Friday, March 28, 2008

Do the right thing

I read a story today that made me happy about how some people deal with bad situations. I don't know if doing what this man did is always the best, but it certainly worked out well for him and the other person involved.

I hope I can always be willing to help and go the extra mile, as well. This guy's example helps me keep trying, because what he went through is harder than a lot of what I do.

So you know what I'm talking about, Julio Diaz, a 31-year-old social worker living in New York City, was headed to dinner after work and a teenager with a knife held him up and took his wallet.

As the kid walked away, Diaz told him to wait, and then offered him his coat so he wouldn't be cold if he planned to continue mugging through the night.

What happened next is eye-opening and heart-warming.
Read about it here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Crazy Hair No More

I have just found a FABULOUS new hair product that I was totally skeptical about and I just had to share! I have some hair problems. I have really thick, full hair which I usually love, except for the first day I wash it( I wash my hair about every 3 days). I have total Texas pageant girl hair the first day. It gets so darn poofy! I don't own a hair straightener partly because I don't want to damage my hair with all that heat and partly because I know I wouldn't use it very much. I don't have the patience to spend a lot of time doing my hair. I know a straightener would take care of the problem, but I don't really want to go there. Anyways, I was at the store the other day, and I saw this:
It is called Sunsilk Anti-poof. I did not think it would work, but it totally does! I finished drying my hair and I expected to see total mushroom head, but my hair looked normal! All day, whenever I saw myself in the mirror, I expected poofy hair and was pleasantly surprised by very normal hair. I was so excited I called my sister to tell her! We have the same hair issues, so I knew she would appreciate it. Then I got nervous that my day 2 hair would be super flat since my hair goes down on day 2, but no! It still just looked normal! I am sold! I think my favorite thing is that my hair still has a lot of body to it, unlike when I have used a straightener. I found this product on sale at K-mart, and I am going back tomorrow on my way home from work to stock up!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


A couple days ago I went on a camp out with the Boy Scouts and told them a story about a funny guy from my mission. I have decided to share it with everyone.

In my first area of my mission, Monte Bello, in northeast Maracaibo, Venezuela, along the shore of Lake Maracaibo, there was an old man who we simply called Abuelo, the Spanish word for grandfather. He was the grandpa of some of the investigators we were teaching and was quite the character.

So you can understand what kind of guy Abuelo was, I will describe him and give a couple examples of his antics. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when I met him, toothless, talkative, about 4 feet tall, and skinny as a rail. He was also quick to smile and thought he was very funny, which he was. He also introduced me to several new Spanish swears.

The first time I met the man, he regaled me with stories of being in the Venezuelan Army, and then asked me how I liked his granddaughter, who had just been baptized. I said I thought she was very nice. Then he offered to sell her to me for about $100, saying she would be a great wife.

I respectfully declined.

One day while we were walking down the street near wear he lived, we happened upon him standing against the wall of a dirt alley. He was shirtless, as usual, holding a large walking stick and smoking a cigar. Knowing him from visits to his family, I approached him and gave a friendly greeting.

"Hola," he said.

"Abuelo," I said in an exasperated tone, "you shouldn’t smoke. You know it's bad for you."

He promptly threw the still-burning cigar on the ground and looked up at me with a face that said "there, happy?"

We chatted for a moment and then invited him to church, as we always did. He was evasive, as he always was. Then we said good-bye.

As we walked away, I looked back and he had quickly retrieved the cigar from the dusty road and was again puffing away.

On another day while we were visiting, Abuelo had been sitting in the family outhouse all day and was making his daughter and grandchildren quite upset. They would yell at him to come out and he would colorfully tell them to take a hike.

Finally after some time he appeared from the outhouse. He was wearing nothing but a dirty old Rip Curl T-shirt pulled between his legs and tied around his waist like a loincloth. On his head he had a broken pair of yellow plastic sunglasses tied to his head with a piece of string. He paraded around the yard in this get-up for a while, then graciously allowed me to take a picture with him.

