Saturday, June 15, 2013

Blogging Shmogging... Is anybody even out there?

Well, here I am again - blogging. After who knows how long (I suppose the average wise-crack will just check the date on my last post) since my last post, I am going to make an attempt at starting this thing up again; For better, or for worse, you be the judge.

I have completely ignored the inklings in the back of my mind to return to this favorite pastime of mine for weeks now. The thought crossed my mind today as my lawn mower ripped through the tall grass in our back yard, "maybe I should write about music." The thought was fleeting as I swerved all seven wild ponies of self-propelled, Craftsman made machinery around a surprise landmine left behind by Cash or Chloe. It's not that I don't think the subject to be worthy of some kind of investigation, but is this the right place? Is it the right post? I don't think so.

The initial blog post that started all of this for me was something of an explanatory effort on the name I chose for the blog. I still hold to the things I said in that post. I believe at my core that so much of what we lack in character , both on a micro and macro scale, are the characteristics learned at some of the earliest times in life. The world that I grew up in would likely be called "old fashioned" by some. I didn't need much to be entertained as a child. I had a bike, good friends and summer days to explore the world across the street from where I grew up. There weren't gizmo's and gadgets or even games and chats to worry about. We had bike jumps, air powered BB guns and dirt clod wars where they were building houses in our neighborhood. Not that those afore mentioned gadgets are inherently bad, but today's world forces me to wonder how my own children will experience childhood - in a new "High Score!" or through scraped knees and elbows.

I certainly think there is something to be said for the He Man Women Hater's club I belonged to when I was young. You see, society has trained us to think "How sad for that young boy. Women aren't any different than men. His parents must have not done a good job at raising him." That would be where society goes wrong. But we will have to save that for a different post. My point here tonight is that so much of what and who I am was learned at the onset of life. I learned to share, to fight, to forgive and to think outside the box by being in the box, as a child. I grew up in the sandbox. We all did.

Odds are I will write about a long list of subjects on here, some with which my audience may care for and agree with, some of which you will not. Be it for good, or evil, I will let you decide. I am just going to write from the heart and hopefully make my corner of the world a littler brighter.

Until next time.

"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."
 - George Washington 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Anger - A Game of Fool's Gold

So here I am, nearing midnight in Indianapolis and I am wide awake in my hotel room. It's not much of a surprise for those who know me well, I have never been much for sleep. My mind rarely allows for a good nights rest. My mind is fixed tonight on many different things. Tomorrow morning I start the first day in a week of sales training at the Dow AgroSciences global headquarters in Zionsville, IN. Aside from that there are some important people in my life that way heavily on the squeaky wheels of my brain. My heart aches for one and longs to defend another. Consequently I am where I am within my thoughts tonight - wondering about why the world is so angry.

We are all guilty of it in varying degrees. At some point we have just plain lost it. Maybe it was frustration with a co-worker, or that guy who cut you off driving home from work! I mean, seriously, couldn't he just check his mirror?! Or, sad as it may be, some fall prey to the passion that leads to theft or the temper that leads to murder. Either way they all fall back on a primitive fault we all posses, anger.

Have we forgotten who that motorist is, in spite of their terrible driving? They are our brothers, sisters, neighbors and friends. Has the world become so busy that we can't pause, bridal our passions and think of who they are to the creator of us all? I know I certainly have room to grow. Can we really sew anger and expect love? A truism in life is that when we sew a little thistle, we get a lot of thistle in return. Shouldn't we, even if it is for selfish reasons, love our brothers so we can expect love in return?

I can't help but think of Cane and Abel. It is recorded that after Cane had murdered Abel, he was called on by the Lord. The Lord asked Cane "Where is Abel, thy brother." Cane, snapping back, replies "I know not. Am I my brother's keeper?" If I may take the liberty of inserting my own emotions about this tragic passage of holy writ, I think the Lord's response was probably one of heart broken concern, not just for Abel, but Cane as well. Painstakingly he might have replied, "No, Cane. But you are your brother's, brother."

