Saturday, December 19, 2009

I have a cool life!

I had the opportunity yesterday to go to a shop where a 77-year-old man and his son repair musical instruments such as player pianos, organs, and jukeboxes.

This is what the inside of a player piano looks like.

Cool, huh?

And here's an old jukebox that plays 33s:

It hasn't been used since the 80's.  How did I know when it was last used?

Just a hunch.

Their shop was packed with cool stuff, and they taught us how to use a player piano, too!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yes, it is what you think it is.

Twilight New Moon: The Movie Board Game.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ain't it the truth?

"...Bree said, 'And now, Tarkheena, tell us your story. And don't hurry it -- I'm feeling comfortable now.'
"Aravis immediately began, sitting quite still and using a rather different tone and style from her usual one. For in Calormen, story-telling (whether the stories are true or made up) is a thing you're taught, just as English boys and girls are taught essay-writing. The difference is that people want to hear the stories, whereas I never heard of anyone who wanted to read the essays."
From The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cat on a leash.

I'm coming back from my long pause in blogging by sharing my feelings on a subject I've been thinking about lately. It's not that I have chosen not to blog; it's just that I didn't really have anything to say until now.

Have you ever tried to teach a cat to walk on a leash? I have heard that it is possible with at least one breed of cat, but I can remember well attempting to teach my cat to lead. As soon as I clipped the leash onto her collar, she stretched against it and tried to get her head out and wouldn't even change her mind for the treats that I offered. I gave up pretty quickly and she never did learn to lead.

Sometimes we people can be like that too. When presented with a rule or restriction, sometimes we are so busy fighting against it just because we want the freedom, that we are much less productive than we could be if we just followed the rule. We are so interested in having independence that we jeopardize the trust that others would otherwise have in us.

The ultimate example of this, in my mind, is learning to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15) It sometimes seems counterintuitive that submission to God's will and obedience to his commandments makes us free. But that is exactly what happens. When we make any choice the natural consequences of that choice go into motion. With some choices the natural consequences lead to captivity and death; with other choices the natural consequences lead to liberty and eternal life. (2 Nephi 2:27)

It seems like a big waste of energy to strain against my leash and complain about how I am cheated and restricted when I could be enjoying a walk outside.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Some amusing things that have happened in the past two days

1. I went to a town about an hour south of my house yesterday to visit a friend who is staying there. Not being particularly familiar with the town, but knowing the Utah grid address system and sporting a handy Google Maps printout, I didn't worry about being able to locate the place. So off I went toward the address I had on my paper, which looked like this: 1337 West 140 North. (Address has been changed to protect people's privacy.)

When I arrived at the cute little house at the address, I walked up to the front door and rang the bell. A nice young mom a babe in arms and three or so other kids curiously gathered around her answered the door.

"Hi, I'm ," I said. She looked at me blankly. "S's friend," I said. When she didn't seem to know what I was talking about I realized I must have the wrong house. So I got back in the car and called my friend, asking for the address again. Turns out that the address was really 1337 West 140 SOUTH. What a coincidence that there just happened to be two 1337s!

2. Last night I was visiting with my mom and my "sis" in the latter's bedroom. We noticed a quiet but audible high-pitched sound and were trying to figure out where it was coming from. We searched the closet, moved our heads around to sense the direction of the sound, unplugged things, turned things on and off, and even branched out into the hallway and other rooms to try to figure out the source of the sound. After 10 minutes or so of a confusing search my mom finally realized where the sound was coming from: the electronic mosquito repeller in her pocket. She had it at work and had put it in her pocket to bring home. Every time my mom moved, the sound moved, which explains why it was so hard to locate.

3. I pulled into a local quick-lube place to get my emissions test and inspection. Hey, it's the last day of the month; no time like the present! Since there were a couple of people in line in front of me, I parked over to the side where directed and went into the waiting room. After I perused a magazine for a while, one of the workers came in and asked for the person who brought in the Corolla. "Can I borrow your keys?" he asked.

"I thought I left it in the car," I said.

"The car is locked," he said.

I realized what had happened almost immediately: upon getting out of the car I left the key in the ignition so the workers could move it, but habitually pressed the power-lock button so the key was locked inside the car.

Luckily I was able to reach my mom at work and she could bring me a key. While I waited for her to come in the waiting room, another customer told me a funny story about her 16-year-old daughter, who called her once from outside her boyfriend's house. "Mom, I just broke up with Billy, and I locked my keys in the car." Talk about ruining your exit.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An open letter to boys I chat with online.

Dear boys on online dating sites,

I have been using online dating sites because I don't have many avenues to meet more people. I actually enjoy the experience because the online scene is one in which I feel comfortable interacting anyway. I also appreciate the fact that it allows me to get to know a lot of people. Here are a few things that hopefully will help our online experience go more smoothly:

1. I appreciate your compliments. Thanks for letting me know that you think I'm good-looking. I haven't gotten a lot of that in my life.

