Sunday, December 28, 2008

The future

As a new year is coming up, I thought I'd put up a post about my future. The start of a new year seems like a good time to look ahead. This post won't have goals for the new year, nor speculations as to where I want to be by the end of the year. I'm not one to sit around and muse about what the new year will bring. I'm much more likely just to get on google and search for my answers. And that is exactly what I did. So yeah, no speculations here, just straight up facts about my future.

To know the future, some people get visited by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, others use time machines. I personally, like to rely on good old fashion future seeing websites.

The first thing I learned was that I will be successful. I visited sites that promised me they could predict my future, and each one told me that. Some said I would be rich and famous, and generously help build houses for the poor in exotic places. Others told me I would be rich and famous, running a fortune 500 company. In fact, one went as far as to say I would invent glow in the dark office supplies right before a huge black out, which would make sales go through the roof. The point is, all websites agree, I will be rich and famous.

Let's your future I see success...riches...and is that a glow in the dark stapler?

I learned something else from these future predicting websites. While they are obviously pretty accurate with the longer term, they appear not to give many short term warnings. For example, it would have been wonderful if one of the websites had told me: "You will be rich and successful. Also, be warned, the next website you try and open is going to cause your computer to crash and all of the websites you have open are going to be lost." Sadly, no such warning. So I guess I've learned my end destination in the future, but I don't know all the twists and turns, bumps and potholes that the road leading there will have. If there are many more serious trials like computer programs locking up, I may just call it quits and just live at home eating junk food. I've been trying it out this last week, and it seems about as good as being rich and famous.

Where were you on this one, future predicting websites?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Adventure returns to my life

The day: Tuesday, the day of my last final, the day that would end in happiness and freedom...or so I thought. Little did I know, tragedy, heartbreak, misery and woe (yes both misery and woe) were in store. Here's the tale.

I know what you're thinking. I missed my true calling in life as a graphic design type of person. And you're probably right, I mean, just when you think a logo can't get better, I add lightning bolts.

So, Tuesday started the same as any other Tuesday, except that I had a final (this changed the day quite a bit, so essentially it started different from all other Tuesdays). I got up, studied, and went and took the test. It was painful, but pain is my middle name. Not a day in my life passes that I don't regret that my parents named me Michael Pain McMurtrey. Afterwards, did some adventerous stuff for a while, and left to wait for the bus around 8:40. I take the city bus to school, so as to save the environment. Not because I am too lazy to go and buy a parking pass.

This is Captain Planet. We have a lot in common. He's saves the world by fighting polluting super villains. I save the world by taking public transportation.

While waiting for the bus, two classmates drove up and offered me a ride home. I accepted. Carpooling is also on the list of ways I save the environment. If not for me, this world probably would have been destroyed years ago. I was being dropped off second. After we got to the first guy's apartment, I moved to the front, rather than continue awkwardly sitting in the back. We continued on. We got to my place, and I went to my apartment. Chalk me up for another success at finding my way home at the end of the day. Then it happened. I felt lighter than usual. I did a quick check. I hadn't lost weight due to some sort of miracle diet. I emptied my pockets. Sure enough, I lost my cell phone. I checked the apartment. No luck. I checked my friend's car. Failure and frustration resulted. Did I leave it at my desk on campus? I thought not. But thinking isn't always my strong point, so I decided to ignore what I thought, and go check.

Well...this picture speaks for itself, thus making the caption pointless...

I grabbed my car keys and left. Roads were treacherous. Snow, ice, slush, salt, dirt, and loose gravel were everywhere. I didn't care though. I had lost my phone. I sped around corners like a grandma in the Grand Prix. I got to the building I work/study in. I realized I had emptied out my pockets, meaning I didn't have my keys which would get me into the building. I silently cursed in my mind with words like "Man" and "Yar, this sucks". Several door attempts later, I managed to secure a cell phone off of another poor soul trying to get into the locked building. I called a student in my research group that I knew was still there. She let me in. I checked. No phone. I left very dejectedly. I, of course, didn't care about a worldly thing like a cell phone, given that I am much above that sort of thing. However, the fact that I had lost something, that I had failed to protect something in my care, and that I was unable to be successful despite my best effort...that's what really hurt. Well...and the fact that it's hard to talk to anyone I know when I don't have a cell phone...that kind of hurt too. But it was like being stung by a bee while falling into a pit full of boiling lava and failure.
This is what it's like to try and not succeed. Imagine what it's like to jump in there. Best never to try if you're just going to fail.

I decided it must have fallen out of my pocket. Either when I was getting in the car, or when I moved to the front of the car. I searched through the feet (feet should be read as inches here) of snow where I had gotten in my friend's car. No luck. My coworker who had let me into the building saw me and offered to call my phone for me. We went to the parking lot where I had switched places in my friend's car. It took about 3 wrong turns, and 4 checked parking lots before we found the right one. I looked in the snow and saw it. My poor frozen phone, covered in ice and snow, yet still alive, if just barely. I quickly cleaned him off, warmed him by the fire, and got him a steaming cup of hot chocolate. All's well that ends well...except the hours of frustration, cold and humiliation...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

So, do you have what it takes to be a nuclear engineer?

