Thursday, December 21, 2006

Why Nobody Should Ever Reach for the Stars

I usually think about stars and planets about as often as I think about pop rocks or canned meat: I'm aware that they exist, and every so often I'll think about them briefly, but that's about it.

Back home, you really couldn't see too many stars; there were just too many lights from too many cities. I'm pretty sure we looked at stars during my seventh-grade Catalina island trip. I remember using a giant telescope to see Mars from an Ohio farm. In elementary school we made eclipse-viewers. Those are my main experiences that I've had with star-gazing.
(In middle school I considered joining the astronomy (ha! I started typing "astrology club") club. I went to the first meeting, even. The club advisor was a teacher who was widely known for 1) picking his nose and 2) being very boring, so I lost interest before the second club meeting.)

But anyway, it turns out that you can see a lot of stars here.

Stars must have seemed incredible to people who lived awhile back. Without "knowing" about stars being luminous balls of plasma, stars would have seemed distant, and mysterious. I know that some cultures had star stuff figured out even better than we do, and it was a big deal to them. It must have been hard to study something that you can't touch or even see really well, especially with old scientific instruments.

And just knowing that stars are no longer is a mystery is enough to make them less interesting to me. I couldn't care less about touching stars or understanding what they are.

I started thinking about 'reaching for the stars.' In light (ha!) of scientific discovery (which, incidentally, predates the notion of reaching for stars), it does not make sense at all.
Suppose you're the tallest person in the world. You're Robert Wadlow, which you're not, and you're 8 feet 11 inches tall. Suppose you jump the largest jump recorded, which the tallest person wouldn't. Javier Sotomayor jumped the highest ever recorded, a jump of 8 feet and 1/2 inches, unaided. His jump was basically 125% of his height. Since your height is about 9 feet, proportionally, you would jump 11 feet and 3 inches. It would never happen, but we'll suppose you're extra ambitious, and in your reaching for the stars, your reach is the highest jump ever jumped. Cool.

The closest star to the Earth is the Sun. We'll suppose that you're reaching for it, even though the phrase isn't "reach for the most proximate star." The Sun is a paltry 93,000,000 miles away from the Earth. The Sun's orbit is elliptical, so we'll suppose you're reaching for the star(s) on January 2nd, when it's only 91.4 million miles away. (This should be easy!)
You reached... 11.25 ft x (1 mile/5280 feet) = 0.00213068182 miles.

0.00213068182 miles / 91400000 miles = 2.33116173 × 10^-11

Reaching ambitiously only gets you one .0000000000233116173th of the way there. Sad.

Suppose you somehow did manage to reach it anyway. (Hooray! right?) The surface of the Sun has a temperature of 6000°C (11000°F). People are cremated between 870-980 °C.
Even if you try your very very very very very best, it doesn't matter or count for anything. And this is supposed to be motivational?

A Google search of "reach for the stars" renders 743,000 results. How did this happen?

To help us all feel a little better, I suggest a modification of the saying. Instead of "Reach for the stars!" I recommend "Reach for your toes!" I know many people who cannot reach their toes. And, with regular effort (yoga classes, perhaps) this feat (ha!) can be achieved.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


My very first district leader was an elder from Kazakhstan. He was fluent in Italian (because his mom is Italian), but he told me that he was kind of surprised that he wasn't called to serve in Russia. (Living in Kazakhstan, he'd learned Russian.) Any time he met anyone who spoke Russian as their first language, he would teach them about the gospel, in Russian. The people were so happy to have someone to talk to in their own language that they would always have lengthy conversations.

One time I asked him how he could pick out the Russians. (I sure couldn't.) He told me that one of the ways he could tell was the way they walked. Since Russians are accustomed to cold weather, snow and ice don't affect their walking at all. They walk...confidently?

I'm not one of those people who claims California because my parents moved there a couple years ago. I am a bona fide, born-and-raised, genuine Californian. I think that this winter is going to make it obvious that I'm not from here. Instead of walking confidently like the Russians, I walk like someone ice skating for the very first time.

I thought someone had really helped us pedestrians out by clearing all of Provo's sidewalks. [Yes! No more choosing between soaked, cold, normal-length pants and artificial high-waters!] Instead, it was all just a cruel joke. Instead of making my pedest-ing more comfortable, it makes it much more difficult. The sidewalks are glazed with ice. The soles of my shoes are unable to grip the cement. I slide all over the place. It's dangerous, really. In order to safely walk anywhere, I'll need those mountain-climber shoes that have spikes on them. For now, I shuffle instead of walking.

Another problem with snow is, it seems like it's in the way. It's sort of like having tracking in real life. On videos, people really don't like it. It gets in their way and bothers them. They press buttons on remotes, fast-forward and rewind, and try to get rid of it. And eventually, hopefully, it goes away. With snow, it's the same to me. I feel like I need to move it out of the way so that I can see things. Too bad universal remotes aren't really universal.

And snow is cold. Very cold.

A final observation about snow: even when it's dark and grey outside, the snow reflects light and everything seems brighter. I do like that.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Update, mostly about work.

As it turns out, I enjoy my new job. I have fun coworkers, and all that.

I've been reading a lot of our books from the "library" that we have in the break room. The Company will give us a free book of our choice if we read five from their list of new books. Us reading them makes it easier for us to sell them because we can recommend books that we've read to customers. The Company likes that.

It's been really funny, though, because I'm reading Church fiction books. Starting to read them has been kind of like starting to drink health shakes; you have to choke them down in the hopes that eventually you'll get used to the strange flavor.

Don't get me wrong; I love, love, love Church reference books. I'm just not used to the fiction ones. My little sister who attends BYUI reads Anita Stansfield (sp?) books. They're supposed to be romance novels. Church romance novels. And that, to me, seems like an oxymoron. It's a well-known fact that romance novels are smutty and plotless. They're full of lust and promiscuity. And those are things that would intentionally be omitted in any church related book. How can a Church romance novel exist? We teased my sister for reading them. She would start telling us how the plot (if you could call it a plot) was progressing, and I would interrupt her: "And they hold hands in the end?"

And now I'm reading the same sort of thing. The books are full of cheesy lines like: "I love you, Adam Price--but I should have known from your name that loving you would exact a big price from me" (p. 15). And the characters talk about their testimonies, and church things. And on the one hand, it's okay, because I talk about church things in real life, too. (So why shouldn't the characters?) And on the other hand, it's a bit like running into your professor at the grocery store or something. It seems really out of place.

There are also fiction series about Nephi and company, or other Book of Mormon characters. I think even if one of those books were placed on the list, I wouldn't read it. It's just too weird. Nephi chats it up with Sariah, and the authors take the liberty of naming characters that are unnamed in the scriptures. Who knew that this stuff existed?!

We also have some interesting customers, just like anywhere else.

A couple days ago I had a real gem. I knew that she was going to be interesting from the first time she opened her mouth. She said, "So I found out that I have a UTI and a bladder infection..." right from the start. Other highlights of our conversation included her looking for a book.

What was it called? She couldn't remember. What was it about? She couldn't remember that either. What type of book was it? She thought for a moment. It was a church book. It was definitely a church book.

I work at a Church bookstore.

She also wanted to find a particular CD. She pointed to one of the CDs that we had out. "It's shaped like this," she told me, to help me know which one she wanted. A CD that came in a CD case. Oh boy.

My break is over, so I'll post more later.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Recent Happenings.

Things that have happened recently:

  • I attended the Joanna Newsom concert, which was amazing.

  • Lavish and I dyed our hair this weekend, for an adventure
  • I started work at a new job. So far, I enjoy it.

Also, the cat is getting bigger. She pounces on things.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Trials of Darryl Hunt

Last night, I went with Brooklyn and Yellow to see a film that was part of the Sundance documentary series.

The Trials of Darryl Hunt was all about this guy who was convicted of a murder that he didn't commit. He spent 20 years in prison while his appeals were denied. Even after DNA testing showed that he wasn't responsible for the rape and murder of the lady wasn't enough to get him a new trial. Finally, they ended up finding the guy who had actually committed the crime, and they let Darryl out of prison.

It was a really interesting story. All along, nobody really had any evidence. People got so fired up because he was a black guy and she was a white woman that it became an emotional issue rather than a logical one.

The thing that really impressed me was that throughout it all, Darryl stayed really positive. When they asked him when he was first being tried if he was angry, he said that he wasn't. He said people make mistakes, and that was one of them. Pretty much all of the video clips of him showed him smiling and calm. He really made the best of his situation. He often talked about God watching out for him.

He's been out of prison for almost two years, now, and he isn't filing charges against anyone. He's moving on. He's serving other people.

In the discussion after the movie, the girl who made the film said that Darryl has started a program to help inmates succeed with the transition to life outside of prison. He has a 90 day? class that teaches people job skills, offers housing, etc, etc, and there have already been 35 or so people to complete it.

When someone asked her what we could do, she said that the best thing we could do would be to participate in prison literacy programs. I'm looking into those now.

