Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve at the Gardners

My last blog entry had mixed reviews. I thought it time to maybe put up something a little more classy. But since I don't have anything classy to share at the moment this will have to suffice. Perhaps one day it will be classic. Hope you enjoy. Ned's on the left...I'm on the right. Please don't judge us. We're just amateurs trying to have a little fun. For the record, I had moments of stage fright during the performance, but somehow overcame. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


If you've been tagged you're supposed to write 6 things most people don't know about you. I was tagged a while back, but haven't followed up on it because it seems to me that if you read my blog, you know me pretty well, and if there's something you don't know, it's probably because I don't want you to know. So why would I put something in public domain that I don't want others to know? Oh well, here's my best shot at putting down something you probably DIDN'T want to know about me. Yeah it's a little twisted, but kind of fun....and that's how I'd describe myself to someone...a little twisted, but fun. Pardon my manner of spewing words onto my blog...

1. I once vomited on my brother Mark's head. I'd like to claim that I couldn't help it and that it was an accident, but honestly, I think I timed it perfectly. Does that make me a bad brother? Probably.

2. I can be a bit dramatic when I'm sick and tossing my cookies. For example, after driving through Baltimore and going up to Pennsylvania to help Ned move to New York I became very ill. I'm pretty sure it was the McDonald's hamburger I ate earlier in the day. (This is karma at its best. Anyone who eats at McD's deserves to be ill). In any case, my friend Hyrum, sister Emily, and brother Ned had to put up with my retching and awful....and I mean awful groaning in Ned's small apartment until the wee hours of the morning. I think they still have scars from that night.

3. In my younger years I suffered from some sort of acid reflux syndrome. It doesn't usually rear its ugly head these days, but when I was younger I could basically throw up at will (thus, the probability that #1 was not an accident). Not a very cool talent if you ask me, but hey, we're not supposed to hide our talents now are we? Hyrum was one of my best friends until 3rd grade. At that point our school was split and I didn't see him for about the next 6 years. One of the first things he says to me when our friendship strikes back up in 9th grade is...."Matt, the one thing I remember about you was that you had really bad breath." I like to tell him that it was a different Matt....and there were plenty of Matt's to pass the blame on to, but in all likelihood his memory was probably dead on.

4. Years ago, in a BYU class, I volunteered to be part of what seemed to be a harmless competition. Me against another student eating a few hot peppers. There were 3 different peppers, increasing in hotness (kind of like me each year that I age). The last hot pepper was a HABANERO. I highly recommend you don't eat these whole. It's not good for you. I won't mention that I cried in class after the competition...that would be embarrassing. What I will say is that I ran home, holding the peppers down as long as possible, and then blew chunks of half- chewed peppers out my nose and mouth. I think having a chunk of habanero stuck in my nose is probably one of my most painful memories. I would like to thank my teacher at BYU for giving me the opportunity to participate in a pointless, masochistic competition that nearly killed me. It is probably the only class at BYU that I will never forget.

5. We had 2 cats growing up - Bouncer and Rascal. I don't like cats very much, but Bouncer and Rascal were part of the family. Bouncer had longish hair and would often cough up hair balls...disgusting. Even more disgusting was the time she coughed up a tape worm. I assume right about now you are wishing you hadn't read this right before lunch. Sorry, you can't say I didn't warn you that these were probably things you didn't want to know about me.

6. I was once an Anthropology major at BYU. If you would like to add to my list of synonyms for "blow chunks" I would appreciate it. Anthropologists use Eskimos as a good example of how language reflects one's culture. Not surprisingly, Eskimos have a plethora of words to describe snow. Are you surprised that we have so many ways to say "throw up"? I assume it is a reflection of our American culture (or perhaps lack thereof).

Alright...I'm supposed to tag 6 people now. But I'm changing the rules a little. Please share 6 things I never wanted to know about you. Apparently there are no "touch backs". Wet willies for everyone who doesn't respond.

Erin, Ned, Emily, Megan, Lindsay, Mom/Dad

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Updated Mouse Discussion...

