Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jotting Tittles: Governor Jar-Jar and Paranormal TV

I realized it had been nearly a month since I had checked in here, so I thought I would emerge from my post-Noel hibernations. Actually, it was a combination of logging on to the internet and watching TV this morning that spurred me on to a couple of brief observations.

First up, I saw a Yahoo! News teaser on the "worst people of the year." In that teaser story was this picture of Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. My first thought was "Who IS that?" My second thought was: "Look at that freaking wattle!" And then my third thought made me do a quick internet search. Tell me these two were not separated at birth.... Maybe it is just me but the Governator looks distinctly Gungan to me. If you still cannot see it, look at Arnie's neck and mouth. He's Gungan with hair. And sunglasses.

Second up: I came downstairs and found the Horde watching something called "Destination Truth" on the SyFy Channel. [Aside: I trust I am not the only one out there that STILL cannot stand the 'new' spelling of their channel name. I keep wanting to call it the 'Sissy Channel.' Of course, the stupid spelling somewhat indicates the quality of their made-for-TV movies. I love 'B' movies and monster movies as much as the next man, but that dreck is purely unwatchable.] Apparently this "Destination Truth" is another in a long line of what I call "Paranormal Television." As much as I would love to believe that creatures like the Sasquatch are out there somewhere, I find it impossible to call this brand of television "Reality Television." [Aside: I suppose that for accuracy's sake I should say that the technical term for these creatures is 'cryptids.' And now you know.]I sat and absorbed this television peripherally, from the Sasquatch They hunt to the hunt for the Ahool to the hunt for a massive 8' x 3' eel-like creature in the Philippines. As I watched I asked myself a question: "Do these people really believe in what they're doing? Really?" It is the same question that I ask when I see an advertisement for a ghost-hunter series. "Really? They're spending money on this?" But then I had a realization. Just once, I would love to see one of these cryptids (or spirits) actually exist and come out of the dark (because these people are always filming with night-vision cameras) and just bite the face off of one of these "investigators." Chomp. That's all. Ratings boost. SyFy wins credibility. Instead, I am reminded of Dean Yaeger's comments from Ghostbusters:

Dr. Venkman, we believe that the purpose of science is to serve mankind. You, however, seem to regard science as some kind of "dodge" or "hustle." Your theories are the worst kind of popular tripe, your methods are sloppy and your conclusions are highly questionable. You're a poor scientist, Dr. Venkman, and you have no place in this department or in this University.

Third up: The New Years' celebration quickly approaches. As it does every year, the "year-end" countdowns and "best-ofs/worst ofs" have begun to fill the airwaves. I am compelled to ask: Am I the only one that is utterly and completely IRRITATED this crap? I loathe these programs. I detest them with a passion. I dislike them even more than I do the "human interest filler" stories on the local news. I cannot believe they have any use or value other than to kill time and keep writers and producers from actually doing their work and writing real stories. Ugh. Thank heavens for the DVD collection. I think I will wear out the DVD player between now and Sunday.

Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble. Feel free to leave me your own thoughts. I will try and check back in before the last year-end countdown airs. If I do not connect with you again, may I extend to you my hopes that your Christmas was wonderful, that your New Year will be prosperous, and thank you for your readership and friendship. Shalom and God Bless.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo Update: Across the Finish Line

Well, another year, another novel. Yep, that's right. I am done. As of yesterday afternoon I crossed 50,000 words and kept right on sailing. After verifying my word count I wound up with 52,843 total words. Like I mentioned yesterday, it is largely crap; if I were to edit it down, I doubt I would have half as many words. But it is done.

I will be honest: I didn't think I had it in me, not this year.

Now I know I do. Or did. Thank you all for your thoughts and well-wishes you sent my way over the past month, my friends and readers. Thanks for all your words of support. I felt them keenly and they helped immensely. I could not have done it without you.

Most importantly, I could not have done it without the support of my LW and the Horde. They tolerated my long hours staring into space interrupted by frantic typing and breathy mutterings. I am sure at times they were certain I was hearing the " a low, dull, quick sound --much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton," especially when I would "pace...the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury...."*

They no doubt fancied me mad.

I am mad no longer. At least, not like I was, and no more mad than usual.

I am myself again, gentle readers...and ready for a long nap this weekend. Let us all get there in safety and sanity, eh? God bless you all.

----------------------------------------
*The Tell-Tale Heart, with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNoWriMo Update: Home Stretch

This is it. The light at the end of the tunnel is blinding. The finish line looms large. The fat lady is doing her "mi-mi-mi"-style warm-ups.

The end of the month is here.

And with it, the end of NaNoWriMo 2011.

Thank Heavens.

This year was tough. Illness, financial concerns, stress at work, and Horde-related stuff all conspired against me. I think my LW gave in a couple weeks ago. Myself? I've been using every spare minute at home, work, and church jotting down thoughts and then transferring to digital media when I had the chance.

I am almost there. I mean it: as of this moment, I am 615 words away from 50K.

This one surely will not win any awards. I do not think it will ever see the light of day again. It is crap, filled with utter crap. It has every spare mental jot and written tittle that I could muster this past 28 days.

It may be bad, but it is done. Almost. "Will be done" is more accurate, I suppose. In the process, I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned that I have forgotten an awful lot about creative writing in the past eleven months. I have learned that Law School killed more of my imagination and creativity than I supposed, not to mention the actual practice of law and client-relations. I have also learned a lot about my own motivations, my own psyche, and my resilience. I have learned a lot about the weakness of the flesh, too, and how physical ailments can have such a drastic influence on the abilities and functions of one's mental -- and yes -- spiritual self.

