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Dec 10, 2010

Austin's View on Evolution

Many Latter-day Saints are hostile to some views of science, such as evolution. Having just finished my Foundations Science class at college, I have come to learn the answers to the following questions.

Is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints hostile to real science?
Not at all. Sometimes we think that the prophets should be able to tell us anything we need to know. But this would eliminate our responsibility to "study it out in our minds" and to make our own educated choices. It would also make hard work and research obsolete, which is a sign of true dedication to the search of knowledge. The Church is not hostile towards science; in fact it promotes science and the search for truth by physical means. The Church's purpose, however, is not to divulge such knowledge, but to focus on spiritual matters that will save us in the end. Thus, leaving science to the scientists.

How can you distinguish between authentic science and "...vain philosophy, human theory, and mere speculations..."?
If some theory has no basis whatsoever, or if an idea has had no work put into it to try and prove its veracity, then there is no reason for us as God-fearing human beings to believe in it. However, if there is a study done with much debate, research, and evidence, we are invited to consider it for ourselves and to give it credit. We should approach all science with an open mind; just because the Bible says we were "created in the image of God," the theory of evolution, which was and is in fact very thoroughly researched, isn't automatically disproven. To be ignorant is to be as all atheists are, and also many Christians who discredit the hard work of intelligent scientists.

Do the scriptures tell how man was created? Explain.
The scriptures tell us many laws, including physical laws, and we know that God is a god of order and balance and covenants. They also tell us that God created the earth, the heavens, and all things that in them are. The scriptures do not, however, tell us exactly how God did these things. They were written millenia ago to peoples who did not understand science at all, and many who were illiterate. God knew we were curious about our origins, so He told us in simple words as words to children, which we are. Just because He said "Let there be light," and there "was light," does not signify that it was that simple. Creation was undoubtedly an intensely complicated process, and to explain it to the simple Hebrews of old would have had no effect. With the little that we comprehend today, they understood far less.

Summarize in your own words the position of the church on science.
The Church values science that is well thought out, debated, discussed, and evaluated; and overall, it values the search for knowledge. Therefore, the Church promotes science as long as it is not mere speculation or opinion. The theories that exist today can and do harmonize beautifully with Gospel doctrine, because God is not a god of deception. He did not create a world in one way and then lay a series of deceptive tricks and artificial evidences seeking to thwart his knowledge-seeking children. Moreover, a Creator so Supreme and intelligent did not create races of "mistakes" that died off as experiments and went extinct. We should always have an open mind. The Church values, above all else, progression. And we should progress towards the day when we will know all things.

Dec 6, 2010


I just got hooked on an awesome game, and took three of my siblings in to the addiction. Minecraft! It's a fun constructive game where possibilities of construction are endless! Right now I'm making my own world on it and making a fictional journal about it. Here's a screenshot of a piece of my work:
In this picture you can see, rising out of the forest, a scarlet tower. The staircase is already built, and the walls just need refinishing. Besides this tower I'm working on, I've also built a castle, several small houses, a Great Bridge, and a mountain tunnel.
It's an awesome game and I suspect I'll be hooked for quite some time. You're invited to join and share your construction accomplishments!

Wikipedia article
Minecraft Website

And if anyone can figure out how to make a private server... let me know. Cuz that'd be awesome.

Nov 27, 2010

List of Old Computer Games

My little brother and I grew up playing computer games back when they didn't need cool graphics or even sound to be enjoyable. Does anyone else remember any of these old computer games? I would love any info on them.

