Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Passing of a Friend

A sad event has occurred which has resulted in the passing of a good friend, my Dell Inspiron laptop. Sigh... After three years of wonderful companionship, my good friend has finally seen his day. At first, I thought it wouldn't be difficult to fix a broken monitor hinge, so I took out the screws and opened the case up, disconnected the display cable and the LCD lighting cables, removed the broken hinges, marred up the metal with a screwdriver, and gorilla glued the crud out of it.

Apparently Gorilla Glue isn't as strong as it's proponents tout because the hinge support broke right off again. After a few tries, I decided to weld it back together, which did work but the when the metal settled, it had slipped under the clamp and hardened crooked <@!%#>, so my laptop is now essentially a desktop and I found myself in the market for a new one. At least this is a good time of year to be buying something like this, right?

Black Friday is so much of what I'm all about: unrealistically awesome prices, early hours, enduring freezing cold temperatures, and pulsating crowds of people foaming at the mouth over the piles of steeply discounted merchandise. Ah yes, and this year I didn't intend to merely peruse through countless shelves, but I had a real need and I was shooting to kill. I got off work at midnight and promptly joined my friends Nate and Thomas who had reserved a patch of sidewalk out front of Best Buy with what had become a quivering sea of shivering people and tents which stretched to the end of the block and out of sight.
To make the stay a bit more bearable, we got some extension cords and a power converter at WalMart, and some burritos at Betos (a bad choice), and hunkered down between some dude with a kerosene lantern and two guys reading Treasure Island in a tent . We ran the extension cords from Nate's car to the sidewalk where we huddled under sleeping bags and blankets (thanks to Nate for letting me use one of his sleeping bags because I didn't have one in Provo) and watched Star Trek on a laptop.

One of my friends, who happened to be at the front of line, snagged a voucher for the Sony VAIO I was looking for and brought it to me. Andrew, I owe you big time for that. After an hour and a half in line, I finally snagged my new Sony VAIO laptop. While in line, I met a nice guy from India who was incredibly happy that I understood his accent (my roommate is from India and I work with several Nepalis). I found out he has met the missionaries a few times and, by some incredibly random chance, I had in my pocket a pass-along card that I had picked up off the ground the night before, which I gave to him. As we paid for our stuff and headed out, he said, "It is very nice to meet you, Wes. Can I have your number? I would like to get in touch with you soon and ask you some questions." I hope we stay in touch.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mid-semester Pit Stop

Winter always feels long. Whether it's the temperature being below 40 degrees for six months, the fact that you can't have any prolonged activity outside without protective gear for your epidermis, or BYU's staunch opposition to taking school off for any reason that makes the winter seem so eternal, I don't really know. Fortunately, with the advent of Christmas break's younger sibling, Thanksgiving break, we find ourselves with a week or so to take a breather. I think this is the longest Thanksgiving break BYU has had in years. I guess we do deserve a little something for having to start school in August.
I come from a pretty big extended family, rooted in age-old family traditions. Thanksgiving, particularly on my Dad's side, is an almost sacred event where everyone goes overboard in preparing for it (example, last time we had 14 people bake pies on top of their normal food assignment ). I absolutely love it! This year, however, things were a bit different. With Grandpa still in the hospital recovering from recent surgery to remove some cancerous tumors, the family decided to eat at our house this year. With a decent portion of our family living between Washington and Edmonton, we had a smaller turnout than normal. but it was still fun.

What's a get-together without a friendly YouTube-off, showing ridiculous videos which millions and millions of people had seen yet we had never heard of. Afterward, my cousin Russel and I got roped into playing a game of Smash Brothers, which verified that neither of us have any game at all. Stevie Wonder could probably beat us. For real. We both had so much damage that the game stopped counting.
So this Thanksgiving wasn't our typical large-family feast, but it was still a welcome breath of fresh air from fall semester. My mom put together a slideshow of Thanksgiving, available at:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween of Epic Porportion

Ask any of my friends, I love Halloween. With still-warm days giving way to cold evenings, trees maintaining an increasingly pathetic grip on the last few leaves hanging there, and a sudden proliferation of bare sticks and dead foliage scraping along the streets in the wind, it almost seems like Nature makes a decent attempt to make Halloween as creepy as possible. Every year my friend Chris Beyer and I do what we can to spice this time of year up a bit, mainly by finding the scariest movies we can manage to get our hands on. On Halloween we show our favorite pick to a bunch of friends and relish in the horror that follows. This year, however, was absolutely epic.

I spent a good 45 minutes watching YouTube instructional videos and trying repeatedly to tie a respectable turban on my head for our ward Halloween party. I donned full Indian dress robes strangely resembling silky lingerie, slapped on a beard which could easily be mistaken for a dead cat, and partied hearty for a while. We were sure happy Cousin Abdel (green shirt) could get work off at 7-11 and join us.
(same costume, different party -- I'm the moron blinking on the far right)

Later, my roommate Ricardo wanted to show a group of us friends a scene from a horror movie he found. We got sucked in and ended up watching the whole thing. Now we've watched a good number of these things over the years, but this was the first that left me tense like a two-day onset of rigamortis. We literally had to get up afterward and walk around to shake the lingering suspicion that something might be behind the couch waiting to eat our faces off. By this point we had a good-sized group of friends in our living room and decided it was Halloween, gosh dang it, and we're going to live it up! We slipped over the tall, spired fence around the city graveyard, with minimal injury (RIP Dara's hoodie), and played hide-and-go-seek among the tombstones and trees (bad luck in pretty much every culture, I'll bet).

After a satisfying couple of rounds, we headed up toward an abandoned hotel sitting all alone next to the insane asylum (mental health hospital, for those in need of a politically correct translation). We parked behind a dark warehouse and crept in the inky night up the hill to the shadowy, monolithic structure looming above. I'm not making this next part up--as we approached the hotel, the voices of inmates singing in the hospital wafted through the trees which were shuddering in the frigid breeze. Could it have been creepier? Someone had pulled a board off a window leading to the basement where we dropped in. Inside, every sound transformed itself into an echoing footstep, never failing to deliver petrifying results on the group. Rats scrambled through the walls as we crept up the winding, creaking wood staircases by light of cell phone. With every breath of wind from the mountains, ominous groans resounded throughout the catacombs of rooms through which we were cautiously moving. I should have checked my jacket sleeve for nail-marks where Melissa was hanging on for dear life.

Afterward, we shared scary stories in the bed of Ricardo's truck behind the warehouse before driving home and watching another Halloween favorite: "Coming Soon." Of course, like any gathering of friends with a computer, the night wasn't complete without sharing a few YouTube videos with millions of hits that none of us had heard of. Yes, this Halloween will go down in my memory as the best yet. Happy Halloween, everyone.