Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Ten

I know I’m a complete goober for not writing these past two months, but seeing as it’s the end of the year, I think it only fitting that I write a “Best of” list.

Top 10 (Quasi-chronological) Memorable Experiences of 2010

1. This past January, on my way home from the Mangy Moose Bar in Jackson, Wyoming, I saw my very first real life, in the flesh, bona fide moose. Well, actually it was two moose: a mommy and a baby. Also, when I was in Canada, this September, I saw an adolescent buck moose in a field. So, essentially, I saw the whole “family.” I am one lucky ducky.

2. This June, I drove 1,000 miles on my motorcycle to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I saw and met amazing artist, and I learned that Bluegrass Hippies really are the most gracious and generous bunch you’re ever likely to meet.

3. Most of the summer was spent writing my Master’s thesis. Then, this August, I successfully defended it.

4. I survived my first semester of Spanish, this fall (I know that doesn’t sound like much to the rest of you, but languages might as well be advanced O-chem to me).

5.I saw the Ice Fields, in Alberta Canada. I just have to say this: they are the most beautiful natural edifices I have ever seen (And that’s saying a lot, considering I’ve been to Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, Teton, Redwood, Reiner, Zion, Bahia Honda, Arches, and Bryce Canyon US National Parks). Nothing I’ve seen in North America, thus far, has impressed me as much.

6.This November, I finally visited the Ozarks. They are beautiful!

7.My “bunny experiment” was a complete success! My does dropped nine healthy baby bunnies this Thanksgiving.

8.A few weeks ago, I graduated with my Masters.

9.Two Saturdays ago, I was licensed to carry police grade pepper spray (OC spray). That’s 18% capsaicin. Let me give you some idea about how hot that is. A bell pepper is rated 0 on the Scoville scale. A Cayenne Pepper is rated 30,000. Pure capsaicin is rated 16,000,000. In order to get a license, they spray the OC directly into your eyes, and then force you to perform tasks. I’ve included a video for your amusement. My sister has seen it at least five times, and she thought it was hysterical.

10. Favorite Five Films: Winter’s Bone, Hereafter, The King’s Speech, Easy A, Inception

video

Friday, November 5, 2010

Everything Has a Price

Eight years ago, I walked into my favorite English professor’s office and said with more enthusiasm than conviction: “Sir, I want your job! What will it take?”

At the time, I was getting a “B-” in his class; so he could just as easily have belittled me straight out of the room. Nevertheless, he kindly, but honestly stated what it would take. He gave me this list.

1. Acquire a working knowledge of a classic language.
2. Achieve acceptable GRE Scores.
3. Attain a stellar GPA.
4. Maintain an inexhaustible love for reading and writing.
5. Accept the unavoidable 6-8 more years of school after the BA.

After he gave me this helpful but seemingly insurmountable inventory of requisites, he expressed that he was less than wholeheartedly excited about my chances. Who could blame him, really? At the time, my GPA was in the toilet. I didn’t have a language. I was incredibly intimidated by the GRE and thought there was no way I could take it. And as much as I loved to read, my writing was in dire need of a coach.

Flash forward. I am now finished with my BA and MA. And after years of working on the list, I feel much better about numbers three, four, and five. Nevertheless, these past few months, dealing with numbers one and two, have been particularly heinous exercises in self-torture.

I hate Spanish.
I hate studying for the GRE.
I hate it when I can’t find my keys when I’m already 5 minutes late to work.


I wish the golden nuggets of knowledge in these areas would be given to me at the same speed everything else is.


In any case, I take my GRE on Tuesday. Pray for me my loved ones. Pray for me in my foolish aspirations.

(Like all things involving ambition, I must pay the high price to visit those heavenly stars.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Different, But Not Less: Temple Grandin

“I do not cry easily at the movies; years can go past without tears. I have noticed that when I am deeply affected emotionally, it is not by sadness so much as by goodness.”—Roger Ebert

Although I cannot say “years go past,” without me crying at the movies, I can say, in all sincerity, that I agree with Roger: “When I am deeply affected emotionally [by a film], it is not by sadness so much as by goodness.”

This past weekend, I watched a film about a remarkable woman named Temple Grandin. Grandin was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1947. She hadn’t learned to speak by age four, and subsequently, Temple was diagnosed with autism. Awareness and studies on autism at the time were nonexistent, and Temple’s parents were told by psychologists that she was a “childhood schizophrenic.” Consequently, they were encouraged to institutionalize her.


Temple’s mother, Eustacia, a Harvard-educated woman, would not accept this advice. Instead she hired tutors to work with Temple on a daily bases. After learning to speak, as well as acquiring a variety of necessary life skills and coping mechanisms, Temple headed to high school. During this time, Temple began the several decade-long process of unlocking her neurological abilities: She came to understand that she processed the entire world through an incredible catalogue of pictures.


