Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Recent recipes we've turned chocolate:
Graham Crackers and Milk
Look, we're all going to eat sugar. That's a given. What I'm saying is, if you're going to do it anyway, it might as well be in a worthwhile form. In 1999, the average American drank 53 gallons of soda pop! 53 Gallons! That a garbage can full! 2.3 cups a day. And that's average. There are people like me who maybe drank a gallon during the entire year--What are people drinking to keep that stat so high? On the other hand, in 2001 Americans ate about 10 lbs of chocolate per person and I'm sure I probably eat three times that much chocolate, so while truck drivers, soccer moms, and construction workers keep soda consumption high, I'm doing my part for the chocolate average. Still, we've got nothing on Europe. 16 of the top 20 chocolate consuming nations are from the continent, and the top chocolateering country--Switzerland at 22.36 lbs. per year, or about one ounce per day--more than doubles our average. Now...what group would you rather be in? The group that drinks 2.3 cups of soda every day, or the group that eats an ounce of chocolate everyday? Yeah, me too.
The other night I realized we have come up with just about every possible solution for getting us and our stuff to Ohio. There just seems to be difficulty moving 2 adults 2 young kids, 1 Ford wagon, and a house full of stuff 1800 miles on a soon to be Grad student budget. Here's a few ideas.
1) Sell lots of stuff. (that's not really an option). Rent a u-haul and drive along with us, 2 in the car, 2 in the truck. 1 screaming 8 month old.
2) Sell LOS. Get a u-pack truck, we pack it-they move it. 4 in the car. 1 screaming 8 month old with more attention from a non-driving parent.
3) SLOS. Joey and Callan drive a u-haul. Melissa and Nolan fly. 1 bored 3 yr old. 1 fairly happy 8 month old. Ship the car? Sell the car? Tow the car?
4) SLOS. Get a u-pack truck. Ditch the car. Amtrak it for 40 hrs without a mention of the word driving.
5) SLOS. Rent a RV. Tow the car, Make a vacation out of it. Pay TONS of money in gas.
6) SLOS. Bum rides off the BYU ride board.
7) still SLOS. Hitch Hike. Thumbs up!
As it got later the ideas tended toward cheaper but more insane. This is by far the best option so far:
Sell lots of stuff at that garage sale. Rent a U-haul. Joey and a friend drive it and tow the car. Melissa, Callan and Nolan fly to Ohio after Joey's arrived safely, unloaded the truck, cleaned the house and unpacked all the boxes.
Sounds like a plan to me!
Monday, May 28, 2007
The Best Brownie Recipe...Ever!
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup melted butter 2 cups white sugar
2 eggs 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration (lose this and frost the brownies, who wants a little powder sugar when you can have fudge frosting?
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line one 9x13 inch pan with greased parchment paper. Combine the cocoa, melted butter, sugar, eggs, salt , flour and vanilla. Mix until well combined. It should be very thick and sticky. (Joey's note, its better with Chocolate chips in it too.) Spread mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
I actually had a a classical CD once called "The Most Relaxing Classical Album in the World...Ever!" The title even included the ellipses and the exclamation point, which seemed kind of cheeky for a classical musical collection. And I must say, in terms of relaxation, that CD definitely did the job, but...ever?...come on...how can you even measure that? Superlatives are doomed from the start, because once something becomes the biggest, fastest, smallest, richest then people start wanting to top it. Not only are they doomed from the start, but they are almost always not true. Everything being subjective, nothing can truly be superlative.
For our picnic today we went to a large park in Orem built just east of I-15 and south of the Walmart. There are two wading pools, plenty of green space, a playground, a scattering of picnic benches, and a large rotating swing (that in my opinion is too heavy to be any fun at all). It was windy, as you can see, but Callan wanted to get into the water, so right before we left, we let him play for a while. When it was time to go he said he wanted to keep playing. "We thought you might be getting too cold," said mom. Callan looked at us and said, "I'm getting too cold," and he hopped out.
We spent the rest of the evening putting kids to bed, and working on the house.
On Saturday we took Melissa's parents and little sister to the Airport and spent the day in Salt Lake.
