The Tim
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Tim

Just some guy.

A Walk Through Tim’s Past

Cleaning out the Storage Closet

After spending a relaxing Christmas day together, we decided that the day after Christmas would be a good day to do some long-needed cleaning. Specifically, we needed to clean out the storage closet in our apartment, which is 1’10” wide by 2’8″ deep by 7′ tall and was packed completely full. So, that’s what we did. Well, first we went to see a movie. The new live action Peter Pan. It was a decent movie. I give it 7/10 and Jeni gives it 6/10. When we got back from the movie, we dug right into the closet. After we ate dinner. Leftover lasagna and Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple-Cranberry. Mmm.

Four hours later, when we finally emerged victorious over the storage closet, we had accumulated three bags full of trash and two bags full of stuff to give to the GoodWill. These were 33 gallon trash-bags. We were left with only 3 mid-sized boxes and one bag of stuff left to put back in the closet. Following are the tales of Tim’s life that are told by some of the items that were excavated from this closet.


Quick jump to an item


November 1997 – Photograph of a Wrecked Car

Photograph of a Wrecked CarMy first car. It was the product of hundreds of hours hard work and months of saving. A symbol of freedom and independence. And on November 9th of 1997, on the 8th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was a twisted hunk of useless metal. You may instinctively place the blame for this wanton destruction on the teenager with the driver’s license, but if you did you would be amiss. In fact, as I drove defensively at 35mph along a winding two-lane country road to do some studying with my friend Lisa B., a man driving a light pickup truck blindly turned left just in front of me.

With very little time to react, I slammed on the brakes and on the horn. As the truck grew larger and larger outside my windshield, I began to have a sense of detachment from my surroundings. Indeed, as my car came crashing into the side of the small truck, planting itself into the other vehicle with the screeching of twisting metal, I began to feel as if I were dreaming. The engine still running, I surveyed the detail work in the side of the pickup as I collected my nerve.

While I spoke with the absent-minded driver of the truck, a man I had never seen before walked up seemingly from nowhere and said “Tim?” This did not help me convince myself that I was not dreaming. As it turned out, the kind man who knew my name was the father of one of my classmates, as well as the principal of the elementary school where my youngest brother attended and my mother volunteered. When we contacted the police, they refused to come to the scene since we had already moved our cars and nobody was hurt. Fortunately there was a witness, plus by the way the cars were damaged it was obvious that the collision was not my fault. But the really important detail to remember about this story is that my puny little 1983 Chevy Cavalier was able to drive home, and the burly little pickup had to be towed from the scene. My car triumphed in it’s only skirmish. However, the damage was extensive enough to cause the insurance company to “total” the car.

One of the oldest items that we drew from the storage closet was this photograph of my car in my parent’s front yard just after that wreck.


May 1999 – Photograph of Tim

Photograph of TimLate in my freshman year at SPU, my dorm floor, 5th Hill, went on an all-floor retreat to Orcas Island. The weather was beautiful, and we all had a great time. We trekked to a mountaintop, and jumped off of towering cliffs into a pristine lake. The photo on the left was recovered from the storage closet, and shows me perched upon the peak of Mount Constitution on Orcas Island. This photograph proves that Sprite will make you beautiful. Well, maybe not. But the following Labor Day weekend, myself, J.R., and Nathan Devena set out upon a quest in the great Northwest to prove that Sprite can at least be a heck of a lot of fun. Sprite Will Make You BeautifulAs we trekked about the San Juan Islands, Bellingham, Vancouver B.C., and Seattle, we had far more fun than should be legal with a twelve pack of Sprite.

The image on the right was not found in the storage closet, but is a collage of all the amusing times the three of us had with Sprite on our journey. Left to Right, top to bottom, this is what is pictured:

  1. J.R. squeezing a can of Sprite in the same place on Mt. Constitution.
  2. The picture above on the left.
  3. J.R. sacrificing Tim on the wall on Mt. Constitution with a can of Sprite.
  4. Nathan on the same wall, drinking Sprite.
  5. Destiny Williams grinning ear-to-ear while holding a Sprite.
  6. Tim, Nathan, and J.R. all holding Sprite.
  7. Dana Cantrell smiling with a Sprite.
  8. A wild male deer kissing a Sprite can (really).
  9. A majestic can of sprite overlooking the ocean.
  10. Nathan’s hand reaching under a stone wall to get a Sprite.
  11. Sprite in the window of a castle.
  12. Sprite falling from a drain hole in a castle wall.

