Sunday, December 24, 2006
First I was the lead server all night, so I was at Los Hermanos until around 1 am
Next, Smurf and Evan and I had to go rescue Carrot from a bunch of lesbians in Ogden. So that was like at least 3 hours longer.
After we got Carrot back from the lesbians, we took her home and then went to the store to get stuff to make breakfast for Christmas Eve for a bunch of people at my place.
When we all got back to my place, I started cleaning up junk in my apartment and Evan and Smurf fell asleep on my couches reading some books they found on my shelf. (Fight Club and the Calvin and Hobbes Anthology respectively)
Now It's 7:15 am and I have about an hour and 45 minutes until people show up here for breakfast. I am extra tired, but in a good way. Christmas Eve is going to be a long day. I'm looking forward to it. Time to start making some pancakes.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
In stark contrast to Wyclef's song, I have to go to church now and talk about the song "O Holy Night" as part of the sacrament meeting Christmas program. O Holy Night is a cool song for life.
P.S. It snowed last night and now it is beautfiul outside. Its so bright that when I first looked out there it hurt my eyes.
Alright, I'm extending this post...
Today was so awesome! I woke up and got a little message written about O Holy Night to say at our ward Christmas program, and it went pretty well. This really cool, really pretty girl named Kate who is the chorister in our ward was in charge of the program and the music was really nice and church was good even though I sort of skipped out on Priesthood and Sunday School. But after reading ATP's latest post, I'm sort of glad I did.
I walked to and from church on campus today. Actually I walked everywhere today. It's so beautiful outside right now. This is the first winter that I have spent in Utah where it looks like the Christmas' you see in movies. Everything is brilliant white and the rooftops are all caked with snow and there is a soft glow from the yellow street lights on the snow on the ground and night comes early but its beautiful because the reflection on the white makes it still seem light out.
After church I went hometeaching to our two guy hometeachees and we had a really good lesson and talked for a while.
My roommate Ben and I are hometeaching companions. I seriously love this kid, he is one of the coolest roommates I have ever had. Ben used to be a really fat kid. I've seen his mission pictures. But then by the time he was done with his mission, he lost a ton of weight. So he's a normal looking guy now, but with the ultra cool, super nice to everyone personality of a fat kid. Fat kids are some of the nicest kids you'll ever meet. When we got home we ate some peanut butter on snickerdoodles that Ben's mom had made. Delicious. :)
After that I walked over to Wiggle's (in my new really cool jacket...and again, beautiful outside...) where she and Brown Sugar had made spaghetti bake for dinner with garlic bread and cupcakes for dessert. Most of our dinner group was there and we watched 24 and I fell asleep on Wiggle's couch. I awoke to a giant bright light slowly lowering through Wiggle's stained glass window...I was just waking up and still in that sort of daze, so I was thinking the second coming or aliens or something, but we went outside and it turns out they were shooting a movie right across the street at the old Provo Theater and happened to be using a giant stage light to get the right effect. And they did; the scene looked gorgeous. The snow was falling really lightly on this old historic building with these big giant clouds in the sky and really soft light melting like butter all over the snow. Wow.
I walked back past the movie set on the way to my house until I got to this girl Stephanie's apartment. Stephanie and I are on the activities committee and we were in charge of munch and mingle for after ward prayer this week. We had gone to the store earlier in the week to get tons of Bear Creek soup and goldfish crackers and apple juice and now we had to cook the soup. So, cooking soup at Stephanie's for a while was cool and our munch and mingle was a big hit. Her little apartment was packed with our ward, all writing happy notes.
There was this awkward part of the mingling where someone said something about not hanging out with gay people because they are recruiting. I chimed in and said that actually I thought that was really incorrect and that I have a lot of gay friends and many of them would love to live the gospel and keep the commandments. And a super quiet awkward moment ensued. Not awkward for me so much though, I kinda revel in these moments.
So after munch and mingle I stayed at Stephanie's and talked to a few people who were kicking it there, and then I helped Stephanie clean up the mess. When I got back to my apartment, I found that I had two happy notes: one from Stephanie, thanking me for all the help, and the other from Kate! Her's thanked me for being in her Christmas program....
AND said I was a "handsome devil"!!!
I was pretty stoked about that.
Now I'm chilling at home, listening to more Wyclef, who I am really getting into. Also, Carrot sent me a really nice text thanking me for being at her party and saying we need to hang out more. I love Carrot.
Life is taking a wonderful turn for the better lately.
Friday, December 08, 2006
From: Princess Tours
Subject: 2007 Princess Tours Application
Wed, 6 Dec 2006 19:36 -0700
Thank you for your application, and your interest in working in with Princess Tours for the 2007 season. Your application has been received by the administrative staff for review, by the proper department. Preference is given to those applicants able to work the dates that cover the entire season with relevant experience for the positions desired also a strong consideration... We will begin contacting individuals after 15 January 2007 for those who match the qualifications necessary for each position. Thank you for your interest and good luck in your job search for 2007 season .
Denali Princess Administrative Staff.
From: Gray Line of Alaska
Subject: Application for McKinley Explorer
Thu, 7 Dec 2006 16:32 -0700
Thank you so much for your application and it is currently under
review. We will have a recruiting team in after the first of the year.
We will contact you by telephone prior to our visit to set up an
Operations Manager-McKinley Explorer
Last week (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) I was praying about a lot of things. I would pray and then try to listen, until I decided I had an answer. But I wasn’t really sure if the answer was coming from me or from Heavenly Father. So I played a little game where I would ask something and then try to come up with a supposed answer from God in my mind. Much to my disappointment and frustration, it worked. I could make myself feel good about whatever response I decided to give myself to the questions I was asking...apparently to myself.
What a horrible feeling, to feel alone...like there really isn’t anyone there, listening, guiding the universe...No one that I can rely on for help...or even worse that we as humans just make stuff up out of necessity...so that we can get over problems and pretend there is more to life when we do dumb things or our babies die or we need to begin again or need a reason to live. Maybe there isn’t a God, and we just invented Jesus and redemption so that we would have a reason to move forward. Maybe while God and Jesus are still good things, they aren’t real.
It’s not incomprehensible to me...it would just suck if it were true.
I need a real Heavenly Father who gives me real answers to my real questions. What good is God a who only lives in my mind and can’t do anything? Such Gods in everyone’s minds would make truth relative, and my religion a silly game.
So while I was praying that night, I told Heavenly Father I needed something real, a real answer I knew was from Him and not made up. It didn’t have to be a sign or anything in particular, I just needed to know my prayers were being heard and answered.
And I did get my prayer answered, in a real way.
I was going to write about exactly what happened here, but I don’t feel like it, and the only reason I wanted to post anything about this was so that I will remember later in my life a time when my prayer was answered, and not with an answer that was just in my head.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
If you're not into that, try Moby et Mylene Farmer - Slipping Away/Crier la vie.
And if that doesn't do it for you, you have to like Irreplaceable, the new song by Beyonce. It is hip, hands down.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I wonder about the war in Heaven. I wonder about all those people who went to follow Satan. I bet a lot of my friends went with him. I bet a lot of people that I respected and admired and looked up to went with him. I bet there were people more intelligent than anyone I’ve ever met on earth so far.
I think it really tore me apart.
I imagine I got frustrated with all the spirits on Heavenly Father’s side when they would say things about the spirits who followed Satan. “Oh , they’re all just so completely nuts,” someone might say, or “Why would they not want to follow our plan? They’re so clueless.” I bet I stood up for them a lot to all the spirits who refused to see them as anything but foolish. I bet I thought about taking their side.
Maybe that third of the host of Heaven had a good point, even though we trivialize and berate it so often. Maybe those fallen ones understood how much agency would suck sometimes.
Maybe they realized how horrible it would be when one person, stripped of his or her memory, decided to impose his or her agency in a cruel way towards another person. Maybe they saw rape and murder and child molestation and starvation. Maybe they saw broken hearts. Maybe they saw cancer and arthritis and all the diseases. Maybe they saw despair and suicide. Maybe they saw all of those horrible things and thought it wasn’t fair to judge victims for eternity based on such lives; lives tainted through no fault of their own, but instead marred and defiled by circumstances or other people.
And what about when people screw up other people’s lives without meaning to? What about when our own curiosity or forgetfulness or clumsiness ruins everything for another person, or for a hundred persons, or for a thousand persons? I can think of lots of people who I have hurt without meaning for it to happen.
It just doesn’t seem fair. There’s something not right about it.
Sometimes I think I would prefer to be forced to choose the right thing always. I’m so stupid. And even when I know the right thing to do, I often don’t follow through with it. it would be nice to go through life doing everything right, even if it never proved anything.
