Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Graduate School, Or, How I Got Thrown Out of a Class at ASU

Okay, so I know I've been a slacker blogger, and to be honest I'll be surprised if anyone is still reading this. But now that we have (semi) reliable internet in our new apartment in Provo that has a (slightly) acceptable speed, I should be blogging much more often.

But only if graduate school and working part-time does not kill me.

Yes, I started the ASU Liberal Studies program last week.  So far, it hasn't been too terrible or time-consuming, although with a few projects and some longish papers due in the next 6 weeks, I know it will get harder. I was taking 2 classes that span for 7.5 weeks--or, at least, I WAS.  Now I suppose I still am taking two classes, but to be honest, I am confused about it.  Here's why.

One of my core classes was a Film Theory and Analysis class (the other is Ethics and Science-BLEH).  I am not sure why this is a core class, but it is.  I've never taken a film class  before, so I was kind of interested and thought it would be a pretty good experience, or at least a better experience than my Ethics class (again, BLEHHHH).

I did realize before class that there would probably be rated R movies on the syllabus.  This is a problem for me because it is part of my religious and personal standards as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not to watch rated R movies. (Yes, I've heard the argument that exposure to violence and s.exuality makes a person more in tune with the human condition.  But I think that more often, it just makes you more used to violence, and less careful in making wise moral choices. These two things are something our society should be super concerned about, in my opinion.)

Back to ASU.  While I guessed there would be rated R movies, I thought the number would be limited, and I could find a way to get reliably edited versions or make other arrangements.  It would all work out.

Then I looked at the syllabus.

Every single movie was rated R.  All of them.  All, that is, except for a few which were unrated.  Looking at the movies, I am not sure that this meant the movies were harmless.  There was also one film with a rating I did not even recognize.

Let's just say, I did some research and now know what the rating means.  It means NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER LET A PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF 17 WATCH THIS MOVIE.  If that's not clear enough for you, I will just say that the film was totally banned in several COUNTRIES.

Yeah.  The whole country.  Multiples countries, actually.

So, this story is beginning to be very long-winded, but I will finish soon.  I started looking at options for edited movies.  I looked at subscriptions, TV versions, BYU versions, possible Netflix edited versions, everything.  But there were some movies that I could just not locate, probably because A) they were foreign or not mainstream titles, or B) there was so much bad stuff that no one had attempted to edit them.  One source basically said, "If this movie were edited, nothing would be left but the opening credits and....yeah, that's pretty much it."

I also began to feel uncomfortable with watching edited versions.  How did I know the editing job could be trusted?  Was I still keeping my standards if I allowed someone else to determine that a movie was now acceptable for me to watch?  I was also uncomfortable with the idea of just not watching the movies and trying to struggle through the course by making up crap whenever I was expected to talk about the movies. That isn't honest, and I would be insinuated that I had watched the movie, instead of standing up for what I believed in.  I couldn’t drop the class, because the drop deadline was already over (that came speedy quick!), and it was a core class anyway. I did know one thing--I wouldn't be watching the films.

I emailed the professor, trying to explain my situation in as humble and clear a way as possible.  I did not know how she would react.  After all, we’re not at BYU anymore, Toto.
And can I just say, she was totally lovely about it.  She accepted my standards gracefully, but she also told me I couldn’t participate in the class discussion without watching the full versions of the films that were on the syllabus.  She told me she had talked with the Liberal Studies program manager (eek!) and that he had told me I could drop the class with special permission and take a Reading and Conference class with him, where the material would be up to my own discretion.  This had been a solution I had never considered before! She then bid me farewell.

My first thought:  I was just kicked out of a college class!

My second thought:  I’m so grateful my professor had the decency to kick me out of class!

The second thought probably should have been my first.

Some things  I’ve learned:
A) While ASU is definitely run different than BYU, people are willing to work with you.  I appreciate that immensely.
B) It is totally worth it to lose credit for classwork you have already completed if it benefits you in other awesome ways.  Sunk cost, my friends, sunk cost.
C) My other class is with the same professor.  It is about Ethics.  I could not have demonstrated my opinion on ethics any more clearly than I already have.

Okay, long-winded post and pointless story over.  It feels weird and good to be back in school again.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Okay, so I know that the events that happened in these pictures took place awhile ago, but hey, you still want to know what we did in Nauvoo, right?

We first drove in to the Carthage Jail, where we met my parents.  They had flown in to see this leg of the trip with us, and it was fun to have them there! We took in a lot of sites in the general Illinois/Missouri area in a few days.  It was fun to be in Nauvoo while the pageant was going on. Also, if you ever go to Nauvoo, make sure you see the show Sunset on the Mississippi.  It was super hilarious.

