Monthly Archives: March 2005

You can meet some really interesting people smoking at airports. I’m told that Amtrak (which at least used to have smoking cabins) has the same benefit.

Of course, the last time that I lit up at an airport, it was a bad thing because it was at the beginning of a trip that I had designated “non-smoking” that became smoking starting with that light.

But that temptation will now start being a bit removed because lighters will be banned past the security checkpoints at airports. That leaves matches, which I suck at lightning, and apparently even those may be banned as well.

I don’t really know how to feel about this. On one hand, I want a demonstrable threat before our lives are inconvenienced by the government. I don’t mean planes have to blow up first, but I do need it explained to me what danger the lighters pose when not used in conjunction with something that isn’t already banned. I remember that Richard Reid dork tried to do something with fire (matches, I believe), but I can’t remember what.

But yeah, on the other hand, I don’t want a plane to explode (or worse yet, run in to something again) just so that I am not a little inconvenienced.

Interestingly, with the ban in place for lighters in checked luggage, if both lighters and matches are banned from carry-ons, it could make things more than just a little inconvenient for frequent fliers. Having to buy and discard lighters and matches in every town gone through.

Okay, so we’re talking about a whopping 99 cents for people like me that don’t lose lighters with startling regularity.

Yeah, we smokers can be a petty bunch.

And, of course, part of me wonders if this isn’t just another attempt to marginalize smokers. Not that there aren’t security concerns, mind you, but that possible objections were dismissed because “They’re just smokers and they should quit anyway.”

Yeah, we smokers can be a paranoid bunch.

On a last note, Apparently Texas (the source and focus of the article) has more stringent anti-smoking regulations at airports than does Deseret. As Gazelem International Airport in the state’s capital city, they have indoor smoking areas that are closed off (it’s like a fishbowl!). In Houston’s airports, they don’t allow any smoking indoors whatsoever.


Category: Downtown

I haven’t really dug in to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints all that much yet, though there’s certainly more to come. I don’t view the Church is being particularly evil or anything of that sort, but some of the resentment and frustration I do have is summed up pretty well in this article from the Washington Monthly:

Until I attended one, I didn’t fully realize that [the] public schools are essentially an extension of the LDS church. All junior high and high schools in the state […] are arranged so that there is a Mormon seminary building either right next door or across the street. Grade-school kids don’t go to seminary, but they do go to “primary,” a similar after-school program. Mormon students are allowed to take religious classes as part of their public education in these buildings.

There’s been a great deal of litigation over this school set-up, dating as far back as the 1930s, but so long as the seminaries are on private land, there’s nothing illegal about it. Allowing kids out for religious education during the school day has a pernicious effect on public-school life. So many kids leave for these classes that it automatically singles out the few non-Mormons who don’t participate. For one year, I attended a public high school and frequently found myself abandoned in class along with a few Hispanic kids while everyone else trekked over to seminary.

The church stretched into public school life in other ways, too. In high school, I had Mormon bishops as teachers who never missed an opportunity to bring the church into class lectures. Prayers before every event were common and coaches often blessed athletes before sporting events. My swim team would collapse into a crisis if we were expected to compete in meets in [bordering states] on a Sunday. Many of the Mormon kids on my team honestly believed that if they swam on Sunday, the devil would create an undertow that would drown them. Graduation ceremonies were held in Mormon tabernacles, and school choirs sang Mormon religious songs.

Until fairly recently, many public schools annually celebrated “Missionary Week,” when Mormon kids were supposed to come to school dressed up in the uniform of the LDS missionary—which they were all aspiring to be. Non-Mormons might as well have put big signs on their heads that read, “Convert Me.”

The author accurately describes the area as “Unspeakably beautiful.” Driving around today reminded me of that. Clancy is a real nature lover and it’s not hard to see why she fell in love with this place (if not its people). It’s also, by all accounts, an outstanding place to raise a family… if you’re LDS.

