Saturday, December 27, 2008

Freely ye have Received, Freely Give

I was reading in Matthew 10 the other day and came across verse 8 that contains the admonition, "Freely ye have received, freely give." Coincidentally I was also reading King Benjamin's address in Mosiah 4 and came across similar admonitions.

It got me thinking about the financial security I have enjoyed, despite being a student, the benefits I get from various organizations, and the obligation I have to support these organizations. I use wikipedia several times a week and strongly believe in their efforts to bring useful information to everyone. I believed in Barack Obama's campaign and the potential good he can bring to the country. I've also listened to days and days of This American Life and consequently now have at least one story that applies to any possible conversation topic. None of these organizations is possible, at least in its current efficacy, without public support, not just social, but monetary support as well.

It is extremely easy to rely on the next person being the one to donate and continue to fund our favorite organizations. However, maybe it is my guilty conscience, but I often feel the nagging need to move myself out of the freeloader category.

In a way, I view donating as both an investment and a test of one's own character. It is often a selfless investment in the future. We are investing in the ability of future generations, no matter what socioeconomic status, to gain information about the world, investing in the preservation of our world's natural resources, investing in the future leadership of our government, etc.

I think it is also a test. It is easy for me to espouse my idyllic views about the world. But when push comes to shove, the true question of my values is asked when those values require sacrifice. It's easy to talk about preserving the environment, or helping kids in Africa, or how great Wikipedia is, but it is a lot more difficult to open up your wallet and really support the causes you "support." And I find that each time I choose to do so, I am a better person. I am less selfish, I feel like I am pulling my weight, I feel responsible, I'm a part of these causes, I've taken ownership, and I've proven to myself that my values are more important than my bank account.

So invest yourself a little. We've received long enough, let's step up and give a little. Prove something to yourself. Find out how much you really believe in what you believe in. Don't let the rest of society pull your weight.

In light of the recent economy, many organizations are facing budget crunches. The ones that survive will be the ones with supporters who step up and give back.

So, in the season of giving, I challenge us all to give to a cause we believe in. It doesn't matter who you give to, as long as you believe in them. It also doesn't matter how much you give, but I'd suggest making it hurt just a little. It'll be good for you. So, if you are up to the challenge, let me know in the comments. Merry Christmas all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Help picking a class

Here is your opportunity to impact my life.

I need a two or three credit class to finish out my schedule for this winter. What should I take?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

There is a robot in my apartment!

This morning for some reason I had the urge to satisfy some lingering questions about dishwashers:

- Does the silverware really need to be placed handle-down? Cause I hate touching the top, and if I could put them in handle-up, that would be so much easier.

- What really goes on inside of them?

- Do the dishes need to be oriented around the center or can they all face one way?

- Are dishwashers classified as robots?

Okay, I admit the last one wasn't really a question. I mean, I didn't know it should be a question of mine until I read an article on HowStuffWorks that said, "Basically, a dishwasher is a robot that cleans and rinses dirty dishes." I don't know why, but that really surprised me. I never considered them robots, but now I will. They will now get the respect... or disrespect (considering my usual leeriness of the bunch), that they deserve.

I wasn't really able to find out if the dishes needed to be oriented around the center, but on one of the videos that I watched (yes, there were multiple), the lady loaded them that way. So the verdict is still out on that but I imagine that you should judging from the many videos of the inside of a working dishwasher that I also watched.

I found that it is a little more difficult that you'd think to find good quality video of the inside of a working dishwasher. And once I did, it was a lot less fulfilling than I thought it would be. I don't know what I expected, but I guess I expected a little more action. They are actually quite boring. Of course, none of the videos I watched included soap, and that might give me the added excitement I need to justify searching Youtube for dishwasher videos.

And finally, yes, the silverware needs to be placed handle-down, except for knives which for safety reasons should be handle-up. But that leads me to believe that if knives get clean handle-up, other things could get clean as well in the same orientation. So I think it is fair to say that for "comfort reasons" all handles should be up.

So, that is it. And, I'm pretty sure that my worries about having interesting and productive things to do once I finished finals are quite valid as evidences by this post.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Decision

I have just sent off my acceptance of University of Pittsburgh's offer and my declinations at the other universities.

University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine Class of 2013 here I come!

The Dangers of Wiki

- "An apparent Muslim, Obama could use the Koran when he is sworn into office." -- First paragraph of Conservapedia's article on Obama

- "Grant him the unconditional love he desires. If you really want to hold onto him, you must accept that commitment is not to be. This does not mean you become a doormat. Long-lasting affairs are built on trust, intimacy and respect, just as any good relationship is. Usually long-term affairs are affairs of the intellect as well as affairs of the heart and body." -- Tip #5 of 6 from wikiHow.com's article How to be a Mistress
(emphasis added to highlight ridiculosity)

- "Shake down small businesses legally by launching spurious lawsuits against them. Have your lawyer do all the legwork filing and offering 'a deal' at a reasonable rate to make the suit go away. Split the proceeds. All you have to do is find something to be 'angry' about at various businesses." -- Method #9 of 20 from wikiHow.com's article How to Get Money without Working

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cooking tip #2

Let me let you in on a little secret I've found. There is absolutely no circumstance in which one should put an intact egg into a microwave, shell-full or shell-less. I repeat, the is no conceivable situation in which it is a good idea to put an egg (in its oval shape, apparently you can scramble them, but that is yet unverified by me) in the microwave. Let me give you a brief synopsis of my experiences in this field of study to further develop my ethos:

Incident #1: Years ago, I decided that I was too impatient to boil an egg. I think boiling water took a lot longer when you are younger, so I decided that I could microwave this egg and speed the whole thing up. But, I'm not an idiot. At least, I'm not an obvious idiot, and I knew that if you put an egg in the microwave it would probably blow up, so I provided for that. I put the egg in the microwave and put a cup on top in case it did blow up. This way, it would all be contained in the cup and I wouldn't have to clean up much. I turned the dial and waited. KABLAAM! The egg exploded. The cup launched like a rocket. The top of the microwave was broken with several huge cracks on the inside. Fail #1.

Incident #2: A couple months ago I was again boiling an egg. I'm still an impatient person though, so I pulled it off the stove too soon. I unshelled it and bit in only to find that sickly half cooked dark yellow color in the yolk. I spit out the bite I had taken and looked at the remainder. I couldn't just waste this, I was hungry! "Ahh," I think, "I will just microwave this egg a bit just to get that yolk done." So I put the egg in the microwave thinking that only eggs with their shells intact are bad to put in the microwave. After a bit of time I open the microwave door. I can hear sizzling. Just as I am about to pull it out. KAFLAAAM (an F is used instead of a B to denote a softer explosion sound)! It exploded and spread egg guts everywhere. Now, the egg that was supposed to be on the inside of me, was on the outside and all over me. The odd thing is that it didn't explode when it was microwaving, but waited a second or two until I opened the door to explode. It was as though this little chick had a mind of its own... Fail #2.

Incident #3: 10 minutes ago I "finished" boiling two eggs. I use quotes because I shelled one, bit in and saw that sickly yellow again. Grrr. Well, if I had learned anything from incident #2 it wasn't "At any time, in any place, and under any circumstance, it is a really bad idea to put an intact egg in the microwave." It was more of a "At any time, in any place, and under any circumstance, it is a really bad idea to put an intact egg in the microwave without putting a paper towel over it to protect you against explosion" lesson that I learned. Apparently it was the wrong one. I was careful this time though, with my paper towel and my 10 second heating intervals. I finally pulled out the egg when the yolk was done. I tried to pick up the egg but it was pretty hot and so I put it down. But oddly enough I felt this area with an interesting sensation on the backside of the egg. It was... well, you know when you have the runs and your stomach is rumbling and you don't know if you can make it to the bathroom but you are sprinting as fast as you can? Yeah, it was that sort of rumbling, egg-style. I didn't think much of it, maybe it was just a hot-spot or something. Anyway, the egg was too hot to handle, so I cut into it with a knife. With not a second to spare after I pressed the knife into the egg, the "rumbling spot" of the egg gained critical mass and exploded everywhere. This moment has been immortalized in the following couplet:

Egg guts, egg guts, egg guts in my face.
Egg guts, egg guts, egg guts everyplace.

Fail #3.

Lessons I've learned:
1. Shells are not the only factor to consider here. Shell-less eggs are just as dangerous
2. The old adage about watched pots not boiling is not true. But watched eggs may not cook.
3. The eggs are getting smarter. The first one exploded in the microwave, the next one waited until I had opened the door, and the final waited until I cut in. I'm not sure I would want to know where the next one would explode.

So, I repeat for your well-being. Putting eggs into they microwave in any form (except possibly scrambled, not sure) is putting your life in the eggs hands... claws... whatever. Just don't do it. I will come over and boil them for you. I think I am getting better.

