Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Tag

I guess when your wife tags you, you have no choice but to comply. So here goes:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate. I'm pretty sure Egg Nog is against my religion. OK, it's not, but it should be.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa doesn't wrap (he doesn't really rap either). He always left presents unwrapped with our stockings on the couches.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White. Because my wife says so.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Nope - I don't deal with the decorations at all.

5. When do you put up your decorations? Whenever Deidra says "Go!"

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Pecan Pie, Ham, Peanut Brittle

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? My older brother (Ryan) and I had rooms right across the hall from each other, and we were both just down the hall from where Santa left presents. We would grab our blankets, pillows, and flashlights and try to stay up all night waiting for Santa while keeping each other company.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Ryan figured it out first and called my dad on it one time while we were driving somewhere. My dad didn't even try to deny it.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes. My dad went on a mission to Norway, and that is part of their tradition. One year, Santa even brought skis to us in his pick-up truck on Christmas Eve. Once we got older, we opened all our gifts on Christmas Eve so that my parents didn't have to wake up early on Christmas morning.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? I don't really. I let Deidra take care of that. I'm more of a hinderance.

11. Can you ice skate? Definitely. I'm pretty much a pro . . .unless I have to turn or stop or anything.

12. Do you remember your favorite gift? I'm pretty sure I got a cool Chemistry set once year that was fun to play with, even though they didn't have any cool chemicals that would blow anything up.

13. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Christ and Family.

14. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Peanut Brittle and Pecan Pie

15. What is your favorite holiday tradition? My family goes skiing together on Christmas day. Because everybody else is busy opening presents, eating Christmas dinner, and caroling, the slopes are usually pretty non-congested.

16. What tops your tree? Two glittery silver stars.

17. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving. It's fun trying to find the perfect gift.

18. What is your favorite Christmas Song? The Little Drummer Boy. My favorite versions are from Jars of Clay and from David Bowie and Bing Crosby.

19. Do you feel Christmas is too commercialized? Not necessarily. I don't think it's difficult to center Christmas around Christ if you make it a point to do so.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Made It!

I officially* graduated on Friday, December 12th with a Master of Science in Human Resources. Since then, I have been researching schools for a PhD and have decided to apply to the following (in no particular order):

Michigan State University
University of Michigan
University of Indiana
University of Maryland
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
Purdue University
University of Minnesota

So that is the next step. They all have deadlines between January 1 and February 15, 2009, so I better get moving quickly in order to get all of my information in on time. Wish me luck! I'll certainly keep everyone posted, but I am sure I won't hear back about any of these for a few months at least.

* by "officially," I mean that I went through the graduation ceremony. Final grades and diploma are forthcoming.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Get out the vote!

I know election day has come and gone, but don't let that get in the way of you making your voice heard! I have entered an online music contest at Mormontimes.com, and I need your vote to move on to the next level. Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15, you can vote once per day per email address, but the catch is that you have to first register on the site in order to vote. 

Thanks for your support!

(Click on this link to access the site)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Mozart Requiem - Saturday, Nov. 15

I am excited to be a part of this concert and I think it will turn out to be a great show. As a member of the American Festival Chorus, I have been given four tickets that I am expected to sell. If anyone out there would like to buy any or all of these tickets from me ($10 each), please let me know.

(Tickets will also be available at the door on the night of the concert.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The case of the missing microwaves

When I started my graduate program at Utah State, I also started having lunch on campus once or twice a week with Chod and Tameka. We would meet in the Hub and have our lunch without incident. There were two microwaves available for our use.

In addition, most of my classes are held in the business building, and some of them are late afternoon/early evening classes. But there was a microwave in the basement of the business building that was available to use as well.

Fast forward to the beginning of this semester. The business building had been renovated and, lo and behold, all of a sudden there is no microwave in the basement anymore. Not only that, but at the start of the semester, all of a sudden there was only one microwave in the Hub instead of two.

What that meant to meant was waiting longer to heat up lunch in the Hub, and having to trek over to the AgScience building in the evenings to heat up dinner.

