Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Week of Landmarks

Counting today, I have been in Salt Lake for 105 days. In the last week, I have had many new experiences. I want to share some of those with you...Aren't you all overjoyed?

I'll start with the beginning of the week.

101 days in SLC - the first time I, a single male with short hair living alone, had to clean the hair out of the tub drain.

103 days in SLC - the first time I woke up to a Salt Lake with accumulated snow on the ground down here in the Valley. It was only about half an inch though...even though the weather people predicted 4-5 inches in the Valley

104 days in SLC - the first time I woke up to lots of snow in the Valley. There were 3-4 inches and I had to walk through it all to get to the bus stop.

104 days in SLC - the first time I realized that New Balance 574s aren't gonna cut it in Salt Lake snow. I probably need to run and get some shoes that are a little more weather proof.

Side story - though I complain a lot about the cold here, and I mean a lot...I really love snow. I guess I get so excited about it because we don't get so much in TN. There have been several instances where it has been spitting out a few snow flakes here in the Valley and I have been super excited. I would walk around and say "it's snowing! Isn't it great!" People would blow me off. They would say something to the effect of "it's not really snowing...just you wait." So I waited. And I thought that Utahns don't get very excited about snow.

When I got on the bus yesterday morning... the snow was all the buzz. The bus is pretty quiet on most days. Yesterday morning, there was a huge conversation going on. There is usually only 2 or 3 people talking to each other. Yesterday morning, there was like a 10 person coversation going on. It was crazy. I mean, I didn't join in, but it was cool. Everyone loves snow.

104 days in SLC - the first time I ever shovelled snow. Does sovelled have one L or two? Anyways, my landlord is a flight attendant and is rarely home, so he asked me to shovel the snow yesterday. I was more than willing as I had never done it before. Now that I've done it...nothing special. Actually, I didn't think it was possible to work up a sweat with the temperature in the teens. I was wrong.

105 days in SLC - the first time I made a near fatal mistake in my clothing choice. No, I didn't wear real white instead of winter white. Actually, I did...but that's not what I'm talking about. Today I wore a t-shirt over a white thermal shirt (like long johns but more stylish) and then decided to put on the thinnest jacket I own. I mean, the sun was out so it couldn't be that cold right? Not right. After about 2 minutes at the bus stop I thought I would die. I chalked it up to the thin jacket. When I got to work everyone was surprised I was still in Utah. This is because I whine about the cold a lot...before it was even cold (that is, cold to Utahns). I looked at and it said the temp. in SLC was 12 degrees, and felt like 6 degrees. I agree.

Great landmarks huh?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Utes vs. Cougars

Yesterday (Saturday) I went to the BYU and University of Utah football game. I must admit up front, though it wasn't an SEC game, it was probably the best game I have ever been present for, and one of the three or four best games I have ever seen.

I also better admit up front that again, like last game, I had nothing at stake in the game and could really care less about the outcome of the game. With that being said, I must say that I did a darn good job cheering the Utah Utes on.

My friend is a grad student at the U (what us locals call the university of Utah - like how I called myself a local?) so she got the tickets and I went with her and some of her friends. It was a great day for a game, pretty cold, but a nice day for a huge rivalry game.

Our seats were in a section that was dominated by BYU fans, which made it even more fun to yell for Utah, even though I didn't care too much. The lady that sat right be hind me, well, we stood the entire game, so the lady who stood right behind me screamed after every play that was halfway decent for BYU. When I say screamed, picture the worst sound you can imagine and times it by 57. It was horrible, especially the first quarter when BYU dominated. I got in the habit of shaking my pompom they gave me right over my head, hoping to smack her in her face, so she would be forced to back up and not be right in my ear.

The same lady also called the BYU players by their first name in an annoying manner. My friends had a good time with this. She had to feel bad by the end of the game.

Well, she had to have low self esteem. BYU won with no time left on the clock, so she had to be feeling pretty good for that.

The ending was what made the game so good for me (an indifferent observer who just wanted to see a great game) and BYU fans. It had to stink for Ute fans. Utah had been manhandled in the first quarter, but then really owned the rest of the game. With very little time left BYU drove down the field and then on the last play, with 3.6 left before the snap, had an amazing qb scramble and pass to a man who had been left wide open in the end zone after the scramble. Great game.

All in all it was a fun day. It is an intense rivalries..plenty of bad words spoken about the other team. By each team. There were even a couple of fights - something I never expected to see at a game where one of the teams is the school of the LDS Church. But, there were so that was awesome. Below I have a picture of my ticket stub and pompom. Notice how the writing on the pompom is a little worn off. That is from my vigorous cheering.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks

Today has been a good day. I was a little upset that I would be spending Thanksgiving away from home for the first time ever, but it wasn't so bad. I did miss my family gathering and all of that, but talking to some of them on the phone was nice.

