Sep 30, 2010

So Long, September

You were a very nice September, but truth be told I have had better. I'm sorry, but you said you wanted me to be honest with you. You knew what this was. For the first time in my life I've taken photos that I think are halfway decent (though tools in Photoshop and Adobe Bridge help considerably), I've expanded my mind and solidified my Ethical beliefs, I finished reading "Snow Crash" like I said I would (yesterday), I don't think I'll ever be successful as an Illustrator but that doesn't diminish my love for drawing in any way, and I still don't like the class Personal Finance, but I like the teacher so that's at least something.

We went to the zoo, had a lot of friends and family over, not as much as I'd like, but more than usual. I submitted some writing to the school literary (cough) magazines and have started keeping track of 3 stocks, all my expenditures in a little black book, and will hopefully never have to read "The Richest Man In Babylon" again. I gained a new literary crush, it's been 3 years this month that I started this wacky blog, And something like 6 years this month since I first met Tracie. I rekindled correspondence with a dear friend and am still staying on top of all my homework. Housework, that's a different story. That's a goal for October.

Speaking of the tenth month of the tenth year of this millennium, let's get to October goals. First, I apologize to anyone if this is tedious or annoying, as I realize it's very journalistic, but it's good for me to look back on the past month and look forward on the next. So, here goes.

I've been reading scriptures every day for the past 2 weeks or so, so the goal would be to continue.
I've been slacking a bit again on my church attendance, so the goal is to stop slacking and go every week again.
I've finally finished Snow Crash, the next goal is to read another book. (In the time it takes Tracie to read seven).
I've started meditating again and am already feeling more peace and center in life. Goal=Keep it up.
My exercise routine has suffered but I blame Morgan. My goal for October is to stop blaming Morgan and start blaming Austin, then start working out again in 2011. (the most realistic goal on this list. It will be the most realistic goal ever if I include that I stop exercising shortly after January 2.)
Big goal I want to focus on in October is keeping the house clean. Tracie and Morgan can only do so much, and Morgan is working double time in his contribution of messing the house up. He's a prodigy. My goal is to keep the house clean and unembarrassing to visitors and unpainful when walking around. Wish me luck on that one.
Keep up on homework, finish the 2 assignments I have for 3D Design and step up on my sketchbook for my Illustration class. I need to be at 100 pages of drawings by the end of October, and I'm at page 42 or so now. Not terribly behind, but still behind.

I know these are pretty much the same goals I always have, but they're all important to me, and if I don't write them down, I won't ever get them done. I appreciate your listening, hope you had a great September and if not are glad that it's over! Bring on the October! (btw, anyone else find it strange that "oct-" is a prefix for "eight" but it's the "tenth" month of the "year?"

Riddle Me This

I have some questions for you. That's right, you!

It's the last day of the month, and I'm feeling introspective again. I think I'm going to post a goodbye September post (aren't you lucky?) like I did last month. Would you like it if I did a goodbye month post every month? Your opinion does matter to me, though in all honesty I won't likely listen to it and do what I want anyways. Still, let me know, whether you like the idea, dislike the idea, don't really care what I post as long as I post, or do really care what I post and are disappointed with the declining quality of my blog since late 2007.

Next month is October (no, really it is, I looked it up) which means at the end of the month, we'll get together with family and friends and dress up and eat and all will all around have a good time. But we're not sure what we should dress as for Halloween this year. Last year Tracie and I were Princess Leia and Han Solo while Morgan was an Ewok, the year before we were the Dread Pirate Westley and Princess Buttercup, we've also been an angel and a devil, a pair of vampires, a Greek God and Goddess, a butterfly and a butterfly catcher, and basically all our Halloween's have been as a couple, or since we had Morgan, have had a theme. My idea is Morgan be Superman, Tracie be Lois Lane, and I be Lex Luthor. I think it's a cute idea, but flawed in that Lois Lane doesn't really have a costume, and I have such precious little hair I'm not sure I want to shave it all off. I did that in High School and it didn't grow back for almost two years. In fact, it still hasn't grown all the way back. So what suggestions do you have for our Halloween this year that doesn't necessarily involve me saying goodbye forever to my diminishing locks?

I finally finished reading "Snow Crash" and really really very very quite a lot loved it. It took me several months. Not that it was terribly long, but I have been terribly busy. I plan to post about that as well, but in the meantime, I'm torn as to what to read next. I spoke with my brother yesterday who gave some very good suggestions, but this is a question post and I needed another question. Any recommendations for me? Besides Twilight or Hunger Games? Ammon, you already gave me your suggestions and I have "Anthem" on hold, have looked up Malcolm Gladwell and just might give him a try, as well as short stories by G.K. Chesterton and J.L. Borges, J.I. McMillan, thank you as well. I'm open to other suggestions, however.

