Brace Yourself

Are you sick of hearing about global warming, or climate change, or whatever it's called now? I sure am. But it's only going to get worse. Al Gore's starting up a 3-year, $300 million global warming ad campaign. Can you imagine how many commercials, magazine ads, etc. you can buy for that much money? This will make the presidential campaign look like a modest event. I'm sick of that campaign too, but I suspect that once Gore's project begins, I'm going to be begging for Obama commercials, or anything else to just make it stop.


Economic Woes

The economy has been much in the news lately, but I haven't been personally affected a whole lot by the downturn. I don't own a house, nor do I have a mortgage, so the major concern of the day does not pertain to me. If anything, the house-related activity I'm nearest to is purchasing one, so the downturn is good for me in that houses are getting cheaper. The decreased availability of mortgages may be a concern, but that's all a few years off. Also, my credit score probably isn't bad, although I haven't spend the $8 necessary to find out what it is.

The stock market has dropped over the last 6 months or so, which has affected my IRA, but I won't need that for 40 or so years, so no big deal. Like the housing price drop, this is rather good for me, because stock market downturns are great buying opportunities (as long as one maintains a diversified portfolio, of course)

Also, I haven't lost my job or anything. There is, however, one area where the economic situation has affected me, and it's this:

When I opened this account, that number up there was 5.05%, which is pretty good for a savings account. The current number is still high compared to the interest rate of your average brick-and-mortar bank, but that's not saying much. The interest rate drop is not so much due to the economy itself as it is due to the measures taken to help the economy, i.e. interest rate cuts. While the cuts are good for restoring confidence, spurring investment, etc., they are bad for my savings.

All things considered, though, I guess I can't complain too much.


Vaca Recap - Part 3

I know this post is wwaaayy overdue but every time I went to prepare the picture for it, I got sucked into doing some scrapbooking and before I knew it, I had spent 3 hours on the computer with no post to show for it. So in place of some of the pictures, I'll just put up a scrapbook page. (If they are too small to see, just click to get a full sized view.)

Day 5:
Rick had to leave but on the way to drop him off at the airport, we went to Antelope Island. I was a little worried that it would be boring but it was our only way to see the Great Salt Lake and how can people visit Utah and not see the lake? It was actually quite fun - but also quite windy because there isn't anything to stop the wind.
We were going to picnic but my family has been living in Kentucky and Texas lately so they are weather wimps and couldn't deal with the wind. Instead, we parked facing the beach and ate lunch packed in the car. Despite the name, six passenger cars aren't really meant for six full size people to comfortable sit in them. It was a nice view though so I won't complain too much.
We didn't have time to hike but Craig and I might go back and do some hiking/camping there later this spring. I would love to spend more time taking pictures there.

We did have time to go to the Fielding Garr ranch on the other side of the island to learn a bit more about the recent history of the island. We saw the ranch house, the cellar (where they actually found old liquor bottles; they must've had some crazy times there!) and the barn. That was neat but we had the most fun trying to rope some "calves." You would think growing up around cows, Craig would have been pretty good at it, but he was awful. The rest of us did okay but I don't think we should quit our jobs just yet.
On our way off the island, we had to stop and collect samples of that salty water, and by "we" I mean my dad, Rick and Craig. Ben and my mom wouldn't get out of the car and I only went to take pictures. We water was slightly disgusting with all the little brine shrimp in it. Yuck.
I was going to stop there but I suppose I should tell the truth about this next part. We had some time to kill before Rick's flight so we went to Starbucks to get some coffee. Then we all left, but a certain item was left behind - my purse. I didn't realize until we had gotten all the way back to Logan. Luckily, someone turned it in and they said they would put it in the safe until I could come back and get it.

