Saturday, September 27, 2008

Presidential debate 1

You didn't think I wasn't going to say something about the presidential debate, did you? Ah, I can't help myself. Plus, this is my blog---I can write anything I want to, eh?

Well, I'm not going to get into the politics of it too much. I didn't think this debate really clarified anything political. In my opinion, it ended up being a display of two very distinct personalities. We got to see how the two candidates react when backed into a corner. I don't think it was a debate where one of the two could be declared winner.

McCain seemed to be the same as we've seen him throughout the campaign--tough, maybe a little stubborn, and unsuccessful with funny. Several times he showed frustration and even a bit of anger. He didn't really show up Obama with his politics. Like most politicians, he refuses to admit mistakes and likes to stretch the truth about personal successes. One thing that showed up in McCain's demeanor tonight is something that keeps me from seriously considering him for president, and that is his itchy trigger finger. He's not a thinker. He's not for study of the issues, looking at the many possibilities, and then choosing the best answer. Instead, he does what he did with Bush and Iraq---he shoots first, and then asks questions later. I commend him for finding the good and the positive possibilities of the Iraq War. But I also think it's imperative to learn from our mistakes. McCain, like Bush, refuses to talk about the Iraq War ever being a bad idea or a bad policy. I don't want someone as president who may or may not be able to get us out of a terrible situation, created by a bad policy. I'd rather select someone who I think will do everything they can to keep us out of those situations in the first place. While McCain seems a bit brighter than his partner, Gov. Sarah Palin, he's still no scholar.

Obama was pretty much cool and collected as always tonight, though his answers came somewhat more slowly than during his many brilliant speeches. Tonight's debate was supposed to be McCain's night, since he's considered to have an edge on foreign policy. Obama could've been tempted to talk "tougher" than usual about this, in order to keep up with McCain. But I was very impressed with his answers. This is a man who is bright, intelligent, well educated and well-spoken. He is obviously confident in himself and in his proposed policies---that they are what America truly needs right now. (With this, I strongly agree). He's a great communicator--someone who seems to handle pressure well. He believes in diplomacy and in talking to our allies, our potential allies, and our enemies. Maybe it's because he's young that he seems to be more optimistic about the world than McCain. He believes we can actually solve some of the world's great issues. He thinks change in Washington is greatly needed. Not many dispute that. And he thinks it's worth the risk to leave behind the old ways of government. I thought he answered question honestly and humbly, choosing not to tangle with McCain in a mud-slinging match. That I can respect.

All in all though, we didn't really hear a lot of different things, from either candidate, that we haven't already heard this election season. Like I said, I think the only thing I learned is the way their personalities are different. And I think personality is important--I think personality shapes policy. I came away, not feeling like McCain was a bad guy, not feeling like Obama was amazing. Just feeling confident about supporting my candidate. (Can you guess which one I like?)

Anyway, I love watching this stuff. Can't wait for the next one.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pregant is fabulous...

Brynn (my wife, of course) went to get pregnancy pictures today. I'm excited and I've been supporting this idea. I'm glad she's cool with it. I don't know, there's just something beautiful, wonderful, miraculous, and sexy about my pregnant wife and her belly. That's right honey, I think it's sexy. (Don't get me wrong--this doesn't mean I necessarily want to put you in that way again).

She went to friends of ours to have the pictures taken. Our friend Jami is an extremely talented photographer so she was the obvious choice. And we're totally thankful for the deal she gave us. Thank you Jami.

Well, I don't have a lot else to say right now. I'm heading to the gym in a bit. I'm considering training for a mini-triathalon, which is coming up in early November. Nothing solid yet, but I might as well get into better shape anyway. I won't be able to brag about it too much since it's a mini. The swim is only 350 meters, though that might prove to be a lot for me. The run is a 5k and the bike ride is a 10k. But it'll be a good experience I'm sure. I might have to stop drinking Coca-Cola for this one. (Don't count on it though.)

Anyway, good day All!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What's it all for?

