Month: June 2009

Cupcakes and Family

This post is kind of all over the place, but it has been such a crazy time lately.  Last week  was jam packed with everything including work responsibilities including yard work (yuck!) on the properties, check in’s and check out’s, entering payments, working on accounting, and making new reservations.  At the same time we had our family reunion at the end of the week, so my entire extended family on the Richard’s side was in town.  This was fun but also a lot of work.  Among other things, I took my nieces to the princess festival (so fun, even with the rain!),  got Anna’s 18th birthday party ready, make her a sweet present, got the slide show for the reunion set up, helped with other family activities, baked cupcakes and  a made frosting and toppings for an activity and more.  Like I said- it was a busy, busy week.

We also had a  wonderful visit from my college friend Emily Alvillar Whitman.  She made a great effort to visit us and Megan, Emily and I had such a good time.  Those that read my blog regularly might remember her from several posts.  I love all of my friends, but Emily is special.  I feel Emily was someone I was destined to meet.  We just needed each other during a difficult time, and I believe Heavenly Father knew that.  It was nice to see an old, wonderful,  friend.  It warmed my heart.  Plus, we got to see her beautiful baby Jackson.  So cute! Thanks Emily!

Finally on Saturday my body had all it could take, and I got a sinus infection.  It was like my body said “It’s time for you to rest, and I’m going to make you sick if needs be”.  Fortunately for my body I listened and rested for 2 whole days and by Tuesday I felt 95% better.  I am grateful it wasn’t one of those infections that lingers for months- like the kind I had last Fall.  Those stink!

For work it felt satisfying to see improvement on the yards (even if, to be honest, I don’t get what makes good grass different from bad grass!).  Plus, everyone who stayed at the properties was not only happy but glowing in their praise.  I know it isn’t good for the ego to get too much praise, but I needed it last week.  Havin the praise coming from the tenants made it all the more important and valuable.  After all, it is their feedback and happiness that keeps us in business!

It was a fun week even with the work-related struggles.  I loved seeing my family- particularly the extended relations that I don’t normally get to see.  Anna’s birthday  turned out great and the Princess Festival was a lot of fun.  I am fortunate to have such an awesome family that supports and loves me regardless of my marital status (or any other factor).

This is kind of random but I made a video of Anna singing and playing the ukulele.  Isn’t she amazing?

Also, here is the slideshow I made up for the reunion.  It had music when I showed it but youtube disabled it. Even so,  Enjoy!

So, here are the photos from the week.  I will include more as I get them from other family members. I couldn’t find a way to rotate photos in wordpress. If any of you know how then please fill me in!

Isabel and Lucy with Cinderella at the Princess FestivalGirls at Princess FestivalCIMG0073CIMG0064CIMG0070CIMG0062Belle and her princessesSnow White, Prince Charming and IsabelCIMG0059CIMG0067CIMG0071CIMG0072CIMG0069

Many Worlds in One

The other day I saw a fascinating NOVA program on PBS.  It is called Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives and it focuses on Hugh Everett and his son Mark. On the surface the two seem completely different but they are actually linked in an interesting way. In the end, the life of the father explains the life of the son.

In the early 60’s Hugh was a physicist for the Pentagon working as a cold war scientist.  Frustrated with the prevailing views of quantum physics (which I will not even begin to explain) he started exploring other types of particle theories.  Eventually he came up with the Many World’s Theory.  As best as I can grasp this theory looked at particles  at their own level- not at how they created larger phenomenon.  According to the NOVA program this view broke with tradition and was the beginning of Everett’s theories.  Looking at the world on such a small level he noticed energy behaving differently.  (Like I said I am way out of my element in explaining this).  Here’s how NOVA explains it:

Byrne: In order to demonstrate the consequence of this mathematically, Everett came up with a solution showing that the observer, the human being, correlates with every possible state that the gram of carbon, that pencil tip, could be in. So before the human being looks at the gram of carbon, the carbon is in all the millions or billions or trillions of possible states, and after the human looks at the gram of carbon, he or she is in one state. In Everett’s theory, what happens in between, as it were, when the human actually looks at the carbon—or a clock or any other object—is that he or she splits like an amoeba. (The act of looking, that interaction, is just exchanging energy. A person looking at a clock, for example, is an energetic interaction, with photons of light bouncing off the clock and going into the person’s eye.)

