Monthly Archives: January 2008Page 1 of 5 (48 posts)

General disclaimer for pre-2010 posts: I've changed a lot over the years, and posts this old may not represent my views anymore.

Flash mob for a prophet

From the LDS Newsroom via NorthTemple: A flash mob of teenagers wore Sunday dress to school on Monday in honor of President Hinckley.

Preparing for school on Monday morning took a different turn for thousands of teenage Mormon students who, some 12 hours earlier, had learned of the death of their Church president, Gordon B. Hinckley.

The students responded to a flood of text messages from teens in at least six states, suggesting they arrive at school in their “Sunday best,” rather than their accustomed jeans or other casual clothes, as a symbol of respect and honor to their deceased leader.

I knew there’d been a lot of texting going on, but I hadn’t heard about this. Very cool. (And it’s also very cool that the Church newsroom would even cover this. Times are definitely changing. :))

General disclaimer for pre-2010 posts: I've changed a lot over the years, and posts this old may not represent my views anymore.

Of stopwatches and unicycles

So, I have a small paper due tomorrow. Until this evening, I hadn’t done anything about it — I figured I’d just put it off until there was no longer any more off to put. That’s what I usually do.

But somehow, miraculously, the planets aligned and tonight I ended up getting the paper done. A full day early. (Yes, this means the end of the world is nigh, so tie up whatever loose ends you’ve got in your life. I’m giving us a few weeks at most. :P)

The most interesting part is how darn good it feels to get stuff done — especially early. Why don’t I do this more often? (With schoolwork, that is.) What kind of benefit do I get from procrastination? None, really. Or at least none that I can think of at the moment. All I get is yet another “undone” tag stuffed into my head, taking up precious brain RAM, and a dollop of stress that grows as each deadline nears. It’s not worth it.

This will be the semester where I try an experiment: doing work early, all term long. I’ve “tried” this before but it’s never lasted very long. I always have a plethora of beautiful excuses — my art, my writing, other projects, you name it — and those are good things, but I feel so much more at one with myself and the universe (which puts me in a better position to do those good things) when I put first things first.

Yes, that’s it: it’s all about balance and doing the important things before the not-so-important things. Something inside me can tell when I’m off-kilter. That same something can also tell when I get back in line, and boy does it feel good.

I’m starting to write a mission statement for myself — more as a constant reminder than anything else, to help me avoid slacking off — and I can already tell that balance is going to be a biggie. It matters.

General disclaimer for pre-2010 posts: I've changed a lot over the years, and posts this old may not represent my views anymore.

Season for hymns

Earlier today I came across an interesting post on the Mormon Artists Group blog:

What will the hymnal of 2043 be like?

If the evolution of our hymnbook is any indicator, the 2043 book will have many new voices….

Hymnals are a reflection of the church’s population. They contain the creative ideas of average church members elevated through the arts of music and literature but made sacred by their prominent use in our worship….

With that trajectory, won’t the 2043 hymnal include melodies from Argentina, Samoa, Russia, and Nigeria too? Won’t the Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, Sibelius, and Vaughn Williams scores be joined by the world’s greatest modern composers? Will Stravinsky, Copland, Britten, Bernstein, and Messiaen appear? The pattern of our history says yes.

I, for one, welcome the idea that my children (who will be merely my age in 2043) will sing the testimonies of people whose landscapes were starkly different from Mormon pioneers of the American West. I want them to sing the hymns of African, South American, and Asian LDS songwriters. I fully expect them to sing harmonies and rhythms that would have sounded completely wrong to my grandparents. We call that inclusion. It is the anthem of progress.

A very good question. Down in the comments, Dan Carter (who has typeset hymns for the Church for the last twenty years, and yes, I want his job ;)) has a good counterbalance explaining why such a hymnbook is unlikely.


Speaking of hymns, by the way, the annual Church music submissions are due March 31, so if you’re itching to send something in, now’s the time to get on that. The last time (er, the only time :)) I submitted something was in 2005. But this year, I’m definitely going to write something, so help me. Both in the general music category and in the hymn text category, in fact.

(On the same note, the Daily Universe ran a story about the Church music festival not too long ago, along with a piece on two BYU students who write hymns.)

Anyway, let the hymnwriting begin…

General disclaimer for pre-2010 posts: I've changed a lot over the years, and posts this old may not represent my views anymore.

