Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hawaii Bowl

I love June Jones. I was always really impressed with his Run and Shoot style offense at Hawaii. The offense wasn't predicated on the players, but rather the style of play. He was able to take just regular QB's and turn them into passing monsters and most teams had a very difficult time stopping them. Unfortunately for him, Hawaii left him kind of high and dry and so he went to SMU. This will be a big, emotional return for him. The Mustangs had a rather remarkable season. Ever since receving NCAA sanctions back in the 80's, they've struggled to say the least. Now with Jones comes new hope.

Of course getting by Nevada is going to be difficult. The Wolfpack boast a fantastic rushing game in their Pistol offense. This season they had three 1,000 yard rushers, but that's all meaningless now. The only rusher they can count on is QB Colin Kaepernick because their other two are out, one due to academic ineligibility and the other due to a toe injury. Of course I would say Kaepernick is the most dangerous one, plus he's the QB so the most vital to have. This should be a fun game to watch because of the explosive offenses. Both teams also struggle with defence so they should really run up the score. I'm predicting a 10 point victory for Nevada. I don't think the lack of their rushers will be enough to slow them down against a mediocre SMU team.

I predict the Wolfpack to win 44-34.

ESPN has this as a rather lopsided contest, but I'm not sure their computer simulations were run without the Nevada RB's.

Day 4: 1-0 Overall: 3-2

So I didn't see the game last night, but I know the Utes were down 14-0 pretty early so I'm reasonably surprised to see they came back. Definitely not happy about that, but there's always a silver lining to everything. The best part was the fact that somebody hired an airplane to fly over the stadium and taunt the Utes with a banner that read "We won. You lost. You are classless." Pretty awesome. I'm probably going to watch the game sometime today and see what I missed, sounds like it was probably a pretty decent game to watch. And as I said leading up to the game, Coach Whit really knows how to get his guys going for the bowl games. Still a pretty tame schedule for the bowl games today, only one. Then we get a day off for Christmas and I get the Christmas gift I want, 3 bowl games the next day. I love being able to watch bowl games all the time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Poinsettia Bowl

Before the Las Vegas Bowl, I felt like I had this game pegged as well. We had seen pretty strong play from the Pac-10 this season for the most part, so it seemed only logical that they would have a good bowl season. As was mentioned about 50 times during the Las Vegas Bowl, the Pac-10 went undefeated in bowl play last season. They're off to a rough 0-1 start this season and may be in position for an 0-2. Jahvid Best is not playing for Cal and Utah proved a formidable opponent for the Pac-10 Champion Oregon Ducks.

Maybe Best being gone isn't that serious. His replacement, Shane Vereen, has been rather respectable himself. Of course the Cal season was a rather serious disappointment. Also, they were run over by the same Oregon Ducks that barely beat Utah the week before. The Golden Bears ended their season with a disappointing loss to the University of Washington. Cal coach, Jeff Tedford, has always impressed me and I've enjoyed what he's done up there for the Golden Bears. The question is, will it be enough?

Seeing BYU's drubbing of Oregon State last night gave me some serious pause about how good the Pac-10 really is. The Beavers barely lost the Civil War, yet were completely run over by the Cougars. Now maybe there are some pretty reasonable explanations to this. The wind obviously just did not work out at all for the Beavers, versus the Cougars learned to work around it. But that is part of the game and at the end of the day, the Cougars adapted better so they got the W. As I've stated, Utah really gave the Ducks a run for their money. Utah coach, Kyle Whittingham, does a really good job of getting his guys fired up for big games. There always seems to be a better intensity out of the Utes than I see out of the Cougars and I hate Whit for it. (Random side note: that's a pretty lousy picture of Coach Whit on his Wikipedia entry, but of course it's still not quite as embarrassing as this) Also, Whittingham seems to develop great game plans for situations like this and takes exactly the right risks to make everything work out for his team in these kinds of situations. Undeniably Utah has some pretty gifted athletes on offense and they still play a very intense brand of defence even after losing so many starters from last year.

Yet again, before yesterday I was all set. I was determined to pick Cal. But after reconsidering this game a bit more heavily from talking to some friends and seeing just how unimpressive the Pac-10 can be, I have to go with Utah. I think the Utes will win by a touchdown, but I hope their game looks more like the BYU game and they play the part of OSU.

I predict Utah to win 24-17.

ESPN expects this to be a close one as well, but gives a slight edge to Cal.

Day 3: 0-1 Overall: 2-2

Well I think saying I was way off on my BYU pick would be an understatement. Of course through all the "I told you so" comments I've been getting, I still didn't get anybody assuring me of a BYU victory before the game. So I'm willing to eat my humble pie and admit to mistake on that game. I can't imagine I'm liable to get one as wrong as I did on that again, so it is even more embarrassing that it was my own team that I picked against in such a fashion. Also, that was the first game I actually got to watch so that was nice. I'm going to miss out on the Poinsettia Bowl this evening, but I have it recording at home so I'll be able to watch it tomorrow. I'm going to watch the Wyoming game at some point as well because that was recorded. Bowl season is really going to start rolling shortly, I'm excited. Also, we'll see how well my prognostication goes from here. Our first multi-bowl day comes the day after Christmas. I'm excited.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Las Vegas Bowl

I'll say it right now, I think BYU is going to lose. I'm going to catch all sorts of flak for that comment from so many of my fellow Cougars about how I'm not a true fan and such, but I really don't care. This isn't about who I like as a team, this is about being objective and trying my best to make accurate picks of the bowl season. I don't think too many people care too much about what I have to say and if people actually read what I wrote for each of these games, they would probably disagree with a lot of what I have to say. So I guess I need to explain my reasoning.

First and foremost lets give Oregon State their due. The Beavers are a very strong football team that gave Pac-10 Champion, Oregon, a good run for their money. OSU has a very explosive offensive with plenty of talent in the backfield, including excellent QB play from Sean Canfield. There are definitely a lot of offensive weapons. Defence may seem a bit spottier, especially after seeing the score of the Civil War shootout.

Now on the other hand lets look at the Cougars. Obviously they have a very high power offense and an equally powerful defence when they choose to show up and play. Which defence we see tonight will have a dramatic impact on the outcome of the game. I certainly expect big games out of most of their skill players. I think one of the most telling signs is BYU's ineptitude against ranked teams, especially in the Max Hall era. Certainly the win against Oklahoma was a marquee win for any program given where they were coming from and where BYU was, however, the Cougars' performance against other ranked teams has been lackluster at best and downright abysmal against opponents such as the Utes last season. Also, OSU has a higher Sagarin Rating than any team BYU has beaten in the Bronco Mendenhall era.

Both of these teams have something to prove, but when it comes down to getting emotional and fired up for games, BYU seldom seems to find it. I think the emotion and skill crew of OSU sees the Beavers through this shootout. Expect a lot of scoring from both high powered offenses, but the OSU defence will make sure everything goes as they hope. I'm picking the Beavers by 10.

I predict a 37-27 victory for the Beavers. Please prove me wrong Cougs.

ESPN gives BYU the slight edge in this game.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 2: 0-1 Overall: 2-1

So I missed a pick pretty early. I can't say I'm too surprised because they were such largely inconsequential teams. My score pick was pretty close, I just had the wrong winner. Hopefully there aren't too many more of the smaller bowl games that get me like that. I'm pretty satisfied with a 2-1 and overall though and I'm excited for the bowl games to get more into the swing of things.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Orleans Bowl

We've come to our first bowl with an official sponsor in the name and I'm going to do my best to disregard any company that has paid enough money to have their name listed in the bowl (we're all hosed as far as the Emerald Bowl is concerned though). This is a showing of two schools that most people would rather not acknowledge even exist. Southern Miss is a team that people at least know the name somewhat, but couldn't say much of anything more. I'll bet a lot of people didn't even realize there was a Middle Tennessee State, much less name their mascot.

