Monday, February 29, 2016

The Theory of the "Only Sane Person" and What It Means for Politics, Relationships, and Opinions

One of my favorite articles on is Only Sane Man, more accurately described as Only Sane Person.

The concept is actually pretty simple. In a fictional setting, you may have a cast of characters who are all nuts or totally bonkers. Then you have Bob. There is nothing interesting or notable about Bob, save for the fact he's the only person aware of how INSANE everything is around him. He is the Only Sane Man.

The Only Sane Person exists in real life, too. The thing is, the Only Sane Person is more a state of mind than an actual identification. More often than not, YOU think you're the Only Sane Person. Remember that friend who always questions the intelligence of someone's zany stunt? Or the sibling who prefers to watch your family execute those wacky shenanigans than actually participate?

DISCLAIMER: This picture is a dramatic representation and not an accurate portrayal of my friend group.

Come on, friend, you may think. Yeah, this zany stunt may be somewhat dangerous, but think about how much FUN you're missing out on! 

Or maybe it's with your family. Come on, Sibling. These wacky shenanigans may embarrassing to you, but think of the memories we're making!

Because you have good reasons for acting and thinking the way you do, it only makes sense that your friends or family members who act and think differently are the insane ones. After all, you are who you are because of a series of very logical actions and conclusions.

And thus we see the problem with modern-day politics (and everything else, for that matter).

I genuinely believe that every presidential candidate thinks they're the Only Sane Person running for office. They have spent their lives building belief systems about American policies, and after much thought, conclude that their opinions are the most right. They go to debates thinking, How can anyone not agree with me? Everything I say makes perfect sense!

But everyone thinks their belief systems are the most correct. That's why people get so angry over politics and religion and the like. The way I view things makes the most sense! Why don't you agree with me? How can you not agree with me? YOU MUST BE CRAZY.

The Only Sane Person mentality is a major flaw in our collective thinking. If we are prone to assuming everyone else is insane, then we are unable to foster understanding and acceptance.

LISTEN to EVERYONE. Try to see both sides of every argument. Give everyone a chance to speak. Don't shut people down or undermine their opinions. If we can all stop thinking like we're the Only Sane Person, then maybe the contention and rancor so prevalent in this society can finally die the death for which I'm hoping.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

What You Taught Me About Freedom of Speech

So goes the headline.

Quite frankly, I thought more readers would deny they still have the right to Free Speech. Instead, everyone claimed the opposite. Even better, every commentator raised good points that I didn't previously consider.

For starters, though Freedom of Speech is alive and well, it is threatened. It seems our nation is split down the middle in regards to political correctness. Some people believe in nothing but political correctness, but others constantly vilify their opponents. It seems there are very few vocal supporters for a more moderate approach, like good old-fashioned tact.

And sometimes, just because you have Freedom of Speech doesn't mean you should always use it. So many people jump into debates and discussions without having any idea what the issues or sides are. Some people seek to intimidate or drown opposing voices by blustering about and tearing down others. If you foster nothing but confusion or frustration, back take some time to learn as much of the story as you can before diving back into the fray.

As for me, I've always felt like I have Freedom of Speech, but that's mainly because I've never been worried about defending my understanding or understanding others' defenses.

My challenge today is for anyone who might feel their voice is oppressed. Raise it anyway. If someone challenges you, defend yourself and challenge them right back. You'll find your Freedom of Speech in that very moment.

Top Comments

Friday, February 26, 2016

Do You Know the Bechdel Test?

Take your favorite movie, TV show, book, anything fictional, it doesn't matter. Now ask these questions.

1.) Does your favorite work of fiction have two women in it,
2.) who talk to each other,
3.) about something other than men?

'Men' could mean husbands, brothers, sons, other family members, co-workers, love interests.

Did you answer 'yes' to all the above questions? If you couldn't, then your favorite work of fiction fails the Bechdel test.

The author of this comic admits she was actually referring to the Bechdel test.
The Bechdel test was originally conceived back in 1985 by Alison Bechdel and Liz Wallace. The point of the test was to assist entertainment-seekers in determining if the women in their chosen media are strong characters in their own right.

Everyone knows I'm not much of a cinephile, but I've watched six movies that were released sometime in the past year. Here are the results on each of these. (NO SPOILERS AHEAD)

Avengers: Age of Ultron - Barely passed. The only time two women spoke and didn't talk about a man was when Black Widow and Hawkeye's wife talked about the latter's unborn baby.

Tomorrowland - Passed. Casey and Athena have multiple conversations about Tomorrowland and Athena's status.

Inside Out - Passed. Joy and Sadness talk about Riley more than anything else.

Jurassic World - Failed. Claire talks to the boys' mother about the boys, and she talks to her assistant about the boys.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 - Passed. Katniss speaks with several female characters about the war and about her feelings regarding the future.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Barely passed. Rey and Maz talk about Rey's future, and Rey and Leia have a short, similar conversation as well.