A few years later, encouraged by positive experiences on her aunt’s ranch as a teenager, and after graduating with a degree in Psychology from Franklin Pierce College, Temple decided to pursue graduate work in Animal Science at Arizona State University. This is where she began some of her most important work to date. Out of earnest desire to change inhumane slaughter practices in the cattle industry (She literally could perceive what a cow felt when held in a slaughter yard, due to her unique visual and emotional understandings), she designed revolutionary stockyards. Half of the entire country’s slaughter stockyards are now equipped with Grandin’s more humane designs.

She once said concerning this subject:
“I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we’ve got to do it right. We’ve got to give those animals a decent life and we’ve got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect. Nature is cruel. But we don’t have to be.”

Aside from her enormous contribution to the cattle industry, Grandin is also one of the rare cases of autistic individuals who are cognizant and aware of how differently they perceive the world. Consequently, she has played a huge role in autism education and activism in the past two decades.


Perhaps what touches me the most about Temple’s story is her genuine goodness. After surviving a most likely torturous childhood and adolescence, and after overcoming incredibly difficult challenges, she went on to exemplify her mother's philosophy: Temple was different, but never less.

I am moved beyond words by this woman and this film.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Questions, Comments, Concerns." Wait. I Have All of Those.

It’s been awhile.

Forgive me.

There are various items I wish to discuss today. Mostly, they’re unrelated; but I feel compelled to address them, because they are presently significant topics of personal interest and preoccupation. Besides, I rarely see or speak to any of you as often as I should, so I think it’s about time I play catch up.

First, I have returned from my third consecutive annual Canadian Wilderness trip. I think my older sister may be right when she suggested I stop going up there: It only depresses me.

I should explicate.

Currently, my life is focused on a plethora of worrisome pursuits:
1. Preparations for post grad programs (i.e. studying for the GRE, taking Spanish, weighing my options on where to apply)
2. A job that is wildly underwhelming
3. My solitary life (I live for no one but me and that is utterly depressing some days.)
4. Anxiety and insecurities based on performance in these areas and concern over what that implies about my future

Ultimately, when I’m in Canada, none of these variables exist.


A Typical Day in the Canadian Wilderness:
1. Get up next to a platonic, though well-loved, bedfellow
2. Go to the kitchen, get a glass of mint tea, and receive a hug and a kiss from a grandfather figure
3. Head out to the day’s tasks with a team that is well-organized, efficient, and sincerely aware, encouraging, and appreciative of all members’ contributions to the day’s workload
4. Return at the conclusion of a long, though satisfying, day of work to a stack of tangible results
5. Spend the evening conversing with interesting and enjoyable friends
6. At night, look up at the stars that are a clear as city lights, and discuss the mysteries of the universe with a best friend
7. Go to bed feeling completely satisfied

Real life rarely works this way.


I guess I'd have to admit if I lived in Canada permanently, it wouldn’t take me long to get bored, miss my books and my family, and ultimately, I’d want to come home. But I think you understand why it sucks so bad to have to come back.

The second subject I need to discuss is sad but brief. Monday night, my cute, but ailing hairless rat, Charlie, had to be put down, due to an eye infection that had gotten out of control. His eye was bulging, and he looked like he was in a lot of pain. So I decided that it was cruel to keep him alive. After I “did the deed,” I felt tremendously sorry for Charlie and myself. RIP Charlie.


Next, I wish to officially announce my retirement from club Frisbee. I’m sorry that it’s come to this, but I think my last post really nailed one of my biggest weaknesses: I tend to think I can do everything. This is a marvelous fallacy, and I can no longer afford to indulge it. Besides, as per usual, I’m B-R-O-K-E.

Lastly, and on a less dour note, is anyone else excited about Halloween? I have one title for you: Addams Family Values. Check it out. You will pee your pants.



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

No, You Can't!


Recently, I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure—mostly, from myself and the highly misguided society from which I originate—to be and do everything.

I often hear the following dialogue in my head:

Me: I want to play sports.
Highly Misguided Society from Which I Originate (HMSFWIO): Okay.

Me: I want to be a great scholar and spend all my days in the library.
HMSFWIO: Do it.

Me: I want to be the perfect Mormon and never make any mistakes. Not ever.
HMSFWIO: Jesus did it. We don’t foresee any major issues with you achieving a similar level.

Me: I want to get a perfect score on the GRE.
HMSFWIO: You’re smart. So despite your shortcomings in the testing department, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Me: I will do well in all of my language studies.
HMSFWIO: You betchya.

