Monday, December 14, 2009

Gum fiend

I just bought $42 of gum... Awesome.

Monday, November 2, 2009

One Egg Wonder

That is the name of this awesome little pan I found while rummaging through cupboards the other day. It has never been used. But it looks awesome and I am going to use it after this blog post. Isn't it awesome looking? Totally teflon. In fact it says "Non-stick inside and out." I am still trying to figure out what would be sticking to the outside. The beauty if this pan is that the other week I was frying an egg in a way large pan, let's call it the "ten egg mediocre" pan in honor of this naming schema, and as I was trying to contain egg white from running everywhere before it congealed, I thought to myself, "This is a pain, I wish I had a better pan." Crazy huh?
But, I was reading the warning label on the back, trying to see if it came with directions, because oddly enough frying an egg is a difficult thing for me to do. But guess what crazy fact I found about pans and the fumes they emit when overheated. Stop guessing, cause you won't get it. I'll just tell you. They harm exotic birds! Here it is, straight from the label with my commentary:

Frequently Asked Questions [I wonder how they define "Frequently." And where are these pan connoisseurs gathering with their queries? I highly doubt any question based around a pan could be considered "frequently asked"]

Q: If the cookware is accidentally overheated, will there be hazardous fumes? [I hadn't even thought of this question, so it is good someone knows more about pans than me]

A: Any material overheated at a high enough temperature will emit fumes [I think I would beg to differ with that point. What about water? That is more of a vapor than a fume. But, I like their logical setup]. Fumes from overheated non-stick ookware will not adversely affect humans or household pets, [At this point I'm thinking, okay standard answer, nothing to write home about. But then they slam me from left field with this curveball!] with the exception of certain exotic birds [Wow! How did they ever find out that? Props to T-Fal for throwing a bunch of exotic birds and teflon pans in a furnace together. Major props.] Users should observe good cooking practices and never allow non-stick cookware to overheat. For safety, always keep birds in a well-ventilated room away from the kitchen [I feel like they need to qualify this suggestion. Because, I've got a bunch of birds, actually the tender loins of birds, frozen in a very poorly-ventilated and very cold space inside my kitchen. Technically, I am not following this instruction but I'm going to break protocol on this one.]

Anyway, off to cook an egg.

Crap! I just tried to call T-Fal to get the scoop on how they figured that out. Turns out, they have very generous customer service hours from 8-5:30 EST, and they take the last call 5 minutes prior to closing. And unfortunately, I was calling at 5:29. Meh.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Google Calendar in Menu Bar OS X

Okay, so really, this post is almost exactly the same post as on However, their instructions won't get you the most functional calendar (the navigation is sketchy). So I thought I'd review how I was able to do this.

Do what? Well, today I got frustrated with the fact that iCal and Google calendar do not always play well. Specifically, on my Google calendar I have an all-day event every school day called "Assignments" which is a summary of what is due that day, and what lectures are being given. Because this event was created originally as a repeating event and later modified so that it was no longer a part of the series, it doesn't sync correctly with iCal. Actually, it did until about two days ago. Then something broke. So now, iCal merely has every "Assignment" event every school day, with nothing more than the generic template I used to set up the original event.

So, here was my setup: Google Calendar is my primary calendar. It syncs (along with GMail which no one told me is now push) with my iPhone. My Macbook Pro had iCal syncing with Google calendar. However, I don't like the interface of iCal, and didn't want to be bothered to browse to a new calendar each time I wanted to review my schedule. So I used iSlayer's Organized dashboard widget which seems to be the best way to access iCal quickly. And then to add events to iCal (which would then push to Google Calendar and then my phone) I would use a nice natural language parser widget QuickCal which recognizes phrases like "Dinner tomorrow with Jon at 3pm for 60 mins."

And then it all broke. To be honest, I had been having problems with the events I added through QuickCal making it from iCal to Google Calendar. It would give me an error and delete my event on the next sync. But as of two days ago, my repeating events refused to sync to iCal as separate events, so I threw it all out of the window. Now there's a gaping hole in my dashboard, and my dashboard is a whole lot less useful. Because this is what I have going on now.

Today I discovered the amazing world of Fluid and Site Specific Browsers. Basically, it is a stripped down browser window that is dedicated to one site. So now I have an icon for GMail, Google Reader, and Google Calendar. They even support badges. The only problem I have right now is that it lacks support for multitouch gestures.
So, that is all fine and dandy, and setting those up is pretty straight forward. Make sure you use "" for your badges to work on reader. But I still hadn't solved the problem of having a quick reference to my schedule without going into Google Calendar. So here is how I made a menubar application for Google Calendar using the iPhone mobile version.

1. Download Fluid
2. Unpack, drag into your applications folder, and run.
3. Pick a name like "Menubar Cal" and use the URL "" (This is the only real step that differs from the link I used. The theappleblog article references a more generic mobile version that didn't give you any way to go back without right clicking and selecting back)
4. Use an icon from here.
5. Click create.
6. Launch your new creation.
7. Click on the "Menubar Cal" dropdown, and then "Convert to MenuExtra SSB..."
8. There you have it, a fully functional iPhone Google Calendar in your menu bar.

Tip for the Fluid apps: You may want to install a few userscripts by going clicking on the script icon in your app and then "Browse" and searching for and installing:
-"Fluid Gmail Growl" - Gmail: Gives you grow notifications for new messages. Currently the only solution I have to get up to date gmail notifications since Google's notifier is quite laggy.
-"GMail without Ads" - Gmail: Self explanatory
-"Today's Date Dock Badge for Fluid" - Calendar (desktop verson): Adds a badge for the current date to your dock item.

You'll also want to go to Preferences for each app, and then Behavior Preferences, and check the checkbox for "Only hides the window" next to "Closing the Last Browser Window." This will let you Cmmd-W out of your Fluid apps, but keep the badges, growl notifications, and date badges coming.

Tip: Here are the URLS I used for my Fluid Apps:

UPDATE: I have now found a better solution. Instead use the URL "" which is the url for the iGoogle calendar widget. It displays a nice monthly calendar, shows you your agenda, formats your event notes with newlines (main complaint with the iphone version), and includes the equivalent of the QuickCal language parsing widget. Woot! Here's a screenshot.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I just lived a mentos commercial

Scaife is one of the medical buildings here at Pitt. They have these escalators that go down 3 flights to the library. There are also elevators, but students accessing the library are supposed to use the escalators and leave the elevators for those accessing the 7 or so floors above. Anyway, the last escalator going down has been broken and blocked for a week. And you can't see it from the floor you come in on, so you usually end up hoping it is fixed (how complex can it be?) and going down 2 flights of escalators, only to find that you can't get down to the library. Then, because the stairway system doesn't have any access to the library (there is a sign telling you to use the escalators), you end up looking like an idiot waiting to use the elevator for one floor.

So today I took the gamble as always. I came in, took two flights of escalators and BAM!, dead end. I went around to the escalator going up from the library to my floor, only to see a couple people on it. So I had to turn around and act like I had just "remembered something" and that I wasn't really going to try to run down the up escalators they were using properly. By the way, I really hate turning around and doing a 180 in front of people, cause I worry what they are thinking of me. Like, are they thinking "That guy is so indecisive, why was he just heading down the block that way, and then he turned right around and went back where he came?" Or maybe they think I am forgetful. They probably don't think anything. I guess I'm not that important.

So I stand in front of the elevators with another guy in the same situation and wait for the elevator to come. I wait. I wait... I get impatient. I turn around to glance at the up escalator again. The other guys knows what's going through my head. I wait. I glance. I go, turn the corner, and doublestep down the up escalator to the other guy's fading chuckle.

Two things were missing. 1) A pack of mentos. 2) Direct eye contact with that guy once I made it all the way down, accompanied by a gender-preferentially ambiguous smile.

It was classic. Too bad I went in the library and headed for a study room, only to see him a few paces behind me. At least I got my exercise.


