Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Hurrah for Karamazov!"

I just accomplished a major goal of mine. I finally finished reading The Brothers Karamazov. A couple of years ago I also took on the task of reading Crime and Punishment by the same author (Fyodor Dostoevsky). Both were chosen voluntarily, and no I am not a masochist, for those of you who don't read. I can't really sum up what a wonderful, inspiring book this was, so I thought I'd post a few quotes that really impressed me and enticed me to take a pen to my book. Dostoevsky covers topics ranging from the question of life after death, to infatuation, to the devil, to fathers, to murder and deceit, the existence of God, and on and on. If you're ever feeling adventurous or feel like you need a little culture in your life, read it.
"Strive to love your neighbour actively and indefatigably. In as far as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbour, then you will believe without doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has been tried. This is certain."

"Do what you can, and it will be reckoned unto you."

"What seems to you bad within you will grow purer from the very fact of your observing it in yourself."

"...the stupider one is, the closer one is to reality. The stupider one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence wriggles and hides itself. Intelligence is a knave, but stupidity is honest and straightforward."

"For any one to love a man, he must be hidden, for as soon as he shows his face, love is gone....the face of man often hinders many people not practised in love, from loving him."
There are several knocks towards what seems like a particular religion. When I was in Argentina, one of the ministers knew that what he was teaching was false, but he asked us, "Would you have the heart to tell an 80 year old woman who's been coming every mass to pray to her saints that her whole life has been a lie?" Ivan Karamazov describes such men as those that
"lead men consciously to death and destruction, and yet deceive them all the way so that they may not notice where they are being led, that the poor blind creatures may at least on the way think themselves happy."
"One who does not believe in God will not believe in God's people. He who believes in God's people will see His Holiness too, even though he had not believed in it till then. Only the people and their future spiritual power will convert our atheists, who have torn themselves away from their native soil."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
"...man loves to see the downfall and disgrace of the righteous."
"You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about your education, but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood is perhaps the best education. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one's heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us."
You'll have to read the book to get anything more out of it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

News Poll!

Click on the stars to submit your vote.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Security Tips: Avoiding SPAM, Junk Mail, Telemarketing, etc.

I found an article that gives some pretty good techniques to avoid/prevent SPAM, Junk Mail, and Telemarketing. I'm pretty sure most of them are legal, at least right now :)

There's a website that will provide you with a disposable email address, it allows you to use it just long enough to get certain information from websites that you would prefer not have your real email address. Another one adds extra encryption to the mail that you send to prevent it from being intercepted/read.

It's not too long, so give it a look.

Any useful things you've found to keep your presence anonymous on the web?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Update your contact info!

Please help me update my contact info for you by filling in and submitting the following form!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Big Boss Lee's Republican Primary Poll

There was even some tampering on my poll...what sad people to think they could have any influence by racking up the votes of their favorite candidate. Did they really think I'd believe it? As of the evening the poll was closing Mitt Romney had about 20 votes, McCain had 2 and Giuliani had 2. Then out of nowhere, Giuliani had 30 votes, in only a couple of hours! And they all came from the Salt Lake area. My father-in-law said he knew of some people that spend all day looking for those types of polls and try to vote as many times as they can to promote their party. As far as I know the majority of the people that visit my blog I figured would vote for Mitt Romney, and I was right, and that's what I wanted to affirm. For every one reading this take it with a grain of salt and please comment, and be intelligent about it.

I'm not even sure for whom I'm going to cast my vote. Nobody stands out. Several of them have good stances on some things, and others not so good stances. So below is my analysis of the candidates that have the most redeeming qualities, though some major faults.

McCain supports homosexual unions, not marriages, but just living with each other in order to get benefits from the government as all other unholy 'unions' in our country do. That's something that is clearly against our beliefs as Latter-day Saints. "We believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God....Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose....We declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife." He is the only Republican to have served in war, he has been in the US Senate for a long time, and will do a slam-bang job at protecting our country from those who wish to hurt us. How much more this is going to be an actual "shoot-em up" war or turn into more of an economical one, who knows, but it's shoot-em up right now. He doesn't want to kick the illegals out, he wants to help them earn their citizenship, but he does want to strengthen our borders.

Giuliani is probably one candidate I wouldn't support just for his stance on abortion. He personally isn't for it and isn't necessarily going to fight for it, but the fact that he won't fight to protect the child's life bugs me. "We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God's eternal plan." He also supports, along with McCain, same sex partner benefits. Let me get this straight, I'm no homophobic I realize everyone on earth is a child of God and it is my goal to treat them as such. I can love the people and still despise the sin. I can help them find places to receive counselling and understand their true purpose on this earth. But that's an issue for another post. Giuliani has plans to repeal certain tax cuts on the wealthy On a different note, what Giuliani did for New York City was amazing and I'm sure he would do a good job at helping secure our country. Even if he was "only" mayor, that city (NYV) is the size of a small state! And with one of the worst crime records at one point, he turned that city upside down.

Mitt Romney has had some flaky stances on both rights for homosexuals and abortion. How does a good member of the LDS Church realize in his 40s that abortion really is bad. He also wants to kick all of the illegal immigrants out of our country. Now I don't want any trouble makers here either, but they're here, and nothing has been done about it, and the majority of them are helping us more than hurting us. Sure we should be more strict about letting people in and strict about the conditions on which they can stay here. I've gotten to know many immigrants (most likely here illegally) that are hard workers, convert to The Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and plan on returning to there country in the future with the skills and knowledge they have gained here. Do we want to kick these people out of our midst when so many of our fellow Americans just want to sit back on welfare and let the government pay for everything? Who are the ones that really need to be put back in line?

Romney is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has been publicly noted. This isn't a default vote for Mormon's, only for those who don't do their research. Mitt has some strong values, and I believe as a publicly noted Mormon he will do his best to not tarnish that reputation. He is a good business man, and in a capitalistic society that's the type of man that will help our society grow.

I've mainly been looking at these candidates, because I don't believe the others have much of a chance, and they don't have any amazing attributes (none really do). Any comments on where you think I'm wrong/right? Most of the things I've listed have come from ontheissues.org, it seems like a pretty unbiased site. I'm also starting to watch some of the past and current debates to get a better feel of each of the candidates persona. I'd appreciate your insights.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Future of Books?


Amazon has just developed an awesome new technology that could revolutionize book reading. It's called Kindle, kind of a weird name, but it's pretty cool. It's a wireless device that allows you to download any book anywhere without a connection subscription cost. The only cost is the cost of the book which is a fraction of what you could buy it for in the store. I'll let you check out all the features in the videos on the site.


I still haven't found much use for PDA's unless you travel a lot. I can see SmartPhones and PDA Phones being more useful, but then again, I'd mainly use it for a phone, which is probably a lower quality phone than most other simpler options.


So what would make me pay $399 for this? If I traveled a lot, this would be a must have. Since I like buying books more than getting them at the library, or else if I like the ones I read from the library I go out and buy them, maybe this would end up saving me money in the long run because books seem generally cheaper on it (at least new best sellers do, $9.99 instead of $25). It's also a very good size and weight. Other than that this would just be a really cool toy that would eat up a couple Christmases and Birthdays, and I can think of a few cheaper options that will make me just as happy.


Could you see your self using something like this?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Call Me!

Speaking of GrandCentral, this is something else that's pretty cool that they offer. When you click on the button below you enter your phone number and then your phone will ring and be connected to my phone, and I can answer it. You can call me without me even giving you my number and choose which phone it will ring or if it will just go straight to voicemail. You can also force people calling you to state their name before the call will go through, that way you can better screen your calls. Anyways, thought this was cool.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

To Keep or Cut the Land-line

I've toyed with the idea of getting rid of our landline and just using our cellphones, or VoIP (Voice Over IP). Currently my wife and I are trying to pay as little as possible by remaining on our parents' cell phone family plan. The only bad thing to this is that we both have different carriers, so it negatively affects both of our bills to talk to each other, but it's been working out OK for the last year and a half. Since neither of our cell phones have local area codes, we decided to get a landline so that people can get a hold of us without dialing long distance and without negatively impacting our families' cell phone bills. We then realized that you just can't have local service because the person down the street from you has a different area code, and local service isn't good enough, so we had to tack on long distance, a whopping $40/mo. increase. It is definitely a rip off.

