Sep 30, 2010

Upon Further Review: Week 3 Fallout - Week 4 Picks

Day 334

You know it takes forever for the new NFL season to arrive and suddenly it is gone. Can you believe that Week 4 is this week? Bye weeks have already started and we are a quarter of the way through the season?

And as usual, Week 3 was entertaining. Lots of good games and a few surprises.

Rising: New York Jets. I didn't know if the Jets could recover from its opening day egg but after quality wins against rival AFC East teams New England and Miami, the Jets are back where they should be. QB Mark Sanchez has surprised me with his decisions and the offense is looking really good. I cannot wait for WR Santonio Holmes to get involved. The Jets only won 2 AFC East games all of last year and already they have won two.

Falling: Washington Redskins. It seems like it was forever when the Redskins won. A two-game losing skid normally shouldn't be too problematic but losing against the St. Louis Rams is. Hopefully for the Redskins this does not become a trend.



Rising: Chicago Bears. I sure didn't think that the Bears would be the last NFC team to be undefeated. I still am not convinced that the Bears are a great team but after big wins over Green Bay and Dallas you certainly cannot look past this team.


Falling: San Diego Chargers. I cannot figure out this team. The only thing I know is that when they win, they win big. And when the lose, they lose barely but to teams they really shouldn't be losing to. Charger fans shouldn't worry, the Chargers do this every year.



Last week I scored 10/16 so I did finally manage to get into double figures. There are two less games this week so I really need to bring my A game (and stop trying to will the Raiders to win) and make some good picks.

San Francisco at Atlanta:
I am off the 49er bandwagon. This is a team in real trouble. They are not out of the race in the NFC West even with a loss. I am more worried that the chips will really begin to fall.
Winner: Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati at Cleveland:
The Browns are competitive and the Bengals really need to concentrate on this game and not look past the pesky Browns. The Bengals defense will come up big.
Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

NY Jets at Buffalo:
I am recalling those horrible, horrible games the Jets had against the Bills last season. This is another game that looks like a blowout on paper. The Bills will fight but the Jets will pull out a scared winner. It will be closer than you (and the Jets) think.
Winner: New York Jets

Seattle at St. Louis:
I figured both of these teams would be awful but they certainly are fighters. The Rams got a good win last week and Seattle is in 1st place in the NFC West. This can either be a fantastic game or a very sloppy one. I think Seattle has a little more experience and talent.
Winner: Seattle Seahawks

Denver at Tennessee:
The Titans looked really good last week and while the Broncos have fight in them they just couldn't contain the passing game, they should have an easier time containing Vince Young. But perhaps you have heard of this running back that plays for the Titans.
Winner: Tennessee Titans

Detroit at Green Bay:
Normally I don't like to take the loser of last week's Monday Night game. But the Packers are at home and they are facing the Lions. Nothing like a little scrimmage to put things back into place.
Winner: Green Bay Packers

Baltimore at Pittsburgh:
The Steelers have been very impressive but this time they face a mean defense and I am not sure that Batch or whoever is quarterbacking for the Steelers can handle it. The Ravens also look impressive throwing the ball, especially to Anquan Boldin. This will be a slugfest.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
Carolina at New Orleans:
Carolina has been awful and the Saints look a little weaker than normal. It will still be a blowout but not a huge one.
Winner: New Orleans Saints

Indianapolis at Jacksonville:
The Jags look helpless and the Colts monster passing game will make matters worse for the Jags. Jones-Drew really needs to get back to his usual performance for the Jags to have a chance.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts

Houston at Oakland:
Houston got hit hard by reality last week and it is a good thing that the Raiders are up next. They will be tough at home but Houston has way more talent.
Winner: Houston Texans

Washington at Philadelphia:
McNabb is going home with a two-game losing streak. Philly suddenly looks really good with Vick leading the Eagles. The Eagles have more momentum but can that match McNabb's passion for beating his old team?
Winner: The answer is no. You can't go home again. Philadelphia Eagles

Arizona at San Diego:
It all depends if we get the Chargers of Week 2 or the Chargers of Week 1 and 3. It is early in the season so the Chargers should lose right?
Winner: San Diego Chargers

Chicago at NY Giants:
The Giants have looked utterly lost these last two weeks and are in some big trouble. The Bears look fantastic. This really could swing either way.
Winner: Chicago Bears

Monday Night
New England at Miami:
I will be at the concert Monday night and I am glad that my two "favorite" teams are playing so I won't miss much. Actually this will be a good game and I am interested to see how these two match up with each other. Either team can win this but my gut is picking the Dolphins.
Winner: Miami Dolphins

Sep 29, 2010

Please Take Out a Pencil

Day 333

About a year ago I joined a cool website called Illustration Friday. Illustration Friday is a weekly illustration challenge. A topic is posted every Friday and then participants have all week to come up with their own interpretation and then upload a thumbnail to their website so everyone can see what everyone came up with.

I did it for a couple of weeks and then life just got too busy and soon I slacked off. I had to unsubscribe from their e-mail list since I felt so guilty that I was not participating. I would sketch during Lost and then fix it up and send it on through. It was a fun experience and I was surprised at what I created. Other submissions made mine look like something out of a landfill and were absolutely fantastic but all-in-all I was happy with what I was able to do.

Which got me thinking. One of my earlier goals was for me to do some art. I don't think I have really accomplished that goal (as of yet anyway) but it was not high on the list like some of my other goals. I am thinking of next year already and what I want to accomplish and I think I have an idea. I do want to continue my blog and now I have a perfect excuse. I will join Illustration Friday again and do a weekly drawing and I will blog about it. Blog about how it came to be, blog about how I did it and of course post the pic. Now I have something to blog about weekly and hopefully having the excuse to blog about it here will keep me going.

I probably won't start until the new year since I will be concentrating on my new NaNoWrMo novel all through November. And I invite my fellow bloggers to try out either (or both) contests. It is a huge time commitment but I think you will be surprised about your output and how creative you can be under the gun.

Here is what I did for Illustration Friday.

"Breezy"
This was my first attempt. I can tons of things that I would definitely do different. Oh well...

"Intricate"
I thought about how intricate nature is and went for one of the simplest things in nature, a drop of water.

"Legendary"
I am so disappointed in this scan. It looks so much better in person. Freddie is legendary in his own right and he was the first thing I thought of.

"Poise"
I thought of a young gymnast or dancer. I like the figure in general until her neck. Ugh, I definitely would want to redo this but I don't think it was that bad for a couple of hours work.

"Subtract"
I thought of absolute zero temperatures. I like the way this turned out but her eye has an odd shape. I really need to practice my faces.

Sep 28, 2010

Matt at Work: The Office out West

Day 332

This is my last Matt at Work column. During the course of the year I have covered every single job that I have ever been employed at and this is my last one (excluding my current job) covering five years at WestHost.

I had quit Kraft/Convergys to concentrate on schooling and I attended Salt Lake Community College for about a year or so when Kristy became pregnant with Logan. I stopped going to school to take care of him when Kristy went back to South Hills to finish off the school year. After that she decided that she didn't want to teach anymore and wanted to stay at home, which meant that I was to get a full-time job. I didn't want to work down in the Salt Lake City area so we moved back to Logan and found a nice house down on the "Island". Kristy unfortunately had to take a job with the school district while I searched for new employment.

