Feb 28, 2010

February Day(s) of Reckoning Part II

Day 120

I am starting to loathe these columns already. They may be no fun to read but believe me, they are not fun to write either.

It has been two months since I have made my New Year's Resolutions (or has my friend Betsy calls them New Year's Goals) and looking back, in the long run, I am pretty happy for how things have turned out.

But when I look at the last 2 weeks I am only slightly happy. It has been a hard two weeks but at the same time, I feel like I have grown a bit (and luckily not in the weight category) especially these last 2 weeks. At least there has been some improvement going on.

So how am I doing?


HUZZAH! I finished my 2nd draft! I felt a bit guilty for hardly doing anything the last time that I really focused and completed it. I have to admit that editing the ending was a lot of fun, there is a ton of stuff that I totally have forgotten about. It reads a lot stronger than my first draft. I still have a small portion to add, about maybe a thousand words or so.

2ND DRAFT: 93,993 words
1ST DRAFT: 65,285 words

Yeah, I would say that I have added quite a bit of content. Now for another set of edits and I should be completed!

And I have done a few more doodles of some cover art. That will be the goal for next time. I will post some rough drawings.


I feel like I have failed here. But with some fancy justification I can amend that. Unfortunately I never got 'Then We Came to the End' back from the library. And I am only about halfway through my replacement book 'Veeps'. So I have not completed a book this month. So the justification is that my goal for the year is 12 books which is at least once a month. I will finish 'Veeps' for sure but it may take some time to revisit the other book.

The book for March will be Warren Ellis's 'Crooked Little Vein' which I have not read yet. I read the first chapter awhile ago but never completed it.

Exercise and Eating Right
Ugh. I have not done as well as I would have liked. I skipped exercising a few times and I have not eaten great. But I still have exercised so at least I am getting something. And I have been a little more choosy when it comes to food. Still, this is better than normal.

With Spring right around the corner, I am feeling pretty ambitious. Which is good since I will need to exercise more to burn off all those Creme Eggs.

Feb 27, 2010

Matt at Work: My First Job

Day 119

My sister Jennifer and my cousin Jaimee recently have had some posts devoted to places they have worked. I have covered a few places (UPS, WestHost) but I have not covered them all.

The first place that I worked for was at Saddleman's. The same place that my mom worked for. She got me this summer job and I am glad she did. I didn't work in the same building as she did, I worked in the warehouse.

My main job was a baler. I would collect all the cardboard boxes and collapse them and put them in this large cardboard baler machine and crush them. I would also help out around the warehouse in cleaning and helping those around me with assorted jobs. But cardboard was my main task. Which is funny since you had to be over 18 to run that machine and I was only 15. So every time someone would come over I had to leave the bailer and do something else. But it was a pretty fun job. I got to work closely with my cousin Wyatt before he left on his mission. I worked with a great set of people and my boss Rick was the best.

I would run this large machine. I would throw cardboard into it and it would spit out these large bales that I would tie off and collect.
I remember there was a guy (I think his name was Rick or John) that would come around and buy our seconds. He was a very nice man but he wore an extraordinary amount of cologne. You could smell him a mile away. I remember one time I could smell the cologne and I blurted out "Rick/John must be turning the corner on State Street (which was a few blocks away) cause I can smell him." I turned around and he was right behind me. He didn't say a word to me and I am sure he heard me. I felt pretty bad.

During our first break we would all hop into Wyatt's jeep and hit 7/11 for some donuts or Hardee's for food. They must have left me behind (accidently) about ten times. They would always return and see me working away and then drive off suddenly. They would return to 7/11 to grab me something. At least I got free food!

I split my pants one day. Right down the butt from belt line to crotch. And I had no idea and no one was brave enough to tell me. Except for the receptionist Karen but Rick ordered her not to tell me. All day they would say the strangest things to me about blue moons. And of course that day they definitely took me to 7/11.

Karen was getting married and Rick thought it would be funny to buy her some skimpy lingerie. Everyone knew about it except for me and her. We took her to lunch and at lunch he announces "We have a special gift for you that Matt here thinks will be perfect for you. He thinks you should go try it on for him!" I looked around and saw everyone giggling. She opened the gift and quickly closed it embarrassingly. Stupid me asked what it was and she showed me. I about died. I never heard the end of this at work. Until she took me out to lunch (just me) and we went and exchanged it for something else. We told everyone back at work that I picked out something else. Wyatt and Will were so jealous, they all had a crush on her.

