Sunday, August 30, 2009

Music and the Blogged Word-August 30th Edition

We welcome you to a new weekly feature of our blog entitled "Music and the Blogged Word". Music for this blog post is provided by a Primary choir from the Kaysville Utah and Fruit Heights Utah Stakes from October 2008 General Conference.

Last week, Holly and I were able to attend the broadcast of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple Dedication at our stake center here in Provo. It was a very special experience for us, just as the Draper Temple Dedication broadcast was. This one, though, took place after our sealing, giving it added significance.

For those outside of Utah who may be unaware, all regular church services throughout Utah were cancelled so that members could be free to attend a broadcast of the temple dedication at either 9 AM or 3 PM. The significance of the temple that President Monson yearns for us to understand was clearly expressed by this unprecedented act.

Today, back at our regular services, there was more buzz about the events of the previous Sunday. Our lesson in Sunday School revolved around the beginnings of the Nauvoo Temple and the work that was to be done therein. One particular passage that stood out to me was Doctrine and Covenants 124:40-41.

40 And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people;

41 For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times.

The word "deign" means "to condescend in order to give or offer". In other words, the Lord knows that these things are so sacred and so special to Him, but He has such a desire for them to be made known unto us, that we may partake of these ordinances for ourselves and our dead.

With Holly's health complications, our once-regular temple habit has had some setbacks, but these last two weeks (plus a new perscription for Holly) have re-kindled that desire in us, so we hope to go more often in the future. We hope you readers do, as well.
Again we leave you from within the shadows of the everlasting bookshelves...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bookstore Ravings and Holly's Cravings

Today is my last free Wednesday for a long, long while. That realization came even stronger for me after going to the BYU Bookstore for my textbooks.
The Bookstore recently re-shelved all the textbooks by the name of the author rather than organizing it by subject. At first, I thought it might be a challenge, but it actually was a breeze. I was in and out in about 10 minutes or less with all of my books in tow.
The Final Tally: 7 Books, $362.95. Average cost per book: $51.85.
As gnarly as that figure is, it could have been a lot worse. I only had to buy two books and a packet brand-new, all the rest were used. When the BYU Bookstore website didn't list used prices on most of the books, I was a bit leery, but it all turned out well in the end.
Every pregnant woman has cravings. It's a fact of life. You never really know what you crave until it whacks you upside the head and you just can't get through the day without it.
Holly has found her craving: McDonald's lovingly titled Chicken McNuggets.

Now, you may be reading this and saying to yourself, "Self, aren't all chicken nuggets the same? Can't you just go buy a big ol' bag of frozen nuggets and heat those up every now and again?" Let me assure you, Self, that in Holly's case, there is no substitute for the McGoodness.

Since Holly's tummy is still up and down, we usually play it safe and just get her a 4-piece Happy Meal. She's hot and cold when it comes to the fries, but when she's hot for them, she is downright smokin'. We've also tried the Wendy's Nuggets, but they just aren't the same. The fried crispiness of the McNuggets overpowers the breadedness of Wendy's.

The other deciding factor is the BBQ sauce. At Wendy's the sauce is more tangy and thick whereas the McDonald's sauce is sweeter and runnier, which Holly seems to prefer.

Just as long as it makes her happy and she can keep it down, I say she can have all the McNuggets she wants.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

In Memoriam-Summer Reading Edition

For those of you who may not be aware, I lead a double-blog life. In addition to this blog, I write up a sports blog every so often. In my latest post, I chronicled the sports books I read over the summer.

Sad to say, however, that there were some books that I started that I didn't finish. There are lots of reasons why books start being read but aren't completed. Sometimes, life gets in the way. Other times, the book is damaged or lost.

In these cases, I just couldn't stand them anymore.
Here, in this post, I present my obituaries for the three books that just couldn't satisfy me this summer. (Cue sad piano/violin music...)

1. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

It was $5 or $6 in mass-market paperback at Target, and I figured I might as well read up on the new leader of the free world. Little did I know that it would bore me so quickly. I get really excited when elections happen, but I don't much care for politics beyond that. As such, trying to get through a book full of nothing but political talking points was something I never should have bothered to attempt.

2. Leadership by Rudy Giuliani

I've had this book for a long time, and had only gotten through the first chapter, mostly describing the events of September 11th. I was going to apply for a training coordinator position at the MTC at the end of July, which would mean I would be over about 20 teachers if chosen. I decided to get through this book to see if I could glean anything from it to get me ready.

The start of the book was interesting as Rudy laid out principles he applied to his meetings and to his crackdown on crime, but I suddenly found myself slogging through it. One day, I just stopped mid-chapter (a rarity for me) and decided that even if I did get the position, I could find more succinct ways to enhance my leadership skills. It didn't matter in the end, because someone else got the job.

3. Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits by David Ortiz with Tony Massarotti

I started this Dollar Tree purchase about the same time the revelation first came out about Ortiz's name on a list of PED users in 2004. That wasn't what soured me on reading Papi's bio; it was the very choppy story telling of the Dominican Daddy. Every fourth word was "bro". Honest to goodness. Maybe the audio book would have been a more fitting medium.

I remember my Mom reading Wayne Gretzky's autobiography to me when I was young and complaining about how hard it was to read. Not from a "I'm not into sports" standpoint, just a "Yeesh, this is poorly written with no fluency" standpoint. (The co-author on that, by the way? Rick Reilly. Mwa ha ha...) I now have a greater appreciation for Mom getting through Gretzky: An Autobiography even though she couldn't stand it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Matinee Wednesday: "Julie and Julia"

Wednesday mornings and early afternoons are some of the best times of the week: Holly and I are both home and want to get stuff done. Most of this is serious stuff like doctor visits or grocery shopping.

Sometimes, though, we just catch a nice $5.25 matinee at the University Mall Cinemark.

Today, we took in the 11:55 showing of "Julie and Julia" starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep as the title characters. Both seem very natural and believable (dare I say organic...haha) in their roles, though Holly grew kind of tired with some of Julia/Meryl's over-the-top mannerisms. But then again, that's just who she/they are. Holly and I both enjoyed the genuine laugh-out-loud moments that season the storyline. (Puns clearly intended.)

To be perfectly honest, the other stars in the film are the dishes that the two ladies concoct as the story weaves between their lives. For food lovers like Holly and I, it was great to see the food play just as big a role as the actors themselves. After all, that was the basis of the blog/book/movie in the first place: cooking up the hundreds of recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Not that Holly and I would particularly eat every single one, but they all at least look appetizing on screen. (Well, almost. Holly's tummy is still a bit sensitive, so she had to look away at some points.)

The only potentially questionable content is a smattering of coarse language, mostly in the second half of the film, including a random f-bomb from Julia's husband. (I mean, really random. Totally out of left field and not really necessary, I think. Kind of like peppers and onions in a Philly cheesesteak.)

Given the heavier fare that has been dominating most of the summer, this is a refreshingly tasty sweet treat.

I swear the food puns are done. Promise.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back To School, Back to School to Prove to Holly that I'm Not a Fool

I am T-minus two weeks away from being knee-deep in BYU-ness once again. This will be my first semester as a married man, so it will be very interesting to see how I adjust to a 14 credit hours, 20 work hours, and a pregnant wife.

Yeesh! That's what's on my plate? Hoo, boy... At least I don't have to start on Thursday like my sister, Ashley. (Neener, neener, Stomper!)

Here's the classes I'll be delving into, beginning August 31st:

COMMS 300-Media Ethics, Law and Responsibilities
Professor: Derek Brown
Time: Wednesday, 4-6:30 PM

I get to learn about the things I can and can't do as a journalist! I experimented with a once-a-week class last Fall, and it worked out better than I thought. It is a long time to sit and take things in, but it IS nice to know that once that time is up, you don't have to go back for a week. This will be the end of a very LONG day on campus: I start at 9:30 AM on Wednesday and end with this class at 6:30 with a one-hour break between 1 and 2.

COMMS 308-Research Methods for Journalism
Professor: Joel Campbell
Time: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 2-3 PM

Let's see...Google, Wikipedia, what else do I need? Oh, right...

COMMS 321-News Reporting
Professor: Ed Carter
Time: Lecture=Monday and Wednesday, 2-3 PM. Lab/Writing=3-4 PM Daily

Professor Carter is the one who called to tell me my application was not a lost cause. He is the reason I am in this major. Anyway, this will be my opportunity to write for The Daily Universe!

COMMS 351-Media and Their Audiences
Professor: Jared Johnson
Time: Monday and Wednesday, 9:30-10:45 AM

I hear (according to that part of this class consists of watching episodes of Gilligan's Island and The Office. Ka-ching!

REL C 234-LDS Marriage and Family
Professor: John Livingstone
Time: Monday and Wednesday, 12-1 PM

Let's see...I'm LDS, I'm married, and I am in the process of starting a family. This class is right up my alley!

That wraps it up! I am sure many posts will revolve around these classes, so you will surely be updated as the semester rolls on.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Holly's Medical Mystery Tour

The last few days have been quite the challenge for us, especially Holly. Before we get into the details, we wish to thank all those who have expressed their love and concern thus far. It is helpful to know that there are lots of people there watching out for us. If anyone would like to help us in any way, please do not hesitate to give Holly or I a call. We welcome any assistance you are willing to provide.

For those of you unfamiliar with the events of the last few days, here's the lowdown:

It all started Friday morning when Holly went to the Provo InstaCare to see if she had a UTI. It was determined that she probably did, so she was given the necessary treatments. I got home from my first shift at about 12:30 and she was fantastic! The best she'd felt in a while. I left for my next shift at 2:30 without a care in the world.

Until, that is, I got home at 6:00.