Then, as of a couple of weeks ago, the last microwave in the Hub vanished away without warning. I sense a conspiracy.

So now it's just too annoying to bring anything that needs to be heated up at all. From now on it's peanut butter sandwiches for lunch and dinner whenever I am on campus.

Whoever thought my life could get this rough.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I voted!

Just in case anybody was wondering.

And neither of these guys got my vote! 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A non-fantasy football blog post . . .

Deidra told  me I should post about something other than fantasy football. Easy for her to say - she's ahead of me in the standings.

At any rate, feel free to consider this blog post about anything other than fantasy football.

And if there's anything in particular you would like me to blog about, please let me know. I will try to accommodate all requests.

P.S. Deidra, I love you.

A Fantasy Football Season Portrait

Draft Pick #1: Tom Brady (NE-QB) - Injured early on in week one and will be out for the entire football season.

Draft Pick #2: Terrell Owens (DAL - WR) - Still healthy, but QB Tony Romo was injured in week 6 and is possibly out for up to four weeks. The replacement QB played horribly this week.

Draft Pick #3: Marques Colston (NO - WR) - Underwent surgery prior to week #2 and was out until this week (week 7), when he returned to the field and proceeded not to catch a pass all game.

Draft Pick #4: Reggie Bush (NO-RB) - I guess with the return of teammates Colston (above) and Shockey (below), Bush decided it was his turn to get injured this week. He'll be out the next 3-4 weeks.

Draft Pick #5: Jeremy Shockey (NO-TE) - Injured around the same time as Colston (above) and also return to playing this week after being out for 5 weeks.

For the record, I am not a big New Orleans Saints fan (even less so now). I just happened to draft all of those players in our autopick draft. Needless to say, my season has not been the best so far. I'll be 3-4 after a loss this week.

Oh well, at least it produced my first blog post in almost a month, right?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

MoTab, Jr.

I guess this is late news, but I thought I should make mention of it. I am now singing in the American Festival Chorus, aka MoTab*, Jr. My brother-in-law and my brother-in-law's brother-in-law are also in the choir. 

It's not really a mini-MoTab - but it is a choir of over 250, I did have to audition for a spot, it is directed by Craig Jessop (who led the MoTab for 10 years before stepping down last year and becoming the head of USU's music department), and we are wearing black tuxes (for the men) and matching sparkling outfits (for the women).

We have a patriotic Veteran's Day concert coming up on Nov.12 and a concert performing Mozart's Requiem on Nov. 15. So put it on your calendar!

*MoTab is short for Mormon Tabernacle Choir, in case you aren't 100% hip on the Mormon slang.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Step into my office

As some of you know, I finally got the go ahead to continue working remotely part-time (technically as a contrator) with the organization that I interned with over the summer. That means that a lot of the work I do is computer-based research from home. Deidra has been very supportive and even arranged our spare bedroom to be more of an ideal home office, as seen below:

It has made it much easier and nicer to focus on work while I am home. The other great thing is that the office is about two feet away from the "studio," so I can take a break when needed by trying to remember how to be a musician.

All in all, I like this working from home stuff.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Annual "Who Sucks More" Game!

Tomorrow is the annual meeting between the Aggies and the Vandals (Utah State and U. of Idaho, respectively). Ever since I've lived in Logan, basically what that means is that both teams have their best chance at a conference win. So who will it be? The 1-2 Vandals (does beating Idaho State really count as a win?) or the winless Aggies?

Monday, September 08, 2008

My heartfelt apology

Dear Brett Favre,

I could tell from the above picture that you really took it personally when I kept telling people I was sick of hearing all about Brett Favre on all of the sports shows every day during the summer.

"He's retired . . . he's interested in coming back . . . no, just kidding . . . ok, maybe not kidding . . . yeah, definitely coming back . . . bad blood in Green Bay . . . interview on Fox News . . . calls from the Minnesota Vikings . . . maybe the Dolphins . . . being 'bribed' to stay retired . . . finally traded to the Jets . . . had to run a lap in practice because of fumbling a snap . . . "

It just went on and on! I'm sure you can understand my feelings. I know I said that I wish you had just stayed retired and spared us all the media circus surrounding your return. I know I scoffed when you got traded to the lowly Jets. And I scoffed even more when I saw that I had drafted you in the 13th round of our automated fantasy football draft. And I know it all really hurt you to see my bad attitude toward your return to football.

