Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Three trips to the DMV and three smog inspection stations later...

I'll spare you the story and skip to the moral: If you're thinking of buying a car and plan on moving to California in the next few months, just wait until you get to California to buy the car.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Grammar Police to Prince: Come Out With Your Doves Up

When it is the object of "Dig, if you will, the picture / of," it is not "you and I engaged in a kiss"; it is "you and me engaged in a kiss." If your high school English teacher taught that it is always "you and I," then you've been misinformed. Please forgive me for correcting you when I sing along.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Black Thumb of Death

I bought FoxyJ an orchid for Valentine's Day, if I recall correctly. I kept it alive and thriving until we moved in July. I managed to keep it alive through a month of moving from my sister's place to my mom's to my in-laws' to our new place. A month after moving in here, it died.

When we moved in here we bought two majestic palm plants at Ikea. Within a week or two the leaves were turning brown on one of them. I fought and fought but in the last week or so I've accepted that it's time to give up the fight. The plant is dead.

If this were a matter of me being airheaded and just forgetting to water or otherwise neglecting my plants, that would be one thing. I'm an obsessive person, though, and I've obsessed over these plants. I looked up proper care for each of the plants, I bought orchid food, I tried to find the perfect spot in the house where they'd get the right amount of sunlight. All to no avail.

The powerlessness of it all is kind of depressing.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Today's Life Lesson

This afternoon I was in the kitchen with FoxyJ when a neighbor walked by our dining room window. He was an older man with a little pot belly, and he was wearing a wifebeater. After he passed I turned to Foxy and said, "You know, I can see how a wifebeater on a man who has a nice body could be attractive, in a white trash sort of way, but on an old dude with a poochy tummy sticking out--"

And then I stopped because I looked out the window and there he was, passing by on his way back wherever he'd come from. And the window was open.

Had he heard me talking about him? How embarrassing. What if he thought I was a horrible person? Worse, what if he thought he was a horrible person for having a poochy tummy and wearing a wifebeater? What if he went home and he was so distraught that he actually beat his wife? Who was I to cause such turmoil in this man I'd never met?

And in that moment a heavenly light shone down on me (Foxy had turned on the kitchen light) and I learned an Important Truth: Before you go mocking some stranger who you've no right to judge, be absolutely sure he can't hear you.

Speaking of the Beatles...

The other day my father-in-law sent a link to an article about religious leaders in California joining forces to end gay marriage once and for all. In the past, Cool Guy has expressed his concern over the LDS church allying itself with evangelical and southern Baptist groups who would just as soon see Mormons burning in hell as homosexuals. He closed his email the other day on a somewhat ironic note: "There is much power in declaring a common enemy."

Thing is, I thought Mormons and Evangelicals and Baptists already had a common enemy. I guess he wasn't enough of a threat to bring them together, though. Turns out the Beatles may be bigger than Jesus, but only the gays are bigger than Satan.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In Which I Blaspheme Someone Who Is Reportedly Bigger Than Jesus
(and quote a swear word while I'm at it)

I am about to say something that is potentially more outrageous and offensive than anything I have ever said on this blog. Ready? Okay.

I think that some Beatles songs are done better by people other than the Beatles.

Yes, I recognize the absurdity of someone who hardly even knows what a chord is daring to criticize the greatest band in the history of humankind, but bear with me for a minute--assuming you haven't already left.

I actually feel this way about a few of their songs that have been covered by other artists, but the one I'm thinking of at the moment is their first single, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." In the YA novel Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which I'm reading in preparation for the movie, one of the characters explains why this is such a great song (and uses a bit of profanity, which I preserve because you didn't really think that G rating would last long, did you?):

Perhaps the most fucking brilliant song ever written. Because they nailed it. That's what everyone wants. Not 24-7 hot wet sex. Not a marriage that lasts a hundred years. Not a Porsche or a blow job or a million-dollar crib. No. They wanna hold your hand. They have such a feeling that they can't hide. Every single successful love song of the past fifty years can be traced back to "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." And every single successful love story has those unbearable and unbearably exciting moments of hand-holding. Trust me. I've thought a lot about this.

He's right, it's brilliant, but the thing is, I don't think the song as the Beatles perform it conveys that message as powerfully as it could. It's a beautiful idea, this simple yearning for a simple touch, and it's all there in the lyrics and the melody, but then they've got all this other stuff going on--drums and harsh rock-n-roll guitar stuff--that makes it sound more like a party song. Granted, it worked for them, else we wouldn't even know who the Beatles are, but I don't think it serves the song itself as well as, for instance, T.V. Carpio's version from the movie Across the Universe.