What are the options I've considered?

  1. Get rid of the landline and just use cell phones, Skype, and Grand Central. Grand Central will allow you to create a phone number with whatever area code you like. You can then make that phone number ring to your cellphone, your wife's cell phone, your landline, or all of them together, it's pretty cool (which is true for most things owned by google). The con to this is that if you call 911, they can automatically know where you are if you call from a landline, but not with a cellphone. Cell phone batteries can die if you have long power outages, or can easily be misplaced, calls dropped frequently. The pro is that you can affor to buy that fiber optic package AT&T is offering with digital TV, all for the same price as your previous phone and internet package!
  2. Just strip down our phone to the most basic service around, and still use Grand Central with your cell phones. Depending on how low you can get your phone service cost, this may be a good option.
  3. Voip is only $25/mo for unlimited long distance. Lower quality, lower dependability.

Any other options you all have seen?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why not to trust stupid people

"A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand."

~Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ralf and Feesh: A Tale of Two Fish

Ralf and Feesh were two very special goldfish. Sherrie's parent's bought them for Annalee as her first pets (thank goodness they weren't feeling extra generous!). She really enjoyed them; they made her happy. We bought them food and made sure to feed them often. Their little home was becoming increasingly dirty and we had yet to pick up a fish net to transfer them to a clean bowl. We ended up using a tea leaf strainer (they didn't have a net at Kroger's), and then cleaned out their bowl.

Feesh died first, most likely of shock that there was such a thing as clean water. We weren't sure if he was sleeping or really dead, so we left him over night, and in the morning he was dead, if not more dead. Poor little Ralf didn't know what to do with himself. He swam around a lot and most likely was really sad because Feesh had been thrown away and picked up by the garbage truck earlier that day. The solidarity of his existence was too much for him to handle, so he bubbled. (Frogs croak, right? So fishes bubble.)

The End.

Monday, November 05, 2007

My Ice Cream Flavor


"You're as impulsive and impatient as a kid who can't wait for the cookies to come out of the oven. You treat life like a nonstop slumber party, and you like to keep things simple and silly. You scream at horror movies and laugh your butt off at comedies, but you probably can't sit still for a long, boring drama. To some people, you come across as immature, but so what? Your playful personality means you'll stay forever young."

Friday, November 02, 2007

Radiohead: In Rainbows

I've only ever heard bits of Radiohead songs in the past (Karma Police, Subterranean Homesick Alien, Paranoid Android, Creep). Several times I've almost bought the album OK Computer, hearing that it was there best one. I just could never get past their odd and very different sound (compared to most music I listen to).

I then heard about their newest album, "In Rainbows," and how they were going to sell it for whatever you want to pay for it (even as low as $0). This intrigued me, and after doing a little research I found that the album received some pretty good reviews. So I decided to download it, and on principle I did pay more than $0. It took me a couple of times listening to it to start to appreciate the uniqueness of their sound and really start to enjoy them. If you've ever found yourself in my shoes, give it a whirl.

The first two songs (15 Step and Body Snatchers) are quite the adrenaline pumping songs, and then Nude and Weird Fishes mellow you out as you enjoy the rest of the ride through the album.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The AJAX Control Toolkit Modal Popup Extender's Postback

I spent the good part of a week and even had to work on Saturday to figure out a problem developing a webpage for work. I was trying to get the AJAX modalpopupextender to postback data from a gridview back to it's parent form. After asking several resources and posting my question on several forum's I discovered that what I was looking for was not a capability offered through ASP.net, I had to do some funky work arounds I found here. I'm trying to post this solution everywhere I can so that the next unlucky person to tackle this problem might find some solace at one of my solution sites. Happy coding!

Thanks again to aspdotnetcodes.com.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fast and Testimony Meetings

I was just reading up on Fast and Testimony meetings as we have ours this Sunday due to Stake Conference being the first Sunday of November. I came across the following statement in Ludlow's Encyclopedia of Mormonism:
"The fast is officially broken by partaking of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper."

He goes on to explain that,
"In modern scripture, fasting is described as 'rejoicing and prayer' (Doctrine and Covenants 59:14), which implies that it is more than just abstaining from food."

I've always not understood why in some places we are told to forego food and liquids for 24 hours and other times we are told to skip 2 meals. This quote seems to go along with the skipping two meals if we start our fast the night before and don't eat until lunch the next day. What do you think?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sad, but True

"If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read 'President Can't Swim'."

~Lyndon B. Johnson

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

No More Junk Anything

If you're sick of all the telemarketing calls you get, mortgage insurance offers, pre-approved credit card offers, SPAM, etc., the following website has all the answers on how to opt out of these so-called "services."

http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/toptenoptout.html

Sunday, October 14, 2007

On The Waterfront, "2 thumbs way up!"


I had heard that this was a great movie (it's considered one of the top 100 movies by many critics on IMDB.com) but I've been leery about believing too much in what the world thinks of entertainment. It's not just the newer movies either, we've watched some highly acclaimed old movies that we will never see again (e.g., The Manchurian Candidate).

On the Waterfront was truly worthy of the 8 Oscars it won. It was awesome, probably becoming my favorite movie, just surpassing Cool Hand Luke. It was uplifting, introspective, and good entertainment. When the show's over you find yourself wondering, "Am I going to live my life being D&D or am I going to be a canary?" Are we going to sit back and let the Terry Mulloys of the world battle evil on their own, or are we going to join their cause, no matter the consequences, because we know what we are doing is right?

"I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it." This famous line takes in a lot more meaning within the context of the movie. Terry realizes that "short-end money" is no way to live a life, he knows what his potential is and could have been had he made better choices and had people around him to support him. He doesn't let this thought keep him down though, he sees the individual efforts of several men who have stood up against evil and were stopped cold in the process. He isn't afraid of this, and with some guidance from the priest his effort to uphold Good, along with the effort of those who died in the process, ends triumphing over Evil.

I don't guarantee you'll like it, but if you're looking for something uplifting and with a good story line, some action, and a little romance, watch it.

Friday, October 05, 2007

LifeHacker: a wealth of invaluable information

I stumbled upon a new blog, Lifehacker.com that is either one of the best blogs to follow or the worst. The best because it gives suggestions and solutions from how to get rid of headaches or organize your tangled globs of yarn to some of the coolest and geekiest downloads/hacks. The worst because it can be time consuming reading every single interesting post. At any rate, it has something for everyone. I thought I'd list some of the coolest posts I've found there over the last few weeks:
Anyways, I recommend checking it out. Since there are easily more than 10 posts a day, you may want to consider using an RSS reader (e.g., Google Reader). Happy blog reading.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Security Tip: Phishing

From Wikipedia "phishing is a criminal activity using social engineering techniques. Phishers attempt to fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication." I've received emails from Washington Mutual asking that I sign into a particular page to re-enter my account number and password. I don't even have an account with Washington Mutual, but the person sending it out is just hoping to land the message in a naive person's email to get their bank account information and do something of a criminal nature.

Banks should never ask you to email your password and account information, no company should. Always be more skeptical than believing. eBay and PayPal are some of the most targeted companies. Don't ever send sensitive information (Social Security Numbers, passwords, account numbers, financial information, etc.) via email. It is possible for an unintended party to intercept your email and see everything in it unless you encrypt it.

Phishing isn't only a problem you find in email, there is also phone phishing. I've had people call my cell phone saying that I won a cruise and that they needed to get my bank account number and permission to deposit several hundred dollars in it. I almost fell for it, but I realized there was no way that could be possible, I never entered any such contest. If something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.

Microsoft has some good tips on how to recognize phishing scams as well.

Here are a few more good tips I found:
  1. Don't click on links in emails you are wary of, they may end up downloading a virus onto your computer, or taking you to a fraudulent website.

