Saturday, December 20, 2008

An Ode to Law School

Yesterday was the end of my first semester as a 1L. I was expecting a huge feeling of relief after handing in my last final exam, but strangely enough, that did not happen. Instead, anxious thoughts about grades swirled through my mind. Here are some thoughts of what made this semester so memorable.

When I first started the semester, I had a strange preconception that I was going to excel above all the other students in my class. I figured that because I had no distractions, I could spend all my waking time on school. I discovered, less than a couple weeks in, that spending all my time with school is necessary just to keep afloat. Each of my five classes required me to read and write more than I ever had before. Also, it seemed like everyone around me was as smart or smarter than me. Plus, every guest lecturer or student adviser stressed the importance of getting superb grades. It was around this time that I felt overwhelmed, freaked out and depressed about law school. I later found out that 1Ls tend to have these moments. sp0053muhammad-ali-posters

However, I felt confident that if I kept working hard, I could do well. For motivation, I went online and bought a poster to get me riled up. Every day I would come home to this poster. If the text is too small, it reads: 21st May 1965, Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston, First Minute - First Round. Sometimes I felt like the man on the mat, but most of the time I pictured myself as Muhammad Ali.

I was not completely anti-social, but close. Thinking back throughout my life, I realized that without distractions I tend to close myself up and study. I got really good grades in high school, because I was basically not into the high school social scene. I didn’t get good grades in college because I liked hanging out with friends. In Boston, I was supposed to study for the LSAT all summer long and do amazing on it. Then I made great friends who helped me unfocus myself from my studies. Then I came to law school and without any relatives or close friends, found school to be my outlet for spending time.

I found out something very interesting about my sleep patterns. When I spend a lot of time exercising my mental faculties (studying), I don’t need very much sleep. Especially when working on specific assignments, I found I need no more than 7 hours of sleep. Getting by on less sleep was crucial over the course of the past four months.

I learned that writing is an art. I love it, love it, love it. Writing as a lawyer is so logical, once you know how to do it, and it’s FUN.

As fun as it was to become all competitive with fellow students, I learned that getting good grades isn’t of sole importance. Actually, it may be, but I am not going to incessantly fret about grades. My motto has become this: work hard and in theory you will get what you deserve.

Franklin Pierce Law Center did not let me down. The facilities were good. The fellow students were very friendly, helpful, and smart. For the most part, my professors were great, knowledgeable, and friendly. Civil Procedure was awesome. Professor Budd, Harvard Law alum and former head of the ACLU in California, taught like a champ. Contracts was cool. Johnny O was cool. I liked his conservative approach and his lectures were very interesting and funny. Torts was not too fun.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Reality of the Girl's Network

It has come to my attention that many either do not know of the girls' network, or deny that it exists. Often times it comes as a surprise to boys how quickly information about themselves spreads. No one should be surprised once the girls' network is truly understood.

The girls' network is vast. It transcends national borders. Oceans cannot limit its sphere of influence. The girl's network does not have beginning of days nor end of life. It is beyond comprehension and defies understanding. What is said to one, may very well be said to many.

The girls' network is a powerful and effective means of gathering information. Most of the time spent on the girls' network is discussing boys. The girls' network shows that girls are much more adept at compiling and transferring relevant information at all levels of complexity. At the most fundamental level, they've got the face-to-face girl-talk down. Whether the group is small or large, girls have an innate capability for asking the right questions, and answering with enough information to very quickly gather and disseminate lots of information in a short period of time.

Technology has only fueled the network. Standard forms of technology, such as cellphones, email, SMS, and IMing, allow for the girl's grapevine to more quickly gather and spread information. Then there are the more advanced technological resources found on the Internet: Facebook, Myspace, blogs, Twitter, etc. Through the Internet, masses of information go into the public domain so that any girl with a web browser can harvest the relevant information and insert it directly into the network. In fact, assuming that girls and boys use technological resources equally, in a way I don't quite fully comprehend, girls seem to utilize them better than their counterparts to promote the network's ends.

It is true that not every female is an active participant to the girls' network, but this does not diminish the validity of the network. No other network comes close to being as efficient or robust. While I fully acknowledge there are exceptions, I also make the argument that many girls who are not active participants to the girls' network would participate if given the chance. Some girls feel like they do not participate in the girl's network because they limit their information-divulging to select individuals who "do not spread it." This is often times false, and may be how the girl's network is so effective. All it takes is one girl, and the rest is history.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I feel like a piano key right now

Before I begin, let me reassure you that I love life very much. This past week has been hard on me, though, as I have become acutely aware of my inadequacies and limitations. The worst part is that I have felt quite powerless against my weaknesses. In Notes from Underground, the underground man perfectly explains how I feel: "then, you say, science itself will teach man that in fact he has neither will nor caprice, and never did have any, and that he himself is nothing but a sort of piano key or a sprig in an organ; and that, furthermore, there also exist in the world the laws of nature; so that whatever he does is done not at all according to his own wanting, but of itself, according to the laws of nature." The underground man later questions if mankind really has free will. He uses the example of someone playing the piano. That piano player may say that he is pressing a key with his right hand because he wants to, and that he can play it with his left hand if he really wanted to, but there is actually another factor that goes into his decision-making besides his own free will. This upstream reason exists whether he knows it or not. In fact, if he thinks he is in control, he is stupid. This analysis is exactly how I feel with life at the moment. I feel like I may think that I can choose, and live my life according to plan, but I am actually not making any decisions. I am at the mercy of my motivations, my mood, and chemicals in my body. I feel like I am a piano who is very much at the mercy of other factors to play me.

However, I am almost 100% sure that my "underground man" feelings are only temporary. It is not true that we have no control over our circumstances. Each of us has ups and downs (I am in a down moment in case you can't tell), and we may doubt our free will at times, but we have power to rise above ourselves. In addition to our bodies, each of us has a spirit. This distinction sets us apart from all the animals and any scientific creation. Let me conclude with a quote from Notes: "It seems to me that the meaning of man's life consists in proving to himself every minute that he's a man and not a piano key."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why I Support Proposition 8

The whole man/woman marriage debate has become quite exciting, even for non-California residents such like myself. I have never been one to shy away from action and so I've decided to throw my insight into the mix. Hopefully, this will be brief and to the point.

I've seen a number of different approaches to proposition 8. There are those who become angry at the whole homosexual movement. Their support of proposition 8 is simply because they are bigots. Others hate the supporters of proposition 8. They manifest their own bigotry by calling sincere and rational people bigots. Why can't we reason through this without hate? I like to consider myself a very tolerant person. I understand that by living in America, we need to be tolerant of other people's beliefs. After all, that is what makes our country great. Our country is engaged in a never-ending quest of balancing individual freedoms and limiting the infringement of others' rights. I strongly believe that homosexuality is wrong. But I try not to so in an arrogant, self-righteous, or intolerant manner. How can I believe in an amendment that would limit others' beliefs and still claim to be tolerant? Let me explain.

Lately I have been inundated with legal jargon. Honestly, I feel slightly less intelligent than I was a couple months ago. One thing I have taken away from my law school curriculum is that in some situations, you need to come up with a bright-line rule. This standard may not seem fair to some people, but is necessary to make things work in society. Establishing marriage as only between a man and a woman is a standard that we need to make. If you don't draw the line somewhere, you'll just have a big mess.

The basis for my support for proposition comes down to a matter of faith. Recently, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirmed its support of Proposition 8 and called on all members to help out in the cause. It has been recently reported that out of the $30M raised for the pro-prop8 movement, 40% has come from donations from the Mormon church.

I had mixed feelings when I first heard the church's statement. If you'll recall, in the late 19th century, Utah was a community that was prohibited from joining the United States because of its beliefs in plural marriage that it held. If we were being discriminated against back then for the government regulating our marriage practices, why should we enforce the government to regulate that today? Then I thought about how I know that God leads and directs this church. I don't know all the answers to how He leads and guides the affairs on earth. What was true back then may be different today. But what I do know is that God has affirmed that marriage is between a man and a woman.

There is a lot of excitement as to the implications of gay marriage in California. A lot of speculation abounds pertaining to the effects of Proposition 8 not passing. I don't know if children will be taught gay marriage in public schools or if churches will be sued if they don't perform gay marriages. I believe the effects of not passing Proposition 8 will be more detrimental than not to the state. Marriage needs to be a bright-line standard for our country.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Mormon for Obama in New Hampshire

Last night, I attended an Obama speech in Concord, New Hampshire. Afterwards, I shook Barack Obama's hand (to be more precise, his right hand grasped my right hand). Here is a video that I took.
It was unreal to be so close to one of the most famous men in the world.

