Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Learning Something New

Most days, work is work. I do pretty much the same thing... try not to get distracted by the vast amount of reading material sitting at my fingertips while working on this desktop. Hoping that my coworkers will ping me with something to give me a little bit of a smile...also hoping that my boss is not quite ready to meet with me so I can finish up the project OR hoping that I will get a second to show her that I'm finished! It's pretty standard to go to lunch at 12:00 p.m. on the dot, with temptations to get Chocs and Sweets at 10:30-11:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. The need for a beverage is often, but caffeine is to be denied if possible.

Some days, something will stir things up and create a diversion to the monotony of staring at my dying plants and buzzing computer screen.

Today my boss walked past and said, "Hey, you want to come hear a motivational speaker?" I looked at the stack of work that I had to do, and then watched her take two steps to the left past my door. OF COURSE I DO! So I jumped up and followed, down to the Executive Briefing Center and past the tray of Chocs and Sweets (the rice crispy treat was decent) and into the room. It was surprisingly small, and full of camera. I had not signed up to be on camera, and luckily my chair was just out of the shot. We were there as background people - you know the ones they span across to show them smiling, chuckling lightly, wiping away tears, etc. Yes, it is all staged. And hopefully I am not in any of the shots (I was proven to be quite a terrible actress as they said, "Try to be serious," and instead of looking somewhat forlorn, I looked across the room at my boss who was grinning and I started grinning back.)

Though the guy was incredibly cheesy, and a poor dresser (granted, probably it was an expensive suit...) I really thought he made a few good points. They are as follows:

1. Being discouraged or disappointed does NOT mean being depressed. Aside from the cases where there are chemical imbalances, depression is a CHOICE. A choice? You say. Yes, I quite agree with him. We can all get discouraged and life is full of disappointment; but to be in a state of depression is a sign that we are hanging out with the wrong people (people who tell us we are depressed and make us feel like it is out of our control). Motivational Speaker says, you can fix depression with the power of a dream. Yes, I told you it was cheesy. But I sort of believe him.

2. It's not what you do; it's who you do it with. There are so many connotations to this saying! I know how most of you will take it, but Motivational Speaker was suggesting this: Our environment really does matter. Who we choose to hang out with helps determine how we are choosing our life to turn out. The people that we spend time with influence us for good, or for bad. And you best be hoping that it is good. Do these people lift you up? Do they encourage you to serve others, instead of yourselves? If they do, then you are doing good. If they don't, I'd suggest new friends. Friends that tell you, "Oh, you're depressed and there is nothing really to do for it, you should kill yourself." These are not good friends! I am convinced that someone surrounded by good people, serving others, and CHOOSING to be happy, can be happier. Remember, we still get discouraged and weare still disappointed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tractors and Mountains




One of my most favorite things about Ohio is that we have farmland. Country. Land that is undeveloped and used in the same way it was used 100 years ago. I love that in Ohio, things grow. They grown and they are green, and they are wonderful.

In Utah, I see a new development being started everywhere I turn. So many "FOR SALE" signs of the undeveloped land that has now been set aside for new commercial use (as if we don't have enough...) or more housing (despite the market being terrible right now). I have always hated that you drive from Springville to Provo to Orem to Lindon, PG, American Fork, Lehi... all without stopping. There is nothing to separate each city! It's so weird to me. Even more so, the random horses and sheep that are surrounded by houses, because the few spots the farmers haven't sold their land were nevertheless developed AROUND.

Utah has its beauty, though, too. The mountains are incredible. The feeling of being so much closer to the stars is completely unreal. The other night I went to a movie screening at an outdoor amphitheater at Sundance. The moon was full, I was able to identify the Big Dipper almost immediately. Several of my comrades were able to identify other constellations. The fact that we could stare up into the stars was something that I did not take for granted. There were little wispy clouds that made the scene all the more...magical. The silhouette of the pine trees against the moonlit sky just made it all the more picturesque.

Anyway, I love when the two worlds combine. Obviously, you are never going to find mountains in Ohio. But nights in Ohio when the sky is actually clear are divine. And days when I find a little bit of country in Utah... well, it just makes me really happy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cockroaches

My mom was looking through those pictures last night and we were wondering what it was about that house that made my parents say, "We'll take that one!"

The answer: It was cheap.

Had my mom known how much work it would have been, how the work would never end, and that the neighborhood was really not very good - she probably would not have allowed my dad to buy it.