Ahh, good times.


September 1999 – Jeni’s Letter

Jeni's LetterJust one week after the Sprite Adventures, an event occurred that those of you who have read our story will be familiar with. That event would be the Janz family’s unannounced (Calling ahead 30 minutes out of town does not count as announcing your visit when you live 1,000 miles away.) visit to our house. As you may know, I was out of town attending a friend’s wedding in Seattle when they unexpectedly dropped by. When I returned, I sat down at my computer to find a note taped to the monitor. Eventually that note made its way into the storage closet, and was recovered in our cleaning. It is pictured at left. Here is what it said:

Sept. 10, 1999

Hey you! I was here, and you weren’t! What Luck huh?!? Well, maybe we’ll have a next time (smiley) I haven’t seen you on line in a while, so email me k? I can not believe I’m here, in your house… oh well!!! I figured since we were in the state, we should drop by. I tried to see if you were on line last night. (you weren’t) So I talked to Nathan. He said you weren’t leaving till 4. He was wrong!! (smiley) Well I hope you have (had) fun at your friend’s wedding. I’ll talk to you soon!!

(heart)jeni

Sorry
(S)o
(S)loppy!

~ I haven’t actually written in a while!


October 1999 – Piano Label

Piano LabelThe last quarter of my freshman year at SPU, just as all of us bright-eyed new students were finally getting into the swing of things, the school tore down the dining hall to make way for a glorious new one. It was the first big step in their ambitious and highly touted “Comprehensive Plan for the 21st Century.” However, I for one was not impressed when the new Gwinn Commons opened in the Fall of 1999. It looked all shiny and new, yes, but for a brand-new dining hall in a school that plans to expand, it was already sorely short on space. At dinner and lunch rush times, you sometimes had to wait for 10 minutes after filling your dinner tray to find a seat. It was, in a word, ridiculous. Plus, to top it all off, they got rid of the self-serve sandwich bar, and no longer had ICE CREAM! For further reading on my thoughts about this matter, please refer to this opinion column on the DUI website.

It wasn’t that the new Gwinn was a smaller building than the last one. In fact, it was much larger. They had even added a second story. The main problem was that all the extra space that they added was allocated very poorly. When we heard that they were putting on a second story, we imagined a design where we would get our food downstairs, then go upstairs to eat. Alas, as it turned out, the second floor was built not for general student use, but rather to be a special meeting hall, to be used for special occasions only.

One of the finishing touches on this disappointingly useless upstairs was a brand-new black baby grand piano. Before the official opening of the upstairs portion of the building, J.R. and I were able to take an unauthorized trip upstairs and check it out. When we entered the foyer, there sat the piano, without a fingerprint on it, and still with the tag hanging off. So, I did what anyone would do. I sat down, lifted the key cover, took off the protective shipping felt, and plunked out a few tunes. And I kept this tag as a souvenir.

Take that, new Gwinn.


March 2000 – Nerf Dart Gun

Nerf Dart GunPicture this: A dorm floor with 45 guys, mostly Freshmen and Sophomores. 45 guys who like to play video games, a lot. Now picture these 45 guys realizing that perhaps they like video games a bit too much, and swearing off video games for one week. What you have just pictured is 5th Hill in March of 2000, my Sophomore year. As a result of this video game fast, some of the guys started to get creative when thinking about how to spend all that extra time. Studying? Hah, no… What we dreamed up was the glorious game that is: Mafia!

We split the floor into three “families,” each with about 10 guys. Then we all went out and bought cheap NERF dart guns, set out some basic rules for how to “kill” someone, and went at it until there was only one family standing. Kills were not allowed anywhere in the dorm building or in the dining hall, but pretty much anywhere else was fair game.

