Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

We have made it to another weekend and it has started off nicely for me. Today is a holiday in Palau and to celebrate, I ran a 10K sponsored by the Ministry of Health in a stop tobacco campaign. And I have a big announcement to make. I WON the 10K.

You are currently looking at the NATIONAL champion of 10K running for the tiny island nation of Palau. Well, you aren’t “looking” looking at me. But you know what I mean. Unless you are actually looking at me, in which case you’re sort of freaking me out. Just come out and say hi. We’ll probably be friends. You don’t need to hide.

Also, I don’t know how long you’ve been watching, but that dance I did this morning in my apartment on my way out the door . . . I was sleep walking. I don’t usually do that. Unless you’ve been watching for more than a day, in which case, ok, yes, I do normally do that, but it’s for a good cause. What? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Ha. Me neither. Never mind.

And now, your pictures and distractions:

Just before sunrise, looking over the bay from my balcony.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Yahoo! Answers IX

It's been too long guys. So I went to Yahoo! Answers to get some feedback on more of life's most important questions. And as usual, the strangers of the world did not disappoint.

Special thanks to Lora. Bless you.

Question 1: Can Cats commit adultery? My cats Trixy and Mr. Biggles have been married for about one year and I recently discovered that Trixy has not been faithful and now I'm worried that she won't go to heaven with us because the Bible says you can't commit adultery. Does the Bible apply to cats too?

1.  Not really. ~Max

2. Seriously kid? Seriously? Even if the bible was real it doesn't apply to non-humans! ~Awesome Guy

3. Yes. Jerry Springer is the next step. Maybe Maury. ~Meow

4. Since cats don't get married, I don't see how adultery could apply to them. You might be interested to know that cats are not mentioned in the Bible at all (unless you count lions).  ~Gary C

5. Humans, frankly, are more intelligent in a way than other animals. Humans can think and know that adultery according to the Bible is wrong, so according to the Christian religion, anyone who has committed adultery and hasn't repented is punished. Cats, however don't realize that adultery is wrong. Like really, you can't read the Bible to your cat and teach them what's wrong and what's right. Therefore, I seriously doubt that the Bible applies to cats.  ~Corri

The Best and Worst of Palau

Family, friends, and Strangers have frequently emailed and asked me about what I have liked and haven't liked about living in the equatorial Pacific. The answer to those questions has evolved a bit during my time here, but I thought it might be fun and interesting to give you a quick list of the five worst and best aspects about living in Palau for me. All in all, I have to say that Palau is a pretty awesome place to move to, if you're looking for a change. Even though Leotrix and his family live here.

The Five Worst Things About Living in Palau

1. What the Kids are Calling "The Internets":

The Internet in Palau is slower than your grandma. NOT THAT I'M SAYING YOUR GRANDMA IS SLOW. As you know, I do not understand the ways of the computer magic. But my memory of the explanation for why the Internet is so slow has something to do with there being no fiber something or other and using satellites instead. All I know is that it is a HUGE inconvenience on my life in every way possible. It makes Youtube basically inaccessible, and much of the time, Facebook is inaccessible as well. When you send me hysterical videos of cats, I can't watch them. Instead I send them to my sister Krishelle and have her tell me how funny they are. My gchat function rarely works and it usually takes several minutes to load to the html version of my inbox. Putting up Friday's pictures every week is one of my most dreaded tasks.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Last Minute Notice

Last week amid all of the Leotrix drama Daniel informed me that he had invited some people over for dinner for the next day.

Daniel: Oh, by the way, last Sunday I told some people to come for dinner on Thursday.

Eli: Ok. And when were you planning on letting me know about this?

Daniel: Tomorrow afternoon. You're welcome for letting you know even earlier than I had planned.

Here's the problem with Daniel's EXCESSIVELY issued dinner invitations: Daniel doesn't cook.

