Wednesday, November 26, 2008

BYU Weekly

My first post in months!! And it's going to be extremely short...sadly. I actually don't have any time to write anything more tonight. :-( I tried to load this video on YouTube, but it doesn't seem to like my computer. Or my home router. Or just me.

Anyway, here's the BYU video that showed during the second week of November! :-D

video

And now, as I finally got it loaded onto Blogger, I realized that the sound and the video desynchronized. Great. Well, I'm afraid that this is the best version that I'm going to get on here for a little while, so I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Whew!

Hello world!

It's been a while since I last updated my blog (yeah, 'a while' meaning just over 2 months), so I figured I'd go ahead and throw something on here. I also got a comment by my friend Becca on the last blog post "Death of a Computer," letting me know that my computer has been dead for a while now as well.

Ahem.

Thankfully, my computer has been up and running for about a month and a half now. Once I got back to Provo - and my external hard drive - I was able to clean the bugger out and replace all the info on the hard drive anew. My computer, however, has been one of the lower concerns of my life since I left Tallahassee.

Just a really quick bit about my travels along the east coast afterward: I left for DC on June 26, then the next day hopped on to a scary Chinatown bus to meet Becca and Tyler Johnson in Philadelphia! I stayed with them during the weekend and went to ther very interesting ward on Sunday. Monday came and I Greyhounded my way up to New York City!! That was the coolest thing ever, to go to such a city with nothing to do but be a tourist. :-)

I visited/saw/did the following things (I made a list on my phone so I wouldn't forget):
Museum of Modern Art
Central Park
Times Square
The GAP (for a cloth belt - you try finding one in Manhattan)
Banana Republic (...just because)
Manhattan Temple
Lincoln Center/Met Opera House
Julliard
A really cool cathedral
Time Warner Center
Serendipity3
Empire State Building
Max Brenner's (there are no words)
A HUGE Post Office (sent a postcard)
Ground Zero
Battery Park
Staten Island Ferry
Got my umbrella stolen
Walked like a nomad on crack
Conquered the Subway!

After two wonderful days in New York, and staying with Joseph Olson's family, I hightailed my way up to Boston to visit Harvard University and see Boston. And wouldn't you know? The one day that I was up there - it rained. A LOT (see above about my umbrella). And then, after Boston and delicious clam chowder, I turned around and went all the way back to DC to start the Crittenden Opera Program.

By the way, my bus up to Boston and back down to DC was BoltBus, an incredibly effective bus...as long as you aren't trying to string two bus rides together. But it's the cleanest bus company, and they have free WiFi in the bus during the trip! Of course, I didn't have my computer with me, so that point was moot.

And I'm afraid that the rest of my Crittenden experience is going to have to wait until next time. As will the pictures of Philly, NY, and Boston. Sorry! I'll have to wait until I'm back at my own computer.

Until next time!! :-D

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Death of a Computer

So I don't have much time right now, as this is lunchtime in between our class sessions at this law program at FSU. But I wanted to be able to begin my post lamenting the impending loss of my faithful and honorable laptop. Sadly, I never named him (he's definitely a guy, since I can't have girls in my bedroom at BYU...hahaha), and so I have no name on which to bestow my grief!

On Saturday I realized that I never downloaded the correct drivers to make my Bluetooth module work properly. I decided to fix that problem. Bad idea. I couldn't remember where inside my laptop the module resides, so I began taking things out and looking around - I needed to know the make/model of the Bluetooth module in order to get the right driver. In my own defense (next to my own prosecution), I have taken many an item out of my laptop before, including my hard drive. This time, though, my hard drive did not work properly when I rebooted my computer. In fact, it didn't really work at all.

Behold the dreaded blue screen of death!
Except my dreaded blue screen didn't have half of these words on it, all the text was in the top left corner, and it only lasted approximately .7 seconds. Then the entire system restarted. If you try to load Windows in any format, Safe mode or whatever, you get the same screen: the Blue Screen of Death.

Now, the observant among you will realize that I have created this post on a computer. Indeed, I am typing this on my very own laptop. The contradiction is resolved with this: Ubuntu! My old roommate and good friend Antony directed me to the Ubuntu website where I could download the Operating System, burn it onto a CD, and then use that OS directly off of the CD in a Live Session. Basically I could throw my hard drive out and just use this CD. Unfortunately, it takes a bit longer to use than I'm used to because it's constantly reading off of the CD, and I can't make any changes that will last longer than a single restart. But for the time being, I can use the internet and type up assignments.

