Before getting down to more pleasant business, including a happy story and some lighthearted memes, here is a follow-up on my suicidal acquaintance mentioned last week.
This man is an inspiration to me. I really understood all too well a lot of the things he wrote in his suicide note, but I think he has it worse than I ever did and I wouldn't be able to survive in his shoes. I don't even know how to comfort him or anyone else, really, as people's struggles often put me in mind of a Pearls Before Swine comic that I wanted to post but couldn't find on Google. Pig is depressed. Rat says, "Don't worry, Pig, it'll get better." Pig says, "Really?" Rat says, "Yeah. And then it will get worse again." Pig gets more depressed and says "Ohhhhhh..." Rat says, "We realists never make good comforters." Or as one institute teacher put it, "Life is basically, you have problems and then you die."
I've come to realize that the only characters I can write with any feeling of authenticity are women, aliens, and fantasy creatures. It's no mystery why, since I don't think like normal people, and I'm not particularly "masculine" as I have no interest in sex and rather little in sports, guns, cars, or most video games. I'm not into particularly girly things and I don't understand women either, but I'm more comfortable with them for whatever reason. And maybe some people would disagree that my female characters are realistic to begin with. All I know is that after years of trying to write novels with flat and boring male protagonists I promoted a female love interest to that position and she blossomed to glorious life and it became the first novel that I didn't get sick of and give up on.
The Logan Institute is sending a choir to sing at the priesthood session of General Conference. They announced this at the end of last semester and invited men to just register for it like any other class. I thought that would be a really fun and uplifting experience so I did so. But unlike every other class, it had no enrollment limit, so they got too many applicants, which seemed to catch them by surprise for some reason since they had an apparent change of plans and did auditions after all. So that was another dream snuffed out in its infancy, but it's probably for the best. I sing so terribly that I'm not even sure whether I'm a tenor or a baritone because while singing I shift my voice up and down in a futile effort to find a pitch that doesn't sound terrible. So good call, Logan Institute.
Now I'm going to attempt something that I haven't done here for a while, which is to tell a long coherent story instead of changing the subject after a couple paragraphs. The Institute also recently put on their Disney-themed opening social. I went there and ran into "Debbie", from the ward that meets at the same time as mine in the opposite end of the building, whom I sometimes wander down to visit between classes. She made me come dance in her little circle but a lot of the songs weren't really dance-able. One side effect of having half of them be Disney songs, however, was that there were more than three slow songs per four hours, so I danced with Debbie, and then about ten minutes later I danced with her again so I wouldn't have to meet with strangers, and then I went and watched Toy Story 2 because I hadn't seen it in so long and it brought back the memory of seeing it in the theater. It's so good.
That Sunday, I stayed in bed until almost ten because I was exhausted after having insomnia every night for forever. It was 10:56 when I turned on my phone and saw that Debbie had invited me to a brunch at eleven. She probably meant it for someone else, but I decided to just show up anyway. I stupidly wasn't thinking in terms of breakfast food so I brought Pringles to contribute something, as it wasn't/isn't likely that I would be doing something of my own that I could invite her to by way of reciprocation in the near future. No one touched the Pringles but I made her keep some of them when I left. There were like four other guys and two other girls there, and I successfully avoided making friends with any of them. After I left I went up to campus to use a computer at the library, and she texted me to thank me for coming, and a while later she texted me again to offer me a ride to church, but she didn't have time to come to campus so I had to walk anyway and that was really mean of her.
I promise this tangent is related to the overall story. I don't even remember the last time I had to throw up, but when I was younger it happened every once in a while. Whenever I felt that kind of sick I asked for a priesthood blessing. I don't remember the words of those blessings, but they never healed me. I was always like, "I need another blessing. That one didn't work." So all these years later, on Sunday when I started to feel very sick at the end of sacrament meeting, I realized two things. First, that Debbie had probably poisoned me and that explained a lot. And second, that I needed to just suck it up and deal until it was over. During Elders' Quorum I left class and laid on the couch in the foyer, and that was actually quite peaceful and so worth it.
When the classes were done my friend Sarah showed up and asked what was going on, and I told her, and she asked if I wanted a priesthood blessing. "I don't have the priesthood," she concluded. I, trying to be funny, responded, "Why not?", meaning why didn't she have the priesthood, but she took it to mean why not get a blessing, so she recruited a couple guys and we went into an empty room and they did it. I was quite astonished by these words: "I command you to be healed according to your faith." And then something about going and doing good for the rest of the day which made it clear that the healing was to be in the immediate future. I got up, thanked them, went to the water fountain for a drink, and returned to them already feeling almost entirely better.
That evening I went to Debbie's ward prayer because during the brunch I had overheard that they were going to have ice cream. I decided to be mature and not get on her case about poisoning me. I had accidentally left my R2-D2 hat at her apartment, and decided to show up and get it later, but she thwarted that plan by bringing it there and correctly guessing that it was mine. The person in charge of the activity thought it would be fun to have people divide up by name, then by birth date, then by relationship status. I counted the latter groups, or to be more precise, I counted the first group and then counted everyone when they were sitting in a circle and subtracted the first group from that total, because that saved a lot of effort.
Engaged, dating, and/or "it's complicated" - 9 (including the bishop)
Single - 46
This is why President Monson cries himself to sleep at night.
Afterward, as we ate ice cream, Debbie was talking with a couple friends about Star Wars. I thought that was weird because while we were dancing I asked if she liked sci-fi and she was like "Um, Star Trek, does that count?" No, of course Star Trek doesn't count, because it's actually a long-running documentary series that was sent back in time to warn us about the dangers of xenophobia and hokey special effects. Actually, I like Star Trek just fine, but I haven't seen much of it because there just isn't enough time in the world to devote to pursuing everything. Star Wars, on the other hand, has been an obsession since I first saw the new Lego sets released to coincide with "The Phantom Menace". If she had mentioned that she liked Star Wars too we would have had a lot to talk about. I wasn't interested in talking with her friends about it, though, because they were just saying stuff I already knew. I already knew that Anakin Skywalker's shadow on the wall of the Lars homestead in Episode II looks like Darth Vader, and that it just happened like that without any digital manipulation.