In less than 36 hours, it will all be over. I will have won out.

And then I can rest easy for eleven months.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Constructive Thoughts: Gratitude

I really dislike Thanksgiving.

Oh, please do not get me wrong: My dislike stems from some childhood issues with the actual day itself. I love the turkey (dry) and all the fixings. I love the idea of Thanksgiving. And I realize the importance of that idea. In fact, I was fairly slapped across the face this weekend after moaning and complaining about my 'illnesses' and my various temporal plights for the past week.

In my studies over the weekend, I came across a little gem about gratitude from President Ezra Taft Benson that really struck home to me.

The Prophet Joseph Smith is reported to have said that one of the greatest sins for which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty would be ingratitude. I presume most of us have not thought of that as a serious sin. There’s a great tendency for us in our prayers to ask for additional blessings. Sometimes I feel we need to devote more of our prayers to expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings already received....

We need to be more grateful. It’s one of the marks of strong character, to have a feeling of thanksgiving and gratitude for blessings that are ours. We need more of that spirit in our homes, in our daily associations, in church, everywhere. It’s so easy to cultivate the spirit of appreciation....

I hope we can be happy where we are, be grateful for our blessings—now, here—accept the challenge that is ours and make the most of it, and not be envious of others....

Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth. It is in the depths, not at the pinnacle of success, where men and women learn the lessons that help to make them strong. The hour of a man’s success is his greatest danger. It sometimes takes reverses to develop us into strong, courageous characters.

When reverses come, we need the Church and the gospel all the more. I’m satisfied that it’s possible for men and women who have testimonies of the divinity of this work to meet any possible reversal and still keep their spirit sweet and their faith strong....

Yes, with the help of our Heavenly Father and His blessings, we can meet every reversal that can possibly come. And every reversal can be turned to our benefit and blessing and will make us stronger, more courageous, more godlike.
God help us to be grateful for our blessings and never to be guilty of the sin of ingratitude.
Ezra Taft Benson, "All This and the Gospel Too," New Era, Nov. 1991, 4

And then I was reminded by the Psalmist,
Psalm 34
1 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.
11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
22 The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
All this is to say, simply, in the hubbub of the coming week, amid the turkey, the cranberries, the football games, and the ridiculous midnight sales, remember that we--every single one of us--has a heck of a lot for which we need to be grateful.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Constructive Thoughts: A Realization

Long-time readers will know that I have a habit of being negative. I am negative about my office, my job, my career, the people that fill the town around me, politics, and so forth.

Today I came to a realization. I had an epiphany.

I am fine.

Sure, my health is a mess and the pain from the past week has resulted in some pretty weird and frightening dreams/hallucinations/phantasmagories. Nothing much has changed in my employment or career and it does not appear likely that anything will.

But still, I am fine.

In fact, I'm better than fine.

Wealth would be great. Fame? Meh, I find that I do not desire it much any more. There is a whole pile of worldly stuff that I once thought (and probably will again) would make my life "better." Perfect health would be a dream beyond a dream.

But you know what?

I already have everything I need or want.

I live in an average-sized house in a clean neighborhood. My yard may be somewhat unkempt and the rabbit cages may need a bit of cleaning. My neighbor's grass may be greener and their rose-bushes more prize-winning. But you know what?

In that house lives a loving wife and beautiful children who clamber over one another to hug and greet me when I stagger in from a long day.

And despite the Horde's clamor -- or maybe, in part, because of it -- my home is a peaceful, quiet refuge from the world.

That house has heat in the winter and cool air in the summer. There is a sound roof, which keeps off the rain and snow. There is sufficient to eat and all within are clothed.

I may not have everything the world says I need or want. I will likely never attain that status.

In truth, however.... I find that I have it all.

And for it all, I am eternally grateful.

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Milestone!

I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the passage of a milestone, of sorts.

Ten days ago my follower-ship numbers for this blog passed 60! Welcome and greetings to #61: Caorthine!

To Caorthine and all the 60 others who have stumbled upon my corner of the blogosphere, seen something they've liked, and taken a moment to click "Follow"--Welcome and Thank You.

To all my followers, and any future readers: Feel free to leave comments as you wish. I love to hear from you and to know there are people out there reading my opinions.

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NaNoWriMo Update: Prayers Needed

Curse Election Day.

I must have picked something up while working at the polls, because for the last eight days I've been as sick as a dog, with little sign of it letting up. Dizziness, nausea, headaches, random pains and aches. I have had the lot. Most of the symptoms have kept me from sitting for long periods at the computer, or even with a pad of paper and pencil in hand.

I am therefore over 1 week behind in my NaNoWriMo attempt for 2011. That's 13,336 words (1,667 per day at 8 days).

I hope to be able to be functioning at a level high enough to type for longer than a few minutes at a time. Sooner, rather than later.

You know, before the numbers get too overwhelming to tackle.

Oh yeah, we are at mid-month. Happy happy joy joy.

To all my readers-- Please: light a candle for me; say a prayer; send good karma my way. In whatever way your particular practices may preach, I would dearly love all the support I can get.

I hate giving up.

That, and I would really like to throw off the gomboo.

EDIT: According to the stats at NaNoWriMo.org, at this rate I'll finish by December 25, 2011. Or, I'll have to write 2,300+ words per day to finish on time.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

It's NaNoWriMo Time Again!

Well, it is that time again, the time when my pencil sharpener earns its worth and I run through fountain pen ink like water. I have a stack of paper at my office desk and pocket notebooks proliferate my suit, jeans, and pajamas.

What time is it boys and girls? 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. ... 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.

