A Royal Visit

Check out what song the Buckingham Palace military band played to welcome the king of Saudi Arabia:

Via NRO.



Amanda commented earlier about how we didn't seem like cat people. I guess in some ways that is true. I loved dogs first and will always consider myself a "dog person." But cats have some very nice traits. They are a lot less work than dogs, they make less of a mess and they take up less room on the bed. All good things in my book.

We have been doing the dog adoptions about once a month for a while now but we recently added taking care of the cats at PetSmart once a week too. It has quickly become one of my favorite times of the week. And the turnover is really good. I was afraid we were going to see the same cats week after week and it would be depressing. But it seems like every week our favorite cats are gone. This is a good thing, but still just a tiny bit sad for me.

Last week when we went, we decided to take pictures of our current "favorite." His name is D'Artagnan. This turned out to be hard. He is very nice, he loves to be petted, and he loves to play with the feathers on the end of the stick...but he does not like to have his picture taken.

But he calmed down after a bit.

Doesn't he look happy right now?

But really, after a bit he forgot about the camera.

And decided to get back to his favorite activity, playing with Craig.

Another rant against inanimate objects

Oh blog, you are a stress on my life right now. And I don't need anymore, I have personal stress, I have non-personal stress, and now I have blog stress. What is a girl to do with all that stress?

Well, last night I ate it away via a chocolate mint mousse concoction with a group of girl friends at Sweetly Divine. That helped but once I got home the the computer started being mean to me again.

First Blogger doesn't work, then when it finally starts responding to my threats, our internet gets cranky. But only for me, it likes Craig better. It wouldn't work, and I would follow Craig's instructions exactly, while he watched, and it still wouldn't work, then he would take the computer and suddenly, it would work, then he would put it back in my lap and it would stop. It was cruel.

So here I am at work, unable to finish the post I started last night because now I don't have the pictures. But once I get home, I will have the pictures but probably no internet. I'm not really complaining, just letting you know why I haven't said anything lately. I have tried, for the last couple of days, but it won't let me.


A Foray Into the Art World

On Friday we attended a Halloween art auction put on by the students at the USU art department. It was pretty entertaining, there was food, and we even bought some stuff.

This piece caught MacKenzie's eye during the pre-auction preview of items:

She delegated the actual participation in the auction to me. So when this item came up, I bid a couple of times, and the price went up to $6.50. I then sat back and watched the gavel come down upon my auction victory. And MacKenzie thought the item would cost $15. Ha! But wait a minute, someone outbid me? I didn't win? That's what MacKenzie thought, and apparently it was true. The auctioneer confused me. MacKenzie wasn't happy. But if I lost, how do I have a picture of the item? Stay tuned.

My art tastes are a bit different. Here's the item I planned to bid on. A bit reminiscent of the Venus de Milo, no?

Of course, the item wasn't in two pieces during the auction. I wouldn't have spent $3.50 on a broken statue. I won this item, and placed it under my seat. The statue was fine until I left it unattended at the end of the auction, at which time MacKenzie broke it (on purpose? I'll never know). Where was I during this time?

Having tracked down the winner of the apple picture, I headed over to that person as the auction ended to attempt to engage in that classic male activity - buying one's way out of the doghouse. I was able to buy the print for $10, quite a premium over what I could have bought it for an hour earlier. But you do what you have to do.

My, how the tables turned in a short span of time! I went from being a lug who screwed up an auction to a man who had his statue broken. MacKenzie went from being deprived of a piece of art she wanted to one who destroyed my art. But did I used my wronged status to play upon her guilt to my advantage? Of course not; I don't work that way.

I may try to repair my statue, but I'm not sure if it's worth it. Upon closer examination, she's not as hot as I thought she was. And all the important parts of the statue are on the same piece (the left one). The right piece really holds no interest for me.


Photo Phun

Okay, I was just gonna put my picture up there and let it look all pretty but I can't help myself, I want to talk about it. And my mom did ask, so how could I refuse.

I like messing around with all the weird options of photoshop but sometimes wonder why they have certain options. I mean, these are cool, but I can't really think of a use for them, other than this post, that is:

The Original:


Palette knifed:

And my personal favorite - Plastic Wrap. Look, he's all melted:

I think you get my point; they aren't really Christmas card worthy. But on my last picture I messed around and ended up trying fresco. For that picture, it really looked cool and brought out some of the details that were harder to see.



