Tuesday, December 28, 2010

10 Words

  1. frieze- the part of a Greco-Roman structure as labeled in this image:
  2. Image courtesy of www.historyforkids.org
  3. sapient- acutely insightful and wise.
  4. charnel- a tomb, a depository of dead bodies; (adj.) indicative of death. 
  5. apotheosis- (verb) to deify; (noun) the ideal.
  6. recalcitrant- stubbornly resistant to authority; hard to cooperate with.
  7. cuckold- an unfaithful husband; the scum of the Earth.
  8. dais- a raised platform, to give prominence to whoever occupies it.
  9. coffer- an ornamental trunk; an ornamental, sunken panel in a ceiling or dome like this:
  10. Image courtesy of www.imperialdesign.on.ca
  11. filigree- delicate and intricate ornamentation, often made from wire of precious metals.  What's that? You want an example?  Okay, it's this stuff:
  12. maw- informal term for mouth; where food enters the body; the jaws of a ravenous creature.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Fun times, eh?  Winter has finally arrived here in Utah (several days after the Blizzard).  Kira and I celebrated by attending the Christmas light ceremony at the Riverwoods in Provo.  It was mostly a shameless promotion for the new stores in the outdoor shopping center, but they also turned on some pretty cool Christmas lights.
This is a blue tree with icicle lights, and another big tree made of glowing orbs.
They had a man making an ice sculpture.  I'm always impressed that they do this with a chainsaw.  The detail is spectacular.

And it finally snowed at home.  The dog enjoyed playing in (and eating, and peeing on) the snow.  We enjoyed throwing snowballs at him... teehee.

We then made a snow sculpture of ourselves (including future Baby Miller).  My eyes are made of grapes.  Kira's and the child's are almonds... get it?  It looks kind of like a weird little nativity, but it really isn't.  It's us.

10 words of December

With no relation to December... (10 points to anyone who can use any of these words in a sentence about December)
  1. fiduciary- a person who holds assets for a beneficiary; (also used more generally; e.g., a trustee).
  2. minutiae- minor, often negligible details.
  3. auspicious- of good omen; boding well.
  4. crone- a woman who has passed the stage of menopause; (also used derogatorily).
  5. redolent- fragrant; (used with 'with' or 'of').
  6. fusillade- rapid, simultaneous discharge of firearms.
  7. skirl- the playing of bagpipes; the sound of bagpipes; a high-pitched, wailing sound.
  8. keening- mournful, vocal lamenting (as at a wake).
  9. serried- crowded, shoulder-to-shoulder (often as in army ranks).
  10. abattoir- slaughterhouse, where animals are butchered.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Snow: False Alarm

The blizzard didn't make it to Provo.  They wouldn't even delay school in the Tri-Cities with what we have here.
Oh well.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Monty Python: Dead Parrot

It's time for a classic. For those of you who are not Monty Python fans or who are not familiar with such sketches as this, I apologize for not sharing this sooner.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Haiti v. DR

For all those who don't know, this is what the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic looks like.
The border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Cobb, Charles E. 1987. “Haiti: Against All Odds.” National Geographic, Vol. 172, No. 5: 645-670. Photo by James Blair

The same view from NASA. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center - Scientific Visualization Studio

Apparently many of the economic and environmental problems in Haiti are a result of deforestation and resultant erosion.  These pictures seem fake to me...  (of course these pictures aren't really fake).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

If I knew who these guys were, I wouldn't say

ksl.com - Police search for LDS Church Office Building BASE jumpers. Apparently Police and News people are pretty upset about this, but I think it is quite awesome. Congrats to these mysterious adrenaline junkies.

Is Anyone Interested?

  1. abject- low to the extreme; extreme (humility, baseness, or sorrow).
  2. moratorium- a legally authorized/required postponement or suspension of activity.
  3. bifurcated- divided; made up of two distinct parts.
  4. salacious- characterized by lust; prurient, lewd.
  5. vis-à-vis- face-to-face.
  6. indelible- cannot be removed or defaced.
  7. fallow- intentionally left barren, as a field.
  8. sanguine- confidently optimistic; cheerful.
  9. glebe- plot of land belonging to the church, for the support of the priest.
  10. nosocomial- taking place in or as a result of a hospital.
  11. sword of Damocles- a constant, impending doom; (based on a Greek legend).
  12. sacrosanct- beyond alteration; must be kept sacred.
Does anyone ever look at these words?  Let me know if you're interested in new words.  Otherwise I think I'll keep them in a One-Note document to myself.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

It’s like The Matrix, only better

Kira and I went to see Inception this week. We had previously seen the first half, but finally got out to finish the flick. I admit that I am quite impressed. With Batman Begins, the Prestige, the Dark Knight and now Inception, Christopher Nolan is officially my new favorite writer/director.

