Wednesday, April 30, 2008

St. George to Moapa

Tuesday, April 29

This morning was a beautiful morning. First off, I slept in to 8am :), then my host family made us the best French toast in the world. It was a very relaxing, come-what-may kind of morning. The sun was shining, there was an ever-so-slight breeze, and in one word it was ideal. :)

Also, all morning Kenny (the father) was telling his son Ian that if he didn't finish his breakfast he couldn't wear his cowboy pants. I thought this was a little weird (Ian's four) but didn't think much of it. Then time came for me to brush my teeth, which meant using Ian's bathroom in his bedroom, where all my bathroom stuff was. In I go and what do I see? Popcorn. Popping on the…haha, couldn't help myself. No, I come in and there's Ian, decked out in not only his cowboy pants, but boots (complete with spurs), a cowboy style button-up shirt, cowboy hat, and rawhide gloves. He's barely 3 feet tall!! I almost died it was so cute. So we brushed our teeth together (male-bonding, I know) and then parted ways.

Later in the car driving back to the bus, Kenny asked me what ethnicity I was, and I answered him that I'm Navajo. Kenny laughed and told me that Ian had been wishing and wishing that when Singers came that he'd get an Indian to sleep in his cowboy bed (apparently he has this Cowboys & Indians fixation), and I inadvertently fulfilled his wish. Considering the chances of having one of the only 2 "Indians" in the choir, Ian had a very lucky day. I now wish that I'd been there to see little Ian's face when his dad told him that I was a real life Indian, and that we brushed our teeth together without one arrow or pistol shot. :) What would Custer have said?

We arrived at Moapa Valley High School around 1 or so and immediately entered the auditorium to do a workshop with the choirs there. The workshop was…educational. We all learned a lot, but it was rather frustrating, and a good reminder to why I am so glad to not be in high school anymore. All be it educational and almost candid, the air after the workshop was less than lovely. In fact, it was rather tense. Our following rehearsal was, consequentially, very frustrating. We weren't staying in tune and began to point fingers and play a blame-game to determine the cause of our problems.

Then Scott Moore had something very enlightening to share. All he said was that we needed to be very forgiving right then and there. All of us were feeding off the negative energy in the rehearsal and giving out more negative energy that was undermining our efforts to have an effective rehearsal. Scott's suggestion really opened up my eyes - I for one was really feeling antagonistic towards the rest of the choir for no reason whatsoever, and once Scott helped me realize this I made a very positive effort to reverse my feelings. Our rehearsal ended on a good note (haha, no pun intended) and we had a great concert tonight.

I'm constantly astounding on tour with the deep friendships we create and the help and support they give us. I was asked to sing a solo tonight in the concert and was absolutely terrified of it. It's more of a baritone solo and although I can do it, I'm not very comfortable in that range. Valerie, an alto and good friend, gave me a little "prep session" before the concert and calmed my nerves, to the point that I gave the best performance of that solo I've given. Afterwards everyone was so supportive and forward in complimenting and congratulating me, which, unbeknownst to them, I really needed. What an opportunity to be in a group where everyone builds everyone up without hopes of reimbursement or payment of any kind, and most of the time without even knowing they're doing it. :)

Tonight we ended the night in the home of the Waite Family. Brother and Sister Waite (Lanny and Maxine) have 4 children, 3 of which are married with their own families. We never met their youngest son who lives at home. I think he avoided us. Lanny is an attorney in Las Vegas and is also the Justice of the Peace here in Moapa. Apparently in towns of less than 30,000 or 100,000 or something like that the Justice of the Peace is just elected by popular vote, without the need of a specialized degree (or any for that matter). And as far as I know Maxine just held the fort down, which she did very well. We had a great conversation about medicine, law, religion, insurance companies, etc. before going to bed, which is where I am now. And I'm falling asleep, so good night :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

First night

Monday, April 28

These next couple weeks I'm going to be showing pictures and writing about events from the BYU Singers 2008 Tour to Nevada and Southern California.
Ben and I are going with the other 40-or-so members of Singers. Actually, right now I'm sitting in Moapa, Nevada (thriving metropolis…) in the Moapa Valley High School band room typing this out. But here goes.

Yesterday we finished cleaning in the morning for cleaning checks that were this morning, but only my cousin was there. Either way, we left him all alone for a few days with this completely full refrigerator.

Hopefully he'll eat all the extra food :) (which means all of it, haha) After cleaning the rest of the apartment, we joined up with Singers in the Museum of Art parking lot and hit the road at 12pm in a big bus.

Now, normally I'm not a fan of sitting on a bus forever, but with this group of people things are a bit different. We have so much fun while we're together and build off each other's fun and joviality. However, on the bus we go by some rules:

1. NO SINGING on the bus. This is the first and foremost rule that is never bent for anyone. We may be a choir, but there's a time and place for everything. And a bus is NOT the place.

2. Respect quiet time.

You know, there are more but I can't remember them. But those two alone make the bus a much more enjoyable place. Which is what it has to be with so much time spent on it. Yesterday was a long trip - 4 hours to St. George. So, 4 hours later, we pulled into the red-rock city and went to the Cox's house for dinner. And oh. my. gosh. That house was HUMUNGOUS. I want to put up pictures, but they're all too big, so some day in the future I'll put the pictures up.

