June 15-21: Atlas Shrugged

  1. Rapid-fire for this last week. And lots of pictures.

-The long-anticipated LSAT happened Monday morning. My roommate Tyler offered to let me use his laptop, and it went off without a hitch. I’d guess I did better, but because  the exam was moved online (with virtual proctors), it was shortened to 3 sections from 5, and I don’t know how that will affect the bell-curve based scoring.

-Tuesday was my first completely free day with nary a worry on the horizon as they say. As the sun and rose and set, it saw me go practice golf at the newly renovated East Bay, work out, and then try to write a little and work on some projects. Except I kept getting distracted by food blogs.

-amazing race….this idea has been fermenting around my brain for a while. I wrote out some tasks for a family contest, and then watched a few episodes to help facilitate further ideas. Coming to Texas July 2020.

I also conducted some experiments and came up with some new recipes:

–papaya salsa, seen here with nachos…verdict: the papaya detracts from the salsa as a whole.

a new shampoo…ingredients: beet juice, baking soda, coconut oil, aloe vera, and eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils.

Pouring the finished product. Turned out AMAZING! Hair felt and looked great. Downside is that fresh aloe vera goes bad after a few days, so it has to be used up quickly.

lots of vegetables were cooked and eaten this week.

flower arrangements were made.

New fruits taste tested include “rambutan,” very popular in southeast Asia. The first one I tried must have been rotten, as I couldn’t even finish the little guy. I would have stopped there, but had to at least attempt the others so as not to waste. They were much better, and validated google’s remark that it is known for its “delicious taste.”

Sunday we had the usual dinner with Porter a la brasileiro and scrabble game and then a Father’s Day themed Jeopardy game via zoom with the whole family.

Annemarie and Tanner did a great job putting on the show, and I hope it becomes a family tradition. Heaven knows it will be tough, nigh impossible, to top this year’s edition, but I’ll let them worry about that part.

I went on two dates this week. Recapped out of order:

Saturday I had planned to go hiking with Yazmin. We were going to do a short sunset hike near Salt Lake City, but our double partners cancelled so we made it a zoom date instead. This was my first time trying a virtual date and I’m not a fan. It felt awkward and impersonal. We talked from 8-8:45 and I asked her on a real date to which she agreed. Here’s the important part: As soon as it ended, I saw I had missed a few calls. This was perfect timing as someone was looking for a priesthood blessing at 9pm, and hadn’t reached anyone else. It was cool to be reminded once again how God is aware of all of our needs. If I had gone to SLC, I wouldn’t have been back before 10:30.

The other date was date #3 with Hannah. We ate mochi ice cream balls and walked on a mountain trail while conversing. Mochi is a japanese treat made of a outer rice dough covering (providing a weird texture), and filled with a coconut cream interior. “Eh…” followed with a shoulder shrug summarizes my reaction. While good and refreshing on such a hot day, I think normal ice cream tastes better. That “eh…” could also summarize my thoughts about the date. We apparently got the same vibes, because we haven’t talked since that night and both seemed content to go on our separate paths. Nevertheless, after 15 months of only first dates, I enjoyed going on a 2nd and a 3rd date.

And while I’m on the subject of love, here is one of the most pertinent scriptures in my opinion. It comes from Alma 38:15, and amazes me how relevant counsel given 2000 years ago still is. The world was utterly different at the time, yet applies fantastically to dating today.

“Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness.”

The entire chapter was recommended to me by a professor as great advice for recently returned missionaries, and this verse in particular stood out as testifying how one must have control of emotions and passions in order to feel true love. If faith and doubt cannot coexist, then neither can lust and love. 

 

June 8-14: Bonds of Affection

Two dates happened this week, but I should clarify that this post’s title comes from Matt Holland’s book about Winthrop, Jefferson, Lincoln, and their idea of charity – nothing else.

Tuesday I had a date with Sarah, whom I met via Mutual. She is studying English at BYU, and served her mission in Singapore. For this date, we made acai bowls. Robert and Haylie came over as well, and we cut up a bunch of (mostly) tropical fruit and blended up some acai. My favorite is made by blending acai with a little of guarana and banana, but we made do with just the acai and banana. Adding a little condensed milk on top, they turned out delicious! We then played scattergories and bananagrams.