I think my favorite part of his speech was him going after McCain. He talked about how ridiculous it was that McCain all-of-the-sudden was an agent of change. Then he said, "They must think you're stupid." At that point a man in the back, with a gruff appearance responded, "We're not stupid!" Barack smoothly replied, "I know you're not stupid."

There were a lot of posters, some more unexpected than others. I saw one "Republicans for Obama" poster. I also saw older women holding posters "Hockey Moms for Obama." I thought about what kind of a poster I could have held up. Mormons for Obama?

Yes I am Mormon, LDS, a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I support Barack Obama. I thought I'd enumerate why I like him.

1) He has family values. With a wonderful wife on his side, who adores him, and whom he adores, he also has 2 beautiful daughters. He loves them, it shows, and he is a good example to our country.

2) He is smart. First off, he attended a couple of the top universities in the country. After receiving his BA at Columbia University in political science with an emphasis in international relations, he proceeded to graduate from Harvard Law School Magna Cum Laude. This shows that he "gets" education - the value of it, the need for it. He understands that in a global economy, the United States needs to step up its education or it will fall behind. Many will say that the United States has done fine in the world without excelling in education. I don't believe this is sustainable. Education is something that I also have a passion for, and I believe that the hard work of a good education pays countless dividends.

3) He is smooth. I want someone to lead our country at home and abroad who articulates himself well, and who looks extremely comfortable doing it. That is Barack Obama. I don't know how he does it, but he is in his element when he is speaking to others. This makes someone look legitimate. When you have to rely on someone else writing a speech for you, and then looking awkward while delivering it, that does not lead to respectability. It makes you look like you're a puppet in the hands of someone else.

4) He is black. Sit back for a second and think about what this means for America. Look at how far we have come since the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Most likely, this will prove an important element with regards to foreign policy as we can approach and relate to countries that have inaccurately written us off as the country with the rich, white-male that oppresses everyone else.

5) He is not always decisive. The world has complicated problems and to tout that you can always act decisively and not blink is a weakness. One example is the recent Georgia/Russia fiasco. Did Georgia provoke Russia? Absolutely. It probably didn't deserve such strong military action, but to have someone immediately assume he knows the whole situation leads to bad foreign policy. Obama, with regards to the Iraq war, and Georgia most recently, has shown that he doesn't make hasty and potentially bad decisions. Will he make decisions? Yes, but they are much more careful and deliberated - something our country needs.

6) He inspires. When I listen to Barack speak, I honestly want to be a better person. Because of people like Barack, I want to be a better American. This is key. Without this element, you sometimes feel reluctant to do things your leaders tell you to do.

7) He has class. The McCain campaign has recently demonstrated that it is willing to say anything to get McCain elected. I can't believe some of the flat-out lies I have heard spread by Karl Rove/John McCain. Dishonesty makes me sick to my stomach and I have been impressed with Barack Obama for walking the high road. Lately he has been forced to use a little more exaggerating, but only because the American people have been believing the smear and slander. As these hilarious women were shouting next to me at the speech last night, "Shame on McCain!" If someone is going to be dishonest while campaigning (and if you don't believe me that McCain is being dishonest, go check out FactCheck.org an independent source that tracks truth in the political arena), it is likely that he will continue to be dishonest while in office. No, the American people want something different than that.

8) He is real. Barack Obama is himself. He's not trying to be more conservative than he is, he's not trying to be more qualified than he is. He is running as Barack Obama. He's honest about it too. He'll be the first to admit he made mistakes growing up. But it's not like he's trying to hide from it, pretending that isn't a part of who he is.

9) He has vision. Obama knows where America needs to be and much of that involves long-term strategies. From health care (which will inevitably cost America less as we focus more on preventive, rather than emergency room scenarios) to energy independence, Obama's policies in the long run is where America needs to be. We don't need the "Drill, baby drill" philosophy because in 10 years after we have drilled, we will still be dependent on a non-renewable source of energy. We need to invest in alternatives that include renewable energy and nuclear.

10) He understands the constitution. He taught constitution law at the University of Chicago for over 10 years. This means that he understands a document that was inspired and has served our country well for over 200 years. When I heard Republicans mock this sacred text at the Republican National convention, I realized that there are many people out there that don't understand something that sets our country apart from others: much of the beauty of our country is based on our government following the constitution. This means when it isn't convenient to do so [cough, Cheney], we still must abide by it.

11) He has done a lot of things. Barack Obama in Illinois was responsible for a bill that many thought was impossible. He got both parties involved and it was passed. I think that he will be able to get a lot of his ideas passed because he has shown that he can work well with people. He showed that early on when he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review. He also was a community organizer. I know he has been ridiculed for having this seemingly unimportant title on his resume, but let us remember that Jesus was also a community organizer. Pontius Pilate? He was a governor.

12) He likes people. Barack goes out of his way to talk to people and to make friends. He has a genuine interest in people. After graduating from law school at the top of his class and serving as president of the law review at Harvard, I am confident he could have worked anywhere he wanted. But he chose to work with disadvantaged people in Chicago. This not only shows that he will treat others that he deals with in other countries with the respect they deserve, he will also do everything in his power to help people in our own country.

13) He understands where he came from. Barack Obama was not given success on a silver platter. He has worked for it. He understands the principle of hard work and wants to give others the same opportunities.

14) He is open-minded. Obama is very open-minded to others' beliefs. He understands that we have differences, but we share so much more in common than we probably realize. I highly doubt that Obama is "the most liberal senator in the United States" as alleged by some National Journal study. It was flawed for a lot of reasons (including not voting for a third of the bills that year). How can you possibly go from being 16th most liberal to 1st in 2 years? No, Barack looks at both sides of the parties and recognizes similarities in all of us.

15) He is prepared to lead. He has been leading his whole life. At home growing up, at law school, in Chicago, even on the Senate floor he has shown remarkable poise to lead. No, he has not served in the military, but why does someone have to serve in the military to be prepared to lead? He has already generated more excitement in politics than anyone else in a long time.

16) He is a champion for the middle class. I heard straight from his lips yesterday, (and I have no reason to doubt this is included in his detailed plans as president) that contrary to what McCain purports, Obama will not raise taxes on 95% of taxpayers. When we hear of Democrats taxing the rich to give to the poor, I think it's a very common conservative argument to hold that isn't fair. The rich deserve their money because they worked hard for it. However, the richest people don't get taxed an equal percentage as others. Warren Buffet, the richest man in the world, has expressed that he would be willing to pay more in taxes. I think another train of conservative thought is that we don't want the government taking money from us. But I think a lot of my conservative friends don't realize that they aren't rich! They are middle class. My advice is to not worry about the government coming in and sticking it to you. Barack Obama is here to help.

In conclusion, there is a lot to like about Barack Obama, enough that I am fine putting my support behind the man. Our country will be better off with Obama at the helm.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A critique of the RNC

I am pretty confident that the strongest argument against Barack Obama is that he hasn't done anything. It's a strong argument because it's hard to defend. All of the important, but seemingly small things he brings up in defense of this argument is easily discredited as unsubstantial. And if he tries too hard to talk up his credentials, he appears boastful and arrogant. If you do something really huge, though, like serve in the army then someone is treated automatically as though he has performed heroic acts. Mrs. Palin - I love you to death for being from Alaska, but you need to remember that we all have different roles to perform as Americans. It's not guaranteed just because you serve in the military that you are doing more for your country than someone doing other things. Where does this stem from that being in the military is the best thing you can do with your time? I guess that's what I'm so worried about with the Republican National Convention is the overemphasis on military. Yes I am very glad that people serve our country, sacrifice for our country, and even die for our country. But let us remember that military dominion is not the penultimate. The pen is always mightier than the sword.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Post #100