  List of Old Computer Games I Remember  
(ones in bold are ones I've played within the past 5 years)
  1. Xargon
  2. Museum Madness
  3. Jazz Jackrabbit
  4. Jill of the Jungle
  5. Hocus Pocus
  6. Shell Shock
  7. Marshmallow Duel
  8. Billy the Kid
  9. Word Rescue
  10. Commander Keen
  11. Hexxagon
  12. Heretic
  13. Doom
  14. Cosmo
  15. Duke Nukem
  16. Dr. Quandary
  17. Treasure Mountain
  18. Tyrian
  19. Stargunner
  20. Brix
  21. Oregon Trail
  22. School Mom
  23. Dark Colony
  24. Prince of Persia
  25. Wacky Wheels
  26. Nephi's Quest
  27. Mr. Do
  28. Lode Runner
  29. The Incredible Machine
  30. The Lost Vikings
  31. Bagman
  32. Arabian
  33. BusyTown
  34. Chessmaster
  35. Rat Poker
  36. Battle Chess
  37. WarHeads
  38. Lords of the Realm
  39. Kings Quest
  40. Gobliins
  41. WarCraft I, II
  42. Cyber Gladiators
  43. Manhole
  44. "Storybook" games (Just Grandma and Me, etc.)
  45. Turnaround Turtle
  46. Tank Wars / Scorched Earth
  47. The Jumpstart series
  48. Thinkin' Things 2
  49. Firefight
  50. Rogue
  51. Zork
  52. Paga
  53. Thexder
  54. Kye
  55. Lemmings
  56. Primal Rage
  57. Zipzap Map!
  58. Paganitzu
  59. Math Blaster
  60. One Must Fall
  61. Money Town
  62. Droidworks

Nov 22, 2010

A magical camera trick

This video represents the "Help Austin Get Adobe Premier" fund. A worthy cause, if I may say so.

Nov 14, 2010

Poem #2: Ode to My Distant Homeland

I wrote this poem while far away from my hometown, Rexburg, Idaho.

Ode to My Distant Homeland
by Austin Ballard

Rexburg, how I miss you!
Your dry air and gleaming calm
Melting the lingering heaps of snow
They ever call to me below.

The springless cold of springtime
Without humming bees or flowers;
But instead dripping drops onto brown grass
It brings a drippy tear to my eye.

Your sweatless glowing summertime
And the smell of cut green lawns
Fills me with joy and passes swiftly
And I awake while the sun yawns.

Rexburg's perfect autumntime
With cool wind but glorious sunshine
Crunches leaves and welcomes new friends
And new beginnings, tho the year ends.

And comes the wintertime; Welcome guest
whose blue snowflakes cover the frost
Sometimes they stay or fade from the ground
And return on the morn without a sound.

The wind or the calm
Of the snow or the sun
Melting or freezing watery days
Always I'll yearn while I'm away.

Nov 11, 2010

Quite Small Tales volume 1

Below are a few of what I call "Quite Small Tales." Each one is a true story I have heard, and each has a moral, but I'm not going to tell you what it is. That's up to you to try and guess. And yes, the names have been changed.

Jimbo was struggling with a relationship. Should he break it off or keep trying? After much debate, he decided to break it off. On the way to his girlfriend’s house he passed a Nike sign that read “Just do it!”
“Yes!” thought Jimbo.

Bango lived in the 80’s, when Cabbage Patch Kids were a big fad. The fad was so large that his 6-year-old daughter was shunned at school for not having one. So he set out with his wife and daughter out to try and find a Cabbage Patch doll for her. Bango went to Kmart, but they were sold out. He went to Walmart, but they were also sold out. He went to the mall, he went to Toys Я Us, he went to every toy store he could find, and all were sold out of Cabbage Patch Kids. Bango was disgusted, as he hated the ugly dolls, but he wanted his daughter to fit in at school. Finally, they found a single Cabbage Patch doll in a corner of a department store, probably hidden for someone who wanted to come back for it later. It wasn’t the doll his daughter wanted, but she agreed to take it as it was all they could find. The doll’s price tag said $12.00, but Bango and his family had to pay $89.00 for the Cabbage Patch Kid.

One night, Dingo rented a DVD from the video rental store. He took it home and put it in his DVD player, pressing the play button. As he began the movie, he realized with dismay that it was a widescreen setting, incompatible with his square TV. The image was stretched in the center of the screen, twin black lines at the top and bottom. Dingo frowned, but with no other option began to watch the movie. After five minutes of watching, Dingo forgot completely about the lines and enjoyed the film.

Nov 7, 2010

A brief metaphor of love

Yes, this is cheesy, but when I come up with a striking metaphor, what can I say? I gotta write it down.