2. I don't need more pen pals. Of course we are going to exchange messages to see if we think that we might be interested in each other. But I have plenty of friends to chat with on the Internet. If our conversations are not progressing toward us getting together, I'm probably not going to engage in a lot of flirty banter with you just for the heck of it. So if you want to go out, ask me out.

3. If you're interested in me, be interested. Don't just message me every other week when things aren't working out with whatever girl you've been working on lately. Corollary: I'd rather not hear about what the last girl was complaining about. I try to keep a positive attitude and I like having positive conversations.

4. There is no need for a "No thanks" message. Just don't write me back. The fact that you took the effort to send out a "no thanks" makes it feel like a rejection, whereas a non-reply is simply part of Internet life.

5. If you want to impress me, don't try to ask me "spicy" questions or refer a lot to making out and so forth when we get together. If you're interested in having a girl just to make out or talk dirty with, I don't think I'm what you're looking for. Don't get me wrong: I enjoy expressing myself physically, and I believe that the man I end up with will be very satisfied. But I'm not here to be used and I deserve better than that.

6. If your age has a 4 or 5 in the tens place, I'm not the girl you're looking for. I'm only 32, after all. In fact, I feel more comfortable with people who are younger than I am most of the time.

I am looking to enrich my life through making more social connections that ultimately lead to personal meetings (i.e. dates). If that's not what you're into right now we'd probably both be a lot happier talking with other people. On the other hand, if you think we might click, give it a chance! It's only one date, after all, not the end of the world.

Sincerely yours,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tornado anniversary

I just saw a news story in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the big tornado in Salt Lake City. Yes, it was August 10, 1999 when the F-2 tornado went through downtown Salt Lake City, killing one, injuring others, uprooting trees, etc. The news anchor said something like, "I think if you were living here at that time you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when the tornado happened."

Watch one of the news stories here

I definitely remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard about the tornado. I was going door-to-door on the streets of Winnipeg as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As we walked the other direction on a street we had been visiting, a woman I had talked with before came out of her house. "You're from Salt Lake City!" she said. "There was a tornado! You better call your family and make sure they're okay!"

Of course being from Salt Lake City, my first instinct was to say something like, "Excuse me, I thought you said tornado." Because, of course, tornadoes are not high on the Utah natural disaster list. Scientists have been predicting The Big Earthquake ever since I was a child, but we don't usually worry about tornadoes doing much damage in our mountain valley home.

But sure enough, the next day someone showed me a map in the newspaper that diagrammed the path of the tornado through downtown Salt Lake City. After that I didn't give it much more thought; I knew that my family was far from the path.

And so today, they remember the tornado in a news story. Must be a slow news day.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thanks for your votes!

Top 100 Language Blogs 2009

This blog was nominated for the Top 100 Language Blogs 2009 contest in the category of Language Professionals. Voting for the contest ended a couple of days ago. Click here to see the results. While I didn't make it into the top 20 professionals or the big top 100, I appreciate everyone who voted for me, and I think it's great that is compiling groups of blogs that have interest in language, language teaching, language learning, and so on, and I'm honored to have been nominated! I appreciate my readers (even those of you who skip over the linguistics stuff -- you know who you are *grin*).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Do you think I'm going to fall for this?

Below see the text of an e-mail I got recently. I'd never seen one quite like THIS before...

REFERENCE: SNS/NL/0671341/09


Be informed that my previous mail to you was not responded to. I found it necessary to write you once on the subject matter because of the importantance.

It may interest you to know a comprehensive search revealed your last name to be same with a customer of the SNS Bank (now deceased) whom my bank’s efforts to locate his relatives/family members have been unsuccessful. The benefit from this dormant account worth millions in dollars is awaiting payment to a potential heir/beneficiary.

Putting into consideration this, my job as head of compensation and benefits and the legal requirement of claims like this, your last name can pass for a heir to this huge amount. You need not worry about the legal requirement as you shall be closely guided and directed on this.

Kindly respond with your name as stated in your driver's license or international passport and your direct telephone number to signify interest.

Be advised to keep this very important notice to yourself until advised otherwise

Yours Faithfully,
Chris Veenstra

Seriously, are you kidding me? I especially like the part about how I am supposed to "keep it to myself until advised otherwise"...

A conversation analysis of IM

Just another example of how once you turn the linguistic machinery in your mind on, you can't turn it off...

