Monday, March 10, 2014

Such Childishness

1 Corinthians 13:11 states:

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." (KJV)

It seems that the only time I hear this is when a curmudgeon wants to tell me off for enjoying something that one would think is reserved for the whippersnappers. Being a 24-year-old, university-going semi-professional means that certain things are now off limits, simply because I'm "too old for that sort of thing." The carefree days of Lego marathons, eating ice cream shaped like a cartoon's head, and hitting bottles with a slingshot are to be over and done with.

Launching these furious guys at pigs is kosher, though.
'Splain that.

While I agree that a Sonic the Hedgehog ice cream face doesn't give a good first impression at the monthly staff meeting, it certainly has its place. In front of easily frightened children isn't it.

The 2000s weren't good to the Blue Blur.

Heck, I even brought my heroically impressive Megatron (Beast Wars dragon form, of course) up to Logan this weekend. The reason's a simple one: It's pretty neat. No ulterior motives, no endorsements from Hasbro, just an innocent desire to recall the days of yore. He also acts as a cheap form of home protection, with his energy blaster arm cannon and extending wings. Don't mess.

All of this Transformers action got me a-thinking: What other delightful remnants of childhood am I forgetting? I've heard the commercials boasting an ability to "take you back to the magical days of your youth," but it didn't click until recently. This past Christmas was illuminating; it didn't feel as "Christmas-y" as I remembered. In fact, ever since the mission, it hasn't felt quite as festive or exciting. Was I doing it wrong? I set some Christmas carol stations as my presets, watched more Christmas movies than I usually do, and ate more candy than was completely necessary. You know, for science.

There's a thesis in there somewhere.

I read an article by Olivia Meikle on KSL the other day that started this whole train of thought (The original post is most definitely worth a look). She describes her time living in Beijing, and a slice of Chinese culture that surprised her. Adults would ask her if she could "play" with them. Not hang out or chill, but play

And play they did. Meikle paints a scene of a park filled with thousands of adults of all ages dancing, singing, writing, playing sports, painting, etc., almost entirely impromptu. You show up to sing, find a group that's belting out your jams, and join in. No sign-up sheets, no scheduled lessons, and most importantly, no stigma. You do it because you love it, and others watch/listen/read/observe with real interest and fascination because you enjoy it. They don't want to hear a Bach aficionado wail on the harpsichord (as fantastically awesome as that is, I assure you), but to watch a great-grandmother haphazardly practice her calligraphy with some paint on the curb, reading her poems as they materialize on the pavement. It's not about skill or exhibition, it's about people having fun for fun's sake.

I want to get in on that! Why aren't our parks full of amateur yet enthusiastic artists and subtle performers? When someone is drawing one of those 3D chalk murals on the sidewalk, don't we stop to look? Is it about the art, or watching the artist? It's nearly as enjoyable to observe the creator work their magic as it is to witness the final product. Street miming doesn't count, though. Still creepy.

Where "art" and "oh, boy..." meet.

Say what you want about a mime; they don't complain much.

What are some bits of childhood that you felt compelled to leave behind that you miss? Given the opportunity, what would you indulge in again? Leave a message in the comments, if you'd be so kind. 

Note: Using LEGOs isn't a childish pursuit, but a fundamental aspect of being a decent human being. Wanted to clear up any confusion.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Stereotypes are bad and stuff.

"Utah drivers are terrible."

This seemingly-cliche declaration of vehicular superiority never really made me all that mad, but it did seem pretty unfounded. Those who threw this bit down were usually from Idaho, where the roads seemed to be the site of a NASCAR qualifier that no one had bothered to put an end to. How can they stamp on the Beehive State's honor like that when, where they're from, a vehicle that can't flatten a hippo isn't a vehicle worth driving?

It gets five feet to the gallon, too.

When the word "stereotype" makes it to CNN, they're usually flashing pictures of racial differences, religious bouts, and the like. Most stereotypes that we deal with, though, seem fairly petty in comparison (such as driving + home state). While some are out of left field, there are a few staple snap judgments. Some are unfounded (see above), but others have a ring of truth. Does that make it better or worse to mention them?