This is a game that I'm not expecting a whole lot of defence on, so whoever steps up to make an occasional big defence play is likely to get the win. Both power reasonably explosive offenses, but come from rather wimpy conferences. The Blue Raiders have a tendency to turn some heads it seems with every viewing I ever get of them. Of course, they're still part of the Sun Belt conference which makes them pretty lousy. I give Conference USA an edge as far as that standard. Also, this is virtually a home game for the Golden Eagles since the trip over to New Orleans is not terribly far and I think the Golden Eagles' fan base cares a lot more. The Blue Raiders certainly have something to prove, I just don't expect to see it tonight. I give the game to the Golden Eagles by less than 10.

I predict a 42-34 victory for the Golden Eagles.

ESPN thinks this will be a reasonably close one as well.

Day 1: 2-0

The picks looked like they went pretty well and no overly big surprises. I did pick Wyoming-Fresno State to be a close one and I would say double overtime qualifies for that. Rutgers beat up on UCF even more than I expected, but it was pretty lopsided as I anticipated. Unfortunately I didn't get to catch either of the games, so I really don't know a whole lot about how they played out. I'm hoping to catch at least some of the game this evening, but I've got some plans that I know will cause a conflict at least some of the time. Only one game today though, rather slow day. Should see my pick on the game up shortly.

Friday, December 18, 2009

St. Petersberg Bowl

Ready for one of the more boring bowl games? This is definitely it. You get a battle between two sets of Knights, Rutgers Scarlet Knights (they like to pretend they're fancy or something) and the University of Central Florida Knights.

I haven't seen either team play much this season and couldn't even pretend to name a player from either side off the top of my head. That being said, I still expect Rutgers to take it to UCF. Rutgers has a 4 year bowl game win streak going on that I really don't expect to see stopping this year. Coach Greg Schiano knows what he's doing up there and can get it done. It's been surprising to see him fall off as much as they have, but it's hard to argue with the bowl game record.

I predict the Scarlet Knights by 14+, 38-21 Rutgers.

ESPN's Accuscore gave this game a surprisingly close rating.

New Mexico Bowl

The first bowl game of the season is the New Mexico Bowl. Neither team is from New Mexico (of course I'm pretty sure there's only 2 in the state) and neither one is particularly good. Wyoming looked terrible for most of their season this year. And frankly, other than giving BSU a slight scare, I'm not sure Fresno State has looked all that good either.

Obviously you have to be on the lookout for Bulldog runningback Ryan Mathews. He poses a respectable threat for any team, especially for a team as lousy as Wyoming. Of course the Wyoming quarterback, Austyn Carta-Samuels, turned some heads in a lackluster MWC this season by winning freshman of the year honors.

I think Fresno State isn't all that strong this season, versus they're playing a Wyoming team that is on a serious rise. For those reasons, I give the game to the Cowboys by 3. Wyoming is going to have their work cut out for them, but I just don't see the overall play of Fresno being that good. This should have a reasonably high score because Fresno doesn't play great defence, but Wyoming is still going to have a hard time stopping Mathews. I predict a 31-28 victory for Wyoming.

For further breakdown, check out how crazy ESPN thinks I am.

Bowl Kickoff

Well today is officially the first day of the bowl games so I'm going to start up my breakdown of the bowl games again. I don't feel quite as up on college football this season even though it doesn't necessarily seem like I saw any less. We'll see how it goes. The goal is to have a breakdown of every single bowl game and my running total on my picks.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What Does She Have to Do With Basketball Tickets?

So I went to The Rockets website off a link from Ball Don't Lie's 10 Man Rotation. And I saw this banner ad:

Call me crazy, but I don't think she's working the phones... There would be a lot of poor, ignorant, redneck fans out there if they could only figure out how to get on the internet.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Comic Books

"You know what this has to do with? The man in the cape--I bet you he is mixed up in this! I don't trust men in capes."
"You can't cast aspersions on someone just because they're wearin' a cape. Superman wore a cape. An' I'll be damned if I'm gonna stand here an' let you say something bad about him."
"All right Superman's the exception."

- Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza in The Chinese Woman

So I think I was a pretty typical little boy. I played sports, loved video games and cartoons. Also, my friends got me into comic books. Comic books are pretty amazing. I mean you collect them, they have value, and they're fun to read and look at. The funny thing about it too, you could talk about comics and superheros for hours. I mean come on, everybody has imagined having super powers. And then there's also all the speculating on exactly how super powers work and such.

So the other day I was talking about Matty Cakes because C. had commented on my previous blog post. C. is one of my most faithful readers and I love her for it (and I will give her blog a shameless promotion right now. Seriously, go check it out it's fabulous and will totally brighten your day). Now C. does some very interesting things in her writing. If she ever quotes herself at the beginning of her posts, it's always as C. However, she quite often refers to herself as Smalldog, being both the name of her post and her chosen pen name. This interesting contradiction struck me as being a bit odd. So I wondered why the disparity exactly. Are C. and Smalldog different personae? C. is a darling, intelligent girl. Smalldog often has a fierce bite and describes her circumstances as "Ever been bigger on the inside than you were on the outside? Happened to me…" suggesting some ferocity on the inside of that small frame (yes, C. is small in stature). Is C. Bruce Banner and Smalldog The Hulk?

This is just a simple example of how comic books really can be applied to everything. Even in the beginning, comic books often had their own lessons to teach society. Clearly the classic characters were not typically as jaded and conflicted of characters, but rather they stood for things like "Truth, justice, and the American way!" The X-Men, which is definitely my favorite comic book series, was all about teaching the idea of accepting others that are different than you. The movies took this to another level by having some major anti-homophobic overtones undoubtedly due to the influence of openly gay director Brian Singer. Many of the comic book movies have taken up the charge of teaching moral lessons. I even had a Sunday School class in which the teacher referenced Spiderman 3 because he saw the major theme as being the idea of forgiveness. Really it is amazing what can be found in these comic books.

Because of all of this, it really is possible to apply comic books to pretty much everything in life. There is almost always some sort of connection that can be drawn from comic books and it makes me happy. I thoroughly enjoy looking at the parallels and realizing that one of my best friend's has The Hulk for a wife. Also, Matty Cakes is kind of like Professor Xavier because he's severely confined by his current physical limitations but capable of great things with his mind. Psycho T is kind of like Beast, the physical feats he's able to accomplish are just unreal. And Nancy Drew is like the the one wimpy superhero that everybody is always having to bail out and always whines all the time. There's also that guy in my fantasy sports leagues that is always my Lex Luthor. Thankfully I know I can take a stand against him for the sake of "Truth, justice and the American way!"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Convent

Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?
- Hamlet in The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Act I Scene iii

So I moved into a new apartment recently, it's called Coventry Apartments. But the joke went around pretty quickly amongst the roomies, even before we moved in, of calling it "The Convent" since nobody could seem to keep the name of it straight and Coventry and Convent aren't too far off. I'm starting to realize this place may very well live up to its nickname quite well.

