Yahoo Answers

Most Interenet 2.0 things I really enjoy and feel have enhanced the internet experience. However, there is one glaring exception.

Yahoo Answers.

When I first came across it, I thought it seemed like a great idea. Using the same principal as Wikipedia (the wisdom of the masses) to answer people's questions. And because what one person wonders about is often what many other people have wondered about, it could be a great resource for finding answers to your own questions.

However, in practice, this site gives the worst possible answers imaginable.

Allow me to give an example.

This morning I was using the emoticon I invented of a Jew playing a Jew's harp :~¥ (The big crooked nose ~ is what makes the person a Jew. This is a happy Jew :~) and this is a sad jew :~( and this is a sad jew who is winking and shedding a tear ;`~( And this is a winking tear shedding jew with his/her mouth open ;`~() )
and it got me wondering why so many Jews have big noses. What environmental factors would have made having a huge nose evolutionarily advantageous?

Of course my first step was to do a google. As is is becoming increasingly common, the first several hits were from yahoo answers. I knew it was unlikely I would find what I was looking for, but I clicked on it anyway.

Here are some of the answers given:

I have no idea. Yet on occasion some people have thought I was Jewish (even other Jews thought so) and I don't have a large nose. It's just genetics or something. Hard to say, but that's all I can think of is genetics. :-)

This is no answer at all! Of course it is genetics! This doesn't tell us anything.

Its genetic. Jews marry jews and pass down those genes to jewish kids that marry jews that continue the cycle! You should see my brothers nose! But now that he's older he's actually grown into it. I somehow managed to be spared that genetic attribute, but chances are the genes will come out in full force when I have kids, lol!

Again with the non answer of genetics! The question isn't 'why do people have different sized noses' to which 'genetics' might be an accurate (though inadequate) answer.
When someone asks, 'why do jews have big noses' what they are most likely meaning is:
'why do these particular genes(nose genes) manifest themselves in this particular way(big) in this particular people(jews).' To respond to this with 'genes' doesn't even make sense.

More yahoo answers:

"I'm Canadian but my skin is a bit olive coloured and I have a bigger nose. When I was a teenager, I was often asked if I was Jewish.

Every culture has their special characteristics....asians have the slanted eyes, blacks have bigger lips, Jews and their noses, Dutch are taller, etc. I guess it's so they can tell us apart. It would be horrible if we all looked the same!

So... jews have big noses so they can be distinguished from non jews? How did this come to be? Natural selection? God?

More yahoo answers:

Genetics I guess. The same reason why so many of them are soooo smart. Leave their noses alone.

Again with the genetics answer! What would the alternative to genetics even be in this case? That people are physically re-shaping their noses to be big? That Jews eat certain foods which make their noses grow big? In 2010 we all already know it is genetic.
The 'leave their noses alone' part is also a pretty common feature of yahoo answers. Ie. criticizing the question/questioner.

More Yahoo answers:

prob their anscestors

Again, this doesn't tell us anything. How did their ancestors get big noses?

One feature of Yahoo answers is that one answer is chosen from the pool as the best one. It is chosen either by the person asking the question or voted on by other Yahoo Answers users.
This answer was chosen by the asker as the best one. So if you were to search into this site, this is what you would see as the approved answer to your question:

Im a Jewish woman and i have many friends (also jewish women) that do not have big noses- and neiter do I. and while some jewish women i know have big noses, so do some women of other religions. This is simply a GENE thing....

This is no answer at all! This tells us nothing about what we asked!
Oh, not all Jews have big noses, but some do, but its no big deal, just a gene thing, nothing to worry about.

This is typical Yahoo answers thread. I've seen much worse, and a handful that were better.
I've frequently seen the answer 'I don't know' or 'I don't really know but here is a guess...'. At first I would wonder 'then why answer?' but I think now I know. (If I am understanding how the site works correctly) I believe people are given points for every question they answer. This leads to people giving awful answers questions to questions they don't know anything about.
If I had to guess, this is the primary reason Yahoo Answers is so bad. If people weren't encouraged to answer questions they didn't know the answer to and were required to cite sources, it could probably be a resource comparable to Wikipedia.

P.s. I still haven't found the answer to my question. Does anyone know? This is my guess: Many Jews descend from desert dwelling people, who also tend to have big noses. Perhaps having a big nose is helpful in a desert environment in terms of expelling heat or conserving moisture or something along those lines. If anyone knows the answer, please let me know.


Black eye.

This morning Glen Close (our cat) gave me a black eye.

You may be wondering: Christopher, are you the weakest baby ever, that even a little cat can beat you up?

No! I'm not! I am even kind of strong ever since I started lifting weights. (I'm not really into the look of big muscles, but I enjoy being strong enough to do the things I want to do. I was weak growing up. So weak that when I was a teenager I lost an arm wrestle match to my sister Jodi{Granted, she was a fairly strong girl}. I found that my weakness was prohibiting for some tasks. Because of this, when I was 23/24 I deliberately made the effort to becomes strong enough for most manual tasks and it feels really nice. You want me to put a box full of rocks on top of your fridge? No problem.)

Glen didn't give me a black eye because I am the weakest baby, but because he got to me while I was asleep. Somehow he was able to not only get some cat sized boxing gloves but also put them on.

Above our bed is a window whose sill Glen likes to play on and jump off onto our bed. Occasionally he will jump on our belly, which hurts just like being punched in the stomach. It is a weird sensation to wake up startled from dreaming a cannon hit your tummy and the pain is still there.
After our numerous startled, hurt and angry reactions to his jumping on your guts he's seemed to learn it is not okay. (two other synonyms for stomach: middle, abdomen) However, I guess he wasn't able to generalize that knowledge and realize it is also not okay to jump onto my face, as he did this morning.

Marissa was downstairs doing homework and was surprised to see me come down with a bleeding eye. Thank God it was just my eyelid and not my actual eyeball. Now that the pain is gone I even think it is kind of cool having a black eye. I have never had one before.
Although because the corners of my eyes are so deep, the puffiness just makes it look like a normal eye hole corner.


Really scary night

Late last night I knew some friends might be stopping by and I heard what sounded like a car driving down the long gravel road/driveway our house sits at the end of. I went outside to check because I know that even if someone is able to find the long, gravel drive, it is still difficult to find the house itself.

When I looked outside, I saw that a car had come down our gravelly drive but was now exiting it. The car apparently saw me and turned back around. Once their headlights were pointed my way, I waved my hands to let them know it was indeed me.

As the car got closer, I noticed it wasn't my friend's car. It was an old beat up sports car from the seventies I didn't recognize. The sort of car that has always been kind of scary to me. If I had to guess why, I would guess that it's because this was the sort of car that poor people drove when I was a kid. And I guess poor people were scared me as a child.

I tried to see who was inside the car in case it was someone I knew, and felt a little startled seeing the car's occupants. You know how sometimes you see a car full of people and from their wild energy they seem up to no good? People filled with wacky energy and wanting to do something wacky? This is how the occupants of the car appeared. But it struck me as being more than just wacky energy. Maybe wacky energy with a malicious or crazed intent as well.

Feeling kind of spooked, I closed my screen door and stepped inside. As I turned around I noticed the people in the car were getting out and coming quickly towards my front door. I started to close the actual door(as opposed to the screen door which I had already closed), when a woman who was at the head of the group of people heading towards my door, stuck her hand, through the already broken screen and prevented me from closing the door.

Needless to say, I was very scared! I knew Marissa was asleep in the back room and started to get worried about her safety, so I ran to the back of the house where she was sleeping.

When I got into our room I was shouting for her to call 911. I got into the bed with her, so as to try and protect her or something and noticed the same woman coming into our bedroom. I couldn't tell if her pack was following behind her or not.

At this point Marissa was waking up and getting some sense of what was going on. I kept shouting for her to call 911. As unwise as it may have been, I said something at this point about how I thought we were going to die and that she meant a lot to me or something along those lines.

