Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to take a moment from my hectic day (yes, I am at the office, even though the courts are closed today) and wish all of you, my friends, a Merry Christmas. May you get the gifts you want, give the gifts your friends and family need, and may you carry with you the spirit of Christ. After all, it is because of Him that we celebrate at this time of year.

May His love -- He who is to be called "Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." -- May His love fill your heart and mind, and may you receive all the blessings you need and deserve.

I will see you on the other side.

(Where did I put the Scotch Tape?)

Read More......

Friday, December 19, 2008

Global What?!?

Walking from the bus stop to the office today I had the thought: "Boy, I would take some of that California weather right now." Then I hear from a co-worker that her family in Los Angeles is walking around in parkas. I guess that 40 degrees, to them, is cold right now.

I cannot even wish for Las Vegas weather.

My friends in Salt Lake City are reporting lows in the low teens and single digits. Blowing drifts, high winds.

We are experiencing much the same around here, including record lows for December.

All that leads me to ask . . . Where the heck is this Global Warming thing?

Sorry, should I have said "conspiracy" rather than "thing"? Or is that too politically incorrect?

Do not get me wrong, I can and will accept that climate change happens.

But I cannot and will not accept that climate change happens primarily because of mankind.

You see, there's this big nuclear reactor up in the sky that has just a little bit to do with temperature, weather patterns, etc.

Compared to that, we humans are akin to parasites living off the flaky skin and dandruff of our host creature.

Case in point: When was the last time that any three so-called meteorologists actually managed to call a seven- or ten-day forecast accurately? Honestly? And then you expect me to believe that they can predict weather patterns and climate change out for one hundred years?

Really? Do you think I am that stupid and/or gullible?

I ain't buyin' your bridge in New York, or the big green lady in the harbor.

Are we really such a self-important bunch of creatures to believe that we can really have such a massive effect on a living entity so much larger than us? This is not to say we do not have an effect, but come on, really? We are going to destroy the world? We are really that self-centered, that egotistical?

Oh wait, we have to consider Al Gore. Maybe he is.

I know I am not. I am still humbled when I look up at the multitude of stars at night. I am still humbled standing at the edge of a canyon, looking down at the majesty of God's Creation. I am still humbled when I look at my hands and consider just how complex a mechanism the hand truly is. I am still humbled when I watch a storm's fury: waves tearing homes from the earth, winds destroying anything a human can erect, snow and fire snuffing out life easier than a birthday candle.

Stand against that power, O Man!, and weep. Stand against that power, and die. The chaotic life cycle and natural rhythms of the Earth are much more than we little men could ever hope to create, not to mention the effects of the Sun.

I may not be as humble as I should be, but I am still humble enough to recognize the power of God's Hand, and the ineffectiveness of Man's will against that power. I do not choose to offend God by attributing to mankind a power that we do not have. I do not choose to worship at the Gore's altar or bow to the preachings of the Warming Religion.

I choose to worship a true God and a religion of real hope, love, and truth.

Do not tell me we are rapidly destroying the Earth. Do not tell me we're all going to roast to death in a oven of our own creation.

My toes are still frozen from my commute.

Now where's my hot chocolate?

UPDATE:
Apparently I am not alone. Just saw this little piece--

CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers had never bought into the notion that man can alter the climate.... Myers, an American Meteorological Society certified meteorologist, explained on CNN’s Dec. 18 “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that the whole idea is arrogant and mankind was in danger of dying from other natural events more so than global warming.

“You know, to think that we could affect weather all that much is pretty arrogant,” Myers said. “Mother Nature is so big, the world is so big, the oceans are so big – I think we’re going to die from a lack of fresh water or we’re going to die from ocean acidification before we die from global warming, for sure.”
Wow. I feel validated. And he is not alone either; the article says that a second CNN meteorologist has taken issue with the whole global warming conspiracy religion theory.

And I am still waiting for my hot chocolate.

Read More......

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why we do it

OK. I'll admit that there are a lot of things wrong with the practice of law. There are also a lot of things wrong with representing consumers in Bankruptcy practice.

(smirk)Bet you're all surprised to hear me say that.(/smirk)

No, really. It is the absolute truth!

But I got a note from my buddy in Salt Lake this morning that made me shake my head. In a good way. All I could say as I shared it with some of the other employees of the firm was, "THIS is why we do it, day in and day out."

I will not go into the full story, but suffice it to say he had a client who was about to lose her house, sending herself and her three children out onto the streets two weeks before Christmas. The only thing that would save her was to receive a discharge from her Chapter 13 case.

She had gone through the wringer in 2007 and 2008; divorced, sole support of the family, left with HIS debts to pay off, children with serious chronic illnesses -- illnesses that affected her ability to work regular full-time hours, facing shut-off of gas and other utilities. She had received periodic help from family members in Mexico, who sent her what little they could scrape together to help her survive. She, admittedly and arguably, violated a court order by sending her tax refund this year back to her family members in Mexico who were now, themselves, in serious financial trouble.

The one high note? She scraped together everything she could so that she could receive her United States Citizenship. That, more than anything, convinced my buddy to really, really go to the mat for her. (That's what HE says. Actually, I believe that the thought of a homeless woman and her children at Christmas was what really affected his decision. The Citizenship efforts just pushed it over the edge.)

But this poor woman caught a little break: she was eligible to receive housing assistance, but the catch? She was only eligible if her Chapter 13 bankruptcy was completed.

The only way to complete the case was to keep making payments for a few more months (with money she no longer had) and to pay in her 2007 tax refunds (with money she no longer had). The only way out was to either convert her case to a Chapter 7 case (which would cost time and money she did not have) or to attempt what is called a "hardship discharge."

Simply put, this can be granted when certain conditions are met -- notably that the Debtor can no longer continue in the case because of circumstances beyond her control BUT that she is in all other respects eligible for a discharge. It is an extreme solution and, therefore, not attempted or granted very often.

But my buddy attempted it. He admits that he was not too optimistic, but he attempted it. There was little in the way of opposition to the motion; the Judge and Trustee, however, shared one concern: The use of the 2007 tax refunds in blatant violation of a prior court order.

My buddy says that he stood right up there, took several deep breaths while looking the judge in the eyes, and admitted to the Court that yes, while there was a violated order, there were good (read: humane) reasons for the violation and that in all other respects, she qualified for a hardship discharge. And then he sat down.

The Trustee's attorney then stood and essentially agreed with him, that taken as a whole, this woman deserved to get the help she had requested.

The judge looked at them both and asked, "You mean, you want me to re-write the bankruptcy code to make it 'fair'?" My buddy just smiled at the judge and the Trustee's attorney back-pedaled. The judge smiled back and said, "Well, I've done it before; Motion granted."

My buddy tells me it felt like he had been kicked in the chest; he could hardly breathe. He says that prior to the hearing his client had asked what the magic words were; he told her "Motion granted. If we hear that, we're good." He says he heard her gasp when the judge ruled. By the time they reached the hallway, his client was sobbing in joy, grabbed him in a bear hug, and thanked him for the Christmas present. She called his office afterwards to thank him again.

The joy that woman felt? I have seen it a few times in my own clients. I know exactly what my buddy was feeling.

It is the feeling you get when an elderly woman thanks you for saving her house from foreclosure saying, "This was the first house my husband and I lived in. It's where he died, and where I want to go to sleep for the last time. You saved it for me."

It is the feeling you get when a client drops to his knees in your office and repeats "God bless you. Jesus bless you." Over and over.

It is the feeling you get when a client calls you after a hearing and says she is grateful for your help "against a corrupt society." Who assures you that you are helping people whose lives hang in the balance, and that while the services you provide are often taken for granted, she does not take you for granted.

It does not happen very often, not in Bankruptcy, not in Litigation, not even in Criminal law. Not as often as it should, in my opinion, but them I admit to a certain bias.

It does not happen very often, but it does happen, and you begin to understand a little of King Benjamin's admonition from the Book of Mormon: "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Mosiah 2:17.

Due to the nature of the Practice, it does not happen often, but when it does?

It makes a lot of the other crap seem almost worth it.

Read More......

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Kiss

All I can say is that I want to know what is involved in this guy's technique:

BEIJING (Reuters) – A young woman in southern China has partially lost her hearing after her boyfriend ruptured her eardrum during an excessively passionate kiss, local media reported Monday.

