Thursday, November 5, 2009

On Facebooking

Do you ever get sick of Facebook groups? I do. I get really tired of requests like, "If this group gets 500,000 members I will name my child Bobba Fett!" Or, "Join this group to cure diabetes!" I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but how on earth is clicking a nice little "join" button going to cure one of the most perplexing diseases of mankind?! Well, at least they provide some entertainment.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

On Creativity

The following e-mail exchange is one of my proudest accomplishments. On my last History of Creativity exam I lost four points on the take-home portion for not "illustrating" my booklet. In these e-mails, you will see me pleading and arguing like an idiot for those measly points. The miracle is, it worked.

Dear illustrious teaching assistants,

You are wise. You are just. You are creative.

It is because of these attributes that I come before you to plead my case. I pray that my words will have reason in your ears.


I had an exceptionally pleasant experience during the last exam, especially while completing the take-home portion. For my project, I designed and constructed a pamphlet for a fictional organization called the Society of Modern Gods. I wrote an introduction to the pamphlet, gave vivid descriptions of five of the gods that govern our modern world, and included a professional conclusion inviting the reader to learn more, suggesting that the pamphlet was not a stand-alone book, but a single reference in a vast collection of knowledge about modern gods. My pamphlet was generally well-received, but four points were withheld from me. The explanation left by the illustrious assistant was just one word; one question:

"Illustrations?"

My claim is that I did, in reality, illustrate my pamphlet, and thus, I deserve those four points withheld from me. To illustrate my claim, I point to the ambiguity of the following statement:

"Illustrate your gods using any method you see fit and turn in the completed
project as a book or pamphlet. Have fun with it!" (emphasis added)

These are the closing lines of the instructions for the take-home portion of the first exam. The instructions were clear, for the most part, but that word - "illustrate" - is ambiguous. Below are two definitions of, "Illustrate," together with their sources:

–verb (used with object)
1. to furnish (a book, magazine, etc.) with drawings, pictures, or other artwork intended for explanation, elucidation, or adornment.
2. to make clear or intelligible, as by examples or analogies; exemplify.
3. Archaic. to enlighten.

"illustrate." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 29 Oct. 2009. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/illustrate>.


v. tr.
    1. To clarify, as by use of examples or comparisons: The editor illustrated the definition with an example sentence.

    2. To clarify by serving as an example or comparison: The example sentence illustrated the meaning of the word.

  1. To provide (a publication) with explanatory or decorative features: illustrated the book with colorful drawings.

  2. Obsolete To illuminate.

v. intr.
To present a clarification, example, or explanation.

"illustrate." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 29 Oct. 2009.

Obviously the noble teaching assistants considered the first definition of "illustrate,"referring to furnishing a book with drawings, pictures, or other artwork; however, these dictionary definitions illustrate quite clearly the variance in meaning of this fine word. And is there any doubt that I illustrated my gods? Or said another way, isn't it clear that I presented explanations of my gods, that my vivid descriptions created clear mental images of how these gods live and how they influence our world today? I included histories, interviews, and scientific theories. Did these not illustrate my gods, according to at least one of the definitions I have included above?

And then there are the next words:

"Illustrate your gods using any method you see fit." (emphasis added)

As the creator of this pamphlet, I saw that my method of illustration was adequate. My descriptions were detailed and my imagery was good. According to the instructions, that should be sufficient.

In closing, I wish to say that I have enjoyed this class immensely and I feel that my personal creativity is becoming enhanced as a result of the things I have learned. I believe that my pamphlet was quite creative, in that met the requirements outlined in the instructions while employing a very lateral form of thinking. Please do not punish me for my creative efforts. Reward me. You have taught me well.

Thank you,

Michael Wood


***


Michael,
The noble TA's have heard your plea. Because they are wise, just, and creative, they have graciously decided to reward you with the points you so eloquently and humbly requested from them. They are impressed with your ability to wrest the words of their otherwise simple take-home project instructions. Do not be surprised or alarmed if they contact you when they need to eek points out of their less wise, just, and creative professors and TA's in other subject areas. They commend you for your language abilities and exhort you to put your creativity to wise and good use during the remainder of this course.


Skadoosh.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On Cleaning

Question:

What do you do when there is an unclaimed bowl of chili in your kitchen that has been left to rot for a whole week?

Answer:

Let the chili speak for itself.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Three Rules You Must Know!

The following paper was an assignment about status for my social inequality class. Before you read, please know that while there is some truth to these rules, they have been highly exaggerated. The dinner group I was a part of, while excellent, was made up of fun, wonderful people who really loved food.

And so without further ado, I present:


A Guide to Fabulous Flavor:


How to Woo your dinner group



During my time at BYU, I have seen the rise of informal organizations known as “dinner groups” among students and newlyweds of all backgrounds. Although many of the less-informed claim that the purpose of the dinner group is purely economical, the truly educated understand that it is much more than that. The dinner group, ideally, is a rich cultural and social experience – an opportunity for sophisticated chefs to gather and counsel together and share wisdom. For some, the idea of such a group seems daunting, and perhaps it is for the hopeless mac-and-cheese aficionados. Nevertheless, I will attempt to outline a few of the morals we hold high in our kitchens.


Rule 1: Only use the best and freshest ingredients.

If you ever hope to impress the other members of your dinner group, you must never use anything that comes in a can. Similarly, frozen or processed foods are also despicable. When preparing vegetables or using herbs, only use the freshest produce available. Don't even think about using dried spices! Whenever possible, buy locally at the farmer's market. Buy organic, even if it costs twice as much. You are a sophisticated chef, and you cannot afford to use second-rate ingredients. If you do, your guests will surely be disappointed, as their palates have been trained to detect such sloppiness.


Rule 2: Use recipes from a trusted source.

Your dinner group is well-versed in cooking literature and is up-to-date on all of the new recipes outlined on the cooking network. They have memorized last year's cookbook from America's Test Kitchen and they have marked The Pioneer Woman Cooks as their home page. Follow a recipe from a chef they admire. If you must be creative, prepare an unusual ethnic dish that you learned from a native. I, for one, found success by preparing baked chicken wrapped with bacon and drizzled with a tomato cream sauce served over warm rice with a hint of garlic and a side of slow-simmered beans. And a salad.