Finally unless I can think of another question before finishing this one, Who suggested the tv show "Better Off Ted" to me? I thought it was my brother, but it turns out he's never heard of it, then I thought it was a work friend but he's only seen an episode, so who was it? Netflix has been suggesting it for awhile, but, while I love Netflix, it's kind of like a former-hippie parent. It usually provides me with what I need, but most of its advice and suggestions turn out to be stupid and based on someone who does a lot more drugs than me. But "Better Off Ted" is one of the funniest shows I've seen since "Arrested Development," and like "Arrested Development," got canceled way too soon, this one with only 26 episodes. But, if you haven't already, check it out and love it and then you'll know who recommended it to you. Austin. Austin recommended it to you. But if you were the one who recommended it to me, I'm sorry for forgetting, and thank you for suggesting it.

Any other questions you want to ask me or have been dying for me to ask that I haven't? Let me know, I might just do it, then you can tell everyone I listened to you! You'll be the envy of them all!

Sep 27, 2010

By Popular Request

One of the disadvantages of having such a cute baby is everyone wants to see pictures of him. This weekend I was going to post a bunch of pictures of Morgan, but all the ones I wanted to post have been posted to facebook.
So, to get some of you off my back and to attempt to tease you into coming to visit, I posted a handful of pictures from my camera of Morgan eating and at the zoo with his parents. (He wanted to go alone, but we wouldn't let him.)

So check it out and leave comments. The more comments received on the Morgan blog, the more I'll post in the future.

Sep 23, 2010

Wiser than Socrates

Socrates has been called one of the wisest men who ever lived. Why? Was it because he influenced human thought more than perhaps anyone prior? Was it because he died for his convictions, being the first martyr to the cause of independent thought? Was it the beard? Maybe it was the beard, but most scholars agree he was wisest because he only knew one thing: nothing.

That being said, I have to disagree. Except for the beard. That thing is epic. As I've gotten older and have been in school since before I can remember, I find I know even less than nothing, and no one is praising my wisdom or knowledge. True, I never ate hemlock, but I did have some bad enchiladas one time, those almost killed me.

I'm nearly ten years older several people in my drawing class. I love drawing and have been doing it since I could hold a crayon (and slightly before that, so I'm told.) Yet, these people, only eight years older than my leg, make my drawings look like they were done by an enthusiastic six year old. (Granted, my drawings themselves make them look like they were done by an enthusiastic six year old, but it isn't so glaringly obvious when compared to nothing.)

I've had my job for nearly a year, and there are so many things I don't know. Now that I'm one of the most senior scan technicians, (senior=being here the longest) a lot of people are coming to me for answers I don't know. How do I close out of a telnet line? I don't know, I just close the terminal. How do I test for an information disclosure vulnerability with a Domino Server? I don't even know what that is! Ask a manager. True, at least I know more than I did when I started, but most of my knowledge is from memorization, nothing I have really internalized. I know a customer needs to increase their cipher strength, run their TFTP in a chrooted environment, but I don't know how, or even why. (FYI, this is me complaining. You don't need to explain these to me, those of you (Ammon) who are more technically minded than me).

My other classes are just as bad, if not worse. Finance? I'm almost 30 and don't know how to manage money. I know I should invest it, but what does that mean? Where do I invest it? My teacher is going on about protecting your capital, and I'm like I don't have capital! Do I? How can I protect my money when I have so little? How about I stop paying my HOA so much for doing so little? That seems like a smart idea, but everyone tells me that's bad.

Ethics and Values, I feel like a psycho-heretic for having views contrary to happy valley. Not that I'm some Nihilist or (shudder) liberal, but I just think I know a bit more than some, and often have a contrary view. Case in point. We're studying Immanuel Kant and Kantian ethics. (Named after guess who). Long story short, Kant was religious and tried to align religion with logic and principles. Kant said (among other things. Holy moly that Kraut was verbose) doing something selflessly for someone else has no moral worth. In other words, you shouldn't help others to feel good about yourself. Someone asked "How could he be a Christian? Aren't we taught 'men are that they might have joy?'" I raised my hand and explained that first of all, that quote is from the Book of Mormon. True? Absolutely. Available to Kant, who died in 1804, a year before Joseph Smith was even born? Probably not. The classmate then said "Well, the Bible teaches the same thing." I'm sorry, have you read the Bible? Christ's ultimate teaching and rule: love. True. But the Bible doesn't really teach that men are that we might have joy, it teaches exaltation through suffering, growth through tribulation. Kant was expressing that the reason for helping others isn't to feel good, it's because of a duty inherent in all of us. We should do good because it's good, not because we get good feelings because of it. Everyone looked at me like I was from Kolob or something and I actually heard someone gasp when I said I too was Mormon. I wasn't saying Kant was right or wrong, I was just explaining what he was saying.

