Monday, November 22, 2010

Aron Ralston... Dumb Kind of Hero.

I just want to take a little time to thank Aron Ralston for being the best kind of idiot, and for keeping his name in the spotlight so that I can use him as an object lesson... Let me explain.

You see, I’m a Scoutmaster, and every year, just as spring is getting into full bloom, I teach my boys about Leave No Trace and about the rules to safe hiking. Prior to Aron Ralston I really didn’t have a good example of why these rules are important.

In case you don’t know, the first principle of Leave no Trace is to Plan and Prepare. Where are you going? What’s the weather going to be like? What’s the terrain like? What are the hazards? Do you need a permit? Does anyone know where you’re going? Food? Water? Jacket?
All of these questions raised by the very first principle of Leave No Trace tie into the rules to safe hiking.

1. Plan where you are going. (Break out a $4.00 topo map and plan your trip)
2. Tell someone where you are going, and when you are planning on being back. (ie. “We’ll be taking this trail into this basin. Don’t plan on us being back until Sunday afternoon.”)
3. Dress and pack for conditions.
4. NEVER hike alone. (Hey Aron… ever hear of the buddy system?)
5. Be prepared. (did you pack everything you need… Like a buddy?)
Now I will not tell you that I have never solo hiked… because I have. When I was a teenager and an Idiot! Fortunately, I grew up and finally realized that what I was doing was foolish and stupid. I thank the good Lord above for the fact that nothing really bad ever happened to me while I was alone in the wilderness long before cell phones.

People... Aron Ralston is no hero for cutting off his arm, and leaving a good deal of his DNA all over the desert of South Eastern Utah. I believe that he broke at least 3 of the Leave No Trace principles right there… but I digress. If he were following the priciples of Leave No Trace, he would have had someone with him and, thus... still have 10 pretty fingers.
He’s not a hero, he’s no one to look up to. He’s the poster boy for everything that you don’t do in the wilderness.
I can only hope that he has learned a healthy respect for the land, because as people seem to find out from time to time, if you don’t respect the wilderness, the wilderness will scrape you off it’s boot, and good riddance to you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What The... ?

You people have got to be the dimest of dim bulbs. I sware!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Just Have to Say...

Something has been on my mind, and I just have to get it out, even though I may me ridiculed, or pronounced a bigot, or even cause hurt to some people that I deeply care for.

Please let me begin with this… I am a Latter-day Saint, a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I attend Church every Sunday; I’m a Sunday school teacher, a Scout-Master, a holder of the priesthood, my wife and I were married for time and all eternity in the Jordan River Temple, and we attend the Temple as often as we can, our goal is to attend at least once every month. And every six months during General Conference I raise my arm to the square to sustain the first presidency and quorum of the twelve apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators, and I would not do that if I did not believe that they were just that.

Now that I have that out of the way…

Much ado has been made out of Boyd K. Packer’s talk at the last General Conference of the Church. This, to my way of thinking, really amounts to a tempest in a teacup, a giant load of falderal, as it were. And the greatest amount of noise seems to have been made by those who hate the church anyway, or by groups that want to change Church doctrine to suit their own wants and desires.

In case you don’t know, here’s what he said:
“Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.”
So, big question, do I believe this? Yes. I don’t believe that same sex attraction is genetic.
A few years ago, while sitting in a paleoanthropology class at university, we were spending several weeks going over genetics, and the question was asked, “Is same sex attraction genetic?” My professor said that most likely it was not. And his reasoning was simple. (Now this was a long time ago, and so my understanding of his reasoning may have suffered, but in essence this is what he said) A gay person does not always produce a gay offspring, and so, the so called “Gay Gene” would be recessive, meaning that the gene requires the same gene from the other parent in order for it to be expressed. Let’s say that 10,000 years ago, same sex attraction was introduced into the gene pool by a point mutation, or some other right error in the RNA of several individuals. People who are same sex attracted don’t usually seek out partners of the opposite sex, thus producing offspring. Considering this fact alone, it would take only a few generations, 5 or 6 at the most, for the trait to die out completely.

And so, President Packer’s words were no great shock to me, because I already believed that the cause of same sex attraction was environmental.

