Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stories from being tagged

So Megan tagged me on her blog. The following is a list of things that people have done in their lives. The idea is that my job is to bold any that I have done. The name of my blog is Jeff’s Thoughts and Stories so it’s important that I share some thoughts or stories. As I was reading through these I realized it was a great opportunity to share a few stories from my past. So, look through the list of things I have done in my life, and then enjoy a few stories about these things at the bottom. I promise they are the most interesting stories from this list, but if there’s something you really want to hear about, let me know in a comment and I may or may not write about it in the future.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii (Everyone in the world goes to Hawaii without me, Robyn and I are going next year.)
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity (I'm not sure exactly what this means but I've certainly given more than is comfortable before. I suppose since I'm alive, technically I was able to afford it.)
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (Not at sea, but a good one at Lake Powell)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (lots of computer languages)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (I'm very happy, but I will still strive for more to provide for the future of my family)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (Not the original, but there's a full size replica in Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
41. Sung Karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (We made some sweet ones. My personal favorite being the one where I played the bear that was encountered by Lewis and Clarke)

56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason (I get flowers for my wife cause I love her, but there doesn't have to be an occasion so I'm counting it)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (I'm sure the speed limit was exceeded at least once)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (as a small child, but the times I was on the TV news were much more interesting)
85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (just fish)
88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (More importantly, I annoyed someone famous)
92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

#84: Being on the news
The time I was in the Newspaper was somewhat amusing. I was 6 or 7 years old and my sister and I were sitting on the curb in the rain watching cars go by. I have always been exceedingly cute, so a newspaper reporter randomly stopped and took a picture. We were just a little side note on a random page, but we were dang cute.

However, I have been on the TV news multiple times. The first was just a few weeks before my mission. They were opening a Krispy Kreme Donuts shop in Orem. Obviously I needed to be one of the first to partake of those donuts so we laid our pillows and sleeping bags out in front of the door the night before to claim our right to have donuts before everyone else. I'd say we slept out there but that would be untrue. I don't think any sleeping happened so it would be more accurate to say we partied out there. The next morning they opened at 6:00 so around 4:00 was when the news crews showed up as well as massive amounts of people. On one station I was standing behind my friend Stephen while he was being interviewed. I ate a donut on live TV and then we all gave each other a high five. On another station they interviewed me as I was walking out the door. They were surprised by how many donuts I had bought. It was something like 8 dozen. I clearly needed to have enough to share.

The second time I was on the news was about a year ago. My brother in law Dann and I planned a big event where we got sponsors to give out prizes and we invited Jodi Saeland of Fox 13 News. We hosted the whole thing in my backyard and we convinced Jodi to judge the pies. They had periodic coverage throughout the night so we just taped the whole thing and then took out everything that wasn't us. Throughout the night I was mingling with the crowd and giving out prizes. So, on the news, I just appear as a member of the crowd while Dann was the main host that you see.

#91: Annoying someone famous
When I was in high school one time Terry Brooks came to town to do a book signing. He wrote the novel for Star Wars Episode I (and lots of other things) so he was in town promoting that book. A few friends and I were in line to get it signed. We were in line for over an hour so when we started getting close we started saying, "Almost there, almost there, just hold them off for a few more seconds." (Quoting the scene from Star Wars Episode 4) Well, we thought we were almost there when we had like 20 minutes to cover the next 10 feet. This was apparently annoying to Terry Brooks. When we got to the front of the line he said, "Oh.... it's you guys. I really thought about ending the line when you got to the front but I figured you would probably hunt me down in the night." I agreed that we probably would, and he signed our books and we went on our way.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One Ring to Rule Them All

Today's story is about The Ring of Power. You know the one I'm talking about, my wedding ring. It's a tale of intrigue and of fantasy. The Ring was lost, and then it was later found in a most unexpected place. But maybe I should start at the beginning.

