Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Moral Quandry of Underwear, or, The LDS Propensity to Judge

I like to sit in the back of class. The middle row, to be exact. I’ve been this way ever since I’ve gotten into college. Why? I like being in the back because it allows me to fully see everything, while still being a bit anti-social. Yesterday in class, I saw something that made me really wonder about our perspectives as Mormons, and where the true sin lies.

Participating as I am wont to do, and watching the recent advertising plan being passed around class, my eyes spotted a bit of flesh on a derriere. Now, don’t think of me as a pervert. I don’t go around staring at the behind of every female that walks by, except for Ashley. And I like being caught staring. Yet on BYU-Idaho campus, seeing flesh other than the normal areas (arms and head) catches anyone’s eye. We don’t see a lot of things out of the ordinary here, and seeing a girl with a thin piece of underwear is definatley out of the ordinary.

Yet seeing this, and my ensuing thought process, caused me to step back and ask questions. At first I thought “I can’t believe her. Why would she wear something like that? That’s kind of…*insert word here*…” Yet I caught myself, and here my mind went a’wandering as we discussed surveys in my Media Research class.

Was she doing anything “wrong”? Should we judge a person by their underwear, and not the content of their character? I noticed myself judging this female, thinking about her status as a church member, if she was one of those “rebellious” students at BYU-Idaho that I so desperately want to talk to.

A few things:

1. She was leaning forward just a bit, and I could barely see said fabric.
2. She wasn’t showing it off. As a matter of fact, 2 minutes later she pulled her shirt down to cover.
3. She was wearing tighter pants, so that might have played a factor.

Now I know this is petty. I know there will be 2 polarizing issues. “Brandt, it’s underwear, who cares,” compared to “It’s inappropriate.” I actually talked with Ashley about this yesterday, and she chose the second argument. I told her “What if she wanted to feel good about herself?”

“Well you can find other ways to feel good about yourself than wearing underwear that’s MADE to entice”

“But she wasn’t enticing – it was something she actually covered up, instead of showed off”

“Well what if your daughter wore them? Would you accept the fact that they were ‘just because of panty lines?’”
“Absolutely not. I will make sure she wears grandma-panties until she’s 27 because I know how guys think.”

Well, even after that conversation, I still can’t say that I made a decision on how I feel about that. Part of me automatically makes a judgment. I start questioning things about her, her character, etc. I blame that on the environment that we’re in, and also attribute it to the prudence we have in the Church (which isn’t a bad thing). But then, I’m also torn. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. Should I be judging her based on her underwear? Is that right? It’s UNDERWEAR. It’s not meant to be seen. I wouldn’t be thinking about any of this if I hadn’t seen her.

Here’s my conclusion. IT’S UNDERWEAR. If I hadn’t seen that tiny slip of fabric, I wouldn’t be thinking these things. It’s a personal, private thing. She might be a bit more promiscuous, but who am I to judge. The biggest thing for me is she wasn’t showing it off. Now, if she were (and there are those that do), we would probably have a difference of opinion. But our propensity as LDS to judge another LDS is just astonishing. I’m no saint. If my thoughts were to be broadcast in sacrament meeting of what I really thought, I would probably be the victim of yet another car accident. However, our judgmental nature, in my humble opinion, is killing us.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

David Horowitz Revisited

David Horowitz Revisited

My first assignment for my Media Research class involved a man named David Horowitz. We were required to write a paper on his controversial ads he purchased back in 2001. On Wednesday, all we were told was to “Google David Horowitz and reparations.” Initially, when she mentioned reparations, I had had the thought strike me that this would be about reparations for African Americans. What resulted was his ad which stated “10 Reasons Why Reparations Are a Bad Idea for Blacks – and Racist Too.” My normally conservative self agreed with many of the ideas, but there were an equal number of items that I disagreed with.

Now that I’ve lived here in Rexburg for 3 years, it makes me very grateful that I grew up in a melting-pot of diversity. When my wife visited Michigan for the first time, we went to the local mall to browse the clearance racks. She told me later that she was shocked because there weren’t any “minorities” there. She told me “I felt like the minority!” I’m conservative, so normally reparations don’t sit very well with me, and I’ve never liked using the word “minority” because in my lifetime I’ve felt that the gap between the Caucasian majority and the African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Indian (just to name the main groups) minorities has been shrinking.

Here are Horowitz’s “10 reasons,” and my response is added in bold.

1. There is no single group responsible for the crime of slavery

This I agree with. Slavery has been around forever, dating back to biblical times. While Horowitz is discussing American slavery, and that no single group is responsible for that, my argument is yes, no single group is responsible for that. We were wrong. Yet I would think that we have made many advancements since 1776, 1860, even 1968 as far as race-relations are concerned.

