Tuesday, October 31, 2006

De-misogynized

Melyngoch assures me that, in fact, I am not a misogynist, but rather that my accuser is "the sort of theory-drunk 'feminist' who does nothing for real feminist issues, too busy being angry at men for victimizing women to let women out of the victimized role." I was worried that I would have to start calling all the women I know bitches and hoes (how does one correctly pluralize ho, anyway?) and, I don't know, kicking them around or something. This would have been unfortunate because, as has been established, some of the women in my life are borderline goddesses, Melyngoch being one of the noblest, most intelligent, and most willing to write a long email trashing faulty logic for the purpose of making me feel better.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Misogynist

Apparently I am one.

Who knew?

Attack of the Killer Spores

After we finished carving our Jack-o'-Lantern on Thursday, I put him out on the front porch for Fob to enjoy as they arrived. Later that night, though, after everyone left, I decided to bring Jack back inside with the thought that I would put him out on the back porch, where he would be enjoyed by more passersby (as it happens, we get a lot of passers passing by our back porch). Except instead of putting him outside at the time, I set him inside next to the back door, thinking I'd put him out on Friday morning.

This morning I took a look at Jack, still sitting in the same spot I put him on Thursday night--in our heated apartment--and noticed there seemed to be cobwebs in his eyes. "Oh, how very Halloweeny of you, Jack," I said. "Is there a spider living in you already?" And then I looked closer and realized, of course, that it was mold. Which is also Halloweeny, I guess, but in a gross sort of way.

Moral of the story: pumpkins, like kids, should be kept outside.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fobsvithing on the Sabbath

I was going to start this blog post by pointing out that today is Sunday and I am posting from work, but as it turns out I actually spent my time at work today working, which means that I am now posting from home. The moral of the story, though, is that today is the fifth Sunday in a row that I have not attended church because I was working. Ironically*, the last job I had that required me to work on Sundays was at BYU, where the insistence of dorm-living freshmen on eating daily forced us to open the cafeteria on the Sabbath. Never fear, though: on Fast Sundays we opened only for dinner, ensuring that even the non-Mormons fasted through lunch.

Working at the library on Sundays has led to two realizations:

1. I kind of sort of miss church. The main reason I told FoxyJ I'd attend church with her as long as she wants to keep going is so that she is not stuck in the position of having to deal alone with two children during sacrament meeting, but I'm finding there is value to attending church services even if I don't necessarily subscribe to all the tenets of LDS doctrine. Yesterday as I read an essay by Molly Welker on why she attends Sunstone symposiums (symposia?) despite the fact that she left the Mormon church years ago, I was surprised to find that many of her reasons for attending Sunstone are my reasons for attending church. She says:
That's what Sunstone offers me: a forum where I can work to identify and embrace the elements of my religious training that help me live with greater spiritual awareness and maturity, which, admittedly, is something you can do at Church. But Sunstone also offers me a forum where I can ask if there have been elements of my training as a Mormon that get in the way of spiritual maturity, which is something you really can't do at Church. For me, it's about deciding, as consciously and deliberately as possible, what I want to keep and what I want to lose--and in order to do that, it helps to be around people who recognize some value in Mormonism to begin with, who don't think religion as a whole and Mormonism in particular are a waste of time.
Except in my case, I do find that church is a place I can ask if there are elements of my Mormon training that get in the way of spiritual maturity. I just keep the asking to myself. For the past year I have found myself somewhat distanced from the crowd in church meetings, which takes away from the sense of community I once enjoyed, but it also gives me a cognitive distance that allows me to consider for myself which principles I agree with and which ones I don't. It's easier to build an individual belief system around the framework of an existing group belief system, removing pieces here and adding pieces there, than it would be to start from scratch. As I've been figuring out what I believe over the past year, continuing to attend church has helped me avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

2. I think I believe in the principle of the Sabbath. Working seven days a week (well, working five and going to school the other two, which is in effect the same thing) is too much. I enjoy having a day off to spend with my family. The weekend rotation at the library is such that I'll be off a couple Sundays in November, then all the Sundays in December. I'm going to see what I can do about avoiding the Sunday part of the rotation next quarter. And if I don't want to work on Sundays, it only seems fair of me not to require it of others, so I'm going to make a greater effort to avoid shopping or other activities that make people work on Sundays. Of course, if I don't work Sundays next quarter, then I am asking my coworkers to do so, so maybe I'll have to rethink this. Hm.

