Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Interpreting and Translating

Tonight after work, I had the wonderful pleasure of going to the BYU Interpretation and Translation Club for the first time. And yes, it was most definitely a pleasure. There wasn't too much format to the meeting, though. In fact, there was completely no format to the meeting. Basically, each attendee sat at a computer with huge, padded earphones on his (or her) head and practiced interpreting past general conference talks. There was only three of us in attendance tonight and each spoke a different language, but it was a lot of fun (I speak Chinese). I will most assuredly plan on going again in future weeks.

So, what did I learn while practicing interpreting? Let me tell you.
  1. It is not easy, by any means.
  2. Interpreting in Chinese is 100 times harder than interpreting in other languages. (This is because I can barely read the language much less read it at the same pace that the speaker is going.)
  3. It's going to take a whole lot of practice.
  4. Start speaking about 3 seconds after the speaker starts. Try to keep that distance throughout.
So yeah, those are the hints of the day (and the only hints that I got from the president of the club). If you've got any more feel free to share.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

People Like Marshall

By looking at the title of the post and at the same time knowing that I am an economics major, you may suppose that I am about to write about famed economist Alfred Marshall. But, although what I have read of Alfred Marshall is quite admirable, this is not the topic of my post. I'm writing about a guy named Marshall.

Friday as I was sitting down eating lunch and reading The Daily Universe (the BYU student newspaper), another student sat down at the table with me. This quite normal, seeing as the number of students wanting to eat is much larger than the number of tables provided to eat at (which, you may recall, is an issue of supply and demand). Most students that sit down next to each other at these tables don't say much, however. They pull out their lunch, lay out their newspapers, textbooks, or whatever, and stay within their own world. I, in most cases, am one of these people.

However, as Marshall sat down across from me at the table, he said something. In fact, he asked something. He asked, "What's your name?" I responded with Eric, and as most people in this situation would have done, I inquired of his name. His name was Marshall. What proceeded was a very enjoyable conversation. It wasn't an unusual conversation, though. In fact, I suppose it is like most conversations that occur between two students meeting each other for the first time. He asked about each others' majors, about our missions (this might be uncommon at schools besides BYU), and so forth.

So, you may ask, why am I writing about this? Well, simply because it impressed me. As I mentioned above, I am not the type of guy who usually talks to people across from me, but I learned from Marshall that I want to be one of those guys. You know, the guy that is just friendly. The kind of guy who cares about people other than those he already knows. By me saying this, please don't take my words to say that people who remain silent at tables aren't these type of people. This is just a little trait that I want to add to my character. I learned so much talking to Marshall. I learned a little about PD Biology. I learned about Thailand and how it has the largest alphabet of any language. It was great!

So, let's set a goal. Let's say "hi" to those people sitting across from us. Let's get to know them. There's sure to be something that they can teach you, so why not find out? Go ahead, go for it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween with the Prophet

I have to admit, Halloween has never been a holiday I look forward too (at least for as long as I can remember). I'm pretty sure it started when I was a kid in elementary school. My teachers would devote a whole day to Halloween, including turning off the lights, shining a flashlight in their faces, and telling scary ghost/monster/zombie stories. I never did like those stories. Reason number 1: they gave me nightmares. And, come on, nobody likes nightmares.

This Halloween, however, has possibly been my best Halloween yet. "Why?" you may ask. Well, for one President Gordon B. Hinckley came and spoke at the BYU devotional today. Knowing that he was coming, I and about 1,500 other eager students, lined up before 9:oo am in order to get a good seat. And, in case any of you out there think Halloween is an evil holiday, President Hinckley was wearing a decorative pumpkin tie which he gladly showed off.

The words President Hinckley spoke, however, were just amazing. It was different in structure, though. He shared a series of events and experiences that he has had throughout his life. Some of them were short. Some of them were funny. Some were very moving.

