30 December 2007

The Only Way to Fly

Silver Elite status on Northwest gets you free upgrades on domestic flights so Robin and I got bumped up last week flying from Seattle to DC. I’ve been upgraded quite a few times so here are some of my rules to live by while flying First Class:

1. Monocles are encouraged, but not required.
2. Try not to mingle with the peons in coach. No need to get mixed up with that rif raf. That curtain is there for a reason.
3. You should speak with a British accent at all times.
4. Never order the eggs for breakfast. Cheerios are always a better option. (Hint: They don't have stoves on planes, even in First Class).
5. Never take photos of yourself in First Class. It’ll look like you’ve never sat there before.
6. Don’t try to sneak into First Class from coach. And when you get caught, don’t tell the flight attendant, “I’m not going back there! I paid for this ticket two months ago and you gave me a middle seat!” How embarrassing. But I guess that’s what you’d expect from someone in coach.
7. Don’t worry about the plane crashing. If you go down, you know you’re going down in style.
8. Always give your jacket to the stewardess so she can hang it up when you board the plane, even if it's a windbreaker. It makes her feel like she’s needed.
9. Use the restroom in the First Class cabin as often as possible. The marble, stainless steel, and Egyptian cotton towels will make you feel right at home.
10. Always take advantage of the pilots’ offer to take a tour of the cockpit. If you’re really good, they sometimes let you take the controls.

25 December 2007

Merry Christmas!



A Merry Christmas to all!

Christmas was pretty magical when you were little. I remember falling asleep the night before, too excited to sleep, then waking up when it was still dark to sneak upstairs and see which gifts magically appeared under the tree. Now Christmas has become mostly commercialized and you can't even say the word "Christmas" for fear of offending someone. (I personally wouldn't be offended if I lived in a country where Christmas wasn't celebrated but other religious holidays were, and someone said "Happy _______" to me, but whatever). Apparently I've always been a little cynical about Christmas. I don't really remember ever believing in Santa; even when I was really little I knew that it didn't make sense for Santa and his elves to be making toys in his workshop when there were toy company names like Lego and Mattel on the packaging. Plus we had a woodstove in our fireplace so I knew there was no way a fat man in a red suit was getting down our chimney. I guess I was just a really smart kid.

Past holiday greetings:

2003: When you're using MS Paint, there's only so much you can do.


2004: This is probably my personal favorite. Santa didn't come through until 2006, though.


2005: My head was supposed to be Rudolph's nose but I think it looks like he's eating my head.


2006: How sad that people can't say "Merry Christmas" anymore.

19 December 2007

What I Would Do With Backward Feet: An Essay



Here is quite an interesting story about a young woman with backward feet. (Why does it always seem like China gets all the people with cool bodies? See this story also.) So, here is my list of ten things I would do if I had backward feet:

1. Trademark the slogan, "Got Backward Feet?" and run ads depicting celebrities wearing milk mustaches with my slogan above them.

2. Kick would-be muggers who came up behind me. Then I'd say, "I bet you weren't expecting that, you mugger!!! I have backward feet."

3. Invent a new soccer bicycle kick where I would jump forward and downward and use my foot to kick the ball into the net as it went over my back. A movie would be inspired by my new kick called, "Bend it Like the Guy with the Backward Feet." I'd probably marry a Spice Girl, too.

4. Start a club for people with backward feet. Networking is very important these days.

5. Invent a custom bed with a dip where my feet would go. I like sleeping on my back so this would be very necessary. (An ottoman with such a dip would be nice, too).

6. Pray longer because now kneeling wouldn't hurt so much.

7. Break the NFL's longest field goal record of 63 yards. I'd wear a special shoe with a flat front and a built-in spring so the ball would go straight and far every time. Take that, Jason Elam and Tom Dempsey!

8. Trade in my car for one with an automatic transmission. I think the stick shift would just be too tricky, especially in stop-and-go traffic.

9. Learn how to moonwalk forward. I'd be a hit at every party.

10. Get dibs on the email address backwardfeet@gmail.com.

14 December 2007

Dear Bill Gates,

I really enjoyed my first day at your company. The people were nice. My office has a great view. We get free soda and juice! I just have one complaint: my PC didn't work. But thank you for sending a Tech to check it out when the Help Desk person couldn't fix it over the phone. A few hours later I could check my Gmail account, buy iTunes for my iPod, and research on Google which Nintendo Wii game I should buy.