3. This realization has nothing to do with working on Sundays, but it is another Mormon principle I'm finding that I agree with. Coffee is the nastiest-tasting beverage on the face of the planet. Why on earth do people drink the stuff voluntarily?


*I'm always nervous to use this word, because no doubt someone will point out that the situation I'm referring to is in fact not ironic in the correct sense of the term; if such be the case, rest assured that, like Alanis Morrisette, I am using the term ironically ironically. Isn't it ironic?

Friday, October 27, 2006

De-nymmed (another post in which I metablog)

Though it was a mere six posts ago that I referred to the fact that my real name does not appear on my blog, observant readers will notice this is no longer the case. Yes, the posts will still say "Posted by Master Fob" and that's how I'll appear when I comment elsewhere, but I told my profile to show my real name, which puts it up in the top right corner here. See? Over there -->

I would like to say that this is a moral decision based on my belief in transparency and honesty, but really it's an economic decision. After a discussion with Th. this evening about how our blogs relate to our writing careers, I've decided that if I want my blog to be a more serious writing endeavor, and I eventually want potential readers and editors and publishers to connect my blog to my name, I'm going to have to actually put it on here.

So this is it. The kid gloves are off. Henceforth, all posts will be serious literary works. No more references to rubber pants, He-Man, or poop. Expect to see here only high-brow, high-culture, high-caliber, high-faluting (notice the preservation of the terminating velarized nasal) essays on such important subjects as world peace, global warming, and international basketweaving. Also expect to see many repetitions of the phrase "Ben Christensen is a sexy beast," so as to lead Googlers searching for those terms here.

A Public Service Announcement
from the Fobcave

Folks, this is the internet. Always assume that whatever you say about someone will be read by that person, sooner or later. Especially if you refer to (a) that person's name, (b) an essay that person has written, or (c) an article that person has appeared in. Honestly, would you be this rude in person? Disagree with me all you want, but c'mon, let's not be mean. If you're not careful, you're going to hurt someone's feelings. Sure, it's his own damn fault for narcissistically Googling his name, but still...

Sneak Preview

Viewers of Fox 13 News in Salt Lake City won't see the creation of the Fob Family Jack o' Lantern 2006 for a while (we don't know when yet), but you, my dear blog readers, can see the finished product right here.

And the scary nighttime shot:

Boo! (Sorry if I scared you.)

Oh, and the interview went well, I think.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

De-versity

See, Tolkien Boy? I can make corny puns too.

I interviewed for a job today in which I would be evaluating undergraduate admissions applications for a large state-run university (I'm self-conscious of the publicness of my blog at the moment, and trying to be careful here). A large portion of the interview was devoted to my feelings on diversity. It's a good thing, as far as this job goes, that I could honestly say that I enjoy being surrounded by people from diverse backgrounds, and that, in fact, I feel more at home in Seattle than I did in Orem because of the diversity here. I was glad, too, that the interviewers seemed to agree with my feeling that diversity means a lot more than racial diversity--the fact that students at the anonymous university in question come from diverse parts of the country, having had diverse life experiences, and representing diverse religions (an interviewer's comment, not mine, and I'm pretty sure she was not just referring to the Church of Satan) makes the student body diverse.

I enjoy diversity and I believe that a person's unique perspective on life, which may very well be related to that person's cultural background, should be one of the factors considered in working to create a student body that promotes a well-rounded learning experience for all involved. Despite my wildheaded liberalness, though, I have my reservations. Of the two practice applications they had me evaluate, the first was a girl who had a 3.9 GPA, good test scores, and lots of extracurricular involvement, including active membership in the NAACP. She also wrote a great essay. If I were making admissions decisions (and, to be clear, even if I get this job I will not be making decisions, just recommendations), she would be accepted in an instant. The second, though, was a guy who had a 2.7 GPA, okay test scores, and an awkward essay about moving to the U.S. from Hong Kong. For fear I would be considered a Euro-centric bigot if I said I didn't think this guy should be admitted, I said it would be a tough decision. I pointed out that he did take a lot of honors and AP classes, even though he didn't do too well in them, which shows that he is a hard worker, unafraid of a challenge. Honestly, though, I had a lot of friends in high school with traditional Chinese parents, and I suspect it's more likely that he took honors and AP classes because his parents forced him to. They might have even chosen his entire class schedule for him. And, you know, for every Chinese immigrant applicant who took hard classes in high school and didn't do well, there are a dozen Chinese immigrant applicants who took hard classes in high school and got a 4.0. And can write a decent essay even though English is their second language.