He shared a poem that I especially liked. It is written by Rosemary Benet and is about Nancy Hanks, mother of Abraham Lincoln.

If Nancy Hanks
Came back as a ghost,
Seeking news
Of what she loved most,
She'd ask first
"Where's my son?
What's happened to Abe?
What's he done?"

"Poor little Abe,
Left all alone
Except for Tom,
Who's a rolling stone;
He was only nine
The year I died.
I remember still
How hard he cried."

"Scraping along
In a little shack,
With hardly a shirt
To cover his back,
And a prairie wind
To blow him down,
Or pinching times
If he went to town."

"You wouldn't know
About my son?
Did he grow tall?
Did he have fun?
Did he learn to read?
Did he get to town?
Do you know his name?
Did he get on?"

I took notes, but they wouldn't make much sense to you if I wrote them down. I strongly encourage you to read his talk from the BYU website, though.

Now, the second thing that I did today was attend a party. That's right, I went to a party. And I was dressed up. My roommates and I all dressed up as an 80's big hair band. I have to say I didn't particularly enjoy the wig, but it felt kind of nice being a little spontaneous. And, after today, I decided Halloween might not be so bad a holiday after all. (I'm sure my future kids will be eternally thankful that I came to this conclusion.)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A New Found Hobby

Hopefully this won't end up being a blog totally filled with food that I've made, but I've got to add this one. The experiment today was sweet and sour chicken over rice. And, oh was it good! It took two hours to prepare and made a whole lot more than I expected, but luckily I've got good roommates who are willing to share the burden of eating. But this is no joke, this sweet and sour chicken tasted like the real stuff. It's a keeper recipe.

Cooking is fun. I've always enjoyed cooking, you could say, but for the most part I'm usually too lazy to cook stuff myself. But, something has changed. Part of it could be due to my roommates who themselves cook quite often, but I think the largest factor in my sudden spark of interest is the fact that eating Chinese food for the past two years made me really miss it when I came back to America and didn't have any Chinese food. Of course the streets are lines with Chinese buffets, but so far the one's I've been to just aren't the same. So I'm on an escapade to find the best Chinese recipes. I'm willing to try just about anything.

I just have one hope, though. My future wife better like Chinese food, because she is going to get a whole lot of it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Winter flakes!

The snow is coming down in Provo! Walking to school this morning at 7:40 am (I still don't have a bike with good tires) it was surprisingly warm. However, as I came out of economics class an hour later the weather had dropped drastically. An hour later, coming out of biology, the snow had started. And it continued all day long, falling in large wet flakes. In fact, it's starting to stick now that it is night.

At first I was not looking forward to snow at all. The main reason for this is that I dislike cold weather. But, today, being in snow for the first time in two and half years, I changed my mind. Snow isn't so bad after all. I think I'd still prefer not to have it, but if I had to choose between snow and rain, I'd choose snow. You can walk through it without being miserable, it doesn't feel as cold when it hits your face, and you don't have to wipe your glasses off with your wet shirt every five seconds. So, snow isn't so bad. But I'd still prefer warm or hot weather with no rain or snow.

In addition to snow coming down today, I have other good news. I am officially a non-open major! I have proof to show it too. This afternoon I declared economics as my major, and I'll be doubling it with a chinese major, although I'm not declaring that quite yet. In any case, it feels great to have a major. I'm no longer one of the undecided. I have direction! That's not to say that I have any idea of what I want to do after graduation, but at lease I have direction.

And, lastly, but certainly not leastly, Kimberly got home from her mission today! Talking to her on the phone was a joy, although I think right now she is a lot like I was when I got back from my mission. Totally clueless at what to say or talk about or do. But, nevertheless, welcome home Kimberly!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Let's hear it for optimism!

