Real Reality

Knives can be sharp. That's a reality, right?
Usually, it's quite an advantage when you're trying to use them. Dull knifes are good for spreading, I suppose, but unless the spreading is happening with the icing on that cake you just made me, I have no need for dull knives.
But, the cuspidated knife is not always advantageous. But it did teach me a lesson today. Most people have pricked themselves with a pin, given themselves a paper cut, and I will venture to say that, yes, a great majority of us have cut ourselves with a sharp knife.
You guessed it, my roommate cut off his thumb with a sharp knife. A very sharp knife. Okay, so he didn't cut his entire thumb off, but he sliced a juicy piece off just fine. While at work. Preparing food that you and I would probably eat.
Today's lesson, however, was not that I should be wary when judging the deliciousness of food at my favorite restaurants. No, that wasn't it. Rather, as he was showering this morning, screaming bloody murder as he cleaned it, waiting for me to come apply the dressing, I started thinking about reality. My reality, his reality, yours too.
Our reality.
Where does reality exist? I'm not trying to get existential on all of you, but I find it a valid question. I've always been fascinated by perspective, but really, perspective is just our interpretation of what's going on...our perspective is our reality. And that reality goes through our personal filter: our brain.
The pain from the knife exists solely in our mind, which tells us the pain is in our finger. When we touch something, it feels solid, even though we know 90% of it is empty space--the "solidness" is in our brain.
We talk about sunrise and sunset, even though we know the earth is not the center of our solar system -- and nobody ever thinks to correct it. Why have we not officially renamed "sunrise" to reflect the real dynamic, which is earth-turning-morning? We readily accept and live with ideas and experiences we know are false, and as a collective, we perpetuate this shared and realized ignorance.
We don't see color, we don't "see" anything at all, but rather we have sensors that perceive radiation in certain wavelengths, and our mind tells itself what that radiation pattern might look like. Our mind filters out more than it accepts.
Which begs the question...what, really, is reality? I'm talking the reality outside of our brain. Does it exist? Are we simply projections on that reality? What does it mean?
Either way, my mate's missing his thumb.



I like flying. I don't mind it at all. Honestly, I think I prefer longer flights than shorter flights, simply because to me, the long ones mean that I'm going somewhere.
This flight is long. I am definitely on my way somewhere. Exotic. Yes, that's how most would describe it, I suppose. To me, it's another destination. Another point of view. The things I have learned travelling the world are indescribable. I tried to write them down once, but I realized that to truly describe something that transcends to so many levels required a vocabulary that surpassed even my own. 
It's like describing the way magnetism works, in a way. If you don't have a vocabulary to understand and describe the mechanism, then the only way to properly apply any description to is to accept that it simply is. It simply does.
Unfortunately, I do understand that I'm incapable of describing the things I've experienced. But I've accepted that. An accurate representation of the window to my soul would be misinterpreted by most anyhow, and I understand that too! 
So many times, I've boarded with a knowledge of where this hunk of metal would transport my physical body. I've never known where my spiritual self would land, and how it would affect me, but I absolutely thirst for it. 
I have friends who travel too, you know--I don't pretend that I'm the only one on this flight. I don't know their purpose, and I don't know their intentions, but I'm glad they choose to come with me. We all know that the flight may be cramped--first class is expensive!--but we also know there is always a way off the plane. If you can even call it a way off. Parachutes are not my favorite cup of tea.
The flight attendants know that I prefer a nice rose tea, or maybe, if my stomach is particularly upset, a chamomile just to settle things. Not that it's their fault or anything, but it is mighty unfortunate when I have to settle for a ginger ale. But it has its own advantages. Oh, and no ice, thanks to you very much.
Did you know that by flying, we force our bodies to endure an insane amount of radiation? Radiation that surpasses radiation experienced during the Three Mile Island incident. No nuclear storage facility or power plant pose as much danger to our radiation-sensitive bodies than flying does. But I accept the risk. Easy cost-analysis shows me that the rewards always exceed the possible cost. 
Really, why does anybody order their drinks with ice?! It's bothering me now, and when things irk me in the air, they grind away at my patience until I land. There is no advantage to ordering a drink with ice, now, is there? In actuality, the airlines are getting away with murder. You see, ice is one of the only materials that expands upon freezing, so not only are they taking away precious fluid volume, by they are substituting it with arguably less liquid than you otherwise would have received! Shirk the ice, man!
The thing about me flying is, that I still have my own rules. I never turn off my phone, and I only use airplane mode because I'll be able to watch an extra movie because of the battery life I save. Also, no seat belts. This one is almost as absurd as the ice--almost. Trust you me that life--I mean, airplanes--are much better experienced without the seat belt on. No seat belt will save you from a 30,000 foot nose dive going 600mph. Not a one.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I make the rules of my flight. I look to my left and my right and realize that the inexperience my fellow passengers exhibit is par for the course; I'm just happy they got past security. I get on the plane because I know that I will be enlightened on the other side. I factor in this world's uncertainty. I understand that there is no such thing as absolute knowledge. I get that I'll possibly never understand how I, a man without wings, is soaring at heights that the birds can only imagine.
I'm okay with it all.
Luckily I can tune out right now with my iPhone. Wake me when we land.