But then, maybe I'm misjudging my interviewers. Maybe my honest answer is the one they were looking for.

De-Lovely

FoxyJ and I got a package from Amazon.com this morning. Inside was the soundtrack to De-Lovely, which we watched a couple weeks ago and fell in love with (well, the music at least--the movie is quite pretty darn good, but I don't know that we fell in love with it per se). De-Lovely is, we're pretty sure, the second movie we've seen recently in which we didn't know ahead of time that it was going to be about a gay man married to a straight woman. The problem is we can't remember what the other one was. It wasn't Far From Heaven, which we watched a couple months ago knowing it was about a married gay man (more about his wife, actually--the husband is quite the jerk, though the movie itself is extraordinarily well done), nor was it Another Country, which we also saw a couple months ago and is about gay men who aren't married (and is an okay movie). And no, it wasn't Brokeback Mountain. The publicity kind of sort of hinted that there might be a gay twist in that one. I don't think it was Saved (another very cool movie), which did manage to surprise us with its mixed-orientation relationship plot element (even though Tolkien Boy had told me about it previously, I didn't realize this was the movie he'd been talking about until halfway into it), because we watched Saved over a year ago now and the sense of deja vu we had when Kevin Kline told his bride-to-be that he likes boys more than girls seemed more recent than I'd associate with a movie we'd watched a year ago.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I'm a Survivor

(Like Destiny's Child, not like the stupid reality show I've never seen.)

This weekend marked a milestone: the first two papers I had to write in a year and a half. The first was due Sunday at midnight and I turned it in about 2:30pm, and the other was due today at 5:00pm and I finished it last night. I was not so much worried about writing the papers--I've written enough papers in my life to ensure that I will never forget how to--as I was about finding the time to do so, in addition to the two jobs, the two regular classes, and the distance class. Oh yeah, and the two children and the wife, too. Somehow, we are managing to do everything and still get a decent amount of sleep, and managing to ward off mental illness, thanks to a good neighbor giving Foxy J a reason to go to bed early and an excuse to escape from the little bloodsucking vampire children (and I use the term affectionately) a few hours a week. Sometimes mere survival is a miracle.

Monday, October 23, 2006

300th POST EXTRAVAGANZA!!!

The Information Life Cycle of The Fobcave and the Long Tail of Gay Mormon Bloggers

(A paper written for LIS 500 at the University of Washington)

On July 26, 2005, I wrote the following words: “Yes, if everyone I knew were jumping off a cliff, I would follow. So now that I've been reading my friends' and my wife's blogs for a few weeks, I'm jumping on the badnwagon.” In the past fifteen months my blog, The Fobcave, has not gotten much more eloquent than that initial awkward entry, but I have at least learned to spell “bandwagon.” If the task at hand were to discuss the content of a work, I would choose something more worthwhile than my blog, but as it happens the various information phenomena surrounding The Fobcave are fascinating—or at least I think so, and I suspect you might agree.

As indicated above, I joined the blogging revolution largely due to peer pressure: everyone was doing it, and surely just once wouldn’t hurt. Like smoking, though, blogging proved addictive, and has since blown up into a larger part of my life than I anticipated. A weblog, as you may know, is created rather simply; in my case, I set up a free account with Blogger, adjusted a few preferences and settings, then wrote an entry. Blogger provides the web space, the URL, RSS feeds, and even templates. I need simply type in a textbox, click “Publish,” and voila! I am now a published author, my work disseminated to millions of potential readers via the magic of the internet.

