Sunday, October 28, 2012

This week in review

We started working on the Butterfly. I've never felt so tired after a workout. Ever. But my abs seemed a little more tone than normal the next day, so much so I'm going to start taking a day to focus on the Butterfly once a week. Hopefully I'll be able to do it.

Software Development:
My brother gave me an idea for an Android app about a month ago, so right now I'm actively working on that. About 30 minutes a day. I don't think I have much time outside of that. I'm also working on reviewing questions for interviewing. That's for about 15 minutes a day. I'm also reviewing different programming strategies for about 15 minutes a day. Right now I'm focusing on a book called Design Patterns. Erich Gamma is one of the authors. I need to order some books on testing because I think that was a weakness of mine I picked up on during my Amazon internship. That's this week I'm going to do that.I feel like Amazon taught me you need to be consistently working on your skills and applying them on your own time in order to stay on top of the game. We'll see how I do at that ; ).

So my brother's idea included graphing data, but given the context of what the data is used for, I feel like a graph doesn't show the data accurately enough to be useful. I'm going to suggest to him a different data layout where the averages, highs and lows are shown for the statistics he wanted and have a way of accessing the actual data for more details, we'll see.

Spiritual Health:
So I've been rereading the Book of Mormon over the last 6 months or so. Something I think is really awesome is the feelings I get while reading. I don't get them all the time, but the peace and strength I feel when I read it parches a thirst of mine that's hard to describe in words. Next I'll read the New Testament. That's also a good place to read the scriptures and comes with the same sorts of awesome feelings. These sources show how little hate speech there is in religion and how much God loves us.

I believe the tone towards religion has gotten a lot more judgmental of late but I don't think people are remembering all the good things religion is trying to teach us just because they don't agree with a few points. Something that I find frustrating as a member of the LDS Church is people think we're anti-gay because of the whole Proposition 8 thing. What they don't know is that the LDS Church lobbied in favor of civil unions in Salt Lake City, they also lobbied in favor of non-discrimination of gays and lesbians in Salt Lake in opportunities of employment and housing (check it out here) . I think what people forget is that one of our core doctrines is the sacredness and power of the family unit, and how important it is (a good piece of literature on that is here). Prop 8 was about protecting the family, not about hate or restricting civil rights and the LDS Church's record attests to that. And I really wish there was better dialogue between both sides of this issue so a compromise was reached. I'm pretty sure if both sides talked more about what they wanted and what they needed, they could come up with an agreement and if everyone supports it, then it will become law. Look at how fast voting rights for 18-year-olds came in the 70s. The quicker everyone has the same idea, the easier it is to make it law.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

O Toto, we need to find a way back home... (part 2)

So I believe I've already made a blog post about this experience. It's the experience I had that led to me going on a mission, I'm making another post about it because it plays directly into what I have to do now as a temple preparation instructor.

So I remember I used to be really in love with this song called "When Things Go Wrong" by Airwave. The only place I could listen to it was in a video of some gameplay from a game I played. In the background there was a clip from the "Wizard of Oz" being replayed by actors.

One day when I was listening to this song, Dorothy's phrase "O Toto we need to find a way back home" started echoing in my mind. I can't explain why, or what was happening, but it started resonating inside my mind and soul. Suddenly, I remembered that I was a spirit child of my Heavenly Father and that I lived with him before I was born. At the time I had a horrible relationship with my own father, but somehow that memory was powerful enough to make me realize that my Heavenly Father still cared about and loved me, and that His home, the place I belonged was somewhere I wanted to be.

 It was at that moment I realized I wasn't trying to go back home anymore and I needed to change that. When I was praying about what I needed to change in order to go back home, I got the answer that I should go on a mission. I didn't understand it then, but I realize now the reason why I was given that answer was our Heavenly Father wants everyone back home and He wanted me to try to help Him lead His children back home by teaching them how to build a relationship with Him and how to Follow Him.

The reason why this plays directly into my temple preparation class I have to teach is the first lesson I have to teach is on the Plan of Salvation, where I talk about where we were before this life and where we're going. I can't wait to tell my students about my experience! I'm planning on putting a lot of emphasis on the premortal life and Jesus Christ, because it's only through Him that we can make it back home to Our Heavenly Father.

I guess I have a strong conviction of that too, because I realized the more I've tried to follow Him, the closer I've felt to my Heavenly Father, so I know Jesus Christ is also real and his role is central to Heavenly Father's plan.  I'm SO stoked for tomorrow (when I get to teach the lesson I just prepared).

