Suffer the Children

Christ with Children This happened a few years ago, but I was reminded of it today during church and I thought I’d share. It’s heavily LDS, so my apologies if you are unfamiliar with the jargon.

I remember it well because I was so deeply affected by it that I took the time to jot a note about the incident. I’m glad that I did, though my initial attempt to record it is an embarrassment of over-florid prose. I’ll try to keep this simple so I don’t get in the way of the experience.

It was a normal Sunday. We were on time and sat in a middle row near the front. Our ward is uncharacteristically small for Salt Lake City, so we don’t have to be early just to get seats with cushions. Indeed, it’s small enough that most of the Aaronic Priesthood boys are involved with passing the sacrament—even the Teachers and Priests.

Indeed, one family arrived shortly before the meeting began and slipped into the row in front of us as it was yet entirely empty. Their boy, three or four years old, ranged across the entire bench, managing to take up the entire row all by himself. Fortunately, he was short enough not to be seen over the bench and was surprisingly quiet so he wasn’t a disruption to others. I felt sympathy for his mother as she watched over her very active son. I thought of the Savior’s admonition to “suffer the little children” but it looked to me that the mother was the primary sufferer on this occasion.

On this Sunday, the Stake Representative took some time for announcements, one of which was the upcoming ordination of one of the Aaronic Priesthood boys to become an Elder in preparation for his mission. The boy, when asked to stand, rose from the bench of deacons (towering over them as he was both large and athletic).

While the bread was passed, I noticed that the small boy in front of me was too busy with his quiet-time toy to be bothered with taking any. When offered, he shook his head and his mother, perhaps resignedly, passed the tray along. I remember smiling a bit at how gracefully she had handled his refusal.

When the deacons were done and all lined up, I saw the boy again as he noticed the line of young men and remembered that it was the sacrament—and that he hadn’t gotten any. He raced to the end of his row and quietly tugged at the boy in front. At the front of the line was the tall young man who would soon become an elder. At this point, the Priests had already stood, and it was time for the deacons to move. I wondered how the soon-to-be Elder would handle this development.

Well, handle it he did. With dignity and reverence (and maybe a hint of a smile) he reached down and offered the boy his tray of bread. He did it so smoothly that I doubt many in the congregation noticed at all that the line of deacons had hesitated. His patience in that moment of expectation, when he knew he should be leading the others forward, stands in my memory as one of those quiet times that divinity manifests unannounced. In a little ward in Salt Lake City, a tall, athletic young man demonstrated what it truly means to “suffer the little children to come unto me.”

31. August 2009 00:11 by Jacob | Comments (2) | Permalink

Playing with Friends

Zynga I’m a Facebook convert. It took me a while to get into the full swing of things, but I find that I like to check Facebook periodically throughout the day. It’s a low-intensity way to keep track of people I know. It makes me feel like I am still connected to them without all the overhead of, you know, actually connecting with them.

About a month ago I discovered Facebook games. I admit I went a bit nuts there at first. Once I developed a pattern, though, I found it pretty easy to keep up with five or six games in short spurts a couple times a day without affecting my productivity. Much.

Facebook Game Design

There’s a genre of Facebook games that are heavily RPG-inspired and designed to be played for a couple of minutes a day. Indeed, they have mechanisms built in to achieve a few specific behaviors:

  • Encourage you to return at least once a day.
  • Encourage long-term involvement by restricting how much you can accomplish on each visit.
  • Have competing uses for game resources.
  • Optional elite items available mainly by mechanisms that send the game company cash.
  • Encourage you to sign your friends up.

I’m pretty sure that we’re a couple of iterations in because it looks like variations on a very few core designs have pretty much taken over the player space, most of them by a company called Zynga.

Most of those elements together make up what I found so intriguing in these games. Resource management, building up over time, being able to play for very short periods of time. These are all wins.