How often are we not our brother's, brother? Be that figuratively or literally. Do we forget that though there may be differences that separate us, that we are spiritually bound in the cause of life? Why don't I more frequently see the angels in those around me and love as Christ would love. Believe in who Christ is or not, it requires your faith both ways. Call it Christian dogma, or not, but love is the answer and will build bridges that span the eternities. The Christian message will bind all peoples, nations, and races together for time and eternity. All we need to do, is move our foolish pride aside and see angels instead of demons.

To Kendra - I love you. You are my best friend and confidant. From afar off, I wish you a good night and safe travels. I pray you feel my love and adoration as we are apart over this next little while. I will see you soon. Forever yours.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The City of trees - Les Bois

It is about time, sheesh! I have been away from the blog scene for far too long. I find myself with some free time tonight to get caught up, sort of, on my digital entries.

This week begins a journey that will likely carry me through the remainder of my working days. I started with Dow Agrosciences officially as of May 2. so far I have driven from Salt Lake to Boise and spent the day today sitting in business meetings. Now, all of that sounds fantastic (and it really is in all honesty) but here is the observation from my perspective.

I climbed into my brother's work truck this morning at seven A.M. and took the arduous drive west across the southern desert of Idaho. Sage brush and and green grass framed the ominous stretch of highway that lay before us. After just under two hours of bobbing along the rough concrete corridor, we pulled into Boise and met my new boss at my make-shift home for the night. We sat and talked for a few minutes after our arrival at the hotel. I met Steven, my future coworker and later Billy, also a tenured veteran of the agricultural seed industry. Both of which will, in some form or another become my mentors as I grow within the work that they have made a living off of.

As I sat perpendicular to both of these men, Steven to my left and Billy to my right, I couldn't help but observe them; Who they had become. I saw sun-tanned squinty eyes and white hair. This labor of love had turned their skin to leather, and shaped their character. For hours they swapped stories of old customers, business deals and funny stories. Much to my surprise I listened to their conversation of sales and work in what I can only describe as a form of Chinese dialect. I had ignorantly assumed that I would be able to assimilate into the world of agriculture with relative ease. I mean, I did grow up in Idaho. That credential alone practically makes me a farmer, right? I worked on a cattle ranch and had a basic idea of how farming worked. This should be easy. Wrong. It isn't. It is highly complex and is a game involving time-sensitive organisms, technology ridden farm equipment, and very capable business men - farmers included.

My take away from today, I have a lot to learn. Luckily I have a willing, capable, and qualified group of people in my corner. I have some lofty expectations and a travel schedule that would make most career salesman cringe, but I am cautiously optimistic and anxiously engaged. It will most certainly be the opportunity of a lifetime. I am looking forward to getting started and hoping I can find some kind of dictionary for the language I heard spoken this morning between Steven and Billy. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Swollen Glands and New Opportunities

What a week! I have been, in one form or another, on my back for the last 6 days. I must be honest, the duration of time spent on my back has shortened but that is more due to my serious case of "cabin fever" than it is to actually feeling better.

Since last Saturday evening I have spent a majority of my time fighting headaches, a nasty cough and swollen glands. I don't necessarily understand the fine science behind the two Posterior Cervical Lymph Nodes swelling up when you get sick. I do understand that they become enflamed when your body falls prey to an upper respiratory infection. Here I am, swollen glands and all, sitting on the couch watching a bootlegged copy of a movie I don't understand. I hate being sick. It has been rather timely, however.

