Thursday, December 8, 2011

The way things work

Inspired by:

You're not a mormon

  1. You get completely wasted one night and get in a car accident.
    Society)  Doesn't care, let the authorities handle it.
    Your church)  Frowns on your reckless behavior
  2. Accuse people of not being "born again" to their face
    Society)  Is dismissive of you, largely doesn't care
    Your church)  Varies from praising you for being a defender of the faith to not really caring
  3. You attack someone's faith or way of life
    Society)  Is tolerant and largely silent regarding your behavior
    Your church)  Praises you, in general, for supporting them.  Tries to publicly preach love and kindness.

Now, you're a Mormon.

  1. You get wasted and get in a car accident.
    Society)  Let the authorities handle it.  You see a handful of news articles describing how the mormon church is wrong because they preach abstaining from alcohol and it creates these nut-jobs who inevitably go overboard.
    Your church)  Varies depending on your attitude.  It ranges from "let the authorities handle it" to "removal from the church, and let the authorities handle it"
  2. You boldly state to someone that what they're doing doesn't fit your interpretation of doctrine
    Society)  Criticizes church policy, demonizes you, and tries to make your mistake as public as possible.
    Your church)  Tries to lovingly correct you, and reminds you that we are to do our best to teach principles and leave the interpretation up to the Spirit of God.  Church usually defends its members from the public flak they get, while still attempting to help the public distinguish the difference between an individual member and the church as a whole.  
  3. You attack someone's faith or way of life
    Society)  Large quantities of angry and loud people start protesting around your places of worship, everything you said is circulated as fast as modern media will allow.  People start drafting legal cases against you, and try to label you and everyone of your faith as bigoted and entirely off-base.
    Your church)  Reminds you of the policy and doctrine instituted in 1844, that we claim the privilege of worshipping God, and allow all men the same privilege to worship how, where, and whatever they may.  Makes a public statement that the church in no way holds your position or view point, and never has.

Now you're me

You chose to be a mormon, and you're free to change that decision at any time.  You wouldn't change your decision for all the misunderstanding, flak, and criticism in the world--not because you're opposed to change, just because you don't believe negativity should influence your decision-making process.
It upsets you to hear people within your own faith become increasingly antagonistic towards their religion, but you do your best to bite your tongue. 
You try to illustrate the logical disparity in the way your treated because of your faith on particular matters, only to be received with more antagonism and criticism. 
You know you're not right about everything, and that's fine, because you're still learning and know that you have a long way to go--but you ARE right about a few things and get attacked because you won't compromise that standard. 
You can see wisdom, and room for improvement on your church's policy--but acknowledge that you don't have any certain idea as to HOW to improve that policy, and simply lack enough information to make an educated guess.
Having said that, you don't mind being held to a double-standard, because you've always held yourself to the highest standards you could think of, and you don't mind that other people do the same to you.
You're a mormon by choice. . .no one is making you stay that way but yourself.  You're still a mormon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A good king. . .

We no longer live in the days of regal monarchs and feudalism.  We have, since then, realized that the wealth of nations is in the goods, services, labor, and infrastructure and not what treasures can be found in a royal vault. Loyalty is no longer the currency of the realm, and colonization and conquest are essentially things of the past.
Those who would've been nobles in medieval times, instead of being the only permitted social class with the right to fight for the kingdom, never take up arms in defense of their titles and wealth.  Political leaders are no longer concerned with God's approval over their reign, only with their approval rating.

In many ways we are better off, and no one would dispute that fact if we looked at standards of living.  However, historically we have always said that we must learn from our failures--but then never discuss them.  Why did monarchy fail?  Why do we still have bits of it in our societies today if it was largely a failure?  What, about monarchy, is a success that enabled the institution to endure for several millennium?
Well, I believe I have the answer--and it can all be summarized in the attributes of a good king.

A good king raises no army, but is the sole defender of his realm.  Every tyrant in history has been labeled so because they compelled their people into conquest and fighting.  A true leader would take the burden of defense and military conquest solely on himself.  If that meant he was the only man taking up the sword to defend the realm from an army, then a good king would do so even to his death.  It is also worth noting that a good king would never, in reality, stand alone--his people would want to defend him and would take up arms willingly beside him.

