Jan 29, 2009

Thur: I miss Japanese food

I realized today that I have yet to post anything involving food. I'm not really sure what that's about. I'm not a food nut, or aficionado or anything, but still it's a huge part of everyone's life. What other activities have you done roughly 3 times a day your entire life? So to remedy the situation, and because the other day I had a "Hawaiian Roll" (California roll with yellow-fin tuna on top) that left me feeling less than excited to take on the rest of the day, I figured it was time to reminisce about the wonders of the Japanese culinary world.

Some Japanese food is magic. True story.

I'm not really someone who would be described as an "adventurous eater", but then again not everyone can be Andrew Zimmern. I spent a few months in Japan over the summer though and was definitely forced out my box of meat, potatoes and spanish rice. It's considered hugely improper to take food and not eat it over there, so whatever you grabbed going through the cafeteria was going to go inside of you. Because it all looked so foreign, or at times deceptively familiar (such as Eel disguised as BBQ pork) you end up trying some things that you would normally dismiss. Well that, and most of it smells so good; you don't really care what it is.

Let's start with breakfast, because I enjoy proper chronology. Breakfast in Japan is typically Miso soup (a cabbage and turnip kind of thing), Nato (fermented beans) and rice. They also have this thing called the "1000 fold omelete" that pops up every so often. I'm not really a breakfast person so to be honest I don't really miss most of this stuff. Except the rice. I cannot describe to you in words the difference of white rice in America and white rice in Japan. They take it seriously over there, everyone owns at least one rice cooker and it's safe to say they know how to use it. They take it as seriously as Americans take their coffee making. So my typical breakfast would've been a nest egg, rice, and some Charlie Brown cereal. Nothing real special, and the cereal just reminded me of home, so it’s disqualified from being missed.

The best lunches always involved a small restaurant near the place where I was staying called Bochan’s. It was the essence of a mom and pop restaurant. One couple operates the place every day, he works the grill, she chops the vegetables and works the register. They were so hospitable too, it was like eating lunch in their house. She would make small talk with all the regular customers (at least I think it was small talk, they only spoke Japanese) and he would cook amazing food. There wasn’t ever anything eaten at that restaurant that wasn’t amazing. Some of the highlights were yakiniku, which was grilled meat in a special BBQ kind of sauce, torii karage which was some juicy chicken nuggets, and katsu curry which was a pork cutlet in curry sauce (I believe these names are right, it’s been a couple a months). Also the helping sizes were ridiculous. Generally throughout Japan everything is smaller, smaller cups of water, smaller loafs of bread. But not at Bochan’s. They believe in Texas portions over there. If you have lunch at Bochan’s you’re not having dinner. It’s game over.

Assuming you didn’t have lunch at Bochan’s however they was a lot of cool things for dinner. First there was the Sushi on the merry-go-round. It a conveyor belt that just brings sushi past everyone’s table and you just grab it if it looks good. Or you can order a specific dish and they send it out to you on a little train. I wasn’t really sushi person before I went, but after giving it a shot over there it’s now one of my favorites. There’s also ramen, soba, and udon, which are different kinds of noodles that they put in soup. The udon noodles in particular are huge; it’s like slurping shoelaces off a pair of Van’s, size-wise anyway.

This was just a quick list of some of the foods that I can remember off hand. Mostly I remember because of the people I was eating those foods with. I mean I live near a place that serves great udon, and another place that has halfway decent sushi, but I’m starting to realize now that meals are only 45% food, and 55% the people you eat with. So yea, I miss Japanese meals.

Jan 28, 2009

Wed: I don't like wearing contacts

There’s some things you take for granted when you’re growing up; stories with happy endings, 3 meals a day, no school on weekends, and perfect vision. I took those things for granted anyway. Inevitably things change however, you get older, you spend too much time reading in the dark, sit too close to the television, don’t eat enough carrots, and suddenly you wake up on morning and have some issues reading your alarm clock. “Whatever, it’s early, my eyes are blurry”, but slowly throughout the day things don’t clear up. You can’t read street signs, watch TV, recognize people from a distance, it’s frustrating. So you end up getting finally waving the white flag and getting glasses, or in my case contacts.

I’m really not a fan of wearing contacts for so many reasons:

Loss of sleep
I’m not a morning person so being able to hop out of bed throw on some clothes and be out the door in under 5 minutes was something I loved. It was one of the great things about being a guy. Now I have to stumble into the bathroom, and groggily try to poke some saran wrap circles onto my eyes every morning. It’s probably only an additional 2-5 minutes but when sleep is concerned every minute counts.

