Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Constructive Thoughts: National Humility

I don't remember which talk radio show it was, but as we were traveling in the car on Friday on our Memorial Day weekend trip, I heard a caller chastised by the show's host. I wish I'd had time to write down the entire intercourse accurately and completely, but I was driving and the authorities frown on driving and writing at the same time.

Essentially, the caller was espousing the view that--so long as we were a God-fearing nation--that our strength and global position gave us the right and responsibility to act as a unilateral international policeman.

While the host agreed somewhat with a national responsibility as a superpower to be active in certain circumstances (enforcing international peace, for example), he would not go so far as to say we had a "right" to do so. This got me to thinking, especially in light of the Sunday School lesson in the meetings I attended on Sunday.

The passage in question was from the Book of Mormon. Brief background: at this point in the book, a nation has become powerful and prosperous, but is no longer God-fearing. Far from it: the leaders' iniquities has pulled the citizenry into sin and evil practices.

(This idea is a subject of a Constructive Thought all its own, actually--the idea of evil leaders dragging the people into sin. But that's for another day.)

God sends a prophet to this people to call them to repentance. He is chased out of the country under threat of death. Two years later, the Lord sends him back to this people to preach to them again. This time he comes to tell them that they are about to reap the consequences of their actions; they are about to be--as a people--taken into bondage and possibly utterly destroyed.

Their response? The people grab him and drag him to their king, and this is the rationale they give for the actions of their country as a whole: "And behold, we are strong, we shall not come into bondage, or be taken captive by our enemies; yea, and thou [O king] hast prospered in the land, and thou [O king] shalt also prosper." [Mosiah 12:15]

In other words, we're strong and prosperous, so we can't be bad, we can't be evil. God must like us because look at all the things we have.

But are strength and prosperity necessarily always a sign of God's favor? Of course not. My proof? In 1975, then-president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the Washington temple. In his dedicatory prayer, he asked, "Bless all people, our Father, that they may prosper, but not more than their faith can stand.... Our Father, in blessing thy people with prosperity, we pray that they may not be surfeited with flocks and herds and acres and barns and wealth which would bring them to worship these false gods." ["News of the Church," Ensign, Feb 1975, 79–87]

Obviously, if strength and prosperity always came because the Lord's blessings, would the Prophet really be saying, "Bless the people, but not too much"?

But the question is raised, "What is wrong with prosperity?" Surely it can be used for good and push forward the Kingdom of God, right? God certainly wants us to prosper, right?

Well, yes.

But only if it's done in the right way.

What do I mean?

Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, "Those who engage in self-congratulation over a supposed strength...are vulnerable to Satan's using that strength to produce their downfall." [Dallin H. Oaks, "Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall," Ensign, Oct 1994, 11]

How do we find that balancing point? How do we enjoy prosperity but not "not engage in self-congratulation"?

Again, the Lord gives us the answer to the question: "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." [Ether 12:27]

Humility is that quality that we must nurture. It is humility that will protect us, save us, keep us from pride.

Remember the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? (Aside: Yes, I confess to watching the DVD out of a corner of my eye as we drove along this past weekend. The Horde was being indoctrinated into that wonderful icon of my youth: Indiana Jones.) As Indy is standing there, in the cobwebbed corridor, waiting for the so-called Breath of God that just killed a man in front of Indy's eyes, what does he say? The clue from his father's Grail journal: Only the pentient man will pass. Then he comes up with the answer: "The penitent man is humble before God; the penitent man kneels before God. Kneel!"

Humility saved his life, didn't it?

(Aside: Yes, I know that it did not really save his life, because he's just a movie character. At least, I think so, anyway. Right?)

Humility. We need to make a pride check.

Not just as individuals, either. As a nation, we need to do it.

Big time.

I think that, regardless of your political leanings, you will agree that collectively--as a nation--we are anything but humble. We are prideful. We are self-congratulatory in our success and prosperity.

But our consequences are coming.

Countless modern-day prophets have given us the same warnings that ancient civilization received. And, largely, the warnings have gone unheeded. "We're big, we're bad, but we ain't evil. We're a God-fearing country and He's looking out for us."

We certainly are not as God-fearing (as a nation) as we want to think we are. If nothing else, we're big, we're bad, and we are prideful, and therefore evil. We need a pride check.

