Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Window Crisis Solved!

Today the nice man from Glass Doctor came and fixed my car window! He tried to make it so it would seal to the convertible top without wind or leaking, and even vacuumed it out of all the thousands of glass pieces. I'm so glad there are people like this who know what they're doing. It makes me wonder if I really know how to do anything, but then, I'm like... Thanks for fixing my car, and if you ever need help or consultation in the arts or film, give me a call! There was a MINOR dilemma when I was calling for prices-the first place said it was impossible to order that part except through a dealer, so it would cost almost $500 (which is outrageous, even for a window for a Beemer that old), but that person hardly spoke English, so I had to try a couple more places, and it was much more reasonable (about $150, a relief, since those old BMW parts really can be QUITE pricy).

Anyway, I'm just glad that my car is back in action. Now, IF those vandals return, they will face the wrath of me. I don't know how, especially if they do their dirty work in the dark of the night (I parked it in the light this time).

Yay! This is not a photo of my car exactly, but of a car that matches the model and year of mine. I just found this online, but now you get the idea of what my car looks like.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Should I?...

So today in the advertisement mailer from the Scera (local movie and outdoor theater) I read that they're having their 3rd annual "Celebrity" competition (link here), which is basically a knock-off local version of American Idol, and for some reason, I just kept thinking... why not? I actually know Emily Noxon, the winner from last year, so I thought it might be worth it, just for fun. It's the kind of thing where I think if I don't, I'll always wonder what if. And, the promised performances for the winner/runners-up sounds actually like a fun way to spend the next several months, and you never know what happens after that! It might be cheesy, but I've been in enough of these local competitions (as well as in the eternal lines among the throngs of hopefuls in the actual AI competition) to know to take these things for what they are. The only thing I would be out is $30 for registration fee (which at this time in my life is actually a substantial amount of cash), but I think that's not too bad for the chance to perform with a live band and for a live audience. It's just a rush to me, I guess.

So, what does everyone think? Should I go for it? What do I have to lose?

New Moon

I just finished the second installment in the Meyer vampire saga. Just to let those of you who are interested know that I am one step closer to publishing my thoughts on the series (though you might not want to hear some of it!). I will say I liked New Moon better than Twilight.

That is all.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"On an ordinary Sunday..."

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the title of this post is a lyric from a song, first from Sunday in the Park with George, and later used in a homage in Tick, Tick... BOOM! Both very good scores.

Anyway, today was Sunday. It was probably the first (or among the first) official, regular Sundays at church since I came home (when I wasn't out of town, or entertaining visitors at home, or whatev), and it was... interesting. I was very proud of myself for getting up and getting ready in plenty of time (especially after getting myself to bed at a decent hour last night), but church itself was kind of a struggle. It was so nice for once to be able to just be able to go to church and sit and listen and partake of the Sacrament enjoy the Spirit that is there, rather than going to hours of meetings, worrying about who's going to come to church and who isn't, getting everything ready, playing the organ while simultaneously preparing to translate the entire meeting, etc. It's nice to just GO to church and actually do what you normally do at church. I even pulled out my sketbchbook for the first time since I came home and did some drawings (mostly of Asian people, oh boy), and Elise even handed over several postcards that she had planned on sending me. THOSE would have been nice to read back in Appleton (though they were still nice to read here). I did have some hard times in the following classes (seemingly irrelevant and unimportant conversation that had little if anything to do with Jesus Christ), but someone in the ward mentioned that they had driven past our house on the way to church and reported that my car, like one of theirs, which I had parked innocently on the street, had been subject to mindless vandalism over the night. When we came home, I saw that her report was definitely true. The front passenger side window was pointlessly smashed by some local hooligans (I guess there has been some vandalism problems in the neighborhood recently... Park in the garage, they say... Well, I guess I could have parked it more in the light, you never know). JUST WHAT I NEED, I thought. I guess if my car HAD rolled down the hill yesterday, it wouldn't have had its window broken (only everything else, ha ha). Anyway, I couldn't really take much more of anything else, so I decided to end it all by falling into the merciful semi-consciousness of guilt-free, hours-long, Sunday afternoon napping. I woke up just in time to read a little and then head to the mission-prep class I had been invited to attend. It was really interesting as well. It has been several years since I actually attended a class like that. Even in a group of about 9 kids, you still have all kinds. I could already get a glimpse of what kind of missionary each would be. I guess I still have some of that spirit of discernment lingering from the last twenty-four months. Anyway, it was fun to report on the mission and tell them perhaps what I wished people had told me about the mission experience before I left. They're probably going to be prepared as they'll ever be when the time comes. It was actually a pretty good time, and I stayed until it was over. Then, driving home, I remembered that Elise and Jeff were having their announcement photo shoot in the park, so I took that route home. I sat with Mom, Dad and Cortnie for a while, while Matt and Travie took pictures of the young people in love (who are "very seldom hungry"!) and Jackson entertained himself by throwing sticks and rocks into the stream. Elise said I had a "growth coming out of my ear", which was, of course, my headphones (hey, I only had one ear bud in, I was totally aware of what was going on and being said around me... It's just like having a soundtrack to my life! I have a lot of music to catch up on).

