Monday, December 28, 2009

Watchmen

Watchmen Watchmen by Alan Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first comic book/graphic novel I've read (not sure if they're even separate genres). Talk about complex psychological characters... It was definitely a lot smarter read than I thought. I've never thought of giving much credit to the comic book genre, but it can definitely conjure up some pretty complex plots and moral dilemmas.

This was a little bloodier than I imagined, the language was fairly heavy, I was mainly irked at the frequency of the use of God's name in vain (in a book that pretty much was set in a place where God did not exist, probably juxtaposed to emphasize the absence of God), and a few sexual escapades, mostly occurring off-page. The human race is made to be inherently savage, almost nobody able to stand up for good.

Good and evil were too convoluted, though Rorschach, who seems to be the most morally strict (though somewhat deranged - though probably excusable considering the world he lived in), seems to be the one person you end up caring for the most and ends up getting blasted for wanting to do what is right (again, without any higher moral law to ascribe to, could it possibly be right?). Can good and evil be as black and white as a Rorschach test? To those who are morally inane, probably not, but being worthy of divine enlightenment, I do believe it is possible.

This definitely won't be my last comic read. I think I might take a stab at The Dark Knight next. Any other recommendations?

View all my reviews.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Return of the Prodigal Son

The Return of the Prodigal Son The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing insight on the parable of the Prodigal son. His doctrinal interpretation transcend any religious barriers. One of the 12 Apostles (Jeffrey Holland) referenced this book in his talk a few years back on the topic of the other (referring to the elder son) prodigal son.

His overall conclusion is that our ultimate goal in this life is not only to make our way back to the Father, but to become like Him.

"...I was prepared to accept that not only the younger son, but also the elder son would reveal to me an important aspect of my spiritual journey. For a long time the father remained 'the other,' the one who would receive me, forgive me, offer me a home, and give me peace and joy. The father was the place to return to, the goal of my journey, the final resting place. It was only gradually and often quite painfully that I came to realize that my spiritual journey would never be complete as long as the father remained an outsider...

"What I am called to make true is that whether I am the younger or the elder son, I am the son of my compassionate Father. I am an heir. No one says it more clearly than Paul when he writes: 'The Spirit himself joins with our spirit to bear witness that we are children of God. And if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, provided that we share his sufferings, so as to share his glory' [Romans 8:16-17]. Indeed, as son and heir I am to become successor. I am destined to step into my Father's place and offer to others the same compassion that he has offered me. The return to the Father is ultimately the challenge to become the Father."

View all my reviews...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On Moral Fiction

On Moral Fiction (A Harper Torchbook- TB 5069) On Moral Fiction by John Champlin Gardner Jr.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great book. I've been working on a movie review blog that comments on the moral value of movies, and Gardner's book has added a lot of value to my critical analysis process. The first part of the book was most valuable to what I needed, subtitled, "Premises on Art and Morality."

He says that all art should to some extent promote good. A few quotes from his book,
"If art destroys good, mistaking it for evil, then that art is false, an error; it requires denunciation."

"To Plato it seemed that if a poet showed a good man performing a bad act, the poet's effect was corruption of the audience's morals. Aristotle agreed with Plato's notion that some things are moral and others not; agreed, too, that art should be moral; and went on to correct Plato's error. It's the total effect of an action that's moral or immoral."

"True art...clarifies life, establishes models of human action, casts nets toward the future, carefully judges our right and wrong directions, celebrates and mourns. It does not rant. It does not sneer or giggle in the face of death, it invents prayers and weapons. It designs visions worth trying to make fact."

View all my reviews.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Day No Pigs Would Die

A Day No Pigs Would Die A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a great story. Definitely a tear jerker, very similar type of story as To Kill a Mockingbird or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with exception that it was not really a commentary on the ills of society. It was an introspective story sharing themes of hard work, a loving and trusting father/son relationship, owning up to your responsibilities. It's a quick read, so go for it.

View all my reviews

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Farenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the first part of the book better than the second half. The second part of the book was more of the philosophical ponderings of the action that took place at the beginning. I didn't think this book was so much about censorship as it was about the importance of standing up for what is right. Censorship (e.g., burning books) just happened to be what so many people failed to prevent from happening. There's also quite a commentary on the evils of the mass media and how television is damaging because it give the viewer no time to think or imagine, but forces emotions and thoughts. I'm glad I listened to it on audio tape, because I may have had a hard time finishing it.