So Robyn and I had gone to a family party up in Layton which is about an hour away from our house. On the way home my windshield was getting pretty dirty and we had run out of washer fluid so we pulled off the freeway and I threw some snow on the windshield while the wipers were running and that helped get it nice and clean. As we pulled away to get back on the freeway I noticed that I was no longer wearing my wedding ring. We returned to the same spot and I thought maybe I had lost it in the snow. We dug all around with our hands but we couldn't find it anywhere. At this point I started speculating if I had possibly taken it off that morning when I got in the shower and not put it back on. I thought it was possible, though unlikely, that I had just not noticed until that moment. We definitely couldn't find it anywhere in the snow so I clung to the hope that I had left it on the bathroom counter that morning. We drove the rest of the way home which was another 40 minutes. When we got home we ran to the bathroom in hopes that we would find it. Unfortunately, it was not there. This is when I got very sad. Certainly we could afford to replace it. It only cost a few hundred dollars in the first place, so I was glad we lost mine and not hers. But it wasn't about the money. Even if we bought the exact same ring and no one ever was able to tell a difference, I would know that I had lost the symbol that my wife gave me on our wedding day. (And after only 2 months.)

Robyn knew that I was a little shook up about it, so, being the great woman of faith that she is, she decided she was going to call down a miracle from heaven. She went outside and prayed for a miracle that somehow we would find my ring. After praying she thought for a moment and realized that while I had been tossing snow on the windshield she heard something hard hit it. She thought it had been ice at the time but decided that it must have been the ring. She figured if it hit the windshield it either fell to the ground (which we searched thoroughly) or somehow slid under the hood. She started poking around under the hood only to discover it had ridden there for 40 minutes on the freeway without falling onto the pavement. It may have been a small miracle, but a miracle nonetheless. I had already given up hope, but my wife's faith ultimately prevailed.

My story of the One Ring may not have been as action packed as another well known ring story that includes something about a dark lord and the end of the world but it was a happy story for me, and I was grateful for Robyn's faith that helped me to recover what I had lost. I was also grateful that there is a God in Heaven who is willing to listen to her plea, and help us with something that may not have been important in the grander scheme, but was very important to me in that moment.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Second Moniversary

Today is my second Moniversary. For those who don't know what a moniversary is, the word was coined in my First Moniversary Post. We've had many adventures this month as well, (None so great as becoming Super heroes like last month)so I thought I'd share a few like I did last month. I've already written about some of the bigger events such as Robyn's birthday and Thanksgiving. But I'll give some of the smaller events some treatment here:

1. The hand to the face This may have been Robyn's revenge for tapping her in the face last month. One night I was asleep and was awoken by Robyn placing her hand on my face, ever so gently. For about 2 seconds I was filled with confusion and just trying to decide what was going on. When I realized Robyn was just resting her hand on my face, I asked, "Is there a reason your hand is on my face?" She promptly took it away and rolled over. She has no memory of this event.

2. The hypnotic mumbling I was awakened one night because I thought I heard Robyn saying something to me. I woke up and asked her to repeat what she said. It's possible she was saying words but my hearing isn't the best and she was mumbling very quietly so what I heard was, "muuummmmnnuummhhh." I then asked if she was awake, "nnnuuummmmuuuunnnnhh" was the reply. Finally, I just said, "you should go to sleep." At which point she rolled over so she was no longer facing me. If she had been awake, she promptly went to sleep. I told her the next morning that it was like she was hypnotized. If she ever does it again I'm gonna test the power of suggestion and see if I can get her to do something interesting such as clucking like a chicken.

3. Forgetting how to kiss This one really had me laughing, because it had me so confused. One night we sat down for dinner. We usually give each other a kiss right after the prayer before we begin eating. For those familiar with how to kiss, it usually involves some gentle suction which causes a satisfying smack. This kiss did not have that. In fact, when our lips touched, she blew onto my mouth. I pulled back, and, with utter confusion, asked, "Did you just blow? Did you forget how to kiss?" The look of confusion on her face was priceless. She was more confused than I was. Apparently she had been thinking about how the food was hot and she needed to blow on it, this caused an involuntary reaction of her blowing during the kiss and left her just as confused as I was.

4. Robyn's amazing cooking Robyn was an incredible cook before we even started dating. But her skills have continued to improve and she has gotten quite amazing. She tries all sorts of experiments but they always turn out great. One of my personal favorites was an experiment she did with some pork. I don't know what she put on it but it was so amazing I couldn't even handle it. I have included a picture of it below for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Birthday Girl

Today is Robyn's birthday. One year ago, we weren't even dating yet. We were pretty good friends and we spent alot of time together but I had not actually asked her on a date yet. (Our first date was in December though. I took her to my work's company Christmas party. This year she gets to go as my wife.) On her birthday last year I didn't even know it was her birthday, but I saw her at FHE. The activity was to learn some different kind of dances, so I went up and asked if she would be my partner. (Not realizing at the time that she would later be my eternal partner.)