This crazed woman kept moving towards us and our bed. She wasn't saying anything and I had no idea what her intentions might be, but they didn't seem good. I honestly believed this was the end of my life. I couldn't tell if she was actually moving slowly or if in my heightened state things just felt slow.

I could hear Marissa was on the phone with 911, but having been in the initial phases of sleeping pill induced sleep, she wasn't making much sense which made me all the more scared and helpless feeling.

The woman actually began crawling towards us on our bed. At this point I noticed her cronies were coming in behind her.

I didn't really have any idea what to do. She wasn't saying anything and wasn't making any violent gestures, just slowly making her way towards us. By instinct I pushed her face with my hand. Again, I wasn't sure if in my frightened state I had super strength or if these people in what appeared to be a zombie like, drug induced state, were unable to resist the force of my hand. Being able to stop them felt like such an enormous relief. I went from feeling like I was about to die, to just feeling that something really weird was going on. Four more people followed after that woman and I easily pushed them away as well.

For those who are familiar with my house, you may be wondering why my description of it seems different than what you know my house to be. You might be thinking: 'you don't live down a gravel road and your bedroom is upstairs, not in the back.'

Well, you know how sometimes in a movie or television show a really dramatic scene will turn out to have just been a dream? And it leaves you feeling kind of disappointed and cheated? Well, I thought doing that same thing in a blog would be interesting.
All of this really did happen last night, but no one experienced it but myself. It really was terrifying for me. I can remember it almost as vividly as a waking experience.



The February issue of National Geographic (which my brother gave me a years subscription as a Christmas present. Thanks again, Ricky.{that 'thanks' should be read with heavy sarcasm[just kidding(or am I?)]})has a cover story on 'Polygamy in America'. While it touches on a variety of groups, it primarily focuses on the Flds Church in Texas and in Hilldale Utah.

Aside from the polygamy thing(which I realize is a big aside. Probably big enough to cancel out the positive aspects I am going to describe) I found their community to be very likable. Even admirable.

I've often thought that the ideal community would be something like a primitive tribe with some modern technology, and that is exactly what the Yfz ranch is like.

I feel much of our modern troubles come from the fact that we evolved in a particular environment which is radically different than our modern societies. We have certain desires and tendencies which once served us well but can now work against us.(similar to what I talk about here).

However, I also feel technology makes our lives better. If we could somehow combine our old ways of living with the benefits of our modern world, life it seems, would be better.

Their communities are small. The largest one has 6,000 people.

They don't own televisions, but they do use the internet, cell phones and drive automobiles.

The entire community is based around the temple, which serves not only as a spiritual center but a social one as well.

They grow most of their own food and everyone, including children, help.

They have other businesses as well, such as machine manufacturers which are owned and operated communally.

If someone needs a house, the community pitches in and builds it. "In one display of solidarity, the men built a four-bedroom home, from foundation to roof shingles in a single day."

Ironically, they are kind of like a hippy commune. One woman even operates a naturopathic dispensary in Hilldale.

I realize other communities similar to this exist, usually with a left wing/environmental worldview being the uniting glue, but one thing those communities seem to lack is the strong family basis.

If you lived in a place like the Yfz ranch, all your grandparents and siblings and cousins and uncles etc. would be your neighbors. While being so close physically to your extended family can have its pros and cons, over all it sounds nice to me. Especially if you shared a similar world view.

I have always had a fully negative impression of the Flds Church, but while reading the National Geographic article, I was surprised to find myself feeling envious of the community they have made for themselves. I was also surprised to learn that aside from the polygamy thing and the patriarchal way the priesthood is set up(again, I know this is a big aside), the women actually had a big say in things. I heard an interview with the female photographer of the piece and she described the community as feeling almost matriarchal.

Over all, I wouldn't want to live at the Yfz ranch. Not only because of polygamy but the patriarchal theocracy alone is enough to be a deal breaker, however, I did find much of their way of life to be admirable.

Centralized Power- An ode to 'big government'.

(this isn't really an ode because it isn't a lyrical poem. But you are still welcome to set these words to song.)
I was listening to something on Npr recently about the future of America and the author being interviewed spoke about how he believes that in the future power will become more localized. Ie. Local governments will have more authority.

Until that moment,I had never really given much thought to how I feel about this issue. I realize it's been an ongoing tension since the founding of our country, how much power should be on the federal level and how much should be on the local level. I realize there are pros and cons to both ways, but I think that, in general, I prefer strong central power rather than localized powers. Here is why:

Local control seems to more easily to lend itself to discrimination.

When a local government is making laws, they have less need to take into consideration various opinions and beliefs.

Our society tends to segregate itself geographically. People of similar racial, political and economic backgrounds often clump together.

Take, for example, a homogeneous state like Utah. Utah is 92.9% white and around 70% Mormon.
In circumstances like these, law makers are less inclined to make laws which benefit those who aren't white, Lds Church members. This may not even be a conscious act of discrimination. If only 1.3% of your population is black, you may have honestly not ever considered what things you are doing which may discriminate.(I want to make clear here that I am not trying to make an attack on Utah, whites, or Lds church members. I just think Utah serves as a good example because of its homogeneity, plus I am familiar with it.)

When one breaks the country down into counties or cities the homogeneity gets even greater. This often means that the more localized one gets in terms of law making, the more discriminatory the laws are.

On the other hand, when one looks at the country through a wider, national lens, there is much more diversity (at least in an immigrant country like the Usa or Canada). It would be difficult to pass a law on the federal level which benefits only Mormons, because the large percentage of non-Mormons would become upset. The federal Government must take into consideration a much more diverse group of people which leads to less discriminatory laws.

(In some instances the reverse can also be true. If a minority group is so small they have no voice nationally, sometimes the only place they may receive fair treatment is on a local level where they are clustered. However this sort of thing seems more common in homogeneous countries, such as in Europe)

The history of America seems to support the point I am making. National laws are often more progressive than local ones. Without federal compulsion, who knows if the south ever would have given up segregation. (there are exceptions of course. States like California and Oregon are often trail blazers in terms of progressive laws, but without a federal backing, these things would not be able to take root nationwide.)

6th photo.

I was tagged! By Heather, Lea.
I am supposed to re-post the sixth photo I have ever posted on blogger.
Since I rarely post photos, it took a while to find the sixth.
This photo is from, approximately, the 50th blog posting I made.
I was amused to discover it was the photo it was.

If you are interested in why I had originally posted this photo. Here is a link to the original entry for context.



Do you guys know about Ke$ha?

I'm not usually in-the-know about new pop stars, but for some reason Ke$ha seems to keep popping up in places where I am a regular. For example, shortly after her album was released she was interviewed on Npr.

For those not familiar with her or her work, I've posted a video of her most famous song at the bottom of this entry.

I find myself oddly drawn to this fiasco of an artist.

I am drawn, both out of curiosity and out of some actual, sincere appreciation of her music.

The content of her music is about as far removed as possible from things I like or the person I want to be, yet that is partly why I find it so enjoyable.

One thing good art can do, is it can make you feel things you otherwise would not. When watching a movie like 'Oceans 11' you can feel the excitement of robbing a casino, even if that is something, in real life, you not only wouldn't do, but would be strongly against.

This is the same sort of phenomenon that happens when I listen to a song like 'Tik Tok'.

While the things she sings about are far more repulsive to me than robbing a casino, she is able to make me experience, for a few moments, what it would be like to enjoy those things.
While listening to 'Tik-Tok', I can feel the pleasure and excitement of being a shallow and trashy young woman getting ready to go clubbing with her friends.

That she can not only make me see the world through her eyes, but also enjoy it, is impressive to me and I like it.

Rolling Stone magazine described her like this:
"repulsive, obnoxious and ridiculously catchy." Which I think is fairly accurate.

I don't know if I would ever buy one of her songs or albums, but I have, without any irony, looked her up online and listened to several of her songs several times over.