So why am I here?
I guess I opted for this side only because of the atonement. And I had to be sure that the atonement would cover everyone for everything, no matter what. I had to be sure everyone would get a chance to hear about the atonement and everyone would be able to use it as many times as they needed to. Even if that meant a lot.
I think even then, the idea agitated me.
Bad things can be so pervasive and relentless and self-perpetuating. But what else could we do? I don’t know.
I feel crappy. I feel like I’ve either abandoned or been abandoned by every good thing that I ever had going here in Utah or anywhere in my life. I feel very alone here. I feel like whenever I’m around people I know, its an act. I feel like I need a fresh start, somewhere else. It doesn’t feel like I can fix any of the messes I’ve made and I don’t really want any pity, though I think I’m understanding a lot more about people who need pity all the time. Some things fuck you up pretty bad.
I wish that I could start my life over knowing all that I do now. Really. I wish I could start again as a little tiny kid. I’d be a better first grader, a better student son, a better friend to more people...I’d be more outgoing than I was. I‘d be more confident about how I looked and how I acted. Maybe I’d even try to ask girls out instead of just going along with them when they asked me. I’d be a better brother. I’d be more articulate, more sympathetic, more intelligent. I’d put more of a concentrated effort into everything I did, making sure it was the best I could do. I’d lay out all my issues and problems for my parents and family really early on so that we could work with them truthfully. I wouldn’t get into strangers’ cars as a teenager. I’d be a missionary.
Maybe this is why the whole reincarnation concept is so appealing.
Life hit a different kind of low tonight at IHOP. It’s been working it’s way down for a while, and then all of a sudden every link in the chain of perpetual misery was there in the same place at the same time, sitting within tables of each other and everything and everyone felt so hopeless and fleeting. Nothing was solid, nothing was reliable, nobody could be friends, everyone is suspicious. There’s always something new to catch your eye and set your hopes on. Depressing.
I have to wake up in less than four hours so I can go rehearse. I don’t feel like dancing. I don’t want to go to the damn football game or get diet cokes with lime for women who have lots more money than me. But I will, until I can change things. I will change things.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
You know when you listen to a song and it fuses with an experience or feelings in your gut or just the thought of a person? As of two nights ago, I think this song will be printed onto my brain forever. Or at least for a long time. It's beautiful. It makes me a little depressed to listen to it now, but I keep on doing it anyways. Typical of me. I had heard it before, but now it has it's special little mark on my mind. I should quit feeling things so much and do things instead.
I'm going camping tonight. I went camping last night, but only at the Marriot center to buy people tickets for Christmas Around the World. That doesn't count. Tonight it's for real. Hopefully this will clear the head.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Sunday, October 29, 2006
HOMECOMING PARADE 2006:
I'm dancing down the streets of Provo dressed in a cowboy suit with the folkdance ensemble. We're doing a gypsy dance and a Ukranian dance and then inbetween those we lift all the girls up and they wave to the crowds on the sidewalks and we all sing "Oh Susana." I'm in formation dancing with my partner, a really pretty girl with these giant beautiful eyes that I find so incredibly attractive on people. Down two people from me (approximately 5 to 8 feet) is this boy that I have a huge crush on. He also has beautiful eyes. He's dressed in liederhosen doing all the same dance moves I'm doing in my cowboy suit. Sometimes real life is so ridiculously unreal.
We won first place among all the entries to the parade.
This boy I was talking about has been driving me nuts lately. He's gay, (otherwise being attracted to him wouldn't bother me at all) and he's always around. I can handle crushes when I never actually have to interact with the person, but I am interacting with this guy on at least a weekly basis now. I'm all self conscious all the time because of it. I don't feel comfortable with how I look or act or do anything and it's really stupid. Having a crush is so frustrating.
My cousin was just hired at Los Hermanos. Actually she is my cousin's daughter. Mostly all I know about her is that she grew up in Washington and I think she has some eating disorders. Her name is Andrea. I've been forcing myself to remember that. I've run into her 3 or 4 times before on campus or around town and have always had to to sneakily ask a friend to ask her name and then tell me so that I could talk to her to her face without sounding stupid. I had to do it again at work when I realized she had been hired. Really horrible, I know. Hopefully we will get to know each other better now that we work at the same place. Weird that someone in my family, even if it's my extended family, will be around all these people like Smurf or Brown Sugar or hot Rachel who sort of know me. I'd probably better stop cussing at work anymore.
I look up to my older sister, Lois, so much. When I was little, Lois was the sibling who I could go to when my older brother, John, was beating me up or when my older sister Amy (a year older than Lois) was being neglectful or mean. Lois always found a way to make it better or get my mind focused on something else or reason things out with me. She was many times the advocate on behalf of the younger kids, of whom I was the oldest. She could take down my older brother. (She was in top shape from being on a competitive jumproping team...yeah crazy, but also really awesome) She was the sister who also acted as a parent much of the time even when my other older sister would go into her room and read a book or draw or run off with her friend Anna to San Francisco. Lois made dinner and cleaned and changed diapers for my mom all the time.
Last week I rode up to my parents' house with Lois and then we did dishes and then went to her ward prayer and then back to her place where I did my laundry. She is so disciplined in everything. She's the relief society president and she tackles all her responsibilites plus a graduate degree and a full time job with so much grace and efficiency. She has this sort of demure quietness about her, which I think is partly due to the anti-social streak that we both get from our dad, but she interacts with people wherever she sees herself needed and she does it so well. Most of the time she is working around people, like all the lost boys on Peter Pan making a house for Wendy. She gets things done. Last week she was fellowshipping one of the new girls in her ward as well as finding two people places to live. She does all the little stuff like read her scriptures and say her prayers. She's also extremely creative and smart. If she doesn't know how to do something, she'll figure it out.
I asked Lois while we did dishes at my parents' house if she was dating anyone. I think she is really pretty and amazing, but I guess as a family member I'm biased. I've just never seen her go on dates or get all giggly about boys. She dresses really classy and knows how to do herself up, but she's not the type of person who would go up and flirt or tell a someone he had pretty eyes. I was almost afraid to ask a question of this nature because the rest of the family thinks of it as this hush-hush subject. My grandma once tried to set Lois up on a date and it ended very badly. When I came out to my parents, my mom let me know that she had wondered if Lois was a lesbian. (She's not)
Lois replied that she had always just felt like a 40 year old among all her peers. She wants to date a "smart" guy. She said she had a thing a while back for a boy in her ward, and that she thinks he liked her too, but then he got a great job offer in Virginia or something and that was the end of that. The other guys in her ward just weren't really dating material. (really they aren't, I found out by going to her ward prayer. They all still live at home and play playstation all day while all the girls in the ward go get their graduate degrees or PhD's or work in professional careers. It's really lame)
I hope something good happens to Lois. Actually, I don't worry about it too much because I know she always turns whatever she's given into something productive and beautiful. Most recently I am proud of Lois for going running regularly with her roommate now. She says she hates it because she can do hours of jumproping and be just fine but a few miles of running will get her all short of breath. It's good for her though and she keeps at it.
I'm not sure what I meant to say here exactly, but there are some thoughts in words about my sister, who means a lot to me. It's good for me to put these things into words. Maybe another day I will write about another of my family members. They're really all wonderful even if they seem ordinary.
I'm secretly hoping to flunk out of school this semester. If I do, I'm going to work until my contract at my current apartment expires, and then I'm going on an extended adventure, at least for the duration of my academic suspension from BYU. I'm going to be a bum, but not just for a couple of days. I will ride trains and get around however I need to and eat out of garbage cans if need be and go and see or do anything I want to anywhere I want to.
I am trying to get good grades though. I'm such a crappy student.
Church last week was great. During priesthood meeting, the EQP had told us all to go into Sunday School as reverently and quietly as possible. So we all did. When we got to class, there was a Powerpoint screen up that said something like, "Today's lesson is going to be a little different. No one is going to speak. *change slide* "The objective of today's lesson will be to be in touch with the promptings of the Holy Ghost, whose voice is still and small." *change slide* "Please take a moment to silently say your own opening prayer."
I thought this was sort of silly. I've always thought church classes went so much better when there was lots of discussion. Also my roommate, Russel, who was teaching the lesson is this extra spiritual/EFY Counselor/Peter Priesthood type of guy, so I thought maybe this was all some bogus attempt to make him look even more righteous or something, and I was kind of rolling my eyes and being all skeptical about it. I said my own opening prayer, asking Heavenly Father to please let me take all this seriously and help me not to laugh.
