Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I have a Mustache

"I will never grow a mustache."
-Me, just about every time I've seen a mustache on somebody my age.

Yet I am here now, writing a post about how I have a mustache. Does this make me a liar, or is this quote lacking context? I'm not a great fiction writer, so I'm hoping you don't think I've just been writing lies or have an inconsistent character, especially considering how heartfelt and sincere most of my posts are. Give me a chance to explain what I meant when I said the quote I opened with.

The full context of my quote up there goes something like "I will never grow a mustache. They look terrible for at least weeks while the attempt is happening, and all too often the result looks like a teenager proud of his first peach fuzz on his lip. If I wanted a mustache, I would have to simply not shave at all for a month and then shave down to a mustache." With all of the context, would I be a self-contradicting liar, or somebody that doesn't mind a facial-hair growing experience (with certain constraints)?

All too often the process of quoting somebody isn't done with pure intent. If I wanted to malign somebody that made a complex statement, I could take a portion of a statement that in context is a complete and rational thought and use it exclusively. If I then add some incorrect context, I could make the quote seem anywhere from foolish to downright evil. I am a mild mannered man, but I have to admit that this is a possibility in society and that I should be cautious of quotes or descriptions of somebody/something that comes from a potentially biased source.

So what is the point of this post? First, to announce a change of appearance to the people I haven't seen in a while that follow me here; my mustache has been around for months and isn't going anywhere fast. Second, to ask cynical naysayers to give things a chance. Something dear to my heart, which I've talked about extensively in previous posts and is the entire reason for this blog, is my religion. It sometimes gets flak for being what it is, but too often it is also criticized for untrue and unsubstantiated claims. If you have been turned away because of what you have heard from non-Mormon sources, don't be that person that believes the first bad thing said about somebody else. Ask a Mormon a question with the intent to learn.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Stay a while, and listen...

Stories make great blog posts. They are a chance to enter somebody's life for a short while and live an event, no matter how brief. So here is a story, nothing more than that. Except the news part, because this really happened today and it was exciting.

Brooms. Not my favorite.
I have been looking for a job so that I can have more financial security and know that I won't be a simple drain on my parent's finances. In the search I've had various twists and turns, including applying for a job without realizing I wouldn't be in the state for another two months and having one interview over the phone. My aim was to land a job in the computer division (it pays better, I like pushing mice better than pushing brooms, and it fits my resume better), but the interviews I got didn't pan out and anything is better than nothing and I was looking seriously at some janitorial positions when I got the call from the continuing education department about an application I sent in for a computer specialist.

"When can we set up an interview?"
"I'm available almost anytime, right now even if you were interested."
"Well, the interview is two parts but I think that should work for one of them."
"Great! I'll be there in 15 minutes."

I was already on campus for some summer classes, so I walked to where he was working and had a simple interview. He explained a few things about the position and asked me a few questions, along the lines of what things I can do. I confidently told him what I was able to do, we chatted a little bit, and he said he'd call me later about the second part of the interview.

I left excited, but a little worried I'd come off too confident or eager for the position. Evening came and went without a call, and since he had hinted at wanting to hire before too much longer I was planning on calling him sometime mid-morning or midday, but then I got a call around 10 in the morning asking me to come in around 12:30. Of course I accepted! I went home, made sure I was presentable and ready to go, ate lunch, and went to the meeting. My first time in a cubicle farm, I made my way to the back of the long room, had a brief chat with the interviewer's boss, then I was brought back to the interviewer's room and told to pull up my schedule on the computer. Simple enough. But this is where the fun began!

The computer was off, so I double checked the light and hit the power button. Nothing. Double check again, and then I check behind the computer. Hmm, the power cord isn't in. I turn to the other person in the office and ask, "Is this supposed to be unplugged?" 

"Hmm, nope, I guess you can plug it in." In goes the plug, and back to the power button. Easy, right? Except instead of showing anything on the screen, I get nothing and a clicking noise. Suspecting nothing, I turn to the interviewer and tell him something is wrong with the computer, and suddenly I understand.

"That's fine, we've got some spare parts if you need them."

This simple project of pulling up my schedule was a test to see if I could find and overcome some common, planted errors that will disrupt a work sequence. They already had the schedule I gave them when I applied, I was just getting a chance to prove the skills I said I had.

Not Actual Photo
So open up the case, look inside, and I immediately see a cable hanging unplugged. Plug that in, think I'm done, but then consider to look a bit more. Lo, there is a hard drive cable and power cord! 'Tis not proper for such to be laying about! So I located the hard drive, and after 5 minutes of trying to get access to it I got it out, plugged it in, and replaced it. Knowing there was more to check for, I looked through the case another time and saw that the RAM wasn't locked in, just placed in their slots. Alright, that was everything inside the case. I power it up, and happy there weren't any angry noises I was confronted with a screen without any input. So I check the connections of the video card and the cable, and was certainly relieved when it worked.

