Friday, May 29, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Letters I've been meaning to write.

Dear Burger King,

I don't have any children. But, typically, I think most parents would want to avoid a kids' meal advertisement that consists entirely of a bunch of provocative women dancing (women dancing provocatively?) during a voice over. Even if the punchline is that the women have "Sponge-Bob" bumbs.



Dear Brother Dave,

You may have noted that you and I have played 36 games of Quordy over the last month. I'm certain you've also noticed the score. You: 35 Me: 1.

I have a confession: I cheated.

I couldn't find a 5-letter word on the board; I couldn't bear the humiliation of another zero point score on a one-minute game. It's so stressful! So I wrote the board down as quickly as I could and paused the game. Then I used an internet cheat. There were only two words in the board. I put them both in. That's how I won. I'm sorry.

Forgive me? I promise not to do it again! Give me many more chances, please? With a cherry on top?? If I ever manage to beat you (unlikely -- since my vocabulary and visual word recognition are far inferior), I promise it will be because I worked really hard.



Dear kitchen sink,

If I ask really nicely, will you stop leaking? I'm not sure what else to do, since I can't even tell where you're leaking from.



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Whiskers on kittens.

Peacock blue
The Notwist
Lily of the Valley
Grizzly Bear
Being outside
Handkerchief skirts
Travel plans
Movies that always make me cry
Picture frames
National Geographic
Smart people
Area rugs
The symphony

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A discursive digression: Precursor for mediocrity.

Socrates: Death might be the greatest of all human blessings.

C.S. Lewis: "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: [that is,] ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

President Gordon B. Hinckley, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: "I'll be remembered as the prophet no one listened to."

Guy Kawasaki: "Don't worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test... Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap - but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.”

Ted Koppel: (It's long, but worth it. He said this in the late 80's, but subsititute Internet for TV, or at least add Internet, and it's still 100% relevant.) “America has been Vannatized as in Vanna White -- Wheel of Fortune's vestal virgin. Through the mysterious alchemy of popular television Ms. White is roundly, indeed all but universally adored. She turns blocks on which a letter is displayed. She does this very well; very fluidly and with what appears to be genuine enjoyment. She also does it mutely. Vanna says nothing. She speaks only body language; and she seems to like everything she sees. No, "like" is too tepid. Vanna thrills, rejoice, adores everything she sees. And therein lies her magic.

“We have no idea what or even if Vanna thinks. Is she a feminist or every male chauvinist's dream? She is whatever you want her to be. Sister, lover, daughter, friend. The viewer can and apparently does project a thousand different personalities onto the charming neutral television image and she accommodates them all.

“Even Vanna White's autobiography, (an oxymoron if ever there was one) reveals only that her greatest nightmare is running out of cat food; and that one of the complexities of her job entails making proper allowance for the greater weight of the letter "M" or "W" over the letter "I," for example. Once, we learn, during her earlier, less experienced days, she failed to take that "heavy-letter-factor" into proper account and broke a fingernail. I tremble to think what judgment a future anthropologist, finding that book, will render on our society. I tremble not out of fear that they will misjudge us; that they will judge us only too accurately.

"Let's take inventory for a moment. Sixty percent or more of the American public, roughly 140 million people, get most or all of their news from television. What then should we or must we conclude? Whatever your merchandise, if you want to move it in bulk, you flog it on TV. Merchants trying to sell their goods, politicians trying to sell their ideas, preachers trying to sell their gospel or their morality -- all of these items are most efficiently sold on TV. If that doesn't scare the living daylight out of you, then you're not paying attention.

"But let's focus on our national policies; let's look at our principles -- our ethical and moral standards. How do they fare on television? We've learned, for example, that your attention span is brief. We should know; we helped make it that way. Watch Miami Vice some Friday night. You will find that no scene lasts more than ten to fifteen seconds.

