Friday, February 25, 2011

Cows & Government

You may have seen a variation of this before. A summary of sorts of world government according to cows.


 You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk. 

Pure Socialism

You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you all the milk you need. 

Bureaucratic Socialism

Your cows are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and eggs the regulations say you should need.


You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk. 

Pure Communism

You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk. 

Real World Communism

You share two cows with your neighbors. You and your neighbors bicker about who has the most "ability" and who has the most "need". Meanwhile, no one works, no one gets any milk, and the cows drop dead of starvation. 

Russian Communism

You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk. You steal back as much milk as you can and sell it on the black market. 


You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the Mafia takes all the milk. You steal back as much milk as you can and sell it on the "free" market. 

Cambodian Communism

You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you. 


You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you. 


You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned. 

Pure Democracy

You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk. 

Representative Democracy

You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk. 

British Democracy

You have two cows. You feed them sheep's brains and they go mad. The government doesn't do anything. 


You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. Then it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows. 

Pure Anarchy

You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors try to take the cows and kill you. 

Pure Capitalism

 You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. 


You don't have any cows. The bank will not lend you money to buy cows, because you don't have any cows to put up as collateral. 


You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them. 

Political Correctness

You are associated with (the concept of "ownership" is a symbol of the phallocentric, war mongering, intolerant past) two differently - aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender. 


You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons. 

Enron Capitalism

You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank. He then executes a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by your CFO who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on six more. 

And, I have this song on constant repeat right now. Love it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Job :)

Well, last week I interviewed for a position at a medical billing company in the area. One of our friends, Jody, is the Director of Operations. Well, I got offered the position of account representative and I start next week! There is a lot of room for growth in their company.

So, I'm slightly nervous because I've never done medical billing before. But, I'm excited for a change and the chance to get rid of Cory's student loans and save up for a house a lot faster. Plus, I've thought about it quite a bit and it feels right for right now.

Jody talked to me about working for her company back in the fall. However, I was hesitant to make the change. First off, I had been hoping to teach. I was fantasizing that I'd maybe possibly get a mid year position. Which didn't happen. Second, I applied for lots of paraprofessional positions in the district and interviewed for some. Didn't pan out. Third, when Cory has the summers off, I would be working full time. Before, I did contract landscape work for my dad.

I was also trying out substituting. Well, it didn't take long for me to decide that it is no fun to sub after you know what it's like to have your own class. It's kind of like eating generic ice cream after eating Blue Bell. Doesn't satisfy.

However, the problems in the economy that most people felt a couple years ago are now hitting the insulated state governments. So, although there have been teacher layoffs the past couple years, it is going to be really bad this year. Cory's superintendent held a meeting with the entire district on Monday (which rarely happens) and held a "State of the District Address." Basically, he said that they will have a cutback of over 12% next year. That is about $13.8 million.

Last year, to save $5.4 million, they cut 145 positions, eliminating the jobs of 105 people. They were able to hire back about half of those in some capacity.

They are looking at several solutions, but some of those will probably be layoffs, moving teachers around, not replacing teachers who retire, etc.

So, I've thought a lot about it and decided it would probably be a good idea for me to have alternatives because there might not be any open positions next year! As such, I'm making a bit of a career switch :) Now, here's to hoping that Cory has a job next year! We've been feeling very blessed that he was able to snag such a great position. He'll hopefully find out in the next month or so if his contract will be extended!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some Recent Book Reviews

So, I'm addicted to reading. You know those nerdy kids that you see walking home from school reading? While wearing big glasses? And you feel sad in your heart and hope that they don't get picked on and that they have at least one friend? Yes, that kid was me. Well, I haven't been reading as much as I should, but I have started to get a little bit of a 2011 list. Here are some recent reviews.

Mazerunner by James Dashner

Well-written with several surprising twists, this book follows the grain of the Hunger Games Trilogy. Basically, this book is about a group of teenage boys who live in a wall enclosed compound called "The Glade," which is surrounded by a seemingly impossible maze. The only safe spot in the maze is their compound, which seals daily. They've been sending out Runners every day to map out the maze, but it changes every day. After years of trying, they seem to be going nowhere.

Meanwhile, Thomas wakes up in an elevator heading up with no memory of how he got there or who he is. While he can remember what grocery stores are, he can't remember any specific grocery stores. He knows what a Mom and Dad is, but he cannot remember his own. He arrives to find out that like clockwork, every month, a boy arrives in the Glade. However, the next day, the very first girl arrives in the Glade. She delivers the message that no one else is coming and the end is coming. Whoever has created the Glade, and put the boys there, is ready to end the normal routine. The boys scramble to solve an impossible maze before time runs out.

The thing I loved about this book, was that it was difficult to predict what was going to happen. Dashner is skilled at making you very confident that things are one way, and then changing your perspective chapters or even pages later. When I finished this book, I was very intrigued with the set up he had created. Try as I could, I could not figure out the entire solution. Second, although the boys do have their own made up slang ("shuck face," etc.), I did not find their dialogue juvenile or annoying. This was one of my complaints with Fablehaven.