Then came a pause. I wasn't supposed to know it yet, but there was a network problem that prevented my supervisor from logging in with his credentials so he needed to find out what the local admin account was. Eventually that was sorted out, and welcomed by the windows screen I breathed a sigh of relief, opened up Chrome, and typed in my schools website.

Only I didn't type in my website. I typed in gibberish letters, every key leading to the wrong character. Anybody that has fallen pray to the second part of prank #7 will know what that means. While I didn't know immediately what to do, I found it and resumed my quest for my schedule. Only this time when I tried to go to the website, I got nothing but a "couldn't load page" error.

This was the low point of this test. I tried everything I could think of. Checking cables. Restarting the switch. Restarting the driver. ipconfig, ping, and IP addresses. From my research, I could tell I was connected to the network (I managed to bring up a connected printer by it's IP) so the switch and the connections were working, but I couldn't do it. After 15, 20 minutes (maybe it was less and I was just stressed) of flailing, I gave up and asked for help. After a grudging "I give up," he did a few tests, went into the settings for the device, and turned of the static, custom IP, which should only be used for certain reasons because otherwise it will do just what it was doing for me. After a mental "Duh, of course! I've even fixed this before for myself!" I got control back, once again ready to capture that elusive schedule!

Guess what? It didn't work. I mean, the network was working and I could get to the Internet, but upon trying to access the secure website we got a screen that was a lovely shade of red with a warning of an out of date security certificate. Fortunately, this was a quick fix that I have also had to do for a personal fix. A quick glance confirmed my suspicions, it was currently October 1st, 2016. Glad for the simplicity, I changed the clock and continued on my merry way, with my supervisor at my shoulder saying "And now we get to the hardest part." Expecting something, maybe a trap door with fire breathing crocodiles to open up or something, I got to the schedule to hear "That's a good looking schedule. Would you like to work for us?"
Yep, I just used a meme to express myself.

Everything after that can be summarized with "And then I did the paperwork part of getting hired." A process
I'm still going through, but I should be working before too long. In a word, "Yes."

For bonus points, read the title to this post again after you listen to this clip.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Followup, an End of Two Years and a Start of Some More

Nearly two and a half months ago, on the evening of May 24th, I once again was in Maryland. After two years serving in Montana for the Lord, I was done. And now I write something about it.

So what will become of this blog? I will continue to write, and post, and whatever I desire. If you are a stranger, stay a while and listen if you care but I do not write for you. If you are family or friend, you can likely learn what you're curious, but I guess I'm not really writing for you, either. I'll continue writing because I want to. I want to have a place to write my thoughts, and if I'm writing for a "public" audience than I'll be writing with more thought than if I were to solely keep a journal. So here I am, sending my voice into the Internet, one more blog talking into it.

Also, since I am not a full-time missionary and now the things I write, post, say, etc. are solely representing me, I will link things and quote people I didn't before.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Analysis of Awesome

Something I've said quite often in the past is that something is awesome. It can be in a variety of contexts, used to describe a person, an object, or an event. For me, it has some special meaning that takes it beyond the simple "throwaway" compliment it can become in some vocabularies. There was one point in my life that I really remember defining in my mind what it has come to mean to me.

The chore we were discussing was the dishes
One afternoon, my younger sister and I were talking. We have two more younger siblings, and since she was older and more responsible than they she was asked to do yet another chore (or so it felt to her). As we are all want to do at times, she complained a little at this extra duty and I happened to overhear her. I remembered times in my childhood that I was in the very same situation, given more chores because I was able, willing, and responsible enough to do them. I then said something like this: "[Sister,] you are awesome. Now I know that that word comes off as a kind of meaningless word, but I really mean it. You are doing the work that another is not. You are doing the hard thing. You are not shirking, and so you have been asked to do more. This extra work is not something demeaning, it is not an insult. It one of the truest compliments you can receive. You are being told that you are awesome every time you are asked to do more. So stand up tall, square your shoulders, and think not of the drudgery that is before you. Think of the awesome that is in you."

Awesome doesn't just mean "cool" or "neat." Awesome is the description of inspiring awe, being a better you, and surpassing the normal standards of the world around us. It should be our ultimate goal. In the end, this is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is about. Not restricting us, not punishing us for our misdeeds, and not whitewashing all of us to be the same shade. The gospel is about making us awesome with the help of Christ. We are given commandments to let us know what to avoid and what will help us. We can learn about why there are consequences for our actions, using the momentary pain of a mistake and acting to be better because of it. I testify of the power of change, of the love our Savior has for each of us, and how that means that we can be awesome. Be motivated, think of the potential that is in you, and don't back down!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Imperial March

Dun dun dun Dun dudun, Dun dudun!
You are watching a classic sci-fi film, and suddenly a familiar series of notes come on. You know what these notes mean; they are the sounds that accompany the main villain, the bad guy that sends shivers up your spine, the driving force of evil in the film. You can't do anything about it; you are a simple viewer, without impact to the way the story plays out. After all, the film has been filmed, the end was several decades ago, and you are there to enjoy events as they pass before your eyes.

