Monday, December 31, 2007

Supporting the Government

As 2007 draws to a close and 2008 dawns, I have reason to be excited about the prospects of 2008. First and foremost on my list of things to be excited about, is that within the next month, I will be taking the Oath of Allegiance and becoming a full fledged American citizen and with it, the ability to vote and make a difference.

I did have cause to pause as I read through the final set of questions that I need to answer prior to taking the oath. One stuck out in my mind as a potential problem. I forget the exact wording (at least for the parts that don't matter) but basically it asks about my support for the form of Government in the US. Initially alarm bells went off, because I'm do not like the current administration at all, but then I realized that my support needs to be for the form of government, and not for the government itself.

The form of government in the US is best described in the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln.

"Government of the people, by the people, for the people"

I support a free and publically voted-in form of government, as specified in the founding documents. I don't think the current government has the best interests of the American People at heart, but as a citizen I can change it how it was supposed to be changed, by letting my voice be heard in a general election.

I will be proud to be an American, aside from the shame of Iraq, The President's involvement in the North American Union and the assistance we have given in destabilizing the middle east. All topics for blogs in 2008!


Friday, December 28, 2007

The Problem with 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

Have you ever done any research into the conspiracy theories around 9/11?

I was on wikipedia a while back and thought it could be a fun topic to look into.

Usually conspiracy nuts put together these theories based on a lot of assumptions and paranoia. They're fun to read, just because they provide a window into the mind of a nut job.

The problem with the 9/11 conspiracies, or at least most of them, is that they make way to much sense. I'd like to think that we have a government that has integrity and will always do the right thing, but quite frankly they have proved anything but over the past decade or so.

My opinion on 9/11 - Something stinks!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Urban Christmas Message

I spent most of last week trying to think of something to blog about. Nothing seemed to come to mind, although being brain dead didn't help much either.

I thought that with the holidays now upon us, I might give put together a Christmas message. I have a few other thoughts today, the North American Union, Government corruption, but I have no doubt that will all still be around after the New Year.

I stated a few months ago that I consider myself an agnostic mormon christian with deist influences. At this time of year, perhaps it might be handy to explain what I mean by that...

I get a little tired of religeious zealots who claim to speak for God, or use their faith to feel that somehow they are superior. If you're not sure what I mean by this, just go hang out at your local Deseret Book and enjoyed the arrangant pioty of many of the patrons.

I've come to realize that faith is a myth as is what we think religeon is. Faith and Religeon get people to fly planes into buildings and wipe out other cultures.

I don't know much, but I have somethings I know and some things I suspect. The things I suspect would appear to be inline with my experience in life.

I know there is a God out there who put our whole existence together. It couldn't have happened by chance. Each one of us here on earth were created by him and have within us the same potential.

He is not a vedinctive God who meddles in every aspect of our lives. We're in this situation to learn and he leaves us alone to do that.

A few weeks back I went to a display of nativity scenes at a local church. Interestingly enough, while all the scenes possessed the same basic message, each had cultural differences. I saw a white Jesus, a black Jesus, an eskimo Jesus and even a Japanese Jesus. Once of the biggest questions I got asked when I was a missionary in the black areas of Southern Africa was... Why is Jesus always shown as a white man?

Here's my thinking, and as I start, this is one of those things I suspect. The story of Jesus, is a story of a personal spiritual understanding within each of us. I won't describe at length my thoughts on this, but I don't think he is a being outside of ourselves who controls out lives and determines if we go to heaven or hell. Someone who reads this blog often refers to those who believe this, as those having an invisible friend. I share that skeptical view. Someone else I know talks about those that hear voices in their heads - That's actually a sign of schizophrenia!!

But I digress. In the Old Testament, the supreme being often refers to himself as the great "I am". So if I were to ask you, who is God, and/or who is Christ, I guess it would be correct to answer... "I am" Now that most of you want to stone me for blasphemy....

I think the story of Christ is a personal story. It is a story of something that happens within us. It cannot be decribed in words or anything like that. Accepting Christ is more that just saying something and living your life with an imaginary friend. It is a journey, it is a state of mind.

I believe in Christ. I believe in me. I believe that we all hold within us the power of God. I also believe that you have the right to believe whatever you would choose to believe.

So at this time of year for celebration and renewal, I would like the time to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. For some it may be a chance to celebrate Kwanza, Channukah, the Winter Solstice or any other number of festivals. But when all is said and done, it's a time of celebrating who we are, and those around us, and the chance we have to become something better.

May you enjoy whatever way you choose to celebrate this season and do so surrounded by those you love and care about!

Friday, December 14, 2007

It was the best of times...

and then it was also the worst of times. This week has been one of extreme highs and extreme lows.

I'm writing this blog whilst waiting for the Excedrin to kick in, and psyching myself up to go and change the front wheel on my car, which at this point is about as flat as it can get. To help matters, the trunk is loaded with stuff for christmas and an assortment of other crap which will have to be moved into the back seat. I'll also have to stop by Walmart on the way home to get it repaired. Of the last 5 visits to Walmart, 4 have really sucked - Maybe today they can break their losing streak!!

There have been some good things though... I met with the immigration service this morning and had my application for citizenship approved, now all that remains is for me to go to a swearing in ceremony sometime in the new year, and then I'll be a full fledged American. It was looking a little doubtful last night as I went to my wallet to pull out my green card, and realized that 2 weeks ago I put it somewhere safe and promptly forgot where that was. Having spent half of the night ransacking the house, I was able to finally track it down to the in-laws house a little after 6am this morning. I suspect that may be why I have a head-ache now!

Have to see how the rest of the day plays out. I really want to go and see the Golden Compass tonight, but with the way things are looking this may have to be one of those solo experiences, since Mrs Koda ain't too motivated to go.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I am having the crappiest of days... I would share why it sucks so bad, but personally I don't think you really want to hear about it, and most of it is stuff I'd rather not have pasted all over the internet. Not that sharing it with 2 occasional readers is "All over the internet", but...

Anyway, so we had a work party yesterday at the Olive Garden. My wife has been begging me to take her there for a few years, and it's kind of turned into a game...

Anyway I never used to be an Italian Food guy... Then I went to Macaroni Grill and Carabbas and found that I love Italian Food. My experience at the Olive Garden has made me realize that I love expensive Italian food, not the cheap crap produced by Fazoli's, Olive Garden and places like that.

One of the waiters was really good. The rest really sucked. The thing that got me was that apparently there was an automatic 18% gratuity added. I have a problem with this. I'm a big tipper... If I get a good waiter, I usually leave at least 20%. I've been know to leave more for exceptional service. But the thing is that a few times I've been involved big group events the service is horrible, and they still expect the gratuity - well actually they take it, not leaving the option.

Anyway that's my whine for the day... It's actually the least of my concerns, but fairly safe to share online I think.

Anyone want to get their husband a really cool hunting dog for Christmas? I'm getting tired of the wife complaining about him, and he got hold of the wire to the AC unit yesterday... That's going to cost me...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tool and the Golden Compass

I've been really slacking on this blog the last week or so. I think I've been averaging about 3 or 4 hours of sleep a night as well, so you should probably just be grateful that I have spared you the paranoid ramblings of a bitter and fatiqued old man....

So let me begin with a report of the Tool concert held in Salt Lake last week. I went with a very good friend of mine. His wife found out about the concert but opted not to go. She then called my wife who shares the feeling that Tool are evil and Satanic and she was more than happy to let me go with him, rather than her.

I went with pretty low expectations. A review of one of the first shows of their current tour categorized it as the worst concert the reviewer had ever seen. Based on their comments, I could see some of their critisizms, but it was definitely not a bad show.

We sat in the cheap seats, but they ended up right on the side of the stage, and we could look backstage and see everything getting setup and ready to go, including the artists.

Opening Act was Trans Am. They don't have many lyrics, actually, only one song had a few lyrics which I couldn't hear because they were mixed through some voice altering equipment. They weren't bad at all, although as I looked at the bass player, I thought... Here is a guy that probably got beat up every day in high school, and now has an arena full of people cheering for him - funny how life turns out.

Tool was incredible. It was loud. So loud my ears where still ringing 3 days later, but the mixing was excellent and so even though loud, it sounded really good. They only played about 7 or 8 songs but when songs last well over 10 minutes, you can do that. Maynard was to the left of the drum set, which was I think why the reviewer that didn't like the show was upset. I had the perfect seat to watch him. I suspect they may have been seated on the other side.

Tool is an amazing band. The drum kit itself was like nothing else I have ever seen, and the drummer made it look effortless. Both the lead and bass guitar not only played guitar, but there was a foot organ and a small keyboard that one of them used as well, and I could see the other guy well, but I suspect he may have had similar extra equipment. Maynard James Keenan was amazing. He has a phenomenal voice and flexibility like no-one else. He did stay pretty hidden, but I think he did it so that he didn't dominate the stage, rather that was done by the guitarists and the drummer - Wonder if he is a humble man? That's my take on it anyway. The lights, video and other effects where really good. They may have been better than Def Leppards, except Def Leppard mixed live shots of the show in. Most of the video for Tool included video clips from their songs. Mase me interested in the inspiration for their music. I think there is a lot of eastern influence as well as talk about spiritual connections we share.

If they come back to Salt Lake any time soon, I'll be there again - maybe with earplugs though. Kudo's to the E-Center parking people and West Valley City. The concert was over at 11 and I was home well before midnight - Can't complain about that!!

