Saturday, October 22, 2011

So I recently mentioned that I was going down to Cedar City as a chaperon for my friend and his class. First off, I lied. Not about the Cedar City bit, just about chaperons needing to be fingerprinted and have background clearance. It turns out that's only a policy in some districts (to be fair, I spent about 5 months working [not paid] in one of those districts, so...)

Second off. It was cold. Very, very cold. There were parts of the trip that I was straight up miserable. Why? Because no one was planning on it getting as cold as it did, especially not on the night that we went to go see King Lear OUTDOORS!

Yes, Southern Utah University has a "replica" of Shakespeare's Globe theater on it's campus (don't be fooled, the added chairs. Chairs!). Well the first night we were in Cedar City, after driving through a minor snowstorm to get there, we went to go see this Shakespeare a la Shakespeare. It was miserable.

No offense to the actors, but it wasn't very engaging as a show. It didn't help that it was 39 degrees out. And it definitely didn't help to not have a coat. The most any of the students had was a hoodie and a fleece blanket. It especially didn't help that the show was 3 hours long. We were so excited when intermission hit because we thought it was time to go, then we checked the program and screamed, but that just froze and hit the ground. Another hour and a half. But, I can't recall a time that I ever left a show at intermission, I just think it's a courtesy thing.

Oh. And we know that it was 39 degrees because all of the kids had their smartphones out and were checking constantly. We got to hear about it at intermission. SUU sold a good amount of hot chocolate that night (though I hear that was disappointing too).

Though I complain about that night, the rest of the weekend was actually quite enjoyable. I did something that I don't remember doing ever in my life. I saw three plays in a day. It was incredible. I had many opportunities to see two shows a day while in London, but three is a record.

The best part about these shows is that they were all spectacular. Each one was done by the Utah Shakespeare Festival (which a Tony award winning festival) and they were some of the best theater I've seen this side of the ocean. We saw A Winter's Tale at 9am, Noises Off at 2pm, and Dial M for Murder at 7:30pm.

Even more astounding is the fact that the festival does repertory casting, which means that they have one cast to fill all the shows. So we saw some of the actors three times that day. It was amazing to see the versatility that they had. I tried to imagine the fatigue that must have set in as well. I heard from one cast member that by the 2pm show, which is a slapstick comedy, that they were all so hopped up on caffeine that it was one of the craziest shows yet. Luckily for the actors, the way a rep cast works is that generally if you have a large part in one of the shows, your part in the other shows are significantly smaller. This helps to reduce the burden and avoid burnout (or so I'm guessing).

So there really were some positive things from Cedar City. I'm just glad that my frostbite from high school didn't flare up. I guess I wasn't in a speedo this time...

And that includes some members of my family. But I really don't like the word "Yummy". I really don't. I don't like saying it, I don't like reading it, and I especially don't like the sudden increase in popularity that it has gotten (I'm so hipster).

Really though.

I've started trying to cook more, now that I'm a responsible adult or whatever. It seems like almost every recipe that I look up online is described as yummy. If not in the original post, then someone in the comments has almost surely  made up for the deficit. I once saw a dish made primarily out of sausage and other meats described as yummy. I cried.

As a person who likes to over-think every situation, I tried to figure out why I was having this averse reaction to the word. I think it's because it sounds like someone talking to a two year old, which I am not. It just sounds kind of like immaturity in a word. Harsh? It also gets applied to many non-food situations, and that just goes too far for me.

Replacements? Delicious, Savory, Delectable, Tasty, Succulent, and so on.

Let us not neglect these other entries.

Anyhow. It's my burden to deal with. I just wondered if anyone else was a picky as I was. Kind of like how some people will squirm at the word "moist".

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hilarious show. Seriously. For those who haven't picked this one up yet. May I recommend this last week's episode? It was incredible. I ROFL'd, I LOL'd, I LSHIWWFH'd. This last week's episode was definitely one of the most intricate and intriguing episodes of any show that I've seen in a long time. It was a nice breath of fresh air, especially since the week before wasn't quite up to snuff.

Anyhow, here's a link. I think you should watch it. Really. So hopefully I hook you on this. Feel the draw...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I like weird stuff. We know this. I like random videos. We know this too. And now there's this. You're welcome. (note: if you are offended by a naked mannequin type of nakedness, feel free to not watch this.)


going to the store. from dlew on Vimeo.


