Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Know Your Candidates: Jim Gilmore

Why I Started This New Feature

Following my rantings about Voldemort (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) last week, I thought long and hard about something I said.

As several commentators pointed out-- and one quite gleefully, I might add--I ended up talking about Voldemort even though I was telling people not to talk about him. However, I made it clear I was aware of the irony or hypocrisy, no matter how you see it. I personally felt like the following quote was far more important to the post's conclusion than anything else I said.

"Or, if you can't handle that, then spend as much time learning about [Voldemort] as you do learning about every single other candidate. Give them your time, too."

So, if I'm going to throw down such a challenge, I'll help you with it as well. Every week, I'm going to light a spotlight on an under-appreciated presidential candidate. I don't know how long I'll want to keep this as a feature on the blog, and I may grow bored of the concept within a week, but, for now, let's see where this takes us.

To start this second installment off, let's meet ... Jim Gilmore!

First, Jim wants to protect the right to bear weapons.

Second, Jim wants to end the war on terrorism by undermining the enemy's ideologies.

Third, Jim believes that America is no longer trusted or respected by its allies or enemies. He seeks to rectify that.

Fourth, Jim wants to track down every criminal immigrant and get them off the streets..

Fifth, Jim wants to increase the budget for America's defenses.

Sixth, Jim wants to cut taxes and create jobs.

Seventh, Jim wants to remove Obamacare with an alternate solution.

Eighth, Jim wants to attack climate change by removing regulations that force states and power companies to shift their focuses on solar and wind power.

What's My Opinion?

You really shouldn't care about my opinion. Get your own! It's worth way more than mine!

That being said, I'm not convinced that Jim can do everything he's promised. Or, at the very least, he's saying things that everybody kind of wants to happen, but nobody really has the power to actually do anything about it. For example, he wants to get rid of criminally illegal (illegally criminal?) immigrants. Well, shoot. I wouldn't mind a little less crime in our country. Too bad it's a big place with a lot of little hidey-holes, you know?

As it is, Voldemort and Gilmore are the only candidates I've half-seriously studied, so I won't lay down a solid opinion on old Jim just yet. Next week: perhaps a democratic candidate?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday #19 - Do You Eat Breakfast?

Last Week's Results: Cats vs. Dogs

Cats: 41.5%
Dogs: 41.5%
Neither: 8.5%
I don't want a pet: 8.5%

OH DANG I was not expecting that. A straight split down the middle. I'm interested to know what our 'Neither' voter wanted instead of a cat or a dog. A parakeet? A monkey? A porcelain figurine? Who knows?

I think breakfast and the eating thereof has produced a wide variety of philosophies pertaining to the matter.

First, you have the 'no breakfast' people. These people say that sleeping in an extra half hour is better than finding sustenance, and that they can always eat a big lunch to make up for it if they need to.

Second, you have the 'no lunch' people. These people like breakfast, but eat such a big meal in the morning they aren't particularly hungry later in the day.

Third, you have the 'brunch' people. These people aren't hungry first thing in the morning, so they eat a meal fairly late into it. At that point, they're not hungry enough for lunch, so they eat an early dinner later, and so on.

Lastly, you have the die-hard meal enthusiasts, who eat all the meals all day.

So, what kind of a person are you? Did I miss someone? Be sure to comment below, or add your voice to the poll on the right-hand side!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Open Arms: India Fest

My friends and I went to an India Festival this last weekend!

It was a fairly impromptu sort of thing. As I was feverishly rolling dice during a role-playing session, I got a call from my roommate, who asked if I wanted to go.

Sure! Why not? 

Upon arrival, I was immediately struck by the similarities between the Hindu faith and my own. They have a temple. They have laws of reverence. They follow a code that helps them determine what is acceptable eating. They have scripture filled with engaging stories, as well as a definable canon. They have traditions they keep, and they love what they do.

I know exactly what my religious beliefs are, but that doesn't mean I can't spend time learning about what other people cherish. I'm sometimes amazed by how little I know about the beliefs of my friends, my fellow humans, the way other people live their lives, and even about what we do have in common. I think if everyone took some time to really listen and pay attention to what everyone is saying around us, we'd walk away much the better.

So who are you going to learn from today?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Resilience: Flag Football

This last Saturday, I joined a band of brethren and got down and dirty playing flag football.