Me: I will maintain healthy and balanced relationships with every person I meet, and I will never take a single soul for granted, because I will always have the energy to be my best in every moment of the day.
HMSFWIO: Naturally.

Me: I will always treat myself well, and I will never be sad no matter how lonely I get.
HMSFWIO: Of course.

Me: I can be and do everything.
HMSFWIO: In the words of Obama, “Yes, you can.”

*************
Have you ever heard such an obscene load of bull in your entire life?

I submit you have not.

I’m not saying I can’t be the things I need to be. I’m saying I need to stop focusing on the things I don’t need to be. I think that’s one of Satan’s favorite lies with me. He’ll show me the possibilities, and then he trips me up in the greedy details. If I can have one piece of pie, why can’t I have ten? He's sneaky. It’s hard for me to accept that’s not the way it works.

Here are a couple of good reminder scriptures.

“Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength….Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea that you many conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work” (D&C 10: 4-5).

And…

“And see that all things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order” (Mosiah 4:27).
Also…

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (14:27).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vivo la Vida Loca!

Less than two weeks ago, I was shaking hands with and receiving congratulations from my master’s committee, as I had successfully defended my thesis.

A week ago, today, I received word that I had officially graduated from Weber State.

Fast forward seven days: I am now a student at Salt Lake Community College.

Forgive me, but that’s one hell of a demotion.

I have only myself to blame, really. As a student at BYU, I diligently avoided all language coursework outside of ASL (In my defense, I did successfully make it all the way up to ASL 402, before I stopped. How many kids do you know went that far in a language for which they never received a minor?). And BYU did not, at the time, require students to learn a classic language (derivations of Germanic, Latin, or Greek), to graduate in English. So I graduated and happily avoided learning a foreign tongue.

When I “Got into Weber,” I meticulously looked at the fine print, and realized, once again, I would be given a pass on the foreign language, as their requirements only stipulated that I had to have a BA from another university (If I had gotten a BS, I would have been required to take the language). They assumed if I had a BA, I had already learned my classic language (which would be true if I had graduated just a few years later from BYU).

Whelp kids, I’ve reached the end of the line. I can’t go one step farther in my education without studying a classic language. In order to successfully complete a Ph. D., I must acquire a third option for communication.

So let’s review. If you’ve completed your BA and your MA, and you don’t want to be hit up by any of your previous institutions for graduate tuition, where’s the best place to pick up language credit? That’s right, kids. You go back to a junior college, where you can still enroll as a non-matriculating student, without penalty.

So instead of peers who are professionals, I am now surrounded by students who barely graduated high school and have a permanent look of lost or, worse, vicious little puppies, with pins poking through their faces and black eyeliner.

"Yo necesito tu el lapiz y tu la sangre. Ahora!"

I can only say there’s one perk to going “back to high school,” as it were. I heard a phrase this morning that I haven’t heard in almost a decade: “There will be extra credit.”

Can you believe that?


PS BTW, I'm learning Spanish. I could cry.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Masters Becky & Joss

In today’s post I feel compelled to discuss two subjects.

First and foremost, last week on Thursday, I successfully defended my Master’s Thesis. And this very morning, my grade was posted…as was my Master’s Degree.

Here’s my transcript:



Isn’t it pretty?
(You'll have to click on it in order to read it.)

I’m getting buzzed just looking at it.

Secondly, and on a completely different topic, I have just recently learned Joss Whedon, My Beloved Secular Humanist Master, will be directing the upcoming Avengers film. If you are unaware of the significance of this choice, allow me to infuse a little context into your world.

There have been or will be five “prequels” leading up to the Avengers film: Iron Man, Iron Man2, Hulk, Captain America, and Thor. The creation of these films has not only pleased the legions of comic fanboys out there, but with the massive success of Iron Man and Iron Man 2, people who have never taken an interest in the canon of comic books are starting to pay attention.

(Joss, as embarrassing and inappropriate as this sounds, is my grown up Bopper pin-up boy!)

The information that Joss would be directing is exciting to me for a variety of reasons.

1. I thought with the untimely death of Dollhouse, Whedon may be forced to lay low for a little while. This proves the death of his most recent television series is not the end of his career by any stretch of the imagination.

2. This project will give Joss the opportunity to really expand his horizons. For the last two decades, he’s had to make do with measly budgets and okay, b-grade, or unknown actors. With this next project, he’ll be working with Robert Downey Jr., for crying out loud.

3. I’m excited to see what he does with such a large cast in film format. He’s always done well with large ensembles in TV-speak. This is a real change, and I’m eager to see what develops.

