Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Power and the Pain: the paradox of self-evaluation

Of late I have been jotting down ideas for things I would like to accomplish next year in preparation for New Years when I know I will be hard pressed to remember everything that I want to improve or do. This has set me to consider the remarkable change that has taken place in me since I was a child in regards to goal setting. I will probably do a more in-depth post on resolutions and goals at the new year, but this preliminary thought process has given me pause to consider a paradox that comes out of an aspect of goal setting and that is self evaluation. The paradox is this, the power that comes from knowing and understanding yourself immense, but the pain that comes with a truly honest evaluation of your weaknesses and shortcomings can be just as intense. So intense in fact that even the thought of it keeps many people walking on slivers for years.

What do I mean when I say walking on slivers? I remember when I was a boy I would spend a good deal of time running about without my shoes on and at times tiny slivers of wood would puncture my foot. Now the most sensible thing to do once you realize you have a sliver is to get it removed right away. But the pain of a having a sliver removed can be quite intense, momentarily much more intense than the constant throbbing that results from leaving it in and walking on it. So I would often keep my sliver hidden from my mother for days at a time to avoid having it removed. Many people take this approach to their own weaknesses or problems, the pain of acknowledging and facing up to their existence can be so bad that they would rather endure the constant throbbing of living with them everyday, especially if like my sliver dealing with them will involve another person.

I lived this way for years, and at times I am still apt to do it. But it is not a truly livable strategy, splinters if left in too long can become buried in the skin and healed over, so that it almost looks as thought there is no problem there at all, but in fact the easy means of dealing with the problem, the little bit hanging out, is the only thing that has been lost. The wound will actually now have to be reopened to deal with the problem and the spot may become infected leading to bigger issues. I now have a system in place to help me do better with this problem. One of the pieces is yearly goals with weekly evaluation of them. Another piece to help discover splinters is a monthly introspection, where I take stock of myself through several processes that I find helpful and discover areas where improvement could be made or splinters could be removed. Let me assure you that the process is painful indeed, but the joy of walking without a dull throb is well worth the moment of fire as a splinter is tugged loose from its places.

I am reminded of Eustace in C.S. Lewis's masterpiece the Voyage of the Dawn Treader which Meagan and I have been reading. He was a boy who never acknowledged his faults or weaknesses until he was turned on the outside to what he was on the inside, a dragon. This period is a time of self discovery and evaluation for Eustace, a very painful but in the end rewarding experience. There is one particularly applicable quote where it says "He began to wonder if he himself had been such a nice person as he had always supposed" certainly not a comfortable question to be asking oneself, but it does get better and the great lesson of the story is that Eustace begins to change, but cannot complete his change with out the help of the Lion, Aslan, who is Christ. And that is a great message for all of us, when it is too painful for us to do the removing ourselves, Christ will do it for us.

So don't be afraid, be better.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Boy, the Queen; the Witch, the Sith

To get what they want they become the very thing that they despise.

In my ponderings sometime ago I came across this strange association of Anakin Skywalker and the Witch from Snow White. No it is not the simple concept on the face that they are both villains, nor is it the fact that both wear dark hoods (although this is interesting), it is this idea that in striving to achieve what they most desire, both of which are selfish pride riddled desires, they become in essence the very thing that the most despise.

In many ways these two characters are fundamentally different. The Witch has one goal in life which she has already seemingly achieved, that is to be the fairest of them all. Anakin's desire he has never had and that appears to be a longing to shield himself from pain and trial, and consequently he also desires to do the same for those associated with him, but more because he doesn't want to have to deal with it than that he loves them. So one is looking to maintain or recapture her desire and the other is looking for a way to accomplish the impossible that has never been. But they both fall to the same thing in the end. Anakin becomes a Sith Lord that thing he feared so much as a boy and has despised as a Jedi, and the Witch of her volition turns into the most haggard and ugly of individuals.