One note at a time

I used to compose music a lot back in 2000 and 2001. (Well, by “a lot” I mean more than I’m composing now. :)) But since then I’ve written hardly anything.

It’s not that I haven’t tried. I’ve got dozens of false starts — four or five measures of piano music here, the beginnings of a song there — but only a single finished piece since 2002.

I’m still not sure why I’ve got this musician’s block (figuring that out is one of my smaller resolutions for this year), but the excuse I’m using :) is that I don’t have a piano in my apartment. And yet I do have GarageBand on my Mac, and it’s totally possible to compose using the keyboard feature (at least according to Patrick Stump), so I don’t know what’s stopping me. Real artists don’t let tool limitations keep them from creating.

As for what I want to write, my compositional tastes seem to gravitate towards musicals, religious music, and orchestral/soundtrack/classical. I think I need to start analyzing songs and pieces of music I admire, picking them apart and seeing what makes them tick. And I want to brush up on my music theory. I love music theory. :)

Anyway, whatever hangup I’ve got, this year it’s going to go bye-bye, the same way I bid adieu last year to my inhibitions about writing a novel. All it takes is one chink to open the way to victory.

General disclaimer for pre-2010 posts: I've changed a lot over the years, and posts this old may not represent my views anymore.

We thank thee for a prophet

President Hinckley died an hour or two ago.

So far I haven’t been able to verify it, but it’s all over the place (it brought down my cell phone network at least three times in the last half-hour), and apparently it was on Channel 4 here in Provo. Deseret News’s website is getting pounded, though — I’ve been waiting for five minutes for it to load and still all I get is a blank page with the little rotating thingie. But googling “Gordon Hinckley dies” brings up a Deseret News article and a Salt Lake Tribune article. So it’s real.

Darn. He was my prophet, for the last thirteen years. I found out during our ward prayer, when two of my friends walked out halfway through saying they’d gotten a text that he’d died. Everyone else got a flurry of texts after that, and the girl next to me said it had been on Channel 4 earlier. At first I thought it was a joke — sure, Pres. Hinckley died, right. He’s immortal, silly. But then the corroborating evidence piled in and a shockwave hit me. Dead. He’s dead. My prophet is dead. I mean, sure, there’ll be another one, and President Monson will do a smashing job, but this is the first time I’ve been old enough to really care when the prophet died.

And yet I’m happy for him. He’s back with his wife again — that’s what matters.

It’s still hard to believe. I knew this day would come, but wow. What a way to dampen a day. But it really is a bittersweet kind of feeling — it’s weird but it’s right. He was 97, after all.


General disclaimer for pre-2010 posts: I've changed a lot over the years, and posts this old may not represent my views anymore.

Goose girl

Last night I finished Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl, and wow, it’s good. Spun into a novel from the Grimms’ fairy tale of the same name, Goose Girl easily pulled me into its world, coaxing me with a love potion that’s got me head over heels for its characters and its story. This book is so well done. It’s beautifully written, the magic is delightfully plausible, and it perfectly captures the fairy tale feel. I love this book.

And the fact that Shannon is LDS is icing on the cake. Is it just me, or is there a new, rising generation of LDS authors — Hale, Brandon Sanderson, etc. — who all seem to be writing primarily science fiction/fantasy for general audiences? It’s almost as if they’re Orson Scott Card’s literary children, so to speak. Not meaning that they necessarily write like him — just that they’re LDS and do sci-fi/fantasy. (Which does makes perfect sense, at least to me. Card’s got a great essay in Storyteller in Zion which talks about Mormonism and science fiction being intertwined.)

Speaking of Orson Scott Card, I’ve already blocked out Feb. 14-16 for this year’s Life, the Universe & Everything conference, at which both Card and Gail Carson Levine (of Ella Enchanted fame, and no, she’s not LDS) will be present, along with Brandon Sanderson and a dozen or two others. It’ll be good. Geeky, too, but good. ;)

General disclaimer for pre-2010 posts: I've changed a lot over the years, and posts this old may not represent my views anymore.

Hire me, or the terrorists win!