I don't know. If you want moral direction, turn to Mr. Rogers, not someone that just denigrated the population of Idaho. Oh, and to "denigrate" means to "put down," my friends to the north.

I kid, I kid. Really, Idaho is one of my favorite spots on the planet. I'm half-Idahoan, for taters' sake. How can you hate Idaho? They're gracious enough to share the most fantastic potatoes in the US of A. And who doesn't like potatoes?

Terrorists, that's who.

"Infidel fuel."

Anyway, some more stereotypes? Might as well; I've already angered the folks of the Gem State. My time may be short.

"Have you heard their Southern drawl? They must be pretty dull."

We have cartoons to thank for this gem. How many Disney bits have the scientist or mastermind dropping "y'all" here and there? (On that note, why are all cartoon scientists German?) When someone wants to feign stupidity while telling a story or relaying an event, you've got the customary pitch drop and horribly-rendered hillbilly accent.

I was in the South for two years, and I can bust this one. There were people down there that could out-brain any of us with their hippocampus tied behind their back. All that, with a drawl as thick as molasses. "So there aren't any cognitively-challenged individuals down yonder, then?" Of course there are; you can find dimwits anywhere, if you look hard enough. There just happens to be an abundance wherever you find [insert rival sports team] fans.

"She's just a stay-at-home mom."

Ooooooh, man. You just... you didn't... Oooooooh...

Welp... It's been real, friend.

Find three cats with symptoms of ADHD, and inject them with class-A heroin. Then, disarm a nuke under the streets of San Francisco with sunglasses on at night. While that's all going down, make sure that satellite launch you're overseeing in Croatia is going according to plan, even though one of the engineers showed up drunk.

Bundle that together in a Uranium crock pot, set on "devastatingly unpredictable," and let it simmer for a few days. Gather the results, and multiply by about the radius of Neptune. In feet. You've about reached the difficulty level of being a stay-at-home mom. Now repeat 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, for as long as those "ADHD/heroin cats" decide to stay at home.

Kind of a... colorful way of describing it, but from what I've observed (and what little I understand), being a stay-at-home mom is hard. Very hard. We're talking Chuck-Norris-knuckle-tips hard (they can break steel, diamond, and the fabric of spacetime). So when a woman is asked what she wants to do, and they respond "be a mom," I don't roll my eyes like much of the professional world. Have you ever seen the ending of "Rudy?"

It's like that, but in my head. Props, moms and future-moms.

Speaking of the female folk:

"Women are illogical. They're totally run by their emotions."

Nope. Not gonna touch this one. I've already got Idaho crying for blood, I don't need half the Earth's population to join their ranks.

"People who go into psychology are crazy themselves, for sure."

Okay, I'm biased on this front. Yes, it's true you can visit any psych department at any university and find your fair share of dingbats. However, as with the "where to find idiots" idea, you can observe nutters in any field. I was astounded, as a psychology major, at the lack of insanity among my ranks. Most are very stable men and women, who have a passion for people and how they work.

Now, if you're looking for a den of lunatics, there are other buildings I can direct you to.

"The syllabus... I can't stop seeing the syllabus..."

"You're 6'6", and you're afraid of heights?!"

"You spent nine months in a uterus, with no wiggle room, and you're claustrophobic?"
And boom goes that logic.

What about you? Any misguided pigeonholing that gets your goat? Proverbial horsing around that gets your tail in a twist? Some piggish ideas that you'd like to rat out?

Okay, I'm done.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What's to fear? Oh... I see...

A few weeks ago, my physiological psychology (neurology) professor was bestowing upon us all kinds of knowledge-y bits concerning the emotion we call fear. Have you ever thought about what it'd be like to describe fear to someone who'd never felt it before?

"You see something that might hurt you, and your blood starts pumping pretty hard. You have an urge to run."
"Ah... I remember you saying that you're afraid of cows. Do you think they'll hurt you?"
"Well... no. But it's just... they're... cows. You know?"

Behold, the face of terror made manifest.

