More Monday Adventures

First off, I would like to clarify that the only time I was napping yesterday at work was during my lunch break. I am not a hooligan that just sleeps through the day. And today I am feeling even better so I don't think I even need a lunch time nap. Instead I will use this time to tell you some another good thing about my day off. It enabled me to be home when our landlord stopped by to fix some things. Actually, it is funny just how many things went wrong over the past week with the apartment (it was funny now, at the time it wasn't really funny at all). Especially since we have had pretty good luck with this place, I like it and there haven't been any big problems.

But Thursday night was the first of my feeling bad days and it was raining and Craig had to leave for a business trip that night so I had to go to Petsmart and take of the cats all by myself. I finally got home and was standing in the rain trying to open the door but the jiggling wasn't working. We have always had to jiggle the lock to get it to open but this time it just wasn't working and then, crack, the key breaks off in my hand. I guess all that jiggling weakened the metal. I went to the car, to get out of the rain, and called Craig to whine and get the landlord's number because I thought Craig had already left for Nevada leaving me with no way into the apartment. Luckily, he was still there so I stole his key for a couple days.

Having just one key was kind of annoying but Craig was gone and then it was the weekend so it didn't cause too much trouble. Then comes Saturday night when I leave to run an errand by myself and take Craig's key with me. Upon arriving home, I don't want to bother Craig by making him come let me in so I try to open the door with the key. It breaks in my hand! Apparently, I have some crazy super power that renders keys unable to open doors!

So Monday morning Craig calls our landlord who says he will bring us over keys. And luckily, I will be there to receive them. Now, if you are really good at paying attention, you may have noticed that yesterday I said, "started to make granola". You may have thought I didn't finish because I wasn't feeling good. No, I got to the part where it is in the pan and all I have to do is stick it in the oven and stir it every 30 minutes or so. Then the oven makes a popping noise, I look inside and see flames. Don't worry, I am a quick thinker so I turned the oven off and shut the door. A few minutes later the sparks were gone but the squiggly metal bar on the bottom didn't look so good so I didn't want to risk turning it on again. But since the landlord was already going to stop by, I was able to show him the oven problem. And we fiddled with it a bit, but it still won't turn on so I am without an oven for a few days (hopefully only a few days, he hasn't called us to say when it will be fixed). See what adventures I have, even when I am just trying to take a sick day and get some rest.


Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

After Congress passed the Secure Fence Act in 2006, which provided for the construction of 700 miles of fence on the Mexican border, there were a lot of stories about how Congress and the Bush Administration were delaying and deceiving to try to get out of actually building the fence. So I was surprised today to read that the prescribed fence is now half done. The first step to getting control of our immigration problem is to gain some semblance of control over who enters. While I recognize that a fence won't stop everyone, it will make it harder to cross illegally, and it will funnel immigrants to unfenced areas, making the Border Patrol's job a little easier. A lock on your front door won't keep out a determined burglar, but that doesn't mean you should go without a lock altogether.

The plan apparently is to finish the 700 miles by the end of the year. I hope that goal is met, because I suspect that a President Clinton or Obama would not see the fence as a high priority (probably not McCain either, for that matter). I'm not very happy with President Bush's immigration record, but if we can build 700 miles of fence on his watch, that will mitigate a lot of the bad.

I'm back!

I'm back...did ya miss me? Did you at least notice I was gone?

I've been feeling yucky these last few days and pretty much took a break from everything, or at least I tried. I'm pretty sure it is just allergies and I would probably have been fine but I have also been overwhelmed and stressed and the combination did me in. My problem is that I can't just let things go and rest when I need to.

I didn't feel good Sunday morning so we skipped church and slept in. But then I was feeling a bit better so Craig said we should take a walk (aka - hike) and get out of the apartment. We did, but the more I walked, the worse I felt. Then we went to our Sunday night college dinner. I should have skipped it but it was the last one of the year, when the honor the graduating seniors and eat breakfast for dinner, and I didn't want to miss it. But a waffle and two pieces of sausage later and I was regretting my decision. So I came home and slept.

Then I took a sick day. It went something like this:
  • Slept
  • Tried to lay down and rest but got bored
  • Got up, did dishes, vacuumed, started making granola
  • Didn't feel good
  • Slept
  • Tried to lay down and rest but got bored
  • Got up and did some digi-scrapping (hey, I was sitting down this time)
  • Didn't feel good
  • Slept
  • Tried to lay down and rest but got bored
  • Got up and made dinner...
Are you noticing a trend? So here I am today, back at work, still not feeling good. But I am going to find a place to lay down and take a nap...at least until I got bored and get up and do something.


My First Wikipedia Page

I've done a little editing on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia and inerrant source of knowledge; mainly to fix misspelling or grammatical errors. But today, I created my first entry. In honor of the second anniversary of KVNU's For the People radio show, I made them a Wikipedia page. Go check it out, and let me know if any edits are required. Or make them yourself. Be sure to notice the gratuitous self-reference I included.

The question is, is FTP noteworthy enough to have a Wikipedia entry? Will my page, and all my hard work, be deleted? I'd better go take a screen shot.

Common Sense Prevails

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can require voters to produce photo identification without violating their constitutional rights, validating Republican-inspired voter ID laws.

In a splintered 6-3 ruling, the court upheld Indiana's strict photo ID requirement, which Democrats and civil rights groups said would deter poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots. Its backers said it was needed to deter fraud.

In an era when we need IDs to do pretty much everything, the idea that requiring voters to produce an ID is prohibitive is ludicrous.


Firefox Blogger Issues

I had been having trouble with this particular blogging program ever since I updated to Firefox version The menu bar above the posting area was not available, so I couldn't add links, insert pictures, etc. I was forced to resort to use IE (shudder) to put up new posts (or "blogs", as some erroneously call them).

But I fixed it. I had this add-on called Greasemonkey installed. This program, among other things, is supposed to allow Blogger to have trackback capabilities. However, it didn't do too well in that regard. Suspecting it was causing the problem, I uninstalled it, and my problem was fixed. So if you have any computer problems, let me know. I'm good.

