Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Living Dead Girl – Book #67

Living Dead Girl
by Elizabeth Scott

This book is technically not on the banned books list, but that is only because it was published last year. I can pretty much guarantee it will be on this years list when it comes out. It might even displace Tango from the top.

I started this book right before bed thinking I would only read a few pages before falling asleep. I couldn’t put it down and read it right through. This book was disturbing and yet extremely thought provoking. It was icky, but beautiful. Ultimately it was extremely well written and will invade your thoughts; and if you are like me and a parent, you will hug your kids and keep them close.

You must remember there is no nice way to present child abuse. A young 10 year old girl is on a school trip to the zoo and is separated from here friends. She is found by Ray who takes her and for the next five years she has been his slave, having to endure repeated sexual abuse daily. Now despite starving her to keep her thin and underdeveloped, waxing to keep the appearance of youth, and hormones to prevent her from maturing, she has grown up and Ray doesn’t like that. It is time for him to find her replacement just like she was a replacement when taken. And this means her days are numbered as she knows Ray killed the last girl. She is a Living Dead Girl – dead inside and soon to be dead outside.

Why is it banned? The whole book is child abuse and repeated rape. Nothing is presented to be titillating or erotic, rather it will disturb you. Disturb you to want to do something to prevent this from happening to any child. Other books I have read along this same vein are David Pelzer’s memoirs (like A Boy Called It) and Alice Sebold’s Lovely Bones. These books will wrench your heart. You would have to be quite mature to read this and I would say maybe 17 at the earliest.

Mormon Mentions: None.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Book #66

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky

This is the book that started it all up in Wisconsin, which has led me to my current project of reading banned books. Published in 1999 it has been on the ALA’s top ten protested books every year since. So I figured it had to be pretty good given that track record.

The book consists of a series of letters written by 15 year old Charlie; a quiet, introspective, bookish boy who finds more pleasure observing life than participating in it. The letters detail his freshman year of high school, discussing his friends and their lives. Ultimately through a series of events that bring him out of his shell he is finally able to confront his past and the tragedy he has repressed. It is a book about being lost, the role of friendship, and the redemptive power of being found.

I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone interested in those issues. It is a messy book in the sense the life he presents is not pretty, but honestly life can be really messy sometimes. As for my kids I would say 16 is a good age to understand the underlying message of the book.

Why is it a banned book? This one is easy; now remember that all of the following involves teenagers. So when I say abuse I mean teenage abuse, etc. The book contains in no particular order: Suicide, Drug Use, Rape, Homosexual Sex, Pedophilia, Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Alcohol Use, Drunk Driving, Fighting, Partner Abuse (i.e. hitting girlfriend), and a mention of bestiality. Now that looks like a really long list but most of these things are only mentioned in passing (like the last one involved one line wherein one character says to another, you remember that one kid who got drunk at a party and tried to get it on with the dog). The book is quite powerful and nothing is mentioned just for shock value; everything seems quite pertinent to the plot.

Mormon Mentions: None!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Six Suspects – Book #65

Six Suspects Add Video
by Vikas Swarup

Swarup is most famous for his first book, Q&A, which was turned into the movie Slumdog Millionaire. His second effort is a murder mystery involving the shooting of a spoiled rich kid of a corrupt politician. He is at a party to celebrate his acquittal of the shooting death of a young female bartender who refused to serve him after closing. This is the not the first time he has killed though his own arrogance and negligence but has never been convicted. After the shooting the police lock down the home and find six individuals in possession of guns, hence our six suspects.

The book then goes back and has six chapters each detailing the life story of the suspects and their relation to the victim. The next six chapters detail their motive to be at the party, to have a gun, and why they would want to kill the victim. Finally we have several short chapters wherein
possible scenarios are presented as solutions.

Swarup’s strength is in telling in creating characters and the details of their lives, not in creating a good mystery. So I really liked several of the individual story lines and wish they had been books in their own right (the politician who was possessed by Gandhi’s ghost was quite good), but others not so much. He also is quite too neat with some of his plot elements (to many convenient coincidences), like with the American and how his life intersected the Actress’. And the solutions to the mystery were just thrown out there with no build up, no investigation. It was like they were an afterthought.