The lesson turned out to be really, really good. Basically he had us flipping to scriptures, reading them silently, and then silently writing answers to prompts he put up on the screen with power point. It made everyone think very personally about some basic questions. In one instance, Russel pulled a quote from Jesus the Christ talking about how the existence of Christ is pretty much indisputable as we have historical evidence that the man Jesus actually existed and taught and preached. The next slide went on to talk about how some believe in Christ as just a man, some as a great teacher, and some as the literal son of God and everything in between. The next slide simply asked, "What think ye of Christ?"
This caught me off guard a little. I tried to think of why I believe in Jesus Christ as more than just a great teacher, but my Lord. Things like emaculate conception or all the miracles or fasting for forty days or being half man and half God are all wonderful, but I don't really understand them and can't base a testimony on them. After a lot of pondering, I reminded myself once again why I believe in Jesus Christ as divinity.
Every time I do something wrong or stupid or shameful, there is a great loving power beyond me that can patch me up, express his concern for me, make me feel like I'm worth something, and get me back out doing the right thing again. There is a mechanism by which I can rise above my inadequacies and summon the better angel of my nature. I can feel better, I can do better, I can be better. I can pass this love along to other people. I can become perfect, no matter how unfit I am now. The power to do this is called the atonement, and everyone can use it. Jesus Christ is the reason we all have access to this power. He is the force that can pull an object moving in one direction back to the right direction. I don't completely understand this, but I can feel it working for me, personally. I can feel it in my bones and all over and I can watch it work in other people, whether they seem to be much better or much worse off than I. I can base a testimony on this because I know it is true and it works for me. I know that without this help, I would be doomed to a course of self-destruction and misery. We would really be as hopeless as we are sometimes compelled to feel.
I believe in the atonement, and therefore I believe in Jesus Christ as my savior and redeemer. Thusly, he must have been deity; much, much more than just a man who understood a little better than everyone else.
I've had so much on my mind lately, I'm sure I had more to write about, but I can't remember it right now.
Here's a little tidbit for your entertainment:
FAKE ENGAGEMENT PICTURE:
This is my friend Veronica and I in our fake engagement picture. Look how butch I am. Sort of.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
Okay, so I'll probably be your friend regardless because let's face it, I need friends. At any rate, this is an interesting test, especially for political science majors. Or even kids who just say their major is political science so that people will get off their back because they really plan on being a bum and running around on trains when they get older because they hate school. The point is it's for everybody. :)
| You are a |
You are best described as a:
Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test
Sunday, October 08, 2006
At any rate, here is a little breakdown of the marathon for you:
•We start driving to St. George sometime around 7. I'm hella tired and having hella stupid conversations with El Veneno. Sometimes Gilmore Guy and El Veneno's friend who is a girl would talk too, but not often.
•We stop at Subway in Fillmore(?). Some girl there who is barely out of high school is flirting with this 41 year old Mexican dude. I think the Mexican dude is kind of embarrassed. Isn't this supposed to happen the other way around? I'm not really hungry because I've been feeling kinda sick lately, but I know I need to eat something so Gilmore Guy and I split some kind of sandwich. We get back in the car and get to play the cd I brought. I'm glad, even though maybe some of the songs are chick music.
•We stop at a friend of El Veneno's friend who is a girl, and crash at her place for about 4 hours, until the alarm clocks on our phones go off around 4:45 AM
•El Veneno drives Gilmore Guy and I to the registration point, and then the bus pick-up point. Gilmore Guy and I cram onto a yellow schoolbus at around 5 AM. It's three to a seat, so I have Gilmore Guy on my right and this older guy on my left. I make some conversation with the old guy and he actually gives us a few bits of handy information about the race.
•We get off the bus. I think must still be dreaming. There are thousands of people out here in this giant mass. Some of the giant mass is huddled around giant bon-fires. It's still the middle of night and the moon is almost full and shiny. It really looks like a dream. There is loud music playing. Gilmore Guy and I pin our numbers on, throw our stuff in a truck, eat a third of a banana and some gatorade, and then work our way through the crowd to a bonfire. I'm trying to convince myself that I really, really am going to run a marathon in a few minutes. I'm jumping to try to stay warm, but worried that I might be burning off my banana.
•The race starts...It's still pitch black out. All of a sudden I start feeling really good, like this is a perfectly achievable goal. Gilmore Guy and I talk and run and it's pretty enjoyable. The scenery is really pretty, especially as the sun begins to come up.
•Miles 5-10: There are some steep hills. We get over them. Still doing great, smiling, pretty happy.
•Mile 13: There are all these people around cheering us on and I'm giving five to all these little kids, and I'm feeling pumped and great. Damn, this marathon crap is easy.
•Mile 18: Okay, my feet and knees are hurting a little. Also, I'm getting some diaper rash. That's not cool, but I'm still feeling good, still pretty zen
•Mile 21: I'm back into town. I take back my thoughts about the marathon from mile 13. I'm getting kinda tired.
•Mile 24: I have to commit myself to making my legs continue in the running motion until I am done.
•Mile 26: Holy Hell. I am dying. I want to stop and walk. I don't care about all these people screaming at me that I'm so close and I should keep it up. In fact, they are kinda pissing me off. I try to think of inspirational things and people and songs. I keep on turning corners in St. George thinking that I will see the finish line, but it's never there. My thinking goes something like this, "When will this mile end? If I turn another corner and it's not there, I'm walking....Okay, maybe just ONE more corner...I swear I'm not running to another corner...Okay, this is the last freaking corner..." etc...
•The end - 26.2: I've passed the finish line! I can't believe I'm actually done now! I beat four hours by a comfortable margin! LOOK AT ALL THIS FREE FOOD!!!!!!!! This is what the Celestial Kingdom must feel like. I'm gaining a testimony of it.
•The next 15 minutes: I am drinking water and gatorade and eating cliff bars, bread, and ice cream sandwiches like a poor red-headed stepchild. I start to feel really, really sick to my stomach about the time I see Gilmore Guy come in. I'm glad we both made it though, and exceeded expectations. We go to a table and find out our exact times by having some lady wave a magic wand over the chips tied to our shoelaces. I'm pleased with my first marathon time of 3:46:06, and I get a sticker that has my time printed on it.
•We get all our stuff and load into the car again. I feel kinda sick still and we stop at restrooms like 3 times on the way back home. I'm a little embarrassed about how ridiculous I'm being, but I think even more just not caring and wanting to get home really bad. El Veneno is pretty patient with me as a passenger in his car. I try to fall asleep a lot.
• You can check out stats at www.stgeorgemarathon.com. Click on the runpix results link and then type in my last name.
All in all, the marathon was really great. I really like running people, they are super friendly. I want to do this again, and I will because we need to run one with El Veneno. Marathoning may be my third favorite religion, right after Mormonism and Oprah.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Then you should all tell me what you think. This stuff makes me think and think and think. And go nuts. Watch it.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
This was my first time ever attending an Evergreen conference. It was a little unsettling at first, but I liked it because it showed a very human side of the church that you don't see very often. Everyone at the Evergreen conference was almost literally wearing their weaknesses on their sleeves. A lot of the time church can be about keeping up appearances, but how can you attempt to come across as perfect when you're at a conference for gays and lesbians learning how to deal with their marriage, or porn issues, or just how to become comfortable with the opposite sex? How do you play Peter Priesthood or Molly Mormon in a 12-step class? It was really incredible to see that sort of raw honesty. These people looked like they could have been my aunts or uncles or bishops or stake presidents or grandpas and grandmas. It was uplifting to see real people really trying and really pushing themselves against significant obstacles. It almost makes me wish everyone at church just walked around wearing a nametag that said "My name is_____ and my problem is _____" That way we could just skip over a lot more trivial stuff and get right to knowing how to deal with them and love them.
It was refreshing to see people be frank, whether they dealt with SSA issues or were dealing with some kind of addiction and teaching a class or had a whole host of issues or even were just having to deal with the people dealing (Definitely a challenge) I might add that I thought that the spouses and loved ones of all these people were some of the coolest and most patient I think I've ever seen. I'm sure my wife is going to have to have patience to no end someday as well. It gave me hope to see that people actually marry "our" kind.
I also really enjoyed the talk from the girl who was reconciling her love for her sister with her love of the gospel. I thought it was really eloquent and well done.
My favorite presenter was probably David Christensen who gave a class on "Maintaining Daily Hope in the Journey." I liked how personable and passionate he was. Also he cussed (really, I think this is what it came down to as far as being my favorite speaker of all) and he was hilarious throughout the lesson.
He impressed me so much that I actually used one of the stories he told for my Hometeaching lesson today.
(And I think I've told all of you, reading my blog, this story because I seriously could not get over it)
The story went something like this...
