29 October 2008

Vegetarians, Meat Eaters, and Proposition 8

The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan are two books that have influenced my eating habits tremendously.

They have led me to eat less meat, try to exclude milk from my diet, read the labels on all the food I buy, and be more leery of USDA recommendations on what I should and should not include in my diet (the dairy and beef industries have deep pockets and lots of lobbyists in Washington).

You could say that I’m passionate about this. So passionate, in fact, that many of my friends have been informed over dinner about why I buy soy milk and why I study food labels in the grocery store. Most of them think I’m crazy and could care less about processed foods and controlling their meat intake. I’ve learned that I can’t force them to change, and I try to not let their disdain for my views cause me to change.

I do face some discrimination, but I can deal with that. One of my friends, not knowing I was trying out vegetarianism, told me that he couldn’t be friends with a vegetarian. I just smiled and nodded.

Now, imagine if legislation were passed that made eating meat illegal. Outback, Black Angus, and Ruth’s Chris would all be shut down over night if they didn’t change their menus. If the steakhouses somehow found a way to serve contraband beef, there would be extreme legal implications. The vegetarians would go mad, call their lawyers, and make sure not a single ounce of meat was served, no matter the cost to the shut-out businesses.

In this battle, who’s right, the vegetarians or the meat-eating majority? I don’t think it matters. It has often been said that any given man or woman is free to do whatever he or she wants until his or her hand hits the next person’s face. In other words, the meat eaters are free to eat meat, and the vegetarians are free to abstain, but neither group can force its views on any other group without infringing upon the freedoms of others.

You’re probably wondering where this post came from and where it’s going. In a roundabout way, it’s about Proposition 8 in California. There is a substantial group of people in California that are absolutely appalled that marriage is currently defined as between only a man and a woman. Their personal views have given them a broader definition of what marriage is, and they are fighting for legislation to make their view the legal view. From a human rights standpoint, they have a pretty good argument. But have they thought about what will happen to other people if the definition of marriage is changed and enforced? Honestly, I don’t think most of them care.

If Proposition 8 doesn’t pass, Born Again pastors, Mormon bishops, Catholic priests, and other religious leaders who are legally authorized to perform marriages in California could be forced to perform same-sex marriages, even if, for moral reasons, they oppose the practice. I can only imagine the legal battles and the detriment California’s religious organizations would face if they were to oppose performing gay marriages.

My views on food are shared by only a minority of people. It is one thing for me to talk about them with friends and family, but it’s another thing for me to use the law to make them everyone’s standard. I will admit that changes must be made to accommodate the freedoms of all, but voting no on Proposition 8 is not the way to do it. A subject this delicate needs delicate legislation that guarantees that my fist won’t hit my neighbor’s face, and vice versa.

One company I really like is Seventh Generation. As a guiding rule, they think of the effect their products will have not only on the next generation, but up to seven generations and beyond. As we vote in this election, no matter what state we’re in, let us vote thinking of more than just the immediate effect our yes or no will have.

And if you’re in California, vote YES on Proposition 8.

27 October 2008

Going Postal

My freshman year, I decided it would be a good prank to sign my friends up for unsolicited catalogs.

When I got home from my mission, a friend of mine needed a way to get back at a boy who had been treating her badly, so I got on the web with her and signed the boy up for O, The Oprah Magazine. To avoid any complications with billing, we clicked the "bill me later" option on the order.

He (who happened to be my EQP) got the magazine and the bill and revenge was sweet.

Recently, my friend Dede and I have been having a little war of our own. It started with some innocent e-mail spam attacks, which eventually led to full-blown mailbox war.

I think Dede was inspired by this story (the part about Jenny the Asian and my balding cranium). Whatever her inspiration, she couldn't resist signing me up to receive some information, via e-mail and real mail, from both The Hair Club and Bosley.

That naturally led to a counterattack. I got online, did a little searching, and found Catalogs.com.

After that, it was really very simple. I verified Dede's address with a friend of mine who lives above her and then signed her up for at least five catalogs. So far she has received one from Fabulous Furs.

This may have led to a retaliation from Dede. She denies it, but last week I received the holiday edition of Heifer International's catalog.

Officially, we have called a truce, but in war, can you really trust anyone? In the spirit of Halloween, I leave you with the following Harry Potter quote:

"Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain."

21 October 2008

The Tanner Building Metaphor

This is the Tanner Building at night.

Here's its hollow interior.

Cody's school is based out of the Tanner Building, and he goes to class there every day.

My school is based out of the Herald R. Clark Building, which is a much smaller, much less prestigious structure. Cody likes to point that out.

Yesterday, in defense of my school's building, I told Cody that his building is "showy, over the top, and hollow inside."

After I said that, we both paused for a minute, then looked at each other and started to laugh. We realized in that moment that the Tanner Building is the perfect life-size metaphor for BYU's accounting and business students, who can often be classified as "showy, over the top, and hollow inside."

19 October 2008

101 Posts

So, it's been just over a year and a half since robtmichael.blogspot.com came online. Over that time, I've blogged about a lot of stuff.

