Archive for August, 2008

Ehics? What’s that?

Wanted to make sure I pointed out a site I found linked from the What’s Next Blog. The site is EthicsCrisis, and if you want some evidence that the world is going to Hell in a Handbasket, I offer this site as exhibit A.

There are examples of outright fraud, lying, theft, conspiracy, as well as more petty things like not reporting instances of the same, and even one or two – only two, that I saw – where the conduct is actually perfectly ethical. The confessions are anonymous, and some of them are certainly fabricated, but many of them are just too believable not to be real.

There are rating buttons below each one where you can indicate whether you think the conduct is Always Acceptable (1) or Never Acceptable (10), but I wonder about the ratings. All of the current average ratings are either 5 or 6. Either people really cannot tell anymore what is and is not ethical behavior, or the rating average mechanism is broken.

Maybe I’m naive, but I’m going with the latter. Surely we’re better than this.

Some Couple Weeks (redux)

In light of Helaman 5:40-42, let’s try this again.

A couple weeks ago when my computer went out, I learned to search local classifieds, especially Craigslist and KSL, and found, within one day, a faster, better computer that does everything I need except handle my TV tuner, for about half what I was going to have to pay on Ebay, plus there was no shipping.

The vacuum is still not fixed, but we have met a really great repair guy who understands customer service, a thing I really thought was dead. Meantime, there are other vacuums. I think. Not that we have one.

The car is still busted, but it was a great blessing that the belt did not break while I was stopped dead in Midvale in rush-hour traffic (two minutes before that), nor did it cause me to veer into the semitrailer cruising next to me, nor was I in one of the middle lanes, where I usually am. I could easily make my way over to the service lane in the middle of the freeway, Jeanette was almost instantly available (I was only about 10 miles from home), and during the 45 minutes I was there not only did my phone not die, but I was also unmolested by any police. We had the tow cables. Really, it was pretty easy.

About the chickens, well, there isn’t that much great to say about that. However, we are in the process of replacing them, and who knows? We’re getting a much larger run of chicks this time. They arrive the week of September 8, just in time for Ethan’s 5th birthday (and the arrival back in the states of my parents-in-law). And here’s something else. While we were contemplating whether to shoot the dog that killed our feathered friends, Alexander said “but somewhere there are probably little kids crying because they think their dog is dead. We can’t make the disaster worse.” It takes tragedy to reveal the heart of a person, and I am very proud to say that my son’s heart remains as kind and decent as ever.

Addendum: yesterday, as I was driving west on Lehi Main Street in the evening, I was momentarily blinded by the sun and hit the car in front of me, pushing it into the car in front of it. My car still being drivable, I pulled off to the side and ran over to the poor little gal in her Civic to see if she was all right. She said she was, though she was weeping. Then I went to the Jetta in front of her to make sure he was okay, and he was. So we inspected his car. There was no damage. At all. He didn’t get hit very hard, so that wasn’t surprising. The front bumper of the Civic was also undamaged. So I went back to the rear of the Civic. Nothing. And I mean, nothing. I hit the car hard enough to push it, but there was no evidence of contact. On my car, the bumper had come loose, but since that first happened three years ago, that was nothing new.

Within 10 minutes, everyone decided to just let it go, and we all went on with our lives.

Black cloud lifted. On we go.

Some Couple Weeks

Last week, my home computer gave up the ghost. I shut it down one night, and in the morning, nothing. No boot cycle. Nothing. That usually means a blown motherboard, though I couldn’t tell you how it happened, so rather than go and get a new one and see if I could get all my components to work with it, I stripped the components and went and got another computer. If you’re wondering why no blog for two weeks, that’s most of the reason. Reassembling all the data and all the programs is a process that is still going on. It takes forever and it isn’t cheap.

Also last week, the central vac stopped working. Central vac is great, but it’s biggest drawback is that if something gets jammed in the piping, you’re screwed. It costs a good deal to get it out again, unless you are hugely fortunate and can do it yourself. Well, we have one or two kids here, and they have one or two friends, and things are constantly getting jammed. Sometimes we can get them out. Not this time. Not only that, but the guy comes out, fixes the problem, and within one day it starts again; exactly the same problem in exactly the same place. We haven’t been able to vacuum the house in over two weeks. Maybe in your house that’s livable; here, it is not. We need the vacuum every day. There is an oppressive and increasing amount of crap on the floor and it’s starting to really weigh on Jeanette, especially, who has to be around it every day and can’t really get it clean with a dustbuster.

Last Friday, as I was driving home from the home office in Bountiful, just tooling along in the fast lane doing a relatively sedate 75, the the engine up and stops. I rolled to a stop about a quarter mile from the Bangerter highway exit – thank Heaven it wasn’t much, much further north – over against the concrete dividers and tried to get it to start. No luck. I had to get Jeanette to come get me – fortunately she could – and tow me to my folks’ place, where we could get the car over to the mechanic.

He called about half an hour later and told us the integrated timing belt broke and we’d have to spend about $500 just to find out if the car had any serious damage to it, which it probably did. A new engine costs $3500. I bought the car to be my primary transportation, leaving Elanor, our Dodge Stratus, for my wife, so she didn’t have to drive our gas-guzzling 15-passenger van to the grocery store while the kids were in school. We had owned it for a little over two weeks.

