Focused on the goal

This weekend, July 31-August 1, is the Families Supporting Adoption national conference.

I have been working on this conference for over four months. I got asked if I wanted to "be involved" and "help out" (such innocent terms), which quickly involved into a full-fledged planning committee, of which I quickly became a co-chair.

Last year was the first time birth parents were invited to attend the conference. There were a total of six classes offered for birth parents, only on the second day of the conference.

Our planning committee (which didn't exist last year either) quickly decided that this wasn't nearly enough. As we brainstormed ideas for sessions and presenters, we quickly expanded to fill both days of the conference. We more than doubled the size of the birth parent portion (which is still barely a fifth the size of the adoptive-couple side).

All of our hard work and time has come down to the wire. The conference starts Friday morning. Of course there will be hiccups, as there have been constantly over the past weeks. But I am so excited.

This conference represents the culmination of my passions. Firstly, I love adoption, I advocate adoption, and I love talking to people about adoption. And this is two whole days of talking about adoption. Secondly, I love organizing things. This conference has let me off the leash, and I have been able to organize and facilitate and detail-out to my heart's content. It's the utmost use of my stage management and administrative abilities.

It's going to be awesome.
It's going to be inspiring. (except maybe for MY presentations!)
It's going to be the adoption event of the year.

And I can't wait for it to be over. :P


Google Docs: A tool for co-writing

I've never really used Google Docs before. I've heard about it, here and there. But I simply have never possessed a need for it. I had Box.net for online storage, where I don't just use my wonderful Gmail account. But then I heard about file sharing.

My friends, this is not just storage. That's what I thought I was dealing with. I have a file, I save it on Google Docs, and then someone else I invite to share can also look at said saved document. And realistically, I could have simply done this through my Box.

But its better. So far beyond better, it's in an entirely different realm. It went from "oh, that's cool" realm straight up to, "THIS IS FREAKING AMAZING" realm.

It's live file sharing. Every time it saves the document, the text gets updated for all the users, simultaneously. And it auto-saves about every five seconds. You can literally be working on the same document simultaneously.

Do you see the potential?

My friend Sam and I are working on a new project, something we've been brainstorming for many weeks now. We have finally started writing. So in an effort to improve our co-authorship, I decided to check out Google Docs.

We can literally co-write. As I write, the text automatically updates itself on Sam's computer, and vice versa. We can make instantaneous corrections and changes. We can compare notes and work from the same set of written brainstorming. THIS IS FREAKING AMAZING.

Ladies and gentlemen, the muse has descended. Please excuse me while I join Google for some much-needed writing time. Ciao!


Harry Potter: A Review

I'll admit it, I like David Yates as a HP director. I know there are a lot of people who don't like the work he's done the last two installments, but I really do. I think that it's artistically appealing, on a visual and auditory level. And he also manages some nice emotional moments.

Even though they are aware that it's a cinematic adaptation, people still forget. They see that HP logo and they want the book that's in their head to be on the screen. It's just not going to happen, folks. Books and movies are entirely different medium, and they have to be treated accordingly for any kind of enjoyment of the latter.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one of my favorite books of the series, though I have found it's often overlooked by others. The thing I enjoy most about the book is the closeness that Dumbledore finally allows himself with Harry. And that was played true in the movie.

I enjoyed the teen romance. Lavender was just as annoying in the movie as I experienced her in the book. Harry and Ginny never quite connected, for me, but that's just a shrug, whatever for me. And the hospital scene with Ron and Hermione was cute.

I do have to admit that the chase scene at the end was anti-climatic. I recognized the reasons for omitting the battle, and I'm fine with that. But Harry practically laid down and took it from Snape. And I felt like Snape should have lost control more. He could have been cold and menacing still, but I felt none of the barely-suppressed fury that I expected, and I felt let down afterward.

Incidentally, I really enjoyed the humor of this installment. I laughed more than I've ever laughed in a HP movie. The jokes were funny, the implied humor was amusing.

Again, I enjoyed the movie on an artistic level. I feel like the cinematography was some of the best we've seen in the series. And the music! No John Williams here, friend! It had only the barest hints of his original theme, and some of it was just plain haunting. The sweeping shots of Hogwarts, the scene with Harry and Hermione on the stairs with the snow falling behind them, the sunset with Fawkes leaving...beautiful.