Did anyone else know this and fail to tell me? Also, how long do you have to boil an egg? You'd think with those little 3-minute egg timers that... you could do it in, well... 3 minutes. But I'm pretty positive that's not cutting it. Maybe I should put them in the crockpot and they'll be ready by dinner next time?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Weird Dream Post #2

I woke up around 3 this morning from a bizarre dream. I only remember pieces.

I remember being at some large convention center and there was an event going on. It was supposedly some concert by a semi-popular band, even though none of us at the center had heard of the band. Then somehow I remembered seeing the band members a few days earlier at a different event and remembered them going by different names. This brought me to the odd realization that they weren't a popular band, but were instead trying to scam people into thinking they were a popular band so that they would buy tickets. In fact these people weren't even a real band, they were just trying to deceive us. My fears were confirmed when I tried to go to the Facebook page corresponding to the name by which they went at their last event, and the page said something to the effect of "You've been scammed." So despite being fearful that they would retaliate, I spread the news. I don't think they were happy.

The next part of my dream found me in a field. Scattered throughout the field were blue herons. The blue herons held little pink hummingbirds in between their beaks. Every second or two the heron would shoot the hummingbird out of its mouth and it would get caught by an opposing heron who would shoot it back. I tried to walk through the field and avoid the flight paths, but a hummingbird ended running into me and falling to the earth. I forget if it got back up.

Finally, after I had traversed the field, I remember floating in a stream. The stream at one spot was more open like a lake, and then it narrowed again. At the narrowing point a fence served as the stream's left border and a large industrial plant as the stream's right border. I worried at first about floating through such a small stream with a decent current, but figured it would be okay. My fears quickly returned when, while floating past the industrial plant, I read the sign for a chute dumping liquid into the stream right in front of me. It read "Caution - Hot Butter." I clung to the fence to arrest my progress down the stream and the dream ended.

Explain that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

(Utah county != the hood) && (you != gangster) = true

In a few years when we look back upon the lessons learned in the first decade of the 21st century, perhaps the most important one that will stand out is this: Contrary to the widely held belief at the time, flashing fake gang signs in pictures isn't actually that cool.

What do you think the most important lessons from this first decade will be?

Slaughter and laughter

Am I the only one that is disturbed by the similarities between these two words? Seriously, one letter?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Yes

OHSU, Temple, Penn, VCU, and Pitt all sent me admission offers. That's great, but now I'm not quite sure where I want to go, considering that Penn has offered me a scholarship, but Penn wasn't really my favorite school. So, do you follow your wallet or your heart? Now, that sounds like it has an obvious answer for a sideline observer, but it is a bit more difficult when you are put in the driver's seat.

Pitt is my top choice based on just the school. OHSU would be my top choice based on the location. And Penn is my top choice considering cost. Help?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Optimization fail

I'm always looking for ways to optimize my life and be a little more efficient. Often times this involves doing two tasks simultaneously. Some of these tricks work better than others. One that does not work? Brushing your teeth and shaving at the same time. I'd thought about this one for a while and it seemed like a decent candidate for some optimization. Both tasks are daily tasks that need accomplished. Both only require one hand. I have two.

After almost shaving my teeth, brushing my face, and taking off my sideburns, I've decided these two processes are not prime candidates for synchrony. Despite the fact that I have an electric shaver and an electric toothbrush and that both require circular movements, the toothbrushing circles are much smaller than the faceshaving circles. The resulting task is similar to patting your stomach and rubbing your head, or is it rubbing your stomach and patting your head? Whatever. Anyway, yeah... I tried this one out so you don't have to. Trust me on this one, it doesn't work.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What you find in the wee hours

While staying up to an unjustifiably late hour, I discovered the stalking tool (this one's for you Karianne) pipl.com. After looking up Karianne, who is no fun to stalk because she actually publishes stuff, I decided to stalk myself. And this is what I found. This is a video of Darkwatch, the play I did with the New Play Project's series of shorts this summer called Long Ago and Far Away. Janae Card is my lovely counterpart. I am really pleased at how it turned out. I like how it came across really natural. I am the type of person that likes productions directed in a way that the conversations seem natural, like you really are a fly on a wall. It seems like we did a decent job of that, much to the credit of our director Jana Stubbs and our assistant director Christian Cragun. The script by Christina Phillips is refreshing as well. But anyway, enough of my biased thoughts, what about yours?

Darkwatch from New Play Project on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

FHE Poems

It's all relative

When asked in winter how I'd like to die
I tell the questioner it's death by fire,
But when in sweltering heat of sun I lie,
I choose a death of Ice much to my ire.


Multi-pointed Daggers from the Sky

If snow didn't come from the skies,
I'd venture it came from hell.
When others see a bed of joy,
I see a blanket of misery.
When others see fluffy crystals from the heavens,
I see multi-pointed daggers at terminal velocity.
When others see fun in snow balls and forts,
I see four long months.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gabekob and Joshsau

Sit back while I tell you a story of a man, his friend, and a precious robe.

Several weeks back Gabekob went to his unbearably long Physics 106 class. He had this class with his bro Joshsau. On this particular day, Joshsau showed Gabekob a precious robe he had just obtained earlier that day. You see, Joshsau worked washing the locker room laundry at Brigham Young University. Every once in a while, an Israelite would mistakenly return his normal robe rather than the BYU-issue robe he checked out. This was more likely to happen when his robe was the same shade of gray. One very unfortunate Israelite accidentally returned a priceless robe, and now it was in Joshsau's possession. As a fan of odd robes, whether they be from robe.woot.com or the thrift store, Gabekob coveted this robe. He begged, pleaded, and even offered money for the robe, but Joshsau would not yield.

A couple weeks later during Physics, Gabekob ventured upstairs to the vending machine during the break that the Physics 106 prisoners were afforded to break up the monotony of a 2.5 hour physics class. Ice-Cream Twix grabbed his eyes. Putting his money in, Gabekob pressed the required combination only to see his manna lodge against the very unheaven-like glass. Despite knowing the restrictions against gathering more than one break's worth of manna, Gabekob would not let those Philistines at the vending service rob him this time. He went double or nothing and prevailed.

However, he did not need two snacks. Upon returning to the physics prison, he spotted his bro Joshsau looking famished. He saw the deep hunger in Joshsau's eyes, and in an opportunistic moment of pure genius, offered him a trade.

"Joshsau, I wilt give thou this, my second Twix, if thou wilt give me thy precious robe!" said he.

Joshsau paused and replied, "I doth hunger greatly..." Gabekob could see as Joshsau weighed the options before him as Gabekob rolled the chewy caramel, crunchy cookie, and ice-cream mixture in his mouth. "Alright, thou doeth prevail..." said Joshsau.

And so it was that Gabekob came in possession of a most coveted robe. A couple weeks later, long after the hunger pains had gone with that Twix, only to return hours later, Joshsau delivered the robe as decided. The gift was given with heavy heart, for Joshsau knew he had squandered that which had been bequeathed unto his stewardship. And now, it is I, Gabekob, who possess this shirt:
"I Gave My Word to Stop at Third. 1987 Teen Abstinence Day - Suffolk County Public Schools"


Let this clever rhyme always remind Gabekob and his fellow Israelites of the blessings of abstinence.

Adjectives

You may not have heard these words applied to such items, but I contend that the Macbook Air is the sexiest laptop and Fruity Cheerios is the cutest cereal.

Sexy



Cute
(basically what puppies are to dogs, Fruity Cheerios are to Froot Loops)


And there you have it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

If I Were President

I would do one thing, and only one thing. Illegalize those stupid messages that preface voicemail messages. Seriously, what is the deal?

1) Whatever happened to the good ol' message and a beep?
2) When did we ever get the idea that we needed more options than hang up or leave a message. Seriously folks, priority levels and post recording editing? No... not necessary.
3) While we are at it, what makes cell companies think that if we did need those options, we would want really stupid ways to make our choices. For example, have you ever heard those voicemail messages that start saying "The number you have dialed is not answering, if you would like to leave a message press 1 or just stay on the line, if you would like to hang up press 2. After recording your message press 1 and stay on the line to review your message or make changes, or just hang up the phone. "? Okay. So if I was going to hang up, I would have done it immediately. And secondly, I surely wouldn't press 2 to hang up. I think that people who have ever used that option rather than pressing the end call button on their phone, shouldn't be allowed to have children.
4) Do they realize that we aren't new to leaving this leaving-a-message thing. We've got a couple years under our belt. I think most of us are smart enough to realize that if the person doesn't answer, it means that they didn't answer. Also I think we realize that if there is a beep, it is recording. Even the message the person you are trying to call records is pretty pointless. Okay, every once in a while someone leaves a message saying they are out of the country. But 99% of the time the message will be this "Can't answer, leave a message." And we know that's coming because they didn't pick up. So why say it? All we really need is for a moment of silence to hear that the person didn't pick up and a longer beep to allow us to hang up if we don't want to leave a message.
5) Do people who record long messages realizes that despite how funny they may think they are, they are just exacerbating this problem of time loss in America? There are few things that make me more impatient than having to wait through a message of a friend of mine that is superfluous, especially since I have probably heard it a million times and could recite it myself.
6) But as bad as long messages are, I would take one of those any day over a message that starts like this, "Hello?.... Hello??..... Oh hey, how is it going?...... Actually I'm not able to pick up my phone right now, so leave me a message!" That is actually the unpardonable sin the bible talks about. If not, it is at least a very-hard-to-be-pardoned-of sin.

