So it wasn’t too long after arriving in Utah when the semester started. First I entered my dorm at night. My roommate had already checked in, but I didn’t see him until the next day. Turns out he was a big black guy, nice dude and we got along but we never really become friends. Because I was in Heritage Halls, I had four other apartment as well. Two of them had connections to Cleveland, which is my hometown. The other two were this one guy who is kind of an asshole, and this really tall band player who is the only person except for me in the apartment who wasn’t a jock. I’m not sure how I ended up in the jock apartment, most the people in my ward aren’t jocks. Anyway, with the tall guy I went to a pancake party in the girls dorm, said good bye to mom right before I went. That’s the awesome thing about BYU, the culture is such the pancake parties are a thing rather than boring alcohol parties. Didn’t end up really becoming friends with him either as he was always busy with band.
The next day was the first day of orientation. Despite having the map and other new student supplies I couldn’t figure out how to get there, but I ended up pumping into a girl who found the crowd. We then separated into our separate orientation groups. I did bump into her a few times later in the year, but she wasn’t in my ward or any of my classes either, so I didn’t see her much. At orientation proper we first did a bunch of name games, then went to the introduction seminar in the merit center. After that we were shown around campus and had lunch. Forgot what we did the rest of the day, probably just more boring seminars. Think that was Friday, and the rest of orientation wrapped up on Saturday. Main thing the party at night at the student center, had some lame dance and a bunch of bouncy castle course things I run through once, spent the rest of the time inside doing karaoke. I sang “Separate Worlds” by Journey, and that was hit. I wouldn’t say a sung it well, but I sung it with gusto, and that’s what people loved. Later I was asking the person queuing songs about what songs were available, looking through Deftones and Disturbed, and I accidently queued myself to sing “Prayer”. When the discordant, djenty opening came in the person asked if I’m sure if it was appropriate and I meekly said “yeah”. Well it is a prayer, isn’t it? Embarrassed, I awkwardly sang the song, and the people in the audience seemed pretty shocked. One girl was grooving to the bridge though, glad at least someone enjoyed it. At the end people awkwardly applauded. Later in the year I karaoked again, this time it was outside our forms and different guy ran, I said I liked Tool but I didn’t think they would have any appropriate songs and he laughed and said definitely not, and then I went with “Smoke on the Water” and rocked it. I think I was like one of two people who sang that night who didn’t completely suck at singing and actually put on a decent performance. Next winter again I sang in the student center, this time it was the same game from outside, and I sung “Dream On”, I think I did okay. I did draw some attention at the climax, I’m not sure if that was because I was any good or just because I was loud and high. Second semester I also sang “Crusade” by Voltaire for the ward talent show, a few people afterwards congratulated me on it, some even saying it was their favorite part of the show because of the depth of the lyrics and my emotional delivery.
Sunday was my first day at the student ward. That was neat. It was also the first time coming back over for grandparents house for Sunday dinner. While I was gone my aunt wanted me to meet up with one of her former students (she’s a high school english teacher), but again, I was gone at my grandparents at the time. I did eventually meet up with her after much confusion about where the Creamery on 9th is where I mistook the other Creamery for it. She’s a big fan of Zelda like me, and also likes Fire Emblem, which I know nothing about. Anyway, my brother was still there, not yet on his mission. I made sure to come back to the dorms in time for the ice cream social. There I met a girl I have some surprising connection with. She’s a math major from Idaho, but it so happens she knows someone I know in Indonesia, said mutual friend was in my higher-level theater class. I also learned that her favorite game is To the Moon, where one of the major characters has aspergers. I recently just finally got around to finishing that game and talking with her about that. Anyway, she convinced me to join Welsh Choir, which she had signed up for ahead of time and I picked up a flyer for from the club fair during orientation.
The next day was Memorial Day or Labor Day or whatever. I hiked with my family up Provo Peak. I forgot to mention this in the last journal, but my family met back up with another family who was once our bishop back in Cleveland, and the wife was the director for This is Kirtland, for which my mom designed the costumes. Their niece was with them at the time, just about to start college at BYU Idaho. I talked with her all night. So I also invited her over to the hike. My brother had to stay home because he was sick. One of my second cousins once removed or something also came over in addition to my grandfather, my aunt, and the uncles currently staying there. I think she’s older than me, but younger than all the uncles. She also brought her dog Max, who is deaf. Before climbing the actual slope of the mountain, we had to hiking steadily up terrain for a couple hours. The girl I invited got altitude sickness, so she stayed at the base of the slope once we actually got there. As for the climb itself, it wasn’t anywhere near as epic as Rampasture, but it was much rockier, and I had the remnants of blisters on my feet for the rest of the year. I got back to my dorm late at night, missing the first family home evening. Classes started the next day.