Love must be sought out firstly, which may take much time and effort. But when we find it, we will know it was grown just for us. It is necessary for Love to be planted in a firm, rich soil of morals and values. Without such a foundation, it will fall quickly to disrespect and indifference. Love must be watered with compassion and consideration. To neglect such a necessity would parch it of thirst for empathy and understanding. A part of Love is affection, which adds a growing warmth that helps sustain it. And yet there are those who neglect to water their affection with temperance and scorch their flower of Love to withering with burning lust. Such a delicate plant as Love must be nourished with great care and commitment, for only with time and patience will such a sprout of infatuation become a sprig of friendship, a sapling of respect, and finally an immense tree of the deepest love, firmly planted and strongly nourished, able to stand forever and ever reaching ever closer to the heavens.

Oct 31, 2010

Recipe #1: Compost Toast

I invented this utterly DELICIOUS recipe when I was 12, inspired from "Suicide drinks" and similar foods. Its deliciousness has never gone obsolete. What's your opinion?

Compost Toast
"Just like Austin used to make!"
  • 3 slices bread
  • Margarine
  • Peanut Butter
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Jam(strawberry is best)
  • Honey*
  1. Preheat the toaster to 310 degrees. Just kidding. Just toast the bread slices till they have that sort of light brown shading on them.
  2. Put the remaining ingredients on the toast in the order listed. This order has been tested many times and is the only way the Compost Toast can work correctly**. Tampering with the formula could result in gross toast.
  3. Eat the toast and be prepared to repeat. It may be necessary.
Yield: 3 slices(I purposefully made it easy to divide: 1 slice = 1 Compost Toast. But you'll want at least 3)

Washes down well with...  Milk. Juice would taste gross after so much sweetness.
* Honey was not part of the original formula of '01, but it has been found to add and not subtract from the savor of Compost Toast.
** The margarine serves to melt into the toast so that it adds a robust flavor and makes it so the peanut butter doesn't melt. Sugar and cinnamon on top of this but beneath the jam does seem impractical, but mixed with the jam on top with the honey does not bode well. The preceding order and formula is approved by Austin.

Oct 20, 2010

//Vivdhilnn Viventh inn ko Avlethizh Zlo'o//

Can you guess which children's song this is?

//E ri'idhozh iyzh ko yenshiy ansh yazh shish e jo'o?.
Vivdhilnn viventh inn ko avlethizh zlo'o..
J'vlensh khac flizh mo jyz a nej jylvlec
Frijimc viventh lozh fobilo mu ouoc!.
E ziysh zhadh ann almbyr ansh madh a zloazh
A vivdhilnn farr kazh yiysh j'morr ji jyo'ozh

Ezh yacn-nizh loarru ji. fyzh ezh jo'omosh zhi fo
Vivdhilnn viventh inn ko avlethizh zlo'o..//

The correct guesser will win an "I speak Amoledhese" T-shirt.
That was a joke. But I could make an "I speak Amoledhese" forum avatar if you'd like...

Confused? Go here.

Oct 15, 2010

Pandora Radio Nostalgia

Here I am doing homework, and listening to Pandora Radio(link); I've found the perfect station to listen to if you want to send your mind back through time 8 or 10 years. I keep feeling like I'm riding on a bus with plump foam cushions with patchy corners.

I was a weird kid in Middle School(which here in Rexburg is grades 5-7), in that I A) loved school lunch and B) loved riding the bus. School lunch I loved because every day it was something different, someone else measured the portions for me, and I didn't have to do much thinking with details, like at Subway(too many choices!). In fact, I actually enjoyed the food itself and miss it today.

The bus was made a super fun experience for me and my small group of friends. When we got bored, we made decks of cards to play against each other(similar to Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering, only cooler), or simply stretched our imaginations out and larped. We didn't really listen to the radio much off of the bus, so it was a time to pick favorite songs back then in the late 90's and early 2000's.

For those not familiar with Pandora, you basically put it in any song or artist you want, and they program your own little personal "radio station" that only plays songs similar to the one you typed in. You can imagine my bombardment with flashbacks, then, when I made my own called "Two Princes Radio."

