Monday, November 30, 2009

Sun Shadows

Antioch, CA

I had to be up at 3:30 this morning to take Nina to the airport. When I got back to my house I saw this and I loved how the light was shooting through the trees.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Twain the Twain

Sonoma, CA

Nina needed to go shopping for one last person so today we skipped church and headed North. On our way we stopped at Train Town (one of my favorite "theme" parks) and took a ride. I was very giddy though the experience.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Muir Experiences

Marin County, CA

Today Amy, Nina and I went to Muir Woods and Muir Beach. At the woods we went hiking and at the beach we watched the sun set.

(BTC - Video from the beach)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Nina's trip to SF

San Fran, CA

Today I took Nina back to SF. It was a lot of fun but really tiring.
We took the Ferry from Vallejo to SF. Then we went to ATT park so that Nina could take pictures of Palm Trees. From there we rode a Cable Car to Guiradelli Square. We checked out some boats, hung out at Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, and the Musee Mecanque. (In fact - while at the Musee we ran across early pornography.) We even did a bit of shopping. To top it off, we had real bread bowls at Boudins for lunch and dinner at Johnny Rockets. All in all it was a really good day.
The top two images are my favorite from the day.

(BTC - Nina in CA)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The big meal

San Jose, CA

After several years of non-traditional Thanksgiving Dinners, this year my dad's girlfriend hosted Nina, my dad, and I for a traditional meal. It was very good.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Both sides of the Bridge

San Francisco and Marin Headlands, CA

My first adventure for Nina after she flew in this morning was to see all sides of the Golden Gate. Initially we stopped at the North West side, parked and walked underneath. Next was a walk out onto the bridge, then we drove across to Baker Beach for some sunset pictures. Once the sun had set, we were back to the North East side to a spot suggested by my friend Kelley. All in all it was a rather fun day. Friday should be the biggest adventure - Taking on as many SF tourist spots as possible.

Post #900
898 Daily Pictures since Day 1

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lumpy Rims

Antioch, CA

Today is Lumpy's 1 year anni of being in business. So Lumpy's truck was there sporting these rims.

The awkward month known as November (and a little bit of December)

First, the players:
Sean - me
Amy - Sean't current girlfriend
Nina - Sean's ex-girlfriend who he dated from July 2007 - December 2007, now Sean's best friend
KNJ-P - Sean's ex-girlfriend/ex-fiance (no ring, no proposal, but there was a date set and reception and honeymoon plans being made)
Tina - Sean's former freinds with benefits from Decmber 2007 - February 2008
Melinda - Sean's close personal friend who has been away on a mission for the past 17 1/2 months. Wants to marry Sean. Returns home December 15.
Jenny - Sean's ex-girlfriend who plays for a rival Power wheelchair soccer team.
NAN - Sean's Dad's girlfriend who Sean hasn't spent more than an hour with at a time
Dad - Sean's Dad for neary 31 years

I used to have a rule that I purposely dated women in different towns so that when we broke up, I didn't have to worry about running into them again. That plan worked rather well for several years until I joined the ranks of the Oakland Temple Hill Technical staff. Now, I can break up with a girl, and still run across her on The Hill or at Crew related events. Running across ex's can be a little awkward at times.

For example, a few weeks ago, I took Amy to a congregation in Pleasant Hill to see a friend's, and fellow crew member's, missionary farewell speach. While there we ran into Tina. It was rather awkward as I tried to pay attention to Amy yet Tina and I tried to catch up on where our lives had gone in the last year or so.

Another example could be last Saturday. Amy and I went up to Temple Hill to help build a set for a coming Christmas program. After about 4 hours there KNJ-P showed up. Even though several people in the upper crew management knew she was coming - no one had told me. I went through 2 years of therapy over this girl. So I was quite shocked over this girl's attendance. We haven't spoken face to face in 5 years. It was a very tramatic experience as at one time I tried to stay close to Amy and yet was kind of curious about the last 5 years or so. One of the things that always interested me about KNJ-P was her ability to teach me things. On Saturday she taught me a few painting and theatre techniques that I had never learned before. It was interesting, while at the same time a horrifying experience. I have long held the belief that my life is a failure because of not being able to marry this girl. She is now married and 4 months along with her first child. She's living the dream I had for us, but without me. As i spent Saturday comparing our lives and where the two of us had ended up, Amy would later say she felt like she was losing me. It was a very awkward situation for Amy and I and for our relationship. I doubt KNJ-P even caught wind of it.

