Thursday, January 28, 2010

Best Evidence

Perhaps it's just the culture in Utah, but I suspect, having seen the way citizens of this nation conduct themselves on the national news, that it may be a nation-wide thing.

Anyway... Everywhere else where I have lived, while people tend to support one political party or another, they generally don't get so attached to their party that they'll throw logic out, and vote only for their party and against the opposition. And to be fair, most other countries I've lived in have multiple parties, not just two major ones.

Granted I haven't lived that many other places, and I've never been really involved in politics, but that's the impression I've gotten both here and abroad.

So with all that aside, I found the following posting rather interesting...

Well Done America

People might bitch and complain about the leadership in power at any one time, but when you consider the posting above, voter turn out and how money talks louder than the voice of the people, I think it's fair to say we've wasted our shot at democracy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Best Question

About a year ago, it came out that a local Utah Senator by the name of Chris Buttars had made a statement to the effect that the Gay Movement is the greatest threat to the United States of America.

Earlier this week, the movie for which he was interviewed was debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. There is a whole bunch more to this story and you can see more clips over at a piece by Latter-day Chino - here.

I'm just going to include 1 video clip here. If you can stomach watching this, it's Senator Buttars response to his appearing in the movie as a homophobic bigot.

So just to clarify... His excuse for saying that Gays are the greatest threat to America is that he was 'cleverly' deceived by the crew putting together the movie (8 : The Mormon Proposition).

Here's my question for the good Senator...

How exactly were you deceived?

Here's the thing:

He claims the camera crew were wearing BYU shirts and talking about their missions and that was how they deceived him.

He also claimed in another video that he had checked on the Reed Cowan's background, and had been told he was a 'stand-up' guy.

So there we have the Senator, sitting down in his office with the impression that the person interviewing him was a stand-up guy, and that everyone involved in the interview were faithful LDS members because they served missions and had BYU shirts on.

So in that environment, he then chose to spew forth his unique brand of anti-gay rhetoric.

So if that is all true, the one can only assume that amongst other Mormons, a Mormon can feel relaxed and spew forth this kind of crap. Did they trick him into being honest?

That looks pretty poorly on your religion Mr. Senator.

Oh, but there is more... After reviewing all the media associated with the interview, it turns out that while one of the camera men had on a BYU jacket, it was the only piece of BYU attire in the room at the time. Reed Cowan, who conducted the interview, has a picture of he and the good senator and he is most definitely not wearing a BYU shirt.

So, in his explanation of how he was cleverly tricked by the makers of the documentary, he lies to explain how he was tricked.

That looks pretty poorly on your personal integrity Mr. Senator.

Finally, after these remarks, as well as other comments about a bill he opposed being a 'black baby' of a bill, Mr. Buttars has shown himself to be both a homophobe and a racist. And yet, because of his political affiliation, he got re-elected.

The looks pretty poorly on both your party and those you represent as well, Mr. Senator.

Finally, Mr Buttars confirms that he is LDS and that as such he is obliged to believe that traditional marriage between a man and a woman is what he should support.

Let me finish with this wonderful quote by Brigham Young. Second Prophet of the LDS Church and founder of the State of Utah...

"Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire....Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers."

Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord's servants have always practised it. 'And IS THAT RELIGION POPULAR IN HEAVEN?' IT IS THE ONLY POPULAR RELIGION THERE,..."

Brigham Young, The Deseret News, August 6, 1862

Let me join with Mr. Cowan in requesting the resignation of Senator Buttars.

Best Birth Control

Several months ago, I spent a rather long weekend replacing the carpet in our family room with laminate flooring. The result is a surface which is both easy to clean, and which adds a certain amount of warmth and charm to the room.

It also provides a great surface for kids to have fun on.

We purchased 4 wiggle cars for Christmas this year. They're kind of a cool design and you turn the front wheels and shift your body weight to get them to move, and of course the youngest of the kids stick their legs out the sides and push them along as well.

Last night, after dinner was finished and the Mrs and I were cleaning up, the volume from the aforementioned room seemed to increase exponentially.

They're rolled back the big rug in the center of the room, and were all racing around like mad things. I pulled out my phone to get a video of it, and then accomplished my first YouTube video upload.

Now, before you view it, and pass judgement...

It was my first YouTube video, and I realize now, that by zooming in and out caused some rather loud beeps to occur. I also learned to inform the kids before hand, so you don't have one sitting mid-frame saying... Dad, are you recording us? Dad are you recording us....

And it was taken with my cell phone, so the image quality is somewhat lacking.

If you're considering having kids, I'd urge you to watch this video as part of foreplay.

Of course in all seriousness, while there are far too many of them, I wouldn't give any of these guys up for anything. Love 'em all to death. And I think this video is proof too that I married the world's most incredible woman. The fact that she deals with this day in and day out, and has yet to be institutionalized, or medicated with anything other than the occasional Coke or 3 Musketeers bar is testament to her awesomeness!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Best Pie

It's Monday, and I logged close to 100 miles on my bike trainer this weekend - And just in case you're concerned, the lions share of that came in the wee hours of Sunday morning. 1am and there I was watching American Pie and cranking away, while dripping sweat. Good Times!

