Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Time To Move On

Time to get going, what lies ahead...

Yesterday was my last day at the COB. Some things I'll miss about being up there every week, 2-3 times a week, in no particular order:

  • The cafeteria. I LOVED their sugar cookies, and I loved the sandwich bar they had. Just great soft bread with a bunch of different meats and veggies. So great. That was my last meal there yesterday.
  • Knowing the going ons of Public Affairs and the things that they're up to. Sitting in on meetings and hearing how thoughtful and in tune the employees of the Church are. So impressive.
  • The people. Always people are what you miss about places, right?
Some things I won't miss:
  • The time drain of going to and from Salt Lake. 
I think I'll leave that as the only thing, if only to emphasize just how nice it will be to have the rest of my schedule free up. I want to make significant headway on thesis and finish that in the next six months. I'm also still keeping my fingers crossed about that sports consulting fellowship. Was supposed to hear back Monday, but turns out the guy is out of the country. 

One thing I also really appreciated was how going up there somehow made that distance between Utah Valley and Salt Lake City seem not nearly as long as it used to be. I like downtown Salt Lake. I like the difference from the valley here. It's not the chore to go up there that it once was to me.

And I'll be moving on tomorrow to Europe! Woo woo! Amy and I head out in the morning for the next bit and we couldn't be more thrilled. Just some packing ahead of the both of us, and then about 17 hours of traveling later and we'll be in Zurich, Switzerland, trying to find our way around. Should be lots of fun.

I'll be taking a break for the next while, so until our happy returns, have a great one dearhearts!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fun Work News for Me

So my time at the COB is wrapping up next Tuesday. Wow, NEXT Tuesday. I can't believe it's been a whole year. I thought it would be a little more bittersweet for me, but mostly it's just tasting kind of sweet right now. The intern I replaced last year expressed a lot of excitement about being done with the internship, and I can understand why now.

Although the work is interesting, the people are great, and most everything about it is really satisfying, it's also a big drain on my time and energy. I guess I'm in a different mindset than someone who is looking for a place of employment in which to reside permanently. I still have my program to finish up, and I'm not sure that it's a place I'd like to work at long term.

So with the imminent end of my internship looming, I've been thinking about what additional kinds of work experiences I might be able to get to continue to beef up my resume that might carry me from this year to next. (The life of a student is funny that way. Not a lot of permanence, just kind of whatever gets me from here to there, assuming that there is always a there to be had, and that here is not for long.) I've been considering changing course in my degree program, maybe applying to the MBA program and dropping the PhD, and whatever else out there might be available to me. In doing so, I've been keeping my eyes open to new opportunities.

I just didn't really expect for anything to line up in such a timely manner. I've been on a couple of email lists for a long time. One through university recruiting services and the other through the MBA school. Both of them have not been very fruitful thus far. Judging opportunities by the subject line, I rarely even opened the emails themselves, and when I did, they were rarely worth even the few seconds I took to look at them. Until last week.

Last Monday something came up in Sandy that seemed related to my experience in HR that I thought might be a good fit. Then only a few hours later an internship opportunity came up from a sports consulting firm based out of Chicago. I couldn't believe it. I wanted to apply to both. I updated my resume for the first time in more than a year, and I shot off my one response to the sports consulting opportunity. I didn't bother with the HR one. Less than a day later I got a response telling me that they liked my resume, and that I had to complete an assignment by this upcoming Friday. Doing so would likely get me the job. I can do the job remotely, so I don't even have to worry about a commute. Woo!

The company itself is in the business of helping athletes improve at their sports. Check them out here. They do a lot of research into things like what predicts success in the NHL, what mental traits determine success on the field, understanding the value of ground balls, among other things. Knowing me, it sounds like a perfect fit, right? I can do academic type research into what makes an athlete successful. Sign me up! The only downside is that it's not paid, but it's not a huge commitment in terms of hours per week or duration of internship. We'll see if it works out.

Then in one of my final meetings at the COB today, my boss mentioned bringing me back some time in the future as a consultant for future projects. Cool, right?

I feel so fortunate to have such cool opportunities. It feels funny sharing about it here, but it's what I'm most excited about right now, so there you go.

Recap: Walton Family Party In Reno

Warning: Will be boring for anyone who isn't interested in personal details about my life.