The 20-something girl from Zhuhai, in southern Guangdong province, went to hospital completely deaf in her left ear, the China Daily said, citing a report in a local newspaper.

"The kiss reduced pressure in the mouth, pulled the eardrum out and caused the breakdown of the ear," the paper quoted a doctor surnamed Li from the hospital as saying.
WHAT?!?!?

The woman's hearing would likely return to normal after about two months, Li said.

"While kissing is normally very safe, doctors advise people to proceed with caution," the paper said.

Courtesy of Yahoo! news
I am sorry, but does anyone else have severe ear-pain right about now? Owwww....

Maybe my LW and I have been married too long, but I just cannot imagine the amount of "passion" required to suck someone's eardrum out with a kiss. I am no Don Juan, but I can imagine passion. This, however is just...wow. I mean, there's passion and then there is passion.

Now that I think about it, the story did not specifically say he kissed her on the mouth; maybe he kissed her on the ear? I could see that.

No, wait...it said it "reduced pressure in the mouth" so there goes that theory.


I wonder.... could this be considered a sports-related injury? I mean, I have heard it said that sex could be considered a sport, after all.

Now, before I get criticized for "assuming" and just jumping to conclusions, I want a show of hands from everyone who thinks this act of otic terrorism was just a chaste kiss.

Anyone? Anyone?

That's what I thought. I am off now to go find an ice pack for my ear.

Sympathy pains, wouldn't you know?

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008 - Update (final)

VICTORY!

Hey, I did it. I reserve the right to shout it from the housetops if I want to.

That's right. 50,000 words in 30 days. Well, technically 50,646 was the official count. Yep. I wrote a novel.

Of course, I am not done with it, but I have a heck of a good start on it. (Now I just need to keep the dedication to stay with it and finish it up.)

My LW also finished up; of course, she beat me by about 30 hours. It was the first win for both of us. I just want to tell you -- I am prouder of her than I am of me. She did an amazing job. Not only did she finish up, but she also kept me on task and pulled me toward the finish line several times.

-------------------------------
Interesting stats: I kept track of my word count every day and I will tell you, if you ever want to do this yourself . . . do not wind up with seven days of zero words. What happens if you do miss seven days? You wind up writing 28,742 words in the last nine days of the competition.

That's right. Here's my word count day-by-day, starting on November 22, 2008:

  • 4,143
  • 2,516
  • 5,145
  • 785
  • 1,519
  • 3,626
  • 6,380
  • 1,422
  • 3,206


And let me tell you, the 5,145- and 6,380-word count days? They were painful. Very painful. They certainly made the 1,667 word-per-day suggestion seem reasonable.

Curse life and those missing seven days.

But it is over now for another year.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow I start thinking about the story for the next year. 335 days to come up with a story. That, and I will be back to blogging. Ok, my family will also see a happy me again.

But tonight I am icing down my hands.

See you then.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008 - Update 5

O.K. So, after my whine-fest yesterday? Yeah. I pounded out a 5,145-word-day yesterday.

I am a bit wiped-out this morning (I am seeing contrails on moving objects -- but that just makes walking to Court that much more exciting, right?), but I figure this will help cut down the amount of writing I have to do on Thanksgiving. My family may actually want to see me that day, after all.

Thanks for all the positive karma flowing my way. I am going to need it, but I am on the downward slope.

Wheeeeeeee!!!!
(ooooo! Look at all the pretty colors!)
See you all soon.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008 - Update 4

AAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

One week left and I'm nearly a week behind.

Yes, life has been busy this November. Too busy.

Too many words and not enough time. It's all in my head, I just have to get it on paper. And that can be painful, let me tell you.

No time to blog. No time to read. No time to work. No time to eat or sleep.

Hang with me, friends. I'll be back to relative normalcy soon!

Thanks for your understanding!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008 - Update 3

More life. More intervention.

I'm now about a week behind pace; my LW is keeping pace just ahead of me. I think she thinks it is funny somehow. But she is behind as well.

You see, the Horde want to write as well. The three oldest are signed up with NaNoWriMo as well. But they have conspired to keep us behind; I am fully convinced of it.

You see, two of them have now lost their NaNoWriMo notebooks. Last week, that is. They have spent five full days moping about after I get home from work "looking" for their notebooks.

My LW and I have gone blue in the face trying to convince them to just start writing in a different notebook until we find their original notebook, then we can add them together on the computer.

They won't buy it.

And so they mope, and complain, and distract their parents from their writing.

[sigh]

Twelve short days left. Twelve.

I am not going to be eating much turkey this year, I can already tell.

Thanksgiving just won't find me overly sociable.

...and I am unplugging the television tonight.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008 - Update 2

Well, never let it be said that life cannot or will not intervene. I knew that November was going to be bad: busy bad, hectic bad, crazed bad. Here I am not even one-half way through and life has intervened whenever possible.

And my NaNoWriMo work is suffering for it.

As of bedtime last night (12:45 a.m. to be exact) I now find myself 7,716 words off-pace.

That's right. Just over four-and-one-half days behind (4.63--again, to be exact).

Life conspires to intervene. I thought I had planned well enough this year, even considering everything else going on in my life.

This is called, so I am told, "Adulthood."

Somehow, though, sitting at a desk wrangling legal issues through my brain all day makes me sufficiently tired and brain-deadened that when I arrive home I want nothing to do with the evil laptop sitting before me.

That's right. Evil.

EEEEEEE-vil. As in the froo-its of the Devil. (Thank you, Mike Myers.)

The blinking cursor mocks me.

The television goes on; I surf through ten channels of broadcast television. Nothing on. I surf through them again. And again. And again.

That's when my LW, who is also WriMo-ing, screams in frustration and tells me to turn off the television and write. She wants to inspire me, you know.

Of course, she's also 4,417 words ahead of me.

I try to read. Nothing satisfies; neither the sci-fi nor the fantasy novels on my nightstand interest me. The same with the biography. Ditto the history book. I even try the Scriptures...and find myself wondering how I could use some of the things I am reading and translate them into my novel.

That's not the best way to read the Scriptures, by the way. It is also not the best way or most conducive way to get anything out of them, learn from them, or feel the Spirit, necessarily.

That's when I start drinking: Soda, cola, water, lemonade, milk. Things of that nature. A few potato chips or peanuts to keep awake. Ultimately, I drag myself off to bed having written nothing.

Then there's the self-imposed guilt the next day. I think, "Where in my day could I steal an hour to pound out 1,000 words or so?" I feel guilty doing any work, thinking about how I could put that time to use on my NaNoWriMo word count.

Heck. I feel guilty even while writing this blog.

But life happens. Unfortunately, and despite our best laid plans. (Again, see "adulthood".)

(Now.... If I postponed two client meetings today until tomorrow, that's two hours I could have, all to myself....) Ahem. [cough cough]

UPDATE:
By the way, am I the only one that remembers the movie from which I borrowed the above picture? If anyone else can come up with the name of the movie, I would sincerely love to know about it, especially if you have actually seen the movie in question.

I think I am the only one of my friends that ever saw it, let alone enjoyed it. Talk about a movie geek. Sheesh.

Anyway, let me know if you know.

--Now back to working on my novel pleading.

UPDATE #2:

This is, by the way, 560 words that could have gone toward my NaNoWriMo. NOW who feels guilty, Hmmm?

Yep. Exactly.That's what I thought.

No one but me.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Principles of Conservatism

I can take no credit whatsoever for this post. This, my friends, is a FOAF post. ("Friend-of-a-Friend")

I received it from my old mission companion in Salt Lake City. Apparently, the author is a friend of his and, according to the friend's blog post, is "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore."

A phrase that describes a heck of a lot of us, does it not?

Well, this friend is doing something about it. Several somethings. The first salvo in taking back the country is below, in the form of "a declaration of principles." This declaration is repeated below.