Inside Out?
So there’s this test to figure out whether or not your contacts are inside out or not. It’s called the taco test and basically you kind of squeeze the 2 ends together and if they form a taco then your contact is correct. I’ve been wearing these things for over a year now and still the taco test eludes me. And when you put them in backwards it’s like having a hamster claw at your eye everytime you blink. Then you’re in that weird catch-22 of opening your eye and dealing with that searing pain to get the contact out or leaving it shut and hoping it magically disappears or flips itself around. It sounds crazy now but when you have something in your eye, these thoughts seem reasonable.

Cinderella Rules
If you’ve ever had contacts then you know what I’m talking about. Right around midnight your eyes just can’t take it anymore, the dryness starts to set in. It doesn’t care that you still have 86 minutes left in Braveheart, those contact need to be quenched, and they need to be quenched now. Unfortunately this usually leads to the next reason-

Some Proverbs 16:30 Confusion
No, I’m not winking at you, I’m doing my best to keep these contacts from rolling up like nightshades inside my skull. So please accept my apologies. I realize that non-verbal communication is 93% of effective communication, but what’s going on there has no message except maybe “you don’t happen to have some eye drops do you?”

Fear of “the Lost Contact”
I’m told that this is physically impossible but it still has me worried. What if that contact decides to swing around to the back of you eyeball and just fall off or something? Where does it go? Does it just bounce around your head? (Did you just shiver right now? I know it’s gross right?). It is an eyeball after all and relatively round, what keeps the contact from just getting stuck on the inner hemisphere. Also you wouldn’t even know the contact was gone and you’d just be poking at your eye for hours trying to grab the contact that is no longer there.

It’s not getting better
Contacts aren’t like crutches, casts, splints, or braces. Your eyes aren’t going to “heal” and never need them again. It’s only downhill from here, and that means that everyday of your life you are having the worst vision that you have ever had. For those graph people, it’s a continuous, steady downward slope. The best days are behind you.

So I’m not really this jaded about contacts. In reality I appreciate the amazing technology that they are, and am grateful to them for helping me see every day. These gripes do float around in my head though, when I’m feeling particularly and unjustly stricken with the affliction of bad eyesight (which really isn’t that bad, it’s like a -1.50 or something). These Wednesday posts just allow me to make a list of things that remind me that God has a world waiting for me not affected by sin. And a body waiting for me that can sleep in that extra 5 minutes because it has perfect vision.

Jan 27, 2009

Tue: I would change the "Feed the Pig" ads

I’m a Marketing major, so when I watch TV one of my favorite parts are the commercials. Maybe it’s cause I have a short attention span, or a primitive sense of humor or something but they just fascinate me. Actually I think they fascinate a lot of people. A good commercial can get more people excited and thinking than a 90 minute movie. And at the worst a bad commercial is like a car accident that you’re driving by, it’s painful to look at but will be gone soon. So when I see these commercial I kind of internally rate them. The Rhapsody commercial where that girl is floating in bubbles = Great, the Whataburger commercial where….well actually every single Whataburger commercial = Terrible. There is a series of commercials I’ve seen lately that just has me absolutely mystified. They’re called “Feed the Pig” ads, and are created by the Ad Council. The Ad Council according to people in the know (AKA Wikipedia) is a non-profit organization that makes Public Service Announcements about…well…everything. Look it up online if you’re bored you’ve probably seen a bunch of them like the fish out of water that’s supposed to educate about Asthma, or the “Buzz driving is Drunk driving” commercials. Generally they put out some pretty good stuff. The “Pig” ads however are just surreally bad and definitely send the wrong message. Well here see for youself:

Financial Literacy- Feed the Pig - The most popular videos are here

I know it’s kind of hard to tell, but the idea is to get people to revive the long lost art of saving money, or at least maybe stop spending money they don’t have. Did you get that? No? I didn’t think so. Here’s why I think that is:

First of all, MAN, THAT PIG IS CREEPY! He’s exactly what I always pictured Napoleon looking like at the end of Animal Farm. If that thing comes up to me asking for money I’m giving it to him. Then I’m running and praying I never run into another cloven hoofed nightmare again.

Not only is he absolutely terrifying, he doesn’t really seem like he’s helping people save money so much as extorting protection money from them. Like some muscle for a farmyard mafia who also runs moonshine and insurance scams. It doesn’t feel right to give him money. There’s no way his intentions are good. And the look on the people’s faces when they see him coming just absolutely cements it. Also the piggy bank should be their friend not the local bully forcing you to “feed” him, especially since he’s already borderline obese. I mean I know he’s a pig but we have an analogy we're trying to create. People aren't saving ergo people aren’t feeding him! That’s why we’re doing the ads, he should be Ethiopian skinny! Also, he’s dressed in a cheesy but expensive looking suit. The pig is poor, he should be dragging himself around in a hollowed out barrel like something out of Bugs Bunny. In this commercial he endears himself further by physically abusing some guy.