Speaking of which, as soon as I get some more time, I will post a sampling of some of the best assignments that I've done with this beloved machine. They will be sparse; do not fear.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Death of a Camera

You probably noticed in my last post that I actually took the picture of my room (I know, that might be a little on the "Duh." side). Well, that picture you see of the bulb-less light was the last good picture my camera will ever take. *sniff* Yes, it is a very sad thing.

Apparently the inner workings of the camera have lost some of their connections. Immediately after I took the picture I noticed that neither the zoom nor the menu buttons did anything, anything at all. This poses some problems: I can't zoom, obviously; I cannot edit any of the settings of the camera; and, most importantly, I cannot delete any photos without putting the SD card into a computer and doing it manually. That means that the random photos I have saved onto my camera's internal memory are permanently saved there. And are irretrievable. So sad!

So this post is just going to be a trip down memory lane, so to speak, to revisit some of my camera's most wonderful achievements. Please ignore the atrocious arranging that Blogger insists on using for my pictures, but think instead on how each of these pictures was taken by my camera. Let us take a moment of silence as we remember with fondness how well my little camera fulfilled the measure of its creation.
























Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day!

I realized after my last post that there is a lot about this program that I just didn't put into words. Like how I live in a totally crappy place called Southgate.

Do not be fooled by the adjective it gives itself on its website - "relaxed luxury" - for there is nothing relaxing nor luxurious about this off-campus dorm. There are two different locales within Southgate - the normal dorms, and The Lofts. The Lofts are two story, more private, nicer apartments that we do not have the privilege of enjoying. The dorms themselves are bigger than the normal dorms you might find in other universities. We do get private bathrooms (full bathrooms, complete with showers) and a good bit of wiggle room. What we do not get is a light in our bedroom. Nope. No light.

My room from my bed.
Oh wait!! In case you didn't quite see where my light should be, here's a better view above the door.
Bulbs anyone?

The picture just can't quite do justice to the deplorable status of light in these rooms; this little non-working light above the door is the ONLY light in the room! And ours doesn't even work!! We've had to constantly use a lamp that my roommate J.W. bought at Target. I ended up taking the bulbs out of our actual light and trying to replace them from the bulbs in the hallway. I figured that if they wouldn't fix the lights in our bedrooms, they would surely replace the lights that are supposed to be on 24/7 in the hallways. But then, sadness! The bulbs in the hallway are different. They didn't fit our room light. :'-(

But anyway, on a better note, we went to the Rez today! The Rez is a recreational area at a lake, owned by FSU and used by students and family. FSU Law School bussed all of us little undergrads over there this morning, we played a bunch of teamwork games that actually were fun, and then spent a few hours playing at the Rez. We had the option of going on the lake, playing football, playing volleyball, climbing a rock wall, swimming, etc. So I picked the one thing available to me that I had never done before: I went kayaking! It was a ton of fun, and I now feel like I should buy a kayak if I ever move to a location that has a bunch of lakes and rivers. We then played volleyball, where I made some fabulous shots by kicking the ball (translation: I suck at volleyball and ended up treating it like soccer).

By the time we got home at 4 o'clock I was exhausted. I ended up being domestic and folded my laundry, cleaned up my part of the room, then collapsed on my bed for over an hour. I still have a large part of the evening open to me, so I think I'm going to head over to Walmart and buy Catch Phrase and see if I can get anyone to join me in a no-alcohol-required-but-fun passtime.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hello from FSU

I must say, not only has it been a while since I last posted on this blog, but the post that I ended with last time left it looking like I was going to return as some newly-formed Apollo, complete with rippling abs. Reality, however, is normally satisfied with the mundane; I have no rippling abs to report. But I do have another major update: I'm in Tallahassee!!

I've been in Tallahassee now for almost a week. Let me tell you: Florida State University is about as similar to BYU as a kitten is to a cobra. Or a table. Florida State is, of course, a university as BYU is, but their focus at the student level is almost antithetical (if that's a word). Now before I go any further, let it be known that I do not in any way speak lowly of FSU. It's a great university that's just a bit different from my own. I hope that I do not step on any toes by publishing this to my blog (Becca understands, I'm sure).