  2. If you do enter your credit card online to make purchases (or any other type of sensitive data), make sure the beginning of the web address starts with "https://" not just "http://"

  3. Regularly log into your banking and credit card accounts to monitor your transactions.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Since we don't always know what a movie contains before we see it (the MPAA ratings are quite useless today), I figured I'd provide a little guidance for those who have read and agree with my post earlier today. I use the following websites to check for the content of the movies I plan on seeing:

Their recommendations may not always be the best, but they are usually pretty accurate at talking about the content (Sex/Nudity, Profanity, Violence, Drugs, etc.) of any given movie. IMDB and CommonSense even let you put your own information in and rate the movies.

It's "Only" Violence

I took a poll not to long ago trying to gauge what people thought was most offensive in movies. 100% of the people agreed that sexuality was most offensive (myself being one of them). I made the assumption that nudity would follow a close second. In my next poll I asked what would be next on the list. 33% said that profanity was next and 66% felt that violence was next. So this next area was a little fuzzier and I don't know that there is a definitive answer or a "more righteous" answer, but we do need to make sure that the reason we don't feel so strongly about one or the other is because we have become desensitized to the violence or the profanity.

Sherrie and I have had some bad encounters with some very violent movies (none of them even R-rated) in the last couple weeks--The Bourne Identity, The Manchurian Candidate, The Bourne Supremacy, and Disturbia. Every time we finished watching them we felt awful and had to do something that would lighten our moods so that we would be able to sleep peacefully. I had already seen the Bourne movies before and don't remember being appalled by them, but more fascinated by the fight scenes. That may be due to the audience with whom I was watching it, but if anything my more sensitive reaction is probably the most right (personally).

I have been reminded of an article in the Ensign several years ago entitled, "It's 'Only' Violence," by Brad J. Bushman. He reminds us that Alma taught that sex outside of marriage is a serious sin, and among the most grievous of sins. But he ranked the two most serious sins as denying the Holy Ghost and "shedding…innocent blood," or committing murder. He says, "I was puzzled that many Church members did not feel concerned about watching people being murdered on the screen. And many seemed to consider profanity to be more objectionable than violence in movies and TV programs." I won't quote much more, I'd like you to read the entire article; but I would like to mention the myths that he includes in the articles:
  • Myth #1: The mass media simply mirror the level of violence in the real world.

  • Myth #2: Viewing violence actually decreases aggression.

  • Myth #3: Viewing violence has a trivial effect on aggression.

  • Myth #4: Decreasing rates of violent crime prove that media violence does not increase societal violence.

  • Myth #5: One cannot know whether media violence causes aggression

  • Myth #6: "Media violence doesn't affect me!"

He also includes a list of things parents can do to better protect their children from the violent media by which we are surrounded.

Moroni does a good job of counseling us what type of media we should allow into our circle of influence, inside the sacred walls of our homes:

But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
Let us use this as a standard against which we measure the activities in which we include our families.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Mini Tennis

This game works on your at-the-net skills. The only part of the court that is utilized is from the service line to the net. If you're playig doubles use the alleys. The "server" stnads at the net and holds the ball on top of the net right where the tape is (in the center) and lets the ball drop to the other side. Play then resumes as normal in tennis using the new boundaries. Each point won is 1 point, and you play up to a pre-determined number (e.g., 7). Players cannot touch the net with their racquet.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Faith as a Mustard Seed

Matthew 17:20

...for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

In The Brothers Karamazov, several characters are discussing faith and whether or not a man can claim to be Christian if he has not faith even as a mustard seed with which one should be able to move mountains. If forced with the decision to be tortured or killed unless you renounce Christ and you cannot cause a mountain to fall on and crush your enemies, you are not a Christian, and therefore are renouncing nothing if you renounce Christ. I'm not sure how clear that is, but let me put it in terms that enlightened me.

In this case, if you have the amount of faith equal to the size of a mustard seed (very small) you should be able to move mountains. I doubt many people are able to do this currently, but at the same time I know many people of such great faith. How can this be? If you read the scripture carefully the Lord says, "if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed." This could very well mean, "if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed has faith." The mustard seed is the smallest seed that yields the biggest tree for its relative size. That mustard seed, though small, can reach a potential far greater than any other seed. If we have that type of faith we, too, can reach a potential far greater than any other, eternal life.

That faith gives men power, and in the case of the scripture should have been the power by which the Lord's disciples attempted to heal the lunatick. But because they did not have that power, that faith (accessible through prayer and fasting) they could not heal the man. Faith is not only belief, it encompasses obedience as well. We can only be tools to do the Lord's work if we are worthy of such and capable to know His will concerning the things over which He has given us dominion.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Hudsucker Proxy

Sherrie and I watched The Hudsucker Proxy a few weekends back and absolutely loved this film. It has a great message to it and plenty of good clean laughs. After watching it we knew it would be an instant family classic and immediately I put it on my Amazon wish list.

Tim Robbins plays a recent college graduate looking for a job and starts off at Hudsucker Industries in the mail room. As a result of the sudden death of the president from the 44th floor (or 45th including the mezzanine) he somehow becomes the next president of the company and unknowingly a part of a scheming plot to reclaim ownership of the company by the board of executives led by Paul Newman. Tim Robbins learns a lot of lessons the hard way, giving in eventually to fame and glory and puts aside those things that used to matter most in his life.

I won't give anything else away in the movie, you'll have to check it out for yourself!

It's rated PG for thematic elements (suicide) and some language (which we were able to avoid with the assistance of the TV Guardian).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Liberalism and King Men-ism II

The train of thought that got me to see the relationship between Liberalism and King Men-ism came from my father-in-law. I'm not trying to say that he's some right-wing, conservative extremist; he just made a very valid point in light of the Orson Scott Card article on which my focus was in the first episode of this post. To quote him:
"The Book of Mormon teaches us how to wage war against Gadianton robbers who were the terrorists back then and our enemies now. The Book of Mormon was written for our day and holds the key to peace and safety both physically and spiritually."
Let me give you a basic understanding of who the King Men were. From Alma chapter 46 in the Book of Mormon:
4 And Amalickiah was desirous to be a king; and those people who were wroth were also desirous that he should be their king; and they were the greater part of them the lower judges of the land, and they were seeking for power.
5 And they had been led by the flatteries of Amalickiah, that if they would support him and establish him to be their king that he would make them rulers over the people.
The Kind Men were men who wanted to overthrow the judges (the current form of government) for a king. For more understanding of the reign of the judges refer to Mosiah 29. Helaman continues to write explaining how these kingmen were a threat to society:
And there were many in the church who believed in the flattering words of Amalickiah, therefore they dissented even from the church; and thus were the affairs of the people of Nephi exceedingly precarious and dangerous, notwithstanding their great victory which they had had over the Lamanites [enemies to the people of Nephi (or Nephites), and their great rejoicings which they had had because of their deliverance by the hand of the Lord.
Now the Lamanites are the enemy, and in later chapters of the Book of Mormon those enemies become the Robbers of Gadianton (comparable to our modern day terrorists). Amalickiah had caused a division among the people of Nephi, and whenever there is a division among a people they are more prone to fail in the event of an adversarial attack. Moroni (captain of the Nephite armies--the good guys) now comes into play:
11 And now it came to pass that when Moroni, who was the chief commander of the armies of the Nephites, had heard of these dissensions, he was angry with Amalickiah.
12 And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.
13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land—
Moroni used this "Title of Liberty" to stir up the hearts of the people to the cause of liberty so that they might "enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them."
28 And now it came to pass that when Moroni had said these words he went forth, and also sent forth in all the parts of the land where there were dissensions, and gathered together all the people who were desirous to maintain their liberty, to stand against Amalickiah and those who had dissented, who were called Amalickiahites.
29 And it came to pass that when Amalickiah saw that the people of Moroni were more numerous than the Amalickiahites—and he also saw that his people were doubtful concerning the justice of the cause in which they had undertaken—therefore, fearing that he should not gain the point, he took those of his people who would and departed into the land of Nephi.
And here is where everything starts tying together. We see that the King Men (particularly Amalickiah) caused a division among the people so that they were less prepared for an assault by the Lamanites. Similarly today, the Liberals want us to pull out of Iraq and put us in danger of being attacked by terrorists. The cause of those who are rooting for us to win the war in Iraq is not much different from the "Title of Liberty." By helping to establish peace in Iraq, we are also showing Iran what we are able to do and will do to ensure that peace and safety are established in this world. Regardless of any mistakes made in the past, this is the way to succeed in the future.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Liberalism and King Men-ism I

I read a very good article the other day by Orson Scott Card. I asked some friends and family for their opinons on it, because I wasn't sure how true his opinion actually was with regards to the war in Iraq. My father-in-law drew a very good comparison to the wars being fought in the Book of Mormon, and you'll see this comparison as you continue to read. Mr. Card starts off his article saying:

"History does repeat itself. Never exactly -- there are always enough differences in the details that people who are determined not to learn anything from the past can find an excuse.

