Sunday, June 27, 2010

小心! 有名的鐘樓演奏者過來!

I've been on the phone for the last three hours...I think that's some kind of personal record!  Normally I hate talking on the phone.  However, that's neither here nor there.  When one is alone in a house with two dogs, one must take one's social interaction where one can find it.

So, the big news today is that I'm now world-famous!  Or at least Twin Cities-famous.  I played my second carillon concert of the summer at Central Lutheran church in downtown Minneapolis this morning after their worship service.  I practiced yesterday morning (well, just ran through my program, really), and the church public relations/media guy emailed me the day before and said there were going to be news cameras there from WCCO, the local TV station.  They didn't end up coming yesterday, because they had to get some coverage of some trees and houses knocked down by a storm Friday night instead (that's another post all on its own - that was a crazy storm!).  However, a cameraman did show up and film me playing this morning, so they put some footage of that on the news tonight!  So I'm a famous carillonneur now!  Here's the plug: go to and search for me!  I'm there, stocking feet and everything!  On top of that, it was the Minneapolis Gay Pride Parade today, so downtown was full of thousands and thousands of people.  It took me forever to find a parking spot to get to the church.  I'm sure many if not most of them heard my concert, too, so they count as my fan base, too!  I (very) briefly considered apostatizing earlier today - musicians at other churches get paid so much more than we do!  Infinitely more, in fact!

I didn't actually like the console as much as the one I played at a few weeks ago, but it was better regulated, and having a larger audience was definitely a plus.  Wherever I settle down eventually, a carillon may be a factor.  Not that I want that as a career, but it's pretty much a side job for everyone who does it, anyway.  I would just like to play occasionally.  I'm hoping the concert experience this summer lends some credence to my GCNA (Guild of Carillonneurs in North America) application, at least.  Speaking of which, I should order the audition music and start looking at it.

English title: Watch out!  The famous carillon player is coming!

Friday, June 25, 2010


Last night, I took the hamster out to play with him (in previous posts I may or may not have referred to him as a gerbil, which may or may not be because he is very small and I hadn't actually held him yet).  He is tiny!  At most a third the size of normal hamsters.  Yet very cute.  The dogs were downstairs, of course (Hailey killed a chipmunk in the yard a few weeks ago and brought it to show everyone after she had playfully mangled it a bit).  I didn't dare put him on the floor, not wanting to spend the rest of my evening recapturing him, but he had a little fun exploring the bedspread.  I picked him up to put him back, and he squirmed out of my hands, falling on the floor (I'm always amazed that little creatures can fall many times their height and come out unharmed - imagine falling 100 feet and being fine!).

After that there was no stopping him!  He scurried under the bed, with plenty of places to hide.  The whole room is lined with dressers and mirrors and curtains and other things, so I despaired of ever coaxing him out.  I removed some of the stuff under the bed, covering myself in dog hair in the process (the dogs sleep under the bed), but he wasn't there.  I found him to the left of the bed, trying to sneak out from underneath a side table, but he resisted all attempts at corralling him and ran the other way.  On the other side, it was a little more challenging, because the side table and a few other pathways for him converged.  We played cat and mouse for about five minutes before I finally grabbed him.  Then on the way to the cage, he squeezed out and fell again!  Crafty little fellow.  It only took a minute to corner him this time, in the same place.  I put him back, figuring he'd had enough excitement for the night, but then thought again and put him in his green plastic ball.

