Monday, February 28, 2011

Viva, Las Vegas!

Nobody took pictures. I'm sure that's appalling to Amy and the rest of the Waltons, but I promise you, it's not that uncommon for a lot of people. We still went, I promise.

Let's see, here's the brief recap: Arrive Friday afternoon to have lunch at Hash House A Go Go (not sure where all the hyphens are in there, so I'll leave it alone). Several of us had chicken and waffles, while two of those several decided not to let the other two know that one plate is probably big enough for three full-sized adults. A couple of the guys had to finish up some work so that afternoon we just kind of hung out in what turned out to be a massive suite on the top floor of the Flamingo.

We slept 8 very comfortably, and it could have probably been about 20-25 pretty comfortably. We went bowling at the Gold Coast Casino which features 60 bowling lanes. I was pretty on from the start, bowling 151 and then 195. While I'm pleased that my bowling is consistent, I'd like to break 200 again really soon. I keep getting on the precipice, but I refuse to go over for some reason.

Dinner that night=pizza=pretty satisfied, for both dinner and breakfast the next day, and maybe a pre-sushi snack the next day. Some people might think that's gross, but I think it's kind of awesome.

Some of the guys hit the dollar blackjack tables, and some of us just kind of wandered back and forth watching the other guys play. Gambling is so funny to me. I can definitely see the appeal, but I get too easily addicted to things, plus I don't think I'm risk averse enough to not do my bank account some pretty serious damage. Looks fun though.

I went for a run on the strip Saturday morning. Know what? Turns out, running the strip at 8am is probably one of my favorite runs. I was going to go out and run 20 minutes out, and then 20 minutes back, but it was so interesting to me that I just kept on going. Ran for an hour which is about 7-8 miles for me. Running the strip in the morning is awesome for the following reasons, A) it's basically empty at 8am, B) there are walkways over all of the roads so you never really have to stop, C) Vegas, for all of the traffic and general dirtiness (especially at night) is actually a pretty darn clean place during the day, and D) there are so many visual sights that it's easy to just look at everything without even realizing you're running. Plus, there are lots of stairs and TONS of other people are out running in the morning. It was just nice, and a good way to tour the interesting parts of the city.

We caught the BYU/SDSU game at the Bellagio sports book. I didn't have the unerring faith that Mike Reid had, but the Cougars pulled it out with a really impressive victory. Hopefully that is a sign of things to come during the Madness to come.

Afterward, I bought Risk (not entirely sure what inspired that) and we played a couple of games back at the hotel. None of us could really remember how the setup, or how exactly to play, so our first game was unusually short and our second game was unusually long, but it was a lot of fun. Dave was the winner* of Game 1 and I was the Game 2 winner*. We took a break in Game 2 to get sushi at one of our favorite places. It was wonderful, but as is always the case with these all-you-can-eat places, I had WAY too much sushi. It was all good stuff this time, fortunately, but just too much.

More than anything, I just love my friends. My guy friends from home are just awesome and funny, and more loyal than you could ever imagine. They're smart, fun, and just good-hearted people. I think I am the luckiest person to have the people that are in my life.

*Games 1 & 2 can only loosely be called Risk since the variations involved created a lot of distortion from the true version.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gender Differences

"Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."
That comes from the Proclamation to the World on the Family put out by the Church 15 years ago. While in California, I had an interesting conversation with Amy about some of the work I'm doing up here. I was listening to some interviews and some people expressed dismay over why the Church doesn't do more to support the Girl Scouts like it does the Boy Scouts. (Turns out, it has a lot to do with the platforms that the Girls Scouts supports, namely that it is an advocate of same-sex political positions. I didn't know that when we were talking about it then, however. I only just found that out a second ago after looking it up.)

Anyway, the conversation turned toward how some people were upset about how the Girl Scouts don't offer all the same activities and program that the Boy Scouts do, and there is something wrong with that. Amy was advocating that there are some really great things about being female, but that it's a hard concept to explain to some people, and particularly those with different values, namely, equality in every respect of the world at the expense of disregarding those unique characteristics .

I like that line from the Proclamation on the Family. I think that was part of the problem with Sister Julie Beck's talk in conference a few years ago about Mothers Who Know. People didn't like how much it pigeon-holed women into the role of mothers. I don't really want to get into the particulars of that talk, however.

