Monday, June 27, 2011

Are we good enough for freedom?

My very talented friend, Randy McNeely, wrote a wonderful song called Are we good enough for freedom?

I've included the video below.

I, for one, would love to hear this song recorded with a full musical arrangement. Watch the video and post your feelings on his YouTube channel.

For more information on Randy, you can visit him at Constitutional Tidbits.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Serving suggestions

I'm an eagle scout--something I'm fairly proud of accomplishing. In my journey to earn my eagle, I went on my fair share of camping trips. When roughing it in the woods, there is always the question of what to bring to eat. Tin foil (or I guess they'd now be called aluminum foil) dinners were a big hit. Basically, it was potatoes, carrots, onions and ground beef heavily covered in salt and pepper and wrapped in foil. To cook it? Simply throw it into the fire and wait until you hear the "sizzle".

Hotdogs were also popular. Find a stick, sharpen one end to a point, skewer the hotdog, hold it over the fire until at least half of it is charred and tada! Dinner!

On one of our trips, one of the leader had brought something along the lines of cup o' noodles. Again, fairly easy to make. Just boil some water over the fire and pour it into the cup. I remember this leader taking the time to teach us a lesson. On the cover of the cup o' noodles was a picture of the noodles mixed in with all sorts of vegetables and even chunks of meat. He then showed us what he had made. They didn't look close at all. He explained the concept of "serving suggestion" which is really a way for the product to look better than it was.

For me, the most common example of a serving suggestion is those pictures on cereal boxes where it shows a bowl of the product, a glass of milk, a glass of Orange Juice, toast (w/ butter), half a cantaloupe, a 101% bran muffin, and 12 waffles.

And then sometimes the serving suggestions make no sense whatsoever.

I guess the suggestion is that you cook it before eating it.

It's Rice-a-roni! How is this a suggestion? That you use a fork?

Their suggestion is to feed the young boy a whole plate of  sausages.
If I was given a cone that big, I'd probably have that same expression.
I'm leery of any product that suggests I serve it with a large, blue, ferret looking monster that likes to hug kids when it eats.

So, what happens if your product doesn't really work with the whole idea of serving suggestion? Well, you enlarge the product cover to "show texture". I've never really gotten this whole concept. So, a really bumpy cracker with all sorts of nooks and crannies makes it a better product how? Let's not kid ourselves, they enlarge the product so your mind thinks, "Wow! That's one big cracker! *AND* there is a whole box full of them! I'm going to be eating like a king for weeks!"

Need more proof?

The words "enlarged to show texture" are so small, it makes the cracker look even bigger!
How would you even begin to eat something bigger than your head?
Lastly, this picture doesn't really fall into a category. I just thought it was funny.

No relation to the author of this blog.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Calling good evil and evil good

Warning! Warning! Highly opinionated blog posted ahead!

First of all, if at any time during this blog you feel the need to write a scathing comment below of how wrong I am, please just walk away. The purpose of this blog is not to incite harsh feelings in anyone. If you start to feel upset at me for what I've written, then stop and move on. This blog isn't intended for you.

Before I dove head first into the writing world, I had never had a Facebook account. Nor did I have a blog. But both of these have been invaluable tools to reach out to many people as well as connect with people of similar interests.
Of course, when you become socially active, you run into people who don't share your beliefs--which can be enlightening or frustrating or somewhere in the middle.

Last night, I came across this ad on Facebook:
And no, I didn't alter it at all.

The first thing that came to my mind was the scripture from Isaiah 5:20 that says: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"

Can you imagine that same message being placed on a pack of cigarettes? "This product is dangerously addictive. Smoke now!"

I'm not going to put out a blanket statement that all video games are bad. There are those that believe that because some video games may be bad, they all should be avoided. But couldn't that same logic be used on magazines, TV shows, Movies, Books, Internet sites, blogs. . .

That is why Heavenly Father gave us the ability to choose and have the ability to discern good from evil. Just like I stated before, if you find yourself reading this blog and are offended, well, stop reading it. You have a choice.