The whole moving process got off to a really rocky start. First, we had a terrible time getting up with the manager to move in on our scheduled day. Thankfully, on the day before our move-in he finally gave me a call back. Of course this was where the bad news began. Now I suppose I should preface this with the fact that I wasn't overly impressed with this place when we visited. I thought it felt a bit small and seemed a bit rundown. Of course me and what's left of the 203 boys were hoping to stay together and it was hard to find a 4 man apartment this late, so I reluctantly signed on with the rest. Well as I spoke with the manager on the phone he informed me that somebody was told by the original manager that they could stay in our apartment until 2 days after our move-in date. This presented an obvious problem so he asked if we could switch apartments. I didn't see any large problems with this so I agreed.

Then came the time for the actual move-in. As I walked into the apartment I was reminded quickly just how tiny the place was. Also, this particular apartment looked absolutely trashed. It had been cleaned mostly, but the walls were just a mess and the carpet was lousy. Also, it became very apparent just how tiny the kitchen area really was (I didn't pay too close attention the first time) and the lack of a full sized fridge and stove. Needless to say, I wasn't too happy. I was given another rude awakening when I found out that they were shared bedrooms because one of my roommates claimed it was single bedrooms. I proclaimed to Psycho T and Nancy Drew "Who do I need to kick in the junk for this?" I was definitely not happy and I wanted somebody to experience my pain and wrath.

Luckily we informed the manager that this apartment was not up to par for us and we would like to move into our originally planned apartment. He was fine with that, just I had to live out of my suitcase for another couple of days before we moved across the way. I can't even tell you how much the difference was like night and day. The walls were painted and the carpet seemed like it had been replaced sometime in the new millennium. Almost everything was in better shape and just looked nicer in general. This was at least livable.

Of course I think the real problem of why I may very well be doomed to an eternally celibate lifestyle by this apartment is the fact that it still is rather dumpy and small. It definitely is not a good way to impress girls to invite them over to your crummy little apartment. Oh well, not like my dating life has had much of anything to it for quite some time anyway.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Remember When 203 Had a Blog?

So the 203 Blog is dead. It was sad to see it go, but it pretty quickly became a Matty Cakes and me production (which would make for a great production company name, I should copyright that) and even that fizzled out eventually. That being said, I guess it would be good to give a quick rundown of the legendary 203.

So Jefe went and got married. Yep, it's done. It was a fun reception and a fun wedding day. One of my favorite parts of the day was listening to the father of C. recount the whole experience of her dating from his end. He's over in the UK so he would only hear much through phone calls and kept notes on a spreadsheet. Basically Jefe was the only normal one and eventually he became the only one.

Jimmy graduated and is now doing an accounting internship out in the San Jose area for KPMG. He's living with his parents and he sounds like he's having a lot of fun. KPMG took all the interns out to Disneyworld for a week earlier in the summer and he's made himself a nice little purchase of a new 2010 Prius. Pretty sweet. In the fall he's getting his MAC at Utah State so he won't be our roommate anymore. It definitely brings a tear to my eye.

Jordan (I need a decent nickname for him) is off in Chicago doing a PR internship. I haven't heard much from him, but he sounds like he's doing well and it must be an incredible internship.

Psycho T is working as an athletic trainer for sports camps on campus. He really sounds like he's enjoying it, but we don't see him too much because he's always pretty busy.

Matty Cakes is still working and hanging out. He's become my new buddy to run around town with. Of course he gets to leave town for a while this week, so I get the place to myself for the most part.

As for myself, I started a new job recently at APXAlarm in the Licensing Department. Basically I make sure the reps and techs in California and Canada are licensed to sell and install. It's been a fun job and I absolutely love my coworkers. It's been a good experience.

In the fall 203 is downsizing by moving into a 4 man apartment now that were out Jimmy and Jefe. I've never lived in a 4 man place so that should be interesting. It's right next to campus which is interesting since that really doesn't make a difference for me now that I'm graduated. I'm looking to work for a while before I begin law school. Life is good though.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ode to the Remote Control

You were never there for me were you mother? You expected Mike and Carol Brady to raise me! I'm the bastard son of Claire Huxtable! I am a Lost Cunningham! I learned the facts of life from watching "The Facts of Life"! Oh God!
- Chip Douglas The Cable Guy

So early in the summer my beloved TV bit the dust (it was an Akai, DO NOT EVER BUY AKAI! one of the worst purchases I've ever made). So for a little while we braved the times without it and that was definitely a pain for me. I absolutely love movies and sports, so not having a TV was unbearable. Thankfully, my roommate, Mr. Potter, brought us a TV so now we're able to watch TV and movies again. Of course the thing I've noticed is I still don't watch quite as much as I used to, especially TV. And I think I know what the reason is for this: The TV Remote. This new TV does not have a remote. I've found it's really annoying to get up even just to turn it on, not to mention changing stations and controlling the volume. I know it's all so pathetic, but when you grow used to this convenience it really is such a sad thing to be missing it. And so what have I done in response? Just not watched much TV. I still watch movies, which I have a remote for the DVD player (although I obviously still have to put the DVD into the player) and a remote for my surround sound (which only works with the DVD player).

But appreciate your remotes people, they are indeed wonderful devices. I think back to the TV's that used to have knobs (which I have used on occasion) and it's just amazing how somebody didn't develop something like the remarkable remote control sooner.

I look forward to the day that I get a new TV and get a remote once again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Movie Review: Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

So I went to the midnight showing which was definitely a lot of fun. There were all sorts of people dressed up in various goofy outfits. The theater had even labeled the different theaters as though they were different classes at Hogwarts. I was kind of surprised the employees weren't dressed up. Obviously this movie is going to be huge, I mean the theater was having showings at 3 in the morning because so many people wanted to go see it.

That being said, here's my review: It sucked. Now I can imagine I'm going to have a lot of people screaming at me for that and I'll give my reasoning, but I suppose first I should give my Harry Potter background. I have never cracked a single one of the books. It seems like any time there's movies made from books, that's the first question you get from somebody. So I can imagine I'll get berated for that one already. Now, I have seen all of the movies, most of them multiple times. I'm not sure how many times I've seen The Order of the Phoenix, but I know it's sparse compared to the rest. That being said, my favorite one is the 4th movie, and I liked the 5th a lot too. I think you'll be hard pressed to find a bigger proponent of the movies than myself though. Most people I know that have read the books constantly lament that they just don't live up to expectation. Movies and books are different forms of communication, people need to just get over that. But seriously I love the movies. They're fun, exciting, they have good morals, the characters are very likeable and interesting. Maybe they're not masterpieces as far as a lot of directing and acting, but they're enjoyable. It's almost like I'm a kid again when I watch them as my imagination runs wild. Seriously I love the movies a lot, so I'm not a Harry Potter naysayer or anything like that. I'll admit, I'm probably being a bit harsher on this movie than maybe I should be, but when the bar has been set and the movie just does not live up to it, that's a serious problem. And I'm not necessarily saying this is about expectations that this movie would be great, but that the other movies had been so good that it seemed out of place. So take my firm evaluation with a grain of salt.

Now I'll give my spoiler free review of the movie. First it kind of bugged me that a lot of the lighting seemed a bit odd. It almost reminded me of something like 300, in that it had this hazy computer graphic tint to it for a lot of the movie which just seemed weird. There are portions of the movie in which Harry is looking at memories and this effect is exaggerated, and at those times it's sensible. However, the tint that seemed to exist during most of the movie just seemed weird and unnecessary.