I believe this is highly representative of souls cankered in pride and self absorption, they can never achieve what they truly want but they will go to great lengths to try, even the destruction of that the have previously worked for (and then had to wear ugly hoods).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why the Wii U marks the beginning of the last generation

Every once in a while I like to do a post on technology, and I have been thinking recently about Nintendo's new system, the Wii U and what it will mean for the technology industry. I don't actually really play video games anymore even though I was once very involved in them, they have just decreased significantly in importance for me. But I do like technology and I feel this new nintendo system marks a very important point for video games, the beginning of the end of console gaming.

Let me explain why, first of all we have seen the handled gaming market, once considered a nintendo stronghold, dismantled in a mater of a few years, primarily by the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Nobody else (Sega, Sony, and Nokia had tried) had been able to touch nintendo's gameboy blockade on the market, the most interesting thing is that nintendo was the first company to really introduce touch screen gaming into the market with their DS and many of the technologies they developed there were what would later make the tablet market successful in gaming. They were also the first to introduce gyroscope motion sensing technology into handhelds which has also become a major part of phone and tablet gaming.

Now Nintendo has introduced a game system with a tablet controller, a touch screen motion sensing device in the living room. This will pave the way for people's actual tablets and cell phones to become the controllers they use for video games on their TVs, this will help with the breakdown of the console system.

The second major factor will be the recession, the economic troubles have already stalled this generation of consoles, elongating the time the the Wii, 360, and PS3 have sat on the top of the heap. I fully expect both Microsoft and and Sony to release another set of systems next year, but I think it will be their last. People will no longer want to pay for a separate set of hardware for gaming during times of economic trouble when they already of devices capable of playing games.

The final blow will come from Apple as it generally does. Apple will release a TV that either runs iOS or some similar operating system which will be capable of running apps as well as a million other things. This will integrate the iPhone and iPad into the livingroom in such a way that will make video game consoles obsolete and cumbersome. What points to this? The current Apple TV already allows for you to mirror your tablet onto your TV, and hackers have found code inside it that points to gaming being in development. Apple is also widely rumored to be in production of an actual TV monitor instead of just a set box top. Once this happens Google and Windows will be forced to follow suit in some way. Microsoft is already well set up to make this change with the Kinect.

All of this seems to point to the death of console gaming as we know it. I think the Wii U will provide the bridge into this manner of gaming, my only question is why nintendo is doing this, it doesn't make sense for them to bridge their way into their own demise. Whatever happens doesn't really make much difference to me, but its something to think about.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thoughts of a Sixteenth Grade Something: Music and the State of the Soul

So I had some pause for reflection recently, as many people know I like music, I come from a musical family and enjoy most music and I sing a lot. I'm also a huge fan of having theme music, in one of my classes  we always have a question of the day and a couple weeks ago one of the questions was if you had a theme song what would it be. I was very surprised by the number of people who didn't know  how to answer this question, my problem was which of my theme songs to choose here are just a few of the theme songs I've had:
White and Nerdy by Weird Al
Eye of the Tiger from Rocky
Vindicated by Dashboard Confessional
Defying Gravity from Wicked
Out of My League by Steven Speaks

I also had a theme song with every companion on my mission that I had a car with (you listen to more music when you have a car) a couple of those were:
For some must push and some must pull -- Elder Phillips
The Rising -- Elder Bowman

But theme songs are not what really go me thinking about music and the state of the soul, they are just part of the tangental connections. I began thinking about  this because I do not listen to a lot of music currently, even though I like music I don't usually listen to it because if I am listening to something it is normally a podcast. But I opened up my iTunes recently and looked at the playlist called most played. And this is what got me thinking, because it is very telling about the times in your life when you listen to music the most, what I found was that I listen to music when I am depressed. I hadn't thought about it before but I now see that I listened to music a lot before I met Meagan, and now I don't. Its clear what I feel when I listen to music from what my most played songs are:
the number one played song in my iTunes is Defying Gravity from Wicked and number two was Galaxies by Owl City. For me this is highly indicative because I listen to these songs to try and boost my spirits during times when I am down.

