Friday, October 31, 2008

Getting Older by the Second

So today at work I made a joke that referenced Carnac the Magnificent. Dead silence and confused stares.

Older and older I get; aging is relentless.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Coercion by Douglas Rushkoff is an interesting book. It basically lays out how businesses and organizations are working nonstop to influence all of your choices. Basically if you go into a situation thinking nothing is having an effect on you, then you are a naive idiot who is sadly blind to the world around them.

Remember what I do when someone asks you "Can you tell me why you are cancelling or not taking advantage of this deal or service."

Your answer should always be a simple no. You do not owe them an explanation. When you present reasons you are only ask them to provide solutions.
This makes 16 books for the month.

Just for Fun

Here is another shot from the wedding. Randy could not see that his love for Star Wars and Hello Kitty would not be very manly. But he is family, so what are you going to do?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Eric - Zombies AND Politics!!

I Have Big Squishy Balls

The Menrichment was a huge success with over 20 participants and no permanent injuries. My right arm is really sore and just to show how mature** I am I will not make the joke that is begging to be made.

The sad part is this picture represents half of our EQ annual budget. Money well spent but I am sure some of you in those big western wards are wondering how we function. To save you the guessing we get $45 a year. We buy the ice cream for the October Priesthood session and then blow the rest on one "big" activity. Of course big is a subjective term.

**I was immature enough to make the "Jeff has blue balls" joke when Jeff happened to pick up the two blue balls. Always funny no matter how old you get.

Random Image Wednesday

I believe this is from Randy & Heather's Wedding - I am second on the right.
My new catchphrase - Cool, like snakes
This actually took Lisa a few seconds to figure out.

Yes it does!

And this just makes me laugh - Dogs are always funny.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Menrichment - What is your EQ doing?

Tomorrow night at the gym - Adult men's dodgeball

It is on like Donkey Kong!

More of the Same

Having previously reviewed The Massacre at Mountain Meadows, I became more interested in the subject of seemingly good people who when in certain circumstances will do horrific things. The first thing that came to mind was the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war on March 16, 1968. Luckily my library had an almost 40 year old book by Seymour Hersh called My Lai 4. The parallels to MMM are very clear. and all the elements that lead to such crimes were all present.
Memorial at My Lai

Again I would make it clear that we all have to be aware we are ALL capable of such things in a given situation. The only chance we have is to be aware of the situation and recognize it for what it is. The ability to step outside ourselves is crucial to preventing it. We can only do that if we are not so prideful and arrogant to think ourselves above it.

The one difference is My Lai, unlike MMM, did have one hero. Hugh Thompson was a helicopter pilot who recognized what was happening was wrong, and was brave enough to act on it by placing his craft between the people and the US troops. How do you think he felt as the years have gone by?

Hugh Thompson

Well worth the read for everyone.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Today in church our 2nd coumselor haughtily admitted to drinking wine on business trips while the gentiles drank beer. I am all for coming clean, it was just the haughty part that confused me.

Kennedy's Brain

Kennedy's Brain is Henning Mankell's latest book. Several years ago Mankell became very involved in Africa and its problems. This latest book discusses AIDS, corrupt pharmaceutical companies, and the taking advantage of the world's poor; all disguised as a thriller. While the author states that this is fiction, if any of it is reality based we live in a very scary world.

A great story.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Slightly Cleaner

The previous Erin McCarthy book I read was Sucker Bet, which was book four in the Vegas Vampire series. This time I went to the beginning and read book one, High Stakes. The writing was pretty funny, but unfortunately I am not sure I was laughing for the right reasons. The serieas must get dirtier as it goes along because while it had its moments, it was nothing compared to book four.

Example quote: "Celibacy is for monks, or ugly people."

That says it all. Good for a quick read only.

The All Time Best Icelandic Fiction

To be honest, Icelandic fiction translated into English is kind of hard to find, and this is the only piece of Icelandic literature I have ever read.

Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason is your typical middle-aged divorced cop who goes against the norm to solve the impossible case. Overall it was an okay plot, semi-engaging lead character, and best of all a short read. There are times where the English is awkward, but I put that down to the translation process not picking up the nuances of speech.

I am trying to read some Icelandic stuff to prepare for our vacation there next summer and I did learn a few things. It rains there a lot; heavy, cold rain. Also Icelanders always address each other using their first names, since most people have a patronymic rather than a "proper surname", ending in -son for son and -dottir for a daughter. So John Smith's son Alan would be called Alan Johnson. People are even listed by their first names in the phone book. Finally I learned, given it is a small island, everyone is required to register where they live with the government. Rick made mention of this and how it helps with less active work.

TV Screwing with My Life

Lisa and I take Parker on a half hour walk every morning at 5:30. During the first part of the walk he will usually find the time to poop, which we (and by we I mean me) being good citizens pick up and throw away. At the halfway point there is a dumpster which I could easily throw my prize bag from behind, but because of the below show I always walk around to the front and carefully look in it before making my deposit.

WHY? Because every other episode begins with some couple walking their dog and finding a body in the trash. Chances of that happening here in small town America - Zero. Which is also the same chance I will not take the extra time and check.

As the great Charlie MacKenzie would say, "Cuckoo"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Random Image Wednesday


Japan - They're Different
One day we will all need the power of...
Funny, because it is true
Lord help you Parker if I ever get bored!
You have to know the last picture is of an adult poodle who has been groomed and dyed to look like that - it is not a costume. This is why it is illegal to do this in some states. Something about animal cruelty.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Holding a little too tight

Hold Tight by Harlan Coben is a well-written book. That said, the plot on this one is a little too contrived.

A man murders a woman who was having an affair too blackmail a teacher who said mean things about a girl who was friends with another girl whose dad was a transplant surgeon and neighbors son need a transplant but his dad couldn't be the donor because the mom had been raped to produce the child and then secretly killed her attacker who by luck was the brother of the wife who died of the original attacker. And that is not all - there is teen suicide, a run away child, emo kids, drugs, the CIA and FBI and on and on and on. And only in about 400 pages.

Anyways, I would recommend starting anywhere but here with Coben. Overall he is an excellent writer and I have read all his books, I just don,t know what amphetamine he was on while coming up with this plot. The writing though, excellent as always so the book is very readable, I finished in about 3-4 hours.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It was hard work

I heard a lot of comment on and off-line about my last two Apple header photographs. I just want to say Lisa spent a lot of time getting in shape for those!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Favorite One

For more of the photo's please see Lisa's blog.

In the photography business

This is now called THE SHAWN

Look into my eyes!!!

And now for something completely different

The story of my life

Massacre at Mountain Meadows

Massacre at Mountain Meadows
by Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley Jr, Glen M. Leonard
Oxford University Press

For a short synopsis of the book please see the Ensign article buy Richard Turley.

This book is an excellent case study of how seemingly good people can commit acts of horrific evil. Phillip Zimbardo in his book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding how good people turn evil, documenting his work The Standford Prison Experiment, theorized that we feel comfortable seeing bad acts as if committed by a few bad apples; that we are above such things. As if to say "I would never had done that." That we would have been the hero, standing up to all those weak people who went along. The truth though is just a bunch of ordinary apples in a bad barrel, all susceptible to going bad. Anotherwords, if you can create the right environment, just about everyone can and will be corrupted.

This book lays out very nicely the events surrounding the southern Utah pioneers, from the harsh rhetoric of Brigham Young, to the widespread rumors and false gossip of the citizens, and the old grudges that killed the soul from within. This led to an atmosphere that made such a heinious crime seem reasonable, but as Juanita Brooks said:

"Exaggeration, misrepresentation, ungrounded fears, unreasoning hate, desire for revenge, yes, even the lust for the property of the emigrants, all combined to give the justification which, once the crime was done, looked inadequate and flimsy indeed"

Typically 3 social factors are in place for great violence to take place.
1. Limited authoritative leadership
2. Conformity (often enforced) among the group
3. Dehumanizing of the victims

All three were strongly present in southern Utah during 1857.

