Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Big Question

April and I attended our new ward for the first time Sunday.
First impressions? Small, diverse (well, more diverse than any ward I've ever attended), and friendly.
There are two other law students in the ward, and we talked a bit in the hall before (and during part of) EQ. One of them graduates in a year, and his wife insists on moving back to Utah to be closer to family (meaning her mother). Since Utah has a small population and two good law schools, and since no one there has ever heard of the law school here, that means he'll have to take a significant pay cut to move back. The company he's working for this summer has offered him his dream job after he graduates, but it looks like he'll be refusing it and moving to Utah.
So, for those of us with family ties in a particular state...
How willing are you to raise a family far away from your extended family? I'm talking long term here, not just 3 or 4 years.
If you have a spouse, do they agree with you?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Elder Robert S. Wood, April 2006 Conference

Whether they be false friends or unrighteous teachers, artists or entertainers, commentators or letter writers to local newspapers, seekers of power or wealth, beware of those who stir us up to such anger that calm reflection and charitable feelings are suppressed.
Have we who have taken upon us the name of Christ slipped unknowingly into patterns of slander, evil speaking, and bitter stereotyping? Have personal or partisan or business or religious differences been translated into a kind of demonizing of those of different views? Do we pause to understand the seemingly different positions of others and seek, where possible, common ground?
We need to raise the level of private and public discourse. We should avoid caricaturing the positions of others, constructing "straw men," if you will, and casting unwarranted aspersions on their motivations and character. We need, as the Lord counseled, to uphold honest, wise, and good men and women wherever they are found and to recognize that there are "among all sects, parties, and denominations" those who are "kept from the truth [of the gospel] because they know not where to find it." Would we hide that light because we have entered into the culture of slander, of stereotyping, of giving and seeking offense?
It is far too easy sometimes to fall into a spirit of mockery and cynicism in dealing with those of contrary views. We demoralize or demean so as to bring others or their ideas in contempt.
Closely related to mockery is a spirit of cynicism. Cynics are disposed to find and to catch at fault. Implicitly or explicitly, they display a sneering disbelief in sincerity and rectitude. Isaiah spoke of those who "watch for iniquity" and "make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought." In this regard, the Lord has counseled in latter days that we "cease to find fault one with another" and "above all things, clothe [ourselves] with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace."
President George Albert Smith observed, "There is nothing in the world more deleterious or harmful to the human family than hatred, prejudice, suspicion, and the attitude that some people have toward their fellows, of unkindness." In matters of politics, he warned, "Whenever your politics cause you to speak unkindly of your brethren, know this, that you are upon dangerous ground." Speaking of the great mission of the latter-day kingdom, he counseled: "This is not a militant church to which we belong. This is a church that holds out peace to the world. It is not our duty to go into the world and find fault with others, neither to criticize men because they do not understand. But it is our privilege, in kindness and love, to go among them and divide with them the truth that the Lord has revealed in this latter day."
Political differences never justify hatred or ill will.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Moving Days