My dad and my uncle were pretty sneaky about covering up how much work this house would be. In fact, when they bought it, they told my mom that she was not to go into the basement. So, of course, she did. As my dad showed her down the steep flight of stairs, pulling away spiderwebs and all sorts of grossness, he reminded her of how things could be cleaned up and fixed.

When they reached the basement and my dad flipped on the light, my mom saw movement. Fleeing. Hundreds of cockroaches hiding in the shadows of the rocks and dirt mounds. *shudder* My mom was none too pleased. However, the house was bought, and the work began.

I remember my little kindergarten friend stopping by to see my new house and as I was showing her around I brought her to the top of the stairs of the basement. Mind you, I was used to a dirt floor basement. Our house on Frank Street had a cellar (like the one on Wizard of Oz or Twister, where they have the two doors that open up and you walk down...) anyway, it was like that only we didn't have to go outside to get to it. My dad wouldn't let us down in the basement, but instead pretended to BE a giant cockroach from the basement. He made all sorts of hissing noises and said really weird things. My friend was weirded out, but I was laughing.

My dad's really funny.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The House

The following pictures were promised a while ago, and they have finally been scanned. Enjoy.

This picture was taken after a certain wall had been demolished. Note that the fridge is up and running, the book shelf served as a make-shift cupboard and we were living amongst the mess. My mom still curses those days. I'm surprised we all didn't die of lead poisoning.


















This is a picture of the kitchen before it was redone. There is a wall that separates that back door, which lead to a the carriage house. You also can't see that the ONE bathroom door is over to the left right next to the door that leads to the dirt floor basement.










The wall on the right was torn down (see above picture). Our sink is a lot bigger and now stainless steel. There is also a dishwasher and oven and more counter space to the right of the sink.










This was mine and Amy's bedroom for 16 years we shared. I think my parents used it first while we all slept downstairs. No major renovations were done in here, just the normal stripping of the filthy wallpaper, removal of that decaying window treatment, and carpeting. What is not pictured is the closet that housed our clothes and shoes (the closet shown had shelves instead and we used it to store our massive amounts of Barbies and board games) that locked automatically - and yes, we got locked in once with my friend, Jessica. My dad layed on my bed listening to us freaking out and banging on the door thinking we were joking.


This is the front room. I wish we would have left the hardwood, even though it wasn't really the best quality. I also like the dark wood, but it was sanded down (and VERY toxic, mind you) and painted white. New light fixtures... you can't see this, but the light switches were old fashioned turn style ones. They were cool.






This is a picture of the carriage house, the moldy shingles that were falling apart. The bathroom window has been boarded up (had to be, that's where the shower went).

What you can't see, the awesome fling-open windows that sit on the landing of the stairs. They reminded me of Cinderella, and we would often wish the bell tower (Troy's courthouse) goodnight before going to bed.



My AWESOME dad and Uncle Craig, who did most of the work throughout the house. Whether it was demolition, construction, electrical, plumbing, roofing, gardening, painting, mudding, laying carpet or linoleum (and later tile), he's done it all. The amazing thing, my mom has been by his side the whole time. She can probably do more than half of the things my dad can on her own. In fact, while she's been in town she's done a little plumbing for my grandma and a little car maintenance.




This room no longer exists. It used to be the "Grand room." One time Amy and I decided it would be fun to call 911. See that closet? That is where we hid when we realized that the cops come even when you tell them that there is no emergency. I don't remember getting in a lot of trouble - but it was enough that we never did it again.

The stairway is pictured on the right.

Oh, and now, there is a door right across the stairway that leads to the "master" bedroom. My dad built a wall and made a room out of that area.










This entryway is the other side of the front room. My dad shorted it and put in French doors that serves as his office/piano/guitar room. There is also a closet that used to be really scary and full of spiders that they gutted and redid. The front door is pictured on the left. It used skeleton keys! I wish we would have kept it for that very purpose. The only thing was coming down the stairs as a little child at night was rather scary. I was always afraid to look towards the door in case there was a shadow of someone standing there. Kind of spooky. My brother, Mark, broke the window of the door with some sort of ball after a garage sale we had. The door has been replaced by some sort of metal door that we painted red on the outside, but it remains white on the inside. It does not have a spooky window and it has a regular lock.

This is the beautiful bathroom. My mom required that it be finished before she would agree to move in the house. Look at that picture and tell me that it wasn't a brilliant move on her part.

