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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in bar0n's LiveJournal:

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Friday, December 18th, 2009
8:10 pm
Writer's Block: James Cameron’s AVATAR
James Cameron’s AVATAR is in theaters today. What about this movie interests you the most?
The sheer dichotomy between the lifestyles of the humans and the Na'vi and the way both relate to the reality of our own current existence and the ideal to which most of us strive in our daily lives. I saw the opening show last night and I was absolutely floored not just by the special effects, but also by the actors' performances and the very emotional story they tell.  I found it hard when I returned home to separate myself from the magical world that they put together for us, and it's become even more frustrating lately as I see so many parallels between everyday life and the movie. First and foremost was the simplicity and organic nature of the Na'vi's existence.  Save weapons, they had no real technology in their lives but were perfectly happy.  They lived in rich, diverse environment which they traversed mostly on foot and lived on what amounts to a hunter-gatherer diet.  The humans, on the other hand, were the epitome of technological prowess.  They arrived on the planet in ships, strip-mined the landscape for resources, cultivated gardens for food, and used massive machines for all forms of transportation. I found myself spending much of the movie wishing the Na'vi way of life were truly possible in a modern society and spent much of the following day disgusted with my own habitual trend of technological waste.  I work on a computer (am currently lamenting this fact on the Internet) and drive my car to the store that's less than 4 blocks away when I could just as easily walk.  While on the one hand I feel a deep yearning for the simple, fulfilling, content lifestyle the Na'vi characters had, I find myself deeply entrenched in the world-wasting technological one of the human characters. To be honest, I went into the movie expecting a compelling science fiction movie wrought with action, suspense, and imaginative alien creatures.  I did not expect the deep story telling or the vivid detail of the background (characters, the environment, supporting events/creatures) that would bring it so much to life.
Monday, March 16th, 2009
11:30 am
The Last House on the Left
I enjoy horror movies.  They're a great way to disconnect from the real horrors of the real world for an hour or two.  Purely for entertainment, horror can be a great release.  It's also fantastic that my brothers share my love for quality horror movies.  That's why they so easily talked me into seeing The Last House on the Left last night ...

... which was the most disgusting film I've seen to-date.  I don't mean disgusting as in "so much gore it was awesome!"  I mean disgusting as in "I walked out of the theater and was physically ill."

The main premise of the movie is the kidnapping, rape, and attempted murder of a teenage girl on vacation (not to mention the kidnapping and murder of her friend).  No psychopatic zombies, no aliens, no monsters from another dimension ... just an escaped convict and his buddies ... destroying someone's life.  The movie was hard to watch ... which explains why I got up and left in the middle.  I don't care who you are, but anyone who enjoys watching a rape scene is seriously fucked up in the head.

I walked through the theater for a good 15 minutes before going back into the room so I could watch the last have of the movie.  I was so upset by the first half that I think I spaced out the rest of the film.  It just didn't reach me.

The most disturbing part of all of this, though, is what I found when I got home.  People told me to "get over it" when I explained why I didn't sleep last night.  Even message boards related to the movie say that the scenes were OK and people like me who are upset by them should move on, grow up, and just "enjoy the film."

I don't understand people at times ...

Current Mood: frustrated
Sunday, September 21st, 2008
8:51 am
Writer's Block: Everything That's Fit to Print
The New York Times was first published on this day in 1851. How important is print news to you? Does the internet render circulation obsolete, or will print never die?
Print will never truly die, but it will be reserved for the few holdouts and affinity users who enjoy the feel of a paper in their hands.  In reality, getting news online is faster, more convenient, and cheaper.  Newspapers for me exist for three reasons:
  1. Sometimes I'm to lazy to go online.  Having the paper already on my table makes it a little more convenient to thumb through the day's events.
  2. Crossword puzzles.  I tried to do them online once, but it took me forever to get the pencil marks off my computer screen.
  3. Nostalgia.  In college I had to read the NY Times cover to cover every day.  What started as a fun hobby freshman year (to impress people by how much I knew) turned into homework by senior year (I was a political science major and HAD to know what was going on).  Every now and then it's refreshing to kick back and open up an oversized piece of newsprint.
8:50 am
Writer's Block: Lunch Break
Do you bring or buy your lunch during the work week? How much money do you spend on food consumed during working hours?
Food is expensive!  After I realized how mcuh money I was wasting during the lunch rush, I started bringing my lunch from home.  Rather than spending about $7 per day for lunch (plus $2-$3 for snacks) I now spend maybe $7 per week for lunchmaking materials and about $1 on a pack of gum that keeps me snack free all week long.
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
6:14 pm
Job Hunting Sucks
Another day ... another rejection letter.  And now the irony hits me.  I have been turned down for interviews more times this year than most people will in their entire lives.  I seriously stopped keeping track of my applications after I hit # 200 ... and that was back in June.  UGH!

