Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm a sucker for a good MLM!!!

It's true! I eat these things up. I will stay awake at 2:00a.m. and think to myself, "I really SHOULD be a real estate genious. After all, that really IS what I've wanted to do all my life." I've made it a rule, though, to NOT sign up for anything--no matter how good it sounds--on the day (or night) I first hear about it. I think this has saved me a couple times from making an early A.M. bad decision. (Also, I've tried to make it a rule not to buy anything I see for order on T.V. This too has been a blessing, whereas I have yet to find myself pining away after that super-duper nose and ear hair trimmer things--oooh, except I forgot "Hip Hop Abs". Now THAT one was worth it. Can't get enough of that Shawn-T. . . . Oh yeah, and I know Lisa loves her "Monster" . . . But seriously! We're not buying ANYTHING else that's sold on T.V. . . . but I digress)

So MLM's. Yeah, they always impress me. Here's one to which I got IM'd an invitation. It left me w/ that same "sounds appealing" feeling I get from Carlton Sheets every time I hear about how he can get me rich on real estate. If you're not scared to check things like this out (and I'm not using that term to "dare" you into it; rather, I seriously mean there is a healthy filter of suspicion, if not fear, that one ought to apply to these things--especially if you're succeptible to seccumb to them like me). . .so yeah, if you're not too scared, take a look at this one. --but DON'T fill out your real email info. OR sign up for the thing. If you're gonna sign up, you gotta tell me to jump on board so you can sign up under me. Start getting ME rich a little quicker, instead of the dude that randomly IM'd me the link.

Here's the website: http://website.ws/khjo912

Skip all the "you can totally get as rich as you want" stuff, and just click to see the video.

(So that you don't have to endure the whole "we're gonna make you a star" speil before finding out what the product is, I'll spoil it for you: it's domain names for a monthly subscription. You sign people up for these online domains at $10/month on an MLM basis.)

G'luck. Enjoy. Lemme know what you think.

Funny Bad Neighbors

I saw this some time ago, but saw it again last night, and thought it was funny enought to post here again.

--------------------

A city councilman in Utah , Mark Easton, had a beautiful view of the east mountains, until a new neighbor purchased the lot below his house and built a new home.

The new home was 18 inches higher than the ordinances would allow, so Mark Easton , mad about his lost view, went to the city to make sure they enforced the lower roof line ordinance. The new neighbor had to drop the roof line, at great expense.

Recently, Mark Easton called the city, and informed them that his new neighbor had installed some vents on the side of his home. Mark didn't like the look of these vents and asked the city to investigate. When they went to Mark's home to see the vent view, this is what they found... (see attached pictures) ...




Friday, December 26, 2008

My ability to communicate

I ascribe a great deal of power to the concept of communication. I have come to believe that when my opinion doesn't share a common ground of belief with the people I communicate with, it's not because we couldn't (possibly under different circumstances) come to believe the same thing; rather, it's because I have simply failed to articulate my ideas in such a fashion that the receiving party is willing to accept them. I tell myself that such is typically the case because of the life experiences that the listening party has had.

For example, I have a communist friend. She is convinced that the best possible method for achieving "the most good" available on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is when government provides the lower eschelon needs (food/shelter) for its citizens--even at the expense of the citizens' opportunity to pursue the higher eschelon needs of Self Actualization. This expense is well worth the cost in my friend's opinion. I believe the opposite--that government's job is to secure our opportunities for self actualization, and that it has neither the obligation nor the right to limit those opportunities in the name of "providing for citizens", "safety", or any other cause. No matter how eloquently I articulate my view, my communist friend won't see it my way. She has had too many social, cultural, and personal experiences to believe otherwise. Yet, I maintain my belief in my view.

I see power in communication because I believe that there IS a "true North". I believe the concept of "absolute truth" affects far more areas of our life than most people are willing to give credence. Instead, we have come to accept the idea that there is no 'right' or 'wrong'; rather there's only "what I value" and "what you value" based on our respective perspectives.

So here's why I bring all this up. That I'm struggling to articulate my view on the dangerous aspects of spouses developing a "non-marriage-related personal side" doesn't change the fact that I believe there are some legitimate "true North" dangers there. That being said, I genuinely lament any pain or stifling effect this view may have on my dear wife, and I am seeking to rectify such things.

I sincerley appreciate the thoughts that have been communicated, but interestingly (to me, at least) I don't disagree with any of them. That is, they all coincide with my view on this issue. (i.e. I think personal associations are important, I should be careful to not let my personal emotions manipulate my wife's actions, etc.) That may seem contradictory, but I maintain it is so.

A quote attributed to a Dr. Frank Crane defines friends thusly: "What is a Friend? I'll tell you. It is a person with whom you dare to be yourself. . . . He understands those contradictions in your nature that cause others to misjudge you. . ." I appreciate the level of friendship I have with all people I encounter. To those who have yet to completely understand all the contradictions in my nature, I just wish I could communicate more effectively.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Girls Nights Out

Not long ago, I was asked what I don't like about "Girls nights out".

Tha answer is just that I don't like that my wife would prefer to take the effort to go out and have fun with someone else than with me. I don't care that she's out and having fun. I care that she'd prefer to be out and having it with NOT me. It's not that I get mad or upset, or that I care to control where she is or who she's with, etc. . . It's just a bummer to me that on that night I'm not #1.

Sorry to everyone to whom I sound like a tyrrant. I'm sorry to my wife who has to put up w/ my desire to be her #1 option every night. I love my wife. I hope she's always happy. I'll do my best to help that happen--including try not to be offended on the nights she'd prefer to be NOT with me.

So, here's to girls nights out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Lyrics . . .

So, this is actually a response to Wade's comment in my "question of the day" post, but I thought the response was a bit bigger than is appropriate for the comments section. To catch you up, Wade registered a concern with the lyrics of the song. I actually learned them as I was learning the song on guitar. I think they're interesting and borderline profound, but rather depressing. Here they are:

--------------------------------

Lyrics to "Human" by The Killers (stupid band name, if you ask me)

I did my best to notice
When the call came down the line
Up to the platform of surrender
I was brought but I was kind
And sometimes get nervous
When I see an open door
Close your eyes
Clear your heart

Cut the cord
Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?
My sign is vital
My hands are cold
And I'm on my knees
Looking for the answer
Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?

Pay my respects to grace and virtue
Send my condolences to good
Give my regards to soul and romance
They always did the best they could
And so long to devotion
You taught me everything I know
Wave goodbye
Wish me well

You got to let me go
Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?
My sign is vital
My hands are cold
And I'm on my knees
Looking for the answers
Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?

Will your system be alright
When you dream of home tonight?
There is no message we're receiving
Let me know is your heart still beating?

Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?
My sign is vital
My hands are cold
And I'm on my knees
Looking for the answer

You got to let me know
Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?
My sign is vital
My hands are cold
And I'm on my knees
Looking for the answer
Are we Human
Or are we Dancer?

Are we Human?
Or are we Dancer?

Are we Human
Or are we Dancer?

------------------------------

So here's my take on why this is somewhat profound:

I think the song eloquently addresses the dichotomy of spirit (dancer) vs. instinct (human) that is mankind. There is a part within each of us that desires to exist beyond the simple necessities of life to nobleness and higher meaning (as represented by the author's reference to ART or "dancer"). Yet there is another part within us all that simply exists in baseness--willing to simply "be" (or be acted upon), rather than worry about "becoming" (or to act). This side of us is represented by the author's reference to a mere species in the animal kingdom or "Human" (Note: the author's lack of pluralizing the word "Human" makes it a classification of category, (i.e. species) rather than the description of any of the noble attributes we typically associate with humankind that asking "Are we humanS?" might offer.