2. There is no one group that benefited exclusively from it’s fruits

I don’t proclaim to be an expert on this, and I really don’t have time to do the research. But I agree with this. How can one say only whites have benefited. How can one lump all “whites,” when they come from all over?

3. Only a tiny minority of whites owned slaves, and others gave their lives to free them

This I will agree with. The American Civil War is something that I would love to do more research in. I’ve heard it said before that, concerning history, the ones who win the war write the history. Yet how many gave their lives trying to protect the notion that “all men were created equal?” Again, broad generalizations, in my humble opinion, are quickly becoming a virus of our generation.

4. America today is a multiethnic nation and most Americans have no connection (direct or indirect) to slavery

This is probably the best argument that Horowitz makes. Kid Rock put out a great single about 3 months ago called “Amen,” a true indictment against our culture, and one of the things he states that other races “got me feeling guilty of being white.” Sometimes I feel this way. Sometimes I feel almost sheepish because of the fact that I am Caucasian, and apparently I have been lumped into this group. It’s like saying all Christian whites are racist because of the KKK

5. The historical precedents used to justify the reparations claim do not apply, and the claim itself is based on race, not injury

When Horowitz states “the claim itself,” he is referring to the claim of slavery. Again, Horowitz hits a home run again here. What injury does an African American face because of his or her ancestors over 100 years ago? How does that treatment affect them today? Perhaps 40, even 25 years ago, there would have been some prejudice against African Americans, yet with the last 20 years, there has been a great awareness of the plight that many African Americans go through. Plans like Affirmative Action and the initiative of many professional sports teams have sought to equalize the opportunities to a more diverse audience

6. The reparations argument is based on the unfounded claim that all African-American descendants of slaves suffer from the economical consequences of slavery and discrimination

I feel like I’m rehashing the same thing here. Make your own conclusions.

7. The reparations claim is one more attempt to turn African-Americans into victims. It sends out a damaging message to the African-American community

My problem with this argument is that it is blatantly worded to incite. “Turn African Americans into victims” makes a broad generalization. I know many affluent African Americans, and I know many Caucasians who are looking to be victims. Instead of making this assumption based on race, why not economic conditions, or family background, or education, or any number of items? Bad move, Horowitz.

8. Reparations to African-Americans have already been paid

This falls under the “Brandt doesn’t understand this” portion. Insert comment here

9. What about the debts blacks owe to America?

This is another false argument – the debt that blacks owe to America? That’s again stating that there is a divide between blacks and the rest of the world.

10. The reparations claim is a Separatist idea that sets African-Americans against the nation that gave them freedom

Again, this is specifically worded to anger people. “Sets African-Americans against the nation” sounds as though there will be an African American revolution. It seems as though this is

Ironically enough, my professor just informed us that Horowitz did this as an “experiment.” He is a former Black Panther, and wanted to see what the reaction of people. Some colleges ran the ad. Some didn’t run the ad. Some ran the ad and then issued a letter of apology.

In my paper, I addressed the fact that the freedom of the press takes on different connotation involving universities. Because of the public and private universities, privates have the ability to be more selective. Yet where can a public university draw the line? Should a public university be required to allow an advertiser to publish an ad that might be controversial, no matter the price?

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Princeton of the Mountains, or, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of BYU-I Elitism

When I was younger, I remember Stanford being called the “Harvard of the West.” According to Wikipedia, that’s the name for the University of Michigan, but I think it applies more to Stanford. Stanford, since their inception, has been known for their academic quality and excellence, especially in relation to the Ivy League schools of the east.

With Kim Clark coming to BYU-Idaho, there has been much talk in the University about the quality of education that we are receiving, and the wonderful opportunity of having a former Harvard Business School dean as our school president.

Here’s for hoping I can start a new catch-phrase: As far as undergraduates go (especially those looking for business degrees), I submit that our university has become the Princeton of the Mountains. Nothing against Yale, or Cornell, or Harvard, or any of those other Ivy-Leaguers, but Princeton just has a nice ring to it.

But there’s one problem with making an assertion that we are the Princeton of the Mountains. In fact, asserting that we have a quality of education comparable to Princeton or the other Ivy-League schools brings out the good, the bad, and the ugly of elitism.

The Good

1.) Location – BYU-Idaho is located in Rexburg, which is at least 20 minutes away from civilization. Yes, we have a Wal-Mart, and a first-run movie theater, but we also have a lot lacking. Because of our location, it is difficult for the university to get noticed. Thus, with this elitism, people who would most likely not come to recruit are now coming.