Day 6:
Craig had to work so my mom, Ben and I hung out at and watched episodes of "A Baby Story" until my loins hurt then we switched over to decorating shows. My dad went back to SLC to pick up my purse (thanks, Dad!). The sign of a good dad is that he is willing to drive 1.5 hours to pick up a purse, walk through a mall carrying said purse, then drive 1.5 hours back. Since he was down there anyway, he decided to do a little genealogy work so it wasn't all for naught but I still don't think that was quite the way he planned to spend the day. When he got back, we met up with Craig in Idaho and went to some hot springs. It was nice and relaxing.

The next day my parent's left and life returned to normal. Overall, it was a nice vacation.


Logan Home to Groundbreaking Study

Study: 93% Of People Talked About Once They Leave Room

The Onion

Study: 93% Of People Talked About Once They Leave Room

LOGAN, UT—From body odor to personal-life details, the groundbreaking study revealed a laundry list of things discussed once most people leave the room.

This study also has a Utah State connection:
"Our findings will come as a great shock to the millions of Americans who have assumed people do not speak derisively about them as soon as they are out of earshot," said Dr. Edward Phillips, a professor of sociology at Utah State University and lead author of the study. "This phenomenon affects nearly everyone. If you have ever feared that people whom you considered to be good friends were mercilessly mocking and insulting you shortly after you left their presence, your fears are almost certainly 100 percent correct."

Who To Cheat With?

In the wake of the Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) prostitution scandal, there was a story in the paper that said that the incident was causing couples to talk about infidelity, standing by your man, loyalty, and other such issues. After reading this article, I decided to start a deep discussion, so I asked MacKenzie the following question:
Would you rather have me cheat on you with A) a prostitute or B) someone else (co-worker, friend, girl from the bar, etc.)?
I don't think that's exactly what the authors of the article had in mind, but whatever. MacKenzie chose option B, because she says option A is more likely to get her infected with diseases. I thought option A would be better from her perspective, because it would merely be a transaction, rather than some kind of emotional experience that could become a long-term affair.

What do you think? Which would be preferable?


Another Weather Station

I'm still plugging away at the weather station project, in which volunteers visit and photograph weather stations and evaluate the sites for heat biases (click on the 'weather' label below for more). Here's the Grace, Idaho station:

The box on the right is the one that measures temperatures. That concrete pad it is standing on probably reflects a fair amount of heat back at the thermometer. Not good. Here's an example of the data a bad placement of a weather station can produce.

WFMW - Fresh Ginger

Have you ever seen this in a grocery store?

It's a ginger "root."Technically it is a rhizome, but if you call it a ginger rhizomes, people will just think you're weird. For a long time, I knew what it was but when passed by it in the grocery store, I gave it a look of suspicion. It weird and bumpy and I assumed it was hard to use and not at all necessary when you can buy dry ginger in the spice aisle.

I was wrong. I finally got some and it's great. The price per pound looks high but I got a good chunk for only 45 cents and considering most recipes call for less than a teaspoon, it will last a good long time. Especially now that I know the handy dandy super easy way to use it. The first time you use it, peel the whole thing. The outside looks tough but it peels real easily so don't worry. Then grate off what you need (I used a microplane zester but I think a regular grater would work fine too). Then, here is the neat part, put the rest in a plastic baggie and throw it in the freezer. Whenever you need it again, you can take it out and grate it, while it is still frozen and put it back again for the next time! So simple.

And it tastes much better than regular ginger. I used some this week in this marinade (which, by the way is very tasty and has to be the only Paula Deen recipe that doesn't call for any butter). Later this week, I am going to try it in my stir fry. I have heard that fresh ginger is what turns a average stir fry into an incredible stir fry so I am excited about that. And that is what works for me!


Good, better, best?

I love the line in the Incredibles where the mom says "Everyone's special, Dash" to which Dash replies "Which is another way of saying no one is." It reminds me of how people are afraid to call something good, because that might mean you are saying the opposite is bad. Or why no one wants to label something "the best" (commercials being the exemption) because that might mean the alternative is something less than the best. Why does our society have such a problem with that?