Sincerely,

Your Newest Employee in RTC Building 5 Room 4098

12 December 2007

Jag butik for Ikea!

Yesterday I made a trip to our neighborhood Ikea to purchase some furnishings for our fine apartment. I really enjoy how they include the Swedish names for the products. After all, who doesn't want to know what they call a table and chairs in Sweden? (Jokkmokk, if you are wondering). It makes me feel like I'm immersed in a little piece of Swedish culture. And personally I wouldn't mind one of those little dotted O's in our alphabet.

Some of the names are pretty intuitive like this one:


Or this one:


And I thought this one made sense:


This one made me laugh:

(you know, like "hop in bed")

But, I'll be honest with you--these next two really caught me off guard:




Those crazy Swedes!

10 December 2007

Back in the USSR


For the past few weeks I have been working construction with Russians. They are very nice people but so far all the stereotypes in my head have turned out to be true. For example, they eat stroganov every day for lunch. They play Tetris-like music on a boombox while we work. They always blast the heat like we're in Siberia or something. They yell and are angry a lot. At break time they drink "coffee" from a thermos but I know it's really vodka dyed brown. You don't fool me, you Russians. I find they understand me when I speak English like Borat. "That's-a nice!" and "Wow wow wee wow!" are the best way to communicate with them. One guy, Petr, does speak some English, actually. He gets by with three phrases: "Not bad," "I hope so," and "Okidoke." I guess if you were to learn only three phrases in another language, you could do a lot worse. I'm actually becoming fluent in Russian due to my daily immersion among these fine natives. The word for today is "Hobbiet," which means lunch. This one's easy to remember because those cute little Hobbits in Lord of the Rings liked to eat so much. Still no word on what "Jagshemash" means.

But the Russians also have a softer side. The other day Konstantin found out I went to law school but I'm working this job. He said he would pray for me "to find job." Then he said he would have his Russian pastor and congregation pray "to help my friend find job." What a guy. Another guy, Sergei, found out I am a "lawyer" and kept telling me while I was cutting some drywall that, "this job no good for you." Apparently I can't cut drywall. Then he called his (Russian?) lawyer to see if he had an opening for me. Thanks Sergei. The other day one of the Russians bought everyone pizza for lunch (I think there was vodka in it) and we all prayed in a circle before eating.

But, unfortunately, today is my last day because I got a "real" job at this company Bill Gates founded (I guess Konstantin's prayers worked). So here's a poem I wrote in tribute to the Russians: (set to the tunes of James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover" and "You're Beautiful")

Goodbye my Russians.
Goodbye my friends.
You have been the comrades.
You have been the comrades for me.

You're Moldovan. You're Ukrainian.
From Mother Russia, it's true.
I saw your face in a construction place,
And I don't know what to do,
'Cause now I'll never work with you.


L-R: Petr, Konstantin, Veniamin, Sergei, Anatoli

03 December 2007

Trouble in the Jungle


Click above to see Bindi Irwin's newest song, "Trouble in the Jungle." If you like little Australian girls who rap about saving wild animals from evil mankind, this is the music video for you. I've decided to model all of my dance moves from this point on after sweet little Bindi. I only hope I have some of the intangibles she has. You just can't teach this stuff. Also, I have a word to say to the Crocmen: It's one thing to be a backup dancer to Britney Spears in her glory days (can I get a shout out, K-Fed??) but this is a joke. You're backing up a 9-year-old whack job. Hopefully you lie to people you meet in bars when they ask what you do for a living.

My favorite lines from the song:

"I'm afraid of grizzly bears, but don’t you see/Grizzly bears should really be afraid of me."

"There’s trouble in the jungle/there’s trouble in the jungle/ We find that mankind is not so kind at all."

"What a dumb plan/Just ask the orangutan/His forest is shrinking, what are we thinking?/We're wiping out species without even blinking"

I was going to add my own colorful commentary, but I think Bindi's lyricist said it all.

