Thursday, December 31, 2009

Crazy Thing Happened at the Symphony

After watching the following youtube recording I suppose they should start adding to the list of concertmaster responsibilities: "take over for the conductor under any circumstance - including the stabbing of hands via errant batonage." Indeed this concertmaster was well prepared to safely guide the ocean liner of strings, winds, percussion and brass to a resounding fine. He must have been a boy scout in his early years.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hand Over the Figgy Pudding or the Frog Gets It!

Every Christmas season I relish in the family traditions which have survived the test of time. One particular tradition I enjoy is watching the Muppet's Christmas Carol. I don't know what it is that makes this movie so special to me but the feeling is unmistakable every time I watch it: gratitude. Gratitude for the blessings of a loving family, a warm home and friends kind and dear. Charles Dicken's character Bob Cratchet and Tiny Tim are da men. Their lives are full of gratitude, always seeing the good in everyone around them. This beautiful Christmas message echoes the selfless life of the Savior of the world who intimately knows each one of us. He sees the potential in all of us as children of God; may we be believing in the same.

And this duo can scat!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Is It A Cookie?!?

What do you get when you mix someone as awesome as Kermit the Frog with someone just as awesome, even Cookie Monster? Simply the best clip on Earth, so take a look :)

Rump Roast?

Be More

I am a commercial enthusiast. For the past several days, I have had a particular commercial on my mind. The cinematography is absolutely fabulous and the music selection rocks my eastern European roots. In addition, the one liner ending is unbeatable. Thank you PBS.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Feel the Pain

This evening I had some time to revisit the first violin concerto I had ever performed, the Barber Violin Concerto. As I schmaltzed through the second movement I noticed that my teacher, then Eric Peterson of the CSO, had inscribed below a particularly melodramatic section the words "Feel the Pain". I can picture a skinny younger copy of me looking at that inscription and thinking "what on Earth does that mean?" Well today I finally felt the pain and it was good. If you have the time to spare, take a moment to listen and be enveloped in the musical satin of Samuel Barber:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy and True

This blog entry is graciously brought to you by the letters A (Aciphex), P (Protonix & Prilosec), and B (Beano). As I look back on this year in early review, I'm not sure I would have believed it if I was told that by year's end I’d be living back in Colorado in my parent's basement, yet despite the change in latitude (and altitude) I can't help but be grateful to know the Lord, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, has blessed me with the righteous desires of my heart.

Surely our Heavenly Father “knoweth what things [we] have need of, before [we] ask him.” Pondering this scripture has helped me to appreciate more fully the power of prayer and how through inspiration we can ask the ‘right’ things. Knowing what things I need to learn and do gives me the greatest satisfaction in my day.

The prophets teach that men (and women) should “be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.” And if through the test of faith we feel as the prophet Nephi described, being “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which he should do,” then rest assured that the Lord will not disparage nor leave us comfortless, for he promises the faithful, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” This is especially true even when things don't exactly seem to be going our way as it was for the prophet Joseph Smith during some of the darkest days of his life, having been wrongfully accused by his closest friends and incarcerated in Liberty prison, and yet remaining steadfast in faith and in keeping the commandments. "Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven." I know Heavenly Father is ever mindful of our needs. He hears and answers our humble petitions and prepares a way for our deliverance out of temptation's snare.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

...but I must.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and it's the chocolate. The time has inevitably come that I must swear off the consumption of the cocoa bean or suffer the full wrath from Stomachland. Oh how I will miss you, brownie delight. The soft stir of your hot cocoa. Dark chocolate madness and peanut butter cups in all there varieties. My heart is heavy but I must bid you adieu. So farewell my good friends until we meet on sweeter terms...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

For Crying Out Loud

Researches have discovered that the cries of infants as young as three days old already reflect the language their parents speak. The study showed how certain French babies would cry in a rising melody contour such as ascending tones whereas German babies followed a descending melody contour true to their language form. Perhaps a study involving Swahili babies would reinforce this finding by revealing a percussive series of clicks in the babies outbursts.

It is quite remarkable to think that newborns have already learned the pattern of their native language just by observing their parents voices in utero. It would seem that our most rapid strides in learning take place in our infancy. Babies are like little mental sponges absorbing and analyzing vast amounts of data. Babies are also very efficient food processors and they like to poop, a lot.