Finally, I've started sending replies to everyone who feels compelled to warn me about the Golden Compass. It comes out on Friday. I'll be seeing it Saturday, hopefully having finished the book as well. From what I can tell, a major theme in the book is that Lyra using the compass as a way to find truth is going up against a very corrupt theocracy. When you look at it in that light, I guess it's easy to understand why all the religious zealots are out to boycott the film - Imagine the nerve of Pullman, trying to inspire people to seek the truth - BASTARD!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

At least I'm not like Hitler

Sometimes people post stuff that scares me! Ok, Morgan, I'm just kidding!

Apparently I'm mostly like JFK...


Monday, November 26, 2007

Selling your Soul

So I have a couple of topics I thought about blogging about today, but this one seemed to have the best sounding title. I may save the rest for later in the week.

OK, so I may have shared in the past some of my views on Religeon. I'm have some pretty unique views and generally just offend people when I open my mouth. Yesterday in church was one of those times I got the look from the wife to keep my mouth shut. In hind sight, I probably should have shot her a similar looked when she decided to share my turkey story from Thanksgiving but that's a topic for another day.

So there were are sitting in an Adult Sunday School class. It's the first time in about 8 years that we have actually been able to sit together, although with a squirmy 1 year old on my lap, that is a relative term. I forget the topic of the lesson, but the discussion drifted around to the things we are willing to sell our souls for... Money, pleasure and a host of other things were brought up. Ironically the lesson then turned to submitted yourself to the gospel and giving your soul to Christ.

When we were done I asked my wife a question... Is there a difference between selling your soul, and voluntarily giving it up to someone else? She didn't have an answer and I suspect it may be because she doesn't like what the answer is.

My thoughts are this...

First, you can't sell your soul, you are your soul, and will always be.
Second, you can lose focus of the goal and be distracted, and I guess this could be considered losing your soul, but you can always get refocussed.
Third, surrendering your soul to someone else, no matter how perfect they may be is a HUGE problem....

One of the readers of this blog often refers to people who have sold their souls to Jesus (for want of a better term) as having an invisible friend. Understanding who God is, who Christ is (A topic for another day) and who you are, solves this problem and brings them all into line without surrending your soul and freedom to another entity, real or not.

I'll probably have to explain that last bit a little more, but I'd like to see the reaction I get first....

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Utah Poverty out of Control

I know I'm going to offend people with this post, but to be honest I really couldn't care less, if you're offended maybe you should do something about it.

For the last couple of days it seems like there has been a constant stream of ads promoting Jiffy Lube and their efforts to support the Utah Food Bank. I'm not against the idea of a food bank, but there are a few things that really hack me off on this issue. It is a clever marketing gimic, so I'll give them that.

The ads keep saying that 1 in 10 people in Utah lives in poverty, and then insinuates that all of those people are on the verge of starving to death.

OK, first of all, poverty is living in a mud hut with nothing but a dirt floor and an old ratty blanket to sleep on. I've met people like this, and have yet to hear one of them bitching about not having enough to eat, even though they may have spent the day going through trash cans to find food. Haven't met any in Utah yet...

Second, according to the government, up until a year ago, my family and I were considered below the poverty line. Funny thing is that we lived really well. We didn't have cell phones or cable TV, but we had enough to eat and be comfortable, and my kids even had a really good christmas each year (Well, except for one year, but that was a good character building experience!!)

Third, as long as McDonalds is hiring (And they are... You don't have an excuse to whine about being poor) I've worked at McDonalds. I've also supported a family on a little more than minimum wage. It can be done!

I like the idea of a food bank or similar non-government run program that provides a safety net for people who run into unexpected problems, but that's all it should be - A safety net. A government run program that feeds those who feel they deserve or are entitled to welfare is a huge problem.

The final thing that bugged me is that pride is mentioned a few times in the ads as well. For some reason people think pride is a bad thing. My pride drives me to be a better person every day. It helps me get a better understanding of who I could be if I try. It makes me get my hands dirty and work. It prevents me from sulking at home, whining that I am a hard worker and I just can't get enough money to feed myself.

Cancel your damn cell phone, get your designed jean covered butt off your government supplied furniture and go get a job. It's really not that hard.

Back To School

I took part of the afternoon off work yesterday to watch my son in a Thanksgiving play. It wasn't half bad! I am concerned about the competency of the principal though. As we were leaving he made an announcement to remind kids that there would be no school today...

What kind of idiot thinks kids need reminding that they have a day off school!

On a more serious note, I then read an article last night on the influence of the Real Estate Industry on politics... That was pretty disturbing, especially since I just paid out a nice healthy commission on the sale of my house, and ended up doing most of the leg work for it myself. And then I read about the way the Pentagon is wasting money through their purchasing program...

It reminded me of a poster I saw at my dad's office when I was a kid. It read,

"It's hard to soar like an eagle, when you're surrounded by turkeys"

I'm glad to associate with a lot of eagles, but sometimes the turkeys in government just really get me down...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Obesity Epidemic

Well, having now completely ruined any chance of keeping up my 1 a day postings for the month... Let me just say that I had an incredible weekend. I feel like I have most of my life in perfect balance, almost a state of zen - I say almost because I have kids and I still have to work for a living!

So I got an email today talking about the obesity epidemic facing the US. As someone who has the potential to become of obese, and has been close to it in the past, I take an interest in this kind of thing.

From what I understand, an epidemic is something like the black plaque or one of the many flu epidemics. I would classify it as something that people don't have a choice about and that it is random in who it picks as victims.

The problem with the Obesity Epidemic is that it isn't an epidemic. Yes, it is a huge problem (Please excuse the pun!!) but it's not random, and it's 100% preventable.

I think people choose not to prevent it because it takes effort, and the more obese you get, the harder it is to escape it's grasp, but it is possible.

The problem is it takes the realization that it is possible, that you don't have a disease and that you need to make the choice not to be a victim of it. Calling it an epidemic almost seems to take you out of the equation, and when you have no control over you, that's a pretty helpless and pathetic situation to be in.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Light of Doom & The Clark Brothers

The Mrs never reads my blog - or so I thought... I was greeted yesterday when I got home last night with "Hot Babe Trifecta eh?" I had a couple of funny stories to share, but at the risk of spending more time on the couch...

OK, so I'm not a big fan of reality TV. I liked Survivor until people figured it out, and all the people with real skill were getting voted out first. I like the amazing race, and actually still like that one. American Idol - well... It just seems like it's a lot more scripted than they would have you believe, and there's only so many snot faced kids with no talent and attitudes bigger than buddha that I can take...

A few weeks ago, a new series started on Fox - The Next Great American Band. I wasn't going to watch it, but it was on, and I didn't feel like moving off the couch. The first episode was a little over dramatic. John Reznik from the GooGoo dolls is one of the judges, so that is something that they have going for them. The host is Dominic Bowden from New Zealand, no clue who he is, but I like the Kiwi accent - better on a girl, but I'll take what I can get... Actually I'd prefer a female host with an Irish Accent, but that is neither here nor there.

Anyway, didn't like the first episode, but as I watch week 3 or 4 tonight, I'm actually fairly impressed. Let me tell you about two of my favorites...

#1 is Light of Doom. I think they hail from Las Vegas and they are a group of 12 and 13 year olds. They cite Iron Maiden as their main influence, and they rock. Now it is a little disturbing to see little kids acting like veteran Rock Stars, but these guys can play.

#2 is The Clark Brothers. These guys got their start playing for their dads religious revivals with several other siblings... There are three of them. No drummer, but one sings and plays violin another plays mandolin/accoustic guitar and the final brother plays the Dobro Guitar. These guys are amazing and have a passion about them that is hard to describe. Apparently they're not too bad looking either which helps my case in the Hot Babe Trifecta trial...

The other bands are pretty good too, but I hope either of these guys win.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Hot Babe Trifecta

I have a list of the top 3 hot women which I like. If the name of this list sounds familiar, I stole it from a local radio DJ. "The List" just doesn't sound as cool as "The Hot Babe Trifecta"

My wife was hasseling me a few years ago about not having a favorite actress, and so I started trying to seek one out. I think she's fine with it as long as there is no-one of the list who could reasonably be considered to give me the time of day. I told her that pretty much knocked her off the list too, but I think she's OK with that.

So the Urban Koda's Hot Babe Trifecta - not necessarily in order of preference.

1 - Kiera Knightly (I take some heat on this one, but she was my first... Saw her in Pirates and then Domino and then a few other shows. Something sexy about a female Bail Bondsman and the accent drives me wild.)

2 - Natasha Bedingfield - Not an actress, but a singer. Just take a look - nothing else needs to be said.

3 - Rachel McAdams - The Notebook and Wedding Crashers - Ooooh Yeah!!

Honorable mentions go to Nicole Kidman, Rachel Hunter, Christina Aguilera and probably a few others too...

Gentleman, you may post comments in support.

Ladies, you may adress comments and condolenses to my sweet wife - the lovely Mrs Koda.

Anyway who wants to argue about Kiera Knightly, I'll meet you out at the flag pole.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

No More Koda's

I had a pretty good day at work yesterday... The drive home wasn't bad, but anytime you have to commute for more than a half hour it's not good either.

Pulling into the street, I see that my wife's friend has decided that my side of the driveway looks like a good spot to park - which means I get to move my car before going to bed.

I open the door of the house and am greeted with a cacophony of screaming mutant kids. There are 5 of them ranging in age from 7 down to 1. There is one other in the TV room, but he can't walk yet. So 5 of them are running around the stairs, sometimes in the same direction, sometimes in opposite directions, all times screaming at the tops of their lungs. Then they run over and jump on the new couches. My stress level approaches 8 out of 10 - It was 2 when I walked in.

