Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Demon Within

As we've seen before, power often has a dark side. Of late, I've found myself battling my inner demons with a different understanding than I have hitherto had. I'm coming to recognize the voice of my inner demon - the creature nestled in my soul that whispers all my imperfections. "You're not good enough" it states in a quiet voice which still pierces my heart. "You're not strong enough or smart enough. You're weak and unworthy," it states in a sibilant hiss that cuts to the core. It's the voice that weeps in the dark, that shuns the light of day and the joy of friends and family. It's the grasping hand that pulls me down into despair. The Hyde to my Jekyll, the Gollum to my Smeagol.
Of late, I've been trying to distance myself from the demon, to separate him from my own identity. I've been considering naming him Xander, after the dark persona of my past. Can I truly pluck him from my heart and end his torturous cries? Will the void in my heart ever be filled? Can I ever know true peace in this life? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


So, we've got an interesting situation at work that's been puzzling everyone here, and I realized that we could use some input from the outside. Go to the following address: and tell me, in the comments or in an email, what you find there. If it's a sample exam for a physics class, it's right. If it's something else, please let me know about it in detail. Thanks!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Much as I hate to complain . . .

One of my instructors this year will be getting a really, really bad student rating from me. He is a master's student here at BYU and has been given the responsibility of teaching my Music Fundamentals course at 8:00 AM. This is his first experience teaching, so he is, understandably, nervous.

That's not my issue with him.

My issue is that he's on a power trip and seems to believe that he has already achieved his divine destiny of becoming a God. He has publicly declared that he does not have time for us, our problems are not worth taking his time, and he does not have office hours for precisely that reason.

The real icing on the cake is that this object of self-adoration is incompetent. Let me take you through a few typical moments in the few days I have bothered to attend of this course:

1st day of class: "Hi everyone, welcome to Music Fundamentals. We're going to be going over the syllabus today. Now (nervous cough), I haven't actually managed to get the syllabus out to everyone yet - I'll be sending an email with that later today - but we can still go over the basics." (Moves to his computer. Continues in dramatic tones) "So! The most important thing on your syllabus . . ." (Goes to board and slowly writes his name. Pauses for effect. Returns to computer) "The next most important thing on your syllabus . . ." (clears throat and reads directly from computer screen) " 'This syllabus is subject to change.' This is very important to remember." Class ended after 20 minutes

2nd day of class: "Welcome back everyone. I see you all brought your books, very good. Okay, so, you there in the corner, what's your name? Chelsae - is that with an A E, an I E . . . A E, okay. Chelsae with an A E, would you read for us number 1.1?" (she reads) "And the answer to the question in 1.1 everyone is?" (class speaks in bored unison) "Sound." "Right, sound! So, uhh, you in that corner over there, what's your name? Brian - is that with an I or a Y? Okay, Brian with an I, would you read for us number 1.2?" He spent the entire hour doing this.

3rd day of class: We've been discussing musical notation, clefs, etc. (David points at the board and speaks in a voice that one might find on Sesame Street) "So, THAT note is a *G.* Since we've established that THAT note is a *G*, using my remarkable ability to go backwards in the alphabet, we can determine what THIS note is!" (Slowly, pointing at each line and space as he goes) "*G*, *F*, *E*, *D*! THAT note is a *D*" The rest of the day was similar.

Quiz day: A note on the board reads: Quiz will begin at 8:10. 8:10 comes and passes. Several minutes later, the teacher strolls in without a word of explanation or apology and hands out the quiz, then proceeds to make stupid jokes and comments while we're trying to concentrate on our quiz.

Fortunately, attendance is optional in this course. I'm seriously considering getting together with some of my classmates and lodging a complaint with the Dean's office - this guy is getting paid WAY too much for the work he's doing (he's being paid to work 20 hours, including office hours and prep time - he's not even putting the full 3 he's supposed to into our class time!), and we're the ones paying it!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

And another thing . . .

Note: This is part two of a longer blog entry - the first half is here.

While we're on the subject, Senator Obama, Let's talk about your use of the word mistake. A mistake, when you boil it down, is something done in ignorance. If, for example, I write down a formula wrong on a math test and get the wrong answer, I made a mistake. The word "mistake" cannot be appropriately applied to pregnancy in our era - is it possible to grow up in America today without knowing that sex generally results in pregnancy? If I'm not too mistaken, it's that same leftist regime that's gotten that put into the school curriculum so strongly. And, of course, being a leftist invention, the main purpose of sex education is to teach kids ways to escape the consequences of having sex.