So it was a good read overall, but disappointing as a mystery. This is unfortunate as several really good books were buried in the pages just waiting to be drawn out.

Mormon Mentions: None

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Project 2009

Home Improvement Project 2009 has begun.

Front Entry Way
Front Stairs
Upstairs Hall
Back Stairs

I will post pictures soon, but we are gutting to the studs. For the hall we are pulling out the floors to the joists. While the wood floor looks nice, the slant something awful to one side. Something is not right underneath.

The drop ceiling in the front stairs is where the squirrels live in the winter. I am expecting about 500,000 nuts to be in there.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tic tac teddy bears and teardrop tattoos - Book #64

Tic Tac Teddy Bears & Teardrop Tattoo’s
by Justin Scroggie

A great little book looking into the slightly hidden things of the world, from prison tattoos and gang signs to secret codes and slang. You can quickly pick up little tidbits of information and trivia that you can later use to bore your friends and acquaintances.

My favorite stories involved TV shows. Catalina, the Latina maid/dancer in My Name is Earl, is often shown to be yelling in Spanish. The impression is she is swearing when in actuality she is sharing messages with the Spanish speaking audience. For example (and I am paraphrasing), she actually made the statement “We would like to thank our Hispanic viewers for supporting our show. And if you are not Hispanic than good for you learning a second language.”

And now that I know, I am surprised I never noticed it before. House is an homage to Sherlock Holmes. Both are cranky Englishmen who solve mysteries using strict logic. Both have a drug addiction and live in apartment 221B. And while Holmes relies on the ever supportive Dr. James Watson, House has his Dr. James Wilson. Obvious really.

He also gets into some logo’s including one I have noted before, the hidden arrow in-between the E & X in Fed-Ex.

And the subtle message in Amazon’s smiling arrow. It points from A to Z suggesting it all can be found at Amazon.

The author is English and a lot of his examples come from that culture (though not all). One he discusses is the origin of English slang words like yob. It was a slang that used reversed words, so originally yob was for boy. It was also the source for Bonk. I will let those of you familiar with both uses (bonk and its counterpart) enjoy that historical insight.

Mormon Mentions: None

Giggle Worthy Word of the Day


This word came up today and JT could not stop giggling.

BTW, I thought looking up manhole on google image search was going to be a risky operation, but no, it was perfectly harmless.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Most (Allegedly) Outrageous Filth Ridden Book Ever Written

And Tango Makes Three
by Peter Parnell & Justin Richardson

If you went to the ALA's most protested book website I referred to below, you will notice right away the number one fought book of this decade is this tale. The true story of the Central Park penguins Roy and Silo, who discovered each other and "fell in love." Frustrated that they could not have an egg like other couples they went through the motions of nursing rocks. One day the zoo keeper gave them an extra egg and they took care of it until little Tango was born. Since then they have raised Tango up to be an adult.

Of course the fear is if your child sees this true tale of a gay couple raising a baby successfully they will catch the gay. As if being gay was a choice. How many of you remember sitting down as a youth and weighing up your choice to become a heterosexual? It is all overblown paranoia.

Weakness of the book - It s assumed they are a gay couple. Maybe they are having sexual relations, but the book obviously does not get into that. Otherwise it is a straightforward story about two penguins trying to have a baby and then succeeding. Very tame.

Overall, I can only see this being threatening to people who have very incorrect notions of human sexuality. The fact it is a true story and told as tamely as possible should outweigh those concerns, but people are idiots.

A Quick One

New T-shirt for the Zombie Lovers
True Genius
That's why I drive a truck

Maybe I should call those numbers
Sort of Awesome

Controversial, Protested, and Banned

I know that sounds like a lot of what I do, but in this case it was inspired by a news story that came my way. I guess a parent was SHOCKED AND APPALLED (1) about the filth their local library was trying to pass off as literature. As is the case in almost all of these situations we have a group of parents who feel they are unable to control their own children, so they want the library to do it for them. And rather than admit that they are deficient as parents (or their kids are morons) they in turn feel the library should control your children too.

