Thursday, December 25, 2008

So This Is Christmas

Tuesday night I was watching the kids and decided to put on a Christmas special for them while I made dinner. I put on "The Little Drummer Boy". My oldest watched a couple of minutes and said:

Dad, this isn't a Christmas special it's a movie on the birth of Jesus.

I explained to him that this was the real meaning of Christmas, that we celebrate the birth of our Savior. During this time there is one Christmas Carol that I love more than any other. It is "Oh Holy Night". The words to the song are thus:

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Behold your King.

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Today is Christmas and this carol states how I feel about my Savior. The world waited for Him in sin and error, so much so that when He came He had to correct the errors of the day. Those who had looked for His coming did rejoice and there was new hope from His birth. The three wise men came from the East to herald the day of His birth. The gifts they brought him were specially for Him and for His life's mission. He began life in a lowly manger so that when He lifted Himself up He could reach down and lift us as well. He is our friend, the best friend anyone can have and is always there for us. He taught us the true meaning of love and peace. He broke the chains that have held us all slave to sin if we will just follow Him. The lessons taught by Him, if followed, would bring an end to all oppression. So I echo with this song:

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

I hope that all who read these words will enjoy this celebration of the birth of the Savior. If you do not believe that Jesus is the Christ I hope that there is peace in your home and that there is joy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


R E S P E C T find out what it means to me.
- Aretha Franklin

When I was 10 or 11 I learned a very important lesson on respect. The lesson was taught to me by my Grandfather. We were at his house and he had a miniature pool table. I was playing when my Mom announced it was time to go. I told her that I was going to finish the game and then I'd be out. My Grandfather was right next to me when I said it. He reached over and grabbed my arm and said "You will go when your Mom says it's time to go". There was no arguing with Grandpa. I learned that I needed to respect my Mom and listen to her when she says something. This is something I have never forgotten.

Every week I play basketball with some guys from the neighborhood in a local church. There are times when some youth from the area play with us. Last night was one such occasion. The young man had to be in 9th grade and was pretty good. We play from 8:30 to 10:00PM which gets us a decent amount of exercise. We were playing our last game when a woman comes in and sits down. I was wondering who it was and then figured out it was this youth's mom. At 10:05 the mom stands up and walks to the door of the Gym and calls her son and says it's time to go. The youth was on my team and I was bringing the ball down the court. I looked at the youth and he was going to play on. I stopped right where I was and said "No, when Mom says it's time to go, it's time to go." I stopped dribbling (we were playing with his ball) and started walking to get my stuff. No one else said anything (most of the guys are fathers). The youth's mom thanked me for backing her up. I can only hope the young man got the point and will remember this moment as I remember that time with my Grandpa.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Day for Baptism

Saturday was a special day in our home. Our oldest son was baptized. This is a wonderful time for our family as we get to participate in an event that is significant to our religion. In our religion everyone is eligible for baptism when they are 8 years old. Levi turned 8 the first week of December and last Saturday was the day for him to be baptized. The process for baptism is pretty simple. The candidate (Levi in this case) meets with the Bishop of the ward (local congregation) and is asked some questions about baptism. Once the interview is completed the Bishop gives his approval and the baptism is scheduled.

In our Church men are able to hold the Priesthood and as such can perform baptisms. I have the privilege of holding the Priesthood and being able to baptize those that are eligible. I am also the first member of my family to be able to do so and this made this day even more special for me.

The day started a little worrisome. Levi actually woke up not feeling well. He did get sick at one point and looked at me disheartened and said "Now I won't be able to be baptized!". I looked at him and said we had a few hours before the baptism was to take place and that we would see how he felt. Levi rested and was feeling better when it was time to get ready. He had a new tie, new pants and a tie tack from his birth mother (you'll recall all our children are adopted) for the occasion.

When we arrived we went to the back of the church where the baptismal font is located in order to get our white baptism clothes. Levi was able to be baptized the same day as three of his friends and we all were getting our clothes together. After changing into our baptism clothes we moved to the Chapel where the meeting would take place. Levi's Grandpa gave a discourse on baptism to explain what baptism means and what would happen spiritually as a result of being baptized. After the discourse we moved back to the baptismal font where I had the opportunity to lead Levi into the water and perform the baptism. I have to admit it took me a minute to start as I got choked up when trying to perform the baptism. Once I had gathered myself I performed the baptism and it went flawlessly. We baptize by immersion meaning that the person who is being baptized is placed completely beneath the water for it to count. Levi was awesome and did what he needed to to ensure that we did not have re-do the baptism.

After performing the baptism we dried off and changed into our Sunday clothes. The ceremony was not yet complete at this point as we had one more piece to perform. Once a person has been baptized he/she is then confirmed a member of the church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost. Once all three baptisms were performed we went back into the chapel where one of Levi's friend's grandmother gave a discourse on the Holy Ghost. Then it was my privilege to confirm Levi a member of the Church and give him the Gift of the Holy Ghost and place upon him a blessing.

After all the confirmations were completed the Bishop gave a few remarks and then the meeting closed. Levi was very happy and we all congratulated him on his choice to be baptized. We came home where we had some friends come over who attended his baptism and enjoy lunch together. Levi also got some baptism gifts that he was thrilled about. One gift in particular was a journal that he could write in and keep his thoughts on life. Levi took the time to write about his baptism in it.

All in all it was a great day and I'm grateful that I could be a part of it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Of Comedy and Courtesy

So this week I went on a short trip to San Francisco (Richmond) California for business. The business meetings were great, the other parts of the trip? Well let's just say it was a real weird ride.

The trip was to start by leaving the airport at 8:40AM, I get to the airport with plenty of time and the first sign that this trip wasn't going to be normal should have been the gate change. Now this time of year you usually get a fog delay in San Fran and sure enough we got one. So we land a 1/2 hour late. While walking to the end of the terminal (I had to meet a colleague in the airport before traveling to the meetings) I passed a woman who was taking her phone out of her purse. When she did that I noticed a piece of paper fall out. I was going to continue when I noticed that the paper was colored and stopped to pick it up. Sure enough it was a $10 bill. I quickly caught up to the lady, tapped her on the shoulder and told her that she dropped this. She looked at me and said "Thank you that's sweet". I continued on hoping that she would do something nice for someone that day as well.

My colleague's plane was also delayed so I spent an hour reading in the airport. He arrived and we went to a restaurant in the airport to get some lunch since it wasn't being provided at our meetings. There was no host to seat us, but a server waved us in and put us in his area. We ordered some soda and then started to look over the menu. The server returned after a while and took our order. The guy was definitely going through the motions and was not attentive at all. This should have been another sign that this trip was going to be out of the ordinary. We headed out to see if a shuttle was available to take us to Richmond. The guy explained all the delays and we decided it would be more than an hour before we would get to our meetings and that wasn't an option. So we decided to take a taxi. We get to the taxi line and the coordinator points us to the first taxi in line. The lady driver was very talkative and was driving a "Green" car. She didn't know if our destination would require us to pay 1 1/2 times the meter rate but at this point we didn't have an option. She then programmed in the address of our meetings into her GPS system and headed out. At this point I have to ask if you've ever ridden in a bumper car at a fair or other amusement park? If so you'll know what our ride was like. The driver was checking the GPS to see the visual instructions and in doing so was wobbling the steering wheel which meant we kept rocking. It didn't help that the TomTom was telling her to turn left when the arrows were pointing right. We eventually get to our destination and were very glad to be out of that particular car.

Our meetings went well and afterward we headed to the hotel to check-in, put our stuff down and then head to dinner. I get to the desk to check-in, the guy wasn't the friendliest, but whatever. He tells me I'm in 1211 and points me to the elevators. On arriving at the room I notice that the room is alone, meaning the door to the next room isn't immediately next door as the other rooms were. I walk in to the room and notice that there is a flat-screen TV, a couch, two chairs and a 6 person conference table. There's one problem, NO BED! So I called down to the front desk and a nice lady by the name of Victoria answered. The conversation went as follows:

Me: I have a strange question, but where is my bed?
Victoria: Oh you're in the Parlor Suite sir, you have a sofa bed.
Victoria: Did you get your breakfast coupons?
Me: No
Victoria: I'll have some run up to you
Me: Thanks

Wait, I have a what? I'm paying $180/night for a pull-out bed? Unbelievable. Then I remembered that when I was checking in another hostess was telling someone that the hotel was sold-out for the night. I'm now stuck. So I head down and explain this to all my colleagues. Yes I got laughed at and yes it was deserved. Now I'm not tall, 5'9", but this fold-out sofa bed required me to sleep on it diagonally in order to not have my feet hang off the end. Needless to say that that night was not very restful.

