Saturday, July 30, 2011

Let's Talk Relationships

Whatever happened to classy?  Just wondering...

Now these guys have an awesome relationship!
Anyways, today's post was inspired by one of my favorite people on the planet.  We don't see each other very often, but she is definitely one of my best friends because we can tell each other anything.

Well, she has recently started dating this awesome guy (don't know him, but he sounds great...especially for her.)  During our brief time together, we started talking about relationships. She asked me an interesting question: is your relationship exciting?  Thinking about it, I decided that it was sometimes exciting, but now it has transformed into fun and comfortable.  She asked if that was the right way to feel and that is what we are going to explore.

Ok, so some people might be like, what the?  Erik obviously has issues in his relationship if it isn't exciting all the time.  Well, I think the "exciting" part is crushing before dating, the transition into dating (also known by me as pseudo-dating), and then the first couple of weeks during dating.  This is why.

It looks like he's ... uh ... leaning.
When you meet a guy/gal that you are attracted to and you think you may like them, you start the slight flirt game dropping hints here and there.  I love this game.  It is pretty fun, and it is exciting.  Any game with high stakes can be like that, and this crush stage is definitely like that.  Didn't you ever talk among your elementary school friends about who you liked or whether or not Betty liked Bobby?  And then everyone would make fun of those two because they were in "love".  That part of relationships is cute, funny, and exciting as it should be.

This one is going to be one to remember....
Then, you start spending more time with each other.  Maybe you are going on dates with the other person, but not exclusively.  You dress up better for this one, treat them better, pay more attention to them, and text them longer thank you's after the dates.  Soon, you stop asking other girls or stop accepting dates from other guys because you really want this one to work.  Yet, you still aren't sure.  Will it really happen?  Will he hold my hand?  Will she accept it?  The guessing game is exciting!  It is fun and quirky and many times it is a little awkward.  I don't think this is as fun as the flirt game, but it is still entertaining.

Movie theaters: the best and worst place to hold hands.
Finally, someone spoke up and the couple is "official."  (I'm not talking facebook official, because I hate that.)  You decide to be exclusive, but you are still acting your "best self" slowly becoming more and more comfortable around them.  This part is still really funny because both of you are working out some essential dating items.  How often do we kiss? Do we hold hands always, or just during romantic times?  How often are we going to be together?  Etc.  That's the fun part and it is the best because it does require communication or it just gets awkward.

After those three stages of the dating process, you begin to get a feel for each other.  You begin to know how the other person is going to act and react to different situations.  You know what they are going to say and what they like or don't like.  Of course, you still are learning about each other and getting closer, but the general aspects you get.  That's not very exciting.  That's comfortable.  It is fun and you can have great times, and then you are going to be doing things for each other that break the norm to "spice" up the relationship.  Those times are exciting, but I feel that for the rest of it, it is more as it is with your best friend.  I wouldn't say that Cy and I have an "exciting" friend-relationship, but we are comfortable with each other, respect one another, and we have a lot of fun together.

In some respects that is how I feel with Jill.  I'm starting to get a feel for the jokes that she likes and trying to make her laugh.  I know the look she gives me when I say something blatantly stupid or sarcastic.  I know that she is going to be comfortable if I go on one of my deep philosophical train of thoughts.  Of course, she will show up sometimes with an amazing drawing she just did or send me a picture of an AWESOME water color that she did this morning.  (Seriously, she is an extraordinary artist).  Those catch me off-guard, but in general, I feel pretty comfortable about it and I am just loving spending time together.

If I was going to have my life be like TV:
It would be I Love Lucy.
Anyways, my friend asked me why in the movies they always seem to have "exciting" relationships.  Why do our relationships turn to this comfortable status rather than maintain the heat.  Well, how much of their relationship do you see?  You usually see from the crush to the first couple weeks of dating. You see their exciting phase.  They aren't going to make a movie about them getting comfortable...because ... it isn't exciting.  We live for that, but it isn't that realistic.  Jill actually posted about that today: life is not like the movies.  I think we need to pull out of the fantasy world of relationships and go back into the real way.

What do y'all think?

PS - remind me that I want to write a piece about classy people and classy relationships...cause we are sooo lacking.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Amazing International Family.