The question might be re-articulated from a religious perspective as "Are we natural men [enemies to God] or are we Saints [meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to the will of God, etc.]?" (Mosiah 3:19) In fact, I believe this is what the author IS asking in a very succinct format (Human or Dancer). I think it's even from a religious perspective that the author is approaching the question, as evidenced by the repeated phrase: "I'm on my knees looking for an answer". There really aren't too many settings--other than those within a religious framework--where seeking an answer brings a soul to his knees.

The depressing part of the song is that the author seems to be making the choice to be Human (or NOT noble) throughout the course of the song. Either that, or the song is actually the author's farewell to his belief in the virtues that make up the realm of "dancer" (or nobleness) because he has already made the decision. Either way, it's depressing because it's an articulation of a lack of faith in the Good (and in God, for that matter). To me, there's not a much more depressing thought than that an entire nation would lose their faith in the Good. When men exist with nothing more than a Korihorian belief that what one merits in this life and the worth of life in general is solely based on the efforts of the flesh--having nothing to do with nobler virtues or higher purposes--it is then that, in the words of James Madison, "Tyranny Rules".

Indeed, a depressing thought.

The silver lining of the song is this: The author opens the question for people to consider. He asks if we're going to be OK, even though he feels like he can't get a revelation on whether or not he's human. At least, that's what I made of these lines:

Will your system be alright
When you dream of home tonight?
There is no message we're receiving
Let me know is your heart still beating?

Here's the positive part. Yes, my system's just fine, and I think most people's will be, because most who will consider the human or dancer question as deeply as the author--even to the point of looking for the answer on their knees--will actually FIND an answer, and for most that answer will include the spark of divinity that is within each of us. In fact, I think the author inadvertently challenges the listener to do just that: to pray to know about the nature of the soul. While the author of the song articulates a belief that we can't get an answer, I have found the opposite to be true. Namely, that an honest contemplation of the virtues associated to the Good will lead the sincere in heart to an understanding of the true essence of their character and purpose in life--which is divine (and virtue-based) in nature. Even from a strictly secular standpoint, virtue and the Good make mankind beautiful. What would the world be without the dancer in each of us?

. . .

Anyway, enough pontificating for tonight. Thanks for the food for thought there, Killers. That is such a stupid band name!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What a scam!!!

So, anyone who's thinking they'll update their blog just to get to the top of Lisa's list--don't waste your time. I think it's rigged. I updated but didn't show up first (yeah, try 8th!!!). Lisa says maybe it just takes a while for her blog to recognize that mine has been updated. I say she's got some kind of conspiracy.

Speaking of conspiracy-- what do you think of this whole governer of Illinois thing? I'm just wondering what he did to get "out of the club" there in Chicago. Must've "gone against the family", I guess. Doesn't he know you NEVER go against the family!

Back on top, BABY!

I just wanted to be at the top of Lisa's list of favorite blogs again--and I think it is rank-ordered by who updated their blog last, so . . . thanks for reading. :)

Oh, and here's a cool picture of Kid Rock -- just to make it worth it for clicking on my blog. Kid Rock ALWAYS makes it worth clicking, right?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Question of the day. . .

Here it is: Are we Human, or are we Dancer?

(Don't think about it too much, Mom. It relates to the lyrics of a popular song on the radio. I don't get it, so I thought I'd just throw the question out there for anyone to feel free to explain which we are--human or dancer, and why.)

Paul Potts

So here's the Paul Potts video I was talking about in my previous blog. The first time I saw this was at my MBA residency week. In one of my classes, they talked about becoming and being who you really are inside. They played this video, telilng us that this guy went on to win the competition in which he was competing.

The funny thing was--as they played the video, and this guy sang his song, I couldn't help but feeling emotionally moved by the music--literally to tears. I've had that experience in church when I understand the words, and there's a thought that accompanies the music, but this was different. I don't even understand the words this guy's singing, yet somehow the music was just that moving.

It was tough, cuz here I was in this 70-person class of MBA students (which was 90% men), and I'm sitting here bawling. Rediculous! I'm such a little girl.

I blame the sound and theater system, actually. It was a really nice sound system, and they had a much better quality video than this grainy Youtube thinger below; therefore, the visceral effect was impressive--making it easy to get into the music. Yeah. . . I'm sure that's it. Nothing to do with my simple emotions connected with this guy with an amazing voice.






p.s. Isn't that girl judge w/ Simon and Piers pretty? I don't know who she is, but she's almost like 87% of Lisa's prettiness. . . . almost. ;)

A New First. . .

So, this has never happened to me (that I recall anyway). . .

I was riding in to work today (on track to arrive there by 9:00a.m.--sorry, Ken, I know we're shooting for 8). . . Anyway, so I was on my way into work today, and the DJ on the radio started talking about this video he had seen on Youtube. He described it, then started playing it. As the song played, and the DJ described what it was about, tears came to my eyes, and I started just crying--over what I was hearing on the radio. Wierd, eh? So, yeah. . . that was a first for me. I DID cry once while watching Youtube when I watched the summary of the Paul Potts experience on "Brittain has talent" --but his music is simply amazing.

Anyway, here's the video that I liked today. I think it was a pretty cool idea. Not sure it's really the tear-jerker I found it to be on my way into work, but it's good. Don't know why I was so weepy-- maybe I'm pregnant.

Anyway, here it is:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hail to the chief!

I'm changing my tune. I support our president, whoever he may be.

I just have to believe that the inspired foundation upon which this nation was built is greater than any harm or benefit any one administration could bring to it. I'll do my best to contribute to the ideas and implementations that I believe will best preserve the principles that have made our nation great for over 200 years. I admit Obama's proposed methods of pursuing these principles differ from my belief of the "best methods" for pursuing them. Regardless, the solemn oath he will take on January 20th of next year is this:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

If he honorably keeps this oath to the American people, my concerns about his policy will be minimized. After all, he will be the President of the United States.

--an aside: I don't know if it's just my perception, or reality--but as soon as G.W. Bush was elected (both times) and throughout his terms in office, I don't recall ever hearing any kind of expressions of support or even respect for his office articulated from those who weren't from Bush's political party. . . Just fear, negativism, and even hate. I think this reaction divided our nation at an emotional level that must now be approaching that which existed around the time of the civil war. As broadly and vehemently as I disagree with the policy I anticipate Obama's administration will bring to our nation, I must tell myself that he sincerely has the interest of the Good of our nation at his heart. I have to tell myself that the rhetoric he espouses is sincerely motivated by his desire to bring positive benefits to our country. Under these assumptions, I will support him as president.

One other note--I'm not trying to appear 'holier than thou' [or the democrats] on this; rather, I'm expressing a hope that our nation will do what it takes to respectfully bring about the Good. I think, for now, division and derision of our leaders will not bring about the Good. -It certainly didn't help during Bush's presidency.

So, yeah. Here's hoping for the best. Congrats, Mr. O!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Freedom of Press in the Obama nation?

So, a reporter in Florida asked Biden a few hard questions, and here's the Obama campaign's response:

The Obama spokesperson issued this statement about the interview: "There's nothing wrong with tough questions, but reporters have the very important job of sharing the truth with the public -- not misleading the American people with false information. Senator Biden handled the interview well; however, the anchor was completely unprofessional. Senator Biden's wife is not running for elected office, and there are many other stations in the Orlando television market that would gladly conduct a respectful and factual interview with her." "This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election."

