Thursday, May 30, 2013

Life and video games

Life is like a video game. You know you're making progress cause it gets harder. And you can handle that because you've leveled up since the beginning. The increased difficulty makes things more complicated, but also more interesting. If things never got harder, we'd never learn or grow at all. We need the challenges we face. You always level up most after the hardest bosses, after all. Totally a metaphor for real life.

However, in real life, you can't go around smashing random objects expecting to find money. And you just can't jump off a really high cliff into bubbling lava and expect to experience no lasting damage. Wouldn't it be nice if there were save points in real life, where you could go back and redo a level however many times you wanted? Though that might get old after a while. All in all, I think I'd rather stay in real life, but I think video games are a fun break. I've enjoyed Portal 1 and 2, Lego Star Wars, Fire Emblem, Zelda (Windwaker, Ocharina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword), and Ratchet and Clank. I should note that I haven't played through any of these by myself. I used to just watch my brother play and give tactical advice (and it was good advice!) but a couple years ago some of my friends taught me to play Portal 2. Fun stuff.

This is not how my brother and I play together. We're actually quite good friends. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Things that bring me happiness

Over the last little while, I've been figuring out what kinds of things I need to do to feel good physically, emotionally and spiritually. I guess that "last little while" could really be my whole life, but anyway, I thought I'd share some of the things that help me feel happy and healthy. There's nothing new or revolutionary here; I'm just listing some things that have become important to me.

Getting enough sleep is a must. I can tell when I'm short on sleep because my head hurts and everything is suddenly irritating, even things I normally wouldn't be bothered by. If I let myself get really sleep deprived, I end up with a really bad headache and a stomachache. It helps if I go to bed early-ish and get up early-ish because sleeping till noon really isn't as restful for me. I get better sleep when it's dark outside. That makes working 9 pm to 1 am kind of tough, but I really love my job. As long as I get to sleep when I get home, I usually do pretty well.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The right music for the right occasion

As I was coming home from ward prayer this past Sunday, I was listening to my Vivaldi 4 Seasons CD (my favorite for Sundays and on the way to the temple) and I thought how nice music is when you're driving alone. Then I thought that it's really important to pick the right music for the right time. Like, it'd be really bad to have a nice, relaxing arrangement of Pachelbel's Canon in D when you're driving late at night. That's the time to listen to some good classic rock or some upbeat fiddle music. I usually don't like listening to anything with a really strong beat (Linkin' Park, for example) at any time, but it really gives me a headache when I'm trying to drive. I guess my philosophy on driving music is closely related to exercise music. It's gotta be something to keep you going, but it can't be anything too crazy. Then, for writing, you need something that can be good background music. Usually, that means I pick songs I know already and I keep the volume lower than for exercising or driving.

Here's some of the music on my playlist:
Fireflies (Owl City)
American Pie (Don McClean)
Lucky (Jason Mraz and Colbie Callait)
Only the Good Die Young (Billy Joel)
Leaving on a Jet Plane (Peter, Paul and Mary)
Be OK (Ingrid Michaelson)
Carry on, My Wayward Son (Kansas)
Some Nights (Fun)
Mr. Blue Sky (Electric Light Orchestra)
Ode to a Superhero (Weird Al)
Wavin' Flag (K'naan)
Still Alive (GlaDos)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Choosing happiness

"Wouldn’t it be easy if we were choosing between visiting teaching or robbing a bank? Instead, our choices are often more subtle. We must choose between many worthy options. . . . The one thing that is needful is to choose eternal life. We choose daily." Bonnie D. Parkin (Ensign, Nov 2003)
There are so many choices we need to make in life. Some choices are important, some are trivial. The important choices are choices between drawing closer to God or drifting farther away. The prophet Lehi teaches in The Book of Mormon that we must choose between eternal life and eternal death (see 2 Nephi 2:25, 28). We must also choose between happiness and unhappiness. Even though the distinction between the two choices is clear, we usually don't get one single defining moment where we sit down at a table with two cards on it and pick up the one labeled "HAPPINESS". We don't get it over with that quickly or that easily. Choosing happiness is something we have to do daily. It's in the small and simple choices that we find happiness or unhappiness. Like the choice to spend time helping a friend, or reading scriptures, or doing family history research, or going to church to learn more about God, or going on a walk and feeling grateful for the beautiful earth God gave us, or doing any of hundreds of small things that will make us happy. God wants us to be happy, but He lets us choose whether to accept happiness. We are free to choose. 