View all my reviews.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Selfish Republican

A few posts ago I got on my soap box and didn't have time to fully address the issue of how being selfish is in all of our best interest.

I read an article where the author was rather perturbed by an article he read in Time magazine that basically said that because so many people lost money in their 401(k)s in 2008 that that investment engine was broke and we need to reach out to those people and find a new investment engine other than the stock market. This is just another case of someone passing the blame from themselves. It really isn't our place to judge who was smart (those who educated themselves on investing and diversified their investments, becoming more conservative as they approached retirement) and who wasn't (those who didn't take the time to get educated and as a result made poor decisions). A lot of people's losses could have been mitigated if they had a diversified investment portfolio (and just because I use this vocabulary doesn't mean I'm an expert). I just hope the government doesn't decide to create more taxes on the responsible to help the irresponsible.

All those who happened to be unfortunate "victims" of the recent recession are individuals who either have family or friends or churches to go to in the event that they need help (everyone does, but my focus is on those who think they are victims). The victim's first recourse should be to family, not to the government. Parents spend years upon years 100% devoted to the welfare of their children; it is not enough for their children to simply pass on their legacy by being good parents themselves, they need to be good children and support their parents in their old age, particularly in the event that their parents are affected by some late-life financial loss (regardless of the children feel about their parents' wisdom in investing).

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin (a prophet that lived in the Americas circa 100 BC) teaches that we shouldn't restrict our helping the poor because we believe that the reason they're in their situations is their own fault.
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
This is wrong and sinful. We should be willing to give freely to all.

The church should be a way that the community one lives in has an opportunity to serve.  In our church we donate money monthly to our congregation to help out with any of their financial needs.  Money goes out to help with rent, utilities, food, medical expenses, counseling, etc.  We are not forced to and yet so many are so willing to help their spiritual brothers and sisters.

The government should never force us to give our money away to the less fortunate. According to the preamble of the U.S. Consititution, government exists
to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.

Don't try to argue that "if the government doesn't force us to help our fellow beings all the less fortunate will be much worse off." Have a little faith in your fellowman! If we were taxed less because the government cuts back on taxes (taxes that basically redistributes the wealth of the better-off folks), it would find that the less fortunate would be much better-off because people are genuinely interested in the welfare of their neighbors and don't need to be forced to be charitable. Everyone would be happier because they are given the opportunity to exercise their God-given agency. Sure there would be those that would care less, but such is the purpose of this life: to choose liberty and eternal life or captivity and death.

Going back to the title of this post (forgive the stereotypes), Democrats tend to want the Government to expand to be able to help more people (e.g., FDR after the Great Depression, Obama with Health Care), Republicans want more freedom from government in order to choose for themselves how to help those around them and not be forced by some unconstitutional hand. I'm of the opinion that less government gives us more freedom, allowing us to make choices that will allow us greater happiness, and sadly also greater sorrow.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Vista Error Code 19: Where'd my disc drives go???

All of a sudden Vista said that both of my optical drives did not exist.  I could boot from a CD when restarting the computer, but once Vista loaded I couldn't access them.  They showed up in the Device Manager, but with little yellow warning signs.  The DM claimed the drivers were up to date, and the only info I got was this message in the drive properties:
"Windows cannot start this hardware device because its configuration information (in the registry) is incomplete or damaged. (Code 19)"
I tried System Restore, but was only able to restore it 3 days earlier, and it didn't help any.  I tried disabling and uninstalling the drivers to no avail.  I even unplugged the drives from the power source and moved them around then plugged them back in hoping to jar something into recognition.  I spent hours searching forums for an answer and finally came across this site which suggested deleting some entries in the registry.  Very Risky, but I thought it was worth a try.  So after exporting my registry I made the recommended deletions and restarted, and Voila! it worked!  Craziness.  Hopefully Windows 7 will be a little more reliable.

