Saturday, March 30, 2013


Which President Hinckley cartoon is the true one? Vote here!

Random thoughts, volume 4

  • I can tell my original stories are lame if Jan tells me they are 'interesting.' So what if the lead characters always seem to die, I say? The important thing is that I keep trying and some day in the far reaches of the future I may eventually come up with a decent story. Maybe.
  • There's no such thing as a 'good' workout. It's like having a 'good' chemotherapy session. If you enjoy working out, there is literally something wrong with you. And I don't mean wrong like in a Ziggy cartoon caption kind of way: I mean that you have actually physically damaged the part of your brain responsible for sanity and now that it is broken you are free to roam about, saying utterly ridiculous things. You may as well claim that your favorite color is eyebrows. 
  • One time I bought some jeans for $4 at a thrift shop and when I put them on, THERE WERE THREE DOLLARS IN THE POCKET.
  • The most money I've ever found just laying around was a $50 bill. It was in my boss's wallet, which he had carelessly left in his desk drawer. 
  • Just kidding, it was in a parking lot.
  • I'm not sure what I said before, but if I did not claim that Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is my all-time favorite CGI movie/kid's show, I wish to enter this into evidence now. Everything about it is awesome.
  • I probably should have mentioned before that my original stories are written 'instantly.' That is, with no thought beforehand and with no more than a 2-second pause between paragraphs. I start writing, having no idea of the plot of the story, and I don't stop till the story seems to naturally end. This may have at least an indirect influence on why I tend to kill all my lead characters rather suddenly in all my stories.
  • If you think about it, E.T. should really technically just be the story of 'one additional terrestial.' So it could have been about basically any guy in particular, and they would have saved a lot of money on special effects.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Our daughter Madeleine is really into Jake and The Neverland Pirates, which is a new-ish show on the Disney channel. We don't have the Disney channel, but she has an app for it that shows episodes. 

It's an interesting take. In my opinion, they were looking for a new show, and they wanted to maybe utilize one of their existing properties. They knew that pirates are still considered relatively cool nowadays, and they thought of the Neverland Pirates from Peter Pan. But they must have known that Peter Pan isn't (and in my opinion was never) remotely cool, so they needed a non-wimpy lead character to interact with them.

So they came up with Jake, who has spiky hair and a cool outfit and is adventurous. With his friends Izzy and Cubby, they 'fight' the Neverland Pirates, which is more of a low-stakes game of constant one-upmanship wherein Hook steals something from Jake and Jake steals it back, and then Hook's pants fall down or some equivalent comeuppance.

That being said, I approve of Jake (and Phineas & Ferb) far more than 99% of the other things out there that Mads could be watching, particularly because he's cool and he's armed. And that beats Curious George or Dora any day of the week.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Review: Strange but True

So this one was pretty good. I remember enjoying it while I was reading it, but it's difficult to remember most of the stories in it. Most of the stories are very short-about a page or so. The longest is 4 pages, the shortest is about 3 paragraphs. So mixed in terms of detail. Essentially it's stories that people have written in to a kind of alternative kooky magazine called "Fate Magazine" that has been around since the 1940s.

The topics are just anything unusual, which ranges from ghosts to near death experiences to psychic phenomenon to aliens to UFOs to death omens to astral projection to past lives to doppelgängers to cryptozoology, and so on. Essentially, right in my wheelhouse. Oh, and all the stories are allegedly true. Some seem very true, and others are patently false, such as one an old lady told about seeing fairies in her back yard. She was probably high.

It started off rocky when I think I read about 4 stories in a row of Mexicans claiming the Virgin Mary saved them from a werewolf or something. But it got a lot better. Some really interesting stuff, and some unusual hauntings, and something unexpected-namely, some spiritual stories that the writers had no idea were spiritual.

For example, a grandpa was watching his 18-month old grandson while his daughter slept in her home across town after working a night shift job. The kid was doodling on a slate chalkboard and when the grandpa picked it up, the words "take me home right now" were written on it. He grabbed the kid and sped home in time to save his daughter from a gas leak. The old guy said "I'm so grateful for my grandson's psychic abilities." Um no, it was obviously divine intervention.

