Tuesday, December 07, 2010

En la Onda

Social media: a fad or a revolution?

As always, take the statistics with a grain of salt as to source and bias, but overall this video is very fascinating!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Roller Coasters

I remember as a little girl going to Lagoon and my dad never going on the rollercoasters because they made him "toss his cookies." Now at amusement parks, I feel the same stomach-churning sensation on these loop-da-loops... so as a grown up, we're supposed to not be on these rollercoasters, but why then as I feel I am on the cusp of my "grown-up" life do I feel like I am on this continual roller coaster? Starting in August, I was at a high coming home from a life-changing China experience, then the realization of officially graduating, Grandma's death, and such took me to a low. September: low to high. October: chicken-with-my-head-cut-off mostly highs. November: high high to low low. It seems I've run the gamut the past few months. Lest you think I'm becoming a manic depressive, don't worry, I'm just trying to navigate this "most exciting time of my life." :)
So I set off on a job exploration/soul-searching week of fun in DC. Exactly what I needed. To share some of the fun highlights, a few pictures:

So beautiful.

Merry Christmas from the White House!

Christmas display at the Botanical Gardens

As I reflect on my figurative fork in the road, I realize how blessed I am. With a solid foundation of faith, family, and friends how could I possibly be better set up for this ride? In this season of Thanksgiving and Salvation, I feel incredibly grateful. So here's to enjoying the ride and plenty of dramamine to settle the stomach :)

P.S. If it seems like my head is in the clouds.... it is. Being able to blog from 30,000 is totally increasing my productivity.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Christmas Came Early this Year :)

I'm happy to report Election Day went well yesterday! I always love watching the results come in, but this year I have expanded gratitude for the democratic republic I am privileged to enjoy citizenship in. Is it perfect? Certainly not, but I believe in its greatness and Election Day, for the most part, usually reaffirms that.

Now... to clean my car. Does anyone have any tips for deodorizing? It smells like an industrial print house from signs, mailers, and tshirts.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

7 days!!!!! Just sayin'

Since it's Christmasesque weather (really?! seriously?!) and I started listening to The Forgotten Carols on Sunday, my Christmas wish is that one week from now I am leaving a fabulous victory party :) Then I wish that I get to sleep for a long time the next day... and if I've really been a good girl, that my car gets magically cleared of all the logo-covered debris that currently occupies nearly every square inch!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

For the Beauty of the Earth...

Isn't fall spectacular?! I've had a couple opportunities to explore this colorful season this week and what strikes me most is that while I have been so lucky the past few years to see some amazing things, even more than the world's wonders, what never ceases to amaze me is the natural beauty everywhere.

Where it's at:
Nanputuo Temple, China
(moss growing on rocks) Hong Kong
Cotswalds, England
Cherry Blossoms on the National Mall, DC
Guilin, China
Reed Flute Cave, China
Xiamen, China
Mueller Park, UT
Watkins Glen, NY
Monticello, VA
Bryce Canyon, UT

Sunday, October 03, 2010


Legacy. To me, the word initially conjured images of baseball legends and leaders of societal movements. I recently finished Glenn Beck's new novel, The Overton Window (I need to stop with the doomsday books and movies!) which I found very thought provoking. One of the takeaways was a contemplation of an older character who ironically was plotting to overthrow the American societal order and move it toward a powercentric, contrived order. While his end is not one I condone, his realization that despite all the money and power he had earned, the only things that are really important are his time and his legacy was interesting.

For my Grandma Ossmen's funeral, we had a service largely based around music, as it was one of my Grandma's loves/ joys. During and since the funeral, I have pondered how I consider music to be my Grandma's legacy to me because my learning to play the piano and participation in singing groups all my young life, I believe, are directly attributable to her love for and participation in music.

