Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Three Finals Done: and all is well? (Civil Procedure)

I think I'm still shaking and it has almost been 48 hours since I finished . . . it.

I should have known this wasn't going to be a particularly wonderful week when someone was kind enough to slam into the side of my car in the middle of the night on Saturday and then take off without bothering to leave a note. I hope they rot! (bless their little hearts).

So Saturday I got to call the police and have someone come by to do a police report. I was at school when I called and they told me that I needed to go back home and meet the officer at the house so I left all my stuff there and pulled up at about the same time as the cop who asked me for my license and saw me stall for a good 30 seconds as I, in sheer panic, realized that I left that at the school as well. I don't know what it is but every time I see a cop I'm positive they're about to arrest me for something. Anyway, after we finished I went inside and waited for 20 minutes because the cop was just sitting in his car and I was terrified to get back in a drive as I was sure he was going to pull me over.

Then I spent the rest of Saturday and ALL of Monday preparing for Tuesday's final. Had I known what was coming, I don't think I would have bothered.

The test was not possible. It just wasn't. It was nothing like the practice tests we had done. We had 3 hours to complete it and I don't think I could have done it in 8 (and that's really not an exaggeration). I have never felt so dumb in all my life. Naturally about 80 minutes into the test I started to have a severe anxiety attack; my heart was pounding, I was sweaty, and I started to black out a little. I thought that that would be just terrible timing to pass out in the middle of my final but then I realized I was going to get the same grade whether I was conscious or not.

The good news is that the rest of the class seemed to feel the same. When the proctor called "time" at the end, a moan echoed through the room. It was painful moan. I looked around and saw one girl with tears streaming down her face. People were hugging. The mood was somber. You would have thought we had all been told that we just lost a family member if you just watched this. And it sounds quite funny now but at the time none of it seemed to be an overreaction in the slightest. I talked to one girl who told me that after the test she went into the restroom and there were 4 or 5 girls in there sobbing their eyes out. It's hard to explain how it all happened, but I think the test was somehow that emotionally draining on this group of very sleep-deprived people who had sacrificed their lives for the last several months to be completely ranked and evaluated based on their performance on a 3 hour test that was so convoluted that I think the professor himself couldn't have finished.

So naturally my entire class of 147 people spent the afternoon at the mall in a sad attempt to buy their happiness. I joined them a couple hours late after a 2 hour workout.

Sorry this post is so gloomy. I'm still struggling from severe emotional distress.

Now I have to go to bed so I can wake up early and try to cram a little more info into my burned-out brain for my final final tomorrow morning.

I still love law school. Which is a good thing since I'll probably be starting over when I fail out here in the next month or two~

It Just Gets Stranger~

Friday, December 12, 2008

Two Finals Done: and all is well (property)

Somehow I survived. And I know that this sounds like one of those things where you suddenly start feeling like you have whatever ailment you're discussing, but my left wrist is kind of hurting right now and I think I'm getting carpel tunnel. It's either that or my self-diagnosed luekemia that nobody seems to have been taking as seriously as me over the last 4 years.

I was at the library yesterday from before 7:00am until about 9:30pm. I never actually saw the sun. Just had my face in a book (one that happened to be horrifically boring; it was my property law case book) until blood was coming out of my eyes. Things of course are starting to get really scary at the law building; it's never a good idea to cram 148 people together who are all dealing with a whole new level of stress they've never encountered before which is directly proportional to the amount of work each of the other 147 people are doing. I've been called a lot of names, seen some scary looks, and at one point around 8:15pm I'm pretty sure one girl tried to throw a chair at me but failed miserably when she realized it was stuck between a table and a wall.

So this morning I woke up and wrote about easements and covenants and equitable servitudes for several hours until my brain was about to explode. The test actually went really well. I never thought I would say this, but I think property may end up being my best final (don't tell anyone you heard that; that would be social suicide).

After the test my friend Liz and I decided to go workout at the school gym, which was a good thing because I haven't lifted weights since before the war and my muscles have atrophied to the level of a nine-year-old girl with a rare blood disease you can only get from those monkey spiders they have in Brazil.

At the BYU gym they make you wear these school-issued t-shirts; a requirement to get in (I've never really been sure why); I don't complain because I'm just so thankful that the school-issued blue shorts are optional. I of course always consistently opt to wear my own shorts because I would wear a dress before even considering the option of touching anything like this. I'll never be able to fully explain what these shorts look like; I only have to pray that your imaginations will not lead you astray. They're tight, blue, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too short (and this is coming from a runner), and I'm pretty sure they were sown together by the Spanish Fork 4th ward relief society for one activity back in 1983 when a fireside speaker canceled last minute and they needed an idea fast (I've never been able to verify this however).

The shirts aren't too bad; they're gray and as long as you get one that fits you, you'll be fine. The problem is, the locker room isn't always consistent on giving you what you want. So today I walked up to the window to get a shirt and I asked for a small (the only sizes they have are "close enough", "way too big", "family sized", "Costco", "morbidly obese", and "shirt? Oh we thought we were making a parachute.")

Naturally I always say "small" hoping that they'll get me the "close enough." Sometimes I end up with the "way too big" which I cope with until cutting my workout short because I'm uncomfortable and I feel like a homeless man because the neck for some reason is big enough that the shirt falls off my shoulder if I bend to one side. I imagine this is due to someone sucking on it; you all remember that kid from the 4th grade who sucked on the collar of his t-shirts all day until it was stretched out enough that you couldn't tell which was the top and which was the bottom (If you were in the 4th grade with me, I was that kid; otherwise it was probably someone named Brad or Tyler).

But today, I knew it right when they threw it to me; today I got size "morbidly obese." This time they had gone too far.

Eli: Don't you have a small?
Locker Room: That's all we have!
Eli: Seriously? Can you check again?
Locker Room: The smalls are all dirty!
Eli: So what do you expect the normal sized people to do in the meantime?
Locker Room: Not my problem.
Eli: Well can I have a dirty one?
Locker Room: You can have what I gave you!
Eli: (Puppy dog eyes)
Locker Room: Do . . . you need anything else?
Eli: Have you got a sewing machine and some gray fabric? . . . and home-ec classes?

Now I don't think I would have been unreasonable to just give the shirt back and call it a day but I did at least try it on. Oh man. If you had only been there. The shirt covered my shorts. And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it had a huge hole in the back.

So now I had a problem because I couldn't go up to the weight room like this but I came with a friend from school and I was her ride so I couldn't just leave either. I quickly ran through about 12 friends in my head and tried to imagine what each of them would do and I figured that only about 3 of those would have just sucked it up and worn the shirt (I was very selective in choosing the 12; Alyssa, you were among the 9 that would have refused. Congratulations). Eventually I ran to another building on campus that has a locker room and found someone to trade me (that was another big ol' mess but somehow I ended up with a small in the end, 25 minutes after getting the first shirt).

Now I just have two finals to go. The next one is the hardest and it's on Tuesday.

Have a good weekend everyone! Don't do anything I wouldn't do (trust me, that doesn't limit you much).

