Monday, July 30, 2012

I Spy with my little eye...

Camera phones are one of my most favorite inventions in life. I love taking snapshots of seemingly random things. I decided to start doing this for the blog as well. Here's my picture of the day.

Without the context of the scenery, you might think this is an aerial view of the ocean, with whitecaps dotting the water. Nope, it's the clouds in the sky. Today they look like cottage cheese, or the crumble with whipped cream on a blueberry tart. Hmmm, most of the my thoughts are leaning towards food. I think that means I haven't had breakfast yet.

What does this look like to you?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Game of Life

Back in the day, I used to love playing "Life". I even own the Pirates of the Caribbean edition. But the game isn't so fun when you're playing it for keeps. The "Real Life"  where stock markets can crash and send the value of the house card you picked into the toilet. And whose little plastic kids from the game scream, whine, and throw temper tantrums.

Oddly, my real life is echoing the game a bit. Only the stakes are higher than just a bad spin. Remember the go to college card so you can get a higher paying job? Well, my husband lost his job in February. We decided that it was in the best interest of the family and future jobs to send him back to school to get a degree. He should be done in another 10 months. So until then, we are living on our savings and a sandal budget (we passed the shoestring point).

As I watch the saving deplete, I can't help but wonder, did we make the right choice? I think so, and time will tell. But I still feel I am moving around the board waiting for one of those bad opportunity cards to smack me with a penalty.

Have you ever had to gamble a bit with your future, and did it pay off? How did you know you were doing the right thing?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

If you can't say something nice...

You should always listen to what your momma says you know. If you can't say something nice, keep your yap shut. Especially in politics.

If you haven't noticed, there's a pretty big election coming up this year. And so far I have no clue why I should vote for either one of these yahoos. I've heard an earful of why I shouldn't vote for the other candidate though.

It makes me ill that every time I turn on the news or check Facebook, there are pictures of Romney in a KKK outfit, or Obama looking like Hitler. Come on people. How exactly is this helpful, to anyone? To swipe a line from Buddha, It's like poisoning yourself and hoping the other guy falls dead.  Because make no mistake, this negative crap is poisoning you and everyone around you with hate. If you are a person that spreads these offensive and often false images and stories, do you realize how that makes you look?

So here's my impassioned plea to my friends and family on both the left and right... stop throwing poo at the opposing candidate. This goes for the campaigns themselves too. All we hear is how one of them is going to ruin America. I for one would like to hear what you- or your candidate of choice- are going to do to make America better.

Stop using bully scare tactics. Stop kicking the other guy in the nuts. If the only reason to vote is so the other guy doesn't win, we are screwed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Did the LDS church cross the line by stepping into a city dispute

Long title. I know. But nonetheless that is the question I find myself asking.

Little background info. BYU (Brigham Young University) and the LDS church are seeking to build a 9 story addition to the MTC ( missionary training center) in a little neighborhood named Pleasant View in Provo, Utah. To say some residents are a bit unhappy would be an understatement.

Normally if a company or organization wanted to build something against city code, they would present their case, residents would object, the planning council would decide. End of matter.

This story is a wee bit trickier considering the organization in this case is the church to which most if not all of the residents belong to. In fact the leader of the neighborhood resistance is also employed by the church. How's that for tricky?

Initially when opposition was voiced to church about the matters, the LDS church stated the matter was secular and would be dealt with as such. The residents of the neighborhood were free to voice their conscience.

That ended about a week ago when stake president Chris Randall read and spoke from the pulpit on Sunday July first. He reiterated a message that is purported to come from Elder Nelson of the 12. A higher up in LDS church organization. Anyway, the message "invited" the neighborhood opposition to support and "sustain" the church leaders in their decision that the building is necessary to the church and an important ecclesiastical matter.

Hmm. Anyone in the LDS community knows that when you are invited to sustain something, there is a deeper implication at hand. Those words in particular imply certain things with a certain religious connotation.

