OMG Ken Jennings Rocks

Not because he’s won over one million dollars on Jeopardy. Not because he’s the longest-running champ in the history of the program. Not because he’s a Mormon.

Ken Jennings rocks because his good luck charm is Totoro.

Just like the one dangling in the Kia.

Ken Jennings, you rule.

These Are The Times To Remember

In contrast to last night’s marathon theological websurfing, this evening I took a two-and-a-half hour nap in the recliner. So, not much to report there.

Oh, I was looking through one of my handwritten journals from 1997 last night, and found a printout from the old scale at the Woodland Small in BG. In November of 1997, I weighed 197 pounds. The scale said I was 35 pounds overweight, which I still think is a crock, considering my height and build. But, yeah, in another five pounds or so, I’ll be at my seven-years-ago weight. (Good lord; I gained fifty pounds in seven years! That’s disgusting.)

It’s interesting reading my old journals. The really interesting ones are still at home in Parma (I hope), from high school and middle school and even elementary school. Chronicles of my tonsillectomy, the Challenger disaster, my crush on my 40-something middle school choir director, my annual February depression, joining high school band, getting college rejection letters, and everything in between. I was a seriously depressed kid; in today’s terms, I might have even been put on medication (if my Mom had realized how depressed I was, that is. Either I hid it from her well, or she was completely in denial).

Is there a way to archive this LiveJournal stuff off of their server? Not that I want to jinx LJ, but I’ve never been comfortable having something important on a remote server without a backup. If I’m going to put my journaling online instead of in an actual journal (which I’ve found is much more fun, and just as cathartic, if a bit more topically restrictive), I want to have the option of backing it up without printing the whole damn thing out or just saving the HTML.

My stepdad, Tom, used to tell Mom that his journal was always open to her to read. She didn’t feel the same about hers, and I think he respected her privacy in that. She just couldn’t grasp the concept of having a non-private journal—to her (and to me, until recently), a journal was a place where you wrote things you couldn’t tell anyone. Both of us were at our most prolific journaling when we were miserable, which is kind of unfortunate in retrospect. Makes it seem like our lives were simply unbearable, when in fact it was only certain stretches that were bad. The happy moments didn’t always get chronicled, and the “normal” moment virtually never did.

That’s one reason why I’ve been trying to write in my LJ fairly often, even if it’s about nothing interesting: just to remind myself later what it was like to be “normal” in my late 20’s. Once we have kids, Aaron and I, our lives are going to change forever—or for a sufficiently long time, anyway—and it’ll be interesting to go back and remember what it was like to have lazy evenings sleeping in the recliner. 🙂

edit: Oh, I figured out how to export my LJ as XML. I had to do it by month, but that’s just as well, since that’s how I would have wanted to do it, anyway. So, I now have backups of my entries, even though they don’t seem to have paragraph or line breaks. D’oh!

On My Divergence From Mormonism

Interesting evening I’ve spent here at my computer. I started out normally, checking out my daily blogroll, and decided to check out Jason’s xanga (even though I’d stated that I’d make myself scarce, due to his politically- and religiously-charged commentary). While I’d intended to read it and pretend I hadn’t, I ended up responding to his response, and even blew the dust off of my old King James Version to refute some of his points.

It was not precisely a revelation to me to discover that all the scripture I’d had in mind was from the Book of Mormon, not the bible. Since informally leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I’ve discovered that much of their dogma is in fact from the Book of Mormon (supposedly translated from ancient American writings unearthed in 1830’s New York) and the Doctrine and Covenants (writings and revelations of Joseph Smith and other early church leaders), not from the bible itself.

My divergence from the Church has been a long, slow process. I’ve revisited this several times in the past years. As a youth, I never had the burning realization that the Church was true, although it wasn’t for lack of trying. I went to Church every Sunday, went to Young Women’s meetings every Wednesday night, went to Girls’ Camp every summer, sang in the choir, prayed daily, read the scriptures, and did all the other things the Church Leaders told us we should do. My Mom and Tom (stepdad #1) even got married in the Washington D.C. temple and were sealed “for Time and all Eternity,” in an exclusive temple ceremony which I was too young to attend at age 12, and during which I sliced wedding-cake strawberries in the temple parking lot with Sister Baker.

