Saturday, December 30, 2006

Go Beavs!!

First off, congrats to the Oregon State football team for their victory in the Sun Bowl. It was a nice way to finish off a successful season. Also, it makes me look pretty good saying that Riley shouldn't be fired when I wrote that back in September. Also it bumps Riley's record in bowl games to a sterling 3-0.

I will be among the first to say that this season turned out much better than I expected it to. My dad and I both thought that Cliff Kirpatrick was crazy when he thought that the Beavers (with the right bounces of the football) could win 10 games. We both thought that getting to the 7 wins that we needed to go to a bowl game would be a struggle. But this team found ways to hang on and win at the end against Washington, Arizona, USC, Oregon, and Hawaii.

Here are some personal highlights from the past season:
  • I was working swing shift on the night of the game against Eastern Washington. At some point in the night, I realized that the game had started. So I went to my computer and checked out the score and saw that we were 28-0. I figured the lead was safe and went back to learning about mail flow.
  • Adria and I listened to the Arizona game on the radio. Mike Parker's call on the radio of Sammie Stroughter's touchdown went like this, "Matt Moore back to pass... throws to Joe Newton, the pass is incomple--- caught, THE PASS IS CAUGHT BY SAMMIE STROUGHTER, THE 20, THE 10, TOUCHDOWN BEAVERS!"
  • Later in the same game, Mike Parker was explaining why he didn't have much of an idea of what was happening on the field with: "We are not in the press box, we are in a windowless room watching the game on a small TV monitor."
  • This video sums things up nicely:

    The night before the game, Adria and I were at a Halloween party and people were coming up to me to talk about the game and how it was the national broadcast on FSN, and I mentioned that I hoped that the Beavers came to play and didn't lay a stink bomb as they have in the past on national broadcasts. Turns out I was wrong. Another side note to this game is that I couldn't stand the announcers so I muted the TV and fired up the internet stream for 1190KEX so I could listen to Mike Parker call the game. What I hadn't expected was that the TV and the internet radio would be off by about 5 seconds or so. What this meant was with me watching the game and Adria in the kitchen, I would get excited about a play, and then Adria would have to wait 5 seconds to see what all the hullabaloo was about.
  • Adria and I went to the Arizona State game, and had remarkably dry seats for it as well.
  • I knew that I would be in St. George, Utah during the Civil War and wouldn't be able to track the game. So I told my buddy Justin to send me text message updates of the game periodically. So I get a message from him that reads simply "27-14", so I figured that the game was entering the 4th quarter, OSU was up my 13 and the victory was in hand. So I got out to dinner with Adria's family and don't think much more of the game. Justin sends me a text message "We win!" while I am on the way to the restaurant so I prepare to eat some duck for dinner. So an hour later Justin sends me another text message "Best game ive ever seen..Blocked fg to win on the last play!" which left me throughly confused on how we could go from being up 13 entering the 4th to needing a blocked field goal to win at the end.
  • Adria and I stayed up late (really late because we were in Washington D.C. at the time) to watch the Hawaii game.
  • I was tracking the Sun Bowl during work and was pretty depressed to see the Beavers close to 7 points in the 4th quarter just to see Missouri come right back and score a quick touchdown. After a while, figuring the game was over I clicked back just to see the final score, and I saw that not only was the game not over, but Missouri was getting ready to punt the football to OSU up 7 with 1 minute left. And then I saw them march down the field (or rather I saw lines on ESPN's gamecast that indicated their march) and get the tying touchdown. And then I saw it take a really long time for Serna to kick the extra point, and then all of a sudden it showed that the 2-point conversion was good. It was shades of the Washington game in '98 (except that the conversion was good this time around).

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays!!

For Christmas, Adria and I spent time with both sets of parents. Here are some the the highlights from the holiday festivities:

Christmas with the Tingeys
The Friday before Christmas we met up with my brother Jeff and we drove down as a group to Corvallis. My brother Brad had driven up with his wife and daughter from California. Brad's daughter Samantha turned out to be the biggest entertainment whenever she wasn't taking a nap. She was so entertaining that both James and Brad needed to take her picture at the exact same time.

On Christmas Eve, my parents hosted a small gathering of friends to celebrate the holidays.
Also on Christmas Eve, Jeff lost his holiday cheer when he found out it was Ryan Seacrest's birthday.

Christmas with the Davises
After my parent's Christmas Eve festives, Adria and I drove back to Portland and spent Christmas day with Adria's parents. We had nice relaxing day. Adria received The Muppet Christmas Carol, which she watched while we had French toast for brunch. Other than the Muppet DVD, Adria and I received many useful gifts that will help keep us warm when we move to Alaska. I tried to wear all of the clothes that I got at the same time, and the result of that trial is below:

Monday, December 18, 2006

Book List

We received a request for a book list addition to our blog. The list will be divided into three categories as follows:

Books Both Adria and Garth Read in the Last 1.5 Years:

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
First of all this is a short book, the first 20 pages are the most difficult, but it is EXTREMELY worth the few hours it will take to read the whole thing. Second, If you have ever heard us say that we don't have a TV and if you then wondered why, it is because I read this book in a high school history class and then I read it again this summer, and then Garth read it and it contains the reason we don't have a TV (you'll just have to read it now.) Don't let that be a reason not to read this book, you can still enjoy TV after you read it! However, you may have a slightly different attitude about TV that claims to be "serious" (i.e. "news," and "educational" programming, etc.) Reading this book was like waking up from a coma. I wish I could call Mr. Postman and thank him for his insight but (maybe luckily for him) he passed away (before the Internet explosion).