Music is a powerful player upon our soul, and I feel it is worth some introspection on our part to see what we listen to and why. I find it very interesting when scripture makes reference to music. In the old testament I think we can place David as the master of music David and his son are attributed with writing the book of Hymns we find in the bible known as psalms. David used music to express his most poignant feelings, both joy and sorrow. My younger sister would say that he used music to uncage his spirit. I think this is something we all can do, and probably it would be healthy to do from time to time. But the lesson of music from David I find most important is that David was a player of the harp and he used his skill on the instrument to free King Saul from the influence of an evil spirit (1 Samuel 16). To me that says volumes about the power of music upon the substance we know as spirit, it can do it to our spirits it can do it to other spirits. I think this elevates our choice in music to one of the most important choices we make each day. The choice we make when we turn on iPod is what we will do to our own spirit, and what spirits we will attract to ourselves. Its something to think about before we push that button.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


So I have been thinking a lot about reading of late, probably because I am in a reading class this semester. I love reading, I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. I think reading may, combined with writing, be the single greatest accomplishment of the human race, and I have my serious doubts that they came up with it on their own, seems to me as though it must have been a gift from God.  Reading and writing a phenomenal in part because the acts themselves are amazing and showcase the incredible nature of the human brain, and in part because they are the means of progression for humans. Think about it, the fact that we can write and read is what allows us to preserve knowledge and made it so everybody doesn't have to go through the same discovery processes over and over. Its incredible. The fact that right now I am writing down a message using a finite alphabet of 26 characters and 10 numerical symbols and that I can transport to you any knowledge I might have is simply astounding. All the worlds knowledge is available to us through reading. My reading class has mostly been the facilitator of this line of thought as well as some things that Steven Covey says in his book, the 7 habits of highly effective people.

In other thoughts on reading I have thought to myself about what an influence it was on my life and intelligence to be taught at an early age to read and to love reading. My nephews have caused me to reflect upon this, Aaron who is four is learning how to read right now which is such an amazing time for a kid who without realizing it is learning to decode from a writing page meaning which will be the source of learning for the rest of their life. Maxwell is 2 and he loves to be read to, Amy says he would sit on your lap and listen to stories all day if he could, just think of all the things he will know and have learned about by the time he can read. Bradley is 1 and he has just figured out that he is suppose to sit on a lap and listen to stories, he likes to laugh when he is read too even though he is probably not understanding much of the story yet. Charlie is just a few months old, he's just barely beginning to take in the world around him, and every night his mom, Brooke, reads a book to him, isn't that the most wonderful? Just think how soon he will start learning cognitive processes and discover how much about the world he can learn from books, if he is anything like his cousins it won't take him very long. I love it, it makes me so excited for these little boys. And it makes me so grateful for parents who taught me to read at an early age and read to me, and encouraged me to read. It reminds me of Dr. Benjamin Carson who gave a forum here at BYU last year, he is one of the smartest most accomplished men in the world and he attributes it to his mom having him read so much.

What scares me now is the number of children who are taught how to read, but are not taught to read, the ability is ensured but the skill is not ingrained, and the passion is not ignited. In Covey's book there reads the line "The person who does not read is no better off that the person who can't read." And that is certainly something to ponder on.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Bonds of Brotherhood

I find the ties that bind to be a very interesting topic. What causes people to come together, to enjoy one another's company, and to be friends. Often it is a commonality that brings two people or more together. What I find interesting is that it is generally the lack of a certain attribute or belief within a microcosm that will cause people who poses it to become friends. For example, I am left handed, no one would think of being right handed as a basis for friendship, because you would have to be friends with nearly everyone. Being left handed on the other hand makes you unique and when you find another person with that uniqueness it binds you together. Several of my close friendships have been with other south paws, yours may have been to but it may not have been defining for you the way it was for me (unless of course you also are left handed, in which case we are probably very good friends, or would be).