That's why I'm here to make amends and hope that we can be friends again. You see, in that draft, I gambled and took Tom Brady as my 1st round pick. He's been my fantasy QB for four years now (if memory serves me correctly) and has never let me down. But this year is different. This year, he earned a measly 3 points before getting injured and getting sidelined for the season.

So that's why I'm now petitioning to you. You're my only hope. Without you, my fantasy football season could already be over. So waddayasay? How about we forget that whole summer circus and start again with a fresh, clean slate. You just go out and play some great football (throwing for a lot of touchdowns, of course) and I'll be behind you every step of the way.

Thanks, man. I owe you one.

- Chris

Friday, September 05, 2008

72-hour kit lunch

Deidra is planning on doing the yearly update to our 72-hour kits next week, so I decided I should start eating the food that is in there from last year. I actually thought I should try eating all the food in my 72-hour kit in 72 minutes, but Deidra wasn't so keen on that idea. So, instead, I had a lunch made up of Spicy Chile Chicken cup-o-noodles, soda crackers, and orange flavored Crystal Light mixed in water. All-in-all, it wasn't so bad (minus the stale soda crackers). I'm grateful that we're able to have a 72-hour kit in reserve should we need it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wow! That's pretty good!

Today is my third anniversary being married to Deidra - a beautiful, wonderful, and amazing woman.

When I started this summer internship and some of the other interns found out I was married, one of the girls asked how long I had been married. I replied, "Almost three years."

Her eyes widened a little bit and she nodded, seemingly in disbelief, "Wow! That's pretty good!"

It made me chuckle that she was impressed that we had made it for three years. I guess with the breaking down of the family in our society, all the entertainment break-up news, etc., she thought three years was a really long time.

But I do have to agree with her on one point - it is pretty good! And it's only getting better!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stop whining!

Ah, the Olympic Games! Where nations compete with each other in the spirit of international harmony and brotherhood - or something like that.

While I have enjoyed cheering on the feel-good stories of record-breaking Michael Phelps, age-defying Dara Torres, the USA basketball Redeem Team, and the seemingly infalterable Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, I have kind of gotten a bad taste in my mouth for how much the American athletes, former athletes, and coaches have been reported as whining and making excuses when things haven't panned out like they had hoped.

From boxing, to gymnastics, to swimming, to tennis, there seem to be a lot of finger pointing and excuses. Do these Americans really have such a sense of entitlement that when they don't get what they want, they have to find someone to blame?

Maybe that's why the rest of the world looks at us as a nation of spoiled, whiny brats.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's that time of year again!

With the Brett Favre drama finally over (hopefully) and preseason football in full swing, I am throwing out one final invitation if anyone wants to join my fantasy football league. We have 12 teams already, but have room for a few more if anyone is interested. Click here or on the picture above and enter the follwing information:

League ID#: 102044
Password: roxor

Leave me a comment here or send me an email if you have any issues.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Washington Nationals are undefeated!

At least they are in my book! They may be the absolute worst team in baseball, but Deidra and I went to their game on Saturday and they won! That was the first game I've been to this year, and counting the five or so games I went to during their inaugural season in 2005, I have never been to a game where the Nationals have lost. I was thinking of going to another game this season, but I'm not sure if I should press my luck.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Moving up in the ranks of nerdiness

After reading Chod's post, I finally decided that I should get a Nike + as well. I need something to motivate me to run, or it doesn't happen. So far, so good! I haven't hit 100 miles yet . . . or 10 . . . or 5. I ran twice last week for a total of just over 4 miles, but at least it's a start.