Anyone familiar with the music at the time I was in Middle School will remember such songs as "Two Princes," "Semi-Charmed Life," "Kryptonite," and "Pinch Me." When and why did music have to degrade to just sung segments followed by incessant rapping? What ever happened to the simple, upbeat drums and electric guitar that made you feel like you were a little kid enjoying summer vacation? Where did the times of simplicity and warmth, jumping on the tramp over the sprinkler go? Why did I have to grow up and move away, and have to worry about being popular, or making money, or driving a car?

I'm sure this era of music described this way is dedicated to me personally, and probably means little for all of you, if anything. But is a little longing for the simple times of childhood out of order? Yes, I must drive to work and to college now... but there will always be in my mind the simple times when all I needed was a bus.

It's the perfect time of day
To throw all your cares away
Put the sprinkler on the lawn
And run through with my gym shorts on
Take a drink right from the hose
And change into some drier clothes
Climb the stairs up to my room
Sleep away the afternoon

--Excerpt from "Pinch Me" by the Fullydressed Men

Oct 12, 2010

Essay #1: Life

Don't you just love life? Don't you just love coming to consciousness every morning? Then after awhile you take everything in and remember your plans for the day; the sleepy feeling wears off after time and you begin your routine?

Isn't it great how we take off the pieces of cloth that are wrapped around our bodies and step into a basin and let water run all over us? Isn't it amazing how putting pieces of prepared animal pieces or fruits from trees into our mouth and swallowing them into our stomach makes that empty feeling go away? When our throat is dry, we can pour liquid down it.

While we're doing these things we may take sheets of paper with thousands of little symbols on them and stare at them. Sometimes we listen to noises that sound good to our ears.

Then we step into the giant metal casings and wheel on the rocky paths, sometimes the liquid inside the casing runs out and we have to go to a place to put more in. We can't just take it and pour it into the casing, though. We have to have little slips of paper or tiny pieces of metal. The people who own the liquid let us have some in exchange for the little papers, or sometimes we take out a little piece of plastic and swipe it on a box, and they let us have some anyway.

Isn't it fun to buy those little wrapped objects? It makes our mind happy to roll them around on our tongue and let them melt and mix with our spit.

Life is beautiful. It's enjoyable to see others just like us every day, and vibrate our vocal cords and move our tongue and jaw when we're around them. It's also a pleasant experience to find those others we like more especially, and wrap our arms around them and feel them close.

Life is amazing! The closing of our eyes when they get dry from being open, the letting in air and letting it out when it's old, the moving of our eyeballs around and seeing light reflect off of surfaces and the colors. The air moves around us, other animals move around and we can hear their voice boxes. When our skin feels crawly, we run our fingernails across it to make it feel normal again.

Life is an excellent thing. When we're through with all our activities we come back home, switch our cloths again, and lay down on a big sack of foam. After awhile, our eyelids get heavy and we forget everything. Images may run amuck in our mind for awhile, but we always come back to consciousness in light again.

Life... don't you just love it?

Complainin' Hour Episode 2: Immaturity Continues

Welcome to another exciting episode of COMPLAININ' HOUR! where Austin dedicates an entire post to complaining about some awry aspect of his life. Feel free to join in the fun!

"Complaining is not annoying; it is whining out loud, outside of a paper or keyboard that is irritating."  Anonymous

Oct 11, 2010

Ancient Essay #1: Time is a Tool

This is an essay I wrote for English 111 in 2007. It was based  on my odd conceptions of Time itself and its passage in our lives. It's interesting that reading it years later satisfies the very point it's trying to make.

