Saturday, February 23, 2008


They were selling Coke in glass bottles at Macey's earlier this week. For only a dollar I had to buy one.

The first time I ever had Coke came nearly 10 years after the first time I smelled Coke. I first smelled the stuff at the BYU tennis courts where it was soaking the grass, and in turn soaking up the sun. Sun-soaked Coke will never become a cologne nor a fancy candle.

That's my first memory of Coke.

I was 19 when I first drank Coke. I drank it from a chilled, glass bottle whilst seated in the Rishando's house in Nkulumane, a suburb of Bulawayo. In many ways, Nkulumane reminds me of a slightly more populated Manti. It's a beautiful place with beautiful sunsets, beautiful landscape and beautiful people. It is one of my most favorite spots on this earth.

We had just finished teaching a lesson to the Rishando girls when, as is the kind custom in Zimbabwe, we were offered a drink and biscuits. Oh, how I miss those biscuits. I love dusty biscuits. One of the best gifts I ever got as a missionary was a package (a huge package) of Petit Beurre butter biscuits from Elder Fitzgerald.

Anyway, so Mrs. Rishando (she wasn't officially Sister Rishando at that time) popped the caps off the bottles and I took my first draught. I first thought, after the juice had grated down my throat, "How did Coke ever make any money selling this stuff?!" It took everything I had to finish that bottle! But like any good drug, the next bottle was easier, and the next easier, and so on until I actually started to like it.

So, I bought the bottle at Macey's, chilled it overnight, popped the top and took a memory drenched draught of the familiar liquid. It was good. Though I still wonder how Coke ever convinced people to take a second gulp -- it's potent stuff.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lampshade > Homework

So, a week or so ago I started thinking: "I wonder if I could make a lamp out of my cell phone charger..." Turns out that I can!

Here's what I used:
6 LEDs
1 paper cup
about 3 inches of wire from the binding of my Spanish notebook
(to honor MacGyver I also used some safety pins, paperclips and tin foil... but ended up discarding them)

At first I just twisted the LEDs together, taped them in place and plugged my charger in. Then I could hold the glowing mass above my paper as I read.

But then, on Tuesday, I happened upon a brilliant thought: "I could make a lampshade out of a cup!" And so, as any diligent engineer would do, I set my homework aside and made a lampshade.

Now all that's left is a stand for the lampshade and an improved hookup for the charger. This was the BEST Valentine's week EVER! :)

Boring details:
The charger puts out 6.25V at 350mA which means it deliver up to 2.19W of power. (6.25 * 0.350 = 2.19) I first bought these LEDs from the shop at the Clyde that run on about 2V. But as I was taking some measurements, Justin came in an offered me some of his higher powered LEDs. Those guys each run at above 3.2V and draw about 25mA. Since each LED has to have at least 3.2V and can't handle more than 3.7V I decided on two groups in series to split the 6.25V. Each of these groups has 3 LEDs in parallel (so 6 total).

Friday, February 8, 2008

It sounds so forlorn

The other day, I got together with some friends who were forming a band. I seem to remember mention of a quintet, but there were seven or eight people there when I arrived. Oh well :)

I had assumed they wanted me to play the drums, but it turns out that they desperately needed someone on French horn. I’d seen plenty of horns and trumpets played and knew the basic principles, so I decided to go for it.

Luckily, they had an old horn there that I could use. I opened the case and put the horn together. I was a little hesitant to put my mouth on the mouthpiece and considered going into the kitchen to boil water and cleanse it, but I ended up just going for it. It had that taste distinctive to old metal -- kind of dusty-like.

I blew once and no sound came out. Then my mind was caught back to the many times in Jr. High band when Mr. Hill would explain proper blowing technique to the lung-users. I suddenly remembered the word “embouchure.” Just as I thought of “embouchure”, I thought the thought I always think when I think of that word: “How do you spell embouchure? It starts with an e.... and it has a ch somewhere near the end... and then there’s that French-ish ou ‘round about the middle.”

By now the horn was responding well to my buzzing puffs and I eagerly tried keying some notes. I rummaged through the case and found a book describing all the fingerings... and though the instructions didn’t seem all that consistent, I felt confident in my ability to play in the group.

About this time, a man entered the room and took a seat in front of us. He seemed drunken, and he seemed to be in pain. He sat slouchily in the chair with a wincing look on his face. He reminded me of William Wilburforce (from Amazing Grace) when he was in pain. He turned out to be the conductor. And though he was drunk, he was agreeable. We practiced a bit before I left...

And then I woke up.

I recently heard on the NPR (I think that’s where I heard it) someone’s theory that our dreams are really emergency training simulations; that we dream through situations in order to prepare ourselves for potential emergencies. Phew! That’s a relief! Now I can feel confident if the Wincing Drunkenman ever needs a horn player. And no big deal if I suddenly lose my ability to fly... or if someone needs me to do a ventriloquist act with a shaggy, blue parrot for a high school basketball game half-time show.

What are you prepared for?

(And this is a picture of a walkway lightly covered in snowflakes - 10 points to whoever knows where it is)

Monday, February 4, 2008

San Diego

I went to San Diego a few weeks ago for a funeral. My aunt passed away. I'm sad about it. She's a great lady -- one of the most cheerful people I know. She has great kids -- I love my cousins.

But I've got to say, that her funeral was one of the most wonderful I've ever been to. She really is as good as gold. I have more of my own thoughts about all of it... but they're my thoughts -- not my blog's thoughts :)

While we were there, after the funeral, my mom, dad and I went to the beach (where this picture was taken). The water was cold, but the weather was fantastic.

If there were less people, I might love to live in San Diego.

In other news, I haven't done any homework today. (and this is for Megan:)

THE END!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!