Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pioneer Day

I just discovered that Pioneer Day is a paid holiday at my work. To say that I am happy would be an understatement.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Today, while I was chopping down a tree, a woman walked by in the street, pulling a cooler in a wagon.
"Tamale?" she said, pointing to the cooler.
I considered, then gestured with my fingers to wait a second. I ran inside and found a couple of dollars, then ran back out.
"Cheekin?" she asked (that's my best attempt at phonetic spelling). I nodded yes. Then added "Si!" for good measure.
She rummaged through her cooler and found a couple of chicken tamales. After a second she found them, put them in a brown lunch bag, and handed them to me. Then she more or less said "Tienes Agua para tomar?" (That's my best attempt at using my Portuguese to understand, and write, her Spanish). Luckily, she also made a drinking motion with her hands.
I ran inside and got her a glass of water. When I came back out, a guy had pulled up in a truck and was buying something like 20 tamales. He told me he had purchased them from the woman before and that they were great. Before he left, he wished the woman a good weekend in what I'd describe as "Mormon mission president Spanish," i.e. heavily accented but grammatically correct Spanish.
While the woman was drinking the glass of water, I said "Como...tu...chamas?" (That is literally what I said, not an estimate.) She responded by telling me her name was Consuela.
Anyway, the woman eventually left and went on selling tamales to other people nearby. I eventually tried the tamales, and they were delicious.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday and animal cookies

Because I work at a newspaper, I occasionally have to work on Sundays. May is my month, where I work each Sunday for four hours, and work 9 hour days four other times during the week. It's an interesting schedule, that has both pros and cons.

However, today a serious con turned out to be Circus Animal cookies. Actually, it turned out to be a con is pro's clothing.

Apparently on Friday (when I was not working) my part of the office had an little celebration in honor of the pending Rapture. People brought treats, etc.

But when I got to the office, some of that food was still sitting out. Actually a bunch of cans of root beer and half a bag of the cookies were still siting out. Over the course of my time at work today, I have eaten most of those cookies. They aren't really good. In small quantities, they can be alright, in a nostalgic sort of way. But after handfuls and handfuls, they get pretty disgusting. I can say that, because that's what I have experienced today. I don't know why I did it, but learn from my mistake and never eat half a bag of Circus Animal cookies.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Utah Valley Spring Art Show

Earlier today I was perusing the blogosphere when I saw a post about the 2011 Utah Valley Spring Art Show. Somehow I hadn't heard about it, but it sounded cool so Laura and I went, along with Laura's brother, Will. I figured it would be cool, and I heard it would be in the top of the big Zion's Bank building, which I was excited to see.

But as it turns out, it was much more than cool. Most of the floors had tons of art, with each floor having different live music and catering. There were also a ton of people there. (I don't know how I didn't hear about it earlier.) As it turned out, it was one of the coolest things I have been to in Provo in a while. It was also good to see that the arts are still very much alive in the area, considering the general collapse of the student-ish art scene in the 100 Block over the last couple of years.

Anyway, by the time we left, I was already looking forward to next year.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Movies I have watched "lately"

So I moved about a week and a half ago. That meant no instant streaming while we set up internet at our new home, plus way less time to watch movies generally. So here is the very small list, which spans probably at least two weeks.

Black Swan
The Knack... and How to Get It
Mean Streets (I'm actually still in the process of watching this one)

I also watched significant parts of:
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

I listed those last two separately because, unlike Mean Streets, there is a good chance that I won't finish them. Neither were terrible, but neither were great either and I just don't have the time for them at the moment.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


This evening Laura had to get some things for her school so we went to Costco, aka Price Club. (We do not have a membership, nor do I really ever plan to get membership, but she had her school's card.)

Anyway, visiting the store was about as nostalgic an experience as I've ever had. When I was little I used to go to Price Club with my mom, and it was a huge adventure. The store was sublimely big, almost a city, or maybe even a civilization, within a building. To this day I don't think we ever reached the outer regions of the structure.

