Friday, May 23, 2008

Expansion and Construction, or, Me Questioning BYU-Idaho's thought process

I know it's petty for me to discuss construction, traffic, administration, parking, and every other hot topic issue that happens at this university. Whenever I have these thoughts, I immediately start thinking to myself "Is there really nothing better going on in my life," "What makes me and this situation different from any other university," and "I'm running out of topics if I dip into this bag..."

Well, let me explain the sitch (I've learned that is new lingo for "situation"), and I'll tell you why I'm questioning this decision by BYU-Idaho administration.

1. We are now at about full capacity for the summer semester. We have, in any given semester, about 13,000 students attending school here.

2. On Wednesday, when this really bothered me, Sugar City High School was doing their graduation at the BYU-Idaho Hart Gymnasium. I believe we have a lot of different high schools in the area use our Hart building for graduation, like Madison, Sugar City, Rigby, St. Anthony, etc. The students on campus, plus the howevermany family members of the students graduating = grouchy brandt

3. Even though gas prices are increasing (we are at $3.79/gallon here, cheaper than many cities, but still unreasonable), I could almost bet that there are many more people on the roads, including students driving.

4. With all that as the groundwork, here's what's happened. The University has decided to embark on many construction projects around campus (not including the main construction on the addition to the Student Center and the new Conference Center). This construction has included a large block of parking in front of the girls dormatories (which is now available for parking), large sections of parking along the Clark Building (the testing center and the nursing school), a section in front of the Snow Building (performing arts) and now a random patch in front of the Snow Parking lot (which leads to the library, gym, and performing arts building.

The section in the Snow Parking lot was the one that pushed me over the edge. There is a small 3ftx3ft section in which they are working on. It is roped off. This makes it possible for only one car to enter this parking lot at a time (which is a very busy faculty parking lot, and a very busy intersection). I'm waiting for someone to get killed there (and I'm not trying to be dramatic or funny. I'm being serious).

So what's my sitch? What's my issue? Why am I devoting an entire post to construction?

Because of 14-week semesters, we have a break (now called "summer session") between the middle/end of July and the second week in September. They reserve this for freshman who just graduated, with many 100-200 level classes. Here's my question: Couldn't this have waited?

With 80% (my estimation) leaving for this 6-8 week break, and much less students around, this definatley could have waited. I understand construction schedules, and I understand how, depending on the schedule, the cost could go up. But this must have been a major emergency for this to occur.

Now aside from more and more students driving when it's 70 degrees out in the summer (which totally blows my mind), and with all the construction, I must respectfully disagree with the University's decision.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The RM Homecoming, or the Essence of Preparation

Yesterday at church, we had a Sister RM give her homecoming talk. I know that I have a high standard for talks, and I usually give RM's a pass (seeing as how my homecoming talk left a lot to be desired), but yesterday was...I can't think of a nice enough word to say it...pitiful.

Bless this sister. She went on a mission. I have respect for sisters who go on a mission because they want to go, and they want to serve. I don't have a lot of respect for any missionary (sister or elder) who is "compelled" to go because of social pressures or standards, and I don't have respect for missionaries who go for the wrong reasons. That could be anything from going so their "girlfriend will marry them" to "I couldn't get married." Now while missionaries may not admit this to others, they do have to admit it to themselves. In my humble experience, many times the verbal admission doesn't come, but the admission through their actions and attitudes does show.

But this isn't about missionary work. This is about talks, and preparation, and people who give their homecoming talk and fail to prepare. In my talk, I overprepared. I received emails from my parents that said that the previous two missioanries that gave their homecoming talks were given an average of 45 minutes each. I scrupulously prepared, grabbing President Faust's "What I Want my Son to Know Before he Leaves on a Mission" as well as something my Mission President gave me, "What You Should Take Home from your Mission," which I cannot find a source for. I had stories for every single point, and made sure that I put Christ at the center of those stories.

So what happened on Sunday? I think the sister missionary decided to stand up and tell stories. She might have had a gameplan, but it was very distracting when every story was punctuated by second-guessing and getting off track. It sounded a lot like Marlin in Finding Nemo trying to tell a joke:

I have no problem with stories. As a matter of fact, when it comes to missionary homecomings, I actually prefer it. It helps me to envision my mission, and what I was feeling, as well as inspiring others. Hearing about people embracing Christ and Truth are great testimony builders, and can really set the tone for a great Sunday. But I was kind of embarrassed for her. I think she thought that all she had to do was tell stories and it would be ok.

So what would I recommend to her, if I had the chance to talk?


