Thursday, October 23, 2014

Being a dad

Earlier this week I found myself in the backyard with my daughter.  We have a toddler slide on the grass that she loves.  She climbs up, slides down, climbs up, slides down and I never get sick of watching.  I picked her up and threw her in the air several times while she screamed and laughed.  It felt like I was in one of those slow-motion, dramatic videos of a father and daughter playing with each other.  Those videos are no longer cheesy to me.

I cannot get enough of watching her discover things, even when that thing is dirt and she is dumping it on her head.

She discovered dancing.  One day I peek over the couch and watch her spin, arms flailing, around and around like no one was watching.  That will brighten my life no matter what else has happened that day.

One of the things I love most about my daughter is her total innocence.  She's not out to impress anyone.  When she smiles I know she's happy.  When she cries I know she's upset.  She'll even stare at me straight in the eyes while she's messing her diaper without feeling ashamed.  I get the whole package: the raw, real personality.  And she's got a personality.  She's one of the loudest babies I've ever heard.

She knows Patty Cake, Itsy Bitsy Spider, what a dog says and what a cat says.  We're working on what a cow says, but she can point one out in a book every time.  She loves the outdoors.  She doesn't hesitate to go downstairs one step per step.  She loves bathes, and loved being naked.  Pictures of herself are among her favorite things.  She can talk, just not in English yet.

Above all, she loves her mom.

Funny how I'm discovering the joy of being a parent while watching my daughter discover life.

There is nothing quite like being a father.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Life's Hardest Decisions

The hardest decisions I have ever had to make were when there was no clear answer.  No right, no wrong.  Just a choice.

We learn that we fought over the freedom to choose before we came to this earth.  Free agency was a huge victory for us, and we rejoiced when it was clear that we would have that blessing.

So it's funny that sometimes we want decisions to be made for us.  Who do I marry?  Where do I work?  When do I have a baby?  What do I order for dinner?  Some decisions are plain and simple.  The choice is obvious.  Others, not so much.

I have been plagued with indecisiveness my entire life.  I enjoy company dinners when there is one, maybe two, options for dinner.  The fewer choices the better.  Opening a menu at a restaurant causes me much unnecessary stress.  My wife is often the same.

What do you get with two indecisive people?  I can't decide.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Reading" audiobooks

Throughout college I almost exclusively listened to KSL Newsradio, who was my employer at the time.  I couldn't listen to music anymore.  I craved news, and I think that personally knowing the radio hosts made my listening experience even more enjoyable.  I loved everything about the radio world and was sad to leave the industry upon graduating.  If I could make a living as a promotions assistant I probably would (that may be an exaggeration, but I really did love the job).

Now, being a few years removed from that world, my aversion to music radio still lives.  However, my listening preference has transitioned from newsradio to audiobooks.  I peruse through the county library in search of the next interesting book.  I've listened to everything from fantasy (Ender's Game) to classics (Catch-22) to history (1776).  Completing these books gives me something to talk about other than work.  I usually read or watch the news throughout the day anyway, so listening to it on the radio becomes redundant.  Also, the commute to Ogden is always peachy so the constant traffic updates are totally irrelevant to me.

I have some friends who are fully entrenched in the audiobook world.  We often ask each other for recommendations and reviews of the books we currently have.  It was not long after these discussions began that I noticed how we differently we described our experiences, and the difference was how we finished a book.  I listened to audiobooks.  My friends read audiobooks.

Big difference, in my opinion.

Someone saying they read, say, The Count of Monte Cristo, is a huge accomplishment.  It's several hundred pages long.  Can I say I read The Count of Monte Cristo if I watched a movie based on the novel?  No.  Of course, movies rarely follow a book word for word.  But what if a movie does?

Take, for example, Hamlet.  Or Much Ado About Nothing.  I know there are movies out there that have followed the books nearly (if not exactly) word for word.  So can I watch one of these and say that I read the book of the same title?  I don't think so.

I have never been a big reader myself.  But if I can include all the movies and audiobooks I've completed, I've got a pretty lengthy "Books I've Read" list.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014


My last post was in October 2012.  It was my solicitation for help with my personal statement.  Those darn personal statements.

I was looking through post on this blog and realized the big smile I had on my face.  So many good memories!  Between races, DC, Jordan, Ragnars, and other random things, I have had some great experiences.  I think it's about time I resurrect this blog.

Updates coming.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Personal Statement

Attempting to write a personal statement is quite possibly the most arduous thing I have encountered in all my years.  It is the most unique assignment I have ever had to complete, and possibly the most important.  It's sad that I cannot seem to write a captivating few pages about my life's history and what makes me unique.  I'm surprised anyone applying to graduate school ever completes this assignment.

While not the most interesting man alive, I have had several experiences that seem to set me apart.  Some came as I lived in Portugal for two years as a missionary for the LDS Church.  (This is common among Utah students, especially males, but I believe very unique to the rest of the country.)  Even more unique is learning a language to fluency, a skill that I cherish and hope to expand.  Consider living in a different country speaking a foreign language with only one arm.  That is how I spent a few months in Portugal after severing some tendons in my left wrist.  How many people can say that they have ridden in a Portuguese ambulance for an injury caused by shattering the glass panels on an apartment building door?  Few.

Other experiences came during college.  Though not the first and certainly not the last, I was an intern in the United States Congress for a semester.  Not only did I have the daily duties of answering phone calls, guiding tours through the Capitol, writing letters and attending meetings, I also had to write a 25 page research paper.  What else made that unique?  I was there for "the Blizzard of 2012" - a snow storm that rendered the city inoperable for a solid week or two.  I saw President Obama board Marine One from the White House lawn and shook the hand of legendary new anchor Dan Rather.

