Monday, May 3, 2010


So, as part of my TA duties for field camp, I am in Yellowstone for the week. With highs supposed to be below 30 for the next 2 days, it is going to be a little bit cold, and I am guessing there won't be as many tourists as there have been when I have come in the past. I have all my winter clothes out, so hopefully I can stay warm through this adventure.

Since I am in Yellowstone, I thought I would post a bit about my last adventure to Yellowstone with my roommates. There are some parts I don't care to recount (such as getting sick the night after visiting the park...), rather, I would like to share some of the wisdom learned from the Yellowstone trip. The first, and possibly most important thing we learned was how to stop someone from tailgating you. The solution is quite simple... have your passenger roll down the window, tap your brakes, and have the passenger point out the window. Apparently, people are so obsessed with seeing wildlife in Yellowstone (including some of the mangiest foxes I have ever seen), they will stop the car at any hint of an animal. We used this to our advantage several times, and while it may be somewhat mean to prey on people's curiosity, in the long run it was probably better than slamming on the brakes and causing an accident. It also turns out that anytime you are stopped somewhere, people assume you are stopped to look at something. We found this out as we stopped to stretch our legs at a parking lot at a trail we had decided not to hike and had three cars stop in 10 minutes to ask what we were looking at. They were very disappointed when we said, "Nothing".

The other lesson we learned in Yellowstone is that if you sound like you know what you are talking about, and you have a few people stand around you and pretend to be interested, other people will stop to get the free version of the tour. Our plan on this one was to read the signs near sites, have one person recite what was on the sign, and see how many people we could get to stop and listen. This worked reasonably well for a while, however the experiment was aborted when one of our group decided to ad lib a bit and shared information that the onlookers recognized as false (for the record, the acid lake should not have a pH of 16...not only do you not find pH of 16 anywhere, a pH of 16 is, as the Asian onlooker put it, "Very, very basic")

So, there you go, a few things you can try to have a little fun while you are enjoying Yellowstone National Park. I know we had a good time with it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Random musings....

Well, I have had a few ideas for my post since my last blog post, so I decided to throw a couple together tonight. The first has to do with turning off the lights. When I was a kid, every time I left my room, my mom would always send me back if I didn't turn off the light. I was really bad at turning off lights for most of my childhood. Turns out, all that reminding by my mom must have had an effect, because as I have been at college, I have noticed it really bugs me when a light is left on. Doesn't make me mad at my roommates like dirty dishes do, I just have to turn off any light that is on in a room where nobody is present. I can't stand to see it left on.

The other thing I thought I would write briefly about is my dinner cooking experiments. I, like most people, get bored with the meals I usually eat, so sometimes I pull out the things I have in the cupboard or fridge and try making something I have never made before. Sometimes these things turn out to be failures, although they are rarely inedible, because I don't often try to mix random ingredients. Usually I am just trying to cook something that someone else has made, usually with the few ingredients that I have. I did once mix barbecue sauce and teriyaki sauce together and put it on chicken, and it tastes surprisingly good (I was just trying to thicken up the teriyaki sauce so I could put it on the chicken on the BBQ without having to marinade it.) Tonight I cut a chicken breast into strips, breaded it with flour and egg, and fried them in oil in a pan. I then made spaghetti and put spaghetti and sauce with the chicken (my own easy version of Parmesan Chicken), sprinkled some italian cheese blend I had on top, and it turned out very tasty. I don't know why I like experimenting in the kitchen so much, I guess it is the scientist in me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm not your Mother...

So, this post is my rant about roommates not doing dishes. Anyone who has lived with me from the time I got home from my mission can attest that there isn't much that makes me more unhappy than a pile of dishes in the sink. It has even gone so far as me posting threatening nots and placing roommates on my black list. It probably has to do a lot with the environment in my home, where my mom always tried to make sure that the areas on the main level of our house were presentable so that they were ready at any moment for visitors.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I am not the cleanest person there is, and picture of the current state of my bedroom would prove that point well. I have never for the life of me been able to keep a desk clean for more than a week. But there is a difference between having piles of paper on a desk and piles of dishes in a sink. First off, papers don't rot and smell bad for the rest of your roommates. Secondly, very few people besides myself ever enter my bedroom, while our kitchen could often be used to entertain guests.

The last 2 years have been particularly bad when it comes to roommates who don't do dishes. Part of this is because the last two years I have had to live with a couple randomly assigned roommates, so that it was hard to discuss the problem with them. When I moved to my current apartment with Lamar and Pilgram, we all decided to go to the use only one plate system to avoid the dish problems that plagued our apartment last year. Alas, our new roommate (who is 31 and should know better) leaves dishes in the sink for WEEKS!!! Look, I can understand that sometimes you have to eat and run, or you need to soak the pan in water for a bit to get the stuff that you burned onto it out, but after 24 hours, if you haven't washed the dish it is only because you are lazy. The thing that irks me the most is when someone uses one of my pans and then doesn't wash it, so that it is dirty when I want to use it.

