Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Next Saturday is the part of Christmas I hate most.
I love my wife, I love her immediate family, I even like some of her aunts, uncles, and cousins. But there is one branch of the family I just can’t stand to be around… The Redneck Branch.
Every year I pray that we won’t be able to go to the “Redneck Christmas Party.” It’s not that it’s a dull party by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just that they are so insufferably false, loud, drunk, and… all that.
This is the branch of the family that believes in the healing power of magnets (which they sell) and is going to get rich, any day now, by selling Amway, flipping houses, pimping financial aid to students, selling noni juice, and by following every other convoluted “get rich quick scheme” they can find on late night infomercials. The fact that they’ve been doing this for 30 years and are still dirt poor not withstanding.
I remember one year, probably my first year after marrying my wife, sitting in the living room, feeling totally out of place (I guess that's because I’m not a Nascar fan, ie. I don’t belong) talking to one of them, (they all look the same to me) and telling them that, yes, I was a student. They must communicate via redneck radar or something because the next thing I know, I was standing in the den, and my wife’s uncle is trying to sell me a list of places to go for financial aid. I don’t remember the price for this photocopied list, but I remember that I would have needed financial aid just to cover the price of the paper. I was new to the family (2 months) so I didn’t want to tell him a flat "no," or even a "hell no," but at the same time I wanted to tell him exactly where he could shove his list. So I was as nice as I could be, and thanked him for his concern about our financial future, but that I was fine, financially, for the time being. I don’t think that my refusal went over very well, because I’ve been an outcast ever since… and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Even though I’m a Mormon, I’m not apposed to drinking at Christmas Parties. It’s the holidays; imbibe in some holiday cheer if you think you need to. Just because I choose not to, and teach my children that Jesus gets sad when you drink alcohol, and I tend make fun of you when you’re passed out on the floor, should in no way infringe on your right to get smashed in celebration of the saviors birth… really g’head. Just keep it low-key if you don’t mind. Better yet, why don’t you just step into the closet with that fifth of Jack… there’s a good little alcoholic.
There has always been drinking at my family parties. It’s just that they do keep it in the background. Wine, in stemware is the drug of choice for my side of the family. For the Rednecks… nothing but Bud, in the can, will do. I did get a little annoyed when they started stashing the empties on the kid’s table, but other than that, they were pretty in yer face about it. I’ve never smelled a bar before, but I’m pretty sure that the smell from the kid’s table was the closest thing to it. I’ll tell you, nothing goes better with green Jell-O and Little Smokeys than the smell of a stale beer can. Mmmmm-Mmm.
My wife’s brother gave up on them a long time ago. In fact, I don’t remember ever seeing him or his family there... ever. Well, maybe the first year I was in the family, but never after that. It’s just that my wife is a far nicer person than her brother or I am. That’s one of the things that I love about her, but it also means that I have to endure the rednecks for 3 whole hours of my life every year. Is that fair? 3 hours of my life wasted so that my wife can feel good about herself?
So, I wonder what they have in store for us this year? I wonder how many of them have pierced their nipples, or gotten a new tattoo to show the family. I wonder how many of them have added grandchildren, of whom, the identity of the father (or mother) is still in question.
(You think I’m joking… I’m not!)
I just pray that this year my good lady wife will finally have enough and calls it quits. That she gives up on the rednecks and their base and disgusting ways. That this year they finally go to far… oh yes… I’m talking fights, brawls, and greased pigs.
Maybe I can start it… I can see it now. One of them reaches into the pile of white elephant gifts and pulls out a Jeff Gordon action figure… Ya, I don't know who he is either... but they sure do hate him...
Think that'll work?
No... me neither...
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I have always loved the Terminator series of movies. Admittedly, I liked the first one the best, but the other two had their moments as well. I always thought that the franchise would have been helped by a movie based in the future, where John Connor was an old man, and leader of the human resistance forces. That would have been cool.
So now they’ve come up with “The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”
This thing has a couple of things going for it, in my mind.
First, it’s from the Terminator series… how cool is that?
Second, it has Summer Glau in it. For those of you familiar with “Firefly” and “Serenity”… really… need I say more? For those of you who are not familiar with the cancelled TV series “Firefly,” get over to Target and pick up a copy. The whole series will run you less than $20.00 and it’s worth every cent. If you’re not familiar with the movie “Serenity” which was based on the series… well, pick up a copy of the movie, while you’re getting your copy of the series. Summer plays a character named “River.”
Watch the series first. It should only take about 15 hours (with food and potty breaks… less if you hold it)
There is one thing that concerns me about “The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”
It’s on FOX; The network that only keeps reality programming. They only gave “Drive” 3 episodes before dropping the axe, and we don’t want to talk about what they did to “Firefly.”
So… “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” might only last long enough for us to see the pilot. So it goes…
Thank you for this short Geek moment.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
I can’t say that I’m a fan of Evel Knievel, I can’t say that I looked up to him, or that he is one of my heroes. But I think that part of my childhood died last Friday when Evel did.
I was a typical kid in the 70’s. I was out side on most days in the summer, riding my Huffy around the neighborhood, and especially riding it in “The Pit.”
My neighborhood skirted an old gravel pit. It was fenced off and had No Trespassing signs all around it, but that didn’t stop us at all, because the fence had openings. I don’t know who put the openings in the fence, and it really doesn’t matter, because they were big enough to ride my Huffy, BMX bike through. The Pit had trails that you could ride on, as fast as you could pump your legs.
We’d build jumps on those trails, sometimes out of wood and cinder blocks, but usually out of dirt just piled up across the trail. In the Pit we were all Evel Knievel, and we’d jump those heavy bikes just as far as we could. The reality was that we would only get a couple of feet, but in our minds we were jumping cars, trucks… what ever. We were dreamers and we could do anything that Evel could do.
When ever we heard that he was going to be on the Wide World of Sports, we’d watch the old black and white TV in the living room with the green carpet, hoping that the rabbit ears would stay where we'd put them so that the picture was somewhat clear.