Over the past very busy campaign month, I have found myself resorting to playing the piano and quilting for brief relaxing moments of reprieve. Quilting is another legacy left to me, this one by my Grandma Selin. Her entrepreneurship in quilting brought an art back to not only a lot of people in the Atlanta region, but my dad's extended family as well... and me. I remember trips to Grandma's quilt shop in Stone Mountain since I was very young and remember picking out the fabric for my first "big" quilt with her.

Legacy is an interesting concept. It is awe-inspiring to think of all the things in my life that are directly attributable to my ancestors, forebears, or even peers. It's a significant part-- if not the majority-- of who I am. It's so fascinating to think that so much of who we are comes from where we come from. And thinking to the future, no pressure as to what you [or I] will leave :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Funny :)

Have you read Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High? Good book.
And sage advice :)

Thanks, Jasen!

Monday, September 27, 2010

For Your Pondering

"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" T.S. Eliot

I came across this quote this morning. Interesting, poignant thought.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Last week I crossed one more state off of my list of states I have been to: Florida! I had a wonderful trip with Michelle and Melaina. And Florida is a great place-- Governor Charlie Crist, no income tax, a good percentage of humidity (in Sept at least), and gorgeous coasts-- yep, I could get used to that!

We had a fun-packed vacation with two days at Disneyworld, one day at SeaWorld's Aquatica, one day at Clearwater Beach, and one day of shopping-- perfect vacation mix.

Here are some picture highlights:

Clearwater Beach is just beautiful. The blue, blue water and white sand are great. Little wonder it is ranked America's best beach. We had fun exploring the boardwalk in John's Pass too.

Magic Kingdom was adorably decorated for Halloween. Michelle and Melaina at the entrance.

Epcot is my definite favorito! I loved the country exhibits. And the fireworks show, which definitely helped me compensate for a fireworks-less 4th of July this year.

SeaWorld's Aquatica waterpark is so, so fun! This is us in front of the dolphin tank that has clear waterslides that go through it. If only I wasn't screaming with my eyes shut during that part of the slide, I might have seen them :)

"I look once more, just around the Riverbend." We met Pocahontas, and that song was stuck in my head for the rest of the day :) All part of the Disney spirit.

At the Orlando Airport after just arriving in Florida around midnight. It was late and we were excited.

Epcot took me back to China! Only in this China, I could still have my cell phone-- halelujia! And it smelled better sans stinky tofu.

This just never gets old!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Abundantly Creative

Lately my desire to be like Amy Atlas has been piqued even further (Rach, I blame/credit you for introducing the blog to me first) :) Maybe this is sufficient cause to change my career path? If it means going back to school, yes please :) I've been so happy lately to get to do a couple creative things. First was Amber's bridal shower. I pulled some inspirations from the Amy Atlas site and overall was pleased with how it all came together-- it wasn't exactly what I envisioned, but really does anything ever turn out that way?
Then last weekend, Zan invited me to for a girls' night and taught me how to use fondant. I've wanted to learn for so long. And the chance to learn from Zan, whom I credit with being my first baking teacher way back in Heritage, was even better. Here is our cake that we created. I use the term "cake" loosely becauase it's actually only about 2/5 actual cake.

(that may or may not be a measuring cup serving as a cake prop... Zan's genius idea!)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Mei Guo was my name

Once upon a time I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime and headed to China. I've shared most my Hong Kong adventures-- which was fabulous and my favorite city visited in Asia. The part I didn't get to (and my favorite experience) is when we were invited to lunch at Asia Area President Perkin's home. The view of the bay was incredibly beautiful, but talking to President Perkins and hearing about the Church's work in Asia was even better.

