Thursday, January 29, 2009

The New Stimulus Package

Up until 10 minutes ago, I had no idea what was going into the new stimulus package proposed by President Barack Obama. I assume that most of you don't either.

Well, with nearly a trillion dollars on the line, I think it's important we know. In fact, I think it's our duty, as American citizens, to know where the money is going.

Read this. Regardless of which party you side with, I think you'll be interested. Even enlightened.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Would Food be your Priority?

Imagine this: A national (or world) disaster, on a scale you've never seen before, wipes out all power across North America. The government, disaster relief, and local food kitchens have been entirely overwhelmed and all stores have been looted. Luckily, you've stored up, and have food for at least six months for you and your family. Bravo! Give yourself a round of applause and enjoy recipes from the book: "1000 Delicious Uses for Wheat, Pickles and Pears". Time passes, though, and your neighbors begin to run out of food. Pretty soon people begin to show up at your doorstep. They see that you're not yet gaunt with hunger and begin to ask you for food. What do you do?

This idea didn't ignite spontaneously. Rather, it was lit by a spark from a blog I read from time to time called Times and Seasons. The specific post can be found here. It's a cute little story, but entails serious ramifications. What would YOU do if people began to come to you for your food in a situation like that? Do you share all you have, knowing full well that it will only feed you and your neighbors for a week at most? Or do you try to try to turn them away? When they show up with guns (an awful thought, but a likely event) do you crank out your own arsenal and start capping people? As a teenager, I remember thinking I'd have a gun for such situations, but as thought about it tonight, I've come to another conclusion:

Killing over food is stupid. Why not share what you have? Yeah, it would be a severe test of faith to do so, knowing that you, your family, and everyone else involved would likely starve within a few weeks if no more food is found. But would you rather put your afterlife in jeopardy by killing a man over a food squabble? What's the trade-off? A few paltry months in your basement eating canned olives and oatmeal, sitting in your own refuse, with the moment you became a killer echoing endlessly in your thoughts.

I'm for sharing. It seems like the reasonable thing to do. These decisions come easy, though, to a man who has never in his life known true hunger. I guess it's good to decide now, though, so that when reason begins to disappear in the shadow of starvation, I'll know what to do.

Your thoughts?


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sundance - In a Nutshell

Last night we drove up to Park City to check out the waning moments of the Sundance Film Festival. We didn't see any movies, because the tickets were long past sold, and we didn't hit any of the clubs because a) we don't drink, and b) the bands we heard playing inside weren't worth the 10 or 25 dollar cover charge. We had a great time, though, strolling up and down the frosty sidewalks of Main Street, always keeping a casual eye out for a celebrity.

We got some hot chocolate and a less-than-tasty pecan bar and soaked in the feeling of a small town in Utah momentarily lit up with the excitement and indifference of Hollywood. Whilst observing the denizens of this star-struck hamlet, I came to the following conclusion: at the Sundance Film Festival, there are famous people and there are people who want to look famous. Consider the following illustration:

The poser dresses in his finest threads and proudly displays his id badge like a geriatric millionaire showing off his trophy wife. He wants to stand out. He realizes that he is utterly unknown to the world but that for one week in a Utah winter people will whisper about him, deciding whether or not to ask for his autograph. His badge? It likely came from Dad, who likely works as an assistant to the assistant of the lighting director for one of the 'less-known' movies in town.

The actor (or celebrity), on the other hand, tucks his id badge safely under his hooded sweatshirt. He doesn't need the admiration of the world. He already has it. So, rather than draw more attention to himself with the latest Prada and Gucci, he wears clothing that hides his Hollywood features. He grows a beard. He carefully avoids any grooming for the three or four weeks prior to the festival. This all comes together to make him look like the unibomber. He won't hurt you, though. Just don't ask him for his autograph.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another Wedding

While we're on the topic of wedding photography....

This is my grandparent's wedding picture. My grandma gave it to me with the hopes of restoring the really bad discoloration. Over time, with exposure to sunlight, the photo has faded to a very bleached orange. She also wanted me to get rid of the cross that is so conveniently sprouting from the top of my grandpa's head.

Well, after a few hours of work, here's what I was able to do.

You'll need to click on the pictures to see the larger sizes and really appreciate how much better it looks.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Just a Few

Do you remember when I said I'd post pictures of the wedding as soon as I could? Well, I have some of the pictures here with me, but not all of them, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

The client LOVED them. :)


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tired, but thrilled.

I shot my first wedding today, and I'm exhausted. It was such a great experience, though. I can easily say that since the purchase of my first digital camera (a lousy point and shoot with no zoom) way back in 2003, no single day has seen a larger jump in personal photographic talent development than today. My sister, Shannon, who has a great eye for photography and who is exceptionally talented at directing and posing people, accompanied me throughout the day, and together we were a pretty deft photographic duo. We had a lot of fun!

