Pointy Sticks

Life of a Stick


  • Disney’s Art of Animation

    I’ve been reading a book: Disney’s Art of Animation. It covers the history of Disney from Oswald (the pre-Mickey Mouse rabbit) to Beauty and the Beast. Well, the entire last half of the book appears to be Beauty and the Beast. The first half is the rest.

    I wanted to put down some interesting things I found in the book.

    First, Walt Disney started with Oswald. He was a rabbit that looks a little bit like Mickey Mouse. He was a loved character, and Disney did not properly read the contract, and because of the publisher’s legal work, the publisher owned Oswald and all its success.

    Mickey Mouse was almost named Mortimer.

    Steamboat Willie is the most famous and what people think of as the “first” Disney cartoon. But the first was Plane Crazy, and was met with mediocre reception. Steamboat Willie was the first Disney cartoon with sound (but not the first cartoon with sound), and was not simple, clean, nor cheap to make.

    Art of Animation, Page 17, third paragraph.
    “Hench compares Mickey’s appeal to twelve-thousand year old fertility symbols that central European tribes carried with them. “They were small stone objects, but they were built on Mickey’s formula of hooking together a series of circles — in Mickey’s case, spheres — in a dynamic way. He expresses simple ideas: that life is dynamic, that it isn’t static. He has this remarkable way of recalling these feelings in people everywhere.”

    Pluto’s original name was Rover. His first appearance was a guard dog chasing an escaped Mickey Mouse. He was almost named either Pal or Homer the Hound.

    Goofy started life named Dippy Dawg. His first appearance was a laughing audience member.

    It was the mid 1930s when Disney discovered that animation has to be better than real life, after referencing film actors and having the animation appear lifeless.

    The biggest revelation to me about the history of Disney is that he WAS the father of animation (as is so often repeated). Not little cartoons, but feature length films. The business climate did not support such a vision, and it was against conservative logic to try to make an animated feature length film. You had to have a vision to create something that didn’t even exist yet and enough money to pull it off. And he nearly didn’t.

    Besides just 2D and even 3D CGI films, if it weren’t for Disney, the CG we’ve been using for live action films would likely be decades behind where we are now. The vision and drive of one can do so much.

    Disney made “Three Little Pigs,” and it was a success. Then the publishers kept asking for “more pigs.” They made Snow White and the publishers kept asking for “More Dwarves.” This is like Ford, inventor of the automobile said, where if he had asked people what they wanted they would have said “faster horses.” And explains the current state of the game industry.

    Jiminy Cricket was originally quickly crushed by Pinocchio. End character.

    After the success of Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi were all box office losses. Dumbo broke even, but it was designed to be super economical.

    Lady and the Tramp was a success. Sleepy Beauty was not. But by that point they had Disneyland, live action movies, and other adventures going on.

    101 Dalmations was the first film to use Xerox copiers to duplicate the dogs and save redrawing them so many times. So many dogs. So many.

    The Jungle Book was Walt Disney’s last film. He died one year before it was finished.

    Tim Burton was a concept artist for the Black Cauldran. Due to poor management and organization, none of his concepts were used, and the film was a disaster. Burton then left to direct his own films.

    I’ll read the last half about Beauty and the Beast later. Maybe it’ll warrant its own post.


  • Minecraft Server Logs

    I had a Minecraft server a while back called Minestick. It was a lot of fun, but eventually I ran out of time, and moved on to other adventures. I did, however, save a number of log snippets that I found humorous. Let me share them with you.

    Messages marked “Server” or “Console” were typed from the command console the dedicated server was running on. Hopefully you’re familiar enough with slash commands to know what’s going on with them.

     

    2010-11-25 08:46:13[INFO] [CONSOLE] When I get a proper blog up, I am going to write a treatise about the psychological impact on physical locomotion restrictions regarding Minecraft players and the spawn point.
    2010-11-25 08:46:21 [INFO] [CONSOLE] Until that time, live with /sethome and /home and trust me. It’s more fun.