Gang vs. Gang

Unfortunately, the main mechanism to encourage you to sign your friends up is to enable unrestricted player vs. player (PvP) activity and make your PvP power dependent on how many players are in your “group”. A player who can only recruit 15 of his friends to play will be trounced by someone who can amass a group of, say, 50.

The effects of PvP vary, but are all annoying when you’re the loser. Generally something along the lines of health, wealth, and eventual XP loss. Logging in to find that you’ve been attacked a couple of times by other players is a minor annoyance. Logging in to find that an individual attacked you a half-dozen times is more of a major annoyance. Having someone attack you just before you make a major purchase (thus stealing a large amount of your cash and reducing your carefully precise change below the applicable cost) is downright infuriating.

And the real problem is that your options here are few. You can develop a thick hide and simply not care—chalk it up to the cost of playing. You can look for people who play the game and invite them to be your friend so that they’ll be part of your group. You can brow-beat your existing friends to play so that you’ll have a bigger group. That’s pretty much it.

Anger Management

Well, I don’t like losing, and I like pimping my friends even less. And the kinds of people who will accept random friend invites in order to increase their game group size aren’t really all that friendly. Which leaves me a little option-less here.

In the last week or two, I find that I dread checking on my games because of the chance that I’ll have been hit by some jerk with inadequate socialization. The anger on finding that some moron went to town on my character like a dog with a particularly tasty bone has become too big a weight to carry. It’s certainly not a weight I’ll carry voluntarily.

It’s too bad that the experience of playing these games is ruined so thoroughly for me by a small contingency of jerks. That said, all the jerks in the world wouldn’t matter if the games weren’t built to encourage, even privilege, jerk behavior.

Well, I don’t like being angry and my personality is such that it isn’t something I’m going to learn to just accept. Which is my way of working up to saying that I won’t play games with unrestricted PvP any longer.

Reporting Abusive Behavior

A word about the palliative offered in some Zynga games in the form of a link on player profiles to report “abuse”. Zynga support is a marvel of incompetence in and of itself (which you’d discover if you ever tried to report a bug or error). This goes double for their “solution” for abuse reporting. Once you dig out the place where you can actually report abuse, an endeavor fraught with peril and misdirection, the report process places a huge burden on the player to “document” (aka clear unnecessary hurdles) the event. Even then, the first two responses you’ll get are quotes from their faq that have no bearing on your actual report. If you press, and you do have to press, their eventual response will be that they can’t tell you anything more due to “privacy issues”. Which is double-speak for “take your palliative and go away.”

My experiences with Zynga were so bad that I’ll be avoiding them and their products in future just on the principle of limiting the impact of incompetence in the universe.

Technorati tags: , , , ,
30. June 2009 10:50 by Jacob | Comments (2) | Permalink

Fake Plastic Rock

We’ve been rocking out with Rock Band for over a year, now. It’s fun for the whole family, or at least, those of the family who manage to secure a fake plastic instrument. There are advantages to being the largest member of the family, and one of those advantages is that I can generally snag the drums.

Old Kit

Well, our drum kit has been showing its age. The pads are all scuffed and puffy in places and I’m afraid I’m going to do permanent damage eventually. Playing on expert means moving with enough speed that it’s kind of hard to tap lightly. You can see in the picture above that we’ve already modified the pedal with an after-market metal overlay to help it withstand the stompin’.

Anyway, I wanted a new drum kit for Christmas, but Santa refused to pony up. The jerk. So I waited. On my birthday last week, I asked for a new drum kit. I told myself no, but I just couldn’t resist that sad look I was using to persuade myself that I really need one now. And hey, it’s the big 4-0 so as midlife crises go, this one is… recoverable.

