Thursday, December 03, 2009

We Did It!


At 10:30 p.m. Monday it was official!

Myself, my LW, and three of the Horde all reached our NaNoWriMo goals. Between us there were over 136,000 words of fiction written in our little home over the past 30 days. That's over 4,500 words per day.

That is a lot of writing, typing, and creative energy.

There was some real garbage put out (at least on my part) but there was some really brilliant writing put out too (that would be my LW and the Hordelings).

There were dwarves, elves, and dragons. There were some detectives, some spaceships, and a little time travel thrown in. There was teenage angst and middle-aged regret. There was even some introspection done. There was definitely pain: mental, emotional, and physical. If I am not mistaken, there was also a visit from Yoda and a few other Star Wars characters.

Congratulations to my family! I am so proud of all of you!

...and somewhat relieved that November is over for another 11 months.

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Goodbye to mormonblogs

Recently (as in, this morning) a group of conservative-minded individuals who run The Spirit of the Law was removed and banned by the administrator of mormonblogs, a blogroll with supposedly LDS-oriented leanings.

The reason given was because of constant "screeds" against the sitting, duly-elected President of the United States.

Wow.

Essentially the same thing that those on the left did for the past eight straight years against the sitting, duly-elected President of the United States.

Back then, it was claimed to be patriotism. Now, apparently, it is un-Christlike.

The other reason is that the "Spirit of the Law"vians supposedly claim those who disagree with them are "unworthy" members. (Of course, the fact that if this claim is ever made, it is after the name-calling has already started from the other side.)

I am, frankly, amazed at the narrow-mindedness from a blogroll that applauds open-mindedness.

I suppose I should not be too surprised, however. In the past, I have considered asking for my blog to be taken from the mormonblogs blogroll because I have not really been wanting to be associated with some of the more common blogs on that site.

Now I am considering it again. To ban that blog for fairly reasoned, although sometimes overly-passionate, question-and-answer commentary is amazing. Especially considering the screeds I have read concerning George W. Bush prior to the election, the ramapant militant feminism, the (apparently) commonly-held ideals by many of the bloggers on the blogroll that you should not agree with the Prophet or the Brethren on anything (regardless of whether you have prayed about it or not) because that is simply blind obedience....

Shall I go on?

The common, popular blogs all use fairly reasoned, although sometimes overly-passionate question-and-answer commentary. I have frequently seen some of these blogs, or their readers, question the worthiness, or spirituality of anyone who "tows the party line."

It appears that, to be listed on Mormonblogs, it is OK to question the Gospel, the Prophet, and the US President so long as you disagree, disagree, and agree respectively. It is OK to question and drip venom, so long as it is against the approved targets. Politics is OK to discuss, so long as you have the approved politics.

That kind of "open-mindedness" is A-OK in their book. Any others need not apply.

(I should not paint with such a broad brush, I guess. There are a few harmless blogs that actually attempt to spread the Gospel, or a missionary message, and for those I am grateful. It is simply too bad they are swallowed up in the dank morass made by the others. There is a reason I have not visited for months and intend not to visit the blogroll any longer.)

Of course, if the "banning" of the website gets rid of some of the small number of lunatics (who are, I suspect, the ones who have complained to Ms. Angela at the blogroll) then maybe it is a good thing. I suspect several of them were simply using multiple aliases to seem to be a larger and more vocal group. I recommend all of my readers who are so-inclined to check out The Spirit of the Law and make up their own minds.

I had considered requesting removal of my blog in the past. But nope. I am no longer considering it.

It has been done. Apparently freedom of speech only slants one way on mormonblogs.

Good luck with your own favorite screeds, Angela. Hopefully they will keep you warm at night.

No hard feelings.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Literary U-Turn

Well, it happened.

I hate my characters and my novel.

I hate them enough that I am dropping it like a hot potato.

That's right. I am now 16,000 words in. I have been stalled for several days because I just cannot stand the people in my head, and I woke up this morning with a new book flooding into my brain.

The characters in my first attempt are SO bad that I was better able to channel dialogue for one of my wife's characters than dialogue and actions for three characters who have been nurtured in my head for months. Oh, yeah... all I know about my wife's character is his name and approximate age.

So. I am going from a dark, gritty fantasy novel to what I picture as an urban fantasy, alternate-modern novel with a lighter comedic edge. And I have 10 days.

For those with a public-school education, that comes out to be 5,000 words per day.

Can I do it? I think so.

Will I? I hope so.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009

I'm scared of Hallowe'en this year.

Not because my office building may be haunted by two or more spirits.

Not because my neighborhood is populated by zombies, ghouls, and at least one vampire.

It's because on the day after Hallowe'en, or All Saints' Day, IT begins.

NaNoWriMo 2009.



National Novel Writing Month.

I did it last year.

It's taken me nearly a full year to recover my will and desire to really, REALLY write again.

And now this. Self-imposed slavish speculative scribbling.

I still have nightmares from last year.

But as I sit here, I'm again sharpening my pencils and filling my pens with fresh ink.

As I travel from home to the office, from the office to court, and back again, my mind races over plots, characters, dialogue, and, oh yeah.... "plot."

50,000 words staring me in the face and I do not yet have a story.

I have nine days.

And no story.

It is going to be painful. I know that.

And yet...bring it on.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Back From Vacation

Yeah. This is what my loyal readers get after my vacation.

A time-wasting test.

But still a fun one!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Which Character, Part II

You Scored as Gimli

Gimli = 83%

Gandalf = 67%
Boromir = 60%
Merry = 60%
Sam = 60%
Eomer = 57%
Frodo = 53%
Legolas = 50%
Aragorn = 47%
Saruman = 43%
Pippin = 43%
Gollum = 40%
Elrond = 30%
Sauron = 30%

Unfortunately this quiz gives you neither a picture of the character nor a description of qualities/personality traits. (I had to go searching for my own picture.) I would sure like to know which qualities I share with Gimli (or what qualities the test's algorythimic creator believes that I share with Gimli).

Oddly enough, Gimli is my favorite character. I will always believe that Peter Jackson performed an injustice by making Gimli the comic relief in the last two films, but there you have it. No-one asked me for my input.

I, for one, am proud to be connected in some small, insignificant, ridiculous way with such a stalwart hero.

"Baruk Khazââd! Khazââd ai-mêênu!"
('Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!')

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Which Character?



Yoda: A venerated sage with vast power and knowledge, you gently guide forces around you while serving as a champion of the light.

Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not - for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, and binds us. Luminescent beings are we, not this crude matter! You must feel the Force around you, everywhere.

Yoda is a is a character in the Star Wars universe. More Yoda information is available at the Star Wars Databank.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quote of the Day -- August 20, 2009

“I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you’re not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.”
Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton (D. NY)
I am sorry, but for 7+ years I decried the Republican's attempts to smackdown any and all who criticized President Bush, the war, etc. I may not have agreed with all of what was said, but I recognized and defended their right to say it.

The same holds true with the current criticism of the current administration.

At least it should.

But we all know it does not hold true. And if you say differently, while I recognize your right to say it, you are either lying, deluded, or misinformed.

Yeah. It's a harsh thing to say.

But look around. Show me where all those people were screaming about how patriotic were their anti-war commentaries, how "truly" American were their anti-American screeds. Where are they? Most of them are now decrying any who disagree with the President as anti-American, stupid, liars, "corporate shills," or worse.

If you stood up for 7 years screaming vitriol about Bush being a Nazi -- or Hitler himself -- and claimed a First Amendment right to do so, I am not telling you to shut your mouth. I am simply saying that you had darn well better acknowledge the same right for others now.

Otherwise, you're simply a hypocrite.