In the film, Carpio is a teenaged girl watching her secret crush from a distance, dying to have that one touch, that magic that passes between two people when they hold hands. To emphasize her beautiful vocals, the instrumentation is limited to an acoustic guitar and, I believe (but may be revealing my music ignorance here), a subdued bassline. The bass strums out the beating of her heart as her voice trembles with raw desire. It makes me feel all tingly inside.

You don't have to take my blasphemous word for it, though. I've included both versions below so you can listen to them simultaneously and judge for yourself.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Attention Parents!

Please encourage your small children to read my blog. You've nothing to worry about--I'm officially family-friendly, as you can see below.

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Site

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And on a lighter note...

Lycra shorts!

Love the Sin, Hate the Sinner

(Or is it the other way around? I can never remember.)

In any discussion about homosexuality and the LDS church between believers and nonbelievers, the following exchange has a 95% chance of occurring in some form or another:

Nonbeliever: I'm tired of your church hating on the gays.

Believer: No, you misunderstand. We love the gays, we just disapprove of their sinful actions/lifestyle.

Having been on both sides of this argument, I recognize and respect the distinction between actions and people. I question the appropriateness of an individual or organization judging the actions of other people that affect no one but the "sinners" themselves, particularly when the act in question is every bit as personal and meaningful to the people involved as the same act is between any husband and wife, but still I recognize the distinction. In all my criticism of the church I am meticulously careful to maintain this distinction. I have said that I find the church's political stance regarding Proposition 8 anti-family and more recently that I find the decision made by some church members to vote against their conscience in order to be obedient unethical, at best selfish and at worst cowardly. I have not once said that the church is anti-family or that the people who make that unethical decision are selfish or cowardly. I make selfish and cowardly decisions all the time but to say that I am a selfish or cowardly person wouldn't really mean anything, because every human being is selfish and cowardly by that standard.

It's extremely frustrating, then, that several times in the past few months I have been accused by friends and family members of being hateful toward the church and its members. I do not hate Mormons, else I would hate the majority of the people who are most important to me, and I do not hate their church. I have noted on several occasions the good that the church does. This doesn't change the fact that the things they do to harm other people make me furious, and I reserve the right to express that anger. If it is hateful of me to express indignation when I see people hurting other people, then it was hateful of Christ to throw the moneychangers out of the temple. Hate and anger are not synonymous.

I understand that those of you who are faithful Mormons hold very high opinions of your leaders, your church, and your God. I assure you I hold very high opinions of some of the other people I've criticized. Accusing me of hate every time I express anger at the unjust actions of these people serves only to send the message that you wish to invalidate my opinion. Which doesn't make me feel particularly loved, sinner that I may be.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Homosexual Scapegoat

Had the Mormon church asked its adherents to vote for a proposition that would take away their own legal marriage rights, I might find their willing obedience to such a decree, regardless of their own consciences, admirable. There is nothing admirable, though, about sacrificing the legal rights of strangers for your religious beliefs. To do so is at best selfish, aiming for your own celestial reward at the expense of others, or at worst cowardly, placing others on the sacrificial altar in order to escape the eternal punishment you fear would come for disobeying God's servant.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Because the Fobcave is a Fair and Balanced Blog

(By which I mean "fair and balanced," not "adamantly right wing," as Fox News uses the phrase.)

This week I came across an interesting article responding to Barack Obama's claims that a John McCain presidency would not bring "a dime's worth of difference" from the current administration. Now, regular readers no doubt have picked up on the fact that I'm a passionate Obama boy. I like his stances on the war, on the environment, on gay rights (well, more so than any other presidential candidate ever), on the economy (to the extent that I understand economics), on just about everything, but even more so I feel like he's a sincere person and when he says he's dedicated to make real and lasting change, I believe him. The one thing that bothers me about his campaign, though, is his insistence that John McCain is a clone of George W. Bush. I'm not crazy about McCain, and one of the things that bothers me most is that he seems intent on continuing Bush's pointless war in Iraq, but honestly, he's not Bush.

Which is why I was a little confused as to why he chose a person who is Bush--except maybe even more evil and more laughably ignorant on things that people who want to be leader of the free world should know--to be his running mate. It occurred to me that perhaps just-right-of-center McCain felt he needed someone who would pander to the religious right, but seriously, was there ever any concern that extreme rightists would vote for Obama? What it comes down to, of course, is the obvious answer: McCain chose Palin because she's a woman. As if that's somehow empowering to women.

Oh, right, I was trying to be fair and balanced. Damn, I'm no better at it than Fox.

