Saturday, February 28, 2009

Love Poetry for Dummies: "On Second Thought . . ."

I wrote this piece of poetry for one of my creative writing classes at the University of Utah. I was on the bus to school one day, and the entire text, as it appears here, came to me in about five minutes. But I'll let you be the judge as to how creative it comes across in reality.

On Second Thought . . .

Jack and Jill went up the hill
to fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And a half-dozen bloodthirsty lawyers
came tumbling after,
neck braces in hand,
ready to claw out one another’s eyes
for the rights to represent Jack
in his multimillion dollar lawsuit
against the owner of the well
(foolish as he was,
building a well on a hilltop)
and against Jack’s dentist
for his shoddy work on Jack’s teeth.
And, from her vantage point atop the hill,
Jill said to herself,
“If that clumsy twit thinks
that I’m some kind of brainless lemming
and will follow him down yet again,
then he’s got another ‘think’ coming.”
And, with that, she took the pail of water
to make her own glass of Kool-Aid
as the vultures circled
Jack’s bloody carcass.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Final List of 25 Random Things about Me

Mostly in an effort to put a stop to the flood of fan mail I receive each day, demanding that I bring the list of random things up to 100, as promised, I now present the final list of 25 random things about me.

76. People in ward choir are always surprised when I sing along to the soprano parts, but keep in mind that I sang soprano from birth until about age 14.

77. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I am standing in line at the grocery store, a neighboring register suddenly opens, and people who are behind me in line move over to it and check out ahead of me. It drives me up the wall.

78. I worked my way through college in three departments (Missionary, Finance and Records, and Curriculum) at the Church Office Building (aka "the Great and Spacious Building") in downtown Salt Lake City.

79. In my junior year of high school, some friends and I started an underground newspaper titled The Breakfast Club, which was a response to a male-bashing newspaper called Aunty Em. My friends and I wrote under pseudonyms of breakfast cereal characters; I was Toucan Sam. We actually recruited a couple of girls to write articles for us, one of who went by Eggo Mini-Skirt.

80. People in my family have had bad luck with rides, playgrounds, and toys. At Lagoon, one brother cracked his head open while riding the white rollercoaster, and I split my lip while riding the Wild Mouse. Another brother fell off a slide at a playground and split his head open. Yet another brother, while sledding, fell into a window well and split his head open. One other brother was hit over the head with a croquet mallet by our next-door neighbor. (For those of you who know my four brothers, I'll let you try and guess which incident happened to whom.)

81. Speaking of Lagoon, I worked in the Merchandising Department for a few months during the summer when I was 17, and I hated every moment of it. Also, I often witnessed dizzy kids stumbling off of rides and throwing up.

82. Speaking of throwing up, I have tried sushi a number of times, and I still don't like it. In fact, I dislike seafood in general, even though I practically lived on fish for two years during my mission.

83. One of my secret ambitions is to land a starring role in a production of the unofficial LDS musical My Turn on Earth.

84. On one hand, I can count the number of dates I went on before I left on my mission.

85. I have won more than one game of laser tag. I have also been skeet shooting a few times, but I am not as good of a shot with the real thing.

86. Some of the hikes I have completed include Huayna Picchu (at Machu Picchu), Mount Timpanogos, Ensign Peak, Subway Canyon (Zion National Park), a 50-mile hike over the course of five days through the Uintahs, and walking from Bountiful to Cherry Hill (in Kaysville) and back in the same day.

87. I believe that giving stupid names to children is a form of child abuse.

88. As a child, I ran a temperature of 106 degrees, which sent me into a fibral seizure. I almost died.

89. Members of my family and I have owned and played essentially every video game system released by Nintendo: the original Nintendo, GameBoy, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Game Cube, and the Wii. Our favorite game to play at family parties is, without a doubt, any and all versions of Mario Kart.