I've taken my loyal readers to:

Juice Parties
Giant Bananas
Eyebrow Waxings
Mayan Ruins
Ski Slopes

And don't forget all the shows (and people) we've reviewed:

Vampire Weekend in Salt Lake
Heart, Cheap Trick, and Journey
John Mayer
Vampire Weekend in Honolulu

The blog has brought about a lot of family unity:

And it has been a great outlet for some of my weirdest encounters:

It has been a good medium for revealing things I never planned on telling my parents.

And, lest we forget, the blog has shown the world how much I can look like Quasimodo in the following picture:

As the next picture proves:

The first 101 posts were a lot of fun. Just wait and see what the next 101 posts will reveal.

15 October 2008

How Far Back Does This Go?

Meet Robyn and her family.

Now, meet Nicole and her family.

Eight years ago, Robyn went on a study abroad to the Dominican Republic. While there, she met Nicole, a fellow member of her study abroad group.

After their semester together in the DR, they returned home and continued on with their lives, possibly with no thought of ever seeing each other again. Fate wasn't about to allow that, though, for a few years later they were brought together again in Guatemala at their husbands' mission reunion.


Just over four years ago, I entered the MTC. It was there that I met Cody, a fellow member of my MTC district.

Here's Cody in the MTC.

After nine weeks in the MTC, Cody and I parted ways. He went to Panama, and I went to Honduras.

We reconnected at BYU when we got back, and a year after that we were roommates. It wasn't until last night, however, that we discovered our cosmic brotherhood. (I'm finding all kinds of cosmic relatives lately.)

The realization occurred, as most of my realizations seem to do, at a burger joint. This time it wasn't at Sammy's, though, it was at Burger Supreme.

Over dinner, Cody mentioned that his sister had studied abroad twice. Being naturally curious, I asked him where. He told me she had gone to Spain and to the Dominican Republic. When he mentioned the DR, the cogs started rolling in my brain. I had to know when she had gone. Did she know my sister?


As I'm sure you've all guessed, Cody's sister is Nicole.

After I found out they studied abroad together, the following basically revealed itself.

Robyn and Nicole:

1. Studied Spanish at BYU.
2. Studied abroad in the Dominican Republic together.
3. Have blonde hair.
4. Married guys that served in the same mission under the same president.
5. Attended their husbands' mission reunion in Guatemala.
5. Enjoy fitness (Nicole teaches fitness classes and Robyn runs a fitness blog).
6. Have two kids, the oldest being a boy and the youngest being a girl.
7. Have brothers that go to BYU and are roommates.

And I don't even know if that's all of it.

The similarities between Robyn and Nicole are enough for me to believe that the two are cosmic twins, which means Cody and I are cosmic brothers.

What other cosmic things are there about this weird roommate/cosmic brother relationship? We spent the rest of the evening trying to find another connection. I should know by now, though, that things like this only appear...

When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars

First Rivers, now Nicole, Robyn, and Cody. Could this be the "dawning of the age of Aquarius?"

13 October 2008

Columbus Day

Today we celebrate the day three ships fell off the edge of the world and arrived in the Americas. Venezuelans call it Día de la Resistencia Indígena, or Day of Indigenous Resistence. In the United States of America, we call it Columbus Day.

In elementary school, it was a mythical day where we made construction paper recreations of the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. In fact, that's one of my only memories of kindergarten in West Valley before the big move to California.

Now, the day just doesn't get much play. It should really be more than a Post Office holiday. I'll go to my classes today, but I won't be happy about it.

11 October 2008


On a recent trip to the store, I stumbled upon what I thought was an oxymoron.

That's right, it says "Real Margarine."

A quick Google search has enlightened me on the matter.

By FDA standards, margarine, a butter substitute, must contain 80% fat (in its various hydrogenated forms, of course). I guess the Nucoa brand hits the mark, whereas all those "Imitation Margarines" are merely buttery spreads.

Thanks, Nucoa, for keeping Margarine real and pure.

09 October 2008

Rivers, My Cosmic Twin

Rivers Cuomo and I are now more alike than ever. Cosmic twins, even!

When I was 18, I noticed a stark difference in my height when I shifted my weight from my right leg to my left. Curious about why, I went to the doctor, where I officially discovered that my left leg is 7 millimeters shorter than my right.

Rivers Cuomo, as he tells in the following video, found out when he was 12 that he had a similar condition.

Coincidence? I don't think so.

What's more?

In "Pork and Beans," one of Weezer's most recent hits, he said the following:

"They say I need some Rogaine to put in my hair."

The reason behind the line was confirmed at the Weezer concert on Tuesday night.

A few months ago, I was told similarly. Jenny, the Asian that cuts my hair, told me that "I need[ed] some [Nioxin] to put in my hair."

If only I had listened to the rest of my cosmic twin's "Pork and Beans" lyrics. The chorus goes:

I'mma do the things that I wanna do, I ain't got a thing to prove to you. I'll eat my candy with the pork and beans, excuse my manners if I make a scene. I ain't gonna wear the clothes that you like. I'm fine and dandy with the me inside. One look in the mirror and I'm tickled pink. I don't give a hoot about what you think.