I mention all of this because I came across this article on ESPN about a young man who chose not to wrestle a young woman in the state championship. I'm assuming that the guilty parties misspoke when they were trying to explain their reasoning, or maybe they've just been misrepresented by the writer. The writer points out that if it was to preserve the girl's safety, then they are flawed in their reasoning. This is what the father of the boy said about the incident:
"We believe in the elevation and respect of woman," the father told the Des Moines Register, "and we don't think that wrestling a woman is the right thing to do. Body slamming and takedowns -- full contact sport is not how to do that."
I think that's a different point than what Reilly was getting at. There are some fundamental differences between men and women. This wasn't about discrediting a woman's wrestling abilities, or whether she can take a beating, but it seems more just about wanting to preserve the sanctity of a woman by not competing against her in what is intended to be a violent sport.

I don't really have the time now to fully articulate my thoughts, but I'm just going to let that sit and percolate with you for a bit. This is mostly about how people pass judgment on others assuming that they are operating from the same value systems as their own. This point is central to the debate about same-sex issues. and this is also at the heart of this instance as well.

Just thinking out loud.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Home Is Wherever I'm With You

Have you guys seen this?

Adorable, right? One of my old roommates would play that song every night. Every night. I miss that guy.

Here's the recap:

Home was quite a whirlwind trip. Amy got her dress. Somehow I got a tuxedo. We didn't find ties, but I think we've got a potential source. There were lots of games, fittings, and Mexican Coca Cola. I ran 8 miles on Saturday and it was just PERFECT outside. Just perfect. I can't believe how much I love running down there. I'm excited for running season to come up again. Yup, I'm there. The weather was cool, it rained a lot on our drive down, and a little while we were there, but in spite of not being typical Southern California weather, it was still better than everything that was had here in Utah. I love the Reids. My dad and his wife were incredibly generous with everything over the weekend. My mom is a sweetheart. And I think I want to steal Mason. And Kathryn (sp?) too. So cute. And the boys, Ryan and Tyler. Those little guys are just fun. Ryan has achieved self-awareness and now gets embarrassed about things. My niece is also really cute. Maybe just all kids are cute.

Vegas is coming up this weekend, and Amy has her bridal shower.

If you know of anyone that wants us to move into their place for freezies, we're all ears. Or if we could even just be pointed to a decent place in Pleasant Grove, that would be nice too. Or anywhere for that matter. That's been kind of an issue lately. That's all for now. Much love.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Coming Home

This song seems appropriate for this weekend:

This morning I was doing some reading and marveling to myself how amazing language is. The thought came up as I was reading about stress and how it affects our physiology blah blah blah, but I noticed a missing quotation mark, and it just blew my mind - not only can someone whom I've never met communicate to me really complex ideas, but if that person happens to be a good writer, I can also understand the nuances, subtleties, tones, and the like with every well-placed punctuation mark or correctly chosen word. It's amazing, isn't it?

You know what else is nice? I could not be one iota/unit/quantity/bit/other-vague-term-of-measurement more content with my situation in life. I have an amazing fiancee, single friends, couple friends, married friends, family, prospective family and I just can't believe how fortunate I am to have the people I know in my life. I have awesome work/school/professional opportunities. There is just a lot to be grateful for and excited about.

Tell the world I'm coming home.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gas Is Expensive

I wonder when the rising cost of gasoline will start to become an issue again, and how President Obama will react to the surge in prices. Some of this may have to do with the furious printing being done by the US Treasury. I wonder if any of this has to do with the sudden instability in Egypt and what that is doing about speculation as it relates to the unrest that is generally occurring in the Middle East. President Bush opened up the moratorium on drilling and gases prices responded quickly, but will Obama do the same? Or will he push for the alternative energy that he's so fond of? Anyway, found it on this pretty cool website, here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What Time Is It? Valentime's!

When I'm conducting quorum meetings, I'll usually ask a introductory question to have everyone kind of warm up a bit and so people can just hear individuals share something in the quorum. This past Sunday I asked them about their favorite Valentine's day memories. I was really surprised that so many of the guys were so negative in their perspectives about el dia de San Valentin. Want to know my feelings on the day? Go here, here, or here, if you had any questions about my feelings on it. Or read the rest of this post.

