Saturday, April 28, 2007

and I quote ....

"On the issue of climate change, we ought to cap carbon emissions in the United States. We ought to invest in clean alternative sources of energy. We ought to invest in carbon sequestration technology, in coal technology. A billion dollars, at least, into making sure we build the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the planet. We ought to ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war. To be willing to conserve."
- John Edwards at the First Democratic Debate in Orangeburg, SC April 26, 2007
Read some quotes from the other candidates here.

The way I see it, even if by some far stretch of the imagination climate change is not being sped up by human beings, isn't it always a good idea to use less and conserve? What's the harm in being as energy efficient as possible? Mostly these are just my thoughts to myself. I have leaps and bounds to go when it comes to conserving and being more energy efficient. But knowing is the first step to change, right?! I hope so. This idea of conservation and sacrifice seems to fit seamlessly with the gospel as well. It all goes back to the whole, being good stewards thing. Do what you will with the opinion of John Edwards. I just thought it was interesting and happens to be something that I have been thinking of for quite some time.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

editorial note

I realized the other day that most of the pictures that I post are of places and buildings that I think are pretty. I don't really have that many pictures of me on here. At first this was a "be web smart" thing. But then it became a self-conscious thing ... lets face it - I take a lot of bad pictures. Then I thought to myself that there must be a few ok ones. And I searched. And searched. And searched. And then I went to a wedding in Boston and people took some pictures of me. Some terrible pictures ... but some ok ones too.

This is my explanation for the new photo additions to the right side of the blog. Keep in mind that I don't have any cute children or animals or anything like that to post photos of, so most are of me. But wait - I do have cute friends, so they are posted here too!

today is That day

I just realized that today is the day that Vice President Cheney speaks at BYU's commencement. Here is the outline for events surrounding commencement. I don't know what to think about the last listing - the alternative commencement ... but its pretty awesome that Ralph Nadar came to Orem/Provo. Rockin. I love that the BYU Dems are by the "Enter to Learn - Go Forth to Serve" sign. That is definitely what BYU is all about. I am glad to see some Cougs stepping up and I am interested to hear what Cheney says at commencement.

Commencement Happenings

Noon to 2 p.m. BYU College Democrats demonstrate at 1230 North and 150 East around the "Enter to Learn - Go Forth to Serve" sign on campus.

Noon to 2:30 p.m. Pro-Cheney ralliers demonstrate on the lawn of the Provo City Library, at 500 N. University Ave.

Noon to 6 p.m. Veterans for Peace will hold a vigil protesting the war on the southwest corner of 1230 North and Canyon Road.

7 p.m. Alternative Commencement featuring former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, former Amnesty International director Jack Healy, and former U.S. Senate candidate Pete Ashdown at the McKay Events Center on the campus of Utah Valley State College in Orem.

This list came from this article in the Salt Lake Tribune. More to come.

Monday, April 23, 2007

flower boxes and copper bay windows

I spent a long weekend in New England - Boston and Cambridge to be more specific. It was beautiful. Amazing weather, beautiful buildings, cheerful flower boxes, and crumbling tombstones. I really really like Boston. So much so that I had a small twang of fear that perhaps having not considered BU was a mistake. I had to console myself with the constant reminder that the winter is long and cold ... longer and colder there than it is in DC.

Random Thoughts and Stories About Boston:

I have never seen so many flower boxes as I did on Beacon Hill. It seemed that many of the houses where these window boxes were found had the same designer, which comes as no surprise since it is the upscale neighborhood of Boston.

While stopping in at one of Boston's fine Dunkin Donut establishments on our way to Harvard Square a nice middle-aged gentleman caught a glimpse of my California drivers license and said, "California, huh?! Harvard or MIT?" I paused and then realized what he meant. I believe I fumbled through my response of "oh, no I am just in town for the day". I was flattered and felt really smart for a moment.

We stayed at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel for a few nights before the wedding, which is located very close to the Boston Public Garden and the Boston Commons. The Public Garden has wonderful weeping willows - I love weeping willows ... they tend to be very big, old, billowy, and grow on the banks of ponds or rivers with their weepy branches lightly kissing the water.

The architecture of Boston was great! The copper bay windows throughout the city are so dramatic. The patina of age against the brick buildings - that's my favorite.

The shot above I just thought was cool. It was taken on Beacon Hill I think.

