30 April 2009

Review: David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism

Every Mormon should read David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. It was extraordinarily interesting. I learned a great deal about the modern history of the Church and even more about the administration of the Church.

The book is divided topically, not chronologically. This makes the stories much easier to follow, but it does lead to some chapters being really fascinating (like Chapter 4 "Blacks, Civil Rights, and the Priesthood") and some chapters being a less fascinating (like Chapter 6 "Radio and Television Broadcasting").

This book will blow your mind. You must read it. Hop to it!

28 April 2009

The Quiz Doesn't Lie

I convinced Eric to take this quiz-ish thing about relationships. At the end you pay some money and you get a very detailed report showing how you each view different aspects of your relationship. It is good ground for discussions about concerns, strengths and weaknesses. I didn't actually pay for the quiz until tonight, and Eric is at work, so I've been reviewing the results by myself. After getting through the first few pages I called him and had a discussion with him about the first few graphs. (The report is like 30 pages, so I was nowhere near finished). I had a fun chat with him about the tendencies of the graph and how I couldn't wait for him to get home to discuss with me.

Then I saw this little chart:

Naturally I called Eric and shouted into the phone, "YOU THINK I'M VOLATILE! I'LL SHOW YOU VOLATILE!"

Naturally, Eric said he couldn't talk right then and we'd have to discuss this "later."

(No, I'm kidding. I joked with him about how he is clearly avoidant and I am probably somewhere between volatile and validating. But the first story is obviously better).

25 April 2009

Food, Glorious Food!

I mentioned a while ago that I had joined the Utah Food Co-op. I know you've been waiting with baited breath to find out how it went. Here's what we got:

  • 1 4-lb. chicken
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 lb. lean pork
  • 1 lb. salisbury steaks (not too thrilled about that one, but we'll make do)
  • 7 bananas
  • 5 oranges
  • 3 cucumbers
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 1 lb. strawberries
  • 5 lb. bag of red potatoes
  • 1 loaf of whole wheat bread
  • 1 lb. rice
All that for $23. Can't wait to get my loot next month. Go here to find out how you can be a part of the co-op.

21 April 2009

Review: ClearPlay DVD Player

Eric and I bought a ClearPlay DVD player in January.

It's a DVD player that allows you to filter content from any DVD without altering the DVD itself. It works with a USB memory stick (also called a jump drive, thumb drive, flash drive, etc.). You pay for a membership to the website which allows you to download filters, which you put on your memory stick. Then you plug the memory stick into your player, set the filters to your preference levels and enjoy your film without the objectionable content.

You can filter a variety of content including language, violence, nudity, sexuality, blasphemy, and even silly things like mushiness, dishonor parent, and dishonor flag. Seriously. I could never make those up. I don't even know what mushiness is. We have that filter turned off. In addition to choosing what content to filter you can also choose the level of filtering that you want. Maybe a little swearing is okay. Maybe you don't want to hear even the slightest hint of a swear word. You decide.

It's a great idea, really. Only, it just doesn't work very well.

Our player constantly skips, and despite multiple calls to the help line, we frequently get the same results. Usually the movie plays fine up to a certain point, then the skipping begins. At that point we have to eject the disc, press a few buttons, put in a magical code, wait a few moments and then try the DVD again. Usually this works, but sometimes it doesn't. Even when it does work we still end up frustrated that our movie has been interrupted, the lights have been switched on, and our movie-watching environment is shattered.

The help line is only open until about 10 at night, which is fine for people who only use their players to that point. We, however, use our player generally later than that. I wonder how it goes for folks on the East Coast. Do they have to watch their movies before the sun goes down? When I have talked to people on the help line, they have usually been pretty knowledgeable. One time, though, Eric talked to a person who was really a salesperson, and not a tech person. What he should have done was redirected Eric to a technical support fellow. Instead, he gave Eric this gem of advice, "If the player is skipping, try turning some of your filter levels down or off." Excuse me? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the player? I bought the player BECAUSE OF THE ABILITY TO FILTER objectionable content.

One time I called to tell them that the memory stick that came with the player was defective. In fact, I called about the middle of March on that. Today Eric got an email that said our new memory stick is in the mail. Over a month? Seriously?

Also, the phone number printed on the box is incorrect. Two of the digits are inverted. Luckily the website has it right.

