Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Things Trick or Treaters Say

There's something special about Trick-or-Treating.  I remember when I got old enough to go without my parents.  I'm pretty sure that my friends and I covered the entire city of Orem.  It was always so sad when people would start going to bed.  Didn't they know that my pillow case still had room?

Now that I'm oldie moldie, I enjoy being on the other side of the equation.  However, tonight, I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't even dress up.
Robyn is Mrs. Frizzle.  I decided I was a concerned citizen, because I voted early today.

Despite my lack of Halloween spirit in the dressing up department, I made up for it in the giving out candy department.  I made sure to get the good candies so the kids would think it was worth it to climb all the stairs to our porch.

The children repaid me by saying amusing things.  I tweeted some of the funny things they said, but for those who don't follow me on twitter, I have gathered them here for your amusement:

  • "Happy New Year! Wait! Oh! Aaah!" 
  • "White Kit Kat? I've never seen those before! You're the best!" 
  • "You have a lot of stairs"
  • (Heard from inside, before the doorbell rang.) "Hurry up! I'm gonna trick or treat without you!" 
  • (After pondering over the options in the bowl, and finally making a selection) "These aren't too bad." 
  • (From a child dressed as President Obama) "Don't vote for me!"
  • (From one of the kids in our Sunbeam class) "That's my teacher!"
  • (From another kid in our Sunbeam class) "I seen you before."

I hope you all had a Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Open Questions, Awkward Answers

Sometimes when teaching children, one method I've seen employed is what I term the, "guess the mind of the teacher" method.  This is where you ask an open ended question, but you have a "correct" answer in mind that you are trying to get the children to guess.  There's not necessarily anything wrong with this method.  However, I've noticed that sometimes an open ended question leads to a myriad of answers that you did not foresee.

For example, today we were in Sharing Time (this is where all of the Primary children of various ages get together to sing songs and have a lesson).  The woman who was giving the lesson put up a bunch of different pictures.
These are two of the pictures she put up.  (The top is Adam and Eve from the Bible, the bottom is Lehi and his family from the Book of Mormon.)
She asked the children what the different pictures had in common.  She was looking for something about prophets.  But, I'm pretty sure the answers she got were not quite what she was looking for:

  • "There are people in them."
  • "They are on the ground."
  • "The people have faces."
  • "The people are nice."

She might not have gotten what she was looking for, but it was far less awkward than a lesson we had a while back.  In this particular lesson, our Bishop had come in to teach the children.  He was teaching about how men get the priesthood and all members are able to receive blessings through the priesthood.  However, his open ended question was perhaps not as well thought out as it should have been.

He asked the children, "What is something that only boys have?  It starts with a P."  There were some kids who raised their hands as fast as they could, because they knew they had the answer to this one.  It turns out, there is a part of the male anatomy that starts with a P.  These children proudly declared it when called upon.

The Bishop did a good job of just moving on, but the awkwardness was palpable.

So, when asking open ended questions to small children, you may want to think about what all the possible answers are.

On second thought, don't.  It's funnier that way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fourth Anniversary

Robyn and I just had our fourth anniversary.  Four years doesn't seem like a very long time, but somehow I can't really remember what life was like without her.

We wanted to take some kind of short trip for our anniversary.  Robyn got two days off for fall break, so we didn't have tons of time.  We decided that the time we did have should be spent relaxing and not travelling.  Thus, we decided to go to the far off land of Midway.  (The little town on the other side of the mountains from us, not the little island halfway between Hawaii and Japan.)

We drove through the Alpine Loop, on the way there.  It is a little area that connects two canyons and takes you to some excellent vantage points to oversee the many colors of the trees as they change for autumn.
Many of the trees had already dropped their leaves, but I love the golden color sprinkled throughout.
Also, you should note that Robyn's classic pose remains the same, even though it is autumn.
On the way we saw this sign.  I like to take pictures like this, so that you can all know of the dangers we faced.

We didn't get through the entire loop, however.  We saw a sign that directed us to Midway.  So, we took a "shortcut".  It did turn out to be less miles, but I don't think we saved any time.  It turns out that you can go a lot faster on paved roads.  I kept worrying that the road would end at some private property or something, and we'd have to go all the way back and around.  But we did successfully get there, even though it was a bumpy ride.

We stayed in an awesome little resort called The Zermatt.  The Swiss style allowed us to pretend we were in Switzerland. (Which is our second favorite place on Earth behind Hawaii.)  Upon arriving, the first thing I noticed was that this accordion playing bear must have had debts with Jabba the Hutt.

We got up to our room, and it was super nice.  There was a fancy bed with billions of pillows.  (You should know of my love for pillows.  Some places are severely lacking, but this place was not.)  It even had a nice balcony type deck that we could go outside and enjoy the view.  Of course, the moment we went out on to our little deck, Robyn noticed this bug:
"That bug is ruining my relaxation!" - Robyn
I took her back inside, where she was safe from being touched by nature.