The preface of this book reads (in part),"In 1984, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right." It is interesting to read this book in light of the recent push to make entertainment centers not only the center of the home, but pervasive within the home. This point hit home recently as they installed Comcast On-Demand in the apartment that we are staying in this past week. It seems like Comcast is trying to give you absolutely no reason to do anything else but watch TV because you can watch Rocky IV anytime you want.
Technopoly by Neil Postman
We briefly mentioned this book in a previous post in reference to the Cannon Beach July 4th Parade. In this book Postman argues that "the uncontrolled growth of technology destroys the vital sources of our humanity." This book changed my perspective on the ability of technology to solve the ills of society.

Gosh, Garth chooses the most abstract, deep parts of the book to share. I can't concisely list all that I found fascinating about this book, but it was unbelievably compelling (and nonfiction!) for one, because it asks why the increasing amount of information of the age has not yet provided the solution to fundamental social problems like poverty, divorce, crime, health care, etc. And also because it explores themes such as, how science has encouraged us to objectify and quantify everything, how technological advances are never neutral, and why people with more "culture" arguably had (as in there hardly are anymore such people) better lives than people with more information. It sounds boring here but it was NOT BORING, and Postman's old fashioned rhetorical style make his premises very convincing, even though his writing has a religious flavor sometimes. Hey, I'm religious too and that doesn't make me a crackpot.
Approaching Zion by Hugh Nibley
Speaking of crackpots, Hugh Nibley is without doubt my favorite socio/religious writer ever. He will make you laugh, cry, shudder and lose sleep. He's a brilliant dude, but his best stuff is not stuff that shows off his cum laude-ness. I love his Berkley liberalism especially after living in Hatch territory for a short time. I love his truth-seeking rejection of the things that make Latter-day Saints feel ok about "living in the world but not of the world." I love his no-nonsense, no-excuses reductionist formula for getting into Heaven. So if you want to become Zion, and not just talk about it, I mean if you actually want to go there and fit in there, you will eat this book up, even though it is really long. You will wish it was longer!! I bought it for Garth who wasn't all that excited about it until I sneakily removed all of his other reading material and he just opened it out of boredom. He now says that it will be our standard wedding gift for everyone we know from now on. I'm not much for Nibley on ancient history and Egyptology and stuff like that but I'll read him on Zion any day. Plus I love it because he was never a general authority so he can say what he really thinks and not worry about his reputation, and it also means that just normal gospel doctrine teachers can be truth seekers too.

Moneyball by Michael Lewis
This book examines the success of the Oakland A's and looks that the movement for the increased use of statistics in the evaluation of baseball players. What I found most interesting was to see what type of careers the players mentioned in the book are having.

Moneyball was very entertaining for me, and when I read it I knew almost nothing about baseball. But it turns out that you don't need a baseball fanatic on hand to answer questions every page (I think that there were about 5-10 words or ideas I needed to look up or ask about in the whole book.) It was more of a book about economics which is why it was so hard for me to put down. "The economics of baseball," you say, "a combination of two of the worlds most boring things!" But wait, there is a hidden allegory to dating in this book that is so engaging, and because Garth employs many of the same drafting strategies as Billy Beane, I am now happily married to a nice (discerning) fellow. But that came to me after I read and enjoyed the book for other reasons. Heads up that dugout language (including offensive words but not offensive topics) is quoted unedited in this book.
Freakanomics by Steven D. Levitt and Steven J. Dubner
The premise of this book is defined as, "if morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work." I liked it because it provided another way to look at the world around us. Plus it also addresses questions such as "Should public school teachers receive raises based on the performance of their students?" and "What has caused the explosion of children named Britney, Kaitlynn, Madison (or some derivative thereof)?"

This book was really funny. Reading it was more entertaining/amusing than going to any movie I can recall or going iceblocking. That's probably because it was interesting as well as funny, and I liked it because some economics got left in it after all. It's a short, intelligent, entertaining book that makes you think about "the hidden side of everything," between laughing about it. Garth let me borrow it before we got married, but if we had broken up I would have bought myself a copy, even though it sadly is not in paperback yet. The thing I disagreed with most is the reason given for the decrease in crime in New York, because I subscribe to the "broken window theory," that Malcom Gladwell explains in Blink. The real reason was probably a combination of at least those two factors. But I thought even the stuff I disagreed with was still interesting. I think this book will be a lovely gift for interesting people when it goes paperback.
How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer
I felt that this book should have been titled "How Soccer Reflects the World Around It". I didn't really feel that the world was any better explained than it was before I read the book, but instead that soccer doesn't operate in an economic or political vacuum.