The Model of a Modern U.S. President

For those who this reference is lost on...


Moving Forward

Apologies are in order for the shoddy (read: lack of) writing for the past two months.
For those of you in the know, I've just returned from a long backpacking trip through Europe. It was definitely one of the most fulfilling adventures I've been able to do, and I knew when I was flying home and actually felt that home is where I needed to be, that it was an exceptional trip.
One of the most liberating things I have experienced is the opportunity to simply think and reason with yourself. Often times, this only happens to me when I travel. Makes sense, really, since between the new cultures, the languages, and the loneliness, you really have to become okay with being around yourself. I feel fairly confident that most people I know have not reached that level of self, and most of us are simply working on it.
As for myself, I appreciated the chance to get to know myself better, and to accept my weaknesses as weaknesses and my strengths as opportunities. For me, this is like a new leaf. I'm not sure that the bud is visible to many people, but I feel it in my core. I have never feared change, except in myself, but that's simply unacceptable now. Change is in order.
In quantum mechanics, we talk about a particle having multiple properties simultaneously until we seek to examine it. Once we examine it, we force the particle to assume singular properties. For example, a particle is said to have both positive and negative spins, until we look at it, at which time the particle will have either a positive or a negative spin. (The more adventurous of you have heard of Schrodinger's Cat--same thing.) This blows people's minds, but it's fundamental.
I feel as though I've finally taken the moment to observe myself. I have forced myself to come out of a multi-state and take upon the properties which are me. Now, I can manipulate them for better.

I am moving forward.



Long story short:
Went to Venice, looked up car rental prices: sold.
We rented a car for three days and got to Croatia yesterday. Amazing here. One of the most beautiful places I've been.
We went to an awesome national park filled with crystal lakes and waterfalls, then went to the beach.
We drove up the Adriatic Highway, which must be one of the most gorgeous drives on earth, while watching the sunset.
Saw a sea organ and a cool solar panel/solar system display.
We stopped to bath (sprawl on the beach) twice on the way up the coast, and it was WONDERFUL!
And yes, we did it European style--in speedos.
In Rijeka tonight, back to Italy tomorrow.
Thanks Croatia.


Videos and Photos of the Trip, part two!!

Inception-ish Mind Bend on Berlin U Bahn!

Sony Center in Berlin

Frisbee Dudes in front of the Reichstag

Soccer Dude on Sacre Coure


Videos and Photos of the Trip, part one!!

Highlights from the first week over here!
Highlights from the second week (will be updated, so keep checking!)

First Class Bathroom FAIL

Eiffel Tower at Night

Street Music on Sacre Coure

Street Art on Sacre Coure

Locks in Koln

Michael Jackson memorial by the Rhein in Koln (probably not worth watching yet, I need to rotate the video!)

Three Corners!!!

More to follow shortly!!!


You Know What That Hello Means

We got here yesterday on a fairly crowded Ryanair flight. But, things are awesome!! Berlin gets props from me, simply because the people are so helpful. I mean, the atmosphere in Paris can't be beat, but if you're alone in that city, you feel it.
Here in Berlin, I could be here alone and still feel welcome and warm. On the flight, we read that Berlin never slept. We believe it. In our 32-bed hostel room, I'm pretty sure that the majority of people fell asleep around 5am, and then gone by 8. Crazy!
Berlin is a party town. I mean, it's German, so lots of people are drunk, but they sure carry themselves well. I really enjoyed our time here, and Berlin has such AMAZING history! And not just old history, but history that is still ongoing. The concept of the wall isn't in the past. So many walls still need to come down.
JFK said something that really resonates with me. It's about solidarity. It's about making the world a better place. It's so much more than just the words he said and today, while I walked the city, I realized too, that I want to say:
"Ich bin ein Berliner!"


Stuttgart to Koeln, please

We got up this morning and packed up the Fingerle's van for the ride up to Koeln (Cologne) to stay with Pam's sister, Naomi. The ride wasn't too long, but with a crying baby, sometimes even the shortest rides can last forever.
However, I slept most of the way up...trying to recover from Paris and the bus ride. It worked most of the way.
When we got to Cologne, we put our stuff up and drove to the Dom. I've been here before, but Jonathan hasn't. I liked Cologne the first time I was here, and I still do. It doesn't have the vibrancy of Paris, but it's a city where you could be very peaceful, yet you could still have a lot of fun.
I kicked myself today because, although I knew about it, I keep coming to Europe right after or right before the football season is underway. That sucks for me! I will have to correct this pattern.
I have some video and pictures of today's journey, and a decent connection, so I'll try to get those up now!
Oh, and more pics are up in the album on facebook!!


Paris in a nutshell.

Before you read this post, notice that the video for the first post of Euro 2010 should be up here. Also, be prepared...it's long!! As always, pics are on my facebook album (and no you don't have to join facebook to view them): Facebook Album

Wow. What an amazing two days.

I woke up yesterday morning after a very restful night sleep, thanks to Trent. Everyone give a shout out to Trent! He was great. Originally from California, he's currently finishing his R & R before returning to Iraq. Took us in like we were best friends, and he didn't even live here!

So, after a lazy morning at Hotel Commerce, I got up and showered. It felt good, but the water was almost always scalding. Not exactly what I'm used to over here, but it's all good.

