I Don’t Get It

I don’t get it.  What is all the hype about Lady Gaga?  I don’t think I have ever heard a song played on the radio sung by her.  If I did, I totally missed the DJ’s credit after or before the song.  I bounce around the dial, and with the exception of country, I’ll listen to most music.

I do admit I miss the days of the really good bands:  Chicago (the best in my book), Blood, Sweat and Tears (second best), even the Monkeys (Listen to the Band was their BEST), were on my list.  Who can forget Earth, Wind and Fire?  Put some Badfinger on and turn it up and you’ll find me singing along, “No matter what you are…”  In fact, put Twist-n-Shout by the Beatles on at a dance, and you’ll always fill the dance floor.

So, after the big hoopla about Britney Spears dodging a kiss from this very, very strange person who calls herself Lady Gaga, I decided to go on-line to see if I could listen to some of her music.  I even heard someone comparing her music to Madona’s (which she really had some great hits).  It’s time I find out what she sings and why she is getting so much attention.  (Oh, prior to this… okay, I admit, I read fashion magazines.  Well, actually I don’t read them.   I look at the pictures.  I’m a photographer for Pete’s sake.  I’ve got to see what the competition is producing.  So, prior to this I did see a pictorial in one of the magazines featuring her.  I wasn’t impressed.  She’s creepy looking and has “empty” eyes.)

Here I go again.  The Emperor is not wearing any clothes.  Did you hear that folks?  The Emperor is not wearing any cloths.

Yeah, that’s how I feel about the Lady Gaga hype after listing to that techno-hip-hop created by anyone with a beat-box synthesizer.  Lady Gaga has no talent.   Whoa, people actually pay to download that stuff from iTunes?

Rebecca Black’s Friday is more entertaining and better sounding.

Or, perhaps I don’t get it because I’m not strung out on booze, ecstasy or some designer drug while being surrounded by head-bobling clubbers.

Well, I guess I should look at the bright side.  At least Britney Spears had enough brains to dodge that would-be kiss.  Ewe… the very thought turns my stomach.

So, with all of the talented performing artists out there – singers like Jason Mraz, Adele, Train, and I could go on… (there are still people with amazing talent)… I don’t get it why people waste their time on hype like that.

The Emperor is not wearing any clothes.

A Place to Store All Those Props

We have a new addition to the Estate.  It’s a 10×14 Sauder’s building.  (Sauder’s is a Mennonite store in Seneca Falls.  They sell some of the best sheds and out-buildings.)

Studio and Storage Building

The inside floor is plywood, so I think I’m going to slap some linoleum down before I move stuff in.  The construction on this thing is top-notch.  It’s built better than most houses in California.  (Sauder’s also makes chicken coups, dog houses, play house (really cool ones with lofts!!!), cabins, garages, etc.

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People are funny.  The old saying, “There are none so blind as those who will not see,” applies to prejudices.  And, you might say, what does a middle-age white-guy know about prejudices.  Well, a lot actually.

I once had a guy walk up to me and say he was disappointed because he thought I was a Christian and he recently found out I was not.  Well, I was shocked.  I looked at him and said, “I am a Christian.”  He proceeded to try to argue with me.

I just asked, “Where did you get this notion that I’m not a Christian.”

He informed me his minister at his church told him.  So, I asked him, “If you were thinking of buying a Chevrolet would you go to the Ford store and ask the salesman to extol the virtues of a Chevy?”

Then I had to let him know that the title of “Mormon” started off as a derogatory name given to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by those who persecuted the members of the church, and that the very name of the church itself should be a clue that we are Christians.

He proceeded to tell me a list of things that I supposedly believe.  I told him, “I don’t believe any of those things.”

For which he replied, “Then you must not be a very good Mormon.”

I assured him I was in good standing with the church and that of all the things he listed, none of them have ever been taught to me in church and I explained I graduated from seminary, served a two-year mission, and that I have taught classes and served in many positions in the church, and none of that stuff is in any of our manuals or scripture.

Sadly, he did not believe me.

With all of the hype about various Latter-day Saints running for political office, people should realize if you really want to know what Mormons believe, ask one of our missionaries.  That’s what they do.  They answer questions about the church.

On the other hand, you will be surprised at how many people can tell you all about Mormons (Latter-day Saints) without ever having read the Book of Mormon, or attended a sacrament meeting, been on a mission, served in a temple, or anything else to do with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But then, maybe it isn’t about the truth for them.