I love Chesterfield Rd. Why? Because I left my house this morning at 7:57 and got to class at 8:01 by foot (feet? I did use both...) And then I finished our training session at 9:10 and made it home to blog, get back to what I was doing this morning before waking up, and study before I have a meeting at 12:00pm. A meeting which, if you were wondering, will require me to leave at 11:56am.

That is why I am staying on Chesterfield, despite the concerns about finding new roommates. Craigslist has been finding a few potential guys so far, including one who just may be a professional Boxer named Muhammed Ali. But... only if he went back to school to become a doctor and needs a place to stay while he does an internship here. Anyway, I love Chesterfield.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My day has been made

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Do you think...

that there would be a market in 1.5% milk?


I just saw a picture of a guy hugging a monkey. It rekindled childhood desires of owning my own golden lion tamarin.

I also just started my campaign to have someone name their child after me. With as many friends as I have pregnant, and as gender-neutral of a name as mine, let's hope I have success. But Badgers, know that you are my top pick and the only couple I have personally (through your blog) asked. Oh, and it will also be royalty-free.

I haven't been posting much lately. I realized yesterday that I posted a lot last month, and not a lot this month. Then I got to wondering if my posting frequency is proportional to the lameness of my social life and inversely proportional to the number of friends I have living near me. Maybe. I looked back over the couple years of this blog and didn't see any patterns. Although I think my social life has been relatively stable, aside from moving across country. I was going to write some sentence comparing the move to Pittsburgh with the burning of a forest and the new growth allowed, but then I realized that would be like comparing my friends to old trees and imagining them on fire. Forget I thought of that analogy.

There have been several times I've been tempted to post, but am concerned at how public my blog is. At one point, I didn't like to it from my Facebook account. It is hard to balance the desire to be open and share thoughts with others, with the need to be sensitive and consider that I don't really know who is reading my blog. So... I don't know. I'll have to think about this one.

School is going great. I love it. I really do. I love learning to work, rather than learning to apply to dental school. It is so purposeful.

I am excited to call bingo at the old folks home and carve pumpkins tonight.

It is cold.

My roommate got teargassed last week. The following night I got a text from Pitt saying "The condition in Oakland may be deteriorating. Please stay nearby your residence." I got curious and went down to see the action. So I'm not sure if that message worked.

I need to go for my rotation in dental hygiene!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Living the Dream

I wanted to clarify that the "Ahhhh" title of the last post was a relaxing one, not a screaming frenzy one.

Seriously though, I love life. I love that I am doing things in dental school that I will do in my career. It is really an odd experience. I love that I am in Pittsburgh. I love that I have some great friends already here. I love that I did well on my tests. Things are just going really well.

As a way of update, dental school is cool. It really has been very manageable. So far more manageable than undergrad. I think part of that is because we have a set schedule almost every day from 8 - 5 rather than one with all these holes in it. About 2/3 of our class time is devoted to basic sciences or dental classes. The other 1/3 is clinical rotations, sim lab work where we use typodonts (fake torsos) to practice skills, or waxing lab where we make wax teeth. The ironic thing is that they take our teeth, grade them, and then throw our little pieces of art out so we can't sell them next year's class.

Our Biochem test was super easy compared to any test in Chem 481 at BYU. Let's hope it stays that way. Histology was tricky, but overall still not bad. I think I did end up spending a good 20 hours studying for it though. But it was our one midterm (block class) so that's not too bad.

No one was running for vice president when we were voting as a class, so I threw my name in and ran unopposed. So did the positions of secretary and treasurer. I thought it was odd. I would have thought that more people would have run if only to increase their chances of getting accepted into a specialty program. But then again, I'm not so sure that too many of my classmates want to specialize. I think everyone is just trying to make it through these 4 years. But, I am excited about being VP. I hope that I can help our classes and the classes that will come after. We had a advisory counsel lunch yesterday so it was nice to meet other student leaders.

So we've got 25 credit hours of class. It doesn't feel like it adds up as BYU credits though. There is very little reading this semester, which is really nice. The work load seems manageable. Classmates seem helpful and nice.

The most frustrating thing so far has been this "conflict of interest" policy the whole university has. Basically, we can't accept any free gifts from corporations. So, $50k a year, and no free Sonicare :-(.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I didn't know there was an alternative

I read a headline yesterday that said "Uninsured have 40% higher risk of dying."

That's it. Just a ridiculous statistic.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Life has been interesting. I still don't know what to make of it, so I am just going along with it. Maybe I will never know what to make of this period of my life.

Anyway, it is interesting because it is such a huge transition. After being out in Utah for a few years in undergrad, I finally had to take the next step of my life. In Provo I didn't keep the same friends the whole time, but transitions were gradual. Even when I moved to Alta, I moved with Barney and into an apartment where I knew most of the guys from the BC.

But this move was different. Surprisingly it hasn't been as hard as I expected. I haven't been as depressed as I thought I might be having to leave all of my friends. The new ward I've moved into is pretty nice. I've made friends with several people here and so that has been positive.

I find myself trying not to look back too much. I struggle with the tendency to be nostalgic, but I've tried to get over that during this transition. It is sad though, because I almost feel as though I have turned a corner and am giving the past over to the forces of mental entropy. I still want to be friends with those I've grown close to over the years, but I also recognize that there is a great physical distance between us and it feels as though that places certain limitations. Also, about half of the close friends I have out here are married. Even that difference in life situation sets up a bit of a barrier, at least in the pursuit of the type of friendship I feel like I am missing right now. So sometimes I feel alone. My close friends from years past are in Utah and have other lives to live. Many of my friends here have families that are very justifiably their first priority. So, I find myself longing for a friend here that I can confide in and just spend hours with. I need someone that I click with. But I've found in my life that one of those type of friends will come along every year or so. I can't hold my breath. But hopefully I will find a friend like that here.

That being said, there are some really great people here. Interestingly enough, moving away from Utah has also caused me to be more willing to get in contact with and maintain friendships with friends who had moved away from Utah earlier. I guess now that instead of facing the option of socializing with friends in town or out of town, they are all out of town. I don't know if that made sense.

Don't get me wrong, I am liking it here. It is exciting to be in a professional school. I was wearing my scrubs and white coat today and doing a rotation in the emergency clinic with the 4th year I am paired with, and when I was interacting with the patient it hit me that I am almost a dentist. People now treat me much more like a dentist. Especially because some of those I interact with don't know how far I am in school. So, it is exciting to feel more and more like a dentist. I feel kinda important as I walk to and from campus in my scrubs. Lame? Maybe, but oh well :).

This last weekend I spent about 12 hours putting all of my syllabuses into Google Calendar for myself (about 7 hours) and then modifying it for my class with their alternate schedules (the other 5 hours.) Then I sent it to everyone. I was surprised at how grateful people were. It made me feel good to help so many people, even if it does make me feel a little awkward getting all these "Thank you's" at school. I've toyed with the idea of running for Pres too, just because I've served in a lot of leadership positions like that and so I feel comfortable in that role. So, I would probably have a good chance, but I will still think about it.

Anyway, yeah. Life is kinda weird. I'm on my way to being a dentist, I'm making completely new friends, and I'm in a brand new place. I hope you all know that I miss you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dental School Orientation

Sometimes I read people's blogs, and I have a hard time getting through the posts. I get bored easily with some posts that are too travelogueish. So, I don't mind if you skip my posts that seem like that. But for some reason I've been thinking a bit lately about blogging as an act of giving back to the online community. I've searched a lot in the last few months to find people's experiences with PRK or starting dental school, and I've really appreciated those who have blogged about their experiences. So, you may notice a few posts that aren't intrinsically interesting, but are rather me trying to be of use to others.

This week has been orientation for the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. The first couple days were the official orientation, while today and tomorrow are just lectures by different specialists in the school showing you what they do. The first two days were pretty boring actually. However, it was nice to get to meet other people in my class. There are 4 other LDS guys, all of them married. So I think I am one of the only, if not the only, single LDS guy here at Pitt Dental.