And you look really stupid, too.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Quote of the Day -- August 19, 2009

They hate us with every fiber of their existence. We love freedom. We love independence -- to feel, to question, to resist oppression. To them, it's an alien way of existing they will never accept."
Adama, commander of the Battlestar "Galactica"
A deep and salient thought from the one and true Commander Adama regarding the reasons why the Cylons wish the subjugation and/or destruction of the human race. (Aside: From the original series, of course. Lorne Greene could whup Edward Olmos' behind with one arm tied behind his back any day of the week and twice on Saturdays.)

Bonus Quotes of the Day:
"Ma'am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it." -- Rep. Barney Frank (D. Mass.), 2009.

"Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.” -- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D. Cal.), 2009.

"The Republicans, they have no interest in this Bill. They’re using the 1994 playbook. Let’s kill the bill and kill the president ... or, kill the president’s term. Although there are sort of angry people out there I get very nervous about this stuff. I don’t like it at all." -- Howard Dean (Nobody), 2009.

And this, I think, proves a fitting conclusion to today's post: A quote from our own Imperious Leader President:

"I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess." -- Pres. Barack Hussein Obama, 2009.

By your command... over my dead body.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
As far as I can tell, this Amendment is not party-specific.

So get your red-eyed, jack-booted robots SEIU/ACORN thugs out of my way and out of my countrymen's way and let us exercise our freedom.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quote of the Day -- August 13, 2009

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
The Federalist, Number 47
It was true enough for the Republicans.

It is true enough for the Democrats.

No wonder they are all so scared of the Founders' words.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nope. Not Mighty Mouse!

I am sorry.

But even if it gets me put on a list somewhere, this is dang funny stuff.

Unfortunately, thanks to the state of the Country and the Future, it is probably close to being morbidly humorous (also known as "black humor" but I have to be careful about that term, don't I?).

Add to that the fact that, for many, he IS a Superhero.

Talk about a fantasy.

But I still have a First Amendment right, dagnabbit! So sit back and enjoy:

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Face of Evil

Today I came face to face with evil.

Evil, actually, with the capital "E."

Background: When the clients come in to sign their cases, I have usually met with them several times to answer questions, etc. After they're done signing I will meet with them so that they can ask any final questions, discuss any finer points of their case for the last time before filing, as well as to explain once again the bankruptcy process and the time-line.

This particular couple was signing their case and reviewing their paperwork. My receptionist came into my office with a warning that he was going to have questions about how to account for his charitable contributions. She is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and so does not really understand all the lingo, vocabulary, and ins-and-outs, so she did not question his statement that he was a "card-carrying member" of the Church, and allegedly showed her his card.

Now, I am not sure what kind of card he showed her, exactly, but when he told her that he pays tithing not to the LDS Church, but a Church of his own founding, I had to start questioning the situation. After doing a little digging on the internet, I found out that this man had been excommunicated fifteen years ago; I could not find a reason or explanation for the excommunication other than that he no longer felt the Church was teaching the Gospel, and had not for over one hundred years. He is also a self-proclaimed prophet and discounts any authority held by any prophet following Joseph Smith.

It was a troubling and disturbing experience--literally an anti-Church screed. I have read anti-LDS materials before, but this was completely different than anything else I had read. The vitriol poured from my computer screen.

He spends a lot of time bemoaning his situation and calls himself a lone voice in the wilderness. What he is from all indications ia an anti-Christ.

Not "THE" but "AN" anti-Christ.

Just so we are clear, I will define my terms. Anti-Christ: An opponent to Christ, the Gospel, and His Church.

He reminded me of Korihor, except that he proclaimed a belief in Christ. Of course, it was not the Christ I know and love. I would argue that this doesn't preclude him from being an anti-Christ. Yes, it's an odd argument, but one can believe in Christ and still work against him. One can believe in "a" Christ and still work against his true Gospel and against His Church.

I wasn't online long enough to discover any of his in-depth issues with the Church, but I was there long enough to start to feel the darkness gather in my office.

Then I brought the couple into my little office for our chat.

All of the Light in my office vanished. Against my will, my nature, my judgment, and my normal custom, I became extremely nervous that he would see my Scriptures on my credenza or my Temple picture on the shelf. I have never -- NEVER -- been ashamed or embarrassed of these objects and I was not today. Rather, I did not want a confrontation; I simply wanted him out of my office immediately.

He started our chat with the information that he had been excommunicated, as if he were proud of it. He probably was and is, come to think of it. The conversation went downhill from there. The room filled with a spiritual darkness the longer he talked, a darkness like I have never felt before. It may sound corny or melodramatic...unless you have actually felt it, experienced it.

I have no idea what I told him or what we discussed. I do remember that I had difficulty thinking and formulating thoughts and words. And it was not simply distraction; it was a physical difficulty.

I do not want to spend much more time on this story; perhaps I have already said too much. I left the office right after they did and found myself having to take extreme measures to cast away the darkness. It was quite a while before I felt better.

Satan is real.

He is not a cartoon character, he is not a "concept."

He is real.

I think that I have felt the tiniest bit of what the Prophet Joseph describes in the account of the First Vision.

Again, Satan is real. His servants are everywhere and they are cunning.

But the good news? We have the Truth and the Light on our side; so long as we are on the Lord's side, we can have hope and look to Him for guidance and protection.

The Light will triumph and prevail, of this I have faith. Good will conquer Evil; Good is stronger than Evil, always.

Christ is my Redeemer and my Savior. He is real; He lives. His people shall ultimately overcome the world and have eternal life and exaltation.

There will be no more Darkness. Only Light. His Light. All He asks is that we come unto Him and follow His word.

It is just that easy.

This is my testimony to you, in His name.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Apparently, I need to get out a bit more.


visited 23 states (46%)
Create your own visited map of The United States


visited 10 states (4.44%)
Create your own visited map of The World

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Rest in Peace, America

We lost two entertainment icons last week. Farrah and Michael. May they rest in peace.

America may be history as well. But more on that in a moment.

The loss of any human life is, at its most basic, a tragedy. There is some tragedy in how these two lived their lives, but I am not going to belabor that or lessen the impact their deaths have had on their families. Whatever you think of them, they were human beings, plain and simple.

What I will do, however, is excoriate the mainstream media for forcing it down our throats, non-stop. EVERYTHING on cable programming yesterday afternoon was about the death of Michael Jackson. Everything. I think I even saw him on a Beverly Hillbillies re-run, although I may be mistaken on that point.

I had to literally search for something -- anything -- that discussed the outcome of the vote on the biggest tax attack perpetrated upon the American People. I mean, of course, the so-called cap and trade "HR.2454: Title: To create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy.

Politically-correct Global Warming crap.

Even the local news spent more time trying to link Michael Jackson's life, somehow, however tenuously, to our little town than they did reporting on how our representatives voted on the cap and tax scheme.

You see, the mainstream media and the Washington insiders did not want the American people to focus on this bill. They knew that there was grave danger to the bill if the people really stood up and took notice.

So what did they do?

What do you do when you take a young toddler to get his or her picture taken? What do you do in church when the same child starts to fuss because you've taken something away from him or her?

You distract them.

You use the squeaky duck toy. You jingle your bright, shiny keys in front of them. Anything to get them to forget the camera or the fragile book you want to get away from their grasp.

At first, I believed that South Carolina Governor Sanford's saga was the shiny thing. After all, why make such a big deal over a person -- even though a Governor -- disappearing to hike in the mountains? I think I would do the same thing if I were in public office: just disappear and be by myself. I did not blame him in the least. But remember how the media kept harping and harping on how horrible it was that he would just "disappear"?

The jingling had started.

Then it was revealed he'd actually been in Argentina, not the Appalachian Trail. Even then, I must say, I was still on his side.

The jingling got louder.

Then it was revealed that the married Governor had left his wife at home and traveled to meet up with his Argentinian girlfriend. Whoops. I jumped off his bandwagon at that point. But the media kept harping and harping, louder and louder.

I think at some point I may have seen a big squeaking bunny toy on the lecturn next to Governor Sanford. Honest.

He looked a bit like Harvey, actually.

