Inspiration is all around us

Little Lin Hao – a survivor, hero, and example

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On a personal note

I finally went in and got my nose fixed today – deviated septum.  Back when I was about 10, living in Montana, I was playing king of the, well, ice hill, at school when some kid shoved me face first into a mound of ice and really did a number on my nose.

This was before I got adopted, and if I remember correctly while my biological mother was away on a singing gig, so I didn’t ever get it fixed. 

But I went in and got a sleep study done last week to figure out why I’m always so tired.  I figured it was my friends Jim, Ringer, or the Pondering Pastor always pushing my brain, but instead found out I have sleep apnea.  Here’s a picture of that night – hilarious.  They hook you up like this and then say “go to sleep”.  I say “yeah right”.  They say “like we haven’t heard that before” and give you that look like “just shut up and do it, okay?”  LOL.


So my doctor told me it was time to fix my nose, which brought me to this point… (the before shot where I’m still smiling):

So now I’m home resting, updating my iPhone, pondering the recent blog comments, and realizing why I put this off for so long.

The good news, is that I have some forced “off-time”, which will let me catch up on some of these comments!


2,000 year old seed sprouts

Today I ran across an interesting article through Digg that tells of three seeds that were found way back in the 1960’s in the Masada Fortress on the edge of the Dead Sea in Israel.   Recently, these seeds were planted, and one of them actually germinated.

Curious to their age, they carbon dated the two dud seeds and found that they were 2,000 years old, meaning they dated back to the life of Christ, and making the one that germinated the oldest seed ever to do so.

My take away is that you should never give up on that tiny seed of potential in someone you care about, regardless how long it may have lain dormant in an extended hot and dry environment.

Never give up hope, and never stop praying.


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Recent Comments, Active Posts

To help facilitate those who try to keep up on the most active discussions going and posts throughout my blog, I’ve now included on the left side (under Recent Posts) two new sections.

  1. Recent Comments – This will show you the most recent comments on any post throughout the blog, and should help you keep up with conversations by showing you where they’re happening.
  2. Active Posts – This will show you which posts are receiveing the highest current activity, both posts and traffic.

Additionally, because there are so many posts now, I’ll be making further refinements to navigation and organization of posts, hopefully to make it easier for you to find things. 

If you have suggestions, comments, or ideas on how to better organize things, please comment here.

And thank you for reading!


USS New York – Made from the World Trade Center

USS New York - Made from the World Trade Center

USS New York - Made from the World Trade Center

 Built with 7 1/2 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center, the USS New York is the fifth in a new class of warship.  It’s designed specifically for missions that include special operations against terrorists.

It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines that can be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft at a moment’s notice.

The steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, LA to cast the ships bow section.  When it was poured into the molds on Sept 9, 2003, “those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence”, recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there.  “It was a spiritual moment for everybody there.”

Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand, and “the hair on my neck stood up.”  “It had a big meaning to it for all of us” he said.  “They knocked us down, but they can’t keep us down.”

As you can see from the ship’s side, her logo is “Never Forget”. (Note:  You can click the images below for a larger view).




For many more photos and media on the USS New York, it’s construction, christening, and history, you can visit (note:  The site appears to be going down regularly, likely due to heavy traffic). 


Lessons from the Apple iPhone 2.0

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New technology lets parents control teen driving

Today I read a story (here), about a new technology called “MyKey” coming out in the new 210 ford Focus coupe, and is part of their new “Driving Skills for Life” program.

The key lets parents set limits to things like how fast the car can go (e.g. restricting it to 75 mph), even down to limits on the volume of the stereo.

I imagine that with how inexpensive technology is becoming, and with the increased instances of on-board GPS systems, the time is not far distant when parents will even be able to set distance parameters, restricting vehicles from traveling farther than a certain number of miles from your home, or other restrictions.

The gospel teaches us that we should “teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves”, but should there moderation in this, as in all things?  What are the acceptable limits to how much “intervention” a parent should enforce upon their children (regardless of how good the intent)?

Rather than posting my opinions now, I’d like to ask your thoughts, and explore the discussion together.


That’s not my job

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Supreme court upholds ban on same-sex marriage

According to CNN (article here), the California high court just upheld the ban on same-sex marriage.  It did sustain the validity of prior same-sex marriages, but the ban on new marriages was upheld by a 6-1 vote.

California’s Proposition 8, preventing same sex marriage, has been the subject of extreme controversy, as you’d expect, but it’s an important step for us.  There simply comes a time when you have to take a stand, when you have speak out and defend the values that you hold dear, and that have sustained this nation for so long.

As a people we’ve become increasingly tolerant of the erosion of such crucial values.  But the family is sacred, and vital to the fabric of society.  It is the nucleus of success and progression for every individual, and the DNA that makes it all possible simply cannot be corrupted.

As a people, there comes a time when we must speak out.  Maltbie Davenport Babcock has said:

Be strong,
say not the day is evil, who’s to blame
and fold the hands of acquiesce, oh shame
stand up, speak out, and boldly in God’s name

Indeed, and as is stated in “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World” as issued by the prophet and First Presidency,

“The family is ordained of God.  Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.  Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity…

“We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

As a nation, may we always stand up in defense of those things we hold sacred, as we have done here.


