2011/01/17 M – New Site

Because of some agreement MSN made with this journalling site, all on-line journals are being forcibly switched from there to here by March.  I don’t know yet how it compares.  The good news is that MSN Spaces provided a nice down-loadable copy of the old web journal.  Formerly, I had to save them manually in text files.  I guess I could have saved them in HTML too…

These two weeks of school have been going normally, and I have little to say about them.  I’m enjoying my Thai class (101, with Kritsana Imvitaya; I auditted this class last winter), and I ended up being able to squeeze in Viet 102 after all [with Thanh Nguyen], which I chose to do by audit.  Earlier I had considered Hebrew, but then the teacher, Meredith, got married, and I lost a bit of my impetus for it; besides that, I’ve become some what integrated with the Viet class after the consistent fall semester.

I’m also in the International / Area Studies class of introductory Tibetan, which is only two hours per week — and in our class, because the teacher (a man, Topjor Chagzoetsang) has to drive from Bountiful or some place (where he manages a Benihana restaurant), our hours have been combined on to the same Wednesday evening.  I was thrilled during the first class when he started sharing Tibetan political lore with us — and with the visiting department guy, a white guy who specialises in Mandarin Chinese, and who almost certainly needed to hear his Chinese propaganda contradicted.  I think he was one of the two I exchanged e-mails with in 2009 when I was trying to straighten out whether I could do Asian Studies or not [oh; he’s a third guy].  Their Sinocentrism (and that of the programme structure) had helped drive me from the field.

I tried recording the second week’s class with my portable computer, but the sound quality is poor.

I had a little trouble in my English writing class when the teacher (James Goldberg) expressed some dismay after reviewing the partial draft of my first paper.  It was to be a language-related narrative, and after reviewing some examples, I realized how boring and energy-wasting it would be to produce a duplicate thesis about how special I was for having been some place and appreciated a different culture.  But excluding my foreign language experiences, I had nothing left to write about language except what poor, hyper-modern grammar BYU students have, and how stupid most of them sound when they talk, particularly girls.  The teacher became concerned that my paper seemed to make me look “judgemental”, and hoped that my thesis would end up with me realizing my error, and that the poor English of BYU children was not representative of them.  I tried to force a grin to his comments, all the while knowing that I was now at least as judgemental as I had ever been; my self-identity diverges from these dysfunctional children day by day; and that I definitely remain convinced that the constant language flubs reflect stupidity, if not theirs, then their teachers’.

There was also a girl who reviewed my draft.  She had earlier mentioned that she had become aware of the wrongness of her former addiction to the word “like”, and I had some hopes that she would be sympathetic toward my topic.  Instead, she wanted to make sure that my generalization didn’t actually include all BYU girls.  It certainly did include them all, since five or ten normal people out of over twenty-thousand educationally retarded ones are not enough to constitute an exception.  Any way, I told her that I understood that in this persuasive writing class, I did need to be aware of my audience, if I hoped to persuade anybody; also, that I wondered if this would be one of the few times the “respect others” clause that I remember from the Honour Code would actually need to be enforced, by our teacher.

I re-phrased my opening insult a little, but couldn’t think of anything else to write about, so I kept the topic.  [So, right before it was due on the next Tuesday, I’d thrown it out, having gotten the idea to write instead a historical narrative about Hosea Stout.]  [<- Of course, he later rejected the second attempt, too.]

I also have a phonetics class (with Wendy Baker[-Smemoe]) and a linguistics senior seminar class (with Janis Nuckolls), as well as a TESOL literacy class (with Neil Anderson).  I tried to take the first and last (with the same teachers) during the challenging winter semester of 2010 (a year ago), and I still have usable books for them.  I also got a Viet 102 book last spring, I think… and the Thai class fees are nominal.  Tibetan costs nothing.  With the linguistics senior class books being optional, the only books I actually needed to buy were the two for English class — but, too bad; BYU has started understocking books for some reason, probably hoping to save money, and re-ordering on demand (if students pre-pay for the order); and the English books were out of stock.  I think that’s a little dumb, so I didn’t order the books.  I may have to later, but so far, because several students lacked books, the obliging (and possibly politically leftist, according to his and his substitute-teaching wife’s treatment of a few issues in class) teacher has put some of the assigned readings on the school network for free down-load.

