First, go to the bottom of the blog and turn off the music. Then watch this. Then watch it again.


Lent: Mastering the Self

Lent is the (approximate) 40-day period prior to Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday, when we begin to some sort of penance for our sins. The 40-day number comes from either the fact that Christ fasted 40 days or because He was in the tomb about 40 hours. (All according to wikipedia.)
The big traditions include giving something up during that time. I read articles of people giving coffee, treats, Facebook, or Lent (yes, giving up Lent for Lent). Last year I went vegetarian. It was pretty difficult. This year I wanted to give up something that's been a real problem. At first I thought about giving up spending money on anything beside necessities, but I threw the idea out because I was making too many exceptions. Then I thought about giving up media -- like only allowing missionary style media. But I x-ed that after calculating how that would be social suicide. Maybe I'll do it when I'm married.
Finally I decided on giving up sweets. Now before you say that it's wimpy and a cop out, listen to my reasoning. I'm addicted. To candy, to hot chocolate, to anything slightly sweet. And I'm not just cutting out desserts. I'm trying to cut down my overall sugar intake. I've gone off sugar twice before. The first time I spent the first half of the session being grumpy and complaining, and the second half plotting my relapse. I don't think I made it to the end of the second attempt.
So this will be difficult. I'm developing self-mastery.
A friend of mine paraphrased a quote: man has conquered the land, he has conquered the sea. He has conquered the animals and space. But man has not conquered himself.
Hopefully it will be said of me Veni, vidi, vici.


Book Sale

It started out with me missing my flight. Well, the plane was totally there and if the Delta "help" had exhibited more faith I think they could have gotten me on the flight, but as it was I was waiting for the shuttle to return me to my car as my flight took off. I had about 9 hours to kill until I could get on another flight. Drive back to P-Town? Nein. Chill with Gram? Ja. I called up my Gram, who is 88, and asked if we could hang out. She said she wasn't busy.

Gram and Aunt Muriel

So first we exchange some orthopedic shoes she's has since October. Then we went to Marie Calendars. It's not fancy food but Gram loves it. After lunch, we snoozed and relaxed to the Mo Tab's 2008 Christmas concert featuring Edward Herman and Brian Stokes Mitchell. In Miss J's words, "It did not suck." Gram finally took my up on my offer to visit one of her sibs. We drove out to Magna, taking the long way (thank you, dear confusion at the Spaghetti Bowl) to visit Aunt Muriel, who is only 83. The two visited and Aunt Muriel, who called me by my sister's name the whole time (neither Gram nor I had the heart to correct her), told me all about her house -- which was originally a duplex that they moved (!) to its current location. She also show me a cool stitch for quilting and made me think about getting into quilting. After the visit I had to get back to the airport for my late flight. I got on this time (yay!) and arrived in Phoenix around midnight.

Heidikins, me, Andrea

At 4:45 am the alarm went off. Had the other two, Heidikins and Andrea (my newest friend), not stirred I would have missed the whole thing as it was painful to awaken. Around 5:15 we were in line at the fair grounds. We chatted with a new friend, random-guy Steve, sized up our competition, and Andrea and I bonded over music on her Ipod. At 8 am the doors opened and the insanity began. At 10:15, we were on our way home.

Me, Andrea, and Heidikins

The VNSA book sale has 600,000 donated books from a bazillion categories. Most paperbacks are US $1.50 and the most I spent on anything was US $6 (It was a very nice coffee-table book featuring Renoir). I spent the majority of my time in classics, foreign language, children's, and self-help (for work, gosh). I got the books home, thanks to Heidikins, in a big duffle bag weighing in at 45 lbs.

The damage: 57 books for $76. A sampling of the books follows should you enjoy borrowing.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves
Brave New World
The Known World
Life of Pi
The House on Mango Street
Edgar Allan Poe collected works
The Kite Runner
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Beautiful Boy
All of the Dave Pelzer memorabilia except A Child Called It
Illiad and the Odyssey
Lots of Ramona Quimby
The Joy Luck Club
Things Fall Apart
The Jungle
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Pride and Prejudice
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Esperanza Rising
A Wrinkle in Time
Hunchback of Notre Dame
Jane Eyre
The Witches
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Odd Girl Out

This was an amazing deal and a fun, fun weekend. Next year we're thinking about camping out through the night.


Whip It!

Through a series of fortunate events we landed at Roller Derby this weekend. We felt we had the basics down after several viewings of Whip It and we did... but not really. Luckily, we met up with all-star Method of Madness (aka our friend Kat) who plays on another team (Death Dealers). She explained strategy and rules. Getting it made it even more fun! We look forward to seeing this league again and to cheering for our homegirl, Method of Madness (MOM), in the future.
So excited! with Miss J

Nat, Miss J, Em, and me

Blue Steal vs. Black Onyx... Steal wins with over a hundred points to Onyx's 70-something

Method of Madness and me

Quickly taken photo with unseen friends covering me should a skater come at me unawares

I was surprised by how large and in-charge some of the skaters were. And then, also, how small some others were. It wasn't quite, say, hockey-violent, although it was very physical. Mostly it was just a sheer exhibition of athleticism, endurance, and power.

The basic idea behind roller derby is that two jammers, chicks with stars on their helmets, try to lap opposing players who stick together in a pack. Points are given for every opposing play the jammer passes. Players can hip-check and bump shoulders but no elbowing, tripping, or other overtly violent actions. The lead jammer (the one to get out of the pack first) can call off the jam (the round) and a new jam starts. There are about 800 referees at Roller Derby keeping track of any little mistakes. Major mistakes land you in the penalty box for two minutes and the game continues. Of course, there is more to it than what I've just explained but I'm not going to explain it unless you're at a bout (match) with me. Wasatch Roller Derby's season is underway and Salt City (of which Method of Madness is a part) begins 'round April.

I Love It When We're Cruisin Together

My sibs (minus Fred, sad day) and I took a long-awaited, 5-day cruise to Jamaica and Grand Cayman. We did indeed pass Haiti and Cuba which was surreal to think about considering present circumstances. But the cruise rocked -- highlight were swimming with dolphins, sting rays, and fish. I also hiked Dunn's River Falls, indulged with too much rich food, had fun times with people I love, and stressed out from reading The Hunger Games (not Cruise appropriate, but recommended). Check out the photos below.

Getting some love from my new bestie.

Swimming with dolphins was the thing I had looked forward to most.

Hiking Dunn's River Falls (yes, you hike the water fall) with Mar.

We took jet skis out to Sting Ray City to get to know a friendly family of sting rays and then snorkel (saw many Dorys, no Nemos).

To Tortuga!

K is attempting to make unnecessary fire using a bread stick and frozen butter.

Dinner with Amb and Cole.

Afternoon tea in the suite with J-dawg, K, Amb, and Cole