I don't blame the criticism of the Governor on this issue. After all, your wife should be the most important part of your life. If you're willing to cheat on that, if your wife means as little to you as that, what are your constituents? "Governor" is just a job, after all is said and done. If I was a South Carolinian, I would feel abused and cheated upon. I would want him run out of the Capitol on a rail.

I still believe that he was the intended "shiny thing." It was all a bit too convenient, timing-wise.

But can you tell me any man in America more grateful at the passing of Michael Jackson? Really? OK, granted, it's a pretty tactless thing to say or think.... But Michael's death (and to a much lesser extent Farrah's death) knocked Sanford right off the front page.

Jingle. Jingle. Look at the shiny keys, Little Darlings.

Unfortunately it appears as the deaths of these two human beings has become the latest "shiny thing" held up and jingled in front of the public to distract them from the more important things in life.

Come to think of it, we lost an "infotainment" icon this morning as well. Mr. Billy Mays. You may not know his name (I did not) -- after all, he's just an infomercial frontman -- but you'll remember him as the pitchman for Oxi-Clean and OrangeGlo, the guy with the big beard and loud, annoying voice. Rest in peace, Billy.

But take notice: an awful lot of attention is being paid to his passing. He was the pitchman for cleaning products in infomercials, for crying out loud. No disrespect intended for the newly-departed, but does he really warrant the barrage of coverage his death is getting? What accounts for this press coverage?

In my opinion, it's simple: the American Sheeple need first to be distracted from the passage of the cap-and-trade fiasco. They do not want you to know about the 300-page amendment that was added to the bill at the last minute.

They do not want you to know that, under this bill, if you sell your house, an environmental group is required to come out and "rate" your house, and you will not be allowed to sell your house until you "modernize" your appliances and have a certified "green" home. Liberty? You rest in peace, will you?

Jingle. Jingle. Jingle.

I am willing to bet that the conspiracy-theorists out there are having a field day. Michael and Billy both die under strange and still-unexplained circumstances? Anyone see the Men in Black around their homes?

Jingle. Jingle. Jingle, JINGLE.

I will be willing to bet there is more -- much more -- coming down the pike that will require further distractions.

What will those distractiosn be? It is anybody's guess at this point.

Rest in peace, Farrah, Michael, and Billy. Rest in peace. At least they do not have to worry about all this any longer. Just rest in peace.

And apparently, I may as well say this while I have my First Amendment right to do so: Rest in peace, America.

At least, the Free America I once knew and loved.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Simply Harry Potter

OK. I know that in my last post I may have indirectly heaped trash on the name of J.K. Rowling.

I swear I heard gasping, because there are so many for whom reading Rowling is nigh-unto worship.

That's why I have been reluctant to admit to you all that in the past nine days I re-read all seven Harry Potter novels. Yep. The entire series. Started on June 7 and ended last night.

It was an enjoyable little jaunt.

I am not going to take back my scorn, however.

And I am going to offend some people.

Yeah, I hear you saying that at least she's published. That people know who she is and who am I to criticize her. I understand all that.

I will admit the books are a somewhat pleasant diversion. But they are just that. There is no deeper meaning to them, although I am sure that the typical liberal-arts loving English professor could deconstruct them and find hidden meaning galore, if not The True Meaning Of Life. (Yes, capitalized even.) I tried last night as I was finishing up The Deathly Hallows. Surely there's a message there about learning the truth about your heroes, some warning to children not to look up to or trust adults, because there's always some hidden evil in their background. That was as close as I got, and if I am right -- if that was intended -- well then, J.K. Rowling should be ashamed of herself.

But see, I am of the opinion -- the STRONG opinion that these books are not children's books. I do not care what kind of marketing strategy or philosophy involved, these are not children's books. In fact, I am ready to argue that allowing a child to read some of these books may be akin to child abuse, or at least indifference to the child's mental/emotional welfare and well-being.

We will not discuss the movies, because I gave up caring after the second one.

But I remember being in a grocery store years ago and watching in disgusted amazement as a three-year-old child pointed at a Harry Potter balloon and called out "Harry Potter! Harry Potter!"

A three-year-old child has NO business knowing who Harry Potter is.

And I am not sure that anyone under the age of mid-teens should know either. My teenager has not read them yet, and has not suffered any ill effects. She may in fact be able to live without reading them; the jury is still out on that one, though. Some sudden attack of fatal lackofpotteritis may yet prove to be her undoing.

Do not get me wrong: I am not going to make the argument of witchcraft and sorcery being peddled to our young. Others have made this argument, that is their prerogative. My thinking? They are fantasy novels. Not reality. Heck, outside of my spiritual endeavors, I spend most of my life in a fantasy world. [Aside: What? You think lawyers are sane individuals fully functioning in reality? I beg to differ.] I cannot take too much umbrage with this point. After all, Gandalf did magic. So did Willy Wonka.

No, I have different issues with Ms. Rowling's works. First and foremost, there is very little pure good represented in the books. Pure evil? Sure, it is everywhere; it saturates her little universe and it pours off the page. But pure good? I challenge you to point to ten major characters that are examples of pure, unadulterated, unquestioned goodness in the novels. No fair using animals: Hedwig and the owls do not count. Neither does Fawkes. I'll start the list, though these should probably be qualified as supporting cast:
1. Hagrid. Hagrid is an innocent and I am hardpressed to remember any specifically bad intentional act. The other characters treat Hagrid with pity, in part because he just doesn't seem as smart as they are.
2. Arthur and Molly Weasley. Again, innocents without any memorable bad intentional act. Again, well-meaning, but portrayed as slightly pitiable or less-intelligent. In fact, I could probably lump Bill and perhaps Charlie Weasley in here as well, but they are even more minor characters than their parents and, as such, perhaps do not warrant inclusion in the discussion at all.
3. Luna Lovejoy. Possibly. Her name just came to me; I will have to reserve judgment unless and until I can remember any specifics. But here again, an innocent that everyone considers to be slightly off-kilter or insane (or stupid).
4. Professor Minerva McGonagall. Again, she just came to me. I will have to think on her. She may be an exception to this list, as she is strong and intelligent.
5. Neville Longbottom. Another innocent. Another slightly off-kilter, slightly less-intelligent member of the cast.

See a trend? The only arguably purely good characters in the books are those that are innocent, naive, and possibly not intelligent. That's a nice portrayal; nice message to send to kids. "Hey, son! Why can't you act more like Neville Longbottom, eh?"

No, the main protaganists -- and by this I mean Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore -- none of these are as unequivocally good as Voldemort is unequivocally evil. The Dark Lord has no direct counterpart. Dumbledore has a dark side and has done bad things. Harry and Ron waffle back and forth; they are not examples of pure good. Harry's soul is certainly not as lily-white as Voldemort's soul is midnight-black.

After the whole "peddling-these-books-to-kids" issue, this is my main beef with the books. There is pure good in this world. There is also pure evil. If you are going to acquaint readers with evil, especially if you are going to market to children and acquaint impressionable children with the concept of pure evil, then you better darn well be willing and prepared to acquaint them with the concept of pure good.

Plus, I simply cannot accept these as "great" literature. They are pleasant distractions. They cannot -- no matter how loud the groundlings scream -- compare to Shakespeare. Dickens. Twain. Rand. Do not try and argue; one hundred years from now, two hundred? Will Harry Potter be remembered? Will he be taught in AP English classes? Who's to say? Perhaps our standards are indeed that low. They're already suggested reading in elementary school. [Aside: We actually considered a private school for our oldest when she was ready to start school. The fact that the classrooms displayed posters of Harry Potter and Star Wars actually helped convince us to homeschool. Yes, even with a Star Wars-nerd father. There has to be a line in Education. That is a rant for another day, though.] I hope our standards -- not just as Americans, but as a civilization as a whole -- are not this low; I truly hope not. If she is our day's Shakespeare, we may as well simply throw in the towel.