A good king would always seek to help and uplift their neighboring kingdoms.  Whether political opinion considers them allies or enemies, aide and service would always be provided and available from a kingdom's abundance.  It is hard to go to war with someone who has willingly subjugated themselves to you in service, and harder still to get any kind of public opinion in favor of doing so.  If a king does so at his own apparent expense without any hope of financial return, he will find quickly that trade and cooperation vastly overcome any drawbacks of giving freely.

A good king rewards titles, honors, and responsibility.  He motivates those he rules to be the best they can be.  He harnesses the ambitions of his people to become the best they can be and to work for the good of the nation.  He acknowledges the nobility and capacity for honor in all his subjects, and seeks to recognize and reward them as capable.  He relies more on this than internal discipline and taxation.

A good king is the most prominent patron of the arts.  Without nobility and visibility, we are not inclined to view and study the past--market forces have proven that with modern entities of high culture (symphonies, operas).  What good would titles and honors be if they did not carry historical significance.  Speech writers, musicians, dancers, painters, all of these move towards subjects of note and portray (and often embellish upon) their triumphs and shortcomings.  Having these as part of a monarch's role specifically makes titles of honor carry actual power and influence.  The arts, above all other institutions, make a responsibility of weight and importance beyond the lifespan of the individual granted it.

A good king has no servants.  He is capable of and obligated to fill his own needs.  Doing this, more than any other activity, will enable him to relate and empathize with the people he leads.  If he works hard and fills his responsibilities well, then one would hope that his subjects would want to serve him--but never as a full time position.  Regardless, he is esteemed as the greatest among his people, and is therefore designated as their eternal servant.

A good king spends the majority of his time pondering on the difficulties of his people.  He is worried about all he serves and is never able to set their problems aside until they are solved to satisfaction.  It's not enough to just work through problems, he must address them in a patient, wise, and loving fashion.  Some matters are delicate, some parties are wrong, some issues only exist when given attention.  It is a king's duty to resolve these, and not let them fester or escalate.  If it means the king needs to play the bad guy, or the knight in shining armor, or simply needs to be present to solve an issue, than he does it.  Within the responsibility, I consider the charge to carry forth and encourage research.

Lastly, a good king is accountable to God.  He acknowledges (regardless of his religious background) that there is an abundant supply of powers greater than his own, and that he, himself, is subject to them.  A good king acknowledges and accounts for his actions to these powers.  A godless king is still accountable to the powers of his people, but will never lead his people to be greater than what they already are.  Whichever power you account to, that is what you will lead your people to become and the greater the power you follow the greater your nation can become.

Now for my point (and reason for making this post).  We have a lot of crappy leaders.  Most of us, if we were honest with ourselves, would make crappy leaders.  We don't have guidelines for good leadership--we barely have a measuring stick to serve as comparison.  I am not just referring to political leadership.  These principles apply to any person who fills a role of governor.  Good fathers are, in a way, good kings in their homes.  Leaders of school boards are kings in their sphere of influence.  Many matriarchs are the monarchs of their realm.  Many adults do serve in king-ship style roles in one way or another.

My real hope is that some few people will take this to heart and start to make a measuring stick for themselves to see how well they are filling their leadership role within their sphere of influence.  I don't, honestly, know what the criteria would be for a good queen.  I'll leave that post up to Dani.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shouting (well, speaking in civil tones) at a wall

By Todd

For the first time in my life, I've been actively engaged in the US political process.  This is not something I ever saw myself doing.  I've been a political passivist my entire life.  I have not been ignorant to what's going on around me at any point in my life.  I carefully read all the political debates and opinions regarding homosexual activism along with the judicial activism accompanied it.  I understood the views being portrayed.  I felt it very odd that the voting majority stayed silent on the matter -- with the exception of church entities who rallied their members to vote in support of their beliefs.

I read all the debates and after affects of the abortion issues.  I usually read the peer-reviewed articles about these issues too (though they are rarely without political biases).  I carefully studied each candidate in the last presidential election.  I keep an eye on local politicians and how they vote regarding things in my community, and what things are planned.