The first day that we played, two of the families allied with each other to wipe out the third family, my family. By 5:00, my family was down to just me and 2 other guys. Drastic measures had to be taken. Upon returning from my last class I immediately set out to determine opportune times during which to take down my enemies. This was not an easy task, as it is difficult to determine where people are at any given time of day, plus family members tended to travel in groups for protection. One of the first chances that I came upon was a member of another family who was alone in band practice until about 7:00. But that wasn’t the only bit of useful information that I found out. I was also told which locker he used to store his instrument

But that wasn’t all either. One of my family members used to have the same locker, so he knew the combination. So, one of my remaining family members and I went down to the music building. I hid inside the locker while he waited in a practice room nearby, ready to spring out at a moments notice. After about half an hour, the tiny slits that I could see out of finally darkened. My prey had arrived! My muscles tensed while he turned the dial and opened the latch. As he cracked the door to the locker, POP! Out stuck my weapon, and planted a little green dart right between the eyes. He never saw it coming.

You can read more about 5th Hill Mafia here.

My trusty four-shot NERF Supermaxx 1500 was another treasure that was unearthed from the closet.


April 2000 – Housing Booklet

Housing BookletFor the duration of my Freshman and Sophomore years at SPU, I lived in the dorms. In fact, I had little choice in the matter, as it was SPU’s policy to require undergraduates younger than 21 to live on campus. As it turns out though, I actually really enjoyed my time in the dorms. About halfway through our Sophomore year, J.R. and I had decided that we wanted to stay on 5th Hill for at least one more year. The way we figured, living on a floor with 40 other guys, staying up late, playing pranks on neighbors… all of these things are something that you really only get to experience once in life. You’ve got a four-year window of undergraduate college life, and that’s it. So, as long as we’re enjoying it, why not take advantage of that window?

Well the answer to that question, as it turned out, was “Because Res-life says: ‘You can’t. Get the heck out of our dorms.'” As spring rolled around, and housing signups loomed mere weeks away, university officials let out a little secret that they had been holding all year. They were out of space. More people wanted to live in the dorms than they expected, plus more of the applicants that they admitted were accepting. New rules were put in place as to where students can and can’t live on campus.

One of these new rules just so happened to be that Juniors were virtually banned from the dorms. If they were involved in some sort of leadership (hall council, PA, SMC, etc.) they could be in the dorms, and technically, a “normal” Junior might possibly be able to get into the dorms, but we were dead last in priority, and because of the order of signups, if we tried to sign up for the dorms and didn’t get in, we would be out in the cold and unable to live on campus at all.

Well, as if all this weren’t frustrating enough to us, Res-life just added serious insult to injury when they published the Housing Sign-Up booklet, which is pictured at left with my angry comments added. Here’s the quote that they put on the front:

Living in the halls has been such an exciting experience for me. By living next door to 40-50 other girls, I found it easy to make wonderful new relationships. Hall life is so much fun. It’s fun to look out your window and see Seattle, or who knows…you may just see someone you know! Living in the halls has been the best experience so far, I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else!

The thing about that quote is who it is coming from: Nikki Antonson – Junior. Yes, that’s right. They put a quote from a Junior talking about how much she loves living in the dorms. She “wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else!” Now my handwritten comments on the front of the book make a bit more sense: “Well too freakin’ bad, junior #489! We’re kicking you the heck out! – Res-life.”


November 2000 – Personal Poem

November 2000. Is there anyone who here who can tell me what major event happened in the USA in November 2000? Yes, you in the back, with the striped shirt. That’s correct. The presidential election is what happened in the year 2000, in the month of November. In fact, it lasted the whole, stinking month. The never-ending election.

What does that have to do with my storage closet? On election day, I took great pains to avoid seeing or hearing any news about the election. Having grown up in a household where the television hardly ever turns off, I had gotten more than my fill of election-night drama in the past three elections. However, my grand scheme to avoid all news, wake up the next morning and find out who won were thwarted. Hence, this poem that I found in the closet:

Thwarted
by Tim Ellis
11/09/2000

No, no, no!
I do not want to know.
I do not wish to waste my time.
Instead I’ll get some sleep sublime.
-or play a couple games of hearts.
Anything but those nervous charts.

Rest now. Rest my tired eyes.
And dream of sweet blue cloudless skies.

