Thursday, June 26, 2008

SYTYCD Recap Week 3

Okay, is it just me or was last night amazing? There were 8 dances, and I thought at least 4 of them were almost perfect. The first season I thought a couple of the people were good. The second season I really liked the final 6-8 dancers. Last season I thought was pretty decent, but I didn't LOVE any of the dancers like I did from the second season. Sabra was awesome, but I didn't think the top 4 was outstanding. With the exception of Sabra, I had some kind of hang-up with all of them. This's crazy. I'll watch the first dance and think to myself, oh man, that's my favorite couple. Then the next one comes and I find myself saying the same thing, and throughout the show I'll be saying that 3-4 times a night. It's crazy. This one with Mark and Chelsea was my favorite for the night. I forget what their names are, but the choreographers who do this dance are awesome. I just love everything that they've done so far:

I love these two, but I didn't think that this one was their best. I didn't love it as much as the judges did, but I thought it was pretty good:

I don't love watching the samba all that much, but I think Katee and Josh have been killing it week in and week out. Josh is really, really good. He is so incredibly smooth in his own style, but then with everything else that he's been given he has just been owning all of it.

As always, I love anything done by Tyce. I really wanted this piece to work, but Chris just sucks. I think I could have really liked it because the song was so different and everything about it had the potential to be so provocative, but then they just blew it. I hope Chris gets eliminated this week for sure.

And then this was my other favorite performance of the night. Will is amazing. He really is. He kind of reminded me of Danny a little bit too much, but this dance clinched it for me because that personality really came out and he can't miss with anything that he's performing. I like Jessica a lot. She's super sweet, and is quite the looker.

The quick step sucked. I wouldn't mind if that couple got eliminated. I actually might take Comfort over that girl. I liked Matt and Courtney's piece. That seemed to be their best performance by far, but I don't think it's post-worthy. The rumba was pretty decent, but it wasn't enough of a rumba for me. Is it so gay that I feel like I can actually say that and know what I'm talking about? The answer is a resounding "yes." Plus...Courtney is hot. But I thought Dominic and Sabra did a better job with the rumba last year, and the songs really make a big difference in how much I like the dance. I didn't care for that rumba song at all, but they did a pretty decent job.

All in all, this week was really great. I loved at least something about every single dance, except for that quick step. I just don't care for either of those dancers, and they didn't even do a very good job. I can't seem to pick a favorite, so the only thing I'm really going for is for certain people to be eliminated. Let's hope that Chris and the black girl not named Comfort get the boot tonight. I keep watching that Chelsea and Mark dance and I keep on loving it. The choreography, the song, the performance, all of it was just spot on. Good week team!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I have been backed up with the posts for a little while now. It's not that the motivation isn't there, but it hasn't been a priority these days. Anyway...I wanted to post on this one because the show was so freakin' awesome and if any of you ever has a chance to catch it, I would be doing the Groovaloos a disservice by not advocating what a great show it is.

I saw it at the Samueli Theater two Thursdays ago. It happened to be the same night that the Lakers blew the huge lead on their home floor, pretty much handing over the series to the Celtics. I caught the first quarter and I was in agony leaving the game, but I'm glad that I didn't catch the rest of the game. I thought it was a little alarming when I didn't come out of the performance and I didn't have more texts celebrating the fact that we had dismantled the Celtics. But I digress...

So Chris obviously has a thing for performance theater. I guess Groovaloos normally play up in Los Angeles, but earlier this month they came out for some engagements down here in Orange County. The Samueli Theater is considered a part of the group of theaters that comprise the OC Performing Arts Center. Going to this show completes them all for me. It's a tiny little theater that's out on the corner of Anton and Avenida of the Arts. I think. I had never even known of its existence because the entrance is facing the opposite direction than the other ones. It seats about 500, which sounds like a good amount, but it's really not. One of my favorite parts about the show was looking at the audience and the diversity of the crowd. We were seated up in an upper area in chairs that look down on the stage. The back two rows in the middle were made up of a bunch of girls in their early teens. They were really loud and while I was bugged by them in the beginning, I couldn't help but fall in love with them when they initiated a body-roll wave that snaked around three rows while they all giggled hysterically. Even adults were participating. It was probably the oddest/funniest thing I have seen in a theater.

The performance is brief, about 90 minutes, and provides a constant barrage of hip-hop/freestyle dancing telling the stories of each dancer within the performance. I guess it's been going on for several years, so some of the original cast has moved on, but the replacements have helped maintain the strength of the performance. In fact, one of the girls that joined the crew was Ashlee from season two of So You Think You Can Dance. Although she wasn't my favorite dancer back then, she definitely was in her element in the show.

Each dancer has his/her own story to tell. Some of the narrative is prerecorded, but my favorite is when the MC does a kind of freestyle narrative. The guy just has the sound and look of cool to him, which feels lame for me to put it that way, but if you've seen the performance then you'd know what I mean by that.

I guess what I enjoyed most about the show was that it takes a genre of dance that's usually seen as anti-a lot of things and combined elements of theater and youthfulness in a way that made a lot of sense. The audience was encouraged to laugh, cry, and yell out about anything that touched them, and you can bet that the body-roll wave girls were getting totally into it.

If you have a chance, I strongly encourage you to check it out, even moreso if you like that style of dance. Or if you like other such hits as You Got Served and Step Up.

Supreme Court In Favor of Death Penalty

This might be my favorite Onion newscast ever. Lots of language though so buyer beware. It's SO completely over-the-top absurd.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Week 2 - Heat Wave

The midweek runs were pretty easy. I practically sprinted a couple of the days, but the long run was hardest for the obvious reasons, plus a couple of others.

I came home Friday night and instead of just going to bed and making sure I got up early enough to have enough time to eat and at least partially digest the food, I finished up Twilight. I only had 80 pages left, so I couldn't help myself. I would have just woken up later and left later, but the biggest problem was making sure that I got out before all of the heat would settle in, especially with Southern Cal in the midst of a heat wave.

So I woke up late, but I still wanted to make sure I wasn't running on an empty stomach and I had to make sure I got some water in me too. Eating, drinking, and getting some time to digest meant that I would end up running when the shadows are the shortest. It had to be in the mid-upper 90's during my run, but I cannot express enough gratitude for living in an affluent neighborhood and having the last quarter of my run shaded by the imported mature trees in the new community developments blocking me from much of the scorching sun.