I stayed my voting right under the premise that I do not, in reality, know who has the right or best views.  Homosexual activism I felt was wrong--largely because it had to be brought up.  There's no reason anyone should mistreat another human being.  The fact that people felt compelled to bring this issue to the public forum was a symptom of a greater problem, namely that of mistreating fellow human beings in individual lives.

I've read carefully the blogs and posts of the 99% and occupy wallstreet movements, and I concur and agree with their premises for protest--but their procedure is unenlightened and unoriginal.  Ultimately, these protests could merely be a change in form of governance, and not actually improve upon existing governance.

I believe the underlying disease is an unwillingness to accept self-governance.  I can manage my own life better than any proud and haughty Harvard graduate.  Government (and people in general) don't like to give up control, and won't unless compelled to.  For all their learning and education, no one inside of the political forum is particularly wise.  I really just want to be left alone.  I don't want to control other people, and I want those who feel it needful to control me to start sharing my sentiments.

This time around, one candidate has come to my attention.  He largely demonstrates the same half-truth and lack of insight into actual governing problems, but the precedence he wants to set is to get the government out of people's lives.

I'm in favor of that on grounds of belief.  I am a follower of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  In the early history of this church, polygamy was practiced as a way of uniting families and caring for the destitute daughters of God.  It was never about oppressing women as the general public has fallaciously believed, nor concerned with stealing women from their husbands as some people citing statistics about early church leadership would like you to conclude.  It was not founded or even compatible with the middle-eastern tradition where women were considered inferior to men.  It was a means to creating stronger and greater homes.

The US government used that practice as leverage to seize all the property of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, deny its members the right to vote, and threaten them with military occupation should the practice persist.  To me, that was a moral wrong--and I believe people now in days would agree that such rebuttle to a controversial practice was unfair and unjust.  However, the practice of polygamy and the persecution of it was so isolated and the harm of practicing it so small in numerical quantity that it NEVER should've become an issue for a government to be involved with.  Even today, those practicing it are so small in number that they hardly merit our attention (if you want to help women being oppressed inside of fundamentalist compounds, volunteer to help them and share your beliefs with them individually and not with a court-order; even shouting over the compound wall with a megaphone is better than that).

That being said, the precedent exists inside of the US for mistreating members of the Church of Jesus Christ.  We still see it today when popular culture is praised for mocking our beliefs and our well-intended programs (paragraph 3).  We still hear the ignorant masses referring to our practices and temple worship as being cultist.  Regardless of the morality of the situation, the US culture and government are largely at odds with my beliefs.  Ultimately, I don't really care much about popular culture or cinematic whims, so long as it does not interfere with my free practice of religion.

I want them to stay out of temples and temple worship.  I want them out of our beliefs.  I want the US government to mind its own business and to let the people of the Church of Jesus Christ who are not guilty of grievous moral wrongs worship how, where, and what they may.  The larger the government gets, the more oppression the Mormon people will experience.  The more we force our American culture on people, the less likely we are to discover and adopt the culture God would have us participate in.  The more involved the US becomes with our lives, the more the moral and cultural values of the masses will be forced on people of faith.

From what I've written, many people would think I'm supporting Mitt Romney (an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ).  I am not.  I honestly believe, after studying what Mr. Romney has said, that he intends to continue the precedent of increasing the size and scope of government.  He is in favor of war and universal military presence.  He is confused on moral values when the issues are controversial (paragraph 2 and 3).  He says exactly what people want to hear.  His positions and policies are as equally confused as any other candidate.  He is not above ridiculing his opponents for mistakes or difficulties they've faced. His only mention of religion is that his "Mormon" faith will not affect his role as president.

In the end, I believe Mitt Romney is a typical run-of-the-mill politician, and will do little more than point out to the masses that members of the Church of Jesus Christ are people with some peculiar traits to them--a fact that has already been established and accepted into the political and cultural forum.  He might enact some policies that will make more useless bureaucratic jobs in this country, but I believe congress is already well on their way to accomplishing that regardless of the next president.

I don't support any candidates' platform, and I don't think any of them would help with the actual issues we face today (and I'll likely make more blog posts illuminating what I think those are).  For that reason, I have chosen not to participate in government for the entirety of my life.  I refuse to vote in favor of people who would give me the greatest financial gain or personal benefit.  I refuse to vote for people who are morally confused. I only will vote for someone who actually wants to treat the causes of our social diseases and not merely reform programs to address the newest set of symptoms.