Every once in a while, when I tell people I'm studying nuclear engineering, I get strange comments like "Nuclear engineering, that must be hard.", or "Wow, that sounds cool". And of course, the inevitable "That sounds incredibly boring and lame". I think many people have the wrong impression about nuclear engineering. Maybe they see me and they think that to be a nuclear engineer, you need to be ruggedly handsome, witty, incredibly strong, graceful yet manly (girls might not worry about the manly part so much), and have a clear, stately manner of speaking. But, don't worry, while these traits are ideal, you do not need them in order to be a nuclear engineer. In fact, I'm here to let you know anyone who has the desire can make it. In fact, the desire, it turns out, is optional.

Yup. This is me. And someday I might be a nuclear engineer. Speaks wonders for the profession, doesn't it?

To be a good nuclear engineer, you need first and foremost, a good sense of humor. The idea is, you sit through classes that may be boring and you may not understand, and then afterwards you get together with your classmates and joke about how you really enjoyed all the many things you learned in class, and how easy it was. Also, you must have a strong ability to complain. After the joking, a complaining session usually is in order. If you're complaining abilities are weak, you may not have the endurance to last through this. It can be very long, and very intense.

When all else means no matter what, you are most likely going to fail too, so you might as well have fun with it. This guy had the right idea.

Nuclear engineering isn't all about classes. A significant amount of it is lab work. You need a highly developed skill set in order to be successful here. You will be asked to do things like: heat something up. Cool something down. Clean something. And my personal favorite: spend hours on end sanding and polishing steel bars. If you don't have these skills already, they can be developed. It takes a lot of work and commitment, but it is possible. Watching the Karate Kid can help, especially the part where he sands the deck.
See, first you glue metal bars to a bigger metal bar. Notice how uneven and unshiny they appear. Your job as a nuclear engineer is to change that. You must clamp them down and then sand the day...and possibly most of the night, away. Only when you've masted the art of sanding, will you be worthy to gain the title nuclear engineer.

So yeah, if you can joke around, complain, and sand things, you could quite possibly be an exceptional nuclear engineer. In related news, Salvation Army has an impressive selection of awesome sweaters. There are like two rows of them and they are even sorted by color. It's kind of like being in heaven. Knowing that somehow heaven must be better than Salvation Army really motivates me to make good choices in this life.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Talking to yourself

A skill, an art, a game, a sign of craziness.

I'm not sure why, but I've been thinking about the idea of talking to oneself (or is it one's self...). Possibly because when I was trying to think of what to write, I debated with myself.

Me: I know, I could write about talking to myself!
Me: I don't know, do you really want people to know you talk to me?
Me: Hmmm might seem a little weird, but...not that much weirder than other things I've written. I could just write about it in a subtle manner so people don't know I'm talking from experience.
Me: I don't my experiences you're not very subtle.
Me: Hey, what are you talking about??!! You take that back.

"So I've got this great idea, what do you guys think?" (By the way, if you're worried someone will think you're crazy if they catch you talking to yourself...that's nothing like the fear that a roommate will think you're crazy if he sees you taking multiple pictures of yourself on the couch...)

Obviously I won the argument and decided to write about talking to myself. Also obvious is the fact that I was right and I'm not very subtle. But seriously, talking to yourself is great for many things, not just debating an idea. Sometimes, if you're struggling with something, who better to give you a pep talk than yourself? You know exactly what the problem is, and you always know just what to say. Here's another example...of what a friend might do, not me though...

My "friend": I don't know, I just don't think I can do it...
"Friend": Are you serious? Why not, come on, you're great, you just got to pull yourself together.
"Friend": You think so? ...No, no, you're wrong, I can't do this.
"Friend": Hey, yes you can. Look at me. In the eyes, not at my shoes. Ok, now, I want you to stop all this crazy bad talk about yourself and say "This is me, this is what I was born for. I can do this!" You know you can, you've got to stop tearing yourself down. Now, keep your head up high and go out there, and just do it!

Remember, common courtesy to roommates says that you should wash hand prints off mirror after any high fives given during motivational self talks. (Also remember, this is a picture of a friend of mine. We look similar, but I stress the fact that we are friends, not the same person)

I'm not sure why, but I also like to justify myself out loud. Especially when I'm about to do something dumb and I know it, but I want to do it anyways. I'm not sure why I do this...maybe just in case people in the next life can get together and watch tapes of people's lives, I want them to know I recognized that it was a bad idea. Usually just one quick statement out loud to myself covers this, like this one:

Me: Well...this is a really dumb idea. I probably won't live through this...but hey, you can't let fear govern your life, right? Sometimes you've got to do dumb things to learn. I mean, I just want to live a little.

Then I jump on the sled with my friends, heading towards an intersection, where either a car will come and hit us, or we will hit the giant wall of ice on the other side. Had we died, I was covered, I had proclaimed to myself that I knew this was a dumb idea, but I wasn't going to let knowledge ruin my life!

"So, I've got to maneuver between the cars, hope no more cars come, dodge the parked cars on the other side, and watch out for the guy shoveling the walk. This may not be a good idea..."

So, I know what you're asking yourself right now. Probably something like this:

You: Man, he's right, talking to yourself is useful and fun. Why do people think it's crazy?
You: I have no idea. Maybe people who don't talk to themselves are crazy.
You: Yeah, I bet you're right.

