Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One semester down . . .

The grades are in and it looks like I have successfully completed my first semester at Purdue, and I even found time to attend a couple of football games.

It actually went by a lot faster than any previous school semester, so I am hoping the rest of the program will fly by just as fast.

Friday, December 10, 2010

No one wants to see this picture

(please disregard the chubby belly - it's the off-season for running.)

I don't know why I feel the compulsion to post my battle wounds on my blog. It's actually quite nasty. Maybe because I think these wounds could give me some street cred if they are mistaken for gunshot wounds. Maybe because I'm glad that I won't have a huge scar like my dad from having his gall bladder out. Maybe because I'm jealous of all the attention Deidra's belly is getting these days. Maybe I'm just bored.

At any rate, I am feeling much better today than the past couple of days. I think I might actually survive and heal.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Nurse Deidra

Deidra and I went to the surgical center at 7:30 am, where I got paperwork done and was prepped for surgery.

At 8:30 they knocked me out and performed the surgery.

At 9:30, I awoke (kind of) and was taken to my recuperation station, where Deidra joined me. For the next 2 hours or so, I was in and out of consciousness, while sipping water and subsequently throwing it up (only once, though). And Deidra was patiently waiting for me to get up the energy to get out of there.

At about noon, I successfully took a whiz (yes, that's really the test) and we finally got the okay for Deidra to drive me home, where I promptly fell asleep again.

Throughout it all, I am feeling actually quite well, though that's probably got something to do with being drugged. I think it also has to do with having the best home nurse I could ever hope for. Deidra has been tireless in answering my beck and call, and even knowning what I need before I have to ask for it.  I keep telling her thank you and it feels so insufficient. I definitely love that girl!

I should be taking notes so that I can be half as good to her come April.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Clear liquid diet

My meals for today were as follows:

Breakfast: Jello, apple juice, and cherry pomegranate crystal light
Morning snack: peppermint tea
Lunch: Jello and chicken broth
Afternoon snack: Powerade
Dinner: Jello and chicken broth
Dessert: Two popsicles

Who knew that chicken broth could be so tasty? I guess it's all perspective.

I also had 10 ounces of magnesium sulfate solution to help it all wash out.  Mmmm tasty . . .

The gall bladder surgery is tomorrow morning, and I'm just excited to get to eat real food again soon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This ain't no etch-a-sketch

So, I'm not the only one in this family that has had a recent ultrasound! But Deidra's was more exciting to look at than a gall bladder.

More information on Deidra's blog (she is carrying the little parasite, so she got the exclusive 'first blogging' rights).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Gall (Bladder) of Bitterness

There is less than a month left in my first semester of doctoral school. I have a lot left to do, and not much time in which to do it. As Deidra's blog post, I went in to the surgeon on Monday, and he confirmed the diagnosis of chronic cholecystitis and that my gall bladder should be yanked. We have scheduled Tuesday, December 7, for the surgery. In my mind (and according to most 'best case' estimates), the laproscopic surgery will be quick, painless and with minimal recovery time - which I truly pray is the case. I have two 10-page final papers due on Dec. 15th, and a flight home for Christmas that night after the finals have been handed in. So I'm counting on my body to heal itself in a hurry.

Monday, November 08, 2010

_ _ _ _ L / _ _ / _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Ok, so I was reading the latest post on Ken Jenning's blog (you know, the longest-running Jeopardy champion guy), and I saw this picture:


I read this first paragraph of the post, which told about a recent game show contestant who successfully solved this puzzle - with just the lone "L" visible.

Before I read any further, I decided to look at the picture and try to solve the puzzle myself. Honestly, it took about 10 seconds. So I agree with Mr. Jennings that there is no conspiracy going on here, just some great deductive logic by the contestant.

Anybody else want to weigh in? Did you figure it out?

How about the title of this post - can you solve it with only the "L"? (I had to put dashes in to mark the space between words, because Blogger kept combining them.)

P.S. If you can't stand the suspense, you can watch the video here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Be Prepared

Remember how Deidra got called as the Cub Master of our congregation's Cub Scouts? I may have teased her a little bit, since she comes from a family of all girls and has never had much exposure to scouting.

I shouldn't have made light of it.

Because I just got called as the Scout Master over the Boy Scouts.

In the words of the Scout Oath, "On my honor, I will do my duty . . ."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sorte Sua Contentus


Here is a picture of the Hartwell family crest. It looks pretty impressive. Kind of regal and stately. Especially that awesome latin motto, right?

"Sorte Sua Contentus"

Translation:

"Content with his lot"

Sounds like my ancestors were real go-getters, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mortgage Payments

(this is the actual size of our house)

Who knew that scheduling mortgage payments were so much more difficult than rent payments?

Ok, so really they aren't. But between moving and getting started with school and not getting the automatic payment set-up correctly, our mortgage payment due date came and went without a payment this month. And in my attempts to finally get it paid, I seem to have paid it three times. I told Deidra that we're just paying for our house on a semester plan.

