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Palm Vx Handheld
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(read Part 1 here, part 2 here)

Technology is wonderful, no?  We carry more computing power in the palm of our hand than the entire shuttle that landed on the moon (that’s right, Neil Armstrong.  You would have been safer riding to the moon on an iPhone (there’s an app for that!))  And the best use of that power is, of course, keeping track of the ladies!

I had recently sold some textbooks and bought a Palm Vx with it.  Oh yeah, loving the monochrome!  Anyway, it occurred to me that I could write myself a reminder for, say, the next August and look for Heidi in the law library.  So, I wrote it down.

The rest of the semester, I sat with her now and then and we’d talk and get to know each other.  But I never asked her out because I didn’t think I’d see her again.  It just didn’t make sense to spend money on somebody else’s wife.

Well, summer came and I had a blast.  I had great roommates who invited me to their parties and I met lots of fun people.  I even dated a girl from Mexico that I met at a dance.  See, I have a different psyche when I speak Spanish and my Spanish psyche is way cooler than my English psyche.  If I ever run for political office, I’m going to do it in Spanish, with a translator.

Anyway, at the end of the summer I decided to move out my condo and into an apartment closer to campus.  I picked Liberty Square because it was close to campus and had a reputation as a fun place to live.  What I didn’t know until I moved in was that it was also a filthy stink-hole.  Well, just my apartment.  It was awful.

But, I had cool roommates and a great ward.  I was ready to enjoy myself and meet lots of new people.  You’ll notice I’m not mentioning Heidi much and there’s a reason for that:

I had forgotten about her.

She was all the way in Nevada and I was in Provo and somehow the memory had faded.  But, little did I know, salvation was to come from my pocket.  Because that’s where I kept my Palm Pilot.

One day in late August, the first Wednesday after school had started, I found myself walking into the law library.  As I did so, I was looking at my calendar to see what classes I needed to study for.  And what did I see?  A little note that said:

“Look for Heidi in the law library”

THAT’S RIGHT!!  I had completely forgotten about hot law library chick (yes, that was my nickname for her (while she wasn’t around))!  And I had her name, so I didn’t have to call her “hot law library chick”!  Well, this was one assignment I was going to ace.

I walked straight to our old table and found…nothing.  I looked at the next table and…nothing.  I looked at the next 5 tables and nothing.  But the 6th table had…nothing.  Finally, at the last table in the row, was seated…her.  The object of my affection for the last two months (not counting a break in the summer).

I walked right up to her with a smile and said, “Heidi, right?”

(to be continued)

April 2008 BYU Commencement, with {{w|Cecil O.
Image via Wikipedia

(Read Part 1 here)

She said “no”, what did you think she said?  In other words, nobody was sitting there and I was welcome to sit down.  So I did.  And boy did we hit it off.  I was holding her in my arms, kissing her passionately, within 20 minutes.  It was unbelievable.

Because it didn’t happen.  Because for that to have happened, I would have had to talk to her.  And, as we know from Part 1, my psyche would never allow that to happen (you suck, psyche!)  So, for the first 30 minutes or so, we both sat there in silence, pretending to read our textbooks and ignoring the incredible attraction between us.

Well, I was doing that.  She was probably actually studying.  Yeah, she was studying.  But, after about 30 minutes, she took a break and then I pounced.  I introduced myself and started talking to her.  I have no idea what we talked about, but I came away with one piece of very important information:

She was a freshman.

Well, that sucked.  Not because of some stupid notion that I wouldn’t date a freshman or anything.  It was purely for practical reasons that I mourned my bad luck.  You see, I knew she would be going home to Nevada (pronounced “Nev-ah-dah”, Heidi gets upset if you mispronounce that)  and I would be staying in Provo.

We only had three weeks until school was out, which meant I had to develop a strong relationship with her in three weeks (possible but not probable), which probably wasn’t going to happen (have you met my psyche?)

My other option was to hope I could find her at BYU next year.  This was a fool’s dream.  Who knew if she would even come back to the Y or if she’d get married over the summer or move to a new apartment and study somewhere else?  Plus, there were about 33,000 students at BYU that year.  She was the needle in the BYU haystack.

Fortunately, although my psyche was doing me no favors, hers did, although I didn’t know it (more on that later).  Combined with the wonders of modern technology, I saw a glimmer of hope.