Austin, according to his Ethics classmates.

Ok, that last paragraph isn't so much about what I don't know (or is it?) than about what other people don't know.

Sometimes you gotta vent. People often tell me I'm a gifted writer. No, it's true, they do. I just submitted a bunch of my writing to the school literary magazine Touchstones and I already think I'm going to get rejected, as I did a few years ago.

I'm just complaining right now, thanks for listening. I just feel not only the older I get the more I realize there is I don't know. I am also realizing the older I get the less I know than people younger than me. And that's sad. Maybe that's what Oscar Wilde meant when he said "the old believe everything, the middle aged suspect everything and the young know everything."

That's right. I just can't end a post without quoting Oscar Wilde. At least I know him better than most people, Richard Ellman excepted.

Sep 22, 2010

Light Painting

I had a lot of fun with this assignment. As you can see. Light painting is just using light as a creative/painting element in a photo with a long exposure.

Sep 20, 2010

I am so excited it's Ramadan...

I'm going to toss a rabbit down the stairs.

I'm one of only 5 people on earth who get that joke, and you're probably not missing much anyway since now that it's not 1 am Saturday night/Sunday morning, it's not nearly as funny. Nor is being tasered in the balls or having your last words be "Snowflake." In fact, there are only 2 things in this world I'm sure of. I love apples more than being noticed by boys and pumpkins at 6:00 are better than a corpse at 3:00. Ok, ball-tasering is still funny.

Why am I talking so weird/weirder than normal, you ask? Because I had a great weekend, and I just felt like sharing.

Thursday shouldn't count as the weekend as I have work and school that day, but on Thursday we got to see Justin & Mandi visiting from Nebraska, and I wanted to make note of that. Justin is my oldest friend I still keep in touch with, at least of those I'm not related to, and also not counting people who knew me as a kid who I will send or receive a message on facebook every other year. We went out to TGI Friday's since they were staying in Provo, only to discover TGI Friday's has been closed and there's a Magleby's there now. After a few hours of crying we opted to go to Pizza Factory and had a lovely visit there. Morgan loved Justin and Mandi, but then he loves everybody so they really shouldn't feel that special. ;)

He & I decided to start a collaborative/email story together, so I'll keep you posted on that if it's any good. Or if we do more than think about it. A couple of big ifs, but I'm just saying it like it if. I mean is.

Friday Tracie had to go to Salt Lake for work so Morgan spent the day with his grandparents and Charity. It was hard for Tracie, she kept asking me if it was difficult for me too, but I didn't have class that day so I actually got to see him earlier than usual! We were thinking about having family over that night but I was too exhausted and the house was too big of a mess to have them over, so we had a relaxing night of I don't really remember.

Saturday I had class in the morning and our friends we had planned tentatively to hang out that day weren't feeling well so we spent most of the day cleaning and watching "Better Off Ted" which I've been recommended by many people, and I really like it. Despite the fact that I passed out on the laundry and woke up a few hours later with towels for a pillow and underwear for a blanket. Haven't passed out folding laundry in ever.

I've been wanting to get together with my cousin Cameron since he got back from California, and Saturday seemed like a good day to do so. We also invited our cousins Brett & Charlotte since they live nearby and like Cameron too, and there aren't many of those. ;) Since I had napped most of the afternoon on a downy-soft bed, Tracie was understandably tired, so I let her nap while I finished cleaning and made dinner.

If you've ever been a dinner guest of ours, you'll know we're often late getting dinner ready, but it's always worth it. I said it's always worth it. Don't argue, it makes you look cheap, dear. So, Tracie rested and I made dinner all by myself. Not only that, it was a new recipe and the first time I've ever cooked shrimp. I made Shrimp Letillas, basically shrimp tacos with iceberg lettuce instead of tortillas. They were good, but I realized halfway that there wasn't enough shrimp for everyone. So I defrosted some ground turkey and improvised a taco type meat that wasn't half bad, in fact it was downright edible, though it was a bit spicy, which just means I loved it. If I had calculated the shrimp correctly, I actually WOULD have been on time, but it wasn't to be. Cameron and Brett had arrived and I was still cooking. The shrimp had gotten tough, not southside Compton tough but enough so they weren't the most delicious shrimp ever, but all the food was edible if not tasty, and as of this writing, no one is sick from it. Brett brought ice cream and a good time was had by all.

