Archive for October, 2007
For the first time in my life I received a jury summons in the mail.
Not just any jury summon, mind you. This was a federal jury summons.
According to the paperwork that arrived, I’m put in a pool of potential jurors to hear federal cases for a four month period of time. During that four month period I can be called to go through the jury selection process (with advance notice given when I need to show up, of course). There’s a list of exemptions or hardship excuses you can petition the court to get out of it but since I don’t qualify for any of them I guess I’ll be calling a phone number once a week to see if they need me down at the federal courthouse.
Though I can’t say I look forward to actually sitting on a jury, I think it would be interesting experience to see how cases are actually prosecuted and defended and then have to weigh the evidence. A friend of mine sat on a sexual harassment case a couple years back and had some interesting stories to tell about the legal system and the case itself.
In any case it’s out of my hands when or if I’m summoned. The required paperwork has been mailed back to the courthouse. All I can do is wait and see what happens.
October 31st, 2007
One of the things that make being a dad absolutely worth it is spending a fun weekend with your kids taking them places they want to go, doing things that they want to do, and having an great time just being with them and watching them have so much fun.
The icing on the cake is when you tuck the oldest (and most talkative) kid into bed Sunday night, ask him what he enjoyed doing this weekend and he rattles off everything the two of you did together. Then he looks at you and tells you not to go to work the next day so he can do the same fun things all over again.
Moments like this make me so happy I choose to become a dad and are some of the happiest of my life.
October 29th, 2007
A surprising political ad appeared in the October 18 edition of The Crossroads Journal, a small, bi-weekly community paper that’s mailed to the residents of Eagle Mountain and other rapidly growing communities of northwest Utah County.
Well, it’s not too astonishing if you know what politics are like in the small, bedroom community I’ve called home for the last three years. Politics in Eagle Mountain can get downright nasty.
Since moving to Eagle Mountain, anonymous “informational” pamphlets have been left on my door by political groups targeting candidates and encouraging me to find out the “truth” about individuals or issues being discussed by the city council. Candidates for mayor and city council have refused to attend “meet the candidates” nights because they feared bias from the group sponsoring the event and decided to hold their own events on the same night. Recently, a member of the city council was charged with accepting $10,000 from a developer to finish her basement. The complaint against the councilwoman was initiated by a member of the city council who has acknowledged double-dipping into city funds in 2005 by using a city credit card to buy a hard drive for his laptop [and] then asking for city reimbursement. The money was paid back and charges were never filed.The advertisement that appeared in the local newspaper was a perfect example of the toxic political atmosphere that exists in what is otherwise a pleasant city. Under the headline “Know Before You Vote” the ad listed the tally of public records found for the last 15 years on the two mayoral candidates and six people running for city council. It also gave a website where these records could be viewed.
And what did those public records reveal?While one candidate for city council had a bankruptcy in his background, another had a divorce and two others each had a pair of traffic tickets. One of the mayoral candidates had three bankruptcies, two divorces, a disbarment from the Utah State Bar, a reinstatement to the Bar, a slew of small claim collections and lawsuits and four traffic tickets. (The same day the ad ran in The Crossroads Journal, the Provo Daily-Herald ran a story on this mayoral candidate stating that his real estate license had been revoked by the state’s Real Estate Commission on Wednesday over loan fraud.)
Compiling public records on those who seek public office and putting them on display for all to see is a good idea. Public records can be informative as to the integrity and honesty of those seeking office. Someone with a personal life so out of control that he has had multiple bankruptcies, divorces and other problems should make voters wonder how effectively this person can run a city.
But public records are not the final indication of whether or not someone is going to act with integrity while in public office. It’s doubtful that a public records search would have indicated that a previous mayor of Eagle Mountain, Kevin Bailey, would have lied about being abducted or another mayor, a former Utah highway patrol officer, Brain Olsen, would have been charged with seven third-degree felonies for misusing public funds.
Results of the public records search aside, what was truly bothersome about the ad is that those who paid for it remain anonymous. A visit to the website reveals that it was funded by concerned builders, developers and entrepreneurs –some of whom claim to live in Eagle Mountain –but no names, businesses or organizations are listed.
In short, it’s politics as usual. Eagle Mountain style.
It’s easy to disseminate politically damaging information — even if the information is true –so long as it’s done behind a cloak of anonymity. That way you don’t have to justify why you ran it or what you were really hoping to accomplish with the ad.