Those things are a little tough to take. They hurt our wallets, which are none too fat to begin with, and they take up huge chunks of time, of which we have even less. They kill productivity, stop momentum, wear us out. But in the end, they’re just things, and things we can get along without.

But then yesterday morning, a stray dog got into our back yard. We were sitting down to scriptures when we heard him barking at our cats, so we sent Alexander, our animal lover (and our oldest and largest child) to shoo him away. Friendly dog. Didn’t bark at him and wasn’t mean.

A few minutes later, Xander came in white as a sheet and told us he thought the dog had killed all our chickens. We have ten chickens of all sizes and ages, all different kinds, many of whom were given to us by locals, but some we raised from eggs since the day they were hatched. They were all young, and just starting to lay. We built them a very sturdy coop and run, and were looking forward to a long cycle of egg production, something we really need. They had names. They had personalities. They were, like all living things that we come to know – animals, people, everyone – part of our family.

I say “were” because Xander was right. Silky, Xander’s favorite, was lying in the middle of the run. Chickens don’t lie down on their sides, except for one reason. The coop exterior door was open, and Honey, Charlotte’s favorite, was lying in the doorway. Outside on the grass by the woodpile three of our bantams were scattered in a mass of feathers. When we opened the coop, we found the Chicklets, the three Buff Orpingtons we raised from the day they were born, all together as always, all dead.

Reconstructing, the gate had been left open and the dog – it was a bird dog breed – got through into the back yard, jumped up on the coop and broke into the run. It killed and ate one of the bantams, then killed Silky in the run while the rest of the flock tried escaping into the coop. But the dog followed, killed the Chicklets, who would, just like our three older boys, never leave each other no matter the danger, then killed Honey and in doing so knocked the door open, so the three remaining bantams escaped through the door. The dog caught them and killed them a few feet away. Because most of it happened inside the coop, we never heard a thing.

By this point, of course, the girls are weeping, and the rest of us are
having trouble ourselves. We loved these birds. What made it worse
was that we, all of us, felt responsible for not having protected them. They were in trouble and needed our help, and we weren’t there. We knelt together as a family – nobody’s going to school after this, I can tell you, not today – and prayed that God would forgive us for not being better stewards, and that He’d help us not hate the dog, who was just being a dog. Our family has had some shocks, and we’ve always prayed for help when they came, and our prayers are always answered.

They were this time as well. It was a terrible day, a very sad day, but we were comforted and it didn’t end up being traumatic. We worked together to bury the chickens (except the one we ate – hey, it’s what chickens are for), get the house cleaned up a little, get the garden back in shape. We pulled together and talked about what happens to us when we die. Fortunately, none of us have had to face that yet. But it’s coming, and we need to be ready. And it turns out that our best egg layer survived the attack. Crispy is the one that knows how to get out of the run, and she did it when the dog attacked. She got bit – there are feathers all over – but she escaped. How she’ll deal with being all by herself instead of part of a flock, we don’t know, but we’re very grateful she’s still with us.

I don’t know what this is all for. We’re under a black cloud at the moment. We’re not able to replace the car, and it will take months to replace the chickens. Huge amounts of time and money, feed and water, exacting care so that eventually – next March, now – we’ll start to get eggs again. We can survive without another car, though it will cost us both in the wallet and on the clock.

But we’re here. All of us are still here. Thanner is still running around the house and laughing, and it’s a school day. Life goes on.

Psalm 121:1. We’ll make it.

Melanie Carol Jones Mellenthin is 33.

A little late, just a couple days, but here we are nonetheless.

On August 2, 1975, my 2-year-old sister Elizabeth caught a catfish. We were fishing below the dam at Lake Barcroft, at the mouth of Holmes Run, our favorite fishing spot. We were there because in 1975, the hospitals still didn’t allow husbands to be in close contact with their wives during delivery of a baby. So Dad took the three of us fishing. And Melanie Carol was born at Alexandria Hospital that afternoon.

Melanie was very often more than the rest of us. She was willful and stubborn, and cute as a button. We have video to prove it. She grew up rebellious, was the first of us to smoke and drink (I think, the timeline is a little fuzzy for me since I was alternately 3000 and 10,000 miles away). She got kicked out of the house more times than anyone else. She attempted to care very little about that.

But she didn’t succeed. By the time I was married to Jeanette Melanie was coming around, and a few years after that she married a BYU cheerleading captain, settled in Draper, and started having children.

Well, there were a couple of fits and starts on that. I remember Melanie sacked out on my couch in my basement after surgery that was somewhat reproductively threatening. She and Brian really wanted a child, and though it looked for a while that they wouldn’t succeed,they finally did have one.

Then two more at once. Then something like fourteen a year. For a decade. I think they have seventy children now.

And a weird thing happened. Melanie sits in the center of the family, with three above and three below her. She became everyone’s friend. She’s the social pivot of the family. When we want to do something as a family, we have Catherine plan it but it’s Melanie we call to find out what’s going on. She has the coolest ideas, the hippest clothes, the most interesting decorating ideas; she’s the one we all want to be when we grow up.

Not that this goes to her head – she’ll read this and say “whatever” – but in many ways she’s the glue that makes the family stick together. She takes the job seriously, and we all benefit from it.

Her family is a miracle, and so is she.

Love you, pocket. Happy birthday.