Thursday, September 30, 2010

Body parts

Haven taken human anatomy, I have learned a whole bunch of impractical information. Here are some great terms I learned: 

Caruncle: This is the little red thingy in the corner of your eye. It contains oil and sweat glands.

Philtrum: This is the little cleft or groove that connects your upper lip to your nose
Patrick:  Just kidding, this isn't the technical term. But it is the term used by my TA's to teach me the pons, medulla oblangata, and cerebral and cerebellar peduncles in the brain. Because it looks like Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants. Can you see him?
 Well, this is actually a terrible picture. But imagine Patrick being upside down where the pons and medulla are (with his belly being the pons) and his invisible arms reaching back to the cerebellum. I think you have to see it in real life to appreciate it.

Don't gamble

I came across a gambling simulator and tried to win the Mega Million Lottery. It didn't work. The simulator had me play 1040 times (which is the equivalent of twice a week for 10 years) at one dollar a bet, costing me $1,040 to play. How much did I win? Only $64. Sad day.

Try it out yourself. Don't gamble. It doesn't work.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cloth diapers

Katie and I recently switched from using disposable diapers for Olivia to reusable diapers. I used to think that using cloth diapers was better for the environment, but that was until I wrote this a couple of months ago. Cloth diapers actually leave a larger carbon footprint than disposable diapers. I guess we can see that washing machines and dryers are worse for the environment than filling landfills with disposable diapers.

So we're switching purely for monetary reasons. I kind of feel like a bad guy from Captain Planet, wearing a monocle and stroking my cat and laughing while a forest gets cut down. However, we just got a drying rack to use in place of a dryer. So maybe I'm at the level of an eco-villain who wears a monocle and strokes a cat while laughing over a piece of litter on the ground.

100 days

If you look at that little blue box on the right hand side of my blog, it says that I have 100 days left to post. Whoo hoo! There is a light at the end of the tunnel! I thought I would take this time to thank you, loyal readers, for reading and following this blog. I hope you enjoy the next 99 days.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lux et Veritas

This is Latin for "light and truth." It is also the motto for the Southern College of Optometry. It also just so happens to be the motto for Yale University. And I'm pretty sure that Yale copied SCO...

So you know what else is interesting? "Light and truth" in Hebrew is אורים ותמי, which is "urim and thummim." This is actually on Yale's coat of arms.

Anyway, that was your random fact of the day. And I was accepted at SCO this week. Woo hoo! I'm still interviewing at other schools, but SCO looks pretty promising because they're not going to make me take biochemistry.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gut Sliding

Have you ever looked at a caterpillar crawling? They kind of look like waves, with the caterpillar moving its back legs first and then the rest of its body following. But this isn't true. I read an article about this in Smithsonian magazine. Some scientists at Tufts University used x-rays to look at hawkmoth caterpillars while they crawl. The actually throw their insides forward, and then the rest of the caterpillar follows. They call this mechanism "gut sliding." It's pretty interesting.

Pococurante Dawn

Last week I was in the airport in the early early morning. The sun hadn't even risen yet. I sat by the big window looking over the landing and takeoff strip and each minute the sky got a little bit lighter.There was a woman standing in front of the big window looking intently at the spot where the sun would rise at any moment. A minute passed by. Five minutes. Ten minutes. She was still standing there, waiting to see the sun peak over the horizon. Finally, the top edge of the sun poked up and brilliant sunlight immediately flooded the entire terminal. It was actually pretty impressive. I quickly looked over at the woman who had been standing there for such a long time to see what her reaction would be.

This is what she said:


And then she walked away.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Curing rat cancer

I was talking last week with a guy that I work with in the Stake offices. He's a Ph.D. student and is doing a lot of research with an adviser. He was telling me about a project he is working on now where ultrasound is used in connection with a bunch of other things to shrink tumors in rats. I thought this was cool because I was familiar with this project. The poster describing the experiment was right across the hallway from the entrance to the cadaver lab.