And that starts at home.

Maybe... Just maybe... If each one of us becomes a bit more humble, it will have a collective effect and our God-blessed nation just may survive.

But we better hurry.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Brief Vacation


So much for notifying my readers of my vacation.

There was supposed to be a message that popped up last Saturday warning that I had left for vacation for Memorial Day and not to expect a post until Wednesday.

Yeah. Didn't happen.

I'm not even sure where the post went. Maybe it was only a dream.

Hold on, though. I should have my Constructive Thoughts entry for this past Sunday posted by tomorrow. Perhaps even a bonus entry!

Whoot! It's like a box of Cracker Jack!

(Honestly? I'm not sure quite how it's like a box of Cracker just came out that way and I liked the sound of it.)

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Strangers on a Train, Pt. 4

I am so very glad I found my blog-notes from my vacation. I had completely forgotten about the T'ai Chi Ch'uan incident until I re-read my notes. Unlike my other "train" stories, this one is not jarringly odd, per se. It's not really "laugh-making." Certainly, it is in another realm from my other entries.

It was on the last day of my vacation stay in Salt Lake City. I had traveled via the Trax train/transit line up to the University of Utah to visit a friend and to wander around the campus bookstore.

Aside: Campus bookstores, if you were not aware, are some of the best sources of strange books, and odds-and-ends that you will ever find. For example, I enjoy the feel of a nice wooden pencil on a piece of paper. The trouble is sharpening them--I hate the cheap plastic sharpeners that abound in office supply stores. I adore, however, a very fine and reasonably priced pencil sharpener that a friend introduced to me in law school: a glass bottle topped by an excellent metal sharpener. The problem? I have only ever found them in random campus bookstores. Art supplies, too, are fascinating in quantity, style, and relative rarity in these stores.

As I was saying, I was taking the train up to the University campus. As we pulled up to one of the stations, I looked down at the platform to see an elderly Chinese woman performing T'ai Chi.

As you may have seen, T'ai Chi is most commonly seen in this country in the larger cities in city parks, early in the morning. I first saw it when I lived in China, and saw it everywhere and everywhen. Done properly, it is an elegant form of martial arts. I would sit for extended periods of time just watching the old men practice and perform. I say practice and perform because it is both: most of the elderly men would tell me that the form is never perfect and must always be honed and sharpened.

But I have never seen it practiced on a train platform--until now. It was always in city parks, or in courtyards, or any generally open walking space. Somewhere with at least a little nature nearby.

But on a train platform?

She made no move toward the train. I am not even sure she noticed the train was present, she was that quiet and absorbed in the motions. There was no flinching or blinking at the tumult around her, no sign that she was even aware of any of us.

It was odd. Jarring, even. One little girl nearby said, "Mommy--that woman looks like a statue!" and her sister chimed in, "Yeah, a statue with socks on her hands, too!"

It was odd.

Yet, at the same time, it was poetic and beautiful.

Here was a woman in a bustling city (granted, Salt Lake ain't New York, but still....) a woman in a bustling city, with noise and a smoky hot haze all around her. And through all that, she was at peace. She knew who she was and cared not a whit where she was or who saw her. She was calm and completely at one with her surroundings, even though her surroundings seemed to be against her.

It was absolutely amazing. I sat stunned for the thirty seconds or so it took for the train to empty and re-fill at this station. All I could do was watch this woman. I was sorry when the train pulled away. I craned my neck to watch her as long as I could, even for a few extra seconds. I was moved, and thought my eyes teared up a bit.

It was odd.

I wonder even now if it would have had the same effect if she was standing in a park, or surrounded by other people in a grove of trees. Even on an open courtyard. I do not believe it would have had the same impact.

Alone, on a train platform, practicing T'ai Chi, with socks on her hands.

It was odd.

But yet, not.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Strangers on a Train, Pt. 3


We were, I believe, discussing the public transit system in Salt Lake called Trax. I quickly learned that it was a fairly efficient way to get from my lodging in the middle of the valley to either Sandy City or to Salt Lake City, where shopping, food, fun--are all available. It was cheap entertainment as well.

One of my Salt Lake colleagues explained to me that the closer to "downtown" Salt Lake one gets, the crazier the people become. From my previous posts, that much is obvious. Apparently, though, frequent riders on Trax become somewhat jaded to their surroundings.