You know, when I was a missionary, spreading the good word throughout Los Angeles, I taught, and still believe today, that the purpose of life is quite simple; Become the best YOU you can and, have joy. As I've gotten more experience, gotten older, and had my eyes opened wider, I realize that the purpose of life has become distorted for far too many people. It seems that it now takes more and more to make people feel "happy," and to have joy. What happened?

The so-called "American dream" is an idea that's been around for nearly a century. European immigrants from the early 1900s through the 1920s or so knew about it. Their American dream consisted of living in a free society, being able to take care of their families and, maybe owning a little piece of this great land. Simple. Sweet. And yet, we now, very much, take those things for granted. If we go back 50 years in U.S. history, the American dream had evolved a bit. It meant, having a job with a retirement plan, health benefits, a family, a little extra money for a family vacation, a family car perhaps, and of course, the house with the white picket fence. Still sweet. Maybe sweeter. But not extravagant. It seems that people still had the right perspective about what counted--what really mattered.

Today, our world is much different. People are no longer satisfied with just a good job they can feed the family with. Today's bills aren't just those of the house and the utilities. Now, the bills which roll into one's household are likely those of the mortgage, perhaps a second or third mortgage. They are often those of a couple of cars--but not just any cars. Today's American dream requires the best cars---say a $40,000 SUV. And, it cannot just have tires and wheels; it needs to have the most expensive tires mounted on "20s" or "22s." And it needs to be more than just transportation. It needs to be an entertainment center on wheels, including TVs, DVD players and video gaming systems. And the bills arrive from the credit card company or, more likely, companies. People max out their debt like it's going out of style. Why pay today for the things you can get with the swipe of a piece of plastic? Rather pay cash for things they can afford, people put everything on a credit card that they'll end up paying up to 22 or 24% interest on with monthly payments. And, what about the house with the white picket fence? Please. May as well live in a shanty. Instead, a family of 5 often gets into a house of 5000 sq. ft. or more. Your home needs to have a bathroom for each bedroom. It needs to have a home theater room. It needs to be built as far upon the hill as possible. Most important, it certainly needs to be bigger than those of its neighbors. Moderation in all things, right? Wrong. What in the hell is moderation?

I'm certainly not saying that making a lot of money is inherently a bad thing. It isn't. But what are people focused on? Simple happiness and good, enriching relationships with their families? Being good people? Or is the concern turned upon making more, spending more than you have, and looking better than "the Jones'?"

Really, what happened? Well, I think part of the problem is that we've been trained in our society to make more, get more, have more. Attain, attain, attain. Let materialism be your religion. Let riches be your god. This brings me to another topic; What is the point to it all? Partisan politics aside, why is it so important for the U.S. to remain the world superpower? Why is it so important for us to find more oil, make more money, have a bigger military, develop more technology than anyone else in the world? Before you start thinking about what you learned in your government class, know that I ask this somewhat rhetorically. Because, I don't think it should be important to maintain that list. Did God even intend for there to be countries and all of these global divisions among humanity? Does God care if the United States or, any other country for that matter, is a superpower? Now, to get a little bit political, how many government policies are aimed, not for peace and world betterment but, to make America more powerful, more wealthy?

In the eternal scheme of things, what does ANY of that matter? I think it's important to ask ourselves, as a nation, whether or not the end justifies the means. Because, America didn't rise to world domination by always being kind, being honest, having integrity, or always "doing God's will." Rather, while America certainly has produced some very worthy and great things, it's history is still ridden with slavery, massacres, exploitation, stealing, oppression, and deceit. Does our place in the world today justify our wrongdoings from the past? Will God say to American leadership, "That's OK. You did all of those bad things so you could be 'the greatest nation in the world?'"

Now, I readily admit that I'm fortunate to live in a place of freedom and opportunity. I am thankful for my life and experience here. But have you ever noticed that, there are people, here and elsewhere in the world, who have next to no material possessions, but are every bit as happy as the family of 5 in the house on the hill? In fact, the family with very little has much less to worry about. And so, more of their time is focussed on their loved ones and those few things that are most important. They are perfectly satisfied with their simpler life experiences. Will they still be able to inherit one of God's many mansions? I believe they absolutely will.