We took a trip to another one of our warehouses in Clearfield. We all piled into Rick's Bonneville and cruised down. It was so cramped and uncomfortable. On the way home we were passed by this station wagon. In the back seat was this kid with his underwear on his head. We could also see his bare knees so we knew that the pair on his head was supposed to be elsewhere.

Rick would oftentimes make these stupid announcements over the PA system. He would tell jokes and sing. Much to all of our embarrassment.

It was a great place to work. Rick was good to me even though I was pretty clumsy and dumb at times. He would take us all out to lunch at least weekly. It made putting up with all the teasing worth it.

Feb 26, 2010

List-Mania: T-Shirts

Day 118

If I had the money I would be buy a T-shirt once a week. But they would have to be special T-shirts that are unique and funny to me.

So here are my top 5 T-shirts that I want to own one day and presented in random order.

Annyong! The only drawback of this shirt would be having to explain it.

Anyone know the company Weyland Yutani?

Now everyone knows how old I am.

I don't have many yellow shirts. How awesome is this one?

Yes, that is Banshee there flying in in the middle.

Feb 25, 2010

Movie Night!

Day 117

Watching movies with my family and friends must be some of my favorite memories because I certainly remember them crystal clear. So here are a collection of some of my favorite memories while watching movies.

My first movie experience was in 1977 with Star Wars. My dad took my sister to it first and came home and took me when they went a second time. I don't remember much about it but from what my dad said, I couldn't take my eyes off it.

Now when the sequel The Empire Strikes Back came out that was another story. I was so excited to see it. I sat in my chair taking it all in until the Wampa hit. And suddenly I was on my dad's lap.

Raiders of the Lost Ark was the next one I saw in the theatres and I am glad that my parents took me. I think parents nowadays try to hard to shield their kids too much from enjoying things. In order for you to enjoy the good, you have to experience the bad. Raiders was a dark film but even though I was young, I enjoyed it and it didn't make me into a serial killer or anything. The one thing that I remember about going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark was my dad. My sister and I were sitting together apart from my parents. Suddenly during the film my dad bolts up and leaves the theatre. About ten minutes later he came back but sat by me and my sister. At first I thought he was mad at mom for something but it turned out that he thought he had peed his pants. He was holding his Coke between his legs and the moisture collected from all the ice melting and he thought he had an accident. He didn't obviously but was so embarrassed that he sat by us instead of mom.

That was not the end to embarrassing moments in the movie theatre. My dad and I decided to see Arachnophobia (even though we both HATE spiders). We saw it at a dollar theatre and there was only a few of us in there. During the movie, I thought it would be funny to reach around and flick my dad's ear. It was a great idea, I flicked his ear and popcorn went a flying! I thought my dad was going to kill me.

Back in the day, you could rent a VCR and some movies from the local Mac's store (which is like a 7/11) and my dad and I decided to get Aliens. That has got to be one of my all-time favorite movies and it left me breathless. At the end of the movie my dad was turning off the TV and he put his hand up his shirt. He turned to me and said, "That was a pretty intense movie eh?" And then suddenly he thrusted his hand out from his shirt like a chestburster! I about hit the roof. And my dad wonders why I like to scare him all the time! I got it from him.

You wanna know what awkward is? Try watching Predator 2 with your mom. She loved the first one but that second one had some scenes that no kid (no matter how old they are) should watch with his parents.

That was a cool thing about my mom, she liked action movies. You know what one of her favorites is? She called me one day and said she wanted to go see Face Off that weekend. My mom was way into it, partly because of John Travolta. Luckily for me, there wasn't any Predator 2-type scenes.

My sister on the other hand is very "hands on" when you watch movies with her. My arm was bruised for days after watching Con Air with her. Every explosion and gunshot, my arm was swatted by my sister. She shouldn't watch intense movies like that. Con Air was not even that good!

I took Kristy to go see Jurassic Park II. During the scene where all the raptors were chasing the people, one popped out from under the fence. I knew it was coming and everyone screamed when it happened. Well, their scream scared the snot out of me. So right after the audience screamed, I screamed. The girls in front of me turned there heads back to look at me and I pointed to Kristy sheepishly.

Kristy's brother-in-law Aaron and I went and saw The Blair Witch Project together. We must have been hyped to see it because we got scared even before the movie started. We were in the theatre just chatting when suddenly this girl pops her head in between us and asks us for the time. Aaron jumped back and that made me jump back even further! The girl laughed at us, I am positive that she did it to us on purpose.