"But history shows patterns precisely because human beings don't change."

He then discusses many of the mistakes made by Great Britain (and the rest of Europe) with respect the rise of Nazi Germany and the start of World War II. He even goes further to explain the flaws of Winston Churchill, and talks about some of the real heroes of Great Britain. Orson Card does all this to bring us to what he feels are seven lessons we must learn from history:
  1. When the press has decided to report only one side of the story, the public is ill served.

  2. If you do not believe the threats of an insane enemy and destroy their war capacity early, when it can be cheaply done, you will pay for it in blood and horror.

  3. Only fools believe that an enemy cannot do what he threatens to do.

  4. Only fools allow their best allies to be neutralized before the war begins.

  5. Remember the big picture. However much you might want to achieve a short-term goal, you cannot let yourself be distracted from the primary objectives of the primary struggle.

  6. Everybody makes horrible mistakes; the side that learns from its mistakes and relentlessly moves forward is the one that will win.

  7. Without leadership, the cause of democracy cannot be won.

Mr. Card then discusses the mistakes that have been made in pursuing this war in Iraq, and they are not few, nor insignificant. But we cannot revel in the fact that mistakes were made, we have to move forward in the best way possible right now. The past is past, and we just need to learn from it and move on. In short, with regards to the war in Iraq, the steps we need to take now are:

1. Withdrawing from Iraq is not an option. Not to save face, not to save our honor (though those are actually not trivial goals), but because if we do not have our troops all over Iraq, we will not be in a position to deal with the main threat, which is and always has been Iran.

2. There is no way, by bombing alone, to neutralize Iran's nuclear threat. After all the lessons of air-war history, it is astonishing to me that anyone still believes that air power alone can ever be decisive against a determined enemy.

3. Since, like Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and 1864, President Bush has no reason to believe that his successor will pursue the war to victory, he has no choice, for the good of America and the world, but to defeat Iran before he leaves office. Time is running short, and I see no sign that he recognizes this.

If we elect appeasers in 2008, we deserve what will happen to us.

But do our children deserve to inherit that hideous world?

Fanatical Islam is not a religion. It is the lust for power and control over other people. It is a destructive, evil force that will sweep away all that is good and fine in this world.

And right now, if we only have the courage and will, we -- and only we -- can save the world from that dire future.

So the question remains: Are we too stupid to learn from history? Must we, on the verge of victory, turn our future over to the fools and appeasers?

That's what the polls are saying right now. Those polls will change. But, as with England in 1939, the polls will change too late. Without leadership, the people do not see the danger in time.

Americans just want to be left alone. Our enemies are determined not to leave us alone. But our media, our intellectuals, and the Democratic Party are trying to soothe us and assure us that we don't actually have to fight anybody. We can win just by sitting still and ... being America.

America didn't get to be America by sitting still."

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Security Tip: Personal Info Online

Two Sundays ago, Sherrie and I attended a fireside with Ken Thevenin (Director of LDS Family Services in Houston) who talked about ways to protect our families from abduction, abuse, internet and other technology misuse. He gave out two handouts on preventing abduction and abuse, please email me if you would like a copy of these handouts. I thought I'd talk a little bit about the internet security he talked about.

We need to be very careful with regards to what we put online (blogs, picture albums, etc.). Our family and friends aren't the only ones with access to these pages. We should probably look into limiting the viewing of our pictures to those who want to be updated on them (we can create an email list and send out album updates whenever we have new pictures.)

As far as blogs go, you can choose to make them public or limit them to only select people, it all depends on who you care about reading your blog.

I don't mean to scare anybody, I just think it's good that we're aware that there are bad people out there that can do bad things with the information we "give" them.

Other items to be cautious about disclosing:-location/address of either home or vacation-full names. This is especially important with regards to Facebook or MySpace accounts. These social networking sites are havens for sexual predators, and unless you want them to find you, I'd make extra careful you don't put any personal identification information on their, or contact people you don't know. If you don't believe me, start paying closer attention to the news.

Eventually (once we've got enough of us interested in doing more with our website) we could eventually move to a better type of website where we could have a password logon. Let me know what your thought or concerns are.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Security Tip: Backups

Security concepts in general are grossly overlooked by the majority of the population, but I would say one of the most common grievances are caused by infrequent or no backup of digital data.

We all have important documents we don't want to lose (whether in hard copy or digital format). It would probably be advisable to have all hard copy documents (i.e., Birth Certificates, Marriage Licenses, credit cards, etc.) in a digital format saved in a secured, encrypted format. Other items you may want to have a backup copy of are:
  • Music (CDs)
  • Movies (DVDs)
  • Pictures
  • Journals (I keep my journal online so that I can make backups of it)
The next question is to determine how and where you are going to back up your data. It is highly advisable that you store your digital data somewhere else (physically) in addition to your personal computer. If it's stored on an external hard drive in your house with another copy on your family computer and your house burns down, you're out of luck. Some places charge a reasonable price to securely store any data you want (particulary web hosting companies if you have your own website). The next best thing would be to set up a file server somewhere where members of your family can upload their important documents, or you could put those docs on a reliable medium and ask family member's to store it for you.

Once you've established how and what you will be backing up, you need to set up a schedule and STICK WITH IT. Full backups of a computer can take a long time, so you may only want to do those every once in a while, and inbetween do only incremental backups (maybe only back up your My Documents folder).

Currently this is what I have backed up:
  • Music: I condensed all of my music into mp3's so that I could have a more portable version of all my music; it's also all on an mp3 player and on an external hard drive...this maybe overkill, but I have a lot of music, and redundancy is the only protection, especially since it's all stored in one location (I'm working on a solution for that).

  • Movies: this is trickier, as movies take up tons of space, I can only think of making one-to-one DVD backups (and this can only be done on those that aren't protected)

  • Pictures and important docs: stored on an external hard drive,on a file server in a remote location, and on one of Google's servers (Picasaweb).

  • Journal is also on my computer, and a google doc so I can access it anywhere I go.
I try to have a regular full backup at least once a month, but I don't usually do that much to my computer, and the most important things I have are in a single folder, so I might as well just make sure I constantly copy that folder to a secure location.

Redundancy is also a security risk, make sure you have sensitive data encrypted or protected in some way.

Questions to comment on:
  1. What other things would you suggest making backups of?

  2. What suggestions do you have for backing up DVDs (assuming that it is legal)?

  3. Any methods of backing up data that have worked best for you?

Leaders versus Managers

One of my managers just started a blog and posed the question: "Management versus Leadership, what's the difference?"

A quote from a graduation commencement given by Hugh W. Nibley in the 80's came to mind when I read this topic. He states,
"Leaders are movers and shakers, original, inventive, unpredictable, imaginative, full of surprises that discomfit the enemy in war and the main office in peace. For the managers are safe, conservative, predictable, conforming organization men and team players, dedicated to the establishment."
This statement puts the two positions on opposite ends of the spectrum.

I do believe that we need both types, and that a mix of these qualities are necessary. It can be quite easy to slip into solely managing and forgetting to lead. Leaders historically are those who rally for the rights of the people, who fight for equality. Managers are those who seek for power, perks, and promotion.

George Washington was a God-sent leader for the independence our country. After the revolutionary war, the people naturally wanted him to become the leader of the country. He did not seek after this position, but humbly accepted it, and only for a time. He could have gone on as President for more than two terms, but he recognized the dangers of creating a position of power that was not restrained by time and would have given fewer people the opportunity to lead.

