Friday, December 02, 2011

My Week Without the 'Book - Day Three

Three whole days without checking Facebook. I'm setting all sorts of personal records. With the exception of my two-year hiatus and scout camps, I haven't ever voluntarily gone this long without being on the blasted site.

Now, I want everyone to know that I have absolutely nothing against the 'Book. A ton of people are way upset about the privacy issues and all that. I don't really mind. I guess I've just never been that paranoid of a fellow. If the CIA really wants to know what I'm up to they can find out. They'll figure out I really love Ultimate and that I make jokes about calculus being my girlfriend. Yeah, lots of terrorist activity there...

I made a new math friend tonight at my discrete math study session. I love math friends. I think one of the great things about studying math is that you get to meet a ton of good people. There aren't too many dirtbags who are way into the subject, you know? Whether it's pure math, math education, computational, whatever, there tends to be a large number of good folks involved in it. I've been way happy with the quality of the people that I associate with in my classes.

I've been recognizing more and more lately that one of the reasons that life is so good is because I'm surrounded by truly great people. Today was my day to do dishes in the apartment. We have some visitors staying for a few days and for whatever reason we had roughly two metric tons of dishes in the sink. Two of my roommates helped me out with it, just because they're good guys. I hear about people that have struggles with their roommates or who get shafted by people in their family or whatever. I haven't ever really experienced that stuff. I'm not sure why I've always been surrounded with great people, but I'm grateful that it has happened that way. I hope that it continues to go that way.

It's getting late and I don't have too much to say, so I am going to peace out. I hope that life is going well for you all. I'm happy to be staying strong on this whole no Facebook thing. Looking forward to rejoining the world next Monday though.

Oh, PS, cool junk I read today instead of spending time on the 'Book. Have you ever wondered what fire would be like in a microgravity situation? Like, what would happen if we lit something on fire in the International Space Station? Since there is no gravity, would the flames go up, or would they go out radially? Sure, the heat radiation would go out in all directions, but without gravity messing with the density of air and all that business, what does convection do to it? Yeah, apparently NASA has been thinking about that question for a while now. I read an entirely insufficient article about it today with an entirely insufficient video to go along with it. I didn't learn much, but the questions it presented were way cool. For your viewing pleasure:

Thursday, December 01, 2011

My Week Without the 'Book - Day Two

What's this, a post before 2:00 AM? I know- I'm as surprised as you are. With my Facebook fast in full swing I am running out of non-time-committal distractions. Let's face it, I waste a lot of time. I recognize that fact. Despite the recognition, however, I have a really hard time committing time to something. I struggle to watch full movies because two hours just seems like way too long of a time to waste. I have a much easier time sitting down at my computer to "read the news" or "check Facebook" for just a few minutes. Those just a few minutes can graduate into two hours in no time. I end up wasting the same amount of time I would have spent watching a movie, just without the aversion to a time commitment.

Moral of the story? Facebook is one of my favorite time wasters that doesn't require a huge time commitment up front. With that out of the picture I'm being forced to commit my time to bigger and bigger chunks. Normally something as cool as a blog post would have to wait till late in the evening when most distractions are gone and I am more focused. Since I shot Facebook for the week my main distraction is gone and so I'm moving forward with life. Rejoice!

Since I can't share anything via facebook today, I shall share a decent link with you today. I read the news habitually. I love google news because it aggregates what it assumes will be relevant to me and I get to pick what I want to read from about a billion different news sources. It's a good tool.

I've been pretty fascinated with the occupy movements. Everybody and their dog has an opinion about the movement. I've found it's a little more complicated than a bunch of weirdo's in tents- although in all honesty that is probably the most characteristic thing we could say about the group. I admire what they are doing and the awareness that they are raising. Whether or not I agree with all of their ideas, I do find their way of doing things both scary and respectable. I give them a million bonus points for trying.

I read a good article from the LA Times today regarding the movement. It is an opinion article, but the author states 3 inconvenient truths for the movement. I particularly like his third point, in which he explains his view of one of the reasons for the widening gap between the fabled 1% and the 99%. He says:

A third dynamic widening income disparities is in some ways the most inconvenient of all: the collapse of intact families. The explosion of out-of-wedlock births and of children living outside of two-parent households has widened economic disparities of all kinds, including income.

The reason is straightforward. The role that human and social capital plays in helping a person generate income in an advanced economy has increased over the last half a century. And over that same time, the primary institution for inculcating human and social capital has badly weakened.

I suggest you read the whole article (it is pretty short) at,0,7958755.story

The basic concept is a strong one- a strong family will probably give a kid a better shot at a decent economic future than a family without parental presence. Don't get me wrong- I'm in no way an expert and I definitely know that all people, no matter what their circumstances, can do awesome in school and economically. I will say that one of the reasons I was able to do well in public education was because I had a great family that was able to help teach me and walk me through work. I don't think I'd have done as well at school (which is the closest thing I have to economics right now) without the family. How do we fix the problem? I don't have the answers: but I think families are the start. Glad to see a newspaper guy agrees with me.

Much love, y'all have a nice night.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Week Without the 'Book - Life Graphs

I am a grapher. I love graphing different things in my life to help me understand what is going on and what I should do about it. Graphs are super cool because you can explain the relationship between any number of things in the blink of an eye. There's a depth of understanding that comes from a graph. You know what's happening now, what happened a minute ago, and you certainly know what will happen as time approaches infinity.

I want to write about something I've been thinking about that I'm calling life graphs. A life graph is a Radar Chart or Star Plot. The idea is pretty easy- you put five lines (or howev
er many you want, you know, like n) coming out from the center. Each line represents something important that you can assign a value to. I know for a fact that Dance Dance Revolution once used a radar chart called a "Groove Radar" to show you how difficult a song was. Pokemon (at least in one of the guides) used to show how good a pokemon was using radar charts. Following their good lead, let's think about humans instead of Polywraths.

Consider a life graph with 5 axes (that's axises for those of you from central and southern Utah...) that represent five important aspects of life- school, work, family, spiritual stuff, social stuff. Depending on how you rate yourself on those things, we can make a sweet radar graph. Check it out.

So our friend Pablo has got the social stuff down- but he's lacking in other categories. The life graph is fun for looking at strengths and weaknesses and opportunities for improvement.

One of the cool things about radar graphs is that their area does not increase linearly- it goes up as a square. A graph of [1,1, 1, 1, 1] has one quarter the area of a [2, 2, 2, 2, 2] graph. Moral of the story? If we take total graph area to represent satisfaction with life, a small improvement in one area can lead to a disproportionately large increase in area and happiness. Theoretically, of course.

An important thing to note is that these axes (axises...) are completely arbitrary. This is just an idea, so we could toss any ridiculous axes in there we want. We could have a 7-spoked graph or a 12-spoked graph. I suppose that deep down, as humans, we have certain things that are truly important to us, whether we recognize it or not. Perhaps there is an official life graph inside of us that we don't fully recognize. Maybe we should find out what its axes are.

