Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

So, I know this is a cop-out post. More is coming; I promise. But for now, I wish you the very best and happiest holidays. (And share the lyrics from my favorite Christmas song. Because why not?)

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Behold your King.

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

London Love #3: St. Paul’s Cathedral

Well, really all the churches. Before the Great Fire of London in 1666, there were 97 churches in the “City of London.” I think, today, the area of greater London called “City of London” actually represents about a square mile. That’s not a lot of space for 97 churches, so the area might have been a bit larger in the 1666 definition; London itself was obviously much smaller at that time, so it might just mean “London.” (In fact, I just learned the other day how London exploded in the last 150— or maybe 175 — years with modern transportation. Before that it grew much more “moderately.”) After the fire, 51 were rebuilt by a man named Sir Christopher Wren (and then more were rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries).

Today 38 of those churches survive. The point here is: London has lots of churches. If you walk around downtown London, you’ll see one every few steps, and they’re all totally spectacular in their own way.

I love that religion is deeply seated in the culture of London, even if London is now in many ways — like the rest of the world — generally irreligious. European culture and cities are incredibly deep. It’s just part of the mix of feelings that you simply can’t avoid walking down the street. You just can’t find that in the States. There’s something indescribably powerful about being surrounded by humanity in a place where there have been masses of people for centuries. (I wish I could speak more eloquently about it, but let’s face it; this is a blog, so you are all subjected to my ramblings as they topple out of my head.)

Back to churches. Of course, London is not unique in this sense: Rome wouldn’t be Rome without the Vatican. Paris would not be Paris without Notre Dame. What's Florence without the Duomo? The list could go on. And London’s pièce de résistance? St. Paul’s.

St. Paul’s was one of the churches built by Sir Christopher Wren. It has the second largest dome in the world (after St. Peter’s at the Vatican). It’s huge. I am amazed at the amount of money, time, creativity, dedication, and other resources that went into buildings for worshipping God over the centuries. Especially when it was much more difficult and taxing. And yet it was ubiquitous. It’s compelling, beautiful and certainly demands some amount of consideration. You can’t help but think about it when you see such incredible buildings. You can just imagine how St. Paul’s appeared when all the other buildings were so small and the next tallest buildings were church spires. There is still a by-law that prevents any taller buildings from being erected within in certain radius of the cathedral.

I’ll end my post with a little excerpt from a book I’ve been reading. The description is actually about Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, but it’s fitting of all great churches I’ve visited. It explains the love I have for St. Paul’s, some portion of which is meted out into London culture, and why I’ll miss that part of London so much:

“Looking back at that moment [when I first visited], I understand that I had lived in books so long, in my narrow university setting [or whatever occupies your time], that I had become compressed by them internally. Suddenly, in this echoing house of Byzantium – one of the wonders of history – my spirit leaped out of its confines. I knew in that instant that, whatever happened, I could never go back to my old constraints. I wanted to follow life upward, to expand with it outward, the way this enormous interior swelled upward and outward. My heart swelled with it, as it never had during all my wandering among the Dutch merchants [insert your wandering here].”

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Flowers are easier.

I'm just putting some stuff out there; it's not amazing, but I kind of like some of it.

This woman's feet mesmerized me as she walked. I could have taken a crisp shot, obviously, but I thought this was more like "mesmerizing." Her shoes were so colorful.

I just liked this doorway -- but unfortunately the shot got a little washed out/grainy. (I was trying to take pictures without the flash and just get the lighting right on my own. It's harder than it sounds.)

This bird was cool. He was hanging out at an ice-skating rink.

See the coolness?

Like most everyone at the rink, he had a date. I thought this was cute -- gazing into each others' eyes.

I like the lights overhead in the picture. And the whiteness of the girl's hat.

I loved the color coming in from this window.

I just liked this when I was walking down the stairs. So I thought: "picture."

I like words and shapes.

I still like words.

I still like shapes.


This is the crest for the British monarch. "Dieu et mon droit." French for "God and my right."