The cinematography is gorgeous. Of course, like it is with a lot of newer movies, I often wonder what is real and what is simply CGI. It's really impressive to see the scenery, both in world landscapes and the details of the different rooms. I can't believe all of the miniscule details they have worked out as far as different elements of all the different rooms and such. The costumes are still great as well.

As far as the acting goes, I think the majority of the characters give pretty similar performances to what they've given thus far. If you thought the acting was good recently, you'll enjoy it now. And for the most part, I'd say the acting was quite good. However, there were a lot of things with humor and such that really seemed forced, especially early in the movie. They just seemed like they were trying too hard for a laugh. Also, Dumbledore seemed like his acting was a bit different this time around and almost out of place. It just seemed odd.

Now, why did I trash this movie so hard? The plot. I'm not going to go into the specifics right now for the sake of anybody that may not be familiar with the Harry Potter storyline, but frankly I felt like I watched a movie that was two and a half hours of not much of anything really relevant until the end when, BAM!, there's a rather dramatic change. It just seemed rather odd and so disappointing. There was very little advancement of the main storyline of Harry versus Voldemort and it just seemed really odd. This movie just didn't have the same sort of fun or excitement of the others and didn't seem as interconnected as the others.

I guess a lot of it was I felt more like I was watching a drama than the Fantasy/Adventure movies that the others have been. This movie just did not follow suit and I'm sad that it turned out so poorly. Hope the next two redeem themselves.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Titles: You Thought This One Had a Point, Didn't You?

So I read the White House Blog. It's an interesting read because of the fact it gets information out so promptly about what the Obama Administration is doing. Plus they post the Weekly Address, which I think is great because we should know what the President has to say. So recently I ran into a couple of interesting posts that mostly what I found a little odd were the titles and their relation to what was actually being said. The first was entitled "$100 million there, $100 million here". Now when I saw that I just kind of scratched my head, because with all of the spending that the government has participated in, it seemed like that was just a terrible endorsement of handing out even more cash. Really what it was about is President Obama's budget because he is seeking to slim it down by $100 million or so, which is a great thing and I hope they can accomplish such a task. Being more efficient with money is certainly praiseworthy and I applaud the administration for taking on such a task. However, this really didn't seem like a good title for this blog post. I'm all for clever, fun, witty titles but you have to make sure they convey proper messages and this particular one seemed to fail a bit with that.

The other post I found of interest was entitled "What Makes the United States Special". In this post they discuss President Obama's recent release of the "torture memos" and quote him in a speech he gave to the CIA. I found this title to be interesting; it drew my eye immediately when I saw it on the list of my RSS feed. However, I wasn't expecting it to be about the memos first of all and secondly, I didn't think their way of jumping into their post was necessarily wise. This post begins by acknowledging the release of this information, so my first thought was "So they're saying the U.S. is special because we release this kind of information," which is somewhat of a special thing so I was able to buy it. However, then it proceeds to talk about how the memos spoke of interrogation techniques, which really sent my head for a spin, because it almost seemed like they were saying "The U.S. is special because we torture people." The eventual outcome was speaking of how we're special because we don't resort to the same level as many of our enemies. However, yet again, it didn't seem like a wise use of title to text.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Quick Vids

A couple of videos I came across recently and found entertaining.

A really creepy Lionel Richie music video. Enjoy!

Mythbusters rocket sled. This is freaking awesome!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tool Time

So maybe I should just start going by Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor. Lately I feel like a tool, straight up. Of course it's really a funny circumstance. So roughly a month or so ago, it started becoming pretty apparent that very few individuals seemed to really care all that much about anybody in my apartment. Yes, I know that's a rather cruel and harsh way of phrasing it, but it's largely true (and yes, I realize if you're reading this, you probably care about me [unless you're some random person who stumbled onto my blog] and believe me, I greatly appreciate it). Frankly it just seemed like people stopped contacting us for a large part. And this was kind of midsemester, so I understand people start getting busy and such. But it's the persistence that's concerned me. It seems like this has been a continuing theme.

Around this same time I started noticing that a certain person I had at one point considered a friend only would call me if this individual needed something (I'll remove gender to blur the identity of this person a bit more, even though if you're reading this blog, it's probably not you I'm talking about). Seriously, it's bad. This person doesn't seem to hesitate and only comes in contact with me when they need something. I've printed documents,  given the person a ride, invited them to different events, and other random things. Basically I've done a lot of the things that I figure friends should do. Well, as I said, it became apparent that this individual really doesn't seem to care all that much, which makes me sad. We have had some decent history and decent conversations, but there's just been so few instances I can think of that really fit this person extending a hand of friendship. When I finally came to this realization, it peeved me a bit. And look, I mean no ill will toward this individual, that's why I'm trying to keep identities secret, a lot of this is me: a) venting and b) trying to analyze some sort of potential flaw in my own character.

So this kind of got me to realizing that I'm a bit too much of an enabler for these kinds of people. Now I will say, I can't really think of pretty much any other time that I've run into this kind of situation, at least not to this degree. Maybe I've been used before, but if I was it wasn't quite so blatant and/or repeated. But seeing the way this has played out has definitely helped me see that I do put myself out there too much. I really will do just about anything for just about anybody that asks me. It's kind of a funny quirk of mine, especially since I usually abhor asking others for anything. A perfect example of that is the fact I walked to my job early on a couple of Saturday mornings last summer because I didn't want to trouble anybody by asking for a ride. It wasn't a short walk either, probably 7 miles and I had to get up quite a bit earlier than my 7 AM shift for that reason. But I really do bend over backwards for people when they ask me to. It's kind of interesting. I don't know where I got it either, but for as long as I can remember I've had it. On the plus side, I think I'm pretty good about following King Benjamin's admonition to "not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain." (Mosiah 4:16)

So I guess it's time for some spunk as far as this. I don't know, it's a hard thing to reconcile. I know King Benjamin admonishes us to wisdom in how we help the beggar. But then again if we have the ability to help we should. I guess that's why I continue doing what I do. But frankly "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" I guess I probably picked that up at the Tea Party. So I guess the key is though, I really don't know what to do. I mean it's not like I can demand a person be my friend since that would be the most ideal outcome. And frankly I don't know that this individual realizes this is going on. But if I call the person out or start refusing I just don't know how much I can stand that on my conscience. Such an interesting dilemma. I do know I was having a conversation recently with a friend about a different circumstance and I brought up an old Albert Einstein quote. It says, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

