Sunday, December 28, 2008

Busking in 2008

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, December is my month for busking, which I do for money, sure, but mostly for the stories it generates. While less eventful than last year, I had three good ones this month:

1. While in the middle of We Three Kings, someone started stuffing something down the front of my shirt. A voice said, "Can I put this in your bra?" I stopped playing, of course, and saw my uncle standing there.

2. One of the employees came out of the Lion House on South Temple. She offered to bring me some hot chocolate. It was so nice of her that it made me sad to say no. To drink it I would have to stop playing, and I wanted to keep playing. She seemed really distracted and embarrassed to be talking to me. Maybe she thought I was cute. Too bad she was like sixteen years old or maybe something could have happened. How great would that story be?

3. During O Holy Night, some wiseguys in a car stopped at a stoplight shouted: "You suck! Go back to France!" (Probably my favorite busking experience this year.)

From Wikipedia:

Some people stereotype buskers as being unemployed, homeless or beggars. Most buskers are not, and these terms are normally derogatory when referring to a busker. Some people will heckle buskers and stigmatize them as such regardless of their social status.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A follow-up to the previous post. Thanks to eped for showing us where to donate to Tim Dechristopher's legal defense fund.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More good than 3/4 of a lifetime of voting anyway

I haven't spoken to Tim for a little over a year, and he might not even remember my name, but when he and I worked together for Outback Therapeutic Expeditions, I spent a couple of weeks working with him day and night, trying to help troubled teens to quit doing drugs, getting in fights, sleeping around, and getting involved with gangs. He was a good instructor and he would never avoid doing what was difficult if he thought it was what needed to be done.

Now everyone knows that that is how Tim is. In case you haven't heard, some local troublemaker thought up an ingenious new white-collar brand of monkey-wrenching, and carried it out yesterday.

Trib article
KSL article, with video

That troublemaker was Tim, and he's gotten such a good response that there's talk of raising the money to buy the $1.7 million worth of land that he bid on. Or at least the money to bail him out of jail. (He's facing felony charges.)

And if that doesn't work, there's talk of an Obama pardon. John Podesta, Obama's transition team leader, has been trying to prevent this lease anyway.

Well done Tim. Good luck to you.

(If a fund is created to buy Tim's leases, I'll post a link to it here.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmastime, Schmistmastime

Hi everyone. I like the tradition of the Christmas newsletter because it is so powerful. I think its most effective use is showing that as of when it was sent, its author hasn’t died yet. But beyond that, it has all sorts of uses. It’s like a once-a-year blog entry or the paper version of saying “Look at me!” It’s also useful for showing all of the friends that you secretly hate that you are doing WAY better than they are. Sort of like an update for the Joneses informing them that they have got a lot of work to do if they are going to keep up with you.

Anyway I think it’s customary for me to say all of the cool things that have happened this last year. Well, today at work I saw that someone left their book lying around, and we put it in the lost and found. The book was called Left Behind. I thought that was kind of neat.

I have been applying to graduate school, which is not even a little bit fun. Really it only adds to the increasing amount of time that I spend trying to convince other people that I’m worthwhile.
My five-month stint in Alaska was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it was a good experience during which I learned a lot, saved some money, made new friends, and had a lot of fun. On the other hand, and I’m afraid to admit this, it caused the global financial crisis. Yes, that whole thing was my fault. I was saving my money, and when I had a nice big chunk, I invested it into a mutual fund. Two days later AIG went bust causing President Bush to learn a new word: “cataclysm” (like I said, a mixed blessing).

So anyone who lost their 401k or their job, It was my fault. I am very sorry. Let me know and I will bake you some cookies. Probably snickerdoodles.

Many of you are probably concerned about whether I am dating anyone. That’s nice of you. Thank you.

Busking if going well. It is actually a higher paying job than I have ever had before. And it’s more fun than just about any job either. So why not do it full time? Well, my hands go numb after about one hour, and people are not as generous during business hours or during the non-Christmas season. And I like Christmas songs a lot, so I don’t know if it would be as fun during the rest of the year.

Well, that about does 'er. Even though it’s cold out, the plants are dead, I’m still single, not rich, and I spend my free time writing boring essays for committees to read, at this very moment I am warm and have plenty to eat. I have good friends and a great family. I am happy most of the time and incorrigibly optimistic.



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Perhaps the coolest text message I've gotten in the last several months:

4 men. 1 car.
3864 miles. 56
hours of driving
in a 64 hour
span. Sugar Bowl
2008/2009! Go
Utes! You in?

Friday, December 05, 2008

El Esquiar

Salt Lakers are some of the skiingest folks in America, but it seems it is only us white folks who ski. Sure, sometimes I see some Japanese tourists up at Alta too, but that's about it. So imagine how great it was to see a Mexican couple skiing today. At least they looked Mexican. Not that I can tell a Mexican from, say, a Honduras-ian, or whatever people from Honduras are called.

They looked happy too, and it made my day. We don't see enough diversity up there. Unless you count guys who wear those pastel waterproof pants or burberry plaid ski jackets (gays, probably, but you never can tell).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Wow, two glaring errors in previous posts of mine. Oddly, both have to do with time and the passage thereof. In reverse chronological order, they are:

1. I am not actually a Cancer (anymore) nor was I ever a Leo. I did the backward/forward thing wrong and it turns out I am a Gemini. So watch out, because Badass T.R. has got pushover T.R.'s back!

2. Swirly Patterns is not five years old, but is actually only four. I don't know how I decided that I had started this thing in 2003, but somehow I did.

Now before you criticize me too much, I just want to remind you about Badass T.R.

Also: how come you guys didn't catch my errors either?

Another one of the vampire costume. There's some green thing going on in this one. Glistening, maybe?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Crepuscular Commentary

TR: I'm going to see Twilight with some friends. We're dressing as vampires.

eped: Why don't you dress as girls?

(this was absolutely the best vampire costume I could assemble in ten minutes.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Sovay" (Andrew Bird) Chords

This is linkbait, of course, but someone somewhere might find this useful.

by Andrew Bird

|: C C | G G | Fmaj7 Dm | Fmaj7 Dm :||

the pickup notes to the chorus are F,F, F#, G, D, G#

| Am Am| E E | Fmaj7 Fmaj7 | E E | Am Am | E E | Fmaj7 Fmaj7 | Fmaj7 Fmaj7 ||

and here's the lyrics:

I was getting ready to be a threat
I was getting set for my
accidental suicide
the kind where no one dies
no one looks too surprised
then you realize
that you're riding on a para-success
of a heavy-handed metaphor
and a feeling like you've been here before
because you've been here before
and you've been here before
then a word washed ashore
a word washed ashore
then a word washed ashore

sovay, sovay, sovay
all along the day

I was getting ready to consider my next plan of attack
I think I'm gonna sack
the whole board of trustees
all those Don Quixotes and their B-17s
and I swear this time
yeah this time
they'll blow us back to the 70's
and this time
they're playin Ride of the Valkyries
with no semblance of grace or ease
and they're acting on vagaries
with their violent proclivities
and they're playing ride
Ride of the Valkyries

(repeat chorus)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Of Drums and Diarrhea.

Yesterday I went to a "Friendsgiving" dinner. This one had a neat little caveat: we had to either dress as Indians or Pilgrims. I put on some animal skins and some spare pieces of leather I had lying around from my Outback days, and I lent Cate some too. I'd say we had the best Indian costumes, but when we walked in there were about 15 other people, and all were dressed as Indians. Not one Pilgrim.