Friday was my second date with Hannah. It was PERFECT! A lot of that has to do with things I can’t control – weather, crowds, etc – so it was wonderful that allwas well. I picked her up at 7:30 and we drove half an hour up to Squaw Peak, talking the whole time and enjoyingour time together. We made it to the trailhead and headed up, through the wonderful meadow and to Buffalo Peak. This time, we made it at the right moment, and even though some clouds rolled in, saw a beautiful sunset. We found a small spot to sit, and then Hannah surprised me by pulling out homemade cranberry/blueberry muffins. I had mentioned that they are my favorite type, but I never imagined she’d make them for me. It was very kind. We stayed a little too long at the top talking, and by the time we made it back to the van, it was quite dark out.

 

Deseret Industries opened up this week, and on Wednesday I made a trip with Porter to check out all the new inventory they put up. I ended up buying  some new books and a pair of temple shoes. And a golf bag that I quickly resold for a nice profit. They always price bags super low, so I try and pick up one every visit, and it usually pays for anything else I buy.

Thursday I went golfing at the Ranches with Mike and Kimball.

Last Sunday, some ladies from the ward commented that they really wish that more social events would happen in the ward. At that time, official activities were a no-go, but we decided to do a little get-together at a park. We all brought some food and grilled burgers and hot dogs, and played some outdoor games. About 30 people showed up, beating my estimate, and it turned out well…even if I lost in spike ball. 

Saturday was also my final time studying for the LSAT, which felt amazing, and I made sure to give Porter all the books and study material. No mas for me.

It’s been a week of cleaning all-around. We had our carpets cleaned. My email inbox is under 20 for the first time in three months.

And, after a few weeks of temperatures in our house daily reaching 80 degrees, the repairman fixed the problem so our swamp cooler is now working again. Talking with the rental management company was frustrating as it took two weeks and preliminary visits for what was in the end a 10-minute fix. My sleep has improved since then as I no longer wake up due to the heat.

Sunday Porter was the beneficiary of leftover burgers and this little guy. Meant to be a pie, turned out more like a pile of strawberries with a crust underneath.

We played scrabble, and this time I lucked out with unbeatable letters – played ‘laxities’ for 80+ points – and cruised to the finish line.

We had a good time talking about dating and I learned a lot, getting his opinion on some very relevant issues that I was wondering about. And he gave me a priesthood blessing as I take the LSAT tomorrow morning.

This scripture from the Book of Mormon struck me today. It’s Alma 31:35. Referring to Alma and his struggles to preach the gospel, it says:

Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren…”

I know that we are all beloved daughters and sons of our Heavenly Parents. As we view others as our brothers and sisters, and people with divine potential, our enmity and rancor will disappear. All of it.

June 1-7: Pilgrims, Pulses, and Pistols

The week started off great, with a visit to the gym with David. Since it reopened a few weeks ago, we’ve been very deliberate with our exercises and worked towards maxing this week. First up was bench press and I was surprised (and proud) to get 275 lbs. That’s a new record for me! Other records continued to fall throughout this week and all I can say is – these numbers brought to you by lentils. Ok ok, while I have continued to eschew supplements or any whey protein, I am trying to increase the amount of protein I consume given that I’m still barely eating any meat. I have started mixing a few Tbsp of peanut butter + 2 tsp of flax seed + 1 banana + 1 cup of chocolate milk. It’s delicious, and rejuvenating! One serving is 21 g of protein.

Monday night our Come Follow Me was blessed to have Aunt Jenny join. This week’s focus was on testimony and she shared some inspiring stories, previously unknown to me.

The lentil experiment of the week involved making a hummus-like paste. It’s good with nachos, cucumbers, and rolls. I didn’t get the taste quite like I wanted, but thought I’d get some feedback from two non-biased testers aka my roommates. Here are their reviews:

“Ew!! this tastes like dirt!”

“Yep, dirt is about right. Although, after four or five bites it’s not as bad as the initial taste.”

Tuesday saw a return to sand volleyball. I was at home doing some studying, looking longingly at the beautiful weather when Reigen invited me to go play. We met up with Justice, Allison, Allie, and one of Allie’s friends. We played 3×3 for a while and then some newcomers challenged us to 6×6. After we just couldn’t go anymore, we went back to my apartment and had milkshakes. I’ve missed Reigen since he moved end of April and was glad to play some vb with him.