"Look at MTV or Good Morning America and watch the images and ideas flash past in a blur of impressionistic appetizers. No, there is not much room on TV for complexity. You can partake of our daily banquet without drawing on any intellectual resources; without either physical or moral discipline. We require nothing of you; only that you watch; or say that you were watching if Mr. Nielsen's representative should call.

“And gradually, it must be said, we are beginning to make our mark on the American psyche. We have actually convinced ourselves that slogans will save us. ‘Shoot up if you must; but use a clean needle.’ ‘Enjoy sex whenever with whomever you wish; but wear a condom.’

"No. The answer is no. Not no because it isn't cool or smart or because you might end up in jail or dying in an AIDS ward -- but no, because it's wrong. Because we have spent 5,000 years as a race of rational human being trying to drag ourselves out of the primeval slime by searching for truth and moral absolutes.

“In the place of Truth we have discovered facts; for moral absolutes we have substituted moral ambiguity. We now communicate with everyone and say absolutely nothing. We have reconstructed the Tower of Babel and it is a television antenna. A thousand voices producing a daily parody of democracy; in which everyone's opinion is afforded equal weight, regardless of substance or merit. Indeed, it can even be argued that opinions of real weight tend to sink with barely a trace of television's ocean banalities.

"Our society finds Truth too strong a medicine to digest undiluted. In its purest form Truth is not a polite tap on the shoulder; it is a hallowing reproach.

"What Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions, they are Commandments. Are. Not were.

"The sheer brilliance of the Ten Commandments is that they codify, in a handful of words, acceptable human behavior. Not just for then or now but for all time. Language evolves, power shifts from nation to nation, messages are transmitted with the speed of light, man erases one frontier after another; and yet we and our behavior, and the Commandments which govern that behavior, remain the same. The tension between those Commandments and our baser instincts provide the grist for journalism's daily mill. What a huge, gaping void there would be in our informational flow and in our entertainment without routine violation of the Sixth Commandment. Thou shalt not murder.

"On what did the Hart campaign flounder? On accusations that he violated the Seventh Commandment. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Relevant? Of course the Commandments are relevant. Simply because we use different term and tools, the Eighth Commandment is still relevant to the insider trading scandal. Thou shalt not steal. Watch the Iran/Contra hearings and keep the Ninth Commandment in mind: Thou shalt not bear false witness. And the Tenth Commandment, which seems to have been crafted for the 80's and the Me Generation. The Commandment against covetous desires; against longing for anything we cannot get in an honest and legal fashion.

"When you think about it, it's curious, isn't it. We've changed in almost all things -- where we live, how we eat, communicate, travel; and yet, in our moral and immoral behavior we are fundamentally unchanged.

"Jesus summed it up: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ So much for our obligations towards our fellow man. That's what the last five Commandments are all about.

"The first five are more complex in that they deal with figures of moral authority. The Fifth Commandment requires us to honor our father and mother. Religious scholars through the years have concluded that it was inscribed on the first tablet among the laws and piety toward God because, as far as their children are concerned, parents stand in the place of God. What a strange conclusion! Us in the place of God. We, who set such flawed examples for you. And yet, in our efforts to love you, to provide for you, in our efforts to forgive you when you make mistakes, we do our feeble best to personify that perfect image of love and forgiveness and Providence which some of us find in God.

"Which brings me to the First and, in this day and age probably the most controversial of the Commandments, since it requires that we believe in the existence of a single and supreme God. And then, in the Second, Third, and Fourth Commandments, prohibits the worship of any other gods, forbids that his name be taken in vain, requires that we set aside one day in seven to rest and worship Him. What a bizarre journey; from a sweet, undemanding Vanna White to that all-demanding jealous Old Testament God.

"There have always been imperfect role models; false gods of material success and shallow fame; but now their influence is magnified by television. I caution you, as one who performs daily on that flickering altar, to set your sights beyond what you can see. There is true majesty in the concept of an unseen power which can neither be measured nor weighed. There is harmony and inner peace to be found in following a moral compass that points in the same direction, regardless of fashion or trend."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My biggest fear

is failure. But not in the job interview sort of way: "My biggest weakness is that I'm afraid of failure and that just drives me to work harder and always put out a superior product."