Is that surprising though? Which would you rather do: Wear animal skins and spend the day outside fishing, hunting, and hitting drums OR sitting inside all day reading the Bible, stopping
only to go to the latrine to unbutton your church pants to make way for your raging dysentery?

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Tenacious Cancer or a Noble Leo?

This is great! How often does a deterministic world view let you choose anything? Well, by definition, never, but we could have an entire conversation about this sometime. Later. When I have had less sleep. For now, remember this guy?

Here he explains why you can choose your favorite of TWO Western Zodiac signs:

Actually, Bill would probably let you choose any number of the twelve that you like, but this way you can still back it up with pseudoscience!

In the meantime, I'm struggling. Am I a Cancer or a Leo?

Friday, November 07, 2008

TR: Hey, you know what is really good? Peach Fresca mixed with Orange Juice

eped: I can't think of a gayer drink than that.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

poor Dorian Gray
who died on Election Day
"loaded with goodies"
from krispy kreme, starbucks, ben, jerry,
chick fil-A, babeland and more.
Not even a picture could
cure the epicure of the first tuesday
after the first monday
in November
so next year remember, remember,
save excess instead
for the month of december.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's Fundamental!!

3/3 icons agree. Go vote!
Swirly Patterns turns five years old this week. Mostly that makes me feel accomplished and all, but it presents me with a dilemma.

I think it might be time to retire Swirly Patterns and start fresh because:

1. Five years is, like, a nice even number. Even though its an odd number.
2. I've gotten tired of the page layout again.
3. I could file this one under Burning Chaff.
4. Maybe it could symbolize, you know, turning over a new leaf or something. A new direction for my life.
5. It's fun to get rid of stuff. I think its almost the same rush as purchasing something.
6. Was it the Dalai Lama or Buddha or Chris in the morning who said that you have to let go of something in order to truly possess it?

But maybe I shouldn't because:

1. My blog is older than most people's, and I (probably mistakenly) think that makes it somehow more legit than younger blogs that are more fun to read.
2. I could just change the page layout if I wanted.
3. I will probably file this under Burning Chaff anyway.
4. I can't really think of a new direction for my life.
5. I can save that rush for when the current economic crisis reaches apocalyptic proportions and The Entire Internet, including google, is no more. By then Swirly Patterns will be 6 and a half, which will make the rush even greater.
6. Do I even want to "truly possess" Swirly Patterns?

Well I think I've made up my mind.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

He was Behind the Couch the Whole Time

I went to Catholic school for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. Mrs. Groth was our music teacher, and I played recorder in her class and learned to sing. I mostly have good memories of her.

Only one memory stands out as a bad one. Around Halloween, she thought it would be a good idea to teach us this song:

Have you seen the ghost of John?
Long white bones with the skin all gone...
Oooo. Ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo
Wouldn't it be chilly with no skin on?

It was scary. I was afraid of skeletons and that tune (which was actually very catchy) would get caught in my head. I would expect to see a skeleton around every corner. Watching Jason and the Argonauts didn't help much either.

I think I went as a skeleton that year.

This is the best version of the song that I could find.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Features for Irresponsible Creatures

Tom Malloy once pointed out to me that Microsoft often identifies its bugs as "features".

While I was in Alaska, I drove a 15-passenger van which was sometimes completely full of Australians. Forget about the Australians for a minute though, because I want to talk about the van.

We had about a month with no nighttime, and yet I was still supposed to turn on the headlights whenever I drove. If I forgot, someone from the Alaska Department of Transportation would tell me to turn them on over the CB Radio (sometimes not very politely).

Anyway, I got into a good habit of nearly always turning the headlights on as soon as I started the van, which of course led to a new problem: remembering to turn them off. I killed the van's battery several times, and sometimes the Australians had to stand around and silently reflect on my incompetence while I jump-started the van. (I got really good at jump-starting.)

At home I never have this problem. I drive a Subaru, which will turn its own headlights off if you remove the key from the ignition. This is a great system that prevents a lot of forgetful people like me from getting stranded. The only possible drawback is that you are out of luck on all of those occasions when you need your headlights on and your keys in your hand.

But how often does that happen? Why can't you just leave your keys in the ignition? I'm convinced that we Americans demand the option of being idiots and hurting ourselves. That's why the nifty Subaru feature has never caught on with the other car companies. If I want to strand myself with a dead battery, then by gum, you better let me do it! Even if I don't do it on purpose!

Yeah, maybe its kind of insulting when a heap of belts, fans, pistons, etc. assumes that it knows better than you. But sometimes it does. I like the headlight feature, and I'm humble enough to admit it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

So far, today has been one of those days where I ride a bike for 15 miles and then eat half of an apple pie in one sitting, and then a half pound of roast beef. It was terrible. And fantastic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It would be cool, that's all.

Yesterday I wanted to make fun of some people. That was before last night when I had a dream. A bunch of us were hanging out on top of a mountain, hiking, sleeping, eating, and taking pictures when we heard about how this spaceship was going to come and solve all of our problems.

Being skeptics, we got a kick out of it and thought we would go to the beachfront property where this would occur just for the atmosphere and, probably, so we could feel superior to those who honestly believed in it.

After a few hours, the appointed time started approaching and some of the believers were getting antsy. I was surprised to notice a bit of anxiety in myself too, and then noticed the clouds were doing really strange things. Things I had never seen clouds do before. My friends around me starting laughing and heckling the believers but all I could do was stare at the clouds and tug at the shirt of my friend next to me to try to get him to look.

Then I noticed a figure gliding toward us on the calm ocean at inhuman speed. It looked like a child with a white face and I felt my blood turn cold. Afraid of what this thing would do I hid behind a rock while one of the believers stood fearlessly on the beach with outstretched arms. The figure landed on the shore and embraced the believer, and I was sure that it was hoax until I looked back at the clouds, which were now changing colors. A massive cube skidded onto our shore and it was clear that it was no hoax; childlike beings with white faces emerged and raised their hands and smiled, to tell us they were here now, and everything would be ok, and no hard feelings for not believing, we still love you and we forgive you.

The clock on that website happens to be 43 seconds (I guess they're on Pacific Time) before the arrival of that spaceship and it makes me sad that the "spaceship of light" won't really come. I think I want it to come almost as much as the believers, if only because of the joy I felt in my dream when I saw the figures step out the cube for the first time.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hey! There's so much more!

Because of some computer problems in Alaska, I couldn't upload all of the photos that I wanted to. And Nobody will read Sam McGee is Dead anymore ever since I posted that heart-wrenchingly sentimental final entry. So here ya go:

Friday, October 10, 2008

We Get Letters

A letter printed in BYU's Daily Universe this week.

My wife and I took a trip down to St. George this weekend and we had an opportunity to talk with a great uncle who lived in Austria during World War II. He remembered he was six years old when he heard Hitler speak for the first time. He told us he had a very distinct feeling of how evil Hitler was. The conversation switched to politics later on and he told us that he had the exact same feeling when he heard Obama speak for the first time. There's the common saying that those who don't learn from history are bound to repeat it. I'm not a hard-core Republican or anything like that, but since he received the same revelation for these two people, shouldn't we be doing something?