I guess I believe in simplifying our lives. I believe that it's more important to use our talents and resources to take care of each other and show our love rather than for making ourselves or our nations more powerful. Next time you vote, when you look at all of the issues talked about by the candidates, ask yourself if any of these policies and aspirations really matter. And if you find some that do, which candidate best represents those important interests. And next time you hear Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh making a mockery of someone's community organizing or talking about taxes as though they were evil or talking about a health care system which is accessible to EVERYONE as though it was the spawn of Satan, call him and ask him, "Why are those things bad?" Is it the money? Is it the contrast to EXTREME, deregulated capitalism? Because what does that matter? And, since Sean says he loves Utahns so much, maybe read Alma 1:30 to him:
And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having NO respect to persons as to those who stood in need.

So, simplify your lives, love you fellowman, love God's creations, share what you can, help where you can help, find joy in your families and the simple but important things, and be happy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

And it all comes crashing down...

Stress. I have it. I think I have a lot of it lately. If it were possible, I would probably have a disease called stressitis. What's the cure for it though? I'm usually pretty good at dealing with it; I cuss like a sailor, I work out, I get some fresh air outside, I watch a funny show. But this is ridiculous.

First of all, the stock market is taking a tumble. Some people speculate that it will continue to tumble until it hits rock bottom. Yikes. Others say, it's going to be OK. We're sliding backward, economically, but we'll bounce back. Our inept commander in chief, Pres. Bush, held a press conference yesterday and said he shares our concern about the economy and he's looking into it. That's it? That's all you got, Dubya? How about telling us why you fought so hard for deregulation. Tell us how that worked out. And for crying out loud, tell us what you're going to do about it. Give us some confidence. Should we "go shopping" like you advised us to do immediately after 9/11? Or should we hold onto our pennies? Should we pull all of our money from the stock market? Or should we leave it in if we can and hope it come back up eventually? Worst president in American history? Well, pretty close at least.

While I was working yesterday, my wife sent me a message that my mom had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance because her neighbors found her passed out on her porch. I took a deep breath and thought, "What will it be next?" I went to the hospital. They really didn't treat her with much. Everything was pretty much fine. One of those mysteries, you know. Then, after they released her, my mom and I got into this huge fight outside the hospital. I was mad about the last 20 years or so and I said a bunch of things that I now wish I hadn't. (By the way, unless you REALLY know about all of this, you might be thinking, "Wow, what an ass!" But if you DO really know me and about all of this, you'll probably understand a little more. Still, I wish I hadn't have blown up like that. I let my frustrations with that situation get the best of me. What do I do now though? One thing I know for sure is, you never ever want to give up on, or abandon, your relationship with your parents. And you hope they feel the same way toward you. Sigh.

When I finally got home last night, Brynn had found our dog Jake to be sick. We always know when he's sick because his personality is predictable. When it's off, we know he isn't feeling good. Nothing much I could do about it last night. I took him to the vet this morning. He hasn't eaten for a day, though he's drinking a lot of water. The vet's thermometer wasn't working out for us so we didn't get a temperature. His nose is wet like normal and the coloring on his gums is the same. (If you're lost at this point, get a dog. You'll figure it out). Well, Jake is acting better this morning. A little perkier. But he's still not eating. The vet seemed to think he must have eaten some bad food. Could be. But one thing worries me more. The freaking neighbor girls from across our back fence have thrown 3 or 4 of their rubber beach-type balls into our yard and the dogs have shredded them. (I'd expect no less). But now I'm worried that Jake may have a piece of rubber stuck somewhere along his digestive tract. I called the vet back with this additional information and he doesn't think I should worry about the beach balls. Well, that dog is a HUGE part of me. And when he's sick, I worry myself sick. I hope he gets better and starts eating soon.

