November 11, 2009

The New Job

   I started a new job about 2 weeks ago. So far so good. That is to say I like the job and the people I work with.
   I realize this is kind of a change from the normal posting for me. I normally wouldn't post anything that seems like a journal entry. However, I consider this news for people who may like news.
   One of the main things that I have noticed in the last 2 weeks is that now that I have a job I feel like writing. For the last year it has been my goal to write stories. However, I found out that one of my shortcomings in the area of writing is that I have a hard time separating my real world issues from it. Basically what I mean is that once I was able to see we were heading down a path of financial suffering I began to stress about money far too much. It kind of consumed my thoughts and I was almost unable to write anything at all. I did continue to write but the progress was slow.
   Right now I have 2 stories that have been started and I would now like to finish one of them and get it ready for submission to a science fiction magazine. Finding the time is a little bit difficult though. I have limited time at home and it is often very busy so when it isn't busy I want to play or just rest. So, finishing anything is going to be a challenge.
   I am encouraged by the fact that my mind, which is now clear of the previous financial stresses, is gearing up to write stories. I will just have to find a way to balance my time so that I may.

October 12, 2009

The Golden Rule of Dating or What I Wish I Knew What I Was 15

   From time to time I like to look back at the various choices I made when I was young. Today is one of those days. What brought this on was a Taylor Swift song about being 15. I'm not entirely sure what the song is about actually. But as I was listening to it and doing the dishes I thought about this post.
   When I was a teenager my parents moved from Vallejo, California to Orem, Utah. It was for me a very difficult transition. It was further complicated by the fact that at the time it occurred I was in the middle of my first real social experience with the opposite sex. What I mean to say is right before I moved I was presented with what I perceived as the first possible relationship ever. And really that is what I want to talk about, my perceptions.
   Really the story doesn't start when I moved to Utah. It started years earlier when I had a school boy crush on a girl named Christine (I use the real name because I am fairly sure she will never read this). I went to school with Christine for about 3 years. She was the smartest person in our class. I actually decided to become a straight A student because I saw that she was. As a little boy I thought she would be impressed.
   The first year we barely got to know each other. I had a crush on her but she could never have known it. The second year we were seated close to each other. Close enough to interact but not close enough for my personal liking. The third and final year was sixth grade. On the first day I was shocked to see that she was seated on the other side of the room. About a month into that year the teacher moved her next to me where she stayed the rest of the year. Eventually the two of us were moved close to the teacher's desk with a couple of other students that I now think the teacher wanted us to help. The rest of that year I remember with fondness. I could talk to her all the time. And I did. At one point the other guy at our table, Ryan, basically let me know he knew about my crush and tried to tell me to go for it, whatever that means to kids in elementary school. But I was scared.
   You see I was afraid of rejection. The truth is that now as an adult I can see that there was very little to be afraid of. The girl I had a crush on obviously had one on me. I was blinded by my fear.
   Sometime about a year after leaving grade school she moved to upstate New York. That was the last I have ever heard about her. I think I once found her on Facebook but it could have been someone else. I never did tell her how I felt about her and I still feel like it was stupid.
   Fast forward back to my previous story. I was 15 about to be 16 and I had another crush. I was afraid of telling the girl I liked her but this time I had two things to help me along. First, there was no real consequences because our family was already packing for Orem. Second, I was haunted by what had occurred to me before.
   So, one night before I went to bed I wrote a little note. I can't remember what it said but it must have been like this, "I like you. I know I am moving but I wanted you to know before I left." And as I gave it to her the next day I felt like shooting myself rather than give it to her. However I did give it to her and the results were very positive. That time I felt like an idiot because by the time I found out she liked me too it was too late. We moved.
   I withheld the name of this girl because she might read this. If you do don't be mad, the experience is illustrative.
   Once I got to Utah I vowed to learn from my mistakes and not hold back ever again. What did I have to lose anyway? Nobody in Utah even knew me. I understood very little about how we as kids interacted and even less about myself. Because I made the same mistake again even while I was believing that I had grown out of it.
   I had a neighbor in Orem, let's call her Julie. She treated me better than anyone else in my neighborhood (for some reason there were a lot of people that didn't like me but that is another story). She would say hello to me in school. She was just about the only person that didn't look away when I was around. It was strange. But I thought she was too beautiful. I thought that she was above me. So, rather than talk to her I talked to the girls that I thought were more at my level. And when I asked one of them out she turned out to be really boring and I never asked her out again. But all the time I thought I had grown out of my shyness.
   Years later I ran into Julie in a store. I had a girlfriend with me. It was awkward and kind of enlightening. My girlfriend pointed out to me that Julie was obviously interested in me. It was in that moment that it all clicked in my brain.
   Years and years of heartache and all I needed to know was one simple thing. That thing is that women are people too. They are subject to the same feelings as I was. They had their own desires and fears. Once I realized that my life changed. Or it would have had I realized it when I said I did. I learned the fact right then and there but it was not until years later that I really understood it. In all truth I think my wife really helped me understand it.
   So the Golden Rule? Look at people as though they were you. Try to see what they see. You may see that they have a crush on you.

