Saturday, February 28, 2009


In a recent study Utah ranked number one with the most online porn subscriptions per 1000 broadband users. I can't say that I am surprised by this, just a litttle disheartened by the reminder of the problem and the proof of hypocrisy. And i'm embarrassed that Utah is on top of that list. People get so worked up around here about things that give the Church a bad name. I wonder if those people thought about their porn habits contributing to that poor image. Jeez.

But, honestly what surprises me is that people are still paying for porn. As one of the commentators on Jezebel said, "Are conservatives taking a moral highground on pirating?"

10 good things from this week

(in no particular order)

1. I saw Andrew Bird on Wednesday with some of my good friends. The show was great, even though it seemed Mr. Bird and the band were struggling a little with timing and rhythm. He looked frustrated and they had to start several songs over again, but it more or less just testified of the complicated things he was attempting to do with his looping machine. From my angle (at the front and to the right of the stage in front of the guitar player) it seemed that they weren't communicating well between each other. Maybe it was just an off night. At any rate, it was still wonderful and I loved the show.

2. It was warm for most of the week and I felt spring in the air. Even though the last couple of days have been cold, it won't be much longer before things start turning green.

3. I was part of a group presentation for my film class and we did really well.

4. I found out that I'm teaching Humanities 101 this Spring term. I practically begged for this gig and I am so incredibly happy for the opportunity. It's going to be so much fun.

5. I finished three weeks of training for a new project at work.

6. When I started the project I found that it is the easiest thing ever.

7. I finished 2 audiobooks and read Watchmen in one sitting on Sunday.

8. I get to see my best friend Amanda tonight.

9. I did my taxes last night.

10. I'm getting money back!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

a good week

I just felt like posting about the good week I'm having so far. Sunday I read Watchmen in one sitting and am pretty impressed with myself. I didn't love the book, but I know why, and I think that is valuable. There are things that bothered me, but I'm sure they were meant to bother me and so I appreciate that a lot.

At any rate, I think reading for 7 hours straight helped get me into the reading mood. I was able to work yesterday without pulling out my hair and today I did all my reading before class in the morning and worked on reading and grading tests in the evening. I think I went from 7:00 am to 7 pm without stopping. But I feel good about it all, and I plan on keeping up the momentum tomorrow and Thursday because I have a lot to get done.

In other good news, I found out that I'm teaching Humanities 101 this Spring term! YAY! I'm incredibly excited about this because it's pretty much my second chance. I feel like I screwed up a bit the first time, and with my accident and everything I know that I didn't have the best semester teaching. Plus the fact that I didnt figure out what the heck i was doing until the last few weeks of class. I also practically begged for the job, so when I got the email today as i was walking accross campus it was all I could do to not jump up and down screaming with joy. Finally, something I wanted to happen happened. I'm glad I begged.

Tomorrow I'm going to see Andrew Bird in concert, whom I love dearly, and I'm going with some of my favorite people. I should be good times. I hear he lives on a farm in Illinois. I don't think I could be any more in love with him now that I've seen this photo.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Waterfowl and rural Utah.

Today we traveled south to watch some Snow Geese on their migratory pit stop north. We drove almost 2 hours to Delta, Utah for the Snow Goose Festival, took a couple pictures of some geese and drove home. It wasn't the most exciting 5 hours of my life, but I absolutely love driving through Utah, for some weird reason, and I like that I'm feeling part of something happening locally.

I made a goal last summer to see as much of Utah as I could before I move away. Adding this trip to Delta I've seen most of what I've wanted to. I like rural Utah for some reason. I love it. I'm fascinated with it. I'm fascinated with the old, slow talking residents who remind me of my grandparents. They are a dying breed, and as much as it bothers me, they and their little towns embody where I come from, where generations of my family lived. On my mother's side my grandpa's family lived in Vernal, Utah for a hundred years. I think he was one of the first to leave. And when I talk to those the rural Utahns whose families have lived in the same little towns since the Pioneers, I can't help but think of my family and my pioneer heritage. I admire those people almost as much as I am frustrated and confused by them.

I am also, of course, reminded of my own childhood growing up in a small town in Utah. It never seemed that small. The valley was my whole world; there were enough people there and enough things for me to do because I was a lucky one living on a ranch far from neighbors. I never liked the town. It made no sense to me when there was so much land why people would bunch together and have tiny little yards for their kids to play in when there were only 500 living the whole place to begin with. It was like they were pretending to be suburban or something. I was never bored because I had a twenty acre ranch to explore, 12 dogs to play with at a time, cats, chickens, rabbits, horses, horrible geese, ducks, peacocks, a canal to swim in, hills covered in sage brush, hills covered in alfalfa, hills covered in grass, a long windy dirt road to ride bikes down, or sled down in the winter, trees to hide in and build forts, sheds full of old junk to explore, everything a kid could ever want. And all those other kids had a little lawn to play on out in the middle of no where. No wonder they all went crazy.

