Friday, December 12, 2008

Reading Days

So I think I like reading days. When else in the semester do you have time to watch six-hour, Victorian mini-series? Or take naps on benches? Or read books that you've always been meaning to?

I think that the last one is one of the things that I enjoy most about reading days because you feel slightly less bad about it, even if what you are reading has nothing to do with your classes. (I feel the same way about climbing trees on Arbor Day; it's not quite what the day is meant for, but I feel like I better appreciate a tree from the top of it.)

My reading day book today is Ex Libris, recommended to me this week by a friend. I had seen it around the house growing up, and after the first 50 pages, I'm realizing that I had read the first essay already, but I had never managed to finish it for some reason. Perhaps I wasn't at a stage that I could appreciate a compilation of essays.

I think now though that the personal essay is the perfect genre. I've always thought that blot were fun because they are a little bit like road trips through someone's mind. I'd have to call a personal essay a guided tour. And a good essay is like the sort of tour where they will let you stop and play the 15th century grand piano for a moment before moving on. Ex Libris perhaps qualifies as one of these.

In fact, I was going to do some studying after posting this entry, but I think that I probably will take a little more time and read a few more chapters of it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Today's conundrum

I've known for a long time that there are many things that I like knowing or doing that I don't like learning about. Like reading. I really like having read lots of books and discussing them and talking about them, but the actual sitting down and reading it isn't really all that pleasurable to me. Or Art History. I love visiting museums that have art that I understand or at least can pretend to understand. My experience in art history classes, however, has been pretty boring.

It is just occurring to me today though that it can also go the other way. There are many things that I enjoy learning about that I don't enjoy doing. This is what originally got me out of the Physics Major and what has stopped me from being a pure mathematician. I love my classes--they are the highlight of my day--but the idea of doing a ton of research in it doesn't really get me very excited.

I've been thinking about this today because this conundrum creates an interesting decision for me. It sort of feels like I can choose a field of study now that I love in return for a profession that I may enjoy less, or I can study something that I enjoy less for a profession that I may enjoy more. Making this decision more complicated is that it is hard to say which professions I'll enjoy more or less until I am there. I was surprised by how much I loved my Physics classes but by how much I disliked research. I like my research now much more, but I still sometimes wonder if I would enjoy a more applied field even more than this.

Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Unsteady ground

So I've been really grateful recently that I don't have an iPod as I walk up to campus. Most of my interesting (albeit twisted) thoughts and experience seem to happen as I'm making the trip from my apartment to school.

Today I saw this guy and girl trying to climb down the hill south of campus rather than taking the stairs. This hill is landscaped to showcase the shrubbery from various parts of the US. I think that this hill was supposed to be Arizona or something.

In any case, as they are going down, the guy seemed to think he was pretty cool for being able climb down so easily; the girl was just following him because he somehow talked her into it. But she didn't seem to be enjoying nearly as much. She was a little unsteady on her feet, and at one point as she was starting to lose her balance, she grabbed the nearest thing that could possibly stabilize her.

It was really unfortunate that it was a cactus.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tricky

It is really hard to put a band-aide on your back. It's already tricky to do anything that involves knowing which way your hands will be going when you are looking in a mirror, but it is much harder when things are flipped around again by turning around and when the wound is in a hard to reach portion of your back anyways.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What I learned from computer games

You might think that this post is going to be about educational games that I played when I was younger that taught me about prime numbers, shooting buffalo, or the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Or perhaps about how they ruled my life and I've learned lessons about self-restraint and my personal limitations with that regard.

Neither of those things are true. This week I've been thinking about what I can learn about myself and my brothers by the way we interacted with each other through computer games. You see, we would often acquire simple little games that allowed two or three players that we would all play together. Normally they involved fighting each other or blowing each other up with dynamite. They were all high quality. But I think that there is something to learn about how we each approached these games.

My older brother is very creative. He was usually the first one to figure new strategies that were usually pretty effective.