I went online tonight and joined a bunch of challenges at the Nike+ website. There was one where you choose your favorite major league baseball team, and then the team with the fans that run the most miles wins. I joined as a Washington Nationals fan, and apparently I am the only Nats fan out there. They have 0 miles logged so far. I guess it's all on my shoulders now!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hopping on the Josh Hamilton bandwagon

By now, most baseball fans can tell you the background behind Josh Hamilton. I've read the Sports Illustrated cover story about how he overcame drug addiction to get a second crack - no pun intended - at baseball (and life, really). How he goes everywhere with a long-time friend, who acts as his conscience and keeps him out of trouble, because Josh says he still doesn't trust himself. How he speaks to anyone, anywhere, anytime he can about his recovery and how God helped (and continues to help) him overcome his demons.

It's a pretty amazing and impressive story. But add to that what happened at the All-Star Home Run Derby in Yankee Stadium last night, and I now have to consider myself a Josh Hamilton fan.

He tells the story about having a dream two years ago - a dream about being at a home run derby at Yankee Stadium conversing with a female news reporter about his story. This dream coming before he had even returned to baseball and before baseball had even chosen Yankee Stadium for the All-Star game in the stadium's final year before the new Yankee Stadium opens up.

He invited his 71-year-old batting practice coach from American Legion to pitch to him and proceeded to hit a record 28 home runs (an astounding 12,458 feet total) in the first round of the derby - 20 more home runs than his closest competitor and 4 more than any other player in the history of the derby. It was definitely one of the most amazing athletic feats I have ever witnessed.

And after the round was over, there he was - at a home run derby at Yankee Stadium conversing with a female news reporter for ESPN about his story. As Josh Hamilton said himself: "I can say it was a coincidence, but I don’t believe in those."

Truly an inspiration for the power of faith, hard work, and unapologetic testimony, I certainly have the utmost respect and admiration for Josh Hamilton. I am proud to jump on the bandwagon with all those at Yankee Stadium who were chanting "Ha-mil-ton, Ha-mil-ton" as he sent baseball after baseball into the outfield stands, all of his teammates who continue to support and encourage him, and all those who have read or heard him tell his story of redemption. I am proud to call myself a fan.

(photos from Yahoo! Sports)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Meridian Park

Deidra gave me the task of finding something else to do while we were in the U St. area after work on Friday. We figured we needed to do more than just visit Ben's Chili Bowl in order to make our trip worth it. After doing a little bit of internet research, I decided that we would walk about five blocks (through one of the sketchiest parts of town, mind you) to Meridian Park.

You can see some pictures of the park by clicking on the link above. I had no idea that this park even existed, and I don't think I am the only one. Apparently, it was one of the original sites considered for the Lincoln Memorial. But now, it is fairly run down and most of the statues have fallen into various states of disrepair. Deidra decided that Meridian Park is where random statues go to die. But where else can you find a statue of a US President (Buchanan), a literary master (Dante), a war legend (Joan of Arc), and a personified emotion (Serenity) within a few hundred yards? Throw in a concrete aggregate chess board large enough to play human chess and a 13-tiered cascading water fountain, and you can't go wrong. I would certainly recommend Meridian Park as one of DC's hidden treasures.

Ben's Chili Bowl

After work on Friday, I metro-ed into the city and met Deidra at a metro stop on the way to U Street.

Our main goal was dinner at Ben's Chili Bowl, a classic dive celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Their specialties include chili dogs, chili cheese fries, and chili half-smokes (Bill Cosby's favorite). It's a pretty famous place, and they even put a Ben's Chili Bowl in the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium. I had eaten at this original location in U St. once before -many years ago - but Deidra never had. She got the chili half-smoke and I got the chili dog. We shared cheese fries (sans chili).

The verdict?


While the food was fairly cheap compared to anywhere else you can eat in DC, it wasn't any better than cooking your own store-bought hot dogs, putting them on cheap store-bought buns, and covering it with canned chili. It reminded me of eating at the ski lodge at the Pomerelle Ski Resort. But, as Deidra put it, at least your work up a big appetite while skiing at Pomerelle. The food tastes so much better then.

So, overall, Ben's is a good place to go once, just to say you've been there, but I don't think we'll be fighting to get back. When it comes to chili restaurants, I certainly prefer Hard Times. Hopefully we'll get there before the summer is over.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy Independence Day, Nelly!

