Patience is a Killer

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I have this issue where I know something greater is going to happen to/for me but I don’t know when or what. I’m doing all I can and I’m fulfilling all my requirements the best I can but still, I wait. I have a few ideas of how things might turn out and I make myself all crazy trying to guess which way things are going to go. The truth is that I’m scared for one of the possible outcomes, I hope for another and all the while I know nothing at this point is up to me. As I mentioned in my last post the atonement is amazing and it solves all problems, if you let it.

In all the important decisions in our lives, what is most important is to do the right thing. Second, and only slightly behind the first, is to do the right thing at the right time. – Dallin H. Oaks.

That’s what brings me here, what’s all this about the Lords timing? I guess I can’t rush the universe to do my bidding can I? Even if I could it wouldn’t turn out to be what I wanted. What I do know is there is always a larger plan and I don’t get to know the details and that makes life interesting. So really all I can do is sit back and wait to see what happens. What does sitting back and waiting cause? Anxiety and fear and a whole lot of stress but there is a way to help and that is simply giving up the idea that I have any control in the situation and stop worrying about trying to insert my own will. All that can be done is stand back and watch what happens. In the mean time I’ll focus on what I need to be doing for myself.

There have been a few moments in the past weeks where I’ve felt completely alone. Even as friends were talking to me and hanging out with me I was alone. I know I was supposed to feel that because it’s all part of the plan and I know that I’ve never actually been alone, ever. Even when nobody is around I’m not alone, I have a big brother watching out for me. Sometimes you just need to feel what life is like without Him there though, or perhaps you have to realize that He’s carrying you. Whatever is happening, patience is difficult to master. I have a long way to go too.

In conclusion, I don’t have a point. I’m just saying that patience isn’t any fun, but I know the result is worth waiting for because when you force things to happen against the greater plan it never works out for the best, but sit back and let God do His thing and that’s when the real magic happens.

What the Atonement Means to Me

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I guess you can call me naive but I always looked at the Atonement as a way to resolve problems that I’ve brought on myself. Like if I make a mistake, get in a fight, steal something, lie, etc (not that I do any is those things) the Atonement is there to assist me in making restitution for those things. I can apologize for lying to someone but that doesn’t clear the debt to God. That’s what the Atonement does, right? That has been my understanding of it up until a few months ago.

Recently I fell into a situation where I felt as if I had been attacked. It hurt me and knocked me back. In that situation I didn’t know how to handle it. Everywhere I went I walked around bugged about it (I’m not telling you what it was) and then one day I talked with my friend Derek and he asked me if I had tried relying on the Atonement, to which I was confused. I hadn’t done anything against God’s will to be in this situation. Why would I need the Atonement to get me out of it?

I asked Derek what he meant and his response simply “do you think the Atonement is limited to repentance?”  to which I cautiously replied “Yes?”. This is when I learned exactly what I needed to learn at that very moment. Derek explained that the atonement is the great equalizer. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is there to make bad things good again, if we let it.

Letting the atonement do the work is the tricky part. What I was doing previously was similar to what I see in my kids. Occasionally my kids will argue. They usually come to me when they fight and then I ask them to explain the situation. However, sometimes, when Aubrey does something Mackenzie doesn’t like, Mackenzie will tell on Aubrey so I’ll start investigating and right then Mackenzie will hit Aubrey, which ruins everything I’m trying to accomplish. This was also my approach to fix my own situation. I was taking my own actions to fix the situation rather than relying on the atonement to solve the issue for me. (stop focusing on my parenting skills, that’s not what we’re talking about!)

So often we (I) think there’s something we can do to fix a situation we’re in. I went through stages thinking that I just had to do one thing more and everything would come back together the way I wanted it to. I hadn’t consider that the Lord has a say in my plans. It was after listening to Derek I finally understood that I didn’t need to fix the situation, I needed to fix me. I needed to make the things in my life right that were out of line, I needed to focus on only me. It may be selfish but you can’t be good for anyone else when you’re broken.

