Monday, October 28, 2013

Wonderfully Friendly

This past weekend we had a wedding reception, a funeral, and a wonderful rock climbing experience with Amy, Justin, Shayla, and Jake. And a birthday party for Brandon's long-gone roomie Grant! And then most of an afternoon/evening with Grant's family. Lots of good things.

Yesterday evening, upon returning to Brandon's place I was in need of just a little quality snuggle time before I headed home (because I'm like that), and as we snuggled, we watched our regular Wimp/Dump videos and this was one of my favorites. :)


(Postman Pat and his black and white cat)

Pretty much adorable, right? Although I don't currently have a cat of my own, I do at least have the wonderful friendly company of Bruce (Brandon's neighbors' cat with one eye) and Pharaoh (our neighbors' cat) to keep me somewhat sated for awhile. But as I've expressed on Instagram, I'm looking forward to seeing Thor, snuggle monster that he is. :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Tuts My Barreh

I'm posting this now before I forget, but it is too wonderful of a memory to leave to the chance of not having it later.

Brandon and I went to Cam and Emily's reception this evening (they got married earlier this morning) and we came home fairly early from the reception (by 8:00).

(Quick side note: I'm extremely critical (though not judgmental) of wedding dresses. Particularly in the LDS culture, I've just seen so many boring dresses. Granted, the wedding (and marriage) are NOT defined by the dresses, but it just doesn't seem that difficult to find an awesome dress, and  just doesn't happen. Emily's dress is one of the first I've seen that I've actually loved. Seriously. And I've seen over a hundred in the last five years or so on people that I know or are somewhat closely acquainted with. I think one of the biggest details that makes the difference is that the fabric is not white! It's a champagne (sp?) gold dress. A very soft creamy gold on a textured lace. Gosh, the color makes such a difference. Anyway...)

Getting home early without any plans, we chatted with one of my roommates for a bit than went over to his house to watch a new episode of a show. However, the episode wasn't out so we reverted to watching quick videos from all over the internet.

One of these was the following.

(Touch My Body (tuts My Barreh) /Karaoke Fail (english subtitles))

The subtitles are a little overdone, but even so, it's incredible. And terrible. Actually, the unforgiving subtitles are what make this video so amusing.

For whatever reason, this video had a particular impact on Brandon. Up until today I had never seen him cry in sadness or in joy. But this evening, while watching the above video, he dissolved into tears and breathless laughter. It was a wonderful sight to behold, as you might imagine. :)

An additional note on this, Brandon is actually the one who properly introduced me to Mariah Carey and the original music video with this song. Up until meeting and dating him, while I'd heard her name and music, I hadn't connected the two or really ever properly listened to her. But then, my musical upbringing didn't exactly dable much in popular pop music.

Watching this video (and Brandon's reaction to it) definitely made my day. :) I love that man!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Utah Names?

My coworker just shared this with me and I feel like I need to share it with all of you (and everyone in Utah or the world who does this)!

(Utah Names)

This embodies the ridiculousness with much of the naming that stereotypically (and realistically) occurs here in Utah. I can't remember all of the odd names of students I went to school with, but there were a lot of them. A LOT of them. My coworker isn't close acquaintances with these two girls, but he knows someone who is and that person (is that a long enough train of sources yet?) told my coworker that they (the girls doing the video) directly knew people with all of these names. This article also summarizes many of my thoughts were these kinds of names are concerned.  I may have already shared that here before...

Anyway, perhaps I'm an elitest or something, but I very strongly believe that there are enough old beautiful names and spellings already in existence that making more new "spellings" is unnecessary. If the handful of traditional spellings really aren't doing it for you, why not check how other languages spell it and see if any of those work for you.

(grumble, grumble)

You get the idea.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Little GoPro Amazingness/Scariness

I've had lots of wordy updaty blogs lately. Time for some entertainment.

(GoPro: Backflip Over 72ft Canyon - Kelly McGarry Red Bull Rampage 2013)

And in case this link/embedding should disappear, this is a GoPro video of Kelly McGarry at the Red Bull Ramp doing back flips over a 72 foot canyon. Crazy.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Car Trouble?

This past week was a rather exciting car week for Brandon.