The keyword being “potential.” At first, my only readers were a small group of family and friends who already had blogs. Slowly, more family members, friends, and friends of friends got caught up in the world of blogging and my readership grew. Two months into the life of my blog, though, my readers still consisted mostly of people I knew personally or who were connected to me through at most two degrees of separation. The internet makes widespread distribution of information possible in a technical sense, but the fact that people in Romania can read my blog doesn’t mean they are going to. First they need to know of its existence, and then they need to have a reason to read it. Both are fairly large obstacles, made larger perhaps by the very fact that widespread electronic distribution is so easy to come by these days. In a world with a million blogs, what makes any one stand out?

The readership of The Fobcave began to grow beyond the realm of friends and friends of friends with the advent of my first print publication, a pair of personal essays in an academic journal called Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. This print publication did two things, I believe: first, it lent me credibility as a “legitimate” author, because I had now been published “for real”; and second, it established that I could fulfill a unique information need.

The first factor raises an important question about authorship in the Information Age. If we transition from a book publisher, copy-based economic model to the web publisher, digital-based economic model that Kevin Kelly suggests in “Scan This Book!” then who will determine credibility and legitimacy? For several centuries, we have relied on publishers to decide what is worthy of publication, on editors to give their stamp of approval, on bookbinders to make it all official. Now that some random kid who calls himself Master Fob can publish his work just as easily as David Sedaris can, what external signals distinguish the two? Surely there is an obvious difference in quality between a good writer and a poor one, but the average reader’s perception of that difference is influenced heavily by the official appearance of a bound book in a professional-looking cover, as opposed to a bunch of words thrown onto an amateur website. In the current transitional stage between print and digital media, print publication carries a weight of authority. (Granted, Random House carries more weight than an esoteric journal with as limited a scope as Dialogue has, but I still think it made some difference.) It will be interesting to see if authority-granting entities will rise to replace publishing houses, or if the rise of digital media will lead to the elimination of mainstream media, leaving only “Long Tail” niche markets.

The second effect the Dialogue essays had on my blog, in fact, is directly related to the phenomenon Chris Anderson refers to in “The Long Tail.” On September 14, 2005, in a post entitled “Out,” I announced that the latest issue of Dialogue had come out, and that it included my essays “Getting Out” and “Staying In,” in which I effectively came out as a gay man committed to a monogamous heterosexual marriage. I linked to the essays when Dialogue put them up online, was quick to point out when BYU’s library added a record for the essays to their catalog, and used the occasion to blog about my position as a gay married Mormon, part of a religion that forbids homosexual relationships and a culture that frowns on discussion of sexuality. At the time, a few other bloggers who identified themselves as gay Mormons existed, but we were few and far between. For the most part, we had not yet discovered each other. Now, let me be clear: my publication in Dialogue did not send readers flocking to my blog in the hundreds. I’m not even sure they came flocking in the tens. There wasn’t any direct link from Dialogue’s website to The Fobcave, so for people to find it they had to either be curious enough to do a bit of searching on the titles of the essays (my real name, as it happens, doesn’t appear on my blog even though my identity is no secret), or they had to hear about the blog through someone else, either in person or online. Nevertheless, I saw a subtle difference; slowly, people were coming to read The Fobcave not because they felt obligated as my friends and family, but because they had heard I had something unique to say. As it turns out, there are quite a few gay Mormons out there—heterosexually married, celibate, or in homosexual relationships—but we are separated not only by miles but by the silence of a conservative religious culture. In a perfect example of the Long Tail, The Fobcave found an audience because it offered a view on a unique human experience that a substantial group of people share, and managed to reach all these people with the wide distribution ability of the internet.

During January and February of 2006, a handful of gay Mormon bloggers appeared, not because of me but because of parallel but independent discovery, as blogging became more and more ubiquitous and more people found that an anonymous blog provided the perfect outlet for discussing things they normally would not discuss in public and in some cases not even with their closest loved ones. It did not take long for these bloggers hailing from similar situations to find each other and to link to each other in the sidebars of their blogs. I was slow to realize this was happening, and only discovered the phenomenon when other bloggers commented on my blog or when Site Meter showed that the blogs of people I didn’t know were linking to mine. In effect, each gay Mormon blogger was creating his or her own collection of like-minded blogs. I, of course, had my own collection of links on my sidebar, comprised of my family and friends who blogged, categorized by blood relation, writing group relation, or other, and alphabetized by blogging pseudonym. I added gay Mormon bloggers to my “collection” as I got to know them or as they added me to their collections, but I hesitated to add links to my sidebar based only on the subject matter of the blogs, as I have an ongoing internal debate as to whether I intend The Fobcave to be a literary work, a subject-specific source of information, or a My Space-like social tool. Only in the last couple months have I created a “gay Mormon” subcategory of links on my sidebar, and still my collection is not nearly as comprehensive as many of my colleagues’ are.