2.) Quality of Education – I’ve stated many times before, but I would take a BYU-Idaho undergraduate degree in business rather than a BYU-Provo undergrad degree in business. I cannot say the same about other degrees, mostly because I have no experience in other areas. I am a minor in the communications department, but that’s almost as wide as the business department. Here’s some generalizations I can make:

a. Smaller class sizes – I would say the average class size is about 20 people

b. More emphasis on participation in class – I have been in more classes where participation was a part of your grade rather than lecture-based settings

c. 14-week semesters – I used to be able to skate along until midterms, then re-evalute to see where I stand and try to salvage my grades. This is not the case anymore. Midterms are 85% of what your final grade is. I haven’t seen that many people jump that much in grades. 14-weeks forces you to prepare every day and forces you to work

The Bad

1.) Students who don’t want to be Students – My father, to get himself through school, worked 40 hours a week and his last bit of school went on 3-4 hours of sleep per night, and still has lasting sleep effects from that situation. My mother, who was by no means a normal college student, took 21 credits ON A BLOCK, and went through her masters program with a 4.0 GPA, with 3 kids at home. Yet I see many people who don’t really work for their education (and mostly in a monetary sense). Mommy and daddy sent them here to straighten them out, or to get married, or…whatever. And don’t get me started on those people who work summer sales, and come back with $50,000, buy a new car, 42” flat screen, and blah blah blah. People need to act more like students around here.

2.) “We’re so much better than…” - This is something that I fall into some times talking about the business department, but it happens in a lot of areas here. If I had the opportunity to go to Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Browning, Cornell, even the University of Michigan over here, I would have a hard time deciding where to go. Just because we have a pretty conservative faculty who don’t really talk about politics and bring gospel-related themes into class doesn’t mean we are that much better than some of these spectacular universities

The Ugly

1.) The Lord’s University – There’s a joke around campus that “I’ve heard it said that BYU-Provo is the Church’s University where BYU-Idaho is the Lord’s University.” I don’t like this. I’ve never liked this. Yes, there is a dividing faction between us and Provo, but follow me on this: The temple is a place of learning – It (in my view) is considered a “higher” place, separated from the world, a deeper sense of learning – Learning can be called your “education.” Thus, the temple can be considered a place of “higher education,” where we are instructed from the Lord. Thus, is it too much of a stretch to consider the temple to be the “Lord’s University?” I know this may seem petty, but it adds to the presumptuous feeling that we are better not only from our Provo siblings, but from the rest of the academia realm

2.) All or nothing – because of this being a church-owned university, people forget sometimes that the administrators of the university (the dean, the VP’s etc) are paid, and their words aren’t gold. I respect President Clark. I think a lot of his insights are very valuable, and the time’s when he has come into our class, I’ve avidly taken notes. Yet people feel that his words are law. There really is no room for intelligent counter-discussion of things happening at the university. It really is an all or nothing attitude – “If you don’t like it, you can go elsewhere.” Seriously? That’s your answer? Let’s confront facts! If I am 90% satisfied with my education, my university experience, but 10% of my dissatisfaction comes through petty administrative things, let’s have an intelligent discussion instead of questioning my spirituality, church commitment, or banishing me to another university because of dissenting opinions.

I don’t know, am I off here? I really see this becoming a problem here at school, if it hasn't already become one .

Friday, April 25, 2008

An Update

I know it's been a while, and I must explain. I have about 5-6 posts hanging out in the "draft" section of blogger, that just need one last paragraph. Our second computer's power cord recently exploded on us, thus relegating Ashley to use my computer for many of her assignments. With the start of a new semester (and the first week of school), I will promise that next week EVERY DAY (Monday-Friday) there will be a new post.

Yes, I know that's a lofty goal, but it's what I'm willing to do for all of you!

In other news, construction here on school is scheduled to be done in 2010. We'll have graduated by then, but with them tearing down almost every parking lot and every food spot here on campus, it can't come soon enough.

Thank you for all you who have commented and have been reading my blog. Like I said, next week you all get rewarded with a post every single day! For an individual blogger, it's a challenge, but you all deserve it!

- Brandt

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Pernicious Evils of LDS Romance Novels

Ashley and I just had a debate as to what the title should be, so to make her happy:

The current genre of LDS Romance novels that are directed towards women are a detriment to the LDS society.

(My name is Ashley Malone, and I approve of this sentence).

If there's one thing I've learned in my 9 months of marriage, it's that a happy marriage revolves around Ashley approving of my sentences.

I might ruffle some feathers, and I have nothing against her personally, but I hate Anita Stansfield's books. Such titles include "First Love and Forever," "First Love, Second Chances," "At Heaven's Door," and "Gables Against the Sky." It's not because I'm a guy, because honestly her books aren't written towards me. It's not because of the success she's had. More power to her. But it is because of her books.

Having a wife who is an English major, I not only get to hear about how bad my English is (either in writing or in speaking), but also what she (and her English colleagues) feel about authors, books, and many other things involving English.