On really special occasions, my mom would get one of those flat cart-palate things, and my sister and I would get to ride on it. We always asked to do this, but only rarely were allowed. Sometimes we climbed through the products — probably to our mom's embarrassment, but to our own delight. (I saw some kids doing this tonight and felt like Holden Caulfield. Stay in the boxes kids, I wanted to say, it doesn't get better than that.)

In any case, there was always a wealth of free samples, unexplored corridors, and mysterious products filled with the allure of the unknown.

In short, and like the world itself, as a child Costco was filled with wonder, promise and possibility.

Before tonight I hadn't been to Costco in years, and as an adult it was considerably less exciting (I could see the walls, for example, destroying the illusion of an endless landscape of products.) Still, the store smelled the same way that it used to — sort of like a clean warehouse filled with packaging materials. There were also products I haven't seen since my childhood, and consequently associate with that period. Things like family sized boxes of fruit rollups and granola bars, huge packages of cleaning supplies and toiletries. Ice cream sandwiches. Kirkland products. Some things even brought back specific memories, like the dog food and the golden retriever my family had when I was five, or the double boxes of milk and the structures we built out of those same boxes.

Like I said, I don't plan to get a membership to Costco. It's sort of a nightmare as an adult. But occasionally, when I got a whiff of the bakery or the book section, that nightmare turned into a dream.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hulu Commercials

What's with the commercials on Hulu that are either a still image, or a moving image embedded within a still frame? I get the idea that they are designed to be clicked on (maybe they're supposed to look like a website?) and that they're probably some new innovation. But these commercials are ugly. They're sort of confusing. And they really don't take advantage of technology the way their designers probably anticipated.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Of Course...

I run about 5.5 miles a day, six days a week, in Provo’s Joaquin neighborhood. I’ve been doing it for almost 3 years now, and for the most part it’s pretty pleasant. However, one major drawback is how many large dogs are on the loose. I’ve been chased by German shepherds, pitbulls, and a variety of mean looking mutts. I don’t have a problem with dogs (though I generally prefer looking at them from a distance), but I’m always astonished at how many people just let their large, aggresive pets roam free (or who don’t take adequate measures to restrain these animals).

Anyway, about a month ago I was running up a street (right by the house I recently moved into, coincidentally) when an insane doberman pinscher ran out from a drive way and started chasing me. I was pretty terrified. Once I got a little way down the street the dog stopped, but I was once again left wondering what kind moron unleashes such a beast on the public. WTF.

Well, then a few days ago I was driving by the same house with Laura when she noticed a shirtless guy working on his bullet bike. Then she noticed a dog, and pointed it out to me. That’s when I realized it was the same dog.

Now, I’m sure there are lots of cool people who ride bullet bikes and like to show off their abs to the world. But generally, I have a negative association with both of these activities. Most of the people I have met who ride bullet bikes would best be described as pricks, and the guys who show off their abs to the unsuspecting public come off a douche bags to me. I’m not saying that everyone who enjoys these activities could be described this way, I’m just saying that my personal experience has brought me into contact with such people. Unfortunately.

So, as Laura and I passed we noted how fitting it would be, that such a person would also have a near-rabid assault dog that would be allowed to roam freely around the neighborhood. Of course, we thought, what a douche. Of course, this guy doesn't care about anyone because he lets his dog scare people, creates sound pollution with his crotch rocket, and implicitly gloats about how he must spend hours and hours at the gym. Of course.

Did we stereotype? Did we profile? Yes, of course. How could we have helped ourselves, when he fit so many stock features of an idiot.

This story has no uplifting moral — something like how we met the guy and he turned out to be really cool and then we learned to not judge others, or be nicer, or something. No, in my heart of hearts I still think the guy was just as lame as he seemed.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wanting a candidate to win...

... doesn't mean he/she will.

Living in Utah, I sometimes have political conversations with people. A typical trajectory for these conversations involves me advocating anything left of far-right extremism, while whoever I'm talking to uses a bristling arsenal of logical fallacies to refute my points.