But she still scares me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


So I didn't much care about the fact that gas prices have doubled in the past two years until now. I mean, really, I'm just a nobody and who cares if it costs me a small fortune just to drive to the grocery store a few times a month? But I just discovered that Diddy has had to start flying on commercial flights instead of on his own private jet. Stop the presses! Someone fix this tragedy now! We can't have our celebrities sitting on the same plane as normal folks--even if they are in first class.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Corn Flakes

If God didn't intend for them to be eaten with sugar, he wouldn't have invented Frosted Flakes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Question for Parents of Multiple Children Who Share a Bedroom

How do you teach them to stop playing/fighting and go to sleep? Our kids were fine when Little Dude was in a crib--sometimes they'd make noise for up to an hour after bedtime, but they'd always fall asleep eventually. This summer he started climbing out of the crib, though, so we switched him to a toddler bed to prevent injury. Since then it's impossible to get them to go to sleep unless we put one down and then wait until he or she is asleep before putting the other down. Otherwise LD just gets out of his bed and into S-Boogie's--no matter how many times we go in there to put him back where he belongs--and they scream at each other for hours on end. Seriously, I know there are other children, even toddlers, who share bedrooms with their siblings. What is the deal with ours?

In case you're wondering what I do in my spare time

My brother gave S-Boogie a huge set of something like 250 crayons for her birthday. It's wonderful, but unfortunately the colors were just thrown in there haphazardly with no sense of order or aesthetics. It took me the better part of an hour, but I solved the problem.

I feel much better now.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Date with a Bike

At FoxyJ's suggestion, we've begun what we hope will become a monthly tradition of having one-on-one dates with our kids. This afternoon while she and S-Boogie went to an open gymnastics afternoon at the rec center, I loaded Little Dude in the bike trailer and took him on a bike ride across town. We did about half of the Davis Bike Loop, which would make the trip 6 miles each way. I was feeling pretty groovy as I explored the intricate network of bike trails going through campus, past an arboretum, under the freeway, around too many parks to count, and in and out of suburbs. Davis is an amazing place to bike.

Lest you think I perfectly fit the granola-fortified stereotype I try so hard to emulate, I must admit that the end destination of this trip was no farmer's market or liberal political rally or hemp t-shirt store. The honest truth is that I took my son to the other side of town so that we could buy cheap ice cream cones and play at the McDonald's Playplace.

But I'm still cool. Really, I am.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Slipslope Mountain

Good morning and welcome to the MTC, elders. Today we're going to watch an inspirational film about the dangers of disobeying rules. While you're watching, think about how breaking little rules puts you on a slippery slope.

See these two young men? Jack and Ennis were hired to watch some sheep. Their boss was very clear about the rules: At night, Jack would stay with the sheep on the mountain while Ennis tended the camp. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

But as you see here, simple rules are sometimes a little too tempting to break. What you're watching now is the moment when our young friends go wrong. Jack's a little tired of sleeping with the sheep every night, so Ennis offers to trade places with him. Seems innocent enough, right? Even noble, you might say, for Ennis to help his friend out like that. But breaking the rules never helps anyone.

In this next scene here you'll see how Jack and Ennis slip a little bit farther. Tonight, Ennis is feeling a little tired, so rather than go back to the sheep after dinner, he lies down next to the fire, promising he'll get up after a short rest and do his job. Elders, there is no excuse for shirking your duty.

Watch the dominoes continue to fall: Now it's the middle of the night and Ennis is shivering in the cold while Jack sleeps in the warm tent. We see again that Jack has what appear to be altruistic motives--he wants his friend to sleep better. So now Jack invites Ennis to sleep in the tent with him.

Now let me just point out that by this point these two young men have not only veered far from the counsel their boss gave them--for Jack to watch the sheep while Ennis watches the camp--but they are also breaking the number one most important rule you'll find in your little white bibles: Never ever sleep in the same bed as your companion.

Watch closely now and see what happens when Jack and Ennis break this rule. I know some of you will find this a little repulsive (and I hope you do), but I want you to keep watching so you understand what happens when you justify rule-breaking.



Now you don't want that to happen, do you? (If you do, go talk to your branch president now.)

As you can see, the scene cuts now to the morning after, and what's happened to the sheep? Yes, one of them has been killed, presumably by a coyote. That, elders, is the wages of sin. I'm going to stop the movie now on this image of Ennis holding a dead, bloody sheep, so that you remember this lesson. Don't let yourselves fall onto the slippery slope of rule breaking, or you just might end up like Jack and Ennis.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Did you go to a massive hippiefest in San Francisco today?

I did.

