Monday, March 30, 2009

To defer or not to defer? II

The question has finally been answered. And the answer is....

(drum roll please...)

To defer!

This was a very difficult decision for both of us, but in the end we felt that it was the wisest thing for us to do. There are several things that went into the decision. I'll spell out a few of them below:

  1. The most important consideration was padding my resume. When I talked to the admissions guy at BYU, he brought up a good point about this. He said that when I finish my MBA, wherever I go, I will be competing with classmates for jobs. And when recruiters come to campus to interview people, one of the only things that will differentiate candidates will be prior work experience. And it will only make it easier to find a job if I have an extra year to pad my resume.

  2. Another consideration is the economy. Right now the economy is terrible, as we all know, and it's anyone's guess what it will be like in two or three years from now. But, statistically speaking, it's much more likely to be good in three years than two. Of course nobody knows, and it's a small gamble either way, but it's more likely to have recovered three years from now rather than two years from now.

  3. Finally, Rapid Intake (the company I work for) offered me a great new position. I don't really want to go into all the details now, because that would take forever, but they're allowing me to take on a new project and and have full responsibility for it. This basically means that the extra year will pad my resume by giving it some variety, which is really good.

So that's what we're doing. To Jeff, Amy, Dan, and Katja in Ohio—I'm sorry we won't be joining you this year. But we still may next year! And to all of you tired of hearing about our MBA drama, you get a 6-month respite before it starts again.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The NeverEnding Crush

neverendingstorydvdcoverjpgHave you ever experienced something that seemed so good at the time, only to revisit that same thing later to find that it just isn't what you remember? I remember having this experience with backpacking food. I mean, when you've starved yourself for hours, walked through miles and miles of Uintah mountains with nothing but banana chips to snack on, and then finally sit down to a satisfying meal of powdered chicken alfredo from the box, of course it's going to taste good. It's going to be the best pasta you've ever had in your life. But then if you try to eat it again two weeks later, it just won't be the same. Sigh. Some good things just can't last.

But some can! Camber and I recently re-watched The Neverending Story. I hadn't seen it since I was very young, so I was naturally worried. I loved it when I was a kid, and the last thing I wanted was to find out that really, in the end, Falcor looks stupid (he's not bad), that Atreyu is a terrible actor (he's not), and that the Empress isn't hot (no comment). I've had some bad experiences lately watching movies I used to like only to realize they're terrible movies.

(Side note: Hoosiers is not as good as you remember. But Rudy is.)

So I was pleased to find that The Neverending Story is about as good as I remember it: a great film for kids that adults will actually enjoy. And of course it was fun to relive the excitement from years past. I leapt for joy when I heard Atreyu agreed to help the Empress; I only cringed slightly as Falcor and Atreyu flew by a bunch of obvious green-screen landscapes; and I of course almost wept when Atreyu's horse, Artax, succumbs to the sadness of the swamp and slowly sinks into it, and dies. (I also almost wept during that sad scene when the Rock Biter keeps saying, "They look like big, strong hands, don't they." Man...)

But nothing was so satisfying as reliving my young crush on the beautiful Empress herself. All you guys out there know what I'm talking about. The Empress was a cultural phenomenon for boys of my generation. That fox stole the hearts of us all. You know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about this lovely lady (and check out that head jewelry!):


I think it's safe to say: we had excellent taste back then.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Angelic sustenance

Okay, enough serious talk about graduate school. I want to talk about peanut butter.


There are a few substances available for nourishment which are of such superior deliciousness that the label "food" is entirely inadequate. Food is something you use to sustain life and prevent starvation. Gruel does that. No, some things deserve a more exalted name, like "Nectar of the gods," for liquids at least. Peanut butter is one such substance. It isn't just a food. It's a spiritual experience, uplifting one from the terrestrial realm of animal-like survival instincts to a level of refined, angelic enjoyment. Such an experience ought to be savored and revered as a culinary joy indicative of the feasts to come in heaven.