14 Wonderful Years

Today my sweetheart and I celebrate 14 years of marriage.  During that time we have never had a fight – our differences have always been worked out in a healthy and constructive manner.  We’ve remained best of friends and are truly happy – individually and collectively.  She takes care of me and I take care of her.  I would hold her up as an example of an ideal wife.

Her wants and needs are never shallow.   In fact, they are often deep and meaningful.  She puts God first, and lets everything else fall in to place.  It’s faith like that which allows her to say to me with a surety when I’m down and blue that things will be okay.

I couldn’t be more blessed.

Brazen Serpents

I used to read in Numbers about the Children of Israel getting bit by the fiery serpents and dying.  This came when they were all upset with Moses because they had no food; they had no water.  They complained and the serpents came and when they were bit, they would die.

This humbled the people and they came to Moses pleading for help.  God instructed Moses to make a snake out of brass that looked like the fiery snakes and fasten it to a pole.  He then instructed Moses to have the people look at the brass snake, and if they did, they would live.

As many that would look at the brass snake lived, yet there were those who refused to look and died.

I’m sure in today’s vernacular they said, “That’s so lame.  Like that’s going to help.  I don’t believe it,” and thus refused to look… and then died.  I’m sure if I were there and saw a friend or family member, who had been bit, I would have been trying to turn them around saying, “Will you PLEASE JUST LOOK?  Look at me.  I was bit, I looked, and I’m still alive.  Will you LOOK?”  I feel that same frustration when I read the account in the scriptures.

We live in a world where millions of people refuse to “look and live”.  It’s sad.  Very sad.

I think we all do to one degree or another.  Many of us know better, yet we still cling to our false ideas or bad habits.  For example, look at how many people smoke.  There’s a prime example of knowing something will kill you and yet you still do it.  Others are not so blatant.   Others may be as simple as forgetting to ask for God’s help, or refusing to ask for his help in times of need.

The Children of Israel needed physical, tangible, symbols and examples.  God gave them brazen serpents, manna from heaven and wild locust in the desert.  Although we don’t have a brazen serpent to look at, the concept is the same.  We need to look to God and live.   The brazen serpent upon the pole was symbolic of Christ, that if we look to Christ we will live.

Perhaps I’m understanding more as I see people who just simply choose not to believe their life will be better if they make better choices.  Like those who refused to look at the brass serpent, they refuse to accept that there is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven from before the foundations of this earth.  It is simply – every blessing we receive is by direct obedience to that law upon which that blessing is predicated.

Want to be healthy and fit?  Stop smoking.  Stop drinking.  Exercise more.  Etc.

Want the windows of heaven open and blessings poured out?  Pay your tithes and offerings.

I could go on.

They are all brass serpents.  You “look” and you reap the blessing.  Refuse to “look”, the blessing is withheld.

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I think I understand a bit more after hearing the speakers at church today.  It was a good example of someone who could have so easily turned away and said, “I won’t look”, but instead, in spite of all adversity, but Brother Johnson chose to remain faithful.

So, it got me thinking…

Why do some people refuse to “look and live”?

It is because they lack faith.
They lack faith because they don’t believe.
They don’t believe because they have no hope.

If no you have no hope, you can’t be truly happy.

To turn it around, those who “live” and live happily have a brighter hope for a future.  They believe in God and Christ.  The have faith in Christ which motivates them to keep looking and living.

That’s why they took the first step to look.

On Their Way Home

This morning we took Marilyn and Budd to the airport.  Yesterday, she was released by her doctor so she could travel.  I have never seen the ROC airport so empty.  I guess with all of the flights in and out of JFK canceled, there are not many other flights in and out of Rochester.

On the way home we stopped at Tiffany’s house.  Her mom’s having a garage sale.  Elizabethe got a couple of baskets and I bought some old license plates.  We didn’t see Tiffany.  Her mom said she was still in bed and had been all week due to illness.

We made our way home and worked in the garden a bit.  I put more dirt over the potatoes as some were working their way out of the ground.

Mushrooms in My Yard

Over near the chestnut tree I have lots of these big mushrooms growing.  They are kind of fuzzy on the outside.  It reminds me of my first real adventure in photography back in the 70s.  No… I didn’t eat mushrooms.  Sheesh.  Trying to photograph them.  Got the idea from Brother Jensen who was a photographer at channel 13.  When he suggested we do that, my first thought was, how crazy.  But, now I realize it is fun photographing the little fungi.