I think we have now passed the point at which everyone who really cares about Star Wars can be reasonably be expected to have seen the latest movie by now. Nonetheless, I will preface the following with a disclaimer -
SPOILER FOR STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
*Kylo Ren applies to join the Resistance*
Kylo: Ben Solo.
Recruiter: I didn't ask about your love life, I just want your name.
*Kylo Ren joins the First Order instead*
ANOTHER SPOILER FOR STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
The awesome is strong with this one. President Uchtdorf: "Last weekend Living Legends of Aviation honored our dear friend Colonel Gail Halvorsen for his lifelong positive impact on children. It was my honor to present him with the Kitty Hawk Children’s Award. May we each find opportunities to serve and bless the lives of God’s children as Brother Halvorsen has. Later that evening, I was privileged to be in a photo with Brother Halvorsen and Harrison Ford. Our 95-year-old Candy Bomber looked almost the youngest between the Millennium Falcon pilot and me - a former airline captain."
Barenaked Ladies - Who Needs Sleep
Now I leave you with this song by BNL that hits very close to home and never fails to bring me comfort. My family often listened to their first greatest hits album as I was growing up and I think it's a travesty that this phenomenal piece of phenomenon wasn't on it.
(Just because I liked the profundity and accuracy of that comic and I've been trying to open with a comic most of the time because people like pictures. This has nothing to do with anything else in the post.)
The highlight of this week was that the authorities were able to stop someone I care about from killing himself. This was made possible by him posting his suicide note on Facebook. He explained that he felt like a monster who just made people miserable and didn't belong on this planet, so he wanted to go be with God and the angels and love people from a distance where he couldn't hurt them. At times like this, calling the police is generally the best option because dissuading people in this condition may be impossible. Reporting it to Facebook is also good but not sufficient. He is now in the hospital and out of immediate danger, but of course the problems which drove him into that state of mind in the first place have not magically disappeared, nor will they. I hope he can work through them, but in the meantime it would be really, really helpful if people (aka Mormons who should know better) would stop treating him like trash.
(Reading this to myself, it kind of looks like I'm talking about myself in a thinly veiled and roundabout way. I don't know if it looks that way to anyone else, but in case it does, let me clarify firmly that I am not.)
You know what's a really, really stupid word? "Mansplain". I know what it means, but what it looks like is someone just picked a random one-syllable word and shoved it into the word "explain" with no rhyme or reason. It's about as catchy and clever as "forksplain" or "chairsplain" or "sheepsplain" - that is to say, not at all. Here are three alternatives, any one of which is easily a hundred times better because some actual intelligent thought went into it: "manalyze", "mannotate", and "demanstrate". You're welcome.
Now, in an effort to win back everyone I just alienated, I will attack a cheap and easy target that no one will defend. You know what else is a really, really stupid word? "Bae". Now, people are fond of pointing out that it's the Danish word for "poop", but I'm going to be controversial and say I don't actually think that's relevant to those of us who are speaking English and not Danish. I'm sure there are many homonyms across languages that happen to be the "same" word despite lacking a common origin or meaning. I wanted to say precisely how many, or at least a rough estimate, but apparently no one has studied that. But really, this attack is needless overkill anyway because "bae" is just a stupid word to begin with. It just makes people sound too mentally deficient to pronounce "babe". That's why I hate it.
I forgot to share the charming stories of how I got a math textbook and in iClicker. I had arranged to meet someone on campus and buy the math textbook from her for twenty dollars, which was really nice since it would have cost fifty-four dollars just to rent a used one. I told her I would wear my R2-D2 hat to make sure she would recognize me. She pulled up in her car, ran to me, staring at the ground, and we exchanged the money for the book in one fluid motion as she said "Here's this for you thank you very much have a nice day!" She didn't even glance at the money as it went into her hand. If I were an unscrupulous person with a time machine, I could go back and give her one dollar instead of twenty. Then she left as quickly as she had come. When I looked at the bottom of the book's cover I saw the possible reason why: "This edition is for sale on the Indian subcontinent only. Not for export elsewhere."
Then I arranged to get an iClicker from someone else for fifteen dollars. It was an iClicker 1, which was all I needed for Stats because we aren't going to use any of the special buttons that the iClicker 2 introduced. This took a bit more doing to arrange but we did it, again I wore my R2-D2 hat, and again the person seemed frantic to get it over with. I don't get it. I get that they had no reason to stick around, but why act as if they almost on the verge of panic? Maybe they were both die-hard Trekkies and didn't want to be seen in public near my hat. Anyway, she gave me that and I turned it on to see if it had batteries and was working. It did and it was. Within five minutes, I had dropped it and I joked to myself that it had probably stopped working. It had. I was rather annoyed. That evening I dropped in on my neighbor to use his screwdriver and try to fix it myself, reasoning that something had probably been jarred loose and maybe I could identify it and glue it or something. We couldn't get it open, though, because there were only two screws and one other attachment point where a screw should have been but wasn't.
Then my neighbor's roommate, who is technically also my neighbor, saw what I was doing and asked if I just wanted to take his iClicker that he never used anymore. His was an iClicker 2, which, as previously mentioned, I didn't need, but now I can fit in with all the cool kids. Then my neighbor invited me to stay and watch the first episode of that show everyone has been talking about, "Making a Murderer". It made me very, very angry. The show I mean, not the invitation. To recap, the series as a whole is about Steve Avery allegedly being wrongfully convicted of murder based on dubious evidence because people had it in for him, and there's some controversy as to whether the documentary fairly presented both sides of the story so I'm not qualified to comment on that. But what's beyond dispute, and what the first episode focuses on, is that before that he was wrongfully convicted of rape, despite a great deal of evidence exonerating him and decent evidence pointing to the actual rapist (who remained free for another decade and raped at least two more women), because people had it in for him.