Lately I have been seeing a number of these situations, and it's frustrating. Maybe an example or two would clear things up.

- Breastfeeding. Studies show that breast milk is the best thing you can feed your child. Even formula ads say so, albeit in fine print for only a few seconds, but if you look, it is there. That being said, there are a number of situations where that isn't possible (mom needing to be on meds that can be passed through to the baby, not producing enough milk, multiples, adoption situations, to name a few). Luckily there are formulas available for times like that. But almost every time I see any study or post citing the benefits of breastfeeding, I see lots of comments saying that all that information is doing is making women who don't breastfeed feel guilty about it.

But breastfeeding isn't really what I want to talk about today, it is just an example of society's dislike of classifying something as better than something else. The impetus for this post came from this slate article that highlights some data regarding children born out of wedlock. The point of the article is that a child does best in a home with a father and a mother that are married to each other. Shocking, but true!

Apparently, this article has stirred up some controversy and just a quick search on my part brought up a number of rebuttals blasting Emily Yoffe for having written such a "moralistic and judgmental" article, spouting "How dare she say that a single mom can't raise children without them ending up as poor, ignorant criminals." Now, if you read the article you will see she said no such thing. But the fact that she says one situation (married two parent home) is better than another (single parent) apparently means she is an evil person.

I'm not really surprised to find anti-family articles on the mothers who also happen to be lesbian site I ended up on. I was however, surprised at a comment on Boundless, a Christian blog I frequent. This comment, which is now mysteriously gone so you will just have to believe me that it did exist, talked about an a circumstance where the mother could have married the father but he was a selfish, juvenile, jerk who wouldn't have made a good father so isn't it better than she didn't and included complaints that you can't judge a mother and say she isn't a good parent when you don't know the circumstances. The Boundless article wasn't saying we should go around judging single mothers, pointing our fingers and yelling "heathen" at them. It was simply saying that it is nice when studies back up biblical truths.

I get annoyed at this when I see it in the media or on a secular blog, [or a lesbian mom website :-], but I can let it roll of my shoulders relatively well. When I see today's Christians responding that way however, I get really frustrated because not only do I think in many of these cases it ends up with those people accepting the world's opinions over God's truth, I think it hurts our witnessing opportunities and ability to love those around us.

Let's take the example of single parenting. First off, I will say that I think single parenting is not God's design for raising children. However, we live in a fallen world and it happens. So what should Christians and the church do about it?

a) Ignore it
b) Say it isn't a big deal and kids raised in single homes are just as well off as kids in a married, two parent home.
c) See it as yet another consequence of living in a world full of sin and use it as an opportunity to show God's love to that family.

I think c. While I don't know of any Bible verses that speak of single parents, if we see them as a less than ideal situation, I think we can easily put them into the same category as widows and orphans. And God obviously has a special spot in his heart for those in need:

Psalms 68:5 - A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

And if we look at these verses, I think we get a good picture of how we are commanded to treat them as well:

Psalms 82:3 - Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.

James 1:27 - Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

So guess what? God wants us to show love to them! (This post is just full of shocking statements, isn't it?) Amanda Cate wrote this great article that mentions just a few of the ways we can help single moms and show them love through our actions. Most of her ideas, which include offering rides, babysitting, meals, or a chance for adult conversations, don't involve more than a little time and thoughtfulness but can make a big impact in someone's day.

But if single parenting is just another of the many suitable options a person has when choosing what type of family they want, why should we as Christians go out of our way to help and encourage them? If a two parent home isn't better than a single parent home why would they need any extra encouragement? One of the main purposes of the church is to encourage one another in our struggles, and if keeping God's ideal in mind helps us to see areas where people are struggling, why is that a bad thing?

On the other hand, if you find yourself judging someone because the circumstances they find themselves in aren't God's ideal, you had better than a look at yourself, cause I'm pretty sure your aren't God's ideal either. I know I'm not. We all are in need of His mercy and love. But as I said, God has a special spot in his heart for all those in need. Hallelujah for that.