I hear you saying that Shakespeare wrote to entertain, to satisfy the groundlings. Yes, but he did so with style, skill, and art. While Rowling uses magic as a subject, there is little or no magic in her words. Want to argue? Give me a passage with as much feeling and meaning as these:

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
The Bard distills the essence of what makes up a man: the inherent goodness. And he does so with skill, art, and brevity. In the approximately 3,000 pages of the series, she cannot make Harry -- or, truly, any character -- fit this profile, let alone describe anything with this manner of magnificent prose.

I have actually read a review saying, "This [the fact that the characters, good and evil, are developed in such a way that they are, well, not simply good or evil] is perhaps Rowling's greatest achievement in the book. While the series can be described as an epic tale between good and evil, the individuals involved are not so easily defined." This is said as PRAISE of the books. [Aside: what adds a twist to this review was that it came from socialistworker.org. And yes, it was a random search; I just happened across it. In fact, now that I think about it, there's a whole host of blog entries on the fact that self-proclaimed socialists thrill over the blurring of the lines between good and evil. But I will leave that for another day. I do not want to discuss politics right now.] Sure... it may be an epic tale between good and evil, but it is one without a heck of a lot of real good shining out.

In these dark times, do we not deserve to treat ourselves to a little real good now and then?

And do not our children also deserve it? In fact, is it possible that they deserve it even more?

I know, it's a work of fiction. Why am I getting so riled up?

In part because it is a work of fiction. It is not literature.

Rowling's books surely cannot be part of the works of the Ages. If they are, well, I guess we deserve what we get.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Quote of the Day -- June 10, 2009

Seems, madam! Nay, it is; I know not ‘seems.’
’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forc’d breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected haviour of the visage,
Together with all forms, modes, shows of grief,
That can denote me truly; these indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play:
But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act I, Scene ii.

And to think that at one point in my life I thought this was detestable drivel. As I think I have stated here before, I will be forever grateful to a High School teacher, and later two Professors, that instilled in me a love for Shakespeare.

Now, I cannot understand how anyone cannot read this and not say, "wow."

I am trying to instill in my own children a love of Shakespeare early in their lives. It seems to be working, too. I am grateful and hopeful; I see so many others, even within my own extended family (nieces, nephews, cousins) who simply turn up their nose at Shakespeare but drool over the latest from JK Rowling, Danielle Steele, or [shudder] Nora Roberts Stephenie Meyer. And that's when they can even be bothered to pick up a book at all.

Thank you, public education. Well done. Yet another reason to Home School.

Needless to say, when I read or hear something like this passage, I am embarrassed to even pick up a pen to put to paper. Oh that my best could someday equal The Bard's worst.

Finally, I wonder: am I the only one that reads this (and reads it aloud) for fun? I hope not.

OK. I am a nerd.

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Which Fantasy Author Am I?

Took this test: HERE.

Urg. Not pleased with the results. Too late to go into it tonight, though. More thoughts later....

Your result for Which fantasy writer are you?...

China Miéville (b. 1972)

7 High-Brow, 3 Violent, -3 Experimental and -31 Cynical!


Congratulations! You are High-Brow, Violent, Traditional and Romantic! These concepts are defined below.


China Miéville writes in the British fantasy tradition of authors like Mervyn Peake and Michael Moorcock, a tradition which is a little darker than the Tolkien kind, but Miéville is also a great renewer, as he has taken care to challenge, for example, race-related (or, to be exact, species-related) stereotypes in fantasy. His great breakthrough came with the award-winning novel Perdido Street Station (2000), which is set in the sprawling city of New Crobuzon in the secondary world Bas-Lag. Apart from its urban setting, Perdido Street Station also differ from Tolkien-style fantasy by taking place in an era reminiscent of the Victorian age rather than the typical quasi-medieval setting of so-called high fantasy. This means that Miéville has the opportunity to explore his socialist beliefs in a fantasy environment, even if both Perdido Street Station and its two sequels also feature monsters, adventures and such.


Setting his book in a rather dictatorical society and occasionally spinning his sories around resistance against an oppressive government means that Miéville's books sometimes contain rather horrible violence, made all the scarier because it's often conducted legally by a ruling government. This also makes the boks rather romantic; although the struggle is difficult, the struggle continues and whether you are a socialist like Miéville or not, it's easy to sympathize with the message that the world can be changed for the better. It should also be pointed out that although Miéville is often inventive and has a love for spicing up his prose with archaic words, his books are, narratively speaking, traditional adventure stories. Actually, Miéville has made a point of taking genres such as the pirate story and the Western story and retelling them in a fantasy environment.


Still, Miéville has brought fantasy to new literary heights and can be said to represent hope for the genre's future.



You are also a lot like Michael Moorcock.


If you want something more gentle, try Susan Cooper.


If you'd like a challenge, try your exact opposite, Orson Scott Card.


Your score


This is how to interpret your score: Your attitudes have been measured on four different scales, called 1) High-Brow vs. Low-Brow, 2) Violent vs. Peaceful, 3) Experimental vs. Traditional and 4) Cynical vs. Romantic. Imagine that when you were born, you were in a state of innocence, a tabula rasa who would have scored zero on each scale. Since then, a number of circumstances (including genetical, cultural and environmental factors) have pushed you towards either end of these scales. If you're at 45 or -45 you would be almost entirely cynical, low-brow or whatever. The closer to zero you are, the less extreme your attitude. However, you should always be more of either (eg more romantic than cynical). Please note that even though High-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Cynical have positive numbers (1 through 45) and their opposites negative numbers (-1 through -45), this doesn't mean that either quality is better. All attitudes have their positive and negative sides, as explained below.


High-Brow vs. Low-Brow


You received 7 points, making you more High-Brow than Low-Brow. Being high-browed in this context refers to being more fascinated with the sort of art that critics and scholars tend to favour, rather than the best-selling kind. At their best, high-brows are cultured, able to appreciate the finer nuances of literature and not content with simplifications. At their worst they are, well, snobs.


Violent vs. Peaceful


You received 3 points, making you more Violent than Peaceful. Please note that violent in this context does not mean that you, personally, are prone to violence. This scale is a measurement of a) if you are tolerant to violence in fiction and b) whether you see violence as a means that can be used to achieve a good end. If you are, and you do, then you are violent as defined here. At their best, violent people are the heroes who don't hesitate to stop the villain threatening innocents by means of a good kick. At their worst, they are the villains themselves.



Experimental vs. Traditional



You received -3 points, making you more Traditional than Experimental. Your position on this scale indicates if you're more likely to seek out the new and unexpected or if you are more comfortable with the familiar, especially in regards to culture. Note that traditional as defined here does not equal conservative, in the political sense. At their best, traditional people don't change winning concepts, favouring storytelling over empty poses. At their worst, they are somewhat narrow-minded.



Cynical vs. Romantic



You received -31 points, making you more Romantic than Cynical. Your position on this scale indicates if you are more likely to be wary, suspicious and skeptical to people around you and the world at large, or if you are more likely to believe in grand schemes, happy endings and the basic goodness of humankind. It is by far the most vaguely defined scale, which is why you'll find the sentence "you are also a lot like x" above. If you feel that your position on this scale is wrong, then you are probably more like author x. At their best, romantic people are optimistic, willing to work for a good cause and inspiring to their peers. At their worst, they are easily fooled and too easily lead.


Author picture by the talented artist "Molosovsky". Visit http://www.flickr.com/people/25360041@N06/ for more!



Take Which fantasy writer are you?
at HelloQuizzy


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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Quote of the Day -- June 2, 2009

"The nation which had once held the creed that greatness is achieved by production, is now told that it is achieved by squalor." -- Ayn Rand

I am currently reading Atlas Shrugged for the first time. Glenn Beck first recommended it to his listeners, oh, about a year ago. It has taken me this long to work it through my reading list.

I would highly recommend it to anyone.