     

    2010-12-03 06:43:55 [INFO] Command used by DaemonKrog /tell alacerfox are you server?
    2010-12-03 06:44:06[INFO] Command used by alacerfox /msg daemonkrog nope
    2010-12-03 06:44:35[INFO] Command used by DaemonKrog /tell alacerfox oh ok sorry
    2010-12-03 06:44:52[INFO] Command used by alacerfox /msg daemonkrog np been called worse

     

    2010-12-24 00:59:32[INFO] <googler> toad yells out DIAMONDS! but has no iron picks
    2010-12-24 00:59:49 [INFO]<googler> So Adam teleports to toad and takes his dimonds yelling LOLOLOLOLOLOOL
    2010-12-24 00:59:50 [INFO]<googler> hahahahahahahaha
    2010-12-24 00:59:52[INFO]<googler> HASHAHAHAHAH
    2010-12-24 01:00:09[INFO]<googler> So toad in his sadness looks around and yells again “MORE DIAMONDS”
    2010-12-24 01:00:23[INFO]<googler> So adam tp’s to toad again, but toad was standing over lava, so adam died

     

    [CONSOLE] I beat Minecraft once. The ending was neat.
    2011-01-07 14:38:19[INFO] <Serevet> The last block in Minecraft always beats me :(

     

    2011-01-14 05:41:27[INFO] Mitnighter [/xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:49293] logged in with entity id 1348717
    2011-01-14 05:41:30[INFO] [CONSOLE] AutoMsg: Saving. Please wait 10-50 seconds.
    2011-01-14 05:41:32[INFO] CONSOLE: Forcing save..
    2011-01-14 05:41:33[INFO] CONSOLE: Save complete.
    2011-01-14 05:41:33[INFO] [CONSOLE] AutoMsg: Temporary world until Sunday. Will not be grafted into the old world.
    2011-01-14 05:41:53[INFO] Mitnighter tried command: home
    2011-01-14 05:41:58[INFO] <Mitnighter> holy sit?
    2011-01-14 05:42:03[INFO] <Mitnighter>  *shit?
    2011-01-14 05:42:07[INFO] <Mitnighter>  where the hack
    2011-01-14 05:42:18[INFO] <Mitnighter>  is the old map?
    05:42:56[INFO] [CONSOLE] You literally logged in to see the message explaining the question you just asked.

     

    2011-01-28 01:47:20[INFO] [CONSOLE] AutoMsg: Restarting server in two minutes.
    2011-01-28 01:47:20[INFO] getYOUiWiLL tried command: sethome
    2011-01-28 01:47:22[INFO] [CONSOLE] AutoMsg: You can enter craft.minestick.com into the IP box to reconnect after restart.
    2011-01-28 01:47:23 [INFO] Aerospace tried command: panic

     

    2011-02-25 02:18:09[INFO] <SomeStayDry> I don’t even know how to computer :D
    2011-02-25 02:18:39[INFO] [CONSOLE] I computer.
    2011-02-25 02:18:46[INFO] [CONSOLE] I computer all the time.
    2011-02-25 02:18:52[INFO] [CONSOLE] I’m a pro computerer.
    2011-02-25 02:19:05[INFO] <SomeStayDry> i’ve only computered once…

     

    2011-03-09 20:17:34[INFO] <CousinNed> hey, if you need someone to OP, just know this. I am not interested
    2011-03-09 20:17:47[INFO] [CONSOLE] Thanks for the heads up, Ned.
    2011-03-09 20:17:57[INFO] [CONSOLE] You’re on my list.
    2011-03-09 20:18:00[INFO] [CONSOLE] But I won’t tell you what list.
    2011-03-09 20:18:04[INFO] <CousinNed> uh oh
    2011-03-09 20:18:06[INFO] <TOADnZACK> ooooooo
    2011-03-09 20:18:06[INFO] <jlshearer> LMAO
    2011-03-09 20:18:07[INFO] <Crock272> Hit list
    2011-03-09 20:18:09[INFO] <jlshearer> haha
    2011-03-09 20:18:16[INFO] <TOADnZACK> naughty list?;}
    2011-03-09 20:18:18 [INFO] <CousinNed> please be free pancake list
    2011-03-09 20:18:22[INFO] <TOADnZACK> lmao
    2011-03-09 20:18:32[INFO] <jlshearer> Yes, but the pancakes are made of DEATH

     

