Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday: Transportation

Isaiah 1:18 - "Come now, and let us reason together ..."

Last week's results: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Earbuds: 50%
Headphones: 33%
What are these newfangled contraptions: 17%

And now, let's look at today's feature!

That's right, folks! It's time for another thinkjoust, not to prove a winner, but to give everyone a chance to speak their opinions without hatred or malice or back-biting!

As you can see by the examples up there, my primary forms of transportation throughout my life have been by car, bike, and foot. However, I have to say, I have never driven or rode in a car much like that. Oh, well, one day, I suppose.

Someone recently posted about how this is the year to which Marty McFly travelled in the second Back to the Future movie. I was disappointed with that revelation, because that meant that personal hoverboards seemed even more impossible.

Then, this past week, I discovered these nifty things!

I'm cool with no hoverboards now. It's too bad I can't afford anything like that, but one day, maybe! It would make walking in this heat more bearable.

Anyway, what's your favorite way of getting around town? Be sure to vote in the blog located below the ad on the right-hand side! Good luck with your choice!

Note on the poll gadget: If you don't think your vote registered, try reloading the page a couple of times before trying again. It's a bit slow!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Love: Supreme Court Ruling

James 1:19 - "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath ..."

I was initially intending on remaining silent on this topic, but several of my readers approached me with questions concerning what I thought on the matter. This is my response.

I am a strong advocate of Agency, in an individual's right to discover for themselves what makes them happy. While I know what makes me happy, those things might not make others happy. I in no way desire to promote the idea that there is only one set of variables that could possibly make someone happy. I don't think that's true. Each to their own, I say, and I try to respect everyone's likes and dislikes, from favorite foods to certain lifestyles.

That being said, I have observed that it is difficult to discuss the differences between our beliefs about happiness without some form of contention cropping up. I hate that. I hate debates and arguments in lieu of thinkjousts, or frank, open discussions about our differences sans winners or malice. Sometimes, I fear sharing what makes me happy will invite contention because I know it is different from what makes others happy.

Regardless, I am going to share what makes me happy.

One day, I personally hope to marry a beautiful, powerful woman in an LDS temple.

In regards to the recent Supreme Court announcement, I have many friends and family in the LGBT community (and I apologize if I referred to the collective body incorrectly) who are thrilled. I have enjoyed exploring their celebrations over this decision via social media. I am grateful that many who have previously felt limited in how they could express their happiness are now more free to so do. I am elated that love has won over contention. I am happy others are happy. I am glad each of us has the chance to discover, for ourselves, what options are available in the world to make our life complete.

The Supreme Court announcement is a polarizing topic. I personally feel as though hate has been slung at both sides from both sides. I think that is ridiculous. As I stated earlier, my goal is to marry in a LDS temple. There is nothing in that statement that attacks's anyone else's discovered happiness. I am only sharing my own thoughts.

At the same time, I respect and absolutely admire yours. So many of you are far stronger than I.

No matter what race, gender, nation, or creed you claim, you deserve the right to speak your mind without fear of hatred or malice.

In conclusion, life is a journey. This world was given to us by God so we could use our agency and explore and discover everything around us. No person should dictate limits on that process.

I am happy God has put us here to be happy.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Patience: On-Call

A few days ago, I was rudely awakened by the sound of a cell phone going off. At first, I was convinced it wasn't mine. Then, I realized it was my work phone, and therefore technically mine in regards to present responsibilities.. 

I blearily answered the offending screecher. "'ullo?"

I was informed that a youthful pickney had locked themselves out of their building and their room. This required me to call up my coworker so the two of us could assist the young man without breaking any laws pertaining to being alone with a minor.

So, the two of us tramped up to the building, yawning vigorously. Upon arriving at the building, we discovered the participant wasn't to be found. Further inspection indicated the building had unlocked automatically, as it was programmed to do. Upon trooping up to the participant's room, we discovered his roommate had let him in.

Sighing, we two coworkers went straight back to bed.

Obviously, given the title of this post, I feel as though if the participant had just been a little more patient, then his problems would not have affected at least three other people, namely, the desk attendant and us door openers. If' he'd just waited before calling, less would have been burdened.

However, I think I'm much like that as well. I want what I want now. I desire things immediately. Notably, being a currently unpublished author brings me great frustration. However, if I want to be like my Heavenly Father, I need to exercise more patience. After all, think of all the people who He waits on to change and grow and become strong individuals. Look at Saul/Paul!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Conviction: Crosswalks and Sheep

I find no personal moral revulsion to crossing a crosswalk when the red hand is attempting to bar my passage. I don't think people who do need to repent or fear losing their soul. 