In the world of the internet, perhaps the authority-creating power of the publishing house has been supplanted by the power of the hyperlink—at least Google’s page ranking system seems to be built around this philosophy. The well-placed hyperlink has certainly taken on the publisher’s role as marketer, as I found in August 2006 when The Salt Lake Tribune ran an article on married gay Mormon bloggers, highlighting The Fobcave alongside two other blogs. Within a day of the Tribune article hitting the online edition of the paper, the number of hits on my blog jumped from about 50 a day to 300 a day, with a good half of that number tracing back to the hyperlink in the article and several others to hyperlinks on blogs and discussion forums talking about the Tribune article (I assume the remainder of the extra hits were typed in manually from the print version of the paper). One of Utah’s two best-selling newspapers reached the Long Tail in a way that word-of-mouth and a scholarly journal did not. The 300-hits-a-day phenomenon, of course, did not last. Within a couple weeks it dropped back down to about 100 a day, but has stayed close to that number since then. It appears, actually, that the majority of information seekers looking specifically for information about being gay, married, and Mormon have congregated around one of the other bloggers hyperlinked in the Tribune article, as his blog focuses exclusively on religion and sexuality while mine tends to be about various random aspects of my life of which religion and sexuality are only two. I am not surprised to find that this friend’s blog appears on the fourth page of Google search results for the terms gay mormon married, while mine does not appear in the first twenty (though the pdf of “Getting Out” shows up on page ten and the Tribune article is the first result). It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, crossing over to another medium has on Fobcave traffic when my wife and I are interviewed on a Salt Lake TV news program next week.

The Fobcave continues to go through the cycle of creation and dissemination as I write and publish posts; gathering as these posts are collected in RSS readers, bookmarks, and hyperlinks; organization as links to the blog are categorized elsewhere and posts are separated by month, day, and time of posting; and seeking and retrieval as new readers find the blog through links or through search engines such as Google Blog Search. It is only natural that this cycle contributes to the creation of new information. Of about 40 gay Mormon bloggers linked from -L- The Ardent Mormon’s blog, more than a quarter started their blogs in the two months since August 2006, when the Salt Lake Tribune article on gay Mormon bloggers ran. As more people with common information needs discover each other through the Long Tail of the internet, more people with niche information to offer will step up to fill that need.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Master at the End of this Post

Wait.

What did that say?

Is there a master at the end of this post?

Oh, dear me, I'm scared of masters.

Well, I suppose there's only one thing to do.

Stop reading.

Hey, I'm serious.

Stop.

Do you not understand?

If you keep reading, you will get to the end of this post, and there is a master at the end of this post.

All you have to do to not see the scary master is stop reading.

Ah!

Why do you do this to me?

Please, I really don't want to see the master at the end of this post.

Pretty please?

With sugar on top?

With chocolate body frosting on top?

Okay, you don't respond to reason or pleading, so I'm going to have to try something else.

I'm going to build a wall to stop you from reading any further.





-----------------------------------------------------------------











AH!





^
/ \ - _ | \ /\ \ - \ - _ > \ _ _
_/ \\ - __ . > < / / / | \\ _ _




How did you do that?!

Okay, this is getting serious.

If you don't stop now, then we are going to get to the master at the end of this post in no time.

And then you will regret it.

Or at least I will.

Perhaps a stronger wall will stop you.

Scroll past this, sucker.

Ha!




==============================================





OH

MY

GOODNESS

!!!!!!!!



^................................................... ^
^^ .............................................^^
^^^ ..........................................^^^
^^^^ ...................................^^^^
^^^^^^ ..........................^^^^^^



Do you know that you are very strong?