Rule 3: Be informed and engage in enlightening conversation

This rule, while important, is not as important as the previous two. Fortunately for you, assuming you have obeyed the first two rules, you will have an ample list of topics from which you can draw. In essence, you have gathered all the essential ingredients, making it a simple matter of reading the recipe. Tell your friends about the special ingredients included in your elegant meal. Like Homer of old, assume the role of the bard. Relate your epic search for the whole native pepperberries used in your cream sauce, or share your technique employed in the preparation of the basil chiffonade. When you have exhausted your ingredient-stories (which is unlikely) you may move on to the next subject – the chefs and shows that serve as inspiration. Have caution here; conversations like these can last the whole night. I know.


I wish you the best of luck as you seek to earn status in your very own dinner group. Remember: Fresh is best. Learn or burn. Share if you care. Follow these and you are guaranteed to succeed. Now, excuse me – I must return to the kitchen. My ramen is burning.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

|, ||, |||, ||||...

I told some friends that I would post something tonight that would change their lives forever, so here it is: my thoughts on tally marks.

I do not claim to have a knowledge of tally marks used around the world, but I know that in the United States we rarely see anything other than the traditional "four vertical lines and a dash" method. This system, while useful, has some inherent flaws. Difficulty in creating parallel lines, limited spacing, and high repetitiveness create errors in both the reading and writing of the tally marks. Have you ever incorrectly included a sixth mark in a set of five marks? I certainly have. How about in the classroom - have you ever felt like you were taking (and failing) an eye exam as you tried to count the number of parallel lines on the other side of the room?

For anyone who has ever been frustrated with tally marks I present an alternate method, taught to me a few years ago by a Brazilian friend.


Instead of drawing four parallel lines, one counts to five by outlining a box and then drawing a dash through the middle. It is easy to read and distinguish any stage, even from far away. The drawing of the box makes it easy to keep track of where you are, eliminating those mysterious sixth tallies. And finally, the boxes are totally enclosed, reducing the likelihood of misreading two separate sets as something combined.

But don't take my word for it! Try it! I think you will find this method easier and more aesthetically pleasing. In short, it will bring you more happiness, which is what I'm all about. :)

Do you know of any other ways to mark tallies? Do share!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saturday

I love:

morning hikes
hearty breakfasts
farmer's markets
fresh vegetables
community events
libraries
music and dancing
old friends
new friends
pizza and salad
laughing
s'mores
late-night conversations

Saturdays.

Monday, August 24, 2009

This I Believe

Reach Outward

"To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy."

- President Thomas S. Monson

UVU commencement exercises, 1 May 2009


***


"Do you want capability, safety, and security in dating and romance, in married life and eternity? Be a true disciple of Jesus. Be a genuine, committed, word-and-deed Latter-day Saint. Believe that your faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does. You separate dating from discipleship at your peril. Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, is the only lamp by which you can successfully see the path of love and happiness. How should I love thee? As He does, for that way 'never faileth.'"

- Elder Jeffery R. Holland

New Era, Oct 2003, 4

Saturday, August 22, 2009

a bit of wisdom

If you can smile when things go wrong,
And say it doesn't matter,
If you can laugh off cares and woe,
And trouble makes you fatter,
If you can keep a cheerful face
When all around are blue,
Then have your head examined, bud,
There's something wrong with you.
For one thing I've arrived at:
There are no ands and buts,
A guy that's grinning all the time
Must be completely nuts.
-Boyd K. Packer-

Friday, July 17, 2009

No one, neither smoker nor non-smoker, can enjoy Brazil without a cigarette.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Twilight Scramble

I do this every time.

I put off packing until there is no time to sleep. I will be boarding a plane in 12 hours.

I'm so excited/nervous/tired.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Happy Fool

Some people have called me oblivious to the world around me, and I think they are correct. Fortunately, that is not always a bad thing, as was proven tonight. My friends threw a surprise party for me and it was a great success!

I had no idea what was going on. I thought we were going to go out for dinner, but my friends kept delaying so I waited patiently, killing time by waxing philosophically with my roommates and listening to one of them remix songs on his laptop. That's just what we do here. True story.

After a while my roommates slipped away one by one. I hardly noticed, until there were just two of us left in the apartment. My one remaining roommate said, "I'm gonna go see what's up," and so I decided to follow him. He went straight to the apartment of the friends I was waiting for, so I tagged along, thinking that this was a good opportunity to investigate the delay. My hunger was eating my patience.

The apartment door swung open and my roommate jumped inside. I followed him inside, but to my surprise, there was no one in sight. Suddenly, the silence was broken by a chorus of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" coming from the kitchen. A small choir marched around the corner into the entryway where my roommate and I stood and continued singing. Now here's a testament to my own obliviousness: I joined them in singing, completely clueless as to what they were singing for! It wasn't until I saw one of them holding a cake with the Brazilian flag on it that I understood and shut my mouth...

I have such wonderful friends. :)

Display on the wall in colorful letters were the words, "Farewell, Mike! We <3 You!" In addition to a beautiful and delicious chocolate cake, a full spaghetti dinner had been prepared. They said they wanted to cook for me for a change, and they did a tremendous job. I don't think I've ever eaten a meal prepared more lovingly than this one.

Thank you friends, for exploiting my weakness in a most loving and extraordinary way. :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

An invitation.


Hello. My name is Michael. I like rain. I like umbrellas too.

Jumping is what I do.

Will you jump in the rain with me?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

One book, so many victims


Who do you pity? The insect, the book, or the college student who scraped the corpse off the stained page?

Or perhaps you pity the author, who although dead, had his work defiled. What about the reader, who closed the book at an untimely moment and has had to live with the guilt of destroying so many a happiness?

What about those who will yet read this book and find this stain, not knowing its bloody history?

Or what about you, who is reading this page and looking at a picture of a smashed bug? I pity you.

Foo'

Saturday, May 2, 2009

On sowing.

