Olympic Answers

Last week I did a post about questions I had been asking myself while watching the Olympics. As the Vancouver games draw to a close, you'll be happy to know I found answers to some of them.

Q: Will making jokes about curling ever get old?
A: Yes. Curling jokes immediately became tired and stale when Jay Leno attempted to lampoon the sport in a promo for his return to the Tonight Show next week.

Q: Is there really a difference between pairs figure skating and ice dancing?
A: Pairs figure skating involves more pumping up the jam.

Q: Who invited Jeff Bridges to be in the "We Are The World" remake?
A: I still don't know, but I wish he would have gone Obadiah nuts at the end of the song. "This sounds like it was recorded in a cave... with a box of scraps!"

Q: Does Bob Costas age?
A: The answer became clear when I did this side-by-side comparison.

Q: Aren't the snowboard events just an excuse for Team USA to win more medals?
A: Not if Lindsay Jacobellis is involved.

Q: Is it less heterosexual to be a male figure skater, or to be a male who watches figure skating?
A: I'd take either of these options over two man luge.

Q: If I eat my McNuggets and drink my Coca-Cola, can I become an Olympian too?
A: When I do, I hope Morgan Freeman will provide narration:
"I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only an Olympian can feel, an athlete at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can do my best and win the gold. I hope I can make my country proud. I hope this Coke washes away the aftertaste of these McNuggets. I hope."
So long, Olympics. See you in London in 2012.


Back to School

I am now officially a student again. I never imagined that this is what I would be doing at age 25. Besides, I already went to college... right? Sure I did, but the problem is that I failed to study a useful subject and get qualified for any real profession. So, five years later, I'm starting over. Over the past couple of months, while Dave has been working short weeks and I have been doing what I can to save money, we were also thinking of the future. We realized that we can't keep this up forever and we really need to figure out a long-term plan.

So as part of that long-term plan, I am going back to school. I have considered a lot of different options, but decided that I should do something that interests me that will also (hopefully) pay well in the end. Right now, I will just be working on prerequisites through BYU Independent Study. This will allow me to get most of the credits I need to get into my program while not having to worry about daycare... yet. Then hopefully by next year, we will be in a position where I can go back to school full time.

My ultimate goal is to become a sonographer. In order to do that, I will first have to become an x-ray tech. So it will take anywhere from 2-4 years to complete after I actually get into the programs I am interested in. I guess that means that by the time I turn 31, I should have a real profession which will allow me to provide for our family if I need to, and allow Dave a little more flexibility in his work.

Wish us luck... it is going to be a long road and we will probably be poor for a long time, but will be worth it in the end.


300th Post Honorary Hullabaloo

As we commemorate 300 posts, I wanted to call attention to a significant recent moment that you may have missed. My mom has long maintained she does read her children's blogs, but was "of the wrong generation to comment." Well, after 2 1/2 years and 295 posts, #296 about family road trip music was the one that broke her silence. Here's hoping we aren't celebrating 600 posts by the time you comment again, Mom.

Now, on to the task at hand. As in the past, I have gathered some of our favorite posts from 201-300. If nothing else, the following collection shows that when I need to come up with something memorable, I just have to blog about Star Wars.

The Phantom Menace at 10: The Hype 5.19.09
Ten Things... You Should Never Have to Hear in Church (Part 2) 6.1.09
Swingtown Addendum 6.20.09
Gourmet S'mores 8.2.09
I-15 Adventures 8.5.08
My Pixelated Education 8.14.09
Tacos and other Swiss Delights 9.6.09
Holy Mackinaw! It's a CATastrophe 9.8.09
Ten Things... I Love About Watching MLB on Fox 11.5.09
Christmas in the Stars 12.10.09
Last Minute Gift Ideas 12.21.09
Free C-3PO 2.04.10


Cuban Sandwiches

My obsession with regional sandwiches continues. These required a bit of preparation, but the end result was well worth it.

Phase I: Roasting the Pork

• 3 cloves garlic, mashed
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 cup onion, minced
• 1 cup sour orange juice (2 parts orange, 1 part lime, 1 part lemon juice)
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 2 pound boneless center-cut pork loin

Mash the garlic and salt together with a fork. Place the mixture in a small bowl. Add oregano, onion, and the sour orange juice and mix thoroughly. Heat oil in a small saucepan, add the mash to the oil, and whisk the mixture together. Remove from heat. Thoroughly pierce the pork roast with a fork. Pour marinade over the pork, cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove pork from refrigerator and place it on a rack in a roasting pan. Sprinkle remaining marinade over the pork. Roast until completely cooked and a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees. Baste occasionally with the pan juices. Remove pork from oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before thinly slicing the meat.

