Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Wonderful Walton Christmastime!

Hey, it's been awhile since I've posted on here. Lots has happened, obviously, but I'll leave y'all with this video. Hope you're all having a merry Christmas!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Search Continues

So while I've got the day off, let me give y'all a brief update on how goes the internship search. Last I left off here, I had interviews on four consecutive days, and I felt good about every one of them. American Express was my top choice, and I felt good about that interview, and one place that I felt like I had a really good shot at, DigitalGlobe, based in Colorado, had some really positive indications for me as well.

After my interviews I told Amy, "I could get all of them or none of them, I really don't know." Interviews don't intimidate me at all, I feel like I represent myself well in person, but it's so hard to know what it is that the other person across from you is feeling.

We were supposed to hear back at the end of that week. Friday came along and no word had come from any company for most of the day, but then at 4:30 I got a phone call from American Express. They said no. That one hurt because I just really didn't know what I could have done differently, and I honestly felt like my interview went well. I happened to be at home, so I told Amy. I was really disappointed, and went for a run right after hearing so I good just get rid of some of that negative energy.

The run was good and Amy and I decided to go out to dinner. We talked ourselves back into the game. We talked about how there are plenty of good companies left, how it's still only October anyway, and there would be plenty of time for something to work out. We were feeling good again, but I still hadn't heard from two of the companies yet, so that naturally led me to checking my phone every few minutes.

As we were eating, we kept up the same rah-rah dialogue. I loved that my wife was still so supportive and optimistic. The only problem was that as she began to launch into another thought about how things would be fine, I checked my phone, got an email from DG and I cut her off mid-thought to say that I had been turned down for that one too.

We didn't talk the rest of the meal. That one really hurt. Doors were closing everywhere. It was just a really rough day. One no is hard to hear, but I could bounce back from that. Hearing several so close together was worse.

And I didn't really understand why. On paper, I stack up at least as well as most of my classmates. In person I'm sure that I come across better than most of them, but things just haven't panned out for me like it has for some others.

I hardly slept that night. I woke up in the middle of the night, started combing through different job listings, company offerings, trying to figure out where my place would be. I took a 45 minute assessment from Gallup. I emailed about a dozen different people.

I emerged the next day and the following week with much more optimism, which is more than I can say for a number of my classmates. I ran into one guy at Wendy's and he had a similar day as I had on that fateful Friday. He said his wife was beginning to freak out. He was contemplating switching tracks in the program to catch the recruiting season for finance. Another guy I talked to later that week was feeling similarly. Every time I tried to speak positively, he kept shooting me down. I finally got to a point where I told him, "well, I guess if Kellogg's doesn't work out, then that will be the end of it, so good luck."

The thing is, I really do believe things will still work out. Not long after I heard all of my no's, I talked to a friend who is a second year in the program. He is a stellar guy, and he didn't get his internship until late in the school year, but still managed to land a great one. He gave me his formula, and I'm sure it will work out. I called some of the recruiters I had interviewed with previously about their thoughts on anything I could improve. I talked to my second year mentor and he told me that he was as surprised as I was that nothing had really panned out yet. The program lead told me the same, and I've since heard that from a few different second years.

Something that really helped me put things in perspective was reading from some conference talks. From Elder Nash's talk, By Faith All Things Are Fulfilled: "The Apostle Peter looked to the Lord one stormy night and walked on water—until he averted his gaze and “saw the wind boisterous [and] was afraid” and then sank into the stormy sea. He could have continued walking if he had not feared! Rather than our focusing upon and fearing the boisterous wind and waves in our lives, the Lord invites us to “look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”

What kind of faith would I have if after being rejected a few times I simply gave up? I know that I have the same opportunities and talents that anyone else has in my program, so how could I lost my trust so quickly that things wouldn't work out? I've dealt with setbacks many times in my life, so how is this any different than those times? Like Peter, I want to walk, and maybe I can learn from his lesson and stay afloat instead of sinking.

And I also read this from Elder Johnson, which helped also:

Making the covenant to be a disciple of Christ is the beginning of a lifelong process, and the path is not always easy. As we repent of our sins and strive to do what He would have us do and serve our fellowmen as He would serve them, we will inevitably become more like Him. Becoming like Him and being one with Him is the ultimate goal and objective—and essentially the very definition of true discipleship.

If I ever do want to become a true disciple, then what I really need to worry about is how I measure up as a follower. Am I living up to my privileges? Do I think on others before myself? Am I abiding by the commandments? Do I maintain an eye of faith even when things sometimes get discouraging? Those are the things that really matter. Getting an internship is only a detail, but not the essential one.

So that's where things are at. I'm still looking, but I feel like I've made some great in-roads since then. I've made some contacts at Ford, with whom I interview on Monday. I'm going to Adobe today for the main purpose of connecting with some people there. I still have Citi on the horizon, Price-Waterhouse Cooper, and one more ace in the hole that I'm really hoping will work out soon. I applied to Goodyear, and got a good recommendation from one of the second year students.

Things will work out, and I'm still really excited about my prospects. I just thought I'd share some of the process because not everything has been just easy for me, ever, and I think I've gained some valuable insights that maybe could apply somewhere else out there for another person.

A total of 7 no's so far. Looking for some yes's to put in the win column. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

California Video

Finally got around to doing our California trip over the summer.

For your entertainment...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Country Tis of Thee

Nope, not going to have lots of updates about the election. I'm still feeling very optimistic about Romney's chances though. Early numbers for the Romney camp shows great GOP turnout in all the key states - Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, etc. Lots of good signs.

I forgot that my mom became a US citizen a couple of years ago. I got the cutest text from her today: "I just vote today First time. I vote in Romney."

Love it.

I'm so eager to see how everything will unfold. Win or lose, it's going to be so interesting to see how the country responds.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

To Our Sweet Girl

Dear Jane,

It’s strange for me to write a letter to you that you may read in a few years, but one which you won’t really grasp the full import of for maybe another 20 or so years into the future. I say that because while you can have some level of appreciation for the event of your birth that I’m about to describe, it just really isn’t one of those things that you can really understand and appreciate until you go through this experience and have your own first child.

The simple act of being the first born in our family, of course that carries enormous significance. The birth of any person is significant. However, if you look at the number of people in the world, how many are born every second all over the world, it somewhat diminishes the singleness of the experience. But, I’m pretty sure that there is something completely novel about the first born in a family because of the simple fact that it is the first time to ever occur in our family. That is what makes your arrival so truly awesome (using that word in its truest sense). Yours are the first diapers of any of our children that your mother and I will change. The sleepless nights we experience because of your being a newborn, that’s only entirely new when it is with you. Obviously every child we have will be exciting and wonderful in their own ways, but our firsts with them will only be their own, but in your case, your firsts are our firsts too. Not just firsts, but firsts ever. That is something really unique.

Anyway, I digress. The story of your birth goes like this…

Your due date was September 13, 2012, and except for a few aches and pains that your mother had, especially with her back, things really couldn’t have been much better. Truly we were so blessed with you. Without much to go off of, we thought you might come late, just because your grandmother Mary always came late with her children, but of course you had different plans than that. You spared your mother the pain of being pregnant longer than the due date, which is something that nobody ever wants to do. (Again, something you’ll appreciate more later down the road.) And like your mother, you were very punctual, coming the day before we expected you to.

Something we really hoped for with your birth was just for it to be a surprise. It seems like so many people have false alarms or end up getting induced, so we just hoped that it would be something like out of the movies where we absolutely know that you are about to come in a major way and make your first mark on the world. You did not disappoint in the slightest.

Your mom and I went to bed around midnight on the night of the 11th, as is standard fare for her and I, only to be woken up a couple hours later at about 1:50 by the bursting of her water sack. Until it happens, you just never realize how jarring it is to be woken up out of a dead sleep in the night by, "Oh my gosh, my water broke! This is happening!" It was just crazy, and to be instantly aware of everything that is going on at that time too. There was not even a second of grogginess, or trying to grasp the gravity or import of the situation. It was perfectly simple: We were going to be having a baby and you were most likely going to be born that day, September the 12th.

We left for the hospital right away, sent out some texts, and made a couple of phone calls to the people who would want to know first.  People were sweet. Some were up at that time (Mike and Brian Walton, of course), while others were woken up by the text and couldn't wait to hear the progress (Elisha, your aunt, and my stepmother, Juliana), but most everyone was pretty unaware until the morning.

Progress was mostly pretty slow from that point. Amy was having contractions, and although the pitocin was stimulating the contractions to occur about a little more than a minute apart (which is pretty close together), she wouldn't fully dilate for awhile. Because she ended up getting an epidural, for us, that meant that we would just try and pass the time by taking naps, watching movies and TV, and eagerly waiting for your arrival.