This book should probably just be on Garth's list because I stopped reading it with him after the third chapter. I guess the social commentary was not interesting enough for me to endure the hooligan violence. I think the net effect of my reading this book is my new attitude that pro-soccer and people associated with pro-soccer are mostly evil. I'm also saddened by the fact that soccer is the sport of the proletariat in the rest of the world, where it is more the sport of the bourgeoisie in the US because it is way, way too organized here. In Hong Kong (and for that matter, Brazil, Mexico, France, all over Africa and wherever) kids and adults play soccer on the street or in public parks all year for fun, but here you have to be on like a league and try-out and stuff. Oh well.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
I enjoyed reading the best selling novel of all-time. While I was reading the book, I had to get a medical examination and a drug test for my employment with the Postal Service. Thinking that I might have to wait a while before my exam, I brought this book with me. The worker who was going to administer my drug test saw that I had a copy of The Da Vinci Code with me and asked me what I thought of it. I mentioned that I as about 20 pages into it, so I didn't really know yet. Then the worker went out of his way to make sure that I knew that the book was fiction.

Although the main premise of this book that Christ was probably married does not offend me (in fact, it has seemed quite likely to me since way before this book), I am still extremely incredulous that His wife, descendants, and most loyal followers from a Jewish community in the Middle East would all become (one) European and (two) pagan(?!). This book was really, really exciting, but I was morally disturbed by some parts and although it took only a few hours to finish, I decided to forgo the temple trip we had planned for the afternoon on the day I finished it because I just didn't feel like going to the temple after reading this book, and to me that is a bad sign. Hey, that's just my opinion!

The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki
This book has a revolutionary premise that a bunch of not-quite random people (including a few dumb ones and a few smart ones) can come up with more accurate and/or effective solutions to questions and problems than a bunch of typical "experts" (well, we all know "experts" love to disagree anyway, but we often assume they know what they're talking about.) Surowiecki explains it better, but its really a radical idea. And then he just cites examples following the Gladwell template (see below). Neither of us have finished it and we bought it in April. So despite the really interesting premise, it's really not a very engaging book, that I can hardly read in chunks longer than 2 pages.

I actually haven't finished this book (and I have no desire to either), but here are my thoughts after 3 chapters: Surowiecki explains the premise in the first 5 pages, and then repeats that crowds are smarter than the lone expert/genius over the next 300.
Books Adria Read in the Last 1.5 Years:

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Blink was probably my favorite of the two Gladwell books, because it seems like we don't give intuition enough credit in these days of "proving" stuff. Anyway, Malcom Gladwell makes things sound perhaps more interesting than they are, after all, his book is just a collection of anecdotal stories about how sometimes people knew more about something at first glance than they could deduce scientifically or otherwise, and a few tragic stories of how people's intuition misled them. Garth checked it out at the library for me, and I haven't rushed out to buy a copy, but I did reference themes and stories from it twice in sacrament talks. That's weird. It is a very widely acclaimed book though so don't get a ho-hum feeling about it from me, but read those other books I liked first.
Tipping Point by Malcolm Galdwell
Tipping Point was not written by someone who has very much experience with the LDS Church. I know at least a hundred each of mavens, connectors and salesmen (of smaller scale than he talks about in his book) but that part was a little underwhelming for me. Of course, you don't know what I'm talking about if you haven't read the book yet. Well, I'd read what Gladwell himself says about it and if it sounds interesting, give it a shot. Basically, he says things, "epidemics" (like trends in fashion, business and even popular books) get started and spread thanks to a certain combination of factors that might be called standard-so big trends can be "traced" or even anticipated or more importantly to him, started by design. Anyway, if Freakonomics is (for reference only) a 10 and The Wisdom of Crowds is a 1, Tipping Point is about a 5.
The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
Now here is a book to recommend! This book is about nutrition, which I was not aware of when I saw the clip about it in the newspaper in the corner of my eye. I was interested in getting it because a book called "The China Study" no matter about what, would obviously be interesting to me. It could be about communism or something else political or social, or about education or population demographics or what have you- I mean China is such an interesting country-I bought this book with absolutely no idea it was about nutrition. Actually, this book is about the cure to cancer which might involve some simple and inexpensive measures that remarkably resemble the Word of Wisdom, but if you don't want your husband to die like other Americans (with our fancy technological health care that still lets us die of nasty things like colon cancer and deep vein thrombosis-yuck) you might be interested in taking a look. There was a personal resonance since one of my grandfathers died of recurring heart attacks, one grandmother died of lymphoma, the other grandmother died of Alzheimer's, and the surviving grandfather has a significantly reduced standard of living since having a heart transplant. Reading this book was like finding a buried treasure. At first I didn't like Campbell's narrative style, I mean I wanted to read a scientific paper, but later I could understand after a lifetime of writing well substantiated scientific reports and peer edited theses for Cornell University without anyone really noticing the import of it, how you'd just want to scream to the layman, "I did this for you!! My lifetime in academia was to save you from getting a nasty American disease, and no one cares because there's no money in it!!" Anyway, wow, I started to forgive the personal voice he used. I've been living by the theme of this book since spring break when I finished it, and I'd just like to say it wont kill you and it just might save you some expensive surgery in the future. I would recommend this book to anyone.
1491 by Charles C. Mann
This book was a really good read about what researchers are finding out about what the Americas were really like before Columbus. It's amazing how much of what we were taught in school is now changing. Contrary to the normal idea of Native Americans having a minimal influence on the environment, they actually were quite adept at changing the landscape and the animal distribution to benefit their huge communities. The author has obviously never actually read the Book of Mormon, because he references it as an implausible explanation for how the entire continents were originally populated, which I don't think most Book of Mormon scholars would agree with, nor what the book itself claims. Anyway, it was a really interesting collection of new research and not boring at all. Now I want to go to Bolivia and the Yucatan, the Peruvian Andes, etc. and see this stuff for myself. Great book. I've already bought it for a Christmas gift this year.
Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

This book is a refreshing industrialist look at environmentalsim. If you see right through "reduce, reuse and recycle" there is a better way!! Who knew people that make stuff in the old-fashioned industrial revolutionist way have hearts? Well some of them. This book is utopian, I loved it, it made me want to go back to college (not many things make me want to do that) and become an industrial engineer (I guess being married to one will have to do for now)...