For me, nothing symbolizes this concept of calling good evil and evil good like the recent Broadway play, "The Book of Mormon." There have been a lot of articles written, both pro and con about the play. It recently won numerous Tony Awards. (Trademarked name I'm sure)

I haven't seen the play, nor do I intend to. I have read the synopsis and was saddened by what I read. It's almost hard to believe that such a play could ever be produced, let alone get awards, for its blatant mockery of an organized church.

One article I read compared it to the "Amos 'n' Andy" days of America--something that wouldn't be tolerated now. The writer of that article went on to suggest that in a few decades, people may look back at this play and shake their heads that it was produced.

In an attempt to justify the play, one of the people commented on the article by saying, "The play won numerous awards. How many awards has the actual Book of Mormon won?" Awards? Is that how we base if something is good or not? How about asking the millions of people who have read the Book of Mormon and have had their lives changed forever.

However, one thing I've learned over the years, is that there are people who won't understand how offensive something like this play is to those who hold the doctrine sacred.

I imagine it would be like trying to describe the different between red and pink to someone who has been blind from birth. Without a common point of reference, all the detailed explanations in the world won't help them understand the difference.    

Thursday, June 16, 2011

These are the good old days

My 11 year old daughter mentioned at dinner last night, "I remember the good old days when. . ." She then went on to talk about a particular situation when she playing with her cousins. What made this really cute was that we were, at that moment, having dinner with her cousins. After listening to her for a moment, I said, "Do you realize that in a few years these will be the good old days?" She looked at me as if I had just uttered the most profound thing she'd ever heard.

It reminded me of a day when I was a senior at BYU. I was walking from one class to another with some classmates. It was cold. It was snowy. We had just left a class where we had been given a huge assignment. No doubt, the class we were headed to would add even more to our work load. It seemed like we had been going to school forever, and even though we were in our last year, the end seemed far away. I remember mentioning to my classmates, "You do realize that right here, right now, these are the good old college days." Once again, the response was one of "Are you crazy?"

One of the things we like to do on Monday nights for family home evening is watch videos of when the children were younger. At the time, I was so worn out from our first three kids being so close in age (they were each born about 18 months apart). When I watch the videos and see how cute and fun they were, I miss it. I'm sure at the time, I would never thought I'd say that.

And now, as I get ready to move forward with the next phase of my life, (my oldest starts High School, my first book is being re-released in two months, the second one is written and edited, and my third one about 4/5th written) I can't help but wonder in a few years if I'll look back on this time as "the good old days".

Sunday, June 12, 2011

When billboards go wrong

Did you know there are four states in the USA that have outlawed billboards? It's true! Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine have all passed laws making billboards illegal. However, that leaves forty six more states to display these marketing tools.
And after reviewing the following billboards, I can understand why the four states listed above banned them from their borders.

What's not shown here is that there are signs like this every 3 meters.
But what if I don't want to be on the menu?

I'm all for keeping things in perspective, but really?

What's not listed here is that they have 4 shooting ranges.

Actually, we could use more of these around my town.
I can't remember the last time someone asked me how I'd like my moose to be cooked.

And then there are the situations where billboards are placed next to each other with unfortunate consequences.

Well, one out of three is correct.

But what types of change are we talkin' about here?

. . .
And finally, for all those that don't believe that faith proceeds the miracle:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stating beliefs isn't the same as attacking someone

I'm leery about posting this blog, which is the very reason I need to do so.

To make one point clear off the top: I believe that everyone is free to choose their actions. I also believe that people are accountable for their actions. Having said that, I know I have opinions and beliefs that are different from others, just as they have opinions different from mine.
What bothers me, and is the point of this blog, are the inconsistencies in society.

 Here is what triggered me thinking on this subject: Mitt Romney is running for President of the United States of America. I'm not going to bring up politics or discuss his policies. But almost without fail, every article about him has to mention that he's a Mormon. For the record, so am I. And therefore, all sorts of things are brought up in the media about the Mormon church, which, by-the-way, is a nickname for the true name: The Church of JesusChrist of Latter-day Saints.