Imported Chinese Propaganda

Our good friend Rachel has a report up from a pro-China rally she witnessed at the University of Wisconsin. Her report dovetails nicely with my post awhile back about the Olympic torch stop in San Francisco. Across the country, we are seeing delusional Chinese citizens holding these rallies to steal attention from "Free Tibet" protests, to promote their country and their Olympics, and to spread propaganda. I call them delusional because they seem to actually believe that their government is doing nothing wrong in Tibet (or within China, for that matter). One of these events just happened in Salt Lake City. This one, just like the one in Madison, was most likely organized for the purpose of stealing attention from previously-planned, simultaneous Tibet rallies. I also have little doubt that the Chinese government is behind these events, providing organization, bussing in out-of-town Chinese students, and providing flags, other props, and talking points. As I've said before, if these students aren't going to take advantage of the opportunity of a free, uncensored society to learn about what really goes on in their country, then there's really not much point in us admitting them. This is especially true considering the massive amount of espionage and other nefarious activities these student undertake while here.


High Roller Treatment

I got a call the other day from those people who inform you that you've won a free trip. Usually, I just say no and hang up, but this time I actually listened, for some reason. It was one of those promotions where you go listen to their pitch in exchange for the gift. In our case, we had to go up to Garden City to let them try to sell us a membership in the WorldMark by Wyndham program. For listening to them for 90 minutes, we would get 3 days/2 nights in Anaheim, Reno, or Las Vegas (I'm not sure why anyone would pick Reno). We were also offered $20 in gas cards and $40 in restaurant gift cards (the latter to use on the trip). So we decided to go.

We got the terms and conditions of the trip via e-mail before we went. You have to book 90 days in advance, start your trip Monday-Wednesday, not travel near holidays, and leave from Salt Lake City. You also need to pay $95 in taxes. So the trip is possible, if you plan far ahead.

Before our presentation date, we got called the day before and the day of to remind us to show up. We made the drive to Garden City, and there was only one other couple there. A salesman took us to check out the pool and a 3-bedroom unit, then we went back to the main building. The salesman then sat us down and told us why this program is better than timeshares, vacation homes, or hotels. We were then shown a 15-minute video of happy, diverse members telling us why the program was great before being handed of to our individual salesman for the hard sell.

The program works like this: you pay $39,000 to get 20,000 credits per year, to spend on nights in their 66 or so resorts in the US and Australia. The price per night at each resort depends on popularity, day of the week and season of the year. From what we saw, this ranged from 550-2600 credits per night, although I suspect it goes higher than that. You get these credits each year (forever!), and you can pass them on to your kids. Credits can be rolled over, borrowed from the future, or purchased, if you need more of them. You can also use credits at resorts worldwide through a company called RCI. In addition to the purchase price, you pay $1,080 per year in taxes, utilities, maintenance, and insurance. And that, my friends, is the catch. MacKenzie and I could go on a vacation or two every year with that money, and save the $39,000 up front, although our accommodations might be less luxurious and spacious.

The individual presentation wasn't too pressure-packed. The salesman walked us through the program and how it works, and asked us about our vacation interests. He then went through the pricing. Despite the fact that we weren't, we acted somewhat interested, and asked a few questions. When we declined to buy, he offered us several cheaper packages that offered fewer credits. When we declined that, he went to "talk to the manager," then came back to offer us even cheaper packages. When we declined that, he said he'd go get the manager to give us our gift. She walked over, half-heartedly tried to offer us a plan that would allow us to try the service for a year, then gave us our gifts. The whole thing took about 2.5 hours, one hour longer than we were told to expect.

Reviewing the free trip information afterwards, we found that the trip will likely involve us getting to Vegas late the first day and leaving early the third day, so it will be closer a 36 hour trip. We could only find a few days in our schedules during which we can use this trip, so we'll see if we can actually get tickets for those dates. I'll mail the form tomorrow, and they'll let us know in a month or so. I also have no idea what kind of hotel we'll be in, or where it will be located. We'll let you know.

Other than the price, the program looks like it might be useful to older couples or families. Doing a little online research, I learned that if you like this program, you should just buy one on the second hand market (e.g. on eBay). You'll save big bucks.

I searched around online to read other peoples' stories about this experience. There are plenty of people who had bad experiences. Many of them, however, seem to have made it clear upfront to their salesperson that they weren't going to buy, or else they aggressively challenged the salesman about the value of the program. Other people were unable to say no, and ended up signing up for the program. I think MacKenzie and I approached this event properly, and we had no such experiences.

And that was our evening. We hope you find this primer useful if you should decide to attend one of these presentations.


WFMW - Almost as good.

I like the taste of things made from scratch as homemade is almost* always better. But I love the convenience of some more manufactured items. So I've figured out a way to slightly tweak a few things in a way that doesn't take up much time but can make it taste almost as good as from scratch. Here are my top three:

1. Lemonade - Lemonade is my drink. We don't buy sodas and I only drink water to be healthy. I find it rather boring, but I will take a glass of lemonade anytime. But I don't have the time or money to make homemade even if I did, I couldn't be drinking that much sugar all the time. I have enough cavities as it is. Concentrate tastes good but it still has a ton of sugar. So I follow my dentist's suggestion and drink Crystal Lite. The problem -it's yellow but it doesn't taste like "real" lemonade. The solution - add two or three tablespoons of lemon juice to a pitcher of the fake stuff. That is about a lemons worth but I don't even use a real lemon, just squeeze some out of the little plastic lemon. It gives it that tart taste of real lemonade.

2. Pancakes - You can't beat Bisquick - or maybe you can. Try adding a spoonful of plain or vanilla yogurt to your next batch of pancake mix. It is about the same consistency as the batter so you don't have to adjust the mix-to-liquid ratio. It makes the pancakes so moist and fluffy. I heard this from my friend K. and my only regret now is having waited so long to try it. Don't make my mistake.

3. I lied, I don't have a third point but only having two leaves my list feeling unfinished. So help me finish it! Are there any tricks like this that you use?

