Sunday, November 14, 2010

Halloween

We had a fantastic Halloween this year. We always do Halloween with our friends Mike & Natasha, or at least we have the last 3 years and we plan to continue the tradition. This year, we decided to go to a corn maze earlier in the day. The Thanksgiving Point corn maze actually has a lot of fun stuff to do besides just the corn maze. We raced some rubber ducks, went on some slides, went inside the haunted creature, and jumped on some bouncing pillows.






Then, Natasha and I went and got massages, which was heavenly. When we were done, we made dinner in a pumpkin. It is our Halloween dinner tradition, and I look forward to it every year. You can see my recipe here.


We also dressed up our puppies. Callie was a bat, their dog Pocket was a pumpkin, and Little Red was a bunch of grapes. The costumes didn't last very long- just long enough for us to get some pictures.







As you can see, it was an awesome day!

First Snow

video

A couple of weeks ago, we got a ton of snow by our house. To our knowledge, Callie had never seen snow before (although we can't really be sure because we've only had her since June). She LOVED it. She would purposefully leap through the deepest parts, and she avoided the cleared-off sidewalk. It was really funny to watch. Here's a video showing her jumping through the snow, which was what our entire walk was like.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Long overdue...

Hello world. It has been an awfully long time since my last post. Sorry. But since I am stuck home today with the flu, I thought it might be a good time to update you on what has been going on since my last post 3 months ago:

1. I started graduate school the end of August. Sometimes, I really like it and sometimes I wonder why I thought it was a good idea. It is so busy, and often overwhelming. But I also have lots of little miracles to help me get everything done. So overall, grad school is a good thing.

2. Two weeks ago, I got to go along as a driver on the undergrad archaeology field trip class. We went down to Mesa Verde in Colorado and Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, as well as a bunch of other sites that nobody who reads this will have heard of. (You may not have heard of the others either, but they are national parks so you should look them up and go when you have the chance). It was so much fun. It was a little cold to be camping in my opinion, but it was awesome to visit all those places I'd never been to before.

3. General conference weekend, I went to an Indian party with my friend Natasha. We got dressed up in saris, and ate delicious Indian food, and it was awesome. Enjoy the photos.








4. Also general conference weekend, my uncle and soon-to-be aunt came and visited us from Colorado. It was fun to hang out with them, and it was also fun to go to conference with them. They got us all tickets to sit on the ground floor, which I hadn't done before. It was fun to be close enough to see the speakers without the screens if we wanted to.

5. Peter went to San Francisco twice in 2 weeks for 2 different conferences. He had a great time, but I'm glad his travels are over for a little while.

6. Last week the kids in Utah had their fall break from school. The first morning of break, one of my primary kids came over to my house with a friend of hers to say hi to me and to see if she could play with Callie. Because what better way to spend your fall break than with your primary teacher? I thought it was really sweet of her to think of me. They played with Callie (and the other 2 dogs I happened to be babysitting) for a few minutes and we talked about Nancy Drew. I love my primary class. :)

7. Last weekend Peter took his grandma Moss on a drive in his convertible to see the fall leaves in the mountains. Fall leaves are her favorite things in the world, and they listened to Frank Sinatra (her favorite music) while they drove. Isn't Peter thoughtful? I'm pretty sure it made her week. :)

Hm... I'm sure lots of other things have happened that I would have posted about if I had been posting regularly. But now you know some of the things we've been up to.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Antelope Island

Fourth of July weekend, we went camping at Antelope island. It is a beautiful place, and if you live in the area I definitely suggest you make the trip up there. There are tons of bison on the island, as well as antelope. They have several hiking trails or you can ride horses too. The sunset was unreal. So beautiful. The pictures don't do it justice. We went on an evening hike up to one of the peaks to watch the fireworks in the Salt Lake Valley, and the sunset the highlight of the evening, not the fireworks.











Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Callie




I know Peter hasn't posted his Sierra Leone pictures yet. He has started the post, but I don't know if he ever finished it which is why I haven't posted it myself.

However, I did want to introduce everyone to Callie! She is our new dog that we adopted from the Humane Society about a week ago. She's a chihuahua mix, but we don't know with what, and she's bigger than chihuahuas are. She's 8 months old, housetrained, rarely barks, and pretty mellow as long as she goes for a walk in the morning. We love having her!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Chimps and a trip to Kenema


I am really sorry to all of you that have been waiting for pictures. I promise to upload more pictures from my trip to Sierra Leone soon.