The people in Wisconsin started with one book, and then built quickly up to 82 books. Where does one draw the line? The ironic thing is there is a book that contains graphic violence, murder, mayhem, sex, incest, and abuse (2) that everyone of these people desperately want their children to read. The irony is lost on them. Now a group of busy bodies from a neighboring city have jumped on the bandwagon and want a good old-fashioned book burning. A book I treasure (3) would be destroyed by most, and yet a book beloved by them (4) I would be all for tossing (5). The point is you need to set the standards for your own family and let others have the privilege to do the same.

I mean honestly, if you do not want your child to read something tell them not to. If you don’t trust your children in such a situation then that says more about your relationship than about the books. Don’t let them check out books (use your library card). Stop patronizing the library. But what you should not do is take it upon your self to impose your values on my children, that is my job as a parent, not yours.

Anyways, the highlighted book from the article is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Luckily my library has a copy so I immediately checked it out. In fact I went to the American Library Associations website and found the lists of top 10 protested books for the last 8 years and the top 100 list of the 1990’s. I condensed it down (6) to a manageable list of 63. This will be my supplemental reading list for the next little while. If any of you would care to join me in my quiet protest against stupidity and fascism, please join in.

A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
Anastasia Krupnik (Series), by Lois Lowry
And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Annie on my Mind, by Nancy Garden
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
Arizona Kid, by Ron Koertge,
Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
Captain Underpants (Series), by Dav Pilkey
Crazy Lady!, by Jane Leslie Conly
Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat, by Alvin Schwartz
Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds,
Fade, by Robert Cormier
Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Meyers,
Family Secrets, by Norma Klein
Final Exit, by Derek Humphry
Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
Forever, by Judy Blume
Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
Gossip Girls (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Guess What?, by Mem Fox
In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
Jack, by A.M. Homes
Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
Jump Ship to Freedom, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Jumper, by Steven Gould
Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
Killing Mr. Griffin, by Lois Duncan
King & King, by Linda deHaan
Mommy Laid An Egg, by Babette Cole
My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Native Son by Richard Wright
Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
On My Honor, by Marion Dane Bauer
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
Running Loose, by Chris Crutcher
Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene
The Anarchist Cookbook, by William Powell
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
The Drowning of Stephen Jones, by Bette Greene
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline Cooney
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
The Goats, by Brock Cole
The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
The House of Spirits, by Isabel Allende
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
The Pigman, by Paul Zindel
The Stupids (Series), by Harry Allard
The Wish Giver, by Bill Brittain
TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones

(1) SHOCKED AND APPALLED – an inside joke referring to the letters to the editor page of the Daily Universe, the school paper of BYU. Nothing is more protesty than a bunch of twenty-somethings who also happen to be Mormon. Way to idealistic and sheltered, hence they are easily shocked and appalled.

(2) The Bible

(3) The Book of Mormon

(4) Left Behind Series (Religious Porn)

(5) Tossing – but I wouldn’t. You know what I do when I see these books at my library? I pass by them and never check them out. Amazing how efficiently that works. I don’t actually need my librarian to hide them from me.

(6) I got rid of the books I have read, like the Harry Potter or Dark Materials series; or books I don't want to read, like Hey we got bodies (sex ed books targeted for the younger audience).

Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt was a high school creative writing teacher in New York City, and may never have been known to the world in that quiet profession. But he had an amazing life, the gift of storytelling in his heart, and a voice that captured you attention completely. He put all these elements to work when he wrote the details of his life in three memoirs, ultimately winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1997.
First was Angela’s Ashes which captured his poverty stricken youth in Ireland. Next was 'Tis where he details his move to America and his search of a better life. Finally was Teacher Man discussing his later life as a teacher in the NYC school system. Through all three books you have his distinctive humor in retelling the harshest of situations.
If you have never read any of his works I strongly encourage you to do so. And if possible try to listen to them on tape as read by the author himself. The magic of his Irish accent adds to the profound beauty found within the pages.
Frank McCourt passed away on Sunday, July 19, 2009, after battling melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. He was 78.

Peace Like A River – Book #63

Peace Like A River
By Leif Enger

This book has been on a lot of reading list, and given the author is a Minnesota native it has been pushed by my local library in their big read program. With all this going for it I really wanted to enjoy it. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.