The lamest response, "I don't like being told/feeling obligated to have a day to tell someone that I love them," or some other variation on that line. It is such a cop-out. Such a cop-out. Oh, you know what else I hate? Christmas. I hate that someone made up a day to celebrate the birth of the Savior. We should just remember it every day, and celebrate it everyday. Right? I told Amy about what the guys were saying and she had the same exact response. I just love her.

Anyway, it's just good to have time set aside to celebrate what is probably the most important of all human emotions and expressions. Fortunately, I'm pretty well practiced in expressing my feelings and taking advantage of Valentine's day for just such expressions.

Yesterday was nice. It came together rather quickly once I finally decided on my plan, but it required me running around from the minute my class was done up until the time that the plans actually came to fruition. It included stops at Costco, Macey's, Robert's, Hallmark, and the mall. It required marinating, baking, and grilling. And it ended all smiles. (We even dropped by the dance that our stake put on for a little bit. I just love that Amy is so fun that way. Last night I finally realized, when she mentioned it, that we'll need to take full advantage of chaperoning the youth dances when we're in the family ward. Can't wait.)

An aside: I can't tell you how much I love my grill. It's got so much space, it cooks (mostly) evenly, and it's just so easy compared to a charcoal grill. You can't beat the ease and clean up of the gas grill. Merry Christmas to me! And whomever else is the beneficiary of my recently acquired grill skills. The featured recipe? Stole this one from a friend.

Know what else is fun? I'm sure it's the same everywhere, but it's just fun to see so many guys out and about getting flowers. In just about every car that I was driving by, some guy was carting some amount of flowers along with him. Just great.

Well that is all. I hope you all took advantage of Valentine's day.

Xoxo! And I still just love this clip:

Friday, February 11, 2011

One Man's Struggle To Take It Easy

(Link) View more Ferris Buellers Day Off Sound Clips and Matthew Broderick Sound Clips
Did you know that's the tagline (post title) for Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Pretty clever, isn't it? That is easily one of my favorite movies and the last time I saw it is one year and one week ago from tomorrow. It was my first date with Amy.

It's so crazy to me how quickly things move and how much time unfolds right in front of my own eyes. A year ago we first started going out, and in five weeks we'll be getting married. Crazy.

We went to our last ward temple night in this ward yesterday at the Mt. Timpanogas temple, and it was so fun to see the temple where we're going to be shooting our bridals and groomals in a couple weeks, and in just over a month, where we'll actually be getting married.

I just can't believe how close it is.

Amy already has a buyer for her contract, and I just posted mine this morning. There's still a good amount of stuff to figure out, but I think we've been able to make good steady progress with everything as D-day approaches. Next weekend we'll be in California picking up her dress, the following weekend I'll be in Vegas with my buddies, 5 weeks we'll be married, and 10 years later we'll have a house and 4.5 children.

Not really, but it just feels like it's moving that way. Some other wedding related items:
  • Invitations started going out yesterday.
  • We picked out our first song to dance to as husband and wife.
  • Dress comes next week.
  • Maybe we'll have ties next week.
  • Hopefully we'll have reception food picked out this weekend.
  • I want to sign a contract for our new place next week.
It's crazy how many things there are still to do, but it's still fun figuring all of it out. It really is just an exciting time.

This was a finalist in the first dance song, but still lost out. I really like it though. Have a great weekend, dear ones.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Reagan at 100

Maybe you didn't know this, but Ronald Reagan was born 100 years ago over the weekend. All over conservative outlets they have been celebrating him and sharing thoughts of him, that kind of thing. You know what are some of my favorite things to read? Personal anecdotes of Reagan. He's so funny and humane, just so generally interested in improving the human condition. Jay Nordlinger wrote an essay when he passed away in 2004, and he related this bit:
If I hadn’t liked Reagan so much, as a man, would I have swung around to his views? Probably—but it would have taken longer. There was his humor, his “security in his own skin,” as everyone said. People wanted him to be embarrassed by his acting career, especially his role in Bedtime for Bonzo, in which he played alongside a chimp. But Reagan wasn’t the least embarrassed. Someone gave him a still from that picture to sign—Reagan with Bonzo. He wrote,“I’m the one with the watch.”
Don't you just love that? There are tons of stories like that about him. I need to read another biography on him. So should you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Relationship Cooing

Amy and I hit one year since we first went out, one year ago from last Saturday. Pretty crazy, right? I have never been in such a stable and consistently good relationship. I guess that makes sense or else I probably would have been engaged before. We've had some stormy spots, but otherwise it has really been smooth sailing. No one has ever made me feel so secure in a relationship.