And in another story, a farmer and his wife are in his yard when a family pulls up in a wagon and asks for directions. They were very lost. The farmer chats with them for a while and explains exactly how to get where they wanted to go. They thank him and leave, and the farmer asks his wife why she didn't say a word since she's usually so talkative. She says "I would have if I spoke German, and furthermore I had no idea you could speak it!" He had apparently conducted the entire conversation in German, even though he didn't speak a word of it. Gift of tongues, but the farmer concluded it was a 'time shift' or something stupid.

There were other cool stories as well, like a girl that had a double of herself that would show up from time to time and just look at her, but once or twice actually saved her life. She would age at the same pace that the girl would age. And there are a lot of brief stories that don't leave much of an impression, which I fault the writers for more than the content. Many of them had interesting or scary content but were told so dryly that they read completely flat.

I also liked the alien stories. I'm 99% convinced people don't visit the earth from outer space and, if they do, that they don't have weird powers and stuff. But even these stories strained the limits of my credulity. Such as the people who claimed they were immortal beings from Venus and were born with 6 fingers. That's just stupid. Very few people ever have more than 5 fingers.

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Built That

We had a problem; we hated our bedside tables and couldn't afford any of the alternate ones we liked. We looked at several stores from Texas to Florida (this search took over a year) and all the ones we liked at all, we couldn't afford.

We were stuck with some dumb Ikea metal bookshelf things that were never meant to be anything at all like bedside tables. They were slanted back and were likely meant to hold potted plants, is my guess. But then one day Jan found an interesting design for a coffee table on the Internet. It looked like this:

We both really liked this, but we had an acceptable coffee table already. Could this be modified in some way to become a bedside table?

Using the above table as a reference, I whipped up the following options:

We went out and priced things, but we a little bit bummed to find that, when you added it all up, it was going to be more expensive than we thought. The priciest part by far was the 'flanges,' which if you look at the coffee table picture are the 'feet' sitting on the ground. Those would be the main connector pieces that would anchor the pipes to the wood. We also found that the pipe was pretty expensive and would need to be cut and threaded by hand in order to be affordable (it was $30 for like a 9' long piece of iron pipe but if you bought it in 12" increments it would be about $70). 

We preferred the one on the left but could only afford the one on the right, so we went for it. I found a website where we could buy the flanges for about $3.25 each rather than $11 each (their price at Lowe's, the only store in town with flanges that we found). Since we needed 16, this helped a lot. And we spent an entire evening and Lowe's one night when we had a guy cut our pipes into 8 separate pieces and thread them, and had someone else cut up the wood. Without a garage or a mitre saw anymore, everything would have to be cut at stores, and would have to be exact.

Jan stained the wood and we found a nice finish that was kind of more of a natural 'wax' type thing rather than a polycarbonate chemical finish; the result looked much more, well, natural. And we had to spray paint the flanges and the pipes in places so they would match better, but we left most all of the 'industrial' flourishes intact, such as words stamped on the pipes or flanges, etc. 

When it came time to assemble it, I found it to be much more difficult than I'd previously thought. I had to get the flanges on and have all 4 pipes for both tables to be exactly the same height. With the threads all completely different on each (remember, it was all done by hand by some guy at Lowe's who had only ever used the machine once before), it was a significant challenge. I then I had to get the wood assembled (used a connector plate and some wood screws) and had to mount the pipes and get them completely level, straight up and down. We added some casters and it was done.

Incredibly, it worked exactly how I wanted it to, other than that they were slightly taller than I had wanted them to be. I'm not sure why this was; I think I just had a hard time visualizing it. 

Picture another one just like this and you'll know what they both turned out like.

Detail of the casters and the bottom part.

Another unexpected twist: they both weight about as much as a mid-range Buick. Who knew iron pipe and 2" thick pine that's full of knots would be so dense?

Of course, with this project working out well, if over budget, I started to feel slightly over-confident. I was sure that I could improve our existing TV stand-another Ikea monstrosity that had made it through 4 moves in the last 3 years and was in very sorry shape. Ikea furniture is made to be assembled and then left to die somewhere, never again touched by human hands. That wasn't the case with ours. Since they're made of like compressed sawdust that is painted 'espresso,' if you even look at them wrong they will get severely and permanently scratched and scarred, and nothing can fix it.

