Saturday, July 26, 2008

Oh look, shiny!

Fickle. People are fickle the world over. And God bless them. There's nothing more lovable to a marketing department than people who one minute are talking about their friend's shoes and the next minute saying something like, "ooooh, shiny." They are the kind of people that keep a consumer economy from tanking. It's that "Oh, gotta have it" mentality that allows shoddy, second-rate fashion designers to stay in business. It is the gift of the fickle to keep strange organic goat cheeses and hybrid curd bread on the shelves. But, it is a double-edged sword the fickle wield.  

Fickle people at times can make or break a journalist's career. They can cause market instability and all of a sudden everyone and their grandma is selling. And, it's just something we have to deal with. Over the past 50 years (or perhaps more), people have been rapidly losing their minds. I used to think that perhaps they were just adapting to the information age, and their attention spans were just shorter, but it's more than that. 

We live in an age where everyone wants immediate results. Our food must be done in 5 minutes or less, people must text us no less than thirty seconds later, and slow movies are the bane of people's existences. Many have become, for better or worse, adrenaline junkies. But it's not just the time. They want everything to be perfect. If things don't happen like they planned, they go haywire. "What, you put two teaspoons of chocolate fudge on my icecream?! Screw you!" It's whack. People are wound so tight it's easy to see why we are over-prescribing ourselves. We take medicines to sleep, to stay calm, to digest better, etc, etc. People cannot exist without modern conveniences. People cannot live with themselves as just themselves.  

The perfectionist mentality will only grow, as will the pharmacy's stock of legal heroine substitutes. You can't treat life with a white glove people. Sh*t happens. Deal with it. Try to maintain composure even when everything seems to suck. You have it good. Just look around, breathe, and put down the shiny thing.

Public Domain

I have an interesting note to share.  As you know, I am quite fond of posting random, weird, but hopefully applicable pictures to this blog. To get these pictures I do a google image search.  I then link the pictures to the site where I got them from.  In my mind, it's free publicity for them, and I have a cool picture to illustrate my point. Well, recently I got a little anonymous comment from someone telling me that a picture I used wasn't in the public domain, and said I should contact 'so and so' to get rights to display it.  Well, I'm not about to pay them on top of the free publicity I gave I deleted the picture and put one up that I believe was in the public domain.  But, I honestly don't know.  From what I understand, most bloggers don't worry a whole lot about it.  I'm not a picture pirate.  I am bringing your work to light for free, and linking it back to your site, giving you more traffic.  

Arnold would say, "Stop your whining!" And I would have to agree. Seriously.  My blog is in the public domain.  Quote from it as you please.  Print out posts you like.  Put them under your pillow at night for the satire fairy.  Put them in your family bible.  Have them reprinted in your local paper.  I credit the pictures by backlinking them, so I'd expect a little of that too, but my blog will always be free.  Down with the man!  Open source baby!

Friday, July 25, 2008


You know what I've heard from the McCain camp, and numerous non-American press outlets? I heard that Obama is getting more publicity from the media than McCain. I am shocked. I mean, it just doesn't make sense for the press to be chasing around a handsome, young, energizing mulatto from Chicago's south side. They should be chasing a battle-worn, cranky, white septuagenarian like McCain.  

The statistics are pretty interesting though. In the past month, of the new stories regarding Presidential candidates, 77% have been about Obama, with only 33% about McCain. That disparity is a tad disconcerting. And, many in the press have been blatantly open about their lack of objectivity, saying, as Chris Matthews did, that they have "felt a tingling sensation go up [their] legs" when hearing Obama speak and campaign. It would not be quite so funny if it weren't actually happening. But, at the same time, most American news is nothing but sensationalism passed off as journalism. And that's one reason I read more news from Britain and other countries.

However, I can't help but think I am only contributing to the Obamamania by mentioning him in my blog as much as I do. I try to get both McCain's name, and Obama's in the same post, or in the same sentence (like this one), but it can be tricky. They are trying to outmaneuver each other using the press.  Well, I won't be bought. The fact is, regardless of the press's favoritism of Obama, the polls have remained relatively the same. Obama has a slim 2-3% point lead and it hasn't changed much at all for a few weeks. That should be comforting to McCain, and a little sign of trouble for Obama. Either way, I think it will be a fun race to watch in these upcoming days and months.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Always Leaving

The truth is, not matter how long you stay, no matter where you go, or what you do, everybody leaves. They leave when they graduate from high school, college, when they change jobs, when they go into witness protection, and when they're on the run from the law. Everybody leaves. And it can be sad, and it can be happy, and it can be bittersweet. But even those people who stick around in the same town their whole life leave.  It begins with life and ends with death. "Easy come, easy go, a little high, a little low...any way the wind blows" as Queen says, and I'm sure Pocahontas from the Disney animated feature would agree.

