Sunday, January 30, 2011

Missionary Story

I wanted to post just a quick experience I had this week as a result of Jimmer tearing it up for BYU basketball. I have a friend who saw the highlights on sports center. He asked me about Jimmer and as a result I was able to talk about the church.

Yesterday I took him grocery shopping since he doesn't have a car and has to walk 3 miles round trip in order to go shopping. While we were shopping he asked more questions about the church and I was able to basically give a first missionary lesson. He is just curious about the church. I wouldn't say he is interested.

Well, last night he invited me to go to his place to watch the Celtics-Lakers game that was happening this afternoon. He is from Boston and Rhode Island so naturally he loves everything New England. I don't like to watch sports on Sunday, but as the game was at 3:30 and I have church until 4, and I had to leave at 5:40 to go home teach a family I figured by the time I got there the game would be almost over and we would probably just sit around and talk, not even things religious. I was right. We just relaxed and shot the breeze. The neat experience was that I was able to give him a Book of Mormon during this time. As I said, I don't think he's interested right now but he is curious about what we believe and why. He grew up Catholic but thinks Jesus was more of a good guy than our Savior. I don't know what will happen but it felt really good to have a positive missionary experience. I also wasn't too nervous giving him a Book of Mormon, which was a relief.

So the moral of the story is that BYU has athletics to spread the gospel. Yes, sometimes the athletes make poor choices and it would drive me nuts when I would see the athletes get away with things as students at BYU. Yet, there are those that play well and draw national attention. And BYU being a church school this brings attention to our church. So even though I get really annoyed with how the sports teams act or play, they do provide missionary opportunities. And for that, all can be forgiven.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Time to Settle the Debate

Since the dawn of milk men, there has been a raging debate that has encompassed our everyday lives. This debate isn't to be taken lightly either. Family relationships have been known to be strained, sometimes even ruined. The debate: what type of milk to drink, which means what type of milk to purchase. In some houses this can get pretty touchy. Do we go with the delicious, creamy, and delectable smoothness of whole milk/2% even though it is a little on the fatty side, or the wimpy and flavorless skim/1% milk to have "good" health? Well, I have an answer, and I think most of you are going to like it.

The big reason we even debate this issue is because we are worried about the fat content of whole/2% milk. If we aren't careful, it can get pretty high. For this very reason many people (myself included) switch to skim/1%. We look at it as being safer and healthier to consume. Under certain circumstances, this actually isn't the case.

There are two key ingredients that milk is famous for: calcium and vitamin D. They are essential to bone health and for some people can be very highly under-consumed. Women especially should be consuming good amounts of calcium and vitamin D as the stores in their body greatly decrease after menopause, resulting in osteoporosis and other bone problems. Side note: some studies have shown that caffeine depletes calcium stores as well, so hold off on the soda.

The problem is, calcium and vitamin D need to be with fat in order to be absorbed by our body. No fat, no absorption. The only milk percentages that have the proper amount of fat is whole and 2%. So unless you drink skim or 1% with a meal that has at least 5 grams of fat, you won't be getting any of that precious calcium or vitamin D, which is why most of us drink milk in the first place.

So 2%/whole milk lovers rejoice! Or at least be happy that in the great milk debate, you now have some pretty good ammunition.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jimmer Fever

Okay, so let's face it, if you haven't heard of Jimmer Fredett by now you are 1) a bitter Utah fan who ignores him with the hope that he will just go away or 2) you live in Pakistan. Since no one from Pakistan has ever checked out my blog (I know because I periodically check my stats), I know that all of you readers out here have heard of him. He, and rightfully so, has taken the nation by storm. In fact I think even my dad is developing a small man-crush on him. The tone of his voice as he excitedly talked about Jimmer's amazing game like President Obama used to talk about his health care reform plan basically proves this. It's okay Dad, you are not alone. In fact every BYU fan, ESPN writer, and simple basketball fan from our western to eastern borders as a nation is catching the Jimmer fever. It's epidemic.

And what does this mean for me? Well, for the moment I can't be upset at BYU athletics. You see, I really don't like BYU athletics, and here's why: they mess with your emotions. They are like a verbally abusive girlfriend who at first says nice and sweet things to you, emotionally luring you in, but then eventually shows their true colors and out of nowhere goes on a verbal tirade that leaves you feeling dazed and confused. Like any sane person would who was in a relationship like this, I decided to leave them for good. Yes, I hope they do well and I wish them the best, but I am fine never speaking to them again.

You don't have to be a BYU fan for life to know what I am talking about. It happens almost every year. Early success causes your hopes to rise higher than Sears Tower, then there is a game that will dash those hopes to oblivion. Reality sets in, and it hurts so bad that you are left in the corner of the room in the fetal position, hoping the pain isn't real. For example, when BYU beat Oklahoma in Dallas, we were bound for a BCS bowl. How could we not? It was Oklahoma! But what did we get? A whooping of drastic proportions at home against the thugsters of Florida State the very next game (I left at half time). A few years ago in basketball we were playing in the MWC tournament and if we won, we would get a really good seed into the national tournament. It was supposed to be our year to actually get past the first two rounds. In the final game we were up 20 in the first half against Las Vegas. Victory was sweet. Dreams were being formed of watch parties and cheering far into the tournament. Life was great. Yet, we fell apart in the second half and ended up losing. It was like being kicked in the gut. Except the pain took a few days to go away. To make matters worse we got the 9th seed and lost, badly, in the first round. These are just a couple of the many examples, but I won't go on as painful memories are meant to be hidden deep within the mind.