Alright, so today didn't start out quite how I would have liked it to. As usual I woke up at 6:00 am, took a shower, read the New Testament for half an hour, and ate breakfast (a nice bowl of discounted Lucky Charms). That was when it started getting unnormal. Upon finishing my breakfast, I reached in my cupboard for my bread to make a sandwich for lunch, only to find that my loaf of newly bought bread was full of ants. Needless to say, I tossed it in the garbage and settled on bringing a bag of grapes for lunch and buying something else from the Cougareat on campus. That was a disappointment, to say the least, considering that I am pretty frugal when it comes to spending money, and food court meals are not my favorite thing to spend money on. However, I shrugged my shoulders and continued on my way.

Our trash can was now full since I just threw a loaf of bread in it, so on my way out to my bike I decided to toss it in the dumpster. I had a few things in my hand along with the trash bag, including my bike helmet, my gloves (it was a cold morning), and my bag of grapes. I put the trash in the dumpster and headed back to my bike, putting my helmet on while I was still walking. It was only then I realized that my gloves weren't in my hands. The thought came to me that I probably tossed them in the dumpster along with the garbage. But, the dumpster was pretty deep, my gloves were pretty old and cheap, and I was eager to get to school, so I continued on my way to my bike with bare hands. I was at least thankful that I had a bike to get me to school so that I didn't have to walk. However, that was soon to change too. I unlocked my bike, mounted it, and rode about five feet when I realized that my back tire was completely flat. Upon examination I found a rather large pin in the tire. Well, I had to get to class, so I hurried and locked my bike back up and resulted to walking to school. And that was my unusual morning. Ants in bread, gloves in dumpster, and flat tire on bike.

So, now your wondering what is so optimistic about all of this? Well, back in tenth grade I took an art class. For some reason or another, my art teacher nominated me for the Texas Optimist Award. I had no idea why, considering I never said a word in that class. I ended up not getting the award, but ever since then I have prided myself in being an optimist. So, today when all of these things happened within five minutes of each other, I believe I had every reason to be a little disappointed. I even thought about making my post for today be titled, "One of Those Mornings." However, as the day went on I thought to myself, why make this a bad day? Why not make this one of those days where I turn things around with my attitude. Why not be optimistic? So, I decided to look to the future with hope, forgetting the events of the morning.

To be truthful, my day didn't change that much. I didn't see any grand miracles, but I can honestly say that it's a lot more fun to be optimistic than pessimistic. And if I was to award somebody the Optimist Award, I would have given it to me today.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Day in the Life of Eric

There is a great book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that I read a while back titled A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. The book takes you through the life of Ivan Denisovich, who is a prisoner in a Russian prison camp (sorry if I have the details wrong. I need to go back and review the book). In short, it takes the whole book to go through one day. Now, to spare you the boredom of hearing about my day in a booklength list of items, I will sum it up fairly quickly. Here we go.

My alarm goes off at 6 a.m. on the average week day, and I roll out of bed, being careful not to step on my roommate Richard who is still asleep beneath me. I shower, shave, and try to get awake enough to sit down and read from the New Testament for half an hour before I head off to campus. (Breakfast fits in there somewhere too.) As I ride my bike to campus I feel the cold chill that has settled over Provo recently, wishing that I had worn my gloves. Getting to campus, I sit down in class, ready to start a day of learning and studying. And yes, that is what I do all day, every day. But I don't complain. In fact, I kind of like it. There's something about learning that just makes me excited, and even though I don't understand half the principles being taught in physics, I just smile and go on, praying that I'll at least get a good grade for my effort. Work as a custodian fits in the afternoon for three and half hours, which gives me time to relax my brain from the lecturing and studying. But, after work ends, it's usually back to the library. I come home at night, ready to get a good nights rest before I start again the next day.

Now, I realize that this day isn't anything too special. In fact, it's the life of about any college kid out there. And, of course I'm probably exaggerating a little. I do seem to find time here and there to visit people and spend time with friends. But, having said that, I think it's about time to go to bed again in preparation for the wonderful day that lies in wait tomorrow.