And in my case I can't wait to leave sometimes, and other times I wish I could stay forever. Well, in Provo it has never been the latter. I will not really miss the place. Sure I'll miss some friends, but the place has been anything but cool. I've had some good memories, good times, and enjoyed myself on occasion, but to be honest, most of the good friends I've made here at school have been from Pennsylvania, Idaho, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia, and even my home state Massachusetts.  But I find it odd that while in Utah I'm chillin' with out-of-staters like myself. It must be a sign. I have a higher calling. When I leave here I will shed no tears, but rather put on a smile, and throw a huge rager.  Then I'm out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bombay Love

The city once known as Bombay is a beautiful place.  Now it is called Mumbai, a change made by an adamantly pro-India, anti-British colonialism political party.  I read most recently a fabulous book that took place in Bombay, before it became Mumbai, but it is still the same place.  In the city there are well over a hundred different languages and dialects, amazing food, smells, beaches, culture, and tradition.  The book that enlightened me to this place was 'Shantaram.'  I mentioned it in a previous post before having read it, and I am now following up.

Shantaram is now one of my favorite books.  And, I think that says a lot with the amount of books I read.  It is over 900 pages of brilliant writing, imagery, and philosophic depth.  It is a book you cannot simply nibble, but must savor and devour like a succulent and eloquently nuanced dish at a great restaurant.  And the theme that stays with it more than any other is 'Love.'  

In India there are more than a billion people, and not too far from now will surpass China in population.  And, it is about six times the size of France.  However, paraphrasing the author Gregory David Roberts, it is a tribute to the love of the place that they all get along with relatively few serious incidents.  Sure, there are battles, riots, etc., but over the years they have generally coexisted well with one another in peace even with hundreds of differing cultures, religions, and languages.

There is a part in the book where the main character is boarding a train to go to the country.  As everyone wants a good seat, there is pushing, shoving, and clamoring for space.  But, as soon as the train starts to leave the station people are calm and composed, offering food, kind words, and smiles to their neighbors even with feet in their faces, and overly cramped quarters.  In other words, there is order when it is most important.  If a similar size country had a billion Americans, Australians, or Frenchmen, you can be sure there would not be that kind of civility and calm.  And that is why India, and Bombay specifically, are the world capitals of love.

Listening to the beautiful Muzak....

I know you all love waiting for customer service people on the phone. That lovely classical music or smooth jazz just makes you giddy. Well I am going to release the names of certain companies that have longer than usual wait times, so you get your fill of muzak.

One company that lets me wait for as long as I want, and then some, is  Those blessed souls on average let me listen to anywhere from 7-10 tracks of beautiful muzak.

Another very considerate service that lets me listen to classical music is Brigham Young University's Financial Office.  They tell you an approximate wait time, and then (bless them) they extend it by two or three times the approximation.

Now one company that has a very short wait time, hardly ever letting me hear the first track all the way through, is my bank.  Chevy Chase is quick, and the lip service and real people on the other end are disconcertingly non-muzak-like.  

So, that is my observation today.  Feel free to add to the list.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Puppy and Kitten Prank

Not too long ago, my friend Joey and I decided to do a prank. We were walking along the road side as is our custom at times, and we saw a lot of advertisements on telephone poles. Some of them read "High paying summer sales!," while others said, "5 Free pizzas!" And, on the whole I knew most of those ads were entirely ineffectual. However, that did little to stop us from doing the prank.

Everyone loves puppies. They're cute, fluffy at times, and all in all, adorable. Women faun over them, kids chase them, and even guys get noticeably gentler with puppies. And, on that same note, most people feel similarly about kittens. So, Joey and I decided to make puppy and kitten ads, looking up the most adorable pictures possible online. And, what made it good was that we put my brother's phone number on the kitten ad, and we put my friend Nick's name on the puppy ad. The ads said something like, "Adopt a puppy," or "Kittens for sale." So we made the ads, and printed up a bunch of copies, putting them on bulletin boards at local businesses, telephone poles, and all over BYU campus. Then, we waited.