The more a group of people are the same the more minute the details that make friends, the more a group is different the more broad those attributes can be. For example in most places two people being mormons is a reason for them to bind together as friends, they immediately know that certain things about them will be the same and different from those around them. In Utah this is not the case, nobody is friends simply because they are both members of the Church, you would have to be friends with everyone you met, and that would be overwhelming. This was very prevalent on my mission with Africans, whenever my friend Elder Fayanni met another African there was an immediate bond just on the principle that they were from the same continent. They may not even speak the same language natively, in Africa they may have wanted to kill each other, but in Philadelphia that continental heritage was enough to forge an instant friendship.

This is found everywhere you go even if you don't always think about it. At the root of most of our closest relationships is a commonality that at least brought us together initially and may still be a binding factor in the friendship.

I think a major reason for this is that sharing a common set of experience or knowledge cuts the way more quickly from a very surface form of communication we use when we first meet someone and allows you to dive deeper into things that are more meaningful and personal. You know there will be things you wont have to explain to this person and you know that they will understand simple references, or certain feelings. This is a wonderful thing although sometimes it is very healthy to interact with people who have little in common with us so that we might have to explain things and thereby better understand ourselves.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The simple chef: Throwing out the rules

Hi, I'm your host, the simple chef, and since I previously told you the two rules for being a simple chef, I am now going to tell you how this week I threw those rules out the window. It happened when I found myself standing in my closet, I mean kitchen, looking at my wife's computer screen. You may ask why I was looking at my wife's computer, the reason for this is because my wife had just walked out the door to go for a run and I was suppose to be making dinner, the recipe for dinner was from an infamous place known as Pinterest, and that is not something that happens on my computer. Hence my wife had left me with the recipe displaying on her computer, Creamy Garlic Pasta.

No you careful students of the simple culinary arts will immediately say "use rule #1, follow the directions of the recipe exactly, to the minute and teaspoon, and all will be well." Well, all would be well if the recipe was on a box and inside the box was nicely packaged ingredients that the recipe called for, this however, was not the happy situation in which I found my simple self. In point of fact the reason I was still staring at the computer screen instead of standing at the stove was that not only were the ingredients not inside a box, most of the ones listed on this place known as pinterest were also not inside my closet, er I mean kitchen.

This is where we break rule number two, because, as you faithful students of simplicity will recall, the act of using whatever ingredients come to mind or hand, or both, is never to be used in conjunction with a recipe. So here I find myself, orange apron on and ready to cook and my rules have flown out the window. But being the resourceful individual I am I quickly recovered and went to work. Chicken stock became a can of chicken broth from the bottom shelf (I briefly considered making my own from bullion cubes, but lets not be extreme), and linguine substituted nicely (well functionally might be a better word) for angel hair. I chose a large pot since the place known as pinterest neglected to give me a size, and olive oil and butter I actually found. Minced garlic in a can is really the same thing as cloves anyway so I gave a generous amount of that to my concoction and sprinkled about an unspecified amount of parsley. Mozzarella is practically a cousin to parmesan anyway so that was fine. And in the end if the sauce was a little to thin that just meant there was plenty left over for my ramen the next day.

And that my friends is how things got a little more complicated for the simple chef.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thoughts of a Sixteenth Grade Something: Pinocchio and the Humanity of Self Denial

Its time for another the stroll through synapses of Ben's brain. This particular instance occurred while on the way to school. Meagan and I drive to school and along the way we pass one of Provo's finer establishments a little place called Ozz. Ozz as it happens is "family fun center" it just happens to be a little bit ghetto and appears to actually be a pool hall fronting as a mexican restaurant, weird I know.

