Monday, December 28, 2009


Christmas break gives you a chance to look back at things you haven't even thought about for a long time. In organizing some of my old, stored away items, I found a little plastic tote with some of my old mission items in it. Looking through it has been a treat in some ways, and a pain in others - for better or worse I remembered the good and the bad parts of my mission (though not all of them).

One thing that is for certain, though, is this: the painful memories of the past fade away with time, and the good memories seem to get brighter. I remembered my companions - Elders, Perry and Hembree (I can't remember how to spell his name :P) in Kariya, Elder Watson in Hikone, Elder Heath and Elder Miyara in Yamato-Koriyama, Elder Taysom in Hanayashiki, Elder Shurtz and Elder Dangerfield in Matsuzaka. They were all good people, and they were doing their best to fulfill the calling they were called to. None of my companionships were perfect (and I'll bet the worst of the problems I had in my companionships were my own fault...), but there were good memories in all of them. I just hope my companions can find it in their hearts to forgive my foolishness - then maybe they can remember the good parts of their mission with brightness, as well.

If I've learned nothing else from my reflections on my mission, I've at least learned one thing: have fun. I was stiff, foolish, and generally stupid for the majority of my mission, and while I don't recommend taking pictures like the one on the left (called a purikura), I do recommend being yourself on your mission, whatever that entails. The people in this picture are from the top left: Elder Robison, Elder Dangerfield, (middle) Elder Fitch (a new bean-chan from the MTC at the time), myself, (bottom) Elder Blair and Elder Graves. Good people all.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Winner Take All?

I've made it about halfway through the book "winner take all society", and I don't know if I'll finish.

My opinion of the book can be summed in a response to a statement on the one hundred seventh page of the book:

"If the goal is to maximize society's total income, how many should compete for the recording contract?

I answer this with another question: Whose place is it to decide the contestants in such a contest, anyway? Sure, letting too many people compete for such a contract may be inefficient from an economics perspective (though I think the verdict is out on THAT conclusion), but if faced with a choice between inefficiency and freedom, I will choose the latter EVERY TIME. I think Ben Franklin said it best: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

This "safety" includes economic safety as well. Our society would do well to remember that.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

An unfortunate disappointment (in the movies).

Going into a movie with high expectations often sets you up for disappointment, and that's how I feel about Avatar, which I saw today. I'm not much of a reviewer, but here's my two bits on the movie:

First, I'll give credit where credit is due. The visuals in the movie are absolutely stunning - anyone planning on seeing the movie should see it in 3D. I don't know how long James Cameron spent working on those aspects of the movie, but the time he spent on it showed. The visuals weren't overdone, either - parts of the movie that should have stuck out did, but they didn't get too far into your face. The CG sequences seemed to mesh seamlessly with the live action sequences as well - in short, watching the movie was a treat.

The problem, however, lies in the characters written into the movie - they weren't fleshed out nearly enough. The antagonist in the movie was one dimensional, the quintessential bad, stupid, career military fool, and the company hack was a fool as well, written to have no conscience. Painting an antagonist as stupid is not necessarily a problem, but even a stupid person is multi-dimensional. Cameron's protagonist wasn't.

Even Sigourny Weaver's character didn't seem real by any stretch of the imagination - her talent was wasted on a character badly written. The character seemed to start hard and crusty, but turned into a nice, kind person at some other points in the movie, without any reason to do so. The character was out of character.

Coming into the movie, I didn't want to believe the average critic's review giving the movie 2.5 stars. I unfortunatley now must agree with those critics. Without the visuals, the movie would probably have struggled to get two stars.

Monday, December 21, 2009

General opinions of my last semester:

Besides the subject matter of my classes, here's what I've learned this past semester:

1. Don't bite off more than you can chew.

I was sure I could take 15 credit hours of classes and work 20 hours a week for the semester. I was wrong. I managed to stay afloat until the very beginning of November, but looming coursework after that time proved to me that I wasn't as resilient as I fooled myself into being. After dropping my Differential Equations class, I felt liberated and was able to spend enough time studying for my other classes. I therefore will not take more that 6-8 credit hours of difficult math/physics courses if at all possible for the remainder of my college career, and will do my best take no more than 14 credit hours total as long as I am working 20 hours a week.

2. Perfection is too high a standard.

I believe I will get decent grades this semester, but I will likely miss my perfect straight A semester I planned for myself before the semester began. That being said, I feel I learned the subjects I finished well enough to continue my career, and will do my best to keep it that way for the rest of this one.

3. Improvement is a lifelong process.

This seems like an obvious one, but to me it was a timely revelation. I cannot expect myself to be where I want to be without a little work, and sometimes that work spans over months, or even years.

4. Have fun.

No matter how much I like physics, I occasionally need a little time away from it.

That's all I can think of at the moment, maybe I'll come up with something else later.

Ah, the freedom of Christmas break...

As much as I like to study physics, I'm ecstatic to have a couple of weeks without due dates and deadlines (besides work, of course...though the workload is palpably easier at the end of the year...if only that could last more than a few minutes...)

I'll be taking the next few weeks to take inventory of my year, set a few goals, and decide my future for the next little bit. My goal is to be a better version of myself...We'll see if I can meet that goal.

To all that read this, or whoever unfortunately happens upon it in the future...goodbye for today.