I played the drums growing up, which led me to listen to very technical music with syncopated rhythms and lots of heavy hitting. My favorite of these groups was Dream Theater, who I would argue has the best rock drummer (and possibly guitarist and keyboardist) in the world. Listening to a Dream Theater album is an experience; it's like reading a good novel, taking the audience through a colorful and richly detailed world. You can't listen to single tracks on a Dream Theater album by themselves -- that would be like reading a single chapter out of a book. The music is masterful and demands appreciation.

I shared my interest with a few of my friends, but due to the heaviness of the music and general pop-unfriendliness few became fans.

And then I went on a mission, and Dream Theater dropped from my thoughts for more than two years.

Upon returning, I find out that one of my friends to whom I introduced Dream Theater has become a superfan. Not a fan, but a fanatic. I spent some time with him and another friend last night. We played Risk, and whenever we weren't talking about our ill-fated strategies, we were discussing Dream Theater. Actually, that's not accurate. He was talking to me about Dream Theater. I listened, and the other friend ignored us completely, absorbed in his diabolical scheming to wipe the red and black pieces off the board.

After he successfully annhilated our distracted armies, my uninterested friend began to clean and I continued discussing Dream Theater with the first. After two hours, my friend's kitchen looked like an immaculate set on a cooking show, worthy of Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart. He had cleaned the floor and all the dishes until they reflected light and had began searching corners for lone dust bunnies. And still my other friend discussed the technical genius of Dream Theater.

I had many conflicting feelings that night. First, I thought, "neat, he's really taken my musical suggestion to heart." Then, I thought, "Oh no, he's really take my musical suggestion to heart!" The second feeling was reinforced when he pulled up his T-shirt and showed me the Dream Theater symbol tatooed on his upper back. "And it was all thanks to you!"

At 2:00 AM I finally pulled away and went home to sleep. I fell asleep quickly, but all I could dream about was a flower that grew taller than its gardener and became a weed.

And for some odd reason, I felt like listening to Dream Theater.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fish

you have been flayed
you have been flavored

and you have been found delicious

Sunday, April 26, 2009

summertime foci

We are all familiar with New Year's resolutions, but now that Spring is here and classes are over, how about some summertime goals? Another semester at the university has taught me how precious time is, so I think it's a good idea to capitalize on the "break." I say it with quotations because I'll be working full-time until mid-June, and then I'll be abroad, studying.

So without further ado, here is my list of springsummer goals. (They are subject to modification.)

  1. Learn how to bake bread.

    I love homemade bread and have wanted to learn how to make it for a long time, but fear of the unknown and laziness have stifled my learning. The time is now, and the place is Provo. Prepare for delicious homemade goodness, preceded by not-so-delicious disasters.

  2. Read a book a week.

    Huzzah! No more assigned reading! What better way to celebrate not having to read by reading of my own volition?

  3. Cycle more, drive less.

    I recently purchased a bicycle for this very purpose. And I love being outside. And I love to do healthy things. It seems like a good combination.


  4. Watch good movies.

    Many people have suggested that I see certain films, and I want to do that. Quite simple, really.

  5. Go to Brazil.

    June 18th!
Most of these items aren't entirely new endeavors. In fact, I should probably write "foci" instead of "goals." The latter word has such a negative, modern connotation in my mind too. Eww.

To all of my friends and acquaintances and kids that I met without learning their name, I write "Have A Great Summer." I hope I didn't just spoil it with a horrible cliche. Sorry. Call me, we shud hang out, man.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Winterspring


I knew that there would be snow when I woke up this morning, but I still marveled at the volume of wet, heavy slush that had glazed everything in the city. At first I saw it as an annoyance - I was late for a study group and was not particularly grateful for the opportunity of scraping four to five inches of sludge off my car. It slid off easily and splattered on the asphalt like a clumsy child's ice cream cone.



My negative emotions quickly dissipated when the fog cleared from my windshield and I saw how beautiful the morning was. Unlike a typical, dismal winter morning, there was green and purple under the snow and yellow above it from the bright and naked sun. I considered skipping my study group completely in favor of a morning photo shoot before the scene disappeared for another year, but I ultimately followed that innate wisdom who called me back to reality.

I left the study group a little early and practically ran to my car to grab my camera. The snow was melting quickly and increased my sense of urgency with each drop. I had already missed some opportunities and I saw that time was against me. I felt it, actually. More than once falling masses of white sludge hit me square in the face. And not just me!


Once I had my camera I was drawn to the stone path that runs along the southwest hillside through the most wooded area of campus. The path is seldom used, and today it was completely deserted. Not 10 seconds after entering it, however, I realized why no one would want to be there at that moment. The canopy formed by the interlocking branches bowed under the weight of the heavy snow and sweat and shed huge globs of slush in random places. Before long I was exceptionally wet and had taken some exceptional pictures.

I can only hope that a future female counterpart enjoys such absurd and beautiful scenes as much as I do.


Everything was beautiful and fine and dandy while I was taking pictures. Then I went back to my car. I reached in my pocket and - * gasp! *- no keys! At some point during my wandering in the vacuum of winterspring photography, I dropped my keys in the real world. Crud.

I ran back to the stone path, although this time it was an unfriendly gauntlet; taunting, expectorating globs of cold, unwelcome slush. I dashed through it looking neither right nor left nor up. My eyes were focused on the wet ground below; I just wanted my keys.


I didn't find them until much later, by which time much of the snow had melted. Only after the temporary fantasy world was all but gone, I found my keys to the real world which I had so innocently and carelessly abandoned. I picked them up graciously and drove home. Would I miss the snow? Yes. Would I welcome spring? Yes. And for one day, I got a bit of both. It was a good day.

Spring Snow



I had such a wonderful morning.




I'll write more about it later.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Thrifty Mr. Disney

Do you love Disney movies? Do you ever get a sense of Deja Vu while watching them? Well you should. See for yourself.



Walt: "Well folks, looks like we've got a bit of a problem here. We need to make another film, but I spent all of our budget on the electric parade. Unfortunately, we can't afford to make any new animations."

Animator: "No sweat, Walt! I'll just dig up the old Snow White and Jungle Book animations from the vault and change the characters. And, if it works O.K., we can do it a few more times!"