This will be my seventh year; I have won each of the last three years. And I have been dreading this day since December 1, 2010.

No, seriously. I dread November like the coming plague. But this year it is even worse than usual. I have no ideas for plot, character, or even genre. I am hoping some kind of inspiration strikes in the next 10 hours, because if not.... Well, let us just say that it will be an EXTREMELY long month.

Wish me luck. I will most likely be quite absent for a while, but then I suppose you are all quite used to that. I will try and keep you up to date on my progress, but I cannot guarantee anything at this point. After all, every ounce of writing, typing, or creative output has to be focused on THE NOVEL.

[SIGH]

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

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Is this a $4 cheeseburger?

OK, loyal readers. Take a look at the following pictures and then I will have a question for you....


This is Wendy's new "signature" burger, or "Dave's Single Cheeseburger." Something like that.

As you can tell from the picture, it's a dry bun, a single patty, two small squares of processed cheese. It's topped with a sad piece of iceburg lettuce, a cardboard tomato slice, two sorry little onion pieces and two small pickle chips. On the whole, I might compare it to McDonald's McDouble.

In fact, now that I look at the picture again, I can hardly believe I ate one. Actually, based on the heartburn I'm suffering, I CAN believe it.

The kicker? It's a $4.00 burger. No joke. $3.79+tax. I had a buy-one-get-one coupon, or I'd be screaming mad. Especially when you consider I can get four McDoubles for this price? Heck, I'd rather go over to Carl's Jr. or travel into Utah to get me a Training Table hamburger. They may be a little more expensive, but they're better tasting and better quality than this monstrosity.

Verdict: Yeeeeccch.

I'm interested in hearing your opinions, whether based on actual dining experience or based on the pictures. Take the poll off on the sidebar, would you? and feel free to leave any comments here as well.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pedestrian Concerns

O.K. I must preface this post with an apology. The rant that is about to occur, while potentially calm-ish in nature, still will be, unfortunately, in the "Seinfeldian" tone. In other words, using the "What's the deal with Ovaltine?" template.

There is just no way to avoid it with this one.

What is wrong with pedestrians lately?

I do quite a bit of walking and bicycling, particularly through our (relatively) busy downtown area from my office to the Courthouse. I see a lot of other pedestrians doing the same thing. Quite a few in fact.

The difference between myself and most of them? I seem to have retained a healthy and reasonable point of view.

I am smaller and more fragile than a moving car or truck.

Period.

Which is, incidentally, what my remains would be smaller than were I ever to walk out in front of said car and/or truck.

As I was enjoying a rare late-summer air-conditioned drive through the downtown shopping district today I came to this stunning realization: there are many in my town who are apparently survivors of the Krypton disaster. They truly believe they are indestructible and stronger than a speeding car. Twice, on two different intersections that are several blocks apart, I watched the same man cross the street on a solid "hand" sign in front of me. Each time he made it no further than the median before the light turned green in my favor. Each time he sauntered into the intersection. Each time he made no effort to speed up to get out of the intersection once the light turned against him. Each time he did not even appear to notice that he was now crossing against the light.

This is why I say I believe he is from the planet Krypton.

What happened to the general healthy fears and rational thoughts our parents instilled in us as children when we wanted to cross the street? You know: Look both ways. Cross on the "walk" sign. Do not cross on the "hand" sign. Cars are bigger than you, faster than you, and can make you hurt. You can and will die.

[Aside: It is not as if my parents' generation was overly cautious in their child-rearing. After all, my generation grew up without car seats, usually sitting on the hump on the floor in the back seat, listening to our parents talk. We crawled around the station wagon, switching seats with abandon. I remember Chinese Fire Drills at red lights. We had hair dryers, blenders, and clothes irons without needing a pamphlet full of disclaimers and warnings. We had lead-based paint and lead-based toys, not to mention toys with long strings on them. We had REAL cap guns. The list goes on.]

It is the same mentality that I see when I travel to Utah and visit my friends in Salt Lake City. As I have mentioned before, their offices are near to several of the light rail system stations. The stream of pedestrians jay-walking from the stations to the sidewalks -- across very busy metropolitan streets, mind you -- is unbelievable. Some even go so far as to walk down the middle of the rail tracks from one end of the block until they reach the "verboten" end of the station platform.

Umm.... Excuse me, people. I have just two thoughts:

(1) Cars are bigger, faster, and stronger than you.
(2) Trains are bigger, faster, and stronger than cars.

Is this symptomatic of the intelligence or common sense of the average American citizen in the twenty-first century? Could it be that we are so inured to mayhem by video games, movies, and television that we truly believe that we are invincible? That life truly has a "Reset" button? I am not one who likes to blame bad things in life on games, video or otherwise. After all, I grew up during the advent of home video game console systems (Magnavox Odyssey and Atari, anyone?) and during the hysteria of the anti-Dungeons & Dragons-because-its-Satanic craze.

[Aside: And let me tell you children, the hubbub of the anti-Harry Potter movement has NOTHING on the whole Dungeons & Dragons scare. Ask your parents if you do not believe me.]

Or is it that we simply believe ourselves to be better than others, or our destination more important than another persons' destination? Think about the last time you went to Wal-Mart...or observe the next time you go. Make a conscious decision to drive on the road directly in front of the store. The flood of humanity that crosses in front of you, whether from the store to the parking lot or vice-versa: Observe them carefully. Look at how many bother to cross at the actual crosswalks. And then look at how many bother to actually stop for the cars traveling in front of the store. And then count how many of those actually look up and around for moving vehicles before stepping out in front of the cars.