BYU students generally have a source of motivation - and dare I say, hope? - that lies in the independent region of the heart. The combination of the Church, the Honor Code, and the expectations of faculty and staff cultivate a deep sense of responsibility and wholeness within the students that they usually don't even recognize, and yet it produces an ingrained type of maturity. They're motivated by their grades as are students at other universities, but they are emotionally motivated by activities and friendships that are inherently wholesome. At Florida State such a motivation must come solely from themselves and their choice of lifestyles. BYU students get recharged by simple, fun, social activities that only really involve each other (and a game). Interestingly, a good number of FSU students recharge by going to a club or bar nearby campus where they participate in sociality, but under the cloud of alcohol.

I have to say, after seeing groups of my new friends here go out to bars or nightclubs three times so far in the first week of the program, their motivation and/or "recharge" is a pretty dang shaky one. On a personal note, it also leaves me somewhat alone during those times. But never fear! A number of the students here have also begun to express their distaste (at least) for such frequencies to establishments of alcohol, and I have begun to find some wholesome relaxing and recharging even here. A few nights ago we stayed up for a while playing Taboo (what a blast), the next night Uno (halfway in Spanish), and last night we went to a 10:00 o'clock showing of Iron Man with a trip afterwards to Sonic - and we all had fun! I don't think they believe me when I mention that this is what I do every night at BYU and still manage to have a ton of fun. Granted, alcohol wasn't entirely avoided - most of the Uno players were drinking white wine - but overall it was not a major part of our fun.

Anyway, I didn't want to spend all my time writing about the imbibatory differences in our college cultures.

This program is harder than I thought! We aren't being graded or anything like that, and our days are only from 9 to 3:15, but we all end up taking or wanting to take naps by the time we're through! We have two classes a day that we attend: Legal Writing (which is more like Legal Analysis) and Law Class. I know, the latter sounds almost comically generic. Legal Writing is a lot of fun; so far we've learned a ton about different kinds of laws and how they're applied to cases. This is the class that will have us present 8-minute oral arguments in a mock court session at the end of this program. The Law Class is an intense perusal of appeals covering the different types of law that are available for study. We've glanced over Torts, Insurance, Evidence stuff, Negligence and Personal Injury, with a large number of cases left to study in next three weeks. So far I can tell you that my least favorite law subject is Insurance law. Ew.

Overall, I'm having a blast out here! The days are hot, humid, and long; all the flora is a living green color, with all the trees adorned in spanish moss (the blackish gray moss that hangs from branches); and the people in this program are smart, different, good people that are making the same decision I am: is law school for me?

Tomorrow I'll go to the Singles Ward and figure out how they deal with entertainment stuff here in Tallahassee. :-D

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An email to my dad while on tour...

Dad-
  That would be awesome!  I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to get anything out to you - since I don't have my computer here and the internet isn't free very often, it's difficult to check my email.  This is actually the first time since Sunday.  Your plan's better than the one I've thought of, and since I don't need a car I say go for it!
  Tour is going very well so far.  This morning I started an exercise regiment consisting of little exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, back exercises, shoulder ones, etc.) that I will vary day by day.  Tour is a terrific way of gaining a good 10 pounds or so, eating copious amounts of food that is so willingly given by members and host families.  I also bought an Aerobie frisbee and played my heart out today a few times.  The result: I am now sore, and can feel the deep soreness coming on.  I will most likely be comatose in the morning.  Other than that, things are going terrificly!
  I'll try to keep things updated more!  Tell mom and the girls that I (we with Anthony) love them and can't wait to see them on the 10th!

Love,
Ben  ;-)


On Mon, Apr 28, 2008 at 5:38 PM, Greg Gardner <gggardner@gmail.com> wrote:
Ben
 
It is actually cheaper to fly roundtrip DFW to Tallahassee on Saturday the 14th then fly one way to SLC on Tuesday the 17th. This would save about $150 and have you visit home for 3 days. If you don't need a vehicle there, this is the best way. A vehicle would probably mean taking the Suburban as it would be very difficult to get rid of or trade for a smaller vehicle.
 
Dad



Sunday, April 20, 2008

Book tag and movie quote exhibition!

Following my sister's example, I have decided to relax a little in my postings and "reply" to a game that she tagged me with. Here's the deal: you have to grab the book nearest to you, open up to page 123, find and post the 5th sentence, then tag 5 people. I can tell you right now that I don't know enough bloggers to tag 5 people without exhausting my blogging contacts. So I'll skimp on that one. And then you put down a movie quote and see if anyone can pin it down. It might seem a little dumb, but it's pretty fun!