After spending almost the entire day at the library studying, I realized I needed to go to the grocery store. I had written my grocery list in my planner (I love my planner, I write in it so much). I hopped in my car and started driving to Shaw's. While approaching a red light, two things happened: my car shut off (I have a hybrid and every time you slow to a stop, the engine shuts off, saving gas) and a pedestrian in the distance started crossing the street. I thought to myself, "Suppose my car was always silent, a pedestrian walks out in front of my car, I hit him and he dents my hood. Could I sue him for negligence? What is reasonable for someone to know to put himself out of harms way? (This is what I was studying all day long today and it's called Torts) Because usually I listen for traffic every bit as much as I look for it. Now with the Green Age upon us, we need to use sight much more. What I really need to know is if the reasonable man should know about and be held responsible for walking in front of a 'silent' car." The law had been on my mind a lot, and it showed by this thought. I realized this and thought back to the Utah - Michigan game. I know that I should be proud of a "home state team" and support the Mountain West conference, but I seem to always want the U to lose. Even knowing that there are lots of good Ute fans out there and that Kyle Wittingham is actually a pretty nice guy. I can't help it. If Threet was a semi-decent quarterback, the Wolverines would have had that game too. After picking up everything I needed at the store, I started looking at checkout stands. The 10 items or less had no one in line and all the other stands were packed. I made eye contact with the checker, then remarked, "I've got more than 10 items." It was clear that I did. "No worries," he replied and I made my way down to the belt. Then I was back home unloading my groceries, gearing up for some more studying. But I did have one more thought on my mind before I started reading Torts again: "I think I may be experiencing the beginning signs of carpel tunnel syndrome with my left arm. Not good."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hard work, Trent's Playground, and Barack Obama

Monday morning was the first day of law school. It was then that I found out that I was already behind. Ever since, I've been working HARD to play catch-up. Already, overloaded to-do lists have beleaguered me. But I like working hard. I must admit that I do get distracted. You see, part of my geek side involves tinkering around with computers and web development. My newest idea that I have been working on is called Trent's Playground. I would tell you more about it, but as of right now there's not much to it. I also have a feeling that this project will be put on the back burner in exchange for study. I found out that one of my large classes requires class participation. I thought to myself, "Trent you're not outgoing enough to get a good grade in this category." Doubt crept in. Then I thought to myself, "Well, you can be outgoing enough. Timshel - thou mayest." So I decided that I was going to be outgoing if I needed to be.
I think Barack Obama is going to be the next President of the United States of America.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ENTP

I am in my second day of orientation right now. I am really glad I brought my laptop because today is BORING. Why? Because I am not going to sexually harass others, I'm not planning on engaging in illegal activities while ridiculously drunk, I'm not going to plagiarize, and finally I am not so much a fan of personality tests. I just took the Meyers-Briggs indicator test. The problem I have with this test is that a lot of the questions are really arbitrary, you would need to think about each question for a long time to get an accurate answer. Instead, we think to a limited amount of experiences, which may depend on our mood, and may not accurately summarize our personalities. Then, when you read the explanation of what your code means, the words bring to your recollection memories that reinforce the analysis and you are so impressed at how accurate this personality test explains you. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating my feelings just a tad.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My new place of residence

I rarely post pictures of myself on my blog, but today I must make an exception. See, I now live in a fairly remote area - Concord, New Hampshire. I have low expectations that friends and family will come and visit me, so I've decided to take you all on a virtual tour.

First off, check out all the movies that I will not be watching this year.


Movies is not the only thing that my new roommate has a lot of.



Walmart has been crucial in my quest to furnish my apartment. If you look closely, you will notice something very special about New Hampshire - no sales tax.


Next is the bedroom. Here is my queen-sized bed. I reasoned that I've been sleeping on ghetto twin-sized beds for too long and it was time for me to upgrade.

This behemoth of a bookcase I got on Craigslist for free. Amy helped me carry it down the four flights of stairs and into the car. It must have been a FUNNY sight to see a little Civic cruising down the highway with a seven-foot bookshelf hanging out the rear window.

I put this desk together from Walmart scratch and felt like a true handyman doing it. With my new desk and desktop computer, I am content.

There you have it, my apartment. And here is a picture of the beautiful outdoors.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A reason to be baptized

While moving up to New Hampshire, I found a little notebook with some notes I had taken. It brought back such good memories, one of which I wanted to share with you. I spent two years proselyting for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the country of Russia. The following story happened in one of my favorite areas-Saratov. I was in the Zavodskoy area for almost 11 months. When I first started in this area, I got my hands on a program to quit smoking. Since everyone and their dog in Russia have problems smoking, we thought it would be a useful way to introduce people to the church, especially if we could claim they would quit in 7 days. So we advertised through flyers and word of mouth to get as many people to show up. In the end, five people came. One young man by the name of Ludwig showed up. His mom and sister had recently joined the church and both of them had been putting pressure on Ludwig to come to the lesson. I remember him keeping to himself, giving everyone the impression that he was too cool to be there. The lesson includes a number of steps, but probably the most dramatic occurs at the beginning. Each participant is prompted to hold a pack of cigarettes in his hand, and crush them on the count of three. This really sets the tone that there is not going to be any more smoking going on. It's one thing to go to a lesson and listen passively; it's quite another to destroy something that you really like and paid good money for. The next step involves signing a contract that you will never smoke again. It's actually really powerful. Everyone in the room signed the paper, with the exception of Ludwig. You see, Ludwig is the kind of guy who is really honest. He's not going to pretend to believe that he'll do something if he's not sure. However, after some persuasion and coaxing, we got him to sign. I guess Ludwig decided in his mind that he was really going to quit smoking. The amazing story is that he did. Thanks to his wonderful family support, he followed each of the steps to a tee and never again touched a cigarette.
Months went by and Ludwig started becoming interested in the church. After meeting for months with the other missionaries, Ludwig came to a point where he knew that this church was true, he was just fearful that he couldn't keep the commandments after baptism. I planned a split with Elder Grant and I talked to him openly about baptism. I felt like I could do this because Ludwig and I seemed to have a really good connection. Here is an excerpt of our discussion. "When we are baptized, we give God a commitment to keep His commandments. Do you remember the lesson we gave you on how to quit smoking?" I showed him the paper he signed. "You gave us a commitment that you would quit smoking. I doubt that you could have quit smoking without such a fortified resolve. Baptism is the same. It's difficult to live by the commandments, without making a commitment to do it 100%." I then related that all he needed to do is repent of his sins, and then tell God that he's ready to keep His commandments by being baptized. And the clincher: Will you be ready to be baptized by next Saturday at 11? The rest is history.
I like this story because it shows that God gives us power beyond our own to succeed in this life. Whether it is breaking an addicting habit, making a resolve to abide by certain principles, or whatever, God will help us if we covenant with Him.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

World record inflation

I've got to give some props to Speedo for designing fancy new swimsuits which dominate old world records. It's amazing to see. I will probably never again in my life witness an Olympics with so many records being set. Unless next olympics they come up with salamander suits. But not all excellence in the olympics is easy to measure across time. Take gymnastics, for instance. How are you supposed to maintain a world record in this event especially when judges change, scores change, and Olympics committees revamp scoring systems every once in a while? Or volleyball. I suppose you could evaluate teams or individuals based on how the competition does against them. In other words, maybe a disparity score might help, which measures the gap between the gold medalist and the rest. If you are reading this, and feeling slightly bored bear in mind that I am alone at home right now, in New Hampshire. There is no one to talk to, so I am kind of using this blog as an outlet for communication. Well, Michael Phelps is pretty sick. I will most likely compete in a triathlon someday. And when that time comes around, I want a Speedo bodyskin to my advantage. They are only $340. I can't believe how good America is at swimming. Wow

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Flashback #1: An awkward "date"

