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Showing posts from 2011

For the record

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Since I was 12 years old, I have kept a journal. For the past several years, I have made a project of typing up my journals. At first, I told myself it was for posterity. Apparently I trust Google's servers more than I trust that my residence will not burn to the ground. Then I decided the purpose of typing my old journals was to have a searchable record. Wouldn't it be great to be able to quickly find the entry about my first date or what it felt like to compete in the science fair?
Then, something extraordinary happened.

As I typed, I began to see an even greater purpose to keeping a record. I'm happy to report that over the last 12 years, I have become a better person! And I have proof! I learned that I have changed slowly, like we all do. We may struggle to notice change in ourselves day to day because we change so gradually. If it were not for my journals, I would not be able to say confidently that I have gradually become kinder, more selfless, less judgmental, and …

Love

First, I thought love is feeling that moves me to action.
Then I believed love is action that inspires me to feel.
At last, I learned it is neither.
Love is an attitude. An attitude that influences what I do and how I feel.
Love is the attitude I possess when the Holy Spirit reigns in my heart.


5 reasons to watch General Conference if you're not Mormon

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No matter who you are, General Conference has something for you. Trust me.

1. MoTab - The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is famous the world over for its inspirational performances. The choir provides music for most sessions of the conference. Enjoy their music and watch them perform in the beautiful conference center standing in front of an impressive organ. ← Click this. No, seriously.

2. Understand Mormons - Think about it...twice a year the leaders of a worldwide faith gather to instruct believers. What does the Mormon prophet teach 14 million members of the church? There's only one way to find out!
3. Linguistic Miracle - General Conference is a logistical miracle. Five two-hour sessions are broadcast live in over 90 languages! That's crazy! Check out the fact sheet
4. Uplift Yourself - Let's face it, things in the world seem to be getting more difficult, from the economy the international tensions to natural disasters. Listen to inspirational messages that bring hope for a …

By divine design

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36035_000_24_family.pdfDownload this file Family is beautiful.

It is in this setting that I experience the most profound joy and the most disappointing sorrow

Living in a family has taught me these lessons, among endless others: Everyone has feelings, and feelings are easily hurt, even unintentionally.Nothing causes more sorrow than hurting someone you love.Forgiveness binds wounds and heals hearts. It ushers in peace and happiness.People are different. Deal with it.Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Luckily for me, my parents rock. They did their best to teach me how to be a good person. My father is honest, trustworthy, and hard working. My mother loves her family more than anything in the whole world. Despite all our best efforts, we struggle sometimes! Struggling together is one of the most binding experiences you can have. 
I love my family.

Which matters matter?

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I've been wrestling lately to understand what really matters to me. At times I've felt as if nothing matters at all! I remembered seeing this video a while back, and I searched it out to see what it could teach me.




At the end of the day, what matters most to me are my relationships with family and other people. Family is permanent. The way I treat them and others defines who I am.


I have possessions that I value a lot. I take good care of my computer because I paid a lot for it and it's an important tool. I value my collection of Star Wars actions figures because I worked hard to save up for each one of them as a kid. Each of these possessions may have played an important role in helping me learn to work or to be a wise steward, but the items have no lasting value in and of themselves. 

So what does?


Help me out here. Family? Friends? Certainly none of my possessions, since none of them to date have brought me more than fleeting pleasure or satisfaction.



Conviction. Do you have it?

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.
The words you use make you weak. Think about it.

This video, which I first saw on @snay2's blog, has caused me to reflect on the way I use language. I often use "softening" words and phrases in order to avoid offense. This habit, born of good intentions, has the side effect of devaluing my own opinion, and it causes me to appear weak in my convictions. I do not like this. And nothing has brought this flaw more clearly into focus than the feelings I experienced while watching this video. I plead guilty to every idiosyncrasy satirized therein.
In a world of push-button publishing, well formed thoughts and carefully constructed arguments become all the more rare. Healthy dialog degrades into ill-spirited bickering. We fall into this trap far too easily. I certainly don't pretend that I can change the way people communicate--I lack both the energy and the influence. I believe, however, that I can elevate myself by using respectful a…

Gospel study tool

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I've used the Study Notebook feature on lds.org for over a year. During that time, I've seen it evolve dramatically. It seems to me that updates have accelerated over the past few months. This tool has gone from something I used simply to claim that I keep a study journal to the hub of my gospel study. I can bookmark, annotate, highlight, and even make separate journal entries. I can organize all of these items by notebook, by tag, and by type. And best of all, I can cross reference across all church materials (standard works, general conferences, devotionals, manuals...you name it) with the click of a mouse. This tool can facilitate a completely immersive gospel study experience.