There are several very very old cemeteries in the middle of Boston. Most date back to the 1600's and thus the headstones are not very ornate (I like all the crazy details) but were still beautiful. Common themes include an angel's head with wings, a skull with wings, devils and angels dancing and skulls and cross-bones. The picture below is documentation that those early Bostonians are trend setters ... skull and cross-bones are sooo in right now and apparently they were also hot in Boston circa 1660.

And I can't talk about Boston with out mentioning the accent. Here is a list of my favorite words (as well as the fact that the bride's accent came out toward the end of her saying her vows ... I loved it):

wicked hahd cohr (wicked hard core)
pahk (park)
Hahvahd (Harvard)
Mahky Mahk (Marky Mark - you know ... and the funky bunch! Totally from Boston)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Note on Stewardship

I am now reading about China, its current environmental state, its efforts to expand its economy, its attempts at acquiring 1st world status, and what that means to it's global environmental impact. FASCINATING really.

Many people are familiar with the governmentally instituted and enforced "mandatory fertility control" in China, but did you know that it "dramatically decreased the population rate to 1.3% per year by the year 2001". I am so amazed because statistics are usually never reached in my life time - they usually spout out years like ... in 2065 ... but I guess twenty or thrity years ago 2001 was a far off. The year twenty-oh-one. Yeah. That was the year I graduated from High School.

Anyway, the reason I brought this up was because he goes on to point out a lesser known fact regarding the Chinese population.

"... the number of China's households [did you catch that, households - it took me a few minutes to get what was being said here] has nevertheless been growing at 3.5% per year over the last 15 years, more than double the growth rate of its population during the same period. That's because household size decreased from 4.5 people per house in 1985 to 3.5 in 2000 and is projected to decrease further to 2.7 by the year 2015. That deceased household size causes China today to have 80 million more households than it would otherwise have had, an increase exceeding the total number of households in Russia" (page 360).

Now you may be wondering - how is this so? I was. And I was also thinking - so the 1 billion 300 million people in China shouldn't be allowed to have a better quality of life, have a "first world" life??? Is that what Diamond is saying - cuz that ain't right. He goes on to say:

"The household size decrease results form social changes: especially, population aging, fewer children per couple, an increase in previously nearly non-existent divorce, and a decline in the former custom of multi-generation households with grandparents, parents, and children living under on roof. At the same time, per-capita floor area per house increased by nearly three-fold [translation - fewer people live together but have a house three times bigger than they previously would have ... kind of sounds like the good old U.S. of A]. The net result of those increases in the number and floor area of households is that China's human impact is increasing despite its low population growth rate" (page 360).

He continues to point out that the problem lies in the fact that while these social customs are changing the way the environment is used, the production practices and manufacturing mechanisms remain in third world fashion - using more resources with less efficiency. Change is ok, but you have to be careful how it will effect your surroundings and adjust accordingly.

While I still have 150 pages or so to go in the book, I have developed my own theories ... mainly that this earth has sooo many resources and soo many things to offer. BUT we must manage the earth and its resources responsibly and with the aim of using as little as possible at a time, not whatever we want whenever we want. We need to be environmentally frugal or it might not be there the next time we want it. With the rising of the "global economy" we also must be responsibly for our local actions and their global impacts. [Can't you just see that bumper sticker on the back of a hybrid - "Think Globally, Act Locally"]. We can do so much! We have amazing technologies these days and its only expanding. But our resources are not unlimited ... we gotta take care of this little earth and be good stewards over what God has created for us.

And now I will step down off my soap box and start to recycle on a more regular basis.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Replacing Lena the Leopard (and the DC metro)

With my up coming move I am going to have to make a purchase. A big purchase. The biggest purchase I have ever made ... a brand new car. I have owned a car before but not a new car (growing up I had my good old black/gold Saturn SC1 Coupe I called Lena the Leopard because I had leopard print seat covers in it ... look I was a sophomore in high school, ok). I won't be making the purchase until this summer, but I am looking around and checking out the options.

Here are my wishes/requirements/hopes/dreams in a new car:

- smallness: I want it to be a small car, but it must be a four door.
- affordablity: It must not cost me too much - I am going to be a graduate student with loans already, I don't need a crazy car payment as well but I am getting a new car because I will have it for awhile. And I will be far away from my dad who won't be able to pick me up on the side of the road if I break down.
- fuel efficiency: I would like it to not cost a bundle to fill up and to get good gas mileage. I would also like it to be as environmentally friendly as possible. This is very important to me.
- cuteness: I want it to be cute and to look cute in it, of course!
- Gadgets and gizmos: It doesn't have to have a lot of gadgets and gizmos except that I would love it if it had an ipod dock built in - that would be great.