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura
My mom gave this book to me for Christmas last year, which means I had been married for about 15 days at that point, but it seemed edgy so I read it that day. Basically, all I have to say is that Garth has no idea what Dr. Laura has done for him!! I can only stand listening to her on the radio like twice a year (I do occasionally listen to news radio in the car and she's sometimes on), but she ripped me apart in this book. She totally destroyed me. And that's really good, because I was still like 94% natural woman at the time and now I'm probably more in the 80's, which is good for Garth because the natural woman is (unlike the natural man) bipolar, resentful, annoying, unforgiving, unpredictable, irrational, unreasonable and insensitive (and Garth adds, crazy). Of course not to her friends, but poor husbands get no mercy, especially after they become husbands and it is not as essential to impress them. Anyway, the amazing thing is that the natural woman is totally ignorant of herself! So leave it to Dr. Laura who has seen thousands of marriages fall apart to expose the natural woman as the culprit. Anyway, the basic premise is that happily married men (we're talking the standard male package, not the crazies) don't have affairs, (or in other words, the woman who treats a stranger who knocks on her door at 3 am more considerately than her own husband should fear nicer women at her husbands office). I know that doesn't seem like a serious danger to women whose husbands have significant moral or religious deterents to being infidel, so for us the basic premise would be: the wife of an unhappily married man should be ashamed of herself. Why be ashamed? Well, because it is just so easy to keep the "standard male package" happy, and although the major reason for that is not selfish, if he is happy, he will pull down the figurative moon for his wife. So easy? Well, Dr. Laura has a whole book full of ideas but basically it boils down to being nice and making dinner. If that sounds too simple, read the book. If blaming women for failed marriages (like the husband cheats after 20 years or something-I mean think about that, why would a guy cheat after 20 years of a nurturing, loving relationship? Dr.L says it probably stopped being nurturing and loving after like one year) sounds too harsh, try being married, and simultaneously read the book. My recommendation is reading the book within 16 days of being married. I have tried to get many of my friends to read it, even think about reading it (I lent it out once for 6 months and it was never read, I had to take it back because I was moving) because it is so effective, but sadly, no one I know has, except my mom.
Books Garth Read in the Last 1.5 Years:

Fantasyland by Sam Walker
This book details the author's first season competing in an "expert" fantasy baseball league. It talks about the history of fantasy sports and the sometimes irrational behavior that it causes.
The Jump by Ian O'Connor
Details Sebastian Telfair's senior season of high school basketball and details the commercialization of basketball at the high school level as well as the influence of shoe companies. The documentary Through the Fire also recounts this time of Sebastian's life. This book takes a different light in view of recent events.
The Last Shot by Darcy Frey
Similar to The Jump, in that it involves high school basketball players who view basketball as their way out of the ghetto. This book spends more time on the struggles that the players face to academically qualify to be eligible to play college basketball and the college recruiting process than The Jump did. I think of it as a book version of the documentary Hoop Dreams. Coincidentally this book also involves Sebastian Telfair's cousin Stephon Marbury (who later would play in the NBA and is portrayed very negatively in The Jump).
Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
This book profiles the 1979-1980 Portland Trailblazers and the changes in the National Basketball Association that were taking place due to the developing influence of television as well as the personal lives of the players on the team.
Unfinished Business by Jack McCallum
This book profiles the 1990-1991 Boston Celtics.
Now I Can Die In Piece: How ESPN'S Sports Guy Found Salvation, with a Little Help from Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank, and the 2004 Red Sox by Bill Simmons
The book with the longest title in this list is a collection of Red Sox related columns that the Sports Guy wrote for ESPN (and for his website before he made the jump to the World Wide Leader in Sports) from 1999 through the 2004 World Series.
Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis
It seems that every time I mention that the subject of this book is professional Scrabble players that people snicker. This book examines the history of the game (including the game show that was hosted by Chuck Woolery) as well as looking at the nature of excellence as the author in his profiling of the Scrabble World Championships decides that he too, could become an expert Scrabble player.
Playing for Keeps by David Halberstam
A biography of Michael Jordan and how his celebrity was a creation of the rise of mass media.
The Cure by Nikolai Krementsov
A book that I read for a course on the history of Russian science. It is the story of a promising anti-cancer drug that was developed by two scientists in the Soviet Union and how politics and scientific turf wars hindered and eventually ended their research.
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Another book that I read for the same history of Russian science course. This dytopian novel is considered to have started the genre and influenced Orwell's 1984.
Education of a Coach by David Halberstam
Profiles Bill Belichick and what has made him one of the top coaches in the National Football League.
Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (in progress)
I recently decided to read the first modern novel and am presently about half way through it. I have enjoyed it, although if reading a 1000-page novel might seem like a too monumental task, there are abridged versions out there too.
Wait Until Next Year by Mike Lupica and William Goldman
In this book a sports writer and the guy who wrote The Princess Bride take turns writing about various parts of their local teams seasons.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Potomac 20854