I think though that I'm adaptable. I would notice the strategies that my older brother would start using, and then pick them up as well. Normally, I got better at them than my brother did pretty quick, so he'd have to come up with another strategy to counter the one he invented.

My younger brother would then occasionally win because I would focus on my older brother and would be left too weak to take on my younger brother after that. Most of the time, however, in the initial stages of a game, it would be me or my older brother who would win.

The thing with my younger brother though is that when he decides he likes something, he gets really passionate about it. So he would continue practicing and learning a lot longer than I had the patience for. At that point, he would start beating both me and my brother pretty consistently.

And even though we are not trying to fly exploding sheep into each other anymore, I think that the general things that you can learn about us still sort of hold today.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Violence and me, the sequel

These have less to do with violence and more to do with my morbid imagination and pessimism:

1) Each year we get a Christmas present for our choir teacher. This year we are flying out her father from Wales to spend the holiday with her. But I was imagining what would happen if the plane crashed. "Merry Christmas, Sister Hall! We don't think you've ever gotten a present like this before!"

2) Walking to campus last week, I started choking on the sandwich I was eating. There wasn't anyone around, and it made me think about how depressing it would be to die by choking on PB&J. How unpoetic is that? I think that I'd much rather be hit by a bus or be attacked by rabid butterflies. Or at least by choking on a more classy type of sandwich. (Ham and cheese maybe.)

3) Walking to campus last week on a different day, I saw a girl sitting by the duck pond on a rock looking very pensive and a little sad. I then had the overwhelming urge to run up and push her into the pond. Can you imagine being a little sad because your boyfriend had just broken up with you earlier that week, so you decided to find comfort in being one with nature for a moment? And maybe it was starting to work, at least until some random jerk that you don't even know bowled you into a gross pond? And then he ran away? It certainly wouldn't be an experience you'd soon forget.

And I sort of think that it is my calling in life to make sure that other people have interesting stories to tell their grandchildren 60 years from now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanks

So for FHE yesterday, my group made "Turkey Hands," and we wrote around the outside of the turkey things that we were thankful for. It isn't so hard. I started writing things here and there (The Gospel, my family, my school, Red Vines, etc.) and thought I was making good progress.

That is, until I noticed that everyone else was hardly stopping to breathe as they wrote. They seemed to get two for every one that I had written. So I started writing more (my roommates, Mathematica, breaks from school, warm blankets, etc.) But try as I might, I just couldn't keep up with the rest of them. So now they are all posted on our door and some of the turkey papers are so full that there is hardly any negative space; mine just has a pleasant splattering of blessings.

I was worried at first that perhaps I was less thankful than everyone else in my group. I was wandering around concerned today when I realized something: maybe I don't sit around being grateful for birds and red bricks and lined paper and other things, but I don't really go around complaining about things either. I think that it is OK to feel less thankful if you feel less needy.

As long as your thanks outweigh your requests, I think you are just fine.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I love animals

I love to eat them.

Actually, that is not even really true. I don't really like the taste of most meat and was a vegetarian for about a month once.

In any case, I wrote this song for the ward talent show last week. It's not quite where I'd like it yet since I threw it together the day I performed it, but it was well received. Special thanks to MLH who came up the chorus which inspired the rest.

This song is to the tune of "Feed the birds" in Mary Poppins.

Early each day at the steps of our hill
The BYU students walk by,
And they all look so happy. That is, just until
the bird droppings fall from the sky.

So here's a solution to try, if you dare,
But you'll be glad if you do.
To protect your clean clothing and your well-groomed hair
All it takes is this effort from you:

Squeeze the birds, tuppence a grab.
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a grab.
Squeeze the birds, that's what I cry
While overhead the birds fill the sky.

From the trees of our campus, the birds are all watching,
We walk around unaware.
Although we can't see it, they're aiming the droppings
to cover your cars and your hair.

Though my words are simple and few,
Listen, listen. I'm begging with you:
Squeeze the birds, tuppence a grab.
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a grab.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I don't get it

So I just learned that eHarmony (an online dating company) was sued for not offer same-sex dating services on their website, and that they settled today for a ton a cash and the agreement to launch a same-sex version of their website.