Christensen and his wife have a mentally handicapped son who is a grown adult in his 30's or 40's. The son has about the mental capacity of a 4 year old, but the body of a grown man. The Christensen' s raised their son as he got older and older and bigger and bigger. Meanwhile they just kept getting older.
One day their son became upset over some trivial matter as little kids often do. He was distraught and irrational, but larger and more powerful than his mother. He picked up a kitchen chair and hit his mother over the head with it. Her head split open down the middle. Blood oozed out of the gash spilling all over her face and neck and clothing. She called the police and Brother Christensen was notified of what happened immediately.
When Brother Christensen got home the police and ambulance had already arrived and he saw his wife standing over the sink dripping with blood everywhere. The first thing she said when he came in was "Don't take my son! Don't take my son!"
Brother Christensen compared the story to the atonement, and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane atoning for the sins of all of us who can be irrational and disobedient at times.
My favorite part of his presentation however, was when he talked about how all of us should expect exaltation. He said he expected to go to the Celestial Kingdom, and so did his wife. He said they expected their son to go to the Celestial Kingdom. "Sure," he said, "some people might say, 'well of course your son will go to the Celestial Kingdom, he's handicapped, all handicapped people get to go to the Celestial Kingdom.'" And then he said my favorite part...
"The poor damnable soul who thinks that he isn't handicapped. "
(note the cuss word)
Wow! What a profound idea.... we're all handicapped, and we have a Heavenly Father who knows that and who only expects us to stay clean and repent when we mess up and keep trying. We should all expect to be exalted someday by virtue of the fact that we're His kids, and that we were atoned for. At any rate, that might have been kinda simple, but it was really uplifting and something I needed to hear.
The Evergreen conference had a few things that sort of irked me a little bit, and honestly there were times when it was downright depressing, but I think that's sort of to be expected given the nature of the thing. The good outweighed the bad. Also the people I was around helped things.
I think I'll call this post done for now. Be good, everybody.
P.S. Did anyone see the James McGreevey thing on Oprah? It was intense. I went running and mulled it over and over in my mind. I feel like we shared a very common childhood. He talked about going to the library every night as a kid to read up on homosexuality, trying to turn straight with Playboys, having a passion for politics and justice and great aspirations for a normal, successful future. This was me! This is me... (Im sure the rest of you can identify at least somewhat as well) I'm hoping I won't share a common fate. That's all.
Sidenotes on Evergreen:
It was really great meeting all of you. I can definitely say you weren't at all what I expected, especially Samantha who was much more giggly, feminine, and irreverent than I expected!
ATP- Also very giggly, especially around Samantha. Funny and very thoughtful. Also has style (I thought your bag was cool) I have a lot of respect for your mom and dad. They've been through a lot and it seemed like they were unsure at times but always very willing and very supportive.
Darrin - You are a heck of an example. Incredibly kind and patient, especially with your wife, and that was cool. Also very witty.
Bob - You're 17? Really? You're way too smart and mature for your age. I was really impressed with you and also with your dad and the relationship you guys share. You two are amazing, and you really lit the place up wherever you went.
Seth - Good to actually get to talk to you finally. I'd seen you tons on campus before but had never actually carried on a conversation with you until the conference. I'm sure I'll see more of you in the future. We're officially friends now.
All in all conference was good. I'm glad to have met you all.
Honestly I guess I felt weird about the Evergreen thing some of the time, especially towards the end where I was sort of comparing myself to everyone else there? and I just was not liking the comparisons and had all these weird self-depricating thoughts going through my mind that weren't very good for me. So sorry about ducking out a little early, I just needed to go be by myself for a while.
Not to spoil the mood or anything, you guys are great and I would not at all be opposed to seeing any of you again.
Stuff not at all related to Evergreen:
•I'm getting to like my new ward. I'm on the activities commitee.
•I got a ticket (okay, this is a little related because it happened when Smurf and I were driving up to Salt Lake for the conference) for over 300 bucks. We were speeding and crossed the stupid double-white lines to get into the carpool lane. I might add that these lines are BRAND SPANKING NEW! I hate the Po-po. I'm gonna give up eating for the next few months.
•Gilmore Guy and I went on this amazing run to the lake the other day. I did it once with El Veneno before our half-marathon, but this time I was in better shape. I think the run to the lake is probably my favorite run in Provo. It's beautiful and you get outside of town to where everything smells like cows and dirt and campfire. Also it was twilight and raining, and when you get to the end there's a little peninsula that goes out into the lake from which you have a gorgeous view of the mountains and city, and it's wonderful to think that I can run to a big body of water somewhere out here in Utah. Also it's like 12 or 13 miles long and I was feeling good at the end, like I could have run several more miles. We'll see what happens at the marathon. I hope I lose my gut from all this running.
•I'm teaching myself algebra again in my college class. It's getting harder.
•Tonight Brown Sugar made lasagna for dinner because Smurf is in Seattle and he hates lasagna. I love lasagna. It was so freaking delicious, as Brown Sugar's cooking pretty much always is. I love my girls Wiggle and Brown Sugar and I'm glad they still hang out with me even when I'm being hella weird. We all watched Iron Chef - funny show.
•My niece Kylie's family birthday party was on Monday. She is all into Mermaids right now, So I spent literally like 2 hours at Toys R' Us looking for the perfect present for her. I settled on an Ariel Mermaid crown/necklace/jewelry thing because my nieces love to dress up. When I finally got to the party, I found out that my little sister had purchased the exact same gift. Busted. This "coolest uncle ever" business is pretty tough and competitive sometimes. Birthday parties for 3 year olds are off da hook.
•Folkdance is so much fun, especially now that I don't know anyone else on my team. Not awkward at all. Making lots of cool friends. Can't wait until the opening social on Wednesday.
• I waited a table for this really silly family at work the other day. There were 12 of them and they ordered 3 cheese crisps as appetizers and 5 medium dinners to share. They also all wore Los Hermanos T-shirts and so I had to make them all specialty drinks because the bar person had already gone home. They were all really polite and helpful and cleaned their plates. Usually I half love these sorts of people for their thrift and cleverness (reminds me of my grandma and my own big poor family) and am half annoyed by them because they don't leave a tip while making me work tons doing orders for picky eaters and cleaning up after all their little kids. BUT, these guys were thrifty and clever and polite and helpful AND left me a generous tip AND left it all in 2 dollar bills! I love 2 dollar bills! I loved this family! They were so hip.
•2 dollar bills make me think of my grandpa who used to send us one in a funny card every birthday. Other things that make me think of my grandpa: pennies on the ground and in random places, giant trucks and construction equipment, steel mills, old-school democrats (the unionized, mildly racist kind) and retirement homes.
•I got this Saturday night off! I don't think I'll miss any conference at all. Maybe I'll even go up to Salt Lake for a session or two.
•This guy I find incredibly attractive is kinda flirting with me I think. Oh man, I don't know why this is happening but it's super frustrating.
•I desperately want to get married and have babies with a girl who's pretty.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
The last few weeks have been a dichotomy.
I did stupid things, things I should repent and talk to the bishop about. I haven't yet. I feel sort of like a joke. Have you ever felt like this? I mean, I've resolved to do better so many times since I was 16 that it almost feels ridiculous to let myself believe that I can keep a promise this time. I had been doing so well for so long, and then, boom. i pull trigger and blow myself away. Again. The sad thing is I'm not sure I'd even forgive myself this time. At least I'm not sure if I'd take myself seriously. If I was another person looking in at pathetic little me, I might forsake the cause after this much abuse. And I like to think of myself as a person who would forever give the benefit of the doubt and be reassuring and merciful, mainly because I'm such a screw up myself.
At any rate, I was pretty depressed and discouraged. And just disconnected I guess. There was just sort of this shame hanging over me that makes me want to run away really bad. I used to do that as a little kid, when I felt crappy or was mad at my older brother and parents. I would pack a paper bag full of belongings or my backpack and run away for a day or part of the night if my parents didnt catch me first. It felt very romantic even though I would only run somewhere inside the apartment complex or across the street to Central Park or to the high school.
But now there's just stoicism and a resolve to keep doing things. I at least have to hang onto my grades. It was this same fatal mode that destroyed them last year, and I really can't afford to let myself go like that again.
I don't want to talk to a bishop. I've been wondering about that lately, why we have to talk to bishops when we commit serious sins. I've done it before. The talk is usually the same; I do my best to bare my soul and the bishop sympathizes and mumbles things and reads me some scriptures. Sometimes I am chastised or punished, but never given any terribly helpful insight. When all is said and done, however, I always walk away feeling better and like I can start again. Why can't I just do this on my own? Can't I just pick myself up off the floor? Doesn't the rest of the world get over these things without going to the bishop's office? Why should I do this again? I'm not going on a mission or anywhere fast really, I'm getting along alright, I just feel like shit at church, that's all. I wonder if maybe I should just see if I can actually be good for longer than 6 or 7 months, and then think about talking to a bishop again. I'm burnt out on ecclesiastical authority.