I’m thinking they realized the fact that the Pig was wildly creepy because lately they changed him to something a little less creepy, but still rivals the Burger King “King” for top spot of advertising characters who could mentally scar small children . Have a look:

Financial Literacy - Royal Family - Watch the best video clips here

So here’s the change: We keep the Piggy bank idea, it’s nostalgic, universal, relatable etc. We change that freaky pig to something more like HAM from Toy Story, except skinnier.
And follow one character as me makes some wise money saving decisions throughout his day. He eats a brown bag lunch instead of going out with his co-workers then throws some money to the tiny famished pig. He rents a movie instead of going to a movie and throws more money to the slightly less thin Pig. He cancels his magazine subscriptions and throws more money to the normal sized Pig. He consolidates his credit cards and lowers his interest and throws more money to the Pig who is now RIPPED. Then he gets in a car crash, but it’s OK cause the Pig hops out of the back of his car, focuses on the car and magically the car is good as new. The pig is then slightly smaller but the guy can drive off with no worries.

You could do this type of thing over and over, incorporating different tips and using different rewards. Woman forgoes Starbucks, and the pig gives her new shoes. Guy starts biking places and shutting off lights when he’s not home and the pig makes his tiny TV into Big screen TV. A family takes a smaller vacation like camping or hiking, start getting movies from the library and the pig magically turns their apartment into a house. And on and on.

So less creepy pig, more interesting story and even (gasp) education and then I think the Pig Ads will be cool. What’d you think?

Jan 24, 2009

"Mon": I like The Shack

The trouble I have writing about this is that there’s a good chance you –the reader- haven’t read this book. So it’s tough to tell you what I thought was cool about it without either A-influencing you’re future opinion, or B-telling you too much and ruining the experience for you. A isn’t really a huge concern because let’s be honest I don’t have that kind of influence over you…..yet. So that leaves me to discuss my “like” for this book and future books, movies, music, etc leaving out the best parts so that you can enjoy them also if you so choose. So keep that in mind while I describe why I liked this book

First let me give you a brief overview of the plot of the book. Mack is a family man that had something terrible happen to one of his family members. He sorta kinda blames God for that. He gets a note from God to meet him at the scene of the terrible thing- the Shack. The rest of the book is Mack talking to God about their misunderstanding.

Mack as a character is supremely relatable. Even though I haven’t ever had anything terrible happen to me, there are always the day to day “disasters” of car trouble, bad grades or even sad world events that allow me to glimpse the frustrations he has with understanding God’s will in this world. He’s also a typical guy (like myself) who has trouble getting things out there on the table and avoids serious conversation and questions with jokes or deflecting answers. That unity the reader is allowed to create with Mack just makes this book all the better.

The Author W.M. Paul Young --who was apparently raised in a stone age tribe by his missionary parents— has a couple of pretty cool goals with the book; as near as I could tell anyways. He wants to shake your mental picture of the Trinity to open your mind to re-considering the box you’ve put them in. He also wants to reveal the unfairness and ridiculousness of us sometimes judging God and his decisions.

The most effective way to get people thinking outside of their normal presuppositions is to shock them. Young does that by portraying the God the Father, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit as a large black woman, a giggly middle-eastern man, and a mysterious asian woman respectively. At first this will make you super uncomfortable. Well it made me uncomfortable anyway. But hopefully you’ll soon realize that he’s not defining the trinity this way, Young is just trying to shake you out of that Grey-haired older man God, Handsome White man Jesus, and magical foofoo dust Holy Spirit stereotype that you’ve created. Personally I realized that I really don’t consider The Holy Spirit as a sentient being so much as a force such as gravity or magnetism. Something I’ll definitely explore more in my quiet times.

The conversations between Mack and God’s different iterations are definitely the highlight of this book. It took a ton of guts for an author to write lines for the character of God, and although it may seem borderline blasphemous, in reality Young is just doing his best to apply what God has said before in the Bible to a real life situation. Mack will bring a problem to God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit (which Young emphasizes are all one being) and they then proceeds to try and work through the problem. The results are amazing, ideas or questions I’ve had and probably you’ve had such as “why does God allow evil?” or “How could a great God care about me?” are laid out and talked through. Sometimes they come to an answer, and sometimes appropriately enough God has to tell Mack that “Mack doesn’t have the capability to fully understand his complex works”. A lot like the end of the book of Job.