Anyway, just a rant against voicemail messages. Unfortunately, I don't see the system changing any time soon (even if we just made it like the old fashioned answering machines it would be better). It is one of those things that is annoying enough to be annoying, but not enough to be addressed. So, we will just continued to be nickeled and dimed to death. I've even called T-mobile to see if they could disable the extra junk on my account. No luck :-\

Well, I'll post again soon. It will be less rantish, promise!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thoughts of a Birthday Boy

I guess my foremost thought right now is that I could see myself perforating my eardrum with a toothpick if I had to hear Palin's voice for the next 4 years. But that's probably because they are playing feed of the Ohio rally she is speaking at. Speaking of Palin though, I read a concerning article yesterday about how she has billed the state of Alaska for $21,000 for her kids' airfare to accompany her to events. I guess that is a drop in a state's budget, but it makes me feel her straight talk about cutting spending disingenuous (you know, when she talks about how she tried to sell the governor's jet on ebay but then ended up selling it for a loss). Anyway, I think I am going to vote today. That will be fun.

So today is my birthday. And I'm not quite sure what is wrong with me but it seems as though other people remember that more than me. In fact, yesterday I was reminded twice that today was my birthday (I had really forgotten). Then today I forgot it once. I dunno why, but it just seems semi-arbitrary that one day out of the year that happens to be an exact multiple of the day that you were born is somehow more meaningful than the rest. I mean, I'm fine with it. Maybe I wish it meant more to me. But seriously, 24? I feel old.

I returned from my little tour of Pennsylvania. I left last Wednesday and flew into Philly. Then I interviewed Thursday at Temple University and Friday at University of Pennsylvania. On Saturday I flew to Pittsburgh and stayed with my good friends Sharon and Anthony Quinn. I interviewed at University of Pittsburgh on Monday and flew back that evening to Utah.

It was really good to see Sharon and Anthony. In fact, I'm sure they were a factor in why I liked Pittsburgh so much, especially compared to Philadelphia. I was surprised in how much actually visiting a school changes your previous opinions. Temple, which I had originally thought of as a kind of backup school, actually impressed me. The kids there seemed really happy and pleased with the school. The students I stayed with seemed really nice, and there is also a good LDS population at that school. It is amazing how much of a difference that makes. I went into Temple and Pitt not really knowing too many people. But once I found out that another dental student was LDS and they found out that I was as well, there was an immediate bond. Benny, one of the students at Temple, said that was nice. Mormons kinda look out for each other. In a way it seems like a fraternity. In fact, I've realized this year how much it means to feel like you belong to a group, or to someone. I'm not sure how people do it without the church.

Penn, which I had originally pegged as one of my top choices, didn't really impress me. The students didn't seem that happy. There were only like 1-5 Mormons in each class. The work load seemed a little excessive. Overall though, I wasn't that impressed with Philly. I am not a huge city person. I think I try to convince myself that I am, because that is the hip thing to do as a young professional. But in all actuality, the trash, smell, and poverty of Philly wore on me a little. It's also rather dangerous. Temple is actually located in the ghetto, partially on purpose so that they can serve that underserved area.

I loved Pittsburgh though. The city was manageable, clean, and close to suburbs tucked away in the trees. The school was great. There are 16 LDS students out of the first year class of 80. They have one of two anesthesiology programs for dental schools that you take as an elective. They also have an implant clinic that you can get training in if you take the elective. Those two things are really attractive. The students seemed to have a manageable workload, with some students saying it wasn't really any different than undergrad. The students were really friendly. The school is completely digital with their charts and x-rays. Anyway, I really liked it. It is now definitely one of my top picks.

While I was gone I got an invite to interview at OHSU. So that is it. Hopefully I will be done with interviews by Dec 1 and know where I am going to be next fall by Christmas break. I'm still pretty excited to head up to Portland and see how I like OHSU.

Other than school (and actually more than school) the most exciting thing in my life is that I've started dating someone. She's really nice, very intelligent, and quite pretty. I like her :-).

I was telling Patrick last night that before every interview this last week, I had stayed up till about 2AM and then had to be at the schools around 8:30. He laughed and commented that I'm not that focused on school. It's true, as evident by this blogpost when I should be doing something studious. But somehow I am managing still. I do have a case of senioritis though. I just took an anatomy midterm this morning at 6:55AM that I didn't study for until noon yesterday, and I think I did well. And there is something about living life like this that is rewarding. Living life so that everything just fits perfectly with no room to spare, is kinda exhilarating. In a way it feels as though I am a performer in a highly coordinated and precisely choreographed dance. I think it can get old after a while. But as for now, I'm still plugging away. So, I'm off to Computational Biology class!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Not-so-great Depression

I ran into James today west of the Marriot Center while I was listening to my Planet Money Podcast on the bailout bill. While we caught up and laughed, a middle-aged woman walked by, overheard our laughing and the following conversation took place:

Woman: At least you guys have found something to laugh about.
Us:
Woman: I mean, at least you found something to laugh about at this time. Have you guys been following the news on the economy?
Me: Yeah, I was just actually listening to a podcast about it. It fell like 500 points or so today.
Woman: Yup, I've already lost $50,000. I've got a friend who is in the same boat.
Me: Yeah, I've lost some as well, nothing near that amount, but it is pretty crazy.
Woman: Well, at least you've found something to laugh about...

It was weird. Like... creepy, eerie, you-should-try-to-sell-your-card-for-$5-using-a-cardboard-sign-while-a-photographer-takes-your-black-and-white-picture weird.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Federal Sign Includes Way Outdated Minimum Wage Rates So Workers Don't Forget that Although Their Wage Sucks, It Used to Suck Worse

Less Money in Ecomony Evident from Changes in BYU Campus

A Concerning Sequence of Realizations

1) I take anatomy
2) The last two weeks we have been working on cadavers
3) When touching the cadavers, though I wear gloves, I also need to take notes and so I handle my notebook and pen with my gloves
4) Last week I put the pen back in my pen pocket of my backpack
5) Sometimes when bored in another class, I chew on my pen
6) Until this morning when I created a dedicated cadaver pen, there were no precautions in effect to prevent the actions of realization 5) from happening with the pen from realization 3)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Back to the Glory Days

I have two announcements:

1) I have glasses. Apparently they make me look like a reformed Ska listener according to Barney.

2) I am letting my hair grow out. I hope to achieve a haircut similar to the glory days of yore.

And yes, this picture was originally greyscale until I colored it in my CS100 class.

On an unrelated note, I've noticed something. Well, let me preface my observation with a story. A couple of weeks ago Perris asked me if I wanted to hike Timp with him. Hiking Timp is one of those things that I want to do at least once, like a marathon, so I told him yes. So we embarked on the journey with his friend, who is a Native American and ironically (just wait, you'll see it) touted the fact that we were in good hands traveling with him. We left at 1AM. We started hiking about 1:30AM. And from 1:30AM to about 3:30AM we hiked in the completely wrong direction, probably a good 90 degrees off. And you guessed it, from 3:30AM to 5:30AM we hiked back to the car, at which point we admitted defeat and went home, getting to bed a little after 6:00AM.

Anyway, on our trip, while we were at the store and driving around at 1:30AM, we kept seeing other people out at that hour. And it was interesting, because it was our first inclination to judge them. In fact, we often said thing similar to, "What the heck are these people doing out at this time. They should be in bed. Sheesh." I'm not sure why, but we were excused, because we were on a mission? So, this morning when I woke up at 6:00AM, only 4.75 hours after going to bed, and saw Josh and Seth up, I judged them. In fact, I think it is safe to say that we judged all around. I am sure we all were thinking things such as, "What the...? Why in the world are you guys up at this time. Go to bed." Anyway, I am sure there is some lesson to learn from this. Something like... don't be up at odd hours?

And another story. Yesterday, my former roommate whom I will call... Leroy, gave me too much credit. I was thinking about asking this girl out that has been sometimes known to be at our apartment. He seemed to know her fairly well, so I decided to ask him his advice. Well, I called Leroy, and asked him what he thought. Then ensued a semi-awkward conversation as he explained that the reason he seemed to know her fairly well, well... it was intentional. They had gone out the week before. So I apologized for putting him in a situation involving a conflict of interest. And then later I got her number from someone else and asked her out. An hour after doing so he called me to thank me:

Leroy: I wanted to thank you for calling me. I thought that was very thoughtful of you.