For example, the Harry Potter books (which anyone will tell you got me through my first 2 years of college) are considered "commercial," and many just don't like them from a literary standpoint. August Wilson is probably one of the most understated and underrated play writes of the 20th Century. To nobody's surprise, Shakespeare is quoted in general just as much as the scriptures. And finally, they all have a strong dislike for Stansfield's books.

I must preface this by saying I personally have never read any of her books. I'm going off what I have heard others discuss, most notably Ashley, so there will be some bias in this. That being said, there are many reasons for these sentiments, but the most prominent concerns how she illuminates reality in LDS marriages and relationships for LDS women.

There is a fairy tale about LDS marriages (which post is sitting in my "Halfway completed" pile), the most dominating school of thought being "Happily Ever After Begins Today." Perhaps it's because I'm still a young married guy, but for some reason my reality buzzer keeps going off whenever I hear that. Anyone who has been married for over 6 months will tell you that the "Happily Ever After" takes work. Hard work. Lots of work. And in my opinion, that work is what makes the happiness.

However, Stansfield's books not only embrace the fairy tale, but embellish it to cater to women. How can a man live up to her unrealistic expectations of constantly expressing "mushy" feelings, noticing the subtle things that women crave (such as new haircuts), and always being the hopeless romantic in any situation? Just writing this and listening to Ashley describe some of the men in these novels makes me feel that I'm a schmuck who only cares about watching ESPN and doesn't express his feelings enough!

Now is there anything wrong with these traits in men? No, and I think that a man who loves his wife is trying to be that type of husband to her. But (and this is where I might receive my hate-mail) I compare her writing for LDS women to the writings of the trashy paperback romance novels found next to the Cosmopolitan magazine in the local Wal-Mart. In essence, her writings are literary pornography for the LDS women's mind.

That's strong, I understand. Anytime anyone throws around the "P" word we tense up, get uncomfortable, and look over our shoulder to see if anyone saw what we just read. And for good reason! Yet I'm comparing her writings to said P-word in a different sense.

As a man, whenever "P" comes up, the repercussions are brought up as well. Broken homes, divorce, and women feeling inferior to those on the internet are all after-effects of this pernicious evil. Yet what is Stansfield doing? I must bold this so my point gets made: She is giving women an opportunity to read and play out their relationship fantasies, and the women (in turn) develop unrealistic expectations as to what their husband should be like.

Men aren't bad. We try, and we try very very hard, to please our wives. I would love more than anything to be more open with Ashley about my "mushy" feelings, to notice those small things that I know she likes (such as if she painted her toes a different color), and to have an Australian accent. Because it's something that I'm not good at, I work on it. Almost every day. Yet I would feel like much less of a man if Ashley were reading those novels, and have an unrealistic expectation for me to live up to. I would feel as though I were never good enough for her because I was always being compared.

Isn't that what women feel when their husbands betray them and look at pornography? Though sex and relationship fantasies aren't exactly apples and apples, the comparison is more like red seedless grapes to purple seeded grapes: two different parts of the same family.

Luckily, Ashley dislikes Anita as much as I dislike meatloaf (and I REALLY dislike meatloaf!) I'm just glad to see that it's not just us who feel that what Anita is doing is detrimental to LDS society, but others as well.

P.S. I was just informed that there was a BYU-Idaho forum on how LDS Romance Novels were a hindrance to our society, and Stansfield was mentioned by name. I'll see if I can dig up some more information for you all.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

BYU-Idaho's IBC, or, 14 Weeks of No Sleep

The Integrated Business Core, or IBC, is one of the hallmarks of the entire business department of BYU-Idaho. I recently got a chance to finish this group of 4 classes, and have too many thoughts than I should about the IBC.

First, an overview. The IBC consists of 4 classes, namely Marketing, Finance, Operations Management, and Organizational Behavior. The only books we had to buy were for Organizational Behavior (hereafter O.B.). All our other text came from the Harvard Business School (mostly case studies). These classes met Monday-Friday, and rotated on a not-so-normal basis.

We were then divided up into 3 different "companies." These companies were then divided up into 4 "teams" that we would accomplish much of our in-class work with. There was also one other portion to this series of classes: we were required to come up with a business. Not just come up with a business, but write up a business plan, apply for a loan, give a presentation for a loan committee, come up with executive officers from within our company (mostly a President, Marketing Executive, Financial Executive, and Operations Executive), run this business on campus, keep track of money and finances, and finally close the business out.

Within the first month, we were hauled out near the Teton Mountains here in Idaho to a lodge known as Badger Creek. We did team-building activities (ropes courses and what not), and then were required to camp out one night - in -20 degree weather - with a circus tent (and that's not exaggerating).