New Kit

Isn’t it cute?!? We’ll get those unsightly wires tucked away shortly with the little plastic ties Ion included in the packaging. Long story short, my fake plastic rock is now just a smidge less fake now. Initial experimentation turned out well. It’s a ton quieter and the rebound action makes a bigger difference than I even thought it would. I’m still getting used to the changes in position. I’m trying to play the cymbal lines on the actual cymbals, but the game itself doesn’t detect the difference. And I can tell you right now that the optional third cymbal is going to be a rather urgent addition soon (hitting that blue rhythm cymbal line just feels unnatural on the pad, particularly when all the other lines have been cymbals, too).

New Drum Set

Here’s an action shot for your enjoyment with Teleri and Aerin accompanying (Melissa is off camera singing). I assure you that we’re all smiling on the inside. Rhys served as photographer.

Technorati tags: , , ,
15. April 2009 11:04 by Jacob | Comments (4) | Permalink

Proffitt Christmas Morning

Another boring Christmas post. I know! I'm doing these for the benefit of sharing Christmas with my mom while she is in Germany and anyone else who wants to listen in.

We had an awesome Christmas this year (not that any of our Christmases suck). The weather outside is extremely blustery.

Christmas Weather - Share on Ovi

If you click for the larger picture you'll see that the snow is coming down almost horizontally. Ugh.

Our little family has internalized and formalized the Christmas tradition of the older kids filling the stockings for mom and dad. This year Cordy got to join the fun. That means we no longer have any illusions about Santa Clause. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Filled Stockings - Share on Ovi

And just to be controversial, I had the us all show off our favorite presents this year.

Cordy's Favorite - Share on Ovi
Rhys' Favorite - Share on Ovi
Cordy loves her Playmobile.
Rhys is excited about his pocket knife.
Aerin's Favorite - Share on Ovi
Teleri's Favorite - Share on Ovi
Aerin giving astonish-face with her new DS game.
Teleri gushes over her hat and clogs.
(who is by far her favorite Bleach character.)
Melissa's Favorite - Share on Ovi
My Favorite - Share on Ovi
No surprise that Melissa's favorite is a book...
Even less surprise that my favorite is a katana. (!!!)
Technorati tags: , , ,
25. December 2008 13:28 by Jacob | Comments (1) | Permalink

A Proffitt Christmas Eve

Here are some pictures from our Christmas Eve. They're hosted on Ovi again, so you can click them for larger versions.

Making Deliveries

Every year Melissa makes goodies of some kind that we can deliver to neighbors and friends.

Boxes of Goodies - Share on Ovi
Plates ready to go.
Colvin House - Share on Ovi
All the kids are there, but you can only really see Teleri with her cowboy hat.
Bishop's House - Share on Ovi
Aerin, Rhys and Cordy deliver to our bishop. Teleri is the teen not appearing in this picture...

Watching a Christmas Movie

Each year we watch a Christmas movie on Christmas Eve. It's generally either A Christmas Story or White Christmas.

click to view on Share on Ovi
Watching A Christmas Story while eating snacks.
A Christmas Story - Share on Ovi
Ralphie and family.

Christmas Trappings

We aren't terribly good at decking the halls, but here's what we have.

Christmas Advent - Share on Ovi
We have a Christmas Advent each year—usually by Playmobile. This year it was a pirate themed advent.
Christmas Tree - Share on Ovi
Here's our humble fake tree. We've had it forever and it still looks pretty nice. Best Christmas purchase ever.
Stockings - Share on Ovi
The stockings are all hung with care on... the piano? Yeah, well, we have no fireplace and the piano works as a substitute.

Opening a Present

On Christmas Eve we pick one present to open.

Opening a present - Share on Ovi
Everybody has their present all ready to go.
Showing their present - Share on Ovi
Everybody showing their one present.

Well, that's all I could cram in here. Have a very Merry Christmas!

 

Technorati tags: , , ,
24. December 2008 22:04 by Jacob | Comments (0) | Permalink

Empty Stockings

stockings I was relating this in our Elders' Quorum meeting yesterday and it occurred to me that this would make a good holiday blog post. For once I'll do something Christmasy before, you know, Christmas.

