My new favorite dish is Sukiyaki.
I love the salty broth, especially when it soaks into the tofu and makes a tasty treat. My favorite comes from a restaurant called Kyoto in Salt Lake City. I prefer beef to chicken and the thinly sliced, slightly fatty beef used at Kyoto is perfect. I highly recommend it. Tender enough to easily chew, but fatty enough to compliment the broth, making a delicious blend that I find impossible to resist. I often pretend I am going to order something else when I go. I never do.
I hear the Sushi is good.
What I really want to try is Ramen-REAL Ramen, not the dried out 25 ¢ variety found in every grocery store shelf in America. Sadly, I don’t know where to go to try some. Kyoto doesn’t offer it and I have yet to come across it in any of the other Japanese places I have eaten. Perhaps it is too common, too much a every day food to be served by places that often consider themselves fine dining. If anyone knows of a good place to get good Ramen, please let me know. I am getting desperate!
I am formulating an opinion based on current situations, filtered through previous experiences. At some point in the past, I felt I had a better handle on this topic, but looking back, I think at the time, I felt justified in almost every thing I ever thought, regardless of fact (though that is always subjective) or evidence. I don’t blame myself for feeling that way or thinking like that. I see it in almost everyone around that age. If some cause, some idea starts to matter, it is something you throw all your passion into, all your emotion, regardless of reason.
Reason-Somehow it has become the enemy of emotion. I am not sure that is a good thing. Analytic thinking and emotional responses blend perfectly together. They can exist in a perfect balance, with one taking a primary position when the other seems faulty.
But, this post is not about that.
Back in the 90’s, Ellen Degeneres had a moderately successful sit com called of all things, Ellen. It may be hard to remember, but there was a time when her sexuality was only suspect. It was during the course of this show that she came out and openly said she was gay. Shocker! Some companies pulled their commercials. One of those was Wendy’s. Dave Thomas did many good things for adoptive families and there is a foundation that continues to give money and support to families that adopt children. That being said, he did not have a soft spot in his heart for LBGT people. As would be expected, members of the Lesbian and Gay community were a bit upset and some small protests and other things took place. A good friend of mine (being lesbian herself) decided she would no longer be eating at Wendy’s and I joined her in this effort. It seemed like something we could do to at least voice our dissent. I also strongly supported any on site protests or letter writing. Any political action would have been welcomed with a raised fist and happy heart.
Now we have another similar controversy with Chick Fil A. Run by devout Christians, the higher ups have been donating to political groups, some of them Christian backed, that support traditional marriage. Roughly 2 million dollars has been donated. Again, protests have popped up. As the political climate is much different, some government officials have made comments about this type of “hate” not being tolerated in their communities. Funny how things move and shift. Right and wrong ebb and flow.
My conundrum is this-I personally think any two adults (or three or four for that matter) who want to get married, should be able to do so. I think efforts to legislate who can marry who (again, people who WANT to marry) are poor uses of money and energy. These organizations could better use funds (on both sides) to feed hungry people, educate, help addicts, fund my book. That being said, Chick Fil A is well within its rights to have opinions to the contrary. Do I think others have the right to picket and protest out front of restaurants demanding Chick Fil A change? I am not sure.
I personally will not be eating there. The reasons are two fold. First, I don’t agree or support their political position (or religion). The second, the food sucks. Governments cannot legislate thought, only action. Organized efforts to protest and shame businesses into altering their opinions are equally foolish. They are also dangerous roads to travel. No opinion is safe in such a climate.
Fifteen years ago, I would have said differently.
There are very few things I really believe to be correct in a universal sense. The following statement is true, always and forever in any situation.
Everything is a matter of context.
This includes but is not limited to-
Good taste-bad taste (in whatever).
Ideology (and yes, we all have one of those).
Beauty (and any supposed dichotomous opposite).
Truth-truth-truth-truth-truth (see above parenthesis).
I am sure everyone, just like me, feels comfortable in our correctness, our rightness about the things we are most passionate about. The older I get, the more I feel this one statement is all I get to be pious about.
Now we return you to the rest of your life.
Being a part of any trend, you are inevitably part of a backlash against that trend. Road biking has become a very popular thing here in Salt Lake. The more cyclists on the highways and back roads, the more drivers who do not ride (and some that do ride) are bothered by all the bikes. In return, there are many cyclists who are equally upset by the attitude of some drivers who seem oblivious to them as they ride, or worse, drivers who purposely put riders in dangerous situations.
This morning I was witness to mistakes on both sides, and guilty of poor judgement myself.
