Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Provo Post 1: Introduction

I've lived in Provo almost continuously since 2003. (Traveling abroad has taken me out of the city on a couple of occasions for months at a time.) For most of my time in Provo I have lived in the historic Joaquin neighborhood. I also lived in Provo for a year from 2000 to 2001, and I was born in Provo in the early 80s. For what it's worth (not much to some, more to others) I'm also a descendant of the prominent families that founded and built the city up.

I've decided to write a few blog posts on Provo, which because of my background is both my native and adoptive home. It is not my favorite city on earth, but it is my favorite city among those in which I have been a long term resident. I also believe that despite what many people say, it is not "lame" or boring, and that it is definitely getting better and better.

I want to write these posts because Provo seems to be approaching a unique and exciting moment. It frequently ranks as a good place to live, a city with promising economic prospects, and a place that is projected to grow dramatically in coming years. On the other hand, there obviously are a lot of competing visions about what Provo should be. The neighborhood where I just bought a house (and where I had been living for years) has been roiled by controversy over a recent change in paving laws. Provo's downtown is pathetic (but improving). Many aspects of the youth culture — including successful businesses— are seemingly marginalized, or worse, but government and older residents. As someone who is choosing to live in Provo, I have strong opinions about all of these issues, and others.

For my part, I’ve lived in the city as an undergrad, a grad student, a working professional, a home owner, a musician, a filmmaker, and a bunch of other things. I recently bought an old home on a tree-lined street. I was attracted to the city by the music scene, the (unfortunately ebbing and flowing) arts scene, the bike-ability, the climate, and other things. So there's a brief introduction for anyone (or no one?) who cares.

Public Radio

I hate it when I'm driving around and I change the radio channel from KRCL to KUER (because, after all, those are the only two radio stations worth listening to in Utah) and KUER is super quiet. So often the volume is way lower than other stations, and to make matters worse half the time the program that's airing is taking a call from someone on a phone. So garbled cell phone noise and quiet volume. It makes it so hard to hear/understand anything. (I realize this post makes me sound like an old man.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Friends Events"

I've become terrible at checking Facebook events, but I recently noticed a feature (on the right side of the screen) called "Friends Events."

Why does the feature exist? Is it so I see all the cool things everyone else is up to, that I won't be attending? Is it so I can see how my friends in other cities are leading exciting, cosmopolitan lives? Is it so I can sit at home crying on the weekends, knowing that the cool kids didn't invite me to their hip shindigs?

I do not know. But I have to say, I'm not in love with this feature.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Becoming Immune to Mosquitos

I have so many mosquito bites that last night I literally could not sleep. Many are from going down to the lake a couple of nights ago, but many others are simply from being outside in the evening around my home.

But I’m comforted by the (little-known) fact that the more bites one suffers, the more immune to bites that person becomes. I first learned this last year, when Laura and I went into the Amazon rainforest without any sort of immunizations. While reading about how all sorts of diseases could kill us, I also read that locals don’t get bites because after a lifetime in a particular place they’re immune (though my understanding is that they wouldn’t necessarily be immune to mosquito-transmitted diseases.)

Anyway, Laura and I didn’t die in the Amazon — though my leg did swell up quite a bit from a bit — but after we returned I read more about becoming immune to bites. Apparently the more a particular species bites you, the less you get irritated by the bites. Many of the articles on this phenomenon start out by trying to explain the fact that most people suffer far more bites when they go on trips than when they’re at home. Some people simply think that that happens because there are more mosquitos where they travel too (which could also be true), but the biggest factor is that the mosquitos in that new location are really just a different species.

The downside to this is that I recently read that there are more than 9,000 species of mosquito in the world, and that many different ones can exist in the same place. (Judging by the way my body differently reacts to mosquitoes at my house and at the nearby lake, I’d bet that they are slightly different species.)

But in any case, while I sit here trying to resist scratching the many bites I have, I’m also looking forward to the day when I have become immune to local mosquitos.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Provo in Businessweek

Businessweek recently ran a story about Mormons and business. It’s fairly interesting, but on the fifth page it describes Provo as

“a city of roughly 100,000, laid out on a grid of colossal six-lane streets built up into a maze of housing developments, hotels, and fast-food chains.”

I think the tone of the sentence is (meant to be) vaguely insulting, and at very least it’s meant to contrast the city to others that have successful business schools. But I also think its really kind of interesting. It makes Provo seem so much bigger, and wilder, than I typically perceive it to be.

Clearly, whoever wrote the sentence has never been to Provo. After all, I can’t think of any six lane streets, and I wouldn’t describe it as a maze (when I think of maze-like cities I think of alley-filled places in Europe or South America).

But in any case and despite it’s intentions, I don’t think it’s a wholly unflattering description.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Laundry Chute

I just used the laundry chute at my house. Yes, you read that correctly. The laundry chute. At my house. As in, a classy and discrete hole that drops dirty clothing from one floor to another.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Provo Bakery

Today I felt like a traitor. I needed to get some sort of treat to bring to work, and I got raspberry rolls from Shirley's Bakery. After living next to the Provo Bakery (which bizarrely has no website) for months, going to Shirley's seemed like a betrayal. I've eaten and loved so many things from the Provo Bakery. I've sung it's praises to so many people.

But the honestly, the Provo Bakery needs to step up its game. A lot. First, get a website. Second, I keep getting dried out things from them. The more bakeries I go to, the more disappointing the Provo Bakery is becoming. And that's terrible. I say this not to be mean, or as a disgruntled customer. I still love the Provo Bakery. Rather, I'm trying to offer constructive criticism. I feel like I can never go wrong with the orange rolls or the Mexican wedding cakes. But the cookies? The bread? I feel like I can almost never go right with the donuts. Please, improve. I love you.

So, today, I needed something good, and I needed to know it would be good. I've brought all the good things from the Provo Bakery to work, and so I turned to Shirley's. And you know what, it was delicious.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Often, I microwave things for 11 seconds, or 22 seconds, or 33 seconds, or so on. I think it's because it's easier to press 1 twice, than press both a 1 and a 0. Lazy, perhaps. But over the course of my lifetime all those saved milliseconds will add up.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mormons and Evangelicals

I just read this post, by LDS church spokesperson and Washington Post blogger Michael Otterson. Though I think Otterson is overly idealistic/unrealistic about how politically neutral and diverse the church is, I really loved the tone and attitude of the piece. Finally, a Mormon officially pointing out how idiotic people are. Finally, something that is aggressive, combative. Usually you only see that sort of attitude when Mormon leaders are criticizing "the world" and it's moral decline. The only thing that could have been better is a(n unedited) post simply saying "F*** You, moronic evangelical bloggers."

Movies I have watched “lately”

Below are the movies I’ve watched in the last little while. My favorites were probably Monsters, Elegy, and Insomnia, though I’d recommend all of them.

Mary and Max
Union Station
Paper Heart
Inside Job