Okay, I'm finally posting on the internet that I'm engaged to get married. Even better, I'm engaged to Heidi Summers.

I'm relieved, excited, nervous, worried, shocked, giddy, completely distracted, and yet at peace with all of it.

I'm remembering that engaged couples are completely useless. And now I understand why.

Heidi wants to get married in Washington D.C. I'm pleased with that. We're thinking in October at the moment--assuming we can wait that long. We'll have an open-house in Utah later.

And I've been smiling since she said yes and hoping it doesn't ever end.

Passionate Valentine's Day Affair at the Welfare Office

I was minding my own business when I overheard my neighbor drone worker say to the person he was interviewing for assistance the following:

"So let me get this straight. You're just passing through Utah, but you are going to stay her for a while to live with you boyfriend, who you don't share food with but sleep with, who you just met an hour ago."

I don't hear the response of the woman he's interviewing. Then I hear.

"So you just broke up with him."

The woman who is applying, finishes her interview.

An hour and a half later she calls back to report she's gotten back together with her boyfriend she had now known for two and half hours.

Those of us at the office are pulling for them to make it. Seriously, they met on Valentine's Day, how could it possibly go wrong?
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Money Thoughts

For Christmas, one of my older brothers gave me Dave Ramsey's book: The Total Money Makeover.

Yes, the book is as cheesy as the title makes it sound. That aside, it does convey a lot of good information, once you get past the infomercial presentation.

So after reading the book, I've been looking over my financial situation. It could be better, but it's definitely not bad. I have very few expenses and I'm approaching the end of paying off all of my debts. Course, life would have been better had I not incurred the debts to begin with. I don't feel too bad, I had a time without any health insurance, low income, and huge medical expenses. So I know where my debts came from.

I still have huge medical expenses, but I now have health insurance that pays for most of it.

That said, I also am aware that getting to a financially stable point in life can be hard.

Dave Ramsey's methodology is basically: have an emergency fund, get out of debts (or even better don't get into debt), stay away from debt, build a larger emergency fund, build a retirement fund, save for big expenses, keep gaining money and almost always live on a shoestring budget no matter what your income is so that you have money for the hard times.

That's just a quick summary, but I think it encompasses the general idea.

Now this past week they pulled me from actually talking to people to have me just process application. (It doesn't make sense to people, but the more workers talk to clients, the longer it takes to get assistance out.) While processing, I was noticing how many people are applying mostly because they made some really bad financial decision. Most of the decision are because they have some poor behavior when it comes to money. Things like declaring bankruptcy for the third time, running S-Corps where they pay themselves a salary that is twice what the company brings in, have rent or mortgages that are 75%-300% of their income, and the more common habit of buying things they think they need but don't really need.

It really comes down to what other social workers have been telling me for years, wealth is behavior more than anything else. The haves are haves because of the habits they have developed that let them make and retain wealth. The have nots are where they are at because of habits that don't make money or retain wealth. Knowledge and education has a little to do with it also, but a person habits and mentality towards money matters far more than education. (Trusts me, there are plenty of very poor people out their with PhDs despite what academia sells.)

Obviously, people can change behavior. Plenty of people go from the mentality of poverty to the mentality of the wealthy. The mental shift is part of the rags-to-riches story that gets glossed over by most storytellers. People who become destitute and manage to get out of it, often have gone through some behavioral changes.

Course, there are feast and famine families that I see a lot of. These people don't change their behavior, so when they have money, it gets spent nearly as soon as it comes in. Hence people that are on welfare even though they have a multi-million dollar home and drive a BMW.

But stlll, if Cinderella remained a princess for the rest of her life after marrying the prince, it was because she kept all the lessons from being a servant with her.

Book Gender year review

Okay, I haven't posted here in a while, but I wanted to post this.

Last year, I looked at my goodreads list  (see December 15, 2009 post) and started to look at the gender balances in books I read.

I decided to do the same again this year:

Number of books read: 40

Number of books with woman authors: 11

Number of books with female protagonists: 18

For context, 38 or the 40 books were speculative fiction.

Also looked at the number of books without a romance plot or subplot. There were 10 and they were all written by male authors.

The numbers are up from last year. I think this could be from me being a little more conscious about the gender of the author or the protagonist when I read. Though I noticed I started reading more books with woman protagonists and by woman authors after I started dating my girlfriend.

I suppose that adds a little support to my theory that when people are feeling comfortable about their gender and gender role, then they are willing to engage in interests generally relegated to the opposite gender. When a person is not feeling comfortable about their gender, they cling to gender roles and stereotypes.

I also speculate that trying to force someone who is uncomfortable in their own gender role, into participating in a opposite gender activities is a great way to create some chauvinistic people.

Course, this book list really isn't enough to prove any of those theories.

I think I will probably do the same thing next year. I'm trying not to let this influence what books I read too much, If I want to read a book, I don't really care if the author is a man or woman, or if it has a hero or heroine--I'm going read it because the book's hook has grabbed me.

Space Stations

Trying to think how a space station can be made warm and inviting.

Honestly, when I think of most space stations in sci-fi, they're not very home-like. Which makes me wonder how anyone could stand to live on one. And are these things suppose to be a place where people stay for years at a time?

Just something i'm thinking about. I need to plan out a space station for NaNoWriMo.