We decided our business was going to be student-designed t-shirts, with concessions offsetting the cost of printing shirts. I was chosen as CEO, and I don't think I realized how much I had my work cut out for me. Managing 23 students (while I was considered an equal) isn't easy, but we made it through, and I've actually gotten sleep this semester!

Perhaps later I will make a longer post more in-depth about what the IBC entails, but here's my thoughts about the IBC, what can be better, and what I liked.

1. If I were an undergrad student trying to choose between BYU in Provo or BYU-Idaho, and I wanted to major in business management, I would choose BYU-Idaho. Reasons why:

a.) Former 10-year Harvard Business School Dean as your University President
b.) The IBC, which gives much more business experience, compared to common academia and textbook skills
c.) A required internship for all business majors, combine with Pres. Clark's contacts back east, has really given us credibility as a university and has also gotten more recruiters coming to our school.

2. The 4 core classes constitute 12 credits (3 credits each). They have actually advised that the students either take no other classes or a religion class. The business is all non-paid. The students work for free (in order for the university to keep it's non-tax status). I think that the business portion should be another 3-credit class, thus appeasing those on scholarship, or fastgrad (in which 14-15 credits are required), as well as making sure people like me don't take a high-intensity, high-work load advertising class.

3. Maybe it's because of me, and what I went through as CEO, but really, they should be exempt from a lot of things (or have monetary compensation for all the crap we put up with)

4. Reduce class numbers. Many of our classes required class participation, and with a classroom of 69 students, it was VERY hard to get your points. Add into that the wonderful students who have to make a comment about almost EVERY sentence the teacher says, and it's really tough to get your points. I figured they would have 1/2 the class in, say, Marketing and Finance, while the other half was in O.B. and Operations.

5. Reduce the limitations. We wouldn't sell here, we couldn't sell there, we would be in direct competition with the university. We couldn't sell this, we couldn't sell that, again, it would be in competition. I think that the barriers should be right up front, and if students find a better way of doing that, well honestly, more power to them.

So that's the IBC. Dickens said it best when he said "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

I'm more apt to this quote, from the same classic novel, at the opposite end of the book.

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The General Conference Post-Game Analysis

Well, General Conference has come and gone, and I think that this is one of the most powerful ones I've ever experienced.

When I was younger, because of the distance to our stake center (before our ward building had the capabilities to receive it), we really didn't go. In all honesty, before my mission I had really no interest in the Church. I went because of family and social influences, but I could have cared less. I didn't take anything seriously.

Yet when I went on my mission, I had a spiritual awakening (and in the beginning was one of those sickeningly good missionaries who forget what a mission is and only care about the rules they're following). I really got into LDS books (especially lectures), and Conference time was a spiritual amusement park for me (don't act like you all aren't impressed at that metaphor).

So let's dive in.

The Dark Horse for best performance at General Conference - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Now I mean "Dark horse" with the utmost respect - I don't think anyone was prepared for what Presidnt Uchtdorf was able to do. President Uchtdorf wins this by a mile. Not only was he poised and articulate in conducting almost every session of General Conference, his sermons were spectacular.

I loved his talk at Priesthood (I actually whipped out my Dell Axim, pressed record, and recorded the last 10 minutes of it because it was so good), and Sunday's talk on the "Faith of our Fathers" was amazing.

I think I really liked the "Faith of our Fathers" talk because it was given to a very diverse audience, an audience that I think hasn't gotten a lot of heritage talks directed at them - the non-pioneer heritage. I will admit that because both of my parents are converts, the stories about the pioneers crossing the plains didn't ever register with me. In all honesty, I really didn't like them, because it was my cue to daydream whenever I heard pioneer stories (yes, even in Conference).

With the same joy, I claim the legacies of today’s modern-day Church pioneers who live in every nation and whose own stories of perseverance, faith, and sacrifice add glorious new verses to the great chorus of the latter-day anthem of the kingdom of God.

When my own family contemplates the phrase “faith of our fathers,” often it is the Lutheran faith that comes to mind. For generations our ancestors belonged to that denomination. In fact, my son recently discovered that one of our family lines connects back to Martin Luther himself.

We honor and respect sincere souls from all religions, no matter where or when they lived, who have loved God, even without having the fulness of the gospel. We lift our voices in gratitude for their selflessness and courage. We embrace them as brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father.

(Pres. Uchtdorf, "Faith of our Father," emphasis mine)

How beautiful is this, that we are respecting the faiths of others! How beautiful that a large population of the Church, who are all pioneers in their own right, are able to finally feel like they have claim to the pioneer heritage!

The Gave one for the Team award - President Henry Eyring

I took an advertising class this last semester, and my professor was actually in charge of public relations for the Rexburg Temple. As the temple dedication was nearing, we all tried to swindle information out of him as to what was going on and what rumors we could be privy to being on the inside of. Sadly, he was a safe - information was not coming out of him.