We come into this mortal world having left from a much more exalted realm, a pre-mortal existence, learning and progressing as spirit children with our Father in Heaven. No wonder babies are quick studies, look where they all come from! As Wordsworth wrote, they come "trailing clouds of glory."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sing Low Sweet Mammy

So this is interesting stuff. In the Nov. 7 edition of Science News a marine researcher presents new findings in the ongoing science of juicy male laboratory love triangles. Contrary to popular belief (at least among the nerd herd), male humpback whales don't stake out their territory. This is probably because with all of the other junk floating around no one would be able to tell your scent or otherwise identity marker from the next rival - that and how does that even work in the ocean? Female humpbacks attract as many as three to eight males at a time. As a wandering male encounters the song of another nearby male, the singer begins to schmaltz up his solo; in effect showing off his improvisatory skills to the lady. And thus we see how science has proven once again that the male species is not to be outdone, especially by some twerp eyeing your woman.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Attention Public School Educators

Your work can go overlooked sometimes. It's hard work that requires the utmost patience and perseverance, so you deserve a moment to sit back and enjoy the following sound byte:

This is the message that the Maroochydore High School,
Queensland, Australia staff voted unanimously to record on their school telephone answering machine.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Sensation

While at the dentist's office for a cleaning, my permanent bottom retainer wire sprung loose much to my horror. Dentist said he didn't have time to take it out, so he graciously referred me to an orthodontist friend of his. For the remainder of the day I ate on the right side of mouth trying to evade the protruding metal hook from almost certain disaster. Well today I am a new man having rid myself of the wire prison that held me captive for a good 14 years. The sensation in my mouth is extraordinary. To quote an animated sitcom writer "It's like there's a party in my mouth, and everyone's invited!" Sooo strange but exciting now that I can floss freely and uninhibited. The world is my oyster and I intend to eat it all!

Monday, October 12, 2009

'Tis A Gift To Be Simple

Tonight after doing some home teaching with my dad, we bundled up and took the traditional Sunday walk. I was in a particular inquisitive mood and so I got to ask him all sorts of questions ranging from his boyhood neighborhood friends to family vacations. There is so much I don't know about his youth and I wonder how many of us of the younger generation actually have given much thought to what growing up must have been like 50 years ago, indeed, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

I'm grateful for these one-on-one moments. I can learn so much from them. For example, I asked my dad how we was able to deal with so many low-blows throughout his career. He responded exuberantly that the Lord had always provided avenues for him to make a living even in the bleakest of times. It was never an easy road, it required sacrifice and diligent effort, but the Lord provided for our family. This heartfelt testimony from a parent can be one of the most powerful influences on a child. There is a grand purpose to this life and it begins and ends with family.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Brand Spankin' New Nephew

Last weekend in CA I got to see the first time this side of the veil my new wittle nephew, Forster Kuzmich Paget. He's one healthy baby who loves his momma and didn't mind all the grabbing for attention as long as there was plenty of food and good burpage included. And something I heard this week reminded me about the fascinating transistion into mortality. As LDS church doctrine goes, we believe that before this earth life we all lived as spirit children with our Heavenly Father, learning the true principles of His gospel and what would eventually be our next step in our eternal progression (i.e. coming to earth, getting a body, *eating In-N-Out burgers, etc...).

I've always had the distinct impression when I see a newborn that they carry with them a clear memory of their heavenly home. Apart from their cries and other gurgling petitions, what if their tongues could be loosed just for a moment and they could speak to our understanding? What would they tell us or remind us of?

Last year I helped out in the primary with all the kiddos during church and during our brief lessons when we could actually keep their attention away from screaming their lungs out for Mom or running wildly around the room, we would occasionally hear some simple yet powerfully deep thought uttered from their little mouths in response to whatever the lesson happened to be on. It reminds me of the scripture in Alma 32:23 "And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned." Very cool indeed. General Conference weekend is upon us and I'm excited to hear some more inspirational thoughts from apostles and prophets.

Here's Rhys and Liz aka the "A team" with baby Forster:

* - not essential but definitely worth it if you have the chance.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Does a Body Good

It just hurts. Hurts to keep my insides from busting into laughter when I watch people struggle to stay professional once an unexpected humor bug strikes. For instance, take this talk show host (hyperlink below) who once you think he's got it in under control, can't clench his teeth hard enough to keep the fit from spilling out. This healthy spasmodic behavior does a body good.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tips for Worker Productivity

It has been said that if you're not confused, you're not paying attention. Well that would perfectly describe my day at work; a day-long conference full of power point slides busting at the margins with too much information. The poor gentlemen sitting in front of me (who I found out later was a genius) kept nodding off during the presentations. It took all the control I had not to focus on his bobbing head, and for a moment I felt as if I had finally prevailed, but then like the yank of a lawn mower cord his head would jerk back up only to tragically repeat history once more.

So this brings up a good question: how do you stay awake at work? Let me share a few exercises that can be done right in the privacy of your own cubicle; however, if that's not an option, try the parking lot or an abandoned elevator shaft. First, raise one foot and try balancing while periodically bringing one hand to your nose. This will probably look silly so you should only do this if you are not overly self conscious and/or have a sweet headband:

And if exercise isn't your thing, then perhaps eating is. Raisins get the saliva glands pumping, ripe apples always have a good kick and opening a can of tuna is like opening a can of 'Hello World' ocean potpourri. Crazy as they sound they all work and will keep you working, right up until it's time to go to the restroom.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hurrah for Israel!