    02:51:48[INFO] <§fcomi999§f§f> He will say something when we least expect it.
    02:52:00[INFO] [CONSOLE] AutoMsg: Restarting server in two minutes.
    02:52:00[INFO] <§7NyanKitteh§f§f> he is such a troll
    02:52:02[INFO] [CONSOLE] AutoMsg: You can enter craft.minestick.com into the IP box to reconnect after restart.
    02:52:08[INFO] <§fcomi999§f§f> Lol.
    02:52:32[INFO] <§7NyanKitteh§f§f> Rofl

     

    03:58:02[INFO] <§7NyanKitteh§f§f> i am begining to suspect you aren’t a chicken
    03:58:30[INFO] <§fFitzChickens§f§f> The sky is falling?
    03:58:41[INFO] <§7NyanKitteh§f§f> bullshit

     

    18:18:19 [INFO] <Thatshot> gah! glowstone everywhere but just out of reach
    18:18:36 [INFO] <SomeStayDry> out of reach?
    18:18:41 [INFO] <SomeStayDry> this is minecraft boy
    18:18:54 [INFO] <Thomas_Jarvie> NOW STACK YOUR WAY UP
    18:19:00 [INFO] <Thatshot> D:
    18:19:02 [INFO] <Thomas_Jarvie> AND PUNCH THE **** OUT OF THAT GLOWSTONE
    18:19:07 [INFO] <SomeStayDry> damn right
    18:19:10 [INFO] <Thatshot> YES SIR
    18:19:14 [INFO] <squidmissile> xDDD
    18:19:23 [INFO] <Thatshot> aaannnnddd i died

     

    15:01:31[INFO] <jlshearer> he sees you when you’re sleeping
    15:01:37[INFO] <jlshearer> he knows when you’re awake
    15:01:47[INFO] <jlshearer> he knows when you’ve been bad or good
    15:01:56[INFO] <jlshearer> so be good or banhammer

     

    13:49:13[INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] wilfredal: /burn mastaonion 1
    13:49:18[INFO] <wilfredal> lol
    13:49:19[INFO] <Mastaonion> asdf
    13:49:27[INFO] <Mastaonion> was that a glitch?
    13:49:31[INFO] <wilfredal> Idk
    13:49:34[INFO] <Mastaonion> I just randomly caught fire!
    13:49:35[INFO] <Mastaonion> D:
    13:49:39[INFO] <alexanderb33> LOL
    13:49:39[INFO] <wilfredal> lol
    13:49:43[INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] wilfredal: /burn mastaonion 1
    13:49:45[INFO] <Mastaonion> asd
    13:49:50[INFO] <Mastaonion> I’M NOT CRAZY!
    13:49:56[INFO] [Server] Wilf.
    13:50:00[INFO] <wilfredal> ?
    13:50:07[INFO] [Server] Abuse of power is only funny when it’s not obvious.
    13:50:16[INFO] <wilfredal> Heh
    13:50:22[INFO] <alexanderb33> xD
    13:50:29[INFO] [Server] Wait for another mod to be on so you’re not the only one.
    13:50:33[INFO] [Server] And don’t do it repeatably.
    13:50:39[INFO] <wilfredal> You are giving me ideas >:)
    13:50:42[INFO] [Server] Or spy on them, and do it every time they step two tiles away from lava.
    13:50:50[INFO] <wilfredal> lol

     

    16:58:02 [INFO] <somethingsimple> whai u judge
    16:58:20 [INFO] [Server] Judge? I’ve got a whole jury over here shaking their heads at you.

     

    22:24:43[INFO] [Server] ‘Who’s’ is used for the contraction ‘who is.’ ‘Whose’ is used to denote ownership.
    22:25:07[INFO] somethingsimple lost connection: disconnect.endOfStream
    22:25:15[INFO] [Server] I grammared him off the internet.

