Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mud Running

Okay, I guess I'll blog now.

I'll let you go ahead and head over to Amy's blog to see more pictures, but I ran the Dirty Dash this past weekend up in Midway. I ended up running into a few people from Irvine at the packet pick-up that were also running it. One of the girls I hadn't seen since high school, and Casey asked me if I was running it with anyone else. I thought I would be, but turns out that the only person that I knew that was running it would be running much later than I was. Hopefully next time around I can get some more interest.

The run ended up being much harder than I expected it to be. There was a lot of elevation change, and there was a pretty extensive deep mud section where I had to pick up my feet a lot. The next few days after I was much more sore following this race than I had been after any of marathon training runs.

This is my race review: few aid stations, not enough obstacles, no race photography except for the very end, should be run in June instead of September, great participants, huge slip and slide was my favorite, the mud put at the end was really great, mostly a pretty good race.

Next one is a 5k in May. Are you in?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Round-Up

In high school I was signed up for this surveying company that tested consumer response to a number of different products. Whenever they were testing my demographic I would get called in to try something and they would pay us cash for filling out a five minute survey. It was always pretty awesome for a teenager to get paid $30 for his thoughts on eating a chicken sandwich. That would be pretty awesome for me now, actually.

Anyway, this morning I was kind of realizing that I'm currently signed up for a bunch of things that give me pretty good access to free or heavily discounted things, and I know that I have some readers who might appreciate some of this stuff (if you know of anything, hit me up in the comments):
  • In the Utah area there is this text/email service that sends out a daily notification about an eatery that offers some great discount on a dining experience. It used to be called the Daily Skweez and was only offered around here, but it appears to have expanded (Boise and Lubbock, TX) and dropped the "Daily" and now is just called Skweez. They have one that fits my likes at least once or twice a week. Go here to try it.
  • This one is getting pretty big everywhere, but it's worth touting anyway - Groupon. How it works is they feature some daily deal as well and offer some coupon worth 50% off or more the regular price, provided that a set number of people buy into the day's Groupon. This week I bought a set of 4 movie tickets that have to be used within 90 days for $20, so that includes IMAX and evening showings of just about everything. Last week I got concert tickets for $7 to see Neon Trees which would have gone for $16 or more. They have awesome deals though, sometimes as much as 80-90% off stuff. They have this for all major cities. Go here to try it.
  • These two are similar - Gilt and Jack Threads. Gilt is a site that features daily sales on different high end clothing brands for both men and women. Jack Threads is for guys and features streetwear kinds of stuff. Gilt has really awesome deals, but it's for expensive items to begin with, so it'll have 50% or more off of items that are hundreds and even thousands of dollars. If you're vigilant though, you can find some pretty awesome stuff. A few weeks ago I was able to get a Maui and Sons anniversary t-shirt for $15 that normally goes for $40. If I would have seen the sale earlier, I could have gotten this Hugo Boss suit that I have been looking at for awhile now, MSRP $800, going for $388. The good stuff goes quickly, so you have to keep your eye out for it, but for guys at least, they have stuff from Hugo Boss, CK, Diesel, John Varvatos, and the like for awesome prices. I decided that when I grow out of my t-shirt phase and have a real salary, I'll do some wardrobe upgrading there. Jack Threads doesn't often have stuff I like, but this week they did feature RVCA and E's and Matix, so there is potential there.
  • And then there are all the Backcountry affiliates that most people know about that always have good deals on something - Whiskey Militia, Steep and Cheap, and all the others that you'll find linked on either of those websites. Each of them caters to a specific crowd, so you can find stuff for cyclists, MXers, skiers/snowboarders/surfers, basically anything kind of extreme/edgy.
  • This one I just signed up for - Mystery Guest. I imagine in big metro areas you'll have more offerings, but this one is what it sounds like: sign up to be a mystery shopper/diner, fill out a survey of your experience, and get some kind of reimbursement for it. You can sign up and accept or decline whatever assignments you want, follow the list of guidelines, and then they pretty much comp you for it. The one they have right now is for Cheesecake Factory, which I'm really excited about. They're just asking for 2 or more people to sign up, eat, observe a few things, fill out a survey by the next morning, and then they give a $40 gift card. Cool, right?
So that's all kind of fun stuff. Wanna another link? So I have a site meter for this blog, and it gives me the low down on who is coming here, how they get here, how much time is spent here, and then where they go. (Yes, I have a pretty good idea of who my individual visitors are. I'm looking in your direction, Waltons.) Anyway, someone earlier this week was referred to my blog through what I thought was a really interesting idea - We Feel Fine. This is their mission statement:
We Feel Fine is an exploration of human emotion on a global scale.
Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved.

The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 - 20,000 new feelings per day. Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices, offering responses to specific questions like: do Europeans feel sad more often than Americans? Do women feel fat more often than men? Does rainy weather affect how we feel? What are the most representative feelings of female New Yorkers in their 20s? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? What were people feeling on Valentine's Day? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so on.