I did just what my friend recommended and in doing so my pieces fell back in place. I ignored the thoughts that I came up with to fix the situation and put my efforts into my kids, my work, my friends, etc. Over time I figured out that I’m not a bad person and that not everyone will like everything about me. I also came to the realization that it’s my place to do what I know to be right no matter what consequences it brings to me. I know, those of you who have actually read this far are shaking your head at me right now. I’m horrible, I know! I just figured this out. I’m just saying that the secret to happiness and smiling is to actually rely on God. In hard times focus on yourself and make sure you’re the person that you’re supposed to be. Be patient! God’s timing is everything. Rushing a situation only makes the results rushed.

Stop Paying Less

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So, I took a two year sabbatical and it turns out I’m just as opinionated as I was 2 years ago. I was thinking about how much I despise WalMart the other day and I’ve determined (without any evidence or facts to back up my claim) that it’s the WalMart mentality of paying lower prices every day that is one of the huge issues with the WORLD!. There’s an article I read a few years ago that talks about pickles and WalMart. I can’t remember where I found the article that I originally read but I found THIS ARTICLE which is then backed up by THIS ARTICLE that references the same thing. Basically, the article talks about how the quest for finding the lowest prices is what causes jobs to leave the country. Did you know that since 2001 the United States has lost over 42,000 factories? I read it online so I’m assuming there’s some truth to it.

Enough with pseudo facts and partial evidence, the point of this post is my curiosity concerning our drive to pay the lowest prices possible and if doing so is what causes constant state of the nation to decline. Wouldn’t it help everyone out if we just spent a little bit more for the stuff we bought in order to keep the factories open? Who needs a years supply of pickles anyway? If you’re buying those pickles, would you really care if you paid $3.00 vs $7.00? They’ll last you a YEAR! Lets just not focus on paying the lowest price and instead focus on paying what the value of the product is. Maybe if everything is fair for everyone, things can work out a bit better. Besides, I’ll bet there is a direct correlation between WalMarts success and the national deficit.

This might be the dumbest thing I’ve written on yet. It’s been 2 years OK? I’ll try to come up with something better with my next article. I’m thinking of writing about how awesome the atonement is.

I Like What You Like Because That’s What We’re All Told To Like

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I was staring at all the garbage that the kids got for Christmas a few weeks ago and I started thinking about today’s topic. I’m referring to what we (people) like and why we like it. Do my girls like princess stuff because she has a genetic disposition to like princess stuff or is it from environmental conditioning? I have a basement full of trash toys that rarely get used. In fact, the only time they do get used is simply for the sake of the kids dumping the toys out of the storage containers and then they play in the containers. My point is this: Everything is garbage.

I have a nice phone, at least I think it’s nice and I enjoy its convenience but where would we be if it was never invented? Is the cell phone a stepping stone in our evolution? I can’t help but feel that in another 20 years the cell phone will have been replaced and when it is, what will it be replaced with? Could texting replace phone calls? Texting is far more convenient than talking and cell phone reception is still awful and it’s caused us to lose the art of gracefully ending a call. Instead you hang out on the phone and wonder if the other party just hung up or if they’re still there. Maybe that’s just me.

I’ve covered my kids toys and cell phones. The main idea behind what I was considering when I started this post is that there are so many things in the stores and it’s ALL garbage. I know there are research groups that tell the corporations what people like and what they’ll buy but are these research groups right?

Do we like stuff because corporations make stuff or do corporations make stuff because we like stuff?

There, I think that sums up my overall question here. I’m one who doesn’t like stuff. I mean that literally. I prefer having only those things I need (though I’m not perfect in that quest) but not everybody has that same philosophy. I know people who buy stuff for the sake of having it, whether they need it or not. What drives the need to have this extra stuff? Sometimes it seems like we like something simply because that’s what is offered. Is that true? If so, than is this the minimum of what people accept or could we be offered so much more?