Christian Anderson
St. George

To which I replied:

Every newspaper gets ridiculous letters, but most have the sense not to print them. I'm referring, of course, to Christian Anderson's Oct.10 letter comparing Obama to Hitler, citing his great uncle's "revelation".
Anderson says "shouldn't we be doing something?" Well, if you're not already doing something to support your candidate, you're probably too late. Obama is probably going to win, and when he is elected and turns out to be a great president, or even a mediocre one, Anderson will be embarrassed to have his name attached to his great uncle's ramblings in The Daily Universe's online archives. Or by "doing something", does he mean we ought to stop our leaders from invading other countries and causing deaths? Because again, too late.
By Anderson's same reasoning, all of you coeds ought to have done something when that RM had a revelation that you were foreordained to marry him after just one or two dates. Hopefully that something was to ignore the revelation of a crazy person.
I know plenty of "hardcore Republicans" that are insightful enough to recognize Obama for what he is: A bright, sincere, loyal candidate with a lifelong record of true patriotism and effective public service. I even know some who are voting for him. His faithful marriage to his wife and commitment to his family are attributes to which we ought to aspire.
As someone who believes in personal revelation, might I offer an alternative explanation for this "revelation"? Obama and Hitler are both gifted public speakers. Anderson's uncle probably remembers a man speaking powerfully and a crowd responding. Through the years, that memory has become associated with evil, and now every time he hears a good speaker rallying a crowd, he thinks "Er erinnert mich an Hitler!"
Here's something else that will blow Anderson's mind: Obama's name sound's like Osama!
Maybe Anderson is right. We should "be doing something". And that something is keeping our crazy relatives indoors, away from the internet, and out of the newspaper.

TR Brooks
Salt Lake City

Monday, September 29, 2008

The United States of

I once heard a very convincing argument in favor of keeping assault rifles legal in the US. It went something like this:

"They're lots of fun to shoot."

Ah yes, you say, nodding, TR is being sarcastic because he is a liberal.

Your premise is true, but your conclusion is not. I am not being sarcastic. I think the fact that they are fun to shoot is a good reason, nay, the best reason to keep those things legal.

I still don't think they should be legal, but I am saying that is a pretty good reason. Anything about defending your families is a pile of crap. Yes. It. Is. Your kids are much more likely to die by mistake re-enacting that last scene from 3:10 to Yuma (why did you let them watch that anyway?) than they are to have some criminal break into your house while he's lost in your east-side suburban neighborhood. Same thing goes for any appeal to the constitution. Sure, militias fought off His Majesty's Army, but what have they done for me lately?

So where were we? Guns are fun, that's true. If you are adverse to shooting one, good luck fitting in next time you're in Alaska for five months. Here's another use for them: If you have a friends visit from another country, you can take them shooting. Depending on what country they're from, it might be the most exotic thing they ever do.

Next time on Swirly Patterns: What about hunting?

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's that time of year for fractured friendships

Not so current since the US economy went all Hindenburg, and McCain revealed that he has NO CLUE what is to be done, but this is still quite funny...

Obama gets some 'West Wing' wisdom

By Maureen Dowd New York Times


Now that he's finally fired up on the soup-line economy, Barack Obama knows he can't fade out again. He was eager to talk privately to a Democratic ex-president who could offer more fatherly wisdom — not to mention a surreptitious smoke — and less fraternal rivalry. I called the "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin (yes, truly) to get a readout of the meeting. This is his account:

BARACK OBAMA: (Knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and Obama is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.)

BARTLET: Senator.

OBAMA: Mr. President.

BARTLET: You seem startled.

OBAMA: I didn't expect you to answer the door yourself.

BARTLET: I didn't expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a LancĂ´me rep who thinks "The Flintstones" was based on a true story, so let's call it even.

OBAMA: Yes, sir.

BARTLET: Come on in. (Leads Obama into his study.)

BARTLET: That was a hell of a convention.

OBAMA: Thank you, I was proud of it.

BARTLET: I meant the Republicans. The Us vs. Them-a-thon. As a Democrat I was surprised to learn that I don't like small towns, God, people with jobs or America. I've been a little out of touch, but is there a mandate that the vice president be skilled at field-dressing a moose —

OBAMA: Look —

BARTLET: — and selling Advertisement Air Force Two on eBay?

OBAMA: Joke all you want, Mr. President, but it worked.

BARTLET: Imagine my surprise. What can I do for you, kid?

OBAMA: I'm interested in your advice.

BARTLET: I can't give it to you.

OBAMA: Why not?

BARTLET: I'm supporting McCain.


BARTLET: He's promised to eradicate evil, and that was always on my "to do" list.


BARTLET: And he's surrounded himself, I think, with the best possible team to get us out of an economic crisis. Why, Sarah Palin just said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers." Can you spot the error in that statement?

OBAMA: Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren't funded by taxpayers.

BARTLET: Well, at least they are now. Kind of reminds you of the time Bush said that Social Security wasn't a government program. He was only off by a little — Social Security is the largest government program.

OBAMA: I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.

BARTLET: Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.

OBAMA: Which was?

BARTLET: A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.



OBAMA: I mean, how did you overcome that?

BARTLET: I won't lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.

OBAMA: What do you mean?

BARTLET: I'm a fictional president. You're dreaming right now, Senator.

OBAMA: I'm asleep?

BARTLET: Yes, and you're losing a ton of white women.

OBAMA: Yes, sir.

BARTLET: I mean tons.

OBAMA: I understand.

BARTLET: I didn't even think there were that many white women.

OBAMA: I see the numbers, sir. What do they want from me?

BARTLET: I've been married to a white woman for 40 years, and I still don't know what she wants from me.

OBAMA: How did you do it?

BARTLET: Well, I say I'm sorry a lot.

OBAMA: I don't mean your marriage, sir. I mean how did you get America on your side?BARTLET: There again, I didn't have to be president of America, I just had to be president of the people who watched "The West Wing."

OBAMA: That would make it easier.

BARTLET: You'd do very well on NBC. Thursday nights in the old "ER" time slot with "30 Rock" as your lead-in, you'd get seven, seven-five in the demo with a 20, 22 share — you'd be selling $450,000 minutes.OBAMA: What the hell does that mean?

BARTLET: TV talk. I thought you'd be interested.

OBAMA: I'm not. They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I'm — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?

BARTLET: Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn't extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words, then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.

OBAMA: You're saying race doesn't have anything to do with it?

BARTLET: I wouldn't go that far. Brains made me look arrogant, but they make you look uppity. Plus, if you had a black daughter —

OBAMA: I have two.

BARTLET: — who was 17 and pregnant and unmarried and the father was a teenager hoping to launch a rap career with "Thug Life" inked across his chest, you'd come in fifth behind Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and a ficus.

OBAMA: You're not cheering me up.

BARTLET: Is that what you came here for?

OBAMA: No, but it wouldn't kill you.

BARTLET: Have you tried doing a two-hour special or a really good Christmas show?

OBAMA: Sir —

BARTLET: Hang on. Home run. Right here. Is there any chance you could get Michelle pregnant before the fall sweeps?

OBAMA: The problem is we can't appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET: Well ... let me think ... We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family's less safe than it was eight years ago, we've lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I'm a little angry.

OBAMA: What would you do?

BARTLET: GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that's what they are. Sarah Palin didn't say "thanks but no thanks" to the "Bridge to Nowhere." She just said "Thanks." You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist?And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I'd ask them what their problem is with excellence.While you're at it, I want the word "patriot" back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn't know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can't do both at the same time and call it patriotic.They have to lie — the truth isn't their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they've earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It's not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense, too? It's not bad enough she's forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction, too? It's not enough that a woman shouldn't have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist's baby, too? I don't know whether or not Gov. Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she's got the qualifications of one. And you're worried about seeming angry?You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

OBAMA: Good to get that off your chest?

BARTLET: Am I keeping you from something?