Nostalgia was in the air. The spring flowers were in full bloom, bringing back memories, and I had just graduated from BYU. I was leaving Provo in a week and a half for Boston. But that trip east seemed so far away to me. I wanted to instead focus on a couple girls that I was interested in.
First was this girl in my ward, Ashli. We had transcended the hometeaching bounds and started hanging out to become quite good friends. The other girl, Janae, worked as a secretary for the BioAg college. I got to know her as I came in regularly to finalize my impending graduation. What started out as casual Facebook messaging turned into "maybe we should hang out sometime" and "most definitely. you should give me a call sometime."
Two girls I was interested in getting to know better, a limited amount of time to work with. What to do? My plan was to organize a group to see Spiderman 3 on opening night. Lucky for me, I had a couple single guy friends that were willing and able to participate.
There is a law known as Murphy's law that states "Whatever can go wrong will go wrong." Pay special attention to this law as I continue my story.
A series of events disrupted my plans for a casual group activity. Two days before the movie night, I was hanging out with Ashli and her two roommates. I threw out the idea that we should all go see Spiderman that weekend. Ashli was positive, but the vibes from her roommates were unenthusiastic. In fact, if I could read one of the girls' minds, it would have probably said: 'Dude, Ashli is digging on you. You need to stop hanging out with us as a group, and hook up with her.' Needless to say, I didn't press the issue. Ashli was in--even if she was under the impression it was going to be a date.
Next, I called up my facebook friend Janae. The conversation was a little more formal than I anticipated, it was as if I were also asking her out on a date. This I did not want, but at the same time I feared being rude so I told her that my cousin was also coming and that if she wanted to bring a friend that would be cool. My reasoning was that at least in her mind, the setting was going to be more casual than a one-on-one date. After I hung up the phone with her, I was pretty sure that Janae was now under the impression that we were going on a double date. I started thinking about the predicament I was getting myself into. "Oh well," I thought to myself, "it'll sort itself out tomorrow."
The next day, Janae let me know that a friend of hers was indeed coming. I invited my cousin Andrew and another friend of mine Peter. My logic was as follows: even if 3 out of the 3 girls thought it was going to be a date, maybe the 2 guys with me could work some magic and make it more of a casual group setting. A series of unfortunate events proved to make this untrue.
1st unfortunate event – My car cannot hold 6 people. This meant that one of us was going to have to meet us there at the movie theater. I thought it would be fine as Peter was in Orem anyway, and Andrew could ride in my car.
2nd unfortunate event - Andrew, my cousin, got tied up practicing with his brother's band. Because he was running late, he called to tell me that he'd meet me there. I remember getting a sick feeling in my stomach.
3rd unfortunate event - Because Andrew called me on such bad notice, I was unable to get Peter to come down to Provo and to pick the girls up with me because he was in Orem. This meant that I would have to pick up the girls singlehandedly. At this moment, I'm pretty sure I started thinking about Murphy's law.
I drove first to Janae’s, where her friend was also. They hopped in the car. Early on, Janae pointed out that her sister was someone I used to date. When she said her sister's name, I immediately became embarrassed. My face must have undoubtedly turned red. You see, the relationship with this girl's sister did not end on a good note and memories were now flooding back to me. The evening would only get better from this moment on.
Janae and friend were probably expecting another male in the car, so I told them that my cousin was at the movie theater, but that I needed to pick up a friend on the way. Then I pulled up to Ashli’s, rang on the door, and walked her to my car where two other girls were. She gave me a look that asked, “uhhhhhh, what’s going on here?” I told her as we walked to the car that it wasn’t what she thought, and that I’d explain later. She climbed into the back half-smiling as she began to fathom the awkwardness of the situation. The conversation managed to remain shallow all the way over to the theater. With three girls and one guy, nobody dared to bring up what this situation was, although I knew that everyone was thinking about it.
Unfortunate event 4 – We didn’t arrive at the movie theater early enough. This was unfortunate for two reasons: There was insufficient time to establish a good connection with everyone in the group before the movie began. Peter burst onto the scene just minutes before we entered the theater, and Andrew still wasn’t there. Without that group chemistry, it set the tone for the rest of the evening. The second reason it was unfortunate was that the seating in the theater was complicated. Because it was opening night, there were a lot of people already in the theater when we arrived. We finally decided on one region of seating with a decent view. There were four empty seats on back-to-back rows. It looked something like this:
X X X X
|_|_|_|_|XX
|_|_|_|_|XX

I knew this setup wasn’t ideal as we’d have to choose whom we'd sit by, but I thought to myself, 'Whatever, we'll just sit as a group.' Well, Peter led the way up the aisle and he started going down the top aisle. I was next and didn't want to sit next to Peter, because I wanted another girl to so I hesitated. I was like a deer in the headlights in between the two rows. There ensued an awkward moment where everyone was thinking the same thing probably: Where are we going to sit? Janae and friend went for the bottom row, then Ashli sat next to them. I didn't want them to feel excluded so I decided to sit next to Ashli. Picture it: Trent, Ashli, Janae, and friend on the first row, Peter on the back row by himself. Andrew eventually came and joined Pete up a row.
As you can see, this evening was turning out to be an evening devoid of group engagement and interactiveness. The one thing good thing is that movies encourage silence. After the movie, the dynamics of the group situation did not change. Everyone knew that something weird was going on. The girls didn't buy their tickets. They had been picked up in a car from their respective apartments. Was this just a really nice guy that wanted to bring people together or was it kind of like a date? That is what everyone was probably wondering. The answer, of course, was not that straightforward. Hence the after-movie moment of awkwardness. We engaged in some small-talk discussing the film and after that fizzled, it was time to make a decision. Was the evening going to continue? or were we done? Of course we were not done. We had barely interacted. So we decided to go to Starbucks for some cocoa or something. We had to travel over there in two cars though so Peter met the rest of us there. Inside the coffee shop, another awkward moment struck. By now, Janae and her friend were pretty much getting the vibe that this wasn't necessarily a date so they paid for their drinks. However, Ashli beforehand had a pretty clear impression that we were going on a date and she knew that I bought her ticket for her. In a moment of silence, where we both understood that this was really weird, she went ahead and paid for my hot chocolate. I dropped off Andrew at his car, then dropped off the girls, then I walked in the living room where Andrew was watching TV. I looked at him and could not believe that evening had really happened.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Get in your element

Listen, I wish I knew more about psychology because I find human behavior insanely interesting. I've noticed that we humans are comfortable in certain settings and uncomfortable in others. I have been trying to figure out why this is the case. I understand the argument that an individual has the power to choose how he or she will act in any situation, but I would argue that this is the exception to the rule. Not to sound pessimistic, each of us have our scenes in which we don't do well period.
Every once in a while, you get struck upside the head with a truth that seems so novel, but so glaringly obvious. Such was the case with me last weekend while backpacking in the white mountains of New Hampshire. Let me explain.

Three friends and I were hiking along a trail, and we started talking about our preferences of socializing with people. Then I really started analyzing my preferences, and I noticed something interesting: my social preference depends on if I'm in my element or not. You may be asking yourself what is "your element." For all intents and purposes here, your element is an environment where you feel comfortable and like you fit in. As we were discussing what types of situations we feel most comfortable in, we all agreed that we were comfortable in that moment at that place. This struck me. One reason why is because we were all very into the outdoors. When you get people doing something that they all similarly love and are passionate about, the environment is bound to be more conducive for him or her to thrive in.
After I made my discovery of truth, I came up with a take-home message: For you to be comfortable in different social situations, get into whatever you are into. Get into your element.

My blog

I love the concept of blogging. It's amazing: you write, the world listens. Recently, I've discovered one problem with my blog - it is trying to extend to too broad an audience. I've decided to divide and conquer in the blogosphere. trentathon will continue to be used to relate my thoughts and stories from the perspective of an up-and-coming LDS young man. trentostler (the new blog) will be devoted to my professional, sometimes technical or geeky, non-personal thoughts.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Recent happenings

An update on some things that are going on in the life of Trent...
1) I am going to law school in one month. I will be attending Franklin Pierce Law in Concord, NH. That means that I will be leaving Boston very soon! I can't believe how many people take it as a surprise when I tell them this "news". I thought everybody knew.
2) I am really excited for law school. I feel similar to when I first started BYU as a freshman: ambitious, eager, charged, excited, motivated, and happy. These are very different feelings compared with my senior year of BYU...
3) I have not seen the Dark Knight yet, but I want to so bad that it hurts. Tomorrow may be the day. I've only run into two individuals who didn't give it amazing reviews, but these two individuals may not count. First off, they are both girls and let's be honest-some girls can't always fully appreciate the Batman. They're also roommates so maybe they infused each other with falsehoods.
4) I am training for a marathon... in New Hampshire... October 4th. It is USATF certified, meaning that if I run it in 3:10 I qualify for Boston. I'm shooting for a sub-3 hour performance. I just ask myself, 'Is there a better way to complement a rigorous school schedule than with some intense physical exertion?' The answer that keeps echoing in my mind is 'No.'
5) My apartment all of the sudden has a lot of ants, everywhere. For almost one year, we have been ant-free. But now they are here, and I'm just wondering where these little guys come from... I was on the bus the other day and there was an ant crawling on my backpack. I shook my head, realizing where he came from. This morning, I was reading my scriptures with my B-Sox hat on, and I looked up at the rim. Lo and behold there was an ant crawling on the rim. Well, good thing that Windex works wonders on them.
6) The idea of social justice is really starting to fascinate me. I'll write more about this later, but really briefly I believe that we all should have equal opportunities for success in life. The question is implementation. I wonder if people would voluntarily help others if it were not mandated. That would be the best case scenario ideally, but we all know that we don't live in an ideal world.
7) East of Eden is a very fascinating book. I read it almost daily and am now a third of the way done. If you haven't gotten over the bad high school memories of reading Grapes of Wrath, you probably wouldn't believe me when I say that Steinbeck is a great author. Well, trust me. Or better yet, go out and see for yourself. He really has a knack with using the English language to convey his message.
8) I want to start a new website that may potentially be a big deal. I don't want to publicly expose this idea though, as I may get scooped. If you're interested in hearing about it, write me an email and if I deem you trustworthy, I will fill you in.
9) Cooking = good times. I have really gotten into the dessert making thing lately. Yesterday it was caramel popcorn and I'm coming to the point where I don't need a candy thermometer. Watch out.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A breakfast you must try before you die