I may have stated before, but you can't get more than 3 Valantines together and not play some sort of game, it's a law or hard-wired into our DNA or something. First we played the game of things, which despite its non-inventive name is a lot of fun. The later it got, the sillier it got, but I think it safe to say a good time was had by all. (The multiple Otter pops/frozen sugar water sticks I'm sure helped as well.) Then we played some game Tracie and Charlotte wanted us to, where we each wrote a sentence on a piece of paper, then the person to our left drew a picture of that sentence. Then the person to their left wrote a sentence of that picture without seeing the original, then the next person would draw a picture of that new sentence without seeing the first picture and sentence, etc. until it returned to its originator. Hilarity ensued. Some of the best were the ones mentioned at the top, where a boy witnesses "the facts of life" becomes a boy so happy it's Ramadan he throws rabbits down the stairs, Jack and Jill going up the hill to fetch a pail of water becomes Robin Hood dragging maid Marian up a hill to drown her, etc. etc. You probably had to be there, but those of us that were there, well, it was one of the funniest nights I've had in awhile, thanks all for coming.

I guess I had so much fun with family Saturday night, I wanted to do it again on Sunday. This time we had my Uncle Jim's family (Jim, Jan, Nikita, Max, Ivan, Andre) over for dinner. Again it was ready later than the visitors were, (and they had called ahead to let us know they'd be late. The dinner did no such thing.) But in retrospect, it was a rather ambition dinner as well.

We wanted to try these "Indian Spiced Vegetables" and thought why not make a whole meal out of it. So we also made coconut jasmine rice and curry chicken. The first time we've ever made curry, but definitely NOT the last. At the risk of being sued by Campbell's, it was mm mmm good. Tracie made the majority of that, we also had Naan (sp?) bread, basically Indian flatbread that tasted better than Pita. Tracie made mango sweet rice for dessert, which in my opinion complemented the brownies Jan made quite well. Alas, since I was so slow in making dinner and because most of their family had school or work the next day, they couldn't stay very late, but we had time then to clean the war zone that was our kitchen.

Quite a fun weekend, much better than the last, which as I remember, was a whole lot of nothing. Happy Ramadan everyone!

And happy birthday to my mom!

Sep 17, 2010

Reading Quotes

I enjoy quotes, I think you know that. Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit, something I am sometimes lacking. One of my favorite pastimes is reading. And so, putting two loves together like peanut butter M&M's, here are some great quotes on reading.

"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."
-C.S. Lewis

"The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones."
-Joseph Joubert

"A room without books is like a body without a soul."

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it."
-Oscar Wilde

"A house without books is like a room without windows."
-Horace Mann

"My alma mater was books, a good library.... I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity."
-Malcolm X

"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them."
-Lemony Snickett

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body."
-Joseph Addison

"Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
-Mark Twain

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library."
-Jorge Luis Borges

A book is a gift you can open again and again."
-Garrison Keillor

"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all."
-Oscar Wilde

"Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."
-G.K. Chesterton

"If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."
-Toni Morrison

"Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book."
-Stéphane Mallarmé

"It is not true that "we have only one life to live"; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish."
-S.I. Hiyakawa

"Books may well be the only true magic."
-Alice Hoffman

"When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before."
-Clifton Fadiman

"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world."
-Philip Pullman

"Reading brings us unknown friends."
-Honoré de Balzac

"My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read."
-Abraham Lincoln

"We read to know that we are not alone."
-C.S. Lewis

Sep 13, 2010

The Muchen föt

For "Drawing for Illustration," our first assignment was to draw a "Muckenfut." That, or a "Slagathor." Slaggy, however, made me think of this. There was no explanation as to what it was, we got to make it up. My first instinct was to draw some sort of creature or monster, and I made a few sketches to that effect. Then I got the idea of a muckenfut, or Muchen föt as I chose to spell it, is some sort of meeting of creatures. Specifically, it is when Deckmar the goblin, Orosinos Troll, Capricork the cantankerous dwarf, Jack the Lopian and Turtle the fairy congregate around a fire in the forest for stories, but the storyteller hasn't arrived yet. That's a Muchen föt. Or, rather,
This is a Muchen föt.