I did have one major gripe with the book. The cover of the book really does a lot of disservice to the book, primarily because it sets such a high bar. The cover is inundated with quotes from critics and celebrities proclaiming The Shack as the Pilgrim’s Progress for our generation. I mean the book was good, but Pilgrim’s Progress is incredible. It’s akin to crowning up and coming basketball players as “The Next Jordan”, or new movies as “This Year’s Citizen Kane”. The fact that there is a comparison already disproves the idea. Nobody said Jordan was the next Wilt Chamberlain or Pilgrim’s Progress was the next Confessions, because to be that good means there is no comparison. So it’s obviously no Pilgrim’s Progress, but the book is still good.

One final disclaimer. This book is a work of christian fiction, and as such should not be read to learn theology. As proof there is never any direct quotes from scripture to back up any of the responses or explanations from the God characters. Fictional books have a wonderful role, but education is not it.

So this was not one of those here’s a problem and here’s a bunch of anecdotes and scripture to fix it books. It’s not going to fix anything. What it does do however is potentially get you really excited about the personality and attributes of our amazing God. Then you can get back to your Bible and hopefully strive after God even harder than before. So even though it’s no Pigrim’s Progress, I have to say that I enjoyed and appreciated the message behind The Shack.

Jan 19, 2009

Fri: I look forward to My Last Semester

It took me 1607 days to get to this point. Sooo close to finishing. I remember growing up, and being in 4th grade or so and thinking “oh man, I’m going to be doing this school thing for another 12 years!” At the time it was staggering, but now here I am 6 months from never having to open another text book again. That’s what I’ll tell myself anyways, there’s always a chance in this evil fallen world that text books could yet be in my future. But I’m not going to think about it. As I reach this milestone, final lap, last chapter, end of the road, curtain call, and numerous other analogies for my final semester. I find myself looking forward to this, my farewell semester for quite a few reasons.

One of the first reasons that comes to mind is that I’m taking some relatively interesting classes. There’s few things worse that sitting through 5 months of how to use Microsoft Excel (CIS 105), how to find the Z-score of an observation (GBS 221), or how to find a solution using anti-derivatives (MAT 212). I mean if you’re into those things, or I just named one your favorite classes ever, that’s great for you. I truly mean it, I’m breaking the 10th commandment all over that joy you have for those classes. Because for me those and a few other classes will go down in the area of my brain that rarely gets a visit from the consciousness in hopes that happiness and excitement can continue to live on in my world. So yea, interesting classes are crucial to this next semester meeting the criterion for being mention on a “Friday” (in this blog anyway). What is an example of an interesting class? Well hopefully American Religious Traditions, Comm approach to Pop Culture, Relational Communication, Hip-Hop online, and Public Speaking are example of interesting classes. Public speaking in particular should be at least good for a few amusing mornings. There are few things more enlightening than watching a student absolutely nail a speech, or conversely crash and burn. It’s just so dynamic.

Along with classes that have me interested, another reason I’m looking forward to this semester is that it is my final term. As I subtly hinted to earlier, I’m not a huge fan of school. Usually when I’m in class doing the homework I’m struck by the fact that I’m not learning anything. I’m at school to learn right? Yet after all this work, after all these hoops, reading numerous pages of the arguably the most monotonous text ever forced on a group of people, I feel like 95% of the valuable things I’ve learned have come from outside the classroom. I’ve earned about office politics and running a small business from the job I worked all through college. I learned about communication and interaction from the friends I’ve made the last 5-ish years. I’ve learned about other cultures by taking non-school related trips out of the country and talking with immigrants that I’ve worked with. There are a great many other things I 've learned that I could attribute to sources outside of the four walls of College, yet to be honest I did pick up a few skills and tidbits of knowledge within those walls. I’ve just always felt that the way we go about learning things, or maybe more accurately the way the world is setup to formally teach us things is flawed and generally ineffective. So the sooner I can finish doing this little dance for that piece of paper that is mysteriously so crucial to future opportunities and success, the better.

Outside of the school angle, there’s a couple other reasons this semester could be cool. The Guy’s Bible study I’ve been attending has shown so much potential for being an amazing time I’m excited to see if it can capitalize. The material last semester was great, but really it’s the guys that come that make it incredible. The ideas and insights they bring to passages and stories I’ve heard or read multiple times makes them seem new and fresh. I really look forward to getting back with them.

Finally this semester will bring me to a crossroads in life. At this point it seems like an important decision making time and I’m anxious to get to it. Because the sooner it comes, the sooner I can start getting involved with whatever God has planned for me next. And lately being able to witness the fruition of the plans of God has been very exciting.