Last Monday (the 14th) as I did yard work outside after work (without my phone), at approximately 6:00 Brandon came outside from work and realized his car was no longer in the parking lot. His monitored work parking lot. Gone completely. After he called the police and they worked through most of the details of the stolen car report, he tried to get a hold of me via a coworker's phone (his is currently needing to be replaced) and even stopped by our gym to see if I were there, but his coworker eventually just took him home. I, oblivious to all of this, got all the text message and phone calls at around 7:00 and proceeded to call Clint (the coworker) and he let me know that he'd just dropped Brandon off. In sort of a rush I hurried over to Brandon's to see what the latest was and if there was anything I could do. Brandon was finishing the police report and finishing up some other details and we decided to go out for pizza since neither of us had eaten.

Tuesday and Wednesday we carpooled to work via my car since his work is sort of on the way to mine. I'll admit that I was actually just a little sad when his insurance company provided him with a rental vehicle Wednesday afternoon. Happy that he'd get to drive around wherever/whenever he needed to, but sad that our morning/afternoon drives were once again separate.

With the rental car, the rest of the week passed without too much notice.

Yesterday evening, however, around 10:30, Brandon sent me a quick message online saying they'd found his car. It actually wasn't too far from where he worked, only about three miles driving. It was tucked away in a little neighborhood and when the police asked, the local neighbors said that it had been there for at least two days.

When we got there, Brandon opened it with his key and there was still a shaved key in the ignition from whoever had stolen it. He hadn't had anything extremely valuable in his car, but several items (ski boots, work bag, sleeping bag, etc.) were taken. The police office who was there waiting for us explained that there was too much dust for them to dust for prints. Most interesting was that the glove compartment looked like it had exploded onto the passengers seat. I'm not sure whether the person who stole it was looking for money or personal information, but they looked through everything, including flipping through the owners manual.

All very interesting.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Gunpowder Plot Punch

This is a recipe which I'm not really sure where to put where I can make sure to keep track of it, so I'm putting it here. I'm hosting a little Guy Fawkes Day party in November and I've been scanning the web a little today looking for interesting things to make for it. This one sounded a lot like wassail (sp?) but with some minor differences, so I'm saying it's a go.

Gunpowder Plot Punch 
A warming drink perfect for a bonfire party when you are out in the cold. 
1.5 litres/2½ pints ginger ale/ginger beer
750ml/1¼ pints orange juice
1 large lemon, juice and zest
2 oranges, juice and zest
4 cinnamon sticks
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
12 cloves
5 star anise
2.5cm/1in fresh ginger, grated  
In a large pan gently heat the ginger ale and orange juice. Add all the other ingredients. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and leave for a few minutes to allow the flavors to infuse. Serve.

Should be delicious!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Recap From This Week

Things have been busy, but not super-interesting busy, so I haven't had much to add for the past few days. But here are a few of the highlights.

On Monday my dad had a brief layover in Salt Lake which left us just enough time to go grab some dinner (pho!) and then swing by my house before taking him back to the airport. Brief, but good.

Tuesday Brandon and I went and saw Gravity at the Gateway. Based on a recommendation from Kyle via my dad to see it in 3D (not to mention that all the regular movie slots were in 3D and we were trying to get Brandon home by 9:00 for a Skype call to plan their Vietnam trip), we decided to go for that. Oddly, when we arrived to purchase tickets, the person who helped us gave us Cloudy tickets instead of Gravity tickets. We didn't notice this until the guy taking tickets informed us of that fact, though he said we shouldn't have a problem with seats. It's always a little uncomfortable knowing you might need to move seats (European trains, anybody?), but we ended up being fine. We brought in some Cafe Rio to eat because we didn't have time to eat beforehand. Lots of odd/unusual details. But the movie itself was fantastic. I definitely recommend it. 3D helped to add some cool depth to (since it is mostly set in space), but I don't think I would have minded seeing it in 2D. I just hate wearing the glasses and they always tend to darken the entire picture.

Wednesday Brandon and I finalized getting a membership at a local gym and we made our first trip, enjoying the cardio theater (imagine a dark theater room with a big screen, but cardio equipment instead of seats) as well as the hot tub and sauna. I've been twice since then, mostly to sit in the cardio theater and ride on a stationary bike. Just a few more weeks before I can run again.

I meant to do some yard work on Thursday but we've had a ridiculous amount of rain lately. Cross your fingers that today will be dry so I can mow the lawn later....

