impressed and humbled


I was struck in a special way this weekend. Christmas was good. I mostly just enjoyed the extra time to get things done. But on Sunday Night, President Gordon B Hinckley of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints visited Larry King on his show, Larry King Live. I really enjoyed the conversation that they had. It was amazing to see the way that President Hinckley stayed so simple and forthright about the beliefs and doings of the church. Even though he is very knowledgeable and experienced, he still chooses to use the most simple thoughts when he shares the gospel. That is a good reminder for all of us.

One of my favorite tidbits:

KING: It’s hard to be a Mormon, isn’t it?

HINCKLEY: No. It’s wonderful.

KING: Not hard.

HINCKLEY: No, no. It’s just wonderful. It’s demanding. Great expectations. I should say so. But it’s wonderful.

KING: Wonderful to resist the temptations of life?

HINCKLEY: Oh, you don’t go around resisting. You just develop a positive outlook and walk forward with faith.

KING: What do you do …

HINCKLEY: We don’t dwell on the negative. We dwell on the positive.

KING: What do you do with temptation? What do you do with it?

HINCKLEY: Set it aside. Put it behind. Leave it there.

KING: And you’ve been able to do that all your life.

HINCKLEY: I tried to, yes.

KING: Were you ever, as a youngster, did you ever stray?

HINCKLEY: Oh, I was a natural boy growing up, of course I was. Just a freckled-faced kid. Sure.

KING: I’ll bet you were.

HINCKLEY: Sure.

KING: I’ll bet you had a little rascal in you.

HINCKLEY: Sure I did.

KING: OK. It’s good to know …

HINCKLEY: Sure.

KING: … that God blessed you this way.

HINCKLEY: I’ve been blessed so abundantly that I can never get over it. I just feel so richly blessed that I want to extend that to others wherever I can.

KING: Hope you have a long life.

I know I am a week late, but ir’s never bad right?


Strangest thing happened to me this morning. I woke up with gratitude on my mind. My thoughts were turned to people, places, events, things that have affected my life. I felt an overwhelming responsibility to be more open with gratitude. Maybe I am catching the Thanksgiving feeling finally.

I am not exactly sure where all of this comes from. I had a conversation last night with a man that has trouble showing gratitude. I know it is in him, but it is hard for him to vocalize it.

Forgive me as I write a story that has been told many times before. I will make it s short version, just enough to suffice my point.

As I was serving a mission in San Francisco for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I remember meeting so many fun and interesting people. One night in August of 2000, my missionary companion and I boarded a bus to head home for the evening. As we boarded that bus, we took a look at all of the people on there. In the front there was a drunk, scraggly man doing his best to flirt with two women that spoke only Chinese. Behind them were two couples going out for the evening, all men. The role call in the middle was a woman dressed all in red with little red horns stuck on her head, a man who could have been mistaken for Elvis if it had not been for the chain connecting his ear to him lip, by way of his nose. and in the back was a group of “homies” all standing in desperate need of a belt. It was no wonder the bus driver sat with a bat across his lap.

I looked at my companion. he was a new missionary and noticeably scared at the scene in front of him. We are supposed to talk to everyone and introduce them to the Gospel. Looking back at the bus occupants, I noticed something ironic. the bus had quieted down and they were all looking at us, the strange ones with clean cut hair and business suits on.

I turned to my missionary companion again and said, “Let’s take this one different. Let’s make our way down the bus and find something to compliment everyone on. Meet you in the back.” And off we went.

It was fun to make our way down the bus meeting people and making them smile. I made it to the back first and sat their with the “homies”. I sat there chatting and joking with them. It was fun, but our stop arrived and we got off the bus.

I remember thinking that night and making a promise to myself that I would never miss the opportunity to give an honest compliment again. My Bus friends had genuine smiles on their face as I told them what I liked about them. I don’t give fake compliments. I would rather be quiet then untruthful. I have tried to keep that promise to myself since then I have enjoyed the smiles that it produced. I decided that for the next few weeks, i am going to make my way thru my e-mail address book and extend personal compliments to my friends, family, and not-so-much friends. I would encourage you to entertain the thought of doing it too. Everyone likes an honest compliment.