Me: Oh, don't get me wrong. That wasn't thoughtfulness. You give me too much credit. I was just asking you because you seemed to know her fairly well. Sorry.

Leroy: Oh... Well... If you wanted to take her out... go ahead...

Then later in the conversation he told me that he was actually with said girl when I called her but started talking to someone else so he didn't catch why I was calling. At that point I told him that that, in fact, was one of my reasons for calling her, to ask her out. So in conclusion... I guess it is good to be honest with people. Perhaps I should feel bad for my apparent lack of thoughtfulness? I'm also not sure if I was being entrapped. Anyway, I guess it is a good thing he isn't my roommate anymore?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How would you feel if someone called you subprime?

I don't know much about economics. These are my thoughts briefly:

Lately I have been seeing the merit in letting the free market run its course with the current economic crisis rather than bailing out the banks who made unwise lending decisions.

I find myself fortunate in that I feel that of all demographic groups in the US, I feel very minimally impacted by the current economic situation.

I think the debate should go on this Friday.

Everyone alive should listen to This American Life's episode on the current crisis. It is gripping, and that is saying a lot for a story on economics. It is an hour, but completely worth it. Check out The Giant Pool of Money.

And that's it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The post that resembles that drawer in your house that you put stuff in when you don't know where else it goes

Well, I'm not exactly sure what to write about, but I feel like I should because I haven't written in a while, and also because my friend Cindy let me know that her sister Amy apparently reads some of her friends' blogs, including mine. So I thought of her, and the many unnamed readers that I may have but not be aware of and I dunno, it gave me a drive to post again.

Or maybe I am just in the HBLL procrastinating school work. Which I have something to say about actually. I don't have any classes tomorrow, and so the next work I would be working on wouldn't be due until Thursday. As you could guess, I have surprisingly little motivation to get cracking on it now, on Monday. In fact, there is a logarithmic relation at work here. Let me try to outline it in a graph... (I hope it is better than the last visual aide I created for this site. I believe that was a Venn Diagram comparing Eric Badger and I).


So, as we see in the above graph, when the next thing you have to do isn't due for a while, it is easy to get distracted doing things like making blog posts about the phenomenon describing the inability to get too far ahead. It actually is quite an oppressive system that makes it hard to break free from the present.

Now that I've wasted a good half an hour making a simple graph... I need to find other things to blog about.

Oh, today some girl held the door for me on campus. Not just popped it open after she was through, she opened it and let me through and then went through after. I don't know why, but it was a really nice thing to do.

The other day I was thinking that it would be sweet to start all your discussions with some 'buzz phrase' like "How 'bout the gas prices???" Or now since gas dropped a bit, it could be like "How 'bout that fed bailout???" or "How 'bout that hurricane Ike???" It is kinda flexible, but there are some rules:
- The phrase must start with "How 'bout..." and then be followed by something buzz-worthy
- It's all or nothing, every conversation has to start with the aforementioned phrase
- You have to pick just one phrase. I don't care if you talk to Suzie 5 times that day, every conversation must be started with "How 'bout those Cougs and their shutouts???"
I've never really tried it, but I've thought about trying it.

Currently I am listening to unsigned rap artists on iLike. I was actually about to go on my usual "What the heck does that 'i' before everything mean?" stint, but then I realized that this time it actually makes sense. Anyway, if the site name changed according to my actual feelings, it would be called iAmIndifferent right now. This song's only so-so.

I'm thinking about buying a MacBook because I am pretty sick of Windows. However, I am not sure if I can justify buying a new laptop right now. Your justifications would be appreciated in the comments.

The other day I was in the periodicals and they had their little whiteboard all doodled up. It said "Make a play in the periodicals" and had a diagram of a fake football play. But I was thinking, the sign would be a lot funnier (not sure if that is what they were going for, but certainly an option) if it said "Make a pass in the periodicals" and then had a fake diagram of a play. But only this time it could be a passing play. Well, at least I would have enjoyed the sign a lot more.

Today I saw someone carrying a full-size upright bass in campus. Not rolling it, carrying it. I looked at him and thought to myself "That is why I don't play the bass." Then I realized that there are probably a few other reasons that I don't play the bass, but certainly that plays a huge factor in it.

Last Friday was odd. I found myself at the dental clinic again and realized that 5 weeks before I had been broken up with on a Thursday night, went to the clinic the next day, did extractions, and got a small drop of blood on my jeans. Well, there I was, I'd been broken up with again the night before, I was at the clinic, we were doing extractions, and I looked down at my jeans only to see the faded drop of blood. It just seemed a little weird.

I think at one point I made a post of unethical schemes such as getting free postage by putting your name as the address, and the person you want to receive the letter as the return address and then failing to put a stamp on the letter. Anyway, I thought of another scheme to get free food that would make the list: Just go up to J-Dawgs and get in the right line instead of the left. It would be as simple as that. Free AND Faster.

Yesterday at church, my friend Jake Rees and I saw a poster for the BYU EcoResponse team. The poster talked about how we can be gentler on the earth, grow our own food, etc. But the most intriguing point the poster offered was this "Find our how to forage edible food on BYU's campus." We thought this was intriguing, and so we sent the following email:
Eco Response Team:

We are BYU students, and have had minimal success foraging on/off campus. We tried one tree that looked like fruit, but got real sick. Stay away from those little things that look like blue berries-they actually taste like sadness, and our stomachs agree. Any help would be much appreciated. We saw your flier, and were hoping for a map of all the edible shrubbery on campus. Anything off-campus would be a happy bonus. The faster you respond, the sooner we can eat. Thank goodness last week was fast sunday.

Sincerely,

Two aspiring foragers,

Gabe Proulx
Jake Rees

They responded. We were told that last week alone there were 2 guided tours on campus of edible foods. I wouldn't have guessed. This group seems very interesting though. In fact, I may just go to their next meeting.

On that note, I should probably actually do some work. But there is one more thing I have been thinking about changing when I post. Maybe to get more comments and reader feedback I should end posts with a question. Well, here is today's.

How 'bout that large hadron collider ending the world??? (PS. It really hasn't. Want to know how I know. Oh... simple. Just check out www.hastheLHCdestroyedtheearth.com. They also have an RSS feed for you guys that don't want to check it every day.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Politics

This will be short since I really should be doing schoolwork. But I wanted to respond to Keith's recent post which was in response to Diane's recent post about politics. Keith said:

The liberal/conservative battle comes down to this: liberals value equality at the expense of freedom, and conservatives value freedom at the expense of equality. When it comes to those two, it's pretty clear that Mormonism values freedom above all else (Christ vs. Lucifer being the most charged example of this conflict), so that's one reason many people, especially in the church, speak of liberals in such negative terms.


While I think that may at one time have been an adequate simplification, I believe things are now more complex. The notable exceptions I am thinking about are issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and civil liberties in regards to national security. These are issues in which a more conservative view would seem to curtail freedoms, such as the freedom to marry whoever one wants regardless of sex, or the freedom to abort a pregnancy, or the freedom to make calls without the NSA listening in. Now I'm not saying that all those previously mentioned freedoms are good or should be granted, nonetheless they are freedoms.

Perhaps a better, or at least a different, way of defining the political spectrum is as follows. There are number of different areas in which politics regard, such as moral/social issues (abortion, gay marriage, religion), economic issues (policy, taxes, welfare), environmental issues (conservation, fossil fuel exploration, global warming), and educational issues (vouchers, funding, educational grants). There are also a general mindset or strategy in which to handle these issues. At risk of oversimplifying, let's say there are two. One is to have faith in the free market (and I'm not talking in the strictly economic sense here) and allow these issues to handle themselves. The other distrusts the free market and feels that these issues will not respond well unless we regulate them through government.

It's easy to at first say that the free market is championed by conservatives and regulation by liberals, and maybe there is truth to conservatives having a more friendly view of the free market, but I think it depends on the issue. While conservatives often advocate severely limiting or lifting government regulation when it comes to issues such as the environment, education, and economy, on the other hand they often advocate much regulation in the moral/social sector. The thought is that the environment can handle itself since it's already lasted this long, education would be better refined under the competitive pressures of the free market, and the economy is most efficient when generally deregulated. Social issues, however, should be regulated to preserve the morals of society.

Liberals on the other hand strongly push for deregulation in the moral/social sector, but feel that the environment, education, and economy require such regulation. The idea being that as persons it is our right to make our own moral and social decisions, which are largely viewed as only, or at least mostly, affecting ourselves. But there is a general distrust in the ability of the free market to preserve equality when it comes to the other issues. They fear that the almighty dollar does not care whether the environment is around for our children, whether quality education is available to all, and whether all have equal access to our inalienable rights.