Anna posted the mouse dilemma on a dicussion thread. Looks like I'm not the only one that has struggled with these decisions before. Read on if interested.

Oh yeah, and I may just be delirious from all the job hunting, but I noticed my niece had left one of her toys near the mouse trap. I thought it was pretty funny.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What Would You Do?

We have mice in the house. The other morning there was a fairly large one stuck in Mom and Dad's bathtub and Lindsay had heard one scrambling around in the kitchen. So naturally we set up a few mouse traps. The mouse in the kitchen was very elusive. For about 3 nights in a row we set the traditional trap and each morning the cheese would be gone with the trap still ready to spring. My parents accused me of playing a trick on them....which I didn't, but wish I had. Anyway, we took the battle up to the next level. We bought tar traps. I won't go into too much detail, but the tar trap is basically a flat piece of plastic with a small indentation for a thin layer of tar-like substance. Another night went by and we still weren't catching the little rodents. Last night we finally showed our unconquerable strategic decision making abilities and surrounded the traditional trap with 4 tar traps. The only way to get to the cheese was through the tar. Before the lights had gone out we had our mouse. Now here's the moral dilemma I faced. He was stuck in the tar, but still very alive and terrified. Having tar stuck to his feet and his nosed buried in the sticky stuff was his fate sealed? Did we have to find another way to finish him off? I didn't think I was up for the task, but my dad's eyes clearly said, "Your free rent this month depends on you taking care of this mess." So here were my options (parental discretion advised...the following suggestions may not be appropriate for young children).

1. Go find a shovel and "finish it off"

2. Drown the mouse (Dad's meek suggestion)

3. Burn the mouse (Anna's suggestion...but apparently she was suggesting that it be cremated and the ashes be scattered out of respect after the ordeal was over....not as a way to kill the mouse)

4. Let someone else deal with it (Lindsay's suggestion)

5. Just throw the trap and mouse in the garbage and assume it will either freeze, starve, or suffocate.

6. Surgically remove the mouse from the tar pad using a razor blade and set it "free". (Anna thought that it would be appropriate to set it free in the McDonald's dumpster for enduring our shup with the dramatic night).

So most of the options didn't seem that humane, and I decided to go with the last. I used the broadside of a pencil to hold the mouse down in the snow (Dad helped some too) and then I, paw by paw, released the mouse from the tar trap. The mouse clenched the pencil with its teeth (as if this was some real surgery that was being done without any sort of pain killer and the only way it could bear the pain was to sink its teeth into the soft # 2 pencil).

I'm sure this was much more dramatic than it ever had to be. I released the mouse from the tar, but couldn't get the tar off its feet. He was stuck to the cold concrete and probably not going to make it anyway. Oh yeah, and I think I also surgically removed a few of his toes on the last remaining paw. As I tossed the little guy into the field I wondered if I should have just knocked him out with the shovel at the beginning....but I just couldn't. So what would you have done? We may have more mice, so I'll probably be faced with this decision again.

Maybe we should find a live mouse trap so we can keep them. Mom would love that. Then we could feed them to our new pet snake.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Can You Choke on Your Tongue?

Now I don't go around asking myself this question every day, but it is a question I asked myself just this past week. How often do you find yourself in a park, kicking a soccer ball around with your brother, and out of the corner of your eye you see a 45+ year old lady (while throwing some bread to the ducks in the pond with her two sons) drop like a rock, clutch her chest with her other arm stretched out stiff in the air, and start foaming at the mouth? I lie not, it happened to me.

Mark and I were just finishing a newly invented, highly competitive, accuracy game with the ball when I realized something was seriously wrong. Mark gave me a strange look when I suddenly broke into a run toward the pond, obviously premature to his to his momentous victory. I could read the expression on his face..."Come on Matt, it's just a game. I promise not to beat you next time as long as you don't jump in that pond." Then he quickly realized that something had happened, and as any good sidekick would do, followed me to see what had called my attention.