I interviewed at a couple of places but didn't get any callbacks until WestHost. I interviewed with a guy that I went to high school with. He knew who I was but I had no clue who this guy was but I played along. I first interviewed with him and then I interviewed with a man who eventually became my boss in Bevan. When I got into his office, Bevan had his assistant in the office with him, the person that I was replacing. Bevan started to ask me questions when suddenly I hear her say, "Matt Platis? You have got to be kidding me!" It was an old college friend. Her name was Jennifer and we hung out quite a bit many years earlier. It was because of her that I got hired. She even told me after the interview that she would make sure that I got this job. After two weeks of waiting, WestHost finally called me and I got the job to work in the Sales and Marketing Department.

I worked with some fantastic people in the Sales and Marketing Department and I felt in the beginning that I was a real force in the company. I invented a lot of the current policies and I quickly became the go-to-guy when it came to anything about Sales. And I loved my job.

There were certainly a lot of quirks though. The CEO of WestHost was this young kid who formed the company in high school. He never had to hold down a job himself and that led to some interesting and unfortunate situations which I have blogged about here.

Remember the Bathroom Memo?

Remember how mad our CEO got after the company photo was retouched?

And there was that time where they passed out anonymous and confidential company surveys.

And who could forget all the Chris-isms?

But like I said, I liked who I worked with and I liked my job and felt needed. One of the fun things we did at WestHost was the Madden Tournaments. Another fun thing we did was go out to eat all the time. We were constantly getting breakfast burritos or going on McGriddle runs. We also went out every month as a department for lunch as well. And then there was all the fun using Instant Messaging. Which actually leads to another interesting moment while working at WestHost.

Our CEO Chris took the whole Sales and Marketing Department out to lunch one day. It was actually pretty fun, Chris didn't talk too much about business and we chatted about movies and things like that. He also said that he liked that all of the Sales and Marketing Department had a lot of fun together. We told him some stuff that Zack and I used to do and Chris mentioned that he remembers the time when we counted how many Mark cleared his throat. (Just for the record: Mark cleared his throat ALL the time. We must have counted at least once a minute!) Zack and I looked at each other and just laughed it off. After the lunch Zack and I talked about it. We did count how many times Mark coughed but we did that all through IM (instant messaging) so now we knew for sure that he was reading all the messages we sent to each other. I think we wrote our IM's backwards for the next couple of days.

It wasn't ALL bad at WestHost. I did win Employee of the Month twice.

But as things do, things change. WestHost hired people that were Convergys people. Some of them were good but most of the Convergys people, especially those that were in management at Convergys, tried to bring their craft to this small company. And soon WestHost went from employee-friendly to being all about numbers. One of the guys they hired, a guy that I nicknamed Colby (a form of cheese), was extremely hard to work with.

Callback. (inside joke)

He was hired to be the Client Services Manager and was in charge of quality. I was going to share some of my old blogs concerning this man but I found that I would have to do some major, major editing and censoring. I will just share one so you get the general idea of what I am dealing with.
Colby is very cheesy and anal in his job. You need someone who is anal in the position that he is in. He monitors customer service quality and is very good at it but he goes overboard all the time and the program comes off very silly. Now that he is a member of the department, he is in meetings with me now. Our Sales meeting used to be an oasis for me, where I can finally unlock the shackles that tie me to the phone and where I can express ideas for the department. It was nice, being away from the beckoning of the phone for an hour until he arrived. Now, we have to have the meeting by my desk so I can continue to do my duties and to cover Tech Support with the dreaded callback program. We also get to hear "testimonies" of customer service, where Colby gets to the point of tears telling us why we do what we do and why we should continue to do it. I already know this, I have worked in this profession for years. He crams this stuff down our throats all the time. He sends little e-mail reminders, he leaves little reminders on our desks, but it is worse to hear them in person. I roll my eyes and draw little sketches of cheese while he is talking. I smile politely when he speaks of his "baby". It makes me want to wretch.
Not only does he possess anal abilities but he also possesses a large snoopy nose. He wants to dip his beak into everything and must know everything that is going on around him. At first, this was aggravating but now it has turned into a fun little game for me as I play on his eagerness to get information. I supply little tidbits for him, making it look like I know more than he does. I am sure this really gets his goat. It must drive him insane when I know something he does not know. A fellow co-worker sits at the desk in front of me and Colby is always asking me what he is doing. One time, Zack had to leave a little early to lunch because he was taking his wife to work. As soon as he left, I get a little message (IM) popping up asking me where Zack has gone. Even though I know the full reason why he has left, I do not give out all the information. Whenever there is a closed-door meeting, he asks me what it is all about. Here is a true life example:
Colby: "Hey I noticed Bevan's (my boss) door closed. Is Zack with him?"
Me: "Yes."
Colby: "Do you know what they are talking about."
Me: "I think so."
Colby: "How long have they been in there? Wonder what's up."
Me: "I think they are talking about some new programs, but I cannot tell exactly. That is why Zack went in there in the first place."
Colby: "Hmmmm. New programs for customers?"
Me: "Nope. New ideas for how we should handle our clients."

Colby: "Really? You know what?"
Me: "I wasn't invited to the meeting so it is none of my business. I have a couple of ideas though."
Obviously, I have either absolutely no idea what this meeting is about or I clearly know what the meeting is about and I am purposely doing this to tease him and make him curious and nervous. Jump through hoops! 
Colby eventually quit and things seemed to improve but that didn't last long. Now don't get me wrong, Colby is a swell guy. I just couldn't deal with all the WestHost/Convergys Cheese he forced us to eat. Unfortunately he had to do it and I understand that. Soon my boss Bevan quit and things quickly spiraled down the toilet. Zack became my new boss and I enjoyed that quite a bit and we hired a new guy named Matt. We had a great time together but WestHost was not honest in its dealings with the new Matt and he quit. And the pressure on Zack was just too much. There was a lot of gossip and a lot of backstabbing and false promises. Not a healthy environment to be in.

Still, the actual job was not bad. I liked assisting clients and being part of the Sales Department. The volume was unfortunately rising since essentially I was the only one keeping the day-to-day activities of the Sales Department afloat. One of my favorite things to do at WestHost was to work on the Affiliate Program but that didn't end very well and I used to have to train new employees on Sales matters and issue Sales Tests throughout the company. I really enjoyed those things and I thought I did them extremely well. I even wrote the entire Sales Manual for the company.

Zack stepped down as my boss and then they split the Sales and Marketing Departments. And this was the start of the end of my time at WestHost. I was given a new boss named Clint. He was Colby's replacement. Now I liked Clint until he became my boss. We all know why WestHost went this direction. They wanted to hire a Sales Manager but they didn't want me. No one else interviewed so WestHost was forced to do something. They made Clint the Sales Manager (whom I had to train when he was named manager) and they gave me this bloated title to appease me. At least they gave me a nice raise. But my time with Clint was numbered. I was stripped of the Affiliate Program (the one thing I really loved) and now I was the only guy answering phones/e-mails/chats. I went from a department of three down to a department of me.

My feelings of discontent were only hardened after the Rigged Christmas Party. And it seems like for every step forward, WestHost would take a step back and to manage always to poop on our parade.

I finally quit WestHost quite unexpectedly but that is a blog rant for another day. This one is much too long already!

Sep 27, 2010

Random Ramblings

Day 331

It's amazing how much my mood improves when the Jets win.

