28 August 2008

It's a Cast Aluminum Dream Come True

People sell the strangest things in the strangest places.

What will they bring to the parking lot next?

25 August 2008

Nervous and Snappy

For those of you that know me, I get pretty hard to be around when I'm nervous. Being nervous (and anxious) makes me snappy.

Four years ago today marks the anniversary of the most nervous time of my life. It marks the day I entered the MTC.

I turned my mission papers in sometime in late June. I received my call in Vegas.

Okay, I didn't really receive it in Vegas. Robyn got married on July 3, 2004. On July 9, we all went up to her open house in Utah. I got my call in the mail that morning, and thought it would be great to open it up with the whole family once we were together.

I loaded into the car with my mom and dad and headed out for Utah with my unopened call on the seat next to me.

Seeing it there was hard, and for the first six hours, I really thought I could make it all the way without breaking. I was pretty nervous that day, too, so I'm sure I was snapping at anything and everything that came from the front seats.

By the time we reached Vegas, I was on the verge of breaking. I made a quick plan in my head, and conference called my sisters. I actually had to call one of them and have her call the other. It worked.

Driving north on I-15, with my sisters on the phone, and my parents in the front seats, I opened my call (in Vegas). From the moment I read Honduras Tegucigalpa Mission, I knew it was right.

Six weeks later I was entering the MTC. I had had a whirlwind weekend, spent with family from out-of-town and filled with many goodbyes. We flew out of Orange County, or "The OC" as I had come to know it, on Tuesday, August 24, 2004. It was a very rough goodbye. Good thing I didn't know then that I would be saying goodbye to the house I grew up in two years later.

The morning I entered the MTC, we went to the Little America Hotel's breakfast buffet. I normally loved eating there, but that day, I could barely even handle the orange juice.

Did I mention that one of my new suitcases ripped that morning? Right on the seam.

Anyway, I made it to the MTC, they shuffled us in, we did the little orientation thing with the family, took lots of pictures, cried, said goodbye for two years, and took more pictures. When that was over, I walked out one door, and my family walked out the way they came in.

As soon as I exited, I found that my entire day was scheduled for me for the next two months. I loved the MTC. By the end I was ready to leave, for sure, but I loved the time I had there.

My district was great. They made the experience bearable. It was there that I met Cody, my current roommate.

Hopefully today will be filled with reminiscing, nostalgia, and celebrating (especially the fact that I don't ever have to go back)! It was the time of my life, but, as The Byrds say, "To everything...there is a season." I guess the bible says that, too.

Onward and upward!

19 August 2008

Education Week: Hide Your Women and Children, It's Every Man For Himself

This week, people from all over the country (and world, so they say) have flocked to BYU for what they consider the "BYU Experience." They stay in Provo, some even renting student housing, attend classes, and reminisce about the good old days, when they were real students at the Y. It's called Education Week.

The university bills it as an inspirational, uplifting, and even spiritual time. They talk about how "the glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth" (D&C 93:36). And then they pack people into classrooms and fill their brains with ways to better store their food and how to fully balance soccer, dance, work, and Church.

Now don't get me wrong. I believe that scripture wholeheartedly, and food storage, soccer, dance, work, and Church are just as important to me as they are to the next guy. I'm sure some people even walk away better off on Friday than they were when their week started. I just wish these seekers of knowledge would go somewhere else for their week-long adventure. Maybe BYU-Hawaii. It's way better than Provo, trust me. What about BYU-Idaho? It's got a more stringent dress code!

No, they come here. Every year.

I'm sure they have a great time. But do they ever think of the anguish they cause the real students? I doubt it. They go around like they own the place, treating anyone and everyone over 18 and under 30 like obstacles in their learning process.

This morning, for example, I was on my way to work when I experienced first hand the wrath that is Education Week at BYU.

First of all, it was 7:30 AM and campus was already bustling with lone paraplegics with oxygen tanks and lost teenagers, all with the ever present Education Week badges around their necks. I was riding my bike through campus, and just knew that something foreboding was in my near future. I could feel it in the Education Week air.

I parked my bike, walked into the Wilk, bought my usual bottle of water and Clif bar, called my mom on the phone, and headed to the elevator to go to my office and print off some stuff before my 8:00 AM meeting.

As I walked to the elevator, I told my mom how much I hated Education Week and the 20,000 people that don't belong but think they do. I pushed the button for the elevator, waited for a while, then the door opened.

