Alucard and Guns

So, how am I

Well, new things to report: School is good, and I think I'm doing well. One of my midterms is coming up this week, and I guess I need to study for it. But that's only because it's Australia and New Zealand geography, which I'm not well versed in. But I think I'll do okay, so long as read the book, which is the only thing I haven't done.

I've been going to Institute and church frequently. I got a new calling as the Elders Quorum instructor. I'm trying to fill out the paperwork to go to BYU, but I need my transcript before I can send it, but SOU won't give me my transcript because I owe them $2696, which I need to pay before june 16th or else...

What else...Oh, I've been trying to keep my creative writing up, even thought my grammar class has facilitated technical writing over creativity. But, Shadowrun plots and games keep that part of my right brain working properly. Consequently, I watch what I write, except when I stop caring...like right now.

I'm finally getting my blogs going well. My literary blog is http://likebooks.blogspot.com and my anime blog is http://anime2extreme.blogspot.com However, my roommates magazine (and the real reason I made a blogspot account) is at http://nerdevolution.blogspot.com in which I write reviews of video games for the group. I would like to do something else, but the other writers like manga and anime more than games, so I'm stuck with my own anime blog.

But I've been getting more and more into podcasts and have several different types of podcasts on my computer. As you can see by the post I did earlier today, when I was excited, I did actually get involved in some podcast creation and now have an account to make my own podcasts, so don't be surprised if I talk about my own podcast posts in the future.

Let's see...oh, and I'm learning Korean from my friend Sung-ae, which is going well. I've only been taking the class for the last week, but it's been fun and I'm slowly getting able to understand the writing style. I hope that by the end of next week, with the gift of tongues I've discovered that I still possess, I will be able to read the characters without needing the cheat sheet. I'll still be a long way from formulating sentences, but I'd be able to read, and since Korean and Japanese grammar are almost identical, then I have a feeling it won't be too long (supposing like I said that the gift of tongues continues).

That's about it. Thanks for reading. I hope that your days have been wonderful and I wish you best of luck. May the Lord Bless you.
Alucard and Guns

Another Update

Well, some of you may have heard of the appearence I made on Japanese Radio, broadcast all throughout Hokkaido, but that tradition has continued into the states as well. Today, as I was trying to get onto a live radio conference with author Scott Sigler, I stumbled across a podcast in progress named GEEKWEEKFL and found myself one of the two hosts of a podcast.

My stint with geekweekfl can be found at http://geekweekga.podomatic.com under the 4/29/07 entry (first on the list right now).

My comments and questions to Scott Sigler can be found via iTunes under TechnoFodder or soon to be up on the technofodder website www.technofodder.com, but not there today. I heard they have to do some editting first.


In both places, I was Heero2020, so don't be surprised if you get confused as to who is speaking. Have fun, and happy listening
Alucard and Guns

Updating

I just wanted to do my traditional Update so that you might all know what has been happening here in my life these past few weeks.

I'm back in school after Spring Break--which is actually a miracle with the multitude of flaming hoops and empty promises I had to make in order for them to consider my application. It was a rough going, but nevertheless, I persevered and made it back to Ashland. And now I study Grammar, Geograpy and Japanese. Rumors are that I'll be heading to a better school winter of next this year.

As for work, though I scored weakly in my proficiency exam, my boss thought me too valueable to let me go, and now I'm a closer on Monday thru Wednesday. This is great, but most of my classes are monday and wednesday, so it's been tough goings today. Also, in light of these events, Tuesday "Guys Night" has to be moved to a different day... more on that later.

I found out that my grasp of grammar was not as strong as I once lulled myself into believing it was, so I must get to studying more and working on my skills as a writer, but my creative writing professor, Nash, said in his serious way, "You are a terrible student, but you should serious consider a career in some field of writing" or something of that nature, since I learned that we never actually remember what people say to us. With that in mind, I've been having a very hard time to keep back the writing urges, since I don't want to ruin a future potential.

Spring Break went well, and I got to see some friends I haven't seen in a while. I hung out with my old roommie, Andy, and we even went to see 300. I also got to see my bestest friends of all and meet some new people--namely Moshe, Becca's current boyfriend. Nice Guy, like him a lot. But that's not important, what is important is that everyone looked great and it made me feel like I should go on a diet. Yep, that's right. Those of you who saw me during Spring Break made me jealous, since it seemed like many of you had lost weight in direct opposition to myself.

That's about it. There's lots of smiles upon my face and things are going well. I miss many of my old friends, but here at school, I have many things to occupy. There's studying, work, writing, and, last but most definitely not least, Rachel. (Most Def)

Chill. Peace Out Y'all. Heh, oh I guess I forgot to mention the fact that I've been watching too much of The Wire with Tai recently--a habit I don't intend to give up very soon. If you need me, my number is still 541-552-8527 and now I'm living with Nick, and a guy from France. Drop a line if you got something you want to talk about.

Good luck to all of you in all you do.
--Scott
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    creative
Alucard and Guns

(no subject)

Well, the life here at school is going good. I've been doing some new things, like going to class on time and studying on saturdays. I've found that I keep missing apointments with my japanese language partner Natsumi, and I almost missed hanging out with my friend Joseph on Friday because of an afternoon lunch date, but other than that, I've been doing good. Hanging out with my friends is awesome and we've been having one heck of a time here.

