Friday, October 31, 2008


Read that and tell me it's not a company trying to pull a marketing scam. Or maybe that's just obvious, and the joke's just going over my head.

To save you the time reading the link, it's a theater company that reported (today, on Halloween) that they hear ghostly footsteps on the stage, and a wooden sign flew out the window or something, and a few months ago some employees watched a mug lift in the air and crash into the wall. (Sure you didn't mean "floor" instead of wall?)

On a different subject.

We live in a little house, which is actually a four-plex. In the kitty-corner downstairs apartment, there's a lady with three dogs. There's a small, yappy chihuahua; a medium-sized, yappy terrier; and a fat, old (thankfully quiet) heeler of some sort.

Anyway, Acouchi's favorite pastime is sitting on my desk, watching the dogs out the front window. She's experienced them in person once before, when they decided to take advantage of our front door being propped open and came into our living room, driving Acouchi up the wall (literally, and from there onto an end-table). That wasn't too surprising, since Acouchi is terrified of everything. Child brought home a tiny kitten once, and Acouchi wouldn't come out from under the bed for hours.

However, apparently Acouchi has learned a little more about the dogs' personalities from watching them so long. I had the door propped open again while I brought stuff in yesterday, and Acouchi took the chance to explore the front porch. The chihuahua spotted her and raced towards her, yapping. I expected her to dash back inside, but to my shock, she lunged at the chihuahua!

Startled, the chihuahua jumped back, then cautiously came forward again and they sniffed noses for a minute. I was still in shock watching her, since this was incredibly out of character for our cat. Then the fat heeler came over, and Acouchi sniffed noses with her too before the neighbor came over to get the dogs back.

Child suggested it was because our neighbors (different neighbors) have a crowd of tough, outside cats who constantly boss the dogs around, and Acouchi may have seen how they did it and realized she could too. Either way, after I brought her back inside, she spent the rest of the day meowing and pawing at the front door, wanting to go back outside.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Maslow and Mormonism

I had an interesting epiphany today at church. The question someone raised, and which I've heard raised before, is "Why do Latter-day Saints spend money on building temples, when that money could be used to, say, feed poor people?"

I've never really had a good answer for that, until today. In 1943, Abraham Maslow outlined a hierarchy of needs, where in general, the most basic needs need to be fulfilled to move to higher levels of needs. For example, you're not going to worry about your job (a second-tier need) while you're not getting air because you're drowning (a first-tier need).

The idea is that every level of need must be fulfilled for a person to be a well-rounded person. The top needs are actually called "growth" needs, which meshes nicely with the LDS belief that the whole point of our earthly existence is to learn and grow. Just because a level of need isn't as basic as another, doesn't mean it's any less of a "need."

The epiphany was this: there are people at every level in the pyramid, so the church must address every level. Giving all their money to the poor focuses on a single level of need, and ignores other needs that are just as real and whose fulfillment is just as vital from an eternal perspective.

I think the reason the question is raised is because it's difficult for people with more basic needs to see the importance of fulfilling higher-level needs. It's natural for the person sick with palsy to think his physical needs take precedence over someone else's spiritual needs, and the bigger the gap between the needs, the harder it is to see the importance. However, Jesus knew that all levels of needs were important, and didn't spend 24/7 healing people and raising the dead, he also took time to teach.

Besides, if we take that approach that "no one leaves the bottom level until everyone leaves the bottom level," we're not only condemning everyone to a life on the bottom level, but we're ignoring reality. Realistically, there are people with every level of need, and those needs must be addressed.

Also, I would guess that the higher up the pyramid you are, the easier it is to pull other people up from the bottom tiers. It's a matter of leverage. If you gave every penny non-essential for your own survival to someone less fortunate, you'd never get an education, never have a family, never get a decent job. However, if you took a long-term view and saved some of that money, you could get all of the above, and end up helping far more people in far more ways than if you had taken a short-term view. Could the Church help four million people in 85 countries in one year if it took a short-term view on things? I doubt it.

The answer, as it often is, is moderation and a balanced approach. Focus resources on each level of need, proportionate to the needs. Give food to starving people, but save some money to build thrift stores to provide people with jobs and training, but save some money to build chapels where people can find spiritual fulfillment, but save some money to build temples where people can find beauty, inspiration, and self-actualization. In the eternal view, every need is as essential as the next.

Lots O' Things

Websites I'm currently working on:

1. I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where I'll attempt to write 50,000 words in one month. I am making this website to automatically display one word of my work per minute, every hour of every day, until the end of November. I figure the more people that might be reading what I write, the more motivation there will be to continue and the less likely it will be that I'll give up.

2. The South Utah Valley Animal Shelter has started a joint project with the North shelter to make a combined webpage for people looking for a Utah County animal shelter. This page will then direct people to the proper website, North or South, for their area. Incidentally, if you click the link for the South shelter, I also built that website, but it's more-or-less done so I won't include it on my "Current" list.

Also, if you're a police officer, veterinarian, or someone else with access, you can log into the backend of the new website to an online animal license management section.

3. I built this website for Child's Saboteur games, and update it with pictures each time we play.

4. This is my latest weekend project. I hesitate to put the URL up because I had nothing to do with the "look" of the site--my work was in building them a back-end database-based manager for their alpaca herd. Granted, I'll also be replacing their "For Sale" and "Herdsires" pages with pages automatically generated from the database, but they wanted me copy their look-n-feel on those pages as well, so visually, nothing is really mine.

5. Top Secret URL. I have a business idea that I want to do, and I've started work on the website, but there's nothing I want to show yet. Sorry.

6. No URL. Child and I have been working on inventing a game, and I'm using making an online version of it as an excuse to really learn AJAX. However, it currently isn't accessible from anywhere but my computer. Since it's more of a learning experience for me, it'll probably never see the light of day, but it's still taking up time.

7. No URL yet. Child is working on starting an infant massage business, and I'll be making the website for it. Currently in the "thinking about what to do" stage.

8. And just to finish off the list, add another full 8 hours of work each day in my full-time job, where I work on dozens of different websites. With all this laid out, can I be forgiven for slacking off on blogging for a while?