I had to meet Jonathan at the international bus station at 12:30. I had no idea where that was, so I figured I'd leave early--around 10--and just search around. By this, the second day, I felt really comfortable with the city. I think that's what impressed me most about Paris. The city felt like home incredibly quickly. So I took off, got me a crepe avec chocolat (the house chocolate, I found out. Dark choco fans would have enjoyed it...I preferred the crepe avec banane nutella from the night before) and found the right metro line and took off toward the bus station.


Salut, Paris

So, as my video post explained before, I ended up switching everything up and flying directly to Paris from Salt Lake. Looking back on everything, I'm convinced that this would have been the easier solution from the beginning...I can't remember why we chose Brussels, except that it may have been cheaper at the time.
First of all, let's rewind and talk about business class. I was told that once you flew business internationally, you'd never go back to coach. Unfortunately, my inclination to dirt cheap travel and my pocketbook tell me differently, but my body, mind and soul completely agree. I felt, at first, more out of place there than I did when I accidentally walked into a black-tie event in my speedo (you're right, it never happened, but IMAGINE how I would have felt!), because everything was so proper. They serve the food in glass dishes and give you salad forks...SALAD FORKS! And like three knives. Whatev. Needless to say, it was an enjoyable experience, but since it was non-stop, it was almost too short to enjoy! Still, I enjoyed every minute of it. Especially the cheesecake dessert!
I got off the plane and set out to get into the city and find wi-fi to contact Jonathan, my cousin, who flew into Brussels as we had planned. I got onto the train from the airport (thought about taking the bus to see more of the country side, but who was I kidding! I just got off a posh flight, the bus was the last thing I was going to take.) Not one second later, I was introduced to France by a trendily-clothed man and his spectacular looking trick making out on the train. I'm talking full on French, man! Right in front of everyone! While I half expected them to start taking off clothes and doing the dirty in front of the kids, I realized one thing: these two had passion. Not saying we Americans don't...but well, we don't. We lost that ages ago. Somewhere between having style in the 60s and losing it in the 80s, we also lost our passion.
Paris is the city of love for a reason, and this I've seen. I really have! Everywhere you look, it's love. The Beatles must have adored this city. I do now. Honestly, Paris is one of the best looking cities I've been to. It's clean, everything is beautiful (including the people!), and style is pouring out. I don't even think some of the natives realize how trendy they look. Seriously! It's just a part of these people!
So while Jonathan was scouting Brussels out, I decided to walk around and get my sense of direction. I quickly learned that the Seine runs relatively east to west. That helps. Except you don't know where it is, unless you know where you are, so....maybe not so much help. Regardless, I did as much as I could with a pack on: visited the steps of the Pantheon (free wi-fi!), checked out Jardin du Luxembourg (where I took a nap while kids played soccer around me), then jaunted over to Notre Dame where I couldn't go in because of my pack but was treated to a German Rastafarian band behind the cathedral...with free wi-fi! I decided then to go to the Eiffel Tower, stopping by Hotel de Invalides on the way over. I didn't spend too much time at these places, instead focusing on learning my way around. I feel like I did a pretty good job, and that I know my general way around the south half of downtown Paris. Not bad for a day!
But...then I had to find a place to stay. Where would I do that? My couchsurfer friends had let me down, and I didn't know where to go. But, where there're people, there's a good chance that you know someone! Well, at least, there's a good chance that you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who happens to be in that place you are! Which is what happened. When I told my friend Meghan that we didn't have a place to stay, she contacted her people. One friend of hers lives in London and informed us that a friend of hers, Trent, was arriving in Paris the same day as I. After e-mailing round the gauntlet, I finally got an email back from him at 11pm tonight, assuring me that I had a place to stay. Woot woot! And THAT is why I don't plan! You can never have such great luck on the fly if you plan *everything* out. (Note: I really am being sarcastic. I promise! But that doesn't mean I don't love the rush of spontaneity or the crunch of figuring out what to do in a foreign place...that's my own type off drug!)
So now, I leave you all. I meet up with Jonathan tomorrow at noon-ish, then we'll be together for the rest of the trip. I'll miss being on my own, actually, but it'll be good to have a comrade with me.

There are some pics on facebook, by the way! Here's the link: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=192880&id=620687279&l=ccf4293991

Plane to Nowhere

Today, a vlog post, courteous iPhone 4, iMovie for iPhone, aaaaaand Delta

UPDATE 2: Here`s the video

(There's a video, obviously that goes here...but the internet is dying over here! You'll see it in a bit, hopefully! Here's the gist: didn't get on my flight to Atlanta, ended up flying straight from Salt Lake City to Paris! Jonathan is still flying to Brussels. I say in the video that I'll arrive at 11.50 at night, but see the update below! I'm funnier in the movie, I promise, but I have to post my next post, so, I had to get this up too.)

(I'm sorry for the quality...one, front facing camera makes it easier for me. Two, I had to rotate the whole thing [thanks iMovie!] because I forgot to record it landscape...sorry!)

UPDATE: Yeah, so I was excited, and I think I said I'd be in Paris tonight. Not true! I'll be arriving at 11 in the am, just enough time for my cousin, Jonathan, to start the drive from Brussels to Paris!