Then do the same at any random box-store. Target. Best Buy. Barnes & Noble. Heck, even the grocery store.

My guess? Most of those who go in and out, crossing to or from the parking lot, will do so without regard for the vehicles around them, without regard for their own safety and welfare.

Granted, they have the right-of-way. I am in no way denying or arguing against that fact. But the way many of these people act it is as if they are entitled to cross willy-nilly and how, when, and where they wish.

Did I miss the handing-out of the car-proof suit and magic cape? Or was I simply born in a different time?

What is this mentality? And why do I think our society is worse-off for it?

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Clean as a Whistle

I am not sure why a whistle is the paragon of cleanliness, considering that it is a tool into which you are forcefully expelling saliva and germs, not to mention microscopic orts of food, but regardless, apparently this blog is just that.
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Site


The site is little more than an advertisement and enticement to an online dating site. However, I still love a good "test" or "rating" as is clear if you have spent any time looking through my archived posts.

According to this site, "No bad words were found."

Well, what do you know? I'm Family Friendly.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Google Searches

I love seeing the range of ways people find this blog.

Often it is only the "next blog" button at the top of the page. Other times it comes from links on other pages.

Then there are the Google search term arrivals. These are usually relevant terms in some vague way. Others are pure insanity. Like the one I found today.

"katy perry naked"

Now I know I have never talked about Katy Perry on this blog, let alone Katy Perry in a state of undress, until this very post. The fact that Google somehow pulled up this blog with those search terms is in itself is a bit troubling.

Then once they found my blog they searched for those terms again. Who is that desperate? That is also troubling.

But do you want to know the worst part? Five hits from that search originated between 10:41 a.m. and 10:42 a.m. California time, from Fresno, California....

...from the Kings County Office Of Education.

Ponder THAT one for a while, oh ye lovers of public education.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Constructive Thoughts: Dad, Part 2

I wish today to celebrate with my family and friends the life of my father: our brother, granddad, and friend. I tried desperately to find a quotation from Dad’s favorite author, Louis L’Amour, but nothing seemed to fit–everything was filled with flying lead and oats. So I went to one of his other favorite authors, Victor Hugo, who wrote that “There are times that no matter the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees.” The past few weeks have been full of those times for me and my family. On behalf of my mother and all of our family let me again express our gratitude for the love you had for our father and for the outpouring of love and respect we have seen.

Father’s Day was difficult for me, my brothers, and my mother this year. But what better time to be able to remember what Dad meant to us? What a fitting time to celebrate his life and memory? And what a great time to consider the fact that he has gone ahead to prepare the way for us, and the fact that we will see him again? That our separation will be, in the grand scheme of things, only a little while. How wonderful is the thought that my children can embrace him once again, that we can sit at his feet and listen to his stories? That we can be together, forever, as a famliy?

And this is possible because nearly a millennium ago, an individual knelt in a garden and prayed to his Father. He was known as the “Carpenter’s son,” yet he was the Son of God. It was there, in that garden, that he took upon himself the sins of all mankind, the sins of all the world, both past, present, and future. It was an event that had been foretold by prophets throughout history.

It was there in that garden that night, as he bled from every pore, that Christ, “The Son of Man . . . descended below . . . all.” [D&C 122:8]
This was “the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” [Leviticus 17:11]
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29]
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . . he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities . . . and with his stripes we are healed.” [Isaiah 53:4-5]
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” [Isaiah 53:3]
“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16]

The agony he suffered in that garden is unfathomable to us, both in intensity and in cause. But the gift that he gave us through that suffering is also marvelous, magnificent. On that night, Jesus shouldered the burdens of all of our transgressions -— my transgressions and your transgressions. I added to his anguish that night, as did each one of us. But he picked up that burden and took it upon himself so that a price would be paid. That price was paid so that I might escape, and so that you might escape, the required punishments that correspond to our sins. The scriptures tell us that the gift is ours if we but believe in him, accept his gift, repent and be baptized, receive the gift of the holy ghost, and to continue faithfully to observe and keep the commandments all the days of our lives. Christ gifted us with salvation from spiritual death, which grants us eternal life with our heavenly father.

Many years ago, a newspaper writer was asked, “What would be the most important news story the world could receive?” Think about how you would answer that question: would it be the development of the atomic bomb? Man walking on the moon? The death of a (fill in the blank) celebrity? The assassination of a president? After some thought the reporter finally answered that the most important story he could report would be that a man that had lived and died had come back to life; and specifically that Jesus Christ was truly resurrected and lives today.

No event in all history compares to the importance of the resurrection of Christ. Because of this gift all mankind will come forth, each in his own order. We will live eternally. We will be resurrected and overcome physical death.

Isn’t this a joyous, glorious message? It means that we will one day be reunited with Dad. I bear you my testimony that this Gospel principle is true; the Atonement is real — Christ has given us gifts that will liberate our spirit and our body from the bonds of death and allow us to live in God’s presence forever.

We are understandably sad. We have lost a loved one. I should restate that; I do not like that phrase. We have not “lost” Dad —- We know exactly where he is. He is with his loving parents, grandparents, and in-laws, his brothers and his close friends that preceded him from this earth. The list goes on and on. To paraphrase David O. McKay, a former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “[Our father] closed [his] eyes in peaceful slumber, and awakened with loved ones.” While no one mortal was with him when he passed from this life, the speed with which the event happened, and how he looked afterwards attests to the fact that his last minutes were indeed peaceful; it was indeed as if he was only sleeping when his spirit left this world. His pain and suffering were removed from him.