So yes, it was a pretty interesting Sabbath. Maybe this was a boring post to read. Maybe you lost interest halfway through. That's totally fine. I'm just sad that my car is minus one window. It's so expensive to fix and keep up. Darn those ancient foreign cars! But at least it's relatively in one piece. Count your blessings, right?

P.S. I don't know HOW my car was even put into neutral yesterday. I mean, if I was going to shift out of drive, why into neutral? Could it have rolled in drive? I guess it could. It's hard to remember because the guide that holds the stick in place is loose, so I can't quite recall what gear it was in. I just wish I had turned the tires into the curb so it would have been stopped by that. Oh, whatever. Peace out.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rescued by a parked car...

So today I went to dinner with Meg, a friend from the old Glenwood days, back in town for BYU's commencement and a few days of seeing old friends. I was so proud of myself, finding her sister's house perfectly, without writing down address or directions, and without even taking a wrong turn. I turned off the car and walked to her door, and imagine my surprise when we walked back to the curb and my car had vanished! My eyes immediately followed the road or twenty-five or thirty feet ahead when I saw my car parked dangerously close to another car that had been parked on the side of the road. That's right, my friends, I left my car in neutral and it rolled several yards until the other car stopped its progress (yay for Laws of Motion!). Meg laughed and I was absolutely crimson with embarrassment, but at the same time incredibly grateful that the neighbors had parked this car in exactly this spot. It was just far enough from where I had parked that my car hadn't had enough time to get a LOT of momentum (thereby diminishing the amount of damage done, if any at all), and at the same time stopping my car from rolling down the increasingly steep slope, into absolute oblivion, and who knows what damaging end. I examined the collision spot on both bumpers, and I could see a little bit of plastic trimming had cracked off of the top of mine, and could notice hardly anything on theirs... maybe a little scratch on the left side of the already-scratched and -dented bumper. Still, I wouldn't feel right without leaving a note.

The funniest (and most awkward) part of the story is this: After backing the car up to examine the damage, I commented I was definitely going to blog about this tonight, and Meg noted that I should probably have taken a picture with the cars touching (I had serendipitously left my camera in the car a few days earlier). We decided to reenact the moment, so I pulled forward ever so slowly while she gestured the distance between cars until we had made slight contact. I noticed a woman across the street looking at us through her window with an absolutely perplexed expression. I waved at her awkwardly while Meg took the photo, and then, the woman and her daughter emerged and crossed the street. I explained the situation thoroughly, and they seemed mostly amused, a little confused, but hardly bothered at all. She said her son would probably not even notice the damage, if any at all (she didn't notice any), but I let them know I left a note with my number regardless. Another good thing was that Meg had actually met the woman and her family, so had a somewhat friendly previous connection. I felt like such an idiot.

This is just what needs to happen on my first official date since coming home. I PROMISE I know that you're supposed to put the car in 'park' when you pull over and get out, and now Meg will probably never let me live it down! You live and learn, I guess, and nevertheless, we both agreed that it was a fun and interesting story, and made for an eventful Saturday evening.

The best part: You can see the woman coming out of her door in this picture!
She must have thought we were insane!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

LOST is back!

For those who are still unaware, or living on an uncharted and mysterious island somewhere, LOST is back after a mind-numbing hiatus of who-knows-how-long (I actually really don't know how long it's been, I've only been caught up for a week or two). It was awesome and in as rare form as ever! If you're not into LOST yet, I recommend you get into it posthaste! (See my previous LOST post for more details.)

Seasons 1-3 are available for watching, not only on DVD, but also full episodes on the official ABC website. I'm still amazed you can just watch complete episodes of these shows online.

Another note of interest, if you would rather, here is a very amusing video of "Everything You Need to Know About LOST in 8 Minutes, 15 Seconds".

Running in the Snow!

Click me! I'm animated!

I was just getting ready to head out on my run today when I looked outside and was taken aback at the sight of falling snow! What a beautiful and unexpected turnout for the weather! Unlike most people, I actually love the winter and the snow, so had no real problem with the record-breaking snows this year in the midwest, and even a couple of really nice flurries since I arrived home. I decided to go ahead and run through it. I'd really missed running, though there were periods on my mission when I would run frequently (when I was training, we ran at least three times a week), but I prefer to run alone, where I can keep my own pace and not worry that I'm holding other people back from running as they like. So, I went on my run, and such an interesting effect! The snow falling, the wind blowing, the cold air, and the steam rising off of the warm street. It added to the already refreshing and cleansing and therapeutic effect that running has on me. I don't run very fast or very long, but it's enough, and I have my music and my thoughts, and as is practically inevitable, inspiration struck... I think I'm going to be writing later today...

Of course, the snow didn't last too long, and didn't stick to the ground at all. It was done by the time I came home, but as I went about my business today, it's been on and off. Heavenly Father loves me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A quick post about Mormon Movies

Oh, yeah, and I'm currently in a bit of a tiff because of the state of current Mormon cinema... The most recent two were just atrocious. I can't even bring myself to review them in detail, I just want to forget all about them, but I post this about them as a word of warning. Watch them if you must, but they are getting worse and worse.