But that isn't the pie I'm referring to...

This morning, my legs were dead and my body was achy. It's become a rather common feeling of late as my training ramps up significantly.

I was prepared before going to bed last night. I had my running bag packed, and a second bag packed with all my work stuff, since I planned on starting the day off with a swim.

I distinctly remember grabbing my keys and my id for work as well and having them ready to go.

Sleep was hard to come by last night. Not that I was tired, but on hourly intervals, Koda Kids #3 and #4 decided that they needed parental intervention in their lives.

When my alarm went off at 4:20, it felt like I had just barely put my head down again for the 4th time.

I grabbed my phone (Which I use as a secondary alarm and reset it for 5:55) and then rolled over and tried to get as much sleep as I could in the 30 minutes remaining.

Now you may be questioning my math skills, but in my defense it was freakin' early in the morning.

At 5:30, my sweet wife woke me up by asking why I wasn't meeting my carpool ride (We meet at 5:30). Dazed and confused, I grabbed my phone, and then realized that I'd screwed up. Texts were hastily sent and I hustled into the shower.

I was still in a good mood at this point.

By 6 I was ready to go and just needed my keys...

And they weren't were I left them.

I searched the whole room, and then ran down to the kitchen and then to my office...


That was when things turned south for my mood...


I knew I was being cranky, and my reactions were unjustified, but I was having a hard time stopping myself.

I think my poor wife was the only one I disturbed, although Kid #4 started whining about something and got a rather curt and nasty comment from me in the midst of my ransacking the bedroom.

15 minutes later and I decide to check the bag I was planning on taking to the pool, and discover that in my packing of the clothes last night, I'd thrown my keys in as well.

Humble Pie sucks.

I apologized to Mrs Koda profusely, and tried to snap out of my funk, but I'm struggling with it still, and I'm not sure if my rude awakening of her will be forgotten too soon either.

While I try to return to my job and try and improve my outlook for the week, let me share this. I think Mr. Vedder does a better job than the Beatles, but that's just my opinion.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Best Picture - An Explanation

12 or so years ago, when I first came over to the United States, it was for two reasons.

  1. I needed to further my education

  2. I needed to find myself a wife

As a devout and practicing Mormon, and recently returned Mormon missionary, it was time for me to move on with my life. Part of that was obtaining a degree, and the other part was to find an eternal companion. And both needed to be accomplished with all due haste, lest Satan have his way with me.

For Mormons, particularly those raised outside of the country (possibly outside of Utah). BYU is the ultimate place to attain such goals. As the Lord's University, obviously the education would be perfect, and being surrounded by plenty of young ladies, desperately seeking their MRS degree, the marriage prospects are pretty high.

Of the 4 of my siblings who have attended there, 2 found their mates this way, while the other two found them shortly prior to attending.

I met my wife prior to attending as well. Truth be told, we were both Mormon missionaries... It's a fun story, which I'll elaborate on more in time, but the short version is that we shared a outwardly platonic relationship while missionaries (Although, there was plenty of hidden attraction inwardly - at least for me).

Our biggest fear was that when we finally kissed, the attraction would end, and it would be like kissing a sibling.

In our rather naive and idealistic minds, we figured we would wait until July 13th for our first kiss. There were reasons for it, and since I arrived and July 3rd, it was only 10 days...

Well, within a couple of hours of my plane touching down, we'd pretty much confirmed that the attraction was very physical, and instead we picked July 13th to get engaged.

So with the quest for a wife out of the way, I proceeded down to Provo to take care of my education.

I spent just a couple of hours on campus, and even as a very active and enthusiastic Mormon at the time, I just knew it wasn't the place for me. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I have considered returning on a couple of occasions since, but generally I think back to my initial impressions and look elsewhere instead.

With those experiences, I've taken to referring to Utah County, particularly the BYU campus as Mordor.

Initially it was just in jest, but as I've learned more about the organization which runs the school, and how things are managed down there, the comparison shares more than just a few similarities.

I made this comment to the person who created yesterdays image.

Their original title for it was "The Eye of the Honor Code".

I can elaborate more on the honor code if any readers would like to know more about it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Best Picture

I'm not the creator of this image, but when it was sent to me the creator requested that I not share their name if I posted it. However, if you want to send accolades their way, I believe they do visit this blog on occasion, so feel free to leave it in the comments.

Bragging rights to the first person who can guess where this is!

I'll share the story behind it tomorrow.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Best Tweet - Your Vote

So today I read this blog post here.

I seriously considered posting something about it on Facebook, but due to 2 reasons...
  1. I couldn't figure out what exactly to post

  2. My mission president, extended family and numerous ex-missionary friends are on my friends list

Of course I could probably get the balls together to overcome number 2, because I really need to "Come Out" to these people at some point, and this would be a rather subtle way of doing it.

