Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fireflies!

So, one of my good friends was telling me that Texas, in her eyes, still conjures up images of the old west, with the blowing dust and cowboys and cactus. And yes, there are parts of Texas that fulfill that description. Most of western Texas, actually. But there's a reason that all of the major cities of Texas are not in west Texas: Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. Those 4 cities combine to over 15.3 million people of the total population of 23.9 for Texas. But I digress. ;)


In response to my friend's curiosity and lack of Texas experience (for which she is forgiven) I ventured forth with my family and camera to a park quite close to our house. I was taking pictures of the vegetation and general splendor (name the movie!) when we suddenly noticed an abnormal amount of fireflies emerging. It was around dusk and getting darker by the minute, and more and more fireflies were coming out of the grass. It got to the point that the ground for acres around looked like it was covered in Christmas lights, but lights that rose up from the ground to about 18" or so then went out. Over and over again. It was like some weird sci-fi video game or something. And I have to say, I was mature enough to even refrain from blushing while watching the mating rituals of thousands of hormone-driven male fireflies. Indeed, I daresay I found the sight rather beautiful. :)


So, what was I to do with a camera in my hand but take videos and ill-fated pictures of the crepuscular insects. The pictures turned out rather uninspiring, but a couple videos captured a small degree of what we were actually seeing. Here's one of them.

video

(In the video Mom says we have to leave because Dad's getting bit by mosquitos, to which I replied that it's because he's white. Now you can understand the following paragraph) I mention Dad being white because on my mission in Costa Rica I noticed that my white American companions would get at least 5x the mosquito bites that I got, if I got any. The locals supported my observations with further attestations of "sweeter white blood," though the actual difference in sugar content remains to be seen or observed. But, in line with my observations, Dad gets many more mosquito bites than I do, and in the short video he's making a retreat to the car and Mom's calling us to follow. Poor man ;)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

T minus 5...4...3...2...1...MCAT

AAAA! It's one day away! I've been doing practice tests and studying for hours on end to recall everything I've learned and put it at the tip of my brain, and now it's time to just take it easy before the test.

Take it easy?!?

By the way, yesterday I toured the TCOM campus (Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine) here in Fort Worth at the University of North Texas Health Science Center and really, really enjoyed the tour and one-on-one conversation with the Director of Admissions. Yeah, friends in high places, hehe. We're buds now. After touring and talking, my dad (who graduated from there and accompanied me) and I went to see one of his good friends who's also on the Admissions Board. He's agreed to let me shadow him for about a week or so (maybe a bit more), which will put my shadowing hours above 40 hours. Not bad for a premed student, I think. One thing he said, and my dad, and the Director of Admissions: I've been banned from studying or reviewing anything about the MCAT today, the day before the test. I had to basically swear a solemn oath that I wouldn't do it.

This is where trust comes into play.

All day I've been fighting the urge to look up formulas, review body systems, and do a few problems about light and optics. I even woke up reciting a physics equation in my mind. (maybe that's not such a good thing...) My whole scientific self is imploring me to study more, to get as much in as possible, to review everything I know and keep it in the topsoil of my brain, but those who have traversed the evil which faces me now suggest the opposite.

So, despite my logical arguments and feelings of shooting myself in the foot, I'm going to take their advice. Actually, I'm doing it now, taking time to write in my blog, listening to a mix of Daughtry, Regina Spektor, Imogen Heap, Sara Bareilles, and others. I'll be watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this afternoon, probably start reading a good book, maybe cook something.

And I have to say - it's terribly relaxing. Maybe I'll make myself a smoothie, spray on some Off, sit in a beach chair by our green algae-infested pool, and just...listen. Listen to the wind in the trees, smell the green (plants and pool), hear the squirrels' near death encounters with octogenarian drivers, and let all my studying just sink in. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Well, that's where you may find me today.

Jealous? ;)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Triskadecathon

Ok, forgive me for writing two posts back to back, but I've been away from the blog for awhile and need to catch up.
Triskadecathon

Somehow in Greek that comes across as a 13 mile run. Yes, folks, a run. I'm going to run 13 miles. And not just any 13 miles. No. Nor just 13 miles. A true half-Marathon, 13.1 miles!! This awe-inspiring and jawdropping event will take place on the beautiful Saturday of September 13, 2008, near Price, Utah. It's supposedly this gorgeous area known as the Little Grand Canyon (if anybody wants to sign up with me, please do :)) Here's a link for the lowdown of this wonderful occurrence.
So you may ask, how did such a ludicrous idea pop into Anthony's head? Well, here's the scoop. There was this one time, long ago, when I actually enjoyed running. I would come home from a group dinner, do a little homework, then feel the prying eyes of my running shoes peering at me from within my closet. 3 times a week I would run about 3 miles. Now, as any sane individual who knows me knows, this didn't last long. Only about 4 months or so. BUT, it happened, and I want to bring that back.

