Oct 30, 2007

Blog Withdrawals

I'm ba-ack! Wow, it's been several weeks, hasn't it?

So many (ok, like 3) people have asked me when the heck I'm going to blog again. Yes, I admit, it's been awhile.

Not to say that nothing's been happening, quite the opposite. A LOT has been happening, and I was hoping things would slow down enough for me to take a breath and talk about it, but life doesn't seem to be slowing down, so here it goes.

First of all, Alex is doing much better that I'm aware of. He's out of the hospital finally, but I have yet to talk to him. I thank you for your prayers, and I'm sure he does as well.

Second of all, school is going very well, I get A's on all my homework, and B's on all my tests. I'm even learning some things occasionally.

Third of all, and maybe biggest news, I have a new job. But Austin, I thought you just got a new job like a month ago, you say. Yes, but now I have another one. MarketPartner and I agreed that it wasn't a place for me, with my faults being honesty and integrity, and their faults being lack thereof. If anyone wants to know the details, I'll fill you in, but it basically stems from them telling me I wasn't meeting expectations, or doing my assigned tasks, and I told them they never told me what my expectations were, or how to do my assigned tasks, (which I had told them multiple times in the past) as well as their promising to pay commissions next week, I mean next month, I mean next month, and the fact that every customer I spoke with was very unhappy with their service (or lack thereof), and so I felt it was time to leave. So they fired me before I could quit.
Anyway, I spoke to Pat, my old boss from QualitySmith, who said there's still a spot for me at Prosper, so I'm filling that spot for one week now.
I'd like to thank my wonderful and patient and amazing wife Tracie for putting up with me, and promise I will always strive to be employed and to do my best there, even if this is my 6th job this year. Sheesh. It's a wonder ANYONE puts up with me. But, I'm in school, trying to better my situation by eventually getting a job I will (dare I say it?) enjoy (I dared). I love you, Tracie, and am very grateful I married you. More and more grateful each day.
At Prosper, we help people (you guessed it) prosper. We do this with different web training, workshops, trainers, etc. in such fields as Real Estate, Stock Market, E-Commerce, Entrepreneurship, and Personal Finance/Getting out of Debt. I call people and see if they'd like a free trial of our website. And yes, it's exactly as fun as it sounds, but it's a job, and I have a few of my QualitySmith friends there.

Utah Beckstroms:

I'd like to welcome my Uncle Jim and Aunt Jan and cousins Nikita, Max, Ivan and Andre to the beehive state, recently moved from Texas to Spanish Fork. Tracie and I had a wonderful Sunday dinner with them on (you guessed it, if you didn't that's sad) Sunday.
We also saw Justin and Catherine Spagnolo down from Idaho for a baby shower (theirs) the week before. They look wonderful, it was fantastic to visit with my cousin/best friend/former mission companion/guru/thorn in my side and his lovely wife, and we're all looking forward to joining with you to welcome Lily Ora Spagnolo to Earth, and say with all of us, I hope she looks like Catherine.

Holy Halloween parties, Batman!

Even though we're still picked last when we try out for little league, Tracie and I were invited to 3 halloween parties! One was a semi-intimate murder mystery dinner, where we were dressed as classical monsters, with a very tongue in cheek tone to it. I was the mummy of King Aldrinktotat, Tracie was the flamboyant clairvoyant Madame Aretha Garlique, who turned out to, not only be a vampire, but also a cross-dresser who was in actuality the supposed murder victim. Confused? So were we, and we were AT the dang party! But it was a lot of fun, and we got to see several close friends we hardly ever see anymore.
Party #2 was in Salt Lake, one of Tracie's old friends and her boyfriend held a halloween extravaganza, we went as the gods Apollo and Aphrodite (the costumes were Roman God and Greek Goddess, though people asked me if I was 1) Marc Antony, 2) Caesar, 3) a Princess, 4) Hephaestus (ok, no one asked me that) but we decided (ok, I decided) I couldn't be Mars/Ares because I didn't have a helmet/sword/shield, and I didn't want to be Hephaestus, because he was ugly, and let's face it, even I'm not that good of an actor, and there's only so much makeup you can wear, but my natural cuteness burns through.) The party was a lot of fun, we painted pumpkins, had a costume contest, a halloween movie quiz, karaoke, and dance party. Tracie won the halloween movie quiz (14 out of 15! Go Tracie!) and got a nice fleece blanket, I won third place for costumes, mostly because part of the judging was on our walk on the catwalk, and though I didn't shake my little tush on the catwalk, I was entertaining enough to merit third. With that, we won Simpson's clue, with Homer as Colonel Mustard etc, the murder weapons being things like a slingshot and poisoned donut, and the rooms places like the Kwik-E-Mart and Moe's Tavern. We also won 3rd place for best couple, a bit dubious as there were a total of 3 matching couples, but we still got our pictures taken by a professional. But the BIG news of the night (besides the fact that you all surmised, I went home with the prettiest girl at the party) is Tracie sang on the Karaoke in front of strangers! (And did a KILLER job, I might add (not only might I; I DO!) She sang that Christina Agliera song I turn to you, people commented to me several times through the song what a good singer she is. I'm very proud of her, even though she was shaking noticeably after, I'm so proud she still did it in effort to overcome her stagefright.
Party the Third: This was the annual McNeil family Halloween party, this year blessed by the presence of 2 ninja turtles, Rambo, Spiderman, a fisherman, and maybe the cutest pumpkin ever. The highlight was either Tyler's AWESOME chili, or the pie trick played by Trent. I'd expound, but it's one of those you had to be there to appreciate it, and Tracie's getting after me for writing so much, and I still have quite a bit more to write. Hey, you asked for it! Also, I've never played such a dangerous or interesting game of Red Rover, not to mention with the age group I did.