Nothing Like the Real Thing

I've always wondered why vegetarians eat fake meat. You know, like tofu hot dogs or tofurkey. If you want to be vegetarian, go ahead and embrace it. Be proud of your meatless lifestyle. Don't try to fit in by pretending you're eating meat. It makes you look sad.

On a similar vein, we see Utah State's student council sponsoring Root Beer Pong. Just like beer pong, only with root beer. If you don't want to drink, or don't believe in drinking, why pretend you are drinking, or that you are playing drinking games? Embrace your alcohol-free lifestyle. Don't try to fit in with "normal" college students. It makes you look kind of pathetic.


Emma: A Review

I have so many posts I need to do including the third (and final, I promise) vaca recap but I have to postpone those till another day for I have to write about the latest M.T. Austen film. This week it was Emma.

I have to confess that I love love love the Gwyneth Paltrow (GP) version. It was my first taste of anything Jane Austen related so I have a hard time criticizing it at all, even if I should. But I did try really hard not to dislike this movie just because it was different. And I succeeded, mostly.

The Good:
I like Emma. She was played a little different that Gwyneth did but again, that is okay with me. She seemed a bit less intelligent, a bit more silly and since that is what makes Emma, Emma I can't really complain about it especially since she does it in a way that still makes Emma seem likable and kind. And she was great in the scene where she does NOT tell Harriet how to respond to Mr. Martin's proposal! Harriet was good too, I liked how she was more of a pretty, sweet, but very naive young lady as opposed to so clumsy and stupid.

Frank Churchill was also good. I like Ewan in the original, but I think I liked him too much since you aren't really supposed to like him all that much. He isn't really a bad guy, just selfish and you should notice his lack of character and ill treatment of Jane Fairfax and Emma. In this version, you really could so I give him thumbs up.

The Bad (or maybe just not as good):

Miss Bates was not nearly ridiculous enough for me but I do believe it is the comparison that is doing this version in for me. In the GP version, the Miss Bates was so great. Very amiable yet very silly. This time she just talked a lot but it wasn't the same.

Mr. Elton was not nearly ridiculous enough for me either, again it's the comparison. Mr. Elton is a lot like Mr. Collins, although not quite that bad. It is a good thing Jane had Edward Ferris become a minister or I would have though she disliked clergymen altogether. But until his weird proposal, he seemed like a nice fellow. And while Emma is supposed to be oblivious to his real character, I think the audience shouldn't be shielded from that. Even after his refusal, he didn't seem mean, just a little hurt from being snubbed as would be expected. Mrs. Elton could have been better too. The only reason I thought she was insufferable was because Emma kept telling me so. Her one good scene was at the picnic when she got all mad at being told what to do.

The Ugly:

Mr. Knightley. Yes, he was not as attractive as Jeremy Northam but that could have been overlooked. And while I do love the GP version of him, enough to name my cat Mr. Knightley, it wasn't that Jeremy was better, it was that this versions was just bad.

He and Emma didn't seem to have much of a friendship at all. Where was the witty banter? And he gets mad at her too often. Yes, he is supposed to get upset after she insults Ms. Bates but the other times he is supposed to teasingly criticize Emma's faults but remain levelheaded and calm. He didn't remain level headed and calm so he just came off as grouchy and mean. Plus, he isn't enough in the story and the conversations. He seemed almost like an outsider of the community when he is really supposed to be the one they all look up too, the ideal gentleman, the man every man wants to be, the man every woman wants to marry. He summons his carriage for the poor old maid, he dances with the snubbed girl even though he dislikes dancing, he sends people meat and fixes their glasses. He may have done some of those things in this version, but they didn't seem to contrast his character with Frank Churchill's enough even though with this better Frank it should have been easier to see what a great guy Knightly was. Badly done.