On top of that, I have the not-so-supportive chatter of my parents to encourage, discourage, and otherwise add to my level of frustration.  See, a friend of a friend just recommended me for a part-time job in Bend that pays around $1,600 a month.  Not much, no, but that translates to about $9.50/hr if it were a full-time job.  It's a part-time gig, so it translates to even more and gives me extra time to work somewhere else if I can find an extra job, too ...

I show it to my parents with all the fervor of an excited kid saying, "mommy, mommy, look at this pretty piece of paper."  Yeah, I was excited that I finally found something that might be a break.  Her response?  "Great, I wish you the best of luck"? No ... "Oh, that sounds like a great fit for you"? No ...

"You can't live on that small of a salary."

Duh?  Did she think I was going to settle for a part-time gig and think it would pay all the bills?  On top of that, over dinner she reminded me yet again that Bi-Mart is hiring ... Bi-Mart ... minimum wage ... yeah, $7.95/hr is so much more livable than $9.50 ... really now.

So tomorrow is another day, and, most likely, means another 10-20 job applications will fly out my door with the hope that eventually I'll get the lifesaving interview.  Wish me luck.

Oh, and I'll still be applying for the part-time job.  I might not be able to "live on that small of a salary," but it would be money coming in and a definite start ...



Current Mood: frustrated
Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008
10:32 am
Writer's Block: The Expendable Sense(s)
If you had to give up one of your five senses, which could you live without?
Five senses ... sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing.  I really don't think I could live without any of them; I really do take them for granted.

I mean, there are so many beautiful things in the world that I have yet to see, I don't think I would be happy without my sense of sight.

I love food.  I adore food.  I won't go so far as to say I worship food, but you get the idea.  Taste is a necessity for me.

I'm a very touchy person.  I enjoy being near people, giving out free hugs to friends who need them, and generally feeling a comforting hand on my shoulder when things get rough.  I think I'd die on the inside without my sense of touch.

Just like I love the taste of food, I love the smell of food, too.  Half of the meal is enjoying the complex aromas of whatever dish I've managed to work up. 

Music is vital to my life, and I protect my sense of hearing.  I doubt I could live without it for very long.

I guess in the end, I doubt I could ever willingly nominate one of my senses for elmination ... though if I had to pick one, it would be my sense of smell.  As much as I love being able to smell different things, there are some odors in the world that I can live without.  It's a tradeoff, yes, but it's the only one I'd be willing to make.



Current Mood: awake
Sunday, July 6th, 2008
7:38 pm
Writer's Block: The Best Thing You've Done
If you were to die now, at this moment, what would you think of as the best thing you've ever done in your life?
When I was 18 I had the opportunity to work at a Boy Scout summer camp as an archery instructor.  I taught a lot of people to shoot that summer, but I will always remember the interactions I had with two scouts in particular.

One scout took my class because his father was a world-class archer.  Unfortunately, he wasn't able to teach his son any of it.  He asked (forced) his son to sign up for my class in the hopes that another archer could teach him a thing or two.  For simplicity, let's call the scout Nathan.  Nathan's problem was that, no matter how close he was to the target, he couldn't hit the bullseye.  His form was near perfect, but his aim was, to be frank, lousy.  He would miss 2 feet to the right on one volley, and 2 feet to the left on the next.  I could tell Nathan's dad was hard on him for it, because I saw his spirit drop with every missed target.

