• My Modern Met
  • The Theoi Project
  • ReligiousTolerance.org
  • Idealist
  • National Geographic
  • One Day’s Wages
  • ReliefWeb
  • monotony of routine

    I loathe routine. It's something I've always consciously and unconsciously strayed away from. I have a difficult time doing the same thing over and over again, which is why I've had trouble staying interested in some of the jobs I've had in the past. A set routine sometimes seems like a prison sentence to me - I value freedom. Individual freedom. I'm very lucky, living in the country I do, and having the opportunities I do. I'm spoiled. However, it's because I live with the freedoms I do that I chafe at anything that restricts me from doing something I mentally/physically/spiritually should be able to. I like having the choice to do or do not, and I think it's a large part of why I've always wanted to be a writer, at least when I wasn't wanting to be a dolphin trainer or actor at the age of, like, 7. Writing allows so much freedom, possibly more than anything else ever could or will. Maybe virtual reality will catch up someday, but that's likely a long time off. So, writing and reading will continue to be an escape and a solace for me.

    There are things we must do to continuously to stay alive and/or function in 'society'. Eat, sleep, drink, bathe, relieve ourselves of waste, etc. I see the value and the necessity. Then I look around and see people that do nearly the exact same thing every single day. They wake at exactly 'this' moment, eat at exactly 'this' time, work for exactly 'this' amount of time to 'this' amount of time, watch this TV show at 'this' exact time, and retire to bed at 'this' exact time. I respect that it makes days easier for some people, and pleases them to know what is going on when and being in control, but when you're stuck in a routine, how much control do you really have? You've given your life a structure, sure, but is it a cold, corporate building, or a magnificent rain forest? I'd say the former is likely. And, to be honest, pretty boring. Without variety in my life, I'd be miserable.

    I'm sure many of you are quite similar, at least to some degree. Many of you probably also write, as well, so you understand the glorious and extraordinarily vast freedom you have when writing. But, it's a dangerous freedom as well, since reality loses a lot of its luster when one possesses an active imagination, most especially in times of war, poverty, violence, and prejudice. Routine can anchor us to reality, and that may be a large factor in my aversion to it. That's probably not healthy, but when you're trying to write, it's certainly a big, giant plus. So, my main point of this blog post is basically to declare to the world (or mostly just myself) that I completely abhor routine and will likely stay as far away from it as possible. Maybe I'm lazy (probably), maybe I just value spontaneity. Whatever the case, this is and will continue to be true.

    [photo credit: http://www.slipperybrick.com/2008/11/cycle-life-watch-knows-your-routine-well/]

    charity: water

    I've always felt that those who have privilege should make a concentrated effort to share what they have with those that go without. This desire made itself even more apparent after the earthquake in Haiti. Because forensic anthropologists play a large part in disaster relief and aftermath, my forensic anthropology professor felt it apt to show us before and after pictures of the conditions there, to emphasize the havoc that was wreaked. But what struck me the most was the before photos, of children drinking out of muddy puddles in the road. We easily have the means to help get others the clean water that we more than take for granted, so I want to be a part of the effort to make that happen. I hope you do, as well. This site is one of the best organizations I have found, and I want to actively be a part of it. So if you'd like to help, here's a link to the campaign I've started. The goal is $5,000, which is enough to fund a project that will give 250 clean water for the rest of their lives. The campaign ends in August, so if you're able to contribute, please do. If you aren't, which at the moment I realize many of us don't have the money to spare, please just share the campaign with others. I've made it for the whole of Salt Lake, but anyone is welcome to join in.

    [photo credit: http://www.charitywater.org/media/banners/300x250_baby_bottle.jpg]

    money vs happiness: who will win?

    It's been a while since I have written anything on here, though I've been stockpiling topics that I want to write about. I just never seem to get around to it...

    Money. It's what makes the world go round and is often the difference between life and death. I hate money. Not just because I am terrible with it (I'm an impulsive buyer) but because of all the problems and rifts it creates in everyone's lives. I almost wish we could go back to a bartering system, although if that were the case I would likely starve. This leads me to the fact one of the hardest concepts for me to grasp is employment. Now, now, hear me out. I understand that people have and hone specific skills, and in turn use those skills to provide for themselves and their families. This is not the part of the concept I have a rough time with. The part I can't get past is that the VAST majority of people in general aren't happy with their jobs. This comes down to:

    Trading HOURS of your LIFE for MONEY.

    That's what I have a hard time with. Every second you spend on something is a second you can't get back. Why would you spend millions of those priceless seconds on a job you dislike? But someone has to do these jobs, don't they? No. There's no need for a corporate CEO or a burger-flipper at a fast food chain. There's a significant rift between what we need and what we are told to want. What good is all of this doing us? None whatsoever. People survived just fine making their own bread and hoeing their own fields. Sometimes I get so tired of watching this endless set of problems we all create for ourselves, falling into potholes of greed and gluttony and lust. I know that sounds preachy, and I really don't like to judge, but it's true. It's what the pressures of our society have led us to. I makes me want to go all Thoreau.