I'm all for not discriminating, but I think it odd that businesses are being told what goods they have to sell. It seems a little bit to me like suing McDonald's because they don't sell hotdogs. Or perhaps a little more like suing cattle ranchers for not selling vegetarian options.

Some people may say that it different because in this case they are refusing to serve a certain segment of the population just because they are gay.

But that just isn't true. A date with a man and a date with a woman are very different things. If a company finds a niche market that they manage to make profitable, I think it strange that the government would show up and tell them that because they are offering a certain good, they also have to offer other good that they maybe deem unprofitable.

If anyone can think of a reason why this whole set-up isn't really weird, let me know.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Campaign funds?

So with the last financial disclosure due before the election on Tuesday, I was curious about how the financial reports of the various candidates differed.

I think that the most amusing/depressing thing I found (depending on your mood) was a "campaign meeting" expense paid to Sherwood Hills by Keith Grover.

"What's Sherwood Hills?" I asked myself. After Googling it, it turns out that it is a spa and resort in Northern Utah. North of Ogden even. What is he doing holding campaign meetings up there? And how much meeting was going on compared to how much spa-ing?

With the $22,000 left in his campaign account, is his next meeting going to be in Paris?

If it is, I wonder if he will let me be on his committee.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Microsoft

Overheard as I was walking to class today:

"Yeah, it's more like Internet Exploder."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Falling with style

I read the following quote today:

We like to praise birds for flying. But how much of it is actually flying, and how much of it is just sort of coasting from the previous flap?

-Jack Handey

And I thought it was perhaps mildly inspirational, but mostly just really funny. If I wanted to turn this into a serious post, I might make some sort of comment about how we often covet the positions of those in life who are figuratively flying when we in fact are just as capable but simply don't realize that most of the time we would only need to coast from previous flaps.

But I don't plan to make this serious, so I'll just leave that whole discussion off.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Picture of Righteousness

I just sat down next to a guy wearing a short-sleeved, white shirt, a nice conservative tie, and an MTC teacher name badge. His shirt pocket is full of all sorts of things, including a pen and a missionary planner. He is currently sitting at a computer with the "Eternal Marriage" manual open to the "Mate Selection" chapter. He has no ring on his finger.

How long do you suppose this guy has been home from his mission?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My nephew

Me: M- M- Mommy starts with EM.

Him: EM.

Me: D- D- Duck starts with DEE.

Him: DEE.

Me: W- W- Waffle starts with DOUBLE-YOU.

Him: DOUBLE ME?


I'm not sure he understood how this game worked. He'll catch on someday.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Waiting

So I've been programming a lot of little algorithms that are trying to optimize this or that. Mostly I have been using Matlab. Today, I am using Stata. I have not been converted. I ran it once and it gave me some results that I didn't believe. So I ran it again with different initial conditions and (tada!) it turns out that the point that maximizes a given function depends on where you start. Grr! (Just in case, I've already lost all of you, that is the same thing as claiming that my apartment located in a different place depending on the path you take to get there.)

So I read through the whole help file in order to see if maybe there was a better way of arriving at my conclusion. It looks like there are different search algorithms available in Stata that I can choose from. Thinking that maybe another one might be more accurate, I'm giving another one a shot.

That was an hour and a half ago. I just broke iteration 200 a minute ago, and it doesn't seem to be quite done yet. I would just head out and work on something else while it's crunching away, except that I'm doing this one a library computer, and they automatically log me off if I don't touch it for 10 minutes.

In any case, I'm all caught up on current events, I know what all my friends are doing on facebook, and I've written two blog posts. Maybe while I'm waiting, I can go and become the world expert in South-East Texan dragonflies.

Amazing Blessings

So it turns out that I'm a starving college student. I wasn't always this way, but this summer I've been spending a lot more than I've been earning, and I noticed suddenly last Friday that I had $20 to my name in both my savings and checking account.

