Monday, August 24, 2009

Mixed Feelings

With school starting again, I feel excited and disappointed at the same time. Here's my list of pros and cons.

Pros:
  • More people! This college town will be bustling again soon. There's a palpable energy that arrives every fall.
  • Cool weather! And mostly, the yellows and oranges and reds that come with it.
  • The beginning of Trevor's last year of school. *sigh of relief*
  • A less crowded library! Right now we're year-round library people. But when we have kids in public school, we'll probably end up being summer library people like everyone else. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people at the library the week after school let out this summer. And shocked at how few books were left on the shelves. And how l o n g the waiting lists became.
  • Good TV! Reruns get old. Mostly, I've missed The Office.
  • Events! I'm really excited for choir concerts, football games, musicals, art exhibits, intramural sports, comedy shows, dances, and all the other activities that are available during the school year.

Cons:
  • More people. At the grocery store, at restaurants, at Walmart and Blockbuster and Target and the mall, walking and biking and driving. More lines and crowds and traffic.
  • Cool weather. We'll be spending more time inside and less time playing ultimate frisbee and taking walks to campus and chatting with neighbors while the kids play. I'm truly worried about keeping wild little Cassie cooped up in our apartment on cold winter days.
  • Seeing less of Trevor. I've loved having Trevor home every day after work this summer. With all the homework he has during the school year, it never feels like he's really home when he's home.

It's crazy how much school affects me when I'm not even a student. Or a teacher. Here's hoping I'll discover even more pros this fall!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Our Camera-less Adventures

We've been having a great time this summer. I promise! I just don't have many pictures to prove it. Our camera's working fine, I just keep forgetting to take pictures, or forgetting to take the camera altogether.

The last weekend in July was the much-anticipated 24th of July celebration in Oakley, and our last chance to be with Trevor's entire family before two of his brothers moved far, far away. I took four pictures. Two of them feature Trevor sleeping face-down in the front room. I know, awesome. Here's the only one worth showing: Cassie enjoying Grandma and Grandpa's new little pool.
The boys played in the annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament and had fun, but wish they had done better. Good thing there's next year. I went to my first rodeo. Yee-haw! Let's be honest. My first reaction was, "this is a tad inhumane...." Calf-roping was the first event, and the first contestant flipped the calf pretty high in the air when he roped him around the neck. Ow. It got much less violent after that, and was really fun to watch. I was seriously impressed at the control they all had over their horses. The horses obviously trusted their owners and were so well trained. And the highlight of the evening? Driving home in traffic (5 mph?) RIGHT next to a drunk cowboy who was staggering home. Very entertaining. We were glad he was walking home.

We were in charge of a ward camp out last weekend, and I remembered everything we were supposed to take...except the camera. But there were lots of happy people eating Dutch Oven chicken and vegetables, and then lots of scattering people when it started to rain during dinner, and then lots of wet people huddled around a campfire making s'mores after the rain let up. The real adventure for Cassie was in our tent, though. Cassie was acting tired around the campfire, but as soon as she got in the tent and realized it was completely padded with sleeping bags and blankets, she got excited and started throwing herself around. With all that excitement, it took a while for her to fall asleep. But when she did, she was OUT. She slept in the same position the entire night. What do you think of that, mom and dad? (They went on a camping trip when my oldest brother was Cassie's age, and apparently no one got any sleep, since Vaughn was crawling all over them all night.)

Fortunately for you, Trevor remembered the camera on the backpacking trip he took with his brothers and dad. They had to come home a day early (Hooray! For Cassie and me, at least) because of the weather. They all had a good time roughin' it in the wilderness, even though they came home exhausted.






We've also been having fun at home. My parents and Trevor's parents have visited us a few times in the last two months. Those visits have definitely become more frequent since Cassie was born. I guess I can see why they like her so much. Here are some videos to give you an idea of how great she is.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

China!

During spring term I (Trevor) took a class called 'China Megastructures.' After studying and preparing presentations about many of China's huge buildings and bridges, our class of 20 students and 2 professors traveled to China, where we spent 2 weeks visiting the sites we'd been learning about. To be honest, it was mostly just a really awesome vacation that happened to also be a good experience for a sprouting civil engineer. The only bad part about this vacation is that I had to leave Emily and Cassie behind. I also, um, missed both of their birthdays...*cough*. There are two reasons why I am just now posting about my trip:
  1. The guilt caused by procrastination has finally caught up with me.
  2. Ceaseless pinpricking (see Item #4 at this link).
Because I don't like writing very much, I've chosen some of my favorite pictures and videos. Hopefully my captions will tell the story well enough.