But I'm getting off topic. I believe, Senator, there is a word which far better applies to what Ms. Palin has done which fits quite well with your vocabulary. I believe the pro-abortion crowd is quite fond of it, in fact: she has made a choice. She and Levi chose to engage in sexual activity, knowing full well the consequences. Thus far, they appear to have chosen to accept the consequences of their choice. Your offer to pay for the murder their unborn child, in addition to being a slap in the face to her mother, is an offer to allow her to escape not only the consequences of her actions, but the price of it as well. I cannot, in good conscience, support anyone who believes that a government's duty - or that of its governing bodies - is to throw money to people so that they can escape the consequences of their choices. Who was it, in the great war in heaven, who offered a plan to escape all consequence which won the hearts of a third of the host of heaven? That's certainly not God's plan.

Since we're getting into details of vocabulary, let's discuss some more words which are applicable. A villain is defined as a "wicked or evil person." The definition of wicked simply states "Evil by nature and in practice." The applicable definition of evil states "Causing ruin, injury, or pain." Is not that an apt description of what would happen to Ms. Palin's unborn child if she took you up on your offer? The medically documented screams of the unborn as they die will tell you exactly the kind of ruin, injury and pain it causes. Congratulations, Senator - you've shown your true colors as a villain, and you have gained at least one enemy.

In defense of the defenseless

This is extremely out of character for me, but I'm about to get political. You have been warned.

As the tabloid mongers (by which I mean the mainstream media) have eaten up the scandal about Bristol Palin's teenage pregnancy, the true character of the media is clearly shown. But this is not the only revelation which has come out of this situation. Assuming that my source is accurate, Senator Obama, presumably in an attempt to show himself as nurturing and caring while, at the same time, slinging some mud at Governor Palin, said the following: “Governor Palin . . . you tried to teach your daughter about morals and values, but she made a mistake, and she shouldn’t be punished with a baby.” He then offered to pay for young Bristol's abortion “at any time between now and the scheduled moment of birth.”

As a defender of the defenseless, as any true hero should be, I find myself compelled to speak. This sums up everything I have ever seen from the political left: A refusal to recognize that there are certain things in life which have natural consequences. These consequences are not a punishment, something placed by a 3rd party as a penalty imposed for wrongdoing. A consequence is something which naturally arises from a situation. If a student fails to study for a test, a low grade is a consequence, not a punishment. If you choose not to go to college or otherwise fail to get a good education, difficulty in getting a high paying job is not a punishment, it is a natural consequence.

Who would be doing the punishing, Senator Obama? Who has decided that this fetus and future baby should be placed within Bristol Palin? 3 people are involved in such a choice - the mother, the father, and our Eternal Father, the father of the soul which she will bear. Do you propose, Senator Obama, that God is punishing her? Of course not - your implication is that her mother is punishing her by forcing her to accept the consequences of her actions and is an insult to Gov. Palin, Bristol and God. God has given us consequences as a system to learn from our mistakes and our poor choices, not as a penalty. If we ever hope to grow into the divine destiny we share as sons and daughters of God, we must be willing to accept, deal with and learn from consequences. This is, perhaps, one of the most important lessons about morality which her mother could teach, and certainly one which Senator Obama, as well as other Pro-Choice (choice-to-murder-the-unborn) have failed to learn: Consequences make us better people and better citizens. We must learn, as a nation, to face and deal with the consequences of our actions, rather than seeking ways to be bailed out of them, or we will lose the blessing of a "firm reliance on divine providence," that upon which the founding fathers built this nation.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In loving memory . . .

At 10:30 PM last night, I made a saddening discovery. Our guppy, Little Ryan, had passed away. Now, any of you who have made a habit of keeping fish will be saying, "So what? Guppies have a life span of, like, 3 weeks, a couple of months if you're lucky. Of course it died!" We've had Little Ryan for nearly 2 years. Even the story of his birth is a strange one. His life is a story for which I feel the need to drop the 4th wall and face reality.

Emilee had gotten 10 guppies for an experiment for her biology class (observing fishy behavior and feeding patterns in different temperatures). She made certain that they were all female - we didn't want to have a huge tank full of little guppies, especially since we really aren't supposed to have pets, including fish, where we live. The experiment involved partitioning off part of our large tank to create a seperate feeding area, which we did with a small, flexible plastic grating, with tiny holes so the water still flows through.

The guppies slowly died off, as one expects, and no emotion accompanied their passing - they were a science experiment, nothing more, and we had only had them a short time. One day, my friend Ryan went in the back room to look at the fish. From the living room, he heard him exclaim, "Hey, guys! There's a baby fish in here!" I yelled back that that was impossible. He replied, "No, I'm serious, there's a little fish in here!" I wandered in to see what he was yelling about. I found that it was true, there was one little fish which had squeezed through the grating to the other side of the tank from the rest of the fish. This was either quite lucky or quite smart of him, since guppies have a tendency to eat their young.

We named him Little Ryan after his discoverer, and fed and took care of him while the other guppies died off. Since then, he's survived numerous vacations and moving to a new apartment, showing incredible resilience to changes in his environment (when we've left him in the care of a friend) and to lack of food while we've been away over two Christmases and assorted other trips. He was smart, strong, and had a gorgeous tail. We shall not soon see his like again.

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