Jan 17, 2009

Thur: I miss my first car

I mean I wouldn’t trade in my current car for it, but that first car always creates for itself a halo effect as time goes on. Every single nuance and quirk grows a kind of charm that is remembered with a smile rather than the actual muttering and scowl that accompanied things like radio’s that have a mind of their own or engines that would only start if you pumped the gas that special way. It’s surprising how quickly those memories change. Anyway here’s a couple of short memories I have about my first car a 1988 Mitsubishi Starion.

I remember driving through my neighborhood stalling at stop sign and on hills while I tried to get the hang of driving stick. I’m not exactly sure why I wanted my first car to be a manual transmission. Maybe it was because the cars in videogames that were manual always went faster, or more likely because growing up my Dad owned a couple cars that were stick and they were always much more fun to ride in. Either way I grew to really like it, and hopefully never have a car without it.

I remember driving in the rain with it and regularly hydroplaning on turns.

I remember driving home from east mesa with my brother while not being able to take my foot off the gas otherwise it would die (there was a mechanical issue). So at every stoplight people would get the idea that we wanted to race because I was revving my engine, it probably also didn’t help that there were a couple times we inadvertently peeled out when the light turned green.

I remember the AC always read 67 degrees, and if you put it any higher the heater automatically turned on.

I remember the automatic seat belts always knocking the coffee or soda out my hands whenever I started the car.

I remember the bubblegum smell in the middleconsole.

I remember having a ton of semi-random things in my back seat and trunk because it was a new place to keep stuff.

I remember being in that car the first time I was pulled over. I was bringing someone in my family something they needed and had forgot at home so I was in a bit of a hurry. Also I had once heard somewhere that there was no speed limits on the on and off ramps of freeways. Long story short I ended up getting a lengthy and very um... passionate lecture from a Patrolman explaining that on-ramps aren’t like international waters and the law does apply to them, driving that fast will only get people killed (he including a startling amount of anecdotal evidence to support this claim), and how it was also fully within the law to suspend me till I was 18 and take my car. After all the threats he finally let me go with a warning for which I was immensely grateful.

I remember learning how to change the oil on it, and now realizing that that particular car had the oil filter in a crazy hard to reach spot.

I remember the radio sometimes deciding that it was tired and wanting to play at a much lower volume for no real reason.

I remember thinking that flip-up headlights were actually really cool.

I feel like the first anything is always special. The first movie you see at a theatre, the first book you read, your first house, first school, and of course your first car. The idea of the first car is so iconic, talk to any sociology student and they give you 50 reasons for that mostly having to do with the realization of independence, freedom, a larger world etc. I’m not really into examining things that closely and attributing grand ideals to them. I do know that I will always remember my first car. It’s was my interactive classroom for 98.9% of my current mechanical knowledge, the facilitator of a ton of memories, my first real space to call my own, and the stick I will measure every car after it.

Jan 16, 2009

Wed: I don't like The Evening News

40-ish years ago, people would go about their day to day lives with very little idea of what else was going on in the world. Sure they probably checked out the newspaper with their breakfast, but that would just tell them what had happened yesterday, not what was going on today. Enter the wonderful Evening News.

Suddenly people had an amazing re-cap of the day, delivered by people who really sounded like they knew what they were talking about. To top it off, sometimes they even included some video to go along with the news stories. It basically blew that morning newspaper away. After sometime however; that Evening News slowly morphed into comically bad parody of its previous self, to the point where a lot of people -myself obviously included- just find it unwatchable.

I have to start with the anchors. As near as I can tell, the anchor used to be a person that came off as a seasoned, wise, almost professor like figure, who would take the events of the world and talk about them in an educated way. They also seemed to assume that the people watching had been following the news at least somewhat (usually a fair assumption cause THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE ON) and could talk as such. The Anchor was someone that you felt always knew what to do in any situation. That standard seems to fallen quite a bit. The Anchors today really just seem to be above average looking people with a clean delivery.

Can you read?
Are you ugly?
mm No.
Do you have any idea what the European Union is about?
That’s a railroad in monopoly right?
You’re perfect.

I know that’s being pretty harsh, but that’s how they come off most of the time. At there best they appear to be slowly working on stand up comedy material, at worst they seem just as surprised about the news as they read as we do (really this is the first time you read that story, shouldn’t you have given a quick once over earlier so you could speak intelligently about it?). I wish they wouldn’t rely so heavily on the teleprompter, but they have to. When they try and wing a line or comment without it; best case usually some awkward unintentional comedy ensues, or worst case they try and make a joke-y segue to sports that has everyone fake laughing uncomfortably hard. Either way, it’s usually cringe inducing. Like this:

The news is also inconvenient. I’m not really ready to end my day at 10pm; I don’t want to wrap it up. That 10pm cemented slot really can’t compete with the 24 hour news channels or internet news which is updated all the time and available whenever. It’s almost like they’re blind to the existence of these other competitors and just plugging away with a losing formula. Change something, focus heavily on local news, spend more time and get more in depth on the stories, follow up with them in the following days, do anything to separate the local 10pm news from a bad 1 hour version of the news I can already watch all day long.