Most of the day passed without anything really interesting happening. The contractions were consistent, the pain medication was working fine, so we just waited. And waited. Finally, a little after 5pm our nurse came back, saw that Amy was fully dilated, and told us that we could begin the delivery soon. Our room began to fill with people, and your mother started pushing.

The experience was just so fun for us. We found ourselves laughing frequently in disbelief; We just couldn't believe what was about to occur, and I guess that's just kind of how we react to things, which I think is a nice indication about the condition of our relationship, and how surreal that event was for us. She pushed and your head began to emerge. Everything just looks messy when you haven't seen that kind of thing before, but it was just so amazing to see everything unfold.

You finally entered into our world at 6:41pm. It turns out that your heart rate had been slowed because the umbilical cord had wrapped around your neck, and that prompted some of the procedures that followed, but it wasn't something to be really concerned about.

When a baby is born the medical staff will look for a few different things to make sure everything is okay. One of those signs is a good healthy cry from the baby. Not crying can be an indication that something is blocking the airways, but for you, once that had been cleared and everything checked out okay, you still wouldn't cry - not much anyway. You kind of whimpered a bit, cried some, but you calmed down so quickly. And that's kind of how you've been ever since you were born. You have such a sweet and mild temperament. Even when there are things that should upset you, you hardly stir a lot of times.

You've been with us now for a few weeks and so far the transition to having you in our lives has been easier than we thought it would be. It feels like we have had you our whole lives. I guess that's how a lot of these transitions can feel sometimes. You forget what life was ever like before that thing happened, but you're glad now that it's always going to be this way. That's how your mother and I feel about you at least.

Your birth and growth has been the highlight of our marriage to this point. We just love you more than we could ever express and we are so glad to call you our own. Welcome to this world, Jane. Your mom and dad love you so very much.


Thursday, November 1, 2012


Any guesses about why we vote on Tuesdays? It's pretty interesting and has to do with horse and buggies, and is explained in this Ted talk video.

Then this video talks about why your vote doesn't matter.

PBS - "Voting Schmoting" from Tilapia Film on Vimeo.

Don Boudreaux, GMU economist, explains the reasons why he doesn't vote here, which touches on the some of the same points mentioned in the video above. Here's a brief excerpt:

First—and least interestingly—my vote will never determine the outcome of a political election. The chances that my voting for candidate Smith rather than voting for candidate Jones (or rather than not voting at all) will assure that Smith wins the election are practically zero. Put differently, from my perspective, the outcome of any election will be what it will be no matter what I do or don’t do at a polling place on election day. Because my time is valuable, I never vote; I instead spend my time on activities whose outcomes I am more likely to affect.

Some people insist that non-voting is “selfish.” Perhaps. But note that I’m not the only person to benefit from my refusal to spend my time pointlessly. By not voting, I have more time to prepare for the classes I teach, or more time to write articles that (I hope) at least some people enjoy reading, or more time to spend helping my son with his homework or just enjoying time with my family. Because my refusal to vote changes nothing, the cost to others of my not voting is zero. But the cost of my voting to others (my students, my colleagues, my adoring reading public, my family) is real. So by not voting, I make at least some people better off while making no one worse off.
Spoken like a true economist, right? There are some other considerations in the voting equation, namely, the sphere of influence that a person wields over the people in his/her circle. Another economist, Russ Roberts, explains his non-voting position in a more palatable way than Boudreaux does. His point was mostly about educating others, and how touching other people personally will do more to swing an election than what a simple vote does.

In any case, I haven't voted in awhile, mostly because I'm not registered in Utah, and the absentee ballot where I am registered to vote has been problematic to get the last few times. I've mostly just resigned myself to the fact that I have never actually lived in a swing state, so my vote matters very little. There are other issues of smaller scales that maybe I could help tip the scales more, but in the end, I think I largely align with these thinkers. At this point, voting is mostly just a symbolic gesture, but it still feels good to do it.

(The biggest reason why I don't register to vote in Utah is that I would have to give up my CA driver's license, and I keep holding on to the thought that some day I'll buy a Disneyland pass, in which case, I'm going to want that California resident discount. The price I pay...)

Friday, October 26, 2012


I guess I haven't talked much on here about what this job-seeking process is like. I also want to limit how much I disclose in the online universe. Companies, as it turns out, really do check up on people. I know that I used to do that for my company when I did recruiting.

It's unreal how much everything feels like dating. The companies are so temperamental about you showing interest in them, and even when you think you''re clearly communicating your intentions about your interest, they don't always understand it.

Cisco was a company near the top of my list, and I felt like I had done all of my homework for them going into the interview process. I talked with each of their recruiters. I had even began correspondence with one before I even got into the program. I went to their office hours, their info session, out to lunch with them, and I even went on a trip out to the Bay Area to make sure they saw my face.

And in the end I didn't even get an interview with them. It came down to the fact that I never explicitly told them they are at the top of my list, so they didn't even bother interviewing me. I couldn't believe it. That set off a chain reaction for me of reaching out to all of my remaining companies and letting them know my level of interest, and asking them for next steps.

There was a week period when about 6 or 7 companies came to campus and interviewed people. I only interviewed with one, where for a number of people they interviewed with maybe every single company, and then they told me no, and then a bunch of people were starting to get offers and fly-backs.

I started to feel panicky about my situation. Should I have applied everywhere even though I only had lukewarm interest? Did I put my eggs in too few baskets? Was I going to be able to get any offers?

Then my top companies started to have their deadlines, I started getting interest, and now I'm back to feeling like balance has been restored. I had an interview yesterday, one today, and I have two lined up for early next week, and I would be perfectly happy working for any of these companies. Once again, I feel confident things will work out.

It's just kind of a crazy process, but it's really fun too. Today's interview was the coolest interview experience I've ever had. I just loved it. Part of it was just two questions and in-depth conversation about my most significant accomplishment, and then how I would approach a case situation. The second part were questions directly related to their business, and it felt kind of like a game to me. I loved it.

When I got my first no, it really made me kind of mad, and shook me up, but I think it turned out really well. Now that company is getting sued for a billion dollars by the federal government, and after hearing about how they've handled some other things, I am actually glad that one didn't work out and I wasn't forced to have to make my own decision about that company.

I feel really good going forward. It's a nice place to be. We'll see where we end up and with who.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Elections and such

Someone has been emailing me about a broken link from a post that is 5 years old. I couldn't believe it. Then I really couldn't believe it when she followed up 3 more times in the last month or so. That forced me to go back through my blog and look for it, but I couldn't believe how much content I used to put out. I don't know if y'all realized this, but I used to post. A lot. I used to write a lot, and then link and excerpt even more.

I don't know that I'll ever get back to that level of output, but here is some more for you anyway...

Romney is still doing really well. This article by Victor Davis Hanson points out just how much the debates turned the tide for Romney. His strategy in that third debate really was pretty straightforward - he didn't need a knockout, by any means. All he needed was to basically hold the line, look Presidential, and not mess it up. He could've done more, that's for sure, but he didn't need to, and he pulled it off.

This one is by Michael Barone, who always has a really good grip on how to read these things. From the article:

The list of target states has certainly not been fixed. Barack Obama's campaign spent huge sums on anti-Romney ads to create a firewall in three states that the president won narrowly in 2008 -- Florida, Ohio and Virginia. But post-debate polling shows Romney ahead in Florida and tied in Virginia.

National Journal's Major Garrett reported last week that Obama strategist David Plouffe omitted Florida and Virginia in a list of key states but mentioned Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Obama carried the latter three by 10, 10 and 12 points in 2008.

So much for the firewall. In addition, polling shows Romney ahead in Colorado, which Obama carried by 9 points last time, and the race closing in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, which Obama carried by 14, 10 and 16 points.

And then there was his massive rally in Colorado two nights ago.

In the all-too-important swing state of Ohio, Romney is really starting to close. This post in the Corner at NRO shows that Romney is looking like he's setting up for a big finish in Ohio:

The race for Ohio is slowly tightening, but Mitt Romney does not hold a lead in a single poll in the current Real Clear Politics average (he is tied in two). Two polls from Time and CBS/Quinnipiac have grabbed headlines by showing Obama a five-point lead in each. Romney is chipping away at Obama’s poll lead, but the Democratic advantage in party-ID has increased across these polls. When looking at the polls in Ohio, it is becoming entirely possible that Mitt Romney should be able to win Ohio without ever showing a consistent lead in the polls, or any lead at all.

Lastly, a reason a lot of libs are still feeling optimistic is that they keep saying, well, it's the electoral math. Romney may lead nationally, but the math for getting to the magic 270 electoral count just isn't there, but again, that's misleading. Rasmussen polls, among the most reliable out there, is showing that of the 11 key swing states that went for Obama in 2008, Romney now leads across the board 50%-46% . Formerly, Obama's team was thinking that they had a firewall in Florida, Virgina, and New Hampshire, but now Romney is either tied or out ahead on those. He is also up in Colorado, North Carolina, and closing in on the rest.