When we reached the small family the little boys (probably about 9 and 4 years old) looked terrified as their mother's eyes had rolled back and only the whites were flickering. Incredible amounts of saliva appeared to be choking their mother as the unexpected seizure took over. My adrenaline was pumping and I felt unsure what to do to help. I searched my memory back to the good old scouting days, almost half a life time ago, when I proudly received my First Aid merit badge. What was I supposed to do in this situation? Neither Mark or I had our cell phones with us, but we quickly noticed the lady's cell phone which had fallen a few feet away. I called 911 and started telling Mark...."don't let her choke...don't let her choke."

Later that night when I got home I did a Google search on the subject (naturally). I realized I need a refresher course on First Aid. We didn't do anything that we shouldn't have done, but we didn't do a few things that could have helped.

It took a police officer about 8 minutes to arrive and the paramedics about 10. By the time they got there the lady had regained consciousness and seemed more concerned about the 2 twenty- year-olds (one almost 30....that would be me) who were crouched by her side asking her how she was. I'm sure my scruffy beard didn't make me look all that friendly, and she had no recollection of having had the seizure.

At one moment during the seizure it appeared her body had given up and that she had stopped breathing. In that moment I told Mark (I was still on 911) to give her a blessing. For those of you who aren't LDS (Mormon) I should explain. All males in the LDS church may receive the priesthood, which we believe is the power of God. This allows us to perform God's work with his permission. One of our duties as bearers of the priesthood is that of giving blessings of healing and comfort. These blessings are similar to a simple prayer where the priesthood holder acts as voice and says what they feel inspired to say in that moment.

Mark gave the blessing and immediately her body relaxed. It really was quite amazing to see how dramatically things changed from that moment on.

In the end, I'm still not sure if you can choke on your tongue. At least Google confirmed that you can't swallow your tongue. I often find it funny that I put so much trust in Google as my all-knowing source. There is something to be said about putting our faith in God when we feel helpless. Maybe I should try it out more often than that.

p.s. -- If you want to know more about what to do when having a seizure you can check out the following links. I can't promise that the information is perfect....I found it on Google.

By the way, her son said this had never happened before.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I should be....

job hunting, but I decided to go for a short bike ride that turned into 26 miles today. Beautiful day though. I'm glad I did it, although the last mile had a nice steep hill that just about killed me. Ten bucks I'll be sore tomorrow. So my job "options" right now are as follows....

(Option = I have applied, am currently applying, or waiting to hear back)

(I wish Option = They made an offer and I have to say yes or no)

1. Partners of the Americas Student Exchange Program Officer (waiting for an offer...not sure how I feel about the salary range)

2. Time Keeper at the local indoor soccer facility (master degree not required)

3. Sales Assistant for local non-profit (who knew non-profits had salesman?)

4. Almost duped by a get rich quick scam (I usually see them a mile a way, I must be getting desperate)

5. Community Coordinator a high school student exchange program (in the process of applying, but appears to also be a sales position, which I'm not extremely excited about)

6. Consultant/Trainer for an organization in Wisconsin (most interesting to me)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What am I doing in Utah?

So a few of my friends have asked....what are you doing in Utah? Note the stress of this question lands on "doing" and not "Utah" for all those who may be sensitive about their Utah residence. Utah truly is a good place...and incredibly beautiful this time of year. So what have I been doing? Well, here's a short list....

1. I go to the international cinema on BYU's campus about once a week. Good films....and it's free -- just my kind of activity.

2. I go watch the BYU women's soccer games. Good soccer and well, I'll be honest...really cute girls (the ones playing soccer). Does that make me creepy? Hope not.

3. I weed my sister Megan's garden and do yard work. I am grateful for sisters who don't have time in their schedule and are willling to pay me to be their yard slave. Thanks Megan.

4. I throw dinner parties with old friends (ok, I only did this once).

5. I take vacations from my "vacation". (I went to St. George to see Lindsay run a marathon and the next week I went to Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo with my brother's out just before the fires hit.)