Our next payment is now not due until January.

Friday, October 08, 2010

33


I have always been a fan of numbers with the same digits (22, 111, 9999, etc.), so turning 33 naturally seems to be a good thing for me. In addition, some theologians in Christianity and Islam claim the 33 is the "perfect age" and that everyone will be perpetually 33 in the afterlife.

So here's to my "perfect" year ahead!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

License to Move

I got my first driver's license when I was 15. Yeah, Idaho is cool like that. Hard to believe I've been driving longer than 15 years now.

Today, I got my fifth driver's license. And the funny thing is that I have never renewed my driver's license in the same state. Here is the progression of my licenses:

1. IDAHO - I think we've already gone over that.

2. OHIO - My initial license expired when I turned 21, when I happened to be serving as a missionary in Hamilton, OH.

3. WASHINGTON D.C. - My Ohio licence did not expire until I was done with college and working/living on Capitol Hill in D.C.

4. UTAH - The next expiration found me married and living in Utah, working and starting a Masters program at Utah State.

5. INDIANA - The Utah license hadn't expired, but since both Purdue and our mortgage lender think I need to officially become an Indiana resident, I bit the bullet.

The good thing is that this new license is good for six years, so we'll (hopefully) be done with school by then. Any predictions as to who will issue my next license?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Deez White Boyz Got Skillz!

There's a commercial at the beginning, but it's worth it!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tips for Temporary Bachelorhood

I'm glad I have really smart friends like Tim. (Ok, so I've honestly never met Tim, but he married my friend Jean, so he's definitely smart.)

Tim struggled through a period of time being wifeless, and made it through like a champ, without any problems. I knew if he could do it, I could do it! So I've been following his example. Except we didn't have any peanut M&Ms, so I've been using Reese's Pieces. And we have possums instead of raccoons. Otherwise, it's pretty much the same.

But, I have learned some valuable lessons since Deidra has been gone. And, since I am in a giving mood, I will share them with you. Hopefully these tips will help you as much as Tim's blog post has helped me:

1. Meat is a must; fruits and vegetables are overrated - Eating meat helps to maintain your primeval instincts. Fruits and vegetables make you lose your edge and turn you soft.

2. Do laundry only when you're out of underwear - But the trick is to leave the laundry in the laundry basket when it's done. No use putting it in the drawers when you're just going to wear it and then throw it in the hamper, right?

3. Do not make the bed - Like putting the laundry away, it's an unnecessary expenditure of energy. Just move all of the fancy (but useless*) decorative pillows over to your wife's side of the bed.

4. Making a "To-Do" list helps show you what could be done - You won't do any of it, but at least you had good intentions.

5. If you tell people at church that your wife is out of town, they just might invite you over for dinner - Two days in a row now!

6. Maximize your cleaning time - And by that, I mean you shouldn't waste time cleaning every day. Just do one round of extreme cleaning the day before your wife gets home.

Ok, well that's what I've learned so far, halfway through the absence. I'll be sure to keep you posted if any new inspiration hits.

* Actually, I recently realized that the pillows aren't useless. If you want a fan going for white noise, but don't want it blowing on you, just build up the pillows as a wind barrier. (You could also turn the fan so it's not blowing directly on you, but that requires getting out of bed.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

When I'm my only company

This is what I do when my wife is gone and I have a whole Saturday to myself:



Some may say I wasted my Saturday away (though I did go see Purdue lose both their football game and their starting quarterback today also), but I count it as a learning opportunity. I finally got to fiddle around with iMovie '09 for the first time.

And it was definitely worth the $3 investment in lime green wrapping paper. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Looking forward to Friday!

Since I have started this PhD program, I have looked forward to Fridays each week for a few reasons. First of all, I have no classes on Friday, so I can spend the whole day planning for the upcoming week, doing research and catching up on schoolwork and reading.

But the main reason I look forward to Fridays is FREE FOOD!

Yeah, that's right, PhD students are no different than undergraduates, in that we will do almost anything for free food. Each Friday morning, a wide variety of bagels, pasteries and juices are waiting in the kitchen for PhD students in the business building. Luckily, its a locked room and you need the right access on your student ID card to get in. I usually grab a pastry in the morning and, depending on what is left later in the afternoon, a bagel or two to bring home for later consumption.

In addition to that breakfast, I also take advatage of the LDS Institute Friday class where lunch is included. So that's two free meals (and sometimes extra bagels) every Friday! It definitely makes for a good end to my school week. In fact, last Friday, there was a dinner BBQ for all graduate students at Purdue. So - you guessed it - I got three free meals last week. Score!

