Thursday, February 25, 2010

Curling

I spend a substantial amount of my time at work with a tv in sight. Lately it has stayed tuned on to the Olympics; I've loved it. But one thing that may be the most remarkable about these games however, is just how much coverage curling has gotten. Curling? Yes, curling. During the late morning to early afternoonrom CNBC is covering curling on a daily basis. No other sport - not hockey, not skiing, not snowboarding - has gotten the consistent coverage that curling has recieved.

At first, upon watching the players curl their stones down the ice, sweepers vigorously preceding it, derogatory thoughts of, "this is stupid" and "what a goofy sport!" kept recurring in my mind. But since it was the only Olympic sport on, it stayed on the tv and consequently stayed in my view. And guess what? After awhile I started to actually enjoy the game. Surprisingly, it involves a substantial amount of team strategy and skill.  For example, depending on how the sweepers sweep, the stone can actually curl around other stones, traveling in a non-linear path.

But what makes it truly entertaining is that the network has microphoned the players. This little stunt is what has really made me a fan. Who would have known how much yelling goes on in curling? It's fantastic! It is a riot hearing them yell instructions at each other and get so worked up over it. Hearing the curlers yell definitely places the spectator into a different perspective, one in which the sport becomes active and engaging.

So the lesson learned: never judge a book by its cover. But if judgement has been passed, just make sure there is not significant yelling involved, otherwise you'll feel stupid and goofy for it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Lacuna

The following was written the day prior to my trip to Atlanta for the Foreign Service exam. I left it unfinished and unpublished because I found it diffucult to focus.

Every morning around 11 o'clock I get a text. It's a text from dictionary.com - "The word of the day." I signed up for the word of the day texts to increase my vocabulary so I sound enlightened and erudite. However, more often than not I recieve a word that is either completely arcane and colloquial, or it is simply a word that has NEVER been in the standard vocabulary of ANYBODY. For instance, the word plenipotentiary (adjective, invested with full power). Come on, even history's most repressive autocrats have never refered to themselves as plenipotentiary. Even the Lord, He who is in fact plenipotentiary, never says that.

Similarly, the word lacuna (a gap or missing part, as in a manuscript, series, or logical argument) seems entirely obsolete from all language...

And that was all I wrote. I was too pre-occupied by thoughts of the impending exam that I simply could not focus on writing this inane blog entry. But then, the very next day as I was sitting on the outbound flight, something caught my eye. It was a book sitting on the lap of a fellow passenger. As I looked closer I read the title: The Lacuna. I couldn't believe it: here I had just mocked the word lacuna and labeled it as obsolete.

It left me feeling a little dull-witted. It seems there was a lacuna in my vocabulary.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Three Branches of Government

The division of government, or rather the provision for checks and balances IN government, is integral to a free and fairly run democracy. Our founding fathers were well aware of the need to separate governing powers so as to prevent any form of tyrannical mishap. But the fastidious student will realize that not only does the separation of powers create a political environment in which no single entity has superflous control over its constituency, but it provides a systemic mechanism in which good ideas are passed around and tweaked by one branch of government to the other, while bad ideas are given stiff halts and dropped cold turkey.

In my own scholarly quests, I have realized that the three branches of government not only applies to democratic government but is a viable means of arriving at and deciding upon one of life's greatest decisions: who to date and mate. You see, each human being is endowed with their own three branches of government, each of which must agree upon whom we are to wed and bed.

Our brain serves as the Legislative Branch, and just like Congress, it makes decisions, sometimes logically, sometimes illogically. Our brain must decide if the person we like stacks up in our favor. Do we have fun together? Do we miss each other when separated? Do we share common interests and goals? Does he/she smell nice? ect, ect. These are questions our brain asks us to decide if a person is the right fit for us.

Then there's the Judicial Branch; this is our heart. Just as the judicial branch interprets what is right and what is wrong, our heart tells us whether our brain's logic is right or wrong. There's a feeling we get when someone is different and special to us. Once our brain has concluded that a person is the right fit for us, we must feel, in our heart, that we love him/her.

And finally, we have the Executive Branch; that singular branch that seems to be acquiring greater power with each successive executive. The Executive Branch is ultimately the one that calls the shots. Yes, it is ultimatly the "drive" (you know what I'm talking about) that decides if we want to be with a person or not. My mother aptly describes this as "burning loins." Those loins just have to burn for us to really want to willingly surrender our life over to someone.

Just as the three branches of government must arrive at the same conclusions for U.S. law to be written and passed, so it is for us to pass someone off as suitable. It is imperative that all three "branches" agree with one another. Sometimes it seems logical that we should be with someone but we don't feel that it's "right." Sometimes we feel that we love someone but it is completely illogical to be with that person. And sometimes, just sometimes, people only listen to the executive branch with a "wham, bam, thank-you-ma'am" attitude and end up screwing themselves over! In order for a relationship to really work, all three branches-the brain, the heart, and the love-makers have to line up.

Sometimes (or most the time) when I tell people this they laugh; and rightly so - I'm hilarious. But there's some serious truth to it, if only you put your mind, and heart, and junk to it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Foreign Service

I've been sitting here for some time thinking of an eloquent, articulate way of blogging the fact that I just passed the Foreign Service Oral Exam, and I've concluded that the best way of intimating it is just by saying it. I passed the Foreign Service Oral Exam.