So, while equality is certainly a crucial issue in defining the political spectrum, I feel like the dichotomy is more complex than Keith presented. However, to be fair, it is also much more complex than presented here. I have probably only jumped a level of complexity, still leaving many of the intricacies unaddressed. Comments? Who's next?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Palin's Speech

I used to think that McCain wouldn't be a bad choice for President. He wouldn't be my first choice, but as a democrat, I thought he seemed fairly mature, progressive, and above the dirty politics of the past.

I just finished watching Governor Palin's speech at the Republican National Convention. It was very disappointing to see that there was little substance in her remarks beyond attacking Obama's resume as a community organizer, repeating trite maxims such as those relying on the reversal of word order ("While some men use change to promote their careers, others, like John McCain, use their careers to promote change"), an overall collection of negative remarks, and a few more statements calculated to mention various buzzwords.

So, while I used to feel that McCain was beyond much of partisan politics (judging from his bipartisan work in the senate), beyond nasty rhetorical attacks (judging from his straight-talk motto), and more mature (judging from his resume as a seasoned senator and prisoner of war), unfortunately I now have to revise my former sentiments.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Laziness Discovered

I decided to get a CS minor because as a Bioinformatics major you are only lacking 3 credits. The thing is, after taking CS142, CS235, CS236, and CS240 (all programming classes), you have the option of what those last three credits can be. Your options range from CS100 - Fundamentals of Computing, to some much more difficult classes. Last summer I was faced with the dilemma of choosing between the easy way out, or learning for the intrinsic value of learning. I chose the easy way out and took CS100.

I was already feeling a little guilty talking a 100 number (not just 100 level, but actually a 100 course) class in a subject I feel rather proficient in, especially as a senior. I felt more guilty when I walked into the class and noticed that there were actually girls in the class. Girls! In CS class? I felt out of place.

But to top if all off, I finally noticed who my teacher is. It just happens to be the same teacher I had for CS236, by far my most difficult CS class to date. So I slouched down in the back row, hoping the teacher wouldn't recognize me.

I'm not sure exactly what scares me. I think it might be this though... All through High School and College I felt like I have been playing the educational game. I've crammed for almost every test I have taken, often in the halls of the testing center itself. I've switched class sections to another teacher after showing up for the first day if the workload seems unnecessary. I've emailed teachers and asked them to recalculate my grade if by my calculations I deserved a higher letter grade on my report card (and it worked). I guess I just feel like I've learned to work the system to get good grades. Maybe this is all normal and everyone does it. But I feel like this decision to take CS100, not to learn but to fulfill a requirement in the easiest way, is a very visible decision. I guess I am nervous that a teacher is going to see through my actions and call me on it. And maybe something seems inherently wrong about selling out and taking the cake class when I should be here to learn.

Oh well. I'll enjoy making my Excel files, editing sound files, tinkering in Photoshop, and making a website about my family. I've got bigger fish to fry this semester.

High Stakes 'The Claw'



I'm not exactly sure what this machine does... nor do I want to find out. I mean, what kind of "risk" are we talking about here?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lord of the Sunglasses

So I had another weird dream last night.

I somehow had gotten my hands on a pair of sunglasses that I believe people thought had gone missing in a plain crash. Anyway, I didn't think much of them until people started making a big deal of them. I found out there were three sunglasses in this set. The first two fit together like a puzzle piece and the last one you just had to wear over the first two. Apparently something happened if you collected all three. So, more out of curiosity spawned by others, I decided to look for the others.

I did some searching and found the second pair. Someone had been wearing them and so I just forcibly took them from them. They were a little upset but really there wasn't anything they could do about it.

So now I just had to find the last pair. My sources told me they were worn by a second grader. The thing was, when this second grader wore them he could see like they were normal glasses, but when he took them off, his eyes grew all black and he couldn't. Sometimes it was just his eyeballs that got black, other times it was his whole eye sockets.

Well, I tracked down this kid, I believe with the help of his sister. We went to his school and walked into his class. I took his glasses. I think I may have felt a little bad about taking something from a second grader, especially taking his sight, but I got over that when I saw how creepy the kid was with black eyes. He also had this metal skewer thing (like you use for fondue) coming out of his head. I remember thinking that I should pull it out, maybe that's what is impairing his vision, but I thought that it would be too risky if anything went wrong. So as I said, I took the little kid's glasses, he got all upset and creepy with his eyes going black. He followed me around a bit and threatened me that he was going to haunt me and stuff. In fact I transported to a couple locations and he followed me for a while but... there is only so much a creepy little blind kid with a skewer in his head can do before you lose him.

So I had all three glasses. I was wearing them now. Apparently I was supposed to have some special powers, but they also were going to corrupt me. But really, they weren't that great and I didn't mind parting with them. I realized they were pretty analogous to the ring in Lord of the Rings, so I decided Gandalf would be the one to talk to. I looked him up in the teleportation directory and teleported to where he was, but then I realized Sauron was keeping him captive and it was pretty messy. Anyway, I saw him but I just didn't want to get involved with the whole thing and so I flew away. I guess I figured the wizard could fend for himself.

The next best person I could talk to was the Elders Quorum President of all Middle Earth, who was apparently Perris, a friend who had just moved out of my ward. So I catch up with him and we go for a fly. I kept thinking, "Man, we are not high enough. Everyone is probably eavesdropping." Perris had already had his hands full dealing with the real ring and trying to orchestrate Frodo's disposal of it. I felt sort of bad telling him, since I know Elders Quorum President's have a lot on their plate, but I remember saying, "Yeah, well... there is another problem. These sunglasses I've been wearing, they kinda do the same thing. But don't worry, I'll take care of it."

So my next stop, after a short visit to a metal reclamation site, was Mount Doom. I remember navigating some underground tunnels around dangerous lava. And this is where the dream starts to fade away, but I can tell you a couple thoughts in summary:

I am pretty sure I didn't choke at the summit like our friend Frodo. And I'm not so sure if it is because I'm stronger than that, or that the sunglasses were just not that cool.

I really didn't feel that bad about just taking glasses #2 and #3. Those people shouldn't had had them anyway and... they were safer in my hands. In fact, the two people I took them from, kinda freaked out when I took them so I think I justified in my heads that their addiction to these glasses were unhealthy, so I was doing them a favor.

And my final conclusion is that I have some weird dreams.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

During Last Night's Slumber

I was with a girl at her house. This wasn't her apartment, but her family's home. I'm not quite sure who this girl was, but I was trying to convince myself that I liked her. What bothered me though, was her teeth. They were small, had spaces between them, were off-colored, and ended in uneven edges. Nonetheless, we were helping clean up her house. It was dirty, like it hadn't been cleaned in ages.

Next thing I knew, I was in another location. I remember thinking that it seemed to be Downtown Disney at night. I saw Allison Jones walking up to me. Now I started thinking I liked her. We ended going back to the toothy girl's house to hang out in one of the rooms we cleaned. If I recall correctly, there were others in our group.

I sat on something like a Lovesac and faced the couch. Allison sat all the way to one end of the couch. A horse sat next to her, quite closely. In fact one of the two, the horse or Allison, had their arm around the other. He was a brown horse with a lightly-colored belly. I noticed the belly because he wasn't sitting in any known horse-like manner. He was almost reclining on the couch, sitting on his tail, exposing his tan belly to the room. He sat with one hoof quite close to my face.

I thought, 'Horses kick a lot, I know that. I should be alert.' Sure enough, his foot jolted several times, and if I hadn't have caught it each time with my hands, he would have connected.

Before I knew it, I found myself on top of the horse's belly, tickling him on the sides, where you would normally tickle a person, while he laughed and laughed. This is perhaps the most vivid part of the dream because I remember thinking, 'Now this is something else! You don't get to tickle a horse every day.' I think I tickled him off the couch.

So there I ended up, sitting on the couch next to Allison, with the horse sprawled out in front of me, tired from laughing. Allison showed me a text on her phone from a guy named Scott who she had been keeping in touch with the first half of the summer. The text said something like, "I will see you there tonight. I didn't know they were in the landscaping and mulching industry."

It was then that I realized that the horse was Scott. At least he used to be Scott earlier in the day, and was able to communicate like a human, but for some reason he had turned into a horse tonight and was unable to talk. I felt bad for flirting with Allison in front of him, while he could do nothing except try to kick me in the face with his hoof, but I didn't feel that bad.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thanks for the update!



Does anyone read the top headline like I did at first? Like a similar headline could be, "Friend says his buddy who fell off his skateboard doing a 360 is really improving"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

To Change the World with a Rubber Band

Children rarely feel like possessors of real power. I am not talking about the power to make someone else cry. I am talking about real power, the power to effect change and to alter the course of the future. Once, my brothers and I possessed this power, or at least we thought we did. The feeling of being a kid of consequence in a grown-up world was intoxicating.

My dad used to work as a rural carrier for the United States Post Office. Because rural carriers had to use their own vehicles, he had his Blazer converted so that there was another steering wheel put on the right side, connected to the main steering wheel by a belt which would cause the wheels to turn in unison. Brake and gas pedals on the right side were installed that mechanically connected and depressed the actual pedals on left side. The driver seat was removed and instead my dad put in a wooden bin to hold the mail.