There is one thing they do try and do differently; they sensationalize small things to scare you into watching the news. For example there was the flesh eating bacteria that 3 people contracted a couple years ago. The news crews were all down at the local gyms showing how many germs there are and freaking people out about “Superbugs”. There may have been some validity to the story, but why not take the power of media and use it to explain the reality of the chances of them acquiring that flesh eating bacteria (which isn’t 100% fatal like they let you believe) are microscopically small, then calmly explain how to make them smaller. There’s no need to create un-educated panic. Those kind of out of proportion stories drive me nuts.

Interestingly the nightly news seems to be dying away, something that is attributed to the rise of the internet. For all its current faults I still feel like it has its place, if they would just have interesting, wise, maybe even ugly people tell a more complete story without adding craziness just to get a rise out of folks. In essence get back to basics.

Jan 6, 2009

Tue: I would add a Siesta

Usually right around 2pm, things start to go dark, my memory is worse then the guy from Memento, and my ability to answer questions with anything resembling intelligence starts to go away. I don’t really think I’m alone in this issue. I’ve noticed my Co-workers just sort of staring at the computer screen hoping that the e-mail would write itself, or sitting in class watching people convince themselves that they listen better with their eyes closed. People are tired. They’re getting upset. They need a nap, and by nap I mean 30-45 minutes after lunch to grab a wink of sleep. I really don’t think there’s even an argument here, but for the sake of interestingness (possibly not a real word) I’m going to pretend like there is.

Nobody’s working or studying after lunch anyway. That hour after lunch is currently the un-official space out time. Take a class that meets at 12pm you’ll see what I mean. Everyone is yawning, the teacher has to pretend like she’s asking rhetorical questions after nobody answers them, and the most effort you’ll see is watching kids do their best to be inconspicuous when they’re trying to look at the big clock on the wall behind them. This is currently a lost hour, nothing is getting done. We might as well stop pretending and use that time to recharge so we can actually do something worthwhile before sunset.

Taking a nap at midday would also help in other less obvious areas:

Less Energy Drinks
I used to drink a lot of energy drinks, at least 1 a day. Over the summer though I lost the tolerance I had built up for them, and now they make me shake….like a normal person. If everyone took a nap, they couldn’t feel that need for a jolt of caffeine. There have been studies that proves a nap is more effective than either an energy drink or coffee. Besides there is no way anything named Full Throttle, or Monster, or even my favorite Kronik should be introduced willingly into your body except under the most dire circumstances. Plus it would hopefully put Red Bull out of business and I won’t ever have to watch another one of their awkward commercials.

Creates Camaraderie
Remember sleepovers, and how afterward you would always feel so much closer to the friend or friends you had over. It would be like that every day right after lunch. Minus the popcorn, and videogames, and telling secrets of course. Well no actually you could probably still tell secrets. Anyway I think it would bring everyone in an office or class closer.

Get to Know the Real You
On the flip-side I believe that there’s a 3-9 minute period between coming out of sleep and actually waking where the true person shines through. Personally I’m not really a “shiner” during this window, and I think that would be valuable information for the people at work or school to know (“You know that Gabe guy, he’s capable of some really dark stuff, we probably shouldn’t plagiarize our portion of the group paper from the internet or else we might have to deal with him……true story). It would make separating the bad apples much easier.

Reduce Car Crashes
Outside of rush hour and super-early Sunday morning the hours immediately following lunch are the most dangerous to be on the road. People are sleepy, they just finished eating, it’s bright outside, it’s a recipe for a 4 car pile-up. If we all just took that nap, lives would be saved.

Did you know everyone in America turned off our lights for an hour everyday the energy we saved would power the great state of Montana for a year? What, you don’t believe me? It’s true, Al Gore showed me a graph. By not taking a naps we are killing this planet. Sill don’t believe me? Whatever, sustainability is a fringe-science anyway.

Improve Dental Hygiene
It’s recommended that you brush your teeth twice a day, which is good. But wouldn’t 3 times be better? Once we started taking naps could it be far behind that everyone discovers they need to brush afterward? How have the people at Crest not figured this out? They could be moving 50% more product, they should have lobbyists down there right now pushing the “Nap Bill” through congress.

