Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Video films

I found this page of 99 videos that everyone should have seen. I went through them all, and I probably had seen more than half. I thought I'd add to the list.

I Met the Walrus

Le Cheval

Kid gets hit in head with basketball

Polish or latvian or russian or lithuanian dive

Large Hadron Rap

Cow abduction

The Schwarzenegger Conspiracy

Gerald Ford Is Dead

Extras - Wizard! You shall not pass!

Comb over expert


All things Terry Tate



Sunday, March 29, 2009

Elizabeth's Point of View

My sister posted something on her blog about some of the hilarious antics of her 2 year old son. This inspired us to compile a short list of some of the funny things Elizabeth has said lately. She just turned 3 a few weeks ago, by the way.

A few weeks ago, Katie was reading a book to Beth. The book was about a little fish that learned how to share and be nice so he could make friends. Katie asked her, "Do you know how to share?" Elizabeth said, "No." Then Katie said, "Maybe if we learn how to share, we will be able to make more friends." Elizabeth said, "Mommy, I not a fish."
The day after Timothy’s birthday, Katie noticed Elizabeth playing with the salad bowl. Elizabeth had crayons in the bowl and was using the salad servers to "toss" the crayons. Katie assumed that she was pretending to make a salad and said, "What are you making?" Beth answered, "Making treats for Timmy’s birfday." Katie said, "That’s nice of you, what kind of treats are you making?" Elizabeth said, "Timmy likes to eat crayons." So here Katie thought she was pretending, when Beth was actually preparing crayons to feed to Timmy, which he really does like to eat.
Sometimes Elizabeth talks back to Katie using the same language Katie uses. She sometimes says, "Mommy, you driving me crazy!"
Elizabeth out of the blue one day said, "Daddy, I a little bit scared." We know she knows what "scared" means because she told us she was scared of Santa Claus. On Christmas morning, she wouldn’t go downstairs because we told her that Santa had brought presents. She remembered Santa Claus from the Ward Christmas Party and my work Christmas party – in both instances she wouldn’t even look at him because he was so terrifying. Anyway, I was genuinely concerned when I said, "What are you scared of?" She said, "I a little bit afraid." I said, "What are you afraid of?" (I was a little impressed that she knows both words.) She said, "I afraid of elephants." Katie and I raised our eyebrows and looked at each other and at her without saying anything for a few seconds. Katie said, "What do you mean?" Elizabeth repeated, "I afraid of elephants." Then Katie said, "Where are the elephants? Did you see an elephant?" Beth said, "Elephants outside." Katie said, "Then I guess we’ll just stay inside." Beth said, "Okay," apparently satisfied. What’s even stranger is that she will tell us that she is afraid of elephants every few days. Each time she is satisfied with either, "Let’s stay inside then," or "Elephants are our friends." She has seen elephants on videos, but she has seen a live elephant once. They were doing elephant rides at the greenhouse/nursery about a year ago and we stopped to look at the elephant. Elizabeth was definitely afraid of the elephant then, but it really surprises us that she remembers and that she brings it up so often

P.S. Nick: that other blog on my profile is the my parents' and siblings' blog. It wouldn't be of much interest to you.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Company X Unmasked!

For some who have been doggedly harassing me to reveal the identity of company X (the company with which I interviewed 5 times), your long wait is finally over!
The reason I waited to tell anybody is because I had a fun way I was going to announce it. You see, working at company X was my dream job. I was going to wait until April 1st, and announce that I had finally been offered my dream job and list all the things that is great about the job and how it lined up perfectly with my "perfect job" that I had in mind for years. Well, those jack-holes chose someone else a few weeks ago and it has taken me this long to get over it and let it go. So, with no further adieu, I give you my dream job:

Location: West Maui
Company: Maui Preparatory Academy (a private school)
Job: Start up the AP physics and AP calculus programs there. Small classes (under 10), many mandatory field trips (like to Boston, San Fran, Japan, etc.), I would get to build the lab equipment, possibly teach another class like astronomy, chemistry, etc., be a mentor to a group of about 10 kids, school is about 5 blocks from the beach...
Other Perks: I would get to coach cross country and track. Lucy could attend private school (starting at preschool) for FREE. Jenny would have been able to teach a few senior English or Literature classes part-time. I could have led clubs like the astronomy clubs (taking trips to the HUGE telescopes on the big island), ultimate club, etc..