As for my opinion, the only "Mormon Movies" that have meant anything at all are Richard Dutcher's, because they actually SAY something (not to mention a relatively high level of cinematic production quality). His aren't movies made merely to mock Mormons. It is sad to me that the degeneration of the genre that he pioneered seems to have had a significant hand in his decision to leave the Church. :(

Maybe someday I'll do a more substantial dissertation on my thoughts about Mormon movies.

A couple of thoughts on a relevant social topic...

Yes, today, we have thoughts from both the science and faith camps. Interesting what a little research can do. It's good news to me, anyway.

First, from the scientists--APA changes their stance on the origins of homosexuality:

"In 1998, the American Psychological Association (APA) published a brochure titled 'Answers to Your Questions about Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality.'

"This particular document was ostensibly published to provide definitive answers about homosexuality. However, few of the assertions made in the brochure could find any basis in psychological science. Clearly a document anchored more in activism than in empiricism, the brochure was simply a demonstration of how far APA had strayed from science, and how much it had capitulated to activism.

"The newest APA brochure, which appears to be an update of the older one, is titled, 'Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality.'

"Though both brochures have strong activist overtones (both were created with "editorial assistance from the APA Committee on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns"), the newer document is more reflective of science and more consistent with the ethicality of psychological care.

"Consider the following statement from the first document:

'There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality.'

"That statement was omitted from the current document and replaced with the following:

'There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles...' " (Source)
And now, from the faith side--Early iteration of something about which we currently desperately need reminding:

"There is some widely accepted theory extant that homosexuality is inherited. How can this be? No scientific evidence demonstrates absolutely that this is so. Besides, if it were so, it would frustrate the whole plan of mortal happiness. Our designation as men or women began before this world was. In contrast to the socially accepted doctrine that homosexuality is inborn, a number of respectable authorities contend that homosexuality is not acquired by birth. The false belief of inborn homosexual orientation denies to repentant souls the opportunity to change and will ultimately lead to discouragement, disappointment, and despair.

"Any alternatives to the legal and loving marriage between a man and a woman are helping to unravel the fabric of human society. I am sure this is pleasing to the devil. The fabric I refer to is the family. These so-called alternative lifestyles must not be accepted as right, because they frustrate God’s commandment for a life-giving union of male and female within a legal marriage as stated in Genesis. If practiced by all adults, these lifestyles would mean the end of the human family" (President Faust, 1995, source).

So... Now and then there is something irrefutable said. There will be those who still argue, but let them! The flailings and rantings of the mistaken are easily clouded and shadowed by the resounding ring of truth.

Monday, April 21, 2008

One more thought for the night...

For some inexplicable reason, I was rereading some old blog posts tonight (by myself and others), and I just had to put this out there somewhere...

I have always found it amusing that failure to respond to a particularly acidic or hateful tirade against yourself is often seen as cowardice, or inability to adequately answer the "debate". I actually think it much more a mature refusal to respond to fallible and pointless arguments, refusing to validate and dignify such weakness with a response. Sometimes it's just better to let lying dogs lie, and not give them further forum or reason to spew poison and hatred when you're just better off letting them think they had the last word. I mean, I could sit there and childishly argue and spam up blogs for months (I REALLY could, and in years past, I have done), but is it going to do any good? Sometimes a third party might be helped, but I think sometimes it's much more worth it to, as they say, "turn tail." There are also always those friends who agree with you, but are afraid to post their thoughts, lest someone should attack them equally as viciously. It's pretty amusing to me when people actually announce that they're going to get personal. Not even an attempt at hiding their true colors! Bravo!

Something else I've been thinking yet again about is how quickly labels like "bigot" and "hateful" and "intolerant" (and a veritable horde of others) are thrown out there, when, seriously, those exact words can be turned around to describe the person using them! Honestly, almost every time! It's so interesting how people just don't realize that when you call names in this kind of venue, it's such a weak and transparent attack! It shows immeasurably more about the person attacking than the person they're trying to tear down. That's another reason why it's sometimes best to just let them have the "last say." If it makes them feel important, why not give it to them? I mean, it's a classic bullying tactic--try to tear down someone else to make yourself feel bigger and cover your own insecurities. It mostly just makes me very sad actually.

I've been wondering if I should add some of these incredibly revealing and transparent personal attacks in my forthcoming book... It's perfectly legal if the names are withheld, or changed.

"Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you by experience."


Kuab Ci= 1,000,000
Antagonists= -1

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Egg Rolls!

So, today I finally gave my "homecoming" address (though, as it was pointed out to me, I made little if any reference to mission stories... I just don't feel like that's what Sacrament Meeting is for. If you really want to be bored by my stories, ask me in a different venue), which I helmed the production of several dozen Hmong egg rolls! For those who don thought turned out well, and I was very grateful for all the friends and family who came to show their love, and also those who came to the house afterward. This is the real reason for this post, because this was the first time that I't know, Hmong egg rolls are quite different than regular egg rolls, in manner of production and ingredients/flavor, and really, once you taste Hmong egg rolls, you never go back. (I generally take an egg roll when I visit a Chinese buffet, for tradition's sake, but I can't stomach more than a bite.) I have eaten Hmong egg rolls many times, and have even participated in the egg roll-making process once or twice, though this was my first time leading the event. I was amazed at the ease with which we were able to find the ingredients (though I think I'll do a couple of things differently next time... different wrappers).