I rode Emigration canyon this morning and it was glorious. The weather was perfect. A wonderful sunrise added to the beauty of the surroundings and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. As my brother and I neared the end of the climb, two cyclists ahead of us had chosen to ride tandem. The bike lane at this point is wide enough for three bikes to ride side by side, but these two had decided to both ride to the left of the white line, the outside rider actually touching the double yellow center line. If we were to pass these riders on the left (as is the usual convention), we would have to ride in the face of oncoming traffic, where cyclists and cars easily eclipse 35 or 40 MPH. Instead, I chose to pass on the right.
It is the obligation of the passing rider to make his presence known. I was angry because these riders were out in the highway and said nothing. The rider on the inside started to move back into the bike lane. We nearly collided. words were exchanged.
I was angry at the whole situation. The riders out in the road, my poor passing choice, all of this contributing to an unsafe situation where someone could have been seriously injured or killed. A car coming from behind would hopefully see us have time to slow. The danger was from ahead. A cyclist coming down the mountain does not have the same safe bike lane to travel in. The shoulder is littered with rocks and gravel and almost every cyclists rides to the left of the white line while descending. A car traveling down the hill would not have enough time to stop and would certainly try to pass the cyclist on the left, putting them over the center yellow lines. You can imagine the result if that passing situation took place where the four of us were having our poorly timed pissing match.
Later on the ride as I made my way down the canyon, I was passed by a couple of stronger riders. The lead rider passed and immediately moved back to the right, just inside the white line. The trail rider passed and stayed a bit too far to the left. A driver coming from behind intended to warn the riders of his approach and honked his horn twice-right next to me. Scared the holy hell out me and I wobbled a bit. My heart refused to slow down for another fifteen or twenty minutes.
Every rider and driver has made mistake at least once, most likely several times. This is the nature of accidents-someone makes a poor choice cars collide. Sometimes cars and bikes collide. When that happens, the bike always loses.
I have been pondering this list for months.
1. Regardless of whether you’re ‘allowed’ ride in the middle of the road (and in most situations, legally you can), if a car hits you, your being right won’t matter.
2. Talking to your buddy might be part of the riding experience, but riding tandem on narrow shoulders is dangerous to you and to me.
3. Helmets are for your protection. You are free to not wear one, but here’s the deal- if you ride where I ride, you are putting me in a bad situation. If you fall or get hit, it is me that hast to deal with the consequence of your bad choice.
4. None of you, not one, is a world class cyclist. Stop acting like your better than everyone else on the road. Don’t look down on my bike or clothing choice. Your smugness is unwarranted.
5. We are out here together, riding, getting better and stronger. It wouldn’t kill you to wave or acknowledge each other. Look out for each other, care about each other. Be kind.
6. Learn the hand signals and use them for turning, changing lanes, stopping. Also, be damn sure its safe to merge into traffic to turn left rather than expecting the cars to just know what your extended left arm means. You don’t get to ignore traffic laws because they are inconvenient.
1. No matter how big your car or truck is, cyclists really cannot hear you approach until you are almost right behind us. Being frustrated to the point of shouting as you pass (we cant hear your words), is pointless.
2.Don’t honk unless the situation is dire. Remember, we can’t hear you approaching. Honking is most likely going to cause a situation to get worse, not better.
3. If you can, pass wide. Even if the cyclist is riding in an unsafe position, passing close is dangerous. Slowing down might be annoying, but it is better than hitting someone.
4. Road bikes do not do well in gravel or dirt. They cannot go over rocks or glass very well. If you see a rider moving out of the bike lane, assume there is a terrain issue, not that a rider is challenging your road sovereignty.
5. Learn the hand signals and recognize them. Be ready for a cyclist to merge, turn, come into your lane. Better to be safe than kill someone.
6. Remember that cyclists in most cities have equal rights to the road and can if they need to, ride right in the middle of the lane. They are allowed in left turn lanes, they have to stop at stop lights. In SLC, cyclists are allowed to roll through stop signs but are expected to stop if you are already stopped at the intersection.
I feel better. Sorry if this is too over the top or angry. I tried to tone it down. I really just want to be safe when cycling or driving. I know that might be an unrealistic expectation with so many people out and about, but I do my best. I try to do my best. Do better.
About 8 years ago, a work friend and I were sitting around, complaining about the sorry state of affairs we were witnessing. Consumerism, in our superior minds, was the bane of the universe. In this enlightened state, we (jokingly, really) created our own Manifesto, calling it Monkey Monkey. Something for the Profit driven, capitalist, competitor in all of us to sell our souls, willingly.
It was very poorly written.
I just rewrote it (poorly) again. I hope you find it silly.
