Saturday, November 22, 2008


Last Sunday I woke up feeling sick and promptly threw overboard the offending stowaways from the ship that is my stomach. I retired to my quarters only to return repeatedly to the deck to have a few more walk the plank. Eventually, I signaled the Mothership for aid. She came out to sea and towed me back to harbor where I stayed until Wednesday afternoon.

In the process, I got some great scruff:

I have some residual treasures at home that always make staying there convenient. I have a change of underwear, an unoccupied bed, a drumset, a piano and a toothbrush -- at least, I think I have a toothbrush. I know that I left a toothbrush at home; it was in the mirror on the right. I left it on the second shelf when I moved out in 2006. I'm pretty sure it was white.

There's still a white toothbrush in that mirror -- but it's been moved. And it's next to another fancier, mechanical toothbrush. So every time I brush my teeth at home now, I put some paste on the brush and think, "Is this really my toothbrush? Or is this Dad's?" But every time I elect benign ignorance over sure understanding and brush my teeth with the white brush.

And I'm happier that way. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Keep rnediag, it's pbisolse to raed tihs. You may rembeemr tihs pmnhneoea bieng pasesd arunod as an eimal a whlie ago. It sdpupseoly cmae out of smoe rasreceh dnoe at a Unirsteviy. Tihs guy cmmontes on the oraginil (wihch may not alaculty be all taht aruatcce).

Awayny, I've adedd a btoutn on my bolg (oevr tehre on the rhgit) taht if you prses, wlil mkae evrey psot manlegd in the smae way this one is. Feel fere to psers it, tehn wiat a few sdocnes to see if tgihns cganhe. I've olny tsteed it wtih FFeroix, so I'm not srue how the ohetr bersrwos wlil frae.

Hree's the botutn too:

Monday, October 20, 2008

ilanga liyaqanda

I have a lot to do, but I feel like writing for a minute. Here's what's left of the trees in my backyard:

The weather right now is perfect, to me. Walking the colorful streets of Provo reminds me simultaneously of two wonderful places: Gweru and Manti. I can't specifically remember ever visiting Manti in the fall, which makes me think that I'm reminded of Manti by my remembrance of Gweru.

Gweru is the third or fourth largest city in Zimbabwe and is situated about half-way between Harare and Bulawayo. Crossing Zimbabwe from east to west, Gweru seems to be the last city before the authentic African savanna begins -- tall yellow grass dotted with Acacia trees. And if I were to pick one word to describe that city, it would be sleepy.

My stay in Gweru was the shortest of all the places I lived as a missionary. I stayed in Bulawayo from July to November, Harare until August, Lusaka until January, Harare again, then Gweru from May until the end of June -- just one transfer. As a result, the Gweru of my memory is in a permanent fall. And in that fall, I love retracing my steps and rides through Lundi Park, the Bata factory, Southdowns and Ivene. I miss talking to the members of the Church there, and I miss eating a half-loaf of bread with a sack of milk for lunch. I miss the relaxed life that they live there. I miss bags of biscuits. I wonder how Omega's doing. I wonder where George ended up -- I'll never forget the day that he literally gave me the shirt off his back. I wonder if I'll ever again get to taste one of those lemon-doughnuts from the bakery in town.

Mentally walking through Gweru (or Gwelo as it was once called) reminds me of Manti -- peaceful Manti. Small houses without sidewalks and old, tall trees. I love simple Manti. Life is so simple there.

I'm glad that I will forever be blessed with remembrances of Gweru when the fall comes around -- it's nice to remember a simpler time.

I've been flipping through the end of my mission journal and found this gem (from after I came home):
"I ... attended the Single's Ward. I didn't like parts of it, but it was mostly okay. The talks, all of them, were very well-prepared, but, let me copy down a thought I wrote in my study journal: 'Being intelligent can be a downfall because it draws the user of the brain to leave out the unintelligible feelings of the heart. Never forget your heart... Live by your heart.'"