When I called to tell my work crew that I wouldn't make it up to the job this morning, I was told, "Take your time." Apparently, the builder is LOW on money. This project is a 17-plex of custom condos. They're going to be selling each unit for like $350,000-$400,000. For 2 bedrooms! Are you kidding me? Well, I guess they're not selling too great right now and they called my boss and told him to stop everything---that he should submit an invoice so they can pay him up to this point and that may be the end of it. The potential problem? We're already into it for $120,000---just for our finish carpentry. So, the market is horrible--even in Utah. What will become of all of us construction workers? I'd better change career paths sooner than later.

Well, thanks to blogging, my stress level has gone from a 10 to an 8.5.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Who can you trust?

With all of the talk, back and forth, among the presidential tickets, compounded with all of the spin put on it by the various media, it's pretty hard to know who you can trust. Be you republican or, be you democrat, do you really know if the politicians have your back?

We're pretty much used to two "teams" in the United States; republicans and democrats. They battle back and forth, disagreeing on nearly everything and standing together for almost nothing. In the 2004 presidential election, there were many issues to talk about, such as immigration policy, government spending, and of course, the Iraq War. All were issues of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, to cause more division between the teams, and to blind the voters, the election was turned into a choice about gay marriage and abortion. Oh brother! Those aren't issues! At least, they certainly weren't issues of any precedence when thousands of people were being killed in a war. Both "teams" were to blame.

I love to read history, particular U.S. history. Having read some great books, I've found that, number one, the democrats and republicans began as the same team. And two, that The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, in great part, to create and maintain divisions among Americans. Basically, they know that, if they can create divisions between us---economic class, race, sex---we'll take our eyes off the ball while they whip a strike by us. How about that Patriot Act? Strike one!

I don't think things in government are so different today. In fact, we don't seem to have come very far from the birth of our great nation. Not only do we have the rich at battle with the poor, the whites versus ethnic minorities, and males against females, we now have republicans versus democrats, so-called "conservatives" versus "liberals." I lived in California during my two year mission for the LDS Church. The political division wasn't that apparent. However, I've also lived in Utah, Montana, and Alaska---all very red states. In these states, if you aren't republican, you're a "leftist, tree-hugging, liberal, bleeding-heart, gay-loving hippie," as someone once called me. Are you kidding me? To be fair, in these same places, if you lean left, you consider most of the republicans to be far-right, ultra-religious rednecks. But are we really so different? On a side note, if you're a Mormon, may I suggest you read, "Why most Utahns are democrat but just don't know it?" I cannot think of the author right now. He's a bishop in the LDS church. Look it up.

The point I'm trying to make is, are we really polar opposites? Or are we just told that's what we are. And, are there really two teams? Or is it all a facade, to make us feel divided and like we have to choose one side over the other? Because the democrats and republicans have traded the same lobbies back and forth over time. And liberal and conservative are no longer accurate descriptions of the two main political parties. I've wondered to myself, "Maybe, in reality, there's not really two teams. Perhaps the legislators aren't really divided. Maybe it's all a big show and, instead of left versus right, it's really the lawmakers versus We The People." I'm starting to believe I'm right about this. I really don't believe there are sides, which is why I'll always register as an independent voter.

I hope people will really study the issues of right now: the war, the economy, the situations in the rest of the world, education, health care, etc...and I hope they'll really choose a candidate who shares their positions on the real issues, rather than choosing the candidate who has an "R" or a "D" next to their name on the ballot. We The People need to rise up, wake up and take the reins back in our own hands. Let's not fall for the trickery of these divisions. Let's not battle amongst ourselves, when we should all be focusing on how WE are going to make our country and the world better.

So, pick your battles, and pick a candidate, rather than a party. Who can you trust? Well, that's a conclusion we all must figure out. But, as a helping aide, I'll tell you to trust the person, not the "R" or the "D" by their name.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Religion: Good, bad, or neither?

Actually, I should post this one years from now, when I actually have more than 3 or 4 people looking at my blog. Because, I honestly want everyone who reads it to share their thoughts.

Growing up in Utah, was there really any chance I'd be raised anything but Mormon? Well, a very slight chance I suppose. But, I was, in fact, born and raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I suppose, before I go too far, that I want to say that I am grateful for how I was raised. I'm grateful, mostly, for how I've turned out and, I owe that in great part to being a Latter-Day Saint. The focus of this blog entry, however, is religion in general.