So what's the big thing now besides voting? Pray for good weather. If you want a Romney win, pray for good weather for two Tuesdays from now. Turnout will favor the GOP because of their enthusiasm, and nothing suppresses turnout like unfavorable weather. Kind of like today in Utah.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hold Serve

That's all Romney has to do tonight. He can go after Obama if he likes, but really, the only thing he needs to do is to continue to appear to be Presidential. With that first debate, Romney finally broke Obama's serve, and he held that last debate, and he just has to do it one more time. I think if he makes it through tonight without any real hiccups, then this race is his to lose.

I can't believe he's thisclose to be coming President.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Romney Continues Momentum

Caught this last one too. It was kind of interesting. Romney crushed it on anything related to economics, the debt, and the like. Also on energy. He missed a big opportunity on Libya, and Crowley made it worse by mistakenly siding with the President. He did not attribute those attacks to acts of terror.

Anyway, I felt like it was a wash. Neither of them really came out ahead. Romney was pretty good, but he got distracted on a few points, and missed when he got the Libya softball tossed to him. Too bad.

But the more significant point was that for a challenger to hang with the incumbent is usually a win for the challenger. That's a big deal.

And the recent polls are bearing this out. This article refers to the Rasmussen poll:

The Left seemed pretty pleased with Barack Obama’s performance in Tuesday night’s debate, cheering his renewed energy and aggressiveness.  How did it play with voters overall?  The spot polls produced mixed results, generally agreeing with most pundits that it had been a draw.  Today’s Rasmussen tracking poll shows Obama falling slightly further behind as the first post-debate data gets added to the mix:
 The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Thursday shows Mitt Romney attracting support from 49% of voters nationwide, while President Obama earns the vote from 47%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, and another two percent (2%) are undecided. See daily tracking history. …
These updates are based upon nightly polling and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. As a result, roughly two-thirds of the interviews for today’s update were completed before Tuesday night’s presidential debate. Saturday morning will be the first update based entirely upon interviews conducted after the second debate. Matchup results are updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update).
Interestingly, Romney’s 49% is solid with or without leaners.  Without leaners, Obama only gets to 46%. Among those “certain” to vote, Romney leads 46/44.  Republicans now have an eight-point advantage on enthusiasm, 83/75, with independents nearly as enthused as Democrats at 72%.

Pretty cool, methinks. Even more surprising is that Gallup shows Romney ahead today by 7 points. Although Gallup is becoming less reliable lately and this looks like an outlier, it's still significant.

Also, RealClearPolitics finally has the electoral map in favor of Romney for the first time this whole campaign, although there are still lots of toss-up states.

It's a looking very up. If Romney can continue to hang tough in the debates, and not stumble to the finish, he has a real shot at this.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ryan v. Biden

I still haven't had a chance to watch the first presidential debate. I was flying into San Jose as it was happening last week, but I did catch tonight's. I thought it was really interesting. A few quick thoughts:
  • Biden is really insufferable, isn't he? You knew that he had to come out swinging, especially after Obama's performance last week, but I have to wonder if people that are still undecided could ever find that kind of person appealing. I guess in one respect Ryan may have come off as passive, but it seems like one of the strength's of the Obama ticket is that they are supposedly so likeable, but the way he behaved, I would think, would appear to be very, very off-putting.
  • Ryan got him good with the quip about Biden's own frequent gaffes. The townhall really loved that, but Biden got him on the letter that Ryan had written to Biden. Even if Ryan had a valid point, Biden didn't allow him to properly respond, which I guess is good enough.
  • The Libya stuff is pretty damning for the administration.
  • The personal stories woven by Ryan in are sometimes pretty compelling, Sometimes it may be overkill. 
  • Ryan had some awesome, awesome lines on economic policy, but is his strength. Unfortunately, the debate did not center on this topic, only really coming up toward the end.
  • The Catholic-abortion question was well-answered, and I can see the argument that pro-choice'rs have about guaranteeing others the right to choose, but I wish Ryan could've painted a clearer picture about how extreme the liberal views are on abortion. Partial-birth, even live-birth abortions are very appalling. Could anyone ever get behind that?
  • To the last point also, the Ryan point about Catholic charities having to sue to not be forced to practice against their beliefs, Biden is so brazen. The only reason why they haven't to this date is because they forced back the decision on that point until after the start of the new year. So yes, they haven't yet, but it's only because you forced the issue to a later date. Very deceitful.
I think it went for Ryan, but I'm not partial. In the end, this will probably be a wash. It will be interesting to see how the mainstream media spins it. I checked out Huffington, and in a huge headline in bold they have written BIDEN'D, touting a survey that says he won 67%-30-something percent, but the survey is of only 300 people, and advertised by the heavily liberal HuffPost. CNN has it essentially a draw. I'd think it'd be energizing to the base, but a turn off to undecideds. We'll see.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


It's the funniest thing, but it totally feels like I have a crush on my little girl. When I start day dreaming my mind drifts toward her. I look on FB, on Instagram, on Amy's blog to see pictures of her. And I get excited to come home and see her.

It really is so life-changing being a father, and having a little girl for that matter. Admittedly, I wanted a boy, but I really wouldn't have it any other way.

I just love her.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

jane @ 2 weeks

I have a day-of-birth post still coming. I'm kind of busy these days, so the blog has been neglected.

Anyway, Jane had a 2 week appointment yesterday. She's measuring 21" long (82 percentile), 8lb 15oz (72 percentile), and head circumference is 14.4" (86 percentile). She has the sweetest temperament. We can't get enough of her.

Last night I woke up a couple times to attend to her, and I was so sleepy, but it just melted my heart seeing her eyes just wide open, waiting for me to pick her up. We just love when she's awake and alert and looking around. She engages eye contact really well. She's just a doll. We couldn't be happier with her. For more pics, visit Amy's blog.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Misinformation on the 9/11/12 Attacks

I have heard a couple of people talk about this recently and just wanted to cross-reference you all with some additional opinions and facts regarding last week's attacks in the Middle East that coincided with 9/11. Some people honestly believe that those attacks arose as protests to some obscure anti-Muslim video. This article gives a dissenting voice to that story:

Since the 9/11/12 attacks on America, Muslims have been protesting over much of the world, from Tunisia to Yemen to Bangladesh, and in some cases, have been assaulting our embassies.

The ostensible reason for the protests is a video produced by someone in the United States criticizing the Prophet Muhammad. But that's obviously just a pretext, used by Islamist terrorist organizers to whip up frenzy in nations with large numbers of angry unemployed young men.

Unfortunately, some of our government officials have taken the complaints about the video seriously. Before the attack, the Cairo embassy issued a statement condemning "the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims."

When Mitt Romney condemned that statement, he was widely criticized by mainstream media. But his judgment was confirmed when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ordered the statement taken down.

Even so, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the protests were directed at the video rather than the United States -- wishful thinking. The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the FBI was sent to Los Angeles to track down the video maker. The Los Angeles Times reported that the State Department asked YouTube whether the offending video violated its terms of service.

As Fox News commentator Kirsten Powers wrote, "Our leaders shouldn't let our enemies know that when they kill our people and attack our embassies that the U.S. government will act like a battered wife making excuses for her psychotic husband."

It's also disturbing that Obama, after his brief statement deploring the Benghazi murders (and not mentioning the attack on the Cairo embassy), immediately embarked on a four-hour plane ride to campaign in Las Vegas.

 And some have mentioned that Romney walked back his initial comments about the events in the Middle East. I think that is also misguided. This story illuminates:

Yesterday, virtually the entire liberal media and some on the right as well made the story of the day not about the murder of our diplomats, not about why we did not prepare for a potential assault, not about whether President Obama’s halting policies had come home to roost, but about why Mitt Romney, after a day of silence from the White House following an atrocious apology issued in Cairo (we now know issued without authorization), spoke out when he did.

As I reported yesterday, an underling, according to the State Department, put out the apology online after it was rejected by the State Department’s Near East desk and he was told to wait. Violence ensued that day. Day turned to night in the United States and the White House was mute. So at 10 p.m. after an entire day without an adequate response, Romney put out a statement. What he said was valid then, as it remains valid in retrospect: “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

That was not only correct, but the Near East desk at the Obama State Department essentially agreed. (The press seemed to think Romney didn’t know the timeline, but Romney advisors insist that he did. The Cairo embassy reiterated its sympathetic message after the Cairo embassy had been attacked.)


Yesterday, virtually the entire liberal media and some on the right as well made the story of the day not about the murder of our diplomats, not about why we did not prepare for a potential assault, not about whether President Obama’s halting policies had come home to roost, but about why Mitt Romney, after a day of silence from the White House following an atrocious apology issued in Cairo (we now know issued without authorization), spoke out when he did.