It just gets stranger~

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One Final Done: and all is well (Torts)

I didn't sleep-in like we all guessed I probably would and I finished my first final today. It was 3 hours long and really stressful (for this I'm attributing the 5 cups of mashed potatoes and packet of gravy I just downed like cough syrup among the rest of my dinner only a few hours after the large lunch I had this afternoon).

The test didn't go completely sans drama unfortunately and about 90 minutes after the proctor told the class that she had two blue books at the front of the room to write in in case a computer crashed "but don't worry about it because in the four years I've done this I've NEVER seen a computer crash during a test," tragedy struck. I got the "blue screen of death" right in the middle of a sentence about products liability (one that wasn't that good anyway) and within 10 seconds I had developed ulcers, pancreatic cancer, the entire alphabet of the hepatitisies, tuberculosis, chlamydia, 12 cold sores, 30 canker sores that ended up merging in to 1 when they ran out of room, and hypersensitive disorder of the lower urinary tract, thus proving that worrying moms across the globe are correct in swearing that every ailment east or west of the Nile is probably due to stress. As my computer started to reboot itself, I wondered if I should go get the last remaining blue book from the front of the room and start handwriting my exam (my friend Corey had taken the other one when her computer decided at the beginning of the test that it was a perfect time to run all 50,000 Windows updates that it very maliciously seemed to be saving up over the last 4 months). I then had the following conversation in my head:

Eli: I should go get that last blue book.
Eli: No, it's the last one. If your computer starts working and someone else needs one you'll feel bad.
Eli: I shouldn't be thinking about other people right now.
Eli: Plus I don't want to have to climb over people to get up to the front of the room.
Eli: That girl's bag looks like an old potato sack.
Eli: Yeah it totally does. Plus I think she's worn those sweat-pants every day this week.
Eli: Mashed potatoes sound really good right now. I think I'll make some when I get home.
Eli: Wait; focus; computer problem; what am I going to do?
Eli: Well if it doesn't start in 10 seconds, go get the blue book.
Eli: OK that sounds good. And I can put garlic in the mashed potatoes--that's all I'm going to say!
Eli: OK--1, 2, 3, --oh and I have mozzarella cheese!--OK 4-5-6-, 7, 8-

Then the computer started back up and had miraculously saved all of my typing except for the last sentence which I told you wasn't any good anyway. I only lost about 3 minutes in the process and I didn't feel too bad about that because for about the last 6 minutes of the test I just retyped the same thing over and over in different words anyway because I ran out of things to say but couldn't seem to stop typing as I was determined to single-handedly in one sitting develop carpel tunnel to accompany the rest of my stress-induced diseases previously mentioned.

Now I'm preparing for my next test which will be Friday morning. On an unrelated note, if any of you happen to be experts on property law, don't hesitate to call me tomorrow and explain everything that I should have learned in the last 4 months that for reasons unknown I seem to have missed.

Thanks for all your prayers (I assume you've had me in your prayers--you seem to be that kind of people). I love you all and hope things are just getting stranger for you~

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Finals Are Coming: Hide Your Children!

I would appreciate it if you all called me every day or two for the next couple of weeks to make sure I'm still alive. I hereby formally and preemptively apologize if when you do call I do nothing other than drone on through slurred speech about property law and subject matter jurisdiction. I never intended to become obsessive about school but at least for the next two weeks I think I'll be letting it consume my being. As a result, I'm of course living sans a social life right now. Or maybe I'm obsessed with school because I don't have a social life. . . well, either way, things are about to get scary.

I love you all . . .

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

McDonald's' Coffee: The Other Side of the Story

Have you ever sat around with your friends and talked about that sue happy maniac that got over 2 million dollars from McDonalds for spilling coffee on herself? Have you ever actually read the facts of that case? Did you know that this was an 81 year old woman who had never sued anyone before and didn't want to sue McDonald's but felt she had to when they refused to help her cover $800 in medical costs that she couldn't afford when she had to get multiple skin grafts from the severe 3rd degree burns from the coffee that McDonald's had been warned many many times before was dangerously hot and could eventually kill someone? Would you have felt any differently if this was your grandma who wanted to peacefully settle for a more than reasonable amount but was jerked around constantly by this giant company through emotionally draining litigation for years? I have only scraped the surface of how egregious this is; Below I have pasted an article that details the case. You may find it interesting . . .

McDonald's, known for its fastidious control over franchisees, requires that its coffee be prepared at very high temperatures, based on recommendations of coffee consultants and industry groups that say hot temperatures are necessary to fully extract the flavor during brewing. Before trial, McDonald's gave the opposing lawyer its operations and training manual, which says its coffee must be brewed at 195 to 205 degrees and held at 180 to 190 degrees for optimal taste. Since the verdict, McDonald's has declined to offer any comment, as have their attorneys. It is unclear if the company, whose coffee cups warn drinkers that the contents are hot, plans to change its preparation procedures.

Coffee temperature is suddenly a hot topic in the industry. The Specialty Coffee Association of America has put coffee safety on the agenda of its quarterly board meeting this month. And a spokesman for Dunkin' Donuts Inc., which sells about 500 million cups of coffee a year, says the company is looking at the verdict to see if it needs to make any changes to the way it makes coffee.

Others call it a tempest in a coffeepot. A spokesman for the National Coffee Association says McDonald's coffee conforms to industry temperature standards. And a spokesman for Mr. Coffee Inc., the coffee-machine maker, says that if customer complaints are any indication, industry settings may be too low -- some customers like it hotter. A spokeswoman for Starbucks Coffee Co. adds, "Coffee is traditionally a hot beverage and is served hot and I would hope that this is an isolated incident."

Coffee connoisseur William McAlpin, an importer and wholesaler in Bar Harbor, Maine, who owns a coffee plantation in Costa Rica, says 175 degrees is "probably the optimum temperature, because that's when aromatics are being released. Once the aromas get in your palate, that is a large part of what makes the coffee a pleasure to drink."

Public opinion is squarely on the side of McDonald's. Polls have shown a large majority of Americans -- including many who typically support the little guy -- to be outraged at the verdict. And radio talk-show hosts around the country have lambasted the plaintiff, her attorneys and the jurors on air. Declining to be interviewed for this story, one juror explained that he already had received angry calls from citizens around the country.

It's a reaction that many of the jurors could have understood -- before they heard the evidence. At the beginning of the trial, jury foreman Jerry Goens says he "wasn't convinced as to why I needed to be there to settle a coffee spill."

At that point, Mr. Goens and the other jurors knew only the basic facts: that two years earlier, Stella Liebeck had bought a 49-cent cup of coffee at the drive-in window of an Albuquerque McDonald's, and while removing the lid to add cream and sugar had spilled it, causing third-degree burns of the groin, inner thighs and buttocks. Her suit, filed in state court in Albuquerque, claimed the coffee was "defective" because it was so hot.

What the jury didn't realize initially was the severity of her burns. Told during the trial of Mrs. Liebeck's seven days in the hospital and of her skin grafts, and shown gruesome photographs, jurors began taking the matter more seriously. "It made me come home and tell my wife and daughters don't drink coffee in the car, at least not hot," says juror Jack Elliott.