It makes my blood boil that innocent people's lives are ruined by false accusations of heinous crimes, and all the more so when the accusers know they're false. People who knowingly falsely accuse other people of rape or murder should get exactly the same sentence as the accused would get. Ideally, rapists and murderers and false accusers would all get the death penalty, but precisely because so many innocent people are convicted this is awkward to enforce in practice. So we won't kill you, innocent person, we'll just ruin your reputation and take away a decade or three of your life and then "compensate" you with less than minimum wage, if anything. Grrr.
Looking around in church one afternoon, thinking to myself: Haley, you look uncharacteristically short today. Are you slunched over? [pause] I don't think "slunched" is a real word. Well, it should be. I like it.
Sitting in Sunday School, as the teacher drew an asymmetrical curvy thing on the blackboard and explained: "That's supposed to be an arch." The guys behind me whispered.
"There wouldn't happen to be a keystone in this arch, would there?"
"What's a keystone?"
"Don't worry, she'll explain it."
(I'm sorry that my one if any non-Mormon readers probably have no idea why I found this amusing. It wasn't actually funny enough to justify explaining, but it was in reference to a popular metaphor about the Book of Mormon, which you should totally read.)
Elder Dallin H. Oaks once said that sometimes "a volunteer will step forward to present what he or she considers to be the Church’s position. Sometimes these volunteers are well-informed and capable, and they contribute to a balanced presentation. Sometimes they are not, and their contribution makes matters worse. When attacked by error, truth is better served by silence than by a bad argument." And sometimes, thanks to the magic of social media, that bad argument is mindlessly accepted, liked, and shared by thousands of Mormons because they want it to be true. I am referring specifically in this instance to Rodney Meldrum's scientifically bogus claims about alleged DNA evidence supporting the Book of Mormon which, though hardly new, have recently been given new life by several Mormon Facebook pages that should know better.
What the Church says about such things: "Nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon peoples, and even if their genetic profile were known, there are sound scientific reasons that it might remain undetected. For these same reasons, arguments that some defenders of the Book of Mormon make based on DNA studies are also speculative. In short, DNA studies cannot be used decisively to either affirm or reject the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon." What one of the pages, LDS SMILE, said to me when I complained: "It was never meant to "prove" anything but simply a perspective that one person had. I understand full well that it's not definitive as I spent 10 years as a cardiovascular genetic researcher. I get it but it was a post that resonated with our readers that we wanted to share." Translation: "I know this is a load of crap, but people like it, so I don't care."
Here's the funny thing about science - some guy with no credentials or expertise can't just make up whatever "perspective" he wants, misrepresent and strategically omit evidence to make it look credible to the uninformed, and expect it to magically be valid. This is not "simply a perspective that one person had", and not merely "not definitive" - it's wrong, period. And I find it extremely disturbing that these things go so viral while the sane comments and rebuttals get only a fraction of a percent of the same attention, because they aren't what people want to hear. It has been said that a lie can travel halfway around the world while truth is still putting its boots on (which has been fittingly attributed to Mark Twain even though he probably never said it and certainly didn't originate it), and that was long before social media came along so that now it can travel completely around the world while truth is still asleep. People who base their faith on what they want to be true rather than what actually is true are building on a very sandy foundation for themselves and embarrassing the Church for everyone.
Guy on the internet: "...I don't give a rip about 'credentials'..."
Me: "...So you don't care if some random wacko from off the street performs your surgery?..."
President Harold B. Lee once said that "it never ceases to amaze me how gullible some of our Church members are", and while he was referring specifically to the mindless spreading of false urban legends, the principles he discussed apply here as well. I myself am not merely amazed at it, but also dismayed, disturbed, and downright disgusted. People, I implore you with all the fervor of which I am capable, use some common sense.
Remember how I said that I would probably fail Latin now that my ex-crush isn't here to help me? Remember how maybe you thought that was intended to be a joke? Well, it wasn't.
Instead of whatshisname, today I have chosen to present the charming Carla Ulbrich, in a lovely little song taken from her fabulous debut, "Her Fabulous Debut".
Carla Ulbrich - What if Your Girlfriend Was Gone
Description/transcript presumably provided for the benefit of her blind friend. Isn't that nice? These days I actually worry more about what could happen if I do talk. We all know what it's like to be trapped in a one-sided conversation with someone who can't take a hint and leave us alone, and I don't want to be that guy, and I know I have been sometimes. When I was younger I often followed my mom around the house spouting off about things she may or may not have been able to care less about. Now a couple times a week I visit Bracelets at work and do the same thing. She hasn't had me thrown out yet so I guess she doesn't mind. But for the most part I don't think I actually need to worry about it much, because most conversations go more like this -
Girl: Hi. Well, it was nice talking to you. See you later.
Walking home from the rec center without putting my pants or jacket or coat back on was a mistake. I had just run the equivalent of five miles on the treadmill, speeding up quite a bit near the end so that I could finish just as the place closed, so I felt no need to put them back on because I felt as warm as anyone could ask for. But later that night and over the next week my throat felt like crud so I couldn't go to the rec center. Lesson learned.
I won't give a summary of President Russell M. Nelson's CES devotional because if you didn't see it you should just go see it instead of reading a summary. I'll just mention a few things that popped out to me even though they weren't the main focus. The only part that the secular news cared about, of course was his description of how the controversial policy changes of late last year was decided after much intense deliberation followed by revelation to the prophet. I had already assumed that much. Why would any policy change be made without examining the potential repercussions and seeking the Lord's guidance? I'm pretty sure this is standard procedure. But many people seemed to think it was done on a whim, and this explanation has predictably done little to change their minds because their minds are determined not to be changed. But that's none of my business.