And that is what works for me!

*Exception = Brownies. I love brownies from a box better than any recipe I have ever had. Weird but true.


Oprah vs. Craig: The Showdown

I've come to a decision about Oprah. My mom wrote about her recent movement and Heather (and I must confess I feel really weird using her first name because I haven't ever delurked and a first name seems too personal but I don't know what else to use) wrote a whole series. After reading what they, and the scriptures, had to say, I have decided that I can no longer watch her, or read her magazine. To be honest, it doesn't mean a big change to my daily life. I work till 5 so I don't watch her regulary but on those Monday holidays or vacation days, I would and now I won't. I could go into a whole thing about why, and I will if anyone asks but basically, this post summarizes it pretty well.

But this post isn't really about Oprah. It's about my attitude. Heather should never have had to convince me to stop watching Oprah. I'm glad that she did and I am glad that God has put women who are more mature in their faith in both the real and blog versions on my life. But I should have heard what she was saying wwwaaayy before now.

Both Craig and I have talked about his dislike of Oprah before. And when I say dislike I don't mean in the same what he dislikes Jane Austen movies. He doesn't like Jane Austen movies because he finds them boring and girly - but he doesn't find them objectionable. He doesn't like Oprah because he thinks what she says isn't worthwhile. Okay, the be honest, he would probably say something more like he thinks pretty much everything she says is a piece of crap - and he would be right! So why did I need someone else to say that before I would listen?

Here is my man, my Adam, given to me by God to lead me spiritually and protect me and I didn't listen to him because...I didn't want to? I didn't feel like it? I wanted to do what I wanted to do and that was that? Yes. And that is not okay!

Before I got married, I wasn't one of those women who objected to the idea of women being submissive. I agreed with all those verses that say a wife should submit to her husband, that he should be the head of the household and I actually looked forward to the day when we would be married and that would be the case. But in my mind, that meant that he would lead devotionals and our prayer time together before we went to sleep. Somehow the idea of him telling me that something was wrong and my having to adjust my thinking didn't fit with the little picture in my head. I was only following Craig's lead when he led me where I wanted to go.

But that needs to change. I just started a Beth Moore study and one of the first things she talked about was having your theology fit your reality. That hit me hard. I want my theology to fit my reality but that is only going to start happening when I let God mold me and I let Craig lead me. He won't ever force me to follow him, just as he didn't force me to stop watching Oprah. That isn't who he is and that wouldn't be biblical either. But I am going to start trying to follow him so as for Craig and his household, we won't be watching Oprah anymore.

Useless Poll

Polls are ubiquitous in the news these days. Newspapers and TV stations are always commissioning polls, and then doing stories on the results, whether they be about elections, big issues, or irrelevant issues. Some of these polls aren't worth much, like this one: "Most people believe oil is running out and governments need to find another fuel."

Did they poll petroleum engineers, geologists, or some other category of experts to reach this conclusion? No, they polled average people in 15 countries (China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Mexico, Britain, France, Iran, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Egypt, Turkey, South Korea) and one terrorist entity (the Palestinian territories). I don't expect the average citizen of an industrialized nation to be able to knowledgeably answer this question. I can't answer this question. But how many residents of Third World countries have enough information to answer this question? The amount of oil left on this planet is not a matter of opinion; it is a scientific calculation, and its not even the real issue. The real issue is, "How much oil is left that we can affordably extract?" This question depends on factors such as the price of oil and the creation of new technologies. This poll is worthless, like another poll I wrote about at the KVNU site. Interestingly enough, the results of both these polls line up with liberal opinion. That's probably why these stories were printed.


Delayed Gratification

Yesterday, Craig got a phone call from one of those companies that gives you a free trip if you will listen to their spiel first. At first, I was really confused at to why they would call us, don't they do any research beforehand to find good candidates? Obviously, if they read this blog they would know that they are just wasting their time and I find it almost laughable to think of Craig buying into a time share. But even leaving aside Craig's thriftiness, why would they think we would be interested in that?

In my view, we are two young adults, fresh out of college, working to pay off students loans and build up some savings so we can have the American dream - a house with a yard, some kids, a golden retriever, the ability for me to stay home and make cupcakes - the general stuff. Right now we live in an apartment with our cat. I'm not saying we have it bad, I love my life, but before I go buying a condo for my vacations, I think I would like to have a house first. Or at least a washing machine.

But then I thought about how we look on paper and it made a bit more sense. To them we are a double income no kids couple with few responsibilities. We should be out there enjoying life, spending our money on whatever we just have to have. And I'll admit that when I see other people our ages doing just that, sometimes I get jealous. But I know our strategy is better in the end. I just have to keep my eyes on the prize. And it is almost like we have made it a game to save and it has become enjoyable. I mean, what better way to spend a weekend than analyzing the local grocery store's prices?

So we may go watch to get a free trip, but don't expect an invitation to our new vacation home anytime soon.


My weekend, thus far

We had great plans for the weekend, we were to supposed to head down south for some camping. Early in the week though we had to scrap that as Craig was told he had to work Sunday. It was a little disappointing but we just pushed our camping trip back till a couple weeks from now. It did mess up my meal planning though as I had already bought all the camping stuff but didn't have any "regular" meals planned for after Thursday and I was all psyched up for some nice warm weather. But I resigned myself.

Then Friday comes and Craig calls me in the afternoon to tell me something to let me know that they changed their mind, he doesn't have to work Sunday after all. LAME! Even if they had told him Thursday afternoon we would still have been able to go but by then it was too late.

Oh, well. C'est la vie, n'est-ce pas? But it did work out alright. The weather was great yesterday and today so that wasn't a problem and since we were here last night we were able to go with some friends to King Lear at USU. One of the girls we went with hadn't had the best experiences with the USU drama department and said their version of Macbeth had a "punk goth" spin complete with guns and trench coats. I think we were all holding our breaths to see if this was going to be worth our time, but it was pretty good. I didn't know anything more than the basic storyline going into to the play but I was able to follow it and I though most of the actors/actresses did a good job. It sure was long though. I mean, even with it being enjoyable, I found it hard to sit still for over two hours. I got all fidgety. Plus, it is hard to concentrate for such a long time. With Shakespeare,you really do have to pay attention the whole time; if you let your mind wander for even a few minutes, by the time you start paying attention again, you are lost.