In addition to its great functionality, the Study Notebook is stored in the cloud, so you can access it anywhere you have a computer and the internet. Also, this amazing tool will soon work together with LDS mobile scripture apps which will soon sync with your Study Notebook.




While I have found this…

Sunny coastal afternoon

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French cuisine

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Tonight a very generous friend treated us to dinner at a French restaurant in Pacific Grove, CA. It was my first experience with French food, and I won't be forgetting it any time soon. I had chicken mushroom tomato soup, and then roast chicken. Our group ordered white chocolate cake and raspberry pie for dessert.

Every bite was a dream.

Live classical guitar music was the icing on the (proverbial) cake. And the company was excellent!

Childhood dream

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When I was a kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist so that I could swim with orcas. Free Willy was my favorite movie.




Now I live on the Monterey Bay, a hotspot for marine biology.
Coincidence?

Waiting for Waves

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The Past

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The past is a funny thing. Sometimes I want to forget it ever happened. Sometimes I want nothing more than to return to it.

Street lamp light

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Tonight's overcast sky and warm temperature made it hard to pass up
the opportunity to shoot some photos. I am still learning a lot about
how to shoot in low light.


See the full gallery on Posterous

Day at the Dump

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Field trip! I can't remember the last time I got to go on a field trip for class, but today we did. What class, you ask? Translation. Recently, we've been working on a translation about waste disposal in Russia. Sounds boring...which might be why our professor decided to take us to see a land fill up close and personal.


Like many of you, I've been to the dump to drop stuff off, but I've never really seen what happens after that.

First, we suited up.




Then, we drove over to the sorting facility.




Pretty cool stuff. But out of all the amazing features and technologies we saw at the dump, my favorite was the falcons. What? Falcons.

I am not making this up. Apparently, one of the major problems this particular dump faces is seagulls. Yes, most dumps have bird problems. But this dump is surrounded by farm land. And farmers were mad that garbage-ridden trash birds were flying over and contaminating their crops. Let me introduce you to Leo the falconer.




This is Leo. His job i…

Running and Oatmeal

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A couple of days ago, this happened:



Who would have thought so many would stand up in defense of oatmeal. Oatmeal and running are two things I don't like very much, but that I'm trying to make a bigger part of my life. I'm in my second week of running consistently twice per week. It's not much, but it's definitely more than the random run once or twice a month that I've been doing.


In both cases, the answer of how to like them is "Just do it." Just eat the oatmeal, just get out the door to run, and all will be well. Eventually. Right?

What do Mormons care about?

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Wordle from the 181st General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Source

Saturday Morning LDS Conference

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I couldn't help myself. As I watched LDS General Conference this morning, I was monitoring online trends out of the corner of my eye. Turns out "lds" made it into the #1 spot on Google's Hot Topics list. Also, I saw it reach as high as the #4 spot on Twitter trends. I think this is great news because it means exposure for the church. The more exposure the church receives, the more people will understand it. The more exposure the church receives, the more likely people looking for truth will find it. Here are some thoughts that stuck out to me during this morning's session:
The New Testament is the centerpiece of scriptural history.The Sabbath day is sacred. I must honor and cherish it to experience its spiritual blessings throughout the week.Children are a key to helping us become like Jesus. They are often the first to love and the first to forgive.Those who are greatest in the Lord’s kingdom are those who look for opportunities to serve others.Pain is a gauge …

Evening walk

Orion sprawls across the sky
A distant car drones lonely by
The scrape of pavement under feet
I walk the quiet, dark, still street

Improvement

Tale as old as time
Tune as old as song
Bittersweet and strange finding you can change
Learning you were wrong

Good ol' Disney seems to have a musical moment for every occasion. This snippet from Beauty and the Beast lept into my thoughts late tonight. Change is such a difficult topic for me. Oh, sure, I advocate change, but that word seems so ambiguous. I guess what I really advocate is improvement--change for the better.