The thing is folks, we’re here on this planet to make choices, and some of us have been given challenges to overcome, and God does not give us challenges that we cannot overcome. It may seem like a steep hill to climb, but as long as we’re moving forward, we’re moving in the right direction.

I could stop this entry here, but there is something very important that I have to say. I have people in my family who are LGBT. Several of them have spouses. And I love them all, and consider them to be members of my family. No, consider isn’t the right word. They are members of my family. My uncle has been with his partner for as long as I can remember, and it is impossible for me to imagine one without the other. I have a cousin in California who I consider to be the older sister I never had. Her wife is a tremendous person whom I love dearly. I hope that my words have not hurt them in any way.

You may be asking yourself… hey Murph… in your archives, you argue for Gay Marriage… Have you changed your mind? My answer is no. What I wrote in that post still stands. Civil marriage is an equality of rights matter. Personally, I am married to one very lovely lady, and she is my life. That’s how I believe it should be, within the boundaries that the Lord has set. But if you want to set your own boundaries on what two consenting adults can do, be my guest, I’m not going to stop you, and I’m not going to judge you and ask that you do the same for me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Big Bang Theory

I don’t know what it is about Christians, that they think that The Big Bang Theory disputes the existence of God. I look at the results of the Big Bang and think, “what divine poetry.” To me The Big Bang Theory is proof that there is a God in Heaven and that He loves us and all of His creations.
Doesn’t the Bible say that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth?” Well, maybe the Big Bang was how He created those heavens. Ever think about that?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Remembering How it All Started

Years ago, when I first started doing stage makeup... well... lets back up.
Back in 1990, a friend of mine called me up and asked if I could give him a hand with a couple of rooms he had at the the Haunted Old Mill. He needed someone who could swing a hammer and I could. As time went on, and as we began to realize that we needed to populate these two rooms with scary monsters... and we had no idea how. So, we went to the library and checked out every book we could find on stage and fx makeup. Then we went to the only shop we knew of to get the stuff described in the books... the Costume Closet. There, I dropped about $200 on cream makeup, latex, blood... lots of blood. The makeup counter used to cover two walls and was terrific. I could buy liquid latex by the gallon... which I did. The people there, especially this one guy... I'm afraid that I can't remember his name... I'd describe what I wanted to do, and he'd tell me how to do it, and what I'd need.
When the Haunted Old Mill was condemned and shut down, all of my makeup supplies went into a toolbox and then into my closet. Occasionally the box would come out on Halloween for my kids, but for the most part it stayed in the closet slowly drying out and aging.
On the rare occasion that I needed new makeup, I would go to the Costume Closet and was distressed to see that the makeup counted, hardly had any makeup available and when they did have what I needed it was as old and dry as the stuff I had in my case anyway.
A couple of years ago, my daughters volunteered me to do the makeup for a musical our church was doing, and so I went back to the library and back to the Costume Closet. The Library worked, the Costume Closet didn't. I ended up buying all of my makeup at another place, and it lacked the magic that it once had.
Now I do about two theatrical productions a year, and am glad to say that the Costume Closet has been bought by a great couple of people who renamed the company to Mask Costume, and have brought the makeup counter (almost) back to it's former glory. And I thank them for that.

Monday, June 07, 2010

So I run the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay in a week and a half.
Ask me if I'm ready... no really... Ask me.
This has been a strange training period for me. I started the year so high, running so well. Then the shin splints started up again and I was ready to give up. This was last March. I've since changed so things and am running strong again.
So If you find yourself along the race route be sure to chear on team "Complete Structural Failure."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Geek Pride Day?

You know…

Today is Geek/Nerd Pride Day, and I say… so what.

Anyone who has read my blog before knows that I don’t hold a lot of stock in what is “Geek Chic.” And if you don’t know what that is… turn on G4 television and watch “Attack of the Show” there you’ll see a bunch of beautiful people pretending to be Geeks because for some reason… geek is cool… but is it?

Look, geeks are the social outcasts. They’re the ones that got shoved into things (i.e. lockers, garbage cans, girls restrooms, etc.) while trudging through the public school system. We were the people who were the victims of the beautiful crowd, we were the ones who would say that we would rather read a book or play D&D than go to a party (as if we were ever invited to one), and many of us secretly wished we could go… in our heart of hearts. We wondered how we could get into the beautiful crowd and still feared what would happen if we ever did. And so, we surrounded ourselves with people who were like us. We filled our lives with SciFi, and Fantasy; with games so complicated we were sure that the beautiful people would throw a rod if they ever even picked up a Dungeon Master’s Guide. We hung out in comic book shops or gaming stores because most of the time, the people behind the counter were just like us… they could sing (badly) the theme to “Land of the Lost” for crying out loud.