Remember back when Bill O'Reilly seemed so angry and irrational? But now compared to Glenn Beck he is like a refreshing voice of reason from the right wing?

I couldn't find the video for this one, but here is the transcript.



You know the phrase, 'Like the blind leading the blind'?
I have now seen this literally happening twice.
Once was a couple years ago when I lived in Salt Lake.
The other was yesterday.

While walking to buy some "Alaskan Bear Treats"(fish oil to put in my cat's food. Makes him healthier, smarter, and really really shiny) I passed by an elderly couple, who seemed like they may be married.

Both were clearly blind. (or at least have serious problems with squinting while not looking at where they are going).
The woman had a walking stick, while the man held onto her shoulder.

Watching them for a while (and not having to feel self-conscious that they were noticing me stare at them), I realized that it seemed to work very well.
In fact, it seemed to make more sense than the alternative. If they both had walking sticks it would not only be redundant but they would likely get in each other's way.

I should say that I am not trying to make a criticism of the phrase itself. I don't think the phrase 'like the blind leading the blind' should be stricken from our vocabulary, because even though in reality it is actually a good, practical thing, conceptually the phrase works to describe what it is trying to describe.

Late night.

It is 2:33 at night. Since I normally go to bed at 9 or 10, I have that strange feeling I used to get when I would stay up until 4 or 5 am, which I wrote about here. .
I wonder which chemicals are being released in my brain which cause this feeling. I wish there were a drug to simulate it. I am sure that, in theory, there is. And that very likely, some plant somewhere, perhaps undiscovered or at least untasted by humans, contains the chemicals which can either mimic or this feeling.
Or perhaps some chemist somewhere has discovered it. Did you know there are chemists who invent all sorts of psychotropic drugs? One guy in California has invented over 300, almost all of which are legal, since they are too unknown to have been brought to the attention of law makers.

Did you know that every drug which people abuse is naturally made by the body? Think about it. If the body did not already make it, or something very similar to it, then the body would not have receptors for it and the drug would have no effect on humans. Think of heroin (or morphine or Percocet or Tylenol with Codeine), these are opiates. It activates the body's opiate receptors. Why do we have opiate receptors? Not for opium. For endorphins. Opiates are similar enough to endorphins that they hook up to the receptors in our brains which are meant for them. The same principal applies to all other psychotropic drugs.

I remember reading an article about Muslims in Europe who were upset with some food company that included trace amounts of alcohol in their products as a preservative. They were upset because as Muslims they are forbidden from any alcohol. However, their own bodies produce more alcohol than that which was in those food products as preservatives. In fact, some people's bodies produce naturally so much alcohol that if they were to be given a breathalizer test by a cop they would register as being legally intoxicated.

This late night feeling is so interesting. I never feel it otherwise. Except maybe when I was manic I felt something similar. The feeling of being connected to everything. This is much more calm though than when I was manic. It is wonderful. But I feel very sleepy. zzzzzzzz. goodnight. zzzzzzzzz (those zzz's are not really my snores. It's just ol' me. Wide awake typing the letter "z" over and over. But I really am super tired. And an about to go to bed.



I realize that probably none of us are in need of another type of website to occupy our time, but I recently became of a website I think is really cool.

Basically, the site allows you to ask me questions. Or, if you make an account, for me to ask you questions.

For some reason the site has the non-descriptive name, Formspring.me

Here is my page. www.Formspring.me/chrisalmond

Give it a try! Ask me any question. You can do it anonymously. You don't even have to make an account. But if you do make an account, and I think you should, let me know and I will ask you some questions. Hopefully, one day, many of my friends will have formspring.me accounts. It will be sort of like when we all had diaryland accounts.

And to my Anonymous Mormon Commenter (AMC), what is up buddy? Did you read my post directed to you? If so, what did you think of it? Did you think I made any valid points? Was I able to change your mind at all? What do you think of my writing style? Do you ever think I am funny or do you have a different sort of humor? Feel free to leave me another anonymous comment! Will you ask me some questions on formspring.me?



I had a really great birthday, all thanks to Marissa. It really is so nice to be in a committed relationship. To have someone who is willing to consistently go out of their way to do things like make sure you have a good birthday means a lot. The world can sometimes be an unwelcoming place, but having someone who is always on your side makes it much more congenial.
(Congenial may seem like an odd word choice. I had a hard time decided what would be the right word to use here, but after checking a thesaurus, I thought congenial seemed closest to what I wanted to say. Congenial: pleasant or agreeable because suited to one’s taste or inclination. Having someone always on your side makes the word much more congenial.)

Things like lists are useful because they can convey a lot of information using only a minimal amount of words. Here is a birthday list:

⦾⧈⧂ Brand new, portable water color set, just like the one I've had for so many years, but is no longer usable.

⦾⧈⧂ Coupons for books about Tea and training cats.(I really want to learn teach Glen Close things to enhance our communication with each other).

⦾⧈⧂ Coupons for things you probably don't want to hear about.

⦾⧈⧂ A Cd of Marissa pretending to be a book on tape from audible.com, a radio DJ and songs on the radio in various genres.

⦾⧈⧂ A box of lemon cake mix that never got made.

⦾⧈⧂ A beautiful drive through a Forrest where a shocking number of trees had blown over from hurricane force winds in 2007.

⦾⧈⧂ 15$ for pizza that tasted like the cheapest sort of frozen pizza.

⦾⧈⧂ 7$ for pizza that was literally the best pizza I have ever had. And, oddly, it was being sold inside of a State Park by a friendly older guy with an Asian wife at least 20 yrs his junior.

⦾⧈⧂ Breakfast at place where you have to line up outside that gave Marissa a waffle (although she ordered pancakes) that was about 5$ and about the size of a CD in terms of both thickness and diameter.

⦾⧈⧂ A light house.

⦾⧈⧂ Sleeping in a Yurt.

⦾⧈⧂ Watching "The Informant" in a Yurt.

⦾⧈⧂ Really enjoying 'The Informant' and its refreshingly non-glamorized portrayal of the Fbi.(unlike every other show or movie, which portrays the Fbi as ultra-cop super heroes, rather than the white collar office guys they most often are.)

⦾⧈⧂ Getting really freaked out by raccoons lurking in the dark around our Yurt and trying to scare them off with a broom.

⦾⧈⧂ Having our hearts melt when raccoons look right at us with what felt like sad, pleading eyes.

⦾⧈⧂ Getting comfortable about raccoons lurking in the dark and feeding them English muffins and avocados.

⦾⧈⧂ Having a mediocre campfire because our wood was too moist.

⦾⧈⧂ Drinking beers around our mediocre campfire and talking about our families. Feeling way more intoxicated than expected because of iron supplements which apparently enhance the subjective affects of alcohol considerably.

⦾⧈⧂ Being able to walk 100 yards in one direction and be on a sandy beach, 100 yards in another direction and be in the middle of a dense forest and 100 yards in another direction and be atop a rocky cliff looking over crashing waves.

⦾⧈⧂ Trying to predict other people's futures.

⦾⧈⧂ Stumbling upon an arcade full of awesome video games and spending 15$. (this arcade also had a 'game' that simulated being on a ride, such as a roller coaster or haunted house. You laid back in a chair which bumped and shook while watching a screen.)

⦾⧈⧂ Getting to be the Birthday Boy and have everything be my way or the highway.

⦾⧈⧂ Listening to 'Savage love' podcasts while driving on the Highway 101.

⦾⧈⧂ Having a rash 'where the sun doesn't shine' or 'you know where' (from having recently been doing a lot of bike riding for the first time in many months) that by the end of the day got so bad I could hardly walk.

⦾⧈⧂ Getting home and Glen freaking out because he is so excited to see us. Him incessantly licking our hands and arms and when we fall asleep him crawling under the covers and licking our legs.