I'm really glad that I went to see the movie; I think Darryl offered an amazing example of patience and optimism.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Quick Post

Today, the library smells like cotton candy. I have no idea why it does, but it's glorious.

I'm doing okay. I just got a call inviting me for a job interview, so this post will be shorter than I initially planned on.

The kitty is still cute. She's getting a little bit bigger. Lately she has two new things that she's doing. First, she's practicing pouncing. She'll sneak up to things, and pounce. (Including things like people.) Today I saw her flatten her ears before pouncing on a grocery bag. She loves playing with bags.

The second thing she's been doing lately is becoming curious whenever Lavish and I eat and drink. If we don't watch our glasses carefully, she comes up, sticks her head down into the cup, and drinks our water!

Today I'm making Halloween cookies. They're two layer ones, which is fun because I've never done them before. They should be really cute.

I'm working at the call center again tomorrow. I heard another funny answering machine message. The lady read a scripture from 1 Corinthians and then she said "I've left you a message, now you leave me one." BEEP.

The end.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Stories from work.

Yesterday I made it to work on time. Now I've heard the secrets from the first five minutes that disqualified me from working the first day. As a more informed worker, now I understand why it was just impossible for me to make up those five minutes.

We use computers. Most of them have dialers, which means that the computer dials the number and connects you to people, without you having to press the buttons. Mine didn't have one. That meant that my left hand was dialing a phone:

while my right hand was punching in answers to questions on the computer keypad:

(It reminded me of patting one's head while rubbing one's belly.)

Instead of being one large room like the other center, this call center is a maze. I don't think people are on "teams" like at the other center; at this one it seems like everyone works with everyone. People come and go all day long. Managers wander around. One of them came into our room yesterday and started telling jokes. I wrote them down:

What do you get if you cross a horse with a spider?
Well, I don't know either, but if it bit you, you could ride it to the doctor.

Why do seagulls live by the sea?
Because if they lived by the bay they'd be bagels.

Why do elephants paint their toenails red?
So they can hide in cherry trees.
You ever seen an elephant in a cherry tree?
See! It works.

Why is the football stadium at BYU covered in astro-turf?
To keep the cheerleaders from grazing at half-time.

Even better than the jokes, I heard my favorite answering machine, ever. It's hard to beat "Jesus loves you; leave a message!" (which I heard at the other call center) but my new favorite is:

[bored female voice] "Hi." (pause.) "Now you say something." BEEEEP.

Maybe one of my favorite things about working at this place is that at the end of the day I exit right across from the Provo library. When I was working at the job before, I'd finish and wish that I could go home. And I would have to patiently endure two hours of transit time before I was really finished for the day. Here, I finish and begin to dread another bus ride. And then I see the library, and my world is rosy because I know that my house is almost as close as the nearest bus stop.

Also good news: my morning job is starting another fitness competition. We get bonuses if we exercise regularly. Sweet. I just keep liking them better and better.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Three (and a half) new things.

This morning I woke up sick. So I called into work, sick. And I stayed in bed. (Attempts to sleep in the afternoon have been futile.) It was nice.
Except that my temp agency called to offer me work. Today(!) from 12-7. At a place that's 4-ish blocks from my house. I accepted, and got up.
[.5 - New Job]
I walked to the place, and arrived at about 12:02. I stood at the front desk for a couple minutes and then realized that nobody was stationed there. I dinged the bell. A man came out to the desk and invited me to follow him through a maze to a room that had about six people sitting and one woman standing. The woman looked at me, and looked at the clock.
Her: "It's 12:05. I don't usually let anyone start after 12:05."
Me: "Oh, I'm sorry."
Her: "No, it's fine. You'll just have to come back tomorrow. Are you scheduled for tomorrow? [I nod.] They only give me half an hour to do training, so I just can't let you stay."
The man escorted me out of the maze. I'm not exaggerating, people. I was supposed to be there for seven hours, and they asked me to leave because I was five minutes late. (They couldn't use five minutes of my break to catch me up? Eh well.)
So now I'm out of bed and ready for the day. Great.
Other things that have happened recently:

[1.5 New Food]

I discovered the wonder known as pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. As a child, I was raised in a cave, far from civilization. Since I had virtually no contact with the outside world, I was never introduced to pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.
A few days ago, at Williams Sonoma, I was offered a sample of pumpkin bread. The lady working there had taken the liberty of adding chocolate chips to it. It tasted wonderful. "These would make great cookies," I thought. As it turns out, they already exist! L'afro offered me her fail-proof recipe for delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I planned to make them, except that the grocery store didn't have one of the key ingredients. Instead, I made a different recipe for them---a recipe that yielded 10 dozen cookies.
I thought pumpkin and chocolate would go together about as well as Jello would with onions. Instead, the combination of pumpkin and chocolate tastes so natural and right that I just can't understand why pumpkins grow with seeds instead of chocolate chips in the middle.

[2.5 New Entertainment]

On Thursday, I saw Divine Comedy for the first time.

I was really excited about it; I've been hearing about DC since I started reading archives of the Board in April.

I was kind of worried that: 1) Their humor wouldn't be funny to me since I wouldn't understand BYU jokes. 2) Since I'd heard so many good things about them, my expectations would be too high. (That's what happened with Harry Potter.)

Instead, I had a great time. They're awesome.

[3.5 New Pet]

This weekend, Lavish and I got a kitten. She's exactly the kind we wanted.
She's tiny. We got a bottle for her yesterday.
She is a good combination of playful and cuddly. She plays with everything-- her tail, her feet, the carpet, ribbons, bouncy balls, etc. And she's friendly. She doesn't hide when people come over.

The end.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What's left of the rain runs down my roof...

Things that improved my afternoon:

1. Finding this.

2. Someone randomly sent Sudoku to my phone. What a delightful surprise!

"no news is no news"

I don't watch the news very often. Or even follow it, for that matter.

Periodically, I go through phases where I feel very interested in newspapers, and knowing what's going on...but usually, I don't. (Although I do become informed before I vote on things.)

I think that the news is generally depressing and speculative. It makes me worry about things that I can't do anything about. It takes time to follow. And of course, I know that this is a terribly pessimistic and isolating perspective.

But anyway. When my mom texted me last night about the New York plane crash, I hadn't even heard about it. Apparently it had been on the news all afternoon. She wrote in the text that it was one of our friend's flying students. They weren't sure if our friend had been in the plane or not.

And then, we found out that he was. They didn't announce his name in the news yesterday since his wife didn't know about it, but it's all over the news today. His family flew out to New York last night.

And the whole thing seems so weird to me. When big things happen on the news, it's usually about other people. It's about far-away people.

All day today, my stomach has been in knots. And I keep randomly having to wipe my tears away.

Tyler was a really good guy. His family has always been like an extension of my family; if my mom couldn't drive me somewhere, his mom did. As kids, Lavish and I spent nights at their house regularly. We were friends with his sisters. He and Lavish had the same birthday.

I feel so sorry for his family, and his wife and kids.

The whole thing seems surreal.

There are a bunch of articles about it now, but I like this one.

[Incidentally, my supervisor at work was also in an accident yesterday; he backed his car into a Ferrari. (Of all cars!) The paint on the bumper will just need to be touched up, but the owner of the car is a real jerk. It's going to be an expensive paint job. Poor guy.]

Stay safe, everyone.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I Couldn't Find It.

Today has been a day of remembering that I need a car.

I left for the new job an hour early. And I found out that the bus route that used to pass within, oh, 8-9 blocks of the place has changed. There's road construction that's been going on for months, and now my bus doesn't even go through the right city.

Plus, the bus takes for-e-ver to get to my faraway drop-off point because it goes down streets with a speed limit of 25 mph.

But I'm a trooper, and I like walking. So I went. By my estimation, my workplace was about 12-15 blocks from the improvised bus stop. At a brisk pace, I walked and walked. And walked. Just like the pioneer children. (I even sang along with my ipod music.)

And the blocks were not the same as in Provo; they were longer. And then, they were disappointing because blocks weren't numbered by 100s. Instead of going from 400 to 300 to 200, I went from 400 to 360 to 320 to 300, etc.

And after I walked across the entire city of Lindon (I'm pretty sure), I realized that the numbers had stopped matching up. I was lost. Oh, I knew where I was, but I had no idea where the job place was.

So I called my agency, and they told me that I wasn't even close. They said I should go home and see if I could work out my transportation issues.

And I missed driving.

Then I took a bus back to Provo and went to the grocery store. They're having a big cereal sale so I bought my eight boxes. Also, stuff to make a surprise dinner for Lavish tonight. And I half forgot that I would need to somehow take a cart-full of things to my house without the cart. By the time I finished walking 5 more blocks, I really missed driving.

I need a car. Or a mule.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I finally quit my job today.

I'll miss my friends from there, but really, it's a Very Good Thing.

Tomorrow I'm going to start work at some Halloween costume place. It pays more, and is slightly closer to Provo.

