Friday, September 28, 2007

St. George tri, and I'm tagged

I've been tagged by Bonny to share with you all 8 facts or habits about me that may be lesser known. First, I never fill out those email forwards that have you answer 78 questions and send them to all your friends, but the blog world might be different. And because I'm still new to it all, who am I to not participate? Plus, 8 is so much easier than 78. I do, however, commiserate with Haley, who is also an open book and it took me quite a while to figure out what I might write about.

Before I go into that, I do want to say that I went to the Kokopelli Triathlon in St. George. Not to compete, but to be part of a very excited and supportive pit crew for four friends who were going to race.

The pit crew. We got so into it, we wrote "pit crew" on our arms and legs just like the actual racers with their numbers

Because the race was on September 22nd, and I did have four friends racing, I'm behind on writing a blog about it compared to the others who were there.

My four triathlete buddies

To give you a general overview, we drove down Friday afternoon, carbo-loaded at the Spaghetti Factory, woke up entirely too early, watched a beautiful sunrise,

See how pretty it was?! This is Caron and Christy, very excited to swim

watched the storm roll in, dodged wind-blown audio equipment, got soaked standing in the rain, lamented with the triathletes when the race was canceled,
A very sad Christy leaves the transition area having only finished the swim

went to breakfast because it was still 9:00 a.m., went bowling, then drove home with the storm on our tails the entire way. For further perspective, please see Christy's and Caron's blogs.

Now, on to my 8 things.

1. I am deathly afraid of heights, but I love roller coasters. Sometimes I really have to muster up the courage to go on the big ones, but I usually have a blast. To give an example of how afraid I am, here is a picture of me on the Tower of Terror at California Adventure in August.

You may not be able to tell, but I was clutching the arm of Becca G. who was sitting next to me. There was nothing else to hold on to! You're just sitting there in a chair, and suddenly you're shot up some 50 stories, then dropped! I was temporarily cured of my fear once in high school. We went to the Stratosphere in Las Vegas as part of a band tour, and I went on the Big Shot. I was totally fine with heights for about 12 hours after.

2. I am secretly a creative writer. I mostly write short stories, micro-fiction, or poetry. I don't know if I'm very good, but I don't like to share what I write very often because it's easy to hide behind the technical writing degree. Hopefully that will change soon, because Brookey and I are thinking of starting a creative writing blog where we and others can post our creative works and comment on them. I'm a little nervous because what I write is often very personal and can give a glimpse into my inner soul and it makes me feel a tad vulnerable.

3. I don't like cereal. I don't like it as a snack, as breakfast, anything. Every now and again I'll buys something because It sounds good in the moment, and I'll even eat a bowl for breakfast, but it usually goes stale and I have to throw it away.

4. I don't have an iPod and don't really want one. I can't think of when I'd need one, but I can think of all the music that I'd buy on iTunes, and I still need to pay a mortgage. I'm a big fan of music and have been known as the guy who knows all the words to every song, but I still don't know when I'd listen to an iPod. My sister-in-law asked me about it yesterday, and I was almost convinced I should get one, but I think I'll hold out still.

5. I love the Discovery Channel. Some of my favorite shows include Planet Earth, Myth Busters, Dirty Jobs, Cash Cab, and Man vs. Wild.

6. I used to play the clarinet and saxophone, and I was pretty good. I even made the jazz band in college my freshman year, and was a music major before I realized I didn't practice enough to become a professional and had no desire to become a music teacher (which, in my opinion, is the least appreciated job in the entire world, while arguably the most demanding). Consequently, I like musicals, live theatre, and going to listen to a symphony. About a year ago, I looked into what it would take to become part of the West Jordan City Band, but I never showed up. I haven't played my clarinet for about 7 years. It sits in my closet looking longingly at me when I get a tie every morning. Someday I will brush the dust off and play something.

7. I like to keep my house clean, but my room is a freakin' mess. Many of you will know that my room is often a mess. It's not gross or anything, just looks like my closet threw up into the room. It's mostly just clothes on the floor. But I like to have the living room, kitchen, and bathrooms clean. Partly I think it's pride--I want people to think the place is nice, and I can always just close my door--and partly I think it's part of my new homeownership. I really want my condo to retain its value so when I eventually sell and buy a house with a yard, I'll get a good return on my investment. If things stay clean, they usually stay well kept and avoid holes and other permanent damage.