I was only slightly concerned. I'm a member of a dinner group, and I had already bought the food that I needed to cook when it was my turn next. I also often eat lunch at my parents' house after I babysit my sister's kids. All I really needed to worry about was breakfast, and $20 should've been more that enough to take care of that.

However, I woke up on Sunday morning and I remembered that it was fast Sunday. This may seem like just the thing a struggling budget might need; however, I pay my tithing on fast Sundays. I quickly looked up how much I owed and it was $40.

"Hmm," I thought. "How am I going to make this work?" I wrote out the check anyways and handed it in, knowing that the extra would be absorbed into the line of credit on my account. It was a little intimidating to go into debt to pay tithing, though. Knowing that my dad would likely disown me if I were to try to cover my expenses by selling my plasma, I went throughout that day trying to figure out how I'd make ends meet that month.

That evening, I walked into my apartment and noticed a letter on the table that my roommate had brought in from the mailbox that afternoon from Brent Brown Chevrolet. I had bought my car from them several months ago, so I just figured it was a letter saying that they wanted me to by another car from them.

I started walking down the hall to my room as I tore open the envelope. Inside was a $70 check! I couldn't believe it.

"BLESSINGS!!!" I shouted. One of my roommates had just come out of his room to the hallway and looked surprised that I was shouting high-pitched, incomprehensible exclamations in the hallway. After I had calmed down a bit, I was able to explain the whole thing to him.

Lest you be a skeptic, I realize that the check was in the mail much before I paid my tithing and probably even before I realized that I was really hurting for cash. I think though that the main lesson to be learned here is to just do what's right, because God is already taking care of the details you.

In any case, I think that this story is almost Ensign-worthy. The only thing that would make it better is if I had 3 starving children and lived in Tahiti. I mostly just think that it's fun that I have my own tithing story that I can one day tell my grandkids.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dance Like Patrick

So I have been asked by several people to post my new instructional video online. I hope that you all enjoy it. It has been broken into two segments for viewing simplicity. If you only have a couple minutes, the second segment is shorter and the better of the two.



Friday, June 20, 2008

Odd new plates

I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of the new license plates for Utah. I am perhaps biased because when I first saw them around, I thought it was very brave of so many UofU fans to be parked on campus. Now that I realize that they are actually the new default plates when you buy a car, I just think they bear a striking resemblance to a beer can.





The other one isn't so bad, except that it makes the new license plate slogan stand out more. This wouldn't be so bad except the "Life Elevated" sounds so much like a drug reference.



I'm sure who ever was on the committee to design these was chuckling to him-(or her-) self, thinking that the poor, sheltered Utahns would never make such a connection. Well, the secret is out, though it seems it is too late. I guess we will just have to put up with beer can/druggie cars until 10 years from now when they get around to redesigning them.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Pizza in Tight Spaces

I approached my locker for the first time in an upper hallway of the JKB. I was a little dispointed in the placement--it was not near any of my classes and on the opposite end of campus from my appartment--but I was soon pleasantly surprised. As I opened the door, I realized that my locker was huge! It was not a tall locker, but it went back at least 3 feet.

As I gazed into the depths, I was hit by a sudden epiphany. Why am I paying so much for rent when I only pay five bucks a semester for a locker this size? I slipped inside and realized that this dream was conceivable.



Well, alright. Maybe not living in the thing, but I had another idea. And so the planning began. . .

This is a rough sketch of the phone conversation:

Me: I'd like to order a small pepperoni pizza.
Her: Where would you like it to be delivered.
Me: Can you deliver on-campus?
Her: Yes.
Me: OK. Could you send it to the JKB, across from room (such and such), locker (something or another)?
Her: Yeah, that'd be fine.
Me: Great. Just knock on the locker when you get there.
Her: [Silence] You'll be in the locker?
Me: Yep.
Her: [Nervous laughter] OK.

After waiting about 30 minutes, I once again ventured into my little home and waited. After a few minutes, I heard Bran (whom I brought just in case) say "It's that one right there," which was followed by a few loud bangs on the door.

"Hello!" I shouted.