Middle Finger Man


I have been living in Provo for about four years and I was just barely introduced to one of Provo’s finest characters. A friend of mine told me about this man and where he could be found. I call him “Middle Finger Man” (MFM)because no one knows his real name. These man sits on his porch all day every day and flips off everyone that drives by and has been doing this for years. He is so reliable to be there that you can actually give directions according to this man as a landmark. “Yeah, head up Geneva and then when you see middle finger man, then I am the second turn after him….etc” When I heard about this guy, I just couldn’t believe it. I thought that would have to be the funniest thing that I have seen for a while. So i hopped on my motorcycle and headed over to Geneva Road. I drove over the bridge that spans the Provo River and counted the houses, ” One House, two houses, three houses.” I didn’t see him at first and thought that i would go home without seeing him then BAM! There he was on his porch and AS SOON as I caught eyes with him, both fingers went flying up and stayed there til I was out of sight. I couldn’t believe it. I quickly turned around to try it again. Same thing happened. so I tried it six more times (8 total) and just chuckled each time.

Well, I went home that night and shared my adventure with a few friends. They didn’t know what to think. It was on my mind thru the night. Finally I got wondering to my self, ” Self, this guy definitely has speed with his fingers, but how is his endurance?” So I devised a plan.

The next day my buddy Dave and I headed over to MFM’s house again with my video camera. What I decided to do was just to pull off in front of his house and challenge him to a battle. I would hold the camera on him and he would hold his fingers toward me. I’m not sure what would happen, but I knew it would be fun.

Dave and I headed over there and pulled off to the side of the road. We waited til the traffic cleared and then made our approach. MFM saw me and my camera and assumed his position…middle fingers up. I made my challenge and he accepted it with his version of a thumbs up. We tried to talk to him a few times, but he was not interested in conversation. Well, long story not as long, it was a little over two minutes before he finally lowered his hands in defeat. He also broke with a smile because he knew he was beat. All in all it was a good time…and don’t worry, I posted the video for your viewing pleasure. (see below). It starts off a little blurry and shaky, but that stops after a few moments. I suppose that viewer discrestion is advised if you don’t like the gesture of the middle finger. I am determined to meet this guy and talk with him!!! let me know what you think.

Did I ever find a gem


Well, i am closing in on 8,000 30,000 songs on my computer. To be honest, it has become a sort of addiction and I like to collect songs. I’ll have you know that these are not just any songs that I can get my hands on. That would be much to easy to increase the amount. Rather, all of these songs are songs that I know and enjoy. Oftentimes I will let iTunes just play songs randomly and I love to hear all the songs. There is everything from Les Miserables to Willie Nelson to Ying Yang Twins to Mr Rogers greatest hits. (That last one is a really fun cd.)

Well, every once and a while you come across a song that is a great find. i call them my gems. They are usually by a little known artist, and they are songs that I can just listen to over and over again. “Divide me” by Kalai was one of those songs. Well, I found a song recently that has joined the ranks. It is a song called “Winter” by Joshua Radin. He has such a mellow voice and great harmonization. He also has another great song called “Today”, but “Winter” is something special. Visit the Itunes Music Store and take a listen. They are GREAT!!

One last thing, speaking of mellow voices and great sound, did all of you hear/see james taylor play the national anthem at the World Series!! I was so excited, I didn’t know he was going to be playing, but when I turned on the tv it had a close up of hands on a guitar and I was like, “OH MY GOSH!!! THOSE ARE JAMES TAYLORS HANDS!!!!” I was excited. (Before you call that psycho, I recognize his hands because I watch them when I am trying to learn his music.”

Finally, on Nov 1st James Taylor is going to release his first ever Christmas album . It will only be sold at Hallmark. I have not heard it yet, but as you can imagine, I am very very very very excited. I will be there first thing that morning. I am going to try and get at least 100 people to buy it. That is my goal. Please let me know if you get it so I can keep track. I also want to know what you think of it.