We lost horribly. We didn't even get a touchdown.

We didn't care. We just had fun. We stumbled over the rules and laughed. We dropped passes and laughed. We tripped and accidentally ran into our opponents and laughed. The one time I caught the ball, I panicked and ran backward to try to keep a rule unique to this particular brand of flag football.

Everyone laughed.

The point wasn't to win. The point was to get some exercise, to blow off some steam, to have some fun, to laugh at our wins and even our losses.

There are some things in life that grant you automatic successes. What are some things you do?

Friday, September 25, 2015

How to NOT Keep up with the Joneses

I have lived a very blessed life.

I have made friends in every place I've ever lived. For the few places I've lived longer than a few months, I've drawn people into my heart and locked them in, vowing never to let go.

The thing is, life is busy, and whenever I move, I get a whole new life. I have new responsibilities, new employment, new neighbors, I find new friends ... The more I embed myself into my new life, the harder it is to keep juggling everything that was once part of my old life.

I have friends I made in Michigan that I very deeply cherish. For various reasons, we don't talk as much as I'd like. I have friends I made in North Carolina, some of whom diligently wrote me on my mission to Jamaica. Now, I sometimes see the in passing on social media. I have friends I made on my mission, in the MTC, in Arizona, in Jamaica. I try as hard as I can to keep up with them, to see how things are going, but, all too often, my current life pulls me away.

I have school. I have work. I have friends. I write a blog. I'm writing several novels. I have issues and problems I'm trying to work through. And, worst of all, I genuinely feel guilty when I can't give someone as much time as they want from me. 

Sometimes, though, blessings do come. One of my good friends from my last area in Jamaica was in Utah recently, and we had the chance to hang out.

Even though time was short and precious, I am grateful we had that experience.

One day, when we're all in the next life, I imagine we'll have all the time in the world to hang out with the beloved friends and family we discovered while down here on this earth. And I can't wait for that opportunity.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday #41 - Nighttime Walk

Today's throwback comes to us from November 5 of last year.

I imagine Change and Cherish, as a blog, is going to go through some face lifts as the years go by. I could easily imagine it becoming more of a newlywed blog, a daddy blog, or even a career blog.

Despite this, some of my favorite posts to write have been quiet, more personal, I wrote a lot of those in the early days, but haven't given myself as much time to do so recently. To be honest, those kind of posts weren't very popular, so I've shied away from doing many more of them.

Throwback Thursday, on the other hand, is for reflection. It's a time to look back and see how far we've come. And that's why I've chosen this particular blog post to remember.

Click here to read Sharpened Thoughts: Nighttime Walk!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Stop Talking About Donald Trump

For my non american readers, I apologize for this tangent.

For my american readers, I acknowledge the hypocrisy in this post. Just bear with me a moment.\

I don't particularly like Donald Trump. I'm sure we would get along swimmingly if we did meet in person, if only because I consider myself an amiable and forgiving chap. Regardless, while I can't speak of my personal relationship with Trump, I can mention some things that I don't like about his campaign.

Trump loves insulting his fellows. To be fair, this is generally a staple in most American elections, so we can't blame him for that. The following link goes to an article outlining everyone he's dissed since he began his campaign, current to at least the publication date.

The thing is, Trump knows how to bite, but he can't handle it when someone else bites back. We all know about his feud with Megyn Kelly, but I think this following article will help fully demonstrate how incredibly thin-skinned and sensitive he really is. And just to be clear, I disagree with the article's title following the comma.

I mean, I could understand one disgruntled tweet, but over thirty? The man is 69, and yet he's staying up until 4:30am because he was so angry he couldn't sleep?

Finally, to drive my point home, an article was recently released outlining some of Trump's latest intentions.

If this guy is as rich as he claims, then he doesn't need the money from this lawsuit. He's just lashing out so he can nurse his delicately fragile ego.

This is not a man we are dealing with. This is a man-child, a bully, someone who talks big and hits hard, but cringes and whines if someone so much as turns him a disapproving eye. I don't want a blustery cry-baby as the leader over a major world power, least of all over my country. He seems more like a political parody than an actual potential candidate. If you want to see an example of what I'm talking about, check out this video.

But there's a reason why Donald is at the forefront of everybody's mind. It's a problem I'm technically perpetuating with this very post.

Everyone keeps talking about him.