MONKEY MONKEY MANIFESTO
And lo it came to pass that The Prophet, Max Power, lay in a state of deep sleep brought on by his boozing, and the Lord Monkey Monkey appeared unto him and gave unto him this manifesto.
The Lord Monkey Monkey appeared, and his visage was like unto that of a golden chimpanzee with eight arms, and he was sitting in the lotus posture. He spoke in a voice like unto the voices of an angry mob, and he said:
Thou shalt follow my prophet, Max Power, and Thou shalt be as the blind led by the blind.
The Great Lie must be spread.
The Great Lie states-Profit and consumption are the purposes of life.
Power comes from believing the Great Lie.
Thou shalt consume Object without compunction, forethought or remorse.
Truth reveals thy neighbor to be thine enemy. He competes with thee for scare resources. He must be defeated for thy success to be manifest.
Truth is illusion created to fulfill the Great Lie.
Thou shalt complicate, not simplify.
Thou shalt behave in a spoiled and selfish manner. This is Freedom.
Thou shalt blame others for thy mistakes and missteps.
Thou shalt be sloth and remiss.
Thou shalt pollute the earth with refuse and poison. This is also Freedom.
Monkey Monkey shall lift thee up, and quarterly give thee a new smart phone.
Want and thou shalt consume.
Consume and thou shalt be successful.
The purpose of possession is to acquire even more possessions. yea, even possessions unbounded.
Thou must have Object!
Thou wilt rent several storage spaces for storing Object.
Be fruitful, make lots of babies, and pollute to thy own content.
And remember my siblings in Monkey Monkey, Power comes from believing the Great Lie.
Thought while walking-
How long are we remembered after we die? Does anything we do or say survive a third generation?
I know almost nothing of my Great Grandparents. I am lucky to remember their names. Any generation after that, I wouldn’t be able to recognize in a photo or connect them to my life.
My own influence will not be any more lasting.
When our own faulty expectations we heap on others are shattered, we are the only ones to blame. This is not a new revelation to me or most likely anyone who reads this. For some reason, it just sticks out to me today.
Most of my heroes are writers and thinkers, flawed and imperfect as every other human is. Why do I forgive them while I am unable to do the same for people I actually know?
Every child has to come to terms with their parents being just like everyone else.
Love and obedience are not the same thing.
Being right really doesn’t matter.
Despite its beautiful sunrises and cooler temperatures, early mornings really suck.
That’s not fair. Mornings are often spectacular and regardless of how I feel when I first wake, by the time I am dressed and out the door I usually feel pretty damn good. I have come to the sobering conclusion that in spite of my proclivity for late nights, I really do well in the early morning.
This has required me to redefine what makes someone a morning person. There are those who live for the morning. They go to bed relatively early, rise even earlier, exercise, dress, perhaps go to breakfast and all before I have even thought to get out of bed. Then there are those like me who really love staying up late, have hours of energy remaining when everyone else has puttered and pooped out, have to force themselves to call it a day. While I surely fit in the later category and I have never, ever loved getting up before or with the sun, I have to admit, I am equally pleasant, equally awake in the morning or the night. Perhaps that is what makes a morning person.
Still, there is something devilishly evil about waking up before 6 in the morning.
It has been very hot this summer with many days surpassing triple digits Fahrenheit. This makes riding a bike or walking difficult. When it is still 97 degrees at 9:00 in the evening, getting outside ranks low on the list of priorities.
The obvious solution-Ride in the morning.
My brother and I decided that a 6 A.M. ride was a fantastic way to get out, avoid the heat and do better. Ugh, that alarm came early. Peeling my eyes open took real effort. The ride was cooler but I felt sluggish and slow. The time it took to complete the ride reflected that sluggish sensation. I really wanted to go back to bed the minute I got home. Instead, I got ready for the day and now I am writing this. Maybe its backlash from the wasted video game day, but I want to change my schedule once again, try getting to bed before 11:30, get up before 7. Crazier things have happened.
History is not on my side.
Looking back, I have always loved sleeping in. From my teenage years when I would wake up at the sound of the horn from my ride to school, dashing upstairs, skipping breakfast, to my months at Brianhead where I worked well past midnight, through my mission where as soon as I could make my own schedule, I slept in as much as possible, I have decades of up all night to overcome.
Is it even reasonable to expect myself to change at this point? I am fighting an losing battle as those hours after 10P.M. are totally and completely mine. I treasure that silent time when I owe nothing to anyone. It feels like a unnecessary sacrifice to let that go. What are my motivations? Do I gain a better perspective by being active before 7? Does anyone but me really care. I do know that I like getting my workouts done before starting my day. I like not thinking about them. Then again, walking at dusk has always been pleasurable. Oh, the conundrum.