So perhaps if I can choose the right way to do it...

Let me know which one you like, or if you have a better one, feel free to post that as well.

  1. Plausible Deniability, just means you're planning on lying again when you get caught.

  2. Plausible Deniability, just like lying, except you've managed to fool yourself as well

  3. Plausible Deniability, a lie is still a lie, and a turd is still a turd, even if you call it Fecal Matter.

  4. Plausible Deniability, let me know how that one flies up at the pearly gates, OK?

My goal is to make people think and be snarky at the same time.

Vote away!

Best Advise for Spammers

I don't know about other bloggers, but I've gotten a lot of wacky spam type comments lately.

The crazy thing is... This spam is posted anonymously, and no links are included. So there is no way to track back to who it was, or why they're spending their time posting comments with badly worded attempts at compliments while it is painfully obvious they haven't read the post itself.

My advice to spammers...

First, include a link, so at least I know why you're including your badly worded comments.

Second, this blog doesn't use square brackets to designate a link, it uses standard HTML. If you use the square brackets approach as used by PHP-BB and other products, your post just looks tacky and ugly.

Follow those two guidelines, and at least I, and those who subscribe to the post, will know what the hell you stand for.

I'll still delete your comments as soon as I can, but at least for the few minutes or seconds you have them up, you'll look slightly professional!

Best Video

A good friend posted a link to this video on Facebook sometime ago...

I don't believe it was aimed at any one religion, but it did cause me to stop and think about my relationship with religion.

It could be something which causes the viewer to consider their personal beliefs, and it could also be something which merely provides some entertainment (although a little dark).

The other option is that is provides an excellent plan to achieve a great deal of success...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Best Country

I'm not a country music fan, not by any stretch of the imagination. I've listened to it from time to time though, but I've found in large doses, it makes me cranky.

There are however a couple of good songs out there...

I was going to post this one but I couldn't find a decent version of the video which allowed embedding as well, plus I was worried about offending those among my readers who are of the female persuasion. It does contain the best song lyric though "Shut my mouth, slap your grandma!"

Anyway, it may have been a Seinfeld reference which got me think about this, plus I'm in kind of a weird mood anyway, most likely due to 3 hours at the DMV with 3 kids.

Here's the song in 2nd place on my country music top 10.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Best Challenge

So I finally got the water heater installed...

It took a LOT longer than I thought it would. I chronicled the adventure from yesterday of taking down a wall of two and removing the studs from inside.

This morning, I got the pipes cut and was able to manouver the new heater into place. It's the same capacity as the old one, but significantly bigger, I'm thinking this is due to increased insulation, and hence better efficiency.

Then came the trick of connecting the pipes and the gas. The gas, which I had feared the most was actually the easiest part of the operation. It was the water connections which gave me fits. Rather than learning the art of soldering, I opted for some compression fittings and a series of flexible steel encased pipes. It's not the prettiest connection setup, but it works, and it should make maintenance a lot easier.

I was up well before 6am this morning, and shortly after noon, I finally got it to fire up. Sometime around 2, the water finally appeared to have reached it's optimal temperature.

I'm calling this mental training for IronMan!

And here's what I'm listening too right now, just since this is rather a boring post!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Best Excuses - Part 2

Today's Excuse...

Why I won't be winning anything for this months edition of NaBloPoMo.

Yesterday was kinda busy. I woke up and tried to get a quick cycle in on my trainer, but I wasn't feeling it. 4 miles later, I went upstairs and changed into my running clothes.

It was about 25 degree (-4 or so I'm thinking for my non-US readers), and it was really misty. It was actually quite pleasant to run in, and I returned home covered in frost, with little balls of ice on the ends of my eye lashes.

Then it was off for a quick stint at Church, whereat it was only confirmed to me that I really need to get out of this teaching gig.

As a complete aside, have you ever realize just how many holes there are in the story of Adam and Eve?

Back from Church, changed into cycling clothes and went to hook up with a couple of tri-club members for the annual polar bear ride, which we all missed on New Years Day.

The air was crappy and cold, but it was actually nice to not be indoors. Got to meet a few new triathlete friends and returned home. All in all a good day, except that I was wiped out by the end of it, and forgot to blog.

I spent most of today installing a new water heater. Easy enough, except when they built the house, they put the heater in, and then installed the gas and framed around it... There was no way of getting it out.

So far I have taken out a big section of 1 wall and a bit of the adjacent wall. I've also removed 4 studs. Home Depot opens tomorrow at 6am. I'll be there shortly thereafter to purchase a pipe cutter, some MAAP gas, and I then hope to learn how to solder pipes. Hopefully I'll get to work before noon, leaving Mrs Koda, with access to a hot water source that runs at more than just a trickle.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Best Excuses - Part 1

I'm thinking of combining the Best theme with a theme on excuses this week. Today's installment...

Best reason not to attend Church Services.

We hit November last year, and Mrs Koda started to worry. For the past 9 years, it seems like every 6 months we get the pukes going through the kids, and occasionally it'll spill over to us as well.