Pedro Revisited


A very popular movie around this area has been the new movie called “Napolean Dynamite”. It is a very funny movie of a Idaho Teenager just trying to make it thru the perils of life. It’s one of those movies with unforgettable characters, and one-liners that you will put permanently in your everyday vocabulary. It is in alot of theaters still, but it should be out on DVD soon.

For those of you who have seen the movie, I have to report to you that I think I met Pedro’s cousin this morning. I stopped in at Winchells for a little morning treat, and the guy behind the counter told me he would be with me in just a minute IN AN EXACT PEDRO ACCENT. I could help but smile. I then asked if they sold donut holes. His answer was “Jes, but we don’t have some this morning” . I couldn’t help but continue to talk to this nice fella. I couldn’t believe how closely he resembled Pedro. Finally, I pointed to the Apple Fritters and asked, “What kind of donuts are those.” to which he replied, “It’s an Apple Fritter” in the exact same tone as Pedro uses when he says, “It’s a sledgehammer.” I couldn’t believe it. I bought an apple fritter and I was on my way. For those of you in Las Vegas, he works at the Winchell’s on Rancho and Washington. I was there just after 7 so I know he works the morning shift. Such a nice guy.

Few Things In Life


I just returned from Southern California and had a great time down there. Candace and I met with my grandpa at his condo in Oceanside. We spent an evening with him, very much enjoying his stories and a wonderful mexican restaurant that he brought us to for dinner. Early this morning, 3:45am to be exact, Candace and I got up and left Oceanside. Trusting Candace did not know what she was getting up for, but I promised her that it would be worth the wake up.

We drove out of Oceanside, CA with the full moon still reflecting off the water. Under the cover of darkness we drove the 76, and then north to Temecula, CA. We got to the winery vineyard and the sun was still asleep behind the mountain. Still not knowing what she was doing there, Candace followed me to the registration table and we checked in. The man at the table said, ” Well, you two will be flying with Eric and we will get going as soon as the balloons are ready.” I’m not sure but I think that Candace let out a little shriek when she heard that.

We went with a group of people to a nearby field and there were five balloons there ready to be blown up. We pulled up as the fans were filling the balloons. After a few minutes the torches were ignited and the oxygen filled balloons slowly raised from the earth. Candace, two ladies and I all climbed into the balloon with our pilot and up we went. There were many other balloons over the grape vineyards. At one point we counted 12. As you came up over the fog and climbed higher then the surrounding mountains it was a very neat experience. At one point we dropped within 40 feet of the ground then he got the fire going full force and we shot up raising to 2000 feet. It went up about as fast as a high speed elevator would in a building. It was such a thrill to shoot up past the other balloons.

After an hour in the balloon, we touched down, packed up the balloon and everyone went back to the winery for the traditional ballooning toast. Everyone raised their wine, Candace and I raised our Orange Juice, and we toasted to the safety and fun of the morning.

I tell this story partially for entertainment, but for another reason as well. In this day of video games. virtual reality, and high budget films, there are few things in life that can stay as such a thrill. Flying planes, seeing big explosions, high speed car racing, all of these things become an everyday occurrence. However, riding in a hot air balloon was not one of these experiences. It was absolutely breathtaking. It got onto my list of “Things That Take My Breath Away”. Other things on that list are standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and watching the sunset against the Golden Gate Bridge. what things are on your list? I would love to hear them.

The Passing of a Giant


I have been traveling a little bit in the last couple weeks. I went to Salt Lake City for the funeral of Elder Neal A Maxwell . It has been broadcast since, but I thought I would share a few of my favorite moments.