Fear of fire might be easier to explain, or even fear of dogs. But cows? Come to think of it, there are lots of "common" phobias out there that may not be completely rational. Let's take a closer look:

(DISCLAIMER! If I poke fun at one of your greatest fears, don't get all huffy. You'll have your revenge at the end of the post.)


This is a fairly common one, and rightfully so! A fall of a few feet can off a person; even a few inches can lay on the hurt, if physics happens to be in that kind of mood at the time. That being so, the basic idea of acrophobia (fear of heights) makes sense. But why, then, do I get nervous when I'm on a balcony 20 feet up, but not when I'm on a roller coaster?
Screaming around a massive track at 2 to 3 G's, being tossed around like a Nerf football at a family reunion? Feeling great. Near the top of a 16-foot ladder? Activate panic mode, and pray for gravity to be merciful.

Heh heh... "Mercy" ...


Too many bugs are venomous, whose bites can kill, maim, or make your shin look like Mount Kilimanjaro. Given that, one's instinctual fear of them makes sense. But moths?! 

I know of folks who are deathly afraid of moth, butterflies, potato bugs, you name it. I'm not the biggest fan of creepy crawlies myself. (Living in the South for two years intensified that hatred fifty fold. I'm looking at you, cockroaches.) Still, butterflies? What are they going to do, flutter? Mosey? Peacefully glide into your nose and suck out your brain? You've been watching Jumanji, haven't you?


Why clowns?

That's why. 'Nuff said. Moving on.


There's some real social psychology at the heart of this one: We have our pride to defend, and that's pretty tough when you're stumbling like a newborn giraffe over the word "implications." That, and there's no real escape when you're speaking to the masses; you can't just bound over the podium and make a break for it. Well... you could, but they probably wouldn't invite you to speak in church again for a while. Don't get any ideas.

"The pews are hurdles! The pews are hurdles!"

Jerry Seinfeld once joked about the fact that public speaking is the #1 fear in America. It's ranked higher than death. That means, according to Mr. Seinfeld, most people would rather be chilling in the casket rather than giving the eulogy. Huh.

Remember how I mentioned y'all would be getting your revenge at the end of the post? It comes in the form of a confession. One of my greatest fears?


'Tis true, I'm afraid. A phobia that's most often associated with children's books and comforting monologues from Mr. Rogers haunts me to this day. You're probably laughing. I'm okay with that. Really though, it's cool; I acknowledge that it's an fairly irrational fear. True, if you're struck by a bolt of lightning you can be cooked from the inside out, but there's really nothing to fear. Even a near miss can cause hearing loss, but hey, no sweat. It's just nature's pure, unadulterated fury being manifest in a flash of white-hot electrical ire.

When Mother Nature finds the toilet seat up.

My grandma has never been a fan of lightning, and the same goes for my mom. Did I inherit this terror from them, genetically or via observation? I like to think so. Makes me feel better about the whole thing.

Serving a mission in South Carolina didn't help this one much, either. During the summer months, they have a thunderstorm roll in at 5:00 pm (you can set your watch by it) that sticks around for about twenty minutes, then goes on its merry way. You'd think that repeated exposure would snap me out of it. Nope. Nope nope nope. If the sky is a-rumblin', I'm inside, reminding myself that being nearly as tall as a lightning rod doesn't mean I'm in any increased danger.

So, what are YOU afraid of? Leave a comment below, and spill the beans.
Unless you're afraid of legumes. We understand.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

And you are...?

There was a newlywed couple that I taught while on my mission. They lived in an area called Gaston, south of Cayce ("By the River"). They had a two-story house, with a pond/marsh behind their property. He was taller, with black hair and a larger nose. She was petite, had red hair, and was a little timid. Their dog, Kratos (a name the husband gleaned from one of his favorite video games), was a Pit Bull mix, with a gray body and white "socks." He was going to a community college to become a technician, while she was working as a secretary. Their living room had a glass table in the middle, with a black leather couch on one side, and a green microfiber sofa on the other.

For the life of me, I cannot remember their names.

I get this error a lot. It's like my
brain is running Windows Vista.

My brain sees fit to store every last detail of their lives I could glean, but can't spare a few neurons to keep their names.

