Monday, July 30, 2012

Anti Boredom Week

Last week I posed a question: 

Is it possible to actually die of boredom? 

I thought it was a fitting inquiry seeing that July is National Anti Boredom Month, and as a patriot, I attempt to observe all official (and unofficial) National Holidays. (Free Slurpee Day is July 11th... always mark your calendars.) 

While I did find some scientific research to argue that boredom can lead to shorter life spans, it seemed kind of inconclusive to me, particularly since no one who's actually died of boredom has survived to talk about it. 

Which is why I thought this week's "Things I'm Gonna Do This Week" would be a great opportunity to prove that boredom isn't as powerful as we think it is. That maybe it's more of a state of mind than a state of being. I envisioned spending "Anti Boredom Week" paying close attention to everything that happened and summarizing it into a life affirming blog post that would forever free the human race of boredom's fearful clutches!

But then I got bored... so I decided to go skydiving instead.

video

Now to say that this, my first skydiving experience, was somewhat impulsive is to make an understatement of the highest degree. There were less than 24 hours between the moment I reserved my appointment and the moment I was falling to the Earth. But that actually turned out to be a good thing. I didn't have time to over think it. 

In my video of the jump, however, you can see the moment when it all sinks in. It's after I witness the med student before me disappear out of the plane like he's recreating the first episode of Lost. My professional skydiver guides me up to the open door, and despite the fact that I had just met him a mere 15 minutes before, I begin to rest my head on his shoulder like we've been spooning every Sunday night for the last six years.

But my favorite moment of this video is the actual fall. Never before in my life have I ever had a problem with playing to camera. (My childhood home videos are a terrifying example.) But hard as my pro tries to get me to show off for his wrist cam, it's obvious I have no interest in doing anything other than react to the two miles of air between me and the ground. And what a reaction it is!

Skydiving was truly unlike anything I've ever experienced. It was exhilarating, and terrifying, and inspirational (and windy) all at the same time. And until you actually do it, you just don't know.

Maybe that's where boredom comes from: not knowing. Like when you don't know what to eat for dinner, or what to do on a Friday evening. Sometimes we even get bored because we don't know what else there is to know! 

But what I took away from Anti Boredom Week is as long as you keep doing, you will always find something new to know. That doesn't mean you have to go jump out of an airplane, but it does require you to be so fully invested in what you're doing that you forget to play to camera. That's when the real magic happens. And let's face it; there's nothing boring about magic.

To see the video of my skydiving adventure, make sure to visit the blog at http://www.jeffreyscottparsons.com/2012/07/anti-boredom-week.html

Monday, July 23, 2012

Things I'm Gonna Do This Week- July 2012


Is it possible to actually die of boredom?


We may never know.  I suppose the problem is when you're literally "bored to death," the whole dying thing gets in the way of letting others know about it.

But a modern day study in England may provide a little more understanding surrounding this overly dramatic turn of phrase.  According to Todd B. Kashdan, Ph.D., over 7,500 London citizens between the ages of 35 and 55 were interviewed during the late 1980's. One of the questions they were asked was whether or not they felt bored at work during the past month.  Then, 20 years later, those same people were tracked down to see if they were still alive.  Researchers found that those who reported being bored were 2.5 times more likely to die of heart problems than those who hadn't.

Now obviously there is some speculation about this study.  Could "boredom" actually be to blame for these deaths, or was it more likely the choices that stem from that boredom?  I mean, let's face it, chronic cases of boring afternoons rarely lead to stress free exercise routines and celery sticks...

Still, the point is boredom and the behavior surrounding it can be dangerous!  Which is why I thought it important to point out that July is National Anti-Boredom Month.  It's also the reason I have dedicated this month's "Things I'm Gonna Do This Week" to leading the crusade against that form of torture sometimes more inhumane than waterboarding: feeling bored.

We've all felt it.  Even when there's plenty to do, boredom can sneak up on you and make you and your mundane tasks feel even more, well…mundane.  But boredom doesn't always necessarily refer to what you're doing so much as how you feel about yourself when you're doing it.  So, that's what I'm gonna do this week.  Not only will I pay extra attention to what I'm doing, but also to how I feel about myself when I'm doing it.  That, and I might go skydiving.

Check back next week for the results!


View the results of Anti Boredom Week

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Peach Pie


I've always equated Summertime with fruit.  It was always the season of making homemade jellies & jams and playing outside in the big apricot tree.  And even more prominently, it marked the time of year for fruit stands.

While I spent much of my youth dreaming of being on the "Great White Way" in New York City, I was actually living on the "Famous Fruit Way" in Northern Utah.  This nickname for the one and only highway running through my hometown was derived from all the local fruit stands that would pop open for business during the summer season.

Though the landscape of the old highway has definitely changed since I was young, (possibly now earning the nickname of "Utah's Famous Subdivision Way") I still like to remember it every summer just as it was.

Which is why I thought it appropriate to make a Summer Peach Pie this month.  There were many occasions during my childhood that I remember picking peaches.  Of course I hated it because the fuzz on the fruit always made me itch.  But after all was said and picked, there really was nothing quite like digging into a fresh, juicy peach right off the tree and then sticking to everything because of the peach juice that now served as a nice compliment to the itchy fuzz.  