As for my classes, I had a ton my first semester. First was physics, specifically mechanics That was fine, the homework was a pain though. My grandfather is a physics professor there, and he is friends with my professor, they go on ski trips together or something. We also had labs at the top of the science center where I managed to get someone else to do the work every time, and it’s an excuse to eat lunch at the café there. I also ate at the café there a few times with family.
Next is math, linear algebra. One of the more boring branches of math as it’s basically just saying the say thing over and over again slightly different ways, but it is important. It did pick up a bit near the end with the complex eigenvectors though. Also lots of homework that was easy, but long and tedious, much more boring and computational than calculus. Speaking of computation, once a week we had to do labs, which was figuring out how to do various things in MatLab. The teacher was fun though; some people in the class had too much fun.
Being a computer science major, I of course had a computer science course. Thing is I had to do the introduction course because they use C++ while the IB and AP classes use Java. Really all I had to learn was pointers, the class was really easy. Apparently people who aren’t programming wizards found the course hard though.
Every semester I had to take a religion class, for the first two semesters it was Book of Mormon part 1 and 2. Each time it was the one C I got (when it’s supposed to be the easy class), first time it was because I didn’t read my scriptures everyday. Urgh. The professor this time was the grandson of a famous apologist, and has the same name.
My mom recommended that I do Introduction to Film, and I’m glad I did, because that class was awesome. I’m not a big movie fan, so the class was way better than I expected. Each week we had a main lecture and a smaller lab lecture with our smaller group’s Teacher Advisor that focused on a specific topic like editing, sound, or linear narrative. In each we saw clips from various. Aside from the difference in size and teacher, the main difference between the two lectures was that the main lecture was more philosophical, while the lab was more technical. Each week we also saw a classic film on that topic outside of class (they show it at one of the theaters on certain days) and had to right a paper on it analyzing the use of said topic in the film eg. production design in 2001: A Space Odyssey with all it’s vagina portals and colored space suits. The class completely changed the way I thought about film, art critic, and many other things in general. Basically a very enlightening class.
Welsh choir also ended up being one of my favorite classes that semester. Didn’t learn much welsh aside from the pronunciation, but singing it was really fun. Our conductor is also a composer, and he had a song he composed with lyrics from Susan McCloud, who wrote a few hymns, and we sang it translated into Welsh. Really informal class.
In addition to the Welsh Choir, I had already signed up for University Chorale, right before the semester, dropping biology until next semester. Apparently my grandparents met in that class. While it didn’t require an audition, the songs were much harder than the Welsh Choir ones, and the class in general more formal. Of the course of the year, we each had to write about three experiences were we went out of our comfort zone. As even writing about it makes me uncomfortable, most if not all my experiences related to my Aspergers.
Speaking of Aspergers, I set out to the disability center to get accommodations. Mainly I got additional time for assignments/exams in the form of letters I had to hand out to all my professors, but they also loaned me a smart pen, letting me record lectures. That was pretty cool. The disability center had a few activities over the course of the year, including two carnivals where they served free hotdogs for lunch and had carnival games. They also had a board game night once. Their biggest event was with disability awareness week, where they ran a booth showing a video demonstrating the social model of disability by having an able bodied person at a school where everything was targeted towards disabled people, and had other events depending on the day, and a board with celebrities with various different disabilities were passersby can guess for candy. Of course, there were also pamphlets for the center itself and for the related honor society Delta Alpha Pi. I volunteered to run their booth for a few hours one day, and did that for one of my comfort zone assignments. Wasn’t too bad, mainly I was annoyed that the adjacent booth was doing better at attracting people because they had a big fancy wheel for distributing their candy, and in general people were just busy. Halfway through I was invited to come see the guest speaker who was speaking that day, a man who became quadriplegic (still had some control of his arms because the nerves for certain muscles in the arm branch higher up or something, but it was obvious he’s partially paralyzed there form the way he held his hand, no control over the fingers, just stay in a claw) after failing to do a backflip off the wall. He was really funny and could sing very well. Just my luck, I was called on to give the opening prayer. Well, that added further to the comfort zone assignment.
One of the things about the student wards is they have family home evening in small groups, which is way funner than family home evening in an actual family as it’s basically just an excuse to activities with other students. For my first semester, said group was my apartment and one of the girls apartment (along with my RA and his roommate, they never showed up). The mixed it up second semester though. I don’t remember most of the activities or if they were first or second semester, but here are a few. One of our first activities was walking a puppy, best thing ever. Puppies are the best. Another was watching nacho libre, that was funny, think it was after listening to a “spooky” story. Think we played Apples to Apples another night. Once in the second semester we went to one of the members of the bishopric house and had dinner and played rock band, despite the fact I barely matched the blue bar, people were impressed with my singing because it was soulful or something. We were there another time and played with game about guessing movies and had dinner again. I also played with their cat. Cats are the best.