Mr. Cragun (original)
Mr. C (obvious)
Mr. Crayon (because misreading Cragun on a whiteboard leads to this)
Mr. Quagmire (Apparently the kid liked Family Guy, though I'm not sure that I want this linked to me...)
Mr. Khaki Pants (I have many pairs now that I'm a teacher. It was noticed)
Mr. Tall (I get asked by students how tall I am almost as much as I get asked if I married... daily)
Mr. Man (This came from an elementary school... surprised? I'm not.)


But the above all favorite:

The Kraken (or just "Kraken")

This is the one that was given to me basically from day one by my Timpview kids. There apparently was also an arm-motion that went along with it that looks similar to an octopus. I did not know about the arm thing until after my student teaching was done and I was helping with the state drama festival. Two of my students (who may or may not be on a list of favorites) turned to me out of the blue and said "DO THE KRAKEN ARMS!". I, never having seen the Kraken arms, simultaneously waved my arms above my head and asked "Is this a thing? Is this something that we do?"

It turns out they had been doing it all along.

*note: I might update this at some point. That is assuming that I somehow accrue more nicknames. Don't I have my fair share though?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'm an Adult? Really?

This weekend I will most likely not be blogging. I will be a chaperon. All weekend. This sounds like a bad idea.

My good friend Richie (aka Mr. U, aka Romeo) who I was in a play with a long time ago and also graduated with, is a theater teacher locally (well, north about 1 1/2 hours). This weekend happens to be the Utah High School Shakespearean Festival. So Richie needed another male chaperon and I volunteered. "Why doesn't Mr. U just ask a parent?" you might ask. Well, first of all, I love to go to these kinds of conferences and Richie's a great friend, so I'm really excited to do this in the first place. But more so, due to changes that are taking place in the Utah education realms, chaperons need to be fingerprinted and have a background clearance by the FBI. Which I have and do.

Wait what? That basically means that the FBI has certified me as being more reliable than a majority of adults right? I don't know when this happened, but I guess I'm now a geezer...

To be fair, the last time that I chaperoned a trip they built a fort on the bus...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

So this last weekend was general conference. Also I have been blogging more. It turns out that this is not a coincidence. You see, I made a goal this last weekend (actually it was one of the very first goals that I made) that I would start using my social media knowledge to share the gospel and such. You see there were a number of talks that mentioned the need for people to clarify points of church doctrine and to raise their voice (I can think off hand of Elder Bednar, Elder Holland, and Elder Ballard). There was specific mention made of those things such as Mormon.org profiles (Here's mine) and blogs (you're reading mine).

So I felt that one of the first steps was to use what I already had. More specifically I think this means posting more regularly on this blog and being more willing to post spiritual things. I know that I have tried this before, but is it really a goal if you don't have to restart three or four times?

Also, there is the matter of Twitter. For those of you who are not Twitter-savvy, it is very much like a continuous feed of facebook status updates. "So why not just use facebook?" you might ask. Well, generally I do, but there are some subtle differences between the two (though die-hards will claim they are vastly different... not for me). The major difference is the use of hashtags. Essentially what happens on twitter is that at any point in a post (which only allows you 140 characters) you can use this symbol (#) and any word you type after that becomes a searchable term. Meaning that it makes the word a link, and if anyone clicks the link they will see all other posts from everyone on twitter that has used that same hashtag. Confused?

Well what ends up happening is that there are trends. If so many people use the same hashtag, it becomes popular and will start to gain a life of its own. Generally these are fairly stupid, like #Thingsyoushouldknowaboutme or #JustinBieber, but once a hashtag starts trending it takes on a life of its own. But then there's even another step. If a certain group of people all use the same hashtag over and over, and are continually searching for other people's posts using that tag, then you begin to be familiar with those other people and suddenly you have an online community.

Enter LDS tweeters. During general conference, there is a neat little thing that happens where many members of the church start "live-tweeting" conference. This means that they will post quotes, doctrines, reactions, rumors, and so forth on their twitter as conference progresses. This has been happening for a number of years now, and I have been participating for the past 3 or 4 sessions.

The reason why this is so interesting is because you start to see the same people showing up. We all started using the "#ldsconf" tag and we could all see each other. And then we started to get to know each other. And now there is a community that has formed, appropriately called the "#twitterstake". The beauty of this is that it is creating a wonderful group of connections from across the globe, but more than that, it exists to put religious things on the website. This means that if any random twitter user noticed the #ldsconf hashtag and got a little curious, they would suddenly be flooded with quotes and doctrines from General Authorities. And every so often, questions are asked, via twitter, and responded to in a like manner.

