Friday, December 20, 2013

A Last Look at My Time in China (video)

I made a course of videos documenting my stay while in China, but I never compiled the last of my footage, so here it is!

I've been back for four months already, but it seems like forever; almost as though my time in China were just a dream. I greatly miss the cute Chinese couple I lived with and my fellow coworkers at the company I worked for.

With my fellow employees at Micro Benefits, the company I interned at in Suzhou, China.

Monday, December 2, 2013

20 Things I'm Thankful For

This entry could be as a long as a book, so I'm going to limit myself to 20. Also, OBVIOUSLY my faith (being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and my family are things I'm grateful for, but this list will be full of more obscure things.


1. The opportunities I am blessed with
Gosh, where do I begin?  Time and time again it seems an incredible opportunity is knocking at my door.  NEVER do I simply jump on these opportunities since they tend to be pretty major and life changing, but boy have they made life interesting.

2. A healthy and functioning body
I went through a time where I couldn't walk AND I only had use of one arm.  After my big snowboard accident of 2009, I've had surgery on both knees and my shoulder, giving me a minute taste of what it might be to not have use of some limbs.  I regularly say prayers of gratitude for being able to use my arms, legs, eyes, and ears.  I also have vocal chords that work and a healthy body in general.  I am incredibly grateful for that.
Snowboard crash of 09'. I had three surgeries after this.
I'm so glad my friend thought to take this picture.
3. Music
Too much to say here.  Music is my greatest outlet of my emotions whether it be through listening to a song or writing one myself.
4. Friendships
"Friends make life more fun." -me.  Everybody loves friends.  Sometimes the only thing that gets me through a looooong day at work/school is the thought of going out with some friends at night.  I love my friends so much.  They put up with me :)
5. Algorithms
From Inverse-kinematics, to ray tracers, to sequencing DNA, to playing around with reducing NP-complete problems.  I am astounded and utterly fascinated with the properties found in attempting to solve or emulate natural phenomena. I am grateful for the "difficult" nature of solving many problems (cracking passwords) because they literally keep us safe. I have a MUCH greater appreciation now of the human brain and the human body in general because of my understanding (albeit very elementary) of algorithms.

If you had to travel to a bunch of cities, and only go to a city one time, and end up where you started, could you find out which path would yield the shortest possible distance traveled without exhaustively searching every single possible path? You can't.  In fact, if you have more than 30 cities in the path your computer couldn't either.
6. Dogs
I LOVE dogs!!!  I especially love Miniature Italian Greyhounds.  I even made a YouTube video about my cute doggy dog Rykar.  Feel free to watch it here. After I graduate and get my own place I'm totally getting two Miniature Italian Greyhound puppies :)  
Me, Comet (left) and Savvy (right).  They're my sister's dogs and I love them so much! 
My cute pup Rykar!  I miss him so much! He's
currently living with my other sister, so I
only see him on holiday's and such.
7. Chinese People
When I say I love China what I mean is, I love the people of China. Sure, we have our cultural differences, but I have so much fun with them.  They are so loving towards me just because I speak their language.  I'll take it.  More friends!
August, 2013, Nanning China.  I was best man at a
good friend's wedding.

8. Kelly Clarkson
She somehow read all of my journals and decided to write all of her songs as being from my perspective.  Her voice is absolutely stunning.  She is the most down to earth singer out there. Her songs so accurately capture even my most crazy of emotions. I love her.

Some of my favorites of Kelly's songs include:

9. Gay Mormons that share my values
Who else is there for me? Who else can invest as much time and effort into a friendship than these people?  I love them so much.

(Many of my LDS gay friends are in the closet, so no picture :) )

10. The United States
From the nice paint on our roads that people actually obey to my freedoms.  The streets and sidewalks are clean! We have laws protecting small things like noise pollution, or ensuring that urinals aren't visible from outside the bathroom when the door is open.  So many small things that I never even thought about until I had lived outside the US. I love being an American.
11. Sushi
It never lets me down on a bad day. I'm a VIP at Happy Sumo.

12. YouTube
I started making movies using video editing software when I was 13. Because I started using such software near the beginning of their lifetime's, I've never had to sit down and "learn" the software.  Rather, as it has evolved, I have evolved with it, adding to my brain the new features released with every version. YouTube allows me to use this skill set I've developed over a long time and continue creating movies to easily share with the masses.  I came out on YouTube, and boy did I come OUT. I've never been happier.

13. Running
A time to think. A time to plan. A time to contemplate. A time to exercise. Free therapy anyone?

If you don't run but know you should, just know that if you begin running, the first 3-4 weeks will probably suck.  Push through!!!  You'll love it soon enough and it's so worth it!

14. Big Cities
I thrive being alone in a city I've never been in before. I love the fast pace, the ability to go anywhere, and meeting new people. The opportunities are many in big cities, and I am grateful for that.

15. Instructors/Teachers/Mentors/Coaches
My mission taught me how to study, so now I can pick up a book and go.  But my professors here at BYU have demonstrated that no book can ever substitute a stellar instructor. I especially feel indebted to my music instructors who've taught me to love all different aspects of music ranging from notation, theory, production, and performance.  Thank you Mr. Earl, Mrs. Minor, and Mr. Everton.

16. Laws of Physics
You have a string on a guitar/piano/whatever.  Strum it, and it makes a noise.  Cut the string in half and the noise it makes goes up one octave.  These mathematical properties allow us to make instruments that aren't shaped like a Dr. Seuss poggle horn.  Now take the sounds they make.  They pass through the air, which is possible because of the air's natural properties.  Then, with out being distorted or skewed in pitch, dynamics, etc. (in contrast, there is no sound in space), our ears receive the sound waves. Our ears take this sound in and not only register it as sound, but can distinguish tempos, pitches, and dynamics to the point of being emotionally affected. Incredible.

17. Cherished Memories
They keep me going sometimes. They also give me hope that I will again experience certain feelings I've felt at a prior time.
18. Zoos/Aquariums
I love animals. I wish I could spend more time with them.  Ducks are my favorite animal, but I'm not sure why.  I just....really like them. One time I went to the zoo all by myself, and it was awesome.  There's a new aquarium opening this month in Draper Utah and I'm so excited!

19. Clear Skies
Utah occasionally has its bad inversions , but even at those times the air is considered clear when compared to the air in China. Whenever I walk out my front door in the morning on a particularly clear day I take a moment to enjoy it.

20. An Eternal Perspective
I know I said I wasn't going to include religious aspects in this list, but my eternal perspective IS my reason for living. It helps me deal with death, trials of all kinds, and basically all of the unanswered questions, and they are many. I'm not happy with ignorance. If I have a question, I search for an answer. Sometimes I feel like I don't need to pursue the answer to a certain question, but I only find that out after asking it.


I don't enjoy eating all that much. Thanksgiving usually means starving yourself all morning, eating a normal lunch, and then everyone watching football which I couldn't care less about. Basically, I don't like celebrating Thanksgiving.

This year I was like, no. I decided to visit my sister in California for Thanksgiving! It was really fun! We ran a race in downtown Los Angeles, ate at Mimi's Cafe, and then I spent a day at Disneyland all by myself, which was actually really fun. Best Thanksgiving ever :)

Before the race. We asked some random person to
take a picture of us and email it to me.
After the race.

Eating Thanksgiving lunch at Mimi's Cafe.It's
funny, they called our name just as we started taking
these. It put some smiles on some faces.

It rained on me and so I bought a poncho.