I'll probably post more about this later.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Interviews with the Vampires

One of my earliest memories that I have is of going with my dad to the City of Hope, a cancer hospital, when he would donate blood. They'd let me sit on the bed with him while he donated, and then at the end they would wrap a colorful elastic bandage on my arm, and we ate Oreos and drank juice together.

Dad started donating blood in high school because they were offering free food to donors. And he's donated ever since then. Last year (?) the City of Hope honored my dad and had him speak at something because he's donated so much.

I'm not as regular as he is, but I've donated blood a bunch of times since I turned 17. One time they asked my mom and sisters and I if we would like to try donating platelets, and we decided to do it. Platelets are like...white blood cells. They need them for cancer patients because their white blood cells count has to be at a certain level before they can do more chemo. You can donate them once every two weeks, and it takes about 2 hours of being hooked up to a machine. They give you headphones and your own little tv, though, so it isn't bad. My sisters and mom and I went some Saturdays before my mission. Our family is just all about sharing bodily fluids like that. It seems like a nice thing to do.

When I moved up here, I wanted to keep donating platelets to help cancer patients. Apparently, though, you can only donate them in Salt Lake. Which is too far for me. Plasma seemed like a slightly less exciting substitution. They never paid us at the cancer hospital, so we were just doing a nice thing. Being paid for my plasma seems so...prostitutional. But my mom said that it was just like they were paying me for my time. And they make money on the stuff anyway. So I decided to try it.

(Oh, gosh. )

So yesterday, I decided that I would go donate in between jobs.

It was like completing an obstacle course. I'm so serious. I'm not used to so much red tape!

I went, and they sent me to Booth #1 to answer a dozen-ish yes/no questions. Someone would be right with me. So I filled out the form, and I sat. And waited. And started reading The Daily Universe that I had with me. And finished reading it. And I realized it had been nearly half an hour. Hm. And then a guy opened the door from the normal-people side. He was surprised and embarrassed to find me in there. He quickly closed the door. And then one of the girls on the plasma-center side opened the door, and she was surprised and embarrassed to find me in there too. They'd forgotten about me! Someone would be right with me, they said.

And they were. A girl came and asked me the questions I'd already answered. They were questions like "In the last 12 months, have you ever touched your elbow, or looked at someone who had touched their elbow in the last 12 months, to the best of your knowledge?" (okay, not really) and "Have you ever taken medication." (Um. Yes?)

They got really concerned about me having donated platelets within the past 4 months, and then decided that 2 months was sufficient. So I passed my pre-screening.

And then I had to pass my vein-check. (Vein check?!) A girl tied a rubber strip around my arm and looked for my vein. "Make a fist," she said. Um. Okay. I explained that my right arm has a good vein, and that my left arm's is hard to find. They always use my right arm. She wanted to look anyway, though, so she checked my left arm, too. And then she needed a second opinion.

So she called in a good-looking guy to reevaluate my veins. He tied the rubber tighter. "This is going to sound weird," he said, "but grab my thumb." People! Invest in squeezing balls! I cooperated, and he decided that I would be okay. "I'm going to pass you off today. But you need to do exercises so that you can strengthen your veins. " Whaaaat....Exercises? To strengthen my veins? Who does vein exercises? I don't know. It just kind of seems like doing exercises to strengthen my spleen. Or the bridge of my nose. Who does that? "My wife did them and she was able to donate within a week," he added.

So I was ready to donate.

They pulled out the appointment book, to set an appointment. The hour and a half or whatever that I'd spent there was not part of my 2-3 hour "first" appointment. Before I could donate, I needed to do a bunch of paperwork and have a medical exam. When did I want to come in?

So I didn't donate. Instead, I set an appointment for today. I went and bought a stress-ball from Sports Authority, and started my special exercises. And I laughed on the inside about how I could blog about being forgotten and having to squeeze a guy's thumbs.

Boy, I had no idea what I was in for.

Today I showed up for my appointment and did more paperwork. In ten minutes they would call me for my interview, so I worked on a jigsaw puzzle, content to be nearly finished. I still wasn't, though!

I went for the interview, and then I had to pee in a cup.

Then I had to go to the front and formally sign in. ("You walk up here, stand on the scale, say your full name and the last four digits of your Social Security Number.") Then you move over, and they prick your finger to check your hematocrit (sp?). Then you move over and stick both hands under a black light. Nothing lit up, so they knew that I didn't donate somewhere else, and invisibly-inked my right pinkie finger. So that everyone would know that they were my plasma center.

And then I waited some more. For a physical! I seriously had to change into a hospital gown and have my abdomen poked at, etc.

And then I had to have my picture taken.

All to donate!

So I was finally ready, and they sent me back to the donation room. I got set up, and everything was going fine. Everyone was impressed that I had my own squeeze ball instead of squeezing a piece of pipe like they were doing. And by everyone, I mean a bunch of guys. There wasn't one other girl in the whole room!

Until partway through, I started to tingle. My fingers did, actually. And the machine returned my blood, and I felt fine again. And then it took more blood out again, and my fingers tingled again. And then my hand cramped and I couldn't squeeze my ball-thing anymore. And my arm started tingling and cramping. And then my other arm did. I told them, and they called the doctor. She stopped the machine and returned my blood slowly. I started blacking out, and couldn't hear things. I strained to keep my eyes open. They brought me a wet washcloth for my forehead and a trash can, since I told them that I was about to throw up. I did. A few times. And as my blood returned, I started feeling better.

So they started the machine again. And, whaddoyaknowit, it happened again. Faster, though. I seriously thought I was going to pass out. Instead, I just threw up some more. They decided that I was done.

I donated probably, oh, 3/4 of what they wanted.

It was a funny experience, though. I still smiled a lot, and was friendly, and unconcerned, even though everyone else was worried. ("Why did that happen?" a nurse asked, and I explained how the calcium works. City of Hope handed out calcium chews when you arrived, and then during donation if you started to tingle. And then the tingling went away.)

And when I finshed, my blood pressure stayed low, so they made me stay in bed for almost an hour, checking my blood pressure and pulse every 10 or 15 minutes.

I guess stuff like that only happens once every 6 months or so. Lucky me.

The end.

Monday, October 02, 2006

My Busy Weekend

I have had such an exciting weekend.

The whole time, I've been participating in an ongoing battle. I keep halfway starting to get sick. This is mostly Lavish's fault, I'm sure, but my diligent coworkers who bring their germs to work don't help much either. So I've been taking vitamins every day (and sometimes more than once a day, since they taste good). I've been using ZICAM, which is basically amazing. I've been sleeping. And I alternate between feeling fine and feeling less fine.

But it doesn't stop there, folks--my weekend was much better than that.

Thursday, I went to go see Band of Horses in Salt Lake City with Optimistic and Alyssa. The concert was amazing, and Optimistic wrote an excellent review so I'll let you read that if you want to. Also, we got there early, so I finally bought my first pair of shoes. (In California I only wore flip-flops.) (And by first, I don't really mean first first. I mean first in...well...years.)

Friday, my little sister (attending BYUI) came to visit. That night, Lavish, my sister and her roommate, and I all attended...the Circus! My favorite part was either the part with the elephants or the part with the trapeze artists.

Saturday we watched General Conference on Lavish's computer. We completed the "Conference Challenge" that our little sister in California wanted to do with us. I really enjoyed this conference, actually.

Also Saturday, I had the best idea ever. Lavish and I had decided that we wanted to have people over, but we didn't know what we wanted to do. During the first session of conference, I had the idea that we should throw a birthday party for a few of the apostles.

I made invitations that read "You're invited to celebrate our birthday..." and had a nice little birthday picture on the front. (It was meant to confuse people. Or surprise them. Lavish's birthday is in April. Mine is in August. It would make no sense to celebrate our birthdays in October.) And then, on the inside, it had the pictures of President Packer, Elder Ballard, and Elder Nelson--all wearing birthday hats. It was awesome. Then there were the details of the party and FOOD! GAMES! PRIZES! etc written around it. The party featured "Pin the tie on the Prophet" and other birthday party games. We had everyone decorate cupcakes, and we put together fun goodie-bags. There may possibly be pictures from this in the future. We'll see. Of course I couldn't

Also Saturday, I finished my application for BYU. I should know the results of that within a couple of weeks. If I get accepted, great. If not, I'll either a) do night school, b) become a flight attendant, c) become a substitute teacher, or d) none of the above. I guess we'll see what happens. Those are the ideas so far.

The End.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Spiders, part IV

I'm pleased to announce that I've experienced a paradigm shift.

After my initial post about spiders, someone explained a theory he had about bees and spiders, etc. I don't completely remember the conversation, but I walked away considering the idea that spiders and bees maybe, possibly, are not very emotional creatures. Whoever it was told me that he didn't really think that they had feelings. It was something I had never really thought about. At the time of the conversation, I'll admit that I was less than convinced of his viewpoint.