Walt: "Genius! I'm sure glad I hired brains like you to help me manipulate the masses to spend vacations standing in long lines and buy overpriced merchandise while believing that they're at the 'happiest place on earth!'"

Animator: "Oh.. so that's your plan?"

Walt: "Well duh."

Animator: ... :(

Saturday, April 4, 2009

psychoanalysis

MY COMPUTER IS DEAD.

I donated blood.

I'm reading frantically.

I will do something unknown as of yet.


These are totally unrelated.

... or are they?

o_O <- this is how I feel

O_O <- this is me after studying.

-_- <- this is me while studying.


But I have had a tiptop time with family and friends.

That is a good thing. Yes. No need to be over dramatic. You are in good condition. Now, go and finish the fight, little bugger. That will be $100 dollars. Don't forget your shoes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Bisection of a Year

Yesterday, 26 March 2009, was a special day for me as it marked six months since I returned home from Massachusetts. What have I done during this time? Let's take a quick look.

Work
For a few days I worked for a man in my neighborhood installing sprinkler systems. The labor was difficult, but the pay was good and it gave me something to do before I found a more permanent solution. I continued searching for work - unsuccessfully. Then one day, my neighbor called me with a job offer at the church office building. I jumped at the offer, and until the end of the year I worked in the church history department. I made many good friends there and learned a lot about church history and archives and conservation. I had some great work luncheons there too.

At the beginning of January my job in Salt Lake ended, but the friendships I made there helped me get a job in Provo. I now work in the Harold B. Lee Library, repairing books with scalpels, presses, guillotines, and glue. It's quite enjoyable, and using all those tools is oddly satisfying.

Vacation
In November I went to Las Vegas with my family to see my younger sister's soccer tournament. I didn't see much there due to the demands of the tournament, but it was just nice to spend time with my mom and sister (my dad was sick in the hotel). Surprisingly, we made it through the trip without any feuds, slap battles, or tense negotiations with elevated voices. Wait, that's a lie.

Yesterday I bought my plane ticket to Brazil. I leave on 18 June for a study abroad program (not exactly vacation) and return on 16 August, a week after the program ends. I don't have solid plans yet, but I plan to visit a few places around the country and meet up with friends during that week. Maybe I should get a tan before I travel around the country, alone.

Social
I've spent time with a lot of my old friends, but most of them live lives apart from me. Fortunately, the relationships I returned to are even stronger now, and I've made a lot of new friends in new environments. I usually always have someone to talk with/play with. I've gone on... dates.
...and we'll leave it at that.

I've had a lot of fun reconnecting with friends from the various periods of my life. Provo is a good place for that. Yes, I've had many of those "Hey Elder!" moments on campus.

Education
My academic standing turned out to be much less of a problem than I orginally thought. My unpleasant freshman past is no more than a memory, and my sophomore present is looking good. I still haven't settled on a major, however. I'm considering sociology and possibly an mls degree; I've been researching the fields and exploring carreer options. Blah Blah Blah.

I learned about Newton's laws and the periodic table this semester, as well as pre-modernism, modernism, post-modernism, the quickstep, and the waltz. I learned quite a bit about Jesus too.

***

These six months have not been without challenges, but all in all they have been happy and productive. Looking back, it's hard to believe that so much has happened in so short a time! Assuming that I continue at this rate until the end of my days, my life should be pretty awesome. I think I'll stick with it for a while.


And I want to give a special thanks to anyone and everyone who has helped me along during these last six months. Without your help and support and friendship, I would not be in so favorable a position. I would probably be really weird too, most likely working at a grocery store and spending all of my free time playing Dance Dance Revolution. Ha! Like I would ever do that!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Splitting the Pie: observing a cultural artifact

As I have begun thinking more about gender issues, I have seen some interesting things. I wish to write about a pie that I saw today.

My Physical Science professor brought a homemade pumpkin-pecan pie to class today in response to an anonymous student comment, who in a note complained about always being hungry in class. The pie was cut into 12 equal slices and offered to students who answered questions correctly. Out of the seven pieces given away during the lecture, only one went to a female. At the end of the lecture, five pieces remained. The professor said that anyone who wanted a piece could come and get one. Within seconds, all of the pieces were in the hands of four eager males.

But weren't there five pieces left? Yes, one man was carrying two pieces. It's not what you think, however. When this man reached the table where the pie sat, he turned to his sister and asked, "do you want a piece?" She nodded, and he took a piece for her.

Now, how does this relate to gender issues? I think it's a good example of what is happening in many parts of our society today. In many issues, men and women have equal opportunities, at least in theory. Like my story, the pie is cut evenly is offered to each person. Why then does the pie end up in so few female hands? Do women not like the pie as much as men? Are they not as hungry? Perhaps, but I think the answer is more subtle.

When a suppressed party gains freedom, does it automatically become a 'normal' functioning member of society? Are there no traditions, ideas, or behaviors that carry on? Perhaps for some this is the case, but for the majority, change is slow. In other words, women, who were seen as inferior for so many centuries, may still be hesitant to take advantage of many of the freedoms and possibilities granted to them because of the culture from which they came.

Consider females in the classroom. While there is a small number that participates in class lectures, the majority remains silent. In my story, only one girl received a piece of pie by participation. (And I should point out that there is no shortage of women in the class.) When the five remaining pieces were offered to everyone, only men took them. I know that running to get free food is looked down upon by many people, both male and female, but could it be that females also are reluctant to compete with males for a piece of the pie? Was it lack of interest, or lack of confidence that kept them from claiming a piece of the pie?

I don't think we can point the blame to any one party, but I do believe that both can improve the situation. Like the male who offered his sister a piece of pie, men should be more understanding and mindful of their female counterparts. They should encourage women to stand up and speak out and claim a piece of the pie. To overcome cultural artifacts, they must do more than cut the pie evenly and offer it to all. They must prove to the women that they really do care about equal opportunity and reassure them that it exists.

Women, on the other hand, need not be afraid to claim a piece of pie. If there is something you want to do, do it! If there is something you want to say, say it! If there is something you want to be, be it! There have been many courageous women that have reached out and taken their own piece of the pie. Women can follow their examples and make an increased effort to get what they want.