But I wanted it to look real still, so I placed the Fresco over the original and turned its opacity to 70% or so so the background showed through. Combine that with a little cropping and color adjusting and voila!

Presidential Update

I'm not a huge John McCain fan, although I do recall supporting him at the Minnesota caucus I attended in 2000. However, he seems to be clawing his way back into the race. He had the best line in the last GOP debate, and since that's how you win these things, for better or for worse, he got some good media from it. Check this out.

Fred Thompson unveiled his immigration plan this week. I like it. Too often we are told that mass deportation or amnesty are our only two options. I disagree, and so does Fred:
Attrition through Enforcement. Reduce the number of illegal aliens through increased enforcement against unauthorized alien workers and their employers. Without illegal employment opportunities available, fewer illegal aliens will attempt to enter the country, and many of those illegally in the country now likely will return home. Self-deportation can also be maximized by stepping up the enforcement levels of other existing immigration laws. This course of action offers a reasonable alternative to the false choices currently proposed to deal with the 12 million or more aliens already in the U.S. illegally: either arrest and deport them all, or give them all amnesty. Attrition through enforcement is a more reasonable and achievable solution, but this approach requires additional resources for enforcement and border security.

I also like this:
End Sanctuary Cities by cutting off discretionary federal grant funds as appropriate to any community that, by law, ordinance, executive order, or other formal policy directs its public officials not to comply with the provisions of 8 USC 1373 and 8 USC 1644, which prohibit any state or local government from restricting in any way communications with the Department of Homeland Security regarding the immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of an alien in the United States.


Education - It's a beautiful thing

In Craig's post below, he mentioned our looking for an apartment. You learn so much in the process. Such as, when you call the landlord of a location and before he picks up, you hear coming out of the phone "I'm in love with a stripper," run, quickly, that is not the type of place you (or really anyone who is not currently on meth) would like to live.

He leadeth me...

He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul ~ Psalm 23:2-3

This spot in Zion is at the end of the Emerald Pool hike. You are walking through a dry desert area and just as you are beginning to think this whole "Emerald pool" is just a great big trick, you get to a narrow region then end up in a little dead end nook with a little pond. It is quiet and pretty and calm. Yet the canyon is still huge, look how little Craig is in comparison to the surroundings. I loved it and I love this picture.


Free Taco

Some Red Sox player just stole a base, so we all get a free taco between 2 and 5 pm on Tuesday, October 30. For you Cache Valley residents, here's the place:

View Larger Map

Looking for New Digs

Does anyone happen to know where we can find an apartment or other such housing that:
  • Will let us have a cat,
  • Costs $500 or less, and
  • Is not in a sketchy neighborhood?
Thanks for any tips you can provide.


Law & Order Unhinged

I'm a fan of the Law & Order shows (with the exception of Criminal Intent, with its weirdo characters). SVU has been my favorite for several years. However, SVU has gone off the rails the last two episodes, straying from its normal focus on domestic crime and punishment to attempt to make political statements. Last week, the theme of the show was that the Patriot Act sucks. This week was all about the brutal torture our government engages in.

To drive home the point this week, the producers trotted out the sad, slow music and the heartbreaking stories from torture "victims." Except I was less than moved when I heard the people talk about such horrors as:
  • Having an air conditioner turned on near them.
  • Having to wear a hood.
  • Having water administered via IV until they peed themselves.
It definitely did not have the intended emotional effect upon me.

Normally, in shows like this, you have a character or two offer the opposing viewpoint, if only weakly. In this case, it was Detective Stabler, and it was very weak. For the first part of the show, he seemed to realize that these activities are far from torture. But by the end of the show, Stabler, who beats up prisoners every other episode (although he's apparently calmed down this season), was claiming that "torture" doesn't work "9 times out of 10."

Dr. Wong gave a good defense of the psychologist who helped design and supervise the techniques, but Dr. Warner was in high dudgeon about her "betrayal of medical ethics." And very little discussion took place during the episode about what the people that were being "tortured" did or knew to receive such treatment.

Normally, when one decides to abandon a TV show, it is only after months of declining episode quality and dwindling personal interest. However, I am but one episode of left-wing ranting away from having an hour open up on my Tuesday night schedule.