Some of the important seminal articles in the field of conversation analysis study the structure of telephone conversations. Among the findings of this research are that the beginning of telephone conversations has a slightly different structure from face-to-face conversation. Face-to-face conversation always involves a period of negotiation at the beginning of the conversation where the participants signal their mutual agreement to start the conversation, such as the following:
A: Hello, how are you?
B: Fine. How are you?
A: Good, thanks. How was your weekend?
B: Oh pretty relaxed.
A: Good. So, what's the latest news on the Berman report?
B: Well Berman called yesterday and...

and the conversation on the chosen topic continues on from there. In this conversation, both A and B signal their mutual consent to have a conversation by following the standard moves listed in the first four turns ("Hi, how are you" etc.) In this example, A requests B to have a conversation by initiating this sequence of turns and don't agree to participate in a conversation, the conversation might go like this instead:

A: Hello, how are you?
B: Good. How are you?
A: Good. How was your weekend?
B: Pretty good. Gotta run! See you later!

And in this case the conversation is ended, since B did not indicate agreement with A's request to have a conversation.

Telephone conversations are very similar in their structure, except they are usually missing the first part.
B: Hello?
A: Hiya. How was your weekend?
B: Pretty good. So, what's the latest news on the Berman report?

If you compare the turns in this conversation to the turns in the previous conversation you will notice that the turns are very similar, except appear to be offset. That is, the order of turns seems to be the same except for the first turn is missing. Conversation analysts have identified that the ring of the telephone seems to neatly replace the initial (missing) turn of the conversation:

A: (ring)
B: Hello?
A: Hiya. How was your weekend?
B: Pretty good. So, what's the latest news on the Berman report?

The initial turn of the conversation, then, whether it is a stated "hello" in a face-to-face conversation or the ring of the telephone, serves as a summons to the conversation, an initial request for the conversation to happen. The other participant responds with a series of turns that indicates his/her uptake of the summons and agreement to participate in the conversation. With the conversation fully initiated, the first participant is then available to propose a topic and the conversation will continue.

So far, this has all been summary of some work that has been done by some important researchers in the field of conversation analysis, such as Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson.

With this background in mind, I noticed that when I began a conversation by IM recently, I did not use any conversation initiator. I simply began the conversation with, "I miss you". No "hello" or other standard conversation initiator.

My guess? Since both people have already indicated that they are "online" by means of chat indicators, there is no need for the first part of the chat by which both participants mutually agree that they are willing to have a conversation, since the online indicator takes care of that.

However, I have also noticed that not all IM conversations begin that way. Sometimes they begin with something like "hey" which certainly seems like an initiator. Perhaps in these situations, even though the people are both online, the person still feels a need to verify that a conversation is wanted?

Feel free to respond with your thoughts...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vote for Me!


My blog has been nominated for a contest! I received a comment recently that I was nominated for's Top 100 Language Blogs 2009 under the category "Language Professionals".

To vote for me, click the button at the top of this post and choose the blog "Colorless Green Ideas". To see the list of blogs nominated in my category click here. To see more information about the contest, click here.

I'm not sure what the prize for this contest is, but I assume it's pretty much just bragging rights and maybe I will get to put a cool badge on my blog! Tell your friends!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Why variation across cultures in SLA?

As a student of SLA theory, I think I can summarize a lot of theory and research by making this statement: we don't know what explains the differences in the ways people learn language, although we have a lot of ideas.  I have particularly been thinking about a few of those factors in light of my recent experiences.

This summer I had the opportunity again to visit beautiful Europe, which always helps me to reflect on my experiences both as a language learner.  This year I went straight from the Czech Republic, where proficient English speakers are relatively difficult to find, to Sweden, where speaking advanced English is the norm.

Surely I am not the first person who has wondered: why is it that in two European countries relatively close to each other there is such a noticeable difference in the proficiency of the general population in English?

(At this point I would like to insert the comment that I do not wish to imply by asking this question that people should learn English.  People are free to learn or not learn whatever languages they choose.  Nor am I trying to imply that I think Sweden is better than the Czech Republic somehow -- I have dear friends in both cultures.  In this post I am simply using the two cultures as an example of obvious variation in language learning success on an overall sociocultural level.)

Let's discuss some possibilities:
1. History.
During the communist time, Czechs usually only studied Russian or German at school.  If I recall correctly, the Velvet Revolution that led to the overthrow of communism and, ultimately, return of widespread English teaching to Czechs.  This explains why basically an entire generation of Czech people doesn't speak English, and why the most proficient users of English are likely to be elderly people (who learned it before the communist time) or younger people (who learned it after).

But this can't be the only explanation, because even just looking at the younger people there is a noticeable difference in the language learning success overall between Swedes and Czechs.  While they start learning the language at more or less the same grade in school, many young people in Sweden are highly proficient in English while their Czech counterparts are struggling with beginning-level vocabulary and grammar.