Anyway I remarked that instead of going to school we could just go to Ozz, because of Ozz's ambiance this led me to think of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio, they seem to be similar. This thought led me to consider Pinocchio and the scene at pleasure island, something I have not done in depth previously because I don't really like Pinocchio as a disney film, however my memory of it was recently refreshed by the ride at disney land which I visited in August. At this juncture I reflected on what happens on Pleasure Island, Pinocchio is convinced by his friend to go there and they glut and squander themselves on anything and everything they desire. All the boys who come to pleasure island eventually turn into donkey's, even Pinocchio. On this occasion I considered the deeper meaning in this story.

Why do the boys become donkey's after their experience on the Island? I believe this points to a natural experience, that an essential part of being human is the act of self denial, this is what elevates man above the animals. The ability to consciously deny yourself something that you want because you conceive of achieving something greater if you do, this is a wholly human attribute. Therefore this lesson is shown to us as the wooden boy transforms before our eyes from even the image of human, which he was before, into what he has become, an animal focused only on the desire of the moment.

Unfortunately many people today are sold the idea that all their wants are right and that they should seek immediately whatever they might want regardless of consequences. This idea is sold to the world by Satan and countless people swallow it, hook, line, and sinker. The act of self denial is to exercise agency, which is the gift of God, the act of seeking immediate fulfillment is to live by instinct as do the beasts. The more a person chooses to satisfy and please their immediate senses the less human they become. Since I haven't actually watched Pinocchio in many many years I cannot remember if this lesson is explicitly pointed out, but it is certainly there, and it is certainly a lesson worth learning.

Just a thought, from the way to school.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Simple Chef: Ben's foray into the world of culinary arts

Some people are mistakenly under the impression that I cannot cook, this is simply not the case. I say simply because the simple truth is that I can simply cook, that is I can cook simply. And I for one believe that there is a lot of value in being able to quickly make food that can fill you up, fortunately I have a wife who can do much more than simply cook, but there are times when I do cook and I thought you might all like in on a few of my secrets. Yesterday I cooked for both breakfast and dinner and they highlight my two, sometimes opposing, culinary secrets.

#1: If you have a box and on the box is a recipe, follow it, follow it as exactly as possible, do exactly what it says and then it will probably come out ok. This is the first secret to being a simple a chef, be able to take directions from others. Pictured below is me making dinner: Hamburger Helper. Which if I were writing a blog on money saving I would let you know how we got a great deal on a large quantity, but I'm not, so I'll just say that pasta in all its forms is the friend of the simple chef and Hamburger Helper is one of those forms. I made the stroganoff kind and the most important thing to keep in mind, should I inspire to put on your own simple chef's hat, is this particular concoction needs to sit for several minutes to let the sauce properly thicken before serving. So don't make it when you are starving because you won't want to wait the proper amount of time and the sauce will be to runny. Fortunately I did not know I was starving until we started eating last night so I was able to let it sit and it was just about at perfection.

#2: Should you not have a box of pre-preped food use whatever you want and just go to town. Let yourself experiment a little, generally if you have good raw ingredients you can't go to wrong (I love farmer's markets for this very reason). For breakfast yesterday I made O'brian potatoes, which I love, they are fairly simple and you can really go wherever you want with them. I prefer to fry the diced potatoes with peppers and onions, salt and pepper them. Because I don't have a recipe for them I can just do whatever I want. Sometimes I add more vegetables, sometimes less, sometimes cheese, or hot sauce or salsa. Thats the secret, just go where your heart leads you, and you can be a simple chef too.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thoughts of a Sixteenth Grade Something: an introduction

So I've decided that once in a while, whenever it might strike my fancy, I will give a little insight on the blog into the way that I think, not necessarily what I am thinking about, but the way that I am thinking about it. Why would I do this you ask? Because I have come to realize, or at least think that I realize, that I do not think in the way most people do. I am not talking about what I think, like about politics or something else (although that is different than most people as well I am sure), no I am talking about the way that I think. The way that my mind interacts with the information it encounters and from there builds arguments, evaluations, insights, opinions, and understanding.

