Monday, October 31, 2011

my friend the auror

i hadn't given much thought to what to be for halloween (y'know, grad school and all....) but a friend at church suggested i go as harry potter, which sounded easy enough for me.  i've already got the glasses and the scarf, although i decided i'd try to follow the look from the fourth movie, since his hair was longer then.
by the stream behind the institute building i found a branch that i fashioned into an excellent wand and, after raiding my roommate's closet for a maroon and gold tie, i was more or less set.

drawing that scar was trickier than it should have been, and when cassidy pointed out it was on the wrong side i confidently denied such while thinking in my head, "dang it, she's right...."

meanwhile, a half dozen states away, kristin was making herself into a really incredible tonks.

this just amazed me.
seriously dang awesome.
but she wanted the picture to feel a little less... "kitcheny", as she put it.  i had to agree, it had a definite muggle feel about it...
so i sent her a few suggestions on how to improve it, along with a few examples.
after some back and forth critiquing, she produced this:

yeah.  that's my friend.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

another brick in the wall

we were going in to visit the ginkaku-ji in kyoto one morning when renee and i were in the middle of a conversation.  we had been in the mtc together, where i knew only her last name and that she had beautiful eyes, and now we were recently off our missions and together again, this time on a study abroad.  i quite fancied her and was doing what i could to get to know her better.  i asked her about her testimony, when she came to know that the Gospel is true.  i don't remember her answer (i think she had one or two moments that she cited), but she then asked me.

for me, there never was a time growing up where i "came to know."  in a way, i've kind of always known, but that's not a wholly accurate way to put it.  rather, as i described it to her, there isn't one central event for me, but a whole collection of moments and feelings that, together, build the wall that is my testimony.  and it continues to grow.  each quiet, affirming moment where something whispers that this is true, moments during my weekend when i slow down and something softly chimes inside of me that God is with me, events that come together and things that work out; they are all bricks in my testimony.  also, while it may seem contrary to the personal nature of a testimony and knowing for yourself, the logic, facts, and strengths of my friends become additional bricks.

while i don't have one defining moment like many people have, i have some stones my wall that are larger and heavier than others, ones that i can lean on when others aren't as stable.  and that has proven to be an interesting part of this structure: if something get shaken and seems to fall off for whatever reason, i've got plenty more to hold onto.  like in rock climbing, if the hold you have isn't one you can easily grab onto (a credit card crimp or a big sloper, for example), there's enough alternatives to find something to grab and hold onto.

in related rock climbing news, i conquered that one route on saturday.  : )

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

twofer tuesday

  • climbed two new routes in class today.
  • danced with the cute girl in class twice. 
  • accidentally bought two copies of coldplay's new album.  digital downloads are a little hard to return....
  • got two tickets for the department's sneak preview of "puss 'n' boots" tomorrow night.
  • and i'm tempted to get two boxes of layne's chicken, just to keep things up, but that's probably too much...

Monday, October 24, 2011

so you want to be an r.e.m. fan

seventh row...
a few weeks ago, r.e.m. announced that they were breaking up, news that came as a surprise to me with some sadness but acknowledgement that it was time (i also took it as an omen that my and kristin's friendship was secure--ask me later.)  they had quite a career, often being credited with pioneering the "alternative" music genre and one of my fellow r.e.m. fans once suggested that they were the greatest american rock band (which, after i realized that all of my immediate objective suggestions were all not from the u.s., i realized was a possible claim).

they rode mainstream success and were praised by their peers for maintaining their identity and individuality.  with minor exceptions, they avoided the tumultuous tabloid lifestyles of being rock and roll stars.  they inspired a new generation of artists, including the arguably two most influential bands of the nineties, nirvana and radiohead.  today, their legacy can still be heard, most clearly in the decembrist's excellent the king is dead (literally: r.e.m. guitarist peter buck plays on two tracks)

i've been a fan of their since the early nineties, when they were the biggest band in the world and i needed something cooler than they might be giants to listen to (i was in junior high.)  since then, i have collected every album of theirs. according to itunes, that amounts to 47 albums and 296 songs, many of which are rarities, b-sides, and infamous Christmas singles.