I'm still blinking back tears as I write this.

The only draw-back was housing expenses, but I've been tracking the housing market there for 4 months now, and it has dropped along with the rest of the country, so we might have been able to buy a tiny house there. Tiny would be ok there since the weather is such that your yard becomes an extension of the house.

And just think of the garden I could have had! Year round tomatos, lettuce, onions, carrots.... just about year round EVERYTHING.

And then the whole joke on April fools day is that everyone would have thought it was a joke! And then, on April 2nd, I'd fess up and say something like "Ok, ok! Aprils fools! Just kidding! I really won't be able to coach Ultimate Frisbee there since they don't even have a team!" And everyone would be like "Uh... so it wasn't an april fools joke?" and I'd be all "Boo-ya!".

Curse you company X! Ruined a perfectly good April fools joke.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Poor Little Former Investment Bankers.

If you're me (which you are not, but go with me here), you might be amused by all the hardship stories that seem to be pretty popular on all the online news sites like cnn.com, foxnews.com, msnbc.com and so forth. These regularly have headlines like:
"Family eating on $300 a month"
"Couple goes from Malibu swank to trailer living"
"Struggling on unemployment after $100k/yr"
Or, the current lead story on cnn:
"Humbled banker parts with yuppie past"

Can I just say for all of us "experienced" unemployed people: Puhhlease! (by experienced, I mean experienced AT being unemployed, though the other interpretation works well too). Its so silly to see all these articles about rich people who are now "poor". Oh no! You lost your 100k/yr job? And now you only get a few thousand per month in unemployment? And you didn't think to save any of those hundreds of thousands of dollars? Oh the humanity! You can't eat out every night now and have to actually (gulp) "cook" your own food? Whatever shall you poor people do? You have to sell your 3rd car to pay your utilities? Seriously, are the writers at these news sites THAT out of touch that they think these stories of rich people losing their jobs is going to elicit interest or tears on the part of people who are facing, oh you know, ACTUAL hardship? And I don't even place ourselves in the actual hardship category, I mean, we eat very well (less than 200/month, but we cook gourmet dinners almost every night), we manage to scrape enough together for health insurance, and we have managed to meet our mortgage payments. We don't save much, but our house is kind of an investment (ha!). So how is it a major news story that the Johnsons have miraculously managed to cut their food budget down to $300/month?

On another note, I just read a story about how a.)the Obama's planted a vegetable garden at the white house, and b.)how many Americans are planting gardens to save money. On part a, this has to be the first thing the Obama's have done that I really approve of, heck it even makes me like the guy a little. They're doing it to set an example of eating food produced near your home- something I approve of wholeheartedly. As for part b, they've got it all wrong. As much as I love my garden, saving money is not a reason to plant one. They are for having your own fresh source of food that is 10 times better than anything you can buy at the store, and for the relaxing and aesthetic aspect. Again, stupid online content writers (though I suppose the extra 19% of Americans who started gardening this year are being silly too.)


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Garden Journal 4.1

Behold the Birthday Tomato Greenhouse in all its majestic and glorious majesty and glory!

For the ill-informed, my goal this year is to pick a tomato from my garden on my birthday, June 11th, cut it into slices, and eat it most merrily, juice dribbling down my chin a full two months before I had tomatos last year.

I built the greenhouse by shoving the ends of 10' lengths of pvc pipe into the dirt and bending them over to make a frame, over which I taped a heavy gauge painters plastic (2 mils). All the materials cost around $10. Christmas lights were laid on the soil, contributing to a drunken, sensual, party atmosphere to encourage the tomato plants to... be fruitful, and also to provide some heat at night so they don't freeze or go dormant (which is what happens when you plant them before it gets hot). I don't have a thermometer, but it feels pretty hot in there during the day, and not too cold at night- probably in the 50's.