I think the problem comes if either half of you in the conversation forgets you're talking to yourself. I mean, think of how confusing and crazy it could sound.

You: So yeah, then I asked her/him if she/he wanted to go watch a movie together, and he/she totally shot me down. It sucked.
You: Ha, man, what a loser you are.
You: Hey, you're supposed to build me up.
You: Why would I do that, you suck, you should try being more like me.
You: ...I am you, what are you talking about.
You: What? What on earth are you talking about? You are me? What, are you living two lives or something? That's crazy talk.
You: No, really, we're the same person, we're talking to ourselves right now.
You: Oh man, you really are crazy.

Then you would run around yelling hey, this guy/girl is crazy, watch out. He/She thinks he/she is me. People would look at you, and probably think you were crazy. At least that's my theory of why people think you're crazy if you talk to yourself. A few crazy people ruin it for the rest of us.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A motivational post

Because who doesn't need a little motivation once in a while? And who better than me to give it? Note the hypotheticalness of those questions, no need to answer them in the comments.

Everything's clearer with a graphic.

So, I've gone a while in my life without any real goals. I have vague long term plans that could possibly be called goals, but if so, they're wishy-washy-prone-to-change goals. I recently realized I needed to set goals, so I set my mind to it. To start off, I set a serious goal for Thanksgiving break. I spent Thanksgiving in New Mexico where my brothers both live, and I set the goal to stop my three year old niece from calling me a little girl whenever I talked to her...especially on the phone (my brother taught her to call me that, he gets a kick out of it, and she's come to love it. She gets so excited to talk to me and call me a little girl that I almost felt bad trying to break her of it).

I once thought I would never learn to ski...especially after my one and only attempt at it. And I can't ski and never will be able to because I didn't set the goal to learn. Some day, when my kids want me to teach them how to ski, I won't be able to. They will cry and be disappointed in me for years after that. Their strongest childhood memory will be that I couldn't teach them how to ski. And why? Because I didn't set the goal to learn. So set goals.

So, time to be motivational. Setting goals can be discouraging. You can feel your time running out. You will most likely run into setbacks. For example, when you try to change one niece, you may suddenly find that another niece and nephew catch on that it's fun to call Uncle Mike a little girl, even though it's obviously not true. Some setbacks can be painful, such as small children jumping on you and kneeing you in the stomach/legs/face/neck while happily calling you a little girl. At times it can seem like there is no way to accomplish your goal. You don't know what to do, you have no idea how you teach a three year old, and when you were three you were always polite and kind to everyone so you don't relate to name calling at all.

Goals should be measured. If you don't put people after the ramp, how will you ever know how many you could have jumped over?

But persevere! Somehow, things will work out if you persevere. I can't pinpoint exactly what it was that did it, but eventually I got through to my niece. By the time I left New Mexico, she was calling me a big tough man, which is obviously more accurate than a little girl. And as an added bonus she started calling my brother a little girl. Accomplishing goals can be so sweet. So go set some goals and accomplish them!

To sum things up, sometimes goals can be like getting a drink from a drinking fountain when you're two feet tall. Even doing all you can do (climbing stools, pushing buttons, the works) your goal will still be out of reach. But if you just start crying, other people will come and lift you up so that suddenly your goal is easy and takes no work on your part. At least I think that was the moral of the story.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Controversial topics

So usually I avoid controversy. I am a mild and peace loving person, who avoids arguments and conflicts. Just ask anyone who knows me. Well, not anyone, as there are some who are jealous of my peaceable nature. Don't ask them, they'll lie. Actually, thinking on what many people might say, most people I know must be jealous of me, so just believe what I've said and don't bother asking anyone. I'm saying this because in this post I'm going to claim some things false, that many people believe to be true. I don't want those people getting offended and arguing their points. I'm just voicing some opinions that I have that just happen to be right.

This is a common sight outside my apartment. Unless these ducks and geese came from the North Pole, they have done little migrating south this winter.

1) Birds, namely ducks and geese, migrate south for the winter. False. They do not. This was a recent realization for me, but I noted at BYU there was a pond that had ducks in it year round. I've been paying attention to the flying V's that I see in the skies this winter. I have noticed geese flying north, and geese flying east, but I have not seen any flying south. People just see geese and ducks flying in V's and they say, oh they're flying south for the winter. Check next time someone tells you that. They are probably not flying south.

Is it a bear? Is it Bigfoot? In my opinion, either one is equally's probably just a hairy man in a bad fur coat...though the photo is a little blurry, so I could be wrong. It may be a pretty nice fur coat.

2) Bears are a real animal. Again, commonly believed, but not actually true. I realized this a long time ago. I've hiked and camped in "bear country" a number of times. I have seen zero bears in the wild. I think bears are like big foot, or other things like that. There are always sightings, but little proof. Sure, zoos claim to have them, but look closely, half the time they never move because they're actually fake. The ones that do move I think are probably made with robotic parts. I've seen them do the same things with dinosaurs in a museum. It doesn't mean suddenly that dinosaurs are alive and walking on the earth...I think you're just as likely to run into a dinosaur, as you are a bear.

This has never happened to me. Not that I have ever been deserving mind you...