I truly do have lots to be thankful for - family, friends, nice US-2 placement, etc...

One thing that has been awesome is that everywhere I have gone, people have been very nice to me. Here in Salt Lake, I have found people more than welcoming. I met with many of these new friends today for Thanksgiving Dinner. It was great.

I wanted to take something to the dinner, but was unable to make the pumpkin-cheesecake bars (from scratch, yeah I'm braggin...wait, can I brag event though I didn't make them?) I bought the supplies for because I was too tired after the giveaway yesterday. So, I walked to the store this morning to get sweet potatoes and made Southern Fried Sweet Potatoes. This reads Southern (Pause) fried sweet potatoes. Not southern fried (pause) sweet potatoes. There is a difference. They are southern, and they are fried sweet potatoes. The frying method was not purposely southern, though, it probably is.

I call them southern because I basically used so much butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg that the flavor of the sweet potato was really nil. I have discovered since I have been away from the south that much of the key to southern cooking is hiding the flavor of the food you are eating. Away from the south people actually want to taste their green beans, squash, etc so they don't put so much butter and salt/other spices when they cook - they also don't get them very soft.

Another oddity about eating out here in Salt Lake is that locals here don't realize how good southern food is. Today the main host made sweet tea in honor of me, but very few people drank it. There were gallons left - some of which is sitting in my fridge. I don't get why they wouldn't drink it. Said they didn't have the taste for it. Also, the same host made homemade banana was foreign to most people there. Wow...they are missing out.

One last thing that wowed me. There is a group of grad students at the University of Utah that get together to watch Grey's Anatomy every week. One of my good friends here in Salt Lake is in that group of students so I have a standing invitation. One week I went, and as it's custom for everyone to bring snacks, I made sausage balls. No one there had ever had sausage balls except one girl from Alabama. Utahns are so deprived.

Anyways, the food today was great, including my sweet potatoes. Afterwards I came home and took my annual post-dinner Thanksgiving nap. Woke shortly after. Now I'm typing this.

One funny, well kind of funny - kind of gross story before I go. One year, I was awakened from my annual post-dinner Thanksgiving nap by a burp. I ate so much, I burped myself awake. I love Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Eve

Well, I just made it home from Crossroads' Annual Thanksgiving Giveaway. I'm very sore. Today we gave holiday food - Turkey, Pumpkin Pie, Grapes (not sure this is Thanksgiving food, but it's what the food bank gave us), and various fresh spices - to over 3300 families in need. In those families there were almost 7800 people. It was a great, tiring, and long day.

It will make me even more thankful for the many offers I had to go to Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow. I will be going and breaking bread with friends from church and am looking forward to that...and sleep.

An observation: Never, ever have I considered being vegetarian. Never, ever will I consider being a vegetarian (am I spelling this right? I would look it up but...). Nothing against vegetarians...I just love my meat. But, seeing 3600 frozen turkeys spread across a gym floor is a sight to see...and think about. There was a point when i actually realized that all 3600 of those turkeys were at one time alive - that if they were still alive the humans in the center where we had the giveaway would think they were under attack. There was a point where I started to feel bad for all of the turkeys that were once alive, but were then pile in three foot piles over 100 square feet worth of a gym. It was like a genocide...and that was only with the 3600 of the 4312 that were donated to Crossroads that made it into the gym. Just think if all of the frozen turkeys that are being eaten tomorrow would have been there...what would that look like? I thought about this - deep ponderings - and then I went and ate some meat lovers pizza. I loves my meat...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

New Best Friend

I left the office for about an hour today to go take a couple of books back to the library. On the way, a guy about my age yelled from about 20 yards behind me "Hey man." After the second yell I turned around to notice that he was running up to me. We exchanged pleasantries, then he asked if I was going to the library. I answered yes and he said "sweet, we'll walk together."

I was okay with that. Boy, am I glad I didn't follow my instinct and say I had to make a stop in a store first...this was one of the more interesting chats I've had in a while.

I'll try to recreate parts of the convo for you. Well, the parts that are postable. I'll change some language - keep it clean you know...

Dude: I just got off work (He works at Sizzler - cheap steakhouse)
Adam: Oh, I am working now.
Dude: Do you make deliveries?
Adam: (Baffled)Sorry?
Dude: Your bag. (A man purse - sometimes called a messenger bag)
Adam: Oh, no I work at Crossroads Urban Center.
Dude: Oh, so are you in college too?
Adam: No, I've graduated.
Dude: Nice, I'm in acting school now - I'm going to be an actor
Adam: Oh, that's cool - what do you want to do with it when you're done?
Dude: Act.
Adam: I mean, like, what genre: movies, theatre...
Dude: Oh, movies and commercials. I don't like the theatre, cause I don't like to sing
Adam: Well, not all theatre productions are musicals. There is just plain stage theatre without the music.
Dude: Yeah, but those are called plays. I don't want to do them neither.
Adam: (Reeking sarcasm, but oddly he didn't pick up on it) Oh, my mistake.