Well, Guys Night (originally formulated as a spiteful response to a girls night that our friends had formulated) was a huge success the first week of its existence, but almost died last week when two females were introduced into the equation and no one other than Tai arrived. Tai and I watched the Punisher, stopping only for Joseph to play some Texas Hold'em when he arrived for 30 minutes. We moved Guys Night to the other dorm building so that the other guys could participate, but we lost my roommate in the process. However, Next week is hopefully going to be as good as the first week...if we can find another "the _____or" movie like we've done so far. Technically, "Predator" is one of those movies, but without the "the" in front, Guys Night just might not be the same. However, just the other day, Tai, Nick, Sam, Alex, Shawn and I watched "The Marine" which is one of the worst movies ever made. It was awesome to laugh at, so I suggest it on a night when you are trying not to be serious and you have a large group of friends.

There's also this thing about my weight. It's started to go back up again, so I've been trying to figure out a good diet that I can maintain for a while. It's terribly hard to do that when you have to eat school food for each meal 'cause your work only pays once a month and your first paycheck comes in the month after you start. My friend Alex suggested that I eat a salad often and that should help, but I find that I like the taste of the Wednesday Bacon Cheeseburger over salad, so I can't give up one of the biggest problems in my diet. I'm hoping the money that I go to go shopping with will help me eat a little better and more structured around my schedule, so I can maintain a good health regiment.

Well, I've been writing a lot recently, so here's one of my stories to end off this entry.

Not So Foreigners

It was cold in the winter in Obihiro and the nightfall came very early. The streetlights would come on, and the bars and casinos would open and then we could see the ice on the road. Nights on the streets of Obihiro were dangerous. There were many yakuza who stood outside the hotels and they sold women to the men who would stop and talk to them. The snow powdered their suits as it did ours and the wind blew their shirts and they would stay out until early in the morning. It was their job.

We were in the downtown every afternoon, and there were different ways to meet people once we were there. Most people would be at the train station. Every road in downtown came to the train station. One of the roads came from the northeast and passed just outside of the bars and casinos and restaurants and hotels. It was the road that had the most cars and was the widest and covered in the most of snow and had the most stoplights. There was a Seicomart there that we sometimes went into to use the restroom. I always looked for new comics. But it was the road that came directly east out Otofuke that had the most people, but it ended at the train station and not many cars traveled on it. There were shops and clothing stores and banks that lined the road and sold wares to the people. Almost everyone who went shopping in Obihiro went down this road.

The bars were in between the two roads, and you could see the footprints in the snow of people who had turned down an alley to get to their favorite drinking spots. The signs with sunaku written all over it would light our paths when the darkness fell. Snack girls would see us walking passed and would shout “Konnichi wa, gaijintachi!” as a greeting. They liked us because we were foreigners. There were always snack girls inside the snacks just as there were always yakuza outside the hotels, and snack girls were the most sociable people to foreigners in Obihiro—and I believe throughout all of Japan.

Obihiro’s train station was the largest structure in the downtown area. It was several blocks long and you could see it from the other end of the downtown area. There were statues on the north side leading up to the building and you could see a family of aluminum deer trying to reach the frozen fountain construct that was a medieval tower under construction. I dreamt of climbing up its wall and tackling the people standing inside watching the water fall, and I would think of how easy it would be to climb since it started only a few inches tall at one end and spiraled taller. The sounds of the train could be heard clearly from the fountain, as well as the busses in the bus relay station just to the northeast of the station, perpendicular to the fountain. The Japanese would walk passed the construct on their way to the train or the bus and forget that it even stood, and the police would chase away the kids who tried to climb it. They should have been worrying about the foreigners riding the metal deer.

On the other side of Obihiro Station were the Tokachi Plaza, the Obihiro Grand Hotel and Nagasakiya shopping center, and there were no yakuza on the south side of the station. Nagasakiya housed one of the biggest game centers in Obihiro and the large food court and the largest collection of high school kids. The teenagers would go there after school to socialize and play games and take puricura pictures with their friends, and they would stay in the warmth until the store closed in the evening. They would head home as their fathers were heading from work towards the snack girls or love hotels, but we never said anything. No one ever said anything, because the people thought that they were men and that we were foreigners.
Alucard and Guns

Small Post

Sorry I don't have time to write more, but I've been finding that I don't have a whole lot of time to write Live Journal entries, since my schedule usually finds me writing stories for 242 in the evenings, or preparing for Shadowrun, or even in Aikido class (as was the case this evening). So, I thought I'd do a little update, and then let everyone know that I love them and hope for the best.

Okay everyone, so school is going good for me, though I was sick for the first two weeks and still seem to be pretty sick. I've gotten together with some of my old friends: Rachel, Tai, Alex, and Nick, and even met with some others, though our schedules don't even work out together (Corky :(). But I was surprised to find good old Corey Cotton around, with his sweet cool-looking shades that I'm jealous of...

Anyway, things have been a blast. I started Japanese and found myself doing the homework in the class to keep myself from going stir-crazy from the sheer lack of any challenge. My Japanese conversation partner, Natsumi, has been really friendly and invited me to a party after a massive surprise came in the form of my ability to speak with near fluency (that's what she called it anyway). The party was fun, and there were lot's of people there wishing Fumi chan a happy birthday.

Classes are cool, though I didn't end up in Psych for a whole week because of SNOW DAYS!!! They weren't that fun actually, since I had to work through one of them. But, I enjoy Writing 242, more than I remembered, and I also enjoy Aikido, more than I thought I would. I've learned to sidestep a punch and throw a man to the ground afterwards, which has been an impressive improvement in my already standard self-defense techniques (how many martial arts am I up to now? Like 7). However, the Psych has been a semi-bane of my existence...