The first two days included a lot of common sense stuff, campus safety, school policy, etc. Most of the powerpoints dragged, except for the IT guys. I almost couldn't keep up with that one. They were very efficient. But today was really cool. We had professors and a resident lecture on orthodontics, endodontics, oral surgery, pathology, and anesthesia. It was interesting that several of the specialists haven't touched a handpiece in decades. For example, the anesthesiologist, pathologist, and surgeon obviously don't treat cavities, even though they are dentists.

I've said in the past that I am not really planning on specializing. However, the lecture on oral and maxillofacial surgery was pretty amazing. After 4 years of dental school you either do a 4 year residency or a 6 year program that includes med school. But as an oral surgeon you can repair cleft palates, reconstructive trauma surgery, jaw surgery to correct facial geometry, and even cosmetic plastic surgery (not too much interest there). There were tons of slides showing surgeries with bone being excised, screws and plates putting broken pieces back together, and large areas of skin being pulled back to allow access to the skull. It would be a long road, but I think it would really cool. So, I'm not sure if I would really want to specialize, but today definitely piqued my interest. I'll keep my options open, and my grades up. If three years go by, I'm still single, I have the grades, and I feel like I can hack 5 or 7 more years of school, maybe I will look into oral surgery.

Other than the orientation, it has been pretty boring. I've been a loner out here. My two roommates are gone the rest of the weekm so I just hang out by myself, get online, or go biking and explore town. The class is having a party tomorrow night so I may drop by and see what non-BYU parties are like.

Anyway, life is pretty good. I just need to make some friends out here that aren't married* and want to hang out after school. I went to the Book of Mormon study group the sisters put on tonight. That was cool but there weren't many people there. I am going to call BINGO tomorrow for the rest home. Other than that, I don't have much planned.

* The Quinns and the Westovers are an exception to this statement. They are great. I've hung out with the Quinns a couple times and the Westovers had us all over for dinner for Cafe Rioesque Salads! Without reservation, Joseph and Lisa are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. They have been so welcoming to me. I love their family. Their little girls and one boy are adorable. I like going over there and playing with them. They will have to be my surrogate nieces and nephew while I am away from my four nephews in Utah. Anyway, I hope they take me up on my babysitting offer.

So, is this post as boring as I think it is? Be honest. It isn't really my style, but I dunno. Maybe people are into knowing what is going on in my life:).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gooo Georgia! I mean.. No...

I'm not really old enough to pull the "when I was a kid" card too often. But when I was a kid, 1460 was a downright respectable SAT score!

From the news:

Georgia's average score on the SAT college admissions exam fell for the third consecutive year, according to results released Aug. 25, 2009.

The state's results dropped by six points to 1,460.

From my mouth:
Kids these days. I guess 1600 just wasn't good enough for them.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I just found $1500 and I'm keeping it

Okay, so... not really. I mean, kinda. Effectively...

I just forgot that I had paid $1,500 deposit to Pitt Dental.

Forgetting about money and remembering it is awesome.

That's all.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I guess I never really blogged about this, but since I've read plenty of other people's experience online, I might as well add to the wealth of experiences.

I got PRK on my left eye which was -1.75. My right eye is 20/20, but not great (possibly because I cut the cornea with a knife as a kid). My left eye was 20/100. But since my right eye was good enough, I usually didn't wear glasses. So, this meant I just dealt with blurry vision out of one eye because I could get by.

Knowing that I wouldn't have the money to get the procedure in dental school, that Barney had gotten it done, and that if something bad happened to my eyesight in the procedure at least I hadn't taken any loans out for dental school yet and could switch career paths, I decided to get the procedure done before dental school. My surgery was on July 16. It was quick and painless. The day after was also painless. Days 2, 3, and 4 had some pain but nothing debilitating. It wasn't bad because I could close one eye and leave the other open. It would have been awful had I gotten both eyes done.

My vision was better the day of the surgery, and then a few days later started to get worse. I had some serious ghosting going on which is just when you see a double image because of the astigmatism formed as your eye's epithelium heals back. Although this was normal, I was a little worried because I had this ghosting until about 4 or 4.5 weeks after the surgery. It was annoying seeing multiple copies of text. In fact it was sometimes very difficult to read. It also was annoying to see bright lights in multiples. Most people online seemed only to have ghosting for 3ish weeks, although some had it a lot longer. Reading about people's experience online is a little scary because of who gets on. When I was having trouble with my vision I read forums for hours about PRK experiences. However, now that my vision is pretty good, I don't read them at all. So, basically, the people that are posting in forums about PRK are doing so because they are having issues with their vision after the procedure. It makes the online accounts of PRK and any other medical procedure very biased.

So, my vision really started clearing up after I stopped taking the Omipred (steroid drops). I'm not sure if there was a connection or if my eye just was healing. I think it still has a little bit of improvement yet to be realized because I can see a bit of ghosting still, but I can't complain. I am seeing better in my left eye than my right. So I'm getting 20/20, if not better. It's nice.

I didn't mention it, but I got my procedure at Hoopes Vision in Sandy, Utah. They have a lot of experience, the surgeons are rated in the top 10 by Forbes, and they have what seems to be a nice selection of equipment. However, I'm not completely wowed by them. I feel like they've dragged their feet a bit in setting up my comanaged care out here in Pittsburgh. They also are a little salesish with their pricing, but they did match the price of $1,725 for my eye when I mentioned I had a friend that got it done at that price. So, yeah, I would recommend them because I think they do a good job with the procedure which is what's important, but they are still a business so don't let them jerk you around. Overall, I'm really glad I got it done. It is nice to be able to see crisply and not worry about glasses or a contact being needed to see the board.

Anyway, if you have any questions, feel free to comment.

My life as of Aug 21 2009

So here I am, sitting in my room in Pittsburgh. I left Utah on August 8 to make the drive east. What a long drive! Since I left in the afternoon I only made it to North Platte, Nebraska. That first day's drive wasn't too bad. But it continues to amaze me how big this country is. In the paraphrased words of Robert Michael Jack, "This country's ... way too big!" I couldn't figure out how to work the bureaucratic system of signing in to the state park campsite, so I gave up and ended up sleeping in my car in the church parking lot. Sunday I made it to somewhere in western Indiana. I splurged and stayed the night in a hotel (queen bed was nice after a night in my driver's seat). Then Monday I came in to Marietta, PA. It was nice to finally be done with driving. But I was pleased with the fact that I did it in 3 days. I was also pleased with the fact that all of my possessions that I had out at college fit into my trunk and backseat. It rained so much the whole trip though. And I'm talking driving rain with some hail mixed in. Probably about 50% of the trip.

So, I spent a few days with my family in Marietta. One day Jon, my mom, and I went geocaching. It was a tricky find! I also went and biked on the trails that I grew up biking on. That was fun. It was amazing that they all seemed pretty much the same. I was kinda impressed with some of the crazy trails we went on. I also crashed and ended up "fixing" my wound with a bit of superglue. Another day I hung out with Mark Hershey, met his girlfriend, and ate dinner with his family. I also took a day and went up to NYC with Sharon, Anthony, Mary, and Barney. We saw Central Park, the Apple Store, Ground Zero, The Phantom of the Opera, Times Square, The Statue of Liberty from afar, and ate Pizza! It was a lot of fun, even if I was a fifth wheel. The next day the gang and I went to Hershey's Chocolate World which was also a fun touristy thing to do. My family also went over to the Kollers' and had dinner with homemade ice cream. Our family was old school and had a hand crank which outperformed their robot cranked one. We were done in half the time. Chalk another win up for humankind.

It was great hanging out with my family. Jonathan was doing well. He was about to start his new job. Benny is all grown up and commutes to Baltimore every week to work on a natural building project he has been hired for. Mom was commuting to Philly 4 times a week to work cataloging her plants at the museum. But being under the impression that my orientation started on August 20th from an email back in January, I took off on Monday to head to Pittsburgh.