3) I've been trying to think of a third one for a while, preferable one that isn't animal related. I thought about disproving that lying is bad, but then I decided it might be bad to lie about lying being bad. So I settled on the idea that Santa gives you coal if you've misbehaved. This one was disproved a number of times while I was growing up...because my sisters never got coal. Apparently Santa is very forgiving, even when letters are written to him with proof of siblings' bad behavior. I, of course, never had to worry about whether this was true or not. I lived by the motto: "Do whatever possible to ease the life of parents and those around you, and make the world a better place".
Hopefully this post has been enlightening, and I haven't crushed anyone's dearly held beliefs. Luckily, I think the real reason I've avoided controversy for so long in my life is because I only have strong opinions about weird things that other people don't care about.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A week of increase

Growing up, I was not always "cool". I didn't listen to a lot of music, in fact, usually I only listened to what my friends liked, and that was while I hung out with them. And we all know, the music you listen to determines, in a large part, your coolness level. So, when I learned this great truth a few years ago, I decided I needed to get to know some bands and find some that I liked so that I could be cool...and hold my own when people talked to me about music (this is very similar to the reason I started following sports's very unmanly if you can't hold your own in a sports conversation). So, after some recommendations from some friends, and listening to different music for a while, I found my favorite band: Jack's Mannequin. The song that really got me hooked on them was Dark Blue, but I like a lot of their other songs too. I'd explain who they are, but you can just look them up on wikipedia if you don't know.

It was dark, and I'm not the most skilled photographer, but, I think you still get the general idea from this picture. Well...maybe not, but the idea is, this was a concert for cool people to go to.

So, thinking my coolness was secured, I continued on in life, not realizing I was missing key components to being even cooler. I had only been to one concert in my life (I'm not talking like a symphony or orchestra concert, I've been to those...and for the record, I also am not counting local bands, though I've been to one of those when my roommate was playing in one), and that was Neil Diamond. It's a long story, but the short of it is a friend, who is a huge (huge) fan of Neil Diamond, had an extra ticket, invited me, and I went. Average age at the concert: 63. It was fun, but I don't think it did much to raise my coolness level. So this week, a friend, who knew I like Jack's Mannequin, and who also had found out that they were playing in Michigan, invited me to head up and see them. Only she didn't tell me what we were doing at first, and it wasn't until we were on our way up that I found out. I don't think I've actually been that surprised since the day I found out you could microwave a potato in a ziploc bag. It was a lot of fun to go hear them, and I could actually feel my coolness level raising.

I want this to be me. Sitting in front of a mansion with a top hat and a cane, doing nothing. But doing nothing in a rich and classy like manner.

Also on the rise this week was my sophistication level. I went to Eugene Onegin, an opera by Tchaikovsky (yes, I had to look up how to spell his name). I feel it is important to be sophisticated and cultured. That way, if society ever goes back to a more divided class system, where the upper class lounge around in mansions all day and go to balls and such at night, I will be classy enough to fit in with them. I would much rather live in an estate and not be stuck cleaning chimneys or something. While talking about different concerts and shows that I went to, I could also mention that I went to a high school rendition of A Christmas Carol. I'm not sure what good characteristic that increased, but I'm sure it made me a better person.

Here's a summary of the week for those who didn't want to read the post. Coolness has gone up, sophistication has gone up, and it should be generally understood that manliness/toughness goes up every week.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Update: More action and adventure from my life.

Well, this was another exciting week. I'll go over Saturday, which is always the highlight of any week...unless you're on vacation, then all days are equally highlighted.

An adventurous life needs an adventurous logo...and an adventurous color scheme helps.

So a while back, I got an email asking me to go to a luncheon on Saturday. It was for prospective engineering graduate students thinking about coming to Michigan. There was a guy visiting the nuclear department from BYU (where I did my undergraduate work), so they asked me to come and talk to him. Obviously they need to do more screening before sending out these invitations. I cracked after the first question. It went something like this. Him: "So, how's everything going?" Me: "Aagghh, what are you doing, why are you thinking of more school? Get out while you still can! You're getting a degree, why aren't you happy with that? They suck you in and they'll never let you you want to be in school for the rest of your life? Please....take me with you....I'm small, I'll fit in your've got to get me out of this place. Don't make me go back to class, I can't do it, I haven't understood a word in 5 weeks. You've got to help me..." By the end I had dropped to my knees, cradling my head in my hands and looked like I was going to pass out. He seemed like a nice guy over all. I also met another guy from Idaho who's looking at nuclear engineering and considering working for my adviser. After the initial outburst, I tried to compose myself and remember that I was trying to convince people to come out here for school.

You need to be prepared before you go shopping. I would suggest printing off some floor plans, taking a compass, maybe a sleeping bag and some matches just in case. Oh, and plenty of granola bars.

