Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Potty Proximity Principle

I've been aware of the Potty Proximity Principle for quite some time now. But this past week I was on a road trip through the Midwest and this principle became very noticeable.

I'm sure you're aware of the Potty Proximity Principle. Just cause I made it up is no excuse to not know about it. But just in case you haven't made yourself aware, let me explain.

You see, for some strange reason, the closer I get to a bathroom the more I have to use the bathroom. I don't know why it occurs but it happens all the time. On our recent trip it was particularly prevalent.

We would be driving along through the endless flat plains of Kansas or Nebraska and the car would need some gas so I would pull into a gas station. Mind you, it's been hours since our last stop, and when I decided to pull off I had no need to use the restroom. Yet, I pull into a gas station and begin to fill the car with gas and suddenly I'm potty dancing.
Though I am very familiar with the potty dance I did not make this image.  I found it here
It happened every time.  Then I went inside and as the proximity to the potty increased, the urgency went up exponentially.  By the time I was in line waiting for my turn it was like every ounce of my soul was devoted to the most intricate and exquisite of potty dances.

I watch dancing shows with Robyn sometimes.  She tries to explain to me that each dance is communicating something.  I don't always (or ever) understand what she's saying.  But I might understand now.  My dance was definitely communicating something very powerfully.  I was saying with every wave of my arm or bounce in my step that "I NEED to go NOW!"

So there you have it.  That's the Potty Proximity Principle.  Has anyone else every experienced this?  I'm sure it's some sort of disorder.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Church History Tour Part 2: Nauvoo

After leaving Missouri we continued our tour of the early history of our church in Nauvoo.

Nauvoo was absolutely amazing.  There is lots that I need to share. (sorry for the really long post)

The church has bought most of old Nauvoo and have restored many of the buildings.  Visitors are able to learn stories of the early saints and to see much of how they lived.  Much of our time in Nauvoo was spent seeing what it was like to live in the early 1800s.  Here are a few fun experiences we had.

We made rope and were so proud.
We visited the schoolhouse to be educated by Robyn
We preached the gospel in the Seventies Hall
We got "prairie diamonds" from the blacksmith.  (These nails were used as rings because couples couldn't get actual diamonds.)
We walked down Hotchkiss street but edited the name to make it a  little extra awesome.
We rode on a wagon, where we discovered that Robyn could not have been a pioneer because she gets too cold.
We went to David's Chamber where Joseph Smith's son David went to paint.
We found an old school outhouse that was awesome.

In addition to all the fun we had, we had some great experiences that were very profound.  There were two that really stood out to me.  The first was the visit to Carthage Jail.
I have studied the accounts of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith when he was murdered in Carthage Jail.  I've always wanted to piece together the stories and being there in the jail really helped me to do that.  It was particularly profound being in the "martyr room" as they call it, the room where Joseph was when he was killed.
This is the bullet whole from the bullet that was shot through the door and into Hyrum Smith's face.  (Don't be bothered by Jared's finger sticking through.)
This is the window that Joseph Smith jumped out of.  He was shot twice in the back from the mob that was coming up the stairs.  He was also shot from the outside by the militia that had been assigned by the governor to protect him.  It was extremely powerful for me to be there and think about what happened there.

The last thing that was extremely profound for me was the walk down Parley Street.  I don't have any good pictures of it except that I took a picture of this monument at the end of the street.
This is a statue of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young looking west beyond the Mississippi River.  Of course, we know that after Joseph was killed, Brigham took the saints west to the Salt Lake valley.  This monument commemorates that but it also had a quote from Joseph Smith that showed that the exodus had been planned before his death.  Joseph said, "My people shall become a mighty host in the vastness of the Rocky Mountains."

This statue wasn't what was powerful to me though.  What was powerful was what they call the "Trail of Hope."  Parley Street was where the saints drove their wagons to the Mississippi River and then crossed and went west.  Along this street they have placed plaques with entries from the journals of the saints as they left.  Many of them talked about looking back at the temple one last time, and the sadness they felt.  We were able to make this same walk to the banks of the Mississippi and to look back at the view of the temple up on the bluff.  It was incredibly powerful for me to look back and to see that same view and try to imagine how they felt.

Overall, it really was an incredible trip.  We had lots of fun and we also were able to learn a lot about the history of the church.  It was a great experience and I'm very glad we went.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Church History Tour Part 1: Missouri

Robyn and I are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (some call us the LDS or Mormon church).  This year for our vacation we decided to take a history tour of the areas that are significant to the early days of our church.  Our tour began in Missouri.

We went to Independence where we were able to see the Community of Christ Temple.

