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Wednesday, August 31, 2005



I found out today that it doesn't matter if the actual amount tendered gets entered into the cash register, as long as the correct change is given. So if I can calculate the change faster than it would take to punch the numbers in, then I can just hit the exact change button and open the drawer quicker. The helps shave a few seconds off the drivethrough time, in an effort to get the average down. Today the average was 58 seconds when I left. That's better than yesterday, when it was over a minute. Of course, yesterday they were training a new guy on food.

Also, I've finally stopped my brain from starting to find prime factorizations every time an order number gets called out. But if you walk up to me and say a random integer, it will still do that.

Monday, August 29, 2005



I ended up making cookies for the Sunday School class. I called and got a recipe from my sister on Saturday. They didn't turn out quite how they were supposed to, but I think I know what I did wrong. As it turned out, most of my class was gone yesterday; I only had 3 girls and no boys. We ate some of the cookies and played a board game.

Sunday afternoon my family came and visited. They took myself and my roommate out for lunch/dinner at Red Lobster. (My dad has been wanting to eat there for a long time and finally talked my mom into it.) Afterwards we discovered that the mall was closed, then went to the zoo for the last ten minutes that it was open. Ultimate Frisbee was at 19:00 since the high schoolers were coming back from a camping trip, and my sister played with us for about an hour until my parents were ready to leave.

Today at work I was the drivethrough cashier again. I like that job.

I have emailed Dr. Hill about oral exam and will hopefully be able to schedule it soon.

Friday, August 26, 2005



Last night was the first Crossroads (college group) meeting. Dan is taking over leading it, but Brad is still leading the music. It was just an introduction to what we do there and that sort of thing. There were a lot of newcomers; I counted 42 people in the room total.

Thursday, August 25, 2005



Someone called in sick today so I ended up being the drivethrough cashier instead of working on the food line. Despite working in restaurants before, this is the first time I've handled a cash register. This one has a touch-sensitive screen, which is a bit tricky to work with until you get the hang of it. Basically I was just taking money, making change, and handing out food for four hours. I was doing pretty good until one lady gave me three dollars in change. I had to count it, and that backed everything up. Naturally there were several cars behind her. The goal at Taco Bell is to average 45 seconds on drivethrough orders. I'm sure we were over that today.



A few random items I forgot to mention:

Random Item #1: Monday at Taco Bell, some lady in the drivethrough asked for a "rice meal". After consulting with the other workers, the person with the headset told her, "we don't have any meals with rice". Her response: "Yes you do!" This reminded me of when customers at Gertie's would insist that we had cream cheese pizza or jalapeno pizza. The lady also wanted ice cream, which Taco Bell does not have.

Random Item #2: I have to plan an end-of-the-year Sunday School party. I asked the kids for suggestions, and they seem to want a big review question game with candy for prizes.

Random Item #3: Since I'm not taking classes this semester, I had to move out of my office. Eight boxes of math books. Right now they are sitting in the living room until I can figure out a way to make room for them somewhere else.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005



This post about the backpacking trip has been sitting as a draft waiting to be completed for several days:

Where to begin? I obtained a backpack on Thursday afternoon and spent most of the rest of that day organizing my gear and packing it up. I believe it was lighter this year than last year, even with the added weight of a tent. Before I strapped the tent on, Mike estimated that my pack weighed about 33 pounds. The tent wasn't very heavy; it was the little two-man one that Kevin and Torey used last year.

The drive to the trailhead was long. We took off around 11:00 and didn't get started on the hike until about 17:30. We picked up my roommate Jeremy on the way. The hike itself took about 2.5 hours. It was five miles, but only the last mile and a half were very steep. There were twenty-four of us (up from sixteen last year), so we got pretty spread out. At one point Kevin, who was in the very back, shouted instructions which got passed from group to group, and apparantly distorted on the way. What I heard and passed on was, "Bear right at the top of the falls!". I assumed that this meant to turn right upon reaching the top of the waterfall, although it could also be interpreted as meaning that there was a dangerous animal sitting right at the top, or possibly that we were supposed to go skinny dipping there. As it turned out, the instructions should have been, "Cross the river at the bottom of the falls!". As a result, some of us ended up taking a more difficult route than was necessary.

The Barry, Mike, Steve & Company, as usual, got to the trailhead a long time before anyone else. In fact, they first got to the lake around the time we were starting out. After the first arrivals showed up, they hiked back down to help stragglers. I think Mike carried about five backpacks up the steepest part of the hill.