I’m tired of trying to act interested in what’s going on around 2pm. Plus I’ve been noticing that this body God created is pretty honest about what it needs, and when it tells me I’m hungry I usually eat. It’s just natural. There’s no reason to ignore that 1pm time cry for sleep. What makes it different? Hopefully one day in my lifetime people will realize this and we can all just embrace the Nap once again.

Jan 5, 2009

Mon:I like QuikTrip

There’s some stores or restaurants that just reach the elusive Target greatness. They come off classy, they remain inexpensive enough for a college student, and they're likeable enough that you’ll go out of your way to visit that store instead of the other guy. I would have to say that somehow QuikTrip has managed to capture that greatness. Well to me anyway.

It’s hard to believe but I realize there’s a few folks out there who have no idea what I’m talking about, they’re wondering “what is this—Quiktrip?” I’m just sorry you’re going have to have to settle for this shoddy explanation and won’t be able to see for yourself. Quiktrip is a convenience store/gas station but that really doesn’t do it justice. It’s the next evolution in gas stations for a variety of reasons.

First of all the food at Quiktrip is not just OK, it’s usually amazing. Have you ever had a donut from this place? The maple bars are something like 14 inches long. 14 inches! They have fresh sandwiches that make fast food look cheap and extremely unhealthy by comparison. But in the event you’re into that sort of thing, or maybe it’s been a long night and you're craving something jack-in-the-Box-esque they also have $1 Taquito’s (admittedly they take some getting used to so don’t go crazy with them your first time out) or stuffed breadsticks, and of course the convenience store staple, the hot dog. None of it is old either, You’ll never walk in there and see that mystery slim jim looking sausage rolling around on the hot dog roller like you would usually see at a normal place.

You can’t talk about the food without also talking about the drinks. When they first opened in my area, they gave everyone who came in a free mug and free refills on that mug for a month (who says you can't buy love?). Some places that would be kind of cool, but really how many cups of bad coffee or watered down coke can you enjoy. At QT though, there’s like 8 different types of good coffee not including the hot Chai tea, Hot Chocolate, or Cappuccino. Then there’s the cold stuff, your usual array of soda’s and lemonade, but also something called the black cherry smoothie. I’m not totally sure how it qualifies for smoothie status because I’m pretty sure there’s no fruit in it, in fact it tastes pretty much like a cherry kool-aid slush, which is basically what every kid grows up wishing those self righteous Icee’s were; Kool-aid slushes. It's nice to see the dream finally realized.

The employees are amazing too. I’m not really sure where they find these people, but they rival the folks who work at Starbucks for friendliness and employees of In and Out for competency. They're like a super-hybrid. I’ve sat there and watched a guy named Zach work 2 registers simultaneously to check out a line of 9 people while making sure to say hello and have a quick chat with all of them. true story. If I ever need to hire someone for anything I’m just going to go down to QT and headhunt there.

The overall vibe of the place is just really legit, and safe. In fact most QT’s even have a little sign letting you know that you have now entered a safe place. I always see that and it reminds me of one of those cities that the Israelites could run to if they accidentally killed someone and needed protection from the family of the victim. If I ever wrong someone that badly there’s a good chance you’ll find me at QT relaxing in my “safe place”.

So most of that previous praise for QT was well warranted but I think what I really like about the place is how it took a traditionally shady and frequently questionable thing like the convenience store and made it something that people could be legitimately proud of. They could be proud to work there, or shop there, or even just live near there. They just completely redeemed the idea of a gas station. I’m sure one day students will study how QT stepped up and showed everyone what kind of potential these places had and as a result found a permanent place in communities. As a business student, being able to watch that happen in the real world has been pretty cool and sometimes inspires me to see potential in other traditionally ugly or dirty jobs.

Jan 2, 2009

Fri: I look forward to Edge Preview

A quick explanation for the 2 people who check this blog and aren’t sure what Edge preview is. The Edge Corps is the entry level position for someone working full time with the Navigators which is a ministry with various arms including college, military, and publishing divisions. The Edge preview is a small 3-day conference that is designed to give young people who are interested a “peek” at what committing to edge would entail. (That how I understand it anyway, I’m not totally sure because I haven’t actually gone yet). So I somehow got signed up to go to this thing, at the time I really had no clue what it even was, I was just told there was a castle and some mountain goats, and really they had me at castle. Aside from the castle though, there’s a bunch of other things I’m looking forward to concerning the edge preview trip.