Tomorrow, my best friend Nina flies into to CA. Nina is 4 weeks into a new relationship with a boy in Oregon and Today marks my 2 month anniversary with Amy. Nina's trp was planned prior to either of those events happening. To say that all four of us are a little worried about this weekend would be an understatement. Amy has had to explain to her family that I would not be joining them for the Holiday because I was goingto be with my ex-girlfriend. Nina has had to explain to her new boyfriend that she can't spend Turkey Day with him due to her being in another state. There is a lot of confussion and concern and some awkward feelings.

To add to that already awkward situation, Nina and I will be spending the holiday with my Dad and his girlfriend NAN. Nina has never met either of these people. She has communicated with my father through e-mail but that is it. NAN and Dad are both computer people. Nina and I are both "work with people with issues" people.

After Nina heads home (maybe or maybe not meeting Amy), I will take Amy on another adventure into ex-girlfriend land. On Saturday December 5, Amy and I are going to go volunteer at a Power Wheelchair Soccer tournament and provide service (I'm reffing, Amy's keeping score). At that tournament will be Jenny, my ex-girlfriend from last year. We dated for several months and were official for a little less than 24 hours. She's still pretty bitter about the 24 hour relationship. She will have to interact with both Amy and I. I'm willing to bet that will be rather awkward as well.

Lastly, on December 15th, Melinda comes home from her mission. Because of the depression I have been going through, I haven't been able to write to her for several months (when you write missionaries you are supposed to sound uplifting. Being depressed and having self destructive tendencies - not all that uplifting). She knows nothing about Amy. (I hope to get a letter off this week to her updating her on my life.) But even if she does find out about Amy - I doubt that will change the strong friendship we share. It will however effect Melinda's plans to have my last name by mid next year. I'm pretty sure December 16 is going to be an awkward conversation day.

But after what I've experienced so will just be par for the the course. 6 weeks of rather awkward situations.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The green grass and leaves - as a reminder

Oakley, CA

Today and Yesterday, Cindy was lamenting about the grass disappearing under a blanket of white fluffy stuff. When the winter gets too rough, I hope she can turn here an enjoy a bit of green.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

the last photo for the semester - taken

Antioch, CA

I have all 12 photos taken for my final project. Tomorrow I'll develop the roll and just make prints for the next few weeks.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Christmas Palm Trees caught in a sunset

Oakland, CA

Today Amy and I returned to Temple hill to continue working on the set for the Magic of Christmas. We were joined up later in the day by Krista, my ex-girlfriend who I hadn't talked to in 4 years.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree

Oakland CA

Tonight for our date, Amy and I went to temple hill to help build a set for the "Magic of Christmas" Celebration next Saturday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A stoney wall Antioch

Pleasant Hill, CA

Ever so slowly I'm developing more and more prints for class. 2 developed so far, 10 more to go (plus another roll to develop)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meatloaf Sandwich ** Post Edit

Antioch, CA

Man I just love a waitress that can read your mind. All week long I have been thinking "When I go to Lumpy's this week I want something different. I need something different." I walked in all ready to demand a menu. As I walked in, my waitress came up to me in a rush: "We have something new and I instantly thought of you when they unveiled it." It was sooo good. However, it was not totally filling so I asked for the dessert menu (a first for me at Lumpy's). Today I came the closest to tasting my mother's cheesecake than any other time in the 6 years since her death. If you live nearby - take an opportunity to indulge yourself. You won't regret it.

**Post edit - I never found out if the mashed potatoes were from Idaho or not so I can't speak for their quality - but they tasted good.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's a Print

Pleasant Hill, CA

After spending the last three class periods developing film, tonight I finally got to return to the darkroom and...wait for it....make a print. I am so happy. This is the first print of 12 for my final project.

Additionally tonight, my professor invited me to take the next level class next semester. Now I just have to convince my father to let me continue to borrow the camera.