I really liked the plot, at least the first 95% (i.e. I did not like the ending). It is a broken family of a spiritual father and his three kids. After having a run in with some town bullies the violence escalates. Ultimately the oldest son kills them when they break into his home, and then goes on the run. The story follows the rest of the family as they try to find not only their brother/son, but as they try to find themselves in this wreckage. In a larger sense it is a man of miracles searching for just one more; and the cost associated with obtaining it.

I did not like this author’s writing style, finding it hard to follow along at an engaged pace. But that is just my personal preferences at play and your experience would probably be very different. I mean, I also cannot stand Charles Dickens writing style at all, so Enger is in good company.

Mormon Mentions: None

Monday, July 20, 2009

The 19th Wife - Book 62

The 19th Wife
David Ebershoff

I have a split decision on this book, and that is only because of personal knowledge of the author’s topic. The book tells two stories separated by time, but overlapping in purpose. That is the negatives of polygamy.
Story one is a mystery story that involves a gay lost boy who sees that his estranged mother is being held in the murder of his father. A lost boy is a term applied to a group of young men (approx. ages 12-16) from modern polygamist compounds who any variety of reasons are excommunicated from the society and unceremoniously dump on the side of the highway and told never to come back. Upon learning that his mom is in prison awaiting trial he travels back to Utah to talk with her one more time. Evidence aside she maintains her innocence and recruits her son to find the truth. She is the 19th wife of this modern polygamist.

The second story involves the original and more infamous 19th wife, namely Brigham Young’s wife Anna Eliza. Anna Eliza is well known for her marriage to BY and their subsequent divorce. While not alone in divorcing BY, she did make it her life’s mission to preach the evils of polygamy throughout the nation and can be credited to some extent for the anti-polygamy laws the US passed.

I will be the first to admit that polygamy as practiced today is seriously wrong – it seems like the object is to marry as many underage girls as possible. I also think the original aims of polygamy were quickly degenerated in the early Mormon church, BY included, and was a failure (natural man and all). Mr. Ebershoff takes a lot of facts (i.e. documented events) and then strings them together with fictional narrative. Nothing in his writing seems particularly malicious and yet it is easy to have a very negative view of ALL polygamy which is a little unfair.

The other distracting storyline was the homosexuality of the lead character. Given the current struggles between Mormon behaviors and proposition 8, it adds a layer of confusion to the book that didn’t need to be there, or better yet should have been a book in its own right. Finally, the modern murder mystery was too sparse and wrapped up a little to conveniently. I am somewhat spoiled as mysteries tend to be my genre of choice so I was expecting a bit more depth.

All that said, this was a fantastic book. I read all 500 pages in little over a day and had a hard time putting it down. My misgivings about some of the details are far outweighed by Mr. Ebershoff’s writing style and voice. I recommend this to anyone looking for fiction concerning Polygamy and its negative effects.

Mormon Mentions: Nothing else besides Mormon mentions. The one flaw would be to the structure of the book. If you are not familiar with early Mormonism, polygamy, the subsequent splinter group which led to modern polygamists, then it would be very easy to get confused about what practice and belief belongs where. I do not feel that Mr. Ebershoff deliberately tries to mislead his readers about the subject with maliciaous intent (say like Krakuer’s Under the Banner of Heaven). His references seem to be sound resources, but as I said it is very hard to show polygamy in a positive light due to what it has become today. That isn’t his fault.