One of the few tourist areas that have survived the civil war is Tacugama Chimpanzee Reserve. Here chimps that were formally pets are taken care of. There are hundreds here that were once adorable little pets that eventually grew to be too big for humans to safely care for. The reserve all but collapsed during the war as rebels constantly were attacking it and taking its supplies. The guy who started it risked his life multiple times to bring the chimps needed medicine and food during the war. Today the reserve boasts over 100 chimps and is part of the Disney Wildlife Sanctuary program.
We had a lot of fun watching the chimps play in the four different arenas. The first was for young or new chimps where they were weaned and nourished back to health. They then travel to the area in shown in the pictures where they are integrated into chimpanzee social structures. From there they move to a relatively open area with more room to roam but where they are fed regularly and finally to a very open area where they are expected to gather most of their own food in preparation to be put back out into the wild. The chimpanzees were a lot of fun to watch as they walked on the rope tightrope style or swung from tree to tree. One of the chimps even grabbed a few rocks and threw them at us (fortunately our guide new what was coming and motioned us behind a net for safety).

Tacugama is located in the mountainous forests as you leave Freetown and we passed it as we headed off toward Bo and Kenema, the second and third largest growing cities respectively. The old government built that awesome road that extends from Freetown to Kenema. Although it made for a much more pleasant trip, the road unfortunately did not save the previous government as the competing party gained power just a couple years ago. The new party brought more reliable power to the city of Freetown through the building of the dam.
Here is one of the small villages we passed on our way. I thought it was interesting that they build square huts here instead of round ones like in Ghana. As you can see its very green here making it both beautiful and very humid. Unfortunately, the AC went out about 20 minutes into our 4-5 hour trip.
This is the clock tower in the center of Bo. We didn't really stop in Bo, except to exchange some cash with one of the boys on the street. Here the going rate is 395,000 for $100. Interestingly enough, the rate is the same or better the farther from Freetown you get.
I'm not really sure what this building is, though it appears to be the clock tower of Kenema. I enjoyed my time in Kenema as it reminded me a lot of Tamale, Ghana. It is a small city with just one main drag.
This is a picture of the local fish market. I'm not sure where all the fish comes in from, but I can't imagine that its that fresh given that Kenema is a good 5-6 hours from the coast by car. Anyways, this market is about a football field in size and given that its pretty hot in there, you can imagine how it smelled. All of the fish here is gutted, smoked and then sold in the streets and taken to be sold in the villages.


Part of our reason for traveling to Kenema was to analyze differences in the market there as compared to Freetown to see what changes would be needed to the business plans. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) had launched a few microfranchise businesses there and we met with a small focus group as well as these two boys. These kids were selling bread from their bikes that had been provided by the IRC. Each boy wakes up at 5AM to pick up bread and then travels 10+ miles every day to deliver bread to people throughout the city and out in the neighboring villages. They typically work until 7 or 8PM and earn roughly L 5,000 per day or about $1.25. However, they were ecstatic about selling bread. They talked about how they felt more self-reliant because they could buy their own soap and weren't as big of a burden on their family. Almost all the youth we talked to cited how much more respected they were in their families and communities. Many were brought into the decision making processes as they were contributing money to the family. All were very happy and had bigger dreams that they were now pursuing. This is huge for the youth of this country. Disenchanted youth were a main source for the rebel armies and helped launch and fuel the war. By helping them get jobs and become more integrated into society, the country stands a much better chance of avoiding the perils of the past.

Here is the view from my desk in Kenema at the IRC office there. Though it may be poor, Sierra Leone is a beautiful country.


In Kenema, there are hundreds of these diamond brokers. Kenema is where the diamond region begins, though it is mostly concentrated in Kono. Here people that find diamonds can trade them in for around $50-100 per carat. Sometimes they get even less. By the time they leave the country they are being sold for only $1-200 per carat as they make their way up to Antwerp where they are cut and polished and then sold to developed countries for $1-2000+ per carat. Unfortunately diamonds have been more of a burden than a blessing to this country as they were the main source of funding for the war and really the main reason behind it.


