Trust the Gene Genie

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Iraq. U.S. foriegn policy. The Bush administration. I guess when it comes to my feelings on the matter, Thomas Friedman usually sums them up perfectly. In today's New York Times he wrote the following. For me, it illustrated the problem perfectly. I wish more people were reading Friedman, I wish more administration officials were putting into practice his advice.

"What is terrifying is that the noble sacrifice of our soldiers, while never in vain, may not be enough. We may actually lose in Iraq. The vitally important may turn out to be the effectively impossible.

"We may lose because of the defiantly wrong way that Donald Rumsfeld has managed this war and the cynical manner in which Dick Cheney, George Bush and - with some honorable exceptions - the whole Republican right have tolerated it. Many conservatives would rather fail in Iraq than give liberals the satisfaction of seeing Mr. Rumsfeld sacked. We may lose because our Arab allies won't lift a finger to support an election in Iraq - either because they fear they'll be next to face such pressures, or because the thought of democratically elected Shiites holding power in a country once led by Sunnis is anathema to them.

"We may lose because most Europeans, having been made stupid by their own weakness, would rather see America fail in Iraq than lift a finger for free and fair elections there.

"As is so often the case, the statesman who framed the stakes best is the British prime minister, Tony Blair. Count me a 'Blair Democrat.' Mr. Blair, who was in Iraq this week, said: 'Whatever people's feelings or beliefs about the removal of Saddam Hussein and the wisdom of that, there surely is only one side to be on in what is now very clearly a battle between democracy and terror. On the one side you have people who desperately want to make the democratic process work, and want to have the same type of democratic freedoms other parts of the world enjoy, and on the other side people who are killing and intimidating and trying to destroy a better future for Iraq.'"

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

There are few things that will drive me to write. That's why I'd never make a very good columnist, I never really have anything to say. At least, not bad enough that I feel compelled to write it. The infrequency with which I write on the blog should be proof of that.

Anyway. I happen to be writing today. Apple announced the new U2 iPod. It's awesome. It's also $350. I'm so in the wrong profession. On top of the iPod, U2 is releasing a digital box set of 400 songs plus and handful of rare and unreleased material. That'll set you back $150. That I can do.

So yeah, I'm bemoaning the fact that I'm poor. Poor because I chose a profession that I love rather than a profession that pays, I chose to have kids and my wife chose to stay home with them. And that's why I can't be mad that I'm not rolling in the dough. I wouldn't really change what I would do (though I can hope for employment at one of the big five) nor would I change my family. So I'm happy, I can't argue that. But I still don't $350 for the U2 iPod and that's the kicker.

"Your love gives me such a thrill, but your love won't pay my bills, I want money. That's what I want." Lucas understands.

(I promise I'll never reference "Empire Records" again.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

We were watching the Olympics last night and Becky fell asleep on the couch. It was probably 9:30. Not that I was really watching either. I had "Lenin's Tomb" and was reading until I heard some kind of crowd reaction and then I would look up to see what was going on. Last night was kind of drab.

Anyway, by about 10:45, I'm sprawled out on the floor with my book and Becky's completely spread out on the couch snoring. Sudenly she sits up and blinks, looks down at me and says, "You know what we should do?"

I put my finger in my book, look up and say, "What?"

She pulls on the back of my shirt, half exposing my back and replies, "We should give you a back massage with oil."

I start to laugh and she then says, "But we only have cooking oil and that could be messy."

She then lays back down and is sound a sleep. Every so often she talks in her sleep and its usually pretty funny. She's completely coherent, you'd think she was wide awake. And then when you ask her about it the next morning, she has no memory of it. She laughed pretty hard when I told her this morning she was offering to rub me down with cooking oil.

The funny thing is, usually, when she talks in her sleep, its just abstract words. It's never anything that you could have a two sided conversation with. Until last night. That was pretty funny.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Becky and I took Claire to meet her preschool teacher today. The teacher was kind of old. But that's beside the point. It was kind of a surreal experience. I guess like everyone else who takes thier oldest kid to their first whatever, I don't feel old enough to be doing it. Yet at the same time, it felt kind of natural. So explain that.

Claire was in her element. She hopped from station to station, playing with markers and play dough and dolls and kitchen toys. She'll start class on Monday. Then she'll actually be with kids her age and that's when the spam will hit the fan. She likes to boss her friends around. In fact, she keeps telling this poor kid Jason that he will marry her when they grow up. But Jason is already sworn to one of Claire's friends who moved to Seattle last spring. They fight about it every time they see each other. Jason will, however, still hold Claire's hand. So he gets points for that.