When I lived in Connecticut, I faced all sorts of questions about my religion. Some of the comments / questions bordered on harassment. Examples: How many wives do you have? Can I see your magical underwear? Did you have to shave off your horns when you left Utah? One person went as far as to say I was prejudice against gay people because Mormons believe it's a sin to commit a homosexual act. Had I personally done anything or said anything to demonstrate any sort of prejudice behavior? No. It was just because of my religion that this person made this assumption and comment about me.

Another thing I found disturbing was when Romney was running back in 2007. There was a local paper in Connecticut that was very "liberal" (their word, not mine) which ran a very negative article about Mitt Romney. Their main issue with Romney? Because he was a Mormon. They went as far as to print the "damning evidence" against Romney. What was this evidence? It was a copy of The Family: A Proclamation to the World released by the Mormon church in 1995 which states that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Also recently in the news is the story of Roger McDowell, pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves who was suspended because he made some anti-gay slurs towards some fans. There was an outcry at his behavior, with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation calling on the Braves and Major League Baseball to take "real disciplinary action and send the message that anti-gay slurs have no place in sports."

Do I agree with them? Yes, absolutely. I believe verbal attacks on anyone based on their beliefs shouldn't be permitted.

However, there is a difference between slurs and stating your beliefs on something.

The Mormon church made it very clear in its support of California Proposition 8 in what it believed in. Yet, it was amazing how many verbal attacks were made against the church for supporting it. Which brings me back to Mitt Romney. I'm going to find it very interesting to see the comments made toward him and the church from people who don't share the same beliefs.

It boils down to this: can you verbally or in print attack someone and state your beliefs at the same time? Yes. Can you state your beliefs and not verbally or in print attack someone? Yes.

In other words, just because I don't agree with you, doesn't mean I hate you or am out to get you. At the same time, if I feel strongly enough about something, I'm going to do all I can to support that belief. But for heaven's sake, if we disagree, let's use tact and keep it civil.   

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Humiliation as a motivator

I'm not a big fan of seeing someone get yelled at in public. I'm even less of a fan of seeing someone in authority disciplining one of their subordinates in front of their peers. I guess there can be a case made for that, though a lame one.

When I have to put someone on "corrective action" (the politically correct term), I make it a point to do it one on one, in a setting away from their siblings or co-workers. One downside: when the being "corrected" says, "It's not fair! No one else is getting in trouble!" My response is, "How do you know? Is there anyone else here watching this discussion? No? Then they have no idea this. The only way they'll know is if you tell them."

This next story is not one of my finer moments, but it's worth sharing to demonstrate my point.

When I was in the 10th grade, I had a math teacher that would go student to student to collect their homework. And if you didn't have it? She'd make you explain why to the whole class.

I was always good at completing my homework. After I finished it, I'd fold the paper in half and put it in my math book. Any corrected homework would also go back into the math book so I could review it for the next test.

At my house, I often did my homework on the couch. Next to the couch were the newspapers we had for the week. I was also a paper carrier (along with my siblings) during this time, so we always had extra newspapers hanging around.

One night, I finished my homework, put my math book on the couch and went to bed. (Yeah, should have put the book away, I know) The next morning, I discovered that our two poodles had been running around the house and knocked my math book right into the pile of newspapers. My assignments were all mixed up in the newspapers, and of course, I was running late, so I grabbed what I could and took off to school.

When I arrived at my math class, I realized that my homework from the night before was missing. I was mortified! I so didn't want to have to explain to the teacher what happened in front of the class. But sure enough, she did her rounds. When she got to me, she asked, "Where's your homework?"

I started to explain by saying, "Well, you see, we have these two dogs. . ." Before I could say anything else, she interrupted me. "Oh I see. Your dog ate your homework. Is that it?" Everyone in the class started laughing. . .at me. I tried to tell her no, and wanted to tell her what really happened, but she cut me off by saying, "I can't believe you really tried to use that lame excuse." She then moved on to the next student.

For the next several classes, when I walked in, she make some sort of comment about my dogs and keeping my "tasty" homework away from them.

My response? I stopped going to that class. There was only a few more days in the semester. After that, I wouldn't have to see her again. I ended up getting a "D" in the class, from not taking the final exam. As I look back on it, I learned a lot from that teacher, but it wasn't about math.