Howard Cosell would talk about the jump; Cars, Semi-trucks, whatever Evel happened to be jumping that day. And then out he would come on his Harley, cape flapping in the wind as he did a wheely from one end of the stadium to the other, and then back.
He’d speed through the length of the jump, and then drive up the launch ramp, and stand at the top, looking like Elvis on a motorcycle. He was that cool.
We’d watch as he did that a couple of more times, and then without warning, he’d speed to the ramp and then… breathless… we would watch him fly that heavy motorcycle over the cars, wondering if he was going to stick the landing, almost hoping that he wouldn’t. No person on TV is real to a 7-year-old. But he’d almost always stick the landing, and we would breath again.
I guess, to me at the age of 7, he was a hero. He was like a real-life super hero from the comic books that I’d look at.
I guess a part of that little boy innocence died in me on the day that Evel Knievel could no longer cheat death.
God Speed, Evel.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I’m afraid of going back to school.
I want to, I really do, but I’m afraid.
I’m afraid of going back to school!
I've always figured that I'd have a graduate degree of some kind. When I was a little kid, it was never a question to me that I was going to be an archaeologist. That was the plan. And while I was in California, that plan was a strong one. I was going to come home to Utah, finish an Associate of Science degree I had started and then head over to the U of U as an Anthropology major. I had even started taking some anthropology classes at the junior college I was at in preparation.
But then I met my wife, and I got a job, and life started happening… and I finished my A.S. degree and started having kids.
In short, my priorities changed. I got scared that I couldn’t feed a family with a degree in anthropology. And so, I gave up that dream for a better one.
I did eventually go back to school and got a B.A. in English Lit. My intention was to get a teaching certificate so that I could teach High School English. But… here comes life again… while I was working toward that goal, I changed jobs. I was now making more than a starting teacher. So I changed my major to straight English and graduated.
I work with highly educated people… Engineers.
Most of them have their Masters or are working toward it. And on my wall is my degree… in English. It’s a joke in the office… one of the new engineers thought that it was a joke that I had it up on my wall. “Oh,” he said, “that’s for real?”
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
November 6? Are you sure? I could swear that it’s December 6 and that somehow, don’t ask me how it's possible, but somehow I missed the entire month of November. That’s right, no crisp fall days, no Thanksgiving, no leaves changing… none of that.
November 6th? How is that possible, when just today, I turned on the radio and out came:
“It’s the hap-happiest season of all…”
Freakin’ Christmas Music!?! Are you Freakin’ Kidding me?
(I’m a Mormon and a Scout Master and so I can’t use the holy mother of dirty words… but oh, do I want to!)
Did I fall down a Freakin’ worm hole and land in Freakin’ Christmas Hell!?!
Now, I’ve accepted the fact that retailers keep Christmas items in their seasonal aisles… pretty much year around. Just incase you need an imported Bavarian crystal snowman for your yard in… say… June.
I could happen… Right?
So what’s the story? Why is it I have to hear Christmas songs in November? I realize that there aren’t a whole lot of Thanksgiving songs out there, but… I’d take Kenny G over the cheese of Christmas songs a month early.
Maybe we need a law?
“The Macy’s Law.” Which will state… in essence… “There shall be no Christmas music or displays in the airways or in retail stores until Santa Claus is seen in the Macy’s parade, occurring on the morning of the Friday following Thanksgiving. Violators shall be boiled in their own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through their heart.”
Ugh… that wouldn’t work. They’d just move Thanksgiving to August.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Last night was not the fun kind of scared.
We had just gotten home from a family Halloween party where the kids laughed and played games and danced. It was a lot of fun. But, we all probably had just a little to much candy, cookies, cake, and what not, because we all went to bed with bellyaches.
I slept pretty well until 12:30am when I awoke to hear my youngest daughter, Ally, whimpering in bed. Her room is next to ours. I’m not sure if I’m just a really light sleeper, or if I’m just keyed to certain sounds, but I woke up. Then she called my name, “Daddy!” So I got up. Before I even reached the door of my room she lets out a scream that could have woke the dead. Horrible, blood curdling scream of absolute terror, the kind of scream you hear just before the slasher jumps from the dark shadows in those movies.
So now I’m running and I find her standing in her bed, up against the wall staring at her open closet door.
I don’t need to tell you that my “fight or flight” mechanism is now pumping copious amounts of adrenalin into my system. So I pick her up and she clings to my neck and is just shaking. So I close her closet door, and calm her down. We talk for a few minutes and sing a primary (Sunday school) song and I put her back in bed with her “pinky bear.” Then, I go back to bed, even though I know that I ain’t gonna get back to sleep. That scream shook me. A few minutes later, she calls my name again and I go in to get her. This time she wont let go of my neck, so I took her into bed with my wife and I. At some point, she sits bolt upright and points to the door of our room, she’s clearly scared and said, “there he is!”
“There who is?” asks my wife.
“Evil Chase!” Ally says, and her hand is moving to follow what ever it is she is seeing and is apparently moving around our room. At this point I’m getting scared. The core scared that I was talking about. So I turn on my bedside lamp and she calms down because what ever it is she was seeing is now gone with the light.
I should explain at this point, I have a nephew named Chase. He’s a cute little guy who is about a year younger than Ally. They had been playing together at our family party, she was Dorothy, and he was a Power Ranger. So I’m sure that she had had a nightmare about “Evil Chase,” the memories of which has followed her into my room.
Anyway, we said a prayer, and she calmed down, and at about 2:30 she finally fell asleep and I was able to carry her back to her room where she slept the rest of the night. But I will never forget the feeling of last night, where even I, “the big strong Daddy, fearless defender of the home” was afraid of the dark and what lurks in it.
