Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Accent Marks

I'm kind of behind on a lot of technological things.  One of those things is typing accent marks. 

I see people write stuff all the time with nicely formated accent marks above the appropriate letters.  Every time I see one of these, I think to myself, "how the heck to they do that?" 

Recently I decided to put years of curiosity to rest and learn how.

A quick internet search for "how to type accent marks" resulted in a nice article from

In less than five minutes of my initial search I was typing accent marks like a pro!  Check it out.

Ã Ñ Õ ¿ ¡ Ó Ü á é

Pretty good huh?  I knew you would be impressed.

On a side note, is it donut or doughnut?  I used to always type "doughnut", but then I realized that most stores sell "donuts".  It has been difficult making this spelling transition.  It is probably likely that both are acceptable forms of the word. 
Furthermore, I rather like words that have variable spellings because sometimes you might be in the mood for a donut and other times you might prefer a doughnut.  In conclusion...I'll spell it however the heck I want!

By way of another side note, I am currently sitting in the computer lab on campus and someone's phone just rang.  The ringtone was the theme song from The A-Team.  Let me say this in a way that everyone will understand, I WANT THAT RING TONE. 
Also, I desperately want the Magnum PI song as a ringtone.  That is all.

"Watch out! He's got his Probe!"

In my family, after we eat our Thanksgiving dinner, we like to play Bingo for prizes.  This year we had the same plan, but something funny happened in the interim.  Allow me to recreate for you the humorous occurrence.

We had just finished clearing the table, and were all gathering in the kitchen.

Dad: "Robby, will you go upstairs and find Bingo?"
Robby: "Sure."
Retreating to the upstairs region of our house I began my search for "Bingo".

After being absent for longer than expected, I finally return.
Robby: "I couldn't find Bingo, but don't worry, I found something better! (Pause for anticipation) I brought down the game of...PROBE!"

Triumphantly, I hold up the dusty cardboard box and everyone stares at me in puzzled bewilderment.
Andrew: "What the heck is Probe?"
Unsure how to respond, I turn the box over and read the game description.
Robby: "It's the most provocative game of words since the invention of the modern alphabet!"
I laugh hysterically while everyone continues to stare.

Kate: "Provocative?" (Imagine a room full of raised eyebrows.)
At this point everyone's curiosity is peaked, so they gather around me to inspect "Probe".

Robin smiles and reads a portion of the game description:
Robin: "Probe is a game that adults play together and thoroughly enjoy!"
Everyone laughs in awkward amazement at the vintage Freudian phrase.

Kate: "Children can play with adults or by themselves!"
More uncomfortable laughter.

Robby: "Probe is a true party game for any number of people!"
More laughter followed by a brief discussion of the awkward game description.

Robby: "Watch out! He's got his probe!" (Quoting The Simpson's.)

We spent the next five minutes reading and re-reading the game description almost in disbelief at the overtness of the euphemisms being presented.

After all that fun, the only question left in my mind was, "How could we have gone all these years without knowing that there was a game called "Probe" lurking in our closet?"

I am still quite pleased with my discovery.

Unfortunately we didn't actually play "Probe" that night. I ended up finding Bingo tucked away on a shelf somewhere, so we went ahead with the previous plan.
I did have a pretty good Bingo card though.  I actually got "Bingo" three times!  My first prizes got traded around a few times, but I ended up with a Salted Nut Roll, so that was pretty awesome.  I LOVE THE SALTED NUT ROLL!

Although nobody got to enjoy the provocative game on this occasion, mark my words, someday I will play "Probe"!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are You Well Read?

Here is a fun little activity I took from The Wonderful Pen.

This is a ranked list of "the world's" favorite books, in order of popularity. How many have you read?
Instructions: Copy this list. Bold those books you've read in their entirety; italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or just read an excerpt.