So, I'm pretty sure I have the COOLEST family ever.  William just got his mission call today.  Let me tell you something neat.  Since my dad, William will be the 7th missionary...out of 7!  Isn't that awesome!?  All of us, mother, father, sisters, brothers.  We all went on missions!  So, let me just give you an update.

He served in the 70's in Austria.  German speaking all the way.  Cool huh?

Mom served in Germany and some of Austria.  German Speaker #2!

Rachel set off to Bilbao Spain.  Obviously she spoke Spanish.  


Jeremy was the first to step out of Europe and headed to Montevideo, Uruguay.  He argues that his Spanish his better than the one in Spain.  

Elizabeth took it back to Europe with a call to Bucharest, Romania.  She speaks...Romanian, but also served in a bordering country called Moldova.

Me, I served in Milano, Italy.  Spoke ... Italian.  And it was amazing.

Look at that stud-pasta.  William just got his call to BRAZIL! Porto Alegre South Mission.  That is just SICK!!!!  Bringing it back to South America.

Well, let's just recap: We've got 8 countries now:

We've got 6 Languages

I'm just going to say I'm grateful for such an awesome missionary family.  They truly are the best.   Seriously.  
We are legit legit.
Now - Pictures:

And Congrats to the most awesome little brother in the world:

I'm going to miss you sooo much when you leave.  I love you.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pioneer Day Weekend with my Homies

Sorry about the title...I was listening to a song and they said homies, and so I just put it in there.

Anyways, so at the beginning of the year I promised myself that even though I am in classes I would still have a summer vacation.  Well, if nothing else this last weekend just accomplished that, although I'm not going to stop there!

Friday night was CAPTAIN AMERICA!!!  We decided to go buy tickets early (which was probably a good idea) and while we were waiting Jenn took us to a toy store:

 We love Jenn.  So, we dressed her up in silly costumes and tried to add as many parts as we could.  Unfortunately, there weren't many costumes that would fit since they were all for little kids, but it was still a lot of fun.  We then proceeded to play around with everything in the store.  The attendant even gave us stuff to play with!  It was so much fun!

We then played a couple rounds of volleyball and then went to Captain America (and by being there only 30 minutes before the showing, we got amazing seats right in the middle!).  I think it may be my favorite movie of the summer.  It was soooooo good.  Seriously, it was so worth a 10:30 showing with 30 minutes of previews...even if there were a lot.  Chris and I forgot what movie we came to watch.  But let me tell you, we definitely didn't forget which one we saw.  And yes, I'm proud to be an American.

 That night we went back to Glenwood and played some more games till like 2:30.  Then, I came home and started to read (don't ask why I was reading at like 2:30a) and it got soooo intense that I stayed up for another hour reading until I finished.  Everyone should read this series.  It is sooo awesome and intense: The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind.  I'm on book 7 out of 12 books!!!  Well, that was pretty much awesome.

The next morning I woke up at 8:00 and Aaron and I crashed our old wards breakfast in the park... It was a good thing we went, because there were only like 10 people who showed up.  Yep, Melisa and I had some pretty awesome activities because everyone came to those...or so we thought.  Anyways, it was still fun.  We had some good food provided by the bishopric, played on the "Big Toy" as Jenn calls it (for all of you that are confused right now-as we all were-a big toy refers to a playground.  I just googled Big Toy and it did NOT come up as a playground.  I actually got this:

Yeah, no playground.

Well, then we got to go play volleyball and swim for forever.  Seriously, we were outside from 10a to 5p ish. It was ridiculous, but sooo much fun.  We would go switch from volleyball, to the pool, to volleyball, to water basketball, to volleyball, to marco polo, to volleyball, to foam noodle swordfights, to volleyball, to starfish...haha.  Yeah, you get the point.  It was pretty epic.  Lance is a freakin' beast with a foam noodle.  Watch out for that one!  Volleyball was awesome too, although all in all I am really, really sunburned.  But, only on the places where I put on sunscreen 2 or more times.  So, that's weird.  But it doesn't hurt too bad.  The worst is on my feet.  Ouch.

After that we went to the store to by fireworks and cake making stuff for Rebekah's birthday (which was on Saturday if you failed to congratulate her).  She turned 22!! Happy Birthday!!!  Sorry, I don't have any pictures of the party because Rebekah and her roommates took all of the pictures.  Anyways, we had cake and then went and shot off Aaron's fireworks.  They were pretty legit, especially the last one.  I loved the whole show, especially when the shell exploded just a couple of feet over our head showering us with sparks that should have been way way way above us.  That was exciting!

