Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Star-Spangled Banner - modern version

My sister-in-law and I were talking about how the national anthem uses phrases that don't really work anymore, like "oh say". It kind of went downhill from there.
 
Here is the modern version of The Star-Spangled Banner:

Hey dudes, check it out -
Like, this stuff is tots great!
Hashtag USA
LOL, I like our flag.
 
Here are pics of my cat
and a YouTube debate
between Obama
and the right wing, set to rap.

I don't always fight wars,
but when I do, I win.
Hold on for a sec,
while I take a selfie.

tl;dr

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Enough with the “an historical” bit

I hate it when I hear things like “an historical moment” said in an American accent. I hate it more when people actually cite those instances as an exception to the “a-an” rule. The reason why you see “an” in front of words starting with “h” is that in British English that “h” is silent. That’s it. If you’re reading something out loud, you can say “an historical” or “an happy” or whatever. I guess. Otherwise, stop it! (And to be honest, I try to read those things with a British accent. “an ‘istorical”. “an ‘appy’'.)

There. I feel better now.

Understanding People

I've heard from various sources that men can't understand women. I've always had trouble believing this. In fact, I have a hard time believing any generalization about "men are like this" or "women are like that", even though I know that there are some actual differences. The thing is, there are more differences within a given gender than there are between genders. I suspect that the source of most of the perceived barriers of understanding come from the fact that people are more likely to care about relationship issues with the person they're in love with (or attracted to), and they just assume that the issues come from a gender difference. In reality, I think these issues come simply because they're two different people with different perspectives and values.
So in other words, women aren't hard to understand. People are hard to understand. Men just don't feel the need to understand other men as well.

As an example, my wife and I were recently talking about the stereotype about men always wanting to fix things. We both decided that both men and women can be prone to that, and that it’s a natural extension of caring about someone. You hear about a problem that someone has, and you want to fix it. I think the issue here is understanding what the problem is. If someone expresses a problem that they want a solution for, they’ll generally state it as an actual problem. But if they express it in terms of what they feel about it, there’s a good chance that they’re looking for validation of that emotion. They’re unhappy, and they don’t want to be alone in facing the challenge. They might already have a solution in mind, or they might be holding back details of the situation for simplicity – details that would be essential in coming up with an actual situation. Either way, someone looking for validation isn’t going to have any use for a quick solution tossed out there, whether you’re talking about a man or a woman.

So how do you come to understand someone else? I think it comes down to two things: love and communication. If you don't like someone on some level, (and if you don't respect them at least), you won't be invested enough to see the world from their perspective. And if you don't talk about how both of you feel and why, you're not going to understand each other. We send a lot of nonverbal communication, but it's very easy to misinterpret. You have to speak to really communicate. And of course, in order for communication to work, both people have to be introspective enough to understand themselves - what their rational and emotional reasons for doing things are. This does not come naturally to everyone, but it is very important. (Incidentally, it's one of my favorite things about my wife.)

So there you have it. I heretically declare that anyone can understand anyone if they both have a good understanding of themselves, and if they’re willing to communicate openly. (Granted, that’s a lot like saying that anyone can achieve space travel as long as they have a way to warp space-time and a way to power the thing. But not exactly like that.)

Saving Nayru & Din (again)

Since I wasn't prepared to buy a Nintendo 3DS just to get the new Zelda game, I decided to replay Oracle of Ages last Christmas, and later I played Oracle of Seasons as well. I just finished it, so it’s time to vent sentiment.

I've long said that Ages was my second favorite Zelda game after A Link to the Past, largely because of its clever items and very classic Zelda feel. I definitely enjoyed it the second time through, but I noticed that I enjoyed the dungeons (levels, whatever) a lot more than the overworld; I actually found myself sort of rushing through the overworld stuff to get to the next level.

