Friday, April 26, 2013

The Good Thing About Old Cars

 Our family got a new vehicle, but in order to be economical it's 10 years old.  There's pluses and minuses to that.  Minus, there isn't an "aux" slot to hook up an ipod.  Plus, there's a spot for cassette tapes!  Heh, we've lost most of our cassettes, but I found some in my little collection.

That's pretty much it: Country stars singing Disney tunes, a religious Japanese tape, Pocahontas, and Conversational Klingon.  The Klingon is rather fun to listen to.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Favorite Cat and Favorite Photo

This morning my brother Robbie was getting his final project finished for his Digital Photography class.  A local studio printed the images out, and he was attaching the mats to the prints.  I stood there watching, wondering about the future of photography.

Back in High School I took a photography class.  My Mom found a Canon Rebel at a pawn shop, a nice one, and that trusty old camera was my constant companion for many years.  I learned how to develop the film (putting the film roll into a bag, and by touch I would unroll it and then place the roll into a device where I could pore in chemicals, and so forth), and I then developed the pictures in a crowded dark room.

I was lucky in that my family owned a photography business, and my Dad had the dark room setup in his bathroom.  It was so crowded in school that I started developing the photos at home.  It was late Fall, the Sunset taking place around five, and I would go into the bathroom and set everything up.  Towel over the window to protect from possible light.  Three trays set out and filled with old, reused chemicals.  I would then carry the heavy, large projector and place it securely on the counter.  The light exposure didn't have a timer, so I used a piano metronome, set at 60 bpm, and counted out the seconds before shutting off the light.  I loved it. 

How many people will have that experience in the future?

I was talking to my brothers about it this morning, and they think that film will stick around a little bit longer, because so many photographers love the art.  But I predict that it could easily get expensive.  It was never cheap to begin with.

But there's something romantic about it, in the same way I find carriages and record players romantic.  A charm that can't be erased.

The above picture is one I took, developed both the film and photo, and then matted.  It's also the only picture I have of my favorite cat of all time, Angie.  My Mom and I adopted her one day while walking the Visalia mall.  Never having adopted an animal before, we had no intention of doing so.  We were walking by the store front, and Angie caught our eye and heart as we walked past.  We paused, looked at each other, not saying a word, and walked back to the store, both going to the same cage amongst a store of cages.  We knew she was supposed to come home with us.  There was no debate.  No discussion.  It was just right, it was supposed to happen, and so it did.  Nobody at home knew until we showed up with her!  And I was late to an Odyssey of the Mind meeting, which just happened to be at my house . . . my friends weren't so happy with my tardiness, but that's okay.  Angie was worth it.

Angie was special.  She died a year and a half later.  It was night, and being an outdoor cat she would travel around.  A pack of wild dogs killed her.  Poor thing.  Happened on one of the hardest days of my life.  I was being tested, but I bore the experience with grace . . . though I later had a good cry.

So this photo is precious for many reasons. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Your Potential, Your Privileges

I love this message by Dieter F. Uchtdorf.  I've seen it many times, and it gets me every time, because it hits home.  Because it's true.  How many of us do this?  How much more can each of us do?  How much more can we experience?  What joys are we all missing out on?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Oblivion: Movie Review

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

The year is 2077.  We won the battle against an alien race named the Scavs, but in the process we lost the Earth.  They didn't take it, but our Moon was attacked, leaving a volatile planet in its wake.  Humanity has left to live in a colony on Titan, a moon orbiting Saturn, and Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) with Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) have stayed behind to repair drones as Earth's remaining resources are gathered.  Then a mysterious object falls from the sky, and Jack soon learns that not all is as it seems.  What really happened during the war?  Who really won?

Oblivion is a movie full of beautiful visuals, which is no surprise considering that director also directed the visual splendor TRON: Legacy.  Though not as imaginative as TRON, the movie industry is ripe full of post-apocalyptic flicks, the visual effects are still stunning, and the World interesting.  That can only go so far.