T.G.I.F.T. (Thank goodness it's Friday tomorrow!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Update on Purdue

I'm now four weeks into my new life at Purdue (if you count the weeklong orientation before classes started). Things so far are going well and I am excited for the road ahead. As Deidra alluded to, I made some seemingly random decisions at the outset of the program:

1. Wear a tie to school everyday

Putting on a tie kind of helps me focus and take things seriously, and I think can help others (students, professors, etc.) to take me seriously as well. Unfortunately, this goal lasted about a week and a half before I came to the realization that I don't have enough slacks or enough tie-friendly shirts unless I want to look like a missionary and wear a white shirt and suit multiple times per week. I have settled for wearing a tie at least once a week, and at least a collared shirt every day.

2. Never spend money on lunch

I don't make much money as a student, and the money that I do make can be much better spent than by buying a $8 burrito or salad every day. This decision was tested in the first week of school, as a number of students wanted to get together every Wednesday and go to lunch. I made my voice heard and everything has worked out for the best. We still meet for lunch once a week, but some of us bring lunch from home while others go out and get their lunch. We then meet together in the Krannert building to eat.

3. No schoolwork on Sunday

This is a holdover from my Masters program, as I have seen the benefits and blessings that come from keeping this goal. Sundays provide a much needed respite from worrying about work/school. In addition, I am trying to keep Monday and Friday evenings available for family home evening and date night.

4. Treat school like a job

Even though I only have classes Tuesday through Thursday, I go in to school Monday through Friday from morning until late afternoon. I am often the first PhD student to arrive in the morning (even though I don't get in until 9am, usually), though I am not usually anywhere close to being the last one to leave when I walk out the door around 5pm. I use Fridays to plan out all of the textbook readings, articles, assignments, etc. that are coming up for the following week. And Monday gives me a chance to get a head start on the rest of the week. Hopefully, keeping to this schedule will help me keep a majority of my nights and weekends free.

5. Take the bus

We have two buses that pass within a block of our house and Purdue students ride the CityBus for free. So there is really no reason not to take the bus to school and save on gas, especially as a one car family. Alternatively, about once a week I take running clothes to school and run home at the end of the day, which takes approximately the same time as riding the bus.
So there you have the low down on my initial school-related decisions, whether you really cared or not. :-)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Taste the Rainbow

What do you do when you have 40+ bottles of various flavors of Powerade that you are trying to fit on a shelf?

Arrange them by color into a Powerade rainbow, of course!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Iris

My newest recording, a cover version of the Goo Goo Dolls song "Iris," is now available online (iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, CDBaby, etc.). It's only 99 cents! You can listen to the 30-second clip on any of those sites, or you can check out the whole song on YouTube here:


The sound levels aren't exactly the same quality as the downloadable version, but at least it gives you a general idea.

(And sorry it's just a picture, and not an actual "video," but I'm not that talented with iMovie as of yet.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Landed in Lafayette

We arrived at our new home in Lafayette, IN, on Wednesday. In less than 48 hours, we have managed to to the following:

  • Get our city utilities switched over
  • Fix a closet door
  • Purchase a reel lawn mower
  • Mow our back and front lawns with previously mentioned reel mower
  • Consider returning previously mentioned reel mower (we'll give it one more shot now that our grass isn't out of control)
  • Purchase a shovel, hose and sprinkler
  • Plant numerous perennials that made the journey from Idaho/Utah and water them in hopes of bringing them back to full life
  • Install a programmable thermostat
  • Get my Purdue ID
  • Figure out the City Bus routes and take the bus to and from Purdue
  • Lose my cell phone on the bus
  • Retrieve my phone that was thankfully turned in to City Bus
  • Get garbage and recycling set up 
You'll notice that a couple of things not on this list are "unpacking" and "unboxing." Our good friends at ABF/UPack were estimated to arrive today, but apparently are "running behind," which means that a vast majority of our stuff will not arrive until Monday, which is also when I start school. Thankfully, a member of the local church congregation has already come to our rescue in providing an air mattress for us until our bed gets here.

Life in Lafayette has been good to us so far.

P.S. Another item that has yet to happen is getting home internet service set up. So until that happens, blogging and other internet activities will be rare to non-existent.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Box Elder Bugs


These bugs are pretty much my arch-nemesis. They are all over around our fourplex. I kill about 50 a day, and I think I am still losing the battle.

Everywhere I look online, it just tells me that box elder bugs aren't anything to worry about - they won't mate indoors, they won't bite, they don't carry diseases, etc. Basically they are supposedly harmless. But I don't believe it; I think it's all a conspiracy, so I am continuing the fight.

A couple of years ago, the bugs were all over in the Business building at USU. One of my classmates decided to jump up and smash one on the wall with his feet. He successfully got the bug, but lost his balance in the process and ended up with stitches in his head after a run-in with a table on his way to the ground. Not fun for him - but at least we got to postpone the Labor Relations test we were supposed to have that day.

So my only rule for fighting box elder bugs is to keep both feet on the ground.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fantasy Football - WEPCO League, version 6.0!