What freaked her out 3 months ago, was that we were well over due, and Christmas was approaching.

The good news is that we made it through Christmas. However the puke fairy visited us on Monday night of the past week, and continued making sporadic visits through the week, until a big visit last night, which resulted in 2 kids spending the day with bowls in hand, and towels covering pillows.

Coincidently, our Church attendance was pretty dismal in the last half of 2009. Guess what we did last Sunday though?

I think with school or work, being sick is a grand excuse to skip.

But when it comes to Church, it's not the boss you don't like, or a teacher who may be upset to find out your sick, but a God with unreasonably high expectations.

So next time you're tempted to attend services... Think about staying up all night with an 18 month old hurling her poor little guts out.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Best Way to Die

If I had to die choking on a piece of food, I think I'd like it to be a nice fresh lemon bar! Mmmmmmmmmmm!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Best Day Ever!!!

So as many of you know, I've managed to gain for myself quite an addiction to endurance racing, especially triathlons.

One of the down sides of all the swim training, is that after a while you develop a rather strong chlorine odor... You'd think that with all the sweating I've been doing on the bike trainer down in my basement, that this wouldn't be too much of an issue, but according the Mrs Koda, it still is. The other downside with excessive training is that a person's libido tends to increase, at least during those times you're not either working out, or fast asleep on the couch from exhaustion. But that particular side effect causes some conflicts when your body smells like the locker rooms at the local aquatic center.

Last year I found a line of products from a company called SBR Sports. The product line is called Tri-Swim and it claims to have a formulation which neutralizes the effects of chlorine on the skin. I can't state with total certainty that it does, but it seems to, and the moisturizer not only works really well, but it smells really good too!

So I've become a pretty big fan of Tri-Swim products.

Now you may be asking, what made today the best day ever? In all fairness, I'm sure I've had better days... The day I got married, births of my kids and stuff like that, but...

A local race production company had a twitter contest this morning, and I won!! And the prize was a Tri-Swim gift basket!!!

The race folks are the ones who put on the BASH winter tri, which my kids and I are volunteering at on Saturday, and they also do the BAM triathlon in August. I'm doing the BAD-ASS challenge at that one this year. Olympic distance triathlon, Off-road duathlon and 10k trail run, all within a period of about 24 hours. And it will include a camping trip with the whole clan as well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Best Example of Ignorance

There is a lady I work with. The timbre of her voice is such that where it not for my headphones and loud music, I may have been tempted to jam pens into my ears years ago.

She's older, an ardent supporter of Glenn Beck and all things conservative and frequent visitor of the poor soul who shares a cubicle wall with me. Usually after 3 minutes of visiting, I'll simply dial my neighbors phone, and usually that is enough to encourage this annoying individual to depart.

Yesterday she paid a visit, expounding the wonderfulness that is the movie Invictus. It was a tough situation for me, since I loved the movie, but hearing her describe her version of it was like a badly out of tune violin in the midst of a beautiful symphony.

And then she said it...

I wish we could trade the monkey in Washington for a man like Nelson Mandela.

Let me explain for those of you who don't get the complete absurdity of that statement right away...

This lady has voiced the following frustrations with President Obama...

1 - He's a socialist who is going to destroy our country, and I believe the word communist has also been tossed around a few times as well.

2 - He's out there apologizing to the world for being an American, when he should be sending more troops over to kill more of those damn Arabs and Muslims.

3 - He started all those irresponsible corporate bailouts, which have killed the economy.

Some things that she might find interesting about Mr. Mandela...

1 - His political views were influenced by men like Karl Marx, and organizers of the South African Communist party. When he reluctantly admitted that he had exhausted all possible diplomatic efforts to achieve equality in South Africa, and that violence was his only option, it was communist Russia which stepped in and provided his party with weaponry, ammunition and training. While all this may not be commonly knowledge to the average American, the fact that Mr. Mandela is repeatedly addressed and addresses others in the movie as "Comrade" should have been a pretty big clue.

2 - Mr. Mandela is HUGE on non-violent and diplomatic solutions, regarding a violent approach only as a last resort, and even then only after very careful consideration. It is a big part of the reason that Mr. Mandela, together with former president Carter and other world leaders despised by Conservatives are working together as part of a group called "The Elders". Their goal is to try and resolve world conflict, without the use of war.

3 - I'm not sure about Mr. Mandela's stance on corporate bailouts. He's strongly in favor of trade unions and elimination of an elite class who rules the world, and as such I suspect he might frown on crony capitalism, as practiced in the US.

But that all aside, I think there is a rather important lesson to learn here...

You see, the rather clueless lady who I work, doesn't really subscribe to a particular political philosophy. She's a loyal listener of Glenn Beck, and so she lets him do the thinking for her. She doesn't really know much about Mr. Obama's policies, but she knows that Glenn Beck thinks he's a socialist and a communist, and those kinds of people want to rape your children, take away your jobs and send you to work at death camps in Northern Canada, where the socialized health-care system will select you for euthenasia as soon as you get a cold. I'll admit that is a slight exaggeration of the truth for effect, but likely not by much!