So I guess I have some related background stories to this situation but aren't necessarily directly involved. Basically they're some other ventings that I wanted to get out but with the flow of this post being what it is, I couldn't really express it except in this way:
  • So I've started joking with my roommates quite a bit "Hey you remember when we used to have friends?" Look I don't mean this as a plea "I'm a friendless loser, please be my friend!" But it is sad when people aren't sincere friends maybe or you seem to fall out of touch for silly reasons. The sad part is, this is a bit of a standing joke around the apartment because it rings so true. We used to get visitors to our apartment, but now, not so much.
  • The other day I had a friend come over asking me to print something (different friend than the original circumstance). Unfortunately nobody in this person's apartment was able to help this individual out, but without hesitation one of the roommates says "Go ask Scott." To some degree this is a bit flattering, but at the same time it is a bit disconcerting that there's no hesitation to ask me to help them so promptly. Nevertheless, this reminded me of my feeling of not having real friends (no offense to this person who asked for my help on the off chance you read this post and realize it is you I'm talking about, I really think no ill of you, you're a very kind person) outside of my roommates and a few select other individuals. And it reminded me of my feelings of being a tool. This friend did promise to repay me in some way immediately after the exchange which is far more than I can say about the original person.
  • There is a certain young lady that we had a bit of something more going on at one point. She's a wonderful individual and I think the world of her. I've often considered her one of my best friends. However, ever since things kind of fell apart it's been an interesting experience since she stressed so heavily she wanted to keep me as a friend. I'll be honest, I don't feel like we're even friends anymore. I feel like I'm the tool in this case too. I pretty much am not contacted at all anymore, which I guess isn't quite the typical tool circumstance. But it seems like if I am, it's because something is wanted. Frankly, the things that made us such good friends aren't there anymore and we don't do the things friends do. I guess part of the reason this vexes me so much is because it seems like if there is such a stressing of keeping a friendship alive, there should be some real effort to do such and it just hasn't seemed to be there to me. Of course I understand, she's in a hard circumstance as far as that. But as one of my friends recently said to me, friend is a verb. Just talking to somebody in mostly empty ways in passing isn't really being a friend. Guess we'll see where things go from here shortly. And on the off chance that this young lady does happen to read this (and realizes that it's her I'm speaking of), I'm sorry if this offends you. I don't feel like I've put out any personal attacks and I feel like I've been pretty mature in my discussion about it. Don't hesitate to talk to me if for some reason you feel like this might be overstepping some bounds. (Sorry, I often defer to these kinds of disclaimers because while I don't necessarily feel like my speech is inappropriate, it doesn't mean others don't. I ran into a problem with that once before so I figure it's safer to just put these kinds of things in here because I would like to still be able to really express myself and my circumstances.)

So there it is. I guess now I get to figure out what on earth I'm going to do to not be such a tool. But I know one thing, something has to change because the "insanity" is going to be too much.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Provo Tax Day Tea Party

So I went to the big Tea Party today. It was an interesting experience. The rally was decent sized, they announced an estimate of 500 but the guy said he figured it had to be well over a thousand (which I think was probably more to accurate). I could definitely tell people were coming and going regularly. There were plenty of entertaining signs and interesting speeches. My roommates and I just kept giggling regularly at all of the terrible logic that was thrown out. So many things were just about getting the crowd going and motivated. I honestly think most people weren't listening hardly, they just waited for the proper moments to clap or cheer. I wish I could recall some of the good sings or had pictures of my own to show, but alas, I do not. Here's some photos my sister took:

Some of the random signs and such. "Caesar Obamius you're taxing my patience"

"Tired of paying too much in taxes? Become an Obama cabinet member"

"My piggy bank is not your pork barrel"

I must say it was a pretty entertaining experience, not only because of my satirical nature, but it was just interesting to see people rally like that. One of the funny things was the fact that there was a lot of praise for "our troops" (meaning the actual military) which I can't imagine happens too often at your typical protests. But I think the thing that really disappointed me was when they started praising Glenn Beck. I have voiced before that I am definitely not a Beck fan. Frankly I think he's kind of a moron. I know that sounds awful. I recognize he's a member in full fellowship with my Church and he's highly revered by many different individuals. However, he just seems to do things in such a dumb way. He does a great service for a lot of people and such, but I just don't get his logic in how he does pretty much anything. It's sad really and just a downright shame. I just don't get why he masquerades as a journalist but is so biased in everything he says. I realize there are plenty of others out there that are similar and some that I could go off on more (e.g. Keith Olbermann) but a lot of these individuals at least know how to separate the fact from the opinion. Beck doesn't seem to know how to do this (neither does Olbermann, he would be my liberal "news" guy I'd pick on). Anyway, I don't mean for this to turn into a rant about Beck, but it just really disappointed me because they were so highly touting him and his 9/12 thing.

I don't know how I feel about the whole Tea Party thing and such. I'm glad that individuals are voicing these concerns because my concerns are similar at the very least. I really enjoyed Rick Santelli's tirade when it first occurred. However, I didn't like some of the scope of the protest since it seemed to go to avenues that I didn't enjoy as much. For example, I don't like Obama hating. Sure, I didn't want the guy in office either. However, I'm willing to accept that he's the President and try to work with what we've got. He isn't destroying the world and there are certain things we need to take a stand on, but we'll be okay. Being that kind of extreme (and hating in general) is just going to make you look ignorant. I hope some change can come about from these protests. At the very least I hope consideration for the voice of this portion of the population is given. However, I'm a bit more cynical than that and I don't think this is really going to amount to much of anything. The money will keep pouring out of Washington and I'm not sure there will be nearly the accountability there needs to be. Either way, I'm going to keep my hope.

Here's an article from Slate about the national movement.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Movie Review: The Creature From the Black Lagoon

So I have an interesting quirk about me: I love classic horror movies. And when I say classic, I mean classic. Vincent Price* is my favorite, by far. I don't know what developed this fascination, but I really do enjoy it. Now I don't do modern horror porn or anything really at all like that, that's for sure. So most really new horror movies I don't see. I'm not a huge slasher kind of guy, although stuff like the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the 13th are all classic in their own manner (with TV edits of course, since I don't do the whole R-rated thing). But when it comes to real passion, it's more about older horror flicks. Like I said, I love Vincent Price's stuff and things like Hitchcock, Lon Chaney, or the original monster movies: Dracula, The Werewolf, and The Mummy. Well another one of these classic monster movies is The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

So I had never seen this movie before, but I knew of it's classic nature in American Monster movie history. I found a copy at the Provo Library (thank goodness for free rentals). It was really great. Now I don't think you can go into these kinds of movies thinking you're going to be scared much. First of all, the scare tactics weren't so refined for the most part back then. I think the most common scare tactic of any movie is the sudden "jump out of nowhere with a really loud noise" tactic (if anybody cares to give me an official name for that I'd be most impressed and I'll give you a hat tip for it). Undeniably that's a pretty weak tactic itself, but it's effective. However, I don't really recall it being in there, at least not to the drastic degree it is in so many movies. The "freak you out" tactics used in this movie are: lurking, eerie music, and the classic damsel turns and screams (yet again, hat tip to anybody who can get me official names). It's amazingly cheesy and fun at the same time.

 I definitely understand why this made its way into the American pop culture and the classic monster movies. The creature is something so poorly understood that likes to run off with pretty ladies for no apparent reason. Thus, for doing what it is meant to do, it does a great job. It fits its role to a T. Now I wouldn't say it's one of the best monster movies I've ever seen, but it's fun in its own way. The Creature was so popular that they made a few sequels (which were also included on my DVD so I will be sure to watch them as well, but I'm pretty sure I won't be reviewing those unless one of them knocks my socks off). But seeing as how this movie isn't necessarily a work of art in most ways, I won't dive into too heavy of an analysis on most things. The script is terribly cheesy (in a most delightful way), the acting could definitely use a little bit of help, the scenery is fantastically fake (mostly anyway), and don't expect much in the way of special effects (sorry, this isn't Transformers). The storyline is rather minimalist, but you get what you want out of it: an epic battle with some hideous, unknown creature. It's only a little over an hour so it keeps it short (now if Transformers had stuck with these dynamics or just worked on developing a real plot that might have actually been a decent movie [yes, I am going to take my shots at Transformers in this movie review]). The cinematography is really pretty good. They have some really cool underwater scenes and it was originally shot for 3-D so that's something to take into account as well. Overall, I think this is definitely a fun movie worth the watch and it is sure to provide a good time. Worse case scenario, I'm sure you could make a great Mystery Science Theater night out of it. Look for the release of a new edition of The Creature From the Black Lagoon in theaters in 2011.