People want to hear your stories. They do. So sit down, think about what stories you want to tell, and think about what gospel principles you want to encorporate into those stories. Then think about how you want to connect them all.


Make sure you're not telling stories for the sake of telling stories. It makes you sound arrogant and petty ("Look at all the good that I did!!!"). But if you tell stories to show how you learned, if you tell stories to make a point, and if you tell stories with a purpose, you can have a lasting effect. President Monson tells his wonderful stories in a way that you can walk away from it feeling inspired, or feel as though you learned something.

PRACTICE IT OUT (or, if you so please, you could Walk it Out like DJ Unk)

Make sure you know how much information you have, how much time you are expecting, and be flexible enough to know how to improv if you have to. There's nothing worse than sitting through a sacrament meeting that's already over time and the speaker is JUST NOW getting into their swing.

Oh, and by the way Returned Sister Missionary...thank you for your service.

SPAM, or, Why the BCC funtion was invented

A bit of controversy happened on BYU-Idaho campus on Thursday. The College of Business and Communication (CBC), in their good-intentioned yet fatally flawed system, sends out multiple emails throughout the week (and throughout the day) concerning internships, career opportunities, and scholarship information. I don’t pay much attention to these emails because of the frequency they are sent out as well as the lack of information they contain (I should write an email about that…).

When I woke up on Thursday, I checked my school email as usual for class cancellations or other important notices. I’m probably one of the few that actually checks it on a regular basis. I noticed that my inbox was filled with about 10-15 new email messages. As I read (and read and read and read) I noticed that the CBC sent out an email about internships, and instead of using the BCC function, the employee accidently made everybody’s email viewable. This meant that the biggest college department on campus, the CBC, with approximately 2,727 students (and yes, I did just do a quick-count through that email list).

But that’s not the best part! The best part is the students, using the wonderful “Reply to All” function, and using it as their personal soap box.

For example:

“That’s one long list of emails”

(Thank you Captain Obvious)

“If you forward this to ten of your friends, you will find good fortune tomorrow,
but if you forward this to a million random email addresses- you might get translated...yay!”

(Only in Mormon Culture would this be sent out)

“i'm fixing to buy a used washer and dryer and sell a 2nd block contract. Anyone? anyone? oh, and i got an old Econ 111 and 112 book they won't take back. Any takers?”

(I love college students. Any platform to buy what they need or sell what they don’t need, they use)

“Enough people, it isn't a joke, some idiot just hit 'reply to all' instead of 'reply'. Okay? Enough sending this email around to everyone. This stupid email chain ends now.”

(Yup, way to stand up for the right thing…except for the fact that you directly contradicted yourself. Way to be the bigger man dude).

After agreeing with above email

“PS. just a quick shout out to (Name withheld to protect the idiot)...i saw you on campus yesterday morning!”

Then there’s the guy soliciting his idea for a sports league in Rexburg…but that’s not the best one…

“So funny, these people goofing off and then some other people like... outraged. Blame the person who was dumb enough to include all these e-mail addresses in a mass e-mail. Anyway, if anyone's looking for a handsome 22 year old young man from Boston, send me a text at (Number withheld to protect the idiot). I wonder if my phone would explode if you all sent me texts today.


(Welcome to Desperatesville…population – too many to count)

My goodness, is this is what we’ve become? I’m sure it isn’t any different from any other campus, but I just laugh at the hypocricy of spamming and saying “QUIT SENDING ME EMAILS! YOU’RE SPAMMING!”

Here’s to actually having something interesting to read in the Scroll today.

brandt’s hate-item of the day:

Having a lesser-known hymn in sacrament meeting that people have really never heard, yet not having the courtesy to play the full song once as an introduction. I’m all for playing the lesser-known hymns, but unless you want people mumbling the hymn throughout the entire song, you have to give a longer introduction so dopes like me can think they know it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Plz dnt h8 my skillz, or, Why Text Messaging is Ruining Us

I admit, I am a texter. I only have about four or five people that I do text, but it happens. Now I'm not textually savvy (yes, I just made up that word), nor do I spend more time texting than talking. But I guess if I had to, I could get by with just texting.

As a m@r of fact, Iv lrnD 2rite a bit n txt lingo. Iv gotten btr @ it as tym hs gon on.
(thanks to the wonderful text-message translator at, I was able to translate "As a matter of fact, I've learned 2rite a bit in text lingo. I've gotten better at it as time has gone on." Don't ask me how that translates. I seriously have no clue.)