All along, I've been feeling like spiders and bees were part of some sort of conspiracy. And as I continue to reflect on the conversation that I had with whichever friend it was, I realize more and more that my thoughts were completely irrational and, really, impossible. Insects and arachnids simply do not hold conferences to discuss attacking humans. They don't have squashing drills where they practice dodging shoes or jumping around wads of tissue. Big spiders don't tell baby spiders about the thrill of scaring a poor girls into abandoning perfectly good blankets or rooms. They just don't. It's all just very disturbing anthropomorphism, and it probably stems from books like Charlotte's Web and James and the Giant Peach.

Since then, I've realized that my friend is right. And suddenly, spiders seem much less dangerous that they did before.

I have exciting evidence that attests to my change: I have (personally) killed four spiders in the last three days. And two other insects. And I smashed all of them with my bare hands! Okay, not really. I actually used tissue for three of them. And a shoe for a really big and juicy one. I'm so proud of myself, though, because I really couldn't kill spiders before. It's still progress, though. The best I could do was spray excessive amounts of smelly spider-killer on them, and even then I was afraid to pick up the bodies for fear that they would come back to life.

You still won't see me on Fear Factor anytime soon, but I would like to thank whoever it was that I chatted with.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Did you hear about Hugo and Kim?

Almost every day, funny things happen at the call center.

Management specifically tells us not to try to convince people to be interested in online college classes: either they are interested, or they are not, and either answer is okay. We just want to know.

People don't realize that, though. They think that we're going to pressure them to spend money or sign up for something, so they get really defensive. They just wanted their FREE! Dinner for two at Chili's! or FREE! Pair of jeans! Or to WIN! A laptop!!! and so they clicked some button saying that they were interested in college classes.

Occasionally, people will admit that they just wanted the free thing, and that they're not really interested. I commend their honesty. More often, people will say they "made a mistake," and that's okay too. (I've made a huge mistake!) Or they'll say that they don't remember filling the form out. Fine. [My personal favorite response is "Oh, I changed my mind. I'm not interested anymore." In that one, they're taking responsibility for having expressed the interest (however fleeting and related to incentive), and still communicating their disinterest politely.]

Other times, interesting things happen. Sometimes people (other than the ones that we're calling for) start interrogating us (sometime I'll have to post about the time that I actually was interrogated...). When it happens, it usually turns out to be:

1) A jealous spouse. (Sad. My husband and I will not have trust issues when telemarketers call.)
woman's voice: "Hello?"
me: "Hi, is John there?"
her: "Who is this?"
me: "It's [me] with the [Company], is he there?"
her: "Why are you calling?"
me: "He had expressed an interest in some college classes. Can I talk to him?"
her: "College classes?!"
me: "Yes..."
her: "And you're from where?"
me: [sigh.]

2) A concerned parent. Since people are kind of greedy, they sometimes try to maximize their share of FREE!* (*but not really) stuff by signing up their children for free stuff too.

"Hi, is Madison there?"
"Madison? What's the last name?"
"Yeah. Jones. Is she there?"
"Um. Well, this is the Jones', but...Madison? What does this regard?"
"Oh, I'm calling her back about some college classes she had expressed an interest in. Can I talk to her?"
"Who is this?!"
"It's [me]. She'd filled out a form saying she was interested--"
"College classes!! Madison is two months old!"
"Oh! I guess that's a little early to be starting college."
"Yeah, I don't know how that happened!"
(I do.)

In another variation of this, a kid actually does sign up, but they're too young and don't have their parents' permission. This is especially concerning to parents when my male coworkers call for their middle-school aged daughters.

3) A confused relative. This is actually a variation of #2.

"Yeah, is he there?"
"Um. Henry? What is this about?"
"Oh, I'm calling him back about some college classes she had expressed an interest in. Can I talk to him?"
"Who is this?!"
"It's [me]. He'd filled out a form saying she was interested--"
"No! College classes!! Henry is 293847239 years old!"
"Yeah, he's not interested in classes. I don't know how -that- happened!"
(I do.)

4) Something completely random.

We tell people that we're calling from the "Career Institute" and sometimes people misunderstand what we're saying. One time a guy got really mad that my coworker Joe was calling.

"Who IS this?"
"It's Joe."
"From WHERE?"
"The Career Institute."
"[much calmer] Oh! You had me worried there for a minute. I thought you said you were calling from the "Queer Institute."

Or another time, as an attempt to embarrass my coworkers, a guy pretended to be really friendly on the phone, but kept giving pornographic...instructions? to someone that was in the background. Really disgusting stuff. The high school kids who called him loved it. The called back again, and put the guy on speaker phone, and he did it again. I was already tired of their immaturity and lack of professionalism, and after that, I had them moved.

Yesterday, I heard a lady frantically tell someone on her side of the phone that there were police all around the house. She returned to our call and asked me if I could please hold for two minutes. I could, I told her. It took more than two minutes, but when she came back, she was really interested in online college classes. She wanted to take criminal justice classes. Didn't matter which degree, she said. I found that amusing.

Also yesterday, I called a nun. She wasn't there, but that left me with some questions. Can nuns take college classes? Do they use the Internet? Do they apply for FREE!* dinners and jeans and to become mystery shoppers? Do their relatives do that on their behalf? I just really didn't expect that from them.

Last week I kept calling a Mary Katherine. We keep the same papers, so I call each person up to four times (until I talk to them) and then the morning people will try four more times if I don't get ahold of them. WELL. I remembered M.K. because she had it set up so that it plays music while you wait for her to answer. We draw music notes next to the people that have those. Usually they're ghetto songs, but hers was lovely classical music that I enjoyed listening to. I had already listened to it three times when I called her on Friday. After the music it goes to her answering machine where she tells you in her southern accent that you've reached Mary Katherine and she isn't available, blah blah blah. On Friday, though, she answered.

"Hi, this is [me] with the [Company], how are you?"
"Ahblow espainyol." [WHAT? I was shocked. She had just told me in a thick American accent that she spoke spanish. I knew full well that she spoke English, but I thought I'd humor her...]
"Hablamos espanol!" [I told her that we spoke her language.] She hung up on me.

Yesterday I was rude to someone on the phone for the first time. And I think that's commendable, since I've been working there for a month. A lady kept asking me who I was. Over and over again. And I told her that I'm [me] and I was calling for Uzo. And she kept not understanding, and I kept asking if Uzo was there, and if it was the right number. And the lady was really rude. She said, "If you don't know who you're calling, just get off the phone." And she hung up on me! And I was annoyed. Because I did know who I was calling. So I called her back and said, "Listen! You don't have to be rude. If it's the wrong number, just say so!" And I hung up on her. And everyone around me stared, because I never raise my voice on the phone.

The end.

Monday, September 25, 2006

...and men are that they might have joy...

Life is good.

I don't have much to report other than that I'm happy. I can't remember ever being happier, actually.

One of the big things that I learned on my mission was that my happiness does not (and should not!) depend on external things. And I'm sure that's helped... but I feel like everything is finally falling into place.

I'm working. And one of my jobs is a job that I really love. The other job...isn't. But I have made friends there, and they offer me a lot of hours and throw cheesy parties.

I'm doing pretty well spiritually. I'm happy with my new calling. I got home-taught twice! yesterday.

My apartment is nearly finished being painted, and that is a Very Good Thing. I enjoy living with my sister.

I have amazing friends.

I'm going to a concert this week. It's 'Band of Horses' and I'm really looking forward to it.

I'm falling out of like with the guy that I've been interested in. And that will be okay. [Also, I'm discovering that I need to set some different criteria for guys that I want to be interested in. Previously, the qualifications were: 1) intelligence 2) spirituality 3) personality. The problem is, now, 1) to get into BYU in the first place, guys have to be relatively intelligent; 2) They also tend to be members of the Church, although their spirituality does range; 3) Since my mission, I get along with pretty much everyone. So I'm pretty much impressed with basically half of Provo. (Okay, not really. But you get the idea.)] I think I'm finally completely over The Boyfriend, too, which is another Very Good Thing.

I have my phone, so I never feel too stranded or lost. Also, I'm remembering where things are in the Provo/Orem area. And that's always nice.

I'm exercising regularly. (Hm. Maybe that's why I'm happy. Endorphins.) One of my coworkers wants us to start exercising together after work every day, and the idea sounds wonderful to me. Despite my lack of coordination, good workouts are one of my Favorite Things. And I take vitamins again, which makes me feel healthy.

Problems are being worked out. I thought that I was going to have to fly to California a couple weeks ago to keep resolving something, and instead, some deep thought and an extremely productive phone call resulted in a favorable outcome. Which is to say, I didn't have to fly to California and won't in the future, either.

Those are the things that come to mind right now. Life is still very busy, and sometimes very stressful, but overall, I am happy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The End.

My dear readers, I regret to inform you that I won't be around to write for you much longer.

You see, I'll die a miserable death this winter: I'll most certainly freeze to death.