2. Methodology.
It is true that language teaching methods are different in different areas of the world, but I'm not sure that this is the explanation either.  When I first started participating in teacher education workshops in the Czech Republic a few years ago, we inappropriately expected that we would be preaching the merits of communicative language teaching and found ourselves quite humbled when we discovered that our Czech colleagues had heard it all before.  In the Czech schools I have worked in, the teachers have had access to the most updated curricula and texts for English language teaching and have learned current methods at their training colleges.

3. Language/cultural background.
You might think that, perhaps because Swedish is more closely related to English than Czech is, people who already have a background in Swedish would find it easier to learn English.  Research in SLA doesn't seem to support this line of thinking, however.  Studies have shown that, regardless of language background, learners tend to progress through the same stages when learning a new language.  In addition, Swedish and Czech are both Indo-European languages, and therefore neither of them is particularly far from English.

In a more subtle way, however, cultural factors may be at work.  In my experience, Swedes self-identify with Western Europeans and Americans closer than other cultural groups.  It stands to reason then that identifying so closely with native speakers of English in Britain and America may be a cultural reason that Swedish people seem to be more successful at learning English overall.  But can a slight cultural difference (the one between Eastern and Western Europe) be the explanation for such variation in language learning?

4. Exposure.
It does seem more likely that exposure to English is one factor in the differential English-learning success between Swedish and Czech learners.  While both groups have access to plenty of English-speaking television programs, movies, music, etc. in the original language, English seems to have a noticeable presence in Swedish popular culture that Czech does not.  English is more likely to appear on Swedish billboards, t-shirts, and so forth.  In the Czech Republic it is prestigious to have English words on your clothing, but the meaning of these words is apparently not important.  Or at least it seems that way because of the amount of "engrish" that can be observed on clothing in the Czech Republic.  In addition, because the population in general is less proficient in English in CZ, I could argue that people get less exposure to other people speaking English as part of everyday life.  For example, a Swedish friend of mine told me that her parents used to speak English to each other when they didn't want the children to understand what they were saying.  While she did not understand English at that time, she quite possibly picked up some phonotactic information or even rudimentary vocabulary and grammar of English because of that exposure.  Since highly proficient English speakers are still at a premium in the Czech Republic, the overall chance for a person to hear English spoken in or out of the classroom seems less.

5. Attitude/Motivation/Learner Beliefs.
Many Czechs that I have talked to have expressed to me the difficulty they experience in learning English.  It does not surprise me; I understand well that English has many irregularities and grammatical surprises.  In Sweden, however, an English learner is constantly surrounded with other people who use English proficiently, perhaps causing Swedish learners to be more confident in their abilities to learn English in comparison to their Czech counterparts.  Perhaps the fact that everyone else is doing it is the reason that Swedes can do it so well.

6. Strength of need for English as a lingua franca.
Both Czech and Swedish are relatively nonprestigious linguistically, so it stands to reason that the people would need a lingua franca.  German has been an accessible and historical lingua franca for Czechs, while Swedes don't have the same historical background with German speakers.  The area of the Czech Republic where I lived, for example, receives many German-speaking tourists but hardly any American or British tourists.  So perhaps English is not as necessary in the Czech Republic because German is more used.  Personally this point doesn't feel like the explanation to me, and I feel that I hardly know the history of language contact in Sweden well enough to claim that English is more necessary than German there.  Both countries, are, after all, extremely close to Germany.

I give this list as a set of possibilities, believing that some of them are more likely to be the correct explanation than others.  Feel free to add your comments and observations to fill in factors that I may have overlooked.

Lead thou me on...

It's hard to summarize on this blog all the things that have happened in the past few months in my life. I made a third trip to beautiful Europe and enjoyed it thoroughly. I enjoyed it so well that I really didn't want to come home, and if it were a possibility to get a job and not just mooch off of my friend's mom for a place to live, it's possible that I would have stayed. Nevertheless I returned home as planned and have been discharging my responsibilities here and looking for a job. I was really hoping to get the job that I interviewed for in Denmark but was finally informed that the job had been offered to someone else. So in the meantime I am working on my dissertation, looking for another job, and trying to not let my life go stale just because plans didn't work out the way I thought they would.

The whole time I have felt faithful and confident that something good would come along at the right time. I was hoping that this job would lead me to Denmark, where I would meet a nice Danish man and begin the relationship/marriage phase of my life. Obviously that is not going to happen now just as I hoped... but I still have faith that I can be led to something good, if I am paying attention. I know that sometimes in life when I have gone through periods like this it has just been because I had to wait for the timing to be right, and then something really good happened. I feel that this might be one of those periods.

But it doesn't seem right to just put myself on deep freeze waiting for something good to happen. First of all, that is extremely boring and frustrating. Second, I can take advantage of the time to improve myself and get ready for whatever is coming in the future. I am particularly afraid that I might miss the subtle, quiet Divine promptings that are shepherding me in the right direction. I often pray lately that I will be able to pay attention to them.