You may now want to ask, "Ben, why are you thinking about what you are thinking about?" and that is exactly my point. I think about what I think about, I have come to this realization because Dr. Isachson who is my reading teacher has a favorite word, this word is the beacon of our souls in that class and all we do must connect to it. That word is: Metacognative-awareness. Essentially it means: thinking about what you are thinking about, consciously realizing that you are conscious. If this sounds like circles within circles to you, you are probably right, and it could be taken to far, but something about it has resonated with me because it put down in words something of the way that I myself think. Metacognative-awareness is highlighted by a drive to know and understand deeper than just the surface of a text or situation, it is the act of bringing all you know and you can predict to bear against a scenario or problem.

This is the way my brain has been doing things forever. All of my experiences, all the things I've learned or heard are cached inside a complex web in my mind. When a new concept or situation arises strands of mental spider silk connect that new piece of information to anything that might have some relation to it and then I must run all the way down that thread to its logical conclusion, the fact that this all happens very fast is what causes what to others may seem at times to be harsh and hasty reactions, or bizarre questions. And there you have it, the thoughts of a sixteenth grade something.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Of Marriage and blogs

Hey all my faithful followers (of which there are thousands I am sure) I was married (insert cheers) two weeks ago and I have a blog with my wife here. Where we will be posting things that will be similar to the weekly postings from Washington DC, I will still try to post my thought posts to this blog every so often, but I have seen from my elder sister's example that maintaining two blogs is sometimes not easy, so I make no promises about that, but I still do have views on life, liberty, and the pursuit of academic overachievement so I will try to keep letting the world know about them.
thanks all,

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Of falls, hills, and rivers

This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to go to upstate New York with a group from my singles ward. We headed out at 7:30 Friday morning, our objective was Palmyra, and the hill cumorah pageant.
Enroute(actually off route) we went to Niagra falls, which was a great experience. We went on the Maid of the mist boat ride which took us out to the falls so we could see both sides and get soaked drone the mist, well at least get our blue ponchos soaked. After the boat ride my car decided to stay behind and wait for the light show on the falls. I have provided pictures for those who have never seen this before.

After we were done at the falls we went to Keokua college on the shores of one of the finger lakes, where we were stating in the dorms for the weekend. It was late when we arrived so I checked in, called Meagan, and went to sleep.
We had to be up fairly early the next morning to head out to palmyra. We first went to the Smith family farm where the sacred grove. We drove past the hill Cumorah on our way to the farm and saw the set for the pageat, it looks like a Nephite temple and we started getting excited. At the farm we saw the Smiths cabin and frame house as well as their cooper shop and barn. In the attic of the cabin we were able to stand where Moroni had been when he appeared to Joseph. That was pretty amazing. We did not go to the sacred grove on Saturday, we saved that for the sabbath.

After visiting the farm we stopped by the temple and then we ate lunch at a park in town and then we went to the Grandin print shop where the Book of Mormon was printed. This was especially interesting to me because of the research I did for work this year on books at the time of the restoration.

From the print shop we went to the hill Cumorah, we wanted to go early because they would be closing the paths for the pageant. The hill was steeper than I thought it would be, and if we had been a few miles south in Pennsylvania they would call it a mountain. It was really cool to be on the hill where Joseph got the plates, the Moroni monument is really cool.

From the hill we headed out to Fayette and the Peter Whitmer farm where the church was organized. I had a really cool experience there. The visitor center at the farm is part of the Fayette church building. After we had started going through, but before we went out to the old house one of the senior elders came walking through the exhibit and asked if anyone knew American Sign Language. Of course I told him that I did, to which he gave a look of relief. A group of deaf members had arrived and the missionaries had no way to communicate with them. He took me to them and then we went through the tour with me doing my best to interpret. It definitely was not very smooth, but everyone seemed very grateful for it. One of the deaf men has been away from the church for 20 years and is working on coming back, his friends who lived in New York had him come up so they could take him to pageant. It was a really special experience for me to be able to help.

