Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Evaluative Conclusion

Wow, it has been a long semester! I feel like I have come a long way in my writing ability! I think that this blog was a great writing assignment, because it was a type of writing style that required a lot of voice and personality (not to mention prayer) to get done. One thing that I noticed was really similar about all of my posts was the date published. They were mostly done yesterday or today. Haha, but really. I think I talk about food a lot. Maybe it's just me, but I guess I'm thinking about that a lot. I think my first post was the best. Maybe because I was the least stressed during that one? That, or I've just become a worse writer by being in English. I think that I had trouble coming up with inspiration for a lot of these topics. I think my goal for a lot of them was to rant about something, but I have trouble coming up with things to rant about. I usually backed up to things that I had learned about.

My biggest lesson from this has to be about procrastination. I definitely should've been working on this a lot more as I went along, but I didn't always think I had the time, or the motivation to get anything done, but now it is about time for it to be due, and I definitely don't have the time now. So I think I'm going to use this experience to stay ahead of my work a little better. I hope you enjoy my blog! I put a lot of effort into this, even if it does seem rushed. I enjoyed it a lot, and I'm planning on keeping it up even though I don't have to anymore. Thanks for being such a great teacher!

Running out of Ideas...

Okay, second to last post. Which means this is my last free post. I need to make this quick, because it is due in an hour. So I think I'm going to talk about Golden Sun. Golden Sun is a video game that I really like that I can talk about for quite a while. So it will make an easy blog topic, right? Anyway, Golden Sun is an role playing game for the game boy advance. It is all about a magic power called Alchemy, and summonable Djinn. Your main character has a magic power called Psyenergy, and he is expected to use it to protect the 4 stars in the Sol Sanctum, but some people come and steal the stars, and intend on lighting the 4 elemental lighthouses with them. It is your job to prevent them from getting to the lighthouses. Along the way, you make friends, and collect more Djinn that make you powerful. I really like this game because it has a really good plot, and awesome gameplay, not to mention captivating music, and impressive visual graphics for the time of its release. The worst part of this game is the fact that it ends on a cliff hanger, so you had better have the second game ready to play if you plan on playing this game. And if you wait too long to play the second game, you will forget a lot of important things about the plot. And I just really like this game. I'm going to play through it again after I make it through finals. So with that, I'm going to tie off this post, and send out my final evaluative conclusion. Good work Daniel :)

Ho Ho Ho!

Last Sunday, in sacrament meeting, someone in my ward bore his testimony on the secular side of Christmas. This was really interesting to me, because everything you hear over the pulpit is always, "Think about Christ this Christmas season." However, this guy expressed how this is a time when we promote a lot of unification and other values that we don't alway exercise the rest of the year. A time when Grinches get larger hearts, and when Scrooges have their eyes opened. And I guess that that part of Christmas is probably really important too. I'm going to go home and be with my family again, and spend some time with them. That probably wouldn't really happen until summer if it weren't for Christmas. I'm really happy to spend family time, and to take a break from studies. I'm also reminded of a story during World War II, when trench warfare was stopped for a day during Christmas, when Axis and Allied powers got together to share stories, and carols, and trade goods. Even though they were there to kill each other, Christmas brought them together for at least that one day. The spirit of Christmas is a really good thing. Even the secular side that is often scoffed by religion. I think we could all use this season to become better people, and love each other a little more. Drink your fill of eggnog, and play in the snow (if you must . . . ), but don't use that as an excuse to forget Christ. Just keep that in mind this Christmas season.

Enduring to the End

Is anyone else sick of work? Maybe I'm just being a whiner, but I feel like I've been working non-stop for several weeks now. And I have not been eating or sleeping healthily lately. At all. Personally, I blame C S 142. I feel like that class gives out way too much work. On top of that, I got homework over Thanksgiving that I didn't do, and I missed a couple assignments in some other classes that I'm doing my best to finish before the semester is up. I'm worried about my finals, but I don't have time to study for them quite yet. I was considering pulling an all-nighter, and getting most of my work done, but, I got a flashback of my last all-nighter, and it wasn't worth it. So I traded six hours of miserable time that I would've spent doing half an hour's worth of homework, sleeping instead. And now I'm starting to feel guilty about it, because I have a lot of stuff due today that is not yet done. But no worries. It's almost Christmastime, and I feel like I've done all that I can for this semester, and as I explained in another blog post, I feel better prepared for next semester. I am so excited to go home! I will be done with my finals on Tuesday, but my ride home doesn't leave until probably Saturday, so I have a while in Provo yet to just relax, and recoup while there isn't really any work that I could do, even if I wanted to :)