It's always been this way: I can recall details about a person, yet their name fades like an optimistic mood on a Monday morning. More than a few times, I've learned someone's name, only to realize that I can't remember it less than ten seconds after they just gave it to me.

When I tell people about my brain-leak, the response is nearly universal: "I'm horrible at remembering names, too!" If this is true, and the majority of folks have trouble recalling what you're called, why don't we get rid of that social stigma of asking a person's name again? And again? And again?

Picture a world like that. You wouldn't hurt her feelings when you spaced while asking her out. He'd forgive you for introducing him as "Jack" to your coworkers, when you meant to say "Jake," "Jackson," or "Omar." 

Do want.

Alas, we still live in a reality where asking for a refresher is interpreted as "you're so insignificant to me, I didn't even bother to make note of your existence." At least, that what I think it means, judging by the death-glare they often beam out.

With that in mind, I've concocted a system to get someone's name for the second (or third, or fourth...) time with little or no chance of getting slammed with the evil eye:

1) Hear the person's name.
2) Immediately forget it (don't worry, this part comes naturally).
3) Later, when seeing that person in an informal context, ask them how to spell their name.
4) Brace for the weird look they're bound to send your way. Who asks how to spell "Sarah," or "Jim?"
5) Respond with a friendly "No, your last name!" [Of course they're asking for my last name! They know how to spell "Jim"... Silly me.]
  5.1) If their last name is also common and easy to spell, explain that you've seen alternate spellings, and you       
         didn't want to mix theirs up.
6) After they spell both first and last, write it down. Not only does it keep you from forgetting again as easily, but it shows them just how intent you are to remember their name. Why not just write it down the first time? That may come across as rather creepy, if the situation isn't right.

There you have it; you've just snagged their full name again, written it down, and shown that you care enough to make a note of who they are, with no hurt feelings.

Deceptive, you say? Possibly. It's either that, or you can keep asking them who in the world they are, negative karma and all.

What do y'all think? Are you good at remembering names? What's your secret? Do you have a special way to remember who people are? Share in the comments, if you please. 

Leave your name, too. Just in case.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's Fall! ... Autumn? ...

The leaves are changing, seedy temporary-Halloween stores are popping up, temperatures are dropping (sorry, Southern Hemisphere friends), pumpkins are finding their way into every species of sweet on the planet, and the Christmas decorations are showing up in stores (I'm not touching that one). It must be Fall! Or Autumn, if you're the kind of person who calls the color "violet" and pronounces the first "r" in "February."

"I drive a Prius, too."

Fall is one of my favorite times of year, as it contains both Halloween and Thanksgiving, and heralds the imminent arrival of Christmas soon after its passing. What's not to love?

Quite a bit, it seems. For every fan of something, there needs be a hater; even peaceful Fall is targeted. (And it's the Switzerland of seasons!) We're going to do our best to rebuke the naysayers of these wonderful few months! Who will join me?!


-"Fall is too cold. You can't do anything fun outside."

If you're more than a year old, you must be quite aware that Winter is, in fact, much colder. It's all about relativity. Heck, 110 degrees in the summer is cold, if you're from Venus. Enjoy what little free heat the sun's giving you now. It won't last.

Also, Google "hoodie." 

-"All the trees are dead or dying. It's depressing."

When humans die naturally, we take it nice and slow. We don't get much prettier. In fact, it's a wonderful compliment to be told that you're "aging gracefully." People spend billions of dollars a year trying to look younger, but eventually to no avail.

What do leaves do when they die? They make it nice and quick, so you don't have to rake the yard but a few times.They spend their last days changing the color of their entire being, and you get to enjoy the free show. Yeah, they may be dying, but they're being considerate while doing it. What will you be doing when you're in their position? Probably yelling at the darned Henderson kids to get off your lawn.

Pine needles don't get in on this aging and changing stuff, though. They're like the Dolly Parton of greenery.

1980? 2012? 2023?

-"I don't like the taste of pumpkin, and it's getting into everything."

Well, I'm sure glad the pioneers never had to put up with that! All their food tasted like leather and dirt. No pumpkin there! Lucky folk.