I do know a trick or two, so I checked his eye-dominance.  Sure enough, he was left-eye dominant!  I gave him a left-handed bow instead and covered his right eye with a plastic pirate eyepatch I had lying around (please, don't ask why).  By the end of the week, he was shooting perfect scores and had never been happier.  It took a while to convince his dad there was nothing wrong with a left-handed shooter ... but one father-son shooting contest later (with Nathan beating his dad by 3 points) had the problem solved.

The joy in Nathan's eyes when he finally connected with the bull's eye was amazing!  Watching him interract with his dad after he finally "lived up" to his expectations was unbelievable.  Because of Nathan, I kept working at the camp, albeit in a different capacity, until it closed!

The second scout had a problem with his language.  After meeting Matthew's (his name for this story) parents, it was easy to see why ... but his cursing still caused a problem in the program.  Scout leaders assumed he was a "bad apple," other scouts would shy away from him, and I even talked to a few other parents who thought he should be expelled from the unit.  I could tell, though, that Matt had a real love for scouting, and he was truly passionate about archery.

On the first day of class, he dropped the F-bomb three times during my introductory welcome speech.  (I curse outside the program, but never around scouts.)  I reminded him that "a Scout is clean" in appearance, behavior, and language and told him to leave class.  He immediately cussed me out.  I told him he couldn't come back to the archery range until after lunch, but I'd be happy to help him catch up with class if he came during the later program.

You can probably tell that he wasn't happy.  Sure enough, though, he was the first scout waiting for me when I got back from lunch.  One-on-one instruction took only about 10 minutes (classes are regularly an hour, but for 15-30 scouts), and he left to go swimming.  The next morning he came to class and actually lasted halfway through it.  Then he was bit by a biting fly and screamed some very creative profanity at the insect.  Once again, I reminded him of the Scout Law and told him to come back later.

He was back not for afternoon program, but after dinner for the evening program.  This time he even apologized for his language before I helped him catch up with the class.

This continued again on Wednesday, and again on Thursday.  Oddly enough, he managed to keep pace with the rest of the class, and almost made it all the way through Thursday without swearing.  Friday came the big test, because there was no afternoon or evening program for catch up.  To my surprise, Matt made it all the way through class and finished his merit badge!

Later that afternoon we had special games.  Each unit came by the range and would shoot at various targets.  Their score was ranked against everyone else, and I would be announcing the winner Saturday morning.  Friday games also gave the adult leaders an opportuntiy to argue with me whether or not to sign of on their scouts' merit badges. 

When Matt's troop arrived, his adult leader made a bee-line to me and immediately started yelling at me in front of the entire group.  Two of his scouts had left on Monday because I wouldn't let them shoot immediately (in addition to qualifiying by score, you also have to make an arrow, a bow string, and explain the different forms of archery and the rules of competition).  It was sad, but he started swearing at me in front of his scouts ... until Matt interrupted him with the subtle phrase, "a Scout is clean, that means in what you say, too."

Here was a 12-year old boy who everyone had discounted as a lost cause, correcting one of the very people who had discounted him for behaving in exactly the same way.  EVERYONE was shocked, not just me.  The beauty of the story, though, isn't the irony behind this incident.  It's the fact that, two years later, Matt came back to camp ... as a junior leader in the unit.  He still swears from time to time (as do most of us), but he's turned his love for scouting into something constructive and inspiring.  Long story short, the adult leaders of the unit didn't expel him ... and I got a letter when he earned his Eagle rank a little while after that.

I've done a lot of things in my life that I'm not proud of, but there are even more things that I am proud of.  Making a difference in someone's life is the best thing I can ever aspire to do, and these are but two examples of when I've done just that.  If I were to die tomorrow, and people forgot these stories, I hope there would be many more to fill their places. 

Current Mood: accomplished
7:21 pm
Insult and argument
I love a good argument.  Going back and forth over an issue.  Whether you win or lose, it gives you the chance to reexamine your stance, see the holes, and patch them up.  It's a great exercise, particularly if both parties accept the fact that, in an argument, either party can lose, and "win" isn't always synonymous with "right."

