Sunday, November 30, 2008

And now...

...the blog post you've all been waiting for: pictures of the mantis!

If you happened to read this blog post of a couple of weeks ago, you learned that we currently have a pet praying mantis. My dad found her (more like she found him) while he was working and now she lives in a terrarium at our house. As far as mantises go, I think she's pretty good-looking. :) I got out the camera today and took a few photos so you can all see how cool she is.

Some things you might be wondering:
Q: What does she eat?
A: Things that move, usually house flies and crickets that we bought at the pet store. We just put the other insects in her cage along with her and she eats them at the appropriate time. It's a pretty good way to use those flies that buzz around the house sometimes, and she seems to like them.

Q: Why is the picture so bad?
A: This is actually the best photo of her that I got. The tank she is living in has a lot of water spots on it, and the macro setting on my camera leaves something to be desired. Please click on the picture to see it in a bigger format.

Q: Why is she brown?
A: Apparently some mantises just come that way. She changes between a creamy brown and a dark brown during the day.

Q: How does she eat flies?
A: First, she grabs them with her forelegs. Then she bites off the head and eats that first, while holding on to the rest of her body with her foreleg. Then she eats the rest.

Q: Does she always catch them on the first try?
A: No. It seems to maybe have something to do with how hungry she is. These days she's pretty well fed, so if something happens to walk by, she'll reach for it, but doesn't seem to be really into it.

Q: How do you know she's a female?
A: According to informational websites on mantises, males have eight abdominal segments and females have six. I did count six, but the dead giveaway was when she laid eggs one night at about 1:00 in the morning. My brother came and got me after I had just gotten into bed and said something like, "You might not be interested, depending on how asleep you are, but the mantis is laying eggs right now." I got out of bed and watched the process for the next hour or so. I was really tired the next day but it was worth it.

This is a photo of the first egg sac she made. It's about the size of a small walnut, and it's stuck to the wire mesh on the top of the screen over her house. She has laid two more smaller egg sacs since then.

Q: Are you gonna have baby mantises?
A: Unknown. It's possible that she may have mated before she came to us, but she also might have just expelled the eggs because it was time. At any rate, the baby mantises would be most beneficial out in our yard, where they could take care of insect pests, so we will probably put the egg sacs outside and let them hatch (if they will) in the springtime. Which means we may likely never know whether the eggs are viable or not.

Q: Is this the most spoiled praying mantis ever?
A: We are definitely not the first people to keep a mantis as a pet, but she does have a pretty sweet life. Check out this photo of her digs:
We had this tank as a home for previous pet lizards we had. You can see that she has rocks and branches to climb on, a light for light and heat, an electric hot rock, a little water dish and a blue netting thing that she likes to climb on and hide under. The other things you see in there are pieces of potato and banana that the crickets eat.

Q: Is having a mantis as a pet really as cool as you say?
A: I am not normally a person who has feelings of affection for animals that are not soft and furry. Even things like hamsters and gerbils don't appeal to me that much; I prefer more intelligent animals. But as invertebrates go, this mantis is pretty awesome. She is fun to watch as she climbs around the cage and looks around at what is going on. By observation and by research I have also learned quite a bit about insect anatomy and behavior.

Q: What's her name?
A: My dad never officially named her because we don't expect her to live that long (in the wild she would likely have already frozen by now). But my mom suggested the name "Millie".

Have any more questions about the mantis? Feel free to leave a comment!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So I'm a copycat...

But this looked like so much fun.

What were you doing 20 years ago?

Wow... November of 1988. Let's see... I was 11 years old, and I would have been in the *gasp* fifth grade, I guess. My teacher was Mr. P. One thing I remember about Mr. P is that he taught us a recipe for chocolate peanut-butter squares that I still use successfully today. It's easy to remember because it's one of everything:

1 package graham crackers (not the box, the plastic-wrapped thing in the box)
1 stick butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup chocolate chips

Crush graham crackers. Melt butter and peanut butter and mix together with sugar and graham crackers. Press into 8X8 pan. Melt chocolate chips and spread on the top.