But after the passing of President Hinckley, the subsequent delaying and rescheduling of the temple dedication, he gave us a nugget - after the dedication he would tell us some stories.

One of those stories was concerning President Eyring. Apparently, President Eyring was going to attend the dedication with President Monson, yet the day he was going to attend he had broken his leg.

So naturally our hearts went out to him. Yet scouring the internet during Conference, I found this little nugget that really put things in perspective - Kudos to Ongofu for this great inside scoop.

A few weeks ago when Elder Eyring was at home, he suddenly found himself waking up on the floor, with his leg twisted under him. He went to work, but soon realized he needed to have his leg checked. When he did, he found out it was broken (which is why he’s currently using a cane, in case you wondered).

But then as the days went by, he continued to have times where he’d suddenly lose consciousness and he felt very weak. He was frustrated because he felt helpless. Newly appointed as the First Counselor to President Monson, he just wanted to serve. He got in to see the doctor, and had some tests done, and went back to work. Soon the results came in, and the doctor told him he had to come back to the hospital immediately.

Come to find out, his heart would periodically just stop. So last Tuesday, he had a pacemaker put in. Last Tuesday. I don’t know if you’ve known anyone who’s had that happen, but it’s a serious surgery, with an extended recovery time.

He got a blessing from President Monson, wherein he was told that angels would support him. The next day - Wednesday, he attended the meeting with the General Authorities in the temple. Thursday, he participated in the General Authority training. Then today (Saturday), he stood up, looking as magnified and healthy as ever, and delivered a powerful address on trusting in God as you serve with all your heart.

Now in looking up my references (and giving all credit to Rusty from Ongofu), I did stumble across the infamous Ex-mo board, and they're already tearing this apart as an FPR (faith promoting rumor). Personally, I'm not a big fan of embellished FPR's, so I did a bit more research. Here's how Rusty got his information (same link, comment #6):
My Father in law is Elder Pace, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy (my favorite member at that ;-). Every Priesthood Session we’ve made a big tradition out of getting together for the session and Dinner afterwards. He mentioned it to us as we ate when one of us asked why Elder Eyring had a cane and gave us the additional context so we could better appreciate the point of Elder Eyring’s talk.

So that's an interesting little bit of info for you to re-read Pres. Eyring's talk and see what else it means to you.

MVP - President Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

How could this award go to any others? The Dark Horse award could have gone to Elder Wirthlin or Holland, or even Elder Ballard, but the MVP definately goes to President Monson.

His first opportunity to act as President of the Church, and he hits a home-run. I absolutely was floored with his address. Honestly, beforehand, I didn't know if his happy storytelling way of speaking was what I felt would make an effective Church President (obviously the reason I'm not running the Church), but his final address to close Conference was jaw-dropping. Perhaps it was the power of the chosen prophet of the Church, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been so used to President Hinckley's quick recaps and motivating encouragements to "be a little better," and President Monson's speech was quite the opposite. I am very excited to go through the mp3's again at and re listen to our prophet speak.

School's out for a week, so expect a lot of updates!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Christopher Walken and the Return of SNL

I grew up with Saturday Night Live. When I was in middle school, it was common practice for everyone to get on the bus on Monday morning and give our own personal recap of our funniest skits for the weekend. Even in high school, this continued on until I was a senior.

I'm talking people like -
Will Ferrell
Norm McDonald
Molly Shannon
Tim Meadows
Jim Breuer
Chris Kattan
Tracy Morgan
Jimmy Fallon
Chris Parnell

This was my group. Yet after Ferrel left, I really had no point to continue watching. These new guys (including Kenan Thompson and Horatio Sanz) really weren't that funny. I tried. I WANTED to enjoy it. I just couldn't see the humor.

And then it happened.

I was cruising a website for movie and TV rumors, and read an article on there talking about the "return" of SNL. I was skeptical. These were guys I had no clue about. Andy Samberg? Bill Hader? Tina Fey? How can these people possibly be funny?

And then I watched.
And watched.
and laughed.
and watched some more.
and laughed some more.

I think THIS is one of the reasons why I've begun to watch SNL again.

And then last night, Ashley and I were channel surfing, and found SNL. And Christopher Freaking Walken was hosting. Christopher Walken, the man who made cowbells famous. Christopher Walken, the man who made obviously reading off cue cards hilarious.

Welcome back SNL. I've missed you

Finals update

It's finals week here at school, which means that I won't be able to post really until I get these big projects and finals taken care of (most likely Wednesday night). Here's a list of finals that are coming up:

Marketing - We took this final about a week and a half ago in class. We were given a case, and then told to give a 1-page write up in an hour in a half as to what we would to do increase this company's market share. 92%

Operations and Supply Chain Management - I actually just got done taking this exam. He gave us a study guide in an Excel format (which most of the exam was based off of), and the greatest part was a little tab at the end of his spreadsheet that read "Ignore this tab." Right. I'm going to ignore a tab that a teacher tells me to ignore. This tab was linked to all the others basing the input off the CORRECT ANSWERS and gave a score.