I did enjoy the mystery aspect of the film and found myself quite engaged in the storytelling, but it wasn't until I got home and started playing the movie in my mind that I started seeing all the flaws.  By movies end there are holes left that I would have liked filled, and not all questions are answered or explored.  Who were the Scavs?  Though the aliens are mentioned, and play a huge role with what's going on, they get left on the wayside.  What we do see is clich├ęd. The drones are supposed to be hunting them, but after a couple reveals some scenes suddenly become flawed (just got in a small debate over this during dinner, but I stand by my statement.)

The acting overall was quite good, and I really enjoyed Andrea Riseborough's performance which is full of great depth.  One of the major faults of the movie is the character Julia (Olga Kurylenko), who has a strong connection to Jack.  She was majorly two-denominational, and there's a lot of flaws surrounding her in terms of plot and story.

I did enjoy the ride the movie provided, and seeing it on the big screen is worth the experience, but one viewing is good enough for me.

MPAA: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality/nudity.         

Okay, this is totally off topic, but thinking about TRON makes me lament the fact that Disneyland no longer has the People Mover ride.  I really miss it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


(Frozen Strawberry Lake, last Friday)

"No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.  A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means.  This is an obvious lie.  Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.  After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in.  You find out the strength of a wind by trying to talk against it, not by lying down.  A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. . . . We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it."

~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sou da ne . . .


A little conversation I had with my brother Steven about Japanese.

Sarah: Does "sou da ne" mean anything?
Steven: Yeah, it does.
Sarah: What does it mean?
Steven: Yeah, it does.
Sarah: No, what does it mean?
Steven: Yeah, it does.
Sarah: Oh, it means "yeah, it does." 
* Facepalm *

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Odyssey of the Mind Utah State Comp. 2013

 Last weekend was the Utah Odyssey of the Mind State competition, and I had the fun pleasure of being one of the judges, which is something I've wanted to do since leaving High School in 2000.  The program is growing again here in Utah!  I heard last year there was 11 or 12 teams competing, and this year there was about 40.  Next year it's going to grow even more :0)

Each year every State and Country creates a trading pin.  I've heard this is quite the big deal at World's.  These are Utah's 2013 pins, which I've got to say 
are pretty awesome!

I found a really cool webpage that has all the Odyssey of the Mind pins 1989-2012 if you want to check them out.  You can view by State, Country and year.

Above is the "crazy hat" I wore as a judge. Flying pig duck tape on a cap with foam wings.  I actually didn't know this was a tradition!  I do remember at the CA State comp. back when, there was a judge wearing a Mad Hatter hat, and he belly laughed in all the right places.  It was the greatest thing ever!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Wild Experiment! Testing Water PH

I love experimenting and figuring things out.  And as you can see here I can, on occasion, get a little carried away.  I was having fun making notes 
and taking pictures.

A couple months ago I was listening to a program about the PH in both our bodies and in water. I'm not  quite sure where the science stands on the issue, I've read so many contrasting viewpoints, but being a waterholic (water is pretty much the only liquid I drink), I was surprised when I realized the water I drink is actually quite acidic.

I drink a lot of water.  A lot!  As in well about the typical 64 oz.  A PH of 7 is standard in water with everything above 7 being Alkaline, and anything below considered acidic.  With some preliminary testing I discovered that I prefer the taste of acidic water, and actually don't like the taste of alkaline.  But, because I drink so much acidic water (my home filtered water and dasani), I can easily down 20 oz in a couple minutes and still feel thirsty, and that's with drinking water throughout the day.  Something's not right with that.  In short the water I'm drinking 
isn't quenching my thirst.

For this test I used three different testers and tested four types of water: Tap water, our in house filtered tap water, 6 drops of pHion booster in 8 oz of water, and 3 drops of pHion booster in 8 oz.

