Sunday, November 30, 2008

Michael experienced the life of a soccer mom. Does that mean I can be vp?

I'm back! The trip to Vegas was enjoyable, but definitely not what I had expected. I was more of a family assistant than a tourist.

Things started off rough when my father came down with a nasty cold. He was able to drive for much of the trip to Vegas, but once we reached the hotel, he stayed in the room, miserable, for the rest of the weekend. I washed my hands more than ever before during these past four days.

With my father sick in bed, my mother needed my help navigating the foreign highways of sin city. I drove to soccer games, restaurants, and even to the home of her old college roommate who she hadn't seen for 18 years. I didn't get to do the original activities I had planned, but it was nice to just get out and relax and be of help. Watching the soccer games wasn't too bad either.

After a long drive through the desert and battling through post-Thanksgiving traffic, I'm back home and ready to tackle the challenges of the next month. There's much to do before the year ends.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Michael is going back to school.

It's super early and I need to sleep, but I wanted to share the news before we leave for Las Vegas. Tonight we had our Thanksgiving dinner and birthday celebration for my father, and after everyone left, I went upstairs and checked my e-mail. There was a message from BYU, informing me that I've been accepted for the 2009 winter semester.


I'm happy that I got back into BYU, though I can't deny that I have mixed feelings. I've been home for two months now, and in that time I've established a comfortable life in Salt Lake. I have a job, I've made new friends - I even considered transferring to a school here if BYU didn't work out.

I suppose I'm being over-dramatic about this, it's not like Provo is very far away, but with the prospect of change always comes a sorrow for the past. I'm sure it will be the best for me, but I can't help but feel sad about leaving the life I have enjoyed so much.

I already registered for classes. I was very lucky/blessed - I was able to organize a decent schedule despite having registered so late. Now I have to find an apartment, buy a car, prepare to move, learn how to tune pianos... all in the next month.

Having a direction to take with definite goals is exciting!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Michael Just Wants to Dance.

I am not a dancer. The extent of my dance background is Dance Dance Revolution, which is more violent than graceful(at least when I play). Tonight, however, I went far beyond that and learned some basic swing and salsa steps. Sorry nerds, but it was way more fun than arrow-smashing.

Being able to do those basic moves, no matter how ugly it looked, was satisfying and great fun! It was also nice to dance with a partner, instead of clutching a sweaty, metal bar.

I was still feeling the groove when I got home, so I pulled my mother away from the Thanksgiving turkey and we danced in the kitchen. No sooner did I take her hand than the groove seized her and she recalled the dance steps from a distant college memory. We danced for a few minutes and then, slightly embarrassed, she broke away by suggesting that I teach my younger sister. My sister didn't jump at the offer.

I enjoy dance and would like to learn (and see) more.

And I still love ddr.

Physics and Michael's Childhood.

This evening while participating in a conversation about physics(don't think this is normal), my thoughts drifted to my childhood and my first hands-on experience with Newton's first law of motion.

One fine summer before the Fourth of July, my family and my cousins went camping near Provo before seeing a large fireworks show. Our camping site was located at the bottom of a large, sandy hill spotted with rocks and sagebrush. It beckoned us like the ice cream man, and we were at the top within 30 seconds.

All was fun and games until our parents called us down. I remember wanting to beat everyone down the hill, and unfortunately, I did. I moved one foot, the other.. faster. Faster! Oh no! No brakes!

My run turned into a roll, and I tumbled down the steep hill and landed in a well-placed sagebrush. I think someone took pity on my poor, ignorant self - I managed to avoid every rock and landed in the only sagebrush within a 20' radius.

So, remember kids, "A body continues to maintain its state of rest or of uniform motion unless acted upon by an external unbalanced force!"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Michael is getting reacquainted with childhood enemy.

Last week I attended my younger sister's piano recital, and after being impressed, decided to start practicing again. I dug up the old Alfred piano methods and began playing "Goodbye, Old Paint."