Walk into the kitchen. It's trashed and they've left the milk out - again. Look down into the TV room to see wife and the friend. Kind of get a wave from the wife, who kind of pauses in the conversation but not really. Turn the laptop on. Looks like the kids have been playing on it again, and one of them had some candy... 9 out of 10.

I haven't eaten all day... There's no food - well there are some rolls, but the kids left those out too - so they're kind of stale. Grab a couple, smother butter on them... Stress level back to 8, 7. Kids run in screaming. 3 year old and 1 year old run into each other. The playful screaming is now mixed with 2 of them crying and screamin from pain. 7, 8, 9, 10. I calm them down, hand off the 1 year old to the wife. She tells me she wants to take care of a Church thing tonight. Church not high on list of things I care about right now, but I need to stay out of the dog house. "Sure!!"

Went back to laptop. Pull up the page for my health insurance. Click the provider list. Look up Urologists. Damn programmer did a lousy job programming the search feature. Finally find a list of urologists in Ogden. Find the one recommended by my buddy a year ago. Dial the number, walk up stairs, and hit Talk. Phone rings, automated voice tells me which buttons to push.

Little voice inside says "Are you sure?". Door to my bedroom flies open. Kids run in screaming. Kids see my face. Kids run out screaming in terror. Door slams. "Yes, I'm bloody sure!!!" Sweet nurse answers the phone. I'm sickly sweet in return. No openings till February. That's OK, I think I may just go celibate until then, just to make sure. Appointment Scheduled.

I go down stairs, give the wife the thumbs up, and then show the phone and make a scissor type motion with my other hand. She smiles - FINALLY.

Yep, not planning on any more little Koda's in this household.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Winning Presidential Ticket

I'm a little concerned about who the next US President may be. When Bush got into office, I felt very optimistic about the future especially in the wake of Clinton's little scandal.

Bush didn't do much, but I think everyone figured it was because we needed a Republican Senate and House of Congress.

Well, we got both of those too, and still they did nothing. Well I can't say nothing, since they have been spending money like crack whores, as well as causing all kinds of problems in the middle east.

With all that in mind... I'm not sure Bill Clinton was that bad of a president, and going forward, I'm not sure how much impact a President can have on the country, unless a new president also means a replacement of both the Senate and Congress as well.

As I look at the election though, there are two people I like. Ron Paul, because he believes in freedom and he and I agree on 95% of the issues. The other is Barrack Obama. He's a little too socialist for my liking, but he appears to have some integrity and not be caught up in always being right - he seems to care what people who oppose him think as well.

I'm not sure if either Obama or Paul will win the primary vote, but what if the two where to join forces and run on a separate ticket... Aside from the idiots who vote strictly on party lines, I think the majority of Americans would like to see 2 men with opposing view points who could work together.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Flapper

I had the day off work today... Sleeping in was nice.

I had to go to Walmart to buy some stuff though, including a little piece of hardware to fix the toilet in my kids bathroom. The piece I needed is apparently called a flapper - Funny name if you ask me. The old one was disintegrating and came apart in my hands as I pulled it out for the last time. There was also a bunch of funky stuff floating around in the tank...

The day did get better, and I am excited to return to work in the morning.

Happy Veterans Day!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mutant Pets, Roast Chicken and Utah County

I'll be the first to admit that last nights posting wasn't the best, but when you only have a few minutes to coe up with a topic, whilst flying downstairs in your underwear to come up with a blog posting for the day... I don't think I did to badly - And as usual, my apologies for the mental image ladies!

So, today was Sunday, and it was also the last week of us attending religious services at our old place... So to celebrate I made pancakes using a mix which I won at a 5k race about a month ago. Now, you may not think that pancake mix is much of a prize, but having eaten the resulting pancakes this morning, I'd gladly brave the rain and chilly morning air again.

The mix itself was from the Lehi Roller Mills, and was the Cinnamon flavor, packaged with their Apple Cider Syrup. It was excellent. I suspect that we may well be headed south sometime to pick up some more mix... Anyway, Lehi Roller Mills is in Utah Country, Utah. This area of the globe is sometimes referred to as 'Happy Valley' and is generally a place I choose to avoid. My initial intent when coming over to the US about a decade ago, was to attend a private religious university in the County, however after an hour or 2 on campus, I pretty decided that it was not for me. Anyway, so with that background, the breakfast conversation turned to what good could one find in Utah County. We have a couple of things that we came up with:

1 - Lehi Roller Mills
2 - Hines Mansion Bed & Breakfast - We suspect they use Lehi Roller Mills Pancake mix as well
3 - Simple Utah Mormon Politics - A blog by Utah country resident Frank Stahelli. Not only is it an excellent blog, but I think Frank may read this occasionally, and I would hate to lose a reader!
4 - Carabba's Italian Grill - Italian Food that may well cause me to eat myself to death if they open up any closer to where I live.
5 - Cabela's Outfitter - An outdoor living Super Store that has to be seen to be believed!!

And well, that's about it!

Anyway, following the highly successful breakfast and celebratory religious observance, I returned home to try out a new Roasting Pan with a 6lb chicken purchased last night. I don't really have a good idea on how to roast chicken, and so I took tips from a few online sources. I first coated the chicken with a mix of butter, olive oil, crushed garlic, salt and freshly ground pepper. Following that I sprinkled some more salt and pepper over the bird as well as a little Thyme. The body cavity was then filled with a couple of loosely chopped garlic cloves, some chopped celery and a sprinkling of more salt and pepper. I placed the bird in the roasting pan, surrounded it with carrots, celery and some Yukon Gold Potatoes and stuck it in the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. I then reduced the heat to 375 degrees and left it for a little under 85 minutes. In hindsight that may have been too long, since the drumsticks and thighs came off as I pulled it out of the pan. I then turned it upside-down for 10 minutes to let the juices run back into the breasts, whilst putting together a nice thick gravy from the drippings. We served it with peas and chopped corn, and had I not been surrounded by kids, I would most liekly have followed it up with a good long nap!

OK, final topic for the day... I suspect that I may be screwing up my kids. The realization came to me as we cleaned out my youngest daughters beta fish tonight. This fish has been in the family a couple of months and just barely in the last month has received a name - Monkey. I said it was wierd that we now have Monkey the Fish, but my wife responded that I started it with Moose the Dog. Now granted his name is actually Musa (M-oo-s-ah), but since I'm the only one that speaks Zulu... I think I've started them down a path that cannot end in good.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

His Dark Materials

So I'm part of a group call NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month - I've mentioned it before but the basic idea is that as a member you are supposed to add a new post to your blog every day for a month.

It's Saturday. I cleaned up our garage today, tried to find a store that sold some calf sleeves so I can hopefully return to running in spite of shin splints, bought a bunch of clothes - including a new compression shirt - Believe me, you don't want pictures!! and finally ended up at Walmart.

In the past few weeks I have received a number of dire warnings from friends and family members about an 'evil' film about to be released in theatres. You may have seen my posting about The Golden Compass last week. Morgan the Dancing Mouse mentioned in a response to that posting that she had read the book by 'Phillip Pullman' (I think that's his name!) and found them very good. So there I was at Walmart, and they have the Pullman Trilogy for sale...

So I purchased it, and am so far on page 3. While you can't judge a book by its cover, the cover does look good. In addition, the first three pages have been good to. The author appears to have an easy to read style, and I am already feeling drawn in. That was, until I looked at the clock and saw it was 11:45. I HADN'T DONE A BLOG YET!!! Lucky for me I set my clock 10 minutes fast - Interestingly enough, even though I know it is fast, it still helps me get going quicker - I don't know why....

So the good news is, I will not be dropping the ball on NaBloPoMo, and the even better news is that it appears a handful of well meaning yet ignorant warnings from friends and family have allowed me to discover a new book as well.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sign Language

I had an excellent topic in mind earlier today... For some reason what that topic was escapes me right now...

Anyway, this is something I wrote at the beginning of the month as a backup blog in case I had a day when the creative juices weren't flowing. The original version is on my work computer, so this is what I can recall from that one.

OK, so I like languages... I speak 3 and know little bits of a few others. The thing I like best is that often you can compare words and their root elements, and it helps me better understand concepts.

I got thinking of this a few weeks ago, as I watched my wife teach a song to some kids, using sign language. I noticed a few interesting things. The signs for strength and trust are very similar. Both involve slight variations on bring your hands up towards your upper torso. The sign for obedience is pretty much the opposite action. Taking both hands from your upper torso and moving them down and away from your body.

Here's what it got me thinking about. To trust others is a strength. By moving your hands towards your body you could say that these ideas strengthen the individual. To trust another takes some courage but it strengthens us.

Obedience is a sign of weakness. But blindly following another, we diminish ourselves and lose our inner strength.

This is of course just my opinion...

[And below is the original piece which I wrote a week or 2 back - I thinks it's a little more succinct]

My wife has been teaching song to some kids in Sign Language. Sometimes a different language can help you see things differently since you don't take the root words for granted.

As I watched her on Sunday I saw something very interesting. The signs for strength and trust as very similar. Both involve bringing the hands up towards your upper torso.

Trusting other people is definitly a strength, and just like physical strength adds to your physical stature, I think trusting others adds to your spiritual stature, hence the bringing of the arms up and towards the body.

Obedience is the complete opposite. You take your hands from the upper torso and move them away from your body. Obedience dimishes your spiritual stature as your surrender an important part of yourself to someone else.