I bought a few early girl plants, a few better boys, a cherry and a beefsteak. Also, the parents of one of the kids I tutor gave me another early girl (except twice as big as the ones I bought). Next week I will also plant lettuce, onions, carrots, and as soon as I can find them, peppers.

As you can see, the adolescent plants greatly appreciate the christmas lights and have started the party in full swing. (photos have been edited for inappropriate content)

In other garden news, my chives appear to be fully established from the past two years and are already half a foot high in some spots. All the oregano survived the winter too. Now that I think about it, it never really got below 20 degrees, which probably helped.

Rather than spend money on new seeds this year (it becoming somewhat of an endangered species around here), I used the seeds I saved from last year, so we'll see what the 2nd year germination rate is. There is cilantro, basil, parsley, petunias, coleus, vinca, and leaf and romaine lettuce.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Big Whoop

Did you know that Big Love is going to portray part of a temple ceremony? Did you know I would have never known about it had I not heard about it from Mormon friends via email, blogs, facebook, etc? I wonder how many other people are finding out about it that way. It seems like every time Mormons get all huffy about someone talking about us, its just free advertising for the people we perceive as wronging us.

Here's a better reaction: Big Whoop. You can go find the temple ceremony in its entirety on the web. And its not like the producers of big love are breaking their temple covenants by airing this. At worst, they are being disrespectful. Not nice, but not noteworthy.


Sunday, March 08, 2009


I have been thinking a lot about the concept of identity and self-image lately. I wanted to try to come up with a polished essay on the topic, but finally gave up. Below are some of my unpolished thoughts.

Our concept of who we are and what our purpose creates the foundation for the choices we make. I personally think that a lot of people are confused about their identity, and that, as a result, live sort of unfocused lives. In fact, it’s so common to wonder “Who am I?” and “Why am I here on earth?” that it is almost cliché. (Or maybe I’ve just watched too many corny church videos.) I don’t think it is any accident that one of the first things the LDS people teach young children is that they are children of God (and everyone else is, too). In fact, the title of the first lesson in the new Nursery Manual is, “I Am a Child of God.” (I just checked.) We teach our children when they are young that they can become like God by following His plan. In other words, we teach our children some of the most fundamental concepts of who they are and why they are here as soon as, or even before, they can really understand them.
I am not saying that that is all there is to it. Even knowing all that, the concept of identity is hard to define in general, and it is perhaps even harder to define one’s own individual identity.

A few examples of what I have observed:

Katie for many years considered herself a non-extreme “liberal”. She studied English, which is traditionally a liberal subject – so the fact that she was taking these classes at a conservative university gave her a somewhat balanced range of viewpoints from her professors and fellow students. When she would talk about politics or social issues with other people at BYU or her family members, she often found that her viewpoint well left of anybody else’s viewpoint. When she graduated, she rather quickly found out that she is no liberal. When she discussed social issues with most people outside her family and outside of BYU, she found that she was only liberal in comparison with some of the quite conservative people with whom she associated at college. Anyway, the point is that she sort of had to reshape her self-image to accommodate this new information.
We have some friends in the ward whose daughter recently went to college. Her parents really wanted her to go to a church school, but this girl was scared to death of being lost in the crowd. She was the only member of the church in her school, and it became part of her self-image. It wasn’t the size of BYU-Provo that scared her. It was the fact that everyone would be LDS and she would not longer have an identity. She even told Katie and some of the other leaders in the Young Women program that she didn’t want to be just the same as them. This was, of course, funny to the leaders because they didn’t think of themselves as very much alike. She ended up going to BYU-Hawaii.
I participated in a training course at work on social styles. They categorized peoples behavior into four major groups and talked about how to recognize the behavior, or “social style”, of other people and how to best interaction once you had made that recognition. As part of the training, they categorized the participants into the four groups based on surveys from coworkers. Then they had everyone divide up based on their social style. (I was an Analytic. The other groups were Driver, Amiable and Expressive.) I was surprised at how tribal (I don’t know if that’s the right word, but something like that.) most everyone became. People were so willing to adopt the characteristics of the group, (which were, the trainers admitted, not intended to precisely describe everyone). Many people tried to speak their own group with authority derived from their identification with the group, rather than what they had learned in the training. Anyway, it was really interesting to me because it seemed like many of those people really took what their coworkers said about them to mean a lot about their identity, as if they had few other points of reference.
I think that it’s useful to look at many of the social issues from the perspective of identity and self-image. I think the way forward on race relations will become clearer as people realize that self-prejudice, or creating a self-image based on your race rather than on internal feelings and knowledge, is just as damaging as prejudice against others. Regarding sexual orientation, I don’t know. I suspect that when people, usually teenagers, decide (or discover, depending on your Views,) they are homosexual or bisexual or whatever, there are a lot of confusing self-image and identity they have to deal with. I guess that’s sort of true for teenagers even when no sexuality issues are involved. They want to be individual, but most of them also want to fit in.
I guess that’s all I have to say for now.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Visceral Fat