That was a long bit, but we're not done yet.

You see, then entered Elder Ian S. Ardern. He spoke during the Saturday afternoon session and came down pretty hard on those who waste a lot of time forming only cyber aquaintences and wasting all of their time on the computer. This caused quite the stir among the #twitterstake (who was tweeting everything he said about not tweeting). But there was a nice conclusion that was reached. As with most conference talks, the general authorities tend to preach balance in all things. I feel that reviewing Elder Ardern's talk, that is what he is advocating. He is not saying that we should entirely remove ourselves from the internet, but we need to use all things in moderation and not let ourselves become addicted to the online world.

So my second goal is to spend less time on my computer.

I know that my two goals may seem a little contradictory, but they really do work together in my head. I need to make sure that the time that I am spending on my computer is productive (like blogging?) and to make a concerted effort to cut out the frivolous time. Hence the hypocrisy.

The irony is the amount of time that I spent writing this epic, and the amount of time you spent reading it.... sorry Elder Ardern...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Since this is a blog that was also created to keep family informed on the whereabouts of the two (now one) youngest Cragun boys, I feel that I should give some highlights from the past ten months.

I love lists.

  • I think the biggest thing that has happened is that I have gained a new sister and lost a roommate. This all happened in one swift move. Amoray fits into the family a little too well, but I guess that's why Nathan fell for her. But this also means that Nathan is no longer my roommate. For which he is eternally grateful...
  • I graduated. Really. I am now licensed to teach theater and psychology grades 6-12. I know that sounds fancy, but poverty really never is...
  • I student taught. It was fabulous. I taught at Timpview High School (go T-Birds!) and I loved it. I wouldn't necessarily say that every second was amazing, but most every experience that I had was beneficial in some way. Not to mention the kids were awesome. I really did get a taste of what teaching is all about and I loved it.
  • That being said, I may not teach. Really though. After much thought and deliberation I am finding my life heading more and more to a psychological field such as therapy (as in giving not receiving). Details are still being worked out for all of this.
  • That being said, I am currently teaching. Kind of. I'm currently working as a sub. It's interesting. It has been great to meet all sorts of different teachers, work in various schools, see the different dynamics and the different subjects, and to just be working with the kids again. But something's missing. I have related it to a few friends as the difference between lust and love. I get a little bit of teaching but then I'm gone. There's no real connection. I try to get to know the kids and have a good influence and all that jazz, but they won't ever see me again. There has been more than one day where I have started planning the next day's lesson only to have to remind myself that I am not their teacher. It's kind of sad.
So that has been a short summary of life. I'm sure that I forgot things, but that's what follow-up posts are for, right?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Two posts, two days. Make sure your food storage is in order. The end is near.

I love conference (see all previous mentions of conference). As always, there were a number of amazing talks this year. I am kind of curious as to why I always feel like there is such an amazing number of amazing talks and amazingly I think the answer is that the quality doesn't change. Conference is always amazing because it's what we need at that time.

Recently, during hometeaching, my roommate made a really interesting observation and pointed out that what the prophets say in conference can be seen as scripture. This I knew. But then he started talking about the idea of 6 months and why we have conference semi-annually. It kind of hit me in a really interesting way. Conference is the scripture that we need for the next six months. If there is something that takes more than six months or is a continuing problem, there is a very good chance that we will hear about it in the next conference. And then we will have another six months where we will know that it is the will of the Lord and that it's something that we should be looking at or working on.

So, like I said, it's not necessarily that this conference was better than last conference or that the speakers were more prepared, but the endless quality that comes from conference is because it is so pertinent to what the church needs.

So thinking back on this conference I think that my favorite moment was Saturday night. I love priesthood session. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's that there seems to be more directness, maybe it's the specificity of the topics and how they relate to me, but something about the priesthood session just always seems to make it a favorite. This one was no exception.

To be fair, there were a number of factors that led up to me really liking this one. I went to conference in SLC. I went with my awesome roommates. Elder Holland was the first speaker. All favorite things. I have a particular love for the talks of Elder Holland and President Eyring. I think it has to do with their willingness to approach subjects from the emotional/passionate side. I feel that's how I approach many things as well.

I loved Elder Holland's talk. It was phenomenal and he made the conference center buzz with the power of his message. It was the kind of talk that I honestly don't know who the two speakers after Elder Holland were because I was so focused on writing all of my thoughts down that I missed their messages. For those who haven't seen his talk, I highly recommend going and streaming the video. It needs to be watched. Not just read.