So, in Everett’s view, when the human correlates herself—that is, interacts, exchanging energy with the gram of carbon or a clock or whatever—she splits like an amoeba. She splits into copies of herself, one for each element in the superposition.

NOVA: And this split is what creates the “many worlds” of his theory?

Byrne: Yes. And wild as it sounds—a person splitting into numerous copies of herself—Hugh Everett’s theory has not been shown to be mathematically incorrect. God knows, people have tried. They have found some mathematical gaps, but you can’t fault his basic mathematical logic, which made a powerful case that every time there is an interaction anywhere in the universe above a certain size, one of the systems splits in order to accommodate all of the elements and the superpositions that are contained in the wave function that describes the observed system. In other words, the basis for having multiple universes emerges from his solution of the measurement problem.”

In other words, on a particle level atoms present possible outcomes and in a way those possibilities continue on whether the human participates or not.  Using the example above if the person looks at the pencil or not, the particle energy around the action still exists.  This is why Everett called it the Many World theory.  On a particle level there are infinite numbers of worlds created every moment which all react in different ways.

This is where the son comes in. Like I said, on the surface Mark has nothing in common with his father.  He is  a front runner for an independent rock band called the Eels.  According to the NOVA program much of Mark’s music is dark, focusing on mental illness, abuse, and death.  To give you an idea one of their most famous songs is called “Novocaine for the Soul”. Apparently much of the darkness in the music came from a lonely childhood with a father obsessed with work and science.  On the program Mark tells the story of a conversation over the dishes he had with his father just before he passed away.  Of this simple chat he says “We joked around a little and I remember thinking that it was the most human, real conversation I’d ever had with him. He even told me a joke.”

Later the next day his father dies, and he is devastated by the missed opportunities.  Eventually Mark tries to put his feelings to music and as he struggles he realizes something about his father.  He learns they had a key similarity:

“I realized that I had been feeling that same thing he must have been feeling all those years when he couldn’t be bothered because he always had some crazy ideas he was trying to sort out in his head. You’re just about to crack the code and the kid wants to play baseball. I get it now. We’re both “idea men” and anything outside of these ideas is a distraction.”

With this understanding Mark begins to learn more about the ideas of his father.  Finally it occurs to him that their lives are the ultimate example of the Many World’s theory.  Two worlds co-existing independently of each other and yet intrinsically dependent on one another.   It’s like the show’s title describes: Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives.  In the end, Mark understood his life better because of his father’s theories.  This to me is fascinating.  How often do we have answers staring at us in the face, yet we dismiss it as ordinary or familial? How often do we discount something because it is different, even offensive, and yet in that other world is the answer to our own happiness?

There are so many examples of parallel worlds, which if understood could enlighten both worlds.  Notice we aren’t talking about combining worlds.  They are inherently separate, but perhaps they could still teach us?  The NOVA program explores the worlds of father vs son, musician vs  scientist, and youth vs. age.  Religion would be another interesting subject for discussion.

Like I said, the science is a bit beyond me, so I hope I have done justice to the program.  If you get a chance, put it on your DVR or watch it on youtube.com . It kind of reminded me of a This American Life piece on television.- excellent and thought provoking. Check out the PBS website on the show for more information. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/manyworlds/.  On a final side note, this program would be great for teachers and homeschoolers who want to learn more about physics.  I know practically nothing and it explained complex concepts in ways even I understood.

The Snake Bite of Being Offended

President Brigham Young, the Mormon Prophet, once compared being offended to a poisonous snakebite. He said that “there are two courses of action to follow when one is bitten by a rattlesnake. One may, in anger, fear, or vengefulness, pursue the creature and kill it. Or he may make full haste to get the venom out of his system.” He said, “If we pursue the latter course we will likely survive, but if we attempt to follow the former, we may not be around long enough to finish it.”

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I was thinking about this advice today when I felt offended, even hurt, over a miscommunication which had occurred with a friend. I won’t get into the details but suffice it to say a mistake I had made was criticized, and I was upset over the manner of the critique.  After the initial disagreement I sat fuming and crying.  “How dare they treat me like this?” There was even a side of me that thought “Just wait until they mess up, and I will show them how it feels”.