We visited the LDS Church history Museum where Callan spent almost 30 minutes changing, weighing, dressing, and carrying baby dolls in the "I am a child of God exhibit," and Nolan sat on a giant ABC rug and took his turn holding the dolls.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
"Harman's Cafe?" I said to my wife, wondering why Colonel Sanders' face was on some random cafe's signboard. Somewhere in my memory I knew that the first KFC had been in Utah, and somewhere in my mind I knew that I was probably starring right at it, but the new building next to the old sign threw me off just enough to make me unsure.
"See there," my wife said, pointing to a smalller, chicken-bucket-shaped sign that read, "World's First Kentucky Fried Chicken." I wondered allowed to my wife why the KFC people had chosen to build a cookie cutter strip-mall reject of a store on the site of what must have been the old restaurant. Certainly the old store had more character than the stuccoed shoebox in front of us. In fact, it did, if you consider dated brick facades, and dingy parking lots "character." According to a Desert News article that covered the demolitions of the old store, the owners said "we wanted to upgrade it and build a modern KFC there. We wanted it to be attractive for our customers."
Image courtesy Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press (borrowed with the utmost integrity and all due credit from Desertnews.com) for educational use only, so I hope you're learning something
According to the exhausting (not to be confused with exhaustive) history at KFC.com, the original KFC franchise was purchased by Salt Lake City businessman Pete Harman in 1952. Harman apparently was the brain child behind the chicken bucket, a masterpiece of marketing without which you and I might have to order our extra crispy chicken in a box, or worse, one of those plastic bags that grocery store chicken comes in. Anyway, Harman and the Colonel got into the business and you and I know the rest of the story--thousands of stores, billions of dollars in profits, and just recently, zero gallons of trans fat oil.
Douglas Pizac of the Associated press took this fantastic picture of the old building on an overcast April Wednesday in 2004, and I wonder if Pizac really works for the AP, or if he's a DNews photographer, or if he was just some guy with a camera. Once Melissa took a picture of me for a DNews article and the DNews credited the AP with her photograph.
According to KFC.com, you can get a bucket of finger-licken chicken in 80 countries around the world. I've been to an international KFC twice, both times in Japan, and both times I did not eat. The first trip occured while serving as a missionary for The LDS church in Japan. My mission companion and I had been meeting with a semi-recluse man in his 30's who had a smoking problem. We challenged him to quit, and offered to buy him dinner if he kicked the habit by New Years day, which was three weeks away. At the end of three weeks, we took him to KFC to celebrate. I told him we only had 1000 yen (about 10$) to spend (not a lot for three people to eat out on, especially in Japan). I figured he would take this to mean that he ought to choose something that was about 33o yen, so we could all get something. He didn't take it that way. He ordered a meal that cost 700 yen. We lied and said we weren't hungry.
Monday, May 21, 2007
I walked into Callan’s room the other night to put a very wiggly, very sleepy Nolan into his bed (and no, in Nolan’s case wiggly and sleepy are not mutually exclusive), and Callan was on the floor in a heap of blankets and stuffed animals. He was awake, and after putting Nolan in his crib, I asked Callan why he was on the floor. “’Cause it’s better,” is all he said, and he rolled over.
I don't know if the influence is coming from his year in Japan sleeping in the floor, or if he genuinely thinks the floor is better, but last night he pulled the same thing, and I thought he was going to fall asleep on the floor, but about a half hour after I closed his door, he came out into the living room wearing a very sleepy face and said, "the bed is too hot and the floor is too uncomfortable."
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Callan is asleep (in bed, lights out, fading fast), Nolan is fed (several spoonfuls of rice cereal that ended up mostly on his bib and his seat), Melissa is grocery shopping (weaving through the crowds of twentysomethings clogging the isles at Macey’s) and I am enjoying a little quiet time in front of my laptop. Quiet seems a scarce resource, and not entirely a welcome one. Sure, I like my “peace and quiet,” but just quiet—there are few things more irritating than an unsettled quiet. Quiet must always be accompanied by peace to be inviting. The quiet in our home when my wife and I are upset at each other, or the quiet in a stadium after the home team loses, or the quiet in a room when you pass gas, or the quiet of a dark street in an unfamiliar neighborhood--these are quiets I could do without. The un-peaceful quiet can be suffocating, the audio equivalent of a stuffy room. When I find myself stuck in un-peaceful quiet, I must find the radio, usually NPR.
