Monday, June 30, 2008

The Taxonomy of the Troll

We can safely assume that the difficulty of naming our Norwegian friend stems from our inability to figure out exactly what he (or she) is. Therefore, if we can apply the practice of scientific observation, and with the help of wikipedia, we will be able to properly classify this fellow and come up with a proper name.

It is clear from the early hypothesis of other family members, namely Heidi, that classifying this animal is anything but easy. I am indebted to her astuteness when it comes to this subject. However, I am thoroughly against the notion that this creature is a goblin, but is, in actually, a true troll. I will, therefore, prove to the blogging world through a diachronic taxonomy and careful observation and research that the creature is a troll and nothing else. The result of this blog will be a load of useless information and an unfinished econ assignment.

In discovering the nature of this beast, it will be helpful to make careful observations. Since I have had possession of the troll for over a week now, I am fully qualified to do this. First, its skin is an olive tone with a texture that resembles the skin of the aged. The hair of the head is also dark with no particular style or fashion. Its nose is elongated telling us that it could possibly be a member of the pinnochius family, which uses its nose mostly for lying and reaching glasses in the cupboard that are too high to reach flat-footed. It's eyes are not real. The clothing of the creature is quite peculiar. It wears only a green pair of overalls that can lead us to make only two logical conclusions. One, it is most likely a male, and two, it never attended Ricks College.

Now let us examine the possibility of this creature being an actual gremlin. Gremlins are an American invention that have originated in the 1930s. They are most closely associated with airplanes and have been the cause of many airplane accidents including the not-yet revealed reason why the Lost people are still on the island. Our friend obviously has no fear of air travel so this fact seems to correspond. However, from looking at pictures of gremlins from the movie, Gremlins, it is easily seen that our creature bears no resemblance.

The next idea is that our creature is a gnome. That explanation is simply inadequate. If we would apply the principle of Occam's razor to keep things simple, we would go from gnome to nome which would put us in a city in ancient Egypt, a long way from our friend's nordic homeland. Plus, he has no pointy hat.

The only logical we can come to is that this creaturely is a thoroughbred troll. I understand that the confusion stems from the following comparison.

I believe that this misidentification mistake is a result of American Globalization and overprotective parents. As Nordic traditions have diffused into the United States, we have acculturated those traditions to meet our own needs and wants. This has unfortunately resulted in a plethora of these warm and friendly creatures that have invaded our very own playrooms and TV screens. The origins and mutations of the troll that have been caused by American Globalization can be seen the in following timeline.

The original troll.

When the troll hit America, it went one of two ways.

Because that was all too scary for most American households, this was what resulted.

As we have mentioned earlier, overprotective parents can also be blamed for the troll confusion. Before the troll became what we know it today in America, it was what every American children's nightmares were made of. American pop culture has a great way of taking something scary and frightening and turning it into something harmless. Now this adaption isn't as uncommon as you might think. One of the greatest products of our popular culture is is the virtual domestication of undomesticatable animals, as seen below.

Therefore, I still believe that our friend is a troll. But I think that Nilbog is a good name.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Hair Cut, A Fair Cut

I've been putting off getting a haircut for a while now, and I knew that it had been too long since my last cut when I discovered that I could floss my teeth with my own hair. My problem wasn't so much not wanting to cut my hair, rather, it was paying for someone to do it for me.

A place just opened up in Provo that advertises $5 haircuts for both men and women so today I thought I would give it a try. I've had a lot of bad haircuts in my life (just look at my school pictures) so I thought I couldn't loose. Let me explain to you why a $12 dollar haircut at Great Clips doesn't sound so expensive to me anymore.

The first thing I noticed when I got to the salon was actually what I didn't notice: people. Usually when I go to get my haircut, I put my name on a list, flip through a People magazine and make the same conclusion I always make, that is, I will never allow my daughters to have a magazine subscription. But, at $5 Cuts, (yes, the price of the haircut is also the name of the store. It makes it easier to remember), when I walked in the door I was immediately ushered to a chair that would be my seat for the next half-hour.

The stylist who cut my hair was actually very nice. She was a fake blonde recently removed from Vegas who loved to ask me personal questions and wash my hair (she did it twice). She had come into $5 Cuts only an hour earlier for a job interview to find out that not only did she get the job, but that the job started right away. Like me, she never had time to flip through the People magazine. She admitted that I was her first haircut at this salon but she quickly reassured me that I was not her first haircut...she had graduated from a hair academy three years earlier. What a relief...