90. I have had an allergic reaction to medication, and I looked a lot like Will Smith in that one scene in Hitch.

91. I detest James Bond movies. A man who is that promiscuous is no hero of mine.

92. I have seen '80s teeny bopper Tiffany in concert. I also used to have a crush on Debbie Gibson . . . yes, really.

93. Growing up, one of my favorite hangouts was Classic Skating. I still love to rollerskate, though I'm not as good at it as I once was.

94. A good friend of mine met his wife at a Star Wars party I hosted a few years ago. They are now married and have two kids. The Force really is one of the most powerful things in the universe.

95. Both Coke and Pepsi taste like battery acid to me.

96. I learned to ice skate the same week I came home from my mission. A few years later, however, I was diagnosed with fallen arches on both feet, and I can no longer go ice skating, because it is too painful.

97. When I learned at age 11 that I was nearsighted, I first wore contact lenses. I came down with so many eye infections so frequently that, at 15, I switched to glasses and haven't gone back.

98. In Puerto Rico, my family actually owned a chihuahua. They are a lot of fun to have around the house.

99. I have set foot in 29 of the 50 United States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming), the District of Columbia, and one territory (Puerto Rico).

100. If you have read all of the 100 items on this list, then you are a better man/woman than I.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Moving Forward in the Face of Fear

I have a good friend who is very shy when it comes to girls. Come to think of it, shy might not be the right way to say it. Immobilized with fear may be the term that applies here.

Recently, I learned that a girl in our ward has developed a crush on this shy friend of mine. Upon learning of this, I was enlisted to try to help steer him in her direction. I told him only that I had heard someone liked him and asked if he would like to know who it was. To my shock, he replied that he didn't even want to know her name and that knowing there was someone interested in him was scary enough.

I guess I was shocked by his answer mostly because this is a guy who was a dating machine in high school. I don't know what happened between high school and now to change things, but it was definitely something. I was also shocked by his answer because he isn't afraid to do a lot of things. He is one of the smartest people I know, excels in his profession and in his hobbies, serves diligently in his Church callings, is loyal and fun loving, and is otherwise a well-rounded individual. He would make an excellent husband for any girl he married. But dating, let alone marriage, appears to be the last thing on his mind.

I want to help my friend. I want him to be happy and not idle with despair, for lack of a better term. As a friend, he has helped me over the years - in more ways than he knows - through thick and thin, in good times and in bad ones. But I don't know where to start, especially when he won't even let me help him.

It is a terrible thing to be a victim of fear. I know it well from personal experience. I think that the fear of two things keeps most people from dating and achieving the kind of happiness that they long for:

(1) People of both genders fear being rejected by the objects of their affection. They are afraid to make a move or to to do anything at all that will put their feelings out in the open and leave them vulnerable. Yes, there is a chance that he/she will return their feelings, but the possibility of it not happening keeps them from trying at all.

(2) On the other hand, people also fear not being rejected. The possibility of entering into a one-on-one relationship means the loss of a certain degree of independence, money, and time once devoted to personal hobbies and pursuits that will, consequently, have to be sacrificed. So many people are unwilling to give up those things.

Not too long ago on this blog, I mentioned Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin's book Press On, which I read about a year ago. One of my favorite messages in this book contains the following counsel:

Fear can make us run away from things — things like setting and achieving goals, developing relationships, or becoming the people we know we should become. Sometimes fear can even paralyze us to the point that we don’t even try.

Fear can be a thick fog that smothers our dreams. It can be a cage that restrains us from reaching our destiny. It can be a weight that restrains our every step. . . .

We may not be immune to being afraid, but we do not have to succumb to it. My friend Harold Brown once said, “It is better to face fear once than to live in its shadow.” I believe he is right.

We are surrounded and uplifted by the faith of our members and by the hand of heaven. If only we could see that, our fears would have far less influence over us. Move forward with faith, believing you will succeed! Don’t let fear of failure stop you from greatness.

There are two kinds of regret: the regret of having tried and failed, and the regret of not having tried at all. The regret of not having tried at all is far worse than the regret of having tried and failed.