Harry Potter Discussion

Rachel wrote a post. I commented. She responded to my comment in Part 2 of this post. It's an interesting dialog so check it out.

WFMW: Pandora's (Music) Box

I don't own a lot of cds and most of them are from my early teen years so they aren't exactly the type of music I like to listen to now. Not that NSYNC didn't have some catchy tunes, but I have matured just a bit with my musical taste. And I'm really into itunes or downloading stuff, I did back when Napster was at it's peak but now that it costs money, not so much. I have an mp3 player but stopped using it after I graduated and no longer had to walk around campus. But I like to listen to music, so what's a girl to do?

Enter Pandora Radio. It's an online radio station that is Way Cool! It's free, It's easy, It's portable, kinda. You create an account that allows you to log in from any computer (well, w/ internet access). Then you create stations based off of a song or artist and give it a name. Pandora will play similar songs and you give them a thumbs up or down depending on whether you like them (or like them for the station...I like Garth Brooks but if he someone came up in my Oldies station, I would say thumbs down). You can have a bunch of stations and even do a "Quick Mix" where it plays songs from whichever of your stations you want.

Here are my stations, names and what they play:

Country - Shockingly, it plays Country Music
Poodle Skirt - Older Oldies (Buddy Holly, Chubby Checker, Everly Brothers)
I wish I was in High School - Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson
Sentimental - Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald
Beatles - Newer Oldies (mostly the Beatles, sometimes Elton John)
Dentist - Michael Bubble, Josh Groban

It's great for work but I also like to listen at home when the real radio isn't cutting it. Our valley's radio selection stinks when it comes to music so that happens a lot. And I normally create a Christmas station sometime in November then delete it in January. That way I get to listen to a variety of Christmas music without having to pay for a bunch of songs or cds.

And that is what works for me. Check out more WFMW here.


Redeeming Love

I finished my Francine Rivers book already and I think that is all the library has by her :-( . (Question - Does it bother anyone else to put a period after a emoticon, I feel like I just gave the little guy a zit, but can I leave the sentence with no punctuation?) She is such a great writer and every time I finish one of her books, I want to find another. I don't normally read "Christian fiction" because for the most part, well, they are lame. But there are a few exceptions to that and Rivers is one of them.

I really liked the one I just finished but I think my favorite is still "Redeeming Love". If you haven't read "Redeeming Love" you should, right now. I mean, why are you reading this post when you can be reading such an amazing book instead? I find it odd that she took some heat on this book because not all of it was considered "appropriate" by some of the Christian women who read it. It retells the story of Hosea but in Gold Rush times. That's right, the Bible story of Hosea, the prophet who God tells to marry a prostitute. So in the book, a farmer marries a prostitute (gasp!) who not so surprisingly, comes with some baggage (gasp!). So yes, there are some people sinning in this book. Why is that a bad thing?

She doesn't write like a bunch of other Christian fiction writers seem to. With happy endings in which a person accepts Jesus and never has any worries or cares or problems ever again. And heaven forbid there would be any mention of things like sex or even kissing in a book about a man marrying a prostitute. Despite the fact that the book is based on a Bible story. The Bible is a book that leads us to God, so it shows humans why they need God... because they sin. And the story of Hosea, and Redeeming Love, is an allegory. Hosea unconditionally loves his prostitute turned wife just like God unconditionally loves his children. It wouldn't be a very good story if the wife was amazingly wonderful person who never made any mistakes. As you read the book (Bible or Rivers) you are amazed by Hosea's love for his wife when she seems to be making all these awful decisions that keep hurting him. And then you realize that we do that to God on a daily basis. So those critical people should just go away.

I would feel differently if she put "bad" stuff into her book just to be shocking or because she thinks the worlds in awful place full of nothing but suffering. You know the kind, where everything just ends with no purpose to the sufferings or hardships, no hope for the characters. So many secular fiction writers seem to do that and those books are just depressing.

No, her stories are real. In the real world, sometimes crappy stuff happens that you can't change. People made bad decisions and sometimes they have to live with those consequences, and sometimes the consequences affect other people without the original person even knowing about it. In her books, not everyone becomes a Christian by the end of the story, not every problem is solved. Just like in real life - we all will have crappy stuff to deal with because we are living in a world full of sinners, us included. But those who love God know that even when they have problems, he is there with them. And that is what makes such a difference.