02 December 2007

BYWho?

So Robin and I drove down to Portland on Saturday to see the BYU basketball team play the University of Portland. Needless to say, BYU won. But, the best part was that there were 5 times as many BYU fans as UP fans. Usually when you go to a sporting event, the visiting team gets booed when they enter the arena. Not this time. BYU got more cheers than the home team. The other best part was that apparently it was P-Day (at 7 p.m.???) because there were about 70 missionaries dressed in their suits and black name tags. I guess the guy behind us and his son had never seen Mormon Elders because when the kid asked his dad why "those BYU fans" were wearing suits and ties, the dad said, "I don't know. I guess they just got off work." Yeah, that sounds like a good explanation to me, too.

29 November 2007

A Night in the Life

This morning I woke up thinking that I sleepwalked last night. But I couldn't really remember any details so I got on with my morning. Things went well at first. I got dressed. I made my Carnation instant breakfast. I checked out SportsCenter for a few minutes. I packed my lunch. Then I was ready to go. I went to the key rack but the problem was my house keys were missing. The car keys were there but no house keys. How peculiar. I always put both sets of keys on the rack. I looked on the dresser, in the pocket of the jacket I wore yesterday. Nothing. Then I noticed my robe was draped over the sofa. I thought, "That's weird. I haven't worn that thing for ages." But sure enough, the keys were right inside the robe pocket. This leads me to believe that I got up, took the robe off the bedroom door hook, put it on, went to the kitchen, put the house keys in my robe, took off the robe with the keys inside, left it in the living room, and went back to bed. I'm still a little fuzzy on the details but that's basically a night in the life of a sleepwalker.

27 November 2007

My New Favorite Commercial

This new TV ad is amazing. Here are four reasons why I love it:
1. It's hilarious.
2. It features the Redskins* beating our division rivals, the Eagles.
3. It's for a Nintendo Wii game.
4. The grandma's name in the commercial is MacGregor (also my grandma's maiden name).

*R.I.P. Sean Taylor. The Redskins will miss you.

24 November 2007

BYU 17 - Utah 10



Well, it was another amazing finish to the best rivalry in college football. And like last year, the best team won. Because of the helmets we have to wear during the game, you probably didn't know I'm on the team. Here I am celebrating with my teammates and the loyal Cougar fans. We knew we would pull off the victory; we just wanted to give you an exciting finish so we let those pesky Utes score with 1:34 left. If you didn't have faith in us when it was 4th and 18 from our own 12, I guess you're not a real fan. Go Cougars!

This year's finish was pretty dramatic but it doesn't match 2006 or 2001, two of the best games I've ever seen.

After the game we taunted some Ute fans watching at my old house. For some reason they wouldn't even come outside. See for yourself.


22 November 2007

Thanksgiving!



A Happy Thanksgiving to all! It's time again for my favorite holiday of the year. I like Thanksgiving for the food, football, and family (in order of importance).

Now for some history. You may have thought that the first Thanksgiving was in Plymouth Rock in 1621 but according to Wikipedia it was in Berkeley Plantation, Virginia in 1619. Just another reason why Virginia is the best state.

In 1939 FDR named Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November. Congress later approved this in 1941. How does it take two years to approve a national holiday this amazing? And you thought this year's Congress was bad (20% approval ratings don't lie).

Some of my favorite Thanksgiving memories:

--Once I flew home from college for Thanksgiving the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I got a speeding ticket on the way to the airport. I asked the officer if he would give me a break since it was Thanksgiving. He said, "It's not Thanksgiving yet." What a fetcher.

--One Thanksgiving when I was a young teen our Dad wanted everyone to say something we were thankful for. For some reason no one wanted to do it and it turned into a big fight. I don't think we finished dinner together that year. And I don't think that was what he had in mind.

--In the MTC I was the first one in line for Thanksgiving dinner out of the entire MTC. Apparently by the time they got to the end of the line they were out of turkey. Suckers!

You may or may not know this about me but I've kept a journal every day since February 1992. Sometimes it's funny to look back and see what I wrote about, my handwriting, and my writing skills. Here are the Thanksgiving Day entries from 1992, 1993, and 1994:







I love how every year I wrote out each dish we ate at Thanksgiving (and it was always exactly the same). And my synopsis of Stargate in 1994 was enthralling. Maybe I should have gotten a movie review degree instead of going to law school.