13 Guiding Principles for American Conservatism
[with a few specifics & examples]

1] Respect for Deity in all Public Matters
A) The United States was founded by men of faith
B) Most Americans believe in a Supreme Being or Universal Power
C) All morals, ethics, and laws ultimately derive from religious beliefs
D) Only those directly participating in a public activity may choose whether to include or exclude religious observances as part of that activity

2] Strict Obedience to the Constitutional Principles of the Founders
A) The federal government is a creation of the citizens, through the States
B) The Constitution limits federal power and activity
C) Minimal government regulation, maximal personal liberty

3] True National Sovereignty, without which, Nothing Else Matters
A) A complete military with full power and authority to defend against all threats
B) A complete intelligence service placed and equipped to identify and monitor all threats
C) Full support for legal immigration, full prosecution for illegal immigration
D) International cooperation only in situations that profit the United States

4] State Sovereignty within the Federal Union
A) State control over local issues
B) Disbanding federal departments and agencies that intrude on local control
C) Transfer of non-working federal property to the States
D) States proactively defending against federal infringement on their authority

5] Personal Sovereignty
A) Personal privacy respected, regardless of station or celebrity
B) Private control of private property
C) Uniform national regulations on owning and carrying arms
D) Personal accountability in all activities

6] Economic Prosperity Comes through Free-market Capitalism
A) The people retain the rewards of their own labor and creativity
B) Private enterprises succeed or fail on their own merits or mistakes
C) No government sponsored, owned, controlled or invested private enterprises
D) Energy independence in the short term; new energy technologies for the long term

7] Fiscally Responsible Government
A) Lower taxes with no earmarks; decide what we need, fund what we can afford
B) A balanced federal budget (exclusive of national defense), pay down the federal debt
C) A flat-rate income or national sales tax on individuals; no corporate income or inheritance taxes; capital-gains taxed at the same rate as other income

8] The Family is the Basic Unit of Society
A) Marriage defined by law as the union of one man and one womanB) No abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or clear physical danger to the mother
C) Full parental control of and responsibility for children
D) Strict controls over so-called “adult-oriented“ industries

9] The Rule of Law
A) Legislators make law; Executives enforce law; Judges try cases brought before them
B) No judgment based on any consideration except the written law and the facts of the case
C) Zero tolerance for judicial activism
D) Photo ID required of all voters; full disclosure by all candidates

10] Real Public Service
A) Congressional terms limited by Constitutional amendment
B) No political contributions by any group receiving federal money

11] Responsible Environmentalism
A) Act as wise stewards over God’s creation
B) The American dream built with American resources
C) Return the land to its natural state when no longer in use by people

12] Constant Examination of Performance; Building on Past Successes, Correcting Past Errors

13] Teach Pro-Active Patriotism to the Next Generation; Personal Freedom tempered by
Personal Accountability



©2008 Baron Phoenix Media, all rights reserved. May not be published or reprinted commercially without the author’s permission. For more info, visit www.baronphoenix.com

— ### —

It's me again. Consider the first shot fired, Phoenix.

It may be as important as the one fired 233 years ago on the green at Lexington.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Constructive Thoughts: Signs of hate

I came across this piece on the online Los Angeles Times today. When I first opened the link I was greeted by this photo.

I always find it so interesting, so telling, that those who scream the loudest about bigotry, oppression, and hate are usually the ones so filled with prejudice, hatred for freedom of all kinds (except theirs), and who froth so freely at the mouth.

I also found it deliciously ironic that this particular sign appears right behind the spittle-spraying protestor. At least, it would be deliciously ironic if it was not so... so....

Well, let us just say that I doubt this man has love and fellowship on his mind. Not at this moment.

For those who have not yet seen the statement issued Friday from the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

It is disturbing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election.

Members of the Church in California and millions of others from every faith, ethnicity and political affiliation who voted for Proposition 8 exercised the most sacrosanct and individual rights in the United States — that of free expression and voting.

While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process.

Once again, we call on those involved in the debate over same-sex marriage to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other. No one on either side of the question should be vilified, harassed or subject to erroneous information.

"A spirit of mutual respect and civility."

Wow. What a concept.

An ever-increasingly novel concept in today's political and social discussions.

And maybe I'm guilty in this post of villifying. If anyone finds my post thus, I apologize. Perhaps I am.

But I join my voice to those of the LDS Church, as well as the Catholic Church, in urging mutual respect and civility.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Baaaaaa-aaaaaa


Well.

They've spoken.

They listened to what the rest of the world wanted, instead of what we needed. And they've spoken.


God bless America God save America.

We're gonna need it.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

I've done my duty. Now do yours.

Well, my votes are cast. All I can do now is have faith and pray.

I'm not gonna 'hope'--that's for the other guy. I am going to have faith that the real Americans out there, the ones that understand exactly what is at stake, I am going to have faith that there are enough that are educated in the process and love the Constitution. I am going to have faith that those people can convince and educate their friends, family, and neighbors.

Because the Constitution IS divinely inspired, and Satan--the adversary--is doing all he can to destroy it. Freedom and families: those are our side's two biggest weapons and the adversary's two biggest enemies.

Remember the argument the adversary made at that great council: I will bring every soul back to God. I will tell them how to live and force them to obey. They will not be required to make any choices, because I will make them all for them. And then, give ME the glory.

Look. Some of you may have different political outlooks than I do. I respect that; that's what makes our system so wonderful--we can have completely different outlooks but still be able to talk to each other rationally and in a friendly way. (OK, at least most of us. I'll leave Michael Moore and Michael Savage out of the equation.)

Just get out and vote.

But make sure it's an educated vote. Don't rely on the media. Rely on your own education and what your heart--what your spirit--tells you is important. Is it forced charity? Is it widespread welfare? Is it national security? Is it the troops? Is it the environment? Decide what is truly the most important for you and yours, and what will have the most devestating impact--for good or ill--on your freedoms, your liberty, your family, and your lives.

Yeah...it may get really cold, or really warm...but wouldn't you like to be FREE?

There are some on both sides of the aisle that seek to take away our liberties and freedom. There are those who have entered into agreements with darker forces and twisted conspiracies to gain their own power and influence over others. Watch for them, be aware of them, and do all within your power to fight against them.

You think I am kidding? or crazy? Consider this:

Ezra Taft Benson, Dwight Eisenhower's Secretary of Agriculture, the first man the US Press predicted to be outed from the administration given his staunch anti-communist and severe anti-socialist policies stated the agenda of what he called the "socialist-communist conspiracy:"

“I have talked face to face with the godless communist leaders. It may surprise you to learn that I was host to Mr. Kruschev for a half day when he visited the United States, not that I’m proud of it. I opposed his coming then, and I still feel it was a mistake to welcome this atheistic murderer as a state visitor. But, according to President Eisenhower, Kruschev had expressed a desire to learn something of American Agriculture — and after seeing Russian agriculture I can understand why. As we talked face to face, he indicated that my grandchildren would live under communism. After assuring him that I expected to do all in my power to assure that his and all other grandchildren will live under freedom he arrogantly declaired in substance:

“ ‘You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept communism outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism. We won’t have to fight you. We’ll so weaken your economy until you’ll fall like overripe fruit into our hands.’

“And they’re ahead of schedule in their devilish scheme.” (Ezra Taft Benson “Our Immediate Responsibility.” Devotional Address at Brigham Young University. circa 1968.”)
Remember...this is what we do it for:
In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children. {Alma 46:12-13.}
I join my voice to that of Captain Moroni of old: I pray mightily unto God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon my brethren.

Get out and vote.

And take your neighbors with you.

And, oh yeah....

God Bless America.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008 - Update

Here it is, the end of the first day of NaNoWriMo, and I find myself with 3,609 words so far. I'm just a little bit ahead of schedule; I plan on building as big a cushion as I can this first week or so. I'm going to need it when I run out of steam in Week 3.

1,667 words a day for 30 days. That's all I am asking of myself.

I am bound to do it this year. It will be a roller-coaster month.

Please keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times. We're on our way!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jotting Tittles: Microwaves and Zombies

I want to explain the title of this post to you, "Microwaves and Zombies."

I really want to tell you exactly what it means to me and my life.

But I can't.

You see, I have a page of notes in my little notebook, a page titled "Blog Thoughts" with a date from last month. Under that is a bullet point labeled "Microwaves and Zombies" with no further explanation.

And the rest of the page is illegible. I must have been writing (a) in the car while driving in rush hour traffic; (b) on the bus on a bad road; (c) in the dark while half-asleep; or (d) (c) and either (a) or (b).

Take your pick.

First, on the subject of liberty. Remember in the coming week that Liberty--true Liberty--is the ability to choose for one's self, researching, studying, and learning about yoru choices. True Liberty does not come from blindly following the media.

