Monday, July 27, 2009

Fairly Average

This past week was a fairly average one. It mainly consisted of my normal routine of work and sleep, which is not something particularly fun to write about (or read for that matter). But, I am committed to writing once a week in this blog, no matter how mundane, so here goes! I think part of what has made this past week seem so uneventful is that it has been a hard adjustment after the fun I had with my family the previous week. I found that I was just getting through the day so that I could get one step closer to the weekend, and more importantly one step closer to the next time I get to see my family, which is this upcoming weekend.

At work I have been struggling with a Japanese course. At my job, I go through independent study courses to make sure they are working correctly, they make sense, that there aren’t typos or errors- mainly I’m making sure that a student wouldn’t have a difficult time getting through the course. Well, the latest course that I’m reviewing is a second year Japanese course, which can be difficult since I don’t know any Japanese. I spent about a day at work reviewing first year Japanese in preparation for this course, but I’m still a little lost in what to comment on in my review. It has made work a little frustrating the past several days. But, I make it more fun by putting the Japanese through a free online translator and seeing what funny translations come out. I think it is important to try to squeeze some fun out of a difficult situation.

I did something I never thought I would last Monday: I saw the Hannah Montana Movie at the dollar theater! Erin invited me, and I thought it might be a fun way to clear my head of all the Japanese, so I went. Erin and her brother joked during the whole movie which made it a lot more fun, and the movie itself wasn’t half bad! I was expecting more of a Hannah Montana concert, but I was happy that it was an actual movie with a plot that had a few funny moments. On Friday I had work off because of Pioneer Day, and I spent part of it watching So You Think You Can Dance at Erin’s house and then talking to her about our Disneyworld trip next summer. I am really getting excited for this trip and I think it’ll be tons of fun and a great way to celebrate graduation from BYU with two great friends of mine.

On Thursday I went to Kevin’s house to help him with some of his latest Disneyland videos. Unfortunately most of what we did won’t work out and he is going to re-film it all, but it was still fun seeing the process of how he makes his Lego Disneyland movies. The best part of the night was making the movie of the Disneyland fireworks show. Kevin made a lego Sleeping Beauty Castle that looked excellent, and looked almost identical to the real thing when it was lit up with glowsticks. My job ended up being holding a light and shining it on the castle at the right moment. Kevin’s dad took care of the fireworks, which he would light behind the castle when Kevin directed him to. It all worked really well, especially the second half of the movie. I was able to shine the light on the castle at just the right moment and several of the fireworks went off at just the right moments to the soundtrack. So, it was a fun night and I’m glad I played a part (even though it was a very small part) in Kevin’s Disneyland movies.

And, really, that is about all I have to say! I spent the weekend catching up on my reading and watching Season 1 of House (which Erin let me borrow). It was nice to just have a calm and relaxing weekend without having to worry about anything. Next week, I’ll try to make up for this relatively boring entry. My plan is to write my next entry on my birthday (Aug. 5th) and to talk about my big weekend trip. I’m going home for the weekend with Kevin and we are going to have a little celebration for my birthday and then go see a concert that I am SUPER excited for! The concert will be 12 musicians playing the entire “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” album, with Nick D’Virgilio of Spock’s Beard. After they play The Lamb, the other members of Spock’s Beard are going to come on stage and they are going to play some Spock’s Beard songs! It should be a lot of fun, and I can’t even express how excited I am for it! I just have to get through three days of work, and then the fun begins! I can’t wait! This is a lot of exclamation points!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Family Fun

This was actually a fairly interesting week! Hooray! What made it interesting was that my family was here for a few days and boy was it nice to see them. It was way too short and I miss them now that they are gone, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted. They came late afternoon on Sunday. It felt like such a long time waiting for them on Sunday. I went to church and came home hoping that my family was close, but they were still over 3 hours away, so I watched the finale of Harper’s Island while I waited. When they finally arrived in Provo, I immediately drove to their hotel and we talked a bit before going to the Lemleys for dinner.

I was a great, fun time at the Lemleys since the Troncales were there as well. We ate chicken salad sandwiches and talked for quite some time. I talked to Kevin for a good portion of the time and I was very impressed with his latest lego Disneyland video he did on The Haunted Mansion. He showed several of the videos he has done to my family and everyone was very impressed. Afterwards we went back home and just talked some more in the hotel room and I got home pretty late. The unfortunate side effect of my family being in town was that I got home late every night and still had to get up early for work, which really got hard, especially after the third day in a row. I was excited on Monday because my Dad and sister came to my work during my lunch break to have lunch with me. I was able to show them my workplace and to show them a little bit of BYU campus, mainly the Wilk where we ate lunch. After I got off work that day, I raced to the hotel and went with my family to a great hamburger place called 5 Guys and then to see Star Trek. Star Trek is one of my favorite movies of the summer, so I was very excited to see it with my family, and they all seemed to love it (except maybe my sister Lauren who said she didn’t really get what was going on most of the time). After we got out of our theater, we ran into Erin who was there seeing Transformers with her family. After a quick hello and goodbye to her, we went back to the hotel room to just hang out and talk some more and once again I got home late and had to wake up for work early.