Naturally these were initial childish reactions, and they quickly passed.  After a few minutes I was able to calm down and analyze the situation.  I realized I had several options available:

1.  I could call back in a huff and let my anger out.

2.  I could ignore the problem and let it simmer.

3. I could call and discuss my feelings and reconcile.

I chose the latter option.  I called this friend and explained (with some tears!) that I accepted the content of their suggestions but the tone offended me. I told them of my hurt feelings.  As one might expect, they felt bad and said they did not mean to come across with that tone.

In the end, we were able to communicate and our relationship is better as a result.  This experience taught me a lesson.  Usually there is a productive way to express feelings instead of being offended or allowing hurt to well up until it explodes.  Believe me, I have learned the hard way that the other options lead to more pain and more ulcers!

Most people are trying to be good, non-offensive folks.  Sometimes the words, and the manner of those words  get in the way.  Like Brigham said finding ways to not be offended saves our lives from the poison of anger and bitterness.

On a slightly different note- thank you for the positive feedback on my blog.  I was just at an enrichment activity and someone mentioned how much they enjoy reading it.  Comments like that build me up and make me feel my small efforts are valued.  Thanks.

Something Funny

As many of you know I am sick, so I thought I would post something funny to brighten mine and your spirits.  (I’m actually feeling a lot better after yesterday’s rest and am hoping to be all better by tomorrow.  We will see).  Anyway, this was something read on Car Talk a while back and I just thought it was so funny!  I hope you enjoy it.

OBAMA DEPLOYS VOWELS TO BOSNIA

Washington – (AP) OBAMA DEPLOYS VOWELS TO BOSNIA

Cities of Sjlbvdnzv, Grzny to Be First Recipients.

Before an emergency joint session of Congress yesterday, President Obama announced US plans to deploy over 75,000 vowels to the war-torn region of Bosnia. The deployment, the largest of its kind in American history, will provide the region with the critically needed letters A,E,I,O and U, and is hoped to render countless Bosnian names more pronounceable.

“For six years, we have stood by while names like Ygrjvslhv and Tzlynhr and Glrm have been horribly butchered by millions around the world,” Obama said. “Today, the United States must finally stand up and say `Enough.’ It is time the people of Bosnia finally had some vowels in their incomprehensible words. The US is proud to lead the crusade in this noble endeavour.”

The deployment, dubbed Operation Vowel Movement by the State Department, is set for early next week, with the Adriatic port cities of Sjlbvdnzv and Grzny slated to be the first recipients. Two C-130 transport planes, each carrying over 500 24-count boxes of “E’s,” will fly from Andrews Air Force Base across the Atlantic and airdrop the letters over the cities.

Citizens of Grzny and Sjlbvdnzv eagerly await the arrival of the vowels.

“I do not think we can last another day,” Trszg Grzdnjkln, 44, said. “I have six children and none of them has a name that is understandable to me or to anyone else. Mr. Obama, please send my poor, wretched family just one ‘E’ Please.”

Said Sjlbvdnzv resident Grg Hmphrs, 67: “With just a few key letters, I could be George Humphries. This is my dream.”

The airdrop represents the largest deployment of any letter to a foreign country since 1984. During the summer of that year, the US shipped 92,000 consonants to Ethiopia, providing cities like Ouaouoaua, Eaoiiuae, and Aao with vital, life-giving supplies of L’s, S’s and T’s.

Thoroughly Uncool

aliceteapartysmall

I like to think of myself as a fun person- as a social person that people enjoy being around and for the most part I am. However, as I get older it seems to get harder to make friends and form groups?  Does anyone else find this to be the case? I don’t know if it is because I have such great friends and do not feel the need to make new ones or if other people are too busy, or perhaps I’m not as agreeable as I used to be? It’s funny because I think my skills as a host have only improved as I’ve gotten older- and yet there seems to be less to host!

