Today in the never-ending thrill ride that is my life, I got a haircut! I always get it at the New Horizons Beauty College because they're in training so they do it super cheap, and I always try to get it from Abby because I know her and she knows how to do it. Anytime I get someone else they ask, "How do you want it?" and I'm like "I don't know... shorter? You're the expert, not me." But I worked it out with her and since then she remembers. Last time, some dude cut my hair and it looked fine but then it was too long again within a couple weeks, but I didn't want to go back so soon so I just waited and waited and waited. Then the other night I saw Abby in a crowd and decided it was time. I have a quiet (in addition to monotone) voice, so I followed her around saying "Abby. Abby. Abby. Abby. Abby." When she finally heard and turned around, her face lit up and she said "Oh hey!" and I suddenly felt guilty for just wanting a haircut and not talking to her just out of the goodness of my heart, so I felt like I should think of something else to say first, but I couldn't so I just stared at her with a dopey face for like ten seconds. I'm sure it was cute.
I found out she's going to graduate soon, though, so I'll have to find someone else. I asked what she's doing after that and she said moving to Provo and I barely restrained myself from saying "Ew." No offense. Anyway, I got a haircut and then I left the beauty college and noticed that the street was lined with people waiting for the homecoming parade I totally forgot about. I'm not a patient man, so I walked down the street toward the parade so it would get to me faster. Along the way I witnessed some misplaced balloons headed to space, which was one of the most depressing sights ever as a child, to just imagine them going farther and farther and farther... It was a good parade. There was enough candy for me even after I let the children grab most of it first, maybe in part because I didn't have parents to stop me from going farther out into the road. After an hour, the parade concluded somewhat anticlimactically with a little car from S. E. Needham Jewelers. They threw out candy too, but it was just Tootsie rolls and stuff. They should have thrown out ring pops. That would have been so clever that I would have almost forgotten how much I hate them.
I am deeply, madly, hopelessly in love with my job, but it isn't perfect all the time. After being told by the computer to accept a certain book, we must determine whether it's "Very Good", "Good", or "Acceptable". This involves skimming through the pages to check for writing, highlighting, or stains. Often we find bookmarks, receipts, flight stubs, etcetera. The other day I found porn. It was just a photograph that someone had gone to the trouble of laminating, but obviously hadn't bothered to keep track of. Though initially freaked out, I was glad to find it for two reasons: because I potentially spared some poor grandmother from finding it, and because it made me not hungry anymore. I threw it away, but when I emptied the bin at the end of the shift, it stuck to the bottom so that I had to touch it again and pull it out manually. I tried to tear it up, but I couldn't because it was laminated.
That, unfortunately, was only the second most disgusting thing I saw that day. The first was a jackass claiming that, with "minute exceptions", only Muslims practice female genital mutilation, and obstinately sticking by his claim no matter how thoroughly I demonstrated that it has zero basis in fact. It is not primarily a religious practice and the vast majority of people who do it are not Muslims. If someone had said something so plainly false about Mormons I probably wouldn't have even bothered to respond, but I'm more defensive about other faiths, and I was all the more angry because this jackass is a Mormon himself. I hate it when Mormons think that being members of "the only true church" makes it okay for us to misrepresent and look down on others' beliefs. And the hypocrisy of crying foul when people consider themselves experts on their faith based on a handful of embarrassing quotes, but then doing the same to Islam, is almost too much to bear. Forget the Old Testament, Brigham Young said stuff that's worse than anything in the Quran. And the FGM thing isn't even in the Quran, but in the hadiths, where it's never a requirement.
The reason this came up, incidentally, was that Elder Holland recently became the first top LDS leader to publicly denounce female genital mutilation, and that made me very happy because it really bothers me. I had to read quite a bit about it in an anthropology class and the whole time I felt like slitting my wrists to distract myself from thinking about it. I imagine it must have been addressed by mission presidents and/or area Seventies before, though, because they address other cultural practices that aren't in harmony with the gospel and that doesn't usually get talked about on a global level unless you happen to read one of their books (e.g. "Safe Journey" by Elder Glenn L. Pace, which I highly recommend), and one way or another, FGM isn't practiced by Mormons in Africa. Good for them.
After some consideration, I am officially endorsing Gary Johnson for president. I would vote for Zaphod Beeblebrox before either of the mainstream candidates, so it pleases me that this alternative actually has a chance. He'll only win if Americans grow spines, though. Voting for the lesser of two evils so the greater evil doesn't win is cowardly, if not downright treasonous to the principles of democracy. If you deliberately vote for evil then that's what you'll get and that's what you deserve. Granted, I'm not sure Trump is mentally competent enough to have evil intent, but actual results are what matter.
The Mormon Section
Some time ago I started occasionally drawing a cross on my hand to remind me of the biblical admonition to "take up [your] cross and follow me". During my call center job I did that almost every day and it helped me endure. Sometimes when I'm nervous I make the crossing gesture across my chest like Catholics do, and it has a calming effect. All of this makes me very weird because the LDS Church doesn't use crosses at all (with the exception of its military chaplains who follow the standard dress of Christian military chaplains). They never used it much to begin with, but the current unofficial official anti-cross stance only dates back to the McKay administration. And it's fine with me because it gives us a distinctive and refreshingly simple look. I'm not disputing it. But I see no harm in individual members (e.g. me) wearing it themselves, and I can't stand is Mormons misrepresenting and looking down on others' beliefs about it. So without further ado...
Stupid Things that Mormons Say About the Cross
"The cross is a symbol of torture and death." No, it isn't. Mainstream Christians believe that the Atonement transformed the cross into a symbol of hope. We don't get to tell other people what their symbols mean.
