Saturday, December 18, 2010

Opinions

Yes, it's true.  After nearly 8 months I'm writing another blog post.  Perhaps this is the beginning of a new phase of blog posting. 

In recent days I was given some advice from someone who holds some executive influence over my career.  The positive advice was well received.  As I drove home, though, I started to think more about the advice given and I had, how shall I say it, an epiphany -- the advice given was merely an opinion of what one person thought I could improve. 

As I continued my drive I turned on Jon Schmidt to help me think clearer.  The advice I was given was I needed to improve on my leadership capabilities and I needed to improve effective communication.  Like I said this advice was correct.  I do need to work on on improving these skills.

So why was I spending so much time thinking about these opinions? 

I reflected on my life and realized that I've let opinions control me.  Let me explain.  I know I am in control of myself.  No one can control me.  I live by sound principles; however, I also take what other people say seriously.  I've always looked to know what someone else thinks before I make my own opinion.  I don't think this is necessarily wrong but if all my actions are dependent on what someone else thinks then I'm really not acting for myself.

In recent days I finished listening to an audiobook called "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch.  Randy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told he only had 3-6 months to live.  Randy is an inspiration as while most people would probably have spent the last months of their lives wallowing in their self-pity and asking God why did this happen to them, Randy did things differently.  He took control of his life, like he had his entire life, and made sure his wife and his kids knew of his love, and worked hard at leaving a living legacy.

This was pretty influential for me as he gives quite a a bit of advice, or opinions, about how others should act.  One of the bits of advise he gives is regarding brick walls.  There is a metaphor comparing obstacles and brick walls.  All of us have brick walls impeding us from accomplishing our dreams.  For most, the brick wall succeeds.  Randy taught that brickwalls are made to show just how hard you'll work to get over them.

Opinions are everywhere and I certainly can't escape from people giving me their opinions about life, work, entertainment, and the other half a million things that go on in my daily life.  What I can do is control what I allow to influence me.  Remember -- I control myself.  I make my own decisions. 
How has this led me to do a new blog post?  I've wanted for many years to be a writer.  I've been my own brickwall.  I've looked to the Internet for advice on how I can become a writer.  The internet "opinions" fed me with fear that I didn't have the capabilities to do this.

I decided in the car that day that I will become a writer and the first step is writing.  And once I began to write I'll see ways to improve my skills and will research the best books of wisdom to teach me how to improve. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Marriage Ref

There is a new show on television called "The Marriage Ref."  Each week there are a panel of judges with Tom Papa that review clips of couples with a certain "thorn" in their marriage and Tom and this panel decide who is right, the husband or the wife.  Most of these clips are rather entertaining and it certainly makes me realize that I have it pretty good with my wife as we don't have many arguments over insignficant things.

But...I did ask Jessica one evening as we were watching what our "thorn" would be if we were on this show.  At the time nothing came up.  One evening as we just finished flipping our mattress and we were putting pillows back in pillow cases we discovered our Marriage Ref argument.

Last summer when Jessica and the kids were in Utah visiting family and I was left fending for myself I decided it was time to replace my pillow.  I went to Walmart and started browsing.  I found the perfect pillow.  At the time I didn't realize it was much different from any other pillow I had owned before.  I can't even tell you today if it is a true feather pillow or not.  I've never been a feather pillow person but this one seems different.  It's fuller and holds it's form better than typical feather pillows.  It's the perfect pillow for me.

When I got home and put the pillow in the case and compared it with my old pillow I discovered this pillow was much longer.  I learned that I had just bought a king sized pillow.  I didn't really want to return it.  I do remember thinking then "Jessica is not going to like my new pillow."

Her not liking my pillow is an understatement.  She absolutely hates my pillow while I've grown to absolutely love it.  It comes in handy when Easton comes in to our room in the morning.  He won't sleep by Jessica, he sleeps by me.  I now have a pillow long enough for both him and me without having to compromise.  It supports my head perfectly.

Jessica claims I push it on to "her" end of the bed.  And that I sleep on the farthest corner of the pillow leaving 90% of it unslept on.  She's threatened to cut the pillow in half when I'm not home.  And she had to purchase longer pillow covers because my pillow would not fit in the existing pillow cases.  I think if she would just give it a try she may actually like it.

So, alas, even we have a Marriage Ref "thorn" in our relationship.  Who wins in this argument?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Where have I been

Wow!  It's been over a week since I last wrote anything here.  I'm glad to say it's not because I've been lazy and just haven't done it.  Life has been extremely hectic for me.  We had a new person start at my work last week so I have been swamped training her, then working late to catch up on what I couldn't get to during the day.  I haven't had any chance to even breathe really.

My Mom came in town this week to spend a few days with us before she and her friend, Kaye, go on a road trip around the Southern states looking for quilting blocks on large barns.  I told them they sound like high school girls going on a road trip.  They laughed.

