Friday, June 27, 2014

Podcast 3: Doctor Who

Just resharing the podcast. I know it's lengthy (like most my blog posts), but you will be my favorite person if you listen.

By the way...

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bit by 8-Bit

(Author's Note: This was originally posted on my LinkedIn profile but I thought I would share it here since it has some awesome nerdiness.)

A few months ago I was invited by a friend Watson to do some skunk work. He wanted me to do a 30 second animated work in an 8 bit style. I told him that I would do my best and it would be done in 3 weeks.
Yeah, it's been about 4 months.
Artwork is hard. Especially when you're a student juggling projects and have a part time job. I had to learn to maximize the use of my time and do work in between calls. Thankfully, Watson has been very understanding because I'm a student. He's paying me pennies for this and so really it's working out alright.  Though I may not be getting paid much, Watson is a close friend and great connection in my professional network.  (We'll probably make a movie together someday.  It will be awesome so you better watch it.  Until then, check out his awesome YouTube Channel.)
I'm about halfway through this project right now and I've looked back and thought, "Wow. How did I make it this far?" I've faced a lot of challenges in this project. As much as I'm doing this for my friend, I'm also doing it for me.
The animation industry is fast paced. Sometimes it's feast or famine. Sometimes it's late nights becoming early mornings. Since I'm still a developing embryo in my career, I've decided I need to learn quick on how to be a better artist and worker. I don't work fast, so how can I teach myself to work better in order to prepare me for the industry when I graduate in two years?

Be Accountable

What's helped me make so much progress with this animation project for Watson has been having him hold me accountable. Each week Watson would contact me to see where my progress was. If I didn't do anything, I was honest and told him. If all I did was minimal, I still showed what I had done. It got to a point where I got excited to hold myself accountable to him. I realized that even a little bit went a long way in a few weeks.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I quickly learned that my emotions could slow me down. I would spend hours working on a sprite and would become frustrated when it didn't turn out how I wanted. The funny thing was that it didn't matter how bad it looked to me, it looked fantastic to Watson. If I wanted to be timely in my artwork I had to also give up my need to be perfect.
This can sometimes go pretty deep for artists where their discouragement turns into depression. For me, depression can suck out any motivation I may have and I'll end up getting nothing done. Sometime between now and when I started this project I accepted myself and my work as it is. No, this animation isn't Seiken Densetsu 3. (I wish.) I'm also not a high rolling creative professional... yet. I'm still a student learning and once I accepted that my artwork got better and my work became faster.

It's bit by 8-bit

Work and projects can be hard to do but if you're a student like me, you are in the perfect place to learn how to work and finish a project. It's not overnight. It's bit by bit. Or in light of the project I'm working on you could say bit by 8-bit!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mix Up Your Minecraft - Not Enough Items

Today's post will be a short one.  Work has been really crazy.

Not Enough Items (NEI) is a mod that will help you keep track of crafting recipes.  In 'vanilla' Minecraft, it's purpose might not be nearly that apparent (unless you can't remember how to make an enchanting table or a beacon).  It even will show various brewing recipes for that tricky brewing stand.  In mods, being able to look up how to make a thingamajiger steam component thingy will save you hours and hours of time of pouring through forum posts trying to look up the crafting recipes.  NEI gives you a search feature accessible from your inventory.  By typing in the name (or partial name) of an item, it will pull up a catalog of all the items with that name (or descriptive text) on the right.  From there, you can click on the item to see a recipe for it.  The search also supports things like REGEX (a language that lets you use more fuzzy pattern matching) and can let you search for items by mod (useful for answering the question of 'What items does Thaumcraft 4 add?')

It doesn't stop there though.  By right clicking on an item, NEI will pull up every recipe that uses that item.  This is extremely useful for mods that add in all sorts of strange ores or items.  If a mod has added a special form of crafting (and the mod author has implemented it a certain way), NEI can even show information on how to use that.  Also, a little question mark on the crafting recipes will superimpose a picture of it on the crafting grid so you don't even have to remember what the recipe looks like! (There's also other features around how the recipes are displayed).