As you can probably tell from the post, this rant is inspired from a fresh bout. I spent an hour tonight cleaning the kitchen, and when I walk in there now there is MY pizza pan lying unwashed in the sink. Seriously, you can't take a 30 second break from watching your cartoons to wash off the pizza pan you used?!?! Our sink is never without a dish in it for more than a few hours in this apartment, and we all know who the culprit is, since 3 of us only use 1 set of dishes each and don't rely on the dishwasher. I actually got to the point where I threw away a bowl that sat on the counter for 2 weeks with pasta in it. I figure, if you aren't using it for 2 weeks, you won't miss it if I throw it away. Maybe I am a bad person, but you have to learn to do dishes sooner or later...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Google Buzz

Maybe I am just doing this wrong, or maybe nobody I "follow" ever does anything, but I am confused about this whole Google Buzz thing. The only time it ever tells me anything is when I post something. I know when I have updated my blog, or posted a video on youtube, I don't need a new tool to tell me that. It would be nice if it would tell me when the people I am following do something, but so far it hasn't. Murt posts on his blog for the first time in 2 months and not a notice. But when I put this blog post up, Google buzz will let me know.

In a related note, I recently discovered the Labs section in gmail. There is a lot of stuff on there that I could use to potentially make my google experience better. The one I chose to enable: when I push the "&" when I am on my gmail homepage, it brings up the classic snake game for me to play. Useful? Probably not. Hours of entertainment when I should be working on my thesis? Definitely. Thank you google labs, for giving me something to do instead of being productive.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Golden Birthday

So, today I turn 26 on the 26th. In honor of this momentous occasion, I thought I would post 26 random things about me and my birthday in general.

1. I was born at 5:01 am.
2. I found out that IU shared a birthday with Johnny Cash when one of my substitute teachers for English in high school basically told our class he was going to get high for the entire weekend to celebrate.
3. Favorite Birthday Cake, if it has to be cake: German Chocolate with coconut frosting
4. Favorite Birthday Cake, non-traditional sense: Cheesecake
5. Since I have been back from my mission, I usually go home over President's Day weekend to celebrate my birthday with my family.
6. When I was young, I got at least one kite for my birthday every year (something about being born close to March). In keeping with tradition, I gave my niece a kite for her 2nd birthday this year, which was on the 20th.
7. If I had waited a few more days to be born, I could have been a Leap Day baby.
8. I was baptized on leap day (along with nearly every other LDS person born in February 1984)
9. Today is also the birthday of Victor Hugo, Steve Blake, Hannah Kearney, and a host of other people, all of which can be found on wikipedia.
10. The Grand Canyon and Grand Tetons were made national parks on February 26th.
11. I was named after one of my Dad's childhood friends, not the bible character.
12. In 1993, the World Trade Center was bombed on my birthday.
13. I used to tell people that the only reason I liked Valentine's Day was that it meant there were less days left in February til my birthday than days that had passed.
14. I stopped having birthday parties early in my life because it meant my parents would buy me a better present (and really, what can you do at a party in February...)
15. Most common birthday dinner: when I was a kid, fajitas. Now, steak.
16. I hate when they sing Happy Birthday to you at restaurants, especially when it isn't your birthday and you are just there because you get a free meal any time that month.
17. Worst birthday meal: a few years ago when we went to this crappy chinese buffet in Provo, because it was free, and because they had remodeled so we thought it would be better. It wasn't, but it was nice of my roommates to want to do something for me on my b-day.
18. I did once have a frozen burrito for dinner on my birthday when I was in high school, because the day was so busy for my family that my parents weren't home at dinner time, but we celebrated later on, so not really a birthday dinner.
19. Birthday presents this year: hiking boots, tool kit, iTunes gift card and $50.
20. On my 20th birthday, I got a new mission companion and helped a family move out of their home.
21. In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Japan.
22. Favorite ice cream: Cookies and Cream, no contest. I like all ice cream, but given a choice it is cookies and cream hands down.
23. February is pie month at Marie Calendars, so in recent years my Mom always buys a pie or two when I come home to celebrate.
24. When I was a kid, I used to set my alarm for 5:01 am so I could celebrate when I was actually born. That tradition has since died out.
25. Most people don't think I look old enough to be 26.
26. When I was a kid, we went to mexican food for my birthday pretty much every year (mostly Cafe Ole, then Casa Mexico)

So, there you have it. I hope you all have a wonderful day! I think it is the best day of the year to be born on, but I am a little bit biased.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Curse...