In the end I think that leaders need managerial skills; but if that leadership turns into a desire to be over other people for the sake of holding a higher position, something needs to change.

(For the full text of Bro. Nibley's talk visit here.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Security Tip: Eliminate Debit Card Use

The problem with debit cards is that they are a direct connection to your personal bank account. If somebody compromises that card, whether it is protected or not, you lose that money for a period of time. "Your loss is limited to $50 if you notify the [bank] within two business days after learning of loss or theft of your card or code.

"But you could lose as much as $500" if you don't do it within the 2 days. If you don't notice it within 60 days you can be accountable for all the money in your account plus your maximum overdraft line of credit.

When you use your debit card you have to enter a 4 digit PIN to complete the transaction. Anybody can see you enter your PIN! There are devices people can wear as a necklace or in their pocket that can duplicate the data on your debit card and then they only have to wait to watch you enter your PIN and they have direct access to your bank account.

Especially do not ever use a debit/credit card to pay for something where it leaves your sight (e.g., a restaurant). Using your debit card or even credit card at a restaurant allows the waiter/ess to do anything they want with the card behind your back and then watch you enter your PIN. Granted there are stricter laws protecting you from credit card fraud, and it isn't a direct link to your bank account, you still have to prove that the transaction was fraudulent, try to get the company to credit your account and then still have to pay $50.

Pay in CASH! Unless you don't mind assuming the risk.

Here's a little advice concerning online purchases. I would seriously consider using Virtual Credit Card Numbers. If your card company doesn't offer this service, another option is to only make purchases online with one card that has a low credit balance (e.g., $500). That way the amount of money you can lose is not too high.

Hopefully next time you will think twice before using plastic!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Oneness in Marriage

Sherrie planned an excellent Family Home Evening last night. She focused it on the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 29 that says
47 Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me;

48 For it is given unto them even as I will, according to mine own pleasure, that great things may be required at the hand of their fathers.

The part she emphasized is the second verse, "great things may be required at the hand of their fathers." Because little children cannot be tempted (until they're accountable) Satan is going to aim his efforts at the parents. It is so important that parents with children, under the age of 8 particularly, try extra hard to avoid temptation and to teach their children the gospel.

We went through the Family Home Evening lesson manual in the sections on Oneness in Marriage and Avoiding Conflicts in Marriage. As we went through these sections I remembered a bit of counsel Bro. Millet gives in his book Men of Valor. He said that he only has two pieces of advice to offer married couples (both newly-weds and oldly-weds)

  1. Choose to not take offense
  2. Always assume the best

These options exhibit humility and faith in your companion. These traits will allow you to have the Spirit with you and the guidance you need to improve your marriage in order to teach your children righteous principles. It's definitely not easy, but it is true.

We talked a little about what happens when both husband and wife have differing opinions regarding certain aspects of the gospel (e.g., Sunday activities, entertainment choices, etc.). We both had experiences in the mission field where we had companions who weren't willing to obey mission rules 100%. In those types of situations you can either choose to be the righteous one and condemn your companion or you can choose to achieve that oneness. Sometimes achieving oneness requires us to not be 100% obedient. This is a very sensitive topic (I'd like your feedback), you shouldn't compromise your values so that you do something you know is wrong (R-rated movies, shopping on Sunday, gambling, etc.). An example from my mission: my companion like to listen to Andrea Bocelli and other similar artists while we were at home. I didn't think it was appropriate and I chose to tell him, and so he put on headphones (something that shouldn't be done, but it was the other option). I think I would have been fine listening to the music he had, it was inspirational and it wouldn't have compromised our teaching ability, whereas what I had done could have created a riff in our oneness.

I guess it's such a sensitive issue it should be taken up with you and the Lord. If you feel something isn't right in your marriage, pray for guidance to achieve that oneness so that you can fully teach your little ones the gospel, so that the Lord work "great things" through you.

For a continued discussion go to Sherrie's blog.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Security Tip: Password Strength

I thought a little advice on creating passwords would be good. The statistics are incredible on how much a few extra characters can strengthen your password.

If your password is either all upper or lower case with no numbers or symbols and only 5 characters long it can be cracked instantaneously. If it's 8 characters it will take 35 minutes.

If you mix upper and lower case, a 5 character password can be cracked in under a minute. An 8 character password will take 6 days to crack.

Upper and lower case plus numbers
-5 characters - 9 seconds
-8 characters - 25 days

Upper and lower case alphabet and common symbols <>!@#$%^&* (no numbers)
-8 characters - 346 days

Throw numbers in there and it will take over two years!

(Data collected from here.)

But if you would rather keep your password simpler, you just have to change it more often and not let anyone have the time to be able to guess your password.

Sometimes if they're too complex they can be hard to remember, but here are some ideas on how to make your password more secure and easy to remember:
  • Throw in numbers or symbols that look like letters:
    P()tt3r&5nap3 (Potter & Snape)
  • Intersperse familiar numbers (an old address) in another word:
    E1a2s3y4St. (1234 Easy St.)
  • Use the first letter from each word from a favorite song, poem, or scripture:
    IHt8IaHt8IaIa (I'm Henry the 8th I am, Henry the 8 I am I am)

The top ten passwords used are:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. qwerty
  4. abc123
  5. letmein
  6. monkey
  7. myspace1
  8. password1
  9. link182
  10. (your first name)

If yours is on this list you might consider changing it immediately.

Instead of having one password for everything you use, consider having one password for your more sensitive information, a more simpler one for things not so sensitive, and an easy one for things that aren't sensitive.

Please comment if you have any methods for creating passwords that could help us simplify our lives without compromising our security.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

King of the Court

Everyone gets a partner. One team is appointed "kings" and stands on one side at the net. Everyone else gets in a line with their partner at the opposite baseline. The teams come up one at a time and get basic feeds. If anyone hits a clean winner at any time, the points are over and that team automatically goes to the net (or stays at the net if it was the net team.) Otherwise you play best out of 3 points and the baseline team has to win 2 points to take the place of the net team. When a team takes the place of the net team, they have 3 seconds to run over to the other side of the net before the baseline team gets a lob. The lob must bounce.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Word of Wisdom


This last Sunday the topic for Gospel Essentials was the Word of Wisdom. Having been raised in the church this wasn't anything new to me. We went over the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants and listed on the board the things good for the body (grains, meat sparingly, fruits and vegetables, adequate sleep, etc.) and those not for the body (tea, coffee, illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco, etc.).

Understanding all this doesn't make it easy to tell someone you don't use that certain substance. Here at work everybody drinks coffee all day, and I don't touch it. They oviously ask me why and I say, "I'm not a coffee drinker." I hate saying it's against my morals, or religion, or whatever, because it makes it seem like I'm saying, "I'm better than you." I don't know all the "medical reasons" for not using these substances, but something came up in class yesterday that shed a whole new light on the topic.

Our teacher brought up the fact that 100% of people aren't negatively affected by using these substances. Some people can drink or smoke and not receive any harm to their health. But this is not the norm. It was suggested that the reason this commandment was given was to help those who can be harmed by these bad substances. If we all, as a group of saints, adhere to these rules we will be more of a strength to those of us who would fall into addiction if we weren't prohibited from taking these substances. So it's not really a restriction, but an opportunity for us to provide a safe and healthy environment for those around us.

Another important side note deals with the possibility of having a certain medical condition for which one of these bad substances is medically prescribed (wine, marijuana, etc.). We need to pray about it and consult with our local leaders (Bishop, Stake President) to find out if this condition is a test of our faith or if it is ok to comply with the subscription.

What do y'all think about this new insight?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Weekly Security Tip: Virtual Credit Card Numbers

I thought I'd try a weekly security tip to force me to do research on computer security (something I want to understand on a deeper level). I've learned so much from the few classes I've taken in school that I want everybody around me to know so that they too can be more aware of safer ways to use a computer.

Digg.com is an excellent place to find the hottest news on any given topic. I find their security section to be quite helpful and entertaining (they've had articles telling people the special order in which to press the buttons on a coke machine to get free sodas, for the purpose of showing a lack of security on the part of Coca-Cola).

