Thursday, February 28, 2008

Big T Sighting

Guess who was at our ward building a couple of Sundays ago? Big T baby! (That's Thurl Bailey.) It was Stake Conference week (broadcast version) and I was helping direct traffic when Big T drove right by with his NC State VIP parking pass clearly visible. I surmise that he was in town for the 25 year celebration of NC State's 1983 NCAA championship. I spotted him in the cultural hall later. Sorry Duerden, I didn't get his autograph for you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Conchords Time!

Jed mentioned these guys to me, Flight of the Conchords, just in passing in an email, terrifically funny stuff. Some of you might be familiar with them...but if not, these are two clips that my web browser seems to go to when I have a spare moment.

This is their performance on Letterman. Sort of a joke grenade song, takes a second to get all the jokes.

The witty banter goes on a bit long here. Skip to 2:30 if you get tired of it.

What gets me is the pretty great. Hope you all enjoy them as much as I do.

Concussion Story Time

This post is a chance for everyone who has had a concussion to share their story--okay, non-concussion head wounds will be permitted so long as they are sufficiently gruesome. I was reading about poor Holden smacking his noggin over at My Misadventures and began to reminisce about my own worst head wound.

I was in seventh grade and David McKinnon invited a bunch of guys up to his family's cabin for a sleepover. The merry band included such notables as Duerden, Daniel Ogden and Justin T? (can't remember last name). (You were there, right Duerden?) A bunch of the guys were trying out a rope swing near the cabin so I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately, instead of hanging down from the bar I tried to hold myself up on it with elbows bent (can you picture it?). Apparently my hands completely lost their grip as I swung out over this small gully. The next thing I knew I was lying down in this leafy gully and Daniel Ogden was saying, "C'mon guys, we can't just let him lie here, help me get him up to the cabin!" Apparently I had hit my head on a log--but I couldn't even remember my hands slipping. A couple of guys helped me up the hill to the cabin.

I can't remember if we ate breakfast next or if we had already eaten, but they had me laying on the couch to rest. Suddenly, I had to hurl. I tried to make it through the kitchen to the bathroom but it was too late. I ralphed all over the kitchen floor. The rest is all a blur until I was safe at home. Safe at home, except that no one else was home so Sister Beckstrom had to come check on me and make sure I was okay. Apparently, my parents were gone somewhere but had found out and made arrangements. She gave me an orange creamsicle but I still couldn't hold it down. The worst part was that I was supposed to try and stay awake which was not easy.

I can't remember any more details so this is the end of the story. Perhaps you've had some head trauma you would like to share? Let's limit this to head trauma. We can do other wounds when Mat tells his story about getting crushed by Kirk. Remember, sharing IS caring.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A little help, Mr. Depp?

So last night, during the Oscars broadcast, they played that handsome clip from Sweeney Todd just before Daniel Day-Lewis took the stage to accept his well-deserved Oscar and Johnny Depp looked on peacefully as he has done a couple of other times before. I still think he looks terrible in the thin, slimy mustache he wears, by the way.

But this isn't about Mr. Depp's lost shot at Oscar Gold. This is about my daughter, Hazel.

Hazel loves Sweeney Todd. Loves him. She's never seen him, she doesn't know how pale and menacing he looks, and she doesn't know that he dispatches dozens of innocents with his barber's razors and delivers them to Mrs. Lovett (the whom Hazel also loves) who processes their carcasses into meat pies for the unsuspecting citizens of London to consume with greedy abandon. Hazel does know that Sweeney is angry sometimes, that he sings to his razors and that he has a daughter named Johanna.

So, when the clip came on last night, Hazel came running from the other room when she heard the familiar, darkened strains of Mr. Todd's baritone announcing his plans for vengeance and salvation. And she watched, rapt and fixedly enamored with the 20 second clip of her life's greatest mystery. And when it was over, she looked anxiously at me and then back at the TV, and then back at me. Her eyes questioned the possible return of the demon barber. Instead, Day-Lewis made the predicted walk and rattled on about something with words too big for her to follow. So she left.

Later she questioned me about Johanna. When could she see her? Was she going to sing? And what about Toby and the funny Italian? And I had nothing reassuring to tell her.