Another important aspect of daily life at college is acquiring food. Most of it I cooked myself (first from food my parents got with me at Costco (these pancake-sausage corndog things are the best thing ever, saved my breakfast) and another grocery store, later from groceries I bought from the creamery ), but that takes a ton of time. When I wanted tastier food than anything I could cook up or was pressed for time, I bought it from one of the many food locations on campus such as cougar eat (mainly got the same spicy Italian sub from subway, also went to the burger and calzone place, second semester they opened up the hipster food grill where I frequently got gyros), the cafe in the science center, or the grill at the creamery (their hamburgers and ice cream are so good, also the garlic fries, mainly because fry sauce). Speaking of the creamery, a guy from my orientation group worked there (black guy from the south), and once I met a white student from Zimbabwe who has his pet boa/snake with him (I think her name was Rose), not something that happens everyday. There is also the Canon center, where you can get a ton of food, but said food sucks, and it’s just not worth getting it if you live in Heritage Halls. I only ate their a couple times. When I wanted something REALLY good, I had to venture off the opposite end of the world campus to Red Brick Oven and heroically toe back my half price extra large meatsa pizza, which would then last for the rest of the week. During late nights coding at the Talmage building (especially for the later courses where the labs were actually hard) I often bought hot pockets and White Castle jalapeno burgers from the vending machines to preserve my life force. Main problem with such spending is that it eats up a lot of money. Free food is essential for the BYU student, and while being a computer science major imprisoned me within the labs, it provided many opportunities for free food. The first is the annual CS social, where I discovered the location of Kiwanis Park as it was there. Every was way older than me, but there was as much pizza as I wanted, so all was good. The main thing were various seminars, as CS is a gold mine for employment. I’ll admit it, for all those seminars I came for the food, not the talk. One exception was when someone from Blizzard came, I’m glad for that because that convinced me I don’t want to work for a large gaming company. On a side note, I also joined the game design club, they didn’t have food, but they had an indie game designer who is now a millionaire speak about the history of gaming. That convinced me I don’t want to make games for a living, just as a hobby and make make some bucks if I can, but of course that leaves me very unsure of where I want to go from here. All those seminars left me very unsure. There is also the monthly ACM meetings, usually they had Costa Rio or something serving food for them, or this one sandwich place, after the meetings. I keep forgetting to bring my computers to those so I never completed the challenge at the meeting, doesn’t help that I have a stupid mac where Flash is the only thing I can code in on it since my workstations from IB CS expired. I did get the food though, so I got what I came for.
In addition to there being a club fair, there is a service fair, where all the different service groups have their booth. From orientation we got a thing to fill out for some reason, but what really caught my eye was the booth for Wasatch Mental Health, as it was an opportunity to work with autistic children. Phoned the guy on their flyer, met up with him later, explained my situation, got contact information for someone else and the address for the center where the orientation building is. My sense of direction is horrible, it took me forever to find it. Just going to Kiwanis Park felt like an ordeal when I did that, this was epic in comparison. Thankfully, Provo has a coordinate system with its streets. When I got there, I asked about the orientation, and they had no idea what I was talking about, and they redirected me to the children’s center by Seven Peaks. There I bumped into the guy I met with back at BYU playing a basketball spin off with some boys. Turns out the children’s center is where I would be volunteering, but the orientation was at the adult center, I just missed it (because I sucked at finding it and timing how long it would take to get there). I managed to catch the next one which was on a different day, thanks to my trusting scooter. (I rode the scooter to class for the first few weeks and to the center, then I was stopped by BYU police, which was basically the worst day of my life. ) The orientation was on privacy, and there I signed up for what I wanted to do, filled out a bunch of other paperwork, and got a volunteer number. I signed up for an hour a day each Wednesday and Monday, working with autistic and ADHD teenage boys. I think one other person showed up to work with the children I was working with the first day, but they didn’t show up again after that. I meanwhile was diligent, because not only did I have my duty, but I loved it.
The diversity in the boys amazed me. It completely shattered the notion of high versus low functioning. For example, the most well behaved boy was also the one at the time who appeared the lowest functioning. I’m have no idea if I was actually higher functioning than every child there, the concept really doesn’t make any sense. The cast of people were revolving, this is partly because not every child with autism or aspergers in the area is sent there, most of them are there by court order because they believe the classes would improve their behavior. Only one person in my group was in anyway troublesome though, he had very severe ADHD and didn’t like following directions, but he could be sweet as well. Apparently there was someone with low functioning autism in the other group who was much worse though. Main problem was there were no girls; I figured out that this was in part because while there were some autistic girls in the area, only a couple of them had the behavioral problems warranting inclusion in the program, and they just got one on one help. Other reason is because they figured girls might be distracting for teenage boys. Eh, my opinion is they’re going to have to learn to deal with girls sooner or later.