Those who ran the ad claim “this public information is presented for the sole purpose of informing the electorate and is not a statement for or against any political candidate or issue.”
If that’s true, then why not put your name on it?
If you’re going to list the public records of candidates for mayor and city council don’t hide behind an anonymous website. Instead, have the courage to declare the names, organizations, businesses and individuals who sponsored the ad and/or paid the private investigator for his work in compiling the records.
The voters of Eagle Mountain should know who’s paying for the advertisement containing a public records search so they can see what candidates these people have supported in the past. This gives the voters the chance to learn what political motivations, if any, were really behind the ad. It’s not secret that developers have funneled large amounts of cash into Eagle Mountain’s political campaigns. What if those who bought the ad turned out to be supporters of the candidates with big zeros next to their name in the public records search? Is it not reasonable to ask if the ad would have run if their candidate of choice would have had multiple bankruptcies and divorces?
While it may be legal for someone to run an anonymous advertisement, the ad itself is reminiscent of anonymous hit-and-run political tactics that are so often used to silence those who find themselves on the wrong side of a political issue. Those who profess so much concern for Eagle Mountain should be able to rise above the anonymous mud slinging and deal with the truth and facts.
If Eagle Mountain is going to stop being the political laughingstock of the state, it should not only demand more honesty and integrity from those who are running for office but also from those who use their resources to buy political ads in newspapers and otherwise work to influence the election.
October 26th, 2007
Is it really a good idea to have traffic reporters thanking and encouraging drivers to send text messages about traffic conditions to the radio station?
Every time I visit my family in the house I grew up in I better understand the saying: “You can’t go home again.”
I love kids but they’re very distracting when parents bring them to work and let them run around the office.
If you’re going to run a politically damaging political ad, you should have the courage to put your name on it. Sadly anonymous hit pieces are not only legal on the local level in Utah, they’re common practice in the small town I live in.
I one thing my home lacks is an office for me to do most of my writing. I guess that means it time to finish the basement.
This has been on of the most pleasant autumns I’ve ever experienced in Utah. The only downside is that it’s rained the last five weekends. So much for repainting the fence.
All the rain our area had received the last few weeks has made me stop and consider whether or not I’d enjoy living in a rainy place like Seattle.
Nothings is more frustrating than having someone come to you for your expertise in a particular subject then have them ignore your advice and tell you that you really don’t know what you’re talking about.
If anyone wants some ideas on how to make your writing focused and concise, check out the article titled “The Corrections“ in the Oct. 22 issue of The New Yorker.
If I had any talent at drawing, I’d combine those with my writing ability and create comic books.
My favorite emails are from strangers who happened to come across Room for Two and then let me know how much my story made them appreciate their spouse and kids more.
October 24th, 2007
One of the top local news stories on the drive home on Friday was that Hanna Montana added a second Salt Lake show to her tour to the delight of teens and parents throughout the Beehive State.
Since I didn’t know who Hanna Montana was, I did a Google search that night and discovered that she’s a Disney Channel show about a character named Miley Stewart (played by Miley Cyrus), who lives a double life as an average teenage girl at school during the day and a famous pop singer, Hannah Montana, at night, concealing her real identity from the public other than her close friends and family.
This weekend Marathon Girl and I watched The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. (Horrible movie, in case you were wondering. Bad acting, terrible screenplay, cliched plot, etc.). The one thing I did glean from the movie is that like Hanna Montana, Utah’s governor, Jon Huntsman Jr., also lives a double life. However instead of being a pop star, he’s a superhero named Reed Richards (a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic).
Here’s my proof:
Photo of Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
Photo of Reed Richards (a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic)
The similarity is striking, don’t you think?
I don’t know how the govenor manages to govern this state as well as save the world, but my hat’s off to such a public figure who can lead a double life and not have the press know about it.
October 22nd, 2007
I’ve posted a PDF of Room for Two’s cover and first chapter if anyone would prefer to read it that way or send it on to someone who might be interested in the book.
October 18th, 2007
My mom called me last night to inform me that my brother’s plane was landing and, due to a serious lack of communication, no one was at the airport to greet him. She was hurrying on her way and wanted to know if i wanted to go up and see him since I’d probably arrive before her.
I live an hour from the airport but drove as fast as I could through a driving rainstorm to get there and found my brother upbeat, cheerful, and very happy to finally see a familiar face.