Today was lazy day. We did a little grocery shopping, I went to the library to pick up some of the books you guys recommended (Thanks!) and read some magazines. I got a good amount of scrapbook done which is good. I want to get caught up before we go to Arches, I know I will take a ton of pictures like I did at Zion. I already have 5 or 6 pages just for that trip and I'm not done! But I'm so close now to having all last year done and the closer I get the more inspired I get to finish. Right now, I have some granola cooking so the whole place smells like walnuts and brown sugar - yum. And I'm going to say goodbye so that I can watch Harry Potter with my husband. Even though things didn't turn out the way I wanted this weekend, life is still pretty good from where I sit.

Not a Master Debater

CNN quotes Barack Obama as saying he doesn't see any point in having another debate with Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Clinton. That's not surprising, considering the widely-panned performance he gave Wednesday night. Obama also said this about the debate:
"Last night, we set a new record, because it took us 45 minutes before we even started talking -- until we started talking about a single issue that matters to the American people," he said.
He was referring to the questions about his former pastor, his ties to that former terrorist, his comments about Pennsylvanians clinging to God, guns, etc., as well as Hillary's Bosnia sniper-fire story. We often hear politicians complain when this kind of stuff comes up in a campaign, and say that we should focus on "the issues."

The thing is, people care about character and likability. Some voters care about that more than specific policy positions. Someone like myself who pays a lot of attention to, and votes based upon, issues and philosophy may not understand the way less-engaged swing voters make their choice, but there are probably more of them than there are of me. These voters want to relate to a candidate (and I can't really blame them for not wanting to invest themselves in paying attention to Washington). Their failure to connect with voters, and appear authentic, is in part what caused Bush 41, Al Gore, and John Kerry to lose their respective presidential races (or re-election, in Bush's case). This is the image that Obama seems to be drifting towards, that of the out-of-touch elitist. So, while it may sound good to call for focus on the issues, voters will continue to focus on personality and character. This may not be good for Obama.


Maybe I'm just not high class

I get addicted to tv shows pretty quickly so the writer's strike was a good thing for me. It gave me a chance to get them out of my system. We don't watch many shows religiously anymore but we do watch some stuff, reruns of scrubs, lots of history channels shows, and more recently, Zonya's health bites. Craig can't stand her (I guess he doesn't like having the visual of 4 tablespoons of sugar and a scoop of lard every time he wants to eat a donut) but every one of her recipes I have tried we have really enjoyed so he just has to grab his headphones and use the opportunity to spend quality time with the computer.

The problem comes in when I want to watch something and there isn't anything on. I know I could read a book or do something productive but sometimes I don't want to. I just want to veg. Before we used to tape a number of shows so whenever we had time to chill, we had something to watch. Now, nothing there but blank tapes.

And the shows that everyone else seem to enjoy do nothing for me. In fact, the more a show is hyped up, the less likely I am to want to watch it. Lost, oh - my - goodness, if one more person tells me I just have to watch Lost, I am going to do something. I don't know what yet but it will be something. I feel the same way about American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.

Although my dislike of Dancing with the Stars really goes beyond the hype to my root fear of ballroom dancing. I used to think it was because of the dancers. Ballroom dancers are creepy. They are all oh-so-realistically tan and barely wearing anything! Plus, the women aren't exactly at the age where immodesty is physically attractive. The last thing I want to see on some 50 year old lady is lots of jiggly orange skin. Yuck. So that is a very good reason to avoid watching Ballroom dancing.

But yesterday I was flipping channels (because nothing was on!) and noticed the BYU channel has ballroom dancing on. But, being Mormon, their skin was all covered up in bright blue long sleeve dresses. They were slightly form fitting but really what I have always thought would be a more appropriate garment for a older dancer (although these girls were young). Of course, they were still ugly. I think it must be some secret Ballroom dancing code that the outfits have to be hideous. But you know, I still didn't like it. Maybe it's the twirling or the awkward stiff elbows they always seem to have but I just don't get it. Nope, just give me jeans, a pair of boots, and a little Zona Jones and I'm happy.

Exciting Work Travel!

Here are the exotic locales to which I will be traveling for work in the coming weeks:
  • Grace, ID (they grow potatoes there)
  • Price, UT (home of the February 2006 Playmate of the Month*)
  • Elko, NV (the largest city between SLC and Reno)

*I only know this because I saw it on Wikipedia. Really. And don't worry, the link is safe for work.


Comments on Comments

I had two posts I wanted to write but then something happened today to tie them together. That means this post will probably be long and maybe convoluted but please stick with me...or not, just don't tell me about it if you don't :-)

Which brings me to my first posting idea. It seems recently I have stumbled upon a number of posts with opinionated comments that are often bordering on rude. I don't mean opinionated about the post topic. Bloggers want their readers to be interested in their posts and offer opinions, even if they are different from their own, especially if politely done. What I am talking about are comments about the blogger herself; her writing style, grammar, even weight! Why do people think that just because they will never meet this person that they can say whatever they want? Some may say that most of the times these people are trolls but just because you give them a cutesy name doesn't hide the fact that it is one person being unkind to another without regard to their feelings. Not cool.