I was expecting to do some more direct work, and they did have me hand out tickets to reward good behavior during the lessons, but the main thing they wanted from me was just to be a friend. I did that very well, the kids loved me, I was like a rockstar to them. One I got particularly friendly with entered in later. He was homeless and despite being like 16 had a full beard, and he was like the nicest guy ever. Didn’t like it when he patted my back though. I really liked them as well, most of them were kind and funny, completely shattering the nonsense stereotype that autistic people lack humor and empathy. I guess one of the things I liked the most is there I could be myself, these are my people. Of course, I couldn’t get to friendly, as there was the whole privacy thing. There was some revolving with the staff as well, there was this one other volunteer who looked like Steven Wilson was there for like day. Guess it isn’t for everyone. There is also this one girl who is a a little bit older than me and I’m not sure if she was a volunteer or not because she filled out the boys performance forms. Over time, I stayed there longer and longer as I didn’t have any classes afterwards, and I went with them on a couple field trips, namely to this pumpkin fair way out there went into an inflatable monster, and to Nicklelandia, a nickel arcade. On the very last day, they decided to include girls for the first time, there were two of them. On the bus, one of the boys (the only black student there aside from one of the girls) didn’t want to say it because it was rude, but I convinced him to tell me anyway, complained that all the girls were ugly. So much for girls being a distraction.
On a random note, one Sunday I bumped into someone I knew from my ward back in Brasilia, one of the native Brazilians. I was there when he set off for his mission to Canada, don’t think he actually left before us though because of visa problems. Turned out he switched to BYU after finding Computer Science at the university in Brazil wasn’t for him. We met up a few other times. Once we both got roped into a dating game at some random event at the dorms, I got disqualified in the first round, he made it to the final one. Don’t mind as I wasn’t looking for a date, and the girl wasn’t in anyway my type. Eventually we met up with the young men’s president when he stopped at BYU and we ate burgers at the creamery with his family, he works for the US department of Agriculture. Another random thing was when our dorm building did capture the flag, my floor won and we got a pizza party. The most epic thing that happened was when I hid with a bunch of random people not playing to do an ambush.
For Halloween, I couldn’t decide whether to be a glam metaller or Ganondorf, so I decided to be both: Glamomdorf, Dark Lord of the Party! Basically I was dressed up as Ganondorf dressed up as a rockstar dressed up a woman. My aunt’s husband helped my pick up supplies I needed like makeup, a wig, a spiked bracelet, and a ring which I extracted the gem from so I could place it on my forehead. I wore that for the stake Halloween Party, basically just a costumed dance. I have to say dancing to Smells like Teen Spirit is the best.
The one break from classes was Thanksgiving, there are stayed with my grandparents. My uncles Thanksgiving tradition is to watch Hot Fuzz, I have to say that movie is absolutely AWESOME! Both a great comedy and drama. Another of my uncles had his baby shower, the cousin who was with us on the hike was there among with other people I didn’t know, afterwards the people living in the house played a game where we all made up first lines for book and had to figure out which was the real one. Half the people there were professional writers, so things got interesting. Unfortunately my aunt is too good a writer; most the books were pretty low brow like the Hardy Boys and a sequel to Willow so she wrote too good openings, but there was also a Dan Brown book and something by some German philosopher or something. We also played Arkham Horror that night, basically Call of Cthulhu the board game. So awesome, we managed to kill Hastur in combat!
Then the end of the year came. A few of the classes had final projects I did a great job at procrastinating with. For Book of Mormon I quickly scrambled up an interactive flash program on literally the night before, and because most people aren’t programmers, they think it’s far more impressive than it actually is. For theater, I wrote my final paper on Interstellar. Took more preparation for that as I had to see it in theaters, did it with my grandparents and I think one of my uncles like a week before. I knew my TA wasn’t a fan of the movie, but whatever, it’s not about if you enjoy the movie, it’s about analysing the various elements we studied. For computer science, the final project was just extending some real estate class, piece of cake. The final project/exam for both choirs was just a performance, we did great in both of them. Welsh choir might have been at it’s biggest ever, but University Chorale one was much bigger than and more formal, we sang in the big theater. On an unrelated note, we sang for a devotional earlier, song we sung was “Rejoice the Lord is King.”
Finally the actual finals came. Film had to be done at a set time in the varsity theater, we watched Mr. Bellpond and had to write a paper on it on the spot. I forgot to turn in the letters for that class, and I used ALL the available time to squeeze out the last sentence, I wrote way too much. Math was also in class, I got extra time by starting early in a different room. Others were testing center and extra time didn’t matter, though only the physics one was actually in the testing center. Like all the religion classes, Book of Mormon was in the student center. For some bloody reason, the Computer Science test was in the PE building, I don’t know whose idea that was. They should have known no computer science student knows where that building is. Turns out it was in a lower part of campus I had never been to before, exploring there at night was kinda surreal, especially the gym I wondered into. Turns out that wasn’t the right building, took me forever to find it, so it was super late. Problem is the testing center closes, and having extra time privilege makes no different. I then wasted half my time on the test thinking about how to implement exponentiation using iterated fractions rather than actually thinking about the problems, but by some miracle I managed to finish it on time. Yay, time to sell my textbooks back for like a tenth of their original price, and go home.