It was pretty hard, but I attribute it mostly to running on a mostly full stomach and it being so flippin' hot. There was one stoplight near the end that was just a little too welcome. I yearned for the wait like Edward yearns for Bella's blood. Yeah...I just used that simile. I was pretty pleased when I finished up to see that I finished my 7.2 mile course in exactly 1 hour. I held back in the beginning and I think that helped me to finish up in the end. The longer these Saturday runs get, the more I'm beginning to realize that the battle is much more mental than it is physical.

I know my body can get from point A to B, even if there are 26 miles in between, but it's hard to make sure my legs are still moving and that I keep putting one foot in front of the other. I was reading somewhere about how after 10 miles the efficiency of motion begins to rapidly decline for runners, but I was really starting to feel that just in this last run, which barely covers a fourth of the full marathon distance. I noticed my arms beginning to swing from side to side rather than front to back, and I was running more and more on the outsides of my feet. It was weird actually having to concentrate on making sure my steps went from heel to toe, that my arms didn't just sway loosely, and that I didn't slow too much anywhere.

I don't have any specific aches and pains. My right arch was a little bit tender towards the end of the run, but nothing really besides that. I guess I shouldn't be so amazed at how much I've progressed already - I am mostly referring to how little soreness I've experienced, especially in my shins and lower back - but I guess I just wasn't as in shape as I thought I was. I imagine as the distances get longer it will be really hard to maintain a good running posture. I should probably do some more core exercises to make sure that doesn't become too much of a problem.

I don't think I want to run without music anymore. Or even audiobooks. I need to get a running companion Ipod stat.

I Like You People

I really do. I had some really interesting conversations with various different friends and acquaintances over the weekend. One friend recently started his residency program at UCLA and will be working primarily at the VA for the next couple of years. I can't even tell you how much I love this guy. He's the most interesting combination of skills and abilities - mostly he amazes me in that I think he can do anything.

This is the guy who trained for the St. George marathon and ran it in 3:18, missing the Boston Marathon cutoff by 8 minutes. Two years ago his friend signed him up for the Las Vegas Marathon two weeks before it was going to occur, and he basically rolled out of bed without any training and then ran it in just over 4 hours. He sold his Exxon stock last summer after watching it increase 300% over the last few years. And he won a Texas Hold 'Em tournament at Treasure Island in Las Vegas. His sister is a lawyer at a firm in Salt Lake City; she's taking a two year (!) sabbatical and wants to become a professional gambler. Oh, and his little brother is one of the three American finalists for the Mr. Hong Kong pageant. They are the most super-charged, ridiculously talented group of people ever. The only other equivalent I can think of is the Clayton family in Orange County.

What I love about this guy, though, is just how nondescript he is about all of this stuff. He only brings it up because I know that if I dig and just keep asking him questions, he'll divulge and usually his opinions on everything and his experiences are SO interesting and so well-thought out. Greg and I started to talking to him about the healthcare situation in our country, and future prospects for medicine. It basically confirmed my conservative positions, but it was really informative, nonetheless.

At church yesterday in branch council we talked about a letter from church headquarters about the recent developments with the recent reversal of Proposition 22 by the state judiciary and how as members we need to be clear about where we stand on the issue and lend our support when possible. I wished that I had an hour to sit down with the branch president to get his views because I'm sure he has a lot to say considering that his professional background is marriage and family therapy. I guess I want his take not only because of his experience, but because he's very deliberate with the way he processes information and forms his opinions and I'm sure he has some great insights on the subject.

Just before dinner yesterday I was talking with Joe and Ashley about the same topic and then he started to recount his experience dealing with the issue personally within his own family. He always freely shares his thoughts, but it was interesting to hear her take on how they've dealt with that whole subject. I guess I should realize this because I'm the same way, but usually the people that tend to be more reserved in expressing themselves often have some of the most interesting thoughts. Not that what I have to say is all that useful all the time (maybe a little useful some of the time?), but these people sure do have some great well-developed opinions and it's nice to hear them when they come up.

I guess I only bring this up because these are just a few instances of many others that I've had with all of you at one point or another. I guess I just feel really lucky to be surrounded by people who are so thoughtful in almost every regard. There is such a wealth of experience in just my own little circle, and I'm really grateful for those times when I'm fully keen on how impressive all you people are.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I have a sad story. So remember how I got tickets for Wednesday's show and was going to watch the magic happen in person? I even lied to get off of work early. You know what stinks about getting older? All the people I know are responsible and won't just drop work at the drop of a hat. Or I guess there is also the fact that they even have jobs in the first place, or have families, etc. The only people I know with irregular schedules are Dave and Mike right now, so they journeyed up to LA with me. As it turns out, there IS a dress code which for some reason I didn't bother confirming so we wouldn't have gotten in because of that, but the main reason was that we showed up late to the taping. Because I'm dumb, I assumed that having a ticket meant that would guarantee admission. Here's the thing...I'm sure it's overbooked in the event that idiots like me A) show up late, and B) come underdressed. Dammit. Oh well. The worst is that now I'm back to the line in the waiting list.

Anyway...on to this week's top 18. I'm not going to go over everything, but does it feel like to anybody else that they're pairing up partners according to strength? I think it's coincidence these past two weeks that there have been no eliminations that mix up partnerships, but I think it's mostly because they're matching them up accordingly, know what I mean? I never thought Suzie should have even gotten into the Top 20. I never liked her. And I really don't like Chris. I wish he was eliminated last night too. I thought he was terrible in that Krumping routine, and it's not that he's too effiminate, but he's just too...wussy? I dunno. I just don't like his dancing at all.

I really think Courtney is super cute, and I like Gev, but neither of their dances have impressed me. The more I see of this couple, the more I like them:

She is really good, and for some odd reason, I just really like Mark. I don't normally like the tango that much, but I thought this one was really strong.

I think the pairings are really good. They seem to match the people up really well. Twitch and Kherrington have looked really strong the past couple of weeks. Twitch just seems so down to earth. I really like him. And she's so pretty, although I feel like the judges are more impressed with her face than with her dancing. She's still good though. I think it was going to be impossible for anyone to hate this dance with all the backstory to it. Luckily, they did pretty well with it.

Of all the couples though, I think these two have been the strongest for me. Joshua is so smooth, and even though I was so annoyed with Katie like everyone else probably was, she's turned out to be pretty good.