I would just like to take some space here to thank all of the people who helped me get through my semester, namely Pandora, Corn Dog Wednesday (and all involved), and my professors too, I guess (but I'm not so sure they count, seeing as they caused the problem in the first place...) And I would just like to say that it has been a great semester! Here's to a better one in Winter!

Facebook is Watching

Facebook is really smart. Not only does it know all the things you tell it (Which is often quite a bit more than you should), but it also seems to know what websites you've been to, and other random information like that. Because it does. Sometimes this seems rather creepy (Okay, it is), but it can be really convenient sometimes. And sometimes it isn't so convenient.
One feature in Facebook is personalized ads. Facebook will advertise to you based on which websites you look up on the computer. Your web browser will download a "cookie" (you know, like the ones the dark side has?), which will help your computer perform faster on that website. Facebook can then use that cookie to recognize that you have been to that website (where else would you get that cookie?), and then presume that you are interested in the things on that website, and then give you advertisements for similar websites. This is usually fine and dandy, but I have recently started getting ads in Korean and Japanese (but not Chinese, for some reason) in excess, and I cannot figure out where I've been that would give me these obscure ads that I can't read.
Another feature of Facebook that I discovered just this morning, is that it will recognize a changed password. It turns out that an old password won't get you into your account no matter how many times you try it. And Facebook will tell you that you are trying an old password. And when you changed your password. At first, I thought that Facebook was just sassing me: "You changed your password at 9:38 last night. Duh." But then I realized that that was a really cool feature. If someone else got onto your account and changed the password without you knowing, you could see that there was a new password, and you weren't just having a typing error.
Probably my favorite feature about Facebook is creeping. You don't need to know a person to know everything about them! Although, depending on security features, a mutual friend helps. Seriously though, I have looked up so many people that I have never met before by using Facebook, and it's a little bit creepy. But oh so useful. Your roommate has a new girlfriend? Facebook stalk. You conveniently saw the name on the top of the paper of that cute girl in your biology class? Facebook stalk. Everyone does it, so of course it is socially acceptable! Right? ....Right?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Corn Dog Wednesday

During the semester, my roommate and another guy and I started a tradition called Corn Dog Wednesday. It is a weekly event that we hold (usually on Wednesday) where we make corn dogs from scratch. As in we mix up batter, and put it on the hot dog, and fry them ourselves. We don't actually kill the animal or any of that. But we have developed some mad skills for creating corn dogs. And it's actually pretty fun, so I'm going to make a link to the recipe I use. I take out the pepper, and add a bunch (to taste) of honey, but other than that, I just follow the recipe. There are a lot of intricacies to the process, but after a couple of tries, it get's pretty easy, and the corn dogs are pretty good. We have even been investing in various types of sauces to better enjoy our corn dog experience. We recently got some J Dawgs special sauce, and some Famous Dave's sweet and zesty barbecue sauce.
Corn Dog Wednesday has because a highlight of my week. There's nothing really special about our corn dogs, and it's really more work than it's worth to make them from scratch, but it's an awesome excuse to put down work for a while and just relax. I get to catch up with my friends and actually feed myself, which is nice in the middle of the week. Those are luxuries I usually reserve for my weekends. The downside to Corn Dog Wednesday is that I don't usually work any more during the day that we have it. The upside is that I'm usually refreshed and ready to get more work done for the rest of the week. I am particularly excited for Corn Dog Wednesday this week, because I have been so stressed with deadlines and finals lately.
Moral of the story? Corn dogs are beautiful things, if only for the fact that they let me take a well earned break from work once a week. I'm fairly certain that everyone needs a Corn Dog Wednesday in their life, whether it's a knitting club, or reading a book. Making time for yourself is just as important as making time for your studies.