I have limited experience. I've never belonged to another religious organization so, I can't speak specifically about other people's religious experiences. Hopefully I'll not make an ass of myself if I do speak about another faith.

Here's a question: Why religion? Why do people believe? Why do people have faith--a belief or confidence in the unknown? (OK, perhaps I meant, "Here are some questions:"). What draws people to relgion? And then, what determines what religion people will be drawn to?

Throughout most of recorded history, it seems there has always been religion. But even going back as far as we can find, there have been multiple religions. To me, this means people have always disagreed on religion. And people have always moved on, from one place to another, to find what suits them best; some of the best evidence that PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT. For many, that bolded text is easy to say but tough to truly accept. (More on that later).

I once heard the saying, "Religion is Prozac for the masses." Hmmm....religion is a drug then? Well, that kind of a phrase might get you kicked out of a Mormon fast and testimony meeting. But I can see its point. People do use religion to make them feel calm. It's used to make them feel special. For many, religion is an escape from "the real world." So, yeah; I suppose religion is a bit like Prozac for the masses. I have an aunt who I think is a bit of a religious zealot. I'm sure her first reaction to reading this paragraph would be to gasp with horror. On the other hand, aren't all of those "drug-like" uses of religion good things? I mean, anything which can calm a person, make them feel like it's going to be OK, or make them feel loved, like they're special, is a pretty wonderful thing, especially if it isn't an actual drug. So, I can agree with that phrase.

Are there any other benefits to religion? Of course. Religion CAN BE a good, even great institution. For instance, Christians want to be good, or be better than they are, as a way of showing love and thanks to their deity, God/Jesus Christ. Religious organization is a great way for people to help other people. For instance, and this is definitely a Mormon thing, my sweet wife has been on bed rest for nearly a month. Now, we have rarely ever been big, sit-down-to dinner people. Instead, a sandwich here, a frozen burrito there always suffices. But for the last month, fairly regularly, various members of our local congregation (ward) bring us home-cooked dinners. What's especially amazing about this, my wife has been to church once since we moved here a year ago. (The church people are still waiting for me to show). Religion CAN keep us humble. Simply admitting that we didn't just suddenly appear in this life on our own--that there is a higher power/being out there somewhere who/that is in charge can keep our egos in check. These are just a few benefits that religion can offer.

By the way, I served a mission for 2 years for the LDS Church in Los Angeles, CA from June 1995 to June 1999. I'm sure I'll blog about it down the road. Suffice it to say that it was wonderful and I'll forever cherish that experience.

Most people don't think of religion as a bad thing, even if they're not particularly religious. But history, and the present state of some of the world show that it can, in fact, be a bad thing. Many have died for their own religion. As well, many have been killed, in the name of someone else's religion. (Remember when I said people have a difficult time truly accepting other people's differences?) Sadly, many Americans are presently taught that people of other faiths are "the enemy." Many, some in my own family, are deathly afraid that Barack Obama is a Muslim. There were rumors that he was sworn into the senate on a Koran, rather than The Holy Bible. Oh my! Are there some crazy people of the Islamic faith? Well, crazy is relative. But there certainly are some Islamists that will kill you in the name of Allah. By the way, if you still haven't found out, Barack Obama is a Christian. All better now? I'm not done.

It's very safe to say that more deaths, more slavery, more destruction, and more atrocity has been done in the name of the Christian Church than any other religion. Did that make you open your eyes really wide? If so, better find yourself some better history books to read. A good place to start would be the Spanish Inquisition. Another might be the long version of Columbus' story. Sailing the ocean blue in 1492 wasn't all that guy did. What about the Holocaust? 6 million people killed because they were Jewish instead of White Protestant. How about slavery? The southern states, and many Yankees alike, believed that God was behind them all the way when they enslaved, raped, and whipped their "hired help." So much so, that, in the name of the church, they forbade the practice of the slaves' native, traditional rituals for quite some time. Christianity was even forced on the American Indians. Their alternative to embracing the white man's ways was death. The enforcement of religion upon anyone, if it is against their will, is a bad thing. History has shown us that time and time again.

