Jeff's online journal, ramblings, whatever.

Archive for February, 2007

What is “an awesome blog?”

Can you beat Ken Jennings?

Although I probably get less than 0.001% of the visitors this site gets, I thought I’d mention to the few readers out there the existence of the personal blog of Ken Jennings, the 74-game Jeopardy! winner, who is really just a Mormon guy from Utah with a wry, intelligent sense of humor (and isn’t afraid to label a lot of Deseret Book products as priestcraft, or use the word “ass”). I find it quite a fun read, and not just for the posts about crossword puzzle competitions or giant styrofoam heads from the Days of ’47 parade.

To steal a quote, for an example of his prose: “How would the civil rights movement have been different if Rosa had been riding the Wienermobile home from work on that fateful day? We may never know.”

And I want a copy of that game.


The meaning of Tarantella

Rain on a Window

This poem (see previous post) is a song we’re singing in Men’s Chorus this semester, and one day we had a talk in class about what it means. The poem itself is a bit ambiguous, but my personal interpretation goes thusly:

The protagonist, a young man travelling in Europe, comes across a small youth hostal high in the Pyrenees where he decides to spend the night. It’s a pretty horrible dive; it’s noisy, crowded, there are fleas in the beds, the wine tastes like tar, and generally if a health inspector came along the place would be shut down instantly. And yet, with its scenic location and such it has a sort of rustic charm about it, a romantic spirit that is as wild as the mountains around it.

That night, at the inn, there is a wild Spanish fiesta. Many muleteers looking for fun have stopped by the inn, and and it seems a few girls are around as well. The dance begins with the accompaniment of a Spanish guitar, and as the night goes on it gets wilder and wilder, as the Tarantella dance is wont to do. At some point during this dance this young man meets the lovely, beautiful, and fair Miranda, who twirls and swirls on the dance floor, spinning out an in to the beat of the clapper, and generally being a coquettish Spanish maiden, with fire in her eyes and a wild mane of raven hair. She endures many cheers and jeers from the muleteers, but in the end she dances with our protagonist, beginning the most wonderful romantic night of his life, which ends in a straw bed infested with fleas, but neither of the two care.

Miranda becomes this man’s life. Everything he does daily he does for her. He doesn’t breathe air and eat food, he breathes and eats Miranda. They have a romantic relationship for a while, possibly even marrying. However, the years pass and soon the wild Miranda yearns for something more than the steady life that our man can provide her. She grows discontented with their relationship, and eventually, she leaves him.

Distraught, disconcerted, and desperate, the despondent man doesn’t know what to do, for the very purpose of his life is now gone; the very reason for his existence is out of his reach forever. Eventually, he begins travelling again, hoping that that spark of life he found once would somehow reignite, but no matter where he goes and what he sees, he can never capture the magic of that one night. In the end, he finds his way back to the inn in the Pyrenees, and in his mind’s eye he can see the events of that magical night.

“Do you remember an inn, Miranda?” Do you remember all those wonderful experiences we had here? Do you remember the fleas, the muleteers, the horrible wine, but none of that mattered because we had each other. “DO YOU REMEMBER AN INN?!?” he shouts. But nobody is there. Miranda is gone. The inn was abandoned long ago, and now is a hollow, burnt-out shell. The cheery image from his mind’s eye fades into the dark, harsh reality, and he finally realizes that she will never come back. It’s too late. He’s a much older man now. He had one shot at happiness, and it failed.

Outside the inn, there is a river that flows, the Aragon river. Not far away, a waterfall cascades down a mountain face. The old man stands in the middle of the river near the waterfall, the water swishing about his ankles. As he contemplates his lot, it begins to rain, then pour. The raindrops mingle with his own tears, and it seems to him that the entire world is weeping for his past life, his lost chances, his youthful exuberance swallowed up by the ravages of time. He stands, arms outstretched. On another level he is aware of the rain, the river, the boom of the waterfall, but it is all very far from where his mind is. There are no other sounds.

Then he falls. . .



Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the spreading
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of the tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteeers
Who hadn’t got a penny,
And who weren’t paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the Din?
And the Hip! Hop! Hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the twirl and the swirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of a clapper to the spin
Out and in —
And the Ting, Tong, Tang, of the Guitar.
Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?

Never more;
Never more.
Only the high peaks hoar:
And Aragon a torrent at the door.
No sound
In the walls of the Halls where falls
The tread
Of the feet of the dead to the ground
No sound:
But the boom
Of the far Waterfall like Doom.

— Hilaire Belloc

Protected: The passing of Wallace Krit Petty

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Black Noodle Day

 Black Noodles

This year I believe I will celebrate Black Noodle Day. This Korean tradition was made known to me by my brother-in-law (who served his mission in Korea) about a year ago. He explained that, in Korea, on Valentine’s Day, girls give gifts of chocolate to guys. Then, sometime later, on a day known as “White Day,” the men who received chocolate give gifts back to
the women. Finally, sometime after that, on “Black Day,” all the people who didn’t give or receive anything on Valentine’s Day or White Day get together, eat black noodles, and complain about their singleness.