We, as humans, are fascinated with real-life drama. We read all about celebrities' personal lives, we watch videos outlining the latest controversies, we read about Donald Trump because he's a madman that's funny to read about and watch.

The media latches on to that. They get money for every article we click on, for every video we watch, and so they are doing their very best to pump out as much new controversy as they can to pump as much money out of their Donald Trump media franchises as they can. If we treated Donald Trump like we do Vermin Supreme in that video up there, and we didn't take him seriously at all ...

... then the media would stop making him the center of attention.

There are so many excellent and qualified candidates out there, and nobody even knows their names. They get no media attention because the Donald is hogging all the airtime. The worst thing is, he knows that, and he's milking that for all its worth.

So I have a challenge for you all today.

I know I just invited you to read several articles about Trump, but I now want to invite you to stop. Don't look at anything about Trump. Don't give the media pageviews. Don't suggest to any major networks that Trump is worth talking about. Or, if you can't handle that, then spend as much time learning about Trump as you do learning about every single other candidate. Give them your time, too.

As for me, I'm done. For the duration of the GOP debates, I will not look at another Trump article, I will not write about Trump, and I will only speak of him to encourage my fellows to go on a Trump media fast. Let's get him out of the forefront of our minds. There are more important things to focus on.

This is Zachary James, signing off until tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday #18 - Cats vs. Dogs

ATTENTION: The poll's position on the right-hand column has been moved to below the advertisement. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Last Week's Results: Tests vs. Papers

Tests: 42.6%
Papers: 42.6%
Neither!: 14.6%

Apparently, we got a fairly even split this time. I predict this week's thinkjoust will produce a similar result ...

I have found that many dog lovers feel somewhat superior to cat lovers. That is because I am a cat lover myself, and many people feel the need to inform me that my interest is misplaced.

In my mind, dogs are needy. They require as much attention as a spoiled toddler. They don't understand social conventions, they get in your grill, they can't be left by themselves for longer than a few hours ... While I can imagine owning a dog in the future, I doubt I would be easily persuaded to be its number one caretaker.

Cats, on the other hand, are more independent. When I want to be left alone, the cat leaves me alone. When the cat wants to be left alone, I leave it alone. The cat cleans itself and buries its own waste. The cat and I both believe we are superior, and we find each other foolish for thinking otherwise.

But what do you think? Be sure to add your voice to the poll on the right, just below the ad!

Monday, September 21, 2015

15 Seconds: The Aftermath of the Tattoo Post

Alma 46:8 - "Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one."

Two weeks ago today, I was feeling a little stressed.

You see, I had gone out to shoot the tube (which I recapped at this link, so click here) that day. As such, I hadn't quite finished the blog post for that day. To make matters worse, I had decided the post was going to be about my sister, and I was playing a desperate game of phone tag hoping she would approve what I'd written.

It was about 5:00pm when I finally posted the post, titled "What I Think About Tattoos." (You can click this link to read that, if you'd like.) I really liked the post, but I was saddened regardless. I suspected that the holiday and the lateness of the hour would make it one of the least-viewed posts in Change and Cherish history. It's a shame, I thought to myself. It really is a good post. It has a good message, one I wish a lot of people would hear.

About half an hour later, I went back to the Blogger interface to make sure everything was in order. After all, I do have a reputation regarding posting broken links over social media and all that.

Wow! I thought. The tattoo post has 55 views! That was actually a very impressive number, over five times the views I thought the post would receive.

But it didn't stop there.

It's kind of hard to see any details, but if you click on the picture, you'll be able to see more clearly.

I watched with utter bewilderment as that post quickly surpassed many previous view count records. Within hours, the post had even surpassed my heavily-advertised 1st Anniversary Recap video, and come the next day, the post had collected nearly three times as many views as that video.

Over 400 views in a day. It was a massive achievement for this humble little blog.

But then, I began to get a little too excited.

400 views? I thought. People are sharing this thing, spreading the news; that means new readers are coming into contact with my blog! Maybe I'll have more daily view counts on average now! 

And I was right. My daily view count did improve. But not as dramatically as I'd initially expected.

I certainly had new readers (and welcome, you beautiful crop!), and my daily view count average over the past hundred days or so increased by about six views a day. But I was still disappointed. Near the birth of this blog, it was a miracle if I received more than twenty views on a single post. Following the advent of the tattoo post, I was becoming disappointed when certain of my posts broke fifty views. Well, that's good, I would think. But it's not the tattoo post.

