Friday, January 23, 2009

You're Thinking of Doing What?!

Life is filled with crossroads. I am at one of those crossroads right now as I put the finishing touches on my thesis and prepare for graduation in April.

What should I do once school is over? Do I plunge myself into a weak economy with fewer and fewer jobs? Nah, I think to myself. That doesn't sound like fun.

Instead, I've decided to go for more schooling, this time at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, provided I get accepted.

If you've been following the frustrating experience of my thesis, you may be wondering why I would ever get back into the system once I'm finally free of it. That's a good question.

For starters, I don't feel like I'm finished with schooling. That is, I don't feel like it's time to stop just yet. There are greater things for me just over the horizon.

Additionally, if you've been following this blog you know that I'm really into Samoa and its people and language and culture and food. I don't know that I've ever specifically mentioned it in any of my posts but Samoans (and Pacific islanders in general) are quite susceptible to the chronic diseases associated with a Westernized diet and lifestyle. I'd like to gain the education and experience necessary to be able to do something about this in ways that are harmonious with indigenous cultures.

Furthermore, the late Gordon B. Hinckley, a man I consider to have been a prophet, repeatedly taught that we should get all the education we can get.

“Get all of the education you can possibly get. Education is the key which will unlock the door of opportunity, and the Lord has laid upon you the responsibility to secure an education.” (Source)

“Be smart. The Lord wants you to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Seek for the best schooling available. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you. I repeat, you will bring honor to the Church and you will be generously blessed because of that training.

“There can be no doubt, none whatever, that education pays. Do not short-circuit your lives. If you do so, you will pay for it over and over and over again.” (Source)

My wife has to continually remind me that there are many good interpretations of the phrase get all the education you can, that it isn't referring to a one-size-fits-all, PhDs-for-everyone kind of plan. I know she is right, of course. She is my wife, after all, and a wise one at that.

But as we have counseled with each other, Deb and I both feel good, that this plan to go to Hawaii, provided they accept me, is a good plan.

And so, despite the difficulties I've faced with my thesis and the inevitable hardships of a PhD, I feel great at the prospect of continuing my education, especially if it will make me more able to serve my fellow brothers and sisters in the great human family.

(Photo: My Hawaiian bruddah, Josh, and me on the Big Island of Hawaii, May 2005. Great times!)

Monday, January 19, 2009

RE: Doomsday!

I recently wrote, here, about the federal government's $1.3 billion Hollywood stimulus package but thought I'd briefly revisit the idea.

A New York Times piece, which read more like an article from the Onion, recently reported that the feds, including the nascent Obama administration, are calling for a delay in the scheduled February 17 switchover from analog to digital TV.

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, D-West Virginia, a proponent of the switchover delay, indicated his concern that a February 17 switchover "is going to hit our most vulnerable citizens — the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and those with language barriers — the hardest."

My heart bleeds too, Mr. Senator, but it does so more along the lines of doing something to ensure that "the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and those with language barriers" get the food, shelter, clothing, love, medical attention, and education they need, not a government promise of subsidized digital TV.

I'll tell you why I feel this way, Mr. Senator. Everyone is talking about how bad the United States' economy is, how we're headed for some tough times. Yet the federal government's move to provide mind-numbing television brings us alarmingly close to Aldous Huxley's idea of "amusing ourselves to death," as found in his novel Brave New World.

Perhaps you hadn't considered it this way, Mr. Senator, but during this recession what we need is less TV watching and more wealth producing labor. Let me illustrate. The New York Times piece indicated that 7.8 million American households were without a digital TV converter box as of December 2008. The Economist reported that in 2005, the average American household daily watched 8.18 hours (8 hours, 11 minutes) of television. The current, federally mandated minimum wage is $6.55 per hour.

What then is the gross value of a year of TV watching given the aforementioned numbers? 7.8 million American households x 8.18 hours TV watching per day x $6.55 per hour x 365 days per year = $15,239,413,000!

Again, that's $15.2 billion, Mr. Senator; enough to make even a Rockefeller smack his lips a little, don't you think? Yet the federal government is providing the incentive for the American people to sit on their duffs instead of going out and generating the type of wealth that would buttress the failing economy.

Yes, Mr. Senator, my heart bleeds: in part for the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and those with language barriers; in part because the government's subsidies for digital television are greater than its support for graduate students; in part because this controversy is indicative of a decaying society.

On the bright side, however, this unfolding drama should, no doubt, prove worthy of a good made-for-TV movie. I hope everyone can get a digital converter box by the time it airs.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Year in Blogging Statistics

Being the budding young scientist that I am, and an exercise scientist at that, I have a natural propensity toward numbers and performance statistics. So on 17 January 2008, I began collecting stats on this blog to see where my readers were coming from and how long they spent on the site and what content they were reading most, etc.