I think I lost my topic. I’m just tired of all this trash that surrounds me. I believe that if we hold out for something better, we’ll be offered something better. Instead, we take what we’re offered and that drives the market to continue producing garbage.

Automation: The Most Annoying NON-Necessity That We All Need

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2 Nephi 5:17 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands.

The topic for this post is inspired by my minivan! My van has powered doors and a powered drivers seat and powered windows. Why would I hate this stuff? This is stuff that people pay MORE for! I hate it all. I’ll start with the powered doors.

  • The doors take about 4 seconds to open on their own. That’s about 3.5 seconds longer than when I do it myself. Why does 3.5 seconds matter? Ask yourself that the next time you’re at a stop light and the light turns green and the guy in front of you hasn’t moved within 2 seconds.
  • Next, because they’re automatic my girls can open them with the push of a button. They can also close them with that same button whether they are out of the way or not! The doors do have a safety on them just for that reason, but that’s another automated thing and I don’t trust it.
  • Being automated means they will break and it will cost a lot to fix. Manual powered doors got no parts to break.

Ok, I could make lists of everything that I hate but that list would be never ending. Lets try anyway:

  • Wasting water
  • Dogs off leashes that jump on me when I’m jogging
  • Forks touching the plate (the two should never touch!)
  • Bringing leftovers home just to throw them away the next day
  • Spiders
  • U2 (the band)

<stay focused!!! />

I guess my real problem isn’t simply automation. It’s the act of removing those little things in life that cause us to live. Opening a stupid door isn’t that big of a deal, but it is  something that I can handle on my own. I can also open my own window and I don’t find it any more convenient to use the button. In fact, every time I use automatic windows I can’t help but think how the motor is just that much closer to failing. The powered seat is even more annoying! It takes about 10 seconds to move the seat from being pushed forward to where I need it. If it was manual it would be .5 seconds (the same as the doors, if you were paying attention). That additional 9.5 seconds is enough to cause me to not even want to drive the van, so I rarely do.

I think I’ve gone on about the van enough already. Automation is good as long as it’s not taking place of those things that humans should do. If we’re going up a few floors in a building we should take the stairs rather than the elevator but instead we laugh at those that take the stairs. If we’re moving our piano to our neighbors we should get a few guys from the neighborhood and all move the thing together rather than hiring some company to do it for us. I should start doing my own oil changes again. I’m sure there’s stuff that I do that you all would call me a hypocrite for. Shut up. I’m working on it OK?

 

Personal Accountability: The End Of My Rant – Read It Or Don’t

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I was on a personal accountability kick for my past few posts and I wanted to finish it off with this post and move on to my next rants. I’m finding that I’m getting grumpier as I age. I’m actually excited to be that old guy in the neighborhood that’s out yelling at the kids. I believe we’re all responsible for our own actions. This also means that no other persons influence can be blamed for our behavior once we understand our situation. This means that if I’m neglected as a youth I don’t get the ‘right’ to grow up to be a molester and excuse myself based on my youth. If I’m aware of my actions than I’m also responsible to make sure they’re appropriate. I’m confident this post is going to come back to bite me. Nothing in life is fair and it was never implied that it would be.

 

On December 2nd I go to a hearing with the Utah Labor Committee to determine whether I have a good case against my former employer who owes me and many other former employees a lot of money. Many of those people have turned to blame the company’s ethics and are still spouting hatred towards the company. Some have gone as far as writing fake complaints about the company in various complaints websites just to take them down. What these people don’t understand is that the company is already out of business. I’ve personally watched the former president of the company come to my building looking for a job (not to my company, he was going to another company in my building). These hateful people have even gone as far as dragging my former manager and myself and a few other people I worked with down by accusing us of being part of the scam.

