Sunday, February 26, 2012

Walk-In Closets

Walk-in closets are like the cul du sac of home architecture: temporarily popular, but ultimately a huge waste of space.

People should probably just stop hoarding so much stuff that they (think they) need a walk-in closet, but even if that doesn't happen there are so many better, more versatile ways to store things. Like an armoire, for example.

I would bet money that in not very long, walk-in closets will be way out of vogue, much as city planners now look down on the surreal tract housing neighborhoods that produced the American cul du sacs. For now at least, walk-in closets seem to be a still-popular vestige of the ignominious McMansion.

If I ever remodel my home, I'm not only going to avoid installing walk-in closets, I'm going to rip out the existing small closets. I will only use armoires, and my house will be all the better for it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I cannot believe this weather. It's still February and it's like it's spring. So wonderful.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

So, the travel blog

Today, somewhere in the world, someone googled the phrase "otter, river tiber, rome" and ended up finding this post, which I wrote a year and a half ago. Nine other people also searched for other assorted phrases and words, mostly city names, and found my Tripping Over the World Blog. It continues to amaze me that it randomly shows up in search results while I do nothing on it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Brendan Gleeson

In that last post of things I like I mentioned Brendan Gleeson. After I wrote the post, however, I thought I'd expand on that a bit.

Last night, Laura and I watched The Guard, which is a gritty and delightful dark comedy about a cop in rural Ireland who is fighting the drug trade. I'd highly recommend it and, for people like me who cancelled their netflix accounts last year, it's currently in the redbox.

Watching it also reminded me that I can't think of any movie starring Brendan Gleeson that I don't like. He's best known as Mad Eye Moody in the Harry Potter films, but he's also in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York and in the delightful dark comedy In Bruges. Laura and I liked In Bruges so much, in fact, that we actually went to Bruges while we were backpacking through Europe.

Things I Don't Hate (But Rather Like A Lot)

Hopefully my last post wasn't too negative. I was (and still am) sick with a wicked cough/cold/fever, so there's that, though I really do hate that stuff. But to prove I'm not just a hater, here's some stuff I like

Pao de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread)
Leonard Cohen
Large, magnificent buildings. For example the Woolworth Building.
Brendan Gleeson
My house
Captain Crunch
Reading about animals on Wikipedia
Cinque Terra
Sleeping in
Not being sick

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stuff I Hate

I write a lot of stuff over the course of any given day (for the newspaper, for the other blog) but sometimes I just want to spend my time writing lists of stuff I hate. So here is one of those lists:

Bon Iver's smugness about the Grammy's (seriously, that whole "I don't care about anything but the art and not selling out" attitude hasn't been a thing for like 10 years.)
Bad writing
Heat waves
Anonymous comments on the internet
Being sick
Bad drivers
Mean dogs that aren't on leashes
Mean dogs in general
Parking lots
Bloggers who use multiple different font sizes and colors in their posts. (Come on people, it makes it really hard to read.)
Karmen (this is a new one. I just learned about this terrible, terrible band.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Thoughts on Academia

Last week a friend posted about her disaffection with academia. The post got me thinking about my own views on the subject, which once upon a time I blogged about on this site. (My plan at one point was to get a PhD in the humanities.)

First, and for one thing, I really wish I had the hours and freedom of an academic. Though it might seem odd to my friends in academia, I also wish I had the salary of an academic (I do work at a newspaper, after all). Though there's plenty to dislike about the day to day work of a college professor, it's still better than most other "regular" jobs — so excluding things like being a professional musician, for example — that I can think of.

But while the lifestyle keeps academia on my list of things I might go back to someday, there's a lot more than prevents me from actually pursuing it. The biggest of those things is the writing.

Probably my biggest qualm with academic writing is that you have to become a superstar for it to matter much in the humanities world. Sure, if you're Harold Bloom or Stanley Fish your work influences people far and wide. But most academics are not superstars. Their work is read by very, very few people, and meaningfully influences only a fraction of those readers.

