Sunday, November 29, 2009

Generation Gap

I finally talked my oldest son into reading a "grown-up", honest-to-goodness science fiction book the other day ("House of Suns", pretty good), and he absolutely loved it. With that, we finally convinced him that grown-up books, even if they're "old", can still be good. So last night I finally got him to read "Caves of Steel" by Isaac Asimov. This is the interchange we just had:

"Hey, kiddo."

"Hey."

"How's the book?"

"Good."

"Did you know that book pre-dates computers?"

"Huhn?"

"That book was written before there were computers."

"How did they type it?"

"With a typewriter."

"Oh."

Well, it wasn't a completely honest discussion. ENIAC was built in 1946, and the book was published in 1953, so there was a gap, but certainly it was written before what we'd consider to be the first personal computer came into being. And it was probably written by hand ... and then given to a secretary to type into text ... and then given to the printer to put into print-type, but you get the drift. There's a generation gap here ...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Follow-up on Fall TV

So, I scanned the most recent episode of Stargate: Universe and found a lesbian cuddling scene. No, we won't be watching that show anymore. That was the last straw. Bummer.

You know what really chaffs me is that on network television (not the barely more graphic cable) Hollywood pretty much portrays every gay and lesbian relationship in some sort of ideal way, as if those relationships are somehow more meaning, trusting, and loving, as they do what they do in the face of this supposedly horrendous outside opposition. So very rarely do you see a normal, traditional relationship displayed with such a positive spin. Maybe because that's not dramatic enough, I guess.

A few thoughts from the scriptures:

Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 2 Nephi 15:20.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; ... Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, ... Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves ... for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful ... Roman 1: 18-31

A lot of these labels can easily be placed on the so-called champions of the gay and lesbian community, as they spew out their hatred towards those of us who have the gall to speak up against that behavior. I respect their right to choose; I just wish they'd respect mine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fall TV

This fall there's been a lot of television that has intrigued me. Since I'm a diehard science fiction fan, I've been absolutely delighted by the introduction of new shows to watch that are of this nature, such as the new Stargate: Universe, FlashForward, and V.

My wife and I, however, are particularly choosy about what kind of television shows we watch because: 1) we have certain moral standards, and 2) we tend to wholeheartedly commit to what we watch. So, let me give the run-down of what has basically happened this fall.

First off was Stargate: Universe. We watched the first episode and were miffed at the gratuitous sex scene that was included. However, we know that directors have a tendency to put stuff like that in a new show's pilot in order to be "edgier" and to grab target audiences who like that kind of stuff. We saw the same thing with the original Stargate television show where there was nudity in the pilot episode, but it cleaned up nicely after that to face an astonishingly successful 10 seasons.

So it was that we had similar expectations for this new show. However, we have been terribly disappointed. Not only has the show not lived up to the "fun-ness" of the other two Stargate series, but it has already had several sex scenes in its brief run, one of which was quite ... blatant. We're not very happy about it since we have high hopes and are looking forward to seeing where it will go. We haven't given up on the series just yet, but we're very close to doing so. We're watching for that little ratings box at the front of the episode to see if the dreaded "S" is included and treading lightly. Time will tell.

With regards to FlashForward, we watched the first few episodes, but have been disappointed in just how ... gross ... it can be. We're not into the whole "medical procedural" thing, nor do we particularly enjoy hyper-violence, but what really broke us here was the gratuitous lesbian sex scene. I know our society has become more "open" to this kind of stuff, but, as I've said in this space before (often), I don't approve of that behavior. I don't mind that a main character is a lesbian, really I don't. I just don't want to see her making out with some other woman, and I think they could have skipped that whole thing and still got "the point" across.

So, we dropped it. I still follow the story-line, casually, but only because I'm curious to know where it will go.

Lastly was V. We'd been burned by the other two shows, so we approached this one with extreme caution. I scanned the first episode and was stunned by the level of violence. My wife really does not appreciate that, so we decided not to even start that one. Too bad, too, because I really enjoyed the original ...

So, here we are, well into the fall television season and we have no new shows to watch. Our old standbys still keep us pleased enough (Survivor, Amazing Race, The Big Bang Theory, and we're awaiting Lost's return), but I was really hoping for something new. Ah, well, there's always next year.

Why, oh, why, can't there be a new television show that skips the sex, the language, and the hyper-violence, and instead focuses on intriguing and dramatic storylines? Why can't somebody entertain me without offending my moral standards? Why?!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

All My Hawaii Vacation Posts

This is a list that I'm keeping of all the posts related to Hawaii that I have written or intend to write. When I write a new one, I'll update the time-stamp on this entry to make it the most recent, and then I'll add the hyper-link to the post in this list. Entries that have no hyper-link are those which I have yet to write (of which, when I'm done, there shouldn't be any). The order is time-listed with the oldest post listed first.