Our move from Idaho Falls to Cincinnati is complete
We spent a week packing (and since I was playing house-husband, most of the packing was done by me).
We rented the 24-foot truck and car trailer last Wednesday. April's dad and I loaded it up (helped a bit by a kind neighbor who saw us out there moving). The mother-in-law and wife cleaned up the place and did a little bit of last-minute packing. April and I drove down to Provo, dropped the truck off at my cousin's place and drove back up to my parent's.
We spent the next day resting and going through stuff I'd left at my parents. We were also able to visit quite a bit with family and three evening visitors.
The next morning we visited the Barbarian, his wife, and their two ferocious dogs before driving east. Wyoming's boring. The western half of Nebraska is also boring. We spent the night in Lincoln after a full day's drive.
Saturday we drove to Nauvoo. We stayed in the nearby Keokuk, and visited the ALDI there. ALDI is a German grocery store--and the only difference with this one was it sold predominantly American food. All the other details (store layout, inserting money to borrow a shopping cart, buying sturdy bags to put groceries in) were precisely the same. My excitement at finding it amused April greatly.
We walked around Nauvoo. It was so humid that my glasses fogged up every time I got out of the car.
A pamphlet with site hours on it told us that Carthage jail was open until 9:00 pm. We arrived there just past 7:00 to find the tour guides/missionaries leaving for the pageant. Apparently it closes at 7:00. We walked around the outside but didn't get a chance to go in.
We'll have to make a trip back there in the future.
The next morning we attended sacrament meeting in Nauvoo and then traveled on. Not far from Nauvoo a tire went flat. I changed out of my church clothes (fortunately it was a deserted country road) and put on a donut. Somehow, it's the first tire I've ever changed. A local stopped by and gave us directions to the nearest town, where we stopped by a Farm King to get the tire replaced. The donut wasn't doing so well--it had a large bulge on it--and a few minutes after they took it off, it exploded.
Two tires in a single day.
We continued on to the Indianapolis area, where we stayed with my cousin's in-laws. The next morning we drove two hours down to Bloomington, and helped my cousin and her husband unload their portion of the truck. We then took the truck another three hours to Cincinnati, where we unloaded it with the help of another cousin and her husband.
Our new place feels big. It's older, but classy and full of character. I'll post some pictures once we get everything unpacked.
I've decided that moving is way too much work. The next time we move will be the last.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Good and the Bad

I realize I've been writing a lot of posts lately. Part of it is procrastination from packing, part of it is...well, lots is going on.
There was recently a post on Millennial Star about how evil and satanic WALL-E is.
If Millennial Star were a fringe blog, I wouldn't be concerned. But it's a fairly mainstream LDS blog.
Included in the blog are these wonderful tidbits. "It is unfortunate that companies such as Disney and Pixar are beginning to propogate (sic) agendas of a maleficent nature. Here is yet another example of something good being pushed to an extreme. The Adversary apparently finds it best to start them believing in such perversion while they’re still young."
Yes, that quote was about WALL-E.
Here's another juicy one.
"I believe WALL-E is another card in the deck of fear-mongering tactics employed by our common Enemy to get power, money, control, oppress mankind with false “prophets,” and reign with blood and horror prior to the return of the Savior."
Needless to say, people like this aren't helping the LDS image. Fortunately, rational people started storming the comments section of this blog until, 36 hours after it was first posted, the writer became frustrated enough to shut down the comments section. So that, at least, gives me hope.
On a brighter note, April bought me a year's subscription to the German Liahona for Christmas. They usually have a page where they list all the missionaries that have been called on missions for that month. So far, I've been a bit disappointed...I haven't recognized anyone.
Today was different.
I spent almost a year in the Wetzlar ward--I served in two areas within it. Not only that, but I was an outspoken, senior missionary there. I returned for a visit three years ago. Many of the adults and all of the teenagers remembered me, and were actually excited to see me.
So I'm excited that this month's Liahona features three of these teenagers. Two of them were younger (12-14) when I was there, and the third was older (16). The 16-year-old is one of the coolest people I've ever met (although she wasn't there when I last visited, and I haven't seen her for over seven years). She's now serving in Washington DC North. The other two are serving in Hamburg (Germany) and the Czech Republic. Very cool.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rock music and the gospel

There's a post at www.bycommonconsent.com that I found quite interesting.
The sister missionary in our MTC district (who ended up going to the same mission as I did) was also of the opinion that rock music was of the devil. Interestingly enough, she was also the most troubled missionary I ever met. I have a great respect for my MTC missionary companion, the only other missionary from that MTC district who went to our mission. Why? I never once heard anyone tell horror stories about this particular sister in the MTC--and believe me, there were stories to tell. In other words, he had great gossip to share, and he kept his mouth shut.
I did hear some about how she was in the mission, and it was bad (although not as bad as the MTC stuff...)
Anyway, my point is...rock music (even some hard rock or metal) can be good, and even uplifting and inspiring, and those who deny this (besides sometimes having deep psychological problems) may be a contributing factor at driving people away from the church.
I consider myself lucky to have good role-models inside the church who still love rock music (thanks Dad).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