The Community of Christ is the largest break off group that has broken away from the mainstream LDS church.  After Joseph Smith's death when the saints went west to Salt Lake City, certain saints chose not to go and reorganized their own church.  They started with a belief in the Book of Mormon but have since tried to distance themselves from it to some extent.

We were able to go inside and see what it was all about.  They had a museum inside with some of the artifacts of the early church.  We were also able to go into the chapel in the center of the temple and look up and see the spiral from the inside.  It was pretty cool looking.
It was neat to see the architecture and walk through the museum.  It was also very interesting to see how different their temple is from our temples.  It is still a place of worship but it feels very different.  It seemed that the function of their temple was more like our conference center.  It is a place of worship but not necessarily a sacred place.

From there we proceeded across the street to the temple lot where Joseph Smith dedicated for the future building of a temple.   There is just a small plaque there almost covered by a bush showing what it is.

Since we clearly hadn't had our fill of temples we then went to the location of the Kansas City temple which is currently under construction.

From there we went to Far West.  Joseph Smith also dedicated this area for a future temple as well.  Robyn and I decided to take a precious picture.
But then Robyn got cranky because Jared was taking too many pictures.
Her face is too classic.
After that we proceeded to Liberty Jail where Joseph Smith was incarcerated for a time.  Several of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were recorded in Liberty Jail.  The original jail was destroyed, but the Church has rebuilt a replica of the jail that you can see.

I was amazed to learn of the filthy conditions within the jail.  It also really helped me reflect on the trials that the prophet faced.  This period in his life was truly a refiner's fire for him and helped him become who he needed to be.  It was very powerful.

Lastly, we went to Adam-ondi-Ahman.  Robyn looked very precious as we overlooked the valley.

We believe this will be a place of gathering upon the return of the Savior.  I thought the acoustic properties of this area were particularly fascinating.  I stood atop this rock and spoke in my normal voice without raising it at all.  Jared went several hundred yards away and he could still hear me.
Robyn climbed up on top of the rock with me and was just talking quietly to me when Jared responded from clear across the little valley.  She kind of jumped and said, "He can hear us?"  It was really cool.  I guess it's a good place for us to gather and hear a speaker.

After Adam-Ondi-Ahman we were driven from the state.  Luckily, it has been illegal to kill a Mormon in Missouri since June 25, 1976, so I was doing the driving and not an angry, murderous mob.

Stay tuned.  We're currently in Nauvoo, Illinois learning about all sorts of history.  I'm sure I'll write about it soon.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The World's Most Expensive Blogger

It turns out that getting my wife to post to her blog is extremely expensive.  Last time she posted was 8 months ago when I took her to Europe.  This time we bought a house.  The cost of her blog posts is going up.  Who knows how much we'll have to spend for the next one.

Anyway, she wrote all about our new house.  She has pictures and all sorts of goodness.  She's a guru at that sort of thing.  Go read her blog, it cost a lot of money.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Tacos

I have good news and I have bad news.  The Good news is, THEY FINALLY APPROVED OUR LOAN  AND WE CAN BUY OUR NEW HOUSE!  WE'RE GOING TO CLOSE ON WEDNESDAY!  Sorry for the caps.  I know that breaks all rules of internet etiquette.  I only did it for two sentences so I hope it wasn't too painful.  I just needed to express the happiness this brings.  We have jumped through so many hoops to prove that we really intend to keep both houses and not walk away from the old one.  I'm just a very happy boy.  Once we close on the house I'm sure I'll let you know more about it.  But for now, here's a little teaser.  This is a picture I took with my phone.

Okay, so now for the bad news.  You may want to sit down for this.  I didn't realize this very sad news until this morning.  Are you ready for this?  Well, the bad news is that our new house is not going to be super close to DelTaco.

Our current house is less than a mile from Del Taco.  It's been my special place where I go for tacos any time day or night.  To show you how much love I have for Del Taco, here is a picture of me and my good friend the Big Fat Taco.
But don't worry.  Our new house is only like 7 miles from our old house, so DelTaco is very much still within reach.  But maybe I won't need it.  With the extra square footage in our new house, I could build a taco stand in the basement.  This idea has merit.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Stranger, a Phone and a BMW

I love technology.  It has completely changed our world.  It has also completely changed the way we communicate.  I had an amusing experience that I felt needed to be shared.

I recently received a picture message from an unknown sender. The area code was in Florida, so I had no idea who might be sending it.  First, they sent this:

I was confused as to who would want to share this vehicle with me, but I just ignored it.  They really wanted me to enjoy the car though, so they sent this:

Of course, that didn't help me know any better who it was, so I texted back and said, "That's a nice BMW but who is this?"  Their reply was simple, they sent this:

Don't get me wrong, this dude looks awesome with his beamer, but since I've never seen him before it didn't help answer the question of who it was.