It will scare your socks off.

At times it is closer to reading the news than reading a novel, especially a novel written fifty years ago.

It will show you exactly where we, as a country and as a world, are headed.

I plan on blogging on this a bit later, once I have finished the book. [Aside: do not worry, it should not take too long; I pounded through over 400 pages Sunday night alone. Right now I stand about 220 pages from the end.] Let me simply state the assertion right now and I will revisit it later: Ayn Rand was either prescient or a genius regarding the human, governmental, and societal minds.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bliss and Embarrassment

Embarrassment because it's been two months since my last post.

Unfortunately, my blogpression is even deeper than I feared and still has me tight in its grasp. I hardly ever even read my favorite blogs any longer. Would that make them my once-favorite blogs? Perhaps technically.

I just don't seem to have much joy anymore. Certainly no bliss.

Don't get me wrong: my LW and the Horde are a joy. Even the noise they make -- as hard as it is on my usually-aching head at the end of the day -- is music. They are my life and, honestly, the only thing that keeps me going some days.

All right, you caught me: most days.

I sat in my car this morning in the parking lot for several long minutes. All I could do was sit there, thinking, dreading the day. It took every ounce of physical strength and mental/emotional will power to leave the car and walk the fifteen steps into the building. Every minute today was torture. Not "Nancy Pelosi woe is me I voted for water-boarding before I voted against it even though it gets results and really is not considered torture compared to what the enemy does to our soldiers" kind of torture. More "being forced to listen to Nancy Pelosi read Maya Angelou poetry" kind of torture or "simply being forced to be in the same room as Nancy Pelosi" kind of torture.

And it is getting worse every day.

So back to my embarrassment: I hope that the readers I have will not have given up hope on me. I am trying; really, I am, despite all appearances.

I say I have little joy. That is not to say I do not have hope: I cannot blame my blogpression on the country's turbo-powered faster-than-light descent into Hell slavery economic destruction Socialism, even though it appears that the vast majority of those in Washington, D.C. -- on both sides of the aisle, mind you -- seem to be using Atlas Shrugged as a game plan for ruining running the country.

[Aside: if you don't understand what I mean, pick yourself up a copy and read it. It's not just fiction anymore. The book's sales have also, in the first four months of 2009, tripled the total sales in all of 2008. Sheep People are waking up out there. Get it. Read it. And ask: "Who is John Galt?"]

No, I am not without hope. Just last month, a Prophet of God, His representative on Earth, Thomas S. Monson, urged the world to be of good cheer and have joy, and to have faith, and to never, never despair.

OK, so, I've already admitted here that I am falling short on good cheer, joy, and despair. Oops.

But I do have faith. And hope. And a loving caring family.

I am striving -- truly I am -- for good cheer, joy, and to remove despair.

I am also striving for my bliss.

"Bliss" has been much on my mind for the past year or so; my buddy JR in Salt Lake has a 50-year-old cousin that I've met a couple times. This is a really down-to-earth man who gave up the practice of law 4 years ago when the bankruptcy laws were changing. He started working with mortgages and saw the writing on the wall LONG before most of the rest of us did. He then dabbled with other areas of the law for a couple of years.

Then, a year ago, he abruptly up and quit to focus on his photography. He's loved photography, as a hobby, since he was in his twenties. JR has sent me examples of his work -- absolutely terrific work. I particularly like his floral work. He did some Olympic photos from the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake that are stunning. One is a composite piece that I haven't seen anywhere else: it shows all the different photo-wrapped buildings, at night, all aglow, with fireworks in the background -- a seamless, amazing piece, even though there is no one spot in the Salt Lake Valley from where he could have taken one photo and show all the buildings.

But I digress.

This is what he does now. My buddy JR says that he's never been happier.

I truly envy him. I have gone to a couple of his shows, not just to give him moral support, not just to revel in the art, but also out of selfishness.

Yep. I think it is an act of selfishness, so that I can feed off that joy of his, to glimpse someone who is truly happy.

I truly cannot imagine anyone in this specialized field of bankruptcy work who is truly happy. No one I know gets any real joy out of it; oh, there are those who seem to enjoy it, but they're always so angry about something and are more confrontational than anything else. I cannot classify that as joy. Even those who are very good at it are certainly not happy or joyful.

Is this what adulthood means? I hope not.

Even when we help someone who truly needs our help, when we truly do Good, those feelings do not last long in the bruising, crushing, daily emotional miasma in which we bankruptcy attorneys live.

I know my friends in Salt Lake, JR and J, are not happy.

I know I'm not.

That's why I'm looking for my "bliss" whenever I have a chance.

I hope one day to find it and throw all this to the wind.

Or, barring that, to hire a junior attorney to do all the work while I manage the firm.

And still hunt for my bliss.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quote of the Day -- Mar.25, 2009

“Get thee glass eyes; / And, like a scurvy politician, seem / To see the things thou dost not.”
--Lear, King Lear, Act IV, s. iv.


Ahhh... The Wisdom of the Bard. Take what you will from these words.

(Aside: And a strong tip of the hat to a certain High School teacher who wake'd my spirit and ope'd my eyes to the beauty that is the language of Shakespeare, and a deep bow to a wizened old elf at University who nursed those newborn feelings into a love of language. Alas, I believe both have now left us alone on the stage.)

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Make Your Own Album Cover

The LW and I have started up our own bands! In fact, we've already got our first albums planned out!

Well, really, I got tagged earlier this week with a fun little random game: Make Your Own Album Cover. I spent an hour or so playing around with this little game and was pleasantly entertained by the results.

O.K. Who am I kidding? I was actually giggling at some of the results. My LW even got into the act. I've posted the best couple album covers below, as well as the instructions so that you can play along.

1. Group name: Go to Wikipedia and click on the random article button (or click here instead). The name of the article, whatever it may be, is the name of your musical group.
2. Album name: Go to www.quotationspage.com and click on "Random Quotes" (or click here instead). Scroll down to the last quotation on the page. The last four or five words of the quotation forms your album name (alright, I did play loose with this one and take the last two words once).
3. Album artwork: Go to Flickr and click on the "last seven days" link (or click here instead). The third picture on the page -- regardless of what it is -- is your album artwork.

Now that you have your three main pieces, put it all together with some form of graphic editing program. I went cheap-o and used Corel Photo House.

These first two are mine. The third is my LW's.




Yeah, yeah.... I said it was cheap software.... So sue me!

Now get out there and form your own bands!


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Monday, March 02, 2009

Stimulus Package Explained!

I received this from my buddy in Salt Lake City today, forwarded from his e-mail. I wish I knew the original author, or knew to whom to attribute this fine explanation of the so-called Stimulus package.

Shortly after class, an economics student approaches his economics professor and says, "I don't understand this stimulus bill. Can you explain it to me?"

The professor replied, "I don't have any time to explain it at my office, but if you come over to my house on Saturday and help me with my weekend progject, I'll be glad to explain it to you." The student agreed.

At the agreed-upon time, the student showed up at the professor's house. The professor handed the student a bucket. Demonstrating with his own bucket, the professor said, "First, go over to the deep end, and fill your bucket with as much water as you can." The student did as he was instructed.

The professor then continued, "Follow me over to the shallow end, and then dump all the water from your bucket into it." The student was naturally confused, but did as he was told.

The professor then explained they were going to do this many more times, and began walking back to the deep end of the pool.

The confused student asked, "Excuse me, but why are we doing this?" The professor matter-of-factly stated that he was trying to make the shallow end much deeper.

The student didn't think the economics professor was serious, but figured that he would find out the real story soon enough. However, after the sixth trip between the shallow end and the deep end, the student began to become worried that his economics professor had gone mad.

The student finally replied, "All we are doing is wasting valuable time and effort on unproductive pursuits. Even worse, when this process is all over, everything will be at the same level it was before, so all you will really have accomplished is the destruction of what could have been truly productive action!"

