Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How I offended the Freemasons​:

Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that traces its origins to the loose organization of medieval stonemasonry. Early organizational forms included lodges, incorporations, and craft guilds. It is now more of a fraternity for the upper class boys.
A few years ago, I was really into Freemasons, mostly because I had just completed the book The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown. I used to visit a Master Mason frequently while I lived in Australia.  
Salt Lake City Lodge
I know that the Masons have a lodge up in the avenues of Salt Lake City, and if you ask them nicely they might give you a tour of the building. As I google-searched Freemasons in Utah, I discovered that they had a lodge closer to where I live, in Provo.
Provo Lodge
The Provo group calls themselves Damascus #10 Free and Accepted Masons of Utah. I drove by their lodge in Provo only to find that it is quite humbler than the building in Salt Lake. The building in Salt Lake is a huge stone building with Gothic-looking sphinxes guarding the front door. The Provo lodge looks like a small grade above an elementary school portable. Before I could even contact them, I had to read a disclaimer that the Freemasons are not a charitable organization so please do not contact them with the idea of joining them and then have the brotherhood support you financially. I was cool with that, since I really wasn’t keen on joining. I just wanted to chat with them, and learn more about them and possibly score a tour of their lodge.
I received an email address to (I think) their Provo group's secretary. After a phone call and an email exchange, he invited my family and me to a Freemason barbeque.
My Invitation
I told him I would look into it. He also told me about their initiation process, which required that I had to know some local masons for at least six months and then if they felt like recommending me to the group they would proceed to do so. I told him about how I knew a Master Mason in Australia and he said that didn’t count. As I read the attached advertisement for the barbeque I discovered that it was more of a formal visit than I thought it would be. Every non-mason visitor was required to pay five dollars to get in and then the members of the masons can spend the rest of the evening evaluating you for membership. Something else with the family came up that night and I was unable to attend the barbeque with the Freemasons, which was deep in Hobble Creek Canyon. I wrote my correspondent back and said that I was sorry that I was unable to attend the barbeque but to keep me posted on future events. He never replied back to me and has shunned me ever since. I guess I failed their initiation test. 
What do you know about the Freemasons? Have you ever met one?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Roofing with Fanna and Falaina

There are tons of trends that cycle though our community. One of them last month was roofing. Yes, I never thought that this trend would take off, but right now all the teenyboppers are proclaiming that roofing is totally sick. Forget parkour, move over planking. Roofing is the new craze. I noticed that two other houses were also roofing by tearing off the old shingles and then replacing them with new ones.
Fanna and Falaina convinced me that I should get with the times and roof myself and that they would be more than compassionate enough to share a piece of their parents' roof with me so I can be sick too. Fanna said some people hire a professional to remove the old shingles before they put the new ones on but that’s too square for us. You're only cool if you remove your own shingles. I think Fascott was there too! After they showed me how to climb up on the roof, they taught all the rudiments of how to scrape off the old shingles with whatever tool you can find.
Then, after they believed that I had mastered that skill, they taught me more advanced stuff like how to remove antennas with your bare hands and how interesting the a swamp cooler sounds when you throw it off the roof. That was cool. (Apparently the swamp cooler left a crater in the backyard where the trampoline once was.) After Fanna and Falaina had finished tutoring me, I checked this off my bucket list of trends and have since moved onto other things like the Harlem Shake. 
What other trends do you recommend I try next?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Is being politically correct racist?

Prior to 1966, anybody who wasn't a Caucasian male usually got the least of (if any) benefits in employment, education and other societal perks. There was something called the Jim Crow era, when America was so strict on race and avoiding integration that they had to make bathrooms for the white people and bathrooms for the black people and the same thing with water fountains etc. Then, President Johnson passed a law encouraging affirmative action and equal employment opportunities to all of the neglected races and classes that were looked upon by society as being lower. 
I did an entire paper in college on affirmative action and how it was good back in 1966, but now the pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction that society is still using race to determine who gets the job and who gets shafted. I found that racism is still alive and well in Utah. Not so much with black people but primarily with Hispanics. 
Over the past five years, I got to attend a company Christmas party, (oh, I’m sorry... a “nondenominational holiday” party) that always had a drawing at the end of the evening. The first two years, I observed that they just had one basket from which to draw employees' names to see who would win the raffle for prizes both big and small. The third year, they surprisingly had two baskets and two each of every prize. One basket was for all of the Hispanic, native Spanish-speaking employees, who worked in the warehouse and one was for everyone else, mainly white English-speaking office employees. When I inquired about this observation with one of the employees, he said it was because the CEO and the rest of the upper administration received complaints from the past two years that too many prizes were being given to the Hispanic employees. The party has diminished into pretty much nothing now for the following years. Why does this sound like Jim Crow to me? Everyone everywhere is so scared about making sure to be politically correct to avoid issues like racism, only to perpetuate racism into a different form. Do you think being politically correct with affirmative action could be considered racist?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A very expensive date to Malawi's Pizza

I loathed my visit to this place, perhaps for the same reason I loathed eating at every restaurant in New York City. The atmosphere is highly swanky! They must have hired out the most expensive interior decorators to give Malawi's a comfortable upperclass tone to it. Everything from the lighting, to the paint, to the cliché African tribal masks on the wall, to even details as intricate as the silverware were all swanky and unique. The food was overpriced! It was (add expletive) overpriced! The large amount we were paying, I feel, was not equivalent to the amount of food served. To dissuade its angry and hungry customers from rioting in their facility, Malawi's has inspirational banners on the wall pretty much saying you are paying a ton of money for your food to help feed the poor starving children in Africa. What a heartfelt thought and a brilliant business plan. It makes me want to start a swanky Tibetan restaurant, charge 50 dollars for a swanky grain of rice and then tell the customers through ethnic song and dance that they are feeding the poor starving pygmy natives in Tibet!

Needless to say, we had to run across the parking lot to the Macaroni Grill to eat more food since we starved ourselves to feed an African child at Malawi's Pizza. This turned into a very expensive date night for my wife and me.

If you don’t want to eat, but feel charitable, then I highly recommend Malawi's Pizza.