Overall, I know a book is great when I get nervous reading it. What I mean by this, is that I get so absorbed into the book that I can barely wait to see what happens. I cannot put the book down. I give it 5 stars.

Scorch Trials by James Dashner

This book continues the deception and trickery. You are still left wondering what exactly is going on, who can we trust, and how on earth is he going to tie things up. I won't give too much about the plot because it would be a spoiler for Mazerunner. However, I felt that this book didn't have nearly as much direction and motivation as the first book. It was still excellent, but I had a few moments where I wanted to skip over parts. My real complaint is that the third book doesn't come out until October 2011! I give it 4 stars.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This was excellent! An absolutely wonderful, well researched portrayal of Louis Zamperini's amazing story. This book is so well written, it's amazing the author did not live the events herself. Further, it's almost impossible to read the things this man went through. You follow Louis from Olympian athlete in the Berlin Olympics to Air Force bombardier. When his plane crashes, he is stranded on the ocean with little food for 47 days. He then spends the next couple years enduring incredible atrocities in multiple Japanese prisoner of war camps.

The writing is this book is vivid, the research is absolutely meticulous, and the painting Hillenbrand recreates is so rich in your mind, that you feel like you're seeing it happen. An absolutely incredible read...5 stars!

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanna DuPrau

This is the third book in the City of Ember series.  Although I started out enjoying this series, this installment felt disjointed and unrelated. The main character was immature and foolish. It was very difficult to relate to her. It was definitely not as compelling of a read as the first two books. Saying that, I am still planning on reading the 4th book to see how it ends. 2.5 stars

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

In her stunning debut fantasy novel, Kristen Cashore, weaves a world of strong characters and believable dialogue. Katsa is born into one of seven neighboring kingdoms with the "grace" or skill of killing. In her kingdom, all Gracelings are automatically taken into the service of the king. As such, she is forced to kill or punish the king's enemies. However, when she meets Prince Po, she makes an unlikely friend, and through a chain of events realizes that there is an extremely powerful danger in a nearby kingdom that could literally destroy the world with words alone. They go on a quest to save their world.

I really enjoyed this book. The growth of the heroine and the development of the plot was enjoyable and urged you to keep reading. The concept of people being born with "graces" (fighting, swimming, mind reading, sensing storms, cooking, archery, etc.) was very intriguing to me. Because of her grace, Katsa feels very disconnected from others. In many ways, they fear her, and she views herself as a monster. However, Cashore paints a vivid picture that gradually helps you understand what is truly happening.

Parents should note that although it is written for the 14 and up audience, there are a few very discreet romantic scenes. Saying that, my main complaint with this book was that the author tried to repeatedly embed some of her personal opinions into the story. Katsa is opposed to getting married ever and thinks that a deep romantic relationship does not need the 'restricting' ties of marriage. I was personally annoyed by this and felt it unneccesary to the story. Because of this, I give it 4.5 stars.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Idol Within

So, Cory and I don't have cable. But, I do know what American Idol is. I also have come to the realization that I am not a good singer and will never be on American Idol. This took several years of choir and being alive. In high school, I quit track when my parents told me, "Ya know, you're really not that good at track (I fell a lot). Maybe you should invest more time in something you're good at, like school." It went sort of like that except no one really had to tell me I was lousy.

However, there are a few songs that truly make me feel like I could be on American Idol. You know the jam them in your car and you unabashedly belt out the lyrics. Often, you get really proud when you finally realize they aren't saying "why did Santa leave the light oOoOoOn" but actually "why did Samson love Delilah?" (true story. song: Someday We'll Know). Then, when the music gets turned down, you realize it actually isn't you that sounds good. It's all the singer, and you in fact are terrible. But, just keep singing, my friend. I just usually make sure I'm alone. But, you know, your prerogative.

These are just a few recent favorites:

Ridin' Solo by Jason Derulo. Yes, I realize I'm married. But I really like this song. Let it just be known that this song would probably get me on American Idol.

Locked up by Ingrid Michaelson. If my voice matched the one in my brain, one version of it would sound like Ingrid Michaelson. I sing this song while I'm doing my laundry sometimes. With pride. As I would belt it on American Idol. And win in the alternate reality where I can sing (refer to first paragraph if you're still confused about my ability).

World on Fire by Sarah McLachlan. I remember listening to this CD when I was ten years old and we were driving up to Utah for Christmas. I remember seeing her perform live on TV once and she had one of those earpieces that real singers have in their ears. It looked like a hearing aid and I thought she was deaf. I was like that's amazing that she sounds so good when she's deaf!!

Right, Laney. Sarah McLachlan is 'deaf' and you should probably just keep singing in your car.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Utah Trip Part II

Saturday: Today, We went snowboarding at Sundance with Jeff, Spencer, and our great friends the Dyes. The snow was lousy, the weather was great, and we had a great time. At Brighton, we saw an idiot lovely girl skiing down the mountain in a very skimpy bikini. It looked so fun I nearly ripped off my three layers to join her. No repeats of that at Sundance, although I did put on a good show.