Incidentally, do you know why most true geeks hate sports? I think that it’s because the same self-important bungholes that tormented us in high school play most sports.

Nowadays, Geek has become cool… and I’m not sure why. The beautiful people think that they can throw on a faux-hawk (no true geek would wear one of those by the way… we seem to be an all or nothing kind of people) and a tee-shirt sporting the number 42 and say that they are just “so geeky.”
I’m sorry my friends… shout your geekyness from the rooftops… but you will only be a pretender. Until you have been labeled, and tormented, and pushed from society… you will never be a Geek, only a poser.

So… false geeks everywhere… enjoy your day. Those of us, and we know who we are, who are the true geeks of the world, don’t need a day to show our pride… we show it daily.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Love of Running

So I keep wondering… Why do I run? I’m reading a book, “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. It’s primarily about a tribe of runners in Mexico, The Tarahumara, who regularly run impromptu marathons of 300 miles, just for the love of running. But mostly it’s about US Ultra-marathoners who run organized races of 100 miles plus and why they run. Sometimes it’s to prove something to the world or to themselves. To battle the beast of fatigue or to test the limits of their own bodies.
One of my favorite quotes from the book:

“ …the real secret of the Tarahumara: they’d never forgotten what it felt like to love running. They remembered that funning was mankind’s first fine art, our original act of inspired creation. Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees, we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscle into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain. And when our ancestors finally did make their first cave paintings, what were the first designs? A downward slash, lightning bolts through the bottom and middle - behold the Running Man.
Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running. Or you wouldn’t live to love anything else. And like everything else we love - everything we sentimentally call our “passions” and “desires” - it’s really an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run. Were all Running People, as the Tarahumara have always known.” (pp. 92-93)

So why do I run? Is it really a desire locked in my DNA?
I started running as a teenager. I likes to go and run from my home to Eisenhower Junior High and back with my friend Scott. We had a great pace and rhythm, and even though I’ve always been an asthmatic, I’ve always been able to fight through it and run. Then life happened and I stopped running. A couple of years ago I started again and ran my first Ragnar Relay in Las Vegas last October. I had a blast and am looking forward to my first Wasatch Back Relay in June. But is the fun of the relay enough?
Even as I write this, with an ice pack wrapped around my leg for the shin splints that have always been a plague to me, I wonder, when will I find the love for running that the Tarahumara have? Or do I need to find my own inspiration?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Being to Hard on B&N?

Ok, so…
After being chewed, and rightly so, by a person whom I respect quite a lot, I feel that I need to set the record straight vis-à-vis my last post.
No, I don’t HATE Barnes & Noble, and not everyone who works for them are illiterate drones. I love Brick and Mortar book stores, and really do hope that they are able to survive the digital revolution… but…
I don’t think that the future is bright, and that makes me sad.

Now, that being said, let me explain just a little bit.

I am one of those people who would love to spend an entire day in a bookstore. I’m one of those annoying people who sit on the floor, in among the stacks, blocking the aisles to other shoppers while lovingly thumbing through book after book. It’s like a little vacation to me. And like vacations, I rarely have time for that sort of thing, and so when I go to a bookstore I’m on a mission for one or two particular titles.

I’m a list maker. Just ask my wife. My pockets are always full of book lists. Titles I’ve heard about on “All Things Considered” or read about in the Arts Section, or found out about on one of the many book related blogs I follow. Sometimes these lists make it on to my “to Read” list on Goodreads, but most of the time they end up in the top drawer of my night stand, or (horror of horrors) get put through the wash still in my pants pocket and are thus rubbed out forever. And so, generally, when I go to a bookstore I’m almost always armed with one of my many lists. Yesterday was one of those days. I went into the Sandy B&N with a list of 3 books. And they weren’t obscure or out of print books. Two of them I had heard about on “All Things Considered” on Monday. The third was one by Dashell Hammett (I’ve been going through a Pulp Fiction phase… I don’t know why.) While I am always on the lookout for a Chapman translation of Homer… I’m pretty sure that I’ll never find it at B&N, but these books were not in that category. And then to find out that two of them are never stocked… well, lets just chalk it up to having a bad week… and so my cork popped and I wrote a post critical of everything B&N and brick & mortar bookstores in general.