On Sunday I went to Jill's apartment to see how she was doing and to eat an awesome lunch made by her mother.  It was so delicious!!!  AND we finally "finished" the puzzle we have been doing for the last month.  I'm sure her roommates are really appreciative that it is done.  I say "finished" because apparently we lost one piece right in the middle where the couple is one the bridge.  Just FYI though, I think I want my house full of these paintings.  They are sooo awesome!  This one is Central Park in the Fall.  Isn't that great?  I love this one!  Plus, it was a lot of work doing those trees, let me tell you!

Sunday night we had a nertz party, and I lost ... a lot.  I did end up with a positive score though, but definitely was blown away by the other players in the ward.  Shout out to all of them who are just awesome card players.

Today was soo great!  I woke up around 8ish and walked outside to find Cy reading.  Yes, he was reading. Not just reading, but reading at 8 o'clock in the morning!  That was awesome.  But I understand why.  I gave him my Maze Runner series and he can't put it down either.  I found them today on my bookshelf again, and so I'm assuming that he finished.  If anyone wants to replace the Hunger Games, read Maze Runner.  It is seriously AMAZING.  Do it.

Cy, Syd, and I...well, Cy and Sydney made breakfast and I graced them with my presence....Just kidding.  After some confusion about potato pancakes and bacon powder, we finally had ourselves a nice breakfast with pancakes and eggs.  It was delicious.  At 11, I left to go on a sweet hike with 17 other people from the old ward and other great friends of mine.  It was seriously awesome!  We had a blast!

We went to Stewart Falls (officially names Stewart Cascades) which is a pretty easy hike 2 miles in and another 2 out.  The falls were awesome and really cold, so it cooled us off perfectly.  I loved it!  I went under the falls like 5 times and had a really really big headache coming out, but it was still pretty legit.  It was a nice reprieve from the heat that we've been having here in Provo.  Here are the pictures from the hike.  Other ones can be found on facebook by other people who went.  Tonight we are going to the Spanish Fork fireworks to round off the weekend.  It was seriously the BEST EVER!!!!  I will never make fun of Pioneer Day again.  Ever.

Anywhoop, just got back from seeing the fireworks and it was awesome!  Peace y'all!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's true. I just won $1,000 dollars.

So, today I'm sitting in the JFSB overlooking the beautiful courtyard that I love so much contemplating how I can help the freshman that I work with when I get a call.  I never get calls.  I think my phone is attracted to people who text, so it was strange to see it ringing for once.  It is like the 4th time this week I've had an inbound call.  Unfortunately the number was unknown and I didn't recognize it, so it wasn't one of my close friends.  However, I've lost the numbers to some friends and I was excited to see who it was.

Her name is Taisha Caldwell...from UC Irvine
Well, I answer the phone in my normal, "Hello, this is Erik!" tone and I get a southern black woman on the other line.  Right now you are probably thinking that I am racist or stereotyping, but let me assure you, she was definitely from the African American culture.  She goes, "I am Taisha Jackson..."  (Taisha - Tie-ee-sha).  She goes on to inform me that I won a thousand dollar shopping spree!  AWESOME!  I was like, sure....yeah right.  There is no way I just one $1,000.  That just doesn't happen. She asked if I was excited and I said yes and thanked her for choosing me.  She was taken aback by that, and was like, "Uh...I guess you are welcome.  Yes, quite welcome my young sir."

So she goes on to inform me that the $1,000 is an online shopping spree and all I have to do is pay for the shipping and handling.  I'm cool with that, but I'm still really wary of the "hidden fees."  Like always, they tell me that the fees don't exist...  She said there was no purchase necessary apart from the shipping costs.  Well, that still sounds AWESOME, but really?  So, I let her keep talking.  First of all, she was awesome and we joked a lot together.  She asked for my age and I told her 21 for some reason, even though I'm 22.  She was like, did you just turn 22?  I told her, no...I turned 21 like 6 months ago. She was like, "Mr. Erik, are you feeling okay today?  Usually people get used to their age after 6 months."  We both laughed and she told me a story where she told an officer checking her license at a bar where she was drinking that her age was 19, but she was really 22.  She just messed up...Could you believe that?