Cats Got the Tongue

I am good.

Those three words elicit in me so much confidence, it might be considered over the legal limit. I try not to be cocky, but, well, let's be honest. If you know me, I joke about my cockiness often, and like I said before, joke's are half-truths. But, there's nothing wrong with being confident. 
Back in High School (did I just capitalize that? Sure did!), I was walking away from a football game once--in the dark--and I heard a voice from behind yell, "Tyler! Slow down!" I had no idea who it was. I slowed down, but didn't turn. Again, "Tyyyyyyyler!"
I turned around and saw who was calling my name. I chuckled and asked the girl how she knew it was me. "It's the way you walk. You walk with confidence."
I've been complimented often about my air of confidence. People always notice, and some have been turned on by it. You know the ones. And, usually, I'm really good about the whole facade.
But the problem with an air of confidence, is that usually, that's all it is: air. Hot air. Thin air. Good old fashioned air. Good for breathing, good for wifi, and good for flying really fast in. Yep. Air.
Don't get me wrong, I like breathing! And I like feeling confident, or at least convincing others that I am, because it really helps you accomplish great things. But when it's one of the many masks you wear, sometimes you can get knocked off of your feat and all of that confidence comes crashing down, shattering like glass in a Hollywood movie. 
(Pause for the image of glass crashing all around some generic Ethan Hawke-like actor looking up at light. Maybe even pan around him, Matrix-style, as the glass is bouncing back up. Use your imagination, that's what it's there for.)

I always hated this feeling. When somebody knocked me off the confidence ladder, I immediately felt insecure. I couldn't speak. I hated it.

Then suddenly, as your confidence builds back up and you're flying high, somebody comes and knocks you down hard. You stumble over the simplest phrases. You make awkward moves. You freak out and start planning everything in your head: "I should say this in this order and then she might do this and I'll then have the perfect opportunity to not make a fool of myself." But something's different. You still make a fool of yourself: but you're not freaking out. They've done something not many succeed at doing. They take you out of comfortable, yet you don't complain.
One day, you hope to say the things you planned on saying. One day, you hope that your confidence will rise again. But for now, for one small moment, you are okay being stripped bare . 

After all, I always liked being naked.


Our Boys

World Cup.
Two words that are ominous, dramatic, heartbreaking.
For the USA Men's National Team, the 2010 World Cup will ultimately be remembered more tenderly than most. More tenderly than 1998 when they went home ranked the worst of the tournament. More tenderly than 2006 when, after the best run in modern history (2002) we went home from the tournament early after tying the eventual champions. But ultimately, I think, in the end, this year will be remembered as a disappointment.
Stay with me here.
I realize that 2010 brought us our first win out of group play, even over England. Yeah, I get that. I understand that 2010 showed us how resilient our boys were, coming back and beating (yes, I said it) Slovenia, overcoming Algeria in the final minutes, and fighting back to force Ghana into extra time. Point taken. I can see how US Soccer will be forever changed with immense support from the homeland. These are all amazing feats, and they are really something we have to recognize and applaud.
But, when it comes down to it, this 2010 World Cup showed how much the USMNT has to grow.
England and USA. The favorites of the group. We overcame adversity, sure, but that adversity was self-afflicted. It does show a strong team psyche when you did what we did, that's a plus, but it shows weak character when the mistakes are committed over and over again.
You see, we can compete with any country in the world. Don't believe me? Look around! We beat the world number ones 2-0 last year (Spain), we fought down to the wire for a draw against the inventors of the game (England), and we held a 2-0 advantage to the men who perfected the game in our first international final last year (Brasil).
So what the hell is the problem?
After Our Boys ruined my weekend (the result seemingly had no effect on other fans watching the game), I think I've realized one of the issues. In all of our (U.S. soccer supporters) efforts to bring the joy of the game to more and more people around us, I think we've become soft towards the 'Nats results. Nowhere in the country will you read a newspaper tomorrow with interviews criticizing the poor performance out of the gates. You will read of how the U.S. has played "dramatically" and with "resilience." There will be no talk or rumor of a manager change (if there is, it will be soft), and overall, I believe the supporters will pat the boys on the back and say, "Well, done, men, you made it past group play, it was exciting, and maybe you'll have a better go at it in four years!"
(And no, MSNBC/Lovgren, this should NOT be considered a success.)
It's repulsive.
I'm not saying that we should all react like the French or the Italians after their (in my eyes, fitting) early departures. But maybe a little bite would help. We should be questioning Bradley's choice of Ricardo Clark after a fantastic performance by Maurice Edu. We should be asking ourselves why Edson Buddle, arguably the hottest American player on the team at the moment, saw 20 minutes of playing time out of the entire tournament. We should be wondering out loud why Carlos Bocanegra didn't electrify and fortify our back four. Why did Jozy Altidore perform so poorly? Why didn't he finish any of his chances? Why is Salt Lake's beloved Findley missing a 1v1 with the keeper? This is the world stage, and while we had a dramatic run, it was rather embarrassing the way Ghana was passing around us while we all stood around today. It was embarrassing that we finished and played with aggression only when we were cornered into it. It was embarrassing that we are going home today.
Look. Landon, Tim, Clint...every single one of you: I loved watching your enthusiasm. I loved seeing your heart when it came out on the field. I loved watching every game you all played. I love our boys. But it's the hardest love there is, and the fact that we're out at 16 makes it that much harder.
U.S. supporters: we have a job to do. No more cheering at results that were great 4, or even 8 years ago. We must come to expect solid play. We must expect precision finishes. We must expect glory. Each and every game we play, we must expect to win. There's no reason for losing anymore.
We have become the force of CONCACAF. People laugh at the weakness of our conference. They should laugh no more, because we should give them reason to be quiet.