After all, the crosswalks here on campus certainly are in the most inconvenient spots. The one pictured below is particularly notorious for displaying the Red Hand of No Passage when there are absolutely no cars in sight at all. As it is, many people just simply cross when they want to. I think I saw an officer yell at a guy exactly once for jaywalking there, but that was about it.

A few days ago, I found myself at this particular crosswalk. To my surprise, while many people were gathered on either side, no one was braving the wrath of the scorned Red Hand. 

Now, I usually wait for the Glowing Guide to replace the Red Hand before I cross. I do this for reasons twofold. First, I  want to respect the ideals of my best mate (anyone who ignores the Red Hand activates one of his pet peeves). Second, because I make a lot of minor mistakes in my life, and obeying and honoring the law is one of the few things of which I feel I can gain a perfect mastery without trying too hard.

Anyway, so I joined the group of waiting pedestrians on my side and waited. For a few seconds, it appeared as though our collective patience was going to last.

Then one brother had had it. Shaking his head, he stepped out into the street.

The rest of us stared, shocked. All of a sudden, two more people began to cross. And then three more. And then, eventually, everyone was crossing, professors, freshmen, and everyone in between, gunning for the other side with furtive looks down the streets.

Until, finally, by the time the Glowing Guide appeared before my passage, I was the only one left to cross at the appointed time.

What amused me was the sheep mentality. Everyone had their own reasons for staying on one side or the other, most likely due to wanting to do the right thing. However, the moment one's regard for traffic laws cracked, the rest followed suit.

This experience got me to thinking about all the times I might act that way. If I am with a group, and someone begins something I would normally avoid, would I blindly follow along? After all, they're doing it. How bad could it be?

In the end, the experience gave me reason to strengthen my conviction to do what I believe to be right no matter what. And that, my friends, is how you become powerful.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Throwback Thursday #28 - Finding Victory

Today's throwback comes to us from October 7 of last year.

I don't know if I have many readers I don't personally know, if that train wreck of a sentence makes any sense at all. However, if there is anyone out there who doesn't know me personally, I am a bona fide undergraduate, studying the art of English. I chose this path primarily because I've discovered I'm not much good at doing, well, anything beyond communicating in the language I was raised.

In today's throwback, I actually speak much of my inabilities, notably in a way I found rather amusing. After all, what isn't amusing about the act of hypothesizing that it is possible to reattach lost limbs using spaghetti for thread? And that's just one part!

Of course, even despite my inabilities and my tongue-in-cheekiness, I also found the message--that is, of finding victory--to be quite on par with the encouragement I seek to share.

So! Curious yet? Even if you're not (and only people with spaghetti-sewed limbs wouldn't be), click here to visit Finding Victory: Test-Taking Failures!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Somebody Else's Problem: Trashed Dorm Room

When I try to describe my summer job to people, they usually begin to glaze over. So, instead, I've taken to saying I just 'do everything' in regards to housing.

But, actually, I don't.

One of my responsibilities is to re-prepare the dorm rooms following the departure of one conference yet prior to the next. Now, in my job description, 'preparing' does not actually mean deep cleaning the rooms themselves. I won't go into the details of what I do, but know that a custodial crew takes care of that aforementioned deep cleaning.

So, my crew and I were going room to room, making sure all the relevant tasks were completed in each, while the custodial crew were coming up behind. Now, conference-goers (usually aged 14-18) are notoriously messy. However, one conference room in particular prompted me to shake my head in disbelief.

To be fair, the picture doesn't do the mess justice. My camera was unprepared for the task. 

Know there was trash spread all over, drinks and liquid had been spilled with a severe abandon, and an assortment of food, chiefly pretzels, had been scattered across the floor and mercilessly ground into the carpet underfoot. I did not envy the custodial crew coming up behind me. I knew they usually cleaned surface layers. Now, their entire flow and rhythm would be stymied as they tackled what somebody else should have been responsible enough to take care of themselves.

Somebody Else's Problem. I'm sure that's what those kids were thinking as they threw their food all over the room. Somebody else will clean it. Somebody else will take care of it. 

It is true the custodial crew is getting paid for this mess, but not any extra than they would for any other room. it's also a mess that could have easily been prevented had someone else been more considerate. If every conference-goer acted as carelessly, then the custodial crew would either have to work more hours or hire more staff. I couldn't believe how inconsiderate these kids were.

How many times am I like that, though?

How many people do I pass on the street who need help? How many times do I see a car pulled over with nobody coming over to help? How many times do I pass people who are asking for money on the side of the road? How many times do people ask me for help or time, and I just ignore?