The luncheon was right across the street from a mall here in Ann Arbor. I've been somewhat in desperate need to go shopping, but not the usual kind of shopping for milk, bread and whatnot that I get at Kroger. I needed things like clothes and such. Someday, Kroger will start making Kroger brand clothing and selling it in their stores, and that will be a happy time...but until then, I knew I had to give in and go shopping somewhere else. The Sears entrance caught my eye because they had an auto center too, and I wanted to get a price estimate on something for my car. So I went in, found the auto center desk, and then went looking for the actual mall entrance. I wandered lost in Sears for a while. It's a big store. A man came and asked if he could help me find anything. I almost begged him to show me the exit, but I didn't trust him. He had those shifty eyes that said "I will not help you, instead I will mock you". So I told him I knew what I was doing, and busied myself pretending to look at whatever was closest to me. Purses. After he turned his back, I a casual, walking manner, not to draw any more unwanted attention. Charlie Chaplin in "The Gold Rush", doing a dance with rolls...genius.

Eventually I found my way out, bought things I needed and ended up back in Sears. I bought more things there, and finally found the doors that looked like the entrance I had come in. On my way to those doors, I found the doors I had actually come in and went out those. Later that evening, I went to a friend's and watched some old classic movies with a bunch of people. It was fun, and educational, as these were actual classic movies (Charlie Chaplin, and a Buster Keaton), not movies that I usually refer to as classics, such as Labyrinth, The Sandlot, or Mighty Ducks. Afterwards, we played some Dr. Mario. I finally won something after doing doing a fair amount of trash talking...which is unusual for me...usually I trash talk and then lose horribly. That also happened in my last Dr. Mario match, but the point to focus on is that I also won sometimes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween and Music

First, I'll explain the music to the right. In this post I'm going to talk a little about some songs my old BYU roommates and I made for fun. So I thought I'd try and put together a play list so you could listen to some while you read the post (I have been told I write a lot, so now you can listen to music while you read the long posts...hurray...). The only one that needs explanation...or at least that I can the Community Theme. Two of my roommates and I shared all our food and eventually formed ourselves into the Community. We tried to get others to join with limited fact, mostly we just got our other roommates to form the anticommunity, and they have since been our archrivals.

Not only was Jen the first (and currently only) to post a Halloween picture that I could steal, she also helped me with the costume. She gets all the credit for the awesome sunglasses that pretty much made my costume (a rockstar for those that may be confused).

Halloween was a lot of fun, even though I didn't have a costume together until October 30th...which probably isn't unusual for me. Halloween night I went to a party put together by people in my church. It was a lot of fun, there was food (always a good thing), games (again, always good), and dancing (ummm....also always good?). They also did a pageant type of thing to determine who would be crowned Mr. and Ms. Monster. The Ms. it turns out is important not to confuse with Mrs., we did not force any sort of marriage at the party. They just picked a few people to be in the pageant, you had to be in costume, and share a talent. I was one of the guys they picked.

The song I did for the talent part of the activity was based on Love Machine, a song written by some of my old BYU is also the only song we ever actually performed (at a church talent show last year). We usually just made songs and recorded them for the fun of it, but it worked out for the talent show. We even had something for everyone of us to do, including a couple of dancers.

I don't know much about pageants. I remember my sisters would sometimes joke around about a special wave when we were younger. It went something like "elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, wipe a tear, blow a kiss." I was a little worried I might have to break it out...and very worried that I might wrongly direct the blown kiss so it hit a guy. I have not blown many kisses in my day...I have no idea how you aim a blown kiss. Luckily I was not required to do any sort of special wave. For the talent, I sang "I am the Monster King". A remake of the well known song, "I am a Love Machine". Well...maybe not so well know, but I wish it were. It's part of the get rich schemes my BYU roommates and I came up with.

Pilgram in the music video for Girl in my Closet. Sadly, the hair is not real.

We took up writing songs for fun our freshmen year, and we did it every now and then later on. Then, this last year, we were inspired. We put together a music video to Girl in my Closet (started it at like midnight...the best time for any sort of project like this), and put it onto Youtube. We figured if we could get about a million hits, then we could get our own site together, put up other music and videos, and become the next greatest band...and most importantly, make millions of dollars so we could all drop out of school. Sadly, so far, after 8 months of being on Youtube, we only recently cleared the 1,600 mark. Hopefully in a few more weeks we will reach the coveted million views mark...and to help things along, I'm going to put a link here, completely using my blog to push my own interests. Feel free to visit it and boost our feelings of popularity (and get us one step closer to dropping out of school). We also did a version of Love Machine for a talent show. We didn't practice together much, we added the keyboard part like the day before, and picked up a drummer from another band that my roommate Lamar played in. Overall though, it turned out pretty well.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Story of the past: Cool guy of the week

I thought I'd pull a story from my past years for this blog post. Partly because I don't want to write about my week every time, otherwise people may realize I don't live the adventerous, action-packed life that I say I do (Though really I do, if I were to talk about my week this week, I would tell you stories of wandering through the dangerous areas of Detroit, visiting cider mills, one with a bridge rumored to be haunted, and let's not forget game night on Friday, where I saw the phrase "The man took his dog to find his lost meat" slowly change to "Evil vampire man attacked the girl with a pitch fork"). So my past life story I'm going to tell we'll call "The Origins and Endings of The Cool Guy of the Week".You had to be cool to be cool guy of the week. It was the most important rule.