When residency is up, we won’t be staying in Deseret. It’s not because we dislike the Mormons or even because of some of the states policies (some of which do an extraordinary job of helping folks walk the straight-and-narrow). We don’t have access to a number of “public” parks because they’re private parks for public use and we’re not the public they have in mind. I we have kids here, they won’t be able to play little league. They’ll be on the team, but they won’t play. Once it becomes obvious that they aren’t going to convert (assuming they wouldn’t), they’ll also disappear from social circles. There was a “super-Christian” social circle back in Delosa, but out here it’s so much more far reaching.

It’s not cause they’re jerks. Almost all of my coworkers are LDS to one degree or another and we get along fine. So are our landlords. But their social life is built around a club that we’re not a part of. The social norms and laws are set up for believers of a faith that is not ours. This state was founded by Mormons and for Mormons. We’re just tourists.

We knew that, of course, before we came here. And we’re happy here. But maybe you just have to see the snowcapped mountains and green fields to understand what a tragedy it is that we’ve no stake to claim here personally, culturally, or religiously.

Category: Church

I wrote a comment on an April Fool post talking about loves past and present. Both her post and the comments are worth reading.

The subject got me thinking about one of the women I was going to spend the rest of my life with… and the one that I eventually managed.

All things considered, my ex Evangeline and I dated for way too long. Shortly after we got together one of her exes re-entered the picture. Things got messy when she left me for him, he left her for someone else, and I took her back. They never recovered. We rapidly found the locus of power in our relationship to be firmly on her shoulders. That made me feel powerless and her feel burdened. I was always mad and she was always aloof.

The biggest issue was that she stood me up over and over again. I eventually started keeping a spreadsheet. I can tell you with a reasonable degree of accuracy that in the last six months of the affair she showed up on time 12% of the time, 8% of the time she was within an hour, and 13% of the time she was within two hours. When she wasn’t within two hours, 7% of the time she actually showed, 41% of the time she did not show up but called to let me know she wouldn’t, and 52% of the time she did not show up, did not call, and most of that time (I don’t have stats for this) she would avoid me for a few days.

I’m not trying to demonize her. She was going through a lot herself. My behavior was not helping a thing. On one hand it was obvious that I was completely devoted to her. On the other hand I kept telling her that I couldn’t take it anymore. She said that she might start being more reliable if she wasn’t so worried about making me angry. I said I might stop getting angry if she’d stop standing me up.

So why did we both stick around? Because we loved each other. To this day I believe we did.

Flash forward a couple of years and I meet my now-wife Clancy at a Christmas party. It was a long distance relationship, but we made it work. The most amazing thing wasn’t how much I felt as quickly as I did – and I felt a lot, very quickly – but how easy it was. How she would come down on weekends when she said she would and she was able. How I wasn’t mad at all when she had to cancel. How problems were brought up and remediated quickly.

That’s not to say we never had disagreements. We still do. It’s also not to say we’ve always been perfect to one another. We haven’t. There were a couple times when we almost parted ways. The issues we dealt with were sometimes very difficult, but the relationship itself never has been.

What a lot of people don’t seem to understand is that relationships are not just about whether you love someone or how much you do. It’s about how you love that person. It’s about what that love motivates you to do. It’s about who it motivates you to be.

Within weeks of meeting Clancy, I realized that she made me want to be perfect. Or at the least as good a man as I could possibly be. From the moment I realized that to the day of our wedding day was a long, winding technicality.

Category: Coffeehouse

Clancy and I live in a little basement apartment in a bedroom community just outside of town. The rent is fantastic and our landlords are great. The only problem is that the washer/dryer is located in the basement so whenever it has to be done, they come down.

It also means, as it did this weekend, when I’m revving up to do laundry, the claim can be staked by someone else. In this case it was the Cranstons’ youngest daughter, Becki.

Becki is a pleasant enough person, though it’s obvious from the get-go that she spends an inordinate amount of time on her appearance. So much so that she has an artificial, plastic-like appearance. She’s going into cosmetology at Beck State. A good choice, most likely.

She is also something of a provocative dresser, which is not as unusual in Mormonland as one might think.