In the meantime, I have a dissertation to work on and hopefully will be able to start teaching ESL in about a month. I'm even taking a crack at online dating, just as a way to get out of the routine, get out of the house, and meet people.

To see the hymn "Lead, Kindly Light" (the basis for this post's title), please click here. It's one of my favorites.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I have been thinking a lot lately about my music choices. A couple of years ago, mostly influenced by experiences that I had in Europe and changes in my worldview at that time, I changed my music listening from listening to a lot of oldies and "lite" music and started listening to popular/top 40/hip-hop music. This music is exciting and interesting to me because of its beat. But lately I have been thinking about the influence my music choices have had on my thoughts. Especially lately I have noticed an increase in the number of swear words that are played on the radio. The word d*** seems to be especially prevalent to the point that I have wondered if people don't consider it to be a cuss word anymore.

Why is this a concern for me? Because music is such a big influence on my mind. I know just about everyone likes and appreciates music, but my brain seems to be especially tuned to it. I have noticed, for example, when I am at work that I am always paying attention to the song that is playing as background music. When I do work on the computer I find it difficult to concentrate without having some kind of music or sound in the background. I basically always have some music going on in my head, even if I'm not listening to music at the time. When I hear a catchy song it will often stay in my head for a long time, even for a couple of days. Therefore, when I'm singing along with music in my head, if the music contains an inappropriate word, I will tend to sing that word. I don't like having those words come off my lips. Even if the word is bleeped out or blanked out by the radio station, pretty much everybody knows what the word is anyway. My mind just fills it in. Lately it seems like curse words are quicker to occur in my mind, quite possibly as a result of the increased exposure I have had to them through music.

Secondly, I have started wondering about the messages that my mind is absorbing along with the lyrics of the songs. Here are a few examples of lines from popular songs that contain messages I'm not sure I agree with, along with my paraphrases of the possible underlying implications:

"And when it's love if it's not rough it isn't fun..." -- Poker Face, Lady Gaga
(Rough sexual interaction is the best way to interact with someone of the opposite sex; in fact, this is "love".)

"Baby if you strip you could get a tip because I like you just the way you are..." -- "The Way You Are", Timbaland
(My love for you is based on your physical appearance, especially when you are naked.)

"But now we're rocking on the dance floor, acting naughty..." -- "Please Don't Stop the Music", Rihanna
(The best way to have fun is to be "naughty". Dancing and physical attraction is the basis for a relationship.)

"Hey ladies, when your man wanna go buck wild, just go on and hit 'em up style. Get your hands on his cash and spend it to the last dime for all the hard times..." -- "Hit 'Em Up Style", Blu Cantrell
(When your man cheats on you, you should get revenge by spending all his money. Revenge will make you feel better.)

And so on, and so forth. There are many such messages in today's songs.

There are also some songs that are not particularly bad, but pretty much pointless. Consider lyrics like the following:

"I'm like a ringleader; I call the shots. I'm like a firecracker; I make it hot." -- "Circus", Britney Spears

"Somebody call 911, shorty fire burning on the dance floor." -- "Fire Burning", Sean Kingston

This type of song seems to be particularly catchy to my mind, and often repeats over and over many times after I've heard it.

Inappropriate messages in music are not new, neither are swear words or nonsense songs. But I have felt the need lately to be more careful about what songs I will listen to. I don't intend to force my choices onto other people. But I hereby declare my desire to be a little more choosy about the musical food I give my mind. I don't plan to quit listening to hits entirely, but I hope that I will change the station when a song I don't agree with comes along.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Love languages

One of the books that has most affected my way of thinking over the past few years (other than scripture, of course) is The Five Love Languages by Chapman.  I recommend the book to anyone who would like a practical way to improve their relationships.

The basic thesis of the book is that different people have certain "love languages" that are more meaningful to them.  These languages are ways of expressing and receiving love.  The five love languages are:
Physical Touch (e.g. hugs and kisses, caresses)
Words of Affirmation (e.g. terms of endearment)
Quality Time (i.e. time spent in quality conversation with an intimate)
Acts of Service (e.g. doing chores and errands for the person)

According to Chapman, each person has a primary love language, meaning that each person prefers one of these ways for giving and receiving love.  He has many examples of relationships in trouble where the people involved simply expected and gave love through different modalities, and when they were taught to be aware of and sensitive to their relationship partner's primary love language they were able to express and receive love in ways that they mutually understood.

This book has enhanced my way of understanding that people have different needs and expectations in relationships.  As I recall there is a workbook at the back that can help you to identify your primary love language and answer questions that will help you in your relationships.

I appreciate Chapman for giving us all an easily manageable system for understanding how to give love to and receive love from others.  I feel that reality is somewhat more complex than the five categories he gave, but this is a good place to start.