Anyway, the TV stand. 

This one was going to be a bit easier, I thought. I had two original plans:

The first plan.
The modified final plan, incorporating some suggestions Jan made to try to make it look a little less traditional.

I budgeted this one out and figured it would cost no more than $60; a huge improvement over the bedside tables, which even with all the cost cutting turned out far more expensive than I'd initially thought. Fortunately, I came in exactly on budget on this, though the corners I cut would come back to haunt me.

First, I bought cheapie screws. I should have gone with nice deck screws with a 'star' pattern. Instead I went with normal exterior screws with a Phillips pattern. Big mistake: they strip whenever they come into contact with anything with molecules in it. I ruined, collectively, over 20 screws on this project because they stripped out before sinking.

Second, I wanted to put some decent feet on it, but got cheap ones that had no 'sticky' part on them and had no place for a screw. I should have sprung for something better that would have actually worked.

I assembled the long pieces first and then thought I could built it from the ground up, but it wasn't going very well. I took a break and took Maddie to a movie. When I came back, I felt like I had a much better plan: I would build the 'box' part first, ensuring all the key pieces would fit together tightly, and then I would go back in and build in the interior. 

That turned out to be an inspired choice, because it worked perfectly, and Jan can attest that we were both basically shocked when I went to install the final divider and it fight absolutely effortlessly. 

The project wasn't without its frustrations, though. A polite but stupid neighbor asked me to stop drilling it because he works nights. This was like at 2pm on a Saturday. When else am I supposed to do a home project? If I waited till the evening it would be ridiculous. So I brought the stand into the house and drove the screws in BY HAND. I pre-drilled a small # of the holes, but tried to keep that very limited because 1) the girls were sleeping in the other room, and 2) I was inside now and didn't want to disturb the rest of my neighbors. I thereafter only used the drill to make very limited adjustments here and there.

Work in progress. I did wind up waking up at least one of the kids.

I would up paying for that stunt today, when I woke up and felt like my hands and arms had become possessed by Pazuzu overnight. I had to be doped to the gills to make it through the day without crying. 

But it worked! It turned out almost exactly how I wanted it to, with only a few minor items that didn't go the way I planned (I slipped a few times and put some unexpected scratches into it, and one screw was stripped so badly that I had to cut it off with a hacksaw and will have to wood putty over it some other day). And it weighs so much it will likely crash through the floor, killing my stupid downstairs neighbor that complained to me. So it's still a success.

But for now, we have upgraded ourselves 1 TV stand!

Sorry, this picture is not well lit. But you get the gist of it.

Hooray! On to the next! Just kidding; Jan says I am no longer allowed to do projects for at least 6-8 more months. I kind of agree.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My first GIF


making a gif

Better go and add 'animator' to my Linked In experience section.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Original Story: Pilot Jack

It was a day like any other when Pilot Jack headed out to make his rounds. He was a fighter pilot for the US Air Force, and was stationed off of the coast of Da Nang, an obscure waterfront town on a small island near Vietnam.

Pilot Jack was 3 clicks south of Halong harbor when he noticed something unusual. "Charlie Bravo to base, Charlie Bravo to base," he said. "Echo leader, this is Bravo Delta, what is your 20, over," replied the base. It was then that Pilot Jack, in a bright flash of light, disappeared from the sky.

Blinking several times, Pilot Jack found himself in a dark room, strapped to what appeared to be an operating table. In the distance, he could hear unusual noises and an odd humming sound. Just then, a small being approached him. He was green and had gigantic eyes, and looked very strange.

"Do not be alarmed, Pilot Jack," said the creature, telepathically. "We mean you no harm. We are merely here to study hu-mans and to understand hu-manity. We are explorers, like yourself."

Having been trained to withstand enemy propaganda, Pilot Jack closed his eyes and telepathically said, "Study this, Mate!" With a quick burst of speed, he tore through his restraints and clipped the alien on the chin with a mean uppercut. He then grabbed a folding chair and clonked him on the head with it. The other aliens, who had been in the background, became very alarmed. "Who's next?" teleplied Jack.