Will seems pretty awesome too, but I'm not as in love with him as the judges are. I wasn't able to find the Shane Sparks opening sequence from the results show. And as always, these videos will probably be down within a few days, so enjoy them while they're here. I think what's been most surprsing about this show for me has been how strong the male hip hop guys are, and then how weak the male contemporary guys are. It seems like the hip hop guys are going well outside their expected range, and then the contemporary guys can't handle anything that isn't right in their wheel-house. With the exception of Mark. I like him. I guess Will counts too, but it seems like he's probably a master of all of the styles.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Song of the Day

I love this song. Too bad the dance wasn't better on SYTYCD.

I know. I suck this week. And it's not for lack of things to post about, but my life whole life seems to revolve around making sure I get in my runs lately. It kind of stinks, but at the same time, it's nice to feel so on top of that. It might be overkill to try this, but I'm going to anyway - Hundred Pushup Challenge.

I am so pumped for this weekend. It starts tomorrow with our company picnic, and I have a few different friends all in town. It's nice. always, beach! Woo!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Time For Choosing

I read this speech today by Ronald Reagan. He gave it in support of the Goldwater campaign back in 1964. It's not that long, but as is anything I post on this blog, definitely worth reading. And I'll leave you with some excerpts (the emphases are my own):

This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves...

The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing.

Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, "What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power." But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.

Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we're always "against," never "for" anything...

We need true tax reform that will at least make a start toward restoring for our children the American Dream that wealth is denied to no one, that each individual has the right to fly as high as his strength and ability will take him.... But we cannot have such reform while our tax policy is engineered by people who view the tax as a means of achieving changes in our social structure....

Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional proportionate taxation? . . . Today in our country the tax collector's share is 37 cents of every dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp.

Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last.

If all of this seems like a great deal of trouble, think what's at stake. We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of a policy of accommodation.

Isn't it interesting? That speech was given more than 40 years ago, but are any of the issues really different then than they are now?

When I read this stuff, sometimes I'm inclined to think, well doesn't it always seem like it is always the most important election ever? Is there ever a time when these decisions and elections aren't the balancing point between falling from absolute good into absolute evil? I've largely ignored issues all my life, and I can't say that I feel like my life would be appreciably different if I did do a little more reading, vote in more elections, or just struck up more political conversations, so why should I bother to change that now?

Those excuses for indifference just don't work for me. The minor compromises we make now in not being informed and caring about what's going on in the world around us now lead us to the major concessions we make later in our ethics and values because we failed to uphold them before it was too late. The grounds for the same-sex marriage initiatives weren't laid in the last couple months, but years ago. There are lots of other examples, but I'm sure nobody read this far. It's important, and if we choose not to care about it now, then we're going to pay for it later.

The more I read Reagan's words and the more I read about him, the more I understand why there is so much reverence for him on the conservative side, on both sides, really.

John Galt's Oath

I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

Have you guys read Atlas Shrugged? It is one of the most compelling arguments advocating the morality of rational self-interest.

I've been trying to be a little bit more productive at work today, but I couldn't help looking over some items on the economic plans laid out by the two presidential candidates.

Guys...if you're not outraged that Obama could very well be the next president, then you're not doing enough to follow what's going on. If you're at all concerned about the economy, escalating gas/food prices, and taxes, then all of that should be reason enough for you to get in an uproar about what could happen over the next four years with him as president. Seriously.

Everything that the guy talks about in his economic plans is wealth-redistribution based. It has nothing to do with merit, and heavily taxing punishing the most fiscally productive members of society is not going to incentivise them toward investing more of the increasingly smaller incomes that they have. Allowing them a deserved larger share of the economic pie is in our best interest because it is in in their best interest to continue to scare up more business and more profits. It just is. More business means more jobs, more profits, and a larger pie that everyone can share.

Is it funny that all of those pie analogies from American Heritage just totally clicked for me? I haven't even thought of that stuff in 7 years since I was in that class. At least not in pie terminology. I'll have more later...on a couple of different things.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Marathon Training - 1st week

I'll do my best to make this interesting, but this is just to document a little about my running and serve as a record for me. I thought I might just put this on the journal blog, but someone might find this interesting so why not. And I'm also probably only going to do it on a weekly basis. That might change, but we'll see.

So of course, to start out, this part of the training is pretty light. After finishing the long run yesterday, I started to think if I should go with a more aggressive training plan considering how good I was feeling and how little soreness/tiredness I've been feeling. The training consists of 3 mid week runs that will gradually ramp up as I approach race day. The long run will be on Saturdays, starting out at 6 miles, and peaking at 20 miles 3 weeks before the actual marathon. If you're interested in what program I'm following then visit this website. And this is the running schedule that I'm following, although I've altered it a little to include Wednesday night soccer.

I didn't have any problems with the mid-week runs. My times are pretty modest, I think. I typically average a little over 8 minutes per mile. The prevailing knowledge suggests that to find out your potential marathon pace will be, add about 48 seconds to your 5k pace, 32 seconds to your 10k pace, and about 15 seconds or so to your half marathon pace and that will give you your average miles per hour/minutes per mile. Yesterday I covered the 6 miles much more quickly and easily than I had been expecting; i finished 6.2 miles in 50 minutes.

That was really encouraging for me because Saturday morning before I got out and actually running, I was feeling really intimidated. It has been a long time since I've run more than 5 miles. To be honest, I think the last time I covered that distance was during the Nike Run Hit Remix in LA. That was back in early September. Running 3-4 miles is easy for me now, but I wasn't sure that I would feel that great running 6 miles or more. With all of that thinking, I started to question whether or not doing this marathon was a very good idea. I have this internal battle all the time these days.

I think my primary concerns about running come with the impact of the running. Over the last 2 months as my running has become more consistent, it has taken a toll which I wasn't sure would go away. Especially in the beginning when I really started to run regularly, my shins and lower back would get really sore. I wasn't sure if the soreness was just me simply getting in better running shape, or if it was that my muscles, joints, and bones simply couldn't handle the impact. I wondered if my shoes provided enough shock resistance, or if my gait was poor. I guess this all comes mainly from the fact that I've never really maintained a consistent schedule of running. I've never had any problems doing it for soccer, but that kind of running feels so different when compared to the monotonous jarring that takes place when I'm pounding the pavement 3-4 days a week. To my surprise and satisfaction, besides the occassional aches and pains which I think are normal, I have more than ample strength and endurance to maintain the running.