I'm voting this year, and I'm voting for Ron Paul.  While his policies are of ambiguously beneficial nature at best, his rallying cry has always been, for the 30 years he's been in office, to reduce the size of government and get it out of people's lives.  He's always voted consistently with that view, and never made a campaign promise that he didn't keep.  I respect that in a politician, even if I have marginal respect for his actual policy ideas.

As an example: Ron Paul believes there should be no federal restriction or support of abortion-despite a personal experience with early abortion where he helped deliver a baby and then saw it literally thrown in a garbage can screaming and left to die.  If I had been there and watched that new born scream and suffer as he died of exposure, I would be outraged.  He personally believes abortion is wrong, but his belief only affected his personal medical practice.  He does not force that belief on anyone, and his voting record on legislation has remained consistent with that for 30 years--to remove both regulation against abortion, and funding for government-provided abortion.  He's not conflicted, he's consistent.

Getting the government out of individuals' lives is the ONLY platform available that could contribute to my faith and my freedom.  Regardless of the good intentions and good results of government programs, they all say the same thing to the American culture "I know how to govern you, better than you do."  That is a cultural and a moral wrong.  It's a very pure form of the deadly sin of pride.

There's no room in a just and fair world for oppression, racism, ridicule or affirmative action.  Treating a group of people different for any reason is wrong.  No amount of legislation or government funds can reverse a personal habit of hatred.

I would be inclined to believe that people in favor of government programs are seldomly found volunteering their labor and talents implementing their beliefs.  How many homosexual activists draft and debate actual legislation--as opposed to those who just shout in the streets that they've been wronged?  How many pro-choice people volunteer in abortion clinics?  How many pro-life people volunteer funds and time towards early sex-education?  How many people are shouting at congress to make more jobs instead of engineering new ideas and avenues of work in their own community and lives?

I'm not conflicted in voting for Ron Paul.  I want the US government to accomplish nothing--I want it to shutdown frequently and force a reduction in bureaucratic nonsense.  I want some counter-voice to be brought into the American culture that says government isn't the answer to individual problems.

I really just want people to stop pushing agendas on me and into the public forum and start actually doing what they say they believe.  That's the cure to the political ills we face, not a political representative or platform.

Friday, October 14, 2011

out of the mouth of a 4 year old

Setting: Home from Preschool, N is in the living room organizing some of her toys.
I'm sitting in the rocking chair with baby Y.

N turns to me and says....

"I fart from my bum. hehehehehehehehehe"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Questions I didn't want answered

I'm trying very hard to teach N about propriety, moral values, and graciousness.  I find getting her to really evaluate and think about her actions is a powerful and effective method.  Sometimes, this forces Dani and I to laugh at what I say to N.  Here's a series of questions that I've asked N, which I found I didn't want an answer to:

N, why are there panties on your head?
N, why are you naked?
N, why are you covered in hair? (it was her own hair)
N, why are you trying to put a stick up your butt?
N, why are you naked, again?
N, why is V locked in the pantry?
N, why are there pen marks all over the wall?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mommy comes home

Dani was able to come home the next day.  She's feeling great, and she got a warm welcome.  Here are the pictures of it.

Still, such a good big sister.

And a good daughter

We got these for you, mommy

Much more tired than mommy

"When's my turn?"

Where am I?

Girlies gone wild

Proud Father, Confused Daughter

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baby's coming (2)

Well, this post I can finally stop convoluting the blog with my employment woes. 

I got an interview with a place I wanted to work at.  It was a little odd, actually.  The first interview was with five separate people, one at a time.  The overall theme was, "can you work in an environment that isn't a corporation, and doesn't act like a non-profit?"

I did that three years ago, so I told them that I could probably handle it just fine.  The rest was some technical questions, which are a standard in this industry.  They all seemed rather pleased about how I was progressing through the interviews--so I took that as a good sign.