Past holiday greetings:

2003: This was pretty ghetto but what can you do when all you have is Microsoft Paint?


2004: Extra credit if you know who the other turkey was.


2005: Where's Waldo?


2006: Just chilling and getting insulted by another turkey.

19 November 2007

The Doctor Is In



I love the prescription drug TV commercials where upbeat music plays while a person goes through his daily life with a smile on his face because his ailments are suddenly healed from popping a pill. The best part is that while this person is looking so happy, a voice in the background casually lists all the possible side effects. Wow, suddenly being cured doesn't seem so great when you could die from the same medicine.

I'm not a doctor but I'm pretty sure my Juris Doctor qualifies me to give my prognosis on a few prescription drugs and their associated side effects:


Purpose: anxiety
Possible side effects: depression, muscle twitching, agitation, concentration problems, diarrhea.
Prognosis: Is it just me or are all of these side effects also signs of anxiety? So what is Xanax actually curing? Plus now you have diarrhea to boot. Stay away from this one.


Purpose: enlarged prostate
Possible side effects: cough, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, infection, nausea, runny nose, sinus problems, sleepiness, sore throat, weakness
Prognosis: So now you don't have to pee as often but you have diarrhea and a runny nose. That's a trade-off I wouldn't make 9 times out of 10. No thanks, Flomax.


Purpose: insomnia
Possible side effects: dizziness, daytime-drowsiness, unusual dreams, loss of coordination, breast enlargement in males.
Prognosis: This medicine is supposed to help you sleep so you wouldn't even notice the dizziness or loss of coordination (unless you sleepwalk). And I think the unusual dreams could be fun and the enlarged breasts would finally help me gain weight. I'm giving Lunesta the green light.


Purpose: heart burn
Possible side effects: nausea, flatulence, abdominal pain, constipation, dry mouth, allergic reaction, back pain, chest pain, hot flashes, fatigue, fever, flu-like disorder, pain, rigors.
Prognosis: Let me get this straight--Nexium is supposed to make you feel better when you have heart burn. But it can also give you a stomach ache, nausea, and a fever, to name a few of the new ailments. Aren't all of those things as bad or worse than heart burn? My math skills say you're better off just going to sleep with the heart burn.


Purpose: shorter periods
Possible side effects: bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods, blood clots in the legs, liver tumors.
Prognosis: I've never had a period but it seems to me that the whole point of having a shorter period is so you bleed less and get it over with sooner. So basically they're promising you a 3-day period but warn you may bleed in between your 3-day periods. So it's not a 3-day period. Plus you could get a liver tumor. Sounds like a raw deal to me.


Purpose: depression
Possible side effects: Impotence, constipation, decreased sex drive, blurred vision, weight gain or loss, increased sweating, difficulty urinating.
Prognosis: After curing my depression, I think Cymbalta's side effects would depress me all over again. This one is a no-go.

I was purposefully avoiding the ED pills but I am adding this one because of the feedback I've received since making the original post:

Purpose: erectile dysfunction
Possible side effects: four-hour erection.
Prognosis. I know we're all thinking this so I'll just say it: Isn't that the point?

15 November 2007

In Da Club


You probably know what The Club is but if not, let me show you what its website says:

The Club® is the original, patented vehicle steering wheel lock and the #1 selling mechanical anti-theft device for cars and trucks. With 95% top of mind, national awareness, the Club® brand has become synonymous with automotive security. The number of personal property items stolen each year is staggering, with the annual property theft rate in the United States at roughly $12 billion, and auto theft accounting for a little more than half of that figure. Thieves are targeting more and more valuable items, such as tools, trailers, ladders, recreational vehicles, bicycles and spare tires. People are not only concerned about protecting vehicles, but they also want to protect and secure anything on it, in it, pulled by it, or related to it.

So, the other day I was walking to my piano lesson (I can play Mozart already), minding my own business, when I saw this beauty:


Nothing too crazy here. Just a ghetto hoopty that hasn't moved for weeks.
















If you look closely you will see a spider web up in the grill.

