We made our way out to Reno last week for some Walton family togetherness last Wednesday and got back this past Sunday. Why Reno, you ask? It's not as bad as you might think. Check that. As I might have thought. For outdoor enthusiasts, apparently, it has a lot of things that those types might enjoy. I'll tell you one thing though - that drive between here and there is quite mind-numbing. I don't understand the draw for some people to go to Wendover. That place is garbage. It's like a mini Las Vegas but without any of the fun of Vegas, so what's leftover is cigarette smoke indoors. Gross, right?

Anyway, Reno was a lot of fun. All of Amy's immediate family made it out with the exception of the Johnsons who still reside in lovely Germany. Many games were played including Seafarers, Bang, and Telephone Charades. We went to a terrible waterpark one day, which still was a lot of fun, and then we went to Lake Tahoe the next.

Tahoe, I think, had to be my favorite part. I have never swum in water so fresh. I've been to Tahoe several times on ski trips, so I have some fond memories there, but of the lake itself, I have none. One thing I do remember is the flight attendants always saying as we were about to land was that Lake Tahoe is among the freshest bodies of water in all of the world. It sure does taste like it. Swimming in there felt like what I'd imagine it to be like swimming in bottled water. It was amazing. And just so crystal clear, no matter what depth you're at. I swam out to a buoy and even in that deeper area you could see straight down to the lake floor. We did some rock jumping there, and the kids never seemed to tire of playing in the sand just kind of crawling around on the shore. Then again, when do kids ever get tired of that?

We played many games of ping pong. Amy and I were able to score some new wardrobe items at the outlet mall. And Reno is home to what is supposed to be the world's largest sporting goods store. I believe it. It's like if you were to walk into a huge Macey's dedicated to all things sports. And fudge. And home decor. And some other random things.

One thing the Reno trip conjured up for me though was that I'm on a mighty losing streak. I'm not faring well in board games, ping pong, or any other type of competitive venture. It's kind of irritating.

Last thing: the Walton family is amazing. I tell Amy this all of the time, but it's amazing to be around an entire family that all loves being together so much, and who are in themselves, all so easy to get along with. Even all of the in-laws are really, really awesome. I could hang out with Elisha or Sarah all day long if I had to. They're just all so great. They have come from that kind of circumstances their whole lives, so I wonder if they (YOU) all realize what an amazing, amazing blessing that is. It's incredible to be around a family that is so stable and loving toward one another. It's not just a facade. They're like that all of the time. It kind of throws me off sometimes, but of course I just love it.

The trip was especially fun for me because I feel like I was able to form some closer bonds with Dan and Sarah's girls, not to mention most of the rest of Amy's family. And I can't wait for Germany next week so that I get to do the same with the Johnsons. Fun, fun.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Magical Mystery Tour

Ours is continuing to Reno later this afternoon. We just spent a weekend in California with wonderful family and friends, attending an awesome wedding, and just having a great time. This weekend it's Reno. Two weeks it's Europe! Woo woo!

Life is just great. We have trips and such planned through the second weekend of October. Just about every weekend between now and then is booked and I just love it.

Something I've been wanting to comment on that I don't have time for right now: I have several friends getting back into lengthy relationships after having done the break-up and get back together cycle multiple times. Don't worry. It's not any of you that I'm talking about. I haven't even spoken with either of these people in months, but it still breaks my heart nonetheless. These are people who have been in relationships that have gone on for longer than a year and have broken up and gotten back together more than five times (which in itself should tell you something about the relationship, right? Stability, people! That's what we're shooting for with long-term relationships).

A word to the wise, or to the oft-lonely and broken-hearted: Do not get into or stay in a relationship because you're feeling lonely. The old adage, it's better to be in no relationship than a bad one, is still true. And it only gets more true with marriage. Be not faithless, but believing! If you think that it's God's plan for you to one day get married, then let his plan work itself out for you. The worst problems arise when we are trying to assert our will above His own.

I was talking to a friend of mine today and he's training to become a clinical psychologist. Not that it really makes him smarter about relationships, but he does spend a lot of time observing people. I mentioned this pattern to him and he said that he thought that people often get caught into bad situations when they can't envision for themselves anything better than what they're currently getting. Makes total sense, right? So envision for yourself great things! Envision for yourself happiness and security and a healthy life-balance and eventually you'll happen upon it. Don't settle for mediocrity, or think you can't do better unless that's what you really desire. Dream great things! Work towards that and you'll eventually find it.