The professor put down his bucket and replied with a smile, "Congratulations! You now understand the stimulus bill."

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Quote of the Day -- Mar.2, 2009

“Don't try to confuse the issue with half truths and gorilla dust.”
--Bill McNeal, News Radio


There's a lot of half truths and gorilla dust in the media lately. It's kinda causing a resurgence of blogpression, to be honest. Between that and the fact that we have filed more cases this month than any month (per number of days) in the past three years, I have not had time to post much. I regret that and apologize to all of my readers.

Well, that combined with the utter fear to say anything about the O-Messiah for fear of a visit from either the Secret Service or his proposed personal army of brown-shirt enforcers public security forces.

For now, I am still here and everything is all right.

I will be back soon, I promise.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quote of the Day -- Feb.19, 2009

A government big enough to give you everything you want is also a government big enough to take everything you’ve got.
~Gerald Ford, Address to a joint session of Congress (12 August 1974)

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Time Travel

Warning: You may wish not to read this post unless armed with a pair of safety goggles.

Wow. I've lost nearly 60 hours out of my life.

I will tell you: there is nothing quite like a strong bout of stomach-related ills to make time pass quickly.

OK. Maybe "quickly" is the wrong word, because as you are sitting on the floor of the bathroom, holding a cold washcloth to your face and neck, all while... well, you get the idea. While all that is going on, the time passes very very slowly.

No, while that is happening you are fervently praying for a quick death.

But looking back from the other side of illness? Wow. Where did the time go? I had so many blog posts I wanted to make. So much I wanted to do.

And I am not the only one to so suffer. This may actually be a blog-spread stomach virus. Everyone I know has had it, and most of us are bloggers (or at least connected by e-mail). I know two of my close friends in SLC have suffered through the same 60 hours I did. Other bloggers have had it staggered on-and-off around the past week or so.

Sheesh.

Now you know why I recommended the safety goggles. I may be over it, but who knows what contaminants are floating your way via the internet.

Good luck to you and yours.

Keep your head up, and out of --in the words of the Immortal Bill Cosby-- the place that was never meant for your face.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Quote of the Day

"An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."
~Robert Heinlein, "Beyond this Horizon"
I do not tend to agree with many of the Dean's socialist positions. On this one, however, he is spot on.

Thoughts?

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Nuptial Nuttiness

I must start out this entry with an admission: I am a Wal-Mart shopaholic.

The store that everyone loves to hate (at least, everyone says they love to hate) is a guilty pleasure. I have to admit, I like those $5 DVD feature films. I like the cheap t-shirts. I even like the $10 watches.

And really, don't we all like throwing on the hole-filled sweatpants, baggy t-shirt, and flip-flops (yes, in January) to sneak in a shopping trip at 11:30 p.m.?

Please say yes; I can't be the only one.

But a couple in Utah have gone a little too far . . . .

Now, I once spent a great deal of time in Utah. I still consider Utah my home away from home. Too many school memories there, after all, to simply cast away.

But come on, Utah. You need to disavow this couple RIGHT NOW or you very well may be entitled to the name: White Trash Capitol of America.

This story gives "white trash" a whole new name. I am sorry, but it's true.

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — To save money, a Wal-Mart assistant married his sweetheart at his workplace, standing up next to the barbecue accessories in the garden center of the store.

It was the first Wal-Mart wedding for 5th District Judge Eric Ludlow, who administered the vows Saturday at the Bloomington store in St. George.

Wal-Mart auto department employee Greg Scott Ford exchanged vows with Corissa Otto, whom he met two Valentine Days ago.

The marriage makes for a family of nine — she had six children, he had two, and together they have one more.


Many thanks to my buddy JR for this story.

---UPDATE---
O.K. After reading a bit more of the story, I guess I have to dial it back a bit. It seems they truly are victims of the economy.

But still . . . is a visit to the Justice of the Peace more expensive than this?

Different strokes, I suppose, is the best answer.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Crisis? Really?

All we have heard since November 2008 is the worsening state of the country's economy. All we have heard for the past two weeks is how the passage of the stimulus spendulous package was critical for the survival of the country, essential to stem the coming catastrophe, and likely the only thing to keep Satan's gateway from Hell from opening and allowing a demonic possession of the entire Earth. Something akin to Gozer crawling out of a New York refrigerator and ultimately causing a marshmallow explosion of epic proportions.

O.K. Maybe the last was a bit of hyperbole.

Maybe.

But now what are we hearing?

From Reuters today:

President Barack Obama's aides warned Americans on Sunday not to expect instant miracles from the $787 billion economic stimulus bill he will sign this week, but said it would help eventually.
I'm sorry, Mr. President, but did you not just spend two weeks telling us that our utter destruction was emminent if this bill did not pass? Telling us of the catastrophe that was certain, unless the bill was passed and boost economic growth?

Now you and your staff is telling us that the catastrophe has not, in fact, been averted? That the economic crisis is still getting worse even though the bill passed?

My guess? My guess is that the Republicans who voted against this bill are being set up for the fall. I will predict that if when this economic boost fails, Mr. President and the Democrats will point fingers and say, "It would have worked if it had been bigger, with more money involved, but the eee-vil Republicans would not let us pass anything bigger and better." (Aside: That's right, I said "Eee-vil. As in the froo-its of the De-veel." Gotta love the Axe Murderer.)

So back to the seemingly still-looming economic Armageddon. I'm going to guess that the Prez, in all reality, does NOT believe it will have much of an effect: something on the scale of a speed-bump in front of a runaway tractor-trailer rig in a steep mountain canyon.

Why do I say this? Take a look at this:
After pushing Congress for weeks to hurry up and pass the massive $787 billion stimulus bill, President Obama promptly took off for a three-day holiday getaway.
. . . .
The president plans to spend the Presidents' Day weekend in the Windy City, and is not expected to sign the bill until Tuesday, when he travels to Denver to discuss his economic plan.
I'm sorry, WHAT?!?

HERE'S the story in full if you're interested.

Remember how frantic the Prez and the Dems were to pass this bill last week? The orgiastic furor almost violated the laws of physics. 1,071 pages of text went largely unread because of the looming catastrophe.

And as soon as it's passed, he flits off to Chicago.

Excuse me, Mr. President. This is your job now, y'know?

Oh wait; I forgot. Out of approximately 144 working days in the Senate, he was absent a tremendous percentage of the time. I believe that at one time, the estimate was 80% missed votes.

"So?" I hear you say? So.... He's just working the hours he's used to working, apparently.

You see, it seems the Commander in Chief has not yet figured out that this is a working federal position, not a federally-funded vacation. In office less than a full month and he has already taken a holiday. Man. I remember back when President Bush II took work home to his ranch and actually worked on vacation. Remember the outrage and screaming that took place? I think the echo can still be heard in some corners of Crawford.

But here? "Awww.... Look at the cute couple there. Oh! Isn't that...?"

Yep. That's the Prez and Mrs. Fashion-plate, Michelle Onassis Obama carrying that stylish doggie bag. (Aside: Wait! "Doggie bag"? Did I miss the adoption of the First Canine? Did I actually miss that story? [Yawn] Oh yes, that's right. I DON'T CARE! )

As much as I detest Nancy Pelosi, at least she had the dignity to finish her work (albeit overly-rushed) before she headed off on her vacation. Maybe her tickets were non-refundable.

Or else she did not have her own 747 at her beck and call.

Oh wait! I have it now.... As a sitting President, he must get President's Day off!
Somehow I have missed reading that part of Article II.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Back to the USSR!

Show me round your snow peaked
mountains way down south
Take me to your daddy's farm
Let me hear your balalaika's ringing out
Come and keep your comrade warm.
I'm back in the U.S.S.R. U.S.S.A. boy
You don't know how lucky you are boys

Welcome to the United Socialist States of America, Comrades!

Where's my tinfoil hat?