Now, before someone misinterprets my point, let me clarify. I am not suggesting that women should compete against men. I am saying that just as men compete for a piece of the pie, so should women, with the men. We are obviously not there yet, but if men acted with more understanding and thoughtfulness and women acted with more courage, we would be well on our way. Doing so would break down the cultural artifacts that continue to suppress women in our "equal opportunity" society.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One Fine Day... to eat George Clooney

Introducing: Clofu!

Yes, friends. Edward Cullen's fantasy is now available to you. You can eat the heartthrob of your life, and it's totally O.K!

Now, I don't like to poke fun at people's morals, but honestly...

"Newkirk, a big fan of Clooney, told us yesterday that the towel was offered by a PETA supporter with the idea of auctioning it off, but she immediately thought of using his perspiration for bean curd." (emphasis added)

Okay, yes, that's great that you have George Clooney's towel, but what kind of person sees, "sweaty towel" and thinks, "bean curd!"? Sounds like someone's starving, or has been reading way too much Stephanie Meyers.

And poor little George... Peta certainly wasn't very ethical towards that particular mammal.

I wonder how much clofu sells for, anyway.

Monday, March 16, 2009

In other news...

I found my autographed poster of D2 The Mighty Ducks, the movie that sparked my fascination with bubble gum and Iceland. It will have a place on my wall.






Sunday, March 15, 2009

Women!

I attended a very enlightening career exploration class last week that I've been wanting to write about ever since. It's not one of my typical topics, but I feel that it deserves some focus.

At the beginning of the class the students were divided by gender. Men sat on the left, women sat on the right. Our professor sat on a desk at the front of the classroom and faced the women. He initiated a discussion about gender roles and forbid the men to participate.

I took two things away from that discussion. First, feeling that your voice isn't wanted is an awful feeling. It has been shown that the large majority of female college students keep their mouths closed during classroom discussions. There are different reasons for this, but in class it was suggested that perhaps the student feels like her comments are undervalued, or perhaps the professor subconsciously prefers to call on males. I found this hard to believe, so I asked several women from my class as well as outside my class how they felt about the issue. Although a few said that they felt comfortable making comments in class, the majority said that they did indeed feel some degree of anxiety.

The second realization came to me by listening carefully to the discussion at the other side of the classroom. Before coming to class, each of us read an article written by a professor of then-Ricks college. In the article, she says that many young women, influenced by mormon subculture, plan their futures according to an as yet unrealized life with some husband. In other words, they do not plan for careers, but married life. But what about the large number of unmarried/divorced/widowed women? What are they to do when they must join the workforce to support themselves? What about the women are married, but still have to help support a family, along with their husbands? The author suggests that women prepare for careers, and by doing so, they will be better prepared for life ahead. If a man indeed comes along, plans can change accordingly. If a man doesn't come along or is lost to some tragedy, then she will still be capable of supporting herself.

My purpose here is not to argue one point or another. That was the purpose of the in-class discussion. What I want to point out here is that for the first time, I was able to see the real issue that women and mothers struggle with their whole lives. Women seek education and prepare for a career, and yet keep in mind the possibility that they might never reach their professional goals because of motherhood. Those mothers are satisfied with their choice, but every now and then, perhaps they wish to have been able to do more. I gained a lot of respect for young women preparing for the future, as well as single women and mothers who had to make difficult and decisions.

Even though I grew up with four sisters and a mother, I am starting to understand that there is a whole lot more to womanhood than I ever imagined, hidden in the supressed voices of its own.

As a man, I say that such understanding is humbling.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"Nnnnggghrhnnnhhghrhgh..."

We all know that falling asleep during lecture is bound to happen from time to time. How many times a day do we see Susan gazing into the eternities of the blackboard, her eyes unfocused and her jaw slightly dropped? How about Bobby, whose sloppy notes are used to soak up the pool of drool expanding from the corner of his mouth? How many times have we been Bobby or Susan? The picture below is a scan from my Portuguese workbook. I attend that class at 8:00 AM, and occasionally I behave like the sleepy Susan (thankfully, I usually don't share Bobby's symptoms). Let's take a closer look. You may need to click on the image to see the full resolution.


1. I fill in the first blank, and then a sudden heaviness falls upon me and disturbs my equilibrium. I fill in the second blank, though not without significant effort. I circle the vowels several times, just to be certain that I wrote the word correctly.

2. Realizing that I am losing consciousness, I snap awake and answer the question with a sudden burst of energy. All is not right, however. My handwriting fades as I progress through the Sentence. The sentence, translated as, "the children didn't know that the adults were tired," beautifully foreshadows of the next stage,

3. complete unconsciousness.

4. ...

5. Caught in transit between Neverland and BYU (accessible via pixie dust), I attempt to copy the answers as they float by me. The writing is difficult. I don't want to write. I just want to fly. Fly and think happy thoughts.

"When I was young I always went to bed at 8:00 O'clock."

6. My last happy thought fades and I touch down at BYU. Still not quite fully conscious, however, I'm hit with a bout of dyslexia and write not Portuguese, but Greek.

"Where did you get such beautiful pants?"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

An Introduction to Chemistry

In nearly every science class I have taken the professor has reproduced the exploding balloon experiment, much to my satisfaction. This time, I snapped a couple photos.


Notice the burn marks on his shirt. Where did they come from?










:)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Not Another Melodrama.

I was feeling mellow tonight and was tempted to write a long, melodramatic reverie, but I decided to read from my most silly creation instead. It's one of those lengthy questionnaires that your friends send you during the summer instead of calling or writing about what's new in their lives. I received this one on "21:00, April 24, 2005" and finished "14 July 2006 2:52 AM." Here are some excerts of my 15-month project.

8. Favorite Movie:
CITIZEN KANE!
Considered by many to be the best film ever made, this is the story of Charles Foster Kane. The film opens with a long shot of Xanadu - the private estate of one of the world's richest men. In the middle of the estate is a castle. We see, inside the castle, a dying man examining a winter scene within a crystal ball. As he drops it, it smashes, and one word is heard - "Rosebud..." What follows are pieces of newsreel-like footage detailing how Kane amassed his fortune, and turning around full circle at the end.

