Jul 29, 2010

Three For One

You lucky readers, you. I'm writing three blog entries in one post today. Maybe more. I'm not sure. Shut up.

I'm sorry. Please come back. Ok. That was close.

So post #1: Cable vs. Netflix.
Cable=0, Netflix=1,962,477,935,080

HOA= -100. Some of you may know that our HOA recently stopped providing us with cable while still charging us the same HOA fees. Nice. You may also know that Netflix is now offering streaming movies via the Wii. Long post short, we've been watching all kinds o' stuff with our Wii Netflix and loving it. Thank you Charity and James for informing us on that, thank you Brad for getting it to work for us, and thank you Netflix for putting Blockbuster out of business.

Post #2: Idaho Jones and
the Kingdom of the Golden Plates

It's that time again! Troy and Jen, our relatives in Northern California are doing another activity and commissioning another play/skit from Tracie and Austin Writing Productions. Last year there was a Western/Pioneer theme, the year before was a Pirate theme. This year, in case you can't tell, is an Indiana Jones theme! We're looking forward to writing it and are hard at work procrastinating it to the last minute like always!

Post #3: The Suspense is Killing Me

Not really killing me. It's just poking at me with a pointy stick. I had an interview for a Team Lead position at work on Monday. I wasn't going to interview for it originally, mostly because I'm still not 100% healed after getting a new metal rod for a femur and because I'm in school and so work weird hours.
But my team lead took me aside and told me I really should apply for the position, so I did. It was the first time I think I've interviewed for a job with people I was already working for, and I think I conducted myself well and have a very good chance. The Department Manager (who was my team lead when I started) told me that they're aware I have a weird schedule and it was not an issue, and he also told me flat out that I had some of the best answers to his questions that he's ever heard. So, go me. I'll let you know the outcome, and if I ever interview for the coveted Pen Testing Position.

Rootinest Tootinest

Sweet Fancy Moses, it's Thursday! Where did this week go? I was going to write about our weekend, and I still will, but holy moly, it's almost the weekend again.

So, Saturday was nice. We went to Spanish Fork all day. At my Uncle Paul's house we saw my Aunt Kerri and Uncle Robert and cousins Emily and Nicholas as well as brother Ammon and his wife Lynette and their kids Carly and Wesley and also got to meet our newest niece Lexie! It was great to see and visit with everyone (Uncle Jim's family was there too) as well as show off Morgan and visit and laugh with family.

Then we went to our sister-in-law Cheryl's mom's house, as Cheryl and Tyler are sodding their backyard (is that the correct term? It sounds vulgar) where we enjoyed barbecue and family and fireworks. Some enjoyed the Slip N Slide, I, still not 100% better from getting a new hip, was somewhat of a party pooper and spent half the time in the swinging bench and the other half chasing after Morgan. He seemed to enjoy the Slip N Slide (eventually) and according to Tracie was enraptured by the fireworks. I missed them, as I was quite sleepy and took a nap on the couch. As I get older, I get more boring. I haven't been interested in fireworks in years though. After awhile they all look the same. Maybe I just need to recapture that childlike sense of wonder I had once. Or maybe I just need to go to bed earlier. Tracie's brother Troy came also to surprise his family, who've been visiting all month. It was great to see him, it's been too long since we last did.

Sunday we went to our cousins Brett and Charlotte's clubhouse for a Valantine family get together. Sadly not much of the Utah Valantines were represented, just my Uncle Mark and Brett and Charlotte, Nana and Grandpa and Ammon's family (who were the reason for the get together) but it was nice to spend more time with Ammon's family as well as eat some of the best brownies I have ever had. The rest of the food was good too but Sweet Fancy Moses those brownies rocked. I am not one to talk about food, but think of the best brownie you've ever eaten. Now add marshmallow creme. Now add peanut butter. And now I'm drooling again.

Then Tuesday we were treated to dinner by Aunt Kerri and Uncle Robert to Mimi's. I forget how much fun they are and even as I've gotten older, just how cool Aunt Kerri is. I will never have an older sister, but Kerri would have been better anyway. :) (yes I have sisters-in-law, and I am grateful for and love them, but that's really not the same).

Yesterday I went to visit Ammon who's watching Wesley who was feeling sick. It was good to visit one on one (mostly) with my brother, and I realize now that my roughhousing with Wes probably wasn't the most conscientious I've been, remembering only now that he was sick. Oh well. What didn't kill him made him stronger, right?

Now that it's almost the weekend again, it's almost time for my Mother to get here! We've got so much to do! We've got to go shopping and clean the house and make Morgan all cute and figure out where she's going to sleep and learn the recipe for those brownies!