So, yeah, I got a job at the computer lab, sitting around until anyone has a problem. Not a terribly active job, but it pays well, and I get to wear a blue vest while I work...Stylin'. On Saturdays, there's usually more of us working than there are students using the computers, which makes us wonder what we're doing there in the first place. There's never any problems, so we all get to sit around behind the help desk with our feet on the rail and talk about politics or policy or anything else we can think of (like Austin and I with our StarWars RPG conversation that lasted like 3 hours) and get paid for the whole thing. Fortunately, it's not legal to restrict us from studying while we work, so many of us get our homework done during the Saturday shift.

Well, That's about all I've got going on here. If you have any questions, don't feel scared to ask me. Love you guys. BYE!!!
The Shrine

Zdrastviche

Kak vashi dila? Ni hwae shwa pu twung hwa ma? So, today I started off my interestingly cold day by waking early to find a notice that all classes before noon were cancelled. That was a good and bad thing since that meant that I wouldn't have to study Psych at 8am, but that also meant that I had woke up at 7am for nothing. Oh well, it gave me more time to sleep and then have lunch before Japanese at 1pm. Since I got these CIA Training Mandarin Chinese CDs in the mail recently, I decided that I would spend some of my extra time in the morning learning to speak Mandarin like the CIA. Well, it seems that because I began studying Mandarin back when I had begun studying Russian, the two are linked in my mind, so all of a sudden, all my Russian came to my mind, and I felt very much like a linguist today. Couldn't understand my own language at some points.

So, to add to all this language stuff, I walked into Japanese and found out that we had a test scheduled...one I didn't prepare for. Well, I took the test and found that the only word that gave me a problem was NANOKA, since I always forget it. I remembered all the others, but that one eluded me for 5 minutes. Then it came back to me and I finished the test. It was awesome, and I know that all these language skills are gifts from above.

But I continued my day only to discover that Professor Nash wasn't coming to our creative writting class. There was no warning, but after 30 minutes, I was the only one waiting around for him to show, which he didn't. I really enjoy that class, even if it seems that the other students are having a hard time understanding the reading assignments. This last story was difficult, but apparently I was one of the few who finished it, and I was also the only one who understood it. I know because I sorta started a class discussion when it became apparent that Nash would not be arriving. Then I got ditched and brought the assignments to Nash's office before I headed back to the dorms and met up with my friends Rachel and Tai.

Well, today, I got to have Keesh for dinner at Rachel's place, because she invited me there. It was good, and the conversation was enlightening, if not downright awesome. Rachel is probably the smartest person I know, so I always enjoy talking to her. She's not a bad cook either.

That was about the extent of my day. I finished by watching some Numb3rs on my computer, studying Kanji, getting things ready for my Shadowrun game tomorrow, and then snacking. Lot's of language and lots of crazy crazy snow-stuffs. One day, I'll finally have a hold of my life, which would make things very comfortable around here. Hope everything is going well for you guys too. Good luck out there.
Alucard and Guns

WOW, I'm back finally

So, I've finally come back to Live Journal, which is weird since I got a Laptop as a new years present from my family before I came back to school at SOU. Things have been interesting here, even though its only been a week, what with me getting my old job back, meeting up with my friends, writting some cool stories and basically downloading every TV show and movie that I've wanted to see for the last 3 years. Aww the upside to school computer networks...well mostly it's because I live with a computer genuis named Sam.

Well, Things for me have been great. Something between myself and Audrea flared up there before I left...nothing weird, just some cuddling when we were hanging out. But, since I've come here, I've begun to notice that Rachel and I have some sort of weird flirty and friendly relationship, which is interesting because Tai has come to the conclusion that nothing is ever going to happen between he and Rachel. Sooo....well, I'll leave that for updating.

My stories have been getting better since I started taking Creative writing 242, which I know should not come as much of a shock. But, Nash is a good professor, if not downright aggrivating sometimes. He assigns a writing assignment almost every day, and requires that we make no spelling or grammatical mistakes. Plus, the idea of the class is to mimic award winning writers until our work blends so well with theirs that we can't physically distinguish a difference. But, with that, I think I've begun to figure out some avenues that I had never previously thought of. Here's one of the new stories now:



R. Scott Uhls
Chapter 2, Exercise 1
Mimic of John Barth's "Lost in the Funhouse"

Magda’s Funhouse Adventure

Define irony. A city called Ocean City that happens to be nowhere near the ocean. Certainly a good author would not start his story this way. He should start by introducing the characters and setting up the plot. Magda was not alone in the backseat of the family car, exclusively related to the fact that she was a guest participating in M______ family’s annual Independence Day tradition. Now we’re finally getting somewhere, but we haven’t started at the beginning, have we? Then where should we start? It’s important to start at the beginning so that the readers can make sense of the work, spatially and chronologically. But whatever you do, do not tell the story all the way through.

Magda never driven to Ocean City before, and it seemed that all involved had intended to keep it that way before she had invited Magda to come along. Italics are used to emphasis the points that a narrator would make if one was listening to them. They are also used to show voices that do not come from within the character, but the overuse of italics can make it very hard to read through a paragraph. And now, Magda found herself seated between Peter and Ambrose on their way to the city named Ocean City that may or may not actually be a (italics) city (/italics) or even (italics) by the ocean (/italics). Somewhere in that paragraph was a grammatical foul.

To reiterate, it is very important that an author starts at the beginning, though the story itself is simply a moment in the lives of the characters. They have all existed before this point, and they will continue to exist beyond the climax, many more years so, actually, but none of that is truly our concern, for the readers are only concerned with what is happening now. Magda craned her neck around Ambrose, attempting to catch a glimpse of the “Towers”, which marked the halfway point between D______, Maryland and Ocean City. He had been a little dissociated since their moment in the barn a little more than a week ago, and Magda hoped that it wasn’t something she had said. She hadn’t really remembered what had happened, but she did remember that she had “purchased clemency at a surprising price set by herself” Clemency? No one understands that word anymore; no one uses that word anymore. It is important that when writing a piece of short fiction, the author does not continue to interrupt the plot with words that disorient and confuse the reader; it does not make for very interesting prose. At this rate, no one will ever read your work.