Burning bosom

Sometimes I will be laying in bed, surfing the internet and I will begin to feel an almost overwhelming burning in my bosom. It will make me think, 'am I having a deeply spiritual experience? If I were having a deeply spiritual experience, shouldn't I feel more certain about it? Besides, why would this happen while surfing the internet? Is there something deeply spiritual about "Google Fast Flip" that is causing this overwhelming sensation? Will the information that "Former NSA Official Leaked Secrets Via Hushmail" somehow end up having a big impact on my life, so God is trying to focus my attention on this article?
Have my doubts about spirituality been wrong all along and I am being overwhelmed with a burning bosom just to show me how wrong I was?"
After a while the my burning bosom will get stronger and stronger, to the point where it becomes uncomfortable. At this point it will occur to me that I have been resting my laptop on my chest, causing it to feel 'on fire'.

Last night

Last night as I was falling asleep, exhausted after a busy birthday day, I had an idea for something I wanted to write in here. It felt so brilliant and edgy it made me excited. I remember feeling it was unlike anything I had ever done before and would cause a lot of controversy.

Now I can't remember what it was.

I have a feeling that even if I remember, it won't live up to my remembered hype.



Today is my birthday!!!!
Happy Birthday to meeee!!!!!!
I can't believe I am 28!!!
I am finally old enough to legally smoke crack/cocaine!
I have had a really fun day and night before today! and will have a really fun evening!
Of all the things which have made today a special day, this was one of them:

Imagine if this was a person's only birthday greeting.


Response to an Anonymous Mormon*

(Because I really want Anonymous to read my response, I am taking my brother's advice and making my response to him/her shorter so as to make it more likely to be read . Anonymous, if you are out there, I am dying to hear your response! Leave me a comment! {If you are feeling extra motivated, the previous entry contains the original, longer version of my reply to you. I would have just shortened my original entry shortly after having written it, but my internet was down all last evening so I'm making a new entry altogether.})

As a reminder, here is what you said to me:

Anonymous said...

Always funny how those who leave the church never can leave it alone. Your pursuit of self justification will yield no fruit, of course. This isn't a final judgment, of course, a word of advice: keep this nonsense to yourself.

Your comment indicates you are an active Latter Day Saint. Can you imagine how you would feel if you wrote a blog post expressing your feelings about the Church and I left you a comment telling you to 'keep your nonsense beliefs to yourself'?
I imagine you would find it frustrating. You would likely find it further justification of the truthfulness of what you were saying and if anything it would give you encouragement to speak of your beliefs more often.

This is close to how I feel after reading your comment.

I will try and explain more of why your comment is so deeply frustrating to me:

Your comment represents part of the reason I left the Church and part of the reason I stay away. Ie. People who are uncomfortable with the truth and want to silence voices which disagree with their own. Thankfully this does not apply to all Church members or leaders, but enough so, that it was one motivation in my leaving the Church.

Any organization or individual which seeks to silence those who disagree with them strikes me as the opposite of 'good'. Their claims become automatically weakened and suspicious. Anyone who claims to seek after truth should be open to all forms of inquiry and commentary.

Had you merely disagreed with me and expressed why I would have not been bothered at all, however, you made no effort to counter any points I have made, rather you had the audacity to try and dictate to me what you feel is acceptable for me to write about.

Whats worse, is that you have done this on MY blog. My place to talk about my personal thoughts, feelings and experiences. Had I, for example, left a comment on your blog saying something critical about the Church, perhaps I would understand why you would tell me to keep it to myself. But for you to feel justified in dictating what I can and cannot write about on my own blog is upsetting. I imagine you knew before reading my blog what sort of person I am and what sort of things I write about. If these things make you uncomfortable the better solution would have been for you to not read my blog in the first place rather than to read it, then advice me to not have written it.

To address the first part of your comment: "Always funny how those who leave the church never can leave it alone."

This is untrue for many I know who leave the the Church, but for those for whom it is true, it is understandable.

Anyone who grows up in an institution that influences so many aspects of their life and one in which they were intimately part of, will, of course, find it deeply affects much of their life and thinking even long after they leave and will, if they are open about their thoughts and feelings, tend to speak of this. This does not mean they are attacking that organization or seeking to justify themselves. It is also not evidence that the organization is true, as some Church members seem to claim. If this were the case, Scientology would probably be the most true religion as it has the most vehemently outspoken critics and former members.

This phenomenon is by no means exclusive to the Lds Church. It is common to most religious organizations, particularly those which exert a strong influence on the lives of its members.

Do you feel that people who are lapsed Jews, Muslims, Flds etc, who speak about the organization they were raised in are trying to justify themselves? I imagine not. Because you are not emotionally tied to these organizations, you are able to see more objectively that it is only natural for anyone who is raised in a particular organization and leaves it later in life, to find it difficult to 'Leave alone'.

Finally, while your comments may be relevant to other things I have written in regards to the Church, it is strange to me you would have left this comment on this particular entry. It isn't as if, just out of the blue, I decided to write a super long blog entry about Mormonism. I wrote it because missionaries came TO MY HOUSE. In this instance, I wrote about Mormonism, not because I can't leave the Church alone, but because it is something which just barely happened to me.

Adding to that, this entry wasn't even negative towards the Church. (which makes me question whether you had even read it before leaving your comment. If you hadn't actually read my post before commenting, which is all the more frustrating that you would attempt to belittle and silence my thoughts without first even knowing what they are.) I briefly touched on some of my views of the Church insofar as it was relevant to the story, but otherwise this wasn't a critique on Mormonism. It seems that anything about Mormonism which isn't absolutely positive you find offensive. Which is unfair. People are allowed to not feel positively towards things you like.

*I am not trying to point a finger at Mormons by using 'Mormon' in my title, but I thought that if Mormon were in the title you, anonymous would be more likely to read this.


Dear Anonymous Mormon commenter.

I don't normally get worked up by comments people leave, but a particular comment left anonymously on my last post has kind of ruffled my feathers. (oh yeah, did you know I have feathers? Strange but true.)

Because of this, and because I really wanted this anonymous commenter to read my reply I am making a blog entry of my comment. I feel the anonymous commenter is more likely to notice my response if it is in a post of its own, rather than tucked away in the comments section of my previous post.

What I am writing here is essentially what I wrote in the comments section, with a few additions and edits.

I will first post the Anonymous comment which inspired this:

Anonymous said...

Always funny how those who leave the church never can leave it alone. Your pursuit of self justification will yield no fruit, of course. This isn't a final judgment, of course, a word of advice: keep this nonsense to yourself.

To begin with, I do not begrudge your leaving your comment anonymously. I have noticed other people call out anonymous commenter as cowards for not revealing their identity. I understand it can be an awkward situation to post a critical comment on the blog of someone you may not know well and so understand your desire to remain unknown. However, I am very curious as to your identity. While I have my guesses, you are welcome to reveal who you are in the comment section of this post. I understand if you are not comfortable revealing your identity, however, I would still be interested in hearing whatever response you may have to my reply to your comment.
Also, while I have made an effort to not be un-kind in my response, I am likely being more blunt and unsparing in my response than I may have been had you revealed your identity.

Based on your comment, it seems clear that you are a believer in the Church. Can you imagine how you would feel if you wrote a blog post expressing your feelings about the Church and I left you a comment telling you to 'keep your nonsense beliefs to yourself'?
I imagine you would find it frustrating. You would likely find it further justification of the truthfulness of what you were saying and if anything it would give you encouragement to speak of your beliefs more often.

This is close to how I feel after reading your comment.

I will try and explain more of why your comment is so deeply frustrating to me:

Your comment represents part of the reason I left the Church and part of the reason I stay away. Ie. People who are uncomfortable with the truth and want to silence voices which disagree with their own. I am not saying this represents all Church members, but it clearly represents yourself and others within the Church generally and some of it's leadership.(thankfully not all.)