The funeral for Elder Maxwell was very interesting. Candace and I arrived to Temple Square in Salt Lake City about three hours before the funeral, which was to start at noon. After waiting in line for a bit we were finally ushered into the Old Tabernacle building. Security was very very tight. There was nothing allowed in besides small purses (which were searched) and scriptures. No other books were allowed. Even the scriptures were fanned thru. The security guard mentioned to me that they found a cut out Bible a little bit ago and inside was a hand grenade. They were to take no more chances.

We were brought up to the second level of the tabernacle. The whole bottom section was reserved for family, close friends, General Authorities and invited guests. Candace and I found a seat and waited for the services to begin.

A whole row of cars pulled up alongside the building. The Prophet and his counselors were among the first to enter the building. The whole congregation stood and remained silent. That is an experience that I will never grow tired of having. When the Prophet enters a room and instantly people stand in respect, the room is always filled with a very special feeling. Even in the large conference center the feeling is present and I believe it to be a reminding witness from the Holy Ghost that you stand near he who is very much “noble and great.”

Returning the the funeral service. President Hinckley and the other members of the Twelve and Presidency of the Seventy stood at the doorway as the family and friends followed the casket of Elder Maxwell. When all were finally seated, the service began.

The Mormon Tabernacle choir sang a few numbers throughout the program. Presidents Packer, Monson, Faust and Hinckley all spoke. Also, a son of Elder Maxwell spoke. I especially enjoyed a story from President Packer. He recounted the happenings before the last meeting of the Twelve before the passing of Elder Maxwell. he said that Elder Maxwell slowly made his way into the room. When Chancing upon 98 year old David B Haight, Elder Maxwell raised his cane into the air and challenged, “On Guard”. Elder Haight VERY slowly raised his cane as well and “a shot sword duel ensued. Luckily both sides withdrew before bloodshed occurred.”

There were many parts that touched my heart and awakened me to a sense of my better self. However, I especially enjoyed the comments of President Hinckley. Specifically speaking to Sister Maxwell in the audience, he told her , “as one having experience”, just exactly how she will miss her husband. And he relayed to her the times that it would be most hard. To me it was a window into our Prophet to see his hurting heart. It also showed me how President Hinckley uses even his hardest struggles in a positive way to teach and uplift others. We would all do a little better in life if we complained less, and encouraged more.

In general, the theme of the funeral focused on just how surely the work continues on the other side. They spoke of Elder Maxwell going right to work on the other side of the veil. It reminded me that you can not escape work in this life. People tend to find the easy way here on Earth because they figure that it will someday all be over and they just have to make it until then. The truth however is that we should set patterns of growth now because when we die we will pick up right where we left off and we will continue to have chance to grow and chances to help others. I smiled while listening because I picture those who welcomed Elder Maxwell into the next stage of growth. No doubt they were excited to use a man of such great knowledge, skills and love. If they wanted an personally delivered update on the illnesses and hardships of earth then there was no man on this earth better to bring it to them then Elder Neal A Maxwell. He had such a heart for compassion and a mind for understanding.

A Little Something on Mileage


Abstract: So I bought a new truck last week. There were 7 miles when I bought it. Part of the instruction from the dealer was to keep it under 55mph for the first 500 miles. That’s right, 500 miles! So, for the last week I have been driving no more then 55 mph on the highways and byways. That was fun. I struggled keeping it under 55 because with the flow of traffic it is natural to keep up so I would turn on the cruise control and keep it at 53 mph. I tell you this because I logged the reactions. You see, people here in Las Vegas don’t like to travel that slow ESPECIALLY when there is a long and empty road in front of them. They’ll speed up to right behind me then after a few minutes they will realize that I am going incredibly slow then they’ll switch lanes and fly by, usually showing their displeasure for my choice of speed. Just for informations sake, I received 8 middle fingers. (mostly from men) I kind of liked the middle fingers though, it reminded me of my good friend up in Provo. I also received 24 dirty looks (mostly from women, they were really good too.) Of all the friendly gestures I got though, there was only one that I thought about for more then a few seconds. In fact I thought of this for dozens of seconds. (which is to say that I got to 24 seconds and stopped)

There was a minivan that pulled up behind me. I couldn’t really see who was inside but I could tell that they were anxious to pass me as soon as the next lane over cleared. Well, the lane finally cleared and as the van came zooming by, the man driving was still focused on the road, the wife in the passenger seat was giving me a dirty dirty look (from the this i concluded that she was in fact the wife…there is only one way to perfect a look like that) and then the two kids in the back were staring at me. To me that says a couple things. 1) they were so disturbed by my driving that it became a topic of conversation in the van. boring much? 2) This man certainly belongs in a mini-van because he had his wife do the dirty work.