A friend from Cincinnati (Laura!) came to visit this weekend. She came for another friend's wedding which was on Saturday, but we got to enjoy some time together to talk and catch up on Friday and Sunday. It was really good to see her. And Brandon's dad, Duane was up for part of Friday and Saturday and treated us to a delicious Thai dinner at Sawadee. I cleared any doubts I might have had at Sawadee having the best Pad See Ewe I've tried.

Brandon and I finally made it back to West Coast Swing after a two month break! It was fun to try and remember all the things we've grown rusty at. And then Sunday the three of us (Brandon, me, and Laura) shared a delicious Pumpkin French Toast breakfast along with some Berry Kiwi Colada tea and pomegranate seeds. Yum!

Nothing wild or picturesque to report, but lots of good things.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Why don't I swear?

I've had brief stints here and there where I've been more relaxed with my language and have taken up various profanities. These stints have, as described, always been very brief.

Studying language, my claims of what were linguistically right and wrong changed drastically after increased exposure to the wide variety of accents, dialects, and basic word choice. I may drink milk and you may drink something more similar to melk, but I understand what you're talking about. Communication still occurs.

Where profanity is concerned, I think we, as a society, self determine what words we consider to be swear words. Or at least we give them more power as words. I think, to some extent, the more we just ignored them and didn't worry about them, the less we'd notice them at all. They might become more common and unobserved, but in taking away their attention, we'd also remove much of their power.

But here's the thing. The reason I don't swear, in general, has more to do with my love of language than it does with my discomfort with certain words. You can watch a handful of movies and there will be an F-bomb or two at least in two thirds of these. Often unnecessarily. And F-bombs are, to some extent, the softer choices for language. There are "worse" words. I honestly don't have a problem with most language in movies, unless it becomes so excessive that it starts to heavily distract from the rest of the movie. In fact, in storytelling, the occasionally well placed "hell" or "damn" can have an incredible effect. Although, in most movies (like the one F-bomb in Lincoln?) it does usually seem pretty unnecessary. I'm not really sure why they add it as part of the story at all.

One of my favorite movies to come out in the last several years is, "The King's Speech." This movie was originally debuted at a rated R level, due only to one small scene of great profanity. The profanity was part of the story, demonstrating that the King's stutter was all but absent in his moments of anger. Anyway, that scene really didn't bother me, but when they softened the scene and made it rated PG-13, I didn't really mind that either. There needed to be some excess to get the point across, but they were able to make it slightly more mild without taking away from the story. That would be a moment where I think profanity was somewhat necessary to the plot, but I can't think of any other film or movie where it was quite as important.

But, back to me and swearing. The reason I don't swear is because I already have enough trouble trying to put thoughts into words with the plethora of words on the tip of my tongue without dumbing my language down to a handful of expressive words. I firmly believe that my odd phrases and expressive nature (I'm a hand talker) do so much more to express what I wish to than any four letter word could. And I like it that way.

When I've spent time in the company of those whose language usually has an F-bomb every three words or so, it honestly gets boring and monotonous for me. The content of their mind is....cheapened by their lack of ability to articulate. Not because they are unable to articulate, as some people aren't, but because they choose to use that small handful of words to describe everything. It's like taking all the vibrant tones, shades, and hues of the rainbow and turning them into a simple gray scale. At first the contrast between the dark and light will be interesting, but after awhile, it's all kind of boring.

So, don't get me wrong, if you like to throw the occasionally profanity in there, it won't bother me at all. It's more than fine with me (although, if there are children around, I might think it is in bad taste). But if it starts to become the majority of the words coming out of your mouth, don't be surprised if I don't choose to frequent your company.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Trying to Stay Neutral

August of 2012 I posted this on facebook:

Happy Facebook People!  
There has been an unusually increased amount of drama lately on facebook due to the upcoming elections in the States! A friendly, loving reminder to my friends and family on here that neither politics nor religion are good topics for facebook. There are thousands of other sites and spaces to discuss and debate such things both in the company of people you agree with and people you disagree with. Even on facebook, there are groups that cater to the support and discussion of various religious/non-religious and political affiliations. There is no faster way to alienate your friends and family who have slightly or very different beliefs from you than to share something on facebook that either hurts them or they strongly disagree with.  
That being said, you are at liberty to write or post whatever you wish to (just about) on facebook. Aside from the facebook moderators, no one can stop you! A reminder that anything you post is fair game to be commented on, as facebook is an open forum to your facebook friends, built to facilitate exactly that kind of interaction and communication. If you don’t want to have a conversation about something you post, don’t post it! Or, post it on one of the many other sites that are built for sharing but not for commenting. Or, join a group on facebook that caters to your specific interest and post it there! I recommend blogging.  
As for me and my facebook, I will unhappily delete you as a facebook friend if you post something that I find to be hurtful towards me or others (I make an exception here for family, but dear family, it is all but guaranteed that I don’t see you in my feed at all if you post political or religious things!). There is no ill will meant towards you if I delete you, simply a wish for myself to enjoy my facebook experience a little bit more minus the political and religious contention.  
With that in mind, I do think it is important for you to care and be proactive about the things you believe in, whether they be political, religious, or other in nature! If you truly care about something, do something about it. In the case of politics and religion, something other than posting on facebook.

While I think most of that is still wonderfully applicable, as I've been thinking about it the last few days, I think it might be lacking just a little bit of the nuance that goes with the topic.

For me, I try very hard to post pretty neutral things. I love facebook for the ability it gives me to follow the lives of my family and friends in some visual detail aside from the other methods I have of keeping in touch with them. And I use it primarily as a place to share pictures and little details as they happen. I use this blog to fill in many of the details and other things like Instagram and Twitter to occasionally fill in some of the other details. And for more private things, I resort to journals and things of those nature. I don't have a problem discussing most things with people face to face when those topics are addressed, but where facebook and my more public social outlets are concerned, I try to remain sociable, to better facilitate keeping my friendships amiable.

To put it more plainly, I value the friendship of those I am closest to more than I value the ability to say whatever I want here or on facebook. If I really want to post my political and religious thoughts, I can make another blog that is specific to them, or find one of the many websites devoted to such discourse. But here, I want to share the basic things that are going on. I want it to be a comfortable space for all of my loved ones. And where I do still occasionally post religious and/or political related stuff, even those posts are still pretty neutral. Never judgmental, never attacking, never extreme. In fact, most of my most extreme posts are grammar related. ;) Occasional lash back is, of course, expected there.

Do whatever works for you. Just keep in mind that when you make posts that are aggressive and slightly abusive of something you don't agree with, even if you think what you're saying is true, you might be driving a wedge between yourself and someone who loves you. You can blame the other person for being offended, but it is your unnecessary and unproductive action that is the root of the problem. The same can be said for religious and political posts of a more positive note. Be at all excessive in the frequency of such posts and you may unintentionally drive people away from your site/page. It's a balance. In my opinion, it is better, at least on facebook, to stick with the neutral and life-centered stuff. But that's just me. :)

(Note: Brandon and I were talking about this recently and he pointed out that sometimes because I'm trying so hard to neutral, I inadvertently water down my message. In other words, I'm so busy trying to be nice and not hurt anybody's feelings that I pull all of the passion from what I'm saying and end up sounding fairly weak-sauce. He is particularly familiar with this as he is most often privy to my more passionate frustrations at insignificant (or somewhat significant) details. There is a balance of being polite and firm. I probably err too much on the side of polite, but for now that will have to do.)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Nightmare of 13th: 2013

A few weeks ago Brandon and I had a conversation during which it was made known to him that I had never before been to a haunted house or forest of any sort. Based on this conversation, at the beginning of this week (and the start of October) Brandon asked if that would be something I'd be interested in doing. To which I, of course, responded to in the affirmative.

A little checking around and we had a party of six, ready to go! Wednesday after work we met up to grab some delicious pho (so good!) before heading up to Nightmare on 13th. I used to live quite close to this location and would drive by multiple times every day and notice it. But it was nice to finally be going in.

I'll admit that I didn't really know what to expect. You see those compilation pictures with people who look terrified out of their minds. Makes you think these places can be really scary. I should also admit that I'm not really one for gore or horror most of the time, at least not in film. Even very subtly scary movies are difficult for me to watch. And whenever they show anything gruesome, it feels burned into my memory forever. I rarely watch scary movies and feel happy with myself afterward. But my ok-not-ok meter is rather odd, as I can watch Pan's Labyrinth and love it and the watch The Orphanage and barely be able to handle it. So, knowing that I don't respond well to horror in film but that there are few things in real life that scare me, I wasn't sure how this would go.