The next day's meeting were fine, but my ordeal had not ended. We got a town car to take us to the airport and nothing weird happened during this ride to the airport. We ate lunch and then I headed to my gate for a long wait (airline wanted to re-issue the ticket to get me on an earlier flight and it was not worth the cash). Finally the time came to start boarding. While waiting for the flight a young lady and her daughter came and sat near me. I noticed her because she was limping. They called her name at the gate and came over and ordered a wheelchair for her. We are sitting right by the gate where boarding was to occur. The lady pushing the wheelchair arrives and this mom says that the chair is for her. The lady pushing the wheelchair laughs and begins to check her cell phone for the name of the passenger she is to take onto the plane. Needless to say I was miffed. I looked at the lady and said "that is for her" in one of my most disgusted tones. The lady looked and me and said "oh". She didn't even apologize to the mom! The mom thanked me and boarded the plane. I thought that this was going to be the last of the weirdness and non-courtesy of the trip. Mr. Murphy had other ideas.

The flight was not full, but I noticed right away that the seats were different colors in different sections. One section was a blue-gray color, this was towards the front of the plane. The back section had seats that were colored a brighter blue. The flight attendant gets on once the door is closed and explains that the gray colored seats are "premium" seats and that they cost more and that we were allowed to move seats as long as we didn't move from the blue seats to the gray seats because these seats "cost" more. I sat there and shook my head. Now this crew was not the greatest in the world. We take off and after a time the pilot rings the bell two times. This usually means that it is OK to turn on the approved electronics (can you tell I've flown often?). Anyways, I start to pull out my iPod when I realize that the crew has not made an announcement about the use of approved electronics. In fact they never did make that announcement. I waited until the drink cart started going up the aisle before turning on my iPod. The flight continued without incident and we land in Phoenix. The wheels hit the ground, we slow down and start taxiing to the gate. However the Crew did not welcome us to Phoenix, nor inform us that it was safe to use cell phones. Now I know that we landed after 10PM but still it was weird that the Crew did not make the standard announcements. Here I thought was the end of this strange trip, however there was one more thing waiting for me.

I get to the airport parking bus and take it to my stop. I'm walking from the stop to my car when I notice a pair of boots by a pick-up truck sitting there as if the person who had been wearing them had been lifted from them. Well this is an airport and strange things are supposed to be reported. So I went into a line that had an attendant for paying my parking. I explained what I saw to the attendant and where to find the boots. She thanked me and seemed a little surprised that someone actually reported something strange.

I got home and explained everything to my wife. What a weird strange trip that I think I will laugh about for days to come.

How Blessed We Are

As many of you know our oldest son is high-functioning Autistic. With this comes various therapies including physical therapy. A couple of weeks ago he started a new physical therapy that involves riding and taking care of horses. Last Saturday I had the privilege of taking him to his therapy. This is where I realized how blessed we really are. You see having a high-functioning Autistic child is hard, but it seems to me to be a little easier than those who are not as high-functioning.

As he and I were waiting for his turn there was another young lady (I want to say 16 or so) was waiting. She seemed to be high-functioning Autistic and pretty well "mainstreamed". I could see Levi being similar to her when he gets to her age. At this point Levi went back to his therapy while I waited in the waiting room.

The next child to come in was a 12 year old boy with his mom and two brothers. He was less functioning than Levi. He did not say a word and was definitely more "difficult" to handle than Levi. I looked at him and looked at his mother with admiration. Here was a family who had struggled with this young man but that did not change the amount of love shown to the boy or the amount of love he has for them. I said a quiet prayer of thanks for the struggles I have with Levi.

The last child I saw was a girl about the same age as Levi. I do not know what her affliction is. She was in a wheelchair, did not speak, and was wearing a bib. However, she had the biggest smile on her face. She was brought in by her mother and the love between the two was palpable. I was privileged to sit by the Mother as she moved her daughter in front of her and began to play with her. The play consisted of moving her arms back and forth and humming. The girl's smile and the sparkle in her eyes are something I will never forget. I wondered what kind of struggles she and her family have had because of her condition. I also pictured their home and the love that exists there that makes this girl so happy. Again I said a prayer of thanksgiving for my struggles.

This experience and this time of year made me remember the blessings I have. How blessed my family is and the great opportunities we have to struggle and grow. Levi's condition does make things hard, but the examples I saw in an hour on a Saturday morning have made me determined to make those struggles a positive and to increase the love in our home.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Updated Blinston Method (FBS Week 14)

Here are the rankings using the Blinston Method for Week 14 of the FBS season:

RankingTeam NameRanking Percentage / Points
1Texas2.988 / 50
2Utah2.515 / 55
3Boise State2.42 / 55
4Oklahoma2.338 / 40
5Florida2.247 / 40
6Alabama2.165 / 58
7USC2.148 / 45
8Texas Tech2.094 / 38
9Penn State2.045 / 45
10Ball State2.035 / 55
11Texas Christian University1.756 / 35
12Ohio State1.634 / 30
13Brigham Young1.451 / 35
14Rice1.363 / 30
15Cincinnati1.200 / 23
16Tulsa1.142 / 35
17Oklahoma State1.096 / 20
18Oregon1.027 / 23
19Western Michigan0.9911 / 23
20Michigan State0.9764 / 20
21West Virginia0.9196 / 19
22California0.8154 / 15
23Georgia Tech0.8055 / 15
24Oregon State0.7938 / 15
25Missouri0.7596 / 15

As of today Texas would play Utah in the National Championship game. Some other notes from the data:

Strongest Conference: Big 12 with 5 teams in the top 25
Weakest Conference: The ACC & WAC with 1 team in the top 25

If there were an 8 team playoff we would see:

1. Texas vs 8. Texas Tech
2. Utah vs 7. USC
3. Boise State vs 6. Alabama
4. Oklahoma vs 5. Florida

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A day of Thanksgiving

The meal is over and so now I'm going to make my Thanksgiving day complete by thanking the people who have been most influential in my life.

The first person on my list is my wife. I don't quite know how to express the feeling I have for her, love doesn't quite do it. Admiration is a part of it. Awestruck is another of the emotions. She has helped me to grow into the husband and father I am today. She has supported me in every situation and has been there when I needed her. I come home from business trips and she is there; my comfort and my strength. To quote a Josh Groban song:

I am not a hero. I am not an angel. I am just a man. A man who's trying to love her, unlike any other. In here arms I am.
Josh Groban - In Her Eyes

The second person on my list is my mother. When I was very little she had the courage to seek after the truth and when she found it she hung on strong regardless of what others said. That strength has lasted throughout the years and has always been an example to me. When I think of where I would be today without that strength I shudder. I can only hope to be a similar strength to my children.

The third person on my list is my father. I don't ever remember him sitting me down to teach me about life. He did it through his example. He is a hard worker, who loves his wife and family fiercely. I learned how to be a man through that example. I learned what it meant to love a woman with all your soul. I learned how to treat others with respect but not to be pushed over. It's funny how you don't see that you're learning these things until you have a chance to look back.

The fourth person on my list is my maternal grandfather. Here is an example of a successful man who stuck to his principles. I had the chance in my teen years to be a golfing buddy to him. There were a lot of things that he taught me on the golf course about life while he was helping me with golf. He has a favorite saying on the course. It's an ancient Chinese proverb that I will share with my children:

He who play peeky peeky, play lousy golf!

There are other people I could list. For instance all those who told me I couldn't do something and it was I that proved them wrong. The girlfriend I had that showed me what a life with another could be like. The leaders in school and church who spent hours helping me and trying to teach a stubborn kid like me.