Why We Make Mistakes – Book 61

Why We Make Mistakes
By Joseph Hallinan

Another book that reviews psychological studies in an anecdotal style. So it cites studies and results, but illustrates these with a lot of examples so you get the point. On the plus side you will have a lot of stories to tell friends when chit chatting.
Why do we screw up? We get distracted like the pilots of the airplane who flew into the ground because they all become preoccupied why a light bulb had gone out (the light bulb had failed, not the device it was measuring). We become set in our societal structure like the copilot who didn’t feel it was his place to tell the pilot they were going to run out of gas. Instead they crash landed.
We try to do to much at once, like drive, text, tune the radio, and talk on a cell phone all at the same time. We don’t practice. As Malcolm Gladwell described in Outliers, it takes about 10,000 hours of solid practice to get really good at something. That alone will outweigh any natural ability we may or may not have. Most of us are not willing to put in the effort for those results.
We are overconfident. We believe we are much better at tasks than we really are. We lie constantly. We mistakenly believe language (read conversation) is for the transferring of information. It really is a behavior used to influence others. Consequently we diminish the bad or just omit facts, and then we emphasize the good and will fabricate evidence in order to get our desired point or outcome across. Typically those changes are orchestrated to make us look good, to make us the heroes of our stories. Remember sometimes though a person’s goal is not to be the hero so they push another agenda (like a depressed person or a martyr).
For example, when we become good at any behavior we skim. Are skills are such that we can overlook the details and just play the big picture. It is this behavior that can lead us to overlook potential mistakes. A famous story involves a very well known classical musician was teaching a piano lesson to a young girl when she played a wrong note. When he pointed it out she stated that she had played the note as written. Upon inspection he found that she was indeed right and his sheet music had a mistake. But after looking around he discovered that all copies of this piece were wrong and had been for decades.
He brought in skilled musicians and told them there was a mistake and had them play the music, but none of them played the wrong note, in fact none of them could find the mistake. It wasn’t until he specifically gave them the location could they find it. This is because the better you get the more you skim. The musicians never saw the bad note because they knew what the note should be and played it that way. The young student hadn’t developed that ability so she played the wrong note. This example demonstrates why fresh eyes are usually a good thing when wanting to avoid obvious mistakes AND ritualize checklists can also help insure you don’t skim over the details in a routine task you have become competent at.
Should you read this? It is a short book and written in an easy flowing manner, so I would recommend it to anyone who wants a brief overview of why we screw up. If any of it interest you than you can read a more detailed book about that part – like the section on traffic accidents you could read the book Traffic.
Interesting note worth mentioning: The cover of the book is intentionally done wrong (off centered) to make his point on mistakes. Very clever.
Mormon Mentions: None.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Honey I think I missed a spot

Nothing will make your evening more than being woken up by a child with explosive and uncontrollable diarrhea. Luckily his room was littered with dirty clothes because that made the clean up a little easier as a lot fell on them. But I still had to strip the bed, pick up the clothes, clean the carpets on the landing (of the stairs) and hallway, and shower the kid. Then I remade the bed and got the laundry started, so all in all a long night – if you don’t count the stress of thinking “Maybe it was something he ate?” Because you know that you and everyone else ate the same thing.
All ended well and he felt better in the morning and nobody else got sick. Then I went into the small bathroom to take a shower before work. Upon shutting the door is when I saw it – the brown smears down its length. Maybe I am a bad man or just a bad father/husband, but I got dressed went downstairs and as I headed out the door said …

I can’t have all the fun; that wouldn’t be fair (or equitable).

World Light - Book 60

World Light
by Haldor Laxness

To read Icelandic literature means visiting the work of Laxness, considered to be their greatest writer and the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1955. It seems the strength of his writing is in making broad statements about society/life, without explicitly coming to definitive conclusions. Anotherwords it is left to the reader to mull, debate, and contemplate their own place in life through the work. On a specific note we did have the great pleasure to visit the Haldor Laxness museum while in Iceland. He built a beautiful home and when he died his wife turned over the house as is with contents to the historical society. It is interesting to walk through, a life size time capsule, and see were he wrote his books and lived. Below are some pictures from our visit.
World light is the story of a young, feeble, unloved, poor, and abandoned boy who despite his circumstances gains an insight into the world of poetry and beauty. The story is broken into four sections, each detailing different points in his life, from beginning to end. While never fulfilling his truest desires, he never gives up trying to reach them. So I am of two minds; it is a sad book and yet it is a story of hope. Unfortunately the protagonist tries to stay aloof from the dull routine of the real world; the real world will not leave him alone. So we see a lot of hardship in his life as he blindly follows his passion without regard to what is considered proper, ultimately going to jail for sexually assaulting an underage girl.
What is the message to be obtained? For me, and I am open to debate on this, I see a man can pursue his vision of truth and beauty regardless of his circumstances in life. That is because beauty comes from within and it is not dictated by the world. That said, the book does provide some sobering lessons on those who chose to completely ignore the world.
Who should read it? Those of you who want to read a “classic” that is not American or English; or wants to experience Icelandic literature and culture. Having been to the country helps fill in the details that the brief descriptions provide within the text. If you only read one book by Laxness though, Independent People is considered to be his best – UNLESS –
Mormon Mentions: None. But Laxness did have great respect for the church and had many kind things to say about it. Furthermore he did visit Utah three separate occasions and spent years researching and writing another of his significant works, Paradise Reclaimed. It involves an Icelander who joins the faith and travels to Utah, only to become disillusioned and return home. It is in my to be read pile and might be a better choice if Mormon things interest you and you want the one book option.