I can't show you any of the images yet, because I have yet to give them to the bride, but I'm brimming with excitement at the prospect of showing you our work. So many shots turned out exceptionally well. And while we have a long way to go to being on par with the elite among wedding photographers, I don't doubt that we produced a much higher quality of work than most get with their first wedding.

I promise to post the pictures as soon as I give them to the client.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Little Cars!

Seriously one of the most enjoyable videos I've seen in a long time. It's not that hilarious. It's not that "amazing" or "unbelievable". It's just pure, viewing pleasure.

Oh man..! Isn't that just great? :)


Slowly But Surely

Today I thought I'd whip out the ol' Wacom drawing pad again with the hopes of improving my artistic skills. I've learned that these skills, much like our bodies, grow slow and awkward without constant exercise. And as exciting as it is to create something that shows improvement, it's equally frustrating to see how slow that improvement develops.

I wanted to utilize the few tips and skills I picked up last week while working on this. Only today I did not follow a tutorial, nor did I look at a picture from which to base my drawing. I wanted to take the training wheels off of my newfound skills and see what I could do. As you'll see below, it was a bumpy ride. I crashed a few times, but eventually ended up with something I can say I'm proud to have created. :)
It's not really supposed to be anybody, but if you think it looks like somebody you're welcome to say in your head, "Oh, that is TOTALLY so-and-so!"


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Night Photography Minus Tripod Equals Fun?

I decided to head up to campus last night to take some pictures. My roommate, Scott, came along to see what wonders night photography could produce.

It was really cold - not a good night for holding a camera. We did get some fun pictures, though.

Check it out.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From My Window

I can see Mount Timpanogos...

(Click for a larger version. It's quite stunning)

At first, I was a little annoyed with the power lines, but they actually break the picture up on or near the golden ratio, providing a very aesthetically pleasing effect.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Follow Me!

Check it out! You can now follow my blog by clicking on the button to the right!

Oh man, that's exciting!

Isn't it?

Seriously. That's awesome.


On another note, as I was driving on the interstate today (said in my best British accent) I made an observation. I drive 99 percent of the time at 75 miles per hour. In fact, it's kind of a little obsession of mine that when I'm on the freeway, I am at 75mph as often as possible. Obviously, there are some discrepancies - such as entering and exiting the freeway, and when traffic is slow for congestion / weather / rampaging monsters. But other than that it's smooth sailing.

Recently, I've noticed that my consistent... nay, dare I say... perfect speed control is not conducive to what other drivers do. I've illustrated this point with a series of pictures. Observe.

I start between two cars. We're all traveling at equal speed. 75mph.

We come to a hill. I continue at 75mph because that's my style. The two others, however, slow down considerably. Naturally, I began to tailgate the car in front of me. This angers him greatly.

Little man gets over to allow me to pass him, and I do make some ground on him, but soon the hill has flattened. I'm still traveling at 75mph, but to him it seems I've slowed down. He thinks I'm playing road games. In his rage he speeds past me.

We begin to descend the hill. I lay off the gas a little to keep at 75mph. However, big man keeps his pedal where it was. To him, it's seems I've slowed down. He begins to tailgate me, but I do not get over. If I allow him to get in front of me, he'll likely slow way down on the next hill, just as he did before. So I continue at 75mph. Meanwhile, little man zooms ahead.

Surely enough, when we hit flat ground, Big man falls behind till he realizes he has slowed down and regulates his speed to match mine. Little man also slows down till he realizes that I'm coming up behind him and then regulates his speed to match mine. Both are very angry. I have done nothing wrong, however. My speed, the entire time, has been 75mph.

This is all part of my new children's book, "Driving Just Right: You, Too, Can Be Perfect!"

: )


Friday, January 9, 2009

Old Man Sketchy

He'd definitely scare small children.

I drew this following a tutorial online. I think it turned out pretty well, but I definitely have MUCH to improve on. I'll post sketches occasionally, hopefully showing some progress as I go along. :)


September 14

I got hungry last night for some cereal, much like I do every night, at about 11:30pm. That's cereal time for me - a time when I sit down to a bowl of crunchy, milky heaven. Well, I opened the cupboard that, since two days ago, has been designated "the food cupboard belonging to Barry and Scott," and smiling back at me was a box of O's.

For those of you who don't know what O's are, go to Walmart and look for the box that says "O's". It's yellow and red and delicious. Seriously, if you're an O's virgin, you need to make like Madonna and go at it for the very first time. Cause - I tell you what - they're amazing.

Anyway, I got my bowl of O's and opened the fridge and looked to the bottom row, which had, since two days ago, been designated "Barry and Scott's fridge-space for the placement of food." I grabbed my milk (or so I thought) and poured into the bowl of heaven's sacred cereal. With my late night treat in hand I headed back to my room where Scott and I were about to watch some internet hilarity. I sat down. I bent over to take a bite of cereal and suddenly smelled feet.

"Oh, man" I thought, "Scott's feet have really started stinking..."