Please leave a comment letting me know your count, and feel free to copy this list to your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen *
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien *
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte *
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling *
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee *
6 The Bible *
7 The Divine Comedy
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell *
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens *
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy *
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller *
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien *
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger *
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald *
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams *
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky *
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll *
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis *
34 Emma – Jane Austen *
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen *
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis *
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown *
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery *
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel *
52 Dune – Frank Herbert *
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen *
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens *
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon *
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez *
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck *
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas *
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Posession -- AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens *
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White*
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle *
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad *
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas *
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare *
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl*
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

My count is 22 read and 3 in progress.  Wow, I didn't do as well as I thought I would.  I added asterisks to the ones that I own or have in my possession, 37 in all.  It looks like I still have a lot of catching up to do.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Communication: Top Ten

Currently my LDS singles ward is holding a special marriage prep class for people 26 years old and older.  Basically it is a class designed to help the old single people figure out what they are doing wrong so they can get married. 
I recognize that outside of Utah being single in your late 20's or early 30's is perfectly normal, but here, we are considered defective.
Despite the semi-offensive implications of this "special needs" marriage class, the content is usually excellent.  On Sunday the topic was Communication.  The always-vibrant Brother Massey gave us his top ten keys to good communication in marriage. I really liked them and wanted to share them here because I think they apply to all relationships.

10 - It's better to be kind than to be right.  Disagreements are healthy from time to time, but it is important to approach them properly.  When both parties are kind, it makes it easier for each person to put pride aside and change their mind if necessary.

9 - Be transparent, be deliberate.  Don't play games.  Don't expect someone to read your mind.  Don't hide your real feelings.  Just be honest and say what you think or feel.

8 - Unplug.  Many marriages now are being challenged by technology.  We are so used to communicating via text and Facebook that often we neglect real meaningful interactions.  Also, don't neglect the people who are most important for the sake of video games.  When you are with your special someone, turn off the techno-gizmo tingy and give them the time they deserve.

7 - Be Vulnerable.  It is impossible to have a deep and meaningful realtionship with someone unless you completely open yourself up to them and allow yourself to be vulnerable.

6 - Don't hold grudges.  This one is self-explanatory.  Nobody wants to live in fear of being reminded of some past offense whenever it suits the other persons agenda.  Not healthy.

5 - No score cards.  At first I thought this was the same as number 6, but it actually deals with who owes whom what.  Just do nice things for each other without keeping tabs or thinking that someone owes somebody something.

4 - First seek to understand before being understood.  I don't fully understand this one and I wish he had gone into more depth with it.  As I understand it, you should be more focused on understanding the other person rather than pushing your own ideas on them.  If both parties are focused on understanding each other first, it will eliminate a lot of miscommunication.

3 - Treat to your spouse like you did when you were dating.  This one is really important to me.  How many couples do you know that criticize each other constantly or just don't seem to like each other much anymore?  I don't want that to happen to me.  This is about continued courtship.  We should always be trying to preserve romance and be our best selves for each other.

2 - Speak with kindness and respect.  Similar to number 3 but more fundamental.  Be kind, be patient, be loving, be complimentary.  Avoid sarcasm, and criticism, and saying things to give offense.  You love this person, so why would you speak badly to them?  I would also say that this includes not complaining about them behind their backs.  There are few things more uncomfortable than being around someone who is constantly complaining about their spouse.  I feel bad for those people.

1 - Listen.  Two ears, one mouth, use accordingly.  Duh.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

'63 Peugeot

Here is what I started with:

My Dad's old bike.
It is a 1963 Peugeot U08 ten-speed.

Until a few months ago, it had been sitting in a storage unit covered in 10 years of dust.
Prior to that, it had sat in our garage collecting dust for about 30 years.

I should have taken pictures before I cleaned it so you could see how gross it was.  In these pictures it actually doesn't look too bad.

All the cables were seized and rotten, it had a bent tooth on the rear cassette, and the handlebars definitely needed some work.  Oh...the tires were also flat.
Yes that is masking tape above the brake levers.

So several weeks ago I went down to the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective with Robin's dad, who just happens to be an expert in vintage Peugeot's.

Three hours of work, and $14 dollars spent on parts, and I had a '63 Peugeot that rides like new. :)

We installed new cables and housings, straightened the cassette, put a new tube in the front tire, and gave it a thorough tune-up.