I think that was what felt so encouraging about going out yesterday. Not only did I do it faster and with more energy than I had expected, but completing the run so pain-free and without feeling too drained throughout the rest of this weekend leaves me feeling really confident about how I'll be able to progress through the training. I had some really negative thoughts yesterday morning before I got out, but I feel full of confidence now and I think that's been the best part about this first week - feeling so encouraged about my ability to succeed.

If I had questions about my commitment to the training, I think I helped answer some of those when I ran Thursday night in spite of not being able to get out until pretty late (10:30pm), and fueled only by my burrito with steak, black beans, rice, and hot salsa. One of my favorite things about running this week has been the constant George Michael soundtrack running through my head. I have yet to take advantage of the modern technologies available to me, so running in silence leaves me either with my thoughts or the latest songs that have been stuck in my mind. Thursday night it was Father Figure and then yesterday it was I Knew You Were Waiting For Me.

One thing that I'm having a hard time with is not allowing myself to get too competitive with my running time in the race. If all the pacing is right that I mentioned earlier, than a reasonable expectation for me is to complete the marathon in about 4 hours. I guess I just don't want to get too wrapped up in making the time, or even improving it when I've yet to complete one of these races. I think everyone that I've talked to that has run a marathon before say to concentrate more on just completing the race and enjoying the experience than worrying about what my time will be.

What I really like is that now I'm actually really looking forward to the weeks ahead and the long runs on Saturdays. This upcoming Saturday will be 7 miles. By week 5 I will have to run 10 miles. Whereas yesterday morning I questioned whether or not I wanted to, or even would be able to run those distances, now I'm confident that I can.

I'm telling you...there are very few things that are more exciting than exceeding what you previously thought your capaciticies were.

Friday, June 13, 2008

SYTYCD Tickets

To the random person who commented on my blog wanting tickets...

Visit this website.

You're welcome. Go Courtney and Twitch!

Nice! Tickets!

So I wasn't all that excited about this movie because of the last one, which was alright, but mostly boring. I haven't watched it since, so maybe my opinion of it will have changed since then. But after hearing a lot of the buzz and seeing how favorably it's been faring amongst critics, I'm getting pretty geeked up for the second big comic book movie of the summer. I'm kind of thinking a double feature tomorrow is in order. Yup, I want to see The Happening. What can I say? I love Milford Night Shamalamalan's work, even Lady in the Water. I know, most people thought that one sucked, but I like his imagination and the way he uses humor in his films. I think it's pretty clever most of the time. Kind of like how I dig on the way Brad Pitt does humor. Not your typical jokes, but they do subtle things that resonate with me.

I saw Groovaloos last night and let me tell you - AWESOME! You guys have to go see it. I'll be writing more about that one. I think I might do a Blogcritics post even though it won't get any love.

Lakers? Yeah...glad I didn't watch that game. I have a post a-brewin' about being a sports fan as well. Perhaps also destined for Blogcritics.

Oh...and guess who has 4 tickets to this Monday's taping of So You Think You Can Dance? Woowoo! So gay...You know what I've been doing lately? I've been watching the show scouring the audience for the other guys in their late 20s who are attending. Yes, there are others. want in? So far I have 2 extra tickets...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

And We're Back!

I didn't see the whole show, but that does was my favorite of the night. I totally got the chills when I saw that one. How gay am I? I won't be able to get to a recap until tomorrow probably, but I still kind of have a love affair with this show. I don't have a favorite guy yet, but Courtney Galiano is my favorite, even though that disco was pretty weak. Let's be honest though, getting the disco or the waltz on that show is like being automatically relegated to the bottom 3 unless it is outstanding. hot. Yesterday on Kevin & Bean they had this super gay dude on the show and he shared a gay haiku that I thought was hilarious:

I don't understand;
You love it when I do that.
Wait, no. That's Steven.

That's all I have right now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Consumerism and Budgeting

I saw that video the other day on one of the blogs that I peruse. I don't necessarily agree with everything that it has to say, but it's a pretty interesting take on just learning to live a little more frugally and less hyper-consumerish. The part on perceived obsolesence is really interesting. I'm trying to think of what things that I've purchased recently that fall into this category - I guess my laptop. I don't really do it with clothes. Something that I've been thinking about recently is what the correlation might be between the amount of television a person watches and amount of spending that occurs. The underlying relationship I'm interested in is the amount of exposure to advertisements and how that correlates into increasing spending behaviors. Luckily for me, I pretty much only watch sports so the things I'm prompted to buy are expensive cars and medicine for ED. Being that I don't have the budget for a car, and that I'm not even really in a position to know if I have ED, it allows me to escape much of the consumer itch.

With all of my reading of finance blogs and money news from different sources, I've really been trying to reign in my spending and know exactly where my money is going. Those blogs that I've linked to the left have been really helpful, with all kinds of useful tips. I signed up with Charles Schwab for my checking account, but still have my Wells Fargo and have been using one for my bills and expenses, and the other for the allowance that I get for food and fun during the week. I've tried to eat out less, but I'm having the worst time trying to make that happen. I think I've spent the last 10 years of my life eating out about 75% of the time. I know. It's absurd. One other thing that I've been doing is writing down everything that I spend on a notecard. It's tedious, but I think after a couple of months I'll have a really good sense of how much money I waste and how I can better allocate my resources.

This last week has been a challenge though. I went to a concert last week, going to see Groovaloos tomorrow night, and then the Angels this Friday. It's all within the budget, but combined with last week's expenses, I've had to try to make it the whole week on about $25. So last night I went to Albertsons, maximized on all that I could on whatever was cheapest and I think I'll be able to do it.

I get a certain amount of excitement over being able to exert some type of self-control. Okay, it's probably a lot of excitement. For example, I've been most succcessful with eating and exercise the last couple of years. Can you believe that I got up to 197 lbs. at one point about 3 years ago? When I reached that point I just said enough was enough, got a gym pass, changed my eating habits, and 3 years later I've been 20 lbs less with little fluctuation. And I think I have a reasonable eating pattern where I can eat and exercise on a realistic type of schedule, something that I can actually sustain. I only exercise about 4-5 hours a week, eat smaller portions, and I don't think I've had to sacrifice much at all. I'm pretty proud of that.

I bring all of that up because the same sort of thrill that I get from being disciplined about my health habits are similar to the ones that I've been experiencing with figuring out how to best manage my finances. It's been hard the last month or so when I've started, but it's been kind of exciting this week to really commit to not going outside of my alotted budget. I was about to just say screw it and dip into next week's amount, but I knew that if at any point I could just say no to myself, then that would be the same time when I can make real change happen.