Case in point: I had taken a train down to Sandy City to do some shopping and decided to ride all the way in to Salt Lake to browse through their so-called Gateway Mall. This is a fairly new "mall"--really an oversized strip mall, if you ask me--an "open-air pedestrian mall" that has taken over several city blocks in the heart of the city. High-end shops abound, as do the snobs and freaks.

Aside: And really--how smart is an open-air mall in a place that reaches 100+ degrees in the summer and the 'teens (or below) with heavy snows in the winter. C'mon.... SOMEONE just was not thinking.

So, I've just gotten on the train and found a seat near the end of the car. There are a good number of other riders around me. After about five minutes, my eyes fall upon the "Handicap" sign. You know the type, pleading with riders to "please be considerate" and "reserve these seats" for those who need them the most.

It even took me a few minutes and I have only been on the train a handful of times. After these few minutes, I noticed a piece of regular white paper taped immediately below the "Handicap" sign. I managed to fumble a picture.

Odd. I was not aware that this was a big problem. A random inconvenience, perhaps, but not a wide-scale public health risk. I have to admit my guilt: I laughed. Snorted, really.

I had to be careful, because I did not want to call attention to the sign. Instead, I immediately determined to perform a social experiment. I wanted to see how the other riders reacted to the sign.

Not a flinch. Not a smile.

For almost one-half hour I rode that train and watched person after person get on and get off. For that entire trip--as far as I could tell--I was the only person to notice the sign. All the others were too engrossed in their books, their electronic devices, or the passing scenery.

No neighbor-nudging. Not even a head-shake.

Are the public transit riders in Utah that sheep-like? "Just climb aboard and wait to be dipped and shorn. Just don't break wind and all y'all'll be fine."

Well...I'm not a sheep. I reacted, with a good snort of laughter. Every time I thought about it, in fact, I snorted.

THAT got a reaction from the other riders.

...I think they thought I was crazy.

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It's been just over a week and I've finally found the rest of my blog-notes from my vacation. They were right where I left them, right inside one of my writing project binders.

A place I searched at least three times.

Maybe it's early-onset senility finally settling in. Or maybe it's just stress-related dementia.

At any rate, as soon as I've typed up these notes, I'll be posting at least one more entry today. Of course, now that your expectations are so high, I'm bound to disappoint.

Ah well....

At least I did not have to question the Horde. Or the LW. And if I had?

Boy. That would have been embarassing.

Egg? Meet Face.


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Monday, May 19, 2008

I'm Super...Thanks for asking.

I was actually very surprised by the results of this test. I will confess that my LW sometimes calls me her superman, and the Horde thinks I'm pretty great (if I do say so myself), but I was genuinely shocked by this result.

Your results:
You are Superman

Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Iron Man
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Constructive Thoughts: Family

We believe that families are forever, that if we live worthy lives we can spend all of eternity with our family members.

That's some promise.

I know people that shrink in fear and disgust at that thought: "I have to spend all of what with whom?" or "You mean I'll never get away from him/her/them?"

Not me.

I had an opportunity at the first of May to take the LW and the Horde to a Renaissance Fair. (For the uninitiated, I'll discuss the renaissance fair--or "RenFaire"--at a later date.)

Unfortunately, I have--as yet--been unable to convince the LW to allow the purchase of medieval garb and various accouterments for use at Hallowe'en, RenFaires, or times when I just feel like "going native."

I mean, think of how relaxing it must be to strap on a sword or a battle axe and sprawl out on a lawn chair in the front yard, swilling root beer from a tankard and yelling Shakespearean insults at passers-by?

But I digress....

It was an afternoon and evening spent without television, without the computer, without [GASP!] the internet, without electronic stimuli/distraction of any kind. It was an afternoon and evening spent just with each other and a few costumed strangers.

We stood and watched as two grown men played a game similar to "Jenga" or "Stack 'em" but with sections of two-by-fours stacked nearly four feet high on a tree stump. We stood there for nearly an hour watching these two play as other fair-goers shouted encouragement, disbelief, and well-intentioned jibes and insults.

We were amused by a magician using nothing but simple sleight-of-hand.