I love the people above on my list. On this Thanksgiving day I give them the thanks of a man who would not be nearly what he is had it not been for their influences in my life. I challenge everyone who reads this entry to do the same and make a list of the personal influences in your life and give them thanks.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Updated Blinston Method

Here is the updated Blinston Method standings after Week 13 results from College Football:

Blinston Method Standings
Ranking Team Name Ranking Percent / Points
1 Texas 2.749 / 45
2 Utah 2.515 / 55
3 Boise State 2.12 / 50
4 Penn State 2.045 / 45
5 Alabama 2.000 / 53
6 Oklahoma 1.971 / 35
7 Florida 1.943 / 35
8 Texas Tech 1.888 / 33
9 USC 1.86 / 40
10 Texas Christian University 1.756 / 35
11 Ball State 1.635 / 50
12 Ohio State 1.634 / 30
13 Oklahoma State 1.542 / 30
14 Brigham Young 1.451 / 35
15 Oregon State 1.277 / 25
16 Missouri 1.268 / 25
17 Georgia 1.228 / 20
18 Rice 1.111 / 25
19 Western Michigan 1.047 / 28
20 Cincinnati 1.013 / 18
21 Michigan State 0.9764 / 20
22 Tulsa 0.945 / 30
23 California 0.8154 / 15
24 Oregon 0.7625 / 18
25 Iowa 0.7395 / 15

The bottom five:

116 Western Kentucky -3.466 / -65
117 Indiana -3.6 / -60
118 Tulane -3.615 / -70
119 Washington State -3.842 / -72
120 Washington -5.200 / -88

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Dilemma

So I have a dilemma. You see I got some money for my birthday and now I'm trying to figure out what to spend it on. I'm a sports fan and a geek so I have lots of choices.

Sports Fan

As a sports fan I've really wanted to get a jersey of one of my favorite teams. I'm a soccer fan first and foremost, but I have five jerseys of teams from when I went to Europe in 2000 so I don't need another one. Next I'm a hockey fan. I grew up outside of Buffalo NY and therefore the Sabres are my favorite team. So naturally I would want:

Third, I'm a baseball fan. Since moving to Arizona the Diamondbacks have become my favorite baseball team. In that spirit I want:


I'm a geek. There is just no other way to say it. This means that part of me wants to get some Wii games with the money. Now I am a geek, but I'm also a Sports Fan and love to play golf so maybe I should get:

With the leftover money I could also get:

That would satisfy my sports and geekness to some degree. However, there is one more thing that I'm debating about getting. See I hate having to move things from one computer to the next so maybe I should get a portable hard drive:

I have a limited amount of money to spend so you can see why I have a dilemma. I don't know which thing I really want the most and I can't get them all. Maybe I'll leave the decision to tomorrow. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I really need to figure out what to buy with the Barnes and Noble gift card I got from the parents of my soccer team.

Monday, November 17, 2008

College Football Rankings - The Blinston Method

Once again it is time to publish the Blinston Method. As I did last year this is my take on who are the best teams in College Football. This year the Blinston Method has changed a little bit. Teams earn and lose points for winning and losing based on the following:

Home Wins = 5 pts
Home OT Wins = 3 pts
Road Wins = 10 pts
Road OT Wins = 8 pts
Home Loss = -10 pts
Home OT Loss = -8 pts
Road Loss = -5 pts
Road OT Loss = -3 pts

Once the points are added up they are multiplied by the average winning percentage of the teams played thus far. Note this means for instance that Utah's ranking does NOT take into account the winning percentage of BYU. So again the formula is:

Ranking = Total Points X Avg Winning Pct of Teams Played

So here are the top 25 teams in the Blinston Method:

RankingTeam NameRanking PercentagePoints
3Texas Tech2.02438
7Boise State1.84045
8Penn State1.6840
10Oklahoma State1.54230
11Texas Christian University1.44630
12Ohio State1.4325
13Brigham Young1.42440
16Ball State1.22045
17Michigan State1.11825
18Western Michigan1.03028
19Oregon State1.01420
20Central Michigan0.932923

This means if the season ended today that Texas would play Utah for the national championship.

The bottom five teams are:

RankingTeam NameRanking PercentagePoints
116Western Kentucky-3.466-65
119Washington State-4.403-75

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

To my children (Part II)

Dear Levi, Ellie, Sam, Grace and Lia,

A week or so ago I wrote you a letter explaining why I was voting for president. Today is November 5th 2008 and America has chosen Barack Obama as president. This was not an unexpected event, but it is definitely an historic one. For the first time in our nation's history an African-American will be president. I listened to his speech last night when it was clear that he had won the election. There was a part in it where he referenced Abraham Lincoln and the values that the Republican party are founded on (self-reliance, individual liberty and nationaly unity). This part of his speech gave me some hope that he can work with all in Washington to help our country.

As part of our faith we have thirteen statements that help to define what we believe. The 12th of these Articles of Faith states:

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
I want you to know that this is what I intend to do. I intend to support this president. However, that doesn't mean that I won't voice any objections I may have to policies he may introduce. The system we have is setup so that our voices can be heard. Barack Obama stated last night that he would listen to the voices of the people. This means that we need to stay engaged in our country's progression and voice our opinion.

On another note, the proposition in Arizona to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman passed. As you know I voted for this proposition as I believe it will stop other rights of religion from being taken away.

In four years our country should have changed, I hope and pray that it will change for the betterment of all Americans everywhere. Know that I am praying for our leaders that they will make wise policies and enact just laws. Know that I am also praying that this country will remain strong and safe that you may enjoy its numerous blessings.

All my love,

Your Father

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bailout Bucket

So I was thinking about what to be for Halloween when it hit me that the scariest costume I could come up with is the Economy! I also had to get out the Bailout Bucket so that I could give everyone a scare and hit them up for their share. Now with the state of the economy I had to dress in black as if in mourning, it was only fitting. Just like the bailout my bucket was hastily put together which may explain my results. When I started I looked like this:

Happy as a clam I went out to collect the $10,000 share from each house I visited with the kids. Unfortunately for me all I got were a bunch of Snickers in my bucket. I figured that the people didn't read the fine print on the bucket:

Payable this one time only, sorry no bill over $20 accepted. If you do not pay this one time you will be haunted by the ghosts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

I mean it clearly states that if they don't pay they will be haunted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I can't believe that not one person took this seriously and paid their share. I guess the costume wasn't scary enough.

At the end of the night I ended up like this:

I apologize to the government for not being successful in getting money for the bailout. I guess it will just have to be done the old fashioned way, through taxes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Birthday Blues

This is the worst time of year for me. In 11 days my birthday arrives and with it comes my usual birthday depression. I don't know what it is about my birthday that brings this on, but I seriously get depressed. Maybe I'm expecting a birthday with surprises and fun and always over expect what should happen. So this year I'm going to try and change it. There are many bloggers out there that do a Thursday Thirteen and in the spirit of that theme I'm going to give you 13 great things about my life:

  1. I have the greatest wife ever, never have I felt so loved
  2. There are five wonderful children in my family
  3. I have successfully achieved two college degrees (a first in my family) and have applied those degrees in my career
  4. I have been asked if I would coach Soccer again next season
  5. I have a stable job that I like and supports my family so my wife can be a stay at home mom
  6. I have learned to do things I never thought I would, like change an alternator, build cabinets and an adirondack chair
  7. I have taken golf lessons that have tremendously improved my game
  8. I'm still a Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres fan (yes you can groan if you want)
  9. I had a great childhood growing up on 8 1/2 acres in Western New York
  10. I can fluently speak Spanish due to my mission to Chile from 1989 to 1991
  11. I have read and understand some of the underlying themes in the Dune series by Frank Herbert
  12. I live in the greatest nation in the world no matter who wins the election
  13. I could still go from dawn to dusk watching sports and never get tired of it

So there you have it, thirteen reasons why my life is not so bad. I think that I will be reviewing this list often over the next 11 days to keep my spirits up.

Monday, October 27, 2008

loves creating sequence diagrams

To My Children

Dear Levi, Ellie, Sam, Grace, and Lia,

It is October 27th, 2008 and I'm writing you this letter in an intensely political environment. This year we have the opportunity to elect a president for our country as well as representatives for ourselves. We also have a chance to vote on issues that are vital to our country. I'm writing you this letter to explain why I am voting the way I am.

This is an historic year. We have our first African American candidate for president. Yes Grace that means someone with your color is trying to become president, it is an amazing achievement and speaks volumes to how far we've come as a country. That candidate's name is Barack Obama and he is representing what is currently called the Democratic Party. His opponent is a war veteran just like your great-grandfather and your grandfather Boyd. His name is John McCain and he is what is currently called the Republican Party's candidate.