That being said, some of you may be wondering why I’m even talking about this. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering how to approach the subject of Joss Whedon. It’s hard to explain to people who are not sold and devoted fans, such as myself. Why would anyone care about a moderately successful sci-fi/fantasy, writer/director, whose greatest claim to fame was a couple of late 1990s, early 2000s television shows: one about a rail thin, ditsy vampire slayer, and the other about a crew of space cowboys who speak Chinese?

The only true evidence I can offer is simple but profound. Joss Whedon writes stories that express the innate questions all people have about the human condition. More importantly, he continually approaches subject matter that explores issues of ethics and pushes his audience to think beyond the fantasy or genre. He is a revolutionary artist, and I love him.

(If you’re interested, please read one of my previous posts on Buffy: Television=Brain Liquefier)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Conversations with Dead People


Next week on Thursday (August 19th), I will be defending my 60-page thesis (Topic: Twentieth Century Cowboy Myth).

The feeling is surreal.

Since June 1st, I’ve toiled endlessly, with little or no contact with the world outside of writing and research. It’s been a grueling two and a half months, and I find myself horribly disoriented now that the ride is over.

My room is in shambles. My life is proverbially disheveled. And I keep looking for my laptop, only to discover the one task I have left is to check my e-mail incessantly. (BTW, it’s loaded with nothing but spam...Balls! Also, why did it comfort me to check my e-mail so frequently when I was writing my thesis? Nobody ever wrote to me. And with precious few exceptions, I never wrote anyone either.)

Now that it’s over, I cannot deny a part of me just wants to shut off to anything but Buffy and Pop Fiction Novels for a week straight. But I refrain, because the strict discipline of my life during this period keeps pounding the same question out of my brain: “What do we do now?”

Should I take a few days off (not of work, but of tasks)? Should I rebuild my room? Should I begin studying for my GRE, right away? Should I sit down and write some music?

What would you do?

I think what I’m suffering from is the giant chasm of disconnect fostered by months of “alone time” and endless hours of conversations with dead people (like John Wayne or Ford, and Owen Wister, author of The Virginian).

I thinks it’s time I rejoined the land of the living.

Monday, July 12, 2010

One Terrible Movie



My Dear Sir Yardley,

In spite of the dozen or so perfectly good reasons (all of them having to do with much neglected thesis pages) to ignore your request for me to see Clash of the Titans, I have foolishly yielded based on the following reasons:
1. I Love my sister (who persists in her silly, but genuine affection for you).
2. I thought it would amuse me.
3. You might finally cease your insistent queries (Have you seen it yet? Have you, have you, have you? But WHY NOT?).

As you assured me Sir Yardley, there were numerous reasons to hate this movie. However, I have neither the time nor the patience to discuss them all. Consequently, it is my intention to categorize and discuss the highlights of awful.

1) Unforgivable Misuse of Talent

a) I want to know what argument they used to convince the usually lovely Liam Neeson to take a role in this movie. “Okay…you’ll be playing Zeus. First, you’re gonna rape this woman, who will subsequently be killed by her jealous husband, but not before your infant bastard son (i.e. demi-god Perseus) is cast into the ocean, only to be found and adopted by a family of simple fishermen, who will later be killed by your brother Hades. Perseus will hate you, and eventually, and rather idiotically, declare war on you, because he will have miraculously deduced you are the one to blame for his family’s death, as well as the sea’s lack of fish. At the end of the movie, after Perseus saves you, banishes Hades, and has killed the enormous Kraken, you will give him a rousing speech about how it’s bad to be bad, and killing people is wrong. You will also assure him it was you who left the mysteriously anonymous gifts that ultimately enable him to trap Hades and nearly kill you. You will then bring back from the dead his five-minute, demigod girlfriend, whose name I can’t remember. After that, all will be forgiven. Trust me. You’re gonna love being in this movie!” Apparently, Mr. Neeson is not as smart as I thought he was.
b) If he’s not careful, the enormously talented and interesting Ralph Finnes is gonna get type casted as the oiliest bad guy in the history of film (please see his other work as Voldermort in the Harry Potter films and as the serial killer in the Hannibal Lector prequel, Red Dragon). His role as Hades made me shake my head with disappointment.
c) Sam Worthington is a likable actor, and I loved his work in Avatar. I think, however, he needs to take a break from action films. Terminator Salvation and Clash of the Titans just about killed me.

2) Idiotic Plot/Characters

a) Please see section a) of point # 1.
b) There were two heroines who have ten lines between them. Both nearly die hasty, melodramatic deaths. I can’t name either one of them.
c) There are at least half a dozen seemingly important supporting characters whose names were said once or not at all. As it usually is with this sort of script, they all die.
d) There’s still no explanation for the 300-year-old, neon blue-eyed, charcoal people or the random severed hand that turned into a 50 ft scorpion.