It was as if there were two people inside of Magda, one controlling her behavior throughout most of the day, and then the other who would occasionally say or do things that were far beyond her level of comprehension. There was the one Magda, who played with fairy princess dolls and sang herself lullabies at night, but then also the Magda who wasn’t thinking of pink bunnies and rainbows when she looked at Peter. Pause for the reader to get a chance to ponder this conception and understand your meaning. Sometime during their game of Niggers (I hope that I don’t get beat up in the parking lot for writing that) and Masters, Ambrose had read into something that one of the Magdas had said, and had since become detached from reality, thinking to himself whatever fantasy he cared to drudge up. It wasn’t that she didn’t care about Ambrose, he was dear friend, but it was something about Peter that drew her into his eyes. For the life of her, she couldn’t seem to pinpoint exactly what it was, especially since whenever she got close, Peter would find something to sass her about. Sass n. meaning impudent or disrespectful back talk; also a good word to use because it paints a picture of the relationship between Magda and Peter, as well as introducing Magda’s inner conflict. Drawing in and pushing away, the endless cycle of literary romance. Now we’re moving forward in the plot diagram.

“Is that them?” Magda asked innocently as she looked directly at something she knew to be the electrical towers of a power plant. She hoped that Peter had truly believed her façade, chalking it up to the fact that she’d never been passed V_____ before, but it seemed that it was Mrs. M_______ that had believed it, almost ripping the game to shreds with her comments about how someone had a girlfriend. She wondered if Peter had heard his mother, since he seemed to be in need of constant prodding or else he would never be the man she would marry. His eyes, like his lips, flared with passion, constantly moist in even the driest of conditions, an attribute that not only made her jealous, but also made her admire the boy who would surely be showing her around the Funhouse that he’d been constantly discussing since her decision to join them. She hoped that this would bring them to another level of commitment, maybe one where he poked fun at her less and kissed her more. The days of playing house playing house would soon be over. A trip from D_____ to Ocean City does not take that long, but it seems to drag on forever.

What was the title of this piece again? Why haven’t we got to the funhouse or the adventure yet? I guess the entire act is the adventure, but what keeps us here in the car? This can’t go on for much longer, since it seems that the drive from D______ to Ocean City could have been finished in less than a day. By definition, a short story is short, but this work seems to be lacking that concept. Was it ever intended to be a quote short story unquote? Magda had never really done anything short in her life, not with the way she spoke. Some say she was an excellent orator, but Peter only used her locution as a reason to poke fun at her more. Magda’s mother had told her this was because he was interested in her, but Magda thought that was a pretty unintelligent reason to hurt someone’s feelings. Her mother had said boys are dumb, sweet pea. It is important to use quotation marks to indicate dialogue in a story, because it allows the reader to distinguish between direct quotation, that is words spoken by a character, and a character’s indirect quotation of another character.

Leaving the Funhouse was the last thing that she wanted to do, but it had come faster than she’d hoped. They left discussing the names of the children that they would have, the life they would live, and the future ahead of them. They were still young, but a single kiss would change her entire world. It’s interesting to start a story at the end, especially when the end is catchy, because it gives the readers a reason to read. Because they know what happens, the rest becomes a mystery to them. They want to know how it got there and where it twisted from what they originally thought. Which two people had left the funhouse, and which two had gone in?

Peter had suggested that they go to the funhouse, since he and Magda had been before. Magda could see through the mask that he was trying to present, seeing that Peter didn’t believe that Ambrose would want to go, not with that creepy laughter from Fat May the Laughing Lady. At first the laughter had been amusing, but the closer they got to the Funhouse, the more terrifying the sound had become, to her even. Magda is more scared than Ambrose, but showing it through physical appearance and mannerism is effective because it triangulates the attention of all the readers to this moment. Magda shivered as they drew closer to the sound, hoping that Ambrose would again suggest something that would steer them away from arriving at their intended destination. After swimming and standing, they had stalled more than enough. This plot is starting to stall and soon will find itself just as weak as Magda. She wanted to go in, but something in the pit of her stomach feared what was going to happen in the dark. And the dark was starting to fall faster than she imagined.

Rainbows and pink bunnies, Sea air, the boats knocking against the dock, the sounds of sandals on the boardwalk, people crossing to and fro, the old man next to the entrance. All these things kept Magda from thinking about the funhouse. In the car, she wanted nothing more than to enter this place, to enter with him, to find themselves within, but suddenly she felt as though there was something special that she did not want to give away. Does Magda trust Peter? Never forget to leave something lingering for the readers to search for, words unspoken for them to seek. If they find them, then they are better than you. Snot green and scrotum-tightening. How else do you describe the fear of the funhouse? She’d been through before, but this felt very different. Last time, it had been her entire family together, but now it would be just her and Peter, with Ambrose following behind.

Paul, Janey, Lisa, and Kevin. Those were the names that she had decided they would name their children, even if Peter continued to protest. They had been waiting for Ambrose to come out of the funhouse for a long time, which had given them a while to agree on names. Here we can decide the happenings of the funhouse. They went in, and have now come out. So what happened? Did they kiss? Did they get close? Did Ambrose finally get over his quiet attitude? Magda thought about all the possibilities that could have happened inside the funhouse, remembering what did happen and forgetting those things that did not. It would not do to fantasize like Ambrose does. Though the rainbows and pink bunnies were not helping at this point. She couldn’t mistake the fact that she and Peter had gotten closer, but not quite the way she had expected, or hoped. They were still friends, and they would still banter about their upcoming children, but he was still too immature for her yet. Boys are dumb, sweet pea. Boys are dumb.

