Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion


Lately I've been thinking a bit about the sensation of hunger. How rare it is that I go very long feeling hungry without being able to immediately eat something to satisfy me at least to the point of no longer being uncomfortable. And then I think about the times that I fast and how, at times, it's difficult to concentrate on anything else other than NOT being able to eat.

And then I wonder about those who do not have the blessing of always having food within their reach, and how miserable that must be. It must be incredibly difficult to function when that fundamental need of nourishment isn't being met.

And then it makes me happy to work where I do (the BANK of FOOD in UTAH... I've learned that if I type it all together that the PR girl can run a search and find out where it's being posted and I'd rather them not read my blog). I am able to spend my 40 hours a week trying to meet that fundamental need for people, even if it's somewhat indirectly at times.

That being said, I'd like to invite you all to an event coming up this Friday, September 5th. The Summer Hunger Jam is a free hunger awareness concert at the Gateway (near the fountain) from 6pm-9pm. The headliners are Nancy Hanson and Nathan Osmond so it'll be pretty hokey, but if you need to shop or are looking for something to do (or are looking for ME) then come on over.

...Unless you're in my ward and female. In that case you're cordially invited to attend Enrichment that night, and if I see your face at the concert I'll bounce you.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The milkman, the paperboy, evening TV.

Do you like pictures? Here's hopin'. I now present to you a highly visual account of my week in San Francisco.

I met my co-worker and traveling companion Linda at the airport Sunday morning. Our flight departed at 8:30am-ish. This was my view as our plane started moving.


These colorful chunks of the salt flats confused me. What exactly are they farming out there? Red and green sea monkeys for Christmas time? Anyone with a real answer to this is encouraged to leave a comment and end my wondering.


They tell me that the earth is round, but for whatever reason I'm still fascinated when I see the curvature of it for myself.


Our landing was uneventful. We found ourselves a shuttle and shared it with a tall young man with a deep southern accent. Further conversation revealed that he was an major league baseball umpire and was there to umpire the game between the Oakland A's and the Chicago White Sox. He looked about my age (the youngest in the league, he informed us) and he told us that umpire training camp is a lot like boot camp: they yell at you a lot to build up your nerves. I always thought professional umpires and referees must be the most depressed and dejected people ever, but this fellow was quite chipper. I ALMOST asked to get a picture of him, but thought that would creep him out.

After we dropped the umpire off our driver started to chat with us a bit. When he found out we were from Salt Lake he asked if we were Mormon, to which Linda remained silent (she isn't, and has a bit of a chip on her shoulder sometimes about it) and I told him that I was. He then told me about how beautiful the new Oakland temple is and that every time he has friends come in from India that he takes them to the LDS visitors center there, and then takes them to HIS temple where they let EVERYONE in, unlike the LDS temple. He then asked me how many wives Mitt Romney has. I wished I had gotten off with the umpire at the baseball stadium.

We got to our hotel, which I'll show you more of in a second. They wouldn't let us officially check in until 3pm and we were there around 10:45am, so I dropped my bag off and headed toward the trains. In an effort to not have to spend an entire day sightseeing with a co-worker (who isn't my first choice of companionship) I decided I was going to find my way to church in San Francisco. It just so happened that the only meeting in the area that started later was a singles ward.

I hopped on a train heading in the right direction and swiftly realized that though I was on the right train and had the address I needed to stop at that I hadn't the foggiest idea how far that would be. So I started to send secret hopes into the heavens that somehow I'd figure out which stop was mine, and no sooner had I started to panic that a kid in a suit, tie, and suspiciously-scripture-shaped luggage got on the train and sat across from me. I said a silent prayer of thanks and summoned my courage and asked if he was LDS, and he was. He also happened to be a YSA headed to the same church I was, so I asked if I could just follow him there. He turned out to be the choir director of the ward, and he let me join in their choir practice while I waited for church to start. The ward was incredibly friendly and I very much enjoyed my Sunday.

One thing I like about San Francisco is that it is full of characters. This girl, for instance. I was waiting for my train back to the hotel when I was joined by this girl dressed in a medieval dress and a head-to-toe green crushed-velvet cape. I was hungry and tempted to ask her for some lembas bread, but decided against it. But I did try to sneakily take a picture and this is all I got.


Another thing I love about San Francisco is how entertaining people are on the streets. Here's some footage of a very talented group of guys who I saw on my way back from church:


video

One thing I do NOT love about S.F. is the humidity. My nice and straightened hair when I left Salt Lake had turned into this mess of a mane by the end of the day. Note the expression of amused disgust on my face:


Here's a picture of our humble accommodations. The Union Square Plaza Hotel is a remodeled boarding house. You know in the movie Big where Tom Hanks first runs away from home and takes up residence in a seedy downtown hotel? It kind of reminded me of that.

The sign:


The front door:

The view from our fifth floor looking down the stairs:


The view out the window:


I was in S.F. in the first place to train on a software that my employer uses to maintain records, so that's what the bulk of my week was spent doing (from 9am - 5pm each day). Monday after training we decided to walk from our training facility to Fisherman's Wharf. Here's a creepy circus being advertised during our walk. Wouldn't YOU want to come play?