I got the pHion booster drops, because bottled water with natural PH (Arrowhead and Fiji Water) adds up cost wise, and though our tap water has natural PH, I don't like drinking hard water.  The instructions on the drops say to add 6 drops of each bottle to 8 oz of water, but I honestly don't like the taste of the drops, and I don't really care if the PH is around 9.5-10.  I just want to drink water with a PH of 7-8, the
 way nature intended.

The first test was with the strips pHion sent me through the mail.  You can go online and special request them.  It took only a few days.

Tap = PH 8.5
Filtered = PH 6.5
3 pHion drops of each bottle = PH 9.0
6 pHion drops of each bottle = PH 9.5+ (the color was really bright)

Next I used pHydrion Vivid strips, which are designed for testing saliva
Tap = PH 6.4
Filtered = PH 5.8
3 pHion drops of each bottle = PH 6.2
6 pHion drops of each bottle = PH 7.0

For the last test I used a pool test for water, and since this test is designed to measure water and not saliva, I believe these results are the most accurate.  Unfortunately it's also limiting as it only measures 6.8, 7.2, 7.8, and 8.4.

Tap = PH 7.2
Filtered = PH -6.8 (the color was much lighter then the lightest)
3 pHion drops of each bottle = PH 8.4+
6 pHion drops of each bottle = PH 8.4++ (very bright magenta color)

So I've been drinking PH balanced water for a while now, and I have noticed it does make a difference.  I don't have to drink as much to feel satisfied, and I'm getting use to the taste.  When I'm not drinking tap, Arrowhead, or Fiji, I use the drops, but instead of the recommended 6 drops, I find using only 3 drops just fine.  The taste is better, the PH is still Alkaline, and the product lasts longer.  The drops aren't cheap!  I also feel better, and I don't have the acid reflux problem I use to have.

Monday, April 15, 2013

How We See Ourselves

I found this a couple minutes ago on Facebook.  A friend posted it, and having liked the message of past Dove commercials, I was curious about the theme for this new one.  Nothing prepared me for the emotion I felt while watching this short video, because it's true.  I've fallen in these cracks.  I don't have the best image of myself.  And everyday I struggle to feel beautiful, even though others tell me I'm beautiful, I don't feel it myself.  But watching this video and seeing how others struggle with these same feelings opened something up in me.  We are all beautiful.  And now I want to try and see myself the way others see me, and not in the way my mind distorts and manipulates my perception.  Why are we so hard on ourselves?  It's not reality.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Odyssey of the Mind in Utah

"I joined [Odyssey of the Mind] because I am naturally strange and I wanted a way to prove it." When I first read this I laughed out loud.  Who would say such a thing?  Who would admit to that?  I was standing in the Barn Theater Lobby in Porterville CA, my fresh-off-the-press yearbook sitting on the ticket window ledge. Though I was alone, I still did a quick glance to see if anyone heard.  Then I continued reading, "said club treasurer, Sarah Stufflebeam (Sr.)"  

I couldn't believe my eyes.  There had to be something wrong.  Did I really say that?  My mind was blank, and then, searching memories seven months back, I remembered filling out a club questionnaire for the yearbook, and yes, I had written that.  What's funny is that it's quite true.  What's also funny is that I never imagined anything I wrote would make it into the yearbook, so I was just having fun, being quirky.  My writing is never safe when I'm quirky.

I joined Odyssey of the Mind in my Sophomore year of High School, 1997-1998.  Some of my friends had been active in the program for many years.  I loved the stage, but my school didn't have a drama department, and I was desperate to perform.  In my Freshman year I was over at my friends Freda and Jeffery's home, and they had just finished an OM (which is what we called it back then) regional competition.  They were showing my family the video of their Classic Teams performance, and we got a quick OM crash course.  I was intrigued!  Imagination!  Creativity!  Competition!  Performance!  Interesting challenges!  I had to join!  And I did.  And it was epic.