Just this weekend I saw two that caused me to pause for a moment. The first was on a blog that recently got a new banner. Several days after her changeover she posted about modesty. At the bottom of the page there was a comment on how one of the pictures in her new design was immodest (the blogger had already mentioned the pictures and stated that they were stock and not anyone she knew). I was quite curious to see how the blogger would respond so the next time I went to her site, I reviewed that post. I would say that I was pleasantly surprised by her response, but that would be a lie. I have read her for a while so I wasn't really surprised that she replied with the humility and Christ-like kindness that she did. I guess I would say I was "pleasantly-not surprised". She even asked the commenter what particularly she disliked and the commenter told her. Reading both comments the commenter left, it was obvious that she said what she did in a loving way and not intending to be critical so with both the commenter and the blogger attitudes being what they were, the exchange didn't become heated as I have seen before. But I still disagree with the commenter. Obviously the blogger was concerned with modesty because she posted about it and since the banner is new she has seen those pictures and approved them. So one can assume she just has different standards than the commenter and I think the commenter should have just accepted that. And maybe if she did really feel the need to say something, a private email would have been a better approach.

The second situation was just a comment saying your grammar is distracting from your message and makes your blog hard to read. It also included a specific examples that was pretty petty, almost the equivalent of saying someone used "who" when they should have used "whom." The one amusing part of the comment was when they meant to say "if you care about your blog..." but instead said "if you car about your blog..." Maybe that person should be taking the plank out of their own eye first.

And that plank idea brings me two my second point. While "blog hopping" a few days ago I stumbled upon this article. For those of you non-link clickers (and I confess I am often one of those myself), I will summarize. It pretty much says to let your husband handle his own issues with criticism; be a good listener, but don't try to fight his battles for him. While reading it I found myself nodding in agreement and thinking of how I was so glad that I didn't struggle with this. I just couldn't think of a time when I felt the need to "stick up" for Craig instead of letting him handle it himself.

I'm guessing you can tell where this is going but today when reading the other blog Craig comments on, I noticed someone left a kinda rude comment criticizing Craig. Within seconds I was livid. I mean, I was like a mommy bear whose cub had been teased. But then I thought of that article and the first situation where a gentle response turned away wrath and I stopped in my tracks.

Did Craig need me to come to his defense? No, he isn't my baby cub, but a "big boy" who can deal with this himself. And even if he did get his affirmation from blog readers, he would know that while many don't agree with him, they do respect him.

Did other readers need me to respond in order to know the truth? No, they probably saw that comment the same way I saw the other comments, as a reflection of the commenter more than the blogger himself.

And with that I was able to let it go and not call this person all the mean (and very witty I might add) names that I had previously come up with. Now I don't think it is a coincidence that I happened to see that first comment exchange or that I stumbled upon that article. Isn't it so great that God knew that would be a struggle for me today so he led me to those things so that I would be better equipped to deal with it. Some people's think of God and His laws as a big set up to get them to fail but that couldn't be further from the truth! God doesn't want anything to get in the way of our relationship and sin does that. He wants so much for us to do the right thing and I'm so thankful he helps us with our struggles.

I guess my point is twofold:

1) To the commenters out there, keep in mind one of my mother's favorite quotes (aka - Thumper's rule), if you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all.

2) God is so good.


Hopping the Bus

Has anyone ever taken the bus to Wendover? It looks kind of fun, even for non-seniors, as this article from the USU paper suggests. It's a good deal, too, which obviously appeals to me. $15 for the ticket, and that includes a free buffet and other goodies. If only they hadn't canceled the Billy Ray Cyrus concert.


I need your help!

I can kinda think again. For the record, it is really hard to think with a ringing inside your head. The more I tried to concentrate, the worse it got. Thursday night I couldn't do anything more than watching tv to block out the noise. Friday wasn't as bad. But it was a neat psychological test to see what things really required concentration and what didn't. I could read blogs, but not books. I could watch tv but working in photoshop wasn't much fun. It makes me want to be more diligent about choosing activities and hobbies that do require me to think.

So today I went to the library and stocked up on books. I got a lot of non-fiction books but I find myself struggling to pick out any fiction. I hate spending time on bad books, especially when I don't now that it as bad as it is until it ends - that is the worst! I often end up reading a book I have already read just to be sure that I will like it. So I need your help...any good fiction books I just have to read? I like books of all sorts and all reading levels. I like well written books and don't mind a challenge but there are times (mostly, that last half an hour when I am reading in bed) that I appreciate an easy read too. So help me out please!

MacKenzie's Latest Designs

MacKenzie dominated a banner design competition over at SHSNE (a blog that possesses a coveted spot in our blog roll) this week. Head over there to check out her entry. MacKenzie is turning into quite the Photoshop user extraordinaire. If only I can get her to start doing hilarious Democrat-mocking jobs like these.

WARNING: SHSNE link contains hand gestures that some may find inappropriate. You've been warned.


Eve 6 Report

Way back in January, I reported that Eve 6 was coming to town. Well, on Wednesday night, they came, they saw, and they rocked. MacKenzie's ears are still ringing. Here's the official Herald Journal account, although it really doesn't talk much about the concert itself. The article says there were 1,300 people there. I'm not much of a crowd-counter, but my estimate was closer to 400. I could be wrong. So could they.

The band played for, oh, I'd say an hour and a half. They played all the old favorites, including one, "Open Road Song," twice (it was repeated in the encore). Some local band opened the show. I didn't catch their name, because the lead singer didn't enunciate the 3 times he said it, but they had a trumpet and a trombone. Here's a photo (of Eve 6):

The concert was in a gym on the USU campus. The stage was set up at the far end, and everyone just stood in front of the stage. "Backstage" was separated from the crowd area by concrete barriers and the speakers. When the show ended (the first time) I walked over to the side, near the side door from which the band entered, and I was able to see them go hide behind the stage and wait for encore time (more on that later). It was kind of funny.

Security was provided by the USU football team. One wouldn't have suspected them to be football players, because they weren't that big, but then one would realize that USU has won three football games over the last two years. Plus, I recognized one of them from the Polar Plunge. They were fairly active, cracking down on the crowd surfing and whatnot.

Here's a video clip I recorded. It's like you're there.