I didn't hear back from them for several weeks. My contact for the interviewing process, said it was because of some internal deadlines.  When I went in for my second interview, they sat me down and said, "we want to hire you, you've sort of bubbled up through all the candidates.  The last part of this is that the director of our department wants to interview all new-hires.  He gives sort of a thumbs up or thumbs down for them all.  We've had one other candidate make it as far as you and he gave the thumbs down.  We don't know why--so we'd like to give you a written test.  We know he's going to ask you programming questions.  We figure if you do this and prove you have the skill-set, then we can come back at him if he gives a thumbs down with this much more evidence that you're the right candidate"

So, that made me nervous.  I was asked an interesting programming problem and I gave him two solutions for it.  When he asked me what the benefits were to each approach, I responded,  "Well, one of these wouldn't slow down with huge data sets.  The other one really only has the advantage of being quick to code for--could probably do it in about 3 or 4 minutes."
His response was, "Oh, really?  Would you write up the code for the second approach then?"

It took me about 3 minutes, but I wrote working code up on the board that solved the hypothetical problem.  His response was, "I've never seen anyone do that.  What position are you interviewing for?"

"System test"

"Oh good, we need more testers"

That was the end of the interview.  I heard back a week later asking for some data regarding salary and the official offer.  I start work on August 1st, which is the day after Dani's due date.  I'm hoping this kid comes a week or two early for that reason--and my mother has already planned to be in town July 18-25.  That'd work out so well if this kid comes early--because we wouldn't have to worry about N and V while we run off in the middle of the night to the hospital.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Baby's coming

Well, we've made it 7 months without knowing what this kid will be.  At this point, I just want it to be a surprise.  Hundreds of generations have done it that way, guess I'll get some insight into their lives.

Dani is much more spry with this pregnancy than the previous ones.  She's getting some pains she's never had before in her lower abdomen.  The doctor says those will get worse with every pregnancy.

I posted my resume online, and my phone has been ringing off the hook with job offers.  Okay, not quite that intense, but I do get 2-3 calls a week asking me to interview.  I've had two companies agree to let me telecommute (they're both based in California). 

Probably the most note-worthy position someone called me about was a senior engineer position regarding embedded linux on medical devices for GE.  It would've paid about double my last job--but I'd have to commute up to Murray every day, and I'd likely be pulling 60-80 hour weeks all the time.  I wouldn't be able to finish my degree. . .but that's probably a moot point now.

Of all the jobs available that I've given my resume to, the one I want the most is a performance engineer for a non-profit.  It's only two steps off of what I was doing--so I could pick it up quickly.  Also, I believe it is in the same building--just one floor below it. Technically, that'd mean a shorter commute.  I also hear that they have very good benefits.

I don't care where I work or what I do, so long as I can provide a home for my family.  That's my real concern.  If everything else fails--that is the one thing that I won't let happen.  I'd work double-shifts at McDonalds if I needed to--fortunately most people can see that I have a slightly higher-level skill set than that.

Now if only I could figure out this whole "parenting" skill.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

It's a baby (part 7)

Dani gets to have this baby through Dr. Judd.  He delivered V--and had Dani laughing during the delivery.  I'm very happy at that news.  Also, we'll get to have this kid at a much nicer hospital.  Great news on every front.

I'm still worried about V and this new kid.  V's largely over the "not the mamma" stages, but still greatly prefers her mom over anyone else.  Dani still picks her up whenever she comes bouncing towards her.  I'm hoping that doesn't cause problems as Dani gets more pregnant.

The other cool news is all my older siblings have already announced they're done having kids--so in typical fifth-kid fashion, I'm getting a ton of hand-me-downs.  In this case, it's for my kids from all my nephews.   If this is a boy, then we're taken care of :)

My biggest concern is if this kid gets into sports.  I'm not very athletic, and don't have much interest in sports at all.  I can just see a little boy finding a soccer ball and falling in love with kicking it.  I suppose I should start gearing myself up for that--N could take an interest in it at anytime.

I want to talk a little more about faith.  There's a lot of our life that is dependent on faith.  To me, you need faith to simply live from day to day.  You believe that the sun will rise tomorrow.  You believe that there will be food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe.  You've believed these things for so long that you no longer need to think about them, and it's not difficult to expect that they'll happen.

Well, life is much more enjoyable if you don't expect these little miracles to happen--it's best to keep them as acts of faith.  The times when we typically talk about faith is when it's hard to act on it.