So, we hadn't seen the Dyes for seven months and we were meeting them at the top of the mountain. Well, Travus really likes to tease us. So, as we're nearing the top, I tell Cory, "Okay, you can't fall. Travus will make fun of us!" So, we get all prepped and ready.

Well, as I'm getting off the lift, I realize that my pocket zipper seems to be stuck. I could not get off! Cory cruises off, smooth sailing. Finally, I was able to bail and fall to my side on the ground three or four feet up. It was really awesome. The lift lady was like, "Are you okay???"

So, later in the day, our friend Jeff was with a random guy on the lift and was telling him that he had some friends visiting from Texas. He felt it important to mention that we fall off the lift a lot (Cory is still learning and trips sometimes, and to save face he likes to pull me down with him. naturally. plus, you just heard about my grand entrance). The guy is like, "Dude, I saw some girl in a white jacket EAT IT on the lift earlier!" And Jeff is like, "That's them!!" What can I say, people notice us wherever we go.

After skiing, we of course headed over to Cafe Rio (which we've really missed) with Mitchell, Veronica, Nate, Russell, Jeff, and Spencer.  That night, we went hot tubbing at the Dyes and visited. It was great being back.

Sunday: On Sunday, we went to our old ward. One of our old friends asked if we had moved back. hahahaha. No. We are very settled in the South. That night, we had dinner with the Dyes, played Settlers and Blokus (Cory was victorious in both, with very little scruples. He was ruthless and I'm still a bit bitter).

Monday: We headed back early to my grandparents, stayed and visited and had lunch at Paradise, then headed to the airport in the afternoon. With the blizzard chasing us to Texas, we got delayed two hours with de-icing. As a nice treat, the airline lost our bags. Until Thursday night. And, when they dropped them off, they only dropped off Cory's. We had to call them to get mine.

When we got back Monday night, it was anticipated that school would be canceled the next day because of the ice storm. Well, it did get canceled...for the next four days. We went over to Cory's parents' house on Tuesday and didn't leave until Saturday.The next week, we misssed Wednesday. So we had 5 snow days in two weeks. We came back to school and it was mid February :) Texas freaks out when it snows.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Utah Trip!

Last weekend we went up to Utah to snowboard and see some really great people. We had a fabulous time! I only utterly embarrassed myself two times on the trip (once Friday, once Saturday), which was a plus. Here's a little synopsis of what we did:

Thursday: We arrived in Salt Lake without too many hitches. Our connecting flight got a little delayed because they had to just really quickly spend 20 minutes to remove some excess cargo. Luckily, we made it. The guy across the aisle....not so lucky. Okay, bad joke, I know.

As a side note, when we moved from Utah to Texas, we brought our snowboards. When we got to Texas, we woke up from the stupor of packing and asked ourselves, "So, why did we bring these massive things to a place with no snow?" So, after looking for overpriced travel bags, we ended up securely taping our boards inside a huge white comforter a la white trash. We decided those babies were staying in Utah.

It of course got thoroughly searched (the check in lady did ask if it was a dead body which made me reminisce about the time I brought my fake bones through security...). We asked her, "So what if it is??" kidding. As I'm walking up at the baggage claim, I hear some guys joking about how "someone forgot his snowboard bag." Yes, guys, stupid traveler coming through, make way!! I had to correct them (we're leaving them here, etc), but I still looked like an idiot hauling off my bag of security tape. Jeff and Mitchell picked us up and we went to my Gramma & Papa's house and visited with them until late.

Gorgeous view!
Friday: We had a great day snowboarding with Jeff and Spencer at Brighton. So, here was my first embarrassing moment. I prepped for the day by wearing underarmour and some fancy fleece of Jeff's. I switched up my normal order of clothes because underarmour needs to be straight on your skin to be "effective" bla bla bla. So, I wore my bra on top of my underarmour, then the fleece, then everything else.

During the day, we went into the lodge for a really expensive snack. Warm, I decided to remove a few layers while standing in the middle of the lodge.  Jacket, fleece, ka bam, and I was nice and cooled off. Do you see where this is going?

In my general cool and smooth demeanor, I walk into the bathroom and realize that, oh crap, I have been walking around the lodge wearing my skin colored bra over my underarmour. Classy! I decided that since I would never see those men in the lodge again, I would pretend that I had not just channeled my inner Doug.

After snowboarding, we had a great time eating sushi with Mindy, Steve, Stuart, Jeff, Mitchell, Russell, Spencer, and a new friend whose name I can't remember. After, we celebrated Chinese New Year with some people from Cory's old ward. It was just like Tangled.Very fun, minus the "us not being Chinese" part. Which, of course, was no big deal. We were supposed to write our wishes for the year on the lantern. Those are top secret of course :) We had bidded on Priceline for a hotel, so we stayed in Provo.

I'll post about Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in another post. I don't want it to be too long!