If there's one thing I love about my church, it's that the apostles and prophets say it how it is. For example, in this month's First Presidency Message about the 'Influence of Righteous Women,' president Heber J. Grant was quoted as saying "without the devotion and absolute testimony of the living God in the hearts of our mothers, this Church would die."

This afternoon, a most amusing sight caught my eye:

It would seem that this male behavior stems from the void of certain femininity. Look how still these male specimens lie on the pavement as if immobilized by the thought; "What's for dinner?" Surely left to their own devices, men would slowly solidify into statues, and some hungry statues at that. But honestly, where on Earth would we be without the righteous women in our lives? Most likely up the creek, paddle-less, and hopelessly lost despite the extra concentration of iron in our noses.

Elder Uchtdorf sums it up well, ".. you [women] are endowed with a divine birthright. You are the real builders of nations wherever you live, because strong homes of love and peace will bring security to any nation. The virtue of your own life will be a light to those who sit in darkness, because you are a living witness of the fullness of the gospel."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My (little) Mountain

At just over 6800 feet above the fishies stands Green Mountain, the doorbell to the Rocky Mountains. Having spent much of my youth frolicking on it's lower steppes I felt like I was connected to my eminent friend; however, it has been only in the past few years that I have discovered my new playground of trails and stunning panoramic views.

Prophets in the scriptures would on several occasions climb to the tops of mountains and other high places to speak with God and receive His divine counsel. In somewhat similar fashion I too have trekked the heights seeking answers to prayer, and come away with a thankful heart.

After several days of haze, the clouds finally parted and I took full advantage of the weather to share a few pictures to y'all (click on the pictures for greater resolution):

Monday, August 31, 2009

Strange Brew

In an attempt to cure the mysteriously persistent stomach problems, I have accepted to trial a most bizarre herbal concoction from my dearest mother. In preparation we needed to ascertain a few dark glass bottles but having none, chose to improvise them with a few black sharpie markers and duct tape. No, I have not lost my marbles, I've simply misplaced my trust in western medicine for a time :)

After stewing the herbs and other ingredients for a good 12 hours it was finally ready to serve. In all honesty it wasn't as bad as I thought, nothing at all like mom's hot tati recipe of death. So here's a toast to vitality and may you live to a hundred years!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Just Eat It.

Flabbergast: to overcome with surprise and bewilderment; astound. This best describes my reaction when I found out Dad would be cooking for Grandpa during his trips to SoCal. I mean no insult when I say, this is the man whose idea of cooking revolves around bread and its conversion into toast.

Despite the bad wrap, I am thankful for my father's long-standing commitment to "just eat it." Truth be known, one of my biggest peeves is a picky eater. Perhaps if a 'no picky eating' lifestyle were adopted, there would be world peace. Hear me out; increased consumption of fruits, vegetables and fiber will lead to a grand exodus of gastrointestinal fumes, relieving stress and improving consistency. This boost in mental health will certainly help people better cope with one another and thus lay the ground work for global harmony. No picky eaters in my house I say. Choose you this day what you shall eat.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Manly Skills

As part of my daily googling, I learned that "wrestling is one of Mongolia’s age-old 'Three Manly Skills' (along with horsemanship and archery)." Thankfully I am not deplete of the essence of manliness. But had I been reared in the steppes of Asia I would have become a great proficient. I can picture myself in jodag (a tight, collarless, heavy-duty short-sleeved jacket) and gutal (leather boots) creating no small stir among Mongolian women.

Other skills I believe are worthy of "manliness" are:

Yak Riding and

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Eatin' Time

I heard some staggering statistics today about the rising costs of health care. Approximately 9 cents of every dollar spent on health care goes toward treating obesity-caused illnesses, culminating in a whopping 93 billion dollars every year! I read such findings and wonder how is it that some people can pack on weight effortlessly while other people, like me who go to extraordinary effort, manage only to evaporate weight by way of processing a few brainwaves and ka-ZAM it disappears into 'thin' air. Well, patience is a virtue I suppose. The journey of a thousand juicy meatball sandwiches starts with just one bite, and I intend to finish that journey.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Consider the Lilies...

Quick Update to my peeps: I accepted a job offer with Lockheed Martin in Boulder, CO starting in the not-too-distant future. So as my eastern excursion comes to a close, I've reflected upon some of the things I've learned while in this beautiful part of the country. There are spiritual giants living in Binghamton NY. People that give unselfishly of their time, talents and everything with which they have been blessed to comfort and give aide to others.