Yesterday Kristy was put in as Young Woman's President. We didn't think it was going to happen but it did. She was called a couple of weeks ago and I know that the ward had some logistics issues with who is serving where. But they made the calling official yesterday. Kristy will do a great job. She has some fantastic counselors and advisers and the Young Woman themselves are awesome. The unfortunate thing is that she will be a little more busy than normal. But the advantage is that I get to spend more time with Young Woman. I have said this before and I am sure this is not the last time I will say it but I love being around the Young Woman. They are such great examples and they make me feel young too.

My calling is still in limbo. I was called into the Elders Quorum as the 2nd counselor and our President moved about a month and half ago. I know a new President has been called but that is all I know. Nothing will happen for another two weeks or so. At least I am not the new President but I am eager to find out where I am going to be placed. Because knowing this ward, they have a spot waiting for me.

October is one of my favorite months. The air turns a little crisp, you get to wear comfier clothes, baseball season is winding down, football season is in full swing, basketball season is just a few weeks away. Scary shows are being shown on TV (I am a sucker for horror movies) and Halloween is almost here, and I LOVE Halloween candy.

This October will be special for a couple of reasons, I am a week away from going to The Halloween Hootenanny Tour! I am so giddy, I have been listening to Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie non-stop in preparation for the concert. I am not familiar with Alice Cooper as much but I am getting a kick out of discovering his music. Lots of fun stuff.



 I just don't know what to wear.

I was thinking of wearing this...

Only kidding. I am not sure what to wear, all I know is that I better wear black.

The other special occasion is that this blog will officially end October 31st. I don't know what I will do with the blog. Blogging has become a habit and I think I will miss doing it everyday. What are my fellow bloggers going to do when it is all over?

Sep 26, 2010

Mission Memoirs: Lost in New York City

Day 330

New York is a big city. I grew up in Edmonton, a large city in its own right, but New York is huge. I felt like I had an advantage when I was called to serve my LDS mission to New York City because I grew up in a city and I was used to the vast diversity living in a city offers.

It still surprised me how large this city was. My first area in New York City was in Brooklyn. I served in the Bensonhurst/Coney Island area and my trainer was Elder Neilson. It was a nice area of Brooklyn and it definitely was diverse but I felt comfortable there. Our area was so large that we had to have a good bike. So we went to this bike shop that caters to missionaries and I plunked down $388 for a Mongoose Alta bike. I do admit that it was fun to ride a bike again. This was the same bike that was I mugged for.


It was P-Day, my first one in the mission field. In the morning we did our wash and grocery shopping and went out and played some pool with some members. In the evening, Elder Neilson and I went out to do some work. We grabbed our bikes and headed out to our appointments and that was when the fun started. Elder Neilson is quite a large guy and when we started to ride our bikes he just took off! I tried to keep up but it was hard and then I soon lost sight of him. He never stopped to see where I was, he just kept going and going. Then I realized that I was lost.

Lost in Brooklyn and lost in New York City!

I decided to stop, thinking that he would come back. It didn’t make sense that I should keep going since I didn’t know where I was going in the first place. I waited for about an hour and no Neilson. So I walked with my bike and I noticed that I was on Norstrand Avenue right by the projects.

At least I knew where I was. Then another hour went by and still no sign of Neilson. I sat on my bike and just waited. A member of the Church just happened to walk by and he saw me and said “Hi”. I said “Hi” in return and he stopped because he noticed that my companion was no where near me. He asked me where my companion was and I told him I had absolutely no clue. He stayed with me for a little while and asked if my companion was tall and blonde and I told him he was. Apparently he has seen my companion blocks and blocks away. I decided then it might be best if I headed home. He asked me if I knew how to get home and I didn’t really know. I said that I would look for Avenue P and then go south until I got to my apartment building. He looked at his watch and it was 8:30 (I had been lost for almost 3 hours) and said I should go home and that this neighborhood would not be the best to hang around in. I got on my bike and found Avenue P and headed home.


View Larger Map
Where I am? I wish Google had been invented then!

At least I knew some of my area and I knew how to get home. I finally got home and I had no way to get inside of the building so I parked my bike and played with the neighborhood kids that were outside. They knew we were missionaries; I parked my bike in the inside of the building where it was safe and hung out with the kids. About twenty minutes later Elders Howard and Jeffries got home. I told them what had happened and Jeffries freaked out! Jeffries hopped on his bike yelling that we had to find Neilson now! Howard and I disagreed with him. Howard said that Neilson knew the area better than us and probably was heading home or going to the Dietze’s (a Senior couple) home so they can help look for me.

They argued about it and finally Jeffries just took off. Elder Howard looks over at me and says, “What an ***hole!” and walks up the stairs. Howard said we should just go upstairs and see if maybe Neilson called. We went upstairs and I was feeling so bad. Not only did I get lost, I also caused Jeffries and Howard to fight. There were no messages so we went downstairs to wait for both of our companions. Howard was so ticked off at Jeffries and went off on him. I was so uncomfortable. Another twenty minutes passed and Jeffries came back with no Neilson. Howard asked if I would go inside so he could speak to Jeffries and I knew the poop was going to hit the fan big time! I could hear the yelling and the cursing and around 10:15 Neilson strolls in with his bike and asked if I was okay. I said that I was just fine and then he asked what was up with Howard and Jeffries. We went upstairs and we laughed about it. Neilson said that he was sorry and I told him no harm was done. We called the Dietze’s to let them know that I was just fine. Sister Dietze was crying the whole time and Elder Dietze was making the whole thing like a secret war mission. I never felt like I was in danger, maybe it was because I am na├»ve but I think God was watching over me. They even called the cops to find me. The thought did cross my mind about calling President Child and ask for a transfer but we all ended up as friends. Even better than before.

Sep 25, 2010

Kid or Rock Star?

Day 329

They say having a kid changes you. I used to think that was a bunch of baloney.

Kristy and I used to watch those VH1 "Behind the Music" shows where they gave the life story of a musician. I would always shake my head at these huge stars when they said that having a kid was the best thing ever to happen to them.

Really?


You are a musician! You tour the world sharing your music with millions of fans! You have all the money in the world to keep doing what you want! How could having a kid beat all that?

And than I had Logan and I can see where they are coming from. But I would like a taste of what it would be like to be a rock star just so I can really make an appropriate comparison.

But then last Thursday I had an experience where it might have been better if I didn't have a kid. I was driving home all by my lonesome and I came to a 4-way stop sign. Crossing the road right in front of me was a co-worker from WestHost that I have not seen since he quit his job. I rolled down my window and called out his name to say "hi". He turned and saw me and he waved back and I also waved.

But I think I was waving "I LOVE YOU" in sign language back to him!

And I place the blame solely on Logan. I definitely didn't mean it! I flash this sign to Logan every day and now it must be a habit. I would have never done that if I didn't have a kid. And I certainly don't want to wave to everyone the same way I wave to Logan.

And you know what else I wouldn't do? I wouldn't cradle a gallon of milk/orange juice and bounce it gently when I carry it like a baby at the grocery store.

And I have to be careful when people hug me. I don't want to hug them back like I hug Logan. Especially since I smack him on the rear most of the times right after I hug him. That could lead to some interesting situations, you know I have never been arrested.


But I wouldn't trade him (well, permanently anyway) for anything.

Sep 24, 2010

Pic of the Week: My Buddy Jared

Day 328

When I was younger I had many friends but one of my friends was this much younger boy named Jared Burrows. He was the cutest little kid and my mom used to babysit him all the time.

He loved all my Star Wars and GI Joe toys and cars and we would play for hours after I got home from school.