So, the basic process included the mixing of the ingredients (eggs, ground beef, cabbage, cilantro, carrots, green onions, bell peppers, whatever your heart so desires in addition), rolling them in the wrappers and then deep frying them in boiling vegetable oil! It was lovely to have a lot of help from Lacie, Elise, Mom and Dad in the preparing and the rolling last night, and then from many helpers this morning after church with the frying. I have to say that I think they were a big hit! I myself was (almost) perfectly satisfied with how they turned out, and was just relieved that they were well-received. It was nice to have a little bit of the last two years find its way into the rest of my current life. In addition to the egg rolls (kab yaub), we had sticky rice (mov nplaum) and chili peppers (kua txob), as well as assorted fruits and other Asian treats, such as homemade fortune cookies by Matt and Cortnie and the deluxe ramen/cabbage salad by Melody! It was a lovely spread of food and friends, and a good time was had by all.

For those who missed out on the egg rolls, for whatever reason, I'm sure I can be convinced to make them again sometime...

The finished product

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Politically Incorrect?

In a recent comment, it has been pointed out that I am not "the most politically correct person in the world." I am glad to own this understatement! To me, lately more than ever, being politically correct usually means merely to lower your standards and water things down to appease the masses. I'm not interested in appeasing the masses. What I'm interested in is standing for the right, regardless of the flak that is thrown in my face (which, inevitably, is thrown). If saying what I know to be true means being politically incorrect, then so be it. The time has come that we can no longer go out of our way to be politically correct. The time has come that we have to stand up. Quiet dissent is often mistaken for assent, and if we filter things down in an effort of being unnecessarily "nice", we will miss great opportunities to help others. Of course we must be kind and loving, but at the same time unyielding in our principles.

"The time is past when we can merely believe in this Gospel... We must be passionate in our belief and in our commitment to Jesus Christ and His plan."

- Elaine Jack, former Relief Society President

To me, that means we have to be firm in our foundation and not sway when opposition comes. If that means now and then failing to be politically correct, I guess that's the way it goes sometimes. I've always been outspoken, and I guess I've learned that sometimes I get carried away and say too much of what I feel (or, rather, what I feel at the moment), but I've never been ashamed that I stand for my beliefs. I believe that is what we are counseled to do time and again by our Church leaders.


Ugh, I hate being sick! For some reason today I woke up and felt icky from top to bottom, inside and out! A few hours throughout the day spent in the restroom, napping, watching The Office, and I feel a little better... I am SO glad this didn't hit me three days ago!

Some Thoughts on Tolerance….

I guess part of the problem with communication of my blog here lately has been one of misunderstanding of my motives. I guess those who don't know me and my background may have thought my post was a total hate-rant against people who are struggling with a particular issue. This is not the case. As I stated, and have stated many times, I truly believe in the doctrine of loving all of God's children, regardless of the mistakes they make or the opinions they hold. I seriously believe (and I think a lot of people simply cannot grasp this concept) that it's possible to love (read: 'tolerate') someone and not approve of or accept (or tolerate) their behavior or beliefs. Behavior is entirely independent of worth. Nothing can change our innate divine identity and worth, nor God's love for us, though He definitely can disapprove of some of the choices we make, and hopes that we do what it takes to fix it. "Love the sinner and hate the sin" is a very true principle, luckily, or who would love me? This principle is not only true, but necessary to adopt. We are all sinners, and to imagine that our love and respect must be reserved for perfect people only limits our circle of friends significantly.

While I completely disapprove of the homosexual lifestyle and behavior, I have many friends and acquaintances who are currently living it. We don't agree on many things. That doesn't mean I don't love them. And that doesn't mean they're not children of God. And that doesn't mean I'll sit by and say nothing about how I feel on the subject. And that doesn't mean it won't be passionate.

There you go. Believe it or don't.

My recent aversion to the razor....

Au yau! I have done what I always accused scrub R.M.s of doing!!! Grown a beard, not even within a month of coming home! I promise it's not an outward sign of inward rebellion to authority and all that we hold dear! I'm not a scrub! I'm just tired of shaving for a while! I usually shave for church, it's just been a couple of weeks since I'm formally gone to church. And anyway, I boasted my entire mission of how great I look with a goatee. HA.

Another CA moment...

Last Saturday, for the first time in over 24 months, I submerged myself completely in outdoor water! The closest I came to that was last summer, knee-deep in Lake Michigan, but now, completely! First in the Pacific Ocean, and then in the hotel pool! It was unbelievably refreshing, and I'm really surprised at how I had forgotten how glorious it feels. For those who are unaware, missionary rules prohibit swimming, so I was looking forward to getting back in the pool.