Thanks Brother Jensen.

—- update —-

My LensBaby Sweet 35 came and so I hopped in the car and drove to the Smith Farm to take a walk in the Sacred Grove.  Aside from some quiet time, I decided to get really down on the ground and take a picture of this interesting little fungus.

Mushroom in the Sacred Grove

Ruby Tuesday Friday

It’s no secret that our favorite restaurant is the Ruby Tuesday in Henrietta.  We headed there for dinner tonight.  But, that wasn’t until after a stop at Gander Mountain to drool over some hardware.  You can tell hunting season is getting close.  They had a huge table of hunting shotguns and rifles (used) all spread out.  It bored Elizabethe out of her mind.

After a nice dinner, we headed home.

We have a full house again.  Between Budd and Marilyn, we have a bunch of Elizabethe’s cousins too.

Sunflower

Scrapbook Night

Thursday Nights are Scrapbook Nights here at the mansion.  That’s a time for me to retreat and get my computer backed-up and stuff like that.  Elizabethe has her friends and ladies over and they gather in her huge craft room and scrapbook all evening.

Upon getting back from Rochester, I fixed burgers for dinner.  I was dying to try Elizabethe’s counter pickles on a burger.  Oh, those pickles are really good on a burger.

Elizabethe’s mom continues to improve.  They are talking about leaving on Saturday.  (Assuming the doctor clears her for travel.)

Traffic

For the first time in the 25 months I’ve lived here I experienced real traffic.  By that I mean, a back up for no apparent reason (like we had in California all of the time.)  We had to run to Greece after work to pickup some Tonka trucks.  (Someone was giving them away.)  As we came home the 490 was bumper to bumper.  Expecting to see an accident, I drove and drove until traffic let up.  I couldn’t see any reason at that time for the backup.

In spite of sitting in traffic for a whopping 30 minutes extra, I really think that’s pretty good – living in an area for 25 months and only once experiencing a real traffic jam.  Most of the time it is an accident or highway construction work.    I’ll still take Rochester over California… any day of the week.

Earthquake (I’m still snickering)

You’d think the sky was falling.  I was watching the news and the anchorman was like Chicken Little declaring the “sky is falling!”

Granted, 5.8 can be felt, it’s nothing like some of the shakers we would feel in California.  And, given the old stone and concrete structures in the east, a 5.8 could cause some serious damage on a building that wasn’t built to withstand a shaker like that.  But, I’m still snickering at the response of the media.

We shouldn’t be surprised.  We are told there will be “earthquakes in diverse places”.  Some might take it as a wake-up call, while others will dismiss it and call the religious few fanatics.  Scriptural-wise, it shouldn’t be a surprise.  The continents will drift back together – that’s going to cause earthquakes.  The earth will rock to and fro “like a drunken man” – sounds like earthquakes to me.  So, if you read the scriptures and understand them, this is to be expected.

Personally, I don’t want to be anywhere near some of the large cities in these last days:  New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, etc.  If not because of the increase of natural disasters, but also the turmoil created by the economic and social stress.  People are, and will, become more desperate as things get worse, and when you have a high concentration of people, it will be hard to avoid the unrest that follows.  Many of those large cities rely on external support.  A good example was the collapse of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge after the Loma Preita Quake.  Although there were other routes in and out of San Francisco, I-80 being closed was a major impact on the city.  Now, imagine if all routes in or out of a city like that were closed.  No food or supplies coming in would create a real bad situation.

Many big cities adopt liberal laws and regulations.  As a result, you have the nut-cases running around robbing and plundering, while the law-abiding have no means of protection because the liberal city-dwelling politicians have taking their guns away.  Forget the argument that they are concerned about people getting killed with guns.  The bottom-line is these politicians are short-sighted and are more concerned about the law-abiding taking up arms and demanding the government protect them.  (Which is exactly what existed in the 1770s.)

Yes, I’d worry if I lived in one of those big cities.

From a religious stand point, we’re told that in the latter-days, two men would be working in the fields and one taken and the other left.  So, more important than where you live, is how you live.  The best protection one can have against anything in this life, is to keep God’s commandments.  When you look at the population of areas where disasters have killed many people, and the ratio of Latter-day Saints to non-Latter-day Saints, it is astonishing at how few  (active) Latter-day Saints are killed.  I’m not saying none are killed, but relatively speaking, the percentages seem to be lower than what would be expected.