OBAMA: Well, it's not as if I didn't know all of that, and it took you, like, 20 minutes to say.

BARTLET: I know, I have a problem, but admitting it is the first step.

OBAMA: What's the second step?

BARTLET: I don't care.

OBAMA: So what about hope? Chuck it for outrage and put-downs?

BARTLET: No. You're elite, you can do both. Four weeks ago, you had the best week of your campaign, followed — granted, inexplicably — by the worst week of your campaign. And you're still in a statistical dead heat. You're a 47-year-old black man with a foreign-sounding name who went to Harvard and thinks devotion to your country and lapel pins aren't the same thing and you're in a statistical tie with a war hero and a Cinemax heroine. To these aged eyes, Senator, that's what progress looks like. You guys got four debates. Get out of my house and go back to work.

OBAMA: Wait, what is it you always used to say? When you hit a bump on the show and your people were down and frustrated? You'd give them a pep talk and then you'd always end it with something. What was it?

BARTLET: "Break's over."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Since I Still Don't Have Enough Blogs

I started a new one called Padded Folding Chair.

Being here in Alaska, 280 miles from the nearest Mormon congregation, has given me some new reflections on what it is exactly about this odd religion of mine that keeps me coming back. And with Sam Mcgee is Dead nearing its retirement, there will soon be a void that Padded Folding Chair will need to fill. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Are You a Bad Person?

For those of you who have heard that "the verdict is still out on science", get with the times! Science can do it all! All that we've figured out, at least.

You might be suspicious ever since you took that online IQ test and it told you that you're not a super genius after all. Or maybe that made you a believer. Either way, those 90 lb. weaklings in lab coats with their clipboards and computers and big words have devised yet another way to reduce you to a number, category, color, or some other thing besides a human with um, lots of potential.
Sorry, can I start over? I actually think this test is really nifty, and it has at least taught me that maybe I don't know myself as well as I think.

This was all about three years ago, of course, when I used it for a senior project and here I am finally blogging about it.

This is amazing! I have made managed to write four paragraphs without really explaining anything. That's good though; the less you know about this thing, the better it works (I'm serious). Just please make sure you read the disclaimer first.

And yes, for you skeptics out there, this was developed at Harvard (yes, THE Harvard) which automatically makes it credible. Er, that's right, isn't it? (Just don't ever let them do a hernia repair on you though. Yeesh.)

Click on the thingy and you're ready to roll...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When I Think of Love as Something New

Hey, remember the good old days when we jumped in the water? Summers were warmer then and there were no bugs. We didn't ever feel tired or if we did then it was the good kind of tired that went with sunsets and campfires. When nighttime came, it didn't even get cold.

Why can't we live in the moment anymore? Well, don't worry. It turns out we never could.

"Experiencing" is something that happens just after our brains process the event we experience, almost like we are recalling from our memory before we've even "seen" it before.

And the only difference between a true memory and a false memory is that one actually happened and the other never did, at least not how we remember it. (Guess which one is which.)

And if that wasn't enough, every time you recall an event it changes it a little. The things that you haven't thought about once are in pristine condition but the things that you have replayed over and over have either gotten better or worse every time (but you can bet they don't stay the same).

So just remember that photos don't really capture anything. They're just a tool to help you make your memories happier and happier as the years pass by at dizzying speeds.

Don't mourn those experiences either; F. Scott Fitzgerald says they're even better after you lose them.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Ganzfeld Procedure

What a weird thing this is.

I am so glad that this is not just in the movies, that this is being done periodically in different places across the country and around the modern world.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I think we've probably all seen that illusion with the lines that are supposed to look like different lenghths, and the one with he horseshoe with three pegs, and the necker cube, and M.C. Escher's drawings. Well it turns out there are musical illusions too. Check it out:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Idea #3 (for real this time.)

So what we need to do is get rid of maps. Not all maps, I guess. Maps of interstates and urban areas I guess could be kept on file somewhere, in one of those giant library books that you can't take home. But let's destroy all the rest. and for some areas that are still wild, like the Brooks Range, lets get rid of maps entirely. Then everyone can be Bob Marshall, and not just people who were fortunate enough to be born in a time when there were still parts of the world that we had no idea existed.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Idea #3

They're just coming to me now! All of these ideas! Thank goodness I have the blog as an outlet or else I might end up murdering someone or composing a symphony or something.

Anyway, I got this one when I was reading about Bob Marshall, who was a forester from New York. He once looked at a map of the Brooks Range of Alaska and noticed that most of it wasn't mapped. He decided to go there for that reason.

His own account of the experience talks about how appealing uncharted territories are, and how much he loved treading over unmapped territory. And so what did he do?

That jerk mapped every single place he went in the Brooks Range! Agh! I mean, Come on, Bob. Did you even read your own words? What a hypocrite. I'm too angry to talk about Idea #3 now. I'll talk about it some other time.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Idea #2

Well I am very pleased with Idea #1 and thought it was time for another Idea.

So this one is a bit more abstract. I had a professor who I have talked quite a bit about on this blog. He has been very influential in how I view the world and relate to people. (You can thank him for my post about dreams a couple of months ago.) Anyway he once pointed out that your two eyes each send slightly different images to your brain. In other words, they disagree, and it is through the disagreement that you get a more accurate picture of the world. He likened that to scientific theories, which become stronger the more they are synthesized together with conflicting theories, and hinted that something similar takes place in other fields of knowledge and epistemology.

Wait! Stay with me here! Here's a picture:

Anyway, if having a couple of eyes spaced by three inches improves our mental representation of the world so much, imagine if they were spaced by three feet. Or three miles. Or 3,000 miles. We could have eyes all over the world, all feeding directly into our brains. Ears too! And maybe even a finger or a taste bud here or there. Imagine it! History would not be written just by the victors. The president couldn't lie nearly as easily. Someone would say "remember when..." and then some part of us would probably have been there to experience that event.

Stop. Wait. Idea #2 is getting cancerous due to premature application to too many phases of life, and we all know what happens when we do that. We get CFCs or worse: T-rexes tearing through our beautiful Jurassic Park.

So here is the new, refined Idea #2 (or what we'll start with, anyway): You each get one extra eye. You can place it anywhere in the world and, for simplicity's sake, assume that it is about as durable as a nalgene bottle. I mean, you can drop it and stuff, but don't back your car over it. The eyeball CANNOT locomote; it just stares, and gives you wireless information directly into your lateral geniculate nucleus (the thingy that interprets visual information) without having to watch it like a surveilance camera.

Because there you are at boarding school, learning all of this stuff that makes sense in boarding school, and then you go home and it all goes out the window. If you learned it while part of you was still at home, it would slip into your life seamlessly while you dust off Mr. Bear and call all of your old friends.

But maybe if you leave part of yourself at home, you would have never really learned that thing in boarding school after all. We'll have to do some pilot testing. Any volunteers?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Idea #1

They should invent this thing that is like a virtual world, where it models, like, everything. Then you can run a simulation with just one person or a group of people to see what would have happened if you had done such and such different. You could do everything from "well what if I had tried to kiss her after all" to "what if we had just let Al Gore be president instead".

Actually, now that I think about it, that would just lead to more frustration and slapping of foreheads. We would live in regret constantly, and probably just end up ruining the rest of our lives.

Ok, so new rule: You can only use it before you make a decision, not after. It's almost like a magic 8 ball, except it really works. And it doesn't just tell you what to do; it shows the outcome of different decisions and then lets you decide. "Hey new invention thingy: what happens if I vote for boring Al Gore over crazy George W. Bush?" And who knows, maybe we would learn that Al Gore would have started two really pointless wars that resulted in thousands of deaths.