Part of my struggle with maintaining my blog was a personal debate between myself and...me. I couldn't adequately determine how much this "blog" would be a window into my own life—into my soul, if you will.
I still don't know if I've answered that question. I revel in mystery. I have made myself enigmatic. It's really been a goal of mine to shroud myself in the unknown. Usually I mention this as a joke, but we all know that jokes like this are born from reality.
If you ask my close friends, they may or may not agree with me (especially as of late, but that's a different matter). But I'm fairly certain that after an honest assessment, each one could say that I try.
I suppose I do it for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I think we all have a too strong a propensity to immediately judge other people. We judge their intentions, we judge their beliefs, we judge their looks—all of it. I can honestly say this just makes me want people to misjudge me, so one day I can show just how skewed our prejudices were, and maybe, through embarrassment perhaps, encourage us all to think twice before judging people.
Secondly, it's sexy.
For my third reason, I will point to privacy. When you are not forthright with everyone, you hold "secrets." Whether they're really secret or not, it's something that you have that others don't. It's a very powerful feeling.
I'm sure there are other reasons, but lately—and this is what has led to my personal debate—I've wondered if I haven't become a mystery unto myself. I'm trying to be more open about what I feel. I have protected my feelings for a long time, refusing to let anybody know them, but I feel now, that it's time for me to learn how to describe them—even if it's to myself. It's difficult.
My desire to be an enigma has caused me to have cultivated some amazing skills, one of which is empathy. I've learned to truly put myself in others situations, because I can project those situations onto me, a blank canvas.
But ultimately where does that put me, the canvas?


Hello out there?!

Wow. This may have been my longest leave of absence. I don't feel like it's quite time to re-enter the blogosphere. I think I'll take my Conan-break. Actually, for those of you who care about social networking, I've decided to reinvigorate my twitter account, zoti_soli. For those of you who don't understand twitter, try it for a few days, and it'll make sense.
Anyway, I figure that I could at least give you a partial update on things in my life. I'm floating under the radar for a bit...I think...until school is out. I've had an incredible difficult time as of late focusing on things, and it really bothers me, so I'm figuring out what the best way is to go about recovering from that. Maybe meditation, maybe some holistic approach...maybe a trip to the beach. I thought Honduras would help clear my mind, but I discovered that my tendency to always find something to be too busy with follows me even to the most remote places on this earth.
In the past two weeks I've begun to care about my networking presence on the web (perhaps/hence the twitter resurrection?). Part of this is becoming extremely active in the CouchSurfing community. If you don't know what that is, you should. And to answer your question, you don't understand. It's much more frightening to be in their shoes than mine (as a host), and you can be quite discriminating while still helping people out. Anyway, I hosted a Scot last week. Bernie was a great surfer and was very independent. He walked all over Salt Lake. I picked him up at the Greyhound station on Easter night, and he left that Thursday. It didn't seem very long at all, which is to say we enjoyed having him around. Yesterday, I picked up Roman from the Flying J his cousin dropped him off at on their cross-country big-rig ride. Roman is from the Czech Republic, and we had a lot to talk about, since we've both lived in Eastern Europe. I really enjoyed Roman, and was heart-broken that while he was in Boston, he was mugged twice within 10 minutes. Great hospitality. He was nervous when he got here, but after he explained why, I decided that I would do whatever I could to help him. I helped him get his rental car this morning as he was determined to make it to beautiful Southern Utah and all of the national parks. He had a pure heart, and I'm truly grateful that we are good friends. To think that within 15 hours, two people could have such a bond...amazing.
Anyway, that's all I have to say for now. My absence will probably resume until I feel adequate to manage my blog again.
Until then.



For those of you who thought I couldn't go a day without being connected: I went 12. Haha.
I'm back, and I have many stories to tell. Perhaps over the next few days I will write about my experiences. Check back.


Results of the Oscar Ballots!