There was another person in the salon with us. He was a little older than me, well-dressed, and possessed the type of mannerisms you'd expect to see in the owner of the salon. He comfortably slid into our hair-talk and casually asked me several get-to-know-you type questions. In my mind I asked, "why is he talking to me? Isn't that what the stylist gets paid for?" I didn't have the heart to tell him the principles I had learned earlier in the week in my Economics class, namely that the opportunity cost of him making smalltalk with a customer like me was valuable time he could spend doing more important things like advertising, budgeting, or planning to take over the haircutting world.

To be honest, my haircut experience wasn't that bad. Whatever mistakes were made will soon grow out and whatever was missed will get cut next month. Actually, I found out that today was really my lucky day. Tomorrow the price of a haircut goes up to $6 which leaves me wondering how I could be so lucky and what the name of the salon will be!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Call for A Retraction

To stay busy, I have subscribed to both the National Geographic Magazine and the Smithsonian Magazine. I have subscribed to National Geographic before, but this is my first experience with the Smithsonian. Can you imagine my surprise as I noticed that there was a major article on Mormons in my very first issue of the Smithsonian? What a coincidence!

As you may imagine, I had very little tongue left to bite as I endured through the entire bigoted article. I immediately felt the temperature in my apartment begin to rise as I checked the frozen-over thermostat to make sure the temperature was still at 50 degrees.

I am losing more and more faith in the "fair" and "balanced" media. Ignorance cannot be an excuse anymore. With all the counter-media efforts made by the Church to dispell rumors and myths about our faith, there is no excuse for any journalist from any major media organization to continue to believe and report their biased "facts." It is flat-out intolerance.

My major concerns with this article are mainly concerned with:
1. An overabundance of secondary sources (historians with a biased view)
2. A scarcity of LDS sources to create an important balance
3. The creation of the "Utah War" between Brigham Young and the entire United States
4. The concept of polygamy permeating nearly every paragraph of the article.
5. Fighting words written by the author to incite new negative feelings toward Mormons and the Mormon Church

I am so opposed to this article that I have written a letter to the editor expressing some of my views. Since my letter will most likely go unheard and overlooked by Smithsonian, I have decided to post my response on my blog and use this as my soap box. This is also a way to follow Elder M. Russell Ballard's counsel to BYU-Hawaii graduates to use the media and technology (such as blogs) to define our beliefs.

You can read this article yourself by copying and pasting the following link in a new browser window:

Here is my letter.

To the Editor-

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I feel outraged at the bigoted views expressed by author David Roberts in the article about the Utah War. The theme most often repeated in this article was that from the very beginning, the Mormon Church was at odds with the United States government. It is a fact that the early Mormons did feel abandoned by the same government that promised religious freedom to all people, but Mr. Roberts made no attempt to record the efforts made by Joseph Smith and others to legally and lawfully seek proper redress from the government. Dozens of letters were sent and many visits were made by members of the Mormon Church to every United States president between the years of 1825-1845. Joseph Smith personally visited with President Van Buren twice in 1839 and 1840 and both times he was told by the President, “Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you.” Joseph Smith was even a presidential candidate in 1844 when he realized that all his efforts at redress were in vain. His campaign ended abruptly when he was murdered on June 17th 1844.

No efforts were made by Mr. Roberts to explain how Mormons fulfilled a request made by President James K. Polk in June of 1846 to have 500 Mormon men join the United States military in their campaign during the Mexican-American War. These 500 men were living in Iowa, halfway between the homes they were driven from in Nauvoo, Illinois and the homes they hoped to make in the unsettled territory of the west. Still, at the encouragement of Brigham Young, the request from President Polk was filled and the men left their families. They would not return to their homes for several years and some of them would never return.

Mormon support for the cause of America is not new. Our scriptures teach us that the Lord caused the Constitution to be written by wise men, and that those who keep the laws of God would not break the laws of the land. Joseph Smith wrote to a newspaper reporter on March 1, 1842 that “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

This article is a perfect example of how historians, such as Mr. Roberts, attempt to write about popular contemporary issues while remaining disguised in the comfortable cloak of history. Surely, this is an attempt to feed off of the recent activities of the FLDS Church, a church we are not a part of and who is not a part of us.