It's no surprise to people who know me well that my primary love language is physical touch.  In any relationship I feel that the relationship is held back somewhat unless the physical element is there.  I absolutely crave to be touched, held, and kissed.  I find it rather unusual that this is such an important modality for me, since I grew up in a culture and in a family that isn't particularly physically intimate.  But nonetheless, I feel that a relationship is somewhat held back unless the physical element is there.  However, I also value quality time spent in conversation with my intimates very much, and I find that words of affirmation are also important to me.  My ideal loving relationship would have lots of all three.  Nevertheless I identify physical touch as my primary love language because that is the one that always seems to need to be present.

This is an example of one of the ways in which my thinking on the subject goes beyond what Chapman has written.  Chapman has the idea that people can be "bilingual", meaning that they are equally happy to give and receive love through two of the above-mentioned languages.  But the way I have described myself is somewhat different from this idea of bilingualism as I understand it.  Rather than being satisfied with one or the other love language, I find that a combination of three is what I most desire.  This is not "bilingualism" but more like a "simultaneous multilingual" experience that I want.

Another way in which my experiences go beyond the initial system outlined by Chapman is that I have found that people can have different primary love languages for giving and receiving love.  I have one friend, for example, who is incredibly physically affectionate with people she cares for.  However, when people show love for her, she most prefers gifts.  So this is another extension of the idea of having a primary love language: people do not necessarily prefer to give and receive through the same modality, so apparently it's possible to have different primary love languages of reception and expression.

In addition I can also argue that the love languages overlap to some degree.  For example, when you give someone a gift, do they most appreciate the gift itself, or the fact that you did an act of service while choosing the gift?  And sharing words of affirmation with someone presupposes that you are spending some time talking to each other, which creates an overlap between words of affirmation and quality time.  But this is a minimal argument.  After all Chapman is not trying to create a scientific theory of relationships but rather trying to help everyday people improve the giving and receiving of love in their lives.  And I have certainly benefited in this way from reading the book.

I would be interested to hear others' experiences with the ideas in this book.  What do you think?  How have the ideas helped your relationships and your life?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My thoughts of late

Last night as I returned from my trip to Southern Utah I had some time to think to myself, since I had nothing to do but drive at night, listening to United States Parts 1-4 by Laurie Anderson and reflect on my life and what I had learned.  Here are some comments I would like to make about the experience.

1. It is totally worth it to go to Ivins, just to see the red hills next to the town.  Notice that I said Ivins, not St. George.  St. George's landscape is nice, but Ivins takes the cake.

2. The stars are better at night in Southern Utah too.  I easily saw Orion and realized that it had been a while.  There were many more visible stars.  It's kind of a shame that I didn't spend much time outside at night.

3. Laurie Anderson's United States Parts 1-4 is sufficiently long and engaging to listen to on a road trip, but some of the individual tracks get samey in a hurry.  I'm sure it would be much more compelling to have seen the performance in all its glory rather than listen to a recording.  Yes, I know that I am a weirdo for even having this recording on my iPod.  I promise I won't make you listen to it if you don't want to.

4. On Friday morning, I get to interview for the job that I really really want -- a position at a Danish university.  I am excited that I will have the opportunity to interview and that there is a possibility of getting the job, and I am simultaneously scared that I might not get the job.  My heart has turned so much to this job and the life it would bring me in the past couple of months, and it's hard for me to envision myself doing anything else right now.  If I didn't get the job, it would take some major adjustment (not to mention more hard work to find another job).  In the meantime I have plenty of work to do to study up for the interview so I know what I'm talking about.  I also realize that getting the job would mean moving away from family and friends, becoming an ex-pat, living in a new culture, having an experience I never thought I would have, and generally introducing some big, big changes into my life.  But at the same time, I feel I have changed a lot over the past couple of years, and those changes have made me happier.  If whatever changes are coming will continue that trend, I welcome them.  Do I dare to hope that this is the way some major blessings will come into my life?  And in the meantime I realize that time is passing quickly and my dissertation is progressing, but not as fast as I would hope.

5. It's a relief just to have gotten word about the job.  Coming home and checking my e-mail and mailbox every day with no information was killing me.

6. There's not much to see in Central Utah, but when you get to Southern Utah it's worth it.

7. Scipio is still really, really cool.  Just because it is.  The last time I can even remember being in Scipio was the time my friends and I took a trip to Cedar City for the Shakespearean Festival, which was surely something like 10 or more years ago.  Scipio is just awesome; that's all there is to it.

8. There's something about a long stretch of driving that seems to reset or retune your perception after a while.  When I make short freeway trips in the city, 65 mph seems sufficiently fast.  But after driving at 75 or 80 for a while, 65 seems like a slow cruise, and 40 seems like a bore.  Apparently my brain is kicking into "faster driving" mode and it takes a while to move in and out of it.  I wonder how that works.