In a split second my mind calculated the nasty ramifications of having a stinky footed roommate. All the times I would have to put up with the smell. Would I tell him? Would I just let it pass?

No matter.

I put the spoonful of cereal into my mouth and began chewing. It was then that I realized Scott's feet didn't stink. In an instant, the smell of feet overloaded my senses. My eyes watered, my sinuses burned, as if the very stench of feet was rolling down the back of my throat.

And, in fact, the very stench of feet WAS rolling down the back of my throat! The milk was bad.

So awfully bad that it didnt' resemble milk anymore. It was a flavor and smell unlike anything I've ever experienced, which means a lot. I lived in Mexico for two years.

I spat the cereal back into the bowl, gagging. Scott smelled it then, too, and hid his face from the monstrous aura of death creeping out of my bowl and into my room. I ran to the kitchen, threw the faucet into a frenzied torrent, flipped on the garbage disposal, and disposed the entire contents of the bowl - 1/4 box of O's cereal.

Dejected, I opened the fridge to see how my milk - which I bought only a few days ago - could be so rancid, so soon. Surely enough, milk had been placed on the bottom row. Milk that wasn't mine. Milk that had probably been forgotten long ago and instead of being discarded, was simply moved from station to station within the frigde - wherever it would be out of the way - by others who cared no more about it than I did. It had a blue lid, just like mine.

And the date of expiration? September 14th, 2008.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Yet Another Amazing Verification!

As I've wandered through the blogosphere - a term I learned from reading something smart once - I've come across many clever word verification surprises. Things like this and this. And while those have always been fun, this one certainly takes the cake:

Yeah! A WHOLE word! A REAL, WHOLE word! It almost says, "Type the characters you see in the picture above. Uh huh. Be honest now. Don't you even think of pushing that handicap button!"

It made me smile.

Oh. And the squiggly, floaty properties of the word reminded me of this:

(Click on the picture for the link)


Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Years Resolutions

1) Develop my patience.

When I was fresh off the mission I was a very patient guy. In the field, where the very fires of hell seem to come at you in the form of your companion, your patience either becomes a great strength, or you end up killing your companion. I'd hear stories about a kid or see somebody in a zone conference and think "Gosh, I'm glad he's not my companion" and ya know what? A month or so down the road, EVERY SINGLE TIME, I'd be assigned to be companions with that kid.

Oh yeah. My patience grew to biblical proportions.

That was then, though, and this is now. In the years since the mission my patience has dwindled. This year, I'm going to make an extra effort to be a more patient person.

2) Date often. (One date a week, at least)

You can almost hear my mom cheering, can't you? Seriously, though. I need to step it up. I'm no recluse, but I can certainly get out more than I have been in the past few months. And I'll soon be in Provo - a warm little place where the women flock like the salmon of Capistrano, and the beer flows like wine. Oh wait. That's Aspen. Provo, though, really is a good locale for dating, socializing, and the like. It should be fun.

3) Build an Internet Company

Yeah. That entails a few things: a) I build a website and b) I make money from that website. I've had a few really great ideas stewing in my head for the past year or so. It's just a matter of bringing at least one of them to fruition. If things go to plan, you'll hear more about them in the months to follow. I don't plan on selling them to a huge media conglomerate for a billion dollars, but something in the low millions might be nice. ; )

4) Volunteer.

I used to volunteer at an elementary school in Provo to help a teacher in our ward. Basically it was a few hours a week of drawing and answering questions - most of which had to do with my favorite toy or color. What could be better? Recently, I've been watching a lot of "Trama: Life in the ER" and have decided that volunteering in a hospital is something I'd like to do. Who wouldn't want to learn how to use a Sphygnamonometer, anyway?

5) Get Back to the Gym

You just feel so much better when you're healthy, ya know? I get a huge sense of accomplishment, too, after a hard workout. It's a daily thrill that I don't realize I love until I stop working out.

6) Sketch Every Day.

The stem of all creativity and artistic talent lies in sketching. You can ask any professional in any creative field, be it graphic design, animation, painting, and even advertising, and they will tell you that it all comes down to sketching. I've seen drastic improvement in my own talents when I sketch more, so I've decided that it's time I make it a habit. I plan to fill many sketchbooks this year. I'll get a scanner, too, so I can share them with you all. : )

So there they are. Six very keepable resolutions for 2009. If you've made some, I'd love to hear them. Post them in a comment, or post the address of your resolutions! Let's do this!


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Winter Flavor

This blog is now "Winter" flavored. No, not Wintergreen. Just Winter.

Enjoy. But don't stick your tongue to my blog. It might stick. And then we'd have to get the fire department to come get it off.


Friday, January 2, 2009

I was brushing my teeth.

Lately, when I do anything that involves the sink, the cats MUST get up and see what I'm doing. I ran out of the bathroom - foam still in my mouth - to get this shot before they jumped down to follow me. I feel sometimes like I have a pack of little, purring wolves that follow me around.