On our way out of Bo we stopped and grabbed lunch at a small restaurant. Above is the fish and chips I ordered. It was less than excellent, but okay.
This is a picture of a group of women on their way to the clinic in the next town where they were going to have their babies vaccinated. The government had just passed a law giving children under 5 and pregnant women free medical care in an attempt to reduce its infant mortality ratings which are among the highest in the world. They were a happy bunch and let us snap a photo of them on their 5+ miles walk.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Home

Peter is home safely from Sierra Leone. I will try to make him blog more about his trip sometime this weekend. Just wanted to let everybody know he's okay.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Market Research


Things are going very well in Sierra Leone. I am working here with 3 other guys as part of a consulting project to the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Their goal is to build 3,000 Microfranchises over the next three years. To accomplish this, they have hired us to identify businesses to partner with, develop a microfranchise system and assist 3,000 youth to launch their own business. Funding has come from some big players like the Mastercard Foundation, the UN, and World Bank. Creating job/employment for youth is so key in this country because it was due to the vast unemployment that in part led to the 10 years of civil wars in this country. Early test pilots indicate that the youth that participate in a microfranchise are more confident and happier. This is a direct solution for the use of aggression used by the youth in response to feeling powerless.Our team is here for 4.5 weeks to perform the research portion of the work. Our goal is to identify the businesses with whom we plan to partner with and prepare a proposal for building a microfranchise system around their businesses. One of my jobs will be to compile all the research and prepare business plans/proposals. With only three weeks left, we've been cranking to get all the required research done. Below are some photos from the research as well as some of the beautiful surroundings here.

This is a picture of the market downtown. The streets are packed with vendors with every type of good you could imagine. Thousands of people pack the streets, negotiating for their various purchases.
Although the pictures don't do it justice, it is a smelly, dirty, loud area of the city with several blocks dedicated to the sale of both domestic and imported foreign goods.


Here is a group of men pushing their large bundle of products through the already packed streets. My friend Mike, shown on the left, almost got run over by them - the cart doesn't have any breaks. Our goal of exploring the markets was to see what people were selling and what demand for those products looked like.


Because these people are poor, many consumable products are sold in sachets. Above is a small Brandy sachet. The Sierra Leonean that was with us told us that these burned a lot going down. Straight poison. They sell for the equivalent of 10 cents each.

Despite the bustle of the market, there are so many beautiful things about this country. The people are very nice and the surrounding mountains and beaches are picturesque. Above is the beach at sunset. The water is very warm and the lonely beaches stretch for miles down the coast.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Living in Sierra Leone

So, I have safely arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone. It was a bit of a stressful 30ish hours with delayed flight out of NYC, trying to reroute my ticket in Ghana (not as easy as you'd think). Lack of sleep, delays, and a scary book outlining the history of Sierra Leone left me stressed and somewhat regretting my decision to come. Once I got off the helicopter and into my room and made it to the good part of Sierra Leone's history in the book (where the British come in and fix everything), everything seemed a lot better.As Rachel mentioned, the food is quite a bit better here and there are lot more options. As you can see in the photo below, its a beautiful mountainous city on the ocean.

On my first day I met with a couple of boys that were running a small firm that sells cell phone minutes. They walked me through their business and also what they purchase. They are part of the microfranchise initiative put on by the International Relief Committee, who we are working for. Our goal in this project is to identify 2-4 businesses that can easily be scalable to 750-1,500 microfranchises over the next 3 years. The work is a lot of fun and the people are great. The picture below is of Hassan and Paul. They've worked hard at their mobile phone business and used capital from it to launch a small tea shop that sells evening meals. They have big plans for a movie rental shop and latter want to go back to school. Both awake at 6 in the morning and work straight until 10PM. Hardworking and creatively enterprising, youth like these are the future of Africa.

Here's a picture of the view from my room - hard living in a third world country....

Friday, April 30, 2010

Reached Sierra Leone

Peter just called to let me know that he has made it safely to Sierra Leone. He said the food in Sierra Leone is much tastier than the food in Ghana, and everything is really nice where he is. He has a room with an amazing ocean view, which made me jealous when he told me. He said he'll post soon with pictures and more information about what he's up to.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Arrived safely... sort of

Peter just called to tell me he made it safely to Ghana. However, if you will recall, Ghana was not supposed to be his end destination--just supposed to be a connection on his way to Sierra Leone. The flight from New York to Accra was delayed 3 times: once, because a passenger had a broken window which they couldn't repair, so they had to wait for a new plane. Then, because as they were waiting on the tarmac to take off a passenger had a fit and they had to go back for security to escort him off the plane. After all that, the pilots and crew were over their "safety limit" for the number of hours they are allowed to work in a row, so they had to wait for a fresh crew.

