Friday, October 31, 2008

Note from a friend for my father

You, the xxx and hhh all have interesting points of Views of growing up and service [by family members] in Vietnam than I do. I just remember watching it on Walter Cronkite, and knowing some friends of my parents were serving over there. Your Dad lived and breathed it. I know it was way different than anything I can remember if that age.

In June when I was last in Saigon, (yes the locals still call Ho Chi Minh City Saigon) I walked out of the Notre Dame Cathedral ( a moving experience for a not very Methodist, Methodist) and down to the Opera House I walked a block over to a main thorough fare. As I stood on the corner and closed my eyes I could transplant every Vietnamese face with an American Face and open my eyes. In my mind I could have been standing on Canal Street! I retraced my steps. I never saw a soldier. I never saw an armed police official. I saw stores, shops, Lexus, Toyotas, Kias, and Fords. I saw people buying stuff and wearing normal clothes.

My wife's uncle did 3 tours. He was a 5'3" tall 124 lb Marine. 3 tours as a tunnel rat. I told my wife's uncle this same story. I told him 32 years after the "fall of Saigon" its damn obvious we won the war. So if you happen to talk to your dad about that time. Tell him you know this young'un in eastern NC. Tell him I have been twice. Tell him I was welcome with open arms. Tell him we won that damn war.

I went over and told my Dad. He has been doing better recently, still awake at 8:30 p.m. and very coherent. The message made him smile, though he said it was a terrible thing we were sucked into the war, he was glad that we were reconciled at the end.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

SLD Update

I've been told that as I close on three years using the Shangri la Diet, I owe an update. Officially, my weight went from 245 lbs down and then stabilized at about 189 for a couple years. That is pretty much true, though the past few months my weight has slipped. It is now 168 or so, though I plan to stop the slippage.

My exercise program and the unrelated rotator cuff rehabilitation are both going well. I'm still making progress in about 90 minutes a week [link]. I eat a lot of yogurt, some fruit, eggs and flax bread, simple and short food.

So, I still drink extra light olive oil, it still surpresses my set point, and keeping my weight down is still an automatic process that doesn't take any will power, like breathing. I'm still gaining strength (though I'm by no means strong yet), in a way that leaves me lots of time for better things like long walks with my wife. Especially at this time of year, there is nothing better.

I'm almost 53 and just about where I had planned to be when I turned 35. So, do I have anything to be proud of? Not really. But I'm happy to be here, even if I'm a little late.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Overcoming Through Christ: Grace v. Works misses the point

My prior post may have been too short to make the real point. I may also have used the wrong words. What KH said made me realize that it is not a conflict between grace and works. Instead, it is a matter of trust ("trust" may be a better word than "surrender"), reliance and active faith.

Grace is a power greater than ourselves that responds to our trust and surrender. It requires our reliance and it requires active faith. Is active faith or exercised faith "works"? I guess, kind of. Does grace demand that of us? Absolutely. Grace demands reliance and faith. But it is the power of God that saves when we can not save ourselves. Obviously that is something greater than we are.

Thus we overcome the world by faith in Christ, and in turn are overcome by the grace of God. But we start unable to overcome the world, to overcome our weaknesses, by ourselves. So while we must act, it is not the acts that save us, it is a power greater than we possess that brings salvation.

That is the key point, and why the grace vs. works argument misses the point altogether and creates a false perspective.

At least that is what I'm thinking right now.

Quoting an excellent example:

"God, I offer myself to Thee -- to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Having Overcome Through Christ

I was teaching a lesson on the plan of salvation and Kevin Hinckley made the point that the phrase "who aovercome by faith" [50–70] is a matter of surrender, not accomplishment. That is a profound merger of a twelve step concept (KH was a professional counselor and now volunteers his time to coordinate a twelve step program for the Church locally) and the concept of grace.

I'm still digesting that thought, one which subtly sidesteps the question of works and grace for a question of faith and surrender.

There are two basic twelve step concepts here. The first is that life is beyond our control and our weaknesses are more than we can handle; that of ourselves, we can not do it.

The second is that through repentance and surrender to God, we can be saved -- if we follow-through with the necessary effort and changes (though they would not put it that way). It is packaged much differently, which has made me wonder about the differences the approach makes.

Summarized, the initial steps are:
  1. Admit or recognize that you are powerless
  2. Come to believe that a power greater than yourself can save you.
  3. Make a decision to turn your life over to God.
  4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory.
  5. Admit to God, yourself and another human being the exact nature of your wrongs.
From an LDS viewpoint that would be:
  1. Realize that works alone can not save you.
  2. Have faith in Christ
  3. Act on the faith by deciding to turn your life over to God
  4. Be honest, look at yourself through a lens of honesty
  5. Confess your sins
  6. Repent
Etc. (after all, there are twelve steps -- and I'm only paraphrasing them).