Some might argue my biggest fear is somewhat related and you, too, may construe it as hype in the end, but allow me to explain. I'm not afraid of failure because failure itself is scary. I'm afraid of failure because my biggest life ambition is to make a difference to people, to make the world a better place, to make things more beautiful, peaceful, happy and meaningful. To me, a general failure equates to failure (sorry -- not another word in my head at 1 a.m.) to meet ANY of those goals.

I'm afraid of not meaning anything to anyone. Probably because I'm continually surprised by how little anyone actually means to anyone else. Unfortunately, I think most people care for a very small handful of people, but mostly about themselves. I'm probably like that, too. But I don't want to be. And I'm afraid I'll never be in anyone's handful. I've been stung to learn I'm not in some the handfuls I thought I was in. But that's good for the ego, I suppose. And I'm sure it's my fault, anyway.

But not meaning anything to anyone is really a symptom of not being able to make a difference to that person, to make their life better, easier, or happier. And that? Is tragic to me. Because I failed to meet their needs -- failed to get to know them enough to do it successfully. Failed to be selfless enough to let them know how much they are loved. Maybe even failed to be selfless enough to love them. Ugh...

I'm afraid that I'm only a little good at a lot of things, and not very good at most things (possibly anything). This is an incredible blessing and a mild curse. It's hard to know where to place my focus, because so many things are interesting to me. There are so many avenues to pursue. I have so many opportunities and doors open to me. How could someone so outwardly brag and complain at the same moment? How can someone even complain about that?

The thing is: I'm afraid THAT means that I'll never really accomplish anything. Not only do I not really know WHERE to focus, I'm not even sure I want to focus on one thing. I have a passion for too many things, and not enough time to devote to any of them to become adequate. And being inadequate (or -- at least -- not fully adequate) means I'm not very close to making someone's life better, making the world better, or making things generally more beautiful, peaceful, happy and meaningful.

Sorry, I'm rambling and I have a lot of thoughts in my head. Maybe you'll get more on this later when I'm coherent. So, dear reader (although I hope someday to say "readers"), tell me something: What do you fear? How do you get around your fears? Do you have any advice for me?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Consider this.

Here's a little E secret: when I was younger, among my many dreams, I dreamed about being a fashion designer. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and draw sketches of cool clothing ideas that came to me. Unfortunately, this dress was not one of them.

I'm not sure if I love this dress exactly (I'm pretty sure her socks are getting in the way of me fully evaluating the dress), but the idea is pretty cool -- if you didn't ruin it, which I might. I DO, however, know that I love the neckline. A lot.

To do this weekend:

make homemade salsa and homemade rolls. Don't eat together, but make sure they're both as tasty as I hope. If they are, begin selling to my awaiting public.

finish reading one of my books.

finish making an elephant, and make a pig and a whale.

watch the Wolverine movie.

try to understand why I sort of liked a Pussycat Dolls song on my drive to work this morning!

throw a party in Brigham City.

eat a smoothie at lunch with a friend.

craft a necklace.

clean my house, and actually get to all of it.

work on getting a chapter finished for my latest writing effort.

go to Costco, get some strawberries for jam, print some London pictures.

make jam. Maybe serve with aforementioned rolls.

pick frames for London pictures, hang in house, smile.

design some logos.

continue to be aggravatingly persistent in trying to learn how the heck to absorb the world of programming and create a website.

go on a hike. Or, if it's just too rainy, go to the sporting goods store, dream, and laugh at your pathetic attempts to learn how to swing a golf club. Charm everyone around you. If option two, go to the gym, too.

go to concert. Revel.

go to church.

enjoy a delicious potluck dinner.

buy tickets to California.

ummm... there were a few other things, but I can't quite remember.