The interface to this data is a self-organizing particle system, where each particle represents a single feeling posted by a single individual. The particles' properties – color, size, shape, opacity – indicate the nature of the feeling inside, and any particle can be clicked to reveal the full sentence or photograph it contains. The particles careen wildly around the screen until asked to self-organize along any number of axes, expressing various pictures of human emotion. We Feel Fine paints these pictures in six formal movements titled: Madness, Murmurs, Montage, Mobs, Metrics, and Mounds.

At its core, We Feel Fine is an artwork authored by everyone. It will grow and change as we grow and change, reflecting what's on our blogs, what's in our hearts, what's in our minds. We hope it makes the world seem a little smaller, and we hope it helps people see beauty in the everyday ups and downs of life.
Check it out. It's kinda neat.

As is customary for this blog, I'll leave you with some music. When I was in my pit of despair a couple weeks ago not sleeping, I realized that I was way down on some of my 80s favorites. Back in the day, freshman year, my friends Laura and Brenna went and saw Depeche Mode which I thought was really funny, that is, until I was downloading a bunch of music and realized that I kind of love Depeche Mode. I was wrong for making fun of you, Laura.

So, Enjoy the Silence:

Incidentally, just one more offering...I used to use GoMusic for downloading music (9 or 15 cents a pop), but I've since switched to Legal Sounds. They have more music, it's cheaper, you get more free music, and it's better quality than GoMusic.

And with that, have a wonderful weekend, dear ones!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Right Back Where We Started From

It’s funny how often I feel like I’m saying “thank you” or some variation on “everything’s gonna be alright” in the course of my blog. I think I have a dozen different posts that incorporate some variations on this theme. If I’m so consistently grateful and optimistic, then I’ve got at least some things figured out, right?

It’s also funny how one event can influence the demeanor of a whole broad range of thoughts and emotions, such that everything just seems to be great. How is school? Great. How is work? Long, but great. How is marathon training? Okay, you got me there, but then again, I might still say great just because it’s actually over for all intents and purposes.

Last week I was running along University Avenue up towards Provo Canyon and I was feeling really inspired to write, just stories, really. What inspired me specifically? A dog carcass. Saw it two weeks ago, and then I saw it’s at least one week decayed remains still stinking up the gravel trail that I traverse. I was just generally feeling motivated to pick up a number of projects, writing being one of them, but the main theme of all of the projects being just the generally conveying of some message and delivering a story. I’m really fascinated by this and have been for quite a while now.

Things that I’m excited about right now:

  • The Dirty Dash this Saturday
  • BYU football with Cougar Club privileges
  • Modern Family
  • Halloween and all things pertaining to it, which includes costumes, haunted houses, Thriller by the Odyssey dance company, candy, scary stories, and my annual Stephen King novel (this year’s selection being It)
  • Seeing Dave and Caitlin and Mason next week
  • Trying to compartmentalize work, school, spiritual, and personal life better
  • General Conference
  • Shifting into my jeans and t-shirts fall attire from my shorts and t-shirts summer attire
  • The November elections and the taking back of the House by the GOP and the pushback against over-reaching government forces, and more specifically, The Pledge

And so on. I even already posted Bob Marley's Three Little Birds a couple of months ago. I was going to post Naughty by Nature's song Everything's Gonna Be Alright, but I'm afraid that song my upset your sensitivities, so you're going to get something different altogether. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010


Thank you thank you thank you, to everyone who reads this and even to those who don't. I can't believe the amount of support that I have from the people around me. It really is so neat to issue a cry for help (because let's face it, that's what that last blog post was about) and then to feel such a warm response from the people around me. Thanks for the calls, the texts, the chats, the comments, and just your time and concern. I feel so very loved.

This weekend ended up being about what I expected it to be. I'm on an alternating sleep/no-sleep schedule, but not so much out of sadness, just thinking. I can't get myself to stop thinking, so I spend one night awake for most of the night thinking, and by the time the next night comes, I pretty much just crash. It's not so bad really, but I wonder how much it's slowing down my recovery from running 22 miles on Saturday (which went well, thanks for asking).

It's kind of a weird thing to be so well acquainted with a specific kind of pain and sorrow. I was counting up the number of break-ups I have had over the years and I think that there have been about 10 or so that I'd qualify as actual break-ups, and not just walking away from a misguided relationship. They basically fall into two categories, 1) the awful, horrific, earth-shattering kind that leaves you writhing in agony on the floor, the blinds drawn, with Celine's All By Myself humming in the background, and 2) the dull constant throbbing that follows closely your heart beat and ebbs and flows when something reminds you of that person, but is manageable. There were three of the first variety all with Becca, and others scattered here and there with others. The thing about breaking up when I'm 30 v. when I'm 22 or even 25 is just how much all my prior experience helps to guide me through the process. Anyway, nowadays, breakups don't really fall into the first category anymore. They're something that I think I've learned to deal with quite well.

I guess I'd compare it to getting the same kind of injury over and over, or suffering through a certain kind of illness or disease repeatedly. The pain and suffering might feel the same, but all that prior experience lets you know that not only are you going to survive through it and the pain will subside, but that life goes on and full recovery is available if you just give it a little bit of time. Knowing all of that makes the whole thing much more manageable. Everyone has gotten the flu, and while it always sucks to feel so crappy, you also know what foods you like, the medicines that you prefer, and you get through it. Above all, you know the prognosis, and you know that better days are ahead.