(And stubborn, for that matter.)

All right, this is my last warning:

We

are

getting

to

the

end

of

this

post.

And you know what that means.

It's not too late to stop.

Really.

Oh, great.

Here

it

comes.



*cringe*















Ha!

I bet you thought it was going to be me, didn't you?

Shows what you know. I knew it was going to be He-Man.

Really.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Big Surprise

I hesitate to cut and paste things like this on my blog mainly because they look ugly, but...

You are a

Social Liberal
(78% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(18% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Socialist










Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test


On the version that has pictures of famous people on the grid, I'm on Hillary Clinton's left cheek.

Monday, October 16, 2006

[Unofficial] Transcript of a Phone Call at Work

Master Fob: New New Job, this is Master Fob, how may I help you?

Old Lady: Firstname Lastname, that's L as in Long, A as in Artichoke, S as in Susan, T as in Toronto, N as in Nancy, A as in Aardvark, M as in Martin, E as in Earring.

MF: And what can I do for you?

OL: Connect me to that person, please.

MF: I'm sorry, does that person work for New New Job? Perhaps in the warehouse?

OL: What? No. Just connect me to her.

MF: Ma'am, do you know that you've called a retail store?

OL: What retail store?

MF: New New Job retail store, in Seattle.

OL: Well, I want you to turn off this connection and connect me to Firstname Lastname.

MF: I'm sorry, I don't know that person.

OL: Don't you have a directory of all the people with telephones numbers in Seattle?

MF: No, I'm sorry, I don't. Perhaps you should call information?

OL: Oh, okay, thank you.

Sick

Between two jobs without paid sick leave and two classes that only meet sixteen times during the quarter, I can't afford to be. I wish I could curl up under the covers and read all day, drifting in and out of consciousness until I feel better. Sigh.

A Cheesy Moment With the Fobs

S-Boogie to Cousin Baninga, the other day right after I left:

"That's my daddy. He's the biggest in the whole wide world. He know hows to hold me."

*Master Fob's heart melts into sticky goo*

(Watch your step.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Good Point

This evening my supervisor at the library was asking the standard questions about what I plan on doing after graduating, whether I want to go public or academic, and I gave my standard answers about how I love working in an academic library because the reference work is challenging, but politically and socially I am very much in love with the idea of the public library, to which my wise supervisor replied:

"Well, yes, but you can love the idea of the public library and still work in an academic library. You don't have to work in a public library to support the concept, you know."

Hm.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

First

I performed my first professional gift wrapping today. I didn't tell the customer she was my first, but it wouldn't surprise me if she guessed.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Crashing into the Library

It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.

--Crash

This morning Tolkien Boy, S-Boogie, and I caught the bus to the Seattle Central Library. We only made it there because TB's sharp eye noticed that the bus we needed to transfer to stops ON THE FREEWAY. I've never heard of such a thing, nor could I hear anything at all while we waited at the stop on the side of the freeway.

The downtown library is rather overwhelming. For a building whose architect was thinking so far outside the box, the inside feels very boxy. TB put it best when he observed that the library feels more like an airport than a library. It's very big and metallic and cavernous. That said, I really like how the sixth through tenth floors, which house the nonfiction collections, are built on an alternating slope that allows you to walk in a circle from 000 to 999--five floors--without walking up a single step. I'm also wowed by their automated book return and sorting system, which uses machines not only to check books in but also to file and sort them on carts.

After an uneventful busride home and a Veggietales episode about robots taking the place of humans (well, actually vegetables), S-Boogie went to her room to feign napping while TB and I watched Crash, which he had checked out from the library. I had wanted to see the movie since it won three Oscars, but I was also hesitant because I had heard that it basically showcases the worst of humanity, and who needs a movie to tell you that people suck? As the movie began, my suspicion seemed to be confirmed--thirty minutes into it, there didn't seem to be a single likeable character. Then, once a truly good character was established, TB and I agreed that he would be dead by the end of the movie--either him or his five-year-old daughter, anyway. I dreaded watching that scene, and then when it came it really was painful, but then the movie throws in a twist and suddenly the overall tone becomes a lot more hopeful. By the end of the film, just about every character comes across sympathetically, even the sickeningly racist cop who at one point felt up another man's wife in front of him, just because he could. Ultimately, the moral of the movie--or rather the moral I'm imposing on it because this is the conclusion I came to while watching it--is that even people who do horrible things are people. And people, really, aren't all that bad.