And of course this year the expectations are rising again. Jimmer is on fire. We are ranked in the top 10. We could get a 2 or 3 seed into the tournament. We could go far, farther than we ever have before. Of course I was guarded (deep down I can't stop caring). I kept my emotions in check. After last night, I think I am wrong. I do think we will live up to our expectations. Honestly, I thought we'd lose last night. We always lose big games. It's just as much in BYU's DNA as growing thick facial hair is in mine. Instead, Jimmer scored at will and we won by double digits. This alone gives me the confidence that Jimmer will get us far. Instead of folding under the national spotlight he shone brighter than me in my bathing suit, and trust me, with my white skin that is pretty bright. So BYU fans let those hopes rise, because for once, I don't think they will dash to pieces in heart ache.

PS: to celebrate Jimmer's performance, and after the great suggestion from a friend, I decided to play basketball tonight. It was great. It has been WAY too long. So thank you Jimmer, but more importantly thank you friend. I needed to revisit my old love.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cat's Out of The Bag...

So earlier this week I received the suggestion that I should change my profile picture for facebook. I wanted to heed this suggestion, as sometimes it is good to keep things fresh and new. In fact, it had been so long since I had put a new picture as my profile pic that I forgot how much thought and work actually goes into such a small task. What we don't realize is that all of our friends, which in my case is 559, may look at this picture every day! Sometimes multiple times a day! What if I look like a total goof? Then every time they go on facebook, see my sporadic wall posts, or just glance at any of my numerous comments, they will look at my picture and think, "Wow, what a total goof." It would be terrible for my self esteem. Now I know you're thinking, "Darin, how could having people say this about your picture hurt your self esteem when you don't even know that these people are thinking 'Wow, Darin looks like a total goof' when they look at your photo? You're not Professor X from X-men: you can't read minds." Valid point, but you're wrong. Just trust me on this; I know what I'm talking about.

So after much thought, meditation, and self counsel I decided to choose the picture that is now currently my facebook profile picture. After receiving many facebook comments on how handsome I looked in the photo, which in all seriousness (and I really do mean this) made me feel very flattered and loved. It really made my day. I even got a GQ/J Crew reference from my brother Devin. In essence I have not regretted my decision to choose the below photo. But I have a confession to make. This picture really isn't mine. Well, I mean, it is mine, technically speaking, but this is not how I actually look in real life. With the pressure mounting to have a great picture (for previous stated reasons) I decided no picture I currently had of me would do. I decided to alter myself just a wee bit... Needless to say, I got a little carried away.

The Picture that is Currently on Facebook

I altered my picture quite a bit. I have to say photoshop is amazing. I altered shadows on my face to make it look like I have a full beard of scruff. I also made my hair look darker so I would come across as more manly and wiser. My skin complexion was made lighter as well so I would come across as someone who sits indoors all day studying. I thought this would help my academic credentials and street cred as a chiropractic student. Also note the hair on the back of my hands. Is this fake? Yes. In real life that area of my hands are as bald as a newborn rat. I'm quite self conscious of it actually. Even if this wasn't the case, it's amazing how that little extra fine detail totally made the picture. In fact I think subconsciously it's this added stroke of photoshop genius that made Devin think the picture had a GQ element. Without it, it would have probably fallen under Old Navy. This is fine as Old Navy is a great store, but I like the GQ look better. It definitely fits with what I was going for in my editing process.

I know you're wondering why I went through all of this trouble, even if a facebook profile picture is quite a bid deal. Is it really that important? Well, after I show you what I really look like, I think that you will agree with me and say YES. My real picture is below:

All you have to do is look at this photo for half a second to know some major editing needed to be done. I could go on and on about why this picture of me is so bad, but I'll save you some time and just point out the basics. First the lack of facial hair. Yes, I have some, but it's all splotchy and not even full. I shave to hide my apparent lack of testosterone (which I apparently forgot to do in this photo). Also note my hair color. I know the sandy blond hair is so not in right now. It makes me look too plain. No movie star would be caught dead with hair like mine. And lastly my skin tone. With my current super tan skin no one will take me seriously as a chiropractic student. My secret of laying out in the sunny and beautiful January Iowa sun instead of staying indoors and studying is fully revealed for all to see.

Regardless, I couldn't live this lie any longer. I just had to write down and expose my cheating ways. I haven't seen a lot of you since I have been in Iowa. I knew I could get away with some "minor" tweaking. And I was right. But know I'll never break your trust again. Instead I will gain the physical features I manipulated in my photo. So say hello to fuller facial hair through testosterone injections. Wave goodbye to sandy blond hair and welcome brown hair dye. And Embrace my new white skin as being tan just won't cut it anymore.

I think I'll be happy and content with the way I'm going to look.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One With the Bears

Chiropractic school has been very enlightening. Sometimes I walk away from class with a new diagnosis as to what is wrong with mine or someone else's body (a more in depth post will be coming later that explains why my left arm is as big as a 6 year olds). Well, today was no different.

This morning in my Central Nervous System class we talked about seasonal depression. The cold air and lack of sun light can cause 1 out of every 20 people to develop the blues. I don't think I suffer from seasonal depression, but after today, I have to wonder if I suffer from seasonal laziness.