Getting the masking tape off took quite a bit more work.  
It was clear that I was going to have to cut it off somehow, but I didn't want to damage the metal underneath.
I went through about 10 plastic knives trying to saw through that petrified mess.
Once I cut through most of it, I just had to go to work peeling as much off as I could.
A rag soaked in gasoline took care of the remaining sticky residue.

The handlebars came out looking clean and shiny!

With the addition of some new cork handlebar tape, a few lights, and my trusty saddle bag; I am now one happy cyclist. :)

I love sweet vintage rides!

In the near future I would like to do a little more work to it.
I need to install some toe-clip pedals, as well as get new tires.
The 40 year old tires still have a lot of tread left, but they are awfully stiff.
The brake pads are functional, but also fairly stiff.
I also plan on polishing the metal parts that have collected a bit of oxidation over the years.

For now though, it rides really well, and that is the biggest thing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fresh Vegemite!

Today I stopped by the London Market near Trolley Square to pick up a new jar of Vegemite.

Somehow, my last jar of delicious yeast extract got lost when I moved last year.
Somebody probably thieved it from me in an attempt to obtain some of my elusive awesome sauce.
It was expired anyway, so I was probably due for a new jar.

I always have to exercise restraint whenever I visit this place because they pretty much stock all of my favorite British goodies.

Here is todays haul:

I got a small jar of Vegemite, because a little goes a long way.
A large Cadbury Bournville bar, because it is the BEST dark chocolate ever!
A Kit Kat Chunky, because a Kit Kat is even more awesome when it is Ginormous!
And a classic Yorkie bar, because I like its slogan. :)

I also made myself a Vegemite sandwich for lunch today.  You know, like in the classic Men at Work song?  Yeah, it was amazing, and you should be jealous of me.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Breakdance Cat

Today I was wasting time on the internet (as usual) and came across this page of the best viral videos that are 30 seconds or less.  Some of them are awesome.  Here are my favorites:

I watched this one at school in the computer lab and had to exercise all my self control to keep from laughing hysterically.  It is pretty dang funny.

This one is just shocking!

I wish I had these skills!

I hope you enjoyed these few clips! :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Chop Shop

Remember my declaration to become a "retrosexual"? So far I am doing pretty well in that regard, but one thing has still eluded me...the barbershop haircut.

My hair is difficult to cut because it is really curly and grows kind of funny, so I have been trying to find a place where the hair-cutting people really know what they are doing.  Unfortunately, I haven't really liked the last couple of haircuts I have received.  I don't like getting home and having to cut hairs that they missed, or even things out on my own.  I wanted something better.

So a few weeks ago I needed a haircut...bad.

See how bad I needed one?

When I was a kid, my Dad used to take my brothers and I, once a month, to Leroy the barber for haircuts.  Leroy cut my  hair all the way up until I was in high school.  He has cut my Dad's hair pretty much his whole life.  He even cut my Grandfather's hair when he lived in SLC.  Three generations of Spratts have gone to Leroy for haircuts, and I figured it was time for me to go back.

I was a little nervous about the haircut because...well...Leroy is old.  He was old when I was a kid, so he must be even older now.  Turns out, Leroy is now 80 years old.

It was a good haircut!  I got the cut, and a head and neck massage, all for $10!  I thought it was pretty awesome!  I'm bummed that I haven't been there in so long though.

Let me tell you something.  Nobody shaves the back of your neck like Leroy!  I don't know what he does differently from other haircutting people, but with Leroy, the neck shave is my favorite part!  It is all slow and relaxing and warm and scratchy and tingly.  It's great.  I had forgotten how much I had missed Leroy's amazing neck shaves.

It's a good thing I went back on this particular day because after over 50 years in one location, Leroy is moving.  He got a really good offer on his building, so he decided to sell and move his business in with the guy who cuts his hair.  It was also lucky that I happened to have my camera with me.  Leroy said that he had already started taking things down, and I did notice that some of the shelves were missing, but I wanted to get pictures anyway.  Most of the important stuff that I remember as a kid was still there.

I'm sorry to see Leroy leave his familiar old place, but at least he will still be cutting hair.  I'm eager to go get a haircut from him at his new place.

I'm just glad I got to relive some fond childhood memories, one last time, by getting my haircut at Leroy's Chop Shop. :)