"We don't use the cross because we don't focus on Jesus' death." Except for almost every week during the most important ordinance in the Church. And don't try to pretend you've never been in a lesson where they fixated on His suffering at great length to try and make everybody emotional about it.
"If Jesus had been killed with a gun, would you wear a gun around your neck?" That would be a completely different context because guns have killed millions of people and are still frequently used to kill people today. Crosses, on the other hand, are no longer in use, and most people can name only one person who was killed on one: Jesus. Hence they can be adopted as a symbol while guns could not.
Incidentally, I can only assume that anyone who thinks using the cross as a symbol is a recent or misguided innovation has never actually read the New Testament.
Sisters of Mercy - Temple of Love
Sigh. So romantic. Do you think, if I were ever to get married, that we could actually play this in the temple? It would be a temple of love because God is love.
It feels weird to have wi-fi in the house for the first time in over a year. It was supposed to start on the first, but didn't work for nearly two weeks. When it did, the roommate who got it opted to name it "ExclusivelyForGayPorn", which is pretty funny if you're twelve. His brother changed it to "Silence of the LAN". He changed it back to "ExclusivelyForGayPorn". His brother got home, changed it to "StopBeingADickAmmon" and told me, "Maybe he'll get the hint." He did then change it back to "ExclusivelyForGayPorn" once again, but decided to make peace and voluntarily changed it again to "TroyAndAbedInTheMODEM", which is a reference to a show that I've only seen a couple episodes of.
I am madly in love with my job. How it works, for all of you who have been wondering, which I'm sure is all of you, is trucks drop off a bunch of books from thrift stores and stuff all over the west, then they get dumped onto a couple of conveyor belts and the workers at stations on either side of them pick them up. CDs, DVDs, and video games get tossed into a special bin, magazines or obviously broken books get tossed and recycled, and VHS tapes and cassettes and pretty much anything else gets thrown in the garbage. If it's an actual book, we scan the barcode or enter the ISBN manually if it doesn't have one (and if it doesn't have an ISBN at all it gets put in another special bin); then the computer looks it up and determines if they'll be able to make a profit on it. If not, or if it's not in good enough condition, it gets tossed and recycled. If so it gets labeled as "Very Good", "Good", or "Acceptable", and set aside and either sold through Amazon or directly from the company; I don't know how they determine that.
Probably eighty to ninety percent of the books end up getting recycled, and they make money off that too, apparently a lot because I don't know how else they stay in business. Perhaps I should be sad about having to throw away so many books, but really, just seeing and handling all of them is enough to make me happy. I just don't take it personally - except when I want to. I definitely allowed myself some pleasure in tossing books like "Fifty Shades of Grey", "The Lie: Evolution", and "Intermediate Algebra". It did pain me somewhat to have to put a "Very Good" sticker on Hillary Clinton's autobiography. But what can you do? We all have to abandon our principles for money at one time or another. I've had to handle a lot of dirty books the last couple days. So many, in fact, that when I washed my hands afterward the water turned brown.
This week has marked a few anniversaries. First, of course, was the terrorist attack anniversary on the eleventh. I regret that I cannot pontificate on it with any feeling of sincerity because it has never resonated emotionally with me at all. I was eight, I was in the car on the way to a dentist appointment and I heard something on the radio about planes crashing into buildings, and I didn't care because I knew that terrible things happened throughout the world every day and as far as I knew this was just another of them. My parents later sat us down and explained what had happened and why it was a big deal, but it was the first time I had ever heard of the World Trade Center, so it was still difficult to feel the impact, and I still don't. It's little more ingrained into my life than the Kennedy assassination. I've said before, though, and I'll say again, that the terrorists won. Fifteen years later we're a lot less free but no safer.
The fourteenth was my own year anniversary of meeting Debbie, which I know not because I'm a creeper but because I found the sacrament program announcing the activity where we met, which was supposed to be a beach thing but due to weather was changed to a screening of "The Cokeville Miracle", which made me cry until I couldn't breathe. After that she saw me leaving on foot and made me cram into her car with four other guys. Some time later she made me get into her car again, though she was alone this time, and I didn't remember her at all from the first time, but when a pretty girl tells me to get into her car I don't ask questions. The sixteenth was the three year anniversary of meeting the most interesting girl I've ever met, one who made me start thinking that maybe vampires are real. That story is recounted here.
Errata: Last week I said that there may be "one or two Canadians" reading this, and that was somewhat rude of me to overlook the person in Ireland who visits with some regularity. At least I assume it's just one person. Maybe it's Enya or Liam Neeson.
The Mormon Section
The Logan institute has some female teachers now. Maybe it has in the past, but not while I've been here, so it's about time. Institute teacher is not a priesthood calling. I attended one of their classes out of curiosity. She talked about how she and her husband are building a house together and he agreed to everything she wanted in it because he wanted her to be happy, so she didn't realize that he didn't actually like it. When she realized, she halted construction and insisted on redesigning the whole thing. With a combination of tears and laughter she announced to us that it was the most expensive mistake she's ever made. She said that he said that no one has ever loved him like that before. I enjoyed this story because I never get to hear this perspective. I always just hear about men doing things to please their wives, which is great of course, but marriage is actually about both partners, not just the females, so hearing this side of the equation was a breath of fresh air.
Adriano Celentano - Prisencolinensinainciusol
If I ever teach English as a second language, for a joke final exam I'm going to show the students this song with instructions to identify and define in context all the English words they hear. I can imagine the panic and consternation in their eyes already. This looks like the most interesting class ever, for multiple reasons.
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"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.