After the Whitmer farm we went back to Palmyra, had dinner and got our seats for the pageant. The pageant was amazing, the special effects astounded me and blew my mind. The Spirit was really strong and it was so cool to be there where Moroni and Joseph had actually been.

On Sunday we woke up early and packed up and headed for church in Palmyra. There were so many people at church it was crazy. They had around 20 people passing the sacrament. Afterward we went the sacred grove, the Spirit there was very strong, many people say like a temple, I believe that feeling is the result of evil having been vanquished in that place.

After that most people headed back to Washington directly, but Ben Haymond and I changed over to Katie's car and the three of us headed on a slight detour to Harmony PA on the banks of the Susquehanna river. This is of course one of my favorite spots because I used to come here as a missionary. The day was very peaceful and happy there by the river where the priesthood was restored. A lot of memories came back to me there but all to soon it was time to be on the road again.

We made one more short stop in Hershey, where they have a brief free factory tour and Ben could smell the chocolate air and see the kiss street lights.

Then we finally did arrive back at the Barlow, worn out but full of good memories and firmer testimonies.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Bronx is up and the Battery's down

This weekend I learned something extremely useful, I finally learned why in On the Town, Gene Kelly sings the Battery's down, I've know what the Bronx being up is for some time. I learned this piece of trivia on my first trip ever to the Big Apple. On Friday morning and afternoon we had briefings for class and immediately after that Michael-Sean, Stephen, Alex, Jeff, and I caught a bus from Dupont circle, excited to be in the bit city. Unfortunately we would not be there quickly, traffic around Baltimore was heavy and delayed us by about an hour, so much for the charm city. We did finally arrive at Penn Station (the one in NYC) and got on a New York subway headed for Columbia University, where we would be staying with a friend of Michael-Sean's When we exited the underground transit what should we be greeted by but the Pulitzer Building, at which point we promptly broke into a rendition of "And the World Will Know" The finished we unloaded our bags and walked around the Columbia campus before going to sleep.

Everyone needs a picture of a Subway Payphone
The next morning we headed down to, you guessed it, the Battery. I caught my first glimpse of Lady Liberty here. Michael-Sean, Jeff, and I got tickets to ride out to Liberty and Elis Islands on the ferry. It was fun, a little rushed though so we could get back for our reserved time for ground zero. It was great to see the statue of Liberty even though you cannot currently go inside, and at Ellis Island it was very interesting to walk where my great grandfather had walked when he came from Denmark. We almost missed our ferry back to the city because Michael-Sean and Jeff started talking with some sister missionaries in the genealogy library while I was wandering the examination rooms upstairs. Luckily we did make it though and got back to Manhattan in time and met up with Steve, the friend we stayed with. We picked up tickets right by Trinity Church which you may know is feature on National Treasure and then we were able to go down through a twisty way of security to finally arrive at the ground zero 9/11 memorial. It was a really great place be, one of my favorite memorials i've been to this summer. We went and stood inline after that to get broadway tickets and then went to 5th Avenue and Canal Street. At night Michael-Sean, Steve, and I went to the Phantom of the Opera which was quite a good experience for my first broadway play. 

First Glimpse

I've got a ticket to ride

Mariner Merchant Memeorial

Jeff, Me, and Michael-Sean, on the ferry with the skyline

Trinity Church
The Freedom Tower

For everyone who wanted to know what the top
of the Chrysler building shines like

This is not our kitchen, it actually is Grand Central Station

Today we went to church in the chapel that is adjoined to the Manhattan temple and then we took a walk through central park and found the statue of Balto and the bridge from enchanted. Then we rushed back to Penn station and I am now on a bus headed back to the District of Columbia. 

We got on the bus at the New Yorker Hotel, which happens
to be where Tesla died