I carried him downstairs (no, I'm not sadistic enough to let him roll down them, although it happened to one of our hamsters in Singapore on accident and he was fine) to let the dogs see him without tearing him to pieces.  They reacted in the funniest way I've ever seen!  Hailey barked a lot and stayed by me.  She wouldn't get close to the ball, except for once when she went in and tried to bite it really quickly and then ran away.  Duke barked some, but mostly he whined like he was scared or uncomfortable.  I wish I'd had a video camera handy, because this would have made good YouTube material!  Duke, surprisingly, was the more aggressive of the two in making advances.  Usually he's the scaredy cat.  He would go up to it and whine and bark and lick the ball and try to bite it and tap it with his foot.  Speedy (the hamster) didn't seem to mind the dogs nearly as much as he minded me trying to catch him, but I guess the environment was completely different.  Me catching him was probably a lot more like a normal predator/prey situation, whereas he probably couldn't really see the dogs very well and contently rolled around in his ball despite occasional jabs from Duke.  He stopped a few times to do the little hamster thing they do with their front paws and face, rubbing all over, and Duke would just sit a few feet away and watch him until he started rolling again.

After we were done I put him back in the cage, and I took it down to show Duke and Hailey what Speedy looks like outside of a ball.  They didn't seem to care much; hopefully I don't go home today to a cage knocked over and bloodstains on the carpet!

English title: There's a reason the hamster's called Speedy!

Monday, June 21, 2010


So much to say, so little time in which to say it...

Today is day 6 of the Fjeldsted family vacation, and thus day 6 of my solitary confinement (except for the dogs and gerbil, but they don't talk to me, so it amounts to the same thing).  There should be a study done comparing the effectiveness of canine companionship in staving off signs of lunacy when alone for long periods of time.  I bet dogs provide a kind of outlet for social interaction that helps keep otherwise isolated people from going completely bonkers.  It's not as bad as all that, but a few days have been rather boring.

The first full day they were gone, last Wednesday, I managed to lock myself out of the house!  Here's the account firsthand from an email written not long ago: "I found out by midday, because the neighbor kid who comes over to let the dogs out during the day called my aunt and uncle and told them the door from the garage to the house was locked.  It turns out that I unlocked it, but not completely, and it snapped back to being locked when I closed the door behind me.  Anyway, I got home around 4:30, and looked around the house.  Doors locked.  My aunt texted me and said that one of the windows on the second floor was probably unlocked.  However, we didn't have a ladder in the garage that went that high (maybe 14-15 feet, pretty high up).  So, I had to borrow one from the neighbors.  First house I tried (because they were the only neighbors I had met), no one was home.  A lady across the street was out watering her plants, so I approached her, introduced myself as the nephew staying for the summer, and asked her if she had a ladder I could borrow.  I really think serving a mission works wonders for forcing yourself through awkward situations, because that was pretty awkward.  "Hi, I've never met you before, but I need your ladder to break into the house across the street that I've locked myself out of.  Thanks!"  She looked a little confused and awkward herself, but her genuinely nice and neighborly nature won out and she graciously let me borrow their ladder.  Off I went to the back yard to put it up against the house.  I climbed up only to discover that I would have to stand on the very top of a skinny ladder perched precariously against the wall several feet off a brick patio to even attempt to reach the window, and on top of that there was a bug screen on the outside of the window.  Scratched that idea.  Climbed onto a section of roof jutting out to try opening another window with a bug screen, couldn't get the screen off.  I then went around the ground floor windows (without screens), trying to open them.  I tried pushing on one of them to get a grip so I could then push up to open it, and it fell in the house!  Only diagonally - the bottom of it was still in the windowsill track and lifted up a little bit.  So I returned the ladder and clambered awkwardly over the jutting window.  This whole time, the dogs were barking furiously, having not been let out for 10 hours.  They weren't angry with me; in fact, I was their hero.  They spent the rest of the afternoon/evening following me around and making sure I wasn't going to leave them.  Anyway, the window got put back in properly, and everything was fine, but it was an awkward 20-minute adventure!  Imagine me presenting the neighbor lady (I didn't even ask her name) with a chocolate souffle after that..."  The context of that last sentence will remain forever unknown for those to whom the email was not addressed, but apart from that, it was quite an experience.  We all need things to keep us humble, right?