It has been written that “Death is the liberator of him whom freedom cannot release; the physician of him whom medicine cannot cure; the comforter of him whom time cannot console.” [Charles Caleb Colton] Dad has been liberated. He is happy. He is youthful, and joyful once again, just as he was before the travails of mortal life began to take him away from us. We know where he is and we rejoice in who he is once more.

Yet we are filled with sorrow. Our sorrow is understandable, it is human: it is sorrow for us, not for him. Speaking for myself, as I have elsewhere here, it is a sorrow born of selfishness. In spite of knowing where he is and who he is with, I still want him back as a part of my everyday life. Dad is no longer physically present to talk to, to listen to our stories and concerns. We can no longer hear his stories, get his advice, or see or hear, except in our hearts and minds, his smile and his laugh. We can no longer go to him for advice and we can no longer learn from him skills such as woodworking. I cannot call him during a college football game and complain about a referee’s call or rave about an amazing play. These are the things that I am sorrowful for — the things that I have lost.

When I consider this, and think about the precepts of Christ’s gospel and turn my thoughts from an inward focus to an outward focus, when I consider these things and think about where dad is and who he is with, not to mention the fact that we will see him again in time, then my sorrow is lessened and the pain eases. He has graduated from the test of mortality to an institution of higher learning.

It is a change of attitude that is required. Anyone that knew Dad well knew that attitude was an important concept to him. It was something that he tried with his sons at an early age to instill: “ATTITUDE MAKES THE DIFFERENCE.” He was forever reminding us of this principle. Growing up, one of the most oft-heard phrases in the home was my father telling one us to “CHECK YOUR ATTITUDE!” It was his way of telling us to shape up. Eventually it got to just simply “CHECK IT!” That was one of those times you knew you were in trouble.

In my scriptures I still carry a laminated card that I made on my mission that reads “AMTD” — an acronym that Dad used when even “Check it!” didn’t work. “Attitude makes the difference.” My friends, to all who knew Dad: “Check your attitude.” Do not dwell on the sorrow, do not dwell on the pain. Negative attitudes are of the Adversary. Remember instead a man who very patiently, hour after hour, threw a baseball to his youngest son in the front yard -— a son who was somehow completely incompetent and inept in the handling of a baseball glove. Remember a man who learned to fly a plane, who flew around the world, while sitting with his brother on a log in a meadow in Southern Idaho. Remember a man who never failed to bring home from a business trip some treat for his youngest son, whether it be a Matchbox car or a bag of airline peanuts, even though that son fairly quickly realized that -— more than likely -— most of those treats were sent with him by my mother. Remember a man who always came home. Remember a man who did all he could to find work to support his family, while not allowing his family to suffer or, at least in my case, to even know that the family was struggling. Remember a man who grabbed every task set before him and performed it to the utmost of his ability, whether it was working, woodworking, whether it was supporting the University, or whether it was teaching the Gospel and sharing his testimony of the Lord. Remember a man who labored faithfully in the Temple of the Lord each week, even when his own physical health was declining, who begged to be allowed to serve the Lord, even when he physically could no longer do it. Remember a man who freely shared his testimony of the Savior to anyone that would hear it. Remember a man who walked ready and unafraid to the veil which separates this world from the next.

Most importantly, remember a man that is now free from pain and free forever from the specter of Death. The poet John Donne penned these fitting words, “One short sleep past, we wake eternally, and Death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die!” Because of our Savior’s gifts to us, our beloved father, brother, granddad, and friend yet lives, in a higher place. Because of our Savior’s gifts, we can be assured of seeing him again one day; we can embrace him as he one day meets us on the other side of mortality.

I want to leave you today with the words of Norman Macleod:

We picture death as coming to destroy; let us rather picture Christ as coming to save.
We think of death as ending; let us rather think of life as beginning, and that more abundantly.
We think of losing; let us think of gaining.
We think of parting, let us think of meeting.
We think of going away; let us think of arriving.
As the voice of Death whispers “You must go from Earth,” let us hear the voice of Christ saying, “You are but coming to me!”
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” [John 8:12] “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” [John 14:27]

Dad still lives and we shall see him once again, in a better place. I know this for a fact. May we, each one of us, feel within us the peace that the Savior promised, and may our attitudes reflect joy and peace. This is my prayer for all of us who knew Dad. I leave this with all of you -- whether you knew Dad or not -- along with my testimony of these things, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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NPR's Top 100 Fantasy & Sci-Fi Books