Now in the morning I awake.
So certain that I’ll have my cake-
-and eat it too, oh yes indeed.
But wait, oh no! What’s this I read?
It seems that it is still not done.
Alas, the race is far from won.

Days went by, then weeks, then months.
Finally one man got his wants.
But oh, not me. I still recall…
November 7th-“Too close to call.”

That’s right. I’m not ashamed to post silly personal writings on the Internet for anyone in the world to read. I have no shame. But then, if you’ve read much of the rest of this site, you knew that already.


December 2000 – BLUM

BLUM
by Dorothy Aldis

Dog means dog,
And cat means cat,
And there are lots
Of words like that.

A cart’s a cart
To pull or shove,
A plate’s a plate
To eat off of.

But there are other
Words I say
When I am left
Alone to play.

Blum is one.
Blum is a word
That very few
Have ever heard.

I like to say it,
“Blum, Blum, Blum”-
I do it loud
Or in a hum.

All by myself
It’s nice to sing:
It does not mean
A single thing.


February 2001 – A List

There are many things that college guys do when they are short on sleep but not short on creativity. In one such instance, J.R. and I were having a conversation with the illustrious Matt Basinger, we touched on the topic of winning. You may have heard the cliché “Winning isn’t the most important thing in life” or “Winning isn’t everything” before. As we discussed winning, we came to agree. Winning definitely isn’t the most important thing in life. It’s third. Right after eating and sleeping. But why stop there? We created an entire foot-in-mouth err, I mean tongue-in-cheek list of the top most important things in life. And now I present it to the world, in all it’s majesty.

The Most Important Things in Life

  1. Eating
  2. Sleeping
  3. Winning
  4. Breathing
  5. Copulation
  6. True Love
  7. The Simpsons
  8. Smelling
  9. Monkeys
  10. Laughing
  11. Friendship

March 2001 – Laser Tag Score Sheet

Laser Tag Score SheetY2K. I bet you got tired of hearing those two letters and that number. I know I sure did. Two-digit computer years—oh no! The world is going to collapse upon itself! Stock up on duct tape, water, and snow shovels! Hunker down in your fallout shelter! What a bunch of hooey. And yes, I stated that it was a bunch of hooey before all the hype fizzled into nothingness on January 1st and nothing happened.

Well it took until over a year later, but I finally found a real-life occurrence of the Y2K bug! Really! On Laura Scherschel’s birthday, a bunch of us came out to Spokane to chill with her. That night, we went out for a fun game of laser tag. Check out the Laser Quest score sheet from our game at the left. That’s right. According to the zoomed portion, our laser tag game took place on March 21st, 20101 at 9:11 PM. Whoops.

I guess Laser Quest should have stocked up more duct tape.


October 2001 – Another Poem

I didn’t write this poem. But I like it. A portion of it is quoted in the movie Groundhog Day, by Andie MacDowell. I found a printout of it in the closet, and felt like sharing it here. Enjoy.

Breathes There the Man
Sir Walter Scott

Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
“This is my own, my native land!”
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonor’d and unsung.


November 2001 – Pumpkins Photograph

Pumpkins PhotographLast but certainly not least, I will share with you this gem of a picture. Taken by one Miss Laura Scherschel at her lovely apartment in the fall of 2001, contained within you will see J.R., his sister Erin, and myself. The small pumpkins that we are holding were a part of the party activities for the evening. Erin carved a happy pumpkin. I carved an angry sneaking pumpkin. J.R. continued his illustrious pumpkin-carving tradition and carved another in a long line of barfing pumpkins. Unfortunately however, there were only enough mini-pumpkins for each of us to carve one, and so J.R.’s barfing pumpkin was unable to be portrayed as also being consumed by another pumpkin.

In the picture, each of us is attempting as best we can to make the same face as our pumpkins. I have always really liked this picture. To really appreciate the affect, you’ll need to click on the picture to view a larger version. It really is grand.

2003 In Review

Hello there everyone, and welcome to our Christmas letter. I’d like to thank you all for coming, and invite you to take a seat, kick back, and enjoy your time here. You’re probably wondering why I’ve called you all here today. Well, like it or not, if you continue to read the words on this page, you are going to learn about the highlights of the year 2003 for Timothy and Jennifer Ellis. Not only that, but you, humble reader, will be subjected to reading the tale from the perspective of Tim, the [insert amusing adjective] husband. So, what are we waiting for? We’ve wasted an entire paragraph already; let’s dig into the meat of this letter!