I have now been to three concerts. The first was a free Michael Franti and Spearhead concert in Salt Lake City two years ago, marking not only my first concert but also the first time I exposed my children to secondhand pot smoke (Little Dude was not quite six weeks old at the time). The second was a not-free Erykah Badu concert (opened by the Roots) that I saw in Seattle this past June. Not quite as much pot at this concert, but then this time instead of Foxy and the kids I went with a friend so it wouldn't have mattered as much. Today was another free Michael Franti and Spearhead concert and this time we brought the kids again. This concert, the annual Power to the Peaceful Festival at Golden Gate Park, was quite a bit bigger than the last two--Foxy heard them say there were about 50,000 people there and I'd believe it--and involved quite a bit more pot.

This was everything you'd imagine a huge hippiefest in San Francisco to be: dreadlocked people wandering around in very little clothing, people wearing bellbottoms and peace signs, men wearing tux vests with tutus, people doing yoga stunts, people on stilts twirling hula hoops, people selling magic brownies and rice krispie treats, overweight lesbian couples painting little watercolor scenes... It was like being in Forrest Gump--or, you know, any other movie set during the sixties. There was a little flea market of shops selling products made mostly of hemp, vegan food stands, flyers going around demanding more thorough investigations of 9/11 and encouraging teachers to work a segment on cocoa fair trade into their curricula.

In all it was a six hour event and we planned to get there about two hours into it in order to make it to the scheduled kid-friendly activities, but between traffic and our underestimation of Golden Gate Park's size, we arrived two hours later than planned, which ended up being fine. We missed all the performers that I'd never heard of, slowly made our way through the insane crowd (with a stroller!) while Ziggy Marley performed, and found a spot to put down our blanket on the grass just as Michael Franti came onstage.

(With zoom.)

(Without zoom.)

Though we were ridiculously far from the stage, I enjoyed his performance. He did a bunch of favorites from past albums, as well as several from a new album that's going to be released this coming week--and which I bought today and listened to on the way home. I also bought a t-shirt because I wanted something to commemorate my first true hippie experience. I was hoping for something that said "I went to the Power to the Peaceful Festival in 2008 and I love Michael Franti and I think war is stupid and gay marriage is great but honestly I don't like the smell of marijuana," but as it turns out that shirt was about three sizes too big because of all the words. So I settled for this one:

The back has the number 10 on it so that when you're watching the Spearhead vs. Coldplay game and I'm running around on the field you know which one I am.

In summary, I had fun today. I liked being among such a huge group of freaky people, I liked freaking my wife to a sexy love song while everyone around did the same, I liked dancing to rebel rock while my children sat on my shoulders and swayed their arms. I will, however, never ever again attempt to push a stroller (or help someone else trying to push a stroller) through a crowd of 50,000 intoxicated people.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Odds and Ends

We're moved in, we've pretty much got the kids back to a regular sleeping routine, we've finished watching Heroes Season Two on DVD (including all the extras), and I'm mostly recovered from the delirium-inducing flu I had the beginning of this week, so I just might post here more often now. Probably not, though. I'm not particularly inspired to blog lately, which is probably the subject of another post. But I did want to mention a couple things:

1. A couple people have asked what exactly my job is all about. So here it is, in a nutshell. I work for a company that shall be known henceforth as The Company (remember, I just watched eleven episodes of Heroes in four nights). The Company has a contract with a search engine provider that shall be known henceforth as Mr. Searcho (I am contractually obligated to keep Mr. Searcho's true identity a secret; I am not contractually obligated to keep The Company's true identity a secret, but I don't feel like having web searches for my employer's name leading to my blog).

So anyway, my job title is either Annotator or Judge, depending on who you ask. What that means is that every day Mr. Searcho feeds me a bunch of queries that have been entered into his search engine (i.e. "pariss hilton" or "utube" or "free movie download" or "who is samantha stevens bestest friend ever"), along with a bunch of web pages that their search engine has provided as possible results for those queries, and I look at each web page and decide, in 30 seconds or less, whether that page is an exact match, a strong match, a weak match, or a super crappy match for what I think the person who typed that query into the search engine was looking for. The ultimate goal here, I believe, is to "teach" the search engine to improve its accuracy. Or something like that. A side effect, though, is that I see a lot of stuff--random trivia, four-year-old news articles about people in Alaska, blogs, website subpages that were never meant to be seen, movie and product reviews, message board arguments, and parts of women (and some men) I'd really rather not ever see (and some parts I don't mind seeing). After seeing 500-600 web pages a day for nearly four months now, I've concluded that at least 50% of the internet is spam.

2. The halfbike. I cleaned it up and put it back together last Friday. An important connecting bolt/clamp thing was broken, but I managed to improvise with a quick trip to Ace Hardware. And here's a picture of S-Boogie's new school transportation:

I love love love it. She gets to ride a bike to school, but we can go at my speed instead of hers and thus get there in seven minutes instead of twenty. And we produce no smog with our daily commute--only smug.