I am voting for John McCain. I am voting for him because he comes closest to the ideas that I think will lead this country forward and keep her as one of the world's greatest countries. I want to make clear why I am not voting for Barack Obama:

1. I am not a racist, this has nothing to do with the color of Mr. Obama's skin

2. I am not a bandwagoner. I will not jump on board a train just because it seems unstoppable

3. I have differences in opinion with the policies of Mr. Obama, among them are:

    a. I do not believe that the government should decide to whom my money goes. Mr Obama would tax the hard working people of this country at a higher rate and give that money as a "tax credit" to those who do not make as much. Do not misunderstand me, I believe that there should be a tax on everyone to help pay for things that are needed from a federal infrastructure standpoint. This includes roads, interstate commerce and treaties with other countries. I also believe that I should decide where my money goes to help others.

    b. I do not believe that if you tax businesses more they will create jobs and lower costs. I believe that if you treat businesses fairly and hold them accountable, they will do the things that will make profits rise. This means there have to be incentives for them to create jobs and employ skilled people to meet their goals. We have to realize that there are jobs that others in the world do better and at less cost and have to understand that if we want those jobs here then we have to be competitive for them.

    c. I do not believe that mandating health care coverage for everyone is a good idea. I do believe that health care coverage is needed. Government has consistently shown that it is awful in managing programs. All you have to do is look to Fannie May, Freddie Mac, Social Security and the out of control spending our government has been in charge of to see that. What I believe needs to happen is that frivolous lawsuits and the people who bring them to bear need to be held accountable so that the price of health care can be reduced. We see that there are physicians who will not perform tasks they are trained for because the risk of being sued is too great.

4. Barack Obama has consistently stated that he is running against the failed economic policies of the current presidential administration. However, I cannot find one policy that he is running against. Without that list I cannot see if Barack Obama voted for or against them before they were put into law.

Now for the biggest issue I see outside of the economy and the presidential choice, the issue of the definition of marriage. In Arizona we have Proposition 102 on the ballot this year. The proposition calls for an ammendment to the Arizona Constitution stating that the definition of marriage is the union between one man and one woman. For me this is the correct definition and given the current wins of those trying to destroy this definition I have to support Proposition 102. A major reason is the way society would see families and the fact that there are other rights that could be taken away from us if this definition isn't clear and concise. The big one is Freedom of Religion. If the definition of marriage were to change from the union of one man and one woman then it is very feasible that any religion that sees homosexuality as sin will be forced to accept homosexuality as doctrine. I cannot allow for man to dictate what God has deemed to be the right way. I know I will be seen as someone who hates homosexuals because of this stance. This is also incorrect. One of the people that I work closely with, have the greatest respect for and consider a good friend is homosexual. He knows my religious beliefs and we have had good discussions about it.

One other comment, I believe that everyone has the right to vote the way they believe is correct for them. I will not disparage someone because they believe differently than me. I will discuss my beliefs with them and why I believe it would be better to have my ideas and will listen to them do the same. I think this kind of interaction is healthy and will lead me to learn much.

I'm hoping children that I've explained the reasons why I am voting the way I am on November 4th, 2008. Know that I'm voting this way because I believe that what I am doing is right by you, by our family and by our country. I love you all.

Love Always,

Your Father

Monday, October 20, 2008

Learning About Fair

Lately there has been a lot of talk about the word Fair. As a father I want to make sure that my family understands this word and can use it appropriately. Luckily for us Friday night provided us with an opportunity to learn about the Fair. It started when I got a phone call from my wife asking if I wanted to go to the Fair, she said we could get free tickets! Well who am I to turn down free tickets to the Fair? So of course I told her yes.

I got home from work a little earlier than planned and so we packed the car, got our free tickets and headed to the Fair. I was thinking to myself that this was going to be a great family activity and that we would learn a lot. So it took us about 45 minutes to drive to the Fair. The first thing we noticed is that you have to pay to park at the Fair, this means that the word Fair does not imply the word free. $15 later our car was parked and we walked to the entrance. By now the excitement was building as this was the first time the whole family would experience the Fair.

We got inside and the first thing we needed to do was find Guest Services. The reason for this was because the kids were able to fill out a sheet of paper on books they had read and get up to three free rides. Again something for free is good and so after turning in the papers we set out to get on the free rides. Here again we found out that the word Fair does not imply equal as there are height limits to rides. This means that the two middle children would not be able to ride the same rides as the oldest. I was quickly learning that the Fair wasn't going to teach us a lot about the word Fair at all.

We rode a couple of rides including the oldest's first trip on a roller coaster. Dad of course (that's me) rode with him. It was a kiddie coaster and he wanted to ride in the front. There's only one problem with kiddie coasters and adults, yep pain! The cars are smaller, the cushions aren't that cushiony and of course the turns and bumps were meant for people weighing under 100 pounds. It just goes to show that rides aren't Fair at all and I've got some bruises to prove it.

Since it was about dinner time we needed to find some food. Of course this was going to be the perfect time to learn about Fair because how can food not be fair? Well after spending around $30 for a gyro, indian fry bread, two corndogs, a sausage dog and a snowcone you can imagine how fair this was. I don't think there was a food item under $4 and that was for a styrofoam cup of water. This was not turning out how I had hoped and I began to fear that my family would learn more about the word "Fare" than "Fair"

After dinner we went to see some of the other things at the Fair. There was a petting zoo which was free (again this is good), a kids "jungle" area that was more of a display than anything else and of course the obligatory 4-H showcase. All free so that was good. By now the 2 and one year old were getting sleepy so we had to use up the last of our tickets on a ride. This was an adventure as the 7, 5 and 4 year olds couldn't decide on a ride to share. Finally they decided to ride a ride they had ridden already and with that we headed for the exit.

Looking back, our family had a really fun time at the Fair, even if we didn't understand it's true definition. I think I might propose legislation to officially change the name from "Fair" to "Fare" just so that people aren't misled into thinking that things there are going to be equal. So the next time someone wants you to be "fair" make sure you get the spelling and definition just so you don't end up being "fare".

Monday, October 13, 2008

Running its course

My youngest daughter contracted a virus this week. On Saturday night she was taken to a clinic where the Dr. told us it had to "run its course" and to keep her hydrated. The virus comes with a fever as well. There is some pain which we believe it due to teething. Of course we are doing everything we can to keep her comfortable while this virus runs its course.

The American (some would say the world) economy has a virus as well. This virus won't be done until it has run its course. There are no medicines that can cure it. However there are things that can be done to keep the economy hydrated and to help with the fever and pain associated with it. The government is trying to do that with things like bailouts and injecting money into the system. The people can also help. The first thing we need to do is NOT panic! I don't know about everyone else, but when I'm sick and I panic I tend to make things worse. The same thing happens to the economy if we panic as well. So what can we do to help the virus run its course?

  1. Live within our means - this is the best thing we can do as it will insure we don't put ourselves into a situation where if the virus worsens there is a major impact to our lives.
  2. Put money away for a rainy day - We've all heard it before but it bears repeating. Save money now so that if something happens you can take care of it.
  3. Breathe - We all need to take a deep breath and realize that this is part of an economic cycle.
  4. Stop pointing fingers - Right now pointing fingers will just raise blood pressure and that can't be good for a sick economy.

The fact of the matter is the economy has contracted a virus and while we can do some things to ease the pain it has to run its course. It's going to hurt, but usually things that are worth it do in the beginning. I believe that the economy will be stronger for having gone through this just as my daughter will be stronger once her virus has "run its course".

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Personal Introspection

Every 6 months the leaders of our church gather together for what we call General Conference. It is a time to hear from the leaders directly and to understand what the issues for the church are today. There are many sessions with several discourses given. There is a session where the priesthood members of the church get together. In this meeting the President of the church (also known as the church's Prophet) gave a discourse where he stated that we should:

Learn what we should learn.
Do what we should do.
Be what we should be.

President Thomas S. Monson
October 2008 General Conference Priesthood Session

Over the past several days this message has stuck with me. It is not just a message about learning, doing and being with regards to spritual matters. It is a message that can be applied to all aspects of our life. For me it opened my eyes to some things and what I need to be doing. I tried to determine what I should be learning, doing and being when I realized I had to define who I am first. I am several things among them:

  • Husband
  • Father
  • Son
  • Grandson
  • Friend
  • Neighbor
  • Employee
  • Co-worker

The list goes on and on as it does for all of us. So now I have defined who I am, so what to do about the three statements above? Well the most logical thing is a list for each. One way to do this list is to break it down by each adjective above and list out what I should learn, do and be as each one. I am in that process now. The order you see above is my prioritized order of who I am. A couple of examples as a husband I should:

  • Learn to be better at the relationship with my wife. Learn about how to listen to her better and work with her.
  • Do more with her and work along side her in this life more than I have, that means sometimes doing things she wants to do even if I don't.
  • Be an example to others of what a husband should be.

