Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's a Guy Thing

I work next door to a great guy I met working at the temple. He is a CPA and we have been working together for 2 years now. We have a great time together because he used to swim for Utah at he same time I swam for BYU. So we have a built in rivalry, but are civilized about it – as much as you can be civilized when it comes to BYU and Utah football.

Well over the last two weeks the rivalry has intensified exponentially. Kevin started working with a trainer to prepare for a half marathon at Disney World. He was having so much fun with the trainer I decided mom and I would go to the same trainer and started a month ago


For one exercise she has us do the “Plank” and she timed Kevin one morning and he did a 1:00. So she had me do it and I did it for 1:15. Not to be outdone, Kevin turns in a 1:56 hurting and shaking. It was up to me to surpass the record and I did 2:05 the next week. Now the game was really on and Kevin blew us all away when he did 3:04 the following week. I’m totally sucked into this one-up-manship game now especially since he and I go back and forth about BYU vs Utah. I had several days to prepare and worked on my toe techniques as well as head positioning to maximize the time.

Friday was the day and I even wore my BYU T-shirt for good luck, said my prayers, and loosened up well for the ultimate Plank. Everything was ready and I launched my position. Things lined up well, I protected my head, sailed through the first minute, but then started shaking. NO! Not this early, it’s only been 1:30, surely my BYU toned body is better than a U of U graduate. Hang in there, Alright we cleared 2:00 and I can live with the shaking and pain through out my back for a minute. At 2:30 I thought this is so stupid and childish, but hang in there for at least 3 mins. At 3:00 my thoughts cleared and I could stretch this out a few more seconds…..yes, I passed 3:05 and on to 3:10 and that was it. I will never ever do that again.

I said that until Kevin did 3:31 Saturday morning, now I have until Monday to get prepared.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wild Dive

It was a wild dive at the aquarium this week. I was in the Sea of Cortez exhibit; now called Under the Sea. The aquarium has hired a number of curvaceous young ladies who wear a skimpy top, a mono-fin, and some stretchy fabric to cover their legs and they look like mermaids. They do their hair is a fun shape and fill the tank with Ariel look alikes. In addition to those extra bodies they have a couple of new huge (6 ft.) rays and a shove nose shark that require hand feeding. It is a big pool but with 3 divers, a 300 lbs grouper, 2 large nurse sharks, 4 adult moray eels and hundreds of other fish the place can get a little crowded.

The guy I was diving with wanted to feed the rays and the shovel nose shark which can be tricky. They were doing a cleanse last week and so the animals hadn’t been fed for a week and were really hungry and they can all be very aggressive when they’re hungry. He is supposed to kneel down and have the animals come to him and the other diver and I have PVC pipe to push away the nurse shark and other animals. But it didn’t work that way. He never got to kneel down before the rays were all over him going after the food (squids). They were even attacking the clear canister holding the food. We were keeping the nurse sharks away but he couldn’t handle the rays.

All of a sudden he thrusts the food into my hand and grabs my PVC pipe and traded places with me. In an instant I have 4 rays and a shovel nose shark circling and bumping into me wanting to be fed. I’m trying to grab a squid with one hand and push away a slimy floppy ray with the other hand and duck my head from getting bit. I loved the challenge until one of the rays decided to chomp down on my thigh. Man that hurt and I couldn’t shake him off. Just then the nurse shark moved in to grab my squid and had to be pushed away. The shovel nose grabbed at my hand with the food in it and got a piece of my fingers. I didn’t have any chain mail because I didn’t start out feeding so I felt the sting. Then the lady diver accidently kicked me in the head with her flipper trying to man handle the nurse shark. But the ray let go of my leg….I don’t think neoprene rubber tastes all that good, and things settled down for the rest of the feeding. I love all the action.

The exhibit also had just brought in 6 new baby moray eels and they lived on the eel wall. Feeding them was also a ball. They were spotted and green and cute and cuddly. Well maybe not cuddly. But I had a great time hand feeding the babies and avoided getting bit as they slithered and snapped their jaws to grab the tiny minnows. It took a long time to do the feeding but it was a relaxing calming experience after the rays. But holding and feeding Charlie is still way better.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Birthday in the Mountains

Mom and I wore ourselves out this weekend as we celebrated mine and the country's birthday in the mountains around Breckenridge. This must be the bicycle capitol of the world. Every other car had either a full or empty bike rack. So we joined right in and on my birthday we went to the required Art Festival had lunch at a sidewalk cafe then went biking. We tackled Dillon Lake and biked all the way around, a total of 26 miles. Mom was incredible, tackling the whole thing with a healing broken arm and without a complaint - very impressive.
We were a little sore so on the country's birthday we watched the required small town 4th of July parade and then we went hiking into fields of wild flowers and amazing mountain vistas. When we got home we had a dinner of brats, watermelon, and potato salad. It was a perfect weekend.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Back to School