This year was alot better than that, even though she was sick, we were able to do some fun things. I gave her her present this morning before I left for work. It was a set of DVDs that had all 7 seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. So she was able to stay home and watch Star Trek all day long. Then this evening she was feeling a little better so I took her out to dinner at her favorite pizza place and then took her to The Forgotten Carols. All in all it was a blast, but the best part was getting to make her happy on her special day. She's truly special to me so I wanted her to feel that today.

I just wanted to say a little about how great she is. Sorry to those of you who don't like my mushy posts. This will be a short but mushy tribute so those who are not a fan may want to look away.

Robyn always puts others before her. She always makes sure that all my needs are taken care of before she thinks of herself. She does the same for all those around her. I'm always impressed by how much she truly cares about the kids she teaches.

Robyn always makes me laugh. She has such a great sense of humor. And, of course, if I don't laugh at something that I was supposed to, she makes sure that I know my role by saying, "I'm funny!"

Robyn has such a powerful spirit. She always wants to do what's right. She's willing to do what needs to be done regardless of what it takes.

I could go on forever. She's just amazing. Robyn, I hope you had a great birthday! I love you!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Day of Thanks

So Thanksgiving was yesterday, and we had loads of fun. There was delicious food, great people, plenty of fun and plenty of relaxation. I just wanted to share a few short stories that occurred in the past few days that illustrate some things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my amazing wife. We have so much fun together. The above picture is of us together at Thanksgiving dinner. Today we were having leftover turkey for lunch and she instructed me on the proper way to each leftover turkey. I was under the impression that the only objective was to get it into your stomach, this is not the case at all. It is extremely important to eat it in a sandwich with white bread. You have to put potato chips in the sandwich for "potatoey salty goodness" and then you have to mash it slightly so that the potato chips all crunch together with the turkey. It's actually quite delicious. She always shows me fun new things and she always does things for me, she's truly amazing.

I am thankful for my family. The above video is from me interviewing my brothers (and my brother's girlfriend.) I went around harassing everyone and asking them questions. I won't put all the videos up but this was just a sample of some of the craziness I got.

I am thankful for friends Thanksgiving night we had our annual Thanksgiving night bonfire. I got to see my good friend Jared W and of course my good friend, fire.

I am thankful my mom intercepted the flying trash can Okay, basically, I needed a reason to put the above video. My cousin was flying across the room on a trash can. My mom intercepted before he ran over my wife.

I am thankful for the internet This morning while everyone else got up ridiculously early to run to stores, I slept in. When we woke up it was time to do Christmas shopping. So Robyn stayed upstairs and I went downstairs and we got all our shopping done. Admittedly, it took me almost 45 minutes to find all the things I wanted to get Robyn and something great for everyone else. But compared to the hours upon hours that others were spending, I definitely had my testimony of the internet strengthened.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

IDK My BFF Jared W

So I recently created a fan page for my good friend Jared W on facebook. I felt it was important that all fans of Jared W should have a place where they can discuss recent Jared W sightings, share their appreciation for Jared W or even just have raving, screaming girls that fawn over Jared W. As part of my function as the administrator of this most important page I was converting a powerpoint that one of his friends made, about why girls should date Jared W, to video, so I could post it to the fan page. Of course, once it was converted it was important that I use it to do a little Jared W tribute.

I'm not the first to do a tribute to Jared W on a blog. Kayli did one a while back on his birthday. Jared and I have known each other since sometime around Kindergarten age. He's a little over a year younger than me which is alot when that's 20% of your life as it is in Kindergarten, so we didn't get to be good friends until sometime in the high school years. When I was a missionary I wrote him. When he was a missionary he wrote me. (That meant that we actually recieved replies during the months that our missions overlapped.)

We've been through lots of good times. We were always each other's wingmen in meeting girls. We've played countless hours of Super Smash Brothers together. (If we were to string all of our smash time together it would probably be over a month of consecutive time. I'm a little ashamed to think of how much time we've spent on that game.)