I feel that I must explain that I do not, in anyway believe in ghosts, shadow people, aliens, alternate dimensions, omniversal quanta, vampires, werewolves, or the boogieman. But I think, that since I’m an Elder in our church, and since tonight is Family night, we will probably be rededicating our home. I think that at least I may sleep better.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I’m reading Dracula, by Bram Stoker for the fifth time because the book club I belong to thought that it would be a good read for Halloween. Which it is. It’s a great book that everyone should read it at least once, because it’s brilliant… but… my reader’s block rages on. I just can’t get into it.
I thought that if I read it with a purpose, with a goal in mind, maybe I would be able to overcome my little problem. So I started reading, and taking note of all the references to “thirst,” “vein,” “heart,” and “blood,” and then noting the context in which they occur. Boring you say? Not so much. I really enjoy doing readings like that. Especially with a book I’ve read several times.
So what is it about Vampires that fascinate so many people? I think that it’s because the vampire is an intelligent monster. Usually good looking and sexy, strong and ruthless, but capable of being vulnerable. They are not the mindless killers from the slasher films featuring Jason, Freddy and that ilk. There is something… human…. about them. And maybe that’s what we like about them.
Take, for instance, Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He was one of the most heartless killers in Europe before he was cursed by having his soul given back. I found him to be dark and brooding, and not in a good way. My wife… she just thought he was hot.
I liked Spike, form the same series. Here’s a vampire I could get behind. Spike saw the world as a giant Happy Meal, full of juicy people nuggets, but he fell in love with the slayer, and that just pissed him off. What a study in duality.
Then there’s Louis from Interview with a Vampire. (the book… not that crappy movie). He so wanted to be human again, so wanted to be out from under Lastat’s thumb, and to be free from his curse. Refusing to take humans by drinking the blood of animals to quench his thirst.
I love that!
There are so many others… Blade, The death dealer chick from Underworld, the Twilight books, Amy, Evil, and Jerry from Fright Night, (I have always thought that Amy was Hot when she got her vamp on), and who can forget the Lost Boys. I could go on and on. But that would be boring.
So it’s Halloween, and if you would like, be a vampire. But do me a favor, don’t dress like Bella, paint your face white, slip in some of those cheep glow in the dark fangs, wear a plastic cape, or have blood dripping from the corners of your mouth… that’s just cheesy. Do it right. Be yourself… as you would be if you were just bitten. That’s the fun of being a vamp.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I’ll give any book 100 pages, and if the author has failed to intrigue me enough to read page 101 then I put it on the shelf to maybe be picked up at a later date.
So… now I am finding myself in a book wasteland with no idea what I want to read next.
Being that it is Halloween, I thought that I might like to read some Poe. But after reading the first page of Mask of the Red Death …ugh… I just cant take any Victorian language right now.
I thought that some CyberPunk would be a good change to the Ender’s Game series I had just finished. (I read most of the “Shadow” series). So I picked up a collection of Short Stories by Bruce Sterling. I read most of them. The nice thing about Short Story collections is that if one story isn’t working for you… go on to the next one. But although I like Sterling… I just wasn’t in the mood.
So what’s wrong with me? I’m an English Major for crying out loud. I love books! I don’t think that there has been a time in the last 10 years that I haven’t had a book sitting in my bag, ‘til now. If you were to open up my book bag (it’s a very nice one by the way. A brown canvas courier bag, by U.S. Luggage) you would find… no books. Well, that’s not true. You’d find a Grammar Mechanics book and a GRE prep course that I’m trying to ignore. But other than that… no books.
It’s not that I don’t have access to books. I have books, my very own library in fact. It’s not the greatest library in the world, but it’s pretty good.
You know how some writers get writer’s block, and they have to do something drastic to get going again. I read in one of Stephen King’s books, On Writing, where he was talking about writing The Stand. That about half way through, he got writer’s block so badly that he literally could not write another word. This lasted for weeks. So he put a bomb in the closet, killed fully half of his characters, which broke his block, and he was able to finish a pretty good book. Maybe I have reader’s block.
So what drastic thing do I need to do in order to break my block? Hummmmm…
I know! Jane Austen! Reading her work would be a kin to putting a bomb in my head. It’ll work… it has to work.
Or… I can listen to the bookslut ... I know, sound's bad, but this chick knows books.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
50 years ago today the space race began with a basketball size satellite named Sputnik that sent waves of terror through the hearts of Americans. 12 years later we would win the space race when Neal Armstrong jumped down the ladder of his lunar expedition module and misquoted the words he had planned on saying: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
So what has NASA done since then? Well, the answer to that is really very simple (and this is just my opinion, boys and girls) NASA hasn’t done a whole hell of a lot.
Well, they did manage to kill two shuttle crews. And for what? To keep a shuttle that is 20 years out of date flying? I mean come on! In 12 years (1957 to 1969) we went from no space program at all to landing on the moon. The first shuttle launch, Columbia (STS-1) happened April 12, 1981. I remember watching it on television. It was an exciting day. There were promises of monthly shuttle missions, to do wacky new things in space. That was… (let me do the math here)… 26 and a half years ago, and still we only get a couple of launches off every year. And, I have to be honest here, they have done some good things. They were able to fix the Hubble Space Telescope, and… ummm… they… well… they built that giant PR factory in space… what do they call it? The ISS. Ya, that’s one big pile of junk… I mean… big accomplishment… ya.
People have always been explorers. We have always wanted to push the boundaries of our world. And our world is getting smaller and smaller everyday. I can send pictures and files to people on the other side of the world with a push of a button. There was a time when an expedition across the Atlantic Ocean was looked upon like we look at a trip to Mars. We need to explore and NASA is holding us back. I’m no rocket scientist, but it can’t be as hard as they’re making it. There are people like Dr. Robert Zubrin of the Mars society, who have viable ideas to get us to Mars, but NASA just won’t listen.
12 years from Earth bound to the Moon. There is no reason why we couldn’t do that again. Here are my recommendations to NASA
- NASA needs to regain their vision.
- Ground those antique shuttles before they get someone else killed.
- Abandon the ISS and let it fall into the ocean.