I used to hate it when it was time for Jared to leave because he would chase after me looking for a hug. Ugh, I hated to be hugged back when I was at that age.

One time when he was a few days older he invited me to a sleepover at his house. I went over and had dinner with Jared and his family and then played with his GI Joe toys. He had almost every single GI Joe toy so of course I liked going over and playing. When we went to bed he slept with this insane night light that felt like a flood light. And the heat! Holy cow they must have liked to keep it around 90 degrees at night. I barely slept and I remember going into the bathroom not knowing what to do. I must have cried because his parents heard and they came in to see if I was okay. I told them that I was too hot but they thought I just missed home so they called my parents and my dad came and picked me up.

Jared was a neat kid and I often wonder how he is doing 25 years later.

Sep 23, 2010

Under Further Review: Week 2 Fallout

Day 327

Hey Revis?! How is that hammy treating you? That's what you get for skipping training camp!

There is nothing more comforting than having football on the television on a Sunday afternoon. Especially when the Jets pull off a win. Hey Jason Taylor! I accept you being a Jet after your strip sack of Tom Brady last Sunday.

Week Two is a fun week. You get to see if the last week winners are for real and you get see the early season panic of teams that might be facing a 0-2 deficit.

Rising: Houston Texans. At first I thought that they might crumble under the emotional win against the Colts last week. And perhaps the Redskins are for real. And then the 4th quarter rolled around and the Texans showed up to come from behind to win on the road. I know it is real early to know how a team will be for the whole season but I do see similarities between this team and the Saints of last year. Last week the Texans won with their running game, this time they won with their passing game.

Falling: Dallas Cowboys. What will give out first? Jerry Jones's temper or his heart? The Cowboys do not look in sync at all and are crumbling right before our eyes. They do have time to get things together but the pressure is mounting. Jason Witten's possible concussion doesn't help matters either.


Rising: Pittsburgh Steelers. Even without their big QB they continue to win. The Steelers defense unit is keeping this team in games.



Falling: Minnesota Vikings. That 4th down stand that the Dolphins made against Adrian Peterson was impressive and could be the play that starts the downward spiral for the Vikings. It doesn't look good.



Rising: Chicago Bears. QB Jay Cutler looked pretty good in Dallas last week and the Bears are playing with a little more gumption. An early 2-0 record will give the Bears confidence and with the Vikings 0-2, they have a real shot at making some noise in the NFC North.



Falling: San Fransisco 49ers: I thought the 49ers looked good Monday night against the Saints but a loss is still a loss. They can rebound from an 0-2 start but will they crumble under the pressure? I still think they can take the NFC West.



I scored another 9/16 in my picks (at least I am consistent). This week I will finally get into the double digits. So what does Week 3 entail?

Tennessee at NY Giants:
Both teams are coming off horrific losses. But I see the Giants edge the Titans in this game only because the Giants are at home and they don't have to deal with the shaky psyche of Vince Young.
Winner: NY Giants

Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay:
This will be a true test for the 2-0 Bucs. While I do think they are a better team than last year, I don't think they are better than the Steelers. QB Charlie Batch starts the game for the Steelers which will allow the Bucs to hang around but the Steelers win it on defense.
Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

Cincinnati at Carolina:
The Bengals bounced back last week with a great divisional win over the Ravens. This carries right over into this game.
Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland at Baltimore:
I never thought I would see Ravens QB Joe Flacco look so discombobulated. Good thing for the Ravens that the Browns are coming to town. The Ravens right the ship and get the win.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens

Dallas at Houston:
Oh boy, I hope this is televised. Houston can take a gigantic leap by going 3-0 in their division and the Cowboys can really do themselves in if they lose. If this was in Dallas I might go for them but this is in Houston and that place will be rocking. Another big test for the Texans that they will pass.
Winner: Houston Texans

San Francisco at Kansas City:
I feel bad for the 49ers. They took it to the Saints but came up short. The defense looked good and should be able to contain the Chiefs. But the Chiefs are at home and the 49ers lost on a Monday night. It will come down to wire but I think the Chiefs will use their early momentum to snag a win away from the 49ers.
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs

Detroit at Minnesota:
Nothing cures losing better than a visit from the Detroit Lions. But this isn't your daddy's Lions which is a problem. This will be a tougher and closer game than anyone expects but the Vikings will get an emotional win.
Winner: Minnesota Vikings

Buffalo at New England:
The Pats will do what they do best. Rebound. The Bills will play tough but not good enough to take down the Pats. The Pats will miss RB Kevin Faulk more than they realize which will make their offense not as dominant.
Winner: New England Patriots

Atlanta at New Orleans:
The Falcons sure looked good last week but that was against the Cardinals so I wouldn't hold too much stock in that. New Orleans might be in trouble with RB Reggie Bush out but they still have enough firepower to match anyone in the league. I am predicting an upset here, I think the Falcons will steal this game away from the Saints much like the Saints will steal one later in the season at Atlanta.
Winner: Atlanta Falcons

Washington at St. Louis:
The Redskins lost an emotional game last week that will take its toll giving the Rams an early lead. But QB McNabb is too much of a professional and will win it in the 4th quarter, much like what happened to him last week.
Winner: Washington Redskins

Philadelphia at Jacksonville:
QB Michael Vick certainly looked like he has not lost a step. The Eagles look better than the Jags at this point but it wouldn't surprise me if the Jags took this game. Coin toss! Tails...
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Oakland at Arizona:
Oh boy... this could be quite a game but more than likely a snooze fest. I don't know which underachiever will actually go for a win.
Winner: Oakland Raiders

San Diego at Seattle:
The Chargers looked a lot better last week than the week before and Seattle's first win in Week 1 looks like a fluke.
Winner: San Diego Chargers

Indianapolis at Denver:
I told Daniel that I will go for the Broncos this week. But that doesn't mean I will pick them.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts

NY Jets at Miami:
If the Jets play like they did last week this should be a fun game. The 2-0 Dolphins will get an early test by a terrific Jets defense and the Jets are looking to avenge being swept by the Fins last year. Close game but the Jets roll on in the 4th quarter.
Winner: NY Jets

Monday Night
Green Bay at Chicago:
Which team is for real? I expect the Bears to blitz the crud out of the Packers to make it close but the Packers make just enough plays to get ahead. Bears QB Jay Cutler reverts to form and the Packers capitalize on the turnovers.
Winner: Green Bay Packers

I am looking forward to the games this Sunday. Should be some classics.

Sep 22, 2010

Last Night I Died and Went to Heaven

Day 326

I have been debating whether I should blog last night's activities or not. Last night I had a very personal and religious experience. Rarely do I blog about such things and I do not want to come off preachy or churchy. On the other hand, I want to remember this experience and look back on it and this blog would be the perfect way to chronicle it.

So I offer this disclaimer. It basically comes down to this:

It's my blog and I will blog what I want to.

So if you are uncomfortable about religious things, just stop reading. I will do my best to make sure this does not come off as preachy. And I will do my best to explain things for those that are not in the LDS faith. Everyone is invited to read on and comment if they feel like it. I will be happy to answer any questions and if you would rather e-mail me personally with your comments, you certainly can by e-mailing mplatis28 (at) hotmail.com

I also apologize in advance for being a little sappy.