Some people who know me are familiar with my hypoglycemia. Since I was an early teenager I periodically have an episode where it feels like my blood sugar drops precipitously- I start sweating, I get so weak I can hardly move, and I get so hungry that it feels like if I don't eat in the next 10 minutes I will pass out.
I've mentioned it to doctors, but none of them seemed to care very much since the symptoms didn't really match diabetes and they didn't really have any idea what was going on with me. I just got used to the idea of always being somewhere with ready access to food: if I went on a camping trip, I packed enough food for a trip of double the expected length, just in case. These episodes will happen at least once a month, but usually once a week or so.

But something amazing has happened. About 2 months ago I started my new lifestyle of working out everyday and limiting my calories to 2000 a day or less (something that I was sure would bring on more hypoglycemic episodes). Since then I have had exactly one episode, and I think that one only happened because I had a sugary breakfast. I am now able to eat breakfast (usually something high in protein like eggs, or whole grains like homemade bread or oatmeal), and then go until 3:00, usually working out in there somewhere- running at least half an hour and lifting weights, without an uncomfortable hunger. I mean, yeah, I get hungry, but not hypoglycemic hungry, and trust me, after experiencing hypoglycemic hunger my whole life, being a little "normal" hungry is like a pleasant walk in the park.

Doing a little research, I think I might have discovered one of the reasons this has happened. Most people who know me would not characterize me as fat. My whole life I have never been able to pinch even a centimeter on my arms, legs, or wherever. Nevertheless I was always able to poof out my stomach to look like a drunk old man. I've always had a pot belly, even as a little kid, and its gotten worse as I've progressed through my twenties. After a little reading I've discovered that I must carry all my fat next to my internal organs- "visceral fat". This is apparently the unhealthy kind of fat. Hip fat, arm fat, leg fat- thats all good, but visceral fat leads to diabetes, heart disease, and a bunch of other problems including Alzheimers, and thats the only fat I've ever had (stupid Webb genes!), and I'm starting to think it may be one of the causes of my hypoglycemic stuff.

Now, since I've lost at least 12 pounds of that visceral fat (I measure 12 pounds lost, but I have also visibly put on some muscle mass so I've probably lost a lot more), my hunger episodes have basically disappeared. Apparently excess visceral fat gets in the way of the body's insulin regulating system. Now that my pot belly is slowly melting away, I no longer worry about not having eaten for 4 hours. Hurray for exercising!


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Pile of Words

Time for another blog post in which my comments are not tied together by a common theme, but rather thrown together into a big steaming pile*.

So after we finished watching all 12 seasons of Buffy and Angel, we have moved on to other tv shows. Lost, I already mentioned we had started, and we are now on season 2. The other one we started, which I think I like a lot better than Lost is Battlestar Galactica. Its filling the void left by Star Trek, but it also has good acting, non-one-dimensional characters and semi-plausible plots (as opposed to the rampant time traveling in 2 of every 3 Star Trek episodes). We're almost done with season 2, and I highly recommend it to all.

My interviews (4 so far) with company X have all gone well, and in my last interview we even talked salary. Am I going to divulge the identity or location of company X? No. Am I enjoying keeping a secret and driving certain people crazy? Yes. I would tell all right now, but A.) I don't want to jinx this one like I have every other job prospect in the past two years by telling everyone, and B.)I have a kick-A way in which I am going to tell everyone. Patience.