Here are the instructions I followed (Repeat them at your own risk!):
  1. Click MY COMPUTER at the top of the list, click FILE, then EXPORT
  2. Browse to a folder that is esy to access such as My Documents
  3. Type a filenme that is easy to remember, such as RegBackup
  4. Click SAVE to backup the registry.
  5. Click the small plus sign (+) next to each of the following folders
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
    • SYSTEM
    • Select
  6. Double click the default key and note the value Data number. This value data is used in the next step.
  7. Click the small plus sign (+) next to each of the following folders
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
    • SYSTEM
    • CONTROLSET001 (IF the default value data was 1) or Controlset002 (If the default value data was 2)
    • Control
    • Class
    • {4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}
  8. Right click LOWERFILTERS from the right side of the window and click Delete
  9. Right click UPPERFILTERS from the right side of the window and click DELETE
  10. Exit registry editor and restart the computer.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Becoming Better Citizens, part 2

I've been thinking a lot lately at what more I need to do (with all my free time...) to be a better citizen.
  • Stay up-to-date on U.S./World/Local news and government proceedings
  • Be familiar with the Constitution and other important political literature
  • Research candidates for elections that you can participate in and vote
  • Pray for you elected officials (whether you voted for them or not)
  • Read the Book of Mormon
  • Other ideas are in the presentation I posted a while ago (some reiterated above)
I can't imagine this list is exhaustive.  What do you do to be a better citizen?  Does anyone volunteer time in their community or other areas?  If so where and when?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Obama to talk to our elementary school kids?

Apparently Pres. Obama is going to broadcast a speech to all elementary age kids via the internet on September 8, 2009. Of course there's a lot of speculation as to what he's going to "indoctrinate" our kids with. Given that elementary age kids were advocating healthcare reform at Ted Kennedy's funeral, and in light of the hot topic of healthcare, there's a chance Obama might ask these impressionable kids to urge their parents to be more supportive of this national need and brainwash them into becoming liberals.

I find that ridiculous. Pres. Obama may be shrewd and silver-tongued, but I don't think he'd stoop low enough to speak of something so meaningless to elementary school kids, where they would be better off reviewing for their upcoming spelling test. It's the first day of school for children across the nation, and I think he'd just like to give them some encouragement to work hard.

However, I believe that the federal government should have nothing to do with public education, and that by being so involved they actually make learning less effective. "No child left behind"? I believe that does everything to leave behind those kids who are most likely to succeed and focuses on those who will have less influence on our country's future. By serving the bottom of the barrel (be it education, or healthcare, or welfare, etc.) our government is denying better programs for our country.

To be continued with a discussion on "The Selfish Republican."

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Becoming Better Citizens

We've decided to dedicate our 5th Monday family nights to learning more about our country and how to become better citizens.  I ran across a couple articles by Ezra Taft Benson (America at the Crossroads and Christ and the Constitution) on the website latterdayconservative.com, a great reference for talks and quotes by LDS church leaders regarding the importance of being active citizens in our families, communities, and Nation.  Below are some of the highlights I pulled from those two talks as well as an awesome video on the War in Heaven.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Where do you get your news?


Please answer the poll on the right and add any comments/advice you have below.

I've recently purchased an online subscription to our city newspaper ($5/mo.). Up until now I've been mainly going to various news websites (and plan to continue to do so), but have felt somewhat disconnected from what goes on in the city I live in.

How valuable is a newspaper (online or in print) compared to the tons of information you can get for free on the internet? For one the internet is disorganized and a big time consumer and a newspaper has limited space to tell you what's going on. On the other hand, the news on the internet is mostly free.

Does your method of reading the news encourage you to participate as much as you can? Do you get informed enough to feel comfortable to voice your views to your government representatives or are able to make an informed argument for one policy or another?

What do you all think? What do you do?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Cannibal King

This is probably one of my favorite songs I learned at scout camp. Sorry, I will not be posting an audio file of me singing it (unless you need it for a campout or court of honor, in which case I'd be happy to help).

Oh, the cannibal king with the big nose ring
Fell in love with the Indian ma-a-aid
And every night by the pale moon light
Across the stream he wa-a-de

He'd hug and he kiss his pretty little miss
Underneath the bamboo tree-e-e
And every night by the pale moon light,
It sounds like this to me-e-e:

A-ROOMP (kissing sound) (kissing sound)
A-ROOMP (kissing sound) (kissing sound)
Honey won't you marry me-e-e?
A-ROOMP (kissing sound) (kissing sound)
A-ROOMP (kissing sound) (kissing sound)
Underneath the bamboo tre-e-e.

If you'll be M-I-N-E mine
I'll be T-H-I-N-E thine
And I'll L-O-V-E love you
All the T-I-M-E time
You are the B-E-S-T best
Of all the R-E-S-T rest
And I'll L-O-V-E love you
All the T-I-M-E time!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cool New Music

I've found some new really cool music and thought I'd share it with everyone. Not that my previous tastes have changed, I've just found more music that I enjoy. Most of this has been discovered via lala.com and further tested on grooveshark.com if I haven't decided to buy the song off of lala and I've already used up my one free listen for whatever time period they track it for.