Second, how blissful it is to lie in a tent surrounded by my LW and the Horde, on a crisp summer morning far up in the mountains in a quiet, secluded valley, the only humans for miles. How wonderful to lie there and read aloud the words from the Declaration of Independence. How marvelous to see the looks on the Horde's individual faces as they hear and understand the words written 232 years ago. It's dawn and the words leave my tongue with clouds of vapor in the cool air. THAT is Heaven.

Third, just a quick thought from one of the Presidential debates last month. A statistic was cited that deductibles (in looking back I think it may have been premiums and I wrote it down incorrectly) have increased by 30% and families are going bankrupt from health care.
(A) Very few of my clients are going bankrupt because of their heatlh care costs; most of them are going bankrupt from bad housing loans or high tax debt.
(B) I am struggling myself to pay my own health care costs. But you know what? I do not want it from the Government. It's not the Government's place. Period.

Fourth, O.K., one more thought from the Presidential debates. All of my readers know that I really do not like John McCain. He may be the lesser of two evils. That is yet to be seen, I suppose. However, one cannot deny that he has not performed very well since the Convention. Heck, he has not performed well since Mitt dropped out of the race, for that matter. One wonders whether McCain is so scared of being tagged with the "attack dog" label that he has held back. The one line that stood out from the debates for me? "I'm not going to set the White House visitor schedule before I'm President. I don't even have a Seal yet." I think that if he had spent the last nine months talking like this, he would be so far ahead in the race as to be nearly uncatchable.
As it is, I am afraid he looks like an old man weakly swinging his cane at a young whipper-snapper. (Aside: I can just hear him saying, "Sarah! Help me subdue...this beast." {while panting and flailing weakly) a la Montgomery Burns.)

Fifth, my LW and I just endured a Mormon ritual that normally comes about every five years or so: the reorganization of the Bishopric. Actually, that's just the event; the ritual is, in my household, not-so affectionately referred to as "Mormon Lotto." That's the phenomenon that has its genesis the very moment that the reorganization is to occur. From that moment on, the phone lines, back fences, and now e-mails are on fire with speculation about "who's worthiest?" "who's old enough?" "who's too old?" and so on. And then, when the announcement is made, all the gossipers look at one another and nod sagely, with a "I knew it all along" look in their eyes. Not my favorite ritual, by any means. It is a painful time. Pain. Mental, emotional, spiritual.

Sixth, It's nearly November again, and do you know what that means? Yep. Cranberry-flavored Sierra Mist is available again! I had my first bottle sighting yesterday! Hooray! Cranberry-flavored Sierra Mist. Mmmmmm.......

Seventh, It's nearly November again, and as I have recently said, that means NaNoWriMo! That means 1,667 words a day. Ugh. From now until the end of the first week of November, I am going to be questioning myself, wondering whether I can really do this--whether I really WANT to do this. I have been through this before and I can sense my reluctance starting again. Somehow I have to move past the self-editing-while-writing mode and move into a writing-for-the-sheer-pleasure-of-it-just-put-the-words-down-on-paper mode. I need to be ever-vigilant for a negative attitude (as opposed to ever-viligant, which does not make any sense whatsoever).

Now.... Where's my bag of fun-size Snickers bars?!?

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Wordles

What are Wordles? From the website:

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.

Apparently, this is the footprint my Blogging has left on the world through October 2008, courtesy of wordle.net:


h/t: LDS Media Talk

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Constructive Thoughts: The Elders

Dear Elders Fowler and Marsh:

Thank you for allowing me the pleasure of seeing my old missionary apartment again. I apologize for imposing last night and dropping in like I did. Especially as I was dragging four or five friends along for the ride. I will say, to your credit, you acquitted yourselves well: You took the visit in stride, your apartment was clean, you were gracious hosts, and you behaved quite appropriately in front of my non-member friend who accompanied me. When I awoke this morning, my first thoughts were of you two good Elders and my need to thank you.

While I had friends with me, I am sorry that my wife could not join me on this trip. She has joined me frequently in the past; I am waiting for the day when I can bring my entire family along. That day will have to wait, though. I am only human and can only do so much with these trips at the present time.

It was nice to see my old area and my old apartment again. I have a lot of fond memories for that apartment and that city, as it was my second area on the island. Obviously, as you know, much has changed with the apartment, however, and I have forgotten much about the area. Time was, I could re-walk the streets of that city--each city in which I served--with my eyes closed and never miss a beat. Now? I'm afraid that the passage of time is stealing my memories.

I never thought I would say that.

I thought that my experiences and feelings were indelibly locked in my mind. They're slipping away, however, along with my vocabulary--many of the words and phrases I used on a daily, hourly basis are gone, unreachable through the barrier of time.

Enjoy the time you spend on your mission, in the Lord's service. One thing is clear to me now: you cannot go back to this time, no matter how great your want or need to do so. I remember in my own experience that there were many Elders who returned to the island to try and teach again, or to recapture the happiness and spirit that they felt while on their mission. They all failed; some of them failed miserably. I am not able to visit ofen; it is such a long way to go on such short notice, and for such a short time. Normally, my visits are preceded by a long bout of high stress. While I am there, I can forget all that stress, eat good food, talk and think in a marvelous second language, and immerse myself in my memories. The visits give me a mental and emotional vacation from my real world. I can almost feel the years melting away, the layers of my mind peeling back to return me to places and friends that I have lost.

But it is not the same.

Work hard and keep your focus. That is the best counsel I could possibly give from this far removed, both in space and in time. Work hard and keep your focus. The one is easy if you do the other; they are inextricably linked. I have only one regret about my mission. I can admit this now, although it has taken a very, very long time to be able to express this thought to someone else.

I was given poor advice by a well-meaning older brother who thought he was looking out for his kid brother. Because of the depth of the love and respect I had for him I disregarded the repeated counsel of two mission presidents (one in the Missionary Training Center ("MTC") and one on island) and listened to my brother instead. I can even admit to a bit of hero-worship coming into play in this regard. My brother could do no wrong, and I am afraid that I crowed his advice from the rooftops to all who would listen. I can only pray that I did not lead any other person astray by my transmission of the bad advice. What was this advice? I was told that the mission experience was, first and foremost, for me, for my growth, for my learning. Everything else--conversions, numbers, etc.--was purely secondary.

Wrong. The work is not secondary. Sharing the Gospel is not secondary. Your growth as a missionary, as a person, as a man (or woman, in the case of the Sister Missionaries), as a Child of God: THAT is all secondary. It comes as the work progresses, as you share the love, the spirit, the knowledge that the Gospel brings. Ultimately you enjoy growth and learning that cannot find its equal in any other field of endeavor.

I think this is what my well-meaning brother probably meant. Unfortunately, he did not put it in these terms and I may have wasted a good portion of the short two years alloted to me to preach and teach.

At least, I hope this is what my brother meant. The alternatives are too ugly to consider.

Obey the mission rules and the Commandments. I know this should go without saying, but I watched too many Elders stretch, bend, and yes, even break the rules and (sadly) the Commandments. I broke a few rules of my own, although they were easy to justify. At the time, that is. Looking back, it is not as easy as it once was to rationalize them away. Certainly, these things distract from the service of the Lord, even the little things. Watch yourselves and watch over one another. Do those things that are expected of you and you will be better missionaries and better men for it.

Elders, I hope my letter finds you both well, although I am not sure whether my letter will find you still companions. I have no way of knowing if you even have counterparts in the real world. To me, however, for last night--or a portion of last night--you were both extremely real to me. Elder Marsh: the quiet one with the full head of tall, curly hair, who was from London but had worked Stateside before receiving his mission call. Elder Fowler: the senior companion who did all the talking, yet who managed to talk very little about himself. Thank you for the lessons brought to mind by our brief chance meeting. Thank you for the short piece of your missions that you shared with me, a man twice your age.

Oh yes, Elders, one more thing--a side note, really: enjoy your hair while you have it and your waistlines while you don't have them.