Fun With Technology

The other day, all of the printers on campus were down, so I asked my friend if I could borrow his printer. He agreed. So I went over to his place, and plugged in the printer into my USB port. The printer said that it needed to download some software (Okay, so it didn't really say that. A box popped up on my computer screen.). They were drivers. Of course it needs to install software. I told it to download them. The estimated remaining time started at three hours. Then it went to four hours. Then five hours. Then 28 minutes. And from there, it bounced around everything from 2 minutes to an hour for the next 5 minutes. After which it became apparently stable on 8 minutes. At that point, I turned to my friend.
"Do you think we've earned ourselves 15 minutes of Tetris before we go back to work?"
"I want to say no, but I really want to!"
And thus we played Tetris for 15 minutes. The most glorious 15 minutes that have occurred in my life since Thanksgiving. I won, of course. We returned to the printer, and saw the estimated remaining time sitting at 14 minutes. After another 5 minutes or so, it was done. I saw the download box disappear, and went to add the printer to my computer. When I did that, it asked me if I wanted to download the software for that printer. Didn't I just do that? Apparently not.
"You know, we've been stupid," said my friend. "Just email it to yourself, and we'll print it off with my computer." I had already emailed it to myself, so I just plugged the printer into my friend's computer, and downloaded the paper. And then I went back to my computer to change the file format, so I could open it on his computer. After that, I tried printing off the paper. And halfway through the paper, my friend's computer ran out of paper. So we had to get his power cord, and plug it in, and restart the computer, and then re-download the paper, and then print off the two pages that didn't come out.
That was by far the most work that I have ever been through to print a single paper.

Hell is Cold

Provo woke up this morning to a wintery surprise. And not the good kind, in my opinion. I didn't even see the fresh white blanket until I left my apartment. I hadn't planned on walking through it that morning, which made me pretty grumpy (I seem to feel that way a lot lately...). Back at home, my mom is very particular about the language we use around the house. And one of the words she doesn't like to hear from us is the 4-letter "S" word. She tends to get downright nasty toward my siblings and I when we say the word "snow." She doesn't like it, you see. It is a vile thing. You have to shovel it, and avoid slipping in it, and it makes everyone drive like they're in bumper cars. Also, the snow sunburns your eyes, and makes everything wet. Especially when it all melts off in the spring.
Something that everyone says around here is, "If it's going to be cold, it might as well snow." Why? I would much rather suffer as little as possible. If it's going to be cold, we might as well have some sun to make it a little less miserable.
As a disclaimer, I did grow up in Southern California, where we never got snow at all. The weather was beautiful every year during Christmas. And I loved it, but I really didn't appreciate it before I moved to Rexburg. Christmas in California is a beautiful thing, and you can go to the beach if you want, or play in the green grass. You really can't blame me for not liking the snow at all...

Making it in the Big World

There are a lot of things that have intimidated me about college that I never should've been intimidated by. I think I've learned this semester that I should use the resources around campus, and not be so scared of them. One thing in my CS classes that I've learned to use more resourcefully, are the TAs. I guess the TAs intimidated me because they were so much older than I was, and I liked doing my work alone, when possible, so I never talked to them. I think I would've been much better off during the semester if I had taken advantage of their help. I think that, next semester, I am going to do a much better job of getting to know the TAs, and using their help when I need it.
I also don't think I spent enough time with my professors. I think in high school, teachers were overwhelmed by students wanting so much individual attention, so I learned to mainly take care of myself. I learned in college, though, that most of them are willing to help out if you let them know what's going on. But the teachers can't help you if you don't talk to them. I think that, next semester, I am going to do a better job of contacting professors in classes I need help in.
The last thing I think that I should work on using the resources of are the buildings on campus, particularly the library. I was afraid of going anywhere in the library at first, because I wasn't sure where I was allowed. Which seems ridiculous to me now, because I am paying tuition/tithing to use everything here. I have started to study in different areas of the library, just to see what I should be using in the building. I have also found that there are computer labs in the Talmage building, specifically set aside for one of my classes, and it is a really nice place to work. Much better for focusing than at the apartment.
Basically, I think that this semester was a huge adjustment period for me. I feel much more prepared to continue in college now that I have learned so much about my surroundings. I'm sure that my classes next semester will be harder than the ones I have now, but with better preparation, I am hopeful that I will be able to handle them better than I handled my classes this semester.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Spirit of Elijah