But I think my all-time favorite movie experience was with my friend Lared. Joel and I took him to see The Phantom Menace. Now Lared has always been one of my most expressive friends and he was a Star Wars fan and he was really hyped up. Toward the end, when Darth Maul killed Qui-Gon it really hit the fan. Out of nowhere we heard this hair-raising "NOOOOOOOOO!" followed up with this heart-wrenching "ARRRGHHHH!" It was Lared. Joel and I sat back in our seats trying to contain our laughter.

I cannot wait for Logan and I to watch more movies together. From past experiences I should be in for a good time.

Feb 24, 2010

Fight or Flight?

Day 116

Gosh I just love watching Celebrity Fit Club. I can always count on being entertained. This week's episode talked about conquering fear. So one of the obstacles the teams had to do was to escape a prison. They were all chained together and they had to beat down and cement wall, climb in a tunnel up a hill that was loaded with cement blocks and then the last part would FREAK ME OUT! They got out of the chains and they had to climb this tower. Okay heights and I are not friends but that was not the worst part. They had two attack dogs chase them and attack them. So you had to get a teammate up on top of this tower and they would send out a rope ladder. And you had to get your butt up there before the dogs came. But you could also run into this cage if you could not make it up the ladder in time. K-Fed (one of my favorite contestants) saw the dogs and couldn't get up the ladder so he bolted to the cage. The funny part was that he made it into the cage but the dogs got in too and mauled him. The dogs did have muzzles on them but still. Dogs and I are not friends at all. The best part is watching the reactions. I about coughed up my candy bar when I saw Sebastian do this:

You totally need to read VH1's blog about this show.

Later in the episode Harvey took Bobby Brown and made him conquer his fear of heights. It was pretty awesome.

So the question is fight or flight? Would you fight the dogs off as much as you could to make it up the tower or would you run? I posed this question to my wife Kristy and I should have known what she would have said about me.

And I thought I better blog about it before Kristy has a chance to do it. A few years ago I was in our den on the computer. I had just gotten up and was going to leave the room when Kristy skipped in. I didn't hear or see her. She yelled out something (it was probably "hi" or something like that) and it scared the blue hell out of me!

So... fight?

or flight?

I guess my gut reaction is to fight. Because I leaned back away from her and punched her in the head with my left fist. Now it wasn't hard at all, it was like I was pushing her away with my fist in slow motion. She had me cornered, I had no where to go! The funny thing is that my brain told me it was Kristy and I knew it was her but my brain also said "PUNCH HER!" Like I said, she was barely hurt, I was more scared than anything else and I was trying to get away.

So be aware. I will fight when confronted.

Feb 23, 2010

School Daze: Dead Man Walking

Day 115

I was almost killed while attending Killarney Junior High school. I guess that wouldn't have been so bad. As far as I was concerned, I was already in hell.

But seriously, I thought I was dead man.

I hardly had any friends at Killarney and the few friends that I had were not the greatest either. I was lucky enough to help a kid in my grade with some work and he was one of the kewl kids and that offered some protection but I was still picked on. Every day was hell. I didn't know if I was one of the kewl kids and left alone or if I was to be subjected to harassment and brutality. And one day I got both.

The day started normal enough. I was teased but it was not too bad, in fact it was one of the good days. Towards the end of the school day I was invited to hang out with the kewl kids. So I thought my day was made. I was safe.

Then one of the other kewl kids named Bradley said he had something important for me. He said that one of the kewler kids named Mark needed to pass a note to his girlfriend Sylvia. Brad said he couldn't do it after school so he gave me the note and asked me to do it. And I happily (and stupidly) took the note wanting to prove that I can be counted on. After school I raced to the other side of the school and looked for Sylvia. I found her and handed her the note saying it was from Mark and I fled from the scene. And I was thrilled. This should now prove that I can be a kewl kid.

I never read the note and perhaps I should have. But the note apparently was not a nice one. Sylvia was horrified and told Mark. Mark was super angry and told everyone that he will kill the kid that gave her the note. Yup, that was me. I lived in fear for the next five days. And then we had an assembly and she came in with Mark. I thought this was it. I am a dead man.

She looked at me and I smiled nicely back at her. I am positive that she knew that it was me that gave her that note. But for some reason she never told Mark. I knew she didn't because Mark was a little psycho and no matter what she said he would have killed me. So Mark never found out and Brad's evil plan never came to fruition. But I was afraid for my life for the rest of the year until I met Lori. And suddenly I was safe again. At least for the time being.

Feb 22, 2010

From the Soap Box: Smacking Lips

Day 114

I am not feeling so hot today. I began to feel a bit ill Saturday night and yesterday I was feeling pretty horrible. I am much better today but I am a little cranky and weak.

So this would be a perfect time to do another column of my pet peeves.