Just had to report that.

The Year of a Million Dreams!

And now, for something completely different!!! And on a much lighter tone...


Ah, two days in the Happiest Place on Earth! Though my age and recent constitution renders me queasy at prolonged exposure to thrill rides, and I was quite exhausted from the flight and recent events, we had a fantastic time! There's just such a glow and calm (yes, calm! Even amid the teeming masses!) that fills me there, and while I prefer a less-crowded Disneyland to a more-crowded one, I'll take what I can get! The crowds and weather were actually perfect this time, maybe a tad too crowded to be considered ideal, it was definitely manageable. We hardly stood in line for longer than 20 minutes (except for the occasional exception--now and then one has to be made...). This time, in addition to Elise and Amber & Co., we went with another younger sister, her husband and baby, both of whom had never been before. It's always a kind of antsy feeling, waiting to see someone's first reaction to Disneyland, especially never having been there as a child, and therefore not having the benefit of nostalgia to make the trip special. But I am glad to say Jonny seemed quite impressed and had a great time. He's all about the big, fast rides, but he still maintained that Pirates of the Caribbean was one of his favorites. (Incidentally, I was underwhelmed with the inclusion of Jack Sparrow and Davey Jones... Interesting effect, cool animatronics, but really, it just adds that much more. Nothing groundbreaking as I had been led to think.)

Highlights: Seeing one of my old mission buddies, Brian Hood, along with some family and friends who drove up from San Diego (season passes--jealous!!!), and taking a day at the end of the vacation to just rest--no frantic running around, no major plans, just relaxing, visiting local sites, spending time with family, recouping. A more notable of my highlights was the new Submarine Voyage, and much thanks to Elise, the only one willing to stand through the gratuitously long line with me on our last night. It's such a huge part of my childhood, and I was always so devastated that it was closed, I just couldn't let the trip go without riding the newly-renovated, Nemo-themed attraction. It wasn't disappointing, just what I hoped it would be, and had some really great animated effects. It's not the most efficient attraction, line-wise and logistically, but I still enjoyed it a lot. Now, if only Ariel had somehow made it into those waters...

Next up, the long-gone sky ride! Bring it back, boys!

Monday, April 14, 2008


So, at the request of my little sister, I have finished Twilight today, the first in the strangely-phenomenal Stephenie Meyer vampire series... It is as I expected. I will reserve my rant for when I have finished the most recent book...

A Surprising Turn of Events

Wow. My life as an R.M. has taken an unexpected turn. I feel like my standards and principles have remained largely unchanged since I left, except maybe being a little more solidified and centered on the love of God and Jesus Christ and the changing, enabling power of the Atonement, since that has been the focus of my life for the last 24 months. Imagine my surprise, then, when those who I had considered my friends and allies, those who I was so grateful thought like I did on these important and relevant issues, suddenly turned on me! I am totally used to being harassed and called names by the "other side" (who, ironically, exhibit prime examples of the same unsavory adjectives of which they accuse me), but to be turned on like this by people who wrote me and supported me, literally, for years, people who have read my story and know better than most why I feel the way I do is a huge surprise. I am fine with people differing in opinions, though naturally I wish people would think more the way I do on certain key issues (who doesn't?), but there are some I just thought, after all they've told me and shown me, were a little more solid than they now appear to be. I guess times change, and so do people, but some of this is so bizarre. It would be unrealistic to say I'm not just a little bit hurt, but I'm more just sad that they have been taken in by the lies that society continues to feed us. It becomes increasingly difficult to be IN the world, as we are instructed, but not OF the world. Life is so hard and confusing, the only thing to really rely on is Jesus Christ and His Gospel, which I strive to do. It's easy to label my beliefs and behavior as "intolerant" and "bigoted" (oh, how cliche!), but so it is for the entire Christian mindset, if you really want to. There are those who think frowning on any kind of sinful or harmful behavior is "narrow-minded" and "unchristian." (Since, some argue, it is forcing beliefs on people and taking away agency...) So, what is it? What do we do? Do we stand for truth and righteousness or not? Do we argue for the weakness, or do we argue for the strength of the Atonement? (...Referring, of course, to the power of the Priesthood, repenting and changing through the proper channels, process and so on, and not just "saved by faith", which camp I have been accused of subscribing to) Christ may have dined with the publicans and the sinners, but he commanded people to forsake their sinful behavior! He was the perfect example of loving the sinner and hating the sin. He commanded us to judge righteously! He said He would save us FROM, not IN our sins (Helaman 5:10)! As of now, not even a month back into the game and I've already been the target of many hateful attacks and name-calling! And not only from people I barely remember from my past, but good friends as well! I'm only trying to protect the innocent and educate those who just are unaware of the dangers that are out there, based on the things I have learned from the hard times I've been through. And how is this received? With hatred and intolerance! Amazing! It's times like this that verses such as Matthew 5:10-12 mean a lot more to me.

Since when is it weak to argue in favor of the Atonement?