One by one, he used jew-jitsu moves (Pilot Jack was Jewish) to dispatch his alien captors. When they were all unconscious, he went to the window and looked out. He was high above the earth, flying in what appeared to be an invisible UFO.

"How are you gonna get out of this one, eh, Jack?" he telethought. Just then he had an idea. It was crazy, but it might work. He pulled out his Air Force-issued side arm and started blasting away at the control panel.

Down, down, down, the UFO went, picking up speed as it plummeted towards the earth. It hit the ocean with the force of 1,000 megaton bombs. And as the ship started to explode, Jack thought, "Why did I think that would work?"

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Blog

In case you missed it, I recently started a new blog where I'm going to exclusively post my LDS artwork, as well as updates for my in-progress sacrament meeting activity book. Head on over for all your LDS illustration needs, provided those needs require badly rendered lumpy versions of prophets and apostles.


I will still regularly post here at The Evil Robot but will mainly put the churchy stuff over at DNUM.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Review: Cherished Experiences from the writings of David O. McKay

This is a book of just general journal entries and stories told about President David O. McKay from people who were close to him. In many ways, it's similar to John Groberg's books because it 1) had several stories from ocean voyages and the South Pacific, and 2) it was extremely good.

David O. McKay was prophet for nearly 20 years; an unusually long time in the modern age. He had also been an apostle for over 30 years prior to becoming president, so he had a great many stories of interesting travels and inspiring experiences.

If there was ever any doubt that prophets and apostles are chosen and protected from on high, this book pretty well blows those doubts out of the water. Time and again, Elder/President McKay had distinct impressions to go here and avoid there.

But by far my favorite story from the entire book (and that's a tough call because there are several extremely good stories here) is the time when some dip went and saw Bro. McKay speak when he was visiting, I think, New Zealand. This guy goes up to him afterwards and very sarcastically says, basically, 'I'm here to shake the hand of a real life apostle,' as if such a thing were absurd. Elder McKay extended his hand and when it came into contact with this guy's hand, the guy shakes as if he's being severely electrocuted, starts being extremely ill, and collapses in a heap on the ground, sobbing.

Elder McKay helps the guy to his feet and then says one of the coolest comebacks I've ever heard: "Let me give you some advice: Never tear another man's house down. If you wish to use a hammer, use it in building a house of your own."

And in the rest of the book he has tons of stories of miraculous healings, amazing visions and dreams, and of voices from heaven plainly speaking to him. Very dramatic and spiritual experiences, with a good mixture of human interest thrown in. Every once in a while they throw in a talk that is all doctrine, and those are a little dry, but they, though worthy and interesting, are relatively infrequent.

I don't often recommend books that are worth buying, but this book is so obscure it's doubtful it's available at most libraries. It's only a few bucks on Amazon. If you're interested, it's a terrific read.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stephen Green

Our low-information voters are about to get quite an education. Now, one of two things will happen. They’ll either form a surge of right-leaning voters, as happened in California in 1978 and then the nation as a whole in 1980. Or they’ll become the quietly bitter little form-fillers and benefit-takers and line-standers the Bureaucratic State has been diligently working to turn them into since the New Deal. My hopes aren't high.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Movie Review: The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is a Hollywood musical about a Lion who wants to be king of the forest, and the entire movie is really just a set up and filler for his elaborate 2-hour long "King of the Forest" song that appears in the middle.

To get to that point, the movie starts with Dorothy, who wants to protect her dog from a mean lady who wanted him 'destroyed' and who very likely dies in a tornado that strikes their rural Kansas town during the Great Depression.

Dorothy is transported to the Land of Oz when some stage glass blows out of her bedroom window, missing her by about 2 feet. However, this knocks her unconscious, and she wakes up in Oz, which is populated by singing Munchkins (small people who speak an alien language that is completely indiscernible) and bright flowers ("they're plastic!" said my 3 year-old daughter).

She is told to visit the Wizard of Oz to be returned to Kansas, although, according to a good witch, all she really needed to do was click her heels together 3 times and say 'there's no place like home.' However, this was deemed 'less believable' than traveling with a talking tin man, scarecrow, and lion through a fantasy land in an effort to meet a wizard.