As an American and a Mormon, I am willing to lay down my life to defend either cause. It is the eventual religious freedom of this land that gives me a chance to practice my faith and religion. It is the doctrines and tenets of my faith that teach me, and other Mormons like me, to do what we can to make this land a better place for everyone. To me, both my citizenship of this great nation and my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ create the very thread by which I live my life.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I've Been Trolled!

It was only a matter of time before our little Norwegian homeboy made a visit to Provo. Yesterday, after I finished a shift at the MTC, I noticed as I was walking to my car that there was something left on my window. Occasionally, I'll get a little note or flyer left on my car but I could instantly tell that this was not an ordinary gift. As I got closer to the car, I was surprised to see our unnamed friend severely duct-taped to the driver's side window of my car. I immediately broke out in laughter!

When I finally recovered, I started to think of what I was going to do with the troll. I didn't have my camera with me, and if there was any excitement in my life, this was it and it needed to be documented. I kept the little guy on my window as I routinely drove the two miles back to my apartment. As luck would have it, I got stopped at nearly every stoplight on the way home which provided many people with a great opportunity to get a peek into our interesting family prank. I noticed several people staring at me as if to ask, "why do you have a troll duct-taped to your window?" Confidently, I looked at them as if to ask, "why don't you have a troll duct-taped to your window?" Thankfully, the lights in Provo change quickly.

Has anyone really looked at this troll? This thing is hideous! The things nightmares are made of! I wouldn't be surprised if there's some kind of age requirement for anyone who even wants to glance at this thing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Un-Common Cents

One of my favorite tricks to pull when I was young was to wet my hands in the sink, sneak up behind an unsuspecting victim, wipe them off on their face and say, “there are quarters in the toilet!” Their reactions were always worth the repercussions I experienced. I never knew, however, that there might really be quarters in the toilet. To me it always seemed to be such an illogical place to keep spare change.

Mom inherited a lot of great qualities and attributes from Grandma Allen like great musical and cooking abilities. One the other great things mom has inherited from grandma was a desire to be frugal in all money matters. This became apparent on our trip to Florida.

One morning before a big day at Disney, Marissa and I were sitting in the hotel room waiting for mom to finish getting ready and for dad to return with breakfast. Suddenly, a shriek came from the bathroom which immediately turned our attention from the TV to mom. We questioned mom as to the cause of her cry and she answered quite seriously, “I dropped money in the toilet!” Apparently, mom was pouring the contents out of her purse in the bathroom and some of it fell right where things don’t return. By this time dad had returned with breakfast and mom summoned him to fetch out the money. He, like both Marissa and I, refused to retrieve the dirty money. All three of us then sat on the beds and listened to the groanings and moanings of mom as she carefully fished out the twenty-six cents she dropped in the pot. It was thoroughly entertaining.

A little advice for the grandkids - if grandma offers to pay you twenty-six cents to do a favor, ask her to write out a check.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Little Taste of Change

Walking into the Windermere chapel was like ripping a page out of my missionary journal and living it over again. Many of the people I knew and loved in the nine months I served in that ward were still there, however, there were many people who were noticeably absent. From the time I walked in the building to the time I left, the memories of the past were battling with the memories I was presently forming in order to take front position on the stage of my current thought. Out of all the thoughts in my head today, there was one in particular that I wanted to share. Forgive me for a nostalgic moment.

The Flores family moved into the Windermere ward a few months before I moved out. Brandon Flores, then eight years old, was preparing for his long-awaited baptism when I was helping my investigator, JaCouri Bell (also eight years old), prepare to be baptized. Thankfully, Brandon willingly allowed us to share his baptism day with our investigator, JaCouri. Both were baptized and both entered into the very same important covenants.

Today I noticed Brandon was one of the dozen deacons who helped pass the Sacrament. In the four years Brandon has been a member of the Church, he has stayed the course and progressed.

There were several people who were just as faithful and excited about the gospel four years ago as Brandon was on his baptism day, but who, for whatever reason, have not stayed the course or progressed. They were not there today, but they needed to be and they should’ve been. The reason for the absence is not important. What matters is what reason they will have to come next week, and forever after that.

There was another young brother in the ward today that I didn’t know, but who was baptized only yesterday. If I came back to the Windermere ward in four years, I would want him to pass the Sacrament to me. Then I will know that he has stayed the course and progressed like my good buddy, Brandon. And I hope that I would see all of the friends I saw today, and perhaps several other families who should have been there but were not. And I hope that four years from now they would still recognize me as “Elder Farmer,” and welcome me back as if I was still one of them.