The texture of the bars depends on how finely you crush the graham crackers. These have never failed me. Give it a try.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Ok... 1998... well I was 21, so that was just before I went on the mish. November of 1998... wow, now that I think about it that was a pretty interesting time for me. I had just received my patriarchal blessing some months before, and I was in the middle of making a lot of life changes. For the better. I was also finishing up my last year of my undergraduate. That summer it was off to the MTC and Canada for one of the biggest, scariest, hardest, funnest adventures of my life. I can say that was the period of my life where I learned the power of fasting. It enabled me to have strength I wouldn't have otherwise had on my own.

What were you doing on 9/11/2001?

I was in school again. I was enrolled in a technical writing class, and we were scheduled to have class that day. I didn't even hear about the attacks until I was on the way to school in the car and heard about it on the radio. When I got to class, the instructor came, but he then said that he didn't think it was right for us to have class on a day like this. So I went home and watched some of the coverage on TV. Crazy day.

What were you doing 5 years ago?

2003. In the final year of my master's degree (wow, this series of questions coincides with some important points in my academic career!). I would have just taken the comprehensive exam for the M.A. program and happy I was done with that. Let's see now... that might have been the semester that we had the girl in my class who was REALLY pregnant and she actually thought she was going into labor during class. It turned out she wasn't. But it was a class of all girls and the professor was so nice. The professor gave her her phone so she could call her husband and everything.

What were you doing 1 year ago?

November 2007. Hm... nothing in particular comes to mind. I suppose it was getting close to the end of the semester. I was in Bro. D's choir, so we were getting ready for the big Christmas program at Kingsbury Hall. I remember one of our friends was really, really sick that day and he came to the rehearsal all wrapped up in his blanket, which to me looked like one of the paper collages made by Matisse. I like Matisse, especially during his paper period.

What did you do yesterday?

Yesterday I went to a sacrament meeting at the branch where my parents serve to hear a friend sing a beautiful musical number, "I Know That My Redeemer Lives". I don't usually like people who have a pop style of singing so much but there is something about her when she sings; during the last verse I found myself anticipating every line, wanting to join in myself. It was inexplicably thrilling. After that I went to ward choir practice and then we had our regular church meetings. After church I was invited to go to a scone party at the house of some people in the ward. It was fun to visit and get to know people better. By the time it was over it was dark outside and I didn't have a jacket because I had walked to church when the sun was out and it was warmer. The host kindly offered to drive me home and I wanted to take his offer but I was too proud so I pretended like it wasn't a big deal and said I would be fine. And you know what? As soon as I stepped outside, I realized it wasn't as cold as I thought it was. I had a few goosebumps when I got home, but it was really ok, not to mention that I only had to walk like two blocks. And on the way home I called the girl that I visit teach and ended up going to her house and having a visit with her.

What am I doing today?

Well I'm writing this at almost 1:30 in the morning so today is pretty much over. Last night I realized I was getting a cold so I tried to go to bed somewhat early and today I got up at about 9:00. I ate some granola and decided that I felt like working on schoolwork so I did that for a couple of hours. I wrote an e-mail to my professor that basically said, "I know we have an appointment to talk about my work but I'm not sure if you want me to come to your office coughing today." She wrote back that I could e-mail what I was working on and she would give me some feedback. After that I took a long, long nap in the afternoon and had some bad dreams, although I can't remember them now. Then I watched TV programs for a while and did a little more schoolwork, then watched more TV programs while trying to download a couple of mp3s from Napster. Things really weren't working well on their end and it was taking forever for stuff to load. They almost lost my business today... except they have the biggest availability of Aaliyah mp3s on the web and I am really into Aaliyah right now.

(I hope I'm not the only person who thinks of days as sleep to sleep rather than stopping and starting at midnight. I mean, it's 1:30, but it's still today because I haven't been to sleep yet. And in a few hours, it'll be the same day on the calendar, but it'll be tomorrow. Know what I mean?)

What will I do tomorrow?

Assuming that I will be feeling somewhat better (which I think is true) I will get up in the morning and have some breakfast and hopefully get some more work done for school. I am really getting close to being ready with this big project, and the closer I get the sooner I want to get it done, so I work on it a lot lately. Also I should practice the piano but we'll see if I talk myself out of it. In the evening one of my friends is playing a piano recital (yay! that is so awesome!) and after that there is a get-together at a restaurant to celebrate the birthday of one of our choir friends. Oh, and at some point I want to swing by and pick up a birthday gift; I'm thinking a couple of gourmet chocolate bars.