Their journey takes literally 2 minutes and they arrive at Oz after encountering exactly one peril that Glinda or Glenda or whatever steps in and delivers them from almost immediately. While waiting to see the Wizard, we get to the movie's main set piece-the "King of the Forest" song that is so painful that you will have to fast forward it at 120x speed for 15 minutes before you even get to the part where he wears the carpet for a cape. Also, lions are not indigenous to forests, so yeah.

For motivations never revealed, the Wizard sends the group on a quest to get the Wicked Witch's broomstick. Maybe it was a stall tactic? And yet even though he insists he's a 'very good man,' he probably sent some innocent morons to their almost certain death to avoid having to help them.

The best part of the movie is when they're all going to the Witch's castle to try to get the broomstick and they have various tools to help, like a butterfly net and a spray thing labeled 'Witch Remover,' and they've given the Scarecrow an actual gun. It looks like about a .38 or so.

Yada yada yada, the group Lord of the Ringses their way into the castle and defeats the witch via the Signs method. How she survived all that time being up to 65% water is beside the point, which is that all the major plot points of this film involve a minor committing manslaughter.

The Wizard leaves Oz in a balloon and Dorothy goes back home to await trial as the main suspect-certainly the only one with clear motive-in the death of Mrs. Gulch, the end.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013


"What e're thou art, act well thy part."
 -Favorite saying of President David O. McKay, attributed to William "Bill" Shakespeare

Maintenance issues

A quick note about the blog layout; Blogger is having some kind of goofy issue where my sidebar is no longer showing up on the side but on the bottom, and apparently I'm the only person on the entire Internet experiencing this. I didn't like the new fancy layout, either, because it displayed poorly on mobile devices, so I switched back to old fashioned.

About every 2 weeks or so I get an idea for a total blog redesign, and I will work it up and change it over...for about 4 minutes or so, then I hate it and switch it back. And I think I've been trying to think up a better name for the blog for about the last 5 years.

Why did I ever call it the Evil Robot? I have no idea. I think at the time it was sort of in line with my personality, which had lots of silly names for things like that. Like I think my ebay user id was the 'Pirate's Pub,' named after a cool wooden sign that I had until I got married, and then it mysteriously vanished somewhere, done in by female hands that made the house 'presentable' and 'not like a 17 year old guy's house' or something.

So from time to time I think of naming the blog something mature and not ridiculous, but then I worry that it will lose its personality, and then I recall that it doesn't actually have any personality to begin with, and soon thereafter I recall that I have literally like 7 readers and every last one of them is related to me, and none of them really care what I call the blog and are likely just checking back each day to see how badly I've rendered another church historical figure in MS Paint.

So what do I do about the blog layout? I'll try to leave it be for awhile until the urge strikes again to try to fix it. That will probably happen some time later tomorrow or so.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Let my assure you, Brethren, that some day you will have a personal Priesthood interview with the Savior, Himself. If you are interested, I will tell you the order in which He will ask you to account for your earthly responsibilities.

First, He will request an accountability report about your relationship with your wife. Have you actively been engaged in making her happy and ensuring that her needs have been met as an individual?

Second, He will want an accountability report about each of your children individually. He will not attempt to have this for simply a family stewardship but will request information about your relationship to each and every child.

Third, He will want to know what you personally have done with the talents you were given in the pre-existence.

Fourth, He will want a summary of your activity in your church assignments. He will not be necessarily interested in what assignments you have had, for in his eyes the home teacher and a mission president are probably equals, but He will request a summary of how you have been of service to your fellowmen in your Church assignments.

Fifth, He will have no interest in how you earned your living, but if you were honest in all your dealings.

Sixth, He will ask for an accountability on what you have done to contribute in a positive manner to your community, state, country, and the world.

-President David O. McKay

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Review: Our Haunted Lives, by Jeff Belanger

"So you basically only read church books and scary books and almost nothing else whatsoever, I guess."

"Yes, pretty much."