I remember suffering from a severe case of layer-fatigue during my winters in Italy. I hoped that nearly eradicating skirts and dresses from my wardrobe would ameliorate that problem. Avoiding skirts can only do so much good, though-- we're still in September (September!) and I alternate between feeling smothered and feeling freezing cold.

My poor Southern Californian blood is simply not accustomed to these extreme temperatures. As it is, I'll have to buy shoes this weekend. I only own flip-flop sandals, but I fear that I'll lose my toes if I don't bury them in shoes. I'll also buy socks. Who knows if I'll end up buying boots, too.

I'm already drinking hot cocoa every day. Sometimes twice a day. What will I do in December? Or January?

If I am not buried in snow (while, say, waiting for a bus), please do have a nice funeral service for me. Might I suggest hyacinth or hellebore as flowers? They thrive in winter climates, and that might suggest to the people who attend that although I was unable to withstand the cold, there is still hope for them.

Monday, September 18, 2006


O, public transportation:
How do I hate thee?
Let me count the ways.
I hate thee for thy inaccessability,
and for thy excessive cost,
and for thy complete and utter disregard for schedules...

I've had some (adjective) experiences with public transportation lately.

I expected to be a seasoned bus-rider. After all, I've been riding buses for nearly two years now. We used buses for most of my mission. But the buses in Italy have different norms than the buses here. In Italy, people always enter the front doors, and exit in the back. Exiting from the front doors is strongly prohibited. Entering the back doors is, too. And so, when my bus pulls up, I am often over-eager to board the bus. I step up through the front doors, and the bus driver tells me "Wait! Not yet!" because there are people lined up to exit the bus from the same doors. It's poor organization, if you ask me. Sometimes, the bus driver doesn't warn me in time, and people run into me as they try to disembark. It's embarrassing.

Also, in Italy, they expect you to be able to balance. The bus only stops long enough for people to board, and then it keeps going! Here, you board, chat a little, the driver waits for you to find a seat, and then you're late for your transfer bus.

Another difference is: I am nearly convinced that UTA is owned and operated by a private mental institution.

In Italy, public transportation is very mature, and normal people use it as an alternative to high fuel costs and extreme traffic congestion. Here, it seems to be the internal transportation system of the mentally disabled, offered to the public at a cost-- sort of like how you can attend a library that technically isn't your library, but it costs a lot and is inconvenient to get to.

I offer evidence:

I saw a old man at the transfer center who was stark raving mad. He would begin talking to people, call them over, and then wouldn't let them leave. A man from the bus company told him that they'd had this conversation before; he wasn't allowed to be on the premises. Why-ever not, he wanted to know? Part of the reason was the bottle that he was clutching in his left hand. Would he please leave? No. But the police would be called. And that didn't matter. Bus Man went off to call the police and the guy kept talking to people. He started asking for money. He told people he wanted water. Could he have money to buy water? People would point to a drinking fountain that was 20 feet away. They would tell him that they didn't have money to give him, but he could use the drinking fountain. And he'd ask them to BRING the drinking fountain to him. Or water from it, anyway. When people said that they didn't have cups, the guy would go off about how all people in Utah are hypocrites! And he would start yelling about it. The police finally arrived as my bus was pulling away.

Interesting things happen ON the bus, too. One man waited until the bus was pulling away from the stop to yell frantically at the driver: "LET ME OFF THE BUS NOW!!!" "I WANT OFF!!"

Or, another guy watched a lady talking to the driver, raised his hand to mimic a gun, and used his finger-gun to shoot at her repeatedly.

Another time, a guy with a really loud voice explained to a woman that the way to raise an IQ (even one of, say, 50? the woman asked...) was to "give the brain credit" for everything that it knows. Because people know things subconsciously, and there are connections there. We just don't give our brains enough credit. [He talked about this for an hour.] I saw him on the bus again a few days ago, and this time he was telling jokes. I wish I remembered some, because they were quality jokes. People around him actually asked him to stop talking.

People are usually friendly, like him. I've found this to be especially true with my bus drivers. They're usually the same every day, and when I'm the only person on the bus, we sometimes chat. This was especially true before I got my ipod. I had a conversation with one of my bus drivers in Italian. And that was pleasant.

Other friendly gestures are less appreciated. On Friday, for example, a guy came up to me while I was waiting for my bus at the transit center. He introduced himself and then said, "I want to go see a movie tonight, but I don't want to go alone. I'll pay for you. Will you go with me?" I told him I was busy, even though I hadn't decided what I was doing that night. It was instinctual, really. There was no conversation to prepare me for his invitation, and I have a natural inclination to refuse date invitation from guys that I don't already know.

Well, I'd better go. It's almost time to catch another bus.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Another post.

Last week I had my Personal Industrial Revolution.

I opened a bank account, and the bank is sending me a free ipod (!) sometime soon. I got a cellphone. And then a couple days later, I won another ipod (!) at work. Optimistic filled my little ipod with wonderful music, and now I feel like I'm living in a movie because my life has music playing in the background, all day long. (Ichinichigiu?)

It's so nice to have a phone. I'm so happy to finally have one, that I've downloaded a bunch of stuff. I have games! And I've been downloading ringtones, too. My phone is so personalized. One of my favorite features of the phone is that it has photo caller ID and individuals can have their own ringtones. For example, if Robert Poste were to call, his picture would show up and the ringtone would be a lively tune that I chose and downloaded just for him.

I have the 'California' song (that everyone sang to me in Italy) for my CA people. For my mom and little sister, I have the theme from 'The Hills' because we used to watch it together.

These are good things.

Except...unfortunately, my phone never actually rings.

The first reason is because people seldom call me.

The second reason is because both of my jobs ask that we limit cellphone usage. I keep my phone in my pocket and it vibrates instead of ringing. (It's less exciting than personalized stuff, but still functional.)

Last night, though, it proved to be a problem.

I went to Optimistic's apartment to watch the second half of Apollo 13 and an episode of Arrested Development. And then I left.

I am terribly uncoordinated, but I do love exercise. Before my mission, I had a gym membership and I would often go to the gym, or go running outside at 11ish pm. It was wonderful.

After a year and a half of daily pasta consumption, and two jobs that require a lot of sitting (as opposed to waitressing, which is great exercise), I decided yesterday that it was time to restart with something active.

Earlier in the day, I bought athletic shoes, and I went to Optimistic's apartment with every intention of exercising afterwards. I wore loose athleticish pants that had no pocket, so my phone was in my bag instead.

I exercised, and started walking home in the rain. It felt so nice. (A German saying: Rain makes beautiful.)

A block away from my house, someone honked at me. I thought maybe it would be someone from church, or something, but it turned out to be Optimistic and Robert Poste!

They explained that Lavish had worried I'd been kidnapped because I didn't come home right away.

They had tried calling me. And of course, I didn't hear my phone because it didn't ring.

When I got home, Lavish explained that she worried because I keep being impressed with how nice people in Provo are. I once took a ride from a stranger in a Provo monsoon, and so she worried that I'd taken a ride from a stranger (because of the rain), and that it had turned out to be someone that wasn't nice. ("Couldn't you choose some other time to exercise?!") And that was why she'd dispatched the search party.

The whole thing kind of surprised me, though. I expected all three of them to be asleep. And I'm 1/8 sorry for keeping them from getting to bed earlier, but really I'm 7/8 deeply satisfied. Because I have wonderful friends. If there actually had been a problem, I wouldn't have been dead in some ditch somewhere for a week before people noticed that I was missing. And I was thinking about how lucky/blessed I am to have real friends when I realized that I have another story about this. But it'll be for another time; my break is already over and I need to get back to work.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hello? Who is this?

I am thoroughly enjoying Job #1. I've been auditing lately. It's been fun because I get to see some delightful old advertising. I've been working on old telphone books from England, which features half page ads with messages like:

Call Up Your Friends By Telephone


Don't say HULLO
Announce Your Identity

They're wonderful.

(As an aside: If anyone knows someone with images that they would like to have scanned and lots of rolls of old film. Or microfiche. Or very old books... to have scanned. Do let me know. They've started offering our services to the public, and I get an ipod if I refer someone who signs a contract.)

Job #2...Well. I still have mixed feelings about it. Lavish told me that I've gone to the "Dark Side." Hm. I told her that I didn't like it either, but that they were going to be paying me. (She replied, "Would you be an abortion doctor if the pay was good?") So, as penance, I've decided to share some dirty secrets.