3) Terrible, Terrible FX
a) The effects for the cities looked awful.
b) The effects for Medusa were wretched.
c) Zeus’s body armor looked like something from The Neverending Story.
d) The flying daemon bats from the sea were cool, but you never get a clear picture of them.

4) Random quotes and thoughts that came to mind as I watched:
a) “We don’t have any fish. Let’s kill the Gods.”
b) Perseus’s only gift is the ability to get really pissed off. He’s a lame demigod.
c) The Kraken is apparently male, because Medusa can only kill men, and her head kills it.
d) “Shhh…be vewy quiet. We ah hunting Medusa.”
e) Marching in single file, through a lava pit, wearing nothing but a kilt seems like a bad idea.
f) Sam Worthington’s kilt is too high, and makes him look as if he’s wearing a skirt.
g) Everyone in this film has a different accent. There were three confirmed Brits, a dozen Americans with crap voice lessons, one Aussie, and one unconfirmed Canadian.

I hope you are satisfied, Sir Yardley, because I will never watch this movie again.
Until next we meet,
Becky

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Think There's Something Wrong Here...



I would like to take a moment to uphold the above video, "Safety Dance," as evidence that all the pot, booze, and sex people were abusing during the 60s did have a negative effect on the adults of the 80s.

If you don't believe me, please consider the following:



The "Literal Version" might be a little funnier:





Monday, June 14, 2010

The Bunny Song

My roommate found this song on the internet and said, "It reminded me of you and your bunny-killer ways."

Who knew that Veggie Tales would be responsible for such a production?



I love the asparagus.

"I don't want to tell a joke that is funny. I just want a plate and a fork and a bunny."

Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm So Happy! It's Like a Birthday Present to Me.



So my Flyers ended up loosing the Stanley cup. And I spent a good day in mourning over that. But things are looking up. First, my Official Reebok NHL Flyers ballcap came in the mail this morning. And two, Sarah Mclachlan has released a new album after a seven year hiatus. The above is the video for her first single: "Loving You is Easy."

If you want to listen to the whole album, go to Facebook and type in her name. Become a fan. And click on the album tab. My favorite song is "Bring on the Wonder." It reminds me of some her earlier work. In particular it reminds me of her 1991 song, "Mercy."



So life is still worth living, even though my favorite hockey team came just this close to winning it all.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Crazy Life

Forgive my incredibly sporadic entries, these days. I’ve been working on my thesis and an independent studies course. With a quota of 25 academic pages a month, my motivation for writing anything else is flattened like a penny on railroad tracks: I’m spread a little thin.

That being said, I thought I’d share a brief list of recent interests and activities.

1. My beloved Flyers are in the Stanley Cup Finals, and I must say I’m not only surprised, but as proud as a momma they’re doing so well. Even better, the Pens were eliminated a full two rounds before my boys. (Sadly, I think I’m almost as happy the Pens failed as I am the Flyers are succeeding. What does that say about me?)

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_WX28QBAHa30/SyfZMzdpXBI/AAAAAAAAAgs/z0mVwMmWagM/s320/FlyersLogo.png

2. I’ve finally put my money where my mouth is: I am raising meat rabbits. This experiment was inspired by a great desire to refrain from eating processed meat. I’ve been fairly vigilant these last six months. Unfortunately, man cannot live by bread alone, nor should he. So I decided to begin raising bunnies, or as I like to call them: furry chickens. This way I know what they’re eating, how they’re treated, and the process by which they met their maker.

http://74.52.183.18/~donna/classifieds/upload/Rabbit.jpg
(There's not much going on upstairs.)

A lot of people have expressed concern I won’t be able to follow through with the last part of my experiment, i.e. killing them. But I’ve taken careful steps to alleviate possible problems in this regard. First, they live outside. Secondly, I haven’t named them. And thirdly, aside from the daily feeding, watering, cleaning, and handling (once in the morning and once at night, five to ten minutes each time), I spend very little time with them. To be quite honest, from what little time I have spent, I’m not nearly as excited about the six of them as I might be with six rats. Ultimately, their vacant expressions and skitterish personalities make it a lot easier for me to imagine them in my oven one day.

3. I’ve finished my independent linguistics course with an “A,” and there is nothing more for me to complete in my masters program but my thesis. If you had told me when I first started I’d be done two years to the month I began the program, I would have called you a liar. I feel very blessed.

4. In two weeks, I’m headed to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, in Telluride, CO. It’s the first time ever for me to see the following: Alison Krauss and Union Station, Court Yard Hounds, Chris Thile, Left Over Salmon, Victor Krauss, Jerry Douglass, and Bela Fleck. A pig in poo could not be happier.

5. I've discovered:




I'm in love with him. I really am.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mental Junk Food

Do you ever find yourself enjoying things you know are mental junk food?

