Thursday, September 8, 2011

Politics are so political

I’m not into politics. I don’t pretend to be. I prefer to stay out of most conversations because politics are so political.

The one thing I remember most from American Heritage class in college was that George Washington himself thought political parties would be the downfall of this nation. That has always had a lasting impact on me. Sometimes I wish everyone would stop arguing and just get together for one big democratic-republican group hug.

But I do care about improving our nation and understanding the challenges that we face. I also understand my civil duty as a citizen and a taxpayer. So I did the American thing and watched the Republican presidential candidate debate.

I learned a lot. Almost too much. But mostly, I learned a few things about presidential candidates.

No one answers the questions they are asked. Ever. Instead, they answer the question they wish they were asked, no matter how far of a stretch the connection might be.

I noticed a fairly consistent pattern in most of their answers: First, they preface by saying they will answer the question at hand after they address a previous question they had been itching to talk about. Next, they give a round about transition away from the question toward something else they’d like to discuss. After doing so, they find some way to bring up when and where they were Governor/Senator/Representative before or currently and what they did in that position to solve a completely different problem. Last, they try and cram as many run-on sentences as possible in one final breath after the commentator tells them, “time.”

Other ‘political’ people might understand what they were doing from a strategic angle, but I was mostly confused by their answers and left wondering what on earth their response had to do with immigration. Or Health Care reform. Or Anything. Meanwhile, they would move on to the next question while I was still waiting for the answer to the last one.

I respect these men for the things they do for our country and our freedom. It was probably just me more than anything. I was never cut out for something like politics. I’ll stick to nerdy things on the internet.

Go America!

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

According to Plan

Do you have a plan? Short term? Long term? 5-year? 10-year? Life plan?

So what is it? What's your plan?

But let me ask you this: How often has your plan changed? My guess is that you've been forced to readjust your plans several times along the way. If you hadn't, most of us would have ended up as firemen, scientists, and astronauts, or ballerinas for the girls. Isn't that what most children want to be at some point? Or something along those lines? At what point do you give up that plan and change it for a new one? 

When things don't go 'according to plan,' we are forced to abandon them and start over. But that's usually the first thing we do when something major changes or something deviates from its original course. We start to plan every detail. How things are supposed to go, or supposed to look, or supposed to happen. As if our happiness is somehow determined by the amount of life that happens according to plan.

What if you were so locked in on one plan that you missed the chance to make an even better plan? What if a door opened on plan B, but you never even bothered to stray from plan A? You never even bothered to look up and examine your surroundings.

I think it's a natural tendency for humans to try and plan everything. Whether you realize you are doing it or not. But why? Why can't we just let life take it's natural course? If you're so set on planning everything, why not just plan to let life happen? Plan for change.

Don't try and plan everything. You might miss something.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Natural Disaster Aplenty

The entire country tuned into the east coast for a riveting week of natural disasters. I had never experienced an earthquake before. I had been through a hurricane while living in Texas, but never prepared for one just days after another of Earth’s disasters.

Needless to say, it was a crazy week. I survived, unscathed. While most of the east coast dealt with emotional scars from the overhyped frenzy. I learned that people back east are much more dramatic. Which is probably why Californians and tropical residents said everyone was overreacting.

As far as the earthquake goes, it was kind of a cool experience. I felt like I was back in elementary school going through drills. Only this time for real, and with no teacher to report to once the building was evacuated. All the government employees got the rest of the day off, but people in my office decided they would go back to work within 15 minutes of standing outside.

The media blew Hurricane Irene out of proportion. I understand the risk was a lot higher because of the higher population in a dense area, but people were preparing for the nuclear holocaust.

It got me thinking about which natural disasters would the most terrifying to experience. For some reason, tornadoes are the ones that scare me the most. I used to have nightmares about getting caught in a tornado. And yet I loved the movie Twister still.

Volcanoes are another one of my bigger fears. Something about that lava freaks me out.

I’ve seen avalanches, but never been in one. I’ve been in floods, but never anything too extreme. Tsunamis would be pretty freaky. Blizzards happen in Utah (but can also be overhyped, e.g., storm of the century last year).

I think I've also always been scared of a 100-foot tidal wave coming right at me, like in the cartoons or something. Not sure when I'd ever be in that situation, but you can imagine how terrifying it would be.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Cost of being homeless

If there is one thing I have learned over the past month, it's that being homeless is a lot more expensive than I thought.

Well, at least being a hybrid homeless person is.

I moved to DC about 3 months ago. I had a great apartment and work situation. But my apartment sublease was only 2 months long. I figured at that point, I would either be hired full time by the agency I work with or I would be heading home to Utah to find something else. Instead, I was offered an extension to keep working month to month until they had more of a long-term solution for me. I didn't quite expect it to turn into what it has become now.

I didn't want to sign any sort of apartment lease until I knew at least my not-too-distant future.

And ever since, I've kinda been homeless. There have been a number of people kind enough to take me in and give me shelter. I've already jumped to almost half a dozen couches, all the while living out of my few suitcases. Currently, I am staying with family of friends outside the district with 3 small children. I've become a live-in babysitter. Didn't see that one coming.

It wouldn't be too bad, except I don't have a car either. Which has made things a bit more tricky. I have to carefully plan out where I'll be and how I will be able to get 'home'.

Being homeless has been quite the adventure. I have definitely had my fair share of never-before experiences and run ins. But what I didn't plan for was the same thing I mentioned earlier—the cost.

Imagine having to pay for public transport everywhere and eating out for every meal. It starts to add up quickly. I have already gained a new appreciation for grocery shopping. Luckily I have an employer that pays me hourly, so I haven't gone hungry or anything. Not yet at least. The only benefit to this situation is not having to pay rent on an apartment. 