Parenthood, while still one of the most statisfying and gratifying things I've ever done, is one of the wierdest experiences I've ever had. And I lived in Mexico for two years.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Well, I did the unthinkable today. In a spare moment I Googled "Skutch." Interesting side note, there's an Australian punk band named Skutch. But sure enough, the MSN Communities page for the Skutch guys pulled up and I went and checked it out.

Aside from seeing that Garrett apparently got married, it was about what I expected. I suppose the regretable thing, either in a fit of nostalgia or self-pity, I applied for membership. I always swore when I left high school, I'd leave it for good. Partly because that was the "cynical" thing to do and I desperately wanted to be cynical in high school. It made me aloof and grown-up. Ironically of course I was neither.

So let me explain. Skutch was the name for our group of friends at Davis High. I don't even know if I dare say "our." I was accepted into the group at the end of my junior year -- the year I began attending Davis and many months after the group officially formed. Most of the guys that originally made up Skutch had been friends since kindergarten or before. But a few outsiders were able to slip in because of the high school's demogrpahic. Students at Davis either lived in Farmington or Kaysville. Skutch was the melding of two groups of boyhood friends -- one from Farmington, the other from Kaysville. So if you weren't from either, you could just kind of slip in through the cracks.

At the time, I loved Skutch. The group was atypical for high school. The guys in the group had yet to have their first kiss, sarcasm and dry wit were the most important traits to embody and most important they bucked the trends, the fads, the trappings of high school life through bizarre and attention-getting stunts at assemblies and in the hallways between class. Having moved from a high school in Colorado where the in-crowd was the only crowd, I lived for mocking and sending-up the status quo.

But for the same reason, many despised Skutch. The group was seen as arrogant and preppy -- you know, too cool for school. And in a lot of respects we were. But Skutch allowed us to be cool without having to bandwagon with the in-crowd.

Anyway, the group survived graduation. We had a newsletter of sorts that cirrculated while we were all on our missions. I ended up attending college at BYU and few of the Skutch guys were there. So I kept in touch. But when I finally graduated from college, that was it. I had heard that some of the guys had started the MSN page, but I never joined. It was a lot of hassle, but deep down I think it was because I always felt like I was never truly a part of Skutch because I hadn't grown up in Farmington or Kaysville. Some of my best friends in high school ame out of the group, but the Skutch ringleaders I never got close to.

And yet, coming across that same MSN page today, I felt compelled to sign up. I'm 10 years out of high school. In fact, I missed the 10 year class reunion -- in part because I wanted to maintain that aloofness I believed made me cool 10 years ago. But I think I missed it because I was nervous I'd show up and realize I'm not that close to the Skutch guys, which means the good friends I thought I had in high school, I didn't really have and in the end I was just a geek, a wannabe. so maybe joining the Skutch community is my way of testing the waters, finding out if I really do have a place or not with these guys. The most distrubing thing to me is realizing 10 years out, I'm still feeling compelled to find that acceptance. How strange.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I can post as often as I like. It's not like anybody reads it. I had an epiphany ... last night? two nights ago? I don't remember. But the moment of enlightenment went something like this:

Thinking about how to make my life more pious, I realized the time had come to give up my wholesale love of all things pop culture. I'm obsessed with movies, music and television. Not to mention news and current events. I have three or four web sites I read every day to make sure I was up on the latest possible scrap of info or rumor coming out of the entertainment industry. Which in itself isn't such a problem. But I got to thinking about who I wanted to be, you know, the kind of man I wanted to become and then thought about the guys I admired, the pious ones I looked up to and I realized they're not tapped into pop culture, they're tapped into other things.

And so I thought, has the time come? Is this what I need to do to reach the next plane? And I realized it probably is. It's not to say I can't enjoy movies anymore or give up U2, I just needed to scale it all back, keep it moderation. I'm not going to die if I'm not the first person to hear some odd casting rumor or the news of the next Star Wars movie. Though, maybe I will. To let it go, let it fade away.

I then wondered what on earth would I do to replace the hole in my life I would have if I gave up my obsession with pop culture. I mean, on a practical level, what do I physically do?

That's when I had the epiphany. I don't need to do anything. I just need to scale it back and let the rest take care of itself. So, that's my plan. Scale back my consumption and let the rest take care of itself.

I'm not about to kid myself and believe it's that easy. I mean, movies, music, that's who I am, that's who I've been for 20 years -- yes, since I was at least 8 years old. I loved getting into my older brother's Billy Joel tapes as a kid and I can vividly remember the first handful of movies I saw in the theater as a child.