It's not that I don't want to read other things; I do. I just have unique taste, I guess, and don't tend to like the popular/trendy stuff as much. But I do have an open mind, and will read most anything that people recommend. I'm just not as good as I used to be at tracking that good stuff down. Several years back I had a customer service job and I worked the later shift so at lunch I would go to the library and load up on books, and I would check things out based on how interesting the cover was. I read a lot of lame stuff that way but did find some definite interesting and worthwhile things. 

Nowadays, I would have to run out of all of the backlog of books on my shelf that need to be read (still about 15 books to go) before I would be able to get back to the 'whatever looks good' system. And even then, books are racier now and I probably wouldn't have as much luck. 

But until then, here's the latest and greatest-"Our Haunted Lives." It was an interesting premise: the author runs a ghost story website and the book is his interviews of some of the contributors that he felt had the most interesting tales to tell.

The result is a fairly mixed bag. Mostly positive and worth a read, but uneven. For example, there are some incredible apparition stories in here, including one about a 'tar guy' that was flipping awesome. And then he'll follow it up with a 5-page interview with a guy who personally has never seen a ghost and doesn't believe in them but HIS EMPLOYEES SORT OF DO. 

Those uneven stories take you right out of it. He badly needed an editor to help him pick out the winners from the losers. In one story, a girl wakes up with a hand print on her arm, AND IT STAYED THERE FOR THE BETTER PART OF THE MORNING. In others, SOME DRAPES IN A HALL BLEW AROUND A LITTLE, AND THERE WAS A WINDOW OPEN BUT IT WAS FAIRLY FAR AWAY. 

But then there are great stories of cool ghosts and interesting encounters and really great detail, and for the most part he's an OK interviewer, pushing for details where needed. He does allow the people to go on a little too long, and he likes to include their personal belief system in it, so you can wind up with a guy telling a great story but then wrapping it up with a 2-page long summary of Lutheran spiritual beliefs, which would be interesting if they weren't completely wrong. 

But I liked the format; it hasn't been tried much, and I personally don't recall the last time I read a ghost story book that was a compilation of personal interviews. It's a fresh approach, and with a better editor, could definitely yield some great results if applied again down the road.

One thing that irked me, though, was not the author's fault. He closes the book with a story from a Hawaiian LDS guy who he said 'asked to be interviewed as his Hawaiian name to protect his identity against other Mormons that might not approve of his belief in ghosts.' Uh, raise your hand if you're LDS and you believe in ghosts. OK, so that makes about 98% of you. And this guy said he lives in Utah, too. He apparently leaves town every October when about 300 haunted houses pop up and all the radio stations start doing ghost call-in shows. LDS people are absolutely, completely OK with the concept of ghosts, good and evil. We don't entirely understand them, I think-I personally don't know why some people can apparently come back and/or be seen and/or interact with the living in ways that are good, evil, or benign-but we trust that they're part of the plan in some way that we just haven't discovered yet.

So way to go, doofus. Thanks for making it seem like the Church has some weird fringey set of beliefs about ghosts. If you wanted to be anonymous, that's fine. But don't go blaming it on the Church and its lack of open mindedness or something.

Monday, March 11, 2013


“As the taste for what may be called book-learning increases, manual labor should not be neglected. The education of the mind and the education of the body should go hand in hand. A skillful brain should be joined with a skillful hand. Manual labor should be dignified among us and always be made honorable. The tendency, which is too common in these days, for young men to get a smattering of education and then think themselves unsuited for mechanical or other laborious pursuits is one that should not be allowed to grow among us....Every one should make it a matter of pride to be a producer, and not a consumer alone. Our children should be taught to sustain themselves by their own industry and skill, and not only do this, but to help sustain others, and that to do this by honest toil is one of the most honorable means which God has furnished to His children here on earth. The subject of the proper education of the youth of Zion is one of the greatest importance.” 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Catching up, volume 1

While I 'blog' fairly regularly, it's not really blogging in the traditional sense. And while my readership has exploded, ever since I made my blog public, from 3 daily readers to close to 7, I realize that at least 95% of them are family members who may or may not be interested in some minor family updates. And so...