I don't like sour cream, so I guess I can relate to these people when I go to a Mexican restaurant. Still, it's only for a month. Let us have this.

-"Halloween is stupid. You're forced to give candy to kids that made their parents spend way too much on a shoddy costume. Plus, you're surrounded by a bunch of idiot adults that still dress up!"

I think there was a House episode about this... Some father and daughter posse couldn't feel happiness because of a genetic disorder... I'd look into that.

Costumes are fun. Everyone knows it, but because of all these pesky "social rules" we insist on keeping around, it's not considered appropriate to show up at the office dressed as the Green Lantern in March (unless you work at one of those offices). We get one shot each year to convince everyone that we can actually pull off a purple tailcoat, so don't ruin this for us. Just buy the cheap candy and wait it out.

Until then, you can go chill with this guy:

"So... many... feelings..."

To all my fellow Fall-appreciators, let us roll in the leaves! Let us enjoy every pumpkin empanada and shake we can get our mitts on! Buy that cheap plastic mask and practice your raspy Batman voice!

It wouldn't hurt to TP the houses of the people we were just talking about, too. Just sayin'.

Friday, September 21, 2012

"Digital Artist"

There's a pop singer in Japan that's taking the oriental islands by storm. She's been around for a few years, and her empire gets bigger and bigger every year. She's toured in her native Japan, the United States, and Singapore. Her fans number in the millions, she has her visage on a race car, and there's currently a petition to get a doll that looks like her into space. Her name is Hatsune Miku. All of this, and she's only sixteen.

Well... kind of.

That's the unique thing about Ms. Miku: She doesn't exist. Not in the corporeal sense, anyway. Her voice is made by using a sound program, and her appearance was created by an illustrator. From the ground up, she's completely digital, artificial.

Yet, she's a star-and-a-half. She's made her parent company gobs of money, and has fans all over the world.  It makes you think about the argument that one day, computers will make artists redundant. Granted, Hatsune's music and stage presence is all done by composers and animators, so you arts majors can breathe easy.

Justin Bieber of the future? 
Oh, wait, I said "artists."

Whoa, whoa, stage presence? Yep, she holds concerts; SOLD OUT concerts in Japan and the US, with thousands of fans, light shows, and a live band to boot.

Hit the pause button on the music player to
the right. You've got to hear/see this.

That's some mind-blowing stuff. You've got a crowd of people cheering to a voice that isn't (exactly) real, and to a "singer" that's not even there. Dungeons & Dragons, Renaissance Fairs, and Fantasy Football don't seem all that weird now, do they?

I bring this up because I have to ask: What does this kind of thing mean for the entertainment industry? We have amazing CGI capabilities, but that hasn't replaced our need for real-life actors. Will music follow the same path? Or are digital artists the way of the future?

I certainly hope not. R2-D2 singing "Ave Maria" would sound awful.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments, if you feel so inclined.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hey, guys! What'd I miss?

Through the lens of popular culture, going on a mission is a lot like being dead for two years. Because of the internet, TV, radio, and the fact that everyone can use these on their phones means that the latest and greatest from America's artists and stars spreads like wildfire. And since missionaries don't frequent any of those, they're a lot like that one guy up in the mountains that douses his property with water. None of that cultural wildfire there.

That's the Elders. Right there.

That being so, when I left my green patch last December and walked out onto the charred, cultured world (so to speak), there were a few things that caught me off guard. Turns out, American culture waits for no man, and while I was a-proselytin' in South Carolina, the media world decided to roll along without me. I'd heard a few things here and there about what was going on in the "real world," but now that I was supposed to experience them? It was like walking out of a "do not open until December 2011" sealed can. 

Bless my stars, a hipster!

Some things blew me away more than most. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the android Data is often confused by human behavior, and has to have it explained to him by the crew. Have you ever had to tell someone what a yawn is? (You probably just yawned. If not, then the previous sentence probably just did it.) Or why humans love music? That's probably what it was akin to when my poor friends and family were telling me what a hashtag was.

So, a few things I had to have explained to me:


Of course this was going to be a tough one. Even to those that were here 2009-2011, she's strange. I think that's her point, though... Still pondering that one. I remember someone telling me that she wore a "meat dress" to a red carpet event. I imagined a deep red evening gown maybe, with a few pieces of fried chicken hanging from the hem, or something like that.