Three people were inside, a man and two women. The man had grey hair, was wearing a blue collared shirt and a nondescript tie. I waited for two or three seconds to see if anyone was going to get off, and when no one did, I proceeded to enter.

The three people inside were standing apart from each other on three opposite walls, forcing me to stand in the middle. The door started to shut, and I reached over to push the button for the fifth floor.

Before I could hit the button, and before I knew what was happening, the crazy, SOB, old man standing behind me, shoved me to one side, walked out of the elevator, turned around, and in a snarling voice, that sounded in my mind like a cross between Uncle Arthur from Bewitched and Satan, snidely blurted, "Excuse me," and then walked away.

I was dumbfounded.

I couldn't believe what had happened.

An old man, for no apparent reason, had shoved me. It wasn't a push, it was a shove.

I couldn't even react.

Enraged and confused, I shouted back at him, but received no reception. Was he deaf? Does he suffer with anger management issues? Is he a last word freak? I'll never know.

In hindsight, I wish I had exited the elevator and provoked him to the point of doing something that would get him arrested and cause eternal embarrassment to his wife and kids. I could've gotten him permanently banned from BYU, never to plague the campus again.

51 weeks a year, 30,000 emerging adults, as social scientists now label us, manage to coexist peacefully, never, ever shoving one another, unless it's in jest. Shoving is something they do at the University of Utah, before and after they say "excuse me."

This idiot comes here for one week, and his first day at 7:30 AM, before classes have even begun, he's shoving people. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'm looking to organize a class action suit against the guy. I can only imagine how many weeks he's already ruined for other people. And I'm sure he's disrupted at least 2/3 of his classes, if he even goes to class. He probably just wanders the campus, looking for people he can pick on.

There's only one thing that could possibly be worse than Education Week, and that's Women's Conference. Luckily that only lasts for a few days.

(Maybe I'll take this approach next year.)

This week, I've still got three or four days to take in, and then I have to deal with all the freshmen and their parents next week. Just kill me now, I can't take anymore. If anything happens tomorrow, so help me...

Did I forget to mention that later today, I went down the elevator to the second floor, only to run into my newest arch nemesis, the old man in the blue shirt? We mad dogged each other, I thought about approaching him and telling him all the clever things I had thought about all day that I should've said when it happened.

I didn't, though.

I sure hope he feels bad.

12 August 2008

Look Who's On Blogger

I signed in to blogger, and thought it was a little strange that my sister and my mom were two of the three "Top Recommendations" on my sign-in page! Weird. Too bad my other sister wasn't on there, too.

Famous in the world of blogging.

03 August 2008

Hawaii: Day Six (The Swap Meet and Pearl Harbor)

Saturday, Cody and I left Laie at about 10:30 AM and headed to the swap meet at the Aloha Stadium near Honolulu and Pearl Harbor. We got in for free, thanks to a couple of coupons we got in a magazine from the car rental company.

Actually, that magazine was supposed to be a map book, but instead of coherent maps, it was filled with advertisements and coupons. It didn't help us with navigating the island, but it did save us four dollars at the swap meet.

The swap meet itself was full of trinkets, trash, and some crazy t-shirts. I bought some wasabi peas and some li hing powder for my roommate.

Li hing powder is the stuff they put on sour candy to make it sour. I thought the drug dogs at the airport were gonna find it and think I was carrying something illicit back to the mainland. I have since made it back to the mainland, and was not arrested upon landing. At least I wasn't flying home from Thailand. Another Broke Down Palace situation averted.

After the swap meet, we meandered through the highways and byways of Honolulu, eventually finding our way to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. It actually wasn't that hard to find.

We arrived around 2:15 PM, making it in time for the last tour of the day at 3:00 PM. Before the tour, we were able to wander the museum and read up on the events of and leading up to December 7, 1941. It was very eyeopening to see the faces and personal effects of those that lost their lives that day. They even had letters some of them sent to their families just a few weeks before the attack.

Before we went over to the memorial, we watched a documentary. It really prepared us for what we were about to do.

One thing that caught me off guard was how many Japanese tourists were there. Then, as I got to thinking about it, I realized that if I were in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, I would want to visit their peace memorials and pay my respects to those who lost their lives there.