I'm not that gullible though. I made sure that everything was correct, input the answers, took the 15 muliple choice questions, and just finished the exam about 5 minutes ago. 92%, which I really needed.

Finance - As per his instructions, we were told to hold off on this exam (which he has posted online, for us to take at any time) until after today. He's been a great teacher, teaching us the theory behind the financial equations, then showing the easier (and more modern) method of using Excel. I don't think that it will be much of a problem, especially because he allows us to use any information we have ("In the business world, you use what you need to get the job done"). Exam is Wednesday before midnight.

Organizational Behavior - When you tell your students that this will be a self-graded exam, you know that I'm going to do well. If I was a total jerk, I might give myself a lower grade (if I were being honest with myself), but this semester I've been put through hell and back. You're dang right I'm going to get a good grade! Exam is Thursday Morning

Advertising - Probably the one defining class in my collegiate career so far. The teacher has been spectacular. The class has been challenging, demanding, yet rewarding. I have loved every minute of it, even with it being a 5:00-6:30pm class. When you teacher not only has about 20 years in the industry, but was the Rexburg Temple Public Relations manager and works for the University as the University Communications Manager, you know it's going to either going to be a great class or a crappy one. Luckily, it was the former. The final involves a client that he has selected, and we put together an ad campaign for them. Wednesday night we all pitch the campaign to get the account of the client. If we get the account, even if we didn't follow directions on the final, we get an "A" for the final. Everybody on the team gets an A. In his words, "That's the way the real world works - you get the account." Presentation is Wednesday Night, 5:00 PM

Here's a taste of the posts I'm cooking up for after this semester:
- Why I should go to devotionals, but don't
- The Fallacy of the LDS Marriage Tale, or
Why I can't stand 97% of the Married Students at BYU-Idaho
- The 2008 Summer Movie Preview
- BYU-Idaho Elitism or the BYU-Idaho Inferiority Complex
- General Conference Thoughts and Impressions
- And many many more! INCLUDING the return of a possible podcast? Yes you heard right! As of right now it looks like I'll be running a one-man show, but that could change.

So stick around - this blog could be worth something yet!

Friday, April 4, 2008

NCAA Final Four Preview

So this big thing called the Final Four is happening. Apparently, these kids get together and play basketball! Things get so nutty that some say it is MADNESS. Apparently this spectacle of sport occurs in MARCH. And take a wild guess at what these hooligans have been calling it. That's right, MARCH MADNESS!

In all seriousness, this is my favorite time of the year. I love the underdogs against the big dogs, I love the last-second finishes, and I absolutely love Kevin Love of UCLA. A man among boys, especially seeing that he is 19.

Here's the matchups for tomorrow night.

Manchild Tyler Hansbrough leads his UNC Tar Heels against Brandon Rush and the Kansas Jayhawks Saturday at 8:47 EST

Though Hansbrough bothers me (I don't know why, he just does), I cannot see Kansas coming out alive in this one. Kansas has had an amazing season. Bill Self, the head coach, has had a TON of pressure on his shoulders in trying to keep up the Kansas tradition (which has been lacking of late).

Yet NC is STILL hitting their stride. With the Manchild Hansbrough playing at 100% every single game (and apparently his strict training regime, according to Roy Williams), I don't see him gassing out any time soon. The only way I see Kansas making it to the National Championship is if Ty Lawson doesn't show up to play. With a tweaked ankle suffered at the end of the Louisville game, Lawson's strength (his speed) could turn out to be the team's weakness.

UNC 89 - Kansas 80

I won't front here, I have a mancrush on Kevin Love. The man can chuck the ball with the accuracy, speed, and power of an NFL quarterback, dominate the post like a brick wall, and slip into the paint like a thief. I will probably be like a kid on Christmas day getting a Nintendo Wii if the Manchild Tyler Hansbrough and my Mancrush Kevin Love make it.

That being said, UCLA is an enigma this year. I picked a lot of the PAC-10 teams to go pretty far (notably UCLA winning the tourney, USC making it to the Elite 8 and Stanford making it to the Final Four, we'll see if I go 0-fer), but it has been a letdown. I think UCLA has been playing to their competition. They have barely won games which they should have dominated, and I really haven't been too impressed with what's happened in the tournament.

But if UCLA does have one advantage over Memphis, it is that Ben Howland and the rest of the team has experience. I have been listening to Jim Rome praise Howland for his work ethic over the past week (which he totally deserves), but I'm hoping UCLA suprises me and comes up with something spectacular against Memphis.