At the time, my family lived in Virginia as my dad was learning Amharic for his next post. Flying back there was the first time I’ve flown alone. I wish I remembered what I did there better. One thing I did do was help my uncle move. He works for NASA and has a daughter and son. The son is super hyperactive whenever I’m around. Said son also has a bearded dragon named Merlin. Biggest trouble with the move was hauling weights into the attic. We ordered pizza for dinner. Another thing I did was babysit the kid of someone in the apartment, another Foreign Service family, they headed off for Madagascar. He was like 3 or 4 years old. We mainly played kill Bad Santa and Star Wars. Aside from the fact that at that age children are extremely repetitive with their play, it was fun. I then got payed, I was not expecting that. Soon enough Christmas came, I got some presents, but I don’t remember what any of them where. Well, aside from some stuff from my stocking, I got cinnamon roll gum, which surprisingly isn’t gross, and this gothic story inspired game called Gloom which is hilarious. Only got to play it a couple of times though, brought it many times for game nights at BYU and the cover shocked people, but no one actually played it. Didn’t get to play it again until Ethiopia.
The main thing we did over the break was visit New York City, think we left Christmas day. On the way there we saw Into the Woods. That’s my favorite musical, and the movie was very good, but they took out some of the best parts like the reprise of “Agony” and the narrator. Then we ate at some random restaurant in New Jersey. First thing we saw in New York City was the Natural History Museum. My dad used to work for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the one in Calvin and Hobbes, so Natural History Museums are important to us. Don’t remember much about this one except it was big, probably got separated from parents at one point before finding them significantly later. Think this might have been the place we saw the sea lions that actually look like lions. Think then we went through Central Park. It was very grey. Some dudes were doing some performances, like break dancing or something. That night just off of Broadway we saw “You Can’t Take it With You” with Jame Earl Jones as the grandpa dude. Loved that play, yay snakes. Snakes are the best. My mom says that when she saw it in college, her friends commented that no family is actually like that, to which she responded that her family is just like that, and of course she is the normal girl. The next day we got on the boat and saw the Statue of Liberty. It was a statue. Sorry, don’t much else to say. We ate pizza for lunch. It was the authentic Italian type of pizza, I guess it was pretty good, but it took forever to get to us. Afterwards my mom also said that she felt they discriminated against her for having a large family, and that has only happened in the US. I will say that New York is the most crowded place I’ve ever been, even more crowded than Addis Ababa, at least on some streets at that time of year. Absolute most crowded place I’ve been was in London by the Thames during the Lord Mayor’s celebration, but that was just during that one event. New York was consistently crowed. I’d also consider it to be the most overrated city in the world. Next thing we saw was actually pretty neat though. Sky Park. Lots of art so it was neat. Things I remember was this display of vending machines with a bunch of chopped up stuffing in bottles, each bottle symbolizing something different. There was also a creepy breathing sculpture. At our hotel, we played some games we got for Christmas. One was called love letters and was a trumping game where you’re trying to get the princess’s love letter by having the card of the person closest to her with exchanging that card and various interactions. The other was about monkey’s doing poo warfare and being the last survivor. I do remember going to Macy’s or whatever and playing the giant piano; I played the riff from “Breaking the Law” while the rest of my family was playing something else, basically everyone was trying to play their own melody and it was a beautiful cacophony. Don’t remember exactly when that was or whatever. Last thing we saw was the art museum. Think we were at the ancient library first, it didn’t have much to see in there. The art museum was art museum just as the natural history museum was a natural history museum. We spent like all day there. Again, don’t remember much. One thing I noticed is a general western art trend, nude females are very common, but very rarely is the vulva portrayed, I think I saw it in like one sculpture in the western part. While male nudes are significantly less common than female ones, the genitals are much more likely to be portrayed. African art was an exception, it was very explicit. That’s all I have to say. Then we drove home.