Any organization which seeks to silence those who disagree with them strikes me as the opposite of 'good'. Any group or individual claiming to seek after truth should be open to all forms of inquiry and commentary.

When a person seeks to silence his/her critics it weakens their position. It comes across as evidence that they have something to hide. This makes their beliefs automatically suspicious, and less likely to be believed. On the other hand, when someone is open to all forms of truth and inquiry, it makes their claims much more believable.

That anyone would wish to silence those who disagree with them strikes me as being strange and unkind. That someone would want to do it in the name of God(ie, Truth) is even weirder.

If you had merely disagreed with me I would have felt entirely different. Suppose in your comment you had tried to refute any points I made, I would feel 100% okay about it, in fact I would likely even appreciate it, as I enjoy a friendly debate or having pointed out to me an error I may have made. But to belittle my beliefs while trying to silence me is disconcerting, to say the least? Do you honestly, in your heart of hearts, see this as good?

I would now like to address the first part of your comment. You said: "Always funny how those who leave the church never can leave it alone."

Were you to have said "always funny how those who spend the first 24 years of their lives in a particular organization can never leave it alone", perhaps it would be more obvious why this is true, and not funny at all or something unique to the Church.

Anyone who grows up in an institution that influences so many aspects of their life and one in which they were intimately a part of, will, of course, find it deeply affects much of their life even after they leave and therefore will find it difficult to 'leave it alone'.

This does not mean they are attacking that organization or seeking to justify themselves. It is also not evidence that the organization is true, as some Church members seem to claim. If this were the case, Scientology would probably be the most true religion as it has the most vehemently outspoken critics and former members.

I have found that many people who have left tightly knit religious communities, particularly those they have grown up in, find it difficult to leave that organization alone. This includes the FLds Church, Jews, Muslims, various forms of Christianity and, as mentioned above, Scientology.

This phenomenon is by no means exclusive to the Lds Church. It is common to most religious organizations, particularly those which exert a strong influence on the lives of its members.

Do you feel that people who are lapsed Jews, Muslims, Flds etc, and who speak out about the organization they were raised in are trying to justify themselves? I imagine not. Because you are not emotionally tied to these organizations, you are able to see more objectively that it is only natural that anyone who is raised in a particular organization and leaves it later in life, will find it difficult to 'Leave alone'.

Imagine a former Muslim writes a blog post about Islamic missionaries coming to their door to which a currently practicing Muslim responds by telling them to 'keep that nonsense to themselves'. Wouldn't you find that level of censorship off putting? Wouldn't it make you feel that the active Muslim had something to hide or was uncomfortable with the truth? Perhaps you would even see it as further evidence that Islam is not a true religion?

I imagine you often talk about your belief in the Church. Do you see this as 'self-justification' Of course not and neither do I. I wish you could afford me the same respect as to view my beliefs, and my right to talk about them, as you do yours. This is what it means to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

One final point I would like to make. One particular reason your comment ruffles my feathers is that you left this comment on my personal blog. My place to talk about my personal thoughts, feelings experiences. Yes, it is viewable by the public, yet by no means are you obligated to read anything I write. That you would have the audacity, to try and dictate to me what I may and may not write about in my personal blog is upsetting to me. Had I written negative comments about the Church on, for example, your blog or in a personal email to you, your response might be understandable.
If the things which I write about are as upsetting to you as it seems, perhaps the best solution would be for you should consider not reading it in the first place rather than reading it and then telling me to "keep this nonsense to yourself".
One last thing. While your comments may be relevant to some other things I have written in regards to the Church, it is strange to me you would have left this comment on this particular post because it isn't as if I, just out of the blue, decided to write this super long blog entry about mormonism. I wrote it because missionaries came TO MY HOUSE.
In this instance, I wrote about mormonism, not because I can't leave the Church alone, but because it is something which just barely happened to me.
What is also weird to me, is that this entry wasn't even necessarily negative towards the Church. I explained some of my views of the Church insofar as it was relevant to the story, but otherwise this wasn't a critique on Mormonism. It just seems that anything about Mormonism which isn't absolutely positive you find offensive. Which is unfair. People are allowed to not feel positively towards things you feel positively towards.


The one time when Lds Missionaries Came to My House.(two days ago)

(This is really long. It may have way more details than you are interested in, but I just drank a bunch of coffee so get ready! Think of it as a chapter in a book of autobiographical essays. I would really like to write a book of autobiographical essays. This entry follows a narrative so it is likely easier to read than if it were of equal length but just ideas. Before you dismiss it altogether because of its length, I ask you, just give the first few paragraphs a try. If it isn't interesting, go ahead and skip it, but maybe it will grab your attention and you will want to keep reading)

On Saturday, two (of course) Mormon Missionaries came to my door.

I have been looking forward to this moment ever since I left the Church.

One common complaint from people who leave the Church is that even if they move, the Church continues to contact them, despite their efforts to break all contact.
If anything, I have had the opposite problem. I really like talking about why I left the Church, especially to people who are still in the Church, unfortunately I don't have that many opportunities to. Also, I don't want to come across as aggressive or hostile by constantly telling people why I disagree with their religion, so unless they ask me, I likely won't mention it. (I don't mind writing about that stuff in my blog though, which I feel is totally different than bringing something up to a person's face.)

In all of the four years since I've left the Church, no one from the Church (aside from friends or family. But those are friends and family, not people 'from the Church') has ever made an effort to bring me back into the fold or discuss why I left. Needless to say, I was very excited for this chance. Not only would I get to talk about a topic I find so interesting, but it would be with people who were dedicating two years of their lives to the sake of talking about this topic. If anything, they would be more interested in and dedicated to the conversation than even I was.

A few weeks ago my 16 year old nephew, who at 15 years old declared himself an atheist, informed me that his parents had had some missionaries sent to me. Because of that, I have been expecting these missionaries for awhile now and earlier in the day I was even wondering if they would be coming soon.

The missionaries first knocked on my door shortly before 2:00 pm. Marissa gets off work at 2:00 pm and I knew she wouldn't enjoy coming home after a hard day of working to find missionaries in our living room, so I informed them they could come back later and we agreed on 6pm.

During this 4 hours I was so excited! My imagination ran wild, imagining different scenarios. I had images in my mind of a long, intense discussion on various aspects of Mormon theology and life generally. I set some books aside for references in case they wanted me to prove any point I was trying to make.

I even took a shower and cleaned up the house. (Marissa and I normally keep our house clean, but I had been making a present for my grandpa using metal, wood and power tools, so there had developed a bit of a mess.)

My thinking was that if the house were messy and I was un-showered they might think it was because I was so depressed from no longer having the Holy Ghost in my life that I was unable to take care of myself. I wanted to make as persuasive a case as I possibly could, so I didn't want something small like that getting in the way.

When it was nearly 6pm, Marissa left to run some errands because she had some errands to run as well as not having a desire to interact with Missionaries.(in this respect we are opposite)

I started making some tea, and was about to use the bathroom when I heard a knock on the door. I answered, invited them in and explained how I was about to use the bathroom just before they knocked and showed them where they could sit. I also asked them to keep an eye on the tea kettle and to take it off the heat if it began to whistle.

When I came back downstairs from the bathroom I finished making my tea. (I have a somewhat long and elaborate tea making process, involving loose leaf tea, small wicker baskets and various tea utensils. It is one of the highlights of my day and something I will soon write a full entry about, with pictures.)

While I made my tea, the Missionaries and I chit-chatted and got to know a bit about each other . Having served as a missionary myself, I knew this was routine. Before getting into anything deeper or gospel related, you first want to 'Build a Relationship of Trust' (or BRT.) This is an understandable and common sense approach to set the stage for telling someone you have important news about what happens after we die. If you are comfortable and familiar with a person you will be more likely to listen when they inform you that most of your core beliefs are mistaken.