Actually, I've never seen it before, but wow, it has, "kane" in the title, and KANES ARE SO COOL.
CLICK HERE TO SEE AN AWESOME KANE

***Please don't click this old link. Apparently, it has spyware now.


19. What is your point of view on LIFE:
Man I hate this game. I always end up being sterile or having too many kids to fit in the car, and I have to squeeze them in but then I lose some while traveling. And one time while playing in the park, some inconsiderate child threw a watermelon at me. It broke and made a big mess. BUT THE TAXES! DON'T GET ME STARTED ON THE TAXES. And sometimes I eat donuts while playing.


24. Laughed So Hard You Peed Your Pants:
No, but I've peed so hard that I laughed.


****Girls Fill Out About Guys****

These sections are really stupid, so I'm going to simplify it.

31. Tall or Short:32. Nice Car or has Money:33. Six-pack or Muscular arms:34. Body or Personality:35. Ear Pierced or not:36. Sporty or Outdoorsy:37. Good Guy or Bad Guy:38. Long hair or short:
ARE YOU A SHALLOW GIRL? No.

****Guys fill Out About Girls****
40. Tall or Short:41. Long Hair or Short:42. Dark or Light Eyes:43. Light / Dark Hair:44. Ears Pierced or Not:45. Curly or Straight Hair:46. Good Girl / Bad Girl:47. Hair down or up:48. Sporty or Classy: ARE YOU A SHALLOW GUY? No.


*******Which One Is Better****

50. Coke or Pepsi: **NEWSFLASH** COKE AND PEPSI ARE THE SAME THING, AND THE COMPANY CEO IS ACTUALLY GEORGE BUSH, WHICH IS WHY COKE/PEPSI LOOK AND TASTE LIKE OIL. NOT LIKE APPLE JACKS, WHICH IS FALSE ADVERTISING.

ahahahah more fiction again. I am on a roll.

51. kFC or McDonald: I will answer this when I figure out who kFC and McDonald are.

52. Cats or Dogs: I saw a movie once called Milo and Otis. It was a heartwarming story about a cat and a dog that wandered through the wilderness together in order to find their way home. In the end, Otis (the cat) died, and milo ate him. The cat was very nutritious, so Milo made it home alright and became the fave family pet. So yea, dogs.


******Favorite******

65. Place to hang out: Nicklecade, where all the ladies go.

66. What Do You Want To Be: more ambiguous than these questions.


69. Favorite Days Of The Week: FUNDAY! Quailman made it. Really, it was on Doug, but my boss still gets mad at me and tells me I am missing shifts. I tell her that there are eight days in the week, but I guess she is slow and hasn't caught on.

72. Does it matter to you what people think about you? Only if they have a gun or a pair of tongs.

73. Who Is Most likely not to send this back: Me, because I don't usually reply to my own mail.
That's it folks. Congratulations, you have now seen into my 2005-2006 personality. I hope you enjoyed the view.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wait, Wait... Don't Mind Me

I walked around campus today while listening to "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me" on my mp3 player. As enjoyable as it was, I will probably not do it again. Wherever I went, people looked at me, puzzled by my dumb grin and suppressed laughter.

The episode included interviews with comedians as well as jokes about Sesame Street. Sesame Street! How was I to stay composed?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Charles Darwin re-united me with old friends.

I've always been fascinated by the lives of great scientists and thinkers. Today was Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, and BYU had a special lecture in his memory. The lecture was enlightening, but most memorable for me was waiting in line to get a piece of birthday cake after the lecture.

In the line I met a girl that I had gone to high school with and had not seen for several years. I was also standing next to a friend that I lived with in Helaman Halls during my freshman year. Those two are both biology majors and began to chat. Soon after this meeting I found someone that served in my same mission and who happens to be in my ballroom dance class. Just then, two more friends from high school arrived on the scene and joined our conversation. Those two began talking with my mission friend and discovered that they had a mutual friend from Massachusetts that served a mission in Guatemala, where one of them served. As my mission friend left he signaled to my friend from freshman year, indicating that they also knew each other.

We all have many friends and acquaintances, and running into them unexpectedly is not uncommon. The fusion of social circles, however, is a peculiar experience. I often forget that the mental compartmentalization of persons is no more than the brain's attempt of organizing data and does not necessarily represent the possibility or impossibility of certain social interactions.

I traveled through five years of history in a matter of minutes as I conversed with these friends from the different periods of my life. I looked at each of them individually, then collectively, and thought, "These people represent my life." Not entirely, but they make up a significant portion. Neat!

I imagine that funerals must be very similar, except you aren't available to make introductions. Unfortunately, forcing different social circles together without a common, living link is just awkward. Heck, it's usually awkward even with an introduction! Maybe I can hold my funeral before I pass on to make the occasion enjoyable for all. It would be wholesome fun, and everyone would be invited. Then, when I really die, everyone will already be friends so they can focus on me instead of feeling awkward around each other.

That's probably still a long ways off, though, so in the meantime I'll keep making friends and preparing for my living funeral preparation party. If you're reading this, you're invited.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Happy, Brazilian Surprise

Remember how I said that I didn't think I was eligible to apply for the study abroad, but I would speak with someone just in case? Well, I spoke with someone, and it worked. I'm going to Brazil on June 22.

While I'm there I'll take two classes and visit many historic sites around the country. Our group will be centralized in São Paulo, but we will go as far as Rio de Janeiro and Bela Horizonte. I've been told that we will also see the Iguaçu falls, as pictured here.



I expect to see rainbows just like this. I bet they're permenant.



I know I sound nonchalant about this, but I couldn't be more excited. When I found out that I was accepted I could hardly contain myself. I wanted to dance around campus and shout glad tidings to every creature. I probably would have, had I not had to work. I still shared a brief vocal outburst with a friend, but I mostly kept it in. I was floating the rest of the evening.

Thoughts of Steve Carell from Get Smart flashed through my mind as I sought a way to express my contentment.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Eyeballin'

I'm going to tell you about the risotto that I made tonight. It changed my life. After taking the first bite, I threw back my head and shouted for joy. It was euphoria.