Man, I wish I had bet on Sunday's awards. As you know, I created a ballot and posted it on facebook, Google Buzz, as well as e-mailed it to a group of people. I sent it out quite late Saturday night, so I wasn't sure how many responses I'd get. I ended up having 24 people fill it out (I had to twist some arms here and there, but mostly, I think people wanted a shot at the prize). Oh yeah, the prize. I am picking it up in Honduras next week. So....yeah. Good prize for no entry fee, right?
There were some interesting trends I saw in the ballot results. First, EVERYONE knew Avatar would win for Visual Effects. Also, Avatar and Inglourious Basterds tied for everyone's favorite movie of the year.
So, the results. Scores were weighted based on how easy I thought the category was. For example, Visual Effects had only three nominees, and the other two were fighting Avatar: 1 point. Documentary Feature: 5 points. There was a logical method to the scoring, but I won't go into that.
Oh, and I also filled out two ballots. I filled one out according to what I figured the Academy would vote, and then I filled one out based on who I thought should win. Good thing my ballots don't count, because they did pretty well. On my first--the what WOULD win ballot--I scored a 62 (out of 73 possible), which means I guessed the Academy's vote on 21 of the 24 categories! On my second, I scored a 27, or got 9/24 right. Haha, I don't know what that means.
But, onto the winner! First place overall was my sister Shawnee. She got a cool 50% right, for 38 points, so hip-hip for her!
Her are the rest of the results:
  1. Shawnee, 38 points
  2. Aunt Karen, 31
  3. Brad, 28
  4. Brady, 26
  5. Meghan, 25
  6. Leremy, 24
  7. Abby, 22 (Tied, even after tiebreaker with Austin F)
  8. Austin F, 22
  9. Lance, 22
  10. Josh and Krissey, 21
  11. Chad P, 20
  12. Rufus Sputtlenuck (Matt), 20
  13. Casey D, 19 (Tied, even after tiebreaker with Andrea)
  14. Andrea, 19
  15. Chase, 18 (And, no, Chase, only 5 speeches were cut short, not all of them)
  16. Max, 17
  17. Stephanie M, 15
  18. Michael L, 14
  19. Lejdja, 14
  20. Kelby S, 13
  21. Jeff Dove, 9
  22. Ken T, 7


OK Go Makes Me Happy Once More

60 tries, 40 volunteers, 20 bowling balls, 10 broken tvs, 5 sledgehammers, 4 paint guns , 3 completed shots, 2 days, 1 take and no cuts. Brilliant.


Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

As a senior in High School, they asked, "who's your hero?"
I thought on the spot, but the names numbered zero!
I thought a bit more, alas! one I adore:
Dr. Seuss! Dr. Seuss! He was never a bore!
Odd choice, at the time, but the reason's quite clear:
Dr. Seuss understood! Hence I hold him so dear.

And my favorite quote, especially as of late:
"Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter,
and those who matter don't mind."
-Dr. Seuss


The Sun is Shining

Wow. I don't usually wear my emotions on my sleeve, and I definitely don't usually use my blog as a place to share them. I try to make my blog about things: politics, art, life--things we can all talk about. But I take advantage of the fact that anyone who reads it is voluntarily here. I try my hardest to post things that are honest. I put a lot of effort in verifying anything I put on here. I encourage people to discuss and show me my weaknesses and my mistakes. But if you don't like what you read, you're welcome to ignore it and leave. You won't hurt my feelings, and I hope in the short time we shared I didn't hurt yours.
Recently, I've had to make a lot of difficult decisions. I've been placed in situations where before I would have avoided. I realized, however, that if I continually refused to respond to these situations, I would simply continue to be placed in them. They're uncomfortable, they're life-changing, but they're important.
Not all of these situations are bad. In fact, I would argue that most are good experiences, and I'm sure many of you have been in the same position before. True, some were more difficult than others, but as soon as I decided to go headfirst into a few, I knew I had to go headfirst into them all or I would never have felt as though I conquered my fears of them.
For all the difficulty I've endured, I've been offered great opportunity for happiness in return. My mom e-mailed me today with a story I felt I could share with everyone. It's a story that's very dear to me, although I'm sure the people involved have no idea of its impact--just as I was unaware of the impact I had on them before.
She shares:
"Talked to V M this morning.  She was telling me about a New Beginnings for Young Women [a program for teenage girls that teaches about the purpose of the LDS Young Women's program] that she attended last night  in which a girl who is 13 talked to the girls about her trials with cancer when she was 7.
She went on and said that the moment things started to look up for her was when the Fremont [High School] Boy's Soccer team all shaved their heads for her that day, when she was at her worse. Her mom then talked and said that, that moment was the best time for her. And when V heard that you were part of that, she wanted me to share that with you."
This is so cliché, but I don't know how to describe the feeling I had when I read that. I'm relatively young, but I've been granted so many opportunities to serve people and help them be happy. The pain I feel when I see people focusing on the negative in life and in others to the point that they cannot posses an honest happiness for themselves and others is so visceral that I physically shake. I don't know how else to explain it, and I'm not sure I understand why this is so. 
It's funny, this morning was dreary and on the drive to work I though to myself, "Wow, the weather is acting just how I feel." And I'm looking out the window and now the sun is shining.


Human Chain - Brian Beletic

Here's an awesome short, featuring the Jazz's very own Deron Williams. Word has it, it took Director Brian Beletic over two years to complete, and his thoroughness and attention to detail surely show through. Awesome!


Why are you so terribly disappointing?

I've noticed for a few years now that even as the world is becoming closer, even as peace and technology make huge strides in our everyday lives, there are people who encourage all of us to think that our world is on a death spiral into chaos and oblivion. What sucks, is, it's working. I can't even number the people who in the last week have told me in one way or another that because ONE thing is happening, we can expect destruction of our society tomorrow.
Now, I'm not naive. There are legitimate concerns. But compare what we're doing today from 50 years ago? It's not even a fair comparison!
Mark Morford of the San Francisco Chronicle writes such a compelling article, I'd thought I'd share it:
What happened to my bonus? What happened to my job? What happened to my country? Why can't it all go the way it's supposed to go? You mean having a kid won't solve my marriage problems? Why don't these drugs make me feel better? Where's that goddamn waiter with my salad? Have you seen the stupid weather today? Is this really all there is?