The Gospel is true, Elders. The Book of Mormon is the Word of God, sent to us in this modern dispensation by a loving Heavenly Father as a roadmap to show us the way to return to Him and to live in His presence someday; in His presence with oue families, forever, if we just follow the Commandments we have received. This book was translated by a modern Prophet, who held all the Gospel and Priesthood keys held by Prophets of old. Those keys are held today by another Prophet. What a marvelous thing it is to say: We have a Prophet of the Lord among us, a man such as Moses, Abraham, or Isaiah--a man such as the world knew of old--among us today, sharing the will of God with us, guiding us, teaching us, calling the world to repent and come unto Christ. And most importantly, Jesus is The Christ; He is my Redeemer and Savior, my elder brother.

It is true, Elders.

Believe it and Live it.

I have a testimony of these things, Elders. I share this testimony with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Life

Gentle reader,

Life, I'm afraid, has taken control of my, well, life for this week.

My workload has doubled this past fortnight because of the economy, and because of an employee that just cannot seem to get well.

So, despite the fact that I have four to six really good topics to mine for blog entries, and despite the fact that these ideas are bouncing around the inside of my head until I am nearly crazy, it appears that between life and my Church calling, it may be several more days before I can return to my blogging duties.

They are great topics, believe me. Some secular, some religious. Some hysterical. Some thoughtful.

Please do not desert me. You may surf to another channel, but please surf on back. I will be back VERY soon, I promise. Very soon. Just as soon as I have time.

It may even be tomorrow.

We'll see. Just keep checking back.

( Now....all I have to do is remember my ideas that long. Where's a Post-it Note?)

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008


Well, it's that time of year again.

I'm starting to sharpen pencils like a madman. I'm ordering my bottles of fountain pen ink. I'm stacking up ream after ream of collegiate ruled paper.

It's NaNoWriMo time again!

What is NaNoWriMo, you ask?

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

I've tried it twice, and both times been thwarted by either illness or real life. I'm bound and determined to do it this year.

Of course, I say that every year, and then peter out sometime around Thanksgiving, telling myself that I'll devote every waking minute over Thanksgiving break to writing and getting caught up on my word totals.

How well does that work out, do you think?

Yeah, you'd be right....

But this year, I'm gonna do it.

Want to join me? Head on over to www.nanowrimo.org and register.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Naturally Blonde

I must say ahead of time that I am sorry if I offend any blondes or blonde-related readers today. But this must be shared.

From FoxNews.com: Judge Tosses Hair Dye Lawsuit for Blonde Who Had Less Fun as Brunette

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A judge has brushed off a Connecticut woman's claim that L'Oreal Inc. ruined her social life when she accidentally dyed her hair brunette with one of its products.

Charlotte Feeney of Stratford said she can never return to her natural blonde hue, a shock that left her so traumatized she needed anti-depressants.

She says she suffered headaches and anxiety, missed the attention that blondes receive and had to stay home and wear hats most of the time.

A Superior Court judge dismissed Feeney's 2005 lawsuit Monday, saying she never proved her allegation that L'Oreal put brown hair dye in a box labeled as blonde. The company also had disputed the claim.

Feeney's attorney, David Laudano, declined to comment and she could not be reached after the judge's decision.
OK. Is it just me, or does this woman truly, truly epitomize blondeness? (Blondinity? Blondification?)

I will admit that I do not have much experience with hair dyes, but c'mon ladies, help me out here.... It grows out, does it not? Hair dye ain't permanent, is it? I mean, that's what keeps L'Oreal in business, right? Repeat customers?

OK, sure.... It may take a while to grow out...but was it really L'Oreal's decision that Ms. Feeney stay home? Really?

It's a good thing that Mr. Laudano declined to comment. He should be ashamed of even filing the stupid case.

I'm hoping it's just because he's blonde too.

What does this say about my profession? What does this say about our society? What, she couldn't read the label where it said "Brown" not "Blonde" before applying the dye? Really? or is it just a case of everyone trying to hit the Lawsuit Lottery?

Bankruptcy attorneys are not generally well-thought of among attorneys; our clients are not flashy or wealthy and we usually don't get rich from the practice. But we all console ourselves with one thing:

We're not personal injury/tort lawyers.

UPDATE:

Apparently her blonde brother sells cars. Also from FoxNews: Woman, 90, Dies After Crashing New Sports Car

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — A 90-year-old woman was killed when she lost control of her new sports car and slammed into a pole, authorities said.

State motor vehicle records show that Maria Brunetti, of Pompano Beach, got the 2009 Dodge Challenger Friday on her birthday. A Broward Sheriff's spokesman said the car's odometer only showed 151 miles.

Detectives believe that Brunetti lost control Sunday when she accelerated instead of braking while trying to make a turn. The car hit a concrete pole and caught fire with Brunetti and her son, 47-year-old Peter Brunetti, trapped inside.

Witnesses pulled the them from the burning car, and fire-rescue took them to the hospital. The woman was pronounced dead a short time later, and her son was in serious condition.
I have more sense, tact, taste, and pathos than to say anything ill against the dead. I truly feel for this poor woman; my own grandfather mistook the gas for the brake on several occasions, one of which cost my family a garage door. So I feel for this woman and her family.

But the salesman.... He must have been blonde.

I don't want to think there are people that greedy, that desperate to make a commission.

Think about it. Did he not have a moral obligation to say, "Ma'am, I'm sorry, but isn't this big muscle car just maybe a bit too much car for you? We have this nice little car over here, although it costs much less."

He sold a 90-year-old woman a dang muscle car. A $23,000 muscle car.

That's not to say that he should be sued, or found liable in any way in her death. Please, you should know me better than that by now. She was an adult; I'm guessing her son went with her as well. He too is an adult. They made the choice.Do not pick up the phone to call David Laudano about this case. The salesman was not complicit in her death.

But he may just have been a bit blonde.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Validated yet again....

Once again I have had my suspicions confirmed.
You are 62% white and nerdy.
How White and Nerdy Are You?


I just take issue with their result of ONLY 62%, however.

Go ahead. Take the test yourself.... You know you want to....

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Jotting Tittles

Just about every blogger I know has "Random Thoughts" now and then. Today I dip my foot in the Pool of Perambulating Posts and meander through a morass of miscellany. These thoughts may not have anything to do with one another, or may be connected on some subconscious level. We will just have to wait and see what comes out, I suppose. Who knows, they could even lead to longer posts. I just have a bunch of stuff rattling around in my head this morning.

First: A shout-out to the woman I passed at the bus stop this morning while I was walking to work. She was nicely dressed and professional looking, so I do not believe she was one of the many homeless people that congregate around the local mission in the mornings. She was just standing, waiting for the bus; as I approached her, she threw up her arms and sang out, "Holy! Holy! Holy!" and began to sing some Gospel music as I passed her and continued down the street. I could hear her for almost the next two blocks. What a completely unexpected, but certainly positive and uplifting way to start your day. Thank you, ma'am.

Second: I noticed on the news that John McCain made a promise during Debate #2 last night, a promise to have the Federal Reserve buy up all the so-called "bad loans" and to renegotiate the terms so that people can afford to pay their mortgages. I have heard a lot of this the past few months since the housing market really started to tank; people on both sides of the political aisle calling for mercy for those who "got roped" into "bad loans" and were "taken advantage of" because they "did not know what they were doing." Now, I certainly appreciate and agree that there are many of those people out there; I see plenty of examples every day. However, there were a lot of gamblers and risk-takers that certainly knew exactly what they were doing. Oddly enough, the politicians calling for "mercy" for these poor citizens were the same politicians that, three years ago, refused to acknowledge that mercy was necessary for the "poor people" who were "suckered" into credit card use who "did not know what they were doing." These are the same people who refused to listen to calls for mercy while meddling with castrating criminalizing destroying amending the Bankruptcy Code. Hmmm. Mercy for abused home-buyers, no mercy for abusive credit card users. Anyone know what the difference is between 2005 and 2008? Anyone? Beuller? Beuller? That's right, 2008 is an election year. I checked last night: McCain voted for the Bankruptcty reform bill; Obama voted against it.