And strangely, I may have actually enjoyed Seasons more this time through. Part of this is because it's even more classic than Ages is; Seasons has all the bosses from the original Legend of Zelda for instance, for instance. And while I remembered Ages for its clever items, Seasons has some pretty unique ones too. The other thing is the map: Ages has essentially double the regular map size, because you can travel between the present and the past. And one of the items expands on a huge part of the map even further, in both times. So I was a little disappointed to find that Subrosia, the “map extension” area in Seasons, is much smaller than the main map. The thing is, though, that the main map is larger in Seasons, and it’s more varied since it’s not just two copies of the same terrain. So there might actually be more to explore in that game.

My final sentiment is about the games’ rings. When I first played the linked game, I carried the Blue Ring (which cuts the damage you do in half) over from Ages, and I used it all throughout Seasons. This time through I completely ignored all of the item-transferring stuff between games. It went okay, too, until the last set of battles. I ended up having to go get the Red Ring (which doubles your attack power) in order to make those battles reasonable. What I’m saying is that the difficulty level spikes pretty drastically at the end.

Both games are very good, and I’m still psyched to play A Link Between Worlds eventually. Let’s hope I finish The Plasma Storm before then, though, because there’s such a thing as too much awesome, at least in terms of time management.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Ice Cream Cones

I’m afraid I’m rather proud of the following.

Ice cream cones don’t taste good. I’m not talking about waffle cones; I’m referring to the normal kind that are basically puffy paper. When you’ve eaten the ice cream above the cone, you want to get the rest, and unless you have a spoon, you condescend to eat the cone down as far as it takes to be able to get at it. There has to be a better way, right?

Yes. There is. And tonight I discovered it. Now, I’ve only done this once, so this might not be as consistently useful as the cupcake trick I mentioned earlier. And it might only work with soft serve, not regular ice cream. But check this out: the top of the cone screws right off!

Ice Cream Cone

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Receipts

It bugs me when I buy something and the cashier asks if I want a copy of the receipt. The thing they give me isn’t a copy of the receipt. It’s the receipt. By definition, a receipt is something the customer receives.

(And yes, I realize that tracking purchases by fishing receipts out of my pocket at the end of the day makes me an old man.)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A wise man once built…

Here’s a thought from a recent lesson I taught to the young men at church.

There’s a well-known parable the Savior taught about the wise man who built his house on a rock, and the foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came and washed away the house on the sand. This emphasizes the importance of building your life on the gospel.

The commonly-used version of this is in Matthew 7. When I first heard this story (and the children’s song based on it), I pictured the foolish man building his house on the beach, and the wise man building his on a cliff overlooking the beach.

WFM1 

This works, I guess, but it kind of evokes the sentiment of “you guys down there are morons; I’m staying up here.” That, of course, may be taking the metaphor too far, but there’s an alternate telling of the parable in Luke 3, which has some interesting differences:

Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:

He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.

But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

The words “and digged deep” change the whole picture. In this version, I see the two houses as being right next to each other. The area has a layer of dirt over bedrock down below. The foolish man just builds the house, and the wise man takes the time to dig down to the bedrock, where he builds a foundation.

WFM2

In this version, the two finished houses would look identical from the outside, with the only observable difference being that the wise man’s house would have taken much longer to build. It’s only when the flood comes that the structural difference becomes clear.

I like this interpretation for a couple of reasons. First, it emphasizes the importance of not only building your personal “foundation” on Christ, but also of doing the work that it takes to build that foundation. You can’t just decide to build on the rock; you have to “dig deep” and “lay a foundation” first. I think that refers to what are often called the “seminary answers” – daily prayer and scripture study, weekly church attendance, and consistently living the gospel. When trials come, if you’ve been doing those things, you will already be close enough to the Holy Spirit to receive the guidance and help you need. If not, it isn’t too late to start, but it’s never easy to build something in the rain.

The other thing I like is that it also emphasizes that you don’t necessarily get to pick the location of your metaphorical house. We all live in the same world, and that’s a good thing. There are people around us who need our help; running and hiding from the world isn’t the same as living the gospel. What’s important isn’t where you live; it’s how.

I guess this shows one other thing: no matter how much you’ve read the scriptures, there’s always something else in there to learn. Hence the importance of consistent study, I guess.