The most interesting thng he told me is that researchers are now really good at curing cancer in rats. The problem is that rats are different from people. The same techniques used to cure rat cancer doesn't work exactly the same way as curing people cancer. This is pretty unfortunate, but there isn't much you can do about it. Doing tests on humans is unethical, but it would be the fastest way to find a cure. It's a problem that we all have to deal with.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I've noticed that some people here in Utah say "heighth" instead of "height." I think it may be an extension of the pattern set by width, breadth, and length, but I'm pretty sure that saying "heighth" is incorrect. I looked it up in the dictionary and way back in the day it used to be acceptable to use, but that was hundreds of years ago. For that matter, spelling it as hight used to be correct. But I don't think people who say heighth are referring to the Old English word when they add the voiceless dental fricative.

Speaking of voiceless dental fricatives, did you know that of the 60 languages with over 10 million speakers, only 5 languages use the "th" sound? Those languages are English, Arabic, Castilian Spanish (i.e. Spanish spoken in Spain), Burmese, and Greek. Some other lesser-known languages that use the voiceless dental fricative (isn't that so much fun to say?) are Fox, Shark Bay, Welayta, and Emiliano-Romagnolo.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Library Student Advisory Council

Last week I got an email saying that the library here at BYU is looking for new members to be part of the LSAC, so I wrote up a little paragraph with ideas that I had for potential changes that could be made. The LSAC's role is to come up with great ideas that could change the library and make it a better place. Things that have come from this council are the Music Study Area on the second floor, the Snack Zone, and other cool things. I was invited to be on this council, so we'll meet weekly to brainstorm and present our ideas to the Library Administration. Pretty cool! Here are some of the ideas that I came up with:
  • An entrance/exit on the south side of the library
  • The possibility to physically browse the audio books and movies in the LRC
  • Playing the Tuesday Devotional over the loudspeaker in the Music Study Area or another designated area so that students can study and listen at the same time
  • Having vending machines in the Snack Zone

Monday, September 20, 2010

Glasses for lazy people

I love Sky Mall magazine. I think it's my favorite thing about flying. I actually took a copy of the magazine on my flight home from Memphis yesterday. The lady sitting next to me looked at me kind of funny, but I didn't care. This priceless magazine has now provided me with a plethora of wonderful writing material.

Here's an ad that I enjoyed a lot:
Can you guess what it's for? Yes, they're prism glasses so you can lay down and read at the same time! The glasses "turn the page to a 90 degree angle right before your eyes, eliminating the need for head movement." 

Thank goodness -- I sure hate head movement. I wish Sky Mall would invent a robotic neck brace to turn my head for me. Click here to read more about the Deluxe Prism Glasses.

Wild Fire

I drove back and forth from the airport a couple of times today. I arrived home from Memphis at about 2 PM and then Katie & Olivia's flight got in about 9 PM. On my way home the second time, Katie told me that the pilot on her flight told them about a fire. As we reached Point of the Mountain we could see it off in the distance. It looked really cool, but also scary.  I was telling her about techniques used to control fires, like cutting down trees in front of it to prevent it from spreading or burning certain parts of the forest to the fire can't continue to grow. Katie was telling me about that part in Little House on the Prairie where they all had to run in the field to put out their fire. We got closer and closer until we hit Draper. At that point we could see flames and smoke and the path the fire had taken.

Here's what was just barely posted on KSL:

Video Courtesy of

Saturday, September 18, 2010

This is the truth

If I move to the South, I will gain 45 pounds within a month. I've had pork shoulder, dry rub ribs, beef brisket, cheesecake, and ice cream all within a day. And that's not including breakfast and lunch.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dry Rub

One word: wonderful.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yawning linked to empathy

Have you ever seen someone yawn and then you get the urge yourself to yawn? Even reading the word "yawn" makes you yawn sometimes. Nobody is exactly sure why we yawn, but a study has been done to show that empathetic people are more likely to yawn than non-empathetic people. I think this is kind of interesting. I especially like the method they used to test this. A person from the study would sit near someone else and would yawn ten times within ten minutes and count how many times the other person yawned. Then they took that person and they did an empathy test consisting of looking at eyes and recognizing the emotions shown. People who score higher on the empathy test were shown to yawn more. Maybe a yawn is your body's way of saying "Hey, I feel you, man. You're tired, so I must be tired, too." Or something like that.