I found this in a round-about way through the blogosphere as I think I would bleed out through the eyes if I were forced to listen to NPR for more than 35 seconds. You can find a printable version of the list here. Apparently 60,000+ voted on this list; it's an interesting list.
NPR's Top 100 Fantasy/SF books
1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien - Read over and over.
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams - Read over and over.s times; love it.
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card - Read over and over.
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert - I read Dune and simply could not go any further with the series.
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin - Reading now.
6. 1984, by George Orwell - Read over and over.
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury - Read over and over.
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov - Read the series twice.
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley - I have always intended to read this, but have never gotten around to it.
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman - Read, but did not enjoy overmuch.
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman - Read over and over.
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan - Read up to book 9 twice, but cannot seem to get any further.
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell - Read it.
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson - Read it.
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore - Read it.
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov - Read it.
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein - Read several times.
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss - Read the first one twice; found it quite enjoyable.
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut - No interest in reading it.
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley - Read over and over.
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick - Read it.
22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood - No interest in reading it.
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King - Could not make it through book #3.
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke - Read it.
25. The Stand, by Stephen King - Read over and over.
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson - Never read it.
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury - Read it several times.
28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut - No interest in reading it.
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman - Never read it.
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess - Forced to watch the movie in college; no interest in reading it.
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein - Read over and over.
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams - Read it.
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey - Read it.
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein - Read it several times.
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller - Never read it.
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells - Read it several times.
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne - Read it several times.
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys - Read it several times.
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells - Read it several times.
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny - Never read it, but want to read it.
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings - Read it; not his best work, in my opinion.
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley - Never read it.
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson - Read it twice (so far).
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven - Read it several times.
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin - Never read it.
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien - Never read it. (If I want to read something that reads like the Scriptures, I will read the Scriptures.)
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White - Read it.
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman - Never read it.
49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke - Never read it.
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan - Read it.
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons - Read it.
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman - Never read it.
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson - Never read it.
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks - Never read it.
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle - Read it.
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman - Never read it.
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett - Never read it.
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson - No interest in reading it.
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold - Never read it.
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett - Never read it.
61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle - Read it.
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind - Read several of the first books.
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy - No interest in reading it.
64. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke - Never read it.
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson - Never read it.
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist - Read the first one.
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks - Read it.
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard - Read several of the books.
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb - Read once. Ugh. Never again.
70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger - Never read it.
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson - Never read it, but plan to do so.
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne - Read it.
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore - Read the first dozen; that is enough for me.
74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi - Read it.
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson - Never read it.
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke - Read it several times.
77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey - Never read it.
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin - Never read it.
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury - Read it several times.
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire - No interest in reading it.
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson - Read Book #1; no interest in going further.
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde - Never read it.
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks - Never read it.
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart - Read it several times.
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson - Never read it.
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher - Read Books #1 and #2.
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe - Never read it.
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn - Read over and over.
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan - Never read it.
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock - Read a couple of them.
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury - Read it.
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley - Never read it.
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge - Never read it.
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov - Read it.
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson - Read Books #1 and #2.
96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle - Read it several times. Took this book with me on my honeymoon, in fact.
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis - Never ead it.
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville - Read it once. Barely. Never again.
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony - Read the first sixteen.
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis - Read it.

It looks like I am at about 65%, give or take. There are some titles on there that probably should not be there, and there are some titles/authors that I think they missed. All told, however, it is an intriguing list; maybe one of these days I will take a weekend, sit down, and make my own list.

Yeah, in all my spare time.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Idle Randomness

Two thoughts today, neither one sufficiently complex--at least right now--for their own dedicated posts.

First: the whole Facebook "friend/unfriend" phenomenon.
Second: do I have the right to moderate and "censor" comments on my personal blog?

Discussed below.

First: why should I be made to feel guilty because I "unfriend" you on Facebook? I mean, honestly?

Background: I do not know about you, but my Facebook wall is locked down pretty tightly, restricted only to my friends. I have a friend who has recently decided that our once-mutual faith and belief system is no longer "doing it" for him. He has lost his testimony, is now falling away from the Gospel of Christ and, in so doing, is becoming quite caustic and belligerent about religion in his Facebook posts. I know he thinks it is humor, as do his little circle of like-minded friends that swarm around his anti-Church posts.

For example: "When you are sad, it is most likely because you are actually feeling guilt for something you once did that you forgot but God never did forget and never will. You're going to Hell."

His friends immediatly gather around, some of whom are actually text-laughing like Beavis and Butthead, but all of whom are chuckling like hyenas and making similar comments about spirituality, guilt, the evils of believing in organized religion and Christ, not to mention how ridiculous it is that people should be made to feel guilty about doing what feels good.

I want to believe that it is a phase, that it is something else that is making him feel this way. He has always been a bit liberal in his beliefs (spiritual and political), at least since I have known him. We have always been able to find some common ground upon which we can agree, however tenuous. However, just recently he has started mocking Christ and Christian values. I refuse to even cite an example, however.

Ummm.... I am not sure it matters WHO you are, but you really do not want to mock one of the Godhead, do you? I mean, is that smart?

In short, all of what he posts lately is pretty offensive to the other 143 friends I have. I have received comments about it.

So: should I feel any guilt about either (1) hiding his posts or (2) unfriending him altogether? In the past he has blasted his family members who have defriended him (although how one learns one has been defriended, I do not know) and has let it affect his familial relationships. That is why I hestiate. He is still a friend for whom I will continue to pray and a colleague with whom I need to interact on a weekly basis. But do I really need to be subjected to his anti-religious sarcasm and vitriol on a daily basis?

Perhaps I will simply hide him for now.

[Sigh] Why on earth does social media turn so many adults into whiny little children?

Second: Do I have the right to moderate and "censor" what goes on here, on my own personal blog?

I am of differing opinions here. I can see both sides; I do not AGREE with both sides, but I can see the arguments.

[Aside: I should note that I have good readers and, at least to this point in time, have been extremely fortunate on this issue. I have fellow bloggers, however, who are constantly being attacked ON THEIR OWN BLOGS, and then criticized when they do something about the attacks.]

I realize that by putting my opinions out here on the internet and inviting comments on what I write, I lose a little bit of credibility with the argument. However, it is my space, my little bit of the 'web.

I believe that I can say that I have never once deleted or moderated a comment that made a negative or contrary argument to one of my posts. I delete spam on a regular basis, but only spam. I do not believe in deleting comments, but then I have not yet received one that is openly offensive. I cannot say what I will do in the event that happens.

But is it "censorship"? I think that is stretching it. To me, a "censor" is one who has some authority or control over others. While you could argue that I have control over your posts, and deleting said posts is an act of censorship, that might be true if it was, technically, a public forum.