"You've got to be kidding me!" he responded.

"Hey, can you do me a favor?" I shouted back. "I can't open this from the inside. Here is my combination. . ."

He proceeded to try to open the door, and on the second try, he succeeded (lucky for me).





As a whole, I'd have to call a it a pretty successful venture.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Something about Lit'rature

Summer is here and I want to finally read all of those books that I've been putting off in the name of lack-of-time. Yesterday, I read The Miracle at Speedy Motors which is the latest in The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series. It was fabulous, as usual. I think that Alexander is starting to wax more and more philosophical in these later ones actually. He skirted the topic of religion several times.

One of my favorite parts was right at the beginning when Mma Ramotswe is thinking about how the address of her Detective Agency is c/o the adjoined auto shop. While her assistant believes that such an address belittles the agency's importance, Mma Ramotswe notes that there is security in being "care of" another. In fact, she says that we should all be "care of" one another. And I thought it was a great idea.

(P.S. If any of you have ideas for me to add to my summer reading list, I'm up for suggestions.)

Problems

I think that a great majority of the world's problems could be solved with basic human kindness. The rest can be solved by good and able economists. :)

(and maybe an occasional doctor.)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Won't somebody think of the children

I think that it is vulgar to have finals at 7:00 AM. I also think it's awful to have finals on Saturdays. This morning my Econ 110 students had both. At the same time.

Luckily, the other TA is married, so he goes to bed at around 10:00 every night, so he volunteered to proctor the first half of the exam while I did the second. It still amounted to me arriving on campus at 8:30, but that is an hour and a half better than 7:00.

Perhaps I'll take a nap this afternoon. I'll do it between washing my car, going shopping, depositing checks, and studying for the other 3 finals that I still have ahead of me. Hmm. . . .

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fame

This is just about the most amazing thing I've ever seen:

MLH's blog

Gregory Mankiw's blog

She's famous!!!

I can do it on my own

Please note:

b n b n b n

Do you see how they work? It because I fixed it.

For the last few days, my spacebar, b, and n have been tempermental, only working about 20% of the time. I tried to be patient with them, hoping that they might repent of their ways and return; I learned the alt-codes for b, n, B, and N, which make typing a little tedious but I was working with it. Thursday I gave up and replaced them. (I'm going to be a great church leader someday.)

I chatted with Kiran from Dell who didn't get any of my jokes, but did send me a replacement keyboard.

Last night, I got to gut my laptop in order to replace the keyboard myself. I was very brave. It's a little intimidating to peel back sections of one of the most expensive things that you own when the pieces that are supposed to snap out of place feel like they are probably just going to snap in general.

Now it's all better though and I can write about all sorts of things that are more than one word long.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The cat is out

So I've officially submitted the hatred post below to the campus newspaper and it's been printed today. I'm also currently typing this from the BYU Democrats booth. I usually try to hide my political leanings from strangers (I make more friends this way), but I seem to be pulling out all the stops these days. The next thing you know, I might buy one of these Democrat t-shirts and wear it around campus or participate in an eco-terrorism rally.

You know that feeling when you buy new clothes and wear them to school for the first time and you are a little self-conscious about it. It's a little like that.

So far, no one has disowned me.

But the day is still young.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hatred Awareness

I just noticed a "Radical Islamic Terrorist Awareness Week" poster in one of the buildings on campus that is in part sponsored by the BYU Republicans. I think that it is great of them to occasionally remind us of the people that we are supposed to hate and fear. Otherwise I may have forgotten and, as a result, been kind to the Muslim people that I know.

While we are at it, I thought that it would be a great idea to start other sorts of similar weeks:
Columbian Drug-dealer Awareness Week
Thieving Mexican Awareness Week
Violent African Awareness Week
Lazy Poor-people Awareness Week
Communist Unpatriotic Democrat Awareness Week

Where's McCarthy when you need him?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Language

I recently had an English assignment where we were supposed to find a letter to the editor that we agreed with and disagree with it. Here was mine:

"On February 5, 2008, Gary Hatch published a letter to the editor of the Daily Universe condemning the verbage of Senator Chris Buttars, who referred to a bill that he didn't like as "dark." Have we become so sensitive as a people that we can't say a thing without someone accusing us of racial hatred?