I am pleased to report that in the past year I have had 3,172 visits by 1,657 visitors from 603 cities in 46 countries and territories;

That those visitors have spent a total of 91 hours, 37 minutes, and 23 seconds reading from the Book of Nate, each visit averaging 1 minute and 44 seconds in length;

That the most time spent in a single visit was 35 minutes, 38 seconds, whereas the least time spent was 0 minutes, 0 seconds;

That 89.22% of visits are from folks in the United States and 94.66% of the time spent is also from the United States;

That these numbers are piddly compared to other blogs, which can get thousands, even tens of thousands, of visits daily;

But that I've had a ton of fun blogging in the past year, and I thank all you readers for making this a success!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On Dishes

I'm not a big fan of having to do the dishes by hand. Though doing so does free the mind to think about things.

So as I was doing the dishes today I remembered that in Old Samoa the people used very few dishes in their food preparation. They mostly used sticks and leaves and rocks and fire to do their cooking, all of which nature, or a little muscle, provided.

I couldn't begin to count the number of banana-leaf dinner plates I used when I was in Samoa. Clean up was a breeze!

I thought I'd give you a taste for what dinner preparation might be like for many of the meals we ate in Samoa. The amount of work that goes into a nice traditional meal is one reason why Samoan men and boys are quite muscular. I suppose that makes up for not having many dishes to wash.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Things Will Always Get Better if We Live and Love the Gospel

The world these days is a pretty wild place to live in. But speak with any octogenarian, or read a history book, and you'll realize that it's been that way for a very long time.

That's why I particularly liked the optimistic perspective in the following statement by Howard W. Hunter, fourteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's proof positive that the Lord's prophets are not all about doom and gloom.

"In my lifetime I have seen two world wars plus Korea plus Vietnam and all that you are currently witnessing. I have worked my way through the depression and managed to go to law school while starting a young family at the same time. I have seen stock markets and world economies go crazy and have seen a few despots and tyrants go crazy, all of which causes quite a bit of trouble around the world in the process.

"So I am frank to say tonight that I hope you won't believe all the world's difficulties have been wedged into your decade or that things have never been worse than they are for you personally, or that they will never get better. I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do—especially when we live and love the gospel of Jesus Christ and give it a chance in our lives."

(Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 202.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Facts and Figures Relating to the Book of Mormon

140,000,000: copies of the Book of Mormon distributed since 1830

275,000: approximate number of words in the Book of Mormon

5000: copies produced in the first edition printing of the Book of Mormon

3000: dollars it cost to print the first edition of the Book of Mormon

531: pages in current Latter-day Saint edition of the Book of Mormon (compare to the 403 and 1184 pages respectively of the LDS editions of the New Testament and Old Testament)

239: chapters in the Book of Mormon

107: languages in which the Book of Mormon is currently available

60 – 90: working days it took Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon (compare to the 7 years it took for the King James Version of the Bible)

24: age of Joseph Smith when the Book of Mormon was published

1: number of translators of the Book of Mormon – that's right, only Joseph Smith as he was inspired by God (compare to the 47 scholar-translators for the King James Version of the Bible)

Begin your reading of the Book of Mormon here.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Flowers in Winter

One of our dear friends, Whitney, is a professional photographer. She's done amazing work with our engagement and wedding photos. You can see her work on her blog, which I highly recommend as you may want to employ her skills yourselves.

Quite a while back I told Deb that I really wanted a few specific prints of some of Whitney's other work. So, Deb got them, framed them all nice-like, and gave them to me for Christmas.

With Whitney's permission, I present to you the amazing photos Deb gave me.






These are amazing. Seriously, visit Whitney's blog...and then hire her or purchase from her.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Doomsday

For some, February 17th, 2009, means Doomsday. At least it could if you don't get your piece of the $1.3 billion the federal government set aside to assist Americans in the analog to digital TV switchover.

But things are looking grim for avid TV devotees. According to a report on msnbc.com, there's no more money left in the program, and "for millions of people it's too late to get a government coupon to help pay for the converter boxes in time for the deadline."

While Americans suffer through the worst recession since the Great Depression, the feds are struggling to deliver on their promise of 'two converter boxes for every home.' "Thousands of people are now on a waiting list, as Congress scrambles to find a way to allocate more money to the program."

It looks as though Americans will have to find new ways to pass their extra time created by the advent of digital TV. A rediscovery of books may be a good place to start. Or--going out on a limb with this one--vis-a-vis interaction with fellow human beings.

According to the Economist, in 2005 American households watched an "average of 8 hours and 11 minutes [of TV] every day." In other words, in this time of economic recession when money is tight, the average American household is spending enough time in front of the boob-tube to account for another full-time job!

Well, what are we going to do about it? I'll tell you what, if you or your children watch any TV, even if it's just an hour a day, why don't you pay me a dollar for every hour watched? I don't have a TV so I don't have an extra 8 hours and 11 minutes hanging around every day, but I would like to pay for my schooling.

If you think this is a good idea--me helping you to break the TV habit, you helping me to get a TV-free education--let me know in the comments and I'll set up a PayPal account so we can make the transaction. Deal?