That would probably make life really boring, eh? Or maybe it would make life perfect. If only I could ask the new invention thingy what life would be like if I had it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hey there.

Remember Storisbord? I haven't forgotten about it. In fact, there's a new story up now! Read it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Wow, there are so many thoughts one has when turning 26. I don't know how to express them all. Thank goodness you understand, Garfield Randomizer.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Last December I sat in a white van as the sun set early over Vernal, Utah. Behind me slept about ten adolescent males, peaceful and harmless. I thought about the day ending so early, and it becoming too cold and dark for anyone in Vernal to want to leave their houses, and how many people were eating their dinner, many of them alone, realizing they had accomplished so little in such a short day. We drove past the dinosaur wearing a Santa hat next to the town's giant Christmas tree and passed on through the town. It was already cold out but would get much colder, trapping people in their homes, not because it would be impossible to leave, but because it would be so unpleasant.

The lucky ones would be eating with their families that they loved and loved them, or with their friends or new lovers. The unlucky ones would be eating alone and watching television, or just eating alone, or eating with friends they didn't like or a family that didn't ever like talking to each other.

That night I would be hurriedly eating some instant noodles and then sleeping outside with these boys, too cold to worry about feeling loved or lonely. I was not a part of the world then, but seeing it from the outside made it even more interesting and more depressing.

I thought about how hard life is, especially in the winter, and especially if you live in someplace like Vernal and are by yourself. I thought about how it sometimes helps to distract yourself with things like hobbies or movies or books or blogs. I decided that at this time of year, just to survive is success and that staying inside all day long is okay, and that that is what animals do anyway, and that it's okay to stave off tears of aloneness with a badly made movie from Blockbuster. Microwave dinners are okay too, and so is putting on music and the TV at the same time as reading a book just to distract from the repressive silence and fruitless drudgery of introspection.

That's not enough though. There is also the hope of summer. It will get warmer, you know that. And if you're lucky, you might even die in a warm place with the sun shining, but not in your eyes, and be surrounded by people you love.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

No One Cares What I Had for Lunch

Ok, I know that with the publishing of this entry I join the throngs of mundane internet blogs that complain about their iPods. But I am going somewhere with this, so stay with me. This is important stuff.

My relationship with this trendy device has been rocky after what I thought was a great start (I bought mine, one of the new shuffles, for like $20 from a friend who was moving and trying to reduce clutter. The thing is the size of a book of matches.) First it had her music on it, which was fun for a little while (like an hour). But then it wouldn't take my music. Then when it did, it wouldn't play. Then after getting it fixed it I forgot to bring the adapter with me to Alaska.

I got an adapter today. Then I couldn't find the iPod for a while. Now that I've found it, it won't take my music again.


The Senoi People of Malaysia are reported by some researchers to advocate lucid dreaming. But more specifically, they say you should do certain things in certain situations. For example, if you are being chased by a monster, you should confront the monster and either kill the thing, make friends with it, or ask it for a gift (any of these are equally acceptable).

Likewise, if there is something in a dream that you want to do, you should make sure that it happens rather than letting yourself wake up before you get to.

If you find some treasure in the dream, you are supposed to hold onto it until the end and, according to one practitioner of dreamwork research, you should bribe the gatekeeper that guards the barrier between the sleeping world and waking world so that he will let you bring the treasure across that threshold into your everyday life.

And if your dream has a sexual theme, well, you are supposed to see that through too.

Some of my attempts at lucid dreaming have resulted in terrifying hallucinations, as a side note.

So back to the iPod. The whole iPod experience, to me, feels like having treasure in a dream snatched away from me over and over. Very frustrating. For this reason, I think that it is vastly important to my future and mental health that I find the iPod and integrate it into my life in a satisfying, dependable way.


Thursday, May 15, 2008


Come into my arms,” She added in a rush of tenderness. “I can sleep so, so well with you in my arms.”

Coming into Gloria's arms had quite a definite meaning. It required that he should slide one arm under her shoulder, lock both arms around her, and arrange as nearly as possible as a sort of three-sided crib for her luxurious ease. Anthony, who tossed, whose arms went tinglingly to sleep after half an hour of that position, would wait until she was asleep and roll her gently over to her side of the bed – then, left to his own devices, he would curl himself into his usual knots.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

Monday, May 12, 2008

On Superiority to the Middle Class

“I belong here.” She murmured. “I'm like these people . . .

“. . . I'm like they are – like Japanese laterns and crepe paper, and the music from that orchestra.”

For a moment this seemed like a sardonic and unneccessary paradox hurled at him across the table.

“You're a young idiot!” He insisted wildly.

She shook her blond head.

“No, I'm not. I am like them...You ought to see...You don't know me.” She hesitated and her eyes came back to him, rested abruptly on his, as though surprised at the last to see him there. “I've got a streak of what you'd call cheapness. I don't know where I get it but it's – oh, things like this and bright colors and vulgarity. I seem to belong here. These people could appreciate me and take me for granted, and these men would fall in love with me and admire me, whereas the clever men I meet would just analyze me and tell me I'm this because of this or that because of that.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

Friday, May 09, 2008

On the Middle Class

“There on Sunday gather the credulous, sentimental, underpaid, people with hyphenated occupations: book-keepers, ticket-sellers, office-managers, salesmen, and, most of all, clerks – clerks of the express, clerks of the mail, of the grocery, of the brokerage, of the bank. With them are their giggling, over-getsured, pathetically pretentious women, who grow fat with them, bear too many babies, and float helpless and uncontent in a colorless sea of drudgery and broken hopes.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mission to Moab

So we all had a good laugh at those photos, right? The book I was reading was called The Sands of Mars, and the reason you have never heard of it is because it's not very good. Go Read The City and the Stars instead.
But when you're on vacation it's nice to read a book about the place you're visiting. My own examples:

The Pearl (Steinbeck) while in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Kidnapped (Stevenson) while in North Queensferry, Scotland
The DaVinci Code (Brown) while in Paris
Angels and Demons (Brown) while in Rome
Skinwalkers (Hillerman) while in Bluff, Utah

Anyway, there's not a lot of books that take place in Moab and it's hard enough to get through Desert Solitaire when it's assigned for school, so I thought I would give Abbey a rest and read something interesting. The Sands of Mars seemed appropriate, and if you've been to Moab you know why. What I need from you, dear reader, is your favorite books that take place on Mars so that I can read those next time I go to Moab, whenever that is. I mean, this one didn't even have any hot Martian babes!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sam McGee is Dead.

Swirly Patterns is about to go on summer vacation. It might come back to visit once in a while, but for the most part, Sam McGee is Dead will be filling in.

I hope you all enjoy it! I know I will.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Oh, also

I got a static shock from a grilled cheese sandwich today. What's up with that?

A Short Break From The Things That Matter

I am watching Lost right now. It is blowing my mind.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

On Visiting the Spirit World

"Yeah. And every person thinks their Angel is just their shadow, and every Angel in the Garden World thinks their person is just their shadow."

"Hold on a minute! Garden World?" What's this about a Garden World?"

"Sure, the Garden World--where the Garden Angels live. We live in our world and they live in theirs. But if we learn the right things and they learn the right things, then finally we get to be each other's friend and go back and forth to both worlds wide awake forever, which is more fun than you can shake a stick at."

-David James Duncan, The River Why

Monday, March 31, 2008

On the Spirit World

I began to suspect he didn't know what he was talking about. I said, “How can he be my twin? I thought he was my light knight, and the thing that nights the light.”