Time is a Tool
Austin Ballard

This last summer I chose to occupy my time with a lawn-mowing job. The job consisted largely of riding on a relatively slow-moving mower across wide ball and recreational fields, pausing my vegetating mind only to reach the other side and turn around to make another swipe.
The mower emitted a lot of noise while working, and there were a couple of ways to cope with it. I could blast music from my iPod louder than the mower to cover its sounds up, or I could drown the din out with my own thoughts. Only a couple of days did I choose the former, though it might have been wiser, for my sanity’s sake, to do it more often. Most of the time I just let my thoughts go wild. In many cases it was a good thing. I could just sit on my mower and ponder the great questions of life, such as time, love, or thought itself. After three months of mowing, my mind had had its share of corners it had dug itself into. I eventually came to complicate my life’s everyday thoughts quite nicely.
The thing about mowing lawns was the fact that I mowed the same properties, once a week, five days a week. I came to realize how extraordinarily odd it was to look back one, two, three weeks previous at the same property. Soon I began to lose track, and that fascinated me. Time itself, I realized, passes faster than I ever realized it to.
Imagine, for example, this essay. You have read three paragraphs so far. You may be able to look back in your memory to when you were just reading the title, or the first paragraph. At the time, you had no idea, perhaps, what the rest of the essay contained, but at this time you are finished with nearly half of it, and soon this entire paper will be nothing but a memory in your head.
It was these sort of past and future observations that I came to think about, and they caused me to look at the world (and my life) differently. I decided after awhile that there was barely any “present” at all, but rather the past quickly consuming the future with a little bit of time to react and control it. This concept was overwhelming to me more than once, especially while mowing. I thought I was going insane, that my life was passing too quickly. At this rate, I thought, I’d be an old man looking at my gargantuan past, with little future left, in no time.
Fortunately, I discovered as well that time could be useful. For example, the summer was hot most of the time, but every once in awhile a cold, brisk, rainy day would present itself. I much preferred to be hot than freezing cold, at least at the time, and these days were miserable, to say the least. But I used my perception of time to manipulate my mind. “It’ll all be a memory soon,” I told myself. And it was. And it is. Those rainy, cold days are over now and in fact at this moment I am quite comfortably warm. Perhaps when this essay is read I am not, or I am sick or in some other way inconvenienced, but those problems will pass as well.
Time indeed passes quickly, as is proved my writing this essay in the first place. My summer is a memory, and soon will my time at Brigham Young University, and everything else. It is important, I’ve realized to write in my journal and record these swiftly-passing moments so that I can learn from my fleeting past and prepare for the lunging future. And when an unpleasant day shows itself, it will pass soon enough, and hopefully not without a lesson learned.

Oct 9, 2010

Theater #1: The Vending Machine

(Cut to a police station. Inside is a vending machine that has a note on it. Enter Sheriff, looking disgruntled.)
Sheriff(reading): “Out of Order… please leave money in slot and take what you want.”
(He turns around) Hmmm… two sandwiches are missing. And there’s only enough money in here for one. And I’m the only one who works here, and I didn’t eat it
(The sheriff turns around; cut to a man eating two sandwiches)
Man: What?
Sheriff: Throw him in the brig!
(Two cops appear and throw him in jail)
Sheriff: I’ll take that. (Takes the sandwich. Takes a bite of it)
Man: That one was for my wife! She’s the one who didn’t pay for it!
Sheriff: Tell it to the judge. (Finishes the sandwich)
(Lights fade. Applause.)

Oct 5, 2010

Oct 3, 2010

Poem #1: Time Marches On

Time Marches On
Austin Ballard

Drinks get warm
Food gets cold
Crackers get stale
Bread gets hard
Cereal gets soggy
Soda gets flat
Fruit spoils
Vegetables wilt
Ice cream melts
Gravy lumps
Cheese molds
Milk sours
Meat rots
Time marches on.

Sep 30, 2010

E enpontosh mu inn ranthyas!

Khou. opluinn!.

Aj wej mau khap thojosh. e shojeshosh zhi enpontosh mu inn ranthyas!. Ezh-ej dharrod Amoledhese..
Eb wiy yanzh zhi ynsholzhansh mo. bor blo zhi pecezh kej vas..

Volkhavyj e khap zhii myz zhemm inn mu khanshyj...

~ Ayzhenn

Sep 28, 2010

Complainin' Hour Episode 1: Cracked Lappy

Welcome to another exciting episode of COMPLAININ' HOUR! where Austin dedicates an entire post to complaining about some awry aspect of his life. Feel free to join in the fun!