I think that's why I've gravitated toward journalism and even blogging, where between the different things I write I have thousands of readers every day — and I work at a relatively small paper in a relatively small city. If I worked in a bigger market, I'd have even more readers. And even in my short professional life, I've seen my writing have some, very modest influence in my community. If I was writing to an academic "community" I suspect it would be much smaller, much more difficult to influence, and much more detached from the material world. But feel free to disagree with that assessment.

I don't know what the future holds for me career-wise (probably not crime writing at the Daily Herald, as much as I like it now) but no matter what happens I don't think I'd ever be happy primarily writing academic papers on the humanities. I applaud those who do like it, but I want my writing to, you know, be read.

Anyway, I guess that's my biggest qualm about academia.

But there are others. In all my time in college (which was much longer than most people), for example, I really only encountered two or three professors who were meaningfully engaging with the community. More often, I found professors who seemed to think it was beneath them to participate in Provo's (sometimes admittedly provincial) culture. Perhaps my professors were engaged in ways I couldn't see, but I think few of them attended cultural events in Provo, patronized Provo's independent restaurants, or (and this is huge) even lived in Provo, where their college was located.

That attitude wasn't universal and it was probably influenced by the fact that professors at BYU are LDS and therefore might feel the church provides them with sufficient community engagement, but it nevertheless strikes me as a kind of provincialism itself. (Again, however, I can't stress enough that I had wonderful professors to whom this description doesn't apply even remotely.)

Well, this post is getting long enough now, so I'll wrap it up. But it's been nice to think again about academia and perhaps I'll post some more thoughts in the future.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

LDS Church's WTF Response to Court's Prop 8 Ruling

This past week the LDS church issued this response to California's ruling on Prop 8:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regrets today's decision. California voters have twice determined in a general election that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman. We have always had that view. Courts should not alter that definition, especially when the people of California have spoken so clearly on the subject.

Millions of voters in California sent a message that traditional marriage is crucial to society. They expressed their desire, through the democratic process, to keep traditional marriage as the bedrock of society, as it has been for generations.

We recognize that this decision represents a continuation of what has been a vigorous public debate over the rights of the people to define and protect the fundamental institution of marriage. There is no doubt that today's ruling will intensify the debate in this country. We urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion.

Boy is that a disappointing response. Setting aside the fact that many people consider the Prop 8 election to have been bought by special interest groups — like the church — this statement contants a blatant falsehood:

We have always had that view.

What? Actually the church has never held that view.

The church historically practiced polygamy and continues to include polygamy as a part of its doctrine. (I know many LDS men who are "sealed" — or religiously married — to multiple women who have either died or divorced them, meaning they believe that after they die they will have multiple wives.)

We can quibble over whether the word "recognize" makes the statement technically true about the church's current stance — I can already anticipate someone pointing out that the church doesn't currently ask the government to "recognize" polygamous temple marriages — but in the past the church absolutely wanted to have open, real-world polygamous marriages that were recognized. So from a historical perspective this statement is nothing short of a lie.

And I'd disagree with the counter argument over the word "recognize" and say it's pretty close to a lie about the church's current postion; after all the church itself "recognizes" polygamous marriages, even if the government doesn't.

I'm all for rigorous debate on this topic. I understand and respect the fact that many gay marriage proponents and Mormons (and people who are both, such as myself) have varying views on this topic.

But I'm nothing short of appalled when an official statement includes something that is so obviously misleading.


Today my other blog on Provo, (pro(vo)cation) passed 2,000 views. The growth of the blog seems to be accelerating as well, meaning that generally each week is better than the last. Friday, for example, I had 91 hits. There were weeks back in November and December, shortly after I started the blog, that didn't do that well in seven days (which is too bad since I wrote some of my favorite posts at that time).

Anyway, Provo is really doing great so either check out my blog or another blog/website to find out more. Or, even better, just visit.