So. . .if he's president, will all press that presents an opposing viewpoint have similar responses?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BweAFSDT0RE

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama 2008

Marxism: a belief in the redistribution of wealth

Obama Direct Quote to Joe the Plumer: "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

A long list of people who also thought as Obama does: Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Josef Stallin, Vladimir Lenin, Adolf Hitler, Mao ZeDong, etc. etc. etc.

Wars AMERICA fought, specifically in oposition to Marxists: World War I, World War II, Vietnam, the Cold War, the Korean War, etc. etc. etc.

America-- Let's NOT go down this road.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Preserve the REAL American Dream: Vote NOT Obama

Voting Obama = The Death of the American Dream:

What is the American Dream? Is it the ideal that the adorable little Fivel puts forth in American Tale—that “there are no cats in America and the streets are paved with cheese”? What are the ‘streets paved of gold’ that the immigrants who built this country came for, anyway? I submit it was NOT handouts from the government.

Obama keeps saying, “look, the taxes I would raise would only affect those making over $250k/year.”—like that doesn’t really affect anyone in America! He says it like no one here cares if anyone else makes more than a certain set amount, and what’s most degrading is he says it like he thinks no one really ever PLANS on making more than that certain set amount.

He picked $250k because it sounds so high that he believes most Americans will find that number unattainable. The exact amount is SO NOT THE POINT! it’s the PRINCIPLE that’s flawed. Why? Because it takes PROPERTY from those who rightfully earned it. It’s the government stepping in and saying to a business owner, an entrepreneur, a sales person—namely, to YOU AND ME (whenever we reach the “cutoff” level), “Look, since you’re good at what you do, and you have proven you can profitably build economic benefits for your community and our country, we’re going to TAKE from you what you have earned.” The backhanded incentive is this: DON’T TRY! Don’t try to build wealth, don’t try to make a profitable business, don’t do the things that make our country ABLE to provide for its people.

It’s a dangerous road. And it’s NOT the American dream that our country was founded upon. THAT dream is Life, Liberty, and Property. We’ve recently changed “property” in our modern mantras to “Pursuit of Happiness”, but rest assured, the founding fathers spoke very specifically of PROPERTY. Why do you think our great Lady Liberty offered to take the world’s poor, their sick, their weak, their huddled masses? Yeah, we're compassionate, but there's more to it than that. It’s because these are the poeple who can build a GREAT nation. They build great nations because, when given the opportunity, they make something of it. Then they take care of the rest of those in need in our nation. These imigrants--the builders of our nation--are poor, sick, weak, and huddled in masses BECAUSE OF THE GOVERNMENTS FROM WHICH THEY COME.

These were governments like Great Britain, against whom our forefathers rebelled because they levied taxes that were a.) greater than should be born by the citizens of any nation, and b.) did not offer significant representation by those contributing the funds. These were nations like Ireland, who had failed to grant sufficient rights to potential land owners, businesses, and individuals to produce meaningful economic growth, and instead stifled such things by attempting to control the economy via the few and powerful. All of these detrimental social economic systems are part of Obama’s vision for the “New” American Dream. (You wanna read a scary book—one that tactfully and subtly articulates what Marx might call the American proletariat revolution towards 100% socialized economy? Then check out Obama’s The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts of Reclaiming the American Dream.)

Speaking of the Evil Empire--which is socialism (but that Reagan addressed under the name of Communism)—The USSR is a prime example of why NOT to make the shift that Obama proposes. IT JUST DOESN’T WORK. Planned economies promise much, but deliver SO MUCH LESS than profit-motivated businesses who have a PERSONAL VESTED INTEREST in making impactful economic decisions. Would the businesses on Wall street have risked so much, putting us in the economic mess we're in now, if we hadn't socialized quite so much--namely, to the point that they EXPECTED that if they ran into trouble, the govenment would throw them a bone (from you and me)? I think not. (Also, I think if we were going to sell our free market economy, I would have thought it would have gone for a lot more than a piddly $700 billion.)

So who DOES keep our nation thriving? The builders of our nation came from all over the world from countries like Poland, Ireland, France, Germany, and elsewhere to build a dream. They’re still coming from the Former USSR, India, Mexico and South America, China, Japan, and Africa. They’re coming for the same reason as they came before. NOT for the “free cheese” and government social care. They’re coming for the same reason I work at what I do. It's the dream of entrepreneurial opportunity that Obama and his policy makers would seek to destroy.

I own a small business (and I mean SMALL). From it’s current growth, though, I expect that by the end of 2010 (less than TWO YEARS FROM NOW), this business will easily produce more than $250,000 in revenue. Yeah—be impressed until I tell you the next part: Of that HUGE sounding AMOUNT of $250,000—given the 10% profit margin this business creates after necessary business operational expenses (and I’m not talking extravagant junkets at the 4-seasons)—my family will earn a GRAND TOTAL of $25,000 to live on from this business. And THAT IS THE MONEY OBAMA WANTS TO TAKE to fund all the grand promises he offers to those who are na├»ve enough to believe that Fivel’s little tale is really what people want from America.

Don’t buy it, America. Obama says $250k this year. First—I think there are FAR, FAR more of us that are so much closer to that figure than you realize. Second—even if YOU are not close at all, nor never hope to be, keep in mind that for you to have an income of ANY kind, it takes SOMEONE to employ you to have a business that brings in at least somewhere close to that amount. If you're a teacher or government employee, then yeah--I can see a short-sighted personal interest in building the financial strength of your employer. But would you really sail the rest of us up the river for your perceived benefit?

And, yes, I use the word "perceived" because that's ALL it is: a perception. A.) Even though Obama might say otherwise, I DON'T think you're going to see any huge salary increase. B.) Where does the money come from when all the businesses have given all they have, and there's no more to cover the need? Public school teachers, have you compared the salaries of private-school teachers to your own? Their better! Know why? FREE ENTERPRISE GET'S BETTER RESULTS THAN GOVERNMENT!!! Always has, always will. You know what kids' test scores in private institutions are? Better than public. Number of sick/personal days among students? fewer. Student morale? Higher. Students' general average contribution to society after graduation? Ha. Gotcha. I haven't actually seen a statistic on that one. Just thought I'd throw it in there as some food for thought.

So what am I proposing here regarding schools? Nothing. I'm simply articulating the point that EVEN the schools (our most socialized institution yet) benefit from free enterprise. And yes, "benefit" means even the poor, inner-city kid who could never afford school, etc. etc. . . . I won't discuss the 'workability' of such a plan as privatizing America's education here, but when a business is properly motivated to meet an objective, I fully believe that 100% of the time. . . Let me repeat so I am clear here: EVERY SINGLE TIME, IN EVERY SINGLE CIRCUMSTANCE, 100 % of the time. . . a free enterprise organization will meet that objective better than a socialized government institution. And yes--absolutely yes--I'm talking EVEN about the objective of 'looking out for others'. Private organizations do it FAR AND AWAY better than government. Compare the 100% privately operated welfare system or humanitarian aid program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and compare it to ANY government welfare/aid program. You do the research and get 'success rates' (if you can identify what success even means to the government organization at all). Let me know what you find. I know what it will be: the private organization does it better. Hands down, better. It just always happens that way.

When you socialize, over time the ruling group will suck all the life from the golden goose of the people, and we all go hungry. And yes, I have SEEN IT in real life. This is not a myth or a theory. It really happens. I actually SAW bare store shelves and food lines in a socialist country because there was neither enough agricultural enterprise nor government subsidies to provide for the needs of the people--IT SUCKS!!! The more of the money that business can create and keep, the BETTER they can provide for you--even if those businesses are not your employer.