I Need Help


So here is my problem. Over the years I have heard many theories on whether or not to use a straw when drinking at public eating places. Personally, I don’t use one. I was told once that real men don’t use straws and I suppose that stuck. The problem comes in though when the locations are changed. Sometimes I think it is better to use a straw, sometimes it is not necessary. Ok, enough stalling. I want to lay out my theories for you to read then you can make your comment and add your own theories.

USING A STRAW
Pro- you don’t have to let the soda touch your teeth. Girls always tell me that it will stain your teeth.
Pro-Some servers hand you your cup by grabbing at the top. You would want a straw to avoid putting your lips on that same place.
Pro- You can keep the cold ice away from your teeth if they are sensitive.
Pro- You can use a lid which keeps it from spilling in your car
Con- It’s too easy to drink too much. When you are paying $25 for a steak, you certainly don’t want to fill your stomach with cheap soda when you have such good food in store for it.
Con- The bottom of your straw is at the bottom of the cup, which is also where the warmest part of your drink is being stored away from the ice.
Con- if you are drinking a raspberry lemonade type drink then you have a good chance of sucking up some floaties and clogging your straw.

NOT USING A STRAW
Pro- it helps you ration your drink because you can’t just gulp the drink thru the ice
Pro- The drink is cold as it filters thru the ice and into your mouth
Pro- That same filter keeps the larger fruit floaties from surprising you
Con- If you have sensitive teeth then the ice can hurt them
Con- If you are eating somewhere that you are served your drinks then you may have fingerprints from the waiter right on your drinking space
Con- If you wear lipstick then your cup ends up looking like it belongs on a cover of a Danielle Steele book.

I suppose that is my case to offer. Personally, I tend to shy away from straws. If any of you have other things to think about then PLEASE let me know. Even if you don’t have anything to add to it, please leave a comment and let me know what you do.

Who me?


Abstract: Something happened to me that kind of set me back for a minute. For those of you who I don’t see on a regular basis, I recently cut my hair nice and short. I have never been much for a buzz cut, nor have I ever looked real great in one, but I wanted to try it so I could feel the tickle when I rode my motorcycle. Reagardless, it’s not really my style and I am currently working on pushing hair follicles out of my head so that I can have my old hair style back. That being said, something strange happened to me today.
I went to Costco today to do some price comparing for a friend. As I was walking out of the store, I noticed an older, larger lady pushing one cart, pulling another cart and balancing a soda from the snack bar. I approached her and asked her if I could help her get to her car with her stuff and she kind of jumped back, dropped the soda to the ground and covered her two carts with her arms saying, “No, I’m fine.” I’d like to say that I snuck up on her and caught her off guard. But I really came straight to her and her watchful eye was on me the whole time. I really feel think she judged me because of my shaved head and the motorcycle clothes. That was solidified when a few moments later I was leaving the lot on my motorcycle and I overheard her accept an offer for help from a middle aged lady.
Maybe this doesn’t seem too strange to most of you, but it was strange to me. Other then a suit and name tag in San Francisco, I have never really carried an image that led people to second guess me. As a missionary it is alright, even rewarding. But today I didn’t like the feeling. The scene can mostly be blamed on her being VERY over cautious and prejudging me. But I suppose I will accept partial blame too. Maybe my look right now isn’t exactly an accurate image of my heart. I’m going to try and work on that. If anyone needs me, you’ll find me here pushing these follicles out as fast as possible.