An important thing to note is that the relative values on the axes are not necessarily weighted the same between different axes. A score of 20 on my "Starcraft II l33t skillz" axis probably isn't worth as much as a 20 on my "school" axis. Visually, this means that each one unit in my SCII axis doesn't move me as far away from the origin as every one unit does in my school axis.

I've been feeling lately that life is about balance. Our life graphs are constantly fluctuating. A month and a half ago my school axis was dominating and my social axis was pretty shallow. These days my social axis is doing much better- but possibly at the expense of school. I find that it is very difficult to dominate at all things at once. In the words of a wiser man, life exists in both abundance and scarcity at the same time. My goal right now is to balance and therefore increase area.

Spencer had a great application. He suggested a "wife graph" instead of a "life graph". The current idea is a 4-spoked graph that quickly evaluates any marriage candidate based on our ridiculous ideas. We think it'd be nice if these graphs were displayed automatically when girls walked into the room. Maybe we'll program an app for that...

Consider the following examples:

"Maria" (a fictional character) is lacking a brain- which is a total shame. See, aren't graphs fun?

Girl Y (also fictional) has balance. See, I told you graphs were fun.

We could go on and on, but we probably shouldn't. What is the moral of the story? Why have you read this far? Because graphs are cool and can be used to understand ourselves and others. I understand that this is a complete oversimplification of the whole system, but it is the idea that counts. These things are not that stable.

Here's the optional homework for willing candidates.

1) Make your own life graph. Figure out how many axes you want, figure out what you want those axes to be, and then evaluate yourself on them. I've had fun evaluating things between 0 and 6, but you can use whatever scale you want. After you do that, take a look at what you want to work on and make a goal to do so. Balance is important, but remember that that doesn't mean backing down on your high scores- it just means bringing your low scores up. A change from a 2 to a 3 is pretty significant. This brings up some significant questions that we can address. What are the axes that are important to me? What is truly going to give me satisfaction with life? Where are am I doing well? Where do I need to improve? What do I need to do to improve in that area? A quote from the guys I don't know talking in my living room right now: "I'd rather be decent at socializing than fantastic at hoops" (I'm assuming he's referring to basketball). I know people that would disagree. We define our own graphs here based on our priorities.

2) Make your ideal wife graph (or dude graph, you know, if that's what you're into). Here's the only catch: You get as many axes as you want (which you can define yourselves) and you only get to use 50% of the available points. So, if you label each axis from zero to six and have four axes there would be a total of 24 points available. In that case you only get to use 12. The reason? Priorities :) One trillion bonus points to anyone who wants to share their graphs- whether anonymous or publicly.

Thanks for reading this post that has been altogether too long and way different than normal. I love the idea of the life graph, and have had a blast explaining it to my roommates using our whiteboard as a fridge today. Just imagine this post except a million times shorter and with moving dynamic pictures instead of jpgs. Yeah, it was that good. I hope you're all doing well. Have a great night!

My Week Without the 'Book - Day One

Happy Tuesday friends- it has been a good day. I made a decision over the Thanksgiving break that I would go one week without using Facebook. I did it mostly because I find myself wasting a lot of time on it and because I thought it would make for a good experiment. It's surprising how many times I check that blasted site per day. The only reason I know that now is because I've had to stop myself from checking it exactly that many times in the past 24 hours. I don't have an exact number, but I know that it is large.

So, here I am, writing in order to satisfy whatever strange desire I have for social interaction via my keyboard.

In a previous comment, "Johnson" asked if I had gotten my [Talk to a random girl on campus without mentioning the weather] achievement that I established during my week of the blue T-shirt. I'm proud to report that today, strictly because of that comment, I did so. I talked to a girl named Krista on the hill. She is nice. We had a good talk and I purposely didn't mention the weather. We got to a point where she was turning left. I had the choice to go left or straight- either way my distance was the same. I was enjoying talking to her but knew that if it went on much longer the weather would probably come up in some shape or form, so I opted to travel the other direction just to be safe. Call me a pansy, but I'm sitting on 10 achievement points because of it. I'll take that over human interaction any day. Oh wait...

Life is going quite well. I decided to shamelessly promote my blog via the 'Book earlier this week and the response was pretty overwhelming. I'm a total Google Analytics fanboy and the numbers were a lot of fun to watch. I posted my shameless plug on Sunday, November 27th. That day I had 51 visits and a total of 116 pageviews (that's 2.274 pageviews per visit). As a reference, in the month previous to the 27th I averaged 5.6 visits per day with each visitor seeing an average of 1.6 pages. So, with one status update on the 'Book I had the best day the blog has ever had and surpassed my average by nine times. Sweet. I appreciate all the visits and especially the kind things that were said.

I had a job interview yesterday and I feel like it went really well. I've never had a job interview before, if you can believe that. I applied for a temporary position at the bookstore here at Utah State. I've always had a dream of working there. There is always a huge rush at the end of semester so they hire a ton of four week employees. I wore khakis Monday morning on a whim- ha, I felt cool walking into the interview like I had planned that. It was an interesting experience- I walked into this little office where there were three girls sitting behind one desk. They told me to close the door behind me and then they introduced themselves. They alternated asking questions from an evaluation sheet and jotted down notes and a numeric rating for answers that I gave.

I don't feel like I did awesome with the answers, but I figure it went okay. I'll be honest- I absolutely love tests and this whole experience was a lot like a test. It might as well have been 13 "short answer" questions. I didn't have a ton of time to think of killer answers, but I did my best. I should know tomorrow or Thursday whether or not I got the job. I sure hope I get it.

There are only three weeks left of school and I'm working hard to leave this semester with a very competitive GPA. I find it interesting that my lowest grades throughout my scholastic career have always been in math classes. With the exception of a B+ in a physics class, my transcript is all A's except for my math classes. In fact, I haven't gotten an A in any math class up here at Utah State (A-'s don't count). So, funny that I'm here as a math major even though that's the most challenging thing I've done scholastically.

Great news on the math front. My stallion of a math professor, Dr. Brown, is teaching a course next semester on computational complexity. It's a readings course (by invite only, I think), but I really want to see what I can do to get invited. The course lives right between computer science and mathematics. The idea is to look at how mathematically complex the algorithms to solve certain problems are and see what can be done to make them less complex. Since I'm dualing in math and computer science that course is exactly where I want to be. Taking it would leave me sitting on 18 credits and a nasty workload, but I really want to try it. Opportunities are cool.

Alright, I'm out of here. I hope y'all have a great day. Don't forget symmetric matrices.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Best of TheOtherDentist

Happy Friday, friends. I hope that you're all doing great. Life here is good. Great things are happening for me and my family. We've really been overwhelmed with the goodness of the people that surround us. People take their lives and their decisions seriously, and I love it. We're all in this together (cue James and Levi to start singing High School Musical...).

This blog has meant many things to me over the years. As it becomes large and unwieldy (I will hit my 500th post in no time) I have decided to post a "Best of TheOtherDentist" guide to help new visitors get a feel for what it has all been about. I've been rambling here since the 9th grade. What started out as an assignment for my Journalism class has turned into something that has helped me better understand myself and, hopefully, make the world a little better place.