Of course, after all those delays, he missed his connection to Sierra Leone. They only fly once a day from Accra to Freetown, so he has to stay the night in Accra. Fortunately, his visa from last summer is still good so he didn't have any trouble getting into the country.

Here's hoping everything goes well from here on out!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sister Sara Black

Do you know my sister Sara? She is currently serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She's in the missionary training center to learn to speak Cantonese and to learn how to teach the gospel, and she'll be headed off to Hong Kong in the middle of July. I am maintaining a mission blog for her while she is gone: http://sarasmission.blogspot.com/

So if you know my sister, or if you don't and you are interested in stories about serving a mission in Hong Kong, you should start following her blog. :-)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Back to Africa



Peter will be going to Sierra Leone for most of the month of May. On the map, Sierra Leone is in yellow, and Ghana, where we were last summer, is in salmon. People in Sierra Leone speak English, as well as other tribal languages. You may be under the impression that Sierra Leone is an unsafe country; however, their civil war ended about 8 years ago and it's considered safe today.

He'll be working on a similar project to the one we did in Ghana last year, but on behalf of a different company. This time, the IRC and MasterCard are asking for the market test. The project is attempting to develop small businesses that can help Sierra Leone's many refugees to get out of poverty. (That's as much as I know, and I think I have all the details right. Peter will correct this later if I'm wrong.)

This will be a great opportunity for Peter, and part of me is happy and excited for him. However, I'm really not excited about the prospect of him leaving for a month. And missing my birthday. Oh well.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Groupon

So, I know I don't post very often, but a company I've been following just launched in Salt Lake City, and I thought I'd let you all know about it. The company, Groupon, offers big discounts at local businesses ranging from food to massages. Today the deal is 60% off Stoneground, a local pizza place (They also offer this service in large cities across the US for those of you that aren't in Utah).

I found this company as part of my work - I've been tracking different revenue models for internet retail businesses and thought this one was a very neat idea. Besides, I'm always on the look out for good deals to local restaurants for date nights with Rachel :) .

Anyways, check it out at http://www.groupon.com/r/uu1328174. In full disclosure, they have a deal where you get $10 in credits for everyone that signs up and buys a coupon that was referred by you.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Accepted

I got my acceptance letter in the mail today! I'm really excited about it. So I will be going back to BYU in the fall, for sure!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Quit

I quit my second job (trump call center) today. For the past three months, I have felt sort of guilty for having two jobs while I know so many people who don't even have one. And lots of the time, I hated my trump job. It was weird, because while I was at work I would alternate between thinking "this isn't so bad, what's wrong with you?" and "I hate this job! I cannot stand another second of it!" And whenever I really hated my job, I'd feel ungrateful, because so many people are out of work right now, and I don't even really have anything to complain about. But today, I quit. And I am very happy thinking about all the things I'll be able to do with my evenings now.

And if anybody knows of anybody who wants to work part-time in a call center in Draper, I know of an opening. It's not bad pay. :) I'm sure after my description of the job, so many people will want to work there that this post will have more comments than all the other posts I've written combined... right?


Also, still no acceptance letter. I should just tell myself I won't be notified until the end of April, because maybe then I won't be so disappointed every day when I check the mail and it isn't there.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Since the last post...

1. I still do not know if BYU has accepted me or not.

2. We have had two visits from my family: one from the whole family except Rebecca, and one a couple weeks later from just my dad. It was wonderful to have them visit, and I wish we got to see them more often.

3. One of my cousins had a baby, and I got to babysit her four other kids while she was in the hospital. We had an awesome time. It's fun to have family that lives nearby.

4. We found out that one of our friends from Ghana died. His house caught on fire, and he was so severely burned that he died. He was a street kid who had been "adopted" by one of our bosses (as in, our boss was supporting him in school, and helped him get the things that he needed, but he wasn't legally adopted or anything), and he didn't really have any family. I was a little surprised by how sad I felt when we found out. It made me think about how blessed we are to live in a country with building codes, and effective fire departments, and advanced medical facilities. It also made me think about how the gospel brings us peace when we lose somebody, because we know it's not over when we die. I hope he finds the gospel.