For the sixth year in row (which is weird since Deidra and I have yet to celebrate our 5th anniversary), the WEPCO free fantasy football league is back on Yahoo! Sports. Click on the image below to join in:


You will need to create a profile, if you don't have one already. Once you do, here is the league information:

League ID#: 146846
Password: roxor

Monday, July 12, 2010

15 Years!?!

Last weekend was my 15 year high school class reunion (go DHS class of '95!).

It was a low-key, potluck dinner and I think I counted about 20 class members (along with spouses and kids) in attendance. That may not seem like many, but it's not a bad percentage when there's only 69 people in my graduating class.

The evening started out a little rigid and formal, as we all went around and took turns telling about where we live, what we do, our families, etc. But it was good to hear about everyone and learn what everyone has been up to.

Once everyone got their dinner and sat down, the conversation was a lot of fun. Hearing stories about classmates' children and spouses, remembering memories from our school days (from elementary through high school) and learning about other classmates who weren't there was really enjoyable. It was like old times again, and I remembered how much I really enjoyed school in Declo and the classmates that I graduated with.

It was a little bit strange being the only one there without kids. And when someone mentioned "Hey, do you realize that we've been graduated long enough to have started over at Kindergarten and graduated all over again?", I had a dose of reality as to how old I really am. But, for the most part, it was a great time and made me feel like a young buck again.

I certainly looking forward to July 11, 2015. 20 year class reunion, here we come!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Some Thoughts on Debt


I came across this article the other day about when you should and shouldn't get into debt. I applaud the fact that it called out our own government as acting in a way that the normal person shouldn't:

"The federal government is a good example of what ordinary folks should not do -- pile debt upon debt forever, taking out new loans to pay off old ones."

Next, the article discusses the potential need to incur debt in a true emergency:

"In a real emergency, you can justify almost anything. A legitimate emergency is a serious illness, or a car problem that will keep you from getting to work, a leaky roof that will ruin your home.

The need for a vacation is not an emergency. Basically, an emergency is something that will seriously undermine your life for years, not something that will put a little damper on your lifestyle."

The author of the article then goes on to give this wise counsel:

"The best policy: borrow only for a home and an education, two purposes with benefits outweighing the costs. If necessary, borrow to get basic, essential transportation, not to get luxuries like leather seats and navigation systems."

All-in-all, I thought it was a pretty good article, and it reminded me of similar counsel that those of us Mormons have gotten from our church leaders for years.

From Bishop J. Richard Clark (serving at the time as a member of the Presiding Bishopric) in 1980:

"Debt is always a burden, but some debt is necessary. Sound business debt, home mortgages, and other forms of 'secured' debt are unavoidable for most of us. However, extravagant use of credit, which comes from yielding to our emotions rather than reason, creates burden . . . Our guide for credit management should be: borrow only what we must, at the lowest rate available, for the shortest time possible."

From Elder Robert D. Hales (of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) in 2009:

"[S]ome debt incurred for education, a modest home, or a basic automobile may be necessary to provide for a family. Unfortunately however, additional debt is incurred when we cannot control our wants and addictive impulses."





In 1987, President Ezra Taft Benson (as Prophet and President of the Church), prophesied of a deep recession, similar to what we are in now, and then offered his counsel:

"Many people do not believe that serious recession will ever come again. Feeling secure in their expectations of continuing employment and a steady flow of wages and salaries, they obligate their future income without thought of what they would do if they should lose their jobs or if their incomes were stopped for some other reason. But the best authorities have repeatedly said that we are not yet smart enough to control our economy without downward adjustments. Sooner or later these adjustments will come . . . 

"In the long run, it is easier to live within our income and resist borrowing from future reserves except in cases of necessity—never for luxuries . . . If you must incur debt to meet the reasonable necessities of life—such as buying an automobile, a house, or furniture—then I implore you, as you value your solvency and happiness, buy within your means and use credit wisely. Resist the temptation to plunge into property far more pretentious or spacious than you really need."

I am grateful for these principles that have been taught to me throughout my life. I may not have adhered to this counsel as much as I should have at times (particularly as a bachelor), but Deidra and I are much happier in life because we try to stay close to this counsel in our marriage.

As the initial article suggested, our own government is a horrible example when it comes to managing finances and staying (or getting) out of debt, and he goes on to explain it further:

"The federal government shows what happens when common-sense rules are broken -- trillions of dollars of debt. Digging out will cause pain for many of us, if not most, through higher taxes or reduced benefits on things like Social Security and Medicare.

Economic recovery can help, as it brings in more tax revenue. But when the federal government uses rosy growth projections to argue its debt will come down, most people laugh. But then many of us turn around and do the same thing, assuming pay raises and investment gains will somehow produce money to pay off our ever-growing debts."

