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Monthly Archives: September 2007

First Political Contribution

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This morning I did something that I’ve never done before — I made a financial contribution to a presidential candidate, Governor Mitt Romney. I was invited to do so by my brother Nate who has signed up to be a fundraiser for Romney, so I did it partly to help Nate reach his goal, but partly because the idea of a good Latter-day Saint in the White House intrigues me. I have admired Romney ever since he worked miracles with the Salt Lake Olympic Committee, turning an embarrassing and scandalous debacle into one of the most successful Winter Games on record. I was also very interested to watch him run for governor of Massachusetts and win as a Republican in a very socially liberal state.

I’m only slightly concerned about accusations of his being a political chameleon, changing his core beliefs (on issues such as abortion and gay rights) to suit his audience. I’m more interested in his ability to lead and make good decisions. He has all the management skills, he’s charismatic and he has a strong moral compass. I think that he would make a great president.

My contribution was small in amount, but significant in statement since I’ve never done it before. I’m not sure whether he will be able to overcome his rivals and make it to the White House, but he’s certainly helping to build bridges of understanding between LDS people and the rest of the world, even if that’s not his stated purpose. Bringing the Church out of obscurity is a very worthy byproduct of his candidacy, and I hope that he is successful. In the end, however, the nomination will go to the candidate that the Republican base believes can beat Hillary. Whether that’s Guilani or McCain with their liberal leanings (according to some) or Mitt Romney with his religious faith that he claims is a non-issue, but may be troubling to the evangelical “right.” It will be interesting to see how that works out. I truly hope that people will judge him by his enormous capacity, his leadership and vision, not by theological differences that may exist.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2007 in Politics / Economy

 

Keeping in Touch in Cyberspace

This morning I renewed the subscription to the website I created for the Hillcrest High School Class of 1993. As I paid the $30 annual renewal fee, I wondered whether it was worth the investment because not many people have been using the site lately. Why the low visitation? Because not very many people visit the site! What I mean is, those who would be regular visitors don’t return often to the site since nothing is new. It’s like a blog that is never updated — after a while, you just stop going there because you have no reason to do so.

If I could just get people to start posting stuff, things would be better. This morning, I sent an email to all of the members on the site, encouraging them to post something — an update, a picture, SOMETHING! My hope is to change the vicious cycle into a virtuous cycle, one that feeds off itself in a positive way. I want the site to be a place where people connect with old friends online and share their thoughts and ideas. Hosted by My Family.com, the site offers password protected logins to keep the contact data of its users private. It also offers up to 1 GB of storage, which is plenty of space. The thing that I like most about the site is that ANY site member can post pictures, comments and even videos. So why don’t people use it more?

Well, I think the question is whether people really want to keep in touch with their former classmates from so many years ago. Do they really care? Aren’t they already keeping in touch with the people they really care about anyway? Is this website relevant to their lives today? Isn’t a reunion every 10 years sufficient? All good questions.

We mainly established the site as a way to keep contact information current for future class reunions. But I had hoped that it would be something more, not because I am living in the past (heaven knows I don’t have time for that), but because I value human relationships above everything else in my life. I know that the only thing that will go with me when I die is the memory of all my relationships and the experiences that made me who I am.

So what do you think? Is it a lost cause? I can’t even get my family to post anything on our family website! Thankfully, my wife and sisters in law all post a couple of times a week on their blogs, so that’s just as good!

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

September 22 – A Good Day

September 22 is a good day. It’s my oldest brother Matt’s birthday. It’s also the birthday of the fictitious hobbits, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. It was also the day in 1825 on which Joseph Smith Jr. first saw the golden plates that would eventually be translated into the Book of Mormon. It was also on this day in 1862 that Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

This year the date has special meaning for me. It is the date upon which Robin becomes eligible for pregnancy coverage under our two AFLAC policies! That means that from now on, my investment of premiums will now have a guaranteed return on investment. You see, I bought two supplemental insurance policies late last year to help cover the costs of our having a baby this year. The policies went into effect on November 22, but would not cover maternity hospitalization until 10 months after that. So in other words, if Robin gave birth yesterday, AFLAC would have no obligation to pay us anything under the contract. Since our baby has kindly waited to come until after September 22 (due date is October 3), we are now eligible to get up to $3,000 in benefits (cash paid directly to us after we submit a claim).

I’ve paid more than $1,000 into the policy over the past 10 months and have felt kind of like I was gambling since Robin got pregnant earlier than we had expected. We were kind of cutting it close so this morning I’m breathing a sigh of relief. We do have regular insurance, but they pay only 80% of the costs after a $600 family deductible is met. So I’m thinking this baby is going to cost me at least $2,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, more if there are complications, etc. So the money from AFLAC will be very helpful, especially since they will write a check directly to us once we submit a claim.  I’ve heard good things about AFLAC’s claims payment, so hopefully everything will go well. My insurance-selling father would have been proud!

Now that that issue is behind us, I’m really stoked to get this baby here! Just 10 more days until the due date. I can hardly wait.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2007 in Finances

 

Half-blood Prince Begins Filming Today

Okay, it’s been a while since I blogged about Harry Potter. Indeed, the Harry Potter frenzy of July has died down (thankfully) and I can focus on reality once again! However, I did want to mention a few things.