So according to these things - I was thinking about the following:

The Scion xA (I guess production stopped in 2006 and now they have a new model - the Scion xD out this summer). I like this car. I see it zipping around town here in DC and I like it more and more every time I see it. Its a great city car - it fits in lots of small spaces.

The Chrysler PT Cruiser. Its a little bit bigger than most cars I am thinking of, which means more room in the back for luggage, etc. Also it has fold down and removable seats which could be nice and handy. Lots of people think its an ugly car - and that is ok. I think its fun. I would love to have the orange one pictured in the link, but I think that is only available on the highest end one.

The Honda Fit. The Fit is Go - I love that slogan. Its sooo ... sooo Japanese sounding to me. This might be tooo much of a hatchback look than I want. It comes in orange, but its a burnt orange that I don't think I can handle. One of the pictures shows an alpaca in the back seat to give you an idea how roomy it is ... like that really helps since I don't really know how big (or small) an alpaca is. But you gotta love the Honda ad team. Of course the sport is cooler and more expensive.

Really those are the only small cars that I have found that I like with my preliminary look. Any comments or suggestions? Not that I have to decide today - but its good to get a feel for what is out there.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

a different kind of diamond

I have previously mentioned an addiction I have - tv on the internet. Today I talked to multiple people about various shows. When leaving work I had this fear that anyone who might be listening in on me throughout the day would think I was oblivious to the world outside the tube. But I promise I am not! I now feel a need to defend myself.

I want you all to know that I am currently reading a book. Yes, a real book made of paper with a spine, a title page, a table of contents and multiple pages. It even has chapters. Its a real grown up tome. And its really interesting I might add. Its called The Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed and I am learning sooo much from reading this book. Its the second book by Jared Diamond an evolutionary biologist at UCLA. His first book was the acclaimed Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - which I loved. I found it incredibly interesting.

But back to The Collapse - which has taken me all across the world from the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, to Easter Island (what went through the minds of the remaining Easter Islanders when they chopped down the last tree on the island?), Greenland (why didn't the Norse take any hunting tips from the Inuit?), Japan (did you know the Japanese developed a forest management system independent of the Germans who are traditionally credited with such a feat), Rwanda (the 1994 genocide has a more complicated explanation than just ethnic tensions - there were environmental factors as well), and now I am reading about how Haiti and the Dominican Republic took different economic paths strongly due to enviornmental and political influences while sharing the same island.

This book is so crazy. Crazy smart. Diamond blows my mind with his smart and entertaining comparisons. He asks those general questions that you think may not really have answers - or at least answers that you could understand. And while he is a little redundant at times, he helps introduce you to ecology, economics, sociology, biology, anthropology, agriculture ... he has five main factors that he continue to come back to in order to help us understand why some societies have failed and some have succeeded. It is mind blowing. So don't you worry - I do more than just watch tv on the internet. I read books too.

Monday, April 09, 2007

For Lindsey

So two months ago my friend Lindsey "tagged" me with one of those "divulge five things about yourself that no one knows". Why has it taken me so long to respond? Well there are a few reasons -

1) most secrets are kept for one of the following reasons - no one needs to know, no one wants to know, or no one should know.

2) I am an open book ... some might even call me an over-sharer - I share pretty much anything and thus I don't have much to share for things like this that would be considered "divulging".

But for Lindsey, whom I have not seen for almost a year now, I will play along (although I am pretty sure she knows all of the things I could think of to say).

DISCLAIMER: I am long winded when telling stories. But you probably already knew this if you have ever read my blog. Sorry ahead of time.

So lets start way back:

1) When I was little my older sister and I were feeding the ducks at the Heritage Park pond. In an attempt to have a duck eat from the palm of my hand (I was soooo close), I started to lose my balance and in the classic cartoon exaggeration of trying to maintain your balance by moving your arms in spastic circles, I fell in the duck pond. In a sheer stroke of luck or some sort of help from the universe I was still wearing my bathing suit under my clothes from swimming earlier in the day. But of course I still cried. Not because I was six and it was the edge of a nasty algae lined pond full of green water - no not at all ... I cried because I was next to a sign that said NO SWIMMING with a big read international NO sign ... and I was scared I would get in trouble because the park people might think that I had jumped in to go for a swim. My family called me Duck Girl for years after that - I HATED it (hey - maybe it was some sort of foreshadowing with this whole UO Ducks thing now??? hmmm this is very therapeutic)!