As I reported yesterday, an underling, according to the State Department, put out the apology online after it was rejected by the State Department’s Near East desk and he was told to wait. Violence ensued that day. Day turned to night in the United States and the White House was mute. So at 10 p.m. after an entire day without an adequate response, Romney put out a statement. What he said was valid then, as it remains valid in retrospect: “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

That was not only correct, but the Near East desk at the Obama State Department essentially agreed. (The press seemed to think Romney didn’t know the timeline, but Romney advisors insist that he did. The Cairo embassy reiterated its sympathetic message after the Cairo embassy had been attacked.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Am An American

Amazing to think that we are more than a decade removed from the events of that fateful day, 11 years ago.

Today in one of my classes we spent some time talking about someone who died last June who would have been one of our classmates. His name is Scottie Pace, and you can read an article about him here. He received some attention in the news last year when he decided to shoot off some flares to defray some protestors who were upset about Koran's being burnt on a military base in Afghanistan. He was actually ordered to open fire if the protestors advanced, but decided to take a more muted approach to the situation. We read some correspondence of his detailing some of his thoughts during the situation.

He died in a helicopter crash this past June when he was attacked.

It's amazing to think about what some people do to serve this country, and the sacrifices that they end up making.

And those sacrifices were in a crazy way punctuated 11 years ago, but are still being made to this day.

Anyway, thanks to those who serve who make our lives so very comfortable, maybe more than we sometimes deserve.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Trudging Along

I had another back to school day...yesterday. Really, only yesterday? It feels like it's been so long. I, and every other first year, feels swallowed up already by the new semester. We had our rafting trip last weekend and it couldn't have been more perfect. It was just a perfect scenario to talk comfortably with recruiters, to meet other students, and just kind of have some fun before the semester began. I hope I get the chance to go next year. That'd be really fun.

I have a list of my favorites, and as much as I'd like to, I don't think I'll be publishing them here. Last week it was kind of funny because we were actually advised to clean up our online presence, just in case there were any unkempt closets for skeletons to be jumping out of, so I wonder how much of a liability this blog will be. Probably not too much. Who comes here anymore anyway, right?

Things are good. Baby is growing. Amy grows more uncomfortable by the minute. We have just about everything we could possibly need for this baby. School is swallowing me up, and only four days into the semester, and the first recruiter is already coming to campus.

Things are heating up.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back to School

I haven't had a real school day in a few years, so I have been pretty excited for this one to finally get here, although I guess I'm still actually a couple weeks from really going to school. Classes start the 27th, but today was orientation, and we have it for 7 (mostly) full days.

What was fun was meeting the other incoming 1st years, hearing some of their stories, finding out where everyone is from, and what kinds of things everyone wants to do. I talked to a guy who owned an arena football league franchise, another with a doctorate in music who started an opera company, and one guy straight from India. There are so many cool stories and things to find out about these people, and really I'm just excited to make new friends, build the network, and really get going on these next two years.

It's amazing to me what kind of opportunities will come out of this program. And I just really love BYU, as evidenced by my taking on a third degree program, but really, I do. It's an amazing place, and no matter how many times I hear it, I'm always so amazed at these people, especially within the business school, who had very, very lucrative and successful careers elsewhere decide that they would hang it all up because they want to be a part of something even bigger, and for them, that means BYU. That's always so impressive to me.

So begins my next two year adventure, at the end of which, I'll be done with school forever.

May they be filled with new friends and opportunities and many dollar signs to follow!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Marshall and Yetta Got Married!

So our good friends, Marshall and Marietta, got married a few weeks ago and I got tasked with putting together a video of their wedding day. It was really fun for me to try it out, and as I was putting everything together it made me realize how far I have to go when it comes to all this video stuff. I shot it on a camcorder, which helped with a lot of things like white balance and color adjustments, but it still amazes me how hard it is to be moving with a stable frame, even when the camera has a stabilizer. That's frustrating. It makes me really want a steadicam.

But yeah, this was still a lot of fun for me to do, and I ended up doing two videos because I probably had 1 1/2 music videos worth of footage to edit with, so I just split it up instead.

Last weekend with Mike, we were talking about how important song selection is to a video. It can totally make or break a video, and ruin otherwise good ones. And then sometimes I just choose a song because it's about the right length, about the right tempo, and is just good enough. Both of these songs are nice, but the temple one was meaningful to the couple, but much harder to work with. The reception song was my choice.

Anyway, that's enough, here are the videos:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

...think it possible you may be mistaken...

There is a great essay from Deidre McCloskey that you can find here. The topic and title of the essay is Factual Free-Market Fairness. Just a brief excerpt:

No.  The master narrative of High Liberalism is mistaken factually.  Externalities do not imply that a government can do better.  Publicity does better than inspectors in restraining the alleged desire of businesspeople to poison their customers.  Efficiency is not the chief merit of a market economy: innovation is.  Rules arose in merchant courts and Quaker fixed prices long before governments started enforcing them.

I know such replies will be met with indignation.  But think it possible you may be mistaken, and that merely because an historical or economic premise is embedded in front page stories in the New York Times does not make them sound as social science.  It seems to me that a political philosophy based on fairy tales about what happened in history or what humans are like is going to be less than useless.  It is going to be mischievous.

How do I know that my narrative is better than yours?  The experiments of the 20th century told me so.  It would have been hard to know the wisdom of Friedrich Hayek or Milton Friedman or Matt Ridley or Deirdre McCloskey in August of 1914, before the experiments in large government were well begun.  But anyone who after the 20th century still thinks that thoroughgoing socialism, nationalism, imperialism, mobilization, central planning, regulation, zoning, price controls, tax policy, labor unions, business cartels, government spending, intrusive policing, adventurism in foreign policy, faith in entangling religion and politics, or most of the other thoroughgoing 19th-century proposals for governmental action are still neat, harmless ideas for improving our lives is not paying attention.

In the 19th and 20th centuries ordinary Europeans were hurt, not helped, by their colonial empires.  Economic growth in Russia was slowed, not accelerated, by Soviet central planning.  American Progressive regulation and its European anticipations protected monopolies of transportation like railways and protected monopolies of retailing like High-Street shops and protected monopolies of professional services like medicine, not the consumers.  “Protective” legislation in the United States and “family-wage” legislation in Europe subordinated women.  State-armed psychiatrists in America jailed homosexuals, and in Russia jailed democrats.  Some of the New Deal prevented rather than aided America’s recovery from the Great Depression.

Very interesting stuff.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Reno Boys Weekend...sorta...

Several months ago the Walton boys had planned on a guys' weekend of skiing and hanging out in Utah. Bad weather and some phone calls later and it was off, but we decided to do something in August, which meant mountain biking, golfing, and time hanging out, except all additional families were welcome. So Elisha and the kids came, and so did Amy. Instead of a guys' weekend, it was more like guys' guilt free mornings.

I did get a bunch of clips, and maybe I'll put together something in a bit, but we ended up commissioning Mike to do the weekend video since he seemed much more deliberate about the shots he was getting, although it was funny to see four GoPros getting every possible angle all weekend long.

The events went thusly:
  • Thursday - Amy and I arrived in Reno early Thursday afternoon. We got some nice down time with Dan and Sarah, went bowling in an ultra-competitive race to 100, which took all of us almost all 10 frames to get to, though one of us failed to make it. *cough*Dan*cough*
  • Friday - The boys went golfing Friday morning at 7:30am. The course was awesome, and I'm glad to say that I don't embarrass myself with my golfing anymore. Not that I'm any good, but I can fit right in with most groups now. We got back to lunch, then off to the local water park, which I would hate to pay for, but because of Elisha's hook-up, we got in free. Sweet! That night we had a rematch of mini-golf. Fun, constantly moving day. Mike and I took a brief excursion to the Reno river-walk, and that was a lot of fun.
  •  Saturday - The boys got up and left by 6am to get out mountain biking the South Lake Tahoe Rim trail. I haven't really done any biking in years, let alone mountain biking. The Walton boys kicked my butt, a little to my surprise since I am still regularly running, but the ride was amazing. The mountains were beautiful, and looking down at the lake was a nice treat. We went up with all the families down at the lake and spent some time there. As we were packing up a crazy windstorm sent everyone running for their cars. It was unreal. At first just a few umbrellas would begin to fly off, and then a bit later, the EZ-up canopy just up and started to take off. Amy got a hand on the leg of the canopy, but it crashed on Foster. Somehow he must the brunt of it, so he was fine, but it was just so funny to see everyone go running. Inner tubes were just rolling down the beach, and the animals seemed to love it. A dog just rolled around in the sand, and seagulls were just all hanging in mid-air, floating there. It was so funny. Mike, Amy, and I stole away to Sand Harbor and jumped off the rocks for a bit. Not Amy, just Mike and I. I love that stuff. So fun. That night we went home and just hung out. Everyone was pretty wiped out by the end of the weekend. 
It was short, but the perfect amount of time. We did so much in just the few days we were there, and I just love the Waltons. I feel so lucky to be apart of that the family. Dan and Sarah were wonderful hosts. It was just a lot of fun.