As a side note, the guy who was in charge of calling instructors for classes in the group of members I meet with on Sundays said that he picked temple instructors first, and that my name came out on top. I don't think that's any sort of coincidence given my experience.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Gay Marriage Debate: Can Either of You See How Insensitive You're Being?

I'm sick of it. I'll say it right here. I'm sick of seeing posts for "protecting marriage" and for "equalizing marriage." I'm starting to find both sides of this debate as highly insensitive. Don't understand why?

Okay this comment is pinned at those for gay marriage: How would you feel if it was taught at schools that gay marriage was a sin? You'd be protesting right? You'd be showing how hateful that is, right? Well guess what? You're doing the equivalent to the group you see as your "enemy." They believe that the family is an institution given to them by God for the stability and strength of society. Studies show that even with problems, children in a home where the parents are still together tend to succeed more (even when there's issues between the parents). The conservative right point to things like this to prove that God had society's best interests in mind when he defined the family for it.
What does this have to do with gay marriage being legalized? Well if it's made legal, it will be taught as "normal" and "acceptable" to children in school of people who believe in a different idea of the family based on their beliefs. How is this wrong/bad? It's teaching a religious doctrine to a people of a different religion. It's a form of religious intolerance, just like teaching homosexuality is a sin in school would be. Or like forcefully teaching Christianity to Muslim students would be. In a sense, you're trying to define someone's beliefs for them.

Now to the people AGAINST gay marriage: How would you feel if you were denied rights for loving the person you're married to now? What if you couldn't get married to enjoy those rights? Would you see this as "fair"? What if this sort of oppression was thrown on you by a different religion? You'd be just as up in arms as the pro gay marriage community is now. You'd be bashing that religion left and right. You'd see their religion as ridiculous wouldn't you?

So I'm just going to say this now to both of you: You both are being short-sighted and insensitive towards the other side.

The real solution would be for the state to define something separate that doesn't involve a religious idea, and protect rights of couples (of both kinds) underneath that new blanket. And then if you wanted to get "married" then that was something you did with your religion.

I could see members of the conservative right not liking this, but my question is: Don't you want marriage back instead of forcing it on others? Aren't you sick of seeing celebrity couples like the Kardashians ruin the definition of marriage over and over again? If this sort of change was made, then couples like the Kardashians would be getting "civil unions" and your kids wouldn't have to be taught by bad examples what marriage is, they would see that through your example and your life. The best way to teach something is to live it, right?

To be honest, I side more with the right on this topic. I've experienced things that have shown me there's more to this world than we see with our eyes and limited understanding. I'll even say it right here, God gave us the family unit and marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman. But I also accept others have had different experiences in their lives and haven't experienced anything to let them know that He exists yet. I wouldn't want to hurt them based on their experiences, but I also expect that same sort of respect in return.

EDIT: Correction to potentially offensive language. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Response To AAP statement on Routine Infant Circumcision

Recently The AAP issued a statement saying the the benefits of male infant circumcision outweighed the risks. In response to this a group of doctors mustered research disproving the grounds on which the AAP made this claim. Unfortunately, main media channels are parroting this inaccurate research.

The group that made the response report is Doctors Opposing Circumcision. Their site may be found here.

Here are some highlights of their research (I left the references out of the quotes, you can look at the statement yourself to find them):

1) HIV claims:

"The decision to create a new task force was based on the publication in 2005 and 2007 of three randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that were carried out in Africa. The three studies purported to prove that male circumcision provided a 60 percent reduction in female to male heterosexual transmission of HIV.

Since 2007 a substantial number of papers have been published that debunk the claims of the three RCTs. The task force totally ignored these important papers. Recent evidence shows higher rates of HIV infection among circumcised men as compared to non-circumcised men in numerous population groups, however the task force did not choose to report this information."

2) STD infection claims:

"The task force claims that male circumcision reduces STD infection by forty to sixty percent. The task force frequently uses unreliable studies from Africa that may not be applicable to the United States, of which many were produced by the pro-circumcision Bloomberg group.

American studies that do not confirm the task force hypothesis that the foreskin contributes to STD infection were ignored. Van Howe (1999) said in his systematic review, “In summary, the medical literature does not support the theory that circumcision prevents STDs.” A longitudinal study of a birth cohort in Dunedin, New Zealand found little difference in
STDs in circumcised and intact males."