I’m not going to get into all the details. The facts behind the business are simply that it was clear the company was dying for well over a year before they finally went out of business. The first day I started at the company they were giving away a large screen TV. They kept up with offering perks and incentives to push sales and drive the company forward. Most of my customers were happy and the company was doing very well. Over the next few years the feeling of the company died down and the prizes stopped and it became more and more of a burden to push a sale. We were still making the sales but they became stupid sales. My team and I watched as we would quote $5,000 for a website and it would sell for $2500. Then the company dropped the hosting charges from $40/month down to $10/month or less if the customer fought hard enough. At the same time the president formed a dream to build the most hideous piece of software I had ever heard of called HIT Designer, which was a Adobe AIR platform and built HTML websites. All the code was absolutely positioned and the ugliest code I had ever seen. I absolutely hated the software but that was the future of the company. My own programming department was also developing a monstrous code that I really didn’t like, and neither did the programmers who were building it, but they kept going forward because that’s what they were being paid to do. In all I estimate the company spent about $500,000 on R&D for these software packages. According to one of the owners that number is actually $1,500,000 that was wasted on these software flops.

I know, you’re wondering where I’m going with all this. Near the end, as the paychecks started bouncing and the company was holding massive layoffs and I was watching my friends walk out the door there were those of us who kept working. The company fired some amazing designers who worked hard and gave everything they had to make the customers happy while they kept the designers who didn’t work as hard but they sold more. In the end it was all about doing what brought in the dollar but forgetting about serving the customer who paid the dollar. I witnessed all this go down. I was even told that the company would probably be closing its doors (though they told me that wouldn’t happen for many months down the road). During it all I kept my hopes up and I worked the best I could to keep moral up. I was confident that we could turn the company around and make a profit. I had great ideas and in the end the company finally started listening to me – so I thought. As it turns out the company was only doing those things that would bring in money but dropping everything that would fulfill that sale. I watched it all happen and I was completely oblivious to the deception around me. Sadly, I don’t think anyone I worked with understood how bad the system had gotten. It was years of compromising and bad decisions that ended the company.

Now I’ll tie this into personal accountability – since that is the topic that I’ve been ranting about. I would like to finally be done with this because I want to move onto my next rant (Automation, the death of us all). As I’ve mentioned a few times I watched my companies death and though I did everything I could to stop it my efforts were worthless and I ended up losing thousands in the process. If I had quit at the beginning of the decline I would be financially better off. Beyond that I can’t say whether I would be in a better position. I’m fighting to get whatever money I can get from the company but I don’t hold a grudge against the owners. One of the owners I’ll never trust again. Two of them I never knew so I can’t make a judgement but the fourth I knew and I still trust him. In fact, it’s him that I based my stand on when I chose to stay with the company as it went down.

All this comes down to one simple idea, which is that I was doing what I thought was right. I thought I could make a positive difference. In fact I know I made a difference. I was able to get projects pushed through and I sped up a lot of issues that my clients would otherwise have been lost in the sea of horrible customer service. I fought for the members of my team to get them paid properly, often at a lost of myself getting paid. Although my efforts were all in vain I know I made a positive twist to the dying company. I don’t know if I would have been better off if I had quit early on and it’s too late to daydream about the so many “what if’s” there are in my past. All I can do is push forward now and push for what I really want. Maybe it’s ironic that I’m fighting to get my money from the company while I don’t hold any hateful thoughts towards them, but then why should I? I saw the writing on the wall as well as any body else and I chose to stay. That was my choice and once I made that choice the blame is put on me, though it does not excuse them from paying me.

We’re all offered opportunities throughout our lives and the outcome of those choices that we make are ours to deal with. There are choices I’ve made in my life that I might like to have a do-over with, at least I might think that now. I also believe that as long as I’m doing everything I can to the best of my ability and put my faith in God to fill in the gaps that I can’t go wrong. We’re all given the same opportunity with our lives. I’m just tired of watching people accuse corporations for not providing them with the way of life they wish for. I’ve seen extremely poor people living the happiest lives and I’ve seen the very wealthy constantly worry about their massively accumulated garbage. I’ve also seen sad poor people and happy rich people. Our lives are what we make of them. I chose to not blame my situation on my former company. In fact I would thank them to some degree. If I had quit prior to when I did I might not be employed with WebConcepts LLC now. I have my job because I took responsibility at HIT and I worked hard to serve my customers. Somehow I made an impression on my boss and he asked me to join his team. Things actually worked out very well because I didn’t give up and blame the company for the problems, though they didn’t end up as I had planned. In fact all the people I know who were in similar situations, including those who were fired, ended up better off.

