28 September 2007

101 Ways to Offend

One of my core abilities seems to be that of offending people. I don't do it on purpose. It's just part of my sometimes blatantly honest communication style. I try to be open and honest about my feelings with people. Sometimes I feel bad for offending people, other times I don't.

One sure-fire way to offend someone is to judge something about them and then let them know. Of course, if they ask you if you have judged something about them, why are they surprised when you say yes?

Everything we do all day long is based on judgement. I see what other people do, I listen to what they say, and I witness the results. Based on the results, I then make a decision as to whether or not I will make those same choices or say those same things in my life. If the outcome for them was not ideal, then I judge and put that on the list of things to avoid. If the outcome was super-awesome, I judge and put that on the list of things to emulate.

Do I judge well? Sometimes. Do I judge poorly? Sometimes. They key item that I am getting at is you are making judgements of people's actions in order to help you evaluate what your own actions should be. Does this mean that if I judge someones actions as poor that I therefore think they are a bad person? No. In the extreme case of a serial killer, I would say yes, but most of the time I think that judging actions does not automatically flow into judgement of the person himself. Unfortunately it seems that most people think you can't separate judgement of actions from judgement of person.

To me, judgement of person is God's job. I'll judge whether or not I want to emulate your actions, but the judgement of you as a person is not my prerogative. I don't know everything about you. There are always extenuating circumstances that lead up to people making the decisions they do. Most of the time we don't know and understand what all of those elements are, therefore we are not qualified to judge the person.

The tricky part is once you've determined you don't approve of someones actions, how do you keep yourself from becoming judgemental of the person? Is it possible to have no respect for the decisions in a person's life, but still have respect for that person? It's difficult, but not impossible.

I have an acquaintance who recently got divorced after several years of marriage. I didn't know the whole story behind their divorce, but I knew several key details of the marriage from his perspective. I judged those details as being things I did not want to emulate in my life, or in a marriage if there ever is one for me. In my eyes, those details were the things that lead to the divorce. I do not respect those actions at all. However, given the state that their marriage was in, I do respect the fact that they went through with the divorce. The things that seemed to lead up to the divorce put the emotional stability of each of them into such a state of disarray that divorce was actually a really good decision.

When he asked me if I looked down on him for getting divorced, my reply was with respect to the things he had been involved in that lead up to the divorce. I told him that yes, I did look down on his choices. I saw all of the bad things he was letting into his life. He drove out the Spirit and did not let that foster and aid his marriage.

Unfortunately, when I go back and read the email, I can see how it would have been misinterpreted as me saying I looked down on his decision to get divorced. So, that lead to a rather lengthy and vicious reply from him. Oops. Damn my sometimes poor ability to convey my thoughts through a written medium! So, now I have to try and redeem myself from appearing judgemental of person.

Then again, who is he to judge me?

Funniest Movie of the Year

Death at a Funeral

I saw this last weekend with a friend of mine. It honestly was the funniest movie I have seen all year. It's got a bunch of minor actors in it, several of whom you recognize, but nobody huge. I think that makes it more enjoyable.

It's classic dry British humor. It's one of those movies where just when you think things can't get any worse for the characters, they do. And the results are hilarious.

It's R-rated for regular use of the f-bomb and a naked male hiney. If you don't have issues with either of those, I highly recommend the movie.

27 September 2007

The Interesting Today

I was out and about this afternoon, wandering through stores trying to pilfer some design ideas for a project I'm working on. I have to tell you about two odd things.

The first odd thing that happened to me was that as I was walking out to my car in the Ikea parking lot, some guy drives up in a truck and tries to sell me a $5,000 surround sound system. Do I really look that dumb and gullible?