But something happened to this lady over the weekend... She got to know a political character without commentary from some self righteous bigot on the radio. She got to see his vision for the future of a country in strife and the character man who fought for an idealogy that many told him was impossible. In many ways, she got to know a man who is the epitomy of what President Obama claimed to represent when he ran for the office of the President in 2008.

And she liked him!

The problem is not that people like Glenn Beck exist, the problem is the clueless hordes who follow men like him, without any clue about what they're being fed.

There are a handful of people who listen to him, who do actually have a clue about political philosophy and agree with him on many fronts... Mr. D. Sirmize who frequently comments here is one such person. I may not agree with him politically, but he knows where he stands and why he stands there. Unfortunately in my experience, he's stands a somewhat lonely beacon of reason and rationale amongst a sea of clueless hypocrites and sheeple.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Best Air

I can state, without reservation, that the best air in the nation is not in Salt Lake City. In fact, if the news folks are to be believed, of the top 5 cities in the US right now, the top 4 are within an hours drive of my house.

What's happened is that an inversion has set in. Cold air has become trapped in the valleys and with it, all the pollutants produced in the valleys. It's been about 5 days since the last weather event which cleared the air out, and it's almost like driving in heavy fog. It's think, it's dark and it's downright disgusting, and lets not even get started on all the associated health risks.

The question I have to ask myself is... When the weather isn't as cold, or even when the wind blows all this crap out of here, where does it go?

Utah is that home of the uber conservative movement - at least from what I've seen, and part of the agenda of that movement is to vigorously oppose the idea of global warming and everything associated with it.

I'm not sure where I stand on the whole global warming thing. I think the earth goes through natural cycles, and if our lives has taught us anything, it's that stuff changes - get over it already!

I don't think the environmentalists have done themselves any favors with some of their more extreme actions, but those who oppose it have been equally stupid.

There is a place somewhere in the middle where I think the average American would like to find themselves, where they not being pushed and pulled by the media for or against either side.

It's the place of being environmentally responsible. Looking at the world around us, and making sure we have minimal impact on it. Not because we're scared of global warming, cooling or an energy tax, but because it's the right thing to do.

All the crap currently hovering in the air above my head is going to be moved off somewhere else in the next day or two, but it's not going to vanish. Aside from that, until it does move off, we inhabitants of said valley are going to have to be breathing it, and my nose already burns when I go outside.

Just something to think about... Are we living an environmentally responsible lifestyle, or are we finding ourselves pushed around by people with political agenda's who probably don't give a rats arse about the environment as long as you do what they tell you to.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Best Idea - God Supported the Obama Presidential Bid

This story has been all over the news this morning... Apparently when asked to be the Vice Presidential nominee for the McCain presidential nomination, young Sarah Palin said that it was God's plan for her.

I know for some unknown reason, women feel drawn to the former governor of Alaska, but I suspect many of those who like her, would likely have voted for McCain any way.

I wonder how many people didn't vote for McCain because of his choice for VP.

Andy Borowitz just summed up my thoughts perfectly:

Palin supposedly believed her candidacy was God's plan. I agree, but so were locusts.

If God did indeed have a plan in getting Palin picked, then I think it is fairly obvious he is an Obama supporter, and it would appear that he has a rather wicked sense of humor as well!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Best Movie - Part 2

As promised, here is a little more on my experience watching Invictus last night.

First some background...

In 1992 I attended a 10 days scout leadership camp. It was a life altering experience for me. Such camps would probably be outlawed in the US, especially for the boy scouts (The US version tends to cater more to raising a generation of pansies - but that's just my opinion!).

At one point in the camp, we found a lettuce growing near a compost heap... We picked it, and 10 of us demolished it in minutes. Days later after being woken at 2am or so, forced to line up on the parade ground and strip searched, we were driven in the blacked out back of a truck and sent on a 20-30 mile hike with a compass, a map and 10 cans of food from which the labels had been removed. 1 kid managed to get 10 Rand by the 'guards' and so we also purchased 3 loaves of bread at a store midway through... BEST BREAD EVER!!

Anyway, I returned from that camp, fitter than I have ever been, and with the desire and confidence to take on the world.

The world had changed while I had been gone though. Chris Hani, leader of the recently unbanned South African Communist Party had been assasinated. It turns out it was by an elite force of operatives, which may or may not have been acting under the guidance of the South African government.

I remember that my first day home was the day of the funeral. An ominous feeling seemed to have enveloped the entire country, and there was a definite increase in tension between black and white. It through me for a loop, especially since I'd spent the last 10 days sharing a tent with a black scout and a few other scouts of various colors. We had become one, and then sent back into a world of segregation and increase uneasiness between races.

That one event changed so much.

I left South Africa at the beginning of 1994 and returned midway through 1996 on an LDS mission. There was a definite change in attitudes during that time, and I have assumed up until now that it was a gradual change which had taken place in the country since free elections had occurred and Mr. Mandela had taken office as President.