Both Elders are from Utah county. Both have been on a mission for about 1 year. One of the missionaries is into art and design and seemed to really enjoy our house and all the art it contains. When he first came in he said something like "Whoa! This place is awesome!". The other missionary seemed a bit more bookish and reserved.

These two boys were pretty much opposite personalities. The artistically inclined fellow has a large build, brown hair and a loose, warm and informal manner.
The other missionary was very thin, almost frail, with red hair. His mannerisms were much more proper and somewhat shy. He has a lot of stereo-typically homosexual mannerisms, including a lisp. I would be the opposite of surprised if I one day found out he is gay. He seemed smarter than the brown haired missionary, but less likable. He had an up-tightness about him that was off-putting. (I'm not trying to put this kid down, just explain my impressions.)

(for the life of me I can't remember their names. I will call the artistically inclined, brown haired missionary Elder Brown, and the other one Elder Red)

Normally when I am around Missionaries, I tend to get good vibes. ( I am a big believer in vibes, though I don't necessarily think it is anything supernatural. Most likely it is based on Mirror Neurons and possibly even the different energy patterns which are emitted by different emotional states). However, I noticed from early on that these Elders didn't seem to emit the positive vibes I'm used to getting from Missionaries.

While talking to them about the art in my home I mentioned that while most was made by myself, some of it was made by my girlfriend, which led to us talking about Marissa and how I met her in Provo where she had attended Byu.

When I mentioned having met Marissa at Byu Elder Brown said something along the lines of "So I assume your girlfriend is Mormon as well?"

This question caught me off guard. What did they believe my relationship with the Church was? Did he mean, 'was she, like you, baptized in the Church but eventually left it?' or did he mean 'is she also an active believing Mormon, such as as yourself?' He seemed to mean the second. If so, where did this belief come from and what were they then doing here in the first place?

I explained to them that she had been baptized into the Church but was no longer a member, the same as myself.

They asked me about my current religious beliefs/practices which I told them about and they then asked what, if anything, had led me away from the Church, or if I had never been a devout member.

I explained how I had been very devout, had gone on a mission, but eventually left the Church in 2006 because of complications/contradictions within and surrounding church history and the Book of Mormon. I also told them about how for two years before I left the Church I still attended regularly because, while I no longer believed it was true, I wanted to believe it and was trying to reconcile my faith.

When I said the part about having spent a while being an active member with serious doubts Elder Red gave Elder Brown a glance that seemed to say "Sound familiar? I told you you will eventually leave the Church altogether if you keep it up with your doubts."

After explained my current relationship with the Church, Elder Brown said something like "So I guess you don't want any home teachers or anything?"

When Elder Brown said this, I noticed Elder Red shaking his head, in what seemed to be disapproval of Elder Brown.

I agreed that I didn't want home teachers.

At point it became came clear why they were here. Somehow my records had recently been transferred to this area but they hadn't seen me at church and so were under the impression I had just moved here but had not yet made contact with my local ward so they were stopping by to help me get situated with home teachers and the local ward. I asked if their visit had anything to do with my sister's referral and they assured me it did not.

Once this all came out and they realized I wasn't really interested in having home teachers or going to Church they made as if to get ready to go. They asked if I there was anything they could do to help me.

Somewhat as a joke I explained how I had earlier tried to have my name removed from the records of the Church, but it didn't work out, and maybe they could help me with that.

Much to my surprise Elder Brown said, "yeah, no problem, you will need to go through The Bishop, I can give you his name and number"

Elder Red was visibly shocked and upset at Elder Brown for agreeing to help with my request and even hit him lightly, a gesture that seemed to surprise even himself.

When I realized why they had come and that now they would be leaving I was pretty disappointed. I had been looking forward to the discussion which would ensue from them trying to convince me the Church was true, so I said:
"Aren't you going to try and convert me?"

Elder Brown said they could, but didn't totally seem into the idea, which caused me to fee a bit guilty that I might be wasting these guys time since we both probably knew there was no way they would convince me, so I told them so.

Elder Brown reassured me that it was a Saturday evening during spring break so they had nowhere else to be. (I'm not aware of any schools in the area which are on spring break, but I understood his point.)

Elder Brown bore his testimony about how the Church has made him happier. He made some mention about how his testimony has had its ups and downs and has never been as strong as others, but that being an active member of the Church made him happier. (This seemed to explain the look Elder Red had given Elder Brown, when I mentioned having spent 2 years as an active but disbelieving member.)

Elder Brown clearly wasn't great with words and Elder Red's disdain for Elder Brown's teaching style was visible, through eye rolls and head shakes. It was clear these missionaries likely had some deep running tensions, which probably explained their lack of positive vibes.

In response to Elder Brown's explanation of the Church making him happier, I showed the Elders something from a book I have, published by Byu, which is a sociological survey of Latter Day Saint life. In the book it shows that while Latter Day Saints are, on average, happier than the overall population, they are no more happier than people of any other faith, and are actually less happy than the members of a few faiths.

As we talked about the role of religion plays in terms of one's happiness, I realized that even if they had come to my house full of fire and passion seeking to convert me, it could probably never have been the sort of experience I had been dreaming of. 19-21 year old boys are so much younger and inexperienced than I had been thinking. Were I to try and debate with them to the level I had imagined, I would have felt like a bully, beating up on someone smaller than myself.

These young men just didn't have the knowledge or experience to engage with me in a serious discussion. It is no fault of their own. How many 19 year olds are?
I remember being a missionary, feeling so much confidence in my own abilities, but looking back now, I realize how little I actually knew and how silly I must have come across to some of the people I was trying to teach.

I remember tracting(going from door to door, trying to find people who are willing to listen to your message) into an older woman who had a Phd in Religious studies. She seemed appalled at the idea that we felt we had something to teach her. At the time I thought it was unfortunate that her pride and learning interfered with her ability to learn God's truth. Looking back now I almost feel embarrassed that I thought I could have taught her anything, and realize how goofy I must have seemed. That anyone over the age of 25 listened to us at all seems almost amazing to me. What do 19-21 year olds (many of whom haven't even gone to college yet) think they can teach grown men and women with experience, educations and families about the deepest subjects of life? It is no wonder the growth rates for the Church have become stagnant in the United States and have declined in western Europe.

My discussion with the missionaries went on a little longer, with more testimony bearing, and me trying my hardest to be respectful and attentive, yet respond to their points with as truthful an explanation of my thoughts as possible.

Eventually I got up to pour more hot water into my tea, while explaining that while I don't doubt that the sensation of feeling the holy ghost is a real phenomenon, I believe it is merely a chemical process that can happen for a variety of reasons, including drugs, and there is no reason to include God in the equation when it can be easily explained by other means.

After I said this, Elder Red, who hadn't really said or done much the entire time, except to show disapproving for Elder Brown, suddenly said, "We have somewhere else we need to be, so we should go".
I knew this wasn't true, because Elder Brown had already said they had nowhere else they needed to be.

I wonder what made him suddenly want to leave. Perhaps he believed he had encountered a real life Korihor and felt 'prompted by the spirit' to leave.
Perhaps he worried that since Elder Brown already had his doubts, the issues I was raising would have an influence on his testimony. Perhaps a combination of the two. Perhaps something else entirely.

As they were getting their things together to leave I said "I don't want to be rude or presumptuous, but it seems that you two don't get along very well"
They looked at each other with surprise and a look that seemed to say 'how did he know?'

I told them it came across pretty clearly in the way Elder Red would shake his head and roll his eyes when Elder Brown spoke. I also mentioned when Elder Red hit Elder Brown.
Elder Brown didn't really say anything, and Elder Red said "It's nothing. You don't need to worry about it.' He said his hitting Elder Brown was just an accident. (his hand accidentally flew from his lap and into Elder Brown's shoulder?)

I told them that even if they did, in fact, get along well, it came across as otherwise and that if I were a sincere investigator it would make accepting their message more difficult.