Any way, in my particular academic situation, I’d much rather take a hit to my grades than financially uphold the disturbed, monopolistic schemes of these text-book providers.

Last Thursday was the study-buddy orientation.  I think this is my fourth so far.  As previously, the Spanish-speakers stayed in the ELC chapel, the Koreans and few Japanese took the gymnasium, the Chinese took a nearby room, and the remaining languages (consisting of only three or four students this time) took another room.  There was a Russian, a dark-skinned guy who may have been Brazilian or possibly South Asian, and, fortunately, a Thai-speaking girl who randomly added me on Facebook last semester.  I was the only Thai-learner there, so it was a fore-gone scheduling.

By chance, back in the Chinese room, I met a Macau native.  Steve Holland, a teacher there (whom I first met in my previous Thai class, which he discontinued), had scooped up three Chinese buddies, including this Macau girl, but since she also spoke Cantonese, I knew I had to try to share her.  Steve Holland had told me that she’d been excited when she first got to the room, asking aloud who wanted to learn Cantonese.  In fact, on my way to “other languages”, I heard her and some friends talking Mandarin, and told them the Chinese room was in the other direction.

My and Myeong-seon’s friend Miyamoto Mai was among the small Japanese group.  I didn’t try for the language.  There were a bunch of Koreans again, as well as some of my previous class mates (Derek and Benjamin), study-buddy program regulars.  I met a stand-offish girl student, Kim Kyeong-ji, who apologised that she already had a study-buddy, apparently not aware or interested in the multiple scheduling that has become very common there.  She was quite superficially friendly, anyway.

Feng-yu was also there at Chinese.  Last semester she had tried to hire me for this semester, but I felt weird about taking upon myself her money and expectations.  She e-mailed me this semester, but I didn’t have time to answer.  I think I scheduled her on Thursday night for the next day.  She repeated her offer, asking how much I wanted.  I told her I only needed 35 dollars, to pay the extortionate cost of replacing the apartment key I had damaged while repairing my bike tire last week.  She was shocked, and said she could only pay 5 at the most.  I clearly didn’t want five per hour from her, though I think she is well funded from her parents in Taiwan; but, any way, at that rate, I would need to give her at least seven hours.  She ended up coming with me to the Cannon Centre for dinner, paying her six-dollar way (actually, she gave me a 20 bill, paying in advance).  I went with her only once, I think, last year; she also gave me dinner or some thing at her apartment once.

I really don’t need a new Cannon Centre companion.  I’m happy just eating alone and remembering Myeong-seon.  It’s a good deal for guests, though.  I was wondering if Mai would want to come again… but I don’t have a phone to call her…

So, I plan to meet Jenjira, the Thai student, as well as, uh… Esther Kuok, the Macavian, next Friday along with Feng-yu.  The Thai sort of post-poned our potential meeting last Friday, and I’m prepared for her to cancel entirely, like that weird, cold Vietnamese Thao Nguyen (?) last year, since she’s from the same general area and didn’t seem extremely happy at the study-buddy meeting.

Now, I’ve been a little sad these two weeks, remembering people.  Besides Myeong-seon, I remembered Heidi Ng one day at the Cannon Centre, how kind she was to me…  At home during the vacation, I had reviewed some of my Eunhee journal entries; and today, switching web sites, I read over a lot of Bomie ones, and some of Tugsuu.

I now consider it very strange that I had those experiences at all…  It’s so much nicer to be unattached, unburdened.  I seemed to learn a lot from those sadnesses, though.  I read my tormented words, and I try to miss those people again… and… it’s just a shell of the old feeling.  The silhouette is still there, but the feeling itself…

There’s this annoying plowing vehicle or some thing going very, very slowly up and down these roads; this is the third trip.  And, speaking of annoyances, I must complain a little about my latest room-mate.

Well, first… a review.  I moved in here in later August of 2009, and Braden… P., or some thing [Price], from Colorado, was here, along with Ezra Smith, from Seattle, my room-mate, and Braden’s room-mate, Scott [Thalman?], whom I almost never talked with, and who got married during the semester.  So, I guess Stetson Hallam moved in some weeks later, spending the end of 2009 here.

Oh… dumb.  Eric Freeman from Layton (?) was the one who replaced that guy.  He also decided to marry, and must have moved out… maybe also before the end of the semester.  As I recall, Stetson had some Christ-mass card here.

