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.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Being had...

I just had a very interesting and thought provoking weekend, on a number of levels.

Since it is Monday morning though and I should really get a good start on my work, I'm going to start by sharing a link to a blog postings by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert.

Let me warn you that he does use a number of powerful explitives in this post, so it probably isn't suitable for kids. It's a thinker as well, so if you standard to reponse to anything in a political discussion is something like. "But I still think Bush is 'The Man'" then this post may not be for you.


Thursday, September 20, 2007


Last night from 9pm to 10pm residents of Salt Lake City turned off their lights. It was an initiative proposed by the current Governor to highlight the need to combat global warming. I stand with millions around the world in giving the governor and the City of Salt Lake a standing ovation in turning the tide Global Warming.

Seriously though, this is from a man who ran his campaign based on being a conservative politician.

Here's some facts:

  • The Global Warming scare is mostly a pile of political BS.
  • The energy crisis has more to do with political red tape getting in the way of progress than natural processes.
  • Turning lights off for an hour... Come on! If this was seriously an issue, what good would it do?

Somewhere, somehow, sometime, someone needs to standup and say, "Why can't we build new power plants that have minimal impact on the environment. Let's surround them with a nature reserve, so we aren't in people's back yards and we're helping preserve natural habitat."

Of course that would require both sides to be open to compromise... And that's just not going to happen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Triathlon Saga

Well, here's the long awaited saga on the Triathlon I did last weekend.

Before I begin let me give a little history... About 15 years ago, I was pretty active, swimming well over a mile a day, cycling 10 or 15 and running everywhere I went. Then I got married, and then finally managed to get myself a desk job. The result has been about 40 extra pounds packed on. At the end of 2006, I couldn't run more than about a quarter mile without collapsing in a pile of jiggling goo, and anything more than a minute or 2 wrestling with my kids would leave me flaked out on the floor.

I had a neighbor (he moved a few months back) who was kind of the same way, and so at the beginning of the year, we decided to start working out. It helped to that he is a cop and so gets free access to the City Gym where he works!!

The first 4 months were horrible. If it hadn't been for my pride and him dragging me every night, I would likely have given up.

One very important lesson I learned during this time, was that shoes matter. We tried to get out and run 3 times a week, and the pain in my legs and ankles was killing. Turns out the expensive Nikes I had bought were crappy shoes and causing the problems, so I went to a running store and they mapped out and analyzed my feet with a computer. After shelling out nice wad of cash, I got a pair of real running shoes, and they have made all the difference.

In April or May I read a story about a guy who had used a triathlon as a goal in his fitness routine. I always wanted to do one when I was a kid, so I decided to train for 1. This meant I had to add swimming and cycling to my exercise routine, but the variety really helped.

At the beginning of August I entered my first triathlon. It was a novice distance - 200M swim, 4 mile bike and 1 mile run. As my wife so nicely put it... "It's not like it's a real triathlon."

It went fairly well. I started a little too fast in the swim, and so spent the rest of the event sucking air, but I got finished in a little over 33 minutes, and came 5th overall and first in my age group.

Fresh off that success I felt the urge to try another. This last one was a Sprint Triathlon, although the Swim and Bike were a little shorter than a traditional Sprint Triathlon. 400M Swim, 9mile bike and 5k run.

Fresh off 4 hours of sleep following the Def Leppard concert, I headed down last Saturday. It took a while to get going but that helped because it gave me time to run through the race in my head and prepare mentally - I've found triathlons are very much mental! You have to be mental to try one, and then you need the mental determination to finish.

This one used chip timing which was pretty cool, and tracked every leg of the event, including the transitions. It also meant the timing was based on you starting and not the whole group.

I started the swim with the 11 minute group - mostly because I didn't want to push the swim too hard and run into the same problems as the first one. I passed a bunch of people in the pool and exited the pool in about 9 minutes. Took an easy transition and then started the bike section. It went fairly well. I borrowed my buddy's bike, since mine is about 15 years old, but I did decide that I really need to invest in a road bike, as a mountain bike just doesn't quite cut it. My average speed was 15.7mph, and the guys who came in the top places all averaged over 20.