I started this morning off on a really good note because I ate something I haven't eaten in a long time: buckwheat, also known as grechka. More than likely, you have never tried this classic Russian dish. If you like good food, you will most probably enjoy grechka. Let me tell you the secret to making it taste delicious.
Buckwheat is a grain that has an appearance similar to rice. If you are unable to find it at your local grocery store, go to a more natural/healthy store like Whole Foods. You also need some peach juice. I'm not talking about the juice that accompanies canned peaches, rather actual peach juice. Going to your local Russian store is a surefire way of finding everything I'm talking about. You'll also need a banana, milk, and sweetened condensed milk.

Cook the buckwheat just as you would rice--on the stove and uncovered. However much buckwheat you want to cook, add double the water. I made half a cup of buckwheat and it was plenty for me. Once all the water has boiled out, the smell will have filled up your kitchen with grechka goodness. Now you are ready to add the other materials. Get your banana and smash it to a pulp in a separate dish. Then add it, along with some milk, peach juice, and a dash of condensed milk to the mix. Delicious!

Now I'd like to talk about the health benefits of buckwheat. The nice thing about eating buckwheat is that you don't feel hungry shortly after breakfast. This is because the glycemic index is a whopping 65. Just to give you perspective, dry pasta is only 49. It has so much fiber which provides a cleansing feeling throughout the day. This isn't a sluggish feeling, rather a feeling of refinement. After eating a serving, my intestinal tract feels like a well-oiled machine. The iron makes you more alert during the day. It is low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. In fact, a protein in buckwheat has been shown to bind to cholesterol very tightly, not letting it go and congest your body. 2. Feel grateful that you have little friends that go around your body binding the bad guys. Buckwheat contains rutin, a medicinal chemical that strengthens capillary walls, reducing hemorrhaging in people with high blood pressure and increasing circulation. 1 Also, it contains D-chiro-inositol, a component related to Type II diabetes. Research to treat diabetes with buckwheat looks promising. Also, prepared my way, you get your Vitamin C, Potassium and healthy sugars.

My advice to all you blog readers: Get out of your mundane breakfast regimens and try grechka. Your body will thank you.

Sources

1. N. Ihme1, H. Kiesewetter, F. Jung, K. H. Hoffmann, A. Birk, A. Müller and K. I. Grützner (2003). "Leg oedema protection from a buckwheat herb tea in patients with chronic venous insufficiency: a single-centre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial". European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 51: 7287–7291.
2. H. Tomotake, I. Shimaoka, J. Kayashita, F. Yokoyama, M. Nakajoh and N. Kato. (2001). "Stronger suppression of plasma cholesterol and enhancement of the fecal excretion of steroids by a buckwheat protein product than by a soy protein isolate in rats fed on a cholesterol-free diet.". Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry 65: 1412–1414. doi:10.1271/bbb.65.1412

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Being modest is not always the hottest

Apparently, I am good at a few things in life. The problem is that I don't know how to react when others give me praise. I end up downplaying others' compliments--not the proper way of responding. I'll give you some recent examples.

Example 1
Person A: You are a really fast runner!
Me: I'm not that fast.
Person A (unfazed): How do you get to be so fast?
Me: [Awkward pause] Well, testosterone goes a long ways in the sport of running.
Person A: Really?
Example 2
Person B: You are really good at swing dancing.
Me: There are a lot of dancers better than me.
Person B: No, you're really good, honestly.
Me: Well, I just make up moves out there...

Basically, I think I need to come up with better responses to compliments that are less modest. I thought of the solution while I was on my run this morning. Here are some one-liners that I will now use in response to praise of any kind:
"I know!" [in an enthusiastic and confident tone]
"Aren't I?" [with a genuine expression, pausing until they give an answer]
"I was thinking the same thing." [nodding slightly]
"I'm glad you brought that up. I'll have to concur." [non-sarcastically]

Monday, June 30, 2008

Likability

I watched the movie Wall-E last night and the theater was absolutely packed. It was packed for a reason. An interesting thought came to me: I was struck at how you couldn't help but like the main hero of the movie. Why was this? Undoubtedly, this theme is studied a lot at Hollywood and I already understand certain elements. Obviously if the character is cute, funny, or an underdog he's almost universally more likable. You find yourself literally rooting for him and wanting him to succeed. In this regard, movies accurately represent reality.
The interviewer hires the candidate who he likes the most, not who is the most qualified. As a salesperson, the more you're liked, the more money you earn. People don't usually buy things from salespeople because it is the logical thing to do. They mostly buy because the salespeople get on their good side and they start to like them. The ensuing benefits then start to sound good. It's no wonder that the good sales associates are always likable individuals.
At the core of missionary work is a very important principle: Build relationships of trust. I could rephrase this to "Become liked." It's absolutely crucial for those you teach to like you.
This principle determines how we function in interpersonal relationships. People are more likely to put up with your crap, give you the benefit of the doubt, listen to your advice, offer help, do kind things for you, consider you legitimate, and want to hang out with you if you score high on their likability scale.
Politics tells the same story. Initially, political platforms matter far less than likability. When you like a candidate, it opens up the door for you to learn more about their views. You then have a much higher likelihood of agreeing with their views after you like them. And if you really like them, you'll do crazy things like volunteer or vote for them. On the flip side, people are often turned off to candidates for one reason or another. Once disliked, very little can be done in terms of convincing and reasoning. (We humans are not logical creatures, folks. In fact, sometimes we're just plain silly.)
So how do we become likable? I think there are universal likable traits out there (like being a humble, funny 28th century robot), but for the most part I think it depends on which crowd we want to be liked by.

Monday, June 23, 2008

How much am I worth?

I don't know the answer to that question. But apparently my blog is worth this much:


My blog is worth $4,516.32.
How much is your blog worth?

. I accept cash and Paypal.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Unprepared

There's one problem with Mozilla trying to set the Guiness book of world's record for the most downloads in 24 hours. Not enough bandwidth to allow people to access the site.

Introducing a new website

Check out TrentOstler.com.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My little experiment

You hear stories all the time about the guy who chases the girl, and finally because of his resilience he finally gets her and they live happily ever after. It happens in movies, on TV shows, in our extended families, and these stories are also told by our church leaders sometimes. Well, a few years ago I was convinced that the chase philosophy was flawed. Girls, I reasoned, need to put forth every bit of effort as boys. The boy shouldn't be forced to give up his power by displaying more interest. Besides, girls don't want a guy who is going to pamper them and be nice to them. They want someone who isn't going to put up with their crap, someone who is going to be real with them. Years went by, and then a situation crossed my path where I had the choice to chase or abandon. I remember reading a friend's blog that had a profound effect on me:

Make her a flower in late December
When the sun is not shining on her.
Write her a love song and play it all day long
To remind her of all that she is worth,
Never never leave her.
Take her on long drives for ice-cream by sea sides
And give her your coat when she is cold.
Tell her you miss her when you're close enough to kiss her
And that you'd walk a thousand miles to tell her so.
But, never never leave her.
Take photographs of her on Brooklyn street in October
When her nervous smile is slightly curved.
Some days when she is slightly down tell her its okay to frown
It makes you just fall more in love with her.
But, never never leave her.

I know, it's a little cheesy. But it really did get my thinking! I thought, 'You know Trent, maybe there's something to be said about chasing a girl.' I hadn't done it in a long time. Instead I had been cool, macho, and hip. So being scientifically minded, I decided to put this new philosophy to the test. Now here is my conclusion: the chase is not for me. Some guys can pull it off, but I guess it's just not my style. Or maybe you've got to chase like you're not chasing. Anyway, I'm through thinking, talking, discussing, philosophizing about this topic because I'm sick of it. And if anyone wants to leave a comment, please do, but I will probably not reply. Unless it's really funny.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

An interesting thought on happiness

Remember that time when Adam partook of the fruit? This catapulted him from a constant, static state into a state where he could experience the bitter and the sweet. I hypothesize that there is a happiness gradient and that the happier you are, the more potential to be sad and vice versa.