When I argue, I interrupt a lot.  This isn't out of disrespect, it's because there are a lot of times where I get lost in your argument.  If I interrupt you, it's because I either don't see where your point is going, or I missed where it came from in the first place.  My interruptions are usually arguments in themselves, "you're making the same point," "I don't see how that even applies here," or something like "I already said that, how's this example different?"  It makes for a more lively back-and-forth when my arguing partner takes the same approach, and I usually invite it.  If you interrupt me, it usually means one of two things: 1) my argument makes zero sense at all, or 2) I'm not using concise enough terms to express myself (taking too long to get to the point).

Today, though, an argument completely failed.  My brother was recounting a time he was "caught" while "skipping school."  I was curious about the story, so I asked for more details.  Apparently, his English teacher gave extra credit points to students who donated literature books to the cash-strapped department.  He was failing English at the time, and asked his gym teacher for permission to leave campus and buy a few books.  This is something I always dreamed of getting away with, so I pushed further ... "What exactly did you say to your teacher?"

"I told him that I needed to go buy a book for class."

"Was buying the book really an assignment for class?"

"Insomuch as I would fail if I didn't buy the book, yes."

"I get that, but was it a required assignment for class?  Did your English teacher tell ..."

That's where the argument ended ... with an elipses on my end, and an interruption on his.  "Stop, you are so full of shit!"

(Back story, our Dad has a philiosophy of weighing needs versus wants in financial situations.  Neither I nor my brother have ever agreed to his argument because, unlike him, we feel the point of living is to obtain and satisfy wants, not just stopping to fulfill needs.)

He interrupted me with an insult, not an argument.  So I stopped the conversation.

"Oh, now you're going to get all mad at me because I said you were like Dad, huh?"

"No, that's not the point I was..."

"Yes it was, and you're full of shit!"

Once again, interrupted not by an argument but by an insult.  Rather than keep going, I turned to him and very calmly (when I turn from jovial in a "really, how'd you manage to skip school" conversation to cool and calm, there's a problem) told him to stop talking and not say another word until we got home.  We were in the car, and it was only a 10 minute drive, but they were ten very long, heated minutes.

As we pulled into the driveway, I explained that I don't mind interruptions, so long as their arguments.  But "you're full of shit" wasn't an argument, it was an insult and I didn't appreciate it.

"Do you understand why I'm upset?"

"No."

"You weren't making an argument, you interrupted me for no other reason but to insult me."

"Yeah, that was the point."

If I hadn't already parked, he would have been walking home at that point.  I'm lost as to why he would consider a straight ad hominem attack to be appropriate in an argument.  In larger scale conversations, I can see how desperation would drive one side or the other to start flinging insults, but our conversation was so much more trivial ... besides which, he was winning.

Needless to say, I'm now stuck with feelings of anger between my brother and me with no easy way to fix them.  It's frustrating, to say the least, and downright irritating to say a bit more.
Monday, June 30th, 2008
5:22 pm
It's been one of those days
Lately, I've been having a lot of "those days."  I know I should care, I really try to care, but in the end, I just don't give a fuck.  I really need to get out of this rut.

Current Mood: depressed
Monday, April 14th, 2008
11:18 am
Writer's Block: Dream Job
What's keeping you from your dream job?
 Absolutely nothing.
Friday, April 11th, 2008
2:25 pm
Writer's Block: *Lightbulb Goes Off*
What was the last great epiphany you had?
Nothing really matters unless you're happy.  Sure, you can have the hottest sportscar around, make millions of dollars a year, and travel abroad at the drop of a hat - but if you're not happy, it's all for nothing.
 
Wednesday, April 9th, 2008
11:10 am
Writer's Block: Such a Chore
Describe your different personas.
Cleaning the bathroom.  I live with my brother and he's not the cleanest person on the planet ... rubber gloves are my friend.
Friday, April 4th, 2008
10:26 am
Writer's Block: The Perfect Crime
What was the last thing you "got away with?"