I took the opportunity to travel back to some of my deep dark roots over the weekend and came away with some very interesting thoughts. I started the trip by flying to Seattle and spending the night with Paulette. My sister and I talked late into the night and had a great time and as we toured around her yard the next day I started getting nostalgic for the Pacific Northwest. Here were all these incredibly beautiful massive evergreen trees, lush green foliage, bright flowers, driftwood from the salt water, and the views of the sound. I asked Paulette why didn’t I live here anymore – it is gorgeous. She asked me to point out the sun and I looked up and couldn’t see anything but a cloudy grey sky and realized that was why we lived in Colorado. I do like the sun.

I drove up to an old party town from high school days called Chilliwack, BC and met up with Elder Sallenbach who was a missionary who recently had lived in our basement and finished his mission. He hadn’t wasted any time moving on with his life as he was engaged within three months of his return and scheduled to marry in two weeks. I met his fiancĂ©e Katie and she is a kick and will keep Bach Bach in line. We had time to even visit Cultus Lake, a site of a few high school hi jinks better left forgotten. I enjoyed meeting the parents and was able to remember enough embarrassing stories and give some spicy newlywed advice that I’m sure Brandon was happy to see me leave the next day.

I had the day to explore Vancouver and headed straight for the aquarium. I wanted to see whales and dolphins and really enjoyed visiting another aquarium. Plus I had enough time to swing by Simon Fraser University.

This visit really hit me hard. Since the time I was in the 8th grade until my senior year in high school I used to practice with the SFU swim team and became great friends with the coach Paul Savage. He was an American like myself and promised me a juicy scholarship when I was ready to go to college. I dreamed of swimming for SFU for several years and that bubble burst mid summer after my senior year of high school. Paul Savage said he wanted to recruit a breaststroker out of Montreal and needed the housing portion of my scholarship money. He said I could live at home since I lived so close. I owed Savage a lot since he let me swim there for free and get excellent coaching, but I couldn’t stand the thought of living one more day than I had to with my dad. I needed that money to move out. Savage and my dad were good friends and I always wondered if my dad had arranged for me to lose that part of the scholarship money so I would be forced to live at home.
I was pretty dejected that summer and told many of my friends of my frustration. One of my swimming buddies, Karen James, listened and remembered my anguish and changed my life. She was traveling in Scotland and while there ran into, Bob Stoddart, another swimmer from Canada who swam for BYU. During their conversation my name came up as someone who wanted to consider other schools. Bob told her that BYU was looking for a backstroker and if I could swim backstroke BYU might be interested. Karen knew that backstroke was my best stroke and so something possessed her to write me a postcard and tell me to check into BYU.

That postcard arrived in August 1970 and school started in less than a month. The timing would be razor thin but I called the coach at BYU and he said if we moved fast then I could start school in the fall and have a scholarship including housing.

The rest of the story is for another time, but here were my thoughts as I revisited the swimming pool at SFU. The pool is now called the Margaret and Paul Savage Memorial Pool. The trophy case went into great detail of Coach Savage’s great record at SFU earning his first national championship in 1972. Had I gone to SFU, my times would have been star quality, and I would have been on a national championship team. But as a senior in high school I was definitely headed in the wrong direction. I had earned a police record, was drinking heavily, taking drugs, and partying. I had no moral compass and was completely sucked into worldly and wicked ways. Going to SFU would only have accelerated my downward spiral, but for a simple postcard my life would have crashed.

I stood in the natatorium and reflected on the thin chance that came together that brought me to BYU instead of SFU. One swimming buddy of mine at the time put the choice to me this way – “Go to SFU and find drugs and sex – Go to BYU and find God; your choice.” It hit me so hard at how close I came to missing the opportunity to attend BYU and find the life I’m now able to live. I’m so grateful that I was given the chance to make that choice and how stunning it would have been if I had messed up and remained in BC. I’m so blessed.
I attended the reunion and met with old friends, swapped stories, missed those that weren’t there, saw an old girl friend that looked 67, and generally had a good time. One girl told me that I had the most hair and smallest stomach of any other guy there. That, made the trip all worthwhile. I looked around and saw for the most part happy people, but so many were missing because of their injured lives and they were a tad embarrassed about multiple divorces, alcohol addictions, wayward kids, or crappy jobs. How easy it would have been to end up with a tangled life, but because of a simple postcard followed by a few good decisions I have been blessed with a full and rich life beyond measure. The trip really helped me appreciate good opportunities and better decisions.