Thursday was the long anticipated date with Victoria. We hit a snafu a few hours before, when our doubles bailed. The plan was to hike Buffalo Peak and watch the sunset, and I didn’t want us to go alone. Porter came through big time by agreeing to go, and then I bumped into Emmalyn (Annemarie’s sister) at the library. We talked a few minutes and I headed home to get ready. I almost made it home, all the way down the 8 flights of stairs too, before feeling impressed to go back. Thankfully Emmalyn was still there, and I invited her to go with us. She was game to go along and I appreciated getting to know her a little better.

Long story short – my phone quit working out of nowhere, right as I left to go pick up Victoria. So I didn’t have her address. It’s crazy how reliant we can become on our devices! Despite being discombobulated by the sudden turn of events, I remembered the name of the (giant) apartment complex at least, and after knocking 3 doors and talking to those residents who pointed me a little closer each time,  the fourth door was the right one, and I met Victoria. Thankfully, I remembered Emmalyn’s address, and we zipped over before getting Porter to complete the gang and actually head to the hike. We were running 15 minutes later than I had planned, and missed making it to the peak for the sunset by a few minutes. nevertheless, it was a beautiful, beautiful hike; I think the Sound of Music opening scene could have been filmed there. We made it to the top and back before it got too dark, and I intend to go back and make a repeat hike.

Victoria is from Miami, served her mission in Phoenix, and is studying Math Education at BYU. We were set-up by her sister Cat (Catherine).

Friday night I went to see Kelson’s new living space. He was supposed to go to Phoenix for an internship, but when that was moved online, the company decided to put him in a Marriott in Provo for the entire summer. I’m jealous. I guess he was feeling kind of lonely though, after a week of no roommates, and had a small party to formally welcome his new accommodations. We ate and played a little Mario Kart before I called it a night and skedaddled.

Sunday, I had a dinner date with Hannah. I was acting kind of persnickety, but Hannah’s attitude helped change that quickly. It was a blast – she was really easy and fun to talk to. She brought a fresh pineapple (unexpectedly) which we turned into a fruit bowl for dessert, insisted on helping with dishes, and I was thoroughly impressed by the end of the date. She is from Iowa, served her mission in Nicaragua and is studying Exercise Science and Wellness.

Talking with my family, I report on any dates I went on and have begun to start the conversation by saying, “I had a fantastic time. _______ is a great kissener!” I think the younger siblings are catching on, but that sentence gets Dad’s attention in a hurry, and his “What?!!?!?” is followed by me saying, “I said she’s a great listener. What did you think I said?” Don’t worry, there’s no canoodling going on here.

Although, I talked to Aunt Shirley on Saturday and she shared the secret to golfing and getting a hole-in-one, so maybe there needs to be a kiss or two. I’ve been trying for years, so I was mightily impressed that shehshe succeeded in hitting a hole-in-one at a course in Wrentham, MA. Logan, my new roommate, discovered some mail that had fallen and gotten stuck and one of the letters he pulled up was an envelope filled with old photos Aunt Shirley had sent a month ago. I thoroughly enjoyed going through them and seeing faces of loved ones from a time now long gone. I had never seen these photos before, and wondered at 5-day old me, and thrilled to a photo of see Kayla and I from Christmas 1995.

Other notes:

-I’ve been playing the organ almost daily lately. Now that I’m home during the day, it won’t bother any one.

-I started my application to join the Mayflower Society. It’s much more rigorous than I anticipated, and will require some painstaking work to finish.

  1. -fasting has gone from being dreaded to truly a time to rejoice. I’m thankful for the opportunity to fast each month, and know that God recognizes our sacrifice of forgoing those two meals and donating the money. I’ve seen far too many miracles to think otherwise.

-the daily number of covid infections has tripled in Utah. I think its good to zig when others zag and zag when they zig. Now that everyone is going out, its not as safe, and my excursions will be getting cut down shortly.

-I’m thinking about getting a dog. Which would complicate living arrangements. Which would be a HUGE commitment. (Maybe I need that?) And which I am not regarding lightly. I’ve been checking this society’s facebook page daily though, so I don’t think the thought will go away quickly. I budgeted months ago for a firearm and have yet to get one. Perhaps a puppy could take that spot instead….

I mean, look at this guy!

Tanner and Annemarie even shared some possible puppy names: Warren, doc, Eisenhower. I personally like Duke, or Boston (boss for short). The run-away favorite so far though is Coolidge.

Reading 2 Timothy, it seems to be a very prescient book of prophecy – about persecution. This week, I picked up on the key to both appreciating and persevering through tribulation. It’s found in chapter 3 verses 14-15:

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make there wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

I testify that it is through the scriptures we learn the wisdom of God and will have the strength and fortitude to stand strong and be not ashamed of our Lord.