To be honest, I actually expected more of these films to fail. However, the Bechdel test doesn't just serve to demonstrate the strength of female characters, it also raises the question about how women are portrayed in film in general.

Inside Out and Tomorrowland are the two strongest examples of female characters acting independently from their relationships with male characters. Mockingjay comes in at a close third. But then we have Star Wars, which some people contend didn't pass the test, and then Avengers, which barely squeaked by at all.

For me, the most important thing about the Bechdel test is that it reveals issues with our modern society. For all our talk about equality, why is it so hard to find films that not only pass the Bechdel test, but also encompass it?

I hope you were enlightened by this nifty little trick. I first learned about the Bechdel Test from (my favorite website), though you can find more information on Wikipedia.

Useful Notes / The Bechdel Test (TV Tropes)
Bechdel Test (Wikipedia)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Party Crashers - Throwback Commentary #59

This was one of the funniest experiences of my life. Crashing an opposing University's event and getting free food out of it made for a memorable evening. Something about the clandestine nature of the activity made it remarkably entertaining, and I'm grateful I decided to go.

I've put some thought into the year-old challenge I left at the end of the original post. I realize that I might have missed experiences for moments easily forgotten, putting off opportunities similar to the one I found at the Brazilian restaurant. Maybe it's time to revisit the challenge again: don't miss an opportunity for something you can do later.

How did you respond to this challenge back in 2014? Tell me about your experiences, and I'll be waiting in the comments.

Hey there! This is a commentary about the post written on December 19, 2014. Click here to read the original post!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Life is Like Running on a Soccer Ball

Let me break down my life right now.

I am taking 10 credit hours. I also show up to and participate in a 3-credit class, in which I am not enrolled.

I am working about 15 hours a week at Future House Publishing.

I write a blog post and structure a social media campaign every day, which can take anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours.

I am working on several other personal projects, including the novels Ama's Watch and Courting Disaster.

I'm also trying to be physically active, as well as maintain an active dating life (which is going great right now, thank you very much ;).

If I were to utilize an overused cliche, I would say I'm juggling a lot in the air right now. But who likes reading overused cliches, am I right? So I say my life is like I'm running on top of a soccer ball.

I'm not behind on anything. Everything is right on schedule. I feel confident in my successes, and am learning from my mistakes. I haven't fallen off the soccer ball yet, but I'm going to have to keep running hard to stay on top. And who knows? Maybe my efforts will score me a goal soon.

What is your life like? Juggling? Running on top of a soccer ball? Something else? Be sure to comment below!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Do You Have Freedom of Speech? - Thinkjoust Tuesday #37

This past week, we experienced the most polarizing thinkjoust in Change and Cherish history. You can click here to read the original post, and then click here to read the follow-up post.

My typin' fingers perked up when some people commented that they didn't want to get involved in the discussion. They were concerned their comments would invoke the hatred and ire of the opposing side, whichever side that happened to be.

My friend and commentator Justin Weaver actually posted two comments about the issue. The first was found on the original social media post.

His comment on the blog post itself began with the statement, "I'm not even going to touch this one. I'd rather not be torn apart by progressives and sympathizers."

These two comments got me thinking.

Most of Change and Cherish Blog's audience members come from countries where freedom of speech is a given. However, even beyond the comments about my posts, I have watched people balk at expressing certain opinions because they are hesitant to face any resulting criticism.

Obviously, the ability to express opinion is free speech. The ability to critique others' opinion is free speech. The ability to critique critiques is free speech.

So why do people hesitate to exercise that freedom?

This picture inspired by Phoenix Wright.
Today's blog post invites you to comment whether you feel you are free to express your true opinion, anytime, anywhere. If you don't feel free, tell me why. I want to know.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Why I Hate When People Tell Me to Follow My Dreams

I want to be a writer.

On my own time, I write novels and even daily blog posts. In regards to compensation, I have received enough money over my lifetime to pay for five months of rent.

That's just rent. No groceries. No electrical bills. Nothing, Just rent.

I have supported myself by taking on other jobs and responsibilities, including a graduate education. However, had I insisted on doing nothing but writing (and therefore following my dream), I would be either living in my parents' basement or starved to death.

I don't want to live life on a street corner, begging for bills while scribbling the rules of fantasy worlds into stained notebooks. I want to live, if not a rich lifestyle, at least a comfortable one.

I have thought about this a lot recently. Whenever I express concern over my career prospects, people tell me they have the answer. "Just follow your dreams, and you'll be fine," they say.

"Great," I say. "But how should I follow my dreams? Just drop everything and start writing? How will I eat? How will I shower? Where will I sleep? If you have an answer, tell me!"

They always keep that last secret from me..