Even more eye-opening was the revelation that McDonald's had seen such injuries many times before. Company documents showed that in the past decade McDonald's had received at least 700 reports of coffee burns ranging from mild to third degree, and had settled claims arising from scalding injuries for more than $500,000.

Some observers wonder why McDonald's, after years of settling coffee-burn cases, chose to take this one to trial. After all, the plaintiff was a sympathetic figure -- an articulate, 81-year-old former department store clerk who said under oath that she had never filed suit before. In fact, she said, she never would have filed this one if McDonald's hadn't dismissed her request for compensation for pain and medical bills with an offer of $800.

Then there was the matter of Mrs. Liebeck's attorney. While recuperating from her injuries in the Santa Fe home of her daughter, Mrs. Liebeck happened to meet a pair of Texas transplants familiar with a Houston attorney who had handled a 1986 hot-coffee lawsuit against McDonald's. His name was Reed Morgan, and ever since he had deeply believed that McDonald's coffee is too hot.

For that case, involving a Houston woman with third-degree burns, Mr. Morgan had the temperature of coffee taken at 18 restaurants such as Dairy Queen, Wendy's and Dunkin' Donuts, and at 20 McDonald's restaurants. McDonald's, his investigator found, accounted for nine of the 12 hottest readings. Also for that case, Mr. Morgan deposed Christopher Appleton, a McDonald's quality assurance manager, who said "he was aware of this risk . . . and had no plans to turn down the heat," according to Mr. Morgan. McDonald's settled that case for $27,500.

Now, plotting Mrs. Liebeck's case, Mr. Morgan planned to introduce photographs of his previous client's injuries and those of a California woman who suffered second- and third-degree burns after a McDonald's employee spilled hot coffee into her vehicle in 1990, a case that was settled out of court for $230,000.

Tracy McGee of Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin & Robb, the lawyers for McDonald's, strenuously objected. "First-person accounts by sundry women whose nether regions have been scorched by McDonald's coffee might well be worthy of Oprah," she wrote in a motion to state court Judge Robert Scott. "But they have no place in a court of law." Judge Scott did not allow the photographs nor the women's testimony into evidence, but said Mr. Morgan could mention the cases.

As the trial date approached, McDonald's declined to settle. At one point, Mr. Morgan says he offered to drop the case for $300,000, and was willing to accept half that amount. But McDonald's didn't bite.

Only days before the trial, Judge Scott ordered both sides to attend a mediation session. The mediator, a retired judge, recommended that McDonald's settle for $225,000, saying a jury would be likely to award that amount. The company didn't follow his recommendation.

Instead, McDonald's continued denying any liability for Mrs. Liebeck's burns. The company suggested that she may have contributed to her injuries by holding the cup between her legs and not removing her clothing immediately. And it also argued that "Mrs. Liebeck's age may have caused her injuries to have been worse than they might have been in a younger individual," since older skin is thinner and more vulnerable to injury.

The trial lasted seven sometimes mind-numbing days. Experts dueled over the temperature at which coffee causes burns. A scientist testifying for McDonald's argued that any coffee hotter than 130 degrees could produce third-degree burns, so it didn't matter whether McDonald's coffee was hotter. But a doctor testifying on behalf of Mrs. Liebeck argued that lowering the serving temperature to about 160 degrees could make a big difference, because it takes less than three seconds to produce a third-degree burn at 190 degrees, about 12 to 15 seconds at 180 degrees and about 20 seconds at 160 degrees.

The testimony of Mr. Appleton, the McDonald's executive, didn't help the company, jurors said later. He testified that McDonald's knew its coffee sometimes caused serious burns, but hadn't consulted burn experts about it. He also testified that McDonald's had decided not to warn customers about the possibility of severe burns, even though most people wouldn't think it possible. Finally, he testified that McDonald's didn't intend to change any of its coffee policies or procedures, saying, "There are more serious dangers in restaurants."

Mr. Elliott, the juror, says he began to realize that the case was about "callous disregard for the safety of the people."

Next for the defense came P. Robert Knaff, a human-factors engineer who earned $15,000 in fees from the case and who, several jurors said later, didn't help McDonald's either. Dr. Knaff told the jury that hot-coffee burns were statistically insignificant when compared to the billion cups of coffee McDonald's sells annually.

To jurors, Dr. Knaff seemed to be saying that the graphic photos they had seen of Mrs. Liebeck's burns didn't matter because they were rare. "There was a person behind every number and I don't think the corporation was attaching enough importance to that," says juror Betty Farnham.

When the panel reached the jury room, it swiftly arrived at the conclusion that McDonald's was liable. "The facts were so overwhelmingly against the company," says Ms. Farnham. "They were not taking care of their consumers."

Then the six men and six women decided on compensatory damages of $200,000, which they reduced to $160,000 after determining that 20% of the fault belonged with Mrs. Liebeck for spilling the coffee.

The jury then found that McDonald's had engaged in willful, reckless, malicious or wanton conduct, the basis for punitive damages. Mr. Morgan had suggested penalizing McDonald's the equivalent of one to two days of companywide coffee sales, which he estimated at $1.35 million a day. During the four-hour deliberation, a few jurors unsuccessfully argued for as much as $9.6 million in punitive damages. But in the end, the jury settled on $2.7 million. McDonald's has since asked the judge for a new trial. Judge Scott has asked both sides to meet with a mediator to discuss settling the case before he rules on McDonald's request. The judge also has the authority to disregard the jury's finding or decrease the amount of damages.

One day after the verdict, a local reporter tested the coffee at the McDonald's that had served Mrs. Liebeck and found it to be a comparatively cool 158 degrees. But industry officials say they doubt that this signals any companywide change. After all, in a series of focus groups last year, customers who buy McDonald's coffee at least weekly say that "morning coffee has minimal taste requirements, but must be hot," to the point of steaming.

Credit: Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tech "Support"