Saturday was spent mostly doing chores and yard work; I also hatched a plan to invite people from the YSA over for dinner.  I discovered the complete recipe for Cafe Rio Pork Salad on someone's blog a few weeks ago (rice, beans, pork, dressing, everything completely authentic), so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to have some people over so it wasn't just me and the dogs all Sunday afternoon.  I remembered how much I love gardening - driving to the grocery store I saw a greenhouse/nursery and stopped to browse.  I ended up buying some herbs and pots and potting soil, of course.  Not very sensible since I'm only here for another five weeks, but there you have it.  It's one of my primal urges.  I was wondering what to do with myself around 8 pm when I got a text from Kurt in the ward, asking if I wanted to come hang out and go on a boat cruise.  Very fortuitous.  He lives on a lake a few miles away.

It ended up being a 'booze cruise'!  Not exactly, because although the chips and popcorn and marshmallows were almost certainly real, the booze was sparkling cider and pear and pomegranate Martinelli's.  There were four girls and me and Kurt in the boat, and we cruised around the lake and snacked and rocked out to Jason Mraz (I'd never heard of him until a couple of days before, and then that's all we listened to - isn't life full of coincidences like that?).  I really like his music; I'll have to buy a few songs.  The marshmallows were strawberry and regular flavored and about 3 inches in diameter and 3 inches tall - we had a mouth stuffing contest, which ended up with two being spit overboard and the rest swallowed after much laborious maneuvering!  We stopped after an hour to pick another guy up, and then we had a dance party in the middle of the lake for a bit.  After that ended around 11 pm, Kurt tried to start the boat, only to find that it was dead.  Bother.  None of us was dressed to plunge in the lake (not that we wanted to anyway), and for a time it seemed that the booze cruise was destined to keep us there all night.  A great excuse not to be at church!  Kurt had a charger for the battery at home and an oar, though, so he ended up having his brother drive the charger around the lake to us while he paddled to shore with his singular oar.  And thus the day was saved.  There are pictures on Facebook...

Church yesterday was great.  I've grown to really love the ward here, and I'll miss it when I'm gone.  I already feel more at home in this ward than I did in either of my BYU wards last year, and I've only been here a few weeks.  Maybe part of it is that it's smaller and more tight-knit, and that I have multiple callings and opportunities to serve, but whatever the cause, I hope to be back in a ward like this one soon, either at BYU or elsewhere.  Throughout church I invited people to dinner, but it seemed like no one was going to come!  It being Father's Day, most of the people from the area were going home for dinner.  I then focused on the summer marketers, but one group was having a company barbecue and the other was heading to an uncle's house.  Desperately I continued the search - as tasty as Cafe Rio salads are, I couldn't eat ten by myself!  Thankfully, I ended up having five other people over - Matt, Victor, Lauren, and the elders.  Matt just got here from BYU as a Target intern, and he knows at least three other really good friends of mine.  We were in Helaman Halls the same time.  Funny how paths collide.  Anyway, they enjoyed dinner and we played some Apples to Apples afterward.  Then, half an hour after they left, some summer marketers who couldn't make it showed up to hang out with a couple other people from the ward.  We played pool (I dominated until my partner scratched on the 8 ball!) and crud and then some more Apples to Apples.  Crud is so much fun - I didn't realize how much I missed it until we played last night.  There was an apartment on my mission with a pool table and we would play at least a couple times a week.  I lost the first round or two, but after that I was unstoppable - three in a row!

I've discovered in the last couple years how much I enjoy helping people be happy and have a good time.  I get it from my mom.  She's always helping everyone and she loves the YSA and she has people over for Sunday dinner pretty much every week!  She's always been a mom to anyone and everyone who comes under her roof.  I feel the same way - I love cooking for people, I love it when people enjoy my cooking, and I like being with people when they're having a good time and knowing that I helped.  So even though I still have a sink full of dishes to do (no time yesterday before I had to go to bed, no time this morning to do them either), I fell asleep last night happier than I've been in a while, because I made people happy by inviting them over when they didn't have anything else to do.  I don't think I'll become a professional chef or lounge host anytime soon, but it's nice to clearly figure out one of the things that brings me fulfillment.

