Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

I've posted a review of Stephen King's new book, 11/22/63.

Honestly, it's probably the best thing he's ever written in his life. I was plesantly surprised.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Goodbye Grandpa

Last night we had the viewing for Grandpa Brunson, and nearly 300 people showed up to pay their respects. Even former Governor Bangerter, yes, the one the effed up highway is named after, came. He was the mission president in South Africa when my grandparents served thier senior mission about 12 years ago.

The funeral took place this morning and lasted almost two hours. They had eight children and all of them spoke. They also had the two oldest grandchildren, myself being the oldest boy, and my cousin Heidi who is the oldest girl do something. I spoke, and she did a lovely piano arrangement of my Grandpa's favorite church hymn that she had written herself.

My Grandpa fought with distinction in the Korean War, and he was given a military funeral even though it has been sixty years since his discharge, and it was very nice. His coffin was draped with an american flag, a bugler played taps over the gravsite, and a few guys from his old division folded the flag and gave it to my Grandma. There was no 21 gun salute, because he said tha Korea was the absolute worst time in his life and the last thing he wanted was men firing guns over his grave, but he got all the other military honors and that was pretty cool.

The world lost a great and loving man, and I will miss him greatly.

There is a song that he used to sing to his children, and all of his grandchildren and great grandchildren. If ever I have children of my own I hope to remember the words to it so that this wonderful song that I heard him sing all my life won't die with him. It's a bit of a morbid song to be singing children off to sleep with, but that was just his sense of humor.

Here are the words:

In the hills of Tennessee,
Sitting by the hickory tree,
Was an ornery rifle-shooting mountaineer.
Now this fellow loved to feud,
But he also loves good food,
So when he went home for dinner you would hear:

Pass the biscuits, Mirandy,
Pass them and tell me goodbye
Pass the biscuits, Mirandy,
I know they'll get me by and by.

Since nine o'clock, I've been sitting on a rock,
Shooting everone in sight.
I shot the Coys and a dozen Martin boys,
Shooting gives a man an appetite.

Pass the biscuits, Mirandy,
Pass them and tell me goodbye
Pass the biscuits, Mirandy,
I know they'll get me by and by.

Then they heard a rifle crack,
And a bullet hit the shack.
And another broke the dishes on the shelf.
So he grabbed his trusty gun, for the fight had just begun,
and he knew he would have to protect himself.

Pass the biscuits, Mirandy,
I'm gonna load up my gun.
I'll use your biscuits for bullets,
I'll put those varmints on the run!

So he poured a ton,
Of black powder in his gun,
Crammed the biscuits into place.
Took careful aim,
oh my golly, what a shame,
Bang! The gun blew up in his face!

Oh pass the bandages Mirandy,
Pass them and tell me goodbye.
Darn your biscuits Mirandy,
I knew they'd get me by and by.

We all sang it for him at the family dinner after the funeral. I made it through the whole day without crying, but the song got me in the end.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


After about the shortest bout with cancer in history My grandpa died this morning at the age of 83. As his oldest grandson I've been asked to speak at the funeral, and this is what I intend to say.

Long ago and far away, Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was asked how he measured the worth of a man. He replied saying this, “the worth of a man is a hard thing to judge. Surely it cannot be measured in worldly possessions, for he cannot take them with him when he dies. The size of his house, and the size of his coin purse mean little when he comes face to face with the Almighty. No, I think a better way of measuring a man’s worth is this. First, wait for him to shove off. Then count how many people attend his funeral. Furthermore, if you seek to find your own worth, simply mention how much money he owed you to his widow, and she will be more than happy to set you straight with a funeral of your own.”

Eight children. Dozens of grandchildren and great grandchildren. We’ve got Eagle Scouts, college graduates, returned missionaries, a whole range of different talents and skills. We are Grandpa’s legacy and I’d say that he was very wealthy indeed. He lived a long life as patriarch of our family, and accomplished far more by being the great example that he was than millions of dollars or any amount of fame could have given us.

Rather than sum up over eight decades of his life, the things he accomplished and the history he saw unfolding before his eyes, I’d like to share with you my memories of him. These are the things that stand out most vividly in my mind when I think of him.

When we were young, Sarah and I spent the summer in Sutter Creek. I don’t remember much of that summer—as it was over twenty years ago—but I do remember the drive across Nevada in Grandpa’s little truck with no air conditioning. The windows were rolled all the way down, and country music that was old when the world was young blasted through the stereo loud enough to be heard over the wind rushing by. He told us stories from his time in the army and other times of his life to keep us entertained during the twelve hour drive. I remember his truck was so old and beat up that there was a hole in the floor that I could see the road beneath us through. He said that truck was an old friend of his, despite the fact that it literally appeared to be falling apart around us. It got us there safe and sound, regardless. I don’t remember the heat of the Nevada deserts, or how cramped that little truck must have been with the three of us piled into it. I only remember that the time spent with him, and the stories he told to us during the trip that made it stand out in my memory for more than twenty years.

Several years later he asked me if I would like to hike up Timpanogus with him one Saturday. I thought he meant to the cave, and as I had never been, I excitedly agreed. Little did I know, he was talking about a hike to the top of the mountain and back. All eighteen miles or so of it. I remember beforehand that my mom told me to walk close behind him, so that when he had his heart attack on the way up I’d be there to catch him. But he was probably in better shape than I was, and made the climb up and back down with ease. There’s a little metal building at the very top of the mountain, and we sat nearby for lunch before heading back down. As we sat he handed me an article he’d clipped out of the newspaper. It was about how college graduates typically make double the amount of money as high school graduates. He counseled me that going to college was quite possibly the best thing I could ever do to ensure a prosperous future. I still have that bit of newspaper. It’s in a box in my closet with my college degree.