This one is for all of you who have ever called tech support. Or customer service numbers for that matter.
I had quite the fantastic experience this week which I will painstakingly detail for you now in a minute-by-minute recap. Prepare to be amazed . . .
1:45: I realized that my power cord for my laptop (which I'm disturbingly addicted to by the way--one day they'll have to surgically remove this thing from my hands), had stopped working for reasons unknown. My laptop is under warranty (and it's pretty new) so I went up to the tech support office in the law building who promised that if there was any problem with our computers they would immediately take care of us if we bought the kind of computer they told us to buy at the beginning of the school year. I fell for it of course and bought the computer they told me I "just had to have!" When I approached the law school tech support to ask them about my problem, none of them made eye contact with me and one of them eventually told me that there was nothing they could do so I would just have to call Dell.
1:52: I got the phone number from another student who overheard me complaining and apparently had the same problem recently.
1:55: I sat down to call Dell and got someone named Austin on the phone. I generally really try to see the good in people and always try to remain polite on the phone no matter who I'm talking to. So now all my credibility will go out the window when I tell you that I discovered that Austin may be the dumbest living organism to EVER be employed by ANY company that has EVER been in existence since the beginning of time and maybe even beyond.
Austin: Hello sir and thank you for calling Dell. Can I get your phone number?
Eli: Sure. It's 801-123-4567
Austin: OK so that's 578-1121?
Eli: . . . no . . . 801-123-4567 . . .
Austin: OK thank you and can I get your address?
Eli: Could you repeat my phone number again for me so I know you got it?
Austin: . . . um. . . 71-34
Eli: OK, you are asking for my phone number right?
Austin: Yes sir. Now may I have your address.
Eli: First I would like for you to get my phone number correctly. 801-123-4567
Austin: OK thank you and your address?
Eli: What's my phone number Austin?
Austin: OK thank you and your address please?
Austin: And what's your problem today sir?
Eli: Well my power cord has stopped working and I need you to send me a new one.
Austin: OK sir so your computer is broken?
Eli: No my computer is fine. My power cord has stopped working.
Austin: OK sir. Can you please explain to me how you know the power cord is not working?
Eli: . . . I plug it in . . . and it doesn't work.
Austin: OK sir. So do I understand correctly that your computer is broken?
Eli: No . . . my power cord is not working.
Austin: Sir, how do you know it's your power cord.
Eli: Because the power cord doesn't work when I plug it in. I tested my computer with other power cords and it works fine with others.
Austin: OK sir. Do you think the problem may be with the power cord?
Eli: Yes
Austin: OK sir. Do you think the problem may be with the power cord?
Eli: Still yes.
Austin: OK sir. So your computer is broken?
Eli: . . . no . . . my computer is fine. I have a problem with my power cord.
Austin: OK sir. How do you know the problem is with the power cord?
Eli: . . . seriously?
Austin: OK sir. I will put you on hold for 5 minutes but probably 2 or 3 and I will find help for you but I will put you on hold for 3 minutes but I'm going to put you on hold now.
Eli: OK
Austin: but I'm going to put you on hold now.
Eli: OK
Austin: to help you. Probably 4 minutes OK?
Eli: OK
Austin: OK I'm going to put you on hold now.
Eli: I know!
Austin: OK just for 2 minutes. OK?
Eli: . . .
2:10-2:20: On Hold
Repeat the conversation from 2:00-2:10 EXACTLY but this time add a lot more irritation in my voice.
I give the address for the law school and ask them to send the power cord there. Then Austin explains 5 times that I need to send back the faulty cord when I get the new one. Austin asks another 6 times (I'm really not kidding on this one) if the problem is with the cord and how I know the problem is with the cord.
Austin: OK you should see that cord in a week or two.
Eli: Can't you send it faster?
Austin: OK you should see that cord in a week or two.
Eli: . . . What do you suggest I do until then?
Austin: Use your battery.
Eli: OK I have two hours left on my battery. That's not really going to last me for a couple of weeks.
Austin: Well you shouldn't have broken your computer. (For this I officially award Austin the tech guy the "tellin' like it is award.")
Eli: . . . Well you shouldn't have sent me a faulty product! Perhaps I should go advertise that Dell makes crappy merchandise.
Austin: OK you should see that cord in one day.
Eli: Thanks.
Austin calls my cell FOUR times while I sit in on the last 13 minutes of class that are left. Each time he leaves a message. Each message says the exact same thing almost word for word: Another reminder to send back the faulty cord when I get the new one and then another question about whether I'm sure it's the cord and how I know something is wrong (as if I was on the phone with him to answer the question).
Austin calls AGAIN and I answer this time.
Austin: I was just calling to ask you if you're sure the problem is with the cord and ask you how you know it isn't working.
Eli: ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!!!????
Austin: I'm sorry sir. Did I catch you at a bad time?
Eli: Listen Austin, I know we really hit it off on the phone before but I'm really not interested in maintaining this relationship if we have to talk on the phone this much.
Austin: . . . Sir I'm calling to remind you to send back the faulty cord when-
Eli: I KNOW!!!!!!! AAAAAHHHHH!!!!
Austin: Also sir, I looked at the address you gave and it can't possibly be correct because there is no street name here.
(I explain that the address is correct and not to worry about it).
Austin's supervisor calls me.
Allen: Hi Eli; I'm just calling to tell you that your order was cancelled because you gave us a fake address.
Eli: You have GOT to be kidding me!!!
Allen: Perhaps you could give us a real address and we'll consider resetting your order.
Eli: Allen, could you do something for me? Pull out the hierarchy list at your company, find your name, count about 13 people up from there and transfer me to that person. I know it's a long shot but I'm bound to find someone there that has the ability to help me without giving me an ulcer.
Allen: I understand you are getting frustrated. Perhaps you could just give me the correct address.
Eli: Allen, I gave you the correct address. That is all. Send the &$#% package.
Allen: OK but if there waaaas another address, what would it be?
Eli: Hmmm. . . lets see (I give him the same address).
Allen: I don't think the FedEx guy will find this address.
Eli: We're done here.
I received the package first thing in the morning. And yes, I remembered to send back the faulty product.
~It Just Gets Stranger

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Standing Against Stones & Arrows

I thought I would share some thoughts I've had recently. My church has recently been under a lot of attack for the support which many members of my church provided in passing proposition 8 in California last week. I am LDS (a Mormon) and over the past few months, many members of my church did a lot of work in California to garner support for the proposition amid a lot of opposition. Interestingly, the attacks toward the church have generally involved accusations of hate. While I can understand that it is common and justified to feel very strongly when someone disagrees with you, I am sad that support for a value has to be construed as hate. I have tried to see both sides of the issue, and I believe that the arguments on both sides are good, and often grounded in love. And I wish that that was the focus. The truth is, I don't hate anyone who disagrees with me on any issue. I simply disagree. So I'll vote one way and stand up for what I believe in, fully expecting the opposing side to stand up for what they believe in. I don't assume they hate me because they disagree (although they may) and I hope that my vote doesn't have to be seen as hate either. Nonetheless, I can't control that; I can only let my voice be heard and pray that any issue can be discussed civilly and respectfully.

Attacks on the church are nothing new. For thousands of years people who have tried to live virtuous lives, to improve themselves and serve others, have been mistreated and despised. Often this poor treatment is against those who truly do live lives of hate under the guise of spirituality, corrupting pure principles and causing pain and sorrow to others. For this it can often be easy for the world to attack religion as a whole and paint it with a very dark face, blaming it for the world's sorrow. Unfortunately, those who really do try through their faith in God to make the world a better place are often on the receiving end of violent persecution as well. My church specifically saw a lot of this in the 19th century as its generally peaceful members were beaten, pushed, and in many cases murdered simply for believing in God in a different way than the world was used to. They weren't hurting anyone. They were just trying to find a way to come closer to God; to serve others; to make lives happier--and not just theirs; generally, they were just trying to find a way to make the world a better place for any who would allow them to. Since then, the church has grown despite its demanding nature. Millions upon millions of people are kinder to their neighbor because of the church. Their lives are less complicated because of the true and tested principles the church teaches. People who felt they had no chance to be happy in this life before finding the church are happier than they ever could have been.

As I was thinking about the protests and genuine meanness that is being thrown in the face of the church now, I thought about one story in The Book of Mormon. There was a man 2,000 years ago that decided he wanted to help anyone who would let him. His name was Samuel and he went to a very corrupt city and stood upon a wall and began talking to the people about what it means to be truly happy. He talked about being kind and having faith in God. He talked about things we could all benefit from today. Some of the people listened to him and dramatically changed their lives for the better. Many hated him for what he said. They hated him because he disagreed with them. I imagine they assumed that because he believed differently than they did that he must have hated them; this could not have been further from the truth however, as his message was to love all men, no matter what they do.