GameCube!Basically, 2003 can be separated into two distinct portions. Two eras, if you will. BGC and WGC. That would be Before GameCube and With GameCube. Before GameCube was a time of sullenness and gloom. Entertainment options were limited to activities such as smashing nickels underneath passing trains on the way to baseball games. Oh… I guess there were the baseball games, too. But the Mariners didn’t win many of the games that we went to. BGC was generally a glum time. But on August 16th, all that changed. With a mere one hundred and fifty denelions, the GameCube was ours. With GameCube, the world was brighter. Gleeful entertainment was a mere push of a button away. The sun shined brighter, dogs stopped biting my calves, and the Mariners didn’t lose as many games. Life was good. Now that the stage is set, I’ll fill you in on some of the details of the two eras of 2003.

BGC – January 1st – August 15th

Perhaps the first thing of note that we participated in this year would be our excessive involvement in the wedding of my good friend Michael Ziemann to the lovely Brianne. I had the pleasure of donning the monkey suit and standing in the front of a church, and Jeni had the task of taking their pictures. This was Jeni’s first chance to do some real wedding photography, and it turned out fairly well. She took a lot of good pictures, and learned a lot. Mike & Brianne’s wedding was nice, and they got off to their honeymoon without any big snags, and with two lovely stuffed monkeys in their car.

fishing on Horseshoe LakeIn April, we went down to Vancouver to spend some time with my family, and ended up in a tiny little boat in the middle of a lake with only a tiny battery-powered engine to push us around the water. In other words, we went with the Ellis family to Horseshoe Lake on a fishing trip. Neither of us did any real fishing of course, since we didn’t have fishing licenses, but it was Jeni’s first experience with any kind of fishing. Amazingly, she actually enjoyed it. Go figure. Also in April, Jeni decided to try her hand at the Mary Kay business. She figured that since she liked makeup so much, she might as well make a little money with it. In May, we went down to California to be at Jeni’s college’s graduation. We got to spend a lot of good time with her sisters, and she got to see her friends graduate. Overall it was a fun experience. Plus, that trip finally put us both over the threshold of frequent flier miles we needed to have free tickets anywhere in the country. Woo-hoo!

On August 16th, using some personal cash I had saved up, I upgraded my video game system selection to the 21st century by buying a Nintendo GameCube. This leads us to the second era, WGC.

WGC – August 16th – December 31st

Universal StudiosThe most immediate result of the glorious new purchase was Jeni’s obtaining a job at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe (the town that I work in). For two long weeks, she stood as valiant daytime guard over the baby shoe bronzing booth, collecting countless information cards from interested potential customers. Yes, I am making this sound far more exciting than it was. Just after she completed this daunting task, we had a 9-day vacation in California. During our fun-filled trip, we walked down Hollywood Boulevard, had an action-packed day at Universal Studios, spent time with Jeni’s family, Jeni was a bridesmaid in her friend Nicole’s wedding, and I beat Rebekah at pool. Multiple times. Soundly.

In October, we celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, we spent a relaxing and romantic day at on Whidbey Island. Contrary to what many people seem to say, our first year of marriage was not especially difficult. In fact, it was quite enjoyable, and not just for the obvious reasons, either. We’re quite enjoying each other’s company, and have adjusted rather well to the joint decision-making process. And just for the record, we haven’t even once had a dispute over the toilet seat. :^) In fact, we haven’t really had any real fights at all. Oh, and Rachel: No, we aren’t pregnant.

Also in October, Jeni attended her first women’s conference with some of the ladies at our church. This made Jeni feel old. Perhaps Jeni needs to spend more time playing with LEGOs, like I do. This year I built the Smith Tower (a famous Seattle “skyscraper” from the early 1900’s) out of LEGO, and I am currently working on the Simpsons with J.R. and Micah. I definitely don’t feel old.