We decided to celebrate independence day a little bit early by paying off the remaining amount on Nelly's car loan this morning. So now she is officially free and liberated from the oppression of "The Man". We'd take her out for a spin to celebrate, but considering she's in Idaho and we're in DC, that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I passed!

I passed my HRCI Professional in Human Resources (PHR) exam today. That's definitely good to have off my back. Now I can carelessly enjoy the rest of my summer!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Could our day get any "Fuller"?

We spent pretty much every waking moment last Saturday with our friends, Nate and Sara Fuller. They gave a rundown of the events on their blog here (including video footage of the monster koi pond), so be sure to checking it out. (Rumor has it that Deidra might be posting a koi pond video of her own - but that's just speculation).

Here's the details I will fill in. We had borrowed a car from Deidra's roommate (as explained here), so we could pretty much go wherever the wind blew. Unfortunately, we spent a lot of time in the car while I tried to figure out how to get us from where we were to where the wind was blowing us.

At Eastern Market, the breakfast was great, but what was even greater was watching how upset Nate would get when people would throw away their pancakes, french toast, or other breakfast items after only eating half of it. I'm pretty sure he would have stood right by the garbage and eaten everyones' extras for hours if Sara would have let him.

While at the Arboretum, we heard they were doing some sort of launch for alternate energy plants. That didn't really interest us too much . . . until we also heard that they were going to be giving away Ben & Jerry's ice cream. The lady told us we just had to endure 15-20 minutes of "blah, blah, blah" and then we would get free ice cream. She was partially right. The "blah, blah, blah" ended up being about 35-40 minutes, but we did get free Ben & Jerry's! I got the Half Baked on a stick, as did Deidra. I think Sara got Cherry Garcia, and somehow Nate scored one of each - props to him!

The National Cathedral was cool - even though I've been there numerous times. I had never been down to the crypt before, so that was cool. There was even a plaque saying the Helen Keller was interred there. Who knew? (Probably everyone out there but me.)

We ate dinner at our place mainly because none of us could make up our mind on where to eat . . . and because we're all cheap! It was actually nice hanging out with friends who were as frugal as we were.

It was a fun day, and I think I speak for both myself and Deidra when I say that we would love to hang out with the Fullers again. How about the Nats v. the Diamondbacks or the Reds? Or maybe while the Bergstroms are in town. They get in tomorrow night! I think Sara said it best when she told us that she just loved "merging the Logan and DC worlds" by hanging out here with Logan friends.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kelly Kapoor on Scrubs?

So, Deidra and I have been watching Scrubs recently, since we borrowed the first season from some friends. As we were watching the 3rd episode by myself, I was positive that one of the medical interns was Kelly Kapoor from The Office (Mindy Kaling is the actress's real name). Anyway, Deidra doesn't think it's the same person. I looked at the credits at the end of the show and all over online, but nowhere does it say anything either way. So I'll let you all decide.

This clip is long, but all you need to do is skip to 8 min 30 sec and take a look. She's the only intern in green scrubs. It's not the best quality, but it's the best I could find online. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Two car family

When you live in a bustling city with great public transportation and gas prices are skyrocketing, what do you do? You go from having zero cars to having two! At least that's what we did last night.

Deidra and I wanted to go to the temple and we heard that renting a car through Priceline was the way to go. So I went to work yesterday morning with that topping the to-do list. By the time Deidra got to work, that mission had been accomplished.

Then I hear from Deidra that another old roommate is going out of town for the weekend and Deidra had talked her into letting us borrow her car. The only problem is that we can't cancel reservations made through Priceline.

So I got our rented car, picked Deidra up, went to the temple, stopped by the Bank's house (a couple from our Logan ward) where we were treated to a great 9:30pm dinner, and then went to pick up Deidra's roommate's car. A for about 20 minutes between picking up that car and dropping off the rental, we were a two car family. It was pretty exciting!

Monday, June 09, 2008

While we're on the topic of beverages . . .