It also features a creative mode where it can give you items as if you were in creative mode.  This is useful if a survival world has glitched and you lost your 64 diamond blocks.  There is an enchantment selector to enchant items.  Also NEI provides various buttons while in 'cheat' mode to toggle the weather, change the time, and activate a magnet mode that pulls in all nearby items.  It even has a special mode that will show you were hostile monsters are able to spawn in your world (represented by yellow and red X's).

Overall, NEI is a really useful mod that really shines when extra mods are added to your game.  Even in 'vanilla' Minecraft, it can help out by showing where mobs can spawn or showing what you can craft with that lapis lazuli you just mined.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lack of Podcast, Some Lessons Learned

First, I apologize. This was supposed to be the 3rd episode of the Mormon Geeks podcast. But do to errors in paying attention to Dropbox, my podcast was deleted. We'll see about re-recording it somehow.

For now, I'm gonna share some things I've learned this past week with you. This will be a list of random items. But without further ado: The 10 Things I Learned This Past Week:

1. Recording a podcast with members of my critique group is awesome and fun. Too bad, no one got to hear it though. But that's okay. It was still fun.

2. Even though soccer is not my favorite sport, seeing the U.S. score quicker than the time it takes to make toast was exciting. (Glad I didn't watch the game yesterday though. I don't need more nail-biting.)

3. I can actually listen. No, I'm serious. People who know me well, know that I can talk. I can go on and on and on and on. Seriously, have you read some of my blogs? But really, when it was important for someone else that I just listen, that's what I did. When I walked away from the conversation (not that I ran out on the person, we were just done talking), I realized that I didn't interject or give advice or try to help. All I did was give a listening ear. That's really a big step for me.

4. I will never ever ever ever (now I'm sounding like a Taylor Swift song) ever get through my "to-read" list. It's just impossible. Especially since that list includes currently 5 Brandon Sanderson novels (which probably beat out the Bible for word count).

5. I still love Scrubs. It maintains a place in my top 5 favorite shows of all time. (Along with I Love Lucy, Friends, the Big Bang Theory, and Dr. Who). Watching it recently has been really refreshing. There are so many lessons a person can learn from Scrubs. I randomly started with the 4th season (which introduces Molly Clock for a few episodes). Anyway, there are a lot of things to gain from paying attention to J.D.'s lessons.

6. Doctor Who has been a recent addition/addiction to my binge watching. And in the past week, I've decided that it belongs in my top 5 favorite shows. Hi, I'm T.J. and I'm a new Whovian and I do not see it as an addiction, but rather, a passion. :D This past week, my wife and I started the 7th series (Matt Smith's last) and have seen the end of Amy/Rory and the beginning of Clara. If my count is correct, we have 7 more episodes from season/series 7 and then Day of the Doctor and Time of the Doctor. So excited and sad all at once.

7. My ability to forgive others is much higher than my ability to forgive myself. I need to stop being so hard on myself, but I'm glad I can forgive others and not hold onto judgments and negative viewpoints. As the good meme says:

8. Strength doesn't prohibit weakness. I've been told many times how "strong of a person" I am by many people. And this "strength" is both physical and emotional. As much as I appreciate the sentiment, there are plenty of times/ways that I'm not. My knees and back do not show how weak they are despite my broad Bronley shoulders. And emotional, I have done myself a disservice by "being strong" just because I've believed it's what others have expected of me.

9. As overplayed as "Let it Go" is, I was reminded this week as to just how great a message is found therein. This is the reason that it's heard and copied so often. Hearing the song again this past week has helped me be reminded of things I am holding onto that need to just be dropped.

10. I love my wife so much, that if she won't let me help her, I will do everything I can to force it. Maybe that's not healthy. But because she's sick, I told my wife it'd be better not to go to church. Well, she wanted to go to sacrament and I wasn't willing to fight her on that any further. So I told her "You're going home after the first hour, but if you try to stay longer, I'm going to just walk home and you'll have to deal with the kids and drive them home later." I won that argument thank goodness.

 Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How to Train Your Courage

As a follow up to my post last week I thought I would share some thoughts after seeing How to Train Your Dragon 2.  The movie is as great as the first one.  I definitely recommend it.  It has some new themes in this adventure expanding on Hiccup's friendship with Toothless.  I was thinking about my post last week and thought, "What if Hiccup stayed in his head and held onto his cheat sheet?  Would he and Toothless become hurt and crashed into the rocks?  Friendship is great when two people are in it together but what if Toothless and/or Hiccup backed out when the going got rough?" (Spoilers ahead!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The new True Love

Okay before we start spoiler warning: In order to talk about this I'm going to have to spoil Once Upon a Time, Frozen, Maleficent, Saturday’s Warrior and Star Child. 
You've been warned.
What exactly is true love? Disney has been harping on this concept since it's first animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It took true love's kiss to wake up Snow White, it took true love's kiss to wake up Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, it took true love's kiss to break Ursula's spell in The Little Mermaid, what is it? 
If we take a shot in the dark based on these and most other movies and TV shows we can guess that true love means the one you're supposed to be with forever, despite barely knowing them or sometimes even having officially gotten their names. True love is the power of love no matter what the obstacle, weather distance, time, magic or common sense. 
And it's the one thing from children's entertainment that's been criticized the most. 
The problem isn't in children necessarily believing in true love. A five-year-old girl thinking that someday her prince will come doesn't do that much harm. However, a 25 year old woman who blindly cruses into a relationship with someone she barely knows because she believes it's true love, that can be a problem, especially when the guy knows how to manipulate the poor princess fan. 
Everyone has seen this happen.
Lately true love has had a bit of a makeover form it's romantic roots. The season finale of Once Upon a Time's first season includes a true love's kiss, but it's between a mother and child. Frozen broadened the concept of true love by making it an "Act of true love", so that the act wasn't a kiss but a selfless sacrifice between sisters. In Maleficent (now for the big spoiler) the curse isn't broken by the prince, in fact the prince is barely in it. Maleficent breaks her own curse with her own kiss, and it doesn't even bother explaining if it's the love of a mother to a psuedo-daughter, or the love of friendship, or part of the curse itself. 
So does this work? Well considering the overwhelming popularity of these films, yeah I'd say it works. For audiences at least. As far as a story telling trope it makes a lot more sense than the person I just met is automatically my true love and that love is powerful enough to reverse death nonsense. It creates for some interesting character dynamics and relationships to be addressed besides romance, like sisters and parents.
Now you wanna know something awesome?
LDS cinema did it first.
Before we had God’s Army (Which I’m talking about next week) and Single’s Ward, LDS cinema only had a few ponies in it’s stable, one of them being Saturday’s Warrior. The film was a play BYU made a movie about and featured the maid from the Brady Bunch as well as a couple of catchy songs. It’s was pure cheese, a little apocryphal, and generally harmless. One of it’s biggest plot points was the idea that two characters had met in the pre-existence and had promised to find each other on earth, marry, and live through the eternities. In the film they do thanks to some loveable but dopey missionaries. There’s your typical true love story.
But there was a sequel.
Yes apparently this weird little play/film was so popular someone wrote a sequel called Star Child. The play was filmed during one performance and was put to video so somewhere out there this little gem exists, and it is awesome. The story once again starts in the pre-existence but instead of a man and woman pledging eternal love it’s two men pledging eternal friendship (Don’t freak out they’re just friends). The tension comes when they find out that one will be born into the gospel and the other will not, so thus the one pledges to become a missionary to bring the gospel to the other.  They then, and I’m not making this up, create a constellation of a child riding a unicorn as a sign of their friendship in the hopes that some part of them remembers it until they find each other again.
Skip ahead to earth life and our guy born into the gospel has taken some wrong turns and has become a drinker and smoker, and our non-member has become a scientist in another country. The inactive member ends up somehow getting into BYU and becomes roommates with the missionaries from Saturday’s Warrior, and they make it their project to get him on his mission for some reason.
More nonsense happens and the guy eventually gets his testimony back and ends up on his mission to-you guessed it- whatever country we’re pretending the other guy is in, and on his P-day runs into his buddy from the pre-existence. I couldn’t find the scene on Youtube but it really does feel like all those stupid fairy tale scenes when the prince finds his princess, and yet it doesn’t. There are no romantic ties between these two characters. When they see each other it really is a moment of quasi-recognition and love, and with the context I would honestly call it true love.
The film ends on a happy note, everyone gets baptized and married and whatever and the two men stay BFFs forever, no curses broken, no acts having to be performed, just love.
So if anyone tries to act all superior saying how innovative Frozen is, you can now with an air of complete hipsterness to you say we did it first.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mix Up Your Minecraft: Thaumcraft 4