But sometimes in these conversations I encounter the view that something is going to happen, but for no apparent reason. In other words, people want it to happen, therefore it will (they think).

A good example of this — and something I've seen countless times lately — is the notion that Mitt Romney is going to be the next president. Romney, though perhaps the current Republican front runner, is not doing great now and I think he'll only do worse and worse as the election season gears up. Here is why:

1. He's Mormon. Though Romney is sometimes compared to JFK, Mormons don't enjoy anything close to the status that Catholics did in the mid twentieth century. I simply don't think Romney will survive a Republican primary, where his religion will be viewed with great skepticism. I think Mormons sometimes don't realize that just because people have a generally favorable impression of the religion they won't automatically be willing to put up with a Mormon leader. And, despite the impression within Mormonism that the church is widely recognized and respected, a lot of people know nothing about the church, while others hold negative or wildly distorted views of it.

2. Slipperiness. Even if Romney did overcome the religion issue, no one really knows where Romney stands on anything, and the general sense is that he's willing to say and do whatever it takes to win. In other words, he's viewed by many as someone without integrity.

3. His record. Romney is ultimately a moderate. The Onion recently posted a funny article about this. But the problem is that it's absolutely true. Romney did some impressive things in Mass., but now he has to try to "overcome" most of the political accomplishments he's had.

These are basic facts that anyone who spends ten minutes a day reading political news would know.

But strangely, I keep running into people who either A) aren't aware that these perceptions exist, or B) don't think they'll matter.

If someone thinks that these points are wrong, or if they think they have counterpoints that they think addresses them, well then fair enough. But I've been surprised a lot of people I meet don't fall into either of those categories. They want Romney to win, so they think he will. When I ask them why, they usually just give some vague answer. (I wish someone would just be honest with me and say "he's Mormon, and he looks like a president.") And even when they have good reasons, they have no good response to the fact that Romney has perhaps more obstacles going into a Republican primary than any other major candidate.

I can testify to the fact that wanting a candidate to win doesn't ensure anything (Obama's victory was the first time in my life that my candidate won).

But more interestingly, I think that this attitude actually is self-defeating. I don't think that Romney has a chance. But I think that in four or eight years, Huntsman might. He's a moderate and a Mormon, but he doesn't yet have a reputation for flip-flopping and political two-facedness. If moderate Republicans, Mormons and others wanted to elect a candidate like Romney, they would do well to abandon him and begin supporting Huntsman. In 2012 he can raise his profile, and by 2016 he'll be a strong candidate.

In the end, I don't really care if my friends, family and neighbors support Romney. I'll be voting against whoever gets the Republican nomination anyway.

But think the situation is illustrative of the fact that wishful thinking alone is not enough.

I'm a reporter

I just realized that a year ago today my internship at the Daily Herald ended. I was the features intern and covered arts and entertainment in Utah County.

By the time it was over I had discovered that I really like newspaper writing, and had decided to make a go at being a reporter. I figured if I kept at it I should be able to get a job within a few years.

But, it only took about six months, two of which were spend out of the country not looking for jobs (after returning to the country I applied for hundreds of jobs, in and out of the news industry). With today being the one year mark since my internship ended, I was thinking about how interesting and great that fact is. Today I'm a court and crime reporter at the Daily Herald. Huzzah.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Beehive Bazaar

This weekend one of the best things in Provo is taking place. It's the Beehive Bazaar! Basically the bazaar is a craft, art, and cool-stuff fair held in the Provo Women's Center. Except for the one held in American Fork, I've attended all of these for the last few years. There is always a lot of cool things for sale by local artisans. In fact this is sort of the physical manifestation of what Salon was talking about in the article "Mormon Housewife Blogs."

However, as a male with no kids, I can also say that the bazaar has a wider appeal. I will definitely be attending, and so should you.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Movies I have watched this week (or so)


All of these films ended up being pretty great, but my favorites were probably Hanna, Dear Murderer, and Smiles of a Summer Night.