I'm going to make sure not to forget those whose burdens can be lightened through my efforts. I don't want to make them somebody else's problem.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Anniversary Special: Recap Slide Show Love Letter Extravaganza

Well, well, well, look at this cocky guy! About what does he feel so sly?

One year ago today, I was four days home following my two year mission to Jamaica. That day was the day I first registered this blog and typed up the very first post, The Day Dawn is Breaking. It featured my thoughts on the various denominations around the world, on nature, and, of course, when I interrupted a family reverently trying to scatter ashes.

Many of you have stuck with me since that time. For that, I wanted to say, "Thanks." In order to properly express my emotions about this accomplishment, I wrote you all a song.

Thank you. Thank you for giving me a reason to self-reflect, to become a better person, to share my thoughts and feelings with you. Thank you for helping me shine my light and recognize that I am not alone. Thank you for forgiving me when my words can't fully express how I feel.


And for those of you who want those lyrics ...

I remember the first day you met me
My admiration grew so naturally
I wanted to pass on what you gave me
So I started to shine like a bright beam
Some saw it, others laughed
Some proclaimed it would never last
But as you cheered, my strength amassed
And now a whole year has come and passed

Not a winner a beginner cuz I finish strong
Tryna be your inner pinner every day long
Internalize and organize the words I cannot verbalize
know why I’m gonna fly instead of cry and die
Vocabulary, allegory, beakers in my laboratory
tools rule fools who don’t see I’m a school
potion of emotion for my fans with the devotion
not estrange and perish, you gotta change and cherish   

From chariots to spicy shakes
You’ve stuck with me from the beginning
And though this is not the end
It is a type of ending                      
Cuz with one notch under my belt
I’ll continue to shout just what I’ve felt
Every single day that I’m living here
Upon this earth that I hold dear


Remember nostalgia, and what it brought
For every Thursday was my vicious plot
The loving debates consensus wrought
When Tuesdays ushered in free thought
When new ads prompt to post a picture
Sunday snaps became a fixture
Bringing you in was quite a kicker
With funny videos mixed up with scripture


But this journey is easy with you all here
With you by my side, I do not fear
For without you, I would not be
The person that I have become to be
So here’s my thanks from the bottom of my heart
Good-bye until tomorrow
Cuz each day isn’t done until we’re back in bed
And back to the chorus that you have led

(Final Chorus)
Not a winner a beginner cuz you finish strong
You are my inner pinner every day long
Internalize and organize the words you cannot verbalize
know why you’re gonna fly instead of cry and die
Vocabulary, allegory, beakers in your laboratory
tools rule fools when you saw I’m a school    
*breathe* potion of emotion for each of us with devotion
not estrange and perish, we gotta change and cherish 

Monday, June 22, 2015

What's Best: Unikitty

No, actually, I've never seen The LEGO Movie. I'm told I would like it, though!

It was my best mate's birthday yesterday. In order to express my appreciation for him, I bought him an assortment of nice but useless things, including a present for his cat: an inflatable unicorn horn.

Despite reassurances to the contrary printed on the package, which you can investigate for yourself at this link, my friend's cat did not "love it." He seemed frankly traumatized by the experience, which you can vaguely see imprinted upon his haunted expression in the photograph.

Even earlier in the weekend, I had the chance to have a talk with one of my friends (well, several of my friends, but one in particular) who casually mentioned off-hand that she was wrestling with an important decision. I, with nothing but good intentions, promptly leaped into an overly drawn-out spiel about my own opinions on the decision, during which I barely let her have a word.

As I was thinking about it later, I recognized I should have done a better job listening instead of talking. She, more than anyone else, myself included, knows what's best for her. 

Just like how the makers of a unicorn horn don't necessarily know what's best for a cat.

Love you guys! The one year anniversary of Change and Cherish is tomorrow! See you then!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Guidance: Freshmeat (Men! I meant men!)

Yesterday, I found myself in a strange dimension wherein I was confronted with nothing but walls and walls of key hooks, extending far into the distance everywhere I faced. This, of course, wasn't the perturbing thing. No, the perturbing thing was this annoying blue light shining into my right eye. Where the heck am I? I kept thinking.

Photographic evidence of my claim to an insane journey through time and space.
Then, all at once, I remembered I wasn't in an alternate universe at all, but, instead, working a shift at a dormitory helping to orient brand-spanking-new college freshmen.

I get those two mixed up all the time!

That blue light was just horribly filtered sunlight! Silly phone camera.
As I watched these numerous freshmen come in with their luggage-laden families, I was heavily reminded of my own experiences in coming out to school for the first time. 