(to be continued)

Brigham Young University
Image via Wikipedia

I met Heidi in March of 2000 (I think).  I had recently been engaged to a wonderful woman but it hadn’t been right.  After a lot of prayer, I decided to end it.  Which is why I was single when I walked into the BYU law library that fateful day in March.

Now, you’re saying to yourself, “m, you’re not an attorney.  “  To which I reply, no.  No, I’m not.  But an old roommate of mine, Brian, had clued me in to the fact that the law library is very quiet (they enforce the ‘no-talking’ thing) and there’s plenty of space.  So, I had been studying there for a few years.

I will freely admit I did not always concentrate when I was supposed to be studying.  I was very observant of the fauna, shall we say.  So, it was not out of character for me, as I sauntered in that day, to be looking around in all directions.

This time, however, as I was looking for an empty table near the back of the library, my eyes fell upon a radiant beauty just sitting there alone at first table at the end of a row.  I nearly fainted.  This being BYU, gorgeous women never sat alone, anywhere (unless she was married).  As was my habit, I checked the ring finger and found it completely naked.  Oh yeah.

Me being who I am, I completely dismissed her as out of my league.  I just walked on by (staring at her the whole time, of course) knowing I had not the slightest chance.  But, as I passed the huge pillar on my right that separated her from me, several thoughts struck me at once.  First, I was now single.  I hadn’t dated anybody since my engagement and was wondering if I ever would.

Second, I was a first-year senior (I had two senior years, thanks to wasting my freshman year), near the end of the year.  I only had one more year before I would leave what is the largest concentration of single Mormon women in the world.  And if I couldn’t find the right woman there, what hope had I?

Finally, and this is the thought that actually changed my mind, I thought to myself, “you only live once”.  Meaning, even if I was completely humiliated, at least I had tried.

(Look at the huge peek you’re getting into my psyche.  Nowhere in there is the thought, “she’d be lucky to have me!” or “I’ll bet she’d really like me!”  Of course, none of that was true, but still.  I didn’t even think thoughts in that direction.  WTH(ECK), PSYCHE!!)

Only a few steps past the pillar, I turned around, backpack in tow.  I walked up to the table, pulled out the chair at the other end of the table, on the opposite side of the table (so bold!), and asked “is anybody sitting here?”

I was dumbfounded by what she said…

(to be continued)

Have you ever noticed that when you see a fault in yourself and try to improve it, it’s nearly impossible? It either takes too long or too much work or you fail to notice real improvement because this other weakness came up and you just have to fix that one first!

In the process, say goodbye to any self-esteem or self-worth you may have had. I mean, what good is somebody who can’t change or improve, right?

Well, I’ve solved this problem. Hold your applause until the end, please.

Recently, for a class I’m taking, I had an executive coach sit down with me and go over a 360-degree review I asked some people at work to complete for me.

His first comment struck me. He said, “I don’t really want to go over your weaknesses. I want to help you find ways to leverage the strengths you have. There’s not much benefit to trying to change your weaknesses.”

Blasphemy. How can I not try to fix my weaknesses? Isn’t that the point of life? Also, isn’t somebody who sees their strengths and not their weaknesses delusional?
No. They’re smart. Here’s why:

Strengths Rating Improvement Factor Improvement
1 9 10% 0.9
2 9 10% 0.9
3 7 10% 0.7
Total 2.5

 

Weaknesses Rating Improvement Factor Improvement
1 3 32% 0.95
2 2 31% 0.62
3 3 31% 0.93
Total 2.5

These tables show Strengths or Weaknesses, a Rating on a scale from 1-10, an Improvement Factor, which is how much I’m going to improve a given Strength/Weakness by and the net amount of Improvement gained. The total shows the total improvement gained for the three Strengths/Weaknesses.

Now this is the important part, so pay attention.

See the totals at the bottom? They’re both the same. In other words, I get a benefit of 2.5 whether I increase my strengths or my weaknesses. But, look at the improvement factors for the weaknesses.

I have to work 3.1 times harder on my weaknesses to get the same benefit as I would from working on my strengths.

No wonder it’s so hard to make noticeable improvements in my weaknesses. It’s hard work!! I can get a whole lot more bang for the buck if I put my effort into maximizing my strengths.

Now, I’m definitely not saying to ignore our weaknesses. In fact, I’m saying we should be very aware of them and work to improve them. But that awareness isn’t about beating ourselves up. It’s about allowing us to choose situations that maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses.

