Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jotting Tittles: Microwaves and Zombies

I want to explain the title of this post to you, "Microwaves and Zombies."

I really want to tell you exactly what it means to me and my life.

But I can't.

You see, I have a page of notes in my little notebook, a page titled "Blog Thoughts" with a date from last month. Under that is a bullet point labeled "Microwaves and Zombies" with no further explanation.

And the rest of the page is illegible. I must have been writing (a) in the car while driving in rush hour traffic; (b) on the bus on a bad road; (c) in the dark while half-asleep; or (d) (c) and either (a) or (b).

Take your pick.

First, on the subject of liberty. Remember in the coming week that Liberty--true Liberty--is the ability to choose for one's self, researching, studying, and learning about yoru choices. True Liberty does not come from blindly following the media.

Second, how blissful it is to lie in a tent surrounded by my LW and the Horde, on a crisp summer morning far up in the mountains in a quiet, secluded valley, the only humans for miles. How wonderful to lie there and read aloud the words from the Declaration of Independence. How marvelous to see the looks on the Horde's individual faces as they hear and understand the words written 232 years ago. It's dawn and the words leave my tongue with clouds of vapor in the cool air. THAT is Heaven.

Third, just a quick thought from one of the Presidential debates last month. A statistic was cited that deductibles (in looking back I think it may have been premiums and I wrote it down incorrectly) have increased by 30% and families are going bankrupt from health care.
(A) Very few of my clients are going bankrupt because of their heatlh care costs; most of them are going bankrupt from bad housing loans or high tax debt.
(B) I am struggling myself to pay my own health care costs. But you know what? I do not want it from the Government. It's not the Government's place. Period.

Fourth, O.K., one more thought from the Presidential debates. All of my readers know that I really do not like John McCain. He may be the lesser of two evils. That is yet to be seen, I suppose. However, one cannot deny that he has not performed very well since the Convention. Heck, he has not performed well since Mitt dropped out of the race, for that matter. One wonders whether McCain is so scared of being tagged with the "attack dog" label that he has held back. The one line that stood out from the debates for me? "I'm not going to set the White House visitor schedule before I'm President. I don't even have a Seal yet." I think that if he had spent the last nine months talking like this, he would be so far ahead in the race as to be nearly uncatchable.
As it is, I am afraid he looks like an old man weakly swinging his cane at a young whipper-snapper. (Aside: I can just hear him saying, "Sarah! Help me subdue...this beast." {while panting and flailing weakly) a la Montgomery Burns.)

Fifth, my LW and I just endured a Mormon ritual that normally comes about every five years or so: the reorganization of the Bishopric. Actually, that's just the event; the ritual is, in my household, not-so affectionately referred to as "Mormon Lotto." That's the phenomenon that has its genesis the very moment that the reorganization is to occur. From that moment on, the phone lines, back fences, and now e-mails are on fire with speculation about "who's worthiest?" "who's old enough?" "who's too old?" and so on. And then, when the announcement is made, all the gossipers look at one another and nod sagely, with a "I knew it all along" look in their eyes. Not my favorite ritual, by any means. It is a painful time. Pain. Mental, emotional, spiritual.

Sixth, It's nearly November again, and do you know what that means? Yep. Cranberry-flavored Sierra Mist is available again! I had my first bottle sighting yesterday! Hooray! Cranberry-flavored Sierra Mist. Mmmmmm.......

Seventh, It's nearly November again, and as I have recently said, that means NaNoWriMo! That means 1,667 words a day. Ugh. From now until the end of the first week of November, I am going to be questioning myself, wondering whether I can really do this--whether I really WANT to do this. I have been through this before and I can sense my reluctance starting again. Somehow I have to move past the self-editing-while-writing mode and move into a writing-for-the-sheer-pleasure-of-it-just-put-the-words-down-on-paper mode. I need to be ever-vigilant for a negative attitude (as opposed to ever-viligant, which does not make any sense whatsoever).

Now.... Where's my bag of fun-size Snickers bars?!?

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Wordles

What are Wordles? From the website:

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.