I remember the pride on his face the night I got my Eagle Scout award at the extremely young age of fourteen. I will admit that the biggest factor spurring me to get it so early on was that he promised me a hundred dollars if I ever became an Eagle Scout. Oh, I had plans for that money the moment he mentioned it to me, and I set to work to get it. I don’t even remember what I spent it on. Probably something stupid, but I do remember the look on his face as he handed it to me. It was the same expression he wore the night I was set apart as a missionary, and the night I came home from my mission, even though I was home a year early due to illness.

When He discovered that I was interested in Japanese History he told me all sorts of stories about when he was stationed in Japan with the Army. One, in particular, stands out in my mind. He and a buddy saw the moat around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo one day and thought it would be a great place to go fishing. So after it got dark they climbed the wall and spent the night fishing there. This, of course, is sacred land to the Japanese and even just ten years earlier they likely would have been executed for it, but when they were found the Imperial Guards simply told them to leave. Who can say they’ve fished in the moat around the Japanese Imperial Palace? Not many people I’d bet.

You were a great example to me. You were loved and you will be greatly missed. Though I know this is not truly goodbye, but more like ‘til we meet again, it does not make it much easier. God be with you ‘til we meet again.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Book review: The Fires Of Heaven

I've posted my Review of The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan on Goodreads if you feel the great urge to read it.

Also, I tacked on how I was able to figure out the burning question that has haunted many a Wheel of Time nerd since 1993 after reading this book for the first time. Who Killed Asmodean BWAAHAAHAA. If you feel like ubergeeking out over it, I'll tell you exactly who did it and how I know she did.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Adventures in McDonald's Ordering

So, today I was at McDonalds. Yes, I occasionally eat there even though the food is, quite frankly, not very good, and certainly not good for you. Mostly I go when I forget to pack myself a lunch for work, or am out of bread or something and didn't quite work up the motivation to get some more. Why McDonalds out of all the places, you ask? Well, that's easy, becaue they offer a 20% discount to all postal workers during the day if we show our postal ID, making their dollar menu the 80 cent menu instead, which is always a plus.

Anyway, I went inside because it's impossible to take a mail truck through the drive through, the driver side being on the wrong side and all. As I stood in line I decided to splurge and get a combo meal rather than stuff off of the dollar menu. When I got to the counter, the lady behind it, a mid-twenties blonde chick who is glaring like she means to bite the next person that talks to her asks me what I want. Exactly like that. "What do you want!"

What passes for food in the McDonalds universe, obviously, why else would I be there?

I told her that I wanted a number one combo and she looks like I just told her that she was ugly and smelled bad.

"WE do NOT have a number one combo," she snaped at me.

I pointed to the board behind her, to show her that they clearly do have a number one combo and I could actually see the flames of hatred begin burning in her eyes.

"We have a number one EXTRA VALUE MEAL," she practically screamed at me. "NOT a number one combo meal."

By this time I was getting sympathetic glances from other customers around the dining room. Obviously some of them had gotten the same lecture from her.

When I pulled out my postal ID for my discount she looked like she wanted to strangle me with it.

Ok... First of all. Extra Value Meal, Combo, what's the difference? They're just differet words for the same thing. She knew what I meant when I said combo, so I obviously communicated my desires to her in an understandable way. If you know what I mean, and there really isn't any difference between the words... why the anger? Seriously, you work at McDonalds lady, chill out, it's not the end of the freaking world if someone doesn't use the term Extra Value Meal. I mean, of all the things to flip out over, why choose that? Surely there are far more annoying things about working there to go nuclear over? It just seems completely irrational to me.

Second of all, I know that working behind a counter at a cash register with the stupidest people on earth standing in line in front of you is not the ideal career for generally anyone. Not being a people person myself, I know how aggravating other people can get, and I've had her job before. Oh it was behind the concession stand at a movie theater rather than a fast food joint, but it's basically the same thing. I hated each and every minute of it. But you know what? I can at least fake like I give a crap what those people have to say to me for the sake of keeping my job. Fake smiles are easy, fake cheerfulness is easy too. Pretending like you enjoy the most god-awful, demeaning, and most torturous job in the world is not a hard thing to do. I have years of experience doing it. So why the open hostility toward every customer in the entire place? Faking like you care is easy, maintining anger like that is hard. If you can't do it, find another line of work.

Third of all, where was her manager? Taking a nap? Seriously, she was hissing, growling and yelling loud enough to be heard through a locked office door. Actually, now that I think about it, the manager was likely hiding from her in fear for his life. Had I been the manager I'd have sent her home so as not to be responsible for anyone she kills, even if I had to work the counter myself to be rid of her. Her behavior is only hurting your business, and it's an extremely stupid business practie to just stand by and let her. Fire her or send her home and do her job yourself if need be, but get her out from behind that counter you incompetant weakling!

And finally, fourth. If something outside of work was affecting her mood to that degree why not ask to be excused, call in sick for the day, get someone to cover her shift, or do what I do, leave that crap at the door and do my job?

I've never encountered such hostility from someone in such an important customer service role. I was completely taken aback by it, and the more I sat there watching her scream at people, the more amused I became by it. Either she's trying to get fired, something bad happened to her earlier in the day, or she forgot to take her crazy pills today. I considered blowing her a kiss as I left, but figured I enjoy my balls right where they are and didn't feel much like having them ripped off today.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Review: Catching Fire

Finished the Second Hunger Games book and you can read my review on it here.