One of his points was "accomplishing the impossible", and he missed the opportunity to put in a plug for his book of the same title, which I got for Christmas and read through in an hour and a half. It's full of footnotes, but a couple times he plagiarized his own General Conference talks and apparently thought no one would notice. Anyway, in the introduction he went into a little more detail about his assignment to open Eastern Europe to the preaching of the gospel. My favorite bit – and I'm paraphrasing without even looking at it so as not to violate the copyright – was when he and Elder Hans B. Ringger went to meet with one official in one country who scowled at them and said, "Nelson? Ringger? Mormons? I've never heard of you." President Nelson responded something to the effect of, "Well, then that places us on equal footing. We have never heard of you either. It's time we all got acquainted.” And then everyone laughed and became as good friends as Mormons and Communists could ever hope to be.
In both the book and the talk, he said something to the effect of "It will become less and less popular to be a Latter-day Saint." I don't think it takes a prophet to figure that out, but I hate hearing it. I hate it because I feel that I've had quite enough of not fitting in for most of my life and given the choice would like to minimize that sort of thing from here on out, not invite it. Oh well. To be realistic though, Latter-day Saint or not, I would never really fit in unless I played along with society's asinine script, and that wouldn't be worth it, so I may as well have a cause at the same time. My main concern is just that people won't buy my books.
From BYU's Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship:
Second, the endorsement of secular knowledge ("the scientific evidence says yes"), instead of remaining totally neutral on the topic, is a very good move. I once read from an old institute manual which, in merely stating that there is no doctrinal position on the age of the earth, conveyed the erroneous impression that all opinions on the topic are therefore equally valid. There's no need to shy away from obviously true things just because they fall beyond the scope of doctrine, just as there is no need for God to reveal doctrine on things we can figure out for ourselves. (Of course, I'm hardly the first to point out that Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith must be spinning in their graves.)
Classes look as though they'll be decent this semester, with the exception of Latin, which I'll probably fail now that my ex-crush is no longer here for me to study with. But Statistics, which I was worried about because I detest math, has been pleasantly surprising. It started off with the professor saying in her mixed British/New Zealand accent, “How many people in here love math? Get out right now.” And so far it's been mostly about controlled randomized double blind studies and stuff, and I can dig that. It's enough science for me to be interested but not so much that I lose interest. And on top of that her accent really helps me pay attention. The last time I took a math class, the professor, bless his heart, had one of the most boring voices I have ever heard from a human being. It was the aural equivalent of paint drying. Between that and the actual subject matter, the clock and my eyes became opposite-poled magnets.
Today in Literary Analysis, this girl touched my wrist. The context was that I said the Langston Hughes poem we were analyzing had an abcdcefeghh rhyme scheme, while she thought it was abcbdedfgg, and I pointed out that she had skipped the first line, and she thought that was amusing. It was such a light and brief touch that I didn't realize until like twenty seconds later, when I was like "Wait - what?"
Maybe she was flirting with you.
Hahahahahahahahaha. Seriously though.
I don't know. I am, after all, not really a sentient entity in and of myself, but merely a projection of your own mental processes, and so it is highly unlikely that I can figure out anything you can't.
I have this friend who used to be a mellowing influence on me, but now I'm afraid I seem to have been an exacerbating influence on her instead, as she is now also letting trolls goad her into arguments. At least she picked a more worthy cause than I did last time.
Do you understand, if you didn't already, why I think faith in humanity is a mental disorder? She asked me afterward, "Do you think it was wrong of me to swear? In my opinion, I rarely swear, and it's only for serious topics." And I said I didn't know what a General Authority would say about that but it sure seemed justified to me. I nearly jumped in with some choice words of my own but the excitement had already died down when I showed up and I figured stirring it back up would accomplish nothing. Guys, I'm a really bad role model and I'm sorry. Follow Jesus, not me.
On that note, I got into a (much milder) argument about whether one should respect everyone. I say no, that while we should love everyone, respect must be earned. I don't think Jesus respected the Pharisees and I don't think He respects everyone today either. But some people said that everyone is entitled to respect just because they exist. I asked if they respect Hitler. One of them said "I respect him but not what he did." I was speechless. Another chimed in "Besides, Hitler thought he was doing the right thing." What does one say to that? Well, I find that hard to believe, but even if he did, guess what, I still don't respect him. Also, I myself don't even want everyone's respect. If I was respected by the people that I don't respect, I would feel the need to seriously reevaluate my life choices.
In the unlikely event that I ever have to buy an engagement ring, I know where I'm not going, aka to either of the local establishments that pollute the airwaves with their nauseatingly shallow commercials. There are few tactics lower than attempting to convince people that love = buying your overpriced and functionally useless product. Granted, at least the ones here aren't nearly as bad as the Belden Jewelers commercials I remember from New York that literally started with a guy saying in a soft, low voice, "What would you do for love?" I don't know, but I would kill him for a Klondike bar. And then they ended with singing, "Straight to the heart, Belden Jewelers..." I actually just Googled them to see if I was spelling their name right and the third result was a list of complaints from "pissedconsumer.com", so there's that too. If there's a jewelry store somewhere that doesn't do commercials like that, I might be so overjoyed at their integrity that I can more easily overlook how very stupid the tradition of engagement rings is in the first place. Not going to lie, though, I might never have noticed if not for Bloom County.
"Just tell him you want the ring from Jerrick's."
Or, you know, just tell him you'll be happy with whatever you get because you aren't an entitled brat.
Mike Oldfield's debut on my blog is delayed once again, this time by the passing of David Bowie. (Interesting how sixty-nine doesn't even seem quite old enough to die in this day and age. Alan Rickman was also sixty-nine. Donald Trump is also sixty-nine. No comment.) So, of course I could just choose a David Bowie song, but that would hardly be original, and besides I try to go for somewhat more obscure things that people are less likely to be familiar with, so that I can expand their horizons. Thus I instead chose a song that's a tribute to a David Bowie song, and admittedly this one is kind of famous too but not nearly so much so it counts. I first heard it on the radio last semester while I was up past midnight working on a cut and paste poetry assignment, and I wondered why they waited until after midnight to play the stuff that I hadn't heard 237,648 times already before.