In the time before New Years, we saw the Washington DC temple’s light display. It was neat. We also saw their nativity collection. It was also neat. We also visited Mount Vernon, and met up with my uncle and his family there. I had been there before, my family has been there MANY times before. I lost my family at the camel, but that was fine as I went over and saw all the other animals like the pigs and the big strong bull while the rest of the family looked at boring houses. My uncle’s family was over their for New Years Eve. We played various games we got for christmas, one was Dixit, kinda reminds me of Balderdash with pictures. Male cousin was very annoyed. At midnight we all screamed out the window because we were hooligans. People are always up in the streets in Arlington. Uncle’s family then went home. On New Years Day, we got two exciting bits of news. First was that my aunt, my mom’s only sister, had become pregnant. Second was that my dad’s brother, the prodigal son, was engaged. There was much rejoicing. At night, my family watched ancient family videos that should not exist, and I instead played Risk of Rain, which I got from my uncles back in Utah, to distract myself. I managed to unlock Acrid and get all the way to the last level with him, but even with my super good run I died before I got to Prominence. The last major thing I did before coming back for Winter Term was eat lunch at an Ethiopian restaurant, it was good. So happens I went to an Ethiopian restaurant in Ethiopia today.
I wasn’t originally planning on going to Winter Term, I was planning on going on a mission at the time. However, having aspergers complicated the process. I had to go to Family Services, and was sorta depressed at the time, effecting how I filled out the forms. I was also very anxious during the interview with the consoler. Needless to say, that resulted in me not being recommended for a proselyting mission. This led to countless more arguing, mainly from my parents, I was too burned out to care. Anyway, soon I was going for Spring term as well.
I was back in the same room, but half the people in my apartment from last semester were gone. Namely the jerk, the band kid, and my roommate, us Clevelanders remained. New guys were my original roommate, fresh outta high school and a big fan of League of Legends, this return missionary who is Chinese American and the coolest dude ever (and a good cook). Last is my final roommate (original roommate switched rooms because I stay up too late and there was an open room), he’s from Romania. One of my uncles on my dad's side was a missionary to Romania, but before he joined the church, so he didn’t know him. Still neat. Had a bit more problems with conflicting sleep times, but otherwise we got along. He played the piano really good in the talent show. Always had his hair slicked back and wore a black leather jacket. I liked my roommates much more that semester, including becoming better friends with the original roommates. Played ultimate frisbee many times. Me and the Chinese guy went with the LoL guy on his birthday to Texas Roadhouse.
I had many new classes, not as many as last year. This time I had to computer science classes, basically polar opposites in the field. One was about the abstract data structures and algorithms most commonly used like linked lists and tree, the other was about how to get from dirt (silicon transistors) to a working computer through all the layers of abstraction. Well, aside from how operating systems worked, last topic was C, but that’s enough to make Snake and Conway’s Game of Life. Both subjects were covered in IB HL CS, but not nearly as in depth. The hardest and newest part of the latter was learning how machine code instructions are read and interpreted, ISA and Microarchitecture. Also, the labs were first harder in the prior class, but with Conway and Snake the latter’s labs became much harder. I literally stayed up all night finishing the stupid Snake lab, completing it was the happiest day of my life. Main new thing learned about in the former is self-balancing trees, and they were surprisingly easy to implement.
I also took the biology I dropped last semester. Turns out my professor was one of my mom’s friends from college, he dated one of her roommates for awhile. For the class itself, it wasn’t quite as in depth as I’d like, I noticed the things people learned in AP Biology, wanted to learn much more about cells on the chemical/mechanical level mainly. Glad I read that chapter of a biology book I acquired. It did cover a lot of different topics though, lots of interesting information. And yes, the Mormon school teaches evolution as truth like any respectable school, he was the first person to provide me with evidence for evolution I actually found convincing (not that I didn’t already believe in evolution), namely the kink in the spine of the human which differs us from other apes, but leads to back problems later in life. Doesn’t make sense why it would be there if we didn’t evolve from apes which weren’t bipedal. I think my teacher’s speciality is plants (he looks a bit like Mendel) and global warming, and one of the guest teachers was a specialist in evolution. For the class I had to write a final paper, and I covered the ethics of personal genetics, with a focus on the #MSSNG project.
As said before, second part of Book of Mormon. This time a different professor, someone from Institute, whatever that is. This time my C is for missing lots of class because it was early in the morning and there was a huge absence penalty. I plan on never taking morning classes again.
Last new class was Islamic Humanities. I learned so many interesting things there about Islamic History.My professor is a Mormon, but apparently he has a pretty significant stand in the Islamic world, personally knowing the topic Syrian targets of ISIL, tutoring the niece of the Shah in Egypt, and representing our church to the Iranian government on their television. Anyway, that class was as enlightening as the theater one, both in regards to Islamic History, and general philosophy thanks to Al-Ghazali. For our project we had to do some experience and write about it, I watched Offside that Iranian movie, and ate at some Middle Eastern restaurant, both with my grandparents.
I took Welsh Choir again, not the other choir as two choirs is too much and this one is more relaxing. There was a lot less people this time, but some other people showed up again. We say Hail to Kolob in Welsh and Gaelic, that was the best. Once I went to see a movie with two other people from choir, including that girl I mentioned previously, and one other person from my ward. The movie we saw was Nausicaa, and we made commentary the whole time. Nausicaa is best princess.