I guess it's pretty obvious, but it's still interesting to me that there are just certain people that everyone has for seeking comfort. This time around has been different than other times for me. Dave is always my #1 go to person, but I've also been able to rely on a few different people that I never have before, and I've just been so grateful for them and their listening ears and well thought out advice. Some people can say certain things and because it's that person speaking from his or her particular experience, their advice feels so wise, whereas other people saying similar things just feels so hollow.

What's been really cool is going through this experience with my new roommates and realizing just how awesome they are. One roommate in particular is just wonderful. He's such a funny combination. He's in the military, rides a Harley, goes fishing and camping all of the time, but is a male nurse. And I just love it when he introduces himself as such, "it's Shay, the male nurse." He's super funny, and I never realized this until the last few weeks of living with him, but he is so naturally geared toward being sympathetic and compassionate, that the nurse thing actually feels just so perfectly fitting. I am so glad to get to know him and become better friends with him.

In any case, I'm just so grateful to know the people I know, and I'm grateful for the experiences I'm having. In spite of whatever ups or downs I have in my life, I absolutely know that God is aware of me and is providing a path that marks the way to much fulfillment and lots of happiness.

I went to my bishop last week just for some counsel, but also to ask for a blessing with the intent of having my pain alleviated. And at one point in our conversation before I even asked for a blessing, he said, "I wish I could just lay my hands on your head and remove the pain that you're feeling, but pain is part of the process," and with that, I've felt content to allow the pain to persist. I think, for me, I usually spend so much time trying to avoid and rid myself of pain that I have almost entirely forgotten how valuable it can be as a teacher. What is it that C.S. Lewis said, "the pain now is part of the happiness then...that's the deal." I know that's true, and somehow remembering that it's not only something to be escaped but to be understood helps to make it all the more manageable.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sleepless in Provo

Everyone has their own way of dealing with emotional trauma. I was talking to a friend tonight and she was telling me that she starts off by having a long ugly cry with her mom, then watches the six hour version of Pride and Prejudice, eats any and every potato chip available, and mails it in with school/work until she feels like she can see the sunlight again.

For me, I lose my appetite and I just don't sleep. Usually I want to be around other people. I'll talk out my feelings until I feel like I've exhausted my friends with the subject, and then I'll just take every opportunity I can to be around other people. If that can't happen, then TV and movies get me through the day. That becomes my way of numbing myself. The last several years exercise has become another outlet for me.

Another friend was over at my place tonight and she was talking about how people will use disorders/addictions as their own coping mechanisms. People naturally need to process emotions, but when they can't, they resort to other dysfunctional behaviors as a way of staving off the emotions that they're facing.

The best way, I think, to cope comes through relationships. We learn to rely on those around us for succor, whether it be family or friends. People need people, and then, most importantly, people need to learn to foster their relationship with God.

I think I've covered the spectrum in searching for my coping mechanisms. My reaction to my worst breakup was watching tons of TV, not sleeping, and not eating. It got to the point where I was just feeling lethargic and kind of sick all of the time so I went and saw a doctor. She told me that I was anemic, and then asked me if I was going through anything at that time. When my mom had her difficulties, I learned to rely on my brother and the Reids very heavily. Dave has always been my greatest resource in this manner.

Anyway, so tonight I've been dealing. I said some prayers, talked with a few friends, but mostly just laid in my bed for the last 5 hours thinking about how things have arrived at this point. These are my conclusions for what's in store this weekend - there will be some movie watching, lots of running, lots of talking, and lots of calling on the powers of heaven to help me figure this out. At 5:30 in the AM, I think I'm just starting to get a grasp of how to move next. And it's nice to finally feel like there are some ways to assert myself and not feel completely powerless.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Just a Dream

Hey adoring fans. I just have not been that interested in blogging lately. I think it's mostly because I just feel like I'm too busy for it, or that if I devote any amount of time to it, it means that I'm taking away valuable time that I should be dedicating to the other pursuits I have ongoing.

This is how my time is supposed to break down these days:

20 hours (COB)+4 hours travel time (min.)+20 hours (psych department for internship coordinator)+5-10 hours (research assistantship)+7.5 hours (field study)+15-20 hours (thesis work)=64-74 hours a week.

And that doesn't take into account my bowling class, calling stuff, running, and Amy time, and Chris time.

Fortunately, I can overlap on a good number of those hours, but still, that's pretty busy, right? So while I'm still reading a good amount of stuff, and trying to keep up with everything, blogging is definitely taking a backseat these days to everything else. I might be able to squeeze something out during my lunch hour at the COB, but that might be a stretch too. I haven't had any hours there yet this week so that contributes partly to my lack of blogging.

Here's the latest: just got back from Vancouver, Canada on a fun little trip with Amy to visit her digs. Now I'm just trying to get in my last hard training week for St. George, still trying to finalize housing there, and otherwise just trying to keep my head above water.

Two things I want you to check out in the meantime - this piece of awesomeness from Arcade Fire. And then this comeback song from Nelly. Remember him? I kinda missed him.