Last Sunday while attending choir practice I was asked if I would participate in a special musical number for the combined Young Men/Young Women's activity for Tuesday. I accepted, I enjoy being around the Young Women since one of Kristy's callings (jobs) is to teach the Young Women. In our Church, all members are asked voluntarily to assist in teaching and providing service to other members (and non-members alike in our neighborhood). Kristy's "job" is to help teach the Young Women (ages 12-17). Most of the activities are fun activities and are usually aimed at helping the youth build good relationships with each other. In that way the youth will bond together and help each other live the Church's principles. But every once in awhile we use this opportunity to teach the youth the Church's principles. And this is what was done for this occasion.

Last Sunday each member of the Youth were given plane tickets to Hawaii and they needed to meet at the Church Tuesday night to leave. The leaders (those in charge of the Young Mens/Young Women) had set up some chairs on the stage and we had some Church members play the roles of pilot and flight attendants. The youth were all dressed up like they were going to Hawaii. They all boarded the plane and were excited about the trip. They were served some refreshments (Kristy was one of the flight attendants) and they were off ready to have a good time.

Then the plane went through some turbulence and suddenly lost an engine. And then they crashed and died.


Were they flying Oceanic 815?

This is what the lesson was all about. What happens to us when we die? Well, the Youth were going to find out rather quickly. The lights were out in the gym when suddenly a spotlight shined on one of the leaders who was dressed all in white. And he informed the Youth that they have all perished in the crash and now were on there way to heaven. He took them through each kingdom and taught them about who would be there and what type of afterlife this would be. (I know I am breezing through this, if you have more questions about this type of stuff go here.)

I didn't get to go through everything that the Youth did so I don't know what they went through. My part was to be in the Celestrial Kingdom (the highest degree of glory in heaven) and to welcome the Youth and to sing in a heavenly choir. All of the leaders and all of the choir members were dressed all in white. Each Youth was called in individually and welcomed into heaven.

.
It was cooler than that neat old Battlestar Galactica episode where they got into that "Ship of Lights" and discovered they were all in white.

The look on their faces was priceless. One of the girl's when she entered the chapel and saw all of us in white she burst into tears. Her mom and dad were Youth leaders and she made a bee-line to them and cried in their arms. The leaders ushered each youth to their seat where they were greeted by our Bishop (the Bishop is the one who leads the local Church). After a small talk given by Amber (the Bishop's wife) we sung for the Youth.

We sang "I am a Child of God" and I have to admit that it was difficult getting through the hymn.

This is exactly how I picture heaven being when I die. I imagine that we are escorted by loved ones into a room to meet with God and that room is filled with other loved ones that have passed on before.

Being in the audience and watching the Youth enter heaven was unbelievable. I don't know many of these youth personally but I cannot describe how I felt watching them come in.

I know that this was fake. I know we were just acting. But the feelings were genuine and real.

I was excited to see the kids. I was excited that they were with me in "heaven". I am positive that the joy I felt is just a fraction of the joy I will feel when I die and see my friends and loved ones again. I can only imagine who will be there to meet me. I can totally see my grandparents ushering me in, I can totally picture my family members sitting up on the stage, smiling warmly as they see me. That joy will only be matched when I get to greet my friends and family when they pass away. When Logan and his family come in, how happy will I be?

After we sang, the Bishop shared with us a couple of scripture from the Bible and then he left about fifteen minutes for anyone else to say what they felt. Kara, (the girl that ran to her parents) came up and spoke to us. And I am in awe. She is only 13 years of age and she has it more together than I do. She spoke about how we can all make it together if we all help each other. She didn't just speak of her family, she spoke to all of us. And I felt like she was talking to me. Here is this 13-year old girl, speaking with words way beyond her years, telling me that I can make it to heaven and that she'll help me because we are all in this together. What a beautiful example she is to me so full of charity.

A few more of the youth spoke and then we concluded the activity and had some refreshments. No one wanted to leave their seats. I didn't want to be on the stand anymore, I wanted to be with Kristy and I wanted to be with the kids. I came down and met with Kristy and we spoke to some of the girls. It was like being at a family reunion, it was like we were seeing each other for the first time in ages. I cannot express how it felt, all I know is that I was tremendously happy to be with them and to share that love and happiness. I am so impressed with them, they won me over when I attended Girl's Camp a couple of months ago but this activity sealed the deal. They are tremendous examples to me. They go through adversity, more than I ever did at their age, and yet they came out shining. I wish I had half their strength and conviction.

Aside from family, these are the people I want to hang out with in heaven. And if I had died in that plane crash I couldn't ask for a finer set of people to die with. I am so thankful that I was able to take part in such a beautiful activity. I am so thankful for where I live and who my neighbors are. I am so thankful that Kristy serves with these awesome Young Women so I keep the privilege of hanging out with them. And I am thankful that families are forever and that I can be in such a peaceful loving place with my family and with my neighborhood family here when we pass on.

Sep 21, 2010

The Spider

Day 325 (Wow! That means I only have 40 more blogs to write to complete the year!)

Yesterday we had our second Aragog sighting.

For those that don't know, Aragog was the large spider character from the Harry Potter books and it seems like his American descendants live here right outside my home. Typically we get about 5-10 of these large visitors but this year we have been very fortunate to have only had two. I blame the large snake that stalks our house.*

We were coming home from going shopping and I was opening the door with my key when suddenly Kristy uttered this fearful noise. She claimed it was not a scream, and it wasn't one exactly but it was still some sort of yell. I knew right away that it was some sort of insect. Either a large spider or something that will sting me. So I turned away from the door ducking my head and proceeded to run over my son.

I can handle any type of bug or vermin. Snakes? No prob. Wasps? No prob. Mice? No prob. Spiders? HUGE problem.

On the top of our door was an Aragog. I remember that I had left the back door opened so Logan and I retreated there. Kristy grabbed a stick and knocked him off the door and then she bravely stabbed it and retreated danced away.


She didn't see that the spider jumped up after she poked it and it ran right in the crevasse of the door. Logan came out with the bug spray and I doused it. So far we have not recovered his body. That is because we are too afraid to look.

*True story. We have a snake that lives around our home.

Sep 20, 2010

My First Date

Day 324

It seems like forever ago.

FOR-EVER! FOR-EVER! FOR-EVER!

Okay, it is not that long ago. It was around this time 20 YEARS AGO! It has been so long ago that I just might not really remember it. It was Sky View's Homecoming Dance and my friends and I decided to get dates and go to the dance. I didn't think that I was going to go but at the last moment I decided to find a date.

There was this senior girl that I had seminary class (I was only a junior) with that I thought was a lot of fun. I knew she had a boyfriend from Logan High but I decided to ask her out anyway. Apparently this was just the start of a trend. I was always interested in older ladies that had boyfriends. I remember that I skipped my last period in school to whip up a fancy way of asking her to the dance. I don't remember what I did but I did include a picture of me when I was young in my fancy 70's style dancing suit and invited her to dance with a real star. Now that I think about it, I think I was striking a John Travolta-like pose in the picture.


Shannon answered me by filling up this insane huge bottle of M&M's and by making me count out all the colors and doing all this math. While I hated math, I did like eating chocolate.


But she did say yes and I had my first date!

I was a little nervous. I remember that I showered very early and got ready long before I was to pick her up. My friend Damond picked me up in his mini-van and we took off to corral the rest of the group. Damond's date was named Valerie and she was brand new girl that had just moved in. His cousin Kris came with us and his date was named Kara (I think, and I am too lazy to check) and Jester's date was Mykin. We went to pick up my date first and we got lost trying to find her house. Damond was so frustrated since we were so late. In fact we were about an hour late picking her up. We had to stop and ask someone and they pointed us to her house. Funny thing is that Damond got so mad at me for not knowing where she lived and I told him to calm down and he suddenly backed the van into this telephone pole. I felt bad until Jester laughed and laughed.

