Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour 2010: Don't forget to turn out the lights.

Since its inception three years ago, Earth Hour’s non-partisan approach has captured the world’s imagination and became a global phenomenon. Nearly one billion people turned out for Earth Hour 2009 – involving 4,100 cities in 87 countries on seven continents.

Last year, 80 million Americans and 318 U.S. cities officially voted for action with their light switch, joining iconic landmarks from around the world that went dark for Earth Hour, including:

Empire State Building
Brooklyn Bridge
Broadway Theater Marquees
Las Vegas Strip
United Nations Headquarters
Golden Gate Bridge
Seattle’s Space Needle
Church of Latter-Day Saints Temple
Gateway Arch in St. Louis
Great Pyramids of Giza
Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens
Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro
St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City
Big Ben and Houses of Parliament in London
Elysee Palace and Eiffel Tower in Paris
Beijing’s Birds Nest and Water Cube
Symphony of Lights in Hong Kong
Sydney’s Opera House

Join the movement and don't forget to turn out the lights tonight from 8:30pm - 9:30pm local time. The main purpose of Earth Hour, as I see it, is to create awareness around climate change. If the changes we make to participate in Earth Hour were sustained through the year, the benefits would be significant.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Lovely Bones. The book AND the movie.

"Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own."
~Charles Scribner, Jr.

As you may have seen from a photo in my Christmas post, I read The Lovely Bones over the holidays. I figure, now is as good a time as any to post my review.

Set in the 1970s, the book is narrated by Susie Salmon, a young teenage girl who announces in the first sentence of the book that she was murdered. We also soon find out that she was brutally raped prior to the murder, but I don't think Susie ever says the word "rape," except for once later in the book, not even referring to her own experience.

Susie narrates from her own version of heaven, but since she, herself, has not yet come to terms with her own death, she spends the majority of her days watching her family and friends grieve, wishing to console them. She follows their daily activities, hoping for a chance to let them know she is okay. She also follows her killer, a neighbor, who she simply knew as Mr. Harvey, learning the deep ugly truth about this quiet, solitary man.

Susie, not yet ready to let go of her life, lives the milestone moments of life vicariously through her younger sister. She watches her father's never-ceasing struggle to find her killer and discover what really happened to her the night she was murdered. She watches her baby brother grow up, her mother estrange herself from the family, and her grandmother move in to help run the household. Susie might learn more about life than her 14-year old mind really wanted to know.

The book was certainly intriguing. The rape and murder told in the first chapter held my attention and left me wanting to know how it all ended, hoping for justice. Seeing the scene and the years following from the eyes of a 14-year old who knew what happened, was interesting, but at times frustrating. I wanted the detective and her family to figure things out more quickly. I wanted the rapist -- who, we find out, is in fact a serial rapist and killer -- to be caught, be humiliated, to suffer, and die. I guess I just needed to be patient...

Shortly after I read the book, Katie and I went to see the movie version, which came out in mid-January. As you know, generally I dislike reading a book before seeing the movie (if there is one) because I'm usually disappointed by the movie. I prefer to end the whole experience with the part I enjoy the most -- the book. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the movie portrayed even the most minute of details from the book. Certainly some things were left out and a couple of minor things were changed, but overall, it may have been the best adaptation of a book I've ever seen. (At least, that I can think of, right now.) I thought they did an excellent job bringing the story to life.

The actors were well cast. Stanley Tucci was convincingly creepy as Mr. Harvey, which I found a impressive since earlier in 2009, he was so wonderfully charming as Julia Child's husband in Julie & Julia. Though Mark Wahlberg would not have been my first choice for Susie's father, he did a fine job. And by the end of the movie, Susan Sarandon also won me over as the grandmother.

Alice Sebold's gripping story seems, somehow, delicate when told from Susie's more innocent 14-year old point of view. The pain and grief, which are requisite in a story like this and ever-present, ultimately evolve into hope. Sebold's writing is lovely, yet appropriately disturbing, and Peter Jackson's skill in film adaptation is to be praised.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


"To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters.
We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts.
We share private family jokes.
We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.
We live outside the touch of time."

~Clara Ortega

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Has Sprung.