We had a fireside that night in St. George, where we saw the Abraham family after 6 years (maybe 7). They came to the concert and we went ahead and took a picture with them. All of them but their second oldest, Nick, was in the picture (he escaped with other young men in the stake). It was nice seeing them again. :)

That night we stayed with the Miller Family (Kenny and Stacy) and their two boys (Mason and Ian). Their neighbors came over across the street with Ben Peterson and Brent Rogers (also in Singers) and we had a fun time laughing and talking over ice cream till about 11pm, when the neighbors and the two guys left to the other house and we all went to bed. I got Ian's bed, which looked like it would have fit Woody from Toy Story perfectly. He also had a glorified rocking horse and tons of cowboy paraphernalia throughout the room. It was entertaining as I fell asleep texting my sister Devan through the night. :)

On tour

Here I am on tour with the choir, and I've been keeping up with blog entries on my laptop, but I haven't had the internet to plug my computer into and load up those pages (OneNote). So, I'm writing this quickly to pacify those looking to see what's happening. I'll hopefully have something up this afternoon. :) I'll have more soon!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

book tag/movie quote contest

So this is from my sister Courtney. Ok, grab the book closest to you and open to page 123 (if there aren't 123 pages get a bigger book) and read the 5th sentence on the page. Now post the sentence. Courtney's was actually pretty in-depth, in it's own little way. Mine is completely random. Here it is, from the textbook Aproximaciones al estudio de la literatura hispánica, from the story San Manuel Bueno, mártir. Ready for this? Here goes:
"¡Esta terrible pesadilla!"

The story is like 24 pages long in this textbook, so I don't think I'm gonna read it to explain it.

...what was that?

Textbooks aren't allowed?

Hmm...well, here's another close book.

"Put your Iron Boots on (set them so you press
[down] to access them on and off), then press A
to catch the Goron, and throw him off the barricade!"

Oh, yeah. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - PRIMA Official Game Guide. It's Ben's, not mine. Just setting that straight. Ben's been playing this a lot lately, now that classes are over and we're in finals week. Haha, you'd think...

Movie quote time.

Fake scientist: It's a yenaglotchi [sic]. It's the Navajo version of a...
Crow: Poodle!

Haha, I don't know how many people will get the quote. Ben will, definitely, and Courtney should, too. It's one of my favorite movies. :)

So there you have it! Don't everybody start doing it at once, now, ya hear? Actually I don't really care if people do it or don't. But it would be interesting.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I'm professional

Tonight I just had another lesson with my voice student, Alex. Can you believe it?!? I'm actually giving lessons! Teaching somebody something that they want to know that I know about! Haha! It's like I'm an adult or responsible or something. Who'd of thunk? No really, I've been teaching 2 students since the beginning of January, and it's been an eye-opening experience. I don't consider myself that well educated in the arena of vocal pedagogy, but I guess I can help others to start learning how their voices work and how to get the best sound out of them without any nasty side effects that self-teaching can bring about. It's for a class I'm taking so it would be unethical to charge them, so they're free lessons. But before you start grabbing your phones, I'm not giving away lessons anymore - I hope to (somehow) get a little studio going over this summer to increase my income a bit. Just another to add on top of my schedule.

But hey, it's fun :)

Diabetes Mellitus Type 2

As a premed student I'm in the coolest class in the world: physiology. I sincerely apologize to all you who are unfortunate to not enjoy the glory that is the systems of the human body. Since we're at the end of the course, I've already had an introduction to the circulatory system, respiratory system, neurology, digestion, urinary, etc.

Right now we're studying endocrinology, and something struck a chord in me today in class (not many noticed, thank goodness). We were discussing the pancreas and diabetes and the differences between Type I and Type II diabetes mellitus. Type I is when a persons body doesn't produce insulin for one reason or another, and requires insulin injections in order for the individual to survive. Type II occurs when an individual's body becomes resistant to its own insulin, which can occur for myriad reasons, but one of most rising causes is obesity.

First of all, out of all North American cases of diabetes 90-95% of them are type II diabetes. Throughout the world it varies, of course, due to environmental and lifestyle differences, but obesity is a definite factor, along with less-active lifestyles, high cholesterol, etc. There are about 150 million people affected with diabetes in the world, and that number is expected to double by 2025. It's increase is so rapid that the CDC has labeled diabetes as an epidemic. And the thing about type II is that often (not always) it can be managed through exercise and modifying one's diet.

That got me to thinking. Because I'm Navajo, I researched into the prevalence of diabetes on the Navajo Nation, since heard so much of it growing up in reference to the Navajos, and found (here) that as of 1997 on the rez 22.9% of people over 20 years old have diabetes mellitus, 4 times higher than the U.S. estimate. That's almost one out of every 4 people! And even more shocking is that 70 years ago diabetes mellitus was considered a rare phenomenon among the Navajo Indians. The number may be higher considering that report was done over 10 years ago.

What I finally came up with is that I'd better start hitting the gym and getting back into shape. Already for years I've had to watch what I eat (sometimes with my eyes half-closed) because weight sticks to me more than my non-Navajo friends, but this news gives me more of an incentive to get into shape. Being in shape is one of those things that everybody would love to be, but it's seen as a luxury in some places. I think I've been of that sentiment lately because of school and work and general socializing, but I'm thinking that my priorities need to shift a bit. I'll post a pick when I look like this guy.

Haha. Or not.

First of (hopefully) many

Peer pressure is a term describing the pressure exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change their attitude, behavior and/or morals to conform to, for example, the group's actions, fashion sense, taste in music and television, or outlook on life. Social groups affected include membership groups, when the individual is "formally" a member (for example, a political party or trade union), and social clicks. A person affected by peer pressure may, or may not want to belong to these groups. They may also recognize dissociative groups with which they would not wish to associate, and thus they behave adversely concerning that group's behaviors. Most people who smoke say that they started or continued because of peer pressure. (Wikipedia)

Yes, peer pressure. That's a big factor into this post, but you know what - I'm gonna do it. So, here's the first of many that hopefully won't be too dull for the audience (whoever you are)