Jack White has got quite the talent. He's with the White Stripes (if they're still going with his divorce - he was in it with his now ex-wife), he's done some solo work and duets, he's also in two other bands, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather. I love the song he did for the latest James Bond movie with Alicia Keys and I love about 80% of the songs on the latest Raconteurs CD. The Raconteurs are like a mix of great 70's classic rock - Boston, Led Zeppelin, Kansas, CSNY, etc. Check out this song:



The Dead Weather, at first listen, was amazing too, but after listening to it a second time I was less impressed and found it more disturbing than likeable.



The Flaming Lips is a band I haven't heard too much of, but the few songs I've heard, I really like. I was introduced to them several years ago, but just am now rediscovering them.


Glen Hansard, at least from the Once sound track, has some great talent as well. Almost a Cat Stevens sort of sound, but with a lot more emotion. AND it's written in 5/4! (which is pretty cool).



I've also come across some great Latin music just by listening to it occasionally on the radio and then looking up the song title and artist by typing its lyrics into Google. Here's a sample of a few:

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Receiving Enlightenment through the Study of the Book of Mormon

The following is a talk I gave in church today on the Book of Mormon. It really helped me gain a stronger testimony of it and realize the universal help it can provide, particularly in recognizing false political, educational, and philosophical ideals.

"One of the great families to join the Church in Canada was that of Archibald Gardner. From his journal, we learn of the family's experience in Canada during the year 1843. "Robert Gardner describes the day of their baptism: 'We went about a mile and a half into the woods to find a suitable stream. We cut a hole through ice eighteen inches thick. My brother William baptized me. . . . I was confirmed while sitting on a log beside the stream. . . .  

"'I cannot describe my feelings at the time and for a long time afterwards. I felt like a little child and was very careful of what I thought or said or did lest I might offend my Father in Heaven. Reading the Scriptures and secret prayer occupied my leisure time. I kept a pocket Testament constantly with me. When something on a page impressed me supporting Mormonism, I turned down a corner. Soon I could hardly find a desired passage. I had nearly all the pages turned down. I had no trouble believing the Book of Mormon. Every time I took the book to read I had a burning testimony in my bosom of its truthfulness.'" (Pres. Monson, Ensign, November 1990)

The Book of Mormon Brings Us Closer to Christ

Pres. Benson:

"The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel. It testifies of His divinity and of the necessity of a redeemer and the need of our putting trust in Him. It bears witness of the Fall and the Atonement and the first principles of the gospel, including our need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit and a spiritual rebirth. It proclaims we must endure to the end in righteousness and live the moral life of a Saint.  

Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention (2 Nephi 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon is similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time." – (Pres. Benson, Witness and a Warning, p.3)

Pres. Hinckley: 

I know of no other writing which sets forth with such clarity the tragic consequences to societies that follow courses contrary to the commandments of God. Its pages trace the stories of two distinct civilizations that flourished on the Western Hemisphere. Each began as a small nation, its people walking in the fear of the Lord. But with prosperity came growing evils. The people succumbed to the wiles of ambitious and scheming leaders who oppressed them with burdensome taxes, who lulled them with hollow promises, who countenanced and even encouraged loose and lascivious living. These evil schemers led the people into terrible wars that resulted in the death of millions and the final and total extinction of two great civilizations in two different eras. 

No other written testament so clearly illustrates the fact that when men and nations walk in the fear of God and in obedience to His commandments, they prosper and grow, but when they disregard Him and His word, there comes a decay that, unless arrested by righteousness, leads to impotence and death. The Book of Mormon is an affirmation of the Old Testament proverb: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). (Pres. Hinckley, Ensign, August 2005)

Keep the Commandments

How many times are we promised that if we keep the commandments of God, we will prosper in the land? And to further describe this prosperity, King Benjamin said, 

“And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” (Mosiah 2:41)

D&C 84:49-51,54-57 

49 And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.

50 And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me. (Lee: and one of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is to bring us closer to Christ.) 

51 For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin. 54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— 

55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. 

56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. 

57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.