I was planning on going to back to volunteer again at Wasatch mental health, but I didn’t find the time. I ended up entering this ASD support group which meant once a week. What surprised me was that there were as many girls there as boys. Everyone was very different. I liked most the people there, but one guy annoyed me. He ended up being one of the people I home teached Spring Semester, and I learned he is a nephew of Mitt Romney. On a side note, it so happens that the Elders Quorum president was my home teaching companion in both wards. I got called as a Stake tech specialist, learning how to work the projectors at the conference building church was held at.
There was one fancy dance I went to at the Canon center. I went with the Chinese roommate. There we ate some deserts, disappointed there was no actual dinner. Afterwards we danced. I noticed Welsh choir girl with one of the girls from the ASD support group, that girl is legally blind, but gets away with really thick glasses. I met a girl that night just by dancing, and we danced together all night long. It was so fun even if the music sucked. Afterwards she gave me her number (she asked for mine first, but I didn’t have my phone with me), then I walked her to her dorm. YEAH! I texted her the next day and we talked a little bit, but nothing happened after that.
Our Hall Advisor planned several activities over the term. I remember basketball and a game night where I played this haunted mansion card/board game and this game with making paths to direct your opponent's ship into a monster or half the map. That’s really all I have to say about winter term.
Between semesters, I saw Nightwish with my uncle in Salt Lake. First metal concert I’ve ever been two. Delain and Sabaton opened for them. We arrived near the end of Delain’s set because we had trouble catching the train, but we still caught and couple songs, and they were what we came to see the least. Sabaton was a REALLY good opener, they have a great stage presence. The frontman is also funny. At the end of their set this 9 year old girl tossed them a poster saying “Savatage is awesome” and they invited her on stage for their final song. Nightwish themselves were really good, but much more navel gazy. My uncle recognized one of their songs from an old meme, epic maneuver. I only recognized “Amaranth” and “Imaginarium” as I’m a terrible fan. At one point, the new flutist guy mentioned how Utah has lots of Mormons, and Europe has lots of Normons or something. No one had any clue what he was talking about. “Weak Fantasy” was my favorite, it’s really good live. Overall it was very fun.
Spring term was different. It’s shorter, I only took two classes, but each is as many hours as two in a single week. Lots happened though. I also had to move to the dorms by the creamery as the one I was in was shut down for EFY. My uncle helped me move. We initially got the wrong room key though, not realizing we were in the girls dorm until they opened the door to their apartment, and even then it took a second. Oops. My actual apartment included two twins, a guy from Taiwan, the Elders Quorum president, and my roommate. I thought my roommate was that one guy from the ASD support group for a long time as I saw both of them frequently that semester, but never both in the same spot in the same time, and they look very similar, both being fat with short red hair. I also never learned his name when he first moved in my room, which was a few days after I entered, and didn’t learn it until near the end of the semester. :$ Turns out they're not though, roommate is Ba’hai and Romney's nephew is on another floor.
One of the first things we did was ward dinner where we had pizza all together then split into family home evening groups. Turns out like first semester it’s an apartment with an apartment, and said apparent was the one I thought was mine until I learned it wasn’t. So yeah, half the girls were already acquainted with me. Most the family home evenings were group activities though, so it didn’t really matter. One I remember that wasn’t was when we played sardines in the JKB, I was one of the few people to actually find those hiding (they were underneath the stairwell). Anyway, that time there was this one girl wandering around who I swear is autistic, first from the way that during dinner she was never actually really part of any group, just skirting around and listening. Then she flirted from FHE group to FHE group because she didn’t know which one was her. During ward prayer, she’d practice guitar (which she is really good at). Finally, apparently she is actually 26, but she acts younger than I do. She also plays mean Mario Kart.
Unlike in the other ward, I did ward choir this time, mainly because the time was different and it was easier to do it and eat dinner at grandparent’s. I did get called as ward clerk though, which made those things slightly harder. I also ended up showing up for ward prayer sometimes, as this ward actually did fun things during ward prayer. Mainly one minute date things. One girl held game nights every Wednesday night until the men got kicked out, starting with potluck, games like Signs, Heads Up, or Truth or Dare. They were fun, much better than slaving in the lab. At one point we went to a temple trip to the open house of some temple, really cool inside, lost one of my sunglasses lenses on bus ride back. Somehow I managed to break all three pairs of my sunglasses that semester, like within a month.
On the week before my birthday, I bought myself a pizza. On the way, I stopped at the duck pond, they were doing duck races. While waiting for pizza I watched the duck races. The real ducklings swimming against the rubber ducklings are the funniest. I managed to hold one of the ducklings when it got a piece of leaf stuck in it’s mouth and I got that out, but then mama duck made me give it back. My uncle and his wife were in Utah at the time, and they visited me on my birthday between classes, and got me my one birthday present on the day, a piece of licorous . I did get RockSmith earlier though. That night for family home evening we did indexing, and I was asked to help bring in the pizza. Being that it was my birthday and my birthday largely sucked so I refused, and I was ornery for the whole indexing session. Later I went with my uncle to a nickle arcade, there I defeated Shredder in Turtles Through Time. YEAH!