Any way, by January, Stetson was here.  Stupid roaring plow vehicle…  The real problem is that these windows are too flimsy to block any noise.  Noise flows freely all through this paper-doored apartment…

So, I guess James Davis (J. D.) Bradshaw came in January too; Braden moved down the hall to 7 (?).  Stetson ended up leaving before the end of the semester in April, and… J. D. also left before spring… to another building, “Sparks”, while Ezra moved down the hall to 18.  So, in spring, David Greenland, a sports fanatic who served in Italy, typically polite except for some disgusting noise-making, moved in with with Russell (Rusty) McDonald, a young man I was not highly compatible with, and Andrew Stevens, a partial Italian.  David is also part Italian through his Argentine mother.  Andrew was nice; a trumpeter; he left at the end of spring term because he would be serving a mission a month or so later.  So, he was in my room, while David and Rusty had taken Stetson’s and J. D.’s room.

In summer, Rusty moved over to 18, I think, and David’s younger brother, the soft-spoken Michael, still waiting to serve a mission, moved in with him.  My room was re-occupied by Maxim Borodin, from… I forget the town, some place in upper western Russia.  He had already served a mission some place, and had been studying at the ELC and then BYU before moving in here.  It was enjoyable having a Russian.  At the end of summer, he moved across the hall to 13.  Ezra also moved out from 18 to a house over on University Avenue.  Braden was gone from 7 by then; he might have moved at the end of spring.

So, in autumn, 2010, Chris Cunningham moved in, a friend of the Greenlands from Missouri.  He’d spent time in several places growing up, including a few years in Seoul, because of his military father.  He’s a bit tall… and, as I realize more and more, has some natural dislike of silence, always needing to talk or start humming or singing or running the sink water furiously or who-knows-what.  It gets so that you can hardly be around him without him engaging you over what is usually some thing meaningless.  In a way, he seems a little feminine, being so noisy, or else hyper-active.  He’s a bright student, though, an intelligent person, other than that behavioural issue.  For some reason, he seems to be interested in very plain-looking white girls…  He has had two girl associates, the second plainer (and more liked) than the first.  I don’t fully understand it.  Maybe it’s some thing about his background.

All my room-mates have been rather intelligent… able to comprehend grammar, and so on…

We four have remained the same this semester; I’ll be leaving at the end of it.  I think Rusty moved out from 18 after fall.  I assume Maxim is still across the hall.

Let’s see.  My work…

After the holy-days, for whatever reason, neither I nor Brother Henrichsen followed up with each other (though we saw each other on Friday as he was going to a class, neither of us addressing the topic).  Last week-end I went back to the Church History Library in Salt Lake, and I wanted to go this week-end, but failed to.  Obviously, I’m not sure whether there’s any money to pay us.  If not, that will simplify things a little, since, even lacking compensation, I still need to add to the project, but won’t be able to finish it immediately.  I actually haven’t touched it for a while, and don’t know if the group document is still accessible from last year.  I am better looking into that.

…Boy, these idioms are stupid…  I better do something?  What does that mean?  I had better do it?  Better’s an adjective…  That makes a pretty stupid modal verb…  I’ll have better if I do it; I’ve better to do it.

Ah, so.  My whole intention here was to talk about… the Proclamation correction.

I talked again with Chris last night about the Asian ward and its racist bishop.  He did his best to defend him as a sincere steward, ultimately allowing that if I remained dissatisifed with the colour-based policy, I should need to approach an authority or write a letter about it.  That started me talking about the last time I considered writing a letter to the Church… back with that grammatic error in the Proclamation to the World, a 1995 document.

I was reading that thing one day, probably in later 2003 following my mission service down-town, and I noticed a very simple disjunction of plurality between a certain noun and its appertaining pronouns.  I think it was exciting for me at the time; I probably wanted to prove my cleverness or something, like the time I found that triple N in a word (“sinner”, I think), in the gospel of John.  And, of course, I wanted it fixed, since even the vulgarest of publishments looks stupider with errors, not to mention holy writing.

I went to the Church Office Building and mentioned my grammatic concern to the desk guard, asking how I could reach the appropriate department.  He scoffed, considering me one of the rousers that he must have been familiar with in his position, telling me that I would need to write a letter, but that the Proclamation on the family wasn’t going to be changed.