Overall, I think that some of the main topics this session were: Missionary/Priesthood responsibility, repentance, and reading the scriptures. I love that there are so many messages there. I love that there is this renewed desire in me to change and improve and to make goals. I love that everyone else probably got entirely different things out of conference than I did.

I especially love that we get to do this again in six months.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

... and yes, we are still here. Or at least I am anyhow. Nathan has been married off (read: dead). And since the start of this blog was in direct retaliation to another brother's choice to get married, I felt it was only appropriate to renew my blogging efforts. Because I'm still here.


Also, I'm kind of bored.

However, explanations and catch-ups aside, today was the start of General Conference, which I love whole-heartedly (all of conference, not just the start). We're only one session down and I already have a slew of talks labeled "Read again", which is my little tag to myself to signify that there was too much to get for just one listen.

But I think one of the best moments of this morning for me was the announcement of the church's new program, similar to the Perpetual Education Fund, that helps members to be able to have financial help to attend the temple. *Quick side-note for anyone not familiar with LDS temples, there is no financial cost to enter a temple, however, in some parts of the world families need to save up for years to be able to afford the transit to and from the temple*

The reason this was so powerful for me is because as it was being announced, it was clear to me that it was an inspired program. I felt the spirit as I tried to imagine the individuals who would benefit from this program, but more so, what those benefits would be. I feel like for the majority of those who will use this program, they will be making the trip to have their family sealed for time and all eternity.

I love watching this church and the way that it works, and the way that they will respond to the needs of the members in whatever way necessary (this is one of the reasons that I find LDS Family Services so intriguing). It helped me to understand that Heavenly Father knows and loves each one of His children (this was a message throughout the morning session) and that this love is expressed and translated directly through the leadership of the church.

I love conference.

See you in a year. Or tomorrow. I haven't decided yet...


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

WARD PHOTO SHOOT TIME!!!

Oh my goodness!

Things got a little crazy.

Then things got a lot crazy.

Then things got a little violent.

Then things got a lot violent.

Those family members who were at the Eddington Christmas party might notice that the white elephant gift that I received has already been put to good use. I'm doing another set of shoots tomorrow night. They will probably be less crazy, but no one really knows. View the whole shoot at my Flickr site.

Also, bonus points if you can correctly identify the two pictures of Nathan in this post.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Example #1:

Example #2

Example #3

Christmas was a lot of fun this year. I ended up getting some new lighting equipment and just had to try it out. So we had a little mini-shoot. We have also completed 2 puzzles, eaten tons of Christmas cookies, had a Nerf war, watched three movies, learned new games, played old games, and stuffed ourselves full of lots of food. Tomorrow involves Snow-shoeing and an extended family get together. Neat.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Religion

I started typing a post, then lost it (always save your work) and I don't have the time that I'd like to have to really dedicate to this post, but here's the breakdown. Lots of things have been happening in my life and I'd like to keep you updated, but one of the most important things has been my goal to read more talks and books by the apostles of the church.


I really felt like I wanted to share some of those things with you.

First of all, I made a mormon.org profile, but it looks like it's still processing. I really think that these are wonderful and I hope that they are helping. You should make one too!

But more serious now. I have seen some really powerful moments come in the past little bit. There have been moments where I have been called upon to stretch myself personally, in my calling, and also in helping others. I have really felt the power of the messages and talks that I have been studying as the perfect talk for that point in time will somehow be the one that I happen to read.

I wanted to share some of my favorite talks with you and some of the quotes from those talks. First of all, I have been reading from "Trusting Jesus" a book of talks given and compiled by Elder Holland. I highly highly recommend this book. Especially this talk and this talk.

I love the way that Elder Holland can help me to put into perspective the events surrounding the life of Jesus Christ, especially the Atonement. I also love the way that I am able to tell that he is speaking from the heart.

One of my favorite quotes from the second link above is as follows. Speaking of the Savior:
In the moonlit silence of that Near Eastern night, every acute pain, every heartfelt grief, every crushing wrong and human hurt experienced by every man, woman, and child in the human family was to be heaped upon his weary shoulders. But in such a moment, when someone might have said it to him, he rather says to us, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.)

“Ye shall be sorrowful,” he said—sad, lonely, frightened, and sometimes even persecuted, “but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. … Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:20, 33; italics added.)