Without the least hesitation he explained, “ He looks like your shadow, and he looks like the thing that nights the light. But really he's your twin.”

“I get the picture,” I said sardonically. “I had this twin brother, born when I was born, but nobody in the hospital saw him come out so he just snuck off and . . .”

“He wasn't born when you were born!” cut in Bill Bob. “He died when you were born. And he's born when you die.”

-David James Duncan, The River Why

Friday, March 28, 2008

On Passion

Suddenly it hit me what a pathetic lot we fishermen were. We sneaked, pursued, teased, deceived, tormented, and often murdered the objects of our obscure lust; we compounded our crimes by gloating over them; and we committed them so mindlessly and so often that as soon as we'd done gloating we commenced grumbling and griping and cursing the luck till the moment we managed to commit them again. What were our “contemplations” but odes to fish-lust, scientific explications, more and unnatural technologies and more convoluted techniques to help us sneak, pursue, tease, deceive, torment or kill more effectively?

-David James Duncan, The River Why

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On Laws of Nature

"That was the thing about Nature: make one lousy rule to describe it and it'll contradict you even if it has to transmogrify, metamorphosize, and bust it's ass to do it."

-David James Duncan, The River Why

Sunday, March 23, 2008


First sunburn of the season just arrived. On my nose of course. It tends to catch a lot of sun due to its size.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Publishing from Beyond the Internets

Hey I just found this cool feature on Blogger: Write an entry, and you can tell Blogger when to publish it automatically even if you're not there. Here's how to do it.

1. Instead of going to when you want to publish an entry, go to Sign in.

2. Create a new post just like you always do, but when you're finished writing and tagging it, click on the "post options" link that is just above the "publish post" link.

3. Change the date and time from the current date and time to when you want to publish it. Now click on the "publish post" link.

4. Your post is now scheduled, which means that it won't appear until the date and time that you specified. To check and make sure that it worked, you can go to the "edit posts" link on the top of the page and it will say "scheduled" on the line for that post.

What does this mean? It means that even though I'm going to Aspiro this week for another shift or two, that you should still keep checking Swirly Patterns and, especially, Storisbord.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mein Katpfs


What do you mean you have never been to

The Bones of Everett Ruess

Walk into a gas station or roadside cafe in any small Southern Utah town and look for someone who is old enough to have great grandchildren. He or she will probably have an opinion about Everett Ruess and, if you're lucky, might have even met the guy.
These opinions will probably range from "he was such a nice boy" to "he was bum who lived off of other people's labor and gave nothing back but third-rate artwork and poetry." If Everett were alive today, he would be 94 this year, but he disappeared when he was only 20 or 21 years old.
I remember last November when we looked for the only pathway to the bottom of Davis Gulch, where they found Everett's belongings and his two burros tied up, but not Everett. We were running out of water and might have shared his same end if not for three small pools of stagnant desert bilgewater hidden right on the edge of the gulch's cliffs. It tasted awful, but I think we're all still alive. The iodine helped, and I think I even had some Tang to add to it.
We found the path, and dropped into the gulch where he was last known to have been. Inscribed in the wall of a cave down there is "Nemo 1934", whatever that means. Davis Gulch also contains petroglyphs and two natural arches, if you ever find yourself wandering through it. It is also partly occupied by one of Lake Powell's many greasy appendages, so don't walk too far down or you'll be underwater.
Anyway, a bunch of his art and manuscripts were just found in someone's shed somewhere in California, and they are making the journey to SLC along with a lot of his stuff that we already had. They will be on display at Ken Sanders Rare Books from March 15th to March 30th. See you there.

"I have not tired of the wilderness; rather I enjoy its beauty and the vagrant life I lead, more keenly all the time. I prefer the saddle to the streetcar and star-sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail, leading into the unknown to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bred by cities."

From the last letter written by Everett Ruess (11/11/1934)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Feast of Stories

The thing about Storisbord is that it's new.

It's a blog that has nothing but my short stories. Check it out, and read the first installment of Lao Tsu.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Visionary: Idealistic

a. Prescient: Clever
b. Officious: Obliging
c. Dialectical: Logical
d. Zealous: Fanatical
e. Disciplined: Religious

Advice given by The Princeton Review's Cracking the GRE:

"Make a sentence. VISIONARY means overly IDEALISTIC. Does ZEALOUS mean overly FANATICAL? Yes."

Um, no actually. You've got it backwards. FANATICAL means overly ZEALOUS, and I've got the Oxford English Dictionary on my side here. (Poor OED. We come before it with the every little dispute we can think of like it's King Solomon. Thank goodness Wikipedia has taken up some of the slack.)

Was there a time when they wouldn't just toss a red pen to any bum from off the street just because he knows how to separate two words with a colon?

P.S. Tomorrow is the big day. What am I doing blogging about it?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Giving me GREif

Which of the following best describes the main purpose of the passage?

A. describe characteristics of Serialism and discuss reasons for various public reactions to the genre
B. contrast Serialism to the Romantic and Impressionist musical genres
C. describe the origins and applications of the Serial genre
D. explore the relationship between the musical genre of Serialism and the art genre of expressionism
E. counter the public misunderstanding of Serialism

Well I answered C, which was wrong. Here is the paradoxical feedback that I got from The Princeton Review's Cracking the GRE, complete with typo:

No. This answer choice is too specific no to mention too broad. It does not mention common reactions to the various applications of serialist music, though such reactions are discussed throughout the passage. The correct answer is A.

There you have it folks. Somehow that answer is too specific while simultaneously being too broad (which is of course the opposite of specific).

Not only that, it seems that it discusses a topic without even mentioning that topic. I am not sure how this can be accomplished, but it is likely that there is magic involved.

At least one thing is clear though: "The correct answer is A".

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Survey Says...

Do the following things make you like summer more or less?

1. Sunburn
2. Mosquito Bites
3. Ice Cream Headaches
4. High Gas Prices
5. Being too hot/sweaty/stinky
6. Sluggishness

I know what my answers will be, but I don't want them to taint yours.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Dear Universe

Dear Universe

Thanks for finally getting back to me. The library job closing without hire was a clear answer that I am not supposed to be an adult just yet, if ever. Now I can get started on another Peter Pan summer without feeling selfish or wondering what could have been.



Monday, March 03, 2008

Good book and a bad movie

I haven't seen the movie of The Fountainhead yet, but I did just finish the book. I liked it. If nothing else, it was a clever and engaging story with some interesting characters.
It is also a book with an agenda, one of hardcore intractable capitalism. I remember the line where I knew the author had lost me. It was something to do with how there was more suffering contained in one talented man whose artistic talent was held back by a populist society than there was in a warehouse full of starving people. Well what is one of those people was your child, Ayn Rand? Huh? What then?!
Anyway I did like the book and I liked her whole philosophy as it applies to the individual. Read it sometime when you have a spare two months (the thing is 700 pages long, and they're not Harry Potter pages either).
The bad movie I was referring to in the title of this post is Ghost Rider with Nicholas Cage. Avoid this movie.

I was a Skier once.

I used to go skiing once in a while. Still do, in fact. It was fun, especially when my parents would turn me loose and say to just meet up with them later at the car or lodge. Later I would go with my friends, and we would dare each other to do increasingly stupid things on jumps, slopes, cliffs, etc. until we were too tired/injured to even watch each other wreck anymore. (These are mostly good memories.)
I still go now and then, but sometimes I feel sort of like an anachronism sitting on a chairlift wearing a wool hat, sunglasses, with "Elan" brand skis bound to my feet. It seems my skis might as well be made of wood, and my poles have baskets made of a steel hoop with leather straps, and I might as well be dressed in sheepskin rubbed with beeswax. And please don't put me on a lift with some kid from Draper. Can you imagine the kind of conversation we'd have?