My philiosophy in life is that if you look like you know where you're going or what you're doing, no one stops you to ask.  This has gotten me in a lot of trouble, but I've also seen things I never imagined.  I've toured the Nike world campus unescorted (and gotten lost in the process), walked through the administrative offices of several banks and hospitals without anyone asking for ID, and ended up in the back rooms of stores where they keep the cool things that are "sold out" on the main floor (no one ever really sells out of the Wii, by the way ...).

The last thing I got away with was a free tour of the Space Needle in Seattle.  It's a $16 ticket to ride an elevator and walk around with a bunch of other tourists.  Exciting day, huh?  Well, if you walk in the front door and pretend you have reservations in the restaurant they let you walk right in the elevator to the restaurant level.  The fun thing is that the same elevator goes all the way to the top - just don't get off when it stops for food.  That's $16 more you can spend at the overpriced cafe on the observation deck.

Now that I've given away my secret, though, that's probably the last free ride I'm going to get ... :-(

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
9:36 am
Writer's Block: A Little Recognition, Please?
What talent do you have that you wish more people would recognize?
 I'm an artist.

Unfortunately for me, I'm also very good at putting things in order and understanding patterns, so everyone assumes I'm only capable of logical thought and management.  I paint, I draw, I write, but few people ever take the time to know that because they assume that I'm like many other "logical thinkers" and putting on an act to be more than what I really am.

My photography has won awards.

My poetry has been published several times, in different languages.

My drawings and paintings have been featured in professional publications and illustrations.

The downside is that it has all be either anonymously or under a psuedonym because those who know me rarely give my work anything but a passing glance and an, "oh, that's nice, but I thought you were a numbers guy."  It's hard to put a lot of passion behind a work you know your friends will never look at, but I fear that's a reality for most artists as well.
Monday, March 24th, 2008
9:42 am
Writer's Block: Stolen Goods
What is the most valuable thing you've ever had stolen from you?
 A long time ago, some friends of mine and I got together and came up with some really creative event ideas.  One of my favorites was essentially a youth version of The Amazing Race that would take place in the wilderness of eastern Oregon.  At the time, though, we didn't even know The Amazing Race was on televsion, so it was a pretty creative and original idea.

We never did get the event off the ground.  See, I was a volunteer with the organization, as was my friend TD.  None of us really had time to take on a leadership role, so we drew straws and TK ended up taking the actual actionable position.  We all split up the responsibilities, but his was the signature that got things done.  We tried for over a year to get the event started - finding money, other volunteers, etc - because it was the kind of thing that would benefit ALL of us on our resumes and just with practical leadership experience.  We got refusal after refusal forwarded to us from Tk and finally, had to give up and move on.

Little did I know, none of those refusals were real.  They had all be approvals and votes of support but TK had edited them before forwarding the messages on to TD and myself.  About a month after TD and I left the project, the event was scheduled and had over 200 competitors from 3 states.  The competition was featured in several regional newspapers, and for "single-handedly" planning and exectuting the event, TK was given limitless grants for college and landed a very high-paying job immediately afterwards - all on the basis of the orginality of the idea and the work put forth to raise funds and solicit participation.

This idea was the brainchild of both TD and myself that we concocted on a camping trip near Mt. Hood.  We devoted a great deal of time and energy and had both the satisfaction of seing the event happen and the credit for designing it stolen right out from under us.  Ironically, neither of us even realized the event had taken place until 5 years after the fact when we were invited to the 5th anniversary celebration (someone found our email addresses in an old CC message from the first round of fundraising).

Oh well, where there was one great idea there are many more ... next time, though, I will make sure I draw the short straw ...
Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
4:01 pm
Secrets
Secrets piss me off. I really don't care how much money you make, how big your retirement fund is, where you bought your car, how old you are, or whether or not you like your job. The fact that you  think I care and spend so much effort making a big deal out of how confidential the information is just makes me mad.  What's the point?  Seriously?  I know you make more money than me, big deal!  Does the exact number make a difference?  

