"If I make myself vulnerable to you, you won't leverage that vulnerability to my disadvantage."
When I heard it, I realized that all the people I don't trust in my life--the reason that I don't trust them is that they do NOT give me the above noted assurance that they wouldn't hurt me if I DID trust them.
This thought encourages me to be transparent in my dealings. When people know what my interests are, they can evaluate for themselves whether or not those interests pose a threat to their own. More importantly, I should consider other people's interests as they relate to my own--always taking care not to create a disadvantage for someone who's trust I care to earn.\
Things I'm happy to be back for:
- my big SOFT king sized bed
- drinking water right from the faucet
of course, there's plenty of stuff I'll miss like:
- certain unique foods (hot pots, dumplings, beijing duck)
- silk street market shopping
- $0.36 subway rides to anywhere! (although, I'm sure Obama will bring us that soon enough)
Today I had a conversation with a friend who had been to a meeting wherein some of the doctrines of communism seemed to have moved him.
I sent him the following email:
I have a communist friend. She's an extraordinary person. We've talked some about her views. Also, on my mission to Lithuania (which was part of the Soviet Union until just 5 years previous to my mission), I had ample opportunity to discuss the doctrines of Communism with some devout believers in it. Some of the doctrines resonate with a strong appeal because many of them are centered on true principles--which is why I think they're so broadly embraced.
Today after our conversation I did a search on lds.org and found an interesting article about communism from President (of the LDS Church) Ezra Taft Benson:
The conclusion I drew from the article--which I took as prophetic--is that the overall impact of embracing or empowering communism at any social level will ultimately be detrimental to nations and the Lord's kingdom (and the growth of Christianity).
As for what you felt in the meeting you described--It makes sense that "the counterfeit gospel of the anti-Christ" (as it was described by Elder Romney) would carry with it a spirit of conversion. It's certainly not my place to judge what you felt. And who can doubt that the Lord would, indeed, speak to you to make some personal changes for good--in any meeting. I'm sure you can discern it.
Doubtless the principles of generosity, love, and compassion for our fellow man--as well as focus on giving as opposed to gluttony--ought to always be improved in our personal lives. I am convinced, though, that the institutional implementation of these virtues at a secular social or governmental level (as called for by a communism) will ultimately have an extremely negative social impact. I believe that just as feelings and promptings for improvement are personal--so are generosity, charity, and the other virtues with which the Spirit of God capacitates mankind. They are not meant to be regulated by any social implement.
Communism introduced into the world a substitute for true religion. It is a counterfeit of the gospel plan. The false prophets of Communism predict a utopian society. This, they proclaim, will only be brought about as capitalism and free enterprise are overthrown, private property abolished, the family as a social unit eliminated, all classes abolished, all governments overthrown, and a communal ownership of property in a classless, stateless society established.
Since 1917 this godless counterfeit to the gospel has made tremendous progress toward its objective of world domination.
Today, we are in a battle for the bodies and souls of man. It is a battle between two opposing systems: freedom and slavery, Christ and anti-Christ. The struggle is more momentous than a decade ago, yet today the conventional wisdom says, “You must learn to live with Communism and to give up your ideas about national sovereignty.” Tell that to the millions—yes, the scores of millions—who have met death or imprisonment under the tyranny of Communism! Such would be the death knell of freedom and all we hold dear. God must ever have a free people to prosper His work and bring about Zion.
. . .
I have seen the Soviet Union, under its godless leaders, spread its ideology throughout the world. Every stratagem is used—trade, war, revolution, violence, hate, detente, and immorality—to accomplish its purposes. Many nations are now under its oppressive control. Over one billion people—one-fourth of the population of the world—have now lost their freedom and are under Communist domination. We seem to forget that the great objective of Communism is still world domination and control, which means the surrender of our freedom—your freedom—our sovereignty.
. . .
The safety of our divinely inspired Constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that Communism shall have no place in America” (signed: Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay, The First Presidency, in Deseret News, 3 July 1936; italics added).
More recently, President Marion G. Romney, in the First Presidency Message in the September 1979 Ensign, wrote: “Communism is Satan’s counterfeit for the gospel plan, and … it is an avowed enemy of the God of the land. Communism is the greatest anti-Christ power in the world today and therefore the greatest menace not only to our peace but to our preservation as a free people. By the extent to which we tolerate it, accommodate ourselves to it, permit ourselves to be encircled by its tentacles and drawn to it, to that extent we forfeit the protection of the God of this land” (p. 5).
The truth is, we have to a great extent accommodated ourselves to Communism—and we have permitted ourselves to become encircled by its tentacles. . . .
Never before has the land of Zion appeared so vulnerable to so powerful an enemy as the Americas do at present. And our vulnerability is directly attributable to our loss of active faith in the God of this land, who has decreed that we must worship Him or be swept off. Too many Americans have lost sight of the truth that God is our source of freedom—the Lawgiver—and that personal righteousness is the most important essential to preserving our freedom. So, I say with all the energy of my soul that unless we as citizens of this nation forsake our sins, political and otherwise, and return to the fundamental principles of Christianity and of constitutional government, we will lose our political liberties, our free institutions, and will stand in jeopardy before God.
No nation which has kept the commandments of God has ever perished, but I say to you that once freedom is lost, only blood—human blood—will win it back.
. . .
My single-minded concern is for the freedom and welfare of my countrymen and my posterity, the freedom of all men.
I testify to you that God’s hand has been in our destiny. I testify that freedom as we know it today is being threatened as never before in our history. I further witness that this land—the Americas—must be protected, its Constitution upheld, for this is a land foreordained to be the Zion of our God. He expects us as members of the Church and bearers of His priesthood to do all we can to preserve our liberty.
May God bless us that, with His help, we will not fail to bring to pass His purposes on earth.
I heard on the news today that a recent poll revealed that 70% of Utah parents would prefer a new sex ed. curriculum that speaks more to contraceptives, controls, and 'how to' methods as opposed to mentioning anything about abstinence.
I was surprised by the poll results (mostly because the report varied so much from my own perception of what Utah parents' would prefer). I was surprised until at the end of the news story, they mentioned that the poll was called for and funded by the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. I don't know the association very well. That is, I don't know if they ARE the abortion clinics, or just the funding/advocating arm of them. All I know is that when referring to this group, 'planned parenthood' really seems to mean "let us help you mitigate the consequences of sex in such a way as to alleviate all the responsibilities typically associated to it."