Here's the street I live on -- just took this picture on my way home today:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

To stumps

This week, something happened that I never really thought would happen. In my backyard grow two enormous Lombardy Poplars.

They've been growing for (let's see... I think my parents moved there in 1979... so) about 29 years. The mathematically astute will note that my age lies to the left of the trees' age on a standard number line -- they've always been there as far as I'm concerned.

The two giants are the grown remnants of a family of dead-looking sticks, which arrived in the mail some 30 years ago. My mom planted several of the sticks along our back fence looking forward to a beautiful wall of leaves. My dad accidentally (wisely) mowed over all but two of them, foreseeing the wall of leaves annually becoming a lake of leaves to rake up. And the two became the poles for our hammock.

But last week, because they're beginning to die, they're chopping the trees down. I went over after one had already been half cut down. This is what's left:

I'm sad that the trees are going -- it's almost like they're part of the family. But that's the way life goes, I guess.

After saying farewell to the trees Saturday morning, I went hiking with some friends around Y Mountain. We started in Rock Canyon and came down Slide Canyon (to the South of the Y on the mountain).

The leaves were spectacular!

We only took two "detours." I'm really glad we took the second detour because it landed us in an enormous, deep valley. That's where this picture was taken:

and this grovey picture:

Val brought Buster, who buried several biscuits along the trail:

We had to move through prehistoric leaf-bushes:

There were bugs:

and flowers:

and logs:

and helicopters:

and sun:

We stopped for a picnic at the meadow just inside Slide Canyon. I had bought bags of fresh peaches and pears from a fruit stand on Canyon Road the day before, so I delighted on those, some graham crackers, Ammon's butter crackers, some cookies and a spoonful of peanut butter in the meadow.

And then we descended to the Y:

This is the first time I've hiked down the Y without having first hiked up it. My knees hate hiking down the Y.

After getting off the mountain, I completed my adventures with a trip to the French bakery on State Street. I had two wonderful fruit tarts. And later that evening I enjoyed a French movie, "The Chorus" at the International Cinema.

So the trees are gone, but life goes on. And General Conference is this weekend!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Not a lot

I take a variety of ways to and from work every day. During the summer I would consistently take University Avenue to and fro, but now that school's in session, it seems like the roads are a little more crowded. So it takes me 10 minutes longer to travel, but I enjoy the calmer drive.

On one of my out-of-the-way escapades this week I found a lot for sale:

I'm thinking of buying it. I'll use it for storing my boat and my sports cars. If anyone wants to go halfsies with me, let me know. I think this sign could be a.... sign reminding me that just because something's big and red and for sale doesn't mean it's a good deal.

And no, Cambridge boy doesn't come with the lot.... unless you're female and free tomorrow night.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cambios Zvakanakas

I've changed.

A week prior to the first day of school in the fall of 2002, you would have found me amassing supplies in preparation for my maiden semester at the Y. My impressive arsenal included several notebooks of college-ruled, perforated paper (each of a distinct color corresponding to a class), new folders branded with the class name of the papers they would soon hold, my schedule printed on a 3x5 card, a new box of pens, and a pocket-sized planner.

I also had my first experience exchanging appendages for books at the bookstore. For some reason, though -- and I've never found out why it happened – they had all my books waiting for me in a cardboard box! They gave me the one with my name on it, I payed, then hefted it home – buying books is easy!

One thing more made my preparations complete: my map. But not just a map... a color-coded, hand-highlighted map. Each building was highlighted, as were each of the paths I would be traveling between classes. I clutched the thing vigorously that first week.

Yes... I was ready for school.

Now I'm a week and a half into my ninth semester here. And I'm mapless. But not just mapless... I only have one notebook so far – it's a light blue 70-pager leftover from my hardware design class... and my technical writing class... and part of my Spanish phonetics class... and the first week of a CS class I didn't end up taking. It's also got the scoreboard from a game of Greed – Ashley had 6200 points when the game ended. The final pages contain token notes from each of my current classes – notes with headings like: REL 3something Day 2. I've got three old folders sitting empty in my backpack. My CS textbook finally arrived yesterday – so I'll either diligently catch up on the reading I missed, or I'll absorb what I need from the lecture I didn't attend today and make it through.