My own life validates this principle. There have been times when I didn't really get that excited about anything. Nothing made me extremely happy, and hence I also never got that sad. I was just kind of living the Garden of Eden life. Other periods of life have included much more polar feelings. On my mission, for instance, I had moments when I haven't been happier. I also had moments when I was the most sad. Also, there is something about dancing that makes me happy. When I used to dance regularly, I would experience peaks of happiness, but during this same time I would marvel at how crappy I would sometimes feel for no apparent reason.

Drugs also confirm my hypothesis. Some drugs make people feel extraordinarily good. The user feels temporarily happier, but the 'high' is inevitably followed by unhappiness. Other drugs are used to make individuals feel less bipolar. By numbing the mind, the drug removes much of the capacity of feeling really happy or sad.

The rich and the famous are another interesting example. While this group may not be the most unhappy, it sometimes seems that way given that the media publicizes all their problems. One reason why they are unhappy, even though they have so much, may stem from the polarity reason. The more the potential for happiness, the more the potential for unhappiness.

This leads me to pose a question: What would you prefer? Would you rather have a more consistent, less fluctuating level of happiness or the more turbulent lifestyle that goes through extreme highs and lows. For me, the answer to this probably depends on my mood. Sometimes I'm up for some roller coaster riding, other times I prefer to avoid the trouble and hassle.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Random tidbit of information #2: How long digital storage media lasts

Everything that is stored on the internet is ultimately stored somewhere, on some computer's hard drive. It is true that large storage companies, like Google, have multiple backups of such data and they mirror this to multiple sites to make sure the data is safe. However, allow me to propose a hypothetical situation. What if the internet suddenly ceased to exist? All of your emails, photos, and documents online would vanish and you wouldn't be able to show off all of your good memories to your posterity. Hence the need for backing up data. Now let me clarify that I am not a doomsday proponent. The internet will most likely not vanish so abruptly. But allow me to break down some information on backing up your own data.

The reason for this seemingly random tidbit of information is that I recently heard that CDs will only last 5-10 years. This didn't sit well with me so I set out to research it online. The element of truth to this assertion is that unwritten-to CD-Rs and CD-RWs are only writable for 5-10 years. Once written to, CDs can last a long time under optimal conditions. Depending on the manufacturer and the storage conditions, CD-Rs can last 50 to 200 years while CD-RWs have an expected lifetime of 20-100 years. Obviously if you are routinely scratching the CD, exposing it to extreme conditions, or peeling away the plastic label on top, it won't last that long. Some solid recommendations that I found while researching digital media preservation:
1) Keep two backup copies and store them in separate locations. This decreases the chance that your data will get corrupted.
2) Buy from a good manufacturer. The brand of CD that you buy should have life-span information available. Make sure they've got a long-lasting, quality product.
3) Make note of changing formats. Remember when Formats change. You do not want your prom pictures that you show your grandkids to be in a deprecated format in 50 years. With every monumental format change, you might want to re-backup your data.

May the internet live long and prosper.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Something smells really good right now

When our plane touched down at the Denver airport early Sunday morning, I felt sleepy. As I stepped outside the airport, however, I was greeted by a very familiar and pleasant aroma-the Russian Olive tree aka Elaeagnus angustifolia. This smell, which continues to make my nose happy, has helped me fall in love with Denver. (The more I travel, the more places I love.) Here is a picture of the tree of interest in case you don't recognize it by the name.

The little yellow flowers emanate a most heavenly smell in late spring and early summer.

Maybe this tree isn't very popular on the east coast, but I definitely remember its smell from my Utah days. As I've ranted and raved about this fragrance (yes, to me it is more like a fragrance than a smell), I got blank stares and awkward silences. This lack of positive reinforcement has forced me to conclude that some people can't distinguish the Russian Olive scent. Even though I don't know why this is the case, I'd still like to propose a mechanism, but I've got nothing.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Randomness is often overlooked

I listened to the coolest NPR program the other day. A physicist talked about how humans try to apply rules to everything in their lives. While rules sometimes are useful, very often they can't be used to explain the whole situation. The concept relates to every facet of life. Here are a couple facets that I frequently think about.

Sports At the end of the game, the victorious team is considered the better team. All sorts of analysis are used to back this up. But a lot of times, this is ridiculous. Case 1: The Spurs beating the Suns in the playoffs this year. Because this happened, the Spurs were considered this really good and experienced team that knows how to win championships. But in all reality, the scenario could have been completely different. What if Tim Duncan missed his truly fluky 3-pointer to force overtime in Game 1? My point is that in the game of basketball, little tiny things that are basically lucky happen all the time. Case 2: The Rose Bowl between Texas and USC was a really close game. Vince Young eventually triumphed over Matt Leinart. I can just picture the NFL teams discussing prospects among themselves on draft day. "Vick won the game, he is a better quarterback." Because of this, Young was drafted #3 and Leinart #10. Just like the basketball example, it's possible that other small factors could have played a role in Young's success other than his skills alone.

Religion I have already talked about this here, but we tend to explain things in the church a lot. Elder Jones got a baptism because he is a good missionary. Person A is happy because she reads her scriptures every day. In some cases these rules can hold water, but life is so complex that we must also consider randomness into the equation.

Business It is very difficult to explain things in the business world, yet people try to do it all the time. At the 2008 Macworld conference & Expo, Steve Jobs unveiled the newest and coolest Mac products. Because some people were disappointed in the products, the stock price fell a lot. In the space of a month, it went from $200 to $120 a share. At its lowest moment, people were saying that Apple wasn't keeping up with their innovative ideas and blah blah blah. Was the stock justified in dropping so much so quickly? Let me remind the reader that the stock has since rebounded back to around where it was. In my mind, the cause probably involved an element of randomness.

Politics True or false: John McCain was the best Republican candidate. I would say false, but there was something very important that started happening when his campaign was literally in the dumps - the surge in Iraq started working. The policy, which was so unpopular with the American public because they had seen so little military success among the insurgents, started working. The policy to continue the course gave McCain the much-needed legitimacy to win New Hampshire and he milked that momentum until Super Tuesday. All the analysts explained that McCain won because of his experience and bla blah blah, but honestly I think he just got lucky. He was in the right place at the right time, and that to me is randomness creeping in.

Now what does this all mean? Some people would use randomness to explain that God does not exist. They would claim that religion is used as a crutch to explain things like the meaning of life, why we're here, etc. I would argue the opposite. When something happens that can't be explained, it's possible that it can be explained by Someone. Just because we don't have the big picture, doesn't mean that it isn't out there. When making explanations, keep in mind an important Arabic phrase Masha'Allah( ما شاء الله) which means God has willed it. Because in many cases, that is the only reason that it happened.

Listen to the complete radio program
here on Windows Media Player or here using Real Player

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Opera 9.27 vs. Firefox 3


I was initially drawn to Opera out of curiosity. The beautiful and sleek interface made it easier for me to use a browser other than Firefox. (It's true, I was addicted). Let me explain how a web browser can be beautiful. Every time you hover over an HTML component, the element becomes highlighted, giving it the impression that it is glowing. Also, when a page is loading, the cursor becomes an hourglass, unless you are hovering over an element that is action driven. This subtly suggests that you can perform the action that you are hovering over. Speaking of hovering, when you hover over a tab at the top of the browser, it displays a small screen shot of that page so that you don't have to open the tab up just to see what's there. It has cool features such as fast forward and rewind. It also has an easy to use Speed Dial page which allows you to select from a number of specified pages. This feature is far more useful than a simple homepage. Whenever you close your browser, it will automatically save your session so that when you open Opera next time, you can continue exactly where you left off. It allows for you to disable scripts that are running on your page. This has come in handy for me with javascript debugging. Rather than cycle through masses of alert popups, or restart the browser, there is a checkbox in every popup to stop scripts. Wonderful! It is very compliant to web standards. One issue that irked me with both Firefox and IE was that When you highlight and copy html content, it also copies the hidden content. Not with Opera :) Opera seems less buggy than other browsers. Another important feature worth noting is that when multiple tabs are open, you can cycle through them just like with other browsers with Ctrl + Tab. The difference with Opera is that it doesn't cycle through them in order of tab, it cycles through them in order of how recently you've used the tab. In this sense, it is very much like using Alt + Tab for all applications. In case you haven't yet noticed, I like using a lot of tabs. Currently, I have 7. One final feature, do you ever get annoyed with the little download window that's always in a small, separate window? FYI, if it doesn't show up in firefox by default when you download something, you can force it to appear at any time by hitting Ctrl + J. Anyway, Opera has designed a cool feature that breaks out of the Netscape/IE mold. Rather than having a separate window for downloads, it has a dedicated tab called Transfers. I like this idea as you don't have to add yet another program to your list of desktop processes. Opera is free and I recommend you download it here. Opera has room for improvement incorporating some rich media, but I really like using it.


