Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Break

Today marks the beginning of Christmas break for Deb and me, so my posts on the blog will likely be less frequent for approximately two weeks.

Or, I may find so much material to write about that I'll be posting like mad.

Either way, stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Solution to Our Economic Crisis?

As a poor college student admittedly this whole 'economy' and 'recession' thing isn't bothering me too much. I don't have a 40-year accumulated nest egg cracking before my eyes, draining out its contents into a hot cast-iron skillet, to be eaten by forces I don't even pretend to understand.

But the advice given in the following clip is priceless for one such as me who hasn't a lot of discretionary funds. I think you'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas

Deb and I went to the grade school she works at to help with the Christmas gift-giving program for children of low-income families. What we saw and experienced there is the highlight so far of this Christmas season.

The staff and faculty of Deb's workplace put together an 'angel tree' and the staff, faculty, and more affluent parents picked angels from the tree which corresponded to a boy or girl in kindergarten to the 6th grade. A toddler category was also included for younger brothers and sisters who would inevitably accompany their older siblings to receive their presents.

There were probably close to 100 presents under the trees and each child came up to the tree corresponding to his or her grade level and chose a present from a pile of gifts designated as 'boy' or 'girl'. A couple of baskets of books were set out for the children to take in addition to their gifts. Santa and Mrs. Claus came and handed out candy canes and spoke with each child.

The school had also procured turkeys and large sacks of potatoes to give to every family, and two live Christmas trees for two lucky winners.

The children were a delight to watch, their eyes sparkling as they took their pick from the presents. The parents beamed gratitude and some wept for joy as they and their children received perhaps all they would this Christmas season.

If I receive nothing else this Christmas but the memories of those happy children and parents I don't think I would care a bit. This has already been the best Christmas season I've ever experienced.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ratings

In an effort to make this blog more productive I've added feature to let you rate each post. That way I can gear my future posts toward subjects that are more interesting to you readers. Feel free to go back to any past posts and rate them. I'd really appreciate that.

Here's my rationale for doing this. A good personal trainer will always test the fitness levels of his or her clients to get an idea of what they currently are. That allows the personal trainer to map out a plan for the clients' future workout routines. Fitness testing provides for the individualization of workout plans. Repeat testing gives the clients an idea of their progress over time and provides an important incentive to keep exercising.

Consider this new ratings system to be a test of my blog's fitness. Knowing how each individual post rates will allow me to provide additional similar content that will benefit and interest you, the reader. Thanks for helping me out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Can I Headbutt You in the Stomach?

Yesterday I went to Deb's workplace, an elementary school, to deliver cookies to the 'after-school program', where the children were to have a going away party for one of the adult leaders.

I arrived to witness the utter mayhem that Deb has repeatedly told me about, but my own experience with the kiddies left me wondering whether I should laugh my head off or shake it in dismay until it falls off.

Promptly upon my arrival I was confronted by a girl who seemed remarkably tall and large for her age. She stood nearly toe-to-toe with me and stared and grinned at me without saying a word.

I greeted her and asked her name. No answer, though her friend (or lackey, I'm not sure) quickly let me know who I was dealing with: a girl with a boy's name.

I asked her what grade she was in. A long pause, then, "The 3rd grade." Then came the unexpected, "Can I headbutt you in the stomach?"

I calmly declined her generous offer and informed her that that would be assault (actually battery). She responded with the third-grade-girl equivalent of maniacal laughter. I started worrying about my personal welfare.

"Can I kick you in the shin?" she inquired. No, that too would be assault. More giggling. "Can I punch you in the arm?"

Boy was I glad when she had to go early.

Paradoxically, the boys were uncharacteristically sedate, a number of them sat at a table with knitting hoops making stocking caps.

I felt like I had stepped into an alternate universe.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Good Eats

At the suggestion of a friend and his wife, Deb and I went to a nice little Chilean restaurant for dinner last night. Pantrucas, as it's called, offered a inviting, homey atmosphere to compliment the warm hospitality of its proprietors.

Upon entering, we were kindly greeted by the owners themselves, Ricardo and Margarita Minond, who also do all the cooking and serving. I asked Ricardo what he suggested and he graciously described the items listed on the hand-written menu contained in three wall-mounted chalkboards.