Anyway, a stroll down memory lane.

This was in the house on Christy Dr., probably just after the twins had been born, but maybe the year after. I finally noticed one Christmas that Mom and Dad's stockings weren't being filled by Santa. I remember asking Mom about it and I believe that the official excuse was that Santa had enough to worry about what with filling the stockings of eleven kids without having to worry about the parents.

That didn't sit well. I'm not sure which of us thought of it and approached the other, but history suggests that it was probably Jannalee who came to me with the idea. Jannalee thought it'd be a good idea if the older kids, the ones who knew about the Santa thing, anyway, got together and filled the stockings for Mom and Dad. I thought the idea was awesome so we started planning.

For this post, bear in mind that pretty much anywhere I say “we”, it probably means Jannalee with possible assistance from me (and more likely hindrance). Jannalee is as organized as Mom. I was lucky to remember to wake up most days. Anyway, I know for certain that Jannalee was in charge of the stocking stuffer idea list. I might have been the only one of us that could drive, I forget, but I remember that we not only parceled out the gifts we'd get personally but also the siblings we would help get their stuff. I'm pretty sure I was the only one with an actual job, though I forget if I was working at Wendy's (now apparently a Mo's Pizza) or the Mall.

StockingStuffers I remember that I was in charge of getting Dad some new dress socks (probably on the dubious theory that as a guy, I'd know were to get them). Besides the socks I remember that we got pistachio nuts (a family favorite, but particularly loved by Mom) and we got Mom some of those pantyhose that came in plastic eggs. Jannalee was assigned those as the complimentary theory to me getting the socks. I only just now became aware of the irony of our choosing socks for stocking stuffers. We risked an infinite loop if the Universe had been poorly programmed.

I remember being truly excited on Christmas Eve that first year. I've always been a night person and my bedroom was right next to Mom and Dad's, so I was supposed to make sure we got up after they were done with their bit. I'm pretty sure that my services in this regard weren't required, though. Jannalee may even have come to get me when they were done, I don't know. Anyway, Once they were finished, we got the stocking stuffers together and we filled those two stockings until they were bursting—a fitting match for the others lined up on the fire place (which we did not rifle to see what we were getting. I don't think it even occurred to me to do so).

I remember how excited I was the following morning. I made sure that I was in the living room before Mom and Dad were—I wanted to see their faces as they realized that Santa had filled their stockings. And it turned out to be everything I expected it to be. They were surprised. Shocked even. The very best part, though, was watching them realize that they couldn't say a thing about it—not in front of the other children. Oh man that rocked.

Filling the stockings for Mom and Dad became a yearly tradition from then at least until I left for BYU. Probably then, too, as I'm sure I came home for Christmas.

I'm not sure why Mom and Dad weren't filling their own stockings on Christmas. Things were pretty tight with dad beginning his second career and with the twins filling the family out to an even baker's dozen. Whatever their reasons, I'm glad that they weren't. I was given the opportunity to experience what Christmas really is and, with Jannalee's help, learned to ask the questions that lead to gifts that have more than their intrinsic value.

8. December 2008 02:17 by Jacob | Comments (4) | Permalink

Rocking With Yngwie

One of our Thanksgiving Traditions involves hanging out with friends and playing games. We play RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, console games like Tetris, and board or word games (this year it was Boggle). We hooked up Rock Band 2 briefly this year.

One of the interesting features of Rock Band is that they release new songs you can download every week (generally for a small fee, but sometimes free). Last week saw the release of some Yngwie Malmsteen songs, including the second song ever to be released without any vocal track at all. Our friend Jay is a fan of Yngwie, so he had the new songs and told us that one of them, Caprici di Diablo, was a real killer on guitar. Jay, being the kind of friend who likes to share the pain, invited us to check it out.