I'm sure there are many things I will learn as this process continues and I know that it will make me a better man for doing it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Mending the gash

My son Levi had an accident this week. He was trying to get back a large stuffed bear from one of his friends when he fell backwards and hit his head on a rolling cart. The hit left about an inch long gash in the back of his head that required 10 staples to close up. He is doing fine and in a couple of days the staples will come out. He will have a scar, but because of where the gash is it won't show because of his hair.

The current bailout (or rescue plan) feels the same to me. It feels like we have been trying to get back our stuffed bear and took a fall that left a gash in our head. The staples to "fix" this gash is what our leaders are calling a bailout/rescue. Instead of an insignificant number of staples there are $700 Billon worth of staples to try and get the economy flowing. If it passes the bailout will leave a scar on the economy. The scar comes in the form of government ownership and functioning of the companies who take advantage of the bailout.

I'm not saying that this isn't needed. There is a gash that needs fixing. What I'm worried about is how ugly the scar will be. There have been several opinions on what will mend the gash. I don't think the bailout plan is the best. I believe there are other things that can be done to mend the wound and reduce the ugliness of the scar. One such plan is being touted by Dave Ramsey. The plan is here. The plan involves changes to Government Backed Insurance, Mark to Market Account Rules and the Capital Gains Tax.

Dave's plan does require some government spending, but $50 Billion is a lot easier to swallow than $700 Billion. It also does not require that there is Pork spending in order to have a majority in the Senate and House pass legislation. What we need now from our leaders is common sense and not knee-jerk reactions that will only help in the short-term. I'm hoping that there are enough leaders in Washington who will look to a common sense solution that will benefit us in the long term as well as help alleviate the current credit crisis.

Unlike my son whose staples will be removed after about a week, the economy has no such time frame for taking out the staples. It is unfortunate that we got into this situation. It is unfortunate that our leaders act like third graders and point the finger at each other. It is unfortunate that the thinking is that we need to go further in debt to relieve debt. This last statement is part of the American problem where we feel that it is OK to use debt to relieve debt. Things have to change and we as a people should let our leaders know that common sense is needed instead of knee-jerk reactions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Taking the time to look up

I'm coaching soccer for Sam's age group this year. It is a fun time where the kids can be set free to be as creative as possible while limited coaching occurs (basically tell them to go in the right direction and get the ball). Sam is an interesting player. To date in 3 games he has two goals, but this last game he did things that most 12 year old players don't do.

The concept is called looking up. In the game Sam would get the ball and stop to look around and see where the other kids were and which way he needed to go. He is the only player on the team to do this. His goal this week came after he dribbled the ball down the field and stopped to look where the goalie was and shoot the ball where the goalie wasn't. Of course having played soccer for so many years I am well familiar with looking up and finding the right course. It's a concept all of us should take note of.

What if we took a moment in our day to look up? What if when we looked up we were able to see what direction we should go. I know in my personal life I do NOT look up enough. I don't take the time to ensure that the course I'm on is correct. This is a critical time for all of us and I believe that we need to look up more and take notice of what is happening around us. It is also critical for us to chart a course that will lead us to safety and happiness.

I'm glad that Sam looked up in his soccer game this last week as it has inspired me to do so in my life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Fall Season

It's fall (everywhere but Phoenix anyways) and for me that means one thing. . . Soccer! For most people in the USA it's time for American Football, but for me it's the World's football game that excites me. Ever since I was seven the smells of fall meant that it was time to get the cleats and shin guards out and try to outdo opponents on the pitch. I played throughout my youth and got my High School Letter (one of three by the way) in Soccer. In fact my fondest High School memory came my Junior year when I scored against the team we hated most.

At this stage in my life Soccer consists of following MLS, the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League. Also I get to coach my children in Soccer. This year it is my 4 year olds first year. I have 9 four and five year old boys and no girls which means we can be dominant (even though it is a recreational and not a competitive league). It's great to take the time to get these boys excited about a game I love. So far I've been able to teach them to chase the ball, turn the ball towards the right goal, score (we have 12 goals in two games) and throw-ins.

My favorite part of these practices is when I play "keep away". Basically I challenge the kids to get the ball away from me while I dribble around them. It's fun to see them smile and try to gang up on me. Of course I don't keep the ball all the time. I do let them get involved to ensure that everyone gets a chance to be it.

The game itself is rather simple in it's concept - move the ball downfield with your feet and kick it in the goal. However, there is a lot to be learned from it. The concepts of sharing are inherent in the game. If you don't learn to pass the ball you will never succeed. Another aspect is keeping your head up. This allows you to see what is happening and make good choices when you have the ball. This teaches players to slow down in life, evaluate the situation and make informed decisions (something our leaders could learn to do).

Now of course all sports have some applicability in life, but for me Soccer is the perfect game (sorry Jeff). It teaches you to share, to lead, to take care of one another. There are many lessons that can be learned (especially when and when not to tackle the ball). Soccer has provided me with many joys as well as many sorrows and I have to admit that I am a better person for it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

For Whom the Foul Pole Tolls

The last run of yesterday's DBacks - Reds game came on a home run that hit the right field foul pole. The resulting sound was heard not only by the crowd at Chase Field but also by those watching on TV. It was a sound that probably signifies the end of the DBacks chances to make the playoffs.

This one run was not the ultimate cause of this feeling. For weeks now it seems that the DBacks have been snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Yesterday was a microcosm of the season. Here's why:

  1. The starting pitching for the DBacks was on giving up only one run and striking out 9
  2. The hitting could not get the big hit when it was needed. 17 runners left on base with the only run coming on a Justin Upton home run
  3. The bullpen giving up big runs when it could ill afford to do so

As a Diamondbacks fan I have had the hope that they would somehow get out of the funk that started in May and be able to return to the form they had in April. After this series with the Reds it appears that the DBacks of April will not be coming back and that we will have to ride out the season and begin hope again next year. The DBacks are currently 4 1/2 games behind the Dodgers and the way the Dodgers are playing I don't see anything short of a miracle helping the DBacks to win the NL West.

For whom does the foul pole toll? It tolls for thee Arizona Diamondbacks, it tolls for thee.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Of Tadpoles and Children

So about a week ago it rained enough to have a small pool of water in the play area near our house. The kids found that there were tadpoles in this pool and of course had to catch some. This began a process of feeding and caring for said tadpoles until they become toads. Yesterday was the first time that the little toads made an actual appearance and that got me to thinking about how the process of moving from tadpoles to toads reflects the way that children grow into adults.

The toad begins as a tadpole. Really it looks like a miniature lollipop, basically a circle and a stick. From there it grows and features become more distinctive. The eyes and mouth become more pronounced and then legs begin to sprout. After the legs come the arms and the head matures until finally a little toad has developed. All that was needed was a good environment so that the toad had enough nutrition and support to emerge.

Children are the same way. They begin as tiny, fragile babies with really no hint as to the mature shape they will take. They begin to grow and soon learn to sit up, crawl, walk and talk. If children are given a good environment they will also thrive and feed not only on good food but also on the teaching that occurs in the home. Herein lies a big difference between growing toads and raising children. There is no teaching that can be given to the toads that I'm aware of. Children on the other hand learn a great deal from their parents which will mold them into the persons they become.

Eventually our toads will be big enough that we will have to set them free on the world. There is no training we can give them other than to let them go their merry way. Children also grow big enough and have to be set free at some point in time. I'm not even close to that day coming and believe me there are lots of things left to teach them so they will be ready. I know it will be a difficult day when setting the children free, I just hope to have them prepared well enough in order to live prosperously in this world.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Story Retold

If all the tales are told, retell them, Brother.
If few attend, let those who listen feel.

- Catherine Drinker Bowen

I have started to read Miracle at Philadelphia the story of the constitutional convention that formed the constitution of the USA.The quote above is from the Author's Preface. It got me thinking about how when I hear the story of the constitution and how I feel about it. Personally I think the constitution was divinely inspired.

