Monday, January 31, 2011

Love My People

So it's my best friend's beautiful wife's (Caitlin) Smurfday today and for some reason my feelings are closer to the surface about my loved ones today. Isn't she so pretty?

Here are five things that I just love about Caitlin:
  1. Her insatiable hunger for games. Really. It's like a meth addict type addiction for her. It's unreal.
  2. Her tendency towards a 10-year old type diet because I think I trend that way too. I know I do. She just loves treats and it's kind of awesome.
  3. She is one of the wittiest girls I know.
  4. She totally gets her husband's humor, and everyone does because he's funny, but she just rolls her eyes at it a lot of the time and I think that in itself is funny.
  5. She makes my best friend a much better man than he could ever be without her.
This morning I started scrolling through blogs of my friends and Amy's family, and I was really kind of overwhelmed with how much I love all of these people. I am excited to have some time in a couple weekends with Mary and Scott and Elisha and the kids. I am so excited to head back home this month, even if it's only a few days. I'm super excited to hang out with all of my buddies at the end of the month for a bachelor party. And one of the best parts about getting married next month is having all of my favorite people in one location to celebrate with Amy and I.

There's no greater satisfaction for me than the people in my life. Happy birthday, Caitlin!

(You too, Mike. You didn't get a blog shout-out, but I still want to go out to just a Silva and Mike Reid lunch this week, albeit, a couple weeks late.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Here We Go, Cougars

I'm a lot a bit disappointed about tonight. I bought tickets to the BYU v. SDSU game weeks ago in anticipation of this game. Our very own #9 team is hosting a #6 team and winner assumes the top position in the conference? Yes, please.

Only I realized last week that I have to teach a class tonight. So we gave away our tickets to Amy's brother and sister-in-law. Shame. I also walked past Jimmer on campus the other day. Nobody else really seemed to notice him. Funny how that works, right? I wanted to approach him because it would be cool to say when he gets to the NBA, I met that kid way back when...

Maybe some day.

Other sports comments:
  • The Angels traded for Vernon Wells over the weekend. Some of my friends are really sour on the trade, but I think this is something that actually returns them to prominence. I'm behind the trade 100%. They complain about the contract, but I applaud the acquisition of a legitimate 3 or 4 hitter in the lineup. How do they not realize that with just that move alone the Angels actually become a threat with their lineup again?
  • I'm a little bit in love with Aaron Rodgers. Is it because he spells his last name with a "d"? Yes, a little. But mostly it's just that the guy has had to take a pretty circuitous route to the NFL. He received zero scholarships out of high school, but still found his way to a good program. He made them legitimate, and then he had to suffer in agony while every camera was trained on him as teams passed over him in the NFL draft. He had to sit behind resident d-bag Brett Favre for several years before finally getting his shot as a staring QB in the NFL, and now there's no denying that he's one of the elite QBs. But what is it that makes him so endearing? I think it's the Facebook fan page dedicated to his TD celebration.
I am very excited for this year's Super Bowl. I'm a little bit dead inside because I can't get to tonight's basketball game. But it's no big deal. My teams are rockin' generally, and in the sport where my team faded off awhile, there is still someone awesome to root for.

Let's go Cougars and Packers.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Round-Up

I know I've done this before, and my readers don't really follow current events or politics as much as I'd like y'all to, but here are some recommendations for some people around the web that you might, possibly, perhaps like to read some more from sometime:
  • Jay Nordlinger - this is my guy. I quote him almost every time I have a post on here. He's a genuine person, conservative in his politics, and just a wonderful human being. I even wrote him one time about one of his columns and he actually responded to me. Isn't that cool? It was brief, but still. Anyway, check him out on National Review.
  • Jeff Jacoby - Only in the last several months to year have I really started following this guy. Now I get his weekly email that includes his column. He writes for he Boston Globe, but he's got a wonderfully sensible take on just about everything. And he writes about interesting things, but they aren't limited to just your usual current events stuff.
  • James Taranto - he writes for the Wall Street Journal. He's very quippy, Has just a great take on politics, very grounded. His (usually) daily piece is called Best of the Web Today.
  • David Brooks - writes for the NY Times. I used to follow him a lot more than I do now. My less frequent reading of him doesn't owe to anything in particular. He's mostly a moderate writer, but he has a great take that's a slight different spin on things. Good stuff.
  • Michael Barone - writes for the Washington Examiner which is by and large, a conservative newspaper. He's a great political analyst and crunches numbers hard, but gives great, very readable insights.
There are a number of others who are good too - Charles Krauthammer, Byron York, Thomas Sowell, among others. They're worth reading. Great commentary.