It's funny. I never felt that I was like those people in the town at all. I always felt different. Even though I was probably the most rural of them all I've always had a cosmopolitan view of the world. I somehow avoided the Utahn accent (for the most part anyway, sometimes it sneaks through.) I always found my grandparents and other people I associated with to be racist, ignorant, sexist and overall infuriating. I never felt trapped in a small town because I never had to live in the town. Instead I lived in paradise and I knew it. I think the fact that my mom worked in Park City for most of my childhood had a lot to do with my urban view of the world. She knew what was going on. In Park City she had all kinds of jobs, would meet celebrities and make friends with rich people. She didn't have many friends in the valley, and I'm honestly really glad for that because she kept up with fashion, with music and did a good job of exposing us to the city, to art and most of all to shopping. I know we were, but I don't ever remember feeling poor or deprived.

Goodness, as screwed up as I am now, if I had not had the fortune to live and grow up where I did I have no idea where I would be. I think it has a lot to do with my seeminly contradictory pull toward a city like New York and also my dream of having a farm for raising chickens, rabbits and children. Give me the biggest city or the most rural ranch, nothing in between will do.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


This is what I want to be when I grow up. That's right, a farmer. It's a dream of mine to own a small piece of land, have some chickens, ducks, rabbits, and a big garden where I grow food to feed my family and to sell at farmers' markets.


I found this blog post about the entitlement students feel to good grades. This is something I know a lot about since I am a long time student, a TA for the last 5 years and have taught a Humanities 1o1 course. I have never felt entitled to good grades because of the effort I put into my work. In fact, I put very little effort into classes and have still managed to pull off a 3.82 GPA. The reason is because I produce good work, I have very high standards for myself and I am generally good at what I do. Of course effort is a huge part of that (and maybe I would have a 4.0 if I put in the effort I know I should), but it is certainly not the only part. I know it is frustrating when you put effort and time into something and your grade doesn't match up to what you feel you deserve, and I'm sorry but we cannot all be the best at something and some people will also know more than you do, and if grades are given by quality of work that means that sometimes those people will get higher grades. That is why a lot of us study what we happen to be good at. I'm good at analyzing and writing papers, so that's what I do and I'm getting better the more I do it and I often get As as a result, but sometimes I don't. It happens.

I get frustrated with students who ask directly for As, or who whine and complain about not getting an A on a paper. However, I do feel bad for them when I know that they need an A to keep their scholarship, and I'm all about free money, so I generally give in. But some students have such a snarky attitude about it, as if they were really entitled simply for showing up and wasting my time with a crappy paper that I am forced to grade.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Are zombies not transcendent?

I'm beginning to think that my film professor doesn't trust that I can write a paper about cinematic transcendence in zombie films. She emailed me this line after I talked to her about my ideas today, and I'm not sure how to take it:
"And I can’t tell if I’m having second thoughts or nightmares about zombies and inverse transcendence"
Is that a challenge, cuz if so it is so on. Maybe she's right; maybe it's too far fetched of an idea, but I keep thinking of how the woman is writing a paper on freaking Hellboy. And besides, I'm taking this class to help me with my thesis so I'm writing about zombies, dammit.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The thrift paradox.

I'm not the only one who worries about the "thrift paradox"

10 good things.

My lovely friend Alicia was telling me today that when she was little and got mad or frustrated for whatever reason her mom would have her write down 10 things that were good. It sounds like a good idea and since I want to try to be more positive and cheerful I thought I'd try it out.

1. The Peace Lily my sister gave me for Christmas. I see it's growing and getting bigger, it always has lovely white flowers, and it helps separate my desk from my supervisor's which helps with awkwardness.
2. This nice blue pen I have to write with.
3. Wintergreen breathsavers.
4. This book I'm listening to on tape called Assassination Vacation which is both nerdy and funny.
5. It stopped raining/snowing
6. I have a ride home from work today.
7. Andrew Bird's new album
8. I'm going to see Andrew Bird in concert next week!
9. Paul McCartney's new album doesn't suck.
10. I might get to play rockband tonight.