Phase II: Making the Sandwiches

• French bread (unless you know where to find Cuban bread)
• Butter
• Sliced roast pork
• Swiss cheese
• Dill pickles
• Yellow mustard (optional)

Cut the bread into 6 inch sections. Slice these in half horizontally and spread butter on the inside of both halves. Generously layer the sandwiches with pickles, roasted pork, and cheese.

Preheat a pancake griddle to medium heat (if the griddle is too hot the crust will burn before the cheese melts). Lightly coat the hot griddle with cooking spray and add the first sandwich. Place a heavy iron skillet on top of the sandwich to flatten it. Grill the sandwich for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden. Slice each sandwich in half diagonally. Serve with a side of mustard for dipping.


Smell Like a Man, Man

One of the annoying things about watching a multi-week event like the Olympics is that you are subjected to the same mind-numbing commercials over and over again. That is, except for this Old Spice ad. We have seen it a few times now, and it never ceases to crack us up (partly because it will come on immediately following the feather-clad male figure skaters).


Ten Things...

...I Have Asked Myself While Watching the Olympics

10. Will making jokes about curling ever get old?

9. Who invited Jeff Bridges to be in the "We Are The World" remake?

8. Is there really a difference between pairs figure skating and ice dancing?

7. Are the speed skaters' suits actually just painted on?

6. Is there a mogul skier who hasn't had major knee surgery?

5. Why do simple, every day tasks like using your Visa card seem more meaningful when Morgan Freeman is narrating?

4. Does Bob Costas age?

3. Aren't the snowboard events really just an excuse for Team USA to win more medals?

2. Is it less heterosexual to be a male figure skater, or to be a male who watches figure skating?

1. If I eat my McNuggets and drink my Coca-Cola, can I become an Olympian too?


Albums I Grew Up On: Road Trippin'

As we patiently wait for Daylight Saving Time to arrive, unfortunately there isn't much exciting going on in our lives to blog about right now. That must mean it's time for another series of posts where I get all nostalgic about something from my youth. How about music this time? My first installment will focus on the grand old tradition of family road trips. Are we there yet?

The Best of the Beach Boys

My family lived on the East Coast for most of my childhood, so every summer was highlighted by a few day trips to the beach. Transportation was always ably provided by "Woody," aka our wood paneled station wagon. The drive took about an hour, which was just enough time to hear all of the Beach Boys' biggest hits, and really get in the mood for the surf and sand. "Surfin' USA" was always my favorite song because it reminded me of the totally bodacious van surfing scene in Teen Wolf. Even after copious amounts of internet research, I'm still not completely sure which album we had. According to Wikipedia, the Beach Boys have 24 hits compilations (compared to 28 studio albums). Now that's what I call living off the past.
We'll all be planning out a route, we're gonna take real soon, we're waxing down our surfboards, we can't wait for June // Surfin' U.S.A

Billy Joel: Greatest Hits, Volume I & II

After a few years had past, but before Woody's cassette player gave out (and you had to bang on the dashboard just to get the radio to work), my sisters attempted to mix up the usual slate of road trip tunes with Billy Joel's Greatest Hits. But since my Dad seemingly only liked the Beach Boys, and the edgiest thing in my Mom's record collection was the Ray Conniff Singers, some of the Piano Man's saltier lyrical passages like "the microphone smells like a beer" were met with parental opposition. I, on the other hand, loved the Psycho-esque keyboard riff of "Pressure," the retro doo-wop of "The Longest Time," and the epic storytelling of "Goodnight Saigon." To this day, I still enjoy an occasional Billy Joel interlude when the mood strikes me.
And the piano sounds like a carnival, and the microphone smells like a beer, and they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar, and say, "Man, what are you doin' here?" // Piano Man


Blankets for Haiti

Like a lot of people, I have been watching the news coverage of the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake and wishing that there was some way that I could help. Hearing the stories of the orphanages that were destroyed and of the little children living out of tents tugs at my heartstrings.

Then just this last week, I got an email from a sister in our ward who has been working on collecting supplies to send to Haiti. They were collecting children's clothing, blankets, and tents for the orphanages. I really felt like this was something I wanted to help with. So I gave myself a budget and went to Joann to shop for fabric. I only had one day to do as much as I could, so I opted to go with the fast and easy route of making fleece blankets. Fleece is great because it is warm and the edges don't fray, so you don't have to sew it.

One of the employees at Joann helped me find 12 fleece remnants that were big enough for blankets. Since they sell remnants for 50% off, I got 12 pieces for about $3.50 each. Then I settled in for a long day on the couch, cutting and tying blankets. If you've never made this type of blanket before, it is really easy. All you have to do is cut strips on each end of the blanket. The strips are about 1/2 inch wide and 2-3 inches deep. Then you tie each strip into a knot, which creates a nice fringe-effect.