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."
~Charles Dickens

Today was the first official day of Spring, and I'm so glad that it actually felt like it. For some unknown reason, I woke up at 5:30am and was WIDE awake for about an hour or so. Just me. Alone with my thoughts.

Mercifully, it being Saturday and all - the only day I really do get to sleep in, I fell back asleep for a couple of hours.

Shortly before nine, and much happier about the hour, I awoke and started my day with blueberry cornflake cereal, got dressed, went to the gym, worked out (HARD), then went to the grocery store and successfully stuck to my monetary limit while still buying lots of delicious fresh produce.

The middle of the day brought a rousing rendition of "Tradition," when I saw a great local production of Fiddler on the Roof. I must say that the fact that the fiddler was actually a woman, really threw me. I never really got over it. They're all double cast and her MWF counterpart was male... but she most certainly wasn't and it was a little distracting. But overall, the show was quite enjoyable.

The middle of the day also brought the warm sun. My steering wheel was actually hot when I got in the car. Nice change, as long as it doesn't continue to get hotter.

The first official day of spring ended with an indoor picnic. Yes, indoors. Yes, a picnic. In March. But the abundance of delicious salads quickly took my mind off the fact that it might have been a little weird to be having a picnic indoors in March. :) Mmmm... I love salad.

Beautiful weather. Spring, oh Spring, please stay. For. A. Good. Long. Time.

Photos courtesy of me.
(The first one was taken in May 2008 on the Manti Temple grounds after my friends Andrea and Mark got married. The second one was taken in April 2006 at the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

So, I fired someone the other day.

"To whom it may concern: I can't begin to count the number of people I've fired. So many that I've forgotten what it's like to actually hire someone."
~Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) in Up in the Air

It's what I do. People often ask me if I hate that part of my job. Is it awful to say that I don't? Call it what you want: firing, releasing, letting go, or terminating someone. I mean, it's never fun to let someone go, but it's part of my job and although I handle it very delicately and tactfully when I speak to each person, it's something I'm incredibly accustomed to and it doesn't bother me much at all anymore. In fact, many times I feel like it's a favor, a blessing in disguise for the individual. If you think about it, when someone is being released from a position, there is obviously a reason and that reason is that they did something wrong or it's simply not the right job fit. I'm giving them the opportunity to move on to something that fits them better.

You'd be surprised by how smoothly most of these types of meetings go. If you handle it correctly, generally the termination ends peacefully with a shake of hands and wishes of good luck. My mom says I was made for HR because I have the ability to be very straightforward, expressing just enough emotion to sympathize, but remaining stern enough to "let people know who's boss" and avoid any backlash or unwanted scenes.

It just is what it is. When I'm letting someone go, I point out that the behavior in question was brought to their attention several times (you always have to have documented warnings and improvement plans) and so this may just not be the right job or industry for them. So while I'm letting them know that we will no longer be able to employ them, I take the opportunity to discuss what their possible next steps could be and I typically offer a hefty dose of "friendly advice" to help them be more successful next time - not the least of which includes things like "Next time, don't lie to me," or "Next time, losing your temper and telling a customer to 'F*$! off' is not a wise decision," or "Maybe it would be good for you to tell yourself that your shift starts at 730am, instead of 8am. You may have a better chance of being on time." For better or worse, I generally never know if they move on to be more successful or repeat the same mistakes. I'd like to think that something I say helps them make at least one wiser choice next time.

You know, just trying to make the world a better place... one fired employee at a time.

Photo found here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bronson Staker on NBC's Today Show.

"Our loving Heavenly Father divinely intervened with the course of nature and allowed our son to be healed. Not only to survive, but to be restored. Fully. He allowed Bronson to be brought back under the worthy hands of his father's Priesthood blessing and then repaired by the capable hands of doctors and nurses who saw unprecedented and expedited results to their procedures. We could not be more grateful. We stand as fervent witnesses that He is a God of miracles. We do not wish to overstate, but we know that a true and utter miracle was certainly granted in Bronson's life and in behalf of our family. We know that miracles are given as a benefit to all mankind. This is much, much bigger than we are. We feel the weight of this solemn responsibility. An obligation coupled with a true and heartfelt desire to share his story in hopes of strengthening the faith of others and cementing our own."
~Sara Staker