And I leave you with this Friday song. Not sure why I'm so into it, but it's been my jam this week.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Morning Thoughts About Benevolent Sexism

So everyone knows what hostile sexism is - it's what you typically think of when it comes to sexism generally. Benevolent sexism is a different strand. It is the kind that causes men to open doors, pay for meals, those kinds of things. It's the nice variety. Normally it's accompanied by a paternalistic, talking-down-to kind of patronizing. It can point to really negative behavioral traits, but generally I think it's just being nice, and it's mostly welcome.


Anyway, I started thinking about this on the bus this morning. Actually, I've been thinking about it every time lately on the morning bus ride to Salt Lake because the bus has been unusually full in the last little while. So many people are getting on to ride, in fact, that at least a few people (sometimes many) are left without seats for the 45 minute ride and are left to stand in the aisle. Men will usually get up and allow women to sit in their places, and this morning one man even went so far as to ask some inattentive young man to give up his seat for a woman that was standing in front of him.

It kind of bothered me a little, and here's why: everyone on that bus is on his or her way up to Salt Lake, and it's an early hour, and it requires waiting outside in the cold, 12 degrees this morning to be exact. I used to drive from my place out to a later exit so that I wouldn't have to stay on the bus as long, but with the overcrowding I've taken to getting up earlier to get on at an earlier stop so that I can get my own seat and not have to stand. This is important to me just because I depend on being seated so that I can get a good 30-40 minute nap on the bus before getting to work. I get up earlier and will wait longer if it means I can get a seat. Anyone else can do the same.

I'm not opposed to giving up my seat to a woman. I've done it a few times on the way back to Utah County without complaint or hesitation. I don't mind when everyone has the same opportunity for the same seats, but there is something that bothers me when anyone else can do what I do and just get up a little earlier and make sure you get on the bus before it fills up. I think that taking more time out of my day and getting up earlier is a cost to bear, and with that cost, I expect to have a seat. Is that unreasonable?

In any case, I mostly remove the need to give up my seat by going to the very back of the bus and reserving for myself a window seat. Turns out people won't ask you to get up if it's really inconvenient to get to your seat. And that is the benefit to being observant.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to Parent

Did anyone see the article, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, last week? Mona Charen over at NRO has a response to the article that you can find here. As you might imagine, the original article is pretty harsh in its tone, the parenting style very brash and demanding. Let me give you some excerpts:
What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it's math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more...

The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable—even legally actionable—to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, "Hey fatty—lose some weight." By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of "health" and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image. (I also once heard a Western father toast his adult daughter by calling her "beautiful and incredibly competent." She later told me that made her feel like garbage.)

Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best. Chinese parents can say, "You're lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you." By contrast, Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they're not disappointed about how their kids turned out...

I've noticed that Western parents are extremely anxious about their children's self-esteem. They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding a mediocre performance on a test or at a recital. In other words, Western parents are concerned about their children's psyches. Chinese parents aren't. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.
There were over 4,000 comments to the article, which is a record for the WSJ. It elicited a lot of strong feelings from parents.

But maybe not as negative in their reactions as you might expect. Charen points out, "The tiger mothers may overdo it a bit — but let’s face it, many American parents are too reluctant to demand work that isn’t “fun” and too ready to believe that our children have something to teach us rather than the other way around."

Admittedly, I don't know anything about parenting from my own experience. I can only conjecture about what I would do or how I might react given certain situations, but I don't know what kind of temperament my kids will have, or how even my own response while actually in that role of parent. However, I think there is some merit to what the author mentions.

There is such a strong push in our society to protect and boost self-esteem, but as Chua points out, depression, anxiety, and other related disorders run rampant, and maybe more now than ever before in spite of our best efforts to coddle and protect. I think there is some sense to her assertion that it's good to assume strength and not fragility. Her harsh manner is very likely not the best method for raising children, but the tendency to be too soft and too lenient probably overrides much too often. As members of the Church, if we have those expectations when it comes to morality, would it be that much of a stretch to have similar expectations in other arenas of life?