I could be completely up in the night on this one, but I thought it was very interesting.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Damn Immigrants!

First off... Before you get all upset with me, remember that I am an imigrant, therefore endowed with complete immunity when insulting immigrants!

Ron & Jessica (Actually I think it may just have been Ron) made an excellent comment in response to my call on Saturday for the government to follow through on their plans to build a fence on the Mexican border. Basically they questioned the need to spend millions of dollars to put a band-aid solution in place over a major heamorage. I thought it a rather good argument, and well thought out!

I would like to, if you would indulge me, to take a quick look at the problems with immigration, and what possible solutions I can see.

So first the problems...

1. There is not currently a legal way for normal people to enter the United States. You either have to have a substantial fortune, or else marry an America Citizen. There are also other options to do with work visa's and stuff, but I am not as familiar with those. I came in on option 2 fortunately.

2. The Mexican government supports emmigration into the United States as it brings in substantial income for Mexico. I have heared it is the fourth largest source of income, but I can't confirm that.

3. Many immigrants aren't here to become American's, they're here for free welfare and to send money back to Mexico.

4. America was founded on Immigration, and so it's pretty important that we continue that tradition, attracting all who seek liberty.

I'm sure there are many other problems, but those are the main ones I see.

For solutions, I would suggest the following:

1. All illegal aliens currently here are given a time period to get back to Mexico, or face fines and deportation. That is really what amnesty is - You've broken a law, and we'll let you get off. The Bush amnesty plan is more like an incentive program for illegals.

2. The Mexican government need to held responsible for their part in this. Until they stop marketing illegal emmigration and enforce their side of the border, no more aid, no imports, nothing.

3. Put in place a way in which anyone who want to immigrate can qualify. I support the availability of basic English courses and other materials to help teach potential immigrants English and the basic principles of the constitution. Immigrants would be expected to pass a basic English test, basic civics test and be able to enter the country with enough money to support themselves until they can find work.

4. The border needs to be secured. I would be in favor of stationing military units along the border. This is a security issue and a humanitarian issue. Illegal Immigrants are generally underpaid and the crossing of the border is sometimes very risky due to the desert conditions.

I thinks that's about all I can think of for now. Basically I believe that America should keep her sovreignty, secure her borders, but continue to be a shining light of freedom to the world and open to those who seek those ideals.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What is the V?

I thought on today's posting, I might tackle the topic of some of the meaning behind the symbol that I use for my blog.

Many of the more perceptive and highly intelligent of you will recognize this as the symbol for the character V in V for Vendetta. Let me say that while that was an incredible movie, it is not the reason I chose this symbol.

Some time ago a friend and I were discussing a particular concept, I tried to draw a symbol to illustrate what I was saying - strangely enough the symbol was the same as the one you see above this...

Let me start by saying that this will likely offend 90% of the readership of this. It would have offended me up until a year ago. All I would ask is that you read it, and then consider it with an open mind - It makes far more sense over time than does when you first hear it.

I shall start by discussing who we are... We are amazing creatures, and by we, I am referring to the spirits that exists inside our bodies. These spirits are phenomenal, each possessing infinite potential. My personal belief is that this comes as a direct result of us being the offspring of a God, by whatever name you may choose to call him. Atheists may not believe that, but the bottom line is, that you are somebody special.

OK, so we have these amazing spirits, and then we get born. The problem with living in a physical world inhabiting a physical body is that we start to think we are our bodies and think less and less about our spiritual selves. It was at this point in my conversation with my friend that I drew a circle on the white board, illustrating the complete human condition. There are no doubt countless influences in dividing us against ourselves. The biggest is our physical existence, as I stated before, but there are many others. The effect of these influence is a metaphorical wedge driven into our minds that causes us to forget the spiritual side. I then drew a large wedge or V through the circle and the symbol is as you see it above.

Religeon plays an interesting role in this process at this point. Through practicing various things, we are given a glimpse through the wedge onto the other side. I won't get too far into this, lest I lose people, but I think that any time you "feel the spirit" it is those times that we get a brief glimpse through the wedge onto the other side. So it would appear that religeon helps to connect us to our spiritual sides and help to make us whole again.

Now this is where things go a little crazy... While religeon should help break down the wedge, unfortunately religeon has become the wedge itself, appearing to control the individuals access to the spiritual side. Using this power, religeon can then be used against the individual and the result is much of the hell we see in the world today.

When I think of pure religeon, I believe it to be something that allows you to see your spiritual side, and then moves aside so that you can become whole again, ready to discover your full potential.

I'd be happy to field any questions which you might have....

Tomorrow's topic - Solutions to the immigration problem in the US!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Survey Says....

So on Sunday I proposed the question as to the most important value to instill in kids...

My two contenders were Humility and Gratitude.

After a plethora of responses, we have added a couple more...

Tolerance and Good humour.

To love god with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.

The comment was also made on the last one that with those two covered, everything else would fall into place.

When you think about it, all of these of interrelated. By teaching one, you'd almost unavoidably have to touch on the others.

I'm going to wait a bit longer and see if any more results come in... Perhaps next Sunday will see a discussion of the pivotal value - In my opinion of course!

Anyone in Salt Lake or the neighboring area's like to adopt a half grown puppy? He's a lab/pointer mix, very energetic and he's going to be huge. He really likes knocking kids over and sitting on them. I think it's hilarious, but for some reason the wife and the kids don't enjoy it as much. He's a man dog, bred for hunting and really smart.

I may be losing the battle over keeping him, so in case I do - I'd prefer to send him to a good home than stick him up on KSL or something.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Golden Compass

I have received a number of forwards in the past week about a new movie being released in December. The email basically describes the movie as an atheist plot to teach children not to believe in God, and all kinds of other insidious and evil purposes.

My first thought is... Bloody Hell People! Its a freaking movie! Not a teacher at school or church or something.

I saw the preview on TV last night, and I've actually seen it a few times at the theatre too. One of the characters is a cool looking polar bear! Cool in the sense that he could probably wipe out 100 men with one swipe of his paw, not cool as in the dark shades and a martini cool.

Anyway, so the main plot all these well mean people are concerned about is that the entire story leads the main character to killing a senile God who is making all kinds of crazy decision with the world.

The more I think about this, the more I think that this isn't a bad idea. Let me introduce you to the God that I would like to kill, and like my kids to kill to...

There is a God that apparantly tells people to blow themselves up or fly planes into buildings - Not a bad one to get rid of.

There is a God that thinks one group of people of better than another and will let one group kill another. He can go to.

There is a God that initiated the Crusades for the good of his church, and perhaps more importantly to help enrich the King of England. So long dude!

Any God that divides people against themselves, controls peoples lives at every level and causes war and bloodshed can be wacked as far as I am concerned.

There is one God, that I think I blessed me phenomenally. He made me and gave me the ability to make my own decisions. He leaves me alone to succeed or screw up as I please, both of which I achieve frequently. He's not interested in controlling me, he just wants me to have opportunities to learn and grow. I'm have no need to fear him, and he has no need to fear me.

I don't think the Golden Compass is in anyway against him.

I think my kids are going to enjoy the movie immensely!!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Sunday Post

You know, It's a lot more difficult to write these on the weekend! The other problem I have is that it takes forever to think of a topic, and then invariably when you get a good one, you get several at once...

Today's topic was one that I thought of as I was wondering around the outside of our Church building with my 1 year old on my shoulders - My experience has shown that 1 year olds don't appreciate hours of sitting and listening... Come to think of it, neither do I really - we have a very mutually beneficial relationship, my son and I!

A very good friend made a comment this week that has got me thinking... She said that she had only ever met 1 true Christian. I am pretty much 100% sure I'm not in the running for that position, but I started thinking about what exactly that meant and if it was something that I would like to aim for.

Actually the more I have thought about it, I think that a true Christian might actually appear the same as a true Muslim, a true Buddhist, maybe even a true Atheist.

My wife and I were discussing this the other day, that sometimes we seem to form the opinion that people who don't subscribe to the same belief system as us, don't have any morals... Problem is I have met plenty of Christians, Hindus, Muslims and a host of others who are all really good people. I have also met a bunch from the same groups that are not good people.

I think the key comes with being true to yourself and honestly seeking truth. I think that journey will lead you to a greater understanding of who you are and who God is. With that understanding, I think you develop a greater respect for all around you, and that makes you a true Christian, Muslim or whatever flavor of religeon or no religeon you choose to follow. Athiests could probably leave out the part about understanding God, but I think the rest of it would probably hold true.

Finally in parting a quick question: A friend and I are trying to determine the most important value which we can instill in our kids. Our finalists are gratitude and humility - mine is humility. Does anyone have any other ideas for top value and why? I'm hoping to blog on it a little later this week.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pakistani Writers

OK, so this post isn't really about Pakistani writers, but it will cover the topics of the writers strike in Hollywood, as well as the recent events in Pakistan. This first will be an attempt at humor, the second likely more serious, crtitical and sarcastic...

So the writers in Hollywood have decided to strike. It appears that the first casualties will be the daily comedy shows like The Late Show with Jay Leno and Letterman with David Letterman. I guess we'll see how funny these guys are really when they're up on the stage trying to ad lib through their monologues themselves. I actually don't find Letterman all that funny. Well, the top ten list is occasionally, but other than that I just don't get his humor most of the time, either that or it isn't funny. My moneys on option 2 though. I did however see an interview he did with Paris Hilton a while back... Rumor had it that she stormed off the stage, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. The first half of the interview was really good though, as she tried to talk up her product lines, and Dave kept hammering on her time in prison. I would highly recommend watching it, if you missed it... Heck, even if you did see it, it's worth a second viewing!! Click here to watch it on YouTube!