We've discussed politics, movies, books, people and basically every subject. Jared has taught me so many things about life and we've always been there to build each other up when times get hard. Basically, Jared is an all around great guy, which is why I would like to invite all single girls that are reading this to date Jared W. If you'd like to know more about him you can read his blog or you can contact me for more information. The following video will get you started on the reasons you should date him.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What You Need

The title of today's post comes from an episode from Season 1 of The Twilight Zone where there is a character who sells everyone exactly what they need. He enters a cafe where he first gives a woman a vial of cleaner. Then, he gives a down-on-his-luck ex-baseball player bus tickets. The ball player receives a job offer in the city the tickets are for; and the ball player needs his jacket cleaned, which the woman just happens to have the cleaner for. The episode continues until he is harassed by one man who continually wants him to let him know what else he needs. As is often the case, the episode ends with a chilling twist that I won't spoil for you here. If you'd like to watch it sometime, come over to my house and we'll watch it together.

Why am I telling you about this episode? Well, today's post is about my thoughts on a fabulous website that has the same powers as the little old man in the twilight zone. It has the magical ability to tell me exactly what I need on a daily basis. Of course, the website I speak of is W00t! and its sister website sellout.woot. For those of you unfamiliar with these websites, they sell exactly one item each day and when it runs out you just have to wait until the next day to see what they are selling. Every day, it seems that I need exactly what they are selling. For example, just the other day they were selling a memory card that would go perfect with my phone. Or when I saw a really cool power squid at Bed Bath and Beyond and no one got it for me even though I registered for it, soon thereafter one appeared on W00t!. Since being married and having a more restricted (and more sensible) budget I've had to convince myself I don't need everything they sell. But someday when I'm uber wealthy I'll just be on standing order and they will just automatically ship me the item of the day.

I just wanted to express my appreciation for such a great website. And I want everyone to know that anything on W00t! is free game to purchase for me for Christmas, Birthdays, Thursdays, We love Jeff days or any other day that you may buy me something.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My First Moniversary

Today is my first Moniversary. (I know that's not a word, or at least it wasn't until I made it up. But now that I made it up it means the day that is exactly one month after my wedding day.)
Robyn already put up wedding pics and several others including Mom, Ann, Kayli and Carol have posted some pics and thoughts. I will be taking a little different approach. I don't have lots of cool pictures or anything. I don't have any super fabulous words of wisdom. But I just wanted to share a few of the adventures we've had in getting to know one another.

1. Our amazing Honeymoon. I already wrote about it here but I just had to mention it because we had so much fun.

2. Hitting Robyn in the face. I have no memory of this event, but apparently one night I rolled over and started tapping on Robyn's head. She impatiently said, "WHAT!?" Only to hear me snore in response. I was totally asleep.

3. Robyn's tyrannical takeover of the entire bed She's half my size but takes up way more space. It's one of those paradoxes, similiar to how she can be cold even when the room is hot.

4. The DVD Extravaganza I was sad that all of the wedding presents were for Robyn. (Yes, I recognize that I benefit from them when she cooks me stuff.) So Robyn took me to Target and we spent a bunch of our gift cards on DVDs. I was a happy boy.

5. Becoming Superheroes After we got the DVDs another gift came in the mail that was something I too could enjoy. Ann gave us capes. (Some people might call them towels)

That is just a few of the fun adventures we've had. But the most fun adventure has just been getting to know each other better and beginning the start of a new life together. Happy Moniversary!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The New Regime

Normally, I pride myself on being a fairly positive person. Unfortunately, I'm not feeling very positive right now so I apologize in advance for the somewhat negative approach of this post. I just watched the speech of our new President Elect. Our country has just elected the most socialist leader that we've had to date. Why am I concerned by this? Well, I'd like to share a quote by someone I respect greatly both for the position he held as Prophet, Seer and Revelator as well as the position he held in government as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Of course I speak of Ezra Taft Benson. In a BYU devotional he gave in 1968, he told the following story:

“I have talked face to face with the godless communist leaders. It may surprise you to learn that I was host to Mr. Khrushchev for a half day when he visited the United States, not that I’m proud of it. I opposed his coming then, and I still feel it was a mistake to welcome this atheistic murderer as a state visitor. But, according to President Eisenhower, Khrushchev had expressed a desire to learn something of American Agriculture — and after seeing Russian agriculture I can understand why. As we talked face to face, he indicated that my grandchildren would live under communism. After assuring him that I expected to do all in my power to assure that his and all other grandchildren will live under freedom he arrogantly declared in substance:

“ ‘You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept communism outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism. We won’t have to fight you. We’ll so weaken your economy until you’ll fall like overripe fruit into our hands.’