3) Motivations of the task force that issued the report:
  •  Susan Blank, MD, MPD, an infectious disease specialist with no expertise in pediatrics and a well-documented religio-cultural bias in favor of male circumcision.
  • Andrew Freeman, MD, a pediatric urologist, who is reported to have
    circumcised his own son for religio-cultural reasons
  • Douglas Diekema MD, who TWICE –both in 1996 and again in 2010 — on
    behalf of the AAP, proposed a lucrative “ritual nick” to the genitals of female children, despite the existence of a U.S. federal law forbidding this practice
  • Steven Wegner, MD, JD, a doctor-lawyer, who serves on the AAP Committee on Health Care Financing, (whose sole focus is the income flow, over $1.25 billion, annually, —$2.25 billion or more if circumcision could be made mandatory).

4) The REAL motivation for the study:

The AAP has been concerned about state Medicaid agencies stopping payment for unnecessary circumcision because its doctors get less money. The protection of the source of the money is so important to the AAP that a section on financing newborn circumcision by third-party payers has been included in this so-called medical position statement. A careful reading of this 2012 Circumcision Policy Statement shows that the task force was created five years ago with the clear intention of using fear of HIV infection to make infant circumcision nearly universal in the United States. If this happened, the medical industry’s
income from circumcision would increase from about $1.25 billion to about $2.25 billion.

The AAP, ACOG, and AAFP apparently saw HIV infection prevention as the way to make this happen. Unfortunately for their scheme, the three African RCTs have been debunked in the five years that have elapsed since the formation of the task force. One apparent purpose for this statement is to cause taxpayer-funded Medicaid to start paying doctors to perform non-therapeutic, unnecessary circumcisions again. To increase the income of their members (fellows), these medical associations are willing to put all American boys under the circumcision knife.

5) My Thoughts:

I'm outraged that recently in the media there has been a slough of pro-circumcision reports based on studies that have been debunked. I'm also disappointed in the mass-media for not taking the time to do more investigation before brainwashing Americans into believing they should take away the right of their own children to make decisions about their own body. The few people who I know who are uncircumcised would never be circumcised if given the choice. To me, I see infant circumcision as a gross violation of human rights, not just in terms of the pain caused but also in terms of your rights over your own body.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Rational Side of Evil

The recent massacre at a "The Dark Knight Rises" midnight showing has caused me to reflect on another instance of senseless murder I saw in Belgium related to "The Dark Knight." A kid who idolized the joker went into a daycare and started killing children with a knife and even some of the caretakers before he was finally apprehended. When we hear about these tragedies we often think "What would be something that would drive someone to that kind of senseless and barbaric behavior?"

The funny thing about that question is the Batman trilogy itself answers those questions. The series itself is in a lot of ways, a metaphor for the world we live in. It shows the corruption inherent in society and even explains the dark psychology behind its villains. In most classic superhero films, there's this boring storyline that goes something like "Epitome of evil shows up, Hero fights it, almost loses, but eventually triumphs and evil again vanishes." Whereas in the Batman trilogy we see the villains (representations of evil) and how they came to rationalize their behavior based on society's corruption and how they can get away with it using the corruption that itself is rooted in society.

I think it's this rationalization and metaphor for our world that is starting to affect the minds of some people who watch the films. I think they're starting to see the intended metaphor and the rationalization the villains go through, and even on some levels agree with their rationalizations, and then themselves decide to become villains. Look at the information on the shooting suspect in the latest string of murders related to the films: he never had a criminal record, he was a Ph.D. student, he showed no signs of mental instability, he accrued his weapons over a long period of time in realistic quantities so as not to draw too much attention to himself. This is someone who premeditated and planned this act in a very smart and methodical way. This is someone with no record of violence. He's not insane. He's no epitome of evil. He decided to become evil, FOR A REASON. I don't believe in his justifications, but it must be admitted he became evil for rational reasons.

I think too often when we see evil we think that its perpetrators are weaker than us in some ways. I think too often we refuse to see that sometimes, if the environment promotes certain behaviors in people, those behaviors will become more pronounced. It's corruption in society that occurs on a large scale that causes this evil, not insanity, not weak people. 

In fact, the series itself tends to never show society as healing from its corruption. The storyline usually goes: Batman defeats the villain, but in the next film/episode, another villain is able to rise because of the evils in society. I think the overall message of the series is that it's our job to change society if we want to conquer evil. Unfortunately some people who watch this series are starting to miss that and become the villains themselves.

I hope the next time one of these people who understands the villain's mind watches the series that they look a litter deeper to see its overall message and instead of going evil, decide to face society and try to change it. I'm grateful for friends I have that around me are examples of doing good even when society's corruption affects them in negative ways and also try to change what's around them for the better. I'll do my best to help them.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Baptisms for The Dead

So as a member of the LDS church, I've participated in what we call baptisms for the dead. As you probably know, there's been a bit of controversy surrounding these lately, so I'll take this opportunity to explain them and my experiences with them.

