Sonnet 2008

For two thousand and eight, these are the facts,
Of Tim and Jeni’s story of the year.

The windy island wedding of the Jacks;
Tim worked from home, not as an engineer.

We helped Tim’s parents move to a new home,
And saw the sights that Boston had to see.

On down to California did we roam.
Then welcomed our friends Bryan and Beckie.

Tim launched a new website: The Naked Loon.
We both became new members of the Seed.

At home we remodeled our entry room,
And vis’ted with Rebekah, yes indeed.

For Christmas time the Christmans came, and lo!
The year didst close with snow snow snow snow snow.

Tim and Jeni - 2008

2007 Year in Review Quiz

  1. What new pet(s) did we get?
    1. A box of one dozen starving-crazed weasels
    2. A purple gecko named Steve
    3. An eight-year-old husky named Malish
    4. An African Grey parrot named Sven that says “quivering” a lot
  2. What is the name of the new church we began attending?
    1. Seed
    2. Mushroom
    3. First Baptist Church of the Totally Awesome
    4. Warm Fuzzies Chapel
  3. What two cities did Tim visit on business with Genie?
    1. Bellevue, WA and Kirkland, WA
    2. Reykjavik, Iceland and Cairo, Egypt
    3. Hobbitton and Mordor
    4. Atlanta, GA and Chicago, IL
  4. Which of the following accurately describes our first road trip of the year?
    1. Down the Oregon and Northern California coast to visit family in San Francisco and Tim’s old professor from SPU, now at California Baptist University
    2. North into Canada, seeking fame and riches in remote frozen towns, working our way across the countryside by selling novelty toothbrushes
    3. East through Idaho and Montana into the hinterland of North Dakota on a quest for the seven sacred stones of Crackerton, which combined form the key to unlock the gate of Suruth, entrance to the ancient tomb of the music-warrior Jorash, whose legendary flute was able to tame even the wildest beast
    4. To the grocery store for milk
  5. What did we spend most of our free time doing in the summer?
    1. Inventing a new type of egg-beater, the yolk-o-tastic XR9742
    2. Writing a book: “How to break your spouse’s spirit in ten easy steps”
    3. Stealing flowers, bushes, ferns, and berry vines from the abandoned property next door
    4. Taking classes in acting, ju-jitsu, flower arrangement, and hostile takeovers
  6. Which of the following was not part of our trip to the Olympic National Park with Joy, Heather, and Sam?
    1. Visiting a natural hot springs (very natural, if you get my drift)
    2. Hiking through the woods in the rain
    3. Staring down a deer in the middle of the road
    4. Five-hour campsite pillow-fight, followed by a flaming marshmallow-eating contest
  7. What did we do for our five-year wedding anniversary?
    1. Stayed a night in a fancy lodge, hiked to a remote mining ghost town, and went for a relaxing drive through some small towns in east King County
    2. Planted a tree
    3. Visited a zoo populated entirely by monkeys
    4. Got into a screaming match and broke all our dishes
  8. What was the purpose of Jeni’s visit to Dallas?
    1. To scout out headquarters for Tim’s upcoming master heist
    2. To find out first hand whether or not you can, in fact, mess with Texas
    3. To eat a 72oz steak in one sitting
    4. To visit with her best friend Heather, her sister Rebekah, and her friend Debbie
  9. Describe Rachel & Adam’s visit to Seattle.
    1. Jeni & Rachel got Rachel some new clothes and a new hairstyle, while Tim & Adam bonded over Xbox 360 and Wii
    2. Jeni & Rachel joined a belly-dancing troupe while Tim & Adam hunted cougar in the mountains, armed only with butter knives and slingshots
    3. The four of us began work on a massive underground fortress to house our secret mission control center
    4. Lots and lots of awkward silence
  10. Who did we spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with?
    1. Thanksgiving with the Amish in Pennsylvania, Christmas with astronauts on the space station
    2. Thanksgiving with Australian troops in Uzbekistan, Christmas with a family of bears in Alaska
    3. Thanksgiving with Tim’s family in Vancouver, Christmas with Jeni’s family in Rosamond
    4. Nobody – we stayed home and slept all day for both holidays
  11. Which of the following did we experience in the last week of 2007?
    1. Driving from Seattle to California then to Southern Florida with Rebekah
    2. Ringing in the new year on a crowded Gulf Coast island beach town
    3. Preparing for the island wedding of Jeni’s best friend Heather
    4. Having the car break down on the island beach town on New Years Eve, the day before the wedding
    5. All of the above

Click here to check your answers.

