And So It Begins: Ceding the Tech Support Crown to the Next Generation

For as long as I can remember, whenever there was a tech problem in a household I was a part of, I was the go to person to solve it. I’ve always enjoyed rooting around in the innards of wires, and I’ve taught myself all sorts of things, from how to build my own computer (I’ve built two now) to how to design web pages to how to set up a home theater system. It just went without saying that when the time came that something electric broke down, it would be up to me to get it back working again.

I’m still able to do that, but the last bit, I’ve found myself taking a back seat more and more to Tomas. Why? A few reasons.

First, troubleshooting electronics can be a really long, arduous process. You know what you want the things to do, but you can’t for the life of you figure out why they aren’t doing that thing. To tinkerers like myself, that means you end up delving into online forums and guides to try and make yourself as expert in the area as you can, hoping in the process that you’ll come across the appropriate solution. That takes a lot of time and patience, and I don’t often have time (or patience) for some of these issues. If there weren’t another person in the house who enjoyed this sort of thing, that would be one thing, but . . .

The second reason is Tomas really excels at the same sort of process it takes to troubleshoot. He’s good at searching online for answers and putting the results of those searches into practice. Better yet, it’s something he enjoys doing. All those years of tinkering around with technology ended up indirectly getting me the job I have today. Why? Because in addition to having a library science degree, I had tech experience, and the first job I took at UMF was for the position of IT Librarian. Having a tech support background (and being able to prove it during the interview process) gave me a real leg up. So I think it’s definitely worth it to help foster the same attitude in my kids if possible.

Of course, this isn’t without concerns. I do wonder if I won’t find myself technologically frustrated in a few years when Tomas is no longer in the house and I’m back to doing these things on my lonesome. Is this how it begins? Ten years from now, am I going to be staring at my computer in horror when it starts displaying everything in Swahili, not knowing what keystroke I made to turn it to Swahili mode, let alone how to turn it off?

Probably not. Because if there’s one thing I’ll remain good at, it’s the ability to find information online. That’s comfortably in the “Librarian” wheelhouse, and so that’s an area I’ll still be working on keeping up to strength. The biggest part of successfully handing technology issues (I’ve found) is a willingness to troubleshoot, and the ability to get over the fear that you might break something. I remember the first time I installed RAM in a computer. I was convinced I was going to crush the motherboard, and I was really surprised just how hard I had to end up pushing to get it to seat finally. (Of course, the other trick is knowing when to wave the flag and take it to an expert. Because I definitely have broken things over the years . . .)

But for now, I’m enjoying being able to outsource tech problems as they arise, shifting into a consulting role instead. Suggesting ways to fix something, or providing insight into new approaches.

After all, who else is going to tell me how to use my super-duper genius phone when I’m eighty?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

On the BYU Jerusalem Center

The BYU Jerusalem Center is celebrating an anniversary this year, and they’ve asked alumni to write up what the center meant to them. Never one to pass up an opportunity to speak about something, here are a few stream of consciousness thoughts about an experience that’s far too big for me to be able to adequately find the words to describe it:

In the summer of 2000, I headed over to Israel for a short 8 week semester abroad in Jerusalem. Heading into the experience, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into. I didn’t know anyone else in the group. Before my mission (in 1997), I’d taken a class at BYU on Jerusalem, and that had really made me interested in going there someday. At the time, getting to go was a fairly competitive process. There were a limited number of positions each semester, and you had to apply and basically hope you got lucky.

Those eight weeks were flat out incredible. I made so many friends and had so many experiences that I still look back on today. Friends I’m still in touch with. Experiences that changed who I was and how I thought. During those eight weeks, I took classes on Jewish and Arab culture and language as well as the Old and New Testament. It was this mixture of learning about the history of the places we traveled, their context in current events, and their connections to major world religions that helped make everything so riveting.

For those eight weeks, we stayed at the BYU Jerusalem Center as a sort of anchor, heading out for expeditions to the outlying areas of Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. We stayed at a kibbutz on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Explored the ruins of Petra (where the finale of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed). Hiked Mount Sinai to watch the sun rise. Explored the nooks and crannies of the Old City. Read scriptures in the Garden of Gethsemane. Floated in the Dead Sea. Trekked to the Masada Fortress.

These were places I’d read about my entire life. Areas that appeared in the Bible, but which I’d somehow never really thought of as real. There’s a huge difference between reading about history and being in the place where it happened. Up until Jerusalem, I’d always thought I’d been to some pretty old places. As an American, I thought a trip to Europe had shown me what “old” was. Seeing where Shakespeare lived, or visiting a medieval ruin. In the Middle East, I regularly went to sites that dated back one or two thousand years BC, if not earlier.

Was it safe? Debatable. I’ve never seen so many guns carried in public as I did in the Old City. You’d regularly walk past police armed to the hilt. There were several attacks while I was there, and our tours had to be rescheduled accordingly. That said, from all the news stories I’d read before I went over there, I’d expected to find myself in a war zone the entire time. That wasn’t the case. Typically, life was normal. You could walk where you wanted, visit places, eat food (the food!), and have fun. I met lovely people on both sides of the conflict: Israelis and Palestinians.