The claw bathtub was removed and replaced with a shower... oh my goodness, the changes that took place in this bathroom were extreme in the first place. It has since been redone AGAIN and looks 300% different than it did from the beginning. There is a privacy wall between the toilet and tub, as the plumbing did not change directions. This wall was a definite benefit, as having only one bathroom required it to be used by several people at a time... some how it worked. Though, I'm sure we scarred poor Brad, as he wasn't allowed to go pee in peace until he was maybe 12. We would just roll our eyes and continue what we were doing saying something like, "Just go. We aren't going to look." The window was boarded up, the door (not pictured) that lead to the original "master bedroom" (which has been turned into an office, a nursery - twice, another office, a toddler's room, my bedroom, now the laundry room AND Brad's bedroom (another reason for him to be scarred) and a bonus room of sorts) was boarded up as well.

This is the front of the house. I still don't have an "after" picture. But it has changed so much! Firstly, the house isn't white, the roof is not green, the porch only has the pillars but nothing in between them, the steps are wood instead of concrete (the concrete crumbled), the windows are different (though, I'm not sure about the upstairs window - which is the one that attacked my hand and resulted in my ONLY trip to the emergency room. Which turned out to be pointless, as nothing was broken.), the little side porch has been boarded up and shingled to be a sort of tool closet. At one point it housed a puppy, but our family is not a pet family. The sidewalk has been redone. The bushes torn out and the front landscaped with rocks and flowers. There are lilies that are planted on the right side of the house, which happened to be the same ones planted at the Columbus temple, among MANY MANY other things. Also, in the background on the left, you see a sign to a Hardee's. It changed from a Hardee's to an empty building, to a Casano's, to an empty building, to a Clark's pharmacy. We liked it best when it was empty, as we liked to ride our bikes through the drive-thru, play in the pine trees planted behind the fence, etc.

I have so many good memories of this house. It is in a PRIME location. Right across the street from the library. A block away from the Hayner Cultural Center. A few more blocks away from the downtown square. Still in walking distance, the city pool (before it was gay), the park, the levy, Heywood Elementary (my school for grades 1-6), Kyle Elementary (not my school), the jr. high and high school, the cemetary, and most of my really good friends. Every first weekend in June friends and family would gather to our front porch to watch the Strawberry Festival parade, because it went right down our street. The ally provided interesting characters and easy access for people who wanted to help themselves to my pink banana seat bike and later, my pink-and-purple-polka-dotted bike (we have lost a lot of bikes!)

I can't imagine growing up in anything different. I love this house.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gas Article

WHERE TO BUY AMERICAN GASOLINE. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW.

Gas rationing in the 70's worked even though we grumbled about it. It might even have been good for us!

Can't we take control of our own destiny and let these giant oil importers know who REALLY generates their profits, their livings? How about leaving American Dollars in America and reduce the import/export deficit?An appealing remedy might be to boycott their GAS. Every time you fill up your car you can avoid putting more money into the coffers of Saudi Arabia . Just purchase gas from companies that don't import their oil from the Saudis.

The following gas companies import Middle Eastern oil:
Shell.................................... 205,742,000 barrels
Chevron/Texaco................... 144,332,000 barrels
Exxon /Mobil....................... 130,082,000 barrels
Marathon/Speedway............. 117,740,000 barrels
Amoco.................................. 62,231,000 barrels

And CITGO oil is imported from Venezuela by Dictator Hugo Chavez who hates America and openly avows our economic destruction! (We pay Chavez's regime nearly $10 Billion per year in oil revenues!)

The U.S. currently imports 5,517,000 barrels of crude oil per day from OPEC If you do the math at $100 per barrel, that's over $550 million PER DAY ($200 BILLION per year!) handed over to OPEC, many of whose members are our confirmed enemies!!!!! It won't stop here - oil prices could go to $200 a barrel or higher if we keep buying their product.

Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:
Sunoco........................ 0 barrels
Conoco........................ 0 barrels
Sinclair....................... 0 barrels
BP / Phillips................ 0 barrels
Hess. ............................ 0 barrels
ARC0.............................. 0 barrels
Maverick........................ 0 barrels
Flying J. ......................... 0 barrels
Valero........................... 0 barrels
Murphy Oil USA * ............. 0 Sold at Wal-Mart , gas is from South Arkansas and fully USA owned and produced.

*Not only that but they give scholarships to all children in their town who finish high school and are legal US citizens..

All of this information is available from the US . Department of Energy and each company is required to state where they get their oil and how much they are importing. But to have a real impact, we need to reach literally millions of gas buyers.

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