It wasn’t until Mom and Tom got divorced two years later that I started to doubt the Church. Being that they’d been married and “sealed” in the temple, the Church would still consider them married even if Mom managed to get a legal divorce. Assuming Mom still believed the principles of the Gospel (which she did at the time), that would mean that she would have to spend Eternity with Tom as her husband after she finally died. She wasn’t into that, so she arranged to be excommunicated, which wasn’t difficult. Once she found herself another lover, she simply went to Church, sat down with the Bishop (pastor, father, what-have-you) in his office, and admitted that she had committed adultery after leaving Tom. No problem, here’s your pink slip, don’t let the chapel doors hit you in the ass on your way out.

Free and clear of any eternal commitments. Amen!

Of course, during all these theological shenanigans, I was still attending church and early-morning seminary (bible study classes at 5am before school). Being that Mom didn’t have her driver’s license yet, I was getting rides from my Aunt Sammie. She had asked to be excommunicated in the 1970’s, I think, or the early 80’s, and hadn’t yet returned to the Church at this point—she just gave me rides to and from. Once my older friends started getting their driver’s licenses, they started giving me rides to church and seminary—and this is where I realized I had started to really fall away.

One morning, I either overslept or just decided I wasn’t going to church. I don’t recall how it happened, and I don’t remember who was supposed to give me a ride or how I cancelled said ride. At any rate, I slept in until about 10:30 or so (which was absolutely luxurious for a Sunday, considering that church started at 9am and ended at noon). I had just gotten up and thrown on clothes when there was a knock at the door. Mom answered it, to find my friend Michelle standing there in her church dress. She had noticed I wasn’t at church, and skipped the Sunday School portion of the morning to drive across town to my apartment. She told me she came to see if I was OK and to bring me to the last meeting of the morning, and encouraged me to throw on any old dress and jump in the car. Even though she had been so selfless and had come to help, I made up some lame excuse about how I’d already missed two thirds of the meetings, and the actual worship service (Sacrament Meeting) was first, and entreated her to go back without me so she wouldn’t miss the last meeting of the day.

She didn’t go out of her way to help me after that, and I started skipping church more and more often. By my Senior year in high school, as I recall, I went to church about as much as I went to class in college.

Speaking of… once I got to college, that was when things really began to unravel. Again, not for lack of trying. My first semester at BGSU, I looked up the church and arranged for a ride with one of the English professors who happened to be Mormon. Sang with her in the choir, went with her to area conferences… and began my discovery that church is more of a social institution than a religious one. Being that there were so many college students at the Bowling Green Ward, they had a separate Young Adult Sunday School. This after I’d just been so glad to have graduated from the 12-to-17 age bracket, and gotten to attend real, grown-up Sunday School for a few months. I knew very few people in the BG Ward, and most of the ones I got to know seemed almost plastic to me. I’d grown up with my old congregation; I couldn’t identify with these people, no matter what their beliefs. I stopped going to church in BG sometime during the Spring semester.

I didn’t give my religion much thought for another year or so, when I started dating Aaron. I knew my morals and my basic principles hadn’t changed; I was still a virgin at age 19, and was particularly proud of the fact. Aaron had heard about Mormonism in one of his classes at St. John’s High School, so I got to answer a lot of odd questions about “Joe Smith’s magic glasses” and magic underwear (especially after this aired on 60 Minutes), and only much later did I get questions about polygamy. He was quite a trooper, too, and dated me for a year an a half before I finally decided to, um, submit to my carnal desires.

Before that, though, I met Amy.

Rooming with Amy was one of my two major influences away from Mormonism (and Christianity in general), with the other being Sociology 101. Soc taught me how much of religion is a societal structure, and how some religions were developed specifically by ancient governments in order to keep people in check—or, rather, to make them happy with their lot in life, so as to avoid a revolt. That really got me thinking, and long discussions with Amy fueled the fire. I watched Amy turn from agnostic to atheist in the four years we roomed together (or, at least, she began to admit her atheism more freely over time). I don’t remember the exact subjects we discussed over the years, but I remember how it made me feel; looking back on what I had once believed to be unshakeable truth, I felt I’d been brainwashed. It all sounded so ridiculous to me.

I still know it inside and out, though. I can still tell you all about the three levels of Heaven, or about the planet God lives on, or about Joseph Smith’s First Vision (how it’s taught to modern Church-goers, anyway), or I can sing you one of several dozen exclusively Mormon hymns still buried in my head somewhere, or I can tell you about baptism for the dead, or tell you some Book of Mormon stories.