When I walked in the door, Holly was on the couch, looking the most miserable she had been since the time she went to the ER in April for a kidney infection. All the same symptoms were showing up: fever, chills, numbness in the legs, you name it. A new, scary symptom also emerged: lower right abdomen pain.

We rushed back to the InstaCare, wondering if it may have been an allergic reaction to the meds. After some poking, prodding and twisting, we were shuttled to the ER. My parents made the trek down from Alpine as Holly was wheeled into a room and hooked up to an IV and waited.

And waited...and waited...and waited.

Blood and urine tests were taken. The initial diagnosis of appendicitis was made, but at least one more test was needed to be sure. The doctors preferred a CT scan, but Holly's pregnancy made that an undesirable option: the radiation has significant risk for the baby. The doctors settled for an ultrasound, but noted that finding an appendix in that way was more difficult due to the air-filled intestines nearby. If the ultrasound was insufficient, the CT scan was mandatory.

As I followed nervously, Holly was carted to the ultrasound room. I sat and watched as the tech silently interpreted what he saw, occasionally conversing with the radiologist. As the apparatus inched towards her lower right quadrant, Holly grimaced in pain. Somehow, the tech saw something which looked like the appendix and phoned the radiologist.

No CT scan necessary. They found it.

Relieved, we made our way back to our initial room and played Waiting Game 2.0. This time, we were told we were waiting for the surgeon.

Wait, what? Surgeon? Sure enough, it was certain that Holly was going under the knife that night. There was a risk to the baby, but it was quite low. The question of when would be answered as soon as a surgery already in progress was finished. Finally, sometime around 11:00 PM or so, Holly was carted off into the O.R. as my parents and I waited some more.

About an hour and a half later Dr. Hill, the surgeon, informed us that the appendix had been removed without incident; the pregnancy was fine, and Holly was about to be transferred to a room on the 6th floor.

Finally, about 1 AM, Holly settled into room E661 and made it through the night.

She was discharged at about 3:30 PM Saturday afternoon and spent the weekend recuperating at my parents' home in Alpine. She could have gone back to work Monday, but elected to wait one more day. Last night, I brought Holly home.

Little did we know we weren't done yet.

Many of the same symptoms returned as Holly lay in bed. We took her fever throughout the night as we made calls to the pharmacy, the on-call physician, and the rest. When things didn't significantly improve when morning came, we were invited to go to Dr. Hill's office.

In Payson.

As such, Holly and I made our first ever sojourn to Payson at about 9:30 or so this morning. There was speculation a blood clot may have formed, but Dr. Hill was skeptical. Still, he recommended we return to the ER in Provo and have more tests run, which we did.

After more urine and blood removal and yet another ultrasound, an ovarian cyst was found. This is fairly common during pregnancy, but this particular cyst may have been leaking, which would surely cause pain. We aren't entirely sure, but that's the story we're sticking to so far. We've been given the meds we need to combat things for now.

We are now back in our apartment, which my parents graciously cleaned for us. Again, we know there are so many people who are pulling for us in many ways, and we sincerely appreciate it.

Despite all of this, there is a silver lining: we have now heard the heartbeat of our baby twice, thanks to the ultrasounds. Although it did not occur in exactly the way we would have imagined, we are so thrilled to know that little Austin/Lily is still growing and progressing.

Graciously, it is a miracle within the madness.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dollar Store Book Review: "Desperate Networks"

If you are a regular reader of this blog (big ups to you), then you will recall the post where I listed all of the books I had bought from Dollar Tree. I haven't read through all of them yet, but I have read enough to start a semi-regular feature on the blog: Dollar Store Book Review.

I am providing this service so that you, faithful reader, can decide for yourself if that dollar burning a hole in your wallet or purse is best put to use with a good read rather than, say, a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy's. Mmm...Wendy's.

(Wait a sec, if you read these books, you won't read the blog as often! Meh...)

This week, we tackle a more recent Dollar Tree purchase: Desperate Networks by Bill Carter, entertainment reporter for The New York Times. It was written in 2006.

Carter essentially recaps the last decade or so of television history, focusing on the life cycles of such shows as Survivor, Desperate Housewives, Lost, American Idol, CSI, and more. He goes into excruciating detail about how each of these shows were rejected by other networks before finally landing at the current homes. Imagine watching Survivor on ABC or Desperate Housewives on NBC. According to Carter's inside info, both those scenarios almost happened.

Like any good TV show,, there is an element of tragedy. In this case, it is the staggering fall of NBC from first place to last over the course of one season. The blame seems to be heaped upon the network for putting too much of their efforts (and money) into extending Friends rather than developing new, quality comedies. The book ends as two then-brand new comedies seek to bring NBC to relevancy: My Name is Earl and The Office.

For someone like me who has experience in the TV industry, it was a captivating read. If you are a TV junkie (and can withstand some colorful language), then you will enjoy Desperate Networks.