How often do we read about a large earthquake or tsunami and we read that no L.D.S. Missionaries were killed?

I haven’t read about anyone being killed in yesterday’s quakes, but I think the time is coming when NYC and DC are going to get hit by some natural disaster.  In the mean time, you have to ask yourself, ‘Was yesterday a wakeup call?’

5 Things

I’ve been giving some thought to the topic of happiness.  When I say “happiness”, I am not talking about “pleasures”, but things that truly last and do not have negative consequences.  For example, one might take pleasure in gambling, but gambling can have a long-lasting negative effect on ones financial state.

So, here is my list of things that I have observed that bring unhappiness in people’s lives.  I’ve listed them in the order that I have observed to have the most negative effect.  (i.e. number 1 being the most detrimental)

1.  Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs – Alcohol must be the most dangerous drug out there.  I have even seen casual drinkers lives’ turned upside-down because of DUI or stupid mistake made under the influence of “just a little” beer, wine or alcohol.   Alcoholics never recover – they go in to a maintenance mode that is a daily struggle to avoid the stuff.  Tobacco is also very addictive and just ruins your health, makes you smell bad, and ruins your looks.  And, any drug abuse is bad.  Enough said.

2.  Other additions – Whether it be on-line or roll-playing games, pornography, or obsessions that keep you from doing what you should, they ruin relationships, and without good relationships you will not find happiness.  Humans are social beings and we require good relationships to be happy.  Ask any psychiatrist or psychologist and they will tell you that we need each other.  Additions isolate people who have them.

3.  Sex Outside the Bonds of Marriage – For a married person, nothing will destroy a marriage as fast as infidelity.  For the unmarried, you might think sex is fun, but when it results in pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease you might rapidly change your mind.  There’s an old saying, it goes like this…. “Q.  What do you call a young lady who practices birth control?  A.  Mommy.”  Many people have had their marriages ruined too by the discovery of premarital relationships.  It is simply not worth it in the long run.  Hollywood makes it look so normal and glamorous, yet so many celebrities live such a shallow unhappy life.  Just look at the tabloids and gossip magazines.  (Actually, you’ll be better off if you don’t look at those magazines.  I just use that as an example to support my point.)

4. Dishonesty – The best way to ruin your relationships with most people is to lie to them or steal from them.  Being dishonest in any degree is hard to live with.  You must always be watching over your shoulder to see if someone is going to catch you in your dishonesty.  Eventually, truth always comes out.

5.   Debt – Debt is a prison master who never sleeps, never takes vacation or time off.  As long as you have an outstanding debt, you will have something hanging over your head.

On the other hand, here are 5 things that bring happiness:

1.  A relationship with God – prayer and worship are common among the most happiest people in the world.  Knowing who you are, why you are here, and where you go after this life brings peace and comfort.  Being able to say, “I do this…”, or “I do not do that because God says,” allows for a moral compass on which important decisions are based.  Of the happiest people in the world, surveys have said they are Jews, Catholics and Mormons that go to church.

2. Living the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule – What simple rules for happiness.  You don’t even need to think about them once you understand them.  You just need to commit to live them.  And, the Golden Rule is quite simple, but often misunderstood.  Too many people thinks it means “Treat others how they treat you.”  But, that is not what it says, it says, “Do unto others as you would have others do to you.”  That means, if you want to be treated with love and kindness and respect, treat others that same way.

3.  Hard Work – Hard work brings self-esteem.  It’s hard to feel bad about a day when you’ve worked really hard.  That sense of accomplishment is worth a lot.

4.  Serve Others – When you serve others, you feel happier about yourself.  You seem to forget your problems when you serve those who are less fortunate than you.  It’s easy to do something nice for someone with power, fame or money, but it often doesn’t satisfy.  When you do something that is for someone less fortunate than you, it often comes with gratitude and thanks.

5.  Make Friends – Make friends with everyone you meet.  Genuinely learn to care about others.  Learn to say, ‘I love you,’ and understand what you are saying when you say it.    Value differences, and do not join cliques.  Call on your friends when you need help, and respond to their requests when they need help.    Be compassionate when they stumble or fall.

Someone once said it takes one time to break a habit, and three times to form a new habit.  So, start with the list of 5 items that make people unhappy and break those habits, then start on the list of 5 things that bring happiness.  Or better yet, do them concurrently.