The second odd thing was something I saw, or rather someone I saw. I was walking out of another store to get in my car and I saw a strange-looking person walking towards me. I didn't think much of it at first, because I was next door to Guitar Center, and there are always weird people walking out of that place. But, as he got closer to me, I realized he wasn't one of the ordinary, cut-and-dry weird people. He was a unique weird person. He was wearing a wig of long, black hair, a pirate hat, and a Pirates of the Carribean shirt. Nothing else was pirate-themed. He wore denim shorts and cheap sneakers. He did have a goatee, and a smile on his face that said, "I love who I am and what I'm wearing right now." I was impressed. Unfortunately, my hands were full so I couldn't get to my phone to snap a picture.

How interesting was your day?

22 September 2007

September Rain

It doesn't rain much in September here in So Cal. I can prove this by sending you here. But it's raining today. It rained all night rather heavily, and here at noontime it is starting to pour again. I love it. The temperature is a cool 67 degrees. The air is clean. I'm in my pajama pants, a hoodie and slippers sitting on the couch (yes, pajamas at noon). The steady drone of the rainfall is quite soothing and peaceful. I feel good right now. Since I don't have anyone to share this moment with right now, I decided to blog it and share it with all of you. I hope you have a great day.

19 September 2007

The Storm (conclusion)

The storm pressed on.

Darkness set in. The power was out. And a combination of fear and excitement began to take hold on the heart of Ryan. He began to understand why the local residents would abandon their town during the storm. Even if the storm never hit, there was always the chance for massive destruction. But to see it first-hand was amazing. The desert thunderstorms were amazing in and of themselves, but they never did damage like this. This storm was something entirely different. The raw power that it possessed was unlike anything he had seen before.

A bolt of lightening streaked down from the sky and struck tree in front of the cabin. The energy from the bolt reached into every particle of the tree, heating it to a tremendous temperature. The water contained inside the cells of the tree boiled and vaporized, in the process creating a massive buildup of pressure. It was more than the structure of the tree could handle and it erupted with violent force sending limbs and branches through the air at blinding speeds.

The main body of the tree flew screaming through the window of the cabin and knocked Zack to the floor.

"Zack! Zack! Are you okay?" Ryan screamed as he leapt to the floor to shield Zack from any debris that might rain down on him. There was no response. He laid his fingers on Zack's neck to check for a pulse. There was a pulse, but it was faint. He grabbed Zack under the arms and pulled him into the bedroom. He lay Zack on the bed and then shut the bedroom door to keep the wind and rain out.

Zack had a large gash on his arm and Ryan began to attend to it. He needed to stop the bleeding.

The storm pressed on in all its fury.

A single dust particle, now encased in water, fell from the sky as one of countless other raindrops. It fell on the mountainside above the cabin that Ryan and Zack were in. When it touched the earth, it soaked into the loose soil. It was the tipping point for the soil. The provervbial straw that broke the camel's back. It was the last bit of water that gravity needed to overcome the friction that held the soil in place on the mountain.

The side of the mountain began to flow. Slowly at first, but gradually picking up speed. As it flowed down the mountain, the momentum disloged other spots of rain-drenched soil. It grew. It gathered more saturated soil. It grew even more. It grew and grew as it flowed down the mountain until it looked as if the entire mountain itself was churning and collapsing on itself.

Ryan didn't notice the rumble in the earth. He was too busy tending to Zack. He didn't notice until it was too late. The mountain flowing down on itself eventually flowed over the cabin where they were, burying it under many feet of mud, rock, and sundered trees. The storm had taken them captive, and would never let them free.

The storm pressed on.

The Storm (part 2)

A single spec of dust floated on the breeze. It didn't know where it had originated, for it had had been in too many places. It had traversed the globe more than the most well-travelled of human beings could imagine. There was no end in sight, because it was just a spec of dust. It would one day fall to the earth, only to be swept up again on the breeze and carried through the atmosphere to another destination.

And so it was with an innumerable host of dust particles. To them, the storm was simply a part of their life cycle. The moisture in the air would begin to condense on them, clouds would form, and eventually they would fall to the ground in raindrops.

To Ryan and Zack, the storm was something entirely different. They had spent the night in the small cabin, waiting on the storm. The wind had increased in ferocity during the night, and more and more water was beginning to precipitate from the skies. The lightening and thunder had continually awoken them during the night, so that they both felt rather unrested that morning.