so, they've finished their career and you're* wondering where to start in discovering the wealth of music they created.  a few years ago in a darkroom, i realized that r.e.m.'s career could be rather cleanly divided into pre-popular, popular, and post-popular eras.  at one time or another, i think every album of theirs has been my favorite.  follow me:


murmur -1983
their full-length debut album (the five-song chronic town was their first release), this is often cited as one of the defining albums of the independent rock movement.  to me, its most noteworthy feature is simply that it's the start of it all.  "radio free europe", which opens the album, is the most well-known song on here and was a staple of college radio way back when.
  • song to buy off itunes: "shaking through"

reckoning -1984
this continues where murmur left off.  jangling guitars and incomprehensible lyrics carried on, and "south central rain" can still be heard on quality alternative radio stations today.
  • song to buy off itunes: "(don't go back to) rockville," one of their best that was still played in concerts two decades later.

fables of the reconstruction -1985
this is where the golden age of r.e.m. starts, according to some purists.  the album carries some classic gems, such as "driver 8" and "life and how to live it."  their indefinable sound continued to evolve, with cryptic lyrics and a sound that was more organic than the 80s new wave happening around it.
  • song to buy off itunes: "wendell gee"

life's rich pageant -1986
this is the album that hipsters wanting to discover classic r.e.m. own.  101.9 would often play "superman", the closing highlight here, but it's solid from the start.  "cuyahoga" begins to show their political initiative, while "i believe" contains the typical southern energy of early r.e.m.
  • song to buy off itunes: "fall on me." it's just the best.


document -1987
new label, new sound.  things are clearer, you can understand more of michael stipes lyrics, and they're rocking out a little more.  "strange" is just loud and fun, while "exhuming mccarthy" continues their activism against a republican government.  and good eats host alton brown worked as the cinematographer on "the one i love" possible the most mistaken love song of the era.
  • song to buy off itunes: "exhuming mccarthy," because, if you're reading this, you already own "it's the end of the world as we know it."
green -1988
after this, they toured the world for nearly a year.  they were big and getting bigger.  "orange crush" continued to rock against political agenda, the eponymous orange a reference to agent orange, the chemical used in the vietnam war.  there was space for more fun, too, with "pop song 89" and nostalgic relaxation in "you are the everything."
  • song to buy off itunes: "stand."  yes, it's the most famous song off of here, but that doesn't mean it can't be the best, too.

out of time -1991
worn out from a year of play around the world, they slowed things down, went acoustic and even brought in a mandolin.  this produced "losing my religion", one of their biggest and most enduring hits, an iconic song, artistic music video, and atypical radio hit.  "half a world away" ranks among their best bittersweet love songs, one that should be in every romantic's playlist.  and, of course, there's "shiny happy people", which is has been described by the band as either irony or (apparently embarrassed) straight-ahead fun bubble-gum pop.  but it did give us this.  if that doesn't make you smile, you have no soul.
  • song to buy off itunes: "texarkana"(provided you don't have the above listed songs already)

automatic for the people -1992
if you own just one r.e.m. album, it's this one.  if you can only name one r.e.m. song besides "losing my religion", it's likely from this album.  they now ruled the music world.  critics, fans, the general public, and even the band usually concur that this is their best album.  "everybody hurts" won video of the year (offending the beastie boys by beating "sabotage"), "the sidewinder sleeps tonight" makes no lyrical sense whatsoever but is so much fun, and "man on the moon" is the quintessential r.e.m. song.  the album carried a big emotional range, moving around between political, upbeat, somber, melancholy, rock, and peaceful.  it's all here.
  • song to buy off itunes: anything. something you don't have already: "nightswimming" or "find the river."

monster -1994
they had done two largely acoustic records.  it's great stuff but they needed something to tour with, now that they were selling out stadiums.  so they wrote monster.  i've seen interviews on vh1 where people talk about the first time they heard a particular song.  i still remember the first time i heard "what's the frequency, kenneth?" on the radio; in my room one night as freshman in high school, i just stood there in amazement, loving that guitar and the fuzzed energy of it all.  it's r.e.m. trying the grunge sound, but there are still plenty of solid songs on here.
  • song to buy off itunes: "strange currencies."  one of their best love songs.