On Tuesday, I got off work an hour early so that we would be able to get to our concert at a decent time. The American Idol concert was the main event of my family being in Provo. On the way to the E-Center, I showed my dad some of the new Dream Theater album, and unfortunately he didn’t seem too excited by it. Hopefully he’ll still find some enjoyment out of the Dream Theater concert we are attending at the end of the Summer. We parked at the e-center and then left to go have dinner at Costa Vida. The concert itself was tons of fun! I was pleasantly surprised by many of the American Idol contestants, many who didn’t impress me all too much while they were on the show. I especially liked Scott MacIntyre, who had a very pure, strong voice and did a great version of Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles, Anoop Desai, who sang really well on a couple of ballads and then had more fun during the upbeat My Perrogative, and Matt Giraud who played some mean piano and did a great version of Hard To Handle.

But, the highlight of the show was the second half which featured the top four contestants of the season. Of course, as I expected, the standout set was Adam Lambert, who proved that he is already a superstar. He did several songs that were popular during the show (Whole Lotta Love, Mad World, and the duet with Allison- Slow Ride). But, what impressed me the most were the songs I hadn’t seen him perform before, Starlight by Muse and the David Bowie medley. Adam looks like he has been performing all his life, and his voice is perfect, there were no flaws whatsoever with his voice. Kris Allen had the difficult task of following Adam, but he did great as well and proved why he deserved to win, I especially liked his rendition of Bright Lights. The concert was a lot of fun and it was fun to talk to my family about the performances and see what everybody liked the best. What I loved was that before the concert even started, there was a monitor that would show certain idol themed things, and whenever Adam’s face appeared on screen the crowd would go crazy. It is nice to know that my favorite contestant of the season is widely appreciated, even in Utah.

That night, I had to say my sad goodbye to my family. I stayed as long as I could, and impressed my family with my “name that tune” skills. But, the time came and I left. What made it not quite as sad is that I know I’ll be seeing them again in a couple of weeks when I go home around my birthday for the Rewiring Genesis concert. The next morning was very difficult since I had stayed up so late, so I struggled to stay awake while I worked. Needless to say, that night I went to bed early to attempt to catch up on the sleep I had lost during the first part of the week. The other interesting part of my week was on Friday when Kevin and I went to go see Harry Potter. He had already seen it at the midnight showing, but it was a new experience for me. The show we wanted to see at 7:45 was sold out as well as the next showing at 8:40, so we ended up having to see the movie at 9:45. I was happy with this because it gave us time to go to FYE and shop for CDs, a favorite pastime of mine.

The movie was great! One of my favorite of the Harry Potter movies for sure. I loved all the humor they included in the movie and I really thought the actors did a great job, especially the actors who play Draco and Snape. I found the movie very entertaining and was mostly very faithful to the book. It is one of my favorite books in the series and I feel it sets the stage perfectly for the thrilling conclusion that will be split up into two movies.

And that is really about it for the week. I really enjoyed having my family here for the week, it definitely will be a highlight of the summer for me, and the only negative consequence of it is that I’m going through a little bit of the blues after having to say goodbye and going through my relatively lonely usual routine throughout the week this week. But, I should have hope because I’ll get to see them again in about a week from when I am writing this (ok, a week and a day…don’t want to get ahead of myself). So, that is all! I will write again next week :D

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Well, I think I’m going to keep this week’s entry nice and short and leave all the exciting, juicy details of my family’s visit to Utah for next week. So, what could I pull out that is of interest from the past week? This could be tough…oh wait, I just remembered what I was going to write about this week! On Thursday and Saturday, Kevin and I watched the entire Lord of the Rings Extended Edition. Neither of us had seen the extended version of Return of the King, and I hadn’t seen any of the movies since before my mission about 5 years ago (which is a crime because they are my favorite movies). Although, to be fair, I’m not big on re-watching movies, even when they are my favorites. However, I think every five years is spread out enough that they are still fresh when I see them each time.