Hello everyone! Welcome to the next post in my series 'Mix Up Your Minecraft'. Today I'm going to talk about a mod called Thaumcraft 4. Thaumcraft 4 adds a magic system to Minecraft. Yes, you heard me correctly: MAGIC! :D

It all begins simply. First, you make a magic wand. Second, you right click on a bookshelf to receive the Thauminomicon (basically a guide to the mod). Next, you build a research table and a thaumometer. The thaumometer lets you scan blocks and items in the world. That will give you 'research points' which you use to conduct research and discover various magical creations that you can make.

In order to actually do any magic, you will need to find various aura nodes that are scattered throughout the world. Normally, the are very faint spots of light that are difficult to see. However, if you are looking through your thaumometer, they will be reveal as small glowing stars. You can use your wand to drain energy from them (called vis) which you can then harness to do various magical things.

Aura node as seen with the naked eye
Aura node seen through a thaumometer
In the beginning, there are small things that you can do. You can create foci (focus plural) for your wand which will let you channel the energy in your wand to do other things. For example the flame focus lets you take ignis vis (fire) and actually shoot flames at your enemies. Eventually you have the ability to create various magical pieces of armor, and even small golems that can carry out various tasks for you.

Aren't golems cute?
For me, the most visually impressive part of the game is the infusion enchanting. It requires a special magical construct with pillars, a strange looking cube object, and a number of pedestals arranged just so. It also requires you to break down objects into pure bits of magical energy that represent different aspects of the Minecraft universe. Finally when everything is gathered, you can start the process and watch as the cube/matrix thing absorbs all of the ingredients and creates a brand new magical item. The process is not without risk. Each item has a certain degree of instability that comes with it. When the cube is working, strange purple liquid can appear, the player can be struck by lightning, or explosions can go off. If care isn't taken to quickly correct any problems, the cube will quickly go out of control and cause even more problems.

 Overall, it's a really fun mod. It can be difficult to troubleshoot why things aren't working, but the end results make me feel like I've accomplished something. Personally, my favorite part of the mod is creating farming golems and a wand focus that lets me shoot lightning like I was a Sith from Star Wars.

 I've done a short video sort of highlighting a mod. Hope you enjoy!

If you're interested, more information on the mod can be found here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Video Game Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Earlier this year, I bought myself (because my wife let me) Batman: Arkham Asylum. And not too long ago, I beat the game. (Yes on easy mode.) But I'm not that big of a gamer, so to complete a game is always an accomplishment for me.

For those that don't know, Arkham Asylum is the first of three games (soon to be four) in an awesome series of Batman games. (Oh, and another FYI, Batman has always been my favorite superhero.) In this, you control Batman as Arkham Asylum is taken over by Joker, with his oh-too-loyal assistant Harley Quinn. And now it's up to Batman to take back the crazy prison from Joker and associates.

As a fan of good storytelling, Arkham Asylum had a really great one to tell. However, there were a few parts of it that didn't work for me as well. But let's look at the base story: Joker purposely gets himself captured by Gotham PD and ends up taking over Arkham Asylum with Harley Quinn, Bane, (I think) Zsasz, and the Scarecrow.

One thing that's awesome about the game is that each of the characters is given some sort of depth. It helps that they added audio recordings from patient interviews that Batman can pick up in various places in the game. However, the "freakiness"/"scariness" rating hits the roof when you listen to Zsasz's recordings. (Thank goodness you can skip listening.)