Anyway, just a minor rant for the moment. Of course I forgive these people. Perhaps things like this happen in the heat of the moment? It would be stupid of me to choose to take offense. I'm still just bewildered at this startling turn of events! There are those who turn tail at the first sign of conflict, but just like David (continuing with the earlier analogy, to which I will stick), we who believe in this have to stand firm. Be loving, but unrelenting. Be innocent, but not naive.

Like the Alexander Pope verse says:

"Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
we first endure, then pity, then embrace."

I would venture to add "then endorse" at the end. All that is required for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.

... And, for those who are truly interested in why I am so invested in this issue, I might as well tell. Click here for a glimpse at my story.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


On a much lighter note, as of last night I am now caught up with every episode of LOST that I missed for the last two years. It was quite a journey, and I have to say that at my viewing of the end of Season 3, the producers of this fine program have done something amazing--turned my mind completely backwards yet again. The show was always very interesting, with its backstories and the intertwining of the characters' lives, but now it has suddenly taken a completely different twist, which makes it even more interesting than it already was. The twist of including flash forwards, with even more tantalizing mysteries and clues about what's going down on everyone's favorite unidentified South Pacific island, reaffirms to me that this is the most creative and cinematic show on TV. You have to THINK to watch this show, which is so refreshing, compared to the generally mindless TV of this generation. All other shows (especially drama shows) must concede to LOST, as far as I'm concerned. There's just so much to do here--an ensemble cast, a creative story-telling method, brilliant characters and even the as yet unanswered questions. As long as you're patient, you always have something to think about with LOST. It really only takes one episode. The hook is undeniable.

Someone asked me once my favorite characters. They actually guessed, and they were right: Kate, Charlie, Claire, and now, Juliet. Whatever anyone says about her, she is intriguing, and she was TRICKED into joining the Others.

Also, on the subject, we have done the impossible. We, the original LOST Club of 2006, always on the lookout for a #16 to join our group, have found an honorary member. He may not even realize it, but when Johns joined us for a few episodes of LOST, and then, ever so slightly admitted that it was a "pretty intense" show (there was always the "24 vs. LOST" argument between us, though I told him it was pointless, since I also liked 24, though I admit not nearly as much as LOST), he admitted himself, as far as we are concerned, into the 16 slot of our number-coded club. He is by far the best #16 we have had. Welcome, Chiv Keeb.

I also have to say that I am amazed that complete episodes are available to watch online, even on the actual official website. It was quite a task to not only find, but view in decent quality any of the episodes online a couple of years ago.

My first blog tirade - David vs. Goliath

Well, here I am, about to embark on my first bonafide blogged rant. There I was this afternoon, innocently reading a teeny-bopper romance novel (I promised Elise...), actually starting to get into the drama and romance of it, when Mom, talking to Cami about the politics of college life, hesitantly informed me that BYU has changed its Honor Code in favor of homosexuality (story on Deseret News here and the actual text here).

. . . I could think of little else for several minutes after hearing this news. Mom said she hadn't wanted to tell me when I was in Wisconsin because she was sure it would upset me. I read the article--actual, verified, complete with quotes and names. I can honestly say that I am genuinely surprised by this. I remember when I was in college there was a lot of to-do about some students being expelled because of homosexual behavior, and now this? I know the "clarification" merely says that homosexual students/faculty are allowed to participate at Brigham Young University, as long as they don't act out or whatever, but that is absurd!!! They are acting out!!! I have seen it! Entertaining thoughts is behavior! What ever happened to controlling thoughts and changing and becoming? What ever happened to the Savior?? What ever happened to the all-encompassing and enabling Atonement??? Believe you me, these confused students have rationalized homosexual behavior up and down. They think it's only "fair" that they be allowed to do whatever they like, since the hetero students can. In fact, they are so entrenched in the victim mentality that they think they actually have special privileges, and are entitled to even more liberality of behavior. I am aware of the attacks against the Church in recent months and years, particularly in regards to the gay movement and agenda, and I am ALL for loving everyone as a child of God, regardless of their beliefs and opinions, but God's laws are ABSOLUTE, and nothing can change them! Judging wrong behavior as wrong is not judging a person. Why are we these days being so subtly, but SURELY, being conditioned into this? I guess it's fair to say that people who are struggling with this can still go to school, but people who are unapologetically arguing that this is actually WHO THEY ARE? And that we owe something to them just because they identify themselves as "different" and victims? People who have self-identified as someone against the creation and design of God? That is just sad and self-defeating. This is something that can and MUST be overcome, as can be attested in the experiences of thousands around the world (which is a very hopeful and Christ-centered study). In the name of being "tolerant" and "accepting", we are advocating a gospel of hopelessness, allowing our beloved brothers and sisters to walk right into the jaws of hell. We are fighting against the Philistine, but remember how David was triumphant, in spite of the seemingly unconquerable odds. And yes, I have every right to be indignant about this--I am BYU alumnus.

Chalk one up for being politically correct. Even at a private institution owned and operated by General Authorities of the true and living Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For now. . .

What's in a name?

Thinking about names, I'm reminded of a post I've been wanting to make since I started this thing. (As a note, the photo below is of me in traditional Hmong clothing, with traditional Hmong photo expression, that is, expressionless.)