Timothy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

all it has is a sunroof

all it has is a sunroof

I gave notice at Valberg and now I’m starting a new job at Genie with more responsibility and more stress and when I went to look at electric bicycles for my commute I wrecked my car and the police gave me a ticket and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

At court I contested the ticket and three people before me got their tickets thrown out but the judge didn’t care and I had to pay a hundred dollars. We went looking for a new car and I said I wanted a brand-new car with leather seats and tinted windows and cruise control and a sunroof. We got a 2001 Saturn and all it has is a sunroof. I think I’ll move to Australia.

Who needs dancing?

Who needs dancing?

Jeni got her interior design diploma from the Art Institute and I had to go to her portfolio day and set up and fetch lunch and just sit in the corner all day. I said I was going to play my DS. I said, if I don’t get to play DS I am going to be really bored. No one even answered. I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

In June Jeni’s sister Rachel got married to Adam and Jeni was in the wedding and all I got to do was open the door for people when they showed up. During the ceremony I had to sit in the front row and I couldn’t even play DS. At the reception there was dancing, but I don’t know how to dance. Who needs dancing? I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

we could barely see the mountain

we could barely see the mountain

I could tell because we went to Mount St. Helens in August and there was so much smoke from fires that we could barely see the mountain and then we went to Ape Cave and it was just cold and wet and dark. The next day we went to Beacon Rock and Multnomah Falls and I had to walk all the way to the top of both of them. I got really tired having to walk that high up. I think I could see Australia.

We took swing dance lessons and Jeni stepped on my foot and our instructor played music from those dumb Eharmony commercials. We went horseback riding in Leavenworth for our anniversary and our guide had a horse with a cool black tail and Jeni got to ride a white horse. Guess whose horse was plain old boring brown? It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

Guess whose horse was plain old boring brown?

Guess whose horse was plain old boring brown?

That’s what it was, because after horseback riding we went into downtown Leavenworth and the restaurant I wanted to eat at was too crowded. Come back next week and we’ll be practically empty, they said. Next week, I said, I’m going to Australia.

While working on the still-unfinished top-secret website project J.R. made me work on messy code and then when I started crying because of the code Pete said I was a crybaby and while I was punching Pete for saying crybaby Jeni came home and scolded me for having messy code and fighting. I am having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year, I told everybody. No one even answered.

I had to set the table.

I had to set the table.

So then we decided to build a new living room and bedroom in our garage. Jeni chose the layout of the rooms. Jeni chose the color of the walls and the lighting. I chose to hire someone to do the construction for us but then our bank account said we can’t afford that. My friends made me do all the construction work with them, but they can’t make me enjoy it.

When my parents and brothers and Rachel and Adam and Joy and Heather all came over for Thanksgiving the remodel wasn’t totally done. I had to spend Thanksgiving morning installing the new projector and surround sound system. I showed everyone the unfinished closet. I showed them where a shelf would be if we were finished and I showed them where our new painting would go if we had time to hang it up. We were going to eat at one o’clock but my parents were late and the food took forever to cook and instead of playing DS while I waited for the food I had to set the table. Everyone said they had a good time, but I think they wished they were in Australia. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

wished they were in Australia.

wished they were in Australia.

My Seattle Bubble website only got over a thousand hits a day. I lost four times in a row at my new train board game. We went to my parents’ for Christmas and I put too much oil in the truck. Jeni quit her job but we still had to go to their boring Christmas party, where I couldn’t even play DS and her boss didn’t give her a bonus like everyone else. I hope you sit on a tack, I said to her boss. I hope the next time you get a double-decker strawberry ice-cream cone the ice cream part falls off the cone part and lands in Australia.

It has been a terrible, horrible, no good very bad year. Jeni says some years are like that. Even in Australia.

2004 & 2005 in Review

Well it’s that time of the year again. “Time for what,” you ask? It is time for another year in review letter! “But wait,” you protest. “It’s not Christmas time any more. Isn’t it a bit late for this?” No, no it is in fact not too late. See that’s just one of the many things that make this letter so special. Many people send out a Christmas letter, but this is no Christmas letter. This is a year in review letter, which is clearly a different thing all together. For one thing, it does not neglect the oft-ignored days of December 26th through 31st. Also, this particular letter is a super-magnificent, extra-length two years in review letter. What else makes this letter special? Well I suppose you’ll just have to read on to find out. Or alternatively, you could stop reading right now and live the rest of your life with the horrible nagging feeling that you’ve been missing something. It’s up to you.

Tim on an Astoria beach

Tim on an Astoria beach

The intent of this letter is for me, Timothy (there are some who call me… Tim?), to update you on not just one, but two action-packed years of Ellis household happenings. This is of course due to the fact that the closing of 2004 was conspicuously lacking a year in review letter. I can’t elaborate on the reasons for this other than to vaguely allude to filthy squirrels, but whatever the cause, the result is that twice as much information must now be packed into relatively the same amount of space. As such, I should probably stop talking about the letter and actually get around to letting the letter talk about the last two years. Ready, set, go.