In a few days or weeks, I am going to plant my birthday tomato. More accurately, I am going to plant the tomato plants from which my birthday tomato will come. Last year I didn't get a tomato until August, just a few days before we went to Seattle, so I didn't even get to enjoy a full harvest until late August. I vowed: "Never again!", and from that moment I resolved to have a tomato ready to pick by my birthday, June 11th. 'June 11th?' You exasperatedly ask yourself, thinking I'm crazy by trying to get a tomato a full 1.5 months before the earliest normal first tomato date, and your doubt would be well justified. But this year I am going to completely enclose one of my garden beds in clear plastic, and put in several strands of christmas lights in to keep the plants warm at night. That way I should be able to keep the daytime temperature above 80 or 90, with the nighttime temp hopefully around 55 or 60. Around June 1st I will also stress one of the plants by cutting off 3/4 of its roots, making it think that its about to die and that is should ripen all its fruit. I will also use a pollinating spray to force the first flowers to pollinate. Pictures to follow soon...

So remember my rashly-made goal of exercising every day and cutting my calories to 2000 a day? Well shine my head and color me red, I actually stuck to it and it is now a habit. (Feel free to use that shine my head bit. But it only works for me because I can actually shine my head.) As a result of my 7 weeks of stick-to-it-ive-ness, I have lost about 12 pounds, increased my strength by quite a bit (as measured by bench press and pull-ups (I can do 12 now, up from 1 when I started)), and my mile time is now at 5:43, which is 40 seconds off my best high school time. And this is the first time since... ever, that working out has become a habit for me. And all it took was my dad coming close to death. Go dad!

Jenny and I are in the one of the Draper Temple dedication choirs that will sing at one of the 8 dedication sessions right there in the celestial room. Good times.

Why is everyone so upset with Rush Limbaugh? I mean, he has said stupid things in the past that I didn't agree with, but oh well, he's an entertainer as he himself has said on many occasions. But this time Democrats and liberals are just being stupid and dishonest themselves, to the point where it is seriously discrediting them in the eyes of anyone who heard the Limbaugh quote in context. Democrats and Obamabots are getting their panties all bunched up because Limbaugh said "I hope he fails." What he actually said was more along the lines of "If his goal is to create a socialist state, then I hope he fails", not, as Obamabots claim: "I hope he fails in his attempt to stimulate the economy." If that is what Obama's real goal is, then I hope it fails too. Seriously, grow up Obamabots.

Lucy is on her third article of faith, or as she calls them, her "we believes". However, everytime the word is 'that', she says 'but', which renders the 2nd We Believe as: "We believe but man will be punished for his own sins..." and the 3rd We Believe as: "We believe but through the atonement of Christ..."

We're on an asian food kick. There is a family in the ward where the mom was born in Thailand but raised in the U.S., and has taught us how to make Thai soup. To assure the longevity of our eternal marriage, Jenny has learned how to make this soup, plus several other asian recipes that our friend has made for us including this amazing (I was about to say a word that begins with 'or' and rhymes with 'shmasmic', but then I remembered this is a family blog) dish that is basically a tomato papaya salad. I think the recipe called for mixing liquid meth with shredded crack and pouring that over papaya and tomatos.

Speaking of our new asian food repertoire, Jenny learned how to make sticky rice with peanut dipping sauce. This dish calls for a little less crack but more than makes up for it with marijuana infused alcohol.

I'm loling as I imagine the google ads that would appear alongside this post if I were to allow advertising.

Its posts like these that kind of make me a little depressed as I struggle to come up with anything notable that has happened to me or that I have done in the past month, and I'm blanking already. New diet and excersize, check. Asian food, check. Temple choir, check. Birthday tomato, check. Hmmm, not much else going on. Lets rant about liberals and Rush Limbaugh, check. Oh, Lucy's kinda cool... check. Oh, I've got another one:

Someone shot our kitchen window with a paintball. Ok, my life sucks. Stay tuned for next month's pile of words*.

*I openly admit that I lifted the steaming pile imagery from Eric Snider (see sidebar).