Apparently, this is the footprint my Blogging has left on the world through October 2008, courtesy of wordle.net:


h/t: LDS Media Talk

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Constructive Thoughts: The Elders

Dear Elders Fowler and Marsh:

Thank you for allowing me the pleasure of seeing my old missionary apartment again. I apologize for imposing last night and dropping in like I did. Especially as I was dragging four or five friends along for the ride. I will say, to your credit, you acquitted yourselves well: You took the visit in stride, your apartment was clean, you were gracious hosts, and you behaved quite appropriately in front of my non-member friend who accompanied me. When I awoke this morning, my first thoughts were of you two good Elders and my need to thank you.

While I had friends with me, I am sorry that my wife could not join me on this trip. She has joined me frequently in the past; I am waiting for the day when I can bring my entire family along. That day will have to wait, though. I am only human and can only do so much with these trips at the present time.

It was nice to see my old area and my old apartment again. I have a lot of fond memories for that apartment and that city, as it was my second area on the island. Obviously, as you know, much has changed with the apartment, however, and I have forgotten much about the area. Time was, I could re-walk the streets of that city--each city in which I served--with my eyes closed and never miss a beat. Now? I'm afraid that the passage of time is stealing my memories.

I never thought I would say that.

I thought that my experiences and feelings were indelibly locked in my mind. They're slipping away, however, along with my vocabulary--many of the words and phrases I used on a daily, hourly basis are gone, unreachable through the barrier of time.

Enjoy the time you spend on your mission, in the Lord's service. One thing is clear to me now: you cannot go back to this time, no matter how great your want or need to do so. I remember in my own experience that there were many Elders who returned to the island to try and teach again, or to recapture the happiness and spirit that they felt while on their mission. They all failed; some of them failed miserably. I am not able to visit ofen; it is such a long way to go on such short notice, and for such a short time. Normally, my visits are preceded by a long bout of high stress. While I am there, I can forget all that stress, eat good food, talk and think in a marvelous second language, and immerse myself in my memories. The visits give me a mental and emotional vacation from my real world. I can almost feel the years melting away, the layers of my mind peeling back to return me to places and friends that I have lost.

But it is not the same.

Work hard and keep your focus. That is the best counsel I could possibly give from this far removed, both in space and in time. Work hard and keep your focus. The one is easy if you do the other; they are inextricably linked. I have only one regret about my mission. I can admit this now, although it has taken a very, very long time to be able to express this thought to someone else.

I was given poor advice by a well-meaning older brother who thought he was looking out for his kid brother. Because of the depth of the love and respect I had for him I disregarded the repeated counsel of two mission presidents (one in the Missionary Training Center ("MTC") and one on island) and listened to my brother instead. I can even admit to a bit of hero-worship coming into play in this regard. My brother could do no wrong, and I am afraid that I crowed his advice from the rooftops to all who would listen. I can only pray that I did not lead any other person astray by my transmission of the bad advice. What was this advice? I was told that the mission experience was, first and foremost, for me, for my growth, for my learning. Everything else--conversions, numbers, etc.--was purely secondary.

Wrong. The work is not secondary. Sharing the Gospel is not secondary. Your growth as a missionary, as a person, as a man (or woman, in the case of the Sister Missionaries), as a Child of God: THAT is all secondary. It comes as the work progresses, as you share the love, the spirit, the knowledge that the Gospel brings. Ultimately you enjoy growth and learning that cannot find its equal in any other field of endeavor.

I think this is what my well-meaning brother probably meant. Unfortunately, he did not put it in these terms and I may have wasted a good portion of the short two years alloted to me to preach and teach.

At least, I hope this is what my brother meant. The alternatives are too ugly to consider.

Obey the mission rules and the Commandments. I know this should go without saying, but I watched too many Elders stretch, bend, and yes, even break the rules and (sadly) the Commandments. I broke a few rules of my own, although they were easy to justify. At the time, that is. Looking back, it is not as easy as it once was to rationalize them away. Certainly, these things distract from the service of the Lord, even the little things. Watch yourselves and watch over one another. Do those things that are expected of you and you will be better missionaries and better men for it.

Elders, I hope my letter finds you both well, although I am not sure whether my letter will find you still companions. I have no way of knowing if you even have counterparts in the real world. To me, however, for last night--or a portion of last night--you were both extremely real to me. Elder Marsh: the quiet one with the full head of tall, curly hair, who was from London but had worked Stateside before receiving his mission call. Elder Fowler: the senior companion who did all the talking, yet who managed to talk very little about himself. Thank you for the lessons brought to mind by our brief chance meeting. Thank you for the short piece of your missions that you shared with me, a man twice your age.