Anyways, I was reminded all over again about how brilliant these movies are. I find them to be truly perfect movies that have everything you could possibly want: humor, romance, action, a moral lesson, and spiritual imagery. I think I am going to outline my four favorite scenes of the entire trilogy. Most of them deal with my favorite character of the whole series, but we’ll get to that in a minute. The first favorite scene is towards the end of Fellowship of the Ring when…oh I should also mention that these are big spoilers, so if for some crazy reason you’ve never seen or read Lord of the Rings, skip to the end of my entry. Ok, so, it is at the end of Fellowship of the Ring when the orcs are attacking and Boromir is fighting them off. After much fighting, he gets struck in the chest with an arrow, which stops him for a moment. But, he doesn’t let that stop him, he keeps going and continues attacking orcs. Then he gets hit a second time with an arrow! But, he doesn’t let that stop him either and he continues fighting bravely as he is dying. He gets hit with a third arrow and the orc who is shooting the arrows comes close to Boromir and points his bow and arrow inches away from Boromir for the final blow. Luckily, Aragorn comes to the rescue, cuts off the orcs head, and Boromir gets the heroic death he deserves. I love this scene because it showcases extreme bravery and being able to stand up against adversity. Boromir could have easily given up after getting hit by the first arrow, but he knew he needed to continue fighting as much as he could to allow Frodo a chance to escape.
Ok, I need to keep this short, I’m saying too much. My next favorite scene happens shortly after this scene when Frodo is about to row away in a boat to go to Mordor alone to destroy the ring. Sam comes running up as Frodo is leaving, and runs out into the water, even though he can’t swim, and says that he won’t let Frodo go without him. It is an emotional display of true friendship and, as we’ll come to find out, Sam coming along is essential to the success of the protagonists.

The third scene also involves Sam, and it is at the end of The Two Towers where he gives his speech. I cannot do it justice, so I’ll just quote it:

Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

The fourth and final scene is when Frodo and Sam are climbing up Mount Doom to throw the ring in the fire. They are both exhausted and are collapsed on the ground with no strength to go on. However, Sam gathers up some final strength within himself and picks up Frodo and carries him up the remainder of the mountain. Sam is one of my favorite characters of all time because he is pure in heart and truly just wants to do what’s best. He is a loyal and true friend no matter what happens and will do anything for Frodo. It is truly touching to me and is a model of how I want to be. Without him, Middle-Earth would not have been saved.

Alright, I think I’ve written enough about Lord of the Rings. Besides that, I can’t think of much else to say. On Wednesday, I was excited to sit down and watch So You Think You Can Dance, but was disappointed that my roommate was already occupying the living room and that I wouldn’t be able to watch the TV. Luckily, Erin texted me and invited me over to her house to watch it, and it was a lot of fun watching it with her. Usually I am bored watching it alone without anyone to talk about it with. So, that was definitely a highlight of my week. I also got to meet my roommate’s fiancĂ©e and she is really nice, she asked me my advice on which picture to use for their wedding invitation. All the pictures looked about the same to me, so I’m afraid I wasn’t so helpful. My other engaged roommate left the apartment for good on Saturday night, so I am down to just two roommates. My other engaged roommate will probably leave in a couple weeks when he is about to get married, so it’ll just be me and one other roommate.

So, I’ll end it there with a promise that next week’s entry will be more interesting (and probably less geeky). Life is good, I’m really enjoying this summer and I think it’ll be one to remember. Good times.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Laughing It Off

This past week has been pretty interesting—it started with some frustrating experiences with my roommates. Now, don’t get me wrong, my roommates are really nice, I just got a little frustrated with them this week. I believe I mentioned last week that I had a meeting with my roommate and Elder’s Quorum President, Alec. During that meeting, Alec asked me if I would meet with the Bishop, and I said I would when I felt ready to, but he kept pressing me harder and harder and by the end of the meeting got me to commit to calling the Bishop that night for an appointment on Tuesday. Well, after Alec left, I didn’t feel comfortable with how he pressured me into calling the Bishop and I thought that it is more of a personal thing to decide if and when to see the bishop and it didn’t seem right to be forced into it, so I decided not to call the Bishop and to set up an appointment later when I felt more comfortable about it.

Well, the next night, I’m going to bed when all of a sudden Alec comes in my room and asks me if I have called the Bishop yet. I tell him I haven’t, and he continues to pressure me and says I should call him right now. I tell him that I am going to bed, and then he makes me promise him that I’ll call the Bishop in the morning before work. Because I’m tired and need sleep, and my roommate isn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer, I say ‘yes’ so he’ll get out of my room. I was upset that he entered my room without knocking while I had all the lights off and was trying to go to sleep, it seems like an invasion of privacy to me. Also, I really felt uncomfortable with him pressuring me to call the Bishop, so the next morning, out of my disapproval of the whole situation with my roommate, decided not to call the Bishop and that I would set up an appointment with him myself on my own terms. So, I know that my roommate’s desire was good, but the way he went about executing it really seemed wrong to me.