I don't like that people use religion as a way to justify maltreatment of others. I don't agree with my own church that California Mormons must use all their means to overturn a recent supreme court decision to legalize gay marriage. (If you're unfamiliar, look it up on the internet. Try and find a reliable source though). I don't like how some religions have and do elevate one race of people over another. And many have done it. In a way, the war in Iraq was religiously based. Saddam didn't think or believe as George W. Bush does and that got his country invaded and got him killed. Well, because of that and a little something called fossil fuels. (Don't get mad---I know Sadaam did some really, really horrible things too. He got what was coming to him. I just don't know that Bush was to be Saddam's moral judge). I don't like how different religious organizations assume they are God's chosen and the rest are off their rockers. Instead, how about accepting that "the other people" just moved along until they found what worked for them. It IS OK for people to be different. You can even be really close friends with someone who is "different."

Ramble, ramble, ramble. My brain is spinning and I cannot possibly organize my thoughts in a more coherent manner. Maybe I should take another writing class. Well, religion can be good or bad or neither. I think if you find a religion that makes you really, truly happy, then good on you. Or, if religion just isn't your thing, and you feel perfectly happy and content with that, good on you. My church doctrine says, "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may." I think that most Americans should believe that way, especially since America was founded on freedom from religious oppression. My philosophy: If it's not hurting anyone else, live and let live.

OK. I realize that, maybe, none of the above makes sense. I know I haven't said everything as well or as complete as I would want to. But, I'm not a good writer and it's late. Also, I really love discussing this topic. Finding out how people believe, and why is a huge curiosity. So, if you happen upon this blog, feel more than welcome to ask me questions or just to leave your thoughts.

Good night.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Am I getting old?

I'm freaking tired. I've been working too much and not getting enough sleep. I suppose the sleep part is mostly my fault. It's just that The Daily Show and Colbert Report are so damn funny during election season.

I'm working in Park City right now. We're finishing out a 17-plex of condos. They're fun to work on but the drive is so long---nearly 3 hours a day. Good thing I've got my CNG van so the fuel doesn't break my bank. For those of you who aren't familiar with finish carpentry, look around your house or the building you're currently in. See the doors? I hang those. See the base moldings? Fancy trim? Crown moldings? Window sills? Yeah, that's me. Have any guard rail or stair railing? I do that too. Oh, you know the shelving in your closets? Yup. That's my job. It's fun. I get to use a little creativity and some math. Construction isn't just for dumb people or drug addicts. However, I don't think it's a permanent place for me; I don't feel like it's my niche.

My current plan is to get back over to UVU and finish my degree in a year. (B.S. in Bio-chemistry). After that, I'll try to complete P.A. school and then I'll go work for one or some doctors.

I'll bet you're all wondering what I thought of McCain's acceptance speech. Well, to be honest, I only caught about the last 6 or 7 minutes---you know where he was sort of yelling like a preacher. Actually, I thought it was good at that point. The message of, "If you don't like what's going on in the country, do something about it," totally resonates with me. Problem is, for me, McCain and Palin aren't believable as sincere reformers. I'm also sick to death of their personal attacks and jabs at the other side of the race. For some reason, I find Obama's intentions to be purer and truer. So, he's got my vote and I've got his bumper sticker.

Well, short and sweet tonight. I've got to get some sleep. If I can drift off in under an hour, I'll miss John Stewart and Stephen Colbert and end up with an extra hour of sleep tonight. Will I do it? Well, I can only give it 1:1 odds for now.

Good night.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Maverick? Reformer? Huh?

OK, I hope this will be short and to the point. I must admit that, due to work obligations, I missed all but 30 seconds of Gov. Sarah Palin's speech. You can bet, though, that I will watch it eventually. However, I didn't need to see it to know that I don't support her policies.

