Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ride Your Bike

Today I got out on my bike for the first time in about eight months. For a guy who rode a bike 12 months out of the year for four years, that was a very long break. It felt good to get in and give the bike a good tune up. Get my hands dirty again. While mechanics are not totally my thing, it feels good to just dig in every once in a while and make something run smoothly. I recommend it to you all, yes even the girls. It's worth it. You don't have to make it an all-time everyday thing, but just give it a whirl.

Even more important than tuning my bike up was taking it for a test spin to make sure everything worked properly. I've heard a lot of people talking about how much they love running. Often, they'll talk about getting a runner's high. Well, I'd like to introduce you to the idea of a biker's high. I just got out there and pedaled, and I just felt pure joy. I may not have made it up to Timpview and back in my fastest time ever (eight months off the bike tends to lead to a little bit of deterioration of the muscles involved) but that was one of the favorite times I ever remember doing that ride. I plan on biking the Provo trail sometime next week. I think I'm going to be biking a lot this summer. It just makes me happy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Fellowship of the Ring

I recently began rereading the Lord of the Rings series. If you haven't read these books, you need to. They belong right up there with all the good classics. There is a reason these books are basically the founding of the fantasy genre, and why so many following books are basically reworks of them. I've just been reminded of these reasons as I've read them.

Today, I finished The Fellowship of the Ring. What a fine example of writing. Tolkien has a way with the English language. And all languages, actually, seeing as he completely invented at least one of his own in Elvish. Tolkien is a true master of taking you out of your own world and into someone else's. Which is the goal of almost all books, if you think about it. Writing is about exposing people to new thoughts and ideas; new perspectives. It takes us from the world we know, and replaces it, at least temporarily, with a new world. The only thing the fantasy genre does different is change more of the rules in the transported world. I get why the fantasy genre gets such a bad rap; let's be honest, there is a lot of really poorly written fantasy out there (Twilight and some Harry Potter books anyone?). But at the same time, there are some truly superb fantasy writers who, I feel, don't get their due in the English canon. Far too few curricula include a foray into Tolkien or Lewis. It's not just a matter of being published for long enough; plenty of books written afterwards have made it into the canon.

Sorry, I really meant to focus on the awesomeness of the Fellowship in this post. But "Rants and Raves" is the title of this blog, so you really can't be surprised that I didn't stay on topic. Truly, though, the Fellowship of the Ring is one of the best books I have ever read. If you haven't read it, you need to. Go out and acquire a copy and read it. It's worth it. It is for fantasy books what the movie made from it is for fantasy films: the standard that makes it no longer just a joke or merely an escape.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Grandpa Cobabe

There's one other experience that happened in the past few weeks that I didn't include in my last post. It's a rather personal thing, and it deserved its own post, not just thrown in with all that other stuff. On Wednesday morning, April 13, my maternal grandfather passed away. Frederick William Cobabe passed away peacefully after a couple of severe strokes Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. With the condition he was in following those strokes, having his spirit freed from his body was the best thing for him.

Grandpa Cobabe has been the first person that I have really been close to and known personally that has died. It's an interesting journey that you go on when that happens. Initially, there was just a pure shock effect on Saturday night. I got a call from my mom just as I was leaving for a ward closing social telling me grandpa had had a major stroke. She told me that at that point, we weren't quite sure what was going to happen. They were doing a couple of things to try and remove the clot, and it looked like he may be able, with time, to get all function restored. I went to the social, ate food, and accompanied my friend in the talent show we had, then left to go on a long walk. The snow was falling. It was a great environment for thinking. I just kind of let my emotions wash over me. Then came Sunday, when I left early for church to practice for our ward's easter program, consequently missing the call from my mom informing me that he had another stroke, and was likely going to die. You can imagine my surprise when I came home from church to receive a call from my brother saying they were going to come pick me up to go to the hospital and say goodbye to grandpa. It was only then that I listened to the message my mom had left that morning. It was a strange amalgamation of emotions. Grief, surely. Shock. But over it all, an overwhelming feeling of peace. It helped that as I was outside waiting for my family to drive up, a light flurry of snow came down while the sun was still shining strong. I took it as an omen of good things to come, despite knowing that I was going to say goodbye.

We held a memorial service for him today. He chose to donate his body to further scientific research, so we didn't have a real funeral for him. It was a beautiful service. I was able to accompany for a couple of musical numbers. I was glad to be able to provide that service for my grandfather and my grandmother. People who know him better and longer than I do said some wonderful things about him. I'd just like to add a few thoughts.

