Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Real Conversation

[After having watched a trailer for a show who’s leading actress is Zoe something.]

Me: Have you ever noticed that everyone is named Zoe these days?

Little J: No.

Me: [Pretends to take a puff on a joint, and then hands it to Little J.] 

Little J: Are you trying to burn me?

Me: No. Do you want some?

Little J: No way. I don't want the black lung.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Silver Lining

My favorite things about the days following Easter: discount Easter chocolate, leftover ham, and deviled eggs. Not surprisingly, it's all about food.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Latest Favorite T-Shirt

Thanks to my sister in Olympia, I have a new favorite T-Shirt to wear:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chalk Circles

BYU Student 1: "Apparently if you draw a line with chalk, ants won't walk over it."

BYU Student 2: "They're Karl G. Maeser ants."
Perhaps one of the most famous stories told on BYU campus it the story that illustrates Karl G. Maeser's sense of integrity. According to legend, Karl G. Maeser said the following:
"I have been asked what I mean by 'word of honor.' I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls--walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground--there is a possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I'd die first!"
While I can appreciate the intent of this quote, I also wonder if it is overly celebrated. Wouldn't it just be better to say that he made a mistake and that it was stupid to stay in the circle and die? Isn't it better sometimes to be reasonable than principled? Isn't our willingness to say we are wrong and make changes every bit as worthy of celebration as zealous portrayals of virtue?

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Brief Encounter with Hinduism

Our new neighbors finally moved in this past weekend. They've been remodeling the house for several months, making changes in the upstairs and remodeling the basement. They announced last week that they would be holding a special house blessing ceremony on Saturday, and they invited everyone in our cul-de-sac to attend. Wanting to be a good neighbor and being somewhat curious about Hinduism, I accepted their invitation.

When Mark and I got there, the Hindu priest was still getting set up for the ceremony. We were invited to take a tour of the house, and I was shocked to see that it was completely furnished. I had talked to the father a couple of times during renovation about helping him move everything in. I hadn't seen any signs of moving, no moving truck or furniture vans. I was expecting the house to be completely empty. But it wasn't. Somehow they had moved in. Perhaps it was in the dead of night to avoid making their neighbors feel the need to help? I'm not sure. Let's just say that it was the first clandestine move I've ever (can't say seen) known about.

When we were invited to the ceremony, we were told that it would last two hours. I didn't understand at the time how it could possibly last that long. I thought that they were perhaps overestimating. They weren't. I didn't realize just how many gods they had to address in the ceremony, and each god had to be given its due attention. We watched forever as the priest chanted in a sing-song voice and family members tossed different objects onto the altar. Not understanding very much about what was going on, I was surprised that I still felt somewhat connected to the ceremony, absorbing the cadence of the prayers and the spiritual energy of the believers. While I clearly felt like an outsider, I connected with the way the religious ceremony bound the neighbors and their friends together. It was energizing and relaxing at the same time. Eastern religions seem to give me that feeling.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Competing Pessimism

It's been drab and gloomy all over Utah Valley for a couple of months, and then, *pop*! In the space of five minutes, there were suddenly flowers. The daffodils were opening in the flower beds on the southside of buildings. The apricot trees were blooming. Students were sitting on the lawn with jeans rolled up to their knees.

True to our pessimistic personalities, Steve (my good friend who shall remain nameless except for the Steve part) and I saw this as a sign of impending doom. "We're not going to get any apricots this year," Steve said to me. "Unless I put a giant parachute over the tree. And since that would totally depend on me to make it happen, it won't."

"It's already warming up and we're not even to April yet," I said. "We'll probably run completely out of water by July. Everything's going to dry up this summer, including me. Me and the fish will be flopping helplessly in small puddles of mud, eyes being burned out by the sun, gasping for air and hoping against hope for rain."

Other people were just enjoying the flowers. Silly, stupid people.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Look out, Ginny!

I think that the spring weather is starting to get to me, because just yesterday I took a look at my bookshelf and decided that there were some books that I no longer needed. I cleared off a stack of books about 2 feet tall, and then called my local book dealer to stop by and check out my stack.

I get several offers each year from used books dealers who are willing to grease my palm with cash in order to pick up the textbooks that I get gifted. In the past, this money has financed my malt ball addiction. But when the bookstore stopped stocking malt balls, I began to question the practice of selling the textbooks. It always feels a little slimy when I sell the books to the dealers. They aren't really welcome on campus, and when they do business, they always come into your office and make sure the door is shut behind them. After they scan your books with their handheld scanner/computer, they pull out a huge wad of cash and peel off the right amount of bills. I guess it's what you should expect when you deal with an illegitimate market.

Anyway, of my 2-foot stack, the dealer only wanted two books. Figures. But I didn't complain when he handed me $32 and left me with nearly the same sized stack. That's when I decided that I would put the books outside my office with a sign that said, "Free books!" Just because I couldn't get cash for them didn't mean that I wanted them back on my shelves.

When Mark stopped by later and saw the stack of books, he was highly alarmed. Looking through the titles, he accused me of trying to pull a Lucius Malfoy, sticking some poor soul with the equivalent of a Tom Riddle Diary. He said that any day now we would find dead chickens and messages written in blood on campus. I've never been accused of dealing in the dark arts before, and I'm pretty sure that it will enhance my image as a mathematics teacher. I may even start calling my classes "succumb to the dark arts."