Yeah, ok, I'm a bit of a hypocrite. If you read my post titled Spotlight Review: Zen Pencils and click on number 98, you'll see the comic criticizes my way of thinking. 

At the same time, I like the sentiment of following my dreams, if not the direct application.

Right now, I'm working toward my dream. I'm self-publishing my book. I'm working for a publishing company. I am close to graduating with an English Degree.

But there may come a point in time where I have to step away from that dream and focus on a career path that will bring the most comfort and stability for my family. My responsibilities may swallow or overshadow my dreams.

I'm willing to follow my dreams for now. Because I am responsible for only myself, it's easier. But if my debt grows, if I'm let go from my job, if it becomes time to raise a family ... I may have to move on.

In that sense, I admire people who are able to make dreams a reality. At the same time, I will only follow my dreams when their weight is greater than the weight of responsibility.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

What I Think About Beyoncé's Formation

I published the most polarizing thinkjoust in history this past Tuesday. After reading all of your comments, I came to several conclusions.

I have watched that video several times, and I cannot see how the video promotes violence against police officers. I don't think the police officers in the video even serve as antagonists.

Let's look at the controversial police officer scene, shot by shot.

We have our hooded black dancer busting some moves.

We see him from behind the cops' perspective.

They stand in a line.

The dancer throws up his arms, as if to say, "What now?"

The cops raise their own arms, notably lifting no weapons.

Notice how both the dancer and the cops have their arms up. This scene actually suggests a level of camaraderie between all participants.

The camera pans over some graffiti.

If anything, I feel like this scene was anti-police brutality, not anti-police. The camera angles and the imagery gives me the feeling that Beyoncé was trying to promote healthier relationships between police officers and black people who feel oppressed.

So what does this teach us?

In the end, I, too, admire the messages Beyoncé is delivering. The scene with the police officers is but a small portion of the complete music video. Most of the lyrics serve to remind black people about some of the issues and controversies surrounding their fight for civil equality. Among others, Beyoncé challenges the assertions of many who claim that black people are less attractive than other races. She challenges anyone who blindly accepts the history of black oppression. She invites all of her black peers to rise and stand with her, producing the eponymous 'Formation.'

None of these things are bad. After all, don't most people desire racial equality and understanding? As it is, I don't understand how these messages are offensive. Either way, this whole 'controversy' raises some good points.

We, as a nation, draw boundary lines. If someone takes a stand on any issue, someone else is going to perceive them as an enemy. Beyoncé's music video was a case in point. 

"What? She's pro-black?" some people seemed to say. "And she has portrayals of white police officers in her music video? Obviously, she's anti-police! Even worse, she's advocating violence against the police! Beyoncé is a monster!"


Because people can't see beyond the boundary lines, hatred and ignorance fester in our society. Just because I'm Christian doesn't mean I'm anti-Gay. I would go so far to say that I'm not anti-anything. But many people assume, because of my differing beliefs and lifestyle, that I am their enemy. 

The only way for our society to gain true equality is when we are able to listen to and accept the various viewpoints of every single individual. We may not agree with everything everyone says. At the very least, we can accept the fact that if our individual perspective is true to us, then true are the individual perspectives of everyone else to themselves.

So, yes. Beyoncé is proud of her heritage, but I am also proud of my own heritage. That righteous pride deserves to be praised, not maligned.

Stop looking for enemies.

This Week's Top Comments

Friday, February 19, 2016

Why I Own My Interests

Throughout the history of Change and Cherish Blog, I have admitted I have a variety of interests some claim are embarrassing. Two particular interests stand out for their associated stereotypes.

Fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic are often portrayed as fat, unhygienic, socially incompetent deviants. These social outcasts only have jobs so they can buy crates of frilly pink merchandise to haphazardly toss about their home.

I try to live apart from the stereotype.

Then there is Dungeons & Dragons, a term used to loosely identify different tabletop role-playing games I play every week. Fans of these games are often described as pale, weedy, sweaty guys who calculate their chances of real-life success with percentage decimals and talk in high-pitched nasally tones that drive figurative nails into the literal coffin that was once your head. 

My hardcore group of tabletop gamers try to live apart from this stereotype as well.

I have been stereotyped my whole life because of my interests, whether it's my entertainment choices, my country, my personality, or my faith and religion. Living as a white Mormon in Jamaica for two years certainly offered me a lot of interesting experiences.

Many people criticize others for their association with certain groups. Racism and sexism are examples. Animosity between strangers belonging to different sports teams is another. Any disgust directed toward certain 'labels' serves to suggest society has become highly critical of entire swathes of people because of a reliance on said labels.

But the thing is, I'm proud of what I'm interested in.

Because of my unique hodgepodge of knowledge spanning multiple cultures, I am an individual

Think about it. How many people do you know who exactly match the description of myself as presented in this blog post? I may be considered a 'sheep' in some circles, blindly abiding by the identifications required by certain groups, but then I'm being judged by only one of my interests. 