English title: Booze Cruise!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

畢業? 不是我的吧。。。

I really can't believe how fast the time goes when one has a job; you think you'll have time to catch up on things on the weekends, but then you have errands to run or stake conference or you go out of town!  To unceremoniously wrap up my last post, my birthday only got better.  After work Matt and Chaune and the crew (sans Christian) took me out to dinner at Amici, a really quaint little Italian dive with great food.  I got insalate caprese and gnocchi with cream sauce, both of which were fantastic.  And to top it off, I got presents!  I wasn't really expecting them to get me anything, especially because they're really frugal, but they surprised me with a board game (Wits and Wagers; you bet on all the play...aaaarrrrghh!!!  Safari just quit on me and I was almost done and had typed five more paragraphs!  The autosave didn't kick in either! Oh well, time to quickly type what I remember of my post...ers' guesses to numerical questions), an iTunes gift card, and best of all, one of those cards on which you can record a few seconds of anything you want!

A little background.  A few weeks ago it was Aunt Chaune's birthday, and Jakob asked me how to say happy birthday in Chinese so he could say it to her.  I told him, "Shengri kuaile!" and he proceeded to imitate me.  However, he kept getting the tones wrong.  He wanted to say a second tone and a fourth tone for kuaile instead of two fourth tones!  That was very irritating, but after a lot of coaching and coaxing, he and Chelsey got it down.  So I opened up my card, and the entire Fjeldsted family shouted from within, "Shengri kuaile!", of course with the wrong tones!  So now I have some bad Chinese to make me smile whenever I need a pick-me-up.

I left on Thursday evening for Maryland to see my brother Andrew's graduation.  He's been attending McDonogh School, a boarding school outside of Baltimore, for the past two years, playing lacrosse.  In recent news, he got into BYU and is going to play lacrosse there!  Awesome!  My plane was delayed an hour, so I didn't get in until after midnight.  Early Friday morning, Andrew, Daniel, and I left for the school first so I could meet the school carillonneur and practice for a bit before the ceremony.  It was my first time at McDonogh.  The school is truly beautiful.  It's situated on a large tract of rolling farmland with fields and woods, at the center of which is a campus of Federal style brick buildings, some very large.  Many of the faculty live in houses right there on campus, and they all know each other.  I can't imagine a more picturesque location for a boarding school.  I played the carillon for half an hour as prelude music before the ceremony started and then for a few minutes afterwards; Mr. Lyon-Vaiden (the carillonneur) even got my name on the program!  The service itself was very nice.  The guys who were graduating were all dressed in jackets with the school crest on them and pants and school ties, and the girls had white dresses with bouquets of flowers.  It was held outside on the lawn, and it couldn't have been better weather.  It was sunny with some big white puffy clouds, breezy and warm but not too warm.  Best graduation ever.

Saturday we went into D.C. as a kind of birthday outing for me.  We went to the National Portrait Gallery and saw many famous portraits of notable Americans, including Joseph Smith and George Washington!  They have the famous portrait of the Prophet Joseph, and many paintings of President Washington, among which is the famous life-size one of him standing in his office.  Afterwards we went out for dim sum - this place was legit!  It still had the carts; the servers push around carts with hot, fresh dim sum and other dishes on them so you can take whatever you want and it's always just been cooked.  The shrimp ones were soooooooo good!  And the gailan (green vegetable) was heavenly! meal of the last three months, hands down.

I came back to Minneapolis Sunday night.  It was a short trip, but I really enjoyed seeing my family and Maryland and our house and getting to play my piano!  It may be the last time for a few of those, at least for a while - my parents have put the house up for sale, so I probably won't have a reason to go back to the East Coast for a while, sadly.