Third: A very conservative friend of mine--let's call him "Bob"--was talking with me and others the other day. As we talked, our discussion turned to politics. Unfortunately. This very conservative friend--Bob--voiced his stance: "I'm voting for Obama. No question in my mind." As we all knew his typically-conservative stance on life, we were all taken aback. Bob said, "I just think he's the candidate that can 'bring us all together.'" {Aside: This one is definitely a post topic of its own.} As another of my friends began to badger Bob, Bob merely shook his head and said, "Don't bother me with facts; I already know who I'm voting for." I became frightened. Now: I have not yet made up my own mind as to who will be receiving my vote, although I do know at least one person that will NOT receiving my vote, and while I have strong feelings about Senator Obama, that was not the source of my fright." Don't bother me with facts." Ugh. The very thought that people can and do exercise their right to vote without wanting to know any facts about the candidate, the issues, etc.... THAT frightens me. Sure, you have the right to do so, but the rest of us have to suffer for your stubborn stupidity! Ahem. Sorry. Lost control there for a minute. In all truthfulness, I really do not care whether you vote for Obama, McCain, or Joseph Stalin for President, so long as you do informed while you do it. This is not March Madness, where you can pick a team based on its school colors or the designs of the uniforms. Just get informed. Please.

Fourth: I found out this morning that, for the first time, this blog came up in a Google search for... well, what can only be described as "bviously puerile and titillating information." I shuddered. Actually, I may have thrown up in my mouth a little bit. Yeah. There's a milestone.

UPDATE: And then I go and name today's post what I did. The first one was an accident; now I am just looking for trouble, aren't I? Well, maybe someone will look at one of my blogposts instead of their naughty pictures and I will have done someone some good today.


Fifth: Not to sound too goulish, but I have to express a little bit of gratitude for the economic downturn. I truly feel sorry for those who are suffering, particularly those who are completely innocent in the fate in which they find themselves. That being said, I have been nice and busy for the past three weeks at the office. "Frantic" may be a better word. Maybe now is the time to find out just how much the Boss values me. Heh. If only he was in town.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Sacramental Blunders

Melanie over at The Write Stuff has inspired me today. The stories of cultural horrification. Horrendous but hilarious happenings at cultural events.

While the majority of the comments involved public, secular events (dances, concerts, plays, and the like), it occurred to me that these things happen at sacred events as well.

It put me instantly in mind of a man in our LDS Ward. I am pretty sure that every ward has one of these gentlemen. He is a man who has no grasp of the concept of "volume" where the human voice is involved. He also has issues with common sense courtesy. He is also the one that can be counted on to stand in Sunday School and somehow inevitably bring up topics of questionable doctrinal value and/or truth. "Did Adam have a belly-button" anyone?

You know exactly who I mean, do you not?

Several months ago, just as the first counselor in the Bishopric stood up to begin Sacrament Meeting, and the organist stopped playing the prelude music--in that brief moment of relative silence, a cell phone went off.

Yep. It was this gentleman's phone. He was sitting five rows from the front of the chapel.

He answered the phone and began talking. Not whispering. Talking. The first counselor waited for five or ten seconds for the gentleman to stop talking and hang up.

It quickly became obvious that he was not going to finish his conversation quickly. It was also quickly apparent that it was his absent wife calling him from home. "Yes, we're in Sacrament Meeting." "Yes, I'm in the Chapel." "No, I told them you were sick and they gave me a copy of the lesson." "No, I'll be home when it's over."

After the first ten seconds, the gentleman fell silent and the first counselor figured he could start the meeting. As he worked his way through the announcements, however, he found himself competing with this brother's conversation. "Next week will be a...." "Yes, it looks like I'll have to fly to Florida after all." "Then on the 14th the youth will be...." "No, I'll pack tomorrow morning. It will be OK."

This literally went on for the first three minutes of the meeting.

(Interestingly, Dallin H. Oaks just now made the point in General Conference that Sacrament Meetings were not a place for whispered conversations on cell phones. I would assume that included conversations that were not whispered.)

After competing with this brother for three minutes--even raising his voice to try and be heard over him (and with the Bishop increasing the volume on the microphone), the first counselor finally just stopped. He stopped talking completely. The only sound was this brother's talking.

The pause was pregnant.

Everyone waited; everyone listened; heads were shaking and members were trying not to laugh out loud.

He finally--obliviously--finished up his conversation with a loud, "I love you too." He hung up and the first counselor waited five beats before progressing.

To this day I am convinced that this brother is completely clueless about having stopped Sacrament Meeting cold.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Constructive Thoughts: National Humility, Pt. 2

Ever since Junior High, I have been fascinated by the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. I cannot explain what my fascination is, and I am certainly no mathematician, so I cannot pretend to fully understand it. For those of you who may not know, the Fibonacci sequence is a sequence in which each number after the first two numbers is the sum of the previous two numbers. In other words: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, etc.

The sequence is predictable. There is a pattern or sequence in life that is nearly as predictable as the Fibonacci sequence. That is the so-called Pride Cycle.

What is the Pride Cycle you ask?

The Pride Cycle is a pattern in which a civilization rises and falls, based on their adherence to the Lord's words and the level of their pride. It is a sequence that is repeated over and over in the scriptures, as the Lord's way of teaching us about the pitfalls of pride. We are constantly hit over the head with stories representative of the Pride Cycle, I believe, so that we can learn to recognize it in our own lives and in the world around us, so that we can avoid the serious consequences of pride. The steps in the sequence could be stated as follows: (a) Righteousness and prosperity; (b) Pride and wickedness; (c) Destruction and suffering; and (d) Humility and repentance, which then leads back to (a).

In the Book of Mormon, especially, we see this cycle repeated time after time. In almost every instance where the Lord blesses his people with abundance, prosperity, and material wealth, it is not long before they turn away from Him, forgetting Him, until they are brought to a remembrance of God--through destruction or suffering--at which time they are humbled and repent. Pride always leads to destruction, and usually sooner rather than later.

This scares me.

Why? As President Ezra Taft Benson taught, "Pride is the universal sin, the great vice.... Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion." {Ezra Taft Benson, "Beware of Pride," Ensign, May 1989 at 4.} (Aside: This sermon by President Benson is one of the great discourses on pride; although I am going to cite heavily from it, I would strongly recommend reading it for yourselves in its entirety, if you have not done so lately. My latest reading of it brought all of this to mind.)

What else scares me about it? We all know the words of Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Look around you; do you see any evidence that the Pride Cycle is going strong?

First, a definition or two. For the sake of this argument, I am going to focus strictly upon current events in the United States of America. This is by no means meant to insult or leave out my non-American readers. It is simply easier for me at this point to make American-oriented references. For that similar purpose, I am going to use the American people as God's people; again, not because they are any better then people elsewhere, it simply helps in the analysis. In addition--as I have written before--this land is a chosen land. {See this post.)

Step one: Righteousness and prosperity.
Four months ago, I urged a "national pride check" because of how prosperous the country had become. And we, as a people, have been very prosperous. "One of the inevitable side effects that occurs as people apply gospel principles in their lives is that their material circumstances also improve.” {Dean L. Larsen, "Beware Lest Thou Forget the Lord," Ensign, May 1991 at 40.}

While we should not expect that we have a right to material wealth if we follow the commandments, "the lord has made it clear...that when his people are obedient, he desires to bless them with the necessities and the comforts of life so that none should live in want.” Id. Material, worldly wealth, however, can carry with it risks of complacency and may distract us from what is eternally important. It can become so important, sometimes, that our possessions seem to possess us. This concern over material wealth is a matter about which prophets have been concerned throughout history.

Moses, for example, warned the Israelites:

7 For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;
8 A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
9 A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.
10 When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.
11 Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
{Deuteronomy 8:7-14}
Brigham Young also taught: "The worst fear I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear...is that they cannot stand wealth.” {Larsen, supra (citation omitted).} The central danger with material wealth, you see, “lay in its obscuring the need for acknowledging the Lord’s hand in these blessings, and in failing to use the abundance to bless others and to accomplish the Lord’s purposes.” {Id.}

Step two: Pride and wickedness. Surely we do not have a problem here, right?

Wrong.

Some of the earmarks of pride, as President Benson set them forth:

  • Enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen (called the central feature of pride)
  • Essentially competitive: our will against God's
  • Desires, appetites, passions go unbridled
  • Inability to accept the authority of God; Human perceptions against God's great knowledge; Inability to change one's opinions to agree with God's
  • Fear of men's judgments rather than of God's judgments
  • Faultfinding
  • Gossiping
  • Backbiting
  • Murmuring
  • Living beyond our means
  • Envying
  • Coveting
  • Withholding gratitude and praise
  • Unforgiving
  • Jealous
  • Disobedience
  • Selfishness
  • Contention
  • Easily offended
  • Grudge-holding
  • Not easily corrected
Whew. I will leave it to you as to where we stand as far as these things are concerned.