This recipe, however, is a foolproof way to enjoy the prized fruit.  It comes from epicurious.com and was recommended to me by a friend and fellow pie aficionado.  It suggests that you leave the skin on the peaches, which I did, and rather enjoyed.  All in all, this peach pie recipe isn't too sweet, and is filled with warm and savory flavors that make for a great ending to a Sunday dinner on the patio.  Take a look-


Summer Peach Pie with Vanilla and Cardamom

2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
½ vanilla bean, cut crosswise into ½ inch pieces
3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon (scant) ground cardamom
3 ¾ pounds firm but ripe unpeeled peaches, halved, pitted, each half cut into 4 slices
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
Whipping cream (for glaze)
Your favorite pie crust recipe (2 disks)

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 400° F. Combine 2/3 cup sugar and vanilla bean in processor; blend until vanilla bean is very finely minced. Sift vanilla sugar through strainer into large bowl; discard any large bits in strainer. Mix flour and cardamom into vanilla sugar. Add peaches to flour-sugar mixture and toss gently to coat.

Roll out 1 pie crust disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to ½ inch. Spoon peach mixture into crust; dot with butter. Roll out second pie crust disk on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Drape dough over peach filling; trim overhang to 1 ½ inches. Fold top and bottom edges under, pressing together to seal. Crimp edges decoratively. Using small sharp knife, cut 2-inch-long X in center of top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush crust lightly with whipping cream; sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar.

Place pie on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden, peaches are tender, and juices bubble thickly through cut in top crust, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool until lukewarm, about 2 hours.

Serve pie lukewarm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.


Now, I definitely learned a few new things while making this pie.  Thing #1- Cardamom is really great.  I loved baking with it.  It's like ginger and lemon all rolled into one, yummy spice.  Thing #2- Cardamom is really expensive.  $10 for one jar, and that was on sale.  And Thing #3- Vanilla beans!  Never worked with them before.  Kinda cool.

Still, I'm not gonna lie.  With regards to this Summer Peach Pie, my inner Willardite was anxiously crying out the entire time.  No matter how yummy it may have tasted, I couldn't help but think it would have been even better with some peaches from the "Famous Fruit Way."


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Laugh-time

There are many reasons to scoff at our society's unhealthy relationship with modern technology.  Today, however, I have no interest in addressing them.  Instead, I want to shed some light on what I consider to be a few of the greatest things to come out of the Internet Age.  They brighten my gloomy days, make the sunny ones even better, and on top of it all, they're free.

Mark Twain once said, "Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand."  So for your safety, please sit down as I share with you some of my favorite online videos.

Hallelujah?

Having had my fair share of onstage disasters, I often find it therapeutic to laugh at the misfortunes of other performers while being grateful that the night I fell during West Side Story has not found its way onto YouTube.  That being said, thank goodness this performance of Handel's The Messiah has.  Be sure to notice how the applause afterwards sounds like a question.


Lion

The "science" behind this 1980s exercise video is absolutely wrong!  But everything else about it is oh, so right.



Miss Congeniality

Talent competitions in local beauty pageants are filled every year with fierce competitors all wanting their chance to shine.  But in the online world, I believe this particular performance will forever reign supreme.  Stacy Hedger probably didn't win the crown this night, but somehow I think she'll always be a winner.



Marshmallow Game

You gotta hand it to the Japanese.  I'm continually impressed by how far they will go to create a popular game show.  Like this one, for example, where I'm not sure if the contestants win anything other than my gratitude.

 


Colors of the Voice

Marla Mindelle is a respected musical theatre performer, and I'm not sure this rendition of "Colors of the Wind" proves that.  It does, however, elevate her to a fascinating category of performance art that I have no idea how to describe.



To All Cat Haters

This video is so awesome it didn't even need the first "e" in the word "awesome."  It's more like, "Awwww... some cat."



Now, I am fully aware that my sense of humor is pretty specific, so if you did not find any of these videos comical, by all means search out your own set of clips that will make you giggle.  If by some strange reason you did enjoy this random compilation of ridiculousness, please feel free to watch them as often as you like.

In this rigorous game of life, we all need a "laugh-time."  It's one of the ways we know that life is good.  We can't really depend on life to be fun, but with the right tools, we can always depend on it to be funny.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Last Night I Walked Along the Beach


Last Night I Walked Along the Beach
by Jeffrey Scott Parsons

Last night I walked along the beach.
I watched the glitter in the tide.
It rose up just to say hello.
We're not that close of friends.

But still the waves rolled gently in.
I smiled as they kissed my feet.
Despite my peaceful solitude
I never felt too dry.

Last night I walked along the beach
to see what I had never seen,
to find some distance from myself
while staying close to home.

And as the sun dipped in the blue,
I watched with neither blink nor breath,
but hope that as the day would rest
my mind would follow suit.

Last night I walked along the beach
and felt much more than simply sand.
A lesson from God's gallery
of how to say goodbye.