I'm writing this in the CAEDM lab on the fourth floor of the Clyde Building. I've just finished a lab for one of my classes and don't really want to start any of the other homework I have. I'll be walking home shortly, then go to Thirsty Thursdays.

So. I've changed. I wouldn't say (though some will) that I've become more lazy, though I've definitely relaxed a lot since the first semester. I aim for good grades, but don't stress over them.

And in April, I will graduate with a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering. Supposedly, that means that I will be able to engineer electrons. And though I can make them dance in certain ways, I am by no means an expert – nor do I consider myself all that competent in many of the dance moves.

What I do know, however, is that voltage is directly proportional to current and resistance, AND that I will keep changing. I suppose I'm not much different from everyone else: I like most of the changes I see in myself, but dislike some of the others. It seems that those I like have come out of either conscious effort, or through struggling against a challenge, while those I disdain have just happened out of living lazily from day to day.


I wonder what the next 6 years will bring.


Here's a flower whose picture I took:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ode to Bus

(On a side note, the title to this post just reminded me of the time I played "Ode to Joy" at a piano festival. I forgot to play the middle part of the song -- it seemed awfully short to me when I had finished, and I was puzzled until I figured out my mistake. I still got a Superior. Woot.)

I spent three of the past five weekdays riding the bus to work while my car was having some body damage repaired. There's some things about riding the bus that I've always liked:

I like the interesting people you meet on the bus. On the first evening ride home I met Elsa, a ninety-year-old Chilean "who still dances." She lives with her son in Provo, but rides the bus to Orem every day to volunteer at an assisted living place. She's 90 and volunteers to help old people! She's probably older than a lot of the people she's assisting. She's in good health "because she keeps busy." I hope to get old like Elsa.

And I didn't meet, but observed, a pregnant lady riding the bus with her two young daughters. She was very much pregnant but not at all grouchy or "look-at-me-it's-so-hard." She was reading the signs in the bus to her daughters then interpreting them: "No offensive language -- that means you don't say mean things. No vandalism -- that means no writing on the seats." At the end of their ride, she helped up the youngest daughter so she could "pull the line" to signal a stop. I like good moms who enjoy just being moms.

Oh, and the BYU road maintenance crew needs to think a little more when they do things. Riding the 830 up past the Wilk one morning, we encountered heavy conage. Bookending every single, freshly painted, white, lane-dividing line were two small orange cones. So there was no way to change lanes. Our bus driver had changed lanes just prior to the cone derby and thus found himself stuck in the left lane as we approached a stop. Luckily, there was no one at the stop and no one wanted to get off... but good heavens, painting crew! Take the lane-changing out of a double lane road and you've broken the system.

I also like that the bus is slow -- that you have to wait for it and that it takes forever to get anywhere. I'm not being sarcastic. There's something good in not getting exactly what you want when you want it -- of having to wait for something. And there's something... relaxing about just getting there when you get there. Reminds me of my mission.

And lastly, I like that you have to walk more than 20 feet to get to work when riding the bus. Every day after work, walking beyond the parking lot to the wild unknown, I would follow a dog down the sidewalk. And you too, if you were to walk that way, would follow the same dog. As far as I know, he only made the trip once, but he chose to do it soon after the sidewalk makers had done their job thereby leaving his footprints in the slabs.

And this is funny:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Miserables and Angel's Landing

I spent the past weekend with my roommates and Amanda and Val and my grandparents in St. George. And we had a blast! My grandparents fed us like kings (thank you, Grandma and Grandpa) and the weather was great.

Oh, but before I begin... I dedicate this post, or rather, the pictures in this post to Martha, who mentioned here that one of the things that "blows her mind" is "people who take pictures to make it look like they're having tons of fun. it's one thing to document your trip, quite another to take a trillion pics of big-grin-right-in-the-lens. get over yourself." Knowing that before going down, I made a special effort to "document" the trip.