September 23, 2009


Harmony is the balance of life. All things have balance that when perfectly struck allows for the greatest peace and the greatest prosperity.

I think that it can be agreed that today there is a certain harmony that is missing from our nation. Even now our elected leaders seem to be scrambling to recreate a harmony. But where is it? I don't know. I was taught my whole life to put faith in capitalism. Our leaders don't share this belief. They seem to believe that large companies shouldn't be allowed to fail. They seem to think that success is required once you become so large.

The things that I was taught would claim that large companies like GM, Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac should have the right to fail. In failing they create a vacuum that others can fill and take over. Who is to say that someone else couldn't do the job better.

I think about all the factories that GM owns. I know they have a lot of people employed in them. However I am not concerned too much about the jobs because I think they would ultimately be preserved. I think that if GM were allowed to fail, as they inevitably will if they remain on the path they are currently on, their assets could be sold off to smaller companies hoping to fill the void. Companies like Toyota, which already builds its truck lines in GM plants.

Maybe I am oversimplifying. I really don't know because I am not an economist. However, I have some experience with failure. I have already opened and shut 2 businesses in my adult life. Both were more or less failures. In both cases the failures were neither good nor bad. They were just failures.

My first attempt to run my own business was a simple wedding video company. The entire company consisted of just me. I offered full service video taping, editing and DVD production for my clients. In just about 4 years I did about $6000 of business. I took out ads in newsprint and built a website. I worked out a referral deal with a wedding planner. I even did some work as a collaborative company of some really cool people. However in the end I spent $4000 more than I ever earned. Most of that was spent on equipment. Simply put, I failed, at least financially.

My second attempt was a company I formed with my older brother to build homes. Our business plan was developed so that within 5 years we would have something like a small property development company. Unfortunately we started this business right before the housing crisis of 2007. It failed due to no fault of our own. The market just wasn't going the way we thought it was.

In both businesses I learned a lot of things. Though I may have failed to make a ton of cash like I hoped to I did earn some information. I learned that in the video world technology moves very fast. It really moves faster than the business and the market do. I learned that once you have the knowledge you really don't need to own a lot of equipment. In fact I learned that it is more sensible to rent equipment using money budgeted into the project you are working on. This way you can have low overhead and the latest technology. You can give your clients the best mics and best cameras they are willing to pay for in every way.

In the housing market I learned that the only way to make money in homes is to specialize in an area and become very good at that one thing. I also learned that you should always deal with the people that make money because they are the people that have the most information.

Now, I guess the point is that there are lessons to be learned in failure. If those lessons are not learned then it seems to me that the failure is more likely to occur again. With GM I can't help but think that our leaders are doing nothing more than postponing the ultimate demise of GM as it is today. They have done everything they could do in the last few years to avoid failure. To their credit they have revived 2 discontinued cars, gave a lot of employee discounts to people and hyped up the Volt (which I bet will be delayed by the bankruptcy until after other companies beat it to market with something better).

Despite their best efforts GM is still struggling to survive. The market changed and GM didn't keep up. They failed to recognize the trends and paid the price. They overproduced vehicles and paid the price.

There is just one problem with my last couple of statements. GM didn't pay the price for their mistakes. The American people get to pay it for them thanks to our leaders who decided that it would be a good idea for them to use future taxpayer dollars to bail out this company as well as others. No lessons will be learned. All we can hope for is that GM and others will come out swinging and become profitable again to the point where it will pay us back in the long run. That's a pretty big gamble if you ask me.

August 25, 2009


I wrote in my journal today. It was kind of neglected. I realized that this blog is also kind of neglected. Still, I haven't written in my journal for about 3 years.
Have you noticed how a lot of blogs these days are becoming journals? I have a few friends who use their blogs as personal journals. I guess I can kind of understand but not fully.
I recently read through my journal. I actually have 2 but the one I read is the one I have been keeping as an adult the other was a class assignment in 3rd grade that I occasionally took time to write in until I was about 16. My adult journal starts about January of 2000 leaving about a 4 year gap in my personal recorded life history, who cares?
I wrote my journal expecting one day that nobody would ever care to read it. I did that because I was taught in my youth that journals should be kept for our posterity. Once I seriously considered this I realized it was retarded to think that anything personal to me would ever be as valuable to someone else as it is to me. So I wrote to myself and was able to open myself up to write pretty much as freely as I could. Honestly I still think that reading my journal for anyone else would be tedious and boring because of all the stuff that got left out.
Anyway, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that when I was single I wasted an awfully lot of time thinking about a couple of girls that I thought I would always be in love with. If either of them read this I am sure you know who you are and I hope this doesn't embarrass you. On second thought, if it does that would be weird. This should embarrass me and yet it doesn't. I guess it's because I grew up. In fact I would say the act of reading the journal helped me grow up just a little bit more.
One of the recurring themes from my journals is that I wanted to be a writer. I seriously thought at the time that I was a great writer. I know now that I wasn't very good at all. To be honest I am not sure that I am a good writer now. If you read the first entry in this blog you will see that I created this as a way to practice writing. The thing I left out is that I am writing this as though there were people who actually read this blog, though I know there are only a few. I write as though I have an audience.
In contrast to this there are many blogs out there that are publicly available that are written by someone as though they are writing to themselves. That seems odd to me. Doesn't it make more sense to keep really personal things on a pad of paper in your night stand next to your bed? I think it does.
I guess where I see the largest problem is in the potential pain and upset it may cause. For example: let's say you write something very personal on your blog, one of your friends reads it, then in conversation they comment on it in a casual manner or a dismissive manner later. It could hurt your feelings. The thing is that you placed that personal information out there for someone to read without thinking about whether or not it should be publicly available or if it should be just for you.
Okay, so maybe that scenario isn't too likely. Really it is just a point, though small, that I want to make. After all, this is my blog and I can make any point I want, valid or not, because I have comments on so you can disagree. That's fair.