The unwritten goal of this blog has always been that: to make the world a better place. My theory on world-benefiting is different from most. Given that I am in the world, my improvement means that the world improves. Since you, loyal reader, are in the world, your improvement or benefit causes a net improvement or benefit to the whole. Sometimes that improvement comes by way of motivation or encouragement. More often, I think, it comes by way of a little smile or sunshine. I hope the blog has done that over the years.

Without further delay, my very own "Best of TheOtherDentist" list. This is not comprehensive and I don't intend for it to actually mean that this is the best. This is just a good place to start.

Posts With Meaning:

Freshman year of college- I went to a party where there was a girl I really really really really liked. I pretty much knew she liked me, but didn't do anything about it. Frustrated at this situation and recognizing that many of my comrades (yes, I did just use "comrades") were in the same boat, I wrote this post to complain.

We like our girls cute, modest, intelligent, and ninety meters away where we can't do anything stupid. We'd step in front of a bullet for them, yes we would, but when it comes to saying "hi" in the mornings we'll kindly pass, thank you very much. That bullet starts to sound mighty appetizing when it's time to graduate from texting to real phone calls, I'll tell you what.

We are a noble class of gentlemen. We get good grades. We do our duty. We tie our ties well. We've never ever offended you, your sisters, your friends, or your mom. We have no criminal record. We have clean language, and you better believe that we drive safely.
This is our anthem. Too good to settle for the easy ones, too stupid to go for the right ones, and too cowardly to go for our dreams. We are sandpaper, and proud of it.
Freshman year of college- I include this post not because I feel like it is my best writing, but because it effectively captures two of the major themes of my blog. First: I love Ultimate and get way too into it. Second (and more importantly): The way that I feel on Thursday is not the same way that I felt on Wednesday. The person that I am on Thursday owes something to the person I was on Wednesday, and ought to respect the way that I felt and decisions that I made. I hope that makes sense.

This particular post was written as we prepared to go play some kids from Murray high in Ultimate. They had been talking trash against Taylorsville and we desperately wanted to put them in their places. The match never took place. I didn't know that was going to happen when I wrote this post.

In 13 hours I'm going to start a match that I've been waiting a very long time to play. Brad's going to start a match that he wanted to play in high school but never got the chance to play. This isn't just a match for right now.

This match, like so many other things in my life, counts as a monument to the person that I've been. That person who helped put me where I am today. This match is more for him than it is for me. I know that sounds so corny and stupid, but it's sort of true.
Freshman year of college- I was really working on figuring out who I was my freshman year. I had come off of a very successful high school situation and was suddenly a very small fish in a very big pond. I learned a lot of important life lessons during this time. In an attempt to capture what I was learning I did a blogaday project where I posted every night for a month. This was day nineteen, and it was important to me.

But tonight I realized what it is that I actually fear. The thing that legitimately has me worried.

I'm afraid that I'm going to change. I'm afraid that even though I've been on fire before, I'm not going to be on fire anymore. I'm afraid that even though I used to be a runner that I'll never be a runner again.

Post-Senior year of High School- Probably the longest post I will put on this list. This post happened the same way most of my posts do- I started writing one night because I felt the need to write. I didn't have anything to say, but wrote what came to me, all stream of consciousness-like. Lots of religious undertones in this one. Pretty important ideas in this one.
Another reason that it happens is because of a dual weakness/strength that I have. My life is a sine graph. I realize that most teenagers believe that their life is a roller coaster. The math nerd inside of me knows that it's a sine graph. It's not exactly periodic, but it does *always* come back up (or down, depending on frame of reference).

11:41: "Why are things the way they are? Why, because if they were any other way, we would be asking ourselves why they are the way that they are, totally ignorant of the fact that things aren't the way that they are in the world where they're not different."
Senior Year of High School- This was my formalized theory for how relationships work as described by me right before I graduated. For better or for worse, I still pretty much feel this same way. I was on a personal finance kick and on a relationship kick, so here goes.

We've come up with the idea of investments, that is, long term investments and short term investments. We see a guy running up to a girl and giving her a hug (a la P Burn) to be a short term investment. It carries fairly high risk, but it is almost immediately either rewarding or disappointing. Its long term effects are not incredibly extensive. We classify short term investments as bold actions by a guy to get a girl's attention for at least a brief amount of time. These are very active investments.

On the other hand are long term investments. Me, Kyle, and James all see ourselves as long term-investors. Long term investments are actions taken by guys that will not immediately result in any significant recognition from a girl, but will, over time, improve our standing with them.

Creative Writing, Videos, Art, etc.:

Freshman year of college- I wrote this on a whim to make light of my brother's attempt to woo a girl that wasn't very talkative. I include it in this post because it's representative of my style at the time.

" She hadn't said it. But she hadn't argued with it either. He knew that this line of dealing with her couldn't end well. But he was desperate. Our hero had a gnawing paper-cut wound, after all.

With a happy heart he whisked her off to Chili's where they dined and enjoyed themselves. Our hero happily noted that he was one step closer to following the council of his priesthood leaders to “Get married! Now! Don't wait!”
*as a note, please don't assume I take any of my creative writing seriously. I am not one of those people.

Junior Year of High School - This isn't actually a post, it's a small "painting" I made in MS Paint. I include it because it's one of the very few artistic things I've done on my own. Word!

Junior Year of High School - Our friend Molly made a "Boy of the Week" program that she announced on her blog. I decided to officially endorse my friend Kyle as a candidate, and wrote a blog post explaining why. In this post I take almost nothing seriously and have a great time thinking of ridiculous stories. In all fairness, I must say that everything in the post is based loosely on truth.

As you know, Molly recently began taking suggestions for her "Boy of the Week" program. While I myself do not have a Boy-of-the-week program, I can see it's merit. It's not my style, but that's alright.

I have a suggestion to make for your boy of the week program, and his name is Kyle.

There are many reasons that one should consider liking Kyle Klein for a week or more. Aside from his towering stature and his rugged good looks, Kyle has a plethora of ninja-skills to back up his impressive aura of good looks.

One time, when Kyle was surrounded by communists and about to be gunned down by an execution squad, he sang the entire pokemon theme song in japanese. The Communists were so impressed that they dropped their weapons and wept for joy. Kyle later grew wings and flew back to America.
Junior Year of High School - My final project for my Junior Year AP English Composition class. We had to make a documentary. I noticed that most documentaries that I saw in class offered bold claims without any significant evidence or backing. I set forth to prove a satirical point about the need for scientific evidence. I credit Mr. Harward for teaching me some awesome stuff about literature that made this video tons of fun.

This is where I'd put a quote from the post. I can't quote an embedded youtube video. I highly reccomend you check this one out. You'll like it, I promise.
Junior Year of High School - So, I gave my sister a stapler submerged in Jello for her birthday, a la 'The Office'. I took pictures. You should look at them because they are neat.

Fun Posts:

Early Sophomore Year of High School- This was one of my first posts about Ultimate. You can tell I was young because I still referred to it as "Frisbee" and not as Ultimate. My mechanics weren't as good back in the day. I wrote about the most epic game I had ever played. Those were back in the days when Brad was still in charge of Frisbee Friday- before I became the leader and really started making things happen. This was before Kyle or Levi or James or any of my buddies started playing with us. This was back in the day when I was still the "young generation". Ha, it's great to read back and remember what it was like. Not my best writing, but definitely worth it for the walk down memory lane.