Anniversary on Whidbey IslandAs the year wound to a close, we had a relaxing Thanksgiving at home. Katie Gower and Joy and Heather Bagley came over to celebrate and give thanks with us. The weeks surrounding Thanksgiving were the only time this year that Jeni was able to see her best friend Heather. She really enjoyed their time together, even in spite of their willing exposure to an extremely cheesy cartoon rendition of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Perhaps she even enjoyed it partly because of that. To each his (or her) own, I suppose.

After talking with Heather about it, Jeni decided in November to stop selling Mary Kay products. This was mainly due to the fact that the Mary Kay business model is largely dependent on the hard sell. Think used car salesman, only with a lot more makeup on. This kind of business didn’t really sit well with Jeni, and she decided to step down and seek other opportunities.

All in all, I like starting paragraphs with the letter ‘A’. In addition, we had a pretty good 2003. Even the seven and a half months before we got the GameCube. We have both grown spiritually, and Jeni especially feels closer to God than she has before. We have been participating in a weekly Bible study all year with a small group of people from church, Jeni has also been involved in a women’s Bible study, and she has recently begun the Experiencing God study with a different group of women. Both of us have been involved in the newly created “Good Works” ministry at our church that focuses on ministering to the needs of the community. I was given the task of being the “Media Team Leader” at the Anchor (our church). That basically means that I make sure someone is around to do sound and projector each week, I train new people, and I keep the church’s website up-to-date.

Since most of you have probably put this letter down five paragraphs ago and given up ever getting to the end, I think that I will now bring it to an end. We hope that your year has gone well, and hope that we hear from each of you in the next. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and don’t be a stranger. That’s all for now.

Sending our love,

Timothy & Jennifer Ellis

P.S. (My calves were never actually bit by dogs. BGC or WGC.)

– Tim

Merry Christmas 2003
Do stuff that you would like to write about.

Read the Signs

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned humiliating bachelor party. Get a group of guys together, have some good fun, make a guy wear a giant foam cowboy hat and a bright red bow around his neck, and spend all night playing arcade games. Good times. Especially when the arcade games are at Gameworks, and the guys are the swell bunch that showed up for Bryce Schober’s party the night of January 15th, 2003. Good times, good times.

ALL VEHICLES MUST BE REMOVED BY CLOSING TIMELooking forward to this swell experience, J.R. and I giddily headed downtown on that fateful night. Lured by a sign promising $4 parking for the duration we would need, we pulled into the parking garage at the 520 Pike Tower. Ahh, things were going swimmingly. Upon arriving at our private suite (read: a small room with a few round tables) for Bryce’s party at Gameworks we wasted no time at commencing the humiliation. Of course, it would be terrible of me to post any of the pictures here, so I would never even think of doing that. Ever. Well, as much fun as we had, it was all soon to come crashing down on us. Staggering out of Gameworks at midnight, we made our way back to the parking garage. Which was locked. Doh.

All we could access was the stinking ticket-giver-outer-thingy. Which, as it turned out, had stated very plainly “ALL VEHICLES MUST BE REMOVED BY CLOSING TIME,” followed by the hours, which stated closing time as 11:00PM. Dang, we’re stupid. O-kay. Locked out of a parking garage downtown, without a cell phone, on a Thursday night (in other words, nobody is around but a few sleeping homeless people). Not exactly the way we thought we would be spending the evening.

VIOLATION NOTICEWe scoured the short section of the garage entrance that we had access to, looking for a phone number or some information on how to get J.R.’s hot rod out of the belly of this cement beast. Finally, we found a number. Which we called on the nearby payphone using a few coins that Paul gave us. Oh yeah, Paul was with us. He didn’t have a cell phone either though, so he wasn’t much help… except for the change he gave us to call on the pay phone. I guess that was pretty helpful. Plus I think he said a few funny things, too. Too bad I don’t remember them. Wait, where was I? Oh, right. So that phone number had a recording that gave us another number. Great. I wonder what percentage of the money from that pay phone goes to the owner of the parking garage? Fortunately we were able to flag down Nick (who had been at the party) and borrow his cell phone to call the second number. A real person answered this one and assured us that they would be down to rescue us in a few minutes.