July 9, 2009


I wish I made movies. Movies have a power that I envy. The power to emotionally move someone. The power to entertain. The power to excite. The power to involve. By many film is considered to be a lesser art form. Books are better. Painting is better. Stage is better. The thing is that film is better. Let me explain.
Sometimes movies leave me in awe. Just now I finished a documentary called Step Into Liquid. You might have heard of it. It's a film about surfing through the eyes of a surfer. The film opens with some of the most amazing shots of the ocean I've ever seen in my life. I thought at the beginning, why are you opening with this? I guess I figured they should save their best shots for the end. They did.
I suppose it isn't the camera that left me in awe though. There were other things. Story elements that involved real people. There was the story of the surfer who was paralyzed but continues to surf, lying down. There was the trip to Easter Island. There was the... well, I won't recap the entire thing. I'll just say that there were things that wrapped me up in the lives of people in the film.
Getting back to the point, this movie moved me in ways that very few things have before, outside of my own life.
Other things that move me include music, architecture, geology, painting, literature, etc. And by move I mean pass on to me a feeling of wonderment, awe, involvement, knowledge, ideas or some other value. It's just that film is better at it that most of these things alone.
A lot of my friends, and by friends I mean the handful of people who may ever read this, know that I love movies. There is an even smaller group of people who participate in this with me. Oddly, these 4 or 5 people are the few friends that most of my friends don't know. Among us we have this idea. I'm not certain where we got it but it's something we keep repeating to each other. It's almost a mantra now. "Film is the greatest medium the world has ever seen." There are a couple other variations on this idea but the point is clear.
The simple fact is that film combines visual, musical and performing art together in a very unique and involving way. Now many may argue that theatre is superior in every way in all three areas. I would never agree but the argument may be made. The thing is that theatre is really just the precursor to film. Film allows for things that theatre cannot accomplish.
Just to illustrate I would point at The Matrix. Imagine if you saw that for the first time on a stage. Use all the same actors but do it on stage. What would it look like? Sure you could get across all the elements of the story. You could deliver all the dialog. How about bullets? How about bullet time? Someone would have to rig some very complicated devices to accomplish much of the special effects. And when you think about it, without some of the effects The Matrix just isn't the same movie. Without them it become harder to believe they are inside a virtual world that can be manipulated by its creators. In a sense the effects are part of the story.
Now, not every movie released is amazing. But the same can be said about almost every art form. Not every photograph you take is amazing. I believe most people are surprised when they take a picture that looks amazing. I know I am.
Still, every once in a while I watch a movie that makes me feel something. It's in those moments that I realize why I want to make movies. It's in those moments that I understand why I sacrifice so much for such a small chance at telling my stories in the medium. I never know before I watch a movie whether or not I'll come out of it with such an experience.
Earlier this year I wrote about I Love You Man. I went in that movie mostly because I was bored and thought I needed something funny. As it turns out it was more than just a funny story. In fact it was much more. As the summer arrived I was excited about all the big shows coming out. I couldn't wait to see Star Trek and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I went to see them and I enjoyed them. The excitement is gone and all I can think about is how much I want to see I Love You Man again. Because of the experience I had with it I think it is the best movie of the year.
Movies are subjective of course. Often I think the reason certain movies hit me the way they do is because of what I am going through in my own life at the time. Having moved to California in the last year I have been thinking a lot about how much less time I get to spend with the handful of people I consider to be my closest friends. That effected my feelings in the theater. When I was younger I had an amazing experience watching The Sixth Sense. I believe now it was due in large part to my feelings that sometimes I stood alone in who I was. I related to the boy very well. I saw it twice in theaters and enjoyed it just as much the second time.
I'm of course not trying to invalidate other forms of art by writing this. In the end I just want to acknowledge the power a simple movie can have in our lives.