The show had me thinking about concerts in general. Here's how I will change concerts when (not if, when) I become a rock star:
  • Start on time. I'm not sure if concerts always start late to allow people to get through the door, to be fashionably late, or because the band is busy with the groupies, but I don't like it. If your poster says 8:00, start it at 8.
  • No more encores. Are we still supposed to believe that the band intended to quit, but the roars of the crowd convinced them to come back out? We're on to you. Do the show, and then leave. I realize that these first two items might throw experienced concertgoers for a loop, but after 3-4 shows, people will figure it out.
  • TURN DOWN THE VOLUME! I realize that we're not at a library, but neither are we in a stadium. When you can hear the songs perfectly well with your ears plugged, it's too loud.
I realize that these points will make me the lamest rocker ever, but that's OK.


Did San Fran Kowtow to or Thwart China?

At first, I was pretty angry when I heard that San Francisco rerouted the Olympic torch at the last minute yesterday. I figured that city officials were kowtowing to China by preventing embarrassing protests like those that occurred in London and Paris. I thought maybe they were trying to appease the local Chinese population, or show solidarity with their fellow far-left wingers.

But then I read this story. It chronicles how well China was prepared for the torch stop. They bussed in Chinese people from around California and gave them flags and placards. These people then proceeded to swarm and shout down anyone in the crowd with a Tibetan flag. As C.W. Nevius described it:
Those inside the command center say city officials and Mayor Gavin Newsom watched the spectacle with growing concern. Although there was a brief scuffle with "Team Tibet" supporters around a bus early in the morning, the vast majority of the crowd was flag-waving China supporters. Sending the torch down those streets would have been like providing the Chinese government with a made-for-television commercial to show that hardly anyone in San Francisco - or North America - had any qualms about human rights abuses in China.
So maybe, rather than giving China their way, maybe San Fran moved the torch to prevent the aforementioned spectacle. Between the massive pro-China crowd and the goon squad that has been accompanying the torch around the world, China might just have been able to pull of the propaganda show on American soil that it appears they were going for. Maybe, for the first time ever, I need to give kudos to the city of San Francisco. It seems like this torch relay is bringing liberals and conservatives together like few things do.

I'm borrowing this rant from my brother-in-law, but on a related note, read this description from the NY Times of the thoughts of Chinese students in San Fran:

Hai Ming, 37, a Chinese student of civil engineering at University of California, Davis, about 70 miles east, had come to the torch ceremony on a bus chartered by the Chinese consulate.

Mr. Hai said he disagreed with Tibetan protesters who have flooded San Francisco this week. “I think they are crazy,” he said. “The Chinese people are very peaceful. They wouldn’t do what they are accused of.

As the start of the relay approached, thousands were lining the route, and several scuffles broke out between pro- and anti-China forces. Near Justin Herman Plaza, where the closing ceremony was to have been held, protesters broke through barricades. Outside the stadium, pro-Chinese groups surrounded and taunted a small group of people holding a Tibetan flag, ripping the banner from their hands and chanting “Liar, liar, liar.”

As I understand it, one of the reasons we like to bring international students to America, besides the fact that diversity soooo enriches the collegiate experience, is to teach them about our country and our values. Well, our values aren't rubbing off on the Chinese too well, apparently. Despite the fact that they are out from under the censorship of their native land, they still seem to be in denial about how their government really operates. Do you think any of these students know about Tiananmen Square? Do you think any California universities have dared to tell them about it?


Fashionable Me

I work in a very geeky place, full of engineers and scientists - mostly of the male persuasion. And that is okay, I like it here, the people I work with are great and there are several nice perks to being one of the few women here.

But it also means the fashion standards are not so very high around here. This was especially apparent last Friday during our all-hands meeting and awards ceremony. The first set of awards was given to the staff and administration people. They live in another building than me where there are actually quite a few females so that group of people standing on stage looked quite fashionable. It's a pretty casual place and it was a Friday so most of them were in jeans but they had on cute tops and nice shoes.

Then the next groups were called up and you could tell it was the engineer's and scientist's turn. There was quite a bit of denim paired with denim (sometimes with a little flannel thrown in), a number of white tube socks with sandals, and even 3 or 4 pairs of suspenders. But I like that. It means that even when I woke up late and didn't have time to put on makeup or didn't get around ironing my shirt, I still am way about average fashion wise. It's very reassuring.

But this week I have been worried that maybe the science fashion is wearing off on me. Monday afternoon I bent down to tie my shoe and noticed that the inner thigh areas of my very light colored khakis had brown goopy smudges on them. I knew it was chocolate (it was chocolate! - I am pretty sure I dropped a part of my granola bar in my lap during lunch and it melted) but all those other people wouldn't. Luckily I was able to wear a lab coat for most of the afternoon but it was a tad embarrassing. Still, I figured that it was just a fluke, it happened on a Monday and bad things are supposed to happen on Mondays, right?

They yesterday was Free Jamba Juice day, did you get your free breakfast 'cause if you didn't, I am sorry. I got some sunrise sunshine fruity thing that consisted of berries, yogurt and soymilk. The soy milk they used kinda gave it an slightly off taste but it was still good and free and who I am to complain. What a great way to start a day! That is until midmorning when I look in a mirror and notice I have no less than 10 teeny tiny seeds stuck in my teeth. I looked like a hillbilly and even worse - I couldn't get them all out. I needed floss but didn't have any. Eventually I was able to get most of the noticeable ones out and I tried to just not smile too much.

So far, I have been able to avoid any major fashion catastrophes today but it is only noon, I still have 5 hours to go.


A Major Commemoration

I was remiss in neglecting an important holiday yesterday. My apologies. You see, 75 years and 1 day ago, beer once again became legal in the US. In advance of the ratification of the 21st amendment, Congress changed the law that defined "alcoholic" beverages, which were banned by the 18th amendment, as having more than 0.5% alcohol. The new rule adjusted that percentage to 3.2%, which was standard for pre-Prohibition beer. Eight months later, wine and spirits became legal, thanks to the new amendment. So drink a beer tonight in honor of that great day.

Via NRO.


New Blog Roll!!!

Craig found another neat blogger draft feature and we are giving it a try. Our blog roll now lists the most recent post of our featured sites. It supposedly also helps their PageRank unlike a javascript blogroll would. So there is a little bit more linky love in the world, thanks to us. Let us know what you think, even if you hate it and think it looks cluttered - we want to know the truth.