     

    17:42:58 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] Akran03: /msg slackbray FU
    17:43:43 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] slackbray: /r lol
    17:43:50 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] Akran03: /r get a life
    17:44:01 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] slackbray: /r y
    17:44:02 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] Akran03: /r stop palying mc!!
    17:44:10 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] Akran03: /r lol
    17:44:32 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] slackbray: /r ajjjjjjjjfhdhfuekfhsjkdfhdjkghdsljkgheuhgdlgdvdfeyfdhsjfgwelufgeiuwgfhgdfsdjhfgjhsdgfsd
    17:44:44 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] Akran03: /r ./ban slackbray
    17:45:57 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] slackbray: /r /fuck you akran unknown command
    17:46:25 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] Akran03: /r / kill slackbray
    17:46:54 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] slackbray: /r ha jokes on you im already dead dogs killed me
    17:47:05 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] Akran03: /r told you
    17:47:32 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] slackbray: /r ha jokes on you again im not dead
    17:47:47 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] slackbray: /r bitch please fuck you
    17:48:12 [INFO] [PLAYER_COMMAND] Akran03: /r sorry i didnt know u knew how to speak dumass
    17:48:58 [INFO] <Akran03> so whats everyone doing
    17:49:12 [INFO] [Server] Watching a very interesting exchange in private messages. You?

     

    2012-04-18 09:48:56 [INFO] harveyhw [/xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:51069] logged in with entity id 940906 at (8.5, 97.0, 3.5)
    2012-04-18 09:49:17 [INFO] harveyhw tried command: ban harveyhw
    2012-04-18 09:49:27 [INFO] harveyhw lost connection: disconnect.quitting

     

    03:32:17 [INFO] <linn28> silly merlin
    03:32:26 [INFO] <linn28> you cant swin in lava!
    03:32:30 [INFO] <Merlin1> =O
    03:33:54 [INFO] [Server] I’ve just immunized you from lava, Merlin. Try again.
    03:34:03 [INFO] <Merlin1> ok good shit
    03:34:05 [INFO] <linn28> lucky!
    (Server cannot see death messages)
    03:34:20 [INFO] [Server] For the record, I am a terrible person.
    03:34:20 [INFO] <Merlin1> =O
    03:34:20 [INFO] <linn28> hahahahahahahah
    03:34:36 [INFO] <Merlin1> DID NOT SEE THAT COMING


  • Leave It Better Than You Found It

    Are you familiar with the phrase “leave a room better than you found it?”

    Growing up, I always thought this was some trick to get me to clean things up that weren’t my mess.

    As I got older, and more messes were definitely my own responsibility, I realized it was a lot easier to take two minutes to clean a little something as I go than it was to let it pile up and have to deal with a huge mess.

    But now I am old enough to see what this statement really means.

    Life is an abnormality. The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy in an isolated system is always increasing. If you put two colors of sand in a jar and shake the jar, the sand will only ever become more jumbled. You cannot organize sand by shaking it.

    However, if you put a human in the mix, they can organize the grains of sand and separate out the different colors.

    Life, during its span of existence, is capable of countering entropy. This is unnatural. This is against the laws of nature. This is our strength. This is our battle cry. This is how we prove to the universe that we exist.

    When you clean up your kitchen, you are imposing order on a system whose entire existence moves towards disorder. Vacuuming the carpet is rapidly organizing materials that expected their entire existence to be disorder and chaos. When you scrub your bathroom, you are breaking the rules of the universe.

    As living beings, we are capable of directed action. We can do things nothing else in this universe is capable of doing.

    When your mother says “leave it better than you found it,” she’s really telling you to prove that you’re alive. To leave a mark on the universe that is a scar against the natural order. To show defiance and spit in the face of chaos. She’s telling you to be a warrior.

    I knew there was a reason I enjoyed cleaning so much.


  • Always Move Forward

    A man I once knew moved across the country to start a new life. Things didn’t work out as well as he’d hoped, and after much heartache he decided to move back. He asked me my thoughts on such an action, and I made them clear:

    Always move forward. If you are running from your problems and escaping to the familiar, I cannot condone that. But if you are regrouping, gathering your strength, and traveling to familiar territory for your advantage in friends, family, and work, then by all means, move forward.

    Moving forward rather than running away means you get to face your problems and resolve them, rather than putting them in a the closet where they can fester and smell up the place. You move from your position to a position of strength, rather than to a position of weakness. And you can feel confident about your choices, instead of feeling guilty and shameful.

    Interestingly enough, many times the difference between moving forward and running away is your perspective. How you look at it.