That, and that I should thank God every single day that I moved to Seattle and not L.A. People shoot each other in L.A.

Between spending the day with Tolkien Boy and S-Boogie, having dinner with the neighbors (who turn out to be rather cool people), and talking to my mom for an hour when we got home, today was a much better day than yesterday. And tomorrow night Foxy J and Little Dude come home. Life is good.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Another of those posts where I can't organize my thoughts enough to focus on a single topic

  • I'm going to avoid offensive posts for a while. I don't really like Confrontational Master Fob. Well, and even more than that, I don't like dreading the next comment from people I'm likely to have offended.
  • Bawb mentioned Pandora on his blog a while back but I hadn't checked it out until a couple days ago when an instructor told us to all go home and take a look. Pandora creates personalized radio stations by finding music that matches qualities of the music you like. I'm intrigued by the database and ranking system it's using. Each song in the database has hundreds of tags describing the instrumentation, vocals, and lyrics, and apparently Pandora figures out which qualities you like as you add music to your list and then tell them you like or don't like songs they play. I find myself wishing there were an advanced mode that allowed me to sort through the list of qualities on a song and tell Pandora which of those qualities I'm looking for in new music. I also find myself wishing there were something this thorough for readers' advisory.
  • A neighbor just called to invite me and S-Boogie to dinner tomorrow night. I'm not sure if I've met him before, but I was talking to his wife yesterday and she knows Foxy J from a BYU ward. I'm oddly touched by this little act of kindness, inviting me over to eat while my wife is gone. By "oddly" I mean more than I think I would usually be. I'm in a funky emotional state tonight.
  • I seem to be more keenly aware of emotional deficiencies--particularly cravings for intimacy with men--when Foxy J is not around. I remember having this same empty feeling the last time S-Boogie was in the hospital with asthma and Foxy stayed the night with her while I came home. Perhaps some feelings are not as gender-attached as I tend to perceive them.
  • I feel very closeted here in Seattle. It's not like everyone in Utah knows I'm gay, or that I even talked about it all that much with the people who did know, but there was a good number of the people I associated with on a regular basis who knew, and I found that comforting. I just don't like people assuming I'm straight. I find it a bit awkward, however, to say, "Hi, I'm Master Fob. I'm from Hawaii and I've been living in Utah for nine years and I got a bachelor's and master's in English from BYU and I'm sort of Mormon and I'm married and I have two kids and I'm gay but really I'm happily married and I'm not cheating on my wife or anything but I don't hate practicing gay people either and really, I'm every bit as politically liberal as I'm assuming you are based merely on the fact that you live in Seattle." Perhaps I just miss being surrounded by people who know me, not just casually but intimately. Perhaps I try to create the illusion that a lot of people know me intimately by writing publicly of intimate things because otherwise I would likely never open up to people at all.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Single Fatherhood

Since I did so well with bachelorhood, Foxy and I thought I should give single parenting a try. She and Little Dude took off for Washington D.C. this morning--she's presenting at a conference on Spanish women's literature this weekend--and S-Boogie and I came home from the airport prepared to revel in our freedom. Now we can do all those things Mommy tells us not to. Woo hoo! Except that most of the things Mommy tells us not to are things like strangling ourselves with the blind cords and changing our own poopy diapers, so... maybe not. Now that I think about it, maybe we'll just sit quietly on our newly slipcovered couch until Saturday and wait for Mommy and LD to come home.

For those of you who read Foxy J's blog

We discovered that Borax does a great job of getting melted and dried pink crayon out of clothes.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

WWJD?

He'd vote Republican, according to James Dobson and his minister friends.

Yes, I know, this isn't news. It annoys me, though, to see people taking something as personal and meaningful as religion and turning it into a political tool. The Religious Right discourages good Christians from voting for a Democrat even when the Democratic candidate might be the one who most closely matches that individual's values, and they discourage good thinking people from voting for a Republican even when the Republican candidate might be the better choice, because who in their right mind wants to be associated with the Religious Right?

