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.