I only recently recognized I was being supremely ungrateful.

I had new readers. My blog was seeing unparalleled success. I was still finding the same joy in writing that I always have. But I had placed myself under the shadow of one of my previous successes. I had allowed myself to fear I would never garner that same level of interest again. And that was turning me away from recognizing the blessing God bestowed upon me.

So, I have since begun to whistle a new tune. You faithful individuals who read all the way to the end of each post, I thank you, especially if you're here because of that monumental tattoo post.

I'll see you tomorrow for the thinkjoust.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Why Dating Is Superior to Job Hunting (with Added Commentary)

For me, it keeps coming back to, "What do I want to do?"

I know what that is. It's just not feasible.

So, I keep asking myself, "What do I want to do so I can do what I want to do?"

As I've been preparing to apply for grad school, I keep wondering if I'm looking into the right program, if I even want to go. But if I don't go into grad school, I wonder to myself, What can I even do with an English major?

So, I few days ago, I went to an on-campus meeting for individuals with budding aspirations in HR.

I didn't think about taking a picture of anything until after everything ended.
At the end of the meeting, I was even more confused than I was before.

HR might be a good fit for me. I don't know. I'm someone who has to really try something before I commit to it, but even if I give HR a nibble, I'm still making a long-term commitment doing something I might not necessarily enjoy. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this mentality was true for every single job I could ever apply for.

One of my good friends happened to independently attend the same meeting. As we were talking afterward, I spouted off a strange analogy.

I like dating because I'm able to weigh what I don't like and what I adore about a person without necessarily making any real commitment to a full-on relationship with them. As I learn certain things about the people I date, then I'm able to offer educated prayers and consult with the Lord about things.

The thing about seeking for a career is that I can't weigh anything about what I think about potential employment opportunities. I can't pray to the Lord about specific pros and cons to each option, because I don't even know them myself!

In this sense, I think, finding employment is more of a trust exercise than even dating is. And so, as the months slip away, I know I will need to lean heavily on my support.

Hey! I wrote a commentary about this post on February 11, 2016. Click here to read it!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Take the Plunge: Shooting the Tube

I'm not much of a, "Let's get out there and do something crazy," kind of guy. I'm more of a, "I want to stay in and read a book," kind of guy.

Because of this mentality, I often have a habit of turning people down whenever they want me to get out there and do something crazy. "Naw," I'll say. "Not my cup of cake." Inevitably, my friends will return bursting with stories about how awesome their crazy thing was, and, to my dismay, I'll wish I'd gone with them.

Recently, I decided to be more active in taking life by the horns. I'll go to football games, I decided. I'll accept invitations to play recreational sports, I'll be willing to get out there and do something crazy.

This past Labor Day, I had the chance to do just that.

We went, and we shot the tube.

Basically, a natural stream flows down this mountain into a man made pipe. When you take several pieces of wood and metal and block this pipe's entrance, the water begins to build up on the other side. Taking the thing you brought to ride on, like an inner tube, a boogie board, or even a sledding disc, you sit in the tube and wait for someone to pull up on the blockage.

Whoosh! Down this tube you, well, shoot, blasting down it in a wave of water before crashing down into another body of water at the other end.

It was super legit, super intense, and I had an absolute BLAST.

Again, like always, I was hesitant to commit to going. However, in the end, I walked away feeling rather pleased with my decision.

My challenge to all of you is to find opportunities like this. You may be like me, preferring to sit at home and peruse blog posts until the cows come home, but you can do that anytime. Find something you wouldn't normally be able to do from the comfort of your own home, and then get out there.

Ready for this title drop?

Go on. Take the plunge.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday #40 - Surprise Party

Today's throwback comes to us from November 4 of last year.

This party may have been unheralded, but good golly, I'll give these awesome people another due chance to shine!

Even today, I'm impressed by acts like the one described in the original post. What's more, I see them happening all the more often. Back in November, I thought I was seeing a rare act of charity. Now, I recognize that the world truly is just a kind place, if you look at it properly.

Click here to read the original post, Two Mites: Surprise Party! It is worth the gander!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Modern-Day Parable: Hectic Campus

I liked the spring and summer semesters over here. Campus was quiet, you saw more individuals than you did crowds, you had more silence to think into ...