Today at work there was a client who was sucking on his blue blow pop sucker. He was sucking on it for about an hour. Through that amount of time, he wettened the stick enough that it was pretty pliable. Then his mom did something that made him mad and he bit down on the stick. When he bit down the stick snapped off and the sucker got stuck in his mouth. The mom and I shoved our hands into his mouth a pried the candy from his mouth. The client was in no real danger (though he did cough a little bit as we all do when there are 3 hands in our mouths). At one point I noticed that because of the sucker, the boy was turning a different color. I wanted to shout 'HE'S TURNING BLUE!' but I refrained because I'm not sure the mom would have found the humor in my comment at that particular moment.

Monday, November 16, 2009

domed diablo

Brentwood, CA

The top of Mt. Diablo seen from Brentwood just prior to sunset. If I would highlight this shot you could see the cows playing on the hillside. However, I like this shot the way it is.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Let's go RVing

Antioch, CA

One of three Lego's I own.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A trip to Point Bonita Lighthouse

Point Bonita Lighthouse, Marin Headlands, CA

Amy and I went to Point Bonita Lighthouse today for our Saturday Afternoon date.

Friday, November 13, 2009

the older fence replaced by the younger one

Antioch, CA

Another fence for the photo class project.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Life is a ball - if you are a dog

Brentwood, CA

My photo project is going well. Today I went to a dog park to photograph their fences.

Gratitude November 12 2009

I am grateful for Irony.

I am grateful for none needy girlfriends. I had a needy girlfriend once and it was rough. Amy is not needy and that is a blessing I'm really enjoying.

On a similar note, I'm grateful to be out of the general dating pool. Emily reminds me of this point from her recent post.

I am grateful for new music: Bela Fleck.

I am grateful to my mother for teaching me patience. There are some things I want from different people that really I'm in no place to demand. I do not hold the market on their time. So I can either rant and rave about their time and how it is not used on me or I can do as my mother taught and be patient. I'm choosing the latter.

I am grateful to have veterans day parades. They are great places to get pictures of different performers, but also they are great places to go up to a Vet, shake their hand and say, "Thank you." It's a much better setting than doing it in the men's room at a fast food place.

I am grateful for the two years at BYUI that I got to wear a red poppy on November 11 and remember my Canadian history.

I am grateful for Fences.

I am grateful for Mahonri and his Brother Jared.

I am grateful for everyone that took the poll this week.

I am grateful for kisses from Collies and nose rubs with Burmese Mountain Dogs.

I am grateful for brakes on my truck and Antioch Muffler.

I am grateful for professional journalist that write stuff that makes me seem educated:
"Authorities said the driver had just refueled his rig filled with pears before entering the bridge."

I am grateful for humor. I had several good laughs this week with people who had nothing else in common but an understanding in the humor in life.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The reasons for Veterans Day

Antioch, CA

I went to the Parade today.

(BTC- The Parade)
(BTC - The Huey)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

film in the hurricane

Pleasant Hill, CA

I developed 4 rolls of film tonight. Here they are in their final wash before going to the dryer. I shot nearly 150 shots on Saturday and got 6 decent negatives out of it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Return to Lois Lane

Lois Ln, Oakley CA

Last year, on the 16th of October I took pictures in this orchard. I was hoping this year on the 16th I could return and take pictures of this orchard. But I was sick that day so today is the soonest I could return. Please enjoy the comparison.

Mahon's Journey to Faith

(The scene opens with two men sitting in beach chairs, their backs toward the audience with a beach table between them. Up stage is an ocean/beach scene with bright sunlight and a big blue sky. Waves crashing can be heard in the back. A sucking sound from some one's straw can be heard and the audience can see Jared replacing his drink on the beach table between them)

Jared - Man, Mahon, this is the life. Four years ago today I was so terrified we were going be separated. I thought when the towers tumbled and the language barrier suddenly appeared and we couldn't get everyone to work through the language barrier to rebuild the towers - man I thought that was just going to be the end. All happiness was going to be gone. (He stands up and faces the audience - pointing) But this, this is great. We got a bunch of fruits and vegetables. Our women and children are well fed. The cattle are fat every year. And you and I get to hang out on the beach every day. Mahon, my brother. This is the life.

Mahon - Yup, we got it pretty good. It is amazing what we can do. Hey while you're standing, do you mind getting me a refill?