So, I have a few questions:
Is the poll fair? -- It's easy to arrange questions to create results you want. I have no question the poll was 'rigged', and is in no way an accurate portrayal of "Utah parents' preferences" as it purported to be.
It was obvious the newscast was designed to sway listeners to believe that they were certainly in the narrow minority (of 30%) if they supported abstinence. Why is the news reporting supposedly 'empirical data' (if you can call loaded business marketing questions ["the poll"] some kind of empirical polling process). . . why is the news reporting such slanted data as though it has some kind of statistical credence. What is the news channels' interest in supporting the business of abortion clinics?
Anyway, I find it morbidly odd that anyone would support an abortion clinic's advocacy of a new curriculum designed around the ability to generate more business for the clinic.
[quick logic on "more business": students are a great market, getting more of them to simply "mitigate" results--one such option, of course, being their "clinical options"--is a great way to drive business to clinics, offering "education" (which I think "propaganda" is a MUCH better word for it) as a state-instituted level is a PERFECT opportunity to have your marketing funded. . . etc.]
How have we let such advocacy become so powerful? Assume 70% of parents in Utah really would prefer their kids just have sex and abort unwanted pregnancies... (which I really doubt). Certainly there was a time when the majority would have been different. Assuming there really are 70% in this group, where did they come from? Are we all really THAT confused on the societal repercussions of negating the consequences of procreation and devaluing life? Assume I'm right, though, and it's really nowhere near the 70%. . . How and why have we let this group be the one advocated by the newscasts?
NOTE: This post is less about my stance on abortion (that's easy: I'm very against it.) This post is more a question about how the media is controlled. It's interesting that such 'left' views are advocated in such a 'right' community as Utah. I'm sure I would find the converse situation as fascinating as this one--maybe less frustrating because I happen to fall into the 'right' category--but just as fascinating, all the same.
This thought is deeper than I have time to fully articulate, but here's what I've got:
Are you managing the innevitable OR creating meaningful change. I.E. do you simply take what life sends you, and deal with it as it comes, or do you proactively THINK about principles, actions, and results you will command by the circumstances you create in life--then TAKE ACTION towards accomplishing said results?
Are you narrowing the gap between knowing and doing. I.E. do you DO the things you know, or are you just looking at all you could do, saying to yourself, "yeah, I know how to do that", then NOT DOING it? Or are you a man of action?
So, it's been too long since I've posted a blog w/ pics., so here are some pics out of my i-phone of random stuff that I've been up to lately.
This is me riding a rip-stick. It's a pretty sweet little skate-board-y thinger with just two wheels. you have to swivel the wheels back and forth to move on it. But through that motion, you can keep it moving without stepping off to kick. Anyway, I was pretty proud of myself for being able to kinda ride one. I was just chillin all slouched out so that I would look cool when the guy took the pic., but really this pose just makes me look fat. Anyway. I can ride a rip-stick. Cool, eh!
This is a pic. of me working on a demo. of our hot-applied flexible pavement repair material: Nuvo Gap. I was working w/ the DOT in a 4-lane freeway. The traffic control guys just closed down ONE lane, so traffic was going by on BOTH sides. pretty crazy. I guess that's just the way I roll sometimes: CRAZY. ;)
This is me on my new Harley!
Just kidding. As part of a case study my MBA class was working on this summer, went to the Harley Davidson franchise in Lehi, UT. I hopped on one of the bikes they had sitting out in front of the shop. The funny thing is, I thought this was one of the bikes they had for sale, but I found out that it was really just somebody's bike. I guess I was supposed to know by the cool custom paint and stuff. . . All I knew was that it was just Bad-A lookin, and I wanted my pic. on it. Glad I didn't get roughed up by whoever the owner was, but it was pretty funny.
So there you have it. That's some random stuff I've been up to. I'll have to snap some pics of my new car, and get them in here.
First of all, the quality of the computer I got sucked in exactly the worst way. That thing you always dread happening happened: just a few days after the store’s 90-day money back guarantee expired, the hard drive crashed. Test after test showed it was irreparably defective. And yeah, I’m talking literally less than 2 weeks after the store’s money back guarantee. (I bought the thing 3/13/09 and the hard drive crashed 6/29/09.)
So I try to use HP support to see how to get the warrantee service. After about 2 hours chatting w/ some girl, she determines that I really have a problem that needs fixed. So, I arrange to have a box sent to me so that I can send them my computer. After a few days, the box still isn’t there, so I call back. They didn’t send it because they couldn’t verify my credit card number—in case I take parts off of the laptop to keep or something. . . So when were they going to call and let me know I needed to supply more info.
Anyway, I try again to get a box, and a few days later it comes. So, I ship my computer to them, thinking that it will actually return to me repaired within a couple or few days as they promise. (Shipped it on 7/20/09.) So on 8/3/09, I finally start wondering where the thing has disappeared to, and call in to get some info.
After spending more than FIVE AND A HALF HOURS on the phone with HP waiting for someone to talk with me about when I might get the thing back, they still couldn’t tell me ANYTHING about when I might get my computer back from them. And no, I am NOT exaggerating. I have checked my call log to verify. Call 1: 46 minutes; Call 2: 1 hour 54 minutes (I kid you not); Call 3: I’m on 3 hours 6 minutes and 37 seconds at the moment of this writing. Anyway, the last word I heard is that some case manager (whoever that’s supposed to be) is supposed to get back with me in a day or two. That’s right in 24 to 48 hours, as they articulate it, I should hear from someone about what might be happening with my computer.
In the mean time, wish me luck. . . oh yeah. . . and buyer beware on getting quality products from HP. . . and heaven forbid you get a bum machine. . . you will rue the day you spend 5 hours on the support hotline. Best of luck to you.
p.s. if you can think of any way I can legally make it sting HP for the time it has cost me, let me know before the Christian side of me convinces me not to seek vengeance. ;)
When I was living in Lithuania as a missionary, we used to make what we called Fazer Pie. It was made from Fazer milk chocolate (from Finland). I remember the pie being delectably delightful, so I recently tracked down a recipe. I got it from David Beck, who said he got it from Eric Frandsen. Although, I'm quite certain the recipe isn't Frandsen's original, I still appreciate his holding onto it, and being willing to share. Thanks David and Eric.