Here's my book tag. Alas, it's pretty lame:
Toward the end of the sixteenth century, the diamond-shaped notes of Renaissance notation changed to the round note-heads we use now, and ligatures fell out of use.
-Burkholder, A History of Western Music

And my movie quote!
He was always a rather stupidly optimistic man. I'm afraid it came as a great shock to him when he died.
-?????

Guess it right and win a prize!! ...Not really. But the imagination is always better than reality, right?

Okeedokee, I tag Alex, Becca, and Amy. Let's see if they do it. Good luck!

And by the way, here's an exceptionally good comic Dani showed me today. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's been a little while

So my last post was apparently on April 6, roughly two weeks ago. Dang. I need to get better at keeping this thing.

The biggest news that has come about in the last two weeks: I GOT ACCEPTED TO THE FSU SUMMER LAW PROGRAM!!! I just got the email on Thursday letting me know about it! I am so excited! In case you have forgotten (or I didn't mention it earlier), this program is 4 weeks long at Florida State University - and everything is paid for except for my flight to Tallahassee. How cool is that?! And even cooler, although it is a bit of bragging, only 60 students were selected out of a pool of over 500 applicants. It makes me so happy that I can achieve something like this! :-)

I also emailed the WINS program and the USCIS to inform them of my decision to pull out of my internship for this summer. It took me quite a while to do it, but I eventually (finally) sent them the message yesterday. The WINS Administrative Assistant, Liz Litchfield (an incredibly nice woman), wrote me back within half an hour and graciously wished me the best of luck during the summer and invited me to consider WINS again in the future. My internship sponsor from the USCIS has yet to responded, if ever, to the notification. Hmmm.



I only have a couple more things to do to cement my summer into place: first, I need to formally apply to the Crittenden Opera Studio Workshop and send in my audition recordings by May 4; I need to send in my Notice of Intent to the FSU Summer for Undergraduates by May 2; and I need to buy my plane tickets for both of the programs.

I also wanted to stay behind and work at the library when I won't be in FL or DC, but upon plotting my summer excursions on paper I realized that I will only have 3 weeks or less to work during the months of June and July, and heaven knows what our family might do during the month of August. So now I'm going to have to speak to my boss about letting me work for only a few weeks - maybe 5? - during the whole summer. I don't know how he'll take it, but it's worth a shot.

As for school right now, we are smack-dab in the middle of finals! I have two more left: a take home final for Supervised Teaching (Music 472), and a final in two parts for my last ever Music History/Literature class (Music 304). Then all I'm going to have to worry about is our concert for BYU Singers the night of Commencement and our tour only three days later. This summer is going to be TERRIFIC. :-D

Sunday, April 06, 2008

This Weekend

For those who might not know, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather together twice a year to listen to our General Authorities speak to the entire Church as a whole. The Conference is broadcast in 92 languages to who knows how many different countries. Living in Provo gives us the opportunity to go to Salt Lake and attend a session or two in person. Like my last post stated, the BYU auditioned choirs sang in the Saturday Afternoon Session, one of the five sessions of General Conference. This year I was blessed to be able to attend three of the five sessions in Salt Lake, two of which were in the Conference Center.

I always forget how big the Conference Center is! It's huge!! I got to see it from two different views during this General Conference: once from the choir loft (behind the pulpit), and one from the balcony. Both views make you feel like you're really looking at a picture, or a big IMAX screen, but certainly not a huge open building. This room seats over 21,000 people! Incredible.

I didn't really have a chance to rest this weekend like I wanted to. In order to sing at the Saturday Afternoon Session you have to be inside the Conference Center before the previous session ends (and the sessions are spaced 2 hours apart). We wanted to see as much of the Morning Session as possible - therefore, we left Provo a little after 7 o'clock in the morning to be able to park and watch the Saturday Morning Session in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. It worked and we were able to see almost the entire session.

This morning, once again, we were gone a bit after 7 AM in order to park and be at the Conference Center to attend the Sunday Morning Session in the Conference Center. What made today more difficult was the fact that we had to bring our food with us instead of buying it in Salt Lake, since members of the Church do not shop on Sundays (since that requires other people to work on the Sabbath). But it worked out great! The Morning Session was beautiful - although I did have an impromptu singing competition with a guy sitting next to me (don't worry, I won) - and we had a picnic in the car in between sessions. And it was a good picnic, too. We ended up driving back during the Afternoon Session while listening to it on the radio and finishing it at the apartment. Not too shabby.