Just some thoughts while I'm waiting for our server to get back online.

Getting the Itch

I took another few weeks off of running over Christmas and the holidays. It was actually a welcome break. My left arch had been getting sore. I had gotten a little sick, so I'm not sure if running would have just prolonged that cold anyway. It made sense.

But I've been running again the last few days and I can't believe the difference. I sleep better. I have more energy. I'm happier. And the second I even run a few miles after a break like that, I'm automatically several pounds lighter. It's amazing the difference. The best part, though, is that I just love it. It gives me time to think. I can let my legs work and my mind wander.

So it's probably little wonder why I'm looking forward to training for another marathon this summer. I'm thinking the Deseret News one in Salt Lake on Saturday, July 23rd. It starts crazy early to beat the heat - 5:30am. Training for that would start right after the wedding. And if our open house in California doesn't conflict, I'd like to run the Thanksgiving Point half marathon at the end of April. One more? The Dirty Dash is returning to Utah, this time just a 5k on June 4th. Registration for that one right now is $35 until 2/20.

Who is with me?

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Quick Update

The wedding planning is going. Amy is a machine when it comes to getting that stuff done, and we're making good progress, but there's still a lot to do. Turns out that planning a party for a couple hundred friends and family members, a honeymoon to immediately follow, then another trip up to Vancouver the following week, and another one to California about a month later requires a lot of details. And that's in addition to the merging of lives. Who knew, right? Clearly not me. I always used to get so annoyed with engaged couples who would disappear before they got married and then they come back around and want to hang out after being married for a month or few, but now I understand how that goes. Put all of that on top of work, school, and calling stuff and it's pretty hectic these days.

Our schedule from the day of our wedding to when we leave on our honeymoon to coming back and then heading straight back up to Canada will be at break neck pace, but it looks like we'll get some good time in with all the important players and in the right places. I'm really happy about that.

It's amazing how real life becomes while I'm going through this whole process. I've had various thoughts and some moments of concern this week about how well all of this will go - will I be able to find gainful employment following school with meaningful pay? can we find a place that's reasonable in its costs, but that we're still happy with? will we be able to start a family on the time table that we'd like? those things - but what's been really nice has been how supportive Amy is through everything, but just as helpful has been staying up with scripture study and prayer.

I think I'll get to this point more over the weekend, but it's important to stay connected. I think maybe one of the most important things, staying connected to loved ones, to Heavenly Father. I've had a lot of thoughts about that this week. I'll get back to that later.

Anyway, back to work. This song is probably not appropriate given the tone that the post is ending with, but I just love these beats. Have a great weekend, dear ones.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Present Madness

I trust that you heard about the shootings over the weekend, right? Down in Tuscon, a congresswoman, federal judge, and several other people were shot and killed by a gunman. Rep. Giffords (D) is in critical condition, but apparently she is improving. There's a lot of controversy being stirred up by various news sources about how this was a politically motivated shooting that occurred because of the climate that's being fostered by the right. Where was this kind of talk last year when that guy opened-fire at Ft. Hood and it actually was a politically motivated shooting? He was a Muslim extremist, but the call was for everyone to calm down and look at it rationally. Now people are jumping on the Tea Party and saying that this is somehow tied to Sarah Palin.

How is that even remotely the case? When does anyone on the right EVER advocate any sort of violence whatsoever? Absurd. All of this, in fact, obscures the real issue. Mona Charen mentions it briefly in this piece here. The most obvious explanation for what happened over the weekend was that this guy was a paranoid schizophrenic who had a grudge against the congresswoman. Schizophrenia was what afflicted John Lennon's killer, Ronald Reagan's attempted assassin, and the kid who went into a grocery store in Irvine several years ago with a samurai sword. It afflicts more men than women, and typically sets in during a person's 20s. We talked about it at length yesterday in my Biological Psych class.

Anyway, my guy, Jay Nordlinger, had this to say about it:

The shooting in Arizona has nothing to do with politics. Nothing to do with Republicans, nothing to do with conservatism. It has nothing to do with the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, you, or me. From what we know, a young psychotic got it into his psychotic head that he would shoot the local congressman, who happened to have a “D.” after her name, rather than an “R.” But the goons and ghouls have pretended that the Republicans spurred this.