Peter Schilling - Major Tom
This week I kind of became a fitness buff (not to be confused with fit and buff) in about thirty seconds. I know I need to take care of my body, but since it stays the same size regardless of what I eat or how much I move, and since I already walk everywhere I go and take additional walks just for fun, it doesn't usually feel like an urgent priority. The other day, however, I stopped in at the new Aggie Recreation Center on campus. I was opposed to raising student fees to construct this building when the university already had exercise and sports facilities. As soon as I stepped inside, however, I was converted, and I've been there every day since, though I won't go tomorrow because of the Sabbath.
First of all, instead of swiping your ID card, they take your handprint. The only thing that could be cooler is a retinal scan. And then the facilities themselves are laid out in such a way as to be warm and inviting and everyone is all over the place getting fit and it makes my own adrenaline rush just to look around. Somehow it even smells of perfume rather than sweat. I like having those other people around, since it contributes to the effect, but I do feel self-conscious about whether I'm running as fast as them or lifting as much as them. I don't usually care one iota about not being particularly muscular or athletic, but I do care one iota in that kind of environment where everyone else seems to be. Oh well. I saw Lenny again, and also another friend who was there with her ex-boyfriend to "play a little basketball and discuss why we shouldn't still be friends".
My favorite thing to do is run on the treadmills. Running is a mindless activity already, and on a treadmill I don't even need to look where I'm going. I just let my mind wander wherever it wants to go and I don't need to feel guilty about being lazy in the process. Sometimes I find that my mind gets into the rhythm of my feet and then my mouth starts beatboxing along, "Boots and cats and boots and cats and boots and cats and boots and cats and..." Then I see how many calories I've allegedly burned and I become less content. I want to build muscle, not burn calories. I think I'm skinny enough, thank you. The treadmills have this cool thing where you can use Google Maps to virtually run through some route elsewhere in the world, and the elevation automatically adjusts as you go. Apparently it's a demo because it only has Monterrey and Cape Town, but still.
I finally got to see “Jurassic World” in its entirety. I kept waiting for it to show up in the cheap theater, but either I spaced out for too long or it never did. It was shown on the quad near the beginning of last semester but I missed the first half because I was talking to a close friend and decided some friends are more important than movies. This time the North Logan Library was showing it, conveniently on the Monday when my ward had nothing scheduled for home evening. To my surprise, almost everyone else there was children. To my dismay, they were shouting and jumping around and throwing popcorn and stuff. To my surprise, they settled down almost entirely when the movie actually started. I'm very proud of them.
I consider it the third best Jurassic Park movie (original, Lost World, this one, and III, in that order). I heard that more are potentially going to be made, though, and that's just ridiculous. Enough is enough. We get the idea: humans play God, dinosaurs teach them a lesson in a morbidly entertaining manner. I enjoy it as much as anyone but it doesn't need to be rehashed a dozen times, and further attempts to make the plots fresh and original (though in my opinion they worked well this time around) would undoubtedly lead to jumping the Megalodon. This film is a good note to end the series on. Make something else – like "Astronomical Park". Humans capture alien monsters to showcase in a theme park on the moon, alien monsters teach them a lesson in a morbidly entertaining manner. Now if someone actually does this without paying me royalties I will be royally peeved.
I tried to catch the bus back, but it was after 8:30 and apparently they only do a "half route" at that time, so the driver stopped but wouldn't let me on. I didn't press the issue because I wouldn't want him to lose his job for not making me walk twenty plus blocks home in the cold at night. By the end I thought I had developed a cold, but the symptoms were gone the next day because I have an amazing immune system (knock on wood). I went to Smith's before going home because I was supposed to meet a friend so he could tell me about his screenplay idea, and as I was walking to the entrance a truck drove up behind me and someone called, "Hey!"
My first thought was that it was my friend, but he's an Indian and when I turned I saw that this guy was not. I noticed two other guys in the truck as well, and my next thought was, “They're going to beat me up.” Don't ask me why. Maybe they disagreed with an opinion stated on my blog. Then the first guy held out a card, and I thought it must have somehow fallen from my wallet along the way. But then he said, “Do you want a five dollar gift card to Jamba Juice?” And I said sure, and he gave it to me, and I thanked him, and he drove away. I had been there at exactly the right time. So the whole walking twenty plus blocks in the cold at night thing was one of those hidden blessings.
I met my friend there, and we went to his house, and he asked if I wanted some milk, and I said sure, and he said "All right, I'll heat it up for you." That was jarring for a moment but then I figured, I've heard of warm milk but I've never tried it and now I'll get to try it. He asked if I wanted corn flakes in it and I said sure. When he gave me the milk, it wasn't warm, but hot, and he explained that the Indian proclivity for hot food goes beyond mere spices.
This was a while ago but I feel like mentioning it anyway. Seeing it in my peripheral vision one day was just a bit of a Twilight Zone moment.
I literally thought, "I'm engaged? Why didn't anyone tell me?" It could have happened. This was a few weeks before my birthday and my parents could have bought me a mail order bride from Lichtenslava or somewhere, and then hacked my account. Or I could have been on drugs at the time.
Again, here's something I already posted on Facebook and if you already saw it there you'll just have to suffer through it again. I'm given to understand that some of my readers, who shall remain anonymous, don't even have Facebook. At the New Year's Eve YSA dance which I already mentioned last week, this girl roped me into her circle of friends and we talked a little bit and we were just there dancing in a circle the way people do, and then I left for a while and eventually came back and then without saying a word she held out her phone to me. It was open to the "New Contact" screen. "Oh," I thought. "Although this has never happened to me before and I lack a basic understanding of social cues, it seems apparent that for whatever reason she wants me to put my number in her phone."