Hazel knows the order of the soundtrack. If the player is on random, it frustrates her to no end. She has her favorite tracks, characters, and plot points. If you let her have control of the player, she'll scan back and repeat the same few bars of My Friends until your nerves are frayed and you have to find a polite way to ask her to quit. The part she likes is at the end when the pipe organ crashes out the famous phrase swing your razor high, Sweeney... As the prologue and interludes didn't make the transition from stage to screen, those words are never sung, and I am saved the careful explanation of what they mean.

So, Mr. Depp, what am I to do? Can you help, Mr. Sondheim? Mr. Burton? Is there a reason your morbidly dark and gruesome bloodbath is so attractive to my perfectly untainted four year-old daughter? On the surface it seems the thing that only a seedy adult like me would go for, but somewhere in the tangled brier of note and lyric, you've laced it with something for children!? How dare you.

What do I tell her now? She asks every other day when she can see Sweeney and my excuse about the theater is losing its foundation by the day. Not too long ago, someone mentioned renting the movie in a conversation aside from her and her play, but she piped up and informed the chattering adults that it wasn't out yet. Not on DVD. I didn't even know she was aware of the concept.

I've also mentioned that it's not really a kids movie. And when she asked why I said that there are some parts that are scary and nobody should see them. She asked why they were scary and I said that Sweeney Todd was angry and hurt some people. She asked if she could see the not-scary parts and I stammered a lot and said we'd talk about it later. Then she asked why Sweeney was angry and I tried to change the subject.

So, Mr. Depp, I could use a hand, here. Anything you could offer to help me establish moral order again would be appreciated. A bloody lot.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Biology 101: Group Project

In the library

Today we met in the library to have the science librarian show the students how to use the library's resources for their group project. Their project is to choose a biology-related issue that a congressman would need objective information about and then write a paper and give a presentation in class.

They wanted to know how many references they are supposed to use in the paper? That sort of blew my mind. I can't remember the last time a teacher told me the minimum number of references to use for a paper. Someone said, "How about two or three?" To which I replied, "Hmmm, I don't know. I would think more like twenty." Moans of dismay. "All right, let me think about it and I'll let you know."

This is your chance to help out or injure my students. How many references should I require them to use and why? Take into consideration that I'm not requiring them to use primary scientific literature and the paper will be ten pages double-spaced.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Biology 101: Biomolecule boredom

Lecture 6

I think my class reached new lows in boredom today. I need to figure out how to make carbohydrates, nucleic acids, proteins and lipids exciting (maybe it's not possible). I spent a lot of time talking about amino acids, monosaccharides, fatty acids and nucleotides and how they are formed into polymers that make up most biomolecules. I think the way to do it for non-biologists is to cut back on the actual chemical structures (which is what the textbook spends a fair amount of time on) and spend more time talking about what each group does in the human body. For example, what happens to sugar when you eat it? What happens to protein? What happens to lipid? You could also talk about things that are made out of each component. Your hair and nails are made out of proteins, your muscles are high in protein with some lipids and some carbohydrate stored as glycogen. My biggest problem here is that I haven't taken human biology since high school. It's definitely an area I will need to study.

So if you weren't a biologist what would you most want to know about carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and nucleic acids? How do you convey some fundamental information and still make it relevant to someone who doesn't really need to know the difference between a hydrophobic and a hydrophilic amino acid? Or do you just make them learn facts knowing that they will probably never use them after they take your final?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Biology 101: Introductions

It has begun! I have 22 students in my section of biology 101 for non-majors. Our course takes places MWF at a small liberal arts college in North Carolina. Hold onto your seats as I document the breathtaking peaks and gut-wrenching valleys of this herculean journey through biology education.

Lecture 2
On the first day of class almost all of the students were seated ten minutes early. This time they are early again. Maybe students are on time to class because the campus is small. As I stand around waiting for class to begin my most talkative student asks, "Where are you from?"

Me: Utah

Students: Whoa!! What's in Utah? Why are you in North Carolina?

Me: I don't know, mountains? They had a good program.
(Various murmurs about skiing.)

Students: Do you ski?

Me: No.

Students: What!?! You lived in Utah and you never skied? How about snowboarding?

Me: Nope.