This time of year is really funny to me. People have some time to finally develop some friendships and people know each other well enough that they start dating and getting cozy with each other. Obviously Amy and I started getting acquainted at this point last year, but we've been able to see some other couples emerge in the last little bit as well.

One of my roommates is actually part of one of these couples, and I guess I'm running some risk because sometimes his girlfriend drops by here, but these aren't things I wouldn't shy away from telling her anyway, so here goes. Knowing them separately, I would have never really thought to pair them together, not that they're opposites, but I just never really pictured that one happening. Yesterday they spent most of the afternoon and then evening on our bar couch that's now our living room couch, and it was actually really kind of adorable. They talk and laugh a lot together, and it made me think of cooing.

I couldn't hear anything that they were actually saying from my room, but I could hear the tone of it and it was really just warm and sweet. There's a type of cooing that couples do when they're together that really illustrates a lot about the state of the relationship. They sit close together and kind of laugh and tease, but they can also sit quietly and feel comfortable enough that they'll start falling asleep together. We went out with another couple on Friday night and they have some really similar banter. We've known the girl for awhile, and she's really one of our very favorite people up here. It's just really fun because I think I've gotten into that place where I just want the whole world to start dating and be in relationships so that we can hang out with them.

I love what I have with Amy. Yesterday in stake conference I was thinking about confirmations and such about her, our relationship, and our engagement. I never really actively sought out a spiritual confirmation, but just that I would be generally inspired and in tune with my own feelings and whether this would be a good and right relationship for me to pursue, and I've just never had any real doubts about her or about how good things have been with her.

Anyway, I just hope that our own cooing persists and that people can look at us and see what it is that they'd like to see in their own lives.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Digital Love

It's kind of funny to me sometimes when I realize how different musical tastes can be between people. It really says a lot about a person's personality, doesn't it? So I wonder what it says about mine when I was putting together the beginnings of a wedding playlist and I started thinking, "you know what I can't believe I don't have? a west or east coast hip hop mix!" Then I was driving around with my roommate last night and just kind of laughing to myself about how different his tastes are from mine.

I like to think I'm pretty varied on what I'll listen to. My go-to as a teen was punk music, just loved that stuff to death. And I still really like it now, but I also like a lot of rap/hippity-hop, but I'm pretty good when it comes to 80s-90s music too. Last month I got a bunch of classic rock stuff too. Or pop. Most anything, for that matter, but I've never really attempted to develop a taste for country music, but I bet with the right tutelage, I could be open to that one as well.

I didn't mean to get into all of that.

There's a lot of things to feel be excited about: upcoming trips, tonight's men's volleyball game, my thesis work (what?!), , the Super Bowl, wedding stuff. It's all fun stuff. And the weekend. It's here! Have a good one, y'all!

(One of the featured songs at the reception. I just kinda dig on it. It's upbeat and fun.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Using Time Wisely

Usually that is not the case for me. I feel like I do a great job of just doing filler items. This last week though, I have been incredibly productive:
  • Prepared and taught what will probably be my final lesson in this ward and as a YSA, generally.
  • Home taught more than 10 different people.
  • Ran more than 30 miles in about 6 days.
  • Finally got moving again on my thesis and sent off my latest draft to my committee chairperson.
  • Helped move a girl in my ward.
  • Moved two sets of washers and dryers.
  • Finished a book.
  • Started eating super healthy again (for me at least). Two salads on consecutive days!
It's kind of funny to me how much I can get done when Amy is not around. And I wouldn't even necessarily say that it's because of Amy that I don't always get those things done, but I would say that it's because of her that I wanted to get them all taken care of before she came back.

It really is a great feeling to feel on top of things. This week really was the first week of good progress on my thesis since probably before the holidays. It's amazing how other things can just take over my life.

Well, she's back now, and I couldn't be happier, but I sure would love if I could merge productive me from this past week to getting-ready-for-marriage me that's been here for the last little bit. We'll see how that goes.