While I'm not that excited to eat PB&J or mac & cheese for a couple of meals this week, I am really glad to know that at some point in the near future I'm going to figure all of this out and I'll learn how I can create a surplus and maybe one day, wealth. By the end of the summer I'm hoping that I'll have enough set aside to where I can actually do some investing.

So...if you know of any resources that might be helpful in learning about asset allocation, stocks, etc, please let me know.

Something that the guy from I Will Teach You To Be Rich says on his blog a lot is that there is a difference between being sexy and being rich. It's definitely not sexy to write that I spent $4.84 for a chicken bowl on my little notecard, but I'd much rather be at a point where I actually have money available to travel and make grown-up purchases. I guess I just think that I'd like my money to go more towards experiences and less towards things. I think it'd be cool to set a goal to be a millionaire by 40. Or even just to go on a sweet trip next summer. Anybody with me? I'm thinking either a South America tour or go over to Europe and catch a soccer game, among other things. Just throwing that out there. Feel free to throw it on back.

Monday, June 9, 2008

26.2 Miles

This is the week when I officially start my marathon training for the October 12th Chicago Marathon. To be honest, I've been looking around a lot in my mind for reasons that I can back out of it. It could be a money thing, too busy with school, or maybe I just plain can't do it. I've got my calendar printed up with the mileage that I have to cover each week and I'm really intimidated by it. I mean really. The first month doesn't seem that bad, averaging about 15-17 miles a week, running 4 times during the week. What really scares me is August and September when I'm supposed to run a total of 273 miles during those two months. The average mileage per week at that point will be about 30 miles.

One of my biggest concerns about running the marathon is wondering whether or not I can actually do it. The last several weeks I've been doing about 12-14 a week and at first it was pretty bad. Some days running the same route, with about the same amount of rest can be so completely different from one week to the next. Last week I thought I was going to fall apart on the first day of running, and then after that it wasn't so bad. Except for that part on Saturday when I decided to run in the late afternoon after having eaten only a couple of tacos from Jack in the Box. I guess it just surprises me how different the same path, running the same distance can be so different from one day to the next. My lower back is always the most sore when I start out, but then by the end I feel like I'm absorbing my entire weight's shock in my shins. I probably just need to break down and buy some new running shoes. I'm pretty sure these ones are about 6 months old. I miss the days of just going to the gym and lifting some weights for about 45 minutes and not feeling that tired. Running takes it out of me, but probably because I'm still trying to maintain a weightlifting component to my exercise regimen. I'm sure that will go away.

So why do I want to run a marathon? I want to do it because it feels really good to do hard things. I get a real lift from setting a goal and then seeing it fulfilled. I know that I'm never going to run 100m under 10 seconds, play a professional sport, or do accomplish a number of other athletic feats, but it seems like running 26.2 miles is a real possibility. I think that's something that's within everyone's capacity because I think it's mostly just a mental battle. I want to do it because I feel like if some old lady can run that far, then why can't I? I'm a guy who fancies himself to be pretty athletic and if I were a professional athlete, I would be in the prime of my career. Now is the time. But I think that's the main reason - I want to know that I can do hard things. I want to do things and not just talk about them. I want to know that even though sometimes some thing may make me question whether or not I can succeed, that I'll do everything I can to get there. And this challenge, quite literally, is going to test my ability to reach that end destination.

Only now it's pretty intimidating. I'm doing this all by myself, going to a city that I've never been to before. And I'm moving up to Utah in the middle of the most intense part of the training. Luckily, I've realized that if I'm going to follow through with it that I've got to commit myself in as many ways as possible. I've already paid for registration. I've announced it to various friends and acquiantances, and now it's appearing more on the blog. So...I'm going to try and keep you all abreast of how the training is going, and if you could do me a favor and ask me about it from time to time, that would help also. Because heaven knows that after running tonight, I barely felt like I could run a couple of miles, let alone 26.2.

Remember AIDS?

I'm going to post a long excerpt from an article I read because the author doesn't have an archive. Or at least the Wall Street Journal doesn't provide that service for free. I'm not going to blockquote it or anything, but the emphases in italics and bold are mine. So this is what I wanted to show you...

"A quarter of a century after the outbreak of Aids, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has accepted that the threat of a global heterosexual pandemic has disappeared," reports the Independent, a leftist London daily:

In the first official admission that the universal prevention strategy promoted by the major Aids organisations may have been misdirected, Kevin de Cock, the head of the WHO's department of HIV/Aids said there will be no generalised epidemic of Aids in the heterosexual population outside Africa.

Dr De Cock, an epidemiologist who has spent much of his career leading the battle against the disease, said understanding of the threat posed by the virus had changed. Whereas once it was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients.

Dr De Cock said: "It is very unlikely there will be a heterosexual epidemic in other countries. Ten years ago a lot of people were saying there would be a generalised epidemic in Asia--China was the big worry with its huge population. That doesn't look likely. But we have to be careful. As an epidemiologist it is better to describe what we can measure. There could be small outbreaks in some areas."

Oh, well, never mind! Anyone old enough to remember the 1980s will recall that America was subjected to a heterosexual AIDS scare. As Time magazine reported in 1985:

By early this year, most Americans had become aware of AIDS, conscious of a trickle of news about a disease that was threatening homosexuals and drug addicts. AIDS, the experts said, was spreading rapidly. The number of cases was increasing geometrically, doubling every ten months, and the threat to heterosexuals appeared to be growing. But it was the shocking news two weeks ago of Actor Rock Hudson's illness that finally catapulted AIDS out of the closet, transforming it overnight from someone else's problem, a "gay plague," to a cause of international alarm. AIDS was suddenly a front-page disease, the lead item on the evening news and a frequent topic on TV talk shows.

Two years later, "How Heterosexuals Are Coping With AIDS" was the topic of a Time cover story:

At first AIDS seemed an affliction of drug addicts and especially of homosexuals, a "gay disease."

No longer. The numbers as yet are small, but AIDS is a growing threat to the heterosexual population. Straight men and women in some cases do not believe it, in some cases do not want to believe it. But barring the development of a vaccine, swingers of all persuasions may sooner or later be faced with the reality of a new era of sexual caution and restraint.

Now perhaps it is true that the AIDS scare bred "sexual caution and restraint." It did strike us on reading this passage that the word swingers sounds awfully quaint.