So what is baptism for the dead? As the Bible states, we believe one needs to be baptized in order to return to live in our Heavenly Father's kingdom (John 3:5). Now what does this mean for those who have passed on without the opportunity to be baptized? It's obvious that baptism was intended as an essential rite for salvation. Well, the Bible also alludes to baptisms for the dead (see 1 Corinthians 15:29), and this can be seen as the solution to this problem. We believe that with the restoration of the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith this one ordinance that the early Christians had that was brought back into use.

That sounds creepy, how is it done? Essentially, you do perform a baptism using a living person, except the wording in the ordinance is changed to reflect you're baptizing the living person on behalf of the deceased. Nothing creepy.

So does this mean everyone who you do this for is converted to the LDS faith? No. We believe that the deceased has the opportunity to accept or reject any ordinance performed for them.

So why was this being done for Holocaust victims? Well, usually members of the LDS faith submit names of deceased relatives so this ordinance can be performed for them. I can understand why someone having studied the horrors Holocaust would think "well that sucks, who's going to get this ordinance performed for all these people who died without ever having families? They have no posterity that might end up converting to do it for them," and then deciding to submit the names for them. I don't know enough about the issue to know who was involved, but I'm sure it was done with good intent. It's also been preached that eventually everyone will get the chance to accept or reject the Gospel, so that's why names of some famous people have been submitted and done, someone out there being overzealous. Whenever I went, it's been the names of people I've never heard before, no one famous, submitted by a member who has trouble making it to the temple often enough to do work for their all of their ancestors they've found. In the case of the Holocaust victims, recently the Church has been making an active effort to stop members from doing things like this. The members responsible in this latest round bent over backwards to do it (in order to get past the barriers against it they would have had to) and faced some sort of disciplinary action. What kind it was wasn't revealed, but the Church is fighting abuse of this system.

At this point, I'm going to take the liberty to explain what it's been like growing up as an LDS youth going to the temple to do them. First you had to get a recommend to go inside the temple to do them. All that entails is speaking with ecclesiastical leaders to ensure that you're keeping the standards you promised to keep at baptism. When we did them as youth, we were the living person who was baptized for the deceased. Priesthood leaders with the proper authority to perform the baptisms came along to baptize us.

Looking back, I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to do them because I've had spiritual experiences while participating in them. I remember when I was a very young teenager after we finished, one of those leaders told us about an experience he had. He told us about a letter he got from a friend of his dead son. The person who wrote the letter related a dream she had where she spoke with this son after his death. In the dream, she asked "how do I know this is real?" or something to that effect. And then he showed her a part of his arm that was covered by his shirt during the viewing. It showed evidence of some kind of past injury. This man explained that there was no way his son's friend could have known about that because he was one of the few people who had seen that injury. Now I don't go off of the faith of others, but that man was a family friend, and it was one of those things, like my Dad's testimony, that gave me the desire to find out for myself if there really was a God, if there was something more to this life than what we see, if Jesus Christ really did die for me my sins and if He called a prophet to bring his Gospel back in these times.

Interestingly enough, I had the opportunity to participate in this ordinance this past week. Except this time around, I had the priesthood authority to be the one doing the baptizing and they needed me to do it. This was a really cool experience for me because I felt something while I was doing it. And it was a reminder to me of who I am as a son of my Heavenly Father and a bearer of the priesthood. Sometimes I forget I had been given that priesthood that was restored because I'm so busy with the things that I do. Sometimes this world is so busy that you forget about the things that are most important but when you do the right thing, you're reminded of them. I'm grateful for Jesus Christ and his Atonement for mankind. I'm grateful for the priesthood. I'm grateful for my Heavenly Father and the Gospel.

EDIT: I'm currently asking the family friend for more clarification, so there might be a detail fix or two coming up.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday's Workout (and maybe last)

So I think we're playing water polo the next (and last) two classes, . Before I post today's(and possibly last) work-out, I'd like to look back at the progress I've made this semester.

1) I got my best time on a 33-lap (1 mile) swim! 36:18. I'm working to trim this by a lot so when me and my brother compete at the Splash and Dash next year, I'm not the worst swimmer.

2) I can flip-turn. I'm still working on getting it into a steady freestyle for more than 4 laps, but it's coming. I guess there's a few kinks on my body orientation I need to work out, but it's coming.

3) I learned I could swim a mile. I didn't think I could, but my little brother said that he wanted to do the splash and dash as a team, and in order to, I would have had to do a mile. So after our discussion, I took a deep breath, jumped into the pool and did it. I was SO tired afterwards, but happy I knew we'd be able to compete as a team. I guess I learned two things from this. 1) You're capable of more than you know you are. 2) Sometimes you don't realize your capabilities until something pushes you to.

