Sunday, February 24, 2008


Hey everybody, no great big post coming tonight, since I'm headed to bed soon, but I wanted to stop by and say thanks to everybody who participated in the poll and left comments. Gathering data like that is very important to me. Counseling, really. As I get a better feel for what you guys want, I'll be able to produce a better blog for you all. What happened this last week was good for me.

Sincere thanks to those who took some time to reflect and comment. I'll be giving all the comments another good look this week sometime and then I'll try to formulate a game plan for the future of The Other Dentist.

The poll closes in about an hour. Interesting results; I'm really glad I have them. Comments are still open and always incredibly appreciated.

So once again, thanks, really. I know it's a little thing, but it's important to me. I'm glad that I have friends that would put forth the effort to do that for me.

I hope that you're all doing well. There'll be some good stuff coming in the future, I'm excited about it. I'm excited to get back to posting. I feel like it's been a little while, so it'll be good to get back. Things have been pretty cool these past few weeks, and I'm excited to talk about life some more with you all. I think that pretty soon I'll toss a post up detailing my plans for the future, that'll be good. In any event, I wish good things for you all. Have an excellent night, and keep up the good work.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Poll

There's a poll on the site. For the first time ever, as far as I can remember.

The jist of it is that I want to know what you, the audience, wants to see from me in the future. I know it's a bit of a hard thing to ask, but I'd really appreciate it if you'd give me some insight. I'll definitely be looking at the poll results seriously. I don't promise that I'll pull off what you guys ask, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

There are four options on the poll. Let me explain them all.

1) Another Blogaday. This one is pretty easy. I'll just call out another blogaday of whatever length, and then do it. You all saw what happened with the last one. It's a similar idea.

2) A Week of Professional Writing. This one would be a lot more experimental. It'd be a week where I'd have a post every single day. But instead of having a normal post where I train of consciousness my way around forever, I'd have a directed post that I'd worked on and thought about and officially written. It'd have one topic, would include all sorts of bolded text and italicized text and links to outside information. It'd be the kind of stuff you'd see from established blogs out there, not just fun little personal journal stuff. It'd be actually production, not just stuff I write. It might be interesting to see.

3) More of the Same. That just means I'll keep doing what I've been doing. Yep.

4) Other, please specify. That one means leave a comment and tell me.

Really now, I'm just trying to get a feel for what's working and what isn't. What do you guys like? What do I do that you guys don't like? What would you like to see? Of course, if everybody knew exactly what they liked and what they wanted from me here, they wouldn't even come, they'd just write their own stuff. I know that this is a long shot, but I'd really like some feedback here. What kind of posts do you like? What kind of posts do you not like? What's been working for you? What makes you want to come back? What makes you not want to come back? Is there something you'd like to see me try?

If there's one post you comment on, I'd love for it to be this one. I know I'm asking a lot, but I'd appreciate any and all info you guys are willing to give me. So give the poll a shot, and please leave a comment explaining stuff, if you'd like to. I promise to read it and try to incorporate your wishes. Thanks a lot friends.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

348, I think

Happy 348th published post, or something close to that. Can you believe I've actually been here for that long? Do you know how many words that is? How many hours spent typing here? It's pretty incredible to me. It makes me happy.

I've been thinking a lot about the future lately, as I am wont to do. Just, where I'm going, how I'm going to do it, what it's gonna be like, etc. etc. Just a lot of that kind of business. It's been fun and enlightening, makes me want to be a better person I guess.

And I think that's one of the cool parts about it all. More or less, every single thing that I worry about for the future comes down to "Well, I've got to be the best person I can be now, and then things will work out better in the future." Every prospect in my future is going to be modified by how I'm doing right now. If I work hard now, my future is going to look brighter than if I don't work hard now. That's pretty cool gravy.

Been thinking about college. To me, right now, it's less about school than it is about being off with five other great guys. I feel like it's training grounds. I'll be working harder at academics than ever before, I'll be cooking my own food, buying my own groceries, being where I need to be or not being where I need to be, more or less being my own person. It's not the big show yet, since I'm playing with other people's money (thank you scholarships and student loans). I'll be with my big brother and some great friends. It's like a half step towards being on my own, I think it's going to be great preparation.

Been thinking a bit about what I want to be when I grow up. Engineering has been the plan for a while now. I love solving problems. I wonder if it's my passion though. I begin to feel that business is more of my thing. I get really excited when I hear or read about clever business models. I'm all about innovation, especially as it relates to businesses.

Of course, business isn't one of those things that is officially a good idea for me. Everybody laughs at the business majors. Business majors sometimes have a rough time actually getting any job, or so I hear. And that's really one of the things I'm most worried about. What if I go to school, do well, show all this promise, and then fall through the cracks? What if nobody picks me up? What if I'm all about trying to make it on my own, and then I fail? That'd be thumbs down.

I feel like I'm going to be on the edge of whatever I end up doing. I can't see myself as a middle of the road professional. Wherever I go, I'm going to want to try something new. I feel that if I'm not gonna be doing anything new, what's the point in doing anything anyways? Can't we get a robot to do it, if it's not something new? There's some uncertainty there for me then. New is risky. New is one of those things that isn't a secure paycheck month by month. New, of course, has a higher chance of ridiculous success. But it carries that added risk that you'll land flat on your butt and have to pick up the pieces. Picking up the pieces is hard.

So I'm not sure what the future holds for me in that area. I think I've got an idea of what I'd like it to hold. I'd like to do something new, obviously. But I'd like to make the world a better place, while making money. I'm not opposed to making money off of people, as long as I'm actually making their lives better. I couldn't stand to sell someone a product that was entirely worthless. But if what I was doing was actually improving their quality of life, see, I think that'd be a great feeling. I'm not how I'll do that yet. I think I've got some time to figure it out as I go. But I'd like to make things better. Help people live better lives, boost the economy. Become financially secure, and then use that security to continue making the world a better place. I worry sometimes that I'm a little too concerned about the finances off tomorrow. I know it's not the most important thing. I just think that being financially secure offers so many opportunities to do good things. Of course, it offers opportunities to do bad things as well, but that's a given. I'd like to be financially secure.

Been thinking about the future of relationships, specifically marriage. Now, I know, that's a no-no. Don't worry, I'm not pegging out girls just yet. Just thinking about how that's going to be, what kind of person I'm going to need to be to make that work. This is one of those things that right now I don't have to worry at all about the other person. All I can do right now is work to make myself the best person I can be, and then hope everything else works out. I've just gotta work like crazy. That's my kind of deal. Now, maybe I'm not the best at working like crazy, but I love the idea of it. I love the fact that right now I don't have to worry at all about anybody else on this. How that all ends up later in life is entirely related to how hard I work now. I love direct relations like that. Work work work now means incredible spouse later. I'm sold.

This post will be a bit all over the place. Prepare youreslves.


When I was turning in my English portfolio, I remarked to Parrish that it was four pound of me. All sheet-protected and pretty, it was sort of a big deal. It had 10th, 11th, and 12th grade writing in there. It also had some blog posts, all of water, all that fun stuff. As I was plopping it onto the pile, Parrish asks, "What's the best piece in there?"

And it got me thinking, How do I define the worth of a piece of writing? Is it how eloquent the language is? Is it how comical it is? Is it, perhaps, how effectively it gets its point across?

I didn't have an answer for her. I had a lot of writing in that portfolio. I had a ton of writing that I was very very proud of. Stuff that I'd spent many hours revising and polishing.

I included blogaday 15 in the portfolio. I wrote that post on the 13th of January, turned the portfolio in on the 25th. It was by far the newest piece in the book. Blogaday 15 received no comments on the blog. It was a much more personal post than I'd written in a very long time. Two people told me after I'd posted it that they liked it. They didn't leave a comment, but they told me.

I like to think that maybe blogaday 15 was the best piece of writing in the portfolio. Not because it's well written or incredibly powerful. But because it did good things for me, and I get the feeling that it did good things for a few other people out there in the world. Maybe it didn't, but I think that maybe, on a tiny tiny scale, it changed a few things.

And isn't that the point of writing? Why else do we get up in the morning, if not to change things for the better? Why are we here, if not to move ourselves and others forward on this eternal march towards betterment?

I had stronger pieces in that portfolio. Blogaday 15 was written with almost zero revision. I had more entertaining pieces. I had pieces that more people had seen, that more people had commented on and loved. I had tried and true veterans. But I think that blogaday 15 takes the cup. Not because it's my favorite piece, and not because it was my strongest piece. But because it did a little bit of good for me, and because I think it made the world a bit of a better place.

How do I define the value of a piece of writing? I think that I've got to say that I define it by the good it does in the world. When it all comes down to it, nothing else really matters, other than how we're doing at being better people and helping others do the same. I think that writing that misses that mark misses the meaning of its creation.

And perhaps I'm wrong. That happens. But it's my theory, and I'm sticking with it.


I had a dream last night. I won't go into it all, but it was quite an interesting one. I only write it here because the feelings that it invoked were very interesting. A few other guys and I were in my basement before an impending crisis. I don't think we knew what it was, but looking back the only thing that'd make sense would be a nuclear strike. We had sealed everything off in preparation. The window was all plexiglass, and we knew we'd be safe in there. The strike (or whatever it was) happened, and suddenly we were a few years later. It felt like no time had passed, but we knew that much time had. Later in the dream I found a yearbook that told me it was now at least 2015, but I'm thinking the date was later than that.

In any event, we found ourselves in an extremely interesting situation. We, as a group, had absolutely no idea what existed outside our little safe room. We didn't know if anybody in the whole world had survived the crisis. We didn't know if there was any infrastructure left. We didn't know if the outlets in the wall would work. We didn't know if there was radiation outside that would toast us the moment we opened the door. We didn't know if everybody had been mutated and that zombies awaited us on the other side. We had no idea if those we loved had survived, or, if they had, where they were now that it was so far in the future. We had a computer in the room, but we didn't know if the power would last for us to use it. We didn't know if the internet had changed so much that our old web browsers would still work. We didn't know if we were wired. I remember worrying specifically about my cell phone, whether I'd ever get the chance to charge it again.

We ultimately had no information at all. We were placed in a situation where we had never been before. We had always known that there were constants out there. People and powers that we could rely on. We didn't know if anybody was alive out there. Everything was different.

We didn't spend long wondering. We ventured out of our safe room into my basement. I picked up the power drill as defense, in case there were zombies. As I ventured up the stairs, I encountered the only scary creature of the whole adventure, some big caterpillar/worm doober. I had to fight with it for a while with the power drill, but eventually I killed it. Way to go me.

But we got upstairs. I remember my house was pretty dark, but still livable. I wasn't being toasted by radiation, but I didn't see any signs of life outside of the people that had survived with me. I remember that we looked outside, to the west, and saw some ruins. Levi or James decided to go check them out, to see if there were any people there. I remember not seeing him or knowing where he was for a long time after that.

We stayed like that for a while, but then we adventured further. We went outside, and we set our course for the stake center. We made it there, and finally found some people. My neighbor was there, as well as a few familiar faces. We were ushered inside pretty quick, and then the lights were turned down so the place looked unoccupied. Apparently there was a lot of persecution going on against us. I got to talk with those people for a while, but not for too long. I never did get to figure too much out of what happened.

The next bit I remember was a year book from Tville. Because it's a dream, I don't remember where I got it. But I remember looking at it for a very long time. The pages were all sepia'd, but some of the pictures were moving Harry Potter style. The date on the yearbook said 200815. I figured it was a new numbering system, something like 15 years after the crisis, or seven years after 2008, making 15. I told my brother that it was dumb, and he agreed. We both looked through the pages forever, trying to find some shred of our former lives. The school was functioning like normal. High school kids, doing their thing. Obviously the world was different, but they were living in the new world.

We finally found evidence of us after a long search. There was one picture of a bunch of kids in front of the trophy cases by the main gym. It was a picture that the yearbook staff had put in from many years ago. I immediately saw a bunch of familar faces, as it was from our year. After a few people moved, I saw myself in the back, on my cell phone. I felt stupid for being on my cell phone for the picture, but overjoyed to know that I had actually existed and that these two worlds that I had known were connected. As I looked at the picture, me and Andrew saw in the trophy case various incarnations of Wilbur. We saw two that we identified as our own. We said something like "Our guardians" or "Our legacy" in reference to those two mascots. Interesting to note is that this part has no basis on reality. Me and Andrew have strong ties to one incarnation of wilbur, but that wasn't in the dream. It was like he and I had crafted these wilbur's. Interesting, eh? We both knew that we had existed, and that while we'd been absent for at least seven years, that those seven years hadn't seen us entirely erased.

And that was most of the dream. I woke up before I needed to, so I laid in bed for a long time thinking about it all. As dreams go, it was very interesting, just because of the scenario that it presented. I had never really placed myself in a situation like that before, where everything was uncertain. Where all the givens of life were tossed out the window. Is there food out there? Are there zombies waiting to eat me? I'm yet to see I am Legend, but I have heard that there's a similar idea there. Don't blame it on that.

I'm taking the dream for what it's worth, obviously. Just an interesting dream, and sort of fun to think about. I wonder if such a thing actually happened, how I'd react. I think that as a group we did a fairly decent job. Dream logic is obviously not the same as wakeful logic. What if me and a few buddies had actually found ourselves instantaneously several years in the future after a global crisis? Would we have ever opened the door to see what was on the other side? Would we have turned the cell phones on, hoping that somehow we'd find an outside world? Would we have saved the fruitsnacks, or would we have eaten them there? One of the things about the dream was that each step away from the initial safe room was a brave undertaking. Opening the door the first time could have meant our death. Once we had secured the house, we took the next uncertain step to the outside world. Once we had secured our surroundings, we took the step down the street to the church. Once that was figured out, we took the step to the highschool. Step by step. In reality, I don't know if we'd have ever opened the door. Things worked out alright for us, maybe I'd be brave enough to do it. Just interesting stuff to think about, that's all.


Some more to write about, but I hope there'll be another day for it. It's been a good post for me to write. I hope that you're all doing well. Happy Sunday evening, friends. I wish you good things.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Taylorsville Alliance Valentine's Special 2008

Hey everybody, happy Valentine's day.

Last night me, Nickmo, and Jaron sat down for our annual alliance valentine's interview. All three of us will be posting this today. It was a great experience, and I hope you all enjoy. Whoosh!


Alrighty, welcome one and all to the Taylorsville Alliance's Second Annual Valentine's Day Interview. I'm Thatcher, and I'll be chiming in black. Nickmo will represent blue, and Jaron will be green. Questions will be in pink.

I'll get this ball rolling. What are you looking for in your life right now, regarding relationships? Are you looking for that special girl? Looking for a temporary girlfriend? Avoiding? Tell us what, and why.

I'm looking for "the one." A lot of people say high school is too young... and maybe it is for a lot of people, maybe it is for me, but... It's not like I've never liked anyone. I did have real feelings for people, and it didn't work out, I know how painful it can be, and I think that helps me know how hard I really do have to work to keep my relationship together. I don't ever wanna go back to being the lonely one. Part of me thinks that when people say "high school is too young" they're referring to the stupid jerks who don't take things seriously yet. There are plenty of stories about high school sweethearts getting married and living happily :) I think that can be me too, if I work at it very hard.

So are you saying that, right now, you're actively on the hunt for "the one"? I mean, I just think there's a difference between maybe coincidentally meeting "the one" and actively seeking out a girl you're gonna plan to marry. What's the status there?

Well... truth be told, I really think I've found her. I... hesitate to say too much. I don't want to be too freakishly personal here, but... How it happened was mostly a chance thing. We happened to meet at just the right time in our lives, and there was this weird connection. I guess it's chemistry. But I still didn't want to accept that I liked her for a LONG time, and she really liked me, so she pursued me. She would always get rides home from me, and give me hugs and wouldn't let go... stuff like that. It took me a while to accept my feelings. When I did, it was like this big "duh" moment. There was nothing to be afraid of. So... I suppose, it's kind of a combination of the two? There is definitely a lot of chance involved, but you still gotta know what to go for and what to leave behind.

Right on, thanks for sharing. Now, you don't have to answer this one if you don't want to, but I'll put it out there anyways. Curious, since you are accepting the possibility of a serious future here, is there anything that you're doing right now to specifically prepare for that?

Definitely. I have been trying my best to learn the kinds of lessons I'm gonna need in a successful relationship. Sacrifice, patience, communication, honesty, sincerity, trust... so many things. It's a step-by-step sort of thing, and I mess up, of course, but it's a learning thing. I try to remember things I learned in Adult Roles, and I look for little random factoids about happily married couples (5:1 positive-to-negative ratio!) and see what I can do to be more like that. It's all taught me a lot... it's knowledge that I definitely wouldn't get if I wasn't serious about it all. And even if I wasn't thinking about one girl in particular... the thing they say about "being the kind of person you want to marry" is so true. Developing yourself and becoming a better person yourself is probably one of the best ways to prepare for a lifelong relationship, as far as I know :D

Right on, that's great, thanks for answering Jaron. Nickmo, original question?

While I think it'd be great to have a girlfriend, and definitely some good experience for the future, I definitely don't see it happening in high school, for a few reasons that I've discussed before. I'm not against high school relationships at all, and I like the idea of it, I just want to avoid it at this point to avoid being hurt or hurting someone. I don't really think this is the time or the place for elaborating on my reasons for making this decision, but I really like girls, no worries, I just don't think a relationship's the best thing for me at this point.

Follow up for you, Nickmo. Last year when we did this interview you were pretty opposed to high school relationships. You said something like "
Right now, I realize that nobody needs a romantic relationship in high school, no matter how much they might want it." Can I ask what changed between now and then? What made your feelings reverse on that issue?

What made my feelings reverse? Probably hormones. Or maybe I really want a relationship because I can't have one. Haha. Honestly, I think I just said that last year because I was just trying to avoid saying something like I really really want one and sounding ridiculously stupid, because last year me had even less of a chance of getting a girlfriend than this year me does. Which isn't very much. Haha. I was probably just jealous and trying to avoid embarrassment. Your turn to answer the initial question, Chris.

I'm doing my best to avoid getting into a relationship right now. While there's plenty of nights when I think it'd make my life easier, in the end I figure that it's just not the best move I can make at this point. That doesn't mean that I'm not looking at the ladies pretty closely, though. With college approaching and everything else in my life forward, I can't help but think about the future. Now, I'm not running around saying "Oh, I could totally marry her in four years," but I am looking at certain girls and certain qualities that are good or bad. It's sorta weird, and more or less involuntary, but I'm starting to notice things like that more and more. I think that I'm basically data mining right now. Observing what's good and what's bad while keeping myself unaffiliated for a lot of reasons. School, council, my own fear of hurting somebody and being hurt, and friends are all doing a good job to keep me from making any moves.

Cool. My turn: What's the deal with Valentine's Day? Is it a necessary holiday? Is it just a scam by Hallmark to make guys buy crap for girls? Why/why not?

You know, I'm not opposed to Valentine's Day at all. Yes, I know, for a healthy relationship, it's probably good to pay attention to your significant other every day of the year. But having reminders of all that never really hurts. I believe that it does add a lot of stress to a relationship, and that it can be potentially dangerous. Yeah, I do think that Hallmark profits from it, but I'm not opposed to people making a good profit. To be honest, I'm a little excited about the prospect of Valentine's Days in my future. I'm not incredibly orthodox when it comes to relationships and all that, but I see Valentine's Day as an opportunity to be creative and do something amazing for someone that I really care about. I thrive on opportunities to prove myself. What could be cooler than working really hard to say something that means so much to you? I don't know, I just think it'll be pretty awesome. High school, bahaha, Valentine's Day is a joke. But in the future, yeah, I'm really looking forward to that opportunity and obligation.

I sorta answered this in my blog yesterday, but I'll do a short recap. I think Valentine's is awesome. I think it's great that love gets its own holiday. What isn't so awesome is how a lot of people seem to think that it's all about the gifts and the expensive date and whatnot. I think a little outside-of-the-box thinking needs to happen. I don't think that it should be the one day a year you take your sweetie out to dinner... I think it's yet another helpful excuse to do something that you should already be doing on a regular basis anyway, and a celebration of your happy relationship. Like I said about President's Day: The president is still around every other day. So should love.

My turn, I guess. I like the idea of Valentine's Day, but it's got poor execution. Guys forget about it and rush out to buy something at the last minute to make their girlfriend happy, and the focus of the holiday seems to be on material objects. I do know that when/if I get a girlfriend, I'll try not to make it all about stuff, because if the girl focuses on how much compressed coal I can put on her finger, then she's not really a great person, and also because worrying about stuff like that detracts from what should be the spirit of Valentine's Day. In short, Valentine's would be cool if we didn't feel so pressured to make it all about material objects.

"If the girl focuses on how much compressed coal I can put on her finger, then she's not really a great person" - I agree. Rings are nice, but that shouldn't be the focus.

Hmm... What is your favorite/most memorable/worst Valentine's memory?

I guess I'll take a stab at it with the only Valentine's Day that's ever been anything but neutral to me. It was ninth grade, and me and Eunice (names have been changed to protect the innocent) had very recently had a serious downgrade to our relationship. I wasn't entirely sure where I stood as far as she was concerned. I knew I hadn't entirely given up hope. So, in English that day we had done something with arts and crafts, and I had some tiny fake flower that I horked from the pile of stuff we didn't use. I figured I'd go throw it at her, you know, just as a "Hey, I'm still alive, isn't that great?" kinda thing. So I'm walking over there towards her locker, and she opens it up about six seconds before I got there. As soon as she opened it up about a billion of those candy hearts spilled out all over the place. Yeah, I can't compete with that. So I just walked on dejected. Granted, I hadn't put any effort into my attempt, but it still hurt to get so upstaged. Rahahahaha.

Aww, sad, about the candy hearts thing. That must have been a bummer.

My Valentine's memory was my first kiss. Actually, it was my NOT first kiss. I liked this girl (the first one I was serious about) and on Valentine's, I wanted to kiss her. I would give her the present and then exchange a quick first kiss before she got in the car to drive away. Nothing fancy, nothing fancy. The night before, I got this random idea. I found a conversation heart that said "let's kiss" and decided to give it to her, kind of to break the ice. (I was sore afraid.) Well... the day came, and as we're coming up to my house, I realize that we hadn't even kissed on the cheek yet, and I started to panic. We couldn't skip a step! (Like I said, I was on edge. This was a big deal.) So, I chickened out. I gave her the gift, but not the heart. She pulled me in for the hug, and then paused... that was the moment I was supposed to turn my head and kiss her, but I froze. She kissed my cheek instead, got into the car, and drove away.

That is the story of my almost-first kiss.

Awww, sadness for Jaron. But then again, the Captain Clean Lips inside me secretly rejoices for your sorrow. Rejection always means clean lips, and clean lips always mean sanitation and medical security.

Clean lips club for the win.... I think... I don't have any experiences with Valentine's Day, either, except for the interview thingy last year. With Megan. Haha... that was hilarious. But yeah, I got nothing. I've never been within a mile of having a relationship, so I've never had anything special or whatever to do on Valentine's. I think this Thursday will most likely be my most memorable/fun Valentine's Day ever, and the first one I'll ever have a date on.

Turns out we've got some guest questions. K.K. asks What's your favorite love song ever?

Oh snap, that's a good question. I think that love songs come and go for me. In ninth grade, it was definitely "Crazy for the Girl" - Evan and Jaron. It was sorta the theme song for the first half of that year. Then I didn't listen to it for six months, ha. It's not my favorite any more though. I think for all time favorite love song, I'm gonna go with "Better Days" - Goo Goo Dolls. That song always evokes very strong emotion for me. When I think of a girl that I could be really serious with, I gotta think that me and her would both feel that song, just because of the way that she'd have to be for me to be serious about her. Does that make any sense?

Hmm. Well, I think the best slow dancin' song ever is "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias. As for my favorite love song... That's a tough question. I could give you a few that I really like: "Better Together" by Jack Johnson. "Stolen" by Dashboard Confessional. "Everything" by Lifehouse. "Blind" by Lifehouse. Um... There are just a lot of good ones for different moods and situations, you know? "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5... "A Plain Morning" by Dashboard... "Home" by Michael Buble is a great one. I guess it depends on if "I miss you" songs count as love songs. And truthfully, some of the fun, happy ones really are quite good. "Here (In Your Arms)" by Hellogoodbye. "Red Sweater" by The Aquabats. The list goes on :)

Agreed. "Stolen" is really good, but unfortunately, it comes down to three other ones for me. First of all, there's "Hands Down" by Dashboard, mainly because of the line "My hopes are so high that your kiss might kill me, so won't you kill me so I die happy." I need to use that for a pickup line sometime. Then of course, there's "O Valencia!" by The Decemberists. That's a really good, bittersweet song. Everyone should go look it up, it's on YouTube. One of my favorites of all time. Last but not least is "What Sarah Said" by Death Cab for Cutie. It's a painfully sentimental song with a terribly good thought-provoking line: "Love is watching someone die." That line just makes me think every time I hear it...

"Hands Down" - I agree, that's a great one. I also really like "Of Angels and Angles" by The Decemberists. It makes me smile :)

Another guest question, this time from my good friend J.J. from south of the border. She asks, Do guys actually like Valentine's Day or do you think it's overrated getting your signifigant other chocolate, etc., etc.?

I like Valentine's Day. I don't know about overrated... if anything, it's underrated, or just misunderstood. I guess it's the same answer as before. I think sometimes people just lose sight of the real meaning.

Like we've said, Valentine's Day shouldn't be all about the Benjamins. It should be more about the love.

M.Wh. asks: Do you think that if a girl likes a guy, he'll start liking her back because she likes him, or vice versa?

Yes. I don't know about falling head over heels for the girl right away, but there's a definite impact. My brother Michael has always said that there's nothing in the world that's more attractive than a girl who likes you. I know it maybe shouldn't be that way, but once I figure out a girl likes me, I always like her more than I did before I knew she liked me. It just happens. Whether he'll officially "like her back" is still up in the air, but he'll definitely like her more, I think.

I think it's probably true, but I hesitate to say anything either way because I haven't experienced this before (to my knowledge). So yeah, probably.

Hmm. Tough question... I don't think it's a black and white thing, but I do think it has an impact. I mean, think about how hard it is to like someone who doesn't like you back. I imagine the effect can be reversed to a certain extent... it makes it a little harder to not like someone who likes you back. But I think there are plenty of other factors that can be much more repelling than the extent to which a one-way attraction can be inviting. If... that makes sense. I guess what I'm trying to say is, it can have a bit of an effect, more or less depending on the person and their situation, but I don't think it's a huge factor. I think mostly what it does is eliminate that awkward first barrier - that "I don't know if she likes me" thing. With that out of the way, it's easier for a relationship to connect and start, if there's a potential there.

Our good friend M.We. asks: What defines a Valentine? I mean, if I'm not dating someone, can I still have one?

I think it can be anyone you ask to be your Valentine. And no reason why people can't have more than one! Your best friends can be your Valentines. I guess it's just whoever you care about the most. I mean, I guess Valentine's is sorta a celebration of romantic love, but think about elementary school. We gave Valentine's to everybody. So, I suppose a general love for mankind can be a valid cause for Valentine celebration. I think so long as it's about love and happy feelings, you can direct it toward anything you like, whether you've got a boyfriend or not. That's why the whole Singles Awareness Day thing doesn't fly for me :D That's just me.

Haha. I'm terribly aware of my single-tude every day, so Valentine's is just like every other day. ;) But yeah, I think that anyone can be your V-dog. I think my Valentine this year is either Jennifer or inadvertently Megan, so who knows? It could be anyone, even a clarinet. Go for it. Also, I like the idea of polygatining.

+ A billion word choice for polygatining. I had to think about it for a tic, but wow, that's pretty smooth. As for the initial question, I'm going to have to be the dissenting vote here. For me, relationships are pretty much an all or nothing thing. I think that if you're gonna have a Valentine, they've got to mean something to you. And if they mean something to you, at least in a romantic sense, I don't think there can be any other Valentines. If you want to say that a buddy is your Valentine, that's fine, but what does that mean? Myself, I couldn't do it. If I had a declared Valentine, she'd definitely be a lot more to me than a buddy.

I just thought about it, and... a Valentine is such an abstract thing. What does it mean? "Be My Valentine." "Okay." And then... what? You know? I guess it can just mean anything you want it to.

Ok, a question from me now. What's the best girl for you? How is she? What's she about? In addition, why are those things important to you?

The best girl for me? At this point, I know a few who would probably fit the bill, but I don't know how sure I am about that. The "perfect" girl would have to be into classical music, and the bands I like. She'd have to be intelligent, someone you can carry a conversation with. She'd have to be funny and into my sense of humor, which can be extremely bizarre at times. She'd have to have a personality I couldn't stand to live without. She'd have to be someone my mind would keep returning to when she's not there, someone I couldn't help but wonder about. She'd have to be mysterious and intriguing. She'd have to believe a lot of the same things I do. Since they say opposites attract, she'd have to have pretty high self-esteem and be pretty confident. She's all about the love and the sensitivity. All of those things are important to me because what they taught us in adult roles is true: you need someone who's really similar to you in most ways. That's my current opinion. All of those things are important to me because those are the things I deal with in my daily life, and if she couldn't be a part of that, it wouldn't work out. Haha, reading that back, it really sounds like I'm picky. Haha... maybe that's why I don't have a girlfriend.

The best girl for me would be one who could offset me in just the right way - someone who could help me bring out my imperfections and help me learn to fix them, or at least motivate me to try a little harder. I believe that there is an amazing power of mutual growth and development that can happen when a couple works together on their problems in a loving way. I agree with Nick on the "similar" thing. It's easiest to connect with someone who's a lot like you. I'd need someone mostly introverted, but who could open up to me. The way I work is, I have my few close friends that I can open up to, and that's all I need. Sometimes it can be down to just one lifeline. I know it's dangerous, but... that's how I roll ;) To be each other's lifeline and to have the trust and faith that neither of us would do anything to break that would be a very rewarding and uplifting thing for me. Um... she'd have to like physical expressions of affection. Healthy ones, of course. I'd have to be able to feel absolutely and completely comfortable with her. I'd need to feel that I am unconditionally cared for. I'd need someone who wouldn't get freaked out by my intensity... (weird for me to say, yes, but I hate having to hold back my feelings, so when I feel strongly for someone, it comes out.) Similar interests are always good. Someone to just do stuff with, stuff we both love. Video games, writing, whatever. I would need companionship, partnership, just a feeling of general togetherness. Nick said he wanted a mysterious girl, but I would have a hard time with that. It would frustrate me. I want to know what's going on in her mind, just like I want her to know what's going on in mine. Sometimes that can't be helped, but communication is. Um... someone who didn't need a lot of expensive gifts, but is appreciative of them when I give them. Someone kind, definitely. I can't handle teasing... I'm over-sensitive. Someone who doesn't like teasing, except in very limited circumstances. Um... yeah, that's just a small list :D Guess who I'm thinking of... Good question.

Wow, you guys make the application to be a CIA agent look like candy. Anyways, I think the most important thing for me is somebody that wants to move forward. Somebody who's got a firm idea of where they've been, where they are now, and where they are going. Somebody who has their priorities straight, and above all else, somebody that wants to be a better person. If that's my end goal, I want somebody else with that same goal. I think that if there's a girl who's really working to be a better person, everything else will start to fall into place. There will be problems in any relationship, no matter the qualities that the individuals possess. A desire to grow and be better means that we can learn from those problems together and become greater. Somebody that believes deeply the things that I believe is important to me. That's why I make my life the way it is, and I couldn't see myself sharing someone else's life that wasn't sure of that. Progress, I think, is what it's all about. And a girl that could help me progress, and that I could help progress, and that could help our children progress, that's number one for me.

Honestly, I should probably add that I don't really know what the perfect girl will be like until I find her. At this point, I'm just a naive little Utahn boy pretending I know what I want, when in reality, I probably have no clue. When/if I find that perfect girl, she might be exactly like I described her, or she might be completely different.

S.P. asks: How do you define love?

Wow. That's a good question. I define love as... when two people become one and their sum is greater than their parts. Obviously not literally, but... there is this connection that is just unmistakable. And it includes so many different feelings... a lot of happiness, when you're with the other person or thinking about them, but also a lot of pain when you aren't together. It's when a smile jumps to your face whenever you see them. It's when you can't get rid of that smile, no matter how hard you try. It's when they're talking to you and you realize that the world around you has gone by without you noticing it. It's when your mind automatically jumps to them whenever you're not doing anything else. It's how you think about them when everything else gets quiet at night. It's when you see something beautiful and wish that they could see it with you. It's when you know that you want nothing more than to be with that person forever. It's when the conversation comes easy and natural. It's when you feel so comfortable with them that you divulge every dark secret you have and know that they will still love you afterwards. It's when you want to become a better person for the one you love. It's when you try not to do anything bad, even if no one else will know about it, because you know that it affects them too. It's how you know that every single thing you do or think about gets transferred to them in some way. It's how you know that your lives are no longer just your own; you are sharing them together, and the best part is, you're happy about it. It's when you lose sight of some things that you thought were so important before and understand that you are better off without them. It's life-changing. It's monumental. It's incredible. It's probably the best thing worth pursuing in this life. It's what separates us from animals and brings us closer to being gods.

Yeah. Stuff like that :) I like what Courtney said: "Love is like, Woah!" It's hard to pin down... but you know it when you feel it.

Love is interesting. Love is always exciting. You should never be bored in love, you should always discover new things about the person you love, little things maybe, but nevertheless, things you didn't know. Love is when you can't think of enough ways to say what love is (*cough* Jaron). Love is painful when it's not requited. Love is painful when it is requited, sometimes more so than the unrequited kind. Love is knowing when to stop. Love is watching someone die. Death Cab had that right. Love is not even knowing what love is, but knowing that you're in it.

I think that love, in its true form, is a gift from God. And I think that it's given bit by bit, as we work for it. It's care for the other person. Genuine concern for their well being. That concern is an entirely altruistic thing, though. It's not about you, it's about them. And why it's about them, well, maybe we won't know, but we know that it is, and we act on it.

K.S. asks: What's your perfect thing to do on a date, activity wise?

I really like laid-back hang-out-type things where there is a lot of talking, about big and little questions. But this really only works with people you're already very close to. I like having no plan whatsoever... just watching a movie, or going on a random frosty run, or playing pokemon cards, or whatever. Just being together. I suppose that's not really a date...

I agree with Jaron, the spontaneous/weird stuff is pretty cool. Haha, like my date for Valentine's Day, it was kind of random and spur-of-the-moment, but I think it's gonna be awesome. My favorite kinds of dates are the ones where it's really casual and you're just there to have fun. Of course, if/when I start looking for a girlfriend, it'll probably switch to the more talking/asking questions sort of date where you're trying to get to know someone you don't even know, since most of my dates have been with pretty good friends. So yeah, casual dates are good. :D

Agreed with the two above, more or less. Structure in a date is in no way a bad thing. as long as it facilitates genuine talking. That's my number one on a date. Can I actually talk to a girl? Can we learn more about each other? Can I find out what kind of person she is? Hopes? Fears? Dreams? If I can't do that on a date, it really wasn't worth much to me. That's what I think dates ought to be about. I love having a great time, and that's cool, but I can have a great time with my boys. If I'm on a date, I'm there to have a great time with you, and to learn more about you.

M.B. asks: What would it take to make Valentine's Day romantic for a guy?

I don't think it would really take a lot. I mean, if he's the one buying the chocolates and dinner and whatever, he probably just wants to be comfortable and have a laugh or two with the girl, maybe get a good hug at the end of the night. He wants to enjoy his evening. He wants it all to go over smoothly, and hopes that at the end of it all, he and his Valentine are a bit closer. Truth is, though, I'm probably not the best guy to ask about this :D For me personally, it would be my aforementioned plan-less fun-time with a special someone. We can go to, like... Dee's for some breakfast-for-dinner, and then go to my house and watch a movie while we bake cookies, and then snuggle on the couch for a bit and talk about stuff. I just think the biggest thing is feeling comfortable with being me and wasting time in the best way I can. :)

I think what it would take is for the girl to lay off on the pressure. I'd have to be in a relationship first of all, for a Valentine's Day to even want to be romantic. But really I think all it would take is for the girl not to treat it like anything special. If it's just another day where we maybe spend more time together, then that's fine by me. I think the most romantic Valentine's Day would consist of me getting her a gift that's more of an inside joke that's really meaningful to both of us, instead of some expensive chunk of compressed coal (still like that), and then having a nice quiet dinner, home-made or at a restaurant, it doesn't matter, and then just maybe renting a movie or sitting and talking. That would be an awesome day. Can't say no to any of that. That's all it would take, one romantic, pressure-free day, neither one of us trying to impress the other. Just being happy to be with the other.

This is the one romantic answer you'll get out of me. To be romantic for a guy, the right girl would have to come and say "Hey, I really like you. You make me want to be a better person, and I make you want to be a better person. I'm a great girl, and you're a great guy. What do you say?" and I'd say, wow, let's take this slow. And that'd start a train. And nothing would happen for a few weeks, but a few weeks later I'd hold her hand, etc. etc. Honestly, that'd be the most romantic thing.

Haha, I have to be honest, all this talk of Valentine's has me wanting to abandon my quest. But I'm certain nothing would happen if I did. So nay. I will remain strong.


And that's it for the Taylorsville Alliance 2008 Valentine's Day Interview. I feel really good about what happened here tonight. It's always good to come together with two other guys that you respect a lot and talk about things that are important to us. Much thanks to Nickmo and Jaron for all their great insights, as well as all the friends out there who contributed questions. Incredible thanks to everybody who reads this thing. Even more incredible thanks to those who comment on this. Also, if there's anything that you feel we didn't answer thoroughly enough, something you want to ask a follow up on, or just a normal question that you have, feel free to ask away. Because of how cool this was tonight, we might just start doing this more often.

Thanks for being here everybody. I'm glad we've been able to have this discussion. Much love. I hope you're all doing well, and good luck for the future.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Hey everybody, happy Friday. I'm back after not having written for a while.

It's been a rough week. I haven't been able to get myself into any one strong schedule, and so most everything has suffered a bit. UBSCT sleeping in was great the first day, but it just threw me off the next two.

I really strive on schedules. When things are constant, life is good. I think I've said it before, but changing breakfast cereals is always rough on my blood sugar levels. If I mess up breakfast, lunch is trouble, and if lunch is trouble, it's always a lot harder to make the rest of the day go well. When I can nail breakfast, everything else has a tendency to fall into place. Of course, nailing breakfast is in large part dependent upon how I did when I went to bed the night before. Everything is very connected, and when I'm in a schedule I can predict and react more accurately.

So the schedule has been off, and that's been messing with me a bit. School was harder for me this week than it has been in a very long time. I'm two and a half calculus assignments behind. Part of that is 55 minute class periods' fault, part of it is my own laziness, and another part is external factors. Regardless of the reasons though, being behind in calculus is trouble. Getting caught back up will require a marathon of epic proportions. I will make it happen, but I don't know, I don't like not getting it. I understand the principles, but there are just so many little things that trip me up. Sometimes I don't even know where to start. I really really want to natively understand calculus. I want it to be pure and entirely clean to me, but it just isn't happening. I don't get it the way I wish I did. I'll need to do a lot of work in order to make that happen. I know I can do it, I'm just worried that it won't happen soon enough or that it'll run into something or other that'll make it so I never do it. I don't want that to happen.

English has been crazy. I've let myself get personally involved in the class. Some classes that's alright in. In Chemistry last year, I had to become personally involved or I'd have withered and died. I had to invest myself in that class and make it part of me in order to succeed. I think, in a way, that's what I have to do with all of my classes, at least a bit. I need to care about it enough to do excellent work for no reason other than to do excellent work. That doesn't happen in all of my classes.

In English I'm personally involved, but it's the wrong kind of involvement. I'm not really invested in the class at all right now. I don't look at it as an opportunity to learn like I ought to. Right now it's just somewhere I go. My friends are there, and we have a good time. I do love fab vocab. It just feels like I'm constantly butting heads with the teacher though. I know we can laugh and get along and make jokes, but sometimes I just feel like it's a fight. My Hamlet essay was a tragedy because I got too involved. I took it as a personal battle, and I totally defeated myself. I tried to write it without any of my own voice in it. Part of that was a bitter response to the little sit down I had with the teacher. Bitter responses never make for high quality writing. There's a lot of work that's constantly due in that class, and it's just sort of dragging on me. I really enjoy the people in the class, and I find joy in some of the work. I just feel like it's a bit excessive.

So school's been a little crazy. I got my computer tech business sorted out. I am taking it through community ed now. I've got the book, and I'm doing the work out of it. I need to finish 'reading' it and answering the questions, and then I need to create three projects on the computer. Then I turn them in and I'm done. The book is copyrighted 1985, which is incredibly cool. "Internet" isn't in the index. 20 megabyte disks are huge. It's hilarious to see how things were back in the day. I'm a little more than halfway through the book. I'm really excited to read the chapters about the future of the computer, just to see how accurately they predicted. It's interesting, that's for sure. I'm happy to be nearly done with it. Once I get it taken care of, I'll be in line to graduate. I haven't been in line since sophomore year. It's a pretty great deal.

I've been unhappier this week than I usually am. There are a lot of factors that play into this. I haven't accomplished a lot of the things that I wanted to this week. I'm behind with homework, and I missed a few deadlines. I've been less healthy this week. My diet hasn't been all that great, and my bloodsugar has averaged about 30 points higher than I want it to. I haven't been sleeping great. I've been between the old schedule and the new schedule. I think either schedule would work, but inbetween isn't quite doing it for me.

I'm not unhappy right now. I've still been pretty happy this week. It's just important to note that this week has seen more unhappiness than most other weeks. It's been interesting.

So, naturally, I've been thinking about cause and effect. Why are things not as good for me this week? I listed a lot of the reasons above. I think it all stems from the fact that I haven't worked as hard this week. I've been lazy. And because I've been lazy, I haven't done a great job taking care of myself.

So, solution: be less lazy. Take better care of myself. Drink more water, eat healthier. Sleep better. Do more work. Think more. Utilize time wisely. Be kinder.

I've thought a lot about the way I want to be. You all saw my great excitement about the new plan. The idea that I'd get to bed by midnight was really appealing. I've been looking for a change for a while now.

Two weeks into this new program, and I haven't succeeded once. I still think it's a great idea, and I still want to work for it. But I think that, perhaps, it's more important that I work on some other things first, to build to it.

I want to start working out again. That's one thing that I haven't been doing at all for the past several months. Workout has always served to make me feel better about myself from every single angle. Working out has provided me with incredible results time and time again. It makes me a happier and more effective person. I haven't done any of it for a really long time. I feel like I need to start reaping those benefits again. I want the added energy I get, and I want the added ability and happiness.

Step one is going to be to start working out more. I don't intend to start all that fast, but it'd be glorious to get out for a jog this next week. I'll do more stretching and a tiny bit of work before bed. I've got a bit of a plan, and I'm going to go for it.

I also want to start writing and thinking more. Blogaday was good because it made me think. I always feel accomplished when I write. Just like working out, I feel like it adds to my ability and helps me be happier. It's a two for one deal.

Particularly with the writing, I want to start talking more about ideas. I tried a long time ago to do an idea-a-day. It was sorta like blogaday, except instead of a post a day, I'd write about an idea I had a day. Sometimes I had an idea from before, and other times I'd create the idea for the post that day. Some were business models, others were design ideas or products or etc. etc. But I want to start thinking more about that stuff. And I think one of the best ways to do that is to write about it. When I have an idea I think it'd be cool to come here and flesh it out a bit.

Most of the ideas that I'll write about won't really be good ideas. I recognize that, and even celebrate it a bit. The goal here is not to write great ideas, but rather to explore and learn a bit. I'll take crap for them, but I don't want anybody to assume that I think they're incredibly ideas. They're just ideas, and I'm going to start writing about them. Hooray!

So that's what I've been looking at lately. I've got a ton of work that I need to get done. Having a lot on your plate is incredibly cliche', but it's the way things are right now. I think the key for me is going to be remembering what's important. If I'm going to not get something done, I want to make sure that whatever it is that suffers isn't the important stuff. There are certain things that I'm willing to let slide. I'll let calculus assignments slide, because I know they're not the most important things. There are other things, though, and I'm not willing to give up. Things that I'll fight for.

High school has always been something that I've fought for. It's been really important to me. I think the work that I've put in has paid off, no questions. I'm coming to a point in my life where high school isn't always the most important thing though. I'm not saying that I'm about to stop doing homework in favor of something else, but I'm saying that I want to really do what I've got to do. There are things that are important, and I'm going to keep those things my primary concern. I need to work on keeping the big things big and the little things little.

I just feel like it's time to go back to the basics. Like it's time to focus on being instead of doing for a bit. I want to be a better person, obviously, so I want to take steps to make that happen. I feel like working out and writing more are going to help that to happen. At the end of the day I want to go to bed happy about the progress I've made that day. And I want that progress to come from calculus and english and working out and writing. I want it to come from all over the place. But the most important thing is that I want it to come, and that I'm going to take steps to make it happen. It's a process, obviously. But hey, while I'm living, I might as well do something with myself, right?

So here I am. Friday night. Pretty late. Legs are sore, not sure why. Pretty tired, and really looking forward to the time I've got to sleep. Tomorrow ought to be a good day. I'm going to try to make it the best that I can. But for now friends, I depart from hence. Thanks for listening, I do appreciate it.