I will not go into great detail about another Abuelo encounter except to say one day we found him sitting naked next to a palm tree gumming on a plate of fried chicken and plantain bananas.

Despite this man's many hilarious activities, there is one episode which transcends them all.

One day we were teaching a discussion in the backyard of Abuelo’s daughter’s home. The back yard was about 40 feet wide, with mostly sandy soil and coconut and other types of palm trees growing throughout, making it almost always shady. About 100 feet behind the house was a creek that was about 10 feet across and a couple feet deep. A narrow bridge made of a couple 2x12 boards spanned the creek, supported in the middle by a single post driven into the creek bed. Past the creek another 50 feet or so was the home of another one of Abuelo’s daughters, where she lived with several children. The bridge was frequently used by many people from both homes.

As the discussion progressed, my newness to the mission caused my ability to follow the Spanish to wane, leading me to let my eyes wander around the yard. As I did so, I noticed smoke billowing from the area of the creek. There was fire burning in the middle of the bridge!

Not knowing much to say besides, “Hay fuego,” (There is fire), I stood up and interrupted the lesson, yelling and pointing. Immediately the five or so people who had been listening to my companion looked and saw the threat to their bridge over the creek.

As we watched the fire for a second, we saw Abuelo walking out of some trees beyond the creek, carrying two coconuts. It immediately became obvious who had built a fire on the middle of the wooden bridge, and it appeared that he was planning to cook the coconuts on the flames.

His 12-year-old nephew quickly ran toward the creek yelling and then went onto the bridge and started kicking the burning wood into the water below. When Abuelo saw this, he yelled some swears and chucked the coconuts at his grandson’s head, then came at him swinging a stick.

The boy dodged the coconuts, but moved back to the other side of the creek. He decided to go back on the bridge, but Abuelo came at him again, swinging the stick like Little John fighting Robin Hood over the river.

His grandson retreated again, but this time grabbed an overhanging palm branch, ran forward and swung, Indiana Jones-style, toward the old man. He kicked Abuelo square in the chest with both feet, but was quickly whacked in the legs by the old man’s stick before he swung back to the safe side of the creek.

Seemingly at a stalemate, and with the fire gone, Abuelo gave up, but not without throwing his stick at the boy to make a final statement. He then stomped off back into the trees muttering under his breath.

With the fire out and the action over, we finished the discussion, but to be honest I don’t remember much about the lesson at all, not after Abuelo’s antics.

Monday, March 24, 2008

100-mile Update

As some of you may have noticed, the 100-mile Challenge total had not changed for about a week. I had a very busy week last week, so running was pushed to the background, or, more accurately, completely out of the picture. I ran 3 miles today and am back in the habit, so to speak.

There was also a request to post Ali's miles because her blog is blocked to the public. That has been taken care of. I will post her updates as soon as I see them.

May the best runner win! Of course we both win just for doing this, but it's fun to say stuff like that.

Oh, and Ali and I have been thinking about running a longer race, such as the Provo River 10-miler, but that race is on June 15th, which is too close to Chicklet's due date for me to be off running away from Crystal. Therefore, we have decided we will probably have the "Ali and Jordan Classic," or something like that and invite anyone who is interested to meet one Saturday morning in April or May to run 10 miles (or however far you feel like) down Provo Canyon. At the end, we should have a potluck barbecue or something, just to celebrate finishing.

End-of-game refereeing

On Saturday night, I watched the Texas A&M - UCLA game with several family members. We were disappointed (not for our brackets, but for our underdog-loving sensibilities) when A&M's last-second shot attempt didn't go anywhere but backward, then UCLA finished with a dunk.

Well, I found some pictures showing UCLA probably should've been whistled for a foul (from two guys) instead of getting the go-ahead dunk.

I agree that referees should be able to "let 'em play" at the end of games, but even on live television that one looked pretty egregious.

Tell me what you think?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Its Spring!