For some reason this one really can set me off. Especially when I am in an already cranky mood. It may seem silly but it drives me nuts.

I absolutely hate it when people smack their lips and chew with their mouth open! Seriously people! I don't want to hear you eat and I certainly do not want to see what you are eating!

Now don't get me wrong. I love food and I love to eat. In fact I took one of those stupid Facebook tests and found out that my worst sin is Gluttony. So I love to eat. But at least while I am pigging out that I have some sort of respect. I don't smack my lips like a cow, I don't salivate like a dog for a bone. And I don't eat like a dog either. Every time I hear your lips smack together makes me want to smack you. Have some self respect and eat politely, like Spaghetti Cat.

I love to eat out with people. There is nothing like a great meal to bring people together and have a good time. But acting like a pig while eating zaps all the fun out of it. And it can do more damage than you think. I used to know a girl named Mabel and she would eat with her mouth open. It was like watching a cement truck or washing machine, she would swirl the food in her mouth before she would swallow it. I only saw her eating ONCE but that was enough for me. Now every time I hear the name Mabel I think of her. That name is dead to me forever!

Enjoy your food but keep it to yourself!

Feb 21, 2010

Sunday Confessional: Cadbury Creme Eggs

Day 113

One of the reasons I love spring and Easter is the candy. Some people have a sweet tooth. I have a whole set of sweet tooths. And my favorite Easter candy is the Cadbury Creme Egg.

I could eat a whole box of them. I have eaten a box of them at once. If I could eat one every day, I would. But for a time I was happy that I could eat them all throughout the Easter season. And sometimes I would be lucky to find them around Valentine's Day.

And then I made a startling discovery. And I will share this horrible fact to my North American friends who love this delicious candy. And I have photographic proof!

Did you know that in England you can have a Cadbury Creme Egg anytime? During the off-season they have a candy bar named Cadbury Twisted. Essentially it is a creme egg only in candy bar form and not in the shape of an egg.

What the crap?! Those lucky Brits can have a Cadbury Creme Egg anytime! They are so lucky. C'mon, United States! Get with the program!

And not only that. The McDonalds in England also come out with a Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurrie! OH MY GOODNESS! I have heard rumors that you can get those in Canada too.

I think I will need to visit England sometime soon. I love that gooey stuff!

Feb 20, 2010

Pic of the Week: Domingo, Art and I

Day 112

One of my dreams when I get wealthy (ha!) would be to collect art. I would of course get art submissions of my favorite comic book artists but I also would nicely frame some high quality replica paintings.

A man that I met while serving my LDS mission in New York name Domingo gave me a gift that I absolutely treasure. He was an artist and when I mentioned that I loved art he gave me this book called A Basic History of Art and it meant a lot to me. I kept this book throughout my mission and would refer to it many times. Sadly, and this is definitely my fault, I lost contact with Domingo and I regret that I was not a better friend to him. He did make an impact in my life. He made me appreciate art in all its forms and every time I read this textbook, I think of his friendship and I value the little time that I was able to spend with him.

When people find out that I like art they usually will ask me what my favorite painting is. I have a few that I would love to have a good copy of but there is one that definitely sticks out in my mind. Maybe sometime this week I will do a List-Mania column about my top favorite paintings but I will reveal the one that I would love to have the most.

The Third of May, 1808 by Francisco Goya.

The painting commemorates the execution of a group of Madrid citizens. So much symbolism can be found in this painting. I find the man in yellow and white to be the most poignant. Having this figure painted so brightly almost convenes a sense that he is an innocent only wanting what is right for him and his countrymen. The look of loss on his face and with his arms stretched out portrays a feeling of helplessness and a willing to be a witness. With his arms and with what could be a stigma on his hand also could symbolize Christ. The faceless and dark soldiers have their own symbolism that to me resembles automatons only doing what they have been asked, no matter to what they may truly believe inside.

I could go on and on about this painting. The colors and figures certainly make me think and contemplate about my existence and how I contribute to society.

That is what I love about art. You take your own meaning out of it.

Feb 19, 2010

List-Mania: Warren Ellis

Day 111

I have been really trying to keep my geekiness in check but some days these columns just scream out geekiness. And who I am I to stop it completely? Especially when I am having a hard time wanting to blog.

So bear with me or just skip this column altogether because I am going to be talking about comic books and graphic novels. Today I am going to spotlight my favorite writer Warren Ellis.