The dream moments when Emma imagines people getting married or when Frank Churchill's picture comes alive were just weird and I didn't like them at all.


White, Kind of Like Me

I did a post over at the KVNU blog about Barack Obama's comment on the "typical white person." He seemed to state that his white grandma is scared of minorities, like all white people. In order that he may better understand white people, I'd suggest he check out the website "Stuff White People Like." While it covers mainly things that liberal white people who are trying to be trendy, snobby, environmentally-conscious, and diverse like, it is humorous. Here are some highlights:
  • Recycling is a part of a larger theme of stuff white people like: saving the earth without having to do that much.
  • The Toyota Prius might be the most perfect white product ever. It’s expensive, gives the idea that you are helping the environment, and requires no commitment/changes other than money.
  • Whole Foods: Many white people consider shopping at Whole Foods to be a religious experience, allowing them feel good about their consumption. The use of paper bags, biodegradable packaging, and the numerous pamphlets outlining the company’s policy on hormones, genetically modified food and energy savings. This is in spite of the fact that Whole Foods is a profit driven-publicly traded corporation that has wisely discovered that making white people feel good about buying stuff is outrageously profitable.
  • Public radio: White people have an uncanny ability to make the ordinary exciting and there is no better forum than public radio to best showcase this.
MacKenzie and I are each guilty of having/doing one thing that White People Like. For MacKenzie, it's Kitchen Gadgets:
But, in order for them to truly enter into whitedom, they need to own the holy grail of white kitchens - the kitchen aid stand mixer. They will match this mixer to their kitchen’s color scheme and it will make up the focal point. And much like many religious artifacts, it will remain untouched for months and even years, sitting on the counter to be admired as a testament to their lifestyle.
For me, it's Study Abroad, which I did in Australia, which is the base level of studying abroad (the trump card, of course, is Tibet).
By attending school in another country, white people are technically living in another country. This is important as it gives them the opportunity to insert that fact into any sentence they please. “When I used to live in [insert country], I would always ride the train to school. The people I’d see were inspiring.”
I would suggest that all of you, as well as Obama, check this site out to learn about how (liberal) white people operate.


Vaca Recap - Part 2

Day 4:
Saturday we headed off to Hardware Ranch, where the state of Utah feeds a few hundred Elk each winter. You can take sled rides around the area while they talk about the elk and what happens at the ranch. Don't worry Craig, elk aren't carnivores.
Then here are my parents and Ben, who aren't afraid of the elk, but who are apparently afraid that the camera will suck their souls out. Either that or some elk is being awful crazy behind them. It was the last day it was open for the season so we were lucky, both to make it before it closed, and because being that late in the winter the elk were starting to shed their antlers. This poor guy was all lopsided, hopefully he will lose the other one soon. This is a girl so she didn't have any antlers to lose, but she's does look a bit worn out from the winter. I still think she is pretty though and I bet a number of those bulls will soon too.
Because they are being fed, the area is more densely packed than you would find in nature. It is fun for us, but these two guys needed a break from all that commotion so they went to find some solitude by the mountains. Luckily for them, it's not too far of a walk.
And I definitely saved the best for last with these two pictures. Here is Craig doing his Elk Impersonation. I think he's pretty good.
And here we are posing in front of the sled horses. I think Ben referred to that as his "underwear model pose." That boy cracks me up.


Vaca Recap - Part 1

As promised, here is a not-so-quick recap of our week. Now, I will warn you, it isn't for the faint of heart. So if you choose to read all the details, don't say I didn't warn you. It could be potentially very boring and full of family pictures. I haven't written it yet so I couldn't say for sure.