6. I lift weights in the morning. (Yeah...I'm getting big. Ok, maybe not....but I do lift a little.)

7. I've started studying Chinese again. (On my own.)

8. I talk to a Chilean entrepreneur periodically about importing olive oil....need to get moving on that.

9. I play online scrabble....thank you Anna and Facebook.
10. and finally, I look through lots of job listings and every now and again apply to a job that I find interesting.

That's what I do.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Importing Olive Oil and Avocado Oil from Chile

I've started to do more research on importing olive oil and avocado oil from Chile and it really seems like there is some potential here. Although Chile has yet to establish a reputation as a main olive oil producer, I see plenty of potential. Regarding price, Chilean olive oil should be able to keep transportation costs lower by shipping to the western US. I've tried the olive oil myself and am impressed with the rich flavor. Here are a few pictures of what I would like to start importing. I still need to figure out a number of other issues before I get started, but I'm excited about using my creativity to see how I can get the ball rolling here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Any guesses?
Maybe I'm crazy, but I'd like your opinion. Here's the situation: I have a laptop. It works fine...usually. I came to visit my parents in Utah earlier this week and that's when the problem starts. My laptop won't boot up in my parent's house. I take it in to get it checked by the pros, and it works problems. I take it home...and it won't boot up. I've tried to turn on my computer about 20 times in the house and it won't work. I tried using the scientific method and hypothesized that my parent's house is I took my laptop outside. It starts when I take it out to the backyard...but not indoors. I took the laptop in again to the "pros", saying it was having problems...but of course they found no problems. Maybe my friend Hyrum was right when he pointed out years ago that I was a complete idiot when it came to computers. Or maybe I'm just crazy and hallucinating.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Moment of Fame on Youtube
Ok, maybe 25 views on Youtube doesn't constitute as famous...but it's a start. For the second year in a row the La Jolla Singles Ward has held a man pageant. After being denied participation the first year I dedicated myself, through disciplined manipulation, to becoming a real live participant. Anyway, the first minute or two is a lot of talk, but then you get to see my real talents. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Done with School Forever?
I shouldn't say never, but I feel happy enough to be done with school that I'm not sure I'll ever be going back. But then again, you never know. I finished my master degree in International Relations at UC San Diego back in June. This posting is a little delayed, but for any of you that I haven't talked to in some time I thought I would try to get you up to date. On those late nights when I should have been writing term papers or finishing an econometrics paper (my favorite of course) I could often be found seeking any excuse to procrastinate...which I have found can be very common in post-graduate programs. Here's one example....if there's something you should be doing, Youtube proves be a great way to avoid doing that thing. Enjoy...(I warn you...this may give you nightmares...and yes, it's for real.)

Ughh.....Job Hunting

A little too much fun in South America has left me job hunting at the moment. This is going to require some patience on my part. I remember when I was about 10 years old and they asked us in school what we wanted to be when we grow up. It gave me anxiety then...kind of like it is right now. Funny how little some things change over the years. Still wondering what I'm going to be when I grow up. I guess since 30 is rapidly approaching it's time to consider growing up and taking on some serious responsibility.

Everyone says its about hear goes...anyone know of a good job out there working as a program manager for an international non-profit? Well, is worth trying.

I applied for a job in Seattle today working for an organization called One World Now. Looks like they do some interesting work with disadvantaged high school students, providing after school programs and scholarships to study Mandarin or Arabic while studying abroad. I'm also working on getting my own business setup so I can start dabbling in some importing. I did a little research today on olive oil prices, and starting to understand the industry a little better. Now I just need a license and people to sell it to. It seems like in the olive oil world there has been talk about Chile entering the U.S. market for the past couple of years. Maybe if I've timed it just right I can get in on it. Whatever happens it should be a fun project to work on while I look for other work. If I don't find something in the next few weeks I'll start teaching English again at the school that I taught at last year...ICAE. Here's a snapshot of the school and its surroundings. It's not incredible pay, but it should help pay the bills while I hunt.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Leaving Chile in less than 24 hours....