new adventures in hi-fi -1996
this is the album where the crowd began to leave.  after monster, they signed an $80 million contract with warner brothers, the biggest in the company's history.  with all due respect to r.e.m., that was a bad move for warner brothers.  from here on out, any album single was played on the radio for only a few weeks after it's release and the only people buying these albums are the ones who own all the r.e.m. albums.
which is a shame, because it's great music.  it was best described to me as music to get on I-80 and head west (from utah.)  "leave" rocks with the loud emptiness of wanting to escape from everything, while "electrolyte" is their most melodic closing since "find the river."
  • song to buy off itunes: "electrolyte" or "leave"

up -1998
drummer bill berry suffered a brain aneurism on the monster tour and, after the band assured him they would carry on, left the rock and roll lifestyle to be a farmer back home in georgia.  their sound became a little more electronic, apparently taking inspiration from radiohead's work at the time.  the album is introspective, carrying beautiful songs like "why not smile" next to the usual indecipherable "hope" (one of my all-time favorite r.e.m. songs.)
  • song to buy off itunes: "at my most beautiful"

reveal -2001
they're really slowing the tempo down here.  the album has been compared to brian wilson's "pet sounds", which is apt.  at any rate, it's best listened to on a rainy day.  it's probably the album i listen to least, although it's not without its merits.  "all the way to reno" is unfortunately forgettable, but "imitation of life" is classic r.e.m. (and one of the most creative videos not produced by michel gondry.)  it's interesting how not having a drummer changes things up so much.
  • song to buy off itunes: "imitation of life"

around the sun -2004
pretty much universally agreed as the weakest r.e.m. album, and that includes the band's vote.  they've said it's a political album, and certainly songs like "the final straw" are.  but if r.e.m. ever made a breakup album, this is it.  and it's a great one.  it's not a raging one, but a brooding, contemplative one.  "leaving new york" is a solid song, but i knew i'd never again hear on the radio a month after its release.
  • song to buy off itunes: "aftermath" if you need to get over a breakup.  otherwise, buy a second song from another album.

accelerate -2008
they're trying too hard, but at least they're rocking again.  trying to show that they aren't old and boring like "around the sun" was, every song is fast and electric.  that's pretty much it.  it's all good and fine, but all the songs sound like "supernatural superserious", their one strong single on here.

  • song to buy off itunes: "supernatural superserious"  

collapse into now -2011
ok, i'll be honest; this is the first r.e.m. album since the mid-90s that i didn't pick up on day one.  i just was expecting much and was hoping to get a digital download on sale off amazon a few weeks later.  but after hearing good things from trusted r.e.m. fan, i bought it.  and yeah, it was great.  the best thing they've done since... the mid-90s.  after trying way too hard on accelerate, this is what r.e.m. sounds like.  introspective, melodic, soaring backup vocals, some good rockers; it's all here.  and it was the best note they were going to end on and they knew it.
  • song to buy off itunes: "alligator_aviator_autopilot_antimatter"

some other gems of theirs that aren't on their official studio albums include:
  • "the lion sleeps tonight", a cover on the b-side of, obviously, "the sidewinder sleeps tonight."  simply beautiful, if i've ever made you a cd, there's a change this is on there.
  • "bad day", released only as a single around 2004, it's essentially an alternate version of "it's the end of the world as we know it."
  • "wall of death", a great extra on the "e-bow the letter" single from 1996.
  • "yellow river", a b-side of "all the way to reno" and soaring, jangling guitars with lead vocal by mike mills (because if you've read this far, you actually care about that).
  • "silver bells." every year, they send out a Christmas single to everyone in their fan club.  these are impossible to find otherwise.  usually they're slightly sarcastic or really goofy (if you heard "silver bells" on the Christmas cd i made a few years ago, you also heard "Christmas griping."  yeah...)
hopefully, that'll give you somewhere to start.
stay tuned for the next one whenever they might be giants decide to split.

(*i fully acknowledge that no one save one or two readers here are actually interested in delving through this.  rather, this is a post for me.  thank you for bearing with me.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

it's not too late

stuck to the hutch of my desk, i have a few treasured things: two pictures of me with friends, two printing-press-printed cards, a photograph of some ducks from the 1950s, and two 3x5 cards with a simple phrase sharpied on them.  one of those cards reads:

it's not too late

i wrote that in the fall of 2008.  i had spent some time trying to figure out what direction to take my life and had been bothered by this quandary for quite a while.  then i saw wall-e.  i feel in love with it and, after a few more showings, was thinking that, if i could do it all over again, i'd've been an animation major so that i could be working at pixar or something.

then i realized: yes, i was 29, not 22, but how many people would love to be 29 again and make different choices?  i grabbed a nearby note card and wrote myself a reminder: it's not too late.
a few years later, i'm at one of the best grad schools for computer animation.

today i was thinking about that card and about how i'm learning other things that i wish i would have learned ten years ago.  and it can be frustrating.  i'd like to go back and do some things differently and not miss out on some opportunities.  to try some different choices.  and put into practice what i've learned.  and that's the hard fact of life, that we can't go back and redo something.  but the other side of that coin is that, with few exceptions, it's not too late to make those changes.

i thought about that a bit more as i searched for a picture for this:  wall-e is modular.  if one part of him gets broken, his optics, wheel gears, or whatever can be replaced.  interchangeable parts: marvelous.  but that one circuit board within him is what makes him him.
just some thoughts.