Finished the bike strong, took another easy transition and then started the run. I did a 5k back in July in about 32 minutes - not really impressive, but it almost killed me, so I have been doing a lot more running since. The run went really well. It was a two lap course with a short and very steep hill halfway round each lap. I decided to walk that, and was very glad I did. I ended up finishing the run in 28 minutes, and the entire event in an hour and 17 minutes.

I think I'm going to give it a rest for the rest of the season. I have a 5k race in 2 weeks, and than after that I think I need to hunker down in preparing for next year. So far the plan is to run the Ogden Half Marathon in May, and then I would really like to work up to doing an open water Sprint Triathlon and an Olympic Triathlon (Twice the Sprint Distance.)

I definitely need a new road bike, probably need to get a new pair of running shoes, and need to stock up on GU packs - They're those little gooey sugar packs that marathoners use... Seemed to make the world of difference at the triathlon.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Incredible piece of writing

I often read another blog by a fellow Utahn. Usually his stuff is good. Today he went far and above good.

As he reflects many of the thoughts I have, I thought I would provide a link to this particular story.

Simple Utah Mormon Politics: Mountain Meadows and Jihad: One Lesson From Two September 11th Events

Pizza Hut Revisited....

If you read my ...Pizza Hut review a month or so back, do not be alarmed - I DID NOT RETURN.

After writing that review, I unsubscribed from the weekly Pizza Hut deal email - No point in getting coupons for crappy service and crappy food.

Last week I started getting the emails again, so I unsubscribed - again, and then sent an email to their corporate headquarters, describing my experience and asking them to ensure my name was removed from the mailing list.

They emailed back fairly quickly apologizing for the experience and informing me that since the local Pizza Hut is franchise owned, that they had contacted the owner and he would be contacting me within 3 days to help get the situation resolved (In my mind the only thing would be a free Papa Johns pizza) The only situation I think that exists is that they hired useless employees, but that's just my opinion.

Anyway, it's been well over a week and no word from the local franchise owner... Guessing the attitude of zero customer service goes all the way to the top!

So for the millions who read this blog... Don't go to Pizza Hut! For a more delightful and fun experience, try making your own - A certain dancing mouse in the land down under has a great recipe on her blog right here

[Post Publication Note: Just got another damn email from Pizza Hut - apparently unsubscribe means something different in the Pizza World!!]

Sticky Situation

Interesting headline in the newspaper caught my eye on the way to the restroom this morning... Note: Not in the restroom however! Something just not right with guys who take a paper into the restroom at work!

Anyway, the heading was "Feds sued over plant raids". I wondered if it had to do with some recent immigration raids at some meat processing plants. On my return trip a minute or 2 later I stopped to read the article, and sure enough, someone is sueing the Federal government over the conducting of immigration raids. Bloody Hell! I thought, finally the government does their job, and someone sues.

Turns out thought that the reason for the lawsuit is that there were a number of citizens who were detained during the raid until their immigration status could be determined. So I guess there is a valid reason for the lawsuit - Not so much a guess though, since it is a blatant violation of their constitutional rights.

In my mind though, I think that the government should in turn sue the plant owners for hiring illegal workers and then the employees could sue the owners as well for putting them to work, side-by-side with illegal aliens.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Corruption, Def Leppard & Styx

With all the talk about 9/11, I get really testy listening to all the politicians go on about how great they are, but aren't doing damn thing to protect the border. I'll stop this rant right now, but if you want to read an excellent blog entry on what is wrong with politics, I would highly recommend one by Frank Staheli - On 9/11, I Nominate Newt Gingrich for Dogcatcher.

Now on to the important stuff... A good friend took the wife and I to the Def Leppard concert on Friday night. We started the evening off at Biaggi's in the Gateway - Excellent, Excellent food - although personally I would not order my dish again (Some pasta name San Marco - It wasn't bad, just not my cup of tea, plus I was trying to load carbs for the Triathlon the next day, so my choices where limited) Anyway, the service, the atmosphere and everything were dead-on.

We got to the concert right as Foreigner started playing. I knew more than I thought I would, although you have to be a little creeped out by 50+ year old men singing for all the Dirty Girls to come down, because they are Dirty Boys (Yuck!!)