Official Trailer

*Random side note, turns out Vincent Price once played Joseph Smith in a movie called Brigham Young done in 1940. Go figure.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Book Review: Band of Brothers

"And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day." (Henry V, Act IV, Scene iii)

Recently I completed reading Stephen Ambrose's non-fiction book Band of Brothers : E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest (Yes, that's the complete title) and it was absolutely wonderful. For those of you uncultured swine out there who may not have realized where the title came from, yes, it's Shakespeare. In the play Henry V, King Henry prepares his troops for battle at Agincourt. The troops were sorely outnumbered and sorely fatigued, but King Henry rallies the troops with his rousing speech (an excerpt is found at the beginning of the post). Really it speaks to the brotherhood that established in war between those men who fight valiantly side by side. In the case of Easy Company, they developed this brotherhood as well. The fierceness of battle and the ability to develop a profound trust and love for those they endured combat with was what helped them to form this brotherhood.

I will admit I was first introduced to Band of Brothers by my little brothers and the HBO series. And in all honesty, if I was to pick one, I would say watch the series instead of reading the book (Of course I will also warn that the series is not for the faint of heart. The language is strong and the violence is not for the faint of heart, so viewer beware). The book was interesting because I think it helped to see more insights into what really occurred. It was such an interesting thing as I read to follow the experiences of these soldiers and their tour through Europe during World War II. These men went through some of the most trying circumstances of the war and lost a number of their friends along the way. But I think this book has value in being read because it teaches: a profound appreciation for those who have served in the military in the past and those who continue to serve today, about leadership, and about unity and brotherhood. I do highly recommend the read.

Overall it is a very well written book. Ambrose is very readable, which extends to all audiences. The storyline is rather flowing and certainly engaging. Because of the fact it follows such a chronological history you can immerse yourself in the context of the story. The characters (and yes, I use that term loosely since clearly these are real people, such as Major Dick Winters pictured left probably the main character of the story) are very likable and you grow attached to them during their journey. As far as weaknesses, I feel like there are so many different characters that it is often hard to keep them straight. I had a similar problem with that while watching the show, even though I think even fewer characters are in the show but it was hard to keep names straight. A lot of the characters in the book are so briefly introduced that you aren't sure who to expect to keep track of or not. I did appreciate the photographs included of many of the main characters to help put a face to the names. I also feel like the flow and continuity of the story really breaks down often times. I think Ambrose seeks to throw so many different aspects into the story to keep it more historical that it somewhat discounts the actual flow of the story and sometimes these inclusions seem a bit out of place.

Of course my critiques notwithstanding, I highly recommend you take the opportunity to read this book. It will give you a very different outlook toward those who have served in World War II. Here's a couple of clips from the actual show (I'll give an overall advisory here that a lot of this is strong content, I'll give a specific advisory with each clip):

The official trailer (Suitable for most audiences)

Drop on D-Day (Moderate language and violence)

Clip of the taking of Carentan (Strong language and heavy violence)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Deadliest Catch

So anybody that knows me pretty well, knows I love the Discovery Channel. So I was pretty darn excited when I saw this the other day:

The Catch returns April 14th. Yeah, I'll be watching.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Winning the War Against Evil

So I spoke in Church a little while back and I figured I would post my talk on here. So here it is:

I’m really excited to speak today. As you know, yesterday was Valentine’s Day so the Bishopric gave me the obvious topic to speak about today: War. No, this isn’t a talk about dating, even though I’m sure most of you have likened dating to war at one point or another. And I definitely won’t be speaking about Ex-Boyfriends or Ex-Girlfriends, sorry to disappoint you. But I really was excited about this topic because if you know me pretty well, I am very much a “guy”. I’m into much of the stereotypical guy things: sports, cars, action movies. So war is a topic that fascinates me and I fueled that fire by taking a variety of courses relative to it in Political Science. Of course the war I’m speaking of today is actually the war between good and evil. My remarks today are based upon the talk given in the November 2008 Conference Report entitled “Winning the War Against Evil” by Elder James J. Hamula of the Seventy.

My objective in speaking to you today is threefold. First, I seek to help you understand the significance of the war against evil. Second, I wish that you might understand you have powerful allies to assist you in this war. And third, I want to give you an understanding of how to win the war against evil.

The war between good and evil started long before we came to this earth. The book of Revelation gives us some insight into the foundations and history of this war.
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels,

“And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (
Rev. 12:7-9)
The book of The Doctrine and Covenants also gives us some insight into this war in heaven. During Joseph’s vision of the glories of heaven he was also given vision of the great war in heaven. We read,
“…an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son,

“And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning.

“And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning!

“...[F]or we beheld Satan, that old serpent, even the devil, who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ—

“Wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about.” (
D&C 76:25-29)
The seriousness of this war is communicated in the punishment given to those who rebelled against God at this time. Satan, one of God’s greatest children, was fallen and in retaliation he sought to make war against the people of God. War is not a word to be taken lightly. In today’s society we see war so much in the media whether it be news or entertainment that we sometimes take it as something far lighter than what it is. However, war is destructive and cold. Satan seeks to assure your destruction, I can think of no simpler yet stronger way to state it. Joseph’s vision continues to explain the consequences of losing your soul to the forces of Satan:
“And we saw a vision of the sufferings of those with whom he made war and overcame, for thus came the voice of the Lord unto us:

“Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power—

“They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born;
“For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity;” (
D&C 76: 30-33)
Might I draw special attention to some of the more poignant punishments that await such individuals. They are sons of perdition, it would have been better for them never to have been born, they are vessels of wrath, doomed to sufferin eternity, and these individuals will receive no forgiveness. This is a very serious war and Satan seeks to turn you into soldiers for evil that will receive terrible punishments. In my emphasis I seek to help you understand that this war is like any war that has occurred in the history of the world, it is not something meant to be taken lightly and the consequences are most dire indeed.

The prophet Joseph Smith once stated,
"Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached, good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God.
When you did that you left neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant."
Clearly the seriousness of this war is grave indeed. We have left that neutral ground, brothers and sisters, and we must, therefore, endeavor to do our all to promote righteousness and fight the war against evil.

In political science, there are a variety of theories that I feel can be applied to this war in heaven to help us understand more fully our part in the war against evil.

One of the most basic theories of political science, as far as war, involves a tradeoff analysis. Basically one must simply understand the costs versus the benefits of fighting the war. In the case of the war against evil, I think the terms are rather simply laid out before us. By fighting against Satan, we can receive the blessings of eternity: exaltation and eternal glory crowned upon our heads and endless joy. By not fighting in this war or becoming one of his minions, we will forfeit these blessings and can potentially fall to such serious consequences as those that befall sons of perdition. Thus, it behooves us to ensure that we are willing to fight this war, that we understand very much what is at stake and practice the ways of righteousness to receive eternal glory.

Another theory is that of the power of Great Men. The leaders of nations have a great influence in the causing, development, and outcomes of wars. In the war in heaven, Satan’s evil influence caused many to fall very early on. So on this earth he seeks to do the same. However, our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are very much righteous leaders and they seek to lead us to fight for righteousness. That is why they have given us so many righteous leaders on our earth. Our bishopric are perfect examples of righteous leaders that our Heavenly Father has sent us to provide us with inspiration and guidance in how to win this fight against evil.