Jared - Not a problem, bro.

(exit Jared. Suddenly a burst of light shines on the stage and a cloud appears. Booming from the cloud is a voice)

Voice of God - Mahon, my child, I have missed you. I have missed our conversations. Do you feel you no longer need Me? I did not bring you from the towers to the beach just for you to sit around and drink fruit punch. There is a land of great promise across these waters - waiting for you and your families. I have prepared the land for them and it is a choice piece of land. But you will need me if you are to get there and you will need me if you are to tame it. Do you no longer want this blessing? Mahon, my child - speak unto me.

Mahon - Dear Lord, I am but a weak man and have been neglectful in my duties to call upon you. I have forgotten all that you did for me and my family and Jared and his family. How can I repent? How can I return to you and get my family to this choice land you have prepared for us? How can I be forgiven? How Lord? How is it done?

Voice of God - Your sins are forgiven you. However, fail me not again, I plead. (pause) Your future land awaits you, but you must build some boats to get there. I will place in your mind the directions for the boats you are to build. They will be small and light. If you are confused on the design, seek me out and I will come again. Pray unto me constantly and you will be filled. The time to get off this beach is at hand.

(Another Burst of light on stage and the cloud disappears and the scene is set back to previously. Enter Jared)

Jared - Dude, brother, I am so sorry. When I got back to the house and to the fridge I was just so tired. I took a three hour nap - which was probably the best nap of my life - and so I forgot to ge----. (pause) Is something wrong Mahon? You look pail, and confused. Did I miss something? Are you mad that I forgot the fruit punch? Mahon?

Mahon - We need to start building some barges. The voice of the Lord has spoken to me and we need to build some boats.

Jared - When?

Mahon - Right now.

(Mahon grabs his towel and runs off stage. Jared takes a sip of his drink and then follows Mahon off stage. Black out. Clear the stage. From the back of the House we hear men grunting and house lights come up to 50% to see men carrying the hull of a small boat through the center isle up to the stage. Stage lights come up on a very dirty tired looking Jared and Mahon. House lights fail once the boat reaches five feet from the stage)

Jared - That's right brethren - bring it all the way to the see shore. Before we put the final top on and it becomes too hard to carry. A little further. That's right, just a little further.

(all the while Mahon is pacing on the beach muttering to himself. As the boys who carried in the boat leave Jared turns to his brother...)

Jared - What seems to be bothering you? What's wrong. We built the boats exactly as you stated. The boats are no longer than the size of a tree. When the door is closed the boats as are tight as a dish. I don't think any water is getting into these girls. So what has you worried?

Mahon - I'm troubled by that last part. There is no way to see where we are going - How will we steer? If they are as tight on the water as they are on land, how will we breathe? Are we to hold our breath for a really long time? It just doesn't make sense.

Jared - Go and inquire of the Lord. He told you how to build them. Surely he knows how to solve the problems that you see.

Mahon - Maybe you are right Jared. Just like at the time of the fallen towers, your suggestion is well.

Jared - I will go with the other boys and go get another boat. Pray while we are gone and if I see you are still praying when we arrive I'll stall them with stories of how I met my wife. Who would have thought her and I would end up together.

Mahon - Very well.

(exit Jared through the house. Mahon kneels)

Mahon - Dear Lord. I have done as thou has directed. We have built these eight boats. They are according to your measurements and according the detail plans you have placed in my head. I don't mean to question your plan but I am concerned about the boats. They are tight like a dish. How are we to breathe? There are no rudders; How are we to steer?

Voice of God (off stage) - Mahon, my faithful servant, put a hole in the top and one in the bottom. When thou suffers for air, simply unstop the hole. However, when water comes in, plug the hole again. I do not wish for you to drown in a flood in the boat. As for the steering, you will be as a whale in the midst of the sea. The waves shall dash upon you and I will bring you back up. The winds have gone forth out of my mouth and shall send your boats to the promised land.

Mahon - I have one other concern. Will thou suffer us to cross these great waters in darkness or will you give us light?

Voice of God - You can have no windows because the waves will destroy them. You can't have fire because the smoke will suffocate you. I have prepared the waves and the wind. What can you prepare to light the way in your boats to the promise land? What, Mahon, will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the see? What will ye?