I moved to Utah in August of 2006. Just a few days after I unpacked my stuff in Utah I started working in the shipping department of Grainger Industrial Supply as a "Warehouse Associate." It isn't some glory job. I wear steel toes on concrete floor all day long; Picking, packing and shipping various and sundry items off of shelves and send them all over the country. Sweet set up, right? Psych! It has been a rough go for the last five years. I have walked away from work with a tired back and sore knees. I took a job that promised me I would be done with work and home to take care of school work by 6:30 PM every night -- A promise left unfulfilled. In fact I have spent a majority of my days at Grainger working longer than expected days and later than expected nights. All the while my homework sat in my bag, or in my inbox waiting to be finished at a less than ideal time of night. My final full-time semester as a student at the University of Utah I worked some of the latest nights of my life. I walked out of work as late at 11 PM some nights, leaving my homework and the stereotypical bachelor dinner for the wee hours of the morning. My grades suffered. I suffered. The time as a whole was a frustrating refiner's fire for me. Nevertheless, all is not lost.

Setting aside all of that gloom and doom, Grainger treated me pretty well comparatively speaking. Yeah, the late nights were tough. Yes, my homework ended up ignored and hurried through. All in all, I learned a lot of practical skills. I was gaining experience that has added to my resume and shaped me as a person. I work through difficult days and deal with difficult peers. I will pad my frustration by grasping firmly to the hope that I am stronger and better for the experience. Luckily, that is all about to change.

May 2 I start a job that has me very excited. That trip to Indianapolis I mentioned in my last entry was a trip to interview with Dow Agrosciences as a Sales Representative. I went. I saw. I conquered. Such an experience can only attest the saying, "It's not what you know, it's who." Luckily I have an insider connection. Not the sort that would land you prison time on Wall Street; A brother. He's good at what he does and provided me with the contacts I needed to see it all through. With enough emailing, phone calling and ol' fashioned persistence, it worked. I was offered the job and I am excited for the opportunities that will come with it, the most immediate one being the company truck that is on its way :)

My rather sarcastic nature leads me to make light at the simple things like a truck and a company phone. However I am deeply grateful for the blessings that I so readily enjoy. I can't go so far as to say that I don't deserve them, but I certainly wonder why. Some day I will take the opportunity to ask my Savior why it is I was blessed so richly when I felt I gave so little. For Heaven's rich blessings I am always and eternally thankful. Here is to the start of a long and healthy career with Dow and to the opportunity for me to give back to so many that have given so much to me.

God Speed, my friends. Until next time.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Randomity (a borrowed title)

It's been some time since I last updated my blog. The last few weeks have been something of a blur. I have traveled all over the country for various and sundry reasons, fished in the steady Oregon rain, and came back to Salt Lake City to my cluttered room. I hate clutter. At this rate, I am just planning on really unpacking my stuff in September.

A few weeks ago I was offered the chance to fly back to Indianapolis. I knew I would miss home a bit while I was gone (more the people that make it home, rather) but it was a great reminder of how much I enjoyed the Eastern U.S. I haven't seen it since coming home from Virginia as a missionary. There is such a rich history and culture there. There are good people there and I enjoyed my short stay in Indianapolis.

Flying there and back was an interesting experience all in itself. The flights out were pleasantly surprising. Everything was on time and in some cases early. I was greeted by a finely dressed man with my name on a small white-board at the airport. I spent the night (after a delectable steak for dinner) in a fancy apartment. An incredibly short and enjoyable 24 hours later, I was back at the Indianapolis Airport and strip-searching my way through airport security. The flight from Indiana to Texas was less than enjoyable. I was seated behind an elderly couple that looked like they had just walked off the set of Tales from the Crypt. I spent most of the rough two hour flight into Houston with my Jacket over my mouth and nose. Why? I was trying to filter out the gaseous odor coming from the row in front of me. I am convinced at least one of them had dirtied their huggie at some point in the trip. It was awful. I don't know how I always manage to share air space with the stinky old ladies. I guess it is just my fate.

I landed in Texas, had some Texas BBQ in the airport and fought my way on to the flight to Salt Lake. We arrived an hour late but it was good to be back. My wonderful fiance picked me up at the airport and carted my lethargic self home. I missed her.