I am defined by my whole sum.

Yeah, it may be weird that I spend an evening a week rolling dice to aid my imaginary dwarf kill imaginary were-witches. But if someone took the time to know how I feel about the hobby, as opposed to making judgments about my lifestyle, then they might realize I'm not that nasally. I don't claim that everyone who talks to me about Dungeons & Dragons will like it. At the same time, I disbelieve that preconceived judgments have any place in our world.

My challenge for you today is simple. If you meet someone new this week, ask them about their more obscure interests. Ask that person how they found those interests. Ask that person why they have those interests.

Let's not be ignorant about each other.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Lament of the Singles (Poem) - Throwback Commentary #58

Hey there! This is a commentary about the post I wrote on the 17th of December, 2014. Click here to read the original post!

I'll be honest with you, I find the meter on some of these old poems absolutely atrocious. This poem isn't so bad, but if I were ever going to deliver this poem verbally, I would have to practice saying it in such a way that it maintained a rhythm.

For example, look at these two lines:

When she says, "It's over," his face takes on a pall
When he says, "Can't do this," her tears begin to fall

Not terrible, I suppose, but I got all tripped up on the word 'begin' when I was rereading the poem. Fitting a two-syllable word into a sentence full of one-syllable words is a tricky business, and it often undermines the strength of the line.

I think a reading of those lines would help if you pause after the quotes. The issue is, if you read the line straight, it sounds awful. Blech.

Beyond the weakness of the meter and rhythm, I do think the poem's message is excellent. It follows the general theme of this month (dating) and how, because we're not made to be alone, God will grant us blessings in patience.

Of course, I also think I stretched super far with some the rhymes, so I feel like this might be one of my weaker poems.


Either way, what do you think? Be sure to comment below!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What Happened to the One-Eyed Cat?

The cat, Archie, looked like he'd gone through some sort of fight that left his left eye ever closed. When I opened his eyelid, I saw nothing but pus and blood. I was convinced he'd lost the eye for good.

After I came back to college following the winter break, my parents took Archie to a vet. The vet worked his antibiotic magic, and soon, Mom and Dad were able to send me new pics.

I could not believe it. His eye is still a little cloudy, but it looks like he's well on his way to recovery.

The message behind the post I wrote at the beginning of the year was simple. Be like an animal and don't fret about things you can't control. Don't let outside circumstances affect your personality or who you are. Be true to yourself.

And look. That cat made it out of his trial.

So can you.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Does Beyoncé's Formation Offend You? - Thinkjoust Tuesday #36

American singer, songwriter, and businesswoman Beyoncé released a new song/music video titled Formation the day before her halftime performance during the 50th Superbowl.

The inspiration for Formation came from Beyoncé's desire to increase awareness for certain civil rights issues. The song and video touch upon many different aspects of American Black history and culture, mixed with some provocative imagery. Some of these images riled up large swathes of the populace, notably certain segments of white Americans. Needless to say, the music video became polarizing in a matter of hours.

I'm pretty biased about this issue already, but I'm curious to know what you all think. I plan to use Saturday's post to present my up-to-date opinion about Beyoncé's Formation. However, I want to gain a full understanding of the different viewpoints about this issue. My studies will include any arguments you deliver via the comments section below.

I look forward to hearing what you all have to say.

For those of you looking to understand more about this issue, here are some videos and articles that offer some insights. I know most of my audience members are opposed to vulgar language in their entertainment, and so I have included several cleaned-up options as well. I can't guarantee the levels of censorship utilized in the clean versions.

Why Are People Suddenly Afraid of Beyonce's Black Pride?

White People: Shut Up About Beyoncé

Why are cops taking Beyoncé's black affirmation as an attack?

Protests planned against and for Beyonce

The Original Version of the Music Video

The Clean Version of the Music Video (provocative imagery unedited)

An unofficial Clean lyric video (sans provocative imagery)

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Strong Ox and the Weak Ox - A Parable [V-Day Week 2016 EXTRA]

As I wrote last Wednesday's post, I thought of a cool little parable to illustrate my points. Unfortunately, the post became super long, so I decided to cut the parable and feature it in a different post.

 If you would like to know what inspired this story, or if you would like more knowledge about how oxen pull together, click here and read the three paragraphs that begin with "President Boyd K. Packer ..."

A group of oxen were milling around in their pasture when a farmer came by. "Hey there, oxes!" he said.

"We're called oxen," the Nerdy Ox said.

"Whatever," the farmer said. "I need two of you oxes to pull my cart to the next farm over. Who's willing to lend me a hand?"

"We don't have hands, but we'll lend you a hoof!" the Nerdy Ox said.

The farmer pointed at the Nerdy Ox. "He's not invited. Is anyone else willing to volunteer?"