So, the pros: an extremely difficult battle with Poison Ivy. A great chase with Killer Croc. A lot of stealth moments that are fun to figure out. A good lengthy story that develops over time. Of course, it's a video game, so the plot stalls at points in order to let the gamer play as Batman a little longer. But some of those "stalls" make the game that much better. Specifically, this refers to the few encounters with the Scarecrow. For one of these, the game honestly makes you think your hard drive has crashed, breaking the fourth wall a bit to make you feel like you're Batman going insane. 
Another pro is the voice-over acting. Harley Quinn and Batman have decent portrayers. This makes the interactions with H.Q. even more fun. But of course, the winner is Mark Hamill as the Joker. Had someone said "the Joker is played by Luke Skywalker" I would've asked how much he whined. But no, this is the Joker that I imagine. He does an awesome job as being one of the most believable Jokers. Of course, he's the Joker from the 90s animated series.

The cons: Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Oh and did I say repetition already?  You fight Bane. You fight Bane-like monsters. You fight Bane-like monsters. You fight Bane-like Joker. The final boss battle waned in comparison to Poison Ivy and even Killer Croc. Also I always have difficulty with the view point of these games (Yes, a 2D sidescroller is still preferred, but I'm an 80s baby.) Also, Poison Ivy's outfit is not very all.

One of the "funniest" stories of my playing this game was when I had just put all my kids to bed and while my wife was out, I was playing. Well, at one point, I think to myself "Man is this getting creepy." (Thanks to Zsasz.) So I look around and realize that the only light in the house is coming from my computer screen, which is pretty dark thanks to the setting. So I promptly got up and turned on a couple lights, sat back down and said, "nope, I'm done for now."
Really, after playing this, I can't wait to play Arkham City. I can see the reasoning for this earning "Game of the Year" and getting more accolades than a trendy YA novel. Definitely ups my interest in the Batman world as a whole and makes me want to read more of the comics. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give it an 8, though, due to the repetition (which I may have mentioned.)

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How To Train Your Friendship

Hey friends!

This Friday the sequel to How to Train your Dragon gets a wide release.  I'm pretty excited.  Not gonna lie.  The first movie is one of my favorites.  Last Friday my singles ward actually watched it outside.  I obviously took to revisiting this gem before I see the sequel this Friday.  The theme of friendship really struck me and I just had to share my thoughts.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Will Jurassic World Work?

Hay! It's me Joe and I'm back! Officially and for good! Last few months have been pretty busy, what with getting married and all. That's right folks, I got married! It was a great experience that I'll be talking about soon!

But first, let's discuss dinosaurs.

In case you haven't heard, next year among the glut of blockbusters set to come out is the latest addition to the Jurassic Park franchise: Jurassic World.

Rewind 20 years to the opening of the first Jurassic Park and a 7 year old boy sitting in a movie theater mesmerized by the giant tyrannosaurus roaring on screen. Back then little Joe could already spell paleontologist, as well as several dinosaur names. I couldn't really follow the man-playing-god-is-a-sin plot, but Seeing Spielburg's masterpiece lit my little heart aflame, and I can still remember sitting in that theater.

So what happened?
Well the thing made money, that's what happened.
As with all films that made money, someone decided it would be a good idea to make another. This resulted in Lost World, a loose adaptation of the book of the same name. The film had far more dinosaurs, but a far weaker story. I personally am a guy that if they could genetically engineer a 40 foot pig to make bacon prices drop I'd be all for it, so I didn't really care about the plot once I understood it. I just wanted to see the dinosaurs.

The third film took a nose dive in plot for full dinosaur exploitation, showing us a dinosaur big enough to eat a T-Rex and plenty of obnoxious actors to eat. I loved it but the critics and audiences didn't, so the franchise was believed dead.
Despite the degrading plot the concept and world has stayed in the public mind. Universal Studios in California has a ride devoted to Jurassic Park that's still popular as ever, and TellTale Games has a popular video game in the same vein as the award winning Walking Dead game by the same developer, an action/adventure/horror thing that I have to own one day.