How can he speak that way? Of good cheer and joy? On a night like this? With the pain he knew was just ahead? But those are the blessings he always brought, and that is how he always spoke—to the very end.
I love that. I really do. I have written next to the title of the chapter "beautiful" because to me the whole talk is an achievement of the spirit.

I also had a rather powerful experience tonight. I have been trying to be a support for a friend going through some rather serious issues. This has involved many long or late-night phone calls. There are times when I just honestly don't know what to say. When that happens, in my mind, I am failing the other person and my first reaction is usually avoidance. I'm not proud of it, but that's what I do. I couldn't bring myself to return the call because I didn't know what I would do or say. I didn't think that I could help and I didn't think that I could handle the situation, I needed a break. Then my book fell open to the first talk that I've linked to. Specifically it fell open to this:
I make an appeal for us to reach beyond our own contentment, to move out of our own comfort and companion zones, to reach those who may not always be so easy to reach.
I realized that I wasn't strong enough, but that was okay because I was being asked to go beyond what I thought was possible, and that by doing so I would be supported. I know that the quote doesn't say this exactly, but that's what I understood. I made the call, and things turned out well. It was a special moment of understanding for me.

I also particularly like this quote from the same talk:
I would ask you now to help with this healing, healing for others, healing for those you love and, yes, perhaps especially for those you don't. The people around us need a lot of help, and I think the Lord expects us to join in that effort.
Also this one:
On the example of the Savior himself and his call to his apostles, and with the need for peace and comfort ringing in our ears, I ask you to be a healer, be a helper, be someone who joins in the work of Christ in lifting burdens, in making the load lighter, in making things better. Isn't that the phrase we used to use as children when we had a bump or a bruise? Didn't we say to Mom or Dad, "Make it better." Well, lots of people on your right hand and on your left are carrying bumps and bruises that they hope will be healed and made whole. Someone sitting within reasonable proximity to you tonight is carrying a spiritual or physical or emotional burden of some sort or some other affliction drawn from life's catalog of a thousand kinds of sorrow. In the spirit of Christ's first invitation to Philip and Andrew and then to Peter and the whole of his twelve apostles, jump into this work. Help people. Heal old wounds and try to make things better.
After the experience that I talked about above, I decided that I was going to go and look up some of the Mormon Messages on YouTube. I found one that I have loved for a long time and I hope that you will take time to watch it now.


Anyhow. Thanks for listening. I really do want to try to be better about sharing my thoughts with people online. I feel that it is almost my responsibility as one who is familiar with the workings of the internet to provide answers and support anywhere that I can find questions. For me that includes not being afraid to post things on blogs, facebook, twitter, and all of those other sites that I am visible to all of my friends. I would encourage you to join me in doing so.

Okay, now back to your regularly scheduled mildly humorous programming/ lack of updates.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Still here. Not dead.

I got back from London. I took classes. It was rough. I was kind of burnt out. However, one major accomplishment in my life: I have finished processing and uploading all of my London pictures!

Feel free to view them at one of these two very very similar links:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38080948@N07/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38080948@N07/collections/72157624043684295/


Tied to this accomplishment, I have another personal goal that I met. My flickr account (the two links above) passed the 40,000 view mark. I don't know why I had set that as my personal goal, but I did, and I did it! So now we're on the way to 50,000. Although with all of these London pictures up I think I'm going to reach that goal a lot faster.

Also in the way of pictures, I am in the process of putting the picture wall back up. For those who didn't hear, we had to take it down one time for cleaning checks to make sure that we weren't hiding any sort of wall damage. But I have talked to the manager and he told me that if I put it back up then I wouldn't have to pull it down again. Unfortunately he is leaving and we are getting a new manager and I sure hope that they keep that policy or I will have a royal hissy fit! (I know how too, I went to London.)

Other photo news. I have made quite a large purchase (for me anyway). I have been doing quite a few photo shoots this summer, and I have made a little money off of them. I made myself a promise that any money I make off my photography will go right back into photography. So I bought a lens! It's used, it's not the top of the line, but darn it it's mine and I love it. It's this guy. For those who don't speak camera, it's essentially the workhorse lens when it comes to portraits.

So, I think that's about it for now. (read: I'm bored with this particular post and you probably are too)

Cool.



Yeah.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Photo Booth


The Photo Booth, originally uploaded by Christian Cragun.

I made this, you should watch it.

(by "I", I mean that my roommate Scott and my brother did most of the work, but I took all the pictures and came up with the idea...)

Ratatat | Lex