Ambrose couldn’t hold a candle to his former self as he exited the side door that he had found, coming face to face with Magda, as she stood very close to his older brother. She was happy to see that he had made it out, mostly because she was beginning to get worried that fear would have shaken the pale boy to death. He was still young, younger than his brother, and was trying to be just as brave. He had gone through alone, something that Magda was not even willing to do, and now stood before her different. When approaching a climax, it is always effective to add in some aspect that links previous statements with the current situation. Ambrose’s eyes had changed along with the flush color of his face. His height and strength were clearly the same, but those brown eyes of his shimmered with an inner power that Magda was only partly willing to embrace. Yet somehow they resembled Peter’s: moist, like his lips, and piercing. The M_______ men were a force to be reckoned with, especially in the hearts of young women.



SO that's my story. I hope you guys like it, since I had a lot of fun writing it.
Alucard and Guns

Night before Departure and all through the house...

...people were stirring like a pack of mad mouses. It's the day before we head out, so we're all packing our stuff and getting together the things that we will need for 2 weeks. Fortunately, there will be washing machines and dryers where we are going, which is more than I can say about Japan. Anyway, its time for our annual Lewkowitz Family Christmas, and this year we get to participate in the Uhls family christmas, which is something that I haven't been to since I was 12 years old. Wow, it's been as long as I've been a member. I'd almost forgotten.

Anyway, so, yeah, picked up the rental car today and the vehicle, a Jeep SVU something or other, which is alot better than any of our sedans, because it can drive through snow much much better, and we will be going over Shasta, so that's something good. Interestingly, my sister won't be driving with us, which is the first time ever, but she will be flying out to come to the christmas parties, and then flying back for work. Its crazy but we'll do.

That rental car has a SIRIUS radio system, so I was playing with all the different channels (theres like 180 channels or something) and was getting stuff like news channels, music stations and TV shows. We listened to Trucker Radio, NASCAR, FOX NEWS, TALKLEFT RADIO, Shadey3 (which is the Eminem network) and so on. I'm going to have lots of fun with the radio on the trip.

Other point of interest is that noone has told me what the plan is, just, get ready to leave at 4 am. There's something about going to Stockton and hanging with my uncle, getting some stuff from him and one of my cousins, but that's it. Still a Big Fat NO!!! on the Fresno trip, but that's not really an issue I can continue to argue. Sigh, guess I'll never get to meet those double_dear twins....

Well, at church today, I was the final speaker, which was appropriate because I probably won't be participating in the Canyon Road Ward again...well, maybe in the summer. That's kinda sad actually, because there's this girl (not Eve) there, and she's from Texas, and today at our lucious Linger Longer (we had left overs from the Ward Party) we sat together and talked, and I found out that she didn't have a boyfriend like I thought she did, which meant that she was actually free to go out sometime if I'd just have asked. Dang! I lose. Oh well, I hope we meet up again sometime, since her whole Physics Major thing makes her kinda cute, and I think that her glasses make me think she's really attractive (girls with glasses are attractive to me for reasons that I just can't explain). However, this is girl is attractive, but the glasses just attracted my attention first.

Well, back to my talking at church thing, I wrote a talk, but I didn't give it. Not fully anyway. I changed somethings and made a few more jokes than I wrote here, like my improv opening where I said, "I wish I had one of those Teleprompters from Conference. Those talks are so cool aren't they. They move people, and I've always wanted to move people, but I hear they're expensive, so..." which made some people laugh.

Anyway, I'm going to end my potentially last entry for the year on a spiritual note by including the talk that I wrote. Hope you guys enjoy it. Happy holidays.


1 Nephi 1:1

One thing I get from this scripture is a small glimpse into the family life of Nephi. His parents were goodly, and they apparently taught their children of God, for Nephi states that he had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysterious of God, as well as proclaiming his parents goodly. Nephi recognized that his parents were directly related to his understanding and relationship with God, and thus stated that they had done their purpose as parents. I look into Nephi’s statements and as I realize that achieving goals with someone else requires constant unity, and thus conclude that Lehi and Sariah were United parents.

It’s interesting that in the scriptures we never read about Sariah complaining that Lehi never cleans up the tent. We never read about Lehi yelling at Sariah for spending all their money to go into Jerusalem to buy new shoes. We never see the boys ever trying to moderate an argument between there parents when Lehi comes home from a hard day of prophesying and finds that dinner is not in the fire. We never read about these things, because that’s not what was important to their relationship. It was important that they work together and that they unite in their purpose of bringing their sons and daughters unto God, and thus making their children goodly like unto themselves.

We do read once about Sariah calling her husband a visionary man, but that was only after her sons went off in the Lords errand and didn’t return for several days. This mother was clearly concerned for her boy, who had been required to go into Jerusalem to complete a task that Laman and Lemuel had already convinced themselves would be impossible. No doubt, after they hadn’t returned for many days, Sariah thought they were dead and thus angry at her husband. But when the boys returned, Sariah repented and said:

Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them.

Why is unity important? Who should we be united with? Do we ever need to repent for not being united with them? What blessings come from Unity?
I don’t have a lot of time to answer all these questions, and I’m fairly certain that my nerves won’t allow me to give the proper amount of time to each subject, so it would probably be best if you all pondered these questions in your heart while I skim over some explanations.