I know it is getting close to July 4th, Independence Day here in the United States, and we should all be paying tribute to this great nation we live in. But I can't help but think that our country is paying the price for bad financial decisions made years ago. And, as a nation, I don't know that we are learning the lessons that we should.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why I Don't Watch Soccer

(besides the fact that we don't have cable)

There have been twelve games so far in the World Cup. In those games:
  • Nine teams have gone the entire game without scoring a goal.
  • Twelve teams only scored one goal the entire game.
  • Only three teams scored more than one goal.
  • Almost half the games (five) have finished in a tie. (Really? A tie? Who finishes games with a tie? That's why overtime was invented!)
I guess I basically like winners and losers and lots of points scored. Therefore, I've never really gotten into soccer.

Soccer fans and purists, feel free to make your case.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Halloween in June

I had to do a training last week at a doctor's office about thirty minutes away from my office. The office had borrowed some equipment from us (for an x-ray training) that I was supposed to bring back to the office with me.

That equipment included a full-size plastic skeleton.

I decided it was no fun to just put the skeleton in the trunk or laying down in the back seat, so I instead let him ride in style:


It was fun to watch the reactions that people gave to me throughout my drive home.

And once I got back to my office and realized that my boss was not in that day, I decided that it was imperative to give him a little surprise for when he came into his office the next morning:


Needless to say, it freaked him out a bit when he opened his office door.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fighting Gravity

I would pay money to go see this . . .


Though, admittedly, I'm not an avid America's Got Talent watcher, Fighting Gravity would be my pick to take it all this season.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Look Alikes

I was just watching a little bit of PiNT this evening, when Frank Nicotero showed a couple of clips from the TLC show Toddlers & Tiaras.

Is it just me, or does this bratty little beauty queen . . .


look an awful lot like Spanky from the Little Rascals movie (on the left) when he dressed in a ballet costume?

Farewell, Kid


I grew up an Atlanta Braves fan, but Ken Griffey Jr. became my favorite baseball player 22 years ago when he stepped on the field as a rookie. I started collecting his baseball cards and I have, by far, more Ken Griffey Jr. cards than any other player.

He started and ended his career in Seattle, while also playing in his home town (Cincinnati) and Chicago in between.  He was always known as "the Kid," possibly because his father (Ken Griffey Sr.) was also a big name baseball player. There has never been the slightest accusation of him being involved in steroids, even though the bulk of his career was during the "Steriod Era." Yet he is still fifth on the all-time home run list.

I saw him play in Seattle; I saw him play against the Orioles in Baltimore; As a missionary, I even stood outside his house outside Cincinnati (which I thought was even cooler than seeing Larry Bird's house in French Lick, IN).

His image is such a big part of my childhood - collecting baseball cards, watching baseball, his posters on the wall, etc. - and I am glad I have been able to continue to cheer him on and support him, instead of losing faith in him like some other player (McGuire, Sosa, Clemens, Canseco, etc.).

Ken Griffey Jr. has recently called it quits with baseball. He will be sorely missed, but a 22-year career is pretty impressive.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

U.S. Representative Hartwell?

Dear Deidra,

Well, now that you're 25, you can officially run for the U.S. House of Representatives! Congratulations! Maybe we should start raising money for your campaign.

AND you can rent a car with extra fees!

Thanks for letting me share your last six birthdays - even though it blows your mind that we've known each other that long.

In other words, the immortal words of Gus-Gus say it all . . .



(Oh, and I love you!)


Bizarre HR

For those of you who are interested, I have started a new blog:

http://bizarrehr.blogspot.com

I will still be blogging personal stories and such on this blog.

The new blog will be focus on human resources, particularly the parts of HR that I find interesting, strage, etc. Even though it is HR focused, hopefully it will appeal to people outside of the HR profession as well.

So, take a look and feel free to comment!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sour Grapes

If you followed the PhD program selection, you know that the University of Alabama was one of the four place to which I was accepted. But I turned them down within a day or so of receiving the initial acceptance news over the phone - which meant that I turned them down before they ever officially sent the acceptance offer letter.

Well, the other day (more than a month and a half after I made my decision), I received a letter from Alabama. When I opened it up, it was a generic form letter telling me that I was not selected from their "large pool of highly qualified candidates" to be admitted in their program.

My guess is that, since they had never sent an acceptance letter to me, my application was tossed in on the reject pile once I had turned them down. But it still made me a little offended. I guess it's the whole "You can't fire me, I already quit!" or "You can't break up with me, because I'm breaking up with you!" feeling.

I'm the one who turned you down, Alabama! If you need to send a rejection letter to feel better about yourself, you may have some insecurity issues you need to work out.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fringe Benefits

The week's not over, yet it has been a particularly fruitful week when it comes to perks at work.