With that they left. Elder Red gave me a less than cheerful good-bye and Elder Brown gave me a warm and cheerful goodbye.

After the door was closed I ran upstairs to see if I could see them out of the bedroom window and get a sense of what they may be saying to each other, but I my vision of them was blocked by trees/roofs.

After they left I wished I had thought to tell them they were welcome to stop by any time for a drink or a meal.

Since I imagine only the most committed of readers made it this far, I would like to say, Congratulations! You made it! Two kudos for you! You read the entire thing! Way to go! For those of you who just scrolled down to read the last part, no kudos or pats on the back for you. However you do have my sympathies. Only very rarely do I read blog posts even half this long. Maybe I should make a condensed version of this for those who are interested in what happened, but don't have the focus or commitment to read this whole thing.



A few minutes ago, someone was knocking on our neighbors door for over ten minutes.

Because our front doors are approximately 1 ft. apart from each other, the sound of someone knocking on our neighbors door is 95% as loud as someone knocking on our own front door.
Because of this, I often cannot tell whose door is being knocked on. This leads to the occasional not opening our door when I think it is being knocked on because I think it is the neighbors door, or me answering our door when it is actually the neighbors door being knocked on.

Because I was in the kitchen, right by the front door, I could tell for certain it wasn't our door being knocked on. Despite this, after about 5 minutes of knocking had passed, I was curious to see who the eternal knocker was, and so pretended I thought they were knocking on my door.

I expected to see someone young, but was surprised to see an older couple, perhaps in their 60's, with a dog. When I opened my door, they looked at me with the look of death then looked away. I surmised these were likely the parents of the female half of the couple which is my neighbors. I went back inside and the knocking continued for at least 5 more minutes. I even heard them try and open the door a couple times.

While the knocking wore on, I couldn't remember if my neighbors were home or not. Although I can hear nearly every sound they make, it is so ubiquitous I tend to tune it out.

I decided they probably were not home, as I had never heard them not answer their door for anyone before.

I felt both amused and slightly annoyed that the 60 year old couple kept knocking.

Clearly my neighbors were either not home or didn't want to be bothered. Our duplex is fairly small, so unless you have headphones on, there is virtually no chance you would miss the sound of the door being knocked. The bedroom is directly above the front door, so even if you are asleep, it resonates loudly enough to awake even a deep sleeper.

Even if they were home, what did these knockers think would happen? That after 10 minutes of knocking they would suddenly open the door? After 10 minutes, so much time has passed that to open the door would be the most awkward of all possible choices.

Eventually the knocking ceased. About 1 minute later I heard the hum of our neighbors lives resume. Apparently they HAD been home the entire time and were avoiding the door.
I'd be interested to know the reason.


Newspaper Article about fashion.

Yesterday,Meghan asked if I would write an article for the UVU newspaper, for which she is an editor. The paper is doing a segment on beauty and she wanted me to write something on the topic. I had to submit the article by earlier today and because I couldn't think of anything off the top of my head to say on the subject, I searched my noodle(brain) for something I may have already written on the topic. Although I feel as if I have written so much about so many topics, I couldn't really think of anything I had written specifically about beauty. I remembered something I wrote, probably about 4 or 5 years ago about people who put a lot of effort into keeping up with current clothing trends. The article I wrote is an expansion of what I wrote then. I think the article may come across as me feeling more passionately about the subject than I do. Had I not been asked to write on this topic it likely isn't something I would have written as it isn't necessarily something I feel that strongly about.(It isn't that I don't think it is an important topic, just that I personally do not think about it often.) I wouldn't say at all that I don't agree with what I wrote, but it also isn't something I feel that passionate about. However, having been in a position where I needed to write something on the subject, these were my thoughts(here is the article I wrote) ( I really love putting things in parenthesis)
(I guess what I am trying to say is that although this article I wrote might make it seem otherwise, I don't walk around judging people who worry about if their clothes are in style. If asked my opinion of it I would give a negative one, but if my opinion wasn't asked, I typically don't think about it one way or the other. Although in high school I did. And maybe for a few years just outside of high school.)

I think we have all heard someone, when looking back at old photos of themselves say something along the lines of : "What was i thinking? How could I have thought ____(article of clothing) was a good idea?"

What were they thinking? The same thing they are still thinking, "I am scared to appear different from my peers because I worry they will not accept me." Their idea of what is beautiful is based on what others around them see as beautiful.

I do not wish to say people do not genuinely like the clothes they wear, I believe they do, but this sincere liking is derived from what those around them like.

Those who hold most tightly to contemporary fashions, are those most likely to look back with disgust on their own fashions. Think of the ‘hip’ dressers from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

I acknowledge that the clothes we wear make more than a superficial statement about who we are. A person CAN collect clues about another's inner life by observing the clothes their clothing choices. Our clothes signal to the world some elements of our personality and status. When a person wears clothes which are not 'in-style' it can represent a few different things.

One, they are trying but failing to fit in with their peers by dressing like them,

Two, they don't care about dressing like their peers, so are making no effort to.

Three, they want to stand out.

A person wearing clothes outside of contemporary styles can also be a symbol of that person’s desire for peer approval. By choosing to wear clothing which greatly stand out, this may symbolize an uncomfortableness with their natural selves which they are trying to overcome by standing out and being noticed. I think we have all seen people whose clothing seems to say: "Look at me world! I am unique! I am special! Love me!" Of course it could also mean they sincerely love the look and feel of their clothing despite how much they may stand out.

When a person is trying to fin in with their peers by dressing ‘in style’, yet failing, it often represent a certain degree of unawareness or 'not getting it' on the part of the dresser. It is, perhaps, this sense of obliviousness the out-of-style person has which may be responsible for some of the negative feelings their clothes evoke in others.

When a person is capable of, but chooses not to follow trends which set an arbitrary standard of beauty, it shows an admirable level of independence and confidence on their part which is something to be applauded not criticized. We may not even appreciate the clothes, per se, but the motivations behind wearing them is more admirable than that of someone who is unable to decide for themselves what is beautiful.

The point I am trying to make here is that people shouldn't worry so much about whether or not their clothes are 'in style', because the more they focus on it now, the more they will look back on their current clothing choices with regret. The more fitting in with current styles an article of clothing is today, the worse it will look tomorrow. When I look at old photos of myself, I never feel any sense of 'OMG! WHAT WAS I WEARING!" If anything I think, "I wish I still had that sweater, what happened to it anyway? Oh yeah, luke has it."

At the very least, I hope when people look at other's clothing choices they can acknowledge there is no objective goodness or badness about it. It is merely a symbolic expression of a handful attributes the wearer may have and little else. Constantly worrying if your, or others clothing, is in or out of style signifies an inability to think for oneself and the placing unnecessary importance on the approval of one’s peers.


How angry a person appears seems directly linked to how much you agree with them.

I remember when I first heard the comedian David Cross, I didn't really like him and was even put off. His style of humor is to be kind of angry and over-the-top about his beliefs. This isn't the sort of thing I normally like, even when it is someone I agree with, but when it is done for the sake of humor, if done well, I can find it enjoyable. When I first heard David Cross, I wasn't quite as liberal as I currently am. I don't think I agreed with his views enough to find his anger humorous instead of off putting. Now that I, by and large, agree with all his points, his hyperbolic approach comes across as funny.

Recently I read a review of Micheal Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" in the Daily Herald(The news paper of Utah County, which tends to be very conservative). The article said the movie was full of hate and anger. I had just seen the movie and this surprised me. Regardless of what one may thought of the movie or the politics behind it, saying it was angry or hateful struck me as being almost absurd. However, I suppose that if someone speaks against something you feel deeply about, it feels like an attack. And when we feel attacked we become over-sensitive and tend to see the person speaking as being more aggressive than they may actually be.

When we disagree with someone who voices their opinions strongly, they seem angry and unpleasant. When we agree with a person who voices their opinions strongly, they seem passionate and inspiring.