I’ll first mention the special effects. I still recall when the Matrix was the hit movie because of its unique visual style and effects. Every few years, a new movie makes me think that we've finally reached the point of "if you can dream it, we can see it on the big screen." This movie, literally about our dreams, may have actually succeeded.

My favorite scene was one in which Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) floats around (and fights hand-to-hand) inside of a hotel with shifting gravity.

Opponents of James Cameron's Avatar know that in the movie world, special effects are not enough to make one great.  Nolan's prowess in creating original, captivating stories is also evident in this film.  Inception introduces us to the complex world of our own subconscious, our power over subconscious and its potential power over us.  Three simultaneous adventures--including a high-speed car chase, a hotel shootout, and the invasion of a mountain stronghold--are interspersed with Cobb's (DiCaprio) struggle against the grief within his mind.  Throughout the complexities, I was also impressed that the plot unfolded in a way that was not too hard to follow.  Important details were gradually introduced into the storyline, in contrast to the you-blink-you-miss-it aspect of similar films.

I also enjoyed the cliffhanger ending of the film.  I love it when movies don't tie up everything all nice for you.  It leaves you something to think about as the credits role and in a way, the film encourages you to take a piece of it with you.

Great story.  Great presentation.  A great ride.

10 Latest

  1. culpable- deserving blame; (same root as culprit).
  2. verdigris- a blue or green powder used as a paint pigment.
  3. cant- to slant; to lean; slang, jargon.
  4. wan- pale; dim.
  5. squalid- morally degraded; run-down and dirty.
  6. tableau- a dramatic scene or image.
  7. coup de grace- death blow, to end suffering; (blow of mercy).

  8. arcane- esoteric; requiring secret of mystic knowledge.
  9. nonplussed- bewildered, perplexed; pathologic confusion resulting in disorientation.
  10. ambivalent- uncertain; unable to decide; having a divided opinion.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I have heard several people recently explain that we have to be careful what we take for granted from other people's presentations because "we all have biases."

On the surface, this makes sense because anyone who shares information with you has their own perception of how that information fits into the big picture. In essence, we should not accept everything presented to us, even if it comes from a relatively reliable source (such as a professor, or an expert in that field). I believe that this is sound advice, but this leads me to another thought.

The word "bias" literally implies some sort of error, or preference that potentially keeps us from the truth. My question is: if we are aware that we have some sort of bias, why don't we elect to get rid of it?

The answer most likely lies in the fact that individual preferences for comfort and/or aversions to change often outweigh any preference to truth. In other words, many of us are okay with accepting a skewed view of the world because the effort involved to change our views is not worth the truth that we would gain.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Words of the Day

  1. sundry- various, miscellaneous, assorted (maybe at random).

  2. trollop- a dirty, untidy woman; an adulteress.

  3. throes- severe spasms of pain.

  4. brigand- bandit; an armed thief, usually part of a gang.

  5. adz- an axlike tool, with a curved, chisellike head.
  6. image obtained from avatargo.com/martinmkt/

  7. alacrity- liveliness, eagerness, enthusiasm.

  8. retinue- a group of servants, attending to someone important/noble.

  9. reticent- holding back; restrained.

  10. archipelago- a chain or cluster of islands.

  11. compunction- a feeling of deep regret; remorse.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy October!!

October is a time of celebration, autumn colors, and sweet smells.  Halloween celebrations--mostly consisting of chocolate, caramel, and pumpkins--can and often do last all month long.  Most important in our house, however, is the beginning of the NBA season and the onset of Phoenix Suns games.

Our biggest event so far has been our annual pumpkin carving.  I hope you enjoy our masterpieces.

I made the stencil design myself, and I admit that I am a little proud.

I got so into the process that poor Kira didn't get much of a chance to carve anything... I think she still had fun.

Can you guess where this is going?

Both pumpkins turned out great!