What's awesome about Odyssey of the Mind is that it's about all types of creativity.  If you're interested in creativity, no matter your skill set or background, there is a place for you in OotM (which is what the abbreviation is now . . . I'll still go by OM, because that was all the rage when I joined).  There are six problems, five competitive, and one for the young tykes (K-2).  But the main categories are as followed: Vehicles, in which you build a vehicle and perform tasks. Technical, where you build cool contraptions. Classics, problems involving architecture, art, and literature. Structure, where you build a structure with wood and glue, and then see how much weight it holds until it breaks. And Theatrics, in which acting, singing, and dancing is typically involved. 

All three years I performed in Classics, and I loved each long term problem my team had the opportunity to solve.  My first year we were tasked at creating a health food product and creating a commercial with a theme song.  Cream of Pickled Walnut Soup!  And Tchaikovsky was our spokes person.  The second year was Oh My Fair Shakespeare.  We had to create a skit a la West Side Story.  What we ended up with was Taming of the Shrew set during the cave man creation of the wheel . . . and our spontaneous song tribute to the flamingo.  And my senior year was a King Arthur theme.  We had to find an Arthurian legend, portray the original legend, and then portray how the legend came to be without the knights being real.  So fun!  Lancelot finds a castle with his gravestone, complete with his name, and is then attacked by zombies, or something like that.  My senior year was during the 1999-2000 competition season, and my team made it to State and won 3rd place.  My brother Michael was on the Technical team where he played a fruit cake, literally, and they also won 3rd at State.

But something else happened that year that was interesting:

"Our organization was incorporated in 1999, when we took over the charter for OM Association, Inc."

That's taken from the Destination Imagination website.  This next bit is taken from wikipedia, "After debate over the for profit nature of Creative Competitions, the controlling corporation for Odyssey of the Mind Inc., a non-profit organization Destination ImagiNation was created by members of the Odyssey of the Mind Inc. board of directors."

That happened right before my Senior year of High School.  My team had heard from our coach that something was going on in the higher OotM levels, and that there was a chance we wouldn't be competing.  From what I heard (and I was getting this info down the line), there was debate in California over which program the State was going to follow: Destination Imagination or Odyssey of the Mind.  I heard there was a split in the State, and our region went with OotM.  But because of the split, awards, like the ones below, would never be made again.                    

I heard that in the deal Destination Imagination got rights to OM, and Odyssey of the Mind got to keep their name, but were no longer legally allowed to go by OM, and thus OotM was born.  And we were told, as students, never to say we belong to OM.  Which was hard!  And it didn't last.  My friends and I called Odyssey of the Mind OM during our at home meetings, and we still call it OM today.

In 2001 my family moved to Utah.  I was graduated, but really wanted my 3 younger brothers to do Odyssey of the Mind.  They would have been awesome at it!  Michael at least got the opportunity to participate his Freshman year, but I'm sad Steven and Robbie never got the chance.  I would have loved to see their long term problems.  

See, from all the searching I did, I couldn't find any Utah association to Odyssey of the Mind, though I heard it was once quite popular.  What I did find was Utah Destination Imagination info, and since I was still bitter over them taking "OM," though they abbreviate theirs to "DI," I personally didn't want to get involved.  Though creativity is still apart of DI, it's not Odyssey!  And I've never cared for DI's problems, anyway.

Odyssey of the Mind is the original.

Every so often I check around to see if there's Odyssey of the Mind springing to life here in Utah, and to my relief and surprise I found the Utah Odyssey of the Mind Facebook Page a few months ago.

And Tomorrow is the State Competition in Park City Utah, which is open to the public if you want to check it out!