I just liked her face here. I hope she's not mad at me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I have a confession. I think the Google Mail "tea house"-setting fox may be more industrious than me.

He's only been on my computer a short time and he's already watered the garden, cleaned the bird bath, pruned the rose bushes/garden, cleaned the house, slept, practiced Tai Chi, and now he's pruning a Bonsai tree.

Stop putting me to shame, Tea house Fox. Stop it. This is why I wanted to keep my settings at "classic." I just can't take it anymore!

And now he's having tea and biscuits with his monkey friend. I've found a new role model.

Friday, November 21, 2008

You gotta help me out. Yeeeeah-ah-ah-ah.

A few "OUT" photos.

And one "IN."

And one building.

And one mediocre picture of my pumpkin, even though Halloween was ages ago.

That is all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sorry if this story's redundant.

So, the other day, I was at a friend's house: showering, getting ready for the day. They were out for the morning, so I was taking it a little easy this particular morning. I come out of the bathroom: wet hair, no makeup (of course), my face a little red because I'm mildly allergic to my face lotion. (It's the sunscreen, but what can you do?)

That is when I met this person:

Oh. Hello, Mr. Supermodel Man.

The family I was staying with just forgot to mention that their best friend, who is a highly sought-after model, would be stopping by because he lives with them when he's in London. Although I felt like I was rolling with the punches, I'm sure he found my "uh... uhh... Hi..." a little funny. Actually, I don't think I was that bad. But, let's just say I was aware that I'm not a model.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

London Love #2: Riding the tube.

It's true. I love riding the tube. Sure, there are lots of people, and sometimes your face is shoved into the unwashed armpit of the man next to you. Sometimes you're jostled and shoved more than you'd like. And everything has some kind of icky, greasy coating -- sometimes black, sometimes clear. But it's great! I wouldn't want to do it every day for the rest of my life, but it's exhilarating. It's one of the experiences that makes such a huge city feel alive.

Plus, as we are all learning, I love to people-watch, and there is no better place than the tube. What I find most funny about riding the underground is watching all the people avoid looking at each other. It's the awkwardness of pretending you're alone on an elevator times ten.

I think many of the riders like people-watching more than I do, but they don't want anyone to know. You catch the end of their gaze in your direction, or watch them bashfully look away when someone else notices their glance. Sometimes I like to do the opposite: One of my favorite things to do is try to catch someone's eye and smile at them. They never smile back. I don't think it's happened once. It cracks me up.

Oh. I could go on. There are just so many things to love about the tube. The interesting stations, the voices telling you to "mind the gap," the wind as the trains rush past you. The advertisements. There is an exhibit here of the last 100 years of tube "adverts." It's fascinating.

Underground, I will miss you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes, We Can.

Say what you will about his sweeping promises, his great ideas without a real plan to implement them (which I believe is probably the broadest criticism); I'm so excited to have a President who expects something from Americans, and encourages and inspires us to be more:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Part 1: Things I Love About London

I suppose my post about cloned mice doesn't really count. So, I'm starting a series: Things I Love About London. I kind of wish I had a small camera. It's hard to whip out your big ol' SLR and inconspicuously take a snap shot. However, I'm going to become better at this, so future posts can include pictures, dag-nab-it. (Even if they're only cell phone pictures.)

(Also, my pictures from class aren't that interesting right now. One week we learned all about aperture and shutter speed. The next: lenses. Basically, this means a lot of the same photo over and over with different lighting and movement, but nothing fantastic. If something fantastic comes out of it, I'll be sure to share.)

Love #1: European fashion. We're all aware that Utah has its own fashion sense: in some ways we're at the forefront of the industry; in more ways, we're not. Somehow I've always connected with European fashion -- which is not to say that I LOOK like I do. But, I wish I did.

For instance, European women rock scarves and stoles. I would love to be able to pull that off a bit more successfully, but also find scarves and stoles worth wearing. They're on every corner here. I guess that means one thing: shopping.