After we left the theater, we were asked to maintain silence. We walked out onto a dock, boarded a ferry, and went over to the memorial. 1,177 USS Arizona crew members died that fateful day. Many of them are still buried in the hull of that sunken ship.

I was glad to honor their memory on Saturday at the Pearl Harbor Memorial.

Brokedown Palace

For those of you who don't know, Brokedown Palace is about two girls that travel to Thailand and through a series of misfortunate events get drugs snuck into their baggage, get caught, and end up in a Thai prison.

It's one of the few movies that makes me not want to travel...especially to Thailand.

02 August 2008

Hawaii: Day Five (Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay)

Friday morning, Cody and I left Laie early to try and beat the crowd that was bound to be at Hanauma Bay, a popular snorkeling location on Oahu. We were on the road by 8:00 AM and made it to the Hanauma Bay area by about 9:30 AM.

(I haven't mentioned yet that a lot of our travel was facilitated by a borrowed GPS navigation system. Thanks, Brittany.)

As we approached the entrance to the parking lot, we saw lots of cones and signs that said the parking lot was full. After debating what to do, we decided to park the car in a Foodland parking lot at the bottom of the hill, about a mile away from the entrance.

In the parking lot, we grabbed the bare essentials, including our snorkel gear, and backtracked up the hill to the entrance. Cody is about six or seven inches taller than I am, and his stride shows it, especially when we're going up hill at his tall-man pace.

Walking at his speed brought us to the entrance rather quickly. When we got there, this view was waiting for us.

It's just so amazing to me that so much natural beauty can be packed into one place.

As visitors (and non-Hawaiians), we had to pay a five dollar admission fee and watch a nine minute orientation video. Once that was over, we were let loose, free to snorkel our little hearts out.

To avoid theft, which is unfortunately common in the islands (as if charging $8.69 for a meal at McDonald's isn't enough), we didn't bring our cameras. Therefore, Google will supply my experience with pictures.

The Convict Tang

The Spectacled Parrotfish--we saw lots of different parrotfish.

The Trumpetfish (Yellow)

The Shortbodied Blenny

Sea Urchins

The Endangered Green Sea Turtle

I didn't see any sea turtles at Hanauma, but Cody did.

After Hanauma Bay, we went around the island, past the Dole Plantation, and into Haleiwa for more shave ice at Matsumoto's.

Fully refreshed by our frozen treats, we decided to make a stop at "Turtle Beach" for some more snorkeling and sea turtleing.

At "Turtle Beach", there is always someone there making sure no one handles, harasses, or teases the turtles. While I was swimming with them, the tide and the reef pushed me into a spot where I couldn't move easily. The sea turtles were on one side of me and the shallow reef was on my other side. I could've easily stood up to get out, but the orientation video at Hanauma Bay had informed me of how inappropriate standing on a reef is. Anyway, the situation was very precarious. I was "between sea turtles and a hard place."

Finally, I decided to stand up. As I stood up, I heard the "wretched keeper of the turtles" whistling at me. Cody said she had been whistling at me for some time, but my ears had been underwater. I'm sure her incessant whistling bothers the sea life. When I heard her whistle blowing, I decided to pretend I didn't hear her and got back into the water.

I went about, doing my thing for a few more minutes, and then decided to get out. When I exited the water, the "wretched keeper of the turtles" met me on shore and informed me that I had been too close to her precious animals.

Now, I'm all about not touching the turtles. They're covered in barnacles and sea-diseases, I'm sure. The whole time I was too close to them was spent trying to distance myself from them. The "wretched keeper" didn't know that, and I'm sure that if I had drowned while trying to not harm nature, she would have fished my body out, chopped it up, roasted it, and hand-fed me to her turtles.

Anyway, next time you visit "Turtle Beach," remember that the turtles are more important than you.

The trick is to find the turtles that are farther out and swim with them. She will never know!

01 August 2008

Robyn Turns 28!

So, I know this is a little late, but we'll pretend that it just took a long time to post since I am on an island in the middle of the ocean.

Being that Robyn is now 28, here are some of my favorite (and not recently published) memories of her.

1. We used to entertain each other playing made-up games on road trips when we were kids. I remember we played one game where we took turns watching the second hand on a watch and seeing who could keep time with it the best.

2. Up at Camperworld, we would sit down at grandma Roush's keyboard and sing all the duets it had programmed into it. We especially loved songs like "Arthur's Theme" and "The Way We Were." Sometimes we would sing them well, but most of the time we were just having (and making) fun.