  • Things are going well in Florida. We have a really nice ward. One of our home teachers plays for the Miami Dolphins and the other is a really nice guy who is always willing to sub for classes. I'm the sunday school president again (One of my favorite callings) and Jan is the ward organist, which is nice because it's allowed her to keep that talent going. But it's challenging for me, wrangling the kids each week. I get help from Sara, our babysitter, who always sits close by so she can run over and assist with Mads.
  • Florida has a nice voucher system for preschool where you can help make the government bankrupt by allowing them to pay for your kid to attend 'VPK' (pre-kindergarden). Always willing to do our part to expedite the end days, we quickly got Maddie enrolled. And since we're in Weston, we wound up with one of the best ones in the state. In August, Mads will start at the 'Cambridge Academy.' We'll also need to buy her some school uniforms; khaki pants and red polo shirts. It is very cool.
  • Emme got her first two teeth last week. No sign of any others yet, but she has two little chompers on her bottom row, front and center. Maddie has had several 'Charlie bit my finger' moments with her since.
  • Work is going really well for me. A sr. person at the company stopped me in the hall the other day and told me I am 'saving' my boss and that I am respected by my peers and am 'key' to the success of the company. This is a really gruff woman that doesn't seem inclined to say such things. That is really good to hear and is a major change from how I was perceived at my last job. Apparently the bar is very low here.
  • There are many fun things to do in Florida. Within 3 hours in almost every direction there is something cool, and plenty that we haven't tried yet. We even have the option of going on a 'speed ferry' to the Bahamas if we want. It's apparently just 2-3 hours away by boat. 
  • Miami is still a pretty rough town but we have a decent sense of what is safe and what isn't. Yesterday we went to a farmer's market in Coral Gables, which was very safe and nice, and we were able to walk around freely. We also visited a nice book store where famous authors apparently visit and do book readings and signings. We attempted to buy a hamburger at 'Herb-e-que,' which was a tent at the farmer's market apparently owned by a guy named 'Herb' (his picture was the logo), but they were sold out. Would we prefer a full rack of ribs? Tempting, but our 3 year-old is not interested. Thanks, though.

Friday, March 8, 2013


For no reason at all, Danny Elfman:

"Something, something, Dead Man's Party...(trumpets)"
-Danny Elfman

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Let it burn

It's nice that people are starting to think about 2016 and are getting excited about Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio and stuff. But there's a bigger picture. And that picture is: who cares?

2012 was the turning point where people had a clear choice between freedom and success or captivity and failure and they willingly chose captivity and failure. 

And in that regard, I'm a firm supporter of HL Menken's (pictured above) oft-published quote, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." 

That is, the American people don't deserve to be saved from economic ruin anymore. We're no longer a Christian country and we're absolutely not a center-right country. A center-right country doesn't elect a failed socialist twice in a row. 

Does this mean we should give up? No, we should fight till the end. But it's a losing fight and it will crash hard. And though it will be miserable, it will be worth it to restore the Constitution and a little freedom. In the words of Bane, "When Gotham is in ashes, you have my permission to die."  *

*I know this is very dark, but it sounds cool, and that's really more what I was going for...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book Review: The Second Comforter, by Denver Snuffer Jr.

It was around page 350 of this 426 page book about how to actually meet Jesus in this life that I realized that the author wasn't actually going to tell us a single thing about meeting Jesus in this life. 

I could sense that it was coming on. What gave it away? I think it was a combination of the glacial pace and/or the 'footnotes' which were often lengthier than the actual text itself, in which the author frequently would quote entire swathes of scripture when attempting to reference one or two sentences. "This is the type of guy that would do this, just because he can," I thought. And I was right.

Backing up a little bit, I came across this book from reading some other book on temples, and it was highly rated on Amazon and is from a relatively unknown but somewhat interesting-sounding LDS author (a convert in the 70s, at the time of writing the book he was a high council guy in a stake in Sandy). And the premise sounded awesome: the author claimed to have actually met Jesus and would explain all about it in the book. 

The book is laid out like an 'instruction manual' on what kind of person you need to be to have a personal manifestation of the Second Comforter. And it's dry. Oh my, but it's dry. So very, very, very, dry. The many footnotes. 