But let's not forget Memphis! John Calipari is turning out to be a genius. Perhaps it was the ESPN inoculation that I have experienced through the tournament, but all I think about is "Memphis is young, they aren't as sexy as UNC or UCLA or Kansas, and they can't shoot free-throws." While it is true they aren't as sexy, their free-throw shooting against Texas was 83.3%. Have a bigger hankering for stats? Try this on for size.

Memphis Free Throw Shooting in NCAA Tournament
v. UT Arlington - 62.9%
v. Mississippit State - 46.9%
v. Michigan State - 74.3%
v. Texas - 83.3%

For a Tournament average of.....66.85%

While it may seem a bit low, Memphis has shown up for the big games. Coach Cal is going to use all this negative press and pub to get his team fired up, using the Detroit Pistons (and a host of other teams) motivational tool of "We deserve respect"

UCLA 81-Memphis 80, with Coach Cal taking it right to K-Love all game long (but Coach Howland withstanding the attack)

Final Four on CBS tomorrow night starting at 6:47 EST (4:47 MST, right after General Conference!)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Between-Semester Book List

So I've told a bunch of people I was going to start reading books again - with my class schedule I don't have time to sit down and read a book. I've actually transitioned to audiobooks, which work great because I can walk to class (about a 15-20 minute walk) and churn out about a chapter each way on the ipod. Plus, when I have to do stuff around the apartment, or anything like that, I can keep the ipod going and multi-task.

So after finals (which is over next Thursday), I'm planning on getting back into books.

Books that I've completed this semester -

1/2 way through Mario Puzo's The Godfather

Ben Mezrich, Bringing Down the House: The Insider's Story of Six M.I.T. Kids who took Vegas for Millions - Good good book, 7.5/10. Basis for the new movie "21"

And that's it for the semester. Not too impressive. So aside from catching up on LOST (I'm still on "Ji Yeon"), here's my book list.

Brandt's Book List for Winter/Summer Semester Break
1. Finish Mario Puzo's The Godfather
2. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel - Recommended by a friend
3. An Inconvenient Book by Glenn Beck - my dad loved it, and it's Brother Freaking Glenn - I loved Real America, and listen to his show just about every day, so of course I'll be reading it.

OK, that gives me three books to get through in a week. I'll post reviews after I'm done reading them, and if I have time, I might post a review for Bringing Down the House

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

About Me

Well, seeing as the semester is almost over (and I've been procrastinating about starting this up), I figure I should let people know who I am and why I'm doing this.

My name is Brandt. I am 24 years old, originally from a suburb 1 hr north of Detroit, Michigan.

I went on a mission to Korea, and currently attend BYU-Idaho with my lovely wife. We both have 3 semesters left, and anticipate graduating at the end of winter semester, 2009.

Religiously, I consider myself in the middle. I like to tell people that I am LDS, not Mormon. I have strong issues with the Mormon culture, and have learned through many experiences that those concerns, if not voiced at certain times, with certain people, in certain places, can get me into trouble.

For example - The university recently changed their insurance policy requiring all students (married or single) to have insurance. If married, one can have insurance either through an employer or through the university. Obviously there was some backlash, yet the Mormon culture way out here was to write an letter to the editor comparing those who had differing opinions than the university to pray to know that the Prophet and Apostles received this insurance policy by revelation, and to pray so that God would soften their heart.

I hope and pray that we as married students will remember and hearken to the words of prophets and apostles both past and present in receiving personal revelation concerning the subject of married student insurance. I hope that we will act on our personal revelation but remember we cannot force our personal revelation on others.

No joke. See here, first post.

Expect to see lots of posts about the culture here in Rexburg, Idaho, the culture at BYU-Idaho, and how it grates on me.

I also have this strange fascination with anything sports and all movies - so be prepped for that.

An Introduction to the Overflow

I love my mother.

I really do. She's a great example to me of perseverance and dedication to what she puts her mind on doing.


I think she would be late to her own funeral. And I say that with the utmost love and respect.

Ever since we moved into our old ward building about 10 years ago, we've had our seat in the overflow. It doesn't matter if it's a full house, or if the ward is thin because of holidays, we have our section: 3 rows back, in the left set of pews, on the left.

Even when my father became a member of the bishopric, we were still there. When my wife and I flew home to Michigan to visit the family, my mom and brother and sister were still sitting there.

So what does the overflow mean to me?

I look at it as the common mingling place for those who consider themselves liberal or orthodox. It's the gathering of young families with 5 kids under the age of 8 who wear their parents out after 1 hour of sacrament meetings, and the empty-nesters that take a bit slower to get to church.

Welcome to the Overflow - where everyone is welcome (and you can sneak out whenever you want)