After our Thanksgiving festivities, Adria and I flew to Washington D.C. I had some training classes to attend, and Adria came along for a mini-vacation. As with our previous trip to the D.C. metro area in July for orientation, the training was held in Potomac, MD, home of notable figures such as Dikembe Mutombo and Daniel Snyder. Below is some of what he busied ourselves with while we were in the D.C. metro area:
  • I must look like I know my way around the area because as Adria and I were walking out of a metro station one evening, somebody asked me for directions. Later that same night we saw the movie "Happy Feet", which is one bizarre movie, and I don't mean that in any sort of positive way.
  • We stayed up late to watch the Oregon State Beavers beat Hawaii. It was an exciting game, although I am glad that it wasn't nearly as nerve-racking of a game as was the Oregon State/USC game, which was nice, because otherwise I probably never would have gotten to sleep after the game, which was surprisingly difficult even though the game ended at 3:30 am Eastern time.
  • Adria and I visited the National Building Museum (pictured to the right). We saw an exhibit titled "The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Aarchitecture and Design" that we had previously heard about. They had a model of a green building house that is called The Glidehouse, which was interesting to walk through and see some of the ideas that had gone into the design.
  • We also spent some time at The National Portrait Gallery. We enjoyed the second floor of the gallery the most.
  • On the flight home, I also added Atlanta to the list of cities that I have been to, but never left the airport (the list also includes Denver and New York City).
While it was fun to go to Utah for Thanksgiving and visit D.C. again, it is good to be back home.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Running Man

Much is being made of Derek Anderson's performance yesterday in rallying the Cleveland Browns to a 31-28 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, and how Derek came out of nowhere to do it. People who lived through the Derek Anderson Experience when he was at Oregon State know that DA has really big feet and a really strong arm. So to see him throw the ball well (to me at least) isn't much of a suprise. But him having a 33-yard scramble has to be one of the most amazing and improbable things to happen this NFL season. DA, of all the college football players that I have seen in my day, probably was the goofiest runner of them all. We were amazed everytime that DA would take off and run and get positive yards (although he once made collective jaw of the student section drop when he tried a spin move on one of his scrambles). This play isn't getting enough ink on how absolutely incredible it is.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Derailing the Colt Brennan Express

Congrats to Oregon State for beating the University of Hawaii (a.k.a. The Colt Brennan Express) in Hawaii. Adria and I stayed up to watch the game (which made for a late night because we watched in from our hotel room in Maryland and kickoff was at midnight in the Eastern time zone). It really was tremendous game. I never thought that I would see coach Riley have the guts to take a tactical safety. It was good to see the Beavers not roll over when things got difficult. Also due to Gerard Lawson's 100-yard kickoff return, I feel compelled to tell this story about Gerard Lawson and Brandon Powers:
I was sitting courtside at an Oregon State women's basketball game with some of my buddies(which was quite easy as during the last year of the Judy Spoelstra era, the Lady Beavers were drawing about as many fans as a high school basketball game, and this was even with $1 tickets), and a member of the events staff came up to us and asked if we wanted to participate in the halftime events for a chance to win a gift card at a local eatery. My buddy's friend from the dorms (Ricky) and I said "Sure" and we met the staffer at halftime for the game. One of the most popular halftime events at OSU (along with frisbee dogs, jump roping kids, and 8th graders having a basketball scrimmage) is a game where a team of two players tries to make as many baskets from various areas of the court as they can in a minute. Each area of the court are worth different points (a lay-up is worth 1 points, a free throw is worth 2, a 3-pointer is worth 10, and a half court shot is worth 25). It is a simple game, but really exciting. So they announce the first team of players who just happen to be Gerard Lawson and Brandon Powers. So they go out to the court and proceed to make just one lay-up, which I think was a new record for fewest points in this game. So Ricky and I go out to the court and Ricky (who played high school basketball) starts our round off by making a half court shot to win the game for us.
Congrats to the Beavers on a successful regular season. Hopefully the citizens of Beaver Nation will begin to cut coach Riley some slack (and will not jump on Sean Canfield if/when he has struggles next year). Matt Moore looked pretty good against Hawaii, he has gotten a lot better this season. His career at Oregon State has some similar parallels to the career of Derek Anderson. Both had high expectations at the beginning of their careers, both had a penchant for throwing interceptions, both took a lot of criticism for not being the quarterback who preceded them (with each of them being booed at home), but both got a lot better over the course of their senior season and ended the season absolutely on fire.

Let's hope that the Beavers keep it going in the Sun Bowl and complete one of the most successful seasons in school history

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Turkey Lurkey

For Thanksgiving, Adria and I went to visit Adria's Grandfather in St. George, Utah. Adria flew down to Utah on the Tuesday before to visit some friends and I flew down Wednesday after work. We had a nice time in St. George. Adria's parents and siblings came down as some of here extended family.

On Black Friday, Adria and I went for a walk along the Virgin River. Adria especially likes the terrain around St. George just because it is so different to the terrain that exists in Oregon.
We also saw a rock (below) that looked like a soon-to-be-crashing-down-wave that Adria liked as well.