I cook. I'm not fabulous but I'm experienced and above-average at it thanks to a lifetime of tutelage in the Bob and Cathie School of Cooking and years of my own initiative trial and error. And I can pull off a pretty good meal now in my old age. Cooking has been an especially big hobby for me in Palau since it gets dark early and I like to eat my feelings anyway, so I've been able practice my craft.

Daniel doesn't really cook. Don't get me wrong. He's a great helper. But, like, in the "it's shake-n-bake, and I HELPED!" kind of way. He bakes exceedingly well, which I don't do at all. We have very defined food preparation roles. It's a gentleman's agreement of sorts.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


I had sort of a bad experience this weekend. It was an embarrassing one. Not the haha I-accidentally-got-naked-in-a-public-place kind of embarrassing. The sad-and-ashamed kind of embarrassing. I responded to a mostly innocuous situation that I irrationally let hurt my feelings. And the way I immaturely acted was totally inconsistent with who I know I am. It was nothing really extreme and probably went largely unnoticed by anyone who didn't know me well. But I was socially awkward in a way that I'm never socially awkward.

I knew it was a mistake as it was happening. It was like watching my own personal train wreck without doing anything to stop it.

Do you ever feel like the most terrible parts of yourself have taken over?

When I got home that night, Daniel sort of let me have it. He demanded an explanation for my uncharacteristic behavior and said some things that felt harsh but that I knew were sincere and in my best interest. Sometimes Daniel is exactly like Oprah. SOMEONE GET THIS GUY HIS OWN NETWORK AND MAGAZINE.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

The great and terrible week has come to a close. Leotrix is probably off somewhere eating the rat poison left out for him and becoming stronger in the process. The Queen of Colors is taking advantage of us all being distracted with Leotrix and is plotting her next evil move. And The First Eye is watching. Always watching.

And with that, have a great weekend, Strangers. You are the wind beneath my wings.

Here are your pictures of the week:

These are the looks Daniel and I always have when we are with the church kids. The girl in white in the front is Daniel's nemesis that I told you all about recently, by the way.


First of all, Stranger was surprisingly in the news today! And the first part of this article totally makes it sound like I was arrested.

Should we be worried when something from Stranger is considered "newsworthy?"


So some of you may have read yesterday's post. And if you did, you might have noticed that I got a little carried away about things. And I may have proposed some violent solutions to what is most definitely the WORST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED IN THE HISTORY OF ALL THINGS THAT HAVE EVER HAPPENED.

After I posted that, with the pictures that some have criticized as "inaccurate" and "false" and "absurd" and "impossible" and "Eli needs to start seeing all of the therapists in the world as soon as possible," I got to thinking that maybe I had overreacted.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013



No. Put down that cat and turn off the tv. I mean it. I need your FULL attention. I'll wait.

Now you all know that I don't like to exaggerate and I certainly don't want to overreact here because if there's one thing I hate it's when someone overreacts. But guys. Last night the most HORRIBLE TERRIBLE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD HAPPENED TO ME!!!!!!!

Ok, so that goes maybe a little too far. Maybe this isn't the worst thing ever. Because I know that some bad stuff has happened in the history of the world. Like Justin Bieber, for example. BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO ME LAST NIGHT IS ALMOST AS BAD AS JUSTIN BIEBER!

I seriously cannot use big enough words to describe for you exactly how traumatized I am today. And as you read this story, I need to you keep in mind that you are reading the words of a completely crazed and terrified human being who doesn't know whom to turn to or where to go in this great time of horror and tragedy.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Graduation Nuggets of Wisdom

Graduation is happening across Palau right now. I got an invitation to a graduation for this coming Sunday, which I'm excited to go to because when they call the names I like to wait until the people sitting next to me cheer and then I stand up and cheer with them and yell things like "I knew you would pull through in the end, Tyler!" and then I watch the family wonder for the rest of ceremony how I know their kid and why I would think he was close to not pulling through.