- Start listening to the Mars Society and other smart folk like that.
- Get with the POTUS and set a 10-year plan. They did the moon in the 60’s with slide rules… I think that we can do Mars in less time with what we have today.
- If international help is needed… do it. Get with the Brits, the Japanese, the French… (well, maybe not the French), the Russians and divide up the work.
- Pick a crew, and a back-up crew and get it done.
50 years ago, today, the space race began and ushered in a new age. The universe changed forever that day. We were no longer bound to the Earth, and for a short time we were able to dream of where we would be going… and then… I don’t know why, but we crawled inside our earthbound prison and shut the door. We were able to look out though the bars, but knowing that we will never leave, we gave up.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
For some reason, his class goes to a different teacher for science. I’m not really sure why they do that to 2nd graders, but… that’s the deal. Anyway, he was sitting next to his friend Chris and one of them let loose with a fart. Now we’re talking about little boys here and they started to giggle.
Not a big shocker. I mean, I know men pushing the high side of 30 who take great pride in their flatulence. And yes, I’ve heard a few of them giggle afterward. So for a couple of 8-year-olds to get the giggles after a fart is not surprising to me. Well, it was in class during a lesson, and the teacher asked them to stop, and they did… as best they could.
You know, sometimes, once you get the giggles you just gotta let ‘em play out ‘til their done. They just can’t be stopped, and as a result, my wife got a call from the teacher. So, when I got home, my boy was writing a letter of apology to his science teacher.
Then as we were talking, come to find out that some kid punched him in the belly while they were waiting for the bus.
My son is a lot like me. Tender hearted and more on the flight side of fight. So it kind of scared him that some little punk would actually hit him for a place in line.
So then… after all of this… the coup-de-grace of his day came on the Xbox 360. Oh ya, we’re talking about the “Red Ring of Death.” It wasn’t his fault, the thing had been acting up over the last couple of weeks and I was expecting it. But it had to go south on one of his worst days. I felt bad for him, so I put my arm around him and told him that all was well and that the 360 is under warranty and it’d be fixed in a couple of weeks. That is, it’ll be fixed if the heavily accented customer service rep got all of my info typed in correctly. Ya… like her name was really Janet. And the red ring just HAD to show up on the day Halo3 was released. Uggh! That, my friends is a whole other blog topic.
I hope that his day is going better, today. I love that kid.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Anyway, I preparation for that day of days, I decided to find out what kind of pirate I really am. Here’s what I found…
You are The Quartermaster
You, me hearty, are a man or woman of action! And what action it is! Gruesome,
awful, delightful action. You mete out punishment to friend and foe alike
– well, mostly to foe, because your burning inner rage isn’t
likely to draw you a whole lot of the former. Still, though you may be
what today is called “high maintenance” and in the past was
called “bat-shit crazy,” the crew likes to have you around
because in a pinch your maniacal combat prowess may be the only thing
that saves them from Jack Ketch. When not in a pinch, the rest of the
crew will goad you into berserker mode because it’s just kind of
fun to watch. So you provide a double service – doling out discipline
What's Yer Inner Pirate?
brought to you by The Official Talk Like A Pirate Web Site. Arrrrr!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
It was Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. If you’ve never read it, it’s one that you should consider.
At one point a character named Jubal Harshaw talks about a sculpture by Auguste Rodin called Fallen Caryatid with Stone.
This poor little caryatid has fallen under the load. She's a good girl---look at
her face. Serious, unhappy at her failure, not blaming anyone, not even the
gods...and still trying to shoulder her load, after she's crumpled under it.
But she's more than just good art denouncing bad art; she's a symbol for
every woman who ever shouldered a load too heavy. But not alone women---this
symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining
fortitude until they crumpled under their loads. It's courage...and victory.
Victory in defeat, there is none higher. She didn't give up...she's still
trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her...she's all the unsung heroes
who couldn't make it but never quit.
I don’t know art. I can look at a sculpture or a painting all day long and never come up with an interpretation that is more than, “well isn’t that lovely,” or “I don’t get it.” But books I get. I rely on books and other people to give me the meaning of art. In this small, controversial book of SciFi is the meaning of life, of one form or another.
We all have a load to shoulder, and even if we crumple under it’s load, we still have to try. Henry David Thoreau in his book Walden said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” I don’t see despair in the Fallen Caryatid, I see strength. Building on what Heinlein said, maybe we should give up our desperation for some of the strength we need to take our various loads and shoulder them once more.
Maybe that’s what true strength is. To throw down our various loads, to give up and to say that the burden is too much, well that might be the definition of true cowardice.
I don’t know… I’m just an old English major trying to shoulder my loads as best I can.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Science without religion is lame.
Religion without science is blind.
Monday, July 30, 2007
But… Let me back up… a bit.
When I was a much younger man, before I was married even, I used to go to a laser light show at the Hansen Planetarium. “Laser Floyd” it was called. Weekends at midnight, freaks from all around the Salt Lake Valley would gather at this ancient building to trip the light fantastic. Yes… many of them, I’m sure, were on some kind of enhancement just to make the light just a little more… trippy. I was not one of them, by the way.
It was great to hear music that I love, and see the laser effects, and just to let my mind go. It’s one of those memories from back then that I really like and really miss.
The Hansen Planetarium is gone now, replaced by a much more modern, if empty, Clark Planetarium. I say empty because there is not much in it except for a few little displays and a couple of theaters. I was a little disappointed by it until I saw that on Friday night, 11:00pm they were playing “Dark Side of the Moon” laser and light show.
So I went with my wife and my two oldest daughters.
That was awesome!
The effects that they can do now verses 20 years ago, makes the old show seem really cheesy and… well… old. My daughters, both of them Hanna Montana, and country music fans, were not really impressed, and spent most of the show with their hands over their ears and their eyes shut. What ya gonna do? I should ground them both, and have them listen to nothing but Floyd for a week.
Probably wouldn’t work.