The day started by me getting up at 7:00 am. Now, in absolute terms this is early and one would think that this is an amazing feat. Unfortunately we are talking in relative terms here. I have class at 7:30 and I need to leave by 7:15. Did I sleep in because I was really tired? Nope. I slept in for the simple fact that I just loved being in my comfy warm bed. I mean really, do we always need a complicated reason for just wanting to stay in bed? All we have to do is listen to the song "Banana Pancakes" by Jack Johnson to know I have a legitimate case.

Once I survived getting through my school day, I arrived home. Did I come home, crack open my books, and study my brains out like I should have done? No... I immediately plopped on my couch and curled up in a blanket. I felt so warm and cozy. It was if heaven had descended upon my little apartment. I lied there for not 1, or even 2, but almost 3 hours while I alternated between reading a book and watching old sitcoms on TV. When 6:00 came around, I figured it was about time to get up and make some dinner.

Since I strongly believe in consistency, I wanted to continue with my theme of the day. I opened up my fridge, and to my dismay I found that everything in there would cause me to actually work. This just wouldn't do. So instead I went to my cupboard, found some canned baked beans, fired up my electric stove, whipped out a can opener (the fact I had to actually twist a lever more than three times was a little too much for my liking but I figured it was a worthy cause to break the set pattern of the day), and plopped those delicious little BBQ soaked goodies in a pot. Since I'm a little health conscious I added chocolate soy milk to this fine meal. After dinner I became a little more productive and studied my school work, but the blanket and couch still very dominantly factored into the equation.

Do I feel bad about all of this? Nope, and here's why. What do bears do in the winter? They hibernate. They literally sleep all day and do absolutely nothing. Nothing! The most activity they do is roll over from their stomach onto their backside. Now, in the physical build department I am as close to a bear as a chipmunk is, but when it comes to hair I have on many occasions been told that my leg hair fits the bill. So, maybe, just maybe, I subconsciously embraced this notion so much that I decided to actually further act like my distant mammalian cousin. Lets just hope it stops there. I don't really like raw fish...

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Friday I got a surprise package in the mail. It was from my sister-in-law Laura. During the Christmas break she took a picture of me and a not-so-smiley Macy and put it in a beautiful picture frame. I love it! It proudly rests on my lamp stand next to my couch. So thank you Laura. It was definitely very thoughtful and kind of you!


Probably one of the most famous scriptures in the Book of Mormon is found in 1 Nephi 2:15 which reads, "And my father dwelt in a tent." Why is it famous? Because it is so unbelievably short. Yet, there is another scripture that has the exact amount of words and also, like the one mentioned before, occupies just one line. Unfortunately this scripture is often times overlooked, but actually has spiritual significance that we all can apply instead of historical significance that mostly only F.A.R.M.S members are concerned with. It is found in Jacob 6:12. It reads, "O be wise; what can I say more?" Ponder that phrase for a few minutes. You'll be glad you did. I know I was.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Wheel of Time, Stop Taking My Time!

A few weeks ago I was finally able to put my movies off of the book shelf and into my media center. This was great as I could now put my old school books on my bookshelf for easy reference instead of their original place being packed in my closet. The problem was, there wasn't enough room. This posed a very unfortunate scenario. The possibility of getting rid of any of my beloved books sounded horrible! Somberly analyzing my bookshelf, I realized I have 13 books that almost took up a whole row for themselves. These books are part of a series called The Wheel of Time. They are so amazing and great that they are often times called the new Lord of The Rings.

I have been reading these books for 12 years. I loved them in jr. high and high school. I loved them so much I even bought a hardcover guide to all of the countries, history, and characters of the series with colored maps and pictures. The first six novels were action packed, suspenseful, and really just amazing reads. Really, it was a literary experience up there with the likes of Harry Potter. The next 5? Truly awful. So awful in fact that if I ever was tortured for information all they would have to do is make me read these books from beginning to end. Knowing what I know now, I'd just go in the fetal position and give in before I even crack open the cover. To make it worse, the series will eventually end after a totla 15 books. 15!!!

This would have been fine if every book was 300 pages and full of interesting characters and stories. Side Note: To be fair the the prequel was 300 pages, thank goodness, as it too was an eye gauging experience to read. Instead each book is 800-1000 pages and has now turned from an interesting and exciting read in the first 6 books to a bunch of long winded novels that are full of girls talking about how stupid men are while the men talk about how confusing the girls are, with some truly lame action sequences and boring political maneuvering thrown here and there. To make it worse there so many characters now that the author just takes a name he already has and changes a letter in it to make up a new character. I can't even keep anyone straight anymore! It's an excruciating read! In fact the last book I read, book 11, has taken me two years to get through 500 pages out of a 800 page book.

And why did I keep reading these books? Because I have put so much time into them (we are talking about over a decade here people!) that I felt obligated to finish the series. Even though I could care less about ANY of the characters or how the series ended, I felt like I just had to keep pressing forward. Maybe, just maybe, it would get better. It never did. Actually it got worse, and worse, and worse...