Of course, the next thing he did was to call me.  I answered the phone and he asked for Marissa.  When I told him he had the wrong number he was not to be detoured.  "It's your wife."  Was his reply.  I tried to explain to him that, though my memory is not perfect, I can remember my wedding day and I distinctly remember getting married to someone named Robyn.

He was confused at this point, "Marissa isn't your wife?"

"No, sorry."

He apologized and hung up.  So, someone out there in Florida has a wife named Marissa who wants to see an awesome guy with a BMW.  If you see Marissa tell her I took a message from awesome BMW guy.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What Happened to Honesty?

I've had thoughts on this subject for a long time. But the events of the past few weeks have made those thoughts come closer to the surface of my mind.

What happened to honesty? Why don't people keep their word? I have a very vivid memory of the first time I discovered that other people didn't think it was important to tell the truth. I was in second or third grade, I was in the lunch room. As children do, somebody mixed up a few different foods and made an unappetizing concoction. One of the other kids put a dollar on the table and said that he would give it to whomever would eat the mush that had been created. I quickly reviewed in my head what was in this undesirable mix and decided that there was nothing inedible in it. The taste may not be desirable but that would be over in moments. Clearly the transaction was worth a dollar. In my first experience in the services industry, I became a contractor that ate something gross in exchange for compensation.
Of course, we had no written contract, but in my eyes, why would we need one?  I promptly ate the mush.  In exchange, this other little boy pointed at me and laughed, while saying scornfully, "I totally tricked you, why would I pay you?"  Of course, I was faster than him and I grabbed his dollar before he could, and made no offer to return it to him.  (Was that dishonest of me?  It's debatable, but I recognize I was certainly not perfect in this transaction.)

That was the first time I realized that people don't tell the truth.  As a little boy, it baffled me that someone would make an offer they didn't intend to honor.

Throughout my life I have been baffled by the rampant dishonesty around me.  When I lived in BYU housing and signed the honor code, it really bothered me that there were so few around me that took the honor code seriously.  Did I think some of the rules were really stupid?  Absolutely!  But I signed a paper saying I would keep those rules.  When midnight came and I kicked girls out, occasionally some were offended, but my integrity was more important than their feelings at that moment.  (I did try to do it nicely, and tried to give warning before midnight, and most girls understood because they also had signed the honor code, but some of the most offended were a few that had signed it but didn't think they actually had to honor what they signed.)

That brings me to the present.  For those of you who don't know, Robyn and I are in the process of buying a house.  We're really excited about it, it has a beautiful mountain view, (because I didn't want to give up my current mountain view) Robyn gets the master bathroom she's always wanted, and it has an unfinished basement which will hold my library and my sweet home theater room in the future.  We're not selling our current house, though.  We're going to keep it as a rental property.  Part of the reason for this is that its value significantly dropped after I purchased the house.  If we sell it, we'll lose a bunch of money, so we want to hold onto it until the value comes back.

So what is the honesty issue?  We've been approved for financing, but our loan officer has made us fax him copies of the lease agreements with our new renters and he's made us jump through all sorts of hoops.  He says that investors want to know that we're not going to walk away from the old house and let it go into foreclosure.  When he said that, I was blown away.  That had never even occurred to me as an option.  I thought about saying, "Well, I can fax them my mortgage that says I'll pay it off over the next 30 years unless I pay it sooner."  I figure the fact that I signed a contract and gave me word to actually honor the mortgage should be enough proof that I intent to honor it.  I mean, I know it's not their fault that the contract I signed doesn't mean anything to them.  So many people are just walking away from signed contracts.  No one honors their word anymore.

People say things like, "The bank shouldn't have given me a loan I couldn't afford."  What happened to personal responsibility?  If you can't afford a loan, don't get that loan.  Two people with the same income can't necessarily afford the same loan.  One may like to go out to dinner more than the other.  One may have a tendency to gamble.  One may have a sick family member.  These are all things that the individual should figure out for themselves.  This is not the responsibility of the banks to figure out.  Your lack of forethought does not exempt you from your obligations when you sign that contract.

Sorry for my ranting.  I'm just frustrated with the difficulties we're having in proving that we really intend to rent out our house.  I just wish we could live in a world where my word would be enough, because people actually honor their word.  I'm not worried about whether we'll get the house.  I know we will, but we'll just have to jump through a lot of hoops before we do.  Meanwhile, I still believe in honesty.  Maybe, if you're reading this, you'll join me in making our world a place that honors honesty.
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