Yet something happened today at the reading center that made me wonder if the age of AIM, MSN, Chatrooms, SMS text messaging, people cranking out love notes on their Sidekick and people cranking out novels on their BlackBerry has gotten a bit out of control.

A girl came into the reading center today for her writing class. She talked with a tutor about her note taking methods, especially how she plans out her papers. As he looked (according to him), it was written entirely in text-lingo.

"Please" was spelled "plz."
"Hate" was spelled "h8."
"Later" was spelled "L8er"
Something that was intended to be humorous was exclimated with a "LOL"
and like such as the Iraq etc etc.

Does anyone else see issues with this? I know that the common cry right now of "Microsoft Word is destroying our childrens ability to spell" (which I do not submit to), but I think that this is the issue we should be looking at.

Perhaps in my older age I've become more of a stickler for spelling, but I've never been a bad speller. Heck, I can remember being 14 years old, sending my dad an email at work asking him a question, and being verbally embarrassed because he ripped my email apart. My spelling wasn't correct, my grammar wasn't very good, and like such as etc etc. For some reason, I never forgot that. It always stuck with me. Probably because I never wanted to feel self-conscious about emailing him ever again, but still, it stuck with me.

Call me an email elitist. I'm OK with that. Actually, now that I've had a chance to be in business and professional situations which entail email correspondance, I'm actually suprised sometimes at, forgive me for being blunt, but how stupid people can sound.

So let's get back to the issue at hand...text talk...txt such as the Iraq...whatever you want to call it. While she was using it for her notes, it makes me worried. I don't take notes by hand if I don't have to. I've noticed that I can take notes a lot faster by typing. I've been doing it long enough where I know how to indent correctly, and I have MS Word translate my shorthand into real words. But when I look at my notes later, they would not only make sense to me, but to others around me. And I will go out on a limb, and say that while note-taking shouldn't be full sentences and ready to turn in, but it should be readable. I'm a tutor. I work with this all day.

The big picture: This isn't a pandemic, epidemic, or plague, like such as the Iraq South Africa the Bubonic plague or measels. But it does give me cause for concern. Like hip-hop lingo has taken the United States by storm (in the worst way possible), I'm worried about that with text lingo. Like, such as, the Iraq, South Africa (I think it's getting funnier the more I reference it).

Stop it. Stop texting and sounding like a fool. Put REAL words together, not gobbly-gook. I shouldn't need to go to a text-language translator to decypher what you are typing. And when 2020 comes, and we wonder why we have gone back to cave-man grunts and pointing, you just remember that I said that this would happen.

US Americans (like there'd be any others?) like such as the Iraq South Africa

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lost Episode 11 - Cabin Fever

I finally remembered to watch LOST this week, and what a good week to tune in on! Thoughts and impressions from the very start, plus the top 5 questions from this weeks episode.

- Locke's biological mom getting hit by a car to start the episode. I wish I could have just had a bump on my head instead of getting messed up like I did. Interesting side note: Notice that Locke's father was never mentioned by name, only "him." Perhaps a player to be named later?

- Birth of John Locke, and a very direct reference to Luke 1:63

63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.

I know there's been a lot of talk about the influence of Hinduism and the Dalai Lama in this season of LOST, but I wonder if there's some very-much Christian influence. John, as in, the one to pave the way for The One? Makes you wonder if theres some pieces that can be matched there.

- I am starting to love the interaction between Locke, Ben, and Hurley. Locke as the confused leader, Ben as the defeated consigliere, and Hurley as the comic relief.

- Keamy is freaky. And when I say freaky, I mean totally awesome. Cold, calculated, and heartless, he's a perfect fit for the Whitmore team.

- Horrace - I don't know what to think of that scene. Especially the bloody nose. But the interaction was obviously meaningful. Almost like a computer program. It reminded me of the scientist in the movie I, Robot, with Will Smith. He could only ask certian questions, and the scientist could only answer in a certian way. It was only until he asked the RIGHT questions was he able to get his answers.

- First spottage of Richard. Score: Richard 1, Abaddon 0

- Second spottage of Richard - the items at the house. Richard 2, Abaddon 0. This was confusing until I read more about this series of events, especially with relation to the Dalai Lama. There were a lot of references to a 1997 movie call Kundun by Martin Scorsese.
Except for brief sequences in China proper and India, the film is set in Tibet. It begins with the search for the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. Following a vision by Reting Rinpoche (the regent of Tibet) several lamas disguised as servants discover the location of a promising candidate: a child born to a poor herding family near the Chinese border.