Radio and Television have sedated the sufferers of un-peaceful quiet for decades. My own father could not work without the television on. I remember carrying the television around the house for him—into the bathroom while he replaced shower tiles; into the garage while he fixed our Buick’s transmission; into the living room while he lay sick on the couch. When Most of the local radio stations tout their ability to “help you get through the workday,” suggesting that many of us work in an unpeaceful quiet. How many of us spend the day in an office, or a job site, or in a car, surrounded by a quiet we can’t bear. Landscapers, carpenters, delivery drivers, factory workers, office workers all turn on their radio for the comfort of sound.
Good quiet, the quiet of a forest, the early morning quiet of a neighborhood, the quiet on the freeway on Christmas morning, the quiet in a home just before bed, the quiet of restaurant, the quiet of sleep, can be the most pleasant kind of noise.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Perhaps the more intriguing question lies in the reality that NO phrase is running through my son’s mind when he tries to put my tie, his foot, a napkin, the dog, his shirt sleeve into his mouth—no question, no curiosity that can be labeled linguistically—because he has no language. Without the development of language he doesn’t speak to himself internally as I am doing now as I type this entry. He works on a completely different cognitive approach, one you and I once experienced, but have long forgotten. Certainly we knew the sensation of curiosity, and somehow we internalized the information, but it wasn’t with language, certainly not how we do it now. What goes through his mind as he brings a plastic spoon or a piece of paper to his mouth? What pure curiosity, disentangled from language, drives his mouthing everything?
It makes sense that I cannot find words to describe what words were never meant to describe. Like a fish trying to describe water, or you and me trying to describe air, a baby only knows the world as it registers on a tactile, physical, emotional, level that I cannot comprehend, because I have language. I doubt the ability is gone; rather it has been so covered, intermingled, and tied to language that I can’t separate them anymore. Language lies on the reflex spectrum somewhere between breathing, which we can only momentarily stop, and beating our heart, an action so reflexive that it has no transitive verb form that doesn’t sound funny. The epitome of behavioral development, language becomes some such an intrinsic part of who we are and how we see the world that we can’t help but use it. Try staring at this page and only see shapes. Can’t do it, can you? Okay, how about just disorganized letters? Not a chance. Even words we do not know appear familiar and our mind tries desperately to read them. In bizarre linguistic anthropomorphism, we try to attach our own preconceived notions of grammar to the foreign language, notions that were conceived in our infancy, notions that lead the typical American to pronounce karaoke “Carry-o-key,” instead of the Japanese pronunciation Ka-ra-oh-ke. Then language must be partially responsible for the gradual discontinuance of mouthing. We have learned to experience our world through language long enough, have built enough internal connections, relations, and associations, all attached to language, that we no longer need to bring a credit card ad to our mouth to experience it, we have an entire archive of language and symbols with which to interpret it and all the other junk mail that comes in the box. There is no novelty in texture, no thrill in new flavor, no excitement in sound—just more junk mail, and we toss it in the garbage, glad to be rid of it.
And the processes that Nolan experiences—where will they go? Where are they going? Language has already begun its slow, inevitable dominance of his brain. The inexplicable joy he experiences inserting a teething biscuit into his mouth never expresses itself in language, but he still manages to express it. But someday, language will assume control of everything, and he will forever be doomed to reliance on language, a construct of our collective minds, designed to translate those first sensations into extractable, transmittable bits of information, that only begin to describe metaphorically what we each experience individually, separately, that we can never fully express to anyone.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
I graduated from BYU three weeks ago. In just under three months we'll pack up and drive 27 hours to Athens, Ohio to start a masters degree in English and creative writing at Ohio Univerisity.
Nolan thought my Diploma was delicious.