"Wow, it's really starting to come down," said Ryan with a bit of worry in his voice.

"Yeah, but this is probably as bad as it's going to get. It was only supposed to last through tomorrow, so we are probably seeing the tail end of it. Aren't you glad we stayed?"

Ryan thought about this for a moment and replied, "Yeah, but I do have to admit that I'm a little disappointed in the storm. It's had strong winds, and that lightening show last night was pretty amazing, but it just hasn't been as awe-inspiring as a good desert thunderstorm."

"Well, now you know. It wasn't as great as you thought it would be, but at least we didn't have to worry about finding a place to evacuate to. I've enjoyed just being lazy here in the cabin."

They passed the day with occasional conversation, books, board games and periodic naps - along with infrequent glances out the window at the storm.

As the day passed the winds grew stronger. They grew at such a slow pace that it was hardly noticable to Ryan and Zack. Their ears became dulled to the sound outside as it gradually increased in level. The thunderclaps seemed to increse too, but they thought nothing of it. What they didn't realize was that many of what they thought were thunderclaps were not preceded by a lightening strike. They were, in fact, great tree branches failing under the strain of the ever-increasing winds.

Ryan was staring intently at the pages of a very uninteresting book that he was determined to finish on this trip. While the typeface was swimming around on the page in front of him as he struggled to retain consciousness, he caught a flash of something through the window.

"What was that?" he asked to Zack as he put down the book and stood up and gazed out of the window.

"What was what?"

"I thought I just saw something outside of the window." He moved towards the window.

"Like what?"

"I don't know. I just got a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye while I was reading." He reached the window and gazed outside. "Wow, come take a look at this!"

Zack got up off of the couch and walked over to the window. He looked out to the same sight that Ryan saw. It was chaos. Many large trees had fallen - several onto the abandoned homes of the local town residents. The irrigation ditches running along the road were swelled and spilling out into the streets. They watched another tree felled by the great gusts of wind from the approaching storm. It fell onto the lone power pole that was distributing electricity to the surrounding cabins. They saw a bright explosion and then the electricity went out.

The storm pressed on.

Always Remember September 19th With Great Respect

We will never forget:


09 September 2007

Praying For Answers

I've had a thought on my mind lately. A lot of people here and elsewhere comment a lot about how there isn't much "direct revelation" on the subject of homosexuality. The information we receive on it, most notably from Elder Oaks, seems to be more along the lines of compilations of existing information rather than a "Yea, verily" coming from the prophet himself.

The information can also be somewhat vague. Granted, the individual experiences that each of us have with respect to SGA probably can't all be solved with a "yea verily," but it seems like we could do with some more direct information with respect to the aspects of SGA that all of us have in common.

I would propose something. As someone who loves the church and the gospel, but would really like some more direct answers, I think that we should have a Moho community fast. I think we should exercise our combined faith and petition the Lord to grant more light and knowledge to us through his Prophet.

Everything that has ever been revealed in this dispensation has been due to petitioning the Lord for answers to questions. Why can't our question be answered? Why can't we receive a greater understanding of our situation? I see no reason why not.

So, I would ask each of you to join with me over the next few weeks leading up to General Conference to implore the Lord in your personal prayers to grant us a greater light and knowledge concerning SGA. Implore Him to speak through his Prophet. And I would also ask that everyone set aside the last Sunday of this month as a special fast for the answers we all seek.

Do I have any takers?

The Storm (part 1)

The gray of the landscape spread out before him in a misty blanket. The wind whipped through the trees, the branches swaying against it in a battle for who would survive the night. The trees had won this battle many times in the past, but there was no surety that they would emerge the victor on this occasion.

Ryan gazed worriedly out of the window at the sight. "The storm's coming," he said with a sense of urgency in his voice, "we should go. Now."

"I'm not so sure I want to go. I like the rain. It's clean. It's refreshing...." Zack's voice drifted off as he lay on the couch. He yawned and stretched as if to signal his annoyance with the current conversation.