The Preamble to the Constitution states:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Now if you're like me you first heard this from Schoolhouse Rock. The tune is catchy and I'm singing along with it as I write this. These first words of what some consider the greatest document ever written start a feeling of pride, joy, . . . it's not quite explainable in me. The story retold makes me feel and herein lies the power of the document.

I'm looking forward to reading this book. I am only a few pages into it, but can tell that it will be both fascinating and enlightening. Part of the fascination is to understand how this country went from the Articles of Confederation and 13 "sovereign" states acting independently to a national government meant to meet the goals of the Preamble. One of the states (Rhode Island) didn't even send a delegation to the convention. The states were of the opinion that a federal government would gain too much control. The convention had to be couched as an update to the Articles of Confederation just to get permission to convene. It's fascinating to see how some of the greatest minds our country had at the time had such differing opinions on things.

Now the question comes up as to why I am reading this book. Well truthfully this year is a pivotal year in our country's history. This is an historic election. I want to understand how the constitution came to be and the thought processes and arguments behind it. Then I want to compare that to the campaigns of the candidates and see which one (if any) holds to the ideals that this country was founded on. I'm taking the election seriously this year and hope that when the tale of the election of 2008 is retold, those that attend and listen will feel.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Very Superstitious

So yesterday I woke up and knew that the Arizona Diamondbacks were starting a 6 game home stand. I also knew that the DBacks were 8-11 in their last 19 home games and 13-7 in their last 20 road games. I knew that I had to do something to help the team start this home stand on the right foot. But what could I do?

I couldn't go to the game because of other commitments (yes Jeff there is life outside of Baseball sometimes). That meant watching the game on the TV at home. I don't have Bob Melvin's email or phone number so there was no way I could get a message to him to include in the pre-game team meeting. Trying to get a message across on local talk radio when something so important as pre-season football (another topic for another day) was going on would be impossible as well. So what's a fan to do?

Well as I was getting dressed it hit me. I could wear the official road hat for the Arizona Diamondbacks all day to bring them the much needed luck. I put the hat on and instantly felt like I was doing something positive that would result in a win. Little did I know that all the luck I had would be necessary.

The game started well for the DBacks and pitcher Doug Davis. After not giving up a run in the top of the first the DBacks scored 4 in the bottom of the inning. Davis and crew gave up two in the top of the second. The score remained that way until the bottom of the 4th when Adam Dunn hit his first homerun as a DBack to increase the lead to 6-2.

The score stayed that way until the 8th when John Rauch gave up a run to make the score 6-3. In the bottom of the 8th the Diamondbacks got that run back when Connor Jackson singled in Augie Ojeda after a tremendous defensive play by the Padres shortstop that got Chris Burke out at third.

So with a 7-3 lead going into the 9th and closer Brandon Lyon coming in the deal was sealed right? Well maybe not, the Padres loaded the bases with one out and got a two-run single, followed by another single that made the score 7-6. With runners on 1st and 3rd Bob Melvin pulled Lyon for Tony Pena.

Pena got Hundley to hit a grounder just to the left of the mound. Pena fielded the ball and made a great play to get the runner from 3rd into a run-down. Pena threw to Chris Snyder who chased the runner back towards third and threw to Reynolds who tagged the runner out. Reynolds then did the smart thing by holding on to the baseball instead of trying to make another play on the other runners.

Pena then got Luis Rodriguez to fly out to center for the last out of the game. It was Pena's second save of the year and also validated my good luck charm.

I'm not wearing the hat today as it needs to recharge. I guess I will have to find another good luck charm for tonight's game. Hopefully the luck won't be needed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bug Spraying and Life

This morning I got up early to spray the house for bugs. As I was spraying I began to think about the other barriers our family has created to prevent certain things from entering our home.

The idea of bug spraying is to create a defensive barrier around your house so that when bugs come in contact with the barrier they die before they can get in. In a way there are several barriers that we need to put up around our homes to prevent our children and even ourselves from being annoyed and bitten.

So what are the barriers that need to be set up in the home? Well I think for each of us the list differs. For me one of the largest pests has to be pornography. The definition of pornography is different for so many, but for this post I'm using the definition from

Books, photographs, magazines, art, or music designed to excite sexual impulses and considered by public authorities or public opinion as in violation of accepted standards of sexual morality. American courts have not yet settled on a satisfactory definition of what constitutes pornographic material.

So what do we do to prevent this from coming into the home? Well our current list involves the following:

  1. Monitoring what the children watch on TV
  2. Monitoring what the children do on the computer especially the internet
  3. Ensure that the books and movies we entertain ourselves with are not necessarily accessible to the children (as a side note we do not watch R or above rated films)
  4. Discuss things with our children they learn outside our home

This is how we have created a preventive barrier to pornography in our home. We have also done similar things for other areas such as:

  • Violence on TV
  • Violence in Video Games
  • Being Disrespectful

I'm sure the list will change as the children get older. Just like you have to spray for bugs on a regular basis, working on other barriers is a never ending process for parents.

However a protective barrier is not enough. Parents also need to teach their children about the good and evil that is out in the world. Parents also need to teach their children about making the right choice even if it is not the popular one.

A good defensive barrier along with good teaching will protect children and help them to be productive members of society.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This I Believe

I have been on Plurk for about a month now and have seen several threads regarding religion and God. I didn't feel I could give justice to the responses for the threads at 140 characters at a time so I'm writing this post to express my beliefs.

First, I believe that the relationship one has with God is personal. However, that doesn't mean that He hasn't set up a way for us to return to him. I believe that there is only one way back to him. I don't believe that there are many roads to get there. Why would a loving Father in Heaven confuse his children about the way to return home?

I want to try and show this by an example. I have five children. Now lets say that I take each of them out to a remote geographic point a certain distance from my house. When I drop them off I give them instructions that they are to return home. However I don't provide the path that will lead them there, I leave that to them. From a father's standpoint I want them home yet I don't give them the way back? It doesn't make sense.

Example two, I take my children out to another spot that has several paths on it. Eventually the paths will lead home. I tell them that they have a certain amount of time to return home before the doors are closed. I also tell them that it doesn't matter which path they take to get home because they are all going to get there eventually. Of course they may not make it back within the time frame I have given them and if they are late they won't get in. Does that make sense as a father? Again no.

What would a loving father do in these examples? A good father would tell his children which path leads directly home and also that the path is safe. It is still up to the children to choose that path. If they choose a wrong path the likelihood of returning home diminishes and could eventually lead them somewhere not safe.

I believe that a loving Father in Heaven who wants us to return home would not abandon us to our own devices. I believe that there is only one path that leads back to him. I believe that we have that path here on earth and that we can find it. I also believe in a merciful God that won't allow us to not return to him if we did not get a chance to find the path leading home. I believe that every opportunity will be given to a person to hear his message and choose to walk the path leading to God.

The Bible states that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Jesus organized God's Church when he walked this earth. That Church exists again today. I believe that those who want to find it will. I believe that God still talks to Prophets today (see Amos 3:7) and that he continues to guide his children along the path that leads to Him.

That said, I do not believe that this has to be forced upon everyone. I believe that everyone has a right to worship in their own way. I also believe that we should respect others beliefs and allow them to share them without criticizing them. I may not agree with what you believe, but I will listen to you explain it and hope that you would do the same for me.

I know God lives. I know He is a caring Father in Heaven. Religion is not just an "opiate for the masses" but rather God's true religion teaches us how to return to him and live with him forever.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Dreams

The Olympics are here and there have been several great moments already (see the men's 4X100M swim relay). As I've watched the games there has been a feeling that some of the events are easier than others and that I too could be an Olympian. Here is a list of all the events:

  • Archery
  • Badminton
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Boxing
  • Canoe/Kayak
  • Cycling
  • Diving
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Field Hockey
  • Gymnastics
  • Handball
  • Judo
  • Modern Pentathlon
  • Rhythmic Gymnastics
  • Rowing
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Synchronized Swimming
  • Table Tennis
  • Taekwondo
  • Tennis
  • Track & Field
  • Trampoline
  • Triathlon
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling

Ok, so let's throw out the obvious one. I have no rhythm so Rhythmic Gymnastics is out (btw is there a men's event for this?). Besides me in a gymnastics outfit is just soooo wrong. Going down through the list we can easily throw out Archery, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Boxing, Canoe/Kayak, Diving, Equestrian, Fencing, Gymnastics, Judo, Modern Pentathlon, Synchronized Swimming, Taekwondo, Trampoline, Triathlon, Volleyball, Weightlifting and Wrestling.