50 wasted steaks, right there.

Good grief, the entire thing was 100% pure, real MEAT. After the Janet Jackson wardrobe planned stu... eh, malfunction, I thought we'd seen the weirdest clothing-TV spot in history (as well as stuff we wish we didn't see). But instead, we get ("get" being used liberally) to behold a pop star decked out in cow innards, who would later go on to sing "Born This Way." If you were born to wear meat in public, be glad you weren't around in the 1800's. They institutionalization folks like that.

This woman is world famous, selling more records than most of your favorite artists. That took some explaining.


I only missed James Cameron's "Avatar" by two days: I entered the MTC on December 16th, 2009, while the oversized Smurfs took to the theaters on the 18th. I spend a few months hearing about how amazing and visually stunning this film is, but never seeing it. 

I get home, and within a few days, my dad is telling me that I HAVE to see Avatar. He says that it's one of the coolest-looking movies since Star Wars. He was right: it was really, really fun to watch. I was blown away by what they could do with motion capture, CGI, sound, etc. I immediately started talking to my friends about how enjoyable this movie was.

My friends who had seen it two years ago.

It's exciting to be able to watch two years worth of good movies, all at once, if you wanted to. That makes it all the more disappointing when you realize that you can't really discuss many of them with your friends, and they've already moved onto bigger and better things. Like Justin Bieber.

Sorry. Moving on.

A sad example: A few days after getting home, I went to the Sprint store to snag a phone. When I left, it seemed that the only people with "real" smart phones were doctors, lawyers, and the pre-teen daughters of said doctors and lawyers. Now, they're like those floating spider webs: plentiful, scattered everywhere, and causing many an awkward social moment.

Anyway, I pick the phone I want, and the salesman goes on to point out some of its features. When he got to the part about apps?

How the... when did... how... I...

You can use Google Earth to see any spot on the planet from space. On your phone. You can video chat anywhere there's a WiFi or 4G signal. On your phone. You can translate French into Latin. On your phone. You can record a song and have the internet tell you what it is. On your phone. You can have a cat tap dance while singing the national anthem. On your PHONE.

As a tech-junkie, I was giddy. I need to share this with people! I need to spread this app-fueled elation with those around me! I downloaded an "air horn" app, which lets you use your phone as a train horn, a fog horn, or those annoying vuvuzelas you saw at the World Cup. I thought the comedic effect provided by this technological marvel would last for weeks on end.

You can imagine my despondency when I was told that the air horn was old hat, and by trying to use it for comedy was putting me into the same drawer as "hey, I'm still hip!" 40-year-old-parents. After a few more pathetic attempts at using the air horn to accentuate a point or two, I resigned myself to the fact that I'll just have to skip 2010 and 2011 DVR-style, and move on with everybody else. 

I still can't get over the BP oil spill, though. I mean, three months?!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why, back in my day...

Concerning today’s music scene, there’s no shortage of older folk who are all-too-quick to sneer at modern music, and complain about how the youth don’t appreciate “the classics” of “way back when.” Everyone gets attached to the music of their youth. If those past-jams are the sweet sounds of the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Louis Armstrong, or Scott Joplin (if they’re very old), that's their the musical “safe zone," I imagine. It’s the reason you get dirty looks from the more wizened generation whilst listening to dubstep, Imogen Heap, or Nicki Minaj. (Note: If you’re listening to Nicki Minaj, you probably deserved it. Just sayin’.)

I hope y’all are sitting down, because I have a secret to reveal: I’M one of those folks; the ones that shake their head at the unwillingness of whippersnappers to listen to the “classics.” I love the Beatles, Louis Armstrong, and heck, even Mr. Joplin. But the neglected classics I’m referring to are the most classic of classics:

Classical music.