Goals update:

Well, those of you paying attention, I've obviously shirked a bit on my blogging goal, but just because I'm not perfect doesn't mean I'm giving up. As this novel of a blog shows. My losing weight goal is similar, I'm still on my one helping only kick (except on Sunday family dinner, and on Monday because that chili was so good) and one sweet or less a day. People are commenting that I look thinner, but that jerk Mr. Scale keeps lying and saying I weigh the same, which is still a lot better than saying I'm gaining weight. If he said that, I'd have to have words with him and kill him.

Speaking of dying, last week, my car died. It's ok, we resurrected it (for now). I was headed to work at my new job, and it wouldn't start, so last week I took the bus and rode my bike to work. But Tracie's car gave Ella a jump, and now she's as good as she was before (which isn't any good) but at least she's moving.

Finally, (the word you've been waiting for! He's almost done!) one of my old friends from my college days in Virginia told me about this website, NaNoWriMo.com, which means National November Writer's Month, where you commit to write every day in November, which should help motivate me to write, which I've been wanting to do for quite awhile now. (Not so much the November part, just the writing part.)

I'll let you know how it goes with next week's entry!

Oct 10, 2007

Did You Ever Wonder…

Can you cry under water?

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

Since bread is square, then why is sandwich meat round?

Why do you have to "put your two cents in"...but it's only a "penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

What did cured ham actually have?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up like every two hours?

Why are you IN a movie, but you are ON TV?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

How come we choose from just two people for President and fifty for Miss America?

Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.


Well, it’s Wednesday, and I’ve set a goal to blog at least every Wednesday.

So here I am. Am I done? No, we just started, silly. Oh. All is right. Where should we start? I don’t know, make something up. This week I taught bears the finer points of Absurdist Theater. They took to it surprisingly naturally. Now, instead of saying “they took to it like a duck takes to water,” I’m going to say “they took to it like a sleuth of bears takes to The Bald Soprano.”

Ok, not really. I just wanted to say something weird because I don’t know how else to introduce this. I might as well just do it. On Monday, my brother Alex was hit by a car. Even saying it now makes it sound like an absurd joke that’s not real and not funny. He seems to be all right, that is, he’s alive with a broken leg, a cracked palate, a bitten through lip and a lacerated liver. This happened in Texas, so I haven’t been able to see him. When my mother first told me, I was so stunned and shocked I couldn’t react. A few hours later, I bawled like an abandoned baby. It is a miracle he’s alive, and that all he needed operated on was his leg. As my mother said, “Our family has been blessed with many miracles, I wish we didn’t need them, but I’m grateful we get them when we do need them.” He was walking to Target, apparently crossing the street where he shouldn’t have, and was hit. His shoes were found 50 yards away, one on the road, one in a tree. I am so grateful my brother is ok, and not one of those shoes. I apologize if I seem callous or trying to make a joke, but it’s how I deal with things. I love him so very much and wish with all that I have that I could be there. Something he said that makes me laugh and cry is: “This has been a bad day.” But I’m so grateful he’s all right. He also asked my mom if he was going to get cancer now, as he’s in the hospital and getting surgery on his leg. I’m told he’s been very brave this whole time, able to tell the EMTs who he is and how to contact his parents, and been very strong in the hospital. None of that surprises me. Alex is an amazing person. Once again, I thank Heavenly Father for protecting Alex, because we need him in this world.