Last week my lovely wife, Lisa, and I tried making the pie using Dove Milk chocolates (I think the Dove chocolate we used had the word "Silk" on the package somewhere--probably not too important, but it was the "good stuff"). It turned out to be quite delicious. In fact, Lisa said there's nothing that she has had that tastes more like Marie Calendar's Chocolate Satin Pie (Lisa's Fav.) than what we made with the Dove chocolate. So, I'm flattered to have been able to make it for her.
We were eating some of the Dove Chocolate pie w/ my brother, Wade, and I told him I think it would be even better with the original Fazer chocolate we had on the mission. Wade told me how there was this chocolate that he just loved on his mission (in Argentina), but when he came back and tried it several years after the mission, he found it to be really quite nasty. He then told me of his idea that the Lord must bless missionaries to feel that really crappy stuff is great--or delicious--sometimes.
I certainly don't discount the "special taste buds" gift of the Spirit that Wade may have experienced (and I'm sure I experienced it too with that Pork Intestine I somehow managed to gag down--and probably those little sausage pirageliai weren't as good as I remember them); however, I recently went online and ordered two 200-gram bars of Fazer original milk chocolate, ($13 in shipping! ouch!!!). When the chocolate got here and I tried it, I found it to be distinctly delicious--just as I had remembered! I guess Finnish chocolate has a "genuine appeal" to American taste buds (at least mine) as opposed to Argentine chocolate with it's "blessed appeal" for missionaries' taste buds. -ha! :)
Well, as Lisa slept today (she's got something messing w/ her sinuses--poor thing), I went ahead and melted down the chocolate and made the real Fazer Pie. (Except, I can't seem to find the original Fazer Domino cookies we used on the mission, so I had to substitute Oreos. I found out that Fazer sold their Dominos product line, and they are now made by a Finnish company called "LU". Unfortunately, I can't find anyone who has them, online or otherwise. I think, though, that I'd probably actually prefer Oreos in a side-by-side taste test.)
So, anyway. . . here's the recipe and instructions:
- 2 boxes FazerDominos (substitute 2/3 pack of Oreos), crushed;
- 1/4 cup butter, melted.
- Mix crushed cookies and melted butter together - press mixture evenly into 10-inch pie pan - freeze the crust until you put the filling in
Filling Ingredients: - 2 Fazer original milk chocolate bars (200g each), melted (substitute 400g your favorite milk chocolate) - 1 to 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons Vanilla - 1 Tablespoon baking cocoa - 3 eggs - 1/2 pint whipping cream
Filling Instructions: - Separate 2 egg whites (save yolks), and whip until peaks form. - Whip 1/2 pint whipping cream - Melt the chocolate - temper 1 egg and the 2 saved egg yolks with warm chocolate - add the tempered egg and 2 yolks to the chocolate - add the vanilla and cocoa to the chocolate/egg mixture - mix well - Remove chocolate mixture from heat, and let it cool slightly - Fold in whipped cream - Fold in whipped eggs - combine until it's a uniform color (brown, like pie filling)
Final Instructions: - Pour cool filling into frozen pie crust - Freeze for at least 4 hours - Serve with milk, or with whipped cream on top
Now, here are the pictures and details (or hints) on how I went through these steps. Doing everything in order can make it easy to get everything done while concentrating appropriately on each task. Otherwise, you might stress about burning the chocolate and messing up everything else. I'm sure this is all stuff an experienced cook would just do naturally, but I have wasted a lot of good ingredients on messing some of this up. So here's my tips.
First--and quite possibly the very most important step of all--I neatly arranged the ingredients into a photographic little masterpiece.
Actually, here's the real first step: I chopped the cookies to a fine powder.
I used the food processor for the cookie crushing. Goes much quicker, and the results are just as good or better than hand crushing.
Next, I added the melted butter to the crushed cookies, mixed it all up so the cookies were nice and "wet", then I put the butter/cookie mix in the pie pan. I went a little "generous" on the 1/4 cup of butter. I like to be sure to have enough butter to stick the whole crust together.
Don't worry, I washed my hands thoroughly before this.
After some good pressing, I got it looking like a solid cookie crumb pie crust.
After I got it ready, I put it in the freezer to wait until the filling was ready.
The next step was melting the chocolate. Yummmm. Looks SOOO Good!
You gotta be careful that the chocolate is fully melted (without burning it) before adding anything. If you put the cocoa and vanilla in too early, it turns to fudge, and you gotta start over.
While I was waiting for the chocolate to melt, I got the whipped cream and the whipped egg whites ready. On the egg whites, beat them until peaks form. Thinking to myself, "they're both 'whipped' items," I beat the eggs after the whipped cream, but before cleaning off the beaters. They didn't work out. I don't know if it was because I didn't clean the beaters, or because I accidentally dripped in some yolk when separating them, or because I beat them on too high of a speed. . . but for some reason, they didn't whip into peaks on the first try. So, I had to do a second set of egg whites. Again, I'm sure real cooks know how to do this just fine.
Once the chocolate is all melted, you temper the one egg plus two egg yolks. This means you dowse the eggs with some of the warm chocolate, and mix it up in the egg bowl, so that the eggs get warm without cooking right in the mix. I also put the cocoa and the vanilla in with the eggs and mixed up the whole mixture before dumping it in with the chocolate. I'm not sure this is necessary, but it worked for me.
Next, you take the mixture off the heat, and let it cool for a little while. I didn't wait very long--maybe a minute or two. It might be better for it to cool a bit longer than I did, so it doesn't turn the whipped cream and egg whites into soup. But I was afraid of it setting up as chocolate again, so I didn't wait long. I don't know what's best here. Either way, after giving it a second to cool, you fold in the egg whites and whipped cream until it becomes a lighter brown chocolate pie filling-like mixture.
Once you have it all folded in, you pour the mixture into the pie crust.
Keep pouring. . . almost there. . .
That's it. There's your Fazer Pie. Now you just pop it in the fridge (or freezer) for several hours, and serve it up. Between the fridge and freezer, I'm not sure which is best. I put it in the fridge for an hour or two, then put it in the freezer for a few more hours. Like the tradition of cutting the ends off the roast because grandma's pan was too short to fit the whole thing in, I don't know that there's any actual merit to this method.
It's really a rich (and delicious) pie, so serving it with some fresh whipped cream and/or a tall glass of milk is VERY advisable.