To my friend, I say: If you are reading this, please know that I would not be a good friend to you if I didn't care enough to tell you these things. It is because I care about you and want you to achieve your full potential that I do so, just as you wish the same for me.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Sometimes, I wonder whether people in general are just too darn polite to tell me that I am boring. Earlier this week, a co-worker of mine certainly was not too shy to let me know that some of my writing was coming across as being the b-word.

Granted, she later explained to me in person that her comment meant only that she wanted to make sure we try our best to keep our readers' attention spans on the topic at hand, which admittedly has been a little harder to do with some of the historical figures topics I have been tackling lately. Helping to make Joan of Arc, Nelson Mandela, and Simón Bolívar come alive for people who are just learning to read has been somewhat of a challenge.

The larger problem, I suppose, is that I tend to be rather hard on myself and don't always deal well with what may be perceived as negative feedback. It's something that I guess we all struggle with to one degree or another.

Most of you know that I belong to and perform with two different Improv groups. Whenver I get done with a show, the first thing I usually end up doing is kicking myself for the things I could have said or done better/differently. I wonder about the things I did right, if any, and the laughs that may have been courtesy laughs.

In the dating arena, I have seriously tinkered with the concept of issuing "Get Out of Jail Free" cards to my dates when I pick them up at the start of the evening. The idea behind this would be that she could hand it back to me if she, at any point, became bored or wished to go home. I would then comply and take her home, with no questions asked.

Again, I have just toyed with this idea in my head and haven't actually tried it - yet.

Then again, maybe this is all in my head, and I'm just making a mountain out of a molehill. So, what do you think? Uhh . . . is anyone still there?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

25 Even-More Random Things about Me

With a lack of other topics coming to me at the moment, I guess my goal now is to reach 100 overall random things. So, here are 25 even-more random tidbits about me.

51. I love classical music, but I need to be doing something else (such as reading or working on the computer) to listen to it. I find going to the symphony to be one of the most boring things I can think of doing.

52. My favorite condiment is mustard.

53. When I was a sophomore in high school, I won fourth place in a writing contest sponsored by the Deseret News sports section. My prize was a poster autographed by John Stockton.

54. I had shingles three years ago, and I lived to tell the tale.

55. When I was younger, I hated the fact that I had freckles.

56. In the spring of 2000, I took part in a chicken dancing marathon to help set the Guinness World Record in Fruita, Colorado.

57. I am a big gum chewer and love to blow bubbles.

58. With a birthday in October, I was by far one of the youngest people in my grade in school. I was one of the few juniors in Driver's Ed. and was 17 when I started my first semester of college.

59. I have had a kissing scene in a play.

60. Autumn is my favorite season, though around here it rarely lasts long enough to be thoroughly enjoyed.

61. I have feared I was going to be arrested four different times in my life - twice in this country, and twice in Peru.

62. I tried skiing just once. At the end of the evening, I was so black and blue from falling down that I haven't wanted to go again.

63. I recently learned about Talk like a Pirate Day for a work project I researched and wrote about. I now plan to observe it each year on September 19. (Won't you join me, matey?)

64. Before I arrived in Peru, I hadn't looked up the name of their currency and seriously wondered if I was being ripped off when I traded in my first set of dollars at the bank.

65. I still have a fear of needles, and the only way I can get through giving blood or getting a blood test is not to look at the needle.

66. One of my pet dogs while growing up apparently tried to hang himself.

67. One of my vices is Dr. Pepper, but I made a New Year's resolution this year to give up carbonated drinks. So far, so good.

68. I detest movies in which thieves are the protagonists (i.e. Ocean's Eleven, The Italian Job, Bandits, etc.).

69. For different reasons, I also detest "Friends" and "Will & Grace."

70. Though I attended the University of Utah, I am a BYU Cougars fan. That doesn't mean that I root against the Utes; I just root for the Cougars when the two schools play each other.