Afterward, I think on the same day, or a near day, I saw my stake president down-town by chance and raised the issue with him.  He suggested his self and his superior regional representative as an appropriate avenue, telling me to write him my concerns.  I was glad to have been heard, in his extremely polite manner, but also thought I sensed some worry from him that I might be getting snagged on an issue.  Instead of pursuing it, for whatever reason or convenience, I let the matter die, though I think I brought it up once or twice over the years to my mother or people.

So I was telling this to Chris; he also was taking an initiate’s view toward inspired documents and their inspired composers, and didn’t think I had really found an error.  I went to show him; we found the document on-line…

…and the error was gone.  Ha ha…

I glanced around for it, but I knew I was already looking at its former location, and that it had been silently corrected and updated.

I was mostly glad about it, but very slightly let-down, both because Chris might doubt my grammatic judgement, and because if I had known that that security guard would have been proven so wrong, and that the document would end up being changed, I would have followed my complaint more diligently.  Still, I felt validated linguistically, as well as doctrinally, as regarded the propriety of taking a respectful view toward the language of revelation, believing that it should stand correctly, and not becoming so deferential that I’m afraid to ever voice a good opinion, mutating eventually into a farm animal or something, which this Church doesn’t need for a member.

So, any way, after a bit of research on the new and (questionably) improved web site, I discovered that as late as in 2007, quotations re-called the 1995 version:

“In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life.”

So, my long-ago complaint was in the prepositional relative phrase, “by which his children [plural] could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her [net singular] divine destiny as an heir of eternal life”.

Now, you will immediately notice that there are more agreement issues here than just these, but what I remember from my complaint was the pronouns.  As I think back, I guess I was aware of the others, though…  I must have been framing the complaint to others in just the pronoun issue.

Any way, probably this section was pre-written as singular, and retained its last half after alteration of the first part.  The end has five singular noun elements, all internally compatible:

– “a physical body” [singularly with “a”, without “-s”]
– “earthly experience” [singularly, without “-s”]
– “realize his or her…” [singularly, not “their”]
– “divine destiny” [singularly, without “-s”]
– “as an heir” [singularly, with “an”, without “-s”]

As we will later consider, both the second and fourth items may be employed either singularly, or collectively with “uncountable” status, both taking the same singular form.  In this case, anyway, the whole line was composed for a singular subject, possibly “each of us”, “each child of God”, or even “you” with the pronouns later changed to third-person, and split for gender for inclusiveness.

Clearly, the simplest correction would be to insert “each” before “His children”, re-singularizing the subject.  Otherwise, to portray the subject’s non-individual nature, the whole thing with all its parts needs to be switched to plural, giving us:

– “physical bodies
– “earthly experiences
– “realize their…”
– “divine destinies
– “as heirs

Second and fourth, again, could go either way for a subject of any number.  If it’s “experience”, then there’s a common set of experiences, or we feel no need to differentiate them; if “experiences”, then each person’s experience may be distinct (we more commonly use the collective singular form with the verb “gain”, however).  If “destiny”, then there’s a big, unifying, shared destiny of mankind.  If “destinies”, they may be notably different for every one (here again, the other two uses in the proclamation are singular, one collectively and one individually).

The document appeared to remain unchanged for 13 years; but for his October 2008 Ensign article on abortion, Russell Nelson re-phrased this very line, and either he or his editor saw the discrepancy I mentioned, and they opted to pluralize each of those items.  Then, in his article on celestial marriage for the next month, he quoted directly, and items 1, 3, and 5 were pluralized, the other two given collective singular function.  In fact, on September 25th, 2008 at the latest (the date on the .pdf file now available on the web site), the document itself had been revised to make all those changes as were found in the November article; so, presumably, it was Elder Nelson’s October article the preparation of which prompted a re-drafting of the proclamation.

…All without any publicity or worry about its financial, ecclesiastical, or doctrinal impact, as I had known would happen.  The old ones were simply and unobtrusively phased out, and two years later, you almost can’t find them any more.

You may say, “That was Elder Nelson’s job, to notice the grammar in the document he and his fellows composed; not yours, Steve.”  Yet I’m fairly certain he would have consulted his editor.  I’m equally certain that, had any body mentioned these things to him before his October 2008 talk, he would have taken the same course of action as he took.