So, who do you trust to take care of your needs? An employer you can rely on, or a nebulous “The People” (Funny how when governments socialize, they start calling the government “the people” so we idiots can say, “oh yeah, the government didn’t just do ANYTHING—“the people” [i.e. you and I] did it.)

Finally, $250k is a STARTING number to introduce a socialist principle. What’s the number next year? $200k? $100k? $50k? It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that Obama’s government thinks it can do a better job building our American Dream than we can. On a TV broadcast of a big event, I overheard Obama jokingly address the 'misconception' that some thought he may have been born in a manger (presumably near Bethlehem). He corrected the view by alluding to his "actual" birth on Kripton (Superman’s birthplace), where he was given the mission to come rescue a world in need [paraphrased]. I’m not offended as a Christian (although I should be). I’m offended as an AMERICAN, who still believes in THE REAL AMERICAN DREAM of life, liberty, and property, (keeping in mind that Jefferson said that without access to the third, the first two disappear quickly—I’ll find you the exact quote later).

Obama's birthplace joke is Funny for a moment—until you think about what his jest implies about his vision as a leader of our country. He sees himself as a SAVIOR of a struggling nation—just as Mao did; just as Lenin and Stalin did; and just as Hitler did! (I can't wait to see what the national Obama icon/statue he'll have erected in front of all govenmnet buildings is going to look like.) Please, please, please: Don’t buy it America! You may site China as an example of successful communism, but Mao only started seeing REAL success when China opened its doors and capitalized its economy--not to mention the fact that the tribal dictatorships that existed before were even more devastating to Life, Liberty, and Property than the institution Mao brought. But even given China's growth, Life and Liberty are still very limited here [yes, I’m writing this while in China]—you can still only have one child, our church can’t officially organize or proselyte here, this blog will probably be blocked by the censors, and I have to do business with the government here, or not at all. We're NOT pre-unified China, folks. We're the land of the free and the home of the brave. We ARE one nation under God. We believe in life, liberty, and property. Let’s not regress, America! Live the REAL AMERICAN DREAM: vote NOT Obama!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quote of the day

Here's the Quote of the day:

"Never argue with a stupid person. They bring you down to their level, then beat you with experience." -ha.

I read this on a forum called board.theforce.net--a place where star wars geeks hang out and omment on the most random stuff imaginable. I came to this forum, because I had typed a question into ask.com: "Do peanuts go bad?" I was asking this question because the taste of the really old peanuts I had just eaten made me want to confirm what I had deducted myself, (which is, yes, they absolutely go bad--and when you eat bad peanuts, the taste just stays with you. . . bleghhh.)

Anyway, so I came across this post that referred to peanut butter. The event the guy on the forum recounts reminds me a lot of something my brother, Wade, might do. What's more, it sounds like the way Wade might even say it. Funny stuff. Here's what he said on the forum:

"Had this large jar of Skippy Creamy in my cabinet for the better part of 16 months, and up to about a few months ago, it was still fine when I needed it (a hotdog here and there, or a quick PBJ). And honestly, even with the change of seasons, the climatic conditions in my apartment here in NYC are pretty stable throughout the year. Well, the other day, I had a hankerin' for a PBJ (can't remember how old the J is, but I do replace my bread accordingly!!), and I noticed that the PB on the sides of the jar were of a considerably stiffer consistency than the bulk of it in the bottom (kinda' like spackle). No biggie, just use the soft stuff, right? Well.....the best way to describe the taste is glue...or like before, kinda' like spackle. I was eventually able to wash the majority of the protein-based adhesive from the corners of my teeth, but the aftertaste lingered for a few days. Luckily, I'm single this Valentines.

"There was some separated oil, but this was just plain scary. I've had 'separated' PB before, but there had to have been a high level of toxicity in this stuff by then. Believe me, it wasn't worth the stirring.

"So learn from my debacle, unless you are certain that you will be going through a lot of peanut butter on a regular basis, you're better off getting the small or medium containers, even though the big ones are more economical. Don't let size fool you into assuming equitable stamina. Did I mention that I'm single this Valentines?"

Anyway. Dumb post, but I feel forwarned now about peanut butter.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My Mission Statement

Steven Covey is a big proponent of establishing a meaningful mission statement. I have made an effort to do so in times past, but haven't seemed to have it come together quite like it did today for me. While I'm certain I'll modify the mission as I continue to pursue it, here's what I came up with today in my effort to define my mission statement:

My mission is encapsulated by my motto: Progressive Pursuit of Perfection

My mission is therefore broken up into three parts, and can be stated thusly: I am a man of God who continually improves in my ability to become all that is good that I can become, remaining committed to and focused on accomplishing all that I am capable of accomplishing that is right.

I am Progressive; which means I am not content to languish within the status quo while new methods for accomplishing righteous purposes can be developed and implemented. Within systems or organizations or independently, in both personal and public affairs, I am able to creatively envision and move towards the best possible solution. Constant improvement is a signature part of the makeup of my character.

I am involved in the Pursuit; which means I am committed to being in motion towards worthwhile objectives at all times. I continually work hard and do Good. “What’s next” is my motto for pursuit; I am a man of action.

Perfection is my end destination; which means that no matter what my weaknesses may be today, I confidently expect that through my personal effort and the grace of God, in time, they will be blotted out by my strengths. I know my strengths and magnify them in a directed effort as I accomplish the purposes of my existence. It is not enough for me to simply be good, but I am good for something—a great many somethings, in fact. I maintain my perspective on the eternal nature of my soul in each moment, remembering always that perfection is my end; I thusly maintain integrity in all I do. I am a man of honor.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The President: Who to vote into office? --It's ALL about Heart!!!

Below is a letter about President Bush. The letter is reportedly from Utah State Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff. The note that preceedes the letter is reportedly from Elaine Huish, someone who knows Mr. Shurtleff personally. I haven't done any background checking or personal verification, but I believe the source is authentic. Mr. Shurtleff has been undergoing several surgeries as he's been recovering from a serious motorcycle accident (thanks for the correction). I therefore find it likely that Mark would consider offering political support in "deeper" terms than perhaps he usual might.

Regardless, this letter sums up what I believe is at the heart of most of President Bush's political action: which is, heart. Bush does what he does, because he has heart. While "heart" isn't a specific voting issue, it's what I'm personally looking for in the next presidential candidate I'm voting for. Rather than pursuing motives of power, honor, or a name in the history books, I want to vote for the candidate who, at his core, loves his country and wants nothing more than to serve in a way that will best bring about the purposes of Heaven for our people. I want a candidate with heart.

The candidates' sincere motives and desires--and their personal drive to stay true to their heart--are such a hard thing to judge just by listening to their political rhetoric or reading their books. It's even harder to discern it by muddling through what the TV networks (each of which has its particular view of who would be the better man for the job) are reporting about the candidates. That's why I'm so appreciative of this letter from Mark Shurtleff. It's simply an un-edited report of what he took away from a long and meaningful meeting with the President. What's nice is that it looks like what Mr. Shurtleff saw in President Bush is just that: heart.

A final thought: Thankfully, in addition to reports, letters, books, and TV--what little insight it offers--we also have prayer. While I don't believe that God will choose our next president for us, I DO believe He will direct the minds and hearts of the people who turn to Him for guidance. He will, by His Spirit, give us insight into the hearts of the men and women who would best benefit the nation. From this insight, we can get a view of how God's purposes might be brought about to benefit us.