"Are you kidding me? This is a major hurricane coming through, not some light summer shower. This is a dangerous place to be right now." Ryan's anxiousness at the storm and annoyance at Zack's flippant attitude shown clearly in his voice.

Zack's ears perked at the mention of danger, and he began to inwardly revel in the fact that he had annoyed Ryan to such a degree. "Is it? I don't think so. The storms never pass directly through this area, and even if this one does pass closer than normal, I want to be here to see it. It would be amazing to experience it first hand."

Ryan was aghast. "Why do you want to experience it first hand? These things can kill!"

"Whatever, dude, I'll be fine. It's not a big deal." Then Zack added facetiously, "Besides, I watched the movie Twister eleven times, so I know what to expect."

"Very funny." Ryan turned away from Zack and gazed back out the window. There were no signs of life, human or animal, outside. The few other inhabitants of the town had been evactuated the day before, and the animals had long since disappeared. He studied the wide, sweeping motion of the tree branches for several moments, and being the nature lover that he was, began to see the beauty in the windswept landscape. He permitted a single thought to enter his head. What would the storm look like this close?

He pondered on that thought. It intrigued him. After all he loved nature. It was a major part of his life. In some ways, it defined who he was. During the school year he was studying to become a botanist. He had grown up in the outdoors, camping and hiking with his father and the local Boy Scout troop. He never felt quite content unless he was out enjoying things that were not associated with a city or civilzation. He had seen great desert thunderstorms in the summer and has always been fascinated by their motion. He would watch, entranced, as the lightning danced across the landscape in it's chaotic and unpredictable patterns. He loved the torrential drench as the rain poured upon him and then would suddenly cease. The skies would open up and the sun would shine. All in a matter of minutes. Thunderstorms were beautiful.

After pondering the first thought, more thoughts entered his mind. The storms never pass directly through this area. They never have. Not in the 100-plus years that this area has had people living in it. Why would it this time? Why did all of the locals abandon the town every year during storm season if the storms never hit here directly? It did seem rather ridiculous to abandon your home every year only to come back and find it completely intact. Why did those people go through the same thing every year? Why didn't they just accept the fact that the storm never hits their town and just enjoy the fringes of it as it blew past? After all, it was rather magnificent to watch it through the window.

This all led up to a finality of thought in Ryan's mind. Why should he do the same as all the other people? He was his own person with his own destiny. He had a friend that was willing to stay, in fact, wanted to stay and see the storm. Why not stay?

He took a breath and said, "Maybe it would be okay to stay here and watch the storm. I mean, they never pass directly through here. We're probably seeing the worst of it right now anyway."

"Now that's what I like to hear! It's about time you did something adventurous with yourself," remarked Zack as he got up off the couch. He walked over to the window, looked out at the scene before him, put his hand on Ryan's shoulder and said, "Welcome to the world of not being boring all the time and taking a little risk."

The storm pressed on.


Well, I haven't blogged for a while. I've been able to have people that I know in real life be there when I needed a shoulder to cry on or someone to discuss my angst with. It's been great. I haven't forgotten all of you, though. I just haven't known what to write since I have a non-virtual support circle now.

So, I decided to write a story. I've spent the last 13 years of my life only doing technical writing, and I thought it was about time to get back into the habit of writing interesting things. I have a great idea for a series of childrens books, but I fear that my current writing skills are not polished enough to work on that. So, I'm going to practice. Feel free to comment about the story on the blog itself. If you have any comments/suggestions concerning my writing style send me a private email. I would actually very much welcome those.

I'll publish this first one in 3 parts. Rather than write something purely for entertainment's sake, I decided to try something I have never done before - write a story with a moral. Not that my writing during my teenage years was immoral, it just never really had a point to it other than to be entertaining. This story has a point to it. This is the first version of it, and someday in the future when I reread it and do some critiquing, I may rewrite it. I hope at least one of you enjoys it.