Even when I know they're the proverbial equivalent to a twinkie, I still find myself periodically indulging in favorites like the Twilight series (films and books) and Greys Anatomy.

It's pathetic, really.

For awhile I was free of Greys. The writing was TERRIBLE, due to botched contract negotiations with starlet Katherine Heigl (First she was hallucinating a dead husband, then she had skin cancer, then she developed a brain tumor, then she married Kerev, and finally she just faded off of the show: they didn't have the decency to kill her). Now that she's gone the writers are free to get back to what they do best: creating marshmallow, cavity-causing, soap operatic fluff. And do I stop myself? No.

I am ashamed.

As for the Twilight series...I'm a grad student in English: I KNOW in my innermost soul this stuff is crap. Yet I read and watch just the same.

My one question for all of of this is. "Why? Why, why, why?"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Don't Need This Crap...But I Want It.

Have you ever found yourself coming across an item you don't need, but for some reason you cannot talk yourself out of wanting it?

The latest addition to my "I Don't Need This Crap, But I Want It" List is called a Utilikilt.

Yes. That's right. For $250 I can look like a girl: man-style.



Here's a list of Pros and Cons.

Pros:
1. I could legitimately justify spending fifteen minutes a day fantasizing about living in the forest with the rippling William Wallace (I'm not even Scottish, but I'm sure the kilt will buy me into a clan, somewhere).
2. With a neutral color, I could potentially wear it to work, daily, for the rest of my life, and never be worried about breaking the feminine dress code.
3. Button up or dress down with t-shirt and sneakers: This kilt looks flippin' AWESOME.

Cons:
1. For the price of one kilt, I could pay for approximately one-half of my entire current wardrobe.
2. I'd have to wear shorts with it (I just couldn't risk falling bum-over-tea kettle without a back up plan. Besides, what if I wanted to climb a tree?).
3. I know it would give me a more authentic look, but I just don't know if I can stand NOT to shave my legs.

I realize I'm alone on this particular item, but does anybody else feel this way about something this ridiculous?

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Quick Word on Greg Laswell

One of my favorite alternative artists, Greg Laswell, is launching his latest record on May 5th. In celebration, I decided to add a play tab to my site.

If you like mellow (well...generally), piano driven alternative music, I suggests you take a listen. A few of my favorite titles are:

1. Take Everything
2. My Flight
3. Come Clean
4. In Front of Me
5. Off I Go

Go ahead. Who's it gonna hurt?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I’m a Confederalist



As of late, I’ve been reading a lot of Civil War novels, in lieu of what I should be reading: Victorian period literature (I find I never read WHAT I’m supposed to, WHEN I’m supposed to. It’s the curse of an English Major).

When I was a kid living in Philadelphia, and I first learned about the Civil War, it seemed like a no brainer: of course the Union was in the right. But as I’ve matured, become more informed, and spent most of my teenage years in the South, I’ve discovered there was a lot more to it than the issue of Slavery.

What makes me Federalist?

1. The United States would never have realized its full potential if the South had successfully and permanently seceded: “A house divided cannot stand.”

2. I have tremendous conviction Abraham Lincoln was anointed of God to lead this nation. His push for the Union and his emancipation of slaves, if nothing else, made his cause just.

3. I have two great, great uncles who served in the New York Federalist regiment, and I feel a kinship to them. (Both, incidentally, served in Gettysburg, and both survived.)

What makes me Confederate?

1. I realize slavery was a horrible and unjust construct, and I’m glad the Union succeeded in abolishing it, but I definitely have sympathy for the Confederacy’s resentment towards the Federal Government. The Government, unless there is a strong possibility the laws of God or the Constitution will be violated, doesn’t have the right to control a state if the majority of that state doesn’t believe in what the Government is pushing. For a contemporary example, if 38 States of 50 don’t want socialized medicine, and the Government still somehow pushes the legislation through, there’s a problem. As far as I’m concerned, you want money for schools or for an army? Fine. But when the Government starts ownin’ the banks, people start talkin’ ‘bout socialized control, and I’m told half my paycheck is going to lazy asses with five welfare babies, I start thinkin’ about pullin’ out a HUGE Confederate flag, myself. Charity is for the weak, not for the lazy and weak-minded. (Wow! That went someplace entirely unexpected.)

2. The South is by far the superior culture. PERIOD. Who wouldn’t want to preserve it?
Southerner to strangers: “Hi y’all. Did you eat? Well, come on in. I’m sure glad to know ya.”

North Easterner to family member: “Get the hell off of my doorstep, unless you’re here to give me that money you owe me.”