Last Saturday, whilst going to and fro on campus, and from walking up and down in it, I found inspiration in the form of a quote by N. Eldon Tanner. I didn't have any paper on me, so I wrote it on my arm. The quote was this: "Service is the rent we pay for living in this world of ours." I thought about this quite a bit, because since I've been at college, I haven't been that into service. Sure, I sit at my computer to index for family history every once in a while, but besides that, everything is about me. I need to do my homework, I need to feed myself, etc. This has been a huge change since my last year in high school. I had 2 callings in church, and I volunteered in different organizations. But it just doesn't seem like I have time anymore to take care of anyone else's needs along with my own. Well, last night was FHE. I wasn't going to go, because of all the homework I had (still have . . . ), but we were doing a ward FHE, where we all came together to do indexing together. And there was free pizza. That might've influenced my decision a little, considering I hadn't eaten anything that day except for a bowl of cereal at 8:00 that morning. When I went, I saw that they had a paper up of the top indexers in our ward, and I was sixth place. Which surprised me, considering I didn't think I had actually done that much of it. But apparently, everyone else had done less. It felt kinda good to be doing service though. I was glad I went. I ate an entire pizza while I was there, which was nice too. I think next semester, I'm going to do more service. I can definitely apply myself to do more in that category, especially toward the beginning of the semester, I think. And honestly, I think indexing is a really cool thing. I definitely feel the spirit of Elijah when I'm going through name, groaning at how young the girls got married, trying to figure out what occupation they had, and trying to make out the old fashioned hand writing. As hard as it is, I really feel connected with my ancestors when I do it. And I recommend it to everyone else.

A Sunday School Misadventure

Today in Sunday school, someone that I didn't really know sat next to me. This made me kinda grumpy. I don't like having to deal with people that I don't really know. I really knew I was in trouble when she addressed me by name. This put me in an awkward situation, because I didn't know hers. As long as I responded casually, and pseudo-enthusiastically though, there was no need to know it. Initiate small talk.
Unfortunately, priesthood lets out 10 minutes before Sunday school starts. It takes me 15 steps to get to my seat in priesthood to my seat in sunday school, and the only excuse for me to delay getting there is a trip to the drinking fountain, which is nullified on fast Sunday. I usually sit next to my roommates to avoid awkward contact like this. And by "awkward contact," I mean sitting next to people who smile too much. Because that just isn't natural.
First item of conversation: ward choir. She was the pianist for ward choir, and I was one of about 4 boys who regularly attends ward choir. Which is the only reason we even recognize each other. Quite honestly, I didn't expect her to talk to me at all, because she seemed so quiet in choir. Probably because she is always taking orders, and is never singing. We make short work of the common ground between us. Once we talk about the piece we're working on right now, and the Christmas program next week, we've about covered the entire spectrum of possible conversation related to choir. I strategically end the topic in a way that puts her in a position to either end the conversation, or come up with a new topic. Unfortunately, she chose the latter.
That day in choir had not been the best. It had started snowing in the middle of practice. Everyone else was happy, because it complimented the Christmas songs we were singing so well. But not me. The snow is cold, and dangerous. Almost like Ke$ha. Luckily, I got to leave choir early on account of an appointment with the bishop. As fun as it is to sing, ward choir isn't quite a party. So I made my escape.
"So, have you done anything special, or fun, or exciting, or anything like that recently?" What? What kind of question is that? Are you going to the same school as me? Because I've been working for every waking hour for the last couple of weeks. "Haha, no, not really. I've just been preparing for finals. How about you?" I put on an amiable fa├žade. No point in burning bridges. But wasn't it time to begin class yet? The clock started making a weird cracking noise, giving me an excuse to look at it. I knew by now that that was a fairly normal sound from the clock, but I turned my head anyway. Three more minutes. Three long minutes. And then I was saved by the person on the other side of my assaulter. She asked her a question, and I was free to return to my introversive tendencies.

Okay, for the record, I'm really counting on the person about whom this is never finding this, because she really was conversational, and nice. I was just in a grumpy mood today.