Sometimes being excited about improvement is easy. I want to study harder, work more efficiently, and spend my time more wisely.

Sometimes being excited about improvement is hard. Like when it concerns deeply personal convictions, beliefs, or even ways of experiencing life. If you're stubborn like I am, you might be able to relate to those words and introspective questions.

Improving yourself requires making difficult decisions. Improving yourself requires learning you were wrong. Improving yourself requires leaving areas of comfort. It's bittersweet. It&…
School is great. It teaches you way more about life than it does about school stuff. And that's the real value of an education.

Spring is coming

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Let's face it, winter in Monterey is relatively paradisiacal. That said, today's exceptionally wonderful weather surprised me.

Spring was in the air, that's for sure. It was a little bit warmer, and the breeze felt like Spring. You know the kind of breeze I'm talking about? It's a mix of cool and warm air, and it's a little feisty.

The pretender

Caught between the longing for love
And the struggle for the legal tender
Where the sirens sing and the church bells ring
And the junk man pounds his fender
Where the veterans dream of the fight
Fast asleep at the traffic light
And the children solemnly wait
For the ice cream vendor
Out into the cool of the evening
Strolls the pretender
He knows that all his hopes and dreams
Begin and end there

Ah, the laughter as they run through the night
Leaving nothing but to choose off and fight
And tear the world with all their might
While the ships bearing their dreams sail out of sight

I'm going to be a happy idiot
And struggle for the legal tender
Where the ads take aim and lay their claim
To the heart and the soul of the spender
And believe in whatever may lie
In those things that money can buy
Though true love could have been a contender

Are you there?
Say a prayer for the pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender

Say a prayer for the pretender
Are you there for th…

Why good people do bad things

Most people that I know in this world are good. I'm an optimist, so I'd venture to say that the majority of people everywhere are basically good. But lots of good people still do bad things. Sometimes really, really good people do really, really bad things. These actions are often called mistakes.

Today I was thinking about instances in which good people do bad things because they are sick and tired of everyone thinking they are so good. These actions are sometimes called rebellion. Rebellion is dangerous because the rebel is generally aware that his behavior is bad. In fact, that's the point.

Maybe you know a rebel. How can you help him? Probably, you can't. You see, rebellion often occurs because the potential rebel grows weary of people not worrying about him, which is good, but which he perceives as people not caring about him. The point of rebelling is to incite care.

Well, ok, so care about him. "Worry" about him. This won't work because he'll s…

Study it out

Decisions. Big ones. Small ones. Insignificant ones. Defining ones.

I've experienced a lot of change lately. Moves, new classes, switching wards, new friends, new feelings, and the like. In the rush of it all, some pretty big decisions have come down the pipeline. I'm not one to pass by an opportunity, so I usually lunge at anything that looks good. For example, I was recently admitted to the MBA program at my school. As I ponder my reasoning for applying in the first place, along with the additional expenses and time it would require to follow through with this course of action, I've learned about the decision making process.

In a way, it's good to take advantage of opportunities when they come. After all, they are not lengthy visitors. I tend to work helter skelter to snatch them up, realize after some time that I've bitten off too much, then find a reasonable compromise or drop them altogether. Now that I've discovered this about myself, hopefully I can make…

Hero

I wrote this poem when I was 16. Blast from the past!

“Who is your hero?” The school teacher asked.

“Or do you know?” She looked at the class.

Later that day, a young man stood.

He had thought hard—as hard as he could.

“Who is my hero?” He wondered out loud.

And he searched the faces of the after-school crowd.

The young man shrugged, but inside he knew

There was something he had to do.

“I’ll find me a hero!” the young man said,

And he laid out a plan inside of his head.

Later that week, the boy began.

He’d created a list—step one of his plan.

The list contained names that at a glance,

Were possibly heroes--or at least had a chance.

Then he'd put each name up to the test.

His hero criteria would take care of the rest.

First, there was Dan—a really cool guy.