9. Speaking of long road trips, before I lived in Canada I'm not sure I could have handled driving for more than an hour or two at a time.  But making the trip between Winnipeg and Fort Frances about a dozen times with me as the only driver became more comfortable after a while.  I started to understand why people in Fort Frances will go to Winnipeg just for the day to see a hockey game or shop at Wal-Mart -- it's just not that big of a deal.  And this allows me to be very independent, since I can take trips of reasonable length by myself.

10. North America is a big, big continent.  And if I end up living in Europe I hope I don't forget that.

Well, those are the kinds of things that I was thinking about on my drive.  Thanks to my friends that I visited when I was down South.  The weather was beautiful and I had a great time.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Today I had the opportunity to attend a session of General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As usual, there were protesters outside the Conference Center preaching about how latter-day saints are deceived and need to repent, etc. The picture is a photo that I took today of one of the street preachers. I apologize for the quality; my camera phone was the only camera I had with me and the sun made it difficult to see what I was shooting. In this picture you'll see that the preacher is holding a sign that spells out the acronym "LDS" using the words "Liars Deceivers Seducers".

I am not aware of any major religious conference of any other faith that is regularly protested in this way. It is understandable why people of my faith sometimes feel offended when such preachers cry that we are going to hell or that we are not Christian. Indeed, we worship the Lord Jesus Christ and sometimes find it difficult to understand why others would think we are not Christian. A sentence I have heard referring to this kind of situation is, "I don't know why they have to push their religion on others."

In this blog post I would like to defend the right of these street preachers to preach as they do, and explain why I feel that way.

I would first of all like to clarify that I think that shouting that people are going to hell, etc. as they walk by on the street is probably not a very effective way to proselyte. However, freedom of speech and freedom of religions are some of the most fundamental and revered rights upon which the United States of America is founded. While I don't agree with these protesters' opinions, they have the right to share them. As a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I volunteered full-time for a year and a half to share the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ with whomever would listen. Sometimes people would say that we were trying to push our religion on them, but we didn't see it that way. We were trying to give people the opportunity to learn about it if they wished. It seems to me that it's not really possible to force someone to believe in a religion, is it? At any rate, if I wasn't pushing my religion as a missionary, I don't believe that General Conference protesters are pushing their religion either. As long as their methods of preaching and protest are legal, I think they have the right to speak their minds. Latter-day saints generally treasure freedom of religion wherever it is available around the world.

While I disagree with their doctrines and methods, it seems that the efforts of these street preachers is based in a desire to help people to be saved. They apparently think that we are deceived, misguided people who are on the wrong path. While I believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and correct, I appreciate that these people are apparently concerned for the welfare of my soul. After all, we have many beliefs in common, such as believing that Jesus Christ is the Savior and believing that the Bible is the word of God.

I think that acceptance of the fact that other people can have beliefs and opinions different from mine is a characteristic of being a mature adult. While these street messages are sometimes delivered in an ascerbic manner, and while the doctrine they contain does not accord with what I believe, as far as I have observed I have seen nothing that would overstep the rights that these preachers have to exercise their freedom of speech. I hope that I will always be found reacting to this anti-Mormon preaching in a Christlike way.

Friday, February 27, 2009

80's Music Paradise

1 pinch Scandanavia
1 free website with tons of music videos
The a-ha channel on MTV's website:
You're welcome!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Things that I really, really don't like


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Elevator music

Honestly I didn't notice when they stopped playing elevator music in the grocery store.  All I remember is that, years ago, I used to be bopping along in the grocery aisle to violin versions of Eurythmics hits and smugly thinking to myself how ironic it seemed to be playing a sanitized version of "Sweet Dreams".  I would often find myself singing along.  Sometime, only a few months ago it seems, I noticed that all of a sudden the music they play in the grocery store is not Muzak anymore but the actual songs.  By the actual artists.  With vocals.  When did that happen?

Today I found the apparent last bastion of elevator music: Apollo Burger.  As I ate my gyro with all the trimmings I noticed that the sickeningly familiar sounds of elevator music were playing in the background.  It gave me a strange nostalgia.  Apparently the world hasn't changed so completely.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I am seriously like the worst flirt. Ever. Here's an example of my lack of flirting skills.

Yesterday I went to the gym and I got up to the treadmills where I was planning on working out. As I walked past one of the treadmills a guy who was standing on the treadmill saw me and stuck out his hand to shake mine. It was a guy that I used to go to church with. Our conversations went something like this:
"Do you come here?" he said.
"Yeah," I replied. "I come here at all different times of day."
"I've been coming here for the past three weeks. It's all cardio. Gotta get back in shape."
"That's great. I'm so glad that you're getting in shape." (Oops! Did I just imply that I think he isn't in shape?)