Mason Weaver, a favorite author of mine, said something similiar when defining the difference between socialism and communism in his book, It's OK to Leave the Plantation he said: "A communist is a socialist in a hurry. Socialism is a gradual process on many fronts. It will grow on you like cancer. Communism is the result of a revolution and is very rapid. We are ready for communism, but are defenseless against the onslaught of socialism."

It honestly scares me when I think of the shape that our economy is in right now and I imagine what more social programs will do as they continue to tax our economy. Our society has become so inundated with the mentality of entitlement. Citizens of our country are slowly trading their dignity, self reliance and self respect for the easy road of handouts. Of course, many will ask, "what of those in need? Shouldn't the government help them?" The answer is no. That is not the role of government. That is the role of private charities and churches, most of which are very good at it. (The welfare program of the LDS church is truly phenomenal.)

In his book, The Mainspring of Human Progress Henry Grady Weaver said:
"Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their own ... The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional 'do-gooders,' who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others - with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means."

I could go on forever about the danger our country is in. But I won't further bore those of you that actually read this far. I apologize again for my negative nature. I'll try to make my next post happy and joyful. But, for now, enjoy this tongue in cheek video that Glenn Beck made to commemorate the new regime.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sweet, Sweet Honeymoon

Well, Robyn and I got home yesterday from our honeymoon. We had an awesome time and it was way fun but it's also good to be home again. We haven't gathered all the pictures of the actual wedding day yet. I'm sure we'll post those somewhere soon but for now I thought it would be fun to share where we went for our honeymoon. We rented a great little cabin in Ogden canyon for the week. It was a cozy little place to be away from everything and it allowed us to feel like we were away from it all, without really being away from it all. We were about 20 minutes outside of Ogden so we went into town to go out to eat and even went out to a movie once. We also were able to do picnics in the woods and go to a cute little diner called Eats of Eden in Eden, Utah which was about 3 miles from our cabin.

Without further ado, here are just a few of the pictures we took on our honeymoon.

This was the view of the front of our cabin.

This was the view outside the windows from the main living area of the cabin.

View from the back porch

Inside the kitchen

The main living area

Robyn and I took a hike and had a picnic in a national forest area that was about a half mile away from our cabin

Isn't she precious?

Me posing for a picture.

The classic Robyn pose.

Anyone that knows Robyn knows that this is how much of our vacation was spent.

Robyn doing an artsy shot of the leaves.

This creek ran through the property of the cabin we were staying at.

We're just so cute.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What I've Been Up To

On top of putting together the plans for the wedding, Robyn and I have some other projects we've been working on. The first one is a little project we've been helping Disney with called High School Musical 3. Below is a little sample to show you how it's coming along.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Diagram of an Engaged Couple

Look at the above picture. Aren't we precious? Before you read any more I want you to study it and determine if you can tell that we are engaged. Look for any visual cues that may differentiate us as an engaged couple rather than a couple that is just dating or already married. Just do it, it will make more sense after you read on, but for now just study the picture.

Okay, now I have a story to tell. Yesterday, Robyn and I went to go get our marriage license. We had to go to the county offices in Provo. There are about 8 kajillion buildings and we were struggling to figure out which one was the one we should go to. We walked into one building and quickly figured out that was not where we were supposed to be, when a woman came out of an office and asked if we had found what we were looking for. Robyn said "no" and was about to ask where to go for marriage licenses. But before she was able to ask, the woman said, "marriage licenses are in the next building over."