 

May 25-31: It ain’t over lentil it’s over!

2020 is now more than 40% through. Blows me away how quick it has gone.

Monday was Memorial Day, and I did spend some time reflecting on those who gave the full measure of devotion. I had nothing planned, but my evening was rescued by Dillon. He came by in the afternoon to bring some of the first spinach harvest from our garden. It’s been wonderful to eat, and does taste different from the spinach bought at the store. The leaves are also much thicker.

We talked for a while, and then Dillon invited me to come over later that night for a Memorial Day party. His father was a veteran and died in 2018, so the holiday is special to the family. The family was doing it with one of their neighbors, who I’ve referenced before as we had an EQ activity at their guest house. That is where this was held also. Of course, there was lots of amazing food. We numbered 9, and had no shot at finishing it all, so we brought leftovers home.

The ribs were great – but the beans were unbelievable and took the top spot in my opinion.

We ate and talked. Then we talked and ate. The day slowly turned into night, and we put Jumanji 2: the Next Level on the outdoor tv and watched that. It turned out to be a very fun and enjoyable night.

Thursday was my roommate Tyler’s b-day. We also had a new roommate, Logan, move in. He is very good friends with Tyler and I’ve gotten to know him throughout this last year. Spencer moved out in march due to covid, so Logan (who will be taking my room in the fall), moved in to Spencer’s room. Thursday also began summer swimming, as Porter’s pool at Glenwood opened up.

The pool was so nice, and Friday found me there again. This time, I stayed too long and got sunburned. I quickly fell into an easy routine of swimming and chess these two days. Though I haven’t played hardly at all recently, when the Utah Federation reached out to me for an online tourney, I was ready to jump into it a little more.

With Dillon on Monday, we had hatched a plan to watch World War Z. It’s a nice apocalyptic, pandemic-causing-zombies thriller starring Brad Pitt. John H., David K., Jacob C., Aaron R., Logan, Dillon and Dave all came over for it. Aaron brought pizzas and we had some other snacks as well. And 2 hours of suspenseful action until a vaccine was created to save the world. It was a fun night. Admittedly I was spooked, and didn’t want to go outside at all after. We were supposed to start watching at 7 so it would finish while it was still light out; however the pizza was running late as were a few others so the movie ended at 10. And it was dark. Although I resisted the temptation to move the fridge and couch in front of our doors before going to bed, I think that is the only zombie movie I’ll be watching for a long time.

Saturday night, Kami C. came over for a dinner date. We made the food together and settled on a course of salmon, rice, and zucchini. Everything turned out surprisingly well, cooked quickly, and I had a fantastic time. Kami is from Idaho, served her mission in San Antonio, and is studying nursing at BYU.

Sunday Porter came over like always. He did not get the salmon this time. Instead, I have been experimenting with some lentil recipes and he was the lucky recipient. He was a very good sport about it, and the food turned out better than either of us were expecting. That food being whole-wheat pasta served with a lentil sauce. I cooked some lentils, threw them in the blender, and started adding ingredients until it tasted alright. The winning recipe:

-3 cups (cooked) lentils

-1 Tbsp powdered sugar

-1/2 cup golden raisins (just in case you were worried the lentils wouldn’t provide enough fiber).

-1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

-1/2 tsp white vinegar

-1/2 tsp garlic salt

-1/2 tsp salt

And now a joke:

How do legume wars end?

With a peas treaty.

Lentils have been disregarded for too long. They are a super food in my opinion. The world needs someone to do to lentils what George Washington Carver did to peanuts. And I’m going to give it a shot!

Of course, as much good as lentils can do to our bodies, the souls of the world really needs the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The last few days have been filled with riots and protests over the death of George Floyd. In my 24 years, I have become fully convinced, that until we can comprehend how we are all sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, we will have cause to cry and reason to weep. No government can truly solve societal problems. We need the gospel. I love this quote from President Ezra Taft Benson:

“It is my conviction that the world needs, as it needs no other thing, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the people of the world want what the gospel will give, but they do not realize it. They want the anchor which the gospel provides, which gives them the answers to the problems that face them; that brings them a feeling of security and a feeling of inner peace. The gospel is the only answer to the problems of the world…Only the gospel will save the world from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite [people] of all races and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family.”