I respect the LDS church for refraining from endorsing specific candidates or parties--I've never heard anyone cross that line over the pulpit, and I've had some pretty politically-biased bishops. I'm perplexed by Mormons who align themselves with the Religious Right, ignoring the fact that James Dobson, George W., and their ilk would no sooner sit down to dinner with a Mormon than with a homosexual.

I'm embarrassed to say that the first time I voted was in 2004, and even more embarrassed to admit that I didn't do my research before hitting the polls--in many cases, I didn't know anything about the candidates, so I blindly voted for the Democrat, which makes me no better than the BYU student who was quoted in the New York Times as saying that she only voted for Bush because he seemed like a good, religious person, not because she knew anything about the issues. Foxy and I sent in our voter registration forms earlier this week, and I've vowed to repent of my lazy ways. I don't know if my vote will make a difference, but at least if I read up on all the people and things I'm voting on, I can feel morally superior to those who don't.

Geeky Quote of the Day

"One man's data is another man's metadata."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Depression

At least three independent scientific studies report that between 78.6% and 79.2% of the people I love most suffer from depression. Broader studies have not yet been done to determine whether this is an average proportion of depressed loved ones for any random individual to have, or if there is something about me specifically that attracts depressed people. Or, perhaps, that I am the cause of all this depression.

I wish I understood depression better, but I really don't. I have been blessed with the type of personality that allows me to simply choose to be happy in pretty much any circumstance, so my tendency is to ask, "Well, why are you choosing to be unhappy?" even though cognitively I understand that it is not so simple for many people. I'm afraid this inability to empathize isn't very helpful.

Sorry, my depressed fobs, I'm trying.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Three Months to Go

2006 is three-quarters done and I can't say I'm three-quarters done with my new year's resolutions. Here's my report:

i. Read the Old Testament. Um, yeah, not so much. We fizzled out somewhere in Leviticus, I think. That was several months ago.

ii. Get a six-pack (my own, not someone else's). Not doing so great here, either, but I still have hope. I've been quite a bit more active since we moved, biking and walking a lot, which should help get rid of the excess layer of fat. And yesterday Tolkien Boy and I went to the gym for the first time in four months. In the past I haven't worked my abs at the gym because I figured I could at home, but I've rid myself of that illusion by now, so I intend to include ab exercises in my regular gym routine. Today my tummy hurts. In a good way.

iii. Read at least one book per month. This is the one goal I've blown out of the water, as you can see by looking down my sidebar. I'm not sure how much time I'll have for leisure reading now that I'm back in school, but I'm glad to know I took advantage of the school-free time I had.

iv. Read more poetry. Hm. No comment. Okay, one comment: I borrowed two poetry books from editorgirl, started to read one, then left both of them to collect dust on my shelves for about six months until eg asked to have them back.

v. Do something fun and surprising for Foxy on a regular basis. I intentionally didn't make this goal very specific because I didn't want to make it something I check off of a list of things to do, but that also makes it hard to track progress on. I know I've made some effort, but not as much as I'd like to. This is another one for me to work on salvaging over the next three months. I'll let you know how it goes.

How are you doing on your resolutions and goals?

And speaking of socialism...

The other day I was working at the information desk with a reference librarian. She asked where I did my undergrad, and when I said BYU she asked if I'd ("what's it called? I can't remember the right terminology") served a mission, explaining that she was from Idaho Falls so she had a friend who was Mormon. Later on, she asked about my career goals, and I said that I was interested in the idea of working in an academic library, but my socialistic tendencies pushed me in the direction of the public library. She laughed and said that she'd never heard someone "who's done a mission" talk about his socialistic tendencies. Her Mormon friend, apparently, was rather conservative. (Imagine that.)

We all do missionary work in our own way.

And speaking of librarianship...

On Friday I worked at the reference desk at my old new job for the first time. For three hours I answered fascinating, challenging questions about Norwegian scholarly journals and Freudian psychoanalytical studies and academic research methods and I LOVED it. For hours aftwerward I floated on a high from the geeky dope of reference librarianship. I'm really torn now between the scholarly, stretch-my-mind appeal of academic libraries and the socialistic, free-information-for-all appeal of public libraries.