The most interesting thing about Samuel's story for me is that even as the people began to throw stones and shoot arrows at him, he stayed on that wall and stood for what he believed in. And because he stood firm "the spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows." And when the people saw that he couldn't be hurt, many more listened to his words.

We too, when faced with seemingly insurmountable opposition when the adversary slings its figurative stones and arrows at us for standing for something that may not be popular, will be blessed with the spirit of the Lord even so that we cannot be hit. And in a world that seems to be lacking in people that will stand firm for their principles, there's no telling what kind of work that example will do.

I'm proud to be a Mormon. I'm proud to be a member of a church that has stood firm for its principles. I'm proud to be a member of a church that focuses on and really teaches what it means to be Christlike in our dealings with our neighbors and family. And against all the opposition in the world, I hope to always stand firm for those principles, even if I'm the last person on Earth who will.

I love you all and I hope things are just getting stranger for you~

Saturday, November 8, 2008

IM Convo #2

~The following was my IM convo with Krishelle while we were at work today, explaining my strange dream last night that is probably the result of too much school this week. . .

McCann, Eli W. says:
I had a long dream last night that you got fired for removing holds

McCann, Krishelle says:
I wish

McCann, Krishelle says:
sort of

McCann, Krishelle says:
that's really funny

McCann, Eli W. says:
So we had to go to court and I had to prepare the case and Krisanda and all the kids came to be witnesses.

McCann, Krishelle says:
oh no

McCann, Eli W. says:
and my old roommates too

McCann, Krishelle says:
did we win?

McCann, Eli W. says:
well the judge had a long black mullet and the jury seemed shady

McCann, Krishelle says:
and why would we have to go to court?

McCann, Eli W. says:
because we were suing the bank for firing you for shady reasons

McCann, Krishelle says:
oh I see...

McCann, Eli W. says:
because under the standard of a reasonable person, the checks should have been made available

McCann, Krishelle says:
that was our argument?

McCann, Eli W. says:
It was so weird. but I woke up and thought that was real

McCann, Krishelle says:
I love it

McCann, Eli W. says:
Yeah I got up in my opening argument and said "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present for you today the sad sad tale of a girl who was just trying to do her job. A girl who was oppressed by the system. A system of hate and discrimination. One which not only doesn't value the actions of a reasonable person, but smears that person with pernicious lies and deception!"

McCann, Krishelle says:
that opening argument is hilarious

McCann, Eli W. says:
Can I go home?

McCann, Krishelle says:
oh me too?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I KNOW I'm Losing It

It's 11:00 PM and I just got home from school and I thought I would share with you something that I just did that should give you an idea of what is happening to my head lately: I started getting undressed at school. Let me explain . . .

I got up this morning before 6:00 and I've been at school working non-stop all day. I had some mock interviews I had to participate in tonight so I was in my shnazzy three-piece-suit. After the interviews my study group and I gathered for the 3,000th time today to spend a few more hours going over some material for tomorrow.

At about 10:40, after a few very intense hours, we decided to call it quits for a few hours so everyone could go home and sleep. As we got up and started packing all of our books and laptops, I started getting undressed as if I was at home getting ready for bed. I can't explain what was happening and I know it sounds crazy but I was simply not thinking about it. So I took off my jacket, vest, and tie and I kicked off my shoes. I unbuttoned my shirt and got most of the way down when someone asked a general question about our schedule tomorrow and I sort of snapped back into it and realized that I wasn't home yet. I thought about just covering it up because it seemed like nobody had noticed what had happened until someone looked over, gave me a weird look, and cautiously asked what I was doing. The really sad thing is that when I told everyone that I thought I was home so I started getting undressed, nobody acted like that was such a weird thing (all of our brains are gone). After a few moments I think we all sort of realized how crazy it was and we had a good laugh after that.

But really, what is wrong with me? I'm going crazy. That's what's wrong.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pretty Odd

Diana tagged me (I always enjoy these things) so here I go . . .

1. Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules.
2. Share seven random or weird facts about myself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of my post with their links.
4. Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I never had an imaginary friend as I child; I had an imaginary enemy. His name was Monty and he looked exactly like me. Every day he and I would have adventures that started in the morning when I woke up and usually climaxed and ended sometime around 5:00PM. I always came out victorious.

2. It usually takes me a couple of hours to fall asleep. Even when I do fall asleep, the slightest sounds can wake me back up. I spend a lot of nights awake in bed reliving conversations.

3. I have a really hard time taming my motions in arguments, especially if they are about politics or church. I find myself getting really worked up and then I can't seem to get the argument out of my mind for a few days. Because of this, I tend to not let myself get into arguments very often in the first place unless I feel really compelled. This has lead a lot of people at school to believe that I'm a very tame person.

4. I have a long scar from my wrist to my elbow from a time when I was 6 and I jumped off a swing set at Mandy Williams' house and got caught by a screw. Sometimes I think it's gone away but then several months later it will re-emerge.

5. When I play the guitar, I like to pretend that I wrote whatever song I'm playing and this is the first time it's ever been performed. I do the same when I play the piano. This is to make up for my lack of ability to write my own music.

6. Every Thanksgiving morning my friends and I get up early and go for a run on a trail about 20 minutes from my parents' house. Besides the 2 years I was in Ukraine, I've done this every Thanksgiving since I was 14. We used to have a large group but this year it will probably be just 2 or 3 of us.

7. My whole life I've had a recurring nightmare about a plane crash--but I've never been in the plane. I'm always in the building that the plane crashes into. As a small child this dream TERRIFIED me. I remember many times having mini-anxiety attacks when I would hear a plane up above that sounded louder than usual. Because of this I had an extreme fear of airports and of flying for many years. That fear has been decreased substantially but I still get pretty anxious whenever I fly anywhere. Uncle Will and Krishelle probably still have welts on their arms from my fingernails during a very turbulent flight over Colorado last December when we were coming back from Costa Rica.

I can't remember who has done this recently so I'll cheat and tag everyone who hasn't had the chance yet:)

~It Just Gets Stranger

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The 30 Page Ballot

After tragically getting rejected at the voting booth two days ago, I decided today that it was probably inspired as I haven't really checked out any of the issues I would be voting on and the only thing I was sure about was my choice of presidential candidate which I've been pretty solid on for several months now. I guess the rejection will probably require some explanation: When I tried to register to vote I forgot to sign the form so about 2 months later it was sent back to me in the mail (I have no idea why it took 2 months to get rejected but I'm sure it has to do with some pernicious scandal). By the time I got it in the mail it was like the last day to register so I had to run it down to the Provo city building and turn it in in person. Well it turns out that you can't vote early if you registered late so after driving all the way down to the voting station and standing in a long line (ok the voting station is a 3 minute drive and there were only 4 people in line), I was told I can't vote until election day. I was mostly bummed because I really wanted an "I voted today!" sticker but they wouldn't give me one because apparently those things are a hot commodity that scream "VIP" so they don't just give those out to voter rejects. (Consequently I asked for an "I tried to vote today but I got rejected because I was too flaky to register on time" sticker and the girl did NOT think that was funny).