Being the spiritual person that I am, I take a natural affinity to peanut butter. Often while indulging, I can hear heavenly choirs and bask in angelic ministrations. But why should I be the only one? Anyone can experience the promotion of ordinary, telestial foods to a celestial feast of the gods by the mere addition of peanut butter.

Need some suggestions? Many spiritually impaired people can only imagine peanut butter's usefulness in PBJ's or Reese's peanut butter cups. But peanut butter can bring joy to so many foods, like...

-Celery stickscold-stone
-Better yet, peanut butter and banana sandwiches
-Oatmeal (healthy food will never be the same for you again)
-Ice cream. Your boring vanilla can become cold, creamy magnificence with the addition of peanut butter.
-Graham crackers (I think I just heard a harp playing)
-Oh! Even better! graham crackers and honey!
-Frosted Mini Wheats
-Pickles (well, this is a rumor. I hate pickles, so I refuse to support the industry by buying them just so I can try them with peanut butter)
-Chocolate or vanilla pudding, and
-Chocolate chip cookies

Peanut butter lovers—has anyone found another winning combo? I'm always looking for another chance to eat the stuff. Please, share!

Friday, March 20, 2009

To defer or not to defer

That is the question.

At least, the most recent question.

As the newest part of our MBA school drama, we've added the possibility of deferral to our mix of possible options. (Isn't it great? By next week we'll be considering two more things that had never crossed our minds before!)

Deferral hadn't entered into my thinking at all until I met with the admissions guy at BYU earlier this week. After he told me that I had been accepted into the program, he said if he could give me one piece of advice it would be to defer for a year.

The reason I would possibly do this is to give myself more time to gain work experience before starting my MBA. Companies that recruit MBAs like to see that you have a lot of valuable work experience before your MBA, and taking another year off would really beef up my application.

The nice thing, too, is that all three of the schools can hold my spot for me for one year, so I don't have to go through the whole admissions process as well. There's a small chance that I wouldn't receive as good of scholarships next as year as I would this year, but I think the chance is small. (At least, the schools have told me that the chance is small.)

There are several advantages to deferring. First, I do like my job, and a small part of me would enjoy having another year here to accomplish some great things. Second, we would be able to save more money. Third, we wouldn't have to move—yet. Etc.

There are big disadvantages, too, the largest of which is that we would wait an entire year before starting a program.

We're very torn right now, but we're taking our time with the decision and hoping to make the best decision possible. I'm sure, in the end, we'll make a good choice. For now all of you can enjoy our little drama (at least the parts we blog about).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Whither? II Ctd.

Believe it or not, I actually have a quick update already!

BYU called me this morning and asked if they could interview me today. I went in around 11:30, and to make a long story short, they accepted me into their program!

I actually have mixed feelings. On one hand it makes my decision more difficult, because I now have a third good school to choose from. On the other hand, that's not a bad dilemma to have, so I should probably just shut up and make a choice. That will take a few days at least, however.

We'll keep you posted.

Whither? II


I thought I would give you all a quick update on our decision-making progress for graduate school. I've certainly never encountered a more difficult choice in my entire life. (I know, you're all thinking, What about the decision to get married? Actually, that was a very easy decision to make. I wanted to marry Camber after our third date or something like that.) Most of me just wants to be done with it, but other parts (the more rational parts) of me know that it's truly better to take one's time and make sure you make the right decision.

Late last week we found out that I did not receive a super-duper-hot-and-amazing scholarship from Ohio State. That was, as we thought, the final piece of information we had been waiting for before we made our decision. So yesterday, Sunday, we decided to fast and pray about where to go.

I'm going to try to keep this short, so suffice it to say that while we began our fast leaning toward Iowa, we ended it leaning heavily toward Ohio; so we—perhaps naively—decided that Ohio it is (was)! We even went so far as to tell our families (and each school) our decision.