The second thought I had tonight was on the situation in Pakistan. I know very little of this situation, except what I saw on the news, although it does seem to follow a familiar pattern. Basically Pakistan have declared a State of Emergency (Not sure why, but their president said it was necessary) and the US (Condi Rice, and Bush) are very upset about it and doing all kinds of things to stop it from happening. Way to stand by your friend Bushy! Wasn't Musharraf one of the few in that region that backed your in your war plans despite taking remarkable heat from his population? But that aside, it really hacks me off the way the US Government feels the need to dictate how the rest of the world handles itself. Islamic Extremest Terrorists attack the US, and we launch attacks on Afganistan and Iraq (Who wasn't really involved). Another country attacks Isreal (who supported our attacks) and we feel we should tell them not to overreact. Pakistan calls a State of Emergency and now we tell them they can't... What the hell?

Mr President, please explain why you throw your weight around overseas, but you can't even build a simple fence on the Mexican border, or tell the Mexican border to quit supporting all the illegal aliens escaping their country. Don't even get me started on the rapist that Bush is trying to get freed, simply to try and appease the corrupt politicians in Mexico. I'll stop there, lest I offend younger readers...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Drug sequel and Chinese Food

So I just came off two weeks of having daily high doses of Pseudoephedrine... The effects of this drug are a lot like ephedra which used to be a great weight loss tool before it was pulled from the market for killing people. It's sad that stuff has to be pulled because people neglect to follow guidelines on the packet and then kill themselves, but this is supposed to be a funny entry.

In the last 3 months I have dropped over 20 pounds... This was in large part due to a diet I made up consisting mostly of protein shakes - No Whey!! is the joke in the office. Any about 80% of the weight came off the first month, and as my fat reserves have dropped and my will power weakened, that curve has leveled off.

My doctor put me of the stuff to clear up large deposits of thick slimy green and yellow stuff in my sinuses - I probably should have clarified to begin with that the humor in this post could likely be categorized in the "Bodily Functions" category, and it will get worse... As a side effect, I was pretty excited about the prospect of souping up my diet with the supplemental help. I'm not normally a drug man, but hey... You've got to follow the doctor's orders. Anyway, in the midst of this, we moved house. Ferrying several truck loads of junk from our tiny house of the last 8 years to our new one that I am not planning on moving from ever!! kind of put the brakes on any working out. In addition I found I was getting minimal sleep each night, which increases cortisol production, and really hammers your chances of losing belly fat... Three days of McDonalds, Burger Kind and Taco Del Mar probably weren't helping either.

On the last day I was on it, so old colleages too me to PF Changs in Salt Lake for lunch. It's a chinese restaurant, and I was pleasantly surprized to find the food absolutely excellent. Lettuce wraps, mongolian beef, sweet and sour chicken and some Singapore Street noodles, and I was a happy man. I was even planning to bring the wife down for a date some time. Then I walked a mile or two back to work and tried to finish up friday... That's when the discomfort started. I endured a couple of hours and then went home. I love seeing my family when I get home, and they seemed extra loving when I walked through the door. With two kids hugging my legs, a wife who needed some adult speak and another 2 kids excited about what had happened at school time stood still. Fortunately I was able to extricate myself from the mob without too many hurt feelings and tore upstairs to my fortress of solitude.

I'm not planning on going to PF Changs again any time soon. The food was excellent but the after effects were less than desirable. As I went running on Monday with a group of friends we discussed our weekend exploits. My description was a subtle description of events describing how I was feeling much better. 1 person not as familiar with the cause as the other asked if the food had tasted as good coming back up. I quietly replied that that had not been the particular problem I had faced, to which another young lass, well know for her ability to tell it how it is responded - "Nope, it came shooting out his butt!!"

The lesson from all of this... The drugs didn't really help with the weight loss like I had planned, but I think that PF Changs did help with a half pound of so. The other lesson that you are likely all hoping I had learnt prior to writing this, is that I really need to start putting content warnings at the tops of my stories.

Country Music and the Pains of Hell

I wrote and posted this a few days ago. It contained a lot of personal stuff that I thought best not to impose upon the rest of the world, however someone did a search on "Mickey Avalon is Stupid" and this post was ranked 4th on Google - Seriously - have you ever seen a Mickey Avalon video? The fact that it was 4th really shocked me. So I have stripped the personal stuff (The pains of hell part!) and left the rest, which actually wasn't that bad - There was still a fair amount of self-loathing, but it fits I think!

I generally don't like country music... When I was a kid there was a joke about backtracking a country song, the punch line being that the guy would get his dog, wife and his truck back - Not a really funny joke, but it pretty much sums up my view of that genre of music. Some years back I would occasionally get the urge to tune into the country station... I sunsequently learned that I am not a pleasant person after listening to it for any amount of time. Kind of like when I used to listen to Michael Jackson - There's self loathing point #1.

There are a handful of country artists that I do like, Toby Keith writes and sings some excellent stuff, and I really like Trace Atkins. My wifes likes some of his stuff too, although I think she's toned that like down a little after she caught my 3 and 1 year olds shaking it to Honky Tonk Badonkadonk... To be fair the look I got on that one was better than the one I got when my 5 year old started singing Mickey Avalon's Jane Fonda as we walked into Church one day - Self loathing point #2

Anyway onto the matter at hand... I was thinkin of a song by Garth Brooks yesterday - He's the only other country guy I like, mostly because he's got Friends in Low Places, but thats another story.

He has a song called The Dance that kind of ties into what I have been thinking about the last few days, but then again not really. It's a typical country song, kind of mellow and sad, so I don't listen to it much. Bascically the story is this... He's married and whilst taking his wife to the local football game runs into his old girlfriend from high school. He talks about how they have changed, and how grateful he is for the prayers which God hasn't answered, since things have turned out better than they would have if he had answered them.

Sometimes though, I think we can look back and find that is isn't so much a case of unanswered prayers, it just that our decisions take us in interesting directions. Not necessarily for better or worse, just different.

I'll no doubt still think back occasionally, but I defintely think the best course is to continue forward and hopefully not make those same mistakes again. I'm grateful in the extreme for second chances though.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Patriotic Banking

There are some things in my life that I am a control freak about. One big thing is my finances... The area I'm freakish over, isn't the spending and that kind of thing, it's just knowing where my money is, and being able to move it around as I see fit.

I currently have money with 2 Credit Unions. For those not sure what a Credit Union is... It's kind of like a bank, except it is member owned, so any dividends come back to the member. I have found the interest higher, the fee's non-existent, and I like their level of customer service.

Anyway, so a couple of times a month I'll sit down and do my bills. I'll set up the auto payments, transfer money from my savings to my checking, pay any other bills, double check my calculations, and generally by the end of the night, I've made 5 or 6 transfers back and forth to make sure all my accounts are in synch.

A few months ago while transferring a couple of dollars from my savings, I noticed that message saying that I had just completed a Regulation D transfer. Subsequent investigation revealed that it is part of a Government Program that tracks all my transfers and limits transfers from a Savings account to any other account (except loan payments) to 8 transfers a month. It was hard to determine if this is a plan on their part to encourage people to save, or if it has to do with the war on terror and trying to track money used to fund terrorists, but if I remember right I think it kind of tried to cover both.

For the NSA and CIA agents who read this post when it gets flagged for using the words terrorist, funding and government in the same piece of writing...

I'm not a freaking terrorist! I'm just a normal guy trying to manage his money and contribute to the American economy. Putting these restrictions in place makes it harder for me to save money, and why the hell are you concerned about my banking decisions when you can't even secure the Mexican border?

Regulation D is one of the dumbest pieces of legislation that the boneheads in Washington have passed recently.

America, land of the free - free to be abused by an out of control government that is...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Defining the Koda

I signed up for a group a while back called NaBloPoMo. National Blog Posting Month. Basically the idea is that during the month of November every member of the group has to post something every day. I'm going to try my best to do this, but we'll see at the end of November.

So since I'm about to start a month of daily blogging, I figured it would be good to kick it off with a discussion of who and what the Urban Koda stands for...

My identity is somewhat of a secret... A few people know who I am, and I try and keep it that way. I'm not so worried of people finding out my true identity, I'm more worried about people who know my true identity, finding out about the Urban Koda. This worried me a little because I am not one who likes to live a double life, but I have found that certain people, mostly family, just can't handle some of this stuff... So in my normal life I discuss these topics with care, whilst as the Urban Koda, nothing is sacred!

Originally this blog was supposed to be about the power of the human soul... It's somehow morphed into a hodge podge of political commentary, religeous observations and just random thoughts I have had.

So if I were to define the Urban Koda...