5. As of last Monday, I have set a goal to eat vegetables with lunch & dinner every day, and to exercise every weekday, even if it's just for a short amount of time. Week one was a success, and I actually am feeling a lot better than I had been. We'll see how it goes from here.

6. I made a sticker chart for my primary class to encourage them to read their scriptures and say their prayers every day. Every day that they do those things, they get to put a sticker on the class chart. The chart has several benchmarks on it, and I told them each time they met one I would bring them treats. It only took them 2 weeks to reach the first one! I'm so proud of them. Although two of my kids have allergies, one to wheat and one to peanuts, so I'm a little bit limited on what I can bring them. No peanut butter cookies for this class. The girl with the wheat allergy actually told me I didn't have to bring her a treat. Poor thing. On Valentine's Day, one of the primary presidency brought cookies for the whole primary, and it made her so sad that she couldn't have one that she sat by herself the whole time during sharing time. I didn't know what was bothering her until the next week, when she explained. And then she tells me I don't have to bring her a treat. Although I would have brought her one anyways, after what happened on Valentine's Day I definitely wasn't about to leave her out.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Application submitted

Yesterday, I finished writing my personal statements and began to submit my two applications. I applied to both the Anthropology Master's program and the Museum Certificate program, a sub-program within the anthropology department. My application to the master's program went smoothly, thankfully, because it was the more important one. However, when I tried to submit my certificate application the website wouldn't let me. It said I had to select an option for "department contact telephone number" when there was no option to select. I really didn't want to wait until the application deadline (today) to submit it, but BYU is unstaffed at 8PM on Sundays. This morning I called tech support, and they told me that "maybe" they could fix my problem today. I was excited when they emailed me a response after only 30 minutes, but unfortunately, they hadn't fixed my problem. They told me it was something the admissions department needed to fix. I called the admissions department, and they told me the lady who would be able to fix my problem was out of town until Wednesday. I started to think that maybe I wasn't going to get my application in after all, but then again, if I couldn't submit my application, neither could anybody else who wanted to apply for the program. Fortunately, my worries were for nothing. The option for a department contact telephone number was added to the website, and everybody else who is submitting their applications at 11:50 tonight will never know that they almost weren't able to.

Needless to say, I'm glad to have that out of the way.

Other news- I've been called as a primary teacher for the 9 year old class. I'm very excited about it. Apparently I have the best-behaved class in the Senior Primary. I also think it's fun that one of my students is named Bailee Fox (my cousin's name, but spelled differently). My cousin, my sister Anna, and another cousin named Katie are all 9 years old, so I think they picked a good age for me to teach. Somebody must know that 9-year-olds are special to me. :-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A new year

I haven't posted in quite a long time. My apologies for the hiatus. Here's what's new:

1. I have decided to go back to graduate school at BYU and study anthropology. I decided this on January 4, and then had to start studying like mad for the GRE so I could get a decent score. I was pretty worried about it, especially since the last math class I took was 6 years ago. I took the GRE on the 14th, and it went very well. You take the test on the computer, so I know my scores for the math and verbal sections, but my writing score is still a mystery. It's very nice to have it over with, although I still have to write a bunch of things for the application that I'm not too excited about.

2. My sister got her mission call to Hong Kong! Everybody was really surprised by this. She's studied a few different European languages and Portuguese was her latest passion, so I was nearly certain she'd be called to Brazil, but I guess the Lord needs her in China. I'm so excited for her!

3. Since the new year started, I have made a tradition of baking bread every Sunday. I don't have a bread machine; I do it by hand. So far I have tried two different recipes: one is a no-knead bread that rises over night, and the other one is a "normal" bread recipe that I have tried in white, whole wheat, and today half and half. I like home made bread sooo much better than store bought bread, and it seems like it's cheaper too. I love the way it makes the house smell. We'll see how long this tradition lasts, but right now the plan is to keep doing it forever.

4. Peter spent last weekend at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. His work rented an enormous house complete with its own swimming pool for the 20 people or so who went down together. They had a lot of fun looking at all the latest electronic gadgets and enjoying being away from the snow.

Sara and Emily (Sara's best friend) came up and spent the weekend with me so I wouldn't be lonely. It was really fun to have a girls weekend, although I was glad when Peter came home too.

I think that's pretty much it for the month of January. We also had a wonderful time in Oregon with my family for Christmas. The trip was way too short, but it was really nice to be home.