I was disappointed to find out that the toll road from Pitt to Lancaster is 13 each way plus a 4 hour drive. Avoiding the toll adds another 50 minutes, but I guess it might be worth it. So I may not be dropping in on my fam as much as I anticipated, but it is a lot closer that Provo was.

So, I made it into Pittsburgh and spent the first couple days moving in. We live on this old cobblestone street a block away from the school. Which is pretty sweet considering most people live a 30 min commute away. It will be nice to save that commute time each day, get free wireless from the school, and be able to run home during the day.

I really like the house. It is an old brick house but it is big enough. It's got 4 rooms. For the first time in 6 years, I have my own room again! I put up a rod for my clothes, bought a cheap desk from IKEA (I almost typed it iKea... stupid Apple nomenclature). We've got a gas stove which I am excited about but still getting used to. It is weird to be able to switch burners instantly, turn off a burner and not have to worry about moving the pot, and just the sheer heat of the range. The political order of our kitchen is mainly free market with communized milk, spices, and baking needs. I've suggested 304's rule of eminent domain as well. I've also used the African items Sarah gave me to decorate the place.

My roommates are awesome. Brandon moved out yesterday so I only met him once. Aaron works at a bank and always comes with stories about banks getting hit or cased. He's great. He gets together with some of the guys in the church locally and convert the upper level of the building minus the chapel into a blood bath of NERFdom. Basically they have all these NERF guns and play capture the flag or other games. They turn out the lights, set up a blacklight, and set up barricades. You respawn in the lobbies if you were curious. They've even modified some of the guns to give more punch. Mike told me that on the electronic guns they just remove the resisters to kick up the power. Interesting. So that is what we ended up doing on Tuesday night towards the latter end of game night which happened instead of institute.

Sean's great too. He's a third year at Pitt Dental. He's been dating a girl in Provo who is now moving out next week so that will be cool for him. Sean's the ward mission leader and so he's really active with the missionaries and meeting people getting active again or who are checking out the church. I almost wrote investigator but I still am not comfortable with that word being used in conjunction with the church.

But anyway, these guys are great. They are both neat, wash their dishes, are really sharing, and are willing to help you. Sean helped me get a bed and get my room set up. He also volunteers at an old folks home (what is the PC term for that?) each week on bingo night, so Aaron and I went with him last night. It was a blast! The seniors were great. They were ribbing each other and joking around. They really liked us coming and told Sean to "Bring the boys back next week!" I need to find some places to volunteer out here.

Yesterday I tried to go for a bike ride. I got to the bottom of the street, realized my GPS wasn't working so I wanted to try other headphones. I biked back of the very steep hill, switched headphones and then went back down. After a short jaunt on the cobblestone with my road bike I tried to hop the curb, crashed, and wacked my wheel out of true. So I walked back up the hill, got in my car, and went to the local bike shop. But I am pretty excited that there are mountain biking trails in a couple of the city parks. I think I am gonna check them out today!

Other than that I haven't been up to much. I read the interesting Wikipedia article on Aldi Foods. I'm not sure why, but I found it really fascinating. I think that is exactly how I would set up a grocery chain. So streamline and efficient. I've also been researching how to set up a Linksys router as a repeater to boost my school's WiFi signal. I ordered one online that has dd-wrt installed. It should be interesting if I can get it to work. I'm a little skeptical because it uses WPA2 Enterprise. We'll see. I was going to get cable internet, but you really can't beat free internet. Right now it is in and out because the signal is weak.

So, that's about it. Sorry it is a boring post. If you are in the Pittsburgh area and would like to come to my White Coat Ceremony, it is Aug 31 at 3pm in the Scaife Hall Auditorium 6 at Pitt.

I'm really excited to be out here. I miss my friends. But I am excited to make friends out here and start on the road to being a dentist!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Addendum to my story

I keep learning new details to the previously shared story. One detail is that he was not barefoot, but instead had left his shoes because he was wearing Aaron's sneakers. The second detail is that he was also wearing Aaron's scout shirt. I love that last detail.

Discussing this with Aaron today, he hypothesized that it was more of a Goldilocks type of experience in which the intruder may have slept on multiple beds and may have tried multiple temperatures of food (hence the slow cooker).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


This was on IKEA's website in reference to a particle board desk:

Renewable material (wood).
Possible to separate for material or energy recovery.

So basically it should read:

Trees will grow back, if we plant them.
In a post apocalyptic world you could probably burn this in a barrel, ignore the glue fumes, and huddle around it for some warmth.

Pittsburgh's way of handling problems

I was driving on 376 yesterday on my way to Aldi's and I drove under this bridge. The bridge had these big concrete spanning support arches underneath. But the arches were wrapped in this heavy-duty netting. Upon further inspection I noticed that there were big chunks of concrete that had fallen off and were caught from falling on the road by the netting. It seems as though the netting wasn't good enough, or perhaps they were just being cautious, because they also threw up some 20 ft high concrete pillars and a roof on those pillars which now protects the roadway from falling concrete.

I'm not sure which scares me more, the idea of raining concrete on your highway drive, the fact that Pittsburgh's solution to falling concrete was to catch it with a net and then build a roof over the road, or that there is a bridge falling apart above 376.

Story about the new place

I just moved to Pittsburgh, which I plan on talking about more in the next post. But for now this story will suffice. I just moved in with a couple LDS guys. One is a dental student, the other works at a bank, which apparently gets held up more often that one would expect. In fact, just yesterday another branch got held up or possibly taken over? Not sure. There is also an LDS guy named Brandon who is only here every few weeks for a couple nights since he lives in D.C. and is just finished a PhD program at CMU.

The house is not in a particularly bad part of town, but not in the nicest part of town either. Just a street with some rundown older houses. It is a block away from the dental school though, so that should be nice. I moved in Monday and here is the first story I was told about the place.

Aaron, the teller (of the bank, not the story), came home one evening. He walked into the kitchen and saw the kitchen in a mess. Food was out everywhere. He probably thought Sean was cooking up some odd concoction. Anyway, he turns around to leave the kitchen and sees a man who had just emerged from the first floor bedroom (mine now).

Aaron yells "Hey! What are you doing here?!"

The man says, "Look, alright, I'm leaving."

That response wasn't good enough for Aaron, who immediately starts running after him. The man heads for the door, gets out, and is chased to the end of the block by Aaron.

Apparently the guy didn't take anything. In fact, Aaron looked through his safe where he keeps books, not valuables, and found a $20 that he said wasn't there before.

How things seemed to have played out are thus. There is a "For Rent" sign on the front of our house (I think the landlord was trying to rent it out at a higher rate since Sean wasn't sure if he was going to stay here). The man, who must have been homeless, may have thought no one was living in the house. Since there are bars on the first floor windows in the side and on the back, the man must have climbed up the bars and sneaked in the bathroom window which was left open. Upon entering the house and leaving $20 for Aaron (?) the intruder must have been hungry. So he went downstairs and ate some food. Oddly enough, he seemed to be in no hurry. In fact, at the time he was chased out he was using the slow cooker to steam frozen broccoli.

Perhaps while waiting for the slow cooker, he decided he would take a nap. He took off his shoes (which were left in the house and stunk, supporting my hobo theory) and went to sleep on a mattress in what is now my room. Then he must have been awakened by Aaron coming home, just in time to be chased up the street barefoot.

Oh, and he may also have changed his underwear before his nap. Brandon, who was sleeping in that room when he was in town, called Sean a couple weeks later. He asked Sean about some briefs he found in his laundry that weren't his. He thought maybe they were Aaron's. At this point Sean tells Brandon about the intruder.

So, if you see a shoeless, homeless person with a hankering for slow-cooked broccoli who's wearing Brandon's underwear, please contact us.

