Saturday, December 27, 2008

Previous ties to this blog: zero

Perhaps I'm a horrible person, but I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from reading and making fun of this editorial from the Church News that I read on my mission (I actually taped it up on my refrigerator so my companion and I could enjoy it every day). It is a good message and all, certainly one I wholeheartedly agree with: our service and good deeds can have long-lasting positive impacts on people for years to come. However, I really must take exception to the fifth-grade-esque, ridiculous tone of the whole thing. "Why Norway? Because it was there. And they wanted to see it." I'm sorry, but I will always laugh whenever I think of that line, as well as many others from this gem.

Ironically enough, this is probably the only Church News editorial to have a lasting impact on my life, and I'll probably never forget it :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Random thoughts before Christmas

I saw a bald eagle swoop down onto the road and carry off a live squirrel about 30 feet ahead of the car I was driving in yesterday. No joke. It was awesome.

I don't know why I love my home ward so much, but I do. It might be because I'm not particularly good at meeting new people, so at my home ward everybody already knows me so I can just chat with anybody. Also, it just seems a bit more laid-back than my BYU ward.

I can't get Sufjan Stevens' song "Sister Winter" out of my head (it's the last video in the previous post, the one with the weird writing with hearts dotting the i's). It's... kummitav. Haunting is the English word there, I believe.

I've missed reading. For some reason, I did almost no reading this whole semester (the incessant rss feed-reading that I'm addicted to doesn't count) but during finals week I read two or three whole books ("Goodbye, I Love You", "Picasso's War", and "The da Vinci Code" in case you were wondering. I recommend the first one a ton, the second one if you're interested in art history/Picasso/the Spanish Civil War, and the last one if you enjoy terrible writing). It was great. Now I've started The Complete Calvin and Hobbes and soon Kite Runner too. I've also been reading Walden for over a year, and I'm getting close to done! [Random tangent off a random thought: I used to get in trouble in elementary school for reading books while the teacher was teaching.]

I foolishly made a New Year's resolution last year to not play Minesweeper for a whole year (I was super addicted), and then even more foolishly, I didn't break said resolution. And to top it off, I just ended up getting addicted to Freecell instead, which I kind of hate but can't stop playing. So once 2009 arrives, pretty much the first thing I'm going to do is play me a game of Minesweeper on expert. I hope that doesn't make me a bad person. Isn't it kind of like a dog returning to his own vomit?

I'm off to a multi-family Christmas party where I'm giving away a spiderman ball, a Batman disc launcher I got for free out of my grandpa's box of Honey Nut Cheerios, and a $3 cd with 88 jokes on it.

Addendum: The best part of the movie The Santa Clause is how even though they crack jokes about Neal's ugly sweaters the whole movie, it's really the mom's clothes that are ridiculous.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Sufjan Christmas

I absolutely love Christmas music, and possibly the greatest Christmas album ever is Sufjan Steven's. I highly recommend purchasing it, it's a great deal to get 42 awesome songs for just fourteen measly bucks. But I decided to include a few videos here of some of his songs from it. I don't think any of them are the official music videos, but I think they're pretty good.

Man, that's good stuff!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just Wondering

I've noticed that in the Daily Universe (and I assume it's the same in other newspapers) they print the answers to the previous day's Sudoku puzzles. Is it just me, or is that really pointless? Assuming you do Sudoku, either you got them right (in which case you know you did because you can look at them and make sure the columns, rows, and squares all have the requisite digits 1-9), or else you didn't get them due to lack of time, desire, skill, or whatever. In either case, why look at the answers? If you got them right you already know it. If you didn't, looking at a big square full of numbers doesn't tell you how to do it, it just shows you a solution exists. I think we can safely assume that if they put the puzzle in there, it has a solution--though putting in an unsolvable one might be a funny trick to play. But the point is: either way you haven't learned anything. Am I missing something? Does anyone ever care about the answers to yesterday's Sudokus? Should I care that no one should care, yet they print them anyways?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

An Elder Wirthlin Sampler

I think Elder Wirthlin was my favorite apostle, so I was shocked and saddened to hear it announced in my Computer Science 404 class on Tuesday that he had passed away Monday. I figured I'd do a little sampler of some of the talks that he's given that I've enjoyed a lot.
  • This one really spoke to me: even though I'm a weird freak, I belong. I often think of his symphony of piccolos analogy.
    Concern for the One: "Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole."
  • This talk pretty much sums up my philosophy of life and the importance of humor.
    Come What May, and Love It: "Have you ever seen an angry driver who, when someone else makes a mistake, reacts as though that person has insulted his honor, his family, his dog, and his ancestors all the way back to Adam? Or have you had an encounter with an overhanging cupboard door left open at the wrong place and the wrong time which has been cursed, condemned, and avenged by a sore-headed victim?

    "There is an antidote for times such as these: learn to laugh."
  • A great charity talk, and it was the backdrop for the indelible Conference moment when he started shaking during his talk (apparently due to locked knees--also see this moving write-up of the talk) and Elder Nelson got up to support him so that he was able to finish it. A beautiful example of charity in action.
    The Great Commandment: "True love lasts forever. It is eternally patient and forgiving. It believes, hopes, and endures all things. That is the love our Heavenly Father bears for us. We all yearn to experience love like this. Even when we make mistakes, we hope others will love us in spite of our shortcomings—even if we don’t deserve it. Oh, it is wonderful to know that our Heavenly Father loves us—even with all our flaws! His love is such that even should we give up on ourselves, He never will."
  • I remember my mission president speaking on this topic when I was on my mission, and I really enjoyed the idea, and this Conference Address from Elder Wirthlin had a lot of the same thoughts (and now I can't remember which came first!). Either way, great stuff.
    The Abundant Life: "The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a religion of mourning and gloom. The faith of our fathers is one of hope and joy. It is not a gospel of chains but a gospel of wings.

    "To embrace it fully is to be filled with wonder and to walk with an inner fire. Our Savior proclaimed, 'I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.'"
Also, I'd recommend this post of reminiscences of Elder Wirthlin. I'll miss his awesome spirit, but now he can be with his wife, and the church will move on and we'll get even more great new leaders.