I was so excited to vote because I've never participated in a presidential election and I feel like I've put WAY too much time and brain power into studying this thing out over the last 12 or so months (sometimes bordering on obsession . . . ok always bordering on obsession) to not vote. Plus I feel it's an honor to get to vote and I'm doing my patriotic duty by engaging in the system even if I'm not overly thrilled about any candidate. Now to answer all of your disgusted gasps when you learned that I've never voted before: during the last election I was on my mission on the other side of the world. Yes I could have gotten an absentee ballot but I hadn't been in the states for a year and a half and my mind was far from politics at that time. I didn't even know who was running against the incumbent and by the time I realized it was election time it was too late anyway. The election before that one I was too young to vote (yes I'm a baby).

So today I decided, despite DESPERATELY needing to study, to get online and check out what I was going to be voting for. What I saw invoked emotions in me that I didn't even know existed. Let us begin:

Presidential Candidates:
After reading through all 65 names of candidates that I had never heard of, I was already feeling a bit ignorant of the whole process. You know what I'm talking about; these are the candidates that have a nickname in quotation marks next to their real name as if the nickname will somehow manipulate enough people into thinking that they know this person so they might as well vote for them (Example: Dale Bardene--"Dale the Rockstar!", Peter Barthollondecker--"Pistol Pete, the one-eye treat"). So by the time you get past all the "nickname candidates" the next set start to look pretty legit. The next set are the people who knew their name was diverse enough sounding to get a few votes so they got someone else to run with them who had the same quality. There are 7 or 8 of these (Example: Sergei Littlefoot Tonga and Maria Sayeed Johanson). You will be tempted to vote for one of these candidates in order to make yourself feel exotic. Then you get to the perennials; you know their names because they've somehow made it onto every ballot for every election in every state at every level for the last 30+ years, as if eventually the entire nation will freak out and elect them out of pity. Ralph Nader will always be found somewhere in this section; I believe even after he's dead they'll still accidentally put his name on the ballot out of habit. Then you get to Bob Barr and you almost vote for him because of how fun it is to say his name. Then you remember his campaign commercial which provoked no strong emotions in you other than the desire to play canasta and eat Cornflakes while talking about the good old days. By this time you've got to the only candidates that you're really familiar with (enough to dislike wholeheartedly) so you pick the less crappy of the two because you can't look at the other's name without wincing; or you'll write in Ron Paul on your way out to start your revolution because you're positive that 75% of the country is as addicted to him as you are because he got 110% on the latest Youtube poll.

Wait, Utah has a constitution? Well it must not be a good one because this ballot has 12 pages of proposed amendments. Each amendment has pages and pages of explanations that you'll never fully study out. You'll just vote "yes" or "no" based on what kind of a mood you're in that day. Or you might do an every other thing or whichever pattern you choose. Nonetheless, if you're under the age of 75 you won't have studied these out as efficiently as you should have, whether you want to admit it or not. I read up on most of them today and finally just assumed that politicians created them to make their jobs easier, something I'm not really interested in supporting as I'm not a huge fan of politicians right now. I'll likely vote "no" down the board so I feel like I'm sticking it to someone. (By the way, one amendment had to do with starting sessions a few weeks later so "people" could enjoy MLK weekend more without having to go back to work on Tuesday. So is the amendment going to let me have the week or two after MLK day off as well?).

You despise the governor but you'll vote for him anyway because you don't want to vote for that whack-job that used to sell computers on TV. But you'll still complain about him and his creepy fake smile for the next 4 years.

The Rest:
I won't bore you with detailed descriptions of everything else on the ballot, mostly because it's all really the same. More people you've never heard of. Some people you have heard of and start to vote for but then realize their name is only familiar because you've driven past their overly large sign every day for 2 months and wondered what the heck it was for. You'll vote for your party on this one.

By the time you're ready to leave, you want that sticker; not because it looks nice; not because you just want it for your scrap book; it's because you feel like you just took a grueling test that you didn't study enough for which was probably irrelevant as there are no right answers anyway and you want some kind of gold star or recognition for doing it. And you'll wear that sticker proudly.

Well I better cut it off here. I've offended all 2 of you that are reading this (thanks mom and dad). I think I'll study up a little more on "Pistol Pete" and Bob Barr; there may be something promising there.

For your information and my validation, here's a link of everyone up for election: See if you can pick out my favorite nickname candidate (hint: he's under "Utah Constitutional Offices").

By the way, I'm officially awarding myself the "Tellin' It Like It Is Award" for this post.

I'm a sarcastic sap, and I approve this message~

~It Just Gets Stranger

Monday, October 27, 2008

11 Moscovian Facts

I absolutely should be studying right now but instead I'll take a moment to pleasure you with some interesting facts about Moscow (thanks Wikipedia!) as I, quite understandably, can't seem to think of much else today:)

1. Moscow is the largest city in all of Europe.

2. The warmest temperature ever recorded in Moscow was 98 degrees; this was in 1936.

3. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Moscow was 44 degrees below 0. This was in 1940. Thank heavens I wasn't around that year.

4. The average high temperature in Moscow in May (when I'll arrive) is only 65 degrees.

5. Moscow has been rated the most expensive city to live in for a foreigner for 2 years in a row now :(

6. Izmaylovskiy Park in Moscow is 6 times larger than Central Park in New York City.

7. The Moscow metro has the longest escalators in Europe (I can't wait to see that as the escalators in the metro in Kyiv already seemed impossibly long).

8. On December 20th the sun doesn't rise in Moscow until 9:00 AM and sets at 3:58 giving Moscow less than 7 hours of daylight on its shortest days.

9. On June 20th the sun rises at 4:44 AM in Moscow and doesn't set until 10:18PM giving Moscow over 17 and 1/2 hours of direct sunlight on it's longest days.

10. Nobody has a very good guess as to the population of Moscow. Census records show that there are 12 million legal residents but most assume the real number is much much higher.

11. The famous Orthodox church with the onion domes which I posted a picture of in my previous post was built in the 16th century.

Yay! Who wants to come with me? (Don't worry, I'm NOT going in December).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Slip Slidin' Away

It's been a big year so far and with just over two months remaining I fully anticipate it to go out with a bang. It hasn't been all fun and games--it's actually been a pretty hard year for me in a lot of ways--but I can say it's been my best year. I've mentioned before that my biggest goal in life is to be able to say at any given time that the best year of my life is the last one I've lived; as you may have picked up as a theme of this blog, I believe we control that, no matter what may happen to us. The trials can be insurmountable or things can seem to be just smooth sailin' and under either scenario, it really can still be our best year. I have great friends who have had trials in the last year that would make many of us embarrassed that we ever complain about anything, but due to their ability to focus on the blessings, these are the same people that I'm sure would tell you that despite the hardships, they've had a really great year; of course they have--they've chosen to.