Up until a few months ago, I had been aware that South Africa had won the rugby world cup, and that the president had watched the game live, while wearing the jersey of Francois Pienaar. But that was all I knew.

I would love to know how much of this movie was actually based on fact. I suspect much of it was and I base that on an opportunity I had to hear the President speak.

It was later in 1996. Myself, two american missionaries and one from Zambia skipped missionary work one Saturday to head into the black township of Umlazi (It was our assigned missionary area too) and attend a rally at which Mr. Mandela was to speak.

2 years before a white man would not have dared attend such an event, but as we arrived, we were greeted by such warmth and graciousness by the locals, that it was hard to remember that. After the rally, we got talking to a group of military guys and posed for a couple of pictures, next to their landmine proof vehicle. At one point I had an AK-47, belonging to the soldier at my right leaning against my leg. For years that weapon had been the symbol of terrorist incursions, and now it was help by a man who was there to protect the president... Pretty awesome!!

The speech by Mr. Mandela was like nothing else I have ever heard. He's a small man with a wrinkled and wizened face. However he spoke with the power of a lion. At the time, there was a great deal of contention between the ANC and Inkatha, two political parties amongst the Zulus, which had a long history of violence. It's alluded to a little in the movie.

It wasn't a political speech, and it wasn't a motivational speech. Mr. Mandela said what needed to be said about putting aside petty differences and killing each other over politics. He chastized those present up one side and down the other, and then spoke of his dream for the new South Africa.

It was nothing less than powerful.

Invictus captures that man perfectly. A man who despite a life of unjust punishment, walked free with forgiveness in his heart. A man who had every reason to seek revenge and overturn the old regime, but instead chose reconciliation and harmony.

It's a movie about the Rugby World Cup, but but it's not a movie about rugby. It's a movie about the power of one made who seeks for something greater than himself.

It spoke to me, and has inspired some serious change in my life and how I view the world.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of fate
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years finds
And shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Best Movie - Part 1

First, a disclaimer:

I'm South African, and the overthrow of Apartheid is a subject which has a profound impact on my personal being.

With that said, I just got back from seeing Invictus with my wife. It probably isn't the best movie ever made, or the best movie I've ever seen, but at this point in my life, dealing with the subject it dealt with, it had a profound impact on me. The night was filled with a lot of very powerful emotions and personal insights.

It's late, and I'm hitting the sack. Hopefully I can get a decent review pulled together tomorrow - of found something else to blog about!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Best Heating Choice

Alright, if you arrived at this blog post hoping to find some key information about efficient heating of water and that kind of thing, I'm afraid you'll find yourself disappointed. However you will be in good company, because I'm looking for that information myself.

We have a 50 gallon natural gas water heater, which provides the hot water for our home. Usually it's adequate, but for two things:

1. The master bathroom has a nice big jetted tub. 50 gallons get's it full enough to turn on the jets, but that's about it, and by that point, it's not quite as warm as we would like.

2. In recent months, the flow from the heater itself has been dwindling. I suspect there may be build up of sediment in the pipes leading to and from the unit, since I've seen that before.

So with that in mind, rebate galore offered by the government and an opportunity to perhaps get a more efficient and environmentally friendly heating solution, we headed out on a fact finding missing this morning.

Here's what it comes down to:

1. We could go tankless, but with the heater, new duct work, and insulation, we may well be looking at about $2,500 dollars. There could be a 30% rebate on it, plus $300 from the gas company, but that's still a whole lot of coin to be handing over.

2. We could get a 75 or 100 gallon tank, but they are really expensive and we still have to get it into the basement and find place for it in the space next to the furnace.

3. One associate suggested getting 2 50 gallon tanks and running them in tandem with each other. Actually not a bad idea, and since I could likely do most of it myself, we'd probably end up with it costing us in the $1,200 range.

4. Another suggestion was just to replace the current heater with another 50 gallon one, and then get an inline heater for the jetted tub. Those heaters run about $200 and so our total cost here would be $700. The online reservation I have with this option is whether the heater is designed to heat the water up, or just maintain it at a high temperature.

Needless to say, much thinking, calculating and further research will be done in the coming days.

Stay tuned... We're hoping to see Invictus tomorrow. I will likely love it and cry over it, no matter how good of a movie it is.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Best STFU Candidate

I had this post all lined up this morning, but then I was perusing the blogs of friends of mine, and I may have found another equally good contender on Travel Vixen's blog about her doctor's appointment experience yesterday.

I'll leave her to share those details, since she is far more eloquent than I, but let me share my original candidate.

The Young Turks is a show that I sometimes watch/listen too. I like their arguments and there approach to various topics.

One of the folks over there however recently had some comments about a KFC ad in Australia, which it considered to be racist. I'm not exactly sure, but I think the advertisement may have been yanked as a result.