First, why is unity important? Well, if we go back through history and look to our very most important role-model, we find ourselves looking into the face of Christ. Here he stood in the waters of Jordan with his cousin, John the Baptist, willing to take upon himself the covenant of Baptism, which is the taking upon himself the name the Jesus Christ, and being cleansed from his sins, eligible to stand at the right hand of God. Christ was perfect, without blemish, without sin, but yet there he stood in the banks of the Jordan. Even John, who had been busy proclaiming the gospel of practical religion, was amazed to find himself standing before the Christ, saying, “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou unto me?”

But we all know how Christ responded, don’t we. He said, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” We read in 2 Nephi 31 that the reason behind Christ’s statements is this: that he humbleth himself before the Father, and witness unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments. Christ was witnessing unto the Father that even thou He Himself was perfect and not in need of baptism, that he would fulfill all the commands of the Father, for the two were united in purpose. Their unity led Christ to be able to complete the atonement and achieve that great task of redeeming our souls.

This is our example. This is our mold. Christ and the Father united in purpose, brought to pass the salvation of all the souls of men. They brought happiness into an otherwise dreary world. They brought to the suffering soul, dying in sin without repentance. They brought about eternal life, which was their goal from the outset. The two achieved all that they set out to achieve because they were joined in a union that neither was willing to break.

Like unto the Father and the Son, being united in purpose, we have many people that we too can be united with. First, and probably the easiest to imagine is the Prophet of the Church. Granted, Brigham Young did not intend for the saints to blindly follow him and the subsequent chain of prophets that would follow, but he hoped that all the saints would ask God the Prophet was really called of God, for he knew that if they did so, God would manifest it unto them, and then they willing follow the dictates of that Prophet. And so it is, that his wish still remains, that we align ourselves in with the revelations from heaven and thus have living scriptures in our lives, living dictates from on high. Being joined in a union so great as to move the entire world closer to the kingdom of heaven.

But then, there’s yet others that we should be united with, and most of those I’m going to leave up to your own conscience, because you’re really the one decides who you need to be united with. However, I am going to state that you should be united with your families in their purposes, so long as their purposes are just. My family, for example, has an annual Christmas party in California. Tomorrow, I’m leaving for that party, and won’t be coming home until after New Years. Now, I could stay home, and not participate, as some of my cousins and uncle have begun to do over the past few years, but that would be selfish, wouldn’t it. If I were to choose to separate myself from my family so that I could hang out with my friends on New Years, what kind of reception could I expect next time I want my family to gather with me? No, unity amongst the family is so important as to be part of our eternal lives with our families, since it them who will be part of our eternal existence. Is it really a wonder that the greatest blessing of the Celestial Kingdom is life eternal, or rather, eternal existence with our families? To know God, our Father, and to be like unto him, a Father or Mother ourselves?

If I were to write a book of scripture like Nephi, would the images of my family be the same as his. Or would mine be full of scriptures like, “And thus my mother spake unto my father: Canst thou not see the clothes that are laying on the floor? Canst thou see that the washer is open? Canst thou not see that I have been cooking all the day? Canst thou not do something to help out around here? And again my father spake unto my mother: Woman, leave me be, for I too have been laboring hard these past twelve hours. And thus my father wrestled with my mother”.

Even though this might be a portion of our daily lives, the truth is that when all is said and done, if we were united with those that we should have been united with, true happiness will come to us and to many more than we expect. Like Christ and the Father were united, we have goals, even if we don’t remember them. We’re preparing to meet God, and thus preparing to live eternally with him. Our unity with Him should start here, and now, in our time of probation. Our unity with our friends, our family, our coworkers, our priesthoods leaders and our God, begins within our own hearts during this short time we have to prove our obedience.
We may not know what affect this will have on us in that eternal world, but remember that Amulek taught that the same spirits will possess our souls after that day of darkness. Prepare yourself each day to live in the presence of the Father with the people that you see around yourself. You might think, some of them won’t make it, but then, you might not make either. So prepare, prepare for even the worst among them to be your eternal friend. The only counsel I can offer inclusion before I end my time here in the Canyon Road Ward is “Be united one with another.”

And always remember that there is no I, in Unity. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
ainu

Weekend like an ainu

So, the power here in Portland was shut down on Thursday due to 97 mile an hour winds that struck the coast of Oregon. Portland isn't on the coast, but wind rushed down the Columbia and over the hills, hitting Portland at 50 miles an hour or so. Trees fell, powerlines dropped, and transformers exploded, which gave us long periods of black outs. My home was dark for about 6 hours, which apparently was the shortest of all the areas. When I came to Nathan's house in Beaverton on Friday, the power was still off and didn't turn on until 8am this morning. Meanwhile, Hillsboro is still out, which has caused a lot of people to be stranded far from Portland without anyway to get back in before sunrise.

But, with all this power failing around Portland, many people have been able to enjoy some candle-lit literature. Nathan managed to read half a novel before I came over, which was something that he'd forgotten he could do. I guess that's what happens when your days are full of hours upon hours of City of Heroes/Villians and Neverwinter Nights II. I, myself, found that I had more than enough time of silence to be able to write a short-story that I've been meaning to write, but as I formed the words on paper, the tale began to evolve outside of my voice and I began to feel more like I was reading than writing. The main character changed from a mysterious no name man to a teenage girl named Doraine. I'm feeling like this bit of inspiration is coming from someone truly greater than I am, so I've been thankful these past few days for the lack of power and people running around being loud and obnoxious (it's amazing how much sleep people will get when TVs and Computers are offline).

But, on Friday, I met up with Nathan, Kerianne, and Dana, and we went to Kerianne's house, which had power returned to it. There, we watched the last 2 episodes of one of the greatest written series out there, Firefly, and watched the 1.5 hour movie Serenity that goes along with the series. The movie is a stand alone movie, but certainly makes a whole lot of sense if you've seen the series (I pretended like I hadn't seen the series and realized that I would understand, but the character's motivations were a little unclear without previous knowledge from the show). I wish that the other shows that weren't nearly as well written hadn't taken the budget away from FOX, which killed Firefly, and that we would still have Firefly to watch today. But, with Serenity, the show would not be nearly as good, mostly because of the people who die in the movie.

