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


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:

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.