Talkative student: So are you Mormon?
(Murmurs of "that's kind of personal" from other students.)

Me: Yes.

I can't remember where the discussion went next. I give the class their first reading quiz. The class averages 3.2 out of 5 points.

Lecture 3 (before class)

Talkative student: So, are Mormons allowed to have piercings?

(Is that a random question or what? You're supposed to ask me about not drinking or something like that.)

Me: We're encouraged not to-well, I guess girls can have their ears pierced-but no one is going to throw you out of the church if you do.

Other student: Whoa, so does that mean you went and did . . . what's it called where you go for two years?

Me: A mission. Yeah, I was a missionary for my church for two years in South Korea.

Talkative: So, would you say you are really religious?

Me: I think most people would think I was.

Talkative: Does it interfere with your life?

Me: I don't know, I mean it kind of is my life so it doesn't really interfere.

I can't remember where the discussion went next but we start class and I give them their second quiz smackdown. They do better this time scoring an average of 3.8 out of 5 points.

If this doesn't get you excited you must not be ALIVE!

Old Harrison looking somewhat spry, yes?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

For all PHS Graduates who have the '96 Yearbook

I was recently flipping through, trying not to read ANY sentiments written to me, and found 2 pictures which brought me much delight. If you are still in possession of this yearbook, turn first to page 109 to the NSSP page and look at the right side of the picture on the 1st and 2nd rows to see some folks who made it into the picture without a credit...

But EVEN BETTER is the NHS picture on pages 196 and 197. Now the funniest part of the picture isn't the girl kissing the other girl on the cheek, or Ghandi and K-Jax (was that his nickname? Was is Jack-o? K-Fed? Lame-o? Someone help me out...) making an obscene gesture. No no, there are much funnier images than these.

First look at the middle of the page by Ross Cox, then turn your attention to the last row in the back. I don't think you'll be disappointed if you take the time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Is Old Spice Right for Me?

I've never tried this, but let's see if we can get this to work. Because we should not have to live in this world and not see this commercial.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Sensitive Artists

Chenae was wandering around on the internet and was quite surprised when she found this sensitive artist like picture of Jed and me.

At first I was surpised because I never remember taking pictures in black turtle necks with Jed but then I realized it was actually a picture of Simon and Garfunkel. But it got me thinking that maybe my true calling in life is to become a musician. Jed if you're interested in touring with me great, if not I'm going in on my own.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Japanese Tetris . . . Naoto!!!!

Has anyone seen this before? It's brilliant! We probably need Naoto's input to appreciate fully the more subtle cultural meanings.

I know there are lots of other great Japanese game shows out there. Do you have a favorite one? There's always "The Happy Smile Super Challenge Family Wish Show" from the Simpsons.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Biggest Super Bowl Eye Opener

For me, the biggest eye opener of the superbowl wasn't the crushing pass rush the Giants lay down on Tom Brady, or the unexpected confidence of Eli Manning in the closing moments of the fourth quarter, or the endless barrage of strange and mostly un-funny commercials, or the collective arrogance of the Patriots seemingly overthrown by team that was simply more motivated.

No, none of those things surprised me as much as this one thing...

Tom Petty is freaking old.

Did anyone see the halftime show? Well, if you didn't, Mr. Petty and his heartbreakers put on a pretty technically sound show. They sounded good, and played some good songs, 3/4 of which were from 'Full Moon Fever'

Also, if you missed the show you missed Tom sporting an old guy beard, pasty complexion and looking about 25 pounds heavier than the weedy version I've grown accustomed to.

And when I thought about it, I realized I saw Tom Petty in the Delta Center with my dad 12 YEARS AGO! Now I've seen Zep, Dave Mattews Band, and Interpol...and that Tom Petty concert had 5 times as much weed going around as all of those concerts COMBINED! At one point a glassy eyed young man turned to my father, the colonel, and asked "Hey man, got any zigzags?" To which my Dad replied ""

That was a great concert. So good, it put all of the studio tracks off of the albums to shame. I remember pulling out "Don't come around here no more" and not even being able to finish in on the CD, whereas in concert that track blew me away.

So to see Tom looking so old made me realize that even Rockers get old. Despite their wanting to "die" before they become it.