This will be our last trip before the baby comes, and it turned out to be a really fun one.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thesis Progress (really)

I haven't had a personal post in what feels like a little while. Maybe it hasn't been that long. I can't really remember. This one isn't too personal. Just an update on school stuff.

I have been a graduate student at BYU for far too long to not have another degree. My thesis project has been the main thing slowing me down. That has partly been my own fault, but I will say that my committee chair hasn't been a ton of help either. There was a time last summer where I actually waited two, almost three months, before he gave me feedback on my thesis draft. It was a little bit ridiculous.

With impending events soon to occur in September, I really need to make some significant progress on my thesis so that it wouldn't hang over me through the Fall.

So I ended up changing my thesis topic. My original topic, sexual harassment, was going to be a beast to collect data on. It was at the point of being ready to be defended, and to begin data collection, but my committee kind of fell apart with the summer months, and in late May when it was ready to go, it was looking like mid to late July would be the soonest it could be scheduled. It was ridiculous.

So late last month, I talked to the Associate Chair of the Master's Program, whom I also happen to work with a lot at the internship office, and mentioned to him that I was thinking of changing my topic to something related to the internship office. The data was going to be a million times easier to collect, and I knew that he was interested that I finish as soon as possible. So it began.

In month's time, I got farther than I had in the last 3+ years with my other project. Today I defended my prospectus, I'll send in my application for review to get permission to survey human subjects. That will hopefully move through by next week, and we can collect data the next couple weeks. Hopefully data analysis can get done quickly, and hopefully it will only take me a few weeks to finish.

It's just amazing to me because it looks like this could actually wrap up pretty soon. I might have to kill myself to get it done before the baby arrives, but I think it's a real possibility.

And it makes me a little giddy to think about.

In 2 years time, I will have at least two graduate degrees from BYU. I could have a PhD also. Depending on my mood, I go back and forth on whether I want to finish it or not. The thing is, I could actually turn my work on sexual harassment into a dissertation. In which case, it's actually pretty far along then because it's already at the point of being ready to defend.

That's kind of amazing to think about. Then it actually isn't that far off from being done. Granted, data collection will be horrifying. Because it's an experimental design, we can only run subjects one at a time, for about 45-60 minutes at a time, and we'd need to get at least 100 participants, and ideally 150. So it was going to take months to complete data collection. And then there's the analysis and write-up, but still...

Anyway, things are actually moving along now. Real progress is being made. And that's really nice and probably more than you really wanted to know.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

These and Those

No real meaning in the post title. Sometimes I title these potpourri style posts "This and That" so I just decided to pluralize it. There ya go.

There's something really touching to me about this photo:

That is the South Korean President bowing to the nation as he apologizes for a bribery scandal that his older brother and former aides had a part in. Cultural customs can be beautiful, and there is something to me really beautiful about a world leader who knows he is beholden to his people for the actions that those close to him make, bowing to his people in acknowledgement of the mistakes that have been made. There's just so much humility and regret in that gesture, no?

The Aurora tragedy. I was listening to some talk radio the other day and one of the people was saying that we need to move away from even mentioning the name of the killer. Charles Manson is famous to this day because we have glorified him, however grotesquely, but that still helps those people achieve what they seek after - fame. So while this story is about the less than noble actions of one horrified father, this one details three boyfriends who gave their lives for their girlfriends:

Great evil often brings out the best in good men, men like Todd Beamer on Flight 93, Medal of Honor recipient Michael Murphy in Afghanistan, and now the Aurora three -- the three young men, each in different parts of theater nine, who gave their lives to protect their girlfriends.

Twenty-five-year-old Jon Blunk was sitting next to his girlfriend, Jansen Young, at the midnight premiere of "The Dark Night Rises" when the gunman (who shall remain nameless) opened fire in the dark theater. Blunk instinctively pushed his girlfriend to the ground and threw his body on top of hers. Blunk, a security guard, served eight years in the Navy and was in the process of re-enlisting in hopes of becoming a Navy SEAL, family and friends said. He was killed in the gunfire; his girlfriend survived.

Twenty-four-year-old Alex Teves dived on top of his girlfriend, Amanda Lindgren, when the gunfire erupted. Covering her body, he took the bullets so they did not harm her. She survived the massacre; he did not.

Matt McQuinn, 27 years old, threw his body in front of his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, as the shooting continued. Yowler survived with a gunshot wound to the knee; McQuinn's body absorbed the fatal shots.

These men were three of the 12 innocent people killed early that morning. Their incredible sacrifice leaves us asking: Why? Why would a young man with his entire life ahead of him risk everything for a woman he has no legal, financial or marital obligations to?

I think I have a post brewing just about the Aurora stuff. (The other story is about a guy who, when the shots started firing, left his fiancee and two children, ran out of the theater, and even drove away from the scene. As my friend said, a real life Costanza.)

And, lastly, a couple articles about Justice Roberts and his possible end game, here and here. Chief Justice Roberts has received a lot of criticism about his decision, but as these articles mention, he actually might have been the one person with the most foresight when it comes to the whole health care issue. A couple excerpts, first, from the The Atlantic:

Many are saying Chief Justice Robert's decision to sustain Obamacare was designed to preserve the long-term political capital of the Court. I think he simply made the decision he ultimately decided was right on the tax issue, which the precedent strongly supported. But to the extent a long-term political angle may have subconsciously motivated him, there is a large one that commentators have so far missed.

The unseen long game is that sustaining Obamacare as a tax helps preserve the Republicans' ability to adopt two items on their own political wish list: the Paul Ryan plan to privatize Medicare and George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security.

Consider the Ryan plan. It would convert Medicare into a voucher that seniors could use toward buying medical insurance from either Medicare or private insurers. The voucher amount would equal the cost of the second-cheapest plan, so if traditional Medicare is not one of the two cheapest plans, individuals would have to buy a private plan to avoid paying extra.

In short, under the Ryan plan, Medicare would become a mandate to make contributions into a Medicare trust that you would later draw from to buy yourself medical insurance, which could be from a private insurer, and might have to be so in order to avoid paying a penalty. This looks a lot like Obamacare's mandate to buy yourself medical insurance. There are two seeming differences, but neither is telling. 

And now the Capretta and Levin piece from NRO:

Essentially, the Court struck down the mandate while retaining the penalty. So those champions of Obamacare who relied on behavioral economics to argue that the law’s individual mandate could be sufficient to avert an insurance death spiral must now contend with the fact that the Court has closed off that argument.

In the wake of the Roberts decision, participation in Obamacare’s insurance scheme is optional. Rather than a requirement to buy coverage backed with a penalty for violators, the law now offers Americans two equally lawful and legitimate options: buy expensive insurance (which Obamacare will make all the more expensive), or pay a modest (and still largely unenforceable) tax and just buy insurance for the same price later if you need it. Presented as a choice, not a command, this provision will invite a straightforward comparison, and for many Americans the choice it would pose would be a very easy one.

Obamacare was always going to lead to a disastrous meltdown of America’s health-insurance system, but in the wake of the Court’s decision, many of its former defenders should acknowledge this fact too. If you argued that the mandate was the linchpin of the system, and that it would work despite its low and unenforceable penalty because Americans are a law-abiding people, you should now see that the mandate as you understood it no longer exists. The CBO should certainly acknowledge this in its new score of the law’s effects on federal spending and the uninsured, due out later this month.

Of course, this doesn’t really make Obamacare optional, because although the law can no longer order consumers to buy what insurers are selling, it still strictly defines what insurers may sell. People would therefore only have a choice between Obamacare and nothing. Many will prefer nothing, but that’s hardly a great set of options to choose from.

Obamacare is optional in a different, more important way, however. The November election will serve as a referendum on the law, which can be repealed in 2013 with new political leadership. The Supreme Court’s decision has made the case for repeal even stronger.

There is a lot at stake in this upcoming election, this being one of the main issues.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

You Didn't Build That

So by now you have probably heard a good amount about this speech. What's funny is that Obama supporters are claiming that the President is being quoted out of context, but just as Romney notes in this cut from the Kudlow show, the context is worse than the quote:

Thomas Sowell notes in his column:

All the high-flown talk about how people who are successful in business should "give back" to the community that created the things that facilitated their success is, again, something that sounds plausible to people who do not stop and think through what is being said. After years of dumbed-down education, that apparently includes a lot of people.

Take Obama's example of the business that benefits from being able to ship their products on roads that the government built. How does that create a need to "give back"?

Did the taxpayers, including business taxpayers, not pay for that road when it was built? Why should they have to pay for it twice?

What about the workers that businesses hire, whose education is usually created in government-financed schools? The government doesn't have any wealth of its own, except what it takes from taxpayers, whether individuals or businesses. They have already paid for that education. It is not a gift that they have to "give back" by letting politicians take more of their money and freedom.