Friday, December 2, 2011

10 Things I Hate About Blogging

1. Coming up with topics: I'm pretty sure I have a hundred things I want to talk about when I'm in the shower/late for class/watching a concert, but when I sit down at my computer to blog, I can't come up with anything worth writing about.
2. Reading other people's blogs: Usually, this is because I have a lot of fun reading other blogs, and seeing what insight people have on certain topics. Blogs are a harder target than Facebook to blame a lack of work on, especially since I need to do some stuff on it for actual homework.
3. Reading other people's blogs: Okay, let's face it. We don't all have perfect grammar. Which is something I'm pretty OCD about. People don't draft blogs and go through several times checking to make sure that things make sense. So it bugs me when I read a post that has terrible grammar, logic, etc. Not that I'm perfect myself, but I obviously expect everyone else to be ;)
4. Formatting: What is wrong with a solid white background, with solid black text? And while we're at it, can we make it Courier, and 10 point font? In my opinion, that is how most of the best information on the web comes. But instead, blogs need to be "cute."
5. The fact that I haven't been doing it: I need to have 20 blog posts in by Tuesday. For my English class. Which means I will be writing a lot this weekend. And I am really beginning to wish that I had been doing it earlier in the semester. But that's okay. I like blogging. So this is good.
6. It isn't hand written: I really like writing things by hand. They just seem way more personal that way. And I feel more accomplished when I see something that I brought about with my own hands. Okay, so I type with my hands too, but it isn't quite the same. When I have something physical to show for my time, I think I put myself into the project more.
7. The name: Blog? Where did that word even come from? It is so cacophonous. Just say it out loud a couple of times. Slower. What kind of name is that?
8. The fact that I have to do one: I'm pretty sure I would enjoy doing this about 10 times as much if I did not have to do this for an assignment. At the same time, I doubt I would even be doing a blog without the assignment. Anyway, I'm planning on maintaining it after the class is over, so we'll have to see how that works out for me.
9. Writing creatively: I consider technical writing more of a personal forte than creative writing. Putting voice in writing just bugs me. There's a way to do it, but I'm pretty sure that it should be reserved for professionals. Just because anyone can write for the world to see, doesn't mean that just anyone should.
10. Time: Blogs are a time commitment, and it's hard to say just how long of a commitment it's going to be. Math is pretty objective. You can sit down, figure out what you're supposed to be doing, and get up in an hour or two and be done. On a blog, you just sit down, and write until you feel good about what you've done. Which is usually never for me. Hence my low number of blog posts.

And that's about it, really. Not that I even particularly care about any of these, but it was a good topic for me. I got to figure out for myself just why this assignment annoyed me so much. Hopefully it inspires someone.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Easy as 3.141592. . .

This is the final (and mostly true) draft of my personal narrative.

There were more pocket protectors in the room than you could count on the fingers of one hand, and there wasn't a single person in the room who couldn't give you the first 20 digits of pi. With a state championship on the line, every nerd had their pride to defend.

The Scholastic Team at my school was a gathering place for the intellectually elite. Less prestigious than debate, Scholastic Team was the invisible escape for those who wanted to share the speed with which they could return random trivia. However, the Scholastic Team would be invisible no more.

“We made it to the Finals!” exclaimed Mr. Call, the coach for Scholastic Team. He was wearing bulky glasses and a Star Wars tie, and had the largest bug collection I had ever seen. He was, in every way, the epitome of the stereotypical nerd. “We will be on Idaho Public Television for our match tomorrow morning!” True, that wasn't a very large audience, but a public appearance of any kind made us almost a sport. “Just remember that whether we win or lose this match tomorrow, our sportsmanship will be the most important thing.”

It was true. Our school, Madison, had just won a state championship in basketball, and while we didn't have a single “star” on our team that year that was particularly impressive, the coach of every team that our school had played had noted that we were their favorite team to play, because our basketball team had such great sportsmanship. It was our turn to defend this legacy.

Our opponents for the championship the following morning would be Hillcrest. They were the reason we hadn't made it to the championship last year. But this year was different. We had defeated them at the qualification tournament a few weeks ago, just to make it to where we were. We rested easily on this knowledge that night.

“Which author, in the play Our Town, defined. . .”

“Thorton Wilder.”