I don't know. It's frustrating, but I'll probably once again end up telling another bishop much more about myself than he or I ever cared to know in the first place. I hate this.
As for the other side of the dichotomy, I've moved into my new apartment (actually at the same complex I lived in last year) and things are running very smoothly. My roommates are very cool and also pretty clean, which is a good change. I didn't end up moving into the ward that Smurf was trying to stack with all his friends, but he has plenty of friends in that ward already and my ward is pretty cool even though its full of strangers. I'm doing well in school so far. I'm running pretty regularly again, either by myself or with Gilmore Guy (who is now happily married) or Blueshorts. Brown Sugar, Smurf, Wiggle, Blueshorts, hot Rachel and I have all started this dinner group where we each make dinner one night of the week. My night is Tuesday, and you're always invited to my place if you let me know you're coming. It's one of the best ideas we've ever had, as it saves all of us money, gets us fed just about every night of the week on a delicious balanced diet, and gives us all a chance to get together regularly which I like.
There is a Los Hermanos Book Club now. We are currently reading Freakonomics, which is fascinating. We have also read Black Like Me and The Alchemist. Next we will read Brave New World (incredibly book, read it). I like reading. I'm about half way through Freakonomics right now.
My little brother has moved up to Rexburg to go to college for a year before a mission. He likes it a lot so far. My little sister is the only kid left at home with my parents. Last night I went over there to do laundry and have a good talk with my mom, which I think is good for her sanity. I let my little sister listen to some cool music I've heard lately and stuff I thought she would like. Then we watched The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio and my mom liked it a lot and that made me happy. My family is kinda lame, but they're so wonderful. I think I admire consistent, steady, wise lame-o's better than the highly spirited, witty and capricious. Though it's always wonderful to be in the company of the latter. Maybe because that's the only thing that makes me feel like the former.
My older sister is going to have another baby! Except, shhh!, don't tell! I'm not supposed to know this until Kylie's birthday on the 18th. Hehe. Nieces and nephews(?) make me really glad. Man, I want babies... If anybody wants to be my baby's mama, let me know. We can get married and all that, it's cool.
I just got back from regional stake conference. It was so good. Cecil Samuelson spoke on gifts of the Spirit and Elder Wirthlin spoke on "carrying on" which was really something I needed to hear. He talked about how the people we revere and look up to, our heroes, alway manage to pick themselves up in the direst of circumstances and bear a heavy, often times disproportionate burden. The entire time he spoke on the theme "carrying on" he was having a horrible time squinting into the monitor he was reading from and also remembering what he was going to say. He tremored visibly and misspoke a lot. His age was obviously getting to him and he was exerting every ounce of control he could muster to focus his mind on the words he was saying. His delivery was, in essence, an illustration of what he was trying to say - no matter what the problem, or stumbling block, keep doing what you need to do. Don't quit. I liked it.
After that, the star attraction was President Monson, who just spoke. There wasn't really a theme, but he talked about all the musicals he likes and how much we can learn from movies and books. That made me smile. He showed pictures that little kids had drawn for him and told all kinds of great faith promoting stories. He talked about patriarchs and listening to the spirit and interesting individuals he knew. Also he was hilarious the entire time. It wasn't scripted like in conference. The man is funny. And incredibly uplifting.
And I'll stop there for now, because I like the word "uplifting."
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Me, Tootsie Roll, and Alex visiting Temple Square.
Me, Carrot, Jennifer Ortiz, Smurf and Tootsie Roll: Jelly Belly Factory in California.
Smurf with Jennifer Ortiz
Can't get enough of Jennifer O.
Smurf and Carrot as we wait for Cesar to come fill our car up with some gas. Note that we are 7 miles outside of Winnemucca on our way to California. Smurf was driving.
Some favorites for the week:
Song: Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars. This was an especially awesome song driving the morning after we all had a mass sleep over on Don Phipps' trampoline outside. The sleepover was after a long day of rafting on the American River. His house is sort of in the middle of the woods and you could see lots of stars.
Book: Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain 1942. A very short instruction manual produced by the War Department about being a courteous guest in Britain during WWII in Europe. This makes me yearn to have lived during WWII. Not so much for the war part, but for the feeling of being united for a common purpose, for not having to apologize for being respectful and considerate, and for the common horrible circumstances that made everyone realize their true place in the world and what was important and not.
Movie: The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio. I read this book on my sister's recommendation a year or two ago and liked it a lot. Now they have a movie and it's incredible. It's about this housewife in the fifities (played by Julian Moore) whose husband is a deadbeat drunk. She raises her 9 children on prizewinnings from witty jingle and poetry contests back when they had more of those. I know maybe it doesnt sound cool at first, but it's really inspiring and well done. I think one of my favorite movies ever.
That is all for now. I need to find myself a new apartment. Again. Or catch a train and be a bum. The latter thought makes me smile.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Sixty-three years ago, Nazi Germany had overrun almost all of Europe and hammered England to the verge of bankruptcy and defeat, and had sunk more than four hundred British ships in their convoys between England and America for food and war materials.
Bushido Japan had overrun most of Asia, beginning in 1928, killing millions of civilians throughout China, and impressing millions more as slave labor.
The US was in an isolationist, pacifist, mood, and most Americans and Congress wanted nothing to do with the European war, or the Asian war.
Then along came Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 , and in outrage Congress unanimously declared war on Japan , and the following day on Germany, which had not attacked us. It was a dicey thing. We had few allies.
France was not an ally, the Vichy government of France aligned with its German occupiers. Germany was not an ally, it was an enemy, and Hitler intended to set up a Thousand Year Reich in Europe. Japan was not an ally, it was intent on owning and controlling all of Asia . Japan and Germany had long-term ideas of invading Canada and Mexico, and then the United States over the north and south borders, after they had settled control of Asia and Europe.
America's allies then were England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and Russia, and that was about it. There were no other countries of any size or military significance with the will and ability to contribute much or anything to the effort to defeat Hitler's Germany and Japan, and prevent the global dominance of Nazism. And we had to send millions of tons of arms, munitions, and war supplies to Russia, England, and the Canadians, Aussies, Irish, and Scots, because NONE of them could produce all they needed for themselves.
All of Europe , from Norway to Italy, except Russia in the east, was already under the Nazi heel.
America was not prepared for war. America had stood down most of its military after WWI and throughout the depression, at the outbreak of WWII there were army units training with broomsticks over their shoulders because they didn't have guns, and cars with "tank" painted on the doors because they didn't have tanks. And a big chunk of our navy had just been sunk and damaged at Pearl Harbor .
Britain had already gone bankrupt, saved only by the donation of $600 million in gold bullion in the Bank of England that was the property of Belgium and was given by Belgium to England to carry on the war when Belgium was overrun by Hitler - actually, Belgium surrendered one day, because it was unable to oppose the German invasion, and the Germans bombed Brussels into rubble the next day anyway just to prove they could. Britain had been holding out for two years already in the face of staggering shipping loses and the near-decimation of its air force in the Battle of Britain, and was saved from being overrun by Germany only because Hitler made the mistake of thinking the Brits were a relatively minor threat that could be dealt with later and turning his attention to Russia, at a time when England was on the verge of collapse in the late summer of 1940.
Russia saved America's butt by putting up a desperate fight for two years until the US got geared up to begin hammering away at Germany.
Russia lost something like 24 million people in the sieges of Stalingrad and Moscow, 90% of them from cold and starvation, mostly civilians, but also more than a million soldiers. More than a million.
Had Russia surrendered, then, Hitler would have been able to focus his entire campaign against the Brits, then America , and the Nazis would have won that war.
Had Hitler not made that mistake and invaded England in 1940 or 1941, instead, there would have been no England for the US and the Brits to use as a staging ground to prepare an assault on Nazi Europe, England would not have been able to run its North African campaign to help take a little pressure off Russia while America geared up for battle, and today Europe would very probably be run by the Nazis, the Third Reich, and, isolated and without any allies (not even the Brits), the US would very probably have had to cede Asia to the Japanese, who were basically Nazis by another name then, and the world we live in today would be very different and much worse. I say this to illustrate that turning points in history are often dicey things. And we are at another one.
There is a very dangerous minority in Islam that either has, or wants and may soon have, the ability to deliver small nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, almost anywhere in the world, unless they are prevented from doing so.