Think of it in this way: I have invited a group of you into my house. Many of you are complimentary of my house, my LW, the Horde, and comment favorably about my religious artwork and books throughout the house. However, several of you take it upon yourself to belittle my beliefs, throw food at the walls, and put down my LW and the Horde, not to mention the expletives that you fling around. Would any of you actually fault me for throwing that small minority out of my house and try and spray Lysol around to get rid of the odor? Would any of you really tolerate me doing the same in your house?

Would any of you, in that instance, consider me a censor?

Why then consider me a censor for doing the same to those who come into my little house on the 'web and do the same thing?

Hey, mock me all you want on your blog. That is your space. You and your little friends can do that all you want, remembering of course the libel laws. But when you come into my space and mock me, my beliefs, or -- Heaven help you -- my family? You are in my house and can expect to be shown the door.

And before you pull out the "free speech" or a Constitutional argument--technically speaking, only the Government can violate a person's Constitutional rights. And for better or worse, I ain't the Government. In my house, your right to swing your arms around wildly ends at the tip of my nose.

If any of you have additional thoughts for me, I would welcome them.

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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Independence Day

A Happy Independence Day to all and sundry citizens of the United States of America!

Notice I do not say "Fourth of July." Everyone has a fourth of July. Even Great Britain.

And if you do not understand why I single out Great Britain, you are (unfortunately and sadly) in good company, with approximately 25% of the citizens of the US of A. At least according to a recent poll.

May you be safe in your revels. Try not to blow off any body parts (I speak from personal experience as a childhood friend nearly blew his hand off with fireworks. I myself burned myself quite badly with a sparkler I thought was spent; I learned differently when a piece fell on my sandal-clad foot and badly burned two toes.)

May you remember not just our freedoms, rights, and gifts we enjoy as citizens, but also those who fought (and those who died) for the defense of the US of A and those freedoms, rights, and gifts. Take some time in the next 24 hours to read about those freedoms, rights, and gifts; there are plenty of places.... Try here for example.

May you remember who put their lives on the line some 235 years ago, committing treason to do so, and signed a document hitherto unknown in the history of our world. These brave men...these heroes...their names are as follows:
Delaware
•George Read •Caesar Rodney •Thomas McKean

Pennsylvania
•George Clymer •Benjamin Franklin •Robert Morris •John Morton •Benjamin Rush •George Ross •James Smith •James Wilson •George Taylor

Massachusetts
•John Adams •Samuel Adams •John Hancock •Robert Treat Paine •Elbridge Gerry

New Hampshire
• Josiah Bartlett •William Whipple •Matthew Thornton

Rhode Island
•Stephen Hopkins •William Ellery

New York
•Lewis Morris •Philip Livingston •Francis Lewis •William Floyd

Georgia
•Button Gwinnett •Lyman Hall •George Walton

Virginia
•Richard Henry Lee •Francis Lightfoot Lee •Carter Braxton •Benjamin Harrison •Thomas Jefferson •George Wythe •Thomas Nelson, Jr.

North Carolina
•William Hooper •John Penn •Joseph Hewes

South Carolina
•Edward Rutledge •Arthur Middleton •Thomas Lynch, Jr. •Thomas Heyward, Jr.

New Jersey
•Abraham Clark •John Hart •Francis Hopkinson •Richard Stockton •John Witherspoon

Connecticut
•Samuel Huntington •Roger Sherman •William Williams •Oliver Wolcott

Maryland
•Charles Carroll •Samuel Chase •Thomas Stone •William Paca

In fact, take some time and learn about these heroes. This site is a good place to start.

But you should not stop there. Remember the document itself. That piece of parchment that declared thirteen colonies' independence from a distant king. Join me, my LW, and the Horde as we read the words together first thing tomorrow morning. These are words, along with the Constitution, that should never be forgotten.

Never.

With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, I pledge to these principles, my Life, my Fortune, and my sacred Honor.

Happy Independence Day.... A Happy Birthday to the Greatest Country on Earth. We may have some problems, but we are a darn sight better than the alternatives.

And as you prepare to label me a "jingoist," let me just say: go right ahead. That is your right to believe and speak as you wish.

That is all part of what we are celebrating.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Crisis of Faith

A crisis of faith?

Perhaps that is the wrong description. Call it more of a crisis of belief? I am sure that I could come up with something more clever and apropos this morning, but I am simply not in the mood. I simply do not feel creative.

I have decided I am done with the practice of law.

Unfortunately, the existence of my LW and the Horde kind of make the practical desertion from the practice...um, unpracticable.

But my heart is no longer in it. At all.

It is not just the practice of consumer bankruptcy, although I think that has a lot to do with it. I have tried for years to salve my discontent with the answer that I am helping people, doing good for people's lives, and so forth. But I cannot use that excuse any longer.

There are just too many people that come in and want to abuse and play the system.

There are too many people who come in, after having dug themselves into an insurmountable hole, and then blame you for their trials and troubles.

There are too many people unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions.

There are too many people willing to lie to you, their attorney, simply because they think that it will turn out better for them in the end.

And there are just too few people willing to give a simple "thank you."

Not to mention the lousy pay.

Need I go on?

A friend proposed that what I am feeling is nothing more than a simple mid-life crisis. I do not believe that to be the case. I do not wish to buy a sports car, or a boat, or have an extramarital affair. I do not wish to go back to school, or open my own business, or take up sky diving, or any of the myriad of usual things men do when undergoing a mid-life crisis.

