Saturday, December 29, 2012

Goal #2122: I Want to Hear my Father Tell me that He's Proud of Me

I feel like I’ve always been a disappointment to my dad. I was the first son who never joined the military. The military was a big deal for dad. He was an army man and in the National Guards till the day he died at age 89. He was an honor guard for more than 1,000 vet funerals. I watched his face when the brother just above me received his commission as a commissioned officer. I have never seen my father show so much pride as he was that night.

I disappointed Dad when I joined the LDS faith and decided to serve a 2 year mission rather than go into the military. He thought I was using the mission to avoid serving in the Viet Nam war.

When I went to college he couldn’t understand why I needed to spend all that time and money getting a college education. He told me I’d be much better off finding a job with a company that would give me a good pension plan. When I went on for a Master’s degree, he was quite upset with me. He told me that I was afraid to work in the real world and I was neglecting my family.

My path in life was never the path he had hoped I would follow. He wanted me to be like he was and I could never do that. I just couldn’t live the life he had planned for me and be happy.

When Dad was about 85 years old, we were driving to the airport so I could catch a plane back home. All the way to the airport he kept asking about my brothers and sisters and how they were doing. After about half an hour of this, he finally said, “You know Steve, I’m really proud of you. You’ve done well with your life and you will have a good retirement. You’ve taken good care of your family. You’ve made me proud.”  I could hardly believe that I was actually hearing this from my own father. I had given up on that dream long ago. I waited a long time to hear him say those words but the wait was was worth it. Dad died a few years after that.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Goal # 39: Do Something that Truly Tests My Limits

I'm not sure if it's a guy thing or if everyone gets this feeling, but I have always wanted to see what the limit of my endurance is. I'm not sure I'm willing to go out and see how close I can come to death just to see what I can endure, but I have always wanted to see if I can do the really hard stuff.

Some of the things I've done that were hard, at least for me, were: 
  • In 1971 and again in 1972 I ran a 50 mile marathon at Laguna Beach, California. In the first marathon I took 14th place and ran it in 12 hours and 46 minutes. The second year I took 5th place with a finish time of 8 hours and 23 minutes. 
  • I spent 2 years serving as a missionary in a country that I was totally unaccustomed to and that was ruled by a dictator who declared Marshall Law which lasted the entire 2 years I lived there. 
  • Raise 4 children
  • Be a scout master
  • Extended fasting
  • Watch a little child die
  • See someone starve to death
  • Allow myself to be stung by several bees at once to build up immunity to the swelling that comes from bee stings
I think the lesson I learned from each of the experiences mentioned above is that we can survive, and in fact, thrive, doing things that we never thought we could do. That's a lesson that changes you. I have learned that I really can do things I never thought I could. It's not easy and in some cases, it's not fun. But in the end, you come out of it a changed person and it's worth it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Goal #2021: Eat a McRib Sandwich from McDonalds

As a general rule, I usually refuse to eat anything from McDonalds, and I mean ANYTHING!  But I discovered something that even I can't resist. It's called the McRib sandwich. I just can’t say no to that morsel from heaven.

The BBQ sauce is sooooo good and the meat like substance is so tender. But of course, I generally like almost anything that is an "extruded" product. (Yes, yes, yes. I know. That extruded stuff is probably going to kill me but we all have to go sooner or later don't we.) I always have them go heavy on the onions.
I don’t know what part of the animal they make those “ribs” from (many of my friends doubt there is any real meat in these “rib” sandwiches). I’m not sure but I don’t think it comes from any animals on the endangered species list and I feelfairly confident that it doesn't come from a creature with more than 4 legs, but I won't bet on that. My mom always told me, "What you don't know won't hurt you," and that seems like pretty good advice in this case. But whatever they make that rib like meat substance from, it’s awfully good tasting stuff. Keep'em coming McDs!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Goal #2022: Stop and Give a Sincere, Heartfelt "Good Morning" Salutation to a Nun

I really like Nuns. I’m serious. Growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was The Flying Nun. To this day Sally Fields can do no wrong in my book because in my mind, she was a very nice (albeit a bit odd with all that flying and stuff) nun for all of my childhood.

All of the nuns I’ve ever known were so pleasant and kind. But then again, I never had to go to a Catholic school and have a nun be my teacher. But for me, my past experiences with nuns has been positive. Have you ever noticed that Nuns smile a lot? They really do. They genuinely seem to be very happy people. They smile a lot and they have always been quite kind to me. Even when I was a missionary and stopped to talk to them, they were very polite and tolerant of my differing religious views. Of course, I made it a point never to debate religion with a Nun. It always seemed to be in poor taste to do such a thing.