And yes, I--along with the vast majority of the founding fathers of our nation--believe that this nation was established in very deed as a "Nation Under God". Sam Adams, the great patriot, made a speech about the birth of our nation at the State House in Philadelphia, August 1, 1776. Among other things, he made this statement, "We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought, and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them. From the rising to the setting sun, may His kingdom come." It really is our right and obligation, as a nation under God, to bring about his purposes. What candidate will help us best do that?

At the same time, I'm sure each voter hopes his own interests will be served by our next president. We have all read the words of the great Patrick Henry who asked in his speech at the Virgina Convention March 23, 1775, "Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbit it, Almighty God." The economic controls and means by which life and peace may be purchased today might be somewhat more subbtle and complex than Brittain's overt mis-allocation of powers and revocation of liberties at the time of the revolution. Yet, the chains and slavery that purchase "life and peace" are still offered--and suprizingly all too often accepted even today. And I believe this is happening more readily than ever before in the history of our nation. While seeking a candidate who will serve our personal interests, let us ask: At what cost to the nation will said interests be served? If the answer has any foreseeable detrament to the nation, might we have the honor to do the right thing.

My simple hope is that the people of our nation will continue to discern between that which will bring good and that which will bring evil upon us. In an Essay in The Public Advertiser, 1749, Sam Adams wrote, "Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt." I believe we are not yet--as a people--at the phase of 'universal corruption'. But there are those who will--knowingly, or out of the pursuit of a simple desire that lacks heart--lead us in that direction. I pray that we, the people, will discover and avoid such men and women.

So it all comes down to heart--the heart of the voter and of the leader. Who will trust God? Who will preserve the liberty of the people? And who will lead us in a direction that sustains virtue? That is the candidate I hope to come to discern and vote for.

With no further adieu, below is the exchange between Elaine Huish and Mark Shurtleff that inspired the above thoughts:

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No matter your political affiliation…………I thought I would share this letter from our Utah State Attorney General (he thought it was just going to his family) I thought it was VERY nice of him to personally respond to me, his email was on the forward I received. Of course we often don’t get reports like this from the media, so I felt it was refreshing to hear a TRUE account of this recent visit (late May or early June this year if I remember right).

Elaine

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Hi Elaine!

Thanks for asking. Yes it is true and accurate. I wrote it as a personal family letter and one of my nieces or nephews sent it to a friend and they forwarded it to someone, and the www being what it is, I've heard from people all over the country. Now that its out, feel free to share it. There is so much negative misinformation out there about the president, that he deserves a little positive truth to get out.

Thanks for your kind well wishes. I'm doing much better of late. Please keep our president in your prayers.

Sincerely,

Mark L. Shurtleff
Utah Attorney General

-----Original Message-----

Sent: 7/30/2008 10:49:36 AM
Subject: President Bush's Visit to Utah letter ?

Hi Mark,

I just received this letter as a forward from my sister-in-law in Arizona! J I always check forwards validity before I send them on. Is this really something you wrote and do you mind if we send it out. I hope you are recovering well from your leg issues we keep hearing about in the news. L

Subject: Re: President Bush's Visit to Utah

Dear Family,

I had an extraordinary experience this week with President Bush's visit and wanted to share it with you. I was on the host committee and, because I was able to raise a couple hundred thousand from friends, I was able to be at all the meetings and with a small group that welcomed him. He spent over two hours in two appearances speaking and answering questions and the most common remarks people had of the experience was that (1) he seemed so relaxed, happy, and "at peace," and (2) he is nothing like what the media portrays him to be; in fact, he was articulate, personable, and very spiritual.

I believe he was in such high spirits because he knows that Utah is one of the few places where he still has a favorability rating above 50 percent. He joked that he was surprised by the friendly welcome. "In fact, while I was driving up here in my motorcade, most of the people were waving at me with all five fingers!"

Cynics say that we here in Utah still look favorably on him only because we are "sheeple" not "people" and used to "blind obedience," or that we must not be educated enough. I believe that, in fact, we here hold the office of the president in high regard because we are led by the example of our prophet to pray for President Bush and to support him in a very difficult task. I know he felt that special spirit while he was here. In over two hours of comments about such pressing national issues such as the economy, war on terror, energy crisis, immigration, etc. he spent a lot of time talking about faith, religious freedom and prayer!

When I greeted him at the Stewart mansion for his luncheon appearance, I had a moment to speak to him and told him that we here in Utah love him and are praying for him. i told him my brother had served recently in Afghanistan and that he had informed me that the troops support him. He seemed very touched by that and, as I said, he spent a lot of time while here speaking about spiritual matters. Members of his entourage said that was unique--that he didn't often speak so much about religious things.

He spoke of the importance of religious freedom and emphasized that "it didn't matter whether we were Mormon or Catholic or Jew or Vegetarian..." He paused while people chuckled, and then he said with a wink, "See, this is why I didn't let cameras in here." I know that Vegetarian isn't a religion, but if someone had been filming that, the only news out of my entire visit to Utah would be how stupid Bush is for thinking Vegetarian is a religion." He laughed and then got serious again.

"My point is, it...doesn't...MATTER! What matters is that we are FREE. You see, that's what makes us so different from our enemies in radical Islam. They want to kill those who have different religious views. And that is why we must persist in our war against them. THEY MUST NOT PREVAIL!"

He spoke about the relationships he had developed with world leaders and that he often bore his testimony to them. (That's right, our president!) For example, he spoke of his relationship with the communist leader of China, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.He said, "I wanted to impress upon him how positive religion can be." He said, "I told him that God had changed my life. I was a drunk, Mr. Prime Minister! I had a serious problem and, if it hadn't been for God, I would not be here today. He saved my life! He had a little help from Billy Graham who was his messenger, but it was God who helped me with my addiction and turned my life around. Religion can make your people better, Mr. Prime Minister! Won't you please consider giving them their religious freedom?"

Isn't that extraordinary? Let me share another special story. He talked about King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He invited him out to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, because he felt it was important to get to know him and develop a relationship of trust and a spiritual bond. He said that King Abdullah, of course, is a strict practicing Muslim with many wives, just like his father and grandfather before him, but noted that the King's son and heir has decided to have only one wife. He said he wanted to impress upon the King that, as a Christian nation, we are not
enemies of Islam and that we have much in common. He told King Abdullah, "I am a believer. I believe in God. I believe he is the same God as Allah. Now, we differ a little in that I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God and my Savior and Redeemer, while I know you consider him to just be a prophet, but we are 'People of the Book,' like you." King Abdullah wasn't really responding so he felt impressed that they needed some time alone so he invited him to go for a ride in his pickup truck around the ranch. The two got in alone and started down a dirt road (can you picture all the staff and security scurrying after them?)

President Bush was pointing out different trees and his cows when they came around a corner, and there stood the biggest tom turkey he had ever seen in the middle of the road just looking at them. He said that he was surprised because he didn't raise turkeys and had never seen a wild turkey on his ranch. King Abdullah sat upright and was suddenly very interested. They stopped and King Abdullah asked, "What is that?" "That my friend, is a turkey!" answered Bush, "and I've never seen one on my ranch before." "What is it's significance?" asked the King President Bush said all he could think of was to tell him that Benjamin Franklin once wanted to make it the symbol of our nation, but we chose the eagle instead.

"I will tell you what it means," replied Abdullah as he touched President Bush on the arm. "The turkey is sacred in my religion, and Allah has sent it as a sign to me that you are a believer and a good man!

"Pretty cool huh? President Bush talked a lot about his difficult decisions and became very emotional when he admitted he has made mistakes and bears the terrible burden of knowing that his decisions have led to the deaths of thousands, and then he got very quiet and said that he doesn't think he could go on without the prayers of the people. He said that, when he was a young man and heard people say, "I pray for you," he didn't give it much thought. But, at age 61 and the President of the United States, he said it means the world to him to know that millions are praying for him. He said, "Like it says in Second Corinthians, 'I am filled with Comfort'!" And he thanked us for that and said he would try to listen to the promptings and make the right and best choices for our nation and our people.