Those are words to live by, especially when the Asian that cuts your hair tells you you're going bald and instigates a quarter-life crisis.

Thanks, cosmic twin Rivers.

08 October 2008

Weezer in Salt Lake City

Tonight I attended the Weezer show at the E-Center in Salt Lake (or is that West Valley?), thus fulfilling one of my most sought-after dreams.

I have been Weezer's biggest fan since 1995, when I discovered my sister Robyn's copy of Weezer's Blue Album. I don't know what inspired me to listen, but once I did, I became the only fifth grader at Wagner Elementary School that walked around singing "My Name is Jonas," "Surf Wax America," and "Say It Ain't So."

I have many a good memory set to the tune of Weezer. They came with me on plane rides, road trips, scout camps, sleepovers, and EFYs. Until I became a missionary, we were inseparable.

In fact, serving a mission was the only thing that could keep us apart. I told myself that Weezer would mean so much more to me if I allowed myself to go on a two-year Weezer fast.

Miraculously, I made it through the self-imposed abstinence.

After my two-year Weezer fast, I symbolically introduced Weezer back into my life. Their Blue Album was the first of my music collection I listened to after getting back to California. I think my parents were a little shocked at how quickly Weezer resurfaced in my life. The truth is, it had never been too far gone.

Now, tonight, a little over two years after ending my Weezer fast, I was privileged to attend a Weezer show.

The night started out with some unknown opening band. That band was followed by Angels and Airwaves, which was started by Tom DeLonge, of Blink 182 and Box Car Racer fame.

Seeing Angels and Airwaves and hearing Tom's voice again made me really wish I had seen Blink 182 in high school, while they were still around. Can you say reunion tour? I'm there!

After Angels and Airwaves came the Weez. I could hardly believe my eyes when Rivers, Pat, Brian, and Scott walked out on the stage. Even Karl was there. When they walked out, my life became complete. Really, it was like reconnecting with old friends. I mean, I've dreamt about hanging out with them before.

The show was awesome. Here are some highlights.

I caught Rivers just as he was getting off of the trampoline.

Yes, that's a person in a wheelchair AND crowd surfing.

The Weezer hootenanny on stage.

The classic Weezer "=\/\/=" up on the screen at the end of the show.

Man, I love Weezer.

Next post: A discussion of the uncanny similarities between Rivers and me.

Stay tuned!

06 October 2008

Postal Proselytization

I don't know what church or group it's coming from, but for some time now my apartment has been subject to some very entertaining postal proselytization. (Yes, I know I made proselytization up.)

I guess very entertaining isn't the best way to describe its entertainment value. It's about as entertaining as Saturday afternoon TV.

The mailers actually contain some pretty wordy epistles. I've never taken the time to read them, but I'm sure if I was tired enough I'd chuckle at the message. I think they're either soliciting money or my soul (or both).

What makes the mail so entertaining are the little gifts that come with each epistle/soul-solicitation. Yesterday, this came in the mail.

The scene at the top of the page contains the following dialogue:

"Will you give a few minutes of your time to get saved?"

O. Foolish Man:
"I can't do it. I'm sorry, Jesus...I'm too busy."

The scene on the bottom of the page goes like this:

O. Foolish Man:
"Oh horrors! Wait! I didn't expect you so soon I'm not ready to die. Give me time to repent and get ready for Eternity."

"I can't do it. I'm too busy. Come on, I've got lots of others to call on tonight."

Naturally, I love the irony between O. Foolish Man's response to Jesus in the first scene and Death's response to O. Foolish Man in the second.

More than that, however, I like how Jesus only asks for a "few minutes of your time to get saved." A few minutes, you say? A quick Google search has defined a few as "being more than one but indefinitely small in number."

O. Foolish Man must be really, really, indefinitely busy, if he can't pull himself away from that computer-generated sales chart for just a few minutes. If only he could see the second scene. Then he'd really regret that choice.

Okay, I've spent far more time looking at and analyzing those dialogues then I thought I would when I originally opened the epistle. And this is nowhere near as entertaining as something else they sent us.

Upon opening an earlier epistle, I found a piece of cloth with a heart in the middle and a few printed sentences off to one side. The cloth read:

Print your name and Jesus' name inside this heart and carry this Prayer Cloth inside your clothing until bed time. Further instructions are in our letter...

I wasn't about to write my name in that heart and carry the cloth around with me all day until bed time. And I wasn't about to find further instructions in their letter. So I improvised a little and this is what I came up with.

I did write Jesus' name in the heart, but instead of my own name, I wrote Cody's. And I knew that carrying the heart around all day was out of the question for both Cody and me, so I sneaked the cloth into Cody's pillow. I figured, he's an accounting student and could use whatever blessings the clandestine cloth had to offer.

After waiting longer than I wanted for him to discover the cloth, I asked him to check his pillow for any foreign objects. He pulled out the cloth, and we both had a great laugh. He then put the cloth back in his pillow, and it's been there 'til tonight.

It must be working for him!

Postal proselytization sure beats credit card offers.