So I did. It took me half the song because I pushed the wrong buttons at least twenty-seven times, probably because I was too sleep-deprived to realize that maybe I should use a digit other than my thumb. I worried that maybe she would call me and I would ignore it the way I always ignore calls from numbers that I don't recognize (and some that I do). Then I realized with an instinct born of experience that she wasn't going to contact me at all. Why she wanted my number when she wasn't going to use it was beyond my comprehension, but whatever. Indeed, I was right and she never called or texted or anything. But after I recounted this to a friend yesterday, she said, "You were probably supposed to text yourself from her phone so that you would have her number, and then use it to text her. Now she probably thinks you're not interested."
And I was like, "Well, how was I supposed to know that when she didn't say anything??"
And she was like, "Because that's just what people do."
While I am not for a moment condemning this particular girl for doing "just what people do", if indeed that's what she was doing, I think the whole strategy is asinine. You know what would have accomplished the desired effect in a straightforward and simple manner? "Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's my number, so text me maybe." It would have been that simple. And it's not like she was too shy, is it? Non-verbally thrusting your phone at someone for them to put your number in strikes me as a very bold move. I wouldn't have dared. How did she know I wouldn't say, "Excuse me, what if I don't want to put my number in your phone?" Apparently the roundabout way of doing things is just meant to shift the burden of initiative to the male, which I'm sure works great if the male has a clue what's going on. Of course I initially thought this was because I'm an Aspie, but other males who chimed in said they wouldn't have gotten it either. Funny how women can't take hints yet they expect men to.
But that's not the only entry in the "Christopher is an Idiot" chronicles this week. In other news, I discovered a sizable draft around my front (and only) door that has probably cost me a small fortune. Seriously, every time the furnace comes on all I hear is money evaporating. I went to Lowe's to get something to patch it up, and ended up getting a can of something called "Great Stuff" from the Doors and Windows section. I wanted it because it was cheap. I took it to one of the employees and asked, "Do you happen to know how well this works?" I made sure to preface the question with "Do you happen to know" because it must be really annoying when customers assume that every employee is an expert on product in the store. He said it worked really well. "Are you taking out a window, putting in a window?" I said I just needed to insulate a door. He said "Yeah, that would work."
I was supposed to wear gloves and eye protection, so Landon's gloves – made famous in my first post ever after my site migrated to this platform – made a comeback. They were still in my room where Cece left them. A pair of cheap sunglasses handed out by the on-campus housing people last semester provided the eye protection, and then I added a face mask that I don't even remember the origin of just in case. I had to screw a really long straw thing to the top of the can and spray slowly, and they did mean slowly. The stuff went pssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhSSSHHHK! as it slowly made its way up the straw and suddenly all splurted out the end. I made a mess despite my best efforts and soon became grateful for the gloves, which nearly became stuck to the can and to each other and now have yellow fingers. I was aiming for the space between the vertical edge of the door and the wall, where the draft was.
I wondered how this would work. Wouldn't it seal the door shut? How would it stick just to one side and not the other so the door could still open? But, I reasoned, I was just using it for exactly what it was designed for, so it would turn out all right. I did the top of the door too for good measure. This was right before I went to bed, because it needed eight hours to cure. The next morning I awoke to find that the door was sealed shut. No amount of pulling would rectify that, and I had to get a knife and cut around every inch of the affected area before it would give way. But it did stop the draft, and is still reducing it substantially because most of it is still there.
If you only like positive, happy stuff, you may want to skip this part, and the place where you can stop skipping is marked by a picture of baby hedgehogs. If you hate me, then you'll probably really enjoy it, so grab your popcorn. To make a very long and gratuitously painful story short, a year ago yesterday, after weeks of talking for hours a day which involved plenty of flirting and teasing, I told a woman I loved her and she said “I love you too.” This was the first of at least five times. I was so surprised and so happy. I had thought it would take a lot longer to get to this point, but here I was already. This happy state of affairs continued until shortly after Valentine's Day, when I gave her a poem I had written about her and she suddenly realized that I wasn't just kidding like she was. Also it turned out she had a boyfriend that she had never once mentioned.
"Hahahahahahaha!" I imagined God saying. "You actually thought someone loved you? Hahahahahahaha! You imbecile!" I've repented since then, having realized that these words came not from God, but from Life, who isn't really even a person.
"You'll find someone better," Our Mutual Friend (OMF) tried to reassure me.
"Sure," I said, acknowledging that possibility. "But I won't be able to trust her..."
All she could say was a commiserating, "I know."
It is most assuredly not universally true that when you love someone you can never stop loving them. (Married couples do it all the time, for example.) Any attempt to assert otherwise would fall into the "No true Scotsman" logical fallacy (which also applies to the arrogant fools who assure newly minted atheists that "You were obviously never a true Christian to begin with.") She said she would make it up to me but never did, and we tried to be friends again but she was somehow under the delusion that I wanted to hear about her boyfriend every day, so I put an end to that and now just try to pretend that she doesn't exist. Now her hashtag is trending on Twitter. The end.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organizing three new missions this year. Two of them, unsurprisingly, are in West and Central Africa – Nigeria Owerri and Democratic Republic of Congo Mbuji-Mayi, respectively. The third one is a bit more of a surprise and totally a big deal – Vietnam Hanoi. Cue the usual criticisms. When the Church organizes new missions in the Americas or Europe, it gets criticized for neglecting the majority of the world's population, and when it organizes new missions in Africa or Asia (as is the case here) it gets criticized for targeting areas with limited internet access. I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe it's just the "mission" part they don't like. Of course we all know that the internet is the only way for people to be educated and informed, and before the 1990s even the United States was in a dark age where no one knew anything. Never mind that prospective missionaries were denied visas in Nigeria in the mid-1960s because of a college student's newspaper editorial, or that they were all expelled from Ghana in 1989 because of a movie shown on TV.