I first discovered Ellis with his run on Stormwatch and immediately I was impressed. He took a team of just typical superheroes and turned them completely into real people with real situations. It is hard to describe why I like his writing but I will follow him where ever he goes and no matter what he writes. What impresses me is his imagination and how well he grasps human emotion. He can write some impressive hardcore science fiction but yet gives us characters with many layers and personality quirks. Like I said before, I will pick up anything he writes. He can write horror, science fiction, superhero stuff and crime books. And he can mix these genres together and get something extremely fascinating and exciting. I prefer his superhero work but I love pretty much everything he has done. I better stop before I really start gushing. Here are my Top 5 favorite works by Warren Ellis. I have listed the product description along with my comments.

5) NextWave
RRRAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH! Action! Excitement! Explosions! The Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, or H.A.T.E. (a subsidiary of the Beyond Corporation) put NEXTWAVE together to fight Bizarre Weapons of Mass Destruction. When NEXTWAVE discovers that H.A.T.E. and Beyond are terrorist cells themselves, and that the BWMDs were intended to kill them, they are less than pleased. In fact, they are rather angry. So they make things explode. Lots of things. And that's only the beginning! Starring Monica Rambeau (formerly Captain Marvel and Photon), Aaron Stack (Machine Man), Tabitha Smith (X-Force's Meltdown), monster-hunter Elsa Bloodstone, and The Captain! If you like anything, you will LOVE NEXTWAVE! BOOM!
I love this book because he takes the Marvel Universe (and superhero stuff in general) and makes fun of it. Ellis's dark humor at its best.

4) Fell
Detective Richard Fell is transferred over the bridge from the big city to Snowtown, a feral district whose police investigations department numbers three and a half people (one detective has no legs). Dumped in this collapsing urban trashzone, Richard Fell is starting all over again. In a place where nothing seems to make any sense, Fell clings to the one thing he knows to be true: every body's hiding something.
I love this book because it is not for the squeamish. Ellis takes his stories from real events in life and that makes it all the more creepy. Like the pack of dogs in Detroit to the man that keeps his daughter sick on purpose to the horrifying tradition of hanging baby corpses in your house to ward off evil spirits. Fascinating stuff!

3) Scars
How much of a monster do you have to become to hunt monsters? John Cain has been working Homicide long enough to get hard to pretty much anything; even wrenching personal loss. But everyone has a limit, and today it's gotten too much to bear. Today, he gets assigned something that finally breaks through his defenses - a child killing that hits horribly close to home. Until today, he's been a good cop, a cop who goes by procedure because it's the best way to ensure that scum go to prison. Now, he makes the parents of the victim a chilling promise: he will find the killer using any means necessary. And the killer will not get away with it - no matter what it takes!
This is perhaps the only Ellis work that I have only read twice. This book felt too real and is based on a horror that we unfortunately see every day in the news. Horrifying and heart wrenching at the same time. This book stayed with me for a long time.

2) The Authority
From the ashes of StormWatch (a United Nations super team) comes a new team of individuals who will use their incredible powers and abilities to force the planet Earth to pay attention. Together they are the Authority and they will change the world.
The Authority grew naturally from being a United Nations super response team to a group of heroes that are proactive instead of reactive. They are not afraid to use their power to make the world a better place and they will not let anyone stand in the way. I love Ellis's run on this book because his ideas get bigger and bigger. It starts off with a super villain terrorist that tries to take over the world and they wipe him out. Then the Authority wards off an invasion from another dimension and lastly they fight off the original owners of the Earth.

1) Planetary
This first collection stars a team of super- powered mystery archaeologists who have uncovered evidence of super-human activity that spans the centuries. The team includes the ancient and enigmatic Elijah Snow, hot-tempered Jakita Wagner, and the insane techno-expert Drummer, as they deal with a World War II supercomputer that can access other universes, a spectral spirit of vengeance, and more!
I love this series because it blends everything that I love about Ellis's writing in one place. You get superheroes, crime, horror, action, it homages every genre of comics.

Honorable Mention: Orbiter
In this science fiction mystery tale, Venture, a space shuttle that disappeared ten years ago with its crew of seven, miraculously returns from outer space without warning or explanation. Occupied by only an insane pilot, the spacecraft shows evidence of a remarkable journey through the solar systems. Now, in order to solve the mystery of the shuttle's inexplicable journey and the fate of its six lost astronauts, three NASA specialists are called upon to investigate the alien instrumentation and materials that adorn Venture. But as secrets are revealed, it soon becomes apparent that the shuttle's journey not only took it outside our solar system but to a realm of existence that is unimaginable.
If you love science fiction, I cannot recommend this book enough. Beautiful, haunting and full of imagination. You just gotta read it!