I speak millions of words a day, a note on honesty

Today, CNN reported here that Hillary Clinton says she “misspoke”, when suggesting she came under sniper fire in Bosnia during a foreign policy speech at George Washington University recently.If you’re not familiar with what happened, you can watch the video of it here, but in short she was responding to a question wherein she described landing in Bosnia in 1996 by saying “I remember landing under sniper fire.  There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base”.

But when you watch the actual video of the landing, you see her walking casually out of the plane with her daughter in tow, over to a greeting party where she shook hands with several soldiers and an 8 year old Bosnian girl who gave her a poem.

Interestingly, in response to the whole deal, she said “I say a lot of things – millions of words a day – so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement.”

First, I’m not sure if she realizes, but to speak even 1 million words in a day you would have to speak 15 words a second for 18 hours straight.  To be “millions”, you would have to at least double that.  I’m also not much comforted by a statement indicating that proportionally speaking, most of what she says should be true.

Still, perhaps I’m splitting hairs.  On the other hand, perhaps we’ve become too acclimated to environments of dishonesty where we try to cover one exaggeration with another one.    Where much is given, much is required.  People in the top echelons of our government are given much authority, and much should be required of them – including honesty.

Honesty seems to succumb to Newton’s first law of motion – mass in motion tends to stay in motion…   Once you start a lie, it seems more naturally follow to support it in a self-perpetuating cycle of dishonesty.


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Glenn Beck’s Testimony on YouTube

I know this isn’t terribly new, but if you haven’t seen it yet, I think it’s well worth watching.  For a very public figure to open about his religion (especially the Mormon religion), takes courage.  I think if he can do it, if he can be willing to share his religion in spite of the career risks, etc.  than so can I. 

Thanks Glenn.



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Countdown to conference – Conference Overview

With conference fast approaching, I’ve decided to do a daily “Countdown to conference” post, each of which will be focused on helping us prepare, in one area or another, for this momentous occasion.

Since a large portion of my visitors are not LDS, I wanted to dedicate the first post in this series to explaining what General Conference is all about.

Twice a year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds a vast conference.  During this semiannual event, we have the privilege of hearing directly from modern-day apostles and a living prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ, along with other General Authorities and general officers of the Church.

They will provide us with messages of inspiration and guidance, specific and unique to our needs in our times, just as did the prophets of ancient times.

The scriptures tell us that “by their fruits ye shall know them”.  One of the surest ways to get a better understanding of Mormonism is by participating yourself in this vast conference, a unique opportunity to hear from the words of a prophet and apostles in our very day.

Conference is a time when members and non-members alike, can each join and benefit in hearing the revealed truth and inspired counsel of a prophet and apostles of God.

Stay tuned for more information, and for ongoing conference coverage and conversations on the talks given.


The Blind Painter

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Mormons speak out for the prophet

There has been an explosion of online activity surrounding President Hinckley that’s worthy of note (if not your time).  Here are a few highlights:

As you’d expect, the newsroom has a new (and entire) page of links to prominent news sources that covered President Hinckley’s death – here.

The Blogosphere:

Also, did you know that according to BlogPulse, “Gordon B. Hinckley” was the third most mentioned person in the blogosphere the day after he died?  Additionally, “President Hinckley” was number 7, and on the “biggest movers” list, various names for the prophet and his wife were ranked 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 14.

Social Networks:

According to Joel Dehlin, Chief Information Officer for the church, at 11:20 this morning there were 170 groups on FaceBook created in memory of President Hinckley, with 29,038 people belonging to the largest group called “In Memory of Gordon B. Hinckley.”  And there are over 90,000 people subscribed to at least one of those groups.  And if you haven’t seen it, there’s also a video up on YouTube where Latter Day Saint youth have shared their feelings for President Hinckley.

New Websites – Unofficial and Official

A new website “The Hinckley Challenge“, has launched in commemoration of the prophet, challenging people to read the Book of Mormon in 97 days (a day for every year of his life).  Additionally, the church has launched, as well as  The MoreGood Foundation has created and

It looks to me like the LDS community is speaking up.  Good for you!  … er… us. 


Buying the iPhone 3G

Buying the iPhone 3G

In case you wondered why there was no post on Friday, it’s because I spent all day standing in line to buy the new iPhone 3G – 10 hours to be exact, and the whole process taught me something I wanted to share.

First, here’s how it went. 

Friday morning I went down to the Salt Lake Apple Store (at the Gateway).  I’ve never done one of these stand-in-line-on-the-day-of-release things before, but I’d heard that the last time the iPhone was released the lines cleared out in only a couple of hours.  Since I’ve been a huge iPhone fan, and am passionate about technology, I thought it would be fun to go hang around other like-minded people, thrilled about the release, and try to get it on the first day.  In fact, I was in it as much for the experience, as for the phone. 