Oh yes, Elders, one more thing--a side note, really: enjoy your hair while you have it and your waistlines while you don't have them.

The Gospel is true, Elders. The Book of Mormon is the Word of God, sent to us in this modern dispensation by a loving Heavenly Father as a roadmap to show us the way to return to Him and to live in His presence someday; in His presence with oue families, forever, if we just follow the Commandments we have received. This book was translated by a modern Prophet, who held all the Gospel and Priesthood keys held by Prophets of old. Those keys are held today by another Prophet. What a marvelous thing it is to say: We have a Prophet of the Lord among us, a man such as Moses, Abraham, or Isaiah--a man such as the world knew of old--among us today, sharing the will of God with us, guiding us, teaching us, calling the world to repent and come unto Christ. And most importantly, Jesus is The Christ; He is my Redeemer and Savior, my elder brother.

It is true, Elders.

Believe it and Live it.

I have a testimony of these things, Elders. I share this testimony with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Life

Gentle reader,

Life, I'm afraid, has taken control of my, well, life for this week.

My workload has doubled this past fortnight because of the economy, and because of an employee that just cannot seem to get well.

So, despite the fact that I have four to six really good topics to mine for blog entries, and despite the fact that these ideas are bouncing around the inside of my head until I am nearly crazy, it appears that between life and my Church calling, it may be several more days before I can return to my blogging duties.

They are great topics, believe me. Some secular, some religious. Some hysterical. Some thoughtful.

Please do not desert me. You may surf to another channel, but please surf on back. I will be back VERY soon, I promise. Very soon. Just as soon as I have time.

It may even be tomorrow.

We'll see. Just keep checking back.

( Now....all I have to do is remember my ideas that long. Where's a Post-it Note?)

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008


Well, it's that time of year again.

I'm starting to sharpen pencils like a madman. I'm ordering my bottles of fountain pen ink. I'm stacking up ream after ream of collegiate ruled paper.

It's NaNoWriMo time again!

What is NaNoWriMo, you ask?

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

I've tried it twice, and both times been thwarted by either illness or real life. I'm bound and determined to do it this year.

Of course, I say that every year, and then peter out sometime around Thanksgiving, telling myself that I'll devote every waking minute over Thanksgiving break to writing and getting caught up on my word totals.

How well does that work out, do you think?

Yeah, you'd be right....

But this year, I'm gonna do it.

Want to join me? Head on over to www.nanowrimo.org and register.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Naturally Blonde

I must say ahead of time that I am sorry if I offend any blondes or blonde-related readers today. But this must be shared.

From FoxNews.com: Judge Tosses Hair Dye Lawsuit for Blonde Who Had Less Fun as Brunette

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A judge has brushed off a Connecticut woman's claim that L'Oreal Inc. ruined her social life when she accidentally dyed her hair brunette with one of its products.

Charlotte Feeney of Stratford said she can never return to her natural blonde hue, a shock that left her so traumatized she needed anti-depressants.

She says she suffered headaches and anxiety, missed the attention that blondes receive and had to stay home and wear hats most of the time.

A Superior Court judge dismissed Feeney's 2005 lawsuit Monday, saying she never proved her allegation that L'Oreal put brown hair dye in a box labeled as blonde. The company also had disputed the claim.

Feeney's attorney, David Laudano, declined to comment and she could not be reached after the judge's decision.
OK. Is it just me, or does this woman truly, truly epitomize blondeness? (Blondinity? Blondification?)

I will admit that I do not have much experience with hair dyes, but c'mon ladies, help me out here.... It grows out, does it not? Hair dye ain't permanent, is it? I mean, that's what keeps L'Oreal in business, right? Repeat customers?

OK, sure.... It may take a while to grow out...but was it really L'Oreal's decision that Ms. Feeney stay home? Really?

It's a good thing that Mr. Laudano declined to comment. He should be ashamed of even filing the stupid case.

I'm hoping it's just because he's blonde too.

What does this say about my profession? What does this say about our society? What, she couldn't read the label where it said "Brown" not "Blonde" before applying the dye? Really? or is it just a case of everyone trying to hit the Lawsuit Lottery?

Bankruptcy attorneys are not generally well-thought of among attorneys; our clients are not flashy or wealthy and we usually don't get rich from the practice. But we all console ourselves with one thing:

We're not personal injury/tort lawyers.