My immediate response to this bit of information? “I have days like that all the time. I call them ‘weekends.'”

Nigerians, Mormons, and Wisconsin.

For fun I thought I’d post a quiz that I made up on my mission. The other companionship in our district at the time, Elder Reese and Elder Roberts, had been teaching an apartment of Nigerians and Ghanans for a while and needed something fun, yet missionary-like to do for a Family Home Evening they were going to hold. So, we came up with this quiz about basic tenets of the gospel. Remember, this is a real quiz we used in pursuit of teaching the gospel, so it isn’t as tongue-in-cheek as I might have made it otherwise, but it’s still kind of a fun read. Enjoy!

1. When married in the temple, how long can a family be together?
A)2 years
B)3 years
C)250 years

2. Fill in the blank: The prophet ______ Smith

3. Which one of these is not allowed by the Word of Wisdom?

4. What do you do during a fast?
A)go without food & drink for two meals, and pray
B)do everything quickly
C)pray straight on your knees for 24 hours
D)hunt the grass-cutter
E)go to Wisconsin

5. What is God’s purpose?
A)watch humans kill each other
B)bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man
C)condemn everyone who isn’t perfect
D)play ping-pong
E)visit Wisconsin

6. What is the name of the living prophet today?
A)Joseph Smith
B)George W. Bush
C)Earl A. Showerhammer
D)Gordon B. Hinckley
E)Brigham R. Wisconsin

7. In what part of the world did Jesus Christ live?
D)In our hearts

8. How do you become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ?
A)coming to church every week
B)Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost
C)Reading the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price
D)flour, water, soup, a grass-cutter
E)Minnesota, Wisconsin, fish

9. Who gave Joseph Smith the Aaronic priesthood?

A)John the Baptist
B)John the Baker
C)John the Apostle
D)Johnny Smith
E)John A. Wisconsin

10. How much of your money do you pay as tithing?


11. Which two of these are NOT missions of the church?
A)Redeeming the Dead
B)Perfecting the Saints
C)Memorizing the Bible
D)Proclaiming the Gospel
E)Eating Wisconsin Cheese

12. How does the Spirit speak to us?
A)a still, small voice to our heart that speaks peace
B)makes us shake and tremble and shout, “Hallelujiah!”
C)a scary feeling that makes us fear and doubt
D)The Spirit doesn’t speak anymore, not since Bible times
E)tells us to move to Wisconsin

13. Which of these does the law of chastity NOT prohibit?
A)reading pornographic magazines
B)living with a woman you are not married or related to
C)getting married by the government
D)thinking immoral thoughts
E)going to Wisconsin and having an affair there

14. Which state of the United States is closest to Lake Michigan?
B)New York

15. Which three of these are the members of the Godhead?
A)God the Father
B)Jesus Christ
C)The Holy Ghost
D)Joseph Smith
E)Bob from Wisconsin

16. Jesus helped us overcome which two things?

A)Chicken pox and strep throat
B)Tithing and fasting
C)Spiritual death and physical death
D)Having to exercise and booty shakin’
E)Moving to Wisconsin and eating their cheese

17. God teaches his children(us) by calling whom?

A)Al Green
B)Frank Sinatra
D)Elder Roberts
E)Jimmy from Wisconsin

18. Prophets teach us in which two books?
A)Tips for Dog Grooming
B)The Bible
C)Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham”
D)The Book of Mormon
E)Road Maps of Wisconsin

19. Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet by whom?

A)The angel Moroni
B)God & Jesus Christ
C)Gordon B. Hinckley
D)The Holy Ghost
E)The governor of Wisconsin

20. Jesus Christ formed how many churches?
A)One church
B)Two churches
C)Millions of churches
D)No churches
E)7 1/2 churches in Wisconsin

21. Where does the spirit go after death?
B)The spirit world
C)Stops existing
D)Gets reincarnated into a moth

22. What is the only name by which we can be saved?
A)God the Father
B)Jesus Christ
C)The Virgin Mary
D)Joseph Smith
E)Jesse Ventura, governor of a state near Wisconsin

23. Which two of these are NOT part of the 10 commandments?
A)Thou shalt not steal
B)Thou shalt not commit adultery
C)Thou shalt not flirt
D)Thou shalt not kill
E)Thou shalt not go to Wisconsin

24. Who gave Joseph Smith the Melchizedek priesthood?

A)Peter, James, John
B)Peter, Paul, Mary
C)John, Paul, George, Ringo
D)Collins, Victor, Kofi
E)Billy, Darboe, Wisconsin Joe

25. Who was the Book of Mormon named after?
A)Michael Jordan
B)The prophet Mormon
C)The punk band “The Jack Mormons”
D)John Bytheway
E)Elder Faucette, from Wisconsin

Bonus True or False Questions:

T or F  There are members of our church in Africa.
T or F  There are African missionaries from our church.
T or F  A church that speaks Twi(native language of Ghana) is better
than the true church of Jesus Christ.