Yesterday I was privileged to experience the wonders of modern medicine in the form of a technologically modified garden hose. Jamming this pricey contraption down my esophagus yielded no buried treasure or other abnormalities which in one way is comforting to know. A good sister in the ward drove me to and from the hospital, wrote down the doctor's diagnosis, and made sure I had food to eat at home. This and many other acts of genuine kindness have taught me that the Lord is truly mindful of the needs of His children and that through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, each of us can help build the kingdom of God. His tender mercies are all around us once we awaken our spiritual eyes to behold and receive them.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Be Excellent To Yourselves

For some time now my health has been anything but regular, though lately I've found a few ways to keep my mind and body at ease. Morning and afternoon walks through nearby Highland Park are relaxing, but add some pseudo Tai Chi Yoga and you've got a world of awesomeness. I always stop at my special post and begin warm-ups followed by an improvisatory routine of Tai Chi, learned from a DVD I ordered at, coupled with brief and simple Yoga poses found on the internet. In a strange way I feel like Rocky as he trains for the next big fight or Karate Kid as he balances on a pier, striking a sweet pose, and peering out into the deep expansive ocean. Sure the onlookers probably wonder what that tall skinny white dude is up to, but to me, I only hear the soft brushing of leaves in the wind. But enough soliloquy, go to your happy place(s)!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Que pasa conmigo?

My body is trying to tell me something important, though in a foreign language. I'm just trying to figure out how a 27 year old, relatively disease-free individual, could contract a 2+ week episode of furiously constant (nigh unto insanity) heartburn having no prior history of acid reflux? Diet changes and acid-reducing drugs seem to have only temporary effect.

I suspect fowl play.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Idle Mind

The adage goes "The idle mind is the devil's workshop." I am currently battling an idle state at work due to program cuts and doing my best not to succumb to the ill effects of cerebral scurvy. The corporate compliance training courses have begun to invade my REM sleep with their ethics dialogue. On the plus side I know that if I ever have a question about export control that I can always go to the export control lady whose office spans the coastal beaches of Peru and is a Karate Grandmaster. Freaky dreams aside, idleness is a very real danger and I'm beginning to see just how many things in my day-to-day life are affected by that rotten scoundrel. Awake and arise, O ye slumbering nations!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's All Fluff

Fluffy pancakes, fluffy biscuits, and now fluffy galaxies. For years scientists have been perplexed by observations which reveal ‘fluffy’ central regions of merging elliptical galaxies where large black holes reside. As these supermassive black holes unceremoniously binge-eat neighboring stars like Denny’s grand slam specials, one would expect to see a bend rather than a bulge at their cosmic core. Thanks to a team of astronomers made up from Germany and the US, the paradox can now be fully explained, though, in nerd talk. To save you from absolute nebulosity, here’s the gist:

Stellar buffet-style comes with a price. When two supermassive black holes enter the same hen house, feathers fly as rival Alpha-males dance-off to a rendition of MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” while the backlash from their sweet awesome moves slingshots the whole coup of stars off into space and thus giving rise to a fluffy ending.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Just Say No

Attention all dietary and fiber-conscience consumers *STOP* Mild side effect found in FiberOne bars *STOP* Bloating and flatulence will not stop *STOP*

I am a young and relatively health-minded individual, intimately acquainted with a vast array of trigger comestibles and their "undesired effects" upon the human body. For example, five years ago on a lazy summer day I discovered how ingesting copious amounts of dried prunes may speed up the delicate process of the digestive tract. Unbeknown to me, chicory root extract is a not-so-distant relative to my dried prune buddies. And to evince you of the truth of such claims, take a closer look at the the nutritional facts on the side of the box:

As you can see, a single serving of one bar contains 9 grams of fiber (or ~35% of your daily valuable assuming a 2,000 daily calorie intake), yet despite this figure, the health benefits do not outweigh the potential risk of unleashing a staggering 490g of total farts (or roughly a DV of %6000) into the atmosphere. So what does this mean to the average working Joe? It means you stay in your cubicle, act normal and if anyone offers you a bag of dried prunes, just say no.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

And that's the recipe for makin' love...

Whenever I see a elderly couple playfully banter back and forth I think about how awesome it must be to grow old with someone you love and adore. Such a life-long journey can't all be baked to cheesecake perfection. Avoiding the undercooked lima bean pie takes persistent practice. Whatever your baking skills may be, a hearty helping of love seasoned with charming humor is sure to bring a smile. So here's to smiling and whatever the future may hold:

Wife: "There's trouble with the car. It has water in the carburetor."
Husband: "Water in the carburetor? That's ridiculous."
Wife: "I tell you the car has water in the carburetor."
Husband: "You don't even know what a carburetor is. Where's the car?"
Wife: "In the swimming pool."

Friday, June 5, 2009

Who wants to make some Moo-lah?

I've have been hopelessly calling every licensed massage therapist in the greater binghamton area in hopes to secure a measly 30 min tour de force on my lactic acid metropolis of a back before tomorrow's concert. For the past few days I have held the elusive beast at bay by ramming my back into the corners of walls (or door knobs); yet despite the momentary relief, the muscle aches migrate to other safer resorts. Are massages so high in demand these days that not even well intentioned bribery can prevail? Well, perhaps the neighbors wouldn't mind stepping on my back...