8. I am a huge movie buff, but I own relatively few movies. I love going to the movies. I love the big screen, the big sound, the big seat, and the occasional big bucket of popcorn. I like to see new movies when they come out and I have many favorites. I never keep a favorite for very long, but some of my current favorites are About a Boy, Stranger Than Fiction, The Matrix, Toys, Clue (yes it's a movie, and if you haven't seen it man you'd better!), and Empire Records. I own only three of those.

Ok, that isn't all of me, but there's a little glimpse! Hope you like it! Oh, and I'll tag........... anyone who needs their blog updated or feels like it. (I don't want to pressure you to do anything you don't want...)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Decree nisi and other depressing activities

In the last month and a half, 4 of my friends have gotten--or entered into actions that will eventually result in--a divorce. I won't be naming names, because this is not a gossip column and I don't have permission from any of my friends to spread the news, but I feel compelled to write my feelings on the subject. I tend to empathize with my close friends, and if I don't respond in some way to how I feel, coming to terms with the situation and finding a resolution will be delayed or debased.

I was raised in a family and a church that looks highly on marriage. Marriage, I was taught, is one of the highest forms of happiness one can achieve. Imagine, finding that one person who makes you want to be the best you, understands and loves you enough to hold your hand when you're down, enjoys with you life's victories when they come, and even tolerates your morning breath. Of course, that's not all marriage is--I'm not naive enough to think marriage is like a country love song--and I will admit I don't know the extent of the commitment that is made when two people enter into "holy matrimony," but I have been taught that it is good and I am now old enough to know believe myself that it is good, and I see it as a sacred union that I hope to be a part of some day.

Now that you have a small precursor to how I feel about marriage, you can understand the agglomeration of feelings I experience when I hear that one of my friends is getting divorced. Multiply that by four. I consider myself a fairly decent friend, and I empathize with my pals when they are going through hard times. I don't know what my roll is in this situation, and each one is different. I don't know how to be the best friend I can in each situation, and don't know if there even is any specific thing I am supposed to do or if I should just be around. Or maybe I'm not supposed to be around.

On top of that, knowing that my friends, who share some of my ideas and beliefs about marriage, are ending theirs makes me a little cynical about such unions. Heck, I even put quotation marks around "holy matrimony" above. I know a divorce doesn't make it less holy, but I can't help but think on how frequent divorce is today, and it scares me a little. It makes me wonder if anyone is immune. The answer is a resounding, "NO," because you can't say it will never happen to you, and there is no failsafe against it. Never go to bed angry. Sometimes you need to sleep on it. A family to prays together stays together. Communication is the key. Have dinner at the kitchen table. All of these are excellent words to live by, but none by itself (or even together?) will be insurance against divorce. But I still believe that marriage is something sacred and good, and that it can still be one of the highest forms of happiness. I think cynicism is a disease (not to be confused with sarcasm... which I still have internal debates about), and optimism is really a much better way to live anyway. People do stay together and things can work out in the end.

So tell me what you think? When things like this happen that directly or indirectly affect my belief system, I have to work them out, talk them out, and bounce my thoughts off people. It helps me make sense of the situation and add the scenario to what I believe and how I will act and react in like situations. It also helps to see what other people believe and how they have dealt with the same situations. So feel free to pontificate with me. It helps, I promise.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"Salsa is now the number one condiment in America..."

"Do you know why? Because people like to say 'Salsa.'"

I love salsa. I really always have, but I think part of it stems from my mission. Just to clarify, I'm not one of those crazy RMs that goes nutso about stuff people do on their missions. I don't think tamarind is that good, I still hate cilantro (tastes like weeds), and I don't think the best way to sleep is in a hammock. But I am crazy about salsa, and the hotter the better! And I do owe my knowledge of chilies and peppers to the time I spent in Mexico, and I'm happy to say that I have some wonderful salsa because of it.

Last week, I made salsa with my sister and sister-in-law, and man is it tasty!