These are, from what I can glean, the most important questions of the day, of the month, of modern life itself. Hell, what with the economy and job situation, the housing market and the overall feel and texture of the nation right now, it's no wonder Americans are, by and large, a goddamn miserable bunch. We don't like anything right now. No politician, no decision, no situation, no inhale, no exhale. We are sick to death of all of it, including ourselves.

Can you blame us? Have you seen how many things there to be disappointed about these days? Love. Sex. Marriage. Stock market. God. Gas mileage. Death. Air travel. 5/9ths of the Supreme Court. It's all just a big goddamn letdown. The list is endless. And getting endlesser.

The evidence is everywhere. I calculate it took about seven minutes, give or take, after Steve Jobs finished introducing the shinypretty iPad before the whiny attacks on the wondergizmo began flooding in, how it didn't have this or that expected feature, how it can't do live video chat, doesn't have Flash, the bezel is too big and it won't double as a meat thermometer, how it doesn't really revolutionize much of anything despite how it's, you know, this gorgeous 1.5-pound slab of aluminum and glass that works flawlessly and can perform roughly one thousand tasks in a more fluid and astonishing way than any device of its kind in history.

Read the rest of it here.

Nuit Blanche

Absolutely fantastic short film, Nuit Blanche, plus, an awesome howdtheydothat making-of video to go with it!


Jon Stewart on Bill O'Reilly

One hour of Jon Stewart, one on one, with Bill O'Reilly. I personally think Stewart handled O'Reilly quite well with his mixture of seriousness and satire. It's hilarious to me that O'Reilly really has become the level-headed mouth of Fox News. Haha.


Brett's Brain: America's Great. Except for the South.

Forgive me if I'm wrong Brett, but I think this is continuing series!
Obviously, I don't want to offend my Southern readers (coincidentally, those that I know of aren't originally from the South, but that doesn't matter anyways), but from one undervoiced citizen living in a politically-stupid state to another: your politicians suck just as bad as mine. Brett posts:
Alabama Senator Richard Shelby (R) blocking ALL Obama nominations:
Over defense pork projects . . . Tell me again why it's the Democrats who are irresponsibly bringing us to ruin? It's definitely time to change the Senate rules.
Shelby is holding Obama's nominees hostage until a pair of lucrative programs that would send billions in taxpayer dollars to his home state get back on track. The two programs Shelby wants to move forward or else:
- A $40 billion contract to build air-to-air refueling tankers . . .

- An improvised explosive device testing lab for the FBI . . .

John Marshall:
In this case, we're not dealing with a stand on partisanship or ideology or simple political shiv play which I guess can each be respected in their own place. This is more like just a stick up. Gimme my money and I'll give you your Senate back! Worse than a squeegee man and not much better than a bank robber, Shelby is shutting down the president's ability to appoint anyone to anything until he gets his way.
For Obama-haters who happen to float on the right, this is a big black eye in my opinion for your whole party.
[Brett's Brain]


Feynman on Magnetism

I love this. I'm sure to varying degree we've all tried to explain something that is, at least to us, so elementary, that there is just no other way to explain it. I feel like that when I attempt to explain ANY physical phenomena to two certain friends whom I will not name here. Haha, anyway! Gotta love Richard Feynman anyway!

[thanks kottke.org]


How To Report the News



A Move to Amend

A glaring mark on democracy?
A shining example of checks and balances?
A shot of heroin into corporate America?
A constitutional diminishing of man and his freedom?

Whatever you thought about this past week's Supreme Court decision, you should at least read and consider signing this petition--aimed to:
  • Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
  • Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our votes and participation count.
  • Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.


Propaganda, Reason, Passion, Obama

I've been enjoying some great posts on BoingBoing from ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive, watching all sorts of great archived animation, from Mighty Mouse to incredibly obscure and unknown animations. I've really enjoyed the last two posts, and I figured I'd link to them here:
The concept of propaganda is widely misunderstood. Many people automatically assume that it's a negative thing. But propaganda is just a tool that can be used for either good or bad. Propaganda involves bypassing the intellect and appealing directly to emotion to motivate a group of people to action.

While there are many people appealing purely to our emotions nowadays, I don't have to stop and think long to think of the main transgressors. It's my desire that reason not be put in the back seat like it has in so many discussions I've been involved with lately. They both have a spot, but give reason the controls, people, please.
[WWI and WWII Propaganda Posters]
[In Praise of Passion]

Also interesting, Tom Junod's piece in Esquire about the type of leader Barack Obama is. Basically, and the article is great, it talks about how Obama is a true father figure. I hate just to use long excerpts--you should read it yourself--but there's a few poignant points I want to include.
Your example is your authority. Positive discipline does not mean no discipline; it means that discipline is a matter of teaching mutual respect, rather than making your child suffer. "Children do better when they feel better, not worse," is what it says on my kitchen cabinet, and so when faced with intransigence, parents have to respond by stating their expectations, repeating the rules, and then giving their children the love and support they need to follow them. Always try to include, rather than isolate; avoid labels; don't negotiate, but don't escalate, either. If your children are not doing well, either take them out of the situation or remove yourself. You — and they — can always try again.
It is a philosophy that could have been minted by Cass Sunstein, the White House advisor who is developing ways to "nudge" citizens to make the right choices without them being aware of the manipulation. It could serve as a précis for how Obama has dealt with Joe Wilson, not to mention Skip Gates and Sergeant Jim Crowley, not to mention Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was never threatened but rather told to "think carefully" while answering the protests of the Iranian presidential election with the truncheon and the gallows. One could almost hear Obama saying, "Use your words, Mahmoud. Use your words."
Barack Obama, then, is not the agent of change; he's the fulfillment of a change that is already occurring culture-wide, in every place but politics. That's why the Republicans fear him so much; why, while waiting for him to fail, they just come off as the political party for people who want to hit their kids.
Take a look here.


Chinese Censorship

Censoring "Mein Kampf" AND lds.org???!!! C'mon China! (Oh, and a personal favorite? It censors en.wikipedia.org/wiki/tiananmen_square_protests_of_1989, once again continuously denying history as we know it...)


Albuquerque and Londyn

I had a great chance to go down to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Albuquerque this past week. They just welcomed a baby girl into their home, and, well, she's a pretty good looking baby (not all babies are this good looking, you see.)
Thought I'd post some pics. Some might be repetitive...I forgot I had my camera until my last day there!

Just a note: the reason they're kinda grainy is because Picasa doesn't have great RAW support. I'll clean them up and re-upload them soon.

Orson Welles on Privacy (55 Years Ago)

An excellent and prescient view of privacy by the man, Orson Welles. Whole transcript here. If you have heard Welles speak, try to read it with his voice in mind...it's great.
Think of all of those forms we have to fill out, for example, you know what I mean, by police forms, we get them in hotels, on frontiers, in every country all over the world we’re asked, state your sex, male or female, for example. Well obviously, I’m a male, I’m a man, why should I have to answer that? State your race and religion in block letters; well, now why should I have to confide my religion to the police? Frankly, I don’t think anybody’s race is anybody’s business. I’m willing to admit that the policeman has a difficult job, a very hard job, but it’s the essence of our society that the policeman’s job should be hard. He’s there to protect, protect the free citizen, not to chase criminals, that’s an incidental part of his job. The free citizen is always more of a nuisance to the policeman that the criminal. He knows what to do about the criminal...
Especially timely with all the TSA talk going around. Basically, I would have to agree with Welles here. Government should protect the free citizen, not chase the offenders of that freedom. Government knows how to punish the criminal, but it still does not know what to do with the free man.

The Third & The Seventh

If you haven't seen Avatar, you still might be convinced that CG hasn't crossed the Uncanny Valley quite yet, you should do two things. First, go watch Avatar (IMAX 3D will do), and second, watch this CG animated surrealist film about architecture. It's long, so if you don't have time, skip towards the middle. It's all CG.


2009 Lists

Here are my lists of 2009. Best of's are in no particular order...that's just not the way I work.
My Year in Cities (2009)
Lake Winnipesaukee, NH
New York, NY*
Salt Lake City, UT*
Moralillos, Peru
Cuzco, Peru
Frankfurt, Germany
Marsberg, Germany
Albershausen, Germany
Albuquerque, NM
Green River, WY
Des Moines, IA
Chicago, IL
(At least one night was spent in each place. A (*) denotes multiple visits.)

Most Anticipated Movies of 2010
Alice in Wonderland
Toy Story 3
Shutter Island
The Lovely Bones
Prince of Persia
Iron Man 2
Robin Hood
Green Zone
The Materese Circle
Bonus: The Tree of Life

Best Mainstream 2009 Flicks
Up In The Air
A Serious Man
Inglourious Basterds
Sin Nombre (mainstream? maybe not)
The Hangover
Star Trek
(500) Days of Summer
(and a shout out to Public Enemies and The Informant!)

Up and Coming Actors to Watch in 2010 (mostly turned into a keep-an-eye-on list)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Been around for a while, but he's finally making a stand as a GREAT entertainer...just follow that link!)
Zooey Deschanel
Ellen Page (I suppose her Academy nomination should also preclude her from this list)
Sam Worthington
Zoe Saldana
Saoirse Ronan
James McAvoy
Sharlto Copley

Alright, well, I had a few more lists, but I'm already 5 days late with this as written, so we'll just leave it here. Let me know if you agree or disagree!


All You Need Is Love

Doesn't matter that Starbucks commissioned this--it's great anyhow. A while back, I posted the Stand By Me video. Yeah, you know the one. The one recorded in many many places with a so-called "virtual" studio. That was awesome.
This is no-less awesome. 156 countries (including Albania, in true over the TOP fashion [me ben shume qejfi, if you get that pun]) singing The Beatles' All You Need Is Love. At the same time. Starting at 1:30pm GMT on December 7, all the musicians started to sing at the same tempo. What results is a fantastic show of musicianship and showmanship--not to mention some awesome culture thrown in the mix.
Hoping to raise awareness of AIDS in Africa for the (RED) foundation, I think Starbucks did a noble job.
[Starbucks Love Project]