So here it is, the last (and final) work-out from this semester:

200 yd warm-up
Do the following twice with 15s rest between
50 yd Kick
50yd Butterfly
50 yd kick
100 yd Breast Stroke
50 yd Kick
150 yd Back stroke
50 yd kick
200 yd Free Style

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday's Work-out

Sorry guys I forgot Tuesday's work-out, it's not getting posted this week. But here's today's.

200yd Warm-up

4 x 50yd kick @ 20s rest
4 x 25 yd fast @ 40s rest

do this 2 times:

200yd pull buoy @ 30s rest
100yd back stroke @ 20s rest
100yd breast stroke @ 20s rest
2 x50yd fast freestyle @ 1:15 interval

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Book of Abraham

So during the 1970s, there were a powerful number of attacks laid against the Book of Abraham, a piece of LDS canon found in the Pearl of Great price. I need not even post those attacks here because of the incessant number of anti-Mormons that troll everywhere they can in the wide expanse of cyber space (just look it up on wikipedia).

Now, when I first saw these attacks I was very confused, because at the surface, they seemed valid, but at the time I had just had a very powerful spiritual experience and wondered if I was crazy, or what I should even believe. Luckily, I was able to find an old article written by Hugh Nibley and LDS scholar that lays those claims to rest. I know you're thinking "but Eric, he's LDS, isn't he biased?" That's a valid concern, but everything he references to lay those claims to rest are historical accounts or even research done by non-LDS scholars, so it was good research.

From this experience I learned what it meant to have faith. I learned that faith was relying on the answers that Heavenly Father gave me, not on what my head or others tell me. How did I learn this? I found out that many members of the Church actually left the Church due to these attacks. What was even more interesting though, was that in disproving some of the arguments against the Book of Abraham, Hugh Nibley actually managed to provide evidence of its divine origin.

A link to Nibley's article can be found here.

On page 11 of the PDF (or 219 according to numbering in the PDF), Hugh Nibley points out that recent discoveries have validated the existence of the city Olishem referenced in the Book of Abraham. To me, this gives evidence of its authenticity. The research he references was dated @ 1985, over a hundred years after the translation of the Book of Abraham. So my question to the naysayers is how did Joseph Smith know that city even existed if he wasn't translating a valid document?

This if anything, gives evidence of his abilities as a prophet.

Now those who know me well know that I would be the last one to join the Church over "logical" evidence or even encourage others to, but I'm posting this to show the world that the people who troll the LDS Church will neglect evidence even when it's there and to take everything they say with a grain of salt.

The reason why I'm posting this is because recently there was a Washington Post Social Reader article that referenced the attacks on the Book of Abraham in an indirect way when talker about Park Romney, a relative of Mitt who is campaigning against the LDS Church. I'm also getting the feeling the attacks on the Book of Abraham are being posted a lot more places because the brother of a friend of mine is having problems with his testimony due to hearing stuff on it in a podcast and I felt this is a piece of knowledge I needed to share with the world.

Now, if you were to ask me how to know the LDS Church is true or why you should join it, I would tell you to listen to what the LDS missionaries teach you, apply those teachings in your life, see what the Gospel gives you and pray for an answer. The things you should be looking for are the good the Gospel brings to your life, the answer that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Saviour and the answer that Joseph Smith was a prophet called to bring back the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ after a long night of apostasy after the death of the Christ's apostles. When you get those answers and you see those things, you know what to do. The Gospel has opened a Pandora's box for me, because it's brought both trial and also the greatest good in my life. But it's a box I would open again if given the second chance, because I know my Saviour lives, that my Heavenly Father loves me and that I can make it back to home to Him.

One of these days I'm going to post this article formatted well in a blog post because digging up the PDF required me using a lot of "tricks" to get it from its source (it's not directly linked from the site I originally found it on anymore) and the world apparently still needs to know why the Mormons have moved on and will continue to when stuff like this comes up.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A powerful remedy (respiratory)

So I've been sick this past week with a fever and light cough. I recovered from the fever on Friday, with a light cough left over. Then on Saturday, that cough was starting to get really bad. Why? It was unproductive, meaning no mucous was coming out or even moving when I coughed, but I could feel mucous building up in my lung. I was thinking "o crap, this is the last thing I have time for, being sick longer and having to go to a doctor..."