Our choices are ours to fight for. We just have to be willing to take life as it comes and go with the flow. Control of our lives is an illusion. Though we can influence our paths, where we end up is anybody’s guess. I don’t regret my past and I’ll always be curious what I might have been if I had made other choices. Who would I be if my mother let me join the army when I was 17. Who would I be if I had gone on a mission? Who would I be if I had gone away to school? Who would I be if I never went to college? Who would I be if I decided to speed through the light instead of stopping? I accept who I am because of my choices and I do my best to make better choices in the future based on my past. I have plethora or poor choices in my past that I can use to help me make better choices in the future. My past defines who I am now, but I’m not limited to that definition.

I think I turned to like 50 tangents in all that. My point was to simply look to your self to fix problems and stop blaming everything else. If that’s what you got out of all this than I accomplished my purpose. If you got anything else than be sure to come back for my next post where I spent a few hours complaining about automation.

Personal Accountability: Be Prepared To Lose What You Love Pt. 2

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Just to be clear, if you’ve come back and you’re ready for your shake – you get to pay for it. I’m not buying a thousand shakes for you all.

I was saying in my last update about Occupy Wall Street and how those in the protest are wearing their designer jeans and driving fancy cars. I actually don’t know what they were driving or wearing, I wasn’t there. Scanning through the images on Google doesn’t tell me much except it seems the most of them are wearing the same stuff I wear. One thing that seems consistent is that most of the protesters are kids. My first reaction is to call them kids who think they’re entitled to something. That’s a broad attack though. I really don’t know these people. The few TV snippets I’ve seen haven’t put much in the way of a really intelligent crowd though.

I’m questioning the validity of the campaign but more important I’m wondering about the human spirit and how far it’s willing to go to stand up to defend what it (we, humans) believe in. I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon lately and in the book of Alma Chapter 43:45 it talks about the spirit of the Nephites as they fight to defend what they believe in:

45 Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.

During this battle with swords and cimeters the Nephites were defending themselves and their homes from the attack of the Lamanites. I find it hard to imagine myself holding a sword and running into battle. But this entire army was commanded of God to do just that.

47 And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.

So my real question asks how far are we willing to go to make a difference? Right now it looks like camping out on Wall Street and in other various places across the country seems to be the limits. Ironically there are some capitalists who are making money selling tshirts off this thing. That’s what’s awesome about America. Someone will find some way to make money off just about anything. But then if you make too much money you cross the line and suddenly everyone hates you. One day I hope to cross that line. If I ever do cross that line I promise to do the same thing that everyone else claims they’ll do when they cross the line. I’ll give back to the community and share the wealth because I don’t need that much money.

That was a tangent, sorry – it happens. Back to what I was saying: how far are we willing to go? Who are the largest criminals that we’re fighting against? I really don’t know, but are we willing to go without whatever they produce? Are we willing to give up electricity to fight against the power companies? Are we willing to ride bikes to work to fight the gas companies? Ironically if we were to ride bikes to work the gas prices could come down because of the surplus. When the prices come down we’ll start driving again and we’ll hike the prices back up. It’s all about us and our actions. Accountability isn’t about waiting for someone else to fix the problems. It’s about each of us being responsible for our actions. It’s difficult to imagine the leap in our lifestyle we would need to make to break away, but the results would be a simpler lifestyle where we’re not dependent on what the corporations are telling us that we need. Instead we would live based on what we actually need. I’m not implying that we all quit our jobs are run to some commune in the mountains!