Before I moved out to Utah, I was living in North Carolina. My best mate was also coming out for school, and he wanted to bring his car along. So, he opted to drive across the nation. I, of course, thought it would be much smarter to take a plane.

"Saves money, son," my dad said as he stuffed me into the passenger seat of my friend's car.* "Builds character."

Photographic evidence of my dad physically forcing me into my friend's car against my will.
So across the nation we two amigos coasted, enjoying company, scenery, and rockin' jams for what was supposed to be three days.

"Goodness." I stared into the smoking remains of the engine block. "This will be great to mention in a blog post about four years from now, don't you think?"

My friend shot me a withering glance. "What are you talking about?"

So, it turned out to be four days. But, in the end, we made it! Well, actually, my friend wanted to get off to his place, so he just drove me up to my dorm, kicked me out, said, "Good luck!" and drove off.*

So, my very first time living alone was forayed, well, completely on my own. I had to find my own place, get my own key, find my own university identification, and get a job ... all on my own. I was rather grateful for the experience, because it built my confidence and empowered me.

The downside to that experience is that it gave me a superiority complex. I now snicker at the kids who walked in with their families. Noobs.

However, in all honesty, our life here on earth is much like heading off to college for the first time. After learning for a time in the presence of our heavenly parents, we were sent off, by ourselves, to brave earth and all that it had to offer. Of course, we weren't really alone. God is still watching us, every day, answering our prayers, nudging us in the right direction, and lending us a hand when we need it.

Maybe I should cut those freshmen some slack.

Love you guys! See you tomorrow!

*If you ask him his account of the story, he will deny this ever happened. I can't** confirm who is more correct. Or won't confirm. Maybe.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friend at Midnight: A Modern-Day Take

I had my day off this past Wednesday, and so traveled up to visit my sisters and Brother-in-law for a day or so. Ain't we adorable?

Even though my original plan was to drive home in the evening, it was eventually decided that I should get some sleep on the couch, instead. Unfortunately, this proved a tactical error in regards to 'getting some sleep,' namely because of the fuzzball featured in the photograph.

The cat, named Professor Lupin, was originally stuffed into my littlest sister's bedroom. However, at about 2 o'clock in the morning, I was abruptly awakened by a cold cat nose shoved up against mine. Seeing as how I live completely alone and am entirely unused to any form of stimuli during my slumber, my whole body jolted upward with a spastic, wild frenzy of panic and alarm. The Professor responded by darting across the room, jumping on the windowsill, and pretending like it had just been watching the grass outside.

Thus began our game. I would go to sleep. The Professor would rudely awaken me. I would flail around. The Professor would feign ignorance to my dismay.

Finally, I'd had enough. Grabbing Lupin before he could bolt, I carried him back to my sister's bedroom and bodily threw him in before closing the door. There. Sighing with relief, I closed my eyes.

About 4 o'clock am, a cold cat nose shoved up against mine.


I'm sure the cat wanted something from me, but I still haven't the faintest clue what. It makes me grateful that, when we poke at God, he always know what we're truly asking.

Dat parable link at the top, though.

Don't forget to check out the poll for last Tuesday's Thinkjoust! It's located on the right, just below the ad.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Throwback Thursday #27 - Perspective Poem

Today's throwback comes from October 3rd of last year.

It might actually be a good idea to start at the post, then read on. Click here to read Perspective (Poem)!

I debated about using this poem as a throwback until I took another look at it. This may sound arrogant of me to say, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well-crafted the piece was.

At first glance, I couldn't believe how arrogant I'd been to pen the poem in the first place. I was under the initial impression that the last four stanzas were written from my perspective. Who am I to say my blog offers God's children safe haven? Who am I to call my readers 'my children?' Then, I recognized my error.

Not the last, but the first four stanzas are written from my perspective. The last four stanzas act as the response to my wandering thoughts at the beginning.

Each animal or vehicle or plant or structure has the opportunity to refute my questioning the purpose of their existence. Notably, they respond in the order reverse that which I first addressed. The subtle comparison between mankind's feelings of inadequacy fall into play as well.

All in all, I'm rather proud I wrote the thing, even though I barely remember so doing. How about you? Have you accomplished something grand, and then forgot about it? Take some time to remember! Then, if you feel comfortable sharing, be sure to post in the comments below! Love you guys!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Contemplation: They Who Are Happy

Alma 27:18 - "Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness."

I penned these thoughts of mine on Sunday, June 14.

You know those people. Those who are always smiling, laughing, enjoying themselves. I appreciate those types of people. I often wish I could be more like them.