Sorry for that. I just hope that we can all desire more for ourselves. I was talking with a coworker yesterday and he asked me simply, "what kind of difference do you want to make?" And then we had a long conversation about what we would like to do and the visions that we have for ourselves. It left me feeling inspired, and made me wonder how much alignment I've had in my life lately between my day-to-day and what I'm working for in a year, or five, or 20.

My mission president always used to say, "if you have petty thoughts, when will you ever have time to achieve great things?" Small minds live simple lives. Desire and yearn for great things! I think we all deserve it.

I'm done now. Have a great week(end), dear ones!

(I just love this song, Actually, this album. Just great. Beatles are great.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Gathering of Israel

There are a lot of things on Facebook that just bug me. I'm talking about comments that people make on their statuses, especially political ones. I was just telling Amy the other day that I hate bumper stickers. Even when I agree with them, I just don't like seeing them because I don't really think that we need to be inflicting our opinions on people at every opportunity. (Obviously I feel differently about the blog, because you intentionally come here, although I'm not entirely sure why, but I do appreciate it. Anyway, it's your choice to have my opinion inflicted upon you.)

I don't mind articles or videos because they're at least informative, but I just hate statements that people make because they inevitably are going to fire someone up, right? And you may be surprised by this, but a lot of people just don't know what they're talking about. They just don't. Surprise! Most of the time I feel like I can just brush things off.

And then there are other times when something just sets my on fire.

I think to myself that there is no way that I can't respond to such and such inane comment about the government or whatever. That person has to know that someone else has an opinion in direct conflict with what he's saying. That's when I chime in, and fifty or ninety comments later, it's over. I'll usually participate for about a dozen or so responses, and then I'm done. Mostly because I don't want all the email notifications.

I have one friend whose comments I just cannot stand. I like him in real life, but his online persona bothers me to no end. I vehemently disagree with everything that he says.

This brings me to my point. I started thinking about this yesterday after speaking up on Facebook, about how some people become so grossly misguided about governance, politics, and the like. Disagreements about politics was a driving force behind so many of the wars in the Book of Mormon. In the last half of Alma, it talks a lot about the kingmen and how they lobbied for power, but the freemen put down their rebellion for the sake of the Nephite nation. It is this same kind of conflict over freedoms that prompted the pilgrims to settle in America. It's what prompts most of the world conflict today. And it will be what precipitates and serve as the cause for the wars and rumors of wars that will precede the Second Coming.

You can see evidence of it by the way the country divides itself politically. The borders of the country are clearly blue states (Democratic) while the red (Republican) states are in the mostly central part of the United States. There is not a perfect delineation between the people in these areas, obviously, but it's becoming more polarized, and you can see moving patterns that suggest that people do move their residence towards friendlier political climates. Texas has seen a huge surge in moving because they support conservative principles, so there is a huge shift in people moving from places (California, especially) for that purpose. That's based on actual data, although I'm not going to bother finding the source right now.

This is how the gathering will occur. People don't realize it, but it's truly that way. In the coming years, people will continue to coalesce into like-minded groups and they'll be receptive to the gospel because much of what propelled them to gather to where they have will be based on the ideals that they share in their localities. That's how it's happened before, and will continue to play out in the future.

It's just amazing to me to think about the signs of the times and how watching current events will give so much insight about how things in the scriptures are, indeed, coming to pass. You can see the patterns unfold and the circumstances develop to where those events prophesied of in the future will eventually come to pass, how it will occur.

The gathering is happening. It's going on right now. People don't need to be told by a prophet to go to certain areas because they can already anticipate the changes that are unfolding. They sense the shifting ideals in the places where they live and will go to new areas that will be more welcoming for their kind. This is as true for those with the gospel as those without.

I just hope that it's in a place with nice weather and a body of water nearby.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Can you believe this character....

Is the same as this one...

Or this one?

For the record, I actually really, really love the TV show. It's so campy and goofy and just wonderful. And, I also really loved Michael Keaton as Batman, way more, in fact, than Val Kilmer or George Clooney.

Anyway, just that first clip was awesome, and then it blew me away to think that these were all supposed to be the same character. For the dorks out there who read this, they're all correct. Batman in the comics was at one point that campy, cartoony character, but then in the 80s Frank Miller reinvented him as the dark character we've become more familiar with in his graphic novel, The Dark Knight returns. There ya go.