Later in the conversation

Adam: I'm from Nashville
Dude: Nice, Nashville's cool.
Adam: Yeah, it is. But I like Salt Lake City too.
Dude: Yeah, theres lots of hot girls here. (You can't tell it from the parts I'm posting but roughly 90% of his words dealt with girls).
Adam: Yeah, I have noticed some well put together girls.
Dude: But most of them are Mormon. They won't date people who ain't mormon. Not that I know of.
Adam: Yeah, that's what I hear.
Dude: But some of them are freaks. (I have debated whether I should put this line in here. I still don't know if I should. He said this, or a variation of this, explicitly, at least a dozen times in the 10 minute walk to the library, so I feel it belongs...but this is a family blog - g-rated. So, I don't know...The beauty in the statement is that he has already said he doesn't know of a mormon girl who will date/whatever non-mormons, but then claims to know this detail. Strange...

Later in the conversation

Dude: Do you burn?
Adam: I'm sorry? (I didn't know what this meant. I'm not hip I guess. But thinking later I thought the term sounded somewhat familiar from somewhere. Several hours of thinking - well, not straight thinking - led me to remember during a advocacy group board meeting that someone asked one of my favorite sportswriters -Clay Travis- the same question and he, too was perplexed - weird huh?
Dude: Do you want drugs.
Adam: Oh, no thanks...
Dude: Oh, that's good. There aren't too many in Salt Lake.
Adam: (Confused, contemplating faking a phone call) Yeah, that's good.

So...once again, I meet people who make writing about them fun.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Life is Beautiful

A couple of nights ago I watched Roberto Benigni in "Life is Beautiful," a movie I have been meaning to watch for some time now. I was not sure what it was about going in, and admittedly, almost turned it off after several minutes because of Benigni's silliness throughout the first part of the movie. I halfway thought it was some slapstick style comedy, but then remembered it received several oscar wins and nominations a while back so plowed through. By the end, I was glad I plowed through.

If you haven't seen it, I recommend that you do. It ends up being a beautiful story about the Holocaust - a concept that seems paradoxical at best I admit. But it is...the flying dust particles made a cameo at the end of the movie because of the emotions that even a somewhat light-hearted, more than likely unrealistic look at the Holocaust cannot subdue from the realities and horror of the Holocaust.

For most of the movie, the title made sense - a man's life goes just as he wants it, gets the girl, has a cute kid, fulfills his dream of opening a bookshop, and all the while has fun. But then the characters end up going to a concentration camp, where the title doesn't make much sense.

Of course, as I do with almost everything that interests me now, I looked up the movie on Wikipedia. It turns out that the title comes from a quotation out of Leon Trotsky's testament shortly before he was assassinated in Mexico. If you don't know, Trotsky was one of the leaders in the early days of the Soviet Union who then had a power struggle with Joseph Stalin. That struggle led to Trotsky fleeing Russia and later being killed by Stalin's people. The quotation from his testament reads:

Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full.

The title of the movie seems appropriate now. A declarative sentence, followed by an imperative sentence. I don't think we as a society, during the time of the Holocaust or now, can declare something such as "Life is Beautiful" without following that declaration with an imperative along those lines - let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full.

I am afraid that we, Trotsky's future generations - have accepted the fact that life is beautiful without feeling as much urgency to cleanse the world from it's evils. Racism, Sexism, Classism, Darfur, Poverty, the list continues endlessly...

Let us remember that life is sacred, and beautiful. Let us also do what we can to ensure that this declaration is true for all.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

YLC 2006

Sorry for the delay in posting. This has been a crazy week and hopefully I won't again go a week without posting. We shall see...

The retreat I went on with Christ UMC's youth was called the Youth Leadership Conference (YLC). It is one of two Rocky Mountain Conference youth events and was held at the YMCA of the Rockies - a beautiful retreat center in the mountains of Colorado. It snowed a lot of the time we were there which was cool. Haha...get, as in cold. I slay myself.

I am pretty spoiled by TN Conference youth events, but YLC wasn't too bad either. It was fairly well attended for a fall retreat and for a conference where there are three huge states as feeders. The band was pretty good, the speakers were nice, all in all it was a pretty good event.