71. A lot of the music that my parents subjected me to on family trips when I was younger is now some of my favorite music, too. Included in this group are: John Denver, Anne Murray, Olivia Newton-John, Disney tunes, showtunes, and folk music.

72. I have a good memory and rarely forget a name/face once I have learned it.

73. I far prefer eating cookie dough to eating cookies, whatever the risk of salmonella may be.

74. Though I sometimes make fun of them, I have seen many chick flicks and am always up for some female company to watch one (wink, wink).

75. Unlike my four brothers, I did not get my Eagle Scout award. I was a couple of merit badges and a service project shy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Good Things Come in Threes

As I write this (Monday night), it is at the conclusion of a very enjoyable three-day weekend. I'm sad to see it end. We got to celebrate not one but two holidays over the past three days. Actually, if you take into account that Friday was a Friday the 13th, then I guess we had three holidays - of sorts.

Friday night, I attended the stake Valentine's dance. It is an annual tradition in our stake and is one of the highlights of the year. I have gone to each of the last three and have had a great time at each. One of my favorite parts of the night was getting on the dance floor along with most of the gang from the ward to dance the "Electric Slide."

The girl I asked to the dance was under the weather and couldn't go with me, but instead she was nice enough to invite me over for pizza, even though she wasn't feeling well, and to play Blokus. It was my first time playing this game, and I actually won - somehow. I have always claimed that I would rather be lucky than good, and I think that may apply here.

Good things come in threes, and I got to take part in three Improv shows over the weekend. Our Improvables troupe put on another great show Friday night at Rodgers Memorial Theatre, and Biz and I participated in both shows (featuring the annual "Battle of the Sexes" Valentine's matchups) Saturday night at ComedySportz in Provo. Between shows, I had to go out to my car to retrieve something, I while I was walking along Center Street in Provo, by happenstance, I witnessed a marriage proposal take place through the window of one of the restaurants along that street. Apparently, she said yes, because all of the other patrons in the restaurant applauded.

Then again, maybe that is an all-too common occurrence in Provo, with BYU being so near and all.

On Sunday, I attended our biannual stake conference at the Turtle (aka the Bountiful Regional Center in Woods Cross). All of the talks were great, but Pres. Mabey's (our stake president) message was particuarly memorable. He essentially bore his testimony by singing several Primary songs (yes, he sang them). After church, I got to take part in a dinner group at my friend Steph's place. This is a new thing that we're doing in the ward, and I like the idea. I got to share a good meal with friends and meet three new ward members, too.

For Presidents' Day (today), I got to spend most of the afternoon and evening with my family. My nephews Dallin and Luke helped to keep me occupied for a large portion of the time, playing with Dallin's Lego Star Wars toys and Luke's cars from (what else?) the movie Cars. Toward the end of the evening, most of my nieces and nephews and I watched a couple of episodes of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" together, and they were captivated the whole time.

Yes, my nieces and nephews, it turns out, are even bigger Star Wars fans than I am.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Honest Abe's 200th Birthday Extravaganza

If only Abraham Lincoln had not gone to Ford's Theatre on that ill-fated night in April 1865, he would be 200 years old today.

Okay, well, obviously he wouldn't have lived to be that long. Even so, I feel inclined today to say "happy birthday" to the greatest president our nation has ever had - yes, I can say that even in spite of the media's slobbering love affair with Barack Obama.

All week long on the History Channel, they have been showing various programs dedicated to the life and memory of Honest Abe. I managed to catch one of them the other night, and I must say that the wisdom, leadership, courage, and character demonstrated by this man never cease to amaze me. If a person was ever prepared to lead a country at the time when it most needed a great leader, then Abraham Lincoln was it.

Also, who could forget Abraham Lincoln's supporting role in the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure? It's comedy gold.

In Pres. Lincoln's honor, today I listened to soundtrack of The Civil War, which is one of my favorite musicals. His "Letter to Mrs. Bixby," as narrated by James Garner, is one of the best parts. In fact, just about every speech Lincoln ever made is great stuff and contains wise counsel. Some of my favorite lines of his include:

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.