Hope your 24th weekend was fun and family filled as ours. (and the week after)

Jul 26, 2010

Avoiding Homework

At least I'm being honest about it.

I really enjoy my creative writing class. It's great to be in an environment with so many writers with stimulating writing exercises and assignments as well as stimulating writing workshopping.

That being said, I'm in big trouble. I brought my latest assignment for peer review today and the feedback I got was... unexpected. I should point out that this piece, in my opinion, is one of the roughest and weakest things I've written. And. They. LOVED. It.

I couldn't get them to say anything negative. Not one. More importantly, I couldn't get any feedback or criticism, constructive or otherwise. I even asked verbatim "Imagine you hated it. What would you suggest for me to improve?" And I got nothing. They did point out different passages and descriptions and images they liked though.

While this was fantastic for my ego (I felt like my head was ready to explode) it was not good for revising. How am I supposed to cut out and revise and edit what 3 of my classmates loved? I realize that while this is a nice problem to have, it's still a problem. If I turn it in to the teacher like this, I'll have my head on a proverbial pike. And I like my egolicious head proverbial pikeless.

So what can I do? Tracie supportively told me she thinks it's awful, or that it still needs a lot of work, but I can't bring myself to working on it. I love it too much too.

I'm tempted to ask people to bring me down again, tell me I'm awful and a hack and can't write to save my little life, or that my writing life isn't worth saving. But no thanks. That would just replace my current problem with a more depressing one.

I know my story needs work, but now I can't see where the problems are.

So what is an ego-boosted writer to do?

Jul 22, 2010

They're coming


I'm so excited, my brother's family who I haven't seen in years (it feels like years. I think it's been 2, but still) is coming to Utah this weekend, as well as my Aunt's family, who I'm so close to in age and relationship that I feel she's more like my big sister (I'm closer in age to her than she is to my dad).

Then, the next week, my MOM is coming to stay with us!!! I'm so excited! I just can't hide it. They're coming.

Jul 16, 2010

Guilty Pleasures


I love fast food. If it wasn't for fast food, I would be thin. And then I would starve to death.

I know it's bad for me, but I don't care. It's cheap and fast and tasty. However, some of the food I like more than others.

I wouldn't go to Carl's Jr. if they didn't have the Breakfast Burger.

I'd ignore Taco Bell if not for the Double Decker Taco.

McDonald would be a foreign word for me if they discontinued the parfait.

Sonic. No Ocean Water, no business.

Arby's would be empty of Austin if it were devoid of Curly Fries. Precious, precious curly fries.

And I'm glad Jack in the Box isn't in Utah county. It's the only thing keeping me from becoming completely obese.

At least ever since In N Out decided maybe it's a good idea to expand our deliciousness places other than California.

What are some of your favorite guilty pleasures?

Quotes to live your life by,

Quotes I try to live my life by, anyway.

"The time to make up your mind about people- is never."
-Philip Barry

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."
-Mark Twain

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see."
-Arthur Schopenhauer

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but having new eyes."
-Marcel Proust

"All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Everybody's dying to be someone else but I'll live my life if it kills me."
-E.E. Cummings

"As I have loved you, love one another. By this shall all men know ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another."
-Jesus the Christ

"Fiction is the lie that reveals the truth."
-Tim O'Brien

"Does it mean this, does it mean that, that's all anybody wants to know. (Forget) them, darling. I say what any decent poet would say if you dared ask him to analyze his work. If you see it, dear, then it's there."
-Freddy Mercury

"My sense of importance to the world is relatively small. On the other hand, my sense of importance to myself is tremendous."
-Noël Coward

"Every prayer is heard. Every sincere prayer is answered."
-John A Widtsoe

"I plan to live forever. So far, so good."
-Steven Wright

"If ye have not charity, ye are nothing."
-A lot of people. Paul, Moroni, Zenos, and Austin for starters.

"It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities."
-J.K. Rowling

"My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me."
-Winston Churchill

this should probably be its own entry, as they're the most numerous, and all by Oscar Wilde, but just deal with it.

"A man who does not think for himself does not think at all."

"All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling."

"Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much."

"Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."

"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."

"I am not young enough to know everything."

"I am the only person in the world I should like to know thoroughly."

"If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all."

"Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about."

"One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards."

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live."

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."

"There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating - people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing."

"True friends stab you in the front."

"Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong."

and...

"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance."