When businesses hire highly educated people, such as chemists or engineers, competition in the labor market forces them to pay higher salaries for people with longer years of valuable education. That education is not a government gift to the employers. It is paid for while it is being created in schools and universities, and it is paid for in higher salaries when highly educated people are hired.

One of the tricks of professional magicians is to distract the audience's attention from what they are doing while they are creating an illusion of magic. Pious talk about "giving back" distracts our attention from the cold fact that politicians are taking away more and more of our money and our freedom.

I think those examples that those liberal politicians give are so funny. Yes, government created all of those roads, but do people and businesses who pay the taxes that fund the building of infrastructure serve to build the roads or does the infrastructure exist to serve the people?

What's interesting about the President's comments is that this has been called by many to be a defining moment of this campaign season. They reveal what he truly believes, and it seems to be something that is out of step with the electorate. It has also given Romney his voice.

The last week or so since the comments have been made, Romney has been seen has having renewed vigor, and it happens to be an area that is directly within the strengths that Romney possesses - stimulating business.

John Podhoertz had this to say about Romney:

The president’s “you didn’t build that” statement has not only framed the race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney exactly as Romney needed, it has transformed Romney’s campaign. He gave a very good speech last week at the NAACP convention, but even the strength of that performance was as nothing next to what he’s done over the past two days. I’ve now watched Romney’s speeches yesterday and today centering on the remark and its meaning, and what I’m seeing is a Mitt Romney come alive—or at least, a Romney new to me. He has always been articulate and with a command of facts and figures, but the distanced awkwardness that accompanied them has suddenly vanished. In their place is a loose, fluid, confident, and passionate spokesman defending the free enterprise system against Obama’s government-centered approach. Romney has done something you hear people talk about theoretically but which doesn’t often happen—he has found his voice as a presidential candidate. And it’s all due to Barack Obama. I hope a fruit basket is on the way to the White House. It would only be polite.

This election season is going to be interesting.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

I can't believe  how excited I am about this movie. I guess the last movie I was this excited for was either the last Dark Knight movie, or maybe even Inception. Christopher Nolan can simply do no wrong. I have never had such consistently high expectations and had them so consistently met at the same time.

The amount of hype surrounding the movie is crazy. Tonight, at our local theater, there will be 11 showings at the midnight hour, meaning every screen in that movie theater will be showing The Dark Knight Rises. I've never seen anything like that before. I'm not even sure that The Avengers had that kind of hype.

Rotten Tomatoes shows reviews at around 87%, which is really great.

I just can't wait.
Just over 30 hours to go. I'm so glad we're going to see it in the IMAX.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Knick Knacks and Paddy Whacks

Kite-boarding looks like one of the raddest things ever. E.V.E.R.

The Church recently came out with this statement regarding its financial independence. This statement is probably coming out as a response to the Business Week article that came out a few days ago that you can find here. I actually know one of the guys who commented in the article, described as a devout member. This is the same guy that I referred to in a post from a few weeks ago. He and some of his buddies were the ones who supplied a number of the quotes in the article, and although they are mostly benign, I'm not sure they are entirely accurate, nor am I sure that they reflect the feelings of mainstream membership. These guys are not mainstream by any means.

It seems that a good number of people are having difficulty with the Church's involvement on the City Creek Mall, and how much money went into that. Some questions have been raised about how much money went into that project versus how much is given to humanitarian aid, that the numbers seems to be not well distributed. Others ask about the Church's financial transparency and why is it that the public doesn't have detailed knowledge about all of the Church's financial holdings and actions. The same guys I mentioned above wonder aloud why the Church disclosed everything up until the 1950s or 1960s, but curbed that practice. This to me is a non-issue. If we trust the leadership, believe its inspired, then why can't we trust that it's no longer necessary to continue that practice? That may be blind faith to some, but that seems a fundamental faith concept to me.

Lastly, the Utah v. BYU football rivalry is off during the 2015-2016 seasons.This is really foolish to me. The Utes called it off presumably because they either didn't want to have to deal with BYU's team and possibly disrupting their opportunities at a title run by losing to the Cougars, or there is more to be gained from a non-regional opponent whose program maybe has more national prestige. There are all kinds of things wrong with this kind of thinking, but I think the biggest is sacrificing a rivalry that goes to the core of passion within your fan-base. What does competition even mean anymore if there is no longer a team that you're desperately trying to beat? Any Yankees fan will always say that a win against the Red Sox is more meaningful than one against the Royals. Pick any other dozens of rivalries and that's the case. It gives meaning to the competition and without it, what is it that makes sports interesting anymore?

But alas, this is how things seem to be going all over the place in sports. How does Ray Allen join the Heat after what has happened the last several years? How does Nash go to the Lakers? (Although I will say, I never really considered the Suns a "rival". They were never both peaking at the same time, so that one doesn't mean as much to me. Pierce to the Lakers though? That's another story. Yuck.)

Anyway, back to the Utah-BYU games. Is there anything else that carries as much weight in sports in all of Utah? Not even close. Local sports talk radio doesn't even talk about anything else besides the Jazz and college football. And college football has much more broad appeal. It's a terrible thing.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Call Me, Maybe

A friend of mine did a post on the phenomenon of this song recently, and I wanted to jump on that train too, but missed the boat. Then I took a car ride to an airplane...I have derailed...

...and I'm back!

Okay, his post is here. His brother did a video too, and it's actually pretty good. I don't know anyone in it, so I can validate him in that respect. Anyway, there are a number of covers/parodies...

This one got the ball rolling:

And this one got a lot of attention too:

As did this one:

And now there is this one that I think is really fun:

Has there been another song that the world has heard more times in a several month span like this one? I don't think so. It doesn't hurt being the catchiest song ever.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

California Dreamin'

My apologies to you, Constant Reader. I left without even so much as a goodbye, but be happy to know that I'm back.

Amy had a trade show down in San Diego, and because it was close enough to the 4th of July, I came down and picked her up and we made a good 9 or 10 days of it. We have plenty of video and pictures to share, but let me give an overview of the trip and some tidbits:

  • Arrive Wednesday to lunch in Irvine with Dave and Caitlin and the kiddos, napped, and then straight down to pick up my lovely wife in San Diego where we stayed in the luxurious Omni Hotel and ate on her company's per diem at Cheesecake Factory.
  • Thursday turned into a really fun day as the overcast sky burnt off quickly and we visited Pt. Loma in San Diego and walked around the tide pools and such. Something that I just love, love, love about my wife is how easy going she is. Without much of a plan and a willingness to go anywhere or do anything, she is just always fun to be around. Even pregnant, with her back achy, and her feet swelling up from time to time, she is a real trooper. This would come in handy a number of times during this trip as traffic or just getting lost would crop up and while a lot of people might get soured, she just always has such a great attitude. I cannot say enough about how much I value this quality in her. 
  • Friday beach with the Reids, wonderful day, but sadly, neither her nor I took many pics or video because we thought the 4th would give us our fill of beach related pictures...
  • Saturday pool with Dave and Mason. IHOP for dinner. Games.
  • Sunday baby blessing of Doug and Kris' baby boy, Sean. That was really fun because I've actually never been present for any of the blessings or Ryan's baptism. It's just never worked out. We got to see Doug and Kris' new place, visit with the Reid family, and see some old friends. Really fun. We also picked up a stroller and car seat.
  • Monday LA day. Amy drove up in the morning to LA. We dropped by Venice beach, walked the boardwalk, saw the skatepark (which I really loved seeing), then made our way to Santa Monica. We walked the pier and then had lunch at the hipsters only joint, Swingers. It's a really fun little place and was totally packed at 2pm on a Monday. Then we made our way over for some pics in front of the LA County Museum of Art with the light pole display , and we shot for some sightseeing around Dodger Stadium as we were going to see the game that night against the Reds with good friends, Matt and Laura, but we encountered the mess of downtown LA, no parking, and one way streets, all while searching for a convenient bathroom. After an hour (no exaggeration) of driving, we finally gave up and started making our way back to the stadium. We had great seats with Matt and Laura, and it was really fun to visit with them. I love how chatty Laura is, and it's crazy to think we've been friends for so long. It was my first trip to Dodger Stadium. Loved: the organ, palm trees in the back, view of the city form the stadium, and the regular who dressed up and sang Don't Stop Believing during the 8th inning, and all the foul balls coming our way.
    (If you're curious, he's actually an actor and was in Easy A. I think he's the chubby kid at the pool who propositions the girl. Interview with him here.) Didn't love: Dodger dog and Dodgers suckin' it up.
  • Tuesday saw my brother...and I don't remember what else we did.
  • Wednesday 4th of July beach day. Left early, had little trouble parking, but the whole day was overcast. Up until this day, the weather had been awesome, but it didn't get hot enough to burn off the cloud cover, so no one went in the water, and we didn't get as much video or photos with the cloudy skies. A shame. Fireworks at Tustin High.
  • Saw Mom again. Amy and I saw Moonrise Kingdom, which, if you're a Wes Anderson fan (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Royal Tennenbaums, Rushmore, etc.) then you'll like this one. Dinner with Doug and Kris at Woodranch Grill, an awesome restaurant I had never tried before. Angels game, and a good one too. Angels win 9-7, and my first exposure to the magic that is Mike Trout. Oh, and I finally got to try the Kogi BBQ truck. Too much flavor for my pregnant wife, but I just loved it. I'm sad that it's taken me so long to finally have some.
  • Friday drive home. Stopped at a few places to let Amy's swollen feet settle down. One of those places was the Calico Ghost Town, a place I've always seen on that UT-CA trip on the I-15, but never took the time to stop at. It was fun to check it out. Very touristy now. Once I'd like to see just a completely abandoned ghost town with no one occupying it. Just empty and ruined. That'd be really cool and a little haunting.
Something really fun about these trips is hanging with the Reids, seeing all the kids, playing games and all that, but what I really enjoyed this time was seeing all the little girls. Quinn (15 or 16 months), Madison (5ish), and Kathryn (about 3) are just some of the cutest most fun kids.  It just made me so excited to think about having my own little girl next year and doing beach and pool stuff with them. I can't wait for it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Has Arrived!