I got there at about 7:00am, an hour before the store opened.  Already the line was around the block.  Still, I was optimistic that the line would go fast and I’d get an iPhone.  And I found myself easily engaged in conversation with the people that were around me.

So I sat on the sidewalk and responded to some blog comments on my MacBook Pro (plugged into my pocket PC phone for internet connectivity, since the iPhone won’t let you do that :-(,  until just after 8:00 when the line started moving.  Initially we were moving at a steady clip, about 15 feet every 10 minutes or so.  But then all of a sudden, about 30 minutes into the process we simply stopped moving, and that would be how it was throughout the remainder of the day.  On average, we’d move about 5 feet every30 minutes.

Using my iPhone I found that there were problems with AT&T activation and the Apple’s iTunes server, and realized that the west coast was coming online as well, and they were likely slammed.  Still, I figured Steve Jobs would whip their IT department into shape in a hurry and increase their bandwidth to deal with the apparently unexpected surge of people. 

In retrospect, I should have known, if you release the iPhone 2.0 software the day before the release of the new phone you’ve spent millions to hype, and this time for a world-wide release, and all of them would have to access iTunes at the same time – it’s a recipe for disaster.  Combine that with the terrible decision to force iPhone customers to activate the phones in-stores, and it’s even worse.   

We were told that in-store activation was taking more like 30-45 minutes per customer instead of the 10-15 minutes they had expected.  45 minutes!  That’s a ridiculous amount of time to stand at the cash register trying to give Apple $300, especially for a company as image/experience conscious as Apple.

But, and this is the important part, we had only been there a very short time when we had Apple representatives moving down the line handing out coffee for those who were interested.  Later when it got hot, they handed out slushies, and throughout the day they walked around, distributing water, and even sunscreen, and collecting garbage.  Sometimes they’d come around and just ask how you were doing.  They’d bring around the new iPhone and let you hold it, which helped remind us all why we were there and infused us with renewed excitement.  Then they’d walk around the black iPhone and the white one, so that your mind was focused on which you wanted more, and not how long you’d been waiting.  They did an amazing job at making it a positive experience.

Long story short, after standing in the sun for 6 hours, which is a painful process; I was finally admitted into the store.  There was a crowd of Apple employees at the door, cheering as each group was admitted.  I have to admit it, that simple act really segmented the experience, and almost made you forget what you’d just gone through.

Inside, I was rapidly directed to a representative who said they’d help me buy my iPhone.  He too was cheerful and upbeat.  .

I gave him my information, drivers license, credit card, told him what iPhone I wanted (16 Gig, Black) and about 15 minutes later he told me: “There appears to be an error when I try to put your order through, it has something to do with your AT&T account, so we’ll need to have you call AT&T”.

Frustrated, I pulled out my Verizon phone (both my iPhone and my AT&T PPC phone were out of batteries), and called AT&T.  Once I got a rep, I handed the phone over to my Apple rep.  Almost 30 minutes later, my rep handed me back my phone and said the unthinkable (I could tell it was killing him)…

“I’m sorry, there appears to be a problem with your AT&T account, and we’ll be unable to help you here, you’ll need to go to an AT&T store.”

I was less than pleased, and requested that he try again, telling him that I wasn’t about to give up so easily after having waited almost 7 hours.  “Sure, he said, I totally understand, and I am so sorry”.

Another long story short, without further request, he tried 5 separate times, calling a new AT&T rep each time, spanning a period of THREE additional hours before he finally got an AT&T rep that could fix it.  And even then, it wasn’t fully fixed, they couldn’t eradicate the partial order that had gone through before, so it showed I wasn’t eligible for the $100 iPhone discount.  Undeterred, my apple rep gave me a $100 Apple gift certificate and used that to help purchase the phone.

So after 9 and a half hours (6 outside, and 3 ½ inside), I walked out of the store starving, tired, sunburned, and frazzled, but deeply impressed with the representatives at Apple. 

I got to my car, turned on the AC, and breathe for a bit.  Then pulled out my phone and tried to call my wife to tell her about the ordeal.  The call was dropped.  I tried another call, and it too was dropped.  In fact three calls in a row (which is really strange, because that’s never happened to me before with my last iPhone).

Sighing, I decided to try to sync with Exchange to check my email that I hadn’t seen for several hours.  Everything synched except my mail (contacts, calander).  Okay, at least I’ll set up my Gmail account to see what my blog comments were.  Gmails Imap servers failed to respond.

Finally I gave up and went home, so disappointed that I haven’t even really touched the phone until now when I plugged it into iTunes to download my music.

As disappointed as I was in the whole ordeal, I couldn’t help but remain impressed with the Apple store employees.

Sometimes I wonder if we, as members, can’t do a better job ourselves, of lightening the often very trial-laden process of conversion, offering comfort, understanding, and help at every step of the way.  It’s amazing how much a difference it makes, when those who surround you, the actual representatives of the church, manifest the very qualities that attracted you to the church in the first place.  As with Apple, I hope that we too, can be far more image conscious – being aware at what role we’re playing in the conversion experience of another.



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