And let me just say about more about the food. Hummus. Falafel. Pita bread. Even the cafeteria food was delicious. We had a traditional seder dinner one evening. We ate with Bedouin nomads. We had street food in the old city. Again, I’d thought I’d experienced different cultures in Europe, but I’d never come across anything like I did in Jerusalem. Even shopping was an adventure. Haggling for the best price on a chess set or leather sandals. Scouring the market of Cairo for just the right souvenir.

I did everything I could to get the most out of that trip. I tried to enjoy every moment, from the time we were woken up by the call to prayer coming from the neighborhood of the center to the time in the evening when I would sit on the lawn of the center, listening to music (Van Halen, if you were wondering) and looking out over the Old City.

One day, I hope to be able to go back. In some ways, I think I was too young to appreciate everything the trip had to offer. Then again, in others, I think I was just the right age. An age where experiences were still new, and 8 weeks could feel like a lifetime. Maybe my kids will get lucky and be able to go. I would gladly pay the tuition for them, if they could have the same sort of experience I had 20 years ago.

How do you put a price on a trip that changes your life?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

The Bar for “A Good Day” Has Been Significantly Lowered

How’s your Tuesday going? Mine’s going pretty great. Why? Because I now have a functional fridge and freezer in my house. That’s right! Instead of having to find a pair of shoes and trek out to the garage anytime I want a glass of milk or some ice cream, I can just traipse across the room. A few months ago, “having a working fridge” would have seemed like something that should just be a given. These days, solving basic problems like that feels like a cause for celebration. (Especially when it looked for a while like we wouldn’t get the fridge until late August.)

Of course, it wasn’t all strawberries and sunshine getting the new fridge in. For one thing, all of our doors are too small to fit the new fridge into our kitchen. One of the joys of having a house that was built in 1841 is that none of the doors are standard sized. Some are 30 inches wide, some are as narrow as 27 inches, and the rest are in between there. The new fridge just barely fit through the screen door on the back of the house. If it hadn’t . . . I don’t know what we would have done.

This means, of course, that it didn’t fit through the door to the kitchen. Not that it mattered, because the spot where we have our fridge now didn’t fit the new fridge anyway. This means it’s in the room next to the kitchen, which is still close enough in my book. (It’s also an even bigger incentive to renovating the whole kitchen this fall . . .) It also means that this fridge feels ginormous. It’s supposedly 25.5 cubic feet of coolness. (We got a freezer on the bottom model, with no in-door ice or water, because those always seem to break. No french doors either, because this America. Not France.)

I only had to go to the crawlspace once, which in terms of home improvement upgrades, is a real bonus as well. (Somehow I’d forgotten the fact that we’d have to worry about turning off the waterline to the current fridge. It’s in the crawlspace, and I didn’t even come across one mouse carcass on the way. Huzzah!

Anyway. That’s my Tuesday so far. How is yours going? Did you do something exhilarating as well? Maybe you got a haircut, or you successfully put on pants? Let’s look on the bright side, people. Before COVID, I always complained that kids got congratulated for things that never seemed to get me the same sort of praise. Showering themselves. Not pooping their pants. Speaking simple sentences. Now, with quarantine, I get to experience the same sort of benefits!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Quarantine Movie Review: Moonstruck

I know. Watching a Cher movie from the 80s doesn’t sound like something that would be high up on my “things I want to do in quarantine” list. I’ve seen it once before, and I remembered liking it quite a bit, but that was it. I don’t even remember who I watched it with. I could have sworn it was Denisa, but she’s convinced she wasn’t involved. I also thought I reviewed it on the blog, but I can’t find a record of that either. Maybe I’m losing it.

In any case, it’s on Daniela’s list, and two nights ago its number came up. (It’s on Prime Video.) I was a bit hesitant about the rewatch (I had been hoping for Magnificent Seven. Life’s full of disappointments), but after seeing it again, I’m really glad I did. I had forgotten just how good a movie it is. There’s a reason it was won 3 Oscars (Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay) and was nominated for 3 more (Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor). Cher does a genuinely great job in the movie, and Nic Cage is . . . Nic Cage.

The movie feels like a high brow predecessor to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It fits into this fairly unique space where it’s a comedy, drama, and art movie all at once. Cher plays an Italian woman engaged to be married to a man she doesn’t love, but “likes” a lot. Then she falls for his younger brother. That sounds like a terrible set up for a plot. Way too overdone, and really hackneyed, but in practice . . . it all just comes together so well. Not in the typical romantic-comedy trope filled way, but somehow in a much truer-to-real-life vein.

There were multiple parts of the movie that just struck me as very authentic. Case in point: Cher agrees to see Nic Cage one more time after falling for him. He tells her that if she would just go to the opera with him one time, that would be all he’d need for the rest of his life. (I know. It sounds stupid. But it works in the dream-like state the movie somehow manages to occupy successfully.) Cher wants to keep her engagement to his brother, but she can’t resist one night at the opera, so she says yes.