As I've said before, I always lived with the same guys through my undergraduate years at college. During our time together, many interesting traditions started and ended...and sometimes even started again... Cool guy of the week was one of those traditions. It started our freshman year. Basically, every week, everyone on our dorm floor would vote for someone to be the cool guy that week. This meant anything they said went (cool guys obviously can't be wrong), they got prime seating for midnight movie on Thursdays, and everyone else had to constantly let them know how cool everything they said was. Oh, and you had to wear a all week, called the cool guy shirt. This shirt could never be washed, although you were allowed to jump into the pool with it on, if you felt that it needed a little rinsing off.

Don't worry, we did not discriminate between male or female. Either sex could be voted cool guy of the week, though some thought it unfair that we refused to allow the title to be changed to cool girl of the week, or anything like that. But let's be serious, guy encompasses both male and female.

The tradition obviously stopped while my friends and I served missions for our church, but when we got back, it started up again (with a new cool guy shirt, as the old one was lost, and with the addition of a cool guy sweater option for those colder days). And the tradition grew to include much of our ward (church group that met together). Eventually a roommate started up an online voting website (I did a google search and found the website: it still exists!). This is where the tale becomes sad. Corruption, greed, and false coolness lead to many problems with the voting system. Soon, campaigning began, as if one could campaign to be cool. People began to lose sight of the true meaning of being cool. Then fake votes began showing up. Due to a flaw in the security system of the voting website...or maybe just the complete lack of any security system on the website...people were able to vote as many times as they wanted, and false names were often created.

I was voted in as cool guy during a week of civil unrest. The previous cool guy, outraged that one of his cool mandates had not been met, refused to return the cool guy shirt and sweater. During this time of turmoil, a cool guy coat was created (bought in Mongolia by one of my roommates). I have never gotten so many angry looks on BYU's campus as when I was wearing the cool guy coat everyday. I suspect people were angry and jealous of my coolness. I did not wear the cool guy hat that is shown in this picture, I didn't think the world was ready for that kind of coolness.

In an angry response, our apartment shut down the online voting, seizing all control of the naming of cool guy of the week, so that only we could decide who should be cool guy of the week. This caused many horrible backlashes in our ward. Angry mobs formed, bricks were thrown threw our windows, followed by torches. The cool guy of the week could not calm them down. Finally, after getting thicker windows that would repel bricks, we decided that the once proud, unifying, tradition of Cool guy of the week, had lost all meaning, and needed to be retired. The cool guy shirt and sweater were hung in our closets, and there remained...and possibly still do remain.

The final cool guy of the week was the naked indian on BYU's campus (please note that the statue is not actually naked, he is sporting a loin cloth, we just refered to him as the naked indian statue). He was cool because he could sport the sweater in the normal fashion, or as a cool guy loin cloth.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My scary tale of sisters and ghosts.

Anyone who knows me, knows sisters scare me more than ghosts.

This is my mom and her friend playing cello for Boo at the Zoo. They love to dress up in somewhat elaborate costumes, they went as ghosts this year. I don't know why, but my mom completely changes when she's around some of her friends. She gets kind of crazy...and I mean that in the good sort of crazy way, since I assume she may read this.

So I went to Ohio this weekend, that was fun. Friday, after finishing up everything that needed to be done with school (I use the term finishing somewhat loosely here...), I left Ann Arbor, picked up my older sister and my youngest sister from the Detroit airport (they had flown's an airport, it's what you do.) and we went down to Cleveland. This was no random trip back to my childhood home. We went to see my mom, who had also flown in from Texas where my family's living, play cello at the Cleveland Zoo. The more I try to explain this to people, the less sense it makes to me, but it happens. My family hasn't lived in Ohio for like 5 years. My mom used to play cello with her friend every Halloween for "Boo at the Zoo". Even though my family moved many dozens of hundreds of miles away, my mom still flies back to Ohio every year around Halloween time. It's kind of like a vacation for her I think...but they pay her to take it, which seems like it would make any vacation better. I am willing to travel to Hawaii if anyone reading this would like to pay me to go there.

Again, Boo at the Zoo. So, they've taken up playing these funky looking cellos. They're electric cellos. It's because by day my mom plays at the zoo, but by night she rocks out with some pretty hard core bands. You should hear the electric cello, electric banjo, and electric kazoo all play together, you get some pretty rockin' tunes.

On the way to Cleveland, my sisters and I stopped at Cedar Point, which is a pretty awesome roller coaster park. Then we continued on to the east side of Cleveland, where I grew up in a small town called Chesterland. We stayed with some family friends who treat us like we're their kids. Only I wonder sometimes if they don't treat us better, so maybe like grandkids. Let's be serious, I've seen my parents around my nephews and nieces...they definitely treat grandkids better than kids. Saturday I went to Columbus to pick up a friend from BYU who was interviewing for dental schools, then went up to Boo at the Zoo. My favorite part, besides the cello playing of course, was looking at all the kids costumes (apparently this event is for kids like 8 and under, so if you are, say 24, and do not have any kid with you, you actually tend to feel slightly out of place). Halloween's coming up and I always struggle coming up with a costume. So I figured I scope out what was hot, and just copy the most popular costume. Turns out fairy princess is pretty popular. I may not be that.

Picture of Ohio where we stayed. I've got to say, I'm pretty proud of this picture, got the sun just right through the trees. Had to cut down 7 trees to do it, but it was definitely worth it.