June 29, 2009


It's hard for me to believe I haven't written anything here for over a month. Although I have had a few ideas for posting I haven't really felt that many of the topics were worth the time.
One thing I realized that I haven't written about yet is Pandora. This is surprising since almost any time I write anything at all some music is playing somewhere. So if you want to listen to some of my tunes while you read this you can go here. Feel free to leave comments on my stations or whatever. If you happen to like the service, sign up, create your own stations and let me know so I can listen in from time to time.
Now chances are you already know about Pandora. But for those who don't I'll explain why Pandora is the best radio in radio.
First of all, Pandora is based on a larger project to categorize songs and albums based not on some silly genre the publishers announce. It based on how things sound. Which once you think about it a little make it seem overwhelming in scope. Basically they have listeners rate songs based on something like 360 areas to create sound profiles. Then they place songs and albums in those profiles. In it mind numbing once you realize that these songs have to have listeners because a computer cannot listen to music yet, and probably won't be able to for some time.
How this benefits the users? Easy, you create an account and create stations around artists or songs you like. Then, as time passes you get to hear songs that fall into a similar sound to that song or artist. You then rate them with a thumbs up or down. Up means you like the song and want it added to your station. Down means don't play this song again - ever. It's sounds kind of meat fisted at first. But wait there is more. If you like the song but think it doesn't really belong on the same station then you have the option of creating a new station based on that sound/song. Or if you are only annoyed that the song is overplayed you can tell Pandora to stop playing it for a month.
There is more still. When I started I used Less Than Jake to create a station. After a few weeks I felt like the station needed more than just skate punk/ska. I added some heavier bands like AFI and Rancid. Then I began to hear all sorts of hard core punk. Some of which I really didn't care for. A few thumbs down took care of most of what I didn't want pretty quick. Then the service started suggesting new songs. It started playing Offspring, Foo Fighters and Nirvana occasionally. I liked it and gave enough thumbs up that now I get a good mix. If you really want to hear what a year and a half of whittling my station sounds like feel free to listen. I now call that station Lars Main Stage. It may not suit you but I listen to it a lot. It's my favorite radio station of all time.
That there is the secret isn't it. Pandora puts the power of radio in YOUR hands. You don't have to like the stuff they play on any station on the air. You can make your own. With enough time and attention you can veto songs you don't want to hear and approve songs you do. You can mix sounds on one station or make many. Right now I have one station that plays my version of rock, another one for some Neil Diamond and Paul Simon, another one for Genesis because I felt it didn't fit the sound of Paul and Neil, and another one that is pretty well just for the occasional Taylor Swift song.
Now I am sure there is a lot that could be said about Pandora. But I think we should just let the music talk for itself.

May 20, 2009

Wolfram Alpha - Worth a Blog Post

   I don't know if you have heard of Wolfram Alpha yet. If you haven't you no doubt will. It reminds me of Hulu, the video service. When Hulu was brand new I remember thinking that, "This thing is going to take off once people know about it." And then it did. Now they have commercials. Wolfram Alpha will probably be like that but for people that want a quick answer to any question. It's not another video service at all.
   Wolfram Alpha is a new search engine. But don't think of it like another company trying to compete with Google. They are not in that kind of search business. Basically it is an information quick return system. Type in something you want to know. For instance, I typed in Methanol. At my last job we were often calculating the molecular weight of methanol based compounds. We had to look up its molecular weight all the time. Through Google you would find a list of websites with information about methanol and then open one up to find what you need. With Wolfram you don't get a list of websites. All you get is the information. It's really simple.
   What I found to be really cool was the results it returned from the query: Life, the Universe and Everything. Try it.
   Unfortunately this product is limited in its uses. There were a lot of results that it couldn't return yet. I searched, trying to be clever, WolframHart. It didn't understand. But then again it is pre-Beta.

May 19, 2009

3 Kings

   There are at this point at least 3 people that read my blog. That's pretty good in my book. One of them is my wife Stephanie.
   So, I thought I should briefly comment on the picture at the top of my page. What you are looking at is called The Three Kings. It is just outside Goblin Valley, Utah. Goblin Valley is famous for the rock formations found there. Galaxy Quest was filmed in part in Goblin Valley. It's a pretty fun place to visit because, unlike many parks, you can actually walk around and touch the rock formations.
   I think this picture really illustrates how I feel a lot of the time. Of the 3 formations the taller one seems to be slightly apart from the other 2. I imagine that this one is standing there telling the other 2 important things. These things are so important that they are the only 2 people willing to listen.