Everyone who’s seen a Tom and Jerry cartoon has heard it, and most Zales Diamonds commercials piggyback on it, but fewer and fewer people seem to actually seek it out and enjoy it. Chill out, everyone, I’m not about to start a face-melting rant about how everyone is uncultured because they can’t tell the difference between an aria and an arpeggio. See, that’s just the problem: when others find out I’m a sucker for classical, they may assume that I’m also a prude. “Oh, he listens to Rachmaninoff. He thinks he’s smarter than me. Elitist jerk.” All that, and all they had to go off of was the fact that I liked a little Mozart now and then!

When you think of a classical music enthusiast, what comes to mind? Probably some egotistical self-proclaimed intellectual who listens just to display it on his “look how cultured I am” trophy case.

"A bow tie separates the cultured from the common-folk..."

Or a guy who likes to listen to Brahms while eating the poor sap he just killed, while enjoying a nice Chianti.

"The liver was a bit on the rare side."

Old people? Old people like Chopin, right?

"You kids can't appreciate the classics! You're all so distracted,
what with your cellular phones! And those... those Facebooks!"

Or maybe a hipster, who listens to Schoenberg because no one else does: all other music is too mainstream.

"I find his total lack of key and tonality invigorating. You probably
wouldn't understand..."

Have you actually ever listened to Schoenberg? There’s a reason it’s not mainstream… Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The point is, we’re mighty fine at labeling others. There’s a positive purpose to this, I believe. If a person is crying hysterically, screaming at a wall, and wearing a high school football uniform while biting themself, the guys in the labeling department of my brain look that all up, and come up with, “Do not approach. Probably insane and dangerous. May bite. Recommend not making eye contact.” I'm making a judgement on that person, but it just may be saving me from a round of rabies shots in the near future.

Labeling seems to be especially prevalent right now, with the election coming up and all. Republicans are laughing at the herbal-tea-swigging, tree-hugging, Prius-driving, religion-bashing, work-hating Democrats, when the reality is much less extreme. Or when Democrats are scoffing at the closed-minded, gay-hating, wealthy-boot-licking, anti-intellectual, backwards-thinking Republicans, when, once again, that usually isn’t the case.

Couldn’t we label people with good things? “She stays in her room and reads a lot. I bet she’s a good writer!” Or, “That guy wears a suit every day. I imagine he’s very professional.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland put it well when he said:

“Think the best of each other, especially of those you say you love. Assume the good and doubt the bad.” ― Jeffrey R. Holland

Right on, Elder Holland.

But seriously, classical music. Look it up. Chopin is fantastic.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

First World Problems

I'm going to have to pull a move that's detested by blogs everywhere: the "I'm sorry for not posting in a while" post. School, life, it's all very busy, blah, blah, blah, etc.

Okay, we're back.

Essentially being away from the Internet for two years tends to make you fall behind on Web culture. (As well as any news concerning Lady Gaga. That wasn't so bad.) That being so, if I seem redundant in my interweb musings, let it slide. I still find myself reminiscing about the good old days of and the Hamster Dance. ("Look! They're spinning!")

The new/old meme I'm digging right now is what's called "first world problems." What's a first world problem, you ask? Examples:

Third world problem: My dictator has taken the tools that are necessary for my family's survival. Now I need to trek into the rainforest to find materials to craft new tools.
First world problem: My cell phone battery died, and now I won't know if anyone commented on my funny cat video until I get home.

Third world problem: The water supply outside the village has dried up, and the nearest well is five miles away.
First world problem: I can't hear the TV because my snacks are too crunchy.

Third world problem: It hasn't rained for a week. If my children want to have fruit this year, we're going to need some moisture soon.
First world problem: I want grapes, but they're all at the bottom of the crisper drawer.

You poor, poor thing...

Y'all get the idea. I've found these little tidbits to be immensely amusing, which is strange, as they sometimes make me feel like an awful human being.

For behold: a few days ago, I was waltzing through Smith's with my posse of late-night shoppers. We walked past the canned peaches, and they spoke to me: "take us home... take us home..." (*Note* Canned goods do not actually speak to Mr. Ferguson). I'm a big fan of peaches, but not a big fan of the heavy syrup that they're often stored in. That being so, I looked for the kind that's in it's own juice, but to no avail. I found myself complaining out loud about how "they should have those!" They didn't carry them, and I was going to have to be content with the light syrup variety. A great injustice was being done.

