WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 23:  Sandra Fluke, a...

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Recently, Sandra Fluke testified before Congress, encouraging them to mandate that employers pay for contraception through health insurance.

This is because, as Ms. Fluke testified, there is only way for these women to get contraceptive protection.

“You might respond that contraception is accessible in lots of other ways.  Unfortunately, that’s not true.”

Respectfully, this is nonsense.  Here’s a list of alternatives to employer-subsidized contracepti

on (and their costs):

  • Stop having sex – cost = $0
  • Condoms – cost = $1/condom.  At the high end, you’re looking at $30/month, the same cost as subsidized hormonal contraception
  • Make the partner pay – cost = 50-100% reduction in cost, which is about the same as subsidized hormonal contraception.

This doesn’t address women who need the hormonal contraception for medical reasons because it’s my understanding that those are typically covered by organizations who oppose contraception.

Ms. Fluke argues there’s no requirement in these bills that they be covered.  The good news is, there’s no requirement now and they’re already covered!  Yay!  Win for everybody.

This seems to be another case of jumping to the “force everybody to do what I want solution.”  That’s unfortunate, as force tends to have unintended consequences that rarely go well for the nation.

Let’s all take a lesson from Bush-era mistakes:  force is rarely the best solution.

I’ll come clean right now:  I don’t Tweet.  Much.  That said, I enjoy reading other people’s tweets (does this make me a freeloader?)

And I realized that I don’t follow all my Facebook friends on Twitter. I had a few minutes tonight so I thought I’d bop on over to Twitter to fix that.

I got there and found the “Find Friends” link.  There is a short list of services from which you can choose to import contacts.  You know who’s not on the list?  Facebook.

So, here’s a quick-and-dirty workaround.

You’ll need:

  • A Yahoo! Mail account
  • A Facebook account (with friends)
  • About 5 minutes (if that)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to your Yahoo! Mail contacts page.
  2. Click the “Import Contacts” button.
  3. Click “Facebook”.
  4. Click “Okay”, when it asks if you want to share with Yahoo!.
  5. Yahoo! Mail will import your Facebook contacts.
  6. Click the checkbox to select all of your contacts.
  7. IMPORTANT:  Click “Assign to Lists” – either create a new list or add to an existing list.*
  8. Go to the Find Friends page on Twitter.com.
  9. Click “Search Contacts” next to Yahoo!
  10. Click “Agree” to allow Twitter to access your Yahoo! Mail contacts.
  11. Pick and choose who to follow.

Hope this helps you out!  Feel free to comment if you have any questions.

* If you don’t do this, Twitter will not detect any contacts from your Yahoo! Mail account.  This is because Yahoo! marks all Facebook contacts as such and does not allow them to be exported until they’ve been modified in some way.

 

Dear Mr. Clark,

Thanks for addressing this issue.  Your letter is an example of the kind of straightforward, honest dialog parents need to be having with their children’s educators.

I found a lot to agree with in your article.  “Helicopter parenting”, making excuses for our children, attorneys at parent-teacher meetings (really?!) all need to go.

And I loved this sentence:

“This one may be hard to accept, but you shouldn’t assume that because your child makes straight A’s that he/she is getting a good education.”

Totally agree.  Parents need to evaluate their child’s progress independent of grades, as much as possible.

But you said a few things that sound less like partnership and more like continued schism between parent and teacher.  For example, this statement:

“If we give you advice, don’t fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer.”

Not going to happen.  I expect my doctor or lawyer to tell me what’s causing my problem and how to fix it.  Plus, they’ve studied/practiced medicine or law for many more years than I have.

And I know teachers have studied/practiced education for many years.  Here’s the difference:  I’ve known my own kid for many years.  To your point, I don’t know them in the context of a classroom with other kids but to say I should take your advice like I would advice from a doctor or lawyer is going too far.

Plus, it contradicts your idea of partnering.  I don’t bring much to my doctor or lawyer except complaints.  With my child’s educator, however, we both bring something to the table and that is knowledge about my child in different contexts.  By coming together, we can paint a more complete picture of him and come to a better understanding of his behavior and needs.

Next, this part:

“At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs.”

I  agree it would be best if, instead of being defensive, we just listened to your perspective, sincerely considered it and made adjustments where we see fit.

But come on.  These are our children.  At home, they make us laugh and chase us with train tracks for swords and let us tickle them and, sometimes, when we’re very lucky, they whisper, “I love you, Daddy.”  Can’t you at least understand that when you tell us our son is under-performing or talking too much or, heaven forbid, cheating, our first reaction isn’t one of passive acceptance?