This is my jam lately. This album just released this past week. I'll take a closer look for y'all. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Confirmation Bias and Same Sex Parenting

Are you familiar with the term? A confirmation bias is the tendency that people have to look for, or only attend to information that confirms what they already believe. Everyone does it, and it's almost impossible to escape. It's also exactly what just about everyone does when it comes to politics and other similarly touchy subjects, as Jeff Jacoby writes about here:

Assuming Marks is right about the weakness of the findings on which the APA's verdict was based, how many advocates of same-sex marriage or adoption by gay and lesbian parents will consider changing their view? How many would back away from their support for gay marriage in the light of anything social science might say? I'd estimate the number at, roughly, zero. Conversely, suppose Marks's paper had demonstrated that the APA's declaration was even more firmly supported than previously realized. How many principled opponents of gay marriage would change their minds? My estimate would stay at zero.

In the same issue of Social Science Research, University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus publishes the results of a large national study, based on interviews with a random sample of 15,000 young adults (aged 18 to 39) about their families, upbringing, and life experiences. Regnerus's bottom line: Children raised by their biological mother and father in stable families tended to turn out better than those whose parents had been in same-sex relationships. Even after controlling for age, race, gender, as well as subjective factors, such as being bullied as a youth, the findings were stark. Children raised by one or more gay parents, Regnerus wrote in an essay on Slate, "were more apt to report being unemployed, less healthy, more depressed." They were also more likely to have experienced infidelity, trouble with the law, and sexual victimization.

Regnerus's methodology has been sharply disparaged. Even some scholars who oppose same-sex marriage have underscored its weaknesses. Regnerus himself acknowledges that outcomes might be very different for kids being raised by same-sex parents today, "in an era that is more accepting and supportive of gay and lesbian couples." And he stresses that sexual orientation has "nothing to do with the ability to be a good, effective parent."

But even if his methodology were unassailable, would it change the larger debate over homosexuality and same-sex marriage? If you believe legalizing gay marriage is a matter of fundamental fairness, no scholarly study is likely to turn you around. And if you regard same-sex marriage as inherently immoral or absurd, a shelf of scientific journals touting its benefits won't convince you otherwise.

We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures with a healthy respect for facts and logic and science. And yet when it comes to the most controversial questions of public policy -- gun ownership, abortion, church-state separation, waterboarding, illegal immigration, you name it -- does anybody start with the data and only then decide where to stand? Most of us move in the other direction.

A lot of people have gone to great lengths to disparage the study, as Jacoby notes, but after reading his assertions in the article itself, he makes an honest effort to qualify his findings, suggesting that they are still very limited and may have different outcomes if they were to be redone today.

Mona Charen notes:

The studies on children raised by homosexual parents that predated Regnerus’s work suffered from a number of flaws. They tended to be examinations of “mostly white, well-educated, lesbian parents” living in metropolitan areas. They were often based on parental reports of childhood outcomes, and were composed of people who had been recruited at lesbian bookstores and other contact points — skewing the sample in favor of those eager to make a point. Not all of the studies were marred by such flaws, but nearly all were small, and thus lacked, in Regnerus’s words, “enough statistical power to detect meaningful differences should they exist.”

Regnerus’s study, the New Family Structures Study (NFSS), interviewed 15,000 adults aged 18–39, and asked dozens of questions about their lives, including whether their mother or father had ever been involved in a same-sex relationship. Among those whose parents had been involved in same-sex relationships, the outcomes were significantly worse than for children raised by married mothers and fathers. Even after controlling for factors such as age, race, gender, or the gay-friendliness of the state in which they lived, those raised in homes with one (or more) gay parents reported that they experienced more depression, ill health, unemployment, infidelity, drug use, trouble with the law, sexual partners, sexual victimization, and unhappy childhood memories.

 Anyway, these findings are interesting, but only insofar as a person can successfully interpret them in a subjective manner.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

...the tone that matters

Not too long ago a FB friend of mine made some comments about the Church's involvement with the City Creek Center, mainly negative comments about how the Church has decided to manage its funds. I never really knew the guy that well, being just a coworker of his at a law firm that I worked at for a few months, but I felt like I should say something to him about the tone of the comments that he was making regarding the Church.

He has voiced a number of concerns about same sex marriage, mostly, and recently about this real estate development project. I wrote him a message so as to not make it a public debate, but I guess that is kind of the path that he has decided to take with all of his concerns. Here are a few of his comments to me:

As I read your thoughtful response, I couldn't help but think "that sounds just like me two years ago." Please don't mistake that as some chiding superiority. I'm just pretty sure that I understand where you're coming from, because I used to feel the same way. I used to focus my thinking on how the Church operates through the lens of "the Church and its leaders are always led by God, therefore there must always be a wise/prudent/divine purpose for its seemingly errant decisions."

For me, that perspective came from a lifetime of hearing Mormon mantras such as "the prophet will never lead the Church astray," "follow the brethren," and "the Church is perfect," etc.

I simply can't follow that philosophy any more. I know for a fact that the GA's, prophets, apostles, or whoever CAN lead the Church astray. They DO make mistakes -- sometimes horrible mistakes that cause a great deal of harm. Now, that doesn't change my relationship to God or the Gospel, but it certainly changes the way I view and examine the Church as a institution. I can elaborate on that point further if you'd like, but suffice it to say that I think to invest blind faith/trust/obedience in any institution led by fallible men is akin to putting your trust "in the arm of flesh." 

What really disturbs me is not so much that he has some skeptical thoughts about the Church, because doubts can creep up every now and then for the most faithful members, but its the tone and attitude of his message that I find so unnerving. 

There is certain ground where faithful members shouldn't ever want to tread and I think this line of thinking happens to be one of those areas. It's an attitude where one believes that he knows what's best, or that he has the mind of God, where he feels that his leaders do not. It's one thing to have doubts and concerns about certain doctrines or practices, but it's quite another to be voicing those in such a way as to cast doubt on the leadership and institution of the Church itself. This kind of dangerous attitude is reflected as much in the doubting of the leadership of the Church as it is in the reluctance to accept callings and assignments given by local leaders. This kind of person can accept the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, in the Bible and other prophets and prophetic works of the past, but finds it a struggle to embrace the living Church and its inspired leaders of the present.

Credulity in the mistaken principles can be a dangerous thing. It can lead to an impassioned hypocrisy that is misguided at best and wholly damning at worst, but when its founded in truth, meekly seeking the mind and will of God, it is something that helps turn the sinner into a saint.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Different From Other Times

I read an interesting article that comes from the May issue of Vanity Fair about what went into the sitcom Friends. It's a good length article, but very interesting. This part about the show ending kind of struck me given some things I've been feeling today:

MATT LeBLANC: That whole ending, that was a rough two weeks. We went away for Christmas for two weeks, and then we came back for two final weeks to shoot the one-hour finale. I had quit smoking for four years, and in that final two weeks I started smoking again because we were so aware that our time together was coming to an end. “Yes, I’ll talk to you. Yes, I’ll always know you, but I won’t know you like this. I won’t see you every day, all day. Eat lunch together every day. To have this awesome, awesome experience every week. It’s coming to an end.

So in those final two weeks, we would steal away these little moments. “Hey, let’s go hang out. Let’s go sit in my room.” It was really … a lot of Kleenex.

I've been stranded at my apartment today because I'm having my car worked on, and here and there I've thought about different people who might be able to take me away and distract me for a bit. One of those people is Mike Reid. It broke my heart a little bit to think that he is on his way driving to his next adventure that will carry him for the next four years.