Here's my comrades and me on the shuttle to the bottom of the mountain:

Here's me part way up the mountain (I'm the one looking at the camera).

Here's another part way up (I'm the one occupying the right half of the picture).

Here's Scout Point (where you stop if you're afraid of heights)

Practicing lightning avoidance. I wish the pictures could do some sort of justice to how pretty it is up there.

Another shot of me (I'm near the bottom part of the picture. The mountain is behind me.)

And finally on our way to Tuacahn to see Les Miserables (that's my head in the middle obscuring the view of Tuacahn)

And I loved Les Miserables! That was my first time ever seeing any sort of production of the story. I've heard the music all my life, but I'd never seen it. Because the Tuacahn is outdoors, they could do cool things like have horses, pigs and goats, fireworks and a cannon. The pit orchestra was great and all of the performers sang and acted very well. It was quite a moving play.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Timpa No Go Us

I've never hiked to the top of Timpanogos.

I've always wanted to -- I've lived at her feet my whole life. It's just never happened. But this morning, I awoke at 5:00am so that I could make it happen. Yesterday, in fact, I gathered all the necessary (and superfluous) preparations -- fruits, nuts, food, water and a slightly earlier bed-time. But...

...every once in so often, I'm reminded that I'm human -- that despite my strongest intentions, I may not be able to always do everything I want. This morning was one of those "so oftens." I felt queasy on my way down the stairs to the grassy knoll (our ward's official meeting spot for all activities), but thought it would go away. It didn't. A few blocks out, I made Jason pull over and I... to euphemize the act... made an addendum to the gutter.

Hindsight says I should have just gone back home... but I truly did feel better. Anyway, we made it up to the mountain... and las cosas que viven adentro querrĂ­an escaparles. Escaparon.

And so, we had to come back home. I'm glad everyone was willing to drive me home and sacrifice their hike -- though I feel pretty darn lame about it. They dropped me off and did a different hike.

On the positive side: it's beautiful up there. It felt great to breathe the mountain air. Now I have a greater desire to hike to the top.

So, I've still never hiked to the top of Timpanogos.

Here's us not hiking:

And here's my niece -- just because she's cute:

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Two Good Books

Recently, I finished reading two good books: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens two Sundays ago, and the seventh Harry Potter yesterday. (As a side note about the Harry Potter books: I've met a third person who refuses to read the books out of "principle." The principle seems to be simple stubbornness, though some argue literary quality; all seem to eschew bandwagonness.)

I'd like to try a technique I learned from past English classes by comparing and contrasting the two books:

Analyzing the data from this comparison, you will probably reach the same conclusion I have: the days between August 2006 and June 2008 had less hours than the now-typical 24 we've been experiencing for the past couple weeks. That's why it took me so long to finish David Copperfield. In some ways, I feel like I was reading in real-time as David grew up :)

But it seems silly to me to compare the two books. Yes, they're both British, take place in London, involve a crummy-step-parented orphan boy who can make things magically disappear. But beyond that, I see little resemblance. They don't even have the same name!

Comparisons aside, I enjoyed both of them thoroughly. I recommend the Potter books as good, easy entertainment–they're fun. And I recommend Copperfield as good, laborious entertainment. As I've written before, I enjoy boring things–though "boring" is perhaps the wrong term: quiet, unpretentious, slow are probably more apt adjectives. David Copperfield was definitely that, loaded with details of surroundings, situations, people and thoughts, it's the kind of book you can leave to the dust, then pick up and continue a few weeks later.

Dickens is also a lot more thoughtful... less Roman, more Greek. Here are a few of my favorite gems:

From the financially unsound Mr. Micawber: "My advice is, never do to-morrow what you can do to-day. Procrastination is the thief of time; -- collar him."