Anyways, towards the end, she tells me that I'm going to have to talk to her sweepstakes supervisor.  I'm done with that since I'm getting $1,000 free.  At this point I'm starting to believe it.  I actually finally won something! Yes!

Hahaha, then she got me.

"All that you have to do is pay a discounted price for these magazines for 60 months, you can choose from over 250 and they are awesome magazines, but it is only 3.90$ a week."

Um, what?

60 months?

Holy Cow.


But, I humor her and let her transfer me to her supervisor. Sweet Taisha is like, "My supervisor is going to ask you if I was helpful and considerate to you, would you mind putting in a good word for me?"

Of course I will Taisha.  Anything for my new African American friend from far away.

So, I'm transferred to some dude.  He asked me if I talked to Tie-shah Jackson.  I told him that I was pretty sure her name was Taiha, because that is what she told me.  He asked me if I was sure.  Yes, Mr. I just want you to feel stupid so I'm making up a new pronunciation.  Of course I'm sure, she just told me so.  Anyways, he asked me if she was helpful and considerate: I told him that she was the most wonderful person I had ever talked to on the phone and I would like to talk to her again.

He laughed some.

Then he asked if I had any questions, so I asked what on earth was with this magazine thing.  He tried to sell me the same pitch, but it really works like this.  I pay a monthly fee for the first 24 months that covers all 60 months, so it is like the last 3 years is free.  I don't think he could multiply very well because I tried to clarify saying I paid a fee once a month for two years, and he corrected me saying it was only once a month for 24 months.  um....didn't I just say that?  And to me, 2 years seems shorter than 24 months anyway.

Well, the monthly fee is apparently 36.99$.  So, yes, I checked: that would equal 887$.  Um, no.  Never.  But I thought, well, that would be about $100 gain if I get the shopping spree...But then I thought about it.  I'm not getting $1,000 bucks, I'm just getting $1,000 of stuff that I'll never use and I would have to pay shipping.  I asked him how much shipping generally costs....His estimate: (only) $100.  So, all in all, I would be getting $13 of stuff.  Screw that.  I told him no.  "Why?" he dares to ask, as if he hasn't done the math.  Well, sir, I'm a poor college student who doesn't need magazines...or stuff.  So, he reduces the price for me: 26$ for only 18 months.  Hmm?  That's around $575 with the shipping.  Still no.  He asked me what was making me uncomfortable about that offer.  Well, mr., first of all, you already had that number ready way too quickly, so I know you are just lowering it at intervals and not really trying to give me a deal.  Second, I'm still a poor college kid.  (I only told him the second one).  He said, "But I'm giving you the student discount!"  What student discount?  Lies.  You would have given that to me at the beginning because I already told you that I'm a student.  He asked if there was anything he could do to get me to accept the offer.  I told him $10.  Not $10 a month, $10 bucks.  He said, "It was nice doing business today with you."

Business? I thought I won $1,000??? That was not business.  That was scamming me.  Rude!!!

PS - I meant in no way for this post to be racist.  It just so happened that they were African American and that was the best way to explain the accent they used when talking to me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

America's Education

So, for sociology, we were given an extra-credit assignment to watch a movie called "Waiting for Superman."  The movie described the problem's in America's system of public education.  The first half went through the statistics of student proficiency and started to interview a couple of families from LA to the Bronx.  The average proficiency level ranges from 20-40%!  Holy cow!  That's awful!  In a nation where we are praised for our advancements in technology and credited still with being the most powerful nation in the world, we have forgotten where it all starts: education.  How can we continue with our power if we can't even teach our kids how to read and do math?

The documentary, which I thought was done excellently, went through a couple of possibilities for why the American system is not working and some possible solutions.  It followed one district in particular: Washington D.C. Why?  It has the lowest proficiency level in the country.  Apparently there have been over 12 district superintendents in less than 10 years because none of them can stand it.  So, what did they decide to do?  They appointed a teacher of 3 years to serve one term and to drastically change everything.  How did she start?  By closing down failing schools and firing terrible principals.  You are probably thinking: what the???  And you are probably wondering: why didn't she fire the terrible teachers?