Blogger Frustrations

The last three times I have tried to upload pictures, Blogger has gone all beserk. Each time I have had to come back later and try again and again until it finally works. It's taken up to 24 hours to post a picture. At first I thought it was something I was doing to the pictures but then it started getting mad when I even pushed the "Add Image" button. On the one hand that makes me feel better since now I know it can't be my pictures, but it is also frustrating because I can do nothing to fix the problem. Why is being like this!!! How am I supposed to be witty and entertaining without pictures?

Costume Craziness

Apparently, Craig and I are still getting used to some of our differences and how we will compromise. I am a planner, I like to know about things WAY in advance. Craig, is more spontaneous and carefree and can change his plans in a blink of an eye. We know this in theory but sometimes we don't remember to keep it in mind.

A couple weeks ago the church mentioned our Fall Party. Halloween is a big day for Lutherans. Well, not Halloween itself but Oct 31st. Oct 31st, 1517 was the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenburg. So next Saturday we are gonna be partying big time at the "Welcome to Wittenburg" party.

When it was first mentioned, costumes were also mentioned as an option. Craig and I talked about a couple of ideas but when I tried to get it narrowed down and decide on an official plan, Craig was said, "Oh, we have plenty of time". Then he never mentioned it again so I figured we were not gonna do the whole costume thing. Well, we actually put our name down on the list this week as attending and bringing a side dish and no sooner than the i was dotted, Craig asked what we would be wearing.

AHHH! Try to put two costumes together in less than one week! Why didn't he mentioned this to me yesterday when I could have spent the whole day working on them instead of sewing a tote (a very cute tote but that isn't the point). Does he now know me at all?! I can't just throw stuff together and be done with it. I have to buy fabric and draw out a design and do it right. I know that makes me a crazy person because it should be easy to put together a Bible costume. The only thing simpler is a ghost but still, it got me all flustered because I want it to be good. I have actually won awards for my biblical costumes in the past and I can't let my reputation be tarnished.

I am breathing again and we have decided who we are going to be. It should be cute, and by that I really mean we picked someone for me that allows me to be cute, and if we get the supplies by Tuesday, I think I can come up with enough time to work my magic. If so, you might see pictures. If not, too bad for your need for a visual, it just won't happen.


Painful Flowers

Life is finally calming down around here. We slightly overbooked our schedules and it has been stressing me out. Not only did we have a lot going on, but most of it was all in a row, Sunday through Tuesday, without a single night to recuperate. But our Tuesday classes our over now and soon our Sunday stuff will be too. That leaves just Monday and Thursday with activities and plenty of down time for reading and crafts which makes me happy.

Not that I didn't enjoy Tuesday nights. I did. Craig was taking a dutch oven cooking class and I was taking a stained glass class. I actually met my goal of finishing my piece. I knew if I didn't get it done during the class, it would sit around almost finished for a long time. And I guess it was a harder goal that I thought; I ended up being the only person in the class to finish. Here it is:

Isn't it pretty? It better be, lots of blood, sweat and tears went into it. Okay, not sweat but I'm not kidding about the blood and tears. I'm not sure if stained glass is a good hobby for one as clumsy as me. I cut myself quite a bit on the little glass shards, stabbed myself with a big chunk of glass, then accidentally touched the soldering iron, twice, leaving a couple nice little blisters on my hands. It was fun. I'm not sure if I want to take the class again and try another piece. There is a big learning curve and I have already put the money into the equipment so the second time would be a lot less expensive and I would get a even better piece out of it. But the time and injuries are not easily dismissed from my mind.

Two New Stations

I surveyed two more weather stations:


and Levan

To date, I have surveyed 5 stations, which is 25% of what's been done in Utah and about 1% of the 420 or so that have been done nationwide. Go me.

For more on this, go here or click on the "Weather" label below.


A Lame Show

So CBS is doing this new show based in Laughlin, Nevada. Isn't that basically a third rate Las Vegas? Sounds kind of boring. Might as well do a show in Des Moines, Iowa.

Oh, and it's a musical drama. Weird.

Guess Who's Back?

Our friend Rachel, that's who. She has returned to blogging following a two-week academic hiatus. Go say hi.


Come on...

You know you want to...

There it is.


Such a happy day!

Normally I feel more compelled to write when I have a bad day but not today. Tons of great stuff happened to me today.