So as kids, we could see the full operations of the car as passengers. The wheel would turn and the pedals pop up and down, as though they were driven by a ghost. Also, since my dad dealt with stacks of envelopes, he also had a lot of rubber bands laying around, the semi-thick tan ones.

And therein resided our power. My dad told us that he didn't mind us playing with the rubber bands and that we could shoot them around the car as much as we wanted to while he was driving. Thinking about that now, it doesn't sound too safe to have rubber bands flying around while operating a car, but he really had nothing to worry about. One objective obscured all others, to alter the operation of the car through well-placed rubber band shots.

What did we want to do? Anything. We would have been happy with switching the headlights on, pressing the trip odometer, or changing the air conditioning flow pattern. The real gold mine, however, were the pedals. We tried to make elementary calculations of how many bands would need to be shot and with what force in order to change the braking or acceleration of the car. We greatly over-estimated the momentum carried by a rubber band, because I remember being consumed with this objective.

I remember thinking my dad was crazy for allowing us free reign with these bands. Didn't he know what we were capable of? Theoretically we could flash the high-beams at someone, change the air settings in the car, or depress the brake pedal, ever so slightly, altering our movement and possibly leading to a large scale accident with unforeseen consequences.

This theoretical power was like a drug. I remember the persistent dream that with just the right shot, we would be co-partners in driving this car. And it was with this dream that we were intent on trip after trip shooting band after band at the pedals, just hoping that the next direct hit would carry just enough 'ooomph' to have consequences.

They never did. But even to this day, I have never felt a more tangible potential for power than I did sitting in the back of our Blazer, armed with a rubber band.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Insult to injury



I moped around yesterday. Leaving work at 12:50 so that I could make it to the-dental clinic to assist, I grabbed a popsicle from the break-room freezer. They had handed them out at work the other day, and the extras were just put in the freezer. I thought, 'You know, you can give kids a popsicle and it makes anything better. If I can connect to some inner adolescence, I can drown away my sorrow in this orange twin-pop."

So, I put on my biking shoes, unlocked my bike, strapped on my helmet and started moseying my way on over to the clinic, making careful to hold on tightly to my popsicle. I've seen the cruelness of a kid with a fallen popsicle, and I wasn't going to that happen to me.

I downed one side and started working on the next. And then I encountered an unforeseeable, and undefeatable foe to my popsicle panacea. I drove through a cloud of gnats. Actually, not just one, but several consecutive clouds.

So there I was, riding along with a popsicle speckled in dead gnats, with nothing to do except hold on to the popsicle as it melted its once-sugary goodness all over my hand. It was a while until I reached the next dumpster.

After arriving at the clinic with a sticky left hand, we did nothing but extractions. That's right, I got to assist while Dr. White pulled a total of 9 teeth from 3 different patients.

The blood, pain, broken teeth, and sutures, all got me thinking about the extraction that happens after breaking up. When you date someone you share routines, sayings, and memories. After a while these become a part of you. When you break up, it isn't a matter of eliminating that person from your life. In fact, on several of the teeth Dr. White pulled, that was what had happened. The crown of the tooth had previously broken off, or broke off with the slightest of pressure from his forceps. It looked like the tooth was gone. But in reality the roots go deeper. You have to dig them out. You change how you talk, your routine, what you think about. You have to change who you are. And sometimes it's bloody, messy, and painful.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Of Breaks and Broken Hearts

I knew it was a bad sign when she awkwardly stood at the door and waited for me to invite her in. But really, I knew what she had come to say. We sat on distant sides of the same couch, me with my arms crossed. It was a closed body position, but the only one that felt natural.

After finishing up our banal small talk, we started on the heart of the matter. She talked, I listened. While she was commenting on our differences and taking her time to explain her feelings, I had that Relient K song stuck in my head:

I'd better rest my eyes
'Cause I'm growing weary of
This point you've been trying to make
So rather than imply
Why don't you just verbalize
All the things that you're trying to say

Thought this would turn out so well
But I'm beginning to see
That instead it's trouble
Into a pattern we fell
Of prolonging the inevitable.

Why don't you
Come right out and say it?
Even if the words are probably gonna hurt
I'd rather have the truth
Than something insincere
Why don't you
Come right out and say it (come right out and say it)?
What it is you're thinking
Though I'm thinking it's not what I wanna hear

All along, I knew this break would end up breaking things. Before she had come over, I had written a song, "The Dance" by Garth Brooks, on a piece of paper. It had been one of our songs, but it wasn't until today that I realized it was about breaking up. The foreshadowing felt cruel. After the lyrics, I wrote how much I cared, how much I would miss her, and wished her luck. I gave her the note, we hugged, she left, and I receded to my room.

I darkened the lights, crashed on my bed, pulled up the blanket, and sobbed. These were deep sobs, the kind that shakes your core, that you never let out around others. In fact, you don't really know how they sound until you are in a situation that requires them. After a while, I was done. I brushed my teeth, flossed, and went to bed early.

The hardest things about this? When she told me I was amazing, wonderful, and that she thought the world of me. When I try to convince myself that there are others like her out there, yet find myself at a loss for a single name. When I look back at our memories and wish I could go back to any one of them.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Waking up

I've decided what one of the worst feelings in the world is. It is when something is wrong in your life, and you fall asleep to a dreamworld devoid of this problem. Then you wake up forgetting you have this problem but your first realization of the day is the rediscovery that yes, this problem still exists.

That happened to me today. :-\

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Seriously?



Maybe on The Onion... but a headline like that... on CNN?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ruts

I think ruts have a huge impact on our lives whether or not we realize it. It's not all bad either, despite the fact that the word has a slightly negative connotation.

President Frazier, my mission president, used to tell us about ruts. He talked about how obedience was a rut, a good one, that we wanted to get into. The more you would obey or do something you were supposed to, you would create a habit. As time went on, that pattern of behavior became a rut. It was comfortable and easy to keep, and you felt some natural resistance when your actions were outside of the rut.

Because that's what a rut is, right? Run a knife across a worn table or ride a saucer down a well-used sledding hill. A rut not only directs you in a specific direction, but it naturally guards you against aberrant behavior. And it's not that you can't behave outside the rut, it just requires a certain amount of energy. In physics it is called escape velocity, which is the necessary velocity an object needs to be able to escape the gravitational pull of a planet. However, this velocity is a vector and it isn't just the magnitude of the velocity that counts, it is also the direction. Sometimes we have what seems to be the necessary escape velocity, but it is headed straight down the rut. Oftentimes, breaking out of ruts requires deliberate, perpendicular, and calculated actions.

Some ruts are bad. I've found myself carrying baggage from one relationship into another, projecting undeserved attributes from a previous significant other to the person I just started dating. Or maybe it is my own behavior that I am sometimes holding on to.

Other times I have felt a friendship fall into an undesirable rut. The most common example of this is the rut of sarcasm. Now, I admit, sarcasm has an interesting way of forming an immediate connection between two people. I've met people where we were instantly able to connect at a certain level because we could share a similar sarcastic humor, but it is too easy to fall into the sarcastic rut. This is the rut where your sarcasm is balanced by little or often no genuine communication. Sometimes your friendship devolves into the equivalent of two drowning swimmers, both trying to claw up on the other person to keep their head above water. Your friendship ends up being built upon jokes at the other person's expense. Other times it is less competitive, but your communication with each other is void of any meaningful value. You leave each conversation with nothing gained, only time and energy lost. Sarcasm is an easy rut to fall into, but I've found it is possible to escape if you both take deliberate action, with the right velocity, at the right angle.

Just because you've escaped a rut, doesn't mean you're in the clear. In fact, I've been thinking lately about a few of the ruts I once escaped but have slipped back into. One transfer on my mission my companion and I decided it was unchrist-like to make fun of people, which isn't that easy of a habit to break. Making light of people or situations becomes a defense mechanism that some missionaries use to press on in light of adversity. So for six weeks, we were more christ-like. It was great and totally worth it, but I slipped back into it with the next companion. More recently I felt like a made some breakthroughs in my personal outlook on life. I decided I was going to worry less, be less cynical, and be nicer to others. However, I think I just got busy last semester and had my resources strained. My new outlook felt the brunt of the pinch, and as a result I felt like I have backpedaled a bit, but not entirely. So, some ruts you can escape and be done with, with others you have constant battle.