So what about this new film? Leaks and press releases have hinted that the film will go back to its original form, social commentary mixed with high-action and adventure, but is that the best way to go? Social commentary is such a tricky toy to keep bringing out. Where it worked in films like V for Vendetta and Wall-E, it nearly killed World War Z and made Happy Feet worthless. The stuff in the first film was interesting but they kept hammering it in that it actually bogged down the film with people talking about ethics and control, which was much better when shown in the second film when a T-Rex was rampaging through San Diego. The film snob in me hates to say it but I would rather watch a dinosaur tear apart an RV than have its existence pose existential questions on the society I live in.

If the movie can't have any fun, then maybe it's best if the franchise went extinct once in for all.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mix Up Your Minecraft: Wynncraft

Minecraft is like ice cream.  The basic version of Minecraft is often called 'Vanilla'.  It is the version most people are familiar with.  It's the version that Mojang maintains and posts.  I wanted to write a series of blog posts on ways to mix it up, add in some new flavors, and probably create whole new experience with the same basic game.

Honestly, I don't think I've ever played a game where I've seen some many mods, mini games, servers, and variants.  Minecraft is like ice cream. There's so many flavors, and mixing it up makes me enjoy it a whole lot more.


Ok, so Wynncraft isn't a mod for Minecraft.  It's an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game).

A friend of mine first invited me to play, and I was immediately thrown into a very different way of playing Minecraft.  First, I had to select one of four classes to play as.  Naturally, I chose mage.  Next thing I knew, I was on a pathway and being told to go see the king.  I had to battle my way through hordes of zombies in order to get to him.  That was when I was sent on a quest to go help the world.

Monsters spawning in the game is interesting.  I think it could use some tweaking.  For example, right in the starter area, about 5 zombies would spawn in at a time, and it would get pretty overwhelming.  I think I eventually had to just flee.  I've been wondering through the game world when the game literally drops a group of monsters around me to fight.  Needless to say, this makes for an exciting experience!

One of my favorite aspects of the games are the spells.  Granted, as a wizard my first spell was a little unimpressive at first.  I had a healing spell.  Soon I discovered that it was a way to keep myself, and everyone around me, alive and fighting for longer.  The game really picked up when I unlocked the second mage spell, teleport.  Suddenly, I was teleporting across the landscape, getting lost, and having all sorts of fun getting into and out of pickles.  My favorite part is being able to teleport out of monsters reach.  Of course, the third spell is probably my favorite.  It calls down a meteor to damage people in a wide area.  I think it's impressive how Wynncraft uses the basic Minecraft engine to do these spells and effects.

Here's a brief video of me playing the game with a friend. I'm playing a mage and he is an assassin.

Overall, I've enjoyed the game. The other players can get a little on the annoying side. I've learned to just switch servers if someone was bothering me (progress is saved across servers).

The game is free to play.  There are options to pay to become a VIP to receive double experience, access to a VIP town, and access to the Assassin class.  For more information about the game, see their website at

Hope you enjoy mixing up your Minecraft.


Monday, June 9, 2014


You know who's awesome? Batman. Picard. Mario. You know what else is awesome? NFL. MLB. NBA.

Two worlds. Two very different worlds that, in the end, aren't all that different.

In the world of high school, there's a big difference between the geeks and the jocks. The classic show Saved by the Bell did a good job at showing these differences. Of course, I still don't know what category Zach Morris fell into other than "egotistical douche". And then there's the show The Big Bang Theory that doesn't help this idea. The geeks know nothing about sports (except Sheldon who knows the rules of football but is not a fan of it.)

Don't get me wrong, I love The Big Bang Theory and used to watch Saved by the Bell consistently. But when it comes to stereotypes, they've done a good job at throwing a magnifying glass on them and saying "hey look how different these people are!"

Let's go back to my original question: you know what's awesome? Being yourself.

I've had various stereotypes placed on me for pretty much my whole life. (Guess it's fair, I sadly catch myself having placed them on others at times.) And you know what? Sometimes those stereotypes have been accurate. And, amazingly enough, they couldn't have been further from the truth.