Friday, October 21, 2011

dark globe

photo by donnie ray jones
i spent a good portion of my evening walking around campus.  during the day, it's a rather bland complex of blocky, beige sandstone buildings.  but at night, and if you know the right places to go, i've decided that there are some rather beautiful and romantic spots around here.  there the big stone steps and towering columns of the building that i work in, where you can look out over the courtyard that welcomes people to a&m, with orange street lamps lighting the tree-lined paths.  or there's the low-lit alumni building with its benches and the neighboring park.  and next to it is a large bubbling fountain, glowing late at night.

as i leaned against the stone steps of the administration building and looked up at the stars, i thought of how, wherever she is, she's under those same stars.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

an open letter to the universe

dear expanse::

so... what happened?  i was poised and ready to face the disaster that was supposed to be yesterday.  the night before i had about two and a half hours of sleep, having been up all night working on homework, going to bed with much of it still less finished than i wanted, and the one assignment that i did complete was done only by plowing it through it at a reckless pace, keeping my sights focused only on sleep.

i was expecting a nightmare of a day.

instead, i got to class (relatively) on time.  the finished homework was favorably received by an otherwise somewhat irritable teacher.  the lump of partially finished work turned out to be good enough for what was needed.  i managed to remain acceptably coherent throughout my time at school.  meetings went well.  i was productive at work.

i even managed to be home by 7:00 and spent the evening doing things pertaining to my life outside of the viz lab that have needed my attention for a long time.

it was even cold enough today that i could legitimately wear a hoodie and enjoy it.  that was very kind of you.

now, yes, the line for that cinnamon roll i wanted this morning was long enough to look like a new harry potter book was about to be released.  that was a disappointment.  yes, i found out the showing of world on a wire has somehow been cancelled from austin this weekend.  also a disappointment.

but, overall, universe, you showed admirable restraint today.

and, um, thank you.


-->jeff *

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

memento mori

couldn't think of any picture to use
for this post, so here's some gnarly
chicken i saw at a state fair once
i had a brief visit with my bishop this evening.  nothing serious or heavy; he just wanted to see how i was doing.  he noted that "little things are little things, but, done faithfully, they become pivotal choices."  (or something like that)  then i got in my car and ac/dc was on the radio.  as i was singing loudly to "she shook me all night long" i wondered if i was trying to play both sides of the fence, trying to serve two masters here.  but it was a two-for-tuesday and "thunderstruck" followed.  i turned it up even louder.

i can't understand how i can be at school for 15 hours a day and still be behind in all of my classes.  and i've only got three classes.  well, five, but i'm doing ok in rock climbing and country dance.  my polka test didn't go as well as my waltz test, but still.

i've thought about how so many of us work so hard and never let ourselves be good enough when i'm not even sure who we're trying to impress.  i think that might be related to what i just said above.  the "at school for 15 hours a day" sounds like i'm trying to be the best, but being "behind in all of my classes" seems to suggest that i'm not worried about impressing anyone.  a man of contradictions, i.

we had a movie night last friday.  we watched "the shining" (hence the post) and while one of the scariest movies ever made scared no one even just a little, it felt great to get up in front of everyone and introduce a movie again.  we talked afterwards.  some girls stayed late and i taught them how to waltz.

next movie night: "a hard day's night."

i managed to dodge a few bullets on monday in terms of homework and its unfinishedness.  but those classes are coming up again tomorrow.  i miss sleeping, writing, and seeing people.

my bosses at work today told me, "we weren't expecting you to be such an excellent writer when we hired you."

in research for our animation project, me and a friend watched an amazing movie following residents in an retirement home.  we got plenty of notes about how the elderly move and react but it also caused me to think about a lot of much bigger questions.

uncharacteristically, the library didn't have the movie but it was available on hulu plus and .edu email addresses get you a week's free membership.  that means i have a wealth of criterion movies and arrested development episodes on demand.  if i had any free time, it would be filled up with that.

i'm loving that the highs are out of the 80s for the week.

in provo, i ate in-n-out as often as i could justify.  here, it's layne's chicken.  $5 for a box of chicken.  and it's right across the street from school.  best thing ever.