This has been an extremely long but good month. I fly to Peru tomorrow early in the morning and should be meeting up with Ned and Emily in Lima around noon. On top of trying to get over a nasty cold I also came down with the stomach flu this past weekend and have been wondering how I´m going to survive backpacking in Peru these next two weeks. However, I´m finally starting to feel a little better and hope that I´ve seen the last of Montezuma´s vengeful ways. I have one last errand to run in Santiago and then it´s back to Batuco to pack up. I met a guy named Oscar in Santiago who lived in Provo for a few years studying at UVSC. He´s been involved in a number of import/export ventures and wants to send a few olive oil and avocado oil samples back with me to try and enter the market there. It should be an interesting project for me and something to get a little experience in exportation.

Hasta Peru.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Temuco, Villarica, Pucon, La Serena...

After spending most of my time in Santiago I thought it was about time to get out of the polluted city and see some of the other amazing areas Chile has. So last Saturday I jumped on a bus and headed south with Carolina. She has a friend in Temuco which is about 9 hours south of Santiago. The region is beautiful with the Andes to the east and incredibly green farmland. When Mom and Dad came to Chile at the end of my mission we visited Puerto Montt further to the south which was quite similar. I´ve taken a few pictures but never have the right equipment with me at the right time to download them. Maybe I can get Carolina to help me tonight since the house I´m staying at actually has internet. Thus I´m not counting each peso that I´m spending as I type. Anyway, back to Temuco...we didn´t do much there since I´ve had a nasty cold for the past week. However we did go to church on Sunday and found a very nice ward (about 50 people) with a pretty strong group of single adults. Tuesday, after a few days of rest and wanting to get out we decided to jump on a bus and travel an hour south to Lake Villarica and Pucon a nice resort town. If I had been feeling better I would´ve liked to have gone skiing on Volcano Villarica. Next time I guess.

So with 4 days in the South we decided to head north of Santiago and took a bus up to La Serena. After 18 horas on a bus with one transfer we arrived last night. The family here is great and quite entertaining. Anyway, we´re going to head to the beach today and over to a valley in the Andes tomorrow and Saturday. There are a few observatories there which are famous around the world and we´re going to see if some connections and get us in since we don´t have reservations.

Can´t believe I head to Peru in a week. This trip has been a lot of fun, and I feel like I´ve been gone for months.

That´s all for this morning.

Friday, July 06, 2007

La Izquierda...

Pictures would make these entries a lot more interesting....I´ll see what I can pull off tomorrow. Just to give an update of what I´ve done this past week. Last friday, Carolina a friend of mine in Santiago, invited me to go to Vina del Mar for the weekend. It´s about an hour and a half outside of Santiago along the coast and quite beautiful when it isn´t cloudy. Things here have been quite cold and I´m really glad I brought my good sleeping bag. So Carolina stayed at her friend´s house Pamela who has a son who was having a birthday party. I prefer spending time with people instead of going around and looking at all the tourist sites. Pamela and her brother are really interesting people who are extremely educated and are part of the strong left (politically speaking) here in Chile. We definitely had some interesting conversations and my Spanish was put to the test. Claudio is in his mid twenties, studying at a university in Valparaiso, and extremely creative. Recently a famous performing group from France (Royale?) came to Chile and they set up a disaster scenario in downtown santiago and had a huge doll (30+ feet tall I think) walk around downtown and was controlled by the actors. Anyway, Claudio, wanting to help with a protest at the University in Valparaiso decided to make a similar doll (is there a better word than doll? can´t think of one at the moment) but one that represented the director of the university. They took the doll around Valparaiso and had him looking for his ¨blue envelope¨ (similar to the pink slip -- basically saying he should be fired). A few students also decided to go to Santiago and pose naked in front of the Government building to show there discontent. Two of the five protesters were at the house for Pamela´s son´s birthday party and I was happy to see the "other cheeks". Anyway, they were in the newspaper and it was interesting to be closely associated with some leftists as this seems to be a very strong trend considering the positions Bolivia, Venezuela, and Argentina have been taking lately. Seems like it is taking hold in most countries down here at least on some level.

Anyway, Carolina has proved to be a great tour guide and will be taking me down to Temuco and up to La Serena a week from Saturday.