So in an act of desperation, I looked up online remedies. I found one for a garlic peppermint lemonade. I realized the lemonade probably wouldn't be as good as a tea because the warmth of a tea can help your body warm up and loosen mucous in your lungs. So using that recipe, I made the following tea:

2 cups of boiling water
2 cloves of garlic (peeled, by the way I found out a clove was a piece of a bulb from this experience....)
1 package of peppermint herbal tea (should be made from only peppermint, no other ingredients)
1 and 1/2 tbs of lemon juice (this is about half of what's in a fresh lemon)
Sweetener (usually honey) to taste

1. Cut or mince cloves. Remove water from heat, throw in garlic and peppermint tea.
2. Let the water steep for a couple minutes while the heat source is off. After a couple minutes, put the water back on the heat source (it shouldn't be bubbling when you put it back on), then turn the heat source on to a low/warm setting (the most you should be getting is tiny bubbles). Let the water steep a total of 15 minutes.
3. Remove water from heat, Remove peppermint tea bag. Add in lemon juice and sweetener.
4. I kept the garlic in and ate it afterwards, I'll explain that later.

So it worked! My coughs started getting productive about an hour afterward. Sunday morning, there was no "ball" of mucous I could feel in my lung, even though I was still coughing, I could feel I was getting better. And I felt completely fine after taking it again Sunday morning. I guess I had 2 doses Saturday night (because I felt like it was wearing off and I needed it again), but it seemed to do a good job of loosening up the mucous and I'm sure it helped kill bacteria in my respiratory system. (Did you know that your breath stinks from garlic because sulfurous compounds in it leave through your lungs? So basically I was fumigating the bacteria in my lungs.)

I also did some research on garlic afterwards. It turns out that in a test tube, it's anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It's not clear if it has the same effects in the body, but the Cherokee did use it as an expectorant (and they're right, I know from personal experience now...) So it definitely can't hurt when you're battling a respiratory infection.

I'm in no way advocating not going to the doctor if you have an emergency, but if a remedy can heal you to prevent that, what do you have to lose from trying it?

Monday, March 12, 2012

I'd had enough

So today I had my doctor's appointment for a beard card here at BYU. Actually, to be quite honest, I had been breaking the honor code guidelines on facial hair for years, because I knew that if I shaved every day like I was supposed to my face would break out and get irritated. So for the last 2 years since I've been home from my mission I've been dodging the rules by shaving just enough to get away with it.

Well last Monday, I had had enough. Why? Because my usual strategy was to try one of two offices at the RB (the building where the pool is) for my pass to use the facilities and if one didn't take me, try the other one. Well this time the guy behind the counter swiped my card BEFORE telling me I wasn't shaven. For those of you who don't know, they'll only swipe your card once for the pass, they'll think something is up if you come in again for the pass and they see you've already been swiped for it, so he pretty much trapped me.

Well after he told me I wasn't shaved well enough, he gave me a razor and some shaving cream. I knew there was going to be problems, not only because my face wasn't quite ready to be shaved again, but the razor that he gave me was low-quality. Well I used it. My face was covered in blood. The so sick it's kind of funny part? He had the nerve to tell me "thank you for doing that" while giving me the pass, with my face covered in blood.

I'm just sitting there thinking, if you gave me another day, I would have been shaven, there's a reason I don't have a full-out beard. Not only that, but this rule was put into the BYU honor code due to the counter-culture (hippie) movement. The beard was one of its symbols. BYU didn't want to be associated with those elements so instead of just including Gospel standards in the honor code, they also added elements that were in direct opposition to the counter-culture movement during the 1960s. The reason for this is clear. By implementing those rules into the honor code, BYU was preserving itself from becoming a breeding ground for that movement.

The irony? There are still hippies, but they are few in number now. The world still has values similar to what it adopted around when the honor code was implemented, but the beard isn't what's associated with low morals any more. In fact, someone who has a well-trimmed beard is probably keeping the spirit of the dress and grooming standards of BYU better than some of the Math majors in the Talmage building that seem to have issues with showering...

I'm not mad, I mean seriously, I guess I wasn't keeping my word, and now I will be, because from what I understand I passed my appointment today. I should have done this sooner, just for honesty's sake.

But what irks me is the following:
1) The rule is clearly outdated. Moustaches are allowed now and beards aren't. The reason is many people I know associate moustaches with pedophiles (thank you Peewee Herman...)
2) If you look hard enough, it's also a form of discrimination. Not every guy can even grow facial hair, so it's unfair to those who can to be forced to shave most of it off. I agree that we should keep a well-groomed appearance, but it does seem to ask more of people who can grow facial hair than those who can't.
3) The rules about facial hair have never been reviewed since their implementation. I mean these rules are a little old now, shouldn't we take anachronisms like this out? And seriously, if we're going to ban any kind of facial hair, it should be moustaches. Seriously.