In conclusion, I say that ClearPlay is a great idea, but it doesn't pay to be an early adopter. It's still very buggy and is more of an irritation than it is a Godsend.

20 April 2009

And then I got eaten by a plant growing out of a sewage pipe.

I never feel like I'm in a video game, but I did a few weeks ago when Eric and I were at the Latino supermarket. Some of their produce was abnormally large.

Some was abnormally small.

I felt like I was in one of the Mario games where he is constantly changing sizes.

(And yes, I have so much school spirit that I own a BYU apron. Okay, no, really. I took a cooking class, and it came with my class fee).

19 April 2009

It's Pat, a girl!

Regarding the post the other day about gender-specific names, here are my opinions:
  • Taylor- Boy. Although, it's one that can go either way.
  • Reagan- Girl, but just barely.
  • Leslie- Girl.
  • Jamie- Boy, even though I've know more girls named Jamie than boys.
  • Tye- Boy. Undoubtedly. (I worked with a woman named Tye, and when I mentioned to somebody else that I think Ty(e) is boy's name, she was very surprised).
  • Kennedy- Girl, but I think it is a decidedly masculine name.
  • Renee- Girl. Girl. Girl.
  • Payton- Boy. Maybe because it makes me think of Patton.
  • Riley- Boy.
  • Alexis- Girl.
  • Sydney- Boy. Thank you, Sidney Rigdon.
  • Ashley- Girl, even though I know it was a boy's name first.
  • Kelly- Girl. And I always think of Saved By the Bell.
  • Pat- Girl, because I had a female boss named Pat.
What do you think? Any gender-neutral names I neglected? Any names that I am dead wrong about? (The correct answer to that is "no.")

Editor's Note: I meant to post-date this post, but I blew it and it posted right after the first. I post-dated it after I had already received several comments. This is why the comments are dated before the post date.

18 April 2009

Who Needs Strunk and White?

Go listen to this piece on NPR. It will make you laugh. (You could also read it, but I think there is something to be said for listening to the author's reading of it).

Did you think it's as funny as I did?

17 April 2009

I promise, I'm a little cultured

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to feel like a completely uncultured neanderthal. I'm sure you want to know the story.

It all started when Eric's mom suggested that we try to get tickets to Wicked. (It's playing in Salt Lake City, and the tickets sold out in about three hours, but they do a lottery system before the show each night in which you enter your name for the chance to buy two prime tickets for $25). I figured that we may as well give it a shot.

Our names weren't drawn. We headed over to the restaurant in the Marriott hotel, and I pointed to a sign for the symphony and said, "Eric really wanted to go to the symphony this weekend since they are playing Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto, but it didn't work out with the backpacking trip." As we sat down to dinner, Kathleen (that's Eric's mom) realized that she just might have tickets for the symphony. Each year her dad buys season tickets and then distributes them among the daughters. So she called the ticket office, and sure enough, she did have tickets waiting for her at the concert hall. Of course, the tickets were for tomorrow night. Fortunately, they very obligingly switched the tickets to tonight.

Most amazing performance I have ever attended. In fact, I gave out one of my ten standing ovations. (When you are done reading this post, go read Janssen's post about standing ovations. Seriously. Don't go yet, but soon.)

The pianist, Jon Kimura Parker, even came out for an encore. He sat at the piano, announced that he didn't know what to play, thought about it for a moment and decided to play the first Rachmaninoff piece he ever learned (when he was 15): Prelude in G. It was a short, lovely little piece, and I was almost brought to tears by it. Yes, me. Tears. I know. (Which, hello, encores are great, but I felt rather guilty for the putting the fellow on the spot. I mean, he'd already played the piece that he'd actually prepared and here we were demanding more!)

The rest of the audience loved that piece as much as I did, because we insisted on more, and for his second encore Mr. Parker played a song that he recently played at his high school reunion (thirty years? twenty? Can't remember): Billy Joel's Scenes From an Italian Restaurant. It rocked my world and was the perfect ending to a perfectly lovely night at the symphony.

The only bad thing was that I was not planning on going to the symphony tonight. It was Friday. That is jeans day at work. I had to go to the symphony in JEANS. You have no idea how mortified I was. It was totally worth it, despite my feeling utterly ashamed any time Kathleen introduced me to yet another person she knew. I wanted to wear a sign that said, "I don't normally wear jeans to such events. I do have some class." But, you know, that might have drawn even more attention to myself.