After a couple days of no response from either Nick or my brother, we tried to pry in a round about way. I don't remember how we asked them, but I'm sure it was something like this: "Hey, have you been getting any strange phone calls lately?" And the response was something like this: "I don't think so...wait, actually, just yesterday I had a voicemail message about some kittens or something." I tried to contain myself. "Oh," I said. "That's weird." So it turns out they only got a couple calls, and my brother hardly answers his phone so they were mostly voicemail messages. Joey and I were hoping for a better turnout, but it was still pretty funny. Definitely funny enough to do again. I recommend it.

For more funny puppy stories go to this Strongbad email.

*If the picture is not in the public domain I apologize, but it's back-linked to the site of origin and you are getting free publicity.

Monday, July 21, 2008

CHOW! Tchau! Ciao!

Here is a similar word in three languages:


The first is like saying 'goodbye' in portuguese, although they also say 'adeus' for longer goodbyes. The second is saying 'goodbye' in Italian, and of course they have a similar phrase in italian for longer goodbyes.  Most of you will be familiar with the third.  Chow in english is either something you feed your dog, something you do, or a name of a Chinese friend.  So the similarities stick with the latin-based languages, but the germanic english is on its own.  Oh english, you're so silly.  You're the non-conformist of the european community. Thank goodness.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


They say you can't always get what you want. But you can get it, just not always when you want it. Well, yesterday we all wanted it, and we got it right when we needed it. Llamafest. Once a year, at the Hare Krishna temple in Spanish Fork, Utah, the llamas come out to play. People come out from as far as the central valley in California to show off, race, and pet their llamas. And we were not disappointed.

There was a little obstacle course for the llamas that had a pool of water they had to cross. I want to say right now, that llamas are not aquatic animals. And, they proved that water was certainly not their favorite by stubbornly refusing to cross the pool. This happened time and time again. I only saw two successful crossings, after watching at least a dozen llama attempts. So that was of course quite amusing.

After the obstacle course there was a race. And, our group submitted a contender. Mike. He grabbed his llama by the reins and was off like a lightning bolt on the first half of the race. However, as he rounded the turn, his llama just stopped. The llama (a disobedient and quite obstinate female) would not go any further. So Mike dragged her to the finish line, placing 2nd to last as opposed to taking his spot on the medal podium. Later he found out why it was so difficult. A local llamaneer (llama raiser) told him that females usually don't do races and things, they're just for breeding. And, when they don't want to do something, they don't (typical of the female sex).

So having watched a llama obstacle course, and race, my friend Eric and I thought we saw from the corner of our eyes, a bunch of midget donkeys. Upon closer inspection, we saw that they were not donkeys, but in fact were midget cows. And they were hungry. So we fed the midget cows from hay that was on the ground right in their own pen. Now, they could have just as easily picked it up themselves and eaten it, but being hand fed is a nice way to go. I mean, think about it. Eating grapes yourself is good, but being fed grapes by someone else is great - even a sensual experience.

If that were all, it would have been a great time, but of course there was a band of opiate stoned crazies playing random mixes of classic rock and Hindu chants. The members of the band were interesting to say the least. There was the lead guitar player, who used what looked like a guitar hero guitar, there was the transvestite drummer, another guitar player, and of course a didgeridoo player to cap it off. And they did a terrific job for as stoned as they must have been.

After checking out the pond behind the band, seeing an albino peacock, and talking to a cockatoo and African Grey parrot, I went inside to eat. And, even though the whole meal was vegetarian, I enjoyed it. Our crew went upstairs as I was eating and after I finished I joined them to be enlightened by a temple devotee who teaches martial arts and yoga. He talked about Krishna, his conversion, how he lives, and mentioned that he was no longer a 'graveyard for dead animal carcasses;' ie: he went vegetarian. Now I respect that, but I am a graveyard for dead animal carcasses, and I see it differently. As the American Indians believe, I take on the soul of the animal I eat. When I eat a gazelle, I am one with the gazelle. When I eat a cow, I am one with the cow, and, considering the fact that Hindu worshippers believe the cow to be sacred, in a way, I am sacred for having eaten it and for becoming one with it. That's my take. I'm still going to eat meat. What are canine teeth for anyway?

So that was more or less our amazing llamafest experience. After that we enjoyed a little ice cream and holky polky in downtown Spanish Fork, and a good time at Sonics. However, some of us enjoyed Sonic more than others. Naomi for instance was walking into Sonic and thought the door was wide open. So she charged right into a giant window. Flustered but laughing, she walked away, trying to avoid any more attention. But then we found out about it. We turned it into a documentary, and Eric did interviews with witnesses to get different perspectives on the event. With a cup full of ice, she did fine, and it was pretty funny.

And so it was, a llamalicious day.