Now with that tangent out of the way, I want to return to the topic of the Vietnam Hanoi Mission which is easily the most exciting one. The Church has had a small but consistent presence in that nation since the Vietnam War, when the gospel was introduced by LDS American soldiers. Elder Gordon B. Hinckley said in the April 1968 General Conference, "One cannot have been to Vietnam as I have on a number of occasions, and felt in some small measure the dreadful sorrow of the land, without making a plea for peace a part of his daily prayers. This war, like others, is fraught with terrible evil and unspeakable tragedy. I minimize none of these. But notwithstanding the evil and the tragedy, I see a silver thread shining through the dark and bloody tapestry of conflict. I see the finger of the Lord plucking some good from the evil designs of the adversary. I see coming out of this conflict, as I have witnessed in other conflicts in Asia, an enlargement of the Lord's program."
Indeed, there have been Mormons in Vietnam since that time even though most of them fled the country as soon as they got a chance. Thousands of Vietnamese have joined the Church abroad as well. My dad mentioned having a Vietnamese mission companion who drove home a sobering reality when a helicopter flew overhead and he ducked. Since the mid-2000s, members of Vietnamese descent have been allowed to serve in that country as part of the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission. In May 2014 the Church obtained official government recognition and its status in Vietnam switched from sensitive to non-sensitive, meaning (probably among other things; I'm no expert) that the congregations are now publicly reported and more missionaries are allowed to serve in more locations. And now a mission is being organized there.
I've seen a bunch of people complaining that Rey wasn't included in a few items of "The Force Awakens" merchandise, which is obviously sexist against women. I even saw someone complaining that Rey is the only competent and level-headed character in the movie, and that Finn is subordinate to a woman (Captain Phasma), and that the father in "Inside Out" is a buffoon, and that Disney is therefore sexist against men. Without taking a side in the controversy, other than to say the latter guy has a screw loose, I think everyone is overlooking a much bigger issue; namely, that Lando Calrissian wasn't even in the movie. It's as if they said, "We already have one black protagonist. We don't want to overdo it." Wow. Just wow.
Again I snub Mike Oldfield. This song is dedicated to Davin Felth, Candace Flynn, Kyle Katarn, Finn, and all disillusioned stormtroopers everywhere.
S.P.O.C.K - The Stormtrooper
Jake: What's that big round thing?
Jake: Okay. Tell me what that big round thing is, right now!
I used a flash drive to download a super old (1997) game called "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" (based on the short story series, of course) to the ancient computer in my house, and I recommend it to everybody (you can download it for free because it's abandonware) because it's hands down one of the most hilarious things I've ever played, seen, or otherwise experienced. If you don't find me funny then you probably don't think much of my sense of humor and that endorsement probably means little to you, but if so, you're wrong. In any case my hope is that you will play the game and then subconsciously associate it with me and think I'm awesome even though I had nothing to do with it. Some of the jokes are brilliant in their own right and others are so stupid they're brilliant. There are a lot of choan (chuckle + groan) inducing puns, witty cultural references, and just random stuff. This part falls into the latter category, yet it resonates with me for some reason.
A couple minutes later I ran into this, which in hindsight has become just a little awkward.
I totally forgot to share the story of how, at the end of the semester, I accidentally went on a date with my ex-crush – and she was the one who made it happen, no less. We had studied together before every test in our class, which of course did not constitute dates. My self-appointed guru said, "Study dates aren't really dates." And I thought, I know that. I'm autistic, not stupid. I never used the term 'study date'. That was all you. Anyway, we had met in the library to study before the final as well. She thought we should just go over the practice exam, so I printed it out, and she tried to print it out, but she had forgotten her card. She messed around trying to print it without a card, but to no avail. I thought, I should offer to let her print it on my card. But before I could say anything, she said, "Can I just print it on your card?" I thought, Wow, you have a lot of nerve.
That cost me fifty-seven cents. Ergo, I spent money on her. Ergo, it then became a date according to any reasonable person's criteria.
My boss asked me, "Are you doing anything for New Year's?" And I said, "I'm going to the YSA dance." And he said, "Maybe you'll meet a chiquita." And I said, "Yeah, maybe." What I was actually thinking was that yes, I probably would meet a chiquita and it wouldn't even be difficult because in all likelihood, approximately half of the people there would be chiquitas. This assumption proved correct, and I met a few of them, though I was actually more interested in meeting a guy from Vietnam named Lenny who looks eighteen but is a PhD student. Foreigners usually rank above women in my hierarchy of people that I want to meet (though obviously there is overlap between those categories).
I have already outlined my thoughts on church dances at some length. I think I mentioned at the time that I prefer dancing with girls I already know because with strangers, three minutes is just enough time to make introductions and a little pointless small talk and then never see them again. I danced with strangers this time around, though. At one point I asked a girl who had been standing against the wall for at least half an hour. She just stared at me. I thought, Wow, that is so rude. You could at least laugh at me or something. Then she finally said, "What?" I thought, Maybe examine the context here and make an educated guess.
I never expected to hear a song at a church dance about "smokin' funny things" and "drinkin' whiskey out of the bottle", but then, I never expected to hear "Angel is the Centerfold" at a home evening activity either and that happened too. Side note: would it be sacrilegious to do a parody of that called "Angel's Got Those Plates of Gold"? Because I really want to do that. I also have a love-hate relationship with "Shut Up and Dance". Can't help loving the melody, but hate hate hate the lyrics and the blatant double standard they exemplify. If the man was the one saying "Shut up and dance with me" etc., unless his name was Harrison Ford, it would be harassment.
One of my happy memories of 2014 [sic].
I would have loved to continue roleplaying this character, but not much later she divulged that she and her mother were both being verbally and physically abused by her father on at least a weekly basis. After that I couldn't portray this character with any sort of integrity, because if I was really a government agent privy to that information, I would have had him assassinated. Instead I had to just contact an abuse hotline that couldn't do anything about it.