Rhetoric darlings, rhetoric.
Before I had children, I had almost zero responsibility for anyone but myself. Sure, I was (and am) in a fantastic relationship with Sheryl and I felt some responsibility towards her. I would always inform her if I was going to be in all day or if I was out, who I was going to be with, out of a sense of caring and courtesy, not some expected or required duty.
It was not uncommon in those childless times for me to spend a day or six playing video games. I am not a serious gamer. I don’t own or play a wide variety of games. I am pretty much content with Halo and a few sports games. My personal favorite is the NCAA College Football series. Relatively easy to play, the game has evolved over the course of a decade or so, keeping most of the core controls the same, but adding some very cool and realistic features. This is highlighted by my only buying a new game every five years or so. Graphics get better, player controls more dynamic. game characters more life like. Still, it only takes a few games, maybe six, before I feel comfortable with any change.
On Monday, I decided to branch out a bit and buy a NHL game.
I have just discovered a love of hockey and when I saw the game for a decent price, I decided to give it a go. Oh my, I am awful at it. I have to play on the easiest level in order to not find myself screaming and throwing things about the room. The worst part-It is really, really fun! I really dig how great it feels to score in overtime, hit someone just before they pass or start a brawl with the defenseman who has been cross checking my center all game.
Since leaving my job at the library, I have been trying to find my rhythm at home, a comfortable place where I feel I am doing all the things I should and want to be doing. I need time to clean the house, take care of the boys (they like to do stuff! Weird, right?), and also find time to keep myself from going insane. I need time to myself because I am extremely selfish. I want time to write, time to ride my bike, time for some friends. One of my ideas was to give myself one day a week where I have no set responsibilities. I can use this time to clean if I want, read or watch movies, nap or as I have done lately and as I did yesterday, play video games.
Having the new game made the course of the day inevitable.
I started playing just after noon and finally decided I needed to quit when Sheryl asked me to start dinner at just before 6. The first three hours, I didn’t even notice the time passing. I started to pay attention when my son, Destry pointed out I had been playing for quite a long while. Being me, that just made me grumpy with him. You don’t get to tell me what to do, son.
When I started dinner (grilling burgers in the 100 degree heat. Clever me), I felt really off center. In point of fact, I was downright pissy. At first I thought it was a left over feeling from something the boys had done, or that a particularly persistent hornet kept buzzing my head like it was a traffic control tower and I was in a insect remake of TopGun. As I sat there, burning from the sun, burning from the heat of the grill, stewing in my anger, I could not deny what was going on. The video gaming had left me angry. I was angry I had played all day and angry I had to stop. I wanted everyone and everything to leave me alone and let me be contradictory and confusing. I wanted to forget any and all of my responsibility, forget my family, forget everything. I don’t want to compare it to substance withdrawal, but I felt a sickening need to play more and an equally disgusting feeling at the thought of wanting more of it.
This isn’t the first time I have felt like this after gaming, but it was the first time it had been this potent.
Lucky for me I have good people around me. I didn’t tell them anything about what I was feeling, but just being around them made me feel a bit better. I did end up playing two more games in the evening, stopping myself to water the garden, gaining some sense of control over things. Little lies sometimes make us feel better.
I am sure I have learned nothing and that\sometime soon, maybe next week, I will find myself back in front of the television, gaming console humming away, my eyes growing weak and sore from staring at a static image for hours on end. As for today, I am out and about, sitting among people at a coffee shop as I type this. My head feels clear and I am in a pretty good mood despite the muggy heat and this extremely uncomfortable chair. I am writing, I am listening to Nirvana play “Sifting”. It feels good. Wish you were here.
Everyone who has tried to write poetry has written very bad poetry at some point. Like any skill, writing takes time and practice. I think of the music my children play on the piano when compared to what my wife can play. This is not to say I value one over the other (in poetry or music). They both have a place in an artists development and being ashamed of the early efforts devalues what you learn, how you progress.
One of the traps most young writers (and by young I mean in effort and experience, not age), fall into is using very abstract words when faced with sharing or expressing a difficult concept. Words like -truth, love, beauty, real, free, and any of their various forms. They are easy filler and often writers think that these words are universal, hope that they carry a heavy weight that everyone understands.
Unfortunately, this is a false hope, an inaccurate thought. Most often the opposite is the case. Very few of us agree on what these words mean, what they represent. It would be honest to say that many poems, many stories are attempts to better explain to the reader a particular perception of one or more of these concepts. When trying to write a piece talking about something that an individual finds beautiful, it makes little sense to describe the thing as ‘beautiful’.
The sky is a beautiful blue.