France, Germany, and Russia, have been selling them weapons technology at least as recently as 2002, as have North Korea, Syria, and Pakistan, paid for with billions of dollars Saddam Hussein skimmed from the "Oil For Food" program administered by the UN with the complicity of Kofi Annan and his son.
The Jihadis, the militant Muslims, are basically Nazis in Kaffiyahs - they believe that Islam, a radically conservative (definitely not liberal!) form of Wahhabi Islam, should own and control the Middle East first, then Europe, then the world, and that all who do not bow to Allah should be killed, enslaved, or subjugated. They want to finish the Holocaust, destroy Israel, purge the world of Jews. This is what they say.
There is also a civil war raging in the Middle East - for the most part not a hot war, but a war of ideas. Islam is having its Inquisition and its Reformation today, but it is not yet known which will win - the Inquisition, or the Reformation.
If the Inquisition wins, then the Wahhabis, the Jihadis, will control the Middle East, and the OPEC oil, and the US , European, and Asian economies, the techno-industrial economies, will be at the mercy of OPEC - not an OPEC dominated by the well-educated and rational Saudis of today, but an OPEC dominated by the Jihadis.
You want gas in your car? You want heating oil next winter? You want jobs? You want the dollar to be worth anything? You better hope the Jihad, the Muslim Inquisition, loses, and the Islamic Reformation wins.
If the Reformation movement wins, that is, the moderate Muslims who believe that Islam can respect and tolerate other religions, and live in peace with the rest of the world, and move out of the 10th century into the 21st, then the troubles in the Middle East will eventually fade away, and a moderate and prosperous Middle East will emerge.
We have to help the Reformation win, and to do that we have to fight the Inquisition, i.e., the Wahhabi movement, the Jihad, Al Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist movements. We have to do it somewhere. We cannot do it nowhere. And we cannot do it everywhere at once. We have created a focal point for the battle now at the time and place of our choosing, in Iraq.
Not in New York, not in London, or Paris, or Berlin, but in Iraq, where we did and are doing two very important things.
(1) We deposed Saddam Hussein. Whether Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11 or not, it is undisputed that Saddam has been actively supporting the terrorist movement for decades. Saddam is a terrorist.
Saddam is, or was, a weapon of mass destruction, who is responsible for the deaths of probably more than a million Iraqis and two million Iranians.
(2) We created a battle, a confrontation, a flash point, with Islamic terrorism in Iraq . We have focused the battle. We are killing bad guys there and the ones we get there we won't have to get here, or anywhere else. We also have a good shot at creating a democratic, peaceful Iraq , which will be a catalyst for democratic change in the rest of the Middle East, and an outpost for a stabilizing American military presence in the Middle East for as long as it is needed.
The European nations could have done this, but they didn't, and they won't. The so-called "Coalition Forces" are, in most cases, little more than a "Token Force" to keep face with the US . And once attacked, like the train bombing in Madrid , they pull their forces and run for home. We now know that rather than opposing the rise of the Jihad, the French, Germans, and Russians were selling them arms -- we have found more than a million tons of weapons and munitions in Iraq . If Iraq was not a threat to anyone, why did Saddam need a million tons of weapons? And Iraq was paying for French, German, and Russian arms with money skimmed from the UN Oil For FoodProgram (supervised by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his son) that was supposed to pay for food, medicine, and education, for Iraqi children.
World War II, the war with the German and Japanese Nazis, really began with a "whimper" in 1928. It did not begin with Pearl Harbor . It began with the Japanese invasion of China . It was a war for fourteen years before America joined it. It officially ended in 1945 - a 17 year war - and was followed by another decade of US occupation in Germany and Japan to get those countries reconstructed and running on their own again .... a 27 year war.
World War II cost the United States an amount equal to approximately a full year's GDP - adjusted for inflation, equal to about $12 trillion dollars, WWII cost America more than 400,000 killed in action, and nearly 100,000 still missing in action.
[The Iraq war has, so far, cost the US about $180 billion, which is roughly what 9/11 cost New York. It has also cost over 2,300 American lives, which is roughly 2/3 of the lives that the Jihad snuffed on 9/11.] But the cost of not fighting and winning WWII would have been unimaginably greater - a world now dominated by German and Japanese Nazism.
Americans have a short attention span, now, conditioned I suppose by 1 hour TV shows and 2-hour movies in which everything comes out okay.
The real world is not like that. It is messy, uncertain,and sometimes bloody and ugly. Always has been, and probably always will be.
If we do this thing in Iraq successfully, it is probable that the Reformation will ultimately prevail. Many Muslims in the Middle East hope it will. We will be there to support it. It has begun in some countries, Libya , for instance. And Dubai. And Saudi Arabia. If we fail, the Inquisition will probably prevail, and terrorism from
Islam will be with us for all the foreseeable future, because the Inquisition, or Jihad, believes they are called by Allah to kill all the Infidels, and that death in Jihad is glorious.
The bottom line here is that we will have to deal with Islamic terrorism until we defeat it, whenever that is. It will not go away on its own. It will not go away if we ignore it.
If the US can create a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq, then we have an " England" in the Middle East , a platform, from which we can work to help modernize and moderate the Middle East .
The history of the world is the clash between the forces of relative civility and civilization, and the barbarians clamoring at the gates. The Iraq war is merely another battle in this ancient and never-ending war. And now, for the first time ever, the barbarians are about to get nuclear weapons. Unless we prevent them. Or somebody does.
The Iraq war is expensive, and uncertain, yes. But the consequences of not fighting it and winning it will be horrifically greater. We have four options -
1. We can defeat the Jihad now, before it gets nuclear weapons.
2. We can fight the Jihad later, after it gets nuclear weapons (which may be as early as next year, if Iran 's progress on nuclear weapons is what Iran claims it is).
3. We can surrender to the Jihad and accept its dominance in the Middle East, now, in Europe in the next few years or decades, and ultimately in America.
4. Or we can stand down now, and pick up the fight later when the Jihad is more widespread and better armed, perhaps after the Jihad has dominated France and Germany and maybe most of the rest of Europe . It will be more dangerous, more expensive, and much bloodier then.
Yes, the Jihadis say that they look forward to an Islamic America . If you oppose this war, I hope you like the idea that your children, or grandchildren, may live in an Islamic America under the Mullahs and the Sharia, an America that resembles Iran today.
We can be defeatist peace-activists as anti-war types seem to be, and concede, surrender, to the Jihad, or we can do whatever it takes to win this war against them.
The history of the world is the history of civilizational clashes, cultural clashes. All wars are about ideas, ideas about what society and civilization should be like, and the most determined always win.
Those who are willing to be the most ruthless always win. The pacifists always lose, because the anti-pacifists kill them.
In the 20th century, it was Western democracy vs. communism, and before that Western democracy vs. Nazism, and before that Western democracy vs. German Imperialism. Western democracy won, three times, but it wasn't cheap, fun, nice, easy, or quick. Indeed, the wars against German Imperialism (WWI), Nazi Imperialism (WWII), and communist imperialism (the 40-year Cold War that included the Vietnam Battle, commonly called the Vietnam War, but itself a major battle in a larger war) covered almost the entire century.
The first major war of the 21st Century is the war between Western Judeo /Christian Civilization and Wahhabi Islam. It may last a few more years, or most of this century. It will last until the Wahhabi branch of Islam fades away, or gives up its ambitions for regional and global dominance and Jihad, or until Western Civilization gives in to the Jihad.
Senator John Kerry, in the debates and almost daily, makes 3 scary claims:
1. We went to Iraq without enough troops.
We went with the troops the US military wanted. We went with the troop levels General Tommy Franks asked for. We deposed Saddam in 30 days with light casualties, much lighter than we expected.
The real problem in Iraq is that we are trying to be nice - we are trying to fight minority of the population that is Jihadi, and trying to avoid killing the large majority that is not. We could flatten Fallujah in minutes with a flight of B52s, or seconds with one nuclear cruise missile - but we don't. We're trying to do brain surgery, not amputate the patient's head. The Jihadis amputate heads.
2. We went to Iraq with too little planning. This is a specious argument. It supposes that if we had just had "the right plan" the war would have been easy, cheap, quick, and clean.
That is not an option. It is a guerrilla war against a determined enemy, and no such war ever has been or ever will be easy, cheap, quick, and clean. This is not TV.
3. We proved ourselves incapable of governing and providing security.
This too is a specious argument. It was never our intention to govern and provide security. It was our intention from the beginning to do just enough to enable the Iraqis to develop a representative government and their own military and police forces to provide their own security, and that is happening. The US and the Brits and other countries there have trained over 100,000 Iraqi police and military, now, and will have trained more than 200,000 by the end of next year. We are in the process of transitioning operational control for security back to Iraq .