Getting married is a huge act of faith.  You believe your spouse is who they say they are.  You believe that they feel the same way about you that you do about them.  You believe that your marriage will be successful.  To me, the fact that any two people ever get married is a miracle.  There are so many differences in backgrounds and beliefs that putting two people together to spend every spare moment together would be an impossible feat without having God involved.  It's hard to act on that belief, because ending a marriage is a devastating process.

Well, this little kid will be an equally large step of faith--and not having a job while expecting this kid just means a little more faith is needed.

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's a baby (part 6)

Dani and I used to be critical of people who had kids very close together.  We had friends and people we knew who chose to have kids even when their economic or emotional circumstances were quite bleak.  We aren't critical of that anymore.

Having kids is better than being financially secure.  Financial security may (or may not) lead to emotional well being and stability, but having kids is a promise that you will find happy moments in your life.  Every time my little girls come up and hug me, every time they listen--or try to help around the house seems to melt away all the distress and trouble they caused and just make me smile inside.

So, I'm heading into the unknown here.  No promise of employment, not much assurance that this kid will be healthy, and knowing that I'll have a serious battle with depression on my hands very shortly.

I did have an interview at a place called Fishbowl inventories.  Nice work environment--abysmal pay scale.  I wasn't the right candidate for the job, but even if I was then I'd have to take a serious paycut.  In all honesty, I would probably make more money working as a full-time construction worker or entry level police officer than I would there.  I feel like I'm more valuable than that, so I guess I'll just keep looking.

In light of my circumstances, I've decided to start working on a personal project--making an indie computer game.  My general idea is to make a game that can switch between a top-down real-time strategy game, and a first person shooter.  It's gonna be one of the most challenging things I've ever done, but I think I'm up for the challenge.

In other news, Dani is still pregnant, and after the second ultrasound--we still have no idea what this baby is.  I'm hoping to just let it be a surprise now, do it the old fashion way.  Wasn't my first choice for finding out this kid's gender--but if the Doc can't tell, then he can't tell.

The other part of me just wants to take my wife to a clinic or private-sector ultrasound place and see if we can try again.  I must say though, the name Y is growing on me much faster than X--but I'd really like a boy just to make sure that the Millecam last name will be passed on.

I think, admittedly, I'd be more excited about having another priesthood holder on my home in another 12 years.  There's so much I'd love to teach him.  I guess I'll just wait and see.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's a baby (part 5) some bad news

I got laid off. I don't exactly know how the company can justify that--expand the roles of the performance team while cutting it down.
I guess I can't feel to bad about it--from what I heard about 1/3rd of the company got laid off. The company put out a "cloud" product that just didn't have a decent level of stability to it. I guess if they'd let the performance team actually test the cloud software prior to its release, maybe they could've lost less money, or even made a profitable product.
Oh well, my job ends on May 29th. A lot of people got cut, so I really can't take it personally. I don't know why it was me cut from my team--as there is one other member of it with just as much experience as me (who I would say has a worse work track record, but not my call). I think I got cut because I missed a meeting with some guy named Bill Gunther. I really hate executives who think they have the right to just turn people's lives upside down, and not have any sort of accountability for their actions.
I'm sort of divided between "why did I get cut" and "it happens to everyone." Oh well, I'll just accept it for what it is.
On the plus side, the severance they gave me was quite generous--and covers my pay up until about October. If I can find a job and start it at the beginning of June, then this'll just be a very good thing that happened for me.

I think Dani is just shocked about the whole thing--and doesn't know what to make of it. We're both hopeful that I can find work before this job ends--I have two months and that's about how long it takes. I've also kept my eye on the job market since they had the town-hall meeting. There are about four or five positions open in the area that I can fill.

Guess the only open question is whether or not they'll take someone who hasn't finished their degree yet.