-- Getting Ready for Vacation
-- Pre-Vacation Checklist
-- Back From Vacation
-- Hawaii Trip - Day 1
-- Kayaking, The Sunken Island, and The King of Kapapa Island
-- The Halona Blowhole
-- The Laie Temple
-- Sea Turtles
-- The Polynesian Cultural Center
-- Diamond Head
-- Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay
-- The Spitting Rock
-- The Arizona Memorial
-- The Dole Pineapple Plantation
-- Sunrise Atop Haleakala
-- Little Friends: Lizards, Birds, and Bugs
-- Funky Flowers and Other Green Growths
-- Olivine Pools, Dragon's Teeth, and A Mighty Banyan Tree
-- Snorkeling in Halona Bay
-- The Road to Hana
-- Swimming in O'heo Gulch
-- Red and Black Sand
-- Striking Images
-- Just Me and My Wife

Sunrise Atop Haleakala

Okay, so it's been about a year and a half since we went to Hawaii, and I never did finish up the blog posts recording the experience. However, some friends of ours are headed to Maui tomorrow, and we were reminiscing about all the awesome things that we saw when we were there, and it occurred to me that I need to work on finishing up these posts. So, I'm going to try to get back to it.

One of the things we told our friends about was about Haleakala Crater. It is a volcano with a rim that rises above 10,000 feet, and we had been told that we should get up about 3 a.m. and drive to the top of the mountain up the very windy road in order to see the sunrise. We did so, even though we were totally exhausted, with hopes of seeing some beautiful sights. We were definitely not disappointed.

First off, though, we went prepared. It is a very strange thing to pack winter clothes when you are preparing for a trip to tropical Hawaii. Nevertheless, we had read how cold it gets up there, so with some of our excess space in our luggage (ha!), we packed in our heavy winter coats with hats, gloves, and scarves.

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We were very happy to have them! Some of the people who also went to see the sunrise arrived wearing shorts and T-shirts, and clearly hadn't done their homework. When the sun came up, they snapped their pictures and fled back to the warmth of the lower altitudes. We were amused by that.

The road to the top of the crater is a windy road with more switch-backs than we were willing to count. At that time of the morning, I was tired, but excited enough to keep awake for the drive. Truth be told, I absolutely loved it -- I'm one of those kinds of guys that really enjoys driving, and driving windy roads greatly amuses me. (Hawaii as a whole kept me grinning goofily through much of our driving time ...)

When we got to the top, we were impressed by how many people were there. There was a large parking lot a little lower than the peak where tourists could park, and one higher where those who worked at the observatory could park. Choosing our parking space, we got out and set up our tripod for the pictures. My wife instantly went into recording mode and started snapping pictures about every 30 seconds.

The view, though, was certainly worth it. We were amazed as we watched the sun rise above the clouds. Yes, we were high enough that we were actually above the clouds and the sun rose above them! From where we were, you couldn't really take in the magnitude of the crater below us because of its massive size. Nevertheless, the winds blew from the east and pushed clouds over the tops of the opposing crater rim.

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We loved how the sun lit up the edges of the clouds, like golden lace on a down pillowcase. It was spectacular.

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As the sun continued to rise, my wife snapped picture after picture. I can't really include them all, but you can see that the colors were splendid. The crater was dark below us, contrasting sharply with the light shining across the "floor" of the cloud-deck.

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As the sun continued to rise, we were able to discern more details in the crater beneath us, and the clouds began to thin somewhat as it slowly "burned off".

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Behind us, the crater was so large that it cast a magnificent triangular crater across the ocean to the west. I took this picture a little too late, but you can get an idea of its size.

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Later, we went on a little hike down into the crater. We were suffering preliminary effects from altitude sickness by this time, though, and dehydration, so didn't spend a lot of time there. We did get some great pictures, though, such as:

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Here's the east peak, surrounded by clouds:

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Here's a series of cinder cones inside the crater itself:

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You could even see the snow-topped peaks of the Big Island off in the distance:

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We truly felt like we were on top of the world.

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Of all our experiences in Hawaii, we think that the trip we took to Haleakala Crater was probably the most memorable. Just thinking about that experience makes my wife and I want to go back to Hawaii and enjoy the islands again. We want to do more hiking and more exploring. The trails into the crater were tantalizing to us, and if we had been better prepared we certainly would have taken advantage of that.

It was truly an extraordinary time. As pompous as it may sound, we felt like we were closer to our Savior up there, in a place that was special and holy. We have a better understanding of why it was in ancient times that the Lord came to the tops of the mountains when he spoke to His prophets. There was a peaceful feeling, an isolation from the burdens of the world, and a focus that didn't have anywhere else on our trip. It truly was a wondrous experience, and we are grateful for it.

Don't You Hate It When ...

You crawl out of a nice warm bed to step into a cold shower because the water heater's pilot light went out? This happens several times a year to me ...

On the bright side, my wife pointed out that my showers are a lot shorter when this happens, and then it also occurred to me that we save a lot of water that way, too ...

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