Also on Black Friday, as per tradition in Adria's family we went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant called Panda Garden. I ordered duck in celebration of Oregon State's victory over the University of Oregon earlier in the day. (As a side note: Hopefully this season will keep the Riley-haters quiet for a while.) After dinner, Adria and I watched the movie "Monster House" and were both pleasantly surprised by how much we liked it.

On Saturday, we drove to Salt Lake and met up with my brother Jeff for dinner. After dinner we went to see the Christmas lights at Temple Square. Adria and I both enjoyed the display. It was the first time that I had been to it. Below are some pictures from the light and nativity display:

After viewing the display, Jeff took us to our hotel so that we could prepare for an early-morning flight to Washington D.C. the next morning.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fantasy Basketball

The NBA season started 3 weeks ago, which means that the fantasy basketball season is just getting underway. And as usual I have multiple fantasy teams. The team that have captured my imagination the most is my team called The Serbian Gangsters. 2 years ago I created a team called The Eurotrashes that was an abysmal failure. The Serbian Gangsters is another attempt to see if it is possible to create a good fantasy basketball team stocked solely with Europeans. Presently the Serbian Gangsters are:
  • Ben Gordon- I think that if I had known that he was born in Britain while I was creating the Eurotrashes, that it might have turned out better. As a result of this oversight, I was forced to have people like Zoran Planinic or Marco Jaric as my 2nd guard.
  • Sasha Pavlovic- As long as he gets off the bench, he seems to produce.
  • Sergio Rodriguez- Same thing as with Pavlovic, if he gets off the bench he produces. And you have to like an 8 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio as well. Plus he has a highlight video with "Nuthing But A G Thang" in the background.
  • Peja Stojakovic- As much as Peja has let me down in previous years, I needed him this year.
  • Mickael Pietrus- If he could only shoot free throws...
  • Dirk Nowitzki- Really the key to all of this. If I couldn't draft him, having an All-Euro team would not have even had a shot at working.
  • Darko Milicic- I couldn't have a team called The Serbian Gangsters and not have the Serbian OG, now could I?
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas
  • Zaza Pachulia- Without a doubt, he has the funniest first name in the NBA. Not only is it fun to say "Zaza", it also sounds very similar to the word "zyazya" in Russian (which Zaza is fluent in). "Zyazya" translates roughly into "bunny-rabbit".
  • Nenad Kristic
  • Andris Biedrins- I like his hair in his Yahoo! Sports page.
  • Pau Gasol- Once his broken foot heals and he gets his rhythm back, he should be a valuable member of the team. Until then, he is just dead weight.
  • Tony Parker- Almost as important to the drafting strategy as was Dirk. Without Tony as a point guard, I might be forced to have Sarunas Jasikevicius on my team, who has done nothing for the Pacers this year.
My other two teams (The Minotaurs and The DPW), are "normal" fantasy teams built without regard to nations of origin.

While The Serbian Gangsters have struggled up to this point, I feel that the roster as it presently stands will be productive and will at least keep me in the playoff hunt until Pau gets back. Also I have done some tinkering with the roster so my team is stronger after I dropped players like Jake Tsakalidis, Sasha Vujacic, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Primoz Brezec, and Marko Jaric. So the future looks bright.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Faust: The Opera

Adria and I attended the opera last week. We attended the Portland Opera's production of Charles Gounod's Faust. Adria had attended 3 operas while in college (La Traviata, The Magic Flute, and Carmen), while this was my first opera experience. I suppose with this being my first opera and last week Adria attending her first college football game that it says a lot about how we entertained ourselves during our college years.
Adria thought that the opera was beautiful, but depressing (Adria has found that of all the operas that she has seen, only The Magic Flute was not depressing). I thought that it would have been interesting to be able to see an opera sung in English, instead of listening to the words sung in French and reading the subtitles as they did in Faust. On one of the flights coming home from our trip to Oklahoma, I read an interesting article about reading Homer in the original Greek. The authors main point in the article was that a translated work doesn't convey all of the richness that the words in the original. Personal example: Adria and I recently watched the movie Russian Ark with some friends. Because this is a Russian movie, there were subtitles which Adria and our friends read to follow the movie. However the subtitles didn't capture all of the texture of the dialogue, nor did it capture a lot of what the extras where saying in the background (however despite being able to understand what the extras were saying, the movie still didn't make much sense). Anyways in short, I probably would have enjoyed the opera more if I didn't have to read the subtitles to follow the plot of the opera.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Oregon State 44, Arizona State 10

Adria and I went to the Oregon State/Arizona State football game on Saturday (the day after getting back from Oklahoma). This was Adria's first time attending a college football game. She attended the Oregon State/Oregon basketball game last March, which was also her first college basketball game. While we were walking to the game, one of the shuttles that takes fans to the stadium stopped and the driver offered us a ride to Reser Stadium. Once we got on the shuttle one of the riders (who was clearly jealous of our gear) said to his girlfriend, "Why don't we have stuff like that?" His girlfriend wasn't as impressed as the boyfriend was, as she just shrugged her shoulders. She probably hadn't seen some of the other goofy outfits that my friends and I have worn to previous games. For example:

By contrast, we were dressed far less goofily than at previous games. Here is us in our gear:

It turns out that it rained almost the entire time that Adria and I were in Oklahoma. The rain continued during most of the game, but we were lucky to have seats that were very dry. We were seated next to the club section of the stadium, which blocked almost all of the rain. I didn't realize how much it was raining until Adria and I got up to leave the game and we got wetter leaving the stadium than we did watching the football game. Plus our view of the game wasn't bad either, as seen below.
During halftime they held the ring ceremony for the 2006 NCAA Champion Baseball team.