Feb 18, 2010

An Evening with U2

Day 110

U2 recently announced that they are coming back to Salt Lake City on June 3rd at Rice Eccles Stadium and I am pretty excited. I was sad that they were not coming during the first leg of their 360 Tour and I didn't think they were going to come back. I missed the Vertigo Tour and I have regretted it.

I have enjoyed their new album No Line on the Horizon immensely and I am looking forward to catching this show live. I don't look forward to scraping up some cash to buy tickets. I don't care where I sit, I am fine in the cheap nosebleed seats, I am only there to hear the music.

This would mark the second time I have seen U2 live. Back on November 9, 2001 I took my sister Jennifer and her boyfriend Justin to the concert along with me and my wife. We first went to the mall by the Delta Center (now Energy Solutions Arena) and got some food and we walked over to see the concert. We were clear in the upper bowl but we still had a good view of the stage. We first stopped by a booth to get some shirts. I bought a shirt for Jennifer for her birthday and I got a cool baseball jersey shirt.

The opening act was pretty solid. It was No Doubt and they were pimping their new album Rock Steady but unfortunately the sound was not that great and we could barely hear Gwen sing. But as far as opening acts go it was a lot of fun.

And then the lights went out and U2 took the stage! Here is the setlist:

Beautiful Day
Until The End Of The World
New Year’s Day
I Will Follow
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of
Wild Honey
People Get Ready
Where The Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Bullet The Blue Sky
What’s Going On
New York
Walk On

I was so happy that they included my favorite song of their new album in New York. That was something that I will not forget. During the song they had two bright spotlights shine from the stage to the ceiling representing the World Trade Centers. And then they showed all the names of the people that tragically died on 9/11.

It was such a fantastic concert. One of the highlights included people watching. Jennifer and I had to laugh at the guy sitting to our right on the row in front of us. He just couldn't clap to the beat if his life depended on it!

I cannot wait to see U2 again and I am excited that it will be an outdoor concert.

Feb 17, 2010

Frodo's Parade

Day 109

I am so sorry Jill but I have to blog about this.

My first attempt at a blog was while I was working at WestHost. Blogging at that time was becoming big and our Marketing team was looking into possible blog software. So I installed a blog and began to write. And do you know what my first blog was about? My niece's poor dog Froddo.

MAY 17TH 2004
I wish I had a video camera. Wait, I do have one but I so wish I brought it and was taping this weekend. We were in Richmond for the annual Black and White Parade when I witnessed the absolute funniest thing I have ever seen.

My sister’s dog, Froddo was tied to one of those plastic folding lawn chairs. Right before the parade started, something must have startled him. He took off and dragged the chair with him. As he ran faster; the chair folded up and smacked him in the butt. That really must have freaked him out because he TOOK OFF! The faster he went, the faster the chair spanked him on the butt. It was a sight to see, I thought we would never see him again. He took off right in the middle of the road. I’m surprised that he was caught. The whole street was laughing and laughing. Poor dog. That was the highlight of my weekend though!

Again, I am sorry Jill. But you have to admit it. It was real funny!

Feb 16, 2010

When Kristy met Matt: The Big Blue Special

Day 108

When I first started this blog this was the first story that came to mind. It was also the first one that I wrote and I have been waiting and waiting to finally debut it.

Residents of Cache Valley may know what I am talking about but for those unfamiliar with the term, let me explain.

At the local A&W's there is a burger combo called the Big Blue Special. It is named after Big Blue, the mascot for our college (Utah State University) here in Logan. This burger is HUGE. It has three burger patties, tons of lettuce and sauce. It comes with a ton of curly fries and 2 large glasses of fresh A&W Root Beer.

This is where it all happened!

My friends in college would frequent this place to eat and we would all get the Big Blue Special and it was our challenge to eat it all. This also includes the free refill of Root Beer. This would leave us full, so very full. Oftentimes we would sit at A&W's for hours because we were so full. This was our Man Test. You cannot be a man if you could not finish this amount of food. My friends and I conquered it and we would be quite cocky about it, boasting to every one that we were men.

At the time I was dating my wife (obviously before she became my wife) and my friend Lared and I were over at her apartment visiting Kristy (my wife) and her roommates. Lared asked if Kristy would be worthy of me and said that she should partake of the Man Test at A&W's. Kristy is not one to back from a challenge. Her roommates overheard this and they wanted to prove that they could easily pass this "simple" Man Test so we set a date. Tomorrow we would all come over and pick up the girls and head to A&W's for lunch. It was me, Lared, Bear and one of his friends and Kristy's roommates Heather, Emily, Nicole and Stacey.

