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Drex's Journal

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Oct 18, 2012 - 10:50 AM
And then there were +2
So we added a boy to the brood on Tuesday afternoon. I'm now the proud and terrified father of two kids under 18 months. He's beautiful, and I'll try to put up a few pics once the dust settles a bit. If you're friends with me on Facebook, I have one or two pics there already (so easy to post pics from a phone on Facebook, if it was that easy here I'd do it here, too).

Currently Playing: Chopin

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Oct 11, 2012 - 12:28 PM
I'm still here, I swear!
So for the past two years I've been on the executive committee for a large annual law and religion symposium. This year's iteration took place over the past week or so, and has consumed my life. We worked the symposium from 7 in the morning to 11 at night (reinforcing my determination to never work 70-80 hour weeks), and I only saw my wife and daughter in the middle of the night, when they were either asleep or mostly asleep.

It was worth it, though. We managed 65 delegates from 40 countries across three days of conference presentations. We collected papers, powerpoints, and outlines, juggled international travel plans, handled every minor crisis that came our way, transported and fed the delegates and all of the other guests (200+ people), coordinated local sightseeing, helped dozens of US-newbies get souvenirs, and sent everyone safely off on their merry little way. It was a good experience and will make a great talking point on my resume, but I am glad to have it (and those ghastly 12-passenger vans) in my rear-view mirror.

And now the grind of focusing on school begins anew.

Currently Playing: BYU Singers - When David Heard (Eric Whitacre)

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Sep 29, 2012 - 12:20 AM
YouTube Video

5 second description of my feelings every Friday as I celebrate being done with class, only to realize the mountain of homework and other obligations still looming over me.

Currently Playing: Loreena McKennitt - Penelope's Song

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Sep 20, 2012 - 11:58 PM
I guess while I'm here
I might as well make record of how life's been going since I last logged in (4 years ago).

I graduated with my BS in psychology. I'm now in my third year of law school, and hopefully I'll be able to find a job back east because my wife and I both really miss the East Coast. We're hoping for Massachusetts, but Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or maybe even Delaware or Maryland would feasibly work, too. I currently work for my university's Center for Conflict Resolution as a caseworker, mediator, and arbitrator. I love alternative dispute resolution, and my goal is to be one of those lawyers that works to keep cases out of court by settling things amicably (and more cheaply) beforehand.

I have a 16-month-old daughter who is the light of my world, and a little boy on the way, due at the end of October. We didn't plan to have them that close together, but we didn't plan for hospital-strength antibiotics to negate the effects of birth control a few weeks after the fact, either.

I miss my friends here at Gamingforce, but I've never been able to successfully pull off a decent presence here while meeting all my responsibilities in real life--and life hasn't gotten any less complicated, to be sure. I just don't have the self control to relegate myself to a few minutes or an hour a day. I get too wrapped up here. So I'll see if I can hang around for a while, but unfortunately no one should be surprised if I disappear again.

Although, if I do make it back east, I hope I'll be able to crash a meet sometime.

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Jan 14, 2008 - 05:37 PM
Yay: P.S. I Love You
I went and saw P.S. I Love You over the weekend. As a story it had some gaps, some pointless characters, some dumb scenes and some things that could have been done better, but the overall movie was fantastic to me.

Keep in mind that, historically, I actually like chick flicks. And a movie that can induce a good, cathartic cry is always appreciated. P.S. I Love You sparked tears more than once. I suppose part of it reached out to me because I was constantly contemplating what life would be like if myself or my wife died and left the other alone at a young age. I could relate to a lot of the issues being brought up in the beginning because I'm living life as a young married person, and some of the things they argued about are things that I think about (but don't necessarily feel the need to throw shoes about). Not knowing what I want to do with my life, wanting someone to walk me through things while still wanting to be independent...a lot of the themes and issues in the movie really resonate with me. Even if I don't have a thing for big, burly Irish men.

I highly recommend the movie to anyone that likes chick flicks, and tentatively recommend it to those who don't, because at least there's fantastic Irish scenery, decent cinematography, and good music. Sure, I had to sacrifice going to see Juno because of it (don't worry, it's still next on my list, hopefully for next week or Martin Luther King day, or something), but it was worth it.

Currently Playing: hustle and bustle of the school food court

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Jan 14, 2008 - 12:52 PM
Holy Crap: Eric Whitacre (Part 2)
Well, color me an official fanboy. I've loved Eric's stuff ever since I first came across it, but meeting him in person and working with him was simply incredible. He's an extremely personable and down-to-earth guy, super nice and self-defacing. He came to our normal rehearsal on Friday (and changed the score on his piece because he thought it would sound better - that was cool) and did a recording session with just the BYU Singers on Friday night, and we worked with him on Saturday.

Before we started recording, he happened to come by where I was sitting, and I got him to autograph one of my CDs. So fanboyish, but worth it. He's a god among men.