Friday, October 14, 2011

feelin' fine

all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff a dull boy.
all work and no play makes jeff something something...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

gingers have no soul

my rock climbing class may very well be what's keeping me sane this semester.
my schedule is such that i have viz classes only on monday and wednesday, which sounds like a bit of a dream (and it might be, except that work fills in all of the gaps pretty well.)  the catch to that is that that means i have three masters class's worth of work due all on the same day.  and so monday deadlines chew up my weekends pretty well and mondays still come too fast.

as a result, i'm usually already fighting the universe by monday afternoon (current score: jeff: 5,382,908,238, universe: 873,256,072.  yes, i'm winning by a lot, but it takes effort) and tuesday mornings find me tired and lethargic (at best.)
but endorphins are awesome and at 10 a.m., i'm in the rec, lacing up my climbing shoes and learning more about footwork or how to tie a new knot.

out climbing with jess (different jess) on saturday, i found my new favorite route.  named "gingers have no soul", it's a 5.8, which is about my skill level right now.  but it's a dang lot of fun.  it's on the main wall, which has a special surface to make it feel more like granite, so that's cool.  and about a third the way it has a significant overhang, which allows for some underarm gripping and, i'll be honest, is a real bugger to get over.  that took me two tries on saturday but it was my last climb, so i was mostly spent.
this morning i attacked it with all i could (after conquering another route i couldn't get on saturday) and made it further than i did before but have yet to get it.  still, i love it.
and now i have a goal.
next week....

Monday, October 10, 2011

two number twos

it's actually been a really good weekend.

with all of the unanswered questions in my life and things i'd like different, one thing i cannot deny nor ever be adequately grateful is that i have some of the best friends anyone could ever have.  people who know me inside and out, who have seen me at my best and at my worst, and who, most importantly, trust me enough to tell me their honest opinions and not just what i want to hear.

thing 1 and thing 2, thank you.

you are the bests.

i know you know.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

the burden of debt

"time is money," we often hear.  usually it's from some uptight lamer that you want to kick.  but working on film sets, i sometimes thought about that.  a lot of being on a set is spent waiting around.  and every person there is being paid, so the longer you take to light the scene or waiting for the picture cow to show up even though you're filming on a dairy farm, the more money it's all costing you.

great.  that's probably something you learn in your first week of undergrad business management classes.

but if we can be in debt with money, it seems we can also be in debt with time.
in fact, i'm pretty sure we can, because i'm pretty sure i am.  i came home on friday night in hopes to grab some food before heading back to the battlefields against my green-screen compositing program.  the house was full of roommates and friends, gathered around eating pizza and watching the byu football game.  i would have loved to join them but had no time.  i had this assignment (which was already late) and enough work to do for my two other classes that i knew i would have another busy weekend.

financial debt constricts us so that we can't buy what we want, that the money we earn immediately goes to paying off debt and we are still left with little or nothing at all.  it seems that the same can happen with time; that we can have so much to do that days off and weekends are immediately negated by the need to get caught up in everything else.  this is a little frustrating, since i don't remember ever having been particularly careless with my time.  i don't have any time-credit cards that i maxed out, yet the collection agencies seem to be hounding me just the same.

i'm hoping to improve this.  because i would like to spend time with my roommates (they seem like nice people...) and to get to know the girls who are often hanging out with them.

at any rate, this has made me more appreciative for the sabbath day.  my friends at school can't understand how i'm even getting by in school when i don't do any work on sunday.  without this day off, where i don't even think about homework, i wouldn't be surviving at all.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

virtual reality

while this phenomenon is nothing new, it's something i've been seeing again recently in my life.

something happens when you're talking with someone "online."  the effect happens just the same through texting, but i've been noticing this through more old-fashioned modes such as instant messaging and e-mail: it's so much easier to talk with someone online than in real life.
in three very different situations, i've found myself talking closely with people that, in real life, i don't talk with, wouldn't talk with, or can't with.
and it's not me.  i'd be just as comfortable talking face to face as through a keyboard.  
it's them.  these introverted or gruff people have been the ones who have been much more conversant than i would ever expected.

why is it?  is it just easier to write than to talk?  does it remove a lot of the social cues and nuances of personal communication, allowing us to fill in those gaps as we'd like to imagine the person, even though we may know them rather well, just smoothing over minor imperfections?

i don't really feel like going into the psycho-socio-implications of this, because that feels like homework for my mfa class (or maybe it just feels like one of those long posts that never turns out as profound as i imagine it being).  at any rate, i just think it's interesting.