Some of the church kids are graduating this week and we've been having various celebrations for them, which has gotten me thinking about my own graduations over the last ten years or so and how exciting and intimidating it is to move on to the next thing. And I decided that on Stranger today I would share with you some of the things I've learned since my own high school graduation, eleven years ago. Would love to hear some of your nuggets of wisdom, too: 

Words of Wisdom to the Children from a Sarcastic and Cranky 29-Year-Old Man

You can stick to a job or area of study and find ways to be successful or you can bounce around from menial task to menial task, dissatisfied with the pace of promotion. Either way, you’ll still be doing the same thing in 10 years.

People who lie to you are not your friends. Unless they are lying to you in order to play an amazing practical joke, in which case, they are your best friends.

Birthday Marathon

The photo above is how I always want to remember Daniel, long after he has died from food poisoning or from sticking his hand into a blender or something equally frustrating and totally avoidable.

Saturday was my 29th birthday. And it was the first one in a few years that did not begin with an absurdly long voice message from Cathie that has all of the following parts:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

Dear Strangers of the world. Tomorrow (May 18th) is my birthday. I can't believe I'm turning 65 again. I know you all want to send me cheesecake in the mail for my birthday, but when you did that for Christmas it never made it to Palau because the post office people couldn't help themselves and they ate it all. And who can blame them? So I'm going to have to ask you to refrain. Instead of that, the best birthday gift you could all give me is love.

Haha. Just kidding. Love is a stupid birthday gift.

The best gift you could give me is to please share your favorite Stranger post (or your least favorite--I don't really care) on Facebook, what the kids are calling the Twitter, Googlepigswatten, Pintube, or whatever is popular these days. Nothing would make me happier. Other than you all showing up in Palau to celebrate. But that would only make me happy for a few minutes and then it would get really stressful since I would feel the need to make sure everyone was happy since you would be my guests and you would probably overstay by two weeks and I wouldn't dare to tell you that you needed to leave.

I have a very extreme and stupid plan for my birthday morning, which I will share in probably embarrassing detail next week after I have recovered from it. Stay tuned.

For now, enjoy this week's pictures and distractions:

Daniel snorkeling. All of the following pictures are from the same snorkeling trip at a place called Big Drop Off.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Daniel Snaps

Last night Daniel snapped at one of the teenagers.

Remember last week when he got high and mighty after I went all Carrie on them? And Daniel was all like, "calm down Eli! Think of the children!" And then he lectured me in the car on the way home about patience? And then he asked me the next day what I had learned from that experience? Remember that?

That guy. That very same scolder and walking heckler snapped at one of the teenagers.

Daniel has a great relationship with all of the kids. But there is one with whom his interactions have always been slightly hostile. The animosity goes both ways but if you ask him, SHE STARTED IT!

She just turned 18 years old, so technically she's not a kid anymore. So back off angry moms. He didn't snap at a child. He's not like me. He defends the children.

This teenager is very smart and she comes from probably one of the most healthy and wonderful homes in all of Palau. She's also very well-liked and has way too many friends. So this isn't one of those troubled child things. She's a straight-A student and is about to head off to college in the U.S. at a great university where she'll probably gain the education she needs to take over the world one day.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I'm working on something for the court now that has just about ripped my brain out of my head and thrown it into a blender. You're welcome for the visual.

You all know that I have a job, right? I know that I don't talk about my work that much, but you know that daddy is involved in some important things between all of the ridiculousness, right? Sometimes I worry that you guys all just picture me crying in my Snuggie all day and demanding that Daniel compliment me. Guys. It can't ALWAYS be Saturday!

I work too. And the work that I do, while interesting and exciting, is sometimes really challenging.

My position is counsel for the Supreme Court of Palau. I spend most of my day helping the court resolve cases that have come to it on appeal, which means I am almost always writing and researching and writing some more and editing and writing and reading from books that are this thick [holding my hands very far apart]. Such is the life of a lawyer.

I do other stuff at work too, like meet with judges and attend hearings and give input on policy and procedure, etc. But mostly I'm just digging through cases that have been appealed and trying to figure out how the court should resolve them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Ants. Everywhere. And I know what you're thinking. We are NOT dirty people. And yes, I have been working out. Thanks for the kind thoughts. I'm totally blushing.