    So basically, it comes down to this for me - would I be willing to do this job for free? Do I enjoy what I am doing and respect the implications it has on the rest of my fellow man? If this is the case, then one is typically a happy (and usually financially downtrodden) person. If the answer is a 'kinda' or a resounding 'no', there is trouble. I'm so often sad for the society I live in and how selfish (I will talk more about this concept in another, later post) we have become. Now, there are two kinds of selfish - one is just to the degree of being concerned for one's own needs and providing that which is needed. The second is putting oneself before EVERYONE else, no matter the concern. They are very different levels. There is also, obviously, gray area, since there is in nearly every matter, ever.

    I don't want you to think that I'm looking down my nose at anyone. I am also a culprit a good portion of the time. But I am to a point in my life where I may be extremely poor, but I thoroughly enjoy all of my jobs, and all the class I take at the University are only because they interest me completely. I am much more sated by having spent my time on endeavors that I personally enjoy, since it is MY life. Why would I want to give up my precious time to the corporate gods, when it could be used to bring happiness into other people's lives? If that's a byproduct of my job (which it is), I feel like I've made a difference, and that puts my soul at ease. And I enjoy being content. It's a state that many have thought and dreamt about, yet never achieved.

    Hopefully you'll take some time to evaluate your life, and consider creating a happier place for yourself with the time you're given.

    Time is a gift, and we should never waste it on anything we don't want or need to be doing.

    "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today." -James Dean
    "Do not take life too seriously; you will never get out of it alive." -Elbert Hubbard

    [photo credit: http://donmillereducation.com/journal/2010/12/22/wednesday-notes-money-is-time/time-is-money/]


    I like films. I like them a lot. I like the stories they present, and how a director/actor decides to portray those stories, whether it be through aesthetics, audio, omission, or manipulation, humor or tragedy, stark truth or utter fabrication. The past decade (2000-2009, for those of you slow on the uptake) has been chock full of fantastic films. I was inspired to pick my Top 50, but before you glance through my list, I want you realize several things. First of all, the criteria for my choices. a) I have to have seen the film. I missed several reputedly great films in the past 10 years, and while they are on my ever-growing list of films to see before I die (I swear I really have one, there's a shortcut to it on my desktop), they were not considered for this list for obvious reasons, namely, I haven't seen them. Okay, on to b) emotional reaction. I had to have an emotional reaction to a film for it to be on this list. Whether that reaction was enjoyment, horror, empathy, glee, mind-boggledness, or dysphoria, has no effect on placement. Now, c) art. I consider films to be an obvious form of art, as I mentioned vaguely above. Art can be something as simple as witty banter, a tragic view of a world shot to hell, a convoluted and all too realistic 'love' story, all the way through the use of existential cinematography. Many different factors that all boil down to the creation of an artist(s), an expression of someone's self. So, here's my list, for what it's worth. My Top 50 of all time would likely be entirely different, but I am happy with this list. Finally, d) I couldn't decide how to number these, and so rather than waste MORE time, I am going to say, DISCLAIMER: THE NUMBERING OF THIS LIST IS COMPLETELY RANDOM AND DOES NOT REFLECT THE FACT THAT I LIKE ONE FILM OVER ANOTHER. If you'd REALLY like to know which of a couple/few films I prefer, please ask me. Otherwise, here you go:

    1. Inglorious Basterds
    2. I'm Not There
    3. Up!
    4. Avatar
    5. Once
    6. Children of Men
    7. Finding Neverland
    8. Punch-Drunk Love
    9. Paris, je t'aime
    10. The Ringer
    11. I Heart Huckabees
    12. Across the Universe
    13. (500) Days of Summer
    14. School of Rock
    15. Night at the Museum
    16. Juno
    17. Finding Nemo
    18. Star Trek
    19. The Incredibles
    20. Hairspray
    21. Batman Begins
    22. The Brothers Bloom
    23. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    24. Memento
    25. Public Enemies
    26. The Dark Knight
    27. Sweeney Todd
    28. V for Vendetta
    29. Pirate Radio
    30. Love Actually
    31. The Holiday
    32. Moulin Rouge!
    33. Rent
    34. The Royal Tenebaums
    35. Runaway Jury
    36. The Pianist
    37. High Fidelity
    38. Mirrormask
    39. Donnie Darko
    40. Hot Fuzz
    41. WALL-E
    42. Watchmen
    43. Big Fish
    44. The Count of Monte Cristo
    45. Up in the Air
    46. Evening
    47. The Prestige
    48. The Emperor's New Groove
    49. Elf
    50. LOTR (all three, and yes, it is cheating...sorry about that)