Of course, that all changed when fall semester started. 

Walking through the library recently prompted some amount of rage on my part. I'd already been struggling with finding a good internet connection, a near impossible task considering the thousands of people trying to use the school's wifi at the same time. When I saw all these individuals milling around and doing whatever it was they were trying to do, I felt a bit like my country had been invaded by an opposing army. 

I staked my claim here long ago! I thought. Who are all of you to take a break and then come back to school like you own the place? Get out of here!

I knew I was being stupid, of course. They were paying for the same privileges I was.

That, of course, got me thinking about the parable told in Matthew 20. As always, the link is up there at the very top. Be sure to hit me up with any comments or questions! And don't forget the poll!

*aka The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday #17 - Tests vs. Papers

Print: 62.5%
Audio: 25%
eBooks: 12.5%

Well, looks like all of you all prefer the classical taste! Given my plans to begin the process of self-publication this January, I might be in trouble.

I think you all know which I prefer.

Tests, obviously!


No, seriously, I'm a writer. I like writing papers a whole lot more than I like taking tests.

I thought of this thinkjoust while I was signing up for the GRE. I may or may not be possibly maybe sometimes sort of probably at times be going to grad school this next year. This means, of course, I need to take a test. You'll probably hear more about that later.

Either way, I like papers because I feel as though they more accurately demonstrate my knowledge of things. I may not know everything off the top of my head--in fact, I rarely know anything off the top of my head--but I can capture my understanding of the things I've learned when I'm given ample time and resources to write it all down.

For me, tests are more like memory games. Tests seem interested in determining how many random trivia facts I've picked up, even though I will never need to know such facts off the top of my head in a real-world application, anyway. Even professors have to study their material before they teach it.

I don't know. I obviously have a chip on my shoulder. So what do you think? Be sure to comment below, or vote on the poll at the top of the page!

Monday, September 14, 2015

BYU v. Boise: An Easily-Distracted Fan Recap

This past weekend, I went to the BYU vs. Boise State football game hosted at the Lavell Edwards Stadium right here in Provo. LET'S HEAR US ROAR!

And now, the overly long recap nobody was asking for!

DISCLAIMER: I totally didn't keep a good record of what the score was as I was doing these tangential things, so forgive me if my play-by-play of the game itself is a little off.

I have a habit of being fashionably late to things, and the game offered no exceptions. When I finally left my apartment (literally a five minute walk from the stadium), my phone was telling me that BYU was up by 7. Woot, I thought.

I came into sight of the field about five minutes into the first quarter. It didn't take me long to realize that, while I was fashionably late, I was also unfashionably dressed; I was wearing a bright blue shirt, and it was Whiteout Day. I felt a little like an idiot purposefully trying to draw attention to himself for no good reason.

Not only did I not know it was Whiteout Day, I wasn't entirely sure where the student section was. I kept calling the friends I was supposed to meet up with, hoping they would pick up, but they didn't. It was as I was seeking to hide my shame and find my friends that I ran into a solution for both. A couple of my excellent RA friends were chilling at the 50-yard mark, and they happened to have an extra white shirt for me. We parted ways shortly thereafter, but I had another goal in mind ...

I really wanted a CougarTail, aka A Big Ol' Honking Maple Bar, to share with the friends I was supposed to be meeting. Of course, I was beginning to doubt I would find them, so I decided to seek out the friends who gave me the white shirt, instead.

It was about the second quarter at this point, and I saw the Marching Band gearing up to rumble. I was in a marching band once upon a time, so I excitedly snapped this shot.

I was pulling out my phone to call my benefactors when I accidentally ran into them again on the other 50-yard line. They denied my offer to share my Big Ol' Honking Maple Bar, but they certainly didn't mind posing for the most excellent of selfies.

I'd actually purchased the BOHMP from another former coworker of mine, and realized I'd forgotten to properly record the encounter (this was a recurring theme of the night). So I went back to prove to all of our other former coworkers that we were the fir rill dill. At this point, I believe I'd circled the entire stadium at least three times.

It was about 10-7 at halftime at this point. I had given up on meeting up with my original group of friends, and I still had a couple of other individuals I wanted to meet as well. 

Of course, then the marching band came on, and I had to seek a better view near the top.