I hope no one gets the wrong idea when reading this post. There are plenty of great people at BYU. Most of the people who gave me passes the last two years would only complain if my facial hair got really out of control, this last semester has just been a bit worse than normal. But I really wish someone would take the time to review the honor code and rewrite it to reflect what was meant and not the cultural issues of the 1960s.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thursday's Swimming Work-Out 3/8

Our instructor was gone, and so we had a sub (so no helpful tips : (. But on a completely different note, I noticed our sub must have the easiest job ever, write a bunch of numbers on a board and then start reading her favorite book).

So here's today's work-out

200yd warm-up
100 yd kick (I split this between dolphin and flutter kicks)
6x 25yd on a 40s interval (1, 3 and 6 fast)

Do the following 2 times:

4x 50 with 15s rest between
3x100 free style on 2:00, 2:15, or 2:30. I usually did 2:15

Afterwards, I practised flip turns. It was awesome! I love doing them, I suck at them, but flipping in the water feels awesome, it gives me a rush.

EDIT: I guess I really liked the 25 yard on 40s intervals. It really helped me focus on my stroke and I was really fast when I was focused (one of the times I got the 25 done in 21s, my target (some day) for a 50 to 200yd swim is 20s for every 25yds of it. I can't sustain that speed though. Yet...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tuesday's Workout (And flip turn tips)

Sorry guys (well I don't know if anyone actually looks at these posts, but if you do, here I'm sorry). I didn't get around to posting my workout from yesterday). Tuesday's work-out is here a long with some of my experiences when learning flip turns.


200yds Warm-up
4 x 50yds with 20s rest

Do this twice:
3x 100yds of kick with fins
100 yds of swimming with fins @ 2:30 interval

4x 50yds with fins on a 50 second interval

Flip turns:

So yesterday long after class I started practising my flip turns. First, I practiced flipping right next to the wall and pushing off with no momentum. The hard part about flipping with no momentum is you need to bring your legs in at the right time in order to flip properly.

Flipping with no momentum goes something like:
1) Make sure you have air in your lungs.
2) pull your head into your chest, you should start curling your torso in after your head gets to your chest. Be sure to start breathing out when your nose starts getting upside down with respect to the surface of the water, otherwise you'll get water up your nose (you'll get better at not getting it up there the more your practice).
3) start pulling your legs into your torso after you've rotated enough that it will help the flip go to completion

Flipping with momentum is easier because if you have enough momentum, your body will just follow your head. I did notice however that if I didn't bring my legs in while flipping with momentum, I tended to move the opposite direction away from the wall sooner than I'd like to (making pushing off the wall harder).

What I did while practising with momentum was I would start swimming or push off the floor while half-standing and then right when I got close to the wall, force my head to start the turn (I almost felt like I was forcing it to do the turn to avoid collision with the wall). If you're scared of the wall, then you'll never get close enough to be able to push off when you're done.

Other than making sure that I do my flip completely straight (sometimes I end up kind of sideways), I have some issues with orienting myself in the water properly. My friend who coaches swimming gave me the following advice:

try after the flip to just come out of the water straight on your back and then flip over to continue freestyle, get use to that first then once your use to that just flip over on your belly right before you emerge from the water. it doesn't have to be perfect since you probly won't use it in a race but it will help your endurance for the race since flip turns help your body get use to holding your breath more :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

More lameness

So today we reviewed for the only test you have to take for my swim class. So yeah, nothing to report today. I took it right after and got a 93, so I'm going to pass the class! Yay!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NO workout today

We did our timed swim test again. So I didn't get a workout. But I did shave about 45 seconds off of my last 650 yd swim. I'm going to miss having an instructor. I noticed the same thing when I had a swim instructor last winter, I improved a lot.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Mile!

So I actually didn't have class yesterday, so that's why I didn't post my work-out (I actually just mimicked the last one I posted on Tuesday when I went swimming).

BUT I did something awesome today! I swam a mile (72 lengths or 36 laps). Straight. Without stopping.

Upon exiting the pool I felt full of energy and completely drained at the same time. But overall, I'm feeling awesome today because of it.

So the reason why I even attempted a mile was my little brother wanted us to be a team for BYU's splash and dash. And in order to compete as a team, the swimmer has to go a mile and the runner has to do a 10k run. I'm our swimmer, so I had to be sure I could do it. My goal is to do a 1-mile swim every other day in preparation for the splash and dash. I'm going to try adding in laps where I push myself harder. Today it took me 40 minutes to finish. I'm going to see if I can push that down any farther between now and when it starts (April 6th).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Last Thursday's Workout

Hey Guys (or world) I'm sorry I didn't post yesterday, but for all you swimmers out there who may be curious what we're told to do in our swim class, here's Thursday's work-out (posted a day late).

