Friday, July 31, 2009

Big Plans For August

Summer is far from over. We have a month left before school starts, and we are going to jam-pack it with fun things! Our plans include hanging out with Russell's best buddy Gabe this weekend, going to Colorado to visit Bri and Mary-Jane, celebrating our first wedding anniversary in some fun and creative way, playing with family, attending some wedding receptions of our study abroad friends, ransacking all the farmers markets and yard sales we can get to, enjoying fun nights out in Salt Lake City, and hiking to the top of Mt. Timpanogos with my family. Well, with everybody except Katie. Anyone who knows my younger sister knows that she would rather get her gums scraped than climb a mountain.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Appreciate Good Writing

I am currently reading Abraham Verghese's Cutting For Stone. Katie gave it to me for my birthday. It's taking me some time to get through because each sentence is heavy with brilliant literary devices, beyond vivid imagery and incredibly expressed ideas. I am relishing every line and trying to take it all in.

Here are some gems I've found, so you can get a small taste of what the entire book is like:

As the good abbess watched the two waving figures on the ship's rail recede to white dots, she felt a twinge of apprehension. Whaf if by their blind obedience to her grand scheme they were being condemned to a horrible fate? "The English missionaries have the almighty Empire behind them...but what of my girls?" She wrote that the seagull's shrill quarreling and the splatter of bird excreta had marred the grand send-off she had envisioned. She was distracted by the overpowering scent of rotten fish, and rotted wood, and by the bare-chested stevedores whose betel-nut-stained mouths drooled lechery at the sight of her brood of virgins.

She sat sideways looking out. She saw a gray dart below - the shadow cast by the plane on the ocean. A giant fish she imagined was swimming just below the surface of the sea, keeping pace with her. The water looked cool and inviting, unlike the interior of the plane, which had grown less steamy but was still thick with the mingled scents of the human freight. The Arabs had the dry, musty smell of a grain cellar; the Asians contributed the ginger and garlic; and from the whites came the odor of a milk-soaked bib.

Good writing, eh? (Yes, just because I went to Canada I think I can start talking like them.) I love authors that aren't afraid to push grammar principles to unexplored areas. I love the spice and flavor provided by varied sentence structure, appositives, and delayed adjectives. I love sentences rich with detailed descriptions. This spring, I took ENG 329, Teaching Grammar in High School, and it was surprisingly one of the most enjoyable classes of my BYU experience. I began to realize the value of grammar instruction in school. I learned ways to teach grammar to students in fun, interesting mini-lessons. I discovered that grammar, when mastered, has the potential to greatly enhance writing, not only in its correct usage, but also in the very breaking of its rules.

Now, any time I read anything, I read it more closely and delight more fully in the creative construction of mind-blowing writing-which, I won't ever forget, first and foremost comes from applying correct grammar principles.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oh Canada!

Russ and I just got back from a trip to British Columbia and Alberta with his family! Despite cold and rainy weather, we had a blast! I guess that's America's way of slapping us for leaving her soil on her birthday.

Here's Konrad and Russ securing our luggage on the top of the car. They did this often.
Our first stop was Spokane, Washington, where we enjoyed 4th of July booths, outdoor music, and plenty of carnival food. Nothing not to like about this city!

The first difference I noticed in Canada - their Golden Arch has a cute little maple leaf in it!

We had fun swimming in our aunt and uncle's pool. Pay no attention to all the black make-up under my eyes.

Alison and I at Glacier National Park - the mountains were breathtaking!

Russ and I went for a walk in Golden. I was really afraid of being attacked by a bear, but the scenery was gorgeous!

Takakkaw Falls - the second-highest waterfall in western Canada. I looked it up and Takakkaw is derived from the Cree word for "it is wonderful". Yes, it is.

Beautiful Lake Louise! The water is green because of rock flour that is carried into the lake by melted water from the glaciers. Very cool.

How convenient that this official-looking Mountee was waiting for us to take a picture with him!

Downtown Calgary has a much more impressive skyline than Salt Lake City.

We went to the world-famous Rocky's Burger Bus. Russell the carnivore finally met his match at the self-proclaimed "home of the meat orgy." He ate himself sick!

We ate lunch with some of the Lee cousins that live close to Calgary. It was fun to meet new family and visit.

We went to our cousins' house and they live by a manmade community lake. It was beautiful!

Audrey and I got a rowboat ride. It was really fun.

The most hilarious road sign we saw on our drive home. For 5,000 years, Indians used this cliff to drive buffalo off and kill them.

We stopped at the Cardston temple on the way home. The temple was gorgeous and very unique. I'm happy that families are forever.

Konrad and Diane, thank you so much for the trip! I'm so happy we had the chance to go. I loved Canada and I hope to visit again soon!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How to Win an Argument

Courtesy of Dave Barry, 1981
Make things up.
Don't just say: "I think Peruvians are underpaid." Say: "The average Peruvian's salary in 1981 dollars adjusted for the revised tax base is $1,452.81 per annum, which is $836.07 before the mean gross poverty level."
NOTE: Always make up exact figures.
If an opponent asks you where you got your information, make THAT up too. Say: "This information comes from Dr. Hovel T. Moon's study for the Mumford Commission published May 11, 1982. Didn't you read it?"
Use meaningless but weightly-sounding words and phrases.
Memorize this list:
-Let me put it this way
-In terms of
-Per se
-As it were
-So to speak
You should also memorize some Latin abbreviations such as "Q.E.D.", "e.g.", and "i.e." These are all short for "I speak Latin, and you do not."
Here's how to use these words and phrases. Suppose you want to say: "Peruvians would like to order appetizers more often, but they don't have enough money."
You never win arguments talking like that. But you WILL win if you say: "Let me put it this way. In terms of appetizers vis-a-vis Peruvians, they would like to order them more often, so to speak, but they do not have enough money per se, as it were."
Only a fool would challenge that statement.
Use snappy and irrelevant comebacks
You need an arsenal of all-purpose irrelevant phrases to fire back at your opponents when they make valid points. The best are:
-You're being defensive.
-You're begging the question.
-Don't compare apples and oranges.
-What are your parameters?
This last one is especially valuable. Nobody, other than mathematicians, has the vaguest idea what "parameters" means.
Here's how to use your comebacks:
You say: "As Abraham Lincoln said in 1873..."
Your opponent says: "Lincoln died in 1865."
You say: "You're begging the question."
You say: "Liberians, like most Asians..."
Your opponent says: "Liberia is in Africa."
You say: "You're being defensive."
Compare your opponent to Adolf Hitler.
This is your heavy artillery, for when your opponent is obviously right and you are spectacularly wrong. Bring him up subtly. Say: "That sounds suspiciously like something Adolf Hitler might say."
You now know how to out-argue anybody.