I especially love that this study broke the results down by majors. Engineering students are terrible at empathy and yawning. If you yawn in front of an engineering student, their first thought wouldn't be "Oh wow, they must be tired. I wonder if I can help them out in some way?" I think it would be something like "Hmm...that is the fourth time that person has yawned in 5.4 minutes. And the angle of the mouth's opening is 48 degrees. And I count 8 wrinkles in the corner of their eye's when they squint to yawn."

On the other hand, psychology students did very well. I would love to go to a psychology class and yawn in front of everyone. You would probably hear a giant garble of yawns for the next ten minutes.

Very very late

It's very late. Too late to really think. And I'm planning on getting up again in three hours. Hopefully it won't feel like three hours when the alarm goes off. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Double rainbow

All I can say is this: "What does this mean?"

A sad, incredible, and altruistic story

If you have read Into Thin Air, you already know this story. It's about Rob Hall, a mountaineer who climbed Mt. Everest many times. In 1996 he made his last climb. He was the expedition leader for that climb and actually made it to the summit, which is an incredibly amazing feat on its own. On the way down, a terrible storm struck the mountain. He could have been perfectly fine, but he left the camp in the middle of the storm to try to rescue his fellow climbers. The problem was that the people he tried to rescue were already dead from hypothermia. He was stuck in the middle of a freezing, terrible blizzard. Incredibly, Rob Hall found the bodies of those he was looking for, but it was too late for them. He realized that it would be near impossible for him to find his way back. He radioed back to camp and told them his predicament. The camp patched his radio signal through a satellite signal all the way to Australia to speak with his pregnant wife. Can you imagine that? A man talking on the radio from the top of Mt. Everest all the way to his wife in Australia. And his wife was due in 2 months. After their heart-wrenching conversation, Rob Hall huddled into the snow to slow down the loss of heat. He unhooked the metal spikes from his shoes to prevent any more heat loss. And then he waited to die. That night was one of the worst storms recorded on Mt. Everest. His body was found a few days later by the crew that filmed the Everest IMAX movie.

The thing I keep thinking about is that Rob Hall didn't have to die. He chose to go out in the storm because he wanted to rescue his friends.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


We had Stake Conference this morning. It was shown live to 17 stakes in the Marriott Center and then broadcast to over 160 stakes in the Utah Valley. I didn't get to watch much of it, though--I was out in the hall with Olivia most of the time. But earlier this morning they had a Stake Priesthood Leadership meeting and I got to watch that one baby-free.

A bishop in our stake gave a really interesting talk about being patient and not judging others. He told a funny true story to illustrate his point, and I thought I would share that with you:

A few years ago there was a young woman waiting in the airport to catch her flight. She went over to one of those Kiosks and bought a paperback book and a bag of cookies to pass the time. She sat down in her terminal and waited for her flight to be called. She started reading her book and took a cookie out of the bag. All of the sudden, the man sitting next to her reached over and took a cookie, too. She was flustered and a little angry, but she didn't want to make a scene. A few minutes later, she took another cookie ... and the man took another cookie. Every time she reached for the cookie bag between them, the man reached for a cookie, too. She was getting very angry and losing her patience, but said nothing. Finally they were down to the last cookie. What would the man do once she reached for her last cookie? She didn't have to wonder very long though, because before she could take it the man reached out and broke the cookie in half and ate one of the halves. She was furious. How dare he! She stood up and left the area, fuming.

Once on her flight, she rummaged around her bag to look for her headphones or something, and there was her bag of cookies. Unopened. She realized that she had been eating his bag of cookies that whole time! And to think that she was so angry with him. And the man even shared his last cookie with her! She wanted to go back and apologize to the man, but it was too late. He will never know why this strange lady sat next to him and started eating his cookies. I guess the moral of the story is to never be to quick to pass judgment on people. Maybe you're the one that needs some correction.

Anyway, I thought that would be a good Sunday appropo thought.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Make my monster grow!

A few months ago Katie got me an awesome present. It was a little cheetah in a cage that grows when you add water.