200 yd warm-up (big surprise, huh?)

8x 50yd of kick drills with 20s rest in between laps. I split them between the flutter kick and the frog kick you do for breast stroke.

10 x 100 yd on a 2:00 or 2:30 interval or 30s rest.

After, I did 5 laps of back stroke and 1 lap of breast stroke (of my own accord). Each lap is 50 yds.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Today's Routine

200yd warm-up
50yd x 4 kickboard with 20s rest
25yd x 4 Free-style building (getting gradually faster as you swim) with 40s rest

2)Do the following TWICE:

200 yds of pull buoy with 30s rest

100 yds of backstroke with 20s rest

100 yds of breast stroke with 20s rest

2 x 50 Free style (fast) @ an interval of 1:15

3) I still had some time left before they would kick me out of the pool so I did the following afterwards:
200 back stroke
200 breast stroke

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


So I totally went swimming, but our routine was lame today so I didn't bother remembering it because my instructor gave it to us second hand (he was late, and left a message for the life guards).

BUT something I realized is I can totally push myself harder. I'm going to try to do 50 yds on intervals of 1 minute as fast as I can more often.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday 2/2/2012 workout (and theory)

So my teacher finally told me the theory behind the work-outs he devises. He said that he tries for 2000yds for his best students, 1800yds for his mid-range students and 1600yds for his lower-end students (now you'll know where I fall hehe).

Anywho, today's workout (also, every set has a 20s rest after it, this is all in yards)

200 warm-up
4x 50 yd breast stroke kick on your back (try not to let your legs get out of the water)
50 breast stroke
100 Free style
2 x50 breast stroke
100 Free style
4 x50 breast stroke
100 Free style
4x 50 breast stroke
100 Free style
2x 50 breast stroke
100 Free style
50 breast stroke
100 Free style

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday's swimming workout 1/31

200 yd warm-up
4x 50 yd flutter kick (20s rest between each)
4x 75 yd with 20s rest between sets. every other 75 is freestyle, the others are any stroke you choose

6 x 100 yd of freestyle with first 2 on 2:00 interval (1:50 for advanced students), next 2 on 2:15 (2:00 for advanced students) and the final two on 2:30 (2:10 for advanced students?)

6 x 50yd on 1:30, 1:15 and 1:00 intervals, same pattern as above.

2 x 100 cooldown.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thursday's Swimming Work-out

Sorry I forgot to post this earlier. I'm going to do this the best I can to my memory.

200 warm-up

100 kick (on your back, no kick board, in streamline position (or with hands to the sides if you sink in streamline)).

4 X 100yd using pull buoy and doing the arm movements for Back Stroke. 30 seconds rest between each set.

4 x 50yd of Free style with 20 seconds rest between each set.

2 x 100yd backstroke arms (with pull buoy). (30s rest between sets)

2 x 50 yd free style (20s rest between sets)

4 x 50 yds of back stroke with 30 seconds rest.

the back stroke has kind of weird arm movements. Your hands don't push straight down in the water like in free style, they kind of go to the side a bit. Here is a link with a demonstration.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday's swimming workout

So I decided I'm going to document things I do in my swimming class this semester so I can have new ideas of how to schedule my own workouts. I'm posting them here on my blog for anyone else to use. Just as an FYI. My class in Thursdays and Tuesdays.

The workout:

200 yd warm-up.

200 yd kicking warm up.

4 x100yd on an interval of 2:30/3:00 (or 1:45/2:00 for advanced students)

4 x50yd on an interval of 1:30/2:00 (I didn't catch the times for advanced students)

6 x25 yards on an interval of :40

So just so you know the format of the times is minutes:seconds.

An interval is you do the distance required in the time slot and use the remaining amount of time in the slot to recover for the next distance swim in the set. The two times on each are an either or. If you can't do the faster one, do the slower one.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I'm infuriated....

Just recently Congress passed a bill allowing for the indefinite detention of US citizens suspected of terrorism. This is a violation of our constitutional rights and could be used in the future to put down political opposition to any people in the government in the future. What depressed me even more was that our president signed it into law, despite his reservations.

I felt like I needed to post some links to the congressmen associated with the passing of this bill, so everyone can know which of our congressmen are enemies of the people.

House voting record

Senate voting record

I'm putting this up for use in the upcoming 2012 election. That way we can all vote for people that will protect our rights and vote out the ones who don't care.