Overall, I think it was a good movie. I think it stayed true to the heart of the book, which is more than you can really expect from most adaptations. There's no way all of our favorite moments could have been included, and a movie is structured differently from a book anyway. I believe that it makes a solid movie, and I give David Yates a thumbs-up to finishing the series. Now to wait another 18 months...


Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes out this week. I still don't know when I'm seeing it, but hopefully soon! The previews have me excited.

The last movie, Order of the Phoenix, was the first of the movies that I actually enjoyed. I felt that the director and the screenwriter created an excellent adaptation that stayed true to the spirit of the book without trying to quote the book word-for-word. Also...they had an artistic vision. I can't say that for all the HP directors.

Fortunately, David Yates took on HBP. Hopefully, he does as good a job with this one as he did with the last!

Harry Potter is such a strange creature. Deathly Hallows is now two years old, but the franchise is still strong. I grew up with Harry Potter, and I know many who feel the same way. No matter what you say about the style or quality of writing, no matter what you say about originality or lack thereof, you cannot deny that there is something special about Harry Potter. Something that has kept millions of readers and movie viewers engaged for a decade and more.

So yes, I'm very excited for the new movie. I'll give you my thoughts after I've seen it! Stay tuned.


Fourth of July recap

I love the Fourth of July. It definitely ranks among my top favorite holidays. It's the only major mid-summer holiday. It's got the fireworks, the barbeques, the watermelon, the swimming, the red white and blue. The Fourth of July is relaxing.

Especially this year. There were a few instances of fireworks prior to the actual Fourth. Friday night I had dinner with my family, then spent the evening with the Page's, and then with some ward-friends. Saturday morning, I slept in, and then read a book in bed until noon. I got up and cleaned my apartment, which actually was wonderful, because it's been getting ridiculous and I love a clean home. At the last possible moment, I made some rice crispie treats. 10 minutes flat, folks. I love rice crispie treats. They are easy, they are quick, they are cheap, and they are delicious.

Then is was off to my date. That's right. He's from my ward, and I like him a lot. =) We went to the Freedom Festival in downtown Provo, which actually was not as exciting as years past. I now have a good judge on his taste in ties, though. We watched a hypnotist show (it wasn't all that great, but it was nevertheless amusing) and had dinner at the fair. We met up with the Pages, and walked from their house to the stadium.

Now for a funny story. So...I had made these rice crispie treats. At the stadium, they weren't allowing any outside food or drink, and there were a bunch of people at the entrance checking bags and retaining everybody's snacks and whatnot. Well, the guard rather quickly found my rice crispies, and told me that I couldn't take them in. We stepped off to the side. I was in distress! Bret just wanted me to give up the rice crispies so we could rejoin my friends. But I stuffed one bag of rice crispies into the bottom of my purse and buried it with other stuff. Then I went back to the same guard. She was busy poking through somebody's purse. I handed her the second bag of rice crispies, and she just waved us through. Triumph! And so me and my date and my contraband rice crispies proceeded into the stadium.

Then it was time for the Stadium of Fire. I've never been before, and I'm not sure this was the best one for a first experience. But still enjoyable! The best part, to be honest, was the little patriotic dancing girls, who did the wave and other things with their flags. There was SheDaisy, which was tolerable, Glenn Beck and his Music-Man-dancer-singer-peeps, which was odd, and the Jonas Brothers, who went on for far too long. At least we didn't actually want to hear them, though. What with the screaming and the girls behind us who sang every word of every song, they were pretty much drowned out. But seriously...the fireworks were worth the whole thing. They were awesome. They were long, loud and beautiful. Oh, and the military fly over was cool too. =)

After the Stadium of Fire, we waded through the masses on our way back to the Pages, where we sat for an hour waiting for traffic to (somewhat) disperse. We hade cheese and BBQ sauce on Ritz crackers. I'd never tried this combination before, but I'm now completely sold. Mm. Then it was homeward bound after a long and well-spent day.

I love the Fourth of July! I still have a good handful of sparklers that need to be set off. Maybe some post-holiday celebration this evening...

What did you do for the Fourth?


I have the internet on my phone

And it's the shiz. Seriously. I mean, I'm an internet addict anyway. But now I get it on my phone. Last night I was able to check Facebook while in the car with my parents driving 70 mph toward the Oquirrh temple. I can finally grasp the appeal of Twitter--when you can update your status from anywhere, suddenly you want to. It's still ridiculous, but at least it now makes sense. I answered an email in the middle of a croquet game on my lawn later in the evening. I forwarded one last note from my bed before going to sleep.

Welcome to my new addiction.