(Top Row) Me, Shannon, Damond, Jester, Kara
Valerie, Mykin, Kris

We finally got everyone and we went and ate at this place called "The Cottage" and then we headed to the dance. The dance was nice, I am glad that my first date was with someone that was my friend. I remember while dancing we would comment on everyone else and essentially "people-watch" the whole time. It was a nice and relaxing evening. I am not sure what we did after the dance, I think we headed back to Damond's house to play some games before we took the girls home.

Look how young I am...

Shannon was a neat girl that I still run into every once in awhile.

Sep 19, 2010

Pic of the Week: Riding the Bull

Day 323

The Wall Street Bull or the Bowling Green Bull, is a 3,200 kilograms (7,100 lb) bronze sculpture by Arturo Di Modica that stands in Bowling Green Park near Wall Street in Manhattan, New York City.

Standing 11 feet (3.4 m) tall and measuring 16 feet (4.9 m) long, the oversize sculpture depicts a bull, the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity, leaning back on its haunches and with its head lowered as if ready to charge. The sculpture is both a popular tourist destination which draws thousands of people a day, as well as one of the most iconic images of New York and a Wall Street icon symbolizing Wall Street and the Financial District.


And I have rode the beast!

I was serving in Staten Island and we had one of our approved Manhattan trips. My companion and I were walking home to catch the Staten Island ferry and we passed by this huge statue. No one was around and I felt this incredible urge to ride the bull.


I grabbed him by the horns and hopped on. I was amazed by the sheer size of the animal. And like any bucking bull I had difficulty in staying on top. They must polish that bull because I kept sliding off.

Now if I can only conquer the actual financial markets like I conquered this bull!

Sep 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Josh!

Day 322

What a lame post yesterday. I did have a lot of fun winning all those games against Eric and there is nothing like racking up 514 rushing yards against him. But I feel like I have reached a low in my roller coaster. I get like this sometimes (it would be interesting to check back on my blog and see if maybe I am cyclic) where I just feel blah.

So today I plan on reading some comics and drinking some Dew. I think it is time to re-read my collection of X-Men comics starting with this huge hardcover.

I think I might be a little nervous for tomorrow too. And surprisingly this has nothing to do with the big Jets/Patriots game that I get to watch (even though that makes a little nervous/excited too) but I am anxious to see what happens at Church tomorrow. I just might get released from my current calling which means I soon might have another calling. Our small little choir is singing tomorrow too and my ace-in-the-hole won't be there to help me get through it. There is this kind lady in the ward that sings tenor with me because we don't have enough guys and she is out of town this weekend. I have this ugly gut feeling that I will be the only tenor there. We have practice here in a few hours and I hope I can catch my parts.

Yesterday was my cousin Josh's birthday and I totally forgot to blog about it. I told myself that I would blog about my fellow blogger's birthdays (no other family members get that privilege embarrassment) and I totally skipped out.

I don't have many pictures of my cousin Josh. But Jeremy sent me this pic while I was on my LDS mission in New York.

Jeremy wrote this on the back. I think it is okay to reveal this now.


It is how I will always remember Josh.

I have many fond memories of my cousin Josh. He was just as into Star Wars as Jeremy and he loved video games. I remember spending hours playing the old Atari basketball game, the Nintendo Ten Yard Fight game and getting so competitive and hating each other.


Ahhh.... good times. We didn't just play video games either, I also remember the highly competitive basketball games in the driveway at Greeley.

Josh also served an LDS Mission around the same time only he was on the West Coast while I took the East Coast. He served in Los Angeles and in the hood.

Like I said, I don't have many pictures of Josh. This was taken at the SLC airport when I flew out to New York. I guess he looks sad since he had to go to the West Coast instead of the East. I guess that makes you Tupac and me Biggie.

Happy Birthday Josh!*


*better late than never right?

Sep 17, 2010

Time Out!

Day 321

My thumbs are sore. I have been playing Madden 11 with my brother-in-law Eric almost all day. Which meant that I have not had any time to blog.

So I think I am going to call a time out and skip blogging tonight.

So I can play more Madden.

Sep 16, 2010

Under Further Review: Taking Stock

Day 320


I love Kick Off weekend. So much football, six games in three days and all of them highly entertaining to watch. I am just getting over my Jets loss and ready for Week 2. I didn't do that well with my Week 1 predictions, I only got 9 out of 16 right but like all the teams that lost in Week 1, this is only the beginning of the season and we (I) can turn things around. I will pat myself on the back for taking RB Arian Foster of the Houston Texans in one of my Fantasy Football drafts.

Speaking of the Texans, how great was that win?

So which NFL team's stock is rising? Which NFL team's stock is falling?

Rising: Houston Texans. Not only did they beat the Colts, they beat up the Colts. They harassed Colts QB Peyton Manning all day and Houston's RB Foster dominated the running game. This is huge win for the Texans. IN order for the Texans to make some noise in the playoffs, they have to beat their rival. It will be an interesting rematch.

Falling: New York Jets. Wow. The Jets game was both impressive and depressing. I am impressed with the Jets defense. They gave the Jet's offense many opportunities to score some points. But the offense was just awful. 74 yards passing? We need to throw the ball deep. The Jets are going to be in trouble if this continues.

Rising: Kansas City Chiefs. Those Chief rookies that played Monday night were fantastic. Like I said before, the AFC West is up for grabs and the Chiefs will make things interesting. The more confidence those rookies get, the better they will play. Now if WR Dwayne Bowe can get moving, these Chiefs will be dangerous.

Falling: Indianapolis Colts. For every winner there is a loser and I am interested to see how the Colts react to this major loss. The loser in the Superbowl always struggles the next year and we can see how that loss has affected the Colts. I wouldn't count them out but you have to think that this loss will affect the mindset of the Colts. When was the last time they lost their first game of the season?

Rising: Washington Redskins. That Redskins defense looked really good and QB McNabb looked sharp in the home opener. Head Coach Mike Shanahan has this team ready to fight.



Falling: Dallas Cowboys. Way to lose the game guys. The yellow flag killed this team and it was only fitting that a defensive holding penalty would end the game. It looks like the pressure got to the Cowboys. Can you imagine what the pressure is like now?


There are some intriguing matchups for Week 2. So let's get right to them!