Sense and Sensibility: A review

This was a two-parter and I was worried that I would forget too much of the first part to do a good review, but most of it came back when I started watching again last night so I don't think that happened.

I liked it, in fact, while overall I was disappointed with the movies, this one is about even with the Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet version that I also adore.

Unlike almost all the others, I actually liked almost all of the castings picks.

Elinor - I liked that she was a more realistic age than Emma Thompson. It made the contrast between her and Marianne's personalities seem more like just that, a personality/character difference, and not just the fact that she was older and wiser. And I could really see her struggling with her situation, but still remaining composed outwardly - a hard thing to do. I especially liked her crying at the end mostly because that is the one part of the E.T. version I do not like. Emma Thompson sounded like a dying animal when she cried.

Marianne - I have to confess that I really don't like Marianne. I realize that she is supposed to be free spirited and romantic and all that but even in the book I just end up thinking she is silly and rude and kinda selfish. But I liked this Marianne because I could really see her progression from being that silly girl to being a woman with a bit more wisdom while at the same time keeping her romantic spirit. I liked the part when riding in the buggy, she talked about how he was the true romantic for all the good he had done for his love even after she had died.

Margaret - I like Margaret and was so glad to see her in the movie. I watched some old version and they left her out completely and it made me so sad.

Mrs. Dashwood - Also good, a bit more convincing as someone with a Marianne-type personality, especially with her struggles to live within the means of her new lifestyle.

Edward - Okay, I wish he connected more with Elinor but he wasn't bad.

The Steeles - I liked them both. I was glad to see Lucy's sister make an appearance and thought she was great. And I think Lucy did a good job of trying to be sweet and innocent while really just wanting to get her way and make sure Elinor was kicked out of the picture. The first couple times I watched the other version (and granted, I was fairly young) most of Lucy's deliberate actions were too subtle to be noticed, I thought she actually was sweet and innocent.

Col. Brandon - I liked that he was younger, although watching them gradually try and make Alan Rickman look younger is always comical. I also liked that you knew he loved Marianne but he was able to control it. He did what he did for others because he is a good guy, not because he wanted Marianne to think he was a good guy.

The only casting that I didn't care for was Willoughby. He was supposed to be all dashing and whatnot - but he wasn't. Didn't anybody else notice that he was funny looking and short? I did.

I also missed Sir John, his mother-in-law, and of course, Mr. Palmer (but who doesn't love Hugh Laurie?). They were so great in the E.T. version but I suppose one can't ask for everything. I did however like the photograph style "still shots" when the Dashwoods first entered Sir John's house and when they met Mrs. Ferres, which is quite the compliment as I normally don't like weird camera view stuff (that is the technical term I am sure).

Overall, It was good. It had a more old-school period piece feel as compared to the E.T. version and they are quite different but I think there is room in my heart for both. I would say this was my favorite of the whole series (excepting Pride and Prejudice, but I don't count that as I had already seen it). And since that was the end of the Jane Austen series, I guess they ended on a high note. All in all though, I was not as pleased with this series as I was expecting to be. That is what I get for expecting movies to be as good as the books.

UPDATE: Other reviews of S&S can be found here and here.

A Protest I Can Support

I usually feel deep disdain when I see hippie protesters doing their thing, but I like what they're doing to the Olympic torch relay in Europe. I'm for anything that rains on China's propaganda parade, short of actual boycotts by competing nations. I don't think the athletes should suffer, but I think China should be pressured, and a repeat of Hitler's Olympics should be avoided.


3 things

I have been feeling very boring lately and just can't think of anything to write. But I think I am just out of practice and need to force myself so I making myself write about 3 things, since 3 seemed like a good number, reasonable yet not too easy. Okay, here we go.

1. I made bread today and it finally worked out. My very generous brother got me a Kitchenaid mixer a while ago and I have been working on perfecting my wheat bread ever since. The first time I tried I thought I could leave the wheat gluten out. Big mistake. It was edible but not very good. The second time I added the gluten and that helped a lot but I forget to add the honey. Ahh! This time, I not only added the honey and the gluten, but I also took the master breadmaker's (aka - my mom) advice and added the honey to the sponge so the yeast would have something to snack on. It was so delish. "Delish" is my new word that I use all the time, mostly because it bugs Craig. I'm such a loving wife, aren't I?

2. My scanner is stupid. We have been attempting to weed through things we don't need and get rid of them, sell them on ebay, organizing what we have left, etc - the basic spring cleaning. Now my big project is to take all of Craig's old pictures from college and actually put them in a format that he can keep and look at and remember all the wonderful times he had before he knew I existed and realized how awful his life was without me calling everything delish and driving him nuts. Anyway, he finished sorting them so I began to scan them today. The first one worked like a charm but ever since then it won't work. It makes the little scanny noise and then the progress bar gets to 100% and disappears then...nothing. That is the point where the picture is supposed to appear and it doesn't. I'm so frustrated. I wanted to spend today using all my new photoshop tricks and now I can't. Sad day.

3. Yesterday, Craig and I went jean shopping. We both needed some and I figured it would be best to get it over with. We started at TJMaxx and Craig got a great pair for $12. It was the first pair he tried on and it made me sick. I tried on a bunch there and nothing. But I had a backup plan so all was not lost. Zafu is a great site where you answer a couple questions about what your "problem areas" are with jeans and how they typically fit and it recommends brands and fits. It came up with 78 kinds for me to try, including 3 or 4 Lucky styles. So I headed up to Dillard's and tried on a bunch of lucky jeans. I couldn't remember which ones Zafu had recommended but I tried on what they had a found a couple that fit great. Then I promptly left Dillard's because there was no way I was going to spend $98 on a pair of jeans, however great they fit. But when I got home I compared the fits I liked with what Zafu said I would and to be sure, they were right! I then went to ebay and found (and later won!) those same jeans for only $29.50 + S&H. Not as cheap as Craig's but I'm still pretty happy with my find.