As to the individuals who participated they tried to excuse themselves that they were just following orders (page 180), the past the moral buck forward (page 189), but in the end the guilt and shame for what they had done stayed with them (pages 209 & 214). For me two of the take away points were:

If any leader, Priesthood or otherwise, tells you to do something that you feel is wrong by saying "If it is wrong and I told you to do it, don't worry the punishment will fall to me", you can know of a surety that they are wrong. All great tragedies are begat by leaders who were sure they were right and demanded blind obedience (page 189). And as the participants above can tell you, the guilt never leaves.

Second, having the attitude that you are somehow better and above it all is precisely the attitude that leads you to such great crimes. Pride comes before the fall, and as the Milgram Experiment shows, you the regular citizen are not above it all. You are all in the same barrel and if we are not constantly on guard we will just go along with the flow with everyone else.

As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said:

"If only there were evil people somewhere insidiuosly committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who wants to destroy a piece of his own heart."

The Memorial at Mountain Meadows

New Challenge

Next September. Mark, his brother, and me (and maybe others if we recruit well)

Midwest Monster Adventure Challenge

30 miles mountain biking
2 mile 40# sandbag carry
Orientering Course
Obstacle Course
Kayak Course
10 mile trail run

It is so on.

This is hilarious!!

Family Portrait Preview

We finally brokedown and got family portraits done. The last time we had one done Qatar was a newborn. Anyways a great photographer moved into the ward and we are all taking advantage of it. To see more samples of our family, or her other work, please visit Hawkeye Photography.
And looking at that photograph, I must point out that Gunnar, at just a few weeks past his 15th birthday, is freakishly tall.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Democrats are the party of civility

Yeah right. This is my poor defenseless McCain sign this morning.


While I can't justify spending upwards of $8000 on a home theatre system; well, I could, but she who must be obeyed can't, thank goodness Israel has. It makes Elder Quorum's movie night awesome.

You feel the growls deep in your chest.

If you know

To the self-righteous prigs out there:
Oh yeah, Kiss My ...
Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cute Author, Cute Book

I started reading Sophie Kinsella many years ago when I was going through books about English 30 somethings. She is one of the writers that I have stuck with and has also kept writing. This is romantic comedy of fiction; light, funny, and very entertaining.

Remember Me is a great book, sort of like Regarding Henry, but funny. A quick read.

One of her first books, Confessions of a Shopaholic, is a great place to start, and is soon to be a movie starring Isla Fisher.

And I found a penny - 67 cents

For You Rock Band Losers

How you see it

How everyone else sees it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This is what we in the business call parenting

After the Stake dance that I drove the youth to we were at McDonalds. Gunnar started whining about how he was really thirsty, but since I had already gotten him stuff he was getting no sympathy from me. Finally a very cute girl who was also there passed her drink over to Gunnar and said he could have some of hers. Gunnar takes the cup and lifts the lid and straw and takes a drink. Now realize that there is nothing going on in this particular situation, but I felt the need to have a teaching moment with Gunnar and another guy when the young women went to the rest room.

ME: Do you realize you just said the message that you found the young woman so repellant that let alone kiss her, you wouldn't even stoop so low as to put her straw in your mouth.
Gunnar & Friend: HUH?? Totally clueless
ME: Ask yourself, If I am willing to kiss a girl then a straw is no problem. Plus if she found you that repellant, she would have removed the straw before giving you the cup.

Can you believe they released me as Young Men's President?!?!?

NOTE: Be very careful if searching for images involving girls and cups, you just might get a nasty shock. I did manage to find these super cute non-girl images though.

Random Image Wednesday

I am thinking of making this a regular fixture. I search the internet so you don't have to.
Awkward - or More love and Peace in the World?
The Doorbell speaks for itself.
If Heather Loved You Randy - She would so be getting you this shirt.
For Eric and Shawn - Get a Life!!
A New Level of Awesomeness