The following are reasons why I won't be supporting a presidential ticket with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on it:

1) She doesn't believe that humans are even the slightest cause of global warming, nor are they capable of slowing it down or speeding it up.

2) She is no friend of wildlife, only to wildlife killers.
A. When, to my amazement, President Bush listed Polar Bears as endangered, Palin tried to sue the federal government to have them immediately delisted, so as not to impose on the oil companies drilling and exploration activities.
B. She not only continued Frank Murkowsk's aerial wolf killing program in Alaska, she expanded it. Yes, in Alaska, not only are you allowed to fly over and run wolves to exhaustion before capping their asses, you're encouraged with Palin's $250 bounty for the left foreleg of a wolf. Also, as part of this "management policy," wildlife officials also pull the cubs from their dens and "humanely" bust a cap in their asses.
C. Same, same for grizzly and brown bears.
D. She approved $400,000, coupled with even more money from special interests, such as Safari International, to run fallacious ads on Alaska TV promoting aerial wolf-killing.
E. She says she's for smaller government? She has made it so that the public cannot get initiatives put on the voting ballots. As well, she's changed the rules regarding wildlife management, so that no longer does the board of game have to get public opinion on their policies. No longer do they have to consult state biologists and base their policies on real science and statistics. They don't even have to consult the Department of Fish and Game. Instead, the Board of Game, mostly hunters and hunting guides who make their money off of rich, out-of-state hunters, get to decide what the policies are.

3) She is very, extremely opposed to a woman's right to choose. (While I consider myself pro-life, I vote pro-choice; Who am I, a man, to decide what a woman can or cannot do with her body?) She's totally against abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest.

4) A great irony to Palin's and many social conservatives' ideology is, while they're super anti-abortion, they're also opposed to teaching about the realities of what causes pregnancy in schools.

5) She wants creationism to be taught in public schools. While I'm OK with a science teacher saying, "By the way, there are also people who believe that it was all created by a deity," I think any further religious discussion ought to be kept in the churches. We shouldn't be using the public tax monies to promote any particular religious beliefs.

6) She misrepresented (lied) the whole story of the "Bridge to Nowhere." She's been bragging about how she turned this earmark down. "I told Washington, 'Thanks, but no thanks,'." The truth is, she only stopped the project because congress wouldn't give Alaska the rest of what this project cost to complete. Did she then give the pork barrel money back? No, she kept it to use it on other things.

Governor Palin is a mostly nice lady. She's pretty like everyone says. (I'm sure she keeps McCain heart ticking rapidly.) She's charismatic and charming. She's a popular governor. But a reformer she is not. A maverick? I don't think so. Gonna change Washington with McCain? Not a chance.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Why is everyone so mean?

For years I've wondered how the world seems to progressively get worse instead of better. We have all of history to learn from. We have the ultimate technologies. We have a seemingly endless supply of knowledge. For crying in the night, why is it, then, that we seem to move backward, instead of forward?

Don't get me wrong; I don't consider myself a pessimist, though I can be less than optimistic at times. Of course, I see the progress in politics; that of a Black man running for president of the "most powerful nation in the world." It's a sure sign of betterment that a we have the first woman on a republican presidential ticket. (Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman on a democratic ticket). So, there is hope. We show signs of wanting a better world. But even after we show these great signs of good times ahead, we begin to fail miserably. What's going to happen if Barack wins? Will Washington embrace him? Will there be excitement over such progress? Or, will the republicans whine, finger-point, and make sure nothing good gets done? What if Palin and McCain are elected? Will Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid give her their support, at least where they can agree? Or will the democrats whine and hiss and continue the politics of stubbornness and greed?

I watched most of the Republican National Convention this evening. People like Fred Thompson, President Bush, and even Joe Leiberman did well in making the case for McCain, based on his outstanding character as an American hero and patriot. I began to remember my respect for McCain as U.S. senator. But, neatly laced into all of their love speech for McCain was hate speech for the other party and Barack Obama. And the republican crowd would go wild with enthusiasm at these jabs. Why? What's exciting about hating someone? Why do we justify hate, based on difference? (While I'm a registered independent voter, I often fall left of center. Forgive my bias). Also, I am fully aware that both sides are guilty to some degree. But mostly the republicans. Just kidding. But really, mostly them.