This week at work has been really great.  I'm finally getting acclimated to the office culture and used to everything, and I feel like I can contribute a lot more than I could a few weeks ago.  My main project at the moment is putting together the financial operating plan books for the senior leadership - basically I go through all of the business and geography accounts for Medtronic and assimilate the data into a readable format, then put together binders that only about 5 people in the company will receive.  I have access to all the financial information of a Fortune 200 company!  So basically I know as much about Medtronic's finances as anyone in the company, and I've only been here 6 weeks.  I promise I only use my powers for good.  Seriously, though, it's very interesting being able to see how the company manages its money.  I go to meetings with Dr. Oesterle (the man who got me this internship, Vice President of Medicine and Technology for Medtronic) occasionally, and one I attended last week was really cool.  It was a ten year strategic planning meeting for Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management, the largest and oldest business unit at Medtronic, and I was the only one of about 20 people in the room who wasn't a senior executive for the business, which would be a Fortune 500 company just by itself!  Intimidating.  It's humbling being able to have experiences like that, and I've really learned a lot in the short space of time I've been here.

Matt and Chaune took the kids on their summer road trip vacation yesterday, so I'm left alone in the house for the next 3.5 weeks.  Exult or go crazy?  Maybe a little of both.  It's nice in some ways, but I was enjoying having playmates on demand and coming home most nights to home-cooked meals.  I have at least one thing to keep me busy, though: importing all of these CD's onto my computer!  I bought that set before my mission and it sat in Maryland for three years.  I reclaimed it last weekend and now I have 170 CD's to import and organize and catalogue.  Fun!  I'm listening to lots of Mozart, believe me.

Well, hopefully I remember to do this again soon so you don't have to read an interminably long post such as this again.

English title: Graduation?  Not mine...


It being my birthday, I thought it appropriate to embark on a lengthy discussion of the meaning of life (mine specifically), employing various deep thoughts as foci from which to build my arguments and lull all visitors here into a pleasant, placid state of contemplation.  In other words, I have half an hour still at work with nothing to do and decided this was a most productive way to spend my time.

Each birthday, I find, brings with it a unique aura.  This one feels slightly more austere than usual, mostly because I'm nowhere near friends and family (although I get to leave for Maryland tomorrow to see the family) and I'm certainly not expecting gifts except for the cards from grandparents and aunts and uncles and the bike I bought myself.  However, that can be a good thing, because it means I can more easily focus on the deeper nature of my birthday as a starting point for the next year and the conclusion of the last, rather than be distracted by (the admittedly fun) fluff.

All seriousness aside, I've had a great day!  I woke up this morning to my aunt and the dogs singing happy birthday, and proceeded to find various computer printouts wishing me a happy birthday with tantalizing pictures of cake all over the house, placed there by house-elves, no doubt.  I'm sure I have many Facebook posts wishing me a happy birthday (not being able to access FB here at work, I have yet to feel the joy of reading each and every one of them), and the Fjeldsteds are taking me out to dinner tonight!  Probably the best feeling, though, is the anticipation of leaving for Maryland tomorrow.  I love traveling, and staying in one place, even for just a few months, is stifling - especially in the summertime.  Seeing the family is a plus, too.  I also get to play the carillon at Andrew's high school on Friday for his graduation!  How cool is that?

I'll probably finish this after I get home...I can't type in Chinese at work and I can't upload pictures, so half of the excitement of blogging is gone right there!  Farewell until ca 8 pm.

(This was meant to post on June 9th, but due to a weekend vacation, it has taken a week to navigate the treacherous waters of my Blogger sorry)

English title: Happy Birthday!

Saturday, June 5, 2010


I don't recall exactly when I posted last, but I think it was almost two weeks ago following the Hamelin concert (disregarding the multiple-choice question, which hardly counts as a post).  Since that time, my world has been turned completely upside down!