This comes back to my views on having kids.  You don't know if you can provide, or properly take care of this kid.   Kids are so much about the future, and the future is always unknown. To me, bringing a child in this world is an act of faith.  You have to believe that what you're doing is the right thing.  You have to believe that you can, in fact, be a parent to this little person.
So, even with this, I still have faith that things will work out.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's a baby (part 4)

(Now we're into Feb-Mar)

Dani is doing much better. We got her into the doctor, and she's feeling much better. She isn't as sick, and we've found some effective things to keep the baby blues away. I got her an elliptical, since I know the low-impact workouts are acceptable at any stage of a pregnancy.
In all honesty, I've been using it more than her. I call it my "nerdic trek" work out--since I'm using a Nordic Track machine, and I watch old Star Trek episodes while doing it. It's a good metric for me, since those shows are always within the cardio workout range.
I hope Dani picks it up again soon, since I know the endorphins and exercise will help her feel better about life in general.

In other news: It's a. . .TBA! (To be announced) We had an ultrasound for the baby, and the darn kid was straddling the umbilical chord so tightly the doc couldn't get a clear look. He thinks it's a boy though, so I'm gonna start referring to the baby as a he, or maybe even as Xavier, as that's the name we've got picked out for this kid.

Also, I don't know why, but I talked with Dani about it. We both feel like something bad is going to happen. We arrived at this through prayer, but the impression is very distinct and surprisingly clear. Something bad is going to happen to us, but it'll be a blessing in disguise. That's all we got.

I'm just praying this kid will be healthy, and happy. I really hope he doesn't have downs syndrome or something like that. I'm just gonna trust the impression that it's a blessing in disguise--whatever it is.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's a baby (part 3)

(This is written as if it were about January)
I'm having a difficult time at my current job. I'll just leave it at that. There are a number of things I could say about it--but none of it would help. We had a town-hall meeting where they told us they were planning on reorganizing the company. They mentioned my team specifically as being better integrated into the corporate body--so I'm not too worried. I just remember all the stuff my dad went through growing up. Company reorganizations in the software world are bad news for everyone.

I've also decided to not go back to school this semester--I figure I'll give it a go spring or summer term. I've also decided to change my major to applied physics--as a capstone project seems favorable to an un-paid 20-hour-a-week for two years research position.

I figure, with a new child on the way, I've got enough on my plate. Granted, I know things will get more hecktic with kid 3. Kid three has been the stopping point for all my siblings. My dad said it's because you switch from man-to-man into zone defense. I guess I'll see what he means soon enough.

Being a supportive husband and father is a challenge. I want to help my family, but sometimes I think the best thing to do is not help. Let my children learn about it--let my wife work on it. I'm more worried about Dani this pregnancy than the previous two. The reason being that Dani gets the "baby blues."

With N, we had the excitement of a new child and becoming parents to mask it. With V, it became a bit of a problem but she quickly bounced back. She seems to be getting them a bit worse this time around. I worry that I won't be able to be positive enough around her, or encourage her enough. I want her to be happy, but I don't know what to do about that.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It's a baby (part 2)

This is the first trimester post.

Dani hasn't really been sick--hard to even tell she's pregnant. She'd kept up with jogging and exercising before she was pregnant--so I'm thinking she might stay with that throughout her pregnancy.

I really just want her to succeed--and I know that exercise gets harder and harder as pregnancy develops, so I've decided to dedicate a certain number of funds towards getting an elliptical in our house. I found one on the classifieds that seems to be in good working order, and I think that'll be helpful for both Dani and me.

A third kid is on their way here. I keep coming back to this idea of "equality" among siblings. Quite frankly, I don't think it exists. V excels in areas that N struggles in, and vice verse. I'm also noticing that V wants a whole lot more time with her mommy than N does.

I noticed this one day when I was trying to balance my time evenly between V and N. I wasn't enjoying playing with my kids as much, and N seemed a little disappointed when I gave V a turn. Oddly enough, V didn't seem to really care about how many times I threw her in the air--at least not as much as N did.

So, as a result--I've decided to not bother trying to make my interactions with my kids completely "fair." I'm just going to show them the love and attention that they want as often as I can, and let them worry about equality.

I don't know how that is going to play out with three kids--I know that Dani and I will have less time overall. I'm very worried that V will have a hard time adjusting. V is just such a momma's girl--and she doesn't really like anyone else. I'm worried that she'll get jealous of her baby sibling, and I don't know what I can do about that to fix it now. I'll just try to expressively show my excitement about this new child around V. Maybe she'll share in that excitement? Who knows.