Well, the spending bill passed the Senate. Now the House and Senate have to compromise our future our Constitution our country on a bill to present to the President.

I wonder how much more that will cost us? And what will it cost our children?

One of my colleagues e-mailed me and opined: "The Democrats are going to be in a world of hurt in two years."

My response: "Are they? Are there enough people that care about this to make a difference in two years? And what will the country even look like in two years? Will we even have free elections any longer?"

Yes, probably hyperbole. But is it really? What will history really say about this period of time? Or will it say anything at all, because the "victors" will not want the rabble to know the truth, that -- once -- we were free? How many of our freedoms and our liberties will we still have?

And tell me this: How can so many stupid people be leading our government?

Or an even better question: How can we keep electing these same stupid people to positions of leadership in our government?

And because we do, do we deserve what we get?

That's a scary thought. Think about all of the stories in the Scriptures, where a people "get what they deserve." It usually does not end well, does it? Especially in the Book of Mormon, everyt time the people are as prideful and stiffnecked as we Americans seem to have become. Do we really need to be humbled this way? Honestly?

Are we intelligent adults, we voters? Or are we sheep?

Actually . . . maybe you should not answer that. I am scared to know the answer. The Gadiantons are no longer at the door. They're already inside and sitting at the dinner table, folks.

Because I do not know how to say "Baaaaaa" in Russian, I'll simply say, "до свидания."

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Heroes

I met a real hero today.

That's a word that has lost its meaning. It is so over-used these days; everyone from sports stars to pop stars are called "heroes."

Hero: n. [L. heros; Gr. a demigod.]

1. A man of distinguished valor, intrepidity or enterprise in danger; as a hero in arms.

2. A great, illustrious or extraordinary person; as a hero in learning.
~1828 Webster
I am sorry, sports fans, but Michael Jordan and Brett Favre? Not heroes. I do not care what roles they play, what songs they sing, or how many times they have checked themselves into rehab, I cannot think of many -- if any -- pop culture "icons" (for lack of a better word) that deserve the moniker of "hero." Certainly none that I would want the Horde to emulate. (Aside: I mean, no matter how heroic their characters, do you want a son to grow up to be like Christian Bale or Robert Downey, Jr.? Really? Are Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan the daughters you want to have?)

This man, however, was in his mid-fifties, I would say. He was career Army: twenty years of hard work. We are not talking a desk pilot, here. This man served twenty long years, through some of the worst days in our modern history--1961-1981: a lot of crap went down in those two decades.

This man, in his words, had a lot wrong with him. "I've spent most of the last several months in bed; I'm in bad shape," he told me. His wife sat there with tears in his eyes as he talked how much time he spent at the VA Hospital, and how much he owed to her--his second wife. "She's saved my life," he admitted. He went on to explain that he was fully combat disabled.

This means he was not disabled by falling off a ladder in a supply warehouse somewhere stateside. As he told me, "I'm disabled because of combat."

Needless to say, I thanked him profusely for his service. He accepted it gratefully; I told him that I hoped he heard it often. He confessed that he didn't hear it much, but a lot more than he used to hear it.

I almost wept, hearing that. His humility was evident. The kind of humility that his experiences would give a person. A truly scriptural humility. The kind I would expect Captain Moroni to have had. But still, I almost wept -- with sadness, as much as gratitude and amazement.

You have got to be kidding me. Here we have someone who has almost given the last full measure, someone who has protected our Liberty and way of life, and he receives little gratitude? I would like to believe that it is because he does not walk around in his uniform. I rationalized that people just do not know he is a veteran, let alone a combat-injured veteran. I also, sadly, realized that it was more likely the result of political correctness: it just is not fashionable to respect the warrior.

Then, he said something that pushed him up another notch or two in my book: "I don't want a free ride. I'm paying all my creditors back."

He would not even entertain the thought of a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. He was here to see if a Chapter 13 would work for him, and if he could pay his creditors back at 100%.

Do you know how often I hear that?

Usually it is "How can we screw over these jerks that have taken so much of my money?" or words to that effect. Now, sometimes this attitude is almost warranted, because there are a lot of predators out there, preying on the stupid and uninformed in our society. But it is not always the case; probably not even the majority of the time.

But he was adamant. "I'm paying back everything I owe. I just need a little breathing room; I need the bleeding to stop just a little so that I can get on my feet and start paying them all back, everything to everyone I owe."

Wow. I cannot express what a feeling I had. He had nearly given his all to his country and here he was, not asking for a handout, not asking for "his due," not even really asking for much help. All he wanted was some breathing room so that he could pay everyone back at 100%.

I do not often see heroes. Combat veterans do not normally scream out their records for all to hear and praise, so I do not often get to thank them for their service and sacrifices.

Add on to that someone who does not want to pursue what others would think they were owed, who do not want to take advantage of the system? Strange and uncommon in itself.

Together? A rarity. I feel as if a dragon has just crossed the road in front of me, majestic, stately, and truly unexpected.

Not only do I thank you, sir, I salute you.

These are the heroes I, as a father, want for the Horde's role models.

Not Michael Jordan. Not Miley Cyrus.

But HEROES

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Trust Me. I Talk Good.

As anyone who knows me well will tell you, there is little else that raises my hackles like really bad grammar, poor spelling, and inaccurate puncutation. Both of these things send my proofreading brain spinning.

I almost fell off the bus today because of this problem.

There is a new business in town. Apparently, it is one of these outfits that performs commercial, albeit medical-type, scans for early warning of cancer, heart disease, and the like. Obviously, in this economy, they could be considered a luxury expenditure, and have therefore increased their advertising presence accordingly.

Well... I am relatively certain that this was not the kind of advertising effect they wanted.

You see, as I was sitting on the bus this morning, my eyes wandered up to the advertising along the space between the window and roof of the bus. Here, right in front of me, was an advertisement for this body-scan outfit. (Aside: Perhaps I am being too charitable in not printing their name. Maybe, just maybe, I need the extra points that charity could get me. Or maybe I am simply weak. Whatever it is, forgive me, because I am going to withhold the name. But I do believe it is a national company; if you see the same kind of advertising, please let me know.)

I quickly read the new advertisement. Then the mental nails scratched down the chalkboard in my brain. I re-read it to make sure I had not misunderstood. Then I read it a third time in utter disbelief. Surely they did not mean....

Here's what I saw (alas, if only I'd had a camera with me)--it was an ad for a lung scan, $299.00 if I remember correctly, and the text was as follows:

Breathe easier.
Get screened.
Their is a good chance it will save your life.
Excuse me? What?!

You're serious? A professional, likely multi-state, medically-related company does not have the sense to proofread their advertising? I do not know whether to hope they had an outside advertising company help them or not. Which is worse: to make this mistake in-house and not catch it? or to hire someone so inept as to make this mistake and then not catch the mistake in the draft?

Plain and simple: would you trust these people too to tell you weather whether you had cancerous cells in you're your lungs?

Really now, would you?

And actually, the second thought I had was even worse: how many people read that advertisement every day and see nothing wrong with it? Truthfully, is that not the actual state of society? of public education? or am I being too cynical?

This entire event has actually caused a slight headache this morning. Sharp pains at the base of my skull.

I'm going to go lie down for awhile, I believe.

Lie, I said. Not lay. Their There is a difference, you know.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Call to Arms

I know there are a lot of people out there that may not like Glenn Beck's style. As you probably know, I am not one of those type.

And before some of you pull out the "ignorant hating racist" card, just stop it.

Regardless of what you think of him, the numbers and facts just don't lie. Take a look at this video and consider what the heck we are doing to this country, and to the world as a whole. (Hint: National bankruptcy may be coming, and it ain't the kind that's going to make my career any better.)

Take a look with an open mind. O-PEN.

These charts are much simpler / less-complex than Al Gore's hocus-pocus. And this is a crisis much more real, much more imminent, and much more critical than the potential hoax of "climate change."