"When [we] write down our murmurings on paper, it's not annoying."
  Very credible psychologist


So it all started last July. I bought a brand new Laptop Computer from HP and was totally stoked to use it. It was totally worth the $800. I pimped it out with all my programs that I had on my original computer and customized it like crazy. It was my new best friend! I loved the great resolution and the state-of-the-art features it had because it was a custom-ordered computer. It even had a backlit keyboard! 

We went on a trip to Washington for a family reunion, and I brought Lappy with me to keep my company on the ride. I played the awesome game Chrono Trigger almost the entire 14-hour or however long drive, and it was awesome.

But it wasn't meant to last, unfortunately.

I was shocked and quite nauseated to find my Lappy on the back seat where I left it earlier. Or rather, I was excited to play it again. What I was shocked and nauseated to find was that when I opened it, the horrible sight seen above glowed darkly into my face. Through some inexplicable way, my Lappy....had been cracked.

I called HP to find out what they could do, but I hadn't bought the extended warranty, so they could do nothing. Funny how, in order to avoid paying $200 in damage repair, you have to buy a $200 extended warranty...

They actually estimated that the stupid repair would cost $400, which of course was met with sadness from me. Luckily, the cracks in the LCD weren't bad enough(at the time) to impair my playing ability. So I was able to continue playing Chrono Trigger and WarCraft 3 without problems. Eventually, however, the burst ink cells started seeping through more and more, till the black veiny stains on the screen began to cloud over important areas of the screen that made the games hard to play.

So, to avoid paying half the Lappy's cost just to fix one part of it, we took it to a local computer store so that they could try and order a screen and do it themselves, possibly cutting the price into several halves. We took it there, they dismantled it(thus voiding whatever warranty I had left), and took two weeks of promising to find out that they probably weren't going to find the right screen. Why? Because the Lappy was so new. It was apparently too awesome to be fixed by mere mortal local comp-geeks.

I got my Lappy back and had a brief, tearful reunion with it, before biting the bullet and sending it off for professional surgery at HP's headquarters. The sending box came quickly, and it was sent away, with an estimated repair and return time of 1 week.

Exactly 1 week later, I received a voice mail that said "This message is for Austin... your laptop will have to be delayed a little bit, we are still awaiting the part to come, so you can expect your laptop to come in two weeks or less time."

I was furious, but still patient. My dad called them demanding some kind of recompense for the wait, but they simply sent it on rush order to be fixed faster.

Instead, the expected date changed to another week later. They were flustered by my dad's constant pestering of them(which was more than well deserved for somebody on their staff), but could not lower the price at all. Instead, they offered to send me a brand new laptop, equal in awesomeness, and in fact better; an upgraded hard drive and processor would be new benefits to this new computer. It would even still have Bluetooth and a backlit keyboard.

They promised it would come within a few days. It didn't. It's been since July that my laptop has been in some form of medical facility, and here I am gaining new songs, programs, and media with nowhere to put it but a "hopeful" folder on my main desktop computer.

And what's worse, they aren't possible to get ahold of these days, for whatever reason. We expect that they're just buying time for that stupid, stupid, awesome part to come in so they can fix Lappy and send him home.

I await until today.

My only question, to wrap up this episode of COMPLAININ' HOUR is this:

"HP, what if your granny had a heart attack, and has spent a month in an intensive care facility, and is waiting because no one has any organs to donate? Maybe I should take the organ donor status off my driver's license just in case that happens! GIVE ME BACK MY LAPPY!"  C

I have a blog!

Deep down, Austin always knew he wanted a blog. He had heard that it was a wise choice to make. He had always loved writing, and had loved sharing his work with others, but on a blog? ...Perhaps later.

His website, Argaenothruzil(link here), had yielded results from his closest friends, but they had all but stopped posting long ago... Something new was needed. A dimension was needed where he could retreat to and let his thoughts roam wild; where his literature and thoughts about life could be displayed for everyone to see.

This is that place. This blog is where all can be free to share the English language; to give insights on life, the Universe, and everything; to vote on polls or play around with other gadgets Austin happens to implement; even...to complain.

Welcome. Post. Enjoy. Blog. As in, the verb 'to blog.' Imperative form.