Fast forward to today. This morning, neither Camber nor I felt good about our decision at all. Call it buyer's remorse, over-thinking or over-analyzing, but we just didn't feel good about it. I began leaning toward Iowa again, while Camber began wondering aloud about BYU.

Funny thing about BYU. I applied there way back in December—in fact they were the first school I actually finished applying to. They responded (back in December) and told me that they would put my application "on hold," which is basically a waiting list. I haven't heard back since, so I figured it was a no-go. I've even stopped listing them as one of the schools I applied to when people asked me.

But since Camber couldn't shake the feeling of BYU out of her mind today, I decided that I would email them and ask for an update. I said, "Even if you could just tell me that I won't be accepted, that would be extremely helpful in my decision-making process." I expected them to write back and say: "Thanks for the email. You're rejected."

Instead I got an email that said, "Thanks for letting us know about your time constraints. We'd like to set up an interview!" Talk about unexpected.

(One more important note about BYU: BYU really is a great school. There are some obvious huge advantages to going there, not the least of which being that they are out west. They're highly ranked (similar to Ohio), but since they're in the west I'm likely to be able to find a job out here. And they are a great school. The only reason I stopped considering them is simply that I hadn't heard from them in months, and assumed, as I said before, it was a no-go. But I'm very excited about the possibility to consider them in my options. They're a great school and they would be a great fit.)

Now, I don't want to count my eggs before they hatch. And even if BYU does end up accepting me, there's no guarantee that I'll go there. But it seems like an interesting development to me, so I figured I'd share it. I'll probably interview with them later this week (or early next week), and I'll keep you posted on what happens.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The first hike

For just a moment, let's close our eyes and imagine something. (Don't actually close you're eyes—unless you have x-ray vision.)

Imagine waking up early on a warm spring day—but it isn't warm yet, it's still 20 degrees outside. And then imagine driving to a steep canyon—steep enough that the sun won't hit it until two in the afternoon. And then imaging hiking, for three hours, in the snow, with ankle socks on.

Sound fun?

It was amazing!

Today I (along with Jason H. and Jared W. S.) went on the first hike of the spring up to Squaw Peak in Provo, UT. It's a beautiful hike, and was doubly so in the snow. Once we turned off the canyon trail and moved up the mountain the sun hit us, and it was warm and beautiful.

Below are a few pictures. Just click a thumbnail to see the full image size (they're not that big; I'll try to make them larger next time).

[gallery link="file" columns="2"]

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy ∏ day to one and all

This one's for ∏—the original gangsta.


... etc.

Dropping the L-bomb


Few things get a man's stomach roiling and his hands sweating (gross!) like the L-bomb. The terror of speaking that horrible, four-letter word aloud is more than most men can bear, which is why men are prone to mumbling, burping, or coughing when the time finally arrives in a relationship to simply say, "I love you."

At least, that's how many men (and women) treat the phrase. For me, I've never felt that way about it. I understand that it means a lot, and that it should suggest true and genuine feeling—but I suppose that for me, love is a pretty simple feeling.

In high school, whenever I was out late with friends and our caffeine highs had finally worn off, everyone would start "serious" conversations, and it was only a matter of time before someone would utter the big kahoona: "Have you ever truly been in love?" I always hated that question, because nobody knew what they  meant when they asked that. Did they mean, "Have you ever felt so strongly about someone that you were willing to commit yourself to them for life?" That would be simple: yes. (Most high school kids, while probably misguided, certainly feel this way.) Or, did they mean, "Have you ever felt so deeply for someone that you truly cared for them more than you cared for yourself?" If so, the answer was again simple: no. It certainly takes many years to develop that kind of love, anyway, and most newlyweds probably are incapable of it. Couples spend their entire lives developing that level of love—that level of commitment. And so if that's the test for "love," then probably most of us weren't "in love" when we got married.