Finally, I wanted to talk about a different kind of rut. After the previous paragraphs it seems very unrelated, but it is actually what got me thinking about this post. I read an item Ben Crowder shared in Google Reader yesterday. It was a piece proposing a new standard for electrical outlets that would eliminate the need of the power blocks most of our devices come with. I read it and thought, "Cool. This is a really good idea." But I read it with skepticism because I know the ruts we get into as a society and how difficult it is to escape them. There are certain ruts that we are in that I don't know if we will ever escape. Not that it wouldn't be worth escaping, it is just that it would need such deliberate action that I'm not sure we are incapable of as a country. The benefits are not immediate, but rather are accumulated over time, making it all the more difficult to motivate ourselves to be the ones to make the difficult transition. The main example I am thinking of is the metric system. There is almost no compelling argument NOT to switch. Yet year after year we have our teachers wasting class time teaching the intricacies of the customary system and reteaching the metric system so that we can perform calculations in the hard sciences. And year after year we make error upon error because there aren't ten inches in a foot, and there aren't ten feet in a yard. It is a frustrating feeling that although there are some really good ideas out there, like a more efficient electrical standard or a system of measurement that makes sense, the escape velocity is often too great to be achieved. It also seems as though these ruts escape the pressures of a free market. I don't know much economics but it seems as though a switch to the metric system, as efficient as it would be, isn't being favored by the market. I'd be curious to know if this is an inadequacy of the free market, or simply an inadequacy of my understanding of economics.

So find your bad ruts, escape. Find your good ones and score them a little deeper.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Random thoughts - June-style

- New security tactic for my car: Jlarchiblog told me the other night that his car was broken into through the window. His amp was stolen. Ever since I have started leaving my windows down and car unlocked. Cause frankly, I think that it is more likely that my car will be looted than stolen itself. So... loot away guys. There isn't anything in there of value. And at least now my window won't be broken. PS. If you are going to steal something from a car, it seems that you would choose an item with a better dollar to pound ratio. A $200 amp that ways a full 100 lbs? I'm sorry, but that just doesn't seem worth it.

- Clapping to the beat at a musical event: I'm not sure about this, but it seems very likely that clapping in rhythm at a musical performance would be considered bad form for an audience. Now I can see it if you are at a performance of Gospel music or if someone on stage puts their hands together above their head in the lets-all-clap motion. But when you are watching a band of woodwinds and brass instruments, that have even supplied their own percussion, I don't know that is appreciated. In fact, it is kind of arrogant to assume that the person next to you would rather hear you clapping than the piece playing. Also, I'm not quite sure people are aware that the tempo often changes in songs. So, I dunno, does anyone in a performance major have any more legitimate insight on this topic? I could be way off.

- You know that quote where that general authority says that kisses shouldn't be given out like pretzels. Well... I don't think that standing ovations should be given out like pretzels either.

- I tried out for and got cast in a play, which I am sure all of you know about. Actually, I think most of you know that I am in a play, and know of a certain action that takes place in the play, but oddly enough have no clue what the short is really about. It really is a masterfully written short though. But anyway, the other day we met with the assistant director, Christian, and discussed the back-stories for our characters. It was really fascinating. You can get lost in your character's story. It felt like I was using a creative muscle that hadn't been stretched in a long time, since maybe I was a kid. Anyway, I liked it. It made the lines in the play make sense. There is a certain satisfaction about discovering who your character is, and doing it so well that you really feel like all the lines in the play become natural. They are exactly what that character would say in that situation.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Just Keep On Heelin'

That's my new motto. How new you ask? Oh... only since I've been the proud owner of THESE!


Ok... So I got these a week ago. The reason why I haven't posted about them yet is because this is a difficult post. It's like.... the first post after you get married (I imagine) or after your Mom dies (also imagining here). What do you say? When such a momentous occasion like this happens in your life, it takes a bit to process it and come to terms with the changes in your life. I'm not sure if I am ready yet, but I felt this post was overdue.

So the story? I was at work and mentioned to my coworker that I always wanted to get Heelys. Actually, I guess I didn't always want to get them, it started last year around my birthday. I just knew that the best birthday present I could get was a pair of Heelys. But they only make up to a man's size 12 and I would have to order them online, so I didn't risk it. Brenden, my co-worker, mentioned that he actually had a pair of 12's and wouldn't mind bringing them in. So he brought them in, and it was love at first roll. So... I bought them off of him.

That first day I:

-Almost ran into an old man coming around the corner at work

-Fell backwards onto my hands

-Discovered they could roll on really compacted carpet

-Rolled down almost the entire length of the hallway in the Nichols building (prime Heeling real estate if any of my readers are Heelys wearers)

-Fulfilled the daydream I had almost every day last year which involved me rolling down the bike side of the ramp up to south campus (oddly enough a girl was walking her bike up the pedestrian side while I rolled down)

-Made a lot of my friends jealous

So... Heeling isn't without its drawbacks. I took a spill the other day in my parking lot and ended up scraping up my hands. I still am coping with the fact that everyone looks at me the same way the would look at their misbehaving 10-year-old brother. And finally, I've discovered that the life of a Heeler is a lone one. None of my friends can keep up. I've considered picking my favorite friend and buying them a pair, just so I can have a companion.

Honestly though? They are freaking fun. And really efficient too. Especially when you are grocery shopping. I would highly recommend them. In fact I do, I recommend a pair of Heelys.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Secrets in the White House



So, for the life of me I could only come up with a few possible explanations for why the White House is doing O-Chem on their computers:

Someone from the cabinet is working on their GED.

Bush was sketching out some possible solutions for global warming, this one involving the creation of more oxygen.

Someone was briefing Bush on the difference between Ozone and Oxygen.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Economy

A year ago I could be heard saying, "The economy? How is that going to affect me? I don't have that much money invested, and I don't run the risk of getting laid off." Interestingly enough, I've come to see how it has affected me. Mainly because I came home today with $50 of groceries that probably would have cost $35 a couple years ago. The economy is actually really fascinating to me, partially because I don't understand it.

Another interesting concept floating around in my head is the relative nature in which we look at expenditures. How bizarre is it that I will look at a container of Juicy Juice that costs $2.50 and think that it is way to expensive to purchase, when I may go home and stop by Jamba and buy a smoothie for $4.50. It is almost as if there are parallel realms in which money has different values. Another example of this is the fact that, for some reason, it doesn't bother me that the total of my application fees for dental school are around $800. I always knew it would be expensive, and so I don't mind that it is. Similarly, I don't mind the price of gas. In my mind, gas is a necessity that I always knew I would need. The benefits of travel far outweigh the cost of gas, even at $4 a gallon, so I don't really think twice at the pump.

In some twisted sense, it is almost an adventure. It is almost fascinating to see the price of gas keep rising and keep rising and see the effect it has on life. I am not forgoing other necessities to support my transportation, so it really hasn't taken its toll on me. Overall, I think it is an interesting trend to watch and analyze. In fact, I think the benefits of higher priced gas outweighs the cost of, well, its cost. Nothing will force our economy to be greener and less reliant on oil than a high price. The prices we endure now will return to us in more fuel efficient cars and a less oil-reliant economy. Those are my thoughts at least.

Double or nothing

I think I have a gift in life of seeing connections between unrelated things. You know, like drawing analogies to help things become more clear.

Tonight I was having a conversation with someone I had just met and we were joking around. As the general mood of the conversation was that of friendly jests, I lightly made fun of her at one point, being sure to smile so she know I was kidding. However, when I made my comment she said, "Okay, I am actually offended by that." I couldn't tell if she was joking about this too. So I took a risk and called her out on it by saying "No you're not." She told me she really wasn't and continued laughing.

Later I thought of that and remembered the other day when I was thinking about the concept of going "double or nothing" in gambling and how it changes the dynamics of betting. I then realized that essentially, that is what I did in that conversation. I went double or nothing with the currency of socialization. She could have really been serious and been even more offended when I said she wasn't. Luckily, I seemed to have one that bet. I thought it was kind of an interesting parallel though. Maybe you don't.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A little friendly blog-contest

That's right. This is a first for my blog. But I'd like to challenge my fellow bloggers to a photo-contest. This means that I pick a random topic and then whoever posts the most interesting photo relating to that topic wins. Okay. So we need a first topic. How about....Let's see....Uhm....Random stains in the carpet at your work that look like vaporized toddlers? Yeah, I think that will do.

Oh! I happen to have just the photo!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The rebellion begins

It started two weeks ago when I went into the break room to get a drink. You see, I am too lazy to pack a lunch, and in fact, I don't want to even take a lunch break at work. I would much rather get off an hour earlier and eat lunch and dinner in one larger consolidated meal, than take off an hour in the middle of my work day to spend eating lunch at a corporate office. Sometimes though, I have a dollar in my wallet and I buy something from the breakroom. Not anymore!

Two weeks ago I went in to buy a drink. There are two drink machines, one consisting of nothing at all that I would want to drink, and the other only half consisting of things I wouldn't drink. The second one has like, 2 things of Dasani water, 4 flavors of Monster Energy Drink (which for some odd reason seems very fitting in a summer sales company), and two different flavors of that flavored VitaWater stuff. So I decide to get the VitaWater, put my dollar in, and realize both are sold out. Also, the coin return button doesn't work. So after jamming the button in despair for a minute, I resign myself to waste my money on water to try to at least recoup something. I didn't enjoy the water.