I also received all of my welcome information from the WINS Internship Program yesterday, the Native American program that arranged my internship for this summer...that I have not yet turned down. Now that my summer is beginning to look more concrete with the grant for Crittenden, I'm going to need to write both the WINS program and my internship sponsor and let them know that I won't be able to attend this summer.


...However, this is one of those things that you know you have to do but do not want to have to do it. You know? I made a commitment before, but now things have changed enough that this internship will not do much good for me either for music or for law. Grrr. I'm just going to have to put my nose to the grindstone and get it done.

Anyway, that's about it. Nothing too exciting, but it's still an update with my life. Well, at least my weekend.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Oscarson Discovery Grant!

I got the grant! This is the grant that I applied for to help pay for the Crittenden Opera Workshop, and I was informed yesterday by email that I received it! Woo-hoo! This means that all I'll have to come up with is a measly $300 and the rest should be set.

I would certainly write more (and expound upon the joy that fills my breast), but I have to get ready to leave momentarily for the Conference Center. The BYU auditioned choirs are singing in the Saturday Afternoon Session of General Conference. That means that we have to be up there and ready to practice by the time the Morning Session is finished.

I got money!!! :-D

Monday, March 31, 2008

Self-Indulgence

As part of my application for the Summer for Undergraduates Program at FSU I had to send in a Personal Statement. After some thinking, I decided to post that Personal Statement here.

If I can ever get it uploaded.

Ah, here it is: Personal Statement. The link will open another window where you will have to click the Download File box and then wait for the actual link to the file to load. Free file hosting. Yeah.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Summer Plans?

This being the first post in a while, I figured I'd try to bring y'all up to speed with the main enigma that I'm facing right now: what am I going to do with my summer?

Many of you probably remember my excitement in January of being accepted into an internship with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for the entire summer. Even cooler than the acceptance was the fact that they would be sponsoring me - paying for my room and board, my textbooks and other school stuff, my transportation to the internship site from my housing, my transportation to Washington, DC, and a weekly stipend for miscellaneous stuff. You bet I was excited!! That internship was my entire plan for the summer, nicely packaged and conveniently affordable.

Unfortunately, the internship really will not do very much to enhance my opportunities with law. I would be working within the Training and Development Department of USCIS, hardly a position meant to enhance law school-ish opportunities. After a long talk with my dad (aka Wise Man) I decided that I should seek out other options for the summer that would lead me closer to law school or music.

Yes, music. I have realized that my odd ability to sing very high (like a woman) can actually earn me some major bucks down the road if I choose to capitalize on it. Countertenors are paid very highly to perform in early operas. Who knew? So I've been looking for programs this summer that can emphasize either of those two career paths.

And this is what I have so far.


I've been "accepted" into the Crittenden Opera Studio for this summer, a 2-week long workshop for opera performance held in Washington, DC. One of the voice faculty at BYU swears by this program, and I figured if I ever was serious about countertenor I would probably need to know a bit about opera performance. Accepted is a bit of a stretch...the same voice professor managed to get an acceptance email from Mr. Crittenden so that I could apply for a grant to help pay for the workshop, even though applications aren't even accepted until May (hehe). The workshop will take place during the middle of July.

I've also applied for an undergraduate law program at Florida State University, called the Summer for Undergraduates Program. This is a 4-week long program that teaches about the American legal system, teaches writing courses, explores careers in law, etc. Only 60 students are accepted each summer, and I have applied with great faith and hope (charity and love can enter the picture when I get accepted). This is the kind of program that, if you get accepted, pays for everything except your travel to and from Tallahassee, FL! You can imagine how much I want to go and enjoy FSU for 4 weeks for free!!!



I also have the goal of staying here at BYU during my "not-traveling-times" and working at the Library. My supervisor at the library right now wants me to be trained in an archival database project along with a few other employees, and I certainly want to take advantage of that. BUT - I cannot make a commitment for this summer with the library until I know what else I'll be doing and when.

And then, on top of all of these things, I still have not written my internship sponsor (USCIS) to tell them that I will have to withdraw my internship. I'm not really looking forward to it to be quite honest. I hate having to back out of any kind of commitment that I've made, especially in this type of situation where I was chosen after an interview process. However, the truth of the whole matter is that USCIS will not help me that much in either of my career aspirations.

So the question is: can I do everything I want this summer and not be overwhelmed, emotionally or financially? First I will need to know whether I'm accepted into the law program, if I get the grant to help pay for Crittenden, and when I'll be here to work at the library. And those three things are out of my hands right now.

I hate having to wait on people. ;-)