So far I've received:

  • 3 free lunches
  • 12 original Fat Boys
  • 6 Cookies n' Cream Fat Boys
  • 12 Casco Nut Sundaes
  • 2 jars of candy
  • A necklace
  • A Honeyville Farms gift basket including:
    • Biscuit mix
    • Buttermilk pancake mix
    • Fudge brownie mix
    • Cornbread mix
    • Strawberry kiwi smoothie mix
    • Cherry flavored honey 
  • And a good number of Coke Rewards points from bottle caps I scrounged after large trainings serving Coke beverages


I may not get paid in gum, but this is a pretty good second.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Mystery of the Car Keys - Solved!

Congratulations to Whit, who successfully harnessed her inner Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery of the car keys - though it took me a while to figure it out.

I took each comment as they came in:
Under the car? Nope.
In your shoes? Checked my running shoes that I wore to the gym . . . nothing.
In the laundry? Rummaged through what was in the dirty clothes hamper . . . nada.
Wrapped up in smelly workout clothes? The clothes were indeed smelly, but no keys to be found.
Down a vent? Luckily, we don't have vents that open into the abyss, but I checked our radiator heating vent to no avail.
Under the couch? I moved both of our couches and our recliner, and while I found a couple of toys hidden by our nephews - alas, no phone.
Washing machine and dryer? No luck.
In bed? No dice.

After numerous fruitless and frustrating searches, the keys fell into my lap this morning - almost literally. As I dressed for the day, I grabbed by brown dress shoes from my door hanging shoe organizer. As I dropped them to the ground to put them on, I heard a metallic jingle. And - viola! - the keys had reappeared!

As Whit had surmised, they were in my shoe, but not the shoes where I had thought they might be found.

So, Whit, be ready to enjoy your reward . . . as soon as I figure out what that reward will be! Do you like Almond Joy?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Oh, Car Keys, Where Art Thou?



When I was about eighteen, I was in a musical in Oakley, ID, about thirty minutes from where I lived in Declo. I drove that stretch of road almost every day for a good month or two during rehearsals, using whatever car wasn't being used by my parents or older brother.

One day, when driving my dad's 1970 Mustang (which has since been sold, unfortunately), I somehow lost the key to the car. It was a single key and it must have slipped out of my pocket. Despite my prayers, pleading and efforts, my friends and I looked unsuccessfully all over to find it. We ended up leaving the car there that day and having a locksmith come out and fashion a new key.

A couple of summers ago, Deidra and I moved to Washington DC for summer internships. Shortly before we did, I lost my car/house/work keys. Try as I might, I could not find them anywhere. I ended up using our spare car key until we moved to DC and left our car here. At some point during the summer, the people subletting our apartment in Logan found my keys and returned them to me upon our return to Utah. Where and how they found the keys, I don't know.

Now it's happened again. 

If there are any sleuths out there looking to solve the case, here is the scenario:

Monday evening, upon arriving home from work and the gym, I remember locking our car because my work laptop and projector were in there. That was the last time I remember seeing the keys. I have looked in the pants, jacket, and workout clothes I was wearing. I have looked in couch cushions, under couches, in my gym bag, and even in the refrigerator (the first thing I remember doing upon arriving home is getting a Powerade from the fridge).

So, any ideas? There will be a reward to anyone that can successfully guess where they are.

Friday, April 09, 2010

When Video Games Attack

Those of you who remember old-school video games might enjoy this . . .

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Parisian Paradise - Part XV: Final Thoughts

Almost three months after wrapping up our trip to Paris, I am finally ready to conclude my 15-part serial blog about it. But not before a few final thoughts:

  1. The food in France was good, but very heavy and buttery, particularly since we were not there during a season of much in the way of produce. So a variety of buttery bread, meats and cheeses made up most of our diet.
  2. There is definitely a trade-off between going to Paris in the middle of winter - very few tourists and a very inexpensive vacation package also means bitter cold, a lesser variety of food (see above) and fewer tourist attractions open. But, if I had it to do over, I think I would still do it again the same way. I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
  3. The crepes were delicious - just ask Brian. I think he ate at least one at almost every meal. My favorite was my final crepe - Nutella, banana and whipped cream from a street vendor. A-MA-ZING!
  4. Even with our Museum Pass setbacks (visiting Versailles before the pass was purchased, the Notre Dame tower being closed, the Picasso museum being closed, and Sainte Chapelle opening too late for us to visit on our final day), we still easily got our money's worth with the purchase of our Museum Pass. I highly encourage it because buying it gets you in to most of the tourist attractions you want to visit, and it might make you more active during your trip (like it did for us) to ensure you cover your cost, which makes you discover places you might not have otherwise.
And, finally, one of the ideas that Deidra and I had before the trip was to compile our own souvenir by spelling out PARIS by finding letters throughout the artwork and architecture there. And, by jove, I think we did a pretty darn good job!


So, there you have it. I promise I'm done posting about Paris now. I hope you've enjoyed the show.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Boiler Up!*


We have officially made our decision. I will be starting the Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management (OBHR) PhD program at Purdue University starting in mid-August! So start making plans a) to help us move, and/or b) to come visit.