May 18, 2009

Christian Bale - Not my hero

   This one is probably going to make girls that think Christian Bale is cute upset. If you fall into that category feel free to stop reading now.
   The last 2 weekends I went to the movies. Okay, last 3 weekends. There have been some shows I've been waiting for a while to see so I went to the theater. I paid with AMEX rewards points too so I was pretty happy to get in to some of this summer's big ones for free.
   The one thing I noticed was that Christian Bale is in all the previews this summer. It kind of makes me angry too. I'm becoming a CB hater more each year. I think he is one of the most overrated actors around. What really upsets me is that he keeps taking crucial roles that don't suit his one character dead stare guy.
   When he first landed the role as the new Batman I was okay with it. Until I learned a little about him. Oddly it was from an interview on public radio. He said to the interviewer at the time, "Choosing a guy like me from Wales to play an iconic American hero like Batman is like choosing an American to play James Bond." It wasn't until he said these words that I started not liking him. It took me a long time to really think this through, years in fact, but now I understand why that made me so angry. He understood the significance of playing Batman and yet still took the role. Clearly he should have turned it down. Clearly he understood that he should have turned it down. Yet he is the new Batman.
   As far as Batman actors go he is OK. I mean, there have been worse, but there have also been better. One big problem I have seen, and I know some people agree with this, is his Batman voice. It's really silly and quite distracting. I think he was going for a Michael Keaton "I'm Batman" thing. It just doesn't work. He is no Michael Keaton. Honestly, he is no Adam West. Though Adam West played the campy Batman (possibly giving the word "campy" a popular place in our lexicon) he had a charm that CB doesn't.
   Okay, so I am a little upset that he plays Batman. Fine. I can learn to live with it. I realized that this run of Batman movies isn't really about Batman. I mean, Heath Ledger was the star of the show last time. The time before that may have been Liam Neeson. Disagree if you like Christian Bale in both movies had the benefit of working around actors with way more talent and charisma than he owns. He looks good a lot by association.
   Then there are the old time movies. Have you seen the preview of the one with Johnny Depp? It looks pretty good, until you see the scenes where CB is playing the same character he played in The Prestige. I think the movie I am referring to is Public Enemies. From the few seconds he is on screen in the preview I can tell he is just doing the same old thing. He has the same look on his face. He seems to only be able to express harshness on his face effectively.
   Then there is the new Terminator flick. I can't believe they wanted him to play grown up John Connor. I just can't understand how someone thought, "Hey you know who would make a good John Connor? Christian Bale." How is that stony face of his going to convey the child we all grew up with? Especially now that we have an amazing characterization in Thomas Dekker? Dekker has range and expression that CB doesn't. In one look he can show disappointment and hope. Dekker in my view is John Connor.
   So, I was most likely going to see Terminator this summer. Now I don't really want to.
   So, there is my first really bad rant. I didn't get a blog to rant about stuff. I just can't help myself on this topic. It's not that I don't want to ever see CB in a movie. He is a good actor in some roles. Honestly, I just don't think he deserves to play 2 American heroes of the big screen. Who knows, maybe they'll make him the new more hardcore Superman.

May 15, 2009

Copy Editing

   I know that title is really boring. It's just what I have been doing all week. It's been my number 1 focus. For anyone who might be reading this and doesn't know, I have been writing a screenplay for the last 8 months now. Now that I am getting really close to feeling like it is complete I have to fix all the terrible errors in it that bother the average reader. In short I have to copy edit it.
   To copy edit, at least in news print, is to remove any grammatical errors, spelling errors or just confusing language that many writers are prone to using. I know that almost everyone who loves to read thinks that when they read someones words they get insight into that person, that author. The truth is that you get insight into a lot of people. Very few published works ever make it to publication without many levels of editing by various people.
   In my case there are really only a few levels. First off there is me. I write the original material, for better or for worse. Then I pass what I have onto my readers (who shall remain unnamed until publication time, upon which they will get lavish thanks from me). The readers do just that, read. In some cases they read it over and over again. Then they give feedback. I ask my readers to look for parts that don't work and parts that work really well. In the end I am telling a story about characters and I want to know how those characters are being received by a reader, despite the fact that this is a screenplay that, if published, will have the characters interpreted for the average viewer by talented actors.
   Once I have some feedback I toss things around in my head and rewrite the areas that need additions or subtractions. In one case it turned out to be about a third of what I had written that was tossed aside. After the rewrite that section felt better to me and to my readers.
   So, after repeating the process over and over I come to a nearly complete story. However complete the story is the words themselves are still occasionally jumbled and clumsy. So begins the copy editing process.
   Normally a copy editor would be employed by a publisher to help the author smooth out the rough edges. In my case I am too poor and untrusting so I do most of it myself. The problem with a writer copy editing their own material is that they tend to miss most of the errors. So, in order to do it properly they have to do it many more times that someone else would have to. You see a writer tends to know what they are reading and their brain will often fill in the gaps when there is a word misspelled.
   For example: I wrote one line that went kind of like, "He rubs his eyes." Only I really wrote, "He subs his eyes." A spell checker program can't get this. I didn't misspell anything. The grammar is close enough to correct that the grammar checker can't find the mistake either. But any human reading it could, except the writer. I already know in my subconscious what this word is supposed to be, so when I read it I don't notice the mistake. I must have read this passage 3 times before I saw the word "subs".
   The thing I am trying to illustrate here is that we often have problems self correcting. I think that is why in our early years we have parents and older brothers and sisters. They can see our errors more clearly than we can so we can then correct them, if we are willing, and become better at interacting with others.
   Of course this whole time I was talking about relating to people.
   I realized last night that even now I am really slow at picking up on stupid things I do. Sometimes I say things as an adult that are really dumb. The sad thing is that there is no correcting the words after they leave your mouth. There are 2 correcting principles I have noticed over the years though.
   The first thing I learned as a teenager. When I was young I often said really stupid and embarrassing things. So many times I thought people would never talk to me again because of things I said. Not insulting things but things that just showed my ignorance and childishness. I think at some point we all do some of this.
   The weird thing is that people don't seem to react the way I thought they would as a teenager, that they would never want to associate with me again. Most people ignore or forget those things. The only people that really remember the stupid or embarrassing things you do are your friends. They bring them up once in a while for a laugh, not really to hurt your feelings. Everyone else seems to just forget. It makes those moments livable.
   The second principle is forgiveness coupled with apology. Every once in a while we say really stupid things that hurt others unintentionally. Apology and forgiveness is something I am sure we are all familiar with. This too, makes life livable.
   Unfortunately we cannot always edit our words or actions. Luckily there are other things working in our favor that make it not as bad as it might be. 