Free money

This post isn't about multilevel marketing, although that does remind me of a thought I had once. Wouldn't it be tragic if the cure for cancer was discovered, but by a multilevel marketing company out in Utah that made superfruit drinks and they patented it before anyone else? I guess it would be the classic case of the boy who cried wolf... or I guess the company that cried miracle drink.

Anyway, yesterday I was thinking in my head over finances to make sure I had enough to pay next month's rent, this month's utilities, and pay off my credit card. I will, but it might be a little tight since I won't get my loan disbursement until mid September. I even ended up putting most of my cart back on the shelves yesyerday when I remembered that Aldi's doesn't take credit cards. Which, by the way, is a lot more difficult than shopping. (PS. Sharon and Ant, have you guys shopped at Aldi's? It is like Costco but not in bulk. There is one near your place!)

But yesterday I got a statement reminder from my one checking account that I don't use anymore. I usually just archive the emails, but I thought for some reason that I should just make sure nothing was charged to my credit card from the same bank which I also don't use anymore. So I logged in and to my surprise I had $220 in my checking account! It was really awesome for the first 10 minutes where I couldn't remember where this money came from. Then it was only kinda awesome when I remembered depositing that money back in June.

But still, I would wholeheartedly recommend depositing a sum of money, forgetting about it, and then remembering it when you need it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Environmentally friendly?

This was on IKEA's website in reference to a particle board desk:

Renewable material (wood).
Possible to separate for material or energy recovery.

So basically it should read:

Trees will grow back, if we plant them.
In a post apocalyptic world you could probably burn this in a barrel and huddle around it for some warmth.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Last Man on Earth

Last night my mom and I watched a movie from 1964 on Hulu called The Last Man on Earth. It was the first movie adaption of the book "I Am Legend." It was old, it was corny, but I liked it. It is about a plague that overcomes the world and kills everyone except Robert Morgan. The people who are killed come back to life as vampires, and Robert Morgan takes it on as his duty to rid the city of these vampires. The best part of watching the movie was not actually part of the movie, but rather a commercial in the middle of the movie about Coca-Cola that started with the line "Nothing brings you back to life like a Coca-Cola!" It couldn't have been better.

*Spoilers ahead - If you have time, I suggest you watch the movie and come back to read:)*

I liked the movie however because it pulls a 180 on you at the end and shows you that understanding is often context dependent. Throughout the whole movie you are behind Robert as the protagonist. He is all alone and you root for him as day by day he stakes vampires in the chest. Then towards the end he comes in contact with a woman and then a group of people who are still alive but have kept the disease at bay through a constant injection of a vaccine. They are also trying to kill the vampires with the goal to rebuild society. The woman Robert meets tells him that he is a murderer to them. In his zealous quest he has inadvertently killed members of this society who are not vampires. She says, "You're a legend." He cures her with his blood which has immunity, but before she can contact the others and tell them not to follow through with the planned attack on Robert, they come. They chase Robert into a church, throw a spear through his heart, and watch as he dies. But before he dies he yells at them saying, "Freaks, you're all freaks! I am the last man on earth!"

Then you hear a child cry and the woman says something to the effect of, "Don't worry, you don't have to be afraid anymore." So, in the matter of a few minutes, the main character falls from being a protagonist to a very gray fate. And then the movie ends with you not knowing who is good, who is bad, and who you were supposed to be rooting for the whole time.

So I find it interesting how a situation can look so clear, only to reveal in time to be very ambiguous. Sometimes even the opposite ends up being true. From one perspective Robert was being assailed by these monstrous vampires, but from another perspective, he was the monster. He indiscriminately killed anything in his way. Overall the movie left me with a very unsettling feeling of uncertainty. I liked it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I'm gonna blog soon. Seriously. In fact, I want to chronicle the beginning of dental school. I hope it won't bore you.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Be an activist for a day

And throw your shoulder to the cause of eliminating one of my biggest pet peeves.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And it is Karianne and Anthony in the final showdown!

Bracket is updated here.

And since I waited so long for the semifinals, I will make up for it by sending the final email right now! It should be interesting since both are online and in Gmail.

Awkward conversation with an old roommate

After noticing my old roommate from a year and a half ago in the grocery store...

Me: Hey! How's it going?

Him: Good, I guess...

Me: You guess?

Him: Yeah. What are you up to?

Me: Oh just about to leave this city.

Him: Yeah, me too I think. My brother has a job for me in New York.

Me: Oh really? Did you graduate already?

Him: No, I pretty much flunked out.

Me: Oh... What job is this?

Him: McDonalds...

Friday, July 24, 2009


Bracket's updated.

Check it out here.

You should also check out the prediction leaderboard. :-)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Round One Completed!

Check the bracket!

Great first round guys :-).

In other news, I am competing in a Wii Sports tournament at work... I hope I win! The prize is a Wii! Too bad I am terrible at Wii Sports. If only they had Wii running...

Oh and btw, the most creative response and therefore the style points for responding go to Shannon with:

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair
If Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair
He wasn't very fuzzy, was he?

Runner up was Carianne with:

Oooga booga

Watch your inboxes!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

World Series of Competitive Emailing

Hopefully ESPN will pick up on this, cause this sport is going to be hot!

Anyway, the idea is simple. This is perhaps why Competitive Emailing has been heralded as "The sport of sports" and "The purest of all competitions, measuring little more than pure technological talent."

An email is sent to the two opposing competitors.
The first one to respond advances.

So, the emails will start sometime tomorrow. In the meantime, here is the bracket:

The Nerdiest of All

It is single elimination with a randomized seed. I've also included bios for all contenders. This will be crucial in creating your own prediction brackets.

The emails will be sent from my email address to yours. Unless I hear from you sometime today, I will be using your last known email. So, email me your competitive email addresses, carbo load, and get psyched!

Also, as seems to be the trend in this world with office pools, fantasy sports leagues, and market futures, there is an important sideshow in speculation. So, regardless of whether you are competing or not, you can sign up for an account with bracketmaker and create your own predicted results. The site seems alright, just a few ads. Make sure you make yours today before the tournament starts.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Competition

I am going to be having a competition on this blog. It will be simple, that is all I will tell you for now. But if you want to participate in this tournament, leave a comment.

Really, I promise you it will take only a few seconds to compete. So sign up.

This Blogpost is about Nothing

Agh! I know I've had thoughts that I wanted to post but have just put it off until they disappear. Maybe I will just ramble.

The Army emailed me yesterday and I have to admit, doing the military thing for dentistry is really tempting at times. Especially with the whole 20k bonus thing. Agh! I don't think I will do it though. But man, is it tempting. I guess the main deterrent is the possibility of a year long deployment. But still, so tempting.

I am trying to decide whether to get PRK or LASIK or not. I think I am going to go forward and get PRK. Man, too many decisions in my life.

I leave for dental school in a month. At least, that is the plan now. Orientation starts on Aug 20 and so I think I am going to leave on Aug 10. Will that give me enough time to drive across country and spend a couple days in Chicago with my friend? Sheesh, this is a huge change! I don't know how I feel about it. Part of me is really exciting to take the next step in my life and actually be studying dentistry. The other part is scared and sad to leave my comfortable life here. But, it will be good to be back in Pennsylvania. There are tons of nice LDS dental students out there. They are mostly all married though so I know I'm not gonna be hanging out with most of them on the weekends.

But yeah, I am moving to Pittsburgh, and I looked at a lot of places further out from the school which were quieter and nice areas. This was more preparing for the possibility of if I moved out there married. But, I won't be, and so instead I am living with a 3rd year dental student named Sean. And to be honest, it isn't the nicest neighborhood. The street is a little run down, but the rent is right, Sean seems cool, and it is 1 block away from the school. So, I am excited for it. I am excited for the prospect of a new place, a new ward, a new experience.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Times, New Sayings?

It occurred to me today that there are a few maxims that may need a bit of updating in light of inflation and the current economy:

A penny saved is a penny earned.