So what does that leave? A few events I might have had a shot at in my earlier (and more fit years). So here's what I think about the rest:

  • Badminton - Hey I played this growing up in the back yard how hard can it be?

  • Baseball - I also played this one growing up and my best asset was speed. I was good at beating out infield hits and stealing bases. Result? I'd be on the bench as a sub at best.

  • Cycling - Ok I grew up to be better suited for X-Games BMX style than road racing, but I did have endurance (I could bike all day growing up)

  • Field Hockey - I played street hockey when I was younger and watched the girls on the high school team play field hockey, I know I could do that

  • Handball- This is one of those games that takes a while to understand. However, I bet I could do most of that even if I'm only 5'9" tall. I could see myself on the outside recklessly throwing myself towards goal while shooting.

  • Rowing - I've paddled a canoe before and have good timing (even though I lack rhythm). I could be good for a short sprint event or two.

  • Sailing - Steer and move the sail to use the wind, not too tough, I mean there is more than one person in the boat so I could take the easiest of jobs

  • Shooting - Ready Aim Fire, what could be so hard about that? I've shot my share of guns growing up so it shouldn't be that hard.

  • Soccer - OK this one I could do. I averaged a goal a game in high school before breaking my toe my Junior year. This would be the one for me

  • Softball - Why isn't there a men's division here? I've played it as an adult.

  • Swimming - What's so hard about swimming down and back and doing it at top speed? I could do this one with my eyes closed

  • Table Tennis - Ok, I'm pretty good with a paddle, I won a tournament in 6th grade what more do I need for qualifications?

  • Tennis - It's just an extension of Table Tennis, besides how many ball marks did I leave on the house hitting a tennis ball in my driveway? Piece of cake

  • Track & Field - I'm quick, I know I could run some of those events and place well. I jump pretty well too so I could enter those events. Javelin? How hard can it be to throw a spear when you've thrown a baseball?

  • Water Polo - I can swim well, I know how to throw a ball and I know how to score goals. This could be the perfect game for me.


Ok, so none of the list above is as easy as it looks on TV. Some of the list above I have tried and I can tell you there is a reason why the participants train for hours everyday. It's nice to dream, but reality is that I would have had to be a lot better than I was in my prime (not that I'm that far away from my prime) to even sniff a chance at making the Olympic squad. The men and women participating in the Olympics deserve to be there and have worked hard to get there. Any of us that thinks we could do what they are doing without having put in the time is grossly mistaken and needs to have their head examined.

Of course that doesn't mean my children couldn't be Olympians. . .

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tag You're It Part II

Ok, so I didn't quite understand the game Blog Tag. I was supposed to answer the same set of questions that tagged me in the first place. So to make up for it here are my answers:

What was I doing 10 years ago?

  • I was just starting my Executive MBA at BYU. Two nights a week for two years and a two-week trip to Europe. Not too bad eh?

  • Had recently changed jobs from an Internet application provider to a telecommunications provider

What are five things on my to-do list today?

  1. Code Review

  2. Vet out new idea

  3. Create application architecture(s)

  4. Finish this blog entry

  5. Yardwork

Snacks I enjoy:

  1. Swedish Fish

  2. Potato Chips

  3. Snickers

Places I've lived:

  • Wales, NY

  • Utah

  • Chile

  • Arizona

Things I would do if I was a billionaire:

  • Pay off debt

  • Secure retirement

  • Secure children's futures

  • Retire and do church/charity work while living on or near a lake and golf course

  • Buy my mom and dad a retirement home wherever they wanted and make sure dad was retired comfortably

Sorry for the confusion to those who read my last post thinking I was going to provide this information.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tag You're It!

How many of us have played Tag in our lifetime? You know the game, someone is initially declared it and tries to tag someone else so that he/she is now it. There are many variations on this game. There's freeze tag where you are frozen until someone who is not it touches you. There's TV tag where you have to state the name of a TV character when you've been touched. Finally there is Blog Tag.

What's blog tag you say? Well it's where your blog has been tagged and you need to tag other blogs as well. Recently this blog has been tagged by Po(sey) Sessions (oh yeah thanks Butterflylitgirl). So now I'm it and I get to tag other people.

The first person I'm tagging is AZJazzyJ. This is one of the best sports blogs around. I'm not just saying that because he is my friend. Read a few entries and I know you'll be hooked. He's witty, sarcastic, a straight shooter and someone that people inevitably relate to.

Now who else would I tag? Well there's Butterflylitgirl and perpstu, but they've already been tagged and I'm not sure if Blog Tag has the "No Tag Backs" rule in effect. I'd better keep on searching for more so if you want to be tagged post a comment and I will include you in a follow-up to this post.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Every Now and Then

DISCLAIMER: I am very happy, very satisfied. No way would I ever trade in what I have for something else. These are the happiest days of my life. As Garth Brooks sings:
I love my life and I'd never trade between what you and me had and the life I made. She's here and she's real, but you were too, but every once in a while I think about you.

That said, have you ever wondered what if? I was listening to Garth Brooks yesterday when the song "Every Now and Then" played. It's about a man who is reminded of a love that didn't work out. There are things that remind him of this love such as remembering a walk, a song, a car, etc. The point being that even though he wouldn't trade what he currently has he still thinks about her every now and then.

For me this is a real life situation. I was 18 when I met her. It was the fall of 1988 and I was a sophomore in college. We lived in the same apartment complex and got to know each other through church. The next nine months were unbelievable. We became best friends and shared in a lot of things. I went with her to her parents house several times. It was the first time I saw how a family belonging to my church was supposed to be run. I learned a lot. I also fell deeply in love. It was a great time.

During that time I turned 19 and thoughts of serving a church mission entered my mind. It is something while not mandatory was expected and I had several friends who had already gone. I took some time to think about things and decided that it was the right thing to do. My girlfriend also thought it was the right thing to do and supported me all the way. The night before I left on my mission we sat and talked. I told her I didn't know what would happen during the next two years but that I had enough faith and trust that if were were meant to be together we would be. I left it in the hands of God.

While I was on my mission she met someone else. I know now it was hard on her to let me know this. It took her a long time to write the letter (yes it was a "Dear John") telling me that she was going to marry someone else. I think I was more upset with the fact that she felt she had to lie to me instead of being mad at her for finding someone else. I don't recall exactly what I wrote back, and I got one more letter from her and haven't seen or talked to her since.

I have seen some friends since I've returned home that we both know and I inquired about how she's doing. I have never looked her up, even though I know her last name and husband's name. Worse, I've never been able to thank her for everything she did for me. I learned more about love and family in that 9 months than I had in the previous 18 years of life. I became a better man because of her and was more prepared for the family I now have. So this is my Thank You to her for everything she did for me and for everything that I cannot repay.

Still, there are times where I have been in the same spot as the guy in Garth's song:

I've been laying here all night, listening to the rain,
Talking to my heart and trying to explain,
To why sometimes I catch myself wondering what might have been,
Yes I do think about you,
Every Now and Then.

And so I think about her every now and then.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The thrill of victory . . .

Call them the heart attack kids. The Arizona Diamondbacks are giving their fans all they can handle. The last two nights have provided us with nail-biting excitement with the "good guys" coming through when it counts the most.

Rarely in sports are we treated to games in which defensive plays saved the day let alone two games in a row. The last two Arizona Diamondback games have provided this for us.

Wednesday night Doug Davis went 6 2/3 innings of perfect baseball. He started the eighth inning and with 2 outs gave way to John Rauch with the bases loaded. Rauch was recently acquired from the Washington Nationals in the hope that he could alleviate some of the troubles the DBacks were having in the bullpen. He was in to get one out and lets just say he did it the hard way. The catch by Romero saved the game for Doug Davis and allowed the Diamondbacks to win the series agains the Padres. The catch made ESPN's top play in the daily top ten.

Last night Brandon Webb and Derek Lowe put on pitching clinics. Webb had given up 1 run through 7 innings and had one out with runners on second and third when this happened. The throw by Connor Jackson and tag by Chris Snyder saved the game and allowed the Diamondbacks to take game one of the four game series at Dodger Stadium. The play was ESPN's top Web Gem for the night as well.

