Friday, January 28, 2011

Please Bless the Refreshments

It's no secret that I grew up in a Mormon family. We went to church every week, read our scriptures, and had Family Home Evening. We didn't shop on Sundays, we paid our tithing and we supported our church leaders. We were the epitome of what a Mormon family should be.

One Monday night when I was about 10, my dad said he had something special for the "treat" part of Family Home Evening. We excitedly made our way through the typical program: Opening Song, Prayer, Testimony, Lesson. Then Dad disappeared into the kitchen.

A few minutes later Dad yelled from the kitchen. "Close your eyes, you birds, and don't open them until I say so!" I sat there on the couch with my eyes closed as Dad came in and handed me a cool glass of liquid. "Don't open your eyes yet, just drink it," he said.  As I lifted the glass to my lips I immediately smelled something unpleasant. I wasn't about to drink some stinky mystery drink, especially one my prankster dad just gave me, so I opened my eyes.

There in my hand was an ice-cold glass of beer. "Take a drink!" my dad said. "No! It smells gross and it's beer!" "It's just O'Douls, there's no alcohol in it, just drink it!" So I tentatively took a sip. A strong bitter yeasty flavor rolled over my tongue and I thought I was going to barf. "Ew! This is gross!" "Come on! Take a few swallows!" "I can't! It's going to make me throw up!" This went on for several more minutes until Dad finally gave up. We'd tasted beer and hated it. Just as he'd planned.

The remaining bottles of beer sat out in the garage for months before they were finally thrown away. It would be years before I'd have the nerve to try beer again. Dad's plan worked, as unconventional and crazy as it sounds. Although, this story doesn't even compare to the time he gave us hash brownies.

Ok not really. But he probably wanted to.

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Job

Whenever somebody asks me what it is I do for a living, I always hesitate for just a moment. There's not a fast answer like 'I'm a nurse' or 'I'm an accountant,' it's more like 'I'manx-raytechnicianandItestx-rayequipment.' Did you get that? No? Well, don't feel too bad, most of my family members don't really know what it is I do either. I imagine whenever people ask about me (assuming they do...) my parents say something like, "Oh, she does something with x-rays" or "She used to do something with lasers, I'm not really sure what she does now."

Back when I was fresh out of high school, I had no idea what it was I wanted to do. So, I headed over to the community college and spent a year and a half working on an associates degree in "General Studies." I was one semester away from getting my degree when I decided to dump that idea and head over to tech school. Why? I'm not really sure why actually. I'll tell you what happened....

I knew I didn't have much time left to figure out what I wanted to do next so I headed over to the library one day and picked up a book full of career listings. I scanned through the book, flipping pages and reading all the different careers available. Somehow I came upon the "Electrical Engineer" and "Electronics Engineer" listings and thought, Huh... why not? Looks like I could make a decent amount of money doing that.

To tell you the truth I didn't really know what the difference was between the two at the time, but an ill-informed career counselor at the tech school told me the Electrical Engineer was more of a designer/book nerd/work at a desk person, and the Electronics Engineer was more of the hands-on end. Completely wrong, but I figured the hands-on approach sounded better, so I chose to get my degree in Electronics Engineering.

I'd originally planned to go through and get my bachelor's degree, but the tech school I went to was really expensive and I didn't think the quality was that great, so I quit after getting my AAS Degree in Electronics and headed out to get a job. Because I only had an associates degree, this put me into the technician category instead of the engineer category. Which, to tell you the honest truth is completely fine with me. I'm not sure if this is true everywhere, but at my current job, the engineers do all the calculations, solve design problems, and do a lot of the thinking work. After they figure out what needs to be done, they tell me, the technician what tests to run, what equipment to use, and what products to build. So I get to do a lot of hands-on work with tools and test equipment.

So what do I currently do? Well, I'm basically an engineering technician for the "Research and Development (R&D)" group at Varian Medical Systems, which designs, tests, and manufactures x-ray tubes. They use these x-ray tubes in all sorts of areas such as CT scanners, airport baggage scanners, mammography, angiography & cardiology, radiographic imaging, etc. My job is to help test the new tubes and help fix problems with tubes they currently produce. I get to build and test x-ray tubes, write up build procedures for the manufacturing areas, order tools and parts, and write up technical reports.

I really think I lucked out as far as choosing a career that suits me well. I had no idea what I was getting into back when I chose my career, but somehow I managed to pick something that allows me to use my strengths and do things that I enjoy. I have a team of intelligent people I get to work with everyday in the engineering group, but I also get to work with all kinds of people all over the plant. I'm constantly doing new things and every day is different. Some days I'm working on spreadsheets or writing reports at my desk and other days I'm covered in dirt and grime with a wrench in my hand. Plus since this field isn't very popular with the women folk, I pretty much work with men all day. For me that's a huge bonus. All the women may hate me for saying this, but I'd much rather work with men. Less drama, more humor. Plus, they'll eat all the treats I bring in without whining about their hips getting huge. Win/win!