* Purdue's mascot is the Boilermakers, and "Boiler Up!" is a phrase shouted in their fight song. That's about all I know about it at this point, but I look forward to learning more.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Parisian Paradise - Part XIV: The Rodin Museum and the trip home

After Les Invalides, we crossed the road to our last stop of the trip - the Rodin Museum, a museum mainly composed of the works of Auguste Rodin and his students. You might recognize his most famous sculpture here:


The museum was set up in the house where he lived, and the exhibits were pretty cool. But I like the sculpture gardens outside (which included The Thinker) even better than the inside.

We both had to get our official tourist photos while we were there:



Inside the museum, a class of kids came in and were being taught fine art of . . . well, art. Here they are all getting pointers from the teacher on how to draw a nude sculpture (which I found just a little odd):


From there, we went back to the hotel, picked up our bags, and took the train to the airport. While there we shared one last baguette (ham and cheese) before boarding our flight to NYC:


We stayed that night with Frank (one of Deidra's best friends from high school) in New York.


We got to eat some great late-night falafel, and Deidra got to stomp around in Frank's dad's mukluks.

The next morning, we caught our flight back to Utah and the amazing experience came to an end (if you don't count the three months of posting about it that followed).

Friday, April 02, 2010

2010 PhD Breakdown - part 3

After no news for the past couple of weeks, things started moving pretty quickly yesterday. Here is the latest on the PhD process:

Purdue University - I am still weighing the offer that they gave me. They have been in contact with me quite frequently and I have talked with four different professors there regarding potential admission.

Texas A&M - After being on their waiting list, I was finally offered admission yesterday! The interesting thing is that they haven't had any of their prospective students turn them down as of yet, but they decided to fund one more position and make me that offer. It's a very competitive offer and definitely makes me give them strong consideration as well.

The University of Alabama - After not hearing from them for about a month, I got a call yesterday morning and set up an interview for later that day. I went through the interview and received another call later yesterday afternoon with an offer of admission!

Looking at the schools and the programs, I think the decision comes down to Purdue or Texas A&M. I will probably contact the University of Alabama today and decline their offer. But Deidra and I have got a tough decision to make over the weekend. But this kind of decision is better than the "What do I do now?" decision that I had to make last year after being rejected from all of the schools.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Parisian Paradise - Part XIII: The Conciergerie & Les Invalides

While Brian and Whit left Paris the same day we did, their flight left bright and early, while we had a good part of the day to finalize our sightseeing before flying out that evening.

We decided that we should try to use our museum pass as efficiently as possible for our final day, to get the best bang for our buck. To do that, we thought we would start at Sainte Chapelle, a gothic chapel in the former royal palace of Paris. It looked rather drab from the outside, but rumor (and Rick Steeves) promised beauty within. Unfortunately, it was closed for some reason and wouldn't re-open until later in the day. Bummer.

So instead, we went next door to the Conciergerie, the former royal palace, which also served as a prison during the French Revolution. Many of the prisoners were held there while awaiting their trials and eventual beheadings - including Mary Antoinette. It was a little on the creepy side. We didn't get many pictures there, but we did snap a couple:



From there, we hopped on the metro to Les Invalides, which was a former hospital for aged and unwell soldiers, started in 1670 by Louis XIV. These days it houses the military museum, a pair of chapels (one constructed for the veterans and one for the royalty), and Napoleon's tomb (among other things).

On our way there, you'll never guess what we spotted:


That Eiffel Tower shows up in the craziest of places!

France's military museum was quite a bit more impressive than U.S. military museums, since you have history dating back so far that you get to see things like this:



But neither Deidra nor I were huge military buffs, and we had other things to see before catching our flight. So we didn't spend a ton of time here.

Instead, we walked through the the military museum to get to Napoleon's Tomb, which is basically the central point of the structure.

The gold dome that marked the tomb (and adjoining royal chapel) was a rather easy landmark to follow:


Once there, Napoleon greeted us all proud and blinged-out:


His inferiority complex must have continued after his death, because his tomb was enormous! Here is a view from above - surrounded by guardian angels:


And here is our unsuccessful attempt to get a non-blurry shot with us in it from ground-level:


On the way out, Deidra had to make sure to get a picture by this sign, because it reminded her of a part in the book Madeline:


Then we made one more stop before we caught our plane home, but you might have to wait another week or so before I get up the motivation to blog about that one.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Parisian Paradise - Part XII: Maraise Walk & Orangerie

After the Montmartre Walk, we took the metro to another part of town for another one of Rick Steeves' walks: the Maraise Walk. These walks were some of our favorite parts of Paris, since we actually walked through the streets and got to see a lot of Paris, rather than just metroing from famous landmark to famous landmark.

One of the great things about Paris was all of the courtyards, like the one where the LDS church was located. There were a few of these courtyards on this walk, including Hotel de Sully:


There was a nice piece of artwork there in which we all felt the need to frame ourselves:





We also saw the Place des Vosges, the first planned square in Paris. It was built by Henry IV in the early 1600s:


It includes a house where Victor Hugo once lived - though, of course, that was closed on the day we were there.