Our apartment is clean! Sure we leave crumbs out all over the floor and we don't put food away and we leave all of our windows and doors open most of the time, but otherwise, we are very clean and orderly. We cannot figure out for the life of us why we suddenly have so many ants in the apartment.

They started appearing about two weeks ago and they march in lines all over the place. Up walls. Across the ceiling. In the bathroom. In the kitchen. A few days ago I spent the better part of an hour killing them with my bare hands.

And I'm not going to lie; it was empowering. And I feel like I got a taste for it and now it's basically all I want to do all day.

In response to all of the ant-advocate hate mail that will be flooding my inbox tomorrow: I kill ants. And I'm proud of it. NOT ALL THINGS DESERVE TO LIVE. Take the television program "Glee" for example.

Monday, May 13, 2013


The other day I was running home from work: my ongoing attempt to combat adult onset diabetes. In my first four or five months in Palau I gained 25 pounds. And not the good kind of 25 pounds, whatever that is. I did the math and found out that if I kept gaining weight at that speed indefinitely, I would weigh over 1,000 pounds by the time I turned 40.

I was in pretty good shape last October. And then BAM. Rice. Fried foods. Ice cream. Laziness. ALL at the same time. For five months.

I tried to stop but every day the couch and ice cream were so friendly to me and were always like, "Eli, come hang out with us! We understand you!" And, well, I can't just say no to hospitality.

I knew things were bad by January because my pants were no longer buttoning up and I had to start letting my shirt hang over them so others couldn't see that they were open throughout the work day. But then one day I happened upon a scale and I weighed myself. And it was scary.

Guys, I know. I live on a tropical island in perpetual summer. I should have the body of an island god by now. Don't you think I know that? DON'T YOU THINK I EXPECTED THAT TO HAPPEN WITHOUT EFFORT WHEN I MOVED TO THE EQUATOR?!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

Heading into the weekend here in the land of coconuts, a good 16 or so hours ahead of most of you. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms. You keep this world afloat and Stranger loves you for it. Special wishes to Cathie. You may have intentionally embarrassed me in front of all of my friends every chance you could get throughout my entire adolescence, but you're still a pretty awesome mom. Probably the best one out there. I love you, and wish I wasn't a world away on this Mother's Day. Until I see you again, be careful, and try not to drive into the sun. xo

Daniel's first attempt at water color painting during "art night" this week. I think he's going places, that one!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Twenty Teenagers

Last night I had a very minor freak out in front of the church kids.

It was Wednesday night, which is our night to do activities with the hormonal teenagers. And I could tell that I was ultra-irritable before we even walked into the building because every time I had to move out of my way for a car that was entering the parking lot I could hear screaming inside my head.

That screaming sounded something like "DRIVE YOURSELF OFF OF A CLIFF!!" And then it included strings of morbid death wishes.

I was hungry. That's all. I was just hungry. I don't have a temper problem. Just got really hungry yesterday. And this made me irritable. And it was raining really hard. And it had been a long day at the office. AND I'M ONLY HUMAN GUYS.

Daniel made me snack on something before the activity began and told me he needed me to be on my best behavior. All this because I was responsible and admitted in the car that I was feeling cranky.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

This is Very Strange

I've been sort of tired this week. Not really sure why. Jet lag? It's been 8 or 9 days so it seems like I should be pretty over that by now.

Last night I had a quiet night in. After cooking dinner I was just sitting in the front room writing, listening to some nice music, and enjoying the sunset over the bay. And sometime during that, I fell asleep.

I had a bunch of dreams. All of them bizarre. And none of them made much sense. But in the dreams I caught distorted glimpses of my life. Wandering through a fantasy-like version of Salt Lake City. Visiting friends who were either much older or much younger than they have ever been during the course of my knowing them. Sitting in a musty bookstore in Moscow Russia while the sounds of a tropical typhoon raged on outside.