Pittsburgh at Tennessee:
I feel the Steelers got away with a win last week but I think the Titans will be running on all cylinders. The Titans are at home and are coming off a big win. The Steelers will be tough as always but the Titans will get their second win of the season.
Winner: Tennessee Titans

Miami at Minnesota:
Both teams looked lost last week. So it comes down to two things. Home-field advantage and who they lost to last week. Miami barely beat the Bills and the Vikings lost to the Superbowl champion Saints. The Vikings are at home so they have both advantages.
Winner: Minnesota Vikings

Arizona at Atlanta:
The Falcons let one go last week and they won't this week. I expect a shootout until the Falcons take over the 4th quarter.
Winner: Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore at Cincinnati:
This will be interesting. The Ravens came off a big win against a super tough defense. The Bengals started so slow last week and just couldn't catch the Patriots. What will be interesting is seeing how the Ravens passing defense deals with the Bengals passing offense. I expect the Bengals to do what the Jets couldn't do and pass on the Ravens. This will be an extremely close game with the Ravens pulling a win late with an Anquan Boldin touchdown.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens

Kansas City at Cleveland:
The Chiefs use their momentum and easily take a win from the hapless Browns.
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs

Chicago at Dallas:
Chicago shouldn't have won last week against the Lions. So that can mean one of two things. The Lions are much, much better this year or the Bears are that awful. While I do think the Lions are better, I think the Bears are just awful. The Cowboys enact a painful vengeance on the Bears.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys

Philadelphia at Detroit:
Who would have thought that in Week 2 we would have two teams face each other with the possibility of having two new quarterbacks. Philly looked miserable last week and the Lions were cut short of a victory by the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. I feel bad for Lions QB Matthew Stafford and I have a gut feeling that the Lions will win one for him.
Winner: Detroit Lions (Steven will be so proud of me)

Buffalo at Green Bay:
This will be a competitive game and much closer than people think but Green Bay will pull away in the 2nd half easily.
Winner: Green Bay Packers

Tampa Bay at Carolina:
Carolina looked horrible last week and the Bucs were not that much better looking. I think the Panthers have a little more talent than the Bucs and they are at home.
Winner: Carolina Panthers

Seattle at Denver:
I didn't see Seattle coming last week. They really took it to the 49ers but I am still not convinced they are that good. I am also not convinced Denver is all that good either but Denver is tough at home.
Winner: Denver Broncos

St. Louis at Oakland:
Oh boy. This could be the worst game of the season. The Raiders need a game like this after the beating they took last week. The Rams looked better than I thought even though they lost. I predicted that the Raiders would be much more improved this season and I am sticking to that story.
Winner: Oakland Raiders

Houston at Washington:
Two teams that stocks are rising collide. This should be a fascinating game and both teams will want this win. If both teams perform like they did last week it will be a fun game to take in. But I think that the Texans have too much firepower and the Redskins will not be able to catch up.
Winner: Houston Texans

New England at NY Jets:
The Pats rolled last week and the Jets rolled over. If this was at New England, I would pick the Pats without a doubt. (some Jets fan I am right?) The Jets only lost by one point last week and they have a powerful defense that will shut QB Tom Brady down. Only this time the defense scores some much needed points to push the Jets over the top. Barely.
Winner: New York Jets

Jacksonville at San Diego:
The Jaguars looked impressive last week but they have to travel all the way across the country to face a team that got their collective butts handed to them. The Chargers have a history of starting slow and the late loss Monday night will haunt them.
Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars

NY Giants at Indianapolis:
Manning Bowl II. Big brother will not let little brother win. End of story.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts

Monday Night
New Orleans at San Francisco:
The 49ers looked pathetic last week and a visit from the Saints will not help.
Winner: New Orleans Saints

Sep 15, 2010

Spelunking in Logan

Day 319

When Kristy and I went 4-wheeling with my sister we passed Logan Cave and it brought back a ton of memories. This well-known cave extends about 4,000 feet into the mountain, and is as high as 70 feet in some places. It was carved by water seeping along faults and joints in the limestone, which slowly dissolved the rock. The cave is 4,290 feet long and relatively narrow with no large rooms or caverns. Much of the floor of the cave is also a stream bed as water collects and makes its way to the mouth of the cave and then into the Logan River.


Now, Logan Cave is gated to protect Townsend’s big-eared bats that live there. The bats are being protected as a sensitive species because of their susceptibility to disturbance. Simply walking past a colony can cause them to permanently abandon their roost.

Which is interesting considering I have been in the cave personally twice and the bats are still there.

The first time I went through Logan Cave was right before my friend Joel left to serve his LDS mission to Taiwan. Joel, Lared and I went through during the dead of winter. Which is good because that means the water in the cave is low enough to wade through. But the water is extremely cold so you had to make sure you wore a lot of layers of clothing. I was a bit nervous going through but it was a lot of fun. That is until Joel dropped his large flashlight down a crevasse, about twenty feet down. I had my little Maglite which I held with my teeth most of the time and Lared had a small flashlight as well. But we made it out safe.

The trip takes about about 1-2 hours and if you are a little claustrophobic this is not the cave for you. It is really enclosed and only a few of the "rooms" were large enough that you could stand without hitting your head. And of course, being in a cave it is dark. I never imagined it could get that dark!

There are some hairy places that caused me to pause and rethink (and pray) what I was doing.

The first one was called The Wall. You get to a stage in the cave where there is a large gaping hole which goes down at least twenty feet (this is where Joel dropped his flashlight). On the two sides are these walls which are only 3-4 feet apart. To get further into the cave you have to prop your feet on one side of the cave walls and put your back (like in the sitting position) up against the other wall. You would push against each other and edge your way for about 10-15 feet.

Another hairy place is called The Razor's Edge. You get to a stretch to where the only thing in your path is a long pointy rock (hence the name) and the cave walls are not in reach and there is a 10-15 foot drop off on each side. So you straddle the rock and ease your way down the path.

And I saved the best for last, The Toilet Bowl. And I don't think it is called that because it could cause you to drop bricks (even though that is entirely possible). Basically you have to squeeze through a hole (going up) through a hole that is the size of a toilet bowl. It is a little bigger than a toilet seat (and no I haven't actually tested that) but it is really small. The trick it to out your arms all the way up through and grab the sides and push up with your face right in the rocks.

If you wanted to go through Logan Cave you would need to know your toilet's dimensions.

I have been though Logan Cave twice. The second time I took Kristy through on a date. It was right before Joel and I went to New York. We had to be careful going in because they were going to close the cave down and they were not allowing people in so we had to go late at night. Joel had a date and we went through the cave only this time it was in the summer and the water was pretty high. There were parts where you could swim under the rocks but we wouldn't let Joel do that. Kristy was pretty brave about the whole thing. What made me laugh through the whole adventure was Kristy's reaction to everything. We would get to a point in the cave (like at the Razor's Edge) and Kristy would claim that she couldn't do it and suddenly she would disappear. Where did she disappear to? She was already on the other side of any given task. She did this for every single hard part. It was like her mind told her not to but her body said go right on ahead!

I know the picture is fuzzy but I wanted you to see the large amount of water that comes from the cave.

I think it is a shame that Logan Cave is gated and closed down. I understand that we want to protect species of animals but if they found the bats after I have been through, I don't think they were disturbed enough to leave the cave.

Sep 14, 2010

Matt at Work: Welcome to Pepitoville

Day 318

Kristy got a real job teaching school down in Riverton, Utah so we backed up all of our belongings and we headed down south. It was great quitting my job at Convergys. The job itself was not bad but unfortunately the Logan Convergys had always suffered in the mid-management arena. There was a lot of good supervisors but then there were a lot of supervisors that only had the goal of self-promotion and looking good in front of others. At my last employment we had people that worked at the Logan Convergys work there. I could always tell which ones were supervisors there, they carried themselves differently. It was like they were trained to always strive to look better than other people and stab each other in the back.

Sounds like I have some stories to tell right?

But that is for another day. Today I am going to cover my next job. I was still working for Convergys but I was in a brand new project and I was working at a different facility.