I've known other people in my life who feel exactly opposite about these perpetually-smiling individuals. Sometimes we might know that one of these particular individuals is going through a rough time.

"How can they smile when they have to go home to that? They're just faking."

Other times, our own trials only make us grumpy about other peoples' happiness.

"There's no way anyone could be that happy."

Perhaps we're right.

Perhaps those people do go home, whether to friends, family, or all alone. Perhaps, when left to their own thoughts, they recall the magnitude of the trials facing them, the pain they've experienced over the years, the regrets they cannot shake no matter how hard they try. Perhaps they find themselves stuck in a rut, in a pit, with no hope of escaping. Perhaps they wish to cry, but they have long since run out of tears, those being replaced by naught but a sad, hardened expression. They might confront these feelings, perhaps failing, or they might curl away and hope those feelings will simply depart.

And yet, when these people return to our lives, they smile.

Perhaps some people do put on a mask of happiness. I don't know. I find it more likely that they have discovered a grand truth in life: that your circumstance does not need to steer your mood.

God didn't put us here to be miserable. He put us here to enjoy life. It is true we all have to face our trials, but that does not mean we need to be consumed by them. Through the Atonement, God and Christ can lift us up and help us become strong, no matter how many times we stumble, no matter how many times we are weak.

Perhaps it is hard to remember.

Perhaps it is hard to live.

But it is truth.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Isaiah 1:18 - "Come now, and let us reason together ..."

Welcome, welcome, my lovely readers! Today's thinkjoust has nothing to do with what you read, but with what you listen!

Honestly, for me, this could go either way. I absolutely love the sound quality you can find with headphones, as well as their greater durability. However, headphones are bulky and frankly inconvenient at the best of times, while unprofessional at the worst. Earbuds may not have as good sound quality, but they're just so inconspicuous and convenient, you know?

Of course, convenience has its downside. Over ten pairs of earbuds have met their respective demises while in my possession over the last year.

How, you ask?

Well, I've sat on pairs, stepped on pairs, gotten pairs caught in metal chair legs, crushed pairs, lost pairs, snapped pairs ... honestly, you'd think pockets would be far safer a place to store things. I actually sent an angry letter to my jeans company about this problem, but they informed me that lining pockets with titanium is neither comfortable, marketable, or even plausible. Ah, well.

But what do you think? Are there pros and cons to both I haven't considered?

Begin the thinkjoust in the comments below, or check out the poll in the right hand column, just below the advertisement!

EDIT: The poll will be up until the next Tuesday at midnight.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Adventure in All Things: Spicy Milkshake

Doctrine and Covenants 59:18 - "Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart ..."

This past weekend, a few of my friends invited me to go on an impromptu milkshake run at an easily-identified fast food chain by which I am most definitely not sponsored.

I'm usually a pretty decisive person, but when I was faced with this board of options, I was momentarily stumped. What the heck do I even want off of this ...

Wait ...

What is THAT?

Jalapenos? JALAPENOS?

I was torn. I like jalapenos. I like chocolate. But together? Jalapenos in a shake? It sounded strangely disgusting. I wasn't sure even I could handle it. If this is a thing, why haven't I ever heard of it?

And then, I decided. I grit my teeth.

All the other flavors are boring, anyway.

"And these shakes are half off, anyway," someone pointed out.

Yes. That.

So, very tentatively, I placed the straw in my mouth.


It was awesome.

What adventures have you had lately? Be sure to comment below?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Humility: Meta Post

The post is meta, you see, because I will be talking about the blog itself while blogging.

I recently made a really cool friend who just happens to be really into marketing, particularly through social media. After she became acquainted with my blog, she gave me her honest opinion about the layout I was using.

"It's horrible."

"Hey!" she said. "I never said that!"

Well, no matter what she or I said, my friend started giving me tips about how to optimize the format for greater reader retention and general easiness on the eye.

What a team!
Now, I am a writer. Therefore, I oftentimes need to go head to head against editors and test readers who, in the immortal words of "Weird Al" Yankovich, find my "prose dopey," From minor grammatical errors to full blown plot holes, I am often at the mercy of those who either know more than I, or, at the very least, see things I miss.

So, when someone who knows blogs offered me some free professional help, I took it.

This leads me to two points. First, you may notice the blog's layout, format, and design will be in flux for the next few days. Sorry if this becomes a bother!

Second, in order for me to excel and become stronger, I need to rely on other people. We all have that need, whether we lean on friends, family, countrymen, or even the Savior himself. As we seek to utilize the talents and skills others have to offer, we can improve our own standing in life and in our own individual talents. And one day, we'll have the opportunity to pass our own brand of assistance forward.