Thursday, May 28, 2009


It's three strikes and you're out in the old ball game. And well, for those of us not up to such high archaic standards, how about until you hit the ball?

Becoming one with the *foam* ball.

And striking a mighty blow for scrawny people everywhere!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Of Math and Men

In Elder Robert D. Hales April 2009 general conference talk, he taught that we should become provident providers temporally and spiritually. He said, "Our challenges, including those we create by our own decisions, are part of our test in mortality. Let me assure you that your situation is not beyond the reach of our Savior" In addition he stressed that "Our success is never measured by how strongly we are tempted but by how faithfully we respond." Upon reading that last phrase, the gears in my nerd-of-a-brain began to turn...

Linking engineering principles to life lessons and the eternities is not a strong point of mine, yet this dynamic system is of particular interest to me. As I recall from analog feedback controls coursework, time domain parameters such as overshoot, rise time, settling time and ringing for a given system may be analyzed to design a controller to help minimize those undesired quantities. But controllers aside, "Formally, knowing the step response of a dynamical system gives information on the stability of such a system, and on its ability to reach one stationary state when starting from another," as cut and pasted from our friends at Wikipedia :)

So how does this control theory jargon apply to you and me in a spiritual sense? Simply put, as sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father (second order systems), our faithful (optimal) response in giving head to spiritual promptings (e.g., analog or digital system inputs) will determine our success and happiness (system stability) in this life and the life to come and how we can mature spiritually as exemplified by the Savior, from "grace to grace" (i.e. ability to transition from one state to another), until at the end we reach that perfect day (no overshoot, rise time is near instantaneous, and settling time and ringing are n/a).

And just so you don't think I'm trying to pull a fast one on you, here's a snapshot of the step response for a common second order system:

Monday, May 11, 2009

A la Finale

Today after work I opened up an unfinished song from last year. I have the habit of writing a few measures of something just to hear the sound but rarely ever resolve it. So in the spirit of tying up loose ends, have a listen:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Paint the Town Yellow

As some of you may know, I do not particularly favor the game of paint ball - I'm much more of a Frisbee or ping pong player. Lately, I've played a few rounds with some friends just to "help out" and even up the teams. It is not in my nature to scramble through the trees in search of human targets while hopelessly avoiding future welts; however, it has come to my attention that I am lacking in the assertiveness department and as such, need some fine tuning. I suppose that paint ball is a good vehicle to face my weakness and embrace the call to arms, along with a few shots to the groin (see "take it like a man" blog entry). So here's me, keeping it real:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

You Can Do It

No doubt your parents or teachers have emphasized time and time again that if you put your mind to something, no matter how difficult, you can do anything. Might I suggest putting your mind to eating the biggest juiciest burger you can find and then try belching the entire alphabet (preferably in the privacy of your living quarters), and remember, practice makes perfect.

Acclaimed author, poet and playwright Oscar Wilde once wittingly remarked, "In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." My take on this phrase is that a "no pain no gain" mentality can help one to avoid contracting "social hernias" brought on from past regrets. In essence, it is imperative to understand and be willing at times to "take it like a man," especially when life gives you atomic lemons. But can this really be healthy? Of course, just as healthy as getting sucker punched or the age old character building experience of explosive diarrhea. But like all helpful advice, be prudent and act responsibly (e.g. do not operate heavy machinery whilst "taking it like a man").

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around

It has been said that 43% of Americans who undergo an unnecessary medical tests on a routine checkup. My trip to the doctor's office this week was not by any means a routine visit. So far and counting this has been the second time I was subjected to a CT scan and no they are not fun but the radiologist did say I had the strongest veins she'd ever worked on. It turns out that my symptoms of gnarly stomach spasms had nothing to with appendicitis (thankfully!) but rather a mixed bag of severe abdominal exertion and killer gas. That's right, the silent but deadly culprit is real and who knows the next time the villainy will strike again. The strangely funny thing about this experience was that I think I contributed to my distress by scrubbing down my entire apartment with the greatest of degree of detail over the weekend - how's that for wild and crazy?!?

So from now on, it's all about keeping myself from doing really stupid things.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


It's 85 degrees Fahrenheit here and the beach is so far! But even that didn't stop me from buying swimming trunks today. Ever since I got back from San Diego last week from my brother's wedding I have been craving Mexican food like no one's business and it just so happens that I live in the one part of the country more aloof and unaware of the glorious comestibles south of the border. While keeping my healthy addiction at bay may be a good thing, not feeding my taco-dependent body has been linked to the following symptoms:

Unexplained Rage
Taste Bud Revolting, and

Luckily I was able eat enough to avoid developing any of these symptoms, and instead experiencing:

Stretch Marks,
*Weight Gain, and
Complete Nirvana (thanks Rhys and Liz!)