If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.

My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.

We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.

With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Love Song, Not Fancy or Fine

Unless you have been living in a cave, you are no doubt already aware that another Valentine's (aka Singles' Awareness) Day is fast approaching.

Valentine's Day is one of those holidays that, in the past, I have often endured rather than looked forward to or celebrated. A large part of that is due to the fact that there has rarely been someone else with whom to celebrate the holiday. Even so, I try to be cautiously optimistic each new year and hope it will be the exception rather than the rule.

I know I'm not the only one who doesn't look forward to Valentine's Day. I can see why a lot of people look at it as a reminder that they're alone, they're missing somebody, and/or they are not with somebody. In the last few days, I have heard far more people make reference to the fact that the next week includes Presidents' Day (and, therefore, a three-day weekend) than I have heard talk about Valentine's Day and getting excited for that.

Then again, maybe I have been part of or have been eavesdropping on the wrong kinds of conversations.

All kidding aside, I have recently been reading a book titled Uh-Oh by Robert Fulghum. (You may remember that name; he also wrote All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.) Like his other, more-famous book, Uh-Oh contains a series of vignettes and short stories about everyday life - Chicken Soup for the Soul-type stuff - as observed through the eyes of Mr. Fulghum. In one of the chapters I came across recently, he relates a handful of love stories that he has observed or been part of over the course of his life. None of these stories is particularly earth shattering or worthy of a Lifetime movie, per se, but, rather they are all tiny tidbits and subtle moments, such as the lady who smiled at him from across a crowded diner.

I don't know that I've experienced what anyone might call a love story - at least not in the sense that a movie might portray. I'm in my 30s and am still single, and I haven't come close to being engaged. (Then again, you may get a different response if you ask one or two of the girls I've dated.) But, if you use Mr. Fulghum's definition of love stories, then I guess I've been lucky enough to witness a few.

For one, my parents have a picture of me, back when I was five or six years old, with my arm around a cute little girl about my age. I don't know who she was, what has become of her, where the picture was taken, or why my arm was around her, but I have to smile whenever I think about it. (If I can find the picture, I promise I will scan it and add it to this post.)

In elementary school, one of my first crushes was a girl named Anne, who was in my class. I loved to play jacks back then, and I remember finding excuses to play several games of jacks with her - sometimes letting her win.

In Peru, my companion and I taught the discussions to a man named Julio Gonzales - as we sat in the back seat of his taxi cab. His girlfriend, Melinda, referred him to us in the hope that he would join the Church. Flash forward a few years, and, out of the blue, Melinda calls me on the phone one night, obviously crying with joy, because she and Julio have just been sealed in the temple for time and all eternity.

There is also the girl I dated one summer who worked in the Lion House kitchen and would often bring me leftover/extra pieces of cheesecake. It was through her that I learned that the saying that "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" has some bona fide merit to it.

A few years ago - and I promise that this is the last story, for now - my bishop spoke in elders quorum and invited all of the single elders to pass out Valentines to the single girls of the ward. I took his advice and, on Valentine's Day, spent several hours visiting several girls in the ward, some of whom I hadn't even spoken to before then, passing out Valentines (I think they had Mickey Mouse on them or something). No, I didn't find anyone to date due to this experience. But I did make a lot of new friends.

Well, I've bared my soul a little bit today, and, honestly, it feels pretty good.

What are your love stories, however big or small? Please feel free to share them with me, either in the comments section or elsewhere. Together, we can weather another February 14.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

25 More Random Things about Me

Just in case you didn't learn enough about me on the first list, here is another list of 25 additional random things - because one list is just never enough. (Also, at the moment, I'm fresh out of ideas for new posts.) So, here are numbers 26 through 50.

26. I am fluent in Spanish and can get by conversationally in French. (I once had a nice chat with a taxi driver in Paris.)