  • I believe in freedom. No-one is a slave unless they choose to be.
  • I beleive in the infinite power of the human soul. Your body may limit your physical interaction with the world around you, but your mind and soul are limitless.
  • Generally religeon is for weak minded individuals who want to be part of the herd. True religeon should help a man realize his full potential. Realizing that full potential shifts power from a religeous organization to the individual, and therein lies the conflict of interest.
  • I believe in God and Christ. However not in the way most people do. I would tell you, but conversations like this normally end with the other party testifying about Satan and telling me I'm headed straight to hell...
  • I don't like politicians. Most of greedy self centered scum bags.
  • I'm not a republican
  • I'm not a democrat
  • I don't think you can do something good based on a foundation of deceit. Sorry Bush, but the Iraq war and your plans to form an American Union don't sit well with me for that exact reason.
  • Everything should be questioned.
  • Pure Religeon, Pure Science should take us to the same place.
  • I cannot control you, and you cannot control me. Attempting to do so is the reason for all the crap going on in the world right now.
  • I love exercise - to the point that it I might have an obsesssion with it. This is new for me, but I hope it continues. I would like to compete in an IronMan triathlon before I turn 40.
  • I believe that all men are created equal. We're all born into different circumstances, but we can all succeed.
  • Success is not wealth. Wealth is not success. Success is being headed in the right direction for you.
  • I'm frequently sarcastic - Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but it's still a form!!
  • I abhore violence
  • I believe in the American Constitution. I choose to believe in it. I think that it should be held up as a light to the world, but never imposed upon them.
  • I like most music, movies and just life in general.
  • I would like to strip my life of all prejudices. Prejudice is just another way of defining fear and ignorance.

So that's me, or at least part of me... I'll be interested to see where I end up after 30 straight days of posting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Morons Anonymous

I feel a little like I'm in some 12 step program and I'm up to the part where I'm going around apologizing to people.

About a month or so back I discovered Face-book... In the last month, I have reconnected with people from Elementary School, High School and various other periods in my life. I did a blog about that time about how much I have changed over the last 15-20 years and that still holds true.

Amongst the old friends I have reconnected with, are 2 ex-girlfriends. With one exception none of the girls, I dated and I were still on speaking terms. That one exception was a mutual break-up. She was in New Zealand and me in South Africa, and we both sent a letter about the same time indicating that things probably weren't going to work out. We ended up as excellent friends, although I have kind of lost touch in recent years. It's tricky balancing relationships with past flames and a wife. My wife is incredible, and I would never even consider leaving her, so when it comes down to it, if something is going to jeapardize that relationship, it gets given up really quickly.

Anyway, back to the ex-girlfriends... I was a social moron as a teenager. I approached relationships as an all or nothing type thing, and then followed Hitler's idea of using a strict scorched earth policy if things went wrong - it pretty much worked out as well for me as it did for him though.

For the past decade or so, I've often worried about how I left things with some of these young ladies, and while hopefully I have learned from those experiences, it still bugged me how things ended.

In the last month though I have been able to make contact with 2 of them, and have decent civil email conversations with them. Time is definitely a great healer, but also I have apologized to both for my being a complete moron all those years ago. I have been pleasantly surprized at how good it has felt to get those monkey's off my back, especially when I wasn't even really aware the monkey was there.

I'm hoping at this point though that I can figure out how to help my kids learn these lessons before they start dating. Pretty much the only advise I got from my parents was that "I was being too physical" and then some other really bad advise based on how they perceived the various girls. It seems like they always really liked the ones they shouldn't have, and disliked they should have, thinking they were the other way around.

It feels good to apologize and right past wrongs - Of course it would be better if I learned my lessons earlier rather than later, but I'm sure I'll be finding things to apologize for later in life that I am doing now, because I'm still a moron at times.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Something for everyone...

I remember hearing a montage of John Kerry sound clips back in 2004. Basically they illustrated how he was on both sides of every argument. The end message was that no matter what your view, John Kerry believed the same way as you. Funny in a way, but also a disturbing view of what politics has become.

When you look at the field for the 2008 election season, I think what we have is a field of establishment supported politicians, who care more about their personal comfort than the American people. I find their lack of integrity sickening and am not sure if I would trust any of them to sit the right way on a toilet seat, let alone run a great nation.

2008 will also be the first year that I will be able to participate in the Presidential Election, courtesy of the Immagration and Customs Enforcement agency of Homeland Security, so this is of particular interest to me.

In this field of what could only be described as scum bags, there are however 2 exeptions. Barrock Obama is an interesting candidate, his desire to work for the people and not take money from sources which he feels are corrupting politicians has definitely interested me a lot more in him. I don't know enough about him to make an educated analysis of his platform, but I would definitely like to find out more.

Ron Paul is the other exception, not only in the Presidential Race, but in almost every aspect of politics. The more I read about him, hear him and learn about him, the more I like him. Some of his idea's seem a little extreme, but he has excellent logic to support those ideas. He is a politician of the people who calls it as he sees it, and does not change his views based on what he thinks you want to hear from him.

  • If you are against the Iraqi war, Ron Paul is an excellent candidate.
  • If you are for border security, Ron Paul is an excellent candidate.
  • If you are concerned with all the meddling we do in world affairs, Ron Paul is an excellent candidate.
  • If you would like to see America get out of debt and limit government spending, Ron Paul is an excellent candidate.
  • If you would like to help people become self sufficient and succeed, Ron Paul is an excellent candidate.
  • If you believe in freedom, Ron Paul is an excellent candidate.
  • If you believe in Civil Liberties, Ron Paul is an excellent candidate.
  • If you feel something is very wrong with modern politics, Ron Paul is an excellent candidate.

The thing that I like about him the most is that he believes that the more complex an issue, the more localized it needs to be.

Schools shouldn't be handled federally, they should be handled locally, so you can have more say on how things are done.
Abortion and other hot topics are much the same.

Ron Paul is a candidate that will let you live you live and continue to pursue life, liberty and happiness. He is a true American and in the race to make a difference to the country not for himself.

A vote for Ron Paul, isn't a wasted vote, it's a vote for you, me and America.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gay Marriage

As promised, albeit late here is the posting on Gay Marriage.

I used to be very against gay marriage. I used to think some pretty low things of any one with homosexual leanings. I owe the whole community an apology.

I'm not sure why I felt that way, but the feeling went pretty deep and was significant.

I think the change happened a year or two back, while talking to an excellent friend of mine. He asked me what I was scared of.

That's an interesting question. If you've been reading this blog from the beginning, you'll know my feelings on fear and how overused and abused it is in our society. On the subject of Gay Marriage I have heard the following arguments...

It will destroy the traditional family

It diminishes the sanctity of marriage

It's a sin

OK, first off, how are two people committing to live together going to destroy my family? This is almost a non-argument. They love each other, respect each other and are committed to work together to achieve something better than either could achieve on their own. When you think about it, doesn't America need more people who are willing to make these kinds of decisions.

The sanctity of marriage.... Hmmmm. Britney Spears likes being in the spotlight so lets look at her. She had a 'traditional' marriage, and I'm not sure there was too much sanctity in that one - Actually isn't this marriage #2 for her? Liz Taylor, Pamela Anderson and the list could go on for weeks. How an earth can you claim that our society believes in any kind of sanctity of marriage when this is going on, and don't even get me started on the divorce rate in traditional marriages.

It's a sin! Do you know what I think is worse... Raising kids who are self-righteous bigots. Who determines what is a sin and what isn't. Sure I may not choose to live a homosexual lifestyle, but that doesn't make it a sin.

So before I launch to much further into my tirade, let me summarize my feelings thought and beliefs on Gay Marriage. I think it's a good and fair thing. If two consenting adults want to commit to live together and take care of one another, by all means let them get married. Let them have access to all the benefits of medical insurance of a spouse, tax advantages and everything else. It's the right thing to do, it's fair and I think it would make the world a better place.

Please feel free to disagree, just make sure you back it up with some solid reasons why.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gay Marriage and My Drug of Choice

Sorry folks, this week has flown by and this will be my first posting for it. If it makes you feel any better, I'm three or four days behind on my reading of the Dilbert blog too...

I'll start off with a discussion on my drug of choice... well, let start off with a funny story! I was involved in a leadership council at the Church I attend. This was about a year ago. At the time I was working full time, had an almost full time home business and was struggling to keep family, sleep and everything else in balance. I figured I could cut down on sleep, but caffeine only helps so far. So there we sit, three or four of us, and an idea comes to mind... Being an idiot, I open my mouth. I say idiot, because invariably when I say something wacky with a straight face, people think I am serious and all kinds of problems ensue. "Do you think God would be OK with us taking Crystal Meth to help us be more effective in our positions as Church leaders? I mean we would have so much more energy and could get a lot more done..." STUNNED SILENCE, and then the stammering..., "Um, uh, well, um, a God would, well um, drugs, bad..." - "No seriously guys, as long as we used it in a responsible way, I don't think he would mind" - "Um uh, well um, I er" Anyway, I am no longer in that council - Not sure if my ideas for greater effectiveness had anything to do with that though.

So why Crystal Meth - well personally, I wouldn't choose to use it purely because of the side effects. I had a friend who tried it once, and he described it as if he had thousands of alarm clocks going off at once, and while he had the energy, he just didn't know how or what to do. I guess the brain damage would be a factor in my decision as well.

I was sick last week, and so the doctor prescribed a bunch of stuff, including some souped up Psuedoephedrine pills. You have to sign all kinds of Department of Justice stuff when you get them, since they are trying to crack down on Meth production (and these are a major ingredient, aparently). I like pseudoephedrine - it ramps up the heart and makes you feel really good. I don't think I've slept more than 4 or 5 hours each night all this week, but even now I feel FanFreakingTastic!

Psuedoephedrine is my drug of choice, now I just need to learn how to spell it right!

I wanted to touch on my opinions on Gay Marriage as well, but this post is getting a wee bit long... Perhaps later in the day!

For the record... I do not endorse Crystal Meth production or use. I was kidding when I raised it at the Church Council meeting. And I only use Psuedoephedrine when I have a major cold or other sinus infection - besides if you use it too much, it does't pack the same punch each time and that just not a responsible way to use drugs!