I also had an interview this week with an NGO that works with environmental issues in Chile. They seem to naturally want to tap into my connections at the World Bank for potential funding. I might take a look at how they could tap into Bank funds, but it seems like a lot of the WB´s focus has moved away from Chile and is looking more at Africa, so funding is becoming a serious issues for a lot of Chilean NGOs.

Alright, Mamita has lunch waiting for me and the missionaries should be coming over. Signing out...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Finally made it to Santiago

I walked all day today...feel like a missionary again. I saw a family I havent seen in 10 years. By the way, I{m in a small internet cafe and the keyboard is in "Spanish" so you{ll have to ignore some of the typos. I have eaten 4 completos dogs (chilean style) since I arrived. They{re actually not as good as I remember..but still not bad. They pile on tomatoes, avocado, and mayo. I should probably eat something else.

A short list of things I did today....

Saw more than a 1000 dogs (i might not be exaggerating...really)
Stepped in dog *&"! 3 times
Tried to kick a dog once, missed, but avoided "una mordida"
Was licked by a mean looking but very nice rotweiller (which apparently sleeps in my bed)
Saw a dog eat its own vomit (sorry if that grosses anyone out)
And ate... yes....another hot dog

Did I ever mention there are a few dogs down here?

Alright, that[s all for today.

I{m tired.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I thought I said Chile´po....
After approximately 32 hours of traveling and just 30 minutes away from Santiago the fog decided to roll in, and our plan decided to go elsewhere. So my wishes to see Argentina were granted. I´m hanging out in Mendoza, a beautiful city that reminds me of Europe (even though I´ve never been to Europe) just on the other side of the Cordilleran (The Andes Mountains) from Santiago. I could actually see Santiago pretty well from the sky and could pick out all my old areas even though it was 2am. Emily would be proud of my birdseye mapping skills. So this morning I´m hanging out at a very nice hotel hoping I don´t have to pay last night´s bill. I also went for a little walk this morning around the downtown area. I could tell the air was quite polluted by the small cough in the back of my throat by the time I finished. Being winter here there is a bit of an inversion, but overall the sky is pretty clear and it isn´t too cold. It´s amazing how many feelings from my mission are rushing back being down here. It´s been eight years and just seeing Santiago from the air and walking around Mendoza has reminded me a bit of what it was like to be down here. My journal entries don´t seem to conjur up the same emotions. It will be interesting to see how I feel after being here for a full month. I´ve talked a little about looking for a job down here, but not sure if I´m being very realistic about that. I typically make decisions based on how I feel about things, and I´m pretty sure a month will tell me if I could handle it down here.
Last night I met a guy named Raul as we headed to the hotel. He´s from Peru, probably in his mid-40´s and works in exporting/importing heavy machinary. He was asking me a lot of questions regarding exporting back hoes from the US. Fascinating, I know. I volunteered to look up which states had sales taxes and if there were tariffs in the US for exporting such things. While I´ve wanted to get involved in more non-profit work, I´m also interested in learning more about export/import with the US and South America. Raul also happens to be from Cuzco where I´ll be in just over a month. Now I have a friend there that I can visit. His sister owns a hostel in Puno where Ned, Emily, and I will be for a day or two. Anyway, I think people are waiting to use this so I´ll wrap up. Until my next entry...which hopefully isn´t too far off. Signing off from Mendoza...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lesson of the week...

When you go to your own birthday party, don't do the following. (This is assuming you'll be expected to blow out the candles in front of what I now call "former" friends). I learned the hard way last night that eating sour candy is an incredible stimulus for saliva production. So the lesson...Don't eat lots of sour candy right before you blow out the candles on your cake. I think the pictures tell the rest. An embarrassing moment? Yes indeed. Actually, the people there must be my true friends since only one or two opted to not eat the cake after my disgusting episode. I knew I was in trouble the minute I started blowing the candles out, but I live by the rule that you just can't stop blowing out candles...the shame of not finishing the candles would be much greater than dousing the cake with one's saliva.