Spring officially arrived on Thursday, even if it did welcome itself here in Utah with a nice, cold storm. Luckily it was mostly rain and just little bits of snow that didn't stick. With the arrival of spring, it reminded me of one of my favorite things I did last year: plant a garden. Since where we live we don't actually have any land, I do all of mine in planter boxes on our front porch. Last year's garden did really well! We had tons of tomatoes and herbs, which is what I limit myself to right now. Some day, though, I want to have a nice big garden where I can grow a variety of things. This year I wasn't going to plant a garden because of all the changes that are coming up for us, but I couldn't resist! I saw some recipes that called for tomatoes and basil and I just thought how much better it would taste if they were my own tomatoes and my own basil, so I got started! This year I discovered a wonderful product that has helped me get started on my garden early, without any worry of losing my precious plants to the snow and frost.This great little invention lets you plant your seeds in individual spots. I know that doesn't sound so great, but the dirt starts out as a little pellet about half an inch thick, then you add some water to the whole tray and the little pellets grow. They are surrounded by a thin netting so all the soil stays in individual pellets. Then you add the seeds, pop the top on the container and put it some places warm inside the house until the plants are big enough to transplant to their own containers. You don't have to worry about pouring a bag of soil and making a mess, it is all right there for you!

These are my little plants so far. It has only been about a week and a half and they are already doing very well! They still have a few weeks of living inside before they get to move to their new home outside, but now I can start taking them out during the day to get a little sunlight. I can't wait until they start producing tomatoes and the leaves of the herbs are big enough to use!

Friday, March 21, 2008

We reporters need to pay attention

On Wednesday this week, I wrote a story about some kids finding a loaded handgun magazine on the bus. Authorities haven't been able to find the gun so far, just the magazine, with about a dozen rounds in it.

It was a .40-caliber Sig Sauer handgun magazine, which is what the police chief told me when I talked to him. I had him spell the brand name to me because I wasn't familiar with it.

My story ran on the front page of Thursday's paper.

On Thursday night, KSL had a story about the incident. While it is not uncommon for us to write a story and them to report the same thing a day later, or vice versa, one thing jumped out to me about their story. It is in part where the police chief is describing the magazine.

This from KSL's Web site:
A loaded clip from a gun appeared on a school bus in Weber County. So, where's the gun?
The day after the clip was found, students at the junior high were searched and put through a metal detector. Police still haven't found the student who brought it in, or any sign of a gun, though some other weapons were discovered.

The magazine clip belongs to an expensive gun. Harrisville Police Chief Max Jackson said it goes with a "high-priced, top-dollar, six hour .40 caliber handgun."

As a general rule, a reporter should pay extra attention to things they don't understand or know well, such as the brand of a pistol. I am not showing the KSL reporter's name because I don't want to make fun of them personally, just reporters in general. Some times we get caught up in what we're doing too much to take a step back and make sure what we're writing isn't just what we hear, but what makes sense.

For those who are interested, here's a picture of an actual Sig Sauer pistol:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Goldfinger and an Easter message

As you can see from my Mario triplets on the right hand side of the page, I have been running fairly consistently lately. Those of you who run or otherwise exercise alone know how much thinking goes on while you're sweating.

I have been running with my iPod (and some Bluetooth headphones, which are awesome for exercising, by the way), but even though I've had music going on, my thoughts have wandered all over the place.

The most salient thoughts so far have been induced by comments from two guys I passed while jogging. I run through our downtown neighborhood in Ogden, so we have some understandably interesting folks wandering around.

The first one was on Friday, when a homeless-looking guy on a bike rode past me and as I smiled and waved, he said, "You can run faster than that!" I kind of laughed it off, but it made me think. First, I thought, "Well at least I'm running." Then, I thought, "You know, I probably can go a little faster." I pushed myself a little more throughout that run and it helped. It reminded me that you have to push yourself into uncomfortable situations some times if you want the best results.

The second instance was today, St. Patrick's Day, as I ran along the sidewalk and passed a man in a motorized wheelchair rolling along the street beside me. As I slowly caught up with him over the course of a block, I had time to think of something to say (I don't know why I always have to say "hi" to people when I exercise, but I do*). As I passed him, I looked over and said, "You make this look so easy." He replied, "I wish I could trade you places, man." "That's understandable," I said.