My grandfather wasn't the smartest man in the world. He worked as a plumber for most of his life, and didn't earn a university degree until he was 55. He was, however, a hard worker. While many today spoke of the love that he had for all, which is a trait he certainly possessed, I will always remember him as a worker. It seemed every time we went up to Grandma and Grandpa Cobabe's it was to help Grandpa with some project or another around the house. I remember in particular the project he began to clear out the sage brush across from their yard. Here he had brought up his 18, 16, and 14 year old grandsons. But when we got fed up or tired or bored and left the job for a while or slacked off, he just kept right on going with it. He may not have been the fastest, but he was diligent, and he was diligent in all that he did. The Tuesday before the stroke, he went to the hospital because he had some atrial fibrillation. I went with my father to give him a blessing. In the time we were there, he talked basically about three things: explaining his condition, how proud he was of me, and the flower beds he was working on around their house. They brought him such joy. He never would be content just sitting around. He had to have something to work on. Part of his joy came from doing something that brought my grandmother happiness. She has such an appreciation for flowers. He enjoys them too, but I think he was especially happy to be able to grow them for her. It was a sign of his love for her.

I love my Grandpa Cobabe. I will miss him. I will miss his smile, his laughter, and his sense of humor. I will miss seeing the happiness and peace he was able to bring to those he interacted with. However, I know that he is off doing a work of a different kind. He would not be content just sitting around resting. I'm sure he is persistently spreading the gospel to those on the other side. He wants to spread the happiness he enjoys with others. I know that because of our Savior and Redeemer, even Jesus Christ's, atonement, he will take up a glorified and perfected body at the resurrection. I know that I will see him again in the flesh, and that he has the opportunity to be with the love of his life for eternity through the covenants he made in the temple and worked diligently to keep and renew where he fell short. Despite missing him, I am mostly just filled with the gratitude and peace which come from the Holy Ghost. How blessed I am to have that gift, to be raised by a mother who was raised by a father and mother who knew the truth and passed it on to her who, together with  her husband, passed it on to me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Been Long Enough?

Did you miss me? I know at least some of you have. I was planning on going as long as it took for Dania to mention it in one of our conversations, but she hasn't. After this blog was mentioned in Andrew Woodruff's fantastic blog, however, I decided my loyal readership deserved a post.

Because of the long break, I actually have stuff in my life that has happened. Let's see...My first ever niece was born on March 15. She's such an adorable little girl. I adore her. Babies seem to almost have magical powers. When I went and visited my brother three days after she was born to see her, I was grinning from ear to ear the whole time. Partially because we were talking about some funny stories, but mostly just because I was holding my little niece. I'm man enough to admit that I love babies. Maybe not as much as girls seem to, but I really do.

Additionally, I was accepted to Phi Eta Sigma. It's the freshman honors society at BYU. I was kind of surprised because I didn't have a stellar first semester of college, but they accepted me anyway. I guess I'm continuing my high school tradition of receiving honors while still giving sub-par effort. Speaking of sub-par effort, my first year of college is done! I finished my last final yesterday morning. It's kind of wake-up call that I really am an adult now. I've moved back home for the summer, and now I get to look forward to the sometimes-arduous process of finding a job. Yippee. Said goodbye to a lot of good friends, some of which I won't see again for another three years due to missions, and some who I may never see again, even though we'll be going to the same school. College friends are just like that. Unlike in high school, you really have to work if you want to stick with the friends you make. Especially with a four month break where you all go back home to various areas of the country and the world, it takes determination. Luckily, we have such ease of communication these days, that it's really not all that hard to do.

Before I started taking finals, though, I spent my "reading days" doing some very excellent activities. Thursday was spent at the aforementioned Andrew Woodruff's house doing a The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Marathon. It was a fantastic event. Kudos to Andrew, Aaron Wheatley, me, and my friend from college CaryLynn Jensen that I brought along for sticking out all 11+ hours. We even watched to the end of the credits of Return of the King, which took a long time because it listed all the members of the official Lord of the Rings fan club. Lots of good memories from that day. It takes a lot of dedication to sit through all of those movies, so those who do are big fans of both the movies and the books. It was fun to talk about all the things they put in and the little nit-picky details. And we cracked our fair share of jokes too. If Andrew or Aaron ever become general authorities, be sure to pay attention to their talks.

After that lazy, couch-potato day, I went out and played frisbee the next morning. I love that sport. It is the best sport on earth that I have played. It combines the motion of basketball, the precision of football, and the back-and-forth pace of soccer. If you have never played ultimate frisbee, you need to. If you do play ultimate frisbee, let me know when so that I can join. I ran myself into the ground last Friday morning, and to a lesser extent Saturday as well, but it was so worth it.