Here are some pictures (I know you want more):

Carthage Jail.  This is where Joseph and Hyrum were martyred.  It was a very humbling place to be.

The second story window and the well 

The Mississippi River driving into Nauvoo.  It was gorgeous! 

The burial site of Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum 

The Mansion House.  This is actually not owned by the LDS church. 

If you drive north out of Nauvoo and take a little walk into the woods, you find this old Nauvoo cemetery.  When Greg and I took a church history class from Susan Easton Black at BYU, she said she feels like this is one of the most sacred place in Nauvoo because so many faithful Saints were buried there, and this is where temple work was revealed. 

One of Greg's favorite tour sites in Nauvoo was the Browning gunsmith home/store.  Lots of guns. 

The ballroom on top of the Assembly Hall (or I think that's what it was called).  This was one of my favorite places.  The Senior Missionary lady said 5 prophets would have been in this room at one time (Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow) 

Rocking chair made by Brigham Young 

I dragged my family to Sarah Granger Kimball's home outside of town.  This is where the Relief Society was formed! 

Nauvoo Temple.  We did a session here one of the mornings and that was really nice. 

Where the Saints would have left Nauvoo to go West.  This is also probably where a lot of the first baptisms for the dead were done. 

After we left Nauvoo, we went to Adam-ondi-Ahman. It was such a beautiful and peaceful place. 

This is where the cornerstones of the temple still stand in Far West. 

Haun's Mill.  There is not much here, but the church has just bought this site and is trying to locate where things would have been so that they can commemorate it better.  We had to drive through some seriously rough farm roads to get here.  I'm talking dirt paths with overgrown grass through someone's field.  But hey, Greg's GPS still found it. 

The temple site in Independence.  That curly building in the background belongs to the Church of Christ (RLDS) 

Liberty Jail.  They have rebuilt this jail from the original materials inside of another building.  This was a very powerful place to be. 

The loose rocks on the side made it so no one could tunnel out and escape. 

The Memorial at Richmond Cemetery.  This is where Oliver Cowdery is buried, but the grave site is not marked. 

And...looks like I finally took a picture of my parents.  I promise they were there the whole time! 

Anyways, after the trip ended, we drove to Idaho Falls by way of Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.  And now we have less than a week until we can move back into our own apartment!  Yay!  This probably sounds silly but I'm excited to see our own furniture again! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kirtland and Michigan I know I'm a super slacker blogger lately.  I didn't drop off the face of the internet, I promise.  Or, if I did, at least I'm back, and dedicated to posting EVEN MORE PICTURES OF GREG AND I ON OUR ADVENTURE.

After we left DC, Greg and I spent one afternoon and one morning looking at the LDS church history sites in Kirtland and Hiram, Ohio.  When we were at the John Johnson house in Hiram--where the 76th and many other sections of Doctrine and Covenants were received and Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered--a flash flood warning and tornado warning sounded.  So, we got to sit in Elsa Johnson's kitchen, basically just us and the Senior missionaries, for probably an hour and a half, listening to the crazy storm and thinking of all the incredible things that people would have experienced in that home.  Sadly, we don't seem to have any pictures of the house, probably because of the insane weather. Once we left the house, we did have to make a few u-turns to find a country road that had NOT been turned into a cascading river.  Seriously.

Newel K. Whitney Store

The Temple Quarry

Happy Greg...budding beard 

The Kirtland Temple.  This building is amazing and it was a meaningful tour because of everything that has taken place here. 

One of the workshops

The Chagrin River, next to the store and the Visitor's Center.  One of Greg's ancestors was baptized here. 

The Ashery.  Somehow they made a lot of money from ashes.  I forget how, but it was smart. 

After the excursion to Kirtland, which was fantastic, we spent a few days at Greg's brother's house in St. Joseph, Michigan.  It was a really fun little town, and, of course, we loved getting to stay with them! We were not super good at taking pictures on this leg of the journey, but that is not a reflection of how much fun we had! WE HAD A LOT OF FUN :)

Ellie must have had a rough day...

Went to the beach at Lake Michigan.  It was almost as cool as Neptune Beach in Florida :) 

Another rough day, apparently. 

Here is a large Heather Hand.  I either wanted the camera badly or did not want my picture taken. 

I still have to blog about Nauvoo, Adam-Ondi-Ahman (sp?), and Liberty Jail, so stay tuned.