As for the game itself, Oregon State rolled to a 44-10 victory. The outcome of the game was never really in doubt. It was nice to see that the Beavers didn't celebrate their victory over USC for so long that they didn't get ready for this game. What a difference a month makes. A month ago, there was rampant talk of Riley being shown the door along with Matt Moore being benched in order to begin the Sean Canfield era. Now, the Beavers are 6-3, ranked in the BCS, and there is talk that the Beavers could run the table and play in the Holiday Bowl.

It would be less than honest if I said that I saw this coming. After the Washington State game I was going to write a post that I was going to title either "When Moore is Less" or "When Less is Moore" that was going to detail the fact that up to that time in 3 games against non-cupcake teams (i.e. not Eastern Washington or Idaho), Matt Moore had led the team to one touchdown, and even that drive was aided by a fake punt. Further, even after the Eastern Washington game (which briefly made Oregon State the highest scoring team in college football), Matt Moore lead the time on only one long sustained drive. Luckily for me, I never got around to writing the post, mainly because I was working graveyard and was too tired when I wasn't at work to create critical arguments more complex than "Matt Moore isn't very good, therefore he should be benched".

Let's hope that the Beavers continue to keep working and hopefully they will be able to keep this momentum going on Saturday against UCLA.

After the game Adria and I drove back to Portland to see her brother Hayden in a play called "The Man Who Came to Dinner." Hayden did a good job in the play.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Oklahoma, Oklahoma, Oklahoma

Adria and I recently returned from a trip to Oklahoma. I had a training class in Norman and Adria came along. We both had a nice time in the Sooner State. Here are some pictures/stories from the trip:

Here is a picture of Adria and me sitting in the airport. After spending so much time in airports over the past week, I wondered "Why don't more airports offer free wireless Internet?" Travelers would like it, and when flights are delayed there aren't too many other ways to kill a couple of hours in an airport that don't involve spending money. I think the answer comes down to $$$, the airports want it, and the Internet providers have it, which is why is seems that the larger the airport, the more likely you will have to pay for internet access.. Here is a list of which airports have wireless Internet, and which are free.

At nights after I was done with work, Adria and I would go for a walk around the hotel's fitness course. One night while we were walking we enjoyed this sunset:

Adria brought her sewing machine along with her to Oklahoma so that she could working on some projects while I was at work (yes, if you can fit your sewing machine into a piece of luggage you can bring it onto an airplane as a carry-on as long as you put the needles in you checked baggage. But the person on the x-ray machine at the Oklahoma City airport gave us an odd look when we said that there was a sewing machine inside of the suitcase). My co-workers got wind of this and asked Adria to help make some alterations to a pair of jeans that were going to be part of a Halloween costume for my co-worker Joe, who had decided to be a hippie. Adria gave the pants decidedly more flair than they had when they were purchased (as you can tell from the picture to the right). A bunch of my co-workers got dressed up in costumes and went out on the town. A picture of them is below (if you look to the left of the picture, you can see the workers at the hotel registration laughing):
The costumes in the group included Catwoman, an afroed hippie, Mario, a dread locked hippie, the Invisible Woman, Wonder Woman's cousin, Raphael the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, a pirate, a spider-woman, Rainbow Brite, a hunter, a cowboy, 2 nurses, an angel, and Harry Potter.

One night, Adria and I took a shuttle from the hotel to Oklahoma City. There we visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial. This Memorial is necessarily a sad place, but they did a very nice job with the Memorial. After visiting the Memorial, we took a short bus tour of downtown Oklahoma City. After the bus tour, we walked around downtown and bit. We saw Toby Keith's restaurant, which has a video screen on the outside that shows clips from Toby's music videos.

About two blocks from Toby Keith's restaurant, we found a paper mache buffalo

Other highlights from the trip:
  • While sitting in the Oklahoma City airport waiting for our plane, we heard the song from Napoleon Dynamite that was in the background when the Helping Hands Club performed early in the movie ("They say love, it is a river...")
  • While we were waiting to be picked up at the airport, Adria and I were standing on the curb outside of the baggage claim, Adria and I were chatting and watching the cars go by. Then Adria says to me, "Look" and she pointed at the gray car to the right which contained 3 guys in Spiderman masks. While this was kind of scary at first, I chased after the car for a little bit and was able to snap this picture of the car on my cell phone. Adria wants everyone to know that this actually happened and that these pictures weren't doctored. Below is a magnification of the car driven by Spiderman:

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Fruit Loop

This past weekend Adria and I decided to go see the Hood River County Fruit Loop. Here are some pictures from the excursion:

On the way to the Fruit Loop, we stopped at Bonneville Dam and we decided to stop by for a spell.
Here is Adria standing next to one of the dam's original turbines.

