close call

I hate it when some one shares an experience that starts with "So, funny story..." When that phrase prefaces what you have to say, the story is rarely funny.

That being said... funny story, I almost died the other day.

Right outside the window of my basement classroom is a large gas generator (flammable gasses, highly explosive). On the other side of a paved fifteen foot loading area is refrigeration and ventilation controls. Both pieces of machinery have large signs that warn ‘no smoking with in fifty feet.’

I have caught agents smoking out there; one was even leaning against the generator while smoking what could have been his very last cigarette.
I said, “Excuse me.”
He cocked his head to the side like a confused dog and asked “What?”
I just pointed to the ‘flammable gasses, no smoking’ sign.
“Oh, crap.” He said, and then started to walk away to the parking lot.

Since my classroom is in the basement, there is a hill side climbing steeply from either side. Holding up the landscaping next to the generators are wood four by fours coated with a tar like oil to keep the wood from rotting (also flammable).

Wednesday, right before lunch, one of my students exclaim, “Um, Nic… there’s a fire outside. Well maybe not a fire but it’s definitely smoking.”

Curious, I walked to the window and sure enough, there was smoke billowing from one of the wood posts fifteen to twenty feet away from the explosive material right outside my window. I dismissed every one for lunch and ran to get some water.

When I got outside a supervisor was standing above the fire spitting on it. (I did not know that saliva could be used for fighting fires, he was unaware it wouldn’t work) Later I asked him if he was really spitting on it. He said that he was and that he was to lazy to go inside to get water. Thanks, I feel safe.

My cup of water almost put it out but not quite, but a second cup did. Inside a hollowed out section of wood laid a lone cigarette. Some smoker almost burnt the place down, or blew it up, depends on how you look at it. Also take note, our company does have one designated smoking area… and the basement parking lot is not it.

The scary part of this story is that I forgot to tell my wife about it. She found out about the ordeal from a mutual friend of ours who also works at the same place I do.


up in the air... then a couple hours later

I have been out of town for most of this week. While I am enjoying my stay in what is likely the nicest hotel room I've ever stayed in, the trip hasn't been as relaxing as I'd hoped for.

Part of the reason for the nonrelaxing trip is the 6am flight out of Spokane International. And the alarm going off at 3am so I could get there on time. My destination, Denver International, is architecturally beautiful, a stunning and efficient feat of engineering.

If you have never flown in or out of DIA, I encourage you to do so. But only if you're with someone who knows their way around, otherwise you might get lost. The whole airport is it's own little metropolis, out in the middle of nowhere. Gas stations, accommodations, dozens of car rental agencies, and a nearly infinite amount of parking spaces. Once inside the airport, you'll find shops and a food court to rival some small town malls, gallery quality art, and crowds that define one of the busiest airports in the nation.

I was excited for the plane ride upon discovery that my airline used XM radio for their in flight entertainment. I did have my MP3 player, but they don't let you listen to it during take off and landings. The batteries were also low and I forgot to pick some up at Walgreens on my way out of town. But, channel selection was limited and the only station worth anything was 20 on 20. It sounds like a good idea, they play the top 20 songs as voted for by listeners and there's about 60 songs to chose from (vote for).

Stickwitu was playing when I started listening and I continued to listen through Sugar, We're going Down, Because of You, and some other less memorable song. I fell asleep sometime during Dance, Dance. One would think that they would update their top 20 songs after each rotation, but no. They play the same 20 songs over and over, and (even worse) in the same order. When I woke up, Stickwitu was playing followed by Sugar, We're Going Down and Because of You.

Note to self... Buy batteries before flying back to Spokane.



A friend and I were talking over the weekend about the strange transition from having a pregnant wife to being a father. Life changes in an instant. It may be a tiny moment in time but it shatters your familiar existence, and before long you have a hyperactive toddler.

Becoming a father is a surreal experience, like when the alarm clock starts buzzing but seems to be a part of the dream in the final seconds of slumber before waking. I think all dads have that moment. For my friend, it was hearing his daughter cry for the first time. My moment was when I got to dress Christian for the first time. And then again when we were finally able to bring him home from the hospital.

That is the essence of life ... little moments. Hearing your baby's uncontrolled laughter for the first time. How innocent words like yes, up, and sit sound naughty coming from the lips of a toddler. Coming home from work and thinking the kid has grown since you left that morning.

To an extent, raising a child still seems surreal. Every now and then I look at Christian and think, Is that kid really mine. Of course he is. Looking into his blue eyes is much like staring at my own reflection.


glutton for punishment

My body has endured two consecutive nights of self inflicted strains and voluntary abuse. I never knew that when I signed on to be a youth leader, that that included massive amounts of exercise.

Tuesday night we took the high school kids hiking up Canfield Mountain. Ten years ago, such an activity would not have been a problem. But then again, ten years ago I was in high school. The other issue is that little hike (about 35 minutes for healthy/in shape people) is the first hiking I had done since 1999 when I moved away from Seattle. Despite being a short hike, it is fairly steep in spots (most of it) and provides spectacular views of Hayden Lake, Hayden, Dalton Gardens, and Coeur d’Alene.

Last night the junior high had a bigger and better scavenger hunt. This a scavenger hunt without a set list of things to find. Instead each group is given a paper clip then goes from house to house asking to trade our item with the home owner for something bigger and better. My group traded our paper clip for a Gerber baby spoon, traded the spoon for a box of plastic forks, and the forks for a heart shaped wreath. By the time we accomplished that, we were out of time. This whole activity required a lot of walking (and failed attempt to restrain one individual who had this compulsive urge to jump/stomp in every puddle we came across). Normally walking would not have been a problem, except for the fact that I HIKED UP A MOUNTAIN the night before.