I woke up the next morning and packed my car full of fishing stuff. I was on the road to Portland as of about noon that Saturday. I stopped in Twin Falls for the weekend and jumped in the truck with my Dad. Winter steelhead were in my near future and I was elated. After an 8 or 9 hour drive into Portland we met up with my brother Lance (and co.) and just relaxed the night away.

The story I have to tell about fishing can really be defined in one word. Rain. We managed to hook two trout (mine being the biggest much to the disappointment of my brother) on the first day of fishing. That was as good as it was going to get. The entire week was cold and rainy and the fishing was a bust. However, fishing aside, I had a rare chance to spend time with my brother and his family. It was everything I could have asked for out of a week in Portland. There will always be another chance to catch fish. It isn't often I have the chance to spend time with my brother Lance. It was great.

I am back in Salt Lake City now and plugging along. There are some really exciting things in the works and life is good. I have a lot to be grateful for. One of the first on that list is that I haven't had a run-in with a gassy elderly woman since the flight home. It's a great day to be alive!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gassy Steam Rooms

Imagine a rather chilly february night in the shadows of the everlasting hills. You and your fiance stroll into a Gold's gym and take in the mixture of body oder, cologne, and the latest Ed Hardy gear. It's always so refreshing to get back to the used car dealer of the gym world.

There I was, smack in the middle of one of my least favorite places to spend my free time. (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the gym as much as the next guy. I spend a few days a week at one, in fact. Gold's Gym is not one I generally willing go to.) Having just muscled through the workout at SLC Crossfit I wasn't exactly motivated to do much. Kendra and I had actually gone there with the intent of sitting in the steam room. It has become something of a tradition of ours. After Kendra had spent some time running and doing some of her usual exercises we meandered back to the steam room.

The glass door swings open and steam rushes out of the tiled trimmed room and we make our way through the cloud back to the bench. Finding our spot in the corner we sit. There wasn't much for company this time around. We got comfortable as the last remaining person in the room found there way to the door and then out. Shortly there after a pocket sized Asian women came walking through the door sporting her one-piece suit. She fell into the spot just to my left and kicked her feet up on the bench toward me. Kendra and I continued on in our usual small talk when the most comical event of the night took place. The little Asian grandma let out a belch that would put most teenage boys to shame. Writing it now I grin and laugh a little as I picture that tiny black figure filling her corner of the room with her latest dinner's smell. It must have been good. She just carried on with her business - stretching, wiggling her toes and whispering the unknown through the mist. It made my rather reluctant trip to Gold's Gym that night worth all the pain of being there. I would have hugged her, but that would be weird.

Shortly after her gassy contribution to our steam room experience she stood up and flip-flopped across the tile floor, through the door and out of my life forever. Gassy lady, I bid you adieu.

Kendra and I pulled ourselves together and dripped our way out to my car in the parking lot. Certain to return to Gold's Gym for what will hopefully be another entertaining experience in the steam room.

Entitlement: covenant making and covenant Keeping.

This is a portion of an email exchange between my brother and I. We have discussed the topic of entitlement over several emails over the course of the last week or so. I have gone back and forth about to post my thoughts or not. I tend to see this stuff as personal and sacred. I am going out on a limb tonight and letting some of it out for public consumption and criticism. I hope it serves as not only interesting but enlightening. Maybe some day you will all be lucky enough to read my brother's words. As for now, without his permission I will keep them locked away in my inbox. Enjoy.

I often find myself somewhat frustrated (that may be a bit strong but it's the only word that comes to mind for now) while I sit through Priesthood and Sunday school lessons. I'm sure that there are plenty of reasons, some of which I am consciously unaware of and consequently unable to rationalize. However, at the ripe old age of 26 I am a stickler for doctrine and it makes my skin crawl to hear how frequently it is miscategorized, mistaught and handled lightly. To lend some sympathy to my peers I realize that I have a generally serious approach to life that most people my age probably don't. So, singles wards are generally filled with funny guys "peacocking" in front of the ladies. As guilty of said actions as I am, it's not why I am at church.