USPS Mistake

Late last week I went to the postal service website and filled out a form to have our mail forwarded. I listed the starting date of 7/17/08 (the day after we move).
That was Friday.
Saturday, we received no mail. Not a big deal...it happens sometimes.
Monday, no mail. A bit strange...two straight days...but oh well.
Tuesday, still no mail. Quite suspicious.
Wednesday I emailed them about it. Still no mail.
Thursday I got a reply back, asking for more info. Still no mail.
Friday I got a message that someone from the local post office would call me.
Saturday (today) I got a phone call...and we finally got mail (an important package that I'm not sure they would've forwarded). Turns out that the mail carrier had failed to note the date of our move.
We're not too happy about not getting any mail for an entire week, but what can you do.
So, as a warning...if you have your mail forwarded, you might want to fill out the form just before you move (and not a week and a half before).

Friday, July 11, 2008


April and I have seen a few movies lately, and are looking forward to seeing a few more.
Iron Man was good. Not incredible, but still good enough that I'd eventually like to own the DVD. Grade: B+
Horton Hears a Who was very good (surprisingly). Go and see it. Grade: A-
Indiana Jones was decent. I can't categorize it as the worst Indiana Jones movie, but I certainly can't call it the best. It's fun, but there were numerous logical gaps that sometimes made it difficult for me to suspend my disbelief. Grade: B-
Any other recommendations?
I'm looking forward to seeing Hellboy II, Hancock, Get Smart, The Incredible Hulk, WALL-E, and Kung Fu Panda. The trailers for the two cartoons look dorky...but they've got good reviews (and I remember the trailer for Horton Hears a Who being equally dumb). What is it with cartoons getting dorky trailers?
In any case, it looks like Hellboy II is getting a lot of positive attention from the critics. Kind of an artsy comic book movie. I remember watching the first Hellboy in the theater with friends...great times. Now I need to convince April to watch the first one with me, and then convince her she needs to see Hellboy II in the theater...
What movies are you looking forward to? What would you recommend this summer?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

What makes a ward good?

I've done a lot of thinking lately about what separates a good ward from a not-so-good ward.
I realize that the person asking the question has a lot to do with it.
But I'm also convinced that some wards are just better than others.
In about a week we'll move to Cincinnati, and I'll have attended three wards in just 15 months. I'm looking forward to the new ward, and have high hopes, but I have two questions.
What can I do to have a positive experience in a ward?
And what makes a ward good (outside of what I can do)?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I should have invested

Around five years ago, I bought a CD. The Edge by Eternity X. The album quickly made it into my all-time favorites and is still one of my top five.
The CD is so obscure that the only place you can hope to buy it is on the internet. The going price there (five years ago) was a steep $18. I found a deal on a slightly-used one...$14.
Recently, the band, who was supposed to release a new album recently, has disappeared off the radar. But in trying to find them, I discovered that The Edge is going for $45 on Amazon. Now, Amazon sellers sometimes over-price things, so I checked ebay. One used CD for sale...and it sold for $40 (plus shipping and handling).
Five years ago, when I knew that this album was incredible, and that there were limited copies being made, I should have bought numerous copies. I could've made some nice cash.
Why don't I sell the one copy I have?
Because it's incredible music. Because it's worth $40 (or more) to me. And you know that we're in economic hard times when Starbucks shuts down numerous stores and people stop buying SUVs and monster trucks.
But they're still spending big bucks for this CD.
Hopefully, next time, I'll know to invest.
Oh--and if a bunch of just-graduated kids from BHS love this album, I swear I have no clue how they found out about it...