I went with the churrasco palta and Deb ordered the ave palta: delicious sandwiches consisting of a soft roll smothered in avocado (hence, palta) with tomatoes and in mine, grilled steak, in Deb's, chicken. We also got one of their ham and cheese empanadas and a side of french fries.

Based on the friendly service and comidas deliciosas, I would recommend Pantrucas (3161 N. Canyon Rd.) to anyone in the Provo area.

See here for an additional review of Pantrucas as published in the BYU campus paper.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Telephone, Anyone?

If you've been following this blog you know that I love Samoa and I also love Samoans. But though I've been told by many a Samoan that I'm "brown on the inside" that doesn't hide the fact that I'm about as far from being brown on the outside as I could get...unless I was an albino.

Nevertheless, beginning in 2003 I became affiliated with the campus Friends of Samoa club, and as my schooling has increased its demands on my time over the years my affiliation became looser and looser.

But my old mission buddy sent me a flier for a Wednesday night Friends of Samoa club dinner which indicated that not only was the meal free, it was being catered by campus dining services. Not a bad gig if you ask me.

So Deb and I make our way up to the seventh floor room where our hot meal is going to be served and I see one of my former students and his wife dressed all fancy and obviously on their way to something too. I wondered what his connection to Samoa was.

I ask him where he's headed and he tells me a dinner. My heart sank a little, but I brushed it off with the thought that multiple dinners could be happening on the same night on the same floor of the same building.

But when we exited the elevator and I asked a caterer where the Friends of Samoa club dinner was being held we received a blank stare and then the reply, "There's an athletics dinner tonight."

My heart sank a little further. We walked down the hall toward the dining room. I didn't have the guts to go inside so I called my mission buddy to confirm that we were there on the right night.

Then the guests started arriving and I recognized some of them as my fellow graduate students and former students. "Why are you here?" one of the PhD students asked. The dinner wasn't for athletes, we found out, it was for athletic trainers - a field that shares my same academic department.

The only thing is, I'm not a trainer. I study exercise physiology. So I'm called either an exercise scientist or an exercise physiologist, but I know very little about athletic training. If you get injured I'll probably tell you to get a bag of therapy ice and make a snow cone with it.

Deb saw one of her former lifeguard buddies and asked her what was going on. She informed us that the dinner was a "Seniors' Night" for the graduating class and that it was doubling as a recruiting effort to get Polynesians interested in majoring in athletic training.

Then my mission buddy and another mission buddy and the first mission buddy's wife show up. Deb explained to them the situation. Apparently there had been some sort of mix-up we come to find out. My mission buddy's coworker happens to be the staff adviser to the Friends of Samoa club. She had received the word that this dinner was happening and she passed the word on to my friend who passed it on to me, etc.

And now we're back where we started: I'm white. My wife's white. And so is my buddy and his wife and our other mission buddy. We could have gone into the athletic training dinner and filled five of the ten reservations in the name of the Friends of Samoa club, but we felt a little sheepish about doing so, and I was a little more than embarrassed to face my peers and former students as the lone exercise physiologist, non-Samoan crashing the athletic trainers' special evening.

Do you remember that game you used to play in grade school? You know, the one called telephone where the teacher whispers into the first kid's ear who whispers into the second kid's ear and so forth until the umpteenth kid blurts out what she heard to everyone else and all the kids roll around because it's so ridiculously funny?

Yeah, we lived that game Wednesday night. Except there's nothing funny about walking away from a free catered meal when you're hungry.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Good Read

Every now and then I like to pick up a good biography and more fully acquaint myself with an other's worthy life.

To date I've read a number of such works, including books on Joseph Smith, Gordon B. Hinckley, Hugh W. Nibley, J.R.R. Tolkien, and other such figures.

Currently I'm enjoying Brigham Young: American Moses, by Leonard J. Arrington. So far, I'm liking it, and I would recommend it to any who would like to better understand the the man who, in addition to dedicating 46 years of his life to God's service, lead the settlement of a vast portion of the American West.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The End is Near

Is this post going to consist of apocalyptic foretellings and prognostications?

Not hardly. I've got better news for you than the end of the world.

I'll finish my thesis data collection within two weeks.

Starting in January we'll crunch the numbers, write the report, defend the thing, then in April walk the plank (graduate), and be off to who knows what.