Recently I downloaded and installed the Beta version of Firefox 3 and I was impressed. They claim that they gutted the code under-the-hood and redesigned it. I was definitely able to feel the difference. In fact, I feel like I will be in love when the real version comes out which should be soon. Already, it makes me feel like I'm using a google product (with all the AJAX features [When you start typing in a url in the address bar, it matches your text not only to previously-used urls, but also text in the urls' title]) plus the sleekness of Opera. Oh yeah, apparently IE 8 is coming out soon too. Even though they claim that IE will finally play by the web standards, I'm not too excited about it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ramblings

It's late, but sleep is so far away. The sound of waves crashes into my eardrums. U2 is a joy to play on the guitar. Do not promote bad movies by going to see the new Indiana Jones movie. I am like a ninja - every girl that wants to get married should have me as a practice boyfriend and her dreams will most likely come true. Sugar is like sin. Sand castles and crabs are man's best beach allies. Old acquaintances come back at random moments. The natural man is an enemy to God. I have a lot on my plate right now. The Celtics will advance to the finals. A tan face is better than a pasty face. Humor and old friends are good for the soul. Sunscreen should be applied evenly and consistently across skin surface area. Life for me gets better with age. I will go to a Red Sox game this summer. Motorcycles are a great mode of transportation. The Mac chess program is very difficult to beat. I constantly find myself looking for ways to make money. I know this may sound cliche, but there's something to be said about following your heart. Utahvalleyfun.com is now more operational than it has been. Franklin Pierce is a sick law school. Drupal may be the key to my success. I have no strong loyalty to any particular operating system. I am now sounding a little bit geeky. Sleep calls my name softly.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A walk down memory lane

Utah was fantastic. I'll mention one thing about the trip. Unexpectedly I found a boatload of personal memorabilia. At my grandparents, I found a baby book detailing bizarre tidbits of information ranging from when I first smiled, to when I first ate solid food. I found an autobiography I wrote in the sixth grade. Then there was the goldmine of mission stuff, that made me really miss the mother land! Here's the point that I want to deliver: After thinking back to who I used to be, I started thinking about who I am now. Then came the inevitable question of if I had lived up to expectations I had back then. My conclusion was that I have not measured up. This conclusion made me a little bit sad, I'll have to admit. But it was the feeling of sadness that motivates you to be a better person. I'm not one to harbor regrets, but one regret I have that I hope to learn from or that I could convey to others is this: do not be deceived. You're probably thinking, 'Well Trent, hindsight is always 20/20. How are you supposed to know when you are being deceived?' That is a good question. We don't always know what truth is and indeed that is why we are living life-to gain experience based on the limited amount of truth we have. But God knows all, and He has given us a way to tap into His truth. I wish I would have tapped more into God's inspiration. You can't always rely on it, and it's definitely not always easy, convenient, or logical. But it's better than relying on yourself and/or others. Let me conclude by saying that it's definitely not the end of my life. Watch out folks, cuz I'm going to carpe diem until I die.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thoughts

I want to make up for my dearth of blogging. I told a friend not too long ago that I have a lot of interesting blog topics to write about, I just don't blog. But before I blog about interesting topics, allow me to catch you up on my life and some of my thoughts.

I am flying to Utah for the weekend and I find myself unusually excited to go back home. One reason may be that my brother Graden is getting married and I will see the majority of my relatives and friends. Another reason may be that my expectation level is different for this trip. You see, for the past year, I have thought about either fanning flames of old embers, or finding new fire in Utah. Friends and relatives love participating in the fun by playing matchmaker. While I will definitely enjoy hanging out with friends, I will not be looking for that special someone. That adds a lot of happiness to my soul. It's kind of like the feeling of leaving Vancouver, Wa in the summer of 2004 and realizing that I wouldn't need to knock doors the next day. Right now I am just thinking about all the fun things there are to do in Utah valley. I think I'm going to go for a long run up the canyon. I might also go to the gym with my good friend. Perhaps I'll go swing dancing. I could even sleep under the stars with my brother Weston. This trip is going to be so fun.

I thought Lamar Odom had an awesome game last night. In fact, he has had an awesome series in general against the Jazz. If the Lakers win the series, (which I'm still hoping will not be the case) I will crown him MVP of the series. On the flip side, D-Will is my man! If only he had a little bit more help...

The other day, I read an article in Newsweek (America's Next Top Mormon) about how a lot of Mormons are hitting it big on reality TV shows. One reason that it I thought was particularly interesting: "there's also a longing to show America that Mormons aren't the insular community they're often perceived to be." There are so many people that think Mormons are WEIRD. The more that this perception is changed the better, in my opinion. I think there is a fine line between fitting into the mainstream and standing out. But if I were to choose one extreme, I would probably choose trying to get into the mainstream. I think Jesus was a good example. He never tried to isolate himself from others, rather he was always putting himself in situations to reach people. While never compromising his standards, he mingled with sinners, heathen, and unclean folk on a regular basis. That's one reason why I love living outside of Utah: there is more of an opportunity to interact with people that are different from me. Now I think I can run for office.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How do I feel today?

Like Usher

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Hack a Shaq strategy should go away

The NBA needs to change its policy of allowing dirty Spurs from fouling Shaq every possession, thus preventing quality basketball from being played. Greg Popovich, the mastermind of San Antonio's evil ploys, should enroll in a basketball ethics course. No, it is not ethical to abuse NBA rules. In fact, since David Stern doesn't understand how cheap coaches can be, I'm going to write him an email expressing my views. Here is what the new rule should be: every time someone is fouled without the ball, it results in a technical so that the best free throw shooter gets to put it in. Okay, I think I'm done venting.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Random tidbit of information #1: How Spiders Create Spiderwebs


I love sharing interesting tidbits of information. This post begins the first of a series entitled "Random tidbits of information."

Have you ever wondered how spiderwebs are created? I'm not talking about the synthesis of silk. I'm talking about how the spider spins a web from point A to point B, even if these two points are far apart. This concept has boggled my mind at times, actually. I mean do spiders just fly from one bush to another like Spider man? Well I took the question to Wikipedia, and I was not let down.

According to wikipedia, the first thread is the most difficult part of construction for the spider. "The spider effectively utilizes the wind to carry its initial adhesive thread. With some luck the silk is released from its spinners and carried by the wind to a suitable adherable surface. When it sticks to a surface the spider will carefully walk over the thread and strengthen it with a second thread. This process is repeated until the primary thread is strong enough to support the rest of the netting."
Contemplate that the next time you see/walk into/push someone else into a spiderweb.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Viva Concord

In the summer of 1950, having applied to Harvard business school, Warren Buffett took the train to Chicago and was interviewed by a local alum. What this representative of higher learning surveyed, Buffett says, was "a scrawny 19-year-old who looked 16 and had the social poise of a 12-year-old." After ten minutes the interview was over, and so were Buffett's prospects of going to Harvard. The rejection stung. But Buffett now considers it the luckiest thing ever to have happened to him, because upon returning to Omaha he chanced to learn that Ben Graham was teaching at Columbia's business school, and immediately--and this time successfully--applied.