April 21, 2009

Believe Me, Please!

There are 3 words I find to be totally absurd.

Over the last few years I have noticed there are a handful of individuals that have a hard time getting people to believe they are who they say they are. It is a strange thing when a person goes far out of their way to reason with others that they are a certain type of person.

Let me give an example. This is totally made up for my own purposes. Nobody needs to think that they are reading about themselves.

Say, there is a guy we will call Dude. Dude thinks he is really cool. He thinks he is really good at snowboarding. All he talks about is how good he is at it. He tells you how often he goes snowboarding. After a while you start to get suspicious because some of the times he says he went snowboarding you are pretty sure he was hanging out with you playing video games. Finally you decide to go with him and hit the slopes. Dude gears up and offers to drive. All his stuff is really expensive and nice. Latest boots and bindings. You see he spent almost $300 on his jacket alone. Then you get on the mountain. As it turns out Dude kind of sucks. For months you have been hearing about how he can do a 180 of the ramp. You heard how he once landed a 360 tail grab. So you watch him hit the jump but for some reason all he hits is some rollers. What he calls a 180 turns out to be a stance change at the top of the roller where you are momentarily weightless, but he gets NO AIR! Disappointment fills your heart. But you push forward. You ask him to try to do a 360 tail grab. It takes some coaxing but eventually Dude goes for it. He hits a small kicker and goes for it. Again no air. He just spins at the apex again and reaches down to grab the tail. At that point everything goes wrong. The board smashes his fingers into the packed snow. Because he is motion the board grinds his fingers and knuckles. At that point you know you will be hanging with the medic for the next hour before driving home disappointed.

Okay, so maybe some of this came from my own experience. I never really was good on a snowboard.

The point I'm trying to illustrate is that for all Dude's talk he wasn't any good. The thing that really aggravates me is when Dude comes home and tries to tell all of your friends who weren't there that he was doing 180's all day. The 360 becomes a story of how he had so much air but someone else interfered with his jump and caused him to take a huge smash on the hand. You know better and for some reason you can't keep your mouth shut. Well, I can't keep my mouth shut in those situations. Call me compulsive about hearing the truth and making sure others do as well.

I'm sure you have met someone like this before. If you met me at certain points in my life you could probably describe me as one of these people. I would like to think I grew out of it once I realized something. I'll get to that later.

So, my conundrum is simply this: should I just shut up or should I point out when people are so full of themselves that they twist the truth to make themselves look cool? Before you answer let me explore further.

About 2 years ago I learned about narcissistic personality disorder (NPD is how it is known clinically). I was taught this term by someone trying to help me deal with my feelings about someone who clearly had a severe case of it. Now I'll give a clinically inaccurate description just that does give a overall idea of what is wrong with someone with this problem. Basically someone with NPD believes that the problems in their life come from people and situations around them. This belief is so persistent that they eventually lose the ability to be truly introspective. It is as if these people are incapable of seeing themselves as fallible except in situations where they can use the idea of their fallibility as a tool to blame another person for the problems they are facing.

Okay, there really is a lot more to that then I wrote. I just want to give you the gist of it so I can continue what I am talking about.

Back to Dude. After the trip and the crazy tales of how good he was on the slopes correction comes. I point out that Dude really sucks and that he is full of s... stuff. So he gets upset. Unfortunately Dude is pretty smart and well practiced and throwing things back in your face. A minute later he is telling everyone that I suck at snowboarding. He has a myriad of examples that he pulls out of the air. The scary thing is that they are all very real examples (like I said I never was good). Then he moves on to other things. He works very deftly towards the things that really hurt. He begins to attack you where it hurts, he attacks the things you believe you are a little bit good at. He then goes on to explain how he is better than you at everything, especially the thing you love.

In this situation the issue is quite a bit different than just being a little braggy about being good at stuff he isn't. Now you realize he is really really good at making you feel like you suck at EVERYTHING.

Fast forward a bit. After all the mean words wear off, as they inevitably do, Dude goes back to telling you and your other friends how good they are at snowboarding. The thing is that the stories get bigger. Your other friends have seen how much Dude actually sucks at it. But it doesn't stop. It gets to the point where he actually tells you and your friends, "I am really good at snowboarding, really, really! I am. Believe me!"