Shades of Milk and Honey

Finish Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. I don't entirely know what i think about this book. (I actually listen to the audio-book version). It was on my reading list since it came out, but then it moved to the bottom of the list until someone coerced me into it.

Essentially, it's Pride and Prejudice with magic. It's okay. I'm not into romances. I have a hard time as a reader being solely interested in the ponderings of how one person might feel about another person. It doesn't hold enough conflict for me most of the time, but apparently it does for other people. The addition of illusion magic helped.

It kind of bugged me that the book has this great magic concept, yet it only explores in on how it impacts a small group of people. That's not bad, but my mind kept wondering about how this magic system impact everyone on a larger/societal scale. Didn't really get to see much of that, other than it's hinted at in a few spots.

And two of the main characters reminded me of my grandmother and her sister. I can't say if that is good or not.

(no subject)

Had a nice day today.

One of the problems of working a a four-day week is that the weekends are so nice it makes it hard to even think of going back to work on Monday. So I won't.

But I got to see a lot of friends today and did some sight-seeing. Odd how when you start looking around Utah County, there is more to see than you would expect.

And are a lot of good food. And most importantly got to hang out with someone really cool for most of the day.

And I got some re-writing/editing done on a short-story I hope to submit somewhere before the end of this month.


The people I work with are really awesome. They really are. They would not do the job we do if they weren't. It's a hard job and we get little thanks for it, but a whole lot of demands that are never ending. We're constantly placed into lose/lose situations where there is no way will come out looking good

For example, I told someone this today: "It is not the government's responsibility to feed you. We will help you obtain food when we can, but in your current situation we cannot. You should try other resources such as food banks, religious organizations, or whatever else you might have to do to feed yourself."

I was a little shocked I said that, and the punk on the other end got a angry that I suggest he is responsible to feed himself. He hung up without protesting. He knew I was right, just didn't want to hear it since he wanted the State to support him in his poor financial planning.

But that aside, I was really frustrated today with a few co-workers. Some co-workers become kind of snippy at times and insist on correcting everyone else's mistakes as they see it. These may not be actual mistakes, but these coworkers are having a bad day or whatever and feel like they have to feel smarter than everyone else.

It's really a waste of everyone's time. I learned a while back that I wasted more energy trying to get people to correct their errors than if I would just fix it myself and move on. And doing this, I find I'm happier when I go home.

First, it's not my responsibility to correct other people. If the person needs more training, that is their supervisor's responsibility, not mine. Sometimes I correct the error then send an email, but don't directly say tell the worker they messed up (though it's hinted at). If it's a huge problem, I send a tactful email asking the worker if there is a reason they made the mistake they made and offer to help resolve any problems.

Second, it's better to assume the best of my coworkers. They work hard and with the thousands of policies and procedures that we are expected to know, they will make mistakes. Considering the volume of case we have, it's amazing that more mistakes aren't made. I make errors and I know there are other workers out there quietly correcting them.

Third, in my jobs seconds count. Yes, my time is valuable, but so is the time of my coworkers. And with how things are set up, there is a lot of work that needs to be done and management does not care who does. If I waste time contacting my coworker instead of just solving the problem myself, then my coworker is more likely to get behind and if I'm caught up then I will get their work anyways. The sooner and faster anything is taking care of then the less work we all have.

Anyways, I had three cases today where workers went off on me for errors I had supposedly committed. One of them was for a case I had never touched before, but I was just the convenient person at hand to yell at.

People make mistakes. People make mistakes that hurt us--sometimes a lot. Everyone is happier if you forgive them as soon as possible and move on with your life (with whatever that entails).

Little Folk

My roommate is trying to get his girlfriend to play D&D (yes, he's a big geek). She's really into Arthurian legends, Renaissance fairs, and cosplay, so I think she might like it.

But this has gotten me thinking about fantasy tropes for no reason at all. Particularly in D&D 4th edition.

I'm annoyed with how D&D has changed to the look, consequently the feel, of many mythological creatures. Take gnomes for instance. I think they are trying to bring them to a more fairy folk type creature, which is good, but they also made them skinny and mischievous. And they still play into the stereotypes that Dragonlance brought onto gnomes. They now resemble in absolutely no way the garden gnomes or older version gnome tropes.

Halflings also seem to have developed anorexia and are not in anyways hobbit-like as they were originally intended.

Then there are some of the monster. Kobalds for one are starting to bother me. In researching a little on kobald folk-lore, there is nothing about them being reptilian or dragon-like. In fact, they are suppose to be more goblin- or fairy-like. But D&D kobald has become entrenched into the current mainstream idea of a kobald.

Anyways, RPGs and MMOs are having a  big impact on traditional folklore and mythical creatures. I'm not sure I like where they take them.


Oh how I like to procrastinate.

I've been working on revising the book I wrote last November. I've gotten some things done, but overall, there is a lot to be done.

I did talk it over with a friend and I think she really made a point that the story is a character story more than anything else. That is actually giving me some direction with the revision. I need to change some scenes so they reflect what going on with the character. Yet, I'm finding there is a risk in bogging down the story with character conflict--with my friend kindly also pointed out. so this leaves me needing to focus on character while not letting the over-arch external conflicts suffer.

It's good thing I was an art major. I helped me get used to the general double-talk and contrariness of artistic expectations. And it also helped that I later was a psych major to help sort if all out.

Anyways, I really need to complete my revision by the end of next month so I still have time to gear up for NaNoWriMo this coming November.