Sep 10, 2010

Cleaning Out The Ol' Mail Box

My inbox in my email is getting a bit out of hand. It had 608 emails. I've so far narrowed it down to 84. Still too many, but I'm tired of going through old emails.

I found a few things I wrote that I completely forgot, as well as many conversations I forgot about.

I also found a few pictures that, while they have significance to me, they may not so much to you, but I wanted to keep them somewhere, and my mail wasn't doing the job. So, here are some pictures I found in my email that I wanted to keep record of but didn't want to save in my inbox.

The impressive stuff is done by friends and artist Harry Clarke. Two are photographs sent to me in chain emails, one is a video game character I made, and the stuff that's not as cool as I think that's near the bottom is by me.

The Dullest Man In Babylon

For my finance class, I've had to read "The Richest Man in Babylon" and then write a two page report on the subject, which I have yet to do.

First, I am going to write a review of it here, then take out all the expletives and complaints, add some fluff, and make it 2 pages.

With the title I gave this post, hopefully you can guess my feelings towards it. The Richest Man in Babyon (RMIB) is a small book, 144 pages, small pages with large-ish type. It's also one of the longest books I've ever written. I don't claim that it was a waste of time, far from it, it was just so poorly written after every paragraph I needed to take a break and read something less mind numbing, like the sales figures for the Twilight Saga, or why Justin Bieber is so darn popular.

That being said, I will talk about what I enjoyed about the book. I liked the lessons it taught, and I plan on implementing them all. They boil down to: save 10% of all you earn, be wise, and be industrious. There are other lessons as well for how to be wealthy/successful, and I appreciated how they said that wealth can be used to make you more at peace and more secure, not what most wealth building books suggest, that once you make all this amazing money you can be lazy all you want! But first, buy more of my books/my $10,000 program and you'll make money! I swear! The principles in it are solid, are smart, and in my opinion, correlate to teachings of the gospel. Not least of these, the teaching repeated throughout the Book of Mormon: "If you keep my commandments, you shall prosper in the land."

What I didn't enjoy: George S. Clason, the author or RMIB is a smart man, gifted with financial ideas. I'm not sure how successful he was, but if he followed the principles taught in the little nugget RMIB, I have no doubt he was happy and successful. But his fortune was not made by his prose. It's bad, ladies and gentlemen. Stephenie Meyer on antidepressants (so, Stephenie Meyer) bad. Sample from page 1: "Beads of perspiration formed upon (the chariot builder's) brow and trickled down unnoticed to lose themselves in the hairy jungle on his chest." Not an image I wanted, George. What this book needs is a superior author to take what GSC wrote and improve/tighten/remove the bad prose. This book could be superb. But the writing is so bad, it becomes very difficult to glean what good the book does have.

And don't say "Austin, if you're so smart," true, I grant you that. "Austin, if you're so smart, why don't you rewrite the book?" Well mister hypothetical reader, I would, but I am busy enough with my own stuff like work and school and home and my own writing that doesn't involve a chariot maker's hairy jungle. I don't remember if I've stated this (probably, but repetition is important, and fun) I have a sketchbook for a drawing class that requires at least 200 sketches, approx. 1/2 an hour spent on each page, I have photos I need to take, a notebook for all semester with current news articles on ethical issues, I have a budget for all semester to make, 3 stocks I need to follow, and a bunch of other stuff I'm forgetting that are all equally important. Not that I'm asking you to pity me (not so overtly, anyway) but I'm saying Austin is a busy bee, and would appreciate a little respect, especially hypothetical questions from hypothetical people.

Anyway, would I recommend this book? Sure. Would I recommend it for any reason other than for saving money? Heck no. Don't even think about it. The writing will make you cry if you're a writer, and fall asleep if you're not. Maybe both.

That's all I have to say about that, now I'm off to actually doing my homework, I wonder what that'll be like.

Sep 1, 2010

Photoshop Sinner

Today in Digital Imaging our teacher wanted us to use as many photoshop filters and effects as we could, with the hopes that we'll get it out of our system. I'm not sure that worked for me, as I really liked it. Whether or not you like it, here's some of what I did:

This is the original picture I took minutes before class.

Here it is cropped. I sharpened the foreground, blurred the background and adjusted the levels slightly.

Same, only I played with "liquefy."

I don't remember all I did here.

I'm trying to blind you.

The leaves have a life of their own, I want to go home now.