At 13-13, play starts to get fierce. It brings out the very best and worst of all the players on the field. When you make a good play, you know it, and your heart goes wild. When you screw up, it's one of the very worst feelings you've ever had. You've invested so much into the game, it hurts to lose it. Your legs hurt, your hands are getting hashed from catching, swatting, and throwing. Your lung hurt from the cold air, your breath comes out hard and short, and very frosty. But you know why you're in the game, and you know that you want to win. You put everything out there. This is when Frisbee gets real.
Right before Senior Year of High School - I had to cover for my mom at work one day, and kept a written journal (with time stamps) of important things that happened. Tons of fun.

10:12 Am - A guy with a hat that says "Terminator just walked by... gasp! A lady just walked in mid write, and is like "Do you sell only girls?" and I'm like "As far as I know... wait! There's a tuxedo over there, in white!" then she left. 2 more customers. Woman and man. Man wants to be here as much as I do. Deep breaths. Oooh, another good song. They're gonna buy something. Deep breaths.
Sophomore Year of High School - I had to include one post about track. My woes in the 3200 meter race are fully documented. This is a shorter post, rejoice!

How could I lose? The establishment was on my side.

Yeah, they lied to me. I got slaughtered. These robot boys just kept on running. I don't know how they did it. There was no mercy, they just went, and I didn't. They ran fast, but I was slow and steady.

Slow and steady doesn't win any races.

Ridiculously fast and steady, now that's where the money is at.

The Conclusion: I love my blog with a fiery passion. I have learned so much about myself as I have created it. I look through my old posts and want to include all of them. They capture who I really was and what I was really feeling at the time. I'm so glad it exists. I've realized that most of my posts are pretty similar. My style and rhythm remain the same.

This blog has always been fueled by the comments of its readers. It exists to serve the community. That means me and the great people that I've been associated with. I know that mos of my readers of yesteryear have moved on, but I'm very grateful that they were here for the ride. They gave me a reason to be good and do my best at life.

I want to continue to be me. This blog is a decent representation of who I am and where I've been. I want to live up to the hopes and dreams of the kid that wrote all these posts so long ago. How am I doing? There's a spirit of unconquerableness that always pervaded the things that I wrote back in the day. Do I still believe I'm capable of the excellence that I wrote about back in the day? I sure hope so. I can't forget who I want to be.

Thanks for reading, friends. Whether you're oldschool like Nickmo or Jaron or whether you're a new facebook-stalking friend from Germany, I hope that you find something here that will bring a smile to your face and help you make it through your day. Life is good. Much love, keep up the great work, friends.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Blast From the Past

Behold, our 9th grade Spanish project!

In 2005 me, Kyle, Levi, and James all had Spanish together in Señor Hortin's class. For one of our assignments we had to read a book, Caminos Peligrosos. Each group of four was assigned one chapter and told to make a multimedia presentation recapping the major points of the plot. The book itself was all sorts of fun. Apparently some people from Argentina (I think) went to the Yucatan peninsula to steal some artifacts in order to make ludicrous amounts of money back at home (they were probably in trouble with the mafia or something, I forget). They got to the peninsula, found the artifacts, but needed a special declaration/paper in order to get them through customs. Our story picks up when Maria Josefa (James) and Eduardo (Kyle) are trying to hassle Alonso (myself) into giving him the paper. Later we see them flee the scene of the crime and then evade police by pretending to be lovers. One million bonus points are awarded to James for being willing to play a girl and hug Kyle in a video that would eventually make it to youtube (not sure he ever saw that coming...)

Filming, audio, editing, and publishing all happened after school at my place the day before the project was due. We had initially planned to do it with video but were unable to find my brothers video camera. We improvised by taking stills with a digital camera and then recording the audio separately on my computer. Best part? Check out the picture at 2:09, you know, the one with Levi in the sweet Jazz Band jacket from T-ville. Yeah, check out the lower right hand corner. You can see the camera charging on the desk behind him.... Not sure how we missed that the first time.

The whole production was pretty rudimentary, but not too shabby for a project in 9th grade under the gun. Señor Hortin, who always tried to be a tough guy, was laughing his head off. He even took the disc down the hall to our good friend Ms. Peck and showed it to her because he knew she'd get a kick out of it too. We were approached by a lot* of agents telling us they wanted to take our film to Sundance, but we decided against it so we could focus our time on the nerd team instead. *that didn't actually happen.

There's nothing I love more than exceeding expectations. Looking back on it this project really isn't that impressive, but at the time we thought it was the coolest thing ever. There's a great feeling that comes with producing something that is good. A feeling of pride comes with it. There's an additional sense of satisfaction that comes when you can make others laugh and feel good with you. Step by tiny little step, we're going around making the world a little better of a place. For what it's worth, we made our Spanish teacher have a little bit better of a day that day. After all he did for us, we're glad we could help just a tiny bit. We're going to keep trying to make the world better. Much love y'all.

Friday, November 04, 2011


If this were Quake or Counter-Strike tonight would be the night we'd hear the announcer yell "First Blood!". Since this isn't a video game, we'll just have to be content with a picture of the parking lot. It begins!

The Week of the Blue T-Shirt: Wrap-up

Howdy friends, welcome back.

So, my father passed away last week. It wasn't too unexpected and we are very happy that he didn't have to suffer too much. He was an incredible man and I'm so proud of the person he was and the way he lived his life. I'm at peace knowing he's feeling better now and that he's doing good work. I will miss him. I hope to be the kind of man that he was.

Because of that, the week of the blue T-shirt was cut short, and I think I'm going to let it lie like that. I wanted to come back and review some of the highlights before I moved on to some other cool posts.

I had a blast with the Week of the Blue T-shirt. I had been writing myself to-do lists for a long time with varied success, but this was a completely different experience. Instead of focusing on things I had to do in order to not fail school, I was focusing on little things I could do to improve myself and raise my over-all level of happiness. This change was pretty significant for me.

I discovered that being social is something that makes me really happy despite being entirely unnatural for me. Without considerable effort on my part I tend to keep to myself on campus and everywhere else. One of the first goals I set was the goal to talk to a new girl on campus every day. This was a huge stretch for me but really paid off. I was proud of myself for doing something difficult for me. As with all things, I get better at it as I keep doing it, and I've already seen progress. It's becoming more normal for me. Today I talked to three girls on campus. I know that sounds entirely lame, but it's a big old deal for me. If this experiment were good for nothing else, that alone would have made it worth it for me.

I rediscovered the simple truth that working out makes me feel better. There's this inherent feeling of progress whenever I work out. I've got this theory that every mile counts. When it is cross country time, as the theory goes, the kid that runs 1000 miles during the summer is going to have an edge on the kid that only ran 999. Likewise, the kid that runs 1001 has an edge on the kid that only ran the 1000. Even though I haven't been very consistent and even though my workout program is anything but awesome, I feel great about making progress. I'll tell you that my abs, arms, and mile time feel better this week about themselves because of what I did last week. I can't guarantee that there is any measurable improvement over last week, but I am confident that deep down inside I'm stronger for having done those little things. The good news is that as I continue to do these little things I will continue to improve. Baby steps back into good shape, w00t.