This is why I love Shoppers - an entire section of different flavored Tang in the ethnic foods aisle. I bet most of you didn't even know there were different flavors of Tang. I never knew until my first trip to Shoppers many years ago. Unfortunately, they were out of the Strawberry Orange tonight, so I had to settle for the Orange Kiwi.

Air beverage of choice

I got Minute Maid Cranberry Apple cocktail all four times the beverage cart came through the aisle on our flights to and from DC. I'm not sure why exactly - I think it might be something about it not being carbonated, but still having a little bite to it. I would say that I get that same beverage about 80% of the time that I fly. Does anyone else have a preferred air beverage?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

"All 'board!"

This weekend, a week after we left Utah for DC, we flew back to Utah/Idaho for my younger brother's wedding in Rexburg. Here's a run-down of the week's events.

Leave work and go directly to the airport, where I meet Deidra. We see Senator Crapo and spend some time chatting with Congressman Bishop, both who are also on our flight West. We get on the plane and there is nowhere for our carry-on luggage to go, because all of the overhead bins are full. So we have to check the bag, which defeated the whole purpose of us flying with just a carry-on. (When we land in SLC, we see an entire family who all have two huge carry-ons that they are taking out of the overhead bins. We don't know who they are, but they are our sworn enemies from here on out.)

After a 4 hour plane ride, we arrive in Salt Lake and go to pick up our rental car. Our only problem is that we forgot which rental car company we booked through. So we go to the desk of five or six companies before we find the right one. Then we begin our 3-hour drive to Firth. We stop in Brigham City to have a "quick" late dinner at about 9pm. We decide that we'll stop at Sonic, because you can just park, order, eat from your car, and go. Unfortunately, it took them 20 minutes to get our food. I definitely picked wrong there. But we eventually arrive in Firth around midnight and stay the night with Deidra's sister, Karisa and little Laney. Unfortunately, Karisa's husband and little Hudson were out on a father/son campout that night.

Awake to the alarm clock at 6:30am and get all showered and ready to head to Rexburg. But we definitely took advantage of Karisa's cinnamon-roll-style french toast in the morning. Mmmmm! She also packed us travel treats for our flight back, and candy for our drive. How cool is that?

After missing the Idaho Falls/Rexburg exit, we take the long way to the wedding in Rexburg, but still make it there in plenty of time. We attend the wedding, meet the bride's family, say hello to my family and friends, get pictures taken, go to the official post-wedding luncheon, and head back out of town.

Aaron, my best friend from high school (who lives in the Seattle area) was also in Idaho for a wedding. Unfortunately, it was an afternoon wedding in Idaho Falls. We tried to touch base with him on our way through Idaho Falls (and even drove around the temple to see if they were taking pictures), but to no avail.

Then we get a call from Karisa, saying: "Are you guys coming back here today, or just heading back to Utah? Hudson just got back and when I told him you guys had already come and gone, he said 'Already? Aw, but I miss those guys." That was enough to get us back to Firth on our way out of Idaho. We were there for only about an hour, but in that time, I got to see some of the many faces of Hudson:

The World-Renowned Baker

The Train Conductor - "All 'Board!!"

The Rough-ridin' Cowboy

It was so much fun to hang out with that kid. He's definitely one of my two favorite nephews.

While we were at Karisa's, Aaron called back. He and his wife were going to be in Blackfoot awaiting the wedding reception that evening. So we got back on the road and met them in Blackfoot. We didn't really have a place to meet, so we just went to Winger's and hung out for a bit in their waiting room and caught up. Whenever someone tried to seat us, we just told them we were waiting for someone. It was great to see them!

We then drove onward until we reached Kaysville and spent a very enjoyable stay at the Bergstroms. Daron and Lisa were great hosts and we got a great night's sleep.

Daron and Lisa cooked us a perfect pancake, cinnamon roll, and bacon breakfast to start our travel home off right. We checked in online and printed our boarding passes from their house before we left - and we are glad we did. Upon arriving at the airport and dropping off the rental car, we found ourselves in the longest security line I have EVER seen! Fortunately, an employee suggested we go to the International terminal and check in there. We ran over there, waited in a much shorter line, checked-in and quickly walked to our gate - getting there just as the plane was boarding.