In 1991, basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson announced that he was infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The following year, a Time cover declared: "Losing the Battle: Mysterious Non-HIV Cases Emerge. The Search for a Cure Stalls. Infection Among Women Grows."

And then . . . the AIDS scare fizzled out. Treatments improved; Magic Johnson reportedly has not contracted full-blown AIDS, nearly 17 years after his HIV diagnosis. The disease did not spread to the general population in America--or, as WHO now acknowledges, in most of the rest of the world.

A search of Time covers turns up only three dealing with AIDS since 1992: one in 1996 on Johnson's brief return to the NBA; another that same year on AIDS researcher David Ho, Time's Man of the Year; and one in 2001, on AIDS in Africa. (We don't mean to single out Time, which happens to be one of the few news sources with comprehensive archives available on the Web.)
None of this is to gainsay concern over AIDS in Africa, which is a genuine catastrophe. But the dire warnings of the 1980s that everyone was at risk from AIDS turned out to be false. Those warnings made for more gripping journalism, of course, and they also served certain ideological interests. Social conservatives, who believed sex outside marriage was wrong, were able to argue that it was dangerous as well. (To be fair, it is, but not nearly as much so as the late-'80s AIDS reportage would have had us believe.)

Gay-rights advocates, meanwhile, overcame a huge threat to their cause. Without the heterosexual AIDS scare, it is unlikely that homosexuality would have achieved the degree of public acceptance it has since the 1980s. Indeed, gays might have found themselves abandoned by liberals, who today tend to value hygiene over individual freedom (and if you don't believe us, try walking into a gay bar in New York City and lighting a cigarette).

The AIDS epidemic that wasn't is one reason we are skeptical of global warmism, another purported cataclysm that is supposedly just around the corner, that is purportedly based on science but about which one may not ask questions, and that dovetails conveniently with pre-existing ideological agendas.

Ten or 20 years hence, will we be reading articles about the U.N. admitting that global warming wasn't all it was cracked up to be? Let's hope so.

This all comes courtest of James Taranto over at the Best of the Web Today page on the Wall Street Journal.

As much as I hate OPEC and find that coalition of countries so annoying, I hate the global-warming alarmists even more. There are so many things going on right now and I'm almost positive that 95% of the people have no idea how greatly they are all going to be affected by environmentalists. It's because of the environmentalist movements going on that we can't put ourselves in a position where we're not dependent on OPEC for our oil. Our ability to develop alternative energy sources is hampered because people are sounding false alarms. I'm not sure if I posted this quote when it came out, but it's relevant to this topic. It comes from the Czeck president who warns that environmentalism is becoming the new totalitarianism:
"As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not communism."

"This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning."

The full article is an interesting one. So there you go.

Why No Posts?

Has everything stopped? No videos? Am I not taking a ride on the information super highway these days? What gives? I know you're all so worried about why I've dropped out for 4 days. 4! I know...that's a long time. And it's not like a lot of stuff hasn't been going on either, or that I haven't been doing things.
  • NBA Finals and not a peep? Maybe because my guys are sucking. Hard. I guess they made a run of it at the end last night, but I couldn't even bear to watch it. Know what else? I HATE watching sports with people who are opposing my team. It seriously cannot make me more angry. I get super rigid and don't feel like I can say anything. And anything else the other person does irritates the hell out of me. No, seriously. I'm not an angry person by any means, but very few things can set me off the way seeing my team get racked on does.
  • I went to a Strung Out show on Friday night, and yes, it was awesome. I've been debating writing about it, but more like I'm telling a story. I might just do that.
  • I've been having tons of thoughts recently about my mom's situation. I will definitely be writing about that one pretty soon.
  • Dinner with friends on Saturday. I love them. Love them all. I brought a camera and didn't take any pictures. I do that quite often. I don't know why. It's like I have to be in a certain mood to want to take pictures. Even when I bother to bring the camera with me, I'm not always in that mood.
  • Angels have been killin' it lately. They went 5-1 on their road trip. I was disappointed, however, with that loss yesterday. It went to extra innings, and several times from the 9th inning on they had multiple runners on base with less than 2 outs, and they couldn't finish it. Plus, Chris Bootcheck sucks. Sucks bad. Everytime I see that guy pitch he gets hammered. He's not ready yet. Not by a long shot. This week they play Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and then the NY Mets. They are all good series. I'm especially excited about Atlanta because I've been a fan of theirs for a long time. Many years, and I'm really pumped to see Chipper Jones hit. The guy is hitting like .420. He'll be out the next couple days, but should be back for this series. I might try and see the Saturday game if Tom Glavine is going to be pitching. I have both of their rookie cards. Still. Yup, I'm a dork. But you know that - I collect comics too. Remember?
  • And this week, I officially start my marathon training. Oi. I'll post about that one first.
  • Not to mention tons of politics stuff going on. Have you heard of the cap and trade stuff getting debated in the senate? Of course not, but you will soon because it could instantly pump up gas prices by another $.50 at least. It's disastrous. Know what's instigating those talks? Global warming. Alarmists - I hate them. Be alarmed about alarmists.

See? Lots of stuff, but I just haven't found a lot of free time to post about it all. And I haven't been so excited about Blogcritics anymore. I should probably give it a go for more time before I toss out that idea. Probably what stymied my energy the most has been that I never got the review stuff from the MxPx people. That really bugged me. the words of my beloved Governor (can anyone believe that? That still trips me out sometimes, but you have to give the man many people are complaining about the work that he's done? Very few) - I'll be back.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Are You Ready For Some NBA Finals?

I'm super excited about the Finals, but this week I had to stop listening to a lot of sports talk radio because pretty much the only thing they're talking about is the series, which has yet to even happen. How many different ways can you say the same things over and over? Apparently you can do it for a whole week. I just got tired of it.

I say Lakers in six. And obviously my allegiances are with my boys that have a name that makes absolutely no sense. A bit of trivia for yous...why are they called the Lakers anyway? Comment for me. I'd love it if you came up with something absolutely absurd. Anyway...but this video is so classic so I totally have to overlook the fact that it's of Larry Bird. It's a bunch of highlights set to Small Town by John Cougar. It'll get you pumped up. If you're a dude.

More Josh Hamilton

Guys...if you didn't follow the links on my first post about Josh Hamilton, I implore you to visit this link and read those articles now. The story is just so compelling and the extremes of his situation are so immense.