Two oxen stepped forward. One was much larger than the other. "We can do it," said the Strong Ox. "I'm a little bit stronger than him, but we're best friends. I'm sure we can manage."

"Well, let me yoke ya, and we'll get goin'!" said the farmer.

The two oxen pulled the farmer's cart along. However, the Small Ox tired. He had to push much harder to keep up with his stronger friend. It didn't take long for the Small Ox to drag his hooves. The Strong Ox didn't notice at first, pulling her load as best as she could, but because she carried a majority of the weight, she tired as well. Both oxen came to a stop.

"What are you doing?" the farmer said. "We still have miles and miles to go!"

"Something is wrong," the Strong Ox said. She looked to her smaller companion. "What is wrong, my friend?"

The Small Ox ducked his head in shame. "I am not as strong as you. I cannot keep up with your pace, and as such, have allowed you to pull most of the weight."

"I see," said the Strong Ox. "I really did believe we could do it together. However, I see that, because I am stronger than you, we cannot work as a team as well as we would like to. Let us go back, and I will find a more equal partner."

The oxen pulled the cart back to the pasture. The farmer replaced the Small Ox with the New Ox, whose strength matched the Strong Ox. The Small Ox watched with sadness as his friend worked with the New Ox to pull the farmer's cart forward out of sight.

After some time, a new farmer came rolling up in his cart. "I need two oxen to help me pull my cart to the next farm!" he said.

"Thank you for calling us oxen!" the Nerdy Ox said. "I was worried none of you ignorant farmers knew anything about proper English semantics!"

The new farmer thought about what the Nerdy Ox would taste like in a burger.

The Small Ox turned away from new farmer, ashamed, but then the Other Ox nuzzled his side. The Small Ox saw she was close to his size. 

"Come on," the Other Ox said. "Let us pull this farmer's cart."

"But I already failed to pull one cart," the Small Ox said. "How can I pull another?"

"Because we are of the same size," the Other Ox said. "And together, we will share the load."

So the new farmer yoked the Small Ox and the Other Ox. 

The two oxen shared the same weight and load. Neither pushed ahead of the other. Together, they pulled the cart all the way to the next farm over, where the Strong Ox and the New Ox waited.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

V-Day Week 2016: Misunderstandings Between Guys and Girls Have One Solution

This last Tuesday, I released a post entitled "V-Day Week 2016: What Girls Want Guys to Know (and Vice Versa) - Thinkjoust Tuesday #35." I asked you all to give me some feedback, and then I'd report today.

I found an interesting common theme in all of your comments.

Girls About Guys

This is a text message from my sister. I forwarded it to my email and took a screenshot.

Guys About Girls

I could easily address all of these concerns with many solutions. Instead, the solution can be found in only one word. I'll make it three so it will stick in your head better.


That's right! All your confusion can be solved with ... COMMUNICATION!


Do you feel like you don't understand what a girl's thinking? Ask her about it! Communicate!

What if your girl's mad at you for something you don't understand? Say sorry to her! Act the big man and communicate!

What if you're worried the girl you're taking on a date won't like what you choose to do? Make several plans, and give her options! Communicate!


If you like a guy, just tell him straight up! If you don't like a guy, just tell him straight up! Communicate!

Communicate, dang it!

I honestly believe open communication would resolve much of the 'drama' that occurs in the dating scene.

The thing is, nobody wants to communicate because everyone's worried about getting their feelings hurt. So we keep secrets and hide and act coy and then everyone gets confused. But dating is kind of like American football. When you play the game, there's a high chance you might get hurt.

There's no avoiding it.

So why are we cringing?

Friday, February 12, 2016

V-Day Week 2016: A Love Letter to Love (Poem)

Let's stop and pretend for a moment today.
If Love were a person, this is what I'd say.

Love! You're a person now? Well, whoop-de-doo
because I despise you. I really, really do.
My hate spilleth over, an overflowing cup
And I'll tell you why. Take a seat, listen up.

I am tired of the way you always lead me on.
You show me the world, and then it's all gone.
You tell me, "Don't worry, I'll find you someone better."
But that's not keeping my eyes from getting wetter.
You promise me another chance, you promise me a change,
you hand me cupid's arrow, place new targets on the range,
but no matter how well or precise I aim,
I miss all my shots, giving others the gain.
"You lose potentials fast!" you go ahead and say.
"Better luck next time, come back another day."
You know me by now, I've heard it all,
name me a duck, "Forever Alone" is my call.
No matter how many times I release my string,
when it comes to being single, I am the king.

You see what you do, Love? I am filled, prefire,
because you taunt me with unfulfilled desires.
I hate you, I want you to die, you're scum.
Sometimes I want you to go back where you're from!

But wait. Hold on. I didn't mean to yell.
Hear a few more things that I still need to tell.
I may hate you, Love, but I love you, too.
Let me tell you all about the good things you do.