    I recently heard of a talented friend who has decided to drop out of college and change careers. They’re very good at what they’re studying, but can’t find fulfillment in it. If they could learn to accept their skill instead of believe they don’t have talent, and if they could learn to manage stress, they would do just fine. But knowing the problem and actually being able to (or wanting to) solve it are two different beasts.

    Sometimes we do come across problems in life we simply cannot overcome immediately. Moving forward in these cases can involve a strategic retreat to a stronger position. Once we’re in a comfortable and stable position, without the stress and horror, we can then bandage our wounds, strengthen ourselves, and prepare to dive into the breach again.

    A withdrawl to gain strength is moving forward, as long as it’s viewed that way, and not as a retreat. Pushing forward against a wall when weakened will make you give, not the wall. Stepping back to get a running start can let you vault over it.

    And as before, the difference is all in how you perceive it. If you consider yourself a failure and a quitter, you’ll just feel sorry for yourself and fail to progress. If you realize you’re doing it for your benefit, there’s logical and good reasons, and you’re actively seeking happiness and good things for your life and others, then you will find those things.

    One thing’s for certain, though. If we’re not moving forward, then by elimination we’re stagnating or sliding backwards.


  • Server Upgrade

    I recently installed a new operating system on this server. For a long while it was running on FreeBSD. Unfortunately, many of the things I wanted to do didn’t run as well as I’d have liked them to do.

    The new server sports some additional security measures, which were quite fun to figure out how to work with. It’s also Linux-based, rather than BSD-based, which gives me better compatibility with the game servers I want to run.

    I think I’ve gotten most of the quirks worked out of this, but if anyone notices something not working that should, just let me know.


  • Story Lessons from a Hero

    I recently finished watching the TV series Heroes. I’ve always been a fan of superhuman abilities — flying, shapeshifting, super strength. Seeing a world and its stories with these concepts was interesting, especially since it had a “real world” touch on it.

    This blog post is specifically about what I learned about writing and story/character design from the series. Mostly because of the parts I didn’t like, and the parts that were downright painful to watch.

    First, the character’s motivations.

    Often times, the character’s goals and motivations were unclear. From what I can tell, they were trying to make the characters more “human.” The evil was done for good reasons, the good could do bad things. But most of the time it came off to me as characters being indecisive or flip-flopping.

    I previously wrote a blog post about How To Make Goals Work For You. The point of the post was to say that every action people make has a goal or reason behind it, whether the person making the choice is aware of what their goals are or not.

    In the real world, people’s goals flop. Often they don’t have a solid vision on what it is they want at all times. They fall prey to temptation, they change their mind on a whim. Not everyone is like that, but it’s something that happens in real life. It’s not something you see often in movies and stories — unless it’s specifically portrayed as such — because it’s confusing and makes it difficult to understand the person. I had trouble understanding a lot of the characters early on because their motivations weren’t explained and kept changing.

    To reiterate, the lesson here is simple. A character needs clear motivations and goals. We need to know what they’re fighting for. Their goal may even be to find a goal, or to stay with a goal they want. Without that, the story turns bland and lifeless.

    Deliberate missing goals? With secondary characters, the main bad guy, or if you’ve got a dozen main characters? Keeping a few a mystery is fun and interesting. Gives you more to reveal later. But it needs to be a deliberate choice, and it needs to be designed so it works.

    Second, goal depth.

    If someone has a goal they don’t want others to be aware of — they’re trying to hide their goal — they do an action that works with multiple goals in mind. You then need to see multiple actions of theirs in order to cross-reference what their actual goals are.

    Let’s say there are three levels of motivation/goals that a character may have: Surface, Underlying, and Secret.

    A surface goal is exactly what it appears to be — a very obvious goal. Someone is hungry, they go and buy a burger.

    An underlying goal is something that’s not so obvious. Someone is hungry, so they grab some peanuts to snack on. But they’re allergic to peanuts, so their underlying goal could be attention, suicide, or whatever else the writer thinks is interesting enough to write into the story.

    A secret goal is where you end up with twists in the story, as a secret goal is never properly revealed until it’s too late (or just in time, if it’s a happy ending).