So, staring at these books, I couldn't help but realize that here, in front of my eyes, is the perfect chance to get rid of my literary curse and walk away forever. There are so many other books I want to read for myself that I can't afford to waste my time with The Wheel of Time. I also need bookshelf space as I want to continue to add to my collection so I have interesting books for my future children to read (like Sherlock Holmes and the Ender's Game series). Why clog my space on my bookshelf with books I have grown to view with very strong disdain? All because of the time I spent with them? That makes no sense! I even determined a few years ago to discourage letting my kids read these books so they don't waste their time like I did! So the solution to my problem became obvious: get rid of them, and get rid of them now. So I did. I gave them away to a friend who (for some odd reason) loves the books. I know he does because ironically the weekend before we had a very good discussion about them: me as to why I can't stand them and he stating how amazing they are.

I cannot enough describe how invigorating it was to finally let them go. There is hardly anything better than the feeling of walking away knowing I have put that book series to rest forever, no longer feeling like I have to dedicate my time to them. I know it is a small thing, and probably sounds silly, but for me, it was like saying goodbye to a friend who kept mooching like a leach off of me for years and years and years. Well, I finally squashed that leach, and it felt great. Now, on to more amazing reads.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Learning The Hard Way...

So, everything that comes up must come down, right? Right. Last week, by all accounts, was amazing. I had two really hard tests that I did extremely well on. Confidence was running high and I was feeling on top of the world. Of course, it's always great to have reality hit us like a pile of bricks. And I mean that, because after last week, I needed to come back to earth. Not that I was becoming cocky, because I wasn't, but we all need experiences to keep us grounded so we still work hard for our accomplishments and don't take things for granted.

This week I had three tests, one of which is notorious for being the hardest test of the first trimester at college. And of course that test was the last one of the week. And this test, my friends, would be CNS. We had to know the pons, midbrain, medulla oblongata, cerebellum, and the descending and ascending tracts of the brain and spinal cord. It was A LOT of info.

To prepare for this week I had been studying for the past couple weeks, and really dug in deep last weekend. Monday wasn't a day off; it was just a school day that I spent at home. I studied more last weekend then I have any weekend in my entire life. And unfortunately, it showed.

By the time Tuesday afternoon came my brain was gone. I took a test that morning and did okay. I immediately had to start studying again for a gross anatomy exam that was going to be on Wednesday morning. All Tuesday afternoon and evening I studied, and the whole time my brain couldn't soak anything in. By test time Wednesday I was in a daze and it showed on my test. I don't remember the last time I made so many mistakes. I still passed, but I definitely could have done better if I was in a different state of mind.

After that experience I realized I needed to give my brain a break. So Wednesday night I relaxed, read some books, and lightly studied for my big CNS test on Friday. This was okay as I said previously I had been studying for a couple weeks for this test. And this strategy worked wonders. Yesterday I was focused, driven, and disciplined with my studying. I even went to bed early and got up early to just go over a few things. Feeling good about the monumental task that was waiting for me this morning, I got into my car ready to face the challenge. Unfortunately, my car wasn't up to the task. My car was frozen in park.

Last night it was -27 degrees. Me, never experiencing this kind of frigid cold before ever in my life, I was a little naive. I knew my car would take a while to start and warm up, but I never knew my car would actually freeze in position!! For ten minutes I frantically tried, pulled, yanked, and strained my gear shift to go into reverse to no avail. I felt so helpless! Long story short, I missed my test and now have to take a make up test next week. So, another three test week awaits me!

Why did this week happen after such a fantastic experience last week? I don't know, but I am grateful that it did. Honestly, there is nothing I can do about it so I'll just look at it as a time to further study for my CNS test. The test will be harder as the make up test is all short answer, but that's okay.

I learned a lot of lessons this week. I was humbled as I now know that despite my earlier accomplishments, I still need to work hard for them to continue. I need to still tweak my study habits so I can do well but not burn myself out. And I am learning that sometimes, things are just out of our control, and it's okay. Would it have been nice to learn these lessons the easy way instead of the hard way? No, because it's learning things the hard way that makes the lesson sticks.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Some Guidance for All You P90Xers Out There

This is a post mostly aimed at my family since a lot of us are trying to get back into shape by starting P90X again. Some of you have asked me about some tips and preferences, especially concerning after work out drinks and shakes. We know we need protein as it is very beneficial for helping our muscles heal after a hard workout. So the question often is, what is the best source of protein? The answer is chocolate milk.

I know this probably sounds to good to be true as 1) chocolate milk tastes so dang good and 2) it is cheeper than those $5 a day protein shakes. Now, before I start I just want to say that the sources I am getting this from is from Dr. Allsen (my Problems With Exercise Prescription professor at BYU) and Dr. Nightingale (my biochem professor at Palmer College of Chiropractic).

A lot of times protein supplements are pushed as a great after workout drink because it has so much protein that our body "needs" after we workout. The problem is, our body only needs .8 grams of protein per kg of body weight a day for a normal person. If we are working out that number raises to 1.2-1.6 g/kg a day. Anything more than this our body will either get rid of or it turns to glycogen for sugar storage or fat for fat storage; neither of which we really want. So these shakes that contain mega amounts of protein are actually not beneficial.
Side Note: multiply your body weight by .454 to see how much you weigh in kg.

Now, lets address the protein supplements that have the right amount of protein and why chocolate milk is still more preferable. Protein comes in two molecular forms. One is a L protein while the other is a D protein. What makes it L or D is the position of the amino group (NH3) and the carboxyl group (COO) around the Carbon that they share. Our body prefers L proteins. In our natural protein sources, such as milk and meat, protein is made up of 99% of the L type, where supplements are around 50% L and 50% D proteins. So yes, the supplements may have a good, healthy amount of protein, but it is the wrong type of protein. It's like putting 89 grade gas in our Audi; it works but, not really well. Also supplements are not always regulated by the FDA, so even though they may say they have certain healthy ingredients, we really don't know for sure. Supplements are not regulated.