So despite some really big challenges, it's been a pretty darn good year. I am in the process of making a decision right now that, unless something dramatically changes or one of you calls me before lunch time Monday morning with a desperate plea to change my mind, I feel I've been guided into in some way. I've been thinking a lot over the past few months about what I'm going to do next summer in terms of legal internships. There are many options to consider but for a 1L law student who is still largely unsure about what he wants to end up doing, it's been a bit stressful. I finally found a possibility of a 5 week externship in Ukraine that I was pretty excited about and I had planned to try to get into that at the end of October. Two weeks ago I found out about a law and religion program through various legal offices of the church throughout the world. The offices deal with the legal issues the church is facing in various countries and also work with governments to promote religious freedoms for their people as we've been so blessed to have here.

Last week I submitted my resume and cover letter indicating my interest in the program. I wasn't really sure if it was what I wanted to do and the externship in Ukraine still sounded very appealing to me but I thought it would be good to consider. On Thursday I interviewed and I didn't think the interview went very well and so thought that the decision would probably be made for me. But on Friday I got a call from the law and religion center offering me a spot in their Moscow, Russia office next summer.

So the last two days have been a bit overwhelming for me, weighing pros and cons, and wondering how the heck this worked out. After talking to my parents, friends, and through a lot of prayer, I have decided to accept it (I have to give them my decision by tomorrow). So there it is. Looks like I'm going to Russia.

The internship is an incredible opportunity and I'm so thankful that it's available to me. I will spend about 6 weeks in Moscow (probably beginning around May 1st) and then I'll come back to Utah and work in the church's law and religion office for the rest of the summer helping research and write a casebook or something similar. Before then I hope to really improve my Russian as it's not that awesome right now:)

Part of me, the part I don't like as much, has really tried to get me to turn this down over the past two days. That part of me has gotten the best of the best part of me too much in my life, and as I watch another year start slip slidin' away (thanks Paul Simon!), I've decided to do something brave and take a bit of a chance (if you consider moving to an eastern European country that you've never been to by yourself with minimal ability to speak the language "a bit of a chance" as I do). So here I go! Gone are the days that I fail to sieze the day! Well . . . at least mostly gone; I can't give up laziness just like that.

It Just Gets Stranger~

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Every Child's Nightmare: A True and Tragic Tale Part II

By way of update: It's not me. It's him.

As you know, I am going through a healing process right now in which I'm learning to come to grips with the fact that this 10 year old despises me like the desert hates the rain (that was so poetic of me! I get really artistic when I'm hurting). But what you may not know is that I now have a witness to the abuse.

While consulting a dear friend of mine at law school about my situation after seeing her all but adopt her assigned 5th grader, I was told "I'm sure he doesn't hate you. Maybe you should just tell him a funny joke." I told her I tried that and got blank stares so she asked me what the joke was and I got the same reaction from her; it turns out that just because my 5-year-old niece just about got a hernia when I told her the joke a few weeks ago, I can't assume that a 10-year-old who has at least twice the reasoning ability is going to wet his pants over the same joke. I should have known that Kaylee was not a good test subject because right after I told her my joke and she laughed like a menopausal woman in the audience of "Ellen", she told me a joke that went something like this: "How many shapes are lights? . . . A LOT of colors!!!" She then laughed at her own joke at least as hard as she laughed at mine. At the time I thought that maybe I just didn't get it but now that I think about it, she may not be at the point yet where she understands the simple schematics of the common question/answer joke, the humor of which relies on some sort of organizational clarity or play on words.

So my friend Corey told me a joke, that was guaranteed to "kill", about a duck that visits the same store every day to ask for duck food. In the joke, the store-keeper tells the duck every day that they don't have duck food and finally threatens the duck that if he comes back again he'll "nail the ducks feet to the floor." The next day the duck comes back in and says, "do you have any nails?" The store-keeper responds, "no." So the duck says, "ok. Do you have any duck food?" Kills! Really. You're laughing.

Just after she told me the joke my 5th grader entered the room and plopped down in a chair, completely ignoring me when I said "hello." Corey gave me an encouraging look so I said "do you want to hear a joke?" He said, while rolling his eyes as if I just asked him to help me move and I hadn't even begun to pack when he showed up, "fine."

"So a duck walks into a store-"

"I've heard it!" (another roll of the eyes. For this I finally award child X the long overdue Tellin' It Like It Is Award).

I looked back to Corey whose eyes were wide, and she mouthed, as if she finally understood, "I'm so sorry. He really does hate you."

Corey, trying to help, said "maybe it's a different joke. How does yours' go?" He then said, "I don't remember." End of convo.

How am I going to make it every Tuesday until April? Maybe I should try Kaylee's joke on him . . . "A lot of colors." I think I almost get it.

PS- Uncle Will, I tried to tell him the Brown Chicken/Brown Cow joke (which is impossible to explain in print) but it didn't work. I think that may have been my fault though.

It Just Gets Stranger~

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Week Off?

This is my week off of school, so naturally I've been in school all day, almost every day this week. My professors were kind enough to leave insurmountable amounts of work for us to do, some of which most of my class seems to have hit a dead-end on, conveniently on the week that our professors are not around to help. As you can imagine, the mood is somber here at the Howard W. Hunter Law Library today.

I've been sitting at the same desk for 5 hours so far today with the exact same look on my face as you see in the top picture. I literally have forgotten every other possible facial expression; pages and pages of Utah cases about signing a contract under duress as well as in depth discussion of supplemental jurisdiction in my Civil Procedure case book have completely wiped my memory of any emotions that I may have ever felt. I don't suppose I'll ever recover.

The girl you see in the second picture has been directly in my eye-sight for these five hours. For a good portion of the last two, she has been in the position you see here. I don't know who she is but I imagine she and I could be great friends. She too has only displayed the one facial expression all day, other than one brief second around hour two when she looked like she was about to have a nervous breakdown--something much more intense than I've been capable of feeling today.

From time to time I look out the window and stare at the trees, now dropping their brown leaves to the ground. In my current situation, it looks almost as if the leaves are falling out of boredom. I also feel like that man in the short story who has decided to die when the last leaf falls, so someone goes out and paints a leaf on the wall so that he'll never die (The Last Leaf (?)). I don't have the stamina now to explain the whole connection but it has something to do with somberness, professors with paint brushes, and all 251 episodes of MASH used as a punishment for unproductivity.

Well I better get back to work before the last glimmer of personality I still have left completely disappears and leaves my mind entirely inoperable; because we all know that that would be an absolute tragedy.

It Just Gets Stranger~

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Gathering of Israel: True Stories of Southtown Mall

I can explain. No, actually I don't think I can.

I didn't intend to come away with anything other than a white shirt for church and maybe some shoes if I could find ones I liked. As we could have guessed, "maybe some shoes if I could find ones I liked" clearly meant "and DEFINITELY some shoes." But I had no intention of investing in anything herbal.

I had a gift card for Macy's which is the reason I went to Southtown mall in the first place on my way from So Jo to Lindon after watching Krisanda's kids for a little bit (another hilarious experience that I don't have time to detail now). The first odd thing that happened in the mall was when the rude employee told me I couldn't try on any of the white shirts unless I was going to buy them because he didn't want to have to put all the pins back in. I told him that I like to try things on to see if I want to buy them and asked why anyone would want to try something on only if they knew they were going to buy it anyway--well he finally reluctantly allowed me too. Of course, because I'm the easiest customer in the entire world, I not only bought the shirt despite the poor customer service but I also bought some really awesome shoes from him.