2) Again, when I was a little girl, my family was on a road trip from our home in California all the way to Arkansas (crazy I know). Somewhere in between CA and OK (we never made it to Arkansas), who knows what state, I had to go to the bathroom like you would not believe. Like soooo bad. So bad. I had to pee. I was under the age of 10. My mom was driving for that leg of the trip and we were in the middle of NO WHERE and thus there was no place to stop. I mean there were abandoned gas stations, that is how middle of no where we were. We must have been in Kansas because it was so flat. And my mom pulls over and wants me to pee next to the car tire ... squatting, out in the open, with my brothers, dad, and sister in the car - RIGHT THERE. Ok, so I have never had to pee so bad before or since - but my bladder got all shy - I couldn't pee! In a fit of frustration my mom begged me to just relax and pee. But alas, I could not and of course, I started to cry and screamed out a phrase that would come back to haunt me for years to come - "I just don't feel comfortable". I don't remember where I ended up relieving myself, but I do remember being teased about it for the next oh, five or six years.

Enough with the kid stuff, on to random facts:

3) I have visited 9.5 countries:
Canada, Mexico, England, France, Czech Republic, Denmark, Belgium, Japan, Italy (Germany and the Netherlands for hours at a time - each counts as .25, making the .5).

I have also visited 19 states: California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, Delaware, New York, Massachusetts.

I have LIVED in four states (counting DC): California, Utah, Virginia, DC ... and will soon be adding a fifth with Oregon.

Most of you already know this, but to others it might be of interest:

4) I lived in a tent for two months. Yup, I can rough it with the best of them. Just as long as I have a cot and a zero and below sleeping bag (the cot was BYU's Archaeology department but the bag I still have). I was on a dig for my undergrad work ... it was in Escalante, Utah or Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (GSENM for all the archaeology or hiking geeks out there). The area is close to Bryce Canyon and is beautiful in its own way. It made me really appreciate the effects of erosion - how wind, water, and time can carve beautiful things out of stone. We dug stuff up and hiked the slot canyons in our free time ... it was dirty dirty work - but sooo awesome. We showered maybe once or twice a week. Mmmmm, good times.

And here's one that's a throw back to high school ... only because I think its sooo funny:

5) I was voted mostly likely to be married by the time I was 21 - by my Southern California High School senior class (this was not in Utah - 21 was considered really really young to get hitched). Ummm, yeah. Apparently Irvine High School Class of 2001 saw me, Bethany Johnson, as the marrying type. The young marrying type. The Universe sees me ... not in that way. Last time I checked, I am very very single and I am 24. In fact, besides a few boys I semi-dated in college, I have not had a serious boyfriend since I was 20. Pathetic. This I know. But when you think about it, what are the odds of you being attracted to someone you actually know and talk to and have a chance with - at the same time and to the same degree - as they are to you? Its near to impossible and it only gets worse as you get older. Believe me. You have all sorts of things working against you namely time, opportunity, and getting "set in your ways" also known as being too picky. And that whole forever thing - its a lot of pressure on a first date. I mean not for me ... I am all about commitment ... its just hard to find the right one. So all you people with someones out there - your lucky and don't you forget it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

an american genre

I am watching the cheesy end of the world movie "Deep Impact". And I am crying. Seriously. The whole scenario just gets to me. The typical elements of the courageous heroes, the chaos, the heart-ache, the reflection, the do-ers, the waiters ... everything. I think the reason I like these movies the most is because these scenarios - whether it be aliens taking over, an asteroid headed for earth, global warming, an earthquake, a volcano, whatever - simplify life. They force humanity back to the basics, back to the the things that matter most.

Honestly, I get shivers every time I watch these movies. Laugh, make fun, whatever. You know every time you watch a movie like this you think about how you would react or what you would do differently. I know I do. I even wrote a paper in college about the way in which disaster films reflect American culture - we are the only culture or country that have this genre and continue to make these films over and over again. Isn't that interesting? In the 70's they were huge and made a come back in the 90's with new computer animation and effects. In a nut shell it has to do with the American ideal of perseverance and in a sense it reminds us of how this country was built - out of adversity and against all odds. Americans always band together and pull through in these films and in our collective mind.