Taken directly from the Utah's OotM website:

 Saturday, April 13, 2013
Ecker Hill Middle School
2465 Kilby Road, Park City 

7:30am - 10:00am: Team Registration & Weigh In
9:30am - 3:00pm: Long Term & Spontaneous Competitions
11:00am - 2:00pm: Creativity Festival
11:00am - 3:00pm: Lunch Sales by Park City Pizza Co.
2:30pm - 3:45pm: Crazy Hat & Banner Creation
3:45pm - 5:00pm: Team Parade & Closing Ceremonies

Noticed this little thing called Spontaneous Competitions?  That's referring to Sponts.  Short term problems a team is given on the spot.  I'm bitter towards them.  Our team was really bad in this category, and we always dreaded it.  The Stage Comp I was in, the King Arthur challenge, well, we placed in the top two spots in both Long Term and Style, but got second to last in Spont.  We were so close to World's!!!!  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The "Done With Gravity" Song Writing Process

 Here's a peek at my songwriting process!  Lyrics don't write themselves, which is fortunate because I get to have fun discovering the words.  For me it's a process, and typically starts with a concept or title.  This song was different.

I still remember walking around my room, brainstorming, my small, silver Olympus recorder in my hand as I sang random phrases, praying to strike gold.  Then I sang:

"No, No, I don't want to cry, cry
I don't want to lie, lie
and wait for the World to fall down"
It stuck, through the ending got changed to "World to shatter," which flows better.  The rest of the song went through many revisions, and luckily a lot of it got changed.  Some phrases, though they didn't survive the final draft, would lead to better phrases and ideas.  You can click on the images below to read some of my original thoughts.

What is now the bridge was originally the chorus, and was much longer.  Every now and then, when I sing the song to myself, I hear the original phrasing and melody, and though I really like it, it wasn't right for the song.  The last three lines of the original chorus got knocked off and turned into a bridge when Steven started arranging the song.  The mini instrumental interlude he added was interesting, quirky, and spontaneous.  We had a lot of discussion over it, discussed form and what not, and decided to keep it. During this interlude Steven originally had an instrument I called the "alien sound."  We loved it, but the alien sound never survived the final mixing.  It was too strange.

 Oh, and the song was originally called "Won't Stay Down." That title was around for quite a while until it was replaced with the better "Done With Gravity."  Now Steven and I are working on a piano version of the song, and we're really liking it.

You can read the final lyrics here
And view the video here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Upside Down Movie Review

 Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Imagine a planetary system where there are two worlds, right next to each other, each with their own individual gravity, and everyone and everything that are born or created on one world is permanently attached and bound to that planet, constantly being pulled back, unable to venture to the other planet, though they sit right above or below.  Those are the worlds of Upside Down.  The two Worlds look at each other.  "Up Above" and "Down Below." One city is rich, the other poor.  And there is a tower that connects the two.

But this isn't a story about that.

This is a love story.

Two lovers "pulled apart by gravity" is taken quite literally. Eden () and Adam ()--I don't think those names were chosen by mistake--live in opposite Worlds.  Adam lives in Down Below, poor and orphaned when a large explosion, caused by Up Above, destroyed everything he loves.  Eden, from Up Above, comes from a solid background and seems to have all she needs.  The two grew up next to a mountain, and as children they meet after climbing to the peeks.  A friendship is born, and Adam would pull Eden, via rope, to his mountain peek every time they have a secret render-vous.  Their friendship is forbidden, as there are laws against having contact with those from Up Above and Down Below.  Of course things can't last.

I didn't even know about this movie until last Thursday!  My brothers and I had just posted our "Done With Gravity" music video, fitting theme, right?, when my Dad found out about this movie while looking at movie times, and that Upside Down would be leaving the theaters the next day.  We rushed down to see the movie,  and we all loved it.  That night, when one of my brothers was visiting with my sister-in-law, aka his wife, we showed them the trailer, looked at the times and realized that if they wanted to see it on the big screen we had 20 minutes to make it to Sandy UT, which would be quite the feat.  We made it!  And I saw the movie twice within 8 hrs, and I'll be buying the movie on Blu-ray.