N loves babies, and loves having new friends--and a baby sibling is both to her, so I'm not worried about that.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New beginnings

Life seems to have an unending tendency to refresh itself. A new school year is coming. I am obligated to finish my degree one class at a time. This next semester I am taking electrostatics, and nothing else. If I could be a full-time student for one semester, and if I could have the consistency required to do so, then I'd drop myself down to 4 or 5 classes left. I can't do that, though. I have a family that depends on me, so I guess I'll just have to chip away at it one course at a time.

It's not so bad--but it'd be nice to be finished. I'll be taking this class during my lunch hour on MWF. I don't yet know how, where, or when I'm going to get time in for studying and homework--but I believe that everything will work out well.

So, here's to another semester at BYU!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's a baby (Part 1)

Dani and I (as of last November) were pregnant, again! Baby number 3. Wow. I'm gonna write the blog post in present tense so you can enjoy the story of it.

When did we get old enough to have three kids? Well, no matter, it's happening. When N was born, I was so uncertain about whether or not I could be a parent, or rather a good parent. Could I change her diaper without gagging? Could I teach her to chose the right throughout her life? Could I help her learn to walk, or even to learn how to do a school assignment?

I think every parent goes through that when they're expecting. I happen to go through that with every kid, and none of those questions seem to get answered--no matter how long I've been raising them. I'm just as nervous from having this third kid as I was with the first--and I don't think that part of it is getting any better.

I'm less anxious though--I know my wife is going to be uncomfortable, and that she's going to get some of the baby blues. The previous pregnancies have helped me understand my wife more, but not necessarily how to be a better parent.

It's hard to keep all my thoughts about this organized. Maybe the best way is to just write out one thought at a time and try to make sense of them all.

I believe my kids are individuals, and therefore worthy of individual attention. Not only that, but my kids are unique, interesting, complex, and dynamic--and I feel it would be foolish to try and mentally fit them into any formula or category. N is N, and V is V--that's how I see it. They are not "my kids" in my mind, they are N--who is loving, wonderful, generally cheerful and my daughter, and V--who is smart, strong, sweet, and my daughter.

I know this next kid is going to be the same way: an individual. I think I'd have a hard time with a kid that deliberately chose not to try and discover themselves.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Game Development

Consistency is the mark of a good blog. So, I'm going to write everything that's happened recently, and have the blog post the next installment of it on 1-week intervals.

I (Todd) spent a bit of time depressed this summer. I lost my job. Losing my job meant losing a lot of stability in my life--emotionally and financially.

When life gives you lemons. . . design a combustible lemon and burn life's house down (at least I think that's how the saying goes).

So, I decided to work. I chose to work--even though I wasn't getting paid for it. I decided to start working, in earnest, on a video game concept I had come up with a while back. I picked up a copy of Unreal Development Kit, and got started. At first, video game programming seemed out of my depth. I knew 3D math (vector calculus) and I knew quite a bit about programming and computers.

It wasn't too far into the project (I think about day 3) that I realized I lacked a very crucial skill associated with video game design: art. I have never painted--and my experience in graphical design didn't extend beyond stick figures. How on earth would I, an non-artistic technical guru, make a video game.

I quickly found out that video games don't just require art work, they require some of the best designed and most intricate artwork which mankind has ever conceived of. Drawing was an asset here, 3D modeling another asset. The only assets I had were an understanding of Gimp and Blender.

It was like being in a machine shop, and knowing how to work all the tools--but being expected to make a complete car from nothing but the steel and aluminum in front of you.

With that, I got started on it! Gimp became a powerful ally in the war against my lack of creativity. I spent hours upon hours agonizing over every little detail trying to make my in-game graphics look believable. It took a while, but I discovered where my niche lies. I can put real-world art into a game environment. I realized that to make explosions, I was starting with internet-found photos of campfires and tweaking them until they looked like an actual burst of flame.

To my delight, Dani owns an HD digital camera, and I live next to some mountains. We took a weekend and I took about 13 Gigs worth of pictures of everything you could imagine. Adapting those into the game environment made a very believable and realistic texture setting.

At that, half of my big problem was solved, so I started chipping away at what I deemed to be the smaller problem--which was programming the code.

Why I'm (still) a Mormon

I don't expect much more to ever be posted on this blog, and I'm largely just posting this to share it with some particular friends....