2004 started off on a somewhat awkward note when my best friend J.R. took me to a beautiful waterfall in a secluded back-woods Oregon forest and proposed. Of course, I had to turn him down, so instead he proposed to his girlfriend Jen two weeks later while Jeni hid nearby and took pictures so the memories could last for a lifetime.

In February, we got tired of spending $850 each month on rent, so we decided to move somewhere cheaper—a lot cheaper. When our friends Pete & Kimberly bought a house in Lynnwood, their former residence in Kenmore became available for little more than a song, and of course we jumped on the opportunity. I mean that literally. As in we actually went to their old house and jumped. We were pretty excited about saving money. With the move came not only a new address and a ridiculously hard to find house, but also the ability to have pets. Since one of my life goals is to operate my own personal zoo, we got right on that by getting two ferrets in March (Fezzik & Iliana), “rescuing” a Siberian Husky from a local shelter in June (Latcka), and getting two more ferrets in August (Grizzly & Dimitri). We also discovered a delightful litter of five one-month-old kittens in the attic in May, but couldn’t keep any of them due to Jeni’s allergies (they and their stray mother went to a local no-kill shelter). Yes, you read that right. They were living in our attic for at least four weeks before we found them.

Latcka demonstrates her attack pose

Latcka demonstrates her attack pose

April brought Jeni a new part-time job for our friends from church Yen & Veronica, whose new baby Zayn needed taken care of two days a week. Jeni was glad to do it and both of us were glad to have a little extra financial help in paying off the remaining school loans.

J.R.’s January proposal led to a June wedding in Astoria, Oregon, in which I had the great honor of being the “best man.” The weekend trip to Astoria was both pleasant and relaxing, and the wedding went smoothly. Two interesting notes about the church they got married in: 1) It can be seen in the background of the opening scene in the movie Goonies. 2) I can personally vouch that all of the windows in the sanctuary were shiny and spotless for the ceremony.

Jeni’s brother Michael came up to visit in August, and her other brother Darrell Jonathan came back and stayed a few weeks with us after we drove down to California for Thanksgiving. We showed them both all the local sites and gave them the full “Seattle experience,” which essentially consists of visiting the Space Needle, sitting in traffic, and getting rained on.

To celebrate our anniversary in October we spent a weekend on Orcas Island, enjoying nature and taking in the “island lifestyle,” which as far as we could tell involves not going out to eat or doing any shopping other than groceries after 6:00 PM, fending off sea otters from under one’s deck, and complaining that President Bush has personally destroyed the island’s tourism industry.

Just before Thanksgiving we made the first major purchase of our married life when we bought a new-to-us pickup truck. Although the truck doesn’t get as good of gas mileage as our cars, we decided to get a truck so we would be able to transport furniture, loads of dirt, and go places with our dog Latcka without getting her white hair all over everything in the car. Personally I didn’t mind the appearance of a fresh blanket of snow covering the entire interior, but Jeni wasn’t okay with it for some reason. Go figure.

2004 closed out with Jeni’s involvement in a local non-profit theatre group and their production of A Christmas Carol. In her capacity as the Assistant Stage Manager she was responsible for corralling the unruly actors, ensuring that the constantly disappearing props got on stage at the right time, and tending to the costumes’ emotional needs.

Brock hauls away the junk

Brock hauls away the junk

Now for those of you that are still with us, it’s time to move on to 2005. Right at the start of the year I joined forces with J.R., Jon, and Pete to form a crime-fighting super team. As a secondary objective we are working on a top-secret super-awesome website that will become wildly successful and make us all gigantic bags of money when we finish it. Stay tuned for more info next year, when our year in review letter comes engraved on platinum tablets.

Honestly, nothing else really interesting happened until May, when Jeni took a road trip down to California for her sister Rebekah’s graduation and her friend Beckie’s wedding. Joining her for the quest was my brother Matthew. I was unable to join them because I had to save my vacation hours for a later trip, but I don’t want to ruin the upcoming paragraph’s surprise. That would make the paragraph pretty sad.

In June we sold one of our cars, since we didn’t really need two nearly-identical cars in addition to a truck. After three attempts we found someone on Craig’s List to buy our 1991 four-door Cavalier. They were so excited about having a car that when we got back from the test drive they practically threw the cash in our face, grabbed the keys, and ran out the door.

The extra cash came in handy, since around that same time Jeni started a one-year program in Residential Design (interior design) at the Art Institute of Seattle. She has classes three nights a week, and gets to learn all kinds of neat stuff like how to draw houses, choose fabrics, tie-dye shirts, and build rocking chairs out of cradles.