We told them the test and off we ate. My strategy is to take small sips of the first root beer and have it down the hatch BEFORE you finish your burger. The hardest part is getting all that root beer down. One of Kristy's roommates ordered her root beer with ice cream. I couldn't believe it. Was she just trying to act all macho? Lared and I contemplated that this was mere bravado, she didn't know what she was getting into.

Some of the guys were finishing up and there were just a few girls left over. One girl still had her fries while Heather (this cute little girl who ordered the Root Beer Float) was struggling to finish the rest of her drink. Surprisingly, many of the girls were able to finish the whole meal. I was very impressed that Kristy was able to finish it off, especially since carbonation was something she didn't consume at all. Heather was complaining that her tummy was really hurting so someone suggested that she lean forward on her hands and get on all fours to help take the pressure off her belly. She leaned forward and suddenly, without warning she barfed! It was all ice cream and root beer, it was like someone just tipped a glass. Everyone scattered laughing. I about died.

One of the girl's that worked at A&W's saw the mess on the table and thought she must have spilt her drink (I told you it was only a Root Beer Float) and she grabbed a thin paper towel and started sopping it up. That was too much, feeling like I was going to barf, I went to the counter and grabbed a paper and started to read it aloud. My friend Bear came over to me and put his arm around me and read it with me. Anything to get our minds off of her barfing and off of the girl wiping it up!

One of her roommates stayed right in her chair and continued to eat her fries during the whole barfing incident. She just left the table with her fries and kept pounding them down. Officially everyone finished and passed the Man Test. Heather should have been disqualified since she really didn't eat all her food but we decided she should pass since our rules were ambiguous when it came to if the food should remain in her tummy.

Every time I pass by the old A&W's, I think of this time. For my wedding present, Lared gave me a set of four large official A&W mugs to remember this occasion. When Kristy and I were married we used to visit Lared and his roomies to have Root Beer Float parties too. Those were some good times.

I still use those glasses but only at special times.

Feb 15, 2010

Matt at Work: The Affiliate Program

Day 107

One of my favorite things to work on at my last employment was the Affiliate Program. Let me first explain what an affiliate program is for those that are not familiar with them. An affiliate program rewards people with cash for advertising and promoting our company. Basically you can make money off of people by just simpling pimping a service.

When we first implemented this in our company it was exciting and it gave me a good idea. I decided to become an affiliate myself. My friend Zack would order comics through me and then would pay me when they came in. But then I learned that mailordercomics.com had an affiliate program so I signed up. Then Zack would order his comics through a banner on my website and I would get 11% of what he paid. Just by doing almost nothing! This turned out to be quite a lucrative program for me, I would have all my friends order through my link and I would get cash. During the best times I was making an extra $100-$180 just by having a banner on my website. It essentially paid for my expensive hobby. Sadly, mailordercomics.com closed down there affiliate program.

I had this banner on my website advertising mailordercomics.com.

The program that I worked on at my last employment was pretty much the same. Instead of a percentage, we would pay out between $65-$95 per sale. We would make on average around $300 per client so giving back $65 was not a big deal. And we had some great affiliates that would work hard to bring us sales. Some of them easily made thousands a month. It was fun to talk to these guys on the phone and help them out.

Eventually I was given the task to run the day-to-day activities of the affiliate program and I was absolutely thrilled with it. I would run reports, check for fraud and deal with our affiliates exclusively. The affiliate program worked great because it was free marketing. Our affiliates were in charge of promoting our services and then would run with the ball.

My boss then quit his job and it was up to me and my new boss to make sure that the affiliate program was running efficiently. We were the only ones that knew what our affiliates were doing. We were the only ones that had access to our affiliates and stats. And then a small crisis came up. It was tax season and one of our affiliates contacted us to see if we need to send him a tax form so he could report his sales. My friend and I had no clue how to generate the tax forms so we told our CEO about the possible problem.

As an affiliate myself, I did a little research myself. And I found the answer rather quickly. If you made over $500 a year on affiliate sales then you would have to report it. If it was under, it was not required. In looking at our 2,000 plus affiliates only a small handful qualified. My friend came back downstairs after meeting with our CEO and he was basically yelled at. Our CEO was so angry, he thought that he would have to generate 2,000 forms and send them out. I told my friend that was not the case at all. So my friend and I were happy, we could easily figure out what to do next, and generating maybe 10 forms would be easy to do. So my friend happily went upstairs to tell our CEO of the happy news I found. We both thought he would be happy and proud of us.

But that was not the case.