That was when I discovered that these stairs are the worst. My massive feet wouldn't fit on the shrunken middle steps, meaning I had to stride extra powerfully to avoid stumbling or tripping. Why would anyone build these non-euclidean steps? I thought angrily. Then, I realized that people with bigger feet generally have longer legs, which the architect probably anticipated. I thought that was clever, but also rather discriminatory. Maybe I didn't want to use my impressive pace to avoid half of the proffered stairs, eh?

I ran into a whole bunch of friends during halftime, but had too many distractions to remember to properly record them all. Sorry, guys! Either way, now that the third quarter had begun, I vowed to pay more attention. After all, I'd spent most of the first half running laps through the stadium between plays so security didn't bust me for loitering. So, I moved toward my ROTC friends over by the cannon.

I'd told them I would say hello, but when I neared the sideline, I realized they were standing a good distance from the stands. Not only that, but they were wearing earplugs. I yelled their names a couple of times, but I got no response. Finally, I sent them this text.

Then I sent them this picture.

I stayed there for a while, hiding from security behind a lost Boise fan, before getting antsy and moving down the stands again.

Of course, Mangum's propensity to throw crazy long bombs down the field gave us another touchdown. We were definitely behind at that point, but you could feel the morale in the stadium pump up.

I'd finally worn down my restless nature enough to want to sit down at this point, and who should I run into but my roommate's girlfriend! She was kind enough to loan me a ticket with a specific seat number, which I didn't have because of my student status.

I ended up sitting next to three children who had apparently participated in over three football games that day. I was impressed with their devotion to the sport. After about five minutes, I got bored just sitting down and struck out back near the field. Around that point, the fourth quarter began, and for those of you who know how the game went, things started to get seriously intense.

I decided to work my way back over to my ROTC friends. Right around when I met back up with that lost Boise fan, BYU scored another touchdown, inching its way toward matching Boise's own collection of points. I wanted to get a video of the cannon going off, but I fumbled and ended up just getting a picture of the smoke.

Boise had the ball, but our defense was slamming on them. It didn't take long for possession to turn over to us. Then, all of a sudden, on the fourth down ...

MY CAMERA IS NO GOOD. I don't know what happens to the reel right when the catch is made, but I somehow managed to time that perfectly. That was the game-winning TD right there, but we weren't even done yet.

It's hard to tell, but the fans started to light the stadium with their cellulars at this point.

The ROTC were getting ready to do their 28 push-ups for the 28 points the team had scored at that point. I actually took a video of them doing those 28 push-ups, but then, Boise threw an interception, and we got another touchdown. It was ridiculous. So, the ROTC had to go again, and I took another video.

Of course, the fans were ecstatic at this point. A whole heap of them rushed the field, fireworks started going off, and many tears were shed.

I chilled in the stadium for a while before finally hiking home. For the rest of the night, I heard shouts and cheers, and would occasionally join in the revelry by opening my door, conveniently facing the street, and joining in. My ROTC roommate eventually came home, tired but as thrilled as I.

It was quite the night, my friends, quite the adventure indeed. If you were there or watching, be sure to let me know what your favorite part of the night was!

Pray over your fields, my friends, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Waiting: Storytelling Festival (Part Last)

The third performer of the event was a man by the name of Tim Lowry. There were many reasons why he was my favorite of the night.

For starters, he was from the South, and hearing his timbre gave me feelings of welcome homesickness. He was familiar with several African dialects, and his perfect delivery of Gullah heavily reminded me of the Jamaican Patois with which I've become so familiar. He was also incredibly hilarious, but, above all, he reminded me of me.

Well, he kind of reminded me of me. The story he told was from his time as a new adult, when life was big and offered too many options. He didn't know where to go, or what to do, or how to get there.

So, he went for a drive. He drove and drove and drove until he accidentally stumbled upon an exotic animal zoo buried deep in someone's deep-fried backyard (it makes sense in context). He wandered around this zoo, speaking with the zookeeper, learning about him and his life and how he'd gotten all those animals to rural Georgia. Finally, as ol' Tim left, the zookeeper imparted on him some wisdom.

"Son, don't wait thirty years to do what you want to do!"

We all heard this statement. I'm sure that impacted many people strongly, but it hit me like a crashed passenger jet. I'm not sure I know what I want to do--yet--but I sure as heck don't want to wait thirty years to do it. This train of thought hasn't led me anywhere yet, but it sure got me going.