But, sometimes it's not necessarily the outfit I'm dying for when I think of European fashion. I mean, I'm not exactly yearning to wear a short, black sweater dress with bright blue tights, brown slouchy boots, and a brown, purple and orange jacket. Or bright-pink-and-purple-mottled knit legwarmers under some jeans, peeking out over athletic-style heels. Or a purple tank-top, grey shrug and a bright green poofy-slip-looking skirt, with black tights and blue ballet flats. And yet? I kind of dig it.

European women can wear ANYthing, and it's desirable. And so are they. How does one get that accessory? The slightly-quirky confidence. If I can only take one thing home with me, that's it. (Which might start with a purple tank-top, grey shrug, a bright green poofy-slip-looking skirt, black tights, and some blue ballet flats.)

(P.S. For more fashion things I'm interested in right now, see this post from Little Muggy.)

(P.P.S. I hope you're all voting today.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Jurassic Park

was one of my favorite movies. My tiny "scrapbook" from my growing up years includes my ticket from opening night. There were lots of cool ideas in that movie, starting with graphics that redefined "special effects" to -- of course -- the idea of growing baby dinosaurs from ancient DNA.

This article (frozen mice cloned) has everyone wondering if Jurassic Park will be a reality. I'm not sure I'm that interested in the idea, but I do think the science is interesting. Check it out.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What do you want?

Why is it that we never really want what’s good for us? We either recognize what’s good for us and refuse it despite that knowledge, OR we know it’s bad for us and go after it regardless. Or, I suppose, we don’t go after anything at all and let life happen to us instead of trying to influence the outcome. Why?

Ironically, I’m convinced it comes from selfishness and self-absorption. Sounds ridiculous, right? If we were doing what’s selfish, we’d clearly pick what’s best for us. Not so, dear reader.

It’s like we’re on a game show: “Well, contestant one, you’ve got some great prizes here.
  • “Door # 1: A vacation to Ghana: where you’ll be steeped in culture, go on a photo safari, and have the opportunity to build 15 water wells and help implement a new educational curriculum in several local grade schools.
  • “Door # 2: A vacation to Las Vegas: where you’ll stay at the luxurious Bellagio, see Cirque de Soleil and Blue Man group, gamble away a year’s worth of savings, and get so drunk that you cheat on your significant other. But boy, will it be fun.
  • “Door # 3: Mystery vacation: You could end up in the middle of Death Valley, CA or escape to your own private island at the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, in Maldives. (Small print: chances of Death Valley are significantly higher, given the number of spaces allotted to it on the roulette wheel.)

I contend that an unfortunate majority of people would choose number two or number three. They’d look at three and say: “Pure luxury! One of the Top 10 beach resorts in the entire world. So what if I end up in Death Valley? At least I tried!” Never mind that the odds are in favor of this choice being worse than either of the other two options.

They’d look at number two and say: “Hey! That sounds fun. A few minor side-effects, but I can work through it. How nice it would feel to run around with abandon.” This would be life-changing, more than anyone would willingly admit to themselves. But it’s a good time. To heck with consequences.

And they’d look at number one and say: “What? No way. It’s dirty, not at all luxurious, and I’d have to work! Maybe the safari would be cool, but not at that cost.” Of course they’d discount that it would get them outside of their narrow world view, encourage meaningful service, allow them to make a difference in the world and that this would change their lives forever, too – for the better.

I’ve no doubt that some of you, dear readers, are offended by my assumptions about your character. Of course these scenarios are exaggerated to make a point, and I implicate myself, not you, among the historically poor decision makers. Even the fear of the unknown is not enough to dissuade me from the fear of the known good sometimes.

Why? I’m selfish.

I’ve wondered some about my decision to come to London. It wasn’t something that was actively on my radar screen (it was always beeping, somewhere in the distance, thanks to kind offers from my family), but making it a reality popped in my head months ago, and I couldn’t remove it. More than that, everything seemed to work out to promote my coming over here: generosity on the part of my workplace, my family here in London, and my family in the States, support and encouragement from people that are meaningful to me, and of course a program that provided exactly what I was interested in. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’m given in my life, and I’m not ignorant of all the people that make them possible. But back to the point at hand: Am I choosing door one, two, or three?