Friday, October 07, 2011

q & a

i took a class on the first half of the doctrine and covenants at byu many years ago (i took one on the second half, too, but i think i mentioned that earlier this week) and really liked my teacher.  one thing i remember him saying was that when you're engaged to someone, that should be interview time; a time to ask the big questions and the hard questions and the scary questions.

that sounded like good advice and i liked it.  but one thing that i thought about was that that's kind of scary.  you don't want to be looking forward to marrying the person and then uncover things that would destroy it.
now, as i'm writing that i can see that, actually, yes, that's pretty much is what you do want to do.  if there is something that would jeopardize you relationship, you'd want to know about it now, rather than getting surprised once you've made the commitments to each other and to the Lord.

but i was thinking about it this summer and saw it in a different light as well.  this interview time isn't just to find anything that might not make it work, but to research to know what you're getting yourself into so that you can make it work.  people aren't perfect.  maybe there are mistakes, maybe there are just differences in ways of approaching or thinking about things.  when you love someone, you're hopefully willing to look past their shortcomings and faults, so it most likely isn't to find reasons not to be together, but to learn how to stay together.
if you're planning a trip to istanbul (someday...) you'd look up all that you can about the customs, the culture, the past, so that you know what to prepare for, what to expect, and how best to fit in.  that way, you'll enjoy the trip much more than if you just went over there and soon found yourself wishing you'd brought an adapter for your ipod and a jacket instead of shorts.

getting to know a person and asking questions isn't looking for reasons to break it, but rather learning how to adapt, to fit, and to make it work and really awesome.

editor's post-script: this is another one of those posts that didn't come out quite as clearly and succinctly as we'd played it out in our heads.  such is life in a fallen world.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

apple pie

the first computer i remember using was an apple IIgs.
i was in fourth grade.

now, i'm typing this on a mac mini.
i'm listening to itunes.
i carry my ipod with me everywhere.
podcasts are my main use for it.
my phone exists only because of the iphone.

i never got to be a part of beatle mania
but i got to experience the harry potter phenomenon.
i feel equally lucky to have been around
as steve jobs changed the world.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


when i was a kid, i once asked my dad if he thought the newspaper would do a story on me if i stayed awake for 24 hours straight.  he smiled and said probably not, that people do it all the time, especially in college.  (i was going to make a comment about the fargo forum having such mild news to cover that they might actually do the story, but it's actually still my favorite newspaper of anywhere i've ever lived, so i'm not going to do that)

i don't have any specific recollection of doing that in college (not even from film shoots, and certainly not from studying), although it happened a handful of times during my career as a camera guy (still kind of strange to have that not be my life anymore) and has certainly happened in graduate school.  and tonight it seems that i will be having my inaugural all-nighter of the semester.

i was about to list all that i have done today to show how incredibly hard-working i am, but reason came to me and i remembered that my blog readership includes a couple of very dedicated artists and numerous mothers of young children, all of whom work much harder on much less sleep than i do.

so i'm going to try to crank out some glitching animation and maybe sneak in an hour or two of sleep before class.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

the hand that feeds

last wednesday i was really frustrated for a lot of reasons.
as soon as we were released from class that morning, i asked my friend if the rec center had a punching bag.
"need to release some stress?" he smiled.
i stammered, trying to think of a clever answer.
"yes," i admitted.
"yeah, i think they do."

i left the viz lab in an attempt to just wander around campus, since i felt a little sheepish about using a punching bag (specifically, not knowing how to use one and the fear of coming off looking silly.)  yet i somehow ended up at the rec center and asked the girl at the front desk if they had one.  she directed me to the second floor and, thankfully, there was no one else using it.

i didn't have the song i wanted on my ipod but streamed it on my phone (welcome to the future) and hit it.
it felt good.
i did it again and again.
it felt better and better.

actually, my thumb hurt and i wasn't sure on the proper way to make a fist (do i tuck my thumb inside my fingers?  that seemed to work), but i pounded the bag and loved it.

