Friday, July 30, 2010

Miss Rodeo Utah 2010

Marti won!

There are a lot of things I could say right now. I could give you a run down of the whole week. Or talk about how much work went into getting to this point. Or tell you about the emotional highs and lows along the way.


All I really have to say is this very important lesson that I learned from my little sister (and best friend):

If you dream about something, and you put your heart into it and work at it as hard as you can, your dream will come true.

Picture from Captured Moment Photography

Monday, July 12, 2010


I have done two productive things today:
1. Went to the eye doctor.
2. Emailed some teaching stuff to my book club friend, Kat.

I have one more productive thing planned:
3. Drive to the high school. Hang up all my cool new posters. Try to be excited and not dismayed by the abundance of sinks in my classroom. I have two. I don't even need one. Meh.

Anyway, that's about as good as it gets for today. To find the documents for Kat, I had to dig through some old documents, and I found some interesting things I wrote forever ago. The following is an excerpt from a research paper I wrote in 11th grade. I'm posting it here because I was so incredibly passionate about this topic. I think that's amazing. We all need more passion in our lives.

Homelessness: America Keeps Dreaming

Millions of people across the nation are seeking after the elusive, yet
ever-present “American Dream.” While there are many ways to define the
American Dream, there is one prescribed way to achieve it: hard work. It
is also estimated that there are nearly three million homeless people in the
United States. Although they are often seen as indolent good for nothings,
the fact is that nearly 2.8 million of them have jobs. These people are
referred to as the “working poor.” Nearly one third of the homeless
population is families with children. The typical image of a lazy,
middle-aged man sitting on a street corner is simply not true. In fact,
homeless people are sometimes called the “invisible poor” because it’s often
hard to tell that someone is homeless. This is because they may lead
seemingly normal lives. Americans use the stereotypical images of the
homeless to shift the failure from society as a whole to individual

Many people complain of the homeless expecting handouts and getting aid that
they have not earned. Unfortunately, many homeless people who have at
least one job miss out on government programs that should benefit them. It
is not unusual for a person to make a fractional amount too much to receive
government aid. The question then arises, if today’s society is only
willing to help those who help themselves, why don’t they? This moralistic
stinginess will not help those who are doing all in their power to provide for

Homelessness strikes without discrimination to race, age, sex, or of marital, or
familial status. So, it is completely incredulous to associate
homelessness with any particular group of people. Assumptions about who
the homeless build walls that keep people from understanding each
other. Many people insist that they see only alcoholics, drug users, and
mentally ill people at the root of homelessness. It is unfortunate that
they fail to see the children who sleep in corners of dark alleys, the mother
who works two or more full-time jobs, or the man who must go without so that his
family may eat. These are the

The fact is most of society sees the homeless as the blotch on America’s nearly
perfect complexion. Isn’t homelessness, after all, the simple, yet
undeniable, proof that the American Dream has not been realized? Americans
do not want to believe that hard work cannot amount to success.
Homelessness goes against the grain of American morals and ideals. Cheryl
Gorder, author of Homeless!, said “A home means we accept the mainstream values
of American life. It says that we are acceptable. To be without a
home makes people question your very right to exist. To be without a home
is unacceptable.” Indeed, it seems that homelessness is downright

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Predator Day

Mike and I are always on the hunt for fun things to do. One day, he came across the Predator Breakfast at the Hogle Zoo.
The description:"From birds of prey to leopards, learn what some of the animals are having for breakfast at the Zoo while you enjoy your own breakfast. Meet some animal friends up close and make a treat for an animal friend."
Okay. How awesome does that sound? We get to see predators eat (close up!), and we get breakfast, and a treat for an animal friend! All for about twice the entrance fee, but we thought it sounded totally worth it. Unfortunately...
The reality: We arrived at the Edzoocation Center all ready for our day at the zoo, and for breakfast. There were mostly kids there, but we had expected that. Our zoo-ranger-tour guide introduced herself and invited us to get our breakfasts and get ready for the first presentation. Hooray!
And then we got to the table. Good thing we don't have some diabetes or something, because all they had were (not at all good) sugary little pastries, apples, juice, and like 10 slices of cantaloupe. It was too early for that much sugar. "But, hey," we thought, "we're really here for the predator coolness."
I still think predators are probably pretty cool. But you know what's not the coolest way to learn about them? PowerPoints. Not that exciting.
Luckily, we got to make treats for an animal friend during PowerPoint time. But not zoo friends. At home animal friends. And we don't have any of those, so I made Mike a bracelet. "Still," we reassured each other, "there's still the animal feeding part. That will be worth it."
It was finally time to go see a real life predator eat it's real life breakfast. At exactly this point, the zoo ranger mentions that our tickets did not include entry to the zoo (which we had naturally assumed) except for the animal feeding. Nowhere had this been mentioned before. Not on the website, the tickets, the first part of the breakfast. And we paid a lot of money for that. We were grumpy, to say the least, as we trudged along to the wolf den.
While we were there we got to see two wolves eat some liver out of a box. It was pretty cool. Not voraciously awesome or anything. More like, a big dog happily eating a treat cool. But, hey, wolves eating raw liver was something.
When we got back to the edzoocation center, we were a little peeved that we had paid double and gotten just about none of the things we had expected. If we paid the admission fee on top of what we had already paid, we would be close to $50... and that seemed a bit absurd. We ended up talking to guest services, and that smooth talking (good looking!) Mike got us into the zoo after all (for no additional fee), and that was great because the rest of the zoo trip was super fun.
One of my favorite stops was to see the elephants. We caught the end of a little training show and then we got to see the baby elephant. It was adorable.
We thought it was pretty neat that the giraffes stood right next to the doorway so we could tell that they are exactly 14 feet tall.
I learned an important fact about penguins. They are only found in the southern hemisphere. Not in Alaska at all. So, they don't actually frolic about with polar bears drinking Coca Cola. In other bird news, we went to this amazing bird show. The trainer has the birds do tricks and swoop right over your heads. We were so enthralled we didn't even think of taking pictures.

These drinking fountains give me the biggest kick. Best idea ever.

Despite the initial setback of the Predator Breakfast being kind of lame and making us sad...
... it ended up being a really fun day!