Step three: Destruction and suffering. Here's where I really began to get scared when I started looking at this topic. President Benson said, "God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble." {Benson, supra.} I am afraid that we, by and large, are going to be compelled to be humble, rather than choosing humility for ourselves.

Look around.

Where is our perceived power now? Where is our economic power? Are we still prosperous? In the Book of Mormon the Lord used droughts and famines to bring humility to his people. (See, e.g., Helaman 11:3-7; 12:3.) Sound familiar? Droughts, flooding, food shortages, fuel shortages, high prices, low dollar value, etc. Do I really need to go on?

Have we missed the teachings of Moses and forgotten the Lord?

Pride is a stumbling block for Zion, according to a Prophet of the Lord.

Are we stumbling? Or have we already stumbled and are wallowing in the mud?
Step four: Humility and repentance, which lead back to righteousness and prosperity. I do not think it is too late for us to choose to be humble. We may not avoid all of the destruction and suffering that we have sown through our pride, but we may not reap as much as we otherwise might have.

How do we choose humility? How could I put it better than a Prophet? We can choose to humble ourselves by:
  • conquering enmity
  • receiving counsel and chastisement
  • forgiving those who have offended us
  • rendering selfless service
  • preaching the word that can humble others
  • getting to the temple more frequently
  • confessing and forsaking our sins and being born of God
  • loving God, submitting our will to His, and putting Him first in our lives
Four months ago, I said that I thought that we needed a pride check, individually and nationally. I said that our consequences are coming.

I think they are here. Just look at the headlines of the day.

The consequences are here, my friends.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Are we condemned to repeat it? No. There is a way to break the Pride Cycle.

We need to find humility and repent, individually and nationally. Heck, Globally, even. We need to get ourselves back to righteousness and prosperity will follow. Then we need to find a way to cut out the other two steps for good. We need to remain humble, even in our prosperity. We need to continually repent in order to stay righteous. That is how we break the Pride Cycle.

That's where I long to be.

What about you?

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A New Lamp

I need a new lamp for my office desk. My brass-and-green-shade bankers' lamp from Law School has finally given up the ghost, I'm afraid.

This is what I want to get for a replacement:
They have aliens in different poses for the interior, and also feature a human abductee instead of the cow.

But what do you think? How could you NOT trust an attorney with this on his desk?

Not only that, but it's Politically Correct: These are, after all, illegal aliens taking cows that Americans just don't want. How can they be bad?

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Arrrrrr!!!!!

Ahoy, me hearties!

It be me pleasure to wish ye all fair skies and smooth seas on this fine an' rousin' International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

I be Mad James Flint.
Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.

Every pirate be a wee bit addled. I, though, be more than just a wee bit. Like the rock flint, I be hard and sharp; but, also like flint, I be easilty chipped, and sparky.


Me first mate, the mangy bilgerat, who be marooned in the Lake of Salt, told me of this day last year. His entire jollyboat law office not only spoke as buccaneers all day, but they also dressed up. Aye, lawyers dressed as pirates--how can ye tell who be who?

So this year I got me own Letters of Marque: me own office be doin' the same. We'll be havin' good grog an' fine grub. We be the crew of the Wanderin' Barnacle, the finest ship that e'er sailed the briny deep! E'en th' good Cap'n be joinin' in th' fun! Who knew th' ol' sea dog had it in 'im?

Maybe next year we'll go on the account an' buckle our swashes. It may all rest on how shipshape we be after the sun sets o'er the sea. We may all be kissin' the gunner's daughter once we reach five bells.

Now see t'yer day smartly, an' mind what ol' Jack Flint tells ye: Mad I my be, but I ain't no rum shark bait.

Splice the mainbrace and swab the poopdeck, I be ready to count me swag!

Arrr!!!!!!!

H/T: leehansen.com for the Jolly Roger image.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Class Act?

Amendment I:
Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech....


Buckle up. I am bound to offend someone today; keep in mind that any perceived offense is not intentional. Before I begin my rant I just want it understood that I revel in my ability--my freedom--to express myself how, where, and when I want. I fully support and uphold your freedom to do the same. That freedom--that right--is one of the things that makes America the greatest country on the Earth.

{Aside: That and Twinkies. Seriously: little sponge cakes with frosting inside? Who else but an American could have made such a thing? Thank you, James Dewar.
But I digress....
}

That being said, I still have the right to mock you or take exception to the things you say or how you express this freedom. I can still support your ability to say the things you say, but I do not necessarily have to like them. My not liking them is not "censorship" or an abridging of that freedom. {Point of order: No-one but a governmental entity can actually infringe on someone's Constitutional rights. That is something a lot of people tend to forget.}

I open my browser this morning and what do I see?

Yahoo! tells me here that Josh Howard, a player for the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA, has opened his mouth and shown just how much class he has.

Again: I respect his right to speak his mind.

I just think that he may have lost his mind. Or his class. Or his tact. You decide.

In a video posted on YouTube, Howard is shown on a football field at a charity flag football game. As the national anthem plays in the background, Howard approaches a cameran and says, "'The Star Spangled Banner' is going on right now. I don't even celebrate that (expletive). I'm black."
Excuse me?

Maybe I am naive. Maybe I have been living in a cave. But somehow, for some reason, I was under the apparently incorrect assumption that black Americans lived in the same America that I do.

At least, that's what I interpret his comments to mean: I'm black, not American. Am I wrong? Please. Tell me if I am.

What is this comment? From whence does it come and what is its basis? On one level, does this idiot realize that it is, in part, this "(expletive)" that has allowed him to make the ridiculous amounts of money he has made from playing a game for a living? In the words of a local sports talk show host from my college days: It's a game. A darn fun one, but only a game. Does he really think that he'd make anywhere near as much money playing somewhere basketball elsewhere in the world.

Send him to China. Let's see what his bankroll looks like then.

Is this just a dumb jock athlete basketball player mouthing off? Is this part of a small subculture in America that feels this way? Is it maybe due to his feeling of entitlement as a dumb jock athlete basketball player that he is somehow more than just a mere entertainer? That people care about his opinion of this country? (Again, I respect his freedom to have that opinion, remember.)

Okay. My fuse is lit: I had convinced myself that some of the furor over Rev. Jeremiah Wright's comments about America--as well as Michelle Obama's comments about America--had been overblown and overplayed by the Republicans. Now? I'm not so sure anymore.

We have a Reverend calling for the damnation of America.

We have the wife of a Senator / Presidential candidate proclaiming that she is finally proud of America.

And we have an over-rated pseudo-celebrity glandular case comparing (take your pick) the national anthem, America, and/or American traditions to "(expletive)."

Wow.

Good thing the First Amendment is in place. Think about what would happen without it. Think about where these people would be without the good old American values they hold so dear contemptible.

The good Reverend would be doubly lost without the guarantee of freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

Michelle Obama? Take a look around the world and see what happens to "outspoken" (I acknowledge this is not the best choice of words) women: Pakastani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto? Tibetan nun Phuntsog Nyidron? How about Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Agathe Uwilingiyimana?

Again, I could be naive, but I am pretty sure that all of these women had more than a little pride in their individual countries.

And we've already discussed just how much our little game-player could earn elsewhere in the world. Let's take it one step further: imagine playing for an Iranian National team... or the Chinese National team... or the (fill in the blank) National team. What do you think would happen if he refused to acknowledge the National Anthem of his host country? if he insulted the Anthem or his host country itself? How long would he continue to play his game?

How long before he was "disappeared"?

How much play would anything said by these three get in a country dominated by, say, the Taliban?

Anyone? Anyone?

That's what I thought.

Back to my original point--Mr. Howard, you may not like what the country stands for, you may not want to celebrate what you term: "(expletive)", and you have every right to speak your mind. Your so-called "(expletive)" gives you that right.

You may just want to recognize that the rest of us have our OWN right to speak OUR minds as well.

And like it or not, all of us red-blooded Americans who may not like our country likened to "(expletive)" by someone getting paid outrageously for a playground game? We red-blooded Americans that buy NBA tickets, merchandise, and programming?

We red-blooded Americans pay your salary, kiddo.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Oops, they did it again!

So much of the left just does not get it.

Lest I be accused of over-generalizing, there are some who do. This post is not about them.