In reality, I'm a fan of a lot of different things. I cycle through my obsessions...I mean...interests. And a lot of those interests stick around for a good portion of my life. There's been the Los Angeles Dodgers, WWF/WWE, 24th century Star Trek (between the TV shows and the books), Magic: The Gathering, Survivor (yes, the TV show, deal with it), The San Diego Chargers, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz (yes, I live here, but I root for the Lakers over the Jazz, again, deal with it), Batman (comics, video games, movies, and of course the TV show), Dr. Who (yes, I'm a late comer, but I'm almost caught up), Terry Brooks (quit telling me how bad it is, I like it), baking cupcakes/cookies, and many other things.

See, the thing about me (and my friend called ADD), I get bored over things a little easier than I wish. That's why I love the NFL (and my ever-disappointing Chargers) and the MLB (and my "we get your hopes up and then dash 'em" Dodgers) and the NBA (and my cyclical Lakers). These things go through their seasons. Especially when my teams disappoint (which is far too often). But eventually, I'll get to start a new season.

So even though my love of playing Magic is in a lull or it's been a while since I've watched Star Trek: TNG or NFL is about 100 days out, I'm able to enjoy Batman video games and catch up on Dr. Who while hoping the Dodgers can maintain a winning season.

My point here is, I don't have to be stuck in a stereotype. Yeah, I'm a geek. But I'm a casual geek. I'm a casual gamer. I'm a casual sports fan. But every once in a while I end up with obsessions...or rather, an interest that takes more than my casual time. Sometimes it lasts a week. Others it's a few months or so.

So, to sum up....

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Be Ye Therefore Perfect

I know a few people...well...a lot of people actually that read the a certain verse and figuratively beat themselves up for failing to meet the requirement. The scripture is found in Matthew 5:48. It says "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

There are many of us--myself included--who read that and think "Great, I'll never be good enough." Because how are we to measure up to that?

I have a widget on my phone's home screen that shows me a scripture a day. The other day, that scripture sat for the day on that screen. When I read it, I had the realization that in those 14 words I was missing something. We are taught (especially in the LDS faith) that we will never be perfect. This is what repentance and the atonement are for. But still, that scripture still stings.

And then I found what I have been missing. I wish to share this with you because, perhaps, you are missing it to. The keyword in this scripture that no one seems to catch on is "therefore". Yes, "perfect" appears twice. "Is" appears twice. But what is it about the word "therefore" that makes it so important?

So I looked it up. There are a few definitions or synonyms to "therefore." But none of them are "from this moment." I'll repeat that concept. "Therefore" does not mean "from henceforth and forever", "from this moment on", or "until the day you die."

What does it mean then? The word I found that I felt impressed by was "accordingly", which is defined as "in a way that is appropriate to the particular circumstances." So...our "Father which is in heaven" has a different set of circumstances, a different measuring stick, as to what perfect is.

Spencer W. Kimball once said "We are on the road to perfection." This implies that it's a goal, but not one we're going to accomplish in this life. This is what the atonement is for. To help our shortcomings give us the possibility of perfection.

In Oct 1995, Russel M. Nelson spoke on this in his talk "Perfection Pending". I love this quote from him:

"When comparing one’s personal performance with the supreme standard of the Lord’s expectation, the reality of imperfection can at times be depressing. My heart goes out to conscientious Saints who, because of their shortcomings, allow feelings of depression to rob them of happiness in life.We all need to remember: men are that they might have joy—not guilt trips!"
How many of us throw ourselves into guilt trips because we don't meet this idea of perfection? I know I do. But Elder Nelson adds this caveat that makes me feel like I'm on to something with the word "accordingly."
Our understanding of perfection might be aided if we classify it into two categories. The first could pertain uniquely to this life—mortal perfection. The second category could pertain uniquely to the next life—immortal or eternal perfection.

Yeah, this has been kind of a preachy post. Maybe it's just something I need to remember for myself. I'm not perfect and that's more than okay. And I doubt you're perfect. I could go on, but I don't wish to bore you.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.