The ad basically features a white guy in an Aussie Cricket shirt, at a cricket game, and surrounded by West Indies fans. The West Indies fans are hooting and hollering, beating drums and all of that. The white guy is looking a little stressed and then all of a sudden, he busts out a bucket of KFC chicken and offers to share it. Peace is restored, and where once fans of 2 rival teams sat, now there are friends sharing chicken.

I thought it both an entertaining and a well thought out ad.

Apparently it's racist though... If you click here, you can view the ad, as well as here a follow-up exchange between an Australian radio host, and the opinionated lass from The Young Turks, who claimed it was racist.

I think those comments were unfortunately the result of typical American thinking, where the American point of view is imposed upon those of another land, without consideration of their culture or societal values. This is a rather minor example of that, and I think you could probably consider the ill conceived war in Iraq as the extreme example.

My commments with regards to the interview...

  • This was not an American ad and it was intended to be viewed by an American audience.

  • KFC is an American company, but having Americans control brand management in a foreign country is a rather stupid idea, at least in my opinion and probably why I suspect the idea for this originated amongst those in Australia who handle this kind of thing over there

  • Having actually been to a cricket game, fans jumping around and screaming is actually kind of expected. Perhaps I should take offense as a white male that I am being portrayed as some uptight douche bag with something stuck up my butt.

  • Fried Chicken references?!?! HELLO - I've lived in the US for over a decade, and I'm not even sure I know what that means.

Due to my upbringing and things which I've experienced, I am EXTREMELY sensitive to racial type stuff, and I'm sorry folks, but this doesn't even come close to anything remotely racist.

So to the obviously well-meaning commentator on The Young Turks... When it comes to US politics, knock yourself out. But when it comes to innocent, and if I might add, rather humorous advertisement in a foreign TV markets... STFU!!

Good Golly Sheila!! Them Ozzies like takin' the piss out of everyone!!

(My apologies to all genuine Australians who might take offense to my sorry attempt at humour with that last line!)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Best Tweet

Have you heard of a guy called Andy Borowitz? In addition to being a comedian, he's also a writer and he has an hilarious twitter feed as well. I've been following him a couple of weeks now, and regularly snort out loud at work as some of his tweets come through.

This one is pure gold...

BorowitzReport: Solution to airport security & health care reform: make full body scan double as annual checkup.

If you're on twitter you can follow him here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Best Cup of Coffee

Or rather...

Best Cup of Coffee... NOT!

Aside from the Frosticino at Wendy's which is DELICIOUS, I've only had coffee three times in my life.

When I was about 6, a neighbor was babysitting me, and asked if I wanted a cup of coffee before I went to bed. Not knowing exactly what that was, I replied that I did, and she made me what I think was a nice mugful, complete with plenty of sugar and cream.

I'm assuming it was decaf because I don't remember being agitated or not being able to sleep, but I do vaguely remember her mentioning it to my parents when they came to pick me up and them tripping over themselves assuring her it was OK because she didn't know. Fortunately I had my baptism 2 years later to wash this grievous sin away!

Then when I was 15, I went on a weekend senior adventure for scouts. We arrived into the base camp fairly late at night, and after pitching a tent for myself and my buddy, proceeded to brew myself a cup of Rooibos Tea (South African Red Tea) - which is thankfully excluded from the Mormon prohibition on tea and coffee (In case you were wondering about the reasons behind the sin and the first cup.) Once brewed I dumped in 3 bags of coffee creamer and sugar and then proceeded to drink one of the worst tasting cups of Rooibos I have ever had.

I assumed the creamer was bad, or something until my buddy asked early then next day, who'd had the coffee the night before...

Turns out that while hastily packing for the trip, I'd mistakenly grabbed three packets of Ciro coffee instead - and if I remember right, it was some kind of extra strength blend.

Did I mention as well that I didn't sleep much that night either?

So that concludes my tale on the first 2 cups...

When I first began drifting from the faith a year or two back, my sweet wife asked when I was going to start drinking coffee. I've been a pretty solid tea drinker for the past couple of years - mostly green, due to it's anti-inflammatory properties among others, and at the time, I assured her that I had enough vices.

However, walking through Walmart on Friday, I walked by the coffee section, and the wonderful aroma of coffee beans fills my nostrils. Coffee, aside from being a cheap source of caffeine, also has a number of excellent anti-oxidants in it, and is likely better for me than RockStar energy drinks, plus it just sounded good. So I grabbed a small packet...

Arriving home, I nuked myself an extra hot cup of water, and then proceeded to add 2 teaspoons of the aromatic granules to the cup.

It smelt really strong. A combination of the smells I remember from my days brewing coffee at McDonalds and the stale smokey smell of the lounge at a truck stock.

As I mixed and mixed, I also noticed that the granules weren't dissolving...

In an rookie mistake, I'd figured that ground coffee was instant coffee. DOH!

So after searching on the internet and finding out a whole bunch about various brewing devices and methods of tasting coffee, I returned with a second mug, and a clean dish towel. Using the towel, I strained the coffee into the second mug, washed the first and then poured the now granule free blend, back into the first mug. The first had some sentimental significance, and I'm a sucker for that kind of thing.

