Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Feliz Thanksgiving!

On a whim, I packed my bags and drove down to Baja California for Thanksgiving with two Mexicans and a token white girl. The trip is almost impossible to describe. I think our native friends felt the need to entertain us and show us around which meant we ended up doing some pretty random and (to me) unnecessary things. Instead of writing another long and detailed post I've decided to write a brief overview.

Highlights of the trip include:
Thanksgiving dinner with friends
faux-Latin dancing
crashing a QuinceaƱera
being pegged for Utahns
Ruben...Trumen? Rumen...ate?
a brief moment of freedom in search of a beach
solving Mexico's economic and cultural problems
pretending to understand Spanish
a U-turn on a divided highway in Death Valley...that was also kind of a low point

Of course, no trip is complete without more than a few low points, like:
a steaming mound of chewy sea creatures
a movie called The Perfume
lack of sleep
an 18-hour car ride home in a mysterious time warp
coming home with only 5 pictures

Three cheers for an authentic Mexican experience! Hip hip...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Setting the record straight.

There seems to be a fair amount of confusion concerning some very important issues. Since I've taken it upon myself to help educate the general public, I thought I would address these topics. I realize this post may seem a bit similar to one I wrote awhile ago,'s not...and these things must be dealt with.First things first, as a certified archaeologist I find it highly unamusing when someone tells me there's a lot of "that kind of work" in Vernal, Utah or that their son really likes dinosaurs, too. Archaeology, in essence, is the study of the material culture of humans, it is a sub-discipline of Anthropology. Paleontology is that other thing.

I do rusty tin cans and arrowhead fragments not fossils the size of a schoolbus. There are some similarities between the two: both of them involve digging in the middle of nowhere and neither of them provide steady jobs. This is why I'm working for the Church. Which brings me to my next two points. The Church History Library and the Family History Library are two totally different entities. The Family History Library has the world's largest collection of geneological information. The Church History Library, on the other hand, chronicles the history of the Church through manuscripts, pamphlets, books, photographs, journals, patriarchal blessings, board games, anti-Mormon get the idea...I hope. If one has ancestors tied to Church history, then the Church History Library is an invaluable resource to flesh out some family history.

So, no, I don't sit around and look at microfilm all day. My job is much more glamorous than that...but not so glamorous as to be located in Big Cottonwood Canyon. I really hate to disappoint on this issue but the Archives are in the Church Office Building not the Granite Mountain Records Vault. Before you ask, because I know you will, I have been up there. They have 2.8 million rolls of microfilm and a reservoir of mountain spring water. They have masters of family history records and masters of other important records the Church doesn't want to lose should major catastrophe strike. They also have terrorist drills.

The last thing I want to touch on here is the name Laura. So, all my life I've been Lohr-a. No questions asked. I move to Utah and suddenly everyone wants to know if I pronounce my name Lohr-a or Lahr-a because they know a girl who hates being called whatever they think they're not. For me, if it starts with an "L", has an "r" sound in the middle, and ends in an "-uh," then you've got all the essential parts and I'm happy. Perhaps I grew up with my grandma calling me Lahr-a. Perhaps my mother's been using both all these years. I'm not sure. Either way, I don't have a preference, really. Call me Lahr-a, call me Lohr-a, just don't call me a Paleontologist.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wind is your favorite thing ever?!?

Say that to the old lady with a plastic bag over her head. I know you put curlers in your hair every night at 8:00 right before you go to bed but, c’mon, a plastic bag? What a poor example to children everywhere. One must always think of the children.

I watched as a sister missionary walked into gale force winds the other day and outstretch her arms as if welcoming the wind to pick her up and take her away. If only it had. She must have been from Kansas…or Wyoming. Her companion and she started singing “I Need Thee Every Hour,” not out of desperate need but sheer joy. Interesting selection. Her high-spirited nature got me thinking. Wind?!

Of all the things to choose as your favorite ever. Wind. Not oreos, not hugs, not babies or other small things like walruses, not free (legal) music, not working at the Church Archives, not...more oreos...

I mean, would you rather live in a place that’s perpetually rainy or perpetually windy? Let me put it this way, would you rather live in the Pacific Northwest or an internal combustion engine? Singing in the Rain or Gone With the Wind?