After a few more steps I was almost out of hearing, so I yelled back something about having a good day and I kept running. I started thinking about what he had said, that he would trade with me and I thought about the wonderful resurrection that awaits us all after this life. I thought about how he will someday not need that wheelchair ever again. It made me happy as I thought of Christ, his atonement and the fact that we get to celebrate it on Easter this Sunday.

As I thought of that, I was prompted that I needed to tell the man in the wheelchair about my belief in the resurrection. My turn-around spot was coming up, so as I turned, I was able to meet back with the guy after a block.

I jogged up to him and said hello again, then asked his name and introduced myself. His name is Rob. I shook his hand (he had to take off a glove to do so) and leaned over so I could look in his eyes. Then I said, "Rob, I was thinking about what you said about trading places with me and, I don't know what you believe, but with Easter coming up, I wanted to tell you I believe that through Jesus you'll be able to walk and run some day." He smiled and said, "Well, we keep our fingers crossed anyway." "I know it will happen," I said.

I then wished him a good day and told him now that we know each other, hopefully we'll run into each other again. He said that would be nice and I took off.

As I ran a couple more blocks, I noticed something neat, first, I was feeling the Spirit for having born my testimony to this man, and second, my legs aren't as sore when I feel the Spirit. It was a wonderful experience and has truly made my day better and made me more excited to celebrate Easter.

The next song to come onto my headphones (I was listening to Jeff's supermix of Goldfinger songs) was "This Lonely Place." I heard the last chorus of it and it made me think about how I would have felt if I hadn't followed the promptings to share my belief in Christ with Rob.

"I've been around this lonely place, lonely place before,
You got a choice to leave your place your lonely place behind
be true to yourself now and let it go, it's better than you think."

There have been times when I haven't followed the promptings and I have regretted it. This time, however it was hard to do, it made me glad that I'd done it and now it will be easier next time. It is "better than you think."

As for other promptings I need to follow (this also goes along with the not-as-sore-when-feeling-the-Spirit thing) I have been planning to download conference talks to listen to while running, but haven't. I am correcting that today, and will have a few to listen to next time I run. Odds are I'll get even more out of those .mp3s than I do out of Goldfinger.

Hopefully they will help me have other stuff to share with Rob next time I see him!

*The same thing applies to any time you're driving on a dirt road, especially a narrow one where you have to move over to the edge for others to pass. There is something almost genetically wired in people that they have to do a little over-the-steering-wheel wave whenever they pass on a dirt road. That's just how it is.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

6 months

Here is another picture of pregnant me. The belly is definitely growing! It is just starting to be a little bit of a nuisance. The other day I was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I was being super careful not to drip jelly on me, holding the plate right under the sandwich the entire time. Some how I did drop jelly onto my belly, but it was about an hour and a half before I noticed it was there! I couldn't see it! I finally noticed it because my hands kept having jelly on them!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Something fun: Garfield Minus Garfield

As many of you know, there are several comics on the daily comics page that have outlived their usefulness and need to leave. Along with BC (the creator died, already), Peanuts reruns, Blondie and The Family Circus, Garfield is one such comic.

Garfield hits 30 years old this year (in June) and it has started to wear out its welcome, I think. My favorite part about the whole Garfield universe, in fact, is the Garfield & Friends TV show, and the best part of that was the characters other than Garfield (particularly the pig, the chicken and the walking egg).

Anyway, in either some sort of post-modern comic criticism or an effort to actually make Garfield's comic strip funny, someone has made a site of Garfield strips without Garfield. They make Jon Arbuckle look like an idiot and I love it!

Here's the site.

And here's a taste of what it shows:

Monday, March 10, 2008

The 100-mile Challenge

We recently got to hang out with our good friends Jeff and Ali, as well as another buddy, Brandon, who was visiting from Virginia. Ali and I talked about our desires to get back in the habit of running, but that it is kind of hard being that Jeff is always studying (it's his last semester of law school) and Crystal is pregnant, so neither of us really have an exercise partner handy.