A couple years ago, I actually picked up Volume I of the Book of Mormon Stories VHS set at Goodwill. I made Aaron watch it, too—actually, he was kind of curious. And he was flabbergasted when the climax of the story came about, too. To capitulate: Nephi and his dad and brothers are about to split Jerusalem, but they have to get the record of their family (inscribed on a set of brass plates) from this evil dude named Laban, who owns them. So, Nephi is scared shitless, but he knows he has to come up with something. And, lucky Nephi—when he walks up to Laban’s house, guess who is shitfaced drunk? Yup. Now, in the words of 1 Nephi, Chapter 4:

10. And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.

11. And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.

18. Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.

At which point Aaron says, “What?!” Having assumed, of course, that it was only a test, and that God wouldn’t ask Nephi to kill the drunk dude, then put on his clothes and pretend to be him to get the brass plates from his servant. Heh.

When I was involved in the Church, they called the stuff presented in the following links “anti-Mormon,” and they told us to stay away from it. Now I see why. Want to check out some fucked-up religion? This is what I’ve been checking out all evening:

I think that’s the longest LJ entry I’ve ever written. I’m going to bed now. Whew.

My Banjo Is Wet.

snicked from Dan‘s sister Elizabeth:

You are Kermit the Frog.
You are reliable, responsible and caring.  And you
have a habit of waving your arms about

“Hi ho!” “Yaaay!” and
“How Green Was My Mother”

“Surfin’ the Webfoot: A Frog’s Guide to the

Sitting in the swamp playing banjo.

“Hmm, my banjo is wet.”

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Superfast Photofinishing

Hot. Tired. Kitty on lap. Don’t really feel like posting. Going to anyway.

Got my sunset and fireworks and kitty action pictures back from Dale Labs today in a record five days. Mailed them off last Wednesday, received them today (Monday). Most impressive. The turnaround, that is, not the images. Those are just ehh, IMO. Hang on—I’ll scan a couple for ya.

*runs upstairs to pick out a few good pics*
*cleans up rainwater on floor inside open front door*
*grabs pics, scans on Aaron’s computer*

OK, then. We’ve got a couple decent fireworks photos, a couple cute pics of Mei, sunset down Ventura Drive, and a couple pics off of an old roll of Aaron’s from last year.

So, I might send off my two rolls of Wildwood pics tonight or tomorrow, and see when I get those back. That was some crazy fast turnaround time. And good prints, too. I think I’ve finally found a photofinisher-by-mail that won’t screw me over.

Field Trip

This evening, I took my camera, telephoto lens and new teleconverter, and three rolls of film to Wildwood Metropark. I burned through two of the three rolls between about 6:45pm and 8:00pm—by then, I’d lost so much light that it was time to go home. I didn’t get to use the teleconverter because the 7pm light was already too faint. I wonder how practical it’s really going to be.

My original intention had been to photograph bikers and bladers; however, there weren’t very many out tonight, and I’m just not patient enough to sit on a picnic table and wait for people to pass by while I’m losing light by minutes. So, I ended up taking lots of pictures of flowers and bumblebees and architecture and trees and just a few of bikers and bladers. Two rolls’ worth… hopefully something good will come out of it.

If nothing else, I plan to do this every week just to get my reflexes sharper and get my eye for composition trained a little better. I missed just as many photos as I took today, mainly from not getting my camera focused in time. I lost a perfectly good shot of a male cardinal, simply because I turned my focus to closer instead of farther, and didn’t manage to fix my error before he flew away. There were a few that I missed simply because I didn’t have the right lens with me—I’d planned to take long-distance action shots, and purposefully left the normal and wide-angle lenses at home.

One thing I’d forgotten about photographing in a normal public place (as opposed to a festival): it’s fun to see something that no one else sees, in a pattern or a shadow or a particular form, and have people try to see what you’re taking a picture of. Nope, there’s not a bird up in that tree; I think the gnarled tree is cool all by itself. But keep gawking, and maybe I’ll take a picture of your goofy ass. Heh.

Almost-normal-sized clothes again…

You know, self-portaiture isn’t quite as easy as it might seem, especially without a professional portraiture setup. In other words, finding an appropriate spot to set the digital-camera-on-a-timer in my house is a challenge. But I wanted to share my small joy with you, so… ph34r my new tank top. Rah.

To celebrate my return to this-is-how-fat- I-used-to-be- before-I-got-sloppy, I scrounged up a few pics of myself over the past 10 months or so and made a weight-loss montage. I didn’t seek out too many pictures, and I didn’t scan anything; it was just what I had already on the computer for whatever reason. But I think it gets the point across. And not only do you get to watch my double-chin melt away through the photos, you also get to watch my hair grow. 🙂

Aaaaaand I’m done.