So, this weekend I went home for my sister's wedding reception, and on the way home I confirmed something I have suspected for a long time...I am cursed. What kind of curse, you ask? Well, it is the curse of the chipped windshield. You see, ever since my mission, whenever I have a pristine, chip free windshield, it is inevitably chipped on my next drive on the freeway. I thought at first this was simply a result of the decision by the Idaho Transportation Department to chip seal the freeway, a decision which left loose gravel on the freeway for several months, just waiting to give my windshield a chip. However, that project has been completed for a while now and the curse lives on.

You probably want to hear the whole history of the curse, and you are about to get it. It all started when I was living at the Glenwood in the summer after my mission. While driving on one of our many adventures that summer, I got a chip in my windshield that turned into a crack. I ignored it for several months, but finally decided it was worth fixing and forked out the money for a new windshield. My next trip home on the freeway, I got a chip in my brand new windshield. It was at this point that I learned an important lesson about the curse: it only strikes when there is no chip in the windshield. I ignored this chip, knowing that my car was on its last legs and not wanting to put too much money into it. Fast forward to summer 2008, and my car dies on the drive home. I get a new car with a pristine windshield, and you guessed it, promply get 2 chips on the way home. I once again ignore these chips for a while, but as I am out in Boston visiting my brother in June 2009, he gets a chip in his windshield. The curse lives on. He gets his chip filled, so I decide I should do the same. At my next oil change, they offer to fill it for free and I oblige. The day I get the oil change, I leave for home and get a chip in my windshield again. This is when I knew I was cursed. Nevertheless, I got the chip filled when I got back to Provo, and lo and behold, as I am driving home this weekend, I get a new chip in my windshield.

Now look, I could blow this all off as chance, but the facts just won't let me. I mean, one or two chips I could accept, but this is beyond the point of anything other than a curse. I went through the first 22 years of my life chip free, and suddenly in the last 3 1/2 years my car windshield has become a veritable rock magnet. I guess I should figure out why the curse started so that I can rid myself of it before it gets any worse.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Back by Popular Demand...

So, given that I had 2 recent comments suggesting that I post again, and I always give the customer what they want, I figured I owed another post. Actually, I was going to post while I was in Prague, but I decided to catch up on my hand written journal instead. As most of you probably know, I recently had the opportunity to head to Europe to do some research for my Master's thesis. We spent our nights in Prague, and our days traveling through the Czech Republic (and even a short distance into Germany and Poland) collecting samples at rivers and seeing the countryside. For those of you who have never been to the Czech Republic (can't think of anyone who would be reading this that that statement doesn't apply to, but you never know), it is green and hilly, a lot like the Eastern United States without the humidity. My thesis adviser claims that they have more castles per square mile than any other country in Europe. Since it would take me forever to write an entry about the whole trip, I figure I will do it in parts, each one containing a few photos and some specific things about the trip. I'll call this first entry, "Things to know while traveling in the Czech Republic". Accompanying pictures likely have nothing to do with the topic of the post.

First off, it is a long flight to the Czech Republic. With the time change added in, it takes a whole day to get there. You will be tired when you get there. Lucky for me, I had people to keep me awake so that I only woke up at 3 am the next morning and was fine thereafter. The thing people probably wonder about the most is how we got around without speaking any Czech. Well, just about everyone in the Czech Republic speaks English. In Old Town Prague, their English is typically very good, but the farther away you get from there the less they speak, although they all speak a little bit and every restaurant has an "English" menu.

And speaking of the food, there are a few things you should know when going to a restaurant. First off, it is going to take a while, so don't plan on being in and out in no time. Second, make sure they know you speak English when you go in. This may save you up to 30 minutes, since otherwise they will give you a Czech menu that you won't be able to read, and the waiters come by only infrequently. Next, you should know that you have to pay for water at the restaurant, and you only get one bottle, so save some for dinner. Also, make sure you ask for "still" water, unless you want mineral water. And for some reason, water is the hardest English word for them to understand, even though the Czech word is "voda", which sounds almost the same. Lastly, you have to ask for the bill, and since they don't come around often, make sure you ask for it as soon as you are done. Tipping is optional, and 10% is considered a large tip.

Other random things to note...make sure you have money with you in case you ever need to use the bathroom, since most cost money. If you park your car on the street, and it has French plates, the tires may get slashed. Even if something on the menu sounds like something you would order at home, it is probably something completely different. The English in the English menus, on the English tourist pamphlets, and on English signs is very poor. Well, I have probably rambled on enough for this post, I'll write more about the trip later. Any questions may be answered in the next post. And now for pictures...

Me on the Charles Bridge
Me in front of St. Vitus Cathedral
Adrspach Rocks

Astronomical Clock at Old Town Square in Prague