You gave me warm hugs from my father and mom
during stormy days as we waited for calm.
You gave me siblings, who taught me some stuff
like when to be gentle, and when to be rough.
You gave me friends who always have my back
who defend me from sadness, pain, and attack.
You gave me strangers, who didn't care where I'd been,
who gave me a home when I asked for an Inn.
You taught me how to use you in kind
to release darkened shadows from my loved ones' minds,
and when all hope was lost from my eyes,
and I pierced the heavens with pleading cries,
petitioning God to come into view,
he only needed to send me you.

Oh, Love, I'm so grateful you're a person now.
I've wanted to chat, and I didn't know how.
Tried my hardest to thank you, by living with this power:
Give love to everyone, each and every hour.

If Love were a person, this is what I'd say.
But love isn't a person. So love someone today.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

V-Day Week 2016: Why Dating is Superior to Job Hunting - Throwback Commentary #57

Hey there! This post is a commentary discussing the post I wrote on September 19, 2015. Click here to read the post from September!

Happy Valentines Day week! I figured even the throwback deserved a dating theme.

When you read the original post, you see how confused and frustrated I was about my future. Things have changed since then.

I am more confident in my future. I have some tentative plans regarding my career and educational prospects. I am breaking into the literary industry. I forged connections I hope will leapfrog me to success. In a few weeks, I hope to be able to report on the status of my endeavors.

The moral of the story is, no matter how bleak and confusing my future may seem, when I press forward through the fog, my path makes more sense.

Well, I guess that's only one of two morals. Though I've laid a plan for job-hunting, I am still just as clueless in regards to dating. I would now hazard that Dating is Inferior to Job-Hunting, completely cutting the feet out from under the crux of my previous argument.

Oh, well.

Hey there! This post is a commentary discussing the post I wrote on September 19, 2015. Click here to read the post from September!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

V-Day Week 2016: Why Breaking Up is an Act of Love

For the remainder of this post, I will use the term 'breakup' to refer to any act that stalls a relationship's forward progress. A breakup traditionally refers to a severed relationship commitment, but my usage includes people who decide against pursuing further romantic possibilities with potential partners.

Breakups are hard. I remember one particular breakup that left me frankly pathetic. I consoled myself by eating an unhealthy amount of Zebra Cakes. My roommate came home one day to find me laying in a pile of empty boxes and plastic wrappers, enough to make an empty-box-plastic-wrapper snow angel.

"Why?" I asked my roommate.

He closed the door and pretended he hadn't seen me.

As you know from Monday's post, I've been on a lot of dates, but I've rarely been able to form a committed relationship. Sometimes, we decide to remain friends. Sometimes, she decides the relationship won't go anywhere. Sometimes, I decide the relationship won't go anywhere.

It can hurt when you or your partner end a romantic relationship, especially when you've put effort into making things work. In the case of my Zebra Cake breakup, I felt like I'd gone back to square one. I felt like I was stuck in traction. I felt like all the progress I'd made was futile. I felt abandoned, betrayed, and hurt.

I will admit that some breakups are more painful than they have to be, especially when a partner acts cruel or insensitive. However, I really do believe that most breakups are engineered with love in mind.

Some couples may try to make things work, but something keeps them from moving forward at an equal pace. The partners may have different senses of humor. They may have have different life goals. They may have opposing interests or beliefs. Maybe one partner thinks the other is super annoying. Either way, no matter how much people are willing to bend, someone may decide moving forward could be easier with someone else.

If someone doesn't feel equal or loved in a relationship, then it is time for a breakup. Maybe a partner feels they're pulling all the weight in the relationship. Maybe they feel they're not doing enough for the relationship. It doesn't matter, because no matter what you say to your partner when you break up with them, you convey a universal message.

"Look, we're not progressing forward like we should. We need to find people with whom we're more compatible. If we do, then we'll reach our final destination, maybe not together, but with someone else who pulls our same load."

When a girl breaks up with me, I know she's really telling me to find someone who fulfills my relationship needs in ways she can't. She doesn't hate or despise me. She wants me to be as happy as she hopes to be when she finds her equal.

That, my friends, is an act of love.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

V-Day Week 2016: What Girls Want Guys to Know (and Vice Versa) - Thinkjoust Tuesday #35

Welcome to the blog post with the longest title ever, but you should have seen my original attempts. Here's an example.

V-Day Week 2016: In which I invite a discussion between guys and girls to determine which facts about each other the two genders wish they understood on an intimate level - Thinkjoust Tuesday Number Thirty-Five


If you managed to make it through two overly-long titles, then you deserve to make your voice heard.

I plan to use Saturday's post to write my thoughts about ...

1.) What girls wish guys knew.

2.) What guys wish girls knew.