After Hong Kong, we flew to Shanghai and experienced the 2010 World Expo and the downtown area.
Then the study abroad part started. We lived in Xiamen-- an island in southern Fujian province across the bay from Taiwan. We attended Xiamen University, learning about performance measurement and Chinese government history and structure. We also spent nearly every weekend of two months traveling around China with adventures to Nanjing, Suzhou, Guilin, Yanshuo, Tulou, Xi'an, Wuyishan, and Beijing. We had so many fun experiences; I will share some of my favorites through pictures:

China has an amazing history. I thoroughly loved learning about it, yet still have a lot more to discover. We were able to see a lot of the places that served as the government centers including Nanjing and Beijing. (this is at Tiananmen Square)

Go figure there are a whole lot of Chinese people in China. And we stuck out like nobody's business. We got so many requests for pictures that I'm certain if we had charged 10 yuan per picture, we could have funded someone's China trip :)

We took two sleeper train rides through the country and saw beautiful vistas like this rice patty out of our windows for much of it!

Wow. That' s how I would sum up the terra cotta warriors. The portion that has been unearthed is amazing itself, but did you know that this is a mere fraction of what experts believe Emperor Qin Shi Huang's complete tomb consists of? It's incredible to fathom.

These wonders of the world were just as their status indicates-- awe inspiring. The Great Wall of China definitely qualifies. It is so much steeper and taller than I imagined, as well as in much more rugged terrain as it scales very steep hills. It is awesome to imagine how it was built hundreds of years ago-- all 3,000+ miles of it!

Aside from bedbugs (which we unfortunately experienced), cicadas were the insect bane of my existence. They were so prevelent in Xiamen that there was always a constant hum. Luckily, Chinese women have the custom of carrying umbrellas and that was useful to shield the mystery drips from the trees. On their backs is how I wanted to forever remember them :)

China is a beautiful country and one of the most naturally beautiful places I have ever seen is Guilin. It was once underwater, which formed the amazing mountains. We took a cruise down the Li River and got to take in this gorgeousness for 4 incredible hours.

The food was... interesting. We definitely all had bouts with everything that can be categorized as "stomach problems." This is Jennica, Heather C, and I in front of a restaurant-- not an aquarium as you may have thought. Our foot-high ice cream cones is more of a tourist fare on Gulang Yu, but I thought the combo was a good one.
I thought the food merited two pictures. Any guesses to what is on this plate? At first we thought some creature from the sea, but alas, it is a platter of duck tongues. No need to even ask-- heck no I did not try it!

We had some great tongxues (classmates) at Xiamen Da Xue! This is my project team: Talia, Sweety, me, and Juliette. We had a lot of fun outside of class too with movie nights, KTV, and learning Tai Chi.

We literally pretty much lived on the beach. While it's not one you would probably opt to swim in, it was gorgeous and we enjoyed many a walk and tandem bike ride along the boardwalk.

In sum, I am so happy to have had this chance of a lifetime! Who'd have ever thought I would go to China-- not me! My time there definitely broadened my perspective of the world and I have a new appreciation for my Mei Guo life.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chi Guai (That's Weird)

Day 4: We still have not ever taken a watch with us on any of our adventures (which has been kind of liberating when not stressing about not knowing what time it is), but we’re having the time of our lives. So, today we got into the elevator and a Chinese couple made fun of us thinking we couldn’t understand them and they were right…..about three of us. Sarah turned to them and asked them in Chinese where they were from. :) Their jaws dropped a little bit, it was pretty funny!

Then we walked to the Hong Kong Temple from our hotel. It is closed for cleaning until tomorrow, but it was neat to walk around the grounds and enjoy the courtyard (Jerusalem courtyard-ish feeling). It was a nice 45-minute walk up Waterloo Road. It was neat to see the road change from busy markets to more of a residential and school zone. The temple was beautiful!! It seems different to me than the official church picture-- much smaller and a little different color-- but it is gorgeous. We also saw the stake center/ chapel being built across the street. It is supposed to be done and dedicated within the next couple weeks.

