The copy machine is out of order

March 5, 2010

For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, I’m posting this here.

I’m pretty sure this copy machine is out of order. Nowhere in sight, as a matter of fact.

Unless that recycle bin is supposed to do it. Magically.

How do I get to the Humanities reference desk? Anyone?


No, Blackboard will not substitute for your lack of friends

January 27, 2010

Not three hours after reading this article in the Daily Universe–condemning the practice of using Blackboard to spam your classmates in hopes of prevailing upon them to email you the notes you didn’t take three days ago because you decided to sleep in instead of go to class–(deep breath)–I received the following email from a classmate in a large general education class:

Hey everyone, I was absent from Music class on Friday January 22. If someone could send me their notes from that day, that would be awesome!

And so on and so forth.

Whoops! Looks like someone didn’t read the paper this morning. The article was on the front page, for crying out loud! Above the fold!

Or maybe he or she just never learned plain old internet etiquette from his or her mother. (Speaking of etiquette, these “politically correct” constructions are, shall I say, quite cumbersome. I digress…)

(I might add that normally I would attribute the above quote to its proud, rightful author. But in favor of preserving his or her anonymity, I forgo that practice here.)

But wait! It gets better. An hour after catching wind of said taboo email, the astute professor of said music class sends the following stern rebuke to the class:

I always assume this is a no-brainer, but I guess I’ll have to spell it out for those of you who are guilty of this behavior.

It is not appropriate use of Blackboard to e-mail the entire class asking for notes because you missed class.

If you miss class, you are more than welcome to ask your friends who are in the class for some help. If you have no friends in the class, please make some. But do not e-mail the entire class asking for notes. It is inconsiderate and annoying to those who attend each day and are actually doing the work.

No, Blackboard will not substitute for your lack of friends.

And no, you may not use it to mooch notes off strangers because you chose not to come to class.

That’s my favorite thing favorite pet peeve about these freshman classes. They’re huge. And everybody and their dog emails everybody else (and their dogs) for notes. And frankly, hardly anyone ever responds to them.

Cuz it’s just that annoying.

Art of possibility

January 5, 2010

Last night we had a Concert Choir “Family Home Evening” with our illustrious conductor, Sister Hall. She taught an inspiring lesson on a theme that is treated frequently throughout scripture, but which can be hard to understand in its real and practical sense:

For with God nothing shall be impossible
–Luke 1:37

The Art of Possbility


She referred to a book she read long ago that changed her vision on this topic, The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. They postulated that almost everything we do in life is bound to some sort of measurement system. Those measurements could be in terms of money, social standing, popularity, ability, time, or any other such thing. Within the confines of these measurement systems, we’re always striving for “enough.” To have enough money, enough friends, enough time, enough talent. To be enough.

But the ironic thing is that as long as we let ourselves be bound by such a system, we will constantly be laboring in the realm of “not enough.” We never have quite enough, or we never are quite enough. That can be an incredibly discouraging and crippling thing.

Thinking outside the box


The well-known nine-dot puzzle illustrates this very well. When given the challenge of connecting these nine dots with four straight lines connected at their endpoints, many people struggle to find any possible solutions. Indeed, within the imaginary square confines of the nine dots themselves, the puzzle is impossible to solve. Those boundaries, however, were never specified in the original challenge–that is, they were artificially created by the person attempting to solve the puzzle. By removing these superfluous restrictions, the solution becomes possible, as illustrated here.

While none of us will ever quite be able to escape this world of measurement, one thing we certainly can do is create our own reality (or perception of reality, if you prefer). If 97% on a test doesn’t satisfy your parents, you can choose to get discouraged about it and draw those imaginary boundaries to that effect around your nine dots. But you can also decide that 97% is “quite good enough,” as Sister Hall put it, and be happy with it by refusing to confine your nine dots to someone else’s perception of success. While you may still be measured by other people, you have the ability to decide for yourself what kind of a reality you wish to have. Removing those unnecessary boundaries enables you to find greater satisfaction and happiness in your achievement at whatever level.

This comes, however, with a cost. Venturing outside the supposed boundaries makes you vulnerable to failure or ridicule if it turns out you were, after all, incorrect in your assumption. But the important thing to remember is that the greatest rewards come at the cost of the greatest sacrifices, and the more you work toward an end, the more valuable it will be to you after the struggles. Extraordinary people are willing to take those risks in order to (perhaps not without falling a few times first) reach higher levels of achievement than they had ever before imagined.

How you draw those boundaries around your nine dots is really only between you and the Lord, not anyone else if your life. While it may be (and often is) valuable to take advice from your loved ones, you are ultimately the one who must live with the reality you create. And you can choose to make that a happy and fulfilling reality or a confined and crippling one.