Writing about Writing

Just wanted to say hi. Hi. Life is good. Our house is such a mess that I have trouble finding places to sit or walk. Partially (mostly) because we have a curious little 1 year old munchkin living off us, partially (mostly) because I haven't been doing my share of the housework lately, which is partially (partially) because I have so much school and work taking up so much time, and partially (mostly) because I have too much fun playing video games.

Now I want to write about writing, Creative Writing, specifically. I really enjoy the class, it's a lesson in humility. I say this because the last creative writing class I took (about 10 years ago) I felt I was among the best, if not the best, writer in the class. Now, ten years later, I feel among the best, there are a lot of very good writers in my class, of which I am one, in my opinion. It's good to mingle and learn with so many other talented writers as well.

The teacher I greatly like, whether or not she likes me, that is to be decided. Several papers she has seemed upset with either my writing or my criticism of some of the required reading, but she also has always made valid points to my writing or feelings. For example, I emphatically did not like one of the required readings, "The Diamond Mine" by Nadine Gordimer. While I realize now I was being arrogant in my assessment that the author is a "third rate Joyce Carol Oates" and the type of story has been "done before and far better than this writer attempts," I felt that the teacher was also unfair in her statement that I need to "get humble" and "being a critic is not your job at this stage of your creative life."

While a valid point, I was just stating that I didn't like a story and gave reasons why I didn't like it. In case you're wondering what the story was about, it depends on who you ask. One person called it a "beautiful story of a young girl's sexual awakening during wartime," I called it "the story of a horny 24 year old soldier heavy petting a 16 year old before he went off to war, while in the car with her parents." But, we can't like everything or please everybody, and I will not change my opinion or feelings, whether or not I'm at that stage in my creative life.

I still admire the teacher and by the end of each class I look forward to the next class.

Another thing to come out of this class is the story of Nick the Thief. If you've read Glass Of Random lately, Nick pops up twice. Basically, he's someone who can't communicate or form relationships with others in a traditional way. So he steals things from them, breaks into their cars and homes, sifts through their trash to try to understand and connect with people. Nick is now featured in 3 exercises, and I enjoy writing about him, as well as a story that's not fantasy. Not that I don't enjoy fantasy, but I've had it pointed out to me before that that's mostly what I write, so it's somewhat liberating to write one story that isn't.

Several facebook friends and otherwise have introduced me to I Write Like. Which is a website where you can enter text that you wrote, and the website will analyze word choice and writing style and tell you what writers you write like.
I've done this several times, with different things I've written. Final census, my fiction is either like J.K. Rowling or Douglas Adams, my blog is usually like Stephen King. This particular entry is apparently like Margaret Atwood. I was hoping for more along the lines of Neil Gaiman or Oscar Wilde, but the Douglas Adams or J.K. Rowling thing ain't that bad.
The interesting thing, someone else has posted writing from various famous authors, and it gave interesting results. I can't find it now, but it was something like "I posted writing from the Declaration of Independence, and it said you write like Edgar Allan Poe. I posted "The Raven" by Poe and it said you write like Shakespeare. I posted the 18th Sonnet by Shakespeare and it said you write like Charles Dickens, etc etc. Which they then stated the obvious, writers don't always write like themselves.

If you wanna check it out, here's the link (I posted it already, but here it is again in case you missed the link to iwl.me) If you do, let me know who you write like.


I write like
Austin Beckstrom

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


Jul 14, 2010

To: Tracie From: Austin. Lyrics by: Queen.


.


Look into my eyes and you'll see I'm the only one.
You've captured my heart, stolen my love;
Changed my life.
Every time you make a move you destroy my mind
And the way you touch- I lose control and shiver deep inside:

You take my breath away.

You can reduce me to tears with a single
Sigh.
Every breath that you take - Any sound that you make is a
Whisper in my ear. I would give up all my life for just one kiss
I could surely die if you dismiss me from your love,

You take my breath away.

So please don't go, don't leave me here all by myself,
I get ever so lonely from time to time.
I will find you anywhere you go,
I'll be right behind you, right until the ends of the earth.
I'll get no sleep till I find you to tell you that

You just take my breath away.

I will find you anywhere you go,
Right until the ends of the earth.
I'll get no sleep 'til I find you
To tell you
When I've found you -

I love you.

.

Jul 13, 2010

Reasons to Go Green


I am aware of the irony that I'm making a NOTEPAD out of PAPER stating that we should Go Green. But then, maybe that's why the list is blank...

Jul 12, 2010

It's gonna be BIG!

The latest progress in technology from Penny arcade.