(black out. Clear stage of boats. Next scene starts with Mahon sitting [and only lighted] SR at a desk. Scattered on the floor are various crumpled up papers and a wastebasket over flowing.)

Mahon - Maybe that would work.

(Mahon reaches for the bottom drawer of his desk and grabs some tools. As soon as he has what he needs Mahon springs up from his desk. The lights fade as he crosses the stage and the lights come up on him ascending a hillside. When he reaches the top there is a sign with the name Shelem and an elevation marker. Mahon works quickly to "molten" 16 stones out of the hillside. Grunting and other signs of exhaustion can be heard. After the 16 have been "molted" Mahon carefully carries them down the hill to the beach. Mahon lines them up 16 in a row, kneels and prays.)

Mahon - Lord, I call upon you today, humbled by my task. I know we are to be encompassed by floods as we journey to the promise land. Please be not angry with me because of my weakness. I know I m unworthy before you. I know we came to the beach and settled without continuing inquiring of you. I know because of our fallen state that we are not as holy as you, for thou dwellest in heaven. But thou has commanded us to call upon you, so I do. For these many years, despite our sins, thou has been merciful unto us. As we traveled from the fallen towers to this beach though has looked with pity upon us. Please at this time, continue to look upon us with pity and suffer not that we should travel the raging waters in darkness.

Voice of God - What would thou have me do?

Mahon - Touch these stones with your finger and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness.

(a sudden flash of white light and then other white lights from various sides of the stage and the black out. The next scene starts with Jared and a few of the families on SL near one of the boats. Mahon runs in from SR)

Mahon - We have light! We have light!

(Mahon spills out his backpack and 16 stones filled with bright light tumble out onto the stage.)

Mahon (looking at Jared) - All we had to do was have faith, and He gave us light. He gave us His light!

(the stage dims but the 16 stones continue to shine for two seconds after black out and then they are gone as well. The curtain closes and house lights come up.)

The End

This play was inspired by these scriptures
found in the Book of Mormon.

This interpretation is my sole content and does not
reflect the opinions or doctrine of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Furthermore, this story was not inspired by this person
though he does light up Cindy's eyes
when he enters a room

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Strawberry Pie

American Canyon, CA

Amy and I made Strawberry Pie from scratch tonight. One stayed with her family and one is going to work tomorrow with me.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Holy Cross cemetary

Antioch, CA

Amy and I went and shot pictures today for my fence project.

Friday, November 6, 2009

missed reflective shot

Oakley, CA

Well today was rather disappointing when it take to trying to take this shot. Every picture is blurred in one way or another. Oh well. Better luck next time.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Brentwood, CA

I saw this yesterday and just had to go back and photograph it. I love church's that play with words on their signs.

(BTC - Amy)
(BTC - Me)

Gratitude November 5 2009 -Post Edit**

First off. I'm conducting a poll ----------->

I am grateful for opportunities to fast and pray for a purpose - and then see the results.

I am grateful for home cooked meals.

I am grateful for volleyball.

I am grateful for all of the things I learned at BYUI that weren't in the actual classroom.

I am grateful for all of my friends.

I am grateful for spell checker.

I continue to be grateful for music, though I don't have any new bands to tell you about today.

I am grateful for photography.

I am grateful for this great time of year to go hiking - when all the bears and snakes are in hiding.

I am grateful for the legacy of my parents - a legacy that inspires me to create and to share those creations with others.

I am grateful for dental trips that come in under budget, under pain, and without a lecture. I am also grateful to have a dentist finally say "It actually doesn't look that bad."

Post Edit**
I do have music to share: Kenny Chesney, The Boston Typewriter Orchestra, eighth blackbird.

I am grateful for Twitter occasionally. I wasn't able to be at a friend's funeral today but I was able to follow it on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Benecia, CA

Interesting guy I met at volleyball tonight.

Conducting a Poll

Hi. I am conducting a poll --------->

As the new meds take effect, I'm finding my head clearing a little and am now seeing that I could probably handle grad school (as long as I remain on this medication). My problem is deciding on a grad school option.