We nominated Teleri to give it a try—she thinks she's getting pretty good on the ole plastic guitar. I snuck into the back with the camera, but I'm afraid that the pictures turned out pretty fuzzy. At any rate, here's some of the better pictures (click for larger image) of Teleri discovering how very hard Yngwie can be.

Casual Stance
Don't let her stance fool you, she's intense while she's playing.
Perfect Solo
That's a perfect score on the final solo of the song. I really wish this had been one of the clearer pictures.
Final Score
Her final score. This is an awesome score for a first time play through on that song.

When she was done, Jay asked Teleri what she thought. Her response: "That was fun!"

That was fun

Technorati tags: , , ,
2. December 2008 01:37 by Jacob | Comments (0) | Permalink

Family Update

It's been a while since I gave anything of a personal update and there have been some fun events you've missed out on so I'm going to shove a bunch of stuff into a single post. It's shotgun blogging in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. (Some of the embeds won't come through on an RSS feed, so be aware that you may be missing stuff if you're reading this in a blog aggregator.)

Salt Lake City Anime Convention

Melissa took Teleri and Aerin to the Anime Convention October 25th. They have been planning this convention outing for months with their friend Rowan. Melissa and Rowan's Mom, Julie, went with them along with a stray cousin or two. Julie even dressed up (which is apparently the custom at these things). Best of all: Melissa brought the camera. As usual, I've uploaded the pictures to Ovi where you can see them with captions and tagging. I think that Melissa captioned them...

Highlight of the event was that Melissa convinced Teleri to enter the Dance Dance Revolution Competition. Anyone who knows how shy she is in person will understand how much of an achievement it was just to get her to enter the competition. She ended up winning first place! She even journaled about it (but then, she's not nearly so shy online).

Anime Banzai - Share on Ovi
Here she is with her first prize loot.

Kung Fu (without the Panda)

The next day I went up for my Orange Sash. Successfully. Oh yeah, did I mention that I've begun taking regular Kung Fu classes?

Kung Fu Orange Sash - Share on Ovi

Halloween

Melissa was also sharp enough to catch Halloween on camera. By the time Halloween rolled around, Aerin managed to get herself so grounded she's still trying to dig herself out so you'll see that she's missing from these pictures.

Road Construction

November has been mostly pretty quiet, though they've torn up the street near our house. This morning I was woken by the house shaking. The whole house. That was entertaining, let me tell you. Just for kicks, I took pictures of the guys doing real-man work in the cold early hours.

Construction - Share on Ovi Construction - Share on Ovi
Side shot along our house That's our back fence
26. November 2008 13:41 by Jacob | Comments (0) | Permalink

I'm Mushy

I continue to be a sucker for online quizzes. I picked this one up from my cousin Juli. Apparently I'm rather bland...

You Are Mashed Potatoes
Ordinary, comforting, and more than a little predictable
You're the glue that holds everyone together.
 
Technorati Tags: ,
21. November 2008 13:53 by Jacob | Comments (0) | Permalink

Cascade Springs Pilgrimage

Twice a year, the LDS church holds a world-wide conference. The talks are awesome, but since there are four general sessions, we like to break them up a little bit. We have a long-standing family tradition that we drive up to Cascade Springs between the morning and afternoon sessions on Saturday of the fall conference. It's a beautiful interlude. The advent of conference reminds us that Fall is in full swing and we'd better get up there if we want to catch the colors in the mountains.

This year, we were a might over-scheduled on Saturday, so we went up between the Sunday sessions. My Mother and Grandmother went with us, though MamaGinger couldn't walk the trails. It was a great day for walking about. It had just stopped raining and was still lightly clouded. This made it just cool enough that walking was a pleasure.

And, since I brought my camera, I've post new pictures to Ovi. I've commented them there so if you want the full story you might want to hit my Cascade Springs channel.

10. October 2008 08:48 by Jacob | Comments (0) | Permalink

Calendar

<<  August 2014  >>
MoTuWeThFrSaSu
28293031123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
1234567

View posts in large calendar