What brought all of these thoughts up is I have been trying to organize small groups for our church ladies organization called Enrichment.  These groups are supposed to focus on a variety of topics and help all the women in the congregation feel included.  In past wards I have had success in gathering girls for book clubs, cooking groups, and movie nights, but not in this ward.  It is like pulling teeth to get anyone to come to anything.  Yesterday we had book club and I picked a Jane Austen- Persuasion (so good!)- and I am embarrassed to say nobody came except for my roommate.  A bunch of people had said they could come on Sunday but then nobody showed.   Only 2 called with excuses (one had a flooded basement and another had a bad flu).  On a side note- whatever happened to the notion of RSVP’ing.  I grew up in Maryland where a little of that Southern hospitality creeped into the culture.  If you said you were going to be somewhere, you better be in a hospital if you don’t show up.  At least a call explaining why you can’t come should be common courtesy.

Don’t worry- I wasn’t devastated or anything merely disappointed that I couldn’t talk about the book and that my pretty tea party went unappreciated. Boo hoo!  Thankfully Megan had read the book for her book club last month and so I called and we had a good discussion.  Plus, my cute nieces and sisters are coming into town so we will have a tea party together! (In fact, on Saturday we are going to the Princess Festival in Lindon- how fun will that be!).  The whole family is arriving tomorrow, and I can’t wait.  It has only been a couple months since I saw them but it feels longer.  Baby Nelle is crawling and pulling herself up already! Wow!

I am not intending this posting to engender pity- I have great friends, and I have a full life.  I am merely puzzled by my recent inability to attract new friends.  It isn’t just with Enrichment but the few times I have had parties the turnout is low.  I used to be able to always attract a crowd. Weird, hah? I’ve even offered to have a party up at the rental homes with a hot tub and pool table, but nobody has taken me up on it.  What do you all think?  Is there an age where movie nights and game parties are passe?

This is a funny entry on SWPL that applies to the need to host dinner parties.  Enjoy!

Though many would have you believe that white people come of age at Summer Camp, it’s simply not the truth. Immediately following graduation but prior to renovating a house, white people take their first step from childhood to maturity by hosting a successful dinner party.

It is imperative that white people know how to host a good dinner party as they will be expected to do it well into retirement.

At the most basic level, these simple gatherings involve 3-6 couples getting together at a single house or apartment, having dinner and talking for 5-6 hours. Though it might seem basic these events are some of the most stressful situations in all of white culture.

Hosts are expected to deliver a magical evening. The food must be home made with fresh, organic ingredients, the music must be just right (ambient, new, but not too loud), and the decorations inside the house should be subtle but elegant. The ultimate goal is to do a better job than the couple at the last dinner party while attempting to make everyone jealous and sort of dislike you.

The dinner party is the opportunity for white people to be judged on their taste in food, wine, furniture, art, interior design, music, and books. Outside of dictatorships and a few murder trials, there might not be a more rigorous judgment process in the modern world. Everything must be perfect. One copy of US Weekly, a McDonalds wrapper, a book by John Grisham, a Third Eye Blind CD, or an Old School DVD can undo months and maybe even years of work.

Even before guests arrive the pressure on the host is immense and it does not let up once people begin to arrive. While eating, drinking, and conversation are expected to fill up 5-6 hours, sometimes it’s just not enough. In order to fill the silence, white people will often turn to board games (Cranium!) or Wii Bowling. This lets everyone have fun together without having to really talk to each other, which is usually more fun anyways.

It is strongly encouraged to bring a gift to these dinner parties, usually either wine or some kind of dessert. If you are able to bring a particularly rare dish from your culture, you will be the star of the party. To seal the deal, be sure to explain as much as you possibly can about the dish: history, availability, and the proper way to eat it. Every white person at the party will be taking mental notes and will be in your debt for introducing them to something new and authentic. If a white person says they have eaten the dish before, it is best to respond by saying “you ate a watered down version. They don’t even sell this to white people, it’s that intense. Even I had to show ID.”

The entire party will universally acknowledge you as the top guests, even the hosts will appreciate you for bringing diversity to the table in both food and person form.

Hawaii video blog

These are my video diary entries from my trip.  I hope you enjoy them.  I might do this everytime I travel now that I have a new camera.  I was thinking of calling it the Big Girl Travel Blog? What do you think?  I have been looking for away  to make money while traveling- an internet travel website could be just the thing!!I’m kidding- kind of!