Anyway, we returned to the igloo that was Nathan's home after watching the newest episode of Battlestar Galactica, which is the season finale until January 21st. Good episode, but not nearly as good as some of the others. I'm still impressed that Jamie Bamber is overcoming his British accent and playing Lee Adama so well that we have no choice to believe that he's Admiral Adama's son. Anyway, the house was cold and after I discussed with Nathan the direction that my short-story was going, we talked about his stories. Nathan's plans for the future are to be a Fantasy writer, but he's not really taking any steps toward progressing his skills or learning new literature tactics. He is spending a lot of time creating RPG plot-lines and character backgrounds, which are good as practice, but not very lucrative. I know that there is a Fan Fiction market for just about everything these days, but his writing style doesn't really give him much in way of becoming a popular Fan Fiction writer (if there is such a thing). However, he has figured out recently that his stories are significantly better if he doesn't explain EVERYTHING.

Well, I hope that Nathan's life does begin to head in the direction that he wants it to go. Today, after we woke up, we talked some more, and waited for Jason, who came at around 2:30pm. Then, We waited for Sam, one of Nathan's City of Heroes friends who just happens to live in Portland, which meant that we stood out in the cold until 7:30 pm when Sam got off the Maxx after 3 hours of travel through Portland (the Maxx and buses have been running about 2 hours off schedule since the black out).

At one point, Jason and I separated and bought Taco Bell, which also gave us an opportunity to discuss Nathan. Nathan has really thrown in the towel to recieving his GED, and it doesn't seem like any of the efforts made by me and Jason are really helping him. In fact, it seems like the more we talk about it, the less he cares. It's not that he's rebelling against what we're saying, it's just that more opportunities we give him to discuss his complaints toward PCC and the whole situation that he fell into in High School, the more he feels that he's made no mistakes and that the world owes him something for messing up his life. Really, it was his own apathy that has put him in this situation, and he has no one to blame other than himself for not calling the school to tell them he had mono and not that he'd unenrolled, but he seems to think that by doing nothing things will fix themselves.

Well, Jason and I didn't get together to complain about Nathan, we sat down to discuss how we can help him. Both Jason and I have been trying to be Nathan's cheering squad, trying to reassure him that we're there for him and we can help him to have a better future. But, with these new developments in his behavior, it seems like the two of us should just step aside and let him do whatever he wants. He will always be his friends, but there's only so much energy we can pour into him before we start to lose track of our own lives. At this point, we'll still help him whenever he asks, but it's time for us to let him go. Even Michelle, his girlfriend, is halting the pressure she's been putting on him to get his GED and come to SOU with me. It just seems like it's not really a goal he's very dedicated to.

So, after Sam came, we started up a Shadowrun and had to end really early, because my Mom came in her second new car of the month (she bought a 2000 Ford Taurus a week or so ago and traded that in today for a 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix). It turns out that when she went in for a second key to the Taurus, the dealers offered her 2 new cars (a 2006 Grand Prix and a 2005 Kia Spectrum) in exchange for the two old cars (both bought at that dealership). It seems that when all the legal documents were signed and all the loans refinanced, my family agreed to pay $200 dollars more than all the previous loans (which have been erased and integrated into the refinancing of these new loans) and has a lower interest rate than before. I guess the dealer gave them twice what they paid for the other car when they traded it in, which paid off the remaining debt on my father's car, which was then traded in for the 2005 Kia, which put the oustanding loan at 100 dollars above the previous debt. Then, I don't really know why, but probably related to the fact that we hadn't yet made a payment on Mom's new car, the 2006 Grand Prix simply became the new model for Mom's debt, and the price was only 100 dollars more. I don't really understand how it all worked out, but in the end it became a much better deal for my family...and I don't really know why the dealership proposed the idea in the first place. I think it was because my family is a regular customer and there seems to be issues with the Taurus that might have come back to them to cause some reputation damage (at least that's my theory, which isn't grounded in anything more than some weird noises and pings and faulty gas guages on both of the cars that we had previously purchased from there).

Well, that would have been the end of my night, if I hadn't had to pause this entry about halfway through as I heard some commotion from the living room. My sister was about to leave with her boyfriend to go back home when she was talking to my mom in the living room. The conversation suddenly stopped and my sister started saying, "Mom? Mom? MOM!" and then there was a loud scream from my sister and then a thud. I rushed out of the room and saw my mom's head in my sister's lap and tears running down her face. She started screaming out for Dad, which caused me to run down the hall to wake Dad from his sleep. I calmly explained the situation as we came out of the bedroom, saying that Mom had fainted and was pale, which instantly caused him to rush out past me. Sometimes, in all the fighting that goes on in my house, I wonder if my parents still love each other, but then in moments of distress like the one we just had, I see the look of terror on my father's face when the idea of losing my mother comes, and I realize that my father may not be the best at showing it, but he does love my mom.

Anyway, so we both came into the living room and my Dad instantly dropped to the floor, touching my Mom's face and said, "Tammy!" which caused my Mom to arise from her unconscienceness. She looked at all of us, and seeing the tears running down Leah's face, and the sobbing, asked, "What happened?" Leah explained how they were talking and then Mom just got very pale and passed out. Mom was silent and then said that she was very tired and tried to lay down. There were several questions and comments, and I brought a pillow at Mom's request. It turns out that Mom, since her surgery, has found that she never feels the urge to eat anymore (one of the side effects of Gastral By-pass surgery) and so sometimes forgets to eat. In the last 24 hours, my Mom had a bowl of cereal, which was eaten about 20 minutes before she collapsed. We all relaxed as some color came back to her face and she eventually came to complete consciousness, but Dad made her promise to eat more frequently. I remember that my Mom was diagnosed with Low blood sugar before her surgery, which I bet has gotten worse now, so that was probably the reason behind the paleness.