I arrived home late and tired, but it was really nice to see him again after two years.
Welcome home, brother. I look forward to catching up with you this weekend.
October 17th, 2007
I feel bad for my brother. He should be home after spending the last two years living in Greece.
For the last two days he’s been stuck in the Athens airport. Fights have been canceled or delayed.
This morning I received short email this morning saying he had been at the airport for six hours waiting to know the status of his flight. He has no idea when he’ll leave or when he’ll arrive home. His life, for the moment, is in some sort of limbo until the airlines can get their act together and get a flight home.
I replied to his email telling him he’s going to be like the Tom Hanks character in the movie Terminal and live at the airport for the rest of his life.
I shouldn’t have told him that. Had I gone through the same ordeal when I was trying to leave Bulgaria, I don’t think I would have been too happy at the comparison.
Thankfully my brother is very good natured and will be so happy to be home that we’ll all laugh about the delays when we finally see him.
I just hope that’s sooner, rather than later.
October 16th, 2007
Sometimes you have weekends that you really look forward to. This is one of those weekend for me.
- Our middle child turns 2.
- My brother comes home after living in Greece for the last two years.
- We’re taking the kids to see some nearby sights for the first time.
- Marathon Girl and I get a night out by ourselves.
There is much to look forward to this weekend.
October 12th, 2007
An article about Room for Two appeared in The Signpost, the paper of Weber State University, today. I’ve pasted the text of the article below. However, if you read it on the The Signpost website, you can see a photo of my late wife — something I’ve never posted before.
WSU alumnus writes about spouse’s suicide in new novel, ‘Room for Two’
by Seth Durfee
“Young pregnant wife commits suicide,” that’s a headline, which never ran – although it happened to author Abel Keogh’s wife. Krista killed herself in November 2001.
“There’s a taboo about suicide,” said Keogh, who decided to help break that taboo by writing “Room for Two”, a novel about his late wife’s suicide.
Keogh, a Weber State University alumni, released his book August 2007. The book gives a straightforward look at his experience with his wife Krista, also a Weber State University graduate, who suffered from depression. She committed suicide at age 25 when she was seven months pregnant with their first child.
Keogh, who has since remarried and is the father of three children.
“After my late wife Krista’s death,” Keogh said, while holding two squirming sons on his lap in the living room of his Utah County home. “I tried to find on the Internet even one example of another pregnant woman committing suicide. I couldn’t.”
Keogh said a local newspaper ran an ongoing story about his wife’s death for a day or two, but as soon as the paper realized was a suicide, all coverage stopped.
“You’re not supposed to talk about it,” he said.
The book relates the events following Krista’s suicide. Keogh stressed the fact that he did not write the book to say, “I got through it and so can you.” He wrote it to try and chip away at the taboo surrounding suicide. “People should know that it’s OK to talk about,” Keogh said.
He made almost daily entries on a blog after his wife’s death.
“Ninety percent of what you find in the book is not in the blog and, in my opinion, the real meat of the story.”
Keogh’s motivation for writing the book is very personal.
“I didn’t feel like there was a story out there that was really helpful to me.” He said he wanted to write the book that he would have pulled off the shelf after his wife died.
“I’ve gotten a few e-mails from people who haven’t necessarily had a suicide in their life, and they say how much it’s helped them,” Keogh said. At the time he recognized there was a problem but he didn’t know what to do.
“Looking back I can see that there are things that weren’t right. If she hadn’t been pregnant I would have asked ‘What’s wrong with you,’” Keogh said.
For those who don’t know what to do, Diane George, a licensed clinical social worker at the McKay-Dee Behavioral Health Institute in Ogden has some insights.
“Signs of depression can be Anhedonia, or a lack of interest from activities that normally provide pleasure, lack of appetite, weight gain or weight loss,” George said. “People suffering from depression can also become isolated from friends and family or have a lack of concentration.”
George said if an individual is experiencing these types of changes or feelings, talking to someone who will listen is a good course of action.
“Take a stress inventory,” George said, “Reevaluate your status. Decide if the depression is situational or biological”
George said those who commit suicide often feel hopeless and alone.
Rebekah Clements, long-time friend of both Keogh and Krista, said she is still trying to cope with the guilt that came following the unexpected suicide.