Jeni on her way to work

Jeni on her way to work

As I mentioned earlier, the place we’re living in Kenmore is extremely cheap. In fact, due to a surprising turn of events in late 2004, it’s actually even cheaper now than it was when we moved in. By “cheaper” I mean “free.” We pay utilities and that’s it. Of course, having free housing doesn’t make us immune to the desire to own our own home, so throughout early 2005 we spent a lot of time “window shopping” and even finding out how much of a home loan we could get pre-approved for. Unfortunately this whole process was pretty depressing, as we realized that all we could reasonably afford would be a grass hut on a thousand square foot lot located in the tiny town of Index. Partly as an outlet for my frustration at the ridiculous cost of housing and partly as a way to track home price trends in the area to search for a glimmer of hope, I started a blog in August called Seattle Bubble. On it I track all the local news stories about housing prices and trends and post them online with brief comments. Hundreds of people read my blog on a regular basis.

Since we’ve decided to stay in our ghetto (but free) digs for a while, throughout the year we have been busy making various improvements both indoors and outdoors. One noteworthy example is that our awesome mailman Brock came and hauled away no fewer than nine dead appliances that were strewn about in the yard, allowing us to create a vegetable garden, from which we had a bountiful harvest of tomatoes and squash this fall. Brock also hauled away hundreds of pounds of scrap metal (including three car engines) that a previous owner was storing in the garage apparently in hopes of one day building a spacecraft. This allowed us to discover a leak in the garage roof, which I am still fighting with to this day. Once I fix the leak however, we will be able to convert the garage into useable rooms—practically doubling our livable square footage.

On our North Carolina trip

On our North Carolina trip

Also in August, we took a weekend trip to Spokane to be at the wedding of our friends Laura and Matt. Jeni did Laura’s makeup for the day, and I was happy to help run the sound board, sitting in for the intended sound man who had an unfortunate scheduling hiccup. August was a pretty eventful month overall, because a few weeks after we got back from the wedding, Jeni had her last days of caring for Zayn. The reason for the ending was that Yen & Veronica had their second baby girl in October, and shortly after this they returned to Singapore where Yen will be teaching accounting. We will miss them.

I have continued to work for Valberg, a small engineering firm in the town of Monroe, where I design electronic control systems for all sorts of things from half-million-dollar sports cars, to limousines, to fast boats. In order to help pay for school, and to gain experience relating to her classes in residential design, Jeni started a new job in September at a local store called Lighting Universe. She works as a sales associate in the showroom, where her responsibilities primarily involve helping people choose the right lighting for their rooms.

Speaking of lighting, this paragraph doesn’t have anything at all to do with lighting. In October I finally had enough vacation saved up, and we were able to make a long-planned trip to North Carolina to visit my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins. We had a great time while we were out there, and since our plane tickets were free (due to frequent flier miles), we were able to pack a ton of stuff into our two-week visit. We visited two historical towns, went to two beaches, drove east into the hill country, stood in the place where the first airplane flew, watched my little cousin Kari demonstrate her mad Tai Kwon Do skillz, built sweet LEGO houses, rode fast thrill rides, and were flashed by an octopus. Not necessarily in that order.

2005 was also a busy year for our church (The Anchor), as we made a number of changes in pursuit of God’s calling for our body. We have been trying to sell our building, so we could use the very large amount of resulting funds to rent more appropriate facilities, expand our ministries to the community, and invest the cash remainder. Also we split into two more localized bodies to foster a tighter sense of community and to help those in the north end of Seattle better reach their neighbors. These changes haven’t been easy, and a number of people have left the church for various reasons, but we are continuing to do our best as a group of believers to follow God’s will.

November and December were very busy months for us, that included my parents and my brother Peter coming up to our house for Thanksgiving, us driving down to California for Christmas, and Jeni spending time with her best friend Heather upon our return.

Our last bit of big news is that with the sending of this letter, Jeni and I are now debt-free! In a mere three and a half years we have eliminated nearly $40,000 in debt. Although nobody gave us a trophy for the occasion, we definitely have a high sense of accomplishment, and are quite happy to be financially free and completely independent. By the way Matthew, that’s six months less than four years, which means that even including $5,000 in debt that wasn’t from my schooling, I win. Booyah.

Well, that pretty much wraps it up for 2004 and 2005. I’m quite impressed with you for making it all the way through this marathon letter. If you want I will get you a trophy. I’d also like to take this opportunity to put down those that didn’t read this far, because—hey they’re not reading anyway so I can say whatever bad things I want about them. Just kidding, I love them even if their attention span is equivalent to that of a hummingbird.

May the blessings of our Lord be poured on you without restraint this year. Don’t be a stranger.
Sending our love,
Timothy & Jennifer

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!!



~ 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:

by Tim Ellis

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

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.