Good luck with the new additions, Suns.
We're cheering you on here in Utah.

Friday, October 8, 2010

10 New-a-Day Words

Stuff I learn at college:
  1. to cadge- to mooch; to obtain through begging.

  2. doleful- mournful; filled with sadness.

  3. to descry (rhymes with cry)to glimpse; to catch sight of.

  4. bawdy- vulgar; in the manner of a dirty joke; risqué.

  5. vociferous- loud; noisy; boisterous.

  6. de facto (adj.)- in fact; in reality.

  7. menagerie- a collection of wild or unusual animals, usually for display.
  8. Marzipan Menagerie courtesy of dahliascakes and www.lurvely.com
  9. deleterious- harmful; bad for one's health.

  10. shrift- confession and the granting of penance to the penitent. 

  11. pecuniary- pertaining to money.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Creation, the Fall, and Reuben Lucius Goldberg

Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist and inventor.  He is famous for a series of cartoons that featured complex machines that are used to complete a simple task; e.g.,
Many people have since created this type of machine for different purposes (most often artistic).  Two examples that are prominent to me include a TV commercial for the Honda Accord, and a music video by OK Go.

This may not seem related at first, but bear with me. I have heard a lot of speculation and justification regarding a well-known topic in Judeo-Christian mythology: The Fall of Adam and Eve. Like many tenets of this ancient religion, the root of what is generally understood comes from a few short verses of scripture. While various sects hold to disparate beliefs about the details and the significance of this narrative, the basic outline may be summarized as follows:
  1. God creates Adam and Eve and places them in the Garden of Eden, where they have dominion over plants and animals, and where they are immortal;
  2. God gives commandments to 1) multiply and fill the Earth and 2) not partake of the fruit of a certain tree;
  3. The devil tempts Eve to eat the fruit and she does, and then Adam also partakes of the fruit;
  4. Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden and must live a mortal life with trials and suffering;
  5. All of mankind is afterward born into this imperfect, mortal life.
It is my belief that the Fall was good and necessary.  I overheard a discussion recently about how and why the Fall happened as it did.  While this is a complex question rooted in many unknowns, I wish to share my opinion on one facet of this issue:

     God will never take away mankind's freedom and ability to choose.  He allows us today, as he did Adam and Eve, to decide what our thoughts and actions will be in our given circumstances.
     Just as the creator of a Goldberg machine understands the laws of gravity, friction, lift, etc., God also perfectly understands the laws of nature, the nature of the devil, and the natural dispositions of all individuals.  Adam and Eve were placed in an uncorrupted realm, and given physical bodies that could only become corruptible through their choices.  He knew that the devil would tempt His children, and He knew that our progenitors would make the decisions that they did.  He set up conditions in such a way that His plan would be able to be carried out exactly as He intended.
     The Fall was not a mistake.  No power on Earth or in Hell can frustrate the plans of God.  We live in an imperfect, mortal world for a divine purpose.

And now, OK Go:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Anyone seen a piano bench leg on SR240?

In order to transport all of our belongings from Washington to Utah, we decided to rent a small U-Haul trailer; we thought this a better option than having 6 of our friends each take a share in their cars as we did moving home.  On our way out of town, a lady yelled at us on the highway to tell us that our trailer was open.  I pulled over immediately and was relieved to find out that apparently nothing had fallen out.

It was not until several days after moving in that we realized we only had 3 legs for our piano bench.

Apparently one of the legs (which we detached to save space in transit) did not make it.  So if you see a black rectangular prism of wood on SR-240 between Richland and Kennewick, please let me know.  Until then, the cone is working out pretty well.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Minutes and Seconds

I don't know what the significant of "Minutes" is, but Seconds is the name of my dog.  He is some sort of mix between a German Shepherd and a Boxer.  He may have some Labrador in him as well, but we're not sure.  He is about 8 years old now, 9 in October.  That makes him a senior citizen in dog years.  He could belong to the AARC.  Maybe we can get discounts at PetSmart.

Seconds was named because he was the only puppy in his litter to routinely return to his mother for seconds during feeding time.  He has been through many stages since we got him at 8 weeks.  He has weighed as much as at least 88 lbs, though now he is back down to about 75.  He loves to play tug-of-war with a deflated basketball or football and go for long walks.  He lies around most of the time, but he gets pretty excited when visitors come over.  We have been having a lot of fun introducing him to new people and he definitely enjoys the attention.