  1. Tonight I tried out speed dating for the first time. (It was a ward activity.) Holy smokes, I loved it! I love getting to know people and making new friends, and I love talking (perhaps too much, but to my credit I also love listening, though anyone who knows me would have a hard time believing that :P). Five minutes per girl, roughly, which ended up being 20 or so girls. (For the first half there were more girls than guys, so at one point I was talking with six girls at once. While it was rather fun, I can see why polygamy died out. :P) I’ve noticed something interesting, by the way: going on dates usually makes me want to go on more.

  2. Today’s Non Sequitur is awesome:

Non Sequitur (1.25.08)
  1. I used to use a lot, but six months ago I somehow stopped, and I don’t know why. I mean, I use my home computer and my work computer and I often use lab computers, and it’s a pain not having a central location for bookmarks. (Yes, I’ve been re-googling everything when I need to get to it. Talk about a waste of time.) So I’ve reinstalled the bookmarklets and plan to get back into the groove.
  2. There’s a cool 1971 BBC radio interview with J.R.R. Tolkien on YouTube.

Ten points to whoever can find a connection between all four of these. (And no, there isn’t one. At least not that I’m aware of.)

General disclaimer for pre-2010 posts: I've changed a lot over the years, and posts this old may not represent my views anymore.

Head to head

Wow. This is awesome. Like, mind-bogglingly cool. It’s Johnny Lee’s hack for the Wii that uses the remote’s infrared camera to do head tracking (thanks to NorthTemple for the link).

Wii Head Tracking

Holy smokes. Sure, it only works for the person wearing the glasses, but still. I got goosebumps watching it.

Not only that, but Johnny’s got two other projects — a low-cost whiteboard (brilliant!) and finger tracking ala Minority Report. And on his academics page, you can check out his video on foldable interactive displays.

Why am I not doing HCI? :)

General disclaimer for pre-2010 posts: I've changed a lot over the years, and posts this old may not represent my views anymore.

Writing implement of choice

Today I saw a blog post on writing a book in Google Docs. Interesting. One of the things that stuck out to me was the <div> hack to rein in the line lengths — that’s one of the things that has bothered me about Google Docs, and yet somehow I never thought to just edit the HTML. It’s brilliant.

In general, though, I write in a text editor — TextMate if I’m on my Mac, Wordpad if I’m on Windows, Vim if I’m on Linux. I can’t use anything too bulky or too slow, anything that gets in the way. And so text editors are the way to go. While I do think I’ll start making backups of my writing in Google Docs (right now I backup to my personal wiki, which also works, but redundancy is a very good thing), I don’t really see myself doing the actual writing there. Still too much of a barrier. (Yeah, I’m weird. ;))

Anyway, I’ve mentioned this at least twice before, but I really, really, really love writing in lightweight text editors. It makes me happy. Not only is it fast, but it’s portable — pretty much every computer on earth has at least a text editor.

But today in the lunch line I used a more portable system: the notebook. (Paper, that is. :)) I was standing there mulling over this new play I’m writing (and I finally snagged an idea last night and have some direction with it), when I realized that nothing was stopping me from drafting a page or two of dialogue while I was there. So I did. And it was great. I love being a writer. :)

Hmm, I’m not sure if this post is worth posting — my brain shut down around five o’clock this afternoon — but whatever. I’ll have a review of Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl up in a day or two when I finish reading it.

General disclaimer for pre-2010 posts: I've changed a lot over the years, and posts this old may not represent my views anymore.

Area eccentric reads entire book

From Fire & Knowledge, this lovely article from The Onion, headlined Area Eccentric Reads Entire Book:

Sitting in a quiet downtown diner, local hospital administrator Philip Meyer looks as normal and well-adjusted as can be. Yet, there’s more to this 27-year-old than first meets the eye: Meyer has recently finished reading a book.

Even outdoors, Meyer can’t seem to think of anything better to do than flip through some American classic.

Yes, the whole thing.

“It was great,” said the peculiar Indiana native, who, despite owning a television set and having an active social life, read every single page of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee….

Meyer, who never once jumped ahead to see what would happen and avoided skimming large passages of text in search of pictures, first began his oddball feat a week ago. Three days later, the eccentric Midwesterner was still at it, completing chapter after chapter, seemingly of his own free will.

“The whole thing was really engrossing,” said Meyer, referring not to a movie, video game, or competitive sports match, but rather a full-length, 288-page novel filled entirely with words. “There were days when I had a hard time putting it down.”

I’m LOLing. :)