UPDATE:

Apparently her blonde brother sells cars. Also from FoxNews: Woman, 90, Dies After Crashing New Sports Car

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — A 90-year-old woman was killed when she lost control of her new sports car and slammed into a pole, authorities said.

State motor vehicle records show that Maria Brunetti, of Pompano Beach, got the 2009 Dodge Challenger Friday on her birthday. A Broward Sheriff's spokesman said the car's odometer only showed 151 miles.

Detectives believe that Brunetti lost control Sunday when she accelerated instead of braking while trying to make a turn. The car hit a concrete pole and caught fire with Brunetti and her son, 47-year-old Peter Brunetti, trapped inside.

Witnesses pulled the them from the burning car, and fire-rescue took them to the hospital. The woman was pronounced dead a short time later, and her son was in serious condition.
I have more sense, tact, taste, and pathos than to say anything ill against the dead. I truly feel for this poor woman; my own grandfather mistook the gas for the brake on several occasions, one of which cost my family a garage door. So I feel for this woman and her family.

But the salesman.... He must have been blonde.

I don't want to think there are people that greedy, that desperate to make a commission.

Think about it. Did he not have a moral obligation to say, "Ma'am, I'm sorry, but isn't this big muscle car just maybe a bit too much car for you? We have this nice little car over here, although it costs much less."

He sold a 90-year-old woman a dang muscle car. A $23,000 muscle car.

That's not to say that he should be sued, or found liable in any way in her death. Please, you should know me better than that by now. She was an adult; I'm guessing her son went with her as well. He too is an adult. They made the choice.Do not pick up the phone to call David Laudano about this case. The salesman was not complicit in her death.

But he may just have been a bit blonde.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Validated yet again....

Once again I have had my suspicions confirmed.
You are 62% white and nerdy.
How White and Nerdy Are You?


I just take issue with their result of ONLY 62%, however.

Go ahead. Take the test yourself.... You know you want to....

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Jotting Tittles

Just about every blogger I know has "Random Thoughts" now and then. Today I dip my foot in the Pool of Perambulating Posts and meander through a morass of miscellany. These thoughts may not have anything to do with one another, or may be connected on some subconscious level. We will just have to wait and see what comes out, I suppose. Who knows, they could even lead to longer posts. I just have a bunch of stuff rattling around in my head this morning.

First: A shout-out to the woman I passed at the bus stop this morning while I was walking to work. She was nicely dressed and professional looking, so I do not believe she was one of the many homeless people that congregate around the local mission in the mornings. She was just standing, waiting for the bus; as I approached her, she threw up her arms and sang out, "Holy! Holy! Holy!" and began to sing some Gospel music as I passed her and continued down the street. I could hear her for almost the next two blocks. What a completely unexpected, but certainly positive and uplifting way to start your day. Thank you, ma'am.

Second: I noticed on the news that John McCain made a promise during Debate #2 last night, a promise to have the Federal Reserve buy up all the so-called "bad loans" and to renegotiate the terms so that people can afford to pay their mortgages. I have heard a lot of this the past few months since the housing market really started to tank; people on both sides of the political aisle calling for mercy for those who "got roped" into "bad loans" and were "taken advantage of" because they "did not know what they were doing." Now, I certainly appreciate and agree that there are many of those people out there; I see plenty of examples every day. However, there were a lot of gamblers and risk-takers that certainly knew exactly what they were doing. Oddly enough, the politicians calling for "mercy" for these poor citizens were the same politicians that, three years ago, refused to acknowledge that mercy was necessary for the "poor people" who were "suckered" into credit card use who "did not know what they were doing." These are the same people who refused to listen to calls for mercy while meddling with castrating criminalizing destroying amending the Bankruptcy Code. Hmmm. Mercy for abused home-buyers, no mercy for abusive credit card users. Anyone know what the difference is between 2005 and 2008? Anyone? Beuller? Beuller? That's right, 2008 is an election year. I checked last night: McCain voted for the Bankruptcty reform bill; Obama voted against it.