Chocolate milk is a natural source of protein so we know we are getting L proteins (the type of protein our body uses). It also has sugar in it. Now, you may be thinking this is a bad thing. It is not. Our muscles store their own glycogen, which is sugar, for their own energy use. Once their glycogen stores run out, they tell the liver to break down other stores of glycogen in the body and send it to them asap. This is why drinks like Gatorade can be so important for long work out periods because it has sugar that our body can use for energy. So, with chocolate milk, we are getting a replenishment of sugar and protein to help our body recover from the workout.

If you are drinking Gatorade you may not need the extra sugar from the chocolate milk. In this case just drink the milk by itself. Make sure it is skim milk as it has fewer calories and fat content. Also, I like to use Ovaltine as it is a healthier solution than Hersheys or Nesquik.

So, you now know a healthier, cheaper, and more effective way of helping your body recover from a great workout. Enjoy!!

Sunday Dinner

I made this tonight. Just looking at the picture I realized it looks kind of gross... It was great I promise! It is sweet and sour pork with upton noodles, pineapple, and red and green peppers. The reason why I am so proud of this is because I have always had trouble making asian dishes. Finally, after months of random experimenting I was finally able to do it. I also had hymns played on an accoustic guitar in the background while I was cooking which may have made me focus and relaxed (which was key to the success). It was really relaxing but also made me feel like I was on a cooking show for PBS.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Last Time, I Promise...

This will be the last time I post about this topic, but I am just so happy right now with how school went this week. Today I took an anatomy practical exam. This is the type of exam where you have bones and cadavers in front of you, they poke at it, and you have to say what it is and sometimes where it originates, inserts to, what action the muscle does, and what nerve innervates it. It is A LOT of info. I have been studying for the last couple of weeks and even studied for MANY hours yesterday for this test. I felt really confident going into the exam, but you never know what will happen once you look at what is in front of you. During the exam I felt really confident and at ease. I even felt great walking out of it. Just like after my BioChem test I didn't want to let my emotions run away from me and get my hopes up only to find that I didn't do that well.

Well, when I saw my score, I had every reason to be happy. I earned a 38 out of 40 on my exam!! This is a huge accomplishment for me. I can't even express how happy I am that I did well on two tests that are known for really being difficult. It really motivates me to continue the trend. I am sure that there will be tests where I feel great and then realized I did okay, but today was not that day.

Okay, now time for a random thought. We did palpation today (where we feel bones and muscles on the living human body). One of the features was the transverse process of the C1 vertebrae. Come to find out I have a REALLY big transverse process. I knew it was large, but after feeling other transverse processes, I now really know how big it is in compared to other peoples. Since the transverse process is what is adjusted with the NUCCA technique, does this mean that I was born to be a NUCCA doctor? Yes ;)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's Been A Great Day

So, this is mostly a random post that serves more like a journal than anything else, but what the heck. Today, I took my second Bio-Chem test. It was on proteins (a post about protein facts and myths is coming later) and it was a lot of memorization. There are twenty different Amino Acids that can make up a protein, all with different structures, purposes, and properties. I was a little worried. So after studying the last couple of weeks for this exam, then really focusing on my studies Monday and yesterday, today at 12:05 pm Central Time was the arrival of the big moment. I was pretty nervous as I didn't take organic or general chemistry in my undergrad or in high school and if I do poorly my guess is Palmer will make me take them. Yeah, I don't really want to do that. But wait, I must clarify. I took Introduction to Chemistry at BYU and read Chemistry and Organic Chemistry for Dummies. Anyway, that doesn't spark much confidence in my chemistry abilities.

As I received my test I took a breath, calmed myself down, said a prayer, and jumped right in. After I was finished I not only felt good about it, I felt confident that I earned an A. Of course, I didn't let my feel-good emotions run too long as I didn't want to have reality hit me hard on the face if I in fact earned a B or a C. Thank goodness my great feeling proved accurate, as I received a 90% on my exam!!! And since Palmer only has A, B, C, or Fail as a grade, it doesn't matter that it was a low A, because it is still an A! I really cannot express how relieved and happy I am. It gives me the confidence I need that despite my lack of chemistry experience, I can still do well in this class.

The second best thing is that as a celebration I finished my reading of "The Complete Sherlock Holmes: Volume I" tonight. It ended with "The Hound of the Baskervilles", which was a fantastic book. It has the same tone, wit, and suspense as the recent movie. I thought the previous Sherlock Holmes novels did, but not quite like "the Hound of the Baskervilles." By far it was the best Sherlock Holmes novel yet. What's even better is now I get to start on Volume II! In fact for celebration of this grand prize, I think I'll put the movie on right now and have it play in the background while I study. I know this sounds counterproductive, but if I have feint noise in the background I focus a lot better. Call me a product of the technology generation. And I really can't get enough of that movie...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Late At Night And Wide Awake...