Now we're back in DC again and we are trying to recover from our whirlwind weekend. Thanks to everyone who made it such a great experience!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

We made it!

For those of you wondering, we did make it to DC, though I got no sleep on the red-eye flight at all. You'd think I would be accustomed to red-eyes by now. And once we got to DC, we were taken on a roller coaster, 90-minute-long shuttle ride before we got to our destination. We spent the night with our friends Maren & Jospeh - and I even got to go golfing last night with Joseph and his borther-in-law. But the pricetag for golfing nine holes, renting clubs, and buying a handful of balls was a little bit more than I would usually be willing to pay. Deidra and I might golf a time or two this summer, but certainly not very often. We'll stick to the tennis court and swimming pool mainly - those are free.

We're just hanging out right now in Maren & Joseph's apartment, watching the minutes pass. We've got about an hour before we move into our apartment - tick, tock, tick, tock . . .

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Washington, D.C. bound

As of this moment, we are officially en route to DC. We leave the Parish home, stop by the Hartwell home, have lunch, head to Logan, go to Salt Lake, fly to Las Vegas, red-eye flight to DC, and either get picked up at the airport or use public transport/cab to arrive at our final destination in Alexandria, Virginia. It's going to be a long trip, but at least it's begun. We'll keep you posted en route or once we get there. DC, here we come!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

International Trip - Part XI: Bahrain

After our time in India, we began the long trek home. That trek took us on another red-eye flight from India to Bahrain, the third time flying through that airport. However, this time we had an entire day lay over before taking another red-eye flight out. The airline paid for a day stay at a hotel, 24-hour visas into Bahrain, and a tour of area. Bahrain ended up being my favorite stop of the entire trip. Here are a few of the things that we saw:

These first five picture are from an amazingly beautiful Muslim mosque in Bahrain. We got to go inside and take pictures while we were given a little bit of Muslim history from a very educated and well-spoken tour guide. What an amazing experience.

From there, we went to a museum which detailed the history of Bahrain. According to our tour guide, the country used to be the place where many Middle Eastern cultures believed that the second life (resurrection) would take place first. So many people brought their deceased relatives into Bahrain to be buried. There are still many places where you can see the massive number of mounds of earth where people were buried. But as the population and economy of Bahrain grow, the burial plots are being exhumed and the cemetaries are being built over. They have moved some of the exhumed burial plots to the museum and put them on display, as seen here.

The picture below depicts a traditional Middle Eastern Muslim wedding ceremony. The bride is carried into the home of the groom and a big feast/party commences.

What caught my attention as I read the description of this scene was the part that said something to the effect of: "The party continues as the newlywed couple consummates their relationship." What? Did that just say what I think it said? I asked our tour guide my question, and he assured me that the bride and groom do not consummate their marriage in front of the entire wedding party. He explained that what happens is that the bride and groom retire to the bedroom (usually upstairs) and the party commences downstairs while they consummate the marriage upstairs. Nobody in the wedding party is supposed to leave until the newlywed couple re-emerges and rejoins the festivities. I guess that's better than doing it in front of everybody, but that's still some serious pressure on those newlyweds!

After the museum, we were taken to an old Portuguese fort (apparently the Portuguese have fought and/or conquered just about everyone everywhere at some point in time). It was a beautiful place, and not a soul around except for us - which was quite a welcome site after being mauled by vendors in India. Anyway, this fort is now used for a lot of photo shoots and stuff like that these days. You can see why in these pictures.

Here is the picture of what I believe we were told was a hotel. They built it with these windmills to help generate its power.

Finally, we drove out to see the "Tree of Life," which is this huge tree out in the in middle of the desert, with nothing growing even remotely close to it. Supposedly, nobody is quite sure how the tree gets water to sustain itself. It just reminded me of the Joshua Tree album from U2.

And there you have it - an eleven-part recap of my spring break trip that I took over two months ago. Thanks for bearing with me. As you can imagine, we all pretty much felt like Professor Warnick on the remainder of the trip home - from Bahrain to Paris to Atlanta to Salt Lake (and a drive to Logan).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Deidra!