This prompted a discussion between Robyn and myself as to how precious we must look. We talked about how we want to buck the trend and stay just as precious forever and always. (Note: We do recognize that what we term precious, others term gross, and that is just fine.) Clearly preciousness must be the indicator to let this woman know that we are engaged. But it got me thinking, "Are there specific attributes that show our preciousness?" So I decided to take the above picture and do some diagramming of some of the attributes that I think show our preciousness. Let me know what you think. Are there other attributes you would add? Are Robyn and I just so dang precious you can't handle it?

If you can't see my additions very well, you can click on it to view a larger image.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

God Bless America

I've been doing some pondering. I've been pondering the future and I've been pondering the past. Today is somewhat of an important date. It marks exactly one month until I get married and exactly 7 years ago that the twin towers were destroyed by terrorists. My last post was about my thoughts on the former, so I think I'll focus my thoughts on the latter for this post.

Seven years ago today I was in the middle of serving a mission for the LDS church. I was serving in Casper, Wyoming. As you all know, the towers were hit pretty early in the morning. I was just doing my morning routine which means that I was sitting at my desk reading my scriptures. The phone rang and I answered it. It was my zone leaders. They called with a message that I didn't understand, it went something like this. "Elder Stockett, you need to get to a member's house and watch TV." Now, this is not a message you usually hear from your leaders while serving a mission so I questioned them about what the heck was going on. "There's been a terrorist attack, the World Trade Center towers have been destroyed, the Pentagon has been hit and I think they're going to hit the White House next, probably more stuff, we don't know much. We just got a call ourselves and we turned on the radio." I informed them that this wasn't a very funny joke. At this point they stuck the radio up to the phone so that I could hear for myself that they were serious. So we did as we were told and found a place to watch TV. We didn't do much work that day. It seemed pointless, everyone was glued to their TV. But, over the next few weeks we were able to accomplish alot. People were much more willing to open their hearts to God.

Today, as I pondered that experience, it brought back some of the feelings I had that day. I remember thinking that I was so grateful for my freedom. I was grateful for the men and women who were fighting against the evils that were trying to take it from us. I was grateful that we were free to share the gospel. Today I'm grateful that we haven't lost that freedom, despite all the opposition that is out there. I'm grateful that I have the freedom to go the temple with the girl I love and be married to her for eternity. I'm grateful for capitalism and free enterprise which allow me to work to provide for my future family. I hope that we, as a nation, never stop cherishing that freedom that we have.

As I was pondering all these things I pulled some books off my shelf, and I thought I'd share a few things from them. I first want to share a quote from Thomas Paine. Though I don't agree with everything he ever wrote, this quote from "The American Crisis" rings true to me. He said, "Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly:- 'Tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to set a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated."

Patrick Henry said, "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?-Forbit it, Almighty God!-I know not what course others may take, but, as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

I've never had to put my life on the line for my freedom and I'm very grateful for those who have done so for me. One way I feel that I can personally fight for freedom is to involve myself in the political process by making myself aware of what candidate will best protect my freedom. I thought about writing some of my thoughts on the upcoming election, but I then thought about how neat it was during the weeks following 9/11 that there were no liberals or conservatives, no Republicans or Democrats, there were just Americans. So, though I will go back to being a conservative tomorrow, and I very well may write about my thoughts on the election in upcoming weeks or months, today I am just proud to be an American and I am grateful to be blessed with freedom.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The winding trail ahead.

As many of you already know, Robyn and I got engaged a few weeks ago. If you don't already know the story of how I proposed you can check out Robyn's blog and read all about it. I figured since several others have also written about me being engaged (including, but not limited to Jared, Ann and Carrie) it was probably about time that I write something myself. The story has already been covered very well so I thought I'd just share a few of my thoughts on the experience of being engaged. To help illustrate my thoughts I would like to share this picture.

This is a picture of the trail leading to the meadow where I proposed to Robyn.
I include it here because it is a place of great memories for me, obviously, but I think the picture itself carries great symbolism.

The picture shows a trail ahead, but the trail winds off to where you can no longer see where it leads. Yet you can see enough to know that it will take you to a beautiful place. Being engaged is like that for me. I don't know exactly what to expect, but I know that where I'm going will be wonderful. The trail slopes upward slightly. That means it will take work to travel along that trail. You can see mountains far in the distance. This indicates that this turn in the trail is not the end of the journey. Rather, the journey is really just beginning.