TR: How's it going?
Kid: Oh, epic man. Epic.
TR: What?
Kid: Epic. I totally just nailed an Eisenhower 540 Backside with a Double Reverse Cowbell.
TR: Oh. Cool.
Kid: Yeah.
TR: Nice day for it.
Kid: I know, right? It's sick.
TR: Sick?
Kid: Yeah. Ya know. Ill.
TR: The day is ill?
Kid: Yeah man. I mean it's been puking all day.
TR: Gross.
Kid: No, man. Sick.
TR: Oh.
Kid: But my friend just had a sale and got this ridiculous raspberry on his leg.
TR: Oh. That's...that's, uh.......
Kid: Yeah, no kidding. He had to get like five stitches.
TR: Sick.
Kid: No man, not sick. It was nasty.
TR: Oh.
(Notices my skis)
Kid: Oh sick man. Those are classics!
TR: Oh thanks. Yeah I've been thinking of getting new ones.
Kid: No way, man. You should rock those in the park. Do they shred?
TR: Shred?
Kid: Yeah. Shred the gnar?
TR: Oh yeah, the gnar. Well, uh.....yeah. Yes they do.
Kid: Sick man.

We could go on, but you get the idea. I do like skiing though.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I saw a butterfly today, which is unusual. It's kind of cruel, actually. Spring is cruel enough as it is, but to start this nonsense in February is criminal. My understanding is that there is a rodent somewhere to be blamed for this.

Today I had my phone interview with Coldfoot. Maybe this is only an illusion created by an experienced recruiter (her name is Stephanie, if you're curious), but I feel the place sucking me in. For one thing, It's the only one of the four places that I mentioned yesterday which has granted me an interview. I sometimes claim to be a determinist, and I feel like even more of one while job hunting, you know? Coldfoot is not my first choice of jobs. But I was the one who applied. Not only that, but the application asked me for my three top job choices. I selected "Trail Guide" in the first box and left the other two blank. They interviewed me anyway.

According to Stephanie, Coldfoot was started by a group of 900 prospectors who had been lured up an arctic river by a speculative trading post owner and his unsubstantiated claims that the region contained gold. The steamboat captain transporting them, afraid of the river freezing solid and trapping the boat, dumped his passengers on the banks impossibly short of their destination. What happens when you leave 900 people in a valley so desolate that even the Eskimos had left it abandoned for hundreds of years? They start a city.

They named it Coldfoot because 800 of the prospectors left within the next few months, and not for the reason you and I both thought it would have that name.

Even though they had been lied to, they searched for gold anyway and found it. Many of them became rich.

Now, there's two directions to go from here.

1. Stick it out. It's hard, sure, but you'll find what you're looking for and it will have been worth it. Gold, riches, peace, etc.

2. What Stephanie didn't tell me was what happened to the other 800 people who went back to wherever they had come from. I'm sure they were pretty happy too, more or less. They got cold feet, gave up, went home, and were probably about as glad with their decision as those who stayed.

I heard someone once say that a happy story is just a story which we haven't heard the ending to yet.

And herein lies the trouble with Spring. All of our goals that we accomplished disappeared in November, and we have been coasting on them ever since. But, if like me, you carried your unaccomplished goals through the winter, here they are lying on your front lawn, the melting snow exposing their disuse and decay, food spoiling in its unbroken sealed-for-freshness cellophane.

You want to start on the rest of your life, but first you have to shovel the rotting fetal carcasses into the dumpster, with all the neighbors watching.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Choose your own adventure

Remember those things? One thing about them, they're the only books that I have ever read that were written in second person. Want to play?

It is March. You quit your job three months ago. You spend three months not working. You start to look for new jobs. You are torn between becoming an adult and having a summer of adventure. You have four choices of jobs.

If you choose to be a river guide in Moab, turn to page 2.

If you choose to work as a multisport tour guide in Southern Utah and Arizona, turn to page 17.

If you choose to work as hiking and float trip guide in the Arctic Circle, turn to page 25.

If you choose to take the full time job of a responsible adult, turn to page 40.

I'm not interested in which one you think I should do. I am interested in which one you would do. Oh, by the way, none of these have been offered to me yet. But they are all possibilities still.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I call this one "Future".

"And if you need a reason...

...I'll give one to you."

(it's from a Zombies song)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Be. Expressive. B.E. Expressive.

There are some words and phrases which are popular right now from various TV shows. I know they can be useful for expressing yourself, but they're getting overused and you sound a little bit like an airhead when you use them. Fortunately, there are great alternatives to all of them. And with your help, these will become popular in a few months and we will be remembered as the avant-garde hipsters that said them before anyone else! (When that happens, we can move on to the next big thing).

1. "Not so much"

Sure, this one was fun for a while, but now... less so. Did you see what I did there? "Less so" can replace "not so much".

2. "Sketchy"

I never used to hear this word until snowboarders started using it. Now it seems like everything is sketchy. So in light of America's recent pilfering of British-isms (remember "cheers?"), I recommend "dodgy" as the new "sketchy". Try it once and you'll be hooked.

3. "Meh."

This one was my favorite once. But then we started seeing it on Subway commercials and worse. You know something has run its course when it appears on a Subway commercial. Let's keep most of the word, but make it unique. "Feh" is my favorite, but often an "Mm" will do, especially with a small shrug.

4. "I know, right?"

To be honest, I still say this. It was especially hilarious in Juno when she would just say "right?" to show agreement. However, I remembered the other day that they used it on Mean Girls, and wasn't that like four years ago? It's time for it to go. One thing we can do is borrow a popular Northern US expression. "Init". "Init?" is the same as saying "Isn't it?" or in other words, it's a contraction of a contraction. I expect this expression will meet the most resistance on its road to popularity, but if you have a hard time accepting it, I recommend watching the movie Smoke Signals. That one came out long enough ago to be retro.

I'm sure there are other ones that need to phrased out of use. Suggestions?


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Criticism is the highest form of praise

Facebook has enough political groups to choke a llama (or a donkey, or elephant). One that was inevitable from the start is: "I'm a Republican, but if McCain gets the nomination, I'm voting Obama". Here's a quote from their message board (which incidentally reflects the opposite opinion of this group):

I think Obama is the worst. Why you might ask? Simple, he actualy beleaves the crap he spewes. Hilary she just does what ever the polls say.

Let's leave the four spelling errors aside for a moment and just focus on the fact that Obama is being criticized, not for any of his convictions, but for believing them and sticking to them. I think Obama should recruit him for his campaign.

My kind of politics

Today Swirly Patterns continues its increasingly popular series on Facebook politics.

On the message board for the group "Mike Huckabee is a closet fatty" (Huckabee has lost about 110 punds since 2003 through diet and exercise), Rachel of Northwestern University writes:

It's ok to be fat, but not fat AND intolerant. Huckabee is a ho.

Why can't we switch from arguing whose policies are better (come on. like you really understand economics.) and just switch to voting for whoever is better at making fun of the other guys. I, for one, would watch more debates if this were the case.


Well it's not just the Obama haters that frighten me. Some of my own political allies are just as bad. For example, on the "1,000,000 Strong Against Mike Huckabee" message board on Facebook, Alisa of Portland Oregon writes:

He hates true followers of Christ, and is only running because he is in league with Satan. As such, he listens to his master (Satan) because he and his master do not want an honorable priesthood holder leading this great nation.
In addition, Tennessee and Arkansas were just hit by a tornado after Satan's minion won there. Who says the Lord doesn't speak to his children?