The author is a little bit...well, look, I'm sure he's a nice guy. He's apparently an attorney, and he was an institute and gospel doctrine and seminary teacher for approx 30 years or so, so he definitely knows his scriptures. But he's a little bit weird. Like, in one part he talks openly about doing the temple work for 11 deceased relatives and he says that afterwards they followed him out to his truck and told him that, with him, they were a quorum, because that makes total sense. If 11 deceased ancestors are going to be allowed to manifest themselves to you, what better message to deliver then to point out that there are 12 of you, and what better place to do it then at your truck in the parking lot?

OK, so, but the guy does know his doctrine pretty well. I bookmarked and wanted to comment on the following things:

  • He has the right attitude about the book. He frequently says, "I'm just a guy, I'm no one special, nothing in particular qualifies me to write this, doctrine can only come from deity or those in authority, and I am neither, so throw this book away if you don't like it." That's the right attitude to have.
  • He kind of warns the readers about the book on page 18, when he quotes Joseph Smith as saying "If God gives you a manifestation; keep it to yourselves." Then again, he wrote an entire book (indirectly) about his manifestation, and the thing with the 11 guys was a manifestation of sorts, so yeah.
  • He goes off on a tangent about Nephi, and had some really good contextual insights. He said that Laman had to be the one to try to get the plates of brass first, and they had to try and fail to buy them second, so that when Nephi finally got them third, Laman & Lemuel and the rest of the family couldn't really have claim on them as was the tradition at the time. The plates stayed with the People of Nephi.
  • I was dismayed recently to see that several people have posted cell phone videos of the temple ceremony on YouTube. To those types of people, he said, "Interlopers do not gain blessings from God. Those who think publication of the Temple rites accomplishes something are mistaken. They have only proven themselves unworthy of the blessing of receiving more. They disqualify themselves from receiving further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord. Those who attempt to gain sacred knowledge by secretly spying on the rites and publishing them have gained nothing. The symbol is not the real thing. Is it ritual to prepare the faithful to receive the real thing. Without faith, real intent, and seeing the underlying higher reality which the rites symbolize, they have gained nothing. Sacred knowledge cannot be stolen. It is unavailable that way."
  • He had an interesting insight into why prophets tend to be more elderly. He said, "Such people will have vanity and self-pride at an all-time low as a result of declining health and advancing age. Their circumstances in this life fit them uniquely and wonderfully, to give heed to the Lord's prompting and to find little worth in acclaim from the world. An approaching veil into the next life is certain to bring with it a sensitivity to the Lord which the very same man may not have had even ten or twenty years earlier."
  • Elsewhere he talked about the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity and how that is what modern "Christian" churches use to qualify churches as actual "Christians." But then he quotes someone as saying, "If in order to be a true Christian one must conceive of the Christian God in precisely the terms of Nicene orthodoxy, then all Christians who lived before the fifth century and all those on at least one side of the filioque dispute since the 8th century (long story) must be excluded as Christians as well. Moreover, it is contradictory for Protestants to insist on the doctrine of sola scripture-that the Bible alone is sufficient for salvation-in one context, and then to turn around and add nonscriptural requirements for salvation, like acceptance of councils and creeds, in other contexts. -Stephen E. Robinson
So the book, while it had several interesting insights, was so very slow and mainly extremely obvious and dry. You could probably think up about 10 of its main points off the top of your head. Keep the commandments, have faith, have charity, etc. And while I technically sort of "get" why he apparently didn't want to talk about his encounter with Jesus, especially if 1) it actually happened, and 2) he was commanded not to talk about it or just didn't feel it appropriate to do so, I disagree with his actual action 3), which is to go and write an entire book about it without actually talking about 'it.' It's like writing about a near-death experience but when you get to the part where you die, you just add a footnote that says "the details of this are personal and are unnecessary to the point I'm trying to make in this book." Which is exactly what he did here. A single footnote that basically said, "None of your beezwax."

Because, in theory, if you had just spent the last like 10 days trying to read a really dense book so you can get to the really cool ending, that kind of thing would tend to be really massively disappointing, and stuff.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


"There is no knowledge, no light, no wisdom that you are in possession of, but what you have received it from some source."