Friday, July 3, 2009

My wife is the greatest person in the world

What can I say, she is as close to perfect as anyone comes. I love you and adore you Lisa. Thank you for being who you are and not trying to be anyone else. You are the greatest.

Sometimes it is your fault

As I was riding my bike home from work last week I witnessed a fellow cyclist get hit by a car. Now if you read enough cycling blogs you will get an impression that all such accidents are the fault of a careless or angry driver. While no doubt that is true most of the time, sometimes, just sometimes it is because of an idiot cyclist. This teenager was traveling at high speed on a busy downtown sidewalk. Upon arriving at a heavily trafficked and parked intersection she continued straight out into the road without breaking speed. Unfortunately for her, the car that was pulling up to make a right on red never saw her coming as she entered the roadway almost instantly (though fortunately for her the car was already slowing down to stop). A squeal of brakes and a loud crash later, I turned and saw her and the bike go flying. We can argue degrees of responsibility all day, but in the end this girl almost got herself killed because she was stupid. Plus she set back the legitimacy of all cyclists with her antics. Remember you are a vehicle just like a car and as such you should obey all traffic laws, so I present a short list of things a cyclist should keep in mind as to not be the cause of their own demise.

  • Never ride on the sidewalk – cars aren’t looking for fast moving vehicles on them. This probably gets more people hit than anything else.

  • Ride in the road WITH traffic. Would you drive your car in the wrong lane?

  • Keep your lane. Anotherwords do not keep weaving around parked cars to be near the curb. The more predictable you are the more likely a driver will not be surprised by you. It it is way more safe than the few seconds on the curb will gain you.

  • Give parked cars their space – getting doored is never fun and at speed itc an really do some damage (i.e. a driver opens their door in front of you).

  • Use deliberate hand signals at intersections so all drivers know what you plan to do.

  • Do not cut corners through parking lots or alleys. Unless you are a bike messenger on the clock, the few seconds you save are not worth your life.

  • OBEY ALL TRAFFIC SIGNS – that means stop signs and lights as well.

  • When in doubt always give the car the right of way – no matter how RIGHT you are you will lose that fight/collision.

All the above can basically be summed up by this: You are a vehicle too, the more you act like a driver of a vehicle (as to traffic laws), the more other drivers will treat you as such. It is amazing to me that people will drive like maniacs on their bikes and expect to be safe, yet they would never imagine doing that in their cars for fear of crashing. In this case predictability equals safety.

Drivers do not react well to surprises; they have too much information to manage with the driving, radio, cell phone,and talking with other passengers. Yeah, that shouldn’t be but it is reality. Maybe a collision with you will cure them of that, but is it worth your life?
And if you are like me riding the same route at the same time everyday, your fellow drivers will get used to seeing you and will watch for you. But if you abuse the social contract you have entered by riding like an idiot with no respect to the rules of the road we all should be using, then they will have no respect for you. They will learn to accept you are a maniac who is and unpreventable accident waiting to happen, and there will be nothing they can do to prevent it. Once they think that you are toast, because then they will do nothing to prevent it. The more respectful you are to the road, the more respectful they will be to you.
**BTW I do accept there are some asshat drivers out there who are a danger to cyclists regardless of how well they ride. For the most part I have had nothing but respect on my commute, only a few people have tarnished anotherwise perfect driving record of my community. Mostly it is idiots that think the extra half second they gain by speeding around me for a righthand turn is totally worth cutting me off.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Proximity & Obedience

Closeness can lead to confusion - and maybe some complaints

A wonderful series of letters between George Albert Smith and J. Raymond Cope were recently highlighted in a blog post at By Common Consent (which btw is a great blog for all things mormony). I recommend all go there and at least read the post if not the discussion as well. In essence though, we do not believe as a church that we should blindly follow our leaders, rather we should ponder and pray to gain our own testimony about the counsel.