Now, I was an English major in college, so I think a lot about words and what they mean. So maybe I complicate things because of that; but to me, love shouldn't be that hard. I waited an entire week and a half before I told my wife (then my girlfriend) that I love her. And I meant it. But I love her more now. And I'll love her even more 5 years from now. But I still loved her then, even after about 10 days of dating. The word just means something slightly different these days—something more deep.

I know that many people like to wait until they have a level of certainty about their commitment before saying those words; and perhaps that's a good thing, but I still think that sometimes we treat the phrase with too much deference. Why not just love someone and tell them?

So what do you all think? What should be the criteria for "dropping the L-bomb"? Should it be something that we do only after we're sure (whatever that means), or something that describes a simple feeling of commitment?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We are all old people now


Back when Camber and I were dating (oh, so many moons ago) we had an understood pledge—we went and did things.

We prided ourselves for not being one of those couples that sat around and did nothing but make out and watch movies. We had, we told ourselves, a "quality relationship." We had, as we would say, "quality time" together.

We were actually quite creative while we were dating, always thinking of fun things to do with each other. We went to art museums. We colored in coloring books. We wrote funny poetry. We played board games. We road aloud. We went on walks. We went hiking. We went biking. We went camping (scandal!).

And most of all, we promised ourselves (and each other) that someday—when we grew old, lined, and flabby together, and had tennis balls on the bottoms of our walkers—that we would not be one of those couples that did nothing but sit on the couch, watch TV, and argue about how we met.

NO! We would be adventurous. We would go out of doors. We would do things together! We would climb K2 at age 70!

And yet there are so many days when we both get home from work late in the evening. We stumble through the doorway, barely manage to cook up come macaroni and cheese with green beans, and have some version of this conversation:

"What should we do tonight, honey?"
"Well, we should do something productive. But I'm just in the mood to watch Monk."

And I know I'm not alone in this. Most (or all) of my married friends have had a similar experience. I guess while we're dating, we're all just really bad at knowing what marriage will be like.

So slip in the DVD, baby. Slip in the DVD. What season are we on, anyway?

We are all old people now.

I am mortal

I consider myself young, enjoy being young, and have effectively deluded myself into believing that I will always look and feel as I do now. Truly, a delightful delusion if anyone is looking for one.

Bliss got up and walked out the door when I started looking at pictures of my parents from their honeymoon in Hawaii.

For my readers' convenience, here are some samples.

Exhibit A: My dad

22 years old, tan, skinny, about Isaac's age when we got married.


Exhibit B: My mom

24 years old, tan, skinny, and about the age I was when I got married.


Now, exhibit C: Isaac and me

23 and 25 years old, respectively, attractive (check out Isaac's hot beard), not tan (me), married just over a year


Here is the fatal but infallable logic.

1) My parents were once young.

2) My parents once looked young, too.

3) My parents were once a newly married couple bumming around in Hawaii.

4) My parents got older (but you still look great, Mom and Dad).

1') Isaac and I are young.

2') Isaac and I look young.

3') Isaac and I, newly married, also bummed around in Hawaii.


4') Isaac and I will get older.

The truth hurts.

Stage one of the grief process is denial. So I bought Mary Kay age-reversing cosmetics.

I think I look younger already.

The universal language

For the weak of stomach, this is a non-icky nursing story.

I found her cuddling with a stuffed bunny. 70 years old, thoroughly lucid (not always the case in my job), normally in excellent health, and clutching a rather raggedy-looking stuffed bunny as I have seen five-year-olds do.

"That's a cute stuffed animal," I told her.

"Yes, my grandson gave it to me. I have several, and this one is one of the ugliest, but I love it best," she told me matter-of-factly. "I call him Bunny."

Before I tell you another word about Bunny, I must clarify that "Bunny" is actually a teddy bear wearing a suit with bunny ears. I didn't find this out until the end of my shift, which left me feeling that I'd regarded the animal in a false light the entire day. Like going all day referring to someone's cat as a "she" when it is actually a "he".