    Third, communication and intelligence.

    Many parts of Heroes felt like the writers said, “this event needs to happen,” and then they threw a couple characters together to interact, and made sure they didn’t say just what needed to be said to resolve their conflict, and had them fight or separate on poor terms.

    It was downright painful to watch.

    A single sentence could have solved everything, but the character would say everything but what needed to be said.

    This problem plagues Walking Dead even more than it plagues Heroes. It makes perfect sense in Walking Dead — it’s dripping with emotion, and emotion can cloud logic and result in some bad choices. You’ve also got the aspect of children, or simply low intelligence players. But in Heroes people aren’t trying to survive in a hopeless situation, they’re being heroes. Most of them are educated, skilled adults that are failing to accomplish basic communication.

    That kind of thing may work for other people, but it’s idiocy to me, and ruins my enjoyment. It breaks the fourth wall as the motivations of the writers, rather than the characters, becomes visible.

    Lastly, revealing information to the viewer.

    While not specifically a lesson learned from Heroes, when dealing with characters and their underlying or secret goals, then what parts you show to the viewer, and when you show them, becomes very important in order to tell a good story.

    The writer’s goal, in my opinion, is to entertain two classes of people. Those that appreciate what’s visible immediately on the surface, and those that enjoy digging deeper.

    The surface goals are things you can’t avoid showing. They’re the ones that tell the story. But a pattern of surface goals can point to an underlying goal a character may have. Internal motivations that people can notice. Hints can even be sprinkled about to make it a little more obvious when it needs to be.

    And your friend who shouts, “I knew it!” when the twist happens, but you had no idea anything like that was going to happen? He’s the guy who enjoys solving puzzles. Believe it or not, you were watching two different movies.


  • Humorous Scriptures

    While reading the scriptures, I’ve occasionally come across verses that seem funny or odd. Sometimes in context, sometimes out of it, and sometimes just odd or poor word choices in translations. I’d like to share what I’ve collected so far. Being a Latter-day Saint, or Mormon, many of these versus will come from the Book of Mormon.

    They’re sorted by the order they appear, Bible first, then Book of Mormon. Bible translation is the Revised King James version, which is standard for the LDS church. Feel free to comment and add your own if you have some.

     

    The Camel brand cigarette is millennia old.

    Genesis 24:64

    And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.

     

    Moses, supposedly the meekest man on Earth, has several scriptures where he goes into a rage. Such as when the Israelites get tired of eating the miraculous manna they find outside their tents every morning, so they demand meat from God. He gave it to them, but with this stipulation.

    Numbers 11

    19 Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days;
    20 But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the Lord which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?

     

    A description of a murder. How a man died after having a nail driven through his temple. I think the record they were transcribing from started skipping.

    Judges 5:27

    At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead.

     

    The prophet Elisha does not take well to being mocked.

    2 Kings 2

    23 And he went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
    24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

     

    The proper treatment of the wicked: break their arms until they stop being wicked.

    Psalms 10:15

    Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.

     

    Proverb’s method of educating your children is to beat them until they’re smart.

    Proverbs 22:15

    Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

     

    History’s first recorded food fight.

    Zecharaih 5:1

    Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.

     

    The dangers of falling asleep during a religious lecture.

    Acts 20:9

    And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.

     

    The prophet Abinadi was driven out of a city for preaching. Later he comes back in disguise. A disguise doesn’t last long when you quote someone saying your name.

    Mosiah 12:1

    And it came to pass that after the space of two years that Abinadi came among them in disguise, that they knew him not, and began to prophesy among them, saying: Thus has the Lord commanded me, saying—Abinadi, go and prophesy unto this my people, for they have hardened their hearts against my words; they have repented not of their evil doings; therefore, I will visit them in my anger, yea, in my fierce anger will I visit them in their iniquities and abominations.

     

    Amulek and Alma converted a bunch of people. The prophets were then captured, and their converts were thrown into a big bonfire. I imagine Amulek’s voice in verse 12 resembled that of Eeyore.

    Alma 14:12

    Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also.

     

    True to politics, “a few particular points” can be translated as “all the points.”