Anyways, one of the more recent articles that showed up was on virtual credit card numbers (VCCNs) and how nobody uses them. VCCN's allow you to purchase items online using a virtual/disposable credit card number on the spot that will either only be active for that one order or will only be active for transactions with that particular merchant for a particular time period. In other words, you don't have to use your actual credit card number for any online purchases, which greatly decreases the chance of identity theft (i.e., the theft of personal information for criminal use) happening.

Not every credit card company offers this but a few of those that do include:
  • CitiBank
  • MBNA
  • Discover
Onemansblog.com offered the following reasons to use this service:
  • Lets say you want to buy a magazine subscription online (or any type of potentially recurring subscription). If you use your real card number they may try to auto-renew you down the road. Can’t do that with a disposable number!

  • You want to order from a catalog or some other source that you have to mail in an order form with your credit card info included. Use a VAN in case someone intercepts the mail.

  • Each virtual account number is set to expire at the end of the following month and can only be used at a single merchant. This means if someone steals it, the number can’t be used anywhere else.

  • Fighting fraudulent charges is a pain in the [rear]! It takes time and energy and there is always at least a chance that you could lose in the end. Why not prevent it altogether?

The only drawback is that this service shouldn't be used for items you will be picking up in person (e.g., pizza, movie tickets, other items that are ordered and picked up at a local store, etc.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The World Is Flat


I'm in the middle of reading this book that explains how the world is flat. It's basically a history of the last 7-8 years of the world and how we have grown increasingly closer together due to the increased flattening effect of modern technology. It really isn't a technical book or a business book. The author (Thomas L. Friedman) does a good job of introducing technological and business topics in a very easy-to-understand way. It's great if you want to get caught up on what's going on in the world. But you better read it fast, because even the updated and expanded edition was published over a year ago and it will be outdated before long, but as of right now it pretty well covers all of the major advances.


The ten things he argues has flattened the world are:


  1. 11/9/89 (The fall of the Berlin Wall)

  2. 8/9/95 (The advent of the WWW and when Netscape went public)

  3. Work flow software (email, Pay Pal, AJAX, etc.)

  4. Uploading (Open Source software, Blogging, Wikipedia)

  5. Outsourcing (Y2K)

  6. Offshoring (China joining the WTO)

  7. Supply-Chaining (Wal-mart's magic)

  8. Insourcing (UPS-much more than just wearing funny brown shorts and delivering boxes)

  9. In-forming (Google, Yahoo!, MSN Web Search)

  10. The Steroids (Instant messaging, filesharing, video conferencing, wireless technologies, cell phones, PDA's, VoIP, etc.)

That's only the first half of the book, I'll be sure to write an update to this when I finish the book. But if you only read the first half, you'll be amazed at how flat the world really is becoming.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Why is Citizen Kane so Highly Acclaimed?

Sherrie and I watched Citizen Kane the other night, wondering what all the hype was behind it. It took a little bit for us to get into. Overall it was a good story of how power and wealth can in no way guarantee success, prosperity, and happiness.

Charles Foster Kane is repeatedly reminded throughout the movie that he doesn't know how to love people, you can't purchase love and you can't expect people to love you if you don't know how to love them. Orson Welles did a great job as Kane, but no better than Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant or any other actor that's been in a movie of equal or greater quality in my mind.

However, the great acclaim probably comes because it debuted in 1941 and supposedly did some amazing things with sounds and other filming affects. I still don't think that this should qualify a film to be the greatest Hollywood has ever produced.

Evan Almighty Is Mighty Funny

First of all, for all those Annalee fans out there photos of her are appearing in places other than my family pictures link! You'll find them on my parent's photo link located on the www.losanderson.com web page ("Don and Janet").

Steve Carell can be funny and clean at the same time. This movie was excellent. It had a very strong and powerful message about the importance of prayer, how much God loves his children on Earth and will give them the power and knowledge to act in the manner in which He commands us, and how important it is to do acts of random kindness in order to change the world. The film is rated PG and follows the same type of humor that exists in most comedies of the same rating (which sadly is sometimes followed by poorer acting--with exception to Steve Carell).

I don't remember hearing any swearing, there was no sexual innuendo, the only thing they could have done without were the numerous dog-biting-crotch episodes. I highly recommend this flick to any one who is looking for some good clean humor and an inspirational message.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Idolatry: Commandment #1

It is an interesting thought as to why the first of the Ten Commandments is "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." I've always been taught in Sunday School that this commandment was given because God is jealous and doesn't want us worshiping anybody/thing else. This kind of made sense, other than the fact that jealousy is usually a negative trait. In other classes this subject was made more clear when I realized that it's not just because God is jealous, but that he knows that he is the only entity that can ensure us eternal happiness. Anything we think is more important than God (particularly with regards to the activities we do on Sunday, those that distract us from the purpose of the Sabbath) will become our idol, our god.

President Spencer W. Kimball related a story about a group of men capturing monkey's in the jungle. They made small crates with a hole in it just big enough for the monkey to put his hand in. They then put a small nut in the crate that the monkey's liked. When the monkey's came out of the tree and discovered the crates with nuts in them, they reached in the box, grabbed the nut but could not pull their hand out because their fist was to big. Even with the hunters approaching them they did not release their prize. In the same way Satan is like the hunter, and if we go after the wrong prizes (clothes, homes, businesses, machines, automobiles, pleasure boats, degrees and letters and titles, power and prestige, the hunt, the fishing trip, the vacation, etc.) we will get that which we so desire at the cost of that which is of most value.

I would like to share a very interesting fact. If a man owns a million dollars worth of gold, he possesses approximately one 27-billionth of all the gold that is present in the earth's thin crust. The Lord who created and has power over all the earth created many other earths as well, even "worlds without number." How insignificant our earthly riches are when the Lord has promised those who have received the oath and covenant of his Holy Priesthood "all that my Father hath." (Doctrine and Covenants 84:38)

Joseph Smith's translation of Matthew 6:38 summarizes well this topic, "Wherefore, seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Announcer's Test

I remember learning this at Boy Scout Camp, and even teaching it to the scouts I was over, but never knew there was any significance to it. Who ever led it would shout out each line one at time and the audience would repeat it. It was a fun challenge to see how much we could remember.

In Jerry Lewis's words: "The announcer's test [was] given to anyone in radio or television who wants to be specifically announcer. And it involves retention, memory, repetition, enunciation. It involves diction. And it involves 10 factors that use every alphabet letter in the alphabet a variety of times."

Here it is:

  • One hen.
  • One hen; two ducks.
  • One hen; two ducks; three squawking geese.
  • One hen; two ducks; three squawking geese; four Limerick oysters.
  • One hen; two ducks; three squawking geese; four Limerick oysters; five corpulent porpoises.
  • One hen; two ducks; three squawking geese; four Limerick oysters; five corpulent porpoises; six pairs of Don Alversos tweezers.
  • One hen; two ducks; three squawking geese; four Limerick oysters; five corpulent porpoises; six pairs of Don Alversos tweezers; 7,000 Macedonians in full battle array.
  • One hen; two ducks; three squawking geese; four Limerick oysters; five corpulent porpoises; six pairs of Don Alversos tweezers; 7,000 Macedonians in full battle array; eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt.
  • One hen; two ducks; three squawking geese; four Limerick oysters; five corpulent porpoises; six pairs of Don Alversos tweezers; 7,000 Macedonians in full battle array; eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt; nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity toward procrastination and sloth.
  • One hen; two ducks; three squawking geese; four Limerick oysters; five corpulent porpoises; six pairs of Don Alversos tweezers; 7,000 Macedonians in full battle array; eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt; nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity toward procrastination and sloth; 10 lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who hall stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery, all at the same time.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Office Never Revisited

Why is it that a show that looks like it could have such good potential, has to think that it has to condescend to the trash in this world to get viewers to watch it. Maybe it's because the majority of the people in this world are just that. They enjoy sick jokes; crude, demeaning behavior; and because it is so obscenely bold people laugh because of the shock of what's happening. I'm specifically referring to the 'Product Recall' and 'Women Appreciation Day' epsiodes, though the majority of them are introducing more swearing and lewd humor. Simply put I won't ever watch an episode of The Office again...I think I just might stay away from TV shows from here on out, unless I happen to get cable and then I can watch Nick at Nite and not have to worry about trash.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Favorite Lullabyes

Here are some of the lullabyes I remember my mom singing to me and that I'm now singing to Annalee. Maybe sometime I'll record the tune so you can see how it goes.