Last Labor Day weekend you would have found me in sunny southern California rooting on 4 of my friends during the last leg of the Disney Land 1/2 Marathon. While there as a spectator I felt all the excitement and energy from the runners and their family/friends and decided that at least once in my life I wanted to run a 1/2 marathon. My hope was that it would be the disney one, but alas, this year it's on a Sunday. And the day before school starts. But heaven smiled upon me (and other friends who are accompanying me) and I found the Little Grand Canyon 1/2 Marathon.

So, if any brave souls wish to run with me this summer (or point and laugh - you won't be first though. Ben beat you to the punch) just let me know. :)

Calm before the storm

I've been home now for 10 days.

The MCAT is in 3 days.

Yeah.

Last week I studied some more, but not as much as I had hoped for. I did a lot of physics review, which was desperately needed, but didn't get the practice tests in as I wanted. However, there was a lot I did do.

Last week was the only week that both Ben and I were here together with our Dad for this whole summer, so there was a lot of things planned. We played frisbee golf all morning one morning, went shooting (shotguns) all afternoon another day, shot pistols all morning another day, mixed and poured concrete for our front walkway another morning, went and saw movies one afternoon, played racquetball one evening, etc. My hands were full. And I felt that I should really take the time to enjoy the company of the only guys in our family for the only week we'd be spending together at home.

Well, Ben left to FSU in Tallahassee on Sunday morning for a month long Law Program there, and things have really slowed down. Dad's off at work, my sisters are still in school, Mom's running errands, and I'm left to...STUDY!! Yes, study my brains out. And it's not really like studying, but reviewing. Studying new material at this point isn't going to do you much good. I took a full length practice yesterday (again) and will take another one in a couple hours. I'm feeling confident yet very nervous. I hate that.

It's like giving a talk for me (which I did this last Sunday). You would think that as a Vocal Performance major I'd be able to get in front a group of people, open my mouth, and get used to it, right? Haha, au contraire. I get very anxious, my palms sweat, my knees shake; oh, it's bad. So I feel that I'm approaching that point in slow motion with the MCAT coming up. I haven't started shaking or sweating or anything, but I have begun to get nervous. Ugh.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tour in a nutshell

So I thought I'd be able to keep a blog on tour... That was a joke, haha, fat chance. First off I didn't have the internet most of the time, so I'd try to keep something on my computer then copy it later, but that wasn't working right with the fonts and stuff (look below), so I just kind of forgot about it. It did make my life a lot easier. :) But here's the quick recap:

Tour was, like always, incredible. We stayed with awesome families, some with full families, others just an elderly couple, but they all had wonderful insights and views of life that influenced me. There were a few in particular: the McDermot (sp?) Family in Rancho Cucamonga taught me how life is too precious a gift to be serious all the time. Yes, be responsible, but for pete's sake, have fun with life (but be responsible). The Hobbs in Palmdale basically lived off of a healthy dose of sarcasm that was hilarious and worked well with the family. Sister Wood (??) in Mesquite was an incredible example of the importance of geneology. There were many.

Our concerts and firesides were wonderful too, even if there weren't many people at some of them. Our tour motto was "You can be for them." And we were the right people at the right time for some of those people. The most memorable for me was not in a concert or a fireside, but rather at the City of Hope in Duarte, California, where we put on a short presentation. We sang for about 15 minutes or so, then just went out to mingle with the patients there. After 20 minutes or so of that Dr. Staheli (our conductor) began rounding up the choir back into the bus. I was chatting in Spanish with a woman from Guatemala who was there with her friend, an elderly woman from Finland, who was speaking Finnish to our quasi-Finnish choir member Brent. Well, those of us who were there decided to sing for her our one-and-only piece in Finnish, and only the first verse. It was wonderful and made her cry. She let us know that her grandmother was a friend of the composer, that she loved the music, and was all smiles despite her medical condition. Brent later told us that the last verse ends with "Behold the bliss of vanishing life." I started crying right there...

The rest of tour was just wonderful, of course. We ended in Las Vegas and that night had fun with other choir members on the strip. We didn't want Dr. Staheli to know, because he'd probably veto a late night excursion, so we went in "secret". Except that we ran into at least half the choir around the Bellagio, so...great secret. But it was a blast. :) Especially that huge keyboard on the floor at FAO Schwartz. That thing + music majors = very embarrassing moment. We did have a few sonatas going well, though, before it closed...

The next morning all the choir headed back to Provo in the bus (6 hours, gag), but Ben and I boarded a less-than-3 hour flight to Fort Worth, Texas and got home just in time to celebrate Mom's birthday (May 10).

It was a great 2 weeks :)