No offense to this thing's owner, but I have a hunch this isn't the kind of car The Club had in mind. I mean, seriously, what about this car would tempt a car thief? The rusty trim? The broken grill? The sagging bumper? The car's 20-year lifespan? Come on!

11 November 2007

Apples to Apples

I enjoy an apple as much as the next guy. I usually pack a Red Delicious or Gala in my lunch because they're the cheapest. Sometimes I buy Fuji or maybe even Golden Delicious. But the other day at our neighborhood Safeway I looked around the produce section and realized how many apples are out there that I haven't ever tried.



I need to branch out! But how is a young man supposed to know which apple is best? The scientific method should do the trick. So I bought one of each apple, found a beautiful lab assistant, and did a blind study. Here I am getting ready for the big event.


I blindfolded myself and we got to work. The apples I studied were Southern Rose, Pink Lady, Braeburn, Red Delicious, Cameo, Fuji, Gala, Red Rome, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Jonagold, McIntosh, Jazz, and Ambrosia. (I didn't test Granny Smith because everyone knows it's primarily a baking apple. Plus it's really sour so it would have been obvious to my taste buds which one it was).


This was hard work but someone had to do it. Here you can see my lab assistant's hand. I had her hand-feed me so I didn't have to touch the specimens and contaminate the results.


The process was simple: I ate two pieces of an apple, talked about my feelings regarding that apple, gave it a numerical 1-10 score, ate a small piece of cheese to cleanse the pallet, and continued until I tried all the apples in random order. Then I did the whole process all over again and averaged the two scores. I based my scores on taste, juiciness, and the skin texture/chewiness. Here are the meticulous notes my lab assistant took down:

The results are in! Honey Crisp wins by a hair!


So you're thinking you should buy Honey Crisp from now on? Not so fast. Using some simple econometrics and regression-line analysis, I cross-evaluated the cost coefficient of each apple with its taste derivative. Here's what I came up with:

So if you're smart, you will buy Braeburn or Cameo apples from now on. Their taste level versus their cost per pound is matched by no other. And if you're buying Red Rome you might as well jump out of a window. They're crap. Take it from me. The best part of the study was that my lab assistant baked a pie with all the leftover pieces. I think I will offer her a more permanent position.


08 November 2007

Spite: An Essay

Spite is a funny thing to me. The dictionary defines it as "a malicious, usually petty, desire to harm, annoy, frustrate, or humiliate another person; bitter ill will; malice" or "malicious ill will prompting an urge to hurt or humiliate."

I think spite has been around a long time but my first real experience with it was in college. My roommates and I spent long hours playing the classic Nintendo games Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart: Double Dash. I guess these games were so addictive because they let our competitive spirits reign free. I'm sure we logged thousands of miles on the roads of the Mushroom Kingdom. And I remember having my go-kart attacked by a turtle shell and knocked out of commission many a time. The thing is, sometimes I would be in 4th place, not even remotely in contention to win that particular race, when I would be hit by a turtle shell fired backwards by the 3rd place player. Who could explain such a thing? It used to make me really mad. Then I realized: it was for spite. It had to be. This kind of behavior fits in perfectly with the definition of spite: it was malicious, humiliating, frustrating, petty, annoying, and done with the intent to harm me. I decided I was okay with that. I'd much rather be attacked out of spite than out of dumb luck or banal indifference. So, then I started asking my friends if they attacked my go-kart with a turtle shell out of spite. As long as they said yes, I was okay with it. Maybe even pleased.

Then I realized so much of the bad luck in life could be explained so much better if it involved a little spite. Example: a bird poops on your head as it flies by. You might look at this and say to yourself, "Man, I can't believe my lousy luck. What are the odds that stupid bird would poop on my head?" That might be one person's perspective but personally I would look at this situation and say to myself, "Wow, if that bird intentionally and maliciously decided in its pea-sized brain to fly over me, time its release just right, and hit me with its own excrement, my hat is off to him. You gotta love spite. Way to go little guy." Isn't that a lot better? I think so.


I think I would have enjoyed being a spiteful bird.



















Note: This post is dedicated to my old roommate, Reed. May spite find him wherever he goes in life.