Thursday, August 31, 2006

utah hearts president bush part 1

i have so much to write, that i'm going to have to do it in two posts. last night was a momentous occasion. my sister got tickets to go see president bush when he arrived in utah to speak to the state leaders and the american legion. it was pretty amazing actually, and there were hundreds of people there. and a whole herd of very hot young republicans - i was almost too busyhot young republican checking all the hot guys out to watch for the president to show up. we went to a utah national guard airbase just east of the slc airport and got to see airfoce 1 land and taxi up to the waiting crowd. then a huge stairway ramp was lowered from the front of the plane and out stepped president bush. he said a few words to the crowd from a podium, which were very inspiring and interesting.

one thing i do remember about his speech is that he was very focused on defending our country and he said that it was his main duty to protect the united states of america from harm and that he took it very seriously. he also said that he believed in an almighty, and he believed that the almighty would have for every person in the world their god-given right to be free. he also said, "i'm a tell the veterans how much america appreciates their service to the united states, of, uh, america." he's an interesting man - even through his southern style of speaking, which isn't the slickest in the world, you can still tell that he's very capable and dedicated to what he does. it was a really great experience to be there.

my sister, micol, a.k.a. the "golden child," somehow always ends up being right in the middle of the action. i swear, the girl has a gift for turning even the most routine of experiences into amazing. she told us that she could tell where the president was going to go to meet the crowd, and sure enough, there he was, shaking hands and kissing babies. my nephew got to touch the president's hand, and micol got to rub his arm (both of his hands were already being shaken, and she just had to do something, so she vigorously rubbed his arm - and she was absolutely ecstatic about it). then we saw doug wright from ksl talk radio, and of course my sister knows him personally and went up to talk to him. as people were asking for photos and autographs from him, he stops everything just to talk to her. he puts his arm around her and thanked her for the book she sent his son (he collects old volumes of the book, the red badge of courage and she saw one at the thrift store and sent it to him). i'm telling you, the girl has a rare gift. she has spoken at the capitol, been on the news several times, hangs out with powerful politicians, and always has amazing and unusual stories to tell. actually, come to think of it, my brother has the same gift. whether he's going on trips to lake powell with professional wakeboarders to film footage for an xbox game or showing snowboarding pros how it's done down little cloud at snowbird, the kid always has these crazy "you won't believe it, but it's true" stories. everything from meeting the incredible hulk at a gas station in nowhere, wyoming to personally delivering a marble back-splash to harrison ford at his ranch in jackson hole. i can't figure out how we're even related. the stuff that usually happens to me is more embarrassing than amazing - like the time i accidentally said "venereal" instead of vernal at my first work meeting at byu, and when i was driving home from a business trip in colorado and i drove away from the gas station with the gas hose still in the gas tank and the cashier ran out screaming every obscenity imaginable at me.

*things overheard at very republican rally to meet the president*

"bush! look over here!" - screamed out by a 14-ish year-old kid who was going nuts over seeing the president and screaming like he was seeing his favorite band in concert.

"i'll do you right over here" - said by one of four extremely hot young republicans taking our tickets at the gate. my only response to this was, unfortunately, "shubluh bluh."

"see, that girl is listening to music too, except she's not singing out loud" - thankfully pointed outthe plane, the plane! by a mother to her teenage daughter and friend who were sharing the headphones of an ipod and were attempting to harmonize to some crappy broadway song from wicked or some other similarly overrated and tacky musical.

utah hearts president bush part 2

in the last four years i have really gotten involved in politics. what used to seem like torture during the political science unit of my ap history class in high school is now one of my favorite things to learn about. i think it hit me a few years ago that if i'm going to have to pay taxes on my hard earned money, i should very well be familiar with what goes on up on the hill.
i posted in part 1 how i got to go see president bush's arrival in utah last night. all i have been hearing about on talk radio is how many protests there were going to be in salt lake city this week - anti-bush protests, anti-war protests, pro-bush protests, support the troops protests, bring the troops home protests, some crazy guy who hired homeless people from the shelter in a "death to israel" protest (what the?!?). i'm going to go ahead and put in my two cents on the situation at hand, my own "what i think of the state of the union" speech. now, i realize that a lot of people tend to get offended when politics is the topic of conversation. but let me state here and now that this is not meant to offend or get anyone all heated up. i believe it's perfectly possible to have a friendly discussion about politics, religion and what a jackass the mayor of salt lake city is making of himself without getting into a massive fight about it. i look at the big picture when it comes to politics. i look at the situation from all sides then i come up with a conclusion - this is how i see the situation at hand. let's get it on!