Day 1:
We did a quick tour of downtown, checked out the antique bookstore, the tabernacle area, etc. We also did the famous town "food tour" consisting of Gossner's for some cheese and flavored milk, cox for some tasty honey, ending with the ever delicious Aggie ice cream. I maybe a different type of Aggie, but ice cream is really a food that brings people together. We also went to the di where I did really well, but that isn't really the point. (Although if pressed, I would reveal that I got a American Eagle 3/4 sleeve jean jacket that still had the tags on it, a cute shirt for spring, and a Tommy Hilfiger denim skirt that is the perfect just barely above the knee length - an item I have been looking for almost a year now, it was a good di day.) The older boys (my dad, Craig and my brother Rick) played Quizzo at the bar, those heathens.

Day 2:
Salt Lake City. We split up for the morning with the older boys going to the family history library and working on boring genealogy stuff. Yuck. So Ben, Mom and I went shopping instead. After lunch we met up again and walked around temple square. It was a bit raining that day but we managed to squeeze in a tour between showers. My parents and brothers only knew the basics about the LDS church so it was a good opportunity for them to understand a little more about the different culture Craig and I live in. It was also interesting for me to see things from their view. My mom took the chance to get a few family pictures.
Aren't we cute?
Here is on in front of the temple. She was trying to get both us and the temple in the same picture. It isn't very good (no offense, Mom) but then some older gentleman came and saw we were struggling so he offered his assistance. Here is his picture. It gets all of us and temple in view, but honestly, I'm not sure if it is much better.
On the tour we saw the tabernacle, which was a lot smaller than I thought it would be. We also saw this statue of Jesus. It was quite big.
I hate to be sacrilegious or anything, but doesn't it look like something is wrong with Jesus' chin?I think the two girls giving the tour (or whoever wrote their script) were really afraid we would think they worshiped things as they used the phrase "of course, we don't worship..." quite a few times, in reference to this statue, Joseph Smith, and the prophets in general. After the tour and a brief trip through the Mormon museum, we then finished the day by getting some coffee - ironic huh?

Day 3:
Skiing. It was a blast. Ben hadn't been since he was little so his first trip down he took his time. After that, he speed things up and was the first to the bottom almost every other time. He didn't quite get the hang of holding on to his stuff while on the lift and lost his gloves and a pole. This lead to Rick and I going down a black diamond in an attempt to retrieve them. It was a bit challenging for me but I managed fine until we got near the spot where it was dropped. We had to get close to the poles where it hadn't been groomed and it was so thick. I could barely manage to move and I heard some people on the lift talking about how I looked to scared to go down. I wasn't scared people, I was searching for a lost pole! Geez. It was a good day too, except the boys forgot to wear sunscreen and ended up a little roasted. Here are some pictures of them later than night, showing up their puzzle solving skills.
I think red becomes them. Okay, that is enough for now. Stay tuned for part two of our adventures.


Enemy Territory

I was kind of excited to hear that Texas A&M will be playing BYU in the NCAA tournament. Being close to Salt Lake City, I'm in the BYU media market, so I'm hearing about the game from the Cougar perspective. They apparently fear A&M, as they well should. Plus, they haven't won an NCAA game in 15 years or so. BYU was a #8 seed last year, just like this year, and they lost, just like they will this year.

My location also means I'll definitely get to watch the game on TV, instead of having to watch some other game that I care less about. Of course, if it wasn't on TV, I could watch it on the internet, because of the best invention ever, March Madness on Demand, which allows me to watch all the games on the internet. Do you have your VIP pass?

I will be especially interested in hearing the local post-game reaction after we take BYU down. It will be enjoyable.

I Now Have Weekend Plans

Full episodes of the original Star Trek available on the internet? Beam me up!


Another giveaway for your magazine loving pleasure

Since we know how much you like magazine giveaways, you should go to this fellow Illuminati blog and sign up for their giveaway. Just don't win, because that would make me mad.

Random updates

I'm back. I hadn't really intended to take a week long blogging hiatus but I was so busy this last week. My family was here and we did tons of stuff, which I will blog about when I am not too lazy to stand up and get the camera, and then when we did have down time, I spent it enjoying family time or sleeping. I blog my life, I don't live to blog. So there blog world, don't judge me.