The great writer William Shakespeare understood the power of leaders profoundly. In the play Julius Caesar we see the rising of many great men as powerful leaders. Early in the play, Cassius persuades the noble friend of Caesar, Brutus, toward a plot of sedition through the use of his rhetoric. Cassius brings to attention the power of Caesar and the way that power is undoing the republic of Rome. Thus, Caesar is painted as an evil and power hungry leader. Of course Cassius is not necessarily much better. In his persuasion of Brutus he states, “Men at some time are masters of their fates./The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,/But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” (Julius Caesar I.ii.93-95) Cassius points very clearly that men can be the masters of their own choices and destiny, but his hunger for power is apparent in his remorse of being an underling. Fate does not control our actions and neither do the power of our leaders, but undoubtedly they do influence our actions and whether they are a good or evil leader can make all of the difference.

Later in the story, Marc Antony speaks at the funeral of Caesar. He seeks to persuade the people of the injustice committed against Caesar in his murder, but he gives this profound insight into the actions done by men, which rings more profoundly in the case of leaders, such as Caesar whom he speaks of. He states, “The evil that men do lives after them;/The good is oft interred with their bones.” (Julius Caesar III.ii.77-78) The evil influence of leaders can often be left behind but the good is often quickly forgotten. Pay close heed to righteous leaders and follow their counsel. Make sure to surround yourself with the words of righteous leaders and that you heed their call.

One of our righteous leaders today gave great insight into the severity of the war against evil this day. President Boyd K. Packer stated, “I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now.” So we live in some rather scary times, the war is more vicious than ever before, but that does not mean we are helpless in this battle.

Elder Hamula teaches us quite plainly about how to win the war against evil. He states,
“…there is only one way to win the war against Satan, and that is to win it in the same way it was won in the beginning. When victory was finally achieved in the War in Heaven, a loud voice was heard to declare: ‘Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ…For they [referring to Michael and his angels] have overcome him [referring to the devil by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; for they loved not their own lives, but kept the testimony even unto death.’

“Do not miss the significance of this declaration. Satan was overcome in the beginning by (1) faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, (2) Testimony of Him that was steadfastly kept to the very end, and (3) consecration of oneself to the Lord and His work. If this was the means for defeating him in the beginning, you can be sure that this is the one sure way to defeat him now.”
Our faith, testimony, and consecration are the keys to winning this war. This is the same solution that was given in the beginning and it will be the same solution in the end. Thankfully, Elder Hamula also gives us instruction as to how we might develop these gifts. Speaking of faith he states,
“…do as young Joseph Smith did. Find a quiet place and pray to your Father in Heaven. Do so regularly and earnestly. Prayer is a precondition to revelation. The more regular and earnest the prayer, the more frequent the revelation. When received, revelation provides the evidence or assurance of things unseen, which is the foundation of faith.”
I find it powerful that he mentions prayer as the precondition to revelation. We often speak of not receiving a witness until after the trial of our faith, this is a perfect example of that. He also assures us that as we pray more regularly and earnestly we will receive more revelation. That is a marvelous gift to have and this all collectively strengthens our faith.

Elder Hamula also spoke of developing testimony.
“…learn to hear the voice of the Lord. His is a still, small, and whisper-like voice. It is one that is felt more than it is heard. It comes in the form of thoughts, feelings, and impressions. To hear such a voice, you must be still and quiet in your own soul, laying aside your excess laughter and light-mindedness. While it may not seem easy to so discipline your life, hearing the precious, loving voice of the Lord will sustain you in every circumstance and is therefore worth every effort.”
It is interesting that he makes no specific mention of testimony, but this is clearly instruction for building of testimony. To bear witness, which a testimony is, we must have a witness born unto us. The ultimate witness is through the Holy Ghost. We must always find ways to renew that witness, strengthen the witness, and new truths to witness of. It is through the voice of the Spirit that we will achieve this.

Finally he instructs us how to consecrate ourselves to the Lord.
“….obey the word of the Lord as it is given to you. His word will not only love and comfort but invariably instruct and correct. Do as He bids you to do, no matter how hard it may seem to you, and do it now. It is in doing the will of the Lord that knowledge of Him and love for Him accrue to your soul, which leads you to be ever more willing to lay down your own life and follow Him.”
I think this was an interesting realization for me to see that really consecration is about obedience. The Lord asks to us serve Him with all our heart, might, mind, and strength but I think so often we have an attitude of thinking of consecration in the form of the United Order, a group in which all members have all things in common. Really consecration reaches far higher than that. Consecration is a setting apart of your life in its entirety for God. That does not mean all of our focus must be solely upon Church. It does, however, mean that we are always focused upon the ways of God and righteousness. We will do all we can to always do the right thing and enrich our own lives as we enrich others.

The war against evil can be won through our love of the Savior. When we put Him first, all of the other pieces will fall into place and we will be happy. The Savior knows the way to righteousness and conquering Satan, as we trust in Him we will be blessed in receiving these things.

Talk given February 15, 2009 in the BYU 122 Ward.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Myers-Briggs Tells Me That I Like Kicking Nuns

So I took the Myers-Briggs Personality Test (Hat Tip to my dear friend C. wrote a blog post about it [and yes, I do mean Hat Tip, Caitlin since I'm sure you'll end up reading this]) and no, it didn't tell me I'm a violent person. Actually I guess I am at least somewhat of a sensitive guy. I know I was pretty shocked too. I guess I'm something called an ENFJ, whatever that means. I know this isn't the first time I've taken this test, but for the life of me I can't remember how I've done before. Here's my scores:

Extroverted: 89%
iNtuitive: 25%
Feeling: 12%
Judging: 89%

And for the life of me, I can't tell you what on earth that all means. Luckily, they had some articles that do (click on the earlier link for one and here's the other). Here's some highlight quotes with some of my thoughts about it interspersed:

ENFJs are the benevolent 'pedagogues' of humanity. They have tremendous charisma by which many are drawn into their nurturant tutelage and/or grand schemes. Many ENFJs have tremendous power to manipulate others with their phenomenal interpersonal skills and unique salesmanship. But it's usually not meant as manipulation -- ENFJs generally believe in their dreams, and see themselves as helpers and enablers, which they usually are.

ENFJs are global learners. They see the big picture. The ENFJs focus is expansive. Some can juggle an amazing number of responsibilities or projects simultaneously. Many ENFJs have tremendous entrepreneurial ability.

ENFJs are, by definition, Js, with whom we associate organization and decisiveness. But they don't resemble the SJs or even the NTJs in organization of the environment nor occasional recalcitrance. ENFJs are organized in the arena of interpersonal affairs. Their offices may or may not be cluttered, but their conclusions (reached through feelings) about people and motives are drawn much more quickly and are more resilient than those of their NFP counterparts.