Sunday was fun too, went to church with a lot of people I knew growing up. Plus it was the primary program, which means the entire meeting was done by kids younger than 12 (and a few adults to help them). I also sat by a friend who had two of his kids with him that were too young to be part of the program. So, yeah, needless to say I enjoyed the meeting a lot. Kids are funny, and I seem to relate pretty well to them. Turns out we even have about the same length of attention spans.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Week 2: Still here.

Last summer, my family went on our first big family vacation ever. We went to Belize, it was a lot of fun. Despite my original belief, Belize, though Itallian sounding, is not in Italy. It is actually in Central America. Wikipedia and Google maps agree on this.

Yup, it's week two and I have not given this up yet. That's a good sign. I took up running a little while ago. Ran almost everyday for a week...and then stopped and haven't been out again since. So, two weeks in a row without quitting is pretty good for me.

Mainland Belize is a pretty cool place, with lots of old Mayan ruins, surrounded by jungle. It was fun to wander around, eating fruit off the trees, and bugs off the ground, just like Baloo taught Mowgli in the Jungle Book (Disney cartoon version, as I'm not mature enough to actually read any sort of book, or watch a real movie). Just need those bare necesities.

I was going to just write about my week, but I realized I have one major problem. I have no pictures from anything I did this week. And since some people (namely my brother...possibly others) tend to only look at pictures, I realized I was going to have to do some improvising. So I think I will show random pictures that tell one story, while here in the text I will talk about something completely different. This will most likely be very disorienting and confusing, but my mind's made up, so it's too late to change anything. This week I did some country dancing at a church activity (and possibly even did it right...well...small little parts of it right). The whole activity was fun, even though there are rumors floating around that the chili judging was rigged. By rumors floating around, I mean I hope to start some by mentioning this in my blog. I did not win, nor did I take second...or third. On top of that, the guy I was taunting all week took second place, completely thrashing the credibility of any future trash talking that I might do.

We didn't realize it at the time, but some of these sites were famous...well, more famous than other ancient indain ruins. The top picture is one taken with my camera. The bottom one is not. This may be the closest I ever come to being in a famous movie. For those who don't recognize the bottom picture, it's from Star Wars (Return of the Jedi I think...). Please note, I thought of many lame Star Wars related jokes for this caption, and I held off on putting them. That should be worth extra credit in we get graded on our blogging skills?

Also this week was my first ever visit to a cider mill, followed by many hours wandering in a corn maze (It was actually very similar to Lord of the Flies. After so many hours of wandering lost without water or food-not counting the hundreds of ears of corn that surrounded us-our group started to split into tribes. Then the tribal wars started. Things got ugly for a while. There was much backstabbing, friend turning on friend, life long enemies made, then unmade...and promptly made again due to said backstabbing. It was definitely a lot of fun and I would highly recommend it to anyone.) Cider mills are apparently very important in Michigan. There are tons of them around and everyone has their favorite one to go to. In fact, I'm told you can tell a lot about a person by what cider mill is their favorite. I'm trying to figure out which cider mill says "I'm cool, tough, and ruggedly handsome". That's the one I plan on making my favorite...which may shake many people's faith that you can tell anything about anyone based on their favorite cider mill.

After spending a few days in the jungle, we went to the coast and went snorkeling (first time I've ever been). I had mixed feelings about it at first. I had recently watched shark week on the discovery channel and had seen a "harmless" reef shark bite a camera man. The mixed feelings came from my fear of being attacked in contrast with my hope of losing a sister or two to feed the poor, hungry sharks. Neither one of these happened...nor was I able to ever catch...or even touch...a fish despite the fact that there were many that mocked me by swimming close, only to dart away when my hand moved.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Blogging and me

Family a few years ago. Since this picture was taken, two more nephews have been added to the family and one brother-in-law. Also, two sisters have been sold off, causing great gain to family morale and finances.

I'm kinda new at this blogging thing. In fact, until recently, I considered blogging for older, married people (these two go together, being single means you're young, married: old, and married with kids: really old - Sorry Kip and Katie, but congrats again on becoming really old). Recently, however, I stumbled upon an underground movement of hip, young, cool people who have blogs. So I thought, I'm hip, young and cool, I like underground things, maybe I could blog. Then, after talking with some of these bloggers, I decided I'd give it a try. So that's the basic story of my starting a blog.

It turns out, starting a blog means lots of decisions...some of which I wasn't really ready to make-this includes naming your blog and choosing a template. I'm told I can change these later, so that made it less stressful. I picked a random template, and called the blog "This blog was made for reading", mainly so I wouldn't make two mistakes. One, so I would remember I should probably try and make it at least somewhat interesting since people will (possibly) be reading it, and two, to remind myself that this is not a private journal, if I write it, people may actually read it, so be careful self, don't write too much of what you don't want known.

My plan for this blog will probably change pretty often. Secretly, I'm not much for talking about myself, which is what I think you're supposed to do on a blog, so I decided I would ramble about nothing instead. Then I remembered this blog was made for reading, and random ramblings might get old. Since I recently started a new phase in my life (graduate school at Michigan), I decided maybe I could use the blog to keep old friends and family (old refers to friends, not family, I still hang out with the same family as I did when I was younger) up to date, and also, it could be used to help people in Michigan get to know me better (which may be a bad idea, if people start avoiding me, I may stop blogging, or just start telling outlandish lies to trick them into thinking that I am cool to hang out with, and should not be avoided).