So they left this morning and honestly, I am totally exhausted from my vacation. I wasn't really ready to say goodbye because I don't know when I will see them again but I am ready to get back into my routine. I love routines.

I am waiting for Craig to come home from Idaho where he is working on what I like to refer to as "that dam project" because I find myself very witty and like to pretend that I am the only person who has ever used that play on words before. When he gets home he will find a special apple dessert waiting for him as a treat for being so great this week.

This visit really reminded me how blessed I am to live in happy family land, you know the place where my husband and my family get along. I love my family, they are loud and crazy and they drive me crazy sometimes but I love them. And I love that spending time with them doesn't make me feel like I am putting Craig in pain as is sometimes the case. In fact, we are really blessed when it comes to our families. They are both intact and, at least when it comes to immediate families, relatively low in drama. So life with our families is good, but even so, he gets a nice dessert for the trouble. Maybe if he is looking real good tonight I will add in a little vanilla ice cream.

He actually doesn't have to look that much "gooder" than normal because we got a big bucket of Neapolitan ice cream from Sam's and I like the chocolate and strawberry more than the boring vanilla in the middle so I need to use it up.


Two Big Wins

I had one of those rare great sports days yesterday. First, Texas A&M upset Kansas State in the Big 12 basketball tournament. Also, Minnesota upset Indiana in the Big Ten tournament, thanks to this remarkable sequence.

Watch to the end of the video to see another great shot that yesterday's hero made that you've probably seen before.

Thanks to that play, and Minnesota's advance to the semifinals, I get to watch them on TV today, a rare opportunity indeed.

UPDATE: Both teams lost today. It was fun while it lasted, I guess.


Where would you go?

I was listening to NPR the other day (out of character for me, indeed, but I was in the work truck, Rush was over, and I'm not into Dr. Laura) and they were asking people to what era they would go if they had a time machine. Some astrophysicist said he'd go hang out with Isaac Newton, and some historian said he'd go to the Civil War battle of Gettysburg, for example.

Personally, I would go back to Norway in 1876 and accompany my great-grandfather from there across the ocean to South Dakota. I'd be interested in learning the circumstances of his departure, what the voyage was like, and how he made his way across the US to reunite with his brother, who preceded him by 5 years.

Alternatively, I might go back to ancient Rome to see what life was like in that advanced society of long ago, with its aqueducts, roads, plumbing, etc. Oh, and the gladiator shows.

So my question to you is, where (and when) would you go if you had time machine access? The NPR stipulation was that you can't go back and kill anyone, probably because that would alter the course of history, kind of like in that one Star Trek episode when Captain Kirk had to let his latest lover die so that Germany wouldn't win WWII.


A Tale of Wheat

Rachel passed this story on to me the other day, undoubtedly with a heavy heart, considering her Kansas roots:
North Dakota farmers last year led the nation in total wheat production for the first time since 1996, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture rankings released this week. For North Dakota farmers, it's a source of pride to top rival Kansas.
Besides inspiring home-state pride, this article led me to make a few observations:

1. In farming, one region's loss is another's gain. A main reason ND took the top spot last year was this:
Last year's crop in Kansas was decimated by disease and weather, particularly a late-spring freeze and flooding later in the season. Total production was pegged at just under 284 million bushels, a drop of more than 16 percent from the state's long-term average, Boswell said.
I am reminded of listening to the grain prices on the radio as a young lad, and I'd hear something like, "Soybeans are up 45 cents today because a big storm in Brazil ruined their crop." You feel bad for the Brazilians, of course, but on the other hand, our crop is worth a lot more. ND farmers claim to have felt no joy in Kansas' pain:
Klein said North Dakota farmers hate to see their counterparts in Kansas suffer through a bad year. He said the good-natured competition is all in fun.
2. This story mentions the crazy high wheat prices we're seeing these days, which are in large part due to the government-subsidized ethanol craze. As ethanol demand increases, so does demand for corn, which raises corn prices. This in turn leads farmers to grow more corn, at the expense of other crops. This decreases supply of other crops, thus raising their prices. So, well ethanol is a bad idea for consumers, taxpayers, and drivers (see here), it is good for farmers (to some extent; ranchers do take a hit in the form of higher feed prices).

