Monday, April 20, 2009

On Memory

My professor for personal finance this semester, Scott Marsh, offered an extra credit project that involved using a memory technique to memorize a main concept from every chapter of the Book of Mormon. I'm rather obsessed with the idea of improving my memory so I volunteered for the project. It turns out that he used the same numbers to letters method that I read about in a talk (Squeezing Milk from an Orange: An Easy Approach to Remembering Scripture,” New Era, May 1977) while I was on my mission. I already knew the basics of the approach from my mission and Professor Marsh's addition to them was great. Though I haven't yet memorized something major from every chapter of the Book of Mormon, I'm well on my way and I've found the method to be incredibly useful.

Professor Mash asked if anyone would like to volunteer a half-hour of their time each day for about a month during the summer to continue the project. I assume that we'll be moving on to the Doctrine and Covenants and New Testament as well. Anyway, the reason I write about this is because I think the program is actually making my memory better. Though I'm sure that some people are just born with a high capability to absorb and retain lots of information, I'm definitely not one of those. Programs like this help me stretch the meager brain that the kind Lord saw fit to give me.

Another though about memory: I've been using memory associations (I'm not sure if that's what you call it) to study for my finals this semester and I've got to tell you, it really blows my mind how much more you can remember by associating the new information with other things that you already know or with interesting images or even just with other new things that you are learning. I had a list of 17 items that I wanted to memorize for my personal finance test: mentor, path of progress, education, good writing skills, good speaking skills,show me the money, counselor, tax advice, prosperity from prosperity, innovative problem solving, teamwork, remembering, hard work, expert testimony, temptation, and marriage. Though I didn't need to memorize these items in order, I did because it was easy. I made up the following association train (I just made up that term, too) to remember it and now I can't forget it.

A young college kid goes and asks a college professor to be his mentor. The mentor tells him that he will be his mentor and that in order for him to succeed he needs to pick a path of progress (which is a job that will have high earning potential in the future). In order to pick such a career he'll need to go to college and get an education. At college, he'll have to learn to write well and speak well (in public). After he gets done speaking to a group of his classmates he surprises them by asking them for money. Once he gets some money from his fellow classmates, he walks over to the ASB (administrative building on BYU's campus) and becomes a counselor. However, instead of just becoming a normal counselor, he becomes a tax advisor. As a tax advisor, a rich student comes to him with a broken arm asking whether the tax advisor can help him. The advisor tells the rich student that he should ask his parents for money (prosperity from prosperity). Then the advisor looks at the broken arm and decides that he can use innovative problem solving to solve the problem. He sends the boy down to the football field to consult with the football team (teamwork) about how to fix his arm. Down on the field, coach Mendenhall tells him to run all the way to the top of the mountain (a task that requires much hard work) in order to find the solution. After making it to the top of the mountain, the boy becomes an expert witness on how hard it is to climb a mountain. While he is testifying about the difficulty of the climb, Satan tries to tempt the him to buy promoted items like investment life insurance(the promoted items were something I needed to remember). A beautiful young lady magically appears on the mountaintop and helps the boy resist the temptation. After telling Satan to go to hell, the boy decides that this beautiful young lady is the right person for him to marry.

If you read that whole thing, you're very kind. I've used an approach similar to this to memorize a lot of the stuff I've got to know for finals. It's not only made it much easier to retain more information, it's made it a lot more fun. So, for those of you who have finals right now, you might give it a shot. I'd also love to hear from anyone who has other ways of remembering info for tests and other stuff.



Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chungas al Pastor

Did you know anyone in high school who was really obsessed with one band or artist in particular? These were the people who would constantly wear t-shirts with Soul Asylum or Dave Matthews Band album cover art, who would spend hundreds of dollars of their parents' money to go to a concert, and who would insist on their songs being played at school dances, no matter how inappropriate the tempo was for dancing. The oddest thing about these people was the fierce loyalty they felt toward their band. If you asked them about some new song, they would say something like, "Yeah, they're all right, but Chumbawumba is so much better." Or something even fiercer, like narrowing their eyes and saying, "The Smashing Pumpkins suck! Linkin Park rules!"

This is what I thought of Nathaniel's friend when he recommended a Mexican place on Freedom Boulevard. Apparently, he was telling everyone he got the chance to tell that Chunga's, in the strip mall just north of Ozz, was a Mexican restaurant worthy of beatification. I love a good restaurant as much as the next person, but I am more the type to suggest a place if I'm going out with some friends and leave it at that.

One fateful day, Nathaniel was cleaning out his old credit card pile and found a gift certificate for Einstein's Bagels. We jumped in the car and went, only to find that the one on Center Street was closed. He wanted to go to Octavio's instead, but was too embarrassed to be seen with me in my hoodie and batter-splattered sweats (rude!). So we got in the car, lamenting our failed attempt at spontaneity, when he yelled, "The taco place!"

So, we went to Chunga's. He ordered the enchiladas with pork (al pastor), and I ordered the chicken quesadilla. (Nathaniel typing now, Dorothy got tired of it). Perhaps I (Nathaniel) should mention that Dorothy, as a rule, does not eat the pork (the 'unclean' meat). Well, after I took a bite of this pineapple-soaked, spit-roasted, pork enchilada, I made Dorothy take a bite. She loved it! Dorothy loved the unclean meat! Needless to say, I loved it too. Dorothy's chicken quesadilla also left absolutely nothing to be desired. Hands down, this is the best Mexican food in the Valley. The service was also exceptional. Though they don't refill your drinks (which means you don't have to tip:)), they do ask you how you're liking you're meal more than once. The people there are genuinely happy to be there--and you can tell that they're not just smiling because their managers taught them how to have a permasmile (like McDonald's).

So, to tie Dorothy's intro in to my ending, if you were to tell us that Cafe Rio has some decent food, we'd tell you to crawl out of your moldy cave of crappy Mexican food and try some real Mexican food. Nobody has anything on Chungas! We've now become the culinary equivalents of those kids who worshiped just one band in high school....and we're proud of it.

You've got to give this place a shot. The pork is incredible and if you're as lucky as us, they'll give you free-taco coupons when you leave.

Since neither Dorothy nor myself are professional reviewers, we'd like to point you to what the Daily Herald has to say about our new favorite restaurant. Just click here.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

I need some advice

So I watched this clip about a while back:

I thought it was hilarious, albeit awkward, and so I did something I never do: I e-mailed Sam the Cooking Guy. My e-mail stated:

Just saw you on that show with Kathy Lee. You are my favorite chef ever.
- Dorothy

A few days later, he e-mailed back! He said:

I get a lot of emails, but your brief and to the point one is now one of my favorites.
thanks for taking the time to write.

by the way, I'm back on the Today show tomorrow.


I thought it was so cool! I shared it with Nathaniel, who also thought it pretty cool. I mean, Sam the cooking guy is no Britney Spears, but who wants an e-mail from Britney Spears anyway? I watched the next clip where Sam apologizes to Kathy Lee and Hooda, laughed, and didn't think about it anymore...

Until I got this e-mail:

I came across this old email from you while looking for something else - but it still is cool, I had to write and thank you.
so thank you.


I at first wondered if it was creepy, but I decided no, it's not creepy. It's just nice. But how do I be nice back? Just say thank you? Does he want a pen-pal? Should I say, hey, I'm an eight-month pregnant law student at BYU who enjoys cooking as a hobby? Tell me about yourself? Kinda awkward cause he has a wikipedia entry. Maybe I could tell him I'm preparing to be a mother and need some advice on making baby food? Or I could just not respond.

What do you think?