I rediscovered that I absolutely love blogging and I love trying to influence others to do good stuff. Consistency has always been my issue. True to form, I wasn't able to complete the week like I wanted to, but I feel like the blogging experience made me a better person and gave a little nudge to other people. This is something I'd like to continue to do.

So what's the take-home message from the week? Certain choices lead to a happier me, and those choices are absolutely worth making. Most of them don't come naturally. Working out, talking to girls, programming, etc. aren't things that I just find myself doing. Every single time I did them last week they made me feel good and like I was making progress. If I can identify these things and continue to do them I will continue to improve. That's great news.

That's it for the Week of the Blue T-shirt. Thanks for being part of it, friends.

Final Score: 135/350 points (38.6% complete)
I'm calling it a success :) Stay tuned for more awesome posts.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Week of the Blue T-Shirt: Hiatus

Due to a family emergency I am putting the Week of the Blue T-shirt on hiatus. Thank you for your understanding. I hope you are all doing well. To assuage your fears: My family is doing great, don't you fret. God has a plan for all of us :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Week of the Blue T-Shirt: Day Three

Day Three is in the books. It wasn't what I expected but I feel like I made good choices that led to good results. Family business brought me and my brother home for the next two days, so points weren't as plentiful as I had planned. Here's the rundown:

Wednesday Recap: 35 Points (total: 135/350)
  • I left my place at 9:30 to head to class in the frigid tundra that was Logan this morning. I talked to the second girl I saw and we had a nice little conversation. Aside from the weather (which we of course talked about) we found out she knows some people I know. She's studying FCHD (I think...) and likes it. Good times. Goal for next ambitious week: talk to a girl without mentioning the weather. (+15 points for talking to a random girl on campus)
  • Despite falling asleep for a few minutes in four out of five classes today, I attended all of them and learned some stuff in each. I don't feel like I was an incredible student today, but at least I won't be publicly mocked for paying for classes that I didn't attend. (+10 points for class attendance)
  • Our impromptu adventure to Salt Lake led to less-than-normal workout conditions, but I was able to do 6-ish minutes of jump rope followed by the classic T-Ville Cross Country 10 Minute Abs. Of course, I took little breaks and it ended up being more like ex T-ville Cross Country washed up abs. Hey, baby steps back to great shape. (+10 points for working out today)
  • Noteworthy event, even though I don't get points for it: Walking home from campus today I decided I'd go out on a limb and talk to a second random girl today. I had already met my goal and awarded myself points, but shoot, what type of pansy quits after just talking to one girl? So, I struck up a conversation with a girl whose name starts with a 'K' from Oregon. Our conversation was a little bit like pulling teeth, but in an attempt to think of a great question I ask, "So, what's Oregon like" (Smooth, I know ;) ). So we talk a bit and then the guy in front of us is like, "Wait, are you from Oregon?" and she's like "Yeah, are you?" and he's like "Yeah! I'm from the dry east side!" and then they talked and had a great time. So get this: I, with my complete inability to talk to girls, helped another human being talk to a girl! One of my goals for this blog has always been to make the world a better place. Now, I'm telling y'all, this is pretty much the smallest case of making the world a better place ever, but I'm totally going to claim it. Those two never would have talked had I not attempted to be smooth and woo her first. If they have kids and one of them is an NFL star I'm definitely asking for 15% of his wages.
Day Three Impressions: I stay up a little later than normal in order to score extra points and create these posts. That leads to a little bit of sleepiness, but I feel like I'm gaining more from this project than I am losing so I'm going to keep at it. Yesterday, in order to meet my goal to program something every day, I did my CS assignment early. That ended up being way important because it allowed us to come down to Salt Lake without any problems today. I'll be honest, I feel like a champion this week. This achievement point thing is awesome.

Due to recent comments I feel obligated to tell you to not do drugs or drink alcohol. I do not, however, condone the wearing of red T-shirts this week. You saw the title folks, you know the drill.

I hope y'all are doing well. Have a good evening, I hope to see you tomorrow~

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Week of the Blue T-Shirt: Day Two

It's Tuesday night, and I'm calling it a day. I had an awesome day today and feel really well about how it went. It's getting pretty late so I need to hustle through this. Here's the recap:

Tuesday Recap: 55 points (total: 100/350)
  • I only had one class today, but you better believe I attended it. It was my CS lab and it went well. I had the privilege of listening to the girl (I know, there aren't too many of them in CS class) that sat on my row explain to the guy (who is clearly interested in her) about her current romantic situation. Freshmen are fun to listen to (read: I'm jealous that she has a romantic life and I don't) (+10 points for class attendance)
  • I had a great experience yesterday talking to a random girl on campus, so I hoped to have another good adventure today. By 8:50 PM I still hadn't talked to anyone new on campus and it was uber dark outside. Figuring that approaching a random girl and trying to get to know her at that hour would be a disaster, I instead talked with the nice man from Sri Lanka who was conveniently walking away from the engineering building at the same time I was. He's studying Mechanical Engineering, is from Sri Lanka, and was clearly not interested in talking to me. Success! [+10 points for talking to a random stranger on campus(I would have got +15 points if it was a girl...)]
  • I did a nifty little arm workout here at the apartment and then went on a mile-ish run around the cemetery. Arms feel great, and the run was really productive. It segued right into the miracle of the day- (+10 points for working out today)
  • The home teaching appointment tonight went great. Super good experience. They're a bunch of great guys and I've got a stallion of a companion. Good times. (+15 points for home teaching)
  • I programmed the solution to my CS assignment tonight. Pretty easy- a fun while loop that reads in high and low temperatures from a text file and then shoots out averages and whatnot. Look at me go, doing well at CS1. I'm still not convinced my cat would have a hard time with this class. (+10 points for programming something today)
Miracle of the day:
I had a home teaching appointment today and I hadn't yet met two of the guys in the apartment. I was particularly interested in one of them who hasn't been coming to church too actively. I had seen his picture in the ward directory (read: menu). About 3/4 of the way through with my run I was thinking to myself "I could really go for a break right now, and that'd give me a great excuse to talk to a random girl and score some achievement points...". Crossing the street, in perfect timing to meet me running, was not a beautiful girl. Instead it was the back of a person who looked exactly like what I assumed the back of this guy who I'm supposed to home teach would look like. We met (in perfect timing, like I said) and I'm like "Happy Tuesday, are you Santiago*?" *(names have been changed to protect the innocent). And he's like "Yeah, I think we've played Ultimate together once" (which in fact we had) So we got to walk and talk for a good four or five minutes. It was cool to get to know him and build some trust. Definitely right place right time stuff right there. I don't get any bonus points for a miracle (let's be honest, I'm not the one to blame for it) but still way cool. As a side note, if there were bonus points avaiable for using an absurd number of parenthetical comments in one paragraph I would definitely score some for this baby.