"As I sit here typing this response, my screen is a little dark because I don't want it to run out of batteries. By that, I mean I decreased my screen's luminescence.

"I went to bed early last night because the film my roommates were watching was a little too dark for my tastes. I mean it wasn't as light-hearted as I would have liked it be.

"I recently made a batch of cookies, but they didn't turn out well. They were a little dark. I mean they were not quite burnt but more well-done than I usually prefer to eat. But this is not because I don't like non-Caucasian people. Had there been one there, I would've given him or her one of my cookies. Except for the fact that they were a little da. . . I mean, burnt.

"In an effort to avoid offending a small minority of hypersensitive extremists, it seems we often have to tiptoe around language, and sometimes it's quite a detour. Since when have special interest groups hijacked freedom of speech?

"In short, perhaps we all need to learn to not take offense to the smallest turn of phrase. People usually aren't out to get you."

I thought it was one of the most offensive things that I had ever written. Unfortunately, I had a few people respond to this post saying that I made a few good points. I was shocked! Rather than leave a legacy of racial hatred behind me, I decided to write this as a response and hopefully partially redeem myself:

"While it is one thing to say that it is dark outside, it is another to call an immigration bill "dark and ugly," and make pretty direct reference to a tar baby. (I left out the other part to help strengthen my argument.)

"Even if this comment weren't supposed to be a racial reference, I believe that we should be careful about what we say. I think that part of becoming a "perfect man" by taming our tongue, as James says, is by knowing when it is appropriate to use certain language. I think that "speaking with the tongue of angels," like in the talk by Elder Holland, is learning to respect others through our language.

"I had a friend in high school from England who let out an occasional 'damn' and 'hell.' He would claim that because it didn't mean anything to him, it was OK. I explained to him, however, that we should be careful with our words, not because of what they mean to us, but because of what they mean to others.

"While perhaps we all could learn to not be offended, I think that it is yet more noble to learn to not offend."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Deon Turley is blogging

Here is a link to Deon Turley's blog. She is great.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Clutter Therapy

I was looking my friends blog tonight and came across a post of him lamenting over the impermanent nature of the cleanliness of his room. I chuckled to myself, realizing that I gave up the battle of permanence long ago.

Don't get me wrong though: I am a generally clean person. I like having a clean room and an uncluttered desk; however, I know that when life gets cluttered itself, a clean desk comes after passing my classes and sleeping at night on my list of priorities.

Actually, I think there is something deeply meaningful about a messy room. I’ve recently noticed the the state of my desk parallels the state of my life; when I notice that my desk is getting too cluttered to do anything useful with it, it’s time for a change. (On my desk and in my life.)

If my room were consistently clean, then I’d have no way to tell that my life is a clutter. I would be unknowingly simmering in stressful living and wouldn’t think to get out until I ended up spontaneously bursting into tears of frustration in the JFSB Quad someday.

And furthermore, I think that using psychology to justify my bad habits is among the most genius ideas ever!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A response to the crowded DMV

I'm here sitting grading econ papers, and I had this idea. We are talking about the good and bad that the governments can do and the book we are reading makes a point that it is necessary to have the government distribute driver's licenses because otherwise private license companies would just give licenses out to everyone who wanted one and it would make the roads less safe.

But what if we made the issuers responsible for the havoc wreaked by the people they license. They would essentially be insurance companies, and if a certain firm thinks that a person will be too expensive to insure, then that person won't be licensed. If we made it so that fines for speeding had to be paid by the licensing company, those that speed and are a menace on the road will have to pay for it. Similarly those that drink and drive.

And the infrastructure of insurance companies is already there.

I think that there are probably big problems with this line of thought, but I thought that it was an amusing idea nevertheless, and one that is based on "sound" introductory economics.