after four songs my wrists really hurt and my knuckles were a little bloody, but i felt wonderful.  i left the rec understanding why people wrap their hands in tape before hitting the bag.

back in the lab, i looked up punching bag techniques online (it's called a "heavy bag," fyi) and learned that i should have been using hand wraps and gloves.  that sounded a lot more comfortable and after a little more research that evening, bought me some of each.  because not only is it a good workout, it feels great, and this is the first time i've ever found myself wanting to get back into the gym....

yesterday i tried out my new wraps and gloves.  granted, listening to general conference on the way to the rec didn't quite get me in the mood, but i'd made myself a "heavy bag" playlist and used the workout that was provided with my gloves.  in 20 minutes i was done with the exercises and savoring the endorphins.
when i was back at the rec later that evening for dance practice : ) i saw a guy pummeling the bag without any gloves.  to each his own, i guess.
i like this.

Monday, October 03, 2011

for the strength of ysa

dating is awesome.
no, wait....

dating rots.
no, not exactly....

trying to find someone to share your life with a heck of a lot of work for many of us.  but life is better with company.
and in the lds culture, marriage is an important and desired goal.  while there are apparently some out there who are shirking marriage and enjoying the single life (it's got plenty of perks), it seems that for me and a lot of my friends, it's too easy too think about getting married almost immediately after you begin dating someone.  do i want to be with this person forever?  what about this? what about that?  what if this happens?  i barely know them!  waaaaah!!
and lo, one freaks out the other.

there are some exceptions to this: i was out with some friends once and dropped a girl off around 11 p.m. to meet a guy for a blind date; they spent the whole next day together and were engaged the following morning.  i think they're about to celebrate their one year anniversary.
i have another friend who, from the day he met his wife, had never spent a day apart from her for the first few years of their marriage.

but for most of us, you meet someone, craziness happens to one degree or another, and if you think she's awesome and she thinks you're awesome, maybe you can be celestial rock stars and rule the world in awesomeness.
....provided you don't freak out by thinking about it all too much and too soon.

during our teenage years, we have a little pamphlet called "for the strength of youth" that gives guidelines on everything from dress and appearance to music to dating (and, if you're a spiritual overachiever, you still carry one with you....  hi.)  in recently talking with a friend who was concerned that she might be "pulling up the daisies to see how the roots are doing," (i like that phrase) i suggested, what if the church leaders told us we couldn't even think about getting married until after we'd been dating someone for four months?  take time to get to know the person, let them disappoint you and hurt you, let them surprise you and sweep you off your feet.  enjoy just dating them and savor the moment.  the roots are growing down below, even if you can't see them.

marriage is awesome.  but so is dating.  ...when you've got someone to enjoy it with.
life moves pretty fast.  you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

spiritual 'jeopardy'

it's 1:56 a.m.  i just got home from school after being there for more than 12 hours today.  i'm tired and starving and annoyed that tonight is the first time that i can ever remember not attending the priesthood session of conference.  my desk is cluttered with mail that needs attention, i have a week's worth of homework due on monday that i have not yet touched, and i'm eating a bowl of steamed  vegetables in penance for many days of malnutrition.

i did get to see more of conference than i originally expected.  had i my act together, i could have seen more, but i'm trying to repent and be better in many ways.  and the few talks and portions of talks that i did see were incredible.  already i have two or three that seem have been the talks that were given just for me.  i'm very excited to listen to them on my ipod next week, as well as the talks i have missed, and to read and study them in next month's ensign.

as i said, i have brought two questions to conference this time.  and today as i was pondering about what i'd heard and what i'd learned, i was reminded of something i learned a d&c class many years ago.  brother bott was talking about section 132, which, like nearly all of the sections in the doctrine and covenants, was given as an answer to a question joseph brought to the Lord.  what stood out to me, thought, was that the Lord didn't really answer the question joseph had, but rather gave the answer to the question he should have asked.
and that is an interesting principle that brother bott taught us: that if you ask God the wrong question, He'll give you the answer to the one you ought to have asked.  kind of like jeopardy: you get the answer and have to come up with the question.

something to think about there....

and i think that's what's happened to me today.  i still need some more time to ponder and think about things, but i think i got a bit of an answer to one question and an answer to the question that should have been my second question.

conference is pretty great like that.
and i'm so very, very grateful for sunday being a day of rest.

the provo tabernacle thing is seriously dang amazing, too.