Impressions from Day Two:
The achievement points are still pushing me a lot harder than I normally push myself, and I'm loving it. I am considerably more social than usual and I find myself wasting less time. If I'm not doing anything, I wonder what I could be doing to be reaching my goals. This is a cool combination of goal setting and accountability, and thus the results aren't too unexpected. I've established goals that are easy for me to remember, and I'm holding myself accountable with points and a nightly report that I'm publishing. I'm loving it. I'm not confident it's sustainable for more than a week, but I'm way happy to do the experiment.

My sister-in-law Kim is awarded one million bonus points for jumping on the Week of the Blue T-shirt bandwagon. She posted her list on yesterday's comments. She is currently at 60/640 points. Super cool!

Tyrel made a to-do list today (not irregular for him) and then tacked on achievement points for kicks and giggles. Look at us go, making waves. Bonus points for Tyrel. I hope your to-do list went great.

Still unknown poster aloeiy has apparently been doing something like this for a long time. Look at that individual go, being way ahead of the curve.

I hope you're all doing great. Thanks for joining in on the fun. It's not too late to make this week a week of the blue T-shirt for you too. Keep up the great work, catch y'all tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Week of the Blue T-Shirt: Day One

Monday is in the books and I scored 40 achievements points today. I promised I'd post the whole list, so here is what I've got so far for Monday through Friday.

Daily Achievements:
Attend all classes: 10 pts
Workout: 10 pts
Program something: 10 pts
Talk to a stranger on campus: 15 pts

Go on a date: 15 pts
Run a mile under 7 minutes: 15 pts
Go home teaching: 15 pts
Complete all workout achievements: 20 pts
Complete all attendance achievements plus all homework: 20 pts
View 5 online lectures: 10 pts
Conquer C++ day 8: 15 pts
Finish programming Pirate Dice: 15 pts

The total is 350 achievement points.

Monday Recap (40/350)
  • I was late to institute, but I made it (mostly because I wanted the achievement points) and I'm glad that I did. I attended all the rest of my classes and learned a lot. Apparently I've been using definite articles in Spanish wrong for the past 2.25 years. D'oh! (+10 points for class attendance)
  • For the first time since the mission I opened my mouth and talked to a random girl as I walked home from school. Her name is Maddie and she was pretty nice. (I would like to point out that this attempt at talking to a girl on campus went a trillion times better than the last attempt to talk to a girl. That was almost 3 years ago and it was a complete and utter failure. That's a story for another day...) (+15 points for talking to a stranger (read:girl))
  • I ran to the field house and then ran a mile on the track. Apparently I'm out of shape because I nearly hurled my lunch after running it. I wasn't racing, by the way, that was just jogging. Not a great sign. I went upstairs to look at the weight machines but they intimidated me so I went outside and did some lunges. Success! The last mile I clocked was 7:21 (about 3 months ago) so my goal this week is to beat 7:00. I made progress today. (+10 points for working out)
  • We discussed a math problem about how many different regions we could cut into a pizza using a certain number of straight cuts from crust to crust today at length in Discrete Math. Dr. Brown said that somebody should go ahead and program a recursive solver in C++ just for kicks- so I did. Well, first I read half of day 8 of my C++ book to learn about pointers (which are awesome, by the way) and then programmed it using some pointer action. Not too shabby. (+10 points for programming something today)
I don't get bonus points for this or anything, but I wore a blue T-shirt today. You can expect that the rest of the week.

All in all I feel like I had a great day. My behavior was definitely different because I was gunning for the achievement points, I'll be honest. There's no way I would have talked to that girl walking home from campus without a goal to do so. I'm motivated. I've been having a blast with the system and hope that y'all are too. More fun coming tomorrow, I promise. The invitation is still on the table to anybody who wants to start achievement pointing this week with me. One million bonus points are on the line- you know this is going to be good. Oh, and an additional million bonus points to cool suggestions for achievements. aloeiy gets points for suggesting a cool service project and tennis. (By the way, who the devil are you aloeiy? I've been trying to use all my powers of investigation and deduction to figure out who you are, but I'm still clueless. At least give me a hint, because I've got no idea).

Anywhom, it is late, gotta run off. Catch y'all later. This is day one of The Week of the Blue T-Shirt. Consider this box checked.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Week of the Blue T-Shirt: Day Zero

With an exception made for the terrible smell that lingers in my room due to unregulated emission of illegal gases by my roommate (read: brother), this week has the smell of awesome to it. I've had a string of pretty good weeks, but I get the feeling that this one needs to be particularly awesome. I'm not sure where this feeling is coming from but I recogniz
e that it is real and am therefore working to make it a reality.

Quick update on my status: I'm attending school, dual majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. Classes have been going great, and so far it looks like I've got an "A" in all of them. I got home from a mission 3 months ago and have been working on getting life started. So far things are going well. I still want them to go better.

I've been playing a lot of Starcraft II lately. It's awesome and I highly recommend it to anybody out there with some time to kill. One of the things I've learned as I've played it these past few weeks is that I'm a total sucker for achievement points.

The concept of achievement points is pretty simple. When you accomplish something particularly difficult or noteworthy you are awarded achievement points. Examples of achievements are the above image (build 5 zealots in the first 250 seconds of a single Melee game), stuff like winning 5 matches against hard computers in a row, having a single unit kill 40 other units in a league game, etc. etc.

To date, I've accumulated 1105 achievement points on SCII. (Confession: I haven't actually got 1105- I'm using a friend's account, and he got the first 100 or so before he let me use it.) You need to understand that these achievement points have often led me to stay up an extra hour or two playing. They're fun, let's be honest.

So as I sat pondering tonight a thought came to my mind. What if I built an achievement point system for my life this week? I've spent a long time playing Starcraft, and I figure it's probably time to put this drive to achieve into something that's actually worthwhile. (note: I'm not saying Starcraft isn't worthwhile) So that's the plan: I'm going to outline a plan for this week and attach point values to certain achievements. I'm thinking "Work out on Monday" is worth 10 points. "Work out every day this week" is a combination of all the sub-workout achievements, and will yield 20 points (that's consistent with SCII, by the way.)

This week is officially dubbed the Week of the Blue T-Shirt. While home this weekend I realized that I own a billion blue T-Shirts and that I really like them. I'm going to wear a different blue T-Shirt every day. Tomorrow I'm going to publish my system, all the goals for the week, and you'll be able to track my progress throughout the week. I think it's going to be fun.

So, invitations: officially invites you to make this week an achievement week as well. A million bonus points to anybody who will make a system and then publish their results this week. 0.5 million bonus points will be awarded to anyone who does it next week, because maybe some people out there want to think about this for a minute.

Second invitation: You are hereby invited to suggest cool achievements for me this week. I reserve the right to not use them. I would love for good suggestions of productive things to do this week that I wouldn't normally do. Realistic things, please. But if you've got something you've been dying to tell me to do, let me know and I'll see if I can't put it on the list.

