Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Trafalga Story Tournament - Phase 1"

Here is the link to my cousin Eden's latest project:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Night the Lights Went Out in Bountiful

At 1:00 a.m. this morning, the city of Bountiful went completely dark and stayed that way for about three hours.

The city's power company, apparently, needed those three hours to switch over to a new system. The technical jargon behind it all is completely lost on me, but suffice me to say that when Biz, Jeff, and I returned from performing at ComedySportz in Provo at about 1:30 a.m., it was somewhat eerie looking down 500 South and seeing nothing but total blackness.

My car was parked over at Biz and Jeff's place, so upon arriving there with them, I made the careful-but-slow trek home in the blackness, treating every traffic light like a four-way stop. When I made it home, I couldn't get to sleep right away, so I planned on reading a book by flashlight for a while. That's what my plan was. But instead I found myself sitting alone in the darkness with my thoughts.

For one thing, I was reminded again how much we all depend on electricity and light and how prevalent it is in our everyday lives. For another, I remembered how scared of the dark I was when I was a kid and how that fear no longer affects me anymore. I also tried to pay a lot more attention to the things I could hear, my sight being temporarily limited.

If you slept through or otherwise missed the blackout, I recommend trying it out (spending a little bit of time in the darkness) sometime. I bet you'll have an educational experience.

I'll be the one in the corner, wearing the infrared goggles.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Love Poetry for Dummies: "Other Fish"

It's been quite some time since I last published any of my poetry here on the Epistle, and I'm sure you've all been dying to read more (yes, both of you). So, here's my latest offering, composed semi-recently on a slow day at work.

When it comes to "Love Poetry for Dummies," I make no excuses except to remind you that it's not at all meant to be Emily Dickinson or Shakespeare.

"Other Fish"

There’s other fish in the sea,
My brain was quick to remind me,
When she told me she wanted only my friendship.
But no one else has those gills,
Those fins, or those scales;
I’m afraid that’s one ship that will sink.

I’ve lost all my patience;
Maybe you did me a favor.
And I’m out of flies and worms;
I’ve pulled up anchor,
And I’m sailing away;
And I’m also out of fishing terms.

I’ll admit that I got hooked on you.
Like a barnacle, I held on for dear life.
Now the taste in my mouth
Is like cod liver oil;
And that’s just plain gross.

Friday, June 17, 2011

President Nuñez

I received word from Venezuela this week that my good friend Juan Carlos Nuñez, a missionary with whom I served in the Peru Lima Central Mission, has been called as the Church's newest stake president.

Yes, that's right: A contemporary of mine is now a stake president, which must mean that I'm getting old.

Elder Nuñez (second from the left on the back row in the above photo) was never my companion, but nevertheless he taught me a valuable lesson early on in my days in the field. I arrived in my third area, Antares, also one of the poorest parts of Lima I've been to, to replace him and also got to work with him for a couple of days before he took off to his new area.

Antares was my third area in the mission in only three months in the country. My experience in my first two areas had been less than ideal, with a trainer who basically had taught me nothing useful and very little success in my second area. To make matters worse, within 24 hours of my arrival in this new area, I had an allergic reaction to all of the dust in the air and came down with a bad case of conjunctivitis, which is an eye infection you never want to get.

I was sulking over my past and present difficulties one evening when Elder Nuñez sat down to talk with me. I don't remember everything he said, but I do remember this sentence: "You have got to start believing that you were not sent here to fail."

Some of that is lost in translation, but those words stayed with me. And as soon as I really began to work and shrugged off my initial failures and challenges, I indeed saw success as time went on.

So thanks, President Nuñez, for your good advice and for your example. The people in your stake in Venezuela are lucky to have you.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shameless Plug: The Civil War

A shameless plug goes out today for The Civil War musical at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre in Centerville (which is hopefully also the soon-to-be home of the Improvables).

Opening Monday night, The Civil War is a Davis County fan favorite, having broken all sorts of sales records in its two (or three?) previous runs at CPLT's former home, Rodgers Memorial Theatre. It's a well-written and sometimes very touching musical, telling the stories of both the Union and Confederate sides of the conflict, the slaves, President Abraham Lincoln, the nurses, and others.

Thanks to a free ticket from a certain sister of mine who is a CPLT employee, I was able to attend last night's dress rehearsal. It was my first time setting foot inside CenterPoint, and I was very impressed with the new facility. The show is another fantastic production that will not disappoint.

One other thing: my brothers Ben and Steve are in the Monday-Wednesday-Friday cast, playing Confederate and Union soldiers, respectively.

For more information on this production, please visit http://www.centerpointtheatre.org/. The Civil War runs through July 11.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mom and Dad's Excellent 40th Anniversary

Forty years ago today, my parents were sealed for time and all eternity in the Logan, Utah, temple of the Church.