I looked in the fridge, hoping that the dishes from the Food Network would be inside. Instead, I saw a container of cooked rice and a container of sauce. It wasn't the lamb burger wrapped in prosciutto that I was wishing for, but it was a start.

The sauce was made with a jar of pasta sauce and a can of creme de leite (table cream). I first poked a hole in the can of cream and drained the liquid, leaving a nice, thick cream. I then added the cream to the pasta sauce, heating on the stove.

So, here is what I did... Are you excited? Isn't food exciting?!

I sliced and cooked an Italian sausage in a frying pan, and then I added the rice and sauce. I added some oregano, and when it was finished, I sprinkled it with an Italian blend of shredded cheese. Simple! And yet, it was one of the most delectable dishes I have ever designed. Try it today!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What's in a name, anyway?

I've had many nicknames over the years, but few of them have stuck. Here are the ones that I can remember.

Michael, Michael Motorcycle - Some poetry-loving kids called me this in elementary school. I never rode a motorcycle, but it sure sounds cool.

Michelle - Derogatory. Used by mortal enemies. Annoying enemies. Annoying, stupid, detestable enemies. No offense to girls named Michelle. It's a nice female name.

Woody - A classic. A few of my friends in Massachusetts said that I look like him too. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Jalepeño - "He's small and red and packs a punch!" I was shorter then.

Cuz - A friend of mine calls me this because we found out that our grandmothers were second cousins. True story!

Enemy - A different friend had a shirt that said, "I am not the enemy." I insisted that he was, and from that moment we were. Whenever we saw each other, we shouted, "ENEMY!" and grimaced, while shaking a fist in the air.

Wizowski - My roommates call me this today to avoid confusion with another Mike.

Woodpile - My 8th grade Spanish teacher thought this was funny. I never understood.

Michael Jackson Tiger Woods - The best of both worlds. A Brazilian man came up with this one and was absolutely tickled.

Elder Wood Face - That same Brazilian man came up with this one too. In Portuguese, a common phrase is "cara de pau." It translates to "face of wood" and is used to describe someone with no shame. Cheeky. He translated it to English with the utmost pride.

Krunchy - Upon joining the local DDR community, my best friend chose the alias "Krispy." At that point we wanted to do everything in pairs, so I chose to be "Krunchy." Not my best idea.

Injan Turtle - My old xbox live gamertag. No one picked up the joke.

Woodrow - My MTC professor and fellow missionaries called me this. He was thinking "Wilford Woodruff" but "Woodrow Wilson" came out instead. At any rate, it stuck.

Madeira - Wood, in Portuguese. All the Brazilians in my mission called me this. I like it.

Cheeks - Undoubtedly the most embarrassing. The story involves a copy machine.

and of course...

Carrot Head / Carrot Top

Friday, January 30, 2009

Thinking Green.

I enjoy using air dryers because they make me feel good about myself. The other day I was in the bathroom thinking, "I'm a good person. I'm saving trees by using the air dryer." I smiled and savored the self-righteous moment. Just then, a man exited a bathroom stall and walked out the door behind me.

"Oh."

He saved paper, electricity, and water.

Friday, January 23, 2009

One More Reason to Do Good in School

My freshman year was an important learning experience for me, but it wasn't without a considerable price. Two-and-a-half years later, I'm still paying for the decisions I made as a lazy 18-year-old.

I did not take classes seriously during my second semester at BYU (in part because I was discovering how much I disliked computer science) and earned the stamp of "ACADEMIC WARNING." I felt awful, but I figured that I would come back after my mission, study, and return to "good" standing. No big deal, right?

Today a woman came to my Portuguese class and announced that the study abroad program was seeking to fill two openings for classes in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The program would be at the end of this summer and would last approximately six weeks. I requested more information and began the application process when I got home from work.

The more I learned about the program the more excited I became. I've wanted to go to Brazil ever since I began communicating with Brazilians, but before now I hadn't done any more than dream about it. The prospect of studying abroad changed things. It seemed reasonable and within my reach. Could I really make it there by the end of the year, and further my education at the same time? It sounded like a dream come true.

These thoughts were going through my head as I began filling out the application. Then, I read the following words and my heart sank:

"International Study Programs will not accept applicants who are not in good academic or Honor Code standing at Brigham Young University."

Will not accept. Good academic standing. Brigham Young University. The words ripped at me like claws tearing at a healing wound. I understand that the application process is what it claims to be and chances are that I wouldn't be accepted anyway because of my past grades, but to be denied the privilege of being considered was depressing. Maybe I can work something out. I don't know.

In the meantime, I have a GPA to raise. This certainly gives me more motivation to study more this semester.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Life

Kylie, my five-year-old niece, screamed with delight as we slid down the cabin driveway on a broken, gray sled. When the sled came to a stop Kylie jumped off my lap and with the most sincere enthusiasm, yelled, "Let's do that again!"

I picked up the sled and with slightly less energy, followed her up the hill. She walked proudly with her chin pointed to the sky. Her eyes were not aimless, but focused, as in deep thought. She stopped and turned towards me, and said with a smile, "I'm living the life."

:)

Yes, Kylie. You are.

Thinking of things in Lime Canyon.

It's 12:40 AM and it's been a long weekend, but Patrick says I need to update my blog. So here I am.

I commemorated Martin Luther King (Jr.) day by going snowmobiling in the mountains, where there was an impressive lack of colour. There were a few brown (or were they red?) pines, and a lot of gray scrub oaks, but the majority was white. A bright, endless, sea of white. It spread in every direction, washing out all the other colors, or perhaps absorbing them.

The sun shone brightly and we felt its heat as we rode through the canyon. The snow felt it too and began to melt under its influence. Here and there, little patches of snow fell off of trees, exposing the hidden branches. Blades of grass broke through the layers of ice and reached up toward the sunlight. Senses said that spring was coming, but reason told me that senses was lying. He told me that soon it would snow again, and all this would be forgotten. "Colours and Snow," he said, "cannot exist at the same time."

"Why not?" I asked.

"There are laws of nature that must be obeyed," said reason. "We follow seasons, and seasons doesn't like to mix things."

"Well it sounds like seasons is just lazy," I said.