* - Sadly effects are only temporary

My Calling Card

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ask and Ye Shall Recieve

I learned an enlightening truth recently: the weaknesses of our mortal bodies help us to appreciate the Savior's Atonement in taking upon himself the "pains and the sicknesses of his people," (Alma 7:11). In a very real sense I was awakened to just how true that scripture is and the power of availing blessings. Three weeks ago I was exercising in the gym - perhaps stretching a little aggressively - followed by several rehearsals and a concert of the Mozart Requiem. These "normal" activities somehow triggered a series of back pains that left me a rigid walking corpse until yesterday, as I laid in bed experiencing frightening back and leg spasms, and ultimately came to the aforementioned realization: Ask for priesthood blessings. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is a free and miraculous gift to all who seek comfort when all hope seems to fade.

In light of these circumstances and also remembering the fact that there sits a sparkly corporate medical benefits plan totally untouched atop the top shelf like a proverbial cookie jar, I stuck my hand in a pulled out a chiropractor visit. Today happened to be my first "adjustment" which is just a fancy way for saying man-handled by a fully licensed professional 'bent' on subluxation jargon. This is not a sugar coated experience by any means especially for first timers such as myself; however, it sure beats the alternative. I did learn one helpful tip that saved me quite a bit of sleep last night: sleep on the floor.

not on the stomach silly :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

To Bake or Not To Bake

It is written that if your eye should offend you, to pluck it out and cast it away. Well, just so happens that crumby bread is no exception. Last night I set the bread master to bake a delicious loaf of honey wheat goodness only to discover a hardened lump of gluten plastered to the inside of the bread machine. May this be a lesson to all: eye-balling a bread recipe is bad. very bad...

Precise measurements are crucial and great care should be taken to ensure correct ingredient amount, nigh unto the atomic weight. So I ended up making my regular pbj sandwich on butt bread today which tasted just like it sounds, though looking on the brighter side, I think I've invented a material more resilient than articular cartilage.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Stereos and Types of People Listening

I've been skimming through a book collection of funny jokes & quotes and came across a most rip roaring entry by John Molyneux published in the Bulletin:

"A minister was urged by his congregation to explain the difference between heaven and hell. 'They're not as different as you might think,' he said. 'In heaven, the British are the policemen, the Germans are the mechanics, the Swiss run the trains, the French do the cooking, and the Italians are the lovers. In hell, only minor changes take place. The Germans are the policemen, the French are the mechanics, the Italians run the trains, the British do the cooking, and the Swiss are making love.' "

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Moochas Smoochas por el Con-KISS-tador

I make it a point not to waste the readers time with trivial and unimportant matters. I shall therefore make mention of a fantastic study from Rutgers University involving the messages perceived by the brain from dynamic labia oris fusion (aka kissing). So what hidden meaning may the male cerebral cortex be processing during a romantic kiss? Besides the obvious, Helen Fisher reports that men may be monitoring estrogen levels, which would "let them know where the woman is in the fertility cycle." And from the female side, researchers believe they may be able to detect differences in immune system types, potentially identifying individuals with "complementary immunity leading to healthier offspring with a broad range of disease resistance." In the end, though, none of us really care because if the message you get back says this person had been chewing on garlic cloves like honey-nut cheerios, then amen to that kiss.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Crowd Control

Throughout the ages of mankind's rumble and tumble upon the earth, numerous methods have been employed for the scattering of mobs, protesters, and other mad herding bovine. Science continues to play a pivotal role in developing more "humane" ways to do the job and now the promise of "safe" dispersion is just around the bend. Coined the Active Denial System (ADS), this highly effective tool emits a beam with millimeter-wavelength to shock the stubbornness out of just any living organism. The weapon is reportedly "not painful, but rather makes the target feel as if his or her clothes are going to catch fire." The dawn of the ray gun has arrived - and I wonder why more kids don't want to study math and science.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Endicott Enquirer

Imagine you're all alone in a thicket of trees. Then all of a sudden, add shooting projectiles whizzing past your head and the adrenaline rush of an impala on an all-out sprint for its life and you get me playing my first game of paintball. Luckily I came out with less bruises than expected partly due to my ingenious strategy - concealing myself entirely behind trees by virtue of my naturally thin frame. To usurp the the rumor, paintball bruises do not hurt - granted they miss the groin, fingers and neck (in that order); however, one of our guys wasn't so lucky on exceptions-to-rumor # 1. Needless to say, I learn quickly from the mistakes of others. Next time I'm bringing a cup - or trash can lids.

I wore a tie to work and caused an office upheaval. Everyone was asking me if I had an interview or a big presentation that day but in fact I had just wanted to wear the new shirt, shoes and tie I got at a fantastic discount from Kohls. In the past two weeks I have spent a pretty penny at said department store acquiring new cooking ware and clothing among other fanciful yet utilitarian items. I am pleased when I find bargains and now that I have 'some' disposable income I can be a little less stringent from my college days of not buying anything that wasn't absolutely necessary* to keep myself alive (*not including Chipotle burritos).