We went to the Summerville Flowertown Festival today.  The kids had a great, and so did the adults.  It was packed for a Friday.  We couldn't believe it.  We were glad we didn't go on Saturday.  Saturday we will head to Charleston and walk around there a bit and see some new sights.

I have not been good keeping my 2010 goals.  I haven't worked out in nearly 2 weeks, which is really sad.  I havent' written another story in even longer than that.  I now understand that trying to live the live of an author and have a full time job and spend quality time with the wife and kids is more difficult than I thought.  Sure, there are plenty of distactions (like a new iPhone) but that shouldn't be an excuse.  I need to do better.

But with this it's time to sign off for another day. 

By the way, I have found out that my life is only going to get busier.  At my day work we have signed a new client.  I have been told by my CEO that I will be assigned as the project manager.  I'm really excited and I hope I don't bomb on this first assignment.  I need a gold star on my resume for this implementation.

So add that to my Young Men's President church calling and I will be really occupied for a while.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Coupons and Foreign Currency

For the past several months Jessica has been "couponing."  This means she'll spend a lot of time reviewing websites for super deals, finding coupons, and then using those coupons to obtain mega savings (like 75 to 90% savings).  At times she'll ask me to take some coupons and purchase some groceries.  I know she does this with hesitancy for the same reason we don't give Easton a cup full of Chuckie Cheese tokens at one time -- I'm bound to do something wrong and miss the who purpose of the deal I was to be buying.

Several weeks ago I was asked to purchase about 10 boxes of Special K Fruit Crisps with enough coupons and $5 gift cards, that basically made this purchase free.  I hesitate looking at coupons because I understand them as well as understanding foreign currency - not at all. 

I was given the instructions ahead of time to just give the cashier the coupons and the gift card and I would receive an additional $5 gift card from the cashier and I would only pay around $3.  I followed the instructions to the T but ended up paying around $7-8.  I left the store and called Jess and told her about it.  She said I needed to turn around and go back to the store and request to see the coupons as I had given her enough to where I would have only paid $3.  Believe me when I say she knows because she does her research (a sign of a great couponer).  I returned and spoke with the cashier and sure enough some of the Target coupons did not scan.  The cashier was really nice and gave me $4-5 in cash.

In the words of my wonderful wife: "That $5 will feed our family a full course dinner."  And that is definately the truth with couponing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Honest Scrap Blog

My wife forwarded me a request to write 10 honest things about myself. The instructions are little vague as to what really is considered honest about oneself. So I've thought about this over time and here is my list.

1. I've had just one major car ordeal. I was 16 years old. During the summer I worked as a carpet layer for a member in our church named Brian Snokes. This job required me to drive to Tremonton, UT every morning. I drove a blue astro van that James Morgan and I called the Blue Ox. Being new to driving I wasn't up to speed on the necessity of oil changing. I'd never done it. I had noticed my oil light come on but then go off. I thought it was a short in the wire. I thought nothing of it and didn't check the oil. A short while later I was driving home from Tremonton with several work guys when all of a sudden the car shook like an earthquake. It made a loud noise too, loud enough to wake those sleeping in the back. I pulled over and we took a look. Turns out I was out of oil. There was not even a hint of oil on the dipstick. I had seized the engine. I hitched a ride to Brigham City, called my Dad, who brought the red truck to tow us home. I don't recall how the other guys made it home that night but they didn't come with me. And they never drove with me again.

2. Shortly after getting the Astro van back from a complete engine replacement (which I remember my Dad saying to me "Scott, we'll take care of it this time but if it happens again you get to pay for it), I had my first near death and so far only near death experience. I was driving up a street to turn left on to Orchard drive. I hated then and still do turning left especially on busy roads. Orchard Drive in Bountiful can be that way. Well, a large white truck passed and I saw my opening, however small it was. I gunned the engine, turned into the middle lane, looked behind to speed up in front of the car speeding up behind the truck. When I looked forward the large white truck was attempting a U-turn in the middle of the road. The middle lane was blocked as well as the first lane and some of the second lane. The car behind me was not slowing down and I wsa going too fast to stop. I was going to hit the truck and the impact would be severe. At nearly the last second I swerved to the right into the second lane barely missing the truck my mere centimeters I'm sure and the car behind me by about the same gap. I quickly served back to the left lane. The light ahead was red. I stopped, looked right, and was witness to the most beautiful display of foul body language one close to death can muster. The man in the other car was visibly upset with me. I smiled.