They typically have a scene where the President of the United States has this ultra-patriotic speech or two about how we are a people that believe in a God, even if it is not the same one, and that we will survive, our way of life will go on! It moves me to tears every time. In Deep Impact the President is Morgan Freeman and in Independence Day the President is Bill Pullman .... ahhh, so good.

In Deep Impact there is another scene that gets me. Young Elijah Wood asks young Leelee Sobieski to marry him so he can save her and her family in the governments hidden caverns. In the end her family come and in a desperate attempt Leelee's mother sends her off with her infant brother, in order to save him (this is another place I cry). The spirit of self sacrifice is awe-inspiring. That to me is patriotism.

In case you need a refresher, here is a list of some good ones (in no particular order):

- Deep Impact
- Independence Day
- Armageddon
- The Day After Tomorrow
- Volcano

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Drum Role Please ....

For all of those who care ... I have decided about school. Despite the fact that Donald Duck will be my mascot - I have decided to embrace the west coast once again ...


It feels good to make the decision finally. I am sick of thinking about - should I, shouldn't I, etc. I am ready to move forward. And I forgot a very important added bonus about UO on this list ... Pioneer Park Cemetery boarders the campus ... you all remember how much I love cemeteries!!!!

So yay! Eugene, Oregon - here I come (well in like four months)!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

certifiably crazy

I inherited a lot of things at work from the girl that had the job before me. This is all understandable - desk, computer, in box, pencil holder, even some emails that are ongoing conversations or full or information that would be pertinent. But what I also inherited were files, which also make sense. Among these files for meetings, copyright requests, prizes and awards, etc etc is a very special file. One she named (affectionately I am sure) Looney Letters (her title, not mine).

Handwritten letters, photocopied scribbles, electrical tape, newspaper clippings, receipts from Winn-Dixie for denture cream and cigarettes - you know, normal things you send to nonprofit professional organizations.

One really great aspect is that there are regular senders. And when I say regular, I don't mean just once a week I get a letter from her ... no, like five letters in one day and they all have multiple stamps. My favorite part is that while the entire front and back is covered in address like information, each letter still manages to make it to my place of work - the US Postal Service picks the DC address out of all the options! Lucky me! Click here to check it out. Sometimes we make guesses as to how many letters we will receive that day. Its never just one these days. This particular one has been going on for a good three weeks I think. That is a lot of time, energy, and dedication - not to mention stamps.

My other regular is a little bit more irregular. He only sends a letter once in a blue moon but it always amazes me how scribbled handwriting and disconnected words can be threatening. The vibe it sends is just bad - it exudes craziness. And unlike the previous sender I mentioned above, these letters emit a scary and dangerous kind of crazy. Its a little disconcerting that such mail makes it to me considering I am so closely located on the Hill to the Capital building. But don't worry, I am obviously not his favorite recipient since I don't receive the originals of his letters. I assume he must be a busy crazy-letter-writing person because his mail consists of photocopied pages. Some might even consider it art - the arrangement of his words and the ferocity in which they are gone over and over again. Judging from his envelopes, I am guessing that the originals are brightly colored with various markers - but to me they are just a scary arrangement of black words on white paper. Perhaps I will never know if there are really beautiful color arrangements helping to make some sense out of the words ... and I am ok with that.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I came home to find these awesome books in the mail!

You know you are going into the right field when something like this makes you happy (its the Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture - you also know you are a mega nerd since you are blogging about it):

I bet you just can't wait to read all about canephora, different types of capitals for colums, spire lights, splays, and springers (also known as skewbacks or summers) .... ahhhh I know I can't. I have already started - first item is Aaron's rod ... any idea what it is in reference to architecture??? Hahahaha

lunch break

This is what I did for lunch today ... what did you do?

National Cherry Blossom Festival 2007

Check out more photos here.

words of the wise

"If you do what you've always done,
you will be what you've always been"
- April Flory
(April 2007)

I really like this phrase, made up by my dear friend April. What makes it so great is that you can look at from both sides - if you like what you have always been, keep doing what you have always done. Motivation to keep up the good work. But if you want to change an aspect about yourself or your habits then you must do things differently in order to become something different. Motivation to change for the better.

It's my new mantra. I chant this phrase to myself when I want to skip the gym. Its all about progress. Thanks April!