It was a little after midnight on a very cold Monday morning and I was about as successful at falling asleep as a parent is trying to get their seven year old boy to take a bath. It was a struggle. Lying in bed as alert as ever, I started eyeing my room. I kept staring at my closet thinking, "Man, I really don't like how my dresser is blocking half of my closet. It feels like I'm an uncoordinated little kid again who can't get anything from the top kitchen shelfs. That's a feeling I can really do without." Of course, I have my dresser in this really terrible position as I want somewhere to put my piano. The piano wont fit in the front room so it must be in my bedroom. Yet I have actually never measured anything out. Since I had nothing to do and I wasn't go to go to sleep anytime soon, I decided to actually grab the keyboard and measure it out. I am so glad I did!

I realized that if I moved my media console towards my desk that the piano fits perfectly. So I moved it that night. It was a pain in the rear end and I think I strained some back muscles, but it was worth it! I love having the piano in the front room now as well because guests can play it and I know I will play it more often as well.

Here is the new way compared to the old way

I know that in the picture it may not look like it works, but trust me, it does. I have even had a few people tell me they like having the piano in the front room (both were guys, so it must be true since guys usually don't care about that stuff).

Since I now didn't I have to have the piano in my bedroom, and I was still very wide awake, I decided to empty out and move my dresser across the room as well. This was a little tougher, but around 12:45 A.M. the mission was accomplished. I can easily reach my closet, my dresser is out of the way, I can now play my piano, and I even have room in my bedroom for another bookshelf if I ever get to the point where I need one. It's funny that a few little tweaks can greatly affect things, but after that night I have to say that my apartment feels more like home. Did my back hurt afterwards? Yes, but it was worth it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Some Guidance for Wii Owners

Recently my brother-in-law Jeff received a great birthday present from his amazing and beautiful wife (my sister). It happened to be a new Wii. Now, making such a purchase caused them to feel a little like Donkey Kong here: lost and confused. This seems to be a common symptom when one first purchases a Wii. With so many great Wii games, how could it not? Well, at the request of Jeff, I am here to help. Now of course any of you (especially my family members since almost all of you own a Wii) can use this post as a guide as well.

First let me state why a Wii is so great. No other system can get my mom and dad, their kids, and their grandkids, to play with each other at the same exact time. Really, this is a family system. I know that usually the terms "video games" and "family" go along together as well as Glenn Beck and President Obama, but for the Wii this is not the case. It's a party system. Or in other words it's a board game for your TV. I will soon explain why. The second reason is that there are games for anyone of varying interest or skill levels to enjoy. Those things being said, let's get started.

When you first purchase a Wii I would recommend buying a controller as well. The Wii comes with one already but really, the Wii is not mean t o be played alone. Make sure it is a controller with a Wii Motion Plus as the game Wii Sports Resort (it comes with the Wii) only supports this type of controller. You don't have to, but I would highly recommend eventually having four controllers total as the more the merrier.

Now the issue of what game to buy can be really tricky as many people who don't play video games still buy a Wii. To make things easier, I will break this down into categories.

The first category is for those of you who never play video games, but bought the Wii because it just looked so cool! All you want to do is have something to play when you have a party at your house or want something fun to do as a family. Here is what I recommend:

Mii Party:
This is a great game for everyone. People who have never played a video game in their entire life can quickly pick up the controller and play along. I really mean that. My sister-in-laws mom played and won. It was also her first time playing. It's basically a virtual board game with tons of great mini-games that can bring kids, parents, and grandparents playing together at once. One last thing, there is a game called Mario Party 7 and Mario Party 8 that are a lot like Mii Party. Both these games received horrible reviews so DO NOT purchase them!

Just Dance:
Read my blog post from earlier this month. Amazing game that will get people laughing and will make sure everyone will have a great time. Older people and young kids might have a hard time playing it though.

Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort:
These fall under the category of Mii party where anyone of all ages can play and is a blast to have at a small get together. Lucky for you both are included in the Wii if you purchase it now. If you purchased a Wii a while ago and don't have Wii Sports Resort I wouldn't say it is a must buy. Some people really love it, others are very content with just having Wii Sports. I would recommend playing Wii Sports Resort first so you know if you really want to purchase it or not. Just know, if you do plan on buying Wii Sports Resport you HAVE to buy a Motion Plus for the Wii controller. The store clerk will tell you what that is.

Now, for people who are a little familiar with video games but are not serious about gaming. They just want something to play with their kids and/or spouses who play games.

Mario Kart Wii:
This game is amazing. For people who like to accomplish things with their games, there are plenty of races and time tracks to beat to get more race tracks, drivers, and cars. For those who just want a good time, nothing beats having a good ole race with some friends and family. You can get with a friend and race people online. I would also recommend buying a steering wheel. It's not necessary, but it sure makes it more fun as it feels like you are in the arcade. I have found that people who aren't into video games really struggle with having a fun timing playing this game as they get frustrated with losing all the time and running into walls. Little kids don't really care but just have a blast driving a steering wheel and being their favorite Nintendo character. It just depends.

Super Mario Brothers WII:
This game is great as experienced players can have a blast beating evil Bowser, collecting 3 big golden metals on each level, and gathering different power up items while inexperienced gamers can have fun just playing along. The beauty is if you die you can keep playing until you run out of lives. When this happens you can start right again with hardly any wait time. If your friend, child, or spouse isn't very experienced it's okay; you both can have fun. You are only held back by the most experienced gamer. It is very player friendly. The controls are very simple as it is just two buttons and periodically shaking your remote. Yet the best thing of all? You can play with four people at the same time. I HIGHLY recommend this game.