Despite the jeans, I will say, hands down, that tonight was even better than if I had seen Wicked. But I do think I'm going to give that whole lottery thing a few more tries.

14 April 2009


I'm finding that not getting home until 7:30 in the evening is resulting in less frequent posts. That's partly because I get home from work and can only think about eating. It's also partly because I get home from work and am too dumb to be able to write anything.
I really like my new job. A lot. Do you want to pay me to do your genealogy? I'll let you.
Is everyone really that interested in the President's dog? I'm not.
Anyone have any good ideas for how Eric and I should celebrate our upcoming anniversary? I think we'll go camping. What if the weather continues to need a punch in the face?
I'm spending my carpooling time reading books aloud. Right now we're working on The Hunger Games. So far, we like it. I'm looking for suggestions for our next book. I like to read books that are easier to read since I have to read them aloud and I don't want to spend the hour's drive each way struggling to get out ridiculously complex sentences.
I love to read books aloud. One of these days I'm going to volunteer for Librivox because it is awesome, and I love it.
I went back to the Family History Library for the first time in over a year last week. I missed that place a lot, and I realized it mostly when I was wandering along the aisles filled with drawers of microfilms. Then today I rememebred again when an old man tried to help me with the microfilm printer. Oh, I know, Old Man. Trust me, I know.
Something wacky is going on with my lips. I think it was caused by a mango. A delicious, juicy mango.
I joined the Utah Food Co-Op this month. I'm pretty excited about it. I'll let you know how it goes. I know you're on the edge of your seats.
In summary, here are your topics for commenting: Will you pay me to do your genealogy? Is the President's dog that interesting? Anniversary suggestions? Book suggestions? Hop to it. Get to commenting.

09 April 2009

It's Pat!

There are lots of cross-gender names these days. That is, names that can work for a boy or a girl. When you hear the following names, what gender do you generally think of?

  • Taylor
  • Reagan
  • Leslie
  • Jamie
  • Tye
  • Kennedy
  • Renee
  • Payton
  • Riley
  • Alexis
  • Sydney
  • Ashley
  • Kelly
  • Leslie
  • Pat
I have some very specific gender assignments for some of these, and I'm almost always surprised when things don't match up like I expect. At the same time, there are some names that I know can go either way, but I still associate those names with one gender in particular. Comment away. I'll post my opinions shortly.

07 April 2009

Blanketing, Part 3

Another blanket. This time for a nephew that came hours after I finished his blanket. (Just so you know, my brother's little Samuel Lee came a few weeks early. I wasn't running behind).

It doesn't look all that spectacular, but this blanket will grow with the kid. Let me tell you. It measured about 42 inches long and 36 inches across or so. I guess I wasn't paying very much attention when I did my first few rows. Then I was too invested to start over.

04 April 2009


As you can see, we were ready for General Conference today. I made these cinnamon rolls yesterday, and although they are a little dark, they tasted delicious. This was my first time to make non-Rhodes cinnamon rolls. Yes, it's true. I made them. On my own. Best of all, it was the first time any rise-needing bread product of mine actually rose. I'm making baking progress.

01 April 2009

Easy Money

I've mentioned before that Eric and I have credit cards with Southwest airlines that earn us tickets with said airline. And let's face it, these credit cards work to make us very loyal customers. On the rare occasion that we find tickets less expensive on another airline, we will still buy the tickets with Southwest because doing so puts us that much closer to having a free ticket with Southwest. Plus, if you buy tickets with Southwest and the prices go down, you can call Southwest, and they will give you a credit for the difference.

I did have to spend about ten minutes on hold, and then there seemed to be a some sort of snag, but the girl I talked to was really friendly and helpful, and she made sure everything got taken care of. And now I have a $40 credit on Southwest. Plus, since I'm not flying until the beginning of June, I'll continue to check the ticket prices until then, and I'll give Southwest a call any time the prices go down again. Even if the prices only go down $10, it ends up being $40 ($10 each way times two people). Ten minutes on hold for $40? Totally worth it.

Really, though, this is why Southwest is still in business. Sure, they aren't a super-snazzy airline. But what they lack in style, they make up for in prices and service. I have had consistently excellent service with Southwest airlines. Not only that, but I have found their prices to be consistently more awesome than other airlines' prices.

I'm not very loyal to brands, but I am often finding myself more and more loyal to Southwest Airlines.