How have you been helped in the last week? Be sure to big up your benefactor in the comments below!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Moderation: D n' D (with Breaking News)

As you may have gathered from my previous posts, I like playing the table-top role playing game Dungeons and Dragons, or at least very similar games. I liked playing so much, at the end of last semester, I ended up participating in three different game sessions, each requiring a commitment of at least three hours a week.

I stopped liking D n' D.

It was too much. It began to feel like a chore. I had to set other things aside to keep those commitments and not let others down. I started to suspect my time could be used more productively. So, when the semester ended, I took a break.

Eventually, I roused myself enough to begin acting as the storyteller for another session here in the Spring. Just once a week, keeping it less than three hours every time. Here's our group, sans me.

I've found my passion once again.

There's nothing wrong with any of the activities we like, but when they are not controlled or exercised in moderation, we can burn out. I certainly did, and it was only when I took a step back and purged myself of all the strain I was feeling about it that I was able to enjoy it again. I know you, too, can begin to again enjoy the things you may have started to resent.

What's something you've gotten burned out on? Be sure to post in the comments below!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Throwback Thursday #26 - Conquering Self-Doubt

Today's feature was originally posted on October second of last year.

Click here to read Conquering Self-Doubt!

I suspect self-doubt is something all of us daily face. I'm not entirely sure if there was any particular challenge I was facing when I wrote the original post, but I know what I'm facing now. In regards to becoming a professional novelist, I have never been closer to outright victory, which also means I've never been closer to complete defeat. As I keep sending in queries, my pathway, like Schrodinger's cat, is somehow simultaneously leading me to success and failure. It all depends on the people at the other end of the line.

But that's all right! There are so many over-quoted ... ah, quotes speaking on this very subject. "Better to try and fail, than to never try at all." That kind of stuff. But I'm a lot more eloquent on the subject in the original post! Be sure not to miss it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Promises, Journals, and Harry Potter

One of the major projects I've been working on in conjunction with my blog and my novel(s) is the digitization of my mission journals. While I lived in Jamaica for two years, I kept a set of eight leather bound journals, which detailed and delved into the experiences and thoughts I had every single day from beginning to end. My current goal is to eventually take the highlights and pitch those as a novel themselves.

As of right now, it's quite a document! At my current progress, I have typed up about 484,542 words, give or take a few here and there. In comparison, if you were to read the same amount of words in the Harry Potter series from the first page, you would hit my count a good ten or so chapters into Order of the Phoenix

Now, I'm not saying my narrative is as grand or epic as Harry Potter by any means, but I'm coming up on the length. With one more volume and possibly an appendix to complete, I might just reach Half-Blood Prince. We'll see!

I just finished my seventh volume yesterday, publishing it privately on Kindle for my family to read. 

This particular volume described the time of my life when I first began to consider the type of person I wanted to be after the mission. During one of my many musings, I penned a list of fifteen "Obligations to Self," fifteen ideals I wished to live my life by.

I wanted to share these desires I have for myself with you today.

I will pursue and achieve my goals and dreams to the best of my ability.

I will pursue ambition, wealth, and fame to lighten others' burdens and let my light so shine.

I will seek to improve and increase my talents daily.

I will make smiling my first priority.

I will learn from my mistakes and vow not to make the same mistake twice.

I will think of others before myself.

I will be the kind of person I would want to be around.

I will be honest and fair.

I will be loyal to my friends.

I will count my enemies as my friends.

I will immediately forgive and seek forgiveness, regardless of the situation.

I will refrain from forcing others to endure the same wrong I have experienced.

I will keep all the commandments daily.

I will be a witness of Christ at all times.

I will focus every day on becoming more like Christ.

What do you think? Did I miss anything I should have added? Is your list different? What obligations have you made to yourself? Be sure to comment below!

Love you guys!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday: Night vs. Day

I've discovered there are two types of people in this world: early risers, and those who stray to the nocturnal.

I think it's easy to fear the dark. Such a mindset was likely ingrained in our ancestors way back before we had even come close to mastering the art of artificial light. However, with such mastery, night and day have become more obscured, as we humans can now basically function in either type of light no matter what we're doing..

As for me, I struggle with knowing where I stand on this. I know I'm more productive the rest of the day when I wake up early in the morning, but I also have a hard time getting to sleep before midnight. My 'days' are usually pretty long as a result, and I spend a lot of time in both environments.

But anyway, here's the real thinkjoust for all of you thinkjousters to thinkjoust about:

If you could only be awake during either the night or the day, which would you choose?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Time: Mountain Trail

You can't escape sometimes. The world grinds away, turning, spinning, pushing. You work, you play, you visit, you sleep, you wake, you begin anew. No time to break, no time to think, just time to do, do, do.