6.79 billion. . .that's a lot! According to the World Fact Boook, 6,790,062,216 is the current population of the world. Of course, since people are being born and dying all over the world at every given moment, I'm not sure how it can identify such an exact number. Plus, what was the precise moment in time that the number was recorded? Certainly by the time I'm writing this, the number has already changed. But, it's kind of exciting to know at least a rough estimate of how many of us there are on this planet for now--or at least at the moment the number was recorded.
This has always been an intriguing thought to me: There's only one ME. How cool is that? How sad is that? No. . . I take it back. . .it's not sad at all. That I'm unique is extraordinary. What is ther power of ME?
But the other baffling part of all this is that of the 6.79 billion people in the world, how many EXACTLY identical "consciousnesses" are there? By "consciousness", I mean "understanding of the world and life and everything". In other words, what two people in the world SEE absolutely everything EXACTLY the same, and understand the world in exactly the same way? I don't think any two are identical. Like snowflakes, there are 6,790,062,216 DIFFERENT views on what life REALLY is and means, etc. Sure we all subscribe to similar creeds, religions, anti-religions, and whatever. . . but when it comes down to it, we each vary ever so slightly on the way we see it. And the truly amazing part is that we ALL think we've got it RIGHT. Extraordinary!!!
Regardless. . .rather than shake my faith, this realization strengthens it. In consideration of the the various differences all of humanity shares, the fact that we SHARE those differences makes us a human family. That we're each unique with a unique perspective on things is part of the power of the individual. It's the power of ME. And yet, the fact that we all SHARE this same power gives an extraordinary power of WE. The contrast of our human "sameness" and uniqueness makes our existence as a human family absolutely beautiful.
The question I think too few of us are considering--or perhaps we just consider it too rarely is this: To what great end are we individually or collectively exercising the powers of ME and WE? How does this question influence what I do with my time in a lifetime, a decade, year, month, week day, hour, minute, . . . even this second?
Tonight I watched an episode of a thought-provoking new "who 'dun it" series on T.V. called 'The Mentalist'. (OK, I don't know how new it is, but I assume that since this is the first time I've seen it, it's new. This, of course, reveals a couple things about me. First, I have somehow erroneously concluded that the world really does kinda revolve around me. . .i.e. if it's new to me, it must be new. Second, I really don't watch THAT much T.V. [even though I feel like I already watch WAY too much], since I get a sneaky suspiciion the show is not really that new.)
. . . so anyway, I was watching 'The Mentalist' when one of the lines from the main character struck me as being rather profound--at least, succinct in summarizing an interesting idea.
The line was this:
"The heart wants what the heart wants, and it won't be denied; and that makes us do bad things."
On one hand, it's really a bit of a statement of the obvious about motives. On the other hand, it's interesting to consider how everything we do is based on motives--and how those motives create a power that invoke action. In this case, the principle was based on a guy who had motives for doing "bad things". Conversely, I think there's a power to do good things that comes from the heart.
Of course, this idea gives some people the mistaken rationalization that they are not responsible for their own actions. Certainly the idea that something can "make" us do anything holds no water except when that something is our own motives and desires. I remember reading a news article about a woman who killed her three children and claimed that quite literally 'the devil made her do it'. I posit that 'the devil' in this case was really the deep seeded desires of her heart.
Now, if you want to talk about how the devil operates. . . it's simple: through presenting opportunities for us as individuals to come to desire certain things, then pursuading us to act on those desires that have become the desires of our heart. So, indirectly, yes, the devil did persuade this woman to do what she did--through her desires. Yet, it was she who chose her desires--probably over the course of her life.
So, that's what it all comes down to: watching ourselves in our desires. What do we really want? That's what will shape what we do. . . . and really, not much more.
I remember a phone call I had last year while I was on a business trip in Nebraska. I was talking on the phone with my (then) 6-year-old boy, Brandon, who was telling me all about his final baseball game of the season that he had played that day. As I listened, my heart hurt for missing the experience. He wrapped up the conversation with "Dad, I really wish you could have been there. . ." I told him "I really wished I could have, too" as tears rolled down my face.
I took that moment to think about what was really important to me. Work, and doing well at it is important to me--but not nearly as important as my wife and children. I thought to myself: "If only there was a way to be with my family as much as I'd like AND succeed in my work life at the same time." A few minutes later, I found myself watching a news channel that was airing an interview between some host and Steven Covey together with his son. Steven was helping his son publicize a major project the son had been working on for some time. It seemed to be along the same lines of study his father has pursued for years. I found it admirable for a father and son to work together. More importantly, I began to wonder what work I could pursue that would interest my son enough to pursue it with me.
(By "my son", of course, I mean Brandon. . . See, J. is going to be our retirement program [I'm thinking football star, but maybe baseball or bull riding will get us there], and Bryson's just learning to walk, so I'm not sure what to make of him yet. . . ;)
Anyhow, a year after this experience. . . school, work, church. . .they all still seem to have a way of trying to edge out my wife and kids in terms of importance. In my heart, however, family always prevails as first. (I just hope my actions always reveal it so.) But I still haven't found a way to include my family in my work. In any case, I feel I know the answer to "what's important?" To me, it IS my kids. And it IS my wife. and THEN it's church and work and school, etc. For the most part, Family is the WHY behind it all. I hope they know how important to me they are.
“And one should bear in mind that there is nothing more difficult to execute, nor more dubious of success, nor more dangerous to administer than to introduce a new order to things; for he who introduces it has all those who profit from the old order as his enemies; and he has only lukewarm allies in all those who might profit from the new. This lukewarmness partly stems from fear of their adversaries, who have the law on their side, and partly from the skepticism of men, who do not truly believe in new things unless they have personal experience in them.”
I just spent some time on an interesting read in Wikipedia about the Icarians--the 'utopian' (communal socialist) group that inhabited Nauvoo after it was vacated by the Mormons. (Thanks for referring me to read about them, Chrstine.)
As I read through it, I found this summary interesting:
. . .
From start to finish, the entire Icarian movement lasted only forty-nine years. Like all utopias of this era, the Icarians met their demise from within their own community. Poor planning and poor financial management along with personal disputes seem to be at the root of the disbandment. Although the disagreements were never mentioned in complete detail, it was obvious that debt was their biggest downfall.
. . .