“Krista’s story was even more difficult to talk about because she was pregnant,” Clements said. “There wasn’t a support group for something like that. We really were alone.” Clements said that it was very difficult when Keogh gave her one of the first copies of the manuscript. “There had been five years from the suicide to when I read it. It opened up a lot of memories that I’ve tried to forget,” she said.
There isn’t anything you can say about a situation like that, explained Clements, but maybe this is the only chance to bring a silver lining to the whole story. “I hope Krista would think two things about the book: that she would be proud of Abel for writing it and that the book will help people,” Clements said.
“If I can help even one person feel like they aren’t alone with something like what I went through,” Keogh said, “then I did what I wanted to do.”
October 10th, 2007
I apologize for the dearth of updates. I’ve been using a lot of my free time writing my second book or working on some promotional efforts for Room for Two — many of which should be bearing fruit over the next month. Stay tuned.
October 9th, 2007
Anyone looking for a good DVD to rent this weekend might want to consider the recently released We Are Marshall.
For those who are rolling your eyes thinking that We Are Marshall is just another sports movie about a team that has to pull together and win, you’re only partially right. The movie is about building a new football team from scratch after most of the players and coaches of Marshall University are killed in a tragic plane crash in November 1970. But that’s just the setting of the movie.
We Are Marshall is really a movie about dealing with death and loss and how individuals and communities cope with the loss of loved ones. It’s a movie about those who choose to move on and those who want to let the past hold them back.
And the desire to be held back by some sense of mourning is tempting. The university considers canceling the football program but only the quick thinking of one of the surviving football players convinces the board of trustees to let the football program continue.
Then there’s Red Dawson (Matthew Fox), the only member of the coaching staff who wasn’t on the plane because he opted to drive home and make a recruiting stop on the way. He’s wracked by survivor’s guilt, the loss of his mentor Marshall’s head coach Rick Tolley (an un-credited roll by Robert Patrick) — and the fact that he personally recruited many of the players who died after promising their mothers he’d watch after them while they were on the team.
After the program is reinstated, Dawson is offered the head coach job. He turns it down and spends his time building a shed in his back yard. Returning to football — a game that he loves — is something he doesn’t want to do.
Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey) takes the job that no coach in the country wants: building a football team from scratch in the shadow of dead players and coaches. Not only does he have to field a team, he has to help Dawson (who finally agrees to be an assistant coach for one final year) and the university president, other players, and members of the community to know that the best way to accept their loss and climb out from under the shadow of the dead is to play football.
In one emotional scene following the blowout loss to Morehead State, Dawson tells Lengyel that they aren’t honoring the dead because he thinks the team is playing poorly and losing. Lengyel fires back that the Marshall football program isn’t about winning right now but healing the community and the individuals who are still mourning over loved ones. He tells Dawson that building a football program, even one that’s only marginally successful is about giving the people a chance to rebuild their lives. He tells Dawson:
One day, not today, not tomorrow, not this season, probably not next season either but one day, you and I are gonna wake up and suddenly we’re gonna be like every other team in every other sport where winning is everything and nothing else matters. And when that day comes, well that’s…that’s when we’ll honor them [the dead players and coaches].
In another scene, the morning before Marshall’s home opener, Lengyel takes his team to the resting spot of six unidentified players. He gives them an inspiring speech about the dead players and coaches but at the end proclaims, “The funerals end today!”
His message is clear: stop living in and thinking about the past. Instead start doing what you were put on Earth to do and start living again.
Despite the dark and sad feeling that penetrates the movie, we see how players, individuals, and the community are slowly moving on with their lives.
We see an unopened case of beer that was to be used to console the players before 1970 teams’ win before the fateful crash, sitting untouched until a new player opens a can and is joined by others. We see the fiance of one of the dead players take the advice of the should-have-been father-in-law and leave Hunington, West Virginia to move on with her life and not be held back by the past. And we see how the community celebrates the re-built team’s surprising victory against Xavier by staying on the field for hours after the game.
Sadly, not everyone makes the decision to move on and we are shown how their decisions contrast with those who move forward.
Losing a loved one can be difficult and We Are Marshall portrays that agony in very heart wrenching scenes. But it contains a message of hope and shows how an individual and community can move on after the tragic death of a loved one — even many loved ones — and become stronger in the process.
October 3rd, 2007
We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog update to announce I benched 200 lbs. today!!!!
I’m 10 lbs. from benching my weight and life-long goal.
You can now return to your normal web-related activities.
October 1st, 2007