Then things got bad. I started walking around the mall because I had some time to kill (I have the week off of school by the way for those of you who were wondering what the heck I'm doing shopping at 2:00 in the afternoon on a Monday, 30 minutes from Provo). I should NEVER just start walking around a mall as it ALWAYS gets me into serious trouble.

Just as I was about to leave, I was stopped by one of those kiosks which I'm usually really good at avoiding; this one sort of just snuck up on me. A young girl with a strong accent that sounded familiar but not enough to place, proceeded to give me a very looooooong presentation of an entire series of herbal products and how each one was about to save me, heal me forever, and prolong my life 60 years (which means I may live to see 90). She started by throwing a 30 pound scalding hot harness over my neck while telling me something about toxins. I wasn't convinced as I don't really believe in all the herbal remedies that some people swear by, usually refusing to trust anything weaker than a double dosage of Lortab downed by NyQuil; but I stayed and listened to be polite having absolutely NO intention of buying so much as a paperclip (which I would have been more interested in than this garbage, if they were selling any).

After a few thousand packs and oils were firmly placed up my nose and on every other part of my body, this girl pulled out the lavender eye sleep masks and put them over my eyes. Knowing very well that I looked like a complete idiot standing there in the middle of the mall, while this girl used some kind of rollers on my back "to release the negative energy" I started wondering how the heck I was going to get out of there. Then this girl leaned in close, my eyes still covered, and whispered very suspiciously, "do you like surprises?" I quickly told her that I did NOT like surprises and not to do whatever it was she wanted to surprise me with. She told me to relax and before I knew it, she had placed one of those spindly wire contraptions on my head that vibrates, leaving a complete stupor of thought, for which I blame the outcome of the ordeal.

She finally started the sales pitch after I took a giant whiff of every herb in existence, some of which I was sure were nothing more than 99 cent car fresheners purchased at the local Walmart. She offered the entire package (one that looked sort of like the picture only much smaller) for only $300.00 or some absurd price. I told her I was not interested but would be happy to tell my mom about it so she could come and check it out later (not that she would). Then the bargaining began. Before I knew it, the manager had come over and we started bargaining prices until I talked him down to $80.00 after he told me things like "I do this because you're my friend. I'm happy if you're happy." Finally I asked him where he was from and he informed me that they were all from Israel, which explained why the whole situation felt so familiar, and explained why I seemed to have a natural instinct to argue prices with them for something that I didn't even want.

After starting to walk away a few times but coming back because I'm a little out of practice, leaving me rather vulnerable to their attacks, the manager asked me to choose one thing there that made me happy. I chose the lavender face masks which he then offered me for $30.00. In the end, he offered me one for $19, and then another one as a gift because "you are my new friend and I want to gift you." Before I knew it, I was the proud(?) owner of two new lavender face masks. I walked away thinking that I got a steal of a deal until I realized that it's not really a bargain if you buy something that you don't even really want. Then I realized that I sort of just bought the stuff because I had naturally reverted back to searching for souvenirs, which I definitely don't need from Southtown mall.

FYI, you can negotiate prices at local malls.

Maybe this stuff will finally heal my foot disease which we mistakenly thought was permanently healed at the Dead Sea.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Every Child's Nightmare: A True and Tragic Tale

Nothing is more tragic than to find out that someone despises you. OK, there are many things more tragic than that but I've gotten very used to communicating primarily through sarcasm and hyperbole over the years so you just have to work with me.

There is a 10 year old who hates me and it is sending me into a severe emotional meltdown. I should have know this would have happened based on my history with children. Let me explain . . .

6 years ago I was a young freshmen full of ambitious goals to change the world starting with my community; so naturally my roommate and I signed up to be in one of those Big Brother/Big Sister mentor programs through the local YWCA. It sounded like a great idea at the time. And then came Joe (name has been changed . . . probably. I can't remember it now). Joe was 10 years old and excited, so I was told, to participate in this program and have his very own big buddy to rear him in the ways of life. Joe and I hung out, we went to a baseball game, played soccer, participated in some kind of arts and crafts class, etc. After about a month of noticing that Joe never seemed particularly excited to hang out, and in contrast to my roommate's experience with his little buddy which ended up looking like the model mentoring example with their matching baseball caps and dozens of inside jokes which always ended in a high five, Joe suddenly stopped returning my phone calls. Eventually I was assigned a new child when my friend who supervised the program told me in the nicest way possible that Joe was not interested in participating in the program anymore.

One month later the exact same thing happened with the new child who seemed even less enthused to spend time with me. I was stood up multiple times and finally this child stopped returning my phone calls as well. When I spoke to the YWCA, they informed me that this child wasn't really interested in continuing in the program either. When I asked if they were going to assign me a new child, I was told "um . . . well . . . we have many other service opportunities you could participate in." And thus ended my YWCA big buddy extravaganza.

Fast forward to 2008. The law school has a 5th grade mentoring program where each participant is assigned a 5th grade child to do homework with and play with once a week. I, completely forgetting that children have historically despised me, thought this would be a fantastic opportunity for me to give back (I'll spare you the discussion on how cliche "give back" sounds). It's been two weeks and this kid seems not only to be disinterested, but I believe he vehemently hates me. He won't make eye contact with me; when I say "goodbye" to him he rolls his eyes and looks away; and I can't get more than one-word answers out of him regardless of the amazing though provoking questions I ask. Of course this all looks great among all the other mentors who already have secret handshakes with each of their kids who practically sob their eyes out each week when it's time to go.

Well maybe he's just a disturbed child who doesn't really get along with anyone and you can really help him; right? Wrong. And here's the evidence to the contrary:

1. The teachers filled out evaluations of each of the kids so mentors would be aware of potential problems. This teacher wrote about my kid that he is the "brightest" in the class, "easy to work with," "friendly," "outgoing," and lastly "an absolute joy to have around!!!"

2. Yesterday, after he told me he was bored, we found the ping pong room in the law building where other children were playing with their mentors. He immediately joined the game and became the life of the party, even interacting with the other mentors.

Maybe I'm over analyzing this; but seriously, there is something wrong here. It seems that children are either terrified of me, bored with me, or just outright despise me. I somehow think this may all be linked to this picture my parents have of Micalyne and I when we were 2 and 4, respectively, where I had taken Micalyne's blanky, whose name is "Fluffy" (notice I say "is" in order to signify that she's still attached to this thing despite being 22 years old and married) away to which she was obviously throwing a tantrum. I can't really explain why but I'm pretty sure it's all connected.

I've always thought that these types of programs were an opportunity for adults to show a good example to children and really help them develop necessary social skills. It seems, however, that isn't really working in this situation, which makes me wonder if maybe I need a child to mentor me so I'm not such a terrible bore with children. If anyone is aware of such a program, please contact me ASAP; I've got my next meeting with this kid in a week and a half and I don't think I can handle rejection again.

It Just Gets Stranger~