And here we are, talking about the massacre and the Republicans, the massacre and national politics, as though there were any connection between these things.

A psychotic described by his classmates as a left-wing pothead shoots a bunch of people. And in the dock is that famous left-wing pothead Sarah Palin. Great, just great. May I pose a question? If the wounded congressman were a Republican instead of a Democrat -- I believe the dead judge was a Republican -- would we be having a discussion about the massacre and national politics? Would anchormen be running to the scene of the crime?

Jeff Danziger has drawn another odious cartoon, the kind he has long specialized in: Out of a steaming teapot arises an assassin. Get it? The Tea Party. Cool! That’s the way the likes of Danziger want it to be, and practically need it to be. That’s the way they wish it were -- no matter what the reality.

I am speaking of the following attitude: A right-winger, instead of a Communist, should have shot Kennedy. A right-winger, instead of a Palestinian immigrant, should have shot Bobby. A right-winger -- a Tea Partier! -- instead of a young, untreated schizo, should have shot Giffords and those others. I believe that is the attitude on display in that cartoon, and elsewhere.

To say it once more, the Left has kind of won: because we are having a discussion about the Arizona shooting and Republicanism, the Arizona shooting and Sarah Palin, which is not much different from having a discussion about the Arizona shooting and, oh, I don’t know: the price of eggs in Dakar.

Chances are, the Arizona massacre will hurt the Republican party and the Tea Party, stopping or slowing their momentum. Because the Left, “respectable” and not, has, I believe, succeeded in associating the massacre in the public mind with the “Right.” A “veteran Democratic operative” told Politico that President Obama and his team “need to deftly pin this on the Tea Partiers.” Oh, I’m not sure they have to be so deft about it. The Danziger-Krugman way will probably work just fine.

What the irresponsible Left has done in this instance -- in its exploitation of a massacre -- is so low, so foul, so disgusting, I barely have the words. I mean, turn Paul Wellstone’s funeral into a political rally if you want to. But this? As I said on the Bennett radio show, I’m not a blushing violet, and I know that politics is rough. But to pretend that a murder spree by a psychotic has something to do with those of us who oppose the Democrats’ health legislation and other measures -- this is beyond the pale, way beyond it.

I’ve said it before: There are angels and demons on both the right and the left. Neither side has a monopoly on virtue, or its opposite. I’ve made some people chuckle by saying, “Most of the worst people I have known have been on the right. Why? Because I have known so many people on the right! My jobs have seen to that.” I know a lot of angels and demons -- of different political stripes.

But the Left’s reaction to this Arizona massacre -- “Mission Accomplished, Sarah Palin,” and all that? Very, very hard to take. It is indeed hard to share a conversation, a political culture, a society, with such people.

Just thought you should know.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm Checkin' In!

I was telling Amy this past Sunday that if I were going to bear my testimony that day in church, it would have been about family history. I think Amy and I are a pretty cool combination when it comes to documentation because she is very visual while I am very verbal, so that means we should have a pretty good family blog.

I think journaling and documenting your own life events is as much family history as doing the grinding work of finding birth and death dates and such, only it's a lot more fun because who doesn't like to talk about themselves in one form or another, right?

Anyway, I think it's importance is illustrated well in the Book of Mormon. That entire book is essentially one family's history, Lehi's. My favorite specific mention of this topic is when Benjamin is speaking to his sons about the scriptures, "were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God" (Mosiah 1:3). In our own way, we have our own experiences to boast of, and ones that should document the mysteries of God as he operates in our lives.

With all of that being said, I think that I'd like to get back to blogging more. I think my blog will serve that function in part, and I think I'll start doing more written accounts of the goings on that we have, but I'll also interject with the other sundry topics that I tend to explore as well.

With that said, I just love this story about Ted Williams (not the HOF'er). This is the original video that was posted yesterday. Check out the view count.

A day later, he has gotten multiple offers for jobs, and it ends up that the one he'll be taking will be with the Cleveland Cavaliers. They have offered him a job, and to help him get back on his feet they are offering to pay the mortgage on a home. What's my favorite part in all of this is the amount of humility that he has, and while it's surely been pressed upon him because of his own poor choices, it is still there nonetheless.

Anyway, here's an interview with him from this afternoon:

I just love this story. So look forward to more blog posts.