I simply want to take my LW and the Horde, load up the Ford, stock up the trailer, and drive off into the mountains. You know, find a little meadow somewhere and just BE.

I simply want to be left alone.

I want to not worry through the night about THAT client: the one who comes forward mid-case to give you a case-destroying piece of information that they "forgot"; the one that blames you for all of the post-filing pay-day loans she took out; the one who somehow sees it as your responsibility that they have not paid their mortgage(s) in seven months but could afford the trip to Disneyland; the one for whom the office buys a Thanksgiving dinner who later tells the Court she has no idea who you are.

The other day, I had a client thank me for helping themn get back on their feet, relieving their stress, getting them in a frame of mind where they could work and be productive again, and basically crediting me for all the recent good in their lives. It made me feel really good.

The warm fuzzies lasted about an hour.

Until another client called to accuse me of falsifying numbers in his case, numbers calculated by a formula that Congress, the Justice Department, the Courts, and the Chapter 13 Trustees have all developed and forced upon me. I did that; It's MY fault that she had overtime for the past two years and, despite that fact, the overtime is not guaranteed and somehow should not be calculated into her anticipated gross income.

For every one appreciative client, for every client whose life you actually touch for the better, for every client that understands that you are helping them out of a hole of (typically) their own creation, for every "good" client I am inundated with at least 99 more that are lying, unfeeling, uncaring, abusive cretins.

Oddly, it is not the confrontation with opposing attorneys; there is very little of that in our tiny little section of the Bar. It is the confrontation with our own clients that has driven me to detest the very practice of the Law, driven me to taste bile at the thought of my office, and to cause near-physical pain at the idea of getting up in the morning and facing the day.

It is a practice that drains your emotions, that drains your Spirituality, that drains your spirit, and that drains your love for practically anything else in your life.

It is a practice that wads up your creativity and tosses it in the toilet, that causes your Muse to turn her back on you in disgust, that causes food to taste like sawdust, music to sound like noise, and simple, peaceful quiet to become deafening.

It is a practice that causes you to vent your frustrations--at other drivers on the road, at your family, at your friends, and at your employees. It is a practice that literally made me weep as I drove to the office this morning.

Believe me, if there was anything else I could do that would provide sufficient financial support for my LW and the Horde, I would be there in a heartbeat. I probably would only stop to fill one box with possessions; the rest of my office space can just go hang. But I have to be an adult about this: someone once said that you are not supposed to enjoy what you do everyday--that is why it is called "work." Well, I do not enjoy what I do everyday; I cannot fool myself any longer.

I am done.

But I am still here.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Road Signs: Detour

Over at The Spirit of the Law, there is a new post by yours truly. As you may remember, I am one of the moderators of the site, albeit a long-dormant moderator. I promised the guys over there I would not be too free with cross-posting. However, I feel strongly about this one, so I must beg their indulgence. I would also ask that you take a trip over there if you are so inclined to read the comments that I am sure this post will ignite.

The post itself is called Freedom is Refreshing. And it goes a little something like this:

Freedom.

It is like 7-Up for the soul.

Yeah... its lemon-lime (cannot say lymon, because that is Sprite, after all) effervesence that makes your nose tickle when you take that first drink? That is the feeling of freedom.

I am talking about all kinds of freedom.

The freedom to stand up on a soapbox in a park and proudly proclaim your beliefs without worrying about being arrested (so long as you are not inciting violence).

The freedom to carry your Beretta where- and whenever (nearly) you want to do so.
(Aside: For the record, that is "Beretta" not "Baretta": it is difficult to carry a private investigator wherever you go, let alone his cockatoo 'Fred.').

The freedom to vote for whomever you wish without fear of reprisal or intimidation.

The freedom to read, or write, the books you want without oppression or censorship.

The freedom to be able to worship how, where, and when you desire.

Except in the so-called Bloggernacle, apparently.

Unfortunately, it is an all-too-common practice among supposedly observant Latter-day Saint blog-hosts/-moderators to moderate, censor, and yes, even stifle debate. That is to say, debate against the ideas they believe and support. They willingly moderate and hold posts, preparing and scripting their responses. And then, when they feel they are losing or have lost the argument, shut down the comments altogether. Who knows why they do it: fear? hatred? shame? I do not claim to know. All I know is that, when faced with a little opposition, they inevitably suddenly up and walk away home, taking their baseball with them, bragging to everybody how they won the game.... Of course, it was their ball, and when they leave, how can you argue with them that they won the game?

That is one reason I am proud to be a member of this blog. The Spirit of The Law, regardless of how vitriolic some of us moderators become, it is in defense of our beliefs, beliefs that are under common and vile attacks elsewhere in the supposedly observant and routinely hypocritical LDS Bloggernacle. A place where the Brethren of the Church have urged members to bear our testimonies of the Living Christ and of the truthfulness of His Gospel, and the Restoration of the Gospel in the Latter-days. A place where, all too often, those testimonies are belittled and challenged by those who think that those Brethren--Brethren they supposedly sustain, by the way--are out-dated in their thinking, that they "just don't understand," or even worse, bigots and/or deranged.

Yes, this is the state of a large portion of the "Bloggernacle." It is a hostile place out there. Heck, sometimes it is a hostile place here, too. None of us is perfect, after all.

But for those of you who disagree with the moderators of this site, remember this: at least here, you -- a dissenter -- you get a hearing. I am not sure that I can remember an instance of any of the moderators shutting down argument or locking up a thread. Here, we understand Agency; we may not agree with your choice, or your perspective, or your comments, but you are free to make your argument.

For this, I say 'thank you' to my fellow moderators. I can feel my nose tickling.

And that is Freedom.

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