A few days ago I read this article about his wife. Today I found this interview from about a year ago. His story in his words, briefly. Here are some excerpts:

Addiction is a humbling experience. Getting it under control is even more humbling. I got better for one reason: I surrendered. Instead of asking to be bailed out, instead of making deals with God by saying, "If you get me out of this mess, I'll stop doing what I'm doing," I asked for help. I wouldn't do that before. I'd been the Devil Rays' No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft, supposedly a five-tool prospect. I was a big, strong man, and I was supposed to be able to handle my problems myself. That didn't work out so well.

Every day I'm reminded that my story is bigger than me. It never fails. Every time I go to the ballpark, I talk to people who are either battling addictions themselves or trying to help someone else who is. Who talks to me? Just about everybody. I walked to the plate to lead off an inning in early May, minding my own business, when the catcher jogged out to the mound to talk to his pitcher. As I was digging in, the home plate umpire (I'm intentionally not naming him) took off his mask and walked around the plate to brush it off. He looked up at me and said, "Josh, I'm really pulling for you. I've fought some battles myself, and I just want you to know I'm rooting for you."

***** I'LL NEVER forget Opening Day in Cincinnati. When they called my name during introductions and a sellout crowd stood and cheered, I looked into the stands and saw Katie and our two kids -- Sierra, who's nearly 2, and my 6-year-old stepdaughter, Julia -- and my parents and Katie's parents. I had to
swallow hard to keep from breaking down right there. They were all crying, but I had to at least try to keep it together.

I pinch-hit in the eighth inning of that game against the Cubs, and Lou Piniella decided to make a pitching change before I got to the plate. The crowd stood and cheered me for what seemed like forever. It was the best sound I've ever heard. When I got into the box, Cubs catcher Michael Barrett looked up at me from his crouch and said, "You deserve it, Josh. Take it all in, brother. I'm happy for you." I lined out to left, but the following week I got my first start and my first hit -- a home run.

Those last couple paragraphs really got to me. I can't wait to see him play again. It's so cool that he's so open to sharing his story too. I can only imagine how many people he's going to be able to reach out to. The interview is really great reading, so do yourself a favor and visit that link.

And how is he doing this season? Leads the American League in home runs, RBIs, and is top 5 in batting average. Through the first two months of the season he looks like a serious threat to win the triple crown that hasn't been earned in over 30 years.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Some Movies

This morning on KROQ I heard Jenna Fischer promoting her new movie The Promotion, and I think I fell in love with her. Not only is she awesome in the The Office, but she just seemed so down to earth in the interview. The movie looks really funny. I wonder what warrants the R-rating...

Last night I finally saw 21 at the dollar theater. How great of an invention is the cheap movie theater? One of my favorite things about Provo before Southern California finally got with the program and put a few of our own in. I thought the movie was really entertaining. I think I'm also in love with Jim Sturgess. The story was entertaining, and even more so when you think that it actually happened. From what Dave told me about the book, a lot of things that occurred in the movie seemed true to the real story. I will say that this one was probably 10x better than the latest Indiana Jones. I didn't hate that one as much as a lot of other people did. Something Money said that I thought was funny was that because he hadn't seen it yet, he actually felt like he was missing out because he couldn't join in with other people who just couldn't stand the vine-swinging scene.

Anyway...I was going to post more trailers, which made me think of this spoof for The Shining. Enyoi!

My Favorite Columnist

Whenever I read Jay Nordlinger, I distinctly get the feeling that his pieces are virtuous, lovely, and of good report because I get the feeling that he is that way himself. I've posted him before on here, but he is an editor for National Review and contributes (at least) weekly columns called Impromptus where he addresses anything and everything. He'll always touch on politics, obviously, but he'll also do classical music critiques and comment frequently on food and sports. I just love him. I hope we all read stuff that is uplifting. Anyway, yesterday he wrote:
Hmm, speaking of public servants: Barack Obama gave the commencement address at Wesleyan University. And, naturally, he called for the kids to enter “public service.” That’s what they all call for. And this is of a piece with Mrs. O.’s infamous statement (one of them), to wit,

We [Barack and she] left corporate America, which is a lot of what we’re asking young people to do. Don’t go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we’re encouraging our young people to do that. But if you make that choice, as we did, to move out of the money-making industry into the helping industry, then your salaries respond.

Just once — one friggin’ time in my life — I’d like to hear a commencement speaker say, “You know what I think you should do? If you can, I think you should start a business. You should think of an idea, and act on it. Give the public a product or service it needs. And make your company grow, and enrich your shareholders. That is a wonderful thing you could do for yourself, your neighbors, and mankind.”

But we are unlikely to hear that at a commencement ceremony, and you know why? Because America is a capitalist country where, curiously, a socialist mindset holds sway. Does Obama have any idea why he has such a rich country to play with, politically? Where does he think those tax revenues come from? Does he have any idea at all?

Building a better mouse trap, and selling it at an affordable price, is a public service. Michelle Obama speaks of a “money-making industry” and a “helping industry.” Evidently, she didn’t learn very much at Princeton and Harvard, or wherever she went. Henry Ford and Bill Gates have “helped” her a lot. Only she doesn’t know it.

Barack Obama looks out at veterans and says he sees “fallen heroes.” He wonders how the actors got up on Mt. Rushmore for North by Northwest. He says that the Reverend Wright “married Michelle and I.”

But never forget that George W. Bush is stupid — and Dan Quayle, and Reagan, and Ford, and Goldwater, and Ike, and nearly every other Republican. Never forget it.

Friends, I’ve got much more for you, but I think I’ve ranted enough today — and, if I’m not careful, we’ll have to rename Impromptus “Rantings.”

Catch you soon, dearhearts, and thanks.

Jay just feels genuinely friendly to me. The two points that he makes with respect to Obama are that the North by Northwest scene Obama is referring to was obviously done on a set, and then the language gaffe. He's right, though, because if Bush or Quayle or any of those other Republicans made similar mistakes in the same week, the press would be all over them. Or have you forgotten "potatoe?" I was probably only 8 years old when that happened and I still remember it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pork and Beans

This morning I heard Pork and Beans by Wheezer on the radio and was thinking to myself about how much I loved the video Buddy Holly. And by chance, Greg sent me over the link to this video and this is my new favorite music video (although that Damn Yankees one is still up there):

Do you guys recognize all of the references they make on there? I get most of them, but some I just have no clue. I don't know the GI Joe looking one, the t-shirt one, or the one with the black guy twirling around the bo staff, among others. I love that video, and the more I hear the song, the more I like it.