    Alma 51

    2 Nevertheless, they did not long maintain an entire peace in the land, for there began to be a contention among the people concerning the chief judge Pahoran; for behold, there were a part of the people who desired that a few particular points of the law should be altered.
    5 And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called king-men, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a king over the land.

     

    Helaman lays siege to an enemy held city in order to steal incoming provisions.  The wording implies he takes some humor in this deception.

    Alma 57:10

    At length their provisions did arrive, and they were about to enter the city by night. And we, instead of being Lamanites, were Nephites; therefore, we did take them and their provisions.

     

    Being on fire is good for moral.

    Helaman 5:24

    And when they saw that they were encircled about with a pillar of fire, and that it burned them not, their hearts did take courage.

     

    Book of Mormon: The Musical.

    3 Nephi 4:31

    And it came to pass that they did break forth, all as one, in singing, and praising their God for the great thing which he had done for them, in preserving them from falling into the hands of their enemies.

     

    The Lamanites are the ancestors of the modern day American Indians. See also: Indian reservations.

    3 Nephi 6:3

    And they granted unto those robbers who had entered into a covenant to keep the peace of the land, who were desirous to remain Lamanites, lands, according to their numbers, that they might have, with their labors, wherewith to subsist upon; and thus they did establish peace in all the land.


  • Organizing Friends

    This will be a somewhat INTJ post. For those not familiar with the term, it basically means I’m going to say things that make perfect logical sense, but will make certain people’s hair stand on end as they think, “that’s horrible, you’re putting people into little boxes and labeling them! You can’t do that!” If you find that happening, feel free to step away from the computer, have some tea, and forget you ever read this post.

    While talking with a friend, he mentioned I knew how to pick friends, and asked where he ranked. And I found myself looking for a grading criteria for my friends. Some friends are better than others. They’re more entertaining, more useful, more funny, etc. But it’s a complex web. Friend Alpha might be beautiful and intelligent, but have the social skills of a skunk. Friend Beta might be horrid to the eye, but extremely intelligent and funny. Putting them into the traditional “high score” list, with a clean numerical scaling, doesn’t work well.

    So I examined my friends. And when I say friends, I mean the people that have had a large influence in my life, or who I try to talk to regularly. The following does not include acquaintances, heroes, and the like. What I found is that I have four major categories that I care about concerning friendship with others. These categories are as follows.

    1. Pleasant Company.

    The first category is non-technical. It’s a very personal truth that usually doesn’t apply to others. Stated simply, it’s the answer to the question, “Do I like to be around this person?”

    This category covers the funny, attractive, and entertaining areas of a person.

    Some people who fit into this category are:

    • A friend who cuts to the heart of issues with a single sentence. He’s very abrasive at times, but the raw honesty is extremely refreshing. He’s also almost always right.
    • A friend who does not impress me with intellect, social skills, or even looks. But is a really nice guy, and fun to hang around.

    2. Collaborative.

    I very much enjoy working. I like to get things accomplished, create, and inspire. Many of my friends were chosen, or gain additional value to me, as we can work together to accomplish some goal or another, combining our skills.

    Some examples of this include:

    • An old high school friend who came over one weekend to play games. We ended up working on and finishing a big website project that weekend.
    • A college friend who saw an opportunity to enhance products they were selling at a convention by having me use some of my tools that were lying around.

    3. Educational.

    One of my most valuable categories is being able to learn something from a friend. Not everyone fits into this category, as teaching is its own skill. First you need to know something well enough to be able to explain it. Then you need to have the skill to explain it clearly.

    However, those that freely teach and share what they know have great value to me. An example of this is:

    • A friend who taught me a significant portion of social analysis skills, to understand people, how they work, and what their goals are.

    4. Teachable.

    Lastly, I noticed that I had a few friends whose greatest value didn’t fit into any of the other categories. People who I’ve given advice and ideas to, who I’ve been able to watch grow and progress, but don’t really give much back.

    Not that it’s a lopsided friendship. I love teaching. I had considered becoming a teacher of some sort when I was growing up. And watching someone take what you’ve taught them and become better for it is amazing in itself.

    The experiences of the teachable people are more theirs than mine to share. I just did some talking, they did the actions.

