Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Conference Weekend - a week late

I love conference weekend. At first I think ugh - 8 hours of talks. But, as always, I'm left feeling incredibly grateful and completely humbled after listening to our prophet and leaders who have such amazing counsel and instruction. On Sunday, to keep myself busy, and hence awake, I ended up completing a project a year in the making. My sister asked me to paint something on a pink wooden bench for my niece. I finally decided on a pattern and it took me all day to paint (which is why I put it off for so long) but it turned out really, really cute. I'm rather proud of myself - never having attempting anything like it before. I'm going to post a better photo soon since you can't really see it in this photo from my cell phone camera.
My favorite talk was from Elder Wirthlin. He's so cute and I always love his sports analogies. I was rereading his talk today and one paragraph jumped out at me. Part of what he said touched me so deeply that I can't help but feel like the Lord is trying to tell me something today. Which is what I believe happens when something you read or see or think about suddenly smacks you in the forehead, so to speak. Which I really, really, really needed today.

In the talk, "Come What May, and Love It," Elder Wirthlin talks about learning to cope with hard times and adversity. He gave four principles for helping us deal with trials, and one of them was called the principle of compensation. He says,
"The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude."
and then later:
"I know why there must be opposition in all things. Adversity, if handled correctly, can be a blessing in our lives. We can learn to love it. As we look for humor, seek for the eternal perspective, understand the principle of compensation, and draw near to our Heavenly Father, we can endure hardship and trial. We can say . . . “Come what may, and love it.”

Thursday, October 2, 2008

False Advertisement

So - I want to know if anyone else has experienced this. You need gas for your car. You notice that a Chevron station has the lowest price in town - if you can count $3.49 as the lowest price. You begin to fill your car with gas and notice that the price at the pump is not $3.49, but $3.5495. WHAT? I have heard that some gas stations advertise lower prices for paying cash, but there were no visible signs around saying so. Who do you report this to? Especially when you find out that this particular gas station (who will NOT remain nameless - Lee's Roundup Chevron in AF on State street) has been doing this for a few weeks now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Heart NYC

It took entirely too long, but here it is, pictures from my trip to NYC. I had mixed feelings about this trip right when I got back, but I think that has to do more with the fact that I was there for work and thus stuck in the basement of a convention center for most of the day instead of enjoying this:
I didn't get to do everything that I wanted, but I really had a good time. I had some ideas of what I thought it was going to be like, but NYC surprised me. The food was definitely better than I could have possibly imagined (except Broadway Joe's on restaurant row - complete waste of precious NYC time). Since I was there for work, I got to do some things that tourists usually don't do. Such as:

Walk to work every morning with my (temporarily) fellow New Yorkers. I love how they don't bother to wait on the corner for the light to cross the street. They walk 10 feet out into the middle of the street and dart across whilst taxis zoom around them. I tell you what, in more ways than one do you put your life on the line in that city.
Attend a Microsoft sponsored cocktail party at a very cool restaurant/bar called The Park. The venue was incredible. But the party completely sucked - i.e. A bunch of nerds getting drunk and sleazy married sales dudes hitting on me then trying to pass it off as a sales pitch. In a back room, away from said drunken married sales sleazes, there were these cool benches made from huge driftwood logs, a massive fireplace with a wooden buffalo head hanging over it, and lovely paper lanterns and disco balls hanging from the ceiling.
It took me a minute to realize I'd seen this room before in a movie that Lori and I had watched a week earlier called "My Sassy Girl." Good movie - a little wacky, but funny and cute. So I took a picture.
Cab rides were also entertaining - I actually enjoyed that immensely. Seriously, the drivers are INSANE - and yet, completely in control. They cut other drivers off left and right, successfully cram three cars and a bus into two lanes, and basically drive like banshees. The first near-death experience was the drive from JFK into Manhattan. Rodrigo drove his shiny black Suburban (all leather interior) like he was back in Ecuador - there must not be a Spanish translation for "pedestrian." My next narrow escape was when I caught a taxi to a meeting at the Hudson hotel (gorgeous hotel, by the by). Jafar, from Morocco, talked the whole time looking in the rear view mirror and yet still managed to miss other cars by inches. Instead of being freaked out that we'd get in an accident, I rather enjoyed the whole thing. People who whine about how Utah is full of bad drivers who cut them off, etc. clearly have not traveled enough (go to South Caroline or Oahu, Hawaii - that'll teach you some patience on the road).

I did get to do some touristy things as well:
Double-decker bus tour: Seriously cheesy, but it's a great way to see a lot of the city and plan out where you want to spend your time.

Walking around Times Square:
Statue of Liberty: There was a cute foreign dude on the boat. 9/11 memorial. It may be just a big hole in the ground, but it was definitely sacred ground. I felt the same electric buzzing in the air here that I have felt in other sacred places. I got really choked up reading all the names of the people who died - I was so far away when it happened, but it just sickens me that people would do such a thing. This statue was on the original site of the World Trade Centers and was damaged. It was put in this park as a memorial.
Empire State Building: I didn't go to the top. I think I had to recover from the shock of finding out that the building that I'd always thought was the Empire State Building is actually the Chrysler building.
Wicked on Broadway: It was pretty good - I'm a little surprised at the crazed and fanatic following it has generated (no musical I've ever seen can even come close to Les Miserables), but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I teared up a bit during the song "For Good" becuase it was sung at my grandma's funeral.

I ate loads and loads of food on this trip. Some places actually have a sandwich nazi (a la Seinfeld) who won't take your order if you are not ready to yell it out within two seconds of walking in the door.

Also, I had no idea that I've been eating inferior cheesecake my whole life. In fact, I wonder if all cheesecake NOT originating from the island of Manhattan should now be called "imitation kheesekake" (like imitation krab, except that real crab is also yucky). Anyway, once you taste the real deal in NYC, it's hard not to compare all other cheesecake to wet cardboard.

Also a little disappointing were the Magnolia bakery cupcakes. I'm not sure if they just had an off day or what, but they were too dry and a little bland.
The best ones are the vanilla with chocolate frosting, but even they weren't as good as Lori's cupcakes.
Lori > Magnolia.

Ah, the pizza. Greasy, shady-looking, corner shop with no where to sit. Ah, the sausage, the basil, the sauce! Ah, the crust and the mountains of cheese! It is truly two feet of glorious wedge-shaped heaven on earth!

Grey's Papaya. Onions: spicy, hot dog: juicy, Papaya drink: frosty, Line: extremely long. Final analysis: YUM!
There are some tasty, tasty restaurants in the NYC. The Brooklyn Diner, for example, where I had my first chocolate egg cream. I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly was not $5 worth of carbonated yoo-hoo with whipped merengue. I did like it though. I also had a spectacularly delicious steak taco salad at Johnny Utah's (alas, I had a Broadway play to get to and therefore couldn't show the New Yorkers how it's done on the mechanical bull. I have no idea why, but I've always wanted to ride one of those things).

Favorites: The park - holy cow! It's huge, wild, and has cool old bridges and buildings. The buildings - I couldn't take enough pictures of all the architecture. The food - I think I gained 10 pounds, for reals. Lady Liberty = inspiring. Greenwich village/SoHo = I could spend some serious time (and money) there. And the shopping! I spent loads of money but I got some great stuff including, but not limited to: a bright yellow pleather purse, a knock-off Lucky Brand necklace and a black dress from street vendors, and of course a bunch of stuff from H&M and Urban Outfitters.