Is there some greater purpose to my time here? (I’ve had some experiences and made some realizations that could support a yes answer.) Is it completely selfish? (Again, I’ve had some experiences and made some realizations that could support a yes answer.) Or am I just throwing my dice on the table in game of Craps, hoping that life will bring me something good?

The problem with answering these questions often comes not from purposeful selfishness, but from the selfishness created by not knowing what one wants. It sounds silly, I know. But people overcome the desire for door two and the silly risk of door three all the time. Every day. These are the people who know what they want — and won’t settle for less than the guaranteed method of achieving it. And while acting based on what you ultimately want is a form of selfishness, usually most people’s ultimate goals also benefit others.

When you don’t know what you want, what’s the risk in door three, or the harm in door two? And although the consequences are still real, they don’t seem to matter so much in the short term. Hence the above thinking about door one; selfishness from short-sightedness. Maybe the need for door one increases with the people least likely to select it. One of my favorite adages is: “You can have anything you want, but not everything.” Life is full of trade-offs, but the problem with not knowing what you really want is that you may discover you made a bad trade: got the Maserati, but can’t afford food or a house anymore.

So, how do you decide what you really want? By being less selfish. It’s a bit of a Catch 22, isn’t it? Now my question has to be, can you become less selfish while you’re still in the middle of experiencing door two? Can you be drunk in Vegas, attending Zumanity (bleh) and even gain enough self-awareness to be less selfish?

Luckily for me, I’m pretty certain I didn’t pick door two, but I have to ask myself, just in case.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tag: Six quirky things.

1) When I'm scared, I like to have my hands covered. Somehow it makes me feel safe.

2) I like to have the silverware evenly distributed in the dishwasher. It's not obsessive; but I'm somewhat meticulous about it.

3) I'm not sure if it's a quirk or a compulsion, but I get bored with my hair easily. Speaking of which... Saturday can't come soon enough.

4) I like to begin sentences with "And." I don't know why. And it's not all the time. (See?! I can't help it!) It's just kind of fun.

5) I'm probably most comfortable in skirts. I wear them a lot. I like them. I mean, jeans are great. But I rarely get home from work and change unless I have somewhere to be.

6) I don't like sleeping with my head in the middle of the pillow. I always sleep with my face at the edge of the pillow.


I admire people who share themselves readily. I'm going to work on that.

Today, I have a whole slew of quotes from "Gigi" rumbling around in my head. I think everyone should watch this movie forthwith! (Most especially: me.) The quote that got me started, though, was, "I'd rather be miserable with you than without you." It just popped in there, not entirely unprovoked, and the flood gates opened; Oh, Gigi! Am I a fool without a mind? Quite possibly.

Yesterday, my class was a review of kindergarten: "This is a triangle. This is a square. What's this shape, class? A circle? Good!" Today, we got a much harder (read: 8 hour) assignment on comping type. This class reminds me of my friend Sarah.

I've been trying to find the soundtrack to my life lately: something that I can listen to and think, "That's it exactly!" I've been doing a little Priscilla Ahn, The Weepies, Kings of Leon, Joshua Radin, Damien Jurado, Fleet Foxes, Jenny Lewis, TV on the Radio, Keane, Tristan Prettyman, Jose Gonzales. Missy Higgins. Radiohead. Despite the excellent choices, my aesthetic connections feel a little fleeting. I suppose soundtracks are almost always mixtapes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Hello, my dear readers. I'm sorry to overwhelm you with photos today, but I have to post my assignments to the web. I'll write something more interesting soon, but for now: PHOTOS GALORE! (I suppose I could use Flickr or something, but I'm doing it this way for now. Hee. Also, some of these might be awesome in black and white. What do you think?)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Only on the street where [I] live

Variations on a theme:

I'm not sure what I think about how these worked out. But, hey, I'm learning, and it's a cool idea.