I want to bear you my testimony that whatever your politics or criticisms of President Bush and his decisions and the way he has prosecuted this war, he really is a good and decent man who believes in our Heavenly Father, who recognizes the terrible costs of his mistakes, and who seeks to do the right thing, and is buoyed up and supported, comforted, and guided by our prayers. He loves this country and is dedicated to service and has tried to do the right thing to keep us safe and to help others enjoy the blessings of freedom and liberty.

He spoke of his strong relationship with the Prime Minister of Japan and how important they are as friends and allies--notwithstanding that, when his father was 19, he was fighting them as mortal enemies and nearly lost his life in that war when he was shot down in the South Pacific. And now, just 65 years later, Japan has a vibrant democracy and is our friend. He told the graduating class at the Air Force Academy just prior to flying to Salt Lake that he believed that sixty years from now, their children would be friends and allies with Arab and Muslims around the world because we stood up to oppression and evil today in the quest for freedom and peace for all.I am very blessed to have had this experience.

Please remember President Bush in your prayers tonight.

Mark

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Learning from my Current Condition

One night after I had recently broken up with yet another girlfriend (My wife tells me I had more than my fair share), my dear college friend and roommate, Steve Bray, and I went out for donuts at the new Krispy Kreme that had recently opened up in our college town of Provo, UT. On the drive home, I began complaining to Steve about the condition in which I then found myself, which was namely this: I was tired of being single. I was tired of the dating game—the ongoing emotional rollercoaster of finding Miss Right. I told Steve I was frustrated, and that I sometimes wasn’t sure God heard my prayers requesting that he help me finish being single and begin a new life as a married man, as I was sure was the right thing for me.

Steve’s advice was profound and has remained a pillar of wisdom for me since then. He told me about a woman he was teaching as a missionary who had been in a bad way for a long time. It seemed her life went continuously from one trial to another. When she complained to him one day, he gave her this advice—which, as a missionary, he felt was inspired at the time: Stop complaining about the situation you’re in; instead, pray and ask God to help you learn what lessons He has prepared for you within your present circumstances. When you have learned what you need to, certainly God will help you move into the conditions that will help you best learn whatever He has for you to learn next.

This perspective assumes (I believe quite correctly) that God has an interest in the development of His children. It also implies that He has an active role in helping His children learn what they need to in order to move along the planned path of progression that He has prepared for them. The idea, then, that there are no coincidences and that all things in our lives have a purpose becomes a central premise by which one can evaluate and grow from the conditions of his own life. I believe if we accept that premise, and utilize it to our own benefit, growth is expedited. Although conditions may not change quickly, growth from any condition can occur continuously.

Not long ago, I had the same frustrating thought that I had back on that enlightening night after Krispy Kreme: When is my current condition going to end?

I have been frustrated, of late, over the many business ventures that I have been very close to making successful for quite some time. I have been frustrated that they have not yet come to fruition; yet, I have been working diligently on them for so long. Also, I have had several opportunities come and go for one reason or another with no conversion into the success I had hoped for from each of them.

Recently one morning I was awakened by the pressing need to move forward with so many different projects I have been developing. When I came to work, I was immediately faced with a challenged that appeared to have the net effect of all but shutting down one of the projects I had been working on for a long time. Namely, the financing for the project completely fell through. As I began working through the challenge, my soul cried out—as it did that night I spoke with Steve Bray. When was this ‘almost successful’ phase of my ventures going to be over, and the ‘stable and growing’ phase going to begin!?!

Immediately upon feeling frustrated with my current conditions, I had the thought I have trained myself to consider anytime such feelings come upon me: I need to learn from my conditions, not complain about them. I knelt down and prayed. This was my prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please help me learn what Thou would have me to from the conditions in which I now find myself.

I felt impressed to make notes of the specific lessons I learn from the business challenges I face. As I do so, I believe I will come to realize the growth I hope for in all of the most important pursuits of my life. I think that impression, and the process of noting the lessons I learn is the answer to my prayer.

I am, of course, implying that I believe God usually answers our prayers by asking us to do something about the problem about which we are praying. I believe that where no human effort could change a circumstance which God would have changed, He will divinely intervene. Otherwise, I think it happens quite often that He uses us, His children, to generate the changes we might seek in our own lives. And so, I believe the answer to my prayer will be to take note of lessons learned.

In regards to the specific frustration I was dealing with over this financing issue, there are two lessons I learned: First, secure your financing in writing. On this deal, I had called to verify that my creditor would fund a new $30,000 transaction well in advance of the transaction, but I didn't get the verification in writing. When it came time to transact the business, no one at the crediting company seemed to remember the commitment I had received earlier. I believe a letter indicating my qualification for the funds would have solved the problem.

The second lesson is a reiteration the one I have already described: take note of the lessons learned through the challenges of your life. Prophets have counsled the children of men to keep a regular journal. They, themselves, have done so and benefited generations of nations. Really, what are the scriptures, other than the journals of prophets? But I think the benefit of a journal to the "non-prophets" of us (ha! cool word: 'non-prophet', instead of 'non-profit'! :) may prove even more valuable to the individual making the notes in the journal than to anyone else. Personal journals can become a notebook of learning.

In conjunction with writing the lessons learned, it helps to read those lessons from time to time. Just the other day, I read through a dream I had written down several months ago. When I wrote about the dream, I indicated that I didn't feel the dream had any real significance--that I just wrote it down because it was just interesting. But, as I re-read what I had written, I gained an insight into how important my family is to me at an extraordinarily deep level. While the dream may not have been significant as any kind of prophecy of things to come, the value of remembering the great importantance of the important aspects of my life was something I benefitted from greatly.

I'll conclude with a final thought from Ralph Waldo Emmerson: "Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it." Certainly each of us has thoughts on how to improve, or lessons we have learned. Language, either written or expressed, is the means by which we are motivated to execute some action towards progress. Think. Speak. Act. Is there really more to life than this?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Building Rapport to Forge Meaningful Relationships

As part of one of my MBA classes, I was given an assignment to choose one strength that is a key asset in my professional work and discuss the circumstances under which I really came to discover the strength. Below is what I came up with for the assignment. Let me know what you think. --oh, and I've got to say, as harshly as I depicted some of the attributes of some of a couple folks who may read this, I love you like brothers, even today; and I mean no offense. ;)

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Building Rapport to Forge Meaningful Relationships

I have chosen a career path in sales. To be effective in this line of work, building rapport to forge relationships is a key strength that I have had to develop; yet, building rapport is an ability I have had from a young age. I remember being able to connect with individuals I associated with at a level I don’t think everyone typically achieves from as early on as grade school.

Throughout high school, my ability of quickly building rapport was evidenced by my consistently having meaningful relationships with girlfriends and friends throughout my various involvements. Matt Hong, my closest friend on the high school debate team called it my “Corky Thatcher” effect, referencing the irresistibly loveable Down syndrome character from the hit TV series Life Goes On. He said I had a knack for winning over the debate judges just by being me.

I came to understand my ability to build rapport and consequently establish a truly meaningful relationship with almost anyone most distinctly on my LDS mission. Since missionaries are assigned a ‘companion’ with whom we are to be in constant contact every day, most missionaries have quite an adjustment to make.