During our stay at the resort, our primary job was to relax.  But we did a few other things while we were there.

We played wizard's chess.

 finishing off the king after a checkmate

We went on some walks around the area.
We had to brave all sorts of dangers.
We went to the Crater, which is an underground hot spring that you can swim/float in.

We look super precious
This child kept looking down from the hole above us.  I kept waving at him and Robyn kept being embarrassed that I was waving.

We also got massages.  This is not pictured because A)We didn't bring our cameras to the spa and B)The massages involved nudity, which would be awkward.

But most importantly, we ate lots of good food.  This is not pictured because Robyn would be embarrassed to have me admit how many pictures I took of food over our short little vacation.

It was a short, but very relaxing trip.  Happy Anniversary my love! (If you are not my love, you don't have to read that last sentence.  But you are welcome to, if you like.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

De Liebster Award

My little bro, Justin nominated me for the De Liebster award. (See his nomination here.)  It's not really an award, but it's one of those blogging games where you answer questions posed by the other person.  Apparently, it means "dearest" in German.  That is because I am dear to the Germans.  (Even though, I generally prefer the Austrian way of doing things over the German way.)

Here are the basic rules to the game.
  1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
  2. Answer the questions the nominator asked, and create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
  3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post. Go to their page and tell them.
  4. No tag-backs.

(But rules are made to be broken, right?)

Eleven Things About Myself
1.  I like to read, a lot.  I have always loved science fiction, but over the last few years I've tried to branch out into a number of different genres.

2.  I love bacon with all of my heart and soul.

3.  I have an amazing wife.  I love her even more than bacon.

4.  I once camped out for 5 days to get tickets for Star Wars Episode 1.  That was during my senior year of high school.  I skipped school except for one day that I had a test.  I had an alarm clock in my tent so that I could wake up on time.

5.  I am a Mormon.  I know it.  I live it.  I love it.

6.  I served as a missionary for my church for 2 years.  Star Wars Episode 2 came out while I was on my mission.  When all the people were lined up and camping out, I wanted to go contact them.  My companion was much too frightened.  He said he didn't want to talk to the Star Wars crazies.  I told him I had done that before my mission.  His response:  "I know, that's my point."  Thanks for the love.

7.  My amazon wish list is always up to date.  I am always accepting presents.

8.  I love the mountains.  I love the cool air, and I love to be close to nature.

9.  When I was little, I was apparently too loud.  My Dad told me to stop yelling.  However, he assured me that I could yell as much as I want when I'm in the mountains.  My grandparents live in a little town nestled in the canyon.  The next time we were at their house, it seemed to me we were in the mountains.  But I asked my grandma, "Are we in the mountains?"  I just needed to make sure.  However, my grandma was a bit perplexed when my volume suddenly went way up.  I'm not sure if she was in full support of my Dad's opinion on the issue.

10.  I love the ocean.  I love how it teams with life.  I love how I can float, relax, have fun, snorkel, or swim.  It's hard to decide whether I like mountains or ocean better.

11.  I'm obsessed with numbers.  I spend most of sacrament meeting manipulating the hymn numbers in my head.  I have to figure out what numbers they are divisible by, what I would need to add or subtract to make them into palindromes and other strange manipulations.  Also, it's important that my food be microwaved at an amount of time that is divisible by 3.

1. Favorite mystical/mythical animal?
I'm gonna have to go with Cthulhu.  He is a being dreamed up by H.P. Lovecraft.  His face is like an octopus, with giant leathery wings.  He calls out to unsuspecting victims who are eventually driven mad.

Plus, he's the cutest toy I own.  (My wife gets annoyed that I always take him on vacation with us.  Who would want to be without Cthulhu?)

P.S. I don't know if Cthulhu counts as mythical.  If not, I'll go with dragons.  (Clearly)

2. Favorite place
Hawaii. More specifically, the north shore of Oahu.  More specifically, Shark's Cove. (But Sunset Beach is a close second.)

3. Most random childhood memory
I just picked the first one I though of.

 When my sister Jen was going into 4th grade, she had heard terrible things about her new teacher, Mrs. Bennett. Naturally, the first thing she realized was that nothing could be worse than having to attend fourth grade with such a terrifying teacher.

The plan? We decided to break her leg. She employed me to jump up and down on her leg over and over. Unfortunately (or fortunately, in hind sight) I was not mighty in stature like I am today, and did not successfully break her leg. She had to face the great terror that is Mrs. Bennett, and she became her favorite teacher.

