Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Dating/Relationship Advisory System

Based on a conversation I had with CJ recently, I decided to put together a little something that will officially be known as my "Dating/Relationship Advisory System" to borrow a phrasing from the Dept. of Homeland Security. And much as we call their meter the "Terror Threat Level Meter", this meter also deserves a cooler name that does a better job describing its real meaning. I'm thinking of calling it the "Commitment Threat Level Meter" or "Imminent Threat of Engagement Meter" or maybe the "Chance of Getting Some Metaphorical Rain Here in the Metaphorical Desert Meter". Suggestions are welcome.

Relationship Threat Meter

I think the picture of the meter does a pretty good job of explaining the meter, but I'll give you a quick description of each level.

Low: When I'm at this level, it means that I'm not even interested in dating, that I've given up on the prospect of dating in general, and that I don't even really want to think about it. Thankfully I never seem to last long in this category.

Guarded: When I'm in this category, where from time to time I seem to find myself, its not that I'm not interested in dating, its just that there don't seem to be any real prospects out there. Either the girls I think are worth dating have already made it abundantly clear that they aren't interested, or there just aren't any girls that I am interested in asking out.

Elevated: This category is where I find myself when there are some girls I'd like to ask out and, hopefully, plan to act on those feelings sooner rather than later.

High: This category would indicate that I've been on at least one date with a girl who I'm excited about taking out again.

Severe: This category would only apply in the extreme circumstance that I should happen to find myself in a committed relationship. Please know that I don't mean extreme in a bad way, just in an extreme way.

Some might suggest that an even higher level ought to exist for the event that I've somehow managed to become engaged. And true, perhaps there should, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Anywho, I'm thinking of putting together some way to post the current threat level on the sidebar of my blog (probably just through some little images that I could change according to how things are going), so don't be too surprised if something like that should happen to show up in the near future.

Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering, the current threat level is yellow.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday Lit Review: Wayside School

This week I decided to share a few books that I really enjoyed in elementary school, and which my teachers enjoyed sharing with me. They are the books about Wayside School by Louis Sachar, who also wrote Holes.

The first book, Sideways Stories from Wayside School, introduces us to the horribly misbuilt Wayside School where there are 30 stories, one classroom on each, instead of 30 classrooms on one main floor.

sideways stories

The book has 30 chapters, each one dealing with one of the students of the 30th floor class, or their teacher (Mrs. Jewls) or one of the odd substitutes that show up when Mrs. Jewls isn't feeling well. Each chapter encapsulates a short story where one of the students has an experience where we get to know them better or more about the class.

The 2nd book, Wayside School is Falling Down, continues with more stories about our favorite class.

falling down

And I just recently have learned that there is a 3rd book, Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, which I need to check out.

wayside school gets stranger

There are also two books which are titled Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School and More Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School, which don't really have much in the way of narrative, but are packed full of logic based puzzles, that for the most part are going to be for kids at a higher level of education than the stories are intended for, at least that was my experience.

Sorry for the shortness of this post, but I wanted to make sure I posted something this week, as I skipped last week's review, and am headed out for a camping trip here shortly.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine?

As you may or may not have heard, head astronomers today stripped Pluto of its planet status. Not sure what its status is now. What I'm really worried about is what mnemonic today's rising generation will use to learn the names of the planets. When I was growing up I learned the ever popular, "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas", which I actually once heard (and have forever since been unable to escape) a musical version of that changed Pizzas to Pizzapies, for rhythmic reasons. It seems creatively ignorant to just update the mnemonic by dropping the pizza at the end. So I'm going to suggest some new phrases that could help today's youth to become more familiar with things that are far off in space.


Many Virile Earth Men Just Sleep Under New Pillows

Monday Ve Eat Mangy Japanese Uber-Nasty Potatoes
Part of the new healthier school lunch movement (as described by the German foreign exchange student).

Me: Vegetables? Eeew Man! Junk! U: NP
Who said it had to be all one phrase? Or not use txt-msg slang?

My Venomous Earthworm May Jenerate Some Unseen New Poison
Kids today aren't the best spellers

Apparently its not as easy as it might seem. Anyone have any better ideas?

Update: I actually forgot to take the P off the end of the ones above, so now I will offer you some post-Pluto phrases


Motorized Vehicles Enter Military Junket Sans Ultra Nightvision
The nightvision being removed was one of the stipulations of the meeting.

Murder Victims Elicit Mercy; Jury Says, "Undead Non-eligible"
Much as we'd like to do something for them, we have a strict no zombie policy.

Marriage Vows Encourage Monogamy. Joint Suffering Undermines Nuptials.
Much as the vows say in sickness and in health, its a lot easier in health.

Mental Visions Evoke My Junior Season's Unprecedented Numbers.
And what a season it was.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A late summernight's dream

Futbol En La Nieve

I've been having some pretty wacky dreams lately, and while I don't always remember all the details or even any of them, I usually can get a few of the details straight if I think about it enough while I'm awake before its faded away.

Anyway, last night I dreamed I was in Ushuaia (in Tierra del Fuego), which is actually a place I dream about a lot for some reason. Anyway, in this dream, I remember thinking, "Hey, I usually dream about coming here, but this time I'm really here!" Not sure why I fall for it every time. Anyway, I was there with a few friends and then I got on this little boat to go out in the harbor, and it was spinning around like crazy in the water, but heading over to the end of the bay. There was some kind of rope boundary that I ran into which was subsequently knocked into the water and actually made someone else's boat tip over and pitch its pilot into the water. Unfortunately this section of the bay happened to be full of sharks. Maybe thats why there was a rope there? Not sure. Anyway, at this point, my boat is careening crazily through these shark-infested waters, all the while threatening to pitch me overboard.