  1. Don't click on pop-up ads for Free Laptops! Free Dinners! Free Jeans! or Free! anything else. Just don't do it. If you do, you will enter your personal contact information (for your Free! thing, right?) and then they will ask you to sign up for different offers. One of them may be for school on the Internet. Just say no! Every little button you click means that your information will be sold to other people. Then at the end, they'll force you to either sign up for something that costs real money, or you'll give up. And your information is out there, either way. People will call you like crazy.
  2. If someone on the phone tells you that they got your information from a form you filled out, you probably did it. Even if you don't remember doing it. We really don't call up random people for kicks. ALSO, other people sometimes enter your information in those sorts of things (all it takes is your name and phone number) in order to get back at you for something. We're not asking for your credit card info on the phone, so you don't have to be suspicious about us having shady motivations. Our shady motivation is just to sell your information to more people. Which isn't great, but isn't much worse than you filling out the form in the first place.
  3. Supposing that someone calls you and you're not interested, what should you do? Well, if it's us, you should answer the phone and tell us that you're not interested. We don't try to change peoples' minds about things, we just call to see if you're interested or not. Some people think that ignoring the calls is a good solution. It really isn't. If you never answer when we call, we will call you 8 times (4 in the morning, 4 in the afternoon/evening). And then, you go on a "never contacted" list that we will pull out later when we don't have enough new people to call. If, instead, you tell us that you're not interested the first time that we call, we won't call you again.
  4. If you think that saying "DO NOT CALL ME AGAIN!" will get you taken off of "the list", you're wrong. The only time we put people on the Do Not Call list is if they specifically say the word "list". If people call you, tell them to take you off of the list. By law, they have to do so, and send you something saying that they did within a month. If you don't use the magic word "list" we just write "Not Interested." Which is a little different. (One man here in Utah makes a couple hundred thousand dollars every year by looking for pop-ups all day long, putting his information in EVERYTHING, and telling companies to take him off of their list. If they don't send him something within a month, he sues them. And he wins, over and over.)
  5. Your information is very valuable. Some companies will pay hundreds of dollars for ONE name and phone number. They told us about a list of 20 names that was worth thousands of dollars because they came from a really good survey. Or something. But who knew there was so much in it for other people?

The end.

Calling people is sometimes funny. I'll post some Job #2 stories later. And bus stories.

Right now, it's time for dinner.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Spiders, Part I

A couple nights ago, there was a massive spider on my wall, right above my bed. My eyes widened and I backed away.

I offered to spray it with spider-killer and Lavish said that I couldn't because it would make our room smell. She told me to smash it. I couldn't. "I can't," I told her. I'm terribly afraid of spiders. She tried to talk me into killing it by making it sound like it was simple. But I still couldn't do it. Since it was such a simple thing for her, I suggested she kill it. "It's on your wall," she said.

So we tried to talk our other sister (visiting for the weekend) into killing it. "Here's what I am willing to do: Give me a BIG piece of Tupperware, and a BIG piece of cardboard..." She went to look for suitable trapping material, and found one of our roommates (who had just returned from a long camping trip).
"T, are you afraid of spiders?"
"No." (She wasn't. I bet she catches spiders with her bare hands, just for fun.)
"If you'll kill this one, you'll be my hero forever."

My sister tried to warn her about the size of the monster that was occupying my wall, and roommate didn't even care. She probably thought my sister was exaggerating. The roommate came into our room and said, "Holy crap, that is huge." And then she smashed it with a little piece of tissue. And that was the end of it.

I started wondering: why am I so afraid of spiders?! Bees and june bugs elicit similar reactions.

The classic reasons that people are not supposed to be afraid of spiders are:
1. They're small. (But so are many dangerous pathogens...)
2. They're more afraid of us than we are of them. (I'm not so sure about this one. How can something that simple know to be afraid of me? Also, many small dogs act like they're bigger than they are. Chihuahuas bark at big dogs all the time.)
3. Spiders have never hurt me. (That I know of.)

But to some degree, these things are true. It would therefore be logical to decide that I'm not afraid of spiders. Too bad it isn't that simple.

I've figured this out, though. The reason I am afraid of spiders is because they have superpowers. Consider these examples:
  • They walk up walls.
  • They have extra limbs. (Note: Octopuses also have extra limbs, and they are equally scary. In movies, they are virtually impossible to defeat.)
  • They have eyes that face different directions. Which equates to special vision power.
  • They can fly. (Not true of all spiders, because technically if they fly, they're not spiders. However, there are some insects that look quite a bit like spiders that do fly. Also, this reason is especially poignant when it comes to fear of bees and june bugs.)
  • They hang in mid air.
  • They disappear and reappear, which gives them the element of surprise.
  • They are armed and dangerous, sort of. I've heard that some spiders have 1000s of tiny teeth, and are poisonous. (Just, their mouths are too small to be able to bite us.) (Bees have a stinger, which means they're always armed, which puts them on the offensive.)

And with so many convincing reasons, it's no wonder that spiders terrify me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I'm still here.

I actually haven't disappeared. I've just been busy. (And have a temperamental Internet connection here.)

I needed a job, so I've been sending out resumes like nobody's business.

I almost didn't go to my first interview, because I wasn't sure if I wanted the job. Branflakes was kind enough to drive me to and from the interview, despite my uncertainty. The interview was great! We laughed and joked about Lemony Snicket books and other things. By the time I was done, I really wanted to work there.

And I got the job! I've only been working there for a week and a half, but I'm very happy with it.

Things that I like about my new job:
  • Everyone brings their ipods to work. Like, really everyone.
  • And often, people wear jeans.
  • I have a really cool security badge that has my picture on it and something inside that unlocks doors.
  • My coworkers are friendly! They plan parties and ice cream trips.
  • During our break, everyone plays a card game together.
  • I worried that it might be telemarketing or something like unto it, and instead it isn't at all. I process images.

And then, as though that wasn't enough...

  • Every Thursday morning they feed us. There were a dozen different kinds of bagels, and 15? different kinds of cream cheese. I love bagels. They also have donuts and fruit.

I really enjoy work.

I'm not attending school this Fall, though. I was really looking for more than just a part-time position.

I navigated buses to attend another job interview. The second interview was for a construction position (don't laugh). It offered 60 (sixty!) hours of work per week. Which sounded perfect. I went to my interview and was immediately offered the job. Wonderful.

I filled out a bunch of paperwork. I took a test on the computer about how often I hit people, share drugs with coworkers, and steal things from companies that I work for. Fine. I took my drug test. (A kind I've never taken before; it involves sucking on a hard lollypopish thing that softens with saliva.) Good. I finished my safety training. No scaffolding higher than thirty feet. Excellent.

We sat down to discuss the details. I needed a hard hat, safety glasses, and gloves. They would be provided. I needed steel-toed boots. They would not be provided. No problem. I was to report to the site (not near Provo) at SIX AM, and work would go until 4 pm. Hm. My job that I'd already accepted was from 8 am until noon. Alas, it wasn't meant to be.

Yesterday, I completed two more tests (online) for a company that wanted me to do them before our interview. The first one was 90 minutes long! It had six sections, and was very similar to the SATs. It featured personality questions, which-do-you-prefer (teaching someone a new skill, or creating art? etc.) questions, vocabulary questions, analogies, math questions, number-sequence what-comes-next questions (20 23 28 14 17 22 11)... It was intense! And then the second test that they wanted me to do was similar to the construction one. [EDIT 10/17/07 - If you found me by googling the sequence: The answer to that sequence is 14. The pattern is +3, +5, x 2, +3, +5, x2, ? so the next one is +3 and 11+3 is 14.]

Two real questions from it were: Indicate your current use of any illegal drugs. * Daily * Once or twice a week * Weekends * Once or twice a month * I do not use illegal drugs * I'm not sure how often. annnnndd... The small amount of drugs you sold or gave your coworkers was not enough to hurt their performance. * I agree. * I'm not really sure about their performance. * I have never sold or given any illegal drugs to my coworkers. There were like 180 of these suckers.

And then! (After all of that!) I accepted a different job today. Starting tomorrow, I'll be working 10 hours per day between the two jobs. I'm really hoping that the new job works out; I'm supposed to be there an hour after my first job ends, and it takes about that long on the bus to get there. We'll see.

Job hunting has been my main excitement lately.

Other things I've done:

  • Last weekend I was in a parade! I handed out Otter Pops to hot people (like, many people in the sun; not just the good-looking ones.)
  • I've been reading books. I read Freakonomics (Levitt), and Prozac Diary (Slate), and I'm currently reading Basic Eight (Handler) and Me Talk Pretty One Day (Sedaris).
  • My birthday was this Saturday. Lavish took me to see a play, since I was in the mood to see one. We saw 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum' and it was fun. Both Lavish and I remembered enjoying it before, but we must have been quite a bit younger then. It was quite different from what we remembered.
  • Attended my cousin's wedding reception.
  • Went to the Death Cab for Cutie concert.
  • I've watched a lot of Arrested Development with Optimistic. I'm through the first DVD of the second season. And I really enjoy it.
  • I finished my Sociology class! I got an A. (Everyone I know keeps buying textbooks for their Fall classes, and I'm jealous. I miss school.)

I think that's all. With any luck, I'll go back to writing shorter, more frequent blog posts. (Oh, sad. The pictures are not posting. I'll try again later.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Well, I've finally done it.

I moved to Utah a week ago. I made it official during the week by getting a library card.