Wikipedia summarizes the full twelve steps as follows:
  • admitting that one cannot control one's addiction or compulsion;
  • recognizing a greater power that can give strength;
  • examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced member);
  • making amends for these errors;
  • learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior;
  • helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions.

A twelve step program is a process of the knowledge and works that must be accomplished in order to rely entirely on grace.

That we may overcome through Christ is how a religious person might put it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Am David/North to Freedom

I Am David

I Am David (2004)
Starring: Roberto Attias, Elisabetta Bartolomei Rating: Format: DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

North to Freedom

by Anne Holm (Author) "David lay quite still in the darkness, listening to the men's low muttering..." (more)

4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Win and I just saw this again, thanks to Netflicks, for the first time with Rachel. She had never seen it.

When I was very young, my teacher read this to us. It was published originally in 1965.

The movie shares much with the book, though it has its differences. It was moving. Loss, love, endurance, hope.

For a quick joke.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nocona, other reflections

There is a small town in Texas, Nocona (home of Nocona Boot for the real cowboys out there) that had a park with all of the old playground equipment that has been taken out of every other park.

We used to take Jessica and Heather there and let them play. It was a drive (made a nice day trip) and we had to watch them like hawks (there is a reason that all that stuff has been taken out of parks).

I was back for a deposition. They've revitalized the park, much of the equipment is gone.

Still had teeter totters, some of the climbing equipment, but the rolling barrels are gone, so is the large flower for climbing (just a pole with flower pods sticking out from it that went about twelve feet into the air) and some other things that were dear to my heart (even if I never actually let the kids play on them).

They really spent time and money cleaning things up, repainting and putting in new style plastic equipment. Life is change.

Had someone ask me if I believed in racism. I'm a lawyer. I do trial work. I'm not sure "believe in" is the right term, but I see people reacting differently on the basis of race and class.

It has been interesting to learn about and discover, and at times, the two combine in ways that are often toxic or harmful.

Just thinking about that tonight.

Final note.

My eight year old was really happy about an activity and some things we had done together. She looked at me and said, "You know dad, you are the best dad I know. Why, on a scale of 0 to a 100, with a bad dad being a 0, I'll bet you are at least a 75." I told my wife about it yesterday, she is still laughing about it tonight.

Rachel still thinks she has given me the best possible compliment ever.

Me, I just remember that she may be very, very bright, but she is still eight years old. ;)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

esōteron tou katapetasmatos -- interesting links

A great post at:

Esoteric, then, in its original biblical meaning, refers to the teachings and practices done within the veil of the Temple.

As was

my word should be good enough. If someone asks me to do something, I should be able to say, "Yes," or "No," and have that be enough.

A poem


“Why did it take billions of years for God to create the earth? Why not just millions of years, or even better, why not just one second?” It often comes down to the idea that God commands and waits until he is obeyed.


The Bible is Where the Wild Things Are

Cutting out cable televsion

We had a merger and a swap and as a result, our cable company was taken over by one that refuses to carry conference. They then wanted to jump our rates. The guy seemed outraged when I called to cancel, as if they had some right to force us to stay with them.

The new company required that we get cable TV if we wanted to get cable internet. While we were at it, we went with Sunrocket. When they went out of business we switched to our cable provider. Well, their rates went up and we just don't watch much TV. The phone was switched to Vonage and we just cut the cable and went with Netflicks. For about seven dollars a month we can get most of the children's programming, all the movies we feel like watching, and we can go to for any television shows we really want.

Which basically meant my wife watched House twice ;) and I saw part of my first Heros episode (hey, now I've seen the show at least once -- and I like it).

Our bill basically dropped by two thirds, for what has turned out to be better service, all in all. I'm surprised how much better the sound is with Vonage.

So, we go shopping for food once a week, and if we don't have it, we just wait for the next week. Each week I look for something around the house to fix. Each week we try to reduce expenses and find a better way to do something.

But this week or so, the way to improve things has been cutting out the cable television, and everyone is happier.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mormon Matters Posts

I'm also at a group blog, Mormon Matters. Some of my posts there have included:
I've other posts there as well, but these cover the core of my perspectives that shape how I view the world as a context for the trials and difficulties that people sometimes face.

Next, I'll blog on how we cut out cable tv and other things we've done to save money.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Dying in the ICU // What Sarah Said//Love is Watching Someone Die

Here is the video, What Sarah Said/Love is Watching Someone Die

Here is the interpretation

My wife pointed this out to me, it really grabbed me, that sometimes, love is watching someone die.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Some personal essays // A talk

I've put them at:

As for something a little less personal, a talk I gave for Father's Day, years ago, follows:


This Father's day I was assigned to speak on honoring our
Heavenly Father. When one speaks of 'honor' one thinks of respect,
integrity, virtue, regard and devotion. Each of these words are
synonyms of one type or another for the word "honor." To honor is
to respect, regard and to be devoted. In regards to devotion and
honor, the highest form of honor is discipleship -- being a true
believer and follower of the one honored.