Maybe I’m just crazy, but I feel sympathy and alliance to both.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey



I looked out the window this morning, and this is what "Spring" had for Salt Lakers. Yep. That's my backyard covered in snow.

At first I thought of the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' song: "June Bride, Reprise."

LIZA, SARAH & DORCAS
March comes in like a lion, what else?
Still the snow never melts.

LIZA & ALICE
April showers will come, so they say.

LIZA
But they don't, and it's May
.

Then I could just hear my cousin saying, "That's why I moved back to Florida."

After that, I took another moment, stared at the mountains, breathed in the cold wet air, and I thought to the myself, "Well, Sara Lyn, I'll always wish you were here. But I wouldn't trade these grand peaks of the North or the red rock of the South, if it snowed until August, and I never saw the ocean again."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Wet Cat Day



This picture describes my basic mood, today.

1. I was turned down for a job I really wanted for political reasons that had nothing to do with me.

2. I have interest in a boy who has no interest in me (After three dates, I was left with the distinct impression all I’m gonna get outta of this is another mooching friendship. And just to make it perfectly clear: I am NOT the moocher).

3. My freakin’ motorcycle parts are still on backorder. I’ve waited three weeks for them so far, and I’m told I’ll have to wait another two weeks for the parts to even get mailed. I am NOT pleased: It is warm enough to ride NOW!

4. I’ve got three weeks to write 27 pages. I am so screwed.

5. I have a cavity.

6. I ate ham yesterday. I haven’t had a piece of processed meat in almost three months. I am ASHAMED. If I had been a good girl, I would have cooked the elk steak that’s in my freezer. I know I haven’t discussed this in great detail, but I’ve attempted to maintain a processed meat FREE diet, due to a moral protest I have against the four main meat processors in this country. If you’d like to learn more, watch this video:

7. My Truck is still leaking oil! There’s a crack in one of the engine valve covers, and I’ve already spent $400 replacing two gaskets and an engine electrical cable.

8. The pace and loneliness of my life is starting to leave cracks in my heart. I’m scrabbling to plug the holes, but sometimes I find my heart leaking through my eyes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Viral Death

It’s That Time of Year

I don’t know what it is about late winter/early spring, but this seems the time of year I’m most susceptible to experiencing what I have affectionately named: The Upper Respiratory Viral Death from Hell.

Last year I wrote a very funny post on the subject: http://rebekahspeak.blogspot.com/2009_02_01_archive.html

Out comes my usual arsenal:
1. Airbourne—grapefruit flavor (I’m not entirely sure this isn’t a placebo).
2. Orange Juice—at least a gallon
3. Sudafed—the real kind, where you have to show an ID to get it
4. Ibuprofen—generic, by the bottle full
5. Aloe Tissues—sometimes saving the skin underneath my nose is worth the extra money
6. Caffeine—usually in the form of a Sobe or Diet Coke (oooh…with maraschino cherries. Yum!)

What makes you feel better, when you feel like dying?
I’m open to suggestions.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pepper Potts in the Desert





Last week on Wednesday, I went through my habitual routine of puttering through the KSL ads [online local classifieds] in search of used motorcycle deals. I never really have any intention of buying anything on these excursions. I just like to read and dream about things that will take me years to acquire, if ever.

However, on this particular occasion, I came across something that made my jaw drop and my fingers race for my cell phone.

St. George, UT
USED KLR 2005: $1500
10,000 miles
Sun-faded Fairings [the plastics that cover the bike]
Good Mechanical Condition

Let me put this into a little bit of perspective for you. KLRs from 2004-2007 go for $2,500-$3,000. So naturally, you can see why I was excited.

In spite of my initial worries over impulsive shopping and the possibility of a scam [KSL has recently fallen victim to those kinds of listings], I finally dialed. The ad had only been up for a half an hour, but the owner said he already had a couple of offers. I told him I had cash in hand, but I couldn’t make it down to St. George until Saturday morning. He finally agreed to hold it, when I told him I lived in Salt Lake and was willing to transport the bike myself. We agreed to meet at 7:00 on Saturday morning.

Thus, an adventure began.

Friday night, after work, I got everything ready to go. I packed my sleeping bag, one of my many blow-up mattresses, a brand new mattress pump [thanks, Mom], a lantern [thanks for that too, Mom], a thermos of piping hot tea and oatmeal water [minus the water, Mom also], two boards for getting the bike into the truck [thanks, Professor Cheney], and tie downs for the trip back [Mom]. (Obviously this trip might not have been possible were it not for my Mother and Father’s excellent taste in camping equipment and gear, and their admonishing advice on always coming prepared.)

I left Salt Lake at around 20:00 (8:00 pm), drove four and a half hours, and decided to bunker down about 20 miles outside of St. George city limits. I figured I wasn’t paying for sleep in a hotel, when I could get sleep for free in the desert.