So that's what's up in my life. The more things change, the more they stay the same... kind of. I think that a few years from now my answers will be very different.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Telephone interpreting
This is an NPR item I just heard on the radio.  I thought it captured some of the difficulties when languages and cultures come in contact in a very sensitive way.  I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chain blog...

Got this in an e-mail and I thought I'd do it on my blog instead of by e-mail. Anybody who wants to, feel fre to do it, and please leave me a comment so I will know that you did it and go to your blog to see.

If you opened it, you have to do it (it only takes a couple minutes I promise!)

Two names you go by:
2. (no comment, don't want to reveal my identity on my blog)

Two things you are wearing right now:
1. shiny Christmas socks

2. knit workout pants

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. to master a section of about four measures or so in the piano piece I'm working on
2. to be finished with a certain large academic project I'm working on

Two people who will most likely send this back (i.e. post it on their blogs):

Two things you did last night:
1. Went to choir practice
2. Parking-lot-danced for a really long time! It was awesome!

Two things you ate yesterday:
1. Granola
2. PB&J

Two people you last spoke to:
1. My dad
2. The lady who is in charge of musical numbers in my parents' branch

Two things you're doing tomorrow:
1. Having a piano lesson
2.Working on my large academic project (hopefully)

Two states you'd like to visit:
1. Arizona

2. Texas

Two favorite beverages:
1 Water
2. Juice

Saturday, November 15, 2008


The following are some thoughts that I've been having in association with the talk that I was asked to give in church tomorrow. I was asked to discuss one of the talks from the recent General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I felt drawn to study and talk about "The Infinite Power of Hope" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

While studying about hope, I have sort of organized my thoughts in answer to a set of questions. I give each question, with a brief response.

1. What is hope?
As taught by President Uchtdorf, hope is a powerful force. For example, he told the story about when he and his mother and siblings were fleeing from Czechoslovakia to Germany during World War II. At a certain train station, his mother left the train to get food for them, and when she returned the train was gone. With the possibility that she might never see her children again, his mother searched through the train station, "hoping against hope", and finally found the train after it had been moved.

Hope is a part of the great triad of faith, hope, and charity. Faith leads to hope, and hope leads to faith.

Hope in particular drives us to salvation. Our great hope is in Jesus Christ, that through his death and resurrection, we can be saved and enjoy eternal life. This hope can keep us going through difficult times and sad circumstances of life.

2. How can we have greater hope?
I studied a number of references that talked about how to feed our hope, but one idea that I noticed in particular is that we can gain hope by study of the scriptures. (I encourage you to read the references included with President Uchtdorf's talk to see this idea come up repeatedly in the scriptures themselves, as well as some other ways to increase hope.) How can the scriptures give us hope? Scripture is the word of God, and in the scriptures it's taught that Jesus Christ is the Savior, and that through His great Atonement we can resurrected and receive eternal life. As we read the holy word of God, the Holy Ghost confirms that these ideas are true. So reading the scriptures increases our knowledge of the great plan of our Father in Heaven, and also invites the Holy Ghost to be a bolstering force in our lives.

3. How can we help others to have hope?
I have spent a lot of time thinking about the topic of hope lately, and analyzing events around me in light of the topic. I have recently learned that a friend of mine, a smart, good person, and someone I like very much, has decided to pursue a gay lifestyle. While I never claim to say what causes some people to be attracted to those of the same sex, I believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and that it is not appropriate to engage in sexual relations under any other circumstances but between a husband and wife. For those who cannot envision themselves becoming involved in a serious relationship with someone of the opposite sex, like my friend, the future can seem long and lonely in light of that truth. It is easy to see how some people like my friend can be tempted to give up their principles in the face of that kind of loneliness.

It's not as if those who are attracted to people of the same sex are the only ones who struggle. There are people everywhere who deal with loneliness, despair, unemployment, divorce, frustration, abuse, poverty, and all of life's other negative feelings and situations. But unfortunately sometimes we add to others' problems by judging them, not understanding them, and treating them like they are bad people. This is not the Christian thing to do; it is well-known that our Savior spent time during His mortal ministry with "publicans and sinners" and that He continually ministers to people who are shunned by society. We should follow His example. People would never consider criticizing someone who had cancer or diabetes, for example. But what about people who struggle with less-fashionable circumstances, such as same-sex attraction, addiction, divorce, or a host of other things that people look down on? It seems to me that it certainly doesn't help people who are struggling for others to judge them and run away from them. Therefore, I urge us all (myself included) to encourage hope in others by treating them in more Christlike ways, by overlooking their circumstances and loving them.