_____ are a dime a dozen.

Suggestions? I thought of:

A penny saved is worthless because it doesn't buy you anything anymore.


______ are 46 cents a dozen (adjusted for inflation and the general worth of money using a very vague estimate on the origination date of this saying).

Letting go...

Tears my heart out, but I'm finally growing up and letting go. You can find these puppies on KSL.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Loophole

I love how you can ask for a taste of a meat at the supermarket and they don't charge you for it! I have often been tempted to ask for a sample when I get my Jenni-o Cracked Pepper Turkey, even though that is what I get every time now. I can still have my sample right? Theoretically they could change their... recipe or something right?

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Puny plastic pellets pierce the peace.
Painful plaintive pleas preside as people point precise at passive parties.

My War Against Booters and Towers

Let me start off and say I have nothing against the SWKT, Sears tower, or WTC. I'm talking about towing, like University Towing. Blech.

I look upon the business of towing, at least how it is run in Provo, as though the concept of a parasite was embodied in professional form. I think what bothers me most is that they are paid on commission.

I've actually only got booted once but I still have a strong disdain of a profession that preys upon college students, especially when they are being booted in a parking lot like Alta's which I have never seen wanting for space.

Every time I see someone being booted or towed, I wish that I could recognize the car and alert the owners. Oddly enough, this is driven just as much by a desire to foil the booters as it is to look out for my fellow student.

So after thinking long and hard I've decided that there are only two main courses of action that I can take to fight back. First, I avoid at all costs any situations that may result in me being booted and therefore supporting the nefarious profession. Second, I've been backing my car into parking spaces at Alta for the last couple weeks.

If you've ever seen University Towing and their self-righteous Jeep trolling your parking lot, you'll notice that they have a spotlight that they shine at the back window of cars as slowly drive by. They are looking for your parking sticker. Now, they may dictate where we affix this sticker, but they cannot dictate the orientation of our parking. So I back in. Not only does this allow me a nice pullout in the morning, but it also prevents or makes it more difficult for them to be able to see my sticker since it is backed up against the building or against the concrete wall. I think to truly be able to see my sticker, they would have to get out of the car and walk to the back.

So, that is it. That is how I do my part to make their job just a little harder. I should probably end this post, because all the while writing it I have thought of more drastic moves to drain their resources such as, leaving my car in another lot where it would get towed and then hiding out in the bushes until they call the tow truck and are about to hook up your car. Then I could hop out and drive off since it is illegal for them to charge you anything if they have not physically connected something to your car by the time you arrive. Or I could get one of those car covers and put it on each night insisting that it was to protect my car. K, stopping.

Anyway, you should join the rebellion.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I do not now, nor do I ever plan to know what a "buko" buck is and how it compares to just a normal buck.

I'm also considering about buying $5,000 of dollar coins from the US Mint on my credit card, receiving the reward points for said transaction, and then paying off my credit card bill in 5,000 dollar coins.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Old Man and the Earthworm

An old man was walking on campus as the students scrambled from building to building during their first reading day. It was raining outside and the old man was stooped over. He picked up a slimy worm from off the sidewalk and through it onto the grass next to the Tree of Life statue. He stooped over again, found another worm, picked it up, and chucked it into the grass.

A young cynical philosophy student running to his car after attending his final review noticed the old man and stopped.

"Hey, what do you think you are doing?" the educated but hardened student asked.

"Just saving the earthworms," the old man replied.

"Hah! You'll never save them all. Look at them! There are too many. You'll never make a difference. It doesn't matter!" The student's remarks dripped with pessimism.

The old man straightened up, looked the student in the eye, and then threw another earthworm onto the grass. "It mattered to that one," he said in a hushed voice.

At that very moment, an engineering student was 4 minutes late to his review session. He cut across the grass adjacent to the old man and the cynical philosophy student. The very grass, incidentally, that had evolved and developed a higher form of intelligence that included communicative powers and the ability to make small lawn signs that conveyed their desire to grow undisturbed by the inconsiderate students of BYU. Just as the old man stooped down to pick up another worm, the engineering student's footfall dealt a crushing blow to the old man's most recent assertion. The student's foot planted down on the most recently thrown earthworm, inflicting a mortal wound. It did not, in fact, matter to that one, at least not in any positive way.

"Hah!" the cynical student said again as the rain picked up and he continued to run towards his car. The old man shook his head, stooped down to pick up another worm, and resolved to stay outside a few more hours rescuing earthworms.

As the philosophy student studied that night, he was unable to make out crucial portions of his rain soaked review notes. Two days later he would fail his philosophy final and flunk out of school, the old man would die of pneumonia, and the engineering student would be just as oblivious as he was two days ago that he had any part to play in the death of an old man and an earthworm.

Dear Credit Card Thief

I appreciate the collagen facial serum you ordered for me. Are my wrinkles really starting to show? Regrettably the collagen capsules are on backorder. I have not gotten the ridiculously overpriced grant resources guide you ordered yet.

I'm sorry you were only able to spend $90 before I canceled my card. Perhaps next time you should at least order $90 of things and send it to your house rather than to mine. At least then you would have proper skincare supplements. You never know, maybe you would even be able to give up your scams if you used the grant resource guide?

Anyway, thank you again for the skincare products. Feel free to come over if you need some. You have my address.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring Festival of Nations - 1RB Israeli Dance

This is what you missed the other day, if in fact you missed it. If you didn't, this is what you saw.

Thanks for filming this Karianne!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Surprisingly, seeing me dance like an Israeli will only cost you $2

That's right. If you want to hear me yelling about my gramps while throwing girls up in the air like an Israeli, you should come to the Wilk ballroom on April 1 at 8pm (7:30 if you want to hear the folk music group). It's the Spring Festival of Nations Folk Dance concert. It's $2.

This is no joke.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why I'm Smiling

On Tuesday Dr. Seligman spoke at the devotional about positive psychology, or focusing on how to help people life fulfilling lives rather than just focusing on how to solve psychological ills. He challenged us to write 3 good things that happened that day every night. So I've done it, and perhaps as a result I've been in a really positive mood. Here are some things that currently make me happy.
  • I just figured out why my blog compositions were displaying in HTML.
  • I'm doing some really exciting research on down syndrome, gene expression, and possible regulatory pathways that lead to craniofacial defects using mice that have been engineered to have down syndrome.
  • I had a really enjoyable conversation with my roommate Josh last night.
  • I overcame my fear (with help from Ben Murphy) and played a song at the open mic at Becky's party last night. Ben was a great encouragement. Thanks man!
  • I just sneezed like 5 times and I liked it.
  • I was productive today and got some good work done.
  • Biochemistry is a great class and despite studying 12 hours for this weeks test, I really enjoyed it. I think I did well.
  • I talked to Patrick today who is at the ASDA (American Student Dental Association) conference. He told me that next year's conference is in Pitt and he will be going. Woot woot!
  • We have our folk dance performance on Wednesday and we finished the dance. Although I have blisters on both big toes and I injured my partner Friday, I am still excited to perform. Hi Bethany!
  • My road bike and mountain bike are in good shape.
  • It is spring.
  • My friends are amazing.
  • In 3.5 weeks I will be a graduate!
  • The sunshine shooters rocked their game on Thursday. Yeah Shooters!
  • I only have two finals!
  • I love assisting at the dental clinic. This week was fun. I felt very useful taking x-rays.
  • Adam and I rocked out on Guitar Hero this week.
I don't know if I'm just trying to be more positive or not, but I have a lot to be thankful for.

Confidence in Marriage

I've thought a fair amount lately about dating, marriage, and statistics. Here are the hypotheses I am working off of:

Null Hypothesis: The person you are dating is not who you should marry.
Alternative Hypothesis: The person you are dating is who you should marry.

I guess I've decided that since I do not believe there is one and only one soulmate out there for me, Type II errors shouldn't be too concerning. Or at least as concerning as Type I errors should be.