Deidra and I found this little easter egg gem on our Seinfeld - Season 4 DVD. I thought it would be good to share on her birthday.

Happy Birthday, honey! While I don't know if I would call you a jolly good "fellow" per se, I do know that you're pretty darn amazing and the best thing that's ever happened to me! I love you.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

International Trip - Part X: Curry, Curry, and more Curry . . . and Pizza

While flying to India, the airline served probably the greatest meal I have ever had on a flight. It was some sort of curried pork over rice. It made me excited to be in India, where I could experience more local flavors. However, once I got there, I realized that curry was pretty much the national flavor. Almost every Indian meal we had - breakfast, lunch, or dinner - had curry in it. It wasn't long before I got tired, and even a little sick, of the flavor. But, luckily, I wasn't the only one. After our first day in India, the entire group decided that if we were having curry for breakfast and lunch, we weren't having it for dinner. Some of us went to Pizza Hut for dinner one night, and we all had Domino's Pizza delivered to our hotel two nights in a row after that. I still haven't gotten the nerve to go out to the Indian Oven restaurant since coming back to Logan. Hopefully, one day I'll be able to enjoy curry again.

International Trip - Part IX: The Mysore Excursion

A few hours outside of Bangalore is Mysore, where there is a huge, ornate palace that is a must-see apparently. Since out first full day in Bangalore was a Sunday, and there would be no Weir Services facilities open to tour, they had planned an all day excursion to see this Mysore palace.

We boarded the buses around 6am and started out journey. At about 7:30am, we stopped at a little restaurant for breakfast, and this is what we ate.

It was some sort of deep-fried potato shaped like a doughnut, along with this crepe-style rice cake. Of course, they came with two hot sauces and had both had a slight curry flavor to them. And what should we have to drink for breakfast? How about water and Pepsi?

We always drank from bottled water to minimize any ill effects that could occur from drinking the native water, and we were also told that a Coke a day would help to kill any negative bacteria in our system. Who knows if that's actually true, but I definitely had at least one Coke/Pepsi per day during our time in India. (As a side note, the shirt/tunic I am wearing was one I bought there in India. Deidra is not so fond of it, but it's certainly light and comfortable!)

A few more hours on the road and we came to our first stop. This temple is the burial site of some Indian prince and family that were killed during war with Britian.

As with most of the temples/palaces/shrines/etc. in India, we had to pay to get in and we had to take off our shoes and pay somebody to watch them. Another similar theme during our time in India was constant bombardment of people trying to sell us all sorts of stuff - postcards, wood carvings, fans, jewelry, etc. At times, it was almost unbearable. There was always some random person standing outside of any public restroom that would make you pay him before you could use the facilities. I quickly learned that people will try to make money in any way they can. In fact, we just picked up a tour guide when we got to this temple and paid him to guide us through the rest of the places around Mysore.

The next stop was this spot where two rivers combine to become one. It's supposed to have some sort of healing or spiritual power. There were people going out on these little saucer boats, but we were forbidden by our group leaders from getting in one. Something about drowning, liability, and repatriation of remains, I think. :)

We were all starting to get hungry and tired at this point. We stopped at another large temple, but nobody really wanted to go inside, so we just took pictures like this of the outside and then got back in the bus, anxious to reach our destination.

Finally, we got to our destination - the Mysore Palace. This place was filled with vendors trying to sell you stuff. And if you stopped for even a second to talk to one, three or four more was swarm onto you. Needless to say, it made me a little claustrophobic. I'm usually not one to ignore people, but I did so here as a survival technique. Once we reached that palace we were told that, not only did we have to pay to get in and pay to have someone to watch our shoes, we had to pay someone else to lock up and watch our cameras, since cameras are not allowed inside the palace. But here are the pictures I got from the outside.

I particularly like the last picture and the caption below it. Don't we all feel like that sometimes?

So there's the trip to the Mysore Palace. It was a very long trip and we skipped out on a couple of temples and some sort of awe-inspiring gardens because everyone was so jet-lagged and tired. And because every place you go to costs money to get into.