I just finished listening to the audio recording of Book 7, and I have to say I enjoyed it the second time even more than the first time. I think that’s because I was consuming it at a more leisurely pace than when it first came out and I finished it within the first 48 hours of its release. I also REALLY enjoyed the performance of Jim Dale, the voice of the Harry Potter series on tape. I actually got the book on CD from the library and ripped all 17 disks to my iPod. Then I gave the CDs to my sister Amy to enjoy. I listened to the book while cleaning the house, mowing the lawn and jogging, and finished the book with a great sense of satisfaction. Once I finished, I deleted the audio files so as not to infringe on copyright. 🙂

Here are a couple of other bits of information I thought I’d share. According to the fan websites, the “Half-blood Prince” begins filming today (Monday, September 17). And who’s playing the part of Horrace Slughorn? His name is Jim Broadbent. He’s most famous for his role as Harold Zilder on Moulin Rouge and the Professor on the Chronicles of Narnia. He’s also in the new Indiana Jones movie (see my post below).

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Anyway, I think he’ll be perfect in this movie, which is set to release on November 21, 2008. It will just add to the success of the Harry Potter phenomenon. Aside from the amazing success of the books, the Harry Potter film franchise has now become the most successful film franchise of all time, eclipsing the box office totals of all 21 Bond films and the six “Star Wars” movies. It has taken in more than $4.47 billion in ticket sales worldwide — simply amazing. Click here to read an article about it. I do think I’m going to take a break and enjoy the multitude of other good books and podcasts (the subject of a post in the near future.)

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2007 in Popular Culture

 

Blogging Thoughts and the Return of Indy

Over the past three months of blogging, I have often wondered about why we bloggers feel the need to put our thoughts out into cyberspace for public consumption. First, we’re not sure who is reading our ramblings (if anyone). Second, if someone we know is reading our thoughts, can we honestly say what we are thinking without fear of potentially giving unintended offense. I recently removed a couple of my more “negative” blogs due to concerns that my meaning may be misconstrued. After all, blogging is completely devoid of voice inflections and non-verbal aspects of communication, so like email, it is easy to have one’s message not understood the way it was intended.

I’ve occasionally thought that it would be nice to have a totally anonymous blog where you can just say whatever thinking without concern for who might be reading it. Oh wait, I think that’s called a journal. 🙂 Even then, however, I’m often thinking about how my descendents may someday be reading it and will judge me by my “weakness in writing” and my less-than-perfect perspectives. I just can’t win! 😦

Anyway, in a TOTALLY unrelated subject, I just read up on the newest Indiana Jones movie, which is coming out next May. It’s called Indiana Jones and the  Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Sounds like a goofy title to me, but that’s not unlike George Lucas who brought us such B-movie-sounding titles like “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones.” Oh, and George, if you’re reading this, please don’t be offended. I’m excited to see your new Indiana Jones movie. I’m sure it’s going to be great!

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Posted by on September 14, 2007 in Popular Culture, Random Thoughts

 

Dieting Ups and Downs

Just a quick update on my diet. Yesterday, I weighed in after 18 days of dieting, and heaven be praised, I had lost my goal amount of weight — 10 pounds — from 196 to 186. I credit my success to strictly following a carb-restricted diet and exercising religiously every morning. On Saturday, I weighed in higher than I should have, but thanks to a six-mile hike with my brother Matt up Thayne Canyon (trailhead in Millcreek) and some good dieting on Sunday, I made my goal.

Of course, I celebrated this milestone yesterday by eating a half dozen delicious homemade peanut butter cookies which Robin made for family night! I can’t seem to control myself sometimes, darn it! If I give into to small temptations, it’s like opening the floodgates and I seem to lose will power. I find it to be easier to just not even taste stuff like that — thank goodness for the Word of Wisdom, or else maybe I would be a binge drinker or an alcoholic.

Anyway, my next milestone is to weigh 180 pounds by October 1, which means I’ll need to lose about two pounds per week from now until the end of the month. I want to greet my new son with a 180-pound body. If I don’t, I have to buy a nice dinner at a steakhouse for my friend Mike Peterson and his wife. (Of course, if he doesn’t reach his goal, he’ll have to buy dinner for Robin and me.) After that, we’re going to do everything we can to encourage each other not to put the weight back on over the holidays! It’ll be a challenge, but I’m up for it.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

Video Editing: A Love-Hate Relationship

Recently I have taken on a few video projects to make a little extra money. My cousin Cami’s husband Todd brought me a set of 15 home video tapes dating back to 1992, and asked me to transfer them to DVD. In addition, Elizabeth’s mother, Rosanne, asked me to do the same for five of her old tapes. Sounded like a simple project to make a little extra cash to pay for all the baby necessities, right? Well, all was not so simple.

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I recently finished uploading all the video to my hard drive and began to edit the videos, adding chapters and interactive DVD menu screens using my Pinnacle Studio video editing software. All was going well, until I started actually burning the DVDs over the past couple of days. Since then, I’ve had nothing but trouble. The DVDs turn out to have major chapter authoring problems or simply do not burn at all. It is so aggravating because it’s almost impossible to troubleshoot. I’ve spend plenty of hours over the past few years reading the customer support materials and user group exchanges on the web, and have found some workarounds, but it’s painful and time-consuming.

I love my software when it works properly, but I hate it when it doesn’t, which is quite often. Last year, I got so fed up, I bought a new video editing software program, Adobe Premier Elements, but since it’s new to me, requires effort to learn and doesn’t have all the same features I’m used to, I haven’t used it much.

What’s funny is that the Pinnacle Studio 9 software sometimes works like a charm. It just seems kind of moody. A few months ago, I had no trouble converting over my neighbor’s tapes to DVD. But this time, it’s not wanting to cooperate. Besides the frustration, I end up spending so much time on these projects, that I can’t make it worth my time. I am giving current clients very good deals — however, by the time I factor in all the time and aggravation, I will practically be working for minimum wage.

This morning, as I offered our family prayer, I prayed: “Please bless my videos to compile on the DVDs properly; and bless me with the wisdom to never accept another one of these DVD-transfer projects again.”

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2007 in Technology