The machine wanted to play hardball, so I played. A week later I went to get something to drink. But this time, I pressed the VitaWater buttons first to make sure they weren't sold out. Then I put in my dollar and drank up. This is when the machine got smart and adapted to counter me. Two days ago I went to get another drink. This time I first made sure the VitaWater was not sold out. It wasn't. I put my bill and triumphantly pressed the button. Instead of the normal "VEND" that displayed on the machine, it displayed "1.00". I tried over and over to no avail. The machine conveniently had no recollection that I just put in a dollar. I walked away a broken man, vowing to never frequent that machine again.

My co-worker confirmed to me that the machine wasn't just getting mouthy with me, but with everyone. Just the other day he walked in on this lady in her late 50's drinking a Monster. After commenting that she didn't seem the Monster type, she told him that is what it decided to give her. I guess she was trying to cut her losses.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Life...

Man, I think I hit a low for May. Only one post? That is pretty poor. Anyway, hopefully I am back. May was a busy month. But, as of last night around 11 p.m., I have submitted my dental applications. Or at least everything that I can. My AADSAS is in and I have filled out my secondary for University of Pennsylvania. I also sent off the checks to the other schools that require a processing fee right away. Now all I can do is sit and wait. Some schools ask for a secondary when they schedule an interview, others don't even require one.

I've been getting really excited about dental school lately. Because I had to fill out a secondary already for UPenn, it is currently my first pick. The only problem is that UPenn is not only the priciest school out of the 5 I am applying to, but it is one of the priciest of all schools. It is also pretty selective. So who knows... My dream though? To get in and get their Dean's scholarship. I don't know how much of a chance there is of that happening though. My DAT was good, but not exceptional. And as for research experience, I have zilch. Anyway, I can dream right? But there are some really cool things that interest me with UPenn. They have a student exchange program that lets you go study at a dental school at a foreign country for 4 or so weeks. The are also heavily involved with the World Health Organization and focus on oral infectious diseases. Anyway, I think it is cool that they focus more on dental health than just dental surgery. I'll change the topic before this becomes a recreation of my essay on why UPenn is right for me:-).

In other news, I applied for a passport thinking that if I need to go somewhere, I would rather have one ready than have to worry about applying for one. To be honest, I guess I have some romantic notion that I will have to flee the country in a hurry because of some.... some... important reason yet to be imagined by me. It is exciting enough just to think about having to flee the country. But I guess the undetermined reason would probably be along the lines of something you might see in a Dan Brown novel. After all, you never know when you are going to get yourself caught up in an international crisis. So, I got the passport with no plans to travel anywhere. In fact when it asks on the application what trips I am planning, when I am planning them, and why, I had to sheepishly right down that I had none planned. I thought that if I did want to leave somewhere, I probably wouldn't have the time to get a passport beforehand. But apparently I am wrong. The state department got my passport back in 9 days! I applied for one on Tues the 27th right before the Utah Clerk's office closed, and I got my passport back today. I dunno, but it seems uncommonly fast for our government. Maybe it is a sign that I will be needing it soon? Anybody want to travel?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Legalistic jargon at its finest




It's as though they are covering their bases. Not only do they have the right to not read my replies, but they also have the right to delegate the reading of my replies to robots or any subhuman species.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Twin? TWIN?? I've got half the mind to call the FTC on you... lousy bed industry.

This is my bed:

Today while purchasing a sheet set for it, I found out it was called a twin bed. Twin? Now, before I knew what it was called, I was fine with it. It's a small bed, that's what you get when you are a single student. But now I am outraged! Just what exactly does "twin" mean? I know that if I had a twin I couldn't sleep on that bed with him. Probably not even if we were conjoined or something weird like that. The only twins fitting on that bed together are... like baby twins. The straight-outta-the-womb type. And then I guess you could fit like 5 on it width-wise. Why don't they just call the bed a quintuplet then?... It's about as accurate of a description...

So that is it. I was happy in my ignorance. But now that I know that this whole "bed sizing" thing is a scam... I think I will fall asleep in tears of bitterness every night.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What? A mountain? Of course we aren't going around it. Just dig right through it.



These things have bothered me for a while now. Let me try to recreate the mental environment of the engineer who designed this new wave of stubborn paper towel dispensers:

"Oh crap..."

"Yeah... this isn't going to work. It jams every time you pull the paper towel with just one hand."

"Frick, I've been working for months on this design."

"Come on.. Think! THINK ROY! You can pull this one together. You are NOT scrapping this design. You've got to recover from the humiliation you received when they shot down your biometric-eye-scanning-security towel dispenser. I don't even think they KNOW how much illegal aliens cost us a year through unauthorized use of our paper towels. Whatever... Come on think..."

"Ok ok. No we can do this. The consumer will just have to use both hands to pull the paper towel dispenser. Yes. That's it. Only then can this delicately poor design I've created keep its equilibrium and continue dispensing paper towels."

"How are we going to accomplish this? We could.... make the paper towels so heavy that it is impossible for the average person to handle UNLESS they used both hands? No.. Crap idea. You know what, it's late, you gotta get home. Just plan putting some stupid label on the front."

"No... That isn't good enough. People NEVER read labels. You need something in addition. Hmm... Oh oh, I got it! This isn't anything a little operant conditioning can't solve. I will PUNISH those who fail to use both hands. Now how will I do that... Alright, how bout this? It will have a sensor.. and deliver an electrical shock to them whenever they use only one hand. No.. Another crap idea. Too risky. Too expensive. Oh okay, how about this? I'll just put this ridiculous turny thing on the side as a manual override. It's kind of a knob, but not simple like a knob. I'll make it all complex with little ridges and swooping plastic things that only go one way and don't fit your finger. That way the consumer will have to stare at it for a good few seconds and relearn every time they're in the bathroom how to use it to get a towel if they pulled the first one with just one hand. That'll teach them to screw with my towel dispenser!"

"Yeah.. Yeah. I think that'll work. Yeah, you just need to get home. It's late, but at least you've got got the problem solved. Well... at least its not your problem anymore. Hah! Suckers that use bathrooms in public places! They will rue the day they shot down my biometric dispenser. RUE!"

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Debut as an Exhibitionist

For almost every young boy, there is a transition that they make in their life. No, not when their voice starts changing and they begin to shave. I'm talking about when briefs give way to boxers, and a boy becomes a man. Boxers are a real man's underwear. Briefs aren't. Boxer briefs? Uhm.. maybe a man-boy's underwear.

I had to make this transition myself. There was no talk to prepare me. There was no pamphlet handed out at school. There was no Boxer-ed class. I had to walk the road alone. So there I was, in the midst of this tumultuous transition, trying to make sense of who I really was inside.

I was probably ten years old. We were living in our first house in Marietta. One summer morning I was just lazing around the house. It was one of those slow mornings, and the day's agenda was as clear as the summer sky. I lounged around the house in a pair of comfortable boxers and a t-shirt. The house failed to keep my attention and eventually I wandered outside. At this point I'm not quite sure if I was completely aware of the fact that I was still only wearing a t-shirt and boxers. The boxers were so comfortable. The didn't constrict like briefs do. In fact, they just felt like a nice pair of shorts.

So I roamed around my yard. It didn't matter that I was only in my boxers. There was a high enough fence around my yard to shield me from the view of the neighbors and passer-bys. Sure enough, however, I got bored with the yard. What I needed then was something to cure my sweet-tooth.

I was a man of action, and so I acted. I hopped on my bike and made the trip of three blocks to the convenience store on the side of Route 441. After perusing for a while, I made my purchase and returned home with the booty of sweetness. It was then that I finally realized that I was still in my Garfield boxers. Hopefully Marietta enjoyed the show.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

You can't break a break

Yesterday James and I were cruising around in his car and he asked my if I had ever watched infomercials. I told him that sadly I have watched several, and a few of them in their entirety. Then he started to go off about how it confused him that it was possible for infomercials to pretend to take commercial breaks. Like, they will interrupt their faux talkshow to have a sort of commercial break... all inside this big meta commercial called an infomercial.

Well, I had a similar experience a moment ago at work. I showed up to work about 3 hours ago, and have done absolutely nothing of value to the company since I've gotten here. They just haven't had anything for me to do. I am waiting on a report that is needed before I do anything. So, for the past three hours I have read a whole slew of CNN articles, watched their videos, checked out ABC.com, checked my stocks, checked my bank account, checked my school account, and written a long email to Jo. I've been pretty busy not being busy at work. And so the thought popped into my head, "Gabe, you should take a break. You know how you never take those 15 minute breaks you are legally entitled to because you feel like it makes the day go even slower and you also feel guilty if anyone would see you not working, well maybe you should take one today." And then I realized I couldn't. It just isn't possible. You can't break a break.

I think I'm gonna check out Wikipedia next.