This is very rare in baseball where plays like this happen in back-to-back games. It was a treat to see. Hopefully tonight a great defensive play won't be required to save the game. Hopefully Randy Johnson will shut down the Dodgers and that it will be an easy night. Given the recent play of the Diamondbacks, even if RJ doesn't make it easy they will be ready. Of course now that the Dodgers have acquired Manny Ramirez we may just see an implosion at Chavez Ravine, but that is a topic for another time.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

How we became a trans-racial family

Some of you know that all of our children are adopted. What you may not know is that some of our children are of a different ethnicity. This post is kind of a history of how our children came to our home.

When we decided to have children we tried a lot of things. Finally we tried in-vitro. I have teased my wife that it is the only time I got to stick it to her as a result of giving progesterone shots. Long story short it worked. My wife became pregnant and we were so excited. Now we were also on the list for adopting a child. We did not take our names off that list as pregnancy is never a for sure thing. A few weeks into the pregnancy we found out that my wife had miscarried. It was devastating. But it also was the start of our adoptions.

About two days after we found out that she had miscarried we got a call from our adoption worker. We had been selected by a birth mother to have a child placed in our home. The first pictures we have of him are in an ultra-sound video with a song that his birth mother sang in the background. Two months later our oldest son was born. We received him the day after and couldn't have been happier. He is a full-white male and is also the child who has autism.

Our second child came to us almost three years later. Our adoption worker phoned to see if we would be willing to foster a baby for a few days before the baby was placed. We said of course. She had my wife come in to fill out paper work and when my wife got there, they got me on the phone. We had no idea the surprise our adoption worker had for us. Yup you guessed it, we had been chosen again! This time the birth mother was half Bolivian and had a bunch of questions for us. I served a church mission in Chile and one of the things that would help the birth mom know that we were the right couple would have been if I served a mission in Bolivia. The funny thing is that I was supposed to go to Bolivia, there was an incident one week before I entered my church mission that required a change. Eventually the birth mother was satisfied and two days after her birth our 1/4 Bolivian daughter came into our home.

Our third child came to us via a friend's father-in-law. He is an OB-GYN and had a couple come in and ask if they could help place their child. We were in the middle of moving from Utah to Arizona and I was already spending my time in AZ. The birth couple originally chose another couple to place the child with. My wife thought that it wasn't right. When our third child was born it was determined that he was addicted to Meth. The first couple chosen took some time to think about taking him and decided it wasn't right for their situation. I was in AZ at the time this happened. My wife received a phone call asking if we were still willing to adopt the boy. Her answer was of course. She phoned me (I was at the airport about to fly home) and told me to check my voice mail when I landed to see if we were going to pick him up. Sure enough there was a message when I landed and I met my wife at the hospital. There we saw "Popeye" (the nickname the nurses gave him due to a palsy that happened at birth). We were in the room when the birth parents signed their rights away (talk about ripping out your heart strings). Our third child is full-white and is hyper beyond belief.

Our fourth child came to us through two agencies. We were working with an agency that deals in African-American adoptions. There was a baby available, but there was a chance of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. We initially didn't feel we were ready for this challenge. So we initially declined. The baby was born premature and had to spend a month in the hospital. Near the month's end we were contacted again and told that the baby still did not have any adoptive parents and if we would reconsider. My wife and I did reconsider and after a lot of though and prayer decided that this girl belonged in our family. So off to pick her up. Since this was an out of state adoption we had to stay out of state until Arizona and Nevada agreed that we could take her cross state boundaries. She is full African-American and does show signs of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Our fourth and 1/2 child (don't worry I'll explain) came to our family through the same agency as our fourth child. He was 14 months when his birth mother decided to put him up for adoption. His 1/2 brother (6 at the time) was also put up for adoption. My wife's sister said that she would be willing to adopt the older child and we would adopt the younger. Unfortunately, there was a paternity issue with our adoption and three months after he was placed in our home we had to turn him over to his birth father. It was heart wrenching and we were devastated.

Our fifth child came to us through the same agency as our fourth. My wife told them after we had lost child number 4 1/2 that they would have a child for us soon and that this child would be of an Asian heritage. They took it in stride and didn't quite believe her as they don't get children of Asian heritage normally. Low and behold about 3 months after the failed adoption we got a call from the agency stating there was a child of Asian, Polynesian, and African-American descent and would we be interested. Of course we were interested (even though I was a little concerned about money). Our third girl came to us the day after she was born. My wife was actually in the delivery room to witness the birth.

So that is how we became a trans-racial family. It has been a wonderful experience that we would not trade for anything. We have so many things to teach our children because of the diverse heritages that they have. We are planning to make sure they know about their family history (as much as possible) and the traditions of the countries their ancestors hail from. Now do we get some funny looks when we are out as a family? Of course we do, but that is part of the fun. It also allows us to educate others on adoption and diversity. I hope that by raising our children with a knowledge of the diverse backgrounds they have that we will raise a family that celebrates their diversity and helps to educate others on it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

And now for something completely different

I went on a trip to San Francisco for a 1/2 day business meeting yesterday (I really need to start taking a digital camera with me). I traveled late and got to my hotel room at 1AM. After waiting for another family to check in I was given a room on the "Club Level". It was 1AM and I wasn't thinking about my good fortune.

I walk into the room and here is what I see. First the flat screen TV (large and can be positioned for viewing anywhere in the room. Second the King size bed that is actually comfortable. Believe me I needed that as I was tired.

Since I was only staying the one night (OK really about 6 hours total), I grabbed my toiletries (remember it's 1AM) and went to brush my teeth before bed. What do I find in the bathroom? Well the mirror had a strange rectangular area (diagonal about 9 inches) and a remote control on the countertop. I thought "No Way!" and sure enough it was an electronic mirror screen that would show TV while I got ready.

Finally, the soda I drank on the plane got to me and I had to use the toilet. I go about my business and am ready to flush when I notice there are two buttons. On one side it says .9GPF and the other says 1.6GPF. It's 1AM remember and I thought to myself "How am I suppose to know which button to push?" I mean I'm not in the habit of looking at what I just deposited and determining how many gallons at a minimum would be required to flush. I chose .9 figuring I'd save water. Good thing that handled it.

Now why the graphic story? Well think about it, how many of us really would know how many gallons of water are needed to flush our waste away? Moreover, who came up with the requirements and design that said "We need a toilet that gives the user a choice of flushing options"? I also wonder if my .9GPF choice wouldn't have done the job and I did a second .9GPF flush, would the hotel charge me for the .2 gallons of water I wasted when I should have pressed the 1.6GPF button?

Oh yeah, while I'm thinking of it, where was the sign warning me that "Chemicals in this room are known to the State of California to cause cancer."?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Parenting Autism

There has been a lot of talk about what Michael Savage said about autistic children. I didn’t hear the piece live and so I won’t judge the piece. ESPN did a follow-up on "J-Mac" the boy who played in the final basketball game of his senior year and scored 20 or so points in the last couple of minutes. "J-Mac" is now a speaker and touring the country to tout what autistic children can do. As a parent of an autistic child I thought I would share what some of the challenges and opportunities are.

Our oldest son is high-functioning autistic. We first noticed certain characteristics that didn’t fit in with the other children his age. The biggest clue was the quick mood swing from happy to angry. He would go into a rage over simple things. So we began to see what things set him off. We soon found it was things like a change in schedule or moving something that he had placed in a specific spot.

This is where the battle began. We searched for help and luckily my job allowed us to see specialists. The first one, I’m sad to report, didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong outside of behavior issues that could be handled by good parenting. However, we stayed true to the course and moved on to a second specialist. This one opened our eyes to our son’s behavior that showed he has autism. He showed us for instance that our son didn’t play with toys except to line them up. Lining up toys is a classic symptom of Autism. Needless to say we were depressed. Our son, our first child has an affliction that we can’t cure in a short period of time and maybe not at all.

The diagnosis however allowed us to get him help. We now have workers helping him every day. It’s still a lot of work as a parent though. He still has moments of rage and needs help calming down. He also has other behavior issues that we deal with. The one thing I have to say is that it is worth it. It’s definitely not easy, but when he tells us we are the best parents in the world or says that he loves us we know it’s working.

Our son is mainstreamed. This means that he goes to school with other kids his age just like everyone else. There are things he needs help with (reading and math for instance). This year however we are sending him to a new school that will not pull him out for that help. We are so looking forward to this year to see him progress.

Autism is a real affliction. We are lucky that our son is high-functioning. There are others who are not. Each of us as parents of Autistic children has challenges and opportunities. Again, it’s not easy, but it is so worth it.