It will take time. It will not go with no hitches. This is not TV. Remember, perspective is everything, and America 's schools teach too little history for perspective to be clear, especially in the young American mind.
The Cold war lasted from about 1947 at least until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Forty-two years. Europe spent the first half of the 19th century fighting Napoleon, and from 1870 to 1945 fighting Germany .
World War II began in 1928, lasted 17 years, plus a ten year occupation, and the US still has troops in Germany and Japan. World War II resulted in the death of more than 50 million people, maybe more than 100 million people, depending on which estimates you accept.
The US has taken more than 2,000 KIA in Iraq in 3 years. The US took more than 4,000 Killed in action on the morning of June 6, 1944, the first day of the Normandy Invasion to rid Europe of Nazi Imperialism. In WWII the US averaged 2,000 KIA a week for four years. Most of the individual battles of WWII lost more Americans than the entire Iraq war has done so far.
But the stakes are at least as high . . . a world dominated by representative governments with civil rights, human rights, and personal freedoms . or a world dominated by a radical Islamic Wahhabi movement, by the Jihad, under the Mullahs and the Sharia (Islamic law).
I do not understand why the American Left does not grasp this. They favor human rights, civil rights, liberty and freedom, but evidently not for Iraqis. In America , absolutely, but nowhere else. 300,000 Iraqi bodies in mass graves in Iraq are not our problem. The US population is about twelve times that of Iraq , so let's multiply 300,000 by twelve. What would you think if there were 3,600,000 American bodies in mass graves in America because of George Bush? Would you hope for another country to help liberate America ?
"Peace Activists" always seem to demonstrate where it's safe, in America.
Why don't we see Peace Activist demonstrating in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea, in the places in the world that really need peace activism the most?
The liberal mentality is supposed to favor human rights, civil rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc., but if the Jihad wins, wherever the Jihad wins, it is the end of civil rights, human rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc. Americans who oppose the liberation of Iraq are coming down on the side of their own worst enemy.
If the Jihad wins, it is the death of Liberalism. Everywhere the Jihad wins, it is the death of Liberalism. And American Liberals just don't get it.
Raymond S. Kraft is a writer and lawyer living in Northern California .
(I think my dad found this at www.theamericandaily.com)
Sunday, July 23, 2006
At the beginning of Thursday, I was at Los Hermanos working a closing shift. I'm now a "Lead Server" at Los Hermanos, you see, so that means I get to stay at the restaurant longer than any of the other servers with a manager to close shop. That's the bad part, but the promotion does come with perks like getting better sections of the restaurant and always being seated with tables. I also get a shiny golden name tag instead of just a regular black and white one.
Brown Sugar gave me my first "Happy Birthday" sometime around 1 AM while I was working on my first very own lead sheet downstairs.
When I got home, Smurf made me grilled cheese sandwiches (one of four things that he can make) and we sat at the kitchen table and talked about this and that and whatever we were thinking about until around 6 AM. I like these talks.
At 6 AM the sun dawned and it was my bedtime, so I slept on the couch in the living room until around 8 AM so that I could go paragliding. Chris and Blueshorts and I piled in the car to be on our way, stopping at a 7-eleven where I picked up some red bull and some caffeine pills. This is the first time I have ever taken any of these things, but I wanted to be as awake as possible for paragliding. In retrospect, maybe that was just silly. I downed some of both and then we called Dale, the paragliding guy, while we drove toward the point of the mountain. He told us it would be better for us to wait until later in the evening to go because then the wind would be better. So we reluctantly took ourselves home again for a while. I tried to sleep, but alas, the caffeine and red bull... My body finally calmed down after about an hour and I got a few hours of shut-eye. After the nap, we all went over to Blueshorts' place where Alecia had made me biscuits and gravy, (upon special request, for my birthday) :) Mmmm...it was delicious. She made hashbrowns to go with it and everything. Unfortunately, I may have overindulged.
By the time 5:00 rolled around I was still feeling kinda full. We went to the point of the mountain to meet Dale and his paragliding buddies so we could all jump tandem.
Paragliding was amazing! Well, at least the first 15-20 minutes of it was. The guy who went flying with me just took this giant parachute out of his backpack, laid it out on the ground just so, and then we started running until the chute caught wind and all of a sudden we were riding thermals and flying! The housetops got littler and littler and you could see the freeway and all of Draper. We zoomed around the mountains and went high enough that we could even see over the mountains back to Provo and far out to the Salt Lake. The guy even let me drive for a while!
The incredible thing about paragliding is that one can do it whenever one wants to. You just need one of these special parachutes, and the chutes are small enough to fit in a big backpack on your back. These guys can literally just go flying any day they feel like it. They go up to some mountainside, open their chutes and take off! Wow!
Here is the not so awesome part of the story. Aboiut 15 to 20 minutes up there I started feeling dizzy and sick. When I focused on just one thing like a building or mountain top or lake, I was okay, but the guy behind me kept pointing things out to me and I wanted to look everywhere and we kept goind up and down and right and left and in circles really fast. I quickly realized this wasnt helping and told him I felt kinda nauseous. He said we were about to go down anyways, but it was too late.
I puked biscuits and gravy all over Draper City, all over my shirt and shorts, all over my parachute straps, and quite possible a little on my tandem instructor guy. It was a horrible mess and I felt like crap.
When we got down, the instructors were all pretty nice saying it happens a lot and whatever, but that didnt console me at all. I took off my shirt and shorts and rode home wrapped in a blanket. When I got home I took a shower, where I barfed 3 more times. I then promptly went to bed despite having plans to meet all my friends at Wiggle's house around then.
They all went to Sizzler and had a birthday dinner for me while I slept. I was okay with that since I badly needed to recover. It sucked for poor El Veneno though, who came down to P-town expecting to go have dinner with us and then never heard from me the rest of the night.
When I finally came to, I'm not really sure what time it was then, Garret and Chris and Brown Sugar came to pick me up and we went to Wiggle's house to meet everyone else. I got cake (Alecia made a delicious carrot cake for me) and Wiggle made me a delightful pecan pie. Then I opened some SWEET presents and we played games. Wiggle had decorated the place in green and it looked awesome. I have the coolest friends.
Today (Saturday) I went over to my sister's place in Orem where I had a little family celebration which was equally enjoyable. My nieces greeted me as soon as I got out of the car with little wrapped presents. We had all this sushi and stir fry and delicious gluten free food (cuz of the rest of the family). I played Go Fish with my nieces and then opened some more awesome loot. I swear this Birthday was like Christmas! I've never gotten this much cool stuff for my birthday in my entire life. My little brother AND Smurf and Wiggle and Brown Sugar both got me the Calvin and Hobbes anthology! I love Calvin and Hobbes! I've been laughing my head off at these comics since I was 6 and I'd been wanting to get the anthology set reallly bad. Because I had a one copy from Smurf and Wiggle and Brown Sugar, my little brother decided he would just keep the copy he got me (he loves Calvin and Hobbes too) and will get me the Far Side anthology to go along with the Calvin and Hobbes one! He's got his own job now and he had been saving so he could get me something cool ever since I got him a gameboy for Christmas. Man, so cool!
My older sister got me a book, The Alchemist. My nieces got me keychains cuz I keep on losing my keys and told them they could just get me new keychains as I lost the Superman one they gave me for Christmas. My mom is getting me new Sunday white shirts (she had to ask me my size tonight), and my little sister got me two giant bottles of Nutella to spill on them. I love Nutella!
Blueshorts got me this sweet bag of stuff for making sushi, cuz i do love sushi. Theres a cookbook and little roller things and wasabi and ginger and seaweed and rice and chopsticks and a little package of superhero bandaids for when I cut myself with the knife (he and several others have seen me do this before) so I can still feel cool.
Last but not least at all, my older brother who is currently down at SUU left me a birthday present last time he came up to visit my parents. When I was done opening the rest of my family's presents, they brought it out. It was a giant thing wrapped in a blanket. I opened it up to find a slick looking longboard! This wasn't something I had expected, especially from my brother who isnt that big on presents, but he went all out. He had been planning to get me one for a while I guess. I went out and learned how to ride it the same way I learned how to drive stick for the first time: around the middle of the night when no one is watching so that I can make all kinds of crappy starts and stops and near collisions. I'm not doing bad at it now, and I've got the hang of it enough to ride around town a bit. I never thought of myself as the skater type, but I seriously love this, its a ton of fun. I'm gonna start riding it around everywhere. My brother was awesome to think of it.
All in all, my birthday was great. Being 20 has had its ups (longboarding in the middle of the night) and downs (puking all over Draper) but I think I like it so far. The good things have been great and the horrible things make great stories.