Another college experience was completing an internship in Amman, Jordan.  I went there on a whim, to be honest.  After being told that the Brazil internships were canceled, I looked to go somewhere else.  Browsing through the list of internships I found "Ministry of Social Development" in Jordan.  My initial response was to quickly turn the page - there was no way I was going to the Middle East.  I knew very little about the Middle East.  I knew Osama Bin Laden was hiding there, riots were happening there, and Jesus walked there.  Beyond that, I knew nothing about that region of the Earth.  Yet somehow I kept turning to that page to read more about the internship.  Then, out of curiosity I talked to an academic counselor about it.  Not only did I find myself turning in an application and resume, but I actually wanted to go.  I couldn't explain it.  I still can't.  But I am extremely glad that I went through with it.

I first found myself in the Middle East without a plan.  I knew I was going to be an intern, but that was it.  I had no home, no phone, no friend, and no ability to communicate.  Although I knew I should be panicking as I sat in the airport at 8 p.m. with nothing but my bags, I was totally calm.  My mom had told me before I boarded the plane that everything was going to be fine, so everything was going to be fine.  I bought a phone, met Vladimir from Russia, and together we split a cab to the city.  I spent two nights at a local church building before I was able to find an apartment.

It took me a month or so to really feel comfortable and safe.  Just when things were going great someone stole my bag containing everything important to me: passport, wallet, phone, camera, favorite hat.  Gone.  Being an American in a foreign land is one thing.  Being unidentifiable is another.  Fortunately I was able to replace the passport for a successful trip home, but it wasn't without hardship.

My trip to the Middle East was enlightening on several fronts.  I learned a lot about the world, especially Arabs, that I never can fully express through words.  To understand a people you must live among them.  I learned that I can do things for myself, but you must be able to work with others.  I learned that there are many different views in the world, and it is possible to respect each other.  I could go on.

That was much more about Jordan than I had expected to write.  I was just going to mention that I feel like a fairly dynamic person.  My resume attests to that.  I have worked at a radio station, car dealership, congressman's office, Middle Eastern office, and in the IT department of Utah's biggest car dealer.  Outside of work is no different.  I have run in dozens of races, weight lifted, played sports, acted, sung, danced, volunteered, and served - a lot of which was done while I was completing my bachelor's in Information Systems and a minor in Political Science.  I don't know why I have done many of the things above, but I don't regret it.

I guess the big question is: can I use any of that on my personal statement?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

And the Celtics go down.

I like LeBron James.

There.  I said it.

In fact, I hope he wins an NBA Championship.  This year, even.  I could not have been more pleased that the Heat finally put the aging Celtics to rest last week.  Any Celtics-lover or LeBron-hater is probably wondering what could possibly make me say these things.  Where do I begin?

Here's a guy who was drafted out of high school  Eventually he became the franchise player and the league MVP.  He decided to leave his rookie team in search of a championship.  He landed on a team where he would be sharing the spotlight with two other "superstars."

That's right.  I'm talking about Kevin Garnett

LeBron James was also drafted out of high school.  He also became the franchise player for the Cavs and the league MVP.  He also left his rookie team in search of a championship.  And yes, he landed on a team where he would be sharing the spotlight with two other "superstars."

People love KG.  People hate LJ.  I don't understand it.

"It's not what LeBron did.  It's how he did it."  Yes, I've heard this line of reasoning from, well, everyone.  I'm not saying that The Decision was a good idea.  In fact, I thought it was rather cheesy.  But imagine being the best player in the world, having had "the next Michael Jordan" thrown at you since early high school.  You aren't winning in Cleveland.  You need something else.

Didn't Kevin Garnett do the same thing?  

You then have this opportunity presented to you saying that you can raise millions of dollars for a charity by broadcasting your decision on television.

No, it was not a good idea.  At least the charity got a bunch of money.

So he made a bad decision.  In 2010.  A full two years ago.  Isn't it time to get over it?

The reaction to The Decision was ridiculous.  Sure, Cleveland fans deserved to be bothered.  But burning his jersey in the streets?  That's a bit extreme.  And Dan Gilbert's letter to the fans?  Absurd.

Like I said, The Decision was just bad.  We all know it.  But it's time to move on.  It's time to let go.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Predictive text victim

I'm no stranger to texts-gone-wrong.  Several times I have sent a text to the wrong person at the wrong time. But I've been pretty good about predictive texting.  I usually make sure my text says what I intend it to say, and I'm pretty particular about my grammar.

Not today.

My mother and two of my younger siblings traveled down to New Mexico to visit my sister.  Apparently my brother didn't bring any shoes.  (They left very early one morning so he claims to have simply forgotten to bring them.)

So I received this text from him this morning: "Don't be mad but I got new shoes."

Why would I be mad?*  Because this 14 year old boy has more shoes than any woman I know.  Nike survives off him.  He's got an obsession with shoes and socks that is unmatched.

I replied to his text: "You spoiled bum."

He jabbed: "Don't be jealous."

Sarcastically I responded with this: "Oh, Mommy, I accidentally forgot to bring my whore.  Could you go buy me some nice ones to hold me over?"

I received a call from my mother about 30 seconds after I pressed Send.

She told me I should apologize to my brother for what I had said.  I didn't get it.  Then she chastised me for my inappropriate text.

Inappropriate?  What was she talking about?

I sent "whore."  Not "shoes" like I had intended.  "Whore."  Just imagine the face of a teenage boy receiving those words from his older and (supposedly) more mature brother.  Not only did I accuse him of forgetting his whore (not shoes), but I suggested that his mother go buy him some nice ones to hold him over.

I hate texting.

*I wasn't really angry.  Simply dumbfounded.