27. I also took a semester of American Sign Language in college, though I have now forgotten most everything I learned.

28. Someday, I would like to visit New Zealand and hike the trail to Mordor.

29. I once won $55 in a raffle, but I couldn't claim the prize money because I wrote the name Doug Mulligan, instead of my real name, on the ticket. Big mistake.

30. At age 14, I suffered a concussion as a result of playing a game of "Kick the Can."

31. I have had articles published in three different magazines, including the Ensign.

32. I once pretended to be the home teacher of a new girl in the ward so that I could get her phone number.

33. When I worked at Burger King as a teenager, the sewer system, unfortunately, once backed up and splattered all over me.

34. In college, I took five semesters of ballroom dance, two semesters of bowling, and one semester of ultimate Frisbee. I count those classes among some of the best education I've ever received.

35. I did not have the courage to ride the Colossus rollercoaster at Lagoon until I was 13. I enjoyed that first ride so much that I rode it five more times after that.

36. I have sailed through parts of the Caribbean, including some shark-infested waters. The song "Caribbean Blue" by Enya always reminds me of it.

37. When I was 12, I worked a few Utah Jazz games at the Salt Lake Palace - which was where the Jazz played before the Delta Center/EnergySolutions Arena was built - selling popcorn and soda. One man gave me a $20 tip, which, at the time, felt more like $500.

38. I'm not ashamed to admit that movies often make me cry. Some of the movies that have made me cry include: The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd; Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Shadowlands; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; Black Hawk Down; Saints and Soldiers; Brigham City; Anna and the King; The Ultimate Gift; and Steel Magnolias.

39. I have read the Bible from cover to cover twice. I would recommend skipping a lot of those chapters in Leviticus and all of the Song of Solomon.

40. Only last Christmas was I finally able to help build a gingerbread house that did not topple to the ground.

41. I was born in Michigan and have also lived in Nebraska, but I have no memory of either place.

42. I played the trumpet in junior high school but was never very good at it.

43. I have eaten a guinea pig. It tasted like chicken. (In the Andes, guinea pigs are considered to be a delicacy. Don't ask me why.)

44. One of my goals is to become a contestant on either "Jeopardy!" or "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

45. When I visited Chile, I was hit in the elbow by a passing car. As a result, one of the car's side-view mirrors broke off.

46. One of my personality flaws is that I can sometimes go off like a broken record (e.g., "Normal view! Normal view!").

47. When I was growing up, a friend and I actually poured salt on a snail. No, I'm not proud of it.

48. In high school, I was a big procrastinator. I would often delay reading assigned books in my English classes until the night before we were tested on them, and I would stay up all night reading them from start to finish.

49. On a dare, I once ate a bowl of sauerkraut and chili. Trust me; it's not a good combination.

50. I am a sucker for Southern accents, dimples, blue eyes, girls who wear the color red and/or bring me cheesecake, slow dancing, and hugs.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Of More Value Than Many Sparrows"

Yesterday afternoon, as I went outside to get in my car and head off to a session of physical therapy, I was nearly hit in the head by a wounded bird. I heard a loud thunk! noise, as it collided with something wooden, and then I watched as it fell down to the ground in front of me. It hobbled around, flapping its wings (one of which now looked in terrible shape), trying in vain to get back up into the air and resume its life of . . . whatever it is that birds do.

My first reaction was to double-check and ensure that I had remembered to use deodorant - if you catch my drift. But, as I was already running late for my appointment, I thought no more of the bird and sped off to my intended destination.

Yes, I'm in physical therapy once more. After spending months rehabbing my right shoulder last year following a subacromial decompression surgery, I am back. My physical therapist now says that I have bursitis in my right tensor fasciae latae muscle. (It's in the thigh, just below the hip. Don't worry if you haven't heard of it before; two months ago, I had no idea what it was called, either.)