This is going to be fun. Stay tuned for Day One tomorrow. I'll publish my outline and progress for Monday. w00t!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Happiness at Panda Express

My fortune cookie at Panda Express tonight told me to share my happiness with others. Get this great story:

We go to Panda today. It is Tuesday, and Panda does USU appreciate day on Tuesday so you can get 10% off with your student ID card. My brother Andrew had taught me to go online and fill out the survey on the back of every receipt so I could score a free third entree.

So, with receipt in hand and student ID at the ready, I just scored a chow mein and 3 entrees for $5.67. That's a stellar deal.

Share my happiness with others? You make it easy to be happy, Panda Express.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Update 4: Just added the Angry Pig patronus

For the unaware: Two days ago everybody on facebook started using an app that would ask a few questions and then tell them what their Harry Potter patronus ought to be. Facebook decided this was important so I kept seeing that my Aunt Sally's patronus is an otter. Convinced that no mere internet survey could accurately identify my patronus, but curious nonetheless, I set out on a quest to identify my patronus and post it on facebook. The result is a growing collection of USU related patroni. Images were manipulated using GIMP 2, fonts were downloaded from mugglenet. Any similarity between the facebook patronus app's border and my border is strictly coincidental (read: copy/paste).

I'm confident this project will get old in a week. In the meantime, if you have a special request for a patronus you'd like me to make please leave a comment and let me know. Bonus points if you point me to a good image I can use to make it.

Feel free to use the patroni for fighting off dementors, making fun of the facebook masses, and slaughtering BYU this coming Friday.

Go Aggies.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Writing From Home

Goal: Blog more.

Problem: I don't have much to say.

Solution: Still searching for that one.

So, theory: The reward for doing something good of your own free will exceeds the punishment that comes from doing something bad of the same magnitude. To put it mathematically, as I am wont to do:

Let's flip a coin 100 times. If it lands on heads we say that we did something good and we reward ourselves 70 points. If it lands on tails we say we did something bad and we subtract 60 points. This is not my probability class, so I won't make you work it all out, but you get the idea. Even if we are only getting heads 50% of the time, we still come out with a positive score.

Now, I don't throw this out there to suggest that making bad decisions is okay because our good decisions outweigh them. I don't believe that's true. What I do believe is that our good decisions are worth a lot more than we give them credit for.

I had a good talk with a good friend the other day (It was a good day- just because I wanted to use "good" another time in this line.) She's teaching English in the blessed land of Mexico and she said that when the kids say a specific thing in English after being prompted they get a reward. When the kids say that same thing without being prompted they get a much larger reward. I think this reward system is pretty analogous to life. It's one thing to do a good thing because it's an assignment for a class or because you're part of an organization. It is a very different thing to make a decision on your own to put yourself out there and do something awesome. I think bonus points are awarded for that.

When I think about successful people, I can't imagine it's just because they had an awesome coach that made them who they are. Sure, the coach is essential, but I bet the great ball players dedicated extra time to playing and to practice. I'm sure they decided to eat better and followed through with it. Other people's efforts to make us do great things will only take us so far. If we're ever to truly become great we must become independently motivated and create our own success. I state that like it's a fact- it's not really. That's just the way I'm feeling tonight and it is what I believe.

So, what do I want to become? I want to become an awesome programmer. I am not yet awesome. I'm not even really a programmer yet... So, how do I do it? Well, there must come a time when I decide that I'm going to learn how to do it. I must decide to practice and create things on my own. If that doesn't happen I'll never become great. My CS professors can only carry me so far. Arjun the loveable Indian lab instructor is only so powerful. I've got to man up.

That's my theory of the evening. Chances are worth taking because the reward for success exceeds the punishment for failure. The reward for following someone else's instructions and being successful is great, but the reward for creating your own success is far greater. It's an offensive game instead of a defensive game. Defense is turning in all your CS assignments and getting an A on it. Offense is all that plus making your own stuff. That's who I want to be in my educational career.

"Do better."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

National Talk Like a Pirate Day

Yarr, happy National Talk Like a Pirate day. I'll refrain from writing this post in pirate-speak, but you should know that it takes a great deal of self control to talk like a normal person. I love this holiday like crazy, and this year if the first that I've been able to actually remember it the day of. Every other year I get very excited a week in advance and then forget. You could say that I celebrated my very first National Talk Like a Pirate day today.

So, there's this girl in my CS 1400 class that looks exactly like a girl I ran cross country with in high school. I've felt like a slacker for not talking to her yet, so today I went up and said howdy. Yeah, ends up it's not the person I thought it was. That's kind of embarrassing. So, that take my attempts to talk to random girls on campus count up to two. Both times were magnificent failures. Since I went about 2.5 years between attempts one and two, this should mean that my next attempt will come somewhere towards the end of Spring semester 2014. I should be close to graduation by then. Maybe I'll have learned to talk to girls by then.

In piratey news, I wrote all the solutions to my Math 5710 test in pirate-speak today. "Yarr, the events arrrrrr independent" and all that. I was very proud of myself. I was very comfortable with the math itself and feel like I did great on the test. I sure hope that my professor makes the connection between September 19th and the fun pirate notation all over my paper. I left her a few notes explaining it in normal English. I'm not sure why I insist on being so obnoxious on math assignments and stuff like that. I suppose that I probably shouldn't mess around on a test that's worth 18% of my grade, but I just couldn't resist. I mean, how many opportunities do you get to take a test on National Talk Like a Pirate Day? You've just got to take it. I guess I like to be original or creative in my homework and there's only so much of that that you can do in a math class. You've just got to find the way.

My classes are going great and I feel like I'm learning a lot. For the first time in my life I come home from school and do my homework before I do other stuff. It's weird, but I'm loving it. Life is good. I hope all is well for y'all out there in ye olde blogosphere. I hope to be producing some cool stuff soon. None of it is started so don't hold your breath- but maybe one day there'll be some fun stuff. Word, have a good night y'all.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Very Late Shout-Out

Howdy Friends, happy Thursday. I'm moving back up to school tomorrow and I've been grumpy and stressed because of that most of the day. I was pretty close to freaking out tonight as I finally unpacked my mission luggage and started rounding things up for the big move.

As part of this process I went through some of my old shoe boxes of treasures from before the mission. I found a few old turkey-grams from the Taylorsville Seminary. For the uninitiated, every November the seminary would write turkey-grams. They are small pieces of paper that you could write a quick thank you note on and then they'd be delivered to that person.

I read about 15 turkey-grams that I had saved. I know that there were more than that, and I don't really know why I chose to save these 15. But I'll tell you what- they really helped calm me down and made me very grateful to have such great friends that care about me so much. It really made me feel loved.

So, I know the audience that this blog reaches is pretty minute. The people that wrote me those 'grams are probably not reading this. But for what it's worth, thanks. Thanks to those people that cared enough to send a small turkey-gram my way. Who knew it'd help out so much so many years later? I am sincerely grateful for those notes of appreciation tonight. I can't really explain what it means to me, other than to say that it has made a big difference.