At this point, Paul ditched us. I can’t blame him. We are such losers. Well, I’m a loser anyway. All right, I admit it, I was the one who told J.R. to park in there. I was the one who basically got us locked out of a parking garage downtown just because we didn’t spend three and a half seconds to read a sign. Sheesh. Well, true to their word, the night shift security guard for the tower showed up not too much later to rescue us–for a price. Oh yes, that’s right. Twenty-seven dollars, to be exact. Not such cheap parking after all, when you can’t follow their simple rules. It’s okay though, I’m thinking of going back there later to umm… well, nevermind. Let’s get this back to the main point. You should always read the signs. If you don’t bad stuff could happen. Seriously.

– Tim

Do you want to end up stuck outside a parking garage downtown at night, glossy-eyed and brandishing a sombrero like a madman? I didn't think so.
Do you want to end up stuck outside a parking garage downtown at night, glossy-eyed and brandishing a sombrero like a madman? I didn’t think so.

Dumpster Diving

December 27th, the day that we returned from California, the Puget Sound area experienced a day of unusually high winds. In fact, when we woke up that morning, it was even quite windy in Ashland, Oregon. unusually high windsThis time, the drive was, fortunately, quite uneventful (see Tire Blowout Fun). Arriving in Woodinville shortly after dark, something seemed slightly awry as we drove the streets between the freeway and our apartment. Although Woodinville is not known for having a very exciting weekend nightlife, usually the streets are at least lit up. Yes, once again God’s creation proved its supremacy over man, with high winds knocking out the power in our beloved township.

Being the well-prepared citizens that we are, the lack of power did not dampen our spirits. We got out the flashlights, lit the candles, and then decided that we were bored, and would go to bed. In order to know when the power came back on (crucial information, of course), I left the light switch in the ‘on’ position in the bedroom when we went to bed. Therefore, I was woken up by a fully lit room at approximately 2:00 AM, at which time I stumbled across the room, flipped off the switch, stumbled back to bed, and fell immediately back to sleep.

Strangely, the knowledge of exactly what time the power was returned to our place of dwelling bears no further consequence in this story.

not ashamed to dig perfectly good food out of a dumpsterOn the next day, my brother Matthew came over in the late morning to trade back tires with me (again, see Tire Blowout Fun). Shortly after he arrived, a vicious knocking came at our door. I say vicious, because it wasn’t just one, or two, or ten knocks. It was a constant, frantic knocking on our front door that did not cease until I opened the door to reveal… J.R. and Micah.

So excited they could barely complete a coherent sentence, they managed to sputter out enough information to get across their main point: A certain local grocery store was throwing out ALL of their frozen food. But here’s the catch–it was still frozen. Perfectly good food was being tossed, simply because it had spent a few hours thawing the day before. Upon making this discovery, they did what any other self-respecting just-barely-no-longer-a-college-student would do. They raided the dumpster for all it was worth, and packed their freezer so full of food that they had to hold things in with their hands while closing the door. They had come to our apartment to share this good fortune with us, and invite me to dive for a freezer full of my own bounty.

I would of course have been a fool to pass up an opportunity for armfuls of free frozen goods. So, Matthew and I went with them. Sure enough, the dumpster behind this particular local grocery store was quite a find. It was almost as though it had been arranged specially to be raided. This giant dumpster was nearly full of non-smelly trash, on top of which was laid a layer of cardboard, upon which, at the very top of the dumpster, sat two solid feet of all sorts of frozen goods.

seriously look at all that foodGrabbing all that I thought our freezer could hold, I piled on the Toaster Strudels, frozen juice concentrates, boneless skinless chicken breasts, and cheesecakes. Sadly, Matthew was unable to join in the fun, since he was not to travel back home to Vancouver (a three hour drive) until Sunday. Occasionally, a car would drive by, and all four of us would jump down from the dumpster, and walk around aimlessly, as though we were attending to some important, legitimate business behind the grocery store. I think now I know what a crows and raccoons feel like. Or maybe not.

At any rate, once I had what I believed to be a freezer-full, we drove back to the apartment, bid farewell to J.R. and Micah, and packed it all in. Our freezer was filled nearly to capacity, although we did not have to hold it in to shut the door. In fact, two months later, and we still haven’t had to buy frozen chicken again. Or juice. Or Toaster Strudels. Okay well maybe we never bought Toaster Strudels to begin with. Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is, free food is good. Yeah. In fact, that’s today’s moral. Free food is good.