Tomorrow I talk to my stake president about going on a mission and/or advancing in the priesthood. I also teach Elders Quorum and need to finish preparing for that. Wish me luck.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
I got to babysit my nieces Krista (5) and Kylie (2) all week long last week while their parents were on a cruise in Alaska. It was great, and probably the closest I will ever come to being a single working mom. They made a list of things to do while Uncle Pinetree was babysitting. The objectives for the week were; go bowling, go swimming, play soccer, eat at a restaurant, watch a movie, see the castle (the castle at Trafalga mini-golf/fun center in Orem), play hide-and go seek, make cookies, and go to Chuck-E-Cheese. We managed to get all of this done, as well as 3 square meals a day, working several shifts at Los Hermanos, getting Krista to ballet lessons, and much more. At the end of the week I got paid a ton of money (I don't feel bad about this, I think my sister and her husband are going to be the richest people related to me soon) as well as an oversized Alaska T-shirt and hat. But honestly, I think I would have done it for free. Here's some pictures:
This is the restaurant they wanted to go to.
Kylie gets some help bowling from a special contraption just for people her size.
Full of Grace.
OTHER PICTURES:Chris' family's cabin.
Chris and Smurf skipping rocks at the reservoir above Chris's cabin.Bryce Canyon.
Grand Canyon. We only made it four miles down the Grand Canyon because Smurf hurt his leg. I really want to go again and finish the hike. So if you want to go to the Grand Canyon, let me know.
Mentoring at the Gateway in Salt LakeBlueshorts, Smurf, Me, Brown Sugar, Wiggle, and Tracie at the Manti Temple Pageant.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Gilmore Guy is getting married!!!!!!! Holy Smokes!! We talked about it running one night. Actually it was more like me asking questions and him talking. I admire him for making this bold move. I hope to be in his shoes someday. This is some of the best news I've heard in a long time. I'm incredibly excited for him.
At the same time these sorts of thoughts make me worry. Not about him so much as myself. I guess that's the root of the problem though, being selfish about these sorts of relationships. I don't even know where to begin with girls. Also, there are certain feelings I can't imagine happening with a girl. But I hope they can happen.
I remember the first time I found a guy my age that I liked. It was in high school. I really wasn't too big on the church at the time. In fact, the church just made me angry.
I remember being at his house laying on his bed, looking out the window at the stars and then looking at him and his curly dirty-blond hair and light eyes and we were both kind of asleep, but not, and thinking about each other and it was warm and great. Not forever great, but just great right that moment. But that moment seemed like forever, right there. I got lost in it. And I didn't really want anything else.
Of course, he drove me home later that night and I saw my parents and my brothers and sisters and I had to do homework and not tell anyone. I just came crashing down to reality like it had all been a dream I was waking up from.
Still, could I ever feel like that for a girl? Could I ever just get lost in her? Just purely because of her physical attractiveness and warmth and just being with her close? It is something I would miss deeply. Is it even necessary?
I don't think it is. I think the most important thing is commitment and just being there and being able to do all the normal things like homework and working and taking care of the kids and what not. This isn't to say that I couldn't have sex or anything like that with my wife. I could, I'm sure. I'm just not sure about always having the urge to, or about those moments when you just sort of want to lay there starry-eyed cuddling each other, being totally attracted and totally content. I think all things are possible, I just have trouble imagining this. Does that make sense? This train of thought upsets me a little sometimes, but I'm willing to give that all up.
Sorry if that weirds out any of you who read my blog.
At any rate, more stuff that has happened:
Smurf is a manager now at Los Hermanos. This is great for him because he gets paid well, receives health insurance, and gets to eat for free all the time. Weird, and a little uncomfortable for me though. It's odd having your best friend be in charge of you sometimes, even if that's his job. I think I'd like to find another job to work at in the morning in addition to Los Hermanos. I should be earning as much money as I can. Also, some deep insecurity inside me is cautioning me against feeling like I work for my friends all the time and I rely on that. I'm not sure how to feel about this.
I got into Fiddler on the Roof, a play that will show at the Orem Scera. We were accepted into the ensemble, which is actually pretty cool considering the calibur of this "community" performance. Smurf and Robb from work got in too, but Smurf can't do it anymore because of his new managerial duties (which we really werent expecting when we tried out). I'm not sure if I will stick with it or not. They always have these surprise practices that I can't make because I don't have enough time to get work off. Also, I've already missed a couple rehearsals already. Hmmm..
Went to the Manti pageant with Blueshorts, Smurf, Brown Sugar, Wiggle and Tracie. The temple in Manti is amazing. It's this big old castle of a building out in the middle of nowehere, and it's gorgeous at night, especially when the lights of the temple come on and the stars come out. I think it's one of my favorite temples. We had lots of fun playing games and munching on the snacks we had smuggled in before the show.
The pageant, on the other hand was really cheesy. At least I thought so. Smurf tells me that this is the nature of pageants, and that is why we do not call them "plays." They are "melodramas." I guess a lot of people have profound religious experiences and feelings there, but that wasn't me. There were a few things I really liked, like the sound of the narrator woman's voice and the vocabulary she used and also some of the effects, like all the fire and lightening when Jesus came to the Americas and the pillar of light at Joseph Smith's prayer. But there was just a lot of hokey stuff in-between.
I was also sort of being sarcastic and making little comments about how cheesy it was through the performance, which I shouldn't have been doing. I feel sort of dumb about that in retrospect. I don't like myself being so vocally critical.
Los Hermanos is getting harder to work at. I hope this is only a temporary thing. I had a server critique the other night, which is where a manager sits down with a clipboard at a table in the restaurant and grades you on how well you serve them. Brown Sugar was doing my critique and she was sitting there with Blueshorts, so it was a little awkward, as I am generally on pretty casual terms with both of these two people. So the short and skinny of it is that I made all kinds of mistakes, like forgetting to even fill the water pitcher I had in my hand before going to fill their glasses. (who does that!?) and leaving a tray stand in front of their table, and getting Brown Sugar's order wrong. It it was this horrible mess.
Aside from all that, it's hard to be "on" all the time and just be smiley and helpful and polite and the center of attention always to everyone. I get really burned out from it lately, even though I still have to do it. I've been making more mistakes, and all the customers I serve seem to just have this gloomy look on their face like, "so why haven't you gotten me my ______ yet?" Hmm. I'm hoping to stay positive and get over this in time.
I served Chris Canon yesterday at lunch. For those of you who don't know who he is, (shame!) he represents Utah, specifically the third district, in the House of Representatives. Not only that, but his wife was roommates with my mom in college and they were good gal-pals. Her name is Claudia Fox. She and Chris Canon were at my parents' wedding reception and lots of other stuff. I told the couple who my parents were and they were thrilled to meet me and ask me questions about how my family is doing and I thought it was really cool that I was meeting a congressman who knew my parents back in the day. They remembered a lot about my parents. Claudia tole me to tell my mom to call her. (I'm so sure she has your number now...) They were nice folks, but I had to seperate the politics from the people. Congressman Canon and his wife started telling me about his policy on immigation (in favor of building a fence along the border, no road to citizenship or amnesty for any immigrant who crossed the border illegally, etc) and I couldn't help but think how silly it was that he was telling me this while a bunch of most likely illegal immigrants who forged their papers to get jobs were making his steak, enchilada, and spanish rice back in the kitchen. They probably washed his dishes too. It was especially ironic when two obviously illegal construction workers came in for lunch and sat down at a table right next to the congressman and couldn't speak enough English to ask me what exactly was in the Joya del Mar soup and what kinds of cerveza we had. I explained everything to them in Spanish, making sure I was loud enough for the congressman and his wife to hear. When I returned to Canon's table, they both smiled plastically and told me I spoke Spanish very well. (She served in Spain, he in El Salvador and Guatemala, surprisingly.) Funny story. He ended up leaving me 7 bucks on a 23 dollar check. Pretty good...for a Republican.
I talked to my mom later on the phone and she was really excited and happy that I had talked to Chris and Claudia. My dad thought it was cool that the two had remembered them. I told my mom that Congressman Canon had asked me to ask her to put a Chris Canon lawn sign up at their house, to which my Mom replied "Oh, well I hate to tell them this, but I'm pretty sure I'll be voting for the other guy."
Way to be Mom, way to be.
I find solace in my car lately, which I have back now. This old hunk of junk is mine, and I love driving around and just thinking and singing along and listening to music in it. Blueshorts gave me an old cd player of his to use with my tape adapter.
Cookies are also pretty good to have around.
I'm gonna get to bed for now. Thanks for reading all this random crazy stuff. Later, amigos.