There's an important moral to this story. Everybody wants to be cared about. Everybody at some point or another needs somebody to show some affection. Everybody needs help. The trouble is that we all go through this- nobody is always feeling 100% chipper and ready to help their friends. Even the helpers have bad days. But if we do the best we can, and if we share that love with people as often as we can, I think we'll make it out of this alright.

The application: tell somebody thanks. It's a pretty big deal. I'm off to do so. I hope y'all are having a good day. Thanks for being my friend(s). (You know, assuming I've got more than one reader....)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Short post tonight- I still haven't decided what this blog is all about during version 2. Just a random thought on things I write in letters.

I often write, and see written, "I hope this letter finds you well." There are two possible meanings that this phrase can take, and I haven't decided which one it actually represents.

Before I go any further, I'd like to point out that I'm a total fan of making things mean whatever-the-devil I want them to mean. If I want "Sweet and Low" by Augustana to be about diabetes, heck, for me, that song is about diabetes. If that's not actually what the artist intended, I say too bad, because I'm going to interpret it for my maximum satisfaction.

So, knowing that it doesn't actually matter what it is supposed to mean, I'll just explain what I think it might mean and then tell you which one I pick. Pointless? Probably, but here we are.

Solution A: "I hope this letter finds you well." In this solution the letter is the boss and he is trying to find the person. If the letter finds the person well, it means that the letter has not failed in its mission to locate the individual. "The letter found him poorly" could mean that the letter never arrived, or was beat up upon arrival, or got there very late.

Solution B: "I hope this letter finds you well." In this solution the "find" verb isn't so much about location as it is about the state that the person is in when the letter "finds" them. As a related example, we can say, "Summer found him dreaming of winter". I hope that the letter finds you well refers to the letter discovering that the person is doing well whenever that letter arrives. This is my preferred interpretation.

What's the moral of the story here? Many things can be interpreted in more than one way. I like to pick the way that fits me best- whether or not it is officially intended by "the man" or whatever counter-culture label we want to put on it. Therefore, Sweet and low is about diabetes, Human (the Killers) is about an LDS mission, and inception ends- it does not keep going. I'll take my right to choose all the way to my misinformed grave, thank you very much.

I hope this blog post finds you well- whatever way you like to be found.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Howdy friends, I'm back :)

My blog has been dormant for two years. I was serving a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Dallas, Texas. I loved my time as a missionary and wouldn't trade it for anything. It's absolutely the best thing I've ever done.

I got home a little more than three weeks ago and I've been working like crazy. I love being home and I love taking on life 2.0. It's been a great adjustment and I'm really looking forward to the future. Great things are in motion and everything is looking up.

I want to blog again (behold, I am blogging!). I don't know what this blog will end up being, but for now I expect it will be a place for me to sort out some thoughts and share what I've been thinking about. It may change forms. You're welcome to read it. If you don't read it we can still be friends. I guess.

I've been thinking a lot lately about choices and plans. Having a two-year-recess where you think little-to-nothing about yourself is incredible. Getting home necessitates that you begin to think about your plans once again and make concrete decisions about where you are going. I have been doing my fair share of that. I've loved getting input and advice from others and I'm feeling good about the direction that life is headed in right now.

I have this nagging reservation and it is causing me to think. The decisions that I'm making right now will clearly impact the rest of my life. I make decisions today based upon the way that I feel and upon the information that is available to me. I know, as you know, that further information will become available as time goes forward. I'm making choices without knowing the consequences. I know full well that my feelings are going to fluctuate and change as time goes on. This can create a situation where a decision that I made last week under the influence of a certain set of feelings can still be in effect this week. Now that my feelings have changed, I would like to have made a different decision, but since the decision was made last week I am stuck with it. That's not a real life situation I'm talking about, it's just an example.

So that's the hang-up. How can we make decisions based on life when we don't know how we are going to feel in a week? How can we decide what to study when the market can change in that three year time span?

I've got this unconquerable attitude going on right now- I'm really enjoying it. I've learned that my feelings change. The true test of greatness comes in doing things that are not easy- or, in this case, in doing things that we don't necessarily feel like doing right now. We can't become a world class athlete if we don't train on the days we don't feel like it. So, with this unconquerable attitude we can set a goal or a vision and say, "I will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal, no matter how I feel in the future." We put our head down and go to work- and we likely achieve what seek.

We can contrast that with the more cautious approach that handles things on a more day-to-day basis. If we don't feel like running that day, maybe we should listen to ourselves and not run. If we have a great desire to be an art major on thursday, maybe we should give it a shot. We must listen to the way we feel because that's a large part of who we are. We are receiving messages from ourselves and from the world and divinity and we've got to respond.

So my deep question of the day is this: "Where do I draw the line between striving to reach my previously-set goals and reevaluating based on how I feel?" Because if I change my goals/desires every day based on how I feel I will likely go nowhere. If I put on the blinders and work like crazy I could potentially beat all odds, achieve what I wanted, and realize that it wasn't something I really desired. Does that make sense?

Clearly it's a balance. We're striving to understand ourselves and the world around us. Sometimes that means we've got to take a moment to look inside and find out if what we're seeking is really what we're after. Other times that means continuing on through the hard days and trusting that good will come of it. Sometimes it means remembering the way that we felt before and remembering why we set out to make it happen in the first place. We have to trust last Thursday's version of us when we're questioning on a rainy Friday afternoon. Thursday felt something great and made a decision because of it. If Friday can't feel that, it doesn't negate the reality of Thursday's feelings. So who wins in that situation? Rainy Friday's lack of motivation or Thursday's zeal? Both are legitimate feelings coming from a legitimate human being based on legitimate stimulus.

So what's my plan? Look above and search for help and guidance there first- and then move forward boldly and tenaciously to make that vision a reality. I don't have many regrets about life. One of the things I do regret is not boldly going after what I really wanted in the past. I let opportunities pass me by because I knew I'd feel differently at some undetermined point in the future. My decision now is to not let that happen.

Levi's often quoted by Molly as saying, "It's the hard days that make you a champion." I'll second that. It's not every day that we get an opportunity to prove to ourselves that we want it that bad. Do we want it bad enough to go running even when we're super tired and it's raining? Do we want it bad enough to get our homework done even though we're just burnt out? Anyone can do homework on an easy day. Anyone can go running when they feel good. But the hard days make us champions.

Today I'm going to make a plan about who I want to be at the end of this semester of school. It will reflect how I feel tonight based upon everything that has happened to me in the past 21 years. The plan will involve studies, finances, girls, social life, spirituality, etc. I'm looking for guidance because I know how important these decisions will be. It's Saturday night and I've got some zeal. Will this zeal be sufficient to Wednesday's lack-of-motivation that I'm sure to face? Is that the right choice? Is it right to blaze through that hard day and carry on with the goal? Or do I change my mind and listen to myself? Do you see the conflict here?

It's about trust. We trust ourselves and we trust God. And if we trust and listen we'll know when to make the change and when to keep pushing forward. I'm counting on that one here.

Rahahaha, bonus points to anyone who managed to reach it to this point in the post :) It is what it is and I shan't apologize for that. My working theory is that the quality of these posts will improve over time. Thanks for reading friends. It's great to be back. I'll catch y'all soon.