Kirby's Epic Yarn:
This is a game that can be played with two people who have hardly any experience. It is easy, fun, and I must add really cute. I say that because the whole game takes place in a world of yarn. It is very aesthetically appealing. All you scrapbook people out there, this game is for you. Two people an play this game at the same time and you cannot die. It's impossible. So if you are looking for a game to play with your young child or spouse, this is the game. Another great thing is throughout the game you turn into many different vehicles, such as a race car, space ship, under sea boat, and snowboarder. For the experienced gamer there are items to collect and medals to gain by collecting jewels (you lose the jewels when you die). Once again, I highly recommend this game.

All I can say is if you liked the classic in the 90's, you'll like this. You can use the Wii motion controls and actually shoot, rebound, dunk, etc but for some it might get annoying. For those people you need to buy the Wii Classic Controller Pro, which is a down side. Four people can play at a time.

Now for the experienced gamers.

Donkey Kong Country Returns:
This is tough, but a real blast. It has up to two players, but unlike Mario if someone dies they are out until the board is beaten or the other person dies. Inexperienced gamers might not like how challenging it is. But for experienced gamers, I highly recommend this game. If you liked the classic Donkey Kong Country you'll like this.

Super Smash Brothers Wii:
This game is a four player all out brawl of your favorite Nintendo characters. For experienced gamers, it is a real great time. For inexperienced players, it is a nightmare. Their frustration level will quickly rise as it is kind of complicating with the controls and losing your character on screen. It is mostly a multiplayer game but it has a great single player story mode as well as different accomplishments to complete. It uses the Wii motion controls but I would recommend buying a Wii Classic Controller Pro as it is a lot easier to play.

Wii Punch Out:
If you loved the classic Punch Out you will love this. It has easy two-button controls with great characters (half of which are from the original Nintendo version). Their sayings and cutscenes will make you laugh out loud. The single player mode is fun and challenging. If you have a balance board you can use the Wii motion controllers to dodge, duck, and punch your opponent. If you don't have the balance board, I'm not sure how it works. It also has a two player mode but I heard it is not that amazing.

Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2:
These games are the crowning jewels of the Wii. They are Mario 64 on steroids. They have amazing graphics, amazing puzzles, and you will definitely have used up your money when you complete these game as there are 120 stars to find each. Mario Galaxy 2 is better than 1 as the controls, graphics, and levels are better, but not by much. If you only get one, get Mario Galaxy 2. If you are an experienced gamer and bought the Wii to play video games along as have it as a party system then plan on getting both. They will be well worth your money.

Metroid Prime Trilogy:
I haven't played all of them myself but they received great reviews. I played the first one a long time ago so I don't remember much. They are first person shooters that use the Wii motion controls. The first two games are from the Gamecube while the third one was made for the Wii. They have all been adapted for the Wii and I believe that they are on one disc. I will warn you, they will take a long time to beat. I would recommend this only for the real gamer.

That is all. I hope this was helpful. I just want to add a few last remarks. All of these games are clean, nonviolent games. I believe Metroid has alien blood, but I really don't know. It may have none at all. If it does it is in small amounts. There is no swearing or anything that is on the screen that would cause you to feel uncomfortable. Also, sometimes when we play we worry about losing or dying. Don't. The Wii was made for the average consumer who doesn't play video games. All of the games in the first two categories were made with non-gamers in mind. So just relax, have fun, and don't worry about the outcome. Just enjoy the ride, or dance, or whatever it is you may be doing.

Why Nephi Included Isaiah

Each new year most members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make the resolution to once again read, study, and finish (finish being the key word) the Book of Mormon. In the beginning we do pretty well. Rereading 1 Nephi brings us great insights, many stories of miracles, and true examples of real obedience to the Lord and keeping his commandments. We feel really good about ourselves and really believe that this is a new year resolution that may actually be accomplished (unlike the resolution to eat right and exercise).
Then the inevitable happens: we reach 2 Nephi. There's a familiar scene of reading about Assyria and all those other funny sounding ancient middle eastern countries while trying to trudge through Isaiah's rainforest dense metaphors that cause us to think, chapter after chapter, "Nephi, I don't get! Why is this here?!" Eventually the words become a blur. By the end we feel like we have been reading a book in German; we recognize that there are familiar letters and symbols, but we didn't understand a lick of what they meant. The scripture in 2 Nephi 25:4 where Nephi states that Isaiah will be understood by those filled with the spirit of prophecy doesn't make us feel better about ourselves either.

Now, I am not saying I am filled with prophecy, nor that what I am about to write is doctrine. Notice that the intent of this post is to state, according to what I have come to understand, as to why Nephi included Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, no what Isaiah means. I have been told that in order to really understand something we need to understand it's context and it's purpose. I believe this principle to be correct.