Well, now that I know that it’s there, I expect to spend a few extra Friday nights there, tripping under the laser light.
Join me some night…
I’ll see you on the Dark Side of the Moon.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Here’s your chance to read the whole thing. Look at the meanings and the imagery that Francis Scott Key put into the poem. Some would say that it has nothing to do with todays situations or the current state of our nation. But I think that they are wrong.
I believe that our situation today is far worse that that of the war of 1812, when the poem was written. For not only are we threatened by the world powers and Terrorists, but we are threatened by the week leadership we have in Washington (And I’m not just talking about our “so called” president, but the members of congress as well… both sides of the aisle) and we are threatened by out own lazyness and complicity, and we are threatened by the media around us. It is a sad time in our history, and I wonder sometimes if our republic can withstand the storm.
Read the poem and see what you think.
O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
Have a safe 4th of July. Take some time to think about what this day really means. It’s not Beer, Nascar, hotdogs, or Chevrolet. Don’t focus on your rights and entitlements, but on your responsibilities as a citizen of this nation. I don’t care if you’re a Red Stater or a Blue Stater, Liberal or Conservative, think about what this nation has given you, and then ask yourself… what am I willing to do to keep it.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Case in point, I work for a great small company, with great people. We’re all considerate of each other, we get along, I would even go so far as to say that most of the people at work, I consider friends. A few years ago, the company bought a small office building, with a small tenant space, and for the first couple of years we rented to a small civil engineering company. They shared our values; we had respect for one another. We got to know quite a few of the people over there. Then, they got a bit large for the space, and bought a building of their own.
Now, we’re renting to a call center. It’s hell. The company has a 70% per day turn over rate. The people they hire are rude, they’re dirty, and they smoke like chimneys. When I walk outside to go to my car, for lunch or to go home… there they are, gathered around the building’s door, in a cloud of smoke, looking and acting like thugs.
My boss is counting the days until their lease (1 year) runs out and he can kick them to the curb.
I could put up with the thugery if it weren’t for the smoke. You see, I’m an asthmatic. Before their coming, I would use my inhaler maybe once every other week… now it’s daily. My office is directly above them and the smell is drifting up through the floors. It’s not like we can move my office to another part of the building because when we built the office building, my office was designed with special cable runs and wiring for large format plotting and computer systems. So to try to move my work area would be a major undertaking.
Boy, I’m complaining a lot today aren’t I.
We’ve all been trying to come up with a way to subtly let them all know that they stink, and that we would like them to go away.
So far we have:
Buy a butt-load of Glade plug-ins and fill every outlet in their space. We can double them up it if we get the ones with the extra outlet.
We could make a big sign informing them of their offensive odor. Something subtle. It could say… “TAKE A BATH YOU FREAKS!” Subtle enough?
We could make a few garlands out of those pine-tree air fresheners, and “deck the halls” with them.
Encapsulate them in plastic.
I guess I’ll have to stock up on inhalers and wait until their lease runs out. How long do they have? 9 months and 11 days?
Friday, June 01, 2007
Last night they were talking about Human-Alien Gray hybrids and some Yo-Yo (I shouldn’t be so judgmental, I’m sure that he is a very nice, if a bit confused, gentleman… na, he was a yo-yo) anyway, this yo-yo calls up and says that the human-gray hybrid picture they had up on some website looked just like his daughter. Now, he did have a strong southern accent, and he could be telling the truth… inbreeding and all. But no… When George asked him where his daughter was, the guy replied that she was on the ship or was with “Them.” By then I was laughing so hard that I was endangering myself and others, since I was driving at the time, so I changed the station.
Where do these people come from? And do they really believe what they’re saying?
I believe in life on other planets. I believe in intelligent life on other planets. The universe is way to big with way to many star systems to be otherwise. I just can’t believe that we are the only intelligent life in the universe.
(Intelligent, meaning that we have the capacity for rational and individual thought… not that we use or act upon our intelligence.)
But… my belief stops there. I mean the universe is a big place. How did Douglas Adams put it in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ?
“Space… is big. Really big. You won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-boggling big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
So, with space being so vast, I just don’t think that it’s possible to get from one inhabited world to another, in another star system, inside of a single lifetime. But let’s say it is possible, and a super intelligent race of beings made a craft capable of crossing that much vasty nothingness. So they come to Earth, find out that there is a race of intelligent beings on this planet, hell bent on killing each other, and so to let us know that they are watching us… they leave graffiti in our food supply?
And that makes sense?
Folks… There are no “aliens” circling Earth. No one has ever been abducted and probed or otherwise been misused by E.T. They don’t mutilate cattle and they don’t make crop circles. For all intents and purposes, because of the vastness of space, we are alone in the universe… get used to it. Because of that fact, because we are alone… maybe we should start being a little nicer to each other.
Just a thought…
But then… The Yo-Yo’s are so fun to listen to on the radio…
I guess I have a long way to go.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
It seems that 100 years ago, a sport called letterboxing was all the rage in England. Letter boxing consisted of people placing a box somewhere that contained a logbook and custom designed rubber stamp. Clues would be posted at letterboxing clubs. The letterboxers would then head out with a logbook, a specially designed rubber stamp of their own, and an inkpad. When they found the letterbox, they would put their stamp in the boxes log, and then stamp their logbook with the boxes stamp. Sound familiar? The technology has changed, but the sport really hasn’t.
Like I said, I’ve been registered as a cacher for a few years now, but my find count is really low. The reason… No GPS receiver. I was trying to find the cache sites with map and compass only. And I found… one… that way. Ya, only one.
I have a GPS now, and my count has gone up 400% in the last couple of weeks.