And then hundreds of passing faces, including those I've known long and well, those I've known briefly and shallowly, and those I've known briefly but deeply. I turned corners in a maze and saw these faces as I did. And I was so aware that which turns I made determined which faces I saw. But I didn't know what any of the turns meant so I just made my decisions at random.

Mother Hen

Monday was a holiday in Palau so we took the day to go diving with a group of friends even though there are animals under water. This is one of those peer pressure things where I'm basically FORCED to agree to go because I'm all thinking that I don't want to go diving ever again and then someone's like, "Eli, we're going diving on Monday. You should come if you want." And then I'm all, "OK COUNT ME IN!!! WHAT CAN I BRING!?! LET'S GO TWICE!!!"

Then Daniel has to go too because the next time I see him I'm all, "we're going diving on Monday" and then when he tries to say anything I just scream over his voice repeatedly until he gives up.

So on Monday we went diving.

Diving was fine, besides the animals and being under water and stuff. And we did see some giant mantas that if you catch me in a very honest mood I might admit were pretty cool. But then later if you try to repeat what I said to other people I will immediately interject with totally slanderous gossip about you in retaliation. So just beware.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Letter to the Married People

Dear Well-Meaning Married Friends,

I’m writing a letter today on behalf of all single people everywhere, past and present. The board of directors for the Singles Association of the World (SAW) got together and asked me to be the voice of the entire community to articulate an important message to you today.

First, we want to say that we love you. But there are some things we really need to bring to your attention. Because you don’t seem to realize what you’re doing. And sometimes what you’re doing is obnoxious. And we know that you don’t want to be obnoxious so we’re ready to be open with you and help you stop the behavior. So below, we discuss some of things that you could start working on.

We would like for you to please stop pitying us. We are all single for different reasons. Some of us are insanely more happy than some of you. Some of us are insanely more miserable than some of you.  Some of our happiness and some of our misery may be related to our relationship status, and some of it may be wholly separate from it. The point is, your life is not automatically better than ours simply because you’re married and we’re not. And we find it offensive when you act like you believe otherwise.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Pictures & Weekly Distractions

We've reached the end of my first week back in the land of coconuts. It's been a nice one, and my jet-lag is slowly wearing off so you're running out of optimal time to ask me for money and favors.

You guys have all been incredibly angry with me for a couple of weeks because I skipped the Friday pictures and distractions posts while I was in the U.S. I received countless death threats and packages of chicken talons with notes scrawled in blood. I get it. You rely on Friday's distractions to get you through the day. I'm sorry! I WAS GOING THROUGH SOME HARD TIMES, OK!? I'm back in Palau now and my emotional state is in a much better place, so I'm ready to get back on schedule.

And with that, I leave you with pictures Cathie took while I was home and some ridiculous distractions. Happy weekend, Strangers.

With 2 of my adorable nieces. Note: the one on the right despises me.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Emailing Kaylee

Yesterday I got the following email from my very dramatic 9-year-old niece Kaylee, the oldest daughter of my sister, Krisanda:

Dear Eli,

This is Kaylee. We put our for sale sign up and I don't know how to feel. It is pretty scary but I am trying my hardest to go along with it but it seems really hard. Who knows what will become of my life. Well I have to go but please respond and help me out and tell me how you feel about it.




Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Mobile Spider

When we first got to Palau, we noticed a gigantic spider perched in the center of a large web near the stairs leading to our apartment. The spider was high above even Daniel's freakishly circus-level reach.

Daniel hates spiders, like any good and decent person does. His fear of them I would classify as "above average," however.

I have a very average fear of spiders. But because of my understanding of the true and evil purpose of snakes, an understanding that some also call a "fear," I am able to show some empathy for Daniel's feelings on the matter.

Hear that, Daniel? EMPATHY. It means not trying to force Eli to get closer to the most venomous snake in the world because "it looks cool."

Ugh. Why do I bother? He doesn't read Stranger anyway.