I made time to break yesterday.

I packed little for my trip. My wallet and keys. My phone, notably containing my scriptures. Some notes outlining the many personal goals I've set for myself. Once I had all I needed, I ascended a mountain, following a trail about halfway before finding a rock and sitting myself on it.

The view stretched on.

I sat up on that mountain and thought. I prayed a little. I thought some more. I gave myself time to make sure I was who I wanted to be, or at least heading on that path.

The phone buzzed when I was nearly finished. It was time for me to head back.

This time, I went back with a grin.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Patience: Epic Quest, a.k.a. Backseat

Once upon a time, there was a wedding in the family, and everyone was excited. "We should celebrate with BBQ!" became the general consensus.

So, I awoke the morning of with my tail nice and bushy to go pick up the anticipated meal. I made sure to rescue my brother from his castle so he could join me in my quest.

"Brother!" said I. "Behold, we seek for nourishment in the form of seasoned animal flesh!"

"Why, that sounds most marvelous, brother!" he said. "Let us ride at once!"

"Ride, good sir?" I inquired. "My steed is mechanical!"

"Then I shall ride, and you shall drive!"


And so we did. Upon arriving at the fair kingdom of My Heirs (though I admit they were someone else's), we met a man who most graciously offered us the long-sought-after meal.

"Yeah, ok," said the man. "Here's your order. That'll be with cash, or card?"

"Hark, brother!" said I. "What peculiar language this vagrant espouses!"

"Why, he must be from the North!" said my brother. "Denmark, perhaps?"

The man gave us many strange looks, likely because he had never before been in the presence of such wondrous grace and charm as we brothers exhibited. In all honesty, the poor sap likely never would again.

After the BBQ was loaded into my mechanical stallion, off we brothers continued, eventually arriving at the kingdom wherein the wedding was to be performed. To my great astonishment, when I went to retrieve the food, I learned the back seat of my steed had attempted to eat the BBQ, leaving its sauce all over its lips.

Excellent! I thought to myself. This means that my steed now has a robust flavor and, dare I say, scent! I'm sure all the ladies will appreciate this fortunate turn of events!

The jester of the land, however, had different ideas. 

"Let's clean it up," my father said.


Arriving at the main point, BBQ sauce had oozed all over the cracks in my back seat, requiring us to remove both pieces before spraying it with a hose. The seat itself was easy to remove, but the backrest proved incredibly difficult. We could see it was connected to the rest of the car with a series of hooks, but we could not lift the hooks over the other for the life of us.

Finally, we came upon the only solution readily apparent to us. Climbing into the trunk, we shoved!

And shoved!

And shoved!

And got a hook off!

And shoved!

And shoved!

And shoved!

And got the last hook off!

And realized the seat was still attached at the bottom.

But how? We couldn't figure it out. Finally, after much deliberation, we realized that the bolts connecting the seat belts to the car were the same bolts keeping the backrest down.


Though the car was eventually healed, we discovered our shoving in the face of no other apparent solution had warped one of the hooks, specifically the right one, leaving a massive gap leading down into the trunk.

It's hard to see, but the red circle marks the aforementioned gap, the blue circle marks  the metal upon which the seat usually  ... uh, sits, and the green circle is the seat ... uh, sitting on top of my car.
And so, alas, the game went.

I suppose you'll be able to connect the analogy with the scripture at the top of the post?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Commitment: My Sister's Wedding

I think there is something beautiful about two people committing to each other.

The world often tries to trick us into thinking that commitments are bad or scary or worthless, judging from the amount of media that spins around the intertubes and telenets. One night stands and cohabitation are presented as an optimal lifestyle, as the greatest path to joy.

Now, having never experienced either marriage or a one-night stand, I couldn't tell you how happy either would make me. I'm sure there are individuals who exercise their agency and find comfort in either activity. However, from a strictly objective stand point, even in only merely watching a couple agree to put each other first for at least the rest of their lives? That is simply wonderful.

My sister and her ex-fiance (technically true!) are now married. I spent the entirety of the day yesterday doing all I could to help and ease any of the planners' or participants' stress levels. I smiled as the two were officially united together.

I don't know yet when I will have the same opportunity, but I'm willing to be patient as long as possible. Anything that looks that good is worth waiting for.

And no, I'm not just talking about the cake. ;)

Love you guys! See you tomorrow!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Throwback Thursday #25 - He is Your Rearward

Today's Throwback comes from October first of last year.