Of course any sane person (I make myself smile with that adjective) will have a gradient of personal confidence when it comes to their individual church leaders. This comes about due to our personal relationship with said leader. The logic works like this; all of us are human – being human we make mistakes, like all the time – the more you know someone, the more of their mistakes you are exposed to – the more you are exposed to the less confidence you will have in their counsel. So the closer the proximity to the leader, the more pondering/prayer it will require to accept the counsel.

Now I think this is a good thing as life and the general experience that lands you in one of the red chairs at conference is a lot different than your local Deacon’s quorum president. We are all learning as we go through life and I would like to think that those who have reached larger responsibilities have retained and used some of that knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, I am not discounting the calling and leadership of the anyone; it is possible to accept that sometimes people, even though called of God, can and do make mistakes. But they can and do get a lot of things right and do tremendous work.

I am just saying it is worth your time to think about what your local leaders say, and then pray about it, and then being okay with the response. Sometimes that means changing your general direction in life to get in line with the counsel, and other times that means they are just plain wrong and just weather the storm while still retaining your testimony the church is true but managed by human beings (and of course be very very grateful you aren’t the one having to make the decisions).

Now all this is just prelude to my initial thoughts I had about the two letters referenced above. What is my personal gradient of confidence of my church leaders’ counsel based on proximity? So for the basic positions I have (off the top of my head):

  • Current Prophet – about 99.5% confidence (i.e. I would just about always accept their counsel with little need to ponder it – but I still would anyway). I would be totally there but we can all bring up times wherein certain theological theories have been put out there that have over time lost favor or been denounced as mistakes – Adam God anyone? (Proximity – seen him speak)

  • Current Apostles – 97% (Proximity – handshake once or twice)

  • Past Prophets – 85% (not that I think they are wrong that much, it is just their counsel can and is dated)

  • GA’s – 80% I have heard one or two doozies from this department.

  • Stake President – 60% ((Proximity – actual conversations)

  • Bishop – 50% - Proximity gets really close here as I know these guys from way back, when they were young whippersnappers. I have hung out with their families. You get it.

  • My Elder’s quorum president – 10% this guy is an idiot and about 90% of all my life’s mistakes have come from following his counsel**

I think about the second half of the old saying about church leadership:

The Mormons say that the Prophet is a fallible man and does not always speak for God, but no one believes it.

It would serve us all well to remember that. We are all human, full of mistakes, just trying to do right by God and our fellow man. But if you think that every word that falls from your leader’s mouth, local or otherwise, is absolute truth and exactly what God wants you to do at that time; well do not lose your testimony when it goes astray. God has clearly told you that they will make mistakes. How else do we grow? And if you don’t get that, then I sincerely hope and pray they call you as the next whatever.

And for the record, I do have one church leader who I can give a 100% rating to. That would be my Home Teacher as I haven’t seen him ever. No proximity means he has yet to screw up, and I can have complete trust in his counsel.

**When I get released I am sure the next guy will do much better – he can’t do any worse.

For you Twilight Fangirls

Saw this on the Mormon Mommy Wars blog

I, for one, am so proud

Finally we have some leadership here in Minnesota!!

Vacation of the mind

I have been on vacation both physically and mentally. Upon returning from Iceland I have spent all my time on Facebook playing silly games (bouncing balls) and Mafia Wars (I am level 20 and Parker is too). I do have about 100 pictures loaded up from Iceland on my profile page so please friend me if you want to see more (david michael peters), and please friend Parker as he is always open to meeting new people (parker peters)**. Though to be honest, Parker has some perverse interests in bodily functions and photographs of dogs in compromising positions.
Who knows, you might beat my high score on bouncing balls, or maybe even my good friend Sharon’s score, though I am pretty sure she made some sort of pact with the evil one to do so well.
**Please note I will unfriend anyone who abuses friend lists (i.e. people whose only goal is a high friend total), write disparaging comments abou tme (no matter how true they are), or are militant supporters of the United Way.

Some Photos

Grey Goose

Icelandic Horse - Cute and Delicious
Glacier Bay - Think Tomb Raider & Die Another Day

Words Cannot Express

Iceland is a natural wonderland - Geyser

Literally 100's if not 1000's of towering waterfalls

And of course, Cool American flavor