We stood and stared at a row of colorful tents, filled with displays of magnificent handicrafts and miscellaneous goods, with beautiful mist-covered, snow-capped mountains behind, off in the distance.

All in all, we spent time with each other: talking, laughing, and loving one another.

THIS is forever, folks.

Not television shows, not computer games, not even blogs.

In the eternities, who is going to remember who won "American Idol" this year?
In the eternities, who is going to remember "Grand Theft Auto" or "Halo"?
In the eternities, who is going to remember this blog, or the Drudge Report, or anything else on the World Wide Web?

Heck, who's going to remember any of these things a century or two from now?

But our families? Imagine being able to spend the next forever with your loved ones, experiencing the joys and the wonders from the best times here on earth? Only the good times and having them forevermore?

All of this is promised to us, if we can just manage to do a few little things.

Following the Ten Commandments, for example. That's a good start.
Praying. Reading the Scriptures. Little things that make a difference.
Listening to (as well as following) the Prophet.

I can't wait.

Together, we've done some amazing things and seen some magnificent sights. We've watched ocean waves crash on the beach and watched golden eagles circle overhead on mountain tops. We've crawled through caves to see incredible natural sculptures, formed with mineral-filled water, drop by drop.

Imagine what we could see together in the eternities? Where we could go? What we could experience? What we could see?

Galaxies spinning perhaps? Planets forming? Comets careening through space? Maybe watching canyons form and mighty sequoias grow from tiny seeds? Now those are road trips!

Most of all, imagine seeing these things with your loved ones?

Isn't the potential worth doing a few simple things (or NOT doing some things) while we are here on earth? We have such a short time to prove ourselves worthy of this magnificent promise.

The children, me, and thee, my dear LW.



'tis a consummation / Devoutly to be wish'd.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008



I've been searching now for three days for my blog-notes from my vacation. I know I had them on Sunday, because I debated adding another entry on Sunday, then thought better of it.

"I need something to write about next week, after all," I told myself.

Yeah. Ummm....

Haven't seen my notes since. Now, I vaguely remember what my topics involved, but I had some specific language and images I wanted to portray. They were all neatly written in my notes.

I've looked everywhere. I haven't interrogated the Horde, yet.

That happens tonight.

I'm going to use the bright lights, hard chair, even dripping water if I have to.

I must find those notes and I. Will. Have. Them.

More information as it becomes available. I'll now return you to your regularly-scheduled 'net surfing.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Constructive Thoughts: Obedience

My mind has been dwelling today on the idea of obedience. A Chinese proverb states: Even better than respect is obedience.

Many of the Lord’s modern-day apostles have taught that obedience is the first law of Heaven.

But what does that mean?

Does that mean obedience at all costs?

What about obedience without question?

Let’s start with what obedience means. The 1828 edition of Webster’s says that obedience is: “Compliance with a command, prohibition or known law and rule of duty prescribed; the performance of what is required or enjoined by authority, or the abstaining from what is prohibited, in compliance with the command or prohibition.” In other words, “performing what is required, or abstaining from what is forbid.”



It’s a small word, somewhat strange-sounding if you extend the first syllable: Obey. Oh-bey. Ohhhh-Bey. Strange-sounding? Especially if you repeat it several times.

Obey. It’s a small word, but a powerful word--a powerful concept. After all, obedience was exemplified by the Savior, the only perfectly-obedient individual to ever live upon this earth. If it was good enough for Him, is it not good enough for each of us?

But, you say, what good is obedience? First,

“By obedience to the laws of the gospel, you can lift yourselves above the quagmire of sin that surrounds us in this world. In addition to helping you to become better servants of the Lord, obedience to these laws will help you to be better in everything you undertake in life, whether it be your activity in the Church, your family, education, business, profession, science, athletics, or any other worthwhile endeavor. You will be a better son [or daughter], a better brother [or sister], and a better friend. You will enjoy your life more; you will be happier and at peace with yourself....
[Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Live in Obedience,” Ensign, May 1994 at 39.]
Second, “our obedience to the commandments of God becomes the very armor that protects us from evil.” [William D. Oswald, “The First Law of Heaven,” Ensign, Jan 2008 at 10.]

Third, “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” Article of Faith #3 proclaims “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

“By obedience.” Period. Not by “partial obedience” or “obedience to those laws that you feel like following.”



But does that mean unquestioning obedience? Or so-called blind obedience?

Webster’s also notes that “Obedience may be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary obedience alone can be acceptable to God.” [Emphasis in original.]

“Unquestioning” does not mean “blind.”

There is a difference.

This idea that "unquestioning=blind"--this is an idea that Satan puts in our hearts. He makes us us think that obeying the prophets, obeying the commandments, obeying the Lord--that by doing this we are not thinking for ourselves, that we are foolish and stupid. One of the Lord’s ordained apostles explained this better than I can:
“Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of God.... Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel. There is an obedience that comes from a knowledge of the truth that transcends any external form of control. We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.” [Boyd K. Packer, “Agency and Control,” Ensign, May 1983 at 66.]
A willingness to be obedient is not a matter of worldly intellect or blindness.

It is a matter of attitude. Attitude makes the difference in all the choices we make; it will make the difference between obtaining life eternal or something less. Attitude is a pathway to self-control and self-discipline; a positive attitude is intimately connected not only with obedience, but also faith, charity, love, and service. But that’s a subject for another day.

It is also a matter of wisdom. Contrary to the teachings of the world, God does know a thing or two--He knows just a little bit more than any of us. Even more than Stephen Hawking.

Sorry, Steve, it’s true. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

You need another way to look at it?

Think of it as cooking. God is the Master Chef. By definition, there can be none better. But He is a merciful, caring chef. He wants to share His recipes, to give us happiness. When we follow a recipe, we must follow it exactly. To. The. Letter. If we vary from the recipe, we get something different from what the Master Chef intended. It may taste OK. It may even taste good. It will not, however, taste like the Master Chef’s recipe, because the recipe was not followed and none of us have the experience in cooking that the Master Chef has.

And if we rely upon our own wisdom, refusing to acknowledge the existence of the Master Chef or His recipes, the resultant concoction is likely inedible, noisome, if not downright poisonous.

If we follow the recipe exactly, however, the resulting dish is magnificent, regal, and heavenly.

Literally Heavenly.

Following a Master Chef’s recipe is not “blind obedience”--it is wisdom, even if we do not fully understand why the particular herbs and spices are to be used in a certain combination. It is wisdom. If we are really confused about the recipe in question, we can always ask the Master Chef Himself for verification, for confirmation, that what we see in the recipe is correct.

Father Abraham had no idea what dish was being prepared when he received instructions to take his only son, Issac, into the mountains to be a sacrifice. He did not--could not--understand the subtle melding of flavor: he could foresee the sour, but thought the end result would be distasteful. He could not see the sweetness that the Master Chef had planned, had engineered into the final dish.

Father Abraham followed His recipe to the letter, even though he had no idea what the final dish would taste like, because he knew the Master Chef. He knew the Master Chef had a plan, a grand design. He had tasted the Master Chef’s recipes in the past and knew they were wonderful meals.

He followed the recipe to the letter.

And the final dish? A magnificent promise that changed the world and affected all time and all eternity.

And all because of his obedience to God.

What do you think you can get from following the recipe? What meal is in store for us?

I asked before: what good is obedience? What can possibly come from it?

Well, there is one good way to find out.

Wait, what was that funny-sounding word again?

Oh yeah.



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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Strangers on a Train, Pt. 2

OK. You've been waiting with bated breath, I'm sure, for more gory details of my trip to Salt Lake. And believe me, I have details--all of which should help to paint the whole picture. The panorama, if you will.

As reported last time, I survived my train ride with the newly-nominated State Representative, Mr. Long-Haired, Tree-Hugging, Pot-Smoker. After watching my friend handle an enjoyable slew of random Law and Motion hearings it was time to head back to the so-called Trax train for a return to my lodging.

Little did I know what was in store.

Obviously, as you wait for the Trax train at the stop, it is fairly easy to see the train as it comes down the street. After all, this thing is large, boxy, and colorful (if white with a red stripe can be considered colorful), moving fairly rapidly down the center of the street.

ASIDE: Of course, apparently all of this does not matter, as people still manage to "not see" the train. A Utah friend sent me this link earlier this week, courtesy of one of the Salt Lake newspapers, the Deseret Morning News: "An ACE hardware truck is wedged against a TRAX train after being struck by the train while making a left turn in Salt Lake City at about 9:45 a.m. Monday. No injuries were reported."


Salt Lake Tribune had the best lines about the story though.... First, from a passenger: "'We knew there was a semi there but we didn't think he was dumb enough to turn.'"

Guess what? He was.

And from the driver himself, "said he knew the train was there but it was sitting still when he decided to make a slow, left turn toward the Ace store on 400 South.... 'It was stopped when I went by [it]....It caught up.'"


Think his CDL will be in jeopardy?


Anyway.... For most people NOT delivering hardward and sprinkler supplies, it is fairly easy to see when the train is coming. However, as I stood there, I watched a man in a leather trenchcoat race the train down the street just to cross right in front of the train at mid-block--which, according to all the signage at the stop, is inappropriate conduct.

According to all common sense, it's just plain stupid.

Kinda like driving your semi into a train. Again, I digress.

Leather coat, flapping in the breeze. What a sight.

But he wasn't alone.

He had a lady friend running right in front of him, both of them carrying backpacks. Mid-50s, probably, the both of them.

They both boarded the back of the train right after I did, and sat just a row away from me. The only way to describe these two is with the phrase: Jack Sprat and his wife. He was slender; she was not. He sat on one row, she sat on another directly behind him. I sat on a seat that faced the middle aisle of the train and they sat on the first two rows facing the rear of the train.

Now, I must preface this next part by telling you this was a full train car. FULL. Packed to the hilt. Close quarters.

Upon sitting down and gasping for air, his first action was to reach inside his coat, pull out a pouch of chewing tobacco, and proceed to pack his cheek about as full of tobacco as the train was with riders. It was truly a vile sight.

In the words of the immortal Ron Popeil: "But wait. That's not all!"

This now-sweaty man (it was a warm day and he had exerted himself for at least a full city block while wearing a heavy leather trenchcoat) then said something to his lady friend, who rummaged around in her bag, then reached over the seat and handed him, to my horror, a roll-on liquid deodorant.

No joke.

I could even tell it was a "strong enough for a man, but made for a woman"-type, based on the garish pastel purple color of the wrapper.

"But wait. There's more."

In full view of everyone on our end of the train, this man proceeds to unbutton his top three buttons and then apply the deodorant -- LIBERALLY -- to each armpit.

Oh, the humanity!

Now don't get me wrong: I have nothing against good hygiene. It's extremely considerate to others to apply such solutions to your body.

It's that, normally, such applications are part of one's private ablutions.

In private.

PRIVATE being the key words here.

From looking around at the other shocked and horrified faces, I was not alone in my perspective.


I think I'll save the rest of the story until later.

You've all suffered enough.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Flying Fingers

I'm a bit depressed.
87 words

Speed test

I was faster in law school.

Not much.... But still....

Dang it all.

It must be age catching up with me.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Strangers on a Train, Pt. 1

O.K. As promised, some details and stories from my vacation. I think that I am now prepared to actually put some of my experiences into print.

I think.

I'm not responsible, however, for what--if any--effect they may have on you, my readers.

For some of my vacation, I traveled over to Salt Lake City to visit some friends. While there, I took the opportunity to visit Utah's Bankruptcy Court with my friend Janci from J Saga. To get there, I had to take Salt Lake's version of mass transit, what they call "Trax."

And oh, the sights you see!

Salt Lake, I think, would prefer you didn't know that they have their own share of crazies roaming the streets. Nothing like I've seen in bigger cities like Denver, Los Angeles, or Boston. Also nothing like you would see in Reno. (But then, where could you ever really see the kinds of things you see in Reno? Not even in Las Vegas, methinks.)

The first encounter was a man who jumped aboard the train at the last moment and chose to sit directly in front of me. This was a man in his mid-50s, scraggly grey hair, and what may have been the biggest backpack I have ever seen, complete with sleeping bag and what may have been a tent--there was a cinch bag holding what looked like tent poles.

Upon boarding the train, he threw himself dow on the seat facing mine, opened his phone, and immediately began talking.

I mean immediately.