I feel like my life is a bit of a mess lately. I feel that this is most evident when I look in the mirror, like how I take care of myself is reflective of the mess I feel like I am inside. It looks like I stopped caring, and while I don't really believe this is true, the disheveled and generally unkempt hair, the bad complexion, the patches of dry skin that may or may not be eczema, tell a different story. The thing is, I do care but it's not translating well into action. Another point of this is the fact that I really want to eat healthy and keep my body in shape. I would like to stop eating meat and dairy, and I have lofty ideals that make me want to never put a piece of meat or cheese in my mouth again, and yet I sit here and eat bagels covered in cream cheese for lunch, partly because of the habit of always eating free food, no matter how much it goes against my ideals, like the big plate of hamburgery pasta my roommate offered for dinner the other night and the quesadilla I had last night. I cannot say no to free food. Also, I started doing pilates the other day, and I know it will take a while to get any good at it, but I was appalled at how uncoordinated, inflexible and completely out of control of my body I am.

Another area that seems to be a bit of a mess are my relationships with a few of my friends. I always see myself doing things and saying things I probably shouldn't, having ridiculous expectations and generally generating a lot of awkwardness. It's like the more I try the worse it gets. Time to back away, perhaps.

Now the question, what in the world is wrong with me? Perhaps the fact that I've never been one for discipline, that I am ruled by laziness, that I am generally a little crazy, that I am insecure, flighty, have a very short attention span, that I lack tact and other essential social skills and am afraid of being too close to people while paradoxically craving attention, that I am too hard on myself, that I am too easy on myself, that I am too proud, and that I am human, confused, tired and lonely. Add in this list that I feel as if I have few personal accomplishments because I get so bored with things that I move on before I ever learn any kind of skill. I am a mess. Now, i'm not saying that I'm special here, I honestly don't know how we as humans can go on existing. I wonder how we do it. What do you do when you feel like you're unraveling? How do you cinch up the lose ends before it's too late?

The most frustrating thing is the seemingly simple answer to the question: How do I bridge the gap from wanting to (or knowing I should) do something an actually doing it? The answer of course is to just do it. Simple. Nothing worth analyzing. The big question then is this: Why is it so bloody hard?

Gah. I'm being kind of angsty, aren't I?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

online newspapers

The other day I read this article in Time Magazine about finding an easy and simple way to charge for content on the internet. At first I was turned off by the idea; information on the internet is free and was meant to stay that way, dammit. But as I read the argument I began to change my mind a bit. We're losing our cities' newspapers, but it's not because people are not reading the news, they are simply reading it online. I'm not really worried about the newspapers losing money and going under, but I do like the idea that content will improve and be of a consistently higher quality if the newspapers answered to the readers and not only to the advertisers. I'd pay a nickle for an article if I knew I was getting something good.

Friday, February 13, 2009

some thoughts.

I'm confused. The economy is bad so we should spend money right? But spending money is now seen as a very irresponsible, and we should be frugal and try to save money, as if doing what we should have done years ago would suddenly fix the current problem. It's like we have this love/hate relationship going on, but it's more than that. Our society is a bratty teenager and money is our clueless parent. We don't necessarily feel love for money, but we need it. And because we need it we resent it. It controls us and we loathe it, but without it we would cease to exist.

I feel bad for families who are struggling to get by. It breaks my heart that people are losing their jobs, that people are suffering right now. I have yet to feel the effects of the bad economy; nothing has changed so far in my life. I have a job and I feel pretty secure in it. The company I work for did well last year and keeps getting big sales, which means that there's work for me to do for the next couple of years. I feel very fortunate for that.
. I'm paying all my bills on time and I have a little bit of money saved up, at least enough to live on for a couple of months. I'm getting a big student loan soon that I'll use the excess to pay down my high interest debt, so I'll save money there. I'm applying for a job right now that will pay me four times as much as the one I have and if I get it I'll pay off all my credit card debt in just a few years. And if things keep going well maybe I'll go to Europe this summer. I feel very grateful and I definitely ought to be.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

This makes me feel very uncomfortable.

Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman looks like he's gone a little crazy, and Letterman just makes fun of him the whole time. Very awkward.

The most adorable pictures I've found on the interwebs this week.

This kills me

This warms my heart. So cute! Look at his wee bear!

I don't think anything in the world could be cuter than a baby otter.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Keeping tabs.

Recent zombie sightings on the web, and elsewhere.

And this trailer is kind of fun. It's for a Norwegian film called Dead Snow which is about Nazi zombies.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Great War

I'm taking a class now about the first World War and I've read some extremely heart wrenching accounts, letters, poems and stories dealing with how the war affected so many people. I've recently come across some photos from the LIFE archive from the period and I'd like to post them. I'm especially interested in the role women took in the war. So, here they are.

These are British women working as porters because of the shortage of men.

Group of women working on engine.

A chauffeur.