I hope this helped to explain what it is I do. Life sure is interesting in how it turns out. Things have a way of working out for the best sometimes, and I'm glad in this case I was able to find something that makes me happy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Four Virgins

The FourVirgins? Why yes! This post is about four virgins. Let me explain.

Yesterday was my virgin ice fishing trip this winter. It was also my virgin ice fishing trip to Pineview Reservoir. During said trip I caught my first ever crappie AND perch. So there you have it! Four virgins.

 My first crappie.

My first perch.

You'd think I'd have spent millions of hours at Pineview Reservoir over the course of my life. I mean, my grandparents have lived in the area for more than my entire life. I've driven by it countless times, but including this weekend, I've only ever been there twice. I've definitely been missing out.

On Saturday Seth and I met up with The Navajos and Eric (that should be a band name), to do some ice fishing. We chose Pineview because of its close proximity to our apartment and the fact that it was completely iced over. Pineview is a little different from most lakes in the area because it's not a trout lake. It's known more for perch, crappie, and tiger muskie. We set out to catch some perch and catch them we did!
We probably showed up later than we should have because the fish were only steadily biting for an hour or so after we got there. The total for the group was 8 perch and 2 crappie. Seth decided he needed more perch so he went out again early Sunday and caught 13 more.

We all had a great time and I'm sure this won't be the last time we ice fish at Pineview this year. It was definitely a beautiful place to be.

 Seth was really angry at his fishing poles. Or maybe he was giving them a pep talk. I can't remember.

 Eric, Ramona, and Gabe heading out onto the ice.

 Woah. That's deep.

 Seth showing us the ways of the auger.

Eric tries his hand at drilling.

Seth with his first catch of the day.

If you don't fish, you may be wondering why on Earth you'd want to catch and keep such small fish. I'll tell you why. Those perch are good eatin. Never cleaned a perch? I hadn't either! But we found this great video on YouTube that explained it really well. Also just FYI, these things are like mini catfish in the sense that they DO NOT DIE. Our perch were sitting out on the ice almost frozen solid for several hours after which they were put in a ziplock bag and taken home. I was half way through gutting one when it started flopping around. ALL of them did this. Creepy huh?!

For the record, we took way longer to clean ours than 10 seconds a piece, but this tutorial made it way easier to clean the fish than anything we would have come up with on our own.

Gutting the perch... it takes lots of concentration...

Some finished cleaned perch. That Leatherman Juice knife is the best for gutting fish, especially after being sharpened by Dad Hanson.

Don't know how to cook these guys? Well you're in luck! I've got the best recipe ever for fried fish from the fish cooking master herself.... Mama Hanson. Check it out over at Gravy Training!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Space Garden!

You may want to sit down for this. I have something very shocking to tell you.


Lots of somethings actually. HERBS to be exact. In this very apartment! The one that has no sunshine ever! How is this possible you ask? Easy...


You know, like outer space. The final frontier.  

This is a garden that would fly on a spaceship with astronauts or aliens. Ok fine. It isn't really a space garden. But that's what I call it because it looks so futuristic and it can grow plants in any room even if it's completely devoid of light! IT'S MAGIC. And you don't even have to be good at growing stuff because it tells you what to do! When the blinky light says add more water, ADD MORE WATER. When the blinky light says add plant food, ADD PLANT FOOD. That's it! Amazing huh?!

You can choose from several different types of plants to grow from tomatoes and peppers, to herbs, to flowers. I chose herbs. Because I cook a lot remember? And those fresh herbs are so damned expensive. Want to see what I chose? Too bad! HA!

(Look how huge it is already! And isn't that seed case so cute all hanging on and such?)

 Genovese Basil
(This is the tradition basil you find in the grocery store that's used in Italian cooking.)

 Italian Parsley
(aka Flatleaf Parsley... this little guy is just barely starting to wake up so you can't really see him yet.)

(This one is also pretty tiny still, but there's a couple sprouts!)

(Look at those cute little leaves!)

(One strong shoot coming right up!)

(I really can't wait for this one! Yum!)

And here it is in all it's wonderful growing glory... the Space Garden!!

And the best part is, I can grow stuff all year long! I even got several more herbs I can plant once these ones are done: Mint, Dill, Globe Basil, Thai Basil, Marjoram, and Lemon Basil. I'm going to have to figure out how to use all that stuff!

I'd always wanted one of these things but they're a little pricey for an everyday spur-of-the-moment purchase. But you know how my genius, wonderful husband is. He makes little notes in his brain about all the weird things his crazy wife likes and extricates them at just the right moment (namely birthdays and CHRISTMAS), filling my world with pure bliss and surprise and loveliness.

Thank you dear. You are quite amazing. And I love you.