I wouldn't presume to know every way in which the Lord speaks to His children, but I think we can assume that he doesn't kill people with tornadoes every time they don't vote how he wants them too. I can prove it!

-August 11, 1999: A tornado hits Salt Lake City FOR NO GOOD REASON
-November 7, 2000: George W. Bush is elected president, especially in Utah
-January 20, 2001: George W. Bush is inaugurated
-Next 8 years: George W. Bush starts an unnecessary war which results in more American deaths than 9/11 and more Iraqi deaths than occurred under Saddam Hussein. Also, the economy tanks. Also, he's kind of dumb. Admit it. No tornadoes hit Salt Lake.

One thing about God: he doesn't typically punish anyone before they do something wrong. So if he were still as into vengeance as he was back in the Moses era, we would have been hit by the Tornado after we all voted for Bush. (When I say we, I don't mean myself, obviously, because I voted for Gore.)

Is that not enough proof for you? Don't worry, I have more. Have you seen the movie Crossroads with Ralph Macchio? (Not the one with Brittany Spears.) One thing I learned from that movie is that if you are in league with Satan, he makes you shred on the guitar! But does this guy look like he's shredding?

No. And furthermore, that's a bass he's playing, and everyone knows that playing the bass is what you do if you can't hack it on guitar. It's the new "second fiddle". If Huckabee were in league with Satan, he'd be playing lead and his band wouldn't suck nearly this bad.

This guy is not quite good enough to be the Servant of the Devil either, although we're getting warmer:

That said, I still kind of like "Satan's Minion" as a nickname for Huckabee.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Do unto others

Unless you live outside of Utah, or in one of Utah's many unmapped caves, You know that Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the LDS church, just died. I went to his viewing today on the top floor of the conference center where a simple casket sat with a few funeral sprays and about four large men in suits (some with a bulge in the jacket) standing solemnly.

Afterwards three males of about 20 years of age walked down Main Street on the Eastern edge of the conference center plaza, where they shouted obscenities in the direction of the mourners.

As soon as they had crossed North Temple to Temple Square, one of them handed some money to a beggar.

I would never have shouted those things at anyone. Not at Catholics going to see a pope's body, not at an American Atheists meeting, and not even at people filing into an Amway convention.

But I can't remember the last time I gave money to a beggar either.


Passionate about:
1. Family
2. Figuring things out
3. Outdoors
4. Music
5. Running
6. Learning
7. Reading and writing
8. Movies

Want to:
1. Raise bees
2. Raise llamas
3. Find a meteorite
4. Have wife, kids
5. Write a book
6. Discover something that gets named after me
7. Jump out of a plane
8. Go to space

Have recently read
1. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
2. Everything's Eventual Stephen King
3. The Way of the Peaceful Warrior Dan Millman
4. The Monkey Wrench Gang Edward Abbey
5. Desert Solitaire Edward Abbey
6. The Little Prince Antoine de Saint Exupery
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows J.K. Rowling
8. Messiah Gore Vidal

1. That seems like a bad idea
2. That doesn't seem very likely
3. That would be embarrassing
4. Just what the hell do you think you're doing?
5. I guess
6. Yeah. That's probably true.
7. I know, right?
8. The End

Attracted to friends by:
1. humor
2. integrity
3. self-effacingness
4. open-mindedness
5. knowing a lot about something specific
6. creativity
7. reflectiveness
8. kindness

Could listen to over and over:
1. A Love Supreme John Coltrane
2. The Mysterious Production of Eggs Andrew Bird
3. In the Faxed Atmosphere The Child Who Was A Keyhole
4. Anything by Debussy
5. The Best of John Coltrane
6. A Man and his Music Sam Cooke
7. Beatles
8. The Very Best of Toots and the Maytals

Learned this year:
1. You can get tired of anything if you're not careful
2. Exploration without a lifeline can lead to regret
3. Practical jokes are good for everyone
4. Things are still cooler if you make them with your hands
5. People keep maturing their whole lives
6. Integrity is always better and ultimately easier
7. Saving things for tomorrow is only a good policy for money, water, and criticism
8. Worthwhile things are difficult and time consuming, and hopefully they will take up my whole life

1. I am actually very selfish
2. I like to eat in the shower sometimes
3. I couldn't whistle until I was 17
4. I didn't kiss a girl until I was 22
5. I still have never bought a car
6. I wish there were still dinosaurs
7. Like Bleaker, I try really hard to be cool.
8. I don't want to get married, but I want to want to get married.

1. Jeremy
2. Grace
3. Tracy
4. Kristian
5. Alison
6. Blake
7. Kevin
8. Kylie

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The great sugar challenge

That was what my 8th grade home ec teacher called it. But I didn't do it then because she wanted us to do it over Halloween! What a square.
And I never had plans to do it, ever. Until two Mondays ago when I went to the dollar theater. I had smuggled in some giant boxes of Mike and Ikes because, sharing, right? (By the way, don't bother seeing "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead").
Nobody really wanted any. In less than 24 hours I had eaten both boxes (about a pound of candy) almost without any help. I knew I had a problem.
It has now been two weeks since I have eaten sugar. Yeah, I let myself eat fruit and drink juice and eat things like bread that have added sugar, but I have given up soda, desserts of all kind, sweetened cereal, candy, juice cocktails, cookies, jam, honey, syrup, and lots of other things that used to make life great. For one month. Here is what I have missed out on so far: (This list only includes things I'd have gotten for free that people have offered me, not things that I could just go buy anytime).

chocolate milk
cocoa puffs
chex sweet mix
hot tamales
scones w/ honey
waffles w/ syrup
ice cream
blueberry cream cheese roll (this one hurt)
pumpkin cookies
hot cocoa from Xocolate (voted best in SLC)
cheesecake bites
more cookies
strawberry shortcake with sweet whipped cream
more brownies
cinnamon bears
hershey's caramel kisses
lemon bars
reese's peanut butter cups
a bunch of other stuff

In addition, I have done something that offends my personal morals: I drank diet root beer when there was regular available. Terrible.
A friend told me she did the same thing once and it made her more moderate in her sugar consumption. But this experience has got me wondering: Is that an entirely good thing?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Maybe its another way to measure progress

There are books that are beyond me. I mean, that's not a particularly revealing confession, but it can be discouraging when those books are ones that generations of other people won't shut up about. For example, I have never made it through anything by Dickens, which makes me wonder if the common man of his day was smarter and had a longer attention span than I do (which is not such a great feat, after all).
One book I have failed to read is One Hundred Years of Solitude. It is the most directionless novel that I know of, so my attention span proved to be an obstacle to great for the book's other virtues to overcome.
Until last month, when my second attempt ended in success. What a book. Trying to describe it would be like trying to describe what it is like to be alive: you could think up any adjective and it would apply. That is my review of One Hundred Years of Solitude: Read it. Now.
Right now I am reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. This is mostly because a friend gave it to me for Christmas but also because maybe I have matured enough to read a book by an author I gave up on while I was in High School. It was a mistake for me to read Atlas Shrugged back then. I never even made it to the part where Taggart starts using Henry Rearden's new metal for his railroad tracks. (I assume this happens, because it was about to happen when I quit reading.)
This time around Ayn is much more interesting. Even though Howard Roark is a little too god-like, I can't wait to see what sort of stunt he pulls next.