3. Recall the Kansas quarter:

See that plant on the left? It's a sunflower, because Kansas is the Sunflower State. But look at this:
North Dakota last year also led the nation in the production of barley; oats; canola; oil, non-oil and all sunflowers; flaxseed; pinto, navy and all dry edible beans; dry edible peas, lentils and honey.
Hmm. Maybe we should put the sunflower on our quarter, to go along with our much better looking buffalo:


Fun times at work

So I was at work about to go do something with a co-worker when someone else walked up and need the co-worker to help him find something. So me and this new guy were standing there, waiting for the co-worker to finish searching the cabinet when new guy starts to make small talk. I had met him before briefly a while ago so he knew I was fairly new to the job and asked where I was from. I told him I was a military brat but called Texas home, having lived at Ft. Hood a couple times and then having gone to school at A&M. So he says, "Wow, so you have really gotten around Texas", and knowing what he did and did not mean, I said "Yeah" and was moving on when he suddenly pauses, gets all red, and says "I...I...I meant that in the best possible way it could have been taken." Oh, engineers, they make me laugh.

My weekend, bullet style

  • Went to a Thesis Art show to celebrate a friend's talents and hard work. Yah for Friend!
  • Ate yummy food cooked by friend's wife to celebrate friend's talents and hard work. Yah for Friend's wife (who, least you be confused, it also a friend)!
  • Ate homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Yum!
  • Ran errands, including successful trip to Sam's Club (thanks for all the tips, it helped)
  • Hair cut and style - lookin' cute
  • Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning because 1) it needed it 2) it's spring 3) my parents are coming
  • Hastily drove to work as forgot to check on test on Saturday like planned. Oops.
  • Fixed work problem. Breathed.
  • Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.
  • Took shower and tried to style new cut. Not as cute as before. Will work on it
  • Old school, yet scandalous Star Trek.
  • French Puffs. Yum.
  • Nap, Gilmore Girls, Nap.
  • Got all excited for new Jane Austen movie.
  • Confused when Jane Austen movie had Sherlock Homes in it.
  • Disappointed because Jane Austen isn't back until end of month.
  • Ate ice cream and felt better.
  • Early bedtime - ready to start week!


Egregious Breach of the Mascot Code

I've been to a couple of Utah State athletic events during my time here, and as a bit of a mascot connoisseur, I payed some attention to the antics of Big Blue, the University's bull mascot. Even with my high standards, I thought he did a pretty good job. However, this story in the USU paper shocked me to my core.

USU actually has a "beheading ceremony" in which the identity of senior mascots is revealed at basketball games, in front of thousands of people. This is a breach of one of the top two rules of being a mascot - don't take off your head in public (the other major rule being "don't talk"). The fact that this is done at center court with everyone watching is especially appalling.

Imagine if you went to the mall on Dec. 24th, and Santa stood up, yanked off his beard, and was identified and honored for his Christmas service. How would your kids react? This beheading ceremony is pretty much the same thing. Big Blue should be be his own being, not some guy in a suit whose identity we can learn at season's end. To take the head off in public ruins the mystique of the suit for the children out there, and I think it cheapens it for everyone else.

The USU mascots keep their identity secret throughout the year, according to the article. That is commendable, and a higher standard than many schools use. However, that is all thrown out the window at this ceremony. Some may say, "Well, they deserve recognition for their service." Recognition, however, is something you sacrifice when you become a mascot, kind of like when you are a CIA officer and you pull of some great, secret operation and you can't tell anyone (in fact, it's exactly like that).