I'm too lazy to rotate the picture. And if you look real close at the package, you can see that they used photographs of real bears so show how much the grow. Anyway, I set it up and I totally felt like Rita Repulsa from Power Rangers.


Now my cheetah has grown full size.

It may just decide to attack the scarecrow. Or you. Better watch out. Also, it grew way more than the bears. On the other hand, it is slowly disintegrating.

Songs only at Stake Dances

There are songs that you only hear at stake dances. You never hear these anywhere else. And they've been played for years. These songs are pretty dumb, yet they play them every single time. These songs include Cotton-Eyed Joe and the Cha Cha Slide. The Cha Cha Slide is the one that says "slide to the right, slide to the left, everybody clap your hands!" And then you clap for 3 minutes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Pious Graham Cracker

Olivia is obsessed with graham crackers. She wants them all the time. It got me thinking about graham crackers themselves. What's a "graham"? Is it a person or a plant or what?

It turns out that it's a person. Reverend Sylvester Graham was the inventor of the graham cracker back in 1829. It was part of his healthy food diet. His big thing was that the food you ate dictated the "carnal urges" you experienced. The graham cracker, with it's coarse flour and wheat bran and germ, was bland enough to curb anyone's sexual appetite. I thought it would be a great idea for singles ward bishops to have a box of these sitting on their desks.

Unfortunately, graham crackers today are made of refined, bleached white flour, a fact that Barbara Mikkelson said in this article that "would have sent Sylvester Graham spinning in his grave--he regarded refined flour as one of the world's great dietary evils."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Carbonated Blood

I'm finishing up my really great book that I got myself for my birthday about the physiological effects of extreme environments on the body. I just finished the chapter about diving, and the author goes into detail about what actually happens to your body when you get "the bends." You get the bends when you're scuba diving and you ascend too quickly. The air that you have been breathing in your tank is really pressurized and and your blood becomes very full of nitrogen. This typically isn't a problem, except when you rise too quickly and the nitrogen separates from the blood and forms bubbles.

Basically, it's like you're a soda can, and when you go deep under water it's like you have been shook up a lot and are under a lot of pressure. If you open the can too quickly (a.k.a. ascend out of deep water too quickly) bubbles will actually form in your blood and every other fluid in your body. Your body doesn't know how to handle bubbles--it has never encountered them before. You blood starts to clot because it thinks you've been cut. You're blood vessels constrict because, hey, maybe that'll help. Bubbles form in the liquid in your joints and causes immense pain. People who get the bends try to flex and bend all their joints to relieve the pain (hence the name). Sometimes the bubbles cause permanent hearing loss and blindness. Sometimes it causes paralysis by bubbles forming in the fluid in the spinal cord. Sometimes it causes death by bubbles blocking certain pathways in the brain.

I guess what I think is fascinating about this is not how bubbles affect the body, but how something so simple as nitrogen bubbles can bypass they body's amazing and intricate defense system. This is a relatively new condition, one that humankind has brought upon itself. The only true cause is the human desire to push the natural limits and go to places that the human body can't handle.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Upside-down outlets

Have you ever wondered why some outlets are upside-down? It's because they're supposed to be installed that way. Most outlets are actually installed incorrectly. They're not supposed to look like little faces. Why? Because the small hole that is the "mouth" if the little face is the ground wire, and it's much safer to have that on the top. If the other two things were on top and the outer plate slid down and touched the hot and neutral wires, the circuit would short and you would have a problem.

Also, you might notice that when you plug in something that has the third prong, like a vacuum cleaner, it feels like you have to turn the plug upside down to get it in the outlet. This is why. I think electricians and owners alike enjoy looking at the faces of outlets, so I doubt this practice will change anytime soon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Expensive Burp Cloth

This is what my wedding suit has become since Olivia has developed both a cold and an affinity toward graham crackers. She chews the soggy mess with her mouth open and "blows kisses" toward my sleeve, all the while laughing and hiccuping and drooling all over her new dress.