This post is about that segment of the left that are willing to make fun, call names, point fingers, and generally act childish when they don't like their opponent.

Oh yeah, pouting. I forgot pouting.

They are those who cannot stand us religious whackos who cling to our firearms. {Aside: this is funny, by the way. I always thought that the First and Second Amendments allow me to cling to whatever the heck I want.}

Not only can they not stand us, they cannot understand us.

They think that perfectly rational ideas should be unthinkable and that right is wrong and wrong is right. There is no evil, and how dare you insinuate there is (because if there is an Evil, there must, by corollary, be Good (or God)). Strong and solid is scary.

Strong and solid. That's what I want out of a President.

They cannot understand this philosophy.

Here's the latest, for those who have not seen it:

H/T: Bruce Henderson of And Still I Persist

Beverly Hills photographer Jill Greenberg secretly took this photo of Senator McCain at the end of a photo shoot for a magazine cover; she lit him from beneath and no-one realized the photo was taken until, apparently, it started circulating.

Now please, do not get me wrong: I am not excited about a McCain Presidency. I am even less excited about an Obama Presidency. I do not yet know for whom I will cast my vote in less than two months. I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat. I am not an Independent.

I am an American.

But still-- This photo adds some weight to McCain. This photo looks like a President. I do not want a President who will cuddle up to me and make all my feel-bads go away. I do not want a President who gives trophies to all the other countries too--even when they are underachievers or slackers--just so that they feel better about themselves. I do not want a President whose every photograph looks like they've used a filter to soften the light and create a glowing effect. I do not want a President whose every photograph makes you think of fuzzy kittens and cute little animals with big eyes.

Yeah, I know, how very un-PC of me. How dare I?

Y'know what? I want a President who looks like he is going to kick your butt and write your name in his Book of Grievances. A President who looks like he will kick your butt as many times as he needs to do so, plus one for good measure.

Not that he has to do so. We should not be warmongers. I am not advocating that.

But the other countries absolutely do not need to know that. I do not mind if a few countries are seriously scared out of their collective wits by us. We are a super-power after all.

You seriously think that Al Qaeda is going to mess with a country with someone that looks like this at the helm? Seriously?!?

And yet the Left thinks that this picture is a detriment to him. They think that this will somehow cause him to lose the Presidency. No-one wants a dragon, they say. The people want unicorns! They think that no-one wants a big, scary man as the leader of their country.

I'm not convinced that I don't.

Dragon? or unicorn? Which is going to scare a terrorist more?

I know which I would choose.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lest thou forget....


[L]est thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons. {Deut.4:9.}
In loving memory of the 3,000+ American lives that were brutally cut short seven years ago today. God bless them and their families, friends, and loved ones. Lest we forget. It's only been seven years and where are we now?
It's next to impossible to find footage of these events that are not wrapped up in "truther" conspiracy theories. Have we already forgotten? Why are we not seeing these videos, these images, on the news all day long?





These are the sights and sounds of our fellow Americans dying.

These are the sights and sounds of what we are fighting against.

Don't bother giving me your Truther spins. Sorry, but that money's no good here. I won't go into my reasons for this position here. Suffice it to say first that there were simply too many variables to keep quiet for this long and second that this Administration is too unpopular for someone truly in the know to have not yet stepped forth and said, "Here's how we did it. Yes, WE did it." There. That is all I will say about the conspiracy theorists. What matters today is that it happened.

I will tell you how it happened: EVIL.

It is not a popular position in our modern world, that Evil exists. Sure, lip service is given, but it is not generally believed, truly believed, that Evil is alive, well, and active in the world.

It is.

See above for an example.

How many lives cut short? How many families broken and destroyed? How many individual faiths and testimonies shattered? How many beliefs in God shredded?

You tell me these acts were not Evil and I will raise an eyebrow.

We must not forget.

We must teach it to our sons and our sons' sons.

Some may say that we must forgive and forget. That it is pointless to dwell on the images and the events of that day.

That's like saying that we should not dwell on the instances and examples of evil pointed out in the Scriptures.

Forgive and forget? Excuse me? Hello? If you weren't aware, there is Evil in the world.

EVIL.

Maybe, maybe you could make a case for forgiving those who actually committed the acts? But only so far as you forgive their individual choice. But to cast a "blanket of forgiveness" over it? We should turn a blind eye to it and forget about it?

No. It is our responsibility to watch for and expose that Evil. It is our duty to make sure that our friends, families, and children understand this Evil and can recognize it for themselves.

Recognition is key to stopping Evil, crushing Evil, and digging out its roots. We are at war with Evil; the ancient War in Heaven continues today. {Aside: Please do not misquote me and tell me I am equating any specific religion or people with Evil. I am talking about a much larger scale, a larger philosophy than this narrow view.} I will say it again: We are at war against Evil. This is not just Iggy talking; this was expressed by a Prophet of the Lord. {See Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Times in Which We Live," Ensign, Nov. 2001.)

Granted, the people of this country have done some really, really stupid things in the guise of stopping Evil. And yes, I am talking stupidity on both sides of the political aisle. We, as a country, have made some mistakes.

But the acts that happened seven years ago? These were works of Evil, not mistakes. As President Hinckley said, "Out of that vicious and ugly attack we are plunged into a state of war.... But this was not an attack on the United States alone. It was an attack on men and nations of goodwill everywhere.... It was cruel and cunning, an act of consummate evil." {Id.}

An act of consumate evil. Recognition of this fact is key, lest we forget.

On this day, and every day, God Bless America.

We really need it.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Strangers on a Train, Pt. 5

Over the Labor Day weekend, I packed up the LW, the Horde, and traveled over to Salt Lake to visit. It was a whirlwind trip, but it was nice to be able to get away from home and see our friends and family. I was even able to spend an afternoon with a good friend from my mission days, and with whom I attended law school.

Yet again, I relied upon Salt Lake's public transportation to get around. And yet again, I have some sightings to report.

On the first morning we were there--Thursday--I wound up standing on the TRAX train platform nice and early: had to get my day started as soon as possible, after all! It had to have been around 7:00 a.m. Now, those who know me know that I am not a morning person.

Far from it.

So here I am, trying not to fall asleep and careen off the platform onto the tracks, questioning my sanity, and reveling in a real good, deep, dark grump. The platform was crowded with people headed to work and to the University. Halfway down the platform from where I stood is a woman, mid-sixties, plump, grandmotherly. She's regaling a few other passengers-in-waiting in a loud voice with some story about a dog she had when she was a child who caught a watersnake in her backyard and how it horrified her mother.

Then, jarringly, she just stops talking to the people around her, walks up the platform towards where I was standing. In an even louder voice she calls out, "Hey! Good morning to all of you! Here's hoping you have a wonderful, glorious day!"

No joke.

It took me aback; my first instinct was to cower from the crazy lady. Honestly. Now, I'm a little ashamed that this was my initial reaction, but there it is. And I'm not the only one who felt that way, judging my the looks on the faces around me.

Plus, c'mon. Who really can be that chipper, that happy, on any morning, let alone at 7:00 a.m.?

Then Loud Chipper Grandmother walks back to her previous audience and tells another quick story about her dog. Again, she finished up the story abruptly and wandered down toward the other end of the platform. I heard the following come echoing down the tracks: "Hey! Good morning to all of you! Here's hoping you have a wonderful, glorious day!"

Yep. Same spiel. Word for word.

Even from the other end of the platform I could tell those people were having the same "first thought" that I had.

A few minutes later, after she had returned to hold court with the doggie crew, the train pulled up and as it approached where she was standing, she turned and waved at the engineer.

That's when it hit me.

She's happy. Genuinely happy. And she doesn't care who sees it, who knows it, who feels it. And because she's happy, she wants to share it.

Share it she did. After my first embarassingly ugly thought about her sanity, the happiness and good will settled on my shoulders, into my heart and mind, and it was clear that others on the platform had the same sensation. It may have been 7:00 a.m., but I was happy. I wanted to share the happiness too; I wanted to wish everyone around me a good morning.

There was no racing for seats, no jostling for position. There was kindness and camaraderie on that train. That feeling lasted and stayed with me for hours.

Bless you, ma'am. Whoever and wherever you are. Keep up the good work.

And to my readers: Good morning! Here's hoping you have a wonderful, glorious day!

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