Standing where I am, looking at the trail ahead, anticipating the adventures to come I feel great excitement and joy, but at the same time there is the slight fear of the unknown. Of course, for me, the hardest part, is that I have made the decision to turn that corner and now I just have to wait until October 11th, to actually get the chance to see what lies ahead.

But the best part is knowing that when I do turn that corner it will be hand in hand with my love. In Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo Baggins addresses his nephew, Frodo, and says, "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road and if you don't keep your feet there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." I don't know where this road may sweep me off to, but I do know that whatever joys and sorrows lie ahead, we will face them side by side for all eternity.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Memory Tag

Today's post is not a story by me. Today, the story is by you. I got this memory tag from Robyn's blog and I thought it sounded fun. So here are the instructions:

1. Leave a comment of a memory of ME!
2. Put these instructions on your blog so I can visit you and leave a memory I have of you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The progressive Shave

I know this post is a couple weeks over due, but I have had many inquiries from those who wanted to see pictures of the progressive steps I went to as I shaved my beard. But, first, for those who don't know the story of my beard, I must tell it. My girlfriend, Robyn went to Hawaii without me for 2 whole weeks. I missed her very, very, very much and so I decided to have some sort of symbol to show my protest of her leaving me. The symbol I chose was that I wouldn't shave until I saw her again. After 2 weeks of not seeing each other we were so excited to be together again but she was a little wierded out because she had never seen me with a beard before. She gave me a big hug and a little tiny peck because she was frightened to kiss me. Since we had been reunited I decided it was time to shave it off but I shaved it in stages. After each stage I would emerge from the bathroom and Robyn would be in charge of giving me a kiss and taking my picture. Without further ado here are the stages:

Stage 1. This is what I looked like before shaving.

Stage 2. Shaved my cheeks

Stage 3. Goatee and Sideburns

Stage 4. Goatee without sideburns

Stage 5. The ugly Handlebar mustache. (Robyn would not kiss me at this stage)

Stage 6. The Mustache. (Robyn reluctantly kissed me at this stage.)

Stage 7. Cleanly shaven. Happy reunion. (this is a picture of Robyn and I on a hike the next day.)

Epilogue: A few days later I ran into a friend of ours at the grocery store. Upon seeing that my beard had been shaved she got really excited because she knew that meant Robyn was home so she straightaway went to Robyn's apartment to see her. It turns out everyone loves Robyn.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wikipedia might make your face spontaneously combust.

Warning: The following post contains spoilers about the plot of Indiana Jones: The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

For those of you who are mocking the above warning, I just want you all to know that I am a movie purist, I would be very offended if a movie was spoiled for me without my consent. Since the movie is still in theaters I figure there may still be some purists out there who haven't seen it. (Although, let's be honest, they saw it on opening day like I did.)

Anyway, today's thoughts are somewhat related to that movie, but they are thoughts that I had a few days back while I was at work. So here's the scoop: So as most people who know me have come to find out, I'm a fairly curious person and often in conversation something will come up that I don't know enough about and so I'll usually research it and the next day I'll tell the person I was talking to that I found out more and they'll usually act interested but secretly be thinking about how I'm kind of a geek. Well, at work, I often have those conversations, only the difference is, I'm sitting at a computer so I bust out google or wikipedia and find the answer then and there.

Well, I was talking to my friend Mike, there was something we both didn't know about and so he said I should bust out wikipedia (he knows the drill by know.) That's when I stopped and said, "wait, what if my face bursts into flames?" He was confused by that question and rightfully so. But let me help you understand my train of thought: In the climax of Indiana Jones, the bad guys return the crystal skull to the aliens and they decide to give a gift of knowledge to Col. Dr. Irina Spalko (played by Cate Blanchett) They begin downloading all the information they have to offer, and at first she is so excited to gain this knowledge. But then suddenly her brain overheats or something and her face bursts into flames. At this point she was less excited, based on the fact that her face was burning and she was screaming. This is where my concern lies. What if the human brain overheats when the hard drive is full? I consider myself fairly knowledgable, I learn new things everyday. What if I'm reaching my limits?