This building is a center for the performing arts in Beijing known as the "Bird's Egg." It was meant to be a companion to the Olympic "Bird's Nest" stadium, but didn't get near as popular. After a layover in Seoul, Beijing was the first city we visited in Asia. It gave me my first taste for China's love of BIG structures. To give you an idea of the size of the "Bird's Egg," here's a picture I took from inside looking out:


The next few pictures are from Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. To be honest, the whole time we were there, I swear our tour guide kept telling us as we walked through some huge gates that we were entering the Forbidden City. Then a few minutes later we would walk through another set of huge gates and he would again explain that we were entering the Forbidden City. I'm really not sure where it begins, but we eventually got to the middle where the old Chinese emperors used to live. (It's not forbidden anymore.)

Here's a pretty recognizable view from Tienanmen Square looking towards the Forbidden City (that's one of those huge gates I mentioned).

All of China's important historical buildings include this type of extremely ornate roof design. They repainted everything before the Olympics, so it's all pretty bright still.

We stayed in pretty nice hotels the whole time. Breakfast was provided and included a mixture of traditional Chinese food and American food for tourists like us. That was a lifesaver. About half of our other meals were in nice-ish Chinise restaurants. For the most part I liked the food. I wasn't extremely brave (I didn't eat any strange animal body parts), but I could have. I got pretty good with chopsticks. I'll just post these two pictures of the food:



We visited a lot of buildings and other structures in Beijing. I'll just post pictures of a few of my favorites.

"The Pants" (CCTV Building)

"The Water Cube" (Olympic swimming facilities)

"The Bird's Nest" (Olympic stadium)

Some senior citizens were playing this aerobics-looking game inside the Bird's Nest. They showed us how and let us try, but they schooled us with their Asian skills.

Finally, I can't leave Beijing without mentioning the Great Wall. It's one of those things that you have to see to appreciate. I wasn't especially excited to go to the Great Wall, but it ended up being one of my favorite sites. I also got ripped off and spent most of my souvenir money there.


It's really steep in some places.

They have funny signs all over China that seem to be the product of an online translator or something. I ought to appreciate that they're at least trying to communicate with us Americans.

The next city we went to was Yichang. The big attraction there is the Three Gorges Dam. It's especially exciting for civil engineers. Actually, it rained a lot of the time we were there, and we didn't stay very long anyway, so I'll just give you one picture of the dam:


Next stop: Shanghai.

I can't remember the name of this building

Jin Mao Tower (left) and Shanghai World Financial Center (we went up above the slot in the top and I took the picture below)

Jin Mao Tower

Oriental Pearl Tower (one of the spheres houses a 2-story rotating restaurant)

We spent about a day and a half in Guangzhou. The building I was assigned to study is here. It's called the Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower. It's 618 meters high and was then (may still be) the 2nd tallest man-made structure in the world. I seriously became attached to this building.


One of our professors contacted a head engineer in charge of construction and arranged an awesome site-tour that would take us up to the top and then even higher up a radio tower that you can't quite see in the picture (it adds 160 meters to the height). For some reason, construction was extra busy that day, and the tour was cancelled. We only got to go up to a height of 50 meters. That was the biggest disappointment of the whole trip.

See the little buildings surrounding the tower? We would consider those to be skyscrapers if they were in Utah.

For those of you still reading this long post, I'll finish by posting a bunch of pictures from Hong Kong--the last city on our tour of China. There's a bonus video at the end.

"The Arch" (I was told that the Church Office Building would fit nicely under there.)

We took a ski lift-type ride up into a mountainous area to visit this Buddhist temple.

I can't remember the name of this building, but they say it looks like koala bears hugging a tree. I don't see it.

Bank of China

Hong Kong is PACKED.
Hong Kong LDS Temple (It was closed for cleaning while we were there.)

Stonecutter's Bridge (We got to tour the construction site.)

I can't remember where I was when I recorded this touching little video. This is how Chinese karaoke sounds. It's what old people do for fun there.

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