So now you’re asking yourself… so what’s the big deal? You punch some coordinates into your GPS unit and follow the arrow to a box full of McToys? That doesn’t sound like much fun. Well… sometimes it is just a box full of McToys (you know… the junk you get in Happy Meals) and sometimes it’s just a logbook, and sometimes it’s a history lesson about what used to be there. And sometimes it’s a great view. Lately, my finds have been MicroCaches. These are tiny little caches, about the size of a button, usually magnetic, and stuck to light poles, or benches, or whatever in parks and parking lots and the like. I’ve found two MicroCaches, and could not find two others. How do you know when you’ve found one? Well, once you find it, you can unscrew the top and pull out a tiny scroll of paper (that’s the log book) and sign your name to it. I hate these things… but then, I love the search…so I guess it’s kind of a love/hate thing.
I have a plan to place a geocache at Silver Moccasin this year up at Camp Travis. It’ll be the staff site. I’ll put one logbook in for SM staffs (past, present, and future) and then one logbook for everyday cachers. I’ll probably toss in some patches, pictures and totems as well. It’ll be a nice tribute to a program that has dominated my life for the past 4 years, and has such great potential for changing the lives of young men. To tell you true, it was Jared (our Senior Patrol Leader from last year) that gave me the idea. He’s moved on to bigger and better things, but I still think that it’s a good idea.
There is one thing that bothers me. I teach orienteering to youth groups on occasion. One time I taught a mountaineering club. That was scary, because, all I know about the subject, is what I learned when I was a scout, oh so long ago. I know how to orient a map, triangulate a position, hold a bearing, and read the contours on a topo. I’ve never taken a class, or anything. It’s a subject I like, so I’ve taught myself. So I figured that they (the mountaineers) would see through my lack of technical knowledge and kick me out. But there I was in front of a group of mountaineers, teaching away, and slowly realizing that these guys had no idea how to use a compass, and many of them could not read a map, since they all had very expensive GPS units. Is map reading going the way of the dinosaur? What do these guys do if their batteries run out, while they’re off trail? I’ll tell you what… they wait for some map reading freak like me to come and rescue their butts… that’s what.
So, as much as I love Geocaching with a GPS unit and love the technology, I think that way to many people have no idea what they’re really doing or where they are in the great outdoors.
But really, don’t be a muggle, try out Geocaching… it’s fun.
Friday, May 04, 2007
No, Stanley Kubrick did not write it, he only made a pretty poor film out of a really ingenious book.
Anyway… Last night I read a passage that I really had to think about. The passage is this:
‘Of course it was horrible,’ smiled Dr Branom. ‘Violence is a very horrible thing. That’s what you’re learning now. Your body is learning it.’
‘But,’ I said, ‘I don’t understand. I don’t understand about feeling sick like I did. I never used to feel sick before. I used to feel like the opposite. I mean, doing it or watching it I used to feel real horrorshow (good or well). I just don’t understand why or how or what – ‘
‘Life is a very wonderful thing,’ said Dr Branom in a like very holy goloss (voice). ‘The processes of life, the make-up of the human organism, who can fully understand these miracles? Dr Brodsky is, of course, a remarkable man. What is happening to you now is what should happen to any normal healthy human organism contemplating the actions of the forces of evil, the workings of the principle of destruction. You are being made sane, you are being made healthy.’
And then in the margin I wrote this:
Only God can make a soul and give it a conscience. Therefore only God can make a Man. All man can do is make a soulless Clockwork Orange. An automaton. Soulless, Godless, Spiritless… unable to do wrong, but also unable to love or foster the same. Is the Clockwork really a man?
In this case, and in the case of the book (read it if you haven’t yet) an “Orange” refers to the Malay word in Orangutan. Meaning something like “people of the forest,” and so Orange comes from Orang meaning Man. A Clockwork Man = a robot.
So, I guess what I’m saying that I'm getting from this book so far is that… we can teach our children to love, to obey, to be courteous, and to love God… but at some point we have to let them go and allow them to make their own choice, because it is that agency that makes us truly… human.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
The writer of Slaughterhouse V and numerous others has left us, and probably in his opinion, not a day to soon.
But he left us his words.
In his last book, A Man Without a Country, he lamented the fact that the cigarette companies let him down by allowing him to live long enough to see the three most powerful men in the world be named Bush, Dick, and Colon.
He was a humanist and a religious skeptic. I wonder if he still is.
Mr. Vonnegut… you will be missed.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
And then this morning… I find this…
Al Gore and Global warming can kiss my back-side!
Saturday, March 24, 2007
I walked into a gaming store the other day, and after perusing the different gaming books and systems, I bought a set of dice. For those of you who aren’t gamers, a “set of dice” is a set of 7 different dice (a 20 sided, a 12 sided, two 10 sided, an 8 sided, a 6 sided, and a 4 sided). And I got them for no other reason than to sit on my desk and remind me of the old days.
Believe me, I don’t want to be a teenager again. Holy cow! What kind of twisted freak came up with adolescence? A sick joke is what that was. So no… I don’t ever want to go through that again. But sometimes I wish that I could have held on to some of the things that I loved when I was younger.
I loved gaming. I used to SCUBA dive. I loved just hanging with my friends, and doing nothing, or going to 7-11 to bug Abdul at 2am. (really… that was his name, I kid you not). I used to have time to fly-fish. Shall I continue…
But did I really loose anything by growing up?
I don’t game at all anymore, except to play Settlers of Catan with my wife and kids, which I really do love to do. I never have time to take a weekend and go fishing and I haven’t gone SCUBA diving since I’ve been married.
I don’t see my high school friends more than a couple of times a year, but I’m kinda ok with that. Don’t get me wrong… I wish I could hang with them every weekend. But, my wife has kinda replaced them. They may be my best friends, but she is so much more than that to me. And I enjoy just sitting in silence with her, ever bit as much as I enjoyed just hanging out with them.
I think that I know what it is. Ever since I took over as a course director, for the National Youth Leadership Training program in our Boy Scout Council, and have been given more and more responsibility at work, and as my time has started to not be my time anymore… I think that I have been longing for those simple days when I was a kid. No responsibilities, just time… time to hang and to game and to have fun.
Boy, that would be nice to do again. D&D anyone?