To date the movie has only grossed $102,118 domestically and a little over 8 million Worldwide.  It's a shame.  The most beautiful movie of the year went unnoticed.  I'd drop everything right now to see it again, just so I can marvel at the creative visuals.

The only reason I didn't give this movie a 5 out of 5 is because they broke their own laws of physics.  I can suspend belief when our own physical laws are broken, but when a movie sets up their own physics, and then brakes said physics, I have a problem.  But even then I don't care!  I loved the movie that much!

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for some violence)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tracking Elevator

And now for something a little different.  I love this video!  Tracking Elevator by Shugo Tokumaru.

Friday, April 5, 2013

"Done With Gravity" Lyrics

Watch the video here.

(Verse 1)

No, No, I don't want to cry, cry
I don't want to lie, lie
and wait for the World to shatter

No, No, I don't want to give up
I don't want to end up surrounded by all the clatter.

(Bridge 1)

I'm done with gravity
I won't hit the ground
I'm going to touch eternity

(Verse 2)

No, No, I will not stand by, by
I'm not gonna lie, lie
about all my hearts intentions

No, no, I will not surrender
I'm not going under
I've got a new direction

(Bridge 2)

I'm done with negatives
I'm not gonna drown
This is my time to finally live


I'm done with Gravity
I will not be bound
I'm done with Gravity
I'm not going down
I'm up high
In the sky
In the Stratosphere
I'm done with
I'm done with
I'm done with Gravity

(Repeat Chorus)

~ Sarah Stufflebeam

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Done With Gravity" is now on Youtube!

 The Cerulean Jade music video "Done With Gravity" is finally online!!  My brothers and I worked really hard on this.  I hope you enjoy:0)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Optimistic Fisherman!

I know I said that the video for "Done With Gravity" was coming out yesterday, and this obviously isn't it!  We had a few last minute changes, and we really want the video to be the best it can be!  The wait will be worth it :0)  And the art Steven has been putting together is amazing.  I've been watching it, and I'm blown away by what my brothers have put together. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Coloring Eggs with Natural Dyes

 My sister-in-law found a blog post from Blisstree about naturally dying eggs, and we tried some of the tips out.  The whole experience was quite interesting!

We mainly tried the Red Cabbage for blue, tea for red, and the turmeric powder for yellow.  This is what happened:

 The red cabbage test was the most interesting!!!  Blue from red cabbage?  But boiling red cabbage really does turn the water a deep blue color.  Then we noticed something quite startling (and promptly experimented a little because it was too cool of a discovery not too), when you add vinegar the blue water turns purple!   So we did two over night tests: leaving eggs in blue water without vinegar, and leaving eggs in the purple water with vinegar.

The different shades of purple come from the length of time the red cabbage boiled and steeped in the water.  The deeper the hue, the longer it steeped.

 For the deep red water we used Red Zinger tea from Celestial Blend.  Red Zinger tea with honey is so good! (This last bit has nothing to do with dying eggs; I just thought it was a good idea to mention the fact.)

 We attempted green by boiling spinach and beet leaves, but the water was a yucky yellow color, so we never actually put the eggs in to see if it worked.  I now wonder what would have happened.

The results after letting the eggs sit overnight!  This was really fascinating.  The beautiful blue egg came from the purple "red cabbage" water with vinegar.  The second egg, that is still quite white, came out of the blue "red cabbage" water with no vinegar.  The third egg, a beautiful yellow, was from the turmeric, and this egg really didn't need to sit all night, because, unlike the other eggs, the yellow color started working immediately.  And the brown speckled egg came from the tea.

Overall I'm still overly fascinated by what I learned about red cabbage.

For kids, because the other eggs have to sit in the color water dye for so long, this wouldn't be terribly fun as an activity, but maybe there are other natural color dyes out there that work faster.  But who doesn't like a little science!?

For more information and tips you can check out the Bliss Tree blog post "Health Hack: Natural, DIY Easter Egg Dyes."