Patting him on the arm, I went over to the treadmill and did my workout. As I worked I looked over at him a couple of times and thought about what I could say him when I passed him again on the way out. After my workout was over, I went back in his direction. He was watching the TV on the treadmill, so he had his earphones on. This made it a little difficult to get the subtlety into the conversation that I wanted...
"You're doing awesome!"
"You're doing awesome!"
"I usually do 45 minutes a day."
And now for my brilliant line that it took me a whole workout to cook up:
"Hopefully I'll see you around soon."
"See you around!"

And I walked off.
Sorry I stink so bad at flirting, boys. It's not that I'm not interested.

Monday, February 2, 2009

One word

There are a lot of really fun thingies like this going around right now!  This one is fun because it's like a word game as well as informational.  If you like it, give it a shot!

1. Where is your cell phone? upstairs
2. Your significant other? Denmark (ha ha!)
3. Your hair? up
4. Your mother? nice
5. Your father? working
6. Your favorite thing? friends
7. Your dream last night? unknown
8. Your favorite drink? water
9. Your dream/goal? joy
10. What room you are in? family
11. Your hobby? music
12. Your fear? static
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? family
14. Where were you last night? bed
16. Muffins? delicious
17. Wish list item? mp3s
18. Where you grew up? Holladay
19. Last thing you did? facebook
20. What are you wearing? bathrobe
21. Your TV? blah
22. Your pets? missed
23. Friends? AMAZING
24. Your life? happy
25. Your mood? good
26. Missing some one? yes
27. Car? trooper
28. Something you're not wearing? makeup
29. Your favorite store?
30. Your favorite color? blue
33. When is the last time you laughed? today
34. Last time you cried? January
35. Who will resend this? linden?
36. One place that I go to over and over? Provo
37. One person who emails me regularly? soldier
38. My favorite place to eat? Olympian
39. Why you participated in this survey? fun
40. What are you doing tonight? unknown

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Caught this little blurb on the Yahoo! Launchcast website today:

Starting February 16, 2009 LAUNCHcast will be powered by CBS Radio. We will be offering over 150 exclusive stations, but your customized station will no longer be available. We appreciate your patience during this exciting transition.

That's about it for me then. Basically 99.9% of my time spent listening to Launchcast was listening to my personalized station. I guess I won't be using Yahoo! Music services much anymore, unless I feel like watching music videos. Pandora, anyone?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Most beautiful songs

There are some popular songs that for whatever reason, strike me as just beautiful. Here is a short list of some that come to mind:
"Boys of Summer" by Don Henley
"Here Comes the Rain Again" by Eurythmics
"Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell
"Stand by Me" by Ben E. King
"Broken Wings" by Mr. Mister

Any other contributions? Leave me a comment!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I am content to wait here by the apples.
Holding a basket, I stand quietly as you select your fruit.
I'd rather be with you at the market than alone somewhere else.

I am content to wait here on the couch.
Thinking of what else I could be doing, I sit quietly as you dress in the other room.
I'd rather be with you at your apartment than alone somewhere else.

I am content to wait here by the curb.
Checking the time, I watch for you to appear at the door.
I'd rather drive you than go home alone.

I am content to wait here by the apples.
Forgive me that, once in a while, I wish you would leave the apples
And touch me instead.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I have been thinking today about what I would like to be said of me after I die. Don't worry; I am not planning on dying anytime soon. I have just been thinking about where I would like to be at the end of my life when it is time to pass into the next phase of existence. So I decided to write myself a short eulogy. I hope this doesn't seem morbid. I see it as an expression of the person I hope I can be.

She left many, many friends and loved ones behind. She was always known as someone with a discreet listening ear. She heard the problems and good news of others with empathy and compassion and kept their confidences. She lived by the adage, "Your name is safe in our home," choosing to see and reinforce the positive in others and keep the negative in its proper place. She took the example of the Lord Jesus Christ in sharing love and kindness generously with others. She was very loyal to her friends and family. Her students knew her as someone who cared more about them than about her relationship to them in the social hierarchy.

She was a very intelligent person but never gave the impression of being a know-it-all or feeling superior to others. She spoke only when she knew what she was talking about and listened well to gather the knowledge that others have to share. She was always open and listening to the promptings and ideas that can come from the Holy Ghost. She was wise with her resources and yet also very generous.

Her main motivator was not selfish desires or fear but rather charity, the pure love of Christ. She found true joy in serving others, starting with her family, and extending to her friends and all mankind. She was always known as one who would apply her knowledge and abilities to a righteous purpose. She spent time developing her talents so that they could better be of use to God's children. She always chose to do what was right, even when it seemed to be the unpopular thing to do.

That's what I have come up with so far. In some of these points, I think I do pretty well. In others I think I have something to work on. I suppose that this little eulogy is a quite personal self-revelation; it is a concise statement of some of my life goals. I would love to hear what the life goals of my readers are as well.