Recording in the lobby of an art museum is something else anyway, because the acoustics were really fun. We were situated with the BYU Singers in a 3/4-circle in front and the Concert Choir standing behind them. The song was double choir, so the sound really meshed well, and both choirs maintained the integrity of their parts well, so it sounded really cool. Eric's chords held by 140 singers in a hall with a very wet sound was glorious, and after the first run-through (the first time Eric got to hear all of us together), he just started giggling giddily. He was up on the second floor listening from above, and had nothing but praise for the sound and how everything was coming together. We ran through it three times straight through, then did a few chunks to make sure that we had enough material for them to work with. It took about an hour, all told, and then the Concert Choir was free to go so the BYU Singers could finish up the recordings of three other pieces. I elected to stay around to listen.

They recorded Eric's little birds, Little Tree, and Animal Crackers. He was more hands-on with little birds and Animal Crackers, reworking the interpretation, the speed and the pianists' attack on some sections. I would never have expected a work like Animal Crackers from someone who wrote Sleep and When David Heard, but the humor really worked with the overly dramatic chords and tone, and it was incredible. At the end of the recording session, Eric thanked everyone. He mentioned that because many in the choir had tried their hands at composing they'd understand what he meant when he said that he'd been waiting on some of these songs - fifteen years, in one case - to hear them performed the way that he had intended when he wrote them. I had heard second- or third-hand the respect that he had for Dr. Staheli and the BYU Singers, but now I got to hear it straight from the man himself. He talked about the immense respect he has for the choir and how awed he is by their sound and Staheli's interpretation of his work. He also talked about how coming to BYU feels like coming home to him, because of the rapport he has with Staheli and the choir. Apparently he's coming back in the spring to finish off the recordings, and he's hoping to bring his wife (the acclaimed soloist Hila Plitmann) and son, because they haven't heard BYU Singers on their home turf, so to speak (she heard them perform with Eric in Hawaii a few years back at an ACDA conference).

He's got a brief post on his blog, and he said he'll be posting a few clips from the recording session on YouTube when he gets situated at home again.

It was a priceless experience for me to work with him. I'm constantly touched by his music, and to meet the man was amazing.

Currently Playing: Geoffrey Taucer, Tepid - Golden Fields (Farm Boy)

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Jan 10, 2008 - 06:19 PM
Yay: Eric Whitacre
For those of you who haven't heard of him, Eric Whitacre is a contemporary choral composer who is brilliant. I've gushed about him before, I'm sure.

I go to BYU for school, and the BYU Singers are highly praised by Whitacre. He feels that Dr. Staheli, the director of the choir, really understands his music, and makes unique use of silence. Whitacre took that into account when putting together the BYU Singers-commissioned work When David Heard, arguably my favorite piece of choral music ever conceived.

I have been trying to get into the BYU Singers in large part because they often perform Whitacre works, but as the choir is super-elite I haven't made it in yet (though was called back to auditions this year). This year, however, the Concert Choir (of which I'm a part) is singing the Choir 2 part of Whitacre's work Her Sacred Spirit Soars (lyrics here). On top of that, Eric Whitacre is coming on Friday and Saturday to oversee the recording of the BYU Singers' second Whitacre compilation CD. They recorded the 'official' first compilation of Whitacre's a cappella works a few years back. Now we're recording the follow-up, and I get to meet the man behind this genius. Or the genius behind the genius. Whatever. At any rate, I'm super excited, and the piece is gorgeous. We performed it on Tuesday and got to hear BYU Singers sing 5 of the other songs to be recorded.

If you've never heard Whitacre's work, I highly recommend it. His chords are amazing, his melodies are haunting (more often than not), and the poetry he uses as source material is captivating. He often pulls from Charles Anthony Silvestri and Octavio Paz, both of whose poetry is very melodic and powerful. To me, at least.

Anyway, done gushing from now, though I'll probably gush more after I actually get to meet the guy. :P

Currently Playing: Polyphony - Her Sacred Spirit Soars (we'll sound better than this)

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Jan 4, 2008 - 07:26 PM
Boo: Gold's Gym
Not only were we screwed over, we were dealt with very rudely by Evelyn in their Customer Service department. We threatened to report them to the Better Business Bureau, and she said to go ahead. So we did. Here's the report we filed:

I had a 2-year contract with Gold's Gym. Upon the completion of that time, monthly billing continued and it came to my attention that Gold's Gym was renowned for slipping charges in via unemphasized aspects of the contract.

I called their offices on November 26th to cancel my membership and account. I was advised that if I faxed a cancellation notice by the next day, I would not be charged in the month of December. I sent in the fax and received confirmation that it was received.

The December charge still went through, and since I had not allotted money for the charge, my bank charged additional overdraft fees daily until I noticed, $54 later. I called Gold's Gym to voice my concern, and was rebuffed and told that because the advisement I received did not show in their records, they would honor only what the contract stated, and would neither refund my December charge nor look into my claims. I was rudely dealt with not once, but twice in voicing my claim, and was told that there was nothing I could do to reclaim my money, nor would they do anything to rectify the situation.