As well, this seems to apply to how arrogant, self-righteous or pretentious a person appears. (of course there are always exceptions, this is just a general principal)

People often claim to admire those who are passionate about their beliefs whatever those beliefs may be, but in practice this seems to not often be true. When a person claims to like someone on the opposite side of a belief spectrum, it is usually the person who is the least passionate, least intense, about said beliefs, and maybe even agrees with a handful of the oppositions points.(ex. Conservatives tend to be okay with Alan Colmes) In those instances, the person is seen as being reasonable. But if someone on their side of the belief system were to exhibit that same lack of passion about their beliefs, or agree with a few points of the opposing side, they are often seen as wishy-washy spineless or weak willed.

Not long ago I read something one of my friends wrote in reference to Richard Dawkins which surprised me. They (hi james) wrote "If I were an agnostic, watching Richard Dawkins in a theological debate would bring me to believe in God - if only because someone as goofy and pretentious as Dawkins must have been created by a sentient being with a sense of humor."
This surprised me because I had never thought of Richard Dawkins in that way. Now, I am not a big Richard Dawkins fan in terms of his theological issues, (not because I don't agree with him, rather, because I don't think he is that good at it. He is great at science writing, but amateurish at more philosophical issues.) However, I have never thought of him as being goofy and pretentious, and I suppose a good part of the reason is because I tend to agree with what he says. (Sam Harris on the other hand, I find him goofy and pretentious. His book "The End of Faith" makes me want to be a believer just because it is so bad). I can see, if Richard Dawkins were saying things I disagreed with, I might find him "goofy and pretentious". It seems we, unconsciously, perceive people we disagree with much differently, and much less fairly, than those we agree with.


Although I was very excited about graduating, I was a little bit nervous about whether or not I would remain productive once I didn't have deadlines keeping me in check. It turns out my worries were unfounded and I've been getting a lot done. Here is a painting i finished today.

It is oil paint on a Gesso-ed wooden board. The board is about 3/4ths of an inch thick.



Last night while playing with Glen Close, I began playing this particular game with him that almost always evokes his purrs. From the instant he realizes I'm starting to play it, he begins purring. The game is one you might be familiar with, is called Settlers of Catan . (in reality it is just me touching his chest, then bringing my hand in the air, then touching his chest, all while he tries to catch my hand. Not quite as fun as Settlers)

As I began playing the game, and his purrs automatically began, I wondered for a moment if it ever embarrassed him that he couldn't hide his excitement from me. Then I reminded myself I was ascribing to Glen emotions that were too human. Then I imagined if Glen was as intelligent as a human, or if human's could purr, how it might be kind of embarrassing. Almost like getting a boner.

Imagine someone you think is really cool comes and talks to you. Someone a few years older than yourself who you don't know very well, yet you have seen them around and for some reason you really want their approval (you know those sort of people?). Around this person you want to play it cool, and not seem overly eager. But when they begin talking to you, suddenly you start purring like crazy! How embarrassing! Or imagine you have been super busy studying all day for several days and you haven't seen a single person. Eventually you leave the house to get some food, and the next person you see, probably the person helping you as a cashier, causes you to start purring like crazy, just out of happiness to be interacting with another person again. This old lady might think you are a pervert or something. Also a potentially embarrassing situation!

I think it might be good overall though. It would keep us more sincere with each other.
Imagine situations like: "Are you having a good time dear?" "yes" "Then why aren't you purring?" "You are right... I've been stewing all day about how mad I am about...."
Or the above situation about playing it cool. If we purred, there would basically be no more playing it cool! Because how cool could a person come across if they were announcing to the world how happy and excited they were through their purrs? By definition, that would be 'uncool'.
However, I think this would be a good thing to lose our ability to be 'cool', as I prefer the 'warm and friendly' way of being over the 'cool and confident'


Pumping Iron

To all my vegetarian friends.

You might want to consider taking Iron supplements.

Recently, I developed this intense soreness in my tongue. I had never before experienced something similar. You know when your muscles are sore the day after strenuous exercise? It was like that, but in the back of my tongue. It got to the point where it was painful to swallow. I had been somewhat congested during this time, so I thought it was related to that, but eventually the congestion went away but the tongue pain remained. I looked online, and tried to filter through the 108 (108!!!) diseases which cause sore tongue. Aids? Didn't seem likely. Mouth cancer? At this age? To my precious mouth? Median rhomboid glossitis? Geographical tongue? (isn't that a funny disease name?) I was surprised and overwhelmed by how many things can cause a sore tongue. I was even a little scared at how many of them were serious diseases.(brain and heart disorders).

Eventually I came upon something that seemed like it might apply to me and one I could easily remedy. Anemia. Lack of Iron. Common problem for vegetarians. Luckily, we had some iron supplements on hand, because earlier we had thought Marissa may be anemic, and my tongue started feeling better within 30 minutes of taking the iron. After about 3 days the pain was all the way gone. Once the pain was gone I stopped taking the supplement, and yesterday the tongue pain returned. So I think I will probably have to take iron for a while.

Now I realize probably none of you have a sore tongue, so you may be thinking, "Why me? Oh dear god why me? Why do should I take iron? Can't you make someone else? Anyone else? Oh dear God please help me! " This is what you are thinking right? Well, get this! Not only did my tongue stop hurting, but I feel more energy and more focus mentally. Good things that many people I know could use.


What's the deal with movies?

When I was younger, I sometimes wondered why people enjoyed watching movies or television. By people, I include myself. I wasn't wondering, why everyone else liked movies because I myself could not related to the desire. I can relate to the pleasure of watching people pretend to do something, but why? Doesn't it seem so odd? We take so much pleasure in watching people pretend fall in and out of love or be chased by police? We even like to watch people pretend to do things that we would strongly dislike to do in real life, like hang from the skis of a helicopter.(A life long fear of mine, since I have perpetually sweaty hands) What's the deal?

It would seem to make more sense if our movies and television were all filmed from the first person. The movie would then imitate real life.
Cat's, for example, like to watch movies. They like watching things that they like to watch in real life, like bugs or birds. They don't like watching other cats going through dangerous situations or eating food.

Imagine a human movie, similar to this. It would be filmed from the first person and show the things people like to see. It would be like a 'First Person Shooter' video game, except you wouldn't be in control and instead of showing you killing tons of people it would show things like, coming home to find a really nice meal waiting. Or having a group of people tell you that you are wonderful, or stumbling upon a treasure chest filled with gold. Or even the view a person would have while skiing down a mountain. (in this way, video games seem to make more sense than movies, since this is what many of them of them are like)

Of course, a movie like this probably wouldn't be any good. (Although, now I am curious, does anyone know of a movie filmed entirely in the first person?) It seems like a mystery as to why a movie like a described would probably be so bad, while movies where we watch other people pretend to do things are very enjoyable.

I think the answer is actually fairly simple. It is one only recently discovered by science. Also, it is one of my favorite scientific discoveries, one that seems to answer so many odd elements of human life.

The answer.......


I'm just kidding,

the answer is Mirror Neurons. By now there is a good chance you have heard of them, if not you can read this, or I will give you a quick summary. To be brief, (here I am quoting wikipedia) "A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another."
For example, when you lift your arm, certain neurons fire. When you watch someone else lift their arm, those same neurons fire. This is basically the neurological element of empathy. You literally feel other people's actions. We all know how agonizing it is to watch someone in pain. This is because our mirror neurons fire and we feel their pain, to a certain extent.

Considering this, movies and television make a lot of sense. Watching other people experience things on screen is superior to a first person view, because by us watching the actors experience emotions and go through life changing experience, we, in turn, also experience those emotions and life changing experiences, albeit to a lesser degree.

This allows us to literally live vicariously through the actors on the screen.

This photo is of a "brainbow". An entire brain of neurons which have essentially been dyed a variety of colors. I find it beautiful. There are many pictures of it online if you search for DIARrHEA!