2 teaspoons of sugar, and a dash of milk and I sat down to enjoy my first knowingly ingested cup of coffee.

It actually wasn't too bad. I chose the mix flavored with cinnamon and hazelnut, and while I couldn't taste either flavor it was pleasant.

I'm not sure if I could become a regular drinker, at least not right now, and I also think that if I do want to invest further time into the practice, that an investment in a french press or coffee machine, might be something I would need to do.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Best Video

I used to love this video when I was a kid, and I believe the rumor at the time was (probably best spelled rumour though, due to where I was living) was that it was the most expensive music video made up to that time.

While my taste in music has changed quite significantly since that time, and while if I were to hear the song for the first time now, I'd probably change the station, still it brings with it a sense of comfort and good memories from my youth.

One of the most vivid is of a church road show which we put together one year, and ended with some reworked lyrics to this song. The point was to convey a sense of unity in a country ripped apart by apartheid, although I suspect many, including those who did the words, were still part of the culture causing the division.

So here it is... We All Stand Together by Paul McCartney

And as an aside...

At a couple of points during this video by Jason Mraz, I'm sure he looks exactly like Mr. or should I say Sir Paul. Anyone else see it?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Best Feeling

I just got done changing out the thermostat in my '95 Geo Prizm. For the last couple of months I just figured it was being super efficient at keeping the engine cool, until a co-worker pointed out that it might be broken. Turns out it was!

Took about 4 or 5 hours, and that included replacement of the coolant, and an attempt at fixing some of my dashboard lights as well. Not sure if the lights took, but I'm going to leave them for another day. However I just took the car for a 10 mile drive, and it heated up perfectly, and I could even use the heater, which seeing as we're in the dead of winter is a good thing!

Tomorrow begins a new week. I haven't trained for 3 days now, so I'm feeling like the worlds biggest slacker. Hopefully I'll get on the bike trainer tomorrow morning, and can start racking up the miles!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Best Friend

Today's post concerns perhaps the best thing to happen to me so far in my life. And the beauty of it is that this thing continues to evolve over time, and for the better too!

I'm speaking of the amazing and wonderful Mrs Koda, who at this exact moment is kicking the butts of each of our 5 kids, doing some fancy Kung Fu routine of the Wii-Fit.

We met over 10 years ago as we were both serving LDS Missions in Africa. Timing resulted in us both ending within a week or two of each other, and since she was the only Sister Missionary I didn't manage to horrendously offend with my ill conceived and badly delivered comments, it seemed like we might have a good thing going. We have some fun stories from back that time, but I'll be here all day if I recount them all.

When our time was over, she returned to the United States and I, to New Zealand. Within a month I'd found a way to come over to the US, first of all to see if a romantic relationship could develop between us, and second to investigate attending BYU.

The BYU thing didn't work out so well, even being the most observant Mormon I could be at the time, I spent an hour on campus, and that was about all I needed to let me know that it wasn't the place for me. Fortunately things worked out better on the romantic front and we were married about 4 months after I came over here. It was a little quick, but due to visa restrictions, as well as being devout Mormons who could progress the physical relationship beyond much more than kissing, without serious consequences, it was important that it be taken care of sooner rather than later.

We've been through a great deal together, and times haven't always been perfect, but we've always managed to work things out and keep it going.

We're the parents of 5 kids, who are great, but we have also become ardent supporters of smaller families in the process!

She's been with me through multiple jobs, and finishing up my degree. More recently, when a typical Mormon wife would have threatened me and considered divorce due to my loss of faith, she confronted me one day and told me that she was with me no matter what, and it's been kind of a fun ride with her ever since on the religious front.

I definitely don't deserve her, but while we both have our own set of faults and weaknesses, we're perfect for each other.

She's my best friend, and I hope I am fortunate enough to spend the rest of my life with her by my side!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Best Year Ever!!

I've probably mentioned this multiple times, but I'm starting this year out with incredible optimism. I've talked about blogging exactly why on a couple of occasions, but it's something I'm struggling to put into words. I can only describe it as the most incredible feeling that big things are coming, but at the same time increasing gratitude for each day I get to experience.

To start off this year, I'm going to be trying something I tried a couple of years ago and didn't quite make. It's a thing called NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month, which is actually in November, but the network which promotes it, has started doing a monthly one as well. The only requirement is to post something every day, and if you want to, they have a them as well. This months theme is "The Best!"

I figured, being that this will be "The Best Year Ever!" that this would be an appropriate theme to kick it off with. I intend to blog about my best music, my best friend and many other aspects of my life which I feel are better than ever.

It's going to be a great year. The family and I have some big plans to improve out situation. Problems of a religious nature appear to be diminishing and on the fitness front, I've got some major things planned. IronMan in May, a couple of Ultra distance running races and the only thing which could possibly top this year will be 2011.

So, stay tuned and as you begin a New Year, may it bring to you and your families both peace and prosperity!