So it'll be hard, but not impossible. And the end result will be ... I guess, in a few years -- more likely a few decades -- me as a more pious person . It will be me a little more like Henry B. Eyering or Dallin H. Oaks or Jeffrey R. Holland, which is a good thing.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

The refrain in U2's anthemic "Bad" goes, "Let it go/And so fade away." Bono's singing about drug addiction, but I think the idea holds true for a lot of things. Let something go and it will stop afflicting you.

A good friend of mine, Guy Wilcox, used to tell me to "sell my summer home in Babylon." He was my boss the five years I did landscaping at Lagoon Amusement Park and the two of us, as we planted flowers, trees, laid sod or just drove around the park, would often talk about the things all of us had to do to improve ourselves.

As I'm faced with that challenge like never before, his voice still rings in my ears and I can hear him tell me to "sell my summer home in Babylon," to give up those little sinful indulgences to which I cling, which in turn stops me from progressing. It's no new notion. We all have them. And because we enjoy them, they really are hard to give up. Especially because we do other good things and thus can rationalize holding onto the bad. But the time has come to let it go and let it fade away.

I need to talk more about Guy. He died last month of a rare stomach cancer and writing about him makes me think about him and that's good.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Life comes in waves. It's amazing that one week of non-events can lead to the next week of life-altering experiences.

"(I) wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today."

And I'm glad. I'm glad that its unpredictable and that it changes and that unexpected events, be they good or bad, can bring unexpected consequences both good and bad. I just want the good to out-weigh the bad. But i suppose its the bad that builds character, that makes us stronger, better people. And before this gets too cliched and metaphysical, I'm going to stop.

I will say this, though. Life would be empty, life would be hollow if it were spent alone. Thank goodnes for a spouse who knows and understands me and thank goodness for two little girls who giggle and tease and call me Mustard and Hot Dog because they think that's funny. Who are we kidding, it is funny.

Friday, April 09, 2004

I have two daughters. One's a 3-year-old blonde, Claire, who is completely nuts and the other's a 1-year-old troublemaker, Leigh. Complete troublemaker. Turn your back for three seconds and she has a fistfull of dirt already inside her mouth while sitting precarioulsy close to the edge of the counter she's just climbed.

The point. I was putting them to bed tonight and Claire was an emotional wreck. She hadn't had a nap so she was at that point of exhaustion when failing to look at her while she speaks sends her into a full-blown tantrum. Anyway. She won't just go down. She has to have her three favorite stuffed animals, her favorite books, three songs sung to her in a specific order and she has to plug in her night-light herself, turn off the room light and shut the door. It's a freaking production putting her to bed.

So tonight I'm lying her down on her bed and she's crying that she can't find her "purple" book. She has half a dozen purple books, many of which I produce. No. That's not the one she wants. She goes off for five minutes explaining to me the book between sobs, wails and gasps of breath. Keep in mind she's only 3 and doesn't speak really well to begin with. "Claire, you can't climb up there." "Yes I am!" she responds. So the whole time she's crying and describing her book, I'm trying to interpret the banter. A book about a boy. Your purple coloring book. Your purple crayon book. I have no idea what book she wants so I yell at her, tell her to stay in bed and go to sleep. I leave. She balls. I come back yell at her some more and she cries even harder. I can see that the yelling isn't doing what I want it to. Yeah. Who knew. So I finally patch things up, sing her "Twinkle Twinkle" and leave the room. She eventually falls to sleep still mad I didn't know what book she was talking about and probably frustrated out of her 3-year old mind that she can't communicate with the people around her.

Three hours later I go into my room and notice books sitting on the bed. I curiously look through them to see if any match the incoherant descriptions Claire gave me. And then I see "Harold and the Purple Crayon" and put it togehter. I felt terrible because I know had I not been fuming with her hours before and not pushing to get her to sleep, I could have easily figured out she was talking about "Harold and the Purple Crayon." I'm an idiot AND a jerk. No wonder kids have issues with their parents.
So I'm a bandwagon jumper. The idea of a blog sounded fun. So here it is. Of course, if I thought anyone was actually going to read this, I might be more hesitant. But let's be honest, it's the World Wide Web. I'll be lucky if I can talk my own wife into visiting the page.

As a reporter for a major metro daily (read: midsize, midtown publication) I thought this would be a good way to hone my column-writing skills. If it ends up just totally sucking, I and the fat, Reeses Peanutbutter Cup inhaling computer geek who trips onto my blog because the word "SundownerMan" tripped up his flamboyant Florida gay men porn search will know.

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