I find it interesting that one of the primary causes of the downfall of this community (which was, in essence, its own society and its own civilization) was cited as being financial in nature. From what I understand of most organizations, financing can be at the root of their downfall. It's true in business; it's true in marriages; and, as illustrated by the Icarians (and certainly a variety of other groups), it's true in organized civil societies.
I'm now a little concerned about our nation. The underlying question (that I don't think anyone is answering) is: How are we going to pay for everything we're spending? If the answer is "the citizens of our nation will cough it up" I'm even more concerned because the Icarians (again) proved that you can take EVERYTHING (in terms of property and wealth) from a person or a people, and STILL not break even on the programs you're running--and ultimately crumble as a society.
I do take comfort in the fact that the overall tone of the recent general conference of the church was extraordinarily upbeat. . . .but it seemed upbeat spiritually--not necessarily economically, socially, or politically. Any words of comfort here (regarding the long-term health of our nation) would be appreciated.
Conference was awesome. One of the "take aways" I got from conference was that my time needs to be spent in more valuable endeavors (in terms of maintaining an "eternal perspective"). With my travel for work, I have a considerable amount of 'alone' time that I realized I could spend that time a lot more productively (in an "eternal perspective" kind of way) than I have in the past. (Usually I go to a local Wal*Mart, J.C. Penny, Khols, or some other venue to do some quality window shopping. --I LOVE shopping!!!)
Being that temples seemed to be a powerful theme in the conference (at least for me), I decided to make an effort to spend some of my personal time on business trips trying to get to the nearest temple. If I have time to do a session, I plan to.
In the case of my first of these excursions, I landed in Nauvoo on a Monday night, so the temple wasn't open for sessions. Regardless, it was a great experience. A beautiful temple!
Here are some pics. of me at the Nauvoo Temple.
Here's the front view of the temple. Kinda cool how the inscription on the front of the building identifies the commencement of this building as beginning clear back in 1841. How cool to have the thing finally constructed (re-constructed really) just a few years ago.
This shot is actually from the back of the temple, but I thought it was really a cool picture to see the temple and the flag together like that. It feels kinda symbolic to me (namely, that the opportunities for temples in this great land are, in large part, a function of the freedoms and liberties upon which our nation was established.)
This is me in front of the temple. It was tough getting a good pic. of myself AND the temple. Plus it was cold outside.
Here's "take 2" of the 'Blaine and the Nauvoo Temple' shot. :)
So, I google'd my name today: Blaine D. Hone. I found a few things: an old debate standings announcement from high school, a poem I submitted on Poetry.com, my first blogpost on this blog. . . and so forth.
Upon considering the various interests to which my name was linked, I asked myself, to what industry, profession, or interest do I wish people would equate my name? Poetry's nice, but fruity. Debate--was fun, but often times pointless (and who wants to be known for being pointless); plus, that was a long time ago. There was a contract for supplying hot applied crack sealants to the state of Kansas that I found kind of interesting, but it's a fairly small community that will be interested in Blaine D. Hone--the contact person on the contract for crack sealant purchases in the state of Kansas. My blogpost. . .eh' I haven't written anything of great importance here.
So I thought maybe "Rock Star" would be a fun one to put next to my name. Now, hopefully after a while, when people are looking me up, (of course, I imagine the 'people' I'm talking about will be mostly me). . . they'll see "Blaine D. Hone - Rock Star" and maybe they'll think for a second, "no, that couldn't be the same Blaine D. Hone I know. . . is he a rock star now? I guess I could see that. Good for him!"
Tonight I saw this video of my friend Sarah's sister-in-law, Cristina--(who happens to be competing in Atlanta's biggest loser, and everyone's supposed to go vote for her). . . Anyway, Cristina just ROCKS it out in this video of herself singing a Les Misrables song (with different words).
But it was awesome!!! Seriously, I almost went blind from exposure to sheer awesomeness. As I saw her singing, I realized I NEED to be more like her. I need more guts to just BE awesome in front of a camera--or anywhere for that matter. So, for what it's worth--tonight, you inspired me, Cristina. Thanks.
Here's the blog where I saw her: www.sarajoyner.blogspot.com
(you can go to the blog to see how to WIN $$$ for voting. :)
I have a friend who's a Communist. We had a conversation about Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. Her take was that it's the government's responsibility to provide for the lower needs (food, shelter, etc.) for as many of a country's citizens as possible. She believed that it was only after the government had effectively provided these needs that the citizens could start thinking about higher needs like 'self actualization' and 'giving back', etc. She felt that from this perspective, the government was totally justified in coercing everyone to give of their means in order to provide for these basic needs.
My view took a top down approach. I argued that it's government's job to do nothing more than preserve my right to seek 'self actualization' in the way that suited me best--and that as a result, I would be better equipped to contribute to others' needs. Of course, functioning in a society that uses currency for acquiring 'self actualizing' endeavors, this argument requires the opportunity to pursue property and wealth in a manner that is uninhibited by the government's propensity to take it from me the moment I earn it.
All entrepreneurship is social entrepreneurship (or charitable in nature or in some other way reaching out to those who would struggle to meet their own needs). Any company that generates profits also generates jobs and products and a general economy that allows for everyone to 'give back'; whereas, none of the 'social programs' we have would work without genuine profit-generating economic stimulating entrepreneurship that earns real money for real people.
The real question is "under what conditions do we give back?" My communist friend says the best way is for the government to take and redistribute what we earn (at the threat of fines, penalties, even jail for noncompliance). I say I am more apt to give generously when CHOOSING to do so, rather than when coerced to give. For instance, tithes and offerings are not coerced, yet people pay them generously because they so choose.
Coercion vs. Choice in Education
We all prefer benefits and rewards to pain; yet, it's a scientifically proven fact that, in general, we all take greater action to prevent the risk of pain, than we do to gain a benefit or reward. It therefore becomes easier to manipulate mankind with the fear of pain than the promise of reward. It's this psychological fact that motivates so many people in so many systems to Coerce, rather than incent a desired Choice.
The psychologically manipulative nature of most educational institutions is particularly vexing to me. The idea that 'students won't act unless they fear some punishment' is really annoying. "You didn't show up at a certain time, so you don't get credit for the class". . . "you didn't do your homework, so you fail the class". . . "you didn't fill out the survey, so you can't continue your education".
Is anyone asking: Did you learn what you hoped to from our institution?