Here are the fish ladders that allow the migrating fish to get past the dam. Unfortunately we visited the dam after the most of the fish had already swam upstream as the biggest month for fish migration is September. We did see some fish go past the fish ladders which was exciting. We spent quite some time looking for fish at the fish ladders from both the top and from the side view (there is a fish camera that you can view online). The fish ladders also seem to be a popular spot for sea lions to eat the fish. However, those days may be numbered as their is a movement to allow the hunting of a limited number of sea lions in an effort to protect the salmon After looking at the exhibits in the visitor's center we were back on the way.
Driving along the Fruit Loop is really nice because you have wonderful views of Mount Hood. It is nice to see Mount Hood up close because it seems so far away when you see it from downtown Portland. Here are some pictures of Mount Hood that I took:

One of the fruit farms that we stopped at was Rasmussen Farms. This farm had a lot of activities besides just buying apples, pears and whatnot. It had a corn-maze and a place called Pumpkin Funland. Adria enjoyed it so much she begged me to take a bunch of pictures of it:

Here is Adria with the pumpkin Jackson Five

Here is a pumpkin warrior.

Here are some pumpkin children having a sack race

I don't know why Harry Potter is wearing a dress, but there he is.

This two pumpkins are going on a date. What I couldn't get in the shot is that the girl pumpkin's father is sitting in a chair with his dog in the same room as the kiddies.

After leaving Pumkin Funland, we stopped by another farm that had some farm animals. Adria found thought that the three little pigs sleeping were cute:
This same farm had some sheep that you could feed. So we purchased a small bag of feed and Adria started to feed them. The sheep rushed towards her once they realized that she had food. I thought that some of the sheep would get their heads stuck in the fence, especially this sheep with his big horns. It was much different than the times that Adria and I would feed llamas when we lived in Keizer. With the llamas we often would have to throw food at them to coax them to come over.

Here are some pictures of the sheep's feeding frenzy:

On the way home we enjoyed the sunset while listening the the Beaver's victory over the Huskies on the radio. I was pleased that the Beavers put forth a good effort win in Seattle for the 3rd year in a row. I am also pleased to see that Sammie Stroughter starting to be the player that I always knew he could be after I returned 6 punts for touchdowns in a game against Portland State in NCAA Football 2006 last summer (as a side note, Sammie placed 4th in the Heisman voting that year before going pro, losing to Oregon State's freshman quarterback Ron Mexico who would eventually lead Oregon State to a 48-0 record as a starter, 4 National Championships, win 4 Heisman Trophies and shatter every collegiate passing record).

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Greek Festival and Bald Hill

On October 7th, Adria and I went to the Portland Greek Festival along with Adria's mother and Adria's younger brothers Hayden and Ty. Adria's mom wanted to go to find some genealogical information about the grandparent's of Adria's dad (as they were married at the Greek Orthodox church in Portland).
Here are some pictures from the event:

At the Greek Festival to buy anything you need to exchange your U.S. currency for the currency of the Greek Festival. In my hand is a pile of "talents" that we used to buy some Loukoumades, Baklava, and Gyros. I will leave the detailed food reviews to my brother Jeff, but I will say that the food was good and well worth the trek to the east side of Portland.

There was some dancing by youths of Greek descent that we enjoyed while we were eating our food.

After finishing her previous quilt, Adria has found other sewing projects. She has been working on sewing herself a new dress and she has completed a baby blanket for the baby shower of a friend from church. Below is what the blanket looks like. In the picture on the left, Adria is happy because the blanket is so cute and cuddly. In the picture on the right, Adria is sad because she has to give the blanket away.

Being a federal employee, I didn't have to work on Columbus Day. Adria and I went to visit my parents in Corvallis for part of the long weekend. We hiked to the top of Bald Hill with my dad and had a pleasant lunch at the top. We really enjoyed being able to get out of downtown Portland and spend some time in nature. We also enjoyed the view from the top.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mid-Autumn Festival

Adria has finished the quilt that she has been working on. My mom lent us one of her quilting frames which was super helpful. I think that the major influence on this quilt is obvious. Below is a picture of the quilt while it was in construction:

And here is a picture of me using the quilt to keep warm:

Also, the Portland Marathon was last weekend. The finish line (as well as the start) of the marathon was just outside of the run was just outside of our apartment. This was both good and bad. It was interesting to see all the runners walking around in Mylar blankets during the post-run cool down period. So that was the good. The bad thing was that the marathon started at 7am and the registration started about 6am. During registration a race official was on the loudspeaker reminding the entrants where to stand and mentioning that it hasn't rained on the Portland marathon since 1984 (this fact was always met with much cheering from the runners). All of this, mind you, was happening at 6:30am. Needless to say we found it difficult to sleep through.

Recently Adria and I went to the Portland Rose Garden. We managed to get there while many of the roses were still in bloom. Adria wanted to make sure that I shared some of the pictures of the pretty flowers on the blog, so here they are:

Work is going fine. I am just finished up the last week of my stint working on graveyard. After working on graveyard for the past month I have come to the following conclusion: In Utopian societies nobody works graveyard (you could even make the case that in a Utopian society people seldom work, much less work past dark).

Adria has also been busy with work. Besides putting together her agencies annual health fair, Adria also just finished a report titled "Culturally Specific Populations Emergency Communications Project Report". The report was part of a project to create plans to help non-English speakers in the Portland area prepare for emergencies. A large part of the report was the analysis of 500 surveys that members of the Asian community filled out to determine how would be the best methods of distributing information about potential emergencies (i.e. the bird flu), and their current emergency preparedness (i.e. do they have a 72-hour kit). Adria's boss was quite pleased with how the report ended up, which made Adria feel that all of the stress that went into the report was worth it, as this report ended up being twice as long as any report that she wrote in college.