Anyhow, her clothes were sitting in the washer when I got up. I checked from driveway and didn’t see her car, so I decided to go ahead and push them through so that I could get to our stuff.

Having no sisters of my own and having a wife who is not very much interested in girly attire, I’ve never handled girly clothes before.

Now, the word “clothing” is derived from the word cloth, but is used more generally to convey anything that we wear in order to conceal and/or to keep warm. Her wardrobe fails at both of these tasks.

There comes a point in the size of underwear that it becomes small enough to become functionally useless. Hers were about half that size. Then there were spaghetti tops and t-shirts that I swear wouldn’t have fit me when I was eight. Becki is thin, but not that thin (though, gauging by the couple of bras that I handled, thinner than she might like in some areas). Part of me wonders how she fits into them. Snugly, I’d guess, and snugly by design.

Last night I had a dream. I was at the hospital looking into that room where all the babies are. My little girl was particularly beautiful. So much so that all the nurses kept telling me how beautiful she was – and not just in a polite kind of way.

The joy of my pretty little girl was replaced by sheer horror at the prospect of her teenage years, looking as pretty as Becki, just as fake, and terrifyingly with a similar wardrobe.

Category: Coffeehouse

It doesn’t matter what kind of guy you are. Whether you’re an artist or a jock or the nerdiest of nerds.

Watching an industrial shredder take down a refrigerator, block of concrete, a washing machine, and a whole lot of other stuff is a whole lot of fun.

My department (all guys) spent our entire twenty minutes watching this beautiful thing and bonding over it.

Category: Server Room

Barry of Inn of the Last Home is not too sympathetic to parents that skipped out on a meeting with school and law enforcement officials regarding the truency of their children:

But the point is that when a child has 10 or more unexcused absences, that’s when inquiries need to be made and actions taken. If the child is legitimately ill, then there shouldn’t be a problem getting the absences excused. If the parent or guardian neglected to follow through with explaining the absence, then it’s their own fault and they have nothing to complain about.

The problem I have is that the whole attendance/truancy issue is a crock. If a kid is skipping school then the parents need to be informed, but I’m not sure the parents should have to defend themselves on this one. As long as the work is getting done, it’s a family matter.

To me, the issue comes down to two things:

  1. Money
  2. Control

How much money a school gets from the government is based in part on attendance. Back east, the “official attendance” was taken at 11:00am. The school would honestly nod and wink at you just as long as you were there at that time. When our school made the state championship in basketball or football, they’d even say “Let’s wish our boys/girls luck on the field this weekend. If anyone is going to have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, we strongly suggest that they have it after lunch. That would leave plenty of time to make it to Capitol City in time for the game. Theoretically.”

Okay, so they weren’t quite that obvious about it, but the message came through loud and clear: be here before lunch.

When I was in junior high, I would have these coughing spells. They’d send me to the nurse right up until 11:30… then they’d send me home. Never, ever before.

The second issue, control, is also a big factor. But as far as the school is concerned, the public school system exerts a lot of control over the lives of children. And they want to keep it that way. That’s one of the reasons that they’ve made homeschooling nearly impossible in some areas (Nevada and I think California), why they oppose vouchers, and why we have compulsory attendance and truancy laws to begin with.

I’m not one to argue that there is some conspiracy to brainwash our young. In most cases, it’s lead by good intentions (though money is a factor, too). They honestly believe that they are trained professionals that ought to be given the reigns to educate the next generation. In some ways they are. But the degree of resistence to alternatives is also built around making themselves indispensable.

Theoretically, they should have no problem with kids coming in on test day and taking care of the studying parts on their own. But even outside financial reasons, the more parents do that, the less essential teachers become. Through truancy laws and compulsory attendance, they have both job security and the mandate to do what they were trained to do.

I’m not trying to knock teachers and school administrators. I am a product of the public school system and my future kids will be too. They’re underpaid and underappreciated. And while they are admirable on an individual level, the establishment they collectively embody has its own agenda.

Category: School