To commemorate the big anniversary, their kids (let's be honest - Biz did all of the hard work) organized a surprise luncheon for them at one of our favorite family restaurants: the Joy Luck Chinese restaurant in West Bountiful.

Most of the Plowmans were present, minus grandson Luke, who was home sick with along his mom, Jessica, who was taking care of him. Our cousin Scott and his family also came up from Lehi to join us for the occasion.

My favorite picture of the afternoon was this shot, featuring a hilarious pose from three-year-old Jackson:
Yup, the kid is definitely a Plowman.

Also attending were "adopted" Plowman, Ryan; some of Mom's former college roommates; Elder John K. Carmack, emeritus member of the Seventy and Dad's associate with the Perpetual Education Fund, along with his wife, Shirley; Dad's tennis buddies; and good friends and neighbors from the Bountiful 18th Ward.

Toward the end of dinner, Mike represented the siblings and gave a short speech to honor the folks, using the acronym SLOF (Sacrifice, Love, Obedience, and Faith) to represent the important lessons they've taught us over the years.

When it was over, Ashlyne and Chantel had a little bit too much fun cleaning up, inhaling a little helium from the balloons:

We also gathered for a group shot:

Mom and Dad, you've been excellent to us. Party on, dudes!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My Dinner with Kenna, 2011

Tomorrow is my niece McKenna's eighth birthday, so today we met up for her annual birthday lunch and shopping trip.

Kenna chose to eat at McDonald's, which is probably what I, too, would have chosen at age eight, and she wound up with a Master Shifu toy, from the Kung Fu Panda movies, in her Happy Meal. She had me time her while she carried out some of the ninja challenges on the box, such as how long she could stand on one leg and how long she could hold her breath.

She may have cheated a little bit, but hey - it's her birthday. I wasn't about to rake her over the coals about it.

After lunch, we checked out both Toys R Us and Target in search of a birthday gift for her. She was very thorough in her search.

Here, Kenna tries her hand at the hula hoop:

You know, for kids?

She found that she was actually quite good at hula hooping, but instead she chose her own Webkins clownfish (aka the same type of fish as Nemo from Finding Nemo) and decided to name him, well, Nemo. She also walked away with a white stuffed tiger to keep Nemo company.

Upon our return to Mike and Jana's home, a rather humorous moment occurred when I sat by Kenna's three-year-old little brother Jackson, who was in the middle of eating his own lunch. He offered me one of his Doritos, and as soon as I took it from him, he held out his hand, palm upward, and demanded, "Five dollars!"

I couldn't make up this stuff if I tried.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Music vs. Muzak

For the last couple of months, I have been attending a Wednesday night Institute class for single adults age 27 and older. We meet at a chapel in Centerville, and attendees come from as far north as Ogden and as far south as the the Salt Lake valley. It's been a great way to meet several interesting new people, as well as to be instructed together in the good word of the gospel.

A handful of instructors take turns teaching these lessons, and one of them is, in fact, local musician Peter Breinholt. It was Bro. Breinholt's turn at the helm tonight, and it's something he shared with us upon which I now wish to expound.

Bro. Breinholt spent a portion of the evening discussing Elder Dallin H. Oaks's recent conference talk about the "good, better, and best" choices we often face. He compared the "best" to good music - this is, after all, a skilled musician who knows what he's talking about - whereas the "good" and "better," in comparison, sometimes seems like Muzak. For example, Beatles music, as performed by John, Paul, George, and Ringo, would qualify as "best," whereas a Beatles song heard in an elevator may be only good or (arguably) better.

Make sense?

I've been pondering on this idea throughout the evening, particularly how it relates to the idea of Ersatz relationships.

I first became familiar with the term Ersatz while watching an episode of "The Big Bang Theory" not too long ago. In this particular episode, Leonard's mother, who is a psychologist, remarks that Howard and Raj's friendship with one another is a sort of "Ersatz marriage relationship"; in other words, due to their lack of success with women, it has become a substitute or replacement for the real thing.

Many of us have these kinds of relationships, I suppose, in one form or another. And they're not necessarily relationships with friends. Some people have Ersatz relationships with their jobs or with their hobbies, be they TV or movies, reading, travel, video games, or almost anything else, rather than seeking for more-important (i.e. "best") relationships with those of the opposite sex.

Earlier this week, I read a rather troubling article in the Deseret News about marriages that have failed because one of the partners has become obsessed with online video gaming to the point of neglecting family, work, sleep, and even basic hygiene and nutritional needs for hours or days at a time.

Of course, none of the aforementioned hobbies are bad; but they're no substitute for the real thing, either.