That's about the time that I noticed that the man next to me was a shelf-stocker, working late at night, probably for minimum wage, and most likely had a family to support. That was the cue of the "reality mirror" to show up: you know, the kind that you look in and realize that you're a horrible person for complaining about what kind of syrup these affordable, healthy, and virtually limitless peaches are packed in. I'd just experienced a first world problem.

Aww, maaaaan...

It opened my eyes for a short bit, there in Smith's. Almost any kind of food imaginable, screened so you won't barf up your spleen when you eat it, and at an affordable price (*Note* Mr. Ferguson does not receive any compensation from Smith's Food & Drug for his comments). The whole place is lit up and heated with a reliable power supply, and I don't have to worry about being stabbed in the parking lot (this isn't Ogden, after all).

(*Note* Mr. Ferguson harbors no hard feelings against the fine city of Ogden. Please do not send him anthrax in the mail.)

I really don't have much to complain about when it comes to comfort: we have it pretty sweet here in the US of A. That doesn't mean that life is easy for us living in the "first world": everyone has real stress and real problems, and they may not apply to "third world situations," but that doesn't make them any less tough. Life is supposed to be a challenge. But when one of your pillows is too soft, and the other is too firm, so you have to combine them to get a decent mega-pillow... Just smile knowing that you're not likely to be attacked by disease carrying mosquitoes while you sleep. Unless you're in Ogden.

Light syrup peaches are still wonderful, by the way.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Temporary Pessimistic Suspicion

What is TPS (Temporary Pessimistic Suspicion)? It's a condition suffered by those who have a sudden influx of positive events, which results in a nagging inclination that things will only get worse. It's closely related to what scientists are now calling "Too Good to be True Delusion (TGtbTD)", and is highly contagious, very volatile, and can ruin a good moment.

I had a bad flare-up of TPS on Thursday. I took my first FCHD 2400 (Marriage and Family Relationships) exam that day, and got the results via email shortly thereafter. I was pleased.

A few hours later, I went to the Logan Regional Hospital to get a CT scan. I've been having sinus issues for about five/six months now, and the docs suggested that I get my head blasted with radiation so we can be sure that I'm not dying from an aggressive South Carolinian parasite (or something like that). If you haven't had a CT scan before, imagine having your noggin shoved into the core of the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive.

Chewie picked out the color scheme.

A few minutes later, I was told that the results aren't actually all that bad, and antibiotics should do the trick. Once again, things were going swimmingly.

At Merrill Hall (the on-campus housing where yours truly chills), there isn't enough parking space in the main lot for everyone. That's why we have the Gray 4 lot: down the hill a bit, under a tunnel, and right next to a cliff. At first, I didn't like having to tromp the extra 400 yards to my car (college students are a lazy bunch). But the more I've made the expedition down yonder, the more I've realized just how amazing the view is from Gray 4. You can see the entire Southern half of Cache Valley, as well as the canyon below.


Anyway, after my head-nuking, I got out of my car in Gray 4, and was treated to the best view I've had in years. The sun was on his way out, but was hidden behind some clouds, shooting beams of light across the valley. I had my headphones on, with my Zune on random. Just as the scenery gave me the equivalent of a sucker punch, one of my favorite classical piano pieces, Erik Satie's Gymnopedie No. 1, started playing. I caught myself soaking this tender mercy for about two minutes, then thought, "it just couldn't get any better, huh?"

That's when the flock of white birds flew in front if me, in perfect formation.

Some people would would be astounded at that; some would cry. I laughed. It was all too perfect.

That's when the TPS flared up. Good grade on an exam, considerably decent health, and a scene that most photographers would give their left lung for. My first thought after all that? "Well, I'm probably going to die now. This is the prep."

WAH Wah wahhhhh....

You can mock and scorn if you wish, but TPS is a real condition. Don't believe me? Next time you escape a burning car, find some Aztec gold, win the Nobel Prize, and beat Johnny Depp at a staring contest all in the same day, see if you don't find yourself getting a little suspicious.

On that note, the weather has been dubiously good lately...