Watch this and then tell me it ain't a conspiracy, somewhere, somehow. I do not know who or how, but I can tell you why: Power. Plain and simple.

Watch and weep. Better yet: watch, wake up, and call a friend or two. Or even your Senator. Wake them up, too.


18 And these Gadianton robbers, who were among the Lamanites, did infest the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, that they could not hold them, nor retain them again.
19 And it came to pass that there were sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics; and the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land.
~Mormon 1:18-19

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Firearms Refresher Course

My buddy in Salt Lake City sent me this little thought-provoking list entitled "Firearms Refresher Course." At first I thought it was going to be an advertisement for either a safety course or a firearms use/training class. You know, something from a Community Education offering or a promotional gimmick for a local gun range. I could not quite decide why he was sending it to me; it was not as if I could head to Utah to take a class. I figured it was some grammatical or typographical error he wanted me to laugh at.

When I opened it up, this quotation leapt off the page at me:

'Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.'
~ Thomas Jefferson
The entire refresher is below the fold. Enjoy.

Honestly? I hope it makes you think.

FIREARMS REFRESHER COURSE

1. An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject.
2. A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone.
3. Colt: The original point and click interface.
4. Gun control is not about guns; it's about control.
5. If guns are outlawed, can we use swords?
6. If guns cause crime, then pencils cause misspelled words.
7. Free men do not ask permission to bear arms.
8. If you don't know your rights, you don't have any.
9. Those who trade liberty for security have neither.
10. The United States Constitution (c) 1791. All Rights Reserved.
11. What part of 'shall not be infringed' do you not understand?
12. The Second Amendment is in place in case the politicians ignore the others.
13. 64,999,987 firearms owners killed no one yesterday.
14. Guns only have two enemies; rust and politicians.
15. Know guns, know peace, know safety. No guns, no peace, no safety.
16. You don't shoot to kill; you shoot to stay alive.
17. 9-1-1: Government sponsored Dial-a-Prayer.
18. Assault is a behavior, not a device.
19. Criminals love gun control; it makes their jobs safer.
20. If guns cause crime, then matches cause arson.
21. Only a government that is afraid of its citizens tries to control them.
22. You have only the rights you are willing to fight for.
23. Enforce the gun control laws we ALREADY have; don't make more.
24. When you remove the people's right to bear arms, you create slaves.
25. The American Revolution would never have happened with gun control.

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The End of the Tunnel?

It has been awhile, gentle reader. But I think I'm back. or almost, at least.

I was going to entitle this post "Coming Out" but then I figured such a title would generate lots of the wrong sort of traffic.

But what does "The End of the Tunnel" mean? It means I think I can finally see that glimmer of light. The glorious dawn to the dark night of Blogpression.

You see, I was able to write this morning. I was able to write and it seemed to open the floodgates.

You see, ever since the end of NaNoWriMo--that is, ever since 11:30 p.m. on November 30, 2008--I have been unable to write anything of substance. No creative writing. No journal entries. I have even had difficulty completing essential client letters. I do not even want to THINK about the trials that the Sunday School lessons and other Church work have been.

But this morning as I stood in the shower, an entirely new scene for my NaNoWriMo novel presented itself, full-blown and complete, in my head. [Aside-- My LW and I have the same creative oddity: a hot shower in a steam-filled bathroom causes our creative juices to begin flowing. Are we alone in that? Maybe science could provide an answer.... But many was the time in November that I would reach a total impasse with a scene or a little piece of character development. I could be blocked all night long, but within minutes of stepping into a hot shower, BAM! There was the phrase or image I needed. I took to keeping a notepad in the bathroom so that I could write the words down as soon as possible. And yes, I do apologize for the image of me, in the shower, writing.]

It came fast and forceful, like a sledgehammer. I could actually SEE the characters interacting and hear their voices again. There were even smells in the scene. I quickly finished my ablutions and grabbed my notebook and started scribbling.

The mental floodgates were opening.

That scene led to another. Phrase by phrase, image by image, I quickly filled three pages of my notebook.

I did not want to stop.

Let me repeat that: I did not want to stop. After a month and a half, I actually wanted to write. On top of that, I was actually receiving words from my muse.

I am working on some other, future posts, delving a bit deeper into the reasons behind my blockage. I have been analyzing myself for the past few days and I think that is part of what helped thaw the icejam. Do not get me wrong: there are still some mighty big chunks of frozen imagery in my brain, and they're banging around with the randomly floating wooden words, crushing most of them and only occasionally letting a log through here and there. But it is breaking down.

And it feels good.

I think I may be back.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Punctuation!?

My battle with Blogpression continues, but it seems to be getting a little bit better.

For now, take a gander at this:




You Are An Exclamation Point



You are a bundle of... well, something.
You're often a bundle of joy, passion, or drama.

You're loud, brash, and outgoing. If you think it, you say it.

Definitely not the quiet type, you really don't keep a lot to yourself.

You're lively and inspiring. People love to be around your energy.

(But they do secretly worry that you'll spill their secrets without even realizing it.)

You excel in: Public speaking

You get along best with: the Dash



I am not so sure how well this pegged me. I guess I will have to rely on my LW to let me know. I will let you know when I find out more, I suppose.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Sanity Checklist

I knew that I could at least rely upon my good buddy in Salt Lake to help get my sanity back on the right track. He performed that role on my mission and continues to do so today.

I am sure these were taken from an office e-mail somewhere, but I had never seen them before. They're a step in the right direction for me, though. Props to you, J.--and thanks, Brother.

In fact, I think I will choose one or two of these to do today!

To Maintain A Healthy Level Of Insanity:

1. At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.
2. Page yourself over the intercom. Don't disguise your voice !
3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.
4. Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.
5. In the memo field of all your checks, write 'For: marijuana'
6. Finish all your sentences with '...in accordance with the prophecy.'
7. Skip down the hall rather than walk and see how many looks you get.
8. Order a diet water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.
9. Specify--repeatedly--that your drive-through order is 'to go.'
10. Sing along at the opera.
11. Put mosquito netting around your work area and play tropical sounds all day.
12. Five days in advance, tell your friends you can't attend their party because you have a headache.
13. When the money comes out the atm, scream, 'I won! I won!'
14. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the parking lot, yelling 'run for your lives! They're loose!'
15. Tell your children over dinner, 'Due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go.'

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Blogpression

I apologize for the lengthy hiatus I have taken. I have a good reason.

Alright -- perhaps not a GOOD reason, but a reason.

I have "blogpression."

I realize that I may catch flak from those of you who have suffered true clinical depression. Well, flak away; I believe that I am currently in the midst of a form of depression.

It isn't writer's block: I've been there before and this ain't it. It also isn't burn-out; I was pretty burned out after NaNoWriMo, but this? This is something different.

I am not sure what it is. Perhaps I am still feeling a little post-election let-down. Maybe it's the cold outside? A rare form of influenza? Whatever it is, I just cannot seem to get up the "oomph" to post a blog entry. I still have some ideas, but they just are not popping up as frequently as they used to do.

Is this common with bloggers? Does it always happen at some point? The constant gasping for mental breath?

I want to blog; I want to share my thoughts with you. I really do. I just cannot seem to actually get the words down in pixels, though. Not even a post about religion. Not even something humorous, pithy, or sarcastic. There's always something else that I can do instead. The mere thought of blogging is as daunting as preparing for a marathon. And all of this is really bothering me.

And it's not just writing; I don't believe I have visited my "daily read" blogs more than maybe twice since Christmas Eve. Again, it's not a lack of interest -- just a lack of... something else.

Please. PLEASE, gentle readers. If you have any thoughts or suggestions -- or even just words of empathy -- please let me know.

Yes, I know this sounds like a shameless plug to get some responses. I don't mean it to be. I just need some of you in the blogosphere to give me some hope that this will pass and that this blog won't just turn into a stagnant pool of muck.

Please?

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