Then we went to a massive monastery with 10,000 Bhudda statues. It was pretty amazing. We walked up about 1,000 steps (again in the humidity). There were so many life-size Bhuddas lining the walkway. Some looked like Satan, some like Dumbledore, some like Magellan, some with very distinct Indian flare. We went to a whole bunch of different courtyards, saw lots of burning incense, gifts of fruit, etc. One room up at the very top had at least 10,000 small Bhuddas just in one room. They were doing construction at the top so we had to go down to hike all the way back up to another area. We also saw a family of monkeys jumping off a hut into a tree (pretty sure this is my first time seeing a monkey not in captivity-- pretty cool). It was HOT! We tried to hike up to a cemetery up at the top of the hill, but it got a little jungly and slippery and muddy. We didn’t see any other tourists at all and thought it would be best to turn around.

There was a mall near the metro stop, so we got McDonalds soft serve ice cream cones. They have never tasted more delicious. We have stopped at home to refresh from the hot day and then our plan is to go see the lights of the city and the light show across the Hong Kong Harbor tonight!

Pictures from the first few days

Hiking down Victoria Peak. Humid.
Foggy view from Victoria Peak.

Heading to church. Seth, me, Sarah, Heather. Had to get a picture before getting all sweaty gross.

Heather and Seth in Kowloon Park (kinda like Central Park)

Hong Kong Harbor from Kowloon side

Me and Seth having a little fun in Vancouver Airport

Whole gang on Vncouver subway. Me, Sarah, Seth, Heather

Seattle was fantastic-- I could totally live there. Seth, me, Sarah near Pike's Place Market.

Nihao from Hong Kong!

Just want to let you know I arrived safely in Hong Kong. We had fantastic stopovers in Seattle and Vancouver with whirlwind tours of both cities. It was a long day. In Seattle we went to Pike's Place Market and in Vancouver we explored the harbor and downtown area for a little bit. We tried to find the Olympic venues, but most were disappointing or not easy enough for us to get to. And I survived the 13-hour flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong :) Actually the flight was fairly productive as I organized 6 years worth of photos plus all my school files! It really has been amazing how well everything has worked out on this trip!

HONG KONG is AMAZING!!!! :) We've had a flurry of activity and experienced what most tourists would only experience in a week. We arrived in Hong Kong about 6:00 am local time. We were able to catch the train to Kowloon (other side of the harbor from Hong Kong where we are staying) and an airport shuttle (that was an adventure) that serendipitously had a stop at a hotel directly across from where we're staying. I was awe-struck at my first sights of Asia. It is very beautiful, green, and HUMID!! I've never sweat so much in my life and my hair is barely shoulder-length since it's curled up so much. It is a complete "mass of humanity" as mom would say :) Definitely high-density population. I'm especially amazed by all the apartment buildings-- they are so tall, but so thin. And dad would love this-- the construction "scaffolding" is all made of bamboo poles strung together. It looks a little precarious to have buildings supported by bamboo, but I guess is very strong.

Saturday morning we checked in, showered, and got cleaned up. Then off for a day of sight-seeing. We ventured down Nathan Road (famous shopping district-- Michelle and Natalie would love, minus the insane humidity) to the Hong Kong harbor. The harbor is beautiful and you can see the tall building Batman jumps off in Dark Knight. We were "surveyed' by some elementary school children practicing their English and they gave us postcards as souvenirs-- so cute! We walked down the Star Walk (HK version of Chinese Grummen Theater walk) and visited the modern art museum (mostly for the air conditioning, but I was excited). We tried a fairly hole-in-the-wall Japanese place for dinner. I have duly noted that "seafood" as an adjective entails a different combination here than it probably would at home, including octopus, eel, and a couple other things I didn't recognize and would probably be better not knowing anyway. On our walk back, we explored the Kowloon Park which is like Central Park, Chinese-style and explored a jade market. A lady tried to rip me off by selling me a fake pearl pendant. Pshh, I know what I'm looking for :) We also made a 7-11 run (luckily there are three per block) to stock up on water. I think it was probably about an hour before I was totally out at about 7:00. Granted, I probably had a total of 6 hours of sleep in the previous two days. Our hard-as-a-board beds couldn't have felt better :)