We covered Matthew 5 in Sunday School last week. I can't help but wonder how many people walked away really getting the things that the Lord had to say in the first chapter of the Sermon on the Mount. I know I didn't get it all. Something that did stand out to me was verse 13. Having our conversation fresh in my mind I was looking for things pertaining to and stemming from entitlement. "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." My inclination in response to the teachers question was to answer that "we" are the "salt of the earth" because of the priesthood, covenants and our belonging to Israel. Attempting to dilute his casual jokes about not knowing "much about salt" I ended up lost in thought a bit on my padded folding chair. Are we indeed the "salt of the earth" because we are covenant makers? Because we hold the priesthood? Does taking part in those things intrinsically grant us partnership into Israel, the Lord's covenant people? Will the Lord really keep us and preserve the earth because we have accomplished those things? "Here's the rub." (to quote Elder Holland)

What about all of those other great people who live great lives and never experience the true covenant making of baptism and of the temple? Would the Lord preserve the earth for people who haven't made covenants like that but live life arguably better than some covenant makers? That last one is a doozy. I don't know that it really could be answered. (I like to think "yes" but I don't want to stray from my thoughts here). Or would the Lord only keep and preserve Israel because Israel is comprised of covenant keepers? If the salt loses its "savour" then it is "thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out." If we as Israel, the covenant makers, cease to KEEP the covenants that they entered into do we simply wander adrift lost in our own deceit that the God of Israel would somehow rescue us from ourselves by his own doing? I think not. It is then that God would be "mocked" and allow Israel to continue to look "beyond the mark." (Jacob 4:14)

Keeping such covenants is a large topic that spreads across the Gospel as a whole. Keeping it under the context of Matthew 5 I simply look to the close of the chapter. These for me were a couple verses in scripture I really didn't understand until just this last year. Matthew 5: 46 - 48 reads:

"For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not the publicans do the same?

And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others?" Do not even the publicans so?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

Fo so long I understood this short but poignant part of scripture to mean that I was to be "perfect." It says it in simple English in verse 48! Oh how wrong I was. I cannot be perfect and it is vanity to try to do so now, on my own. I can, however, work to be perfect in love in this life. I can work to love my neighbors as Christ would love them and as my "...Father which is in heaven is perfect." I can rid myself of the paralyzing consequences of entitlement and love God, thereby loving his children; As such keeping my claim in Israel good.

I came away from Sunday School looking at covenant keeping in a much different perspective. It seems to change and shift relative to my circumstances in life. I can't just sit around and let faith lie dormant and expect God to rescue Israel. It is up to us to allow God to rescue Israel and up to me to secure my own salvation and exaltation. The opportunity is ours for the taking. "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he decieveth himself... Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

One last quotation and then I will let your eyes rest. This is JSH 1:59. Here the prophet recounts the receipt of the plates from Moroni. This passage was shown to me last fall on the drive to Idaho for a hunting trip. It has been with me since and when applied relative to our individual lives, will most likely be with anyone who is willing to do so. Verse 59 reads:

"...On the twenty-second day of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, having gone as usual at the end of another year to the place where they were deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge: that I should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected."

Consider the dire consequences of neglecting "them" or more personally, our covenants. Then, consider the glorious blessings for preserving them. Entitlement (be it omission or commission) in all of its many forms serves as an agent of lethargy to the human soul.

My thoughts feel a bit scrambled. There is a lot going on in this rather hollow noggin' of mine. I hope that I have made at least some sense. In short, we choose partnership in Israel by avoiding entitlement. We can avoid entitlement by love. What kind of love? Christ-like love for all of God's children, in particular our enemies. May God find it in his infinite wisdom to bless the world with such love through willing hands. Surely we need it now more than we ever have.