In my own life, I've experienced hate and its effects. I'm 32 1/2, I've been married twice and I've dated my share of girls. (No, I'm not bragging--I'm getting to the point). Looking back at the girls I've dated since I was 21, (after my 2 year mission for the Mormon Church) I cannot think of a single one of them who didn't have some sort of baggage or issue because of some asshole guy doing something or plain, just treating them badly. I can think of a handful of them who were led on. (I'm guilty of this one--not proud of it either). I can think of many of them who experienced abuse of one form or another. And, I can tell you that the statistics of 1 in 4 girls being sexually assaulted is probably a very conservative statistic. What the hell? What makes me furious is that most of the guys never even hear from the cops because the girls don't tell. But, that's another entry for another day.

How about the blissful state of marriage? Wonderful right? (Well, at least the second time around for me). But I can also think of numerous couples who have been together for decades and, while you have to credit their endurance, I have to question why they're together. Any of you know older couples who stick together but seem to hate each other's guts? When did they stop trying? When did they decide to stop saying, "I love you?" When did they decide they were done holding hands? When did a few of them decide flirting wasn't cheating? When did some of them decide that cheating would be OK if they didn't get caught? (John Edwards tsk, tsk, tsk)

Do you ever notice, as you go about your day, how many passers by don't return your glance? Do you ever notice a lot of people shop for groceries with their heads down? Ever notice a cashier that doesn't make eye contact with you, let alone throw you a, "Have a nice day?" Isn't that sad?

A few years ago I began thinking of starting a "being friendly movement." It'd be really easy, and it probably wouldn't take that much time to make its way throughout my community, and then throughout the state, then the country, eventually the world. Perhaps those of you who read this blog will help me get it started. (Come on; You'll be popular!) OK, it's real simple. All you have to do is smile at the people you pass, whether you know them or not. Also, whenever there's time in your passing, (5 to 7 seconds) shoot someone a, "Hey, how are you?" (Or whatever form of salutation you prefer). Mean it though. Actually wait for their response. It'll become natural sooner than you think. For some this may feel awkward at first. And I guarantee, having tried it, that some of those you greet and smile at will feel awkward. That's only because they're used to a colder world. But I say, "Warm it up Kris!" OK, that's what the teen duet Kris Kross said like 20 years ago. Sue me. Seriously though, I really believe happiness, warmth and compassion is what the world is missing. It's at the root of the world's problems. If people would care more about each other, have a little more empathy, take a little more interest in other people's ups and downs, wouldn't we have a better world? Would we have invaded Iraq? I mean, what if we tried to understand, first of all, that differences are OK, and, secondly, that respectfully talking things out can also be fruitful? (Who knows if it would've worked? I'm glad not to be in charge of those decisions).

As you can see, I am a horrible writer. I admit that I don't organize my thoughts well. My point is, I know we could treat each other better. I actually have the nerve to think that "The Golden Rule" absolutely works. I actually, truly believe that our world would not be in its current state of disarray and distrust if we were just plain nicer to each other. We're screwing with each other's hearts and minds. We shouldn't do that. Stop being mean. Stop focusing on differences or weaknesses. Instead, embrace strengths and commonalities. Smile. But don't just smile; Mean it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

I decided to blog. Everyone's doing it.

Well, I really like the blogs of my friends and my wife so I decided to join. This may be more like a diary for me--just a healthy way to talk/comment/question/blog about my day. And I have so many thoughts in my head, it'd be good to put it all out in written form.

To briefly describe my current life, I am a 32 year old married guy. I live in Utah. It's not that bad. But one day we will move on to bigger and better places, literally. We're expecting our first child around Halloween and I'm scared to death about it. I'm sure I'll be blogging more about that. My wife's name is Brynn, so you'll know who I'm talking about when I talk about her. She's wonderful. That's all I'll say about her for now.

It's bedtime. Hope you'll be visiting often. Until then, good night.