As you can see, I named this blog after my Hmong name. It is a tradition among Hmong missionaries to receive a Hmong name. When in the MTC, the teachers will give us each a temporary Hmong name, but when you enter the field, in the first few days of your service, your trainer will take you to a Hmong family where they will take a good look at you, sometimes ask a little about you, and then, in a generally simple and unfrilly process, tells what your name will be. This is a seemingly simple process, but nevertheless significant. The naming of a Hmong elder means something, because that is the name by which he will be known for the rest of his life in the Hmong community. I think part of the reason for is because Hmong people have a hard time pronouncing and remembering our proper English names, and I believe it's a common practice in a lot of Asian language-speaking missions. These "new names" generally have little to nothing to do with your actual name (for example, "Kuab Ci" is not a literal translation of Graham, or even Drew). Mine means "power shine," roughly, and other names mean various things, from "blessing" to "miracle," from "Genesis" to "youngest son," from "freedom" to "hammer"! It just depends on the namer. (Incidentally, when I was named, the members who named me prepared a little meal for us, and I am told by my trainer, as I knew little of the language at the time, that during the blessing on the prayer, the head of the house blessed me and my name, that I would be a "light" to the Hmong people or whatever. It was his first elder to name, and he thought it a very special opportunity.) Generally, you also take on yourself the last name (or clan name) of the family you named you (I'm a Lee, others are Moua, Vang, Yang, etc.). You are essentially adopted into the Hmong family, having been called of God to learn the language and serve the people, and the name sort of seals the deal. New to the language, the new elder hardly knows what's going on, but the trainer will write it down for him and explain what it means. Thus goes the tradition.

Name and Identity are very important and eternal principles. When we are born, our parents think very carefully what to name their children, because not only is that what we will be known as for the rest of our lives and what will appear on official documents such as driver's license, passport and social security card, but also, for us Latter-day Saints, that is the name by which we will be known as on the records of the Church. Also, generally, our names tie us to our family, or the family into which we marry. Our identity, temporal and eternal, is a precious and priceless thing. We are so lucky to know who we are and from Whom we are descended. Throughout the scriptures, the importance of names is emphasized: Jesus Christ Himself was known as Jehovah throughout the Old Testament; Abram's name is changed to Abraham, and Jacob's to Israel, also in the Old Testament; Zacharias and Mary, respectively, being informed by angelic message that their sons will be named John and Jesus; the Nephites naming each king in succession after the original, Nephi, in tribute to his righteous leadership; Heavenly Father called Joseph Smith by name when He introduced His Beloved Son in the First Vision. Make no mistake, our Father in Heaven knows us, and by name. Our names are far more than just something used to get our attention. They define us and remind us of who we are and where we came from.

I know who I am. I didn't always. But I now also know who I can and will become. I'm grateful for the things that have happened along the way to remind me of this. Now, whether going by Andrew, Drew, Droopy-Scoopy, Drewsie, or Kuab Ci, I am who I am. I'm me. We're tied to our name(s), for now and in the eternities, in some degree, and it's important we live up to who we truly are.

Having said that, now is a good time to reveal something I've been thinking about for some months--the Hmong names that I have chosen for my family! As for now, I only have names picked for the immediate family, but others are on the way. This wasn't some random process, you know, I had to pick names that will mean something! So, here they are:

Dad - Tsim Txiaj (Having a good behavior or character, pronounced jeet dzia)
Mom - Txiaj Ntsim (Gift, pronounced dzia njeet)
Amber - Luag Ntxhi (Smile, literally "laugh whisper," pronounced loua ntsee)
Matt - Meej Pem (Exact, clear, correct, pronounced meng bait)
Cami - Tshav Ntuj (Sunshine, also mercy, literally "sunny sky," pronounced cha ndoo)
Melody - Kab Lia (Dimple, pronounced ga leah)
Emily - Txoj Sia (Life, pronounced dzah sheea)
Elise - Nkauj Suab (Beautiful voice, pronounced ngao shoua)

Some of them are somewhat common Hmong names, and some of them I just chose randomly to try and pick unique and appropriate names. This is important to me, just as my family has always been and will always be. Now we're really one clan! You also take my clan name, so we're all Lees!

So, what's in a name? Quite a lot, I guess...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Alternate names!

When I read this on Cami's blog, I thought I would post my alternate names as well. I had heard of a couple of these before, but a lot of them are new to me.

1. Your rock star name (first pet, current car): Sandy Beemer

2. Your gangsta name (fave ice cream flavour, favourite type of shoe): Cookies & Cream Sandal (I guess if I liked Chocolate or Vanilla best, this would work better)

3. Your Native American name (favourite colour, favourite animal): Blue Horse

4. Your soap opera name (middle name, city where you were born): Scott Provo

5. Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name): Graan (or Gradr)

6. Superhero name (2nd favourite colour, favourite drink): Red Sprite

7. NASCAR name (the first names of your grandfathers): Scott Franklin (I'll do the reverse of what Cami did)

8. Stripper name (the name of your favourite perfume/cologne/scent, favourite candy): Hmmm... I heard it the same as Cami did, which would be Sandy Wedgewood, but I guess if I did this one, it would be... Brut Milky Way. Yep, that's dumb.