These and other lamas administer a test to the child in which he must select from various objects the ones that belonged to the previous Dalai Lama. The child passes the test; he and his family are brought to Lhasa, where he will be installed as Dalai Lama when he comes of age.

Interesting, is it not? Notice this interaction between Richard and Locke.

Richard: "I want you to look at these things...and think about 'em. Okay, now tell me, John, which of these things belong to you?"
John: "To--to keep?"
Richard: "No, no, John. Which of these things belong to you already?"

Do you see some correlation? Because I do!

- Apparently, Ben wasn't always the Leader of the Others. Richard? Horrace?

- Keamy grabs the secondary protocol, and apparently is going to torch the island. Keamy says that Ben knows about the secondary protocol, and "there's only one place he can go." Wasn't Danielle, Alex, and Karl heading off to the temple? Is that the one place?

- Another interesting interaction between the three Amigos. Locke tells Hurley he can go back to the beach, but Hugo wants to stick around. Then Ben says something that really caught my ear.

BEN: He actually thinks staying was his idea. Not bad, John. Not bad at all.
LOCKE: I'm not you.
BEN: You're certainly not.


- Richard trying to get young-Locke (who definitely gets the sympathy vote for getting shoved in a locker and beat up) to go to a science camp. Richard 3, Abaddon 0. And then Locke says his ever-famous line, "Don't tell me what I can't do!" I find that this is a theme of Locke's life - doing things that people tell him he can't do. Yet what is his purpose on the Island?

- I like Lapidus. A lot. I think he's different, and has some sympathy for the survivors. Almost as if he went to the Island with a different motivation than Farraday or Collette or Miles. And his empathy to Michael will be interesting to see how it plays out.

- Desmond sticks around on the boat because he's been on the island for 3 years, and is waiting for his Penny. I can handle the Desmond/Penny love story. Jack and Kate are starting to get on my nerves though.

- Best line of the night. HURLEY: Guys, cabin.

- "Those things had to happen. Because destiny, John, is a fickle bitch" Are we starting to see Ben lose his faith? Jealousy because John is visiting with Jacob more than him? Are we going to see a power struggle between the two (which kind of already happened in Season 3)? Calculating Ben and confused John = great TV

- First appearance of Abaddon. I love this guy. I also can't help but feel for John whenever I see him in a wheelchair. It's interesting how much they can have the wheelchair portray such an enemy and torture device for John. And I totally thought that Abaddon was going to push Locke down the stairs as well. Even Locke had that look in his eyes.

- The "walkabout." Apparently its a "journey of self-discovery." You walk in the Australian outback nothing but a knife and your wits. Abaddon's last line was interesting:

ABADDON: When you're ready, Mr. Locke... (presses button) you'll listen to what I'm saying. And then when you and me run into each other again... you'll owe me one.

When Locke is ready? It's put out as an ultimatum. Also, not "if you and me run into each other," but "when you and me run into each other." So if Abaddon's got some insight to the future, it's another definite. "You'll owe me one..." eerie...

- The last scene with Omar getting the morse code message that the Doc washed up on shore with his throat slit. So it sounds like we're looking at this episode running concurrently with last week. Yet if that dude WAS the could he be in both places? TIME TRAVEL?

- Finally, the SAT phone drop. At first I thought "Lapidus wants them to know where Keamy's team is." Jack, impulsively, states that they must follow them. Now I'm not 100% sure, but I wonder if Jack's impulses have done the Losties good or bad. As I think about it more, with Jack knowing where Keamy's team is, plus knowing the terrain of the island better, could work out for the best.

I'd give it a 9.0/10. One of the best for the season so far. There was much more mental stuff than action, and I think once the DVDs come out, a lot of questions will be answered.


LOSTPEDIA Cabin Fever Analysis

Kulturblog's Cabin Fever Analysis

Mormon Mommy Wars Cabin Fever Analysis

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

BYU-Idaho's Honor Code, or, Beating a Dead Horse

Many know about BYU-Idaho's honor code. It is strict, much moreso than our siblings at BYU-Provo. We aren't allowed to wear shorts, wear flip-flops, have facial hair, wear hats on campus, etc.

But I don't want to provide a full discourse on the Honor code. It's not beating a dead horse. It's beating it, burning it, beating the ashes, and then re-burning the ashes. Let's let the poor horse have some dignity and leave it alone!

I read the newspaper here on campus for 3 reasons.

1. I read the police blotter. Nothing better than reading about someone drilling a hole in a watermelon, pumping it full of fireworks, and exploding it in an apartment complex parking lot. I was privleged to be a part of that aftermath, and it made last summer very interesting.