My first companion, Elder Hendricks, was one of the hardest missionaries someone might be assigned to ‘adjust to’. He was just plain quirky. He walked differently than most people. His voice was loud and often obnoxious. He was a bit “socially backwards”, not quite knowing the appropriate thing to say or do in virtually every social situation in which he found himself. Although he wore deodorant and brushed his teeth, he emitted certain bodily odors, and he even seemed to breathe oddly with a bit of a snort as he inhaled. His acute acne problem didn’t help his plight much, yet there he was—on a mission to preach the gospel and to do so as my companion.

Even though I grew up in Idaho, (associating with plenty of ‘less refined’ folk ;) I found it difficult to get past all of my companion’s personality traits and truly enjoy his companionship. But a note from another missionary in our district helped me realize I was doing something most don’t. “Elder Hone,” the note said, “I just wanted to let you know I sincerely admire the way you treat your companion. He drives me crazy, and I only have to see him in a class every now and then. I think I would very literally kill myself if I had to be his companion.” The letter seemed overly harsh to me, but I learned that most others who had any associations with my companion also had very similar feelings. They were baffled at how I got along with him at all.

But I did get along with him. To me his quirks were just quirks. I didn’t like them, but I still appreciated Elder Hendricks for his strong desires to serve, and his sincere hope to accomplish something good on his mission. As my 8 week assignment with Elder Hendricks progressed, I came to realize that I really cared about my companion as a person. I wanted to know him better, and the better I got to know him, the more I cared about him. Although we didn’t part ways as the very best of friends, I felt I had a strong rapport with my first companion, and it lent itself to a relationship that I believe was deeper than he ever established with most others. In fact, of the 12 missionary companions I had, Hendricks was the only one who made the effort to attend my wedding reception.

Later on my mission, a similar scenario played out on the other end of the spectrum when I got the privilege of working directly with a British missionary who had earned a reputation of being a snooty, stuffy, prideful, hard-headed man. He exuded a sense of arrogance about himself—always correcting others’ grammar and pointing out other of their faults and weaknesses. By the end of our work together, though, this Brit had become one of my truest friends, and I believe the feeling was reciprocated.

And it’s not just the ‘hard ones’ I connect with. The truth is, I am simply interested in the individuals with whom I associate. I have a conviction that if I truly knew the heart of any man or woman, I could easily find something to sincerely admire in him or her. So, that’s what I try to do; I try to know people. As I do, I build rapport and forge relationships. It has been the key to my success in sales, and largely the key to my own happiness in life.

Friday, July 18, 2008

How to pursue your passion? . . .

Photo courtesy of Zachary Wolf: Picture of BlaineUSA Coming in from Surfing the Oregon Coast

I've heard it said that there are 3 levels of conversation, each indicative of the connection you have with your conversation partner. The first level is to talk about people and things: events, weather, gossip, etc. Second level is conversation about thoughts and ideas. The third and deepest level is to discuss personal feelings. . . Welcome to level 3 with me, where I tell you a little about how I feel. The topic: how to pursue your passion?

I was having a conversation with my wife the other day about how I have a yearning to be in front of people--to perform. It came up when I was fantasizing out loud with her about how fun it would be if I were a rock star or a teacher instead of a Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Maxwell Products--the small Utah manufacturer of hot applied polymerized crack and joint sealants for asphalt and concrete pavements for whom I currently work. (And yes--rock star and teacher are just about equal as a fantasy to me. . . at least the kind of teacher I would be! -ha.) I told Lisa that I love the pressure of having an audience that is interested in what I'm saying or doing. We reminisced a little about the hypnotist show and Karaoke competition I entered on the cruise we took a couple years ago. Loved being on stage! I also thought about my list of the top 5 most exhillerating moments of my senior year in highschool, wherein most of them revolve around my executing some kind of pressure performance or involvement with people.

(Here's that list as an aside:)

5. Stage diving at a Skankin' Pickle concert in Logan, UT
4. Kayaking the Ogden river from PineView to Ogden (class 4 rapids) w/ my brother Lance.
3. Singing and winning a group Karaoke contest in front of 1,000+ student government reps.
2. Closing out the finals of the state Lincoln-Douglas debate championship along w/ one of my best friends, Matt Hong, for the second year in a row. (Tom Yates, from our school, filled the 3rd of 4 semi-final spots, so only one of the 3 of us from BHS had to compete in the Semi-Finals against the 4th debater from another school. I drew the lucky lot of having to face the 'must win' round against some girl from [I think] Centenial High in order to clench the tournament. The extraordinariness of the pressure was parallelled only by the stellarness of my performance. I won the round, and felt the memorable thrill of creating a solid victory for our team. It was amazing.)
1. Attending the temple for the first time, and coming to appreciate and commit to a more tangible sense of spiritual things than I had ever known before.

Anyway, back to my story. . . I was talking with my lovely wife, Lisa, about how I think I would find a bit more enjoyment in a job or business that somehow required some kind of regular audience-driven performance from me--as opposed to the one-on-one sales transactions I have on a regular basis. Being the 'driver/doer' kind of guy I am, I told her I had devised a plan to start a business where I offer to teach entrepreneurs or small to medium sized business executives how to expand their businesses to foreign markets (something with which I have a fair amount of experience.)

At the same time I told her how I was moderately offended by my uncle, Larry, because when I told him my plan, he offered the counsil: just be sure not to spread yourself too thin. I went off on her about the nerve of this guy (my uncle). "How dare he tell me I'm not good enough to start this new thing I have an idea to do!" I said to my wife. She was just quiet.

I knew what she was thinking, so I told her to go ahead and tell me about how she was on Larry's side--namely, against me on starting to pursue my passion of teaching. Her response was that neither she nor Larry were against me. Quite the opposite: they were for me. They were both just telling me to be cautious so as not to hurt myself or those I care most about. Then she reminded me that I had recently started an internet retail business that seemed to be occupying plenty of my time, not to mention the task I have at Maxwell Products of setting up and managing distributors all over North America and Internationally, plus I just started my MBA. I also have the responsibilities associated with keeping track of the import/export venture I have been working on for the last 2 years. As gracious as she is, she didn't even bring up the fact that my top priority in life is to be a great father to my 4 children and an extraordinary husband to my lovely wife. Nor did she mention my commitment to serve in my church in whatever capacity to which I might be called. I also thought it best not to mention to her my goal of consistently hitting less than 45 on nine holes of golf.

"So". . . she continued, "I just think we're voicing a word of caution on how many tasks you take on." We talked for a few minutes about whether or not their caution sign was like those caution signs you see on the road where behind them, there just is no road; and are therefore, in essence saying "Don't drive here!" or "You CAN'T do this without really messing up your car" --car, being the symbol of my life in this metaphor. See examples below:


Thanks to radiofish, Chris Carmago, and Butterfingers and their Flikr pages for the above photos.

Lisa said the caution she was offering might better be compared to a Yield sign, where I really ought to look twice before proceeding forward, just to make sure the coast is clear, and to make sure that it's really 'my turn' to go. To maintain literary balance, I've included some pictures of her metaphor here:





Thanks to Brixton, Lisanne, and Chris Campbell and their Flikr pages for these photos.

To protect my pride I didn't tell Lisa that, similar to her advice, my uncle Larry had quoted Ecclesiastes 3:1 "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." He told me that if I loved teaching or being in front of people, his life experience had taught him (he's nearly twice my age) that life would find a way of bringing that opportunity to me in the proper time and season. He also pointed out how some of those opportunities are already being offered to me as part of my current church responsibilities as Sunday School President.