10. TV weather anchor name (your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter): Navarrete Nashville

11. Spy name (your favourite season/holiday, flower): Winter Lilac

12. Cartoon name: (favourite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now): I'm going to copy Cami's exactly, because it matches well too (though she's right, it never makes sense): Mango Pajama Pants

13. Hippie name (What you ate for breakfast, your favourite tree): Cereal Aspen

Okay, so some of those were really stupid. Oh well, it was a fun post anyway. Ta!

Jam. Or Pim.

Jim and Pam! I love them! Having just finished Season 3 of The Office, I am SO glad to see they are at last going to go on " a date". As a couple! Karen is nice, Roy is a buffoon, it was just never right. I am surprised to hear there are those who preferred Karen over Pam for Jim. She's all wrong for him, almost as wrong as Katy was. This show is practically built around how perfect Jim and Pam are for each other. I would just like to register my approval of the relationship of Jim and Pam. Their relationship has been rocky and dramatic, punctuated by highly romantic moments, and I think it's high time they finally started dating. The Booze Cruise! The famous first kiss/confession! The awkward tension after! The transfer to Stamford! The transfer back! The Karen obstacle! The minor "I'm-second-in-command-now-so-I-can't-do-pranks-on-Dwight-anymore" setback! The Beach Day walking on coals/purging of emotion! And at last... Jim's simple, unadorned asking if she's free for dinner... It's amazing what a simple request like that can do to you.

By a long shot, it's far better than Dwangela and Jichael. Ick.

Oh, and I can't believe the Temp landed the Corporate job... It would have been so convenient to get Karen out of the Scranton office.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


So, I've been home for two weeks now. So far, the big questions for the R.M. on everyone's lips have been, "How are you adjusting?" and "Do you feel so weird?" or "What's it like to not have a companion all the time, do you feel lonely now?" But strangely, I have to say that the adjustment has seemed relatively smooth! There are those who return from their missions and are socially retarded and take weeks, even months to get out of the habits they had formed in the field (some of which are good, and should be maintained, but some of which are completely unnecessary and unrealistic to keep in "real" life). They ask their parents the questions that come up in companionship inventory and feel completely useless if every moment of the day isn't filled with a "meaningful finding activity." Jared (formerly known as Elder Johns), who has been staying here for a few wonderful days, agrees that the transition has been smooth. We wondered if maybe that meant we were crappy missionaries... Then we decided that the adjustment is only as weird as you want it to be. There are those who WANT to have a weird experience coming home (maybe to prolong the attention you get as a pre-, mid- and post-missionary?), and thus it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Coming home from a mission can be a socially-crippling time, but only if you let it. The trick is to keep doing the good things that they meant for you to do when you go home, and drop the ones they didn't. It requires a continued and constant relationship with the Spirit, which might seem like a lessened thing, just because you're not so involved with the work of the Lord, but you're just as worthy to have the Spirit after a mission, and in fact, it's even more important that you do. I won't say I don't miss some parts of the mission, and I'm sure I always will, but things begin and end, and must do so, and it was definitely time. I had the experience I thought I would never be privileged to have, and I am grateful for it, but it was time to move on.

So how have I spent my time since I came home? Watching every youtube attraction Elise has been dying to show me, catching up on the best movies that I've been waiting to see, calling friends back in WI to see how things are going and encourage the younger Hmong elders who are now suddenly thrust into leadership positions at a relatively young mission age, at last finishing the Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events book series, updating my website, spending time with friends and family, meeting the niece that I had only heard and seen pictures of, prepping myself to meet the future in-law, resting, recouping, and, one of the best parts of all, spending time by myself. I am so glad to be back with everyone, but like Mom pointed out once, sometimes I just like to be alone. So quiet, I don't have to worry if someone's annoyed by my music or if I don't have anything in particular to say, not having to explain every little thing... It's been nice, after all that craziness and busyness. It's true, parts of me have changed since I left, some things that were all-important to me before just aren't anymore, but the most important things have remained intact. I think I'm still me. On Friday, Johns and I went to our first mission reunion in Sandy, and we were glad to see so many of our old friends. Some married (a couple having met in the field... hmmmm...), some engaged (some BARELY engaged... just in time for the reunion...), some dating, some still single, and a lot coming with old mission friends, like we did. The Hunts are doing well, and we had a great time catching up with people. After that, we were all blessed with the 178th Semi-Annual General Conference, President Monson's first as the President of the Church. His humor is intact, and the Church seems to be in capable hands. It's good to see how smoothly the Church operates, especially after such an event as the death of the Prophet. The work goes forth! I listened to the whole thing online in Hmong, and heard one or two old mission companions translating (that'll be me in October!), but was also reminded of the not-too-long-ago times when I decided I had had enough of really long church meetings... Twice a year is perfect.

All is going well. I still can't believe I'm even an R.M. at all! Slap that social status on me! Here I am, girls, at last worthy of your attention!!!