So in case for some reason you didn’t know, I like driving. The aspect of a 12 hour trip isn’t something that bugs me; I’m actually looking forward to the traveling part of the trip quite a bit. I’ve traveled to a painfully small amount of the U.S. so anytime I can add a couple cities and states to that list, it’s something I can get behind. It's just an added bonus that we're traveling through northern Arizona which always a beautiful drive.

As if just traveling wasn’t good enough, there’s a good chance that there will be snow will be involved at some point. I’ve lived in the desert my whole life so seeing snow is basically the equivalent of a blind person going to the movies, Kanye West making 808’s and Heartbreak, getting assigned a take home test for a final, or the Cardinals being in the playoffs. It’s highly unusual but a really nice change of pace. Who knows, I might even get to wear a scarf.

Aside from family, I’ll also get to spend a lot of time hanging out with friends I haven’t really seen since winter break started, and you know, it’s possible I might've kind of missed them or whatever. Anyways moving on…

Aside from all the trimmings of the trip, I’m also looking forward to just having a chance in the middle of a work week no less to just sit back and learn about God. Have some time to really just try and listen to Him through his Word, and get additional guidance on how to better understand his messages. Sure I’m also interested in finding out what the deal is with Edge Corps and what that whole deal is about, but it’s somewhat of a side note. In reality I’m rarely able to wrap my brain around just what amazing position God has put me in, where I can go somewhere and meet other believers and just learn about stuff that will be interesting, and valid forever. So I do my best to recognize those opportunities and look forward to them.

Jan 1, 2009

Thu: I miss MCC

So the New Year is here, and with it the spring semester, which will hopefully be my last semester (barring any last second, degree pathway, bait-and-switch stuff). I’ve enjoyed my time at ASU and I’m sure for the most part the spring will be pretty cool. That being said, I would never say (and I’m relatively sure you’ll agree) that ASU is the hands down best schooling experience I ever had. There was another I school I attended a couple years ago that also holds some good memories. At the time I was actually going to this school if you asked me to put together a list of good things about this school it would have read something like this:

Good things about Mesa Community College
1) It’s only for 2 years
2) Ummm….it’s close to my house?

Thankfully I’ve had some time, and one of the many wonders of time is that it can sometimes give you a new perspective. With that new perspective I’ve started to realize that I miss taking classes at Mesa Community College.

I’ve always been jealous of the people who came out of high school knowing exactly what they wanted to study at college. I wasn’t even close. Coming out of high school I decided to study to be a Music Educator, which at the time seemed reasonable. I liked music, I appreciated some of my band teachers, and I had no better ideas so I went with it. I think had I decided to major in Music education at ASU there’s a possibility I would have felt somewhat pigeonholed into finishing it out. MCC for good or for bad doesn’t pigeonhole anyone. You could basically take classes in whatever you want till kingdom come for all they care, which for me was a good thing because it let me take that time to try some stuff out and find a major I liked. Which it turned out was not music education.

Really there was only one reason I found that major; the teachers. The teachers I’ve had at ASU have been really good for the most part, but there were very much teachers. The MCC teachers never really felt like teachers, sure they taught the material, but they always felt a little like that Substitute teacher who comes in and feeds you all the answers and then spends the rest of the time talking about their life (I was homeschooled so my exposure to Subs is pretty limited, but the few I'ev sen usually do this). If I was going there for serious education this probably would have been beyond frustrating to me, but I was really just there to poke around and get direction. When you’re looking for direction their really is no better assistance than talking to people who have lived a life, worked a profession and now just teach and try and direct a bunch of aimless college students. They were frank, they would tell you if your major was stupid, or the classes you were taking were a waste of time. I think they could be so honest because they knew they couldn’t get fired for something stupid like hurting a student’s feelings by hitting them with some cold reality. Sometimes I feel like university professors are stepping on eggshells to appeal to the students, telling what they want to hear and such.

The students were different there too. I like the students at ASU for the most part, but they take everything so seriously. Every group project there’s always one kid who is just up the wall emailing everybody 6 times a day to make sure our project (that was usually worth 5% of the grade) is still going well. The kids at MCC all had bigger things to worry about I think. That 5% project takes a backseat to keeping your job or raising your family ( I took lot of classes with people going back to school). It put things in perspective for me, it allowed me to understand where school fits in life, how important it is, and un-important at the same time. It was cool, and sometimes I miss the honesty and that constant reminder of proper perspective.

Thur & Fri

I'm on a small vacation for a couple days in San Diego, spending time with family. So as much as it pains me to break this streak of consecutive posts, the thursday and friday posts probably won't be up till the weekend when I get bored and decide to write them up. I'm relatively sure no one is too heart broken about this, and we can get though this small delay together. ;)