Well, first of all, it helped a lot.  Within a year the proficiency levels of the schools already started to improve drastically.  Reason #2 is the reason that I am incensed and up past my bedtime writing a blog.  She was not allowed to fire bad teachers!  Say what?  Yep.  Apparently the annoying teacher's union has set a contract with the district to give their teachers tenure after 1-2 years.  TENURE?  For high school teachers?  Again, I'm thinking: what the???  There is a large number of teachers that once they just hit their tenure mark, they stop caring.  It makes sense...why care when you are going to get paid for the rest of your life?  So Michelle Rhee, this superintendent lady (I think I spelled her name right) decides to try and bargain with the union.  She offers to reward teachers on a merit system up to 122K$ in salary if they get rid of the tenure system.  Now, their salary is only around 60K$.  That's more than double and into triple figures!  Awesome.  What did the union say?  No.

Now, instead of thinking, I'm SCREAMING: WHAT THE???  Yeah, the dumb teacher's union would rather keep the terrible teachers and tenure, rather than actually working with the job and getting a triple figure salary.  What's worse, since they know that there are terrible teachers keeping their jobs because of this, they are aware that they are practically condemning kids to a terrible academic future.  That union is making progress impossible.  Rhee has done all that she can do to help, but because the teachers are afraid of actual work, they refuse to progress. Are they really thinking about the students and the future of this country or their own lazy hides.  What selfish creatures.

So, I call to all you teachers who are still teaching but you have lost the love of it and don't really try anymore.  Please resign.  Give spots to people with a vision to build the American dream for these students.  Help them out! Either get your hide in gear or leave.  Go work some other job for a meager 40K$, but let people who care come in and teach our children (I say this as if I had kids...I don't...I just care.)

This documentary almost made me want to change my major again.  I want to make a difference in the world and I think that a middle/high school teacher can make that difference.  Education is so fundamental for a functioning society.  Why are these people just letting it fall to ruin.  I would also like to congratulate and thank Rhee for her service and dedication to do what she thought necessary despite a total lack in popularity.  It takes guts to go against the crowd.

They showed a video that a student took from a hidden camera of his teachers.  One just sat there behind the desk reading a paper.  One dipped a kid's head in a soiled toilet.  Others didn't teach, but belittled the students because of their stupidity.  Please leave.  Now.  I don't want you teaching my children and I am ashamed to say that I live in the same country as you.  Some school districts have such tight contracts with unions that even convicted sex offenders after they are released from prison are still given a job.  WT...????  Give me a break.  Are you serious?   Why are we giving high school teachers tenure?  That is so dumb!!!

I am so thankful for parents who are completely invested in my education.  I remember during the summers, my mom and a couple of other families from the area would get together to do fun and educational projects to keep our minds active.  My mother took an active interest in all of our educations.  She took us to museums for fun and we learned to love how to read.

I'm thankful for some of my teachers who really cared about my education.  Mrs. Zauner, Mrs, Bernstein, Mr. Fish, Mrs. Leavitt, Mr. Harris, Mrs. Loerzel, Mrs. Knopp, and more.  They really pushed me along and furthered my desire to succeed in school.  But, I also saw the other end of the spectrum.  I took orchestra from the same teacher for 7 years.  He would spend 40 minutes in his office during class, come in, have us tune, play a scale and then time was up.  That was all he did.  Then he would get mad when the class didn't play well.  I went in once to see what he was doing during those 40 minutes.  Guess what it was: solitare.  He was freaking playing a computer card game instead of teaching.  Did I mention that he was the head of the teacher's union?  Yeah, he had no chance of being fired despite being terrible.  And if you are reading this, you know who you are.

I just wish that people would wake up and start thinking of the future.  Do we really want our country to fail?  Do we want our kids to fall short of their potential.  It is a terrible paradox that once our job market becomes increasingly dependent on technologically skilled people, that our math proficiency levels hover around 30%.  We are going to hit a crisis soon, and there will be little hope to get out of it unless this changes.  I wish I knew what I could do to help.  ...  So, I want to volunteer to be a tutor in high risk areas.  I would love to make a difference in that one child's life.  I want to give him/her an extra chance to be successful...What if we all decided to go volunteer an hour or two of our time a week to tutor a student who is struggling?  I bet we would see an amazing change in our country's future, and that future I would be excited to see.  Let's show the students that we do care and that we do want them to succeed.