While that sounds like an excuse, anyone who has ever tried to exercise by themselves knows how much nicer it is to have a partner.

We decided on a plan to get us both running more; we made it into a contest. We are calling it The 100-mile Challenge, and it is simple: the first person to run 100 miles as of March 10 wins. The winner gets to have the loser make them a dinner of their choice.

We have both posted our mileage on our blogs (although Ali's is not open to the public, so if you want to see how she is doing you can e-mail her and ask permission to be on her blog). I am also posting my weight, as I assume that running 100 miles is bound to make me weigh less.

Check back for updates, and if I'm not progressing as you think I should, let me know; I want to win!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A guessing game

Some days, Crystal will find herself awake in bed but not really wanting to get up. When this happens, she stares at our ceiling and tries to recognize shapes in the textured ceiling. So far, she has found a couple very good ones, one of which is zoological, and the other is entertainment-related.
I, on the other hand, have spent approximately two minutes trying to find such shapes and have nothing to show for it. I think my lack of experience in such an endeavor is due to my inability to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling. If I am trying to sleep I will toss and turn and move a lot, and if I am just waking up, I get out of bed.
See if you can guess what Crystal sees in the two shapes that are posted above...

Scroll down for the answer.

Scroll farther.

Scroll a little more.

I think we're far enough away to not spoil the answers, but keep going anyway.

One more scroll...

Here they are!
Did you see them?

A seahorse and Mr. C. Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

In some ways I really am like my father, I promise

My dad is the coolest. He is always busy doing something interesting and amazing, quick to help others and very easy to talk to. We get along very well (ever since I stopped being a punk teenager, actually) and have a lot of fun together. There are many things that we do and ways that we think that are similar.
However, there are also some things in which we differ wildly. This post is about one of those things.
My 14-year-old brother, Morgan, called me last night to tell me that he had been talking to our dad about babies or something and wanted to share some information with me. Apparently, before I was born, my dad had already envisioned my life. I'm sure it included a lot of things, but the main points were that I was destined to be an all-star in high school, both in academics and athletics, both of which would get me into BYU, where I would be the star quarterback on the football team. I would win the Heisman Trophy and be drafted as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, only to decline in order to enroll at Harvard Medical School, where I had been accepted.
As Morgan recited this to me, my dad hollered in the background, "But tell him I'm happy with how he turned out!" I assured him that I like the way I turned out, as well, and enjoyed talking about his dreams for me.
When I hung up, it made me think about my expected child and what I envision for her. So far, all I have planned for her is to be able to fight with and beat up the children of my best friends, Jeff and Brandon. Since they don't have any children yet, Chicklet is bound to win. My dreams will come true, unlike my father's.
After than, I don't have any aspirations for her, really.
Fortunately my child will have a good mother, so she won't turn out bad, in spite of me.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Chicklet has a pillow

This week Crystal and I went to the doctor's office for a so-called "targeted ultrasound," which offers more than simply the two-dimensional view of the baby. The ultrasound tech doing the pictures was very helpful and friendly, and she got us some good pictures of the left side of Chicklet's face. The left side was the only one available, because the little girl apparently loves to use the placenta as her pillow. You can see her snuggled up to it in the pictures below.

(On a side note, Crystal asked last night how we should refer to the placenta. Is it Crystal's placenta or the baby's placenta? I offered to claim it, but Crystal sternly told me that I wasn't really involved. Debate amongst yourselves, readers, and let us know!)

The tech told us Chicklet weighed 1 pound 7 ounces and that she likes to hang out upside down for some reason. She is also really wiggly from about 8:45 p.m to 9:15 p.m. each day, which causes Crystal consternation, and causes me amusement.

According to the little widget Crystal put on the lower righthand side of the blog, Chicklet is at 23 weeks right now, with about 17 to go. Our due date, per the targeted ultarsound, is from June 18 to June 26.

If she comes a couple days earlier, say June 15, I would be happy because actually seeing my kid would be the best Father's Day present ever. I'd even let it slide if Crystal didn't get me anything because she was in the hospital!