How strange is that? The thing is what does it matter, right? Do you go snowboarding (or whatever it is you do) because you want to be really great at it? I think most people like the idea of being good at something but that is usually not what keeps people doing things. I think people do things they enjoy. For instance, in reality I suck at golf. Every time I go I worry about being paired with people who are so good that they get impatient with me because I suck so bad. But it doesn't stop me from going because I really LOVE golf. I think it has something to do with the tuning fork in the heart (Tin Cup, watch it). Every once in a while I hit a ball just right and you feel it in every part of your body. I've never felt anything like it anywhere else. It just doesn't happen very often. But I keep going because I am chasing a feeling. Then there is the feeling of sinking a putt from like 25-30 feet (I told you I'm not that good), there is nothing like the dance your heart does as that ball creeps towards the hole inching ever closer. The anticipation alone is indescribable but the sound of the ball going in the cup is just amazing. I golf because I am chasing those feelings not because I am chasing a kind of validation that will never come. I doubt Tiger Woods is golfing because he is trying to make his father proud. If it were he would have stopped when he won the Master's for the first time.

When I was 18 years old I came to an interesting decision. I decided from that moment on I would take responsibility for my actions. I would be responsible. I like to think that for the most part I have lived up to this for the last 10 years. It has served me pretty well.

Now I am like any other person, I want to be noticed by people I care about. I remember as a missionary I really cared a lot what my mission president thought of me. To this day I am not sure what he thought/thinks of me. But one day I knew how he felt. I neglected to do something important. He was mad. I got home and could tell by him waiting there to talk to me that he was ready to give me a tongue lashing. I went to him and let him go. He proceeded to tell me the mistake I had made. While he was talking I remember my promise to myself to take responsibility for my mistakes. As soon as he was done telling me what I did wrong I immediately told him that it was all my fault and that it was because of my neglect. I took responsibility for it. Then I looked up awaiting more tongue lashing. He looked down at me (did I mention he is pretty tall) and said with a half smile on his face, "Don't let it happen again," and he walked away.

I learned a pretty amazing lesson that day. I learned that people have a hard time being upset, angry or show animosity when you take responsibility for your mistakes. The wind is taken out of their sails. The anger is gone. But to truly take the wind out of their sails you have to take the correction into your actions. In my case it was a bathroom I didn't clean. From that day on that bathroom was kept clean. It was cleaned every single day before people came to the mission home and might use it.

So what is it about people that are unwilling or unable to take correction? In my mind that is all a person with NPD is. More than all of the clinical words there really isn't much more to it. There is a word in English that describes this phenomenon very well, pride. Those suffering from pride really need help. I see many people that suffer from pride are unable to function normally. They cause themselves and others around them so much pain. I just can't figure out why they can't just change. Change is hard for anyone I realize. I just don't know why people can't see that if they just started acting different they wouldn't have to go around saying, "Believe me, Please!"

April 2, 2009

The Wider World

Okay, so I can't really claim to have been everywhere and seen everything. I have a few friends that did that. But that is what this one is about I suppose, knowing that I haven't seen it all.

I live next to Disneyland. Not next door or anything. Close enough I hear the fireworks 2 or 3 times a week but far enough that I don't see them and don't have to deal with over street traffic from buses and taxis going all over the place. The thing is I have only been to Disneyland once in my life. I was 2 or 3 and I only have a vague recollection of what we did. Honestly I remember Sea World better than anything because it was the first time I got hit by a seagull turd. From that day on it didn't make a lot of sense that Utah reverenced this bird so much.

Now the point isn't that I don't remember it well. The point is that of the people who will possibly read this one day I know that most of them probably have really fond memories of Disneyland. Not me. I haven't collected that one yet.

I was born in Utah. For most people not from Utah it kind of raises a red flag of boredom. I can't recall the many times as a kid when I told people I was born in Utah and they would get a look on their face that seemed to want to apologize. I didn't get it then but I think I am starting to get it. Let me digress in an attempt to illustrate.

I had a friend in elementary school. I knew this girl from 4th grade on. She was not one of the popular kids so we got along great. For 2 years of school she was one of the people who thought it was sad I was from Utah. It wasn't until 6th grade that the conversation pointed in her direction and I discovered that she had never left the state of California by that point in her life.

The lesson I learned was that people can't imagine the world outside where they are. It is almost as if mankind was built to see the world in a microcosm.

As I think about this my mind is whisked back in time to an age when people lived and died withing a 20 mile radius of where they were born. I think that is why we are built to see the world this way. Generations of mankind has lived in only small areas of the world. The thing is that with all the ability we have to travel and see the world for what it is the microcosm still exists.

Shortly after I turned 16 my family moved from Vallejo, CA to Orem, UT. I expected the change to be fairly easy. I expected that I would meet new friends. I did, but not until after I was confronted by cruel reality.

Once I started to get to know people I realized that there was a huge prejudice in Orem against anyone who would dare say they were from California. I wasn't, as it turns out, the only person who went through that experience.

The mindset was all about being local. The funny thing is that even people who were not strictly locals learned to pretend they were in order to get along in that environment. Due to my sometimes uncompromising behavior I didn't get along very well. I'm sure that will come as no surprise to many. I wanted to remain who I was and be liked and accepted for it. Something I still believe is right.