My question is this: When is the right time to start pursuing something I have come to feel passionate about? What are the reasons not to pursue such things? (and here comes the feelings part. . .) I feel like I have chosen on occasion to not do some things I really wanted to do out of respect for repsonsibility to things I care about more. And I genuinely feel this has been the right decision for me and my family. In fact, on the whole, I think I have done the right thing with my life so far. Let me restate that so it's clear: I don't think my life could have turned out (or be turning out) any better than it is, and I'm very happy with the decisions I have made and the pusuits and achievements I have accomplished so far.

I think that mothers and wives or husbands and fathers who abandon what they have created to 'pursue the dream' are among the most irresponsible and pitiful people in the world. I once watched a PBS documentary on 'The Mormons' wherein one of the persons they interviewed was a famous artist who 'looked around at his wife, children, and picturesque home, and realized [he] was living a dream; it just happened to be someone else's dream' (paraphrased). So, he left his family and the church, and all that was virtuous in his life to go be a famous gay artist. Now, I suppose he thinks he's happy. To me, he seems to be a selfish scumbag. No sense of responsibility to what is right. Just selfish. A new axiom I hope to live by is this: Selfishness Never Was Happiness! (I think my next book ought to be about living 'outside yourself' rather than always looking inwardly, as I feel our generation is being programmed to do.)

Anyway, back to me (ironically--after a statement like that). . . I don't want to be that selfish guy who thinks more about himself than anyone else. I also don't want to underachieve whatever potential lies within me to accomplish. Unlike the artist who felt that his family held him back from whatever his dreams may have been, I feel quite the opposite about family; namely, I wouldn't be half the man I am without my family. I feel I have literally learned more about myself, accomplished more for myself, for my fellow man, and for my God, and become more of a man in the nearly 8 years I have been married than I have in the entire remainder of my life. (I have already started my book about this theme. It's called Blaine D. Hone - The Autobiography. I'll let you read it when it's done ;)

Unlike the gay artist who was conflicted between his selfish animalistic instincts and the gospel truth that decries such sinfulness, I think my struggle revolves more around a conflict between time/energy and my desires to accomplish. In other words, I have so much I want to do and so little time and energy in which to do it. Certainly, I have been blessed with the same 24 hours in each day that every other human has. And I recognize that less time watching the TV show, Seinfeld, and more time dedicated to fulfilling the pursuits I have already begun to achieve might be a great benefit to me.

But apart from those considerations, I am left with the question: How do you venture to pursue your passion, especially when doing so could put your ability to perform in the functions you have already commited to perform at risk? I refuse to put my family's livelihood at risk. And quite truthfully, I find a great deal of joy in my work at Maxwell Products. It really is quite rewarding to build a business such as ours. But is it selfish of me to want a deeper reward from my work? . . . namely, to want to have a lasting impact on lives --to be a part of what people become --to be part of creating a memory in the hearts and minds of those with whom I associate?

Or perhaps this is simply life I am describing. It could be that we each have a simliar desire, either latent or expressed. Maybe uncle Larry and my lovely Lisa are my audience, and I should be grateful for the part of their lives that I am. . . and the part of my life that they are. I realized earlier this year that I care more about the people I work with than any other aspect of my work. Everything I do really is about a relationship of one kind or another.

But back to my question. . . I feel like if I were to start into a new venture right now, it would be at the expense of something I'm already doing that I care about. But at the same time, I really want to start this new thing. So, what do I do? How do I go about pursuing this passion of teaching and/or being in front of people that I have come to realize without sacrificing the really important things (i.e. my family's livelihood or future)?

Here is the thought I feel to be my answer for now: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. I think now is my season and the time for me to be building the business, the education, the church, and the family that I am presently building. I love my life, I really do. It's an exciting time to be alive, and I feel the world has boundless opportunities for me to pursue. My only curse is that I relish too much the joy of such a wide variety of the many great pusuits God has prepared for man to enjoy. This has always been my lot, I think. I remember in High School making the difficult decision to drop my Drama/Theatre involvements so I could more meaningfully pursue debate, student government, Youth YMCA, Mock Trials, Choir, and being a "straight A student" with a comparatively active social life. Certainly, when the #2 most thrilling moment of my Senior year of High School rolled around, I was grateful for the focus and commitment I had made to the pursuits I chose.

It's my belief that although my present choice is to continue what I have started (without going whole-hog on a new venture), I will ultimately appreciate focussing on that which is most important. At the same time, I will maintain what motivations I can towards pursuing all my passions, utilizing any opportunity that comes my way to lay the groundwork for enjoying all the purposes under the heaven that are meant for me in the time and season they are meant to be mine.

As I said earlier, I do love life. Congratulations on reading this huge long book of a blog (those of you who made it all the way through). Let me know your thoughts on 'How to Pursue Your Passion'. I am not easily offended, (despite the personal nature of my thoughts here), and I'd love to get your food for thought on this topic.

Thanks,

Blaine

Monday, March 31, 2008

Projects in the works

To Accomplish, or not to Accomplish: THAT is the Question!




So I've been involved in a few projects lately. I feel like it's kind of like climbing the this mountain. Everything takes long, but it's really quite rewarding, and I enjoy my work. So here's some of what's going on.


Fish Tracker:

This is a cool little device. The guy who invented it contacted me to help him produce and market it. It's a fish tracking device for tournament fishing events. My job is to find a trustworthy manufacturer for the device for the guy. I've also started helping him find some marketing venues for the product. It's kind of fun. I'm hoping to meet the manufacturer who will make this for us in China next month.

Metal Shovels:

About a year ago, I was asked to find a source for a new design of metal shovels. I have struggled with this one. It seems like design projects are harder to find than standard sourcing for items that are already in mass production.

But honestly, I have enjoyed the challenge. I'm happy that this project is finally going somewhere--thanks to my new friend, Harry Huang.





Safety Jackets:

A while ago, I hooked up with a guy who feels like he can sell safety clothing to a network of distributors accross the nation. It sounded interesting, so I started working on finding a source for them. Luckily, I found a few, and we're getting going. As of July 2008, we expect to have a full line of safety clothing available for distribution accross the nation.

Crack Sealant Sales:

This is a picture of Maxwell Products' crack sealants. My job right now is to setup a strong distribution network accross the U.S. and to establish as broad a global market for our material as possible. It's kind of exciting.











E-Commerce:

When I was at college, Andrius Z., from Lithuania invited me to help him with an e-commerce business he was working on. So, we worked russia2all.com, and we had a good time.

Now, Andrius has started several other websites, and he asked me to start running the business end of them from the U.S. so that we could manage cash flow a little better than he has from Lithuania. So now we have started to operate them from the U.S.
http://www.smart-shop.com/ - was designed for general consumer products, but we have moved it towards consumer electronics. http://www.s-tracking.com/ - is based entirely on GPS devices. http://www.shoppingcoast.com/ - is a consumer electronics retail website. http://www.intagoal.com/ - is a website that my brother and I set up several years ago. Andrius and I are now using it to sell educational resources. We have one more in the immediate planning stage: a website for selling costumes and party planing items. E-commerce is a fun little business. It has been a blast setting up different vendors and merchant accounts, and trying to figure out how to manage cash flow for a variety of retail environments, each with a consistent number of transactions per day. Lots of fun.


It seems like there are tons of other things I'm working on, but I don't have time to note them all just now. I have decided, though, that I am happiest when I feel like there is more to do than any one person could reasonably do in a day. I know that sounds weird, but I thrive on challenges, I think--so I guess I create them by trying to always be developing some kind of new business.

Speaking of new challenges, I've just started taking the pre-requisite classes for the MBA program I'll be taking starting this fall. That will be fun too, I'm sure.

As for now, life is all the fun I can handle.