To make a long story short: Gold's Gym is dumb. Don't go there. Tell other people not to go there.

Currently Playing: Emeril Live!

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Jan 4, 2008 - 11:52 AM
Boo: Old Navy
For those confused by the title, that's not "Boo!" but rather "Boo." As in "Boo, you whore" from the brilliant movie Mean Girls (much-loved by the gay population at BYU).

I have to rant about Old Navy. They must make it a policy to screw over their better customers, because there's no other reason I can think of for what's gone on.

My wife loves Old Navy. I think 80% of what she owns is either from Old Navy or Gap. She has an Old Navy credit card. Or rather, had, because that's where all the controversy stems from. Well before we were married, she got this Old Navy credit card. She would pay for items with said credit card, and always kept up with her monthly payments. Twice in one year, however, she paid and Old Navy "didn't receive" her payments, charged her a late fee, sent collections after her, and screwed up her credit.

Why she kept the card after two such issues, I don't know. I think perhaps she was too lazy to call them up and cancel. At any rate, they played nice for about 4 years. Then two months ago (November) she got a notice that they hadn't received her monthly payment. We checked our online banking, and the check had already cleared, and a copy was posted showing that it had been received and cashed. Huh. So she called up the Old Navy customer service people and told them that she had sent in the check, that it cleared on such-and-such a date, and that they should check. They assured her that they would take care of it.

Which they did. By sending collections after her again, screwing up her credit (and subsequently mine, this time) again. Royally pissed, she called them up and we had to fax in a copy of the check, explain everything again, and received no promise that things would be taken care of, only that if we weren't lying that they'd see if they could report that it was Old Navy's fault. Fat chance.

Though we haven't quite resolved everything yet, I made my wife cancel her card. They asked if there was anything they could do to keep her on. Because she was on the phone, all she said was "No." I would have told them that they could pay our way to visit their corporate headquarters where we could see their head accountant try to suck his own dick. Then we'd get free punches (or kicks, I'd probably bruise my knuckles) while their CEO held him down. That might work.

The worst part is that I'm sure my wife will continue shopping there, despite her experiences.

Currently Playing: Maroon 5 - Wake Up Call

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Jan 3, 2008 - 01:07 PM
Happy...? New Year
Yesterday was my first day back at work after the holiday. I should have known that that didn't bode well, but I trounced out in the 14 degree cold to my car, a few minutes later than I had planned, my lightly toasted cinnamon crunch bagel with cream cheese in one hand, my lunch in the other. The bagel even steamed in the cold. Mmm. I got out to my car. You know, the one I left for a week and a half under the covered parking while I was back home visiting my parents. I unlocked the car, loaded up my backpack and everything, and climbed into the front seat. I looked up and realized that what was a small rock chip before the break was now a three-pronged, two-foot-wide crack in the windshield. Wondrous. I figure that my insurance might cover it, though, and there's no use agonizing over it when there was nothing I could do about it then. I went to start the car.


I knew I had left very little gas in the car when we went on break. I didn't realize it would be 14 degrees and that the gas would likely freeze in the gas tank. At least, that's what I assumed happened. I figured that I needed some more gas in the car if I wanted to get anything, so I decided to trek to the gas station a block or so from my apartment complex. I called up my boss to explain my predicament, then trudged to the front office of the complex. Maybe they would have a gas can so I could avoid getting one myself.

No such luck. All the golf cart things they use to get around the complex are electric, and they don't keep gas cans around. Oh, well. I walked the quarter mile or whatever to the gas station, glancing over at the Walmart as I passed. I wondered if I should get a gas can from there, but I figured the gas station, so close to the highway off-ramp, would likely carry some, and it would save me the extra time of standing in a Walmart line and everything. I got to the gas station, ears completely frozen, and asked the attendant lady if they had any gas cans. "If we do, they'd be in that back corner, but I think we sold our last one on New Year's Eve. Yup, don't have any more. We get some more in tomorrow, but I don't suppose that would help you."

Double drat.

That's okay, Walmart is not far. I trek back to Walmart, cross the entire store to find the gas can, cross all the way back to pay, walk back to the gas station (replete with frozen ears, again), fill up the gas can, and print the receipt. Or try to. I picked the pump with the broken receipt thinger, so I went back in to talk to the attendant lady. I'd made a new year's resolution to keep track of expenditures and file receipts, and it didn't seem like a good idea to mess that up on day 2. Got my receipt and trodded back to my car at the apartment complex, with frozen ears four times over. Finally figured out the gas can, dumped the 2 gallons of gas into the car, and got on my merry little way, with frozen ears, a chapped nose, and an hour of work lost.

Funny thing is, I was actually in a great mood. The sun was out, the walk was crisp, the attendant was nice, though my ears were cold I had gloves so my hands were warm, and I'm sorta wishing I could be taking a walk right now instead of staying cooped up in my basement workplace. Still have to figure the cracked windshield out, though. Oh, well.

Happy New Year!

Currently Playing: Keane - Untitled 1

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