While watching six episodes of "Hogan's Heroes" with my grandfather, a thought kept nagging at me through each and every one. That thought was me wondering whether Colonel Klink is aware of the Holocaust going on. If so, he is not just a lovable dolt who happens to be on the wrong side, but an utter monster who is all the more disturbing for also being a lovable dolt. I couldn't shake that thought. As much as I love Nazi officers being played for laughs*, I can never forget the fact that in real life many or most of them were really, really, really bad people, as opposed to most of the run-of-the-mill soldiers whom I suspect were just regular guys doing their patriotic duty. (Expecting good Germans of that era not to fight for their country because of the way it treated Jews would be like expecting good Americans of that era not to fight for their country because of the way it treated black people.) I wonder where the various commanding officers of POW camps fit into that spectrum.
*Someday my critics will use this statement as fodder against me. They will quote-mine it as "I love Nazi officers."
I've only seen a few episodes, so maybe this got addressed at some point. If not, it should have been. The series finale should have shown Klink being shocked and devastated as he learns what the Nazis have been up to, and then cheering up as he realizes he's probably the reason they lost the war.
Long ago, probably in 2001, I was visiting my grandparents when I found a little book called “How to Draw Cartoons”. I didn't realize it was probably referring to cartoons as in comics, not as in animation (though granted, the principles of the actual drawing part are largely the same), and ambitions of making an animated cartoon formed in my mind. I recruited everyone – grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, sister – to help me draw pictures for it, which in hindsight was probably kind of annoying. I started working out the plot as we were going along and I figured we'd get around to the hard part of drawing all the in-between pictures to animate it later. The main characters were a guy named Chris with pink hair and his baby camel, Baby Camel. There was also a human baby named Rumpelstiltskin, a tentacled alien named Bob, and the Triangle Man, who was a man made out of triangles. The antagonists were a guy named Pershon with a goatee and his army of aliens called Megaducks.
When the time came for me to go home, I had the option of either taking all the pictures or leaving them there. Of course I wanted to take the pictures, but in an admirable moment of empathy, I realized that if I were them* I would want to keep the pictures too, so I let them. And then the next time I came back no one knew where they were, and that remains the case to this day.
*This is known as the subjunctive tense. For more information, visit Irregular Webcomic!
I reason that they're still just lost in the house somewhere, because no one would throw away something so precious, right? During this last visit for Christmas, I conducted my most thorough search yet, opening every box in the basement that I could get my hands on (but of course being a good boy and putting everything back where I found it). I knew that all of my loyal fans would love to see these pictures if I scanned them and put them on my website. Needless to say, I didn't find them. Instead I found this dubious but intriguing urban legend, and transcribed it and uploaded it to my website and shared it in a couple of Facebook groups asking (quote) "Does anyone know anything about this story?" (close quote). See if you can guess what day that was.
And oh, my little map at the bottom of the screen looks so much more beautiful now. Go ahead and look at it. I'll wait.
I mean, wow. I couldn't have anticipated that in a million years. I've posted and shared plenty of other stuff that should be of interest to an LDS audience, and gotten decent responses, but nothing like this. That's even considering the Mormons who refused to read it because they were put off by its title, "Is the Book of Mormon a Fraud" (the title that came with it when I found it; if I had chosen that title, there would be a grammatically necessary question mark at the end of it), though that didn't always stop them from telling me to doubt my doubts and stop posting "anti crap". Now, I stated from the very beginning that I couldn't vouch for its veracity and that I was looking for information about it. I thought it seemed too good to be true, but true or false, I was surprised that I had never heard of it before, and it had to come from somewhere, so I was investigating. And I did hope that there would turn out to be at least some truth in it.
This is the healthy skepticism I try to have. I treat things like this with suspicion, but don't dismiss them altogether until I've looked into them. I was validated even though the story turned out to be false, because although one of my initial misgivings was that Google turned up no record of the protagonist's existence, it turns out that he did in fact exist. It's just that he seems to have been a liar or a really bad exaggerator. Oh well. My grandparents' basement also had a box of books they were getting rid of, and they asked me if I wanted to take any. I looked through them and realized that any one of them could potentially change my life forever, but I simply don't have time to read them all and find out. What a shame. They did give me "Accomplishing the Impossible" by Russell M. Nelson, and that looks to be an interesting read.
"And because those daft and dewy-eyed dopes
Keep building up impossible hopes
Things are happening every day!"
I wrote Bracelets a poem for Christmas. She said it got her choked up. I was happy to hear that. I love making women cry.* I really wish now that I had chosen a better nickname for her than "Bracelets" because I'm tired of it. I probably could have just used her real name and no one would have known who she was, and if they did it wouldn't have mattered because I've never said anything embarrassing about her, but it's a bit late for that now.
*Someday my critics will quote-mine this statement as "I love making women cry."
Speaking of women, if you remember a couple weeks ago when I said in a very tongue-in-cheek manner "Sometimes I wink at married women online, too" and then showed a screencap of a conversation in which a married woman was discussing something she would have done for me between Christmas and New Year's, then you've probably spent more than a few sleepless nights since then wondering what that thing was. Well, she finished it as promised, so here it is, though it will be meaningless to most of you. She remains uncredited because she doesn't want her name showing up on the internet.
I was very glad to unexpectedly receive this message. Statistics tell me very little about what impact my site is actually having on anyone, so it was good to hear this, as opposed to something like "My entire family has left the Church because of you."
George Harrison - Ding Dong
I had been planning to showcase "Only Time Will Tell" by Mike Oldfield, but then yesterday I heard this on the Daily Beatle Break and it got stuck in my head for quite some time, so Mike will just have to wait. I guess only time will tell if he does get featured, nyuk nyuk.
To whom it may concern (aka probably nobody): my current highest Pinball score, as of yesterday, is 6,253,750.
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
C. Randall Nicholson
This is where I occasionally rant about life, the universe, and/or everything. I'm a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate me without guilt, but I'm also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual.