Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Temple

I went to the temple to receive my endowments on Saturday, as planned. It was a very cool and peaceful experience. Lots of symbolism.

Afterwards, Liz and Chris and I hung out downtown at the library, and then rode Trax back home. Chris taught me to count to 100 in French (a lot more difficult than you might think!) and Liz took a nap. Then we went to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at the dollar theater (actually, more like $1.50). It was pretty funny, and even though it didn't really stick close to the book's plot, it was very true to the spirit of the book.

Today at sacrament meeting, some friends and I sang an a capella rendition of All Creatures of Our God and King, which I'm told sounded really good. Also, the bishop took some time during sacrament meeting to give a word of encouragement that was really what I needed to hear. He told a story about two pails that were used by a woman to carry water home from the well each day. One of the pails had a leak, so that by the time she got back home it was only half full. The pail apologized to the woman one day for not doing his part.
The woman replied, "Everyone has something different to share with the world."
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"Well, have you noticed all the beautiful flowers that have grown along your side of the road, because of the water that you share with them as we walk?"

Sometimes I tend to be too hard on myself for not doing everything as well as it seems they ought to be done. I'd like to start noticing the good that I am able to do, and the things that I am able to contribute simply because I don't do all the same things that other people do.

Friday, July 29, 2005

It's been a while

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted. I've been pretty busy doing mundane stuff that wasn't really worth reporting, and my interesting, deep thoughts have been mostly of the sort that I'd rather not share with the world. But mostly my life just hasn't been that interesting.

I've been working for a couple more weeks with GE, and I'll be working until August 9th, if memory serves, which will give me a week without work before my mission. Liz and I have gone shopping for mission prep stuff a couple of times now, and I'm to the point where I pretty much only need a few short-sleeved white shirts and I'll be ready to go!

Tomorrow morning, I'll be going to the Salt Lake Temple. I'm getting pretty excited. From what I hear, it's a very peaceful and beautiful experience. It's sacred enough that Latter-Day Saints don't actually give details on what happens there, so don't expect a very detailed report, but if I get a chance, I'll make a post to say as much as I feel good about saying.

I finished reading the latest Harry Potter book (The Half-Blood Prince) last night. Harry's a lot less whiny in this one than he was in the last book, which is refreshing. It revealed a lot more details about Voldemort and exactly what Harry was going to have to do in order to defeat him. It also did something that I don't think any of the other books in the series have done, in that it didn't quite wrap up everything at the end. I'll just say this: people who just let themselves be spoon-fed will feel one way about a particular character at the end of the book, while those who have been reading carefully and picking up on the hints will come away with a very different impression.

Well, I can't think of much else that's on my mind, so I hope you'll excuse me. Ta.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Internship position

The folks at work have asked me to recommend someone to hire as a regulatory intern this coming year. I don't know who all's looking for jobs, so if you're interested let me know. Of course, I have to actually know you well enough that I feel good about recommending you.

Monday, July 11, 2005

KSL News: 6-Alarm Fire at Wasatch Jr. High

KSL News: 6-Alarm Fire at Wasatch Jr. High
I attended this school in seventh grade. Weird.


I overheard some co-workers having a discussion at work today that sounded interesting, so I joined in and asked what the deal was. Apparently, when one of my co-workers was working with another company, she had a manager that was LDS and he decided that instead of taking a holiday on Good Friday like the rest of their corporation, he traded that holiday for Pioneer Day, forcing everybody else there to do likewise. Because of this, she is now adamantly opposed to the celebration of Pioneer Day as a state holiday. "Why does this state shut down," she kept asking, "to celebrate a religious holiday." She was really upset. And I don't just mean bothered--her eye was actually twitching as we talked about it!

I really have a hard time understanding how somebody could get so angry about something like that. I mean, for one thing, I don't even think of Pioneer Day as a religious holiday. In fact, I don't think that the LDS church really has any unique religious holidays. We celebrate Christmas and Easter, just like anybody else. But if we wanted a religious holiday, I would think that they'd have chosen April 6, which has a lot more significance to Latter-day Saints than July 24. Now, it's true that some Mormons celebrate Pioneer Day outside of Utah, but it's also true that some Americans celebrate Independence Day outside of the United States. It's a cultural thing. July 24 marks the passage of the LDS pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley, which I think is appropriate to recognize as a state holiday, considering the impact that it had on shaping Utah's history. Massachussetts observes a few holidays relating to the Revolutionary War, for instance, because of the significant role that those events played in their history. That's the spirit in which we celebrate Pioneer Day. I really don't think anybody ever intended it to be a religious holiday.

Of course, according to a recent Supreme Court decision, it apparently doesn't matter what the intent was. They decided that if an imaginary observer might conceivably feel that something endorses religion, that's enough to prevent the government from sponsoring it on any level. So who knows? Maybe one of these days somebody will get angry and sue the State, and they'll have to stop letting State workers off for Pioneer Day. And then maybe somebody will use that as a precedent to force the entire nation (or at least the nation's government workers) to stop observing Christmas and Easter. Or maybe God will see fit to humble us to the point where we're willing to recognize that we depend on Him, and that our nation would never be what it is today without Him, and maybe we'll decide that atheists can either shut up or move to Canada. Who knows?

What if the armies of the Lord
Picked up and dusted off their swords
Vowed to set the captives free
And not let satan have one more

What if the church, for heaven's sake
Finally stepped up to the plate
Took a stand upon God's promise
And stormed hell's rusty gates

What if His people prayed
And all who bare His name
Would humbly seek His face
And Turn from their own way

And what would happen if we prayed
For those raised up to lead the way
Then maybe kids in school could pray
And unborn children see light of day

What if the life that we pursue
Came from a hunger for the truth
What if the family turned to Jesus
Stopped asking Oprah what to do
-- Casting Crowns

Work and Mission Letter

I went back to OEC today to do some more work for them. I was planning to be done at the end of this week, but they decided they want to keep me on for a few more weeks afterward. Basically, I'll only have one full week without work before I leave. We used to joke that I would have to move to France to get away from that place. Lately it's seeming like less and less of a joke. Of course, they've got a facility in Buc, France, too (which is inside my mission). Ah, well.

When I got home, I found that my mission president had (finally) sent me a letter with details about my mission. Or at least, that was the general idea. It mostly restated what my initial information packet said about things like music and electronic organizers and such. It said almost nothing about what clothes I'll need, so I guess I'll just rely on the other packet for that information. I think it's about time to plan some shopping trips to get everything I need.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Darrell Scott's testimony

Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, addressed the subcommittee on crime of the House Judiciary Committee on May 27, 1999 at the Rayburn House office building in Washington, D.C. This is what he said:

Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.

The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart.

In the day s that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA - because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent.

I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy-it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. " I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best. This was written way before I knew I would be speaking here today:

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You've stripped away our heritage,
You've outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question "Why?"
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!

Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, soul, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and reek havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs -- politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.

As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes-He did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America , and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999 , at Columbine High Sc hool prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Hi m. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA - I give to you a sincere challenge. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone! My daughter's death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!
Hat tips: Grandpa Armstrong and

Friday, July 08, 2005 U.S. Muslims denounce London bombings, brace for backlash U.S. Muslims denounce London bombings, brace for backlash

It's sad that these innocent people have to take steps to protect themselves, but I'm glad that they are doing what needs to be done.

"The main targets of these vile and cowardly acts are innocent civilians," said Aref Assaf, president of the Paterson-based Arab American Forum. "Our condemnations are universal and unequivocal.

"We call on members of the Arab and Muslim community to be especially careful about their surroundings, places of worship and employment, as they may be subject to hate crimes consistent with experiences after such horrific attacks," he said.

Assaf also urged people to refrain from blaming the entire Arab and Muslim community for the attacks.

I, too, would urge anybody who might be reading this to refrain from blaming the entire Muslim community for this. I also want to urge people to refrain from blaming the entire American community for backlashes. There are rotten people on all sides. Let's learn to pull together the good and righteous.

Independence Day Weekend

I went down to Blanding with Liz to spend time with her extended family over Independence Day weekend. It was nice to be in such a quiet, slow-moving town for a while. We went to church and attended a dedication for a monument that the Lymans had put up in the cemetery there, and watched a parade that some of Liz's family participated in. But mostly we just kind of took it easy.

Tractors on Parade

On Independence Day, we drove back in time to enjoy fireworks with my dad's family, and I had some fun playing with the "night mode" on my digital camera.

The next day was my birthday, so I got some nice gifts and an excellent chocolate cake (with binary candles!)

Friday, July 01, 2005

San Francisco

The Church Travel Office arranged for me to fly to San Francisco yesterday so that I could apply for a VISA at the French consulate there. Apparently they're going to be putting something into the VISAs with fingerprint information in it. That means they need to have you show up in person to give them your fingerprints. I didn't get to sight-see, but from what I saw I think I like Salt Lake City better.

On the way back to the airport in San Francisco, we stopped at an In-N-Out Burger. I didn't object when I heard we were going to stop there because (never having been there) I assumed that they had to have something that would accomodate a vegetarian. When we got there, I found out that they only had four items on the menu: Burger, Cheeseburger, "Double-double" Cheeseburger, and fries. I had only had a bagel and a banana for breakfast, and I knew I wasn't going to have a chance to eat another meal until I got back to Salt Lake City, and so I did the sensible thing and ordered a double cheeseburger with fries. Yuck.

Anyway, I made it back safely. I'm afraid I don't have any pictures to share; there were only a couple of things I thought picture-worthy, and I saw them while I was in high-security areas where I figured people might get upset about me starting to take pictures. For instance, I thought it was hilarious to watch one guy in his big, baggy gansta clothing, going through the security point at the airport. See, you have to take off your belt, among other things, when passing through that metal detector, and I thought it was just a hoot to watch this guy trying to be discreet and "cool" about trying to keep his pants up when they kept falling down around his knees. Fortunately, his shirt hung most of the way down his thigh, so we were spared any indecent exposures.