2. I read the opinion pieces. While they leave much to be desired, they also leave themselves wide open to mockery. There's nothing more important going on in the world to develop an opinion on than the benefits of Super Walmart? Obviously the opinions are thoroughly sanitized for our protection (and the protection of the University), but getting people talking isn't always a bad idea. I could go on and on about it, but...

3. I read for the letters to the editor. I've debated on multiple occasions about writing a letter, but have never gotten aroudn to it. I really think that the letters to the editor and the opinion pieces tell who we are on campus.

So what's the point? In yesterday's edition of the paper, there was a letter to the editor about the honor code. It discussed how we have an honor code, how there was almost a double-standard (some teachers enforce it, some don't), and this quote.

We are all adults who (for the most part) have bee raised with a great Mormon background and but can neither dress ourselves nor apply the honor code.

As a convert, this is very troubling, and a topic which needs to be looked into. We all need to stop looking for shortcuts and just live the honor code.

I hope I'm not the only one who sees some flaws in this. Here's what I think...

Numero uno - LEAVE THE POOR HORSE ALONE! There will be people you encounter, people you meet, who don't follow those same standards that you have. Give it a rest.

Numero Dos (I'm trying to be more cultural because I saw someone from Saudi Arabia stumbled upon my blog...but I don't it Arabic?) - There's more to life than the honor code. What about the opinions on a 14-week semester? Or the amount of construction on campus (Parking is another beaten dead horse). What about politics, or things that the politicians are saying? The possible expansion of BYU-Idaho as a university? Choose something interesting to talk about!

Numero Tres - There is no reason to bring up your religion in every single aspect of your life. Go to NYC and complain that the Naked Cowboy (who I desire greatly to meet) isn't following an honor code. Religion is brought up way to much around here. I don't think bringing religion up is a bad thing, but I think people around here get way too uptight about anything relating to their religion. Believe me, it's a privledge, but honestly? Seriously? Is that all you do is complain?

But then, there I am, the Monday morning quarterback, calling the shots as to how I think the University newspaper should be. If I did have my say, President Kim Clark would probably cringe every time I opened my mouth.

That's why I write here. I can get away with all that stuff

Friday, May 2, 2008

My Top 5 Favorite Youtube Videos

Like everyone else, I love Youtube videos. Ashley and I have literally spent hours going from video to video (Wikipedia is just as bad). Here are my "Top 5" favorite Youtube videos.

*NOTE* This isn't my favorite Youtube music videos - this is just the random and funny videos I've found. The favorite Youtube videos will be later.

Number 5 - Conrad playing Guitar Hero

My brother introduced me to Guitar Hero on Thanksgiving break of 2007. We were bored, and he gave it to us as a boredom buster. Needless to say, Ash and I both got hooked, and out entire Thanksgiving was spent playing guitar hero for 4, 5, 6 hours per day. I found this video, and he has become my personal hero. Like or dislike the song, don't hate the player.

Number 4 - Rusty the Narcoleptic Dog
This was found quite randomly. Ash and I have always grown up with dogs. We go through phases where I want a dog and she is the rational one, and then there are times when she wants a dog and I am the rational one. Puppy videos became almost a nightly regime for us, and we actually stumbled upon this video a few nights ago. Enter Rusty, the narcoleptic dog.

Here is the same video, with added effects, to added hilarity.

Number 3 - Thank You U.S. Army
Perhaps I was on my mission in Korea, but I was just shown this on Wednesday. Put out by Anheiser Busch, I was actually quite surprised that my BYU-Idaho teacher showed this Youtube video. I found it to be quite emotional, and wish it would happen more in our airports.

Number 2 - Girl running on Treadmill
I think that high school girls, when in multiples of 2 or more, lose intelligence. A girl tries to get on a treadmill while it's already working. Wipe out ensues. Enjoy.

Number 1 - Kick his Ask
Probably the funniest little girl on the internet, she's been on the Ellen show and many others, and suprisingly she's very articulate. Safe for work, unless you're drinking a soda and spit it on the keyboard and monitor from laughing.

These are my top 5 funniest, at least for now. With as many people putting stuff on Youtube, this will probably change within the week.

Honorable Mention

Charlie Bit Me

Star Wars According to a 3-year old

Dramatic Prairey Dog

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Arches National Park

Permit me a bit of a personal indulgence, but this is Ashley, myself, and her family at Arches National Park.

70 degrees, but hotter than blazes, we hiked all up and down the trails! There's 153 photos in this slideshow, so click through or go to Arches National Park Picasa to pick and choose which photos you want to see.