My friend came back downstairs and told me that our CEO thought I was wrong. He said something to the effect of "Platis doesn't know what the **** he is talking about and doesn't know **** about affiliate programs" and so forth. My friend defended me by saying that I have my own affiliate program so I know for sure but that didn't help. He hooted and hollered about how my friend and I are stupid and that he would find out himself. And come to find out, I was right. But our CEO was so stubborn in being right that he offered no apology or any praise that we know what to do.

Then he found out that I was essentially running the affiliate program and he flipped out. And suddenly (after running the affiliate program for about 2 years) I was removed and it was given to someone that knew nothing about it.

I was ticked. They removed the only thing that I liked doing there. And that ultimately lead to my quitting that place.

It was around this time that I seriously began to think of leaving this place. It was the first of many nails in the coffin. I had drawn this picture and placed it on my desk. And I added a nail every time something happened that made me think of the future.

Feb 14, 2010

February Day(s) of Reckoning

Day 106

By the way, before I forget. I blognapped Kristy's blog today. She must have forgotten that I helped her set up her blog so I know her password. You can see it here: 365daysofKristy

I know I say this every time this column comes up and I will probably keep saying it but I cannot believe that it has been two weeks already!

So how am I doing?


I am losing it. I am losing focus and I have slacked off writing and editing. I did e-mail a few folks the first half of my novel for them to edit and I am hoping that pushes me forward. I am getting real close to the end though and that makes me happy. And I just edited one of my favorite parts of my novel yesterday. When I look at the big picture and see how much I have accomplished and what I have left, I am satisfied with how much I have done. I only have 17,359 words left of my novel to edit. I have written so far on my second draft 73,173 words! All I have to do in addition to finishing is to write a small conclusion to another chapter I added. And then go through whatever edits I have that my friends have for me and I am done!


Good news/bad news here. The next book that has been recommended by my friend Steve is 'Then We Came to the End' by Joshua Ferris. I picked this up at the library and I got through the first four chapters but then I had to renew it at the library. And someone had placed a hold on it so I don't have it anymore. ARGH! The book was a little difficult to get into but the further I got the better it became. I liked it because it reminded me of WestHost. Every character that book had there was someone at my old work like them. And the chair... ...Tom's chair was (so far) my favorite part. Maybe one day I will write a book about my time at WestHost.

So until I get that book back, I will have to concentrate on finishing Veeps before the month ends.

Exercise and Eating Right
I skipped yesterday. Kristy and Logan had the day off from school and I don't like to do the Wii Fit with them around. Aside from that, I have done pretty decent. I am down a few more pounds and I am closer to my goal. I also have noticed that I look much better. I still have the ol' love handles but my chest, shoulders and arms have improved. Yes, I am an Adonis.

As far as my other goals have gone, I have not had any time yet. The novel is my focus for now. We'll see how I am in another 14 days.

Feb 13, 2010

Pic of the Week: Life with Logan

Day 105

I remember back before we had Logan Kristy and I used to watch VH1's Behind the Music episodes almost every Sunday night. For those that don't know, Behind the Music was a TV show that took a musical artist and we saw their story. How they became a band, what happened to them, what they are doing now and so forth.

I learned two things watching that show. If you belonged in a metal band, someone would die somehow. Seriously, it happened to Def Leppard, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC and you can count Motley Crue since one of the members was actually pronounced dead before somehow coming back to life. The other thing that I learned was how much family meant to these hard rockers. Every single one of them would talk about how much they love their kids and how that was the best part of their life. And I used to think "Are you kidding me?"

I would love to be a rock star and perform in front of huge crowds and tour. They had it all and their kids were the best thing that happened to them? Seriously?

Then Logan came along and suddenly I realized how right they were. I think one of the best things about having a kid of your own is introducing them to things you enjoy. I have tried my hardest in getting Logan to enjoy what I enjoy. For instance, Kristy is not a fan of hamburgers and I love them. She is more of a pizza person. But Logan LOVES cheeseburgers now so I have him on my side when we decide to treat ourselves by going out to eat.

He is willing to pose for my blog and he likes Banshee! (I'll have to explain who Banshee is in a later post)

He is a New York Jets fan! Poor kid, I shouldn't subject him to that!

He is a big Star Wars fan. He loves watching and playing Star Wars.

He was Wolverine for his 1st Halloween. I'll have a separate blog entry for this. I made a movie with him and it was better than Wolverine Origins.

He can be silly when he feels like it.

He loves cats. Sorry dog people and cat haters. We love cats. But we are not fanatical about them though.

He loves to read and loves the comics I have got for him. I cannot wait till he gets a little older so he can really dig the ones I have.

I guess having a kid is a cool thing.