     

    This system is by no means complete, current, or accurate. It might change in five years, I might have overlooked something major, and these are all my categories. This was more of a spur of the moment pairing that made a lot of sense, based on my own tastes.

    If it makes a lot of sense to you, try picking a few categories of things you find most important in a person. What attributes of your friends have made you the most happy, or had the most difference in your life? If you’re aware of these, it may be a lot easier to find people whose company you’d enjoy.


  • Be Paranoid, But Not Too Paranoid

    When I was young, my mother would give me a lot of advice that was quite normal. Don’t talk to strangers, don’t wander off alone, etc. She also gave me advice that was a little more extreme, but could still be considered within the bounds of normal, such as not telling anyone how much money you make. I also picked up other things form her, such as worrying about what random people I don’t know might think of me if I do certain actions or say certain things.

    In short, I was raised to be paranoid.

    I want to be clear what paranoia is. Paranoia is an action. It inspires you to do things. Fear is the opposite emotion. Fear stops you from acting. If you’re fearful of a building, you don’t go into it. If you’re paranoid of a building, you don’t go into it without a bulletproof vest, rubber soled shoes, and informing your next of kin.

    I like to think of paranoia in the same terms as absolute zero. As far as science can tell, there is no (yet known) maximum temperature, but the minimum temperature is currently believed to be 0 Kelvin (about -460 Fahrenheit, and -270 Celcius). The same applies for paranoia, with carelessness on the absolute low end of the scale.

    The scale of paranoia looks like this to me:

    Extreme paranoia  <-----------|-----------o  Complete Carelessness
                              Caution

    The guy who goes to the store and leaves his engine running and the car door open is further to the right, near careless, and the guy who sets up The Club, takes out his stereo, locks the doors, and sets the car alarm is deeper in the side of paranoia.

    But while you can have an absolute lowest level of carelessness where you simply can’t take any less precautions, you cannot reach the upper maximum of paranoia. Just ask any paranoid network administrator whether he has enough backup copies of his data.

    As we can see in this example, a certain amount of caution is useful. Simply bringing the car keys with you makes it more difficult for someone to steal your car. Locking the door prevents them from being able to rummage through your car’s interior, and so on.

    However, we all know someone who takes it too far. There’s a reason the word “paranoid” is not a word with positive connotations.

    So how far is too far? The answer contains two parts.

    The first is society norms.

    If you’re out in the country, locking your car or even taking the keys with you is probably not a major concern. You may even be mocked (politely) for being paranoid if you lock your car while visiting a country relative.

    However, parking in Seattle is well known and documented as not being as safe. You’re encouraged to lock your car, and put any valuables in the trunk. (People are less likely to break into a car if they can’t see the valuables.)

    The second is risk assessment.

    If you’re out in the country and know that there’s still a slight chance, however small, that someone could steal your car, you may still lock it despite friendly mocking.

    But if you’re in a big city and your car is dirty and damaged, and you’re only going into a store for five minutes, you may not even bother locking it.

    So, in the end, how much paranoia is too much, and how much is just being cautious?

    Let’s talk about hoarding real quick. If you’ve seen the television show Hoarders, you’re familiar with some of the crazy things that people can stockpile. But what’s the difference between a collector and a hoarder? Someone may have thousands of coins or stamps or soda bottles, but still be a collector and not a hoarder.

    I believe the difference is organization. If your collection does not affect your daily life, you’re a collector. If it does, you’re hoarding. Affecting your daily life means that you need to walk around or over things, you’re unable to access floors and counters and tables, etc.

    The same principle of disrupting your daily life applies to paranoia. If you can push one button and immediately have 15 offsite backups of your data, that’s simply being cautious. Very, very cautious. However, if you spend hours every week burning DVDs and mailing them to a dozen safety deposit boxes across the globe, that’s paranoia.

    So remember kids: Spend enough time to keep yourself safe from things that can hurt you, but don’t waste your life trying to protect yourself from things you don’t even know will happen. Sometimes it’s better to pick up the broken pieces once every couple years than it is to spend an hour every day preventing it from being broken.


  • Best Time To Sleep

    I was considering making a big and interesting blog post, but instead I’ll show you this chart:

    Exhaustion vs Productivity

    Exhaustion vs Productivity

    Now I’m going to bed.



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