Oh yeah, if you’ve been paying attention to the weather forecasts for the inland northwest, it has been unseasonably cool with large quantities of rain. While Spokane and Post Falls got dumped on Tuesday, CDA/Hayden received minimal amounts of rainfall. It did start raining Tuesday night, but not till a half hour after all the kids had gotten off of the mountain. It rained nonstop all night and through the day yesterday. We were worried that we’d be doing the scavenger hunt in the rain. But thankfully it did finally stop ... just before the start of youth group.


real life conversation

Said to me in reference to the clothes my son and I were wearing while walking out of Starbucks...

"Dude, you're wearing matching pants!"

This might be a totally acceptable remark if ... Well Christian was wearing shorts and I was wearing carpenter pants. They weren't even the same shade of denim. The only thing they had in common was that they were both made of denim.

That would be like me saying to him and the girl he was with "Dude, you have matching hair cuts!" Only because neither of them were bald.

new horizons

This last week has been absolutely crazy. By crazy, I mean busy and inconceivable just a few short weeks ago.

Bekah has been looking for a job, but considering she hasn't worked anywhere for two years, her resume is not impressive. Needless to say she has not had much luck with her job search. Then she had a revelation - "I have experience in child care. I should start a daycare." And that is exactly what she and a friend of ours is doing. So as we speak (well, I'm typing, you're reading) Bekah and friend are planning and preparing to open up a daycare starting July 1st. She's kind of freaking out nervous about it, but aren't most people when starting a business?

Bekah and I have been working with our church's youth group for a while, and for most of that time I've been trying to avoid working with junior high. Stick with the high school kids, it's only one night a week, I can do that. Apparently God had other plans. So did my youth pastor. I walked into his office Friday evening thinking I was going to help do some planning for an upcoming youth service and walked out co-leader for the youth worship band. I'm not sure how it all happened; right now my memory is still a bit hazy.

The worship band plays both the high school and junior high services. So, I guess that means I'll be working with the junior highers too.

So, in a very short period of time, Bekah has become an entrepreneur and I've become a worship leader. As if our lives weren't crazy enough.


happy panda dance

For the last several weeks, every time I drive up 95 into Hayden I do a little happy panda dance.

Coeur d’Alene is getting a Panda Express. After about a month and a half of construction, Panda Express opened this week. And apparently, I am not the only person excited about this.

We went there for dinner last night, there were a dozen cars waiting in the drive through and the line inside was equally long, we waited in line for about a half hour before getting to order. Worth the wait though.

I'm sure some of you have never heard of Panda Express. Just think of it as Subway with Chinese food instead of sub sandwiches. Really good Americanized Chinese food.

I used to eat at one in Boise a lot. There was one in the same parking lot as the Old Navy I used to work for. It was that, Carl Jr's, Arbys, or junk food from ShopKo. There wasn't a Panda Express in Sioux Falls when we lived there, and until now there wasn't one here. So it's been a couple of years since I've had Panda Express.

Although, they've changed some of their recipes since I last ate there. The orange chicken is a bit spicier than I remember. And they soak their sweet and sour pork in the sweet and sour sauce prior to serving instead of after, no longer giving you the option to serve the sauce on the side.

Oh well, still really good food.



What is better?

Pleasant incompetence
Defiant brilliance

Polite stupidity
Rambunctious intelligence


If I could blog my way.

How do we do it? How do we find time to blog?

This blog is nothing more than what its title suggests. The rants, raves, and random thoughts of a slightly crazy, caffeine addicted, sarcastic little man.

If you read my profile and dig through my links, you can see some of the things that are important to me. Movies, music, books, games...

If I could do things my way, this blog would be very different. And it would not be my only one.

Let me dream for a little before snapping back to reality. If time and energy were not issues I would keep and update multiple blogs.
First one would be devoted to music: new album releases and reviews, concerts, links to various bands and artists, and anything having to do with music.
Second one for movies. Similar format as the first: reviews, look at up coming releases, anything movies. I don't go to the theater as often as I used to, but remember, this is if time/energy weren't issues.
This blog would be broken up into three parts. 1. Random Thoughts: theological, philosophical, political musings, and any other random happenings inside my head. 2. Rants: a simple look at stupidity in the world around us. 3. Raves: my life, what's going on.

But... alas, I have little time, and the little I have is precious. I work 40+ hours a week and when I get home, I need to spend some time with my family. My wife is looking for a job, my 21 month old son is in his terrible two's (despite not yet celebrating a second birthday), and my dog is mentally handicapped. Outside of work and home, I'm a youth leader for my church's youth group, update this blog (the haphazard combination of what I wish I had time to keep separate), working on my first novel, brainstorming ideas for a second one, then there's that creepy/addictive/obsessive MySpace thing. Not to mention our feeble attempts at a social life, Bekah and I do have friends.

How do you do it all? By the time I get through work and get home, all I can do is sleep. Where did all of my spare time go?

I would love to be able to quit my job so that I could write full time, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

Miracles do happen, until then... I can dream.


something else to laugh at

Here's a funny joke I found on this dude's blog:

Jesus saw a crowd chasing down a woman to stone her and approached them. "What's going on here, anyway?" he asked.
"This woman was found committing adultery, and the law says we should stone her!" one of the crowd responded.
"Wait," yelled Jesus. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
Suddenly, a stone was thrown from out of the sky, and knocked the woman on the side of her head.
"Aw, c'mon, Dad..." Jesus cried, "I'm trying to make a point here!"