– Tim

Always accept an opportunity for free food. Always.
Always accept an opportunity for free food. Always.

Tire Blowout Fun!

Recently we took our first round-trip road trip together, from Woodinville, Washington to Rosamond, California, to be with Jeni’s family during Christmas. Our trip began on Saturday, December 21st. We packed up our car for the week-long journey, and set out to downtown Seattle, to watch The Two Towers at the Cinerama with a group of our friends. Not a bad way to start a road trip, if you ask me. After the movie, we drove as far as Vancouver, and stayed the night with my (Tim’s) parents.

sweet blowoutOn Sunday, just as we were about to hit the road, my dad (Norm) did a last minute check over the car to make sure it was in good order. Not that he doesn’t trust his son, but he just likes to watch out for him. Good thing, too, because as it turns out, they had run over a nail that morning, and the back-left tire was leaking fast. Ah hah, no big deal, we’ll just have it repaired. WRONG! As it turns out, tire places aren’t open on Sundays. So… what to do… Again with the good idea, Norm came up with a scheme whereby Matthew (my brother) and I would switch tires, since Matthew’s car was the same model as ours and only one year different. Perfect. Half an hour later, as we are heading out for real, Norm asked “Do you want to check the spare tire, to make sure it has air in it?” Considering that the trunk was full of Christmas gifts for Jeni’s family, and the presents we had just received from my family, we weren’t too keen on that idea. Besides, we had fixed our tire problem. Clear sailing from here on out. I’m sure the spare tire is fine. So off we went.

So, um… what’s with the blowout, then? Didn’t we fix the tire? Right. The back-left tire was fine. But when we stopped for gas in Grant’s Pass, just 42 miles from our destination, the front-right tire sprung a leak. In fact, we didn’t even notice the leak. The attendant (for those of you who don’t know, you can’t pump your own gas in Oregon, so all stations have attendants) came running over to us and told us about it. It was leaking so badly that he could hear it 30 feet away. As it turns out, we pulled the car just a tad bit too close to the curb while pulling away from the pump, and the wheel was turned just wrong such that the nozzle was pinched between the tire and the curb, and something gave (hint: it wasn’t the curb).

matches?!?This is where the story gets somewhat embarrassing. A sensible person would have stopped right there, at the gas station, put on the spare tire, and had the leak repaired the next day. But, I’m not a sensible person, I’m an engineer. Only a week before had I poured scalding hot Wassail from a Crock Pot into a jug without spilling a drop, using only a thin paper plate. So, when the attendant found out that the audible hissing from the tire could be stopped by pushing the nozzle to one side, I came up with a brilliant plan. Running inside, I grabbed a book of matches, which I then proceeded to smash in between the nozzle and the hubcap, thereby stopping the noise. No noise, no leak, right? Perfect. That will hold for a few more miles to Ashland.

Obviously, it didn’t. Although we did maintain a relatively low speed, about 4 miles down the road, the matchbook must have come loose, because the tire pretty much exploded. Fortunately we were near an exit, so, after cutting in front of a semi truck going 10mph faster than me, we exited the freeway and came to rest off the side of the road on a paved area.

Uh, where did the wheel go?You may think that at this point, we were pretty distraught. Think about it. We were sitting there, in the dark, on the side of a rarely-used exit, somewhere in southern Oregon (as in, endless fields and hills with very few people), with a smoldering, blown-out tire, and oh yeah, remember that spare that my dad wanted us to check??? For some reason, though, we were actually in quite good moods. Although it had been raining when we left Vancouver, it was completely dry here, we had a powerful flashlight, and, as it turns out, the spare tire was indeed in just dandy condition. Look, you can even see a smile on my face as I prepare to put the spare tire on.

So, I think I’ve just about rambled on enough now about a silly flat tire. We got the spare put on, and made it to Ashland okay, and the rest of the trip was just super.

I’m sure there’s a moral to this story somewhere… Lemme think… Okay, how about this: “Matches don’t fix tires.” Yeah. I like that.

– Tim

Matches don't fix tires.
Matches don’t fix tires.