I think after an extended period of this, I finally decided to wake up, although I did do some more dreaming about Ushuaia. I always try to go to houses of members that I know there, but they are rarely home, or else I can never quite figure out where they lived. I know we crossed over the border to Chile at one point, and I remember thinking that I wanted to go visit the National Park that I never made it to while I was there as a missionary. Anyway, I think my favorite part of the dream was that part where I was totally convinced that this time it wasn't a dream. I'm so gullible. :)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday Lit Review: The Progress Paradox


For this week's lit review, I'm going to give you a review of the book that I just finished reading earlier this week, The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse by Gregg Easterbrook, who you may or may not recognize as's Tuesday Morning Quarterback. (He also happens to be one of the editors of the New Republic.)

The basic premise of the book is that life continues to improve in most measurable ways: people live longer, have more resources, crime is down, democracy is up around the world, etc; meanwhile, people are not any happier, and in some cases are more unhappy.

In a sense, the book discusses the meaning of life and what things really make us happy, which sounds like a fairly religious topic, but the book manages to thoroughly discuss this theme in a fairly scientific/statistical manner, with only a few theological references.

A few reasons Easterbrook gives for people feeling worse is that much of today's media is geared around calling everything a "crisis" and focusing on the negative trends rather than the positive. Politicians also have a vested interested in pointing out problems that need solving. Also, our material wealth has gone way past satisfying needs, but wants unfortunately can almost never been satisfied.

But beyond these external influences, he also talks about how recent studies have shown that gratitude and forgiveness, in addition to be acts of graciousness, also tend to make people happier. And people who are happier tend to live longer, healthier lives and make more money. So even if you don't like other people, its in your own interest to forgive and give thanks. :)

Another point he made that I liked was that we see a lot of problems in society today that seem intractable, insolvable even; but we should realize that many problems that we have solved as a society (polio, smallpox, the cold war) were once viewed the same way. That we should trust in the ingenuity of man to solve problems that may seem unsolvable. We just haven't started working on solutions to those problems yet.

I found a lot of stuff here that were in accordance with my own personal beliefs and it was good to see an optimistic look at the present and the future, as opposed to all the doom and gloom that's out there right now.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Resistance is Futile. You Will be Assimilated



I know its not quite as obvious a comparison as the whole pirate pants photo montage, but there's just something about those Bluetooth wireless hands-free cell phone earpieces that some people are wearing these days that reminds me of the Borg from Star Trek.

I mean, honestly, how hard is it to hold a phone with your hand? I can see for someone who is driving, or someone who is working at a job where they need both their hands for typing while they talk on the phone. But almost always when I see someone wearing one of those things its just when they are walking around. At the mall, or on the street, or wherever. Because it sure is inconvenient to have to use your hand to hold the phone.

Do they think that it makes them look cool? Almost always its some business casual type person who probably got their work to buy it for them, and they are feeling like they are pretty much the bomb because of how cool their wireless hands-free adapter is. They probably are the kind of people who get a new phone every 6 weeks whenever the latest trendy phone comes out.

I thought it was easy to get confused by the person talking right behind you before. Now, you could even be looking at them and not know that they are using the phone. How long before people start getting cellphones implanted in their skull for more "convenience"?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday Lit Review: The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald

The Great Brain

I'm going way back this week to some books that I read early on in my reading career. I had probably finished this series by the time I was in 2nd grade. I only know this because I remember choosing one of them as my favorite book when it was my turn to be the class spotlight. The Great Brain series was authored by John D. Fitzgerald and are told in first person by the author chronicling the adventures of him and his older brother Tom, "The Great Brain". Tom uses his "great intelligence and money-loving heart" to set up scams where he swindles local kids out of their money or just finds ways to earn money at little cost to him.

One thing I found interesting about the books was that they take place in Utah around the turn of the century (the last century, not this one). The Fitzgeralds were Catholics growing up in Utah, and the books are set in a fictional town called Adenville, although the wikipedia entry indicates a good guess for the actual location would be Price, which surprised me a bit, as I had always imagined it being more near St. George, but maybe that's just because it said southern Utah somewhere.

Anyway, there were 7 books in the series when I was growing up, although my research tells me that there is now an 8th book that was published post-humously that gets some pretty good reviews on Amazon. I'd post pictures of them all here, but I was unable to find cover photos for about half of them, so I decided against it. The books in the series are:

The Great Brain
More Adventures of the Great Brain
Me and My Little Brain
The Great Brain at the Academy
The Great Brain Reforms
The Return of the Great Brain
The Great Brain Does It Again

The Great Brain is Back

The last one being the one that I have not yet read. Of the original 7, I always liked "Me and My Little Brain" and "The Great Brain at the Academy" the best. In "My and My Little Brain", JD (all the boys in the family go by their first two initials), the author, steps into the role of conniver, as TD (Tom) has gone to Salt Lake City to attend high school (the academy). In "The Great Brain at the Academy", we get to learn about TD's adventures away at a Catholic school in Salt Lake.

I think these books are at a pretty low reading level, but are great stories for anyone who likes great stories about kids. My brother and I found them at my grandparents' house and took them home for ourselves, at least two of them. The rest all showed up shortly thereafter, although I don't know if my parents bought them for us, or if they were also at my grandparents' originally. Either way, I'm sure I read them all through a couple times growing up.