My sister didn't tell our roommates that I was moving in, which made the move a little more interesting. Our roommates seem nice enough. The only problem is, I can't tell them apart! They're two blonde sisters, and they look nearly identical to me. I really am trying to learn which one is which, but for now I'm addressing them without calling them anything. It's sometimes awkward. Take a couple days ago, for example:

Our neighbor came over. I couldn't remember his name, even though I'd met him twice already. He wondered if my roommates were home. I told him I'd check. I went downstairs and found one of them on the couch. "The neighbor is here," I told her, not specifying which neighbor. I walked back to the door. "One of them is," I told him, not specifying which one.

I just know it's going to cause problems later.

I'm enjoying Utah so far.

There are so many people my age. I keep wondering what happened to all of the older adults. Also, it appears as though BYU hands out small children as part of matriculation. Everyone here has a toddler and a baby. Well, not everyone. A lot of people do, though.

And people go walking. Outside. I walk outside. In fact, I walked past an impressive statue of Brigham Young. They just don't have statues of of him in front of Californian libraries. It was nice.

Church is different here in Provo. I mean, it's the same everywhere, and all that, but my student ward here is much different than my family ward back in California.

We had Relief Society first, and our lesson was on the importance of marriage.

It reminded me of a game we would play while I was on my mission. I would choose a gospel principle (for example, "the fall of Adam"), and then the other person would fan through the scriptures, randomly stopping on one page, and pointing at a verse without looking first. Then they would have to explain Adam's fall using some random scripture that would generally not be related to it at all. If they knew their scriptures well, it would be easier because they could explain the background story of the verse, and from a story you can usually make connections. The game was an amusing one.

But as I was sitting there in RS, I kept wanting to guess what the real lesson was about. Because it seemed like the lesson could have been about anything and still been about marriage. It's easy. Emphasis just goes on different parts of quotes: "and she stood by her husband."

And then, as though I hadn't had enough fun, our next class was "Choose Your Own Adventure" style. We could choose between two separate Sunday School classes!

The one that we chose reminded me of the math class in the movie 'Better Off Dead'.
Teacher: "Who would like to read?"
Entire class: "OH, me! Pick me!"
Teacher: "John?"
Everyone else: "Aww."
(repeated throughout the lesson)

And then our sacrament meeting had stadium seating.

And what could be better than stadium seating for sacrament meeting?

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Today I've been using Google's new online word processor, which is called Writely.

I'm having fun with it. So far, it's by invitation only.

I think I have unlimited invitations.

If anyone is interested in trying it out, just leave a comment (or let me know somehow), and I'm happy to share.

That's all.

Memory Lane

I started packing today. I mostly sorted papers. I found a lot of things that I had forgotten all about. Pictures from high school. An extra-special Publications Pass that I could use to get into anything (events or games), or out of anything (class). Scripts for conversations with the boy that I had a crush on all through high school (I'd get nervous!). Letters from my host-family to my mom, in amusing English (for example, a letter about a "put-luck" that we were going to). A note that I passed with one of my sisters during a sacrament meeting, all about my first kiss.

I found a bunch of fun things.

Some of the best things that I found were in the marginalia that I'd written during a couple of my classes.

I present, for your entertainment, four entertaining education-themed stories or lists of quotes. I'll present them in chronological order, I guess.

1. Science class, 6th grade.
I had a teacher who didn't like me. I was too much of a goody-goody, by her standards. One time we were doing group work, and we had to switch stations and solve a scientific mystery. My group was not working on stuff at all. They were gossiping about their friends, and discussing weekend plans, and that sort of thing. We were running out of time and didn't have our work done. I told them nicely (but a few times) that we should focus, so that we didn't lose points. The teacher got mad at me for asking them to get back to our assignment. Other times, the teacher would pick her nose, and chase students around the room, trying to wipe her booger on them. If she decided she didn't like someone in class, she would shout "Raise your hand if you think Johnny's a looooooserrrrr!" And she'd raise her hand and everyone was supposed to raise their hands. I'm sometimes sensitive, but she made me cry on more than one occasion. I would complain to my mom, who would complain to the office. My mom came on a field trip because she couldn't believe my wild stories that I would come home with, but the teacher behaved really differently when parents were around. The school assigned me to a 7th grade science class that she taught, and I think that was the beginning of me choosing my own schedules even when they were set for us. The next year, she was gone. I don't know what happened.

2. English class, sophomore year of high school.
My high school was a competitive one. For the statewide standardized-testing, we had weekly school-wide test-preparation classes. During sophomore year, everyone (and I do mean everyone) learned to write essays well. Really, I think it was the only thing I learned in high school. My teacher was also the drama teacher, and she was very dramatic. In everything. The way she spoke, her behavior...everything was dramatic. As I was sorting papers, I found an essay from her class with a comment that reads: "D+ (Would have been an A- except for that "could" in your final paragraph.)" I used the word "could" in the very last sentence of my essay, and so my grade dropped from an A to a D! (It was actually kind of funny, too, because the essay was about my trip to Chicago. Yeah. A trip that I never actually went on. She would give us stupid prompts, but didn't mind if we made things up.)

On another occasion, the same teacher made me move my desk to the front of the class, and sit facing all of my peers for 2 or 3 weeks. I'd forgotten my rough draft at home when we were supposed to have it, so she told me I was not allowed completing the essay and instead would do grammar exercises as I faced the class.

At the end of the last day of school, about half of the people in my class started packing up their things early. They left probably 5 minutes before the bell rang, excusing us. She did not like it at all, and told those of us that stayed (for the last 2 minutes of class) that we should get out a piece of paper and write a haiku. It was our "final assignment" and it was worth 500 points; much, much more than the final exam had been worth. All of those people who had gotten up and left...well...too bad for them.

3. Civics class, senior year of high school.
I had an old, short, bald man who had attended Harvard and was brilliant. He was...Persian maybe? and had a big accent. He had a doctorate. He knew everything about the government. He really did. He believed in hard work. He was also a democrat, and had the sneaky habit of stating his opinions as facts. I called him on it one time, and he agreed with me. And after that, whenever he said something that sounded like opinion but was based on real evidence, he would finish it deliberately "Miss [Mylastname], that is a fact." During the year, Bush won the election (for his first term as President), and I brought celebratory cupcakes for my whole class. They were "confetti" style with red dots on the inside, and had red sugar on top, and BUSH! written on them. He let us eat them, and even ate one himself.
But anyway, I found quotes that I'd written down in my planner...

"The US Steel Co...The President told him to go to hell, in essence."

"If you mix up these scantrons you will pay a hell of a consequence."

(while reading grades) "You have a C." [some girl "C?"] "C. You know like sea like the ocean sea."

(talking about another teacher) "I called him a big haus[?]. He thought I called him a big ass. He wasn't very nice about that."

"Blonds have more fun. If I were a brunette, I would not agree. And we don't have any redheads in here. They have a lot of fun."

(someone asked a question and he looked turned to a different girl...) "Well, Blondie, you wanna tell her?"

He had a little card that was printed really nicely, not just hand-written, and it said "I don't know about that, but it sounds like BS to me." He would hold it up to respond to things we said, sometimes.

"You are a student and you don't give a damn. Then we get a society of citizens who don't give a damn. And a damn government. And then you b**** like hell."

He told us about an assignment "you may call it a project." and we mmmed and he said "Now that's tremendous enthusiasm for learning!"

4. English class, sophomore year of college.
I had a really funny lady, who was very direct. She would get mad if we didn't bring coffee to her class, or at least something to eat or drink, so that we didn't lose interest. She also taught us how to be good students by using "the thinking nod" and a look of sudden comprehension. She was very sarcastic with us, and was amused when we were sarcastic back.

"If you really don't know what the heck something means, then don't put it in the essay. Because then I read it and know that you don't know what you're talking about."

"Gosh, you're saying she's a fictional, imaginary person created by a dead Greek guy?"

"Soo, should you be a bas**** or be nice? [class replies, "Be a bas****!"] OK. That pretty much sums up that chapter."

"Wherefore: it's a fancy and pretentious form of 'therefore' that none of you are EVER allowed to use."

"By the way. Is following the rules in here [The Prince] a straight ticket to hell? Suuure! But it doesn't matter because politics and morality are completely unrelated."

To the class, about our final exam: "I showed it to my office mate and when he saw it, he said I should put mattresses in the parking lot so that when you fling yourself [over the third story railing] you'll have somewhere to land."

Good times.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I'm engaged! Kind of.

While I was on my mission, a lot of people that I know from church got married. I missed all of their weddings and receptions. And it was fine.

This evening my best friend from high school got married. She and her man had been engaged for exactly 1000 days today. She had a classic wedding. It was at a country club, but it had a gazebo, and the same clergy guy who married her parents. And everything was gorgeous. She was pretty. He looked nice. They had bridesmaids, flower-girls, and a live orchestra. After the wedding we all went inside for a huge meal. I brought my mom as my guest, and the little card told us that we were to sit at table 19. We cooperated. Our table also had two couples that my friend knew from college (including one weird guy who kept flirting with me and another girl), a girl that remembered me (that I didn't remember) from high school, and a guy, Trevor, that my friend had known for-ever, that she had actually thought she would end up marrying (but didn't.)