3. When Robyn broke her leg, she was in a wheelchair for a while. I loved that wheelchair. I would take it into the backyard and race it around the house for hours.

4. When I was in the first grade, Robyn dressed up as a strawberry for Halloween. While doing something in the front yard, she ripped a hole in her green tights. She was hysterical, and Kimberly was making fun of her. I am so glad we have that on home video. Classic Robyn.

5. In the seventh or eighth grade, Robyn kissed a boy named Ray Ramirez. I loved to tease her about her latin lover.

6. Around the same time as her latin lover, or maybe a little later, Robyn and Stephanie (and possibly some other girls) sang the Bette Midler version of "Miss Otis Regrets" at a Placentia Recreation Center competition. They placed, but lost to a poor rendition of Michael Jackson's "Thriller," which only won because so many people were in it. Robyn and Stephanie were the real winners.

7. Growing up, I always felt like I was friends with all of Robyn's friends, which I didn't mind. I mean, they were all cheer leaders.

8. When Robyn was in Japan, we decided to do a little make-over of her room to welcome her home. We sanded down her dresser and replaced its hardware, painted her walls, put up some chair-rail wallpaper, and bought her some new bed linens and pillows. It was a good make-over, if you ask me.

9. Speaking of Japan, I wanted to go there so badly when I was little. My dad had gone there, and I thought it was the coolest. When Robyn won a scholarship to be an exchange student there, I was positive that I would win one too when I was her age. Unfortunately, when that time came around, my dad worked for Honda, and the scholarship had been for children of Nissan employees. Anyway, I have always been inspired by Robyn's adventurous spirit and have tried to follow in her footsteps. I'll make it to Japan someday...

10. Robyn and her high school friends used to always talk about an alien or something. I'm still not sure what they were referring to, but they would drive by it at night. I think it was a shape in a storefront window or something. I still wonder about that alien, and every time I'm driving through California at night, I just wish that I knew where it was so I could see it.

11. My freshman year of college, Robyn and I got to spend a lot of time together. She made me dinner, I bought her groceries with my meal plan, and we shared a car. She had it for the most part, but whenever I asked, she always let me borrow it. What a good sister.

12. When she was on her mission, I wrote her once. In that letter, I apologized for not writing her and told her that I would write her more often... When I was on my mission, she wrote me every week. I wish I could go back and write her, 'cause now I know how important those letters are. I'm glad she wrote me 100 times more than I wrote her on her mission.

Those are some random memories. If I was at my computer at home, I'd have a great picture to add to this. I'm not at home, though, so I'm gonna use this one from a trip we took to California in early 2007.

13. Robyn and I loved to go running with Kimberly when we visited her in California. We would leave the perpetual winter of Utah behind and embrace the sunshine in the south. On this particular running trip, Robyn had to pee really bad, so she ran up and over a hill right next to the sidewalk to urinate. I watched her run up the hill, but had to turn my head when she started pulling off her shorts before she was completely out of view.

I had to end it with something embarrassing!

Happy Birthday, Robyn.

Hawaii: Day Four (The Polynesian Cultural Center)

Yesterday was spent almost entirely at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC).

Founded in 1963 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the PCC is the place to be here on the island of Oahu. In one day, you can travel Disneyland-style to Hawaii, Aoteaora (New Zealand), Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, and Fiji. Let me tell you, it was magical!

Cody and I spent the day traveling through the different island nations. When the sun went down, we went to the night show, where each island's dances and stories are showcased on stage. It's the only place to see full-fledged Polynesian dancing at its best.

Cody goes to school with all the kids that work there, so we definitely got hooked up . We got into the "park" for $5 and saw the night show for $10, for a total savings of $71. Thanks, Art.

While I was there, I had a few Sammy's experiences. I ran into two mission buddies and Haliaka, a girl I worked with last Fall at Catering.

Another Sammy's experience.

Cody playing with "poi balls" in Aotearoa

My dear friends, Lena, Alexandria, and Des performing in Aotearoa

Two Samoans (offering comic relief) up a tree in the Samoan Village

Me playing a spear game in the Tongan Village

The night show was great. You never really get to see Polynesians doing their thing in full force, so this was great.

A few highlights.

I've been forced to give up the thumbs-up in Hawaii. In its place, the "shaka."

Hang loose!