So, Type I errors are bad, but where do I set my level of confidence? 95%? 99%? I'm not sure. But should I set it too high, I'll never get married. The higher I set alpha, the more likely I am to commit Type II errors.

So what do you do? I don't know. The odd thing is that despite these conclusions, I often am not very concerned about Type I errors, while the tragic feeling of committing a Type II error scares me a lot more. Perhaps I trust my judgment more than I should? Maybe I should be more afraid of Type I errors. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Life Goal #47

I just realized one of my life goals is to be on a ship or boat when the cry "All hands on deck!" is given. I bet you could use that story in so many Sunday school lessons.

Things I've Lost

Of late, I've been losing things.

I've lost:
My winter coat

I'm losing:
My motivation to finish the last few weeks of school
My sanity because of this Biochem test

Monday, March 23, 2009

The problem with songs

The problem with getting your advice from songs is that they all tell you to do different things. Basically, there is a song for every choice in every possible romantic scenario.

Perhaps songs are only good for affirmation once a path has been chosen. If so, it is important to organize your songs in playlists with corresponding messages. That way you don't just choose decision X, listen to a song that says that X was the only way to go, and then have the next random song come on and talk about decision Y and how it is so good you didn't choose X.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Media

I've long heard that the media is biased. I'm not talking about a liberal/conservative bias here, but a bias towards just reporting the negative. I never put much thought to this until I stumbled upon irrefutable proof that this is indeed the case.

With the current economy, we see lots of pictures of depressed stock traders from the NYSE that we worry about jumping out of a window the minute after the picture was taken. But do we ever see happy stock traders when the market rallies? No. I've never seen a picture of Joe Schmoe on the stock market with a big grin on his face about to click his heels cause the market just rallied 300 points.

Well, in an effort to stem the tide of negativity, I have tried to undo the wrong Time has done (they actually have a gallery of depressed traders). Here is a picture of some guy that just made a lot of money during last week's rally.

See that smirk? He just made out like a bandit. (This picture is really just a depressed trader with his frown turned upside down like the song says, but assuming this guy didn't jump out any windows after the original picture was taken, and that the DJIA is roughly representative of his portfolio, he was probably smiling during last week's rally).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Band

I'm thinking very seriously about dropping it all right now and getting the band back together before we all part ways and graduate.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

If you will...

My teacher just made an announcement about recommending a professor for some reward. He was explaining how even if that professor doesn't get selected, the recommendation stays on file. He said, "So these things have a cumulative effect, if you will."

It was at that moment that I realized that I had no clue what that phrase means, "If you will." It isn't like I would stand up and say, "I won't! I just can't!" Really, what does it mean?

I think it is interesting that we have certain little phrases that don't really mean anything, but we still use them as filler phrases. Sometimes it seems to make our language unique. Other times they just seem like baggage. And yet at other times they make me want to write blog posts.

Boss Shirt, Boss!

So I have this obsession, this informational addiction. I think a lot of us have it actually. Sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night, reach over and unlock my phone just to see if I have any emails. I don't like it. But many times one of the first things I do in a day is catch up on Google Reader. This addiction, which I think many of you probably have as well (perhaps even leading you to reading this very post), has lead me to eliminate some unnecessary clutter from my informational intake (Twitter, Lifehacker feed, Woot feed, etc.) Anyway, that is the topic of another post, but needless to say one of the first things I did this morning at breakfast was check my RSS Feeds, and then since I unsubscribed to Woot and Shirt.Woot, I checked

As many of you know that is where I have gotten about a third of my t-shirts. You know, the squid in the bucket, the birds threatening to peck each other's face off, the dragon disguised as a restaurant called The Stuffed Dragon with people walking in through his mouth covered by a brick facade. So, anyway, in today's description they mentioned a secret passphrase. So I clicked on the link and discovered that there is indeed a secret passphrase which one woot shirt wearer is to say to another woot shirt wearer during chance encounters. The first woot shirt wearer says to the second, "Boss Shirt, Boss!" to which the second replies, "I know."

I thought that was pretty neat. So I started off to school wearing my Squid in Bucket woot shirt and the whole way was thinking about it. I thought about how once I did actually see someone with a shirt that I also had from woot shirt. If only I had known then! Oh well. I figured I would never get to use the phrase. Despite that sad realization, I did practice it a couple times to get the enunciation and phrasing right just in case I ever did get to use it. It is actually a little difficult to emphasize when "boss" is used as an adjective and when as a title. Anyway, I went to school just hoping someday I would have the chance to use that phrase.

One hour later, coming out of my Biochem class, I see him. He is wearing the woot shirt with the birds that are gonna peck each other's face off. Coincidentally that was the shirt I wore yesterday. So I went for it. I mustered up my courage, tapped the guy on the arm amidst the cloud of people rushing to get to their next class and said, "Boss shirt, Boss!" He said "Thanks..." and looked at me a little confused. So I explained everything to him.

Moral of the story? Be careful what you wish for because if it involves saying an obscure passphrase to a stranger just because you bought your shirts from the same internet vendor, you might just get a "Thanks..." and a strange look.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Prions and Tigers and... No, just prions

Prions are scary, really scary. They are the responsible agent for Creutzfeld Jakob's disease and Mad Cow Disease. Shawna and I were finishing a quiz for Biochem and one of the questions asked about prions, so we did a little research that freaked me out.

Almost without exception, infectious diseases come from viruses, bacteria, fungi, something with genetic material to reproduce itself. And for the most part, life has come up with defense mechanisms against these agents. Prions are different.

So, a bit of background. Proteins are pretty important. They make up most of our body. They are catalytic proteins (enzymes), signaling proteins (hormones), structural proteins, and more. DNA codes for proteins. Proteins are sequences of amino acids. Some proteins are long, some short. But longer ones fold into characteristic shapes, or conformations, based on the sequence of amino acids and their properties. Some amino acids attract each other, others repel, some are hydrophobic, some hydrophilic. The shape or conformation of a protein is crucial to its purpose. Basically, shapes are really important on a molecular level. Our body is kinda like a complex baby's toy where you fit the right block and right whole. Proteins can lose their shape because of pH or heat or other agents. In fact, when you cook eggs, the change is the denaturation of the proteins, or the proteins losing their fold. When you cook meat, you guessed it, also denaturation.

Okay, enough background. In the case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other prion diseases, there is a protein that is normally found in your body called PrP. Its purpose is not known, but it may be useful in memory. Then comes along a prion. This prion is also a protein. In fact it is the same sequence of amino acids as PrP, so sequentially it is identical. But remember how shape is a pretty big deal to proteins? Well, this prion is the same protein, misfolded. And this misfolded prion interacts with folded PrPs and gets them to misfold too. And now those get more to misfold. This wouldn't be too big of a deal, except for the fact that these proteins, now misfolded, create a new structure in your body. They fit together like legos to form what are called beta sheets, specifically in this case amyloid folds. These structures form in your brain and keep growing as more and more prions are induced. These aggregations of prions are especially compact and stable and form ever-growing scars in your brain. Then you go crazy. And die. Always.

There is no cure. There is no treatment. You can't kill them, because they are not alive. UV light does nothing (it usually kills stuff by mutating the DNA) because they have no genetic material. It can't be broken down by your bodies proteases (enzymes that break down proteins). In fact, it is very hard to denature or unfold them as well.

So... yeah. Prions...

Emergencies never tasted so sweet

My apartment is one of continual inhabitance. Meaning, people come, people go, but it hasn't seen a full turnover in a long time. Which is why we have a random 50lb bag of oatmeal in our storage closet, why we have games whose owner is unknown, and why our dishes consist of selections from the 10 worst and most impractical styles (the This-Dish-Gets-Hotter-Than-Your-Food-When-You-Microwave-It set, the We-Don't-Trust-You-To-Separate-Your-Own-Food-From-Mixing-Together-So-We-Come-With-Obnoxious-Food-Levies set, and the Nothing-But-Tiny-Worthless-Plates-That-Won't-Hold-Anything-But-You'll-Still-Have-Them-In-Your-Cupboard-For-Years-And-Even-Use-Them-When-Everyone-Else-Uses-The-Practical-Plates collection). So, there are items around the place that I just assume belong to my roommates, without realizing that they assume the items belong to me.