Here is a picture of him in his new dog house.  It looks pretty small from this angle (especially because Seconds is taking up the whole doorway), but he fits in the house quite well and spends most of his nights there:

Here he is travelling from Washington to Utah in the back of my mom's little SUV:
He loves to play tug-of-war, like I said, but fetch is not his strong suit:
Oh, well.  You gotta love him.  And we're excited to have him.  =)

Back to the Y

Summer time is the worst time for me to be on top of things. But now we're back to the grindstone and we finally got internet installed in our new home.

Here is a long update told in a less long fashion:

I worked for the ARC during the summer. I was a counselor/driver for children ages 7-21 or so. Most all of the kids had some kind of disability and so it was a completely new experience for me. The ARC offers door-to-door service for about 100 children for their summer camp program and so every counselor is either a driver or a ride-along helper.

I got to drive a large VanPool vehicle with a wheelchair lift for which I was required to receive special training from the Ben-Franklin Transit. Each day, I spent 4 hours driving and 4 hours with children that needed a lot of attention. In the end, it was a lot of work, emotion draining, and fun. I would not trade the experience for anything. I grew a lot and understand now a lot more about disabilities; I am also more comfortable around people with disabilities.

After work, Kira and I had many chances to go swimming, play tennis, and visit with family and friends. Our plethora of family kept us busy almost every day. After my last day of work, I went with Kira's family to the Oregon coast for a few days. And then, all at once, the summer was over.

A caveat on the summer:
We spent almost every day throughout the summer taking care of my dog from high school, Seconds. At first, we would visit Seconds at my dad's house or pick him up and take him to Kira's house for the day. My dad is preparing to sell his house, so the dog moved to my sister's boyfriend's house just outside of town. We couldn't visit as often because the drive was a little longer, but they have two other dogs and he was happy there for a month or so. Seconds is why we are now renting a house instead of returning to our old apartment. He is adjusting to the change of being an outside-only dog, but I think he is happy that we are here to play with him. We finally got him a doghouse this week and we are excited that he is using it.

Now that school has started, life is not too much different than it was before. Graduate school feels like undergraduate school except I only need 12 credits each semester instead of 15. I am a TA for a class I took in the Winter and an RA for an Economics professor. I like learning, but I cannot help but feel like a super-senior. I already graduated but I still have two years of classes to take before I can get into a decent PhD program (I am hoping for the University of Chicago, but I shy away from saying it out loud).

Welcome back!

Werds- welcome back

The Washington Post again teamed up with Mensa to publish readers' submissions of words to which one letter was added, subtracted, or replaced and the resulting definitions.
 Here are my top ten:
10. Cashtration- The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
9. Intaxicaton- Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
8. Reintarnation- Coming back to life as a  hillbilly.
7. Bozone- The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Giraffiti- Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Testickle- A humorous question on an exam.
4. Karmageddon- It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
3. Dopeler Effect- The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

2. Sarchasm- The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

1. Beelzebug- Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out (in my humble opinion, any mosquito fits the title).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

2011 Chevy Volt

This is for an ad project I did last semester with a small group.  My main contribution was to create the actual ads (I love Adobe Photoshop).  Please enjoy the ads, and feel free to ignore the typos. =)

The Book contains all the details of the project from the research to the arbitrary allocation of fake money. The bottom line is that regular people do not like hybrids because of the negative stereotype associated with the cars; i.e., hybrid drivers are often pompous, "holier-than-thou" D-bags whom we all want to punch in the face though we are too cool ourselves to actually give them the pleasure of our fists in their mouths.

I apologize if you are a hybrid driver.  I mean no offence to you as an individual, but you must know that when people realize you drive a hybrid, this is how they are thinking about you...

The focus of our campaign is to counteract this stereotype and show commuters that the Chevy Volt is a practical alternative to other hybrids.

Here are the ads:
Two print ads for magazines:

People think most about their commute--and the parts they want to change--while they are actually travelling to and from work.  At the bus stop, we wanted to give commuters an opportunity to consider more comfortable alternatives to public transit; we wanted to give them a chance to see themselves in a hybrid.

At the gas pump is when commuters contemplate the Benjamins drained on gasoline.

And although gasoline and natural gas are not technically the same thing, we call them the same word so we may get away with inserting this mailer into the monthly gas bill.