Okay, so we left Orem. A year later we moved to a small town called Salem, UT. In that small town we lived in the small neighborhood by the cemetery. This neighborhood was different. This one was made up of a number of people who did not grow up nearby mixed with a few that had. It was sort of a bunch of city people hiding away in a small farm community because it was nicer that Provo and Orem.

Can you guess what happened next? I was accepted for who I was. The reason was simply that half of the people that lived there were locals and the other half were like me. I learned a great lesson living there. I learned that it is great to have moved so much in your life that you cannot really call a single place home. The perspective you gain from living in many places gives you great experiences. Those experiences then allow you to relate to many people who come from many circumstances.

Now, like I said earlier, I haven't been all over the world. There is another point I want to make about that.

I have also met many people over the years that have spent most of their life in one town or another. They almost all have been to Disneyland and/or Hawaii. They all have fond memories of those vacations. The thing I realized one day was that vacations don't do much but give you a little time away from your house.

On a vacation do you socially interact with people? Do you make lifelong friends? With a few exceptions the answer is probably no. Without living in those places you don't really get that experience. You may have a fleeting summer romance or meet someone who became your pen pal. Chances are you didn't spend a lot of time with them from that point on.

Maybe it's time for me to get to the point. This will probably seem pretentious and self-centered. I don't mean for it to be.

I realized one day that living in this world is more that the microcosm we tend to make of it. The world is bigger than Orem. The world is bigger than Vallejo. The world is bigger than Salem (everything is bigger than Salem, I've seen farms bigger than Salem). The world is bigger than me. The world is bigger than Los Angeles and New York City. The world is bigger than any one of us because it is exactly as big as all of us. I think for me to learn that it took a lifetime of never feeling like I was "from" anywhere, despite the fact that I have almost always claimed to be from Vallejo, when the truth is I never lived in one neighborhood there for more than 2 years.

I like having lived in a lot of places. It has expanded my view of the world. It has allowed me to meet many amazing people.

April 1, 2009

I Love You, Man.

A couple of weeks ago Stephanie and I went to see I Love You, Man (rated R for anyone who cares). So far this is my favorite movie of 2009. Not that it will stay that way but so far this year the movies I have seen are really sub par.

Okay, so what makes this movie so good? Basically it is a guy movie with a small love story mixed in. I know there are all sorts of "guy movies" out there. This one may have invented a new sub-genre though. The term being thrown around in the media is "bromance". I hate that term so that will be the last time I put it on my blog, anywhere. I digress.

What really makes this movie great is how relatable it is. It is really about a couple of guys that are at a point in their lives where they both have pretty much everything they want but friendship. The one guy has a bachelor lifestyle that he seems to be content with. The other is living his lifelong dream of getting married. The only problem is that now that they both have their lives pretty much the way they want them they don't have anyone to share their life with. They don't really have a close friend. And that is what makes this movie relatable, at least to me.

Now I'm not saying that I don't have friends. I have a lot of friends. Why I can relate to it is because of circumstances. Let me relate a story to illustrate.

Around the time I was married a lot of my friends were also getting married. Those that weren't were going through some changes of other kinds. The friends that were really close to me, those that I spent my time with and shared my life with, were really out of touch for what felt to be a long time. In retrospect I can see that the actual time involved was more like 6-9 months, starting at the day I got married.

I can remember that there were many nights where Stephanie and I would sit up in bed and I would complain to her how, though I loved spending time with her, I was kind of sad that I didn't get to hang out with the guys anymore. It was really difficult because there are a lot of things you can do with a bro that you can't do with a wife. This was illustrated in the movie by the music of Rush. For me it was StarCraft and talking about women (it's important to note that even married men talk about women, especially their wives).

Some time after my brother got married my wife and I devised a plan. See Josh's house had a washer and dryer and ours didn't. So we begged our way over to "do laundry". It often turned into games of Empire Earth until 3AM. Luckily I married a person who is supportive of anything with the word "party" in it LAN or otherwise.

As word of these late night games spread my friends and I started to have our bro time again. It was sort of on and off for years but most of the time it was dependent upon living spaces and proximity to one another.

Previous to moving to Anaheim I enjoyed what was probably the most regular hang out time since before we all got married. We enjoyed a rather large and comfy apartment in SugarHouse for a couple of years and eventually a close proximity to Josh and Brandon. This coupled with the invention of the game Rock Band, which our women could all get into as well, turned out to be some of the best hang out times in my adult life.

Okay, the long story illustrated that men (and women) need friends. We need time to be men. So any wives or girlfriends out there keep this in mind. Encourage your men to have "Man Time". It's going to make him happy and by extension you. Plus he won't be as jealous of you when you and your friends go to the mall or whatever it is your friends do together. And if you need more convincing go see I Love You, Man. Ignore the swears.


March 31, 2009

New day, new blog.

So the wife started a blog for us. It's great except it is mostly about stuff about our lives. It doesn't really cover the things I think about all the time. Not that I think a blog should be an online journal. Honestly I think that journals are boring.

I figure there is really a couple of reasons for me to have a blog. 1) To practice writing; 2) to talk about things I think about (movies, games, etc.). So I figure that from here I'll just kind of review things.