ENFJs know and appreciate people. Like most NFs, (and Feelers in general), they are apt to neglect themselves and their own needs for the needs of others. They have thinner psychological boundaries than most, and are at risk for being hurt or even abused by less sensitive people. ENFJs often take on more of the burdens of others than they can bear.
So I love the first line. That really is one of the biggest things I could aspire to be. I love to teach and I would love to be seen as a benevolent teacher. And I realize enumerating that sounds like I'm vain and a bit narcissistic, but I guess that's how it goes. I can very much affiliate with the manipulation thing. I know I can be a rather persuasive person, but I hate the feeling of being manipulative so I often defer from my persuasiveness so as to not be manipulative. I definitely am a "global learner". I look to learn from all elements of life and feel like I can learn from any of my circumstances and anybody I come in contact with. I think it's interesting that it mentions potentially having "thinner psychological boundaries than most" because I'm pretty thick skinned. But we never match up to these kinds of things entirely. I do often put aside my own needs for the needs of others. I can't tell you how many times I've put off homework or studying to go help a friend with their homework, papers, and studying.
Even more than the other Idealists, Teachers have a natural talent for leading students or trainees toward learning, or as Idealists like to think of it, they are capable of calling forth each learner's potentials. Teachers (around two percent of the population) are able - effortlessly, it seems, and almost endlessly-to dream up fascinating learning activities for their students to engage in. In some Teachers, this ability to fire the imagination can amount to a kind of genius which other types find hard to emulate. But perhaps their greatest strength lies in their belief in their students. Teachers look for the best in their students, and communicate clearly that each one has untold potential, and this confidence can inspire their students to grow and develop more than they ever thought possible.

In whatever field they choose, Teachers consider people their highest priority, and they instinctively communicate personal concern and a willingness to become involved. Warmly outgoing, and perhaps the most expressive of all the types, Teachers are remarkably good with language, especially when communicating in speech, face to face. And they do not hesitate to speak out and let their feelings be known. Bubbling with enthusiasm, Teachers will voice their passions with dramatic flourish, and can, with practice, become charismatic public speakers. This verbal ability gives Teachers a good deal of influence in groups, and they are often asked to take a leadership role.

Teachers are highly sensitive to others, which is to say their intuition tends to be well developed. Certainly their insight into themselves and others is unparalleled. Without a doubt, they know what is going on inside themselves, and they can read other people with uncanny accuracy. Teachers also identify with others quite easily, and will actually find themselves picking up the characteristics, emotions, and beliefs of those around them. Because they slip almost unconsciously into other people's skin in this way, Teachers feel closely connected with those around them, and thus show a sincere interest in the joys and problems of their employees, colleagues, students, clients, and loved ones.
The second article relates the ENFJ to the role of a teacher. I don't know necessarily about how good I am at learning activities, but I do know I am good at simplifying things so most others can understand. Also, I always do believe in the ability of others to learn. I think anybody that knows me, knows I'm reasonably articulate and I can (and do) speak my mind quickly and easily. I'm opinionated, there's no real surprise there. Finally, I  do have a good ability to read others. I think that is one of the gifts of the Spirit I am most thankful that my Heavenly Father has bestowed upon me. I understand people well and so because of that I am easy to talk to and it's easy for me to help others.

Here's some famous ENFJ's:

David, King of Israel
Abraham Lincoln
Ronald Reagan
Barack Obama
Abraham Maslow, psychologist and proponent of self-actualization
Ross Perot
Sean Connery
Elizabeth Dole
Francois Mitterand
Dick Van Dyke
Andy Griffith
James Garner
William Aramony, former president of United Way
Gene Hackman (I had to include Gene Hackman if you know anything about my long standing joke with James)
Michael Jordan, NBA basketball player
Oprah Winfrey
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts quarterback

Overall I'm pretty satisfied with this evaluation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


So I was reading an article from the Wall Street Journal and came across an abbreviation I didn't recognize: Messrs. It was in reference to Bernanke and Geithner and I couldn't think what it could be other than maybe an abbreviation for Messieurs, which is the plural of Monsieur. That seemed odd to me since it was the Wall Street Journal, an American paper and they are both Americans. So I Googled it and sure enough, that did the trick. Messrs. is the plural of Mister, go figure. It's kind of odd that I don't recall coming across that anytime before this in my life. Of course Wikipedia sheds a bit more light. They say it is in fact an abbreviation for Messieurs, but it's what we use for the plural of mister. Bizarre...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Scripture Study 03.10.09

I continued my study of the Sunday School lesson today. I went through the study manual and answered the questions. Here's what I had to say.
• Read D&C 25:5, 14. What are some ways that husbands and wives can help each other in times of difficulty?
- Husbands and wives can help each other by offering consoling and comfort. Also, being humble helps greatly because we can find so much more joy in others. Husbands and wives can offer so much to each other by simply being patient, kind, and loving. In a marriage there needs to be a realization that you are working toward the same goal similar to the realization that you are working toward the same goal as our Heavenly Father. When we understand these things, we are more likely to succeed in our marriages and bless the lives of those around us.

• How can spouses show that they delight in each other?
- Spouses can show they delight in each other by being appreciative and speaking kind words. Always being thankful and complimenting others helps them to understand that they are important to that individual and that they find joy in what they’re doing.
It was interesting to see a bit of this focus on the ideas of marriage and how spouses can help each other.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Participation and Finding Value

So I was talking to my friend LeeAnn on Sunday. It was interesting to listen to her "get on her soapbox" as she put it. Basically a lot of what she was talking about is how people are so unwilling to appreciate what they have now, but rather look too much toward things like the grass being greener on the other side (and on the off chance you happen to read this LeeAnn and you feel like I misrepresented your ideas please correct me and I'll update this accordingly). It really is amazing though how much we find discontent in such simple things. We're seldom satisfied with what we have and are therefore convinced that something better must be out there. So often we think we find it, but really the charm of something new wears off just as soon. It's really more of a fascination with the novelty of things that are new and different.

Much of the context LeeAnn was speaking of was that of the ward. It's really easy to under appreciate a ward, that's definitely true. I mean we start taking things for granted so often and we're convinced that there's somebody better out there for us to spend our time with and such. Really we don't value the time we have or the people we're around enough. I mean think about the wonderful blessing that each day is. We have a new day every day to make ourselves better, to find joy, to learn, to grow, and to bless the lives of others. It is such a great thing and we definitely do not appreciate it enough. We see too much monotony in our life, when every day of our life is fantastic. I have a semi joking saying that I put on my Facebook profile that says "Every day of my life is fantastic because I get to spend every day with myself and I'm fantastic." And I do believe that whole heartedly, but my reasoning is really the key.

When we really understand and appreciate who we are, that's something that's very special. I know many people out there are not of the same belief system as myself, but I testify that we are children of a Heavenly Father who loves us dearly. As His children, that makes us pretty special. We are the literal offspring of Deity. How amazing and special is that! How wonderful does that make us! I in no way mean that to lift ourselves up in pride, but rather it is something to be so incredibly grateful for. Each and every one of God's children is so special for God would not create something that was not wonderful. We all have our flaws, but we are still children of God and that makes us absolutely spectacular.

The key to appreciating that is to continue finding such value in others. I know one of the main things I do during the passing of the Sacrament on Sundays, is I look around at all of the individuals in the congregation and I think about how special it is that our Savior was willing to sacrifice everything to make sure that they could have the blessing of returning to live with Him. When we find this value in others it's amazing the value we begin to find in ourselves and the power we have to create differences in this life.

I suppose that's why, like LeeAnn, I'm such a big fan of willingly participating as part of the whole. Too often we avoid the group, whether it be just a generalized group or it's some sort of organization like our ward. We have value and we can add a lot to the ward. Also, there are so many things that those individuals in the ward can add to us. I almost feel guilty because of the fact my sense of gratitude has lead me to see how profound of a difference so many individuals have upon me that I am drawn to these individuals because I know of the difference they can continue to make in my life.

So take the opportunity to participate. Go out and learn what you can from others. Take the time to teach another those things you value and that are important to you. I think you'll be impressed about the difference it will begin to make in your life.