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
The new site is called P.E.T.S. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Salad) at peoplesalad.blogspot.com
It’s a place where I can make fun if everyone and everything that bothers me… especially PETA.
So go and visit, and tell me how much you hate my guts…
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
I have seen the future… and it is not bright.
The other night we went to parent teacher conference at my daughter’s middle school and we walk into the choir room.
The first thing I notice is a vinyl LP taped to the door of the room. Expecting to find Johnny Mathis or Neal Diamond on the label, I look.
Clearly printed in nice block letters. What!?! Who tapes, glues, staples or otherwise defaces a vinyl record for pre-secondary education? And what psychopath does this to Elvis? Now I’m not a big Elvis fan so I entered the room, somewhat shaken, only to see another vinyl album taped to another door. This one I recognize instantly because of the ...dare I say it... green apple on the label.
This teacher is deranged. What music teacher in their right mind would do that to a vinyl copy of The Beatles, Help! Album? I was about to pull my daughter out of that class and quite possibly out of that school. Maybe out of the district. Who would hire such a musically ignorant music teacher?
All I can say… she’s young and has no idea what she has.
There were other albums on the wall, but fearing I would find The Who’s Tommy or Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon hanging on those cursed walls, I didn’t look. My heart could not have taken that.
For those of you who don’t know… don’t destroy your vinyl! Give them to someone who will love them and cherish them and treat them like the dying black pool of greatness that they are.
I know *sigh* in this digital age, we frown upon analogue anything… but hear me out.
Have you ever heard of a digital sample rate? Now I’m no expert, but hear me out. A “sample” is a sound bite, a piece as it were. When you digitally record something, you are sampling it, taking a part of it. Now these samples occur millions of times every second, but still, you are only getting a part of the full sound. The higher the sample rate, the better the sound quality.
With analogue, you get the whole thing. You could say that the sample rate is infinite. On a vinyl record you have every sound produced by the musician, even the ones the human ear is incapable of hearing and so with the kickin’ speaker technology we have today, a properly cared for vinyl record can give you a deeper, richer… dare I say… more spiritually lifting sound than any CD ever dreamed of.
This teacher should never be allowed to teach music. She knows nothing. I’ll bet she’s listening to a Britney Spears CD even now.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Anyway, I wrote about it before, but this time a few things that John Chatterton believes really stuck out in my mind. It’s kind of his philosophy about deep wreck diving, but I think that it can apply to just about any endeavor that we shallow water folk take on.
“If an undertaking were easy, somebody else would have already done it.”
“If you follow in another’s footsteps, you miss the problems really worth solving.”
“Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus, and tenacity. Compromise on any of these and you become average.”
“Every so often, life presents a moment of great decision, an intersection at which a man must decide to stop or go. A person lives with these decisions forever.”
“Examine everything, not all is as it seems or as people tell you.”
“It is easiest to live with a decision if it is based on an earnest sense of right and wrong.”
“The guy who gets killed is often the guy that got nervous. The guy who doesn’t care anymore, who has said “I’m already dead. The fact that I live or die is irrelevant and the only thing that matters is the accounting I give of myself,” is the most formidable force in the world.”
“The worsted possible decision is to give up.”
“If you can breath, you’re Ok”
I’ve taken these quotes and taped them to my office wall, because I believe that there is a lot of wisdom to be found in this wisdom from the deep.
Try ‘em out.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I may not have my facts completely right, but this winter, we went something like 6 weeks without ever getting above freezing. Well, if it wasn’t six weeks… it felt like 6 weeks. All last week it was warm, in the 40’s and 50’s warm. I could go out without a coat on for the first time this winter. The snow melted off and it was bright and sunny. Spring fever hit me like a ton of bricks, and now I can’t wait to garden, and go mountain biking, and hiking and all of the enjoyable stuff I love so very, very much.
And then, there was this morning. I knew it was supposed to rain. Rain is good because it isn’t snow, but this morning… I opened the door to send the kids off to the bus stop, and it… was… I can barely type these words without wanting to cry… it was… snowing. Not hard, and not the dry fluffy stuff we’re known for here in Utah. It was feeble and slushy, but it was SNOW!
Winter’s never going to end… ever… we (I) am going to be stuck in this suckfest known as winter for the rest of my life. Where is all that global warming anyway? Can I call up Al Gore’s office and demand global warming today!?! What, do I need to go buy the biggest SUV on the planet, you know the one, the one that gets like 2 miles to the gallon, and then run it 24/7 until the planet heats up a few degrees? I can do that.
I’ve come to a decision.
Wish me luck, ‘cause I have a feeling I’ll be cremating my frost bitten fingers in a couple of days.
Brrrrrrrr… is it cold in here?
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I don’t know all the details, but it would seem that last night, while people were enjoying a night out at the up-scale mall, Trolley Square, a teen aged scum bag - waste of skin, walked in with a shot gun and a back pack full of ammo, with the intension of randomly killing folk.
What went wrong inside this kid’s head?
Who or what do you blame? Video games? TV violence? Rap music? Alien abduction?
I’ve already read a blog this morning blaming the NRA and the 2nd amendment. Personally, I think that the writer of that particular blog is a first class dipstick in his own right. While not being a fan of the NRA, I also don’t believe that they had anything to do with the events of last night, to say that they did is only politically motivated, shallow thinking, hogwash. A lie that demeans the dead and obscures the true motivations of the shooter. If he had any motives at all beyond his adolescent desire to die and to take a few people with him.
If that’s the case… why? Why, if you were so set on shuffling off that mortal coil, why would you feel it necessary to take others with you? Why not pop a bunch of pills and quietly drift away in your bedroom? I’m not advocating that at all, by the way. I can’t imagine anything so big that you’d want to end it all. But then, that’s just me.
Did he want fame? His 15 minutes where everybody knew his name? Does that really matter to his corpse? Does the limelight extend all the way in to a slab in the coroner’s office? If there is an afterlife, does the fame and infamy act as a cool breeze while you’re burning in Hell?