To be a disciple of God we must honor him by having love.
As Christ said:

St. John 13:35

By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye
have love, one to another.

Not only is love a test for discipleship, it is a commandment.
The Lord told us:

St. John 15:12

This is my commandment, that ye love one
another as I have loved you.

We are commanded to love each other with the same love that God
shows to us. This is a commandment that is essential to our salvation.
If we are to be saved in the kingdom of God we must press forward

Alma 13:29

Having faith on the Lord, having a hope that ye shall
receive eternal life; having the love of God always in
your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day
and enter into his rest.

If we do these things, we will have the Spirit of God, and

Galatians 5:22

*** fruit of the Spirit is love ***
And, of course, life eternal.

As I have reflected on showing our Honor to God through being
his disciples and seeking his Spirit, I came to understand that we
could judge whether we were disciples of Christ, whether we honored
our Heavenly Father, by whether we were motivated by love or whether
we were motivated by something else.

We choose to honor God or to honor Satan by whether we choose to
love. If we love, we are the Children of God. If we love, then Heavenly
Father is our Heavenly Father and God is our God.

The question we should then ask is what is that love that honors
God and makes us Children of God? It is love that

1 Cor 13

4} vaunteth not itself
is not puffed up
5} is not easily provoked
thinketh no evil
4} is kind

It is the love that grants the fruit of the Spirit in our lives
and the fruits of love. We can thus know whether or not we have the
Spirit of God by the fruits our lives show. St. Luke 6:44

In our homes and at work, are we easily provoked, do we think evil
or good of people, are we puffed up -- vaunting ourselves -- or are we
humble, and over all, are we kind? These are questions we need to ask

Does the Spirit make known the truths of God in our hearts, teaching
us love and kindness or do we nourish something else? Do we live our
lives honoring God by love, or do we do God dishonor by rejecting love
and holding to something else?

Remember D & C 76:116 concerning the gifts and fruits of the Spirit,
the mysteries of God:

Neither is man capable to make them known,
for they are only to be seen and understood
by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God
bestows on those who love him and purify
themselves before him.

Do we love God, honor him and purify ourselves before him? Are we
kind and Godly or harsh and devilish?

Alma 5:40-41

For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh
from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.
Therefore, if a man bringeth forth good works, he
hearkeneth unto the voice of the good shepherd,
and he doth follow him; but whosoever bringeth
forth evil works, the same becometh a child of the
devil, for he hearkeneth unto his voice, and doth
follow him.

Of all the people we look at, of all the people we judge, the most
important person to evaluate is ourself. Looking at someone else and
jumping to conclusions about them is an act of pride. Instead, we need
to look at ourselves and ask if we are kind or if we are prideful --
looking inward is the only direction of judgment that will further our

We need to ask if we hearken unto the voice of God and do the things
that would honor God, remembering him as our Father.

Alma 5
6-7} And now behold, I say unto you, my brethern
you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently
retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers?
Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance
[God's] mercy and long suffering towards them? And
moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance
that he has delivered their souls from hell?
Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened
them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God.
Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless
their souls were illuminated by the light of the ever-
lasting word; ***

When the day of judgment comes

19-20}I say unto you, can you look up to God at that
day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you
can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon
your countenances?

27-28}Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before
God? Could you say *** that ye have been sufficiently
humble? ***
Behold, are ye stripped of pride? ***

30} *** is there one among you that doth make mock of
his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?

54-56}If ye persist in wickedness
54} supposing you are better one than another
55 turning your backs upon the poor and the needy
withholding your substance from them
56 [then ye] shall be hewn down and cast into the fire ***

Are we humble, filled with memories of the goodness of God and his
love or are we filled with pride? Are we fit to remain the children of
God or are we fit to be hewn down and cast into the fire?

Are we children of God? For

Alma 5:39

And now, if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold
are ye? Behold, I say unto you that the devil is your shepherd and ye
are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? *** whosoever denieth this
is a liar and a child of the devil.

Are we disciples of God? Have we been born again as his children.
Do we honor God by our love? Are we kind, patient, charitable and easily
entreated? Are we patient and loving? Do we find assurance or worry in
the words of Alma, when he says:

Alma 34:28

And now behold my beloved brethern, I say unto you, do not suppose
[prayer] is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away
the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart
of your substance, if you have, to those who stand in need -- I say unto
you, if ye do not any of these things, behold your prayer is vain, and
availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith.

Can we look and see that our Faith is made alive by our works
(James 2)? Are we made manifest as the children of God who honor their

1 John 3:10-11

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children
of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God,
neither he that loveth not his brother.

For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning,
that we should love one another.


For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we
should love one another.

