Friday, January 30, 2009

Oh David

Ok, I've made no secret of my cougar crush on David Archuleta. Seriously though, just listen to his voice. This is him singing "Be Still My Soul." Goosebumps are guaranteed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ya, I'd say that's a perk of the job

This morning at work the other interns and I were playing a fun little game of apostle one-upsmanship. “My cousins, sister’s, great-aunt, once removed, saw Elder Nelson across the Conference Center pavilion 3 years ago.” “Well I took a class from Elder Hollands son.” “Well I went on a date with Elder Oaks grandson.” “Well President Monson smiled at me once from across the room.” And so on and so forth.

Then promptly at 9:30 Amy, Emily and I went on our daily “smoke break” to the Church Office Building for doughnuts. I know, a habit that must be broken but…why? Well, it was colder than the dickens outside so we took the not-so-secret tunnels part of the way. But since we’re apparently not super important people around here we only really have access to the underground parking. As usual we passed the “General Authority” parking lot underneath the Church Administration Building with its arsenal of Toyota Avalons, but never once have we seen a General Authority walk out of there.

After eating our doughnuts and chattin’ it up with the other “smoke break” regulars, Richard Bennett, Jeff Johnson, and Jeff Cannon (Joseph Smith Papers people) we started walking back. Emily had class so it was just Amy and I. We walked past the GA parking lot and started down the long walkway to the stairs leading up to street level. Our conversation consisted of the normal talk about boys and tv shows like Alias and CSI. Amy was to the right of me and we left the space to the left of me for other walkers.

Then, just as Amy was telling me all about how CSI: Las Vegas is the best one, she stopped talking. I looked over at her and her eyes were following a cart that had just passed us. So naturally I looked at what she was looking at. Is…that…President UCHTDORF?!!! I asked Amy, “was that…?” “Ya! That was the whole First Presidency!” I whirled back around to get a look at the others. By this time all I could see was the back of President Monson and Eyrings heads. But, hey, I SAW them! And they passed right by me! We watched them go all the way into the tunnels where only cool people are allowed access. And I’m pretty sure the security guard on the back was laughing at us with our mouths hanging open. Whatev.

So for my next round of apostle one-upsmanship – “I got passed up by the First Presidency in a cart!” Oh wait, gotta make it sound cooler… “I shared the same walkway with the First Presidency!” No, “The First Presidency looked at ME (cause I’m sure they had to have when as they were coming up to us on the walkway right?)”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Some thoughts on inauguration day...

This morning I took part in an historic moment as I watched the inaugural events for Barack Obama. Here are some of my thoughts from the day.

First, however much I may disagree with Obama’s policies and ideas for the future of this country, I couldn’t help but see the importance of the moment. Monday night my friends and I held our annual Dr. MLK Jr. day party where we go to KFC and then watch Undercover Brother. This “event” is for fun and meant to be a little facetious, however I do recognize the contributions of MLK and how far we’ve come as a nation. That morning as I watched the “I Have a Dream” speech in its entirety, I couldn’t help but admire Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his service to this country. Standing as the leader of a peaceful revolution is not an easy task. Perhaps not since Gandhi has a person garnered so much respect and admiration from his followers that they were willing to endure every kind of opposition for him. This morning as I watched the inaugural events for President Barack Obama I thought of MLK. Not because I think Obama is anything like Dr. King, but because I, like so many others, saw this moment as a victory for Martin Luther King. Anyone who makes changes in the world and does it peacefully earns 5 stars in my book. Martin Luther King deserved to see this day, it’s a shame he did not. As Obama mentioned in his speech, it truly is a remarkable thing that in a country where 60 years ago his father might not have been served at a local restaurant, his son is now accepting that same countries highest office of leadership.

But it wasn’t the skin color of this nation’s newest president that struck me the most. It wasn’t his speech by any means, and it wasn’t even the beautiful music played, or the excitement of the crowd. No, what struck me the most is nothing new. In fact, the same thing has happened 44 times before. Here’s what impressed me: The setting was the West Wing of the US Capital Building. President Barack Obama along with VP Joe Biden sat with their families. Behind and to the left of them sat the former President George W. Bush, as well as 3 other former Presidents – Jimmy Carter, George HW Bush and Bill Clinton. At 12:05pm Obama took the oath of office and immediately afterwards was congratulated with a handshake by George Bush. Just like that, power had changed hands. In fact, according to the 20th amendment to the Constitution, Obama became the 44th President of the United States when the clock struck noon. The switching of leaders in America is as almost as simple and easy as a time of day. Obama then stood to address the nation. He first spoke of his humility at the task before him and gratitude for the trust given him by the American people. He then recognized the former president saying, “I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.”

Do we realize how remarkable this is? Do we take it for granted? Historically, issues of succession have been the cause of wars and revolutions. Without democracy and freedom, dictators may hold onto power until someone, somehow, rises up and removes him. As of yesterday, George W. Bush stood at the head of the most powerful nation on earth, yet as so many presidents before him have done, when the will of the people demanded it, he willingly relinquished that power to another, even one of an opposing party. It was done without struggle and without hostility. This seamless and smooth transition of power in the United States is part of what makes this nation great. Every time the presidential mantle is effortlessly transferred, Americans are proving to the world that we are not a nation of individuals, but truly are a United States.

The last thing I want to do in this post is thank President Bush. I want to be sure that amidst all the popularity and iconicity of Barack Obama, that President Bush’s accomplishments are not clouded or downplayed (probably too late for that). I truly believe the test of time will prove George W. Bush to be a man of strong character and values, one who did the best he could with the intelligence placed on his desk, who despite the worst slander his critics could throw at him, as well as their efforts to undermine him, was able to keep us safe as a nation during his term in office. Does anyone really think 9/11 is the last time an American life will be lost as a result of radical Islamic terrorists? The idea that Pres. Bush has kept us safe these last seven years may not seem like much of an accomplishment to some. But Americans may just come to appreciate it more when we have a leader, now or in the future, who relaxes policies in an effort to curb support at home or abroad. President Bush said in his farewell address last week, "You may not agree with some of the tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions." Time will reveal the kind of President George W. Bush was, and I believe it will be a positive discovery. As one commentator said, “He will be viewed at last as a man who picked up the worst hand of cards dealt to any president since Roosevelt and who played it out better than anyone had a right to expect.” Thank you to President George W. Bush for being willing to make the tough decisions based on trusted advisors as well as your conscience. YOU had the data, YOU had the intelligence, WE DID NOT, and therefore are not at this moment in a position to judge you. Thank you for being the kind of leader America needed these last 8 years. And God bless Barack Obama with wisdom to lead this nation into what I hope is a bright future for the next 4 years.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Calvin and Hobbes

Wow, it's been almost a month. I've probably lost whatever faithful readers, if any, I once had because of my neglect. Well tough, a Christmas vacation post is coming soon! In the meantime, feast on some classic Calvin and Hobbes...