She went on, "A few years ago I went to Europe to visit all the organs that Bach played on. I'm terrified of flying, and this was my longest flight to date, so I took Bunny with me on the airplane."

I thought to myself, "Are you really 70?"

"One night in Germany I went out for a dinner, and left Bunny in bed with his feet propped up so he'd be comfortable until I returned. When I got back, I found the maid that turned down my bed had also placed Bunny on my pillow so he'd be waiting for me cozily."

Then, quite seriously, "I guess it doesn't matter what language you speak--people understand about stuffed animals."

Later, I got her ready for a procedure that would last several hours. She set Bunny up on her bed and said, "I guess he'll be all right here until I get back."

"You know, if you want to, you can take Bunny with you."

"Oh, can I?" Her face shining.

I tucked Bunny in amongst her blankets, and delivered her for her procedure, with strict instructions that they take care of Bunny while she was asleep.

When she and Bunny came back that evening, I confessed to her about Waldo, the purple stuffed elephant that I sleep with every night. A huge grin lit her face, and as I left, she told me, "Say hi to your purple elephant for me."

And I left feeling at one with that German maid.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I've got a man cold

The horror all began yesterday.

It began as any normal day would. There were no warnings, no early signs—nothing to prepare me for what was coming.

It was like being in a B-movie horror film, in a manufactured life where everything is almost normal, while one small overlooked detail reveals to the hero (and to the audience) that something is just not right. For me that small detail began a prolonged journey somewhere near my nasal septum and slowly—oh, how slowly!—crept its way down my nasal passages. It slowly gained in strength, until what began as an imperceptible particle became an itch; until the itch became a sniffle; and until the sniffle became a gigantic mass of mucous, crawling down my nostrils until it paused like a diver on a board, and then dripped onto my desk.

I stared at it.

I wondered.

I realized—

I was coming down with a cold. Panic set in, and I quickly called my wife to inform her that I only had a few moments to live. She tried to calm me down with some "it's-just-a-cold" talk, but we men know better. Colds are demons. The slightest sniffle can relegate the strongest of men to the couch for days on end, with nothing to do but catch up on TV shows, and nothing to eat but chocolate milk shakes.

Colds, apparently, do not affect women as they do men. I know this because women simply do not understand. And, to illustrate (nay, prove!) this point, I have documentary footage below.

I pray I'll recover.

P.S. My nose just dripped again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009



In Doctrine and Covenants 80:3, the Lord says: "Whether [you go] to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not."

Well, it mattereth to me. But either way, I'm goin' east!

I've spent the last 4-5 months of my life trying to figure out where Camber and I are going to be spending the next two years of our lives. Do we go to the University of Iowa, or to the Ohio State University (and yes, they call it the Ohio State University. If you get that wrong they'll throw these dark little nuts at you and toss you down a well).

So far we just can't decide. Do we go to the less expensive option (Iowa) even though it is slightly lower in the rankings? Or do we go to the more expensive and higher-ranked Ohio? Choices, choices. Here's my current break-down of each school:

Mascot: Iowa takes the cake. Who wants a nut as their mascot?

Colors: Iowa again. Black and yellow is much better than red.

Football Team: Ohio takes this one. But they're also more cocky.

Zoo: I've heard Ohio has a great zoo. It wins.

Weather: Tie. Both places have winter weather than can cause serious injury or death within a matter of minutes.

Location: Tie. Just like weather, there are serious negatives here as well. Iowa has the distinct disadvantage of being located in Iowa, while Ohio suffers from being located in Ohio. It's a lose-lose as far as that goes. But hey, Arizona State rejected me, so I'll have to forfeit my tan.

So I turn to you, faithful friends: what's the best way to make the decision? What would you base it on? (I'm leaning toward school colors as the deciding factor...)