At the beginning of this school year we did a bit of purging. After everyone but Josh and I moved out, we realized the apartment was still full of things. I started to get suspicious that everything I assumed belonged to the other guys couldn't possibly all belong to Josh. So we cleaned.

And despite a few costly mistakes such as throwing away any pots that hold practical amounts of liquids and only keeping those suitable for cooking for a half a person or 20 people, we did score some wins. One of which was the mystery emergency kit!

In the storage room we found a box of food, good food. Well... maybe "edible" would be a more suitable adjective. But anyway, there were snicker bars, granola bars, ramen, fruit snacks, and more. Josh wasn't sure who it belonged to, so we partook as a newly formed apartment. You know how they say that going through an emergency together can be a real bonding experience? Well, apparently so is going through an emergency kit.

I'm sure I wasn't the only one that thought that rotating our food storage minus the replenishing part wasn't necessarily logical, but I was able to suppress that thought, and we ate on. I don't think it even lasted 72 hours, talk about false advertising. Perhaps our logic was based on the fact that we didn't know how much longer this kit would last, or the fact that its existence represented the hard work of none of us and the benefit of us all, or the fact that BYU already has 72 hours of supplies for us and that eating well now seemed more pleasant than 72 more miserable hours in a post-nuclear apocalypse. I'm not quite sure.

But just as the sweet memories of ill-treated and deformed snickers bars were fading from my memory, the Pheonix 72-hour kit rises from the ashes to rear its sweetness once again. The other day there were 3 multi-packs of 100% juice boxes that randomly appeared under our elevated couch (may I point out that this miraculous event alone is reason enough for our couch to be on cement blocks for all of you that ask. Can you imagine juice boxes appearing under a normally-elevated couch? What a mess!). They marinated there for a few days until I finally asked Josh, "What is the meaning of this?" All he had to say was "Emergency Kit" and I could already taste the fruits of disaster running down my throat.

So. If you want some juice boxes of Grape, Apple, or Fruit Punch, come join the festivities. But hurry! I think there are only a few of the 72 hours left.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

A phylogenetic analysis of the wheelbarrow and shopping cart

Last week we had our ward break-the-ice activity.
We had unconventional tools.
I decided the wheelbarrow and the shopping cart weren't too different after all. Probably like distant cousins or something.

But I don't think the new kind of shopping cart arose from natural selection for its ice-carrying ability.
Here is a picture of two ice babies. Or should I just say Ice-Ice-Baby.
I also wondered the following question. Why is stealing wrong, except when it is digital media or shopping carts?

P.S. I was not the thief that stole those carts. I do not know the thief, nor do I condone in any way the theft of shopping carts. I think it is a very narcissistic idea to suppose that as a college student one is that important of a customer to in any way justify the theft of a shopping cart.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Come one, Come all, Come-dy of Errors

Tomorrow, or today, depending on when you are reading this, on Monday we will be having a Shakespeare reading in Apt 304. We will be reading A Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare (duh). We will start at 3pm and have some dinner too. So come over, get ready to read dramatically, bring some bucks for Papa Murphy's pizza, and bring a laptop or a copy of the play if you have it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

View on University Avenue Last Night at Midnight

I don't think there is anything that I can say to explain this.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself

Last semester I took Computational Biology. The class included a final project. I'm not a fan of projects, especially open-ended ones dealing with subject matter I am unfamiliar with. This project fit the bill. I worried for weeks about what I was going to do. I fretted over my lack of research experience, after all, everyone else in the class seemed to have worked for a biotech company last year. I worried about deciding to do a project for someone but then having them expect things beyond my ability. Once I finally decided on a topic, dread lingered in the air. I didn't know how long it would take, if it would be good enough, if I was in over my head, if it'd be too easy. And then I did it.

It took me a few weeks and some long days, but I got it done and got a good grade. I wouldn't say the experience was something I would scrapbook or click my heels and think about. But it didn't kill me and life went on. When I think back on the experience, I still feel a little stress. But it isn't from how hard the project was or how long it took. It is stress from worrying about it.

If stress had units and I could measure it, I'm sure I suffered 2 times more from dreading the project than executing it.

Over a year ago a girl I was dating me broke up with me, not because of any problems we'd had together, but problems that she could foresee. Or at least she thought she foresaw. Life went on, I moved on, but it still seemed like a somewhat senseless, preemptive strike into thin air.

The play of life was written with Fear as a supporting character. It has a bit part that sometimes shapes the action. But too often we let Fear rush the stage in a fitful power-grab. He rewrites the plot and stars in his new show. He creates problems where there were none, conflict where there was peace, imbalance where there was balance. And we usually play the part he's written for us without asking questions.

The Beginning of the End

I'm publicly declaring my love for chemistry and biology. I love how ordered and logical they are, yet applied and not abstract like math. I think it is perfect balance. They feel so consistent, and when they are inconsistent, at least it feels consistently inconsistent.

I'm taking Biochem this semester and am actually excited about it. In fact, I am excited by most of my classes. Disregard the fact that I have stayed completely awake in only one of the four I have attended so far. I'm taking Bioinformatics (the class) which I am not so excited about. But everything else should be great. I have Stats 221 online which won't be bad since Stats 331 last semester probably prepared me a fair amount. I also have Doctrine and Covenants with Brother Esplin, about whom I've heard good things. Then I have Anthropology films which consists of a movie a week which sounds cool. I've also got the Honors' Lecture Series which usually is interesting. And tonight I am trying out for Folk Dance.

So that's it, my last semester has begun.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dear "Neighbors" at Money Mailer LLC.,

Today I braved the winter cold to check my mail. I found this in my mailbox:

Let me introduce myself since you obviously do not know my name as evidenced by the fact that this envelope is addressed "TO OUR NEIGHBORS AT." My name is Gabe and I see through your smokescreen. I would have felt more comfortable if you had called a spade a spade and addressed the envelope "TO ANYONE WHO LIVES, BREATHES, AND HAS MONEY AT." Instead you have chosen to disguise yourself as my "neighbor," no doubt hoping to evoke memories of Mister Rogers or neighbors who actually care about me. But no, you are one of those neighbors who doesn't know my name and just comes over when you need something, in this case, my money. I bet you don't even live in Alta Apartments.

Now that I have introduced myself, I would like to take issue with the bold claim made on the front of your mailer, the one that says "Like Getting Money In Your Mailbox." I noticed you needlessly trademarked this phrase. I say needlessly because unless a company was actually sending money to random persons' mailboxes (doubtful), I doubt anyone else would even think about using this slogan. Trust me, I've experienced both having money sent to my mailbox and getting your mailer. The experiences are quite different. Yesterday when I got my mail and received a random Book Scholarship check from an honor society for $75 I didn't: roll my eyes, throw out the check, and then spend 20 minutes blogging about how misleading the check was. Trust me, the sensations of getting money in the mail and getting advertisements in the mail are very different on many levels.

However, to be fair I've racked my brains for any situations in which the two would be similar. I have found three.
1) I am retarded and have no concept of what money is
2) I dying of cold and have no access to shelter or fuel to burn, just matches and a postman
3) The economy continues its way down and inflation makes money as worthless as your spam

I hope you agree that in a majority of conceivable situations your mailer is nothing like money. I therefore request that you change your slogan to "Like receiving junk in the mail." If you would like, you may also drop the "Like" since it is unnecessary. If, however, your loyalty to your slogan is greater than your to your business model, may I suggest you send one of the following items:
Any Precious Metal

Thank you,

P.S. That weird awardish-looking emblem on the front that says "Local Neighborhood Money Saving Coupons Since 1979" doesn't fool me either. You can't just make up awards and give them to yourself.