I’ve got 2 beautiful kids that I can’t imagine going anywhere in the car unless their in their car seats. However I remember as a kid I used to like to lay down on the floor of the car. I had no car seat. I have become dependent on car seats to feel like my kids are safe in the car. I can’t leave my house without my cell phone and I don’t even call people and nobody ever calls me. Why is my phone so important? I’m sure it’s because I pay so much for it and it also has Angry Birds on it.

This rambling is getting too long. I’m going to make this a three part series!

Accountability: The Hypocrytical Stance That Lets Me Judge You

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Don’t judge me for who I am. I’m no better than you and you’re no better than me. I’m to the age now that I can talk about my past and say things like “when I was a kid we did ______”. For example, when I was a kid eating out was rare. I mean less than once every few months and that includes McDonalds trips (at least that’s what it seems like). There was a fast food joint called Dee’s that served $.25 hamburgers (some people might remember the place on Highland Dr, it had a giant clown on the marquee – it’s a McDonalds now). It also had seats that were shaped like horse saddles. You would think a quarter hamburger would be worth going out for more often but we still rarely went out. My mom said the food tasted like cardboard but it was fine for me (what does a 6 year old care?). So last month McDonalds had their annual Monopoly lottery game and I ended up going there every day. At the same time some things came up that prevented me from getting to the gym every day so in the time of the game I ended up gaining about 10-12 pounds (it turns out McDonalds food isn’t a good choice for dieters… or anyone). So, I broke from my normal preference of NOT going anywhere for lunch and headed to McDonalds for lunch.

So what does this have to do with accountability? It was MY choice to go to McDonalds. I knew I was getting food that was making me fatter and I was wasting money on that place. It’s not my right to blame McDonalds for my actions. I make a lot of actions that I’m aware will have possible consequences and I go in knowing those consequences and I’m prepared to accept them. Whatever happens will happen. A few years ago I had the opportunity to become an electrician. I was accepted into the JATC right at the same time that I was offered a job with HIT Web Design (then called Heritage Web Design). I stuck with HIT Web because I was interested in web development. Now, 5 years later, HIT Web is closed and cost me a lot of money in the process. I witnessed all the signs that HIT was shutting down as they were dying. They kept making one bad decision after another while I stuck by them. I wanted to help them build themselves up (unfortunately I didn’t realize the depth of the bad decisions and all the other stuff that was going on). If I had gone on with the electricians opportunity I would be close to a journeyman electrician by now. That wasn’t the path that I took. All choices lead to consequences which are good or bad and sometimes both. In my case it turns out that I thought I made a good decision even though it led to me losing my job and a substantial amount of savings. I now have a good job in the industry that I really enjoy being in. I get to learn move and more every day and I’m finding new avenues in my field that I’m really enjoying.

So, what brought this up? It was my thoughts on personal accountability. Right now there’s a big deal with Occupy Wall Street. As it’s been shown, most people don’t know the real reason that they’re occupying Wall Street. The general answer, when asked, is “because I don’t like big businesses running the country”. Truthfully, neither do I. My solution is to not support the big businesses that are running the country. I posted that on Facebook and got smacked down. So I guess the real solution is to stand in a street holding a sign while you wait for someone else to do something about it.

I don’t support WalMart so I don’t shop there. I read somewhere that they have such a strong buying power that they forced Nalley Pickles to move their production out of the country in order to get the price of a giant jar of pickles down to under $3.00. The jar was estimated to last a typical family for an entire year. If I need a jar of pickles to last a year I really won’t mind paying a few dollars more and keep their production here in the states. Proponents of outsourcing pickle production to other countries can shop at Walmart and feel their helping those other countries, but you better not be supporting the Occupy Wall Street crowd. In fact all those in that crowd better not be holding their cell phones, wearing their designer clothes, or driving their overpriced cars to and from Wall Street. Our civilization has become dependent on someone else making the decisions and doing the work for us.

I’m going to make this a two part post. If you come back for more I’ll give you permission to get a chocolate shake from McDonalds.