When I related this story to my friend, she immediately said it smacked of fascism. Perhaps. I think that is a little far personally though. It is interesting to note that immediately following the "invitation" the leader of the opposition and a good many members, dropped their protests. Did the leader, Paul Evans, feel like he might lose his church standing and more importantly his job if he dissented? It could definitely be implied as such. He does not state that as the case though, let me be clear.

What about the members on the planning committee? If they are LDS will the "invitation" from church leadership put them in an awkward position? Or put undue pressure to cede to the will of a church versus the city?

I don't know. It's an interesting quandary to say the least. In my opinion, the notice from the pulpit was in poor taste and poor wording. But the Mormon faith is one where the needs of the gospel, God and church comes first. The view from your front window would be second. There is definitely a doctrinal case that could be made for a member of faith.

I'm not disputing that. Not questioning whether or not you can be a faithful member and disagree with the church at times. Just questioning the transition from stating it as a secular issue then changing to an ecclesiastical one when the chips were down.

Faith and politics is not a new discussion. Nor is it unique to the Mormon faith. I have seen people using this case as a reason not to vote for Romney. Because the church would influence his decisions. What about a Catholic? Would the Pope order a justice or president to strike down Gay marriage or face excommunication?

As Americans we like to point to a separation in church and state, but the lines are never drawn as clearly as we might think. School prayer, in God we trust, one nation under God, etc.

So I ask you dear reader, did the LDS church go too far bringing a civil city matter into church meetings? Exerting pressure or merely asking for help from the congregation? And the broader implications... Can anyone truly consider themselves a member of faith and not have that leak into their political decision?

Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

And before the haters start hating, I am a member in good standing with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Just looking at some hard questions.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Everything I need to know as a writer, I learned from Buffy

My husband and I have been indulging recently in last year's Christmas present... the full series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD. I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but the show is brilliant. Joss Whedon is a freakin' genius. It is my fervent belief that if every writer watched Buffy, the quality of books would vastly increase. Here's what I learned.:

1. Witty irreverent dialogue makes characters interesting. Even the unlikable ones.
Principal Snyder is not a character you should like. He constantly causes problems for our heroine.  It would be easy to cast this character as a throw away. Just a boring voice of authority. Instead, Whedon has given him some of the best lines, making him worth watching instead of a snoozefest.
Principal Snyder: That's the kind of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.
2. Sidekicks are almost as valuable as the protagonist.
Where would the Scooby Gang be without Willow, Giles and Zander? These characters are all essential parts of story. They add meaningful support as well as comic relief. Often sidekicks are relegated to very surface personalities. It's easy to fall into the stereotype trap. The fat best friend, the nerd, the snotty cheerleader.. you name it and it's been done. They don't grow. So take it farther, make the audience care and give your sidekicks depth. Think of the growth Willow had throughout the series.

3. Angel was the original Edward from Twilight
And Joss Whedon did it so much better. Edward comes off as too good to be true. He has no flaws. It's obnoxious. And unrealistic. Angel is awesome because he has issues. He's not perfect, we don't always like him; but in the end, we all root for him anyway. Have you ever had a relationship that was all sunshine and roses? Where the only problems between the two of you could be worked out through a little DTR (define the relationship). Didn't think so. Buys make you cry. Love makes you cry.And sometimes... true love doesn't conquer all.

4. Sometimes life sucks.
Throughout the series, Buffy goes through hell. How often do we read books where the main character is never in any real peril. Nothing bad really happens to them. Buffy got the crap beat out of her on a weekly basis. She doesn't often get what she wants, but she does what is needed. Don't be afraid to hurt your hero. If there is no true peril, the story isn't interesting. And if it's obvious that the hero will come out all peachy keen... why would we keep turning the page?

There are so many more lessons, but I think I'll leave it on just one final thought. Fun. In every Joss Whedon project I have ever seen, it is clear that he has fun. Look at Buffy, Firefly, Avengers... they do well and have cult followings because he has fun with his writing. When the writer has fun, the audience can't help but join in.

So until next week, live by my personal author tagline -- Having fun on the page