He had many friends, and the boy wondered why.

He’s on the team, he runs really fast—

Wait, why did he trip that poor kid as he passed?

Look at him now, he’s cussing a storm.

Does he really think that’s part of the norm?

“I don’t like that,” the boy t…

Night

Night.

Perhaps the most beautiful time of day.

And the most deadly.

Because thoughts multiply.

And feelings surge.

And the stars stretch out forever

Just like life's possibilities.

By the light of a three quarter moon

I stare at the back of my eyelids

And see yesterday,

And see tomorrow,

But cannot see today.

Questions come, unyielding,

And boggle my drowsy mind.

I knew the answers yesterday.

I'll know them again tomorrow.

But night is now, and I can't see.

It's true that every sunset

Leads to a morning,

But lots of songs leave out the part

About night.

The happy choice

There is a difference between faking happiness and choosing to be happy in difficult circumstances.

Try not to confuse the two.

The friend discount

My second cousin works as an electrician. People in his neighborhood often ask him to do work for them, and they tend to either ask for or expect what might be termed "the friend discount." In other words, they want him to charge less than the value of his work. My cousin, being a kind man, often finds himself doing just that. Isn't this backwards?

Here's the question. Who is the better friend, the one who expects a discount or the one who offers a bonus?

If my friend were an electrician, and I needed work done, I'd ask him to do it because I'd want to give him business. Knowing that he does excellent work, I'd also give him a glass of lemonade or make him lunch as he worked. What's more, I might slip a few extra dollars into the final payment to show my appreciation not only for his work, but for our friendship.

The best friendships flourish when neither party expects the other to give special treatment, yet both parties dole out special treatment in…

Why music moves me

During winter break, I was digging through old stuff, and I found a CD I hadn't heard in a long, long time. It's the recording of a concert I played in with the Timpanogos Chamber Orchestra in 2001. This is what I did on Saturday mornings all through high school. I was in 9th grade at the time of this recording. I started listening to the CD, and I was blown away by what I heard. Here are a few tracks for your listening pleasure.

Meditation by Joseph Suk

Andante from Rakastava by Jean Sibelius

Praelude from "Holberg" Suite by Edvard Grieg

Rondo from Serenata Notturna by Mozart

Can you believe this is a bunch of high schoolers? I have a hard time believing it when I listen. Amazing. The orchestra was (and still is, I believe) conducted by Lois Stout.

Music moves me because it's been such an important part of my life since I was a little kid. I feel lucky to have been part of such a magnificent group at such a young age.

Vagabondage

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Vagabond: A person without a permanent home who moves from place to place.



Pictured here is the illustrious House of Blues (HOB). This house represents the sole exception to the following statement: During the past 7 years, I have not lived in one place for more than 8 months. I lived in the HOB for about a year.

Now, I'm just as adventurous as the next guy, and I've thoroughly enjoyed the time I've spent moving from place to place. I'm fairly confident I'll continue to do so until I get my first long-term job. I have this to say, however, about vagabondage...it gets old. So as I continue to enjoy my present lifestyle, I find myself looking forward to a time when I can have a true home base.

It doesn't have to be much. Just a place where roots can begin to grow (the proverbial kind, of course). A place I can actually keep clean (i.e. not an ancient, decaying structure). A place I can decorate. Nothing girly here--I just want some pictures of the temple and othe…

Where in the world?

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A good friend of mine just returned from a 6 month stay in Taiwan. As she showed me her pictures and told me a little bit about her experiences, I was reminded just how awesome the world is. Taiwan seems so far away and so foreign, but it was clear from her pictures and stories that people are people no matter where they are. Cultures differ, but we all have so much in common. I hope the future holds many opportunities to travel and see a little bit more of this amazing planet and the people who inhabit it.

If I could travel to three countries, I would choose Russia, France, and Africa. Yes, I am aware that Africa is a continent, not a country, but I haven't decided which part of Africa to visit yet.



Russia - Why Russia? Well, I lived there for two years, and that was a mind-blowing experience. However, I lived in a part of Russia so remote that most people don't realize it exists. Vladivostok. Having gained an appreciation for the history, culture, and people of Russia, I want…