With some help from my friend Tammy, I was able to get all 12 finished on Saturday... and put in about 6 hours work in all. By the end, my hands hurt so bad that I could barely tie the knots. Dave tried to help with the tying, but he quickly decided his fingers were not made for that kind of work. Instead, he spent a good portion of the day keeping Eddie away. Eddie was only happy if I was not holding any of the blankies. He would take them from me, then leave them on the floor and forget them until I took them back.

Since he liked them all so much, I let him pose with them for the photo:
And here is the stack, ready to deliver:
The blankets, along with the other items collected by the group, will be leaving for Haiti on Thursday.


Free C-3PO

When I was 16, I went through a brief phase of Star Wars collecting. I was convinced that buying and preserving these toys in their original packages was a wise investment. At the time, a popular joke in my family was that some day in the distant future, when I was married with kids, I would come home from work to make an awful discovery. My kids would have broken into the display case where my Star Wars collectibles were housed, and ripped them all out of their packages. This would then cause me to grimly state, "Well, there goes your college education."

As it turns out, this scenario was built on a few fundamental fallacies. One being that my eventual spouse and I would want to display these toys somewhere in our house. And another being that said collectibles would actually be valuable someday.

My bedroom wall, circa 1996. The term "nerd alert" springs to mind.

I find it interesting that a lot of people I associated with during this time of my life still think of me as this big toy collector. In all actuality the phase only lasted about a year, and was nearly half my life ago.

Two boxes of unopened toys now reside in the back of our closet (much to Kristen's chagrin). Recently, as Eddie was happily playing with an R2-D2 toy, the thought crossed my mind that he needed a companion C-3PO. Then something more profound dawned on me. There was already a mint condition C-3PO action figure in the closet!

Was I actually considering this? Maybe I had just watched Toy Story 2 a few too many times. To help make up my mind, I looked up C-3PO and several other figures from my collection on eBay. There were dozens of listings ranging from 99 cents to $10, and most had zero bids. My suspicions were confirmed. My toy collection is worth precisely squat.

That clinched it. I squeezed into the back of the closet, found the right box, and dug out C-3PO. As I handed the package over to Eddie he immediately said, "P-P-O! Out?" The significance of this moment was of course lost on him, but not on Kristen. As I tried to slip my fingernail between the plastic bubble and cardboard, she commented, "I never thought I'd see the day."

"P-P-O! Out?"

"Somewhere in that pad of stuffing is a toy who taught me that life's only worth living if you're being loved by a kid. And I traveled all this way to rescue that toy because I believed him." - Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story 2

Time to celebrate, C-3PO. Your "realistic metalized body" is free from its plastic prison.

So what will become of the rest of those Star Wars toys still in the closet? In a way they weren't such a bad investment after all. Now Eddie has birthday and Christmas presents for years to come.


Screening Process

Over the last few weeks, when I would fire up my computer at work, the monitor wouldn't turn on. However, a cure-all restart could usually get it to blink to life. But when I returned to work on Monday morning, I tried several restarts and still nothing. I explained to my boss that my monitor had died, and tried to hide the drool forming in the corners of my mouth as I told him I would need a shiny new Apple 24" LED Cinema Display to replace it.

He picked it up for me Monday afternoon and delivered it to my office Tuesday morning. I pulled it out of the box, tried to hook it up, and realized my computer didn't have the right video port. I called ExperCom and they explained I would need a Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter. I hopped in my car, drove 20 minutes across the valley to the closest store, and obtained said adapter.

I drove back to my office, sliced open the package and... it was the wrong one. I actually needed the opposite, a DVI to Mini DisplayPort adapter. With what was left of my morning I hopped back in the car, drove back to ExperCom, made the exchange, and returned to my office once again.

I pulled the proper adapter out of its box, hooked everything up, and... the new monitor didn't turn on either. The wheels in my head finally started turning. I pulled out my laptop, plugged in the new monitor, and it sprung to glorious life. I had a sinking feeling as I cast a weary eye toward my old monitor. Soon I plugged it in to my laptop, and just as I suspected, it turned on with no problems.

After another conversation with ExperCom, this time I was loading my MacPro tower into the car to have the video card replaced. When I got back to the office for the third time, I regretfully packed that shiny new Apple 24" LED Cinema Display back in its box for imminent return.

As I rehearsed this story to my amused coworkers, I realized I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had but tested the old monitor on the laptop in the first place. Since my computer is only a year and a half old and the monitor is five plus, I simply assumed it was an issue with the monitor. But then we all know what happens when you assume.