Liz and Tiff's arm chopping tomatoes

We made it from tomatoes from my dad's garden, and used a delightful mix of fresh jalape├▒os

mmmmm... jalape├▒os

and a smoky flavored chili called "chile de arbol." If you can think of the flavor of the chilies in General Tso's Chicken, that's kinda what it tastes like. The great thing about these chilies is that if you fry them or cook them, they get a little hotter. And if you leave them in a sauce or a liquid, they will make whatever they're sittin' around in hotter. So if you use them in canned salsa, your label for the first week or so will be "mild," in a month, you will go to "medium," and in six weeks or so, you've got "melt your face off." You can't understand how excited I am for six weeks to pass by. My sister-in-law, however, will need to eat her ration of salsa quick, or she'll be dead...

This is Liz, not cringing from the heat of the salsa, but dodging salt being blown into her face by the fan behind me.

Thank goodness for sisters and sisters-in-law. Tiff provided her home to prepare the salsa, Liz brought all the tomatoes, and I just had to bring some onions and peppers, and help chop and slice, and I left with 14 jars of some top notch salsa!

You can see the excitement on my face, can't you.

In conclusion, this isn't a well written or organized blog entry. But I made salsa (well, helped anyway) and I'm really excited about it. And I'll get to enjoy tortilla chips the way they were meant to be enjoyed... and I'll have the means with which to enjoy them for six months or more...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Necessary evils

There are a lot of necessary evils in this life, but the one that is at the forefront of my mind right now is car insurance. I got in an accident over labor day weekend. Don't worry, everyone is ok, no one is hurt, and there isn't even any engine or mechanical damage. And to make things worse, it was totally my fault. I was at the corner of 13th east and Fort Union Blvd. I was in the left lane going strait, when a passenger suddenly said, "we need to turn left here." so I turned into the left turning lane, and there was a guy already in it, driving to the light. I side-swiped him, and dented his door. It looks like this:

On top of that, I didn't have my most current insurance card in the car. I still had one, and my insurance is up to date, but the cop still gave me a ticket for no proof of insurance... but he still took down all my current insurance information from the card I gave him... And to add to my frustration, the ticket says to call not before September 10 nor after September 14, but when I called today, the ticket hasn't even been recorded yet. It's like the cable guy that says, "I'll be there between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to push three buttons in a magical sequence that will suddenly make your cable and Internet work, but we can't tell you the buttons or the super secret sequence over the phone. You're gonna have to waste your vacation time and sit around the house for 5 hours because we can't commit to a more reasonable time frame." but that's a different blog for a different day...

And if you're wondering, my car looks like this:

Doesn't look like much damage, right? If you were to guess how much the damage to just my car would cost, what would you say? If you guessed $2,800 bones, you'd be right. THAT'S RIDICULOUS!!!! I still don't know how much my insurance will go up because of this, but I thank my lucky stars that A) no one is hurt, and B) my deductible is $500. I don't even know how much the other guy's car is going to cost, but I await the worst. I hate paying for it every month, but thank goodness it's there when you need it...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hello, world of the bloggers

I've been reluctant to write a blog before now. I tried it out on myspace, but I didn't really keep it up. So here goes attempt number two. I've been convinced by a few friends (namely Brookey and Christy) to try it out here. I think the biggest thing is that you have to update often. So here goes.

First, I wonder if reading blogs is a way to keep up with friends and family, or an outlet for stalkers. My conclusion is that, like most things, a blog can be used for good or evil, depending on the user. Here's a simple example--not as extreme as stalking, but you'll get the point. So, I'm sort of obsessed with reading people's blogs, and a few of them don't know I'm doing it. As I mentioned earlier, Christy has a blog, and from her blog, there is a link to the blog of a mutual friend of ours. Our mutual doesn't know that I've been reading her blog, and I feel a little stalker-ish. The same goes for one of Brookey's friends, who is also an acquaintance of mine, but I'm sure he doesn't know I'm reading his blog. Am I an internet stalker?? But maybe that is the point of blogs. While it is a kind of diary, it is also a semi-public outlet of expression. I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but I'm leaning more toward thinking it's less an outlet for stalkers and more a way to express yourself and keep up with those you know.

I'd like some input. I'm ok with people I don't know reading this, but it's mostly for those I know. Maybe I'm just paranoid. Maybe I'm just a little new at the blog scene to get it entirely, but now that I've got one, I'll try to figure it out.