But while I’m on the subject… the vampire comment… ya gotta know that’s totally true. What was the first table I passed when I walked into B&N yesterday? Can ya guess? A table full of “Twilight” clones. Then there was a display of a book titled: “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.” My brain almost began shooting out great gouts of blood at that point. And then to top it off, I passed one other table full of “Twilight” clones when I neared the Fiction & Literature section. Not that they were the same clones I had passed at the door, they were a table of completely new clones. I went back and forth several times just to make sure. And so, my statement still stands, if you want to read about teen angst vampires… B&N is your place, and at least the management of the Sandy B&N are proud of that fact.
Now, granted… that’s what’s selling, and they have to stock what’s selling, but… come on!
Now that being said…
I think I’m starting to channel Tevia from “Fiddler on the Roof”
“On the other hand…”

Now that being said, I’m not implying that B&N has no intelligent literature on their shelves. I’m a big fan of their classics collection. They’re an inexpensive way to get some of the greats in literature. The B&N collection is way cheeper than the Modern Library, or Vintage editions of the same book.

My big complaint… and it is purely MY complaint is that nine times out of ten, I walk into B&N and I walk out with either no book, because they didn’t have any of the books on my list that day, or I walk out with some other book that wasn’t on my list that may or may not have been close to what I wanted. It is truly a rare and happy occasion that I am able to walk in, pick up the book that I am looking for, pay for it, and walk out again. And if I want one of the more obscure books on one of my many lists, I have to go to one of the smaller, local bookstores like “The Kings English” or “Sam Weller’s.” While they are far smaller than B&N, my chances of finding those kinds of books are better. And if they don’t have it, the people working there have almost always heard of the book, if not read it.

So yes, I’m critical of B&N, but that doesn’t stop me from walking in there a few times per month.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Bookstores are Dead!

Brick and Mortar bookstores are dead.
When was the last time you walked into one? And if you have walked into one recently, when was the last time you walked into one and actually found what you were looking for? I just walked into a Barnes & Noble with a list of 3 books. Not really obscure or out of print books… 3 books recently featured on “All things Considered.” So, they are books with a relatively good chance of being read.
Well, I couldn’t find them on the shelves, so I ask one of the illiterate book drones that work there. The computer told them that they were out of stock.
“So when will they be in stock?” I ask.
“Well,” he droned, “we don’t stock any of those books… but I can order them in.”

The lesson here, boys and girls, is that if you want to read anything about teen angst vampires, go to Barnes and Noble… if you want anything else… find it on line.

Monday, February 01, 2010

No More Final Frontier

The US space program is dead.
It has been on a downward spiral into failure and obscurity since the end of the Apollo program, and now with the release of Obama’s new budget that effectively kills the Constellation program (that was designed to take us back to the moon) and the Ares 1 rocket (that was to replace the 20 year old space shuttle fleet), plus his misguided idea to have private contractors “shuttle” astronauts into low Earth orbit, he has just put the final nail into NASA’s coffin. Forget, of course, that no private company has ever been able to reach low Earth orbit, and they are all no less than 10 years out from achieving that which the USSR achieved in 1957.
Neal Armstrong said that his first steps on the moon were a giant leap for mankind. I’d say that he was no prophet, since the only leaping we’ve done since then have been backward.
Maybe we should just bulldoze Kennedy Space Center and replace it with low cost housing, because nothing’s going into space from there anymore.
Think about this: The only country to ever put men on the moon has now become a second rate “bit player” in space exploration thanks to our “forward thinking” president.
The US will never put people on the moon again, and the first team to reach Mars will most likely be speaking Chinese.
It’s a shame.
My children can now look forward to peering into the night sky only to see the bars of their Earth bound imprisonment. Man’s urge to explore will now need to be channeled elsewhere… but where. We are explorers by nature, but we’ve let the timid among us kill that wonder.