At this point, Mike and I stopped discussing whatever we were discussing and decided instead to discuss what would cause my face to burst into flames. We decided it is most likely not a problem of filling up the space, that really wouldn't make sense. More likely it was the speed of downloading the information that caused the overheating. If this theory is true then I should be safe reading wikipedia, as long as I don't read it too fast. So, I'm going to try to slow down for safety's sake. But, if you don't see me for a while it's likely my theory was wrong and I gained too much information. If that is the case, look for me near a computer or possibly in a library or bookstore. But be prepared for a mess, my face may have melted.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Holes in my life

Today's interesting story is actually two interesting stories, but they both took place in the past week and they both involve holes. As such, I felt it was appropriate to bring them together into one post.

The first story is the story of the hole in my wall.

I'm not sure if you can tell the size of the hole in the picture. There is nothing in the picture to really refer to. So I'll just tell you, the hole is about 2 and a half feet wide and about 4 feet tall. It's a pretty good hole. It's also a pretty good story. So the story starts with the smell. I don't want to get into the story of the smell, because there was quite a battle fought to defeat the smell, and that battle was about a week long but it's not that interesting of a story. Let's just say that there were lots of smelly things that were destroyed. The last smelly thing was the refrigerator that had died. I don't know how long it was dead, we weren't really using that fridge anymore but it still had some random food in it that went very very very bad.

Once we discovered that fridge as the source of the smell it had to be vanquished immediately. So, clearly Zack and I decided to vanquish it ourselves. We put it on the dolly, making sure to secure the door closed so that no smell (or goo or other strange entities) could escape. We were using all of our might to get it up the stairs. We were doing well but we decided we needed to rest. We stopped with about 2 more stairs to go up, and just held it in place. I was holding it from below and Zack was holding in from above. Well, somehow it started coming down toward me. Zack apparently lost hold of it and in an effort to save me from certain death he yelled, "Move! Move! Move!" In an effort to save myself from certain death I did such things as move move move. Unfortunately, I didn't move fast enough. My main objective was to stay upright as I'm running backwards down the stairs. I figured if I fell over and the fridge ran over my body and landed on my face then I would be fairly unhappy, and relatively dead. So I accomplished my main objective and did, in fact, stay upright. I couldn't, however, get out of the way in time so the fridge hit me right in my stomach. I was pinned against the wall and was somewhat disheartened by the situation, since I couldn't really breathe. Zack rushed down the stairs and lifted it off me which I appreciated. As soon as the pain of having a fridge crush stopped, I realized that there was also pain in my back side. That's when I examined my location a little bit closer and realized that I was embedded in the wall. Imagine my surprise! I had gone through a wall without even realizing it. So now my wall has a very precious Jeff print in it.

On to the next story. This is the story of why there is a hole in my hand. It's not as interesting, but the picture is cooler. (I put a link to the picture instead of having it be directly in the blog, because it is somewhat gross. Most people won't mind it, but I knew Robyn wouldn't want to see it. So anyone who is not Robyn can follow the link.)

I went to the store because I needed a new and glorious barbecue. (As a side note, it was one of the greatest purchases of my life.) My roommate was helping me take it out of the truck. When he lifted it he didn't support one side very well and it started tipping. My pride and joy was about to fall to the ground and die, I was not going to allow this. I reached up and grabbed it on one of the stainless steel edges. I was able to safely lower it to the ground but not without the stainless steel scraping away the skin of my hand. If any of you ever eat food that was cooked on that barbecue I hope you realize the sacrifice I made.

That's all I have to say about that.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Hello World

Anyone who has ever done any kind of programming will appreciate the title of this post. For those of you who have not, I will fill you in. When you are learning a new programming language the first application you always write is the "Hello World!" application. All it does is print the words "Hello World!" to the screen. It's a chance to get your feet wet in the most basic pieces of the new language doing something really simple. Well, this is my "Hello World!" blog. I'm getting my feet wet in this new form of communication.

It has recently come to my attention that interesting stuff happens to me all the time. Most of the time I love to tell stories about the interesting stuff that happens to me. And while I do believe I am a much better story teller in person, I decided I should have a medium where I could share some stories in writing, and thus this blog was born.

Then it occurred to me that I may want to just share random thoughts as well as stories, so I have named the blog "Thoughts and stories" so that I can reserve the right to post either one of them. I look forward to sharing all the things that enter my mind.
Oh, yeah and before I forget:

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