They were on for about 40 minutes following which there was a break while they set the stage up for Styx. Did I mention this was out at the Usana Amphitheatre?

Let me set the scene for Styx... I know "Come Sail Away" and "Mr. Roboto" and I saw an unplugged show they did for PBS on TV last year. I figured they were kind of a mellow group. That was all shattered when they came out on stage. Their entrance was phenomenal, the sound perfect and they rocked and entertained like no-one else I have even seen - except perhaps Cowboy Mouth. I'll be purchasing a few Styx CD's this weekend I think.

The final act was Def Leppard - The only group of the three that I am really familiar with. By the time they came out, the seating was packed, it was dark, and I was starting to have a headache and feel a little rocked out (I'd been up since 4am as well which didn't help).

They were pretty good. The lighting was great as where their video effects. The sound could have been a little better managed, and it seemed all they did as the concert went on was increase the volume. About half way through, the drummer to a break and the remaining 4 members of the band grabbed accoustic guitars and sang a few songs on the ramp leading out from the center of the stage. At this point, with the headache and all, it was very much appreciated and the balance for this portion was really good to.

The final song for the evening, excluding their encore was "Put some sugar on me" Which was a good thing, because I think the wife would have been pretty upset if they had skipped that one. All in all though, they did a good job, but I think Styx had a better show, if only because their sound was better managed.

Leaving the concert appeared to be the biggest challenge of the night. We parked in the premier lot, which cost a fair bit, but was supposed to make it easier to leave. The problem was all the drunken morons which parked in the same lot. Not only did I pick up a few new words for the vocabulary, but I was shocked at the attitudes of people trying to leave... I think if everyone had been patient and taken their turn trying to get out, things would have gone smoother for everyone.

2 hours later, we arrived at the in-laws house to spend the night... I pounded some Ibuprofen, set about 8 or 9 alarms, and settled in for about 4 hours of sleep.

Check back tomorrow (or later today if I get bored!) for the saga of my first Sprint Triathlon.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Greatest Weekend Ever....

Ok, so it may not have been the greatest weekend of all time, but it's gotta rank up there somewhere...

I am intending about blogging on each aspect later in the week, but just to give you a taste for what is coming....

On Friday night I went to a concert here in Salt Lake. On the docket where 3 bands: Foreigner, Styx and Def Leppard. It rocked - literally and figuratively.

On Saturday morning I awoke extra early and took part in a triathlon in Salt Lake City.

The rest of the weekend was pretty lame, but with minimal sleep and the triathlon, I was pretty lame myself, so it seemed like a good mix.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Scandalous that they should die...

It was with much sadness that I listened to the news this morning that Pavarotti had passed away. I'll admit that I am not much of an opera guru, but I think I have known of Pavarotti for most of my life.

It made me think back to a few other deaths that I have been saddened by over the past decade or so.

Most recently was Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter, and the other that remains in my memory was Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

All three of these were people that I felt I knew, not so much because I what I read or heard about them, but more because of what I didn't. They went about sharing their talents with the world, and in the process of which managed to avoid the sex, money and drug scandals that seem to have become common place with the popular people of today.

Yes, these are people that I admire and will miss greatly.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Something worse than Hillary...

I saw a couple of clips of Hillary campaigning over the weekend. It's not that I don't like the Democrats, or woman or anything like that. In fact, I don't even care what her sexual orientation is. The things that gets me, is just the blatant lying. She claims to be about everyone working together by choice, but supports "Big Government" programs. It's like she votes communist but is running a libertarian campaign. I guess if the American people are dumb enough not to see that, then it is kind of our choice to vote her in, and we'll get what we deserve.

While thinking about that in the wee hours of this morning though, our new puppy puked. Actually it was more like exploded... To save him from being tossed by the wife, I figured I needed to clean it up before heading out to work.

I don't think I have ever smelt anything so vile in my life. I would describe it, but quite frankly the sooner I can put it behind me the better.

If it came down to dealing with Hillary for 4 years and cleaning puppy puke up again, I think I might opt for Hillary...