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.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Public image.

I use Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot, LinkedIn, and maybe another social networking site or two.  There are so many nowadays that I can never remember where I have accounts.  The point is that I'm out there for the world to see.  I choose to be involved in such sites because I enjoy being connected to people.  Many times have I considered deleting certain accounts, but I never do because of the relationships that would be lost.  Social networks are powerful tools.  But like actual power tools, social networks can do more bad than good if put into the wrong hands.

A recent article in the Deseret News reminds us that employers often seek information about applicants using social networking sites.  It is surprising to discover that one third of hiring mangers reported not hiring someone because of their online profiles.  One third?  Why, then, do people consistently post things about themselves that would drive employers away?  It is mind-boggling to me.

The opposite can also be true, according to the report.  Some employers are pleased to find that an applicant is well-rounded with a healthy personal life.  Social networks can show someone's creativity and character as well.

The lesson: think before you post.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rings and things

A lot has happened since my last post, and the things that have happened are significantly more important than student protests at Utah State.

I got engaged.

Strange, I know.  Me.  Engaged.

While it is true that I am engaged in many good causes, I am speaking of my engagement to a wonderful woman named Blair.  At the time of my previous post, Blair and I had gone on one date.  Now, a mere 4 months later, we are so official that even Facebook can confirm our engagement.

We will be married on July 19th in the St. George temple.  We are both very excited, and hope you can join us when we get hitched!  Details pending.