Obviously, a movie is not what our life is like. We have the option of action, we are the self-controlled agents of our lives, and the end is yet to be seen. Also, we don't hear ominous motifs whenever something significant happens. Or do we? Is there something that can warn us of trouble, encourage us towards good, and change the mood of the scene? Have I led you in the right directions with questions yet?

There is definitely something (or rather someone) sent to help us in life. Our Father in Heaven loves us, and wouldn't want us to struggle blindly, so the Comforter has been sent to guide us. When he wants us to know that something is good we will be able to feel of the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23, just as when the movie wants you to recognize the good guys. Likewise, the lack of these fruits or the presence of their opposites such as hate, misery, or confusion can warn us of bad situations just as the Imperial March warns us of the presence of Darth Vader. This concept is what Moroni asks us to listen to in Moroni 10:3-5, not just the words of well meaning yet human missionaries (like myself). Try it out!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Free Agency and Being Free as a Kite

Something that's a big deal is the perceived surrender of will that comes with being Mormon. This is because we have commandments, sometimes referred to as "all your little rules." It is true, we have a high standard that we strive to follow. We really do try to follow all the commandments mentioned in the previous link. Because some of these "rules" are contrary to what some people enjoy, feel strongly about, or simply habits, it seems as if we are restricting our freedom by following them.

If you are perceptive, you've noticed that I haven't agreed with the criticisms about curtailed freedom. I know full well that I have free agency (the ability to make choices); it is part of the plan that God has for us. I know that the lack of rules feels like freedom, but true freedom is having the rules, learning the consequences of the choices, and then making the choice. What seems like a little known secret is that it's not the Church that makes us follow the rules; it is, at the very core, ourselves that choose to follow the rules. So why would so many people give up things that are "fun" or "exciting?" I like to think about how kites work.

A kite is a heavier than air object, and the combination of wind flowing around it and a tether providing a counter force causes enough lift to cause a kite to fly. Every kite has a string attached, and so can only fly so high. Eventually every kite reaches its max height, restricted and blocked from further soaring because its string is held down. A concerned onlooker may see this, and feeling sorry for the kite desire that the string be broken, the kite freed to travel to whatever heights it can reach on its own. We'll say the onlooker's desire is met, and so the kite is freed. Does it fly to greater heights, no longer restricted? No, the removal of the tether instead causes the kite to flutter around a bit and quite quickly tumble to the earth.

Rules are similar tethers in our life; abiding by the rules restricts us from certain activities, and the idea of just being free from the things that bind us earthward is so appealing. However, the rules also guide us, allow us to react to winds of change with confidence and strength, and in the end a kite with a string will always fly higher and longer than a kite without. I know that you have your agency and you can choose for yourself what to do, but I know that I've felt so much more empowered, so much more successful, and so much more happy when I know that I am following the commandments. Don't be afraid to change simply because it feels like you are tying a string to your kite; it could be the string that lets you soar.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

An Answer to Every Question

I was reading in last December's Ensign and I found an article that I thought was interesting. The title is what caught my attention, An Answer for Every "What If".  It appealed to my desire for some universal statement that can cover all sorts of situations, and it certainly started to. The author uses the Atonement to answer questions about "what if [something bad] happened?" The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the most amazing and powerful event that has ever happened on this planet, and it covers every injustice and injury possible. The Atonement can, if you let it, answer every "why me?" or "what if...?" question bringing you down.

He will fix all injustices and uncertainties

However, there are also other questions we might have. We might not understand the "Why...?" or the "How...?" or any number of things. This is a fine place to be! Having a question is part of the process of gaining knowledge. If we have a question, asking an authority will get us the answer. For instance, if we want to know the amount $100 from today would be equivalent in 1801 we could ask a data-bank instead of asking a stranger or somebody not trained to know the answer. Questions are best answered from a trustworthy source. However, all human based information has the potential for error. Representatives might be biased towards their company, any human can make a mistake, and even data-banks could have erroneous information. I sometimes wonder, where can we go to find a trustworthy source?

This is something that I, as a stranger (or even if you actually know me) on the other side of the Internet, cannot answer definitively for you. You are currently reading the words of a representative of my church, and I said earlier that representatives might be biased. This is why I put so much emphasis on reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know if it's true. While I cannot give you perfect knowledge, the Holy Ghost can and will. Moroni teaches this very principle; in Moroni 10:3-5 he exhorts everybody to ask to receive knowledge (I talked about these scriptures in a series of posts a while back). I especially like the shortest of those three verses: "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." If there is anybody you can trust, it is God, who speaks through the Holy Ghost. He is the most trustworthy source of information possible, and if you sincerely desire, also the most available source. So, give it a try! What is there to lose (besides some time)? Or, more importantly, what is there to gain (measureless joy in this life and the next)?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...