Third: A very conservative friend of mine--let's call him "Bob"--was talking with me and others the other day. As we talked, our discussion turned to politics. Unfortunately. This very conservative friend--Bob--voiced his stance: "I'm voting for Obama. No question in my mind." As we all knew his typically-conservative stance on life, we were all taken aback. Bob said, "I just think he's the candidate that can 'bring us all together.'" {Aside: This one is definitely a post topic of its own.} As another of my friends began to badger Bob, Bob merely shook his head and said, "Don't bother me with facts; I already know who I'm voting for." I became frightened. Now: I have not yet made up my own mind as to who will be receiving my vote, although I do know at least one person that will NOT receiving my vote, and while I have strong feelings about Senator Obama, that was not the source of my fright." Don't bother me with facts." Ugh. The very thought that people can and do exercise their right to vote without wanting to know any facts about the candidate, the issues, etc.... THAT frightens me. Sure, you have the right to do so, but the rest of us have to suffer for your stubborn stupidity! Ahem. Sorry. Lost control there for a minute. In all truthfulness, I really do not care whether you vote for Obama, McCain, or Joseph Stalin for President, so long as you do informed while you do it. This is not March Madness, where you can pick a team based on its school colors or the designs of the uniforms. Just get informed. Please.

Fourth: I found out this morning that, for the first time, this blog came up in a Google search for... well, what can only be described as "bviously puerile and titillating information." I shuddered. Actually, I may have thrown up in my mouth a little bit. Yeah. There's a milestone.

UPDATE: And then I go and name today's post what I did. The first one was an accident; now I am just looking for trouble, aren't I? Well, maybe someone will look at one of my blogposts instead of their naughty pictures and I will have done someone some good today.


Fifth: Not to sound too goulish, but I have to express a little bit of gratitude for the economic downturn. I truly feel sorry for those who are suffering, particularly those who are completely innocent in the fate in which they find themselves. That being said, I have been nice and busy for the past three weeks at the office. "Frantic" may be a better word. Maybe now is the time to find out just how much the Boss values me. Heh. If only he was in town.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Sacramental Blunders

Melanie over at The Write Stuff has inspired me today. The stories of cultural horrification. Horrendous but hilarious happenings at cultural events.

While the majority of the comments involved public, secular events (dances, concerts, plays, and the like), it occurred to me that these things happen at sacred events as well.

It put me instantly in mind of a man in our LDS Ward. I am pretty sure that every ward has one of these gentlemen. He is a man who has no grasp of the concept of "volume" where the human voice is involved. He also has issues with common sense courtesy. He is also the one that can be counted on to stand in Sunday School and somehow inevitably bring up topics of questionable doctrinal value and/or truth. "Did Adam have a belly-button" anyone?

You know exactly who I mean, do you not?

Several months ago, just as the first counselor in the Bishopric stood up to begin Sacrament Meeting, and the organist stopped playing the prelude music--in that brief moment of relative silence, a cell phone went off.

Yep. It was this gentleman's phone. He was sitting five rows from the front of the chapel.

He answered the phone and began talking. Not whispering. Talking. The first counselor waited for five or ten seconds for the gentleman to stop talking and hang up.

It quickly became obvious that he was not going to finish his conversation quickly. It was also quickly apparent that it was his absent wife calling him from home. "Yes, we're in Sacrament Meeting." "Yes, I'm in the Chapel." "No, I told them you were sick and they gave me a copy of the lesson." "No, I'll be home when it's over."

After the first ten seconds, the gentleman fell silent and the first counselor figured he could start the meeting. As he worked his way through the announcements, however, he found himself competing with this brother's conversation. "Next week will be a...." "Yes, it looks like I'll have to fly to Florida after all." "Then on the 14th the youth will be...." "No, I'll pack tomorrow morning. It will be OK."

This literally went on for the first three minutes of the meeting.

(Interestingly, Dallin H. Oaks just now made the point in General Conference that Sacrament Meetings were not a place for whispered conversations on cell phones. I would assume that included conversations that were not whispered.)

After competing with this brother for three minutes--even raising his voice to try and be heard over him (and with the Bishop increasing the volume on the microphone), the first counselor finally just stopped. He stopped talking completely. The only sound was this brother's talking.

The pause was pregnant.

Everyone waited; everyone listened; heads were shaking and members were trying not to laugh out loud.

He finally--obliviously--finished up his conversation with a loud, "I love you too." He hung up and the first counselor waited five beats before progressing.

To this day I am convinced that this brother is completely clueless about having stopped Sacrament Meeting cold.

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