4. What is something about yourself that you're proud of?
I was pretty proud of myself when I was published in the Ensign. (The professional publication of my church)

5. What is something awesome about yourself that I may not know?
I wrote the software for the LDS church that parses through all the talks in the Ensign that are posted online.  This software detects scripture references in the talk and turns them into links to that scripture.  So, every time you click on a link to a scripture on, that is me.  You're welcome.

6. Favorite number.
42. That was obvious. Although I'm also partial to palindromes and numbers divisible by 9.

7. What are your feelings on the matter of cheese?
Do you really have to ask?  When I was in Paris, I couldn't decipher the menus at all.  But it didn't matter, I just looked for anything that had "fromage" (cheese in French) and I knew it would be good.

8. Favorite book or series, if not possible favorite genre.
My favorite novel is Dune by Frank Herbert.  Although, the rest of the series is not nearly as good as the first book.

9. A quote you love?
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

It has been attributed to Nelson Mandela, it has also been attributed to Marianne Williamson.  I don't know who the true source is, but it's an excellent quote.

10. Someone you look up to in history
I would probably say George Washington.  It's amazing how there were so many instances in his life where he should have died, but somehow he survived.  I firmly believe he was protected by God, to help found the United States.  In fact, an Indian chief who had fought against him in the French and Indian war, later told him, "a power mightier far than we shielded you. Seeing you were under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you. "

Even more amazing is that the people loved him so much, he could have been King.  But he wanted true freedom much more than power.

11. Someone you admire in present day?
I'm not trying to make this post political, but the person that first came to mind was Mitt Romney.  I've been studying his life as I've been trying to decided how to vote.  Regardless of how you feel about his politics, he has lead an amazing life.

He had an employee whose daughter had gone to New York and disappeared.  Mitt Romney flew everyone in that company to New York, at his own expense, to help find this girl.  He also closed down several of his other companies in the New York area to put together a team of people.  They found the girl in a basement with a drug overdose.  They were able to save her life, but she would have died if they had waited any longer.

Another time he went into a VA hospital.  He asked the administrator what their greatest need was.  The administrator said that they just couldn't afford milk.  For the next several years, they received milk for free.  Paid for by an anonymous donor.  Eventually the milkman fessed up that it was Mitt Romney.

There are a number of other stories about his generosity and service of others.  Learning about him has made me want to be a better person.

What about the other rules of the game?  Tagging others and giving them questions?
I don't want to tag anyone.  Justin has already nominated everyone in my family who writes regularly.  But if any of you dear readers would like to take the ball and run with it, I officialy nominate you for the De Liebster Award.  And for my questions, I would like to officially reuse Justin's questions that I just answered.  They were good ones, don't you think?  (Like I said, rules are made to be broken.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Texting Klingons

I already shared this on facebook, but I felt the rest of you needed to see this awesomess.

You see, I was with Dave, one of my coworkers, at the gym.  But Robyn texted me to let me know she had swung by my work.  Naturally,  I let her know that we were on our way.

As we were driving back, Dave and I were having a pretty serious conversation.  That's when Robyn texted me her response: "Klingon."

What?  I was so confused I started giggling.  What does that even mean?

Of course, when she let me know that she was just trying to text "kk", the explanation was even more amusing than the confusion.

The phone just knows that Klingons are awesome.

From now on, "Klingon" will be the response to any text I receive.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I have an iPhone 5

I now own an iPhone 5.  It's been with me a little over a week.  It has brought me great joy and happiness.  The thing I find most surprising is that I've been able to live 31 years without owning an iPhone 5.  But, luckily, I survived, and I no longer have to rough it in a world where I lack an iPhone 5.  (I'm still roughing it in a world where I don't own Google glasses, and I haven't seen The Hobbit Movie, but those are issues that I'm still trying to deal with.)

I got up at 3 AM the morning it went on sale for preorder.  It went on sale at 1 AM, but by 3 when I ordered it, it was already on back order.  I only got it a week after everyone else, so I didn't die.

Now I know what you're thinking, "Jeff, you already had an iPhone.  What is your deal?  Why do you need to get up at 3 for a new one?  Also, how do you feel about The Hobbit movie being a trilogy?"

Well, thanks for asking about The Hobbit.  I'm a little concerned that there isn't enough material for 3 movies, but I trust Peter Jackson to make it awesome.  As for the iPhone, there are a few important things you need to know.

1. My iPhone 4 didn't have Siri.  Siri is one of my new loves.  (She falls right behind Robyn and bacon.)
2. I can sell my old iPhone for about what it cost to buy a new iPhone (since they are cheaper when you renew a contract.)  So why would I not upgrade?
3. My wife has an iPhone 4s.  I feel sad when her phone is fancier than mine.  This issue is now remedied.
4. Look how happy I look with my new phone.

If you want to know how that happiness came to be, here is my experience opening the box.

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