I say let the natural consequence be the consequence. If you don't do your homework, you don't learn, and you're stupid. If, somehow, you don't do your homework, yet you learn. . . show us how you did that, cuz that's AWESOME!!! If you don't fill out the survey, then what? Yeah, you failed to contribute to your school's ability to show the results it may hope to show. If the welfare of your school motivates you, then fill it out. If it doesn't. . . then what? The school should threaten you with a hold on your class registrations so you can't continue to pursue the education you wanted?
All I'm saying is that philosophically, there is FAR more to be gained from natural creative motivations than coerced manipulation. Don't you learn so much more in a class where you are learning because you care about the subject MORE than the grade?
I don't think I'm built differently than anyone else on this: it sucks to be told you HAVE to do something. It's fun to WANT to do something because you care. Why can't institutional educators put some real thought into how to motivate action via the latter, as opposed to the former?
I'm sick of my kids complaining and crying about everything and anything. In an effort to give them a tool to help them mentally cope with the challenges they face in a more positive manner, I started helping them memorize this poem by a 19th century poet, Pheobe Cary:
Suppose, my little lady, Your doll should break her head, Could you make it whole by crying Till your eyes and nose are red? And would n't it be pleasanter To treat it as a joke; And say you're glad "'T was Dolly's And not your head that broke?"
Suppose you're dressed for walking, And the rain comes pouring down, Will it clear off any sooner Because you scold and frown? And wouldn't it be nicer For you to smile than pout, And so make sunshine in the house When there is none without?
Suppose your task, my little man, Is very hard to get, Will it make it any easier For you to sit and fret? And would n't it be wiser Than waiting like a dunce, To go to work in earnest And learn the thing at once?
Suppose that some boys have a horse, And some a coach and pair, Will it tire you less while walking To say, "It is n't fair?" And would n't it be nobler To keep your temper sweet, And in your heart be thankful You can walk upon your feet?
And suppose the world don't please you, Nor the way some people do, Do you think the whole creation Will be altered just for you? And is n't it, my boy or girl, The wisest, bravest plan, Whatever comes, or does n't come, To do the best you can?
We got most of the way through the first stanza when I noticed that Brittany had become very quiet, and seemed to be rather disturbed. I asked her what was wrong, and she burst into tears, saying, "I just really don't want my dolls heads to break." For crying out loud!!! I mean, the whole POINT of the story is to NOT cry if it DOES happen--not to mention a hypothetical consideration of the unfortunate possibility of it happening.
Frustrating. I spent some time trying to explain it before I finally just gave up and said, "OK, well lets think about some positive stuff, and not worry about the poem for now." Once again, the kids won.
----------------------------------------- From: "Sandra Rogers, International Affairs VP" To: Blaine Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2009 6:03:33 PM Subject: [*] Language Skills Survey
The Brigham Young University student body is unique in many ways, particularly in our experience with other cultures and languages, as well as our appreciation of multi-cultural diversity. In the past, information about our students’ language skills has been useful in attracting employment recruiters, securing jobs for students and communicating positive information about the university.
We are requesting your assistance with a short 5-7 minute survey that will help us understand and quantify the experiences of BYU students. We NEED all students to fill out the survey, regardless of your current multi-cultural or language experiences.
Your identification will be deleted prior to data analysis and reporting, so please feel free to give us your honest and candid opinions. If you begin the survey and run out of time, please click the stop button. When you are ready to restart the survey, simply reclick on the link below and you will be returned to where you left off. If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Eric Jenson at email@example.com
International Affairs Vice President
Click here to begin the survey
Mac users paste the following url in your browser http://axt.byu.edu/mrIWeb/mrIWeb.dll?I.Project=LANGSKILL&id=G333
(This message was sent to multiple recipients from Institutional Assessment and Analysis as authorized by Danny Olsen, Director. No patron will send bulk, unsolicited electronic messages unless expressly authorized)
No big deal, right? Here's the email I was inclined to send as a response, but didn't (for reasons articulated within the email).
----- Forwarded Message ---- From: Blaine D. Hone To: Blaine USA Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2009 12:32:36 AM Subject: Re: [*] Language Skills Survey
Thanks for the survey opportunity. I am interested in benefiting BYU by sharing whatever personal information I can. As I am certain you are concerned with effective communication (as evidenced by some of the content of the survey), I thought you might want to know how this message is making some students feel (. . .at least me; and I don't perceive myself as being radically different from "normal"). [I'm sure some of the blog readers might beg to differ here, of course]
My feedback is simply this: I take issue with the big bold phrase "We NEED all students to fill out the survey (etc.). . ." Reading it, I feel as though I'm somehow required to complete the survey, or that you might seek to coerce cooperation should I opt not to complete it. I, consequently, read into your message a sense of uncomfortable pressure and manipulation--neither of which are appreciated in a student's already "stressful enough" life. Thanks for your consideration.
. . . Here I've read through the above paragraph, and can't help but feel like I'm (quite ironically and hypocritically) coming off as a jerk. Part of me says the best approach would be to kindly fill out the survey (or not, if I don't care to), and not pay any further concern to the manner in which my cooperation was requested. The fact that I'm actually sending you this note is evidence that I'm acting in interest of 'the other' side of me--the one that tells me that if I'm truly interested in BYU's being the best it can be, I'll give constructive feedback to BYU faculty and staff when I'm in a position to do so.
One final thought: I fully acknowledge that how I FEEL about your request is entirely my own responsibility. I recently read somewhere (I believe it was in "Getting to Yes" by Fisher and Ury) that a person will find he is much happier, and that all his negotiations in life will go much smoother if he will but choose to take communications at their best possible meaning, as opposed to their worst. To respond at all to your email would constitute my disregarding this advice. I choose better.
Blaine D. Hone
I ended the email abruptly because it was there that I came to the realization that out of interest in my own growth, I would be better served by NOT sending the email.
Out of interest in who the unknowing non-recepient of my response would have been, I googled 'Sandra Rogers BYU'. I found this photo:
I did a search on BYU's website and found that Sandra Rogers has been working for BYU sine 1980 (if I recall what I read correctly). She was Dean of the Nursing School at BYU until 2008, when she was made vice president of the international department--the office from which she wrote me this week. From her bio, she seems like she's probably a very well-meaning person. She has served humanitarian aid missions (or maybe it was just one), and she's been involved in humanitarian aid efforts in a variety of different countries. She has spoken on faith and hope and the likes at conferences. I can only assume there's a variety of other great works she has done (and continues to do) that make her an absolutely 'salt of the earth' kind of gal.