Fisherman's Wharf turned out to be a touristy mall. I don't love shopping, so I was a bit disappointed.


The sealions even disappointed. Not a ONE balanced ANYTHING on his nose.


The clam chowder in the sourdough breadbowl, however, did not disappoint.


From the Wharf we walked further down the water to Ghiradelli square. What's that, I asked? More shopping, it turns out. But there was an abundance of stores that offered the namesake chocolate that is so popular.

The little girl playing peek-a-boo in line with me while I waited to purchase my goods.


My chocolate overdose, with my coworker Linda in the background with hers.


At this point I had my fill of the tourist bit for one evening, but Linda insisted that we wait the hour in line to ride a trolly. So we waited.


This man entertained us while we waited. For whatever reason I was incredibly touched by the contrast between his destitute appearance and the richness of his voice and his talent. It made me wish I could get him to a different state of life where he could impress a whole lot more people than the masses at the trolley stop. But, maybe he really digs it there, who knows. This is a bit of his song (I'm sorry about the people talking rather loudly in the background. I was able to tune them out, but apparently my camera wasn't):

video

We finally got on our trolley (in the middle crammed by people and without a view because it was dark), and it promptly broke down about ten minutes into our ride. We were ushered off the trolley onto a shuttle bus to take us the rest of the way, and the bus bottomed out pretty hard in one intersection and threw us all violently forward into each other. As we finally got off the bus the back doors closed on Linda as she was trying to get off. She eventually admitted that maybe the trolley wasn't the best of ideas.

Though exhausted by the many miles of walking, I was pleased with my purchases:


The next day after training we explored Chinatown. Here was the gate:


And, here are the souveniers I chose for my roommates. They're pencil erasers. And I couldn't stop laughing at them:


We stopped at one of the many Chinese food restaurants (or, in this context, just plain restaurants) and ate some of the real stuff. Turns out I prefer the fake stuff... but here's a shot of me eating my Mongolian beef and rice:


There was some kind of drama going on between the owner of the restaurant and this shady-lookin' guy in the background of the following picture in the leather jacket. All I know is he came in and there was a heated exchange before the owner finally gave the leather-jacket guy a fistful of money and retreated back to the kitchen. This is a (sneaky) shot of the leather jacket guy, victorious, counting his money:


The next morning Linda called me and informed me that she found bugs in her bed and that she was arranging for us to switch hotels. This made me grumpy because I thought our hotel was just fine (though a little run down) and we DO work for a non-profit organization, so what does she expect? However, before long I found myself being magically whisked away from the old hotel to this beauty:



This is my room. It is way more impressive in person:



I spent the whole time during training fuming at the fact that we were now costing the organization $300 a night instead of $89, because the money could surely used for better causes than my comfort. But my guilt eventually was removed by other co-workers at work via email during the training, and eventually I decided to embrace my comforts since there wasn't anything I could do about it:


At this point I think Linda was pretty tired of me and I had sure had my fill of her, so for Wednesday and Thursday nights we kind of did our own thing and didn't venture far from the hotel. We did go hunt for ice cream together to celebrate the fact that we were going home the next day, because at that point both of us were DONE and ready to go home.



Though I really enjoyed San Francisco as a city and vacation destination, I think I'll enjoy it more when I have more time to explore and friends to be with. So, for now, I was happy to leave it behind and get back to my loved ones in boring ol' West Valley.


And that was my trip. More than anything it made me decide that if I ever become homeless that I'm headed to S.F. because I'll be in good (and talented) company.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ding Ding!

I'm leaving tomorrow morning on a business trip. I promise to document it well and will tell my tales when I return. In the meantime, here's a fairly obvious hint at my destination:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wend-ding

Before I begin with the topic at hand, I'd like to thank you all for the memories posted in the last post. Every single one of them made me smile and/or chuckle out loud. Cookies all around!

This past Saturday one of my dearest friends Wendy Whitaker became Wendy Larson. Most of those who read this blog regularly are acquainted with her, so these pictures are for you! Those who don't, well... read on anyway. You may find yourself amused nonetheless.

It was a pleasantly overcast day at the Mount Timpanogos Temple. This was supposed to be more artistic of a shot, but instead it's just the view you would have if you passed out in a flowerbed on the temple grounds.


The sealing was beautiful and happy (as sealings are wont to be). Then there were pictures outside of the temple:


The happy couple:


This is Sam and I. Sam is Dave's best friend. These are the faces we made upon the prompt of "seductive winks". With such powers it amazes us that we're the single ones.


We made our way to the wedding luncheon to find Wendy's siblings using the M&Ms on the table to bet on anything and everything they could. Such bets included the exact time Wendy and Dave would arrive at the luncheon, whether or not Wendy would eat everything on her plate, and how many speeches would be made at the event.


Upon closer inspection these were no ordinary M&Ms...


To complete our juvenile behavior, we used the tiny champagne glasses (no longer full of M&Ms) to toast to the newlyweds.


The reception was beautiful as well, and I saw many familiar faces. After their honeymoon Dave and Wendy are moving to Hawaii to work and live... and to find me a handsome Polynesian boy. Congrats to them!