It's a long road to glory. At least I have more patience now than when I was ten.

In the meantime, before my imminent rise to musical stardom, my father is going to teach me how to tune pianos. It's a skill he learned from his father, and has been a nice source of extra money. If all goes well, it will provide me with enough to stay afloat during school.

Mike is an odd size.

I spent almost two hours shopping for jeans yesterday and didn't find what I wanted. Instead, I bought a bottle of cranberry juice and Thoreau's Walden. Maybe I'll find my size at a reasonable price next week, in Las Vegas.

Oh yeah, I'm going to Las Vegas to celebrate Thanksgiving! Can you think of a better place to count your blessings and spend quality time with family? The truth is that although we will spend the holiday there, the real reason for our trip is my younger sister's soccer tournament. It should be a memorable Thanksgiving. It certainly is different from what I'm used to.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Patrick: no mike, no!
it's not christmas time yet!!

Michael catches the Christmas virus.

I began listening to Christmas music today. I kicked it off with Sufjan Steven's Songs for Christmas, which I highly recommend. It's a nice break from the traditional holiday music you hear on a soft rock station. It even comes with an animated short, which you can see here!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mike breaks down barriers.

Some people say that Haikus are supposed to be about nature or birds, but I think that that's silly. I'll show how they relate to science.


Three birds flew overhead
One fell and I measured its


This bird holds secrets
I'll solve them with my scalpel
Because it can't talk.


This bird was poisoned
Inside it I found traces
of Alka-Seltzer.


Mankind is evil
It takes birds from the sky. ..but
we shall fly again.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Michael likes squares. And squirrels.

My Brazilian friend is no longer at the Church Office Building, so I have to find other ways to keep busy during lunch.

Today I discovered that the wax paper by the pastries in the cafeteria comes in perfect squares. I couldn't resist the urge to grab a sheet and fold a squirrel. I was pleased with the result.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Michael creates because

I heard some quotations from President Uchtdorf this morning that I really enjoyed. Here are some excerpts:

"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.

If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it."

His words struck me because they sum up an idea that's been stewing in my brain for quite some time. While I was in Massachusetts my actions and thoughts began to change. Instead of seeking easy, idle activities during free time (which was little), I actively sought things to create (though this word hadn't yet come to mind). I created a clean apartment, a nice meal, a healthier body. I sought to improve existing relationships and create new ones. I took many pictures and shared them with friends and family. I recorded experiences and feelings in a journal.

At the time, I was completely incapable of describing my pursuit or what drove me to do such things. The only word that came to mind was "beauty," but for obvious reasons I wasn't about to prance around the neighborhood proclaiming my discovery of a beautiful life. (People already think I'm strange enough!)

And so with a childish smile, I kept my feelings to myself, only sharing with my closest friends.

Then I returned to Utah. I was afraid of losing the happy life that I had developed and enjoyed during the past two years, but those fears soon dissipated with the continuation of a creative and helpful lifestyle. In fact, my life was really enhanced with the opening of new possibilities. No longer bound by mission rules, I could branch into previously unavailable pursuits, though taking care not to compromise the standards on which happiness is founded.

I live happily, and today I understand that much of this comes from a pursuit to create. I work full-time, sleep, eat, and do other routine things that take up most of the day, but it's the little things that are making a difference. Walking the dog, cooking a meal, calling a friend, reading a book, telling mother how much you love her...

Isn't life peachy?

Michael refuses to eat ramen.

Did I mention that I like to cook? Here are some recipes that I made recently:

Spaghetti Squash Lasanga

Alternative Baked Salmon
Zucchini Parmesan

All of these recipes came from, a great site for... all recipes!

I also made some Brazilian food that I learned to cook in MA, and my family was pleasantly surprised. They didn't know rice and beans could taste so good!

Short and sweet

I worked out, ate garbage hash, went to an art show, put up Christmas lights, folded an origami manatee, and went to a party. Long live Saturdays.