My point: I'm fairly confident that no threat or affront in any form was meant by her email. What a silly mistake it would have been on my part to assume there was one, and react accordingly. . . .not because I think Sandra Rogers would have been permanently scarred or in some other way hurt by my comment (on the contrary, everything I know about her--which is admittadly very little--tells me she's probably the type of person who would GENUINELY appreciate knowing a way in which she might improve the effects of her communications). No, the mistake would have been for me to act on an assumption that a certain communication was intended a certain way. I think I make this mistake too often, and I hope to "choose better" more often.
For what it's worth. . . I appreciate the lesson I learned tonight from Sandra Rogers.
I found this interesting. When I went to get a gallon of milk, I walked by the checkout stand at our town's grocery store (yeah. . .we have ONE in our town, and it's great). When I had the milk in hand, and had browsed around for a couple other items, I came back towards the checkout stand. Funny thing. . . the little groups of people that had sort of accumulated by the checkout stand area were NOT checking out. They were just sitting there talking.
The funny thing is. . .this isn't out of the ordinary, it's just what happens. You can't go to Jubilee without knowing someone (and usually wanting to talk to them). I don't know these 7 people (which--as I mentioned--is actually pretty surprising, since the odds of knowning at least 14% [or 1 in 7] of the people in Jubilee at any given moment are pretty high), but it was fun to think for a moment (and capture a picture of it) about one of the awesome reasons I LOVE my little town.
You know that part on "The Mask of Zorro" where Anthony Hopkins teaches Antonio Banderas to focus only on what's in his immediate circle? British Tony tells Spanish Tony that when he's ready to meet his ultimate objective, it will appear in his circle to be dealt with? . . . yeah that was a good part.
Anyway, I feel like my work life has kind of been like that. In 2006, I took on some new responsibilities at work, and I really wanted to "conquer the world" (the world of hot applied joint and crack sealants anyway). . . And that's exactly what I tried to do. I helped reorganize everyone's territory; I helped get a few new reps hired (we still have 2 of the 3); I went to China a few times to get stuff rolling there, and I started trying to get some dealers and various business partnerships going around the nation. etc. etc. etc. I was chasing everything everywhere. I wanted to do it all.
Well, it didn't work out so hot. My China partners' business thinned out, none of my potential dealer partners exploded like I hoped, and nothing really seemed to work out great. I think it was because I didn't give any of these ventures the appropriate focus they each needed. By the end of last year, I felt kind of like where Antonio B. was in Zorro when Anthony H. found him-- just kinda a loser.
So at the start of this year, I drew my circles and started focusing on smaller areas. In January, I had one single goal: to effectively manage my responsibilities with one particular account. I did well there, and the account blossomed. . .and a couple other good things happened that month, as well. The next month, the circle got a little bigger. This month, it has exploded. . .Canada, Venezuela, Ukraine, China . . . I've got business coming to me from all these places--I mean, it's coming to me rather than my having to go chase it. Furthermore, my U.S. dealer network seems to be developing itself in a similar fashion. I focus diligently on what I've got, and the new stuff seems to make its way into my view when I need to handle it.
I'm not saying it's all just "happening". I've been working darn hard, but I've decided to work and focus ONLY on the things I know I can handle. As I have done so, I have been able to handle more and more, and the things that are in my immediate view and focus seem to be getting bigger and broader.
The cool thing is I'm actually able to HANDLE all that's coming my way. It's really fun. I hope I can keep it up.
I share this. . .NOT to brag about the "flow" of the 'ebb and flow' of my business, but to point out a principle I hope to remember: if you focus on what's right in front of you, and do it well, you will eventually have the opportunity to do ALL the things you are meant to do. . . and that opportunity will come when you're prepared to do those things well.
Circles, baby! It's all about focusing on what's in your sphere.
Wow! I experienced something interesting today. While sitting at the Phoenix airport on a connection to Kansas City, I glanced up at the TV that was playing in the waiting area at the gate. I could scarcely hear much of what was playing, but I could make out the news story if I listened closely. I glanced away for a few seconds, until a commercial promoting travel to India began.
Now, I have never had any interest in anything India. I’ve never cared to go there. I don’t particularly care to pursue business there. I certainly have nothing against the place or any of the people I have met from that region (including India, Nepal, Pakistan, etc.)—and I have more associations with people from these diverse cultures than most people I know. But I just haven’t had the desire to visit the area.
Yet, when this commercial played, I was mesmerized. It literally changed my desires. The music, the art, the colors, the activities portrayed—everything about the commercial spoke to me. The thing could have only been 30 seconds long, yet the impact it made on me—in a busy convoluted setting, mind you—was powerful. I finished watching the commercial thinking: Man, That would be kinda cool to go to India sometime. Upon realizing where my thoughts had gone (namely, “I wonder what kind of business success would justify a trip out that way”) I paused to think about why it was that I suddenly felt differently than I did a moment ago. It was the commercial. In 30 seconds, I went from not caring if I ever see that region of the world to really wanting to go there. AMAZING is the power of effective advertising!
Post Script: Upon recognizing this 30 second advertisement as the source of my motivation for trying to formulate a plan to find my way to India, I actually dropped the line of thinking to focus on more important objectives. But it’s worthwhile to note how effective good advertising can be at helping actually mold desires among its targets.
Application: How much of our hope in a new presidential administration (or other change we pursue as a nation or individual) is based on effectively designed and placed public messages? (Note: this is not a criticism—merely an observation of how we come to see what we see and want what we want.) I wonder how much of what my children come to want, do, and achieve in life is based on messages I don’t even realize they’re receiving. How subtle are the moments that take us to where we ultimately go in life. I wonder how much of where I am (what I have, do, and think) right now was by the calculated design of some or another marketer in one form or another.
I don't know what it is, but I think there's something not right about reality shows. . . espeicially "The Bachelor". I'm sure there's no way I could adequately articulate WHY I feel this way, but I do. Wish I could even start to describe what I'm talking about, but I can't. I'll let you know when I have put my finger on what I find so objectionable.
Between now and then. . .for what it's worth: I hate reality shows--especially the Bachelor.
What an actual non-lying conversation last Saturday could've REALLY sounded like:
Someone: So, Blaine, what'd you do last night?
Blaine: Oh, I don't know, not much. . . went to the mall. . .got some Chinese food. . . rode in a Ferrari.