*All images of the Chevy Volt and the Chevy Bowtie are used without permission, but are strictly for educational purposes in association with this ad project.  Don't try and reuse these as you might get me in trouble.  Thanks.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Back in the TC

Hello!  After two and a half weeks of vacation and travelling (not always the same thing), we are finally back in the Tri-cities.
Photo obtained from the Archives at www.crsingles.org
It's good to be home.  Kira and I are both excited to have a summer in the hometowns, and to spend time with family and friends that we normally do not get to see.  This weekend, I celebrated my birthday.  I was able to have dinner with each family and a campfire roast with some buddies that I haven't seen in years.  It is the best I have felt in several semesters.

And the trip to California was good.  We got to spend some quality time with our friends, Mark and Jasmine Sawyer; my brother got married and we were able to be there to support and love them; and we went to Disneyland twice!  The bad news is that we spent a decent chunk of savings on the trip and are still without jobs.  But it is summer vacation and we are trying to enjoy the beautiful weather and the time away from school and the bustle of Utah Valley.  I am sure that we will find jobs soon, or that we will otherwise be just fine in the end.  Grad school starts in the fall, and I am sure that we will need to incur a small amount of debt anyway.  I think we just need to focus our attention now on surviving the next two years of life--and taking advantage of every moment we can in a place we may not be able to always call home.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rohn on Self-control

Here is a quick quote that I came across.  I want to thank Heidi Hill for continuing to forward inspirational quotes like this to her family and friends.
“One of the early signs of sophistication is not giving way to all inclinations, but rather, sending your emotions to school so they will learn how to behave.”
Jim Rohn

Sunday, April 25, 2010


My wife and I have been thinking about getting a Nintendo Wii for a short while now.  I want a Wii so that I can play all my favorite Mario games on one machine; e.g., Super Mario Bros. 3 from NES; Super Mario World, Yoshi's Island, and Super Mario RPG from SNES; Super Mario 64; New Super Mario Bros. for DS; and, of course, Super Mario Galaxy and New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii--not to mention some Mario Tennis, MarioKart, and Super Mario Party games.  The title picture of this blog may slightly indicate how serious I am about this.
When discussing possible future purchases, we repeatedly mention both a Wii and a new TV (we got our old TV for free and we fear that it may stop working at any time).  Just last night, however, we realized that we will soon be moving to a house that has a TV, and it does not make sense to buy a new TV now if we're going to almost immediately put it in storage for a year.  So we started seriously to look at a Wii, and the timing could not have been more perfect.

The retail price for the Wii has fallen from about $250 to $200 since it was first released in the US in 2006.  New games sell for $50; older and less popular games sell for between $20 and $30.  A controller (or Wii-mote--clever, huh?) sells for $28 and the nun-chuck addition sells for another $18.

Last night, a Wii was posted on KSL.com for $300--the offer included: a) the Wii, b) two controllers with nun-chucks, c) a charging dock for the controller batteries, d) Super Smash Bros.-Brawl, e) MarioKart Wii, f) Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, g) Big Brain Academy, h) Zelda: Twilight Princess, and g) Wii Sports.

I'll let you do the math if you would like, but the summary is: this is a great deal.

We called the seller right away and learned that she had received numerous calls already from people saying they could pick up the Wii tonight--apparently she did not realize how good the deal was.  She had decided to sell to the person that could pick up the machine the soonest (first come-first served).  Luckily, my lovely wife only works until noon.  She was able to drive right over and pick it up.

Let the games begin...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Plant Vocab- Botany

BONUS: Today is a special 10 New Words of the Day day. In recent readings, I have come across many plant terms. I do not know anything about botany, so I decided that that best way for me to define a plant is via one thousand words--or equivalently, a picture*.

Here are your 16 new words of the day:
  1. myrtle-
  2. hyacinth-
  3. wisteria-
  4. oleander-
  5. sphagnum (peat moss)-
  6. hellebore-
  7. foxglove-
  8. euphorbia (this is actually one of the most diverse genera in the plant kingdom; here are some examples of the over 2,000 species)-

  9. sorrel-
  10. marjoram (this is a spice with sweet pine and citrus flavors)-
  11. lichens-
  12. taro-
  13. linden-
  14. banyan (the strangler fig)-
  15. sumac-
  16. fireweed-

*all images obtained from wikipedia.org