A few night's ago I was reading in 2 Nephi chapter 25. Nephi had finished his inclusions of the writing of Isaiah in his personal record. I was wondering to myself why he had included Isaiah. What was Nephi's purpose? Some scriptures in chapter 25 helped me understand. In verse 5 Nephi states, "My soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah, for I came out from Jerusalem." This makes perfect sense. Isaiah, along with his many metaphors about Christ, also brings us a political commentary about Judah and the countries that surround it (Assyria, Babylon, Syria, Israel, etc.). The main theme of Isaiah is how the Jews, who inhabited Judah, should trust in God despite the threatenings of its surrounding neighbors. There are also many promises that if the people were righteous, they would be saved; if they were wicked, they would be destroyed. Nephi had lived in Jerusalem around the time that the warnings and prophecies of Isaiah were coming to fruition. Nephi and his family left Jerusalem to avoid the prophecy of Isaiah coming to pass about Jerusalem being overrun.
For Nephi, the prophecies of Isaiah are just like the prophecies of the Prophet Joseph Smith for us. Why do we constantly quote the Prophet Joseph Smith? Because he was very recent. We still rely on his teachings as they are for our time. For Nephi, Isaiah's prophecies were for his time. He understood what was being described politically by Isaiah because he lived it. He saw what Isaiah was describing either first hand or knew it from very recent historical accounts.
Yet his children were no longer in Jerusalem. By the time Nephi wrote 2 Nephi he and his family were very well established in the Americas. So why teach his children (and us) about his old home where the people were wicked and, as he found out through revelation, destroyed and overtaken? Because the main theme of Isaiah is the redemption of the tribes of Israel through Jesus Christ. Despite Israel's wickedness the Lord will still redeem his people; and he did through his atonement. In fact the Lord is still redeeming them by the restoration of his church through the Prophet Joseph Smith and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Nephi wanted his children to know that if they sin, the Lord will still redeem them and love them. That he will still stretch out his hands towards them. In fact the Lord guiding them out of Jerusalem to the Americas was an example of the Lord proving this.
So what can we take from Isaiah? Exactly what Nephi and his family did. We, just like Nephi, are waiting for the coming of Christ. We, just like Nephi, need to know that despite our sins the Lord loves us and his followers. That if we follow him, he will protect us. Though we are living in different times, the principles are the same.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why The Ocean Freaks Me Out

It's words of the reporter at the end of this video that really freaks me out.

Just Dance!!

Okay, so those of you who know me know I can't dance. In fact, in almost every dance situation I choose not to dance. Is it because of lame reasons like I'm self conscious and worried what I look like? Yup! In fact, since October 2005, there has only been one person who has made me feel comfortable enough to actually let myself go on the dance floor. Did I feel silly? Yeah, but only for the first five minutes. Once I realized she didn't care (in a good way) how I danced then I totally let myself go (and admit had a great time doing it). But that's it! Until I experienced "Just Dance" for the Wii.

I had heard rave reviews about this game from my family, and decided that I wanted to try it out. I figured it would be pretty simple stuff. Oh how wrong I was. Beyonce totally kicked my butt. And I don't know how MC Hammer got his name, but my guess is because his dance moves "hammered" his opponents to the ground. MC Hammer, you're right, I can't touch this.

Surprisingly, I didn't mind totally looking like a fool. In fact, I had a blast doing it! Being in the confines and social security of my own home knowing that the only person in the room was so focused on dancing themselves that there was no way on earth they could possibly see what I was doing made me feel relaxed and at ease. I soon found myself actually attempting all of the dance moves. From doing 70's disco with my arms and hips, attempting Beyonce's sexy dance moves (I attempting one in the photo above), and even shimmying to some 80's classic made me feel a little more cultured and in tune with my fellow dance-loving generation. When all was said and done, I had an amazing time looking like a fool. In fact, I feel a lot better when the next dance opportunity comes along. Will I automatically walk onto the dance floor? Who knows, but if I do, at least I have some new moves I can bust out. So thank you "Just Dance": you've given this white boy hope.

If you own a Wii, get this game. If you don't own a Wii, buy one, then get this game...then also get Super Mario Brothers just for kicks.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In The Blink of an Eye

A couple weeks ago I finished the book "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell. It was a great book that provided many insights into what I believe will really help me in my future as a NUCCA doctor.
The main premise (or at least what I came to understand) is that we have an unconscious part of our brain that can assess and analyze situations in the blink of an eye. Mostly, I like to think of it as our "gut" feeling. For instance, the Getty museum bought a statue that was very old but in great condition; rare for it's kind. Many tests were done that proved it was not a replica nor a fake. Yet every expert in the style of the statue looked at it and immediately knew it was a fake. They couldn't describe why. It just felt wrong. The Getty decided to go with the facts and not the gut feeling of the experts. Conclusion? The statue was a fake. Too bad the Getty already purchased the statue for millions of dollars.

It would be easy to conclude that our "gut" feeling (better word is quick intuition) is always right. That is actually wrong. If we are inexperienced, our intuition can lead us astray. It is only after much experience and study in the field that our intuition can help us.

So what does this mean for me in my future as a NUCCA doctor? First off, I need to study and know the technique, the anatomy, and physiology of the the body. I also need to be an expert with the assessment portion of NUCCA (taking and the analyzation of x-rays). Of course, this will take time and will not happen over night. Yet, it provides a great goal to reach. To be an expert so when I see something with a patient and my gut is telling me to do something that goes against the facts that I can be confident with my intuition.

Now, how to know when I have reached the level that I can confidently listen to my intuition without hurting my patients...

(Side note: I also read "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. It was an interesting book but I found "Blink" to be more interesting and more applicable. Also, I read "Blink" in its digital format on my iPhone. I now know nothing beats the real feel of a book. I hope books in their original paper format never become obsolete in the digital age.)