So, what are you waiting for?

Speaking of waiting, don't miss out on adding to this week's thinkjoust! Do you like e-books, paper books, audio books, or something else? Add your voice to the poll at the top of the page, and let your voice be heard!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Stepping Back: Storytelling Festival (Part 1)

Psalms 90:9 - "For all our days are passed away ... we spend our years as a tale that is told."

My friends and I went to the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival this past Friday! It was sick!

I had an absolute blast. True, I only went to but one of the events, but the five storytellers there really opened up my mind to a whole new train of possibilities.

We heard about cross-generational differences between an immigrant and her daughter. We heard about a fearless pigeon who saved the lives of the 77th division. We heard about a deep-fried zoo and an enthusiastic baptist preacher. We heard about the tender moments surrounding a young family. We heard about what it was like to own a party telephone line. I even had the chance to watch--and sometimes understand--an ASL interpreter!

We laughed, cheered, clapped, and, at some points, I even teared up.

It was bizarre, though. Why? I wondered. Why are all these people here? We all paid decent money to come and sit and watch a group of individuals come up and talk at us for two hours. Out there, in the streets, there were movie theaters and bowling and mini golf and laser tag and video games and gyms and all sorts of things, just beckoning for our attention.

And yet, we chose to come, take a few steps back from life, and think about things.

As I left, I couldn't stop thinking about how I wish there were more events like this available out there in the world. Of course, I also couldn't stop thinking about that wise old Southern gentleman. But I'll talk about him tomorrow ...

To be continued ...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Throwback Thursday #39 - Should vs. Want

Hey you! Yes, you! Don't forget to add your voice to the poll on the right, there! I care about what you think!

Today's throwback comes to us from November 1 of last year.

I feel like the experience I outline in the original post was one of the most important journeys I had coming back from Jamaica. The philosophy I was taught was very freeing for me, and leaving that counseling session gave me a lot of strength to do things I might not have otherwise. For many months, this was a post I personally referred to whenever similar topics would come up in conversation.

I won't jabber on too long, so click here to read Should vs. Want!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Intense Belated Frozen Movie Review

I hate spoilers. I don't like knowing endings before I reach them, I don't like knowing plot twists before I can attempt to predict them, I don't even like knowing about a character before I'm officially introduced to them in the media itself.

With that being said, *MILD SPOILERS AHEAD*

Of course,I just don't like putting out a huge effort to watch movies. Either way, even when I hear about a movie I really want to watch, it usually takes me several years to ever sit down and watch something. I say all this because, honestly? I really was interested in watching Frozen when I first returned from Jamaica, but it didn't take me long to know everything about it.

In less than a few months, I knew which source of love would solve the problem. I knew which character was the real bad guy. I even knew about the snowman and the rock people.

So, when my friends finally sat me down to watch this thing, I decided to turn my critical eye not toward the plot or the delivery, but on the aspects which I felt have had the biggest cultural impact since the movie's release - namely, everything about Elsa.

Oh, and just so you know, I loved the movie. Now that that's out there, let's sally forth.

For starters, I understand why Elsa's personality was so, well, cold (Ha!). She was incorrectly taught, from a very young age, to suppress her emotions. There's a ton of literature out there criticizing her parents' poor parenting style, so I'll gloss over that, but shoot! It would have been nice for mom and dad to, I don't know, do something about how miserable the family was becoming because of their constant attempts to separate and control everyone, but hey! Go them, yeah?

Regardless, so Anna isn't allowed to know about Elsa's ice powers. That's fair. I can imagine they would worry that young Anna might pester young Elsa into breaking her promise. However, as they grew older, and Anna demonstrated growing responsibility, why couldn't she know about them then? And besides, Anna pestered Elsa enough as it was, so ... I guess that failed. 

Anyway, all these factors come together to explain why Elsa is so frigid (Ha!) in the first act of the movie. All right, then. That's great. But that doesn't explain why Elsa became the breakout character of the entire ensemble!

I don't blame Elsa for her inability to cope with problems; she'd been taught poorly her entire life. However, because of this inability, she came across as unlikable to me. I mean, we see her expressing mild acts of joys at the coronation, like in the chocolate scene, so it's unreasonable to assume she couldn't have felt like she could express those milder emotions around Anna before. She purposefully shuts Anna out of everything... for what? And she was totally going to tell Anna about her powers following "Love is an Open Door," anyway, so why was it such a big deal that she could't say anything until it was dramatically significant?