And now, if I may hop on that horse named Sentimentality, I wish to elucidate my thoughts:

Of my attained successes in life, this ranks among the highest thus far. Getting into BYU was a major success (that place is hard to get in to). Serving an honorable mission was a success (some days the mission just sucked). Graduating BYU was a definite success (that place is insanely difficult with all the cut-throating that goes on there). But for a host of reasons, I feel this most recent of successes carries different, perhaps greater significance. Maybe it was how notoriously hard both the written test and this oral exam were that makes it so satisfying (all I can say is I'm glad I never have to go through that again). Maybe it is the prestige that accompanies the career of Foreign Service Officers that enthuses me. Or maybe, just maybe, it is that I was able to do something, against all odds, that I have dreamed of doing.

(And here's where I hop back down off Sentimentality - she's only good for short rides anyway).

So, after passing the written test, and after writing acceptable essays, and after completing a gruelling 7am to 4pm oral examination, I have made it. Now I just have to wait for a security clearance to go through and I will be set on my way to the first of hopefully a career full of posts around the world. Cool huh?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is It Worth It?

Every so often one is struck by a epiphanic lighting bolt. Sometimes these thoughts can be grandiose and life-altering, like Archimedes exclaiming "Eureka!" as he discovered how to measure the density of an object. Other times these ideas come as simple, common sense-type notions that are so obvious one almost feels doltish for failing to realize them sooner.

These epiphanies can be positive, and they can be negative. I just had a negative one. I ran my own financial numbers and discovered, to my great indignation, I am not making any money but barely covering my expenses. Yes, I have a job (a good one which I very much enjoy). Yes, I make a decent wage. No, I do not spend much money on anything, exept...well...gas. You see, I figured out the money that I would be saving for international travel and sweet new gear is instead being pumped into the fuel tank of my car once every 5 days. Driving to and from Park City each working day is really a vibe killer.

But, before anyone tells me that no job - especially one with an hour long commute - is worth subsistence survival, know this: I get to ski Deer Valley free. (And, just FYI, yesterday was an incredible powder day, a great way to start off my season).

So, is it worth it? HEAK YES! This could very well be my last winter in the lovely Deseret with none other than the peaks and slopes of the Wasatch right in my back yard. And they are mine, for free!

So, in the eloquent words of David Luck, "SCREW YOU FOR JUDGING ME!" And screw myself for judging myself. Like I'm going to let monetary constraints dictate my fiscal actions. Hey, I should be a Congressman.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Back in the Game

I've been inspired to write again; to what end and purpose I know not. Nor do I know that anyone cares. Nevertheless, it behooves me to update these annals so that in the unlikely event that anyone passes this way, they will observe an up-to-date blog.

Which reminds of this one time a former roommate - and in order to protect the anonymity of Jamison Thiel, I won't mention his name - was speaking on the telephone with someone and said loudly, and with the strident confidence of a peacock showcasing its plumage, something to the effect of, "You just wait and see! And let it go down in the anals of history I am right!"

Notice that he said anals, like an anus, not annals. Funny stuff.

There, updated blog.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Latvia's Top 10 Moments!

The time has come my friends. It has been good. I have learned some things, I have seen a few things, and I have experienced a lot of new things.

Out of all the things learned, seen, and done while in Latvia however,....(drum roll please...), HERE IS THE TOP 10 "WHO GOES TO LATVIA?" MOMENTS! (I know you're all excited beyond measure).

Number 10 - Attempting to hitchhike my way to Estonia only to get stranded in the rain for 4 hours some 50 kilometers outside of Riga!
Number 9 - Swimming in the Baltic Sea! Who does that anyways?
Number 8 - Seeing the sun out until 11:30 PM! No joke, it's bizarre.
Number 7 - Seeing the sun rise at 3:00 AM. Ever more bizarre.
Number 6 - Watching old guys play chess in the park.
video
Seriously, this was hilarious. The funniest part happens right after 0:12 and it was so funny!
Number 5 - Wandering around Riga aimlessly for hours on end due to lack of anything better to do! I could not tell you how many hours there were, but there were A LOT.
Number 4 - Wandering around Riga for hours on end because I was lost! Yep, more than I can count.
Number 3 - Wearing a crown made with 4 pounds of oak leaves on my head!
Number 2 - Getting punched in the face!
And the number 1 moment from my Latvian adventure is...
Walking away with the ability to say, "I'VE GONE TO LATVIA!"

So there you have it, the highlights of my 3 month duration in Latvia. It's been fun. It's been great. But frankly, I came, did what I came to do, and now it's time to go home. But before I make it back to Utah, 3 weeks tooling around Europe will be a nice treat, like the juice and cookies they give you after donating blood.

So, for the curious, here is my tentative juice and cookie itinerary:

July 9-11: Berlin
12-13: Budapest
14: somewhere in the Hungarian countryside
15- 16: Slovenia
17 - 18: Venice
19 - 21: somewhere in Northern Italy
22: Zermatt, Switzerland (yes, I will behold the Matterhorn, the mecca of mountain peaks. I may even touch it)
23 - 25: Gimmelvald, a tiny Swiss village high in the Bernese Alps
26: Bern
27: Zürich
28: fly home out of Zürich

I've got the feeling this is going to be the best juice and cookies ever.

But you know, I do kind of feel like this whole experience has been a lot like giving blood. Does anybody really like to have a piece of stainless steel stuck into their arm and watch their own blood trickle down a tube into that bag? NO. But the reasons for giving blood every once in a while overcome the reasons not to, and we are compelled to give. And although we most likely will never see or meet the recipient of our blood, we know that those 15 minutes of awkward "almost pain" from having a needle jammed into our veins and having blood drain out of our bodies, will one day be of benefit.

I just hope, for my own sake, that these awkward 3 months in Latvia will also be of future - albeit unseen - benefit.

So for the last time from the capitol of the beautiful Baltic state of Latvia, goodbye. I'm gone!