At first things were a little awkward. None of us were really friends, except for the girl who thought we were. Mom and I teased her because she didn't know which silverware to use when. Everyone talked about school, and what they were doing with their lives, etc. We all became good friends.

And after a couple hours, it hit me. I wanted a wedding. I wanted the pretty dress. And to be in love with someone. And to dance together. And have someone to go grocery shopping with, etc. I told my table so. It was a nice wedding, they agreed. A little bit later, when there was a pause in the conversation I looked at poor, shy Trevor and said:

"Hey, wanna get married?" I was going to ask him by name, except that I kept forgetting whether he was a Travis or a Trevor.

His eyes widened, he jerked up, and he said "WHAT?" or "HUH?" or something like that. He about fell out of his seat. The rest of the table stared at the drama that was unfolding.

I was kidding. And he knew I was, too, because I don't think we ever even talked in high school. We knew of each other, you know, but I don't think we ever had a single class together or anything. We never hung out together. I knew that my friend liked him, and he knew that I was friends with her. But that was really it.

My table got very excited about my proposal, though. The girl who knew me got really into the whole thing and asked him what his answer was or something. He looked at her, still shocked. It was really funny. I grinned. I told him I was kidding, he didn't have to marry me. He told her that we didn't have to call it off so fast--he was still deciding.

The rest of the night there were jokes about my engagement to Trevor. When there was the boquet toss, they announced that engaged people should still participate because they weren't married yet. My table made sure I'd heard that part.

And then, Mom drove him home. She had offered since we live relatively close and gas prices are high. There was no point in someone driving all the way back out to the country club when we would be going the same way home anyway. We were talking about something during the drive and he commented about how I was still partially engaged to him. I told him that yeah, he should keep me posted on our wedding plans. He said he would. I said "yeah, and if we keep talking as much as we have since we graduated..." and everyone laughed. I hadn't talked to him at all since we graduated. Not once in the past five years.

It was all pretty funny, though. When I'm around quiet people, I do a pretty good job of pretending to be an extrovert.

In other news, I met with a Mexican chef to learn how to make tamales. I took long and detailed notes as he explained how to make them. We bought all the stuff at a Mexican grocery store (where all of the loudspeaker announcements were in Spanish!), and I'm going to make them this Monday. He'll come over and help get me started. I love tamales.

I have a ton of other stories to blog about from this week, but I'll save them for another post. I have another talk to write for a baptism that I'm speaking at tomorrow.

The end.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Two Surprises

Over the past few days, I've knitted two scarves. Now, I'm working on a hat.

Scarves are all the rage in Italy; they come in every color you can imagine and people wear them all year long. Wool scarves are for winter, and normal ones are for the rest of the year.

Milan is known as the fashion capital of the world, so one might think that scarves are about to become a new trend throughout the world. However, in thinking so, one would be wrong. Scarves may or may not become fashionable in the future, but for Italians they serve an important function: they protect people from colpo d'aria, or in English a "hit of air."

Like many Americans, when I first heard about colpo d'aria I was dumbfounded. Could such a civilized people really have an established common fear of breezes? (They feel the same way about us when it comes to capital punishment: Could a first-world country really still be doing that?) And the answer is yes. Despite sweltering summer heat, air conditioning is rare in Italy. People do not use ice cubes. If you open the windows of a hot bus, there are some old ladies who will throw fits about it, even during the summer.

During an intolerable summer night, I insisted upon having a fan to cool me off so that I would be able to sleep. My companion was a girl from southern Italy, and she made me position the fan so that it was only facing my bed (instead of the whole room). In the morning she let me know that it absolutely needed to be readjusted--the air bounced off of the wall behind my bed, onto another wall, and then towards her bed. It wasn't very strong, but she could feel it. And that was enough.

When people would express concern for me (I usually don't like having things around my neck), I politely explained to them that as an American, I was born immune to colpo d'aria. "But, really?" they would ask. "Mhmm," I would assure them that nobody in America is ever affected by it. Ever.

I'm not so sure about that anymore. The same companion who didn't like our fan explained to me how colpo d'aria really works. She claimed it was scientifically proven, even. You see, it isn't so much about being hit by air, per se. It's more about sudden change of your body's temperature. And I've heard of that before, even in the States. So while some old ladies take the whole thing much too far (and my companion agreed that they do), the idea really is not so far-fetched.

In fact, I think I've gotten a colpo d'aria lately. I am sick! And I haven't been around sick people, that I know of. And it's summer, for goodness sake. But I have noticed big changes in the temperature lately. And I have been in and out of air conditioning, and in and out of the pool (mmmm... In-N-Out...), and slept with a fan blowing directly on me most nights (see my post about sunburns).

(I bet some people would really think it was funny that I brought an Italian superstition home with me.)

But hit of air or no, I woke up sick as a dog this morning. I faithfully pressed my snooze button every five minutes for an entire hour. I wasn't sure that I wanted to go to church. Or even leave my bed, for that matter.

I did, though. I made it to Sacrament Meeting in the middle of the announcements. I picked up a program and went to sit on a pew in the middle of the room. I sat down and opened my program only to discover that I was printed in the program as the first speaker. Oh boy. I had no idea that I was supposed to be speaking. They had asked me a few months ago to speak 'sometime in July' but had never told me the date or topic.

I got up and walked to the exit, and showed the program to my mother because she'd joked about me speaking today. We giggled for a few seconds and then I walked up and sat on the stand with the other girl who was speaking today. She told me that she hoped I had a lot to say because she had timed herself speaking slowly and her talk was less than ten minutes long. I told her that I had no idea that I was supposed to be speaking, and she looked at me with wide eyes.

My mom signed to me from the pews: "Should I call your sister and have her e-mail Duchess' talk to me, and go home and print it for you?" I grinned, and shook my head no. (You can read about why it was funny here, in Lavish's blog.)

So I said a little prayer for help, and outlined a talk while they finished the announcements and we sang the opening hymn. And then after the Sacrament I was supposed to speak. I got up and gave an amazing talk. It lasted just over fourteen minutes. Another guy from our ward is leaving on a mission and it was his farewell last Sunday with our ward, so I spoke about missionary work. And about following the instructions that Christ gives us in the New Testament. I started by talking about some things I'd heard on a BYUTV talk that I watched yesterday, and everything just flowed beautifully afterwards.

Of the 250ish people that were there listening to my talk, over a dozen stopped me in the hallways to compliment me, or thank me for speaking. It was all just one more example of how when we pray God listens and really does help us; before I prayed I really had no idea what I was going to talk about.

During the second hour of church, I always teach a lesson on the Old Testament to my Primary class (of 9-10 year old kids). Today there were six kids instead of four. We talked about Naomi and Ruth, and about following Christ's example and being examples for other people. My kids are so much fun. I love 'em. (I'm going to be such a good mom someday.)

Anyway, that was my day.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

On Being Home and Returning Home

After talking with Lavish, I decided not to move to Utah yet. She will be coming to visit at the end of July and offered to take me back to Utah with her.

This is a better idea for a few reasons: I'll be in Provo instead of Salt Lake City, which will be more pleasant for me. I will maybe, possibly be able to work with her instead of getting whatever random job that people will hire me for, and that would be nice. Also, I'll still be in California in a couple weekends or whatever day it is that my best friend from high school is getting married. And considering that she's been engaged for like two years and will be disappointed if I don't attend, I want to be there.

So, while I was really hoping to meet Petra before she left and be friends with Tolkien Boy for longer before he moves; alas, I'm still in California.

Also in California are my father and my little brothers who returned from their three week trip to Minnesota. I heard my favorite story about their trip yesterday.

"What happened to your foot?" I asked Seven when I noticed some pinkish spots.

Part was from his sandal rubbing his foot wrong, and the other spot was from....a leech!

"WHAT?" I exclaimed.

"A leech. From camping." He had actually returned from swimming and then later someone noticed them.

"Huh." He didn't think anything of it.

"There were twenty," he added. "Only one big one, though."

"So you had twenty leeches on your foot?"

"Yeah, at least."

"Did they hurt?"


"What did they feel like?"

"Nothing." (And tonight he explained that when leeches first bite things, they numb the area so that what they're biting doesn't realize it's being bitten.)

"How big were they?"

"Um, the small ones were about the size... (he showed me something about an inch long), and the big one was about the size of (he showed me something about four inches long.)"

"How did you get them off?"

"Uh. Brian pulled them off. And one he had to kill and then pull it off." Apparently the little ones came off easily, but the big one was really attached. There was blood everywhere when they pulled it off.

A funny thing is, my brothers think nothing of it. They're like "oh, yeah, that. BUT a different time there was this HUGE STORM!!" and I"m like "uh huh, a storm. BUT tell me about the LEECHES!"

Who knew this kind of stuff actually happened?! I keep making Lake Lachrymose jokes that nobody appreciates. I enjoy them.