We’re not reacting to you but to the message.  You can help us by being understanding and patient with us.  That way, we know we can trust you when the emotions have dissipated.  Then, with your support in the classroom, we’ll provide the necessary structure and discipline to make positive changes in his understanding and behavior.

Oh, and about your pet peeve (“Is that true?”)  We’re not asking him to confirm the verity of your statement.  We’re asking him so we can hear him admit his mistake in front of you.  It makes it easier for us to discipline him later on.

Mr. Clark, there are good parents out there who want to partner with their child’s educator to maximize the educational opportunity of their children.  I hope when you meet new parents, you give them the benefit of the doubt and treat them like good, effective partners.  Not like misbehaving children…

One night, the Prophet Joseph Smith was sitting down to dinner with his wife, Emma.  They had nothing to eat except one johnnycake (corn meal pancake) between them.  President Smith bowed his head and said “Dear Heavenly Father, we thank thee for this johnnycake.  Please send us something better.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

I’ve been dealing with a similar issue for roughly the past 14 years.

On September 30, 1997, I boarded a plane from San Jose, CA to Houston, TX, ending a 2-year, full-time mission for my church.  I was sad to leave my mission but excited for what the future held.  I’m not saying those were the best two years of my life.  They weren’t.  Every year since then has been better than the one before it.

But since my mission, I’ve had about 17 jobs (part-time and full-time) and I haven’t enjoyed any one of them as much as I did my time as a missionary.

To be clear, I’m grateful for my career.  It has been such an amazing blessing I can hardly comprehend it.  It has allowed me to support my family temporally and spiritually, afforded me the privilege of associating with some amazing people and given me the opportunity to learn great things.

But not one of those jobs has made me as happy as my missionary service.

It’s not hard to see why.  The life of a missionary is comprised of four things:  working to help others (~11 hours/day), studying the gospel (~2 hours/day), meals/hygiene/etc. (~3 hours/day) and sleep (~8 hours/day).  Almost a full 50% of the day is spent putting all your time and energy into finding ways to improve the lives of specific people around you.

Over the course of my two years, I helped people quit alcohol and drugs, helped couples turn around their marriages, taught children to read or speak English, sang songs in a nursing home, mowed lawns, did construction work and did countless other acts of service.  And I’m not saying that to boast; every missionary does it.  That’s the nature of a mission.

Which is exactly the problem with my career thus far.  That’s NOT the nature of any of the jobs I’ve had since my mission.

This leads me to my dilemma:  my first priority is supporting my family but every day I can’t help but think I could be using my time more effectively (i.e., in a way that makes more of a positive impact on the world.)

Which brings me back to the story at the beginning.  After Joseph said the prayer, what happened?  Well, they ate their johnnycake together and, just as they were finishing, there was a knock at the door.  Joseph opened it to a brother holding a turkey saying he’d felt impressed to bring it to the Prophet’s house.

I know prayers are answered and I’m sure somewhere out there, there’s somebody with a turkey with my name on it, looking for my house.

But I can’t believe I’m alone in this.  Have any of you had feelings like this and, if so, what did you do about it?

The chapel in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

Image via Wikipedia

On the first Sunday of every month (with rare but regular exceptions), we LDS folk change our routine up a bit.  Instead of the normal 35 minutes of talks from pre-selected members of the congregation, we leave the time open for anybody to come up and share a particularly uplifting thought.  Anybody can come up and say just about anything.

These are typically the most uplifting and inspiring meetings and I look forward to them every month.  Lately, so does my oldest son (4 yrs old), Bubbers.  For the past couple of months, he has requested (alright, begged) that we let him go up and bear his testimony.  After a few practices, we decided he was ready today.  He knew what he wanted to say and he knew how to say it. Continue Reading

Bookshelf

Image via Wikipedia

Over the past while, I’ve been stewing over an idea for a novel.  I’m fascinated by it but I wonder if anybody else is.  Some close friends have said they find it interesting but I’d like to get the opinion of a wider audience.  If you wouldn’t mind, would you read the synopsis below and vote “Yes” or “No” if you think it sounds interesting to you?  Thanks!

Synopsis

Set at Stanford University in the early 70s, a young man and woman (she’s an undergrad, he’s a grad student) find themselves in love.  She’s a Mormon and he’s a Muslim.  As they go through their relationship and some unique and challenging complications, we see how both religions can alternately be used to solve problems, uplift and comfort as well as ostracize, humiliate and even terrorize.  We also explore the similarities shared between these two seemingly opposing religions.  Ultimately, we find that with a loving family and devotion to living principles that bring one closer to God, any challenge can be overcome, even ones caused by those closest to us.