Turns out, this is just my thing. Right from the beginning, as you are waiting in line to get in, there were one or two monsters that were wondering around. One super tall scarecrow and one mutant. The super tall scarecrow was pretty cool. He/she wandered around bothering people and at some point was slowly combing through the line of people waiting. As he/she got to us, she reached out her long straw fingers towards each of our faces in turn. I couldn't figure out what he/she was doing, but as something long and slender is coming towards your face, it is easy to be slightly concerned about your eyes. All he/she ended up doing was reach down to slightly tap each of us on the nose, which was actually quite amusing.

Finally in, we had the above pictures taken and then we were off into the maze of the building. It's the kind of thing where you know that there will be surprises, that things will leap out of you and drop on your head, and tickle your ankles. So you're constantly watching out for them. In some ways, the whole thing was kind of cheesy. You know, for the most part that no one can touch you, so if you just proceed slowly, there's little risk. With that knowledge in hand, it was easy for me to instead focus on the design of everything and consider how much fun (and work) it would be to build such a place. Some of my favorite parts included a trick with a mirror that made you feel like you were standing on a ledge overlooking a long drop, the spinning circle/tube with lights that made you question your orientation to the ground (and made all of us walk a little crooked for the next few minutes), and some of the interactions some of the people had with us. Every time some scary being would ask me a question, I, like myself, would respond quite literally. Those interactions were most amusing. I'm fairly certain that I went through the majority of the building with a huge grin on my face, enjoying all the details.

While this is something I would enjoy doing occasionally, the one downside to these sorts of places is that they are expensive! Almost all the ones we looked at were about $20 a person. With a coupon our entries were $15, but still, that's pricey. So it will have to be a once a year thing, or something like that. Maybe we'll have to make our own little haunted house some time, just for kicks. ;)

Good morning from Friday!

Where we had a bit of frost on the mountain a week or so again, we had something between a proper snow and a frost last night. Not the thick layer of snow that we'll get frequently come winter, but definitely snow. It reached just down to the base of the mountains where you could see all the house roofs topped in white. And driving to work, it was easy to identify who lived up in those houses.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by it, as we had hail yesterday and there was still a little leftover on my car this morning. I did a bit of yard work yesterday (mostly trimming the bush next to the driveway) and right in the middle the hail just appeared and started coming down. It seemed rather odd. But before too long (time for me to run in and get a few other things done), it was done and I was back at trimming.

Happy Friday, by the way!

Brandon and I are headed down to St. George this weekend. Get a little bit of a break from the weather up here and get to spend some time with his parents and sister. Sure to be fun!

I've had a few things buzzing around in my head, but one in particular that I wanted to write down before it got lost entirely.

This past Saturday I woke up and decided (given that it was my first Saturday in months where I've had no morning obligations to run or whatever) to do some yard work. I picked up all the apples I could find and got started on the sticks as well. Two of my three roommates were already gone for the day and as I was working, the third came out, chatted with me for a bit, and then left to go biking with her sister. About ten minutes after she'd left it rather suddenly occurred to me that she might have locked the door out of habit as she left! And she did! So there I was, bundled to work for several hours, but already a good hour or so into it. I didn't need to go in right away, but I'd definitely need to get in at some point. I didn't have my phone, but worst case scenario I could walk over to Brandon's and ask him to call my roommates.

As I worked, however, I noticed that one of my roommates had left her window partially open. Granted, there was a screen in the window, but the window was still open. When I finally started to feel parched and in need of a break, I moved one of the two bookshelves that the previous occupant of my room had left out by the driveway, over under the window. Armed with a knife leftover from a cookout one of my roommates had for her students, I slowly wedged the metal brackets that keeps the screen in the window down until I could pop the screen out. With perhaps a little ware to the window itself. But I had the screen out, the window all the way open, and I was in! There's a certain thrill you get when you pull off something like that, even when you're breaking into your own house.

In the couple of days work since then, I feel like the yard is finally starting to feel like a usable yard, rather than a slightly overgrown jungle. A little more trimming, particularly with the ivy, and it will be the perfect place to host a Guy Fawkes day party or something. I'm still not sure that it's even legal to have open flame down here in the valley, but as we have a little stone oven, I think we'll improvise with that. Or perhaps we'll just head up into the mountains and have our fun there! We shall see!