Today (Sunday) has been amazing! We attended an English branch in Hong Kong in a beautiful church building-- it reminds me of the Manhattan Temple/chapel. As we were on the subway, looking like confused tourists searching our map, a girl approached and asked if we were going to church. She showed up the way :) During Sunday School 4 of our Xiamen group showed up-- they've been here since Thurs and leave tomorrow for the Public Administration conference-- which was fun. After church, a sister invited us to her home for lunch with the other Young Single Adults. Turns out she is the wife of Asia Area President (which area that covers more than half the world's population--India, China, Mongolia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, etc.)! They live in an apartment on the south part of Hong Kong island with a Beautiful view of the bay. We had a fabulous lunch of chicken fajitas (so grateful for familiar food after yesterday!) and met many people from all over the world. We chatted with President Perkins afterward and it turns out he was mission companions with Governor Huntsman (who we're trying to visit while in Beijing) and also gave us a great contact for someone to talk to for a perspective of Asian government relations that will hopefully pan out!

After lunch, we took a taxi to the top of Victoria Peak. Unfortunately it was very foggy, but we could see a small portion of the Hong Kong skyline. There is a mall at the top of the mountain and we enjoyed some great piano entertainment. We took the walking trail down the mountain and it totally felt like we were in a jungle. It was very mystically foggy, jungly, and beautiful. Oh and did I mention the humidity? Yeah, it's hot. Pictures to come, but I must say, they don't capture the majesty and beauty. The trail was really steep, but a fun walk. At the bottom of the mountain, we ended up in a city botanical garden with zoo-like exhibits-- so cool. We made it back to our hotel-- we're getting our bearings.

So, tomorrow we're going to go check out the Temple (our Temple) and then Ten Thousand Bhuddas Temple and do a little more exploring around the area. It has been an AWESOME trip so far! My fears that Asia would be too foreign and inaccessible have been dashed and I'm totally loving it here!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quick Update

The adventure has officially begun! I am sitting in the Vancouver airport, awaiting an endurance-testing 13-hour flight to Hong Kong :). I hope to be able to post pictures and updates to this blog, but have heard it rumored that blogspot is blocked in China.... we'll see.

As a start, today I left Salt Lake around 7:30 am and arrived in Seattle. I'd never been to Seattle before and my impression of the city is resounding approval! We visited Pike's Place Market and I got to see the live version of the motivational organizational behavior movie I have seen about 3 times. I love outdoor markets like that. After that layover, I had the best 20 minute flight of my life to Vancouver. Vancouver is gorgeous. While I was somewhat disappointed in the city, the airport is fabulous and gorgeous!

PS. Please excuse any grammatical errors. I have now accumulated 2.5 hrs of sleep in 48 hours... all in the pursuit of being able to sleep through this 13 hour confinement :) Wish me luck.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Finishing Up

You know the feeling of being sick of being sick? That's me. Since my typhoid vaccine, I don't know if my immune system was just extra-susceptible, but I think I got the cold I'd been trying to stave off since finals week. At least the snowy weather this morning makes me feel a little less out-of-season.
The up-side to sick days/weeks is cathcing up on stuff... here's the post I began a couple weeks ago:

Whew. So the time period from March 19 until now feels like it lasted 3... maybe 4 weeks yet at the same time seems like years ago. So much has happened!

March 19 began the work on a new campaign. Since then, I also finished up school group projects, participated in the UCMA competition in St. George, took finals, graduated from grad school and celebrated a little, said farewells to so many wonderful friends (only after partying with an over-abundance of nacho cheese and in a castle-- not at the same party), welcomed another "niece" who will also have the nickname Gan, went on the job hunt-- though not diligently enough, finalized China trip plans like getting airfare and visa stuff done, moved home, and made it through a successful GOP convention! Some picture highlights...

MPA Closing Social Ball

Romney love at Amy & Billy's Wedding

Today I read I book that I chose! I've missed that :)