Any other news seems trite at this point, so I’ll just be very general and say work is ok, Tracie’s started her job, school is good, and I look forward to seeing my family, especially my brother at Thanksgiving.

Oct 3, 2007

More Crazy (But True!) Country Western Titles

I Don’t Know Whether To Kill Myself Or Go Bowling

I Changed Her Oil, She Changed My Life

I Fell In A Pile Of You And Got Love All Over Me

I Still Miss You Baby, But My Aim’s Gettin’ Better

I’ll Marry You Tomorrow, But Let’s Honeymoon Tonight

I’m So Miserable Without You, It’s Like Having You Here

You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly

You Done Tore Out My Heart And Stomped That Sucker Flat

She Got The Gold Mine And I Got The Shaft
Please Bypass This Heart

Updates, Goals and Anniversaries

Update! Update Everybody! Read all about me!

Well, let’s see. I’ve been at my new job almost a month, so let’s talk about that. I really like working at MarketPartner. The people are friendly; the job is fun with a lot of positive stress. The pay is good, and it mixes high stress time with relaxing down time, which I am obviously on right now. What I don’t like about it? Well, it’s still in American Fork, and they still haven’t moved us to the higher pay tier with bonuses yet. But, I digress. I like it well enough for a job, and it has enough promise to stick around, and it’s turning out to be a fine successor to my favorite job which was at QualitySmith. I have also chosen to NOT go work at Prosper for my old boss Pat at this time. I really love working for him, and it is in Orem, but the pay is less than here, I’d be doing more telemarketing, and the potential for advancement is much greater here at MarketPartner.

Next? Well, for those who don’t know, Tracie and I have been called as (drum roll, please) Ward Librarians! And the crowd goes, “huh?” We like it, it’s fun, easy, and better than our first calling as a married couple, but we’re hoping to be teaching again soon, corrupting the young minds of the church.

School is going very well; I think I’m getting A’s in both of my classes. In my Becoming a Master Student course, we just learned about goal setting and planning, and I’m pleased to say I took it to heart (how long it will last, I don’t know, but I’ve set a goal that it will last at least until next April) and am setting realistic SPECIFIC goals with specific plans. For example, I’ve been telling myself I need to lose weight for I don’t know how long, but I finally set some ground rules like 1 sweet limit per day, 1 helping at dinner, and exercise at least 3 times a week, with a goal to lose 5 pounds a month until new years, when the goal shifts to KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF. I think I may have something revolutionary here, instead of a new years’ resolution, it’s a resolution to get a certain weight BEFORE new years’. Math is similar to work, I’ll go from very difficult what the heck are they talking about one day, to this is so easy I learned this as a freshman in kindergarten the next day. I.e.: Binomial Theorem, followed by how to find the range, mode & median in a set of numbers. I’m not complaining, and I like all of my teachers, which hasn’t happened since I was in college in Virginia, 7 years ago.

Speaking of years ago, 6 years ago TODAY I went into the MTC to begin my mission to wonderful (and f-f-freezing) Minnesota and Wisconsin. I have some regrets in my life, but the two things I will NEVER regret is going on a mission and (of course) marrying Tracie. In fact, I praise God that I made the choice to do both, and, it being 6 years since one and 3 years since the latter, (Tracie and I started hanging out in October, 3 years ago) I am more grateful every day, and still see blessings every day from both decisions.

Also, next month will mark 10 years since I was diagnosed with cancer. That’s one thing I probably could have done without, but it IS a milestone to look back at who I’ve become, and what I’ve accomplished, whether because I had cancer or in spite of cancer, I am one heck of an awesome guy with one heck of a limp.

On a different but related note, I finally have a handicap placard again, so it’s hello sweet parking spots again. I remember once on my mission, when my companion and I were first driving together, I told him we could park in handicapped, and he exclaimed (without thinking) “Wow, you’re so lucky!” Yeah. I am. You can be lucky too! Just come here and I’ll break off one of your femurs! No, no. I just hit him upside the head a little. His femurs are fine.

That’s all I can think of now at any rate, I’ll post again, someday. (Like when my conscience gets the best of me. Darn blog! If I knew my conscience was going to get after me for not posting, I’d never had started it in the first place.)