Random thoughts

Even though I marched two parades over the weekend, I’m still not sure how that, combined with eating three pieces of pizza, made me lose almost three pounds this week. ::shrug::

It’s goddamned hot tonight. I’m even wearing one of my new tank tops from Fashion Bug (yay, $9.99 shirts!), and sitting in the basement, and I’m still sweltering. Yeesh. Aaron’s gotta be having a fun time at work tonight.

I didn’t have a whole lot I wanted to accomplish today, which is good, since I took another 90-minute nap this evening. —Oh, but I did want to boil some eggs. Hang on… I’ll be right back.

*pauses Winamp, runs upstairs and puts eggs on to boil, sets timer*
*waters plants and takes ailing begonia upstairs to better window*

OK, I’m back. Damn, our stove is boil-a-rific. I’m not used to electric yet; this thing gets water boiling in, like, three minutes. Crazy. Must be one of those stoves Emeril talks about when he tells you to use your knobs.

Saturday night up in Michigan was actually quite a good time, watching drum corps videos and DVDs on a projection screen in Russ’s garage in Clawson. Been a long, long time since I attended a drum corps party. This weekend, though, I’m planning to take a weekend off from corps instead of going up to the show in Kalamazoo. I’ve had enough of driving to Michigan for corps for a while. On August 7, I have to go up and carpool to Grand Haven for the Coast Guard parade and performance, stay up there overnight, and drive back on Sunday. I may take a personal day on that Monday, just so I feel like I’ve had a weekend. And before that, there’s the Bluecoats’ home show in Massillon (Canton). Since I’m skipping out on K-Zoo, I’m definitely going to that one, even though it’s two hours away on a Sunday night. Hopefully I’ll be able to get someone to go with me.

In other news, I have the last week of this month off. Yay, vacation! Aaron has it off, too, and the following week, as well. We still haven’t figured out where we’re going, although the consensus is that we want to use the tent we got for our wedding (and, no, we’re not doing a backyard campout). Bring the lawn chairs-in-a-bag, the picnic basket (maybe), do some hiking, maybe some swimming… not sure where yet, though. Should be fun, anyway. I’m ready for a week off.

Hmm. Better go check on those eggs.

July 4th Drumcorps Fever

Aaron reported that while I was at work today, Paul from my senior corps called and wanted to know if I could give him a ride to the parade tomorrow morning. I had been going to double-check the timeframe, anyway, so I looked at the Lakeshoremen schedule to see when the parade started and when the brass line was meeting to warm up.

OMG. I have to leave the house at 6:15am.

Arrive at Paul’s house at 7:30am; arrive at the carpool location at 7:45am, warm up at 8am, parade starts at 9am. Lunch at Russ and Barb’s house (the aforementioned carpool location) after the parade… and the party will continue into the evening and night, as those of us from faraway lands (Toledo and northern-mid-Michigan) prepare to stay the night at the Braman household.

For Sunday morning’s parade begins at sunrise.

Well, OK, sunrise is at 6:03am (according to the Weather Channel) and warmups start at 6:30am, so I guess it’s not really at sunrise. We’ll have to be up and ready to head off to the parade staging area in Plymouth before that, though. Of course, this is all assuming that it doesn’t rain on our parade—literally.

I think it might be different if the Toledo Glassmen had a senior corps being funded out of their organization; then I could do parades in, say, Maumee or Toledo or Perrysburg or BG, or even Lima or Wauseon wouldn’t be horrible. I enjoy being in the corps and marching again, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I don’t enjoy trading off for the only potential quality time I have with my husband in order to do it.

Maybe once we field a show and the returns feel more “worth it,” it’ll even out. Maybe fielding a show will push me over the edge and make me not want to do it anymore—after all, most “real” DCA (Drum Corps Associates; senior corps) shows are in New England. That’s a bit of a haul for everybody, not just Yours Truly.

Anywho, I’m going to go play some Civ III and wait for Paul to return my confirmation I’m-giving-you-a-ride call. —Er, check that. Just got a 30-second call from Paul. I guess he’s going to leave his wife the car so she can attend the post-parade party for a while, too. I wonder if that means he’ll a.) be going home with his wife, or b.) be staying the night at the Bramans’ with us out-of-towners. I guess we’ll see…

I’m still gonna go play some Civ III, though. 😛