If I cared enough, all I'd have to do is spend 5 minutes figuring all of it out - it would take less effort for me to unearth your secret than you're expending covering it up.  So really now, why bother in the first place?

Ugh!

Current Mood: frustrated
Sunday, November 11th, 2007
7:56 pm
Riddles

Greetings to all my riddle-fiends. I am in the midst of a competition where I have to solve a very confusing and difficult riddle. If you would be so willing as to give me some tips, suggestions, or justified guesses to get me on the right track I would be in your debt!

Charged with maintaining peace and security, five permanent seats and ten temporary seats, Church House was first, what is the family name of the partner to where no man has gone before.

Just leave a comment with your idea and the reason behind it and I'll get back to you. Thanks in advance for any help. This is driving me crazy!

Friday, October 12th, 2007
8:16 am
Viva New York
So I'm sitting here in the apartment, watching the news and writing a blog post.  I have an informational interview with a marketing firm at 1, so I'm basically killing time before I have to hop on the subway and book it down town.  It's been fun to visit NY, but I'm not sure if I want to move here or not yet.

But for those of you who want to see photos, check out my other blog: http://unpublishedart.blogspot.com.  I'll be back in Oregon on Tuesday (the 16th), so check in after that. 

Current Mood: contemplative
Friday, September 21st, 2007
10:49 am
Smile; it makes your butt tingle.
I'm doing a little bit better, but I'm still frustrated with the jobless state I'm in.  I've decided to go visit Annie, though I have no idea how I'm going to pay for it yet.  Life is starting to look up a bit, unlike the crappy weather outside.  Why can't I ever be happy when it's nice outside? 

Current Mood: optimistic
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007
4:28 pm
On my friend Rin's recommendation, I'm trying to write a bit more. Here's a short story from her prompt that I just finished:

Title:

“Bread Run”

Word count:

444/300 words

Synopsis:

Your character goes to the grocery store, and on the way there meets someone/thing unexpected, which requests something that the character cannot give it. Hilarity ensues.

Story:

Two in the morning and I still couldn’t get to sleep. I sat up slightly and tried plumping my pillow for the hundredth time. It looked so plush, so much like a big, white, Hot Pocket. No wonder I can’t sleep, I thought to myself as I sat all the way up and swung my legs over the side of the bed. I forgot to eat dinner!

I slipped on my slippers and made my way groggily to the kitchen. I wasn’t asleep, but I wasn’t awake yet, either. I flicked the light on in the kitchen and clenched my eyes shut against the insanely bright light. I walked over to the counter, now more awake than I had been while tossing and turning in bed, and pulled down the peanut butter. I had fresh jelly in the fridge and managed to get it out while simultaneously pulling a knife from the silverware drawer. I opened the breadbox to take out some slices to make my soon-to-be midnight sandwich.

I was out of bread.

I left everything on the counter and walked to the front door. The grocery store is open 24-hours a day, so I threw on a robe and walked out into the night. It’s a little shop down the street on the corner, about two blocks away. I’ve made midnight food runs before; apparently forgetting to eat is a habit of mine.

About halfway down the driveway I was stopped by a dog. It looked half-shaved and I could see his ribs.

“Gimme a sandwich,” the dog said, baring his teeth.

“There’s no way you just talked, I’m not that crazy”

“Gimme a sandwich,” he repeated, standing now and blocking my way down the driveway. The effort to stand was so much he wet himself and fell down again in the puddle.

“I would if I had bread,” I responded, imagining a stranger would have me committed if he saw this.

“Then take some out and gimme a sandwich”

“You don’t understand,” I started, trying to take a step towards the street at the same time.

Just then, the dog lunged at me. I was caught off guard, he could barely stand a moment ago and now he was flying towards my throat, screaming “SANDWICH!!!” at the top of his lungs.

I fell backwards and suddenly everything was dark. It was probably because I was lying on the floor in my bedroom. I reached to pull myself up on the nightstand and knocked a plate to the floor. I stood up, then bent over to retrieve my plate … and the half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich it had been holding.



Current Mood: creative
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