Not only does wind cause tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards but it spreads wildfires and volcanic eruptions...and...pandemic diseases. Heavy rainfall, on the other hand, puts out wildfires and prevents droughts and killer heat waves.

Now, if I remember correctly from my English classes, in order to have a good argument one must concede a few points. Here they are:
1. On a really hot day a cool breeze feels great...not as nice as a little drizzle...but great.
2. We have yet to invent a way to extract electrical energy from rain. Though, if we did, perhaps we could finally take down those wind turbines in Lehi.
3. ...maybe rain contributes to floods and landslides...

I'm not really sure how this became a competition between the forces of condensation and the forces of...well, air pressure and temperature distribution but I have one final point.

Isn't precipitation romantic?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Roommates, reunions, road trips, and errr, babysitting?

This weekend saw a reunion of what some affectionately call the Fearsome Foursome. While I'd like to claim that we didn't come up with that title ourselves, I'm not entirely sure that's true. Let's move on. We met Freshman year in the dorms and lived together Sophomore year (that's where these first pics are from). Those of us still single and living in Utah drove to California to visit the one of us who has moved on.

It was an interesting trip. Plans were few and preparations were minimal. We left Thursday night with plans to stay in Vegas. Unfortunately, all of us neglected to check the Las Vegas convention calendar and our dreams of getting a cheap hotel were thwarted by Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week. We got in a small argument about whether or not $25 each was too much or if we should sleep in the car. For some reason, I thought we had come a long way from being too cheap to even buy a container for our silverware drawer. Apparently some things never change. Luckily we found a place in Mesquite that could satisfy all of our casino...I mean financial needs.

When we arrived in Southern California Friday afternoon I realized that, unlike Utah, it's still warm there...and I hadn't packed for warm weather. In fact, I had brought many things I didn't need (like a sweater) and had forgotten some things that were absolute necessities (like toothpaste and a razor...and food for the drive...and um, cash).

We spent all afternoon visiting and trying to get our friend's 2-yr old to adopt us as aunts. Of course he said my name first. Apparently, the effort put into that plumb wore me out and, reminiscent of times in high school, I spent that night in my jeans. I fell asleep on the couch and was too tired to get up and get ready for bed when everyone else was, and by the time I decided that I really should...everyone else was asleep and I didn't want to wake them up. It would seem my friends don't feel comfortable enough to pester me into action.
Saturday morning we braved the chilly coastal temperatures to visit Venice Beach. We enjoyed the ocean and sand almost as much as the couple near us were enjoying each other. We walked around for a bit enjoying the sunshine, and then took off to see the La Brea tar pits right in the very heart of L.A. The only thing that wasn't free was the museum and the only thing worth seeing was, well, the museum. At least that's what I imagine--we didn't actually pay to go in. On the way home we drove through Hollywood and saw preparations for the premier of Fred Claus at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Honestly, I couldn't see much that makes that area worthy of immortalization--in song, in film, or in the very hearts of the American public.
That night we sent our friend and her husband on a date and promised we would take care of the little guy. Bath time provided a great distraction for Mom and Dad to slip out but somehow by the time we got him out and put on his pajamas he realized he hadn't seen his mom for awhile and was starting to whine for her. The only thing we knew he knew were animal sounds. Rapid-fire questioning commenced replete with actions and spontaneous song and dance. I'm surprised he enjoyed so much spinning and jostling...there comes a time when children are too old for Shaken Baby Syndrome, right?

It's amazing that one 13-yr old can take care of 4 kids at a time and it took the 3 of us all we had to entertain one 2-yr old. Next, we convinced him to participate in a lower-key activity and he picked out a couple books for us to read. Luckily, he was a very responsive child and every time he would get a little whiny and stand up to look for his mommy I would tell him to sit down because we weren't done with the book. Logical reasoning has never worked better on a child...or perhaps he was merely responding to the desperate pleading in my voice. Either way, the next thing we did was to get him to help clean up. Then we backed him into a corner and started singing like Indians, baby shaker and all. Finally he quieted us down and asked, "All done?" At which time, Mom and Dad got home! Good timing!

The next day we went to church and then piled in the car for a long drive. After nearly running out of gas before St. George, we made it safely home. All in all, the trip was a wild success.