Choosing happiness and choosing God are one and the same thing. I know He loves us and that He will help us find happiness if we so choose. 
I am a happy person because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I know He lives, I know the gospel is true, and I know that growing
closer to God will make us happier than anything else in the world. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013


yeah, that's totally me...
link to original page
When I went off to college, I never imagined myself working as a custodian. However, that was the job I found in Winter semester of my senior year. I guess it's one of those crazy random happenstances that I like to call spiritual detours. I was grateful to have a job and now I’ll always be grateful for my time as a recycling specialist. It helped me learn how to work and how to keep myself entertained while working. From four to seven every afternoon, I wheeled my recycling cart through almost all the hallways in the JKB and the Talmage. The most interesting things I usually saw were the comics posted on the professors’ doors. Still, I enjoyed myself.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Walking through a foreign city

At the end of my stay in Alcala de Henares, I walked across the city by myself. At four o'clock a.m. It was a beautiful, quiet city, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. I was there on a study abroad and it was my very last day in the country. As I walked from the flat where I'd spent the last 7 weeks towards the main square, I saw no one. Not a shop was open. The fountains and the lights played with the shadows. I met my friends by the statue of Cervantes, then we wandered out of the city to watch the sun rise.
We came back to the square around seven in the morning and I caught a bus back to the flat. I'd packed my things up around one a.m., so I only had to eat breakfast, shower and catch the train. My roommate helped me haul my 2 suitcases to the train station. I boarded my train with the suitcases and my backpack and sat down. Then, I realized I didn't have my cell phone. Not willing to go home without it, I ran the blocks back to the flat (suitcases in tow) and called up to our dueƱa. She let me in and I dashed up the stairs, grabbed my phone from the drawer where it had sat the last seven months, re-said my goodbyes, and flew back to the station, still hauling my suitcases by myself. I caught the next train just in time. That wasn't the end of the adventure, though. When one of my suitcases rolled away from me, a nice Romanian guy rolled it back to me and we struck up a conversation. I think he was concerned that I was going to get lost and miss my plane, but I knew where to get off the train and catch the metro. I said goodbye at Nuevos Ministerios and caught the metro that would take me to Barajas airport. Despite the cellphone incident and only two hours of sleep, I got there in plenty of time to check in and board my plane. I arrived in Salt Lake City on schedule.


Monday, May 6, 2013


I read a Prickly City comic about starting a book the other day. It was amusing and made me think about the difficulties of writing.

I used to think starting a book would be the hard part. But I've got a plethora of beginnings floating around. Middles and endings are tough. I'm in process of writing a book. I've started it twice and have gone back to the drawing board both times. I'm still not sure how it will turn out, but I think I've figured out a few details about characters and setting and such. Now I just have to keep writing...

Here's a few sketches I did of the characters from one of my books-in-progress.
Eventually their story will be told. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013


I just reread an entry from the last portion of my mission. It was a difficult time for me and my companion because my comp was facing a serious challenge. As I was thinking about it and reflecting on difficult times I'd faced during my mission and life up to that point, I wrote the following. While transcribing it, I've made a few grammar/stylistic updates but I haven't changed the content of the excerpt I've chosen to share. This entry was written December 14, 2012.

I call these moments "spiritual detours." A detour is something we hadn't planned, but that the highway engineers put in place to lead us around dangerous places, and it often involves cool scenic routes that we'd otherwise never have seen. And they do get us where we need to go, just not by the route we'd planned to take. When we come across a detour sign on the highway, it's important to follow it. And God puts "detours" in our lives to help us learn or experience things we didn't plan on. Like my mission. And my new goal to be an author. Things I couldn't possibly have foreseen but which have been so much better for me than what I had in mind. 

I believe that God has a plan for each of His children. I know that He loves us and even when things don't work out right away the way we wanted them to, everything will still be more than okay in the end. We are here on earth to have joy, and we will if we do our best to stay close to God. I am thankful that I've kept a journal throughout my life. Looking back at the past and how well things have worked out so far, despite my worst fears, helps me be optimistic about the future. I know I can trust God to help me through whatever comes next, because I've seen Him do it so many times already. Normally, I wouldn't share part of my journal on the internet, but I've chosen to do so this time because I feel this is something all of us need to know. God is there. He has a plan. We can trust Him. And we can believe in good things to come.