With my grandparents I saw the student production of “Princess Academy”. It was pretty good, apparently not quite as dark as the original book though. My grandparent’s left, but I stayed afterwards for the QA, and with my history with theater I had quite a bit to say. May have been a bit rude to say the performances of Gerdy and the Goat were my favorite, forgot to emphasise that it’s not that the other actors weren’t as good, but it’s the characters I like and they made those characters the most they could be. There was an outdoor showing of “Monsters University” towards the end of the semester. After being at university, I have a different perspective on it. We don’t have the Greek System though. I actually find scream can design more interesting than scaring, surely I can’t be the only one. Afterwards we bumped into the Princess Academy cast while walking back to our dorms.
Finally, the classes. First was Computer Science class. It was actually a math class, discrete mathematics, but it was part of the CS department, and then the whole time we had one project where we made the datalog programming language using the structures we were discussing in C. Strangely the first topic was the hardest, languages and grammars, then it went to the extremely easy propositional logic. Difficulty slowly picked up from there until we did graphs at the end of the course. Fairly interesting and very satisfying to finish class, you feel like you are the ultimate master.
The other one was Mission Prep. I signed up for that specifically to make the point I was capable of serving a mission. Class was interesting, main problem was with memorizing scripture passages, I’m not good at that. At the end of the semester my teacher let my submit an essay about how AS relates to serving a mission, and what I’ve done since the evaluation, and then she adjusted my scores on the tests. One of the more interesting things about the class was the paper we had to write about attending a service of a different faith. I chose Ba’hai because of my roommate, but I didn’t end going anywhere with him. My parents found a website for Ba’Hai in Utah, and it gave the address for the Ba’Hai center in Salt Lake City, saying they have seekers devotionals every Wednesday. During one FHE at this roller disco I found another student in the class still didn’t have anything, I told him about this and he got me a ride. There we found the center, which was just a converted house, and a Persian family gardening. Turned out the site was not only out of date, but the owner isn’t even Ba’Hai. A woman there who was LDS, but converted to Ba’Hai, gave us some literature, and some contact information to help set us up with an actual devotional. We later went to one in Draper, fortunately our professor gave us an extension. That devotional was neat, main thing is it’s so much less formal than an LDS service. The range of races of the people in attendance was also interesting to me. Ba’Hai is interesting.
My mom came and helped me move out of the apartment and come back to Virginia again, where I spent my final month. Don’t remember all I did there. Before Fourth of July was the ward Fourth of July breakfast, where some military chaplain gave the opening speech which my parents did not like at all. I felt awful the whole time because of what happened last night: after a friend I mentioned in previous journals said she just sees her vulva as another part of her body, I saw it as an opportunity to try to right something that had been bothering me, alluded to in some of the lyrics I’ve written. I asked her for nude photos. That is the STUPIDEST thing I have ever done, I’d say I’m lucky we’re still friends after that incident. I’ll leave out the rest of what happened/was going on, let’s just say I’m well aware pornography is NOT a friend, I felt my sins crawling up my back. Jesus is the surrogate, now I finally understand how no mortal can pay the price of sin. There is a related moment in preparing for my mission, where I was extremely anxious, humming “Motherload” to myself to stay sane, but afterwards I was so relieved, I was the happiest I have ever been in my life. I rededicated my life to God. Anyway, started feeling better after I talked to her more that afternoon and I realized she didn’t hate me and I wasn’t a worthless human who ruined absolutely everything and my emotional breakdown ended. Enough of that. I remember we once went that uncle’s house for fourth of July, his girlfriend was also there. We played Dominion. We were planning on seeing the fireworks in their area, but it got canceled due to the weather, so we went back to our place to watch fireworks from the roof of our apartment, the ones by the Washington Monument. While the one of the president’s helicopters fly right over us, we have no idea if he was in it, but it was definitely his helicopter. One of the last things we did there was go to the ball pit beach at that Building Museum. We also saw the hot and cold exhibit. An ocean of balls is quite an interesting experience. Finally, I beat Mother in Binding of Isaac for the first time. Not much later we left for Germany in root of Addis Ababa.
Lots more has happened in these last few months with Germany, Ethiopia, and Egypt, but I don't have time to write about it now, I get set apart for my mission at the Family History Center in Salt Lake later today. Hopefully the letters my parents sent my brother will work as a reminder in two years time. They didn't talk about how I totally won La-Mulana though, and nearly defeated Satan in Binding of Isaac. Well, so long. See ya in awhile, hopefully not for another two years. Otherwise, I'd have to reenroll at BYU.