I have been looking for a pair of khaki's for a long time and haven't been able to find a good pair. I just wanted a standard basic pair I could wear to work, even Gap didn't have any that I liked the look of and I was getting so frustrated. But today, after work, I went to D.I. (a Mormon thrift store) and found a pair of J.Crew khaki's in my size! They fit great and are super cute. I would have been happy to have found them at all, let alone for $4. I also got an American Eagle button up shirt for $6. I like button up shirts for work but too often they are boxy and boyish. But this one is a cute blue with little purple and lime strips that looks very girly and the shape works for me. So yeah for D.I. I also got a cute mug for my pencils that will look great in ...

my new cubicle! I have been waiting a couple months to move into my own cubicle and out of the student area. I haven't really minded not having my own space because I am rarely in my office and when I am, the students are normally there, but it is nice to have. I think tomorrow I will go buy a plant to put in there with me. Probably a cactus because I kill plants. For one of our first dates, Craig made me dinner and got me a tulip plant (tulips are my favorite plant). Within two weeks, it was dead. I hid it from Craig for a while but when he finally straight out asked how it was doing...I had to tell him that I had killed our love plant. It was sad moment.

Anyway, back to good stuff. Then I went to the library and they had another Francine Rivers book. I didn't think they had any that I hadn't read but they did! Plus, I got to sit and read magazines which I always like. I don't buy them because they are expensive entertainment as 1 magazine will only last me 30 minutes or so. But that is what is great about libraries.

After the library, I got to talk on the phone with one of my bestest bestest friends. I feel like I am awkward on the phone but I just need to get over that because whenever I talk to my good friends from Texas, I just get to uplifted. It did make me a little sad because I miss hanging out with them all, but it was so nice to catch up.

And when I got home, I found a package waiting for me. It was my new cranberry sweater coat. It's so cute and warm, it's like heaven. Not that heaven is going to be cute and warm but you get the picture. Even with my coupon it was about $85 which is more than I would typically pay for a sweater but not ridiculous by any means. And I figure if I wear it with my khaki's it will balance out. So now I am going to curl up on the couch in my sweater and read my book. The End.


Set your eyes to Zion

I actually wrote this post yesterday but Blogger was being silly so I couldn't post it.

We got back from Zion yesterday and I have to tell ya, we had a great time. I have wanted to go for a long time, ever since I got an Ansel Adams photography book and saw all his amazing pictures of it. It was amazingly beautiful.

The weather could not have been better. It was just cold enough that it was nice to sit next to a fire and dinner and breakfast but not cold during the day, but there was only one time when we were kinda hot and that was during the middle of the day during the middle of a long hike. And the campsite was full but early in the morning when we did our two big hikes, there was no one around most of the time - yah! Nothing spoils my enjoyment of nature like having to listen to some guy talk about his kidney stones. We did have to listen to a couple of annoying people on the bus but overall, my level of annoyance with others humans was pretty low. And I ended up really liking the bus system they have there. I was afraid it would be a hassle and waste a lot of my time but it was such a time saver. No traffic, it took us right to where we wanted to go, and pointed out some interesting features on the way.

It was also the perfect opportunity to really try out my camera since I don't really count taking pictures of onion soup mix as a good test run. I just installed my new Photoshop today so I haven't really worked with many of the pictures yet. I will post a few now but they will probably start popping up throughout the next week or two. Unless I get too frustrated with my lack of ability to do exactly what I want and break the computer.

Here is Craig at the beginning of our first hike, demonstrating to me how exactly I should NOT act on the edge of a cliff. Because the sign wasn't good enough.

This is me in front of a waterfall at the Lower Emerald pools. Since it was so late, some were more like Puke Green Mud Puddles but the waterfall was still cool and the higher pools were still pretty and emerald-like.

This is the Court of Patriarchs, a set of three mountains named by a Methodist minister. From left to right it is Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I thought the informative sign by the lookout was funny, it said an easy way to remember the mountains is that they are in alphabetical order. Note to sign - they are also in genealogical order. In front of them (far right) is another mountain named Moroni, a figure in the B of M.

Here is a little lizard friend we met on our travels.

Here is us in front of checkerboard mesa. It was pretty but neither one of us really saw the checkerboard. It was getting nippy out, hence the rigid postures.

But the main reason we had so much fun - it was because Utah Rocks!