The way I see it, anyone who makes a promise to dedicate her entire life to Christ and marries herself to him, not getting any of the advantages of a real and tangible husband, has got to be a pretty remarkable woman. The very least I can do when I see them is to be sincerely cordial and give them a heartfelt and meaningful salutation with hopes for a very pleasant day. They deserve that and so much more.   

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Goal # 2123: Take and Pass the Test to Become a Untited States Citizen

ALRIGHT!!!! I am a citizen of the United States!!! Actually, I was born one, but if I hadn’t been one, I would be now because I just passed the test to become a United States citizen. The test is made up of 96 questions. I got a score of 95% correct. I messed up on a couple questions about how long terms are in the senate and in the house and 2 other questions that I just didn't know the answers to. But 91 out of 95 questions correct is a pretty good score. I guess I know my American history pretty good. Of course, it helps that I got my undergraduate degree in history.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Goal #203: Find Something Unique and Bizzare in the Mountains

When my brother Tom and I were hiking up to the summit of San Jacinto, by chance we found the remains of a dead mountain climber. Her name was Brittany. How do we know that?  Well, here’s the rest of the story.

As Tom and I climbed down into a crevice to get out of the wind, we found a small wooden box, measuring about 6 inches long by 4 inches wide by 3 inches deep. On the top of the box was inscribed a short message. It said, “Here rests the remains of a dead mountain climber. Please do not disturb.” On the back of the box was the name Brittany. No last name.

From what we can piece together, it appears that Brittany was an avid climber and outdoor lover. We have no clue what she died of but it appears that family or friends cremated her body and brought a portion of her ashes to the summit of San Jacinto Mountain where she can enjoy a new sunrise each and every day. I thought it was a wonderful tribute for someone who surely must have loved being in such a glorious place.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Goal #2078: Survive a Serious Fire Experience

I was working in Oregon on a fruit farm when this happened. My boss Mike and I were trying to get the tractor engine to start but we weren’t having much luck. Mike wanted to try an old farm trick for starting hard to start engines and had me pour gasoline down the carburetor while he turned the ignition key. Usually it works out OK. . . usually.

After gassing the carburetor a couple times, the engine belched a bunch of gas back out all over me and caught me on fire. I did the old drop and role thing that I learned in school and Mike did what he could to put the fire out. I didn’t burn any of my flesh but I did singe all the hair off my arm and some from my head. My arm felt like it was being pricked by a thousand needles for the next half hour.

This upset Mike so badly that he told me to take the rest of the day off and he went home to pull himself together. Later that night, Mike told me that he went through the same experience with this father many years ago. However, it didn’t turn out so well for Mike’s dad. I wondered how he got all the burns on his body but I didn’t think it proper of me to ask him. Now I know. That’s why it upset Mike so badly. He was with his dad when he caught fire. 

Goal #1833: Kiss a Beautiful Woman in the Rain

Some things in life are done simply for the pure joy of doing it. They enhance the quality of our life experiences. They just make life better for having done it. This goal of kissing a beautiful woman in the rain is one of those great life enhancing experiences.

Kissing a beautiful woman in the rain is that experience you read about in romance novels and see in the movies. It just feels great. I did this with a dashingly beautiful woman. We did it on a boat in the Caribbean as we were going to the dock St. Martin’s Island. It began to rain, but it wasn’t such a heave rain as to soak us to the bone and ruin the mood. Getting a kiss from a beautiful woman is a great thing to do. But doing this in the rain with such a beautiful woman make the experience unforgetable. It’s wonderful.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Goal #1699: Help Catch a Criminal

I didn’t make an effort to go out and find this guy, he found us. My wife and I were young college kids living in a basement apartment at the time this happened. I was putting my daughter down for a nap on our bed and was reading her a story. As we were reading, the window suddenly burst open above my head. I looked up in time to see a pair of legs coming through the window. I got up and yelled to see who it was. I thought it was someone pulling a prank.

As soon as the guy heard my voice he pulled his legs up and took off running. I ran outside in time to see him running down the street. I got a good look at what he was wearing and called the cops. Minutes later, a cop came by and asked me to get in their car. They drove by another cop who had the guy in handcuffs standing next to his car. It seems this guy (Scott O.) was out of the county jail during the day on a work release program. A few months later I went to court to testify against him. He was just a young kid, about 22 years old. I expect he was breaking into houses in an effort to get money to buy drugs. They ended up adding another year to his jail sentence and taking him off the work release program.