After arriving, the first order of business was to decide whether to eat dinner or set up the tent first. Jeremy was predictably campaigning in favor of dinner, but I wanted to find a good campsite before it got dark. He agreed to this and we found a place to set up. Andrew and Phillip pitched their tent in the same area. As I said, it was Kevin's little two-man tent. It doesn't look big enough for two from the outside, but inside there is room enough as long as you don't try to do anything except lay down. Rolling over in the night, sitting up, putting on your shoes, etc. are not recommended activities.

In order to pack more lightly, I took a couple of freeze-dried meals. They aren't bad, and they are easier to prepare than Ramen noodles. Jeremy brought vegetables and raw hamburger, which he wrapped in foil and cooked on the coals. He also brought a piece of raw dough which he cooked on a stick the second night. He said it wasn't bad. On Sunday morning there wasn't time to cook anything, so he ate a raw potato with salt, and leftover Smores ingredients. My roommate has interesting ideas about food. I have yet to see him turn down food when it is offered, under any circumstances. He says this comes from living in a large family. You learn to eat food as soon as you see it, before it disappears. The younger children only survive long enough to learn this because they are cute and the older siblings take pity on them.

On Saturday, we hiked up to the second lake, where some of the guys jumped off the cliffs into the water, then swam out to a rock, about 50 yards away. John, who is almost 13, swam out there, but it took about half an hour to convince him to swim back. He finally went along with a couple of older guys, and grabbed onto them for part of the way. Everyone said the water was freezing in that lake, but comparatively warm in the lower one.

We ate lunch up there, and afterwards some of the guys were going to hike up to the third lake, and then to the top of the highest local peak. I was inclined to just go back to the lower lake, and I decided to do this for sure because Kevin wanted to go on the day hike, but needed an adult to stay with Torey and John. So, I followed the boys back down to the lower lake, where they went swimming. After a while Mike, Tommy and Aaron joined us. John displayed his amazing powers of irritation, prompting us to threaten to throw him in the lake -- which didn't mean much since he'd been jumping in. A few other threats were made, and he at least stopped throwing big rocks in and splashing everyone.

That evening we gathered at one of the campfires and discussed an article everyone had been given copies of; it was a chapter of the book Holiness by J.C. Ryle, which is actually a collection of sermons. The chapter we read was about love for God as a foundational aspect of Christianity.

As everyone was showing up, there was a full-grown doe that wandered down near the campsite and stayed there grazing. She would perk up and listen every time there was a loud noise, but didn't seem concerned with all the people. Martin, who is from West Africa, had three questions about the deer: 1) What is it? 2) Is it dangerous? 3) Who does it belong to? He's been in the U.S. for five years, but there's still a big culture gap.

The hike down was in some ways more difficult than the hike up. Not as tiring, but more tricky in the steep places. For a while I was by myself, then I ended up with Andre, who was guiding Torey and John. There were places where we would just pick a tree below us, then basically do a controlled slide and stop ourselves by running into / grabbing onto said tree. The nice thing was that on the way down the hard part was all in the beginning; then it was pretty much just a level hike until we got back to the trailhead. Not everyone ended up in the same place at the bottom of the hill, and it took most of an hour to locate everyone and make sure we were all accounted for.

I'm sure there's other things I could have typed, but I just want to get this posted finally.



Now that the backpacking post is up, I have other news. I found out on Monday that I passed my algebra exam. Now I just have to schedule and pass the oral exam.

Also on Monday, I had the orientation for my new job at Taco Bell. None of the teaching jobs I applied for worked out this fall, so I'll probably be hanging out here for another semester at least. I started work yesterday; for the time being I'm working Monday-Friday, from 11-15. Today I was offered an additional morning shift doing outdoor cleanup, but I want to see if I can do some tutoring or something in the mornings, since my schedule at Taco Bell is going to be predictable.

Thursday, August 11, 2005



Well, I've got the backpack, and the sleeping bag, and the food. Now I just have to put everything together. Sure was hot today.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005



Not a whole lot going on. I haven't heard back yet from either the college I'm applying at about my application or the graduate committee about my test results. This weekend I'm going on the men's backpacking trip with some guys from my church. Today I got a haircut.

Hmm, I guess I haven't mentioned Sunday School lately. The girls have started actually participating, so that it feels like a real class. We just finished Numbers, and have a few weeks before the fall curriculum starts, so starting Sunday after next I'll do some review.

Friday, August 05, 2005



Well, I took the exam today. Four hours of algebra! Some people would consider that torture; I actually enjoyed it. Once the test started, I stopped being nervous. There were twelve problems and we were supposed to do ten of them. I knew before it was half over that I wouldn't get through more than eight. I actually ran out of time a little over halfway through the eighth one. I've heard contradictory information about what it takes to pass, so I'm really not sure if I have a chance or not. I was reasonably confindent with what I turned in.

Monday, August 01, 2005



My master's exam is on Friday.

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