Friday, October 12, 2007

And the Nobel Prize for Credibility Assassination goes to...

...The Nobel Prize committee.

I have always considered the Nobel Prize to be an award for those who achieve excellence in a particular field.

Recently a University of Utah professor received it for discovering a method to genetically alter DNA in mice to simulate various diseases. Simply amazing stuff.

Nelson Mandela received it for his contribution to world peace, and having heard him speak in person, I think it was very well deserved.

Jimmy Carter got it for peace as well, and while I personally feel he does more to cause problems, you have to admire a man who tries his best to resolves situations without resorting to war.

Al Gore was just nominated to receive the award for his contribution to informing the Globe about the dangers of Climate Change. Well he has done a good job propogating this flawed philosophy, you would think that a committee such as the Nobel Prize committee would be able to rise above the hype that Global Warming has become.

There is one way in which I guess he may have earned it...

With politician on both sides of the political spectrum now running to jump on the Climate Change bandwagon, this is an issue which could have the potential to bring people on all sides together. By focussing on a common enemy (although in this case the enemy is just an illusion) it could have had the potential to bring the world together.

The flaws with this approach though are definitely worse than the potential problems with global climate change.

1. People are being manipulated to stand together on an issue because it is being used to instill fear into them. Fear is a great tool to shut down logical thinking and stimulate a group to follow a single idea, unquestioningly.

2. Almost everytime this is raised by a politician, they invariably end up promising legislation to prevent this calamity. The last thing this world needs is more government intervention and involvement.

3. Global warming is a myth. It's not science and at some point it will be debunked on a global level. I call the resulting effect of this, the 'Santa Claus Effect', because as a child, when I discovered the truth of Santa Claus, I started to wonder what else my parents had lied about. While it will cause people to question what they are told, which is good in and of itself, but it will also cause a significant amount of ill feeling and mistrust. Mistrust is something that politicians and other supporters of Climate Change deserve right now, but I don't think it would form a very good basis for a functional society.

So in summary, while the Nobel prize may indeed be a great honor to receive, awarding it to someone like Al Gore, seriously diminishes that honor. Sorry guys, but you really should have thought this one through.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Scientific Cascades Amongst Others

Scott Adams referred to an article in the New York Times in this morning's blog. He used evolution as an example in explaining the article, but I would like to look at 2 or 3 other examples to which it could be applied. The article itself is very informative, itself using the debate over the benefits of low-fat diets to illustrate the point. I would highly recommend reading it...

NY Times - Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus

So basically what seems to happen is that a scientist or other notable person makes a discovery, observes something, or comes up with a theory. Other scientists then follow his lead, adding their voices to the cause, and before long a significant consensus is built, not based on scientific fact, but simply on the idea that, that many smart people can't be wrong.

So let's look at a few examples:

I posted an entry yesterday on Global Warming. If you reviewed some of the supporting material I provided, you will no doubt have seen that the initial idea about the temperature change was from a graph showing average temperatures with a sharp increase in the early 80's. Recently it was found that a change was made in the way average temperatures were calculated, this change however was not retroactively applied to temperatures prior to the change, and the result was a graph showing irrefutable evidence that the planet is warming.

I have found that human nature seems to see what it wants to see if it approaches a problem with a presumed idea of the outcome. I had a co-worker years ago come and ask me to speak with the boss about a potential idea. I forget the specifics, but lets say the employee thought making widget A was a good idea, but felt that the boss would just shoot it down. We entered the office. Coworker presented the idea that widget A would be a good idea. The boss agreed. The coworker then provided every possible reason as to why widget A was a bad idea, and had no chance of succeeding. The boss listened, and then agreed with him, that it might not be in the best interests of the company. We left the office, and co-worker turned to me, and said something to the effect of... "Did you see how he just shot my idea down? He does it all the time."

Something else where this happens is religeon. A significant leader proposes an idea, whether from a divine source or his own brain. Followers assume he speaks for God and start to teach it as coming from a divine source, and before long, a simple musing or idea turns into a rigid doctrine. Some years ago, a leader in the denomination with which I affiliate made a comment on preparing to be a missionary... He said that it required a certain amount of preparation, and that you could not base your efectiveness purely on "how many kills you had achieved in a video game." He got some good laughs, and I think the intent of his message was not that video games were bad, but that the preparation was needed in other area's of life as well. Last year, our local leader decided that it was innappropriate for any member of the congregation to engage in video game tournaments, citing the point made by the afforementioned leader. Blindly everyone followed - except me! My house went up for sale shorly thereafter! I'd prefer not to live amongst men who abuse their presumed authority and a bunch of sheep who follow them blindly, but that's beside the point!

The more I think about this, the more I can see it in the world around me... Politics, Academics, Sports, and the list goes on and on.

I think the key is getting people to think for themselves. When an idea is articulated by a person, that idea should be judged on it's own merits, rather than on the merits of the person who proposes it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Egg on my face...

The Salt Lake Tribune had a terrifying headline today, and it just got worse as I read the first paragraph:

Greenhouse pollution: Utah warming faster than anywhere else on Earth

Utah is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than the rest of the nation. The state is warming faster than anywhere else on the planet. And if nothing changes, prolonged, extreme droughts and heat waves are virtually assured.

The grim findings released Tuesday in the final report from Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s Blue Ribbon Advisory Council on Climate Change are bad news for coming generations. But they also underpin scores of suggestions for an action plan to shrink the state's carbon footprint, a goal the governor intends to pursue.

KSL TV had the same story, only a little less dire.

Task Force Makes Suggestions about Global Warming

Global warming is for real, human activity is likely causing most of it, and it could mean serious consequences for Utah. The Governor's office released those scientific conclusions today, along with recommendations for doing something about the problem.

The governor appointed a Blue Ribbon Task Force on Climate Change more than a year ago. They in turn asked climate experts for a scientific report. But whether you believe the conclusions in their final report issued today, the Task Force is asking you to be part of the solution.

Is the earth's climate warming up? The science report for the Governor's Blue Ribbon Task Force says, "There is no longer any scientific doubt... There is very high confidence that human-generated increases in greenhouse gas concentrations are responsible for most of the global warming observed during the past 50 years."

Let me begin by apologizing to the rest of the world for causing your problems with global warming. I and every other Utah hang our heads in shame.

There are a few tips to follow when telling a good lie. These stories followed half of those tips, but missed the boat on the others.

Tip #1: Clever liars give details, but the cleverest don't. I think this was how my parents knew when I was lying, because it always involved some elaborate story. These two articles contain no details about any scientific evidence what-so-ever. Of course in the case of this article it might be handy to be able to look up those references for yourself, but since there is "No longer any scientific doubt..." I guess I don't need to.

Tip #2: A lie needs to be 95% truth. The idea here is you want the lie to be believable. For so time, I have been seeing reports about Beijing, especially in light of the Olympics there next year. They have problems with pollution, due to all the green house gases being pumped out by power plants. Surprisingly though, UT, a state with an abundance of forests and open land is worse than China - at least that is what the idiot reporters would have us believe.

Seriously though folks, this is the biggest load of CRAP I have even read - well except for when the HR Rep at my last employer tried to explain their compensation philosophy or complete lack there-of, but that could be the subject for another blog!

I have stated before, that I feel it is important to take care of the environment, but I believe we should do that out of personal responsibility, rather than by being manipulated by moron politicians and reporters after a story.

If you would like to understand why this is such a big deal, I would really recommend reading Michael Crichton's State of Fear

Chester the Bear has also written some excellent posts on this matter, and providing this link to an excellent series of video's from the Scientific Community about why the climate data is faulty, as well as the natural cycles of the earth, through which the earth is continuing to go.

As for the reporters, politicians and everyone else involved in the BS that is this 'news' story... Most of probably just well-meaning, yet absolutely and completely ignorant, to which I say... tsk, tsk, tsk!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Look to your left and look to your right ...

one of them is going to become a terrorist. I remember being told this in a high school assemby one morning. Statistics then were that 1 in every 3 youths would run off to join one of the terrorist factions fighting the apartheid regime. Back then I figured it would probably be me. Not that I believed in the principles of terrorism then, or even now. But something was wrong, and needed to be changed.

I do not now, nor have I ever advocated the use of force to overthrow a government.

My wife and I watched "The Interpreter" over the weekend. I've seen it before, but I've been watching a few movies lately with political themes linked to Southern Africa, and it seemed like this would be a good time to see it again. I would highly recommend this movie.

Last weekend I watched a movie called "Stander". This film was based on the true story of a Police Captain turned bank robber in South Africa in the later 70's and early 80's. When I remember them talking about him on the news, I recall that he was always painted as a criminal and little reference was ever made to his political motivations. His story is incredible, although not one with a 'Happily Ever After' ending.

These movies have got me thinking about a lot of things. Most especially about making a difference.

When I was a kid living under the Apartheid government, I knew something was wrong. Subsequent time spent amongst the Zulu people of South Africa, revealed to me the utter hell that this time was for these people, and the incredible deception perpetrated by the government.

I think there is a lot of similar deception going on now with the US government as well, and likely most governments through out the world.

In 'The Interpreter' they speak about how a liberator will use force to free his country from an oppressive dictator, only to turn into an even worse dictator, once he gets a taste of power.

I'm tired of being lied to. I'm tired of corrupt men who have positions of authority, but yet use those positions for selfish means. I'm tired of the polarization of our society.

I think that more than 90% of the worlds population are good decent people. The percentage is likely even higher than that. The problem is that we are taught separation from the time we are kids. We are taught to manipulate others to get them to think the same way as us, because we have a better government, we have a better way of living, we are part of a true church and everyone else is wrong.