I believe that the love of others helps us to have hope and security in a world that is otherwise often depressing and insecure. I can attest to the palpable feeling of security and confidence that I have in the love of my good friends. And the love of good people hopefully serves as a guide to the love and salvation that we can find in Christ. Our capacities for loving are inadequate in comparison to His, to be sure, but maybe we will learn to be more like Him as we continue to practice this love. Our hope in Christ will encourage others to hope in Him as well. And He is able and mighty to save and be the Fulfillment of our hope.

And so the message I would like to send is two-fold: (1) to those who struggle, there is hope in Christ, the powerful Redeemer of the world, and (2) to those who know them, we should love people and treat them well regardless of their circumstances. And it seems to me that basically everyone in the congregation is part of both groups.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

If you have any comments on these thoughts, or even stories that I could incorporate into this talk, I would be happy to learn them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts on Perry Mason

Raymond Burr is quite heavyset in some episodes, but he is still cast as the heroic leading man. It just goes to show how different standards about body image were back in the days that Perry Mason was made.

It seems that nobody on the show remembers their fifth-amendment rights. The murder almost always confesses on the stand, except when they confess when they're not on the stand. (Actually, while I was writing this, an episode showed where the accomplice ratted out the murderer... but this is the exception to the rule.)

Berger is like the worst district attorney ever -- he never wins a case, and never accuses the right person. Not to mention the detective, Lieutenant Tragg; his theories of the case are always wrong too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Umbrellas in Japan

I enjoyed reading this essay:

Today for the first time I used the umbrella/parasol that was sent to me by my sister-in-law's grandmother in Japan.  It is very compact and worked great!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"No abrir el puerta. Tienes una alarme gracias."*

Just got a link to this article about a bad translation on a road sign:

This story is entertaining and I can totally see how that happened, although honestly they should have checked on things when the e-mail came back all in Welsh. But it reminds me of something I see around where I live all the time: bad translations into Spanish.

Now, I'm not a native speaker of Spanish, but honestly it seems to me that when you are going to translate something into Spanish you should at least put enough effort into it to, let's say, check it out with a native speaker of Spanish. I mean, it's not like there aren't any native Spanish speakers around. For example, the title of this post is a paraphrase of a sign that hangs on one of the doors in the building where I work, easily visible from the main second-floor hallway. I happen to personally know at least three native speakers of Spanish who actually work in the building who could have easily said, "Um, nope, this is what you want to say." Not to mention that there are plenty of proficient non-native speakers around who wouldn't make such obvious errors in gender and subject-verb agreement, not to mention using the word "alarme", which doesn't even exist. (They should have gone with alarma.) In my more socially activated moments, I find it a little disrespectful to the Spanish-speaking community in the area that people won't even bother to do a good job with their Spanish translations of signs around in the area. It's kind of like saying, "We recognize that we should provide something in Spanish for you because there are enough Spanish speakers around, but we don't respect you or your language enough to actually do a half-decent job."

English speakers find it comical when obvious mistranslations have been done by non-native speakers who obviously don't know English well enough to know how badly they are doing. Two websites that are dedicated to the phenomenon are and But you will also often hear people complaining about incomprehensible owner's manuals which came with foreign products they have purchased and beefing about, "Why can't you just learn to speak English?" To people with this attitude I say, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Seriously though, through my study of sociolinguistics I have learned that people often use linguistic discrimination as a way to cover up honest-to-goodness prejudice against another group of people. It might not be acceptable to make fun of a group of people, but people will often find it acceptable if you make fun of the way they talk. That's why one linguist has called linguistic discrimination the last acceptable form of discrimination. (*shudder*)

Note to people who are posting signs in Spanish in my building: I am not a native speaker, but I could certainly do a better job than whoever is doing your translation now. And I work cheap.

*"Don't open the door. You have an alarm thank you."