Not all Scripture is Equal 

We have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should. Our homes are not as strong unless we are using it to bring our children to Christ. Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, and so forth. (W and W, p.6) 

Not all truths are of equal value, nor are all scriptures of the same worth. What better way to nourish the spirit than to frequently feast from the book which the Prophet Joseph said would get a man "nearer to God by abiding its precepts, than by any other book"? (W and W, p.10)

Teaching our Children 

Alma 23:6 – After Ammon and his brethren overcome the trials of bringing the gospel to the Lamanites, seven of the Lamanite cities were converted and it was said of them, 

“And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away.” 

If our children and grandchildren are taught and heed these same truths, will they fall away? We best instruct them in the Book of Mormon at our dinner table, by our firesides, at their bedsides, and in our letters and phone calls - in all of our goings and comings. 

Some spiritually alert parents hold early-morning devotionals with their families in their homes. They have a hymn, prayer, and then read and discuss the Book of Mormon. (W and W, p.11)

Personal Thoughts 

“The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come” (Introduction). Just previous to His visit, the land was filled with evil, robbers, darkness, and all manner of wickedness. The only thing that could disperse this darkness was the Savior. So it is in our lives, no matter how dark or sinful or dismal our lives are, the Lord is the only one who can help us. So why not read and abide by the precepts of the book that will bring us closer to Him than any other book? 

Paraphrasing Elder Nelson, “[The Book of Mormon] can help with personal problems in a very real way. Do you want to get rid of a bad habit? Do you want to improve relationships in your family? Do you want to increase your spiritual capacity? Read the Book of Mormon!”

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Better Understanding the 5th Article of Faith

My wife took on the challenge to memorize the Articles of Faith in Spanish, and since she posted them on the shower door, I decided to try it too.  As I was going through them, I got to the 5th Article and reading it in Spanish changed a very important part of the meaning for me.  

For those who are familiar with the tune that the article is put to in the Children's Song book, that's generally how I'm able to recall most of the Articles of Faith in English, the way that it's sung never fully made sense to me, since it didn't emphasize the punctuation.  There's a pause between "laying on of hands" and "by those..." but you don't hear the pause where the comma is between "authority" and "to preach...", which is where the Article explains to what end a man must be called of God.  I had always thought that it was saying that, "a man must be called ... by someone in authority who can preach the gospel and administer its ordinances."  But the comma between "authority" and "to preach" is very importand and makes it read instead that, "a man must be called ... by someone who has authority, SO THAT the man who is called can preach the gospel and administer its ordinances."  In other words men are called to preach the gospel and administer its ordinances, they aren't just called with no purpose by someone who happens to have the authority to preach and administer.

In Spanish, in addition to the comma, the article also says that a man must be called...so that he can preach the gospel... that's the translation of "a fin de que"
We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

Creemos que el hombre debe ser llamado por Dios, por profecia y la imposicion de manos, por aquellos que tienen la autoridad, a fin de que pueda predicar el evangelio y administrar sus ordenanzas.
I hope I explained the realization I came to well enough to be understood.  I'm not sure how many English speakers have thought the same thing, but my wife said that she always understood it the other way (the way I thought the article read) too.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Media Collection Managers

About a year ago I had posted about some media collection managers that I had tried out and liked.  Unfortunately the one I liked the most (DVDSpot) went away about six months ago and I haven't really found a comparable one yet.  The closest I've found is DVDCrate.com, which looks like almost the same code.  The one thing that makes it not that great is the uploading feature.  You have to have a list of all the UPC's to upload them, and I don't have a code scanner or the desire to buy one.  DVDSpot allowed you to upload a list of names and then you could select which one you owned if it came up with multiple versions of the same DVD.
  • I've tried IMDB.com's "My Movies" but there is no upload feature, so the only time I add a movie is after I see it and am on the movie page reading the trivia or other people's reviews.
  • A lot of people talk about DVD Aficionado, but it's just not an appealing website, and not worth it overall.  Similar to IMDB, you have to search for the movie to add it.
  • DVD Corral has had a most welcomed face lift, and I will have to try it out again.  [5 minutes later] In fact I just did, and I happened to find my old DVDSpot export which contained all the UPC's for the movies I owned at that point.  This one actually has me excited!
Anyone else using an online collection manager they love?  Maybe one that does books and music as well?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Tackling the Old Testament

My wife and I have set a goal to read the entire Old Testament by the end of the year.  I've done most of the Sunday School, Institute, and missionary Old Testament schedules, but they never seem to have you read everything (or at least I never get to finish reading everything).  Three months into the year, we've done pretty well.  We're currently in the book of Numbers and have read bits and pieces of some other books later on in the Old Testament.  I thought I'd share some of the resources we've been using to help make this an enjoyable and enriching experience.