When you're at physical therapy, you have a lot of time to think. First, you have to sit with a hot pad on the injured area/muscle for 15 minutes. That is followed by five minutes of ultrasound on the affected area. Then, you do your exercises and stretches, which usually take about an hour, and, even while you're grunting and straining through those, you have more time to think. The session often ends with 20 minutes of ice and e-stem electric therapy applied to your sore spot, which is my favorite part and what I consider to be the payoff for all of the hard work you have to do.

While I lay there with the heat pad on, the image of that poor, injured bird flopping around popped back into my head. I suddenly wished I had done something - I don't know what - to try to take care of it, instead of leaving it there like I did. Then, I got to thinking about the well-known scripture in Matthew:

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
-Matthew 10:29-31

You don't have to be a genius to figure out the symbolism of my encounter with the injured bird, which explains how *I* was able to figure it out.

Here I was, surrounded by people with physical ailments of all kinds - shoulder pain, neck pain, wrist pain, knee pain, you name it - and, like the bird, all they wanted to do was to get flying again and get back to whatever it is that people do. And, with that thought, I gained a newfound respect and appreciation for the things that physical therapists do.

Further, I also got to thinking about family and close friends who are living through some painful experiences - of one kind or another - right now, including: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, loneliness, unemployment, separation from a spouse, excommunication from the Church, and the death of a loved one. They, too, are in the loving hands of the Master Healer, and He will see them through.

Was I thinking too much at physical therapy yesterday? Maybe.

Please allow me to add one more thought and conclude this post with mentioning something about J.K. "Jo" Rowling, who many of you know is the author of the seven Harry Potter books. This past week, I did some research on her and wrote up a small biography for my ongoing work project of writing reading passages. Something interesting that I learned about Jo is of the struggle she had to go through just to get that first Harry Potter book on the shelf, and it is a story that gave me a lot of newfound respect for this woman.

From having the initial idea until publication, it took J.K. Rowling seven years to get Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone into bookstores. That was a tumultuous seven-year period in her life that included the death of her mother, a marriage and a divorce, raising a child as a single parent, and a bout with severe depression. In fact, the Dementors in the Harry Potter books represent her experiences in dealing with depression. No wonder that it is the love that Harry's parents have for him that often sees him through those dark times.

She was flat broke when she wrote the book, and she had to type it up on an old typewriter in public cafes in Edinburgh, Scotland. But, she persisted, and she got it done. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Somebody's Watching Me

I don't know if I've been imagining things, or what.

Over the course of the past week, on multiple occasions, I have glanced at my car's rear-view mirror, while stopped at traffic lights, to see multiple people pulling out their camera phones or digital cameras and taking pictures of my car. Really.

A paranoid person might think he were being followed by the CIA, the FBI, or maybe even the Bookmobile's late fees collection department. (True story: My family checked out The Monster at the End of This Book from the Bookmobile nearly 30 years ago, and we never returned it.)

The whole situation reminds me of what used to be a well-loved '80s tune, "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell, which I often rollerskated to at Classic Skating as I grew up. That song has now, of course, been ruined forever by its recent use in multiple GEICO TV commercials featuring a a stack of money with a pair of creepy-looking eyes attached to it.

Of course, there is a possible rational explanation for all of the people who have been taking pictures of my car: my LDSJEDI license plate.

To make a long story short: A few years back, a female friend told me about having seen a car parked at the Oakland, California, temple, and it had LDSJEDI personalized plates on it - through the state of California. We then got to talking and wondering whether anyone in Utah had taken out a similar license plate. Partly to try to impress her, and also because it seemed like a good idea at the time, I applied for and was approved for an LDSJEDI license plate issued by the state of Utah. (My second choice, by the way, was ECTO-1, the personalized plates on the Ghostbusters' vehicle.)

My lady friend was, in the end, not impressed with the initiative on my part. But, as it turns out, a handful of other motorists driving on Utah's roads might be. (True story: I once ended up driving on I-15 behind a guy with SKYWLKR personalized plates. It was one of those rare moments when the cosmos aligned just so.)