The Chocolate Choo Choo
By Vaughn Monroe


Look at that dandy,
Train made of candy,
Waiting on Peppermint Hill.
It's the Chocolate Choo Choo
Leaving for Sleepyville


Drowsy-eyed kiddies
Visit toy cities,
Sandman is paying the bill
On the Chocolate Choo Choo
Leaving for Sleepyville.


Little Boy Blue is the engineer
He's pouring on all the steam.
"All aboard, we're ready to go
To that magic land of dreams."


You'll see the train go
Over the rainbow,
You're bound to get a big thrill
On the Chocolate Choo Choo
Heading for Sleepyville.


Tell Me Why The Stars Do Shine


Tell me why the stars do shine,
Tell me why the ivy twines,
Tell me why the sky's so blue,
And then I'll tell you just why I love you.


Because God made the stars to shine,
Because God made the ivy twine,
Because God made the sky so blue,
Because God made you's why I love you.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Banner Is Unfurled

My dad introduced me to a new LDS book series entitled "A Banner Is Unfurled." To many it may look like another Work and the Glory, but it is so much more. It is based on the real life stories of the Johnson family and their struggles during the time of the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ. What makes this so much more enthralling is that my family is directly related to the Johnson family. The father, Ezekiel Johnson is my fifth great-grandfather, and Benjamin F. Johnson is my fourth great-grandfather.

Joel Johnson, Ezekiel's oldest son, wrote the words to the hymn, "High on the Mountain Top," giving the series it's title. All the accounts were pulled from their journals, and the authors (who are also related to them) fill in the gaps with what they've studied about church history and what they know of the characters in the Johnson family.

It has definitely been a testimony strengthener for me to feel so much more tied into the history of the church, to get to know my great-grandparents and see what sacrifices they made to follow the prophet Joseph Smith. It is incredible to read about their faith that kept their family together and the struggles that threatened to tear their family apart.

Even if you don't have any ties to the characters, this is an excellent series. Currently there are two books out, and I'm almost done with the second one.

For more info check out the book's website and an article from Meridian Magazine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Card Game: Golden Ten

I learned this game back on a 50 miler in northern New Mexico in 1998. I then honed my Golden Ten skills in Mr. Hicks' Physics class my Junior year in high school.

This game is related to Hearts, but is adapted to use with Rook cards for those who choose not to play with poker cards. A Rook deck consists of 57 cards, with four colors: Red, Green, Yellow, and Black. In each color, cards are numbered from 1 to 14, and then there is the Rook. For this game we will put the Rook card out of play.

Number of Players: 3-7

Object: Avoid winning tricks containing red cards, while trying to win the trick containing the Golden (yellow) 10.

The Deal: Deal cards one at a time as far as the deck will go, with each player receiving an equal number of cards. With 3, 5, or 6 players there wil be one or two cards left over, these are set aside and will be awarded to the winner of the first trick.

The Play: The player to the dealer's left starts by playing a card for the first trick. Play continues clock-wise in like manner. When playing to a trick you must, if possible, play a card of the same color as the lead card. If you have no cards of that color in your hand, you may play any card. The person who played the highest card of the color that led wins the trick and leads the next.

Winning: When all the cards have been played, each player counts the value of the cards in their tricks. Each red card counts 1 point against you, with exception to the red 5 and 10 which count against you with their full face value. The Golden (yellow) 10 counts as negative 10 points. Play to a predetermined score. Some variations have the Golden 10 only negating red points (max of 10), and if a player has less than 10 red points, the score is simply reduced to 0.

Source: http://www.pagat.com/reverse/golden10.html

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fun ways to save money

Sherrie and I have tried to put together a budget. We were successful for a month or two, and then we got lazy and haven't done anything for the last few months. Our spending habits haven't changed, but it was nice to know where our money was going in advance, and I think it did help us save more. The method we chose to use is the infamous envelope method. This required us to cash in part of our pay checks and put the cash in its respective envelope (Medical, Gas, Food, Entertainment, Eating out, Fun, etc.). I think it will still work, but I ran into a website called savemoneygames.com. It has a ton of games you can play to help make saving fun. Not all of them are going to help you be a millionaire, but they help you to be more prepared for little emergencies.

For example, one is called the Pay to Use Game. You start off with one appliance, let's say your washing machine. Every time you use your washing machine you deposit $1.00 (a standard price to use a washer in a laundromat). The money that is saved here can then be used for washer repairs, or to purchase a new washer in the future with cash. It will also help you to make sure you use your washer more efficiently. Once you get one appliance down, then you move to others. Some of the other ideas are:
  • $.50 every time the refrigerator is open
  • $1 for every degree you raise the temperature of your heater in the winter
  • $2 every time you get in your car to go somewhere
This is just one of the numerous ideas on this website. I highly recommend giving it a look. If anything it will make money a much less stressful issue in your home and add a little more fun to your life :) .

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bleachers: On Perfection, Forgiveness, and Fame

I just finished a great book by John Grisham, the second one of his that I've read and that has nothing to do with lawyers. A Painted House was the first I read and loved and I just finished Bleachers. Bleachers took me a few hours to read and had me reeled in from the beginning. To not give away too much of what happens in the book I thought I'd discuss a few of the themes that are present throughout the book: Perfection, Forgiveness, and Fame. I suggest reading the book before reading on, unless you don't mind some of the plot being exposed by my own potentially skewed perception.

Eddie Rake is a star of a coach; I drew many parallels to Coach Herman Boone, Denzel Washington's role in Remember the Titans. His players all either loved him or hated him. Most who hated him come to realize later in life that that passion that they felt toward him wasn't hate but actually love. (It's amazing how closely related those two terms are. A passionate feeling you feel towards something. The true opposite to love, in my opinion is apathy or indifference.)

The apathetic and the indifferent were the true losers in the eyes of Eddie Rake. When he first arrived in Messina as coach in 1958 the team thought they had had a pretty good year the previous year having a record of 3 and 7 (or something similar) and having beat a particular school. Rake, hearing this, proclaimed them losers. I thought that was kind of harsh, but when you come to think of it, they were happy with something much less than perfection. They were indifferent or apathetic to the thought of reaching perfection. Eddie Rake spent the next 34 years trying to teach every player that anything less than perfection was failure. This is a hard concept, but I don't think he believed it 100%. He knew that if they weren't striving for perfection they were then failures, not if they weren't perfected.

Many of the players later in life found that their lives were being governed on the thought of whether or not Rake would be pleased with what they were doing in that instance. Their coach became somewhat of a second conscience to them, someone they lived to please and feared to disappoint. In this light, I drew many parallels to God and his love for us. We should know his love for us so well that we crave his appraisal and shrink at his disappointment. He wants us to strive for perfection, knowing that in this life we will always fall short of it.

Eddie Rake was no saint, he made some pretty bad mistakes that he regretted to the end of his life. He tried hard to make amends, but forgiveness didn't come easy. Forgiveness requires two parts. The first (though not a requirement for the second) is that the perpetrator must show some form of repentance and desire to be forgiven. The second requires the victim to accept the apology on the grounds that the Savior's atonement will take care of the rest, and that justice belongs to God. If one or the other is not fulfilled, the person responsible (victim or perpetrator) is at greater fault.

However, just because one is forgiven doesn't mean that life starts again as if nothing had ever happened. Trust is not required in the act of forgiving, but must be regained by the perpetrator at great cost.