“Whose assassination in 1968. . .”

“Robert Kennedy.”

The bus ride to the Television studio was filled with the sound of random trivia. In ideal situations, we would be able to answer the question before it was done being asked, so the other team would have less of a chance of being able to answer the question. Haylee, our captain, was issuing commands and strategies. We reviewed hand signals, levels of aggressiveness while playing, and specialties of the front row players.

When we got there, the buzzers were lined up, and Hillcrest was waiting. The reader for the match walked in with a big cheesy grin. He was wearing a suit above the waist, but jeans below, because the camera was designed to catch him at an angle so no one else would see what pants he was wearing.

“That is so tacky,” we all whispered in turn. We took our seats and prepared for the match to start.

“Today, we will have the Idaho State INL High School Scholastic Team State Championship!” The reader had a charismatic “TV” voice. “On the left, we have Madison High School from Rexburg, and on the right, we have Hillcrest High School from Idaho Falls!” He continued to explain the rules of the event. The rolling cameras made us all nervous. We were all anxious to get started. Finally, it was time to begin: “On with the first question. Your category is 'Eye Examination.' What instrument. . .”

Buzz! Hillcrest knew the answer after 4 words. “Ophthalmoscope.”

“Correct. I'm glad you said that, so I didn't have to!”

Ophthalmoscope? I didn't even know that was a word before this point in time. That was only the first question though. We could come back. But Hillcrest got the next question. And the following one. And the one after that. It wasn't until the forth question that we got a chance to answer. And the answer was incorrect, resulting in a subtraction of 5 points.

It was hard to remain composed. Why did we miss that one? We knew what the answer was. We just didn't pronounce “Oedipus” right. And for that matter, neither did the judge. But we all thought about the many talks about sportsmanship that we had had in school, in practice, and at the end of the last round. No one likes a bad sport. Pronouncing the answer is part of the game. We all stayed competitive, and respectful.

“We are now halfway through the first half of the round, and the score is 55 to 5, Hillcrest!” announced the reader. Mr. Call in the back of the room was giving us exaggerated gestures from where he couldn't be seen by the camera. He was desperate for us to get Hillcrest off of its streak. And at that point, something with our team clicked. An obscure Russian history question was asked, and quickly answered by the history buff on our team. After that, our team was ready. We started answering every question. By the end of the first half, we tied up the score, 80 to 80.

“It is now time for the lightning round! The score is exactly tied, so we will need to toss a coin to determine who will go first!” The tension in the room was almost tangible. Madison lost the call, meaning we would compete first. Mr. Call was the most nervous of all of us. He looked like he has started to hyperventilate during the last question that tied the score. Both teams answered the lightning round questions, which brought the score to 115 to 135, in favor of Madison.

From that point forward, Madison remained ahead. We switched our game tactics from “catch-up” to “stay ahead.” Mr. Call was almost in tears as our team became 30, 40, 50, 60 points ahead. The final score was 225 to 165.

“And that's it! We have a Class A state champion! Congratulations, Madison!” As soon as the camera was off, we broke into excited cheers, and gave high fives all around. Mr. Call, looking somewhat frazzled, ran up to hug us all.

“I knew you guys would win the whole time.”

“Wait, guys,” came Haylee's voice, “Can we get 3 cheers for Hillcrest for being such great opponents?” Most of us had forgotten about Hillcrest already. We all cheered and applauded them. After all, they had just given us the best match we had had all season. It was clear that they were disappointed about the loss, but they smiled in acceptance of our appreciation of their performance. We then shook their hands individually, and, instead of congratulating, thanked each other.

Our team left the studio as State Champions. We were all content during the bus ride home in knowing that we were the biggest nerds in high school in the entire state of Idaho, but that wasn't the most rewarding part. We had defended our school's honor, and our principal, who had been secretly watching from the other room, came out and congratulated us. He told us how impressed he was of our performance, as well as our sportsmanship afterward.

The bus ride back to Rexburg would be about 6 hours long, but none of us cared. For many of us, this would be the highlight of the entire year. But instead of sitting by ourselves in the back of the bus, like we had on the way up, we sat intermingled with the Hillcrest team. Instead of awkward silence in the bus, we shared stories and smiles throughout the return trip.