest party since the fireworks show at Sodom and Gomorrah. I will end the account here as there will be no topping the floating hamster girls.

P.S. You may be wondering why there is some strange man in our picture instead of Alice or me. That is because we forgot to bring our camera. Luckily for us, people like to share their pictures with the world. A quick google search found some random person's pictures of the very same event we were at. Just remember that the Interwebs sees all.

5 Helens agree.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Aged to distraction

Alice and I went to a nursing home and spent time with some old geezers. We got pictures of our two favorites. This old curmudgeon was more fun than a barrel of Geritol. And his decrepit wife knew how to rile him up until he was so agitated that he wet his depends.

OK. If it's not obvious, our long-toothed friends are actually none other than yours truly-s. Alice and I went to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and were virtually aged via the miracles of modern science. (Now if they could only go the other way, my dream of becoming immortal so I can finish all the seasons of Lost could come true). I think I aged quite well. Like a more ruggedly handsome Sean Connery, except for the vacant, senile eyes (but I've always had those). I think I'll buy Alice some moisturizer on the way home.

Here's a link to the rest of the photos we took there. Remember 'Judge not amateur photography lest your professional grade photography be judged'.

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center - Oct 12 2007

4 Helens agree.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shock and Ah! How cute!

Alice says I sometimes say things just to shock people. Sometimes I think she is right. Other times I know she is. This is one of those latter times. But I'm going to go ahead with my attention whoring nonetheless.

Would eating your own boogers be considered breaking your fast?

This question was intensely debated by Joe, Brad and me through text messages yesterday. It being fast Sunday in our ward, food was on my mind and I thought I had found a clever loop hole. So I went to my trusted spiritual loutish advisory duo, Joe and Brad. Here's what they had to say:

Me: Does eating your own boogers break your fast?
Brad: Technically, I don't think so. Although I personally exclude them from my fasts. It all depends on how you phrase your opening prayer.
Joe: Only as much as swallowing your own spit.
Me: So that's a no, right?
Joe: Right. Just make sure you don't get caught. Then you would have other things to worry about.

So I got the green light from my brain trust. But I chickened out at the last minute. Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against digging for gold. In Portugal, where I served my mission, it was much less of a social taboo than it is here and I found it quite liberating. Although in public I'll usually just sneak a surface thumb scrape, not the full-bore index finger, just to make sure I don't have any danglies.

I just never got into the eating it part. Not even when I was little. But according to some doctors (OK, maybe just one), snacking on booger mcnuggets can be good for you. If I look exceptionally well fed and happy next fast Sunday, you'll know I no longer have a gag reflex.

7 Helens agree.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Biggest Fan

My sister, Henri, has proven that she's the biggest "The Freshest Hell" fan through the creation of a t-shirt. I really like chocolate...so if anyone wants to beat Henri at being the biggest fan, you can make chocolates for me. I'm not ashamed of being open to bribes.

I don't want you all leaving this blog thinking "Henri" is short for Henrietta, because it's not. Henri's formal name is Margaret Ruth. So Henri has nothing to do with it. For as long as I can remember, my family called Henri, Henri. My dad was the author of this name, taking it from a comic in the newspaper during the mid '80s. Henri was a character in the comic who was a baby that my dad thought resembled our Henri.

My dad was fond of making unusual nick names for his kids. I was called Bones since I was so skinny but it wasn't used much. Joe was called Fat Boy since he was a pudge when he was a toddler, that also didn't stick for long. Tom's name was actually made up by my siblings and me, it's Boss Chicken. It came from us teasing him that he was bossy like a chicken, whatever that means (we were in elementary school). Tom was called this for a good portion of his life. In his defense, Tom is not bossy like a chicken at all. Zack, the youngest, was and still is called Junior, Boss Chicken Jr.that is. When Zack was in primary the primary leaders heard my dad calling Zack "Junior" and thought he was named after my dad. For that year's primary program, Zack's name was listed in the program as "Don, Jr."

So that's a little background on my family.

7 Helens agree.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Me + Science = Cool

Last night I brought the young men from the ward to my lab for our activity. I performed amazing and inexplicable feats of magic and miracles. They were awed by my awesomeness. The Bible says 'out of the mouths of babes...something something' and straight from the kids - I am the coolest guy ever. Unfortunately, I forgot to recruit a camera man so the rest of the world could partake of my glorious glory. So you'll just have to take my word for it (or the word of the throngs of raving fans present last night) that my magic is truly magical.

Here is a list of the many, many two magical feats I performed last night.
1. Dehydration of sugar with sulfuric acid
2. Super Frozen Banana and Rose (You won't find these frozen bananas at the fair! Unless it's a SCIENCE fair! Because that's what I do at my job, science.)