I'm not even sure he was actually on the phone because I didn't see him even push a button before he began talking. His end of the conversation went something like this:

"Heidi! What?! They did what?! [Expletives deleted] I haven't even been up to the capitol--I just came out of the hills!
The GOVERNOR nominated me?!
OK. I'll call the Governor then and see what's goin' on.
Uh-huh. OK."
The man then looked at his phone and said--remember this is all at a volume loud enough for people on the other end of the train car to hear him (I know this because I sneaked a look and saw them shaking their heads)--he looked at his phone and said "Governor--Home or office."

No joke.

He then put his phone to his ear and immediately began talking again.

Let me just interject a thought here, for those of you who believe he really was talking on the phone: I was completely unaware that phone technology had advanced to the stage where the phone could decide which of two phone numbers to call for you. But I digress.
"Beverly! [Expletives deleted] I'm a [Expletives] State Representative!
Your husband nominated me!
I'm gonna be a representative. What? No, I'm on a Trax train.
Yeah, your husband--the Governor--nominated me! Me! A long-haired, tree-hugging, pot-smoker.
Yeah, in fact I'm still smoking my pot."
Unfortunately, that's when I had to get off the train.

Dang it all!

I would have LOVED to hear the remainder of that conversation. At least, his side of it. Who knows what else was said? I wonder if the Governor eventually got on the line as well?

Now...a quick search on the internet provided me with the fact that Utah's Governor is in fact married to a "Mary Kaye" rather than a "Beverly." Further evidence that this man may not have actually been talking to a real person? I don't know.... I'll leave that up to you, gentle reader.

All I know is I watched and heard it happen. And Heaven help teh Utah Legislature if it's somehow true.

He really called himself a "long-haired, tree-hugging, pot-smoker." While I was able to (barely) control myself, I heard at least one snicker on the train.

That says it all, my friend.

That says it all.

Read More......

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Constructive Thoughts: I am a child of God

Who am I?

I think that may be the one question all of us ask ourselves at some point in our life: Who am I?

I know. Do you?

You see, I am a child of God.

So are you, did y'know that?

We--all of us, everyone ever born on this planet--we are all children of God.

Yep. "Our Heavenly Father" is literal. He is the Father of my spirit, just as my father here on earth is the father of my body. There are many parallels between the two. For example, just as it was important for me, as a child, to listen and obey my earthly father, it is just as important to listen and obey my spiritual Father. My earthly father could warn me of worldly pitfalls and dangers, as well as teach me how to protect myself. My Heavenly Father can warn of spiritual pitfalls and dangers and can teach me, protect me, from those dangers.

I love Him as I love my earthly father. I speak with him as I do my earthly father.

He loves me as does my earthly father.

He knows me as well as my earthly father.

What does this mean? What does it mean to have a spiritual lineage to a Heavenly Father? That spiritual parentage defines our eternal potential. I am an heir to my Father in Heaven, just as I am an heir to my earthly father. We all stand to inherit from our Heavenly Father, just as we stand to inherit from our earthly fathers. Just as Paul wrote, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." (Romans 8:2.)

We have the ability to inherit all he has, to be joint-heirs with Christ.

All of this from a simple phrase: I am a child of God.

What powerful words, what a powerful message, what a comfort each of us can gain from this phrase.

What other phrase, what other principle, can teach us such a great and awesome principle?

I am a child of God.

And how do I know this? Just like Paul said: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with [my] spirit." I know that this is a true principle.

I know it to be true.

With this knowledge comes responsibility. Many responsibilities, in fact.

I bear the name of my earthly father--because of this, I want to act throughout my life so as to not bring dishonor to his name. Similarly, as a son of our Heavenly Father, I do not wish to bring dishonor to his name either. A modern Prophet of the Lord has said, "That man who knows that he is a child of God, created in the image of a divine Father and gifted with a potential for the exercise of great and godlike virtues, will discipline himself against the sordid, lascivious elements to which all are exposed." (Gordon B. Hinckley, “In Opposition to Evil,” Ensign, Sep 2004 at 2.)

This is one of the responsibilities I bear as His heir. It can be difficult, as none of us is perfect. I make mistakes as we all do. But I want to do my best to fulfill this responsibility--and all my responsibilities as His heir.

Just like my earthly father, my Heavenly Father wants me to succeed, to do my best, and will give me the tools I need to do it. In His case, He sent His Son, to be our Savior, to provide an example and a gift to us all.

I know this to be true.

I know it.

I am a child of God. And so are you.

Isn't it amazing?

Read More......