When I read about the humble beginnings of the currently richest man in the world, I became happy. You see, lately I've been receiving a lot of rejection letters from law schools I had aspirations of attending. But one school, Franklin Pierce, was willing to take a chance on me. In fact, I've been getting really excited about Franklin Pierce Law and firmly believe that I can be successful in life through this program.
Franklin Pierce is renowned for its Intellectual Property law focus Currently, US News & World Report ranks them 5th in IP. I will be able to take awesome classes, get great job opportunities, and make connections with powerful people like few other schools can provide.
New Hampshire combines the best of both of my worlds Being on the east coast, it is close in proximity to cities. Yet, New Hampshire is very much a non-city environment, kind of like Utah. Transportation is very simple. If you want to go from point A to point B, you hop in your car at point A, and drive to point B. You don't have to drive to point C, pay for parking, take the train to point D, walk to point E, and then arrive at point B like you do in Boston. Housing is cheaper. Outdoor adventures will happen with all of New Hampshire's undeveloped land and wannabe mountains. Another exciting feature: Wal-Mart.
I won't go into that much debt I was fortunate to be offered a generous scholarship for each of the three years by FP. Also, housing is cheap and I am low maintenance in my needs. I may not have to sell my soul to a large law firm after law school.
I will have a better chance of standing out Everyone always rants and raves about getting into the the most competitive school, but I think there's something to be said about being a big fish in the pond. FP's total enrollment is 400 (For a comparison, Harvard has 1730) and I will more likely rise to the top of my class and land a top-notch job or internship. As a friend told me recently, I am about to start the end of my formal education. Because New Hampshire isn't well-known for its fast-paced, fun, city-lifestyle (Concord has a population of a whopping 40,000), I can hit the books hard. This way I'll get the most out of my law school experience. Will this take dedication? sacrifice? pain? Yes. But I think I'm ready.

In conclusion, I believe that great opportunities sometimes turn up in unlikely places. I would not have seen myself going to New Hampshire one year ago. But I am now firmly under the impression that it will be an amazing experience.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Some geese are not nice

For those of you who don't know, I am training for a May half-marathon. I recently bought a nice running watch, and have dedicated 6:30 - 7:30 every morning to running. This morning, I probably looked quite ridiculous. Let me explain:
I was running along Riverway and started approaching two geese. I thought nothing of it since I pass geese all the time. All of the sudden, one of the geese started flying towards me with his beak gaping open. I was stunned, not knowing what to do. The goose proceeded to fly slowly and directly towards my face. I stopped dead in my tracks and became SCARED. As my nemesis approached even closer, I behaved instinctually, not having any time to think things through: I cowered in the face of this bird. Seeing my submission, the goose called off his attack. After somewhat recovering from my spell of terror, I kind of laughed and continued on with my run. Thinking back to the experience, I can just imagine how much entertainment that must have provided someone driving by at that moment.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good Friday

I have a confession to make: before this year, I had never heard of the holiday 'Good Friday.' In fact, I hadn't heard of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday or Holy Saturday either. I'm particularly amazed that I had never heard of Good Friday considering how huge it is in mainstream Christianity. Many students and workers throughout the world get the day off. I grew up in an predominately Mormon community which doesn't celebrate this holiday, but shouldn't I have at least heard of it? I mean the stock market isn't even open on this day.
R invited me to a church's Good Friday service in West Newton. It was almost surreal being inside the chapel. Not only did the church have that old look to it, there were candles and the stained glass windows that added to the effect. Walking to the pews, soft music filled my ears. In the dimly lit chapel, I could make out 3 cellos, an oboe, a flute, and a harpsichord. The service was entitled Jeremiah's Lamentations and a man and a woman traded off singing in a foreign language that I thought was either German or Latin. The music was absolutely beautiful. In between songs, the pastor would get up and speak to the congregation. I would like to include some of what he read taken from the book of Isaiah, chapter 53. Pay special attention to the wording as it is not King James Version.

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

The question crossed my mind, 'Why don't we as Mormons join with mainstream Christianity in honoring and revering this special day?' I'm familiar with some of the standard answers. First off, there are a lot of false traditions that detract from coming to Christ. I've heard of weird reenactments of Christ's crucifixion and also overly focusing on Christ's death. But in the United Church of Christ, there was nothing morbid or unpleasant. In fact, it gave me more of an appreciation for what Christ did for humankind.
The second reason we Mormons don't celebrate Good Friday is probably because we like to instead focus on the happy part - the resurrection. While I see the logic in this, I also see several weaknesses: First off, by implying that we don't celebrate all the other holidays in Holy Week in favor of the climactic holiday, Easter, you would think that there would be a climactic celebration. However, my experience is that Easter is just like any other Sunday. So if we are going to say that we don't celebrate Good Friday in favor of celebrating Easter, then when Easter rolls around, we should really celebrate it. Secondly, I think the more often you can be touched by Christ, the better you are. I feel like we wouldn't be worse off as a church if we spent more time thinking about Christ and what He did for us. Thirdly, remembering the death does not mean we have to become too preoccupied with it. Indeed, it can make celebrating the resurrection that much sweeter when we realize that there was a Friday that was necessary for Sunday to come. Leo Tolstoy made the distinction in his later years how one can know if a work of literature is Christian. Whether it be happy or sad, if the work brings you closer Christ, it is Christian. I feel this standard applies to all art. I felt like this service definitely drew me closer to God as I thought about and pondered Christ. Fourthly, overlooking this holiday (and not even knowing what the flipping holiday is) makes us appear less-Christian to others.
In conclusion, I think it would be good to celebrate Good Friday in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church has been making a push lately to stress that it is Christian. Wouldn't celebrating Holy Week help in this regard? Also, wouldn't it help us think about what Christ did for us? I think so.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mastermind - A Powerful Concept

In the book Law of Success, Napoleon Hill talks about the concept of creating a 'Master Mind'. Allow Napoleon to explain what a Master Mind is. "A Master Mind may be created through the bringing together or blending, in a spirit of perfect harmony, of two or more minds. Out of this harmonious blending, the chemistry of the mind creates a third mind which may be appropriated and used by one or all of the individual minds." He then focuses the remainder of the book in showing how a Master Mind approach can help achieve goals-whatever they may be. He supports this conclusion mostly with examples from business successes in the early 20th century. But lately I have found that this concept applies in the 21st century as well. My cousin came to visit me from DC, and we actually started talking about John the Baptist around 11:30 PM. This topic quickly turned into how to better pray, study the scriptures, and keep the commandments. I did not expect to be so spiritually uplifted on a Saturday night. But it reinforced the Master Mind concept that when two or more minds come together, something greater than the individual minds is possible. Anyone up for creating a Master Mind?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Daytime cellphone use is down

I have 7 days left in my cellphone billing month and I've used 24 minutes. That means that on average, I use (21/24 = 0.875) less than a minute a day. Ha! That's kind of funny. Well, don't be fooled that I never talk on the phone. My free minutes start at 7 PM and by being on the east coast, you can get a lot done with such a plan. I'd try and use my phone more during the day, but Sprint = crummy reception at work. 9/10 when people call me it goes straight to my voicemail, and I'm pretty close to a window. You'd think that the reception would be better. Well, my cell phone contract is about to expire and I'm open for suggestions.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I've got that loving feeling

Today, I made a realization - I realized how much I love the Boston area. It is something that I've been thinking about recently, but now I think I have a better idea of why my love for this area is so strong. Today at work, I realized how much progress I have made in understanding what I do. I knew nothing about mass spectrometry, very little about proteomics, and was an infant in web programming. It is SO exciting to see how much progress I have made. What does this have to do with Boston? I have been surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the country in the field of mass spectrometry. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime to work where I work.

At lunch, we had a pizza talk with Dr. Shoelson from the Joslin Diabetics Center speaking. His presentation focused on a drug that is currently in its first clinical trials that may revolutionize obesity and diabetes in America. I have always been skeptical about quick fixes to big problems, but the data he showed were pretty impressive. I love opportunities of being on the forefront of technology!

On my way to my class at the Harvard extension school, I began observing the students. As I made my way to class, I thought about how some of the world's greatest minds are/have been/will be here. In a minuscule way I am a part of them, I thought. In case I haven't told you about the class I'm taking, it's called Internet and Society: Politics of Change. As you can imagine, we talk about how the internet is changing our society. The professors are top-notch and provide interesting and mind-stimulating conversation. In today's class, we not only talked about the Orange Revolution which happened a few years ago in Ukraine, but also a guest from Ukraine came and spoke about some of his experiences in helping to lead the revolution. He was a member of the alternate news website Maidan, and helped use internet and SMS services to topple the existing and corrupt government. As my class came to a close, I marveled at what a cool class I have. Then I started thinking to myself that there is probably no place like Harvard. I fully acknowledge that there are probably other great establishments out there, I am simply a little biased. I also acknowledge that some of the people here are caught up in themselves, but the opportunity of being in their midst is truly worth it. Is everyone in Boston oozing with intelligence? No, but it is definitely nice to run into smarties moreso than I'm used to.

In conclusion, when I moved out here 10 months ago I had no expectation of what kind of experience I would have. Now I love Boston in a really deep kind of way. That's all I have to say.