Rehabilitation Counseling: Helping people work through their new or life long disabilities. Most Rehab Counselors work in Education or for the Government. Those in education help counsel students with disabilities with education goals and assist in making accommodations for students in the classroom (some of this involves the use of assitive communication devices such as a Dynavox. Some of this involves allowing students to turn in assignments from their CF hospital room instead of in class). Working for the government is more vocational based. A rehab counselor would, for example, help a returning soldier who is missing a member of it's body to assess their skills and see what occupations would work with the skill sets that soldier had acquired prior to the amputation or brain injury.

Social Worker: This is a rather broad field. Drug and alcohol counseling, vocational training, case managing, clinical psychology, juvenile therapy, Child Protective Services, Adoption, Public Policy, treating for PTSD, and the list goes on.

Occupational Therapy: Helping children, the elderly and returning veterans with their fine motor skills used for activities for daily living: tying shoes, buttoning shirts or pants, grasping a pencil, typing at a computer, picking your nose, grasping items, brushing teeth, operating a car, taking a picture, underwater basket weaving, using a cell phone, and the list goes on and on.
The big negative of OT is the requirement to take classes in Anatomy/Physiology and chemistry - classes I've never excelled at.

For those of you that don't know - My history:

2007 - Present: I work as a Therapy Aide helping children with disabilities to receive Occupational and Physical Therapy. I also manage the office and do data entry for our "billing."
2007 - 2008: Assistant Coach to a Power Wheelchair Soccer Team (I also did some refereeing)
2006 - 2007: Disability Advocate - I worked as a liaison between students with disabilities and administration to ensure proper parking and ramps were available during construction projects
2005 - 2007: Student Director of Adaptive Activities - I started and ran the wheelchair Basketball program and expanded the adaptive cycling and bowling programs. I also created several websites and created policies (that are still used today).
2002 - 2004: Special Education Assistant: I taught students who were severely emotionally disturbed for 6 months. I spent 10 months being a 1:1 to a boy with Asperger Syndrome and I spent 8 months being a 1:1 to a boy with autism
2000 - 2002: Crossing Guard - I stood out in the street and asked drivers to try to hit me instead of the kids.
1999 and summer of 2001: Special Education Assistant - Once again I was a 1:1 with Autism and a boy with severe Cerebral Palsy
1997 - 1999: Market Research Interviewer: Would you like to take a survey?
1997 - 1998: Assistant Teacher to a rehabilitation counselor who was also the Adaptive PE teacher for a Junior College. I worked 1:1 in a gym and a pool with an elderly man who had had a stroke. I also worked in the office
1995 - 1997: Teachers Assistant: Learning Disability class where I tutored students.

Knowing all this - please vote (or you can vote and comment if you'd like)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Second Scariest picture I ever took

Oakley, CA

This is only second to this shot.

Monday, November 2, 2009

but werewolfs don't bother me

Antioch, CA

...well at least not as much as vampires do.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually

This week I have been studying the words of Elder Robert D Hales and the talk he gave in April 2009. He spoke on "Becoming a Provident Providers both Temporally and Spiritually." The first line that caught my attention was:

Today I speak to all whose freedom to choose has been diminished by the effects of ill-advised choices of the past. I speak specifically of choices that have led to... thought and action that diminish one’s sense of self-worth.

I don't know anyone whose choices haven't diminished their freedom to choose. Furthermore, I don't think I know anyone who hasn't had some experience in their life where their choices have always led to exactly perfect self worth. So in other words - he is talking to me...and everyone I know.

A little further on Elder Hales testifies not only to our trials but to the help those trials can have.

Our challenges, including those we create by our own decisions, are part of our test in mortality. Let me assure you that your situation is not beyond the reach of our Savior.

I struggle not with His reach but the reach of me. Some times, one of those decisions I seem to make is to step outside His firm grasp or I get into a hole and I don't reach up to his waiting lifeline to pull me out of the hole. I don't seem to be able to reach back. In other words, sometimes I choose to diminish my freedom that much more by making this test of mortality harder. Not in math or science or even in my photo class do I ask for harder tests. I wonder why I do that here. Maybe it's because of the next part...

We must remember that the adversary knows us extremely well. He knows where, when, and how to tempt us... we can learn to recognize the adversary’s enticements.