One other theme I find interesting is that when young people become so famous at such a young age, rarely do they amount to anything. Neely Crenshaw comments, "When you're famous at eighteen, you spend the rest of your life fading away." They expect the fame and glory they gained as kids to be sustained throughout life, and when it doesn't they literally fade away. Look at the lives of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, the Olsen twins, etc. These are just movie/television stars that naturally get more media coverage, but the fame is the same no matter the profession, and I imagine the effects don't change either. I'd like to finish with one of my favorite poems by Percy Shelley that resonates with the same thoughts on fame and glory:
OZYMANDIAS

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Annalee Update

You'd think that once school is out I'd have all the time in the world to keep my blog up-to-date. It's a lot harder to be disciplined when there aren't any grades hanging in the balance. On to the main reason most people come to my blog...

Annalee had her two month appointment this last Friday and is doing great. She now weighs a total of 12 pounds (71%) and is in the mid-40th percentile for height and head circumference. She didn't take to the immunizations all that well. From what I was told she cried most of the day and must have worn herself out. Every night since then she's slept at least 8 hours and a whopping 10 hours Saturday night! She's smiling a whole lot more and she'll even laugh once in a while!

I've been thinking of co-authoring a recipe blog with Sherrie. I haven't brought it up to her, but I thought it might be a good place to share recipes (for anyone else who's interested) and other helpful cooking hints. I'm no Emeril, I just like good food.

Maybe I should make a separate blog for my technical musings, anyone opposed to that idea? Gimme some feedback.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Frucall, the smart way to shop

I was reading one of my more favorite blogs and stumbled upon a most ingenious new service called Frucall. I believe it's a play on the word frugal. The idea is best described in a situation.

Suppose you've just received some birthday money from aunt Bertha and you've decided you want a new watch. You're at the store and they've got the watch you want and it's being sold at 15% off of the original store price! The sale only lasts that day and you're not sure if you'll have time to check out other stores and get back to purchase it. You then remember that you've subscribed to the free service Frucall. You dial the number (1-888-DO-FRUCALL), enter the barcode of the item, and then you're told the range of prices that exact watch is being sold for on the internet. You then know where you can save the most money on that watch.

This is awesome! I tried this on a few items I had laying around my desk and sure enough it worked. Not only does it just tell you the prices, it lets you leave voice memos for certain items, bookmark certain items so you can come back to them and not have to remember the barcode. You also have the option to receive text messages with the prices, or browse the web on your home computer and enter in the product code and see the range of prices from Amazon.com, Froogle, etc. You also have the option to buy right at that moment from one of the sellers over the phone.

I hope this isn't sounding like a sales pitch, the service is free. I'm just excited because this is something I've always dreamed of, being the hesitant buyer that I am.

How to Pick the Best Produce

I ran across a blog posting that outlined 5 steps to picking the best produce. I haven't had much of an opportunity to try them out for myself, but I'll be sure to do so and update this post when I do. Here they are:
  • "Good produce weighs more than you expect." Pick up several items and choose the heaviest one. "Works for citrus, works for corn, works for melons, works for tomatoes, works for celery, heck, it works for garlic bulbs…it just works for everything."
  • "Good produce smells good. If you don’t smell anything and especially if it feels light, it means it’s mealy and dry."
  • "Good produce has a firm cut end." If the end where the fruit is cut is mush or slimy, pass it by. "Side tip for corn: feel the tip through the husk. The fatter, less pointed tip is the ear you want. Very pointy tips means the ear hasn’t filled out."
  • "Good produce is not the biggest." The best size is medium to medium-small. Once the fruit gets much bigger the taste is diluted. A plant can only produce so much "sugars, acids, fragrances, flavors, secondary plant products, water."
  • "Good produce ripens with its friends... The truth is that many fruits ripen in the presence of ethylene gas, and that ripe fruit produces more ethylene gas. Baskets and bins often produce an enclosed space so that the fruit at the bottom of the bin or basket gets a bigger whiff of ethylene and therefore ripens faster."

Monday, April 23, 2007

I'm Free!

In the words of Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course." I'm done with school, possibly forever!!! Don't be discouraged, I haven't had much time to add anything other than technology related articles for class purposes. Give me a few days to start adding some more friendly material. In the meantime, be sure to check out the new pictures of Annalee.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

IA: Enterprise Information Architecture

Enterprise Information Architecture had no meaning to me before the class I took at BYU. I had heard that it was very challenging and way over some students’ heads. Knowing this, I decided I was going to be one of the few people that grasped the concepts that would be taught in the course, and that I would make a big effort in doing whatever extra research I had to in order to better understand the material presented in class.

EIA basically deals with the way an enterprise collects, manages, and monitors the enormous amounts of data that it processes.

The main areas of the course consisted of:

  • SOA
    • Web services- introduction to SOAP, WSDL
  • MDA
  • Enterprise Scalability
    • Research projects presented in class on a wide range of topics, my area of research was on scaling a PostgreSQL DBMS.
  • Database Optimization
    • particularly with MySQL
  • Error logging and messaging

I can start off by saying that not a single one of these topics came easy to understand. The one topic that came remotely easy to understand was error logging and messaging since that is the nature of my job as I described in a previous post. This is my attempt to make an over-arching analysis of what I have learned and how it will help me as I transition from school to the start of my career.

Service Oriented Architecture

An Enterprise SOA doesn’t really need an implementation. It has a lot of agility. If a certain direction is taken with the architecture, constraints are added and you cross over into paralysis. A good example of this is Microsoft Windows. In order to keep their customer base they have to, in some way, support all (or most) previous versions of their OS. Omniture has a specific architecture and business and they have to build it accordingly—their enterprise software is tightly coupled.

A service oriented Architecture is loosely coupled and highly cohesive. The elements of the architecture are modular in nature and are not restrictively bound to other parts of the architecture. Each service does one thing in one location. A service could be defined as anything that gives a response to a request to a published interface. Examples services are web services, DBMS’s, SVN, OS services, and Enterprise service bus.

Some of the technologies used in a SOA include, but are not limited to: XML, web services, SOAP, WSDL, JDBC, Java EE, J3CA, WS-BPEL, BPEJA, SLDFJO.

We concluded that SOA is a software architecture (blue print for the construction of a system) that is based on the key concepts of an application front end, service, service repository, and service bus. A service consists of a contract, one or more interfaces, and an implementation..

The web services assignment was rather difficult dufe to the fact that I had never even heard of SOAP and WSDL. I programmed mine in PHP, and after many long hours of research, help from classmates, and dabbling in different languages I was able to successfully implement my first web service.

MDA

I see Model Driven Architecture as a great way of better integrating a company’s systems with their business model. The idea of mapping out a businesses processes and then feeding it into a program that can then take those diagrams and spit out the code to get those processes integrated is ingenious. Some more of my research can be found in an earlier article on my blog.

Enterprise Scalability

Our group research project was on scaling a PostgreSQL DBMS. I had had no experience at all with PostgreSQL, but learned a lot about DBMS’s in general by doing this assignment. I understand now that to scale up a database means to tune the settings and RAID configurations, whereas scaling out deals more with distributing the DBMS to other physical systems in a cluster.

Database Optimization

This was definitely one of the more challenging projects of the semester. Granted I did put it off to finish it until the last day of class, but I did spend a lot of time during the semester trying to understand what optimizing really means. I had had trouble importing the databases Dr. Liddle gave us access to before the class period where he started showing us how to tune the queries. Most of the time in class I spent trying to figure out how to load the databases so that I could follow along with his lecture. That didn’t work, and I just got more lost after that. I figured that since other people in the class were struggling in the same area I could get together with them. When that didn’t happen I sadly realized I was on my own.

I did get quite a bit out my research, some of which I posted on my blog and all of which can be found in my final DBO assignment that I emailed to Dr. Liddle.

Error Logging and Messaging

Some of the points we made in class about what error logging should be are as follows:

  • Error messages should be human readable

· Should tell user, if not tech savvy, what to do and who to give the information to

· Clearly indicate something has gone wrong, as well as criticality

· Preserve as much of the users data as possible when the error is detected

Good error messages should contain the following:

  • Dialog box
  • Attention directing icon
  • Description, Context (ability to reproduce the error, time stamp)
  • Possible actions
  • Log messages
  • Action buttons (undo/restore…)
  • Auto reporting (send error to developer)
  • Identifier that tells you what caused the error

With the job I currently hold I’ve seen many personal applications dealing with error logging and messaging. This posting enumerates this area of my job.