David reflecting on his own life:
"I have never believed it possible that any natural or improved ability can claim immunity from the companionship of the steady, plain, hard-working qualities, and hope to gain its end. There is no such thing as such fulfillment on this earth. Some happy talent, and some fortunate opportunity, may form the two sides of the ladder on which some men mount, but the rounds of that ladder must be made of stuff to stand wear and tear; and there is no substitute for thorough-going, ardent, and sincere earnestness. Never to put one hand to anything, on which I could throw my whole self, and never to affect depreciation of my work, whatever it was, I find, now, to have been my golden rules."

And his descriptions about loving the women he loved at various times are spot-on. This one, in which David has built up the courage to give flowers to Dora, can be likened to asking a girl out on a date: "I had had an intention of saying (and had been studying the best form of words for three miles) that I thought them beautiful before I saw them so near her. But I could n't manage it. She was too bewildering. To see her lay the flowers against her little dimpled chin, was to lose all presence of mind and power of language in feeble ecstasy. I wonder I did n't say, 'Kill me, if you have a heart, Miss Mills. Let me die here!'"

Thank heavens for good books!

I know I don't really read wordy posts, and I don't expect anyone else to, so here's another picture to look at. I took it at the parade yesterday:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I've been working on a paper for my Technical Writing class for the past few days. It's kind of a fun project, but I'm getting a little tired of the tedium. I've got most of the content down, so now I'm going back to make sure that I meet all the requirements. And I'm stumped. Here's the requirements for the Front matter: (remember, this is a technical writing class)

So, for the four pages, this is what I think it wants me to do:

CountNumberList in TOC
Title PageiNoNo
The one I don't understand is the Letter... why do I not number it, but list it in the Table of Contents?

Argg.... English majors... :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What a fun week

This past week has been so fun!

Celebrated my birthday with my family at home. We made homemade ice cream and it was just as good as I remember it.

Celebrated Meleah's (my niece) birthday. She's one! We tried to teach her to say "hawk" using some cool flash cards she got as a present.

Celebrated my birthday again at my apartment thanks to Judy's banana cream pie! We also played pickup sticks:

Ward intramural kickball team took 2nd in the tournament.

Had my very first mint julep at Thirsty Thursdays at the Ashley's. I took the experience to heart and sat on the porch sipping the mint julep. Can't say I'm a fan though–my mom noted that it's probably popular as a source of alcohol, and that since ours was without... maybe. Also, had a really good blender-burning chocolate smoothie. I think the sucker had 5 different kinds of chocolate in it.

Hostile Work Environment Day at work. During this annual celebration, employees can vent their frustrations by blasting coworkers with Nerf weapons. This is my brother before he went terrorizing:

Also, we watched Rear Window outside on the grassy knoll Friday night. I liked the movie. I liked that it was intense without the unnecessary gore or over-the-top, horror violence (I don't like horror movies). Some may say it was weak... I liked it just fine.

We hiked to the top of Y mountain! It was a beautiful hike. We ate strawberries along the way. And this is the first time I made it all the way to the Y without stopping. Here are some of the flowers:

Here's Martha flying:

Here's my hair flying:

Here's Ammon after he ripped two apples in half:

Here we are at the top (I think that's the Pacific Ocean in the back):

Here's where Elaina almost died from a rabid, prehistoric fern-dwelling, Brown Wolf Recluse Black Widow Spider-Snake:

Here's those ubiquitous, nest-making caterpillars:

And here we are at the bottom:

Then we played some water basketball in the pool to cool off (didn't actually cool off -- the game was a little intense).

Then we celebrated Tiffany's birthday with cake.

Then we saw Kung Fu Panda! What a fantastic movie! I haven't seen such a well-done movie for a long time. The animation was fantastic; the fight scenes were original (especially the dumpling fight); and it was funny! I recommend it.

Then we saw the fireworks at Orem's Summerfest. People had been staking out their spots for several hours so that they could get a good view of the works... We just took a spot right next to the fireworks on the road.

Then... I went home and slept a good sleep....

Life is good.