However, I can only do this if you add to the discussion. Your comments are essential to helping me accurately portray the thoughts of your respective gender.

Say anything you want! Want to say nice things? Comment below or on social media! Do you want to vent your grievances about the opposite gender? Comment anonymously! Either way, your comments will be featured on Saturday's post.

Not sure what sort of stuff to say? Here's an example, something I want girls to know about me.

I understand that a lot of girls want to be chased, and I'm willing to chase. However, if I'm the only one putting in any effort, there will come a point when I give up on you. I believe a relationship should be built on mutual respect, trust, and equality. I don't want to chase you if you're just making yourself a prize to be won. That degrades my role in our relationship because I am made to feel inferior to you, and it degrades your role in our relationship because you become less of a person and more of an object of my desire.

There's my comment! Add your own, and I'll see you Saturday!

Monday, February 8, 2016

V-Day Week 2016: The Top 10 Pieces of Dating Advice I Hate

In honor of the week leading up to Valentine's Day, I have prepared a series of posts all about love and romance!

I've been single for close to four years now. Many people treat my situation like a disease, and they offer free advice about how I can rid myself of this irksome ailment. The promised 'cure' comes in the form of cliche phrases.

I dislike these 'cure-alls' enough that I wrote an exaggerated blog post about them! Let's take a look!

Note: I wrote these from my own perspective. Re-imagine them with you in mind!

"It's a numbers game."

Let me tell you something. In the six months after I came back home from my mission, I went on one hundred first dates. One. Hundred. That does not count second or third or even fifth dates. That does not count the 13 months I spent dating since then. In comparison, some of my male friends go on ten, maybe fifteen dates at the most in between relationships. TELL ME IT'S A NUMBERS GAME ONE MORE TIME.

"It's their loss."

Maybe it's my loss. Just stop and think about that for a second.

"Honesty is the best policy."

Sure thing! Next time I go on a blind date, and she asks me what my interests are, I'll tell her all about Dungeons and Dragons. Oh, does she also know I watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? And let's be honest, if she's willing to accept me even then, just wait until she finds out I'm a blogger.

"Find people with similar interests."

Sure thing! I'll just join the Novel-Writing Blog-Posting Poetry-Penning Drum-Beating Uke-Strumming Ballad-Singing Poor-Acting Cartoon-Drawing Webcomic-Reading TV-Watching Video-Gaming Musical-Listening Fan Club just down the street! I love the NWBPPPDBUSBSPACDWRTVWVGMLFC SO MUCH.

"Opposites attract."

But ... you literally just told me to find people with similar interests. Like, literally SIX SENTENCES AGO. And what, pray tell, is my opposite? Is it someone shorter than me? Taller than me? Cooler than me? More muscular than me? More attractive than me? Someone with interests dissimilar to my own? What, exactly, is the interest opposite novel writing? I'm waiting!

"Go after what you want."

Well, now I don't know what I want! Do I want my exact opposite? Do I want someone with similar interests? Do I want someone who's honest with me, or someone who goes to the grave hiding their secrets? And maybe I'm less interested in what I want, and more interested in what I need. Ever think of that?

"There are plenty of fish in the sea."

You're absolutely right! But a majority of those fish aren't anywhere near me, and most of the rest aren't interested in my bait! Let's imagine a proper fisherman spending three hours leading his hooked catch toward the boat before his line snaps and the fish gets away. If you try to tell that fisherman there are plenty of fish in the sea, he will kill you. The fisherman doesn't care about what he might catch, he only cares about losing the catch he already had.

"You'll find her when you stop looking."

That doesn't make a dang lick of sense. Isn't the guy supposed to be the one initiating things? If I stop looking, I will literally stop going on dates.

"Being single is better anyway ..." (from a single person)

Oh, really. Then why were you whining about your recent break-up only last week. 

"Being single is better anyway ..." (from someone in a relationship) 

Break-up, then! What the heck are you waiting for?

And, my favorite bit of dating advice to hate ...

"If she wants you to kiss her, make her wait another week, and then kiss her."

For starters, how the heck am I supposed to know if she wants me to kiss her? And honestly, what does making her wait a week accomplish? Is it so her 'desire' for me will increase because I'm keeping her from what she wants? Well, let me tell you, I want a girl to come back to me for who I am, not for what I can offer.

Well, there you go! I hope you enjoyed chuckling with this post as much as I enjoyed writing it! I'll see you as we approach Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The US Shouldn't Raise the Minimum Wage

I wrote a post this past Tuesday, titled Should the US Raise the Minimum Wage? - Thinkjoust Tuesday #34. I invited readers to help me formulate an opinion about the topic. Thank you to everyone who responded, whether it was on this blog or over social media! The featured comments are found at the bottom of this post.

This week's arguments against raising the minimum wage were pretty simple.

"People are willing to work for minimum wage."

"Raising the minimum wage will cause inflation."