This website has a ton of resources.  Specifically for the scriptures, there's a tab for Scripture Discussions and that includes scriptural diiscussions with several professors of Ancient Scripture/Writings from Brigham Young University.  Each discussion is 30 minutes and covers a handful of chapters at a time (e.g., Numbers 1-7).

Reading Schedules
I found a reading schedule online that scheduled the entire Old Testament to be read over the process of an entire year.  It doesn't have you reading from beginning to end (mostly).  It has you reading from the beginning on Monday-Friday, on Saturday you read 3 Psalms, and on Sunday you read 1 chapter of Solomon's writings and 4 chapters from Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.).  I like this approach, but I think I might try switching to reading straight through and not jump around.

Audio Files
Scriptures.lds.org allows you to download the audio files for all of the scriptures.  I've found the narrator for the Old Testament to be a very good reader.  He's helped the Old Testament language not seem too archaic.

Dearscriptures.com is a pretty cool website that also has all the text for the LDS scriptures, but allows you to take notes and highlight them online.  You simply setup an account and it tracks all the changes you make to your set of online scriputres.  It also allows you to listen to them and even setup an online community of friends so that you can share your latest insights with.  It's still pretty new and may have a few glitches, but the developer is very quick to respond to any feedback you have, just be sure that you can replicate any problem you submit to him.

Set a Goal
Setting a goal always help us accomplish something we want (or need) to do.  What's made it even easier is setting working on the same goal with someone else.  This allows us (my wife and I) the opportunity to discuss the chapters we've read, try to figure out what the purpose of these incidents in the scriptures is for our understanding, etc.

Timeline
One last item that has made the Old Testament a bit more understandable is actually seeing all the events and important people laid out in a timeline.  I realize the book is written pretty much in chronological order, but having a visual representation of it all really helps.  LDS.org has a timeline for all of the scriptures, but they were in a single pdf file, and I didn't have a printer that could print on poster-size paper.  Sourceforge.net has a nice tool that will allow you to cut up a pdf file into the size you want, so I was able to cut the lds.org pdf file into individual pages that would fit on standard printer paper, and then we taped them together and put them on our wall

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Politics and Poverty

I got an email today showing that the one thing that the 10 US cities with the highest poverty rate have in common is that they've either had a democrat mayor for the last 20+ years or they've always had one.
"I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not making them easy in poverty but leading them or driving them out of it."

We've talked a lot about "change" in this country recently, but there's a much more important catchphrase that we've neglected: "All politics is local." Maybe instead of focusing so much on who we put in charge of our country, we should focus more on who we put in charge of our cities.
Both of these quotes came from a Glenn Beck post regarding the previously mentioned analysis (I came across it trying to validate the source of the analysis.) The last statement particularly struck me. This last election I was more apathetic than normal with regards to who became the next president (after it was down to McCain and Obama). I'd ask myself, "What is this person really going to be able to do over the next 4 years? They're just one piece of the huge political mess." But realizing that we've got to start small, with our own local officials (community, city, state, etc.) if we want to see any real changes take place.

I do realize the President does have a lot of power, he just exercised it earlier this week. But how he uses that power is pretty much outside of my circle of influence.

What do you all do to be involved at the local political level? (More than just participating in election).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Robots

Surrounded by robots.
Ideas and decisions
implanted by the unknown
control the populus.
Nothing is natural
Everyone knows what to do,
where to be, and
what to say.
I am alone.

Rodeado por robotes
Ideas y decisiones
ya estan hechas por todos
quienes estan bajo control.
Nada es natural
Todos ya saben todo que hacer,
a donde estar, y
que decir.
Estoy solito.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Marriage Advice

I read Robert L. Millet's Men of Valor a while back and loved it.  I need to go back and read it and write down some of the things in it so that I remember them better.  

One of the things I really liked about it was the advice he gives to newly weds.  Millet said that when his kids first started getting married, he had a laundry list of advice; but over time it's boiled down to two things that are needed to keep a strong marriage:
  1. Don't take offense
  2. Always assume the best
It's definitely not something easy or maybe even possible to achieve in this life, but it does definitely cover a lot of ground and has helped me better evaluate myself.  What do you think of this advice?