The best part was hanging out and getting to know the kids better. They are all awesome. I really enjoy getting to work with this group. I laughed a lot over the weekend and had fun. Here is a funny picture of two of them. Many of the pictures I took are posted on another website. I think eventually the kids will add their pictures too. The address is:

Sorry you have to copy and paste. Blogger doesn't like macs too much... I hope it works and you don't have to have a snapfish account to view it...if so, and you wanna see the pics, email me and I will send you an username and password to use.

Throughout the weekends I would get kids to pose for pictures by saying "Drop them Deuces." Of course what I meant by this was "throw down two fingers in a gang-like fashion." I don't know whom I stole the expression from. Someone. But I used it throughout the weekend. I have learned that slang words and expressions that are used in Nashville aren't necessarily used in Salt Lake. I guess this fact is responsible for the kids never getting that "Drop them Deuces" is also a euphemism for "Go number two!" (as in the bathroom). Sadly, I got immense joy out of this throughout the week. I would say the command, kid's would obey the command, and a bathroom joke behind all of it. I love being 23.

Speaking of going number two, the lavatory on the bus smelled horrible. Well, it smelled horrible on the way to YLC, it smelled deadly on the way back. One boy admitted to dropping them deuces in the lavatory on the way there, but the smell was much worse than that. It was at this mention that one of the guys remembered pouring the remainder of his egg nog down the toilet on the bus. This explained the smell. Rancid.

While the smell was bad, in hindsight it was probably worth it because of all of the conversations and actions that sprang forth because of the smell. Hilarious.

We decided to be proactive in taking care of the smell instead of just sitting idly by and letting the fumes take over. At one of the stops we bought air freshener. It ran out pretty fast. It seemed like a good idea to exorcise the demons that were trapped in the lavatory. The crucifix was made out of air freshener.

After the air freshener was used up, another idea came up. It proved to be the idea that contained the smell enough for us to make it back to Salt Lake. All in all...good weekend!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Well, I have to wake up in about 6 hours to ride on a charter bus for 9 hours with 40 youth tomorrow. I can't wait. Actually, I am looking forward to it.

Everyone should check out the one campaign to make poverty history. You can just click on the banner in the upper right hand of this page. Good cause.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Because you all asked so nicely...

Fry Sauce is a sauce that people here in Utah use to dip their fries in. Since I'm sure you all figured out that much, I guess I will go into more detail.

My first encounter with fry sauce came during my first day of work here at Crossroads. The Executive Director here at Crossroads took me to the Greek restaurant down the street. I ordered my gyro combo with fries and answered the expected questions. "White Sauce or Red Sauce (for the gyro?)" "Fries or Rice?" I nailed these first two questions and was feeling quite confident in my food ordering abilities. Then, I was totally unprepared for the next question. "Do you like fry sauce?" I asked for a repeat. "Do you like fry sauce?" Since the girl taking my order was Greek, it was less a question of if I actually liked it and more of a question of if I wanted it. Thinking that fry sauce was her cute little international way of asking if I wanted ketchup, I answered "Yes."

When the food came I discovered that fry sauce was not, in fact, her cute little international word for ketchup, but it was a creamy sauce for dipping fries. It was tasty, but I was in no way prepared to give up ketchup for this foreign substance. I have had 23 good years with ketchup. The relationship was too important.

I have since found out that fry sauce consists of two parts mayonnaise, one part ketchup, and spices. Different restaurants use different things. A Utah chain, Crown Burgers, adds pickles and makes their fry sauce almost looks like thousand island dressing - but tastes very different. Almost every restaurant in SLC carries fry sauce, my favorite fry sauce coming from the Greek Restuarant where I was first introduced to the heavenly blend of condiments. I go there about once a week...not only for the fry sauce, but that is a big part of why I go sometimes. I don't always get fries, sometimes opting for the tasty rice...their gyro meat is way good.

I hear that fry sauce is kind of a Utah thing, with it not being found much outside of the state. That saddens me. You can buy it in grocery stores. When I bought a bottle, there were two brands. One that I have seen at every grocery store and is popular...even mentioned on the wikipedia posting of fry sauce. It's called "Some Dude's Fry Sauce." The second kind fo fry sauce was a weird brand that I hadn't seen before and haven't seen since. It was on clearance so I bought it, being about half the price. It sucks and I'm stuck with it for now. Oh well. I know to get the "name brand" fry sauce from now on.

As you might can tell I have made the switch, though with some pain and struggle, from ketchup to fry sauce with my fries. It is delicious, and as I said in my previous post, I am very much dreading leaving it behind already. Though I will cherish the time I have with it. And I will probably flirt with the Greek girl who works at my Greek restaurant to extract the recipe of their sauce. It's bien (that's spanish for "good"). I bet you didn't even know I spoke espanol(that's spanish for "spanish").