The weather is beginning to smile upon the inhabitants of Binghamton. I hope there's enough time to enjoy the Spring foliage like the autumn colors of last October. Beauteous!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Celebration Time C'mon!

You've just dominated your opponent and now it's time for the victory dance. Yeah you! Your 5 minutes of fame has finally arrived. So go ahead and soak it up. You deserve it. Spend it lavishly, just like this guy:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

and the secret ingredient is ...

Salt. Good ole' crushed-up sodium chloride table salt. One 1/2 teaspoon of the magic powder will do wonders to pumpkin pie among other baked goods and without it the teased taste buds will rise up in rebellion as I found out yesterday.

For those that are unawares, I am a sunbeam teacher (ages 3-4?) in Sunday school and for two hours each Sunday I sing songs and teach the kids about Jesus and not about hitting each other. It's actually beginning to get better from only a few weeks ago when the kids would scream for Mommy or run around the room losing various articles of clothing along the way. I've found that the best way I can keep their attention is by playing my violin for them and bringing other interesting props. For example, I brought in a a piece of fruit to represent the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and got a little carried away:

In other news I bought a top-of-the-line Belgian waffle maker that oddly enough made me a smidgen giggly. I was about to buy some other cooking items like a huge wok or an earthshaking spatula but decided against it as their massive dimensions would serve me little purpose other than to clobber intruders. Though I suppose I could then restore them back to health with tasty waffles...

Monday, March 2, 2009

What makes you smile?

Today as I was walking between a forest of buildings I caught a midday glance of the outside world. I saw the sun and it painted a smile on my face. Maybe it's Old Man Winter but the perpetual gray skies that hang over Binghamton have zapped the zest of life out of me. Now I can't wait for Spring to arrive and then, Smokin' Lady Summer!

I watched the Sound of Music last weekend and found myself singing "Do Re Mi" all day long. That also made me smile. And did you ever realize what a babe Liezel was? Sure she's probably around my mother's age now but thanks to the gift of motion picture she is forever fine.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Motown Mochi

The popular Motown group The Contours, came through Binghamton this evening on a singing tour of the classic hits from yesteryear accompanied by an orchestra and rhythm section and it was certainly the most unique gig I think I've ever played. These guys shook the roof, thanks in part to modern-day amplifier technology, and did there own choreography all decked out in sparkly suits. We played hits from The 4 Tops, Miracles, and Temptations and it felt like opening a door to the sixties - not that I've been there or anything.

Earlier today I helped make some strawberry filled Mochi - a Japanese desert - with some friends and it was rich in flavor and texture. It also happens to be one of the messier foods to make. There must a direct correlation between the quality of foods and the amount of cleanup required afterward.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Laundering Monies

Did you know that Canadian quarters don't work in washing machines here in the states? For the last two months I have not been able to use the drying machine in my apartment complex on account of the jamming coin slot - which has made for a grand first northeast winter. Well turns out I just discovered a rogue coin from the north country in my laundry money. I can't help but wonder how much of this 'legal tough' has managed to infiltrate this country's laundromats over the years? And maybe that's the cause behind the economic turmoil; we've been using pesos! No, that's silly. I guess what I'm trying to say is next time a vending machine spits back at you, you best check for dubious dinars.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Eternal Perspective

It's February and getting closer to marking a year living here in upstate New York. I can't help but think about the future and where I see myself a year from now. Growing up as a child I always knew that following year I would progress to the next grade. Life was simple back then, relatively speaking. Plotting the course to pursue in life year-by-year was never a mystery to me, however, I'm discovering that the basic equations of life I used back then are beginning to unravel into arrays of abstract theories and disjointed proofs. To say it another way, I'm asking more the "why's" and "how's", not the "when's" and "where's".

All of this thinking has prompted me to remember to always keep an eternal perspective in all that I do. Having this beyond-line-of-sight can help clear the less-insignificant cobwebs and obstructions in life that creep up all around. It makes the little things each day worth living and the big things just that much more. In essence, having an eternal perspective helps one find joy in the journey.

My random thought for the day is brought to you by the letter A, as in air. Air has many stunning uses as you know and one of particular awesomeness is insulation. I guess everything is an insulator to some degree, but next time you unplug a current-happy cord from an electrical socket and sparks shoot out, think about how wonderful air is for keeping you safe from Mr. Zap and his ionizing buddies.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

FebCon 2009

This weekend I had the special opportunity to attend a YSA (young single adult) conference for my church held at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. The primary reason for these types of get-togethers is so that YSA's have the chance to meet and make lasting friendships. Often many will travel several hours (at least on the east coast) to attend these conferences. A spiritual theme highlights the various events and workshops; the theme for this conference was "Joy in the Journey." I was so impressed by some the talks that were given which covered: Spiritual Guidance in Adversity, Lifelong Learning and Interfaith Understanding.