"Maybe so," replied reason, "but seasons has power. For now, you ain't got nothin' but a dream."

Time passed. Days, months, seasons. Then something happened. Seasons changed. Something, someone, disciplined seasons and seasons began acting like the people wanted seasons to act. Something, someone, some people, somewhere, changed the very laws of nature. Seasons works harder now, but now, all year long, there is a beautiful balance of snow and colour.

"Well, reason, what do you say to that?"

Reason paused, then sighed. He looked up at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "Sometimes the dreamers get lucky!"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Not-so-subliminal messaging

So I walked in Walgreen's tonight and playing on the radio was "I Wanna Be Sedated."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mike vs. The Computer

It's Friday night and Mike just got home after an enjoyable night out. He turns on the computer and opens the web browser.

Mike: "I just want to check my e-mail before going to bed."

The browser loads and Mike begins to navigate.

suddenly...

computer: "*click!* zmmm POWER OFF."

Mike: ...?!

Mike tries to turn the computer on, but the screen remains blank. After a few failed attempts, he gives up and goes to bed.


The Next Day


Mike: "Ah.. it sure is great to sleep for nine hours! Computer, are you ready for the day?"

computer: "No."

Mike: "Aw, come on. Please? I need to write a paper."

computer: "Sorry, I don't feel like doing anything today."

Mike: "Neither do I, but we're in college now and so we have to be responsible."

computer: "Hahaha."

Mike, in an effort to be responsible, drives to his parents' home to solicit the help of his father. His father touches a few things and presses the power button. The computer starts up and runs normally. Could it be running properly?

No.

After running for a few minutes, the computer dies without warning. Fortunately, this time it is more willing to start up. Perhaps it is intimidated by the presence of Mike's father.

Father: "You have an old anti-virus program. Let's try installing this new one."

Mike watches the screen with great anticipation as the installation begins. Everything is running smoothly until...

computer: "click."

the computer dies again.

Mike, his father and the computer: "That's not good."

The computer now refuses to load the operating system normally. Mike starts the computer in safe mode.

computer: "You know, I'm pretty sick and things are just getting worse. Maybe you should just let me die."

Mike: "Shouldn't you be fighting for your life?"

computer: "Perhaps, but what happens after I die?"

Mike: "You'll be replaced by a more cooperative machine."

computer: "American-made?"

Mike: "Most likely."

*pause*

computer: "Then I'm fine with dying."

Mike(angrily): "Why? Because you know I'm going to replace you?"

computer: "Well, Someone's got to save the economy!"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Transition of setting, not lifestyle.

I thought about my life today as a student and compared it to my life as a missionary, and I decided that life hasn't changed much, which pleases me. While the setting and priorities have changed, many things haven't. A routine is still followed, study is still important, service opportunities are still prevalent, and the greatest joy still comes from helping others be happy.

Likewise, failure to do these things results in the same feelings of incompleteness and loneliness experienced by a missionary who has failed to reach his potential. The mission is, in a very real sense, training for life. It is not a detached experience but a pertinent learning process preparatory to the plunge into adulthood. I reflect daily on how wonderful the last two and a half years have been, and how they have helped prepare me for the present.

Let's continue, full speed ahead!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Be kind, but don't be *too* kind.

On a scale of 1-10, I'd say life is pretty darn good! Classes have begun, new friends are being made and old friends have been remembered, and my snow tires are performing like the very persistent gappers of Frip (which I am reading for sociology 111). Well, my tires don't attach themselves to goats, but they stick to the ground real nicely.

I was feeling so good today, in fact, that I forgot that I was in the dark and dreary world and had a somewhat-embarassing moment. I was talking with a girl from my ballroom dance outside after class had ended. It was snowing softly and she said that she had to walk home.

"Oh," I said, "Would you like a ride?"

A little surprised, she stammered, "but it's the opposite of where you need to go!"

"It's not a problem," I replied, not catching the hint.

"Well," she said, "It's pretty outside. I'll just walk."

It was immediately after I said "okay" that I understood what had just happened.
"Aw crud." Maybe I'm still more of a missionary than I thought.

I don't think I'll be dancing with her next week. Ha.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Test of Time.

After a perfect weekend, it's time to start classes. I hope I can prove that I've changed since I was last here. Keep me in your prayers. And if you don't pray, you can think of me during a tribal dance.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

More Gems from the Archive

Happy New Year! Much has happened in the last week, but for now I want to share some extraordinary papers that I found while packing my things today. All grammar and spelling mistakes have been included.

Vocab 9

A common grade-school English exercise is to write summaries or short stories using a list of vocabulary words. It's good, in theory, but forcing so many unrelated words into a single page often produces ridiculous results. Vocab 9 is a prime example.

Romeo and Juliet has some difficult lines, but can be summarized. For example, Romeo tells the nurse to stay and get the tackled stair. What he's saying is meet at a rendezvous point and get a ladder. Poor nurse at this time was teased. The men mustered around her. Juliet thought that the nurse could come at supersonic speeds. Boy was she wrong. When the Nurse returned, she gave a plausible excuse. Juliet grew impatient, because the Nurse wouldn't give her a rejoindery. Whenever the Nurse started to talk Juliet would intervene. This Nurse was old, It seemed like she was unprecedented. After Juliet entreated the nurse, The nurse finally explained. Later In the play, Nurse tries to explain again. Juliet is bemused. When Juliet finds out Tybat's dead, she is irresolute about the situation

Little: The Smart and Dumb Monsters

Written 20 October 1994

Once there were two monsters. One was dumb and his name was Ed. The other was smart and his name was Ned. They always argued who was smarter. Ed thought he was the smartest because he could count to one. Ned knew he was smarter because he could count to a hundred. Even though they argued they were friends.
Scaly Potter

Doodles like this were far too common.



Ghost Writing: Halloween

It's disturbing for me to see that this story is so similar to the ending of The Castle.

One Halloween night a long time ago. Some kids went trick or treating. Their names were mike and eric. when they got home there was nothing inside the house only walls, carpet, and ceilings. They went to a neighbor, but when they went in a monster anserwd the door and said go away! They ran, ran, ran. They saw a haunted house. They went to a witches room. She said your things will be