Am I the only person who gets a sense of accomplishment when I eat a salad? It's almost as much as when I go running. Like I usually hate myself while I'm doing it, but then I finish it and I think, "wow...way to go!"

Lately I've been visiting IBD Editorials a lot. I don't think that I've linked them yet on the blog. They have articles on a variety of different topics. Lately, they've been coinciding a lot with my interests, namely, fuel and the economy. I just read this article today, and I think it sums up pretty well a lot about the current state of things with public perception of the economy. One excerpt:

ABC, CBS and NBC made comparisons to America's worst economic turmoil — the Great Depression — more than 40 times in the first four months of 2008.

Compare that with how the New York Times summed up its own market outlook in an Oct. 30, 1929, story after billions of dollars were lost in record trading. "Despite the drastic decline, sentiment in Wall Street last night was more cheerful than it has been on any day since the torrent of selling got under way," wrote the paper.

Words like "optimism" and "hope" shouted off the pages of major newspapers. The Oct. 31, 1929, Times described the devastating six-day decline:

"The market quickly regained its poise and stability."

The same day, the Washington Post discussed "the passing of the crisis."

The difference between how the media handled a crisis in 1929 and 2008 was astounding. Network news was four times more negative about the Bear Stearns buyout than major newspapers were about the 1929 crash, which many historians link to the beginning of the Depression.

Although things are tighter for most people probably, it still isn't a recession. At least not yet. I read somewhere that while the housing market is in the dumps, technology is soaring like it never has before, but when you read this, that's probably the first that you've even heard about that.

I think I posted a similar article not too long ago about the overwhelming sense of pessimism that is prevailing these days. It's just crazy to me that so many people are so down on everything, but when you look at your own personal financial situation, it's probably not even that bad. Are you just annoyed at gas prices or are you actually considering using public transportation or participating in a ride-sharing program at work? Have you not made any majorpurchases over a couple of hundred dollars or forgoing buying anything significant in the next few months? Have you taken a trip in the last few months or will you be taking any this summer? If things are as bad as everyone thinks it is, then you wouldn't be doing any of those things unless you're just being reckless. Yeah, money is kind of tight for most people, but not enough to actually disrupt the conveniences we've been enjoying. I know I look at things through the prism of living in and being a part of a pretty affluent community, but I suspect that nothing drastic has happened to most people financially. It's just my guess, is all.

Monday, June 2, 2008

$100 Million Dollar Swing

I'm sure you all heard about the Lakers winning Game 5 in the Western Conference Finals, thus, securing themselves a berth in the NBA Finals. The interesting part of the story? The Lakers were 7.5 point favorites and were up by 5 points with the last possession. If you were watching the game, you saw Sasha Vujacic dribble up court and rather than just run out the clock he shot a three as time expired, making the shot. Although it was a jerk thing for him to do, everyone who picked San Antonio to cover the spread on that game lost their bets when he jacked that one up there. Gamblers estimate that with the shot it swung $100,000,000 the other way. 2/3s of all bets were for San Antonio, and all those people lost their money because of him.


As a forewarning, this is going to be a journal-ish post, so if you came looking for sports, politics, or something with a video attached to it, then come back later.

In January I learned that a girl I had dated for a long time was going to be getting married. She and I went through the whole spectrum of feelings that you can feel while dating someone, from very good to very bad, back and forth, several times over. Until about October, it had ended up on the bad side of things and then had turned into nothing at all. After erasing her completely from my life and having no contact from May until October, I decided to write her a letter expressing my regret for how I had handled things and wishing her well. I think it was prompted by seeing her at institute one week, and I did my best to not make it one of those weak apologies where I said "I'm sorry for what I did, but if you hadn't..." and just left it up to her. She responded in kind, and since then we've had few interactions, but of what has occurred in the last six months or so, it has all been very positive.

She dated her husband for about two months before they got engaged and were married this last weekend. I thought I would be more adversely affected by her engagement and subsequent marriage than I was. At the time that I found out that she had gotten engaged in January, I was dating someone. When I told that girl about it, I think she also expected more of a negative reaction. I even thought maybe last weekend when I went to the reception that it would be a little bit harder for me. It wasn't, wasn't even hard at all. In fact, the only part that I didn't like about going to the reception was that I had to leave the beach a little bit earlier than I really wanted to before heading over to see her.

Yesterday I was sitting in sacrament meeting just thinking about all of this, and why I might have been feeling so at ease about everything and I think it really just comes down to reconciliation. I wrote that letter to her, and later I even wrote another one to her parents. A few months ago I saw her mom and dad in an endowment session, and at the point where there is audience participation, her dad tapped me on the shoulder to have me join him and his wife in that part of the ceremony. They also happened to be the first two people I saw when I arrived at the reception on Saturday. The bride looked beautiful, and it was nice to see her family and friends that I hadn't seen in a few years. It surprised me to remember how connected I was to all of those people, and how much I really cared about them.

There were a lot of things with her that I wish had gone differently, but of all the things that I'm grateful for that went right, it's knowing that we had both put aside our hurt feelings and chose to reconcile and extend forgiveness to one another. It was so nice to see her and be genuinely excited to see her happy and moving on with her life. And I was so glad that her dad was also the last person I saw on the way out; and it was nice to hug him, and hear from him and say to him, "I love you."

We can hold on to grudges, wrongs, past hurts, and often it can be with good reason. Sometimes getting to the point of wanting to extend forgiveness does require the process of time to heal our wounds, but the active pursuit of forgiveness is something that we choose to experience. I don't think it comes without our persistent effort to arrive at that moment of reconciliation. While I was thinking about all this, it made me think of the verses from the sermon on the mount, when Jesus says "love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be children of our Father which is in heaven." I've had some uninvited opportunities to work on this doctrine in the past year, and it surprises me to no end how effective prayer is in experiencing the release that forgiveness brings. Whatever our reasons might be, it's not worth putting off the sweet feelings of peace that can be ours by working to restore the former compatibilities.

It's nice to know that I've come to terms with that part of my life, because it dominated the better part of 2002-2007. Although we'll probably never have a relationship again with any kind of consistent contact, I'm glad knowing that we left things right. And I'm so glad to know that I can be happy for her without any reservations about my own future.