Cornell is the kind of school that the typifies the movie 'Dead Poet's Society.' As I walked the corridors of the gothic-like construction I could almost hear the paintings on the wall of generations past chant "Carpe Diem" - or perhaps it was my stomach fond of a lunch break.

I had a blast, met a lot of new friends and even managed to get my groove on. One of the crazy activities Saturday night was a battle royal of Ice Soccer and it's pretty much what the name implies. Picture an ice rink, two goals, a soccer ball and ~30 people falling all over their rumps feverishly attempting to dribble the ball in street shoes. It's a miracle no one managed to crack their skull open but honestly I cannot remember the last time I had this much fun. Slide tackles and body checking were no strangers on the ice but rather a sense of the vertical. Needless to say we were all incredibly sore the next day in church - and there was much rejoicing...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

25 Not-So Admirable Professions (in no particular order)

The jury is in, and the verdict is FAIL for the following list of professions:

1) Professional Male Wrestling
2) Video game instructor
3) Anything to do with 'Adult Only'
4) Whoopee cushion manufacturer
5) Fake ID/Visa/Passport dealers
6) Sea Shepperd
7) Lumber jacking on protected land
8) Pimps & company
9) Anything to do with the Tobacco industry
10) Casino & online gambling
11) Spam mailers
12) Identity phishing
13) Mafia henchmen or other muscle for hire
14) Astrologer
15) Day trader
16) Bingo caller on a cruise ship
17) Lawyers (the kind that preys on the weaknesses of society)
18) Politician (the kind that is bought with the right price)
19) Professional beggars
20) Illegal immigration 'coyote' smugglers
21) Narcotics Dealer
22) Patent 'Whores'
23) Get-rich-quick scam artists
24) Weapons smuggling
25) Seal Clubbing

There ye be warned. But enough of the obvious, there are a myriad of jobs that fall in between the Admirable and Not-So Admirable spectrum. One of the many odd things about myself is my fascination with reading first-hand accounts of hilariously crumby jobs and laughing along. So with that, what's the worst job you ever had?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dallin vs. Dinner

The last few weeks have been part of my "what tastes good" dinner preparation experiment. My goal is to eventually have a 7-day meal plan where each entree is simple, tasty, and not exceeding an hour to prepare. So far many recipes have run the gauntlet of my kitchen though few ever surviving the 'nose' knows test. That's right, my nose is the most accurate sensory organ in my body, which draws no small attention to my unique dinner table etiquette. Call me strange but I keep a digital record of most successful dinner recipes for future reference. Just to showcase the past few days:

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

Missionary Surprise a la Polski (bread makes anything Polish - just ask my dad)

Balsamic and Garlic Chicken breasts

Chicken fingers with apricot sauce

Thursday, January 29, 2009

25 Admirable Professions (in no particular order)

Lately I've been thinking about people I admire which has led me to think about their chosen professions. Here's the list I compiled:

1) Snow Plowers
2) Rocket Scientists
3) Farmers
4) IT gurus
5) FDA scientists/quality assurance personnel
6) Firemen
7) Commercial Airline Pilots
8) Public Works - including Garbage men!
9) Music Teachers
10) Micro Drivers in Santiago, Chile
11) Surgeons
12) Policemen
13) Orchestra pit musicians
14) Beekeepers
15) Public School Teachers
16) Engineers
17) Air Traffic Controllers
18) Truck Driver
19) Dispatcher
20) Nurses
21) Military servicemen and women
22) Dentists
23) Supply Chain Managers - thanks Jared!
24) Chefs
25) Mothers

Next weeks list: 25 Not-so Admirable Professions

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

For the Good of the Company

I came across an insightful article written in November '08 and I would like to make mention of it just in case you missed the memo. In an effort to boost the declining birthrate in the country, Japanese companies are urging their committed employees to "go home, play with their children, and make more babies." I can see that albeit their efforts are not purely philanthropic, workers just don't grow on trees (especially the ones willing to work 7-day weeks). So next time an employee from the Nippon Oil Corp. calls in to say he'll be working from home that day - he ain't kidding! I can't help but wonder the last time a similar measure was encouraged in the annals of history? Any thoughts?

In other news, I cooked-up a fresh pot of homemade chicken soup last Saturday and then promptly seasoned it with salt & pepper and garden seasoning. Nothing. Then I added some garlic powder and cumin. Still no difference in taste. I have yet to deduce the root cause behind the mysteriously strong kick which now holds my soup captive though I have a general idea that it started with the thought, "hey, I have Cajun seasoning!" Luckily I discovered an easy fix to stomach said spicy stew: hearty servings of barbecue sauce.

Now that's a happy ending.