The rest of the night I captivated them with my unrivaled yarn spinning skills. It was a truly magical evening. I would almost say 'romantical' if it wasn't all guys.

So, the next time you're in town, stop by* Corbin's Wondrous World of Wonderful Wonders. You will be undissapointed.

*This offer is only good for friends and family who live very far away, and thus have an extremely low probability of ever actually visiting. (The shattered banana was kind of a pain to clean up once it thawed out again.)

3 Helens agree.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Spa Day at the Dentist

I too went to the dentist, the same dentist as Corbin as a matter of fact. However, my experience was much different, spa worthy different.

As I was laying in the chair, the hygienist asked me if I was interested in getting a parafin wax hand bath. Initially I didn't know how to respond. I thought, "is she asking me if I like them, have done them before, or would seriously want one at this very minute?" My hygienist confirmed and said, "Yes, we have the equipment in the back, if you want one now." Heck yeah I wanted one at that very moment. Who doesn't love a nice wax hand bath?!?

So following a little tooth polishing, we went in the back and my hands were dipped in the warm wax. Then giant "mittens" were put on my hands and we went back to my chair. I received a floride treatment and then the dentist inspected my teeth. I got a 100 percent...I mean I was good to go (I still love getting 100's). The wax was removed from my hands, and my clean teeth and moisturized hands happily left the office. Now that's customer service.

The hygienist told me they were working to obtain more spa like amenities in the office to offer patients. Apparently it's a growing trend in dental offices to offer spa treatments as they work to make their patient's stay more comfortable. I would like to see massages, foot rubs, maybe a manicure or pedicure, oh and definitely a face mask offered. Hopefully all of these could be accommodated in one visit.

If my local hospital had a spa facility, you would not see me hesitate to have a baby. Part of me secretly wished to return to my dentist office sooner than another 6 months so I could get more pampering.

3 Helens agree.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

People will pay you to be inhumane

Some people don't like going to the dentist. I don't mind it. I like the mild pain of the cleanings (kind of like good loose tooth pain) and being flossed by someone else. It makes me feel like royalty. Like I'm so rich that I can pay someone to chew my food and then floss my teeth when I am done. I guess I really am so rich that I can pay someone to floss my teeth. People in Africa don't have dental hygienists. Plus my dental hygienist is very gentle with the floss. Much more gentle than I am with my own gums, which is nice. I guess.

But I also had some sealants put on my wisdom teeth. I still have them which is why I'm so smart. But they are hard to clean and I apparently have deeply grooved wisdom teeth which has caused not cavities, but some staining. So the dentist did a little etching and a little sealing.

The whole process reminded me of the last time I had a cavity back in Virginia. We were living in southwest VA at the time and I think our dentist had a lot of back woods clients, considering the level of treatment I received. The experience gave me a good story anyway. Well, it's an alright story. But it's not very long, which is why I have to pad it with all this extra background and build up. On with it.

I went in for the scheduled fillings and the dentist informed me that they were just little surface cavities. He asked me if I wanted Novocaine. I had never been offered anything else so I asked what my options were. I was really hoping for some laughing gas, but apparently he didn't have a sense of humor. My options were Novocaine or nothing. Nothing!?! NOTHING?!?! Are you mental? You are going to drill into my teeth, right? With a drill! And you ask if I want NOTHING?!?!

So I said, 'Sure. I'll go with the Nothing.' I hate Novocaine. You have to go through the rest of the day with half your face Christopher Reeves-ized. And you look like Sloth from Goonies, even though your face magically changes back to normal every time you look in the mirror. No thank you. Besides, how bad could it really hurt?

Let's just say my new dentist was surprised by the reflex urination in my pants produced by the sound of his dental drill yesterday.

Actually, it turns out that it didn't really hurt that bad. But he did touch a nerve a time or two with his drill, so it wasn't all laughs. But I get to act like a tough guy and tell people that I got two cavities filled with no numbing. And I've got a terrible memory so it's practically like I never felt the pain at all.

Well, I've got to go stare at myself in the mirror for hours.

3 Helens agree.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

For the Incredulous and Curious

***DISCLAIMER: This video was requested. Alice and I are not those people who think having a pet is like having a child and should, therefore, be bragged, talked, and blogged about incessantly. Although this denial makes it all the more likely that we are, in fact, those people. Please shoot me.***

As the creator of the video, I am exercising my rights to ascribe to it meaning and purpose. This is Papel's response to Zac's cats, William and Wallace, and their shameless rabble rousing. Papel figuratively and literally poops on their violent, anarchistic ideals. Papel knows that he is safer, healthier, happier, and better fed than those cats condemned to the outdoors, whether by chance or by negligent owners.

Remember, "Cat Heaven is a beautiful place, but you can't get there if you're euthanized."

10 Helens agree.