Nowadays, I rarely speak in generalized terms about experiences I've had. My descriptions of the events in my life are usually pretty detailed. However, at the beginning of the blog, I had a habit of speaking in vague terms about things I didn't really want to get into. After all, while this is a blog about my life, I don't want to get too personal. The whole world doesn't need to know about every one of my mistakes.

Those vague posts were always met with mixed reactions, at least in my mind. Some people wanted to know what I was hinting at. Others, including myself, enjoyed how such posts allowed me to be more raw with my emotions. In addition, I always found it easier to be blatantly uplifting when I was descriptively lacking.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Sharpen Your Saw: Canoe Trip

My ward went on a canoe trip for FHE this past Monday, and it was a blast! I mean, look how much fun I'm having!

Mad props to my canoeing partner and photographer.
I was thinking about it after the trip, and I realized I rarely allow myself to do stuff like that. Too often do I set such things aside to continue fixing my journal or work on my novel or do homework or something like that. True, all these things are good and uplifting, but if I refuse such opportunities every time, well, I become a bit stagnant, I suspect.

Case in point, I nearly refused to go on the trip. I hemmed and hawed my confirmation right up until the day before, and even then I reached a point where I almost just deigned to appear at all. I'm grateful I didn't, especially for the camaraderie I ended up building with certain individuals.

Creating time for unique experiences, be they in nature or otherwise, is important. It sharpens your saw and allows you to work more effectively later. I'm noticed an increase in my productivity since that trip, and I can't wait until I have another experience that allows me to perform even better. Hopefully, now that I've recognized this for the hundredth time, I can actually apply it.

Love you guys! See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday: Pie vs. Cake

Isaiah 1:18 - "Come now, and let us reason together ..."

While it is true that I haven't had a cake for my own birthday in many a year, preferring birthday pies instead, I still like cake. Who doesn't, right?

While today's thinkjoust begs the question as to which dessert is more preferred, I am going to use the body of this post to recall a different, particular and ongoing thinkjoust that has acted as the center of many conversations between myself and my friends for even more years than I've had birthday pie.

I say, and many of my friends disagree, that cheesecake is a pie.

Those in the camp arguing that cheesecake is a cake usually rely upon the breakdown of the moniker itself. If it's called a cake, then it's a cake. My rebuttal argument is that urinal cakes are not dessert cakes, but this clever argument is very quickly ignored by my opponents for how amazingly spectacular it is.

My next statement is that pies have crusts and filling, while cakes lack crust and rise. Again, I have never heard a proper rebuttal to this, beyond someone telling me I'm being dumb and that something called a cake is a cake is a cake, and that's all there caking is to it.

I don't know who's right, I guess, but you guys can tell me which dessert you prefer overall! Be sure to comment below!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Admiration: Hatchery (VIDEO)

One of my residents (who has also been featured on this blog several times, including at this link) from my RA job last semester gave his mission farewell talk yesterday. One of my fellow RAs and I, yearning to see him, carpooled over to his church.

This handsome fellow has also been featured on this blog several times, including at this link.

The talk this former resident of mine delivered was amazing. I was grateful I'd come, and relished the opportunity to learn from him. Having served a mission myself, I know how simultaneously exciting and difficult preparing for a mission is. There he is, heading out regardless.

And there he actually is!

After his talk, we went over to his house to eat some food and catch up. I knew other people who'd come to support him as well, including another one of my former residents, and a small group of us ended up checking out the fish hatchery the family owns. It was really interesting trying to understand how the entire process works.

There they go!

At one point in our exploration, we discovered this strange phenomenon shown in the below video.

We had a hard time resolving our thinkjoust, so we approached someone who knew what they were talking about and asked why the fish were behaving in such a strange manner. We were informed that that sort of water contained a greater amount of oxygen, and therefore was more desirable to the fish.

So, I suppose neither of us were right.

Here's the fish-hatin' man himself, posing with some psychopath. This guy also appeared in a different post, here at this link.

Regardless, everyone knows I enjoy ribbing my friends, so here's the point. One person found something to admire about those derned fishes. The other person had nothing but scorn. SCORN, I SAY.

Just like my man's talk, it was easy to find things to admire about him and his message. Just like jumping fish, there are a lot of things, people, concepts, ideals for which we might initially find scorn.

I know I do, sometimes.

There was an instance recently when I went the long way around a beggar just so I wouldn't have to look him directly in the eyes and feebly protest that I had no cash (I didn't, but that's beside the point). What I should have done is be bold, be noble, perhaps ask him about his life, maybe offer to feed him, find out more about his views on life, process them, and become a better person because of it. That's what I wish I'd done, now that I look back.

So what can you admire today? Be sure to comment below!