But, things are better now, Mom is back to full capacity, and I'm just finishing my LiveJournal update. I have church tomorrow, and I get to talk about Unity, so I should probably go to bed right now so that I will be completely awake later when I get up to plan the talk. Maybe I'll include something about today's experience or maybe I'll just stick to the upcoming annual Californi Christmas party stories to illustrate my point. Either one really expresses how Unity is important for all situations.

Hope your holidays are bright. Monday (at least I think its monday) I leave for California, so I might not write much. Hope your holidays are merry and bright, though I'm not sure if I should wish for your Christmases to be white. Always remember that I love everyone. Also, always keep in mind that you can help all those around you, because there is no I in Unity.
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Alucard and Guns

ESA ESSAY

In the book of Genesis, we read that Adam was given dominion over all the beasts of the earth. From the insects that creep, to the fish that swim in the sea, to fowls that fly in the air, Adam was given stewardship of all the creations of God. One hundred generations have passed since then, and still man strives with all his might to defend and rehabilitate those animals lesser than himself, those that he was commanded to have dominion over by the Great Creator.
In recent years, the United States government, a government seeped in the traditional religionism of its Puritan founders, instituted the Endangered Species Act in order to fulfill the command given unto their primary founding father before he was exiled from the Garden of Eden. As it stood in that paradise, that the greatest of beasts would be the caretaker of the lesser beasts, so it began to stand that the greatest of nations would set the precedent in obedience and caring for the disintegrating populations of its lesser animals.
For 30 years this act has stood, unrivaled by any other legislation in terms of fighting for threatened species, but a letter dated 27 February 2006 sheds light into the the possibility that this bill may not be fulfilling all the duties that it claimed, and has inadvertently caused dire consequences in its failure.
The letter written to Senator James Inhofe, signed by several senators and representatives in the United States congress, as well as many concerned US citizens, proposes the idea that the Endangered Species Act has failed to recovery any more than one percent of the proposed endangered or threatened species, as well as inadvertently depriving private landowners of access to their lands, a consequence that has lost billions of dollars in bureaucracy and destruction. Using emotionally stimulating arguments, they suggest that landowners should get just compensation for their seized lands, as well as suggesting more timely consideration of land for use as a wildlife refuge.
To the extent necessary, the authors of the 27 February letter argue that the ESA has failed in its purposes. The one purpose of they ESA, as they outline in the letter, was the recovery of endangered and threatened species of animal. Facts have shown that some progress in tending the garden has been made, but not to the extent for which the ESA framers had hoped. Consequently, the enactment of the legislation has led to a bureaucratic system that sometimes depraves private landowners for so long that they sterilize their farms in order to get out from under its grasp. Because the land is suitable for endangered species’ inhabitation, the bureaucracy institutes severe land restrictions and loss of property value, which tends to hurt the greater beasts commanding those properties.
As the letter suggests, 90% of all habitations involving endangered species, fall in private properties, which becomes a punishment for those landlords as the ESA bureaucracy proceeds to commandeer the land. It is fear of these situations that cause they aforementioned sterilizations, which injure more lesser beasts than the ESA can protect. As the cycle continues, the ESA is weakened, its incentives mocked, and its purposes spit upon. Like a martyr, its ways are being condemned and massacred, and like a lamb, it is being led quietly to the slaughter.
And so it is that a proposal has been made to resurrect this dying law by placing it in greater conjunction with the Fifth Amendment of the US constitution. It has been proposed that any land taken by federal recovery efforts should be compensated at 100% of its fair market value. While this is a well-intended proposal, it lacks consideration of the lands’ potential productivity, such productivity that would have been considered by the landowner before the purchase. It has been stated that if property owners were secure in their belief that being good stewards would not incur financial loss, then they would follow the ESA’s regulations and species would benefit, but a 200% fair market compensation would sure this argument more fully. Understanding that land is not stolen but bought by the fearful ESA bureaucrats would ease private landowners into obedience and consequently reduce the amount of sterilizations.
With this new proposal of 200% fair market compensation, landowners would be more willing to wait for ESA bureaucratic decision-making processes. If the land is pronounced as suitable, and thus commandeered, the private owner might find gain in the motion, and this finding the patience to wait, even if the process takes years. During which time a landowner would continue to pay taxes for the unused land, but any lost revenue would be regained were the land to be purchased for federal recovery efforts.
Consequently, proposing a 200% fair market compensation might increase the delay in bureaucratic decision-making processes, because significantly more money would be exchanging hands. In such circumstances, the private landowner might find himself paying taxes and then not compensated if his land were deemed unsuitable or unnecessary federal recovery efforts. This lengthened waiting time might inadvertently cause more sterilizations. Thus, the only option would be to cap waiting times by establishing a time limit for the Department of Interior to govern its decision-making. Such caps may inflict injury upon the government institution, but the success of the Endangered Species Act would be the redeeming factor of this proposed policy.
In conclusion, bringing the ESA more inline with the US constitution would bring more private landowners in line with the call to curate the beasts of the earth. Reformations to the ESA have been proposed and the future of global compliance rests in congressional hands. As Americans decide how to proceed with the law, mankind will start the mold of fulfilling the commandments it was given over five centuries ago.