now let me be clear, i do not agree with the president on everything nor do i support every major decisions he has made. as a moderate republican, i think he is the best man for the job. i really do. he does not back down from what he thinks is the best decision and that is rare in this world. for the most part, i think he has done the best job that can be done under the circumstances. i still maintain that unless you have an eye-witness account to what really goes on and you personally know what kind of intelligence is being presented, you can't really say whether going into iraq was the right thing to do or if it was a complete mistake. it's impossible for the general population to have anything better than a mildly educated guess - including myself. who can say except for the few people who are privilege to that kind of information? if we actually knew of everything that goes on in the world and how close some of it comes to happening before it is stopped, i'm sure none of us would sleep at night.

i am not a proponent of war - i don't think fighting will ever solve anything. but there are some powerful people in this world that really aren't interested in talking things out first. think about this - break the situation down to it's most basic level - answer yes or no: are the people of iraq better off now than they were when saddam was in power? the answer is yes, hands down (if you don't believe me, then you have no idea what that country was like 8 years ago). what i will never understand is that the people who consider themselves as "liberal" never stop to think about the people they are talking about and so called defending. there really is no clear reason for us to have invaded iraq - that is absolutely true. however, if this horrible war gives the people who live there a better life, even if it takes 10 more years to do it, how can that not be worth the cost? how is it okay for us, as americans, to have freedom of speech, a safe place to live, women can run for office or be any profession they choose, the military is optional rather than forced upon our young adults (no one ever talks about how being in the military is 100% optional - if you don't want to deal with the possibility of being called to active duty, by all means, don't join the danged armed forces - billy idol gets it). so what makes us so much better than them? why is it okay for us to live in a land of opportunity, but not them? why am i more worthy of an education, freedom to speak my mind, a driver's license, than THEM.

I'm tired of "us" vs. "them." i really do believe that everyone is created equal - and i am not about to perpetuate the idea that social class, religious belief, race or location on this planet makes me more worthy of basic human rights than another person who happened to be born in afghanistan or iraq or syria or sudan or anywhere else suffering from oppression by the gross misuse of power. i am no better than the women of afghanistan - so why would i ever, ever say that it's okay for us to have all these things, but not afghan women - we should leave them alone with their culture, their lifestyle, their lack of opportunity, their lack of choice, their oppression. that's their problem. now - lest i be misunderstood, i do not believe that we should trot all over the world taking over other countries and forcing them into democracy. however, if the people of iraq end up getting a better system of government in the long run, then that alone is worth it. we do not live isolated in the world anymore - this planet is rapidly shrinking. i believe in gatekeeping. it seems to be the only way right now to curb unchecked funding and support of terrorist groups. and until everyone can learn to be more tolerant of each other, this is what we have to work with.

if you think about it, it's just like that episode in little house on the prairie when laura pushes nelly olsen down a hill in a wheelchair to prove that she isn't really paralyzed after all. it may have hurt a bit, but everyone was better off after nelly flew head first into the pond by the sawmill.