I found a job about two weeks after we moved down to West Jordan. I applied to work a new project at Convergys. I was hoping that my experience working at Convergys would get me hired and it did. I was interviewed by my eventual boss John right on the spot. I went into the interview and bluntly told the truth of my time working at the Logan Convergys. He asked me what was one of the most important things I would want in this job. I quickly replied that I expect honesty and information, two things that I thought lacked in Logan. I must have made an impact with him because he then said "I usually don't do this but I want you on my team. I don't need to call you back." And I was hired.
I didn't know it going in but I was applying to work with Kraft. Yeah, the same company that produces Kraft Cheese and Macaroni. (that should be obvious right?) I was hired with another 20 people and we quickly began training. Training was a lot of fun. John and the Convergys reps were completely different people. I actually had Sick Days, I actually had vacation. I actually had reasonable goals. This was completely opposite of the Logan Convergys. I quickly picked up the system and made some fast friends and John relied on my to help lead.

And then Susan arrived. Susan was Kraft's representative, she was the one that would train us in Kraft's vast product line which we would handle half of. Susan and I didn't see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. Clearly she was superior to the rest of us Joe Schmoe's and we could tell. She looked down on all of us. She would have a limo come and pick her up and take her home. She wore these insanely fancy clothes and was cocky. So it was obvious that we were not going to be friends. I tried to like her but we rubbed each other the wrong way. I think what drove her nuts about me is that I liked to have fun and it seemed to her that I was very unprofessional and was not learning. But I knew my stuff and I picked things up so quickly. In fact John asked me to help those around me and that really ticked her off. But the Kraft portion of the training was fun. We got to try all of Kraft's products. We tried all the Post cereals, all the Oscar Mayer meat products (and now I only like to buy Oscar Mayer hotdogs), all the Jell-O and all the Kraft dry meals. We would cook them up and sample them.

One thing that I do not tolerate is disrespect. You respect me and my fellow workers, I will follow you to the moon. You start slamming people that do not deserve it and we will have problems. And one afternoon Susan got snotty and I let her have it. There was this young girl in our class that was not picking things up very well and I was assigned to help her out. I did my best to help her and we became friends. But Susan didn't think nicely of her and she berated her right in front of everyone. And I openly mocked Susan for doing so. Susan essentially called her a dullard and hick (I don't think Susan meant for us to hear it) and I took offense. In our training Susan would pretend to call in to complain about something and we would fill out these tickets. John wanted me to help this girl (since I knew how to take the call) so I "quietly" made fun of this lady that was calling in which meant I was making fun of Susan. And she picked up on it.

We met afterwards and I told Susan that she was being very disrespectful and told her that she was losing the respect of everyone she was training. I will give her credit, she backed off and apologized. I think I also earned her respect because when she would come out to visit later on we got along great.

Like I said, the training class was a lot of fun. During that month of training we all bonded together. We would go out together as a class for lunch and chat. I remember one lunch quite vividly. We were all chatting together and suddenly one of the girls (not the one I was friend's with) blurted out that she thought having an affair would be the most exciting and fun to do ever! We all looked at each other with our eyes bulging out of our heads. Suddenly Cathy (an older lady) yelled out "It is whores like you that ruin marriages!" Oh the awkward silence that came after that. It didn't surprise us that Miranda wanted an affair. She was quite flirty and outgoing but to actually come out and say that. That incident ruined the dynamic of our group. It was months later when we caught her and our other boss in the parking lot. More on that later!


Pepitoville was the name of our row. I got along with everyone that sat in our row and it made the days go by very quickly. Pepitoville was also the name of our blow-up pickle. Yeah, we had a pickle. When I left my fellow co-workers said that Pepitoville was no more and they gave me the original sign that hung in our row.

John was one of the best bosses I have ever had. He knew when to be serious and when to have fun. He was one of us. He didn't like Susan either and was not happy that I called her out but then didn't do anything about it either. He respected me and therefore I respected him. When I was hired, I got a nice raise since I worked at Logan for a year but for some stupid reason (oh yeah, management at Logan) my PTO (paid time off) would not roll over. I told John that Logan would not honor my PTO (since we really were not allowed to take it) and would not roll over my time. John thought this was outrageous and he took it upon himself to make it right. He spent hours on the phone with Logan and finally he came out as a winner. Unfortunately, I had to make a trip back to Logan to do some paperwork but I would get my PTO. When shook his head in disbelief when he told me how backwards and stupid they were. It was nice to have that sort of validation. John totally earned my respect.

During some of our slow times John would take me off the phones and we would call in and play jokes on our co-workers. We picked on this kid Randall because he was so nice and humble and best of all, a complete sucker. John would tell me what he wanted me to say and I would ad-lib the conversation. We gave him all sorts of problems, like does Kraft have any recipes for squirrels, can Miracle Whip be used for lotion, and things like that. I would always give him a fake name, usually it was Lucifer or Satan. We would spend hours calling around and making jokes. And I got paid for it all!

John and I would also bet on Bronco games. He was an avid Bronco fan (he was from Ft. Collins originally and went to CSU) and we would bet packs of soda. I think we ended up being even but we must have bought 10-12 packs of IBC soda.

Daryl was my other boss. He seemed like a nice enough fellow and had a neat British accent but the more I learned about him the more I didn't like. He was a pretty lazy boss and we had an altercation. (Geez, bosses must have hated me) I took a call from a lady that was extremely angry (I think it was because there were bugs in her cereal) and she let me have it. I tried to explain to her what might have happened and she demanded that she speak to a supervisor. I finally convinced Daryl to come take the call since she would not speak to me. She was beside herself and called me all sorts of nasty names. So Daryl takes the call and and eases her tension and then tells her that he was going to put me back on the line to get more information. I shook my head "no" and told him that it would be better for him to take the extra five minutes to handle the call. I was listening to the call as well and she didn't want to be passed back to me either. But Daryl was lazy and didn't want to do it. He placed her on hold and demanded that I take the call. I looked him square in the eyes and told him "to do his job" and I left. He took the call (all about three minutes worth) and we pulled me aside and called me a for making him take the call. John got involved and I told John what had happened and that he should pull the tape (meaning he should listen to the recorded call) and that Daryl shouldn't have passed that call to me. John agreed with me and stuck up for me. Daryl was not happy and he tried to pin everything on me. That was until we knew about him and Miranda. Now I am not supporting blackmail of any type. All I did was ask him if my evaluation would also be held in his car too. And that put a stop to Daryl.

The job itself was not too bad. Most of the calls came from people complaining about a product or they had a suggestion or they wanted a recipe. We would fill out these tickets and refund money or send out coupons and send out recipes. Most of the people I spoke with were friendly and rarely did I get a bad call. John would often pull me off the phones and work the floor assisting my co-workers. Sometimes I would take supervisor calls as well. One thing that I did notice right away was that I would get the same phone call every morning of everyday. It comes through the Oscar Mayer line and the area code is Florida.

SALTY BACON!

I would get these old people calling that there bacon was too salty. Every day! It was like clockwork! I can mimic these old people perfectly. One time I was doing my old man salty bacon voice for Kristy's family and my nephew didn't like it. He covered my mouth and told me not to do it anymore. Joseph was about six years old at the time.

Our class was so successful that Kraft decided to expand our operations and we got a new class. I was asked to help out with training this new class and I quickly made some new friends. I got to know them pretty well.


The job was decent but I was feeling a little burned out and I wanted to do something different in my life and I made the decision to go back to school. I quit my job 10 days before Christmas and it was sad to move on. I made some good friends and I really liked my boss. But all good things have to come to an end. They gave me a small going away party and a nice card signed by all my friends.