But instead of just getting dressed in whatever she has on hand, she gets herself a complete makeover. Dyes her hair, buys a nice dress and shoes, has a manicure. The works. All for this date that just isn’t supposed to matter that much, because it’s the last time she’s going to see this guy. Nic Cage, when she first met him, was a mess. Unshaven and unkempt. He looks like a tortured slob. She gets completely dressed up to the nines, and then goes to the Met to meet him outside. He turns around, and it’s clear he’s done the same thing she has: he’s dressed in a tux, he shaved, and he looks 1000% better.

It struck me out of the blue: the memory of doing the same thing for Denisa on our first date. I’d asked her out when my original date for the weekend fell through. I didn’t even know Denisa that well, but I had the tickets and I didn’t want them to go to waste. She showed up at the library where I was working a few hours before the date, to get some research done. She looked great. Somehow I suddenly saw her in a light I’d never really paid attention to before. As soon as I was off work, I had a few hours before the date. I spent them cleaning my car and trying to make myself look as good as I could. Trust me: I didn’t clean my car for anybody, but there I was, cleaning it for her. When I picked her up, she’d changed again, and she looked even better than she had in the afternoon. I was very glad I’d vacuumed the seats.

So all of that memory came from out of the blue to hit me between the eyes when Cher and Nic Cage see each other for the first time for that date at the opera. It wasn’t heavy handed. It didn’t involve this big scene that telegraphed LOOK HOW THEY’RE DOING THE SAME THING. In fact, we didn’t even see Cage getting ready.

It all just worked. It’s hard to get something like that to go off without a hitch.

I gave the movie a 9/10. Is it perfect? Not quite. There were a few scenes that dragged a bit for me, and the plot got a bit muddled from time to time, but overall, it was a movie that made me think about what love meant and how different people express it. The finale of the film is great stuff.

Bottom line? If you’ve never watched this movie (or watched it only once a long time ago), it deserves your attention. Daniela didn’t particularly care for it. It’s not a kid movie, but if you’re up for some real entertainment that isn’t handed to you with a bowl of popcorn, give this one a shot.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Revisiting Indiana Jones

As we’re working through the list of 150 movies I constructed for Daniela, we hit the Indiana Jones section. So the past few days, we’ve watched Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, and Last Crusade. These are all movies that I’ve loved for a long time, but I haven’t watched them in probably . . . 19 years? (Which leads one to ask, “Just how much did you love them?”) Denisa hadn’t seen them, and I don’t think I would have watched them without her, so it’s at least 19 years. Probably longer. But it felt like I’d seen them since then, if only because they’re referenced so much throughout pop culture. (Especially Raiders of the Lost Ark.)

So, with a fairly fresh eye and new perspective, how did they stand up?

In my head, the movies were ranked Raiders, Crusade, Temple. (We’ll be watching Crystal Skull next, but I don’t count it as part of the real trilogy, just because of the tremendous gap between them.) As I watched them, however, I found myself swapping Crusade and Raiders, and I was surprised by just how much I still enjoyed Temple. Some of that might be because in my head, Temple was so much worse.

Don’t get me wrong. Temple of Doom has some serious issues. When one of my kids observed that Short Round sounds an awful lot like Elmo most of the time . . . things got a lot more amusing, in a so-bad-it’s-good sort of a way. The movie has some very problematic issues with racism, and the violence in it is really over the top. (Did they really need a single scene where a man is bound to a cage, has his still beating heart ripped from his chest, stays alive, gets dunked in lava, and then show his heart burst into flames while everybody cheers? Gather ’round, kids! There’s a reason Temple of Doom forced the creation of the PG-13 rating.)

But at its heart, it’s got a lot of the same tropes that make Indiana Jones movies tick. Rollicking adventure, a mixture of horror and comedy, and a great soundtrack. There’s a lot of modern Marvel movies in Indiana Jones. And when you look at how well-refined the series was by the time Crusader appeared, it’s hard to say Temple wasn’t a part of it. An evolutionary step along the way toward modern action/adventure movies.

Raiders is huge in that field. It laid the groundwork for so much to follow, and it has to be respected for that. But for a modern audience, with modern tastes? It just doesn’t have the same zing it once did. There are some serious pacing issues that my kids noticed. Places where the adventure sagged more than others. Those aren’t present in Crusade, which goes along full throttle and doesn’t look back. If I were to only pick one Indiana Jones movie to show my kids, I would have thought it would have been Raiders going into the trilogy. Coming out, it’s definitely Crusade.

Temple of Doom will scar some kids for life. (But I’d really like to see an Elmo cut . . .)

Anyway. Those are my thoughts on the trilogy for now. I’m interested to see how Crystal Skull compares, now that I’ll have watched them all so close together. I know the popular consensus is it was a money grab, but sometimes the popular consensus is wrong.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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