Do we sustain them as prophets, seers, revelators, and grammarians?  Well, I sure haven’t ever heard any such doctrine.  From its incipience, this church has struggled diligently to improve its handling of the language, and has done rather exceptionally well with it, all considered.

And… about the Asian ward’s racism… is it comparable at all with this error?  Will I some day be back in Provo, and visit the ward, and see white people standing up and being welcomed into fellowship, possibly even under the same bishop, and beneath my joy at the correction, feel a rueful twinge for not having given awareness to what I found inconsistent?

Well, that’s not relevant.  I’m just glad about the grammar correction.  I’m fussier about the thing I think I have a better conceptual grasp on.  If the racism is never fixed, then maybe I read the whole situation wrongly.  If it changes, then, I’ll make it a point in the next world to find that bishop, show him my old earthly complaint, and instantly forgive his honest apology.  I guess it wouldn’t matter at all, then…  It may be that it has only ever mattered… to me, here at BYU.

And it has mattered to me.  I’ve felt hurt by it… possibly some few others have too.  And I don’t think it’s necessarily any psycho-social benefit to those Asian kids to be taught racial segregation as an implied virtue, without even any doctrinal underpinning.

But in the end, my complaint may have started and concluded in my own mind.

That’s good enough, if I learn to never cast a person out as I’ve been out-cast.  And if my children ever reflect on my complaint, and learn the same thing from it, it will have been even more worthy.

I guess that’s all I have.  This was too long.

Oh… I saw part of the last Bruce Lee movie, and noticed that that actor, John Saxon (Carmine Orrico), looked almost exactly like old Stetson, only with a shrunken nose.  I bet he could have played such a role well…

He may still.

-Steve Foster

[post: One problem with this new site is that the editting screen doesn’t exactly fit in my browser window…

While typing this, Fan from Shen Yang came on and talked a little.  My room-mate Chris returned, and I introduced the two.

Stupidly, Fan has decided to try to confuse her gender and “like” her own peers, after describing her heart as “dead” because of her former boy friend.  I find it disgusting… but, let God curse with childlessness whom he will curse.  He has cursed the entire nation of China with it.  He is cursing most of the Western world with it.

…And for all I know, he will curse me with it.

Any way, it’s a disgusting deception, to allow your own flesh and chemicals to draw you toward your own gender.  I’ve seen it too much from these weird Asians I’ve met on-line.  The time to address such a disease is at the very beginning…  Watch your selves.]

[Oh; I forgot to mention, also, that after a recent browsing of some old faces on Facebook, people I used to think I liked, who now just look very strange and unnattractive to me, disfigured by their progressing adulthood, I felt a renewed shame for having thought I would get along with them.  Revelling in my good fortune of being spared a life-time romantic connexion with such mutagenic specimens, I thought it would be a good time to purge my self socially again, and I deleted the majority of my dead contacts on Facebook and my chat programs.  Family mostly remained, a few new people remained… my students remained…  The rest, even though they hadn’t transgressed against me, and had avoided earlier deletions, or had been re-added, I realized were dead, and I liberated my self from.

Of course, after to-night’s disappointment over her new-found anti-morality — the hideous offspring of the enforced atheism of her country and political party, that some day will grow to cannibalise its doomed parent, with no protest from me — Fan joined their number.]

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2 Responses to 2011/01/17 M – New Site

  1. Heidi says:

    Where is the Cannon Center? ……You have mentioned a lot of places when my heart was with you….I always had a picture of Manila in my heart. I am always like if I ever study my PhD degree in Provo, will you ever invite me to go to Manila with you during the winter break?

    The leaders of the Church always educate us to marry the right person, at the right place and at the right timing. Has everything been a mess 10 years ago? I do not know. Maybe the place, timing and person were all right to me, but were not to you.

    I do not even have any picture of you now in the Salt Lake City….I am sad…you know to some degree. I thought I have let you go at the sidewalk in Coquitlam, but just partially…what is wrong with me?

    But at least you have found your true love. Congrats! It takes time for you to read all of my comments. I love reading your blog.

  2. Heidi says:

    If you have called me or emailed on the day you have posted this blog, I would not be someone’s else wife.

    I said my official yes proposal to him that June.

    Well….MS and you are meant to be together.

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