Needless to say, she got a bath tonight. And I'll be heading to the dry cleaners in the near future.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sleeping in

Olivia freaked out last night for a few hours. We're not sure why. We think it may have something to do with Olivia eating a lot of cake and ice cream right before her bedtime on last night. She woke up at 1:00 and was very sad until about 3:30. No amount of holding, coaxing, or walking would calm her down. Then she got up at 7:00 and wanted to eat breakfast. I got up with her and fed her oatsies. Then I went back to bed, and got up at 11:30. It has been months since I've slept in that late. It makes me feel super groggy. It felt like waking up to someone pulling duct tape off of my eyelids. I didn't feel that rested, even though I slept for eight hours. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Week long experiments

I've been thinking about this blog and things I've done in the past and came to the realization that a year is a really long time. I was thinking about what I wanted to do for next year and had trouble committing to some new project for an entire year. So I thought I could try some experiments or set goals for myself and then write about them here. There are two reasons why I kind of want to do this. Number one: it will give me more things to write about. Number two: I like the feeling of accomplishing hard things. I got the idea for this after listening to The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs. It was funny/interesting because he did this sort of thing for a month at a time. His projects included doing everything his wife told him to do, being completely and brutally truthful at all times, outsourcing his life to Indian assistants, and other weird things that came to his mind. I don't think my ideas would be that extreme and I don't think I could do things for a month at. Here are some ideas that I have come up with:
  • subsisting on a liquid diet
  • never saying "no"if someone asks me to do something
  • become a perfectly overachieving student (reading each assignment twice, emailing questions to my professors, taking copious amounts of notes, etc.)
  • write a poem a day
  • no music for a week
  • do "x" amount of push-ups of run "x" amount of miles per day
  • meditate for an hour a day
  • not using any contractions in speech and written word
  • no internet
Any other ideas? I think there should be some limits, such as: it shouldn't hinder my school work or job, it shouldn't annoy Katie (too much), and it should be something that I would find fascinating. So this could be something that you might see in weeks to come. Or this might be just a passing phase that will never come to fruition.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Call before you dig

I'm taking a lot more Construction Management classes this semester due to my need to graduate. I realized that I have over 170 credits now.  BYU just changed it's policy a few weeks so that it makes it very difficult to change your major once you have over 90 credits. Thank goodness I did all my switching a few years ago instead of now or else I would be stuck with Physics or Industrial Design.

Anyway, I'm taking a lot more Construction Management classes and in one of them we were talking about the importance of calling ahead before starting to excavate for a construction site to check where the pipes and wires are and stuff. Some pretty serious mistakes can happen if you don't double check. For instance, there was one excavating crew who was a little behind and started excavating before getting someone to double check where the gas line was before they started digging. They just went off of the as-built plans, which should be accurate. But this time they weren't. They hit a gas line and caused an enormous explosion. Everyone one the crew died. The people living in neighboring homes died. Buildings within 100 feet of the explosion where just gone. Everything was burnt to a crisp. The worst part is that it could have been completely preventable.

Another serious mistake is what happens if you accidentally cut a phone line? That can be very expensive to replace. However, what is more expensive are the fines. People aren't able to call 911 on a cut phone line. You can actually be fined $1,000,000 per minute if you cut a line. One million dollars! Per minute! That's crazy! But it's a good deterrent. Excavators are very, very cautious now.

I guess you can convince everyone to do something if you charge a million dollars a minute. Speeding tickets? Just charge a million dollars for every mile per hour you go over the limit. Littering? Million dollars for every ounce of trash. Jaywalking? Million dollars per every illegal, offending footstep. You could fund an entire city by just issuing fines one day a year.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How Pencils Are Made

Have you ever wondered how they get the lead inside of a pencil? Well, wonder no longer! Image and text from this awesome website.

"The picture [...] illustrates the steps involved in the manufacture of a wood pencil.
It starts with a block of cedar (1) which is then cut into slats (2).
The slats are then stained (3) and grooves are cut into one surface (4).
Prepared leads are placed into the grooves (5) and a second slat is placed on top and bonded with the first (6).
This 'pencil sandwich' is then passed through a milling process (7) to separate the individual pencils (8).
The pencil is painted and finished (9 & 10), a ferrule crimped onto the end (11), and finally, an eraser is crimped into the ferrule (12)."