Deon Turley for Utah State Legislature

I think that this is an impressive woman!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Provo Explodes

So this evening just after 9:30, I heard a big boom from outside. I thought at first that it might be a gun shot, but my roommate have been playing a lot of James Bond recently, so I ruled that out; I'm getting pretty good at recognizing gunshots. Thunder maybe? Nope. The skies are clear and it didn't have that zingy or extended thunder sound. Dragon? No scorch marks; usually they're linked. I decided that the SWKT had probably fallen down and I continued reading.

Ten minutes later, I got a phone call from my friend around the corner asking if I had heard it as well. I told her that I had and informed her of my conclusion. We decided to go questing to see if we could find out what had happened.

We hopped into my car (which still runs fabulously) and started driving around. After about 24 seconds, we decided that we felt a little silly driving around to who knows where we weren't even sure whence the sound came.

We took a loop on campus drive along the side of the hill to see if we could see anything in the city smoking and to make sure the SWKT was still there, and we didn't see anything fishy, so we went home.

I noticed just now online that it was an explosion at some steel plant in South Provo. There's not much news yet, but I'm way impressed with this explosion. It was almost 5 miles away and it shook my windows.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tada!



Well the day has come. I'm almost officially an adult. I bought a car.

Highlights: I have a button on my key that pops the trunk. The seats move back and forth electronically (but only when I want them to). It is shiny.

That last one is the most important.

Thanks to Portia's husband (Bassanio) who once again saved the day.

Here's another one for good measure:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Deceiving appearances

I make it a point to never read a book with a boring cover. Unless I have to for a class, that is.

I just read a book for my writing class whose cover bears a striking resemblance to this:


It's called Judgments Over Time: The Interplay of Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors. Such a “fascinating” title only made it lose more points.

Upon flipping through the book, you would realize that it is in fact a collection of psychology articles about how a person changes (or doesn't change) the way they think, feel, and behave over time. Almost twenty percent of the book is reference pages. You might come across an occasional nonsensical diagram that seems to be trying to graph a person's life with a sinusoidal curve representing non-quantified high and low coherence levels. It is titled “Potential Life Niches,” and you might even sit for a moment to try and figure out what all the arrows mean before taking a deep breath and turning to the front of the book to begin a part of your life that is likely to be one of those low coherence pits in the graph you just gave up on.

You would be pleasantly surprised however. The foreword is written by some guy named George Lowenstein, and he's a bit like David Letterman in that he's pretty funny and makes you feel smart. I sort of had that sophisticated smile-and-adjust-your-bow-tie reaction when he quoted Pangloss from Voltaire's Candide and I recognized it. I also chuckled to myself when he referred to the “mild-mannered office-mate [who] entertains fantasies of murdering you.”

At this point, I may need to remind you that this book is not about the criminally insane but rather how impressions, memories, and expectations adjust over time. And I think that it was pretty well-put-together. Lowenstein's humor doesn't continue through all of the articles, but they are engaging enough to keep my attention once I realized that they could read my mind, including my violent fantasies.

In fact, they seem to know quite a bit about me. There is a whole article on defensive pessimism, a condition where people set their expectation low because it drives them to work harder and achieve more. I always think it's a little odd when I realize that my disorders have names.

In general though, I really enjoyed my little self-exploration through this book. Then again, perhaps you should ask one of the authors how much I really enjoyed it. They might just tell you that I've reconstructed my memory just because I'm happy to be done.

Friday, February 1, 2008

My Run-in with the Law

So it finally happened. My worst fears have been realized. Now I officially have a police record.

Yesterday, I went to the library to find a book for my English class. Not any book in particular. It actually could have been a great many books. With so many options, one would think that I would be able to find something suitable in less than 30 minutes. Instead it took me about two hours.

By the time that I found something that I thought might work, I had a headache and was exhausted. I trudged up the two flights of stairs and turned to head out the door.

A second later, the alarms were sounding and I scurried back through the security gate. Fortunately, the guard at the desk was my friend from choir. Unfortunately, my friend has an impressive sense of duty. I guess the library policy is that if anyone walks through the gate with a contraband library book they have to call police dispatch and do a background check.