This way of think permeates every part of our culture. It's the reason we go to war and probably causes most other problems as well - if not all of them.

I think it would be overly ambitious to believe that I could change the world, but I think I would be failing as a human if I didn't try...

The key is going to be... What is the best way to break out of this horrible cycle?

War is definitely not the answer, but I'm still not sure what is.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Rat Head Safe to Eat

This article in the Salt Lake Tribune is a piece of journalistic genius. It took a while to read, since I kept having to stop to catch my breath from laughing so hard, but it was well worth it.

Rat Head Safe To Eat

6th Continent Added...

I added a tool to this blog a couple of weeks back, to track the locations of my visitors. As of a couple of days ago, it has been visited by people from 6 continents. The final one to fall was Africa, and if it was who I suspect it was, I owe a very special young lass, a huge thank-you. Not only has she had a remarkable effect on my life since I first met her some 20 years ago, but hitting 6 continents in no small accomplishment.

Thanks to all who have read, commented and otherwise influenced this blog - I really appreciate each of you.

As a side note, if anyone visits from Antarctica... Please let me know in a comment - I don't think the map utility knows what or where Antarctica is.


Before I begin this blog... I just added the Dilbert blog to the list of links on the right. It's a lot more edgy than the cartoon, but Scott Adams raises very valid points, in a very humorous way. Today's contribution tackles Our Alleged Freedom, a very well written analogy of the situation we face in the US, and likely in other countries too.

Now to the topic at hand. First a bit of a warning... I had a friend a long time ago, who tried to get a boycott going against a local radio station because they dared to start a show with the question... "Does God Exist?". If you would have supported him in that move, this blog entry probably isn't for you... Actually, I would think most of the entries in this blog aren't for you! Personally I don't think there is a problem questioning something, as long as your approach is to find truth. If you choose to ignore this warning, and then write nasty comments because you choose to be offended by it, please understand that I do retain the right to tear you down!

So I was at the gym last night, doing a good cardio workout, and my buddy and I were watching a women's soccer game on TV. The station is run by a local religeous school, and often has religeous programming. Following the game, a scene appeared with a women walking through the desert with a pot on her head. I'll be honest that I was expecting the new Ford Focus or the Nissan Rogue to fly out of the dust and have some momentous event happen as part of an ad, but it never did.

Turns out the ad, was actually a program on the story of "The Woman at the Well" in the New Testament... We switched back to the Music station a little while later, but that small portion I did see, got me thinking...

Let me switch to the point of this entry, and then I'll come back to the woman at the well. The religeon I affiliate with, as well as numerous others, teaches the principle of having a testimony, based on your faith. To lay it out, faith is basically believing in something you haven't seen. A testimony is the expression of that faith. A believer might share something like, "I believe in God, I believe in Christ, I believe in the Resurection..." etc.

While religeons may differ in aspects of this, I was taught that this whole process begins with a desire to believe, from then, you start to express this desire as a belief, and the more you share it, the stronger it gets. If you stop sharing it, and working on it, it gradually fades away...

So back to the well. If you are not familiar with the story, the cliffnotes version is this. Lady comes to the well. Jesus is sitting there. He asks her to draw him some water. They discuss some other stuff - cultural differences etc. Jesus tells her that anyone who drinks from the well will thirst again, whereas he can offer a drink that they will never thirst again from.

This story is often used to teach testimonies and other related things with the Gospel. But as I listened to the story, and thought about what I know about testimonies, I see a problem.

The human brain is immensly powerful. So powerful in fact, that it can actually take an illusion and place it as a filter to reality. People who have these illusions (and most do) see things the way they want to see them, and not necessarily as they are. The process to gain a testimony that I described before, is the process of talking yourself into an illusion of God. Ironically, when you compare it with the story, it's like the water from the well. You can drink it, but unless you keep drinking, it goes away, leaving you thirsty.

So what then is the water that will leave you not being thirsty for ever more? I think that it is finding truth, rather than convincing yourself of faith. Finding truths that are verifiable and eternal in nature will start you on a life long journey of finding more truth. You won't have to keep trying to convince people of your beliefs in God and other spiritual things, you'll know what you know, and know that you cannot convince others of it.

I had a testimony as prescribed by my Church until a year or two back. It was kind of like a house of cards, and when one card got moved by a friend, the whole thing came down - not a pleasant experience, let me tell you! But at the same time, it has turned out to be the best experience of my life. I have discovered some amazing things, and will yet discover many more. The best part is, I am no longer being sucked into a religeous fanatical void, where I have to continually convince myself of what is true... I know, and it's definitely not what I thought, and I also know that I know very little too.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I heard a quote by Ted Kennedy on the radio the other night... It was in reference to the Childrens Health Insurance Program and how it was a very fair program, and since American's understand fairness, they wanted the bill to be passed.

You might remember good ol' Teddy as the poster child for "It's OK to get drunk and drive your girlfriend into a river, and forget to tell anyone, as long as your family are well connected."

So in a nutshell, here's the deal... People have kids, and then decide that they can't afford to provide them with basic medical care. Since obviously I am to blame for their bad decisions, taxes which are taken from me in an unconstitutional manner are then used to provide insurance for these kids. Sounds fair to me so far, I mean it's all about the kids right?

I am especially proud that the kids of a relative of mine are covered under this program as well. Here you have two people who chose to have kids, who could barely afford a recent trip abroad, fancy furniture for their home and a host of other 'necessities'. Fortunately because we believe in fairness, my taxes pay for their kids insurance, and my kids were more than happy to settle with a big summer vacation which was pretty much just an afternoon at the local swimming pool.

Yes, Mr. Kennedy I understand fairness real well...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ghosts from the Past...

I've had a busy week, hence the posts have been a little lacking. It has been an interesting one too... Let me start with a little history.

I'm African, born and raised. The only thing missing is the nice dark skin, but other than that the African Sun glows in my eyes and her blood runs through my veins. When I was about 16, I was whisked away to New Zealand, and then when I was 22, I voluntarily moved to the US (The cute young lady to whom I am now wed, was largely instrumental in this however). I love the principles that the US is built on, I love the freedom, and I love the opportunities that my kids have, but I still think back to Africa on occasion.

Wednesday afternoon, as my mind drifted back to the neighborhood I grew up in, I thought of an old friend who I have tried to get back in touch with, but have never been able to track down. Well, a couple of Google searches later, and I found someone with the same name, in the same area, and working as a webmaster (He and I were both computer nerds growing up). It seemed like a good possibility this could be him.

A couple of emails later, I am back in contact with him, as well as a handful of other friends. It was so exciting I had a hard time falling asleep that first night.

Aside from the exciting emotions of finding lost friends, also came the realization that I have changed dramatically...

As a kid, I had no social skills, my best friend was likely the family dog, and I was an ultra conservative, homophobic, devoutly Mormon kid. The one area where I was a little different was on my views that all men are created equal - not the most popular opinion under an Apartheid government, but that was about as radical as I got.

Now lets jump forward 15+ years...

Fortunately I think I have picked up some social skills along the way, so right off, it's tricky knowing if old friends will recognize me. My current greeting of "Hey! What's Up?" is a far cry from the little boy who sat quietly in the corner.

I've graduated from the conservative way of thinking, where I believed that the purpose of government and other leaders was to make rules and enforce them. I now adopt the more libertarian approach that all people are basically good, and can be trusted to do the right thing (even if it's different from what I think should be right).

I must admit that I did raise my eyebrows a little when I found out that one friends brother just had a Civil Union performed with his boyfriend, now spouse. But in the grand scheme of things, that isn't going to affect me. While I may not practice or feel personally that homosexuality is they way things were intended to be, the fact that two people love each other enough to make a life commitment to each other is honorable.

The final area is the one I think has bothered me the most... When I describe myself as a devout Mormon, I am meaning someone who holds rigidly to the doctrine and the instruction handed down from leaders with rigid and often blind obedience. Experiences, more particularly in recent years, have allowed me to realize that such a course of action is (in my humble opinion) contrary to how God created us. The main belief taught by the LDS Church is that men (and women) have the potential to become like God, but unfortunately, the way the principles are taught is often manipulative and induces fear into the followers, thus appearing to limit their freedom and be in direct opposition to how things should be.

I'll be the first to admit I don't know much. I have some personal beliefs that I have come to find out for myself regarding God, eternal life, and how the principle of a Savior applies to me, but I think this understanding is something that resembles more of a journey than a destination. I still affiliate with the LDS Church, and personally feel that many of the principles that the church has and teaches are useful in finding truth, but I'm not the blindly obedient robot that I once was. I guess that that I would classify myself as an Agnostic, Christian Mormon with Deist influences and still searching for more.

My old friends are still very devout Christians, just in different Churches and following slightly different paths. One is currently studying to be a minister and doing some amazing things with you. The hardest thing was knowing how to talk to someone who believes that God controls every aspect of his existence, when my thoughts are... "Hey God gave you a brain, figure it out yourself - It's time to put the big boy pants on!" But in reality, who am I to impose my views on him. Ultimately we're just two people trying to make it through this life - why complicate it with an argument that neither of us can win, because neither are right and neither are wrong.

Anyway, sometimes it is good to look back into the past to see where we have come from, what experiences have shaped who we have become and then I think it is important to realize that we are not tied to our pasts, or our futures. The past is unchangeable, the future is ours for the taking, and right now I am glad to be alive and be free to choose for myself.