Saturday, January 29, 2011

Darmok and Chile at Tanagra

I have written some nerdy posts in my time, but this very well might take the cake.

For a while now I've thought about Chilean Spanish and how it's so hard for me to understand. A big reason for this is all of the sayings they use. I mean, it's like insanely impossible to catch what they're saying sometimes, ¿cachai?

It often reminds me of this episode of Star Trek where the aliens du jour speak to each other in metaphors and sayings making the universal translator practically useless until, of course, Picard deciphers the metaphors.

Yes, this is what Chilean Spanish has reminded me of for years and years.
Me and Chilean Spanish = Shaka, when the walls fell.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I was just thinking about how the first cassette tape I ever owned was Control by Janet Jackson. I loved that tape (and still own it). My parents bought it for me after they saw me singing along with the music at the Grammys or something. I think I was eight.

Do you remember what yours was? Just curious.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Overheard at the BYU

"...he always left the house with his hair done, he was dressed nice, he was friendly to everyone. We all thought he was gay. But really he wasn't; he was just a nice guy."


Thursday, January 13, 2011

So worth it...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Subtitled: The Distressing Problem of Not Knowing Where One Word Stops and Another Begins 

Double Subtitled: Oh, Vanessa...Dear?...Just Keep Your Mouth Closed When You're Not Sure What The Nice Lady Just Said

So Anna-Lisa and I went to Santiago, Chile one weekend while we were on study abroad in Brazil. While we were there we thought it would be great to go to the Santiago Temple. As we were waiting to do sealings, one of the cute temple workers came over to talk to us, I was nearer to her and she approached me first.

At this point, I need to make an aside: I don't always get in Spanish where one word ends and another begins. Usually I'm just fine, no worries. But Chilean Spanish? Talk about a doozy. Oh, and the esses at the ends of words that they sometimes don't say? Lo gato instead of los gatos...
OK, back to the story.
The sister walks up to us and says usted-es-hermana... then pauses. Now I'm stuck in a quandary, do I respond to what may be a question or is she just gathering her thought? What do I do? What to say?

Another aside: She could have been saying ¿Usted es Hermana...? i.e. asking me, "You are Sister...?" asking me my last name for the sealings. Or she could have been saying "Ustedes hermana..." meaning "You sisters..." leaving off that all important final -s on hermanas.
BLERG!! What do I do? Do I respond with my last name? Do I wait for a bit? Oh no, oh no, she's still standing there, I think she wants my last name. Is she just gathering her thoughts? No, she wants my last name!


I blurted out my last name with a wonderfully smack-on Brazilian accent.
No, she was just saying "Ustedes hermanas..." (You sisters...)
How on earth is a Chilean temple worker going to understand that I'd just said my Anglicized Swedish last name with a Brazilian accent when that's not what she wanted at all?

She looked gobsmacked. ("Maybe this American has mental issues? Perhaps the one who looks more stable will understand me? [calling down blessings of the gift of tongues] Please let the other one understand, please, please... Oh! Phew! She's normal and understands me...")

Alright, I'm not sure that's what when on in her mind. But I'd lay a bet on it.

The sweet hermana walks away after saying her piece, Anna-Lisa practically falls over from laughing.
Periodically now my friends will just explode with a


sigh...why, oh why, Chileans don't you say those final esses?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2 Tim 1:7

I've been thinking a lot about 2 Timothy 1:7 lately. And by lately, I guess mean for eleven years.

I thought about titling this post The Ethics of Fear. Fear should never be the reason for a certain action. For a while I thought that if I was afraid of something, I should just do it because not doing something out of fear was irrational. Later I realized that doing something just because I was afraid of it was just as irrational. Fear simply shouldn't play a role in the decision. Fear as a motivator will never lead to lasting success in an endeavor.

Maybe the reason why this scripture seems so particularly salient presently is because of all of the fear-as-a-motivator blather that we've been hearing for the last few years. It's nothing new, but this tactic goes in waves. I'm sick of it. I change the channel. I ignore people when they talk like this. People win in the short run sometimes with these tactics, but the long-term effects are detrimental. Fear, simply, is not of God. Decisions based on fear cannot lead you closer to Him. Choices made based on fear will not give you greater knowledge and you certainly won't be able to tap into pure truth.

Two short videos, one from 1964 and the other from 1987 prove this point.

LBJ's ad that he ran only once before the 1964 presidential election:

The next video is President Reagan speaking at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987.

LBJ won the election, but it fed into fear and it certainly didn't help the feeling of the country at the time. Pres Reagan's speaks of the good that will happen and it gave us hope for a better future.

I wish we all could help to tamp down on the people spewing fear and lies out there. We would be better off as a society if we would push back against the fear, of this I'm sure.

My goal now is, if I feel fear, to take a step back and figure out why I'm afraid, try to put it aside and think about what I need to do. I'm aiming for peace, love and a sound mind.

There, I'm done bloviating again.
Oh, and as a facetious side note, if I were a football player, I would so put 2 Tim 1:7 on my eye black.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Different Trains

Just one more post for today, I promise.

Steve Reich did a project called Different Trains. He collected and interspersed interviews from people about and sounds of the trains from different points in our history. The first piece of the three is titled America -- Before the War (meaning WWII).

The second movement incorporates phrases from Holocaust survivors. Obviously it is the most haunting of the three. Listen to how the notes on the instruments mirror the tones of the voices. The piece is titled Europe -- During the War (wow. what an amazing production of that piece.)   The sounds are imitating the trains that carried the Jews to the death camps. At four minutes you can see and hear how the strings are nearly dead ringers for train horns.

The final of the three, appropriately named After the War, is reminiscent of a world trying to regain normalcy. You can still hear the sorrow from the second movement. The first movement was so effulgent with its upbeat sounds of future possibilities. I think the third movement is trying to bring that hope back, but its tempered with what we know from the horrifying second movement. But there are those hints of budding industrialization at the end, i.e. prosperity.

And if you've stuck with me this long, thru two Steve Reich posts, you just might be as crazy as I am.

Piano Phase

I find Steve Reich to be a fascinating composer. I don't know how to fully describe Piano Phase. It's harmonious and cacophonous, sometimes at the same time. How does he pull that off? It's usually performed by two pianists. I mean, it makes sense that it would be right?

Then you stumble onto crazy talented pianists like Peter Aidu.

I love it.

And, for good marching-band, pit-playing measure, here's Reich's Six Marimbas. Wow.

And for those of you who like The Gipsy Kings, here's some Clapping Music.

Friday, January 7, 2011

WIMotW: Edict 1's Supporting Evidence

Just saw this on The Onion's highly reputable news page:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Things That Just Shouldn't Be

It should not be 21 degrees warmer in Nome, Alaska than it is in Spanish Fork right now.

Also, lima beans. Those shouldn't exist either.