The other thing that makes me uncomfortable about my roommates is that they are good friends, and joke around by calling each other “queer” which seems in bad taste to me. Their frequent gay jokes make me uncomfortable. One example is when my roommate Mitch was leaving and saw that I was watching “So You Think You Can Dance”. He said, “Well, I’m going to see my GIRLFRIEND, have fun watching your gay guys on TV.” It seemed like a pretty insulting thing to say. And then, yesterday, my roommates invited me to ward prayer and said, “Who knows, you might even make out with a girl while you are there” and then they started laughing to each other, which made me think they were making fun of me. So, I just stayed home. So, there are some examples of how my roommates make me uncomfortable. This probably isn’t the right place to be venting about these things, but I felt I needed to get it out, and it was also a big part of my week.

I got the new Phideaux album, called Number Seven, on Tuesday and it is incredible! It is a beautiful album that moves seamlessly from songs that rock hard to beautiful melodies sung by their great female singer. I have really enjoyed falling in love with this album. It is a concept album about the journey of a Dormouse, which makes for a very interesting story. Besides that the rest of the week has just involved working. I went and saw the new Transformers movie and thought it was pretty good. It is far from being a masterpiece, but I enjoyed it.

My fourth of July ended up being more eventful than I initially thought it would be. My friend Erin texted me and invited me to the Stadium of Fire. I hesitated accepting the invitation because I knew that the Jonas Brothers were performing, but I decided to go anyways because it would be a better way to celebrate fourth of July than sitting at home thinking about how my roommates annoy me. I left to meet up with Kevin at the Wyview multi-purpose building, but he got stuck in traffic so I walked to the stadium alone. Erin was waiting outside the gate with my ticket when I got there and we both walked in and found our seats. It was an exciting program! I really enjoyed the fireworks show and the touching words about our country spoken by Glenn Beck. I’ll admit that I’m not the most patriotic American, but I was still touched by his comments about how special a nation America is and how we need to fight for liberty and make this generation a notable one in American history. It made me realize that I need to become more patriotic and learn more about the history of the nation that I’m so privileged to belong to.

The Jonas Brothers were about what I expected. The screams that erupted from the stadium as they took the stage were deafening! One of the loudest screamers was Erin who apparently is a big fan. I just sat there watching quietly while Erin and many of the other people around got up on their feet and danced around while singing all the words to every song. I hadn’t heard any of the songs before (besides a cover they did of Sweet Caroline) so I unfortunately couldn’t sing along (LoL, like I would sing along to the Jonas Brothers!). Erin encouraged me to stand up part way through their set so I reluctantly did. It wasn’t so bad…(but it wasn’t so good either). It made me sad when I realized that this band is beating Dream Theater in the Billboard charts. I’m sorry Jonas Brothers fans, but Dream Theater is a lot more talented than the Jonas Brothers and yet they struggle to even make it on the charts while the Jonas Brothers have massive amounts of screaming fans that fill stadiums wherever they go. It baffles me…oh well! I should end my rant about the Jonas Brothers before I get in trouble.

Sunday was a good day. I was a little late to church, but I was still able to hear all the wonderful testimonies. During the whole testimony meeting I did some self-reflection which really taught me some things that I need to work in the upcoming weeks. I’ve only been in this ward about three weeks, but I don’t really feel like I’m connecting to the ward. A good example is what happened in Sunday School. I was one of the first people to enter the room for Sunday School. I sat in the back row and waited while everybody else came in. Well, people kept taking chairs from my row so that they could sit with their friends in different rows. This continued until my seat was the only chair left in the row, so I ended up sitting alone in my row. I laughed to myself when I thought about how people would rather move the chairs than have to sit next to me. Oh well, at least it’s something I can laugh about later.

My roommate ended up coming up to me at the beginning of Sunday School and told me the Bishop wanted to meet with me at 12:15 (right during Sunday School), so I had to leave halfway through Sunday School for my appointment with the Bishop. Well, I ended up waiting about an hour for the Bishop to be ready for me. Then we talked about my social life and I told him I didn’t have one. He encouraged me to go on more dates. It was all pretty awkward. The best part about it, though, is that I was able to get a temple recommend interview, which I have needed for quite some time. After the interview was done, there was only 15 minutes of church left, so I decided to go home early and reflect on some of the things that I had been thinking about during testimony meeting.

And, that is pretty much it for my week! Sorry for ranting a bit and complaining about certain things. I think the important lesson I learned this week is that I just need to laugh about these situations I end up in rather than taking offense. I haven’t been depressed at all this week because I have been able to laugh about my roommates and my experiences at church and about the Jonas Brothers. It makes every aspect of life that much more enjoyable. So, that is my take home message of the week: learn to laugh off the negative things that happen.