I tend to agree. Quite frankly, I find the comments succinct, and I don't see much need to add to them. However, I will say one thing about each.

Minimum wage workers fighting for this change are basically claiming they should be paid double for the same amount of work. In essence, they broadcast a certain message to the world. "I'm too unmotivated to do anything that changes the status quo of my life, like find a better education or learn marketable skills."

And let's talk about what would happen if all minimum wage workers had $15/hour wages. Prices for basic and even luxury goods would rise. After all, more people would be able to afford more products. The demand for our stores' goods would increase, but the supply of the stores would remain the same. So, in order to make more money, the stores would raise the prices. Eventually, minimum wage workers would be stuck purchasing the same amount of goods they are currently, only this time, everything will cost twice as much. This is a concept known as inflation.

How 9 Countries Saw Inflation Evolve Into Hyperinflation

Raising the minimum wage is a catastrophic idea. Unfortunately, it appears the idea has a lot of support. Can we find a better solution, like allowing the minimum wage to rise with the cost of living each year?


This Week's Top Comments

Friday, February 5, 2016

Why Mormons Love Temples: from an LDS Blogger

No, I'm not an amazing photographer, this picture is public domain. The rest are as well.
If you're friends with a Mormon, you've likely heard them talk about temples.

"What'd you do this past weekend?" you might have said.

"Oh, I went to the temple!" your Mormon friend said.

"What's a temple?" you asked.

And then your friend told you. They talked about covenants and God and maybe you even glazed over. I probably would have.

But no more! Now I've written a blog post to tell you all about it, and even if you glaze over, you can always come back and remind yourself of the details!

Mormons go to church in chapels every Sunday. A Mormon Chapel might look like this.

Church goes for three hours, split up into blocks of time. While we're there, we deliver speeches, take Sunday School, learn more about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the gospel, and make covenants by taking the sacrament.

"Hold on there," you say. "You said something about covenants again. What are those, exactly?"

Covenants are promises we make to God, including promises to keep His commandments and follow His chosen prophets. To demonstrate our devotion to these covenants, we participate in activities like baptism and the sacrament (or communion).

While we go to chapels once a week as part of a congregation, we go to the temple on an individual basis, whenever we'd like. Only those who are actively keeping the covenants they made previously can attend the temple. Once we have declared ourselves covenant-keepers, we are given recommends by our leaders, and then we can enter the temple and participate in even more covenants.

"Even more covenants?" you say. "How many covenants are there?"

An active member of the LDS faith will likely be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, receive their endowment, and be sealed to their spouse for all time and eternity. Most of these covenants are extensions of the baptismal covenant, though we take on progressively greater responsibilities with each new covenant. For example, when we receive our endowment, we promise to not only keep God's commandments, but also proactively seek to give all we have to His kingdom.

"Fascinating. I guess I understand why temples are so important."

But wait! There's more!

"There is?"

Yes! While we also make covenants for ourselves, we also redeem the dead through those same ordinances.

"For the dead? So you dig up graves or something?"

No, no, of course not. We believe that the human spirit continues to live long after the human body decays. This is further evidenced in 1 Peter 3:18-22.

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

"By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

"Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ask was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

"Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him."

Some people, especially those outside Christian nations, never had the chance to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and decide for themselves if it was true (like how the verses mention those who perished in the flood of Noah). Mormons don't believe a loving God would condemn those who never had a chance to hear His servants, and so participate in baptisms for the dead, or baptisms by proxy.

Of course, this doesn't take away a dead spirit's ability to choose for themselves. If I were to get baptized in the name of a John Smith who lived back in 1913, John's spirit would have the choice to accept or reject the opportunity. When we perform a baptism for the dead, we're really just giving them the option.

I could go on, but that's why Mormons love temples. In a nutshell, they grant us opportunities to help both ourselves and our ancestors come closer to God.

Who wouldn't love that?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Temple Square Reminder - Throwback Commentary #56

With tomorrow's post being another #faithfriday, I thought I'd sprinkle some awareness in the water.

I think what's beautiful about the original post is the part where I talk about what the Salt Lake Temple represents for both me and for the saints who built it. 40 years of concentrated dedication to the construction of that structure.

Would I be willing to work 40 years on something to make it as close to perfect as I could? After all, I've only been working on Ama's Watch for around 15 months. I'm not sure I have the dedication to work on something for much longer. But those saints certainly did.

Maybe you're struggling in school right now, or maybe you've had some trials hit you, or maybe you're not sure which step you should take next. I promise that as you trust in what you believe, things will turn out best in the end. Put in that trust, and even if it takes 40 years, you may find something amazing.

Tomorrow I'll be devoting a post to explaining exactly what Mormon temples are. Either way, I'll see you soon.

Hey there! This is a commentary discussing the post I wrote on December 6, 2014. Click here to read it!