I pulled off at a ranch exit, and as I set everything up in the bed of my truck, I couldn’t help but feel excited. Here I was in the desert, on my way to possibly becoming the owner of my very own KLR. The air was warm; the sky was full of stars; my life felt full of possibility. I took off my shoes, crawled into my sleeping bag, and felt certain that sleep and opportunity were fast approaching.

Then a hoot owl hooted. He wasn’t more than thirty feet from my truck. I was pretty tired, so stupidly, I tried ignoring him. Unfortunately, he didn’t stop until two in the morning. That’s right about the time the coyotes got going. I decided to leave at about 6:00, with a grand total of three hours of sleep.

There’s a lot to be said for “free” sleep.

I arrived at the guy’s house early. Everything in his front yard (camper, cars, the house itself) had a “For Sale” sign on it.
He never said, but the set up reeked of divorce or lack of work. And since he said he would have been at work were it not for the sale, I assumed divorce.

It also didn’t take me long to discover why he was selling the bike for such a small price tag. After looking at it for a few minutes, I had a laundry list of replacement or upgrade to-dos.

Battery $45
Oil & Filter $45
Shift Lever $45
Back Tire $100
Brake Pads $120
Chain $120

It needed roughly $500 worth of “get into fighting shape work.”

I also had a list of things I needed for the bike regardless of how much I had to pay for it.

Lowering Links $200 (KLRs are built for taller people)
Valve Adjustment $200 (For peace of mind)
Doohickey $300-$500 (Kawasaki engineering flaw…I’d have to replace it, anyway)

The idea of getting the bike so cheaply did have a few perks, however. I could afford to license, title, and register it for a much cheaper price. I also realized I could slowly do the upgrades, while waiting for spring, summer and most like early fall to arrive.

It didn’t take much more “thinking about it.” We put her into the back of my truck, and I drove the whole way, wondering how I would make this project work for me.

She’s at the shop right now. She’s still there, waiting for her slew of initial work and aftermarket parts to arrive.

I’ve decided to call her Pepper Potts (Iron Man Reference for you fanboys out there), because she’s red, and she comes from a piping hot desert.

PS The Beast will soon be sold. I’ll be sure to write a solid obituary when she finally goes.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Troubles in Idaho

File:Hirvieläimiä 155.svg

A few weeks ago I went for a visit to the Utah neighboring states of Idaho and Wyoming. I’d been planning this trip for a little over a month—ever since I found out there would be a Brandi Carlile concert in Jackson, and realized that I could also conveniently check out Idaho State’s English Ph. D. program in Pocatello on the way.

The visit to Idaho State turned out to be a huge disappointment. I was hopeful about the program, because it meant that I could stay close to home for my Ph. D. and enjoy the benefits of in-state tuition (Idaho and Utah have reciprocal funding programs).

Alas, it was not meant to be. I was told I was a very viable candidate, but the recession had all but stopped any opportunity for additional funding. Tuition would be around $6,000 (in-state), and living expenses would be about $8,000—$14,000 of debt a year with no guarantee of a job in the Arts after graduation is NOT an option. I would finish the program with approximately $60,000 of debt. To put this sum into perspective for myself, I started to count how many BMW motorcycles (the most expensive motorcycles on the market) I could buy for that kind of money, and the total came to three—two new and one used, fully loaded BMW GS1200 Adventurers.

In addition to the bad fiscal news, I was also told the Ph. D. program at ISU would not even prepare me to teach in a level one research school (BYU, U of U). If I earned my degree there, I would only be able to teach at two-year institutions. I can already do that with my Masters.

Consequently, my future plans in Idaho came to an abrupt end. I am currently considering alternative, slower-cooking possibilities.

Thankfully, to drown my sorrows, I went to the Mangy Moose Saloon, located in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to see Brandi Carlile sing some good old-fashioned folk-rock. It was wonderful.

Even better, the Mangy Moose was euphoric. I’m not sure how many of you know I am a Moose Nut, but I was up to my eyeballs in the gift shop. I got a Mangy Moose shirt, mug, bumper sticker, and even a pocketknife. It was pathetic how little control I had. I was a very happy camper.

However, the most exciting event of the night actually happened on the way back to Idaho Falls, where my copilot and I were staying the night. It was approximately 1:30 in the morning, just as we had driven over Moose Creek, when we saw something huge in the road: a Moose Cow, with baby in tow.

Can you freakin’ believe it? What are the chances? “On my way back from the Mangy Moose, as I was driving over Moose Creek, I nearly ran into two moose, at 1:30 in the morning.” You have to smile at the coincidence of it all. I was tickled pink.