Sister Hall’s father gave her some excellent advice when she was struggling with an important life decision, simultaneously laboring under that realm of “not enough.” He said, “Why don’t you stop thinking about what you are not and start concentrating on what you are?” That loving counsel changed her life and made possible the career she now vigorously and successfully pursues.

Pursuing the art of possibility is a worthy, indeed, an essential endeavor if you wish to become an extraordinary person and achieve the levels of success you desire. Allowing others to circumscribe your nine dots only limits you. And while there are risks in casting off those artificial shackles, the rewards of success far outweigh the sacrifices.

Deseret Towers lives on!

November 14, 2009

So. . . I was looking at Google Maps the other day and happened to click on the Street View around Heritage Halls at BYU. And guess what I found? Deseret Towers! They’re still there on the images on Google. Along with the big pile of dirt where the other two towers used to be across the parking lot.

Oh, the memories.

Below is one of these views from Google Maps here. This one if Q Hall seen from the north side. There’s also a view of the Morris Center, U Hall, and the Dirt Pile.

Maybe some time in the future they’ll redo the images and DT will disappear forever from the annals of history that are Google. But for now, it’s a nice bit of nostalgia.

OC Remix in Guardia

November 3, 2009

A friend introduced me to OC Remix quite a while ago, and I recently rediscovered one of the songs I liked. I also downloaded a few others and have been thoroughly enjoying them. I thought I’d post the links for any of you who are fans of remixed video game music. I’ve never actually played any of these games, but the music is pretty sweet. Enjoy!

Below you can listen to “Blue Skies Over Guardia”:

Gabriel’s Oboe–Nella Fantasia

October 24, 2009

Tonight I attended a concert of the Utah Premiere Brass, as part of the annual BYU OcTUBAfest. The concert featured several pieces arranged for tuba or euphonium solo with the accompaniment of the British-style brass band.

The piece I enjoyed the most was titled “Gabriel’s Oboe,” a song written by Ennio Morricone for the film The Mission. The arrangement they performed featured Brenden McQuay on the tuba, playing a transcription of the oboe part. The song was beautifully arranged and featured well the lovely, full brass sound for which UPB is so well-known.

In researching the origin of the song after leaving the concert I discovered a vocal version entitled “Nella Fantasia“. It features a beautiful Italian text which conveys a longing for a world of peace and mutual understanding. The lyrics are so intriguing, both in the Italian and in the English transcription, that I find it fitting to reproduce it here in both languages:

Nella fantasia io vedo un mondo giusto,
Li tutti vivono in pace e in onestà.
Io sogno d’anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano,
Pien’ d’umanità in fondo l’anima.

Nella fantasia io vedo un mondo chiaro,
Li anche la notte è meno oscura.
Io sogno d’anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano,
Pien’ d’umanità.

Nella fantasia esiste un vento caldo,
Che soffia sulle città, come amico.
Io sogno d’anime che sono sempre libere,
Come le nuvole che volano,
Pien’ d’umanità in fondo l’anima.

In my fantasy I see a just world,
Where everyone lives in peace and in honesty.
I dream of spirits that are always free,
Like the clouds that fly,
Full of humanity in the depths of the spirit.

In my fantasy I see a bright world,
Where each night there is less darkness.
I dream of spirits that are always free,
Like the clouds that fly,
Full of humanity.

In my fantasy exists a warm wind,
That breathes into the city, like a friend.
I dream of spirits that are always free,
Like the clouds that fly,
Full of humanity in the depths of the spirit.

Below is a recording of Paul Potts singing Nella Fantasia:

Lean on My Ample Arm

October 17, 2009

This hymn text by Theodore E. Curtis from the 1985 LDS hymnal has grown in significance for me over the last few days, as I have personally witnessed the “ample arm” of the Lord extended to me.

Lean on My Ample Arm

Lean on my ample arm,
O thou depressed!
And I will bid the storm
Cease in thy breast.
Whate’er thy lot may be
On life’s complaining sea,
If thou wilt come to me,
Thou shalt have rest.

Lift up thy tearful eyes,
Sad heart, to me;
I am the sacrifice
Offered for thee.
In me thy pain shall cease,
In me is thy release,
In me thou shalt have peace

–Theodore E. Curtis

The storm in the breast, the depression, the difficulties of one’s lot on life’s complaining sea–all these can be soothed by the Savior’s rest as we come to Him in humility. After all, Christ is the One who could and did take upon Himself our sins and infirmities (see Alma 7:11-13).

In Christ we can have peace, both in the storms of this life and in the eternities.