So, if you feel like you’re doing okay at most things but not spectacular, maybe it’s time to find out what your strengths are and whether another situation might take better advantage of them?

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/10/19/091019fa_fact_gladwell

Michael Vick became the target of our loathing for, essentially, taking animals and forcing them to do severe, life-ending damage to each other, all to enrich themselves and for the sport of others. Malcolm Gladwell basically asks the question, “how, exactly, does that differ from football or boxing”?

What he presents is preliminary evidence that shows a much higher correlation between people who played these sports for a long time and dementia. I say preliminary because the researchers haven’t explored all explanations yet. First, they’ve only examined about 16 brains (this can only be detected after death). Second, these brains all have something in common: they belong to ex-professional or collegiate football players.

This commonality introduces a potential bias. It may be that the genetics that cause these people to be big, strong, fast and smart enough to play this game also predisposes them to dementia. Or, it may be that all elite atheletes have this predisposition. Until a more rigorous study is done, involving a control group of non-atheletes and/or elite atheletes of other sports, nothing more than a correlation can be drawn, which is inconclusive.

Morally, of course, there is a huge difference between dog fighting and football or boxing. Humans make the conscious choice to participate (assuming no pressure from parents, which is probably a very naive assumption) and dogs don’t. Plus, dogs who fight are either killed in the fight or shot later while football players are given millions of dollars and lauded by fans.

But can we really say the future stars understand the risks they take when, at the age of 8 or 9, they start to suit up for their first practice? Do parents really understand what they’re signing their kids up for? If so, is the reward worth the risk? I suppose that’s up to each parent or individual to decide.

My wife and I have already decided our kids won’t play these sports, so it’s not an issue for us. But the article’s conclusion hit home with me. For those that don’t know, I’m a rabid BYU football fan. Before I started dating Heidi, who never really got into football, I hadn’t missed a single home game during my 4 years at the Y. The only sport I follow is BYU football.

Here’s the conclusion of the article:

“It had been known for eighty years. Boxers ran a twenty-per-cent risk of dementia. Yet boxers continue to box. Why? Because people still go to boxing matches.”

and

“There is nothing else to be done, not so long as fans stand and cheer. We are in love with football players, with their courage and grit, and nothing else—neither considerations of science nor those of morality—can compete with the destructive power of that love.”

Ouch.

So, why did Michael Vick force dogs to fight in his ring? It wasn’t because the dogs wanted to do it. I doubt it was because of the sheer enjoyment he derived from watching. My guess is, it was for the spectators who would pay the gate, gamble on the fight and make him more money.

And why does Michael Vick himself enter the dogfight day after day, potentially causing himself irreparable harm and putting the future of his family on the line? Is it because it’s so much fun? I’m sure that’s part of it. Is it because he is forced to? Doubtful. Or is it because he makes millions of dollars and lives a life he may never had been able to live without football, at least for as long as his life goes on? Bingo.

And who, ultimately, supplies those millions to him?

Frankly, I don’t care to say.

I got a lot of great comments on the last post about prayer.  I wanted to clarify my meaning because I think I may have been less than clear.  :)

I absolutely have a testimony of the power of prayer.  I would have to be an ungrateful, selfish brat to deny the power of prayer.

My question was more about why it is that we are required to pray for certain blessings when we’re not in a position to help those prayers be answered.  The Lord has perfect love and is omnipotent.  I understand He works through us to answer prayers.  But in situations where we’re powerless to help, why does our prayer allow the Lord to grant blessings He’s already willing to grant (per the Bible Dictionary)?

Even as I type this, though, I see the flaw in my question.  How many situations are we really powerless to help?  The example I used in my previous post was this couple who had a terrible plane crash.  My thought was, I don’t know these people and I don’t live near them, so I can’t help.  Why does prayer help?

Well, first, I’m certainly not powerless to help comfort them, which is what I was praying for.  I can send an email telling them how I feel and that I’m praying for them, for one thing.  Also, if prayer is a two-way conversation, then the Lord can certainly give me suggestions I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.  Finally, the Lord can send extra comfort in the form of the Spirit in specific answer to my prayer.

Thanks for all your comments that helped me begin to understand this better.  It’s great to have friends who can help you think through issues.  I really appreciate it!