3. I lied about the the only near death experience. I recently had another. I was flying to Philadelphia for a TMS implementation. We had just taken off and was only in the air for a short time and still ascending when suddening, without warning, the plane dove. My stomach nearly came out of my mouth. The lady next to me gasped and grabbed my arm. There were several shouts of alarm. I don't recall how long the plane dove but it was about 10 seconds. The plane then leveled. We all looked around wondering what happened. Then the plan dove again for nearly the same amount of time. It then leveled off again. The cabin was in panic. I remember thinking this was it. I was going to be a plane wreck casualty (yes not a pleasant thought). The captain came on a few minutes and explained what had happened.  We had dropped nearly 10,000 feet.  A military plane coming into the Charleston Air Force base was coming in. This particular commercial airplane and I think all planes are equiped with a sensor that picks up when other planes are close. This military plane was in our flight path. Our plane reacted and dove to clear the path of the military plane. Man it was scary!

4. My wife often pokes fun of my dating life, or near lack thereof.  I tell her I didn't have to date lots of women to find the perfect one for me. I do find it funny that of the few woman I did date that it just happens that I dated a second woman named Jessica, who was from Southern Utah (Kanab), who I had met on www.ldssingles.com. My wife is also named from Jessica, from Southern Utah (St. George), and I met on www.ldssingles.com.  And I'm glad I met the second Jessica who agreed to marry me after only 1 1/2 months of dating.

5. Until high school I had never really heard of The Beatles. Then a good high school friend named Ben Lawrence introduced me. It was the same time The Beatles Anthology came out on TV. I watched the whole thing and then bought The Beatles Anthology on both DVD and the music. My first Beatles album, though, was Rubber Soul. It remains still today as my favorite Beatles album.

6. When we were little I watched my sister Trish push my little brother Kelly from a dock on a lake. My Dad reached down and with out arm yanked him from the water. Kelly's first words when out was "that fish almost got me." We went back to our RV to eat and our poodle Peaches had eaten the raw hamburgers. I don't remember what we ate instead. By the way, my sister still, to this day, denies pushing Kelly in the lake.

7. My favorite stuffed animal as a young boy was a stuffed seal named Sparky. It's possible my Mom still has him somewhere. I remember one day when my Mom asked me to clean up my room and put in the D.I. (for those outside of Utah it's like Goodwill) pile including stuffed animals. I struggled with Sparky. I could not put him in the D.I. pile. It's probably this reason I still get sentimental with Easton's stuffed animals. I hope my wife never plans on getting rid of those. They are priceless.

8. I love eating chicken hearts at Brazilian churrasaria's. I once was afraid of them until I tried one while living in Brazil. Now it is a must eat when I go. Usually I'm the only one in the entire restaurant who wants them so I get an entire skewer. That's just fine by me.

9. I cannot burp my ABCs. In fact, I find it rather repulsive.

10. For my Eagle project I helped create 200 feet of the Great Western Trail. For those interested, here's a link regarding this trail. It's one of the longest trails in the United States. It stretches from Canada to Mexico. Thanks to my scout troop we had nearly 15 young men come and we were finished within 2-3 hours (before lunch) of starting. I still remember the faces of other scouts as we left to hike back home.

This is as honest as I can be with my faulty memory.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Surprise

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For our Family Home Evening this past week Easton and I decorated a Valentine's Day mailbox. In this mailbox we were able to put Valentine's surprises for our kids and for each other. One morning I found a surprise in there for me. It was a CD with hearts colored on it and it said "To Dad." Naturally Easton couldn't hold his excitement about it and said I had to take it to work so I could listen to it.

To my surprise and enjoyment I heard Easton sing his renditio of Twinkle Little Star and Old McDonald. How many of you knew that on Old McDonald's farm he had a worm? And how many of you knew what that worm says on Old McDonald's farm? This is one of Easton's favorite songs to sing at night before bed. Also on this farm, on occassion, he has a spider and a lizard too. Maybe that song will come out on the bonus track. :-)

I did listen to this song to the way to work and for the first time I slowed way down to be sure I listened to the whole CD before I arrived at work.

Thank you Easton and Jessica for a wonderful Valentine's gift.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's Day

We are fast approaching February 14th, the United States Day of Love.  On this day there will be more chocolate sold than any other day and on this day the price of roses nearly doubles.  Valentine's Day is also the second largest holiday for greeting card sales.

What is the history of Valentine's Day?  Using this site as my guide I learn that there were actually three Catholic Saints named Valentine or Valentinus.

The best legend for this ancient holiday stems from a priest named Valentine that lived during the 3rd Century.  The then Emperor of Rome Claudius II thought that unmarried young men made the best warriors.  He outlawed marriage in his army.  The priest Valentine thought this decree an unjust and continued to performed secret weddings for young lovers.  When the Emperor discovered this treachery he ordered Valentine to death.

Why celebrate in February?  Well, some say it was celebrated in February to celebrate either the death or burial of Valentine, which would have occurred near 270 A.D.  Others say because the Catholic church was trying to "christianize" a pagan festival called Lupercalia.  We may never know the true story as the true reason has been lost in all those greeting cards and chocolates that are sold each year.

May we all remember our Sweetheart this Valentine's Day and make sure she (or he) knows just how special she is.  I love you Jessica!