It turns out the BYU Police already know all sorts of things about me. Now they know that I steal books.

After I had been reported and my thieving nature had been permanantly recorded, I went to circulation to mend my ways and check out the book honestly. They informed me that before I could check out any book, I had to pay a fine. To make matter worse, they made me go up the LRC to do so.

I eventually escaped with my book, but 30 minutes, two dollars, and a trip up the stairs later. Oh, yes. And one more thing. An official criminal record.

There go my chances of ever being in the FBI.

Friday, January 25, 2008

And then there was one

Today marks the one year anniversary of my return from my mission. It has both come and gone quietly. I didn't even realize that it was here until this morning actually.

I think that these are really the best moments to think about progress and life in general. I know that there are holidays in place for these sorts of things but they tend to get swallowed up in celebration. At New Years, we are supposed to look forward to how we will improve in the next year. At Thanksgiving, we are supposed to look backwards to what we have been given. Even birthdays have a bit of reflection involved, but I have a rotten habit of ignoring that part in the rumbling of food, games, and family.

Not that any of those things are bad things, but I'm certainly grateful for days like today that I just get to think about what I've become. It isn't exactly what I wished that I would, but quiet reflection has reminded me that I am moving forward. And I'm just fine with that. Celebrating alone allows for remorse and joy, and both feed a dedication for continued efforts.

In any case, happy anniversary to me, and good night to all those who have patiently put up with my little reflection.

locked

I've been locked out of my email account. I don't understand what is going on. One moment I was just sending emails, and the next it told me I wasn't allowed to any more.

I'm actually in a state of mild panic. What if someone wants to contact me? Not that I'm expecting anything in particular, but when there's a campus emergency, don't they notify everyone by email. What if someone accidentally hit the campus self-destruct button and the whole thing is going to blow in 20 minutes or less and so they send out an email to warn us but I don't get it because I'm sitting here in the library complaining that I've been locked out.

Mostly it's just irritating. If anyone wants to get a hold of me, you may just have to rely on the good old US Postal Service.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pahree, Frahnce

Today a certain member of Men's Chorus stood up to say the prayer and he gave the usual introduction before he prayed: his name, his major, how long he had been in Men's Chorus, and where his served his mission. This man had apparently served in "Cheelay."

It occurred to me that whenever return missionaries who serve their mission in South America speak about where they served, they pronounce it with the pronunciation of the mission-language. This is also true about "tone-gah." I don't think that this is true for any other places. I have never told someone that I served in "Pahree, Frahnce" but that's just probably because they might worry that I'm strangling if I used the real French pronunciation. People don't say they served in "Doich-land" or "Espanya" or "Jong-gwoa" either though.

I have on occasion told people that I served in "Gay Pahree."

I thought at first that maybe it was just because Americans are notorious for the rotten geography skills, and maybe the first time they ever heard someone say the name of the country where they served was when they got there. If this were the case though, we'd probably be getting a lot more reports of people who served in "Ahrlund" for example.

I guess this is just one of those mysteries that we will just have to wait until the other side to get answered.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Life's little paradoxes

Or is it paradoces?

So I'm a bit stuck here. I have a big project that I need to get done over the break and I have tons of time. I even have the project out and would love to work on it more than just about any other reasonable thing that I could be doing right now. I have one problem though. I am at work and don't have the resources here to get it done.

During Christmas break, we have needed to cover the office just it case some decides to call. I supposed it's great that I'm here taking the time to make sure that a few people are taken care of, but in the 20 hours that I have worked over the last 2 weeks, I have received perhaps 6 phone calls. That comes to about 25 dollars a phone call. I think that it's kind of my office to be willing to spend so much as a campus service.

I guess I have directed about 20 people to the traffic office down the hall while I have been here as well.

It's not so bad though. As it turns out, the computer lab that has the programs I need to move forward is also closed for Christmas break and it will be open again when classes start on Monday.

Once I no longer have time any more.