Again, family, couple years old. The main reason for this picture is that there was a lot of text without any picture, so I threw this in to break it up a bit. It's in San Antonio, my family moved to Texas about 5 years ago.

I believe there is an "about me" or something like that on the side bar, haven't really looked at anything on the blog yet before writing this post, so I figured I'd summarize my life in this first post. There are 7 kids in my family, I have two older brothers, an older sister, then three younger sisters. Despite being surrounded by sisters, don't worry, I grew up very manly and tough. My mom is a musician, my dad an engineer, so I guess I got a bit of both...making me a poor musician and a bad engineer. I spent most my life growing up in Ohio, just east of Cleveland. I was a distance runner in high school, and did many other very important and wonderful things I'm sure. Really I was somewhat quite (somewhat may or may not mean really) and possibly even somewhat nerdy (somewhat here should give the impression that this is not very likely, but there is a small, very small, possibility that it is true). I did my undergraduate studies at BYU-Utah in Chemical engineering. It was a pretty fun time for me, freshman year I lived in the dorms and got to know the guys on my floor pretty well...after spending about a month only doing things with my roommate. The original plan was not to get to know anyone and eventually move to the mountains and become a hermit, but eventually we got to know everyone else on the floor and decided they were cool enough that we could hang out with them.

"Family" picture of roommates - this caption is above the picture because I am somewhat struggling to get the captions to do what I want...
I would be roommates with some of the guys I met freshman year for my entire time at BYU, and stay pretty well in contact with most of the rest. I went to Argentina for two years after my first year at college as a missionary for my church. Then I came back and finished my degree in April 2008. It seems like a lot of time at school was spent trying to figure out a get rich quick scheme with my roommates so that we could drop out of college and be rich. A few were really good ideas, but we always ran into snags. One of my favorites to talk about was a very simple idea, we only needed the use of our apartment complex's pool, and a killer whale. And, as luck would have it, one
of my roommates was going to Alaska that summer, a prime place for capturing killer whales, or so I believed. Basically the idea was to keep the whale in the pool and charge people admission to swim with a killer whale (a good date idea if I've ever heard one, but also fun to do with a group of friends). I'm pretty sure we could have made a lot, I
know it's one of my dreams to swim with a killer whale, and if it were in a swimming pool that was small enough that the whale would have trouble eating me, all the better. We even realized we could start up a collection for people to donate money to get a larger aquarium for the whale, thus making us look humane and caring. We would then promptly pocket the donations. Sadly, my roommate failed to bring back a killer whale, thus wasting his trip to Alaska. He has still not been completely forgiven. Since none of these get rich quick schemes took off, I am still going to school, studying Nuclear Engineering at the University of Michigan, waiting for the day when I can drop out and get rich quickly, with minimal work. If all else fails, I may eventually take my own trip to Alaska, and show my roommate how whale capturing is meant to be done.

I've liked Michigan so far. I moved here in the middle of the summer (July 9th) so that I could start working in my advisor's lab before classes started. This worked out well for two reasons. One, I got to know my way around the lab a little bit before getting bogged down with classwork, and two, I got to know a good amount of people out here during the summer when people tend to do more (good weather, less school for those in school, and...I don't know, people just do more in the summer, it's true, so I don't have to justify it with reasons). That second point was important, since there are no mountains in this area of Michigan, I couldn't fall back on my original plan to become a hermit living in the mountains, shunning all human contact. Luckily, there were a lot of activities I could go to with people from my church, so all I had to do was pretend I was social, and I got to know a good amount of people pretty quickly.

My first apartment in Michigan. I lived here by myself for two months...this is at the end of the two months after I furnished the apartment with an air mattress a stool (technically, my mom came and visited, and had pity and went out and bought the stool).

Well, that does a decent job summing up my life...well, at least as well a job as I'm willing to type right now, and probably more than most people are willing to read. The plan is now to go back and figure out how to put pictures in this thing so that it at least looks interesting. I will try and put pictures of family, Utah and Michigan. I will probably not put any of Argentina, because I have no pictures on my computer. They are all stored in a man book. For those that don't know, a man book is similar to a scrap book, but much more manly. Where a scrap book looks nice, has colorful pages, cutely written captions, and cleverly cut pictures, a man book has white pages, messy, short captions written with a black sharpy, pictures crudely cut so that they would fit on the page, sometimes cutting people in the picture off so you can cram more in, and it just has a general manly feel to it. It is a very tough thing to have, and portrays a strong sense of manliness about the person who is skilled (and manly) enough to make one. Well, that's it for now, until next time (probably next week, the plan is to be a weekly updater).

I took this picture from someones facebook album. It's a picture of me in Michigan, conveniently the one that has the most other people in it that I could find. I am sure I picked this picture so that others could see some of the people I hang out with in Michigan, not because I think it makes me look well-liked and popular. But, by all means, please note how many people are in the picture and come to any obvious conclusions. There are at least dozens of people, and that's not counting the third table of people that is outside the picture. Nor is it counting the picture taker...who may or may not have been the waitress, I'm not sure. Either way, we were good friends.