Jul 8, 2010

Chuckles


I've finally seen season one! We recently borrowed "Chuck" from "Charity and James" and "watched it."

I started watching it way back when it started, then watched a few episodes with "Aaron and Heidi" while "visiting" them in "Arizona." Ok, this joke is "over."

I really like it, it's a great mix of action and comedy, leaning more towards the comedy, but very effective at blending the two, instead of "this is an action scene, now later this is a comedy scene."

I'm sure that most of you have seen it at least those who want to, so here are just my observations, no synopsis needed.

I like that there's a (male) character named Morgan, even if he is a furry man-boy whose purpose seems to be to make Chuck cooler, smarter, handsomer and less geeky by comparison. I really like the character, but let's just say I don't hope my son takes him as a role model.

While flawed, it's a good season with a lot of promise, and I've added the next season to my Netflix.

Adam Baldwin as Casey is definitely my favorite, but I'll watch and say that about almost any "Firefly" alumni. (Except Summer Glau. Girl looks like the lovechild of Kelsey Grammer and a troll doll's forehead.) It's the reason I tune in to "Castle" every week.

My biggest/possible only gripe of the show is how much the writers try telling us things we are already picking up on. Every time someone (Chuck) tells Sarah "you're so pretty." it makes her less pretty. Same goes for Chuck. Every regular cast member informs every guest to the show what a "nice guy" Chuck is. I don't know about you, but that lessens the impact for me. You don't need to tell us. Anytime a character's qualities are repeatedly repeated over and over and over again, in repetition, my agreeing-with-the-matter meter goes down. Example, Lana from Smallville. "Face it, Lana. You're awesome!" No, she is not.

But, hopefully the show will get better and I'll have to find something new to complain about.

NO spoilers, but for those of you who have seen it, does it get better? Or will Sarah eventually morph into a mutant beast woman and Chuck become Hitler after hearing "you're so pretty" "you're so nice" deafen my concerned ears?

Jul 7, 2010

SkillsUSA-Utah Edition

I did this last semester for the national competition for my digital prepress class, now the assignment was do it for Utah's. We had to design a logo that would look good on a t-shirt or pin, using no more than five colors. Here is what I came up with:

Jul 6, 2010

And I Saw The Sun

Happy Independence Day, everybody! What better way to celebrate the birth of our nation than blowing up a small part of it, while eating a burger, a brat, and a steak. It's what our founding fathers would want.

Repeating others' jokes aside, we had a very nice Independence Day weekend, and hope you did too. By weekend, I mostly mean Saturday.

Friday night we celebrated our anniversary by going out to dinner at China Lily and going to see Toy Story 3, while Morgan stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's. Food was good, the company was the best (each other) and the movie was fantastic, as all Pixar movies are. Still not sure if it is my favorite Toy Story or not, but it was a great way to end the franchise, I couldn't have done it any better.

Morgan stayed at Grandma's the whole night, our first night away from our little boy. It was nice to relax and not have to worry about him, but we still missed him terribly, which is nice. If we didn't, I'd be a little worried. ;)

Saturday Jen, Maddie and Eric (our sister in law and niece and nephew) from Madera, CA came to visit, and the whole family (well, the whole Utah County family) and they went to Seven Peaks for fun in the sun. It was the first time I've gone without going on any of the line slides, on account of my leg, my son, and not wanting to wait in the lines or go up the stairs, and it was still one of the most fun times I've had there. Morgan didn't care for it at first, but he warmed up to it as the sun warmed up the water. (We got there at 11, so it was still pretty cold. I tried going down a kid slide with him on my lap, but either my butt's too fat, or there wasn't enough water, or both, because I got stuck on the slide and had to scoot my way down with a freaked out little boy on my lap.) But he loved the wave pool and I look forward to coming back again when he is older and when I remember to put sunscreen on my upper back.

After the water park we went to Tracie's parents for a delicious barbecue and lawn games and obligatory blowing crap up. A great way to celebrate. We regret not being able to attend Brett and Charlotte's holiday barbecue, but we were so exhausted we could hardly move. Even as much as I missed him, I considered asking (begging) Morgan's Grandpa and Grandma to watch him again.

Sunday was very relaxing, we had leftovers and still recuperated from the day before, while the sunburns on my back got worse.

Monday I decided to go into work. Not sure what possessed me to sign up for it at the time, but I did. It mostly involved working on my homework (20 page autobiography) and watching "Hot Rod" which I still don't think is as good or as funny as others seem to want me to.

That's pretty much our holiday weekend in a nutshell, with a few other tidbits nestled in there as well, how was your Fourth of July?