And if that's not enough, throw in the added pressure of being a young, single and LDS. That means dating. Which in turn means paying for two instead of just one. It can be hard enough with a home and car, but try taking both away. Call me old fashion, but it never gets less awkward to ask a girl out and then ask if she wouldn't mind picking you up too.

I am learning to enjoy the situation. It's definitely once in a lifetime—in the sense that as soon as I have a family/wife, not having a guaranteed roof over our heads won't fly.

Maybe the opportunity cost will be worth it in the end. Until then, call ahead if you want to come visit, because I could be in any number of locations.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Investigative Citizen Journalism

If you know me at all, you know I’m a die-hard Utah Jazz fan. I feel personally invested in their success. When they lose, it physically hurts sometimes. Deep down.

So when I thought someone tried to pull a fast one on other Jazz fans like myself, I put a stop to it.

Here’s what happened.

Gordon Hayward became a fan favorite at the end of the season last year. After being the 9th overall pick by the Jazz last year, he started slowly and struggled to find success. But now he is viewed as one of the building blocks for the future of the franchise.

He is fairly active on Twitter, and I have been following him since the day he became a Jazzman. I knew the things he would usually talk about and the way he would typically say them.

Well, one day, I caught wind of a Gordon Hayward profile on Facebook. Not a fan page like most athletes have, but one that anyone could actually request to be friends with. This was the first red flag. For a professional athlete to only have that many friends was strange. And for those of you who don’t already know, Facebook puts a stop to people who reach a certain limit of friends.

But it was worse than just having a profile. He was actually responding to almost every wall post and comment on his page. That’s when it started to get really out of ordinary. No way he would have time to respond back to everyone. I talked with other people about it, but most of them seemed to believe it was real.

To me it seemed obvious it was a fake. All of the pictures were taken from a Google image search. He would post the weirdest things. Stuff that not even a dumb NBA player would write about the NBA commissioner, let alone a class act in Gordon Hayward. And he would never even mention his girlfriend, which he never stops talking about on Twitter. Plus there were no real pictures of the two together. He pretty much just seemed like a different person.

Well, Gordon fever seemed to be taking off in the Salt Lake area. Every day it seemed like more and more of the people I knew were becoming friend too. So even if it was real, the exclusivity and cool factor of being friends with an NBA player was gone.

So I decided to do some investigating/experimenting. I wrote on his wall that the account was fake. And very soon after that the comment was deleted, I was defriended, and he had blocked my account from viewing his.

Seems strange for a real person to be worried about something like that. I mean, if someone called me out for not being the real me, I’d just comment and ask what they were talking about. The guilty are always more nervous.

That’s when I knew. So I updated my status to let everyone else know. And even then, a lot of people still believed him. At least, they didn’t really have any other reason not to believe him.

So I decided to go right to the source. Luckily, on Twitter, celebrities have a little blue check next to their name to prove they are a verified account. I figured it was a long shot, but told him what was up. Here’s what happened:


And the rest is history. Mystery solved.

So I guess I can always try a career in detective work if nothing else works out.

Don’t worry Gordo. I got your back.

Go Jazz.


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Monday, August 8, 2011

What's in a name

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m not the first. With a name like Scott Stevens, I can’t expect it to be very unique. I love my name, but Scott, and Stevens are both very common names. Put them together and it doesn’t get much better.

But that’s not the worst part.

I always liked having a famous athlete share my name growing up, even if it was a hockey player. That just meant I could never Google my own name like most people and see what came up. But that was a minor sacrifice. I could live with that.

But it gets worse.

Most people can’t say they are the only ones in the world with their full name. A few more in their own country, and again in their own state. But what about their own family? You’d think everyone should at least be unique among family members. Not including deceased members, and making an exception for George Foreman’s children.

That’s what most people don’t know about me.

I’m not even the first Scott in my own family.

I have a hand-me-down name from my older brother.

I’m sure if my mom ever reads this, she’ll have some sort of explanation. But there may always be some scar tissue.

My older brother is named Nathan Scott Stevens. My parents wanted both of those names for their boy. But when they ended up having another boy just three years later, they decided they could actually use Scott as a first name.

It’s been recycled.

It never dawned on me growing up. It wasn’t until I was older that I started to realize how cheated I had been. You might ask, so why not go by your middle name? Well, that’s a tough decision for a child to make on his own. Self-imposed name changes never seem to go over too well. It’s like trying to give yourself a nickname.

When you share the same name as your older brother, I guess you learn to be more creative in other areas to try and stand out.

Despite obvious copyright infringement, I still like my name. Plus I am the only one in the family named after a relative other than our father—Lloyd comes from my grandpa. So that will just have to make up for the rest.


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Thursday, August 4, 2011


I met this girl yesterday and she asked what I do. When I told her advertising, she immediately asked me to try and sell her on something.

I then proceeded to slap her in the face.

I’m not a salesman.

And advertising should be more than just a sales pitch.

I got one of my first jobs because they told me I’d be working with advertising. But all it turned out to be was making cold sales calls. I quit after two weeks. Ironically, I got into advertising because I hated ads. It sometimes makes no sense. But I plan to make a difference.

Advertising doesn’t have to be the annoying 30 seconds you fast-forward on DVR to get back to the good stuff. Why not make advertisements the good stuff in the first place? Then, people will want to interact with your brand rather than fast-forwarding through it.

She apologized when I explained all of this.

Of course, I didn’t actually slap that girl in the face. It was a metaphor for me slapping her in the face metaphorically.


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