I've always felt close to Mike, but these last four years we've gotten a lot closer just because he was one person I knew that I could always lean on out here in Utah. I've gone through phases with different friends, and I'm still friends with most of the people that I first met out here when I moved back to Utah, but Mike has really been my rock. While I've changed roommates, circles of friends, dated a few different girls, Mike was the one constant throughout this entire time.

He was my lunch buddy, my intramural soccer teammate, and even my bowling classmate once. I just love the kid to death. This is true of most all of the Reids, but Mike especially feels more family than just friend. I'm really excited for him and and proud at the same time that he's going on to dental school in Michigan, but sad at the same time that he won't be here anymore. And that's where that Matt LeBlanc statement comes in. Things will change and be different, and they'll never be the same as they were during this time.

I can think of several times when I've had those kinds of feelings. I can remember my mom waving goodbye when I drove off to college, and she was just balling her eyes out, knowing I wasn't going to come back as the kid she knew ever again. I remember leaving BYU right before my mission, saying goodbye to my friend Cid at the basketball court outside of DT, knowing that that goodbye would be different from many others. Leaving California, the second time, was a hard one too. I remember leaving Dave's apartment complex and just feeling so, so sad.

Anyway, just reminds me of this scene from Shawshank Redemption with Red's words about his friend, Andy Dufresne (a Stephen King story, betcha didn't know that, huh?):

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tear Down This Wall - 25th

This happened a few days ago, but it's still worth noting. A few days ago was the 25th anniversary of Reagan's Tear Down This Wall speech at the Brandenburg gate. Let me excerpt from something the writer of that speech wrote:

In April 1987, when I was assigned to write the Brandenburg Gate address, I spent a day in Berlin with the White House advance team, the logistical experts, Secret Service agents, and press officials who went to the site of every presidential visit to make arrangements. In the evening, I broke away from the advance team to join a dozen Berliners for dinner. Our hosts were Dieter and Ingeborg Elz, who, after Dieter completed his career at the World Bank in Washington, had retired to Berlin. Although we had never met, we had friends in common, and the Elzes had offered to put on this dinner party to give me a feel for their city. They had invited Berliners of different walks of life and political outlooks–businessmen, academics, students, homemakers.

We chatted for awhile. Then I explained that, earlier in the day, the ranking American diplomat in West Berlin had told me that over the years Berliners had made a kind of accommodation with the wall. “Is it true?” I asked. “Have you gotten used to it?”

The Elzes and their guests glanced at each other uneasily. Then one man raised an arm and pointed. “My sister lives twenty miles in that direction,” he said. “I haven’t seen her in more than two decades. Do you think I can get used to that?” Another man spoke. As he walked to work each morning, he explained, a soldier in a guard tower peered down at him through binoculars. “That soldier and I speak the same language. We share the same history. But one of us is a zookeeper and the other is an animal, and I am never certain which is which.”

Our hostess broke in. A gracious woman, Ingeborg Elz had suddenly grown angry. Her face was red. She made a fist with one hand and pounded it into the palm of the other. “If this man Gorbachev is serious with his talk of glasnost and perestroika,” she said, “he can prove it. He can get rid of this wall.”

A few things I've read recently about WWII and the fall of the USSR has made mention that it's worth remembering that the outcomes of both events was in doubt for a long time. It wasn't clear for a long time that the Allied forces would defeat Hitler, and for many years it was not clear that the USSR would ever go away.

Reagan was one of the few people who recognized the challenge that the Soviet Union presented for the US, and probably the only one who actually believed that if the US took them head on, they would not last. 

When you read about what it was like for the people of East and West Germany from the excerpt above, how can you not appreciate the Reagan's boldness in making that statement. He didn't write it, but he said those words against the opinions of all of his most trusted advisors who attempted many times to soften the message that he felt he needed to deliver.

And to think that Gorbachev was given the Nobel Peace Prize, as if he had any choice in the outcome of the Cold War, what a joke.

Thank heavens for President Reagan.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Marathon As a Metaphor

This past Saturday I ran the Utah Valley Marathon. That is marathon number five for all of you who are counting out there. Leading up to this race, I thought I was feeling pretty good. I did a moderate amount of training, had incorporated more strength training, and had a few good long runs in preparation up to the marathon.

***If you want to skip race specifics, then skip down to the next set of asterisks.

For some reason I kind of took the last few weeks off during the taper. Part of it was our trip up to Vancouver over Memorial day weekend. Most of it was probably me just wanting to be done with the schedule. I just had had enough with the rigors of always feeling like I had to work out and do more.

So as the last week arrived before the marathon, I, of course, wanted to partly make-up for the lost fitness, so I went back to my normal Monday work-out, although I did cut-down on the weights and reps I was doing, and the length and intensity of the run following. But even that proved too much. I kind of shredded my calves and they ended up being sore the next 5 days, and sore enough on the day of the marathon that I knew within the first ten minutes of running that race that I would not be having a PR kind of day.

The Utah Valley Marathon is a really good race. It's well-organized. The expo was small, but seemed to have some nice booths as I quickly passed through it while picking up my packet. The parking was easy for the shuttle buses up to the start. The major downside was that they were leaving at about 3:30 AM. Yikes. I knew I would have a tough time sleeping, but this made what little rest I got even shorter than what I would have liked.

I got in bed just before midnight, but laid there until at least 1 AM before I ever fell asleep, then woke up at 2:11 AM, only to fall asleep intermittently until about 3 when I just decided it was time to get up.

The temperature for the race was pretty close to perfect, about 70 degrees or so. The only thing I didn't like was the strong headwind while running through the canyon, which is about 9 miles in the middle of the race.

The course, however, was beautiful. The start is up past Wallsberg, UT, which is beyond the Deer Creek Reservoir. We started at six and ran with the sunrise peaking over the rolling hills. The course is mostly downhill, but not as steep as Deseret News, so that was really nice.

I was running pretty well in the beginning. I had a 7:30 min/mi pace for the first 8 or so miles, and then started to slow down as I started to approach Provo Canyon. My left knee started feeling pretty tender, which has never been a problem for me, so I thought it might be a result of my shifting my running because of the soreness in my calves. I think my running mechanics shifted a bit to compensate, and I feel confirmed in that thought because the knee doesn't hurt at all.

By mile 18 or so, I was feeling very fatigued, my legs just worn out completely. It didn't feel like a fueling problem. It just felt like a pure fatigue problem. My first half marathon split was 1:48, which was only 2 minutes off of my St. George pace, which was also my best marathon. The big difference being that my second half of St. George was actually four minutes faster than the first half, while this second half was 20 minutes longer than the first. Fatigue.

***Marathons always have a way of making me feel grateful. I went on at length about my experience in my first marathon in Chicago, and how grateful I just felt for Dave and Caitlin that came to support, random people who cheer along the course, and all of the wonderful volunteers who help out.

This time around, I was really feeling it for my wife, Amy. I first saw her at around mile 13, and she made the effort to drive down the canyon and meet me several more times along the way to cheer me on. I saw my sister-in-law Elisha running back along the course to support her friend and run with her to the end, and I saw Amy at the end with her brother Scott.

Marathons are hard. They're long, and they take months of preparation, and even then, sometimes you're still not entirely ready. It turns out marathons are really, really long. Dumb things can mess up a race. Last year it was just a super steep drop in elevation, and this year it was probably just working out a little too hard, too late in my preparation for the marathon. I ended up running just barely under 4 hours. I walked a lot at the end.

From the very start of the race I had a really hard time not thinking negative thoughts about how I was feeling. Part of me wanted to quit, and in these last two marathons in particular, it's taken a lot for me to not just want to give up. The novelty of getting through a race is lost on me now. I've run five of these. I'm getting to be kind of a vet with these things, so it turns out that isn't any kind of motivation for me to do these anymore.

The thing that has gotten me through these last couple of races, however, is just the thought that I know my wife wants to see me finish. I know that she will always support me, even 6 months pregnant, by herself, and at early hours on a Saturday morning, to drive along canyon and yell for me encourage me to go on. I can hear the emotion in her voice every time she yells for me, and that becomes enough fuel for me to finish even when it feels impossible to pick-up my leaden thighs and trudge another step towards the finish line.

And that's the difference now. I'm married to the sweetest person I know, and she will always cheer me on and want me to succeed, even if I no longer want to do it for myself, because the luster of just finishing for my own purposes is no longer as vibrant, but if it's her expectation that I make it, well, then I guess that's just what I'll do. Sometimes that means finishing another mile when you've already run 25.2 of them.

I went into this race thinking that I would take a long break from marathon running, but not even a day later, I started thinking about other races that I would like to run. I'll probably take this next year off from doing another marathon, but I know I'll be back. Not even three days later and I think I can run again already. And I'm actually even excited about it. We'll see.