Ah yes, I totally understand. Well done.
Freedom isn’t free.
Well then, we need to call it something else.
Hopefully as a writer progresses they find better ways to explain these concepts, understanding that they may fail in conveying what they intend.
The sky slipped and shifted to a brilliant cerulean blue.
This could be beautiful or not. I like it, to me it is beautiful.
Bloodied and broken, I cast off the shackles.
A particular type of freedom cost me a great deal. I can make sense of this.
I am more forgiving of this type of abstract writing when it comes to creative things than I am when it appears in non-fiction writing. When someone throws out ‘reality’ as if it is something we all understand, it is an instant cue to me that I am done reading. The same thing applies when one discusses ‘freedom’ as if the word itself represented every individual understanding of the word everywhere.
There is nothing common about common sense. It is always a matter of context.
“I don’t think I have the right to tell people what to do. I believe in personal freedom.” Perhaps so, but there are always limits. I have yet to come across someone who believes in unlimited personal freedom to do whatever one wants to whomever, whenever. It is rhetoric, pure and simple.
It is miraculous we can communicate at all when you stop and imagine all the possible definitions and analogies behind every word ever spoken. Context, context, context.
But I am straying…
There are infinite ways of describing things, events, emotions, concepts. Better writing avoids huge generalities (there are always exceptions). Better writing challenges my conceptions, my perceptions. It can even form them. I really want to be a better writer.
In my youth, I was never what one would call a good employee. My first job, selling newspapers, I bailed on after two days. Creepy boss aside, I could not make myself knock on doors to sell stuff, even basic things like newspapers. The one shift I worked alone, I just walked up and down the street until the van came to pick me up. Selling things was never going to be something I was comfortable doing. This came into play later on when I was on a mission for the LDS church. I never liked the sales type of approach and that is what it often felt like, going door to door, giving what they called “door approaches”. The thought of it still makes me cringe-That sickening feeling as you stood on a doorstep, suit and tie and bad haircut, shaking with nervous energy, hoping that no one is home, but knowing it will be your turn until someone answers. Yeah, awful. I hate selling things.
My second job introduced me to the world of grocery. I started out as a cart pusher, stock boy and worked my way up to dairy clerk, later on to the produce department. Work is probably the wrong word. I went to the store and sometimes did some things that were asked of me. I found all sorts of interesting ways to avoid working. I was 17 and wanted very badly to just get the money and not have to do anything for it. You really can find comfortable places to sleep in a dairy cooler, if you are patient and look.
My first full time job saw me as a warehouse worker, where I learned that I could do actual manual labor, if I wanted to, which I didn’t. Again, I found all sorts of fantastically interesting places to sleep and hide. I did enjoy working on the delivery trucks, driving all over the city, seeing the inside of so many homes. Sometimes we would have to deliver out of the county. Those were the best trips, driving to Heber or Midway, Park City or even Nephi, taking bad end tables and cheap sofas to people. I liked the physical nature of the work, combined with the often mind blowing efforts to get furniture through tight spaces and around or over obstacles. It was challenging, and I learned to do it well. Still, when I was given the choice to do my job or find someway to avoid it, I would choose the later.
It is very possible that I am remembering this next part wrong. And by wrong I mean out of order, either the job, or where I lived, or if this conversation took place at home or on a drive, but we are going to pretend this is how it went down.
I recall when I began working for ZCMI that I was constantly taking time off, calling in sick, being my usual unproductive self. One day, Sheryl came home from work and I was already there. I was supposed to be working until 9, but decided I wanted to do anything but my job. Sheryl was disappointed with me and we sat down to talk. I don’t recall the entire conversation, but one thing she said stuck. In essence, I had agreed to do a job and I should take some pride in being reliable, doing what I said I would do.
My wife is pretty damn smart.
From that point on, I started to give some effort to doing my job well. My entire attitude changed. I ended up leaving ZCMI with a bad taste in my mouth, but it was for other reasons than my laziness or poor effort.
When I worked at UPS, I worked my backside off, doing my best to get the job done. Loading shipping containers accurately and rapidly, I made some fantastic friends and learned a great deal about doing a hard job well and the emotional and physical rewards that accompany that sort of effort. It remains one of my favorite places I have been employed.
This carried over to my work at the library (though some might argue my effort. They would be wrong and jealous. HAH), where I could always be counted on to work extra shifts, be on time, do my job. Don’t misunderstand, I still took days off when I really wasn’t ill, but they were very few and far between. Because of some honest criticism from someone I respected and loved, I made a change for the better. What surprised me the most is what I was capable of accomplishing. I could do more, be more than I thought possible.
It’s always the little moments.