Friday, August 25, 2006

guilty pleasures

what would life be without our guilty pleasures? last weekend i went to the salt lake county fair. that's right. my feet were filthy from walking around in flip flops in the fairground dirt. i paid $5 for a bag of kettle corn (totally worth it), i gazed longingly at the giant purple stuffed dragon that a mullet-rocking boyfriend should have won for me, i even thought seriously about going on a pony ride. the main reason for going to the fair, as much as i love county fairs, was the demolition derby that night. now, if you have never been to a demolition derby my friends, you are missing out on one of the greatest spectacles of man vs. machine ever seen. it is a gritty display of unleaded horsepower, fearless driving, and men in tight, acid-wash jeans. where else but in the american west can you find such a display of mullets over matter? crash-'em-up derby's have got to be one of my favorite events of the summer. every spring i eagerly google any demolition derby listing in utah. there are at least 10 of them each summer and i make sure i attend at least one. i also make sure i expose my less-cultured friends to some fine entertainment and fascinating people watching.

this year was no disappointment, my friends. as i was heading to the restrooms, i caught a glimpse of a handsome and mysterious stranger wearing boots whiter than the purest snow, shorts shorter than milli vanilli's career, and a sleeveless shirt revealing muscled biceps that took my breath away. now this was what i was waiting for! unfortunately, i was speechless. so i just watched, mouth agape, as he strut by (i say strut because he did not walk - it may have been the too-tight shorts or his over-confidence in his ability to win the chicken dance dance-off). you can't buy that kind of entertainment - it merely graces you with it's presence if you are lucky and if you are in the right line for the port-o-potty (pictures coming soon - don't forget to check back, you won't want to miss them).

now, i do not feel the need to explain myself in any way, even though they are called "guilty" pleasures, i certainly do not feel any guilt for enjoying the enjoyable things in life. my personal ethics have been questioned time and time again when i innocently mention to someone in general conversation that i went to a monster truck rally or rodeo last weekend. in fact, i have a friend [who shall (chris) remain (chris) nameless (chris!)] who has many times referred to me as being "white trash." so - in an effort to clue in all you sorry, unadventurous stiffs, i have decided to admit to all of the guilty pleasures that i frequently enjoy. that's right, some of my secret passions will be revealed, and you will not be able to hold these against me any longer now that i publicly and proudly admit to it all! (it worked for hugh grant).

trust me, these are top notch guilty pleasures. admit it - you secretly love them too.

* demolition derby's
* gas station nachos
* costco hot dogs
* carnivals
* watching motocross
* finding "swimmin' holes"
* fishing with easy cheese
* dutch oven cookin'
* cowboys
* rodeos
* riding horses bareback
* funnel cakes
* muscle cars - especially the GTO and '69 camaro
* the dukes of hazzard
* kenny rogers and dolly parton duets
* boys that work on cars shirtless
* steak

what are your guilty pleasures? share with the group > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 comment!

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

life imitating art

lately i’ve been wanting to get back into photography. it’s been a long time since i’ve gone out to take pictures. sometimes i forget that I don’t need to go on vacation to find amazing photo opportunities. i’ve been looking around people’s blogs and decided that i’m missing some great moments because i didn’t think about them as photo-worthy. And since i’ve been searching for something to do with my life and want to get back to my more artistic side (i’ve been editing and writing and designing curriculum too long) i recently remembered how much i love taking pictures when i went on a fishing trip with some friends. i took the digital camera from work and started taking pictures of everything. i need to start taking a camera everywhere i go.

i love how photography makes you look at the world a different way. i love how certain angles and colors can create art as well as capture an event. i love how photos break things and events down into basic shapes and colors. i like that pictures remind us to focus on the details when it seems we often get so overwhelmed by life.

i used to take pictures all the time and i have somehow gotten too busy for it. my favorite is landscape photography – which requires a lot of traveling – which i love but have little time and money for. people are harder to shoot because that perfectly candid shot is hard to get – they always seem to be aware of me and the camera and look right into the lens. you’d think it wouldn’t be difficult for me at all since i seem to blend right into the background at any social function and am practically invisible. which brings me to another reason to get back into what i love doing. for too long I have been too busy doing what i have to do that i've forgotten what i love to do. i want to make time to be creative again – i love doing water colors and i haven’t painted in years. it reminds me to really see the world around me – teaches us to search for beauty in the everyday. and even if my pictures aren’t museum exhibit worthy, it will help me to appreciate what is important in life.