I don’t know. It seems like such a waste. No, let me rephrase that. It is such a waste. And now, even now, while I type this, lawmakers are debating new and draconian gun control laws, that will do exactly jack. They will be praised for their bravery and for doing something about gun violence, while in actuality, they will have made the problem worse, because they will have overlooked the real cause for the violence. What is the real cause? I don’t know. But I know that the cause was not the gun. The firearm was peripheral. It was secondary to the act. Had he not gotten a gun, he would have gotten a knife, or an axe, or a sword, or a board with a nail in it… something. The cause of this heinous act was not a gun, or a weapon of any kind… it was a young person who’s wiring got crossed. How did the song go? The one by Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats… “I Don’t Like Mondays.”
The silicon chip inside her head
I think that says it all right there. If our politicians could find the real reason for this kind of tragedy and then work to correct it, the right way, this world would be so much better for it… but they won’t. They’ll ignore the real cause, and put a band-aid on the aesthetics, so that they can get the sound bite, and more people will die.
What a world eh?
Crazy fracked up world.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
One day we found out that there was going to be a community carnival type of thing at the park, and so we went and while walking around we found this booth where they were selling incense. Homemade incense. Scents I didn’t know you could make into a stick of incense. They had a “desert rain” stick that smelled just like the desert in Utah after a hard rain. It had the exact sage and grass smell I had missed so very much. So we bought a bunch of different scents and took them back to the pad, and well, it did the trick. Suddenly the old garage didn’t smell so much like a garage. It was kinda... "mossy." So the next day I ran out to the park and bought up enough of that guy’s incense to last the rest of the year I had left to be in California.
I burned that stuff all the time because it was so relaxing to sit and watch the smoke curl into the air. Just mellowed me out.
Eventually, I came home to Utah and started into life again, but I always remembered that incense. Over the years I’ve tried to find good incense, but have always ended up with some kind of, overly perfumed junk that all smells the same, despite what it said on the package. But then I found Anna’s. Anna is some hippie chick from Canada who sells incense through the Internet. I just got my order from her about a week ago, and I gotta tell ya… it’s not quite as good as the stuff I found in Burbank… but it’s darn close. I got "Desert Sage" and "Campfire" and a Bottle burner. I'll tell you what... nothing in the world is more relaxing that sitting in my office, as i am right now, with the lights dimed, just watching the smoke rise in curls toward the ceiling. Brings back the days in that smelly old garage in Burbank.
So… check her out… grab some incense for your place, ‘cause I’ll tell you what… I may go by “Murph” now… but every so often… “Mystic” returns.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Yep, for a couple of weeks each year, Utah’s silvery gleam is tarnished by the tinsel and fakery of A-list Hollywood, otherwise known as the Sundance Film Festival.
But isn’t the Film festival for independent filmmakers to show their stuff and try to get to that coveted A-list status? Well… ya, to a point. But mostly, I think it’s for independent filmmakers to make and show crappy films, and for A-listers to come to Utah, complain about the Mormons, about liquor laws, the cold, the altitude, or whatever. Then for them to watch a couple of crappy films, talk to the press about how pure and expressive film can be when not hampered down by a good musical score, or budgets, or plot, or special effects, or good writing, or Hollywood politics, and then go home.
The one good thing I see about this film festival is that a bunch of rich folk come into my state and drop lots ‘o cash. I like that… I’d like it even more if they would just mail it to us.
Now, don’t get me wrong… I love movies. I do. There is nothing I like more than seeing talented people doing their best to make believable characters from the scripts of talented writers who have created an original story that can take me away, play with my emotions, thrill me, and make me walk away from the theater going “wow, what a ride.” A-list Hollywood rarely, if ever, does that for me. How many time do I need to see Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Lindsay Lohan, or Sandra Bullock play the same stupid character, in some stupid movie that looks just like the last 20 stupid movies they did? So, I should like Sundance then… right?
No… Not so much.
Here’s how I look at Sundance… You gotta wade through a lot of pig crap to find the single pearl. That, to me, is Sundance in a nutshell. Here’s what I mean…
I don’t mind profanity in the dialog IF it serves a purpose in building the characterization and in making the characters more believable. I don’t expect a drug dealer in a film to say something like, “Well, heck you flippin’, doodle-bird. Where’s my frackin’ money?” That, probably, wouldn’t be in character. But, I’ve seen independent films so strewn with the F-word that the characters become not so much believable as cartoonish. Literally, every other word is some form of profanity. There’s so much profanity, in fact, that the dialogue no longer makes sense. And you’re left to just sit there dumfounded, wondering what just happened.
That’s what they call fresh and innovative filmmaking? No, it’s crap.
Sundance brings a lot of prestige and a lot of money to my state, and don’t really have a problem with that, but in my opinion, The Sundance folk could do themselves a favor and be a bit more picky about the films they choose for the festival. Find the best of the best; those true pearls… because they are out there.
And to the Hollywood A-listers… Remember folks, you’re in my state now, founded and settled by good, sturdy, god fearing people… so shut up, watch your crappy little films, leave your money and get the frack out!
Friday, January 12, 2007
My Sister and her boyfriend asked me this question and it made me go... "Hu..."
If you could have a super power would you rather have:
1. The power to strangle someone using only the power of your mind.
2. Lazer beam eyes
Now I had to give this one a little thought. At first I thought... Lazer beam eyes. Not only could I destroy cars on the freeway when their drivers cut me off, but I could do prctical things like cut those stupid punch ties that attach the tags to my new pairs of pants.
But, after thinking some more, I realized that my mind tends to wander and so, it would be very possible that I would burn a hole through the head of anyone I happen to be talking to, for no real reason. And were I to do that, someone may see the beam and then I would be in trouble...
So, strangling with the power of my mind looks better and better, not that the body count on the freeway would be any different, but that it would be harder to pin the deaths on me.
I know... lame topic...
But at least it's not another video.