Of course, a lot of reviewers cite Elsa's story as an example of empowerment. I didn't see it. Elsa is continually constrained, throughout the entire piece, by what her well-meaning but ignorant parents told her to do. We see her 'freeing' herself in "Let it Go," but after that song, she still fears she lacks control, she still strikes out when pressed by someone who loves her, she still struggles to properly express herself. Elsa's empowerment does not come from her suddenly deciding she's not going to be held back by social constraints. When she decides that, midway through the movie, she nonetheless is sucked right back into the cycle. For me, her character arc wasn't about empowerment, but about trust, trust she'd never before built. And that's why I felt like the movie was more about Anna. That's why I feel like Anna was the person we were supposed to emulate.

Anna was my favorite character, hands-down. She was smart, spunky, full of cheer, and fun to watch in any setting. And it was her character arc that I felt universal. In the first act, Anna was torn between pining for her sister's love and being angry that her sister had shut her out. These two conflicting emotions continued on throughout the piece. Elsa had consistently turned Anna away, striking out at her at least twice, and had done very little to prove her love for her sister. Anna struggled throughout the movie to prove the love she did have, and when she had every right to give up on Elsa, she nonetheless chose to give everything for her.

So, yes. The movie does have the message of, 'Be yourself! Don't hold back!' But, for me, I feel like the movie was more about, 'Trust your loved ones! Don't give up!' Yes, there may not be an incredibly catchy song to match that theme (I mean, "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" is arguably that song, but it's admittedly not as catchy as "Let it Go"), but I feel like we shouldn't aspire to be like Elsa as much as we should aspire to be like Anna. I had a hard time relating to the parents and Elsa's obfuscating philosophies, but I completely understood how hard it is to keep loving someone when they knock you down again and again. I think, in the state of the world today, it's easier to be yourself than ever before. But, in the state of the world today, it's harder to love than ever before.

I realize I may have thrown down some fairly controversial opinions here. If you think I'm wrong, be sure to comment below! Love you guys! See you for the throwback tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday #16 - eBooks vs. Print Books

Last Week's Results: Can Girls Initiate Romantic Relationships?

I'm a Guy, and Yes: 56.3%
I'm a Girl, and Yes: 31.3%
I'm a Girl, but No: 12.3%

Shoot, the first two groups should get together. I'd love to here more from the opposition, but not too many people left comments. Y'all should comment, people!

So! I don't have too much to say about this one. Do you prefer printed books, or do you prefer digital copies?

I personally have read more eBooks than I have printed books in the last year. The ratio may be above 7:1. I find this somewhat ironic, seeing as how I used to vehemently curse the eBook market for its practice of over-saturation. Recently, though, I find the convenience of having an entire library on my phone hard to beat. What's more, I may soon be entering the eBook market myself.

On the flip side, there's just something about physical books that add to the magic of the experience. The smell, the texture, the signs of wear and tear that suggest true love has been exerted during many good reading sessions ... Ah, yes.

So, what do you think? Be sure to comment, and be sure to throw your voice up on the poll, there!

Monday, September 7, 2015

What I Think About Tattoos

Today I wanted to talk about the tattoo my sister recently got.

It's pretty well known that Mormons like myself don't usually procure tattoos, so when my sister revealed she'd gotten one, a couple of my good friends asked me what I thought about. They weren't accusing, of course, just curious, and the questions helped me ponder.

For starters, tattoos are not against the commandments of God. If I were to go into a temple reccomend interview sporting a tattoo, yet living an outstandingly pure life, I would be golden.

It is true that prophets have encouraged Mormons not to receive tattoos, but when can anyone remember a general authority speaking out on the subject in a general conference? No, we hear about subjects like the Law of Chastity, the Word of Wisdom, Tithings and Offerings, and other things far more important to our spiritual sanctity. I think it's easy to focus on things like tattoos because the world can see them, but it's also easy to hide those other things.

For my sister particularly, that tattoo represents a hard-fought war. I can't imagine that she would ever want to charge back into battle when she has that to focus on.

I love my sister. And I'm happy for her, tats and all.