And, while we didn't get any pictures while we were there, the tour also included the Holocaust Memorial and Museum, or "Deportation Memorial" as it is often called. That was a very thought-provoking and humbling experience to walk through a timeline of what happened, particularly to French Jews, during the Holocaust. The final exhibit was a walkway that was filled from floor to ceiling on all of the walls with pictures of children were died and/or were never recovered as a result of the holocaust.

That evening, we parted ways with Whit and Brian, as Deidra and I wanted to maximize the use of our Museum Pass by going to the Orangerie Museum. This is one of the smaller art museums in Paris, which was a good thing, since we got there 45 minutes before closing.

The main draw of the Orangerie were the famous gigantic water lilies paintings by Claude Monet:


In fact, the room was built specifically for these paintings. Each painting was about 4 feet higher, and about 20 feet long.

There were also other rooms with a number of other artist, such as Matisse, Picasso and Renoir, but after being through so many museums, there wasn't anything else that caught our attention enough to photograph it.

2010 PhD Breakdown - part 2

Since my first post, the following has happened:

Purdue University - I made it through the phone interviews and have been offered admission into their PhD in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management (OBHR)! This was my top choice since I started this process over a year ago.

Texas A&M - I am #1 on their waiting list and will most likely be offered admission, as their first crop of students offered admission will likely have at least one that declines admission (their PhD program admits more student than Purdue's).

Temple University - I was not offered admission into their PhD program. Which, frankly, didn't surprise me.

University of Alabama - I still have not heard either way from Alabama. This, frankly, does surprise me. I'm not diggin' their lack of communication.

Washington State University - I have contacted WSU and declined their offer of admission. I feel like Purdue's program is a better fit for me. It felt kind of good to be the one turning the school down, rather than vice versa.

So right now, I would say there's about a 75% chance that we will end up at Purdue, though we'll have to see what offers Texas A&M and Alabama make (if any).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Own Milton

In my place of employment, there is an employee that reminds me a bit of Milton from Office Space. While not quite as quiet as Milton, he doesn't talk much, has large, thick glasses and spends most of his time in a dark, cluttered office. We don't work closely together, but I do associate with him from time to time.

The great part is that he has absolutely no idea what my name is. Which makes it all the better every time I say "hi" to him when we pass each other in the hall. I usually greet him by name, and am always interested in his responses, which have included the following:

"Hey man!"
"Hey you!"
"How's it going?"
"Hey there, buddy!"
"Hi Matt!" (I can't be sure on this one - it might have been 'man')
"Yo!"

I even had some work I needed from him, so I wrote him a note on a post-it and clearly printed my name at the bottom of the instructions. When he brought me the finished product, all I got was a "hey." So I'm still not sure he knows/remembers my name.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Parisian Paradise - Part XI: Sacre Coeur & Montmarte

Monday morning, we took the "metropolitan" out to Anvers:


And from there, we headed up a narrow uphill street filled with souvenir shops. After making our way up the street (and picking up some souvenirs on the way), we stop for a photo op before climbing the mountain of stairs up to Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, or Basilica of the Sacred Heart (not this Sacred Heart):


One we got up near the top, we took a breather to take in the view and the harp music (one of the few performers we saw out on the streets of Paris during our trip):


Then it was up even more stairs before we could get inside:


I tried to tell Deidra all about what Rick Steeves has to say about Sacre Coeur, but she just wanted take pictures and look cute:


Once inside, Deidra continued her undercover, covert (and therefore blurry) picture-taking of things we weren't supposed to take pictures of - like a big group on nuns in the middle of a worship service:


Sacre Coeur was very beautiful and ornate throughout. Here the ceiling artwork:


It's Christ and the Holy Ghost as a dove. God is hidden behind the pillars on the right of the picture. I believe Joan of Arc was also in the painting, under Christ. And there was a big statue of her as well. Those French really love her, which I guess is understandable, as she is a patron (matron?) saint of France.

After Sacre Coeur, we walked around Montmartre, which is the hill on which Sacre Coeur was built. But it has a number of other claims to fame. It was there place where a large number of painters lived and fraternized, including Picasso, Monet, Dali and Van Gogh.  There are still painters that gather along the square still today. But, be careful, they'll offer to sketch you for free, and then get mad if you don't want to purchase it when they are done.

Montmarte is also the setting of the opera La Boheme, along with the movie Moulin Rouge - which was based on the opera.

We saw the two last remaining "moulins" - or windmills, including this one:


We stopped at shops along our way, bought some art, postcards, toys and food (including our official french gallette, complete with a king tile in the middle).

And we finished our tour at the famous and infamous Moulin Rouge:


The tour continued down the Pigalle area, which is basically Paris's red light district, but we decided we could skip that part.