Just kidding, but it's as good of an attention-grabber as any.  The news in brief: last weekend, being Memorial Day weekend, was long.  In my case, it was extra long.  At work on Friday, I was about to go to lunch when my boss came up to me and informed me in a roundabout way that I could leave whenever I wanted to.  I took his words to heart and left as soon as I was finished eating (had I not brought a lunch, I likely would have left upon finishing our conversation!).  Thereupon followed a lengthy bike ride.  We live in the northwest corner of the Twin Cities, with basically wilderness on three sides of the town, and there's a nature reserve a couple miles away with biking trails and paths, so I biked up there.  Within the confines of Elm Creek Park Reserve, I biked past a frisbee golf course (if I had anyone around to play with, I might go - maybe I can plan for that as an FHE activity!), a lake (no one was on it, but I guess the weekend hadn't officially started yet), several horse trails (marked specifically 'no bicycles'; sad day!), and various woodland creatures.  I was sunburned, but that didn't stop me from going out for rides on Saturday and Monday as well.  For those forays I took different paths.  There are so many paths here I could probably go on a different ride every day of the summer.

On Saturday we went to the Mall of America.  It wasn't as big as I expected it to be, but I suppose nothing compares to the mall in the base of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.  It's four stories high, with a Nickelodeon theme park in the middle (complete with rides, though we didn't get to do any).  It was only moderately crowded, given the holiday weekend, but notwithstanding the crowds I triumphed at every store in my path!  In particular, I spent only $3 (on a pair of socks, 25% off) at Banana Republic, a daring feat with which I will regale my children and my children's children.  Other stores, unfortunately, coaxed a bit more out of me.  I went with Jakob and Chelsey, and Jakob needed some new shoes, but by the time Chelsey and I were done, Jakob hadn't even looked at shoes yet, so I went with him to Journeys and fell in love with some neon green Converse shoes while I was waiting for him.  I then spied some neon blue ones, and was suddenly stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I asked the salesgirl if I could buy one of each pair, but she was firmly opposed unless I bought both pairs, so I ended up going for the green.

In other news, I'm suddenly undecided on my recital program again.  I listened to the Grenados Goyescas with the score for the first time this week, and I fell in love with them, so now it's a toss-up between them and Iberia, where last week I was firmly in the Albeniz camp.  It may boil down to length, as the Prokofiev is 30 minutes long and I don't have time to play more than two of the Goyescas.  What to do?

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this on here, but I was listening to the radio a couple weeks ago and heard a piece for piano and harpsichord duo, a Tango by Asako Hirabayashi.  It was eccentric and fun, and she's a composer and harpsichordist who lives here in the Twin Cities, so I looked her up, emailed her, and asked her for a copy of it.  She very willingly sold me a copy, and I'm toying with including it in my recital as well.  Should I learn the harpsichord part, or have someone else (probably Dr. Bush) play it?  Or forgo it altogether?  It would be really neat to have pieces spanning the time from Scarlatti to 2010 (she wrote it in 2009 and revised it a little before giving it to me), and I can guarantee that no one in attendance will ever have heard it before...

Today was mostly uneventful: oil change, haircut, practicing.  I had stake conference (the evening session) tonight, and I mistakenly thought it was at 8 pm when it was in fact at 6 pm.  I arrived at 7:30 (half an hour early, or so I thought) to a full parking lot and was at once chagrined, but I went in, figuring that the last half an hour would be as valuable as any.  I was right - Elder C. Scott Grow of the Seventy was presiding, and I heard about five minutes of him speaking, and the rest of the time was members of the congregation asking questions of him and his answers.  I won't list all of them here, but it was amazing, because each of the questions had direct applicability to me, and his answers went straight to my heart and bore witness that he was a servant of God.  I'm so grateful to belong to a church with direct revelation and the fulness of the Holy Ghost.

I'm excited for tomorrow, which will be more of the same, no doubt.  I also get to go to my brother Andrew's graduation from high school in Maryland next weekend!  Two great things to look forward to.  Jakob is calling me for a game of Monopoly, so this blog will be adjourned until such time as is convenient for it to be in session.

English title: Long time no see!

P.S. If you dare, go to and try to name the countries of the world!  Britny got me started on it, and now my fastest time is 5:03.  If you can't name all the countries in the world yet, start with each continent and work your way up.  Have fun!