Friday, August 31, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

my look alikes

Not for the faint of heart [Bryan]

Check this out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My tornado story [Bryan]

This all reminds me of my own tornado story. The only tornado I have ever seen was not in the Midwest, but actually in Salt Lake City. I remember when I was growing up, I once asked my Dad once if a tornado would ever strike Salt Lake. He said that, no, tornadoes were impossible because the mountains prevented them from properly forming.

Well, there I was. The day was August 11, 1999 and I was just started working for the Division of Medical Ethics at the University of Utah. I was standing near a bus stop, waiting for a shuttle to take me up to the hospital. As I stood there, I noticed the sky was turning an odd, brilliant turquoise color. I have always loved storms, so I stood there and watched the turmoil going on in the sky above me. The clouds were moving rapidly and I noticed they were starting to move in a circle. I thought they might be forming a tornado, but I heard my Dad's voice saying, "Tornadoes can't happen in Utah." I dismissed the idea, but I continued watching the rotation and I grew excited as it started to descend. Here is a photo of what I saw at that point:

At that point, I remember turning to the guy standing next to me. He was also watching the sky and I exclaimed, rather stupidly, that "Hey, that looks like a tornado." He nodded is agreement. At that point, the shuttle bus came along. Did I stay to watch the only tornado I would probably ever see? No, I didn't. I got on the shuttle and left. But, there was some consolation to this stupid move. I think that during the shuttle ride I might have passed directly under the funnel cloud. I was watching the cloud out of the shuttle window and I noticed we were headed right for it. As we passed under it, I noticed a strong blast of wind. Needless to say, if the tornado had actually touched down, I might not be here to tell the tale.

Another disaster avoided!

Me and Tornadoes [Bryan]

Speaking of bad Midwest weather, we had a bunch a funnel clouds the other day. They think a tornado might have touched down about four miles from our house.

When I first moved to the Midwest, I thought tornadoes would be relatively rare events. Not so! We usually get 3 or 4 tornado warnings a summer. Tornadoes have touched down in or near both of the communities where we live.

I think I'm getting used to these lonely, windy wanderers. On the day of the storm, I thought I heard the warning sirens go off. The sirens are not close to us, and we can only hear them faintly. I then went to get something but then quickly forgot about the sirens. I was alone with the kids and we sat there quietly and watched the rain and wind as we ate our dinner. After we finished, I noticed the faint sirens again and turned on the TV. The meteorologists were excitedly talking about all the rotation and funnel clouds that had just passed over my area. Just think: a tornado could have destroyed my house as we sat there eating dinner!

Another disaster avoided!

Helping Hands [Bryan]

Yesterday, I was gone on a 10 hour service project to Northernish Ohio. If you hadn't heard, the Midwest has really been pummeled lately with a lot of severe weather. Perhaps hardest hit were some small towns in Ohio. News reports are here. It was, and remains, a messy situation up there. So I donned the yellow shirt of a "Mormon Helping Hand" and went with a few guys from my Church up to Findlay and Ottawa Ohio (about two hours away).

I was happy to go. I've lately tried to be of better use to humanity -- to serve others and thereby find greater depth and richness in life. This was an opportunity to do that and I was not disappointed. It was an amazing experience. The towns still smell of mildew and debris is everywhere. Many stores are still shut down, even though the water has receded almost completely.

I was worried it would be a waste of time, as many service projects are. We drove to Findlay and were assigned a house to visit. We arrived and an old woman smiled and said, "You're late, I could have used you two days ago." We went back to headquarters for further instructions and were told to drive to nearby Ottawa. "Just follow the highway and it will be obvious where to go," they said. Well, the destruction was obvious, but it took us an hour to find the volunteer headquarters. We had already wasted several hours and I thought we would leave without helping a soul.

Luckily, we got a humbling assignment. We went to a young couple (twenty-ish) whose house had been submerged in three feet of water. The husband was desperately trying to salvage the house but had not made much progress. The whole first floor was destroyed. We spent two hours ripping up floors, dry wall, and furniture. It was something that he could not have done by himself (it would have taken days, I imagine). I got to take out a wall with a sledge hammer! It was good to work and to actually feel like I was doing some good. The next house we were assigned to was equally yucky, at least in the basement. The basement floor was covered with inches of mud and with all manner of unknown guck. We cleaned out the basement, swept up the guck, and moved an enormous 300 lbs water heater up some rickety stairs. Again, a task that could not have been done without our help.

At that point, of course, I was covered in sweat and, well, guck. But it was exhilarating to be of such tangible use to others. I wish other people would flood so I could have more opportunities like this!

(My only concern with this whole endeavor is the yellow T-shirt thing. It seems like we Mormons like to use these opportunities to promote goodwill toward our community -- it is, to put it coarsely, "service projects as Public Relations Opportunities." I'm not sure how I feel about this; I think I might prefer being more anonymous.)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Dinnertime Conversation

Scene: Bryan and Ellie discussing some random trivia. Nora asks a question out of the blue.

Nora: What do you think about the bridge incident?

Bryan: The "incident"? I've never heard you use that word before. Where did you learn it?

Nora: What does "incident" mean?

Bryan: It is like an accident...

Nora: An accident?

Ellie: It is like when something happens, usually something bad. You said it right, "bridge incident."

Nora: Incident.

Bryan: So where did you learn that word?

Nora: The News Hours with Jim Leher.

Bryan and Ellie blink is guilty disbelief, worried that a nerd is being born right before their eyes. They continue eating.