1 John 4:7-8

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and
every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.

We are the children of he whom we honor and obey. If we love one
another, in word, in thought and in deed, then we are the children of God.

By honoring our Father in Heaven, by being born again in Christ and
then feasting on the fruit of the love of God, we become heirs of
salvation (cf I Nephi 8:10-35; 15:36).

St. Luke 6:35

But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend hoping for
nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be
the children of the Highest: for he is kind ***

If we do this, then

Romans 8: 16-17

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that
we are the children of God:

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs
with Christ;

Brothers and Sisters, we must seek to honor God and to love our
fellowmen. In our patience, our thoughts, our kindness and our love,
as we are of one mind, having compassion one of another, being tender-
hearted, courteous, seeking peace (cf 1 Peter 3: 8-11) we sanctify the
Lord in our hearts, (vs 15) and our hearts in the Lord, (1 Peter 4:8)
and through our charity prevent or cure a multitude of sins.

Without love, we have no faith and our hope is vain (Moroni 7:44).
But inasmuch as we are meek, suffereth long, and are filled with the
power of God through the Holy Ghost, we will have love, and it will
be well with us in the last day (Moroni 7:44-47).

Moroni 7:48

Wherefore, my beloved [brothers and sisters], pray unto
[our] Father with all energy of heart, that ye may be filled
with this love, which [God] hath bestowed upon all who are true
followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the
[children] of God *** that we may have this hope, that we may
be purified even as he is pure,

This is my hope, my prayer and my testimony,

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Rhadi Ferguson

Rhadi Ferguson is an interesting topic. If U.S. Judo were going to adopt a "best practices" approach model based on Cuba, Rhadi would be the person to do it. He has taken the rules a football or wrestling coach uses to find success and applied them to Judo.

SWOT analysis, scouting (where would football be without scouting?), tactical and strategic analysis, curriculum and development training, and more, he actually can articulate and transfer it, not just have an intuitive understanding. He started by just telling his story (in The Grind), but expanded by developing the ability to relate each of the parts of what he did to make it to the Olympics.

He now has material on grip fighting, conditioning, strength training, scouting, development, etc. He has also coached a number of people who have competed in the Olympics (not only in Judo, but other sports as well) and is currently coaching the national team in the Bahamas.

But I thought I would write about one of his items of advice that I like the least -- and where, of course, he is right. That is about training at 5:30 a.m.

If you are a guy, not using steroids ("gear"), your natural levels of testosterone are highest at that time of day and you will get the best strength results and best recovery by training when levels are highest. I suspect it is how Rhadi got so strong without using drugs.

If you want to lose weight, your insulin/fat cycle/weight loss results will be best with aerobic exercise in the early morning, fasting (i.e. before you eat anything). Ever wonder about the drug free female fitness competitors? How do they build muscle and shred down to what looks like zero body fat? They all use early morning fasting aerobic exercise.

So, assuming you want to effectively build strength and drop fat without drugs, getting up and out and at it at 5:00 or 5:30 a.m. every day is an essential at some point. You should be lifting, sprinting and training that early five or six days a week. When I did 5:30 a.m. karate in law school and then after Courtney died, both times I lost weight as long as the practices kept up at that time.

There are other good reasons to follow his advice, but the bottom line physiologic facts pretty much are what they are.

When you think about that, ask yourself, how many coaches or instructors are there who insist that any serious athlete hit a 5:30 a.m. work out? Seems like every elite swimming coach does. Surprisingly, a number of elite skaters just happen to work out then. Every national level drug free fitness athlete. Interesting, isn't it?

How many Judo competitors follow Rhadi's 5:30 a.m. advice? Ever wonder why Jimmy Pedro is running at early a.m. hours and is still as trim and thin as when he competed. Think about it.

I'll be back on my normal topics next post, I just had about all of the debates I could take. Bangs in the eyes or really bad cosmetic surgery. I'm not sure I want to have to take a choice between the two right now, though they are picking up and doing better as the night goes on.

Update. I've changed up my personal website material on Judo and added three essays on Rhadi Ferguson and I've actually spoken with him a couple of times. I'm outside of his market (I'm a 52 year old attorney with bad rotator cuffs), but I find I really admire him. I've bought some of his material and sent it to nephews of mine, and I've learned some things that had nothing to do with Judo.

One interesting thing is that he does not hesitate to use examples of himself doing poorly to illustrate a point. Comparing the video of him in The Experience to where he got at a later state (he barely missed being on the Olympic team that go around, four years later he made it) shows just what a difference his adjustments made. Much of what he is trying to communicate is how he adjusted and how he changed, to encourage others to apply those lessons in their lives.

Which is why I've found the materials good for relatives who probably will never practice Judo. They will practice and will live life.

Final note, I've decided to open comments on this post in case anyone has something to add or say on the topic of Rhadi.