Okay, I got to go, Sense and Sensibility just started and I don't want to miss any more.


Two Links

A couple of quick hits for you on this Friday night:
  • Over at KVNU, I comment on a recent 9th Circuit Court decision about advertising for roommates on the internet.
  • My sister recently arrived in Korea, where she will spend a year teaching English to the locals. She has set up one of these "blogs," where she will write about her adventures. Check it out.
Also, I had a great board game night tonight (blogging AND playing board games - what a WILD Friday night, huh?). I won at both Risk and Settlers of Catan. I'm not sure if I've ever actually won at Risk before, so I was pleased.


Getting the Band Back Together

I know MacKenzie will be excited about this.


I'm so tired and ready for this week to be over. Our schedule has been so crazy. Sunday was the Great Chili Cook-off which started off our week with a little less resting than I am used too. Then I had to go and take a Photoshop Elements class this week at a local community college. I learned all sorts of cool tricks, maybe I'll share later, but it lasted from 5:30-9 each night. That is a looonnngg time and after working all day, I really don't feel like sitting in a chair, even if it is while working with my favorite computer program ever. I also had to miss my women's bible study which is normally a time for me to relax and feel rejuvenated for the week. Plus, it meant that our meals were crazy and I missed sitting down to dinner with Craig. So I liked the class, but I'm glad it is over.

Tuesday was relatively calm and I actually got to cook dinner but I didn't feel good. Craig worked out and I started to, but about 12 minutes into my favorite biking routine, I began to feel dizzy and faint. I have a heart condition so that happens and I know how to deal with it but it is still creepy for it to happen when I am at the gym because I can actually see my heart rate drop.

But we are almost done, Thursday night is always our crazy errand night but I am trying out a new crock pot recipe tonight (it has tofu it in, wish me luck) so we should get an early start and I am hoping to be done and home by 8. Friday is game night at our church, if I am alive by then. And then Saturday - nothing. I mean, there are a few things I would like to accompish, but no set times, and if they don't happen, it does really matter! Just the thought of that makes me giddy inside.

I think I am getting old. I used to have something every night back in college, sometimes two or three things, back to back and almost never felt exhausted. Sometimes I would feel nervous and want to cut out my activities because I felt that I wasn't studying enough, which I was, but I don't remember ever not wanting to do something because I was tired. And even though I have always been a morning person and NOT a night owl, I never went to bed at 10:30 like I do now. I don't like this, I just don't like it. I'm only 23!


April Fool's Recap

I saw this prank while surfing the Web Monday night, and I decided to try it for April Fool's Day. I picked up the items at that new thrift store on Main St., where everything is $1 now. My office building has two stories, and a total of about 10 offices. There is a set of bathrooms on each floor, and the men's bathrooms have two stalls. I did this in the second floor men's bathroom when I got there at about 8:15 am.

At about 10:30, I went into the bathroom to check on things. When I got there, the clothes were under the sink, and a co-worker was in there. I innocently asked, "What's up with that?" He said that the boss had fished them out from within the stalls and then went over to the counseling office next door to see if they had patients that were missing clothes. He seems to have assumed people took off their clothes in the stalls, not that someone wanted him to think the stalls were occupied. Maybe I didn't set them up convincingly enough. That's the thing with this particular prank; you can't really see the results without loitering in the bathroom (or setting up a camera, but that's illegal). I overheard the aforementioned co-worker remark to another co-worker in a puzzled manner that one of the pairs of shoes looked like women's shoes, which would be odd (or scandalous) if you subscribe to my boss' theory of events. I had thought for a moment about putting two sets of clothes in one stall, to suggest Larry Craig-type activity. Maybe I should have done that.

Despite my apparent failure to successfully create the impression of occupied stalls and stymieing potential bathroom goers for much of the day, I'll call this prank a moderate success.


The Great Chili Cook-off

Craig and I quickly learned that in order for our marriage to survive, we probably shouldn't spend too much time together in the kitchen. We have very different cooking styles. I like to be precise with my measurements and I don't like to substitute too much. I will use different herbs, or different veggies, or put in brown rice for white, etc but I don't like to just leave out lots of stuff or try a new recipe while simultaneously switching the three main ingredients for other items. Craig has no problem with any of that; in fact, I believe it makes cooking more exciting to him. And if a recipe says stir constantly, it probably only really needs to be checked every few minutes. In the end, his meals normally turn out okay, but I can't watch him without feeling the need to help. And Craig doesn't really appreciate my "helping" him in the kitchen anymore. And if he is going to help me, he has to do it my way, so most of the time he helps by peeling or cutting and that is it. Anything more and we start getting into the danger zone of our marriage.

So when we decided to sign up to make the college group dinner on chili night, it was obvious we would need to go our separate ways. I made chili the way it should be made, with meat, while Craig made his the lame-o way, meatless and sad. The intention was to see which chili had more leftovers and proclaim that chili the loser. It was a good thing Macey's had just had a case sale because we really used a lot of cans of tomatoes and beans. Craig's chili used both black and kidney but I'm partial to the one bean chili.
Here Craig sautees his onions and garlic before adding them to the pot. Now, if I was going to say anything about his cooking, I would ask why he had to dirty another pan when he could have sauteed those items in the big pot, but I am not going to comment so there you go.
And here I am, I'm not really sure what I am doing. Either browning the meat (beef, yum) or sauteeing my onions in a large pan because I am not a frivolous pan dirtier. Oh, I jest. I don't really care how many pans Craig dirties because he normally washes them anyway.
Here they are, the two chilies. See how just a little celery adds so much life to the chili with it's splash of green? Okay, now that I have you all on the edge of your seats, dying to know whose chili reigned supreme, I have to admit that......alas, a larger than normal group of students showed up that night and we had barely enough food to feed them all. It was a nerve wracking 10 minutes while they dished it out and while everyone did get to eat, there were no leftovers so we had to declare it a tie.

In the end, we did decide to compromise. We will keep the celery and meat but we will also use both black and kidney beans next time, so all's well that ends well.