The significance of the pickle…

The First Presidency’s message for February was written by President Eyring about how conversion is much more than having a testimony.  To teach from this message, he referenced a General Conference talk Elder Bednar gave that used the “parable of the pickle” to teach that conversion is a  long process requiring full immersion in the gospel to be successful.

Much like you have to carefully clean and prepare a cucumber and then completely immerse it in the salt rind to pickle it, we have to be cleaned and prepared and then filly immersed in the gospel to attain successful conversion.  We can’t just go to church on Sundays and follow the commandments and expect to become Christ-like.  We must fully dive into the gospel and make it every part of our life.  That’s when conversion happens.

A sigh of relief all across the internet…

If I understand the reports correctly, the FCC voted on Thursday that broadband ISPs were common carriers that could be regulated using Title II.  The importance of this decision can’t be overstated.  The internet is what it is today because it has been left alone to grow independent from governmental or commercial regulation or interference.

If ISPs were allowed to use their captive markets to monetize delivery of content, it would have harmed not just the customers of the ISPs but the entire ecosystem of the internet.  The internet is probably the purest example we have ever had of a truly market driven economy anywhere and anywhen.  The success of any idea is determined directly by consumers.

While Thursday’s decision by the FCC is reassuring, the internet faces other threats which we have to continue to be vigilant for.  The growth and success of the recent Arab Spring movement is directly connected to the internet.  But other governments continue to try to manipulate the internet to further their own interests; most significantly, the governments of China, the US and North Korea have attacked internet users and continue to do so.  We need to rebuff the efforts of these governments and protect this valuable global resource.

Don’t over-think WordPress…

A day or two ago, I found a very inspirational clip on youtube that I wanted to include in a post.  Since I hadn’t done this before, I read about it in the WordPress Codex, which said that when you’re watching a youtube video, just copy and paste the url onto a separate line in the WordPress post editor window and WordPress will take the url and do whatever is needed to embed it in your post.  I thought that sounded just too easy to actually work.  Instead, I hunted around the youtube page looking for a link that would create the code to embed the video.  When that didn’t work, I tried enclosing it with an embed shortcode.  When that didn’t work either, I went back and tried exactly what the Codex said to do and it worked perfectly.  Just goes to show that reading (and following) the instructions gets you a lot further than just trying stuff on your own.

Using media with WordPress has been rather clumsy historically and it’s reassuring to see this weakness being addressed.

It’s also good to be reminded that the Codex is a useful resource when you need help with WordPress.  I’ve amassed a collection of bookmarks to topics within the Codex; I just need to remember to use those bookmarks to check the Codex first and trust that it will point me in the right direction.

How to win in life…

In a post-game interview high school football player Apollos Hester not only tells us why they won the game but how to win in life…

(Apollos Hester plays for the Patriots high school football team in Austin Texas, interviewed on WC News Austin, posted on youtube.com, listed as a top 10 viral hit of 2014 in People Magazine.)

This guy is the real deal.  Even if you start out slow, you just have to finish fast (& hard.) And do it with a smile on your face.  That’s how to be a winner in life.

Follow the Prophets

The First Presidency message for January is written by President Monson about a crucial turning point in his life between World War II and the Korean War.  President Monson found himself in a situation that I imagine many men found themselves in at that time.  My father has told me of his fears of being pulled back into the infantry and sent to the front lines in Korea so I can empathize with President Monson and the mindset he was in at that time.

Seeing war looming in Korea, President Monson was doing everything he could to qualify for an officer’s commission in the Navy.  Serving as an officer is vastly better than as a non-commissioned officer or sailor.  After much effort, he received the letter offering him as an ensign in the Naval Reserve.  Shortly thereafter, President Monson was called as a councilor in his ward’s bishopric.  Knowing that he couldn’t serve both his calling and the Naval Reserve, he wrestled with the decision for some time.  Eventually he consulted with Elder Harold B Lee, who had been his stake president and now was in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  President Monson shared how much he valued the commission and his difficulty deciding whether to choose the bishopric or the Naval Reserve.

I am surprised at how clear and definite Elder Lee’s counsel to President Monson was. Elder Lee said “Here’s what you should do, Brother Monson.  You write a letter to the Bureau of Naval Affairs and tell them that because of your call as a member of the bishopric, you can’t accept that commission in the US Naval Reserve.  Then write to the commandant of the Twelfth Naval District in San Francisco indicating that you would like to be discharged from the reserve.”

Brother Monson followed Elder Lee’s counsel and declined the commission and requested a discharge from the reserve.  President Monson’s discharge from the Naval Reserve was in the last group processed before the outbreak of the Korean War. His headquarters outfit was activated.  Six weeks after he was called to be a counselor in the bishopric, he was called as bishop of his ward.

President Monson is certain he would not be President today if he hadn’t prayed about that decision and not come to appreciate that the wisdom of God often appears as foolishness to men.  But the greatest single lesson we can learn in our mortal lives is that when God speaks and his children obey, they will always be right.

Not many church members have the opportunity to receive one-on-one  from an Apostle as President Monson did.  But we have many opportunities to hear the prophets teach.  The Church has many programs to spread the words of the prophets, including monthly messages from the First Presidency such as this one to broadcasts and recordings of the semi-annual Church conferences and other events that Apostles speak at.

Procrastination & other expressions of anxiety

Before I get into my diatribe, I have to share this joke:  I’ve been meaning to post about procrastination but never got around to it…

I’ve had a problem with procrastination all my life.  I remember as a child staying up late many nights doing homework that had to be turned in the next day.  But I’ve never understood why I procrastinate.  I’ve always felt powerless trying to overcome it.

Recently, my therapist and I have touched on my issues with procrastination while discussing other stuff.  Her comments have prompted me to dig a little deeper into why I procrastinate and it looks like the more detrimental episodes of procrastination result from anxiety and avoiding stuff that provokes anxiety.

That makes sense historically; I remember one term in college where I flunked one course where the final grade was determined by the term project and another class that I got a C because the final grade was split 50/50 between exams and homework.  I was so anxious about my homework that I couldn’t bring myself to go in the labs to work on it. My grades mystified my professors and teaching assistants.  My exam scores were so much higher than everyone else’s, they deformed the curve so much it couldn’t be used to assign grades across the class.  Given my exam grades, they couldn’t fathom how I could possibly earn only a C final grade for the course.  If I turned in virtually any homework, I ought to have a B and given that I could score so high on the exams, I couldn’t possibly be that wrong on the homework.  The problem was that I couldn’t get myself to do the homework – My anxiety made it impossible to face the labs where it’s done.

This is a very insidious kind of problem to have because if something provokes anxiety, procrastinating  about it will make the problem worse which will cause even more anxiety.   It’s a vicious circle that starts almost before you know it; certainly before you can head it off.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to help me derail the procrastination when it becomes a problem.  But I haven’t come up with anything that will work in spite of the anxiety that triggers the procrastination.  So I’ll explore ways to deflate my anxiety that might enable me to oversome the resulting procrastination.  It seems like the anxiety is a bigger nut to crack than procrastination.  But it seems that I can’t face the procrastination when I’m severely anxious.  So I need to defuse the anxiety so that I have a clear enough mind to handle the procrastination.

Solving this problem might also help my daughter that appears to have inherited my anxiety tendencies.  Her anxieties can completely overwhelm her so much that she can’t get out of bed. Now that I see my own anxieties inside me, I need to let her know that she’s not alone, it’s not her failing and she can find a way to be okay with it in the long run.