A German spy

A field hospital.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


A few years ago I was meeting with my bishop, a man who I hardly knew, and he asked me what I was studying. When I told him Humanities he replied "Oh. So you'll be graduating with no marketable skills." I felt insulted, and a little angry and thought, "No, sir. Unfortunately I won't be able to work in your doctor's office. Oh well."

I'm seeing now despite how rude this man was to say this to me, he was, after all, right. I've gained a pretty good education, maybe not the best in the world, but I've definitely had some pretty remarkable moments of clarity and felt that I had grown intellectually and spiritually because of the work I've been doing for the last seven years or so, but I certainly have few marketable skills and no trade to speak of. I think this a bit of a shame. I'm very happy for my education but I wish I had a skill. And I don't mean I wish I'd gone to business or law school or become a dental hygienist or something, but I do wish I had become a horticulturalist or a chef, something which requires real skill and care and work. Because that's what I'm missing in my life. Good, honest, hard physical labor. Being educated has made me lazy.

I'm beginning to see how the academic world is shortchanging the working class. I mean, from its conception the university system has strived to educate the elite, the people who will make the decisions in government or who already have the means and support to spend the rest of their lives elucidating other elite on the workings of the world or of art. We've kept this system but have now insisted that all can enter the great gleaming halls of academia. Only, those of us who come from the working class have dreams of elitism, of being the premier scholar in a field, researching important topics all over the world, being allowed in the oldest and finest libraries, handling the greatest works, writing about the most obscure piece of art. And we're told that if we work hard enough that that will be us some day. And so we work and study and learn all we can about history and art and science and then comes the day that we graduate and they shuffle us out of our marble halls and into a world where if we don't work a 9-5 job we don't eat. Well, it's either that or spend another 5 to 7 years working and striving for the coveted Ph.D only to find that we still have to eat and no one except for small handfull of people see any value in our life's work. We struggle to find a job that will offer us tenure. The universities are more concerned with getting great grants than they are with our work or what we could offer the students, and so we must produce. We must make a good name for our schools or else we'll be booted out.

I don't want it. I still dream of being allowed in the elitist world, and I've tasted it. I want that, but I don't think the suffering is worth it. It sounds like a very lonely job anyway.

And so I've an education and no training. What do I do? Because of my education I'm more self aware and so more aware of my useless self. I want to work. I want to create something, but I don't know how. I know how to tear things apart and examine each and every fragment, but I don't know how to put things to gether to make something beautiful. I can't envision a whole out of parts, but only the parts of a whole. I think by avoiding the world of the working class I've walked myself right into it. I'll work in an office for the rest of my life, grateful for the paycheck, hoping that I can take a couple weeks off to go on a little trip every once in a while.

Why didn't I become a horticulturalist or a chef? When I was in high school I loved learning about plants, I loved planting little gardens, I loved cooking. I read an entire cookbook once, cover to cover, and learned all the techniques I use now. I want to take a book binding class and a stain glass class and a sewing class. I want to make things that people will love.

But, I have the rest of my life to do those things. Right now I have an education for which I am grateful, but I was also born to the working class and despite my pension for laziness I do know how to work and maybe someday I'll be a gardener or something. I like to think that an education doesn't need to limit me to some sort of elitist post. When I was in Italy I suspected that the bus drivers were educated and valued education, that the street sweepers and the shopkeepers were also educated because I heard them talk about very deep topics and saw everyone with a book. They took pride in their jobs, but were not defined by their careers. At the end of the work day they put the work world behind them and enjoyed their time with family and friends and books. I have never seen so many people read in public places in my life, and book shops practically on every corner. That's what I want my life to be like. Educated but useful. And so that's what I'm going to strive for now. Hopefully I'll be trained as a teacher and do that for a couple years. Then maybe I'll be trained to do something else or maybe I'll learn the skills I've always wanted to and make a living creating lovely things for people. We'll see.

A recipe

I made a great soup tonight and thought I'd post the recipe.

Southwest Chicken Soup
1 can chicken broth
1 small onion
2 or 3 chicken breasts
1 stalk celery
1 small green bell pepper
1 can red kidney beans (or black beans)
1/2 cup corn
1/3 cup barley
3/4 cup pasta (I used rotini but farfalle would work too)
chili powder
garlic salt
graded cheese
tortilla chips

Heat chicken broth and at least 3 cups of water with onion, bell pepper, chicken breast (whole or chopped up), barley, kidney beans, garlic salt, and chili powder. When chicken appears cooked (about 10 minutes) put in celery, corn and pasta and cook until pasta is tender. add salt to taste. top with cheese and crumpled tortilla chips.

I also put cabbage in the soup for extra nutrition and flavor, but I'm weird and I love cabbage.