Every day I wonder how is it he can know me so well when I don't know myself so well. I think it is impart because I don't take the time to really research myself. I remember when I was in anger management, it was suggested I take notes. I was to write down every time I got angry and take note of what the triggers were. I did that for several months and discovered all sorts of things. When Cat and KNJ-P broke up with me, both of them sent me an e-mail (for better or worse) that pointed out somethings they had noticed about me. (quirks along with happy things right next to the things that drove us apart). My best friend and I are really good (spectacular at times) about pointing out each other's lasting qualities (both good and bad). If I spent a fraction of the time the devil does on me - well then I bet I could learn to recognize both my temptations a little better and why his enticements were so inviting when usually the end results of those enticings aren't.

I add this next part as a reminder and a reassurance:

Our success is never measured by how strongly we are tempted but by how faithfully we respond. We must ask for help from our Heavenly Father and seek strength through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. In both temporal and spiritual things, obtaining this divine assistance enables us to become provident providers for ourselves and others.

My faith is the question - not the hugeness or littleness of the temptation. I think that is good to remember. I have a friend in the hospital this week. She has incredible faith, though, that if she turns to the Lord it will all work out. I, along with her family, spent this Sunday fasting for her and her doctors. We too believe that our faith in this trial with be of more worth than the trial.

Elder Hales now turns to the meat of his talk. (I'm going to slim out the stories and just give the big points)

All of us are responsible to provide for ourselves and our families in both temporal and spiritual ways. To provide providently, we must practice the principles of provident living: joyfully living within our means, being content with what we have, avoiding excessive debt, and diligently saving and preparing for rainy-day emergencies. When we live providently, we can provide for ourselves and our families and also follow the Savior’s example to serve and bless others.

Being provident providers, we must keep that most basic commandment, “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17). Our world is fraught with feelings of entitlement ... As a result, we go into debt to buy things we can’t afford—and things we do not really need. Whenever we do this, we become poor temporally and spiritually ... Living at the subsistence level, we become depressed, our self-worth is affected, and our relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and the Lord are weakened. We do not have the time, energy, or interest to seek spiritual things....I have learned that the three most loving words are “I love you,” and the four most caring words for those we love are “We can’t afford it.”

The first thought I have to this is a comedy show. In it is a guy who is a ventriloquist. One of the characters he uses is a really old really cranky man named Walter. During one part of the sketch the audience is allowed to ask questions.
One question: "Walter what was your favorite toy as a kid?"
Walter: "Dirt (where in the audience laughs) and we were happy."
I think about that response from time to time. Has PSP or Wii or TV or iPods or anything made us happier. I remember as a kid we used to go outside and play games with our neighbors. I live in some pretty kid populated areas but I never see them outside playing. I rarely see kids crossing the street to go to a friend's place. Instead I hear kids in the store telling their parents that so-and-so has this and therefore they need one too. It scares me at times. Is my need to own destroying my desires or opportunities to serve, bless or seek spiritual guidance? Some days I think so.

Elder Hales continues:
When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, “We can’t afford it, even though we want it!” or “We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!”

Whenever we want to experience or possess something that will impact us and our resources, we may want to ask ourselves, “Is the benefit temporary, or will it have eternal value and significance?” Truthfully answering these questions may help us avoid excessive debt and other addictive behavior.

In seeking to overcome debt and addictive behaviors, we should remember that addiction is the craving of the natural man, and it can never be satisfied. It is an insatiable appetite.

It's true if you think about it. Craving more is an insatiable appetite. Where does it end?

Elder Hales concludes with:

With all the love I have in me and with the Savior’s love through me, I invite you to come unto Him and hear His words: “Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted” (2 Nephi 9:51).

I testify that the appetite to possess worldly things can only be overcome by turning to the Lord. The hunger of addiction can only be replaced by our love for Him. He stands ready to help each one of us. “Fear not,” He said, “for you are mine, and I have overcome the world” (D&C 50:41).

All week long as I have been reading this that section from Second Nephi has really spoke to me the most. Don't spend your labors for that which cannot satisfy. I wondered and continue to wonder in what areas of my life are my labors worth my devotion and what labors do I do that just don't satisfy. I think I have areas to improve on.

All Saints Day

Antioch, CA

I went to the same cemetery as last year, but it was crowded so I went across the street to a really old cemetery. I felt sorry for these Saints - their cemetery was not well tended to.