Thank you Mr. President for killing the dreams of our children.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An Open Letter to Stephenie Meyer

Dear Steph,
After reading a few of the thousands of articles people have written about your Twilight Series, I’ve come to realize that there is quite a bit of hate out there, and that most of that venom is not only targeted at your books, but at you as a person. And I am sad to admit that, yes, I’m one of them, and I shouldn’t be. I should be above such petty feelings.
I mean, you’re just a writer, a story teller, and an entertainer, right? Is it really your fault that Bella is such a despicable, two dimensional, self centered tramp? I mean… you had nothing to do with her creation did you? Characters write themselves as part of the writing process… right? Afterall, you didn’t have any control over the fact that Edward is so over-the-top perfectly gorgeous and sensitive; that he’s such an Adonis that no real man on the planet could ever hope measure up to him. I know that I could never stand up to the standard that you… I mean… that Edward set for himself.
So what if you quite literally dug up the bones of Bram Stoker and spat in his decomposing face. I mean, what did he know about vampires? He wasn’t Romanian… he was Irish for crying out loud. What do the Irish know about the supernatural? Leprechauns, Yes… Vampires, No! He didn’t know anything about vampires, and certainly didn’t write the seminal work on the subject; the book that all subsequent vampire books had to deal with. Well, you certainly didn’t deal with that fraud, did you?
I have an idea. You should write a fantasy novel next. Yes, a fantasy novel with lots of modern teen angst, and perfectly proportioned, yet slavish, men. And you could totally ignore Tolkien, too. You could totally trample on that stupid little novella he wrote about the Lord of the Rings… who ever that wimp was… Sheesh! I mean, who wants to read some book about a guy who loves hula-hoops?
Don’t you think that’s a good idea? Tell you what… I feel so much better after writing this letter, that I’m not going to hate you as a person anymore. I’ll respect you as a writer and as an artist, and confine my hate to… I don’t know… maybe just your guts. Ya, I think that will work.
Keep up the good work.
Sincerely yours,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Next Kilt

So, as many of you know, I like wearing kilts. I don’t know why… it’s not an airflow thing. Believe me, when you strap 20 pounds of wool around your waist, there is NO airflow. I’m not trying to get in touch with my inner female, because, believe me there is no inner female, plus, Kilts are the ultimate attire for men of Celtic heritage… so don’t even go into the “Man Skirt” zone, ‘cause yer just going to embarrass yourself.

I own one kilt already, and it’s very nice. I got it from “The Celtic Croft,” and it’s made from an Irish tartan designed to honor “St. Patrick.” Like I said… it’s very nice for the small amount that I paid for it.
I’m not someone who can go and plop down 700 bucks for a kilt; I’d rather buy seven $100 kilts instead, since there are many tartans that I can wear.

I know, don’t go into the whole “there are no rules for wearing tartans” thing. I’m aware if that, but I’m not the kind of person who can go and wear… I don’t know… MacDonald, because I like the pattern, and I think that their french fries are taisty. To me, that’s just kinda being a poser. But I digress…

So like I said, I have a kilt made from the “St. Patrick” tartan. Which is just a good, Irish national pattern for anyone of Irish Heritage.
I can also wear “Mitchell” because my Grandmother was one.
I can wear, “MacLeod” because my wife is from that clan.
I can wear, “MacNachtan” because my last name is a sept family of that clan.
I can wear, “MacLaren” because I finished Woodbadge training in the BSA.
I can wear, “Ulster” and “Westmeath” because that’s where my Irish relatives are from.
And I can wear, several of the Welsh patterns including “Pride of Wales” and the “St. David / Welsh National.”

I’ve decided to go with the “Welsh National” to honor my Great Grandfather, and G.G. Grandfather, who were born in Wales.

So I went looking and found that most of the Welsh patterns were very, very pricey, but I did finally find the Welsh National tartan at USAKilts in my price range. It’s a distinctive pattern that cannot in any way be mistaken for any other clan or country. The pattern is based on the colors of the Welsh flag. Red and Green vertical stripes… wonderful!
My wife… doesn’t like it at all. Now, she won’t stand in my way of getting it in any way, she just thinks that it’s… Christmassy. I don’t disagree with her on that point.

But, still, I think that I’m going to get that one this year, and then get “MacLeod” next, so that I can stand in my front yard, sword in hand yelling, “There can be only one!”
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