Someone: Get out! You're kidding.
Blaine: I'm totally serious. It was a Ferrari F430, and we went like 150 miles per hour.
Someone: I am calling "Bull" on this, cuz there's no way that could be true.
Blaine: Well, thank goodness I just happened to have my Handy Dandy InsigniaSD Mini Camcorder to capture the event on film.
Someone: Get out!! Let me see. . .
See you shall. . .
here it is. . .
Yeah, I DON'T know my cars very well.
All that really matters is . . . that's ME getting IN the Ferrari!!!
Here we are going FAST!!! When I show the speedometer. . . it was up to like 150 mph. I'm not even kidding. I'm not sure if we got quite to 150 or not, but whatever we were doing, it was FAST.
Watch the video again, and count the seconds between when we start accelerating, and when you see the speedometer. (I count 8 sec. . . Zero to 150 in EIGHT SECONDS!!!! Whoa Momma!) AWESOME!!!
Here's a picture of the speedometer, to give a feel for actual mph readings. You can compare it to the blurry light blips you can see in my shaky video footage to try to figure out how fast we were going.
Suffice it to say: it was QUITE the experience!!!
So, how did I come by such an opportunity? Someone at the trade show (where I was working last week) had a side job of renting out exotic cars by the hour for test drives. They told me where the cars were parked. When I went over to go see the cars, my trade show contact offered to let me ride with them to go put the cars in the garage. At first I was like, "oh, no thanks, I really don't think I'd ever like to ride in a car that most people never even get to touch." But I came to my senses and jumped all over the opportunity.
They even let me sit in the driver seat, start it up, and rev the engine a couple times. It really was cool. It was like having your own roller coaster ride. AWESOME!!!
If anyone wants to know where you can drive Ferrari's, Lamborghini's, Phat and Phancy Porches, Mercedeses, and a few other exotics, let me know and I'll hook you up. For $150/hr. or $500/half day tour, they're all yours! Or, for Fathers Day, there's a special deal: $300/2-hour tour for 2 people.
So there's a 'deep thoughts by Jack Handy' from SNL that goes something like this:
If I were ever to fall off the top of the Empire State Building, I think I would go limp and act like a dummy, so that maybe someone on the street would try to catch me because they would look up and see me and say, "hey, free dummy."
. . .
This "deep thought" relates to a book title I just heard about. I felt like the thought above and the book title were really similar. It's called:
"If life was easy, it wouldn't be hard."
I think that's about as cool a book title as:
"If my shirt wasn't red, it would be some other color."
Mind you, I've met the author of this particular book, and she's awesome. I'm sure the book's great. Just a dumb title.
I work with a sales coach who is big on understanding personality types. While I agree with the principle of tailoring your communications to the characteristics of an audience, I think it's difficult to concretely classify people as a . . . "fill in the blank". I think that different facets of personalities shine in different lights.
I don't know if this is true for everyone. Really, I don't even care much if it is or isn't. Maybe everyone else really IS easily classifiable into one or another personality type, and that's fine. But as for me-- I don't believe I am. Instead, I believe I utilize different characteristics of a diverse personality in different situations. For example, I'll spend 35 minutes evaluating a new shirt (or selection of shirts) before coming to a decision to buy. I'll carefully consider myriad factors that will affect my decision. Similarly, I can ponder the depth of a philosophical premise--or a strategy for solving a problem--for hours, and still wish I had more time to think through the problems of the universe. I think these behaviors would reveal me to be a very analytical person.
On the other hand, there are times when I'll exhibit a distinct lack of patience or make very hasty decisions. Also, I have a tendency to be very direct with many of my communications--occasionally coming across as lacking tact. All of these are characteristics of a Driver personality type.
I could go on explaining situation after situation where I care a great deal about the approval of others-- amiable/accommodating personality type. Also, I am easily distracted, appreciate the opportunity to express myself, and have an easy time experiencing and dealing with emotional matters--all characteristics of the expressive/emotive personality type.
My point is this: I behave according to the demands of any given situation. I hate being classified as a person who is "always" (or even "mostly") going to act a certain way. Why am I offended by this type of classification system? Because it undervalues the aspects of ME that it doesn't take into account.
On the other hand, cultural classifications don't seem to offend me: i.e. white people are "up tight"; Americans "always think they're right"; Mormons can be "annoyingly happy". . . for some reason, I can accept these types of statements--even as a White American Mormon. I accept that I fit in with the group on these.
Perhaps it’s the personal nature of some classifications that bugs me. It's the idea that these classifications just ARE who I am. The idea that people can't/don't change offends me. I think one of the morals to glean from the TV show, House, is "If life were really as purposeless as Dr. House sees it, most of us would be as depressed as him". My point is this-- no matter what my personal behavioral traits are now, I am constantly growing and becoming something more than I am now. Telling me "I AM" some personality or another seems to tell me I am NOT a bunch of other things I think I really am. . . or at least am becoming.
Why does this all come up? I started reading Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. I'm just into the 2nd or 3rd chapter, but already I disagree with most of what I'm hearing (not to mention being completely annoyed with the relentless application of the childish analogy of "Martians" and "Venusians"). By and large the author says that since I'm a man, I prefer to resolve issues alone "in my cave" without the help of my wife, and that ultimately, I prefer LESS communication to MORE. Both statements are absolutely false about me. I'm perfectly comfortable, and LONG for the opportunity to talk with my wife about my problems. While I agree with the idea that, as a man, I DO enjoy knowing that I am accomplishing something, I wouldn't say that feeling drives me more than my concern for relationships.
In a nutshell--my "cave" (as per the book) is a dark and lonely place, and I DON'T want to be there. What's more--I REALLY don't want to be there alone. Wife--if you ever see me in my "cave", and you can't help me come out of it, at LEAST come join me in there and empathize with me for a minute.
- how to "beat the funk"--what to do to change my mood from lazy to productive; sad to happy; stressed to peaceful; or any other shift that could be useful.
I've noticed that I can get some amazing stuff done when in a productive "mood". But all too often, I'm just not IN that mood, and can't seem to motivate myself to get into it. Same thing w/ other moods: productive, funny, creative, etc. What can I do to "get into it" . . . whatever "it" is.
I'm looking for an effective system or process to get motivated to DO the things I don't feel like doing. Let me know your thoughts, please. I welcome ALL perspectives, so no matter how you came to read this today, please leave a comment.