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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

This year, I really wanted to get into the spirit of Halloween. I only do this for all of my international students, of course. So, I decided to put together a really scary costume that I could also wear around campus without making people think I was a freshman. Or lonely. Or a fantasy reader.

So, I turned my hat backwards, put on a polo shirt, jeans, and a fake press badge for Jimmy “Pop” A. Razzo, staff photographer for the National Reporter. I grabbed my new camera, the Canon 40D, set it to high speed burst mode (6.5 frames/second), put a flash on (set to the lowest level for the fastest recycling time and lowest battery consumption), and set out to terrorize the campus.

Ok, mostly, I just terrorized my fellow teachers and a few students. And a random guy dressed as a Lego man.

Seriously.

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s the photographic evidence to prove it (except that my badge is flipped around backwards):

I can’t tell you how many times someone asked me if there was any film in the camera. I’d just shake my head in a reassuring way and say no. Then, when they relaxed a bit, I pointed out that it was digital and unloaded the Canon at them.

At the end of the day, I had over 1200 images, 8 exhausted (rechargeable) AA batteries, and a lot more enemies.

Oh, and a video:

I think many people would agree: definitely a scary costume.

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trees are people, too

I have no words to describe this.

Except maybe awesome, funny, or cool. If those didn’t work, I might try inventive, clever, or even sweet. I suppose I could also say that I dig it, I’m down with that, or, if I’m feeling a bit adventurous, you might hear me say, I’m hip to that. That’s groovy might work. Holy cow, I wish I had done that first is a good candidate as well. If you were a betting person, you could possibly be inclined to put money on Man, I wish I had a few big white balloons and a whole lot of time and stealthiness to play with (the odds are good on that one).

Other than that, I really don’t know what to say.

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One of the apparent benefits of graduating from UCLA is the inevitable Alumni Association newsletter emails. Normally, these aren’t worth the cost of the email (to me), but occasionally, something truly interesting comes across the void.

For example, in the March 2008 volume, there was one story that caught my eye: “‘Hotties’ not so hot when you’re in love.” I clicked through and read the story and found something that was not all together surprising, though extremely insightful.

In this study, the research team at UCLA, working with a team from eHarmony.com, gathered a number of highly-rated pictures from a dating website (so, we’re talking about the ‘hotties’ of the bunch) and a bunch of undergraduates that were in committed relationships. Each of these undergrads was shown a picture of a ‘hottie’ of the opposite sex and asked to look at it for a certain amount of time.

Then, after giving the picture back to the researchers, they were asked to write an essay. One third of the students wrote about anything they wanted (this was the control group), another third wrote about a time that they felt a great amount of love for their partner, and the last wrote about when they were extremely attracted sexually to their partner.

Basically, aside from the control group, they were recalling extreme feelings of either love or lust.

While they were writing, they were told not to think about the hottie, but that, if they did, to simply put a check mark in the margin of their paper.

After the essay, they were asked to recall any details about the hottie that they studied at the beginning.

The results were quite interesting: those students actively recalling moments of love for their partners (remember: love here is not equal to attraction or lust) were 6 times less likely than the control group and 4 times less likely than the lust group to think of the attractive hottie that they had just been told not to think about. Now, I don’t know about you, but if someone tells me not to think about something, that just makes it all the more likely that I will. Don’t believe me? Just think about the last time someone said, “Don’t look now but…” What’s the first thing you did? You looked.

After the essays, when asked to recall details about the hottie, students who wrote about love had a difficult time recalling attractive features of the hottie and typically provided much more general information about the location of the picture or the color of clothing the person was wearing instead of details regarding anything that typically attracts a person’s attention, like their eyes, hair, skin, muscles, cleavage, or the like.

Clearly, lust is not love, and romantic love is not sexual desire. While desire or lust may attract us to a particular person, it is love that prevents us from being drawn somewhere else. Love is, essentially, a blinder that dulls the attractiveness that we perceive in others. It helps us maintain those partnerships that we have formed, the families that we have started.

This has got me to thinking about how many people fall into the trap of infidelity, or who fall out of love with their spouse.

Might there be some application of this study to my life? I’m sure there is.

The one thing that jumped almost immediately to mind is keeping a journal. If we were to record somewhere those things that remind us of the love that we feel for our spouses (be it something they do or say or how they act), we would have a fairly steady reminder of why we have chosen the person we did, keeping those feelings of love fresh and effective in blunting whatever attraction we might have otherwise felt for another. It would be a protective barrier against intrusion into our hearts.

I’m curious: what other ideas do you have? How do you maintain an active remembrance of the love you feel for your partner? Leave your comments and suggestions below; I’d love to hear them.

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I recently found a wonderful set of instructions for new parents that are just fantastic: clear, concise, very difficult to misunderstand. They may also serve as a helpful refresher for seasoned veterans as well. Or as a preview for single folk not even ready to think about settling down.

Heck, just click the link already.

Just one caveat, though: when you read these, just make sure that you’re not drinking anything. Or attending a funeral. Or a disciplinary hearing. Or in a library. Or are around people with violent reactions to laughter.

Does that all count as one caveat?

Whatever…go learn something.

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$9.78

As I was putting my homemade Valentine’s Day gift together for Michelle, I found myself in need of a bar code. I googled it and found one with a link to a website by one Scott Blake, a Bar Code Artist, if you will. His site is a lot of fun. You can make your own personal barcode. Here’s mine:

hello, my barcode is

Apparently, when scanned, my bar code indicates that I am worth a grand total of $9.78.

While on the website, make sure you request your free bar code art postcard (mine’s in the mail).

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…she goes and lets people stick things through our daughter’s ears.

one more step

Actually, it was Chloe that finally asked to have her ears pierced. She and Michelle were out shopping on a mommy-daughter date and found some Hello Kitty earrings that she just couldn’t resist. When Michelle pointed out that she couldn’t wear them because her ears weren’t pierced, she stopped, thought for a second, then asked, “Mom, can I get my ears pierced?”

Michelle just about jumped through the ceiling.

Chloe was very brave. Previously, she hadn’t asked to get her ears pierced, despite the fact that almost all of her little girlfriends’ ears were, because she was afraid that it would hurt too much. Now, with those Hello Kitty earrings in sight, she sat right down and took it. They didn’t even do both her ears at the same time, like they usually do for younger clients–the lady was the only one in the store, so she didn’t have an extra pair of trained hands to do it.

When I asked her afterwards if it hurt, she told me no–she had a better description of it, actually.

It was…surprising.

when i asked her to show me how she felt about getting her ears pierced

On an interesting cultural note, when I told my ESL classes about it on Monday, I did an informal poll of when girls in their home countries got their ears pierced. It